Monday, May 30, 2011


Four Seasons sells penthouse apartment in downtown Toronto for $28 million

By The Canadian Press
May 30, 2011

TORONTO - A Toronto penthouse apartment has been sold for $28 million, setting a Canadian record.

The apartment occupies the top floor of a 55-storey residential building at Bay Street and Yorkville Avenue in one of Toronto's most posh shopping areas.

The penthouse apartment is part of a condominium development that will have a total of 210 private residences and a 253-room Four Seasons luxury hotel.

The identity of the buyer was not revealed.

The record-breaking property will be in the taller of two residential towers, which are currently under construction.

The apartment has about nine thousand square feet of living space and 12-foot high ceilings, as well as four corner terraces with a view of Toronto's skyline.

Included in the price is a separate residence for penthouse staff, in the shorter 26-storey tower of the came complex.

"As one of the largest developments of its kind in North America, our exciting new hotel and private residence in Toronto represents a wonderful affirmation of the strength of the Four Seasons brand in Canada and around the world," said Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

The hotel, which will occupy the first 20 floors of the taller tower, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2012.

The private residences range in size from 1,000 to 9,000 sq. ft. and cost at least $1.9 million each.


Low rates to keep house party going
Eric Lam
Financial Post  May 30, 2011

With the Bank of Canada now widely expected to hold off on a rate hike until the end of summer, house prices in Canada are likely going to stay hot for a few months longer.

The central bank will again leave its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 1% at its regular policy announcement on Tuesday, according to the unanimous result of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

With signs the U.S. and global economies have entered a soft patch and the European debt crisis continuing to roil, most economists do not expect the bank to raise its overnight target rate until at least September. That would mark a full year on hold for the bank, which last raised rates in September 2010.

The upshot is, these ultralow lending rates will continue to a fuel a Canadian housing market that appears in full spring bloom. Average prices hit $372,544 in April, up 8% year over year for the third straight month, led by a supercharged Vancouver market.

"It will lead to more strength in housing in the near term than anticipated, and the slowdown in housing will be more of a 2012 story," said Derek Burleton, deputy chief economist at TorontoDominion Bank, in an interview.

TD and economists at Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal have recently pushed their expectations for a hike back to September. TD and Royal forecast the rate to settle at 1.75% by the end of the year, while BMO does not expect it to rise past 1.50%.

Mr. Burleton figures homes are at least 10% overpriced. Extending a low-borrowing environment into the prime sum-mer shopping season would encourage more prospective buyers to take the plunge, creating even better pricing opportunities for sellers.

However, Phil Soper, chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, said recent price increases have been driven by intense foreign investment in Vancouver, especially from newly cash-rich investors from China, and not low interest rates.

"Much of it is concentrated in a few neighbourhoods, which have attracted Asian investors who use largely cash," Mr. Soper said. "Also, there just aren't enough homes for sale in Canada right now. An increase in the cost of buying would not impact the supply side at all. In general, the pent-up demand for housing that grew during the recession has been exhausted."

Data from Re/Max Canada showed that 747 homes in the Greater Vancouver Area sold for $2-million or more between January and April 2011, a 118% increase on 2010, the biggest increase by far. To compare, 435 homes sold for $1.5-million or more in the Greater Toronto Area in the same time period, a 9% increase on 2010.

"When you take Vancouver out of the equation, the rate of house price appreciation is cut in half," Mr. Soper said.

Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, agreed that Vancouver has skewed averages.

"We aren't calling for a massive correction on the market, but Vancouver is a market unto itself, and it's certainly at risk of a full-fledged correction in the years ahead," he said. "But most other major markets don't seem to have broken from fundamentals. The likely outcome is a long period of subpar increases or flatness for prices."

Mr. Burleton said even the small rate hikes forecast for the end of the year are unlikely to have much of a material impact on the economy.

"I don't see the impact being dramatic. We're really talking about a quarter difference here, and part of the Bank of Canada's job is being done by the high Canadian dollar, so there's some wiggle room," Mr. Burleton said. "There's a good likelihood the increase next year will be accelerated to some extent to make up for some of the lost ground this year. Most of the action on the interestrate front will happen in 2012."

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Create curb appeal
By Karen Cole Banack

Check out some welcoming ideas that will enhance your home and create curb appeal.

A house with curb appeal stands out from the rest. We notice it because it provides us with simple aesthetic pleasure every time we pass by. Most homes have their own unique blend of charms. Even two identical homes can achieve very different looks with a combination of pleasing exterior elements. Here are some welcoming ideas that you can use to enhance your home and create curb appeal.


Colour is a powerful tool when used correctly. A facade with a beautiful colour combination is extremely pleasing.

• When choosing exterior paint, look to your landscape for inspiration. Also keep in mind that the colour of your trim should complement the colour of your roof.

• Bright sun will often make strong colours appear bolder and vibrant ones seem brighter. For a toned-down look, try historical paint colours with grey undertones.

• Save brights for outdoor accessories or small areas. A colourful market umbrella, porch chair, painted bird feeder or striped retractable awning are attractive ways to spruce up the front of your house.


