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Archive for December, 2018

Home price index posts rare November decline

A key measure of changes in Canadian home prices has posted a decline for November.

The Teranet-National Bank National Home Price Index rarely posts a decline in November – it’s done so just 4 times in the 20 years – but it recorded a 0.3% decline from the previous month.

Most markets declined with Quebec City, Halifax, and Victoria the exceptions.

It was the second consecutive monthly decline with tighter mortgage lending rules and a rise in interest rates among the factors that have cooled demand significantly in some markets.

In Vancouver, November was a fourth month in a row without a rise in home prices, for a cumulative drop of 1.8%; and in Toronto, prices declined over the last three months, for a total loss of 0.4%.

There are also weak markets in Alberta, where prices did not rise for a fifth month in a row in Calgary, and for a third consecutive month in Edmonton, for cumulative declines of 1.4% and 1.3% respectively.

The index for Victoria was flat while Halifax (0.1%) and Quebec City (1.2%) both gained.

The HPI tracks price changes based a percentage rise or fall from a value of 100 set in June 2005.

Annual increases
While down month-over-month, the national HPI was up 3.1% year-over-year; exacerbated by a sharp drop in the previous three months.

Victoria (5.3%), Ottawa-Gatineau (5.3%), Montreal (4.4%), Hamilton (4.4%), Vancouver (3.9%) and Toronto (3.3%) all posted above-national-average increases and there were smaller gains for Winnipeg (2.3%) and Halifax (1.7%).

Indexes were down year-over-year in Quebec City (−0.3%), Edmonton (−0.4%) and Calgary (−2.7%).

by Steve Randall

13 Dec 2018

What does the law say about Cannabis?

Lawyer Mark Weisleder has studied the subject in depth:

"I have now given over 30 seminars on the new Cannabis Act to real estate brokerages, real estate boards and landlord groups. I have interviewed medical cannabis users and growers and spoken to condominium lawyers and insurers. It seems to me that most are just fearing the worst, instead of just working towards common sense solutions that will benefit everyone.   Here are 6 things you need to know:

1.      Why do people have to grow Cannabis when they can buy it now legally?

The fact is that if you grow the Cannabis plant safely and economically, it can cost a fraction of the retail price of a gram of Cannabis. For those who have a medical prescription that requires several grams of Cannabis per day, growing can actually save thousands of dollars per year.

2.      Can condominium boards ban the use or growing of Cannabis in a condominium building?

Lawyers will be paid a lot of money to ultimately decide this as a result of human rights and constitutional law issues. This has not stopped countless condominium boards from already implementing rules banning all smoking, grandfathering only those who smoked cigarettes before the rule, and banning any growing of any Cannabis plant. Other condominium boards are doing nothing right now, and will just step in if one unit owner starts smoking Cannabis and bothers their neighbours or damages the unit as a result of growing. This is similar to stepping in if you have wild parties in your unit and bother your neighbours.

3.      How are condominium boards handling unit owners who have a medical prescription for Cannabis?

Here it gets interesting. The boards will permit someone who has a medical prescription to smoke or grow Cannabis provided that they ensure that all the smoke, odors and moisture generated is kept inside their unit, so as not to bother anyone in the hallways or in neighbouring units or damage the walls with mold.

4.      Can you stop a tenant from smoking Cannabis or growing Cannabis plants?

Even though it is legal to smoke or grow Cannabis, you can include a clause in a lease to stop any tenant from smoking or growing Cannabis on the premises. This should be inserted into every lease. I have created these clauses that are available in my own Ontario Guide for Landlords. If the tenant then smokes, it will be easier to evict them. But you will still have to prove that the tenant is either bothering other tenants or damaging the property.

5.      What is going on with the insurance industry?

Some insurers are threatening to cancel coverage if Cannabis plants are grown on the property. This is complete over reacting, since it ignores the fact that we are not talking about a grow house operation and Cannabis can be grown safely.

6.      It is possible to smoke or grow Cannabis safely in an apartment or home without bothering a neighbour or damaging the property?

This is the key point. The answer is yes. If you smoke Cannabis using a vaping pen, you can virtually eliminate the smoke and odor. If you use a “bong”, which operates like a pipe when smoking tobacco, you reduce the odor when you inhale and if you use a device called a “smoke buddy” when you exhale, you again reduce the smoke and the odor. Supplementing this with air fresheners will also assist with eliminating the nuisance altogether. You can also now buy a special “grow tent” for about $500,  that is 2 feet by 2 feet in width and about 5 feet high. It just plugs into the wall, absorbs the moisture from the plants and emits warm air into the apartment. No odors and no moisture if set up properly. You grow the plants 3 feet high, harvest them and then grow again.

As you can see, this is what the solution must be. Tenants should be able to smoke under the new law, but they must make sure they are doing it in a way that does not bother anyone else, and if they must have an actual marijuana cigarette, just go outside. And if you are going to grow any plant, be upfront, show the landlord how you are doing it safely and this should satisfy not only the landlord, but also any condominium board or insurer who have any concerns.

Maybe if you are over stressed about all of this, just take a puff and relax. It will all work out."


You may watch a video at 

If you have any question on the Cannabis Act please contact me at 1-888-876-5529


Mark Weisleder  is a Partner, author and speaker at the law firm Real Estate LLP. Contact him at or toll free at 1-888-876-5529

Canadian markets next year will look like…

Depending on which part of Canada you live in, 2019 is either a year to look forward to or one to dread.

Beginning with Toronto, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s President and CEO Brad Henderson expects more of the same next year, but with a caveat.

“There will be slower growth, but growth just the same, particularly since there’s a lack of product in the marketplace,” he told REP. “There’s going to continue being upward pressure on prices, but increased interest rates and mortgage stress testing has added headwinds to the lofty growth we saw in 2016 to 2017.”

