July 30, 2014
Lenders open vaults to commercial real estate
Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:42pm PST
Commercial real estate developers and investors rushing to secure low-cost financing amidst fears of higher interest rates are finding a warm welcome this summer from a lot more lenders.
New commercial mortgages in Canada reached $33 billion in 2013, well above the pre-crisis levels of 2008, reports Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Debt Capital Markets, and the trend is apparently ascending.
“We track more than 100 sources of debt capital available to Canadians, and there are strong indications that lending is on an upswing”, said Amar Nijjar, vice president and practice lead for JLL Canada’s Debt Capital Markets team. “Nearly all of the lenders are expressing an interest to lend at the same or higher levels from than last year. There is also an emergence of non-traditional sources that provide creative financing solutions, filling a void that previously existed in the marketplace.”
Canadian Mortgage Backed Securities are on also the rise – lenders originated approximately $1.5 billion in 2013 compared to $500 million in 2012. “The market anticipates that these lenders will surpass $2 billion in 2014,” Nijjar said.
Canadian interest rates are anticipated to increase in the near future as inflation continues to edge up and unemployment levels decrease, according to JLL. Lower unemployment translates to increased consumer spending and the ability for landlords to raise rents, Nijjar notes.
JLL warn that the multi-family sector, which benefits from low-cost Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.-insured mortgages, is facing federal government scrutiny. “We expect further regulatory changes restricting available capital in this sector,” JLL states in its report on commercial financing.
July 30, 2014
B.C.’s home sales heat up in June
Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:01am PST
The rise in June of home sales and prices for the third straight month shows that the grill isn't the only thing to heat up in B.C. this summer.
Provincial Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sales rose nearly 3% from May and 17% from a year ago to a seasonally adjusted 7,220 units, the strongest pace since February 2011. Recent strengthening of housing demand has likely reflected mortgage rate cuts earlier in the year and stronger employment growth in Metro Vancouver, which continues to convert more prospective buyers into homeowners.
While provincial sales growth was healthy in June, the top-line numbers mask some variation among markets.
Unlike May, which recorded higher sales in all regional real estate board areas, June had sales growth that was concentrated in Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island (excluding Victoria), northern B.C. and the south Okanagan.
The average MLS price climbed 0.8% from May to $558,530, a 5% gain from the same month in 2013.
Where available, we prefer to use the constant-quality Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) home price index (HPI). Year-over-year HPI growth was 3.5% in the Lower Mainland, 1% in Victoria and 2% in the rest of the island, which points to a mild price-growth environment.
July 23, 2014
2014 Kitchen Design Trends
Produced by Hanley Wood Strategic Marketing Services, sponsored by Electrolux
2014 Kitchen Design Trends
When it comes to kitchens, homeowners are looking for clean lines, simplicity, comfort, ease of use, and energy-saving appliances, according to designers, and the trends reflect those preferences.
"It's all about the sleek modern line," says Maria Stapperfenne, 2014 president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). While transitional style is still hanging on to the top spot on NKBA's annual survey of kitchen and bath trends, Stapperfenne says contemporary style is really nipping at its heels.
"There's a slowdown in the the Tuscan and Provincial look; I'm not seeing as many people drawn to that, says Stapperfenne, who is also manager of Tewksbury Kitchens & Baths in Whitehouse Station, N.J.
"Now those people who raised their families with the old world kitchen are looking at downsizing and simplifying their lives, and these new transitional and contemporary designs are a perfect fit. These contemporary styles can also be very fun with mixing colors—glossy color, not matte—and woods.
"Kitchens by definition need to be clean," says Chicago kitchen designer Mick DeGiulio, and the move toward more simplified spaces reflects that.
Designers are also seeing more mixing of materials, and the juxtaposition of different styles in the kitchen.
San Francisco kitchen and bath designer Joanne Cannell will mix different base and wall cabinets in a kitchen and bath, and says she will often suggest something like a hutch in a baking area for storage, and as a counterpoint to the more modern cabinetry and sleek appliances.
