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These Canadian housing markets took a beating in 2018. What does 2019 have in store?





Photo: James Bomblaes

2018 began with a steep nationwide drop in housing activity. Stricter mortgage qualification rules pushed buyers to the sidelines, as year-over-year double-digit sales decreases became the norm.

Of course, some markets had a rougher year than others. Toronto, with its strong early-2017 performance, had a particularly cool start to the year, as did Hamilton. In the west, the Calgary market is continues to deal with the effects of low oil prices which sunk the housing market in 2015, while Vancouver is still adjusting to a stricter foreign buyers tax that was increased in February.

What does 2019 have in store for these troubled markets? Livabl has combed through the latest forecasts from industry experts, to give you an idea of what to expect.

Toronto should remain stable

With its record performance in 2017, the Toronto housing market became the epitome of the old adage “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” in 2018.

While activity took its steepest dive in the spring of 2017, with the introduction of the Ontario government’s Fair Housing Plan, sales dropped dramatically in January, as the market struggled to adjust to the new mortgage stress test.

Over the summer months, the city began to see a slow month-over-month rise in sales and prices. That’s led several experts — including Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage — to predict a relatively cool, but stable, 2019. Sales were up 6 percent year-over-year in October, while listings fell a slight 2.7 percent.

“The numbers [you saw] in the GTA [in October] are the direct result of strong demand amid relatively limited supply,” Soper tells Livabl.

It’s a sentiment echoed by TD economist Rishi Sondhi, who wrote in his latest forecast that the Toronto housing market would remain balanced in the new year, as strong demand pushed up against deteriorating housing affordability.

“Toronto’s market has been balanced for over a year now, manifesting in slower price appreciation,” he writes. “Strained affordability conditions, exacerbated by rising borrowing costs, will continue to restrain demand.”

Hamilton will cool slightly

The Hamilton market, which has long been a refuge for those priced-out of Toronto, largely mimicked the larger city’s sales trajectory in 2018.

Home sales are predicted to fall 15.9 percent year-over-year by the end of 2018, according to the latest data from Central 1 Credit Union.

Many industry experts are predicting that the cooler period will last well into 2019, while noting that the city’s strong fundamentals will keep things from changing too drastically.

“What you have in Hamilton is a relatively affordable market, that allows those who cannot afford to live in Toronto a chance to own a home, while still commuting to work,” Hamilton-based realtor Mike Heddle tells Livabl. “That’s a trend that’s not going to change any time soon.”

Earlier this year, BMO economist Robert Kavcic named Hamilton one of Canada’s most attractive labour markets, arguing that the city’s strong job market will likely draw prospective homeowners in the new year.

“Given that Toronto has been held back by significant pressure on housing affordability, cities like Hamilton…within commuting distance of Toronto jobs, have served as a release valve,” he wrote.

Calgary oversupply issue to persist

At first glance, there’s something that appears to bode well for Calgary’s ownership housing market: the rental market is tightening. Normally, this has a knock-on effect for home sales. As a vacancy rate trends lower, rents get more expensive due to competition for apartments, and some decide it’s worth it to purchase a home.

This time is different, suggests one expert. Lower oil prices have persistently taken a toll on home sales and prices in Calgary, and even though the rental market looks to be picking up, Keith Reading, director of research for Morguard, recently said it would be 18 months before demand is sufficient to drive rents up.

From there, it would still be a number of years before any meaningful improvements are seen on the resale and new-home markets.

While the Calgary Real Estate Board has yet to publish its final lookahead at 2019, its chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie recently gave Livabl an idea of what to expect.

“The current situation that we’re in is we have an oversupplied market, prices have been trending down, and we just haven’t seen the pickup in the economy — at least in Calgary — as what was expected, so that’s really what we’re seeing leading into next year,” Lurie said in an interview earlier this month.

Vancouver will continue to correct

When it comes to Vancouver’s housing market, the peaks and troughs of various forecasts from analysts vary as wildly as the mountainous landscape surrounding the city.

For instance, credit union Central 1 predicts the median price of a Metro Vancouver home will drop by about 3 percent next year before remaining flat in 2020. “A modest housing price correction is underway in the region triggered by rising interest rates and federal mortgage criteria which is intensified by provincial policy measures,” writes Bryan Yu, Central 1’s Deputy Chief Economist, noting a recent hike to the regional foreign-homebuyer tax and proposed speculation taxes.

Compare that to Capital Economics’ latest analysis: based on rising levels of inventory, activity drying up, and tougher federal mortgage rules introduced back in January, home resale prices could fall 5 percent next year, in the research firm’s estimation.

Perhaps the most dramatic prediction comes by way of Eitel Insights, which used stock market-style analysis to forecast the future of detached home prices in Vancouver. While the benchmark price of a detached home was $1,524,000 last month, Eitel Insights anticipates that number will fall to $1.4 million between next year and 2021 at the latest.

