Shortage of ground housing challenging realtors

by Jordan Maxwell10 Jun 2015
A new Ryerson study has identified how few municipalities in the GTA are living up to their obligation to keep three years’ worth of serviced land for new home construction at the ready.

That’s stymieing agents who are looking to satisfy client demand for low-rise housing at the same time it threatens to oversupply the market with high-rise condos.

Still, it may be unavoidable in Toronto, argued one industry veteran.

“It’s the largest city in the GTA and it’s one of the largest regions of activity in the country so what do you expect?” David Fleming, agent with Bosley Real Estate, told REP.

“You can’t be surprised by the lack of supply because we never really had it to begin with and there’s no land to build on so condo towers make sense.”

According to the study from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, provincial policy dictates that a range of housing must be provided and the proliferation of high-rise condo developments in Toronto have sent ground housing projects to the bottom of the pile.

The effects have resulted in higher prices due to the shortage of low-rise houses across several regions in the GTA, according to a study, which has created both pros and cons for agents.

“The problem of affordability has spilled over to residents in higher income levels and to those in homeownership,” the report reads.

“Higher land costs and restrictive government regulations that have stretched out development project time lines to as much as seven years have made it increasingly difficult to supply housing at an affordable cost across the GTA.”

The report also highlighted the need for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to immediately start compiling an inventory of serviced land on a region-by-region basis by housing type. He also believes that short-term serviced land must be sped up to meet demand.

Earlier this week, the CMHC released a housing starts report, which showed starts at their highest levels in over two years.

“Housing starts trended at their highest level in over two years in May," said Dana Senagama, CMHC’s principal of market analysis for the GTA.

"Building activity was strongest in the 905 areas, with condominium apartment starts leading the way. High cost of land and scarcity of serviceable lots appeared to induce more high density construction into the suburbs.”

The supply of new ground-related housing in the GTA has actually fallen by half since the early 2000s, from about 30,000 units in 2001-2003 to about 15,000 units in 2013-2014.


  • by EddieN 6/10/2015 2:47:44 PM

    Municipalities would rather have high rise condos with increased density thus taking in more tax dollar and development charges. But government is not the only one to blame. The new generation of property buyers do NOT want to live in the far reaches of 905 and spend their lives in traffic. They want to socialize locally, walk, bike, bus, etc and be close to work. They are happy to live in 600 sq ft or less. That's good thing. No more destruction of perfectly good farmland. No more stupid urban sprawl with 3 hr traffic jams on a sunday. No more ugly bog box stores with massive parking lots. People are finally waking up to a better alternative to the american way of life.

  • by jeff 6/10/2015 7:28:36 PM

    Maybe in the large metro centers that comment is valid, but the smaller towns and cities that have their own sustainable economy and job market, hmmm maybe not so much IE try MB, Sk, Ab. lots of places outside of the GTA

    the litmus test is to ask the buyers where is the tipping point with the 5 day a week commute that will drive you to a 600 -900 ft condo in a highrise in the down town core rather than the burbs. is it 1/2 hr commute, is it 3/4 or maybe an hour commute that you will tolerate in order to enjoy a 1200 to 1800 single family with yard for the kids to play, playgrounds and schools nearby, and a front porch to watch the crazy neighbours.

    unless your at the height of rush hour on the deerfoot, even Calgary provides easy access to work from the burbs in under an hour. regina Saskatoon 1/2 hour, where I am 10 minutes.

    if municipalites ( city councils) every decide to limit suburban growth (where there is room for urban growth) because of the negative attitudes to suburban sprawl I suspect the buyers developers and builders will speak with their wallets and move to greener pastures where they can raise their kids, rather than in the concrete jungle.

    I suspect there is lots of job supported economies around the GTA where people still want to live in the burbs and still have a short drive to work. even at our worst here in Canada we are not New Dehli or hong kong, we have room for all types of communites. to concentrate on one over another is not good my opinion.

    I suspect

  • by Bill 6/11/2015 4:26:38 PM

    Jeff - Great thoughts. There are still plenty of communities where the majority want to live in single family homes as opposed to the higher density areas.

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