I think the micro-condo trend may increase condo prices across the board. We’ll gradually get used to the $700/sq. ft. and it’ll radiate outward throughout the downtown.

If you spend 16 hours of your time at work and usually eat out, I can see how this makes sense. And if you only come to the city occasionally for business, micro-condos also make sense. But I don’t want one for myself. Check out the video, 6 minutes 25 seconds (sorry, I was unable to turn off the ad at the beginning) – these apartments look like fake 3-D spaces, functional but not really intended for humans. But I won’t judge if you want one. To each his own.

Source: BNN

As real estate prices rise, demand is growing for affordable downtown living in Canada’s biggest cities. The solution may be to shrink the amount of space you buy.

Smart House Condos is a new joint development by Malibu Investments and Urban Capital at the corner of Queen Street and University Avenue in downtown Toronto. Units start at $227,000 for a 300 square foot unit.

Terry Lustig, development manager at Malibu Investments says micro-condos are popular with people who want to live downtown, but not spend all of their money on a mortgage. She also believes they will be a growing trend in Toronto.

But how much bang for your buck are you getting? According to research firm Urbanation, new condos in Toronto had an average price of $539 per square foot in the second quarter of 2013. A unit in Smart House will cost around $700 per square foot. As the saying goes, in real estate it’s all about location, location, location.

While the units may sound small, they’re designed to save space. The bed folds down from the wall, it has a combined washer-dryer, and extra counter space comes in a drawer.

Amber Kanwar, host of The Business News, got a tour of the space-saving design. Watch the video above, and then let us know in the comments section – would you trade space for a condo in a prime location?

In September, I spent a week in Muskoka (cottage country, for those not in the know). It was breathtakingly beautiful and so peaceful. (Internet access was sporadic and Starbucks is at least 1.5hrs hours away, but that’s another story.) There were lots of really nice homes in the area and I wanted to see how much they cost. To my shock, a mansion can be had for $300K. A mansion! It opened up lots of possibilities – until that moment I never though of living anywhere other than in a city. I started picturing that kind of lifestyle… and it made me very sad. I couldn’t stand the thought of living out in the woods. I like running away there sometimes. But  I want the energy of the city around me, even though most of the time I whine about the noise, smell, annoying people, and frankly, I don’t even take advantage of all that the city has to offer.

And so I remain, in this dissatisfied state, living in a regular-sized condo downtown.

Below is a snapshot of life in Brazil.



When I hear the phrase “real estate community”, I think of “The Glades” episode about a nudist colony. Also, my friend in Florida comes to mind. He took advantage of the real estate bust and got a mansion in a gated community for a song. 5 bedrooms for under $150K or something. He’s got an active business, wife 12 years his junior and three teenage daughters. Clearly, it’s not for retirement only.

Google didn’t give much on this topic maybe because the terms are pretty generic, but this seems to be a uniquely American phenomenon. Lots of Canadians buy vacation homes in communities in the US, and I can see how secluded surroundings and privacy can be appealing. In fact, some of America’s most desirable real estate resides within gated or secluded communities, with a unique life of their own. MSN.com lists a few of the exclusive real estate communities in the US. For example, Beverley Park in Los Angeles properties regularly sell for $30+ million. The value in these resorts comes from the association with the community, celebrity residents, and the seclusion that comes from being part of an insulated community

While these exclusive communities are profiled in the media, most real estate resorts are much more accessible to the average buyer. Communities often have their own facilities and amenities which can add value when the time comes to sell the property. While my friend got a great deal, his house was still selling for about 25% more than comparable ones outside the resort. Clearly, community real estate prices are more resilient in times of crisis.

Some real estate communities are themed resorts, based around leisure facilities like golf clubs and fishing lakes. These properties are often more than just quality homes, they offer residents the chance to live in idyllic surroundings, with more convenient access to leisure pursuits – the perfect edge should you ever come to sell your real estate community home. It’s like living at the cottage full time, while still being in the city.

Other communities are based around a particular location or lifestyle, without necessarily having such a strong connection. Gated communities, for example, can provide a degree of isolation and security. While community real estate tends to be somewhat more expensive, prices account for the additional benefits that come with living and owning real estate in an exclusive residential community.

DMB Real Estate, who specialize in residential and community real estate, suggest that buyers prefer the seclusion and exclusivity of resort-based real estate, while enjoying the practical advantages this can bring.

Being close to a golf course or living in the midst of scenic countryside has its distinct advantages. Resort properties often appeal to those that are in pursuit of their favorite leisure activities, or those that are looking for a vacation home. But for a peaceful, secluded place to live, these residential communities tend to be amongst some of the most prized real estate in the country.

It’s not just those that are looking to buy a home for themselves that choose to research real estate communities further. In an uncertain housing market, resort real estate is proving a persistently popular choice for real estate investment. For those investing for both residential and vacation purposes, communities can provide a ready-made appeal for their property when it comes to selling on.

I just spent a good hour looking at these properties, and am in a bit of a shock… Here’s a random example. Depending on the finish options and floorplan, prices for these real estate community homes range from $310,000 to $370,000. That’s less than you’d pay for a tiny 2-bedroom condo in Toronto!!! Yes, this is not LA. It’s Mesa, Arizona, but it’s not that small, with a population of 450,000. Not really a small town. Wow. What the hell am I doing here?

Click pictures to enlarge




NEW YORK – Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, whose legacy has been tarnished by the global financial crisis, on Thursday laid out a scholarly defence of why Fed policy did not fuel the housing bubble.

He did offer somewhat of a mea culpa, though, noting that the regulatory system failed by not demanding financial firms hold much larger capital buffers. Mr. Greenspan, who led the U.S. central bank from 1987 to 2006, has been criticized by some analysts who argue he kept short-term, benchmark interest rates too low for too long in the early 2000s.

The former Fed chief defended the central bank’s actions, saying that the seeds of the housing boom were sown by geopolitical events that were out of the Fed’s control, an argument he has presented a number of times in the past.

The fall of the Soviet Union led to hundreds of millions of workers entering the global marketplace, he said in a paper to be presented to a Brookings Institution conference. This new market-based workforce, Mr. Greenspan said, helped push up growth in the developing world. This in turn fuelled a global savings glut that drove down long-term interest rates, leading to an “unsustainable boom” in house prices, he said.

Source: Financial Post