Treat yourself and your guests to a welcoming entrance area. Even a small area can offer a charming greeting.

• Paint your front door with a strong colour so that it stands out from the rest of the house. Embellish the door further with a knocker, polished-metal kickplate and an inviting, homey touch like a wreath, bunch of pussy willows or basket of flowers.

• A new railing will add panache to an old porch, as will attractive wicker or teak furniture and accessories like flower-filled planters.

• Make a small entryway more inviting with a pair of urns, planter boxes or ivy-covered trellis panels flanking the entrance, or display a hurricane lamp on a table next to the door.


When making any structural changes, always remain true to the architectural integrity of your home. Don't try to make a country cottage look stately or a tall, handsome Georgian look cute.

• Use unique architectural details to enhance your home. A round stained-glass window, weather vane on a turret, portico painted in a rich colour or window boxes all offer lovely ways to bring interest to a home's exterior.

• When painting shutters, select a rich complementary shade that doesn't overpower the rest of your house's colour scheme.


Even simple outdoor lighting will bring your home to life at night.

To create drama, install lighting along a walkway, between shrubbery or in trees.

• Mount a pair of beautiful coach lanterns on either side of French doors to give your home an elegant and stately appearance.

• Design indoor lighting to convey warmth and interest when viewed from outside. For instance, a light in a small round attic window lends character to a home's exterior.


Architectural landscaping is a very effective way to add colour, beauty, vitality and personality.

• Define a walkway by embedding stepping stones into the grass or gravel.

• A brick path surrounded by an overgrown all-white garden looks simple and elegant.

• A rose- or clematis-covered arbour or pergola makes a lasting impression.

• Fences are another option for creating individual style. Try a white picket fence for a cottage look, wrought iron for stately elegance and tall wood slats for privacy.

Friday, May 27, 2011


High-end resale sign of health
By Marty Hope
Calgary Herald May 27, 2011

Overall, Calgary’s housing markets have been struggling to regain ground lost to the economic downturn — and it’s been a tough fight.

The resale industry found itself saddled with a huge inventory when consumers turned fickle and decided the housebuying binge of the early part of this decade was ending.

They went into hibernation and are now gradually coming back into the market.

The economic fundamentals — job creation, migration and salaries — are improving and in general, so is the housing outlook.

A look at one specific segment of the resale sector is proof the economy is coming back.

A few years back, I had a chat with a realtor who told me that as long as the high end of the resale market was active, the economy was in good shape.

People buying in those price categories wouldn’t be spending that kind of money if they had any notion the economy was in trouble.

If figures from the Calgary Real Estate Board are any indication, everything is humming along.

For the first four months of this year, 437 resale properties priced at $700,000 or more changed hands compared with 368 for the same period last year — and were selling faster.

On the heels of these impressive numbers came a report from Re/Max regarding activity at the upper end of housing markets in 12 major centres in Canada.

The report says that improved financial standing among people with high net worth is the major factor driving strong resale activity at the top end of Canadian housing markets.

It found that luxury home sales surged in nearly two-thirds of housing markets from January to April compared to the same period in 2010.

In terms of percentage gain, the largest growth occurred in Greater Vancouver at 118 per cent, followed by Ottawa at 59 per cent and Calgary at 51 per cent.

Greater Toronto was well down the list at nine per cent.

On the new homes front, Calgary builders continue to cater to a growing number of buyers looking for large homes in inner-city communities, estate neighbourhoods in the suburbs, and acreages in rural areas surrounding the city.

“The upper end of the market is vibrant,” says Jim Quinn, president of QuinnCorp Holdings Inc., which is developing Aspen Estates on the west side of the city.

“Calgary has a deep pool of wealth. It’s quiet, reserved and subtle, but it’s there.”


The pace of the resale market is growing for homes with larger price tags, says the Calgary Real Estate Board.

“We are seeing improvements in the sale of homes in the higher price points,” says board president Sano Stante.

“Homes above $700,000 are selling within an average of 41 days. This is consistent with pre-recession levels.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Real estate market bears signs city is emerging from recession
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald May 26, 2011

During his career in the homebuilding industry, Tim Logel has seen three recessions in close to 30 years.

And Wednesday he said signs that Calgary is coming out of the recession are present today like they were in past recessions.

"Those signs are very consistent and you can put your finger on them. No. 1, there are buyers out there," said Logel, president and partner of Cardel Lifestyles, which held a grand opening of four new condo models and launch of Panorama West in Genstar's Panorama Hills.

Logel said interest in the fourbuilding, 288-unit condo project has been strong.

Cardel Lifestyles is in the process of working on five multi-family developments in the city comprising between 1,200 to 1,400 units, a mixture of townhouses and condos.

The projects include Panorama West in Panorama Hills, Lighthouse Landing in Country Hills, Cranston Place, Prestwick Place in McKenzie Towne and Riverside Townhomes in Chaparral Valley.

"Some units within those projects are ready for immediate occupancy. We carry standing ready-to-moveinto inventory in every project," said Logel.

