Canadian real estate market to remain strong in 2014, access to transit a crucial consideration for developers

Rental apartments and retail developments seen as attractive choices for investors

TORONTO — The Canadian real estate market will maintain its strength next year, according to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, released by PwC and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) today.

The report notes that while the outlook for development of all property types is good, continuing urbanization and reverse migration trends are expected to be especially important considerations for developers and investors. In particular, live/work/play development offerings along or near mass transit lines will be essential.

With challenging infrastructure in all major Canadian centres coupled with the urbanization trend, there will be a continued demand for retail, office and residential space in our urban centres where there is easy access to mass transit,” Lori-Ann Beausoleil, Partner and National Real Estate Leader at PwC. “Competition for these sites and uses will continue to place pressure on developers to reformat their product offerings to optimize space as these locations become scarce.”

Rental market not derailed by condos
The report also states that condominium developments in major urban centres have not hindered the market for rental apartments—in fact, rental apartments are considered a very attractive investment in Canada’s largest cities, particularly as condominiums are often purchased and then rented out at premium rates. Tighter mortgage rules – which have made buying a home more difficult – together with continued immigration and lifestyle-choice renters, could significantly improve the economic landscape for purpose-built rental apartments in Canada’s major centres.

“Condo development is still a popular real estate investment, as it serves a different segment of the market than most existing rental apartments, and as such the two can work in tandem,” says Mark Noskiewicz, ULI Toronto Chair. “As home prices in the major cities stay high, renting is a reality for many Canadians and real estate investors are happy to capitalize on this need. However, the report confirms that common to any accommodation segment is the importance of integrated land use development and planning, and that higher valuation is supported by desirable livability indices such as connectivity, amenity and mobility.”

Strong economy part of real estate success
Canada’s economic strength has played a significant role in keeping real estate prospects strong, according to the report. Canada’s resilient performance in the wake of the 2008 recession has made it an appealing place for investors to develop and in turn, Canadian investors are also able to be active in the US and overseas markets. Perhaps most telling is the fact that Canadians are now the United States’ largest non-domestic real estate investors, with $10.7 billion invested into US properties over the past 12 months.

And, building on Canada’s prosperity, American and European retailers – including Nordstrom, Zara Home, Marshall's, Tanger Outlets, Bloomingdale's and J Crew-- recognize the strength of the Canadian consumer as the trend to find Canadian locations for their stores continues.

“The forecasts show that Canadian real estate players are able to both invest and attract investors. With the US economy on the upswing, we are likely to see even more activity between the two countries, says Beausoleil. “Over the last several years, Canada has been the interesting real estate story while the US markets were in distress, but now, we expect that the continuing US recovery will be the real story. Still, Canada’s strong market and the spending power of our consumers will continue to position us well in the international community as we head into 2014.”

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Developments will remain well funded, as capital is expected to remain available for high quality projects that meet more stringent lender requirements. The best projects managed by the best borrowers will be funded, leaving those that do not meet these criteria to seek alternative capital sources that typically have higher costs.
  • As cap rates stabilize or move slightly higher, cost and energy optimization programs will help to maintain assets and increase yield opportunities. Programs that build on the profile, attractiveness and cash flow of assets will likely offset the erosion of rising cap rates on property yields.
  • Calgary ranks number one among major Canadian cities to watch for the second year in a row, followed by Edmonton, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Halifax and Montreal.

About PwC Canada
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About the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and ULI Toronto
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a non-profit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. The Urban Land Institute is an active and growing organization in Canada. With over 1000 members across the country, Canada's first ULI District Council ULI Toronto (toronto.uli.org) was established in 2005, with a second District Council in British Columbia and another one being created in Calgary .ULI Toronto has over 650 members.