Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Denley: Ottawa is, in fact, not as terrible as you think

Cohen’s column appeared on the same day that we learned that Ottawa’s long-anticipated new central library just took a huge step forward. The fact the city may work with Library and Archives Canada on a shared building is great news that’s likely to result in a bigger, better library. It’s the kind of synergy with the federal government that this city needs.
Later this month, we will find out the details of the proposals to redevelop LeBreton Flats. While it’s disappointing that both ideas feature an NHL hockey rink, the real news will be in what else is involved and how the project will connect to its neighborhood. Cleaning up the empty mess of contaminated soil so close to the centre of the city would be a real gain, even if the project itself isn’t all that we would hope.
The nearby Zibi development, which would reopen the Chaudière Falls area to the public and be a model of green sustainability, is what the city has long needed, although Cohen suggests it be re-examined because some aboriginal people oppose it. On the other hand, other aboriginal people welcome it. Let’s not stop every good idea because someone is against it.
Those are the improvements coming, but let’s not forget what has already been accomplished. Lansdowne Park, which Cohen describes as mediocre, has transformed actual mediocrity into a people magnet full of activity, restaurants and shops. Yes, it’s too bad that a pet food store is front and centre, but the urban park at last makes something of Lansdowne’s great site.
The city’s convention centre is an infinite improvement over the dump that it replaced. The view of the Hill that it captures is priceless. 
To read the complete article by Randal Denley, Ottawa Citizen, please click here

Ottawa is an excellent G7 capital

- In 2015, Ottawa was named the most business-friendly, mid-sized city in North AND South America by the Financial Times. 
- The Airports Council International says Ottawa has the best airport in Canada and third in the world; the other G7 capitals are nowhere to be found in their rankings. 
- Our Convention Centre was crowned number two in the world by theInternational Association of Convention Centres; again the other G7 capitals were noticeably absent.
Branham Group’s latest list of the top 250 technology companies in Canada concluded that Ottawa was home to more headquartered companies than Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and more than three times Waterloo. 
According to Mercer, we ranked third in North America for quality of living and Today’s Parent says we are the second best place in the country to raise a family.
Canada has the most educated workforce in the world and Ottawa has the most educated workforce the Canada. The Martin Prosperity Institute rated Ottawa-Gatineau first in their search for the world’s top Creative Class.

Bruce Lazenby, Ottawa Business Jounal - complete article, please click here

Cohen: Ottawa is the worst capital city in the G7

Here, then, is why Ottawa is a sleepy place – shoddy planning, administrative lassitude, somnolent politicians. It explains a city that is the way it is. For its lack of ambition and absence of imagination, Ottawa is the worst capital in the G7. It is unable to get anything done very quickly, whether repairing a ceremonial thoroughfare like Sussex Drive or building light rail, which will arrive decades after other cities.
But this is Ottawa. It is congenitally conservative. If New York is said to be a town without foreplay, Ottawa is a town without climax. Not much ever happens, and when something does, the earth doesn’t move. The big ideas remaking cities – renewed waterfronts, recovered green space, edgy architecture, environmental innovation, seamless public transit – happen somewhere else.
Oh, let’s not be too unfair. Ottawa has better shopping than it did, even if Holt Renfrew has left town. Light rail is coming, though it won’t stop in Confederation Square. The brutalist National Arts Centre is getting a new glass façade, and will no longer look like a Stalinist detention centre.
But Ottawa is more motion than progress. It still has no new central library. It cannot make people use the Sparks Street Mall, now celebrating 50 years of failure. It cannot stop Rideau Street from looking a like tumble-weed main street in a mining town. It cannot produce better, more reasonable restaurants.
For the complete article, Andrew Cohen, Ottawa Citizen - please click here

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Are Homes Really Too Expensive or Are Your Expectations Too High?

For my latest Market Manuscript report, a 60-page analysis of the Canadian housing market released this week, I took a hard look at interest rates, high house prices, and speculative buying activity. When considering the issue of affordability, I came across a report by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) which included a survey of recent homebuyers. The study asked what compromises they were willing to make when buying a home. The respondents were willing to accept a longer commute to work, a smaller lot size, and a lower quality of interior finish. However, buyers did not want to budge on proximity to amenities, community setting, type of residence, and unit size. This is where we have a problem. If people are not willing to settle on the type of residence (i.e. condo vs. single-family) or the unit size, prospective buyers are going to really feel the sting of unaffordability.

To read the complete article, by Ben Myers, please click here...

Kiki Interiors - Ottawa Citizen furniture and lighting expert ....

