Though Toronto’s housing market ended 2013 on solid ground, its future can often seem as unpredictable as the city’s erratic temperature changes [insert chilled market pun here]. But with high hopes of continued growth ahead, industry professionals believe there are many resolutions that the Toronto market should aim to achieve in 2014.
From real estate brokers to architects, we find out what the city’s top influencers in real estate want to see this year, along with the housing trends that they’d really like to see retire. Think: more green living and less housing bubble chatter.
Here’s to a bright New Year ahead!
Ralph Fox, Broker at Sotheby’s International Realty
Resolution #1: More responsible media coverage
“This will hopefully be the year that the media stops reporting negatively and irresponsibly about the Toronto market and this so-called bubble that never bursts, because it actually doesn’t exist,” Fox says.
Resolution #2: Better transit infrastructure
“I would love to see all levels of government step up and give Toronto the level of transit infrastructure that it deserves.”
Resolution #3: Do away with land transfer tax
“Although I highly doubt it, perhaps this could be the year that we finally put an end to the dreaded land transfer tax and HST on new homes,” Fox says. “But I have a feeling the Leafs would have to win back-to-back Stanley Cups before this would ever happen.”
Barbara Lawlor, President of Baker Real Estate
Resolution #1: Better floorplans and more affordability
“The Toronto real estate industry should continue to offer even more efficient floorplans to keep affordability front and centre,” she says. “Real estate continues to be the investment vehicle for the general population, so let’s continue to make it affordable.”
Resolution #2: Green living
“We want our buildings to be efficient in our use of hydro and gas for the future — let’s keep our eye on the green ball,” she says. “We do not want our buildings to become obsolete in 10 years from now.”
Resolution #3: More condo dwellers
“Families have been living in apartments for centuries throughout the world. Let’s continue to encourage Toronto families to move into condominiums,” Lawlor says. “The amenities, security and sense of community that we foster can only be a good thing for the future.”
Photo: Steven Talunay/Flickr
Bill Birdsell, President of the Ontario Association of Architects
Resolution #1: More effective collaboration
“The drivers of the Toronto real estate market should resolve to bring the best teams of experts together to collaborate with architects to create beautiful, adaptive and sustainable structures within the fabric of the city we love.”
Resolution #2: Increased energy conservation
“Condominium developers should retire their resistance to implementing more energy conservation measures in their new projects,” Birdsell says. “Architects are embracing the 2030 challenge to enable future buildings to be carbon neutral and to make a significant contribution to all aspects of Toronto’s built environment including sustainability.”
Resolution #3: Strive for more diverse architecture and design
“Toronto is certainly the most culturally diverse community in North America,” he says. “We should not stifle the language of architecture that stands most able to give expression of that beauty and diversity in built form.”
Caroline Robbie, Principal at Quadrangle Architects
Resolution #1: Don’t be afraid to challenge convention
“The market has become more savvy and is calling for careful attention to many issues such as better quality design, increased community and a desire for non-standard products,” Robbie says. “This means that developers and architects must respond with contextual and responsive designs.”
Resolution #2: Take ownership together
“Toronto is no longer just a large Canadian city, but a global city with a mature design sensibility that reflects the diversity of our innovative society and quality of urban life,” she says. “Through collaboration and integrated architecture and design practice, we can build an exemplary city that fluidly combines buildings, transit, utilities and public space.”
Shaun Hildebrand, Senior Vice President of Urbanation
Resolution #1: Recognize how resilient the market was last year
“I think moving into 2014, it’s going to be important to continue to keep a finger on the pulse of the market. I think the market is going to continue to need incentives. I think that’s necessary in order for inventories to continue to come down,” Hildebrand says. “That would be a necessary condition in order for us to see a higher level of project launches — I think that’s what we’ve been waiting for, and that will ultimately boost sales.”
Resolution #2: More options for end-users
“If you think about the sheer volume of first-time buyers who have been in the market over the past 10 years, and all of the rental demand that we’re seeing right now, there’s going to be a big push to move up into the marketplace in the next few years,” Hildebrand says. “Many of these individuals have gotten used to living in the city and living in the core, and they’re looking for that next space.”
Gary Switzer, President of MOD Development
Resolution #1: Government to lower fees and increase affordability
“Pressure must continue to be applied on the government to either lower fees and thereby increase affordability in [Toronto] or at least be accountable for where the money is being spent,” he says.
Switzer goes on, explaining that BILD has estimated that government charges in Toronto average about $67,000 per unit. “In addition to asking new homebuyers to foot the bill for these costs, we as citizens have to ask the question as to where this money is going, particularly the parks levies. Where are the new parks? Why are the existing parks so badly maintained?”