Madonna Plugs Toronto Condos As Market Slows




Tighter Rules

Cheap mortgages and hefty house prices have helped push Canada's debt to disposable income ratio to a record 165.75 percent, according to Statistics Canada quarterly data as of Sept. 30. It's also above the historical average of 133.99 percent.

"Elevated levels of household debt and high valuations in a number of housing markets remain a potential vulnerability," the IMF said in its report.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Jan. 5 that the government would tighten mortgage rules again "if we have to."

Flaherty attempted to douse the market four times in the last five years, with the most recent move in June 2013. He cut the maximum amortization period on mortgages the government insures to 25 years from 30 years and lowered the maximum amount homeowners can borrow against the value of their homes to 80 percent from 85 percent. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions also introduced tougher standards for lenders.

Flaherty sees the housing market cooling as the stiffer mortgage-lending rules slow borrowing.

Housing continues to add to the economy. Construction jobs increased 1.9 percent in December from the year-ago period, and employment in the financial sector, including real estate and leasing, gained 1.3 percent in the same time period as total unemployment increased, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. The weaker job market, tepid exports and sluggish business investment are hampering economic growth as the housing market continues its advance.

Phil Soper, chief executive officer of Brookfield Real Estate Services in Toronto, said he doesn't expect more housing regulation.

"I'd say there's still room for prices to grow," Soper said. "We have to be very careful with intervention because if it's a little too heavy we could kill the goose that laid the golden egg."

Madonna's Studio

Madonna, who cofounded Hard Candy Fitness, has locations in eight cities including Berlin, Moscow and Sydney. The performer will appear at Aura on Feb. 11 with condo owners selected to try out for the fitness class. The appearance may help sell those penthouse units, according to Riz Dhanji, vice president of sales and marketing at Canderel's residential group.

"We're very excited to have Madonna's gym," he said. "We've had incredible interest in the building's remaining units, especially the penthouse suites. This will only draw more attention to that as suite owners get access to this world class gym."

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