Not only is wood the No. 1 floor choice, according to the NKBA trend survey, but designers are using wood on countertops, sometimes alone, often mixed with solid surface materials.
"This year, I see a much bigger use of black walnut," says Stapperfenne, who has seen neutrally painted cabinets with dramatic black walnut interiors. Mixing materials can create visual interest as well as dynamic tension, the latter being especially effective in an otherwise cool, contemporary space.
Wood also brings warmth, and a suggestion of cosiness to any space where it's used, says DeGiulio. "I hear, 'I want to hang out in my kitchen,' so we are looking to see how we can translate that comfort and sense of ease to a kitchen." Using wood in an artful manner is one way designers can do that, he says. Using brushed finishes on tiled surfaces is another means of bringing in warmth.
Open kitchens remain a big trend, and DeGiulio finds that a lot of design is being driven by the kitchen, as those finishes flow into the rest of the house.
Taking a cue from commercial kitchens, designers are creating various stations for work in the kitchens they design. Depending on how a homeowner uses the kitchen, says Cannell, a designer might want to add a prep sink to the bar, or a second refrigerator near the door to the garage.
Large kitchens often pose space planning challenges. "You need to make the big kitchen work like a small kitchen," says DeGiulio. While he still uses the classic work triangle, there can be more than one.
Mixing wood with other materials in a modern kitchen can bring a sense of warmth and cosiness to the space.
In a really large kitchen, he might create what he calls la mattina, the morning kitchen, a work station with a toaster oven, small refrigerator and coffee maker, where homeowners or their children could prepare a quick breakfast.
DeGiulio, like most designers, includes a docking/charging station—typically in the island—of the kitchens he designs. Noting the trend, at least one manufacturer of solid surface countertops has embedded wireless charging capacity in the slab, says Cannell, allowing homeowners to charge their devices simply by laying them on the countertop's surface.
While white retains its No. 1 spot as the most popular paint color for kitchens, gray is coming on strong, while the popularity of bone and beige is receding. What's interesting about gray, notes Stapperfenne, is that it is the whole range of grays, including the taupey-grays (aka mouse colored) that are having a moment in the sun, not simply a light gray.
The NKBA survey noted the following features in demand: LED lighting; induction cooktops, steam ovens, French door refrigerators, bottom freezer refrigerators, and no-touch faucets/touch-activated faucets.
Low-heat LED lighting lets designers tuck recessed lights in just about every nook and cranny of the the kitchen, allowing multiple indirect sources of light, and highlighting the sculptural aspects of the kitchen, says DeGiulio. "We can create wonderful effects."
Sleek, perfectly flat, energy-efficient induction cooktops don't heat up like gas or electric cooktops, and are a good safety option for households with young children or elderly occupants. They are also easy to clean, meeting consumers' desire for kitchen surfaces that can be cleansed with less effort, says Stapperfenne.
Steam ovens and steam/convection combo ovens are growing in popularity, driven by homeowners' quest for efficiency. The combo ovens offer homeowners decreased cooking time and healthy steam cooking without the need for heating up water on a stovetop, notes Cannell. Leftovers benefit too: "You can heat up a rare cut of meat in a steam oven, and it will still be rare," she says.—Kate Tyndall
July 22, 2014
What Consumers Want in Home Automation
A new survey reveals that security is the No. 1 driver behind smart home adoption.
According to a new survey, most Americans would like a smart home that can automatically prepare for them to arrive home and provide peace of mind and comfort upon entering.
New research from home technology company IControl Networks demonstrates the importance of security to smart home adoption, with more than two-thirds of consumers ranking security—both for themselves and for their family—as the No. 1 reason for using a smart home system, and 100% of consumers responding that security is a must-have in a home automation system.
Ninety percent of respondents to the 2014 State of the Smart Home Report said security is one of the most important reasons for using a smart home system—with 67% ranking it as the No. 1 reason overall. In fact, not including at least some type of security capability in a home automation system was considered unacceptable by all respondents.
