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Category: News & Updates
The James Deen Saga – Part 1

Some Horrifying Accounts of Assault and Rape

James Deen is in a lot of trouble. In fact, he’s probably fucked, and not in the good way he’s used to.

James Deen, widely considered one of the best, if not the best male performer in the adult film industry, has gotten himself in a ton of hot water lately. Deen, whose real name is Bryan Sevilla, has been a porn performer since 2004, and though he’s appeared in a variety of porn, he’s best known for “rough,” bondage and S&M (sadomasochism) scenes. The “Ryan Gosling” of porn, who some people have called a feminist, is suddenly being bombarded with allegations from several colleagues in the porn industry of assault and rape. And it all began with a tweet.

On 28 November, world-renowned porn actress Stoya (@stoya), who was also Deen’s steady girlfriend for some time, tweeted:

“That thing where you log in to the internet for a second and see people idolizing the guy who raped you as a feminist. That thing sucks.”

“James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”

In the days following Stoya’s statements, eight other women in the porn industry have also gone public, including Tori Lux, Ashley Fires, Amber Rayne, Kora Peters, Nicki Blue, Lily LaBeau, and a woman writing as T.M., all of whom claim Deen had assaulted them by refusing to abide by the limits set out by them prior to working with him. Those who have come out publicly to tell their stories have some pretty horrific accounts to share.

1. Nicki Blue

Actress Nicki Blue, 27, told the Daily Mail that Deen assaulted her in 2011 by raping her with a beer bottle and urinating in her mouth during an off-camera attack at a wrap party, following a scene the two had done together at the Kink Castle, the headquarters of the massively popular porn company Kink.com.

“​It got more extreme and there was music playing so it was hard to hear. I started giving him [oral sex]. It was nice at first, then it got really rough. I kept trying to pull my head up to say something, it was too rough. But he would just push my head back in so I was choking and I couldn’t say anything. As he was doing it – this is the embarrassing part and why I didn’t say anything – he said, ‘Oh my God, I have to go to the bathroom’ and he pissed in my mouth. That was it, I spit it up, I was upset. Then after that, he had the idea of putting the beer bottle up my ass. So that was done.”

2. Lily Lebeau

Lily LeBeau offers up two accounts of incidents that occurred on set with Deen in Vocativ, corroborated by the only male performer to speak to the Deen allegations, actor/director Derrick Pierce.

The first incident occurred when trying to film a “couples-friendly” scene—a genre that typically features more romantic or “vanilla” scenarios meant for couples to watch together—and only mildly kinky. As is standard practice in the porn industry, LeBeau and the director of the film (Pierce), clearly outlined the limitations and expectations for the shoot, to which Deen had to be repeatedly reminded.

“The first thing he does is he walks over, I’m tied up, and he spits in my eye. It just went from zero to sixty, just degrading,…To just start a scene by spitting in someone’s eye, especially for a more vanilla company, he knows they can’t use that.”

In the second incident involving Deen, LeBeau claims that he hit her in the face so hard her jaw locked, calling it “the most traumatic thing that’s happened to me in my career.” LaBeau was performing in a scene for Kink.com’s Upper Floor, a live-streaming BDSM group sex series. LaBeau was the star of the scene, being “initiated” as a sex slave, along with several other female and male performers who were involved in the shoot. According to LaBeau and Pierce (who was also performing), Deen was not scheduled to perform in the scene, but began to participate anyway. At one point in the scene, Deen grabbed a cattle prod, a shocking device that is sometimes used in kink, and held it near her head, which was in direct violation of LaBeau’s “no” list (a list of limitations and boundaries outlined prior to filming) and that Deen was well aware of it.

“The cattle prod makes me go into complete panic,” she said. “When you pull it out, I’m done, I’m scared, I’m crying, I can’t think.”

Despite pleading with Deen that she does not like electricity, she ultimately relented, allowing Deen to use a smaller electrical device on her tongue and breasts. Later, according to LaBeau, Deen, who is known for being somewhat of a “smart ass,” grabbed the list detailing what she was and was not willing to do and began systematically performing these acts. One activity on the list was “foot worship,” which prompted Deen to forcefully put his foot in her mouth. While his foot was in her mouth, LeBeau recalls:

“I just remember him taking his hand really far back and then just hitting me hard. Hard. Like, too hard. I heard and felt an almost crack in my ear, from my ear down to my chin. I couldn’t close my mouth.”  It wasn’t the fact of face-slapping that was at issue—in fact she was slapped on her face again later in the scene—but rather the intensity of it.

