Should You Rent Out Your Condo Instead of Selling?

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You’ve decided to move. Should you rent our your condo? Certainly, the idea of being a part-time landlord has its appeal. But is it the right path for you? Let’s take a look.

Benefits

You’ll Continue Building Equity on Your Home

Even if you rent out your condo for roughly what it costs you to keep it, a portion of that is going towards your equity. In other words, as you rent, you’re getting closer to completely owning your condo. That’s money in your pocket.

The Possibility of Profits

If the rental rate has gone up since you bought, you may be able to rent out your place for a lot more than it costs you to keep it. In this case, you’re not just building equity, but raking in substantial additional income as you do it.

Hold on to a Very Favorable Interest Rate

If you bought any time in the last five years, you’re getting a spectacular interest rate on your mortgage. As interest rates creep up – which they’re expected to do – you’ll be coming out ahead by having a mortgage rate that may end up being lower than inflation.

Keep Your Options Open

Maybe you’re only moving temporarily, or otherwise think you might have reason to move back into your condo. Renting it out is the perfect way to keep that possibility alive.

Ability to Time the Market

Maybe you’d have to sell at a loss right now. Or, you think the neighborhood’s property values will spike in the coming years. Either way, you’d prefer to sell when the market’s more in your favor. Renting out in the meantime is a way to do that.

Liabilities

Remember the Total Expenses

Association Dues, Taxes, Special Assessments, Insurance. These fees can only go up, and none of the money you put towards them goes towards equity. Not necessarily a problem, but do factor them into the total cost of renting out your unit.

Condo Association Headaches

Some associations don’t allow people to rent out their units. Or, they have arcane rules related to the process. By keeping your unit, you’ll need to continue to be involved in your condo association.

Where Will You Get a Down Payment for a New Place?

Most people use the sale of their first place to fund the down payment on their second place. Do you have the spare cash to swing it without the proceeds from a major sale? Or do you have enough equity in your old place to refinance for extra cash?

Finding (Good) Tenants Can Be Tricky

Have you ever tried to find a tenant? Finding someone who’s reliable, reasonably neat and quiet, and wants to live in your unit long-term isn’t always easy. Until you find that tenant, you’ll be paying for an empty unit all by yourself.

Two Mortgages Equal More Financial Pressure

Ideally, of course, you’ll be renting out your condo pronto, for more than you pay to keep it. But, that’s ideally. Keep in mind that your monthly financial obligations will be steep, even if you have plenty to cover the expenses right now. Would you have the stomach (and savings) to bear a tenant backing out of their lease? What about if you lose your job shortly thereafter? With great potential rewards also comes risk.

Being a Landlord Can Be A Lot of Work

It’s not just cashing checks. It’s showing up to fix leaky faucets, replacing broken stoves and dealing with insulation problems. It’s fielding calls from your tenant whenever they come, doing a deep clean and repainting the place every time a new tenant moves in, and collecting on your rent, should you tenant not pay in a timely fashion. Especially if you’re not planning on living near the unit, these things can take a lot of time and effort.

Taxes and Paperwork

Generally speaking, rental units are treated very favorably tax-wise. But, for those who dislike paperwork, there’s a decent amount of it. And not just for the taxman. You’ll need to conduct background checks, file away leases for future reference, document received payments and keep track of repair expenses.

The Unit Will Deteriorate

Conventional wisdom says that rental units are treated a bit more roughly than owned units. In other words, your nice new paint job and refinished floors likely won’t last long. It’s just the normal wear-and-tear of someone living there, but it’s a capital loss. When you eventually do go to sell, you might need to invest in a modest remodel before putting it on the market.

Summing Up

First, the finances need to make sense. But, if they do, then the decision is as much about personality as it is about money.

  • Do you have the energy to take on what amounts to a part-time second job?
  • Do you have the nerves to deal with a total stranger living in one of your major financial investments?

If you answered yes to these two questions, renting out your unit might be for you.

Should You Rent Out Your Condo Instead of Selling?

for-rent

Should You Rent Out Your Condo Instead of Selling?

You’ve decided to move. Should you rent our your condo? Certainly, the idea of being a part-time landlord has its appeal. But is it the right path for you? Let’s take a look.

Benefits

You’ll Continue Building Equity on Your Home

Even if you rent out your condo for roughly what it costs you to keep it, a portion of that is going towards your equity. In other words, as you rent, you’re getting closer to completely owning your condo. That’s money in your pocket.

