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Topping Off 2018: UrbanToronto’s Hottest Forum Threads




To close out our Topping Off series for 2018, we are taking a look at the 10 most popular Database files, Forum Threads, and News Stories from UrbanToronto across the entire year. 

Over the course of 2018, scores of new project threads were added to our Forum, with 1,351 project threads having been updated with countless new posts. As the year unfolded, here are the threads that you returned to the most!

10. Sugar Wharf Condominiums

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018Site of Sugar Wharf Condominiums (left), image by Forum contributor mburrrrr

Our 10th most popular thread was that of Sugar Wharf Condominiums, Phase 1. The first two residential towers in Menkes Developments‘ Sugar Wharf community kicked off construction in July of 2018, and a large pit has taken shape in the months since. The architectsAlliance-designed towers will rise 65 and 70 storeys.

9. E Condos

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018E Condos, image by Forum contributor Urban-Affair

In 9th place, BazisMetropia, and RioCan REIT‘s E Condos has become a fan favourite, with the development’s topping out and installation of a unique exterior skin keeping interest high throughout the year. The complex’s 58-storey south tower is now the tallest in Toronto north of the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood.

8. Massey Tower

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018Massey Tower, image by Forum contributor Razz

Since topping out at a height of 207 metres over the summer, MOD Developments‘ Hariri Pontarini Architects-designed Massey Tower has continued to generate interest, bringing it to 8th place for the year. Cladding installation for the tower’s residential levels is now wrapping up, and exterior work has now begun on the crown that wraps the mechanical penthouse above.

7. Residences of 488 University Avenue

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018Residences of 488 University Avenue, image by Forum contributor Red Mars

In 7th place, Amexon Development Corporation‘s Residences of 488 University Avenue project has been rising steadily throughout the year. The new Core Architects-designed condominium development is adding 37 new floors above an existing 18-storey office building at University and Dundas.

6. CIBC Square

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018CIBC Square, image by Forum contributor Michael62

Taking the #6 spot, the thread for the CIBC Square office development drew in plenty of traffic over the year. The project from Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines kicked off construction for its WilkinsonEyre-designed, 49-storey south tower in June 2017, and by the end of 2018 the tower had climbed high above the Bay and Lake Shore intersection.

5. The One

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018Site of The One, image by Forum contributor Benito

In 5th place, Mizrahi Developments‘ highly-anticipated The One saw significant progress below grade in 2018. A specialized tower crane is now in place, while drilling has begun for the 32 “mega caissons” that will act as footings for the supertall tower’s hybrid exoskeleton structural support system.

4. 1 Yorkville

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 20181 Yorkville, image by Forum contributor ADRM

In 4th position, Bazis and Plaza‘s 58-storey, Roy Varacalli-designed condominium tower at 1 Yorkville has been rising throughout the year. Its textured exterior of pinched aluminum fins helped propel the project into the top four.

3. Pinnacle One Yonge

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018Site of Pinnacle One Yonge, image by Forum contributor mburrrrr

The first phase of Pinnacle International‘s five-tower, Hariri Pontarini Architects-designed community—Pinnacle One Yonge—kicked off construction in 2018. The 65-storey tower known as The Prestige is paving the way for a future 95-storey, 1,007-foot tower that will be a major presence on the Toronto skyline.

2. Union Station Revitalization

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018Union Station’s new food court, image by Craig White

In second place, the ongoing revitalization of Union Station has been dragging on for years, though 2018 brought us some visible progress including glazed moat coverings, a new food court, and other retail and pedestrian improvements.

1. The Well

UrbanToronto, Hottest Forum Threads of 2018Site of The Well, image by Forum contributor Red Mars

The top spot for Forum activity in 2018 went to the thread for The Well. It should come as no surprise that a site with seven new towers under construction—the largest construction site in Toronto—managed to generate the most attention. The project by Diamond CorpAllied Properties REITRio Can REITTridel, and Woodbourne will bring a 36-storey office tower, 6 residential buildings, and 432,000 ft² of retail space to the Entertainment District.

We look forward to another year of following urban growth in 2019. In the meantime, let us know what you think about this year’s top threads in the comments section provided below.

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UrbanToronto now has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.

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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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