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Annual pace of housing starts picked up in October, topped expectations

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An increase in multi-unit projects such as condominiums, apartments and townhouses helped push the annual pace of housing starts in October higher, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Thursday.

The housing agency said the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts last month came in at 205,925 units, up from 189,730 in September.

Economists had expected an annual rate of 200,000, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

CMHC said the six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates was 206,171 in October, down from 207,809 in September.

The report confirms that national housing construction, though slowing, remains healthy and above long-run household formation rates, supported by solid demographic trends.– Sal Guatieri, BMO Capital Markets senior economist

BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri said the housing market continues to stabilize after getting dinged by tougher mortgage rules earlier this year, and remains healthy despite higher interest rates.

“The report confirms that national housing construction, though slowing, remains healthy and above long-run household formation rates, supported by solid demographic trends,” Guatieri wrote in a brief report.

However, CIBC economist Royce Mendes noted the growth was due to the multiples component.

“The fact that headline starts rose on the month is still a positive for tracking estimates of the economy,” Mendes wrote.

“But given that it came on the back of an increase in multiples coupled with a drop in singles, means that the latest reading on starts may not prove sustainable. We still see the cocktail of tighter lending rules and higher interest rates as causing housing activity to become a drag on the economy come 2019.”

The growth in housing starts in October came as the annual pace of urban starts climbed by 8.6 per cent to 191,964 units.

The annual rate of urban multiple-unit projects increased by 16.8 per cent to 145,442 units. Urban starts for single-detached homes fell 10.7 per cent to 46,522 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,961 units.

Market expected to moderate 

Earlier this week, CMHC said it expected the real estate market to moderate over the next two years.

In its annual outlook, the agency forecasted housing starts and sales to both decline in 2019 and 2020.

It expects housing starts for single and multi-unit starts will fall to between 193,700 and 204,500 in 2019, while sales are expected come in between 478,400 and 497,400 units.

Prices are anticipated to range from $501,400 and $521,600.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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5 savvy renovations to make your kitchen look like new

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(NC) The kitchen is the heart and focal point of any home. But if yours is looking a little tired, a few simple renovations can change the feel of the entire space.

Whether you’ve just moved in, have been meaning to update for years or are experiencing life changes, remember that a kitchen uplift doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag. These small-scale projects could be the change your kitchen needs:

  1. Brighten it up.Adding LED lights below your cabinets will brighten your backsplash and counter and provide a warm glow. Place your favourite containers below to act as focal points – those copper canisters that are hiding under the island and the marble coasters you couldn’t resist can now all be on display.
  2. Swap the old with the new.The backsplash is the first thing you see, so replacing it can be enough to give the space a whole new look. Try a unique shape or colour to change things up, like turquoise or patterned tiles, hexagon-shaped tiles or even a full slab of stainless steel.
  3. Rework what you have.People often think new cabinets are necessary for a kitchen reno, but a lot can be done with what you’ve got. Repainting the cabinets and switching out the knobs to chic new handles will do wonders for a makeover.
  4. Don’t hide away.Try adding some open shelving in an unused spot, such as above the sink or window, or next to the cabinets. Display your most beautiful dishes and add some decorative pieces to give the space a modern, airy feel.
  5. Add new materials into the mix.Changing the island to a butcher-block counter adds warmth and practicality.

Taking on a renovation can often feel overwhelming. But if you talk to your contractor about budgeting and spreading out payments through services like The Home Depot Project Loan, it can be easier than you think. The service allows you to finance any home projects, big or small and is available at locations across Canada.

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How to afford a home renovation that fits your life

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(NC) Changing seasons always bring about the desire to update our living spaces. But your life stage and budget can influence what kind of upgrades you can make. Here are some tips to get you started.

Assess the investment. The first step is to gauge how much value your investment will bring, whether you’re looking to sell or grow into a family home. A common misconception among home owners is that all renovations will increase a home’s value; unfortunately, this is not always the case. It’s always a good idea to strategically renovate the space to fit your life plan and goals.

Plan for both long- and short-term value. As a homeowner, it is important to assess what kind of value items can contribute to your life plan. Searching for products that are energy efficient, like an eco-friendly washing machine or water filtration system, can help you save on your monthly bills. A long-term investment, such as hardwood floors or bathroom tiles, can spruce up a living space for years to come. While sometimes this require a larger budget, the project can be both appealing to future buyers and stand the test of time in a family home.

Create a renovation budget. Once you have a clear plan, you’ll need to create a budget to align with your financial goals. Always ensure your budget includes any interest you’ll be paying. Ask multiple sources for competitive quotes.

Use a payment plan. For those high-ticket investment items, consider using a payment plan. Payment solutions such as The Home Depot Project Loan can help with bigger renovations. This allows you to stick to your budgeting goals while using a flexible payment plan to make larger purchases more accessible.

Use DIY to offset costs. In addition to using a payment plan, taking on a few safe and simple renovation projects yourself is an easy way to offset renovation costs. Your local hardware store can help source materials and provide helpful tips to make those do-it-yourself projects, such as refinishing cabinets or sanding old hardwood floors, a breeze.

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