The Possibility of Profits

If the rental rate has gone up since you bought, you may be able to rent out your place for a lot more than it costs you to keep it. In this case, you’re not just building equity, but raking in substantial additional income as you do it.

Hold on to a Very Favorable Interest Rate

If you bought any time in the last five years, you’re getting a spectacular interest rate on your mortgage. As interest rates creep up – which they’re expected to do – you’ll be coming out ahead by having a mortgage rate that may end up being lower than inflation.

Keep Your Options Open

Maybe you’re only moving temporarily, or otherwise think you might have reason to move back into your condo. Renting it out is the perfect way to keep that possibility alive.

Ability to Time the Market

Maybe you’d have to sell at a loss right now. Or, you think the neighborhood’s property values will spike in the coming years. Either way, you’d prefer to sell when the market’s more in your favor. Renting out in the meantime is a way to do that.

Liabilities

Remember the Total Expenses

Association Dues, Taxes, Special Assessments, Insurance. These fees can only go up, and none of the money you put towards them goes towards equity. Not necessarily a problem, but do factor them into the total cost of renting out your unit.

Condo Association Headaches

Some associations don’t allow people to rent out their units. Or, they have arcane rules related to the process. By keeping your unit, you’ll need to continue to be involved in your condo association.

Where Will You Get a Down Payment for a New Place?

Most people use the sale of their first place to fund the down payment on their second place. Do you have the spare cash to swing it without the proceeds from a major sale? Or do you have enough equity in your old place to refinance for extra cash?

Finding (Good) Tenants Can Be Tricky

Have you ever tried to find a tenant? Finding someone who’s reliable, reasonably neat and quiet, and wants to live in your unit long-term isn’t always easy. Until you find that tenant, you’ll be paying for an empty unit all by yourself.

Two Mortgages Equal More Financial Pressure

Ideally, of course, you’ll be renting out your condo pronto, for more than you pay to keep it. But, that’s ideally. Keep in mind that your monthly financial obligations will be steep, even if you have plenty to cover the expenses right now. Would you have the stomach (and savings) to bear a tenant backing out of their lease? What about if you lose your job shortly thereafter? With great potential rewards also comes risk.

Being a Landlord Can Be A Lot of Work

It’s not just cashing checks. It’s showing up to fix leaky faucets, replacing broken stoves and dealing with insulation problems. It’s fielding calls from your tenant whenever they come, doing a deep clean and repainting the place every time a new tenant moves in, and collecting on your rent, should you tenant not pay in a timely fashion. Especially if you’re not planning on living near the unit, these things can take a lot of time and effort.

Taxes and Paperwork

Generally speaking, rental units are treated very favorably tax-wise. But, for those who dislike paperwork, there’s a decent amount of it. And not just for the taxman. You’ll need to conduct background checks, file away leases for future reference, document received payments and keep track of repair expenses.

The Unit Will Deteriorate

Conventional wisdom says that rental units are treated a bit more roughly than owned units. In other words, your nice new paint job and refinished floors likely won’t last long. It’s just the normal wear-and-tear of someone living there, but it’s a capital loss. When you eventually do go to sell, you might need to invest in a modest remodel before putting it on the market.

Summing Up

First, the finances need to make sense. But, if they do, then the decision is as much about personality as it is about money.

  • Do you have the energy to take on what amounts to a part-time second job?
  • Do you have the nerves to deal with a total stranger living in one of your major financial investments?

If you answered yes to these two questions, renting out your unit might be for you.

Mississauga Ready to Make City Roads Safe this Winter

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Resident safety is our priority every winter season and the City of Mississauga is prepared to keep traffic moving this winter. We are ready to clear 5,600 lane kilometres of roads; 1,400 lane kilometres of priority sidewalks; 3,700 bus stops and over 1,000 pedestrian crossings. Lane kilometers are calculated based on the plowing or salting of a kilometer long segment of roadway that is a single lane in width.

“Our priority during a snow fall is to clear major roads first to allow access for emergency vehicles and public transit. This is followed by residential roads, pedestrian crossings, priority sidewalks and bus stops,” said Mickey Frost, Director of Works Operations and Maintenance. “Our snow plow tracker webpage allows you to track the routes for snow plows and salters so you are aware of road conditions ahead of your commute.”

