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Toronto housing called ‘bubble,’ as new listings fall rapidly

Posted on 25 February 2017 by admin

An unprecedented imbalance between the supply and the demand for Toronto-area homes is exerting a disproportionate impact on the national picture, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

Its chief economist Gregory Klump said Wednesday that he doesn’t see that changing any time soon, although one bank economist suggested that the Toronto and area market may be “dangerously” overheated.

Across the country, home sales declined 1.3 per cent between December and January, but the actual (non seasonally adjusted) sales activity rose 1.9 per cent compared to a year ago, said CREA.

Its report showed dollar volume of Greater Toronto residential property sales rose 35.6 per cent year over year in January, compared to a 2.1 per cent national average rise, which was dragged down by a 51.1 per cent decline in Greater Vancouver.

New listings in Toronto fell a seasonally adjusted 17 per cent in January from a month earlier, the biggest one-month decline since 2002. Sales as a share of new listings — a gauge of how demand compares with supply — rose to a record 94 per cent.

But there are different takes on how concerning that is.

Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter described the Toronto region, including cities surrounding it, as being in a “housing bubble,” in a note to investors.

“Toronto and any city that is remotely within commuting distance are overheating, and perhaps dangerously so,” Porter wrote.

But CREA’s Klump said prices won’t go sideways until affordability starts to erode sales and buyers can no longer afford to purchase a home.

“As long as we see the (Toronto area) shortage of supply there’s no end in sight,” he said.

What is clear, however, is that the high price of Toronto real estate — coupled with the city’s unique municipal land transfer tax — is driving activity to unaccustomed high levels in communities farther and farther outside the city.

New mortgage regulations introduced last year that make it harder to qualify for a home purchase are a boon to urban sprawl, said Klump.

The average price for what is considered a “benchmark” home in Toronto is up 22.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to CREA. That has lifted prices for areas like Oakville-Milton to 26 per cent over the past year.

Kitchener-Waterloo, Barrie and Brantford are all feeling the city spillover, said CREA.

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Here Are The Canadian Cities With The Most Empty Homes

Posted on 15 February 2017 by admin

There were more than 1.3 million empty or temporarily occupied homes in Canada in 2016, according to census data released this week — enough housing to accommodate some 3.2 million people.

That’s an increase of nearly 40 per cent since the 2001 census. As a share of all housing, 8.7 per cent of Canadian homes lacked a permanent resident in 2016, up from 7.6 per cent in 2001.

In Toronto, the number of empty homes has tripled to 99,000 since 2001, enough housing for some 240,000 people.

In Vancouver, empty homes have more than doubled in that time, to around 66,000.

The rising number of empty homes has got some policymakers in large cities worried. Many market observers have argued that foreign investors and house-flippers are leaving the homes they purchased empty, threatening the economic health of the community in the long-run.

Vancouver’s high-end neighbourhoods “have become just luxury items like Ferraris,” Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, told Bloomberg News. “They’re not affordable for most local incomes.”

In the condo neighbourhood around Toronto’s King Street West, nearly 22 per cent of homes are empty, Better Dwelling reports.

Percentage-wise, the cities with the most empty homes in Canada are places not known for house-flippers or foreign investors:

  • St. John’s
  • Saskatoon
  • Halifax
  • St. Catharines, Ont.

In some of these cities, empty homes may simply reflect a lack of demand.

Another cause that has been suggested is Airbnb. Some academic articles have argued the short-term stay booking service is wreaking havoc with housing supply, by effectively turning homes into part of a city’s hotel-room stock.

Whatever the reasons, empty houses have become an obsession in Canada’s priciest cities, as evidenced by this Vancouver blog dedicated to the city’s most beautiful unoccupied homes.

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Here are the tax changes to watch out for in the upcoming federal budget

Posted on 08 February 2017 by admin

There’s much speculation as to both the date of the upcoming federal budget and its potential contents. Typically, the budget is issued in February or March in anticipation of the start of the government’s fiscal year, which begins on April 1. Over the past decade, prior years’ budget dates have ranged from late January (in 2009, to hastily deal with the fall 2008 economic crisis) to as late as March 29 (in 2012).