Survey results show that fire and carbon monoxide alarms are essential to personal and family security. Eighty-five percent of participants said fire detection was one of the most important features when it comes to protecting themselves and their families, with nearly 60% citing it as No. 1. Though only 11% ranked carbon monoxide alarms as the most important feature, the majority still recognized its importance—with 64% including it in their top three. More than half of consumers also listed gas leak alarms and valve shutoff as a top security feature.
Eighty-six percent ranked property loss protection as one of the top reasons for using a smart home system. After personal and family security, respondents more often mentioned property loss protection as an important feature of the smart home over any other feature, including indoor convenience, energy/resource management, and outdoor convenience.
Respondents realize that these features come with a price tag. A majority (51%) indicated they would pay up to $500 for a fully equipped smart home, with one-third (32%) noting a willingness to pay $500 to $3,000.
“For now, safety and security are driving initial mass market adoption. But, the convenience associated with a connected home will likely play a greater role as consumers realize how much easier automation makes their lives,” says Jim Johnson, executive vice president of IControl Networks.
The survey also looked into the features consumers find most important when it comes to how to manage energy. Eighty percent of respondents said heating and cooling management is one of the top features for reducing utility bills—with more than half citing it as No. 1 in terms of importance. Nearly two-thirds of respondents also said indoor lighting and ceiling fan control is a desired feature, followed next in importance by water management.
Click here to view the full report.
July 11, 2014
What Goes With Granite Counters?
Houzz Contributor. I cover topics ranging from decorating ideas, product...
They are classy and hard wearing and come in a range of shades — is it any wonder granite counters are still so popular? Whether you are planning a new kitchen or want a fresh look that works with your existing granite counters, here are eight ideas to get you started.
1. Whitewashed wood and watery blue. Granite counters with cool, gray tones work well with beach-inspired hues like silvery blue, whitewashed wood and white sand. Try stainless steel appliances, white cabinets, blue-gray glass tiles and whitewashed woodwork.
2. Duck-egg green and warm gray. Because granite is a natural stone, it makes sense that it would work well with other hues from the natural world. Try it with other rock and mineral colors, like duck-egg green and warm stone gray.
In this kitchen the island cabinets are painted duck-egg green, while the rest of the cabinets are left crisp white. The warm gray wall color picks up the gray of the granite, and ties in with the stainless steel sink and appliances.
Counters: Persia Pearl Granite
3. Taupe and cappuccino. Granite counters with a warm tone look beautiful surrounded by other rich, warm hues like taupe and cappuccino. Making some of the cabinetry white keeps the space from feeling too dark and heavy.
Walls: Tony Taupe, Sherwin-Williams
4. Crisp white paint and gray glass tile. For a fresh, modern look, try accenting gray granite counters with all-white cabinets, ceilings and walls. The flooring shown here is a light gray tile; dark wood would add a welcome touch of warmth to a cool gray scheme like this.
5. ‘Greige’ and white. Honed black granite counters like the ones shown here look sleek and stunning when paired with white cabinetry, wood floors and warm greige walls.
Cabinet paint: Pure White satin, Sherwin-Williams
6. Black, gray and white. Another option for black granite counters is to go a bit darker with graphite or charcoal walls and pure white cabinets. A chalkboard wall would also work well in a kitchen like this.
Island counter: Absolute Black honed granite
7. Warm white. Alaska White granite counters look a bit like marble — enhance the richness by painting cabinets and walls the same warm off-white hue. Pristine white ceilings keep the space feeling open, and pendant lights add to the elegant feel.
Cabinet paint: Off White 1873, Behr
8. Sea salt and bottle green. Using two shades of a similar hue is a great way to bring depth and interest to your space. A soft mineral green covers the walls in the space shown here, while a deep bottle green brings the island and range hood into focus. Warm wood floors keep the space feeling welcoming and relaxed.
Island counter: Leathered White Spring granite; perimeter counters: leathered Absolute Black granite; wall paint: Sea Salt, Sherwin Williams; backsplash: mix of Walker Zanger tile and stone