What we clear and when

  • Roads are salted if the snowfall is less than eight centimetres or plowed and salted if the snowfall is more than eight centimetres.
  • Major roads are cleared first for emergency and transit vehicles. This is followed by local residential roads, bus stops, pedestrian crossings and priority sidewalks (around hospitals, schools and major transit routes for transit service).
  • Priority sidewalks, bus stops and pedestrian crossings are cleared within 24 to 36 hours of snow ending.

Winter on-street parking restriction

Residents are advised not to park their vehicles on City streets from November 1 to March 31 between 2 and 6 a.m. Vehicles left on City streets in violation of the Traffic By-law may be issued a penalty notice and subject to towing and storage fees at the expense of the owner. During snow removal, temporary parking permits will not be issued and current ones will be suspended.

Frost added, “Residents also play an important role in keeping the community safe. It’s important to clear your sidewalks after each snowfall to keep them safe for pedestrians and be a good neighbour by lending a hand to help seniors or people with disabilities to do the same.”

Snow Clearing Updates

Residents can track City snow plows and check routes in their neighbourhood by visiting the snow plow tracker webpage. In addition, they can follow @MississaugaSnow on Twitter or visit mississauga.ca/snow.

General questions about road conditions can be directed to the Citizen Contact Centre at 3-1-1 (or 905-615-4311 outside city limits).

Hurontario Light Rail Transit Project Update: Details For Procurement

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City of Mississauga staff reported at General Committee today on the Metrolinx-led Hurontario Light Rail Transit (HuLRT) Project currently in procurement.

Included in the staff report

• a request from Metrolinx to amend the noise exemption process of the City’s Noise Control By-law 360-79
• recommendation for additional municipal infrastructure to be included in the procurement process
• information on potential operating and maintenance costs

“City staff worked on details for the procurement process such as a request from Metrolinx for an exemption to the City’s Noise Control By-law for timely and cost-efficient construction of the project,” said Geoff Wright, Commissioner Transportation and Works. “We have also identified the opportunity to repair and upgrade City infrastructure during the construction of the LRT to be included in the procurement and are continuing to compile information on potential operating and maintenance costs. Much of this information is dependent on the procurement process and will be part of ongoing discussions with Metrolinx and future agreements.”

HuLRT Procurement Process

Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario are leading the procurement and implementation of the HuLRT Project through the Provincial Alternative Finance and Procurement Process. Proponents commit funding and bid for the design, build, maintenance and ongoing operation of the HuLRT Project.  The provision of light rail vehicles is being undertaken separately by Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario.

Since the previous update, the request for proposals was issued by Infrastructure Ontario on August 17, 2017 to three pre-qualified, short-listed teams for the procurement of the HuLRT Project. The procurement process is expected to take approximately 12 months to complete with the successful vendor team beginning construction by the end of 2018.

The City of Mississauga HuLRT Project Office team, along with supporting technical and strategic advisors, continue to work with Metrolinx to support the procurement process.

Noise By-law Exemption

Metrolinx requested an exemption to the City’s Noise Control By-law for timely and cost-efficient construction of the project. Staff consulted with the Ward Councillors on the Hurontario corridor regarding Metrolinx’s request for the exemption, and, in general, support the requested exemptions. the Commissioner of Transportation and Works retains the right to withdraw the Noise By-Law exemption.

1)  Major construction works to take place from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, throughout the corridor including:
• concrete placement (track infill, sidewalks curb and gutter, bridge and wall structures, LRT stops)
• aggregate and asphalt placement
• material movement (aggregates, track material and equipment)
• track installation
• testing of the train and systems

2) That the following activities will be allowed 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
• micro tunnelling for water, stormwater, sanitary sewer installation
• install, removal and adjustment of traffic control (construction set up, traffic signal modifications)

3) That the Noise By-Law exemption period be from approximately fall 2018 to the end of construction (planned for 2022)

4) That a limited number of full weekend closures be allowed for segments of Hurontario Street at the following locations:
• Port Credit  – bridge works/tunnelling
• QEW – bridge works/tunnelling
• Cooksville GO  – bridge works
• Highway 403 – elevated LRT span

These closures are necessary to safely complete the works and will not occur simultaneously.