Although the date is a tightly-guarded secret (until it’s not), the rumoured date among policy wonks, based on the Parliamentary calendar on when the House of Commons is in session, is sometime during the last full week of February, with Wednesday Feb. 22 or Thurs. Feb. 23 being two popular guesses.

Of more interest, of course, is what the actual contents of Mr. Bill Morneau’s second Liberal budget will be. And when it comes to what’s in the budget, it’s anyone’s guess. Here are some possible tax changes we might see.

Tax rates

Last year saw the introduction of the middle-income tax cut (the rate drop to 20.5 per cent from 22 per cent for 2017 income between $45,916 to $91,831) coupled with the launch of the new 33 per cent high-income bracket (for 2017 income above $202,800). Given that the top, combined federal/provincial marginal tax rate for high-income earners in Canada is now over 50 per cent in seven provinces, it seems unlikely the government would raise tax rates any further, if for no other reason than to retain highly-skilled Canadian workers and professionals that are mobile and could be tempted to relocate south if President Donald Trump follows through on his promise to drop the top U.S. tax rate for high-income earners by 17 per cent.

“Boutique” tax credits

“Boutique” tax credits, sometimes known as “tax expenditures,” refers to government spending to encourage certain programs and behaviours, such as public transit and post-secondary education, or that target certain segments of the population, such as parents, seniors or pensioners. These expenditures are administered through the tax system and are often delivered in the form of tax credits.

These credits have proliferated in recent years and fill up an entire page of the tax return. There are credits for volunteer firefighters, search and rescue volunteers as well as first-time home buyers. Last year’s federal budget announced the elimination of four of the credits which you may see for the last time when you fill out your 2016 tax returns: the children’s fitness and arts credits as well as the education and textbook credits for students.

A week after last year’s budget, Mr. Morneau announced a review of the “tax expenditures in the code … (to make) sure they are all consistent with our approach to tax fairness.”

This year’s budget may contain the further elimination of a variety of tax credits that are costly, narrowly-targeted, and don’t have a meaningful impact on the taxpayers for whom they were designed.

Employee stock options

The 2015 Liberal election platform contained a proposal to limit the benefits of the 50 per cent employee stock option deduction by placing a cap of $100,000 on annual eligible stock option gains. This idea was abandoned by Mr. Morneau after intense lobbying by start-ups in the high-tech and resource industries, worried that such a measure would hamper their ability to attract talent as these companies rely heavily on non-cash, stock option compensation to pay their workers.

Capital gains inclusion rates

As I’ve stated in an earlier column, the government has never publicly campaigned on nor stated that it was studying an increase to the capital gains inclusion rate, currently set at 50 per cent. Yet an increase in the rate, to 66 2/3 per cent, which we had in 1988 or to 75 per cent, which lasted for a decade from 1990 to 2000, is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Private health & dental plans

On a positive note, it appears that your employer-provided group health and dental plans will remain tax-free. While previous reports suggested that the government may start taxing Canadians who receive these benefits through work as a taxable employment benefit, on Wednesday during question period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he won’t be following through on this rumoured change. “We are committed to protecting the middle class from increased taxes and that is why we will not be raising (those) taxes,” he said.

Small business owners

Business owners, including incorporated professionals, who operate their businesses through a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC) are able to claim the small business deduction on the first $500,000 of active business income, thereby paying an extremely low rate of tax when the income is initially earned. This results in a significant tax deferral advantage by leaving the after-tax corporate income inside the corporation as opposed to paying it out immediately.

Business owners also have the ability to income split after-tax profits from their (professional) corporation by issuing shares, directly or often via a family trust, to a spouse, partner or adult children, and paying those family members dividends which are then taxed at lower rates.

In the 2015 election platform, the Liberals stated that they “will ensure that…. CCPC status is not used to reduce personal income tax obligations for high-income earners rather than supporting small businesses.” The platform document also quotes University of Ottawa professor Michael Wolfson’s research, which estimates that “approximately $500 million per year is lost, particularly as high-income individuals use CCPC status as an income splitting tool.”

