Shopify Inc.has announced that it will be opening its latest
3.2-hectare mixed-use development in Toronto’s downtown area by
The expansion will come together with the e-commerce firm’s
upsizing of its workforce in the city, doubling it to 1,500 within
“Shopify has been present in Toronto for seven years and what
we’ve found is this is a great place to build a really wonderful
tech company,” Shopify director of user experience Amy Thibodeau
told BNN Bloomberg.
Thibodeau added that Shopify is not backing out from the heated
competition among companies in Toronto, especially tech firms vying
for the attention of skilled industry professionals.
“We’re not a satellite office ...and that makes Shopify unique
and compelling in this city,” she said.“And I think more
competition is good for Toronto.”
The development will be situated in the King and Portland
Centre.At present, Shopify has around 700 employees spread across
two locations and seven offices in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and
Waterloo.The company has a total of around 4,000 employees
Warehouses, retail locations, and other similar commercial
installations remain the investment assets of choice in Toronto’s
commercial property market, according to a Q1 2019 analysis by
Industrial property saw $817 million in sales during the first
quarter alone, impelled by
The commercial real estate sector sometimes gets short-shrifted
when it comes to accessing data—unlike the residential sector which
enjoys copious quantities from all corners—but one technology and
analytics company is changing that.
CoStar Group, founded in the United States over three
decades ago, has grown into a multinational company with several
Canadian branches, including in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary,
Edmonton, Ottawa and, soon, Montreal.
“You could look at it from two different sides,” said Roelof Van
Djk, CoStar’s market economist for Canada.“We’re a data analytics
company, and with our data we’re trying to be the go-to source for
data in the commercial real estate industry.When you look at where
the industry has gotten data in the past, it’s usually been one
source, but we want to answer all the different questions our
pertinent clients have—whether they’re brokerages, landlords,
investors, even tenants and vendors.It’s not just data on the
ground floor but the analytics behind that, and that’s what my team
brings to the table:analytics forecasting.”
Co-Star entered the Canadian market via Toronto in 2014, but not
without years of due diligence so that it could hit the ground
running with myriad offerings for its clients, which also include
some of the REITs in the world.
“First and foremost, you have to look at where CoStar
As the bank of mom and dad’s popularity shows nary a sign of
abating, there are crucial things for parents helping their
children become homeowners to consider.
Chief among them, says Jason Davenport, branch manager of
Meridian Credit Union Greektown location in Toronto, is the legal
obligation—specifically whether or not parents are gifting or
loaning their child money.
“If it’s a gift, most financial institutions require a gift
letter,” he said.“That’s important if things break down before the
house gets sold.If it’s a loan, the money can be secured against
the house often in second position, if mom and dad are worried
“If it’s a matrimonial home and the excited parents give them a
gift, but the marriage breaks down, then the gift becomes part of
the home’s equity and there’s no way to recover it.You’re going to
lose half of those funds to the other party.But if you want to
guard against that, you could create a loan and put a lean against
the house.If the marriage breaks down and the house is sold, after
the bank takes its share from the remaining equity, you can recoup
those funds.But, without anything like that, for all intents and
purposes, that money is gone for the parents.”
Mom and dad also
The rate of rent growth in Toronto and Vancouver offices will
noticeably slow down over the next few years, continuing the easing
already visible this quarter, according to an analysis by CoStar
This deceleration will become more evident with the influx of
new offices to be completed in the near future.Within five years,
work on as many as 25 new office or mixed-use buildings is
projected to be finished in downtown Toronto, along with 15 new
towers in Vancouver.
In downtown Toronto, the 6% annual rent growth during Q2 2019
was noticeably lower than the peak of approximately 8% seen at the
end of 2017.
In downtown Vancouver, the similarly 6% rent growth during this
quarter was nearly half the 11% peak in Q3 2018.CoStar further
predicted that this would improve to 1.5% by 2022.
“Vacancies are incredibly low in those two markets, rental rate
growth has peaked, we’re seeing it come down in the data points
were collecting,” CoStar director of market analytics (Canada)
Roelof van Dijk told Bloomberg.
