Canada’s Top Ten Housing Trends In 2013

Toronto Real Estate News
green wall
It's alive! by andrewarchy

Green, luxurious, entertaining, all-in-one, striking, and hi-tech: we think we've seen it all. But have we? The real estate market has been through some tough times, but nothing boosts creativity more than misfortune. The forecast suggests that we're on the cutting edge of some dazzling innovations that are meant to last. What should you look for, and what can you expect? We rounded up a list of ten market trends that will not fade with time.

Alternative Financing

Purchasing a home without your own down payment is often risky. Young people and couples use alternative down payments more often than most. The Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals finds that more than one in four renters have less than $5,000 saved for a down payment. Still, people are dead set on owning a home and thus use of the alternative financing options described below.

Borrowing from other credit sources

Generally, when buying a home you need to shell out at least 5 per cent of the price as a down payment. While you're prohibited from borrowing that 5 per cent from your mortgage lender (if that lender is a bank or federal trust company) you're free to borrow your down payment from a personal loan or credit card. This is tricky, unless you're creditworthy and able to pay 20 per cent interest.

Borrowing a down payment from less suitable sources is a potential issue. Oftentimes, with new mortgage regulations there can be unintended consequences that are worse than the problem they’re purported to solve, and this may be one of them.

acknowledges Gord McCallum, broker and president of First Foundation Inc.

Cash-back down payment mortgage

In many provinces, non–federally regulated lenders can still offer cash-back down payment mortgages. It comes as no surprise that the interest rate on cash-back mortgages is well above a normal mortgage. The main downside of a cash-back mortgage is that you have a very flat equity cushion if home prices fall and you want to sell. Also, if you decide to break the mortgage early, your lender can take back all of the cash he gave you. These mortgages might be eliminated by either mortgage insurers or provincial regulators. For now, however, a handful of credit unions still offer them to people with strong credit, and the Ontario-based Meridian Credit Union is the biggest of these lenders.

calc types
Out-of-the-Box Financing by Cellular Immunity

Special lender and government programs

People with low or moderate income can get money for their down payment from down payment assistance grants provided by provinces and municipalities. Despite these borrowers being higher-risk, in some cases, these programs permit buyers to buy a home with nothing down. According to Service Canada portal, Home Buyers' Plan for example, allows eligible individuals to make tax-free withdrawals from their retirement savings plans. This capital may then be used for either purchasing or building qualified housing.


Distressed-housing auctions became popular six years ago, after the foreclosure crisis. In the last few years, a new trend has emerged: selling and buying high-end, non-distressed properties in luxury property auctions.

Buying a home in an auction offers several advantages for the seller:

  • Property is sold within 90 days for the highest market price
  • Price can exceed the price of a traditionally negotiated sale
  • Auctions generate competition and bring qualified buyers together
  • Auctions significantly reduce sellers' expenses such as carrying costs and price reductions

There are several exclusive benefits for the buyers as well:

  • Bidders set their own price
  • They compete fairly and openly
  • They avoid long negotiation process
  • Buyers know that the seller is committed to sell
  • Buyers can review the property’s Due Diligence Package before the auction

Real estate investors

The Perry Kitchen
  In-built Wine Storage in The Perry
  Photography by Peter A. Sellar -

Nearly a third of the buyer pool is comprised of real estate investors. They buy distressed homes, fix them, renovate what's necessary, and rent them out for a monthly profit. Companies such as Professional Real Estate Investors Group (PREIG) Canada unite investors and advance knowledge and professional skills to its members. The group buys properties and secures vetted renters. Then they sell the rented-out property to individual investors or they stay on to manage the property for a monthly fee.

Sky-high homes

  Toronto Skyscrapers
  Photography by Peter A. Sellar -

High-rise building development in Toronto is outpacing every other city in the Western Hemisphere, with 15 skyscrapers exceeding roughly 45 storeys now under construction, according to a new study titled “Canada Rising” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). In the report, CTBUH points to the fast-paced push upwards in the last decade and credits Toronto with “spearheading a countrywide interest in tall building development.” A shift from high-rise office towers towards homes in the clouds is transforming the look and feel of Canada’s cities.

