The persistent housing affordability crisis has haunted the dreams of would-be homeowners in major urban markets across the country for decades. In particular, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the perennially hot Vancouver and surrounding Lower Mainland markets have essentially slammed the door shut for many homebuyers. The dream of homeownership in major urban markets has become just a pipedream for too many Canadians.
The question now is, has the affordability virus has been transmitted to smaller markets? The data says yes.
Thanks to COVID-19, the newly created work-from-home crowd has decided they no longer need to live in “the big smoke”. They can work from wherever they can find a larger home and yard more suited to the whole family being in and around the house all day.
The most recent data for Ontario shows housing market booms emerging in markets far from the GTA. Markets such as Windsor, London, Ottawa and yes, even my hometown of Sudbury. Markets where affordability has not been an issue are now experiencing hot markets characterized by rapidly rising prices and multiple offers. With an average 20 per cent plus house price appreciation, it is safe to say that an affordability issue is rapidly emerging in some non-GTA Ontario markets.
So the big question now is how do we solve the growing affordability issue? We see three possible solutions:
Government stimulation to support innovation and solutions to affordability:
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s Housing Supply Challenge is the first step in the right direction to tackle this issue. Realistically however, it will never be properly addressed without industry involvement.
We have seen this playbook in the past. Government’s primary lever is interest rates and that affects more than just housing affordability. It’s an intricate dance for politicians to perform. Special taxation is a secondary lever but that is already in place in the GTA and Vancouver markets. So far it has been totally ineffective. Housing affordability will have to be more than just a hot issue; it will take a flaming conflagration for governments to intervene.
We see innovation as the most exciting and viable solution to helping solve the affordability challenge. Solving a complex problem like this requires some outside-the-box thinking and fortunately, the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the proptech space. A number of initiatives have real boots-on-the-ground business models that will help more Canadians get into real estate ownership as highlighted below.
Insightt shines a light on new and innovative companies with the Insightt Innovation Showcase. We are quite excited about some new proptech companies that have launched fractional or co-ownership solutions in Canada. Here are three amazing new companies to get your wheels turning on how their innovative model, or parts of their model, can help address the housing affordability crisis.
Addy is a fractional-based real estate company headquartered in Vancouver. Addy provides an opportunity for anyone to invest in real estate. It uses crowd funding to make the real estate market accessible to anyone who wants to become a real estate investor.
BuyProperly is led by entrepreneur Khusboo Jha. (Disclosure: The author of this article is providing Innovation and Data management consulting to BuyProperly). This new proptech company makes real estate investing simple, fast and easy for the everyday consumer through a new fractional real estate solution. Buy Properly leverages big data, artificial intelligence and has leveraged technology to help the everyday consumer become a real estate investor.
Key says it “is creating a third, hybrid option for Canadians beyond homeownership or renting. We are a co-ownership model that allows aspiring homeowners to co-own their condo suites with an initial investment of only 2.5 per cent of the suite value — typically $15,000. They then pay monthly payments comparable to reduced market rent, with part of their payments serving to increase their equity over time. The more they invest, the more they own, which also reduces their monthly rent equivalent. Co-owners can call their suite home for as long as they like, and when they are ready to move on from Key, they redeem their equity.” *
What we love about each of these new proptech companies is that they have identified a major pain point for the consumer in the real estate journey and solved it with technology, determination and true entrepreneurial grit. We see fractional ownership, co-ownership and leveraging crowd funding as key ingredients to helping solve the affordability challenge. How these ingredients are put together and who puts them all together is yet to be seen, but it starts with getting everyone thinking about the problem and then collaborating to find the solution.
We see innovation as the way forward in solving the affordability issue, so let’s get the conversation started!
- This story was updated from the original version, which had some outdated and incorrect information about Key (formerly Key Living).