“Our forecasts show it’ll continue to come down as the new
supply comes online in both of those markets, specifically in the
In four years, Toronto’s vacancy level is expected to go up to
around 6%, from
Toronto City Council can learn a thing or two from Newmarket
Council after the latter approved a new zoning bylaw for its Urban
The Urban Centres Zoning By-law for the Yonge St.and Davis
Dr.area updates regulations surrounding permitted land uses,
building heights, densities and right-sizing parking, and in doing
so the Town of Newmarket hopes to attract business.
“This will bring in almost 20 million square feet of mixed-use
space literally overnight, so you can expect to see the fruits of
that happen within a year or two after that,” said Adrian Cammaert,
senior policy planner for the Town of Newmarket.“This is the final
piece of the puzzle we’ve been working on for quite some time to
grow our centres and corridors.”
Newmarket Council held wide-ranging consultations with the
development community to determine the kind of bylaws the latter
would prefer, which Cammaert says helped commence a
“We did it to get valuable input on the bylaw the development
industry would prefer to see in this area, but it also let them
know about our project and what they can expect from us and how it
will benefit them,” he said.
Yonge St.and Davis Dr.was selected as a growth hub in 2005 when
the Places to Grow Act
A report commissioned for the government of British Columbia
warned that money laundering in real estate is widespread across
Canada – but a government official in Alberta is alleging that the
conclusions are based on unreliable data.
According to the report from former B.C.deputy attorney general
Maureen Maloney, more than $7 billion in dirty money was laundered
in the province in 2018, hiking the cost of buying a home by about
5%.The report also estimated that Alberta had $10 billion washed
through its economy.
laundering causes 5% price spike in B.C.
The report used the “gravity model” to determine how much money
was laundered within the country and how much moves between Canada
and other countries.“The basic idea behind the model is that there
are worldwide proceeds of crime, stemming from drugs, corruption,
theft, fraud etc.,” Maloney said in the report.
“The gravity model assumes that total world proceeds of crime
set aside for laundering will be allocated around the world
according to the attractiveness of countries according to both
affinity and physical distance.”
However, Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s Minister of Justice and
Solicitor-General, told the Globe and Mail that the data
may be questionable.
“The figure presented for Alberta appears to be the product
Calls for a public inquiry on money laundering are mounting in
British Columbia following the release of two reports that revealed
the extent of the problem in the province – but a former
B.C.attorney general is urging officials to set clear goals and a
fixed timeline before an inquiry is launched.
The reports revealed that more than $7 billion was laundered in
B.C.in 2018, causing the cost of buying a home to increase about
5%.“Our housing market should be used for housing people, not for
laundering the proceeds of crime,” said Carole James, minister of
finance of B.C.
laundering causes 5% price spike in B.C.
“The amount of money being laundered in B.C.and through real
estate is much more than anyone predicted.Our government is
tackling the housing crisis head-on and taking action to combat the
money laundering that has been allowed to drive up housing costs
for British Columbians for far too long.”
However, former B.C.attorney general Wally Oppal said that
officials should establish set goals before launching an inquiry to
avoid a prolonged investigation.
“A lot of good things can come of them, but before governments
establish inquiries, they should first of all ask themselves:What
questions need to be answered?Did something go wrong?And what are
An expert panel’s report on money laundering in British Columba
determined ill-gotten gains contributed to real estate prices
spiking 5% in 2018.
Overall, $7.4 billion was laundered in the province last year,
$5b of which went through real estate.But the panel, led by former
B.C.deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney, determined that money
laundering is more prevalent in Alberta, Ontario and the Prairies
than it is in Canada’s third-largest province.
“What this report makes clear is this is not an issue simply for
B.C.,” Finance Minister Carole James said during a Thursday news
conference.“This is an issue for all of Canada.This is an issue for
James added that the B.C.government is prepared to take
“They key here is we’re not waiting,” she said, “Yes, we need to
work with the other provinces.Yes, we need to work with the federal
How the government will tackle the problem of money laundering
remains to be seen, but it isn’t implausible to think that sweeping
legislation could be on the horizon.Arguably more arduous than
curbing money laundering is the process of restoring confidence in
a real estate market that’s grown beyond the reach of most
residents, especially in Vancouver.
