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September 23, 2016 in Buying Toronto Real Estate, Canadian Real Estate Market, For Sale By Owner, Location, location, location, New in New Homes, Pay what you want listings, Real Estate Investments, Save on Comission Fees, Selling Toronto Real Estate, Sold Watch, Toronto MLS Listings, Toronto MLS Sales, Toronto Neighbourhoods, Toronto Real Estate Trends, Toronto Real Estate Update, What's next (in real estate) | Permalink
Downtown Oshawa is looking up
Though transition has been slow, signs point to a business and entertainment revival.
Oshawa's downtown is area in transition, where boarded-up buildings and empty storefronts share street space with busy upscale restaurants and ambitious restoration projects. Decay and degeneration is giving way to new development and a vibrancy not seen since the '70s.
The signs are everywhere. Among them:
- The year-and-a-half-old General Motors Centre for sports and entertainment.
- Construction of a new courthouse.
- Restoration of the 1919 Regent Theatre, set to reopen this fall for live theatre and concerts.
- The University of Ontario Institute of Technology's plans to move its faculty of education to a former bank building next month.
- A just-announced $45 million hotel and conference centre.
The conference centre, to be built on a parking lot at Queen's Market Square, is "very significant," says Councillor Louise Parkes, who landed the deal by taking the developer on a tour "to show them we were serious about downtown." "This may be the domino that makes the rest fall into place," says Parkes, chair of the development services committee.
It's a viewpoint challenged by GM's recently announced plan to close the truck plant in the city, throwing thousands of people out of work.
Last month's year-to-date total of more than $242 million for building permits was the strongest in Oshawa's history, Parkes notes. "We are booming."
But more than that, "we're bringing high-quality businesses back into downtown."
Joe Bhola represents the new face of downtown Oshawa. Attracted by the city's efforts to revive it and "so many offices with working women," he and his wife Anjali opened Rheanna on Simcoe St. S. eight months ago. Selling high-end European fashions and jewellery, the boutique has been well-received since being officially opened by Mayor John Gray, Bhola says.
"We're doing well. There's a good office crowd and good traffic here. That's why I came – I love this area."
The Bholas' store is what downtown development officer David Tuley calls the "authentic environments" where today's consumers want to shop and socialize. That's one of the driving forces behind the new wave of business and commerce in the heart of the city, he says.
Like other urban centres, Oshawa fell victim to big box stores and indoor malls that pulled retailers out to the suburbs, says Tuley, who was hired two years ago to stickhandle the city's revitalization plan developed in 2005.
Proof of its turnaround is in the numbers: the commercial vacancy rate that was 28.6 per cent in 1996 now sits at 14.5 per cent. A year ago, there was more than 200,000 square feet of large office space sitting empty; today it's down to 40,000.
"It's been amazing," says Tuley. "It's an excellent sign." He thinks it's Oshawa's turn to blossom.
"The last bastion of development in the west GTA was Burlington. We're the final frontier, the largest urban downtown in the north and east GTA. We're still affordable and it's easy to come in and get your piece of the action. Compared to the rest of the GTA, we're kind of a golden nugget."
The road (or subway) to riches
Will your home one day be on a subway or major transit line?
The old real estate axiom about location, location, location has a well-known addendum: being near a subway or major transit route can instantly increase what your home is worth without you having to do anything at all.
But can you tell where they're going to build or if the place you're looking to buy will one day find itself on a subway or major transit line? The answer is yes, if you believe government plans about where officials hope to put the new routes.
Adding transit takes years of planning and a commitment of millions of dollars and all of it has to be done well in advance. That means the powers-that-be know where they'll be putting the new tracks and trains as much as a decade or more before a shovel actually hits the ground.
One of those locations could be along waterfront-adjacent Cherry Street, which would make the folks on Condo Row lick their collective chops at the thought of bulging resale values.
"Streetcar access is phenomenal in terms of adding to value and presence ... people want to be on a streetcar line," said David Jackson, a Toronto urban planner.
Plans for the new tracks could start as early as spring 2009, while the underground expansion of the Don Mills subway line all the way to Morningside could have homeowners on the north side of town dreaming of dollars, though there's no official date for that project to commence.
So just how much of a bottom line difference are we talking about here?
"Easily thirty to fifty thousand dollars," confirmed Toronto realtor Janice Mackie. "Thirty thousand dollars is a parking spot ... you don't have to purchase that."
What's more, given the constant rise in gas prices and the GTA's traffic volume, the Better Way may soon be looking even better still.
And while the two mentioned above are among the more central and immediate transit expansion schemes in the works, there are dozens of others being hatched around the GTA and Ontario as well.
Gas prices affecting cottage prices
Higher gas prices and an uncertain economic outlook means cottage country is becoming further out of reach for some buyers - even as prices soften for some Canadian recreational properties. After a decade of substantial price increases, a significant jump in listings on the market and fewer buyers have resulted in starting prices that have started to decline in some areas, according to a report by ReMax Ontario Atlantic Canada released today.
Of 45 Canadian markets surveyed, ReMax says 67% reported falling sales.