Montreal will continue its ascendancy as the hottest market in the country—with perhaps the exception of Ottawa—but, like Toronto, there won’t be massive price growth.

“Montreal has continued being a healthy market with a good balance between supply and demand, and we’ll see growth with a number of transactions and modest upward pressure on price,” said Henderson.

The forecast for Vancouver, however, is not as auspicious as Canada’s two largest cities. Vancouver has suffered gales of difficulty lately, beginning with the B-20 mortgage stress test that’s similarly affecting Toronto. But with Vancouver, the NDP government increased the foreign buyer tax from 15% to 20% and it’s also introduced, even expanded, a speculation and vacancy tax.

“It’s expanded from the Greater Vancouver Area to include much of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island,” continued Henderson. “That market will continue to show very little activity when compared to the first part of ’16 and parts of ’17. We’ve seen considerable slowdown there and it will continue being sluggish with most players sitting on the sidelines.”

No matter which way you slice it, Alberta will be in tough through 2019. Calgary missing out on the Olympics, after a referendum revealed widespread opposition, might end up squeezing the city’s economy. However, Calgary’s economy is deeply tied to the oil and gas sector, and it has the city firmly planted in the doldrums. The federal government’s inability to get pipelines built has left the province with a glut of oil.

“What that does is deprive them of a less expensive way to get oil to the market,” said Henderson. “It’s another non-trivial headwind when compared with the price of oil and the fact that they didn’t get the Olympics. All of them together have delivered a number of blows to the marketplace.”

Indeed, the oil excess has become a major issue not just for Alberta but Canada. The province is producing more than it can get to market.

“The federal government hasn’t been able to get pipelines done and it’s really hurt the prospects of the Canadian economy,” said Shawn Stillman, principal broker of Mortgage Outlet. “That, along with the closing of GM in Oshawa—eventually there will not be a GM plant in Canada—and I can see the Canadian and U.S. economies taking downturns.”

by Neil Sharma  

05 Dec 2018



Multiple factors will weigh upon Canadian housing next year

A potent cocktail of pressures will drag down the Canadian residential market well into 2019, according to the latest Quarterly Financial Report new report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

In the study covering the quarter ending September 2018, the CMHC stated that the trend shouldn’t be surprising, as the housing segment has already exhibited signs of cooling earlier this year.

“Taken together—tighter mortgage rules, rising interest rates and a slowing economy—are expected to underpin reduced demand for housing, resulting in slower price growth over the near term,” the report warned.

The national average MLS® price stood at $452,233 in the first 8 months of 2018, declining by 3.7% year-over-year. This marked the first decline in national prices since the 2009 recession.

This was made even more manifest in sales activity: MLS® transactions nationwide recorded a significant 11.7% annual slowdown from January to August this year, down to 327,206 units. Canadian housing starts during the same period remained flat at around 144,644 units.

And while the national economy is expected to benefit from a moderate pace for a prolonged duration, annual GDP growth will likely settle at 2% this year and 1.9% in 2019, “with the economy operating close to its potential rate,” the Crown corporation stated.

This economic robustness will also contribute to further interest rate growth, which in turn would propel debt service costs. The nationwide mortgage debt service ratio went up slightly to 6.5% in the second quarter of the year, compared to the 6.3% during the same time in 2017.

Further rate hikes imply “that an increasing share of household income would be required to service higher debt repayments,” according to the report, adding that “although debt levels remain elevated, these trends are expected to curb borrowing activity, while also reducing dependence on debt to fuel economic growth in Canada.”

By  Ephraim Vecina

03 Dec 2018


Premier Ford commits to renters

The governing Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario renewed its pledge to increase rental housing in the provincial capital.

Speaking at the Ontario Realtor Party Conference, Premier Doug Ford reiterated his government’s intention to eliminate rent control in new builds, a key point from his government’s Housing Supply Action Plan. He specifically noted that rent control has put downward pressure on an already historically low vacancy rate, to the detriment of families.

“A Key part of our plan is getting new rental units built and getting more housing options on the market,” said Ford. “We will keep rent control in place for those who already have it, but we will reintroduce rent control exemptions for new units. This move will help families have a better chance of finding a good place to live that they can afford.”

While it remains to be seen whether or not exempting new builds from rent control will indeed increase rental supply, Toronto is desperate. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rental Market Report, released last week, revealed the city’s vacancy rate in October was 1.1%, a marginal increase on the 16-year low of 1% recorded last year.

“The rental market is still pretty tight,” said Jordan Nanowski, a CMHC senior market analyst. “We saw average rent increase 4.9% and people are staying put as a result. The turnover rate has decreased substantially from 14.5% to 11.2% because the average rent for vacant units are 18% higher than occupied units.”

Ford believes even more can be done to increase rental supply—although his government is still in consultations to figure out what else it will do.

“But we know we can do even more,” said Ford. “We need to cut the red tape that stops new buildings before shovels are even in the ground, or that discourages landlords looking to expand from creating new units… we need to cut red tape to make it easier to build the housing that’s needed, and we need to build faster.”

The CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, Tim Hudak—himself a former leader of the PC Party—welcomes the rent control amendment because he believes it will relieve pressure on available supply.

“More choice in the system will help keep rental costs under control and open up more housing choices for those trying to get out of mom and dad’s basement or get out of social housing,” he said. “Realtors also act for mom and pop investors who may invest in a condo or two and rent out for long-term income, so that’s good news for investors as well as tenants. Premier Ford pointed out that we have one of the tightest rental markets currently in North America. These measures will increase inventory and help give tenants, or prospective tenants, a lot more affordable choice.”


by Neil Sharma

03 Dec 2018