Would you like a $1.7M property taxes refund?

If your MPAC assessment doesn’t have you seeing red, maybe it should.

John ClarkYou may recall a few posts back I coined the phrase “red building.” This label applies to any building that, due to its age, operational inefficiency or lack of amenities common to newer real estate, just doesn’t have the market appeal it once did, and is going to be out bid in the marketplace by new green construction.

These negatives can push a property into the domain of C-class space. There likely is no return from this abyss without substantial reinvestment, provided the cost of that reinvestment doesn’t exceed the potential return.

Now consider this concept, and any red buildings in your portfolio, in the context of the commercial property assessment notices that will be hitting mailboxes on Oct. 18.

I wrote last time about the need to take a close look at that notice when it arrives to ensure the assessment of your property is accurate and fair versus comparable properties in your market.

But what if you have a property that is, for one reason or another, losing or has lost market appeal? Does the assessment adequately reflect that?

Assessments should be based on true market value

A building you can’t lease, or can only lease by cutting your rates below that of your competition, represents a loss of revenue and market value. The property may just be less valuable than it once was, or less than the newer competition. Your assessment should reflect that, but you may have to stand up and take action to get noticed by the assessor.

Take, for example, one property I’ve been involved with that’s had trouble leasing vacant space since a key tenant left. The reason? It’s too far from public transit for most prospective tenants.

These days, people want to commute without their car and employers want or demand space that’s within reasonable walking distance of a transit stop. “Reasonable” is typically five to seven minutes, tops.

On this basis alone, I would argue the owner of this building has grounds to appeal if a commercial property assessment doesn’t take this negative point into account.

The jury is still out on that building, but on another file, appealing an assessment due to red building factors had a huge impact.

A $40M property really only worth half that

How huge? We got this property’s assessed value cut in half, by $20 million. This drastically cut the property’s tax burden with the local municipality. The owner got a retroactive reduction in his property taxes – a $1.7 million refund cheque.

What are this building’s red factors? Yesterday’s innovation became today’s albatross. The chief culprit is the “state-of-the-art” ductless heat pump system installed when the building was constructed 40 years ago. The building is still operational and usable, but the growing age and inefficiency of this equipment impacted its cost of operation and market value. The building was designed in such a way that replacing this system would require quite costly renovation. On this basis we were able to successfully appeal the original assessment.

But this silver lining does tarnish

Appealing the assessment of a red building can result in a silver lining in an otherwise grey cloud for the property owner. But it bears noting that a growing stock of red buildings in Canada’s commercial real estate market is bad news for municipal coffers. Lost value and lower assessments adds instability to the municipal tax base. City hall has to recoup this lost revenue in some way, and the key source of municipal revenue is the remaining taxpayers.

Which means the ultimate solution for a red building is its redevelopment as a higher-value green property, rather than settling for a downward spiral of diminishing returns. Maybe this is a good place to invest a refund cheque should you achieve a successful assessment appeal.

To discuss this or any other valuation topic in the context of your property, please contact me at jclark@regionalgroup.com. I am also interested in your feedback and suggestions for future articles.

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Is there room for public art in industrial buildings?

It’s become an institution across Canada for many new residential developments to include public art components. These Community Amenity Contributions or CACs, mandated by the city, often lead to extraordinary permanent art like the rotating exhibit outside the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver and the permanent collection at the PC Urban Public ArtFairmont Pacific Rim. There’s also Cedric Bomford’s Substation Pavilion outside the Meccanica condominium. And in Toronto, Douglas Coupland’s red Canoe at CityPlace and the James Turrell Straight Flush installation at the Bay-Adelaide Centre. These city mandated public art installations draw visitors and engage passersby. But less common is public art in new industrial developments.

Vancouver’s PC Urban is setting out to change that. They’ve voluntarily commissioned two public installations for their upcoming industrial buildings and in doing so, have shaken the complacent development industry and called into question the difference between having to create the art and wanting to.

A voluntary public art commitment

According to Jan Ballard, a fine art consultant working on more than 30 real estate public art projects in Vancouver, this is the first time a developer has initiated a voluntary public art commitment in the city. “Some developers will add money to their public art components, but I’ve never worked with a company that didn’t have a mandate. And not only did PC Urban do it voluntarily, they hired a selection committee to run a shortlist; they were shown 25 artists per project and then they chose three, each of whom were paid to do a concept proposal. It was a full blown effort.”