Some business owners and professionals are concerned that now that the government has had over a year to think about how to attack these issues, new measures may come out in the upcoming budget to curtail the use of the small business corporation and limit income splitting with family members.

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From Microsoft to Twitter, global companies react to Trump’s immigration ban

Posted on 01 February 2017 by admin

Reaction was sharpest from the technology industry, with Twitter awash in reminders that Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, was the son of a Syrian immigrant. Among the first to speak out was Google CEO Sundar Pichai, himself an immigrant from India, who called the policy “painful.” Another India-born CEO, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, took to LinkedIn to highlight “the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, for the world.”

U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to end business as usual in Washington. Global companies are now learning just what that means.

What began before his inauguration, with attempts to cajole corporations like Toyota into keeping jobs in the U.S. with critical tweets, is now escalating into a crucial test for business leaders trying to maintain the cross-border flows of people and goods that underpin commerce in the 21st century.

Trump’s Friday signing of an executive order barring the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., on the heels of his war of words with Mexico over trade, alarmed executives from big employers including General Electric, Google and Microsoft.

A chaotic weekend of protests, emergency court hearings and White House rebuttals left executives with a tricky choice: speak out and risk drawing fire from an outspoken president, or stay silent and face criticism from employees and activists.

GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt’s response underscored the delicate balance business will have to strike. “We have many employees from the named countries and we do business all over the region,” he said in an internal e-mail. While he called those staff “critical to our success,” he avoided direct criticism of Trump’s policy. GE “will continue to make our voice heard with the new administration and congress and reiterate the importance of this issue,” he said.

 “We would never think this would become any kind of an issue,” Ludwig Willisch, chief executive officer of North American operations at Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, said at an automotive conference on Saturday. “This country is a melting pot, freedom of speech, everybody gets together and creates this great country. So, we were not prepared for this kind of thing.”

Criticism from pockets of corporate America, which was matched by statements from the leaders of Germany, France, and Canada, stood in stark contrast to the warm words toward Trump just a week ago. Executives at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland, including AT&T’s Randall Stephenson and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon, praised Trump’s promises to overhaul corporate taxes and invest in infrastructure. Optimists suggested he would quietly drop pledges to tear up trade deals and reconsider defence commitments to allies.

Trump has “had this extraordinary honeymoon where Wall Street has kind of discounted all the negative aspects,” Richard Fenning, the CEO of consultancy Control Risks, told Bloomberg Television. As companies react to the migrant ban, “perhaps that honeymoon is starting to be over,” he said.

The about-face was epitomized by Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk; last week he praised Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, as a potentially “excellent” pick. On Sunday, Musk tweeted that migrants “don’t deserve to be rejected” and asked his 6.89 million Twitter followers to read the immigration order and suggest changes.

On the other hand, U.S. auto companies, whose home state of Michigan has a large Arab community, have yet to make their views known. Wall Street has also largely stayed out of the fray.

At some of its biggest banks, executives said they were struggling to understand whether the order will ultimately apply to employees who work in the U.S. with green cards or legal work permits. If it doesn’t hit visa holders, few major companies’ employees will be affected, according to one executive who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to comment. On Sunday, JPMorgan said it was working to assist affected staff.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Trump’s move left him with “deep concern, a heavy heart and a resolute promise.” The coffee chain will redouble efforts to hire as many as 10,000 refugees over five years in 75 countries, he wrote in a note to employees Sunday.

Reaction was sharpest from the technology industry, with Twitter awash in reminders that Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, was the son of a Syrian immigrant. Among the first to speak out was Google CEO Sundar Pichai, himself an immigrant from India, who called the policy “painful.” Another India-born CEO, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, took to LinkedIn to highlight “the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, for the world.”