Boutique features

Modern homes often become showrooms and designer spaces where people love to display their wealth, eye for design, or good taste. Kitchens and bathrooms have been receiving a lot of attention in recent years. It's not uncommon to see integrated wine cellars or intelligent gadgets such as food processors or mixers. Bathrooms became luxurious home spas with steam rooms and whirlpools, and compared to a bathroom from 50 years ago, the resemblance is very hard to find. While kitchens and bathrooms were getting much of the attention, bedrooms and closets slowly started to climb up there too. Do you remember the amazing closet Mr. Big had built for Carrie in the Sex and the City movie? That kind of closet is the most sough-after right now.

Not just closets, our clients want decked-out closets. It’s now a special space that we have to fully detail just like a kitchen,

says Kevin Harris, a high-end home builder in the Gulf Coast region and fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

They have become showrooms for all of your clothes.

  A Boutique or just a closet?
  Photography by Peter A. Sellar -

Smart homes

Smart homes have been around for a while. Home technology used to be very complicated and usually required another remote control and a whole new system to get used to. However, the newest systems use Apple products like iPhones and iPads to automate living spaces more effectively. According to homebuilders, smart home technology is very sought-after and becoming a commonly requested amenity.

The global industry is projected to surge to $35.6 million by 2016 from $16.9 million in 2011, according to Markets and Markets. Home automation offers many advantages, and it gives you control over your audio and video devices, alarm clocks, heating and cooling systems and thermostat as well as over home security system. The ability to control your thermostat from your device can save you around $600 a year. Heating or cooling can be switched off while you're at work or on vacation. Home security is another big issue, and being able to control your house while you're away saves many sleepless nights.

Go green

Water Garden
Water Garden by Jeremy Levine

Rising energy prices and alarming climate conditions have made people think more green. Energy-efficient appliances and windows are the most common green home features, followed by heating and cooling systems powered by alternative energy sources such as geothermal, solar, and wind. Changes in construction and the overall appearance of homes is changing as well — particularly in the luxury end of the market.

Hotel living

When it comes to extras and new features, builders are getting unbelievably creative. You can see more and more new luxury apartments located in the same building as five-star hotels. Trump Tower in Toronto offers 118 exclusive luxury residential condos with access to the world’s finest five-star amenities such as room service, spa service, fitness, and housekeeping.

Toronto four seasons
Lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto
Photography by Peter A. Sellar -

Real estate went social

Facebook might be the first and most commonly used social network, but other tech enthusiasts didn't let the opportunity slip by and created many networks and websites centred on housing. Houzz allows its users to create virtual mood boards and idea books, explore different interior and exterior styles, and find contractors from their area. Each month, more than 10 million people visit the site.

Online real estate search sites have become immensely popular, propelling sites like and Suddenly, the house hunt became easier and more organized. You can visit these sites on your computer or download them as smartphone apps.

Pet amenities

bath time
Bath Time by newplasticmachine

Pets are seen as family members, and they receive world-class care and pampering in many cases. Housing developers see pets as a great opportunity and have started stocking their high-end apartment buildings with unbelievable pet-friendly features. Nearly 50 per cent of condo buildings offer a pet spa and a private green area where you can walk your dog if you're tired to the park. Many condos include separate dog entrances, where dogs can be cleaned up after they come back from outside. Play dates, pet parties, and pet food room service are the sprinkles on top.

One thought on “Canada’s Top Ten Housing Trends In 2013

January 21, 2014 at 1:39 am
Eli Chi says:

Canada is probably the most wonderful country in the world and frequently approaches the top of the UN total well being platforms. Aside from that, Canada is a major location for immigrants. All of these extremely skilled and qualified people need accommodation when they land, thus the requirement for high quality housing is high and likely to stay so well into the long run. Nice blog, thanks for sharing.

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