The result will be two public art installations transforming industrial buildings into something memorable and engaging. Something that will make people stop and think.

The idea to do something with public art outside of the city’s mandated program evolved from PC Urban’s experience with public art CAC’s in North Vancouver at their Barrow Street development. Like most developers, they looked at the mandate as a tax, something you just have to do. “Public art was forced upon us,” says principal Brent Sawchyn. “But when we unexpectedly started to get involved in the process of selection and curation and when the artist finished, the end result was so engaging and so spectacular, I realized that adding public art voluntarily – especially to industrial and office buildings – would create a more memorable experience for people passing by and for building users.”

All developers want to deliver an experience that engages people through buildings. They don’t want to create buildings that are sterile, antiseptic and forgettable. But PC Urban goes so far as to believe it’s their “responsibility” to the growth and future of the city to create public spaces that are destinations, places you want to spend time.

The artists perspective

Mark Ashby, the artist behind Boids, the upcoming public art installation at IntraUrban, says he’s tried very hard to keep his art open-ended in its meaning. “I want to create an impactful visual experience, something eye catching, that people will notice and enjoy.”

Boids, Ashby’s 3D metal chevrons resembling birds in flight, will transform the non-descript concrete wall at IntraUrban into something vibrant and cool. Made from stainless steel sheet metal, the birds will reflect morning sunlight, cascade rainwater and cast shadows differently during the day. It will be a constantly changing view, one designed to make people think about flight as a metaphor for the small business owners inhabiting the space. “It captures the tenuousness of the entrepreneurial experience, as well as the exuberance of freedom,” says Ashby.

Pixel TreeRebecca Bayer, an artist who works on public art installations in Vancouver, will be creating Giant, a massive, snow-white, pixilated, half-tone tree, to be visible on the window of the new Lightworks building. It will not only reference the giant Douglas Firs that used to dominate this area, but it will also be the height of a 75 year old tree, the same age as the existing building.

“I want to honour the history of this place and raise awareness of what was,” she says. “Public art in Mount Pleasant has the power to mitigate the change between one era and the next. It allows different voices to be heard.”

Bayer believes in the impact public art can have on community: “It’s important for the city to have creativity as part of its infrastructure. It adds layers of interest and makes people more curious about their surroundings, the history of place and the potential of place. That awareness can really enhance people’s lives.”

An unprecedented voluntary investment in public art

If PC Urban can install public art on a little industrial building on Marine Drive, every developer can do it. It creates community and adds to the experience of a vibrant urban space. Many developers are passionate investors in art. Vancouver’s Audain family and Bob Rennie are just two examples. But according to Ballard, it’s unprecedented for a Vancouver developer to voluntarily invest in public art. It’s time to change that and to start embracing art as an essential element in building design.

“Maya Angelou has said: it’s not what you do. It’s not what you say. It’s how you make people feel,” says Sawchyn. “It’s our responsibility as designers and developers to leave the communities we build in with the best possible experience.”

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Canada’s top buildings honoured by BOMA Canada

Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada paid tribute to the winners of its national awards on Sept. 22 as part of its BOMEX 2016 conference and exhibition at the Delta Regina in Saskatchewan’s capital.

BOMA AwardsThe Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) Awards recognize quality in commercial real estate buildings and excellence in building management. Judging is based on: building standards; community impact; tenant relations; energy conservation; environmental, regulatory and sustainability practices; emergency preparedness; security standards; and training of building personnel. All entrants must be BOMA BEST certified.

Competition begins at the 11 BOMA Canada local associations, with qualified entries advancing to the national level. Each BOMA local association may submit only one building in each award category to the national competition.

TOBY Award winners

The TOBY winners were:

Under 100,000 Square Feet: 3115 Harvester Road, located at 3115 Harvester Rd. in Burlington, Ont., owned by Sun Life Canadian Real Estate Fund, and managed by Bentall Kennedy (Canada) LP.

100,000 to 249,999 Square Feet: 155 University Avenue, located at 155 University Ave. in Toronto, owned by Great-West Life Assurance Company and London Life Insurance Company, and managed by GWL Realty Advisors Inc.

250,000 to 499,999 Square Feet: Intact Place, located at 311/321 6th Ave. SW in Calgary, owned by British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, and managed by Bentall Kennedy (Canada) LP.

