CANADA'S STUDENT RENTAL CRISIS
REMI - Erin Ruddy
The rental market is surging across Canada with limited supply in key markets contributing to the sky-high cost of rent. For post-secondary students kicking off the fall semester, a lack of student housing combined with the punitive cost of living, has added more pressure to the pursuit of higher education. Reports from across Canada have been largely grim, with many claiming they’ve struggled to find suitable, affordable accommodations in and around campuses. And where most colleges and universities once guaranteed on-campus housing for all incoming first-year students, long waitlists are becoming the norm as more second-year students opt to remain in residence due to the lack of alternatives.
"Canada is the third largest destination for foreign students - international student enrollment has increased by more than 12 per cent annually throughout the past decade."
“The shortage of student housing has definitely been highlighted as a large issue across the country for the 2022/23 academic year,” says Trish MacPherson, partner at Alignvest Student Housing. “Essentially, Canada is still behind where it should be. Both the private and public sectors need to make housing a top priority if we are going to remain a top domestic and international destination for higher education.”
Underscoring her point, MacPherson references a 2021 study that places Canada’s provisioning rate—the percentage of full-time students in off-campus student housing beds—at just 3 per cent. Meanwhile, in more developed markets like the U.S. and U.K., provisioning rates are above 10 and 17 per cent respectively.
Off-campus PBSA establishments typically range from smaller buildings with a few dozen rooms, to large-scale developments that cater to 1,000-plus students. Suites often have up to six bedrooms, with residents sharing common kitchens and bathrooms. On-site amenities run the gamut from games rooms, gyms, quiet study spaces, and party lounges, making these buildings a popular option for parents and students alike. For Canadian colleges and universities constrained by limited funding and long waitlists for on-campus housing, there is an increasing reliance on the PBSA sector to offset housing need, as soaring rents and historically low vacancy rates squeeze students out of the broader rental market.
Calling this “a housing crisis for students,” the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and other groups say the rapid expansion of international student enrollment is the main reason supply is so urgently needed. According to Statistics Canada, there were 2,183,973 students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions during the 2019/20 academic year—of which 18 per cent were international.
The good news is universities and private companies are working towards furthering the goal of bringing more off-campus student-geared properties to market, just as several new residences are opening at campuses across Canada. With an impressive 21,000 new residence spaces feeding into the 24 largest student markets by 2025, a 15 per cent increase in total beds is expected.
At McMaster University in Hamilton, two new residences are underway, bringing 2,000 new beds to campus by 2024. In BC, an eight-storey student housing building with 385 beds just opened at the University of Victoria (UVic), offering more living arrangements in a city with one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the province. At Queen’s University in Kingston, a new residence is set to open this year bringing more than 330 additional beds to campus. The University of Toronto, University of Windsor and Carleton University are also in the process of building new residences to offset some of the projected need.
The question remains, will it be enough? Time will tell, but for those still seeking affordable student housing near their chosen campuses this fall, it sure isn’t coming fast enough.
JOHN TORY'S NEW BUILDING PLAN?
Globe and Mail -Alex Bozikovic
John Tory has launched his re-election campaign for Toronto mayor, and his focus is on the issue that has everyone’s attention: Housing. This week, he announced a “five-point plan” to encourage the construction of more homes in the city. Mr. Tory’s plan includes allowing “missing middle” small apartment buildings across the city, and allowing “greater mid-range density on major roads an in areas served by transit.” It also includes a “Development and Growth Division to streamline the process to get housing built faster.” And it calls for more affordable housing on city land, and policies to incentivize rental housing.
Under Mr. Tory, Toronto’s planning department has responded to the housing crisis with mixed impulses: one part reform, one part defensiveness. Today, apartment buildings are still illegal in much of Toronto; zoning rules preserve many of the city’s most comfortable streets for million-dollar houses. It’s clear that at least some members of the city’s planning department want reform. Last year, it put forward some policy to open up so-called “neighbourhood” areas to small apartments. This sounds incredibly obvious, but it’s contentious.
It’s worth noting that housing politics have shifted dramatically. Across the country, reform of land-use planning laws has become a mainstream issue, touted by B.C.’s probable next premier, David Eby, and baked into the federal budget. Five years ago, not a single Toronto councillor would have said that city planning needed radical change. Now the centre-right, hyper-cautious Mr. Tory is making that a central tenet of his campaign.
