Hungarian-born designer, Gabor Orsos, has come up with an idea that’s sure to excite the ridiculously rich. For a mere 5.2 million euros, or $6.5-million, the Austrian firm will design you a man-made, floating “island.”
“The interest has been massive from all over the world, from Australia, China, the United States. We have already had the first pre-orders and we have some potential buyers coming from Australia next week,” Orsos told AFP last week.
Each “Orsos Island” is fairly extensive, so owners won’t have to worry about getting in each other’s hair. They measure 20 by 37 metres (or 66 by 121 feet). The island has no engine, so it cannot move on its own – except naturally. It can, however, be anchored so it does not move. If the island’s owners want to change locations, they can only do so by getting towed – a potential drawback to some.
A new study conducted by Cushman & Wakefield Canada says that vacancy rates in Canada’s urban centres has dropped to as low as 5% in the second quarter of 2012, down from 5.4% in the first quarter. “There is always new construction in the suburbs to some degree,” says C&W’s executive managing director of valuation and advisory services Scott Chandler. “It’s the broader economic trend of centralization and downtown intensification.
In particular, Toronto’s growth has been impressive, says Senior Managing Director, Office Leasing at C&W Paul Morse. “Our research shows that in the 18-months before the fourth quarter in 2012, the market went through one of the most significant demand periods in its history, with over 400,000 square feet of absorption each quarter. The last time we saw this kind of growth was during the dot-com boom in 2000, before that, it was in 1997.”
This news isn’t new, though. Cushman & Wakefield released a similar report in 2011, highlighting demand in Toronto’s core. At the time, what they called the “urban renaissance” was being driven by “immigration, demographics, technology, congestion, condo development and sustainable office development.”
Condo development in the city’s core has also drawn a large population of workers, both young and educated. While older properties are being downgraded, many of Toronto’s newer office towers are upgrading to newer, more sustainable models to help lower operating costs and to attract new employees.
Ever wondered what it was like to be a millionaire? I have from time to time. While the likelihood of winning the lottery in my lifetime is slim to none, a girl can dream, right? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to buy a nice luxury home on a large estate, maybe somewhere in the country? In all of my daydreaming, what I quickly came to realize is that pickings are slim when you’re a millionaire – and you have to really know what you want. I mean shopping for that dream house has got to be a little bit different from picking out the average Canadian home. While I don’t really feel sorry for the millionaire couple in their house-hunting plight, I am curious. How would you go about buying a luxury home if you could afford one?
New rules for mortages in Canada have been announced. Addressing concerns over high household debt, Finance minister, Jim Flaherty, announced new rules for insured mortgages, a move he says could save Canadians thousands of dollars.
The news conference, held in Ottawa this morning, confirmed that Ottawa is making a number of changes to the mortgage rules, effective as of July 9, 2012.
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Flaherty announced that the maximum amortization period is to be reduced from 30 years to 25 years. While a shorter amortization period will mean higher payments, which could effectively price some buyers out of the market, it will also help homeowners to build equity quicker, and reduce the amount they’ll pay in interest in the long run.
If refinancing, the maximum amount that homeowners can borrow against the equity in their homes has been reduced from 85 per cent to 80 per cent. Also, government-backed mortgages will only be available for homes with a purchase price of less than $1-million. When mortgages applications are being considered, the maximum gross debt service ratio will be fixed at 39 per cent. The maximum total debt service ratio will be 44 per cent.
Buyers who provide a down payment of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price are still required to purchase mortgage insurance through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
In a city as multicultural as Toronto, it’s hard to tell who’s buying what and where they’re from. While many say foreign investment in the city is rampant and needs to be controlled, others say that’s just not true, and go so far as to say that foreign investment is a good thing. Unfortunately, since Canada doesn’t keep stats on foreign investment buyers, it’s difficult to determine who’s right.
After years of complaints from condo residents, developers and property managers, Trinity-Spadina NDP MPP Rosario Marchese is tired of the talk and wants to see action. Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty, however, says they need more time to consult with all affected parties.
“One of the most complex areas of law in Ontario happens to be condominium law so it’s really important that we give the industry the appropriate time to fully consult and given that there are so many people affected by this we think we need to take the time to get it right,” he says.
McGuinty hopes that rather than pushing things along too quickly with a private member’s bill, Marchese will consider joining forces in an attempt to fix the outdated Condominium Act.
According to TD economists, house prices in both Toronto and Vancouver are expected to decline over the next two to three years. While Vancouver is currently experiencing a slowdown, Toronto continues to make gains. Prices, say economists Derek Burleton and Leslie Preston, can be deceiving, though.
Up until now, short supplies of single-family homes in both Vancouver and Toronto have kept prices high. Contributing to the decline, are the high inventory levels of condos in both Vancouver and Toronto. While inventory is high in Vancouver, it’s not growing at the rapid rate that it is in Toronto.
A controversial new study, Tall Buildings: Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto, recommends that the city restrict the locations and the heights of tall buildings in the downtown core. While some think it’s time to regulate their construction, others find serious problems with the study.
Currently, the city of Toronto evaluates design guidelines to determine whether or not a building is a good fit for the city’s core. There are no development regulations or guidelines in place to help them make these decisions. The study’s authors, Frank Lewinberg of Urban Strategies and David Pontarini of Hariri Pontarini Architects say that tall buildings should be concentrated on streets like Bay, Bloor, College and King. They also recommend that the regulations be incorporated into the city’s official plan.
As more and more people want to live and work in the downtown core, Toronto’s residential population is increasing dramatically. To accommodate them, new condo towers, like the 83-storey Trump Tower, have been built.
I have a friend who works in construction. It was always his plan to one day have a big, beautiful home. Because he worked in the industry, he knew he could take a tiny, rundown home and make it into a stunning place to live – and that’s just what he did. He chose a tiny home on a less-than-popular street and began plans for his dream home.
When the house was completed, it was massive and stunning. It had a huge backyard and close to 3,000-square feet inside. Each room was finished with rounded corners, crown molding and elegant arches. The floors were made of high-end dark hardwood. The fixtures – French doors, fireplaces and lighting – were all something to behold on their own. All agreed; this guy had done an amazing job on his home.
When it came time to sell, though, the house sat on the market. Although the real estate market was busy and booming, my friend couldn’t buy an interested viewer. Time and time again, he had to lower his asking price until it was almost embarrassing. What was the problem?