500,000 to One Million Square Feet: London City Centre, located at 275 Dundas St. and 380 Wellington St. in London, Ont., owned by Dream Office REIT, and managed by Dream Office Management Corporation.


Over One Million Square Feet: Toronto-Dominion Centre, located at TD Bank Tower (66 Wellington St. W.), TD North Tower (77 King St. W.), TD West Tower (100 Wellington St. W.), TD South Tower (79 Wellington St. W.) and Ernst & Young Tower (222 Bay St. 95 Wellington St. W.) in Toronto, owned by Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd. and OPB (TDC) Inc., and managed by Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd.

Corporate Facility: Air Terminal Building, located at 1000 Airport Rd. in Edmonton, and owned and managed by Edmonton Airports.

Historical Building: Triffo Hall, located at 11316-89 Ave. in Edmonton, and owned and managed by University of Alberta.

Industrial Office Building: Kennedy Matheson Industrial Complex, located at 550/570 Matheson Blvd. E. and 5655 Kennedy Rd. in Mississauga, Ont., owned by 3883281 Canada Inc., and managed by Menkes Property Management Services Ltd.

Medical Office Building: East Calgary Health Centre, located at 4715 8th Ave. SE in Calgary, and owned and managed by Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd.

Retail Building: CF Toronto Eaton Centre, located at 220 Yonge St. in Toronto, and owned and managed by Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd.

Earth Award winners

The Earth Awards are BOMA Canada’s recognition of excellence in resource preservation and environmentally sound commercial building management. They’re presented to buildings that have made significant efforts to address environmental issues faced by both older and newer buildings. All entrants must be BOMA BEST certified.

The Earth Award winners were:

Light Industrial: London Life RAM Centre, located at 670 Sovereign Rd. in London, owned by London Life Insurance Company, and managed by GWL Realty Advisors Inc. and London Life Insurance Company.

Multi-unit Residential Building: Carré Queen Mary, located at 5150-5165 Chemin Queen Mary in Montreal, owned by FCHT Holdings (Quebec) Corporation Inc., and managed by First Capital Realty Management Services LP.

Office Building: 25 York Street, located at 25 York St. in Toronto, owned by Menkes Union Tower Inc., and managed by Menkes Property Management Services Ltd.

Retail Building: Rockland Centre, located at 2305 Chemin Rockland in Ville Mont-Royal, Que., and owned and managed by FPI Cominar.

Pinnacle Award winners

BOMA Canada’s Pinnacle Awards recognize organizations and industry service providers who represent a standard of excellence to which all BOMA members and their employees should aspire. Innovation, teamwork, outstanding service and commitment to clients are taken into consideration when choosing recipients.

The Pinnacle Award winners were:

Above and Beyond: Paladin Security Group Ltd., located at 150-11634 142nd St. NW in Edmonton, Alta.

Customer Service: Oxford Properties Group, located at 1 University Ave. in Toronto.

Innovation: Triovest Realty Advisors Inc. and Refined Risk, located at 40 University Ave. in Toronto.

Individual award winners

Philip Jago of Ottawa, the recently retired buildings division director in Natural Resources Canada’s office of energy efficiency, received BOMA Canada’s Chairman’s Award. This honour is bestowed for longstanding leadership and outstanding commitment to the success of BOMA in Canada and the commercial real estate industry.

Constance Davis of Calgary, property manager for Strategic Group, received the BOMI Canada Vyetta Sunderland Scholarship Award. It was established by BOMI Canada in recognition of its former chair Vyetta Sunderland and her focus on excellence and lifelong commitment to education.

The $2,000 scholarship is awarded to a Canadian student in pursuit of advancing his or her property management career or entering the property management field.

Winners of the 2016 BOMA Canada National Awards may be eligible to compete in the BOMA International TOBY Awards at the BOMA International Building Conference and Expo from June 24 to 27, 2017 at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn.

BOMEX 2017 will take place in Toronto next Sept. 27 and 28.

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JLL forms partnerships with regional CRE firms

JLL has formed a national strategic partnership with commercial real estate service providers from three different Canadian regions where it doesn’t have corporate offices or licensing.

JLL and PartnersCapital Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. is based in Manitoba, ICR Commercial Real Estate is in Saskatchewan and Partners Global Corporate Real Estate covers Atlantic Canada.