By running on housing reform, Mr. Tory gives himself political capital to make change. And remember that the province is about to make him (and Ottawa’s new mayor) much more powerful; the new “strong mayor” legislation could, as Premier Doug Ford’s government promises, really lead to more housing being built.
2022 GTA APARTMENT TRENDS
CFR The Apartment Group
We have got through the first half of 2022 and are now coming out of covid. The first part of the year 2022 saw 45 deals transacted with an average price per suite of around $370,000. This is up substantially from $300,000 in the first half of 2021. This is an increase over over 20%. In 2022 about 3,555 suites were sold and the average deal size was around 80 suites. In 2021, there were 3,130 suites sold with the average deal being around 65 suites.
Total deal volume in the first half of 2022 was just over $1.35BB and in 2021 it was about $940MM. On a price per square foot between 2022 and 2021 prices remained constant at around $430 per square foot. Cap rates continued to compress in 2022 with the first half sales averaging around 2.8% which is down from the previous year of 3.3%.
These reflect sales of apartments in the GTA mostly and those over 10 suites. From our more in depth analysis most deals that closed in the first half of 2022 were either negotiated in late 2021 or early 2022 but firmed up and closed in the first half of 2022.
The market did see a shift in demand in early Spring 2022. Five year bond yields move up sharply from 1.25% (Jan'22) to 3.35% (Jun'22). This had the impact at pushing up mortgage rates at the same time banks were tightening their lending criteria. In essence, Buyers (especially smaller to mid sized ones) started to get squeezed out of the market as at the current lending rates and lending amounts returns were razor thin.
It will interesting to see what the rest of the year will hold in terms of deals closing and what impact if any there will be on pricing. Given where rents are going (UP) a softening in pricing as many buyers hope may not materialize. In fact, if demand for rental housing continues to grow exponentially and no new supply comes on stream to service the demand - values may only move upwards even if cap rates rise a bit.
8 NEWHOLM ROAD - ETOBICOKE - $8,370,000 / $310,000 Per Suite / 3.25% Cap Rate
This is a 27 suite walk up rental apartment building in south central Etobicoke and it dates from the 1950's. It is a concrete building with brick exterior, double windows, flat roof with balconies and surface and in building parking. The suite mix was one and two bedrooms and the rents were over 50% below market. The site was large at 0.65 acres and there was potential to add suites. The building was not fully exposed to the market and was purchase by a private investor.
4 NEWBOLD AVENUE- TORONTO – $4,400,000 / $366,665 Per Suite / 3.10% Cap Rate
This sale is of a 3 storey plus basement concrete walk up rental apartment building located in a east Toronto. There are 12 legal suites mostly two bedrooms and site is large being 100 feet by 150 feet. There is one bachelor suite used as an office which is illegal. There is a brick exterior, double windows, flat roof no balconies and surface parking only. The building is heated with a hot water gas fired radiant system. All utilities are paid by the landlord. Rents in the building are far below market. The building was fully exposed to the market and was purchase by a private investor.
2419 KEELE STREET - NORTH YORK - $3,365,000 / $252,900 Per Suite / 2.35% Cap Rate
This property comprises an entry level rental apartment building from the 1950's. It is a concrete structure with 12 suites and many long term tenants. This is walk up building heated with a gas fired hot water radiant system. The building sold fully occupied with in place rents over 100% below market. There is on site laundry and surface parking only. This is a low maintenance asset. Tenants pay hydro. The building was fully exposed to the market and was purchase by a private investor.
1698 VICTORIA PARK AVENUE - NORTH YORK - $17,100,000 / $328,850 Per Suite / 2.25% Cap Rate
This is a purpose built rental apartment investment comprising 5 floors and 52 suites. The asset was well maintained with brick exterior, double glazed windows, flat roof and balconies. The building dates from the 1960's and has mostly one and two bedrooms and large suites. There is laundry on site and there is potential to convert some garages into suites. The asset was well maintained and the site was just under one acre. The property was fully marketed and purchased by a Forest Gate Group.
38 KING STREET WEST - STONEY CREEK - $13,750,000 / $245,535 Per Suite / 3.25% Cap Rate
This is a purpose built rental apartment investment comprising 8 floors and 56 suites and some at grade commercial and office uses. The asset was well maintained with brick exterior, double glazed windows, flat roof and balconies. The building dates from the 1970's and has laundry on site. The suite mix comprised of large one and two bedrooms. The asset was well maintained and in the same ownership for decades. The property was not fully marketed and purchased by a Pulis Investments.
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LORENZO DIGIANFELICE, AACI
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