Trump should expect sustained challenges from the tech industry in particular, said Ian Bremmer, CEO of political consultancy Eurasia Group, because it differs significantly with him on issues from net neutrality to immigration. “While most every CEO wants to just ‘get back to business’ after Trump’s election, that’s going to prove much harder” for technology leaders, he said. “There’s going to be a fight.”

Compounding business leaders’ unease was the order’s confused implementation, which included unclear directives on how border agents should treat lawful permanent residents, and contradictory statements about how it would affect those who hold passports from two countries—for example, a dual citizen of Iran and the U.K.

 “We are committed to protecting our people and will provide whatever support is necessary to protect them and their families,” Michael Roth, CEO of advertising firm Interpublic Group of Cos., wrote in an e-mail.

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Online shopping drives surge in holiday returns, and what happens next may surprise you

Posted on 19 January 2017 by admin

It’s the place where unwanted Christmas gifts go to start a new life on the resale market.

The Feisty Ferret Home cage that didn’t quite work out as planned; the Star Wars mask; the Jimmy Choo shoes that maybe you actually wore on New Year’s Eve; dozens and dozens of television sets, returned for all kinds of reasons, end up in the new year on the floor of warehouses such as the one in Brampton operated by Liquidity Services.

“This Christmas returns season is our peak, from now to the first week in March,” said John Lee, vice-president and general manager, Canada, for Liquidity Services, a global company headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The returns business is booming, thanks to an increase in shopping online, where return rates are higher than at bricks-and-mortar retailers, according to Lee.

Figures from the Retail Council of Canada, the National Retail Federation in the U.S. and card-payment processing company Moneris peg regular retail returns at about 8 per cent to 10 per cent of sales, or about $26.6 billion in Canada in 2015.

Online returns are closer to 20 per cent, surging to 30 per cent during the holiday gift-giving season, as good intentions give way to panic and last-minute delusions about how happy your loved ones will be to find a trout tie or electric bug vacuum under the tree meet with grim reality.

The goods at Liquidity Services and similar companies, which collect returns from major retailers they’re not allowed to publicize, will be bought by resellers and end up in neighbourhood stores, at flea markets, on Kijiji and Craigslist, even on Amazon, where many of them were purchased in the first place.

The bad news for shoppers is that liberal return policies in effect today are costing retailers big money and may not be sustainable.

“Retailers are concerned, absolutely,” said Diane Brisebois, president and chief executive officer of the Retail Council of Canada.

“Eventually, I am guessing, someone will blink and say: ‘We just can’t ship and accept returns for free 24-7 all the time. It is not sustainable.’ ”

There are many reasons online returns are higher; the most obvious is that it remains difficult to judge a product without seeing it in person.

Some online shoppers order an item in different colours and sizes, knowing ahead that they will be returning all but one of them.

There’s a learning curve when it comes to online shopping, Brisebois points out; once people figure out what products work for them, they’re less likely to return items.

As the online shopping experience continues to improve thanks to technologies such as 3D and virtual reality, returns will decline, Brisebois believes.

Failure to stem the increase in returns could result in higher prices to consumers.

“It will take a couple of years, we believe, for this to settle and for return policies to adjust in order to make sure they are servicing customers and avoiding abuses because, at the end of the day. Let’s not fool ourselves, it’s the customer who pays,” said Brisebois.

Different retailers have different policies when it comes to restocking returned items, Lee said.

For some retailers, as long as a product is “reasonably retail-ready” (an industry term), it goes back on the shelves.

Other retailers won’t return an item to the shelves if the packaging is so much as wrinkled.

Returned items follow different journeys. Some are returned directly to stores. Some retailers direct returns to their distribution centres.

Liquidity Services buys the returned items from the retailers.

Other retailers arrange to have customer returns sent directly to Liquidity Services, which, for a fee paid by the retailer, processes the credit card refunds and arranges to liquidate the products.

Returned merchandise used to end up in landfill, said Lee.

But the idea of an ocean of returned items continuing to wash through the retail system, being unboxed, re-boxed, resold, unboxed and sold again — possibly even shipped by mail again and returned again — doesn’t seem all that environmentally friendly.

