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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
Walk this way
It's healthy, green, in fashion ... and could increase the resale value of your home. Just how walkable is your neighbourhood?
Walkability has become a buzzword in real estate, as environmentalists and "green" planners advocate compact residential neighborhoods near businesses and public transportation. And some realtors say in this difficult market, houses with high walkability scores are easier to sell: Owners can save money by walking to mass transit, and by using less gas when running errands.
Although the idea of a compact town center is not new, walkability has become easier to quantify, thanks to Walkscore.com. The website's algorithm takes a previously subjective idea - being able to step out your door and walk to places you need to go - and boils it down to a single number. Now online real estate sites, including Zillow and ZipRealty, are beginning to add walkability ratings to their home listings.
"When people live in a walkable neighborhood, they are able to save a lot of time and money that they would otherwise be pouring in their gas tanks," said David Goldberg, communications director for Smart Growth America, a Washington-based coalition of organizations promoting smart planning and building, and an advisory board member of Walkscore.com. Goldberg notes that some of Boston's early suburbs, such as Watertown and Belmont, are very walkable.
On a grander scale, people who walk more and drive less have a smaller carbon footprint. And the exercise tends to keep them in better shape.
Walkscore.com calculates walkability by awarding points for amenities - such as a restaurant, store, park, school, or library - within 1 mile of an address. The number of points depends on the closeness of the amenity, with the most points awarded for those within a quarter-mile.
Greying population changing housing
A report published by the Toronto-based Altus Clayton Research Group says it will be another 15 years before the senior "over 75" demographic bubble will have a major impact on homes and housing construction. The report examines the implications of the aging population for the seniors' housing market as the 21st century marches on.
For purposes of the research, seniors' housing is defined as accommodation developed and operated for profit and geared to those 75 or older -- such as retirement homes, apartments, assisted and independent living projects, but not government-regulated nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
According to the report, the majority of the aging population is sitting solidly in the age group of 55 to 74 years old. They are not considered seniors, but the "primary lifestyle buyer group." They are fuelling the recreation housing industry, and will remain the dominant group for the next decade.
"This represents the aging of the early baby boomers into this age cohort -- the oldest baby boomers were about 60 years old at the time of the 2006 census and the youngest about 40," says the report. "It's not until that baby boom starts to head into the 75 and over age groups that the boom in seniors' housing will take place."
The report suggests that Canadian builders should start making plans to provide housing for the approaching "seniors over-75 group". Not only is the population getting older, it's more solid financially and more demanding about what it wants its homes to look like and the amenities that are included.
"In some markets, lifestyle buyers [ages 55 to 74] have accounted for a larger share of new housing demand than would be expected based on demographics alone because local developers and builders increasingly offer housing specifically designed to attract these buyers," says the Altus Clayton report.
The report says developers should consider providing a wide array of tenure -- even in the same building. Not everybody wants to live in a studio apartment, so provide a selection of housing forms. Lifestyle and independence, regardless of physical limitations, are still the goal of seniors, so provide a selection of amenities.
Outside the residence, residents might just enjoy relaxing in an atrium or using some other type of common-area amenity. As residents age, they might require increased levels of health care. Developments should include accommodation for independent living right up to long-term care.
Many older Canadians really don't want to move. They're comfortable surrounded by friends and creature comforts. Because they have the financial wherewithal, they can have some renovations done to adapt to their changing needs.
Moving back home
When Jeff Popham moved back to Victoria from Toronto, he -- like a lot of adult children -- ended up returning to his parent's house. Fortunately, they had an extra lot next door. For Popham's young family, high real-estate prices proved daunting in their search for a home. So, his parents offered their side yard as a site to build a new house. Jeff's mother, Joan, can now look out her sunroom window to see her two granddaughters playing in their front yard.
The condo house?
It's a brand-new concept: labour-free home ownership
Down a tree-lined, brick-cobbled lane among the old manors of Toronto's posh Rosedale neighbourhood, the next step in the evolution of real estate is taking shape. Inside the sleek mansion at 1 May St., a woman is raising her voice over the crack squad of landscapers deployed across every square foot of the small front yard to demonstrate how the control panel of the house's "robot brain" commands a nervous system of heated floors and walkways, lighting, doors and sound systems.
The house can not only run itself, but manage its own affairs. The owner need never shop, clean, pay a bill or even answer the door. Everything has been taken care of. One of Toronto's most opulent homes may also be the answer to a commonplace question: should I buy a house or a condo?
Visionary home search for Toronto.
This is a ground-breaking event for the real estate industry in Canada. RealEstatePlus.ca employs some of the latest technologies — Web 2.0 for the initiated — to help people personalize their search for a new home. Combining customization functionality including flexible search parameters, saved searches, watch lists and alerts with advanced mapping technologies, users can gain deep insight about homes, neighbourhoods and cities before speaking with an agent.