Additional Municipal Infrastructure

In addition to the previously endorsed corridor enhancements staff recommended that the City take the opportunity that the LRT construction presents to
• replace and upgrade segments of the stormwater infrastructure
• install uninterrupted power supply at 65 signalized intersections
• protect for the future installation of variable message signs for local transit (MiWay) services at LRT stops to include MiWay service data and messaging such as the scheduled arrival/departure times of local transit routes, service information including alerts and service promotions

This proposed infrastructure is beyond the scope of the project and if approved in principle by Council will be included with the procurement of the HuLRT.  The construction and installation of these works will be delivered by the LRT contractor during the established construction period.

The total budget for the identified additional municipal infrastructure is valued at $26,307,000 and would be added to the 2018-2027 capital budget and forecast.

LRT Operating and Maintenance Costs

The provision of LRT operations and maintenance services are included in the procurement process that is currently underway. The responsibility for the costs of those services will be part of future negotiations and the development of an agreement between the City of Mississauga and Metrolinx.

“Prior to Metrolinx reaching financial closure with a successful bid team, an agreement will need to be in place with the City of Mississauga to address the detailed aspects of project delivery and long-term operations and maintenance of the LRT,” said Wright. “We continue to request information from Metrolinx on roles and responsibilities and anticipated operating and maintenance costs.”

Staff is also working on identifying potential short-term and long-term City costs and budget impacts related to the LRT, including roadway and boulevard maintenance and MiWay service.

Moving with a Pet, Settling in the New Home – Shawn Gandhi

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Moving with a Pet – Settling in the New Home. 

You and your pet made it! You both survived the drive, and now all that’s left is to get him settled into his new home. Here are some tips to help that process go as smoothly as possible. (For more advice, check out our other posts on introducing a new pet to your apartment).

Assign him to a room. 

After the long drive with your fur-ball cooped up, you’ll be tempted to give him a chance to run around and explore the new apartment that you’re so excited about, but this is not a good idea. You’ll want to place your pet in a small room with his litter, food, water, and carrier (even if he usually hates his carrier, leave it with him. It’s something familiar, and he’s likely just spent hours curled up in it). The bathroom is the ideal place for this because you won’t be unpacking loads of boxes into it, and, bonus, it usually has an easy-to-clean floor in case of any accidents. Sit with him for a few minutes and let him explore his new room while you’re still there. When he seems okay, leave him in the room by himself, making sure to close the door behind you.

Keep him in his room.

Now, that your pet is set up, you can start unloading your car or moving van without worrying about him being overwhelmed or slipping out the door when no one is looking. Be sure that anyone helping you unload is aware which room the animal is in and knows not to open that door. If you’ve hired professional movers, you may even want to tape a note to the door warning them not to enter your pet’s safe space. Don’t let him out until you’ve finished unloading all of your boxes. You may even want to keep him in his room until the majority of your things are unpacked; change can be stressful for pets (especially cats), and having you moving around quickly and making lots of noise in a new environment could be very overwhelming.

Let him explore slowly.

When you finally do let your cat out of his room, do it when your apartment is quiet and calm. Keep an eye on him while he explores (he’ll likely be very nervous, and some animals will pee on things when they’re stressed), but give him enough space that he doesn’t feel overwhelmed. For the next day or two, return him to this room whenever you’re going to be gone for long periods of time. After your pet seems comfortable in your new home, you can move his food and other things into their permanent homes—just don’t forget to show your pet where you’ve moved them to!

Give him familiar things.

If you read my //previous post// about driving with your pet, then you know that you should bring a jug of water from your previous home with you when you move. Well, the same is true for food and litter (if applicable). The stores around you might not sell the same brands that your pet is used to, so rather than changing everything he knows in one fell swoop, transition him by giving him his usual food, water, and litter while he gets used to his new surroundings. The same rule goes for his blankets, toys, etc. Even though you might be tempted to buy him all new things for your brand new house, wait a while. He’ll feel safer and calmer if his things smell like him, not like the store.

Be there for him.

Finally, be prepared to give your pet extra attention for a few days; he’s been through a stressful experience and may need more love and comfort than usual. I know you’re probably going to be very busy getting yourself settled, running errands, and setting up your new life, but make sure that you take half an hour every day to be with your pet. Even if he’s not the cuddliest animal, just sit in a room with him and do something quiet. He’ll appreciate the company and familiar presence.