"Homebuilding success is all about listening to the customers and if you listen they'll tell you what they want. No. 1 they want a location. . . . Is there an opportunity? You bet there's an opportunity because customers flock to quality. They focus in on the top locations available within Calgary and they will take the time to find those locations. They're not in a hurry. They've become very educated and wise about their buying decisions."

In a recession there is always way more fear in the buyer's buying decision than there is when the market is booming, said Logel.

The interest in the new multifamily market in Calgary is evident by the traffic through show homes. Logel said at Panorama West in three weeks about 600 groups visited the models "which is amazing."

"Normal traffic that we're happy with is 100 groups a month," he said, adding that price, floor plan and community amenities are also important for potential buyers.

Lai Sing Louie, a regional economist with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. in Calgary, said year-to-date until the end of April there have been 921 multi-family starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area, up 2.3 per cent from the 900 for the same period a year ago.

According to a recent Altus Group Housing Report, condominium apartment sales in Calgary from January to March this year were 776, compared with 333 for the same period in 2010.

The economic consulting firm said Calgary has seen "steady" new condominium apartment sales in the suburban markets, "which has eroded the available supply to the point of spurring increased starts activity for 2011."


8 Factors That Devalue A Good Home

If you’re considering selling your home, there are a number of factors you should consider regarding the resale value of your property. Some of these issues may devalue your home or scare some potential buyers away entirely, even if your home is an otherwise outstanding property! Consider these eight factors when listing your home.

1. Location, Location, Location

Many real estate television shows repeat this phrase over and over. Buying a home in an area that provides residents with access to services and effective transportation is important – though many buyers don’t wish to live too close to airports and busy roads for fear of noise.

Visual appeal is another concern. Cell phone towers and power lines can be seen as eyesores – or possibly even having potential health hazards. Local school closures can also deter potential buyers who have children or who are considering having children in the near future. Some buyers may be leery of purchasing homes that are on flood plains.

To ensure maximum resale potential, consider how many of these types of issues exist near the properties you’re considering. Remember, though, there’s no way of knowing exactly how a neighborhood will evolve over time. (A lazy or incompetent real estate agent could spell disaster.)

2. Good Renovations Gone Bad

If your home looks like a DIY nightmare, this can definitely devalue your home. Though putting money into renovations generally increases the value of a home, poorly done renovations can have the opposite effect. If buyers feel that the renovations will have to be redone, there’s a good chance they’ll make a lower offer or keep looking for a move-in ready home.

3. Overly Creative Customization

That bright pink feature wall might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the truth is that unusual paint choices – both inside and outside the home – can turn buyers off, even if your customization is the cutting edge trend in current home design magazines. Customizing spaces so that they may not be functional to future buyers, like turning the garage into a home gym or a granny apartment, might make some buyers reluctant to buy your property.

The same can be said for unique landscaping choices or renovations that are too high scale for the house. A professional chef’s kitchen or marble bathrooms in a modest home suited to first-time buyers won’t likely provide a good return on investment.
4. Unappealing Curb Appeal

The first thing potential buyers will see is the exterior of the property. If the house appears to be outdated or in poor repair on the outside, people will assume it is the same for the inside. Water features or swimming pools and overly landscaped green space may turn off some buyers since people tend to associate high maintenance yards with expensive upkeep and unnecessary headaches. Old fences and sheds can also devalue your home, especially if they look like they’re in dire need of replacement. Keep the gardens weeded and the lawn mowed so that potential buyers can see how nice the property is, inside and out.

5. Pets Gone Wild

Many people won’t mind buying a home that has had resident animals, but no one wants to live with constant reminders of former owners’ pets. Damage to carpets, walls or a strong smell of animals will put off some buyers – especially those with allergies. Consider letting your pets live elsewhere while the property is for sale. Also, a good cleaning and repairing of any visible damage will help to mitigate the potential devaluation of your home associated with pet ownership.

6. Not-So-Nice Neighborhood

A dodgy neighborhood with a high crime rate or homes on your block that look unkempt can scare potential buyers away. Even if your neighbors have unusual-colored homes or have made strange additions to their homes, this can be perceived by potential buyers as an eyesore.

7. Sinister Reputation

Well-known crimes, deaths or even urban legends associated with your house or neighborhood can decrease the value of a home immensely. Most people don’t want to live in a home where they feel that something awful has happened, much less move in with your alleged resident ghost! Though these kinds of issues may be out of your control, they may certainly have an impact on the resale value of your home.

8. Frightful Foreclosures

Many buyers are leery of purchasing foreclosures that are being sold on an “as-is” basis. The fear is that the home could be a money pit or require a huge amount of repairs before being move-in ready. Some good homes may be available through foreclosures, but it’s important to do your research, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to bargain. It’s also crucial that you get a home inspection so that you know exactly what you’re getting into. There’s a good chance that some work will be required when buying a foreclosure, but you may get great value for your money if you’re willing to put in a little work.

The Bottom Line

Neighborhoods change over time, so there’s no way to be totally sure when you buy a property how the area will look in the years to come. However, you should always make your best efforts to address any issues with your property that are within your control. Play up your home’s strong points and get involved with your realtor to ensure that any special features of your home and neighborhood have been highlighted.

Photo By: .Craig