That’s actually not the biggest problem, said Emily Alfred, waste campaigner with Toronto Environmental Alliance.

“Once you get into the shipping and retailing stage, it’s just a tiny, tiny fraction of the environmental impact of a product,” she said.

“It’s usually making the thing in the first place that is the problem.”

An e-commerce study by Antony Karabus of HRC Advisory released last year found that operating earnings as a percentage of sales declined by as much as 25 per cent due to both a shift from in-store to online sales and the investments required to support e-commerce.

The study analyzed the financial data for 37 retailers across three sectors, including department stores and luxury chains, specialty apparel and beauty stores and discount retailers.

Karabus said that retailers may need to tighten return policies so that returned items can still be sold in season at full price, not at reduced prices or at liquidation prices because the items are used, worn or damaged.

For now, businesses such as Liquidation Services, and the people who buy from them, will continue to ring up sales.

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Walmart And Visa Declare A Truce In Feud Over Credit Cards

Posted on 11 January 2017 by admin

 Corporate behemoths Walmart Canada and Visa have declared a truce in their dispute over merchant fees, allowing Walmart customers in Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ont., to resume using the credit card beginning Friday.

Both companies said they came to an agreement but did not provide details, calling the arrangement confidential.

Walmart began refusing Visa credit cards at its three stores in Thunder Bay in mid-July. It said it pays more than $100 million in fees every year for customers to use various brands of credit cards, and that the fees charged by Visa were excessive.

That set off a widely watched battle within the retail sector that intensified in October, when Walmart expanded its policy of rejecting Visas to its 16 stores in Manitoba. The retail giant had said it was planning to expand its phase-out of Visa to all of its 400 stores in Canada.

The months-long dispute became so heated that at one point Visa offered its cardholders in Manitoba a reward for buying their groceries somewhere other than Walmart. It launched an advertising campaign in November offering Manitoba Visa cardholders a $10 credit if they spent $50 or more at grocery stores.

The campaign didn’t explicitly mention Walmart or the fee dispute, but a Visa spokeswoman said at the time that the company was hoping to ease any inconvenience for Visa cardholders who can’t use their cards everywhere that they want to.

Visa ran a similar ad in Thunder Bay, promising cardholders there with a $25 credit for every grocery purchase of $75 or more.

Visa previously said it had offered Walmart one of the lowest rates for any merchant in the country, and that if it gave in to the retailer’s demands then other merchants would want a reduction in their fees, as well.

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Tuition increase at Ontario colleges and universities capped at 3%

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

Tuition at Ontario colleges and universities will be allowed to rise an average of 3 per cent each year for the next two years, as the government revamps the way it funds post-secondary institutions.

The tuition fee cap is an extension of the allowed increase currently in place, which the government says provides schools with some stability as they adapt to the coming changes. The government will also implement free tuition for low-income students, starting next fall.

“The number one (impact) is access . . . people across the country and beyond are looking at what we are doing in Ontario on the access side — we are already really, really good, but this takes us to a whole new level where every single person in this province can actually afford to go,” said Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development.

“. . . Behind access is quality, because we don’t want people going and not getting (the most) out of that experience. Even though on the finance side, we are helping a lot, they are still investing their time, and students deserve to know they are getting the highest quality.”

The government will also take a look at how to make sure post-secondary studies prepare students for the workforce.

In last February’s budget, the government announced students whose families earn less than $50,000 will be given grants equal to or greater than the average tuition, starting next fall. Half of students whose parents earn $83,000 or less will receive more in non-repayable grants than they have to pay in tuition fees.

The government is funding the changes by cancelling the tuition and education tax credits.

Tuition fees in Ontario have been the highest in the country — averaging more than $6,000 a year for an arts and science degree at university.

Meanwhile, college tuition is among the lowest Canada and the small increase in past years and the next two will see institutions fall further behind in funding, said Linda Franklin of Colleges Ontario.

“We had asked the government to recognize that colleges are different and to develop a tuition formula specific to colleges,” she said. “They have chosen not to do that.”