While most markets saw prices remain flat or increase slightly, some areas are starting to see decreases for the first time. Starting prices in popular Ontario towns such as Haliburton, Bancroft and Parry Sound were down from 10 to 20 per cent, according to ReMax.
In Haliburton, a starter waterfront cottage can be bought for $275,000, down from $350,000 last year. In Parry Sound, a similar cottage can be purchased for $180,000, down from $200,000.
“It’s been a sluggish market. I think given the economic conditions you have to have your head in the sand if you don’t acknowledge that there’s a correction around the corner,” says Muskoka-based realtor Anita Latner.
With the Ontario economy slipping into what may be a recession as the manufacturing sector takes a major hit from layoffs and downsizing, purchases such as vacation homes are typically the first to go.
Calgary is in a buyer's market
Sellers need to pay attention to the current market
Calgary's MLS listings are taking twice as long to sell over last year, according to figures released by the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB). Calgary's MLS listings remain elevated for April indicating two things: Calgary is in a buyer's market, and secondly, sellers need to pay attention and price their homes appropriately for today's market and ensure that their homes are well presented to encourage buyers.
Single family Calgary metro new listings added for the month of April totaled 3,377, an increase of 8.9 per cent from April 2007 when new listing added totaled 3,100 and a decrease of 3.3 per cent from last month, when new listings coming to the market were 3,493. Calgary metro condominium new listings added in April 2008 were 1,493, showing an increase of 29 per cent from the 1,157 new condominium listings added in April 2007 and a decrease of 4.4 per cent from last month's condominium listings of 1,561.
Single family Calgary metro sales for the month of April came in at 1,363, showing a decrease of 34.7 per cent from the 2,086 sales in April 2007 and showing a decrease of 3.9 per cent from last month's sales of 1,418. Condominium sales for the month of April were 581, a decrease of 30.8 per cent from the 839 condominium sales recorded in April 2007 and showing a slight increase of 2.8 percent over the 565 condominiums changing hands in March 2008.
"Given the hectic pace of the resale market in the last few years, many buyers are breathing a sigh of relief. There are more listings on the market, which means more choice for the buyers, with more inventory, buyers are taking their time to find the home that is right for them at the price that is right for them. What that means however, for a seller; you now need to pay more attention to how you price your home. The market is no longer bearing the prices that it did a year ago. A professional Realtor who understands what is going on in the market can help the seller with all of these issues in order to more effectively sell a home", said Calgary Real Estate Board President, Ed Jensen.
The median price of a single family Calgary metro home in April 2008 was $420,000 showing a decrease of 2.8 percent over April 2007, when the median price was $432,000 and showing no change from last month when the median price was also $420,000. All Calgary Metro MLS(R) statistics include properties listed and sold only within Calgary's City limits. The median price is the price that is midway between the least expensive and most expensive home sold in an area during a given period of time. During that time, half the buyers bought homes that cost more than the median price and half bought homes for less than the median price.
The average price of a single family Calgary metro home in April 2008 was $474,564, showing almost no change from last year, up just 0.1 per cent from April 2007, when the average price was $474,250. The average price of a Calgary metro condominium was $312,586, showing a 5.1 per cent decrease from April 2007 when the average price was $329,429. Average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differentials between geographical areas.
Canada's best places to live
Toronto ranks as number 51
The third annual list of Canada's Best Places to Live has just been published by Canadianbusiness.com. The list is designed to help measure as many different aspects of a community living as possible. You can use their findings in several ways. Perhaps you're planning to relocate. Perhaps you're looking to invest in real estate. Maybe you simply want to know how your community stacks up against its neighbours. Whatever your situation, there are some interesting facts here.
They've taken weather into account, of course. Jobs and home prices, too. They've also looked at crime, the availability of doctors, how easy it is to walk or bike to work, and more than a dozen other factors.
Unlike most listings of best cities, their ratings aren't about who has the best scenery, or the best restaurants, or the best beaches. Instead, they've tried to suss out the factors — many of them quiet and unobtrusive — that make a community a good place to live. Where a city ends up on their list is not based upon judges' opinions or popularity polls. It's based on hard numbers. That means their Best Places to Live rankings are a relatively unbiased guide to Canadian communities.
This year, they provide you with information on 154 communities, up from 123 last year. Thanks to improved sources of data, they are now able to break out metropolitan areas into separate listings for communities of 100,000 or more. So while they previously ranked all the various communities within the Greater Toronto Area as one unit, they can now separately rate locales such as Mississauga, Markham and Oakville that used to be lumped together under the Toronto label. Similarly, they can break Vancouver down into separate entries for the City of Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and other surrounding communities.
To make their listings as useful as possible, they included factors such as air quality, in their 16 indicators for each community. The maximum number of points a community could earn was 104.
Ontario's Top Ten Towns
Real estate expert Don Campbell and the Real Estate Investment Network have just released the top ten Ontario towns for real estate investors. Compiled from the research conducted by REIN, the top towns for real estate investment are:
1. Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge - Comprising Canada's Technology Triangle, the region is quickly becoming known worldwide as a competitive area in which to build a high-tech business. The area is so strong economically that the Real Estate Investment NetworkTM research team has dubbed it the "Economic Alberta of Ontario".