A Short Guide to Your First Apartment Viewing -Shawn Gandhi

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New Home

A Short Guide to Your First Apartment Viewing

One of the most important parts of finding an apartment is seeing it. You need to schedule an apartment viewing and thoroughly check out the space that will potentially be your home for the next year or longer. The viewing is the time to make sure that this is the kind of space you want to live in. It can be pretty daunting at first but I swear you’ll get a hang of it quickly.

Ask questions

If there is a time to ask questions, this is it! I always found it helpful to have a printout of the rental ad, so I could confirm what the landlord provides and what is missing from my own personal checklist. You will have someone to answer questions right in front of you, so take advantage of that. Ask  about parking fees, what utilities do they cover (water? garbage collection? internet?), are pets allowed, what is the noise level like, etc.  Also, clarify the costs that you will be paying. How much is the security deposit? How much is the monthly rental? What forms of payment do they accept for rent? Is there a late fee? How much is the estimated monthly electric bill? What paperwork is required for the apartment application process? Always get the name of the person showing the apartment, in case you have post-viewing questions.

Check out the apartment

During any viewing, it is essential to check out all the features of the apartment. One of the key things for me was looking through the cabinets and closets. You want to make sure that you are getting what you are paying for and that everything is in a good working condition. If you see anything amiss, say something. Try to spot any holes that indicate vermin or some other type of infestations. Look inside closets and under the sinks for signs of mold. See if any cabinets are broken, which indicates poor maintenance. Turn on the faucets and see what the water pressure is like. (That may seem like a minor detail but I guarantee you’ll be annoyed with a weak shower every day as long as you live in the apartment.) Test the oven and stove burners. Do the windows open and close and lock easily? What is right outside your window? Is the apartment on a main street or a quiet neighborhood with minimal traffic? Take a moment and listen. You may not hear the regular sounds of your neighbors but its always good to hear what’s around you. How is the exterior of the apartment? Does the landlord or the company take proper care of the facility? Is it evident that it needs maintenance? Is it older but well maintained? These are all things that are important when scoping out your new place.

Take pictures

We continue to document even the most insignificant moments in our lives, but apartment viewing is actually one of those times when it’s important to take lots of pictures. You do it for couple of reasons. First, this will help jog your memory when you look at many places and aid in making your decision. Having a visual will give you the opportunity to look back and see what you liked (or disliked) about a certain place. It will assist in visualizing the layout of one apartment compared to others that you viewed. Second, you’ll have a record of any problems you spot (chipped tile, stain on floor, etc.) so your landlord will not try to ding your security deposit for them when you move out.

Give yourself options. If they have other apartments in the building or complex that you can look at, go for it. See as many places as you can, so you’ll be sure when you sign the lease that you got the best one.

Please share in the comments your best apartment viewing tips.

How To Add Color To Your Condo With An Accent Wall

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How To Add Color To Your Condo With An Accent Wall

Have you been looking for a change in your decorating scheme, to make your condo feel fresh, new, and invigorating, but just haven’t been able to decide on a design theme? Or maybe you’re about to move into your first condo and are ruminating on the best color schemes for your new place and can’t settle on just one.

Who can blame you? A full house paint job is a huge commitment – after all, you’re going to be living with these walls for years, it’s a lot of work and it’s not exactly cheap. A full apartment paint job can cost $800/room or more, when done professionally, and still cost $200 – $300/room when you do it yourself, and that’s not even counting the time, and the headache of making sure your belongings will be safe and un-splattered with drop cloths, trim tape, etc.

If you are looking to add a pop of color to your condo and sparkle up your existing design theme, an accent wall could do the job.

What Is An Accent Wall?

Have you ever walked into a home or office to be confronted with a bright, bold, colorful wall, different from the other three? That’s an accent wall and, if you’ve seen it, we likely don’t have to explain why they’re a good idea.

Accent walls are a simple and nearly foolproof way to make a design statement, without breaking the bank or requiring too much of an investment in time, energy, or resources. An accent wall can be wallpapered or even tiled, for example in the kitchen, but most often it’s painted.