Student groups said while a tuition hike isn’t something they support, “we think there’s an opportunity here in the next two years, as the government said it is going to be doing extensive consultations exclusively on tuition,” said Jamie Cleary of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.

The government says a student from a family earning $30,000 per year has a little over one in three chance of going on to post-secondary. A student from a family earning $110,000 a year has an almost two in three chance.

Meanwhile, the changes to how post-secondary institutions are funded will be phased in over three years, starting next fall, when they create “strategic mandate agreements” outlining their strengths and goals and how to measure success.

For the first time, the government is looking at tying part of the funding to a number of indicators — from employment levels after graduation to student retention and satisfaction.

The specifics of how the funding will work, and even what percentage of overall funding it will comprise, have yet to be worked out. But the bulk of transfers will continue to be based on enrolment.

Matthews said for institutions facing declining enrolment because of demographics, the free tuition plan will encourage more low-income and mature students to attend, as well as under-represented groups such as indigenous students.

“It really is positive change,” she said. “The (student grant and loan) changes are for sure our number one priority to get those right.”

Mindful that students are now applying for university and college for next fall, when the tuition relief is set to begin, the government recently launched an online “student assistance calculator,” to give an idea of how much in grants and loans they are eligible for.

The government is advertising its free tuition via social media — Facebook and YouTube — but also in movie theatres.

A government-commissioned report issued a year ago said the government should tie some funding to the quality of post-secondary education, from undergraduate satisfaction to evidence that students have learned skills such as communication and critical thinking.

In Ontario, about one-third of adults now hold a degree.

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GTA real estate forecast sees prices rise in 2017

Posted on 15 December 2016 by admin

It won’t get any easier to buy a home in the Toronto region next year, as the area’s housing prices are expected to rise by another 8 per cent in 2017.

That’s lower than this year’s 17 per cent increase but significantly higher than the 2 per cent national average Re/Max is forecasting for next year, according to the company’s Market Outlook Report being released Friday.

In the Toronto area, “we do see decreased affordability next year,” said Cam Forbes, general manager Re/Max Realtron Realty, which has offices through the Toronto area.

“We’re predicting unit sales will go down (by about 5 per cent), but prices still to go up,” he said.

“We’re not predicting a correction next year, but we are predicting a reduction in unit sales and still an increase in price,” said Forbes.

Even in big corrections, however, real estate prices resist going down.

Move-up buyers searching for detached houses, which cost about $1.3 million in Toronto and $1 million in the surrounding communities, are expected to continue driving the market in 2017, says Re/Max.

The Re/Max report averages home prices this year to date rather than the year-over-year monthly statistics published by the Toronto Real Estate Board. That avoids monthly fluctuations that can occur due to an above-average number of luxury home sales or other short-term variations, said Forbes.

The average home price, including all types of homes this year to date in the Toronto region was $725,857. An 8 per cent increase would see that rise to $783,926 next year.

Forbes described this year’s market, which saw a 17 per cent price growth, as “extremely tight.” While the economy remained strong, the inventory of detached, semi-detached and townhomes on the market hit historic lows.

“Ten years ago it was about 40,000 townhouses, semis and singles that were being built. Now it’s about 20,000,” he said.

With the population growing by about 100,000 a year and the economy strong with low interest rates, the strong price growth “is pretty explainable,” said Forbes.

But he doesn’t expect the government will allow it to continue.

“All the changes they have made to underwriting mortgage criteria now is not going to have a major impact on first-time buyers or any other segments, but we anticipate further measures by the government to tighten lending requirements,” said Forbes.

“Over the long run you just don’t have 20 per cent year over year price increases in the market, so there’s just no way they’re going to allow that sort of price increase to continue.”

In the Toronto Region, Re/Max is predicting the strongest 2017 price growth in Durham Region where “move-on buyers” buyers from Toronto are looking for relative affordability, particularly on larger homes.

The extension of Highway 407 is helping drive buyers willing to commute to jobs in the city and other parts of the Toronto region.