“Our attention over the short term has been to concentrate on major markets,” said JLL Canada president Brett Miller. “However, some of our national and international clients need representation in these additional provinces, so we turned to the best-in-class local firms to partner with us.

“We have a long history with them, they hold deep market knowledge and also demonstrate JLL’s core values of excellence, integrity and teamwork.”

JLL has presence around the world

JLL has more than 280 corporate offices in more than 80 countries and has a global workforce of more than 60,000. It provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a four-billion-square-foot portfolio and completed $138 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2015.

The three new partnerships will allow JLL to better service clients in the respective regions and expand its brand.

“Our strategic partners will help JLL through impeccable service delivery in their niche markets,” said Miller. “In turn, JLL will provide them access to a global network and best-in-class tools and technologies.

“The teams will work collaboratively on assignments, share revenues from those assignments and pursue business in a synergistic manner.”


Capital, ICR and Partners

Capital Commercial is based in Winnipeg and provides: retail, office and industrial sales and leasing; investment property sales; and development services. It also provides professional property management services through Capital Property Management.

ICR was founded in 1993 and is Saskatchewan’s largest privately owned real estate company. It has four offices in Saskatoon and Regina and also services the province’s smaller markets. ICR employs more than 120 people and manages more than $2 billion in real estate assets for its clients. The firm specializes in selling and leasing commercial properties and is known for its expertise in commercial development and repurposing existing buildings.

Partners Global was founded in 2003 in Halifax by Larry Sowerby and Brian Toole. It has since opened New Brunswick offices in Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton as well as a Newfoundland office in St. John’s. Partners Global has leased in excess of six million square feet of commercial office space and sold commercial real estate valued at more than $100 million. The company has extensive experience in: tenant and build-to-suit advisory services; leasing; sales; and site selection.

“These partnerships were not created overnight,” said Miller. “They developed through years of successful shared transactions, client service and friendship.”

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Part two: Technology is going to change everything

There’s never been a better moment in the history of commercial real estate in Calgary, or anywhere in the world. And the lessons we can learn from the Calgary marketplace apply regardless of where you live, or even what industry you’re in.  This sentence sets the context for this three part article about how technology is impacting the real estate industry.  Part one describes key disrupters and ended with description of what Millennials are doing?  


End of the inflexible office

In terms of our commercial real estate case-study, I think it means nothing less than the death of the long-term inflexible office lease. Everyone in office sales or leasing should really think about that. Everything you know about marketing your business is based on the idea that you are selling five-year legal contracts that bind the buyer to a space commitment in a very inflexible way for an extended period of time. The Millennials want none of that. It’s going to change the world of office-leasing. In fact, it’s going to cause all kinds of disruption.

Now let’s look at industrial real estate, as another example of the massive opportunities in store.

We’ve all heard of “The Industrial Revolution”, and anyone with even a vague memory of high school history class remembers how much of a game changer that was. People started going to work in factories. The 9-5 work day was born. Mass production meant mass consumption. Short vacations. Slave labour. The creation of the entire concept of upward mobility. Child labour. The invention of a middle class. The invention of the working poor. The need for large industrial buildings. The need to move goods and services all over the world on trains and boats and airplanes: most of which had not been invented yet.

An industrial revolution

Well, call me crazy but I think new technologies are pushing us into another industrial revolution and that the impact on commercial real estate, and the world, will be just as big if not bigger.

For example, the Blade is a car that goes from 0-60 in about 2.5 seconds. That’s faster than a McLaren P1 supercar. But it isn’t made in a massive factory with specialized equipment for producing supercars. It’s printed on a 3D printer.

3D printing technology allows small startups to enter the auto-manufacturing industry without all of the typical barriers involved. It is estimated that the cost of developing a traditional car factory is US $1 billion, while the cost of a “micro factory” to produce these cars would cost roughly $20 million. So emerging tech, in the form of 3D printers, has completely altered the auto-manufacturing landscape.

Here’s another example. The UN estimates that by 2030, approximately 3 billion people will require housing, and 3D printers are being considered as a possible solution to that. A Chinese company, WinSun, has a 3D printer that printed 10 houses in 24 hours last year. The process saves between 30-60% of construction waste, decreases production time by 50-70%, and labour costs between 50-80%. That’s the entire residential construction industry up-ended.