Robert Mogensen, a broker with The Mortgage Advantage, hopes
that the provincial
Sales activity in the Greater Toronto Area investment market
considerably slowed down in Q1 2019, according to a new quarterly
analysis by Altus Group.
A total of 502 investment property sales valued at over $1
million transpired in the GTA during the quarter, and overall
investment stood at $4.1 billion.This made Q1 2019 the fifth
consecutive quarter of decline in investments, with the total
volume fully 29% lower than the level seen in Q1 2018.The deal
count was also the lowest measured since Q1 2015.
However, Altus assured that the trend was impelled more by
product shortages than by lack of demand, “as investor sentiment
“Quality asset supply issues continue, translating to a decline
in overall investment activity.Demand for these assets has driven
Toronto to a year-over-year decline in overall cap rates at 4.25%
to 4.15% in Q1 2019,” the analysis noted.
The GTA’s land market led the charge, representing 32% ($1.3
billion) of total sales for that quarter.The sale of the Celestica
Campus in North York (valued at nearly $348 million) was the
largest residential land transaction for Q1 2019.
The industrial sector was the region’s most traded asset during
Q1 2019, but the volume was not enough to prevent losses as the
total transaction value went down
The B.C.government has launched a public education initiative to
improve security and fairness in the province’s rental market.
As the first step in addressing various recommendations offered
recently by a rental housing task force, B.C.’s Ministry of
Municipal Affairs and Housing has promised to bolster public
education and enforcement to protect renters’ and landlords’
“To make renting work better for everyone, we need to make sure
both renters and landlords know their rights under the law and have
a place to go when there's an issue with those rights,” Municipal
Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said, as quoted by The
The Ministry noted that the campaign, which will be funded by
the province through Landlord BC and the Tenant Resource and
Advisory Centre, will particularly aim at enlightening the public
about renovictions – especially the cases when ending a tenant’s
term could be considered illegal or unnecessary.
The Ministry added that a new compliance and enforcement unit,
nested in the Residential Tenancy Branch, will investigate and
penalize repeat or serious offenders among renters and landlords
“Housing is the foundation of people’s lives.We want to create a
rental market where there are no surprises, renters and landlords
are treated fairly and there is better security for both sides,”
Trying to put a positive spin on Vancouver’s luxury property
prices—where a two-bedroom, 1,831 square foot condo costs
$2,660,000—is a tall order.
Sure, in Monaco, a three-bedroom apartment in the District de
Fontvieille will go for $14,897,938, and in Hong Kong a
three-bedroom apartment on Kennedy Rd.goes for $13,635,200—making
that downtown condo in Vancouver look like a bargain.
However, the population of Vancouver proper in 2017 was 675,218,
and presuming it has hitherto increased, it will likely only be a
marginal boost.Monaco’s population is considerably less, but it’s a
known playground for the wealthy.In 2017, Hong Kong estimated its
population was 7.392 million, so how does a two-bedroom unit go for
over $2 million in Vancouver?
“[Comparing Vancouver to global markets] is totally
incongruent,” said Robert Mogensen, a broker with The Mortgage
Advantage.“Vancouver is a branch office city, not a head office
city, for one thing.It’s not a central banking city like those
other world cities, so to compare it is ridiculous.Is it a pleasant
place to live?Yes.Is it great for proximity to the mountains for
skiing, or for going golfing?Yes.But it’s still a branch office
Point2 Homes recently made the comparison, and while it does
have merit—Vancouver is a global real estate staple and prices are
a relative bargain compared to those
Amid cooler market conditions in Canada, the UK-based Grosvenor
Group has posted better-than-expected revenue in 2018, according to
the firm’s latest earnings report.
With Canada offices situated in Calgary and Vancouver, Grosvenor
develops, manages, and invests in primarily retail, office, and
residential property in more than 60 cities worldwide.
The privately-owned property business saw its total Canadian
return for last year more than double to 5.5%, from the 2.7%
performance in 2017.
Grosvenor noted that this level – which was the firm’s third
strongest Canadian performance to date – came about in spite of
sluggish activity in the West Coast.