Oakville, which saw the highest hike in prices this year at about 25 per cent to an average cost of $1.1 million, is expected to climb 5 per cent in 2017.

A shortage of homes for sale there is expected to continue as foreign, move-up and move-over buyers from other parts of the region compete for the town’s high-end, lakefront homes.

Brampton, on the other hand, is expected to see a 2.5 per cent decline in 2017 prices that rose about 19 per cent this year. Re/Max expects homes there could remain listed for more than a month, “signaling a return to a more balanced market.”

Neighbouring Mississauga saw an average sale price up 14 per cent from 2015, but the number of sales dropped about 3 per cent year-over-year, a trend that will carry into next year, says Re/Max.

“Buyers remain shielded from double land transfer taxes in Mississauga, and find the market more accessible than Toronto,” according to the report.

Re/Max Housing Market Survey results

61 Percentage of Canadians who own a home with 58 per cent of Ontarians as homeowners.

53 Percentage of Canadians (52% of Ontarians) expecting to buy a home at some point, with 47 per cent anticipating that will be in the next 5 to 10 years.

33 Percentage of Canadians who are looking at alternative means of financing a home.

22 Percentage of Canadians who say they would rent out a room.

15 Percentage of Canadians who would rent a room on a short-term rental platform such as Airbnb.

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Air Miles collectors stuck with redeemed rewards

Posted on 08 December 2016 by admin

Air Miles Canada says it won’t reimburse collectors who spent their points in anticipation of an expiration policy that will no longer take effect at the end of the year.

The company that runs the Air Miles loyalty points program, LoyaltyOne, announced last week it was cancelling plans that would have seen collectors lose miles older than five years.

While some celebrated the news, others — who had scrambled to redeem their miles ahead of the expiry — were angered by the about face.

Air Miles Canada’s Twitter account told two customers the company would not be reimbursing collectors who spent their points to avoid having them expire.

The account sent tweets saying the company would not accept returns, cancellations or exchanges due to the cancellation of the expiry policy, once booked.

The Air Miles reward program launched in 1992 and has more than 11 million active collector accounts.

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Black Friday was a good – not great – start to holiday shopping season

Posted on 01 December 2016 by admin

The good news for retailers in the U.S. is that sales in the past week appear to have improved when compared to the preceding weeks, and few stores required heavy promotions.

The bad news, however, is the structural changes favouring digital demand likely took more traffic from the malls, and this trend only seems to be accelerating.

Camilo Lyon, a retail analyst at Canaccord Genuity, noted that the stage was set for a strong Black Friday shopping weekend.

Retailers entered the busy period with clean inventories, colder winter weather finally arrived in the Northeast, and election-related uncertainty had largely passed.

Canaccord’s mall checks suggested most brands and retailers offered promotions that were similar to last year, but there were some exceptions.

Steve Madden Ltd. fell on the less promotional side in terms of the breadth and depth of its discounts.

Meanwhile, Lyon noted that Lululemon Athletica Inc., VF Corp.’s The North Face and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. seemed to be offering customers more promotions, probably due to higher inventory levels.

For Lululemon, the analyst noted that its ‘We Made Too Much’ section of excess inventory had nearly twice the SKUs it did a year ago.

“We believe not only was Lululemon’s fall inventory slow to sell, but also its cold weather assortment, as the later arrival of cold weather likely deterred seasonal demand,” he said.

The North Face also had significantly more SKUs on sale on its website this year, something Lyon attributed to excess inventory being carried over.

“Overall, we believe Black Friday was a good (not great) start to the holiday shopping season,” the analyst told clients. “With winter weather firmly here in many parts of the U.S., we believe sales trends should sequentially improve over the coming weeks in December.”

Lyon also noted that Columbia Sportswear Co., Deckers Outdoor Corp., Under Armour Inc., Nike Inc., Dicks Sporting Goods Inc., Foot Locker Inc., Finish Line Inc. and DSW Inc. all appeared to have similar levels of promotions versus last year. Meanwhile, Hibbett Sports Inc. was among those retailers that seemed to have more discounting.

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