3. Tori Lux

Adult actress Tori Lux wrote an essay for The Daily Beast  saying Deen sexually assaulted her on a “major porn set” in 2011. Lux said Deen approached her and asked her to “sniff his testicles.” When she said no, he allegedly pinned her down and hit her in the face multiple times before forcing her face into his groin. Lux noted that other people were around but did nothing to stop Deen.

He proceeded to straddle my chest, pinning down my arms with his knees. Then, he raised his hand high above his head, swinging it down and hitting me in the face and head with an open palm. He did this five or six times—hard—before finally getting off of me. Disoriented and nursing a sore jaw, I stood up—but before I could collect myself, he grabbed me by my hair and shoved me to my knees, forcing my face into his crotch several times before shoving me to the floor. I was completely stunned, having no idea how to react.

In the aftermath of these, and the other allegations that have come out in the past two weeks, Deen’s career is crumbling. Porn companies like Kink.com have severed ties, and the website The Frisky killed his column for ever. A sex toy in his likeness was also pulled from production.

What Was “Mobilegeddon,” and How Has Mobile Searched Changed Since?

What was “Mobilegeddon?”

Early in 2015, Google made two major announcements regarding changes being made to their search engine. These changes were being implemented in recognition of the growing trend towards mobile device usage for browser searches as discussed earlier. The primary concern that came out of this announcement was that proprietors of websites not optimized for mobile search would be subjected to significant declines in traffic. The date Google chose to execute these changes was April 21, 2015, a date which was quickly dubbed in the media and blogosphere as “mobilegeddon.”

  1. Google Introduces a “Mobile-Friendly” Labelling System

On November 18, 2014, Google announced that it was introducing a “mobile-friendly” label to search results conducted on mobile devices. The goal of the new label is to be a “first step” towards creating a better overall user experience on mobile phones and small screen devices.

Google determines if a page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

You can test whether your site meets Google’s criteria by using their analysis tool, visiting the following link.

  1. Mobile-Friendliness Gets Introduced into Google’s Search Ranking Algorithm

“When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.”

On February 26, 2015, Google announced that the “mobile-friendly update” to their search engine’s algorithm will boost the rankings of “mobile-friendly pages,” defined as “pages that are legible and usable on mobile devices<’ and that “conversely, pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.” Google made a point of noting that this will be a “Page-level change”: If ten of your site’s pages are mobile-friendly, but the rest of your pages aren’t, only the ten mobile-friendly pages can be positively impacted.

What is Considered Mobile Friendly? 

Google recognizes three different configurations as “mobile friendly.” You can move your content to any of the following set-ups and be covered under the new algorithm change:

  1. Responsive Design

Responsive design is Google’s #1 recommended design pattern. The reason responsive design is so desirable is that it doesn’t create two copies of the same site. Viewers only have one URL to go to and the website will adapt as they move from phone to tablet to desktop and beyond.

  1. Dynamic Serving

Like responsive design, a dynamic serving approach keeps the same URL — but this time, the HTML actually changes. Dynamic serving uses user-agents to identify what kind of device the viewer is using and then dynamically serves up the appropriate view.

  1. Mobile Website

Creating a separate mobile website was one of the earliest versions of mobile optimization, and it still works for Google’s requirements. Upon a new user arriving, this configuration tries to detect the users’ device, then redirects to the appropriate website using redirects.

Google definitively states that mobile-friendliness is assessed the same, regardless of whether you use responsive web design (RWD), separate mobile URLs (m.example.com), or dynamic serving for your configuration.

The SURE HOUSE debuts at the Solar Decathlon

Every two years, the U.S. Department of Energy holds its “Solar Decathlon” competition, which took place this year on October 8-18 at the Orange Country Great Park in Irvine, California. Michael A. Moodian of The Huffington Post, argues that the contest is an absolute necessity, quoting reports written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which states that drastic and urgent action is needed to implement energy efficiency and clean technology solutions in order to stave off major catastrophic climate change.

