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Location is top factor for job hunters faced with steep housing costs

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Cyndi Whaley and her family left Toronto two and a half months ago for Victoria.

Toronto has more job prospects in her field of environmental science. But the Victoria position that drew the family west came with something else — a ticket out of a red-hot housing market.

Although Victoria real estate is not cheap, the family’s prospects for buying a house seem much better there.

During their time in Toronto, Whaley says, she and husband Vince Piette wanted to buy a house with a yard for their six-year-old son, Theo.

“We were looking for about a year in our neighbourhood. We tried two offers on different places and we got outbid on both,” says Whaley, who has a PhD in atmospheric physics. “And they were near our max budget anyway.”

Although the couple is renting in Victoria while they look for the right home, Whaley said houses comparable to the ones they looked at in Toronto are about $300,000 cheaper there. Plus, it’s become feasible that they could carry a mortgage on just her salary while her husband completes a master’s degree at the University of Victoria.

Location-based career decisions like Whaley’s are becoming increasingly common. A recent survey of 1,500 people in Canada and the United States who had either been hired or had turned down a job in the last year found that location has emerged as the most influential factor when considering job offers.

Conducted by Hanover Research on behalf of human resources software company Ceridian, the survey found 68 per cent of respondents said they were influenced by a job’s location. That’s slightly higher than said those who said salary factors into their decisions (66 per cent), as well as work-life balance (also 66 per cent) and growth opportunities (57 per cent).

Job recruiters face challenges

Lisa Sterling, Ceridian’s chief people and culture officer, says real estate market costs “absolutely” have an impact on job decisions, and that poses challenges for companies who want to recruit and keep top talent in a tight labour market.

That’s definitely an issue in the competition for tech staff in the company’s Greater Toronto Area offices, where Ceridian employs 500 developers. 

“The war for talent is becoming more profound in technology as more and more companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Pinterest are opening up offices and kind of creating the Silicon Valley of Canada right in Toronto. That obviously has implications on us because we’re trying to recruit and select the same people,” she says.

The company’s cohort of younger staffers — more recent university graduates — live in downtown Toronto and commute on the subway. “But we’re starting to see that transition now. As they’re aging a little bit and starting to move on in their personal lives, a lot of them are wanting to move out to the suburbs. We even have people who have moved up to Waterloo because it’s significantly less expensive to purchase a home or build a home there.”

Remote work and telecommuting

That’s prompting companies like hers to get better equipped for both full remote workers and part-time telecommuters, even in job categories where face-to-face collaboration with colleagues was considered essential until recently.

“We’ve empowered them to get their work done in a way that works for them and in a way that suits their family life.”

If employees with competitive tech salaries and scientists with PhDs like Whaley are struggling to get into real estate markets in Canada’s biggest cities, the problem is even more acute for those in service industries.

One Vancouver bagel shop famously closed for several weeks due to staffing shortages, and a study from the Business Development Bank of Canada found that 45 per cent of B.C. businesses reported difficulty finding workers.

Googling “Why I’m leaving Vancouver” will bring up dozens of videos and blog posts by people with a range of occupations explaining why they can’t afford to live there anymore, with the recurring theme of out-of-reach real estate.

Sara Lanthier and her nine-year-old son Will hold the ‘Sold’ sign the evening they sold their Toronto home Nov. 1, 2017. (Michelle Declair)

Sara Lanthier wasn’t looking for a toehold in the real estate market when she left Toronto for London, Ont., earlier this year. The marketing account manager had bought in years before becoming a single mom to nine-year-old Will. But the cost of living in one of Canada’s most expensive cities contributed significantly to the stress of day-to-day life.

Lanthier says she loved her Toronto home and neighbourhood, but “couldn’t do anything else.” They couldn’t afford any extras like travel or ski lessons for Will.

A stressful period at work and a well-timed real estate brochure in the mail that told her what she could get for her house prompted Lanthier to weigh other options.

“I just started to think about it and it became clear really quickly that I needed to make a change.”

Mortgage-free in a cheaper city

Lanthier sold her Toronto home and bought a bigger one, mortgage-free, in the city her sister also calls home.

Initially she quit her job and, after taking some time off to regroup, including an epic European vacation with her son last summer, she planned to find a new job in London.

But her former employer offered her some freelance work she could do off-site and then a job, complete with benefits, that she’s able to do at her preferred 30 hours per week — all from home. 

Her son used to be in daycare from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but now she’s able to greet him everyday after school at 3:30. “It’s life-changing.”

“That whole financial pressure which also added to my stress is just gone.” 

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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Real Estate

Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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