Still not convinced?

Wedding rings can be customized to the finger, at far lower cost than traditional wedding rings. This is now a common practice in jewelry making.

3D printers can make steaks and sausages by replicating stem cells taken from live donor animals, which is more sustainable, ethical, and practical.

This 3D printing stuff – most people think it’s sort of fun and cute and wacky. But really, it’s the next industrial revolution. You won’t need a factory to sew those t-shirts and you won’t need people to pack them up and you won’t need to ship them to the airport and then across the world to warehouses that hold on to them for a little while until it’s time to ship them to the retail store where someone unpacks the boxes and hangs them up on hangers until consumers walk into the store and buy the sweater and pay for the sweater and then go back home.

You need NONE OF THAT.

You need a piece of programming that consumers download so they can print your product on the 3D printer in their kitchen.

Here’s a bust of me, done on a 3D printer in my friend, Douglas Coupland’s dining room. He scanned me with his cell phone. It took about 30 minutes to print. It’s made of cornstarch. The printer cost less than $500. So it’s a toy version, for now, of what is being used in the real-world, right now, to make all kinds of things happen.

Admittedly the consumer versions of this technology are at the dot-matrix-printer stage. But give it a year. Soon we will all have a rudimentary 3D printer in our homes.

And they won’t be rudimentary for long.

Read part three of this article in next week’s edition of Property Biz Canada on September 29, 2106.


DAVID ALLISON advises clients across Canada and the USA about how to build a great brand and tell a great story. He has worked on hundreds of commercial, residential, industrial and recreational real estate projects around the world.

He was the national VP Marketing for a Canadian luxury real estate brokerage. He was VP Marketing for a global real-estate project-marketing operation with offices in 70+ countries around the world.

He’s written three books on real estate development marketing, won numerous industry awards, taught masters and undergraduate university marketing classes, and served on the board of the Urban Development Institute Pacific Region for 5 years.

He is a frequent speaker, writes for industry publications, and in 2015 was named Editor-at-large by the Urban Development Institute.



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Volume and value of Vancouver apartment sales rise

Greater Vancouver’s multi-family sector is still in overdrive, as investors have pushed up sales volumes and values significantly from the same period a year ago.

Meridian Apartments“We are doing so many proposals for clients now who never would have previously considered selling,” said Mark Goodman, principal with The Goodman Report and HQ Commercial.

Goodman’s company sold 24 properties worth more than $300 million in the first eight months of this year. Overall, there have been 145 multi-family transactions through August, compared to 101 last year. The value of transactions is just over $1.3 billion so far, a 93 per cent increase over last year for the same time frame.

A lot of apartment owners who’ve held off selling for years may now want to retire or find themselves with older buildings requiring more maintenance and capital expenditures, and the high prices their properties can fetch is an added incentive.

“Now is the best time to sell”

“Now is the best time to sell because the demand is there and the concerns are that there may be a shift in the market,” said Goodman.

“When you see a lot more product coming on the market there’s a lot more competition, and more supply could mean a leveling off or even a decline in prices. I’m not saying that’s going to happen, but there’s a lot more product coming on the market right now.”

The Kitsilano, Kerrisdale, South Granville and University of British Columbia neighbourhoods generally have the highest values, and that’s reflected in the rents they can achieve. Goodman said value-add buyers are acquiring 50-year-old apartments, investing $50,000 per unit to renovate them, and then doubling rents from $1.50 to three dollars per square foot.

“I’ve seen up to $3.75 per square foot for a really nice retrofitted suite. You can’t get that same level of rent bump in the suburbs, so you have to be a bit more selective of the property and how much money you want to put into it.”


Burnaby and New Westminster are active

Burnaby is the most active suburb for multi-family transactions, particularly in Metrotown, as properties are being acquired for redevelopment. New Westminster and North Vancouver follow while, at the other end of the spectrum, Surrey, Mission and Port Moody have seen much slower building turnover.

The 15 per cent tax introduced for foreign buyers of Greater Vancouver residential properties has had a negligible effect on the purpose-built, multi-family market. Local investors and institutional money are driving the bulk of sales. Just two of HQ Commercial’s last 50 sales were to foreign owners and Goodman estimates that two to three per cent of purpose-built apartments in the region are owned by foreigners.