The official website run by the U.S. Department of Energy, states that the contest, “challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.” Most teams that submit an entry are backed by a major U.S. or Canadian post secondary institution, and students normally spend up to two years designing and constructing their entry homes. The University of Toronto has a team that submits an entry to the Solar Decathlon. The team from U of T is not made up exclusively of engineers, putting forth an initiative to make the team as diverse as possible, a collaborative effort among a variety of disciplines.

Every team’s entry is judged based on 5 broad criteria:

  • Affordability
  • Consumer Appeal
  • Design Excellence
  • Optimal Energy Production
  • Maximum Energy Efficiency

The winning team must earn the highest number of points from 10 juried contests: Architecture, Comfort Zone, Market Appeal, Appliances, Engineering, Home Life, Communications, Commuting, Affordability, and Energy Balance. What this translates into is a house that Is affordable, attractive, and easy to live in. One that maintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions, and is able to supply enough energy to support activities including cooking, cleaning, water heating, entertainment, and commuting. Finally, and most importantly, the house should consume only as much energy as it produces, a zero net result for energy consumption.

And this year’s winning team, hailing from the Stevens Institute of Technology, draws inspiration from Hurricane Sandy, unveiling a sustainable coastal home called the “SURE HOUSE” that, according to Gizmag, “opens up for entertaining in summertime but locks down to resist severe weather damage in the winter.” Short for “SUstainable and REsilient, the Stevens teams wanted to build a house that could stand up to extreme weather along the coast of the Jersey Shore.

“Beachfront living is all about enjoying summer weather, so the SURE HOUSE opens right up when the weather’s nice, doubling its floor space with several outdoor living areas. But when the weather turns sour, the beachside shades fold down to become storm shutters capable of resisting intense weather events.”

The SURE HOUSE consumes 90% less energy than a regular home, which it achieves by using highly efficient appliances like a Daikin Skyair zoned heat pump for heating, cooling and dehumidifaction, as well as solar electric hot water and a Zehnder Novus energy recovery ventilation system that recovers heat from the building exhaust and preconditions incoming fresh air. The rooftop solar panels can produce 10,000 watts of power, and is connected to the main power grid. In the event of a power shutdown, the transformer switches over to produce 3,000 watts of emergency power, completely off the grid.

Common Problems with Windows 10, and How to Fix Them

The website development community in Toronto was subject to a major adjustment to their work environment recently. Sometime last week, Microsoft began pushing out its Windows 10 update to Canadians who had reserved their upgrade beforehand, and at this point, it’s probably safe to assume that most of us are working with the new operating system.

There is a cohort of website and software developers who insist on waiting a substantial amount of time before upgrading their computers, expressing concern over the fact that most major software packages are usually riddled with bugs, incompatibilities, and other issues that can interfere with a person’s workflow and efficiency. These concerns are quite valid, evidenced by the number of different complaints and issues Windows 10 users have been sharing online. I’ve outlined a few of the major issues in the remainder of this blog. Thankfully, some of these issues have already been corrected by Microsoft with updates and patches. Others have very simple workarounds and fixes.

Gordon Kelly, a contributor to Forbes Magazine, discusses some of the first highly publicized “scandal” associated with Windows 10’s first major updates. Nine days after the operating system was officially released, Windows Update sent out an unstable graphics driver which switched off many users monitors, in addition to a security patch which corrupted Windows Explorer. A third update, a patch labelled KB3081424, was particularly troubling because it rendered some users devices completely useless. Installing this patch and updating your system would trigger the message: “We couldn’t complete the updates, undoing the changes.” Selecting Undo would result in a mandatory system reboot, but as soon as the user logged back on, the update process would begin again.