Reasons To Feature An Accent Wall In Your Condo

  1. Highlights Interesting Architectural Features: One common reason people don’t want to paint an entire room is there’s an element in the existing interior design they’re hoping to maintain. If you’ve got a fireplace; built-in shelves; a mantelpiece; or vintage architectural features that you’d like to preserve, an accent wall is a way to draw attention TO these interesting features, rather than covering them up.
  2. Becomes A Backdrop: One of the most common uses for an accent wall is to draw the eye towards a focal point, often behind a bed or sofa. If you’ve got some furniture you’d like to highlight, or you just enjoy the sense of flow that comes from a well-designed room, a backdrop accent wall is a surefire way to add a bit of drama to your condo.
  3. Create New Patterns: Accent walls do not all have to be minimal, modern monochrome designs. You can accent your room with absolutely ANYTHING. If your room features patterned textiles, in the furniture or drapery, or has some kind of elaborate floor covering, or even patterned hardwood floors or tiles, playing with a similar effect in your accent wall can be your friend. You might not necessarily want your entire room to complement those tweed curtains, but a nice little emphasis can be that extra touch that ties the whole room together.
  4. Define Different Rooms: In condos with open floor plans, it can be hard to know where one room ends and another begins. Are you in the kitchen or the living room? It can be hard to tell. An accent wall is a simple and surefire way to distinguish between two rooms, without having to have a sharp, jarring contrast.
  5. Adds Color: We save the most obvious for last. For the better part of the 21st Century, minimalist design has reigned supreme. Our condos resemble either an Ikea catalog or an advertisement for a Nest thermostat – favoring either a stark palette with white, black, grey, and silver; or, rather, an earthy naturalist look – raw woods, hunter green, taupe, or cream. If you’d rather not feel like you’re living in a Scandi-cool furniture store OR on Walden’s Pond, perhaps an accent wall might be the perfect change agent for you!

Toronto Condo Prices Soar 28%, Pass Half-Million Mark

TORONTO, ON - MARCH, 17   Condo buildings clog the downtown core where the CN tower is often obscured from the street.  This is at the corner of Yonge street and Queen's Quay.  condo apartment housing balcony living downtown        (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Forget single-family homes: Even condos are moving out of affordability range for Toronto’s middle class.

Despite the slowdown in the broader market, new data from the region’s real estate board shows condo prices in the Greater Toronto Area have now passed the half-million-dollar mark, after soaring 28 per cent in the second quarter of this year.

The average condo in the region sold for $532,032 in the second quarter, up from $415,454 in the same period of 2016.

TORONTO, ON - MARCH, 17   Condo buildings clog the downtown core where the CN tower is often obscured from the street.  This is at the corner of Yonge street and Queen's Quay.  condo apartment housing balcony living downtown        (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

TORONTO, ON – MARCH, 17 Condo buildings clog the downtown core where the CN tower is often obscured from the street. This is at the corner of Yonge street and Queen’s Quay. condo apartment housing balcony living downtown (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

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This makes condos unaffordable for many middle-class households.

With an average household income of $75,000, a typical Toronto family can afford some $380,000 to $420,000 in insured mortgage debt, following the federal government’s new mortgage rules announced last fall.

“Despite the recent dip in overall GTA home sales, the condominium apartment market was quite resilient, especially when compared to low-rise market segments,” Toronto Real Estate Board President Tim Syrianos said in a statement.

“Condo apartment sales accounted for a greater share of overall transactions during the spring compared to the same period last year. Market conditions also remained tight, which resulted in the continuation of strong annual rates of price growth.”

Condo slowdown ahead?

But those tight conditions in the condo market may be coming to an end.

In June, the last month covered in the period of TREB’s report, condo sales turned downwards, with sales activity down 23.4 per cent from the previous June. Prices, however, were still up 23.2 per cent from the same month last year.

It may be that the slowdown in the overall Toronto market is beginning to infect the condo market.

According to preliminary mid-month data for July, Toronto’s housing market continued to sputter, with sales down 39.3 per cent from the same period a year ago.

Single-family home sales are down 45 per cent, and the average price has fallen 17 per cent from its peak earlier this year, BNN reported, though it’s still 6.5 per cent higher than it was a year ago.

Too much regulation?

The sudden slowdown in Toronto’s market has some experts worried the government may be taking its mortgage reforms too far.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), Canada’s banking watchdog, has proposed a “stress test” for conventional 20-per-cent down mortgages that would require borrowers to qualify at a rate two percentage points higher than the one being offered.

That follows a similar rule put in place last fall for insured mortgages, which have less than 20 per cent down. But many housing experts note a majority of mortgages in Canada are conventional, and the proposed OSFI rule would have a significant impact on how much money households can borrow to buy a home.

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Condo towers on the shore of Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto.

Mortgage expert Rob McLister estimated it would shave 18 per cent off the buying power of conventional mortgage borrowers.