“The apartment business is very hands-on and management-intensive at times, so you’d have to have a local group here to handle it. “

HQ Commercial hires Cynthia Jagger

HQ Commercial has become so busy that it recently hired Cynthia Jagger as a broker. She was a senior appraiser at Altus Group, specializing in multi-family land and apartment buildings, and has underwritten and provided guidance on some of the biggest land deals in Vancouver’s history.

“This is the first time where any brokerage has hired someone of this calibre and with this expertise in doing very complex residuals for developers,” said Goodman. “She has extensive knowledge and relationships with a lot of institutional groups and pension funds and brings another level to our operations here.”

Meridian is new purpose-built rental project

HQ Commercial’s biggest new listing is a purpose-built luxury rental apartment and townhouse project called Meridian in Langley being built by Tannin Developments, which has been responsible for several apartments, condominiums and townhouse projects in British Columbia.

The apartment complex features a five-storey, 90-suite apartment building that’s scheduled for completion in January. The very rare rental townhouse complex features 24 three-level homes with rooftop decks that are scheduled for completion in September 2017. Meridian is on the market for $47.5 million, which works out to $468.52 per square foot. It will provide annual net operating income of $1.91 million.

“The suites have really good layouts,” said Goodman. “It will have all of the modern trappings that you would expect to see in a condo building.”

There’s private secured parking for each apartment unit, secured bicycle storage, storage lockers on each floor as well as surface parking for visitors. The townhomes include two parking stalls per unit and eight visitor spots.

A stand-alone amenity building for apartment and townhome tenants features: a secure outdoor area with a playground; an entertainment room with a gas fireplace, children’s play area and a full kitchen for functions; a 16-seat theatre room; and a workout gym with separate cardio and yoga spaces.

Meridian is situated close to a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, Willowbrook Shopping Centre, recreational centres and an elementary school. Parks, a BMX bike trail, golf courses and equestrian centres for horseback riding are also nearby.

The Kaleden is renting for less than market values

Another HQ Commercial new listing is The Kaleden, a wood-frame walk-up rental apartment building featuring eight two-bedroom and three one-bedroom suites. It’s located on the northwest corner of West 13th Avenue and Oak Street in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood, near transit routes and a hospital.

The Kaleden was built in 1950 and underwent major renovations in 2008 and from 2013 through this year. The asking price is $6.545 million. While rents in the building now average $1.88 per square foot, Goodman said it’s conceivable that they could reach three dollars once current tenants leave.

“The prospective investor will have a clean and well-maintained building with a great suite mix and, on turnover, they won’t have to touch the suites. They’ll just remarket it.”

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Canadian home sales strengthen further in May

Mon, 06/15/2015 – 09:00

Ottawa, ON, June 15, 2015 – According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity posted a fourth consecutive month-over-month increase in May 2015.


  • National home sales rose 3.1% from April to May.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.7% above May 2014 levels.
  • The number of newly listed homes was little changed from April to May.
  • The Canadian housing market remains balanced overall.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.17% year-over-year in May.
  • The national average sale price rose 8.1% on a year-over-year basis in May; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 2.4%.

The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate

Boards and Associations rose 3.1 per cent in May 2015 compared to April. This marks the fourth consecutive month-over-month increase and raises national activity to its highest level in more than five years. (Chart A)

May sales were up from the previous month in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by increases in the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal.

“CMHC announced in April that effective June 1 it was hiking mortgage default insurance premiums for homebuyers with less than a 10% down payment, so some buyers may have jumped off the fence and purchased in May to beat the increase,” said CREA President Pauline Aunger. “It’s one of the factors that could have affected sales last month. That said, all real estate is local, with trends that reflect a combination of local and national factors. REALTORS® remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future.”

“Sales in and around the Greater Toronto area played a starring role in the monthly increase in May sales,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “At the same time, the rebound in sales over the past few months in Calgary and Edmonton suggests that heightened uncertainty among some home buyers in these housing markets may be easing.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in May 2015 stood 2.7 per cent above levels reported for the same month last year and 5.7 per cent above the 10 year average for the month.

Sales were up on a year-over-year basis in about half of all local markets, led by activity in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Greater Toronto and Montreal.

