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Toronto’s “tech moment” and the real estate market | REM





Toronto is making waves. Not because of rising condo prices, and not because of our affiliation with Drake. We are making waves because we’re one of the best places for tech companies to set up shop. How could this be, given that we are an expensive city? And what does this mean for Toronto’s already “overheated” real estate market?

An impressive list of tech giants – Google, Microsoft, Uber, Intel, Pinterest, Instacart, Shopify, Nvidia, LG, Samsung, Thales, Ecobee and Etsy – all call Toronto home. And with this impressive list comes jobs, people and money. Specifically, over 82,100 highly skilled and highly paid jobs since 2012 (a big leap compared to New York, which added only 27,000 tech jobs in the same time period and the iconic Silicon Valley, which added 77,800). It also means  millions of dollars in investment. Shopify, for example, is pumping $500 million into a Toronto mixed-use development, The Well, and Google’s Sidewalk Labs has pledged millions to transform our currently inhabitable east-end waterfront.

The CBRE study, Scoring Tech Talent in North America 2018, looks to several proven critical factors that attract start-ups to a particular city. These factors are the cost of talent (wages), population concentration of millennials, educational attainment in the tech sector, residential and commercial rental rates and the cost of living.

Digging into CBRE’s data reveals that Toronto is still in its infancy in terms of becoming an internationally significant city. I draw this conclusion because we added more tech jobs to our roster than any other North American city despite the fact that our talent is not the least expensive, we have fewer millennials and we don’t have the biggest educational hubs in North America. The reason why we “won” the tech job competition is because we have some of the cheapest real estate in relation to the quality of lifestyle and tech candidates.

For example, the average cost for a tech company to plant its roots in Toronto is $30 million. Compare this with San Francisco’s Bay Area, which costs $59 million; New York, where it costs $55 million; Seattle, where it costs $52 million; and Austin, where it costs $45 million. We’re less expensive than the secondary markets such as Kansas City ($38 million), Detroit ($40 million) and Jacksonville ($37 million). We even beat out Vancouver, where it’s cheaper to hire tech teams, but more expensive to rent. It’s clear: Toronto’s real estate has yet to catch up to its job market, its culinary scene and the amenities available to its inhabitants.

Why does this matter?

Shopify’s $500-million investment in Toronto translates into hundreds of highly paid highly skilled new jobs. These jobs then translate into more people qualifying for mortgages. And more qualified buyers translates into more demand for the type of real estate millennials want – two-bedroom condos in the downtown core. This translates into a tightening of supply and heightening of prices. This means: buy well-positioned condos that are close to where Shopify and Google are setting up shop.

Another boon to our real estate market is that many of these tech giants are also investing in our real estate. Sidewalk Labs’ partnership with our government to turn parts of Toronto into an intelligent real estate platform (think: heated sidewalks, underground plumbing systems that don’t require road closures to repair and Orwellian-type tracking of your preferences, habits and health). Such investment signals clear confidence in Toronto’s real estate market, which will, in turn, encourage more future investment. Toronto has a lot of room to grow. While it may be a bumpy ride, we’re certainly riding to the top.


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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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Real Estate

10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers





Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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