When it comes to furnishings, forget uniformity unless you’re outfitting a military base. Blending styles is all the rage as homeowners repurpose or refurbish existing pieces and mix them with new, quality items, says Kristi Blok of Kiki Interiors. Reasons for the stylish mash-up? They include blended families or people coupling up later in life than they once did, with each party bringing its prized possessions to the union.
As well, we’re exposed to a broader range of decorating styles than ever thanks to the Internet, television and magazines.
“There’s also a bit of an economic side to this,” adds Blok. “Instead of $20,000 for a dining room set, people are spending it on kitchen counters or bathrooms.” So there’s only so much left for that dining or living room.

For the complete article, including information on 2016 Ottawa home predictions, please click here

On the home front: What's hot in 2016 - Langston, Ottawa Citizen

They don’t strut down catwalks, but homes sometimes seem as trend-conscious as the slinkiest runway model. They gussy themselves up in gables and fancy rooflines then go all sleek and modern; floral-print furniture appears only to vanish; houses grow big, then shrink. One thing for sure: status quo is not in their vocabulary. Here’s some of what we can expect to see on the homes front this year.

The market

New home sales in Ottawa should hit 4,300 this year, up eight per cent from 2015, according to the latest numbers available from Patrick Meeds of industry analyst PMA Brethour Realty Group. He predicts a steady growth in the first-time buyer market in 2016.

Along with texture, floral patterns will be everywhere, some designers say.
Along with texture, floral patterns will be everywhere, some designers say. ikea.ca / Ottawa Citizen

As well, housing starts in Ottawa should rebound by four per cent over 2015, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. That’s due mostly to an increase in starts for relatively affordable row housing. Starts of single detached homes will remain flat in 2016, the agency believes. It forecasts the average price of a new, detached home in Ottawa to hit $525,000 this year, up from a predicted $517,000 in 2015 (final numbers not available at the time of writing).
CMHC says to watch as well for a slight uptick in condo construction after two years of slow starts as builders cleared out inventory.
The agency predicts Ottawa’s resale market will again enjoy the healthy sales growth it saw last year, with the average price edging up to $376,000 from $368,000 in 2015.

For the complete article, please click here

Record-breaking December, contributes to a strong 2015

Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 703 residential properties in December through the Board's Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 638 in December 2014, an increase of 10.2 per cent. The five-year average for December sales is 653. The total number of residential and condo units sold through the Board's MLS® System throughout all of 2015 was 14,658, compared with 13,919 in 2014, an increase of 5.3 per cent. Separately, residential and condo unit sales each outperformed the 2014 numbers. 

"Looking back at the 2015 market, we started the year off with extreme cold temperatures in the first quarter of the year, but that didn't stop homebuyers," says new President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board, Shane Silva. "We saw the busy spring selling season pick up as early as March this year, and continue well throughout the summer, with a small dip in July, followed by record-breaking sale numbers in September. Three months later, December broke the record for the highest number of residential and condo properties sold at 703 units, only comparable to 2011, when 699 properties sold."

December's sales included 160 in the condominium property class, and 543 in the residential property class. The condominium property class includes any property, regardless of style (i.e. detached, semi-detached, apartment, stacked etc.), which is registered as a condominium, as well as properties which are co-operatives, life leases and timeshares. The residential property class includes all other residential properties.

"The listing inventory for both residential and condos trended higher all year, showing signs of tapering off in October," says Silva. "Increased inventory levels contributed to the market favouring Buyers for much of the year; however as the inventory levelled out in the fall, we moved into more balanced conditions. Cumulative days on market increased to 109 days in December, while the average for the year comes in at 86 days. Average residential sale prices are up slightly over last year, which is great for the Ottawa market. All combined, these indicators point to a stable real estate market."

The average sale price of a residential-class property sold in December in the Ottawa area was $386,961, an increase of 5.5 per cent over December 2014. The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $250,393, a decrease of 7.5 per cent over December 2014. The year-to-date numbers for the average residential sale price in 2015 was $391,940, an increase of 1.9 per cent over 2014. While the average condominium sale price was $259,691, a decrease of 1.5 per cent over 2014. The Board cautions that average sale price information can be useful in establishing trends over time but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. The average sale price is calculated based on the total dollar volume of all properties sold.

"A trend all year long, the hottest segments of our market are properties sold in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range, with 31.6 per cent of the year's sales, followed by the $200,000 to $300,000 range, with 26.2 per cent of the year's sales" says Silva. "In addition to residential and condominium sales, OREB Members assisted clients with renting 181 properties in December, and over 3,000 properties this year."