The number of newly listed homes was virtually unchanged (-0.2 per cent) in May compared to April. This reflects an even split between housing markets where new listings rose and where they fell, with little monthly change for new listings in most of Canada’s largest and most active urban markets.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 57.6 per cent in May, up from a low of 50.4 per cent in January when it reached its most balanced point since March 2013. The ratio has risen steadily along with sales so far this year as new supply has remained little changed.

A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers’ and buyers’ markets respectively. The ratio was within this range in about half of local housing markets in May. About a third of local markets were above the 60 per cent threshold in May, comprised mostly of markets in and around the Greater Toronto Area and markets in British Columbia.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

The national balance between supply and demand has tightened since the beginning of the year, when buyers had more negotiating power than they had in nearly two years. There were 5.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of May 2015, its lowest reading in three years.

The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose by 5.17 per cent on a year-over-year basis in May, up slightly from the 4.97 per cent year-over-year gain logged in April. Gains have generally held to the range from five to five and a half per cent since the beginning of 2014. (Chart B)

Year-over-year price growth accelerated in May in all Benchmark home categories tracked by the index with the exception of one-storey single family homes.

Two-storey single family homes continue to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+7.18 per cent), with more modest increases for one-storey single family homes (+4.11 per cent), townhouse/row units (+4.09 per cent) and apartment units (+2.91 per cent).

Year-over-year price growth varied among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater

Vancouver (+9.41 per cent) and Greater Toronto (+8.90 per cent) continued to post by far the biggest year-over-year price increases. By comparison, Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island prices all recorded year-over-year gains of about four per cent in May.

Price gains in Calgary continued to slow, with a year-over-year increase of just 1.21 per cent in May. This was the smallest gain in more than three years and the eleventh consecutive monthly slowdown in year-over-year price growth.

Elsewhere, prices held steady on a year-over-year basis in Saskatoon and Ottawa, rose slightly in Greater Montreal and fell by about three per cent in Regina and Greater Moncton.

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends than is possible using averages because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in May 2015 was $450,886, up 8.1 per cent on a year-over-year basis.

The national average home price continues to be upwardly distorted by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. If these two markets are excluded from calculations, the average is a more modest $344,988 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to 2.4 per cent.

– 30 –


PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national sales information from MLS® Systems from the previous month.


CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.

MLS® Systems are co-operative marketing systems used only by Canada’s real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 109,000 REALTORS® working through some 90 real estate Boards and Associations.

Further information can be found at http://crea.ca/statistics.

For more information, please contact:

Pierre Leduc, Media Relations
The Canadian Real Estate Association
Tel.: 613-237-7111 or 613-884-1460
E-mail: pleduc@crea.ca

CREA Updates Resale Housing Forecast

Mon, 06/15/2015 – 08:58

Ottawa, ON, June 15 2015 – The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations for 2015 and 2016.

While oil prices have firmed up recently, they remain well down from where they were a year ago and their outlook remains uncertain. The extent to which lower oil prices will continue to weigh on the Canadian economy also remains uncertain. In the Prairie region, this is dampening consumer confidence and sidelining potential homebuyers.

When CREA published its previous forecast in March, a rush of homeowners in Alberta had listed their property for sale. Since then, new supply has sharply pulled back. CREA’s forecast remains for a continued gradual improvement in home sales and housing market conditions in oil-producing provinces in line with further gradual oil price gains.

Home sales elsewhere in Canada are continuing to evolve mostly as expected, with the exception of a slower than expected spring market in Nova Scotia due to extraordinarily inclement weather and stronger than expected sales activity across much of British Columbia.

Low rise property markets remain tight in parts of British Columbia and Ontario. These are the only two provinces where a shortage of listings for low rise homes is expected to fuel average price gains above inflation this year.

In other provinces, listings have begun to decline but remain elevated. Average prices across the Prairies, Quebec and the Atlantic region are unlikely to see much in the way of price growth over the forecast horizon as sales gradually deplete listings.

The forecast for national sales in 2015 has been revised upward, reflecting stronger than anticipated activity in British Columbia. National sales are now projected to rise by 1.3 per cent to 487,200 units in 2015, which is slightly above its 10-year annual average.

British Columbia is projected to post the largest annual increase in activity in 2015 (+12.2 per cent), while Alberta and Saskatchewan are expected to post the largest annual sales declines (-18.2 per cent and -12.9 per cent respectively). Modest changes in annual home sales are forecast for all other provinces.