2. Barrie and Orillia (tie) - Barrie is an attractive community for people seeking the nearness and vitality of Toronto but with a slower pace of life. Orillia, with a rising population and expansion of post-secondary institutions, has tremendous opportunities for investors to provide student housing.
3. Whitby, Ajax and Pickering -The ripple outward from the Toronto toward this region has been picking up steam over the previous decade. However, until quite recently much of this demand increase has been from commuters wishing to locate in a lower housing-cost region of the GTA. Now, the area is attracting an increasingly diverse list of local employers.
4. Markham - Markham is known as the high-tech capital of Canada, with over 900 advanced technology and life science companies. This influx has led to the area outperforming many other areas of the province, in terms of both economy and real estate.
5. Hamilton and Brantford (tie) - Hamilton is transforming itself into a more diversified economy. A revitalization of key areas, a soon-to-be-opened new transportation route, and a stock of older, quality homes, will help keep Hamilton on the top ten list for many years to come. Brantford is strategically located and offers affordable housing. The multiple satellite secondary education campuses already located in the city provide a vibrant and younger population base.
6. Brampton - The city has a diverse and growing economy that, if anything, is growing a little faster than the infrastructure. Revitalization and densification of existing older areas will be a real key to Brampton living up to its ultimate potential.
7. Ottawa - Higher home-ownership costs, immigration and youth employment lifted rental demand in Ottawa. It is forecast that the city will pass from a very hot resale market with solid price augmentation to a more balanced market that will be more sustainable in the long-term.
8. Toronto - Taken as a whole, Toronto's real estate market will under-perform many of the surrounding regions, yet key neighbourhoods will have breakout years. Older condo units and ground oriented units in the areas such as Bathurst Manor, Armour Heights, and The Junction will do well in both average price increase percentage and potential cash flow. New high-rise condos located downtown and along the waterfront will still see demand. Other great transition areas include the Danforth, Palmerston-Little Italy, Woodbine, Gerrard and Jones.
9. Oshawa - The re-development of the downtown and many other developments about to be announced for the area will put the spotlight on a previously underperforming area of the city.
10. Whitchurch-Stouffville - This continues to be a town with tremendous potential. With low vacancy rates, no substantial increase in the number of rental units planned for the future, and a rising demand for the "country in the city" lifestyle, the town's biggest problem will be dealing with its growth.
Is this the future of real estate search?
Rotten Neighbor: it might just be the next best thing to the MLS when selecting a home to buy ... or not.
What is Rotten Neighbor? According to their press release: Rotten Neighbor is the first real estate search engine of its kind allowing you to rate and review good and bad neighbours before and after you move so you can make a smart real estate decision. How? By user contributed information on neighbours and neighbourhoods in Toronto as well as helping you understand Toronto neighbourhood trends. No matter if you are looking for townhouses, condominiums, single-family homes, or apartments Rotten Neighbor can help you find your dream neighborhood. See local neighborhood trends in Toronto and compare your neighbours to other neighbours in Toronto. Join the Rotten Neighbor community to get in touch with your Toronto neighbours and discover the best neighborhoods for you.
Toronto Neighbourhood Profiles
Toronto is known for its diversity and culture and this is reflected in its many neighbourhoods. The City of Toronto publishes detailed demographic information about each neighbourhood, prepared by the Toronto's Social Policy Analysis & Research Unit. Reports and links to other studies about Toronto's neighbourhoods are also included.
Toronto's Monopoly Play
Canadians vote like mad for Monopoly real estate
It may sound like fun and games, but some people are taking getting their cities into Monopoly's upcoming World Edition rather seriously. Campaigns on the social site Facebook and other Internet sites have boosted the fortunes of Canada's three candidate cities vying for spots on the game board.
Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto are among 68 world cities being considered for inclusion in the international version of Monopoly to be launched this fall, competing for spots otherwise occupied by the likes of Illinois or Pacific avenues.
The 20 world cities with the most votes as of Feb. 28 will earn a spot on the board known for making Marvin Gardens a household name. And while Canadian cities were at first slow getting out of the gate, all three are currently in the Top 20.
As of now, Canada is the only country with three cities in the Top 20. Montreal was ranked No. 1, Vancouver was No. 9 and Toronto No. 14. See the Leader Board.
Montreal #1? Come on Toronto!
A little bit of online campaigning may be responsible for that as Internet sites such as smartcanucks.ca and specialized groups on Facebook have been calling for Canadians to cast their votes in favour of the three cities.
But Canada isn't alone — virtually every city from Athens to Zurich has an online campaign to shore up votes.
"Last year, we voted to make Rome's Colosseum one of the new seven wonders of the world. Now you can vote to include Rome in the Monopoly," wrote Martha Bakerjian, on her travel blog.
You may cast votes for up to 10 of the "candidate cities" each day at www.monopoly.com.