Microsoft has reportedly corrected the issue with a more recent path. But for those who have not received that update as of yet, and are suffering through an endless loop of reboots, here’s a hack that Kelly provides:

  • Type “regedit” in the Start menu
  • In the window that opens navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList
  • Backup your registry key as what you’re about to do is risky (with ProfileList highlighted, click File and Export and choose a backup name)
  • Then scan through the ProfileList IDs and delete any with ProfileImagePath found in it as it shouldn’t be there
  • Close regedit, reboot and next time KB3081424 should install properly

Tyler Lacoma of Digital Trends, wrote an article outlining solutions to solve the 17 most common problems associated with Microsoft’s new browser, Edge. The browser received a lot of hype by beta testers prior to launch, many saying that Edge was a significant step up from its predecessor Internet Explorer in both speed and performance. Users have been scrutinizing the new browser considerably, but with good reason, as some have experienced frustrating issues surrounding its functionality. Lacoma offers up a solution for why some users are reporting that Edge runs slowly and has trouble loading:

“Try clicking “. . .” for more options, and choosing a new InPrivate browsing window. If this solves your problem, there could be trackers or other issues with a normal page.

Try clearing out Edge data out by clicking on “. . .” and choosing Settings. Then click “choose what to clear” under Clear browser data. Delete your browsing history and cached files. Restart Edge and see if it works successfully.”

Some users have also reported that many popular webpages “have a problem” and won’t load, with some even reporting that an additional message would pop up asking the user to try using Internet Explorer instead. Here is the solution Lacoma provides.

“If every website that you visit is displaying an error message but you still have a working Internet connection, then something is wrong with Edge. Try clearing the pipes out by clicking on “. . .” and choosing Settings. Then click “choose what to clear” under Clear browser data. Select options to clean out your browsing history and cached files. Restart Edge and see if it works successfully.”

Despite the numerous bug reports and complaints issued by early adopters online, have not deterred people from downloading the operating system in droves. Microsoft published on its own Windows blog forum that within the first 24 hours the upgrade was available, 14 million devices were running Windows 10.  Dan Thorp-lancaster of Windows Central, discusses a report from WinBeta, citing anonymous sources, which claims that Windows 10 installs now number more than 50 million roughly two weeks after launch. Which are impressive numbers, despite being a little inflated. “Installs” include those users that have updated their existing operating system, as well as those that have recently purchased a computer with Windows 10 built in.

The “Places to Grow” Mandate and the Condo Market in Toronto

About a decade ago, the Ontario government launched an initiative that has since had an incredible impact on the real estate industry in Toronto and across the province, called Places to Grow. According to the official government website dedicated to this strategy, the idea behind it is to support development that promotes “economic prosperity, protects the environment and helps communities achieve a high quality of life across the province.”

The goal is to protect agricultural lands in the province (and GTA in particular) from encroaching urban sprawl, effectively creating a “Green Belt,” limiting where new subdivisions could be built.

The execution of this program the past few years has resembled region-specific plans that are meant to guide policy decisions within that region. Toronto, for example, has adopted a strategy that involves “growing up, not out,” spurring the unprecedented growth of condominiums in the GTA, particularly high-end, luxury condominiums.

According to Judy Hazan of the Epoch Times, back in the year 2000, Toronto’s luxury condominium market was practically non-existent. Hazan spoke to three upper level executives at Baker Real Estate based in Toronto, and they argue that One Post Road on Toronto’s Bridal Path changed everything. President and CEO of Baker Real Estate, Barbara Lawlor, had this to say:

“One Post Road was a leader in luxury living—there was so little luxury in our city—One Post road really captured the imagination. It was the beginning of the luxury market in Toronto. Today, we have five 5-star hotels with residences atop and we have other really glorious buildings like One Bloor and The Ritz Carlton, so the luxury market has really grown.”

The “grow up, not out” philosophy behind Toronto’s regional growth plan has resulted, in general, in the development of far more condo towers, which ultimately translates into less and less space for low-rise homes, which is undoubtedly a factor in the escalating prices of such homes in the city. Despite the growth in the high-end condo market, the relative price difference between a condo and a detached/semi-detached home make condos the more affordable option for first-time buyers. In today’s economy and real estate market, it has become exceedingly difficult for first-time home purchases to be houses; condos are now the starter property of choice for those who want to buy instead of rent.