The premise of the site is to enable users to search for homes in a way that is intuitive to them. As a result, all functionality is geared to personalizing the user experience – familiar terminology for neighbourhoods and geographic boundaries, search diversity for listings and neighbourhoods, intuitive search results and the ability to review both demographic and behavioural data. Because a home constitutes much more than the physical structure, RealEstatePlus.ca offers a 360 degree view of any home including the neighbourhood, the house itself, the people, amenities and cultural institutions.
The site is also designed to maintain a collaborative approach with users. It elicits feedback from users and promises to introduce new functionality and technology capabilities based on user demand.
The current Beta release is limited to the resale market in the City of Toronto but the RealEstatePlus.ca Team has an ambitious time-table for expansion.
Tenants have their "say"
Toronto slumlords are about to feel more pressure to improve their properties due to tenant reviews. Already feeling pressure from City Hall, slumlords now have to contend with myhood.ca, a new website that gives tenants a public avenue to alert fellow renters of slumlord buildings. Potential renters can read tenant reviews and determine which rental unit is right for them based on the positive and negative ratings submitted by fellow Torontonians.
“Just as Councilor Howard Moscoe’s plan to license Toronto landlords is the political response to slumlords, myhood.ca is the consumer response” said Jeff Hersh, founder of myhood.ca. With many positive reviews, not only does myhood.ca highlight slumlord buildings to potential renters, it also ensures that renters find quality rental units. as well.
Based in Toronto, myhood.ca gives potential renters the ability to search and evaluate apartment reviews and rental listings by Toronto neighbourhoods. In addition, myhood.ca brings together rental listings from online classifieds and property managers, helping renters save time in their search process.
Blogging for Real Estate
With the recent changes in Internst technology, there is a big change coming in the way real estate marketing is done. Right now, Realtors have been very slow to adopt new technologies and that's a mistake.
How powerful would it be for a real estate agent in a city like Toronto to set up their own web site explaining the current industry trends, home values, local neighborhoods, or other information of interest? Sites like zillow.com are great for providing you with high-level information about home prices but still lack the "bird dog" like information that a local Realtor would have great insider information about.
Real Estate Trends Report
MLS: Industry Asset or Public Utility?
Looking back in time the MLS was supposed to be simple: A seller - a listing - an agreement to share - a buyer - a sale. Everyone benefited, including the buyers and the sellers. It was built as a B2B model, a cooperative among real estate brokers. Yet today when "all information should be free" everyone wants to promote the listing. As a result the MLS has evolved into a consumer marketplace and a quasi public utility. The proverbial horse is out of the barn.
The Toronto market that will be
It's true that the population of Toronto, like the rest of the western world, is getting older -- but Toronto's population is not old now, and it won't be old two decades from now, when only 16 per cent of its residents will be 65 or over. That's a significant increase from the current 12 per cent, but not nearly enough to make seniors the dominant group.
Throughout the western industrialized world, young people are having fewer babies than their parents did and old people are living longer than their parents did. That demographic combination is the basis for the phenomenon of population aging, which means simply that the average age is increasing. But this process takes place gradually, so forecasts of dramatic change are usually off base.
It's easy to confuse old with older which is why some writers make false assumptions about population aging. In 1996, The Globe and Mail launched its hypothetical "Boomer Portfolio," a collection of stocks that seemed well positioned to benefit from the changing needs of aging boomers, the huge group born between 1947 and 1966 that comprises almost a third of the Canadian population. It was an interesting concept, but there was a flaw in the portfolio: it contained two companies, one in the nursing home business and another in the funeral business, that were decades away from attracting much business from boomers. In 1996, the boomers were aged 30 to 49, hardly prime candidates to become residents of nursing homes or cemeteries. Even in 2021, aged 55 to 74, not many boomers will be ready to move into nursing homes. And given that average life expectancy is now about 79, the funeral business won't take off until around 2030.
That said, it's a fact that the older boomers are nearing the stage of life when heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and other serious illnesses become more prevalent. Many boomers will die between now and 2021, while at the same time their children, the echo generation, will produce a mini-baby boom of their own. As a result of those demographic changes, Toronto two decades hence will no longer be boomer city.
The dwindling of the power of the boomers will probably be the most important demographic phenomenon Toronto will experience over the next two decades. Since the 1970s, the city has been a magnet for ambitious boomers from all over the country -- a cohort that, because it has so many members, has wielded tremendous power. Boomers triggered rent controls during the 1970s as they flooded into the housing market for the first time. In the 1980s, they sent real estate prices soaring. Then, during the 1990s, they discovered mutual funds and stocks, prompting the greatest bull market ever.
