by Paul Golini: Chair, BILD



The year of the condo

You'll have to excuse me for borrowing a headline from BILD's press release last Friday, but there really is no other way to describe 2011 - a year that will long be known for its phenomenal success in the high-rise sector.

 Some experts, like RealNet Canada Inc. president George Carras, are referring to the 28,000 new condominium units sold in the GTA last year as a market shift, and I couldn't agree more. What we're seeing today is a huge surge in the demand for high-rise housing, likely the result of a combination of factors.

Many people will quickly point to the shortage in land supply in the low-rise market, prompting a record-high gap in new high-rise ($434,322) and low-rise ($545,372) homes, thus driving new home buyers to seek out the most affordable homes to match their lifestyle. Others will credit the towers' superior locations and the popularity of the amenity-rich condo lifestyle. Of course, the modern design and quality of these units also comes to mind.

No matter what attracts you the most about these soaring structures, the 130 new openings in 2011 have pushed the high-rise market in the GTA to grab 62 per cent of the new homes market share, which is remarkable when you consider the fact that just 10 years ago, condominium units accounted for only one out of every four new homes sold.

This is looking rather positive on the builders' side as we go through a difficult, complicated approval system to create every development project, with condominiums carrying the most efficient form of approvals in the system today.

This means faster approvals and quicker openings, which is important because according to Carras, the GTA only has 6.5 months of active supply left in the high-rise sector. That's not a lot, and includes all those cranes you see as you drive through the City of Toronto and into York Region -which saw high-rise sales more than double over 2010.

Paul Golini Jr. is Chair of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). You can read more from Paul and BILD by visiting the Association's official blogTwitterFacebook and Youtube accounts.