The rule has “the potential to notably slow down growth in mortgage originations,” CIBC economist Benjamin Tal wrote in a report last week.

“Given current slowing activity in the market, it might be advisable to rethink the timing of the implementation of those policies.”

Hurontario Light Rail Transit Project Update: Preparing for Procurement

Hurontario LRT - Shawn Gandhi

City of Mississauga staff reported to General Committee today on the Hurontario Light Rail Transit (HuLRT) Project. The project, led by Metrolinx, is moving into the next phase of the procurement process. Included in the report, is a staff proposal for additional design refinements and corridor enhancements that go beyond the initial project scope.

“We are excited to reach this next stage of the Hurontario Light Rail Transit Project,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “The design refinements and enhancements staff brought forward are placemaking opportunities that link to key downtown destinations to achieve a civic identity and sense of place. The proposed additional municipal infrastructure is an opportunity to complete work efficiently and good use of our resources. The Hurontario LRT is building and connecting our city and ensuring it remains competitive and offers our residents efficient and modern transit.”

The City of Mississauga has been working with Metrolinx on refining the reference design to address localized concerns prior to the next phase of the procurement process.

“Before Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario identify a successful bid team, an agreement will need to be in place with the City of Mississauga to address the detailed aspects of project delivery and long-term operations,” said Joe Perrotta, Director, City of Mississauga LRT Project Office.  “The additional municipal infrastructure being proposed can be integrated with the overall procurement process.  Separate budget approvals will be required through the 2018 Budget.”

The design refinements and proposed corridor enhancements include:
• Review of the Port Credit and Cooksville HuLRT stops to improve integration opportunities to the GO rail network
• Maintaining paid on-street parking in the Downtown Mississauga areas with the HuLRT, where appropriate
• Developing an enhanced corridor design for Duke of York Boulevard in addition to reconfiguring the track design to a centre roadway configuration
• Addressing constraints at the Highway 403 crossing with the proposal for a new separated HuLRT structure
• Maintaining additional on-street MiWay capacity at the City Centre Transit Terminal
• Ensure consideration for a context sensitive design adjacent to the Britannia Church and the Britannia Farm Lands

Metrolinx identified a Public Realm Amount (PRA) of approximately $10.6 million to be used towards enhancements for the Hurontario corridor in Mississauga. The City of Mississauga capital budget also identified up to $25 million in funding for related HuLRT project enhancements beyond the scope of the project. Departmental staff, working through the Metrolinx design process, have used this opportunity to identify and evaluate potential corridor enhancements and upgrades that would benefit the overall project and communities. These enhancements have been assessed and prioritized for Council to endorse and include in the Metrolinx procurement process. With a set commitment on funding, the City will not be held responsible in case of project overruns. The staff report, Hurontario Light Rail Transit Project Update: Metrolinx Project Procurement, includes $1.61 million in additional funding. Final approval of the staff report will be on the July 5, 2017 Council agenda.

Additional Municipal Infrastructure
A list of additional municipal infrastructure projects were identified that would have normally been scheduled through departmental budgets to be integrated with the HuLRT project. These include:
• Incorporating municipal storm sewer (new and upgrades)
• Incorporating uninterrupted power supply or backup systems at all or primary signalized intersections
• Including noise walls that are not a requirement of the HuLRT Project but still meet the criteria through existing municipal policy
• Protecting for variable message sign systems within stop platforms to communicate MiWay information

As agreements are finalized through the procurement process, budget approvals will be required by respective service areas during the 2018 budget cycle.

Procurement Update
Infrastructure Ontario (IO) is leading procurement and Metrolinx is leading implementation of the HuLRT Project. The project is funded by a $1.4 billion capital commitment from the Government of Ontario. Since the previous update, IO began the procurement process with the release of a Request for Qualifications in October 2016. The three short-listed consortiums were announced by IO on June 6, 2017.

Metrolinx and IO anticipate the release of the Request for Proposals (RFP) in the summer of 2017.  The HuLRT Project procurement process is anticipated to be completed mid-2018 with a contract award to the successful consortium. Construction is expected to begin later that year. The successful consortium is expected to complete construction and testing by the end of 2022 and will then be responsible for the operations and maintenance of the system for the duration of the 30-year contract.

Duke of York Stop Reference Concept Design

Britannia Stop Reference Concept Design

Cooksville Stop Reference Concept Design