As we approach 2000, the boom is at the height of its influence. Boomers in their 40s and 50s are running the large corporations, governments and universities. To the chagrin of younger boomers (those in their 30s) and the baby busters (now in their 20s), older boomers are still clogging the hierarchies of all these organizations.
Yet the beginning of the end of the big generation's dominance is already evident. Companies are instructing their recruiters to give preference to younger people. Complaints of ageism are already being heard from boomers in their 40s and 50s who find themselves in the job market.
By 2021, all of that will be ancient history. Nobody will talk much about the baby boom any more. According to the projections of economist Tom McCormack of Strategic Projections Inc., people born after the boom in the GTA will outnumber boomers and those born before them by the year 2004. And by 2021, of the 6.4 million people in the GTA, 4.4 million will be post-boomers, 54 or younger; only two million will be boomers or pre-boomers. More significant, among those of voting and working age, the boomers and their elders will be outnumbered by younger Torontonians after 2013.
Let's take a closer look at how the dwindling of the boom and other demographic shifts will affect the real estate market in Toronto two decades in the future.
The front half of the boom, people born between 1947 and about 1957, have been lucky in real estate. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the first of them hit the rental market, a spacious apartment -- one floor of a house in the Annex, for example -- could be had for less than $200 a month. And when those same people were ready to buy, a solid Victorian house in a good downtown Toronto neighbourhood sold for $100,000 or less. House prices moved up during the 1970s, but it wasn't until most of the boom had flooded onto the real estate market in the 1980s that they really took off. At the same time, in response to boomer demand, the suburbs burgeoned. Toronto house prices peaked in 1989 and then plunged 25 per cent over the next two years, because most of the boomers who could afford a house had already bought one. Prices recovered moderately through the latter half of the 1990s after the recession ended and younger boomers, those born in the 1960s, could afford to move into the market.
The real estate frenzy of the 1980s already seems a distant memory, and demographics offer no reason to expect it to be repeated. In fact, the decade about to begin will be fairly quiet, because the bust, the group entering its house-buying period, is only about half the size of the boom.
A growing number of boomers will choose early retirement during the first decade of the millennium, but that doesn't mean they will want to sell their houses. Less than 20 per cent of retirees move out of their homes when they stop work; the other 80 per cent stay put, partly because they know the extra space freed up when the kids move out will come in handy when future grandchildren come to visit. Most people don't trade in their houses for more compact accommodation until they are in their 70s.
The real estate market will pick up during the second decade of the new century when the echo generation, which is larger than the bust, starts house hunting. For boomers who want to cash out of real estate, the arrival of their offspring in the real estate market will offer a window of opportunity that will last until about 2025. After that, the market will go soft again, because the following wave of house buyers, today's preschoolers, are a comparatively small cohort.
Boomers who play their real estate cards right, and enjoy a bit of luck as well, should be able to sell their house to a member of the echo for enough to buy a condo in the city and perhaps a country place as well. The trend toward splitting time between the city and semi-rural areas such as Collingwood and Kingston, will gather momentum as more of the boomer generation moves into its 50s. Some of those who move into exurbia will opt for communities built around golf courses. These will be adults-only communities, many with security gates that visitors have to pass through.
Gated communities are never going to be cool, and the aging boomers who decide to move into them are probably going to be a bit embarrassed about it. But boomers, as they age, won't be much different from earlier generations; older people have always been security conscious for two reasons -- they are more vulnerable physically then when they were young, and they have accumulated some things worth stealing. Besides, rental apartments and condos have had restricted entry systems for decades. Gated communities merely offer people who prefer to live in a house the extra security that apartment dwellers take for granted.
On the commercial side, the impact of the large echo generation will trigger new construction during the first decade of the new century, earlier than in the housing sector. That's because young people join the workforce about 10 years before they look for their first house. By 2021, the echo generation's workplace needs will have been accommodated. Then it will be the turn of the millennium bust, the group now emerging from the maternity wards, to enter the workforce, but that group will be too small to drive a great deal of new office construction.
Meanwhile, we can expect the trend toward renewal of old office structures and factories in the core to continue, partly because aging Torontonians will want to retain parts of the city that remind them of their youth. The late William Kilbourn, historian and city politician, liked to say -- only partly in jest -- that the Toronto-Dominion Centre, a work of the famous modernist architect Mies van der Rohe, should be designated a historic site so that it would not be destroyed in the name of redevelopment like so many other great Toronto buildings. By 2021, this set of towers, which dates from the 1960s when the boomers were very young, will be so designated.
Source: Footwork Consulting Inc.