According to Ryan Starr of The Toronto Star, the impact Places to Grow has had on lowrise development, has been substantial, but seldom talked about. The creation of a Green Belt has led to astronomical increases in the price of land that is left behind for lowrise development to occur, which leads to higher home prices. What some real estate development companies are doing, as opposed to building on expensive land, are moving even further out, beyond the Green Belt, in an attempt to lure would-be homebuyers out of the city where prices are far more affordable, into areas such as Brantford, for example.

The “Tinder-ification” of Real Estate Mobile Apps

Tinder is a widely popular “dating” application (I use the term dating loosely, because as most would argue, the app is intended for people to “hook up” with strangers). It’s gotten plenty of buzz online for its introduction into the dating scene, but it has also garnered attention from software and tech enthusiasts for its interesting and unique feature set, as well as user experience. The “swipe right to like, swipe left to dislike” gestures that are the foundation of the app’s UI, is finding its way into all sorts of different applications, including real estate.

One of the arguments to support the use of such a gesture format for real estate applications (those optimized for web and mobile that allow users to easily search home listings), is that they target the perfect age demographic. Tinder’s primary audience, according to some, is the 24+ crowd, with the average age of first-time homebuyers, being early 30s.

by Leigh Kamping-Carder of Brick Underground, reported back in mid-2014, about two apps named Skylight and Doorsteps Swipe, that were attempting to apply the Tinder formula to the search for apartments in New York City. This is arguably the first application of Tinder’s unique gesture interface to some aspect of the real estate industry. Both these apps were free to use, but Doorsteps made money from subscriptions to brokers and lenders, while Skylight charged agents.

In the opinion of Kamping-Carder, the Tinder approach is “not just a marketing gimmick,” arguing that:

“…the swiping accomplishes two actions with one movement (saving or discarding what’s on your screen while simultaneously flipping to the next screen) and presents a lot of information in an easy-to-digest format.”

Such a format is said to be optimal for mobile-searching in particular, being able to take advantage of small screen spaces and touchscreen controls.

Since the introduction of these two apps, a competitor has emerged called HomeSwipe that is poised to eat up a lot of that market.

The latest offering, Estately, attempts to solve what they claim is a frequent annoyance that occurs while searching for homes online: often, the exact same houses appear in your daily searches, which gets in the way of you finding your dream home through all the clutter of all the homes you’ve decided against.

According to Frederic Lardinois of TechCrunch, by using the same, now infamous, Tinder-style swipe gestures, users can quickly filter and categorize homes that they are interested in, disregarding the rest.

This, in itself, is not a new feature as well, with large listings websites like Zillow and Redfin that also give you the option hide homes from your searches. But Estately has given the feature a clever name, Flip, and hopes it will entice users towards using their platform.

And it’s already been announced that Estately has an international rival. Austrian real estate startup Zoomsquare is offering essentially the same app experience, but for properties in Europe. The app will also incorporate neighbourhood information including public transport, the most important facts about properties, and real-time push notifications for new matches from more than 80 Austrian property websites.

The Real Estate Business Behind Selling Medical Marijuana in the U.S.

Ever since Colorado and the state of Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana back in January, 2013, American venture capitalists have been slowly investing money into the development of a “weed infrastructure.” An entire industry is being funded to facilitate the production, distribution and sale of recreational and medicinal marijuana to the masses. There appears to be some faith in the idea that the government controlled system implemented in Colorado, will inevitably spread nationally, creating a market for domestically grown marijuana that will amount to billions in revenue. Alice Zhang draws information from the Marijuana Business Factbook (purchase at Amazon) to suggest that that retail marijuana industry could reach sales of more than $8 billion by 2018, outpacing that of smartphones.

One of the more high profile investments that made it in the news recently involves Silicon Valley VC Peter Thiel (famous for his investment in PayPal with Elon Musk) and his venture firm, Founders Fund. A $75 million round was raised for Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity company that owns two marijuana companies and a website focused on marijuana production. One of these companies is Marley Natural, a global pot brand launched by Bob Marley’s family, projected to launch in late 2015. According to their website, the firm…

“…uses strategic investments in the cannabis industry to acquire and create mainstream brands, professionalizing the cannabis business landscape through the power of private enterprise.”

