New mortgage stress test, Google Sidewalk Labs coming to Toronto to transform the waterfront, condos getting more family-friendly and real estate lifestyle videos gaining popularity. Last week's best real estate reads in our short recap:
According to the latest lending restrictions announced by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) on October 17th, even home buyers who don’t require mortgage insurance because they have a 20 per cent down payment, will have to prove they can make meet their commitment if interest rates rise above the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or 2 per cent higher than their contracted mortgage rate, whichever is higher.
The experts warn that the new regulations will dampen the housing market after the guidelines take effect in January 2018. The measures might affect the move-up buyers the most because they are usually the ones who qualify for uninsured mortgages, which account for 46 per cent of country's total mortgage credit.
The Globe and Mail: Google's Sidewalk Labs signs deal for 'smart city' makeover of Toronto's waterfront
Architecture critic and The Globe and Mail columnist Alex Bozikovic suggests that the partnership between a U.S. urban-innovation lab and a government agency could bring a bold experiment in city-building and high-tech to Toronto. A unit of Google's parent company, devoted to urban innovation, has signed a deal to map out a new kind of neighbourhood on Toronto's waterfront that could demonstrate how data-driven technology can improve the quality of city life.
If the initiative proceeds, it would include at least 3.3 million square feet of residential, office and commercial space, including a new headquarters for Google Canada, in a district that would be a test bed for the combination of technology and urbanism. "Sidewalk Toronto" would represent North America's largest example of a smart city.
Thirty per cent of households with children in Toronto live in mid- or highrise buildings. In Downtown Toronto it’s 66 per cent. In fact, the number of families with children and teens living in highrise buildings grew by 15 per cent between 2006 and 2011. Yet the average size of a re-sale condo has dropped 20 per cent —1,087 sq. ft. to about 885 sq. ft. between 1996 and 2014. Apart from the condo sizes, other challenges the families meet are the lack of storage space, spaces to put the strollers in, bathtubs, etc.
Now the city has come up with a new set of guidelines to encourage development that will make Toronto’s vertical neighbourhoods more family friendly. In May, council approved “Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities,” which addresses the indoor and outdoor challenges of highrise living, setting out specs for every aspect of condos — from room sizes to walkability — that allow kids to move independently in their neighbourhoods.
Toronto Storeys: How will OSFI’s new mortgage rules affect home buyers?
Toronto Storeys offers some more discussion on the recently announced mortgage rules from real estate agents and mortgage brokers. Since the initial proposal in the summer, The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark interest rate twice and Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan added a 15 per cent foreign buyer’s tax.
Mortgage comparison website RateHub.ca calculates that a family with an annual income of 100,000 with a 20 per cent down payment at a five-year fixed mortgage rate of 2.83 per cent amortized over 25 years can currently afford a home worth 726,939. But under the new rules, they need to qualify at 4.89 per cent. Now they can only afford a home worth 570,970 — a difference of 155,969. Some real estate experts also predict these rules will especially hurt first-time home buyers who are just entering the market.
After this Riverdale house listing failed to sell the first time it was listed with another agent, realtor Suzanne Lewis took over the task of selling the house, as she realized that she needed to get creative. That is why she created the three-minute video to get more exposure for the three-storey house with skyline views.
She suggested a short video that would appeal to her perceived prospective buyer: a young family looking for a quiet property in an attractive neighbourhood. And it worked. The video has been viewed more than 100,000 times and the house sold for just under the asking price at $2.23 million, a near record for the east-end neighbourhood. With their great potential to showcase the property, real estate lifestyle videos might become the next big thing!
We are quite proud of our listings videos too, check them out here.