The forecast for national average home price growth has been revised upward to $429,400 for an annual increase of 5.2 per cent in 2015. This reflects forecast average price gains in British Columbia and Ontario together with a projected increase in their proportion of national sales. British Columbia is expected to be the only province where average price rises faster (8.5 per cent) than the national average, while the rise in Ontario’s average price (5.6 per cent) is predicted to be roughly in line with the national increase.

Average prices are projected to remain largely stable in other provinces this year, with annual changes ranging between plus or minus one per cent. The exception is Alberta, where average price is forecast to slip by 2.8 per cent amid a pullback in higher-priced property sales activity.

In 2016, national sales activity is forecast to reach 491,200 units, a further annual gain of 0.8 per cent. The increase reflects an anticipated rise in sales activity in Alberta and Saskatchewan, in line with a gradual improvement in their economic outlook.

Although sales in British Columbia are expected to remain strong in 2016, it is the only province where they are forecast to moderate (-2.9 per cent) due to stretched affordability. Strengthening economic prospects should translate into slow and steady gains in other provinces where home sales have struggled in recent years while prices remained more affordable due to an elevated supply of listings.

The national average price is forecast to rise by a further 1.7 per cent to $436,700 in 2016, with larger percentage increases in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. Price growth in 2016 is forecast to be strongest in Ontario (+2.6 per cent) due to an ongoing supply shortage of listings for low rise homes in and around the Greater Toronto Area. An improvement in the share of higher-priced sales activity is anticipated to boost average prices in Alberta (+2.4 per cent).

Gains of around two per cent are forecast for British Columbia and Manitoba, and around one per cent for Saskatchewan and Quebec. Average home prices in the Atlantic region are forecast to hold steady in 2016.

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About The Canadian Real Estate Association

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada's largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 100,000 real estate Brokers/agents and salespeople working through more than 100 real estate Boards and Associations.

For more information, please contact:

Pierre Leduc, Media Relations
The Canadian Real Estate Association
Tel.: 613-237-7111 or 613-884-1460
E-mail: pleduc@crea.ca­


Systems Administrator (12 Months Contract)

Systems Administrator (12 Months Contract)
Tue, 06/02/2015

Reports to:
Manager, ITS Operations

Type of position:
12 Months Contract

General Description:
Provide second level of support; participate in the design, architecture, deployment, monitoring maintenance and turning of highly available physical and virtual systems, web applications and infrastructure to deliver quality IT services, optimize performance and maintain service levels.


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Bank of Canada stays on the sidelines

Fri, 05/29/2015 – 09:45

Ottawa, ON, May 29, 2015 –The Bank of Canada announced on May 27th, 2015 that it was keeping its trend-setting overnight lending rate at 0.75 per cent.

The Bank of Canada announced on May 27th, 2015 that it was keeping its trend-setting overnight lending rate at 0.75 per cent.

Economic growth in the first quarter was weaker than the Bank expected, but it “expects a return to solid growth in the second quarter.” It still believes that exports and business investment will pick up and that the Canadian economy will grow by just under 2 per cent this year.

The Bank thinks the economic fallout from low oil prices will be neatly limited to the first quarter. If it proves to be longer lasting, the Bank may downgrade its economic outlook again and further delay raising interest rates. Financial markets currently expect the Bank to start raising interest rates in the second half of 2016.

The Bank sets interest rates so that inflation stays around 2% (plus or minus 1%). Economic growth plays an important role in the Bank’s assessment of the outlook for inflation. Its announcement said, “seeing through the various temporary factors, the Bank estimates that the underlying trend of inflation is 1.6 to 1.8 per cent, consistent with persistent slack in the economy.” This makes clear the Bank has little reason to raise its trend-setting Bank rate anytime soon.

The Bank’s announcement ended by saying “a number of complex adjustments are under way.” and suggested “their net effect will need to be assessed as more data become available in the months ahead.” In the meantime, interest rates will remain supportive for Canadian home sales and prices.

As of May 27th, 2015, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 4.64 per cent, unchanged from the previous Bank rate announcement on April 15th and down 0.15 percentage points from one year ago.

The next interest rate announcement will be on July 15th, 2015 and will be accompanied by an update to the Monetary Policy report.

(CREA 05/27/2015)