A Chicago-based startup called Herbfront, one of five in the second class at the ElmSpring real estate-tech incubator. Interesting sidenote, the other real estate online technologies borne out of this unique incubator include CondoGuide, which grades the financial health of condominium associations, PeerRealty, which connects investors to real estate developers; Megalytics, a comprehensive portal for business risk evaluations based on real-time third-party data; and CampNative, a platform to book campsites around the world. HerbFront’s primary objective is to locate marijuana-growing and distribution facilities near you, and allowing real estate owners to sell properties to these businesses specifically.

According to Teresa Novellino of UpStart, Herbfront co-founder Matt Chapdelaine previously worked as a commercial real estate broker, and recognized that the distribution and manufacturing of medical marijuana in states where it is legalized, is governed by specific zoning restrictions, including those that prohibit the construction of these medical marijuana dispensaries near schools, parks and other facilities. Only about 5% of properties are zoned properly for this use, which is the primary issue Herbfront addresses. The website collects publicly available zoning information to build maps that account for these restrictions, ensuring that no laws are ever broken in a commercial real estate transaction for a medical marijuana dispensary.

Not to be outdone is a rising competitor by the name of 420MLS, a website that serves a similar function as HerbFront, but for an entirely different purpose. Whereas HerbFront is a communication tool to connect marijuana business owners will 420-friendly real estate developers and sellers, 420MLS is more of an all-around marijuana business classified, with an emphasis on letting potential medical marijuana dispensary owners connect with landlords and property owners who do not discriminate against these types of businesses.

The Trend Towards Micro-Condos

There is a growing trend picking up steam in Canada that has its roots in places like Japan, and a few larger metropolises in Europe. It would appear that more and more people, looking to find a residence in a sprawling downtown core without having to pay downtown prices, are choosing to live in “micro-condos.” Such units already have a presence in Vancouver’s largest cities, like Surrey and Victoria. But an influx of these units are in there final stage of construction and development now, with potential buyers and renters expected to flock to these units by the summer. There are nearly 3,000 micro condo units under construction in Toronto that are slated to be completed this year, according to Shaun Hildebrand, vice president of condo research firm Urbanation.

According to Sandra Rinomato of Canada AM, the typical micro-condo unit is extremely small, ranging in size anywhere from 220-400 square feet. Alexandra Posadzki, refers to them as “shoebox condos,” comparing them to the size of two average living rooms, while Jason Proctor of CBC News describes them as the housing equivalents of Swiss army knives: “compact, brilliantly designed units that pack a seemingly unlimited cache of hidden space into 300 square feet.”

Furniture is designed to maximize on the available space, such as fold up beds (which are standard issue in the units), with storage space often hidden away. Make no mistakes, these units are minimalist spaces, intended to cater to a very specific kind of lifestyle. The big trade off potential home buyers and new condo renters are willing to make involves trading personal space for communal space.

Opinions regarding these types of units vary, with some real estate analysts and observers pointing out some obvious flaws. For example, Rinomato argues that having only a few items out of place could force the entire unit to look cramped, making the space seem more confining. However, she also suggests that micro-condos make attractive sale units for real estate agents because they typically rent for more money per square foot than their larger counterparts. Hildebrand says condos under 500 square feet can bring in well over $3 per square foot, while the rest of the market averages around $2.50 or $2.60.

Securing the financing needed to purchase one of these micro-units can be exceedingly difficult, considering most banks and lenders have minimum square footage requirements. The concern being, that investors will sell off the properties in droves if the housing market starts to decline. This particular point seems ironic, considering that many investors are touting these units as being an excellent entry point into the market for young professionals. “There are minimum square-footage guidelines that vary market to market, but the most important factor is the condo’s marketability,” according to CIBC spokeswoman Caroline Van Hasselt. The true issue at heart has to do with demand uncertainty. Because these types of units are so new, no one can truly accurately predict how well they will sell in Canada’s major cities.

Toronto’s Real Estate Market in 2014: A Year in Review – Part 2

Move Smartly points out that the Toronto housing market was particularly competitive during the first four months of 2014, which they attribute to two factors: A steep decline in inventory from Q4 2013 that lead to a shortage of homes available for sale, coupled with a strong demand for houses at the time, which Move Smartly believes, is also a carry-over from the year before. The review illustrates that the competition for homes was specific to semi-detached and attached row houses, which had begun to significantly decline in inventory since September, 2013.