Among the company’s highlights was its Grosvenor Ambleside
project in Vancouver.
“2018 saw the completion of the first phase of Grosvenor
Ambleside, our landmark mixed-use development that has revitalised
a beloved but underused neighbourhood in West Vancouver,” the
firm’s report stated.
“As well as high-quality residences, we have created a vibrant
public plaza with restaurants, shops and public art.”
Such large-scale developments in Vancouver helped boost the
national housing starts trend to 206,103 units in April, the Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported in its latest study.
The city’s multi-family starts went up by 3% annually, helping
offset the 2% decline in starts across all housing types.
The median sizes of new condos in Vancouver and Toronto have
been on a significant downward trajectory over the last few years,
according to a Better Dwelling analysis of assessments and
floor area numbers from Statistics Canada.
Newly built units in Vancouver are approximately 16% smaller
than the city’s peak condo size, which was seen between 1971 and
1991.A unit dating from 2016 to 2017 measured 769 square feet on
average, around 3.6% smaller than a unit built between 2011 and
The decrease was even more dramatic in Toronto – an unexpected
result considering the prevalence of tiny units in Vancouver,
Better Dwelling stated.
Toronto’s newest condos are nearly a full 40% smaller than the
market’s peak condo size seen in 1990.The average-sized unit in
2016 and 2017 was 647 sq.ft., a floor area 5% lower than that
in a condo built from 2011 to 2015.
“Toronto condos had a median size of 1,070 sq ft.from 1981 to
1990, 16.81% larger than Vancouver during the same period.Worth
remembering that Toronto is both ‘cheaper’ and less densely
populated than Vancouver,” the analysis added.
Assessed condo unit values in these markets also considerably
exceed those of other housing types, separate figures from
Statistics Canada indicated.
“The gap between
Long-term residential leases aren’t popular in North America
like they are in other parts of the world, but a Vancouver-based
company endeavours to change that.
With Eventide, Deecorp Properties is offering a three-unit
luxury boutique condominium on the sunniest part of the downtown
peninsula.The kicker:Chosen residents will be living there on a
“There are quite a few advantages,” said Stanley Dee, Deecorp’s
president and CEO. “There’s no transfer tax if ever someone
wants to move, but there’s also less cash outlay, meaning we’re in
a situation where we can rent on an annual basis or it can be
prepaid for 30 years.They pay slightly under half of the value,
which is essentially the freehold value on a 30-year prepaid
The British Columbia government recently introduced a few
regulatory measures to curb rapid price escalation in Vancouver,
Canada’s third-largest, yet most expensive, city.But where there’s
no purchase, there’s no tax, says Dee.
“It helps avoid the vacancy tax and the foreign buyer tax,” he
said, “because there’s no purchase;just a lease.In Canada, if
you’re 30 years or less there’s no transfer tax, which starts at 2%
and goes up to 5%, so that would be $500,000 on a $10 million
Dee stresses that the 30-year lease wasn’t conjured in a
Of the Greater Toronto Area’s residential property types,
detached homes magnetized the strongest demand in the market last
month, according to updated numbers from the Toronto Real Estate
Sales volume in the asset class grew by a significant 21.9%
annually, markedly above the average sales growth (16.8%
year-over-year for a total of 9,042 transactions) across all
Price growth considerably lagged behind, however, with only a
1.9% annual gain to reach $820,148.Much of the weakness stemmed
from the inhibiting influence of B-20’s mortgage stress tests, TREB
“While sales were up year-over-year in April, it is important to
note that they remain well below April levels for much of the past
decade,” TREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer explained, as
quoted by BNN Bloomberg.
“Many potential homebuyers arguably remain on the sidelines as
they reassess their options in light of the OSFI-mandated two
percentage point stress test on mortgages.”
Ontario Real Estate Association CEO Tim Hudak said early last
week that the federal government should now consider a sharp
about-face from the policy, warning that it has already done damage
“beyond what many thought was the worst case.”
Despite the boost provided by a healthy economic engine, there
were 11% fewer housing resales natonwide in 2018 compared to