Like Capital Economics and Central 1, Dane Eitel, the owner of Eitel Insights, bases his bearish take on the impact of the federal government’s move at the beginning of the year to extend stress testing to uninsured mortgages. Previously, a borrower could put down 20 percent for a loan from a big Canadian bank and sidestep the test.

While the relative affordability of multi-family dwellings in Vancouver has provided somewhat of a buffer for the pre-construction condo market despite new mortgage qualifying regulations, rising supply levels are expected to put downward pressure on prices in this segment, too. Already, new-home prices are down between 5 and 15 percent, depending on location and housing type, according to Urban Analytics.


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5 DIY Home Improvements for the COVID-19 Lockdown





The global coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of people around the world, to spend more time in their homes this year than they have spent in a long time. As people sit around day after day within the confines of their home, it becomes easier to notice all the areas of the house that need some work. Fortunately, everyone can now afford the extra free time to do the home renovation project they’ve been putting off for years.

Due to the on-going global health crisis, you may not be able to hire any help for your home improvement project; this means that whatever new project you plan to do around the house, whether it’s repainting the home, or installing floor heating systems, you would have to do it yourself.

Here are some do-it-yourself that you may like to try out.

Upgrade to Smart Home Appliances

It’s 2020, what better year to embrace the future by installing a range of high-tech devices that make life extra easy. For instance, with a smart thermostat, your home’s heating and cooling system can go off on their own when not needed, keeping your electricity bills lower. Other appliances that you can make smart include your lighting, home security, music and more.

Clean out your Garage

Homeserve suggests a garage cleanout as a great home improvement project for this season because cleaning out your garage provides some fresh air, the heavy lifting provides some workout and you feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when it’s done.  What’s more, the day would be far spent by the time you’re done with this project. Cleaning out your garage would require you to sweep out any dirt or debris, and get rid of other useless items that may have been stored there for a long time.

Start a Repainting Project

There’s always room for a fresh coat of paint to make everywhere look more alive, so grab a paintbrush and add some extra character to your home. The good news is that you don’t even have to go out for the paint, you can have it shipped directly to your door. Southlandremodeling suggests that if you had 2019 palette or older in your home, now is the time to embrace the latest colour hues of 2020, that show off a more contemporary style and make your home look more sophisticated.

 Build a Patio

Now is the time where every family would enjoy having a paver patio or an outdoor deck, somewhere to sit and get some fresh air when you’re tired of being cooped up inside all day. First you have to ensure that your home has enough space for a patio and that you have enough skills to handle a hammer and other tools for simple construction.

Next you order your needed materials online and get started. There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes with being able to create an outdoor space that your family can enjoy while being stuck at home.

Install some floor heating systems

Installation of floor heating systems is one of the best home improvement projects that one can get. Many people prefer to hire professionals to do these kinds of installation but if you are up for it, it’s not impossible to do this on a DIY project and get a valuable addition to your home for about half the cost.


There is no reason to continue holding out on your dream DIY home renovation projects, especially now that you have all the time in the world due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Now is the perfect time to transform your home all by yourself!

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13 Montreal Apartments For Rent That Have Breathtaking Outdoor Spaces





With Quebec’s moving day just around the corner, many people are starting to look for a new property to rent. And, now that Montreal real estate activity is back in action, you can start trying to find the perfect space again. And, if you ask me, an apartment that comes with outdoor space is a must when living in the city.

From balconies to shared rooftop spaces, we’re all looking for a place where we can be outdoors. 

Now, more than ever, fresh air is something that we’re all craving. And, with summer coming faster than we think, finding a place with access to the outside is on so many of our checklists. 

Luckily for you, we at MTL Blog have made your job very easy and have gone through listings throughout the city to showcase some of the best rentals, all of which have outdoor spaces. 

Some of these properties offer private balconies while others have surreal rooftops you get access to. Regardless of which one you fall in love with, you’ll be sure to have a summer to remember living in any apartment on this list. 

Get ready for moving day because after looking at these properties, you’re going to be ready to pack your belongings.

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Montreal real-estate market hit hard by pandemic





Like many industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the red-hot Montreal real-estate market has suddenly chilled.

After 61 consecutive months of increases, the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area reported a 68-per-cent decrease in residential sales transactions in April 2020 compared with the year-earlier period, according to the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers.

The most recent residential real-estate market statistics for the Montreal area showed 1,890 residential sales transactions were concluded last month. Those figures are based on the real-estate brokers’ Centris provincial database.

Montreal has been hit harder than other Canadian cities by the pandemic, and the drop in sales was seen in all six main areas of the Montreal CMA.

The drop in sales applied to all three property categories. Single-family home sales fell 68 per cent (1,048 transactions): plex sales dropped 67 per cent (161 transactions); and condominium sales tumbled 69 per cent (675 transactions).

Despite the drop in sales, real-estate prices rose in the CMA. The median price of single-family homes increased by nine per cent to reach $360,000, while the median price of condominiums climbed 12 per cent to $289,900.

Compared with April 2019, the median price of plexes (two to five dwellings) increased 10 per cent to $595,000.

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