Both average sale price, and overall sales records were broken during the month of May. The Toronto Real Estate reported that 11,070 existing homes were sold that month, representing an 11.4% hike in sales from a year before, with the average sale price increasing over that same year long period by 8.4%, to $585,204. Not to be outdone in the record-breaking department was Calgary, which continued its impressive growth with another 2,948 homes sold in May alone, a new record for the month. The median and average MLS sale price in Calgary also reached record highs of $435,000 and $486,531 respectively.

The latter part of the year did not see the escalation of average sale prices for homes across Canada, or in Toronto in particular, slow down. A study published by Desjardins in early November stated the average price of a home in Canada had increased faster than income growth in Q3, with prices up 5.3% when compared to a year before. Desjardins’ “Affordability Index” is calculated by using the ratio between average household income and income needed to get a mortgage on an average-priced home. And according to their metric, the Canadian housing market is, on average, the least affordable it has been in the past 25 years. Toronto is not the least affordable housing market in the country, according to their study, with Vancouver taking the crown, boasting an average home price of $820,753. Windsor, Ontario, not surprisingly, is still the country’s most affordable city to buy a home, with the average price sitting at $568,384.

Housing affordability continued to decline right up until mid-December, with a published statement from the Bank of Canada, claiming that they believe the real estate market is overvalued by as much as 30%. The average price for a new construction low-rise home in the GTA, according to Bryan Tuckey of The Toronto Star reached $700,779, another record high. Tuckey accounts by examining supply and demand factors linked to population growth, arguing that the increase in units under construction, as well as average sales price, are a direct result of the intensification objectives outlined in the provincial growth plan, Places to Grow, aimed at increasing population density in urban centres and along transit corridors.

Toronto’s Real Estate Market in 2014: A Year in Review – Part 1

The old saying is that you can see where you’re going by looking back at where you came from.

If that logic holds true, we will be in a good position to predict the performance of the Toronto real estate market in 2015, by examining what happened in the year that just passed.

The first big trend of 2014 was that the construction was rampant, in many major Canadian markets, throughout the year. Back on January 22, a report published by Emporis suggested that four of the five top cities in North America for high-rise construction were Canadian: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary. Information released by Statistics Canada (read the article written by Greg Quinn and published on the Financial Post website revealed an interesting trend in housing permits issued in July, in Toronto and Vancouver specifically, that exceeded expectations. The value of municipal permits for multi-unit housing increased to 43.4%, to approximately $2.54 Billion, with the total permits in Toronto increasing by 29.6% to $1.65 Billion. A review conducted by Move Smartly, a record number of “condo completions” (new condo constructions) was achieved in 2014, with Realnet reporting 19,722 new completions from Q1 to Q3 alone, surpassing the previous annual record of 16,668 set in 2013.

The flooding of the Toronto market with newly built condominiums was so pronounced, it forced the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to withdraw their offering of mortgage loan insurance for the financing of multi-unit condominium construction (read the full CMHC article). The decision did not affect individuals looking to purchase a condo, whose insurance for mortgage loans remained unchanged. The move was made as a result of blatant lack of demand, with no insurance of its kind issued since 2011, citing competition with private firms, such as MCAP.

Condo sales, thankfully, set new records in the GTA, offsetting some of the massive inventory build-up taking place. George Carras of The Toronto Star posted back on August 2 that condo sales in the GTA increased by 33% compared to a year prior, with 37 new high-rise projects under development totalling 7,588 new units. Over 70% of these units are being built within the Toronto boundaries, another record high for development within the region relative to its neighbouring municipalities.

For the year as a whole, 2014 also saw the affordability of homes plummet, as the average price of a single-family home rose significantly in every major market across the country. Back in February, a report issued by TD Economics that made its way around the internet, stated that Canadian homes were overvalued by 10%, a figure supported by research financed by the International Monetary Fund. The Financial Post noted that the report compared the income and rents of Canada’s major markets to other “advanced economies,” and found that as home prices remain high, even as home sales have stalled.