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The luxury real estate market in the Great North is white hot with Toronto retaining it’s top spot. Here’s why.

anada has it all: Natural beauty, a pristine environment, sizzling culture, political stability, strong employment, educational excellence, an active outdoor lifestyle, and a currency exchange that welcomes the international real estate investor.

As we look ahead to next year’s Luxury Defined, the definitive global report on prime real estate worldwide, Christie’s International Real Estate checked in for an interim report from our top performing market of 2014.

THE STATE OF CANADA’S LUXURY REAL ESTATE MARKET: SEE THE INFOGRAPHIC 

Toronto not only retains its lofty standing, incredibly, the luxury property market is even hotter than it was a year ago. Last year, Toronto’s 31 Days on Market, the time it takes to sell a luxury home, was half of second place San Francisco’s 71 days. The Christie’s International Real Estate Affiliate in Toronto, Chestnut Park, recently noted that in 2015 the number has dropped lower – to 26.

Days on the Market (in $3 million + category)
Days on the Market (in $3 million + category)

Fueling these sales is the keen interest from Chinese buyers and an appreciation of hard assets, such as art and real estate, as a reliable investment option over the long term, especially when markets are volatile, as they have been in China. These buyers, however, are not strictly investors but rather are moving their families and living here, drawn by the top-notch schools, the clean air, and sense of safety. Vancouver and Toronto are top destinations for the Chinese buyer.

In fact, Toronto leads the other major Canadian markets with a 55% leap in million dollar sales for the first half of the year and a 52% jump in sales over $2 million. More recently, in September, Toronto posted 32 sales in excess of $3 million, which is up from 25 the year prior. Chestnut Park reports that most of the transactions at this price point sold over asking price. The city is on track to pass the mark of 100,000 total sales for the year, which would shatter the previous record of 93,000 set in 2007.

Year-Over-Year Home Sales Volume Growth
Year-Over-Year Home Sales Volume Growth

Toronto did not have Canada’s top sale. That honor went to Vancouver when Mailin Chen, a businessman from Mainland, China, who already resided in Canada and operates a company there, purchased an estate for $51 million. That said, the average price of a freehold detached home in Toronto was $1 million in September, which is an historic breakthrough at that price point.

“I would say, however, that $3 million and up defines the luxury market in this category,” says Chris Kapches, President of Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “For condos, I would put the luxury price point at $2 million. This is an attractive alternative to freehold in that the entry point is more accessible and while the demand is high, with multiple offers on most transactions, the city’s inventory is growing to satisfy that demand.”

Top Real Estate Sales by Region
Top Real Estate Sales by Region

As the city itself becomes less affordable, the outlying areas are seeing renewed interest from buyers. Not only are prices more attractive, Toronto’s Land Transfer Tax, which would translate to $100,000 on a $2 million home, simply goes away on transactions outside the city limit. Chestnut Park reports an explosion in Collingwood and Hamilton where people are purchasing homes for a third of the price and starting businesses and professional practices in retail space that is less expensive as well. One result: in October a home in Hamilton listed at $599,000 sold for $810,000 after 17 offers.

Notable markets also experiencing this ripple effect are Montreal. Our Affiliate, Profusion Realty, has noticed that foreign investors, including a growing number of Chinese buyers, are coming to see the value proposition of to purchasing in a city as vibrant as Toronto or Vancouver but at a fraction of the cost.

In Victoria, sales are also up due to a phenomenon we call “Lifestyle Arbitrage”. This is when sellers opt to cash out of their current residence and relocate to a lower-priced home while maintaining their present lifestyle with considerably more money in the bank. Our Affiliate in Victoria, Newport Realty, is experiencing this a citizens of Vancouver choose to take advantage of the city’s real estate boom, international demand and rising prices then relocate to Victoria. As a result, prices is this bucolic corner of Canada are going up, including the record sale of $7.3 million achieved by our Affiliate over the summer. This is the highest price posted in the past eight years.

The drop in oil prices has hit Calgary hardest in Canada with sales down 28% in the $1 million-plus range and down 38% in the $2 million-plus range. Our Affiliate, Semrau & Associates, reports, however, that some affluent buyers are purchasing teardown properties near the city center and building custom homes.

$1M+Home Sales Volume
$1M+Home Sales Volume
$2M+ Home Sales Volume
$2M+ Home Sales Volume

As with any white-hot real estate market, speculations of an impeding bubble burst in Canadian real estate have proven irresistible to journalists around the world. That said, in the foreseeable future, there appears to be no change in the forces driving the market to these heights. The low value of the Canadian dollar creates a value proposition for international investors. The country is projecting (and preparing for) an increased number of foreigners in 2015 – 285,000, to be precise, compared with approximately 260,000 in 2014. And as political unrest continues around the globe, more people are likely to agree with a United Nations report naming Canada one of the world’s top places to live.

What Do You Get for C$5 Million in Canada?
What Do You Get for C$5 Million in Canada?

Top Listings from our Canadian Affiliates:

Victoria, British Colombia, Canada

This private 200 acre estate ranch with 7000 sq. ft. offers outdoor living space with spacious indoor rooms & magnificent views.
This private 200 acre estate ranch with 7000 sq. ft. offers outdoor living space with spacious indoor rooms & magnificent views.


Alberta, Canada

This gracious 4940 sq ft home is rich in Calgary's heritage & offers gleaming hardwood floors on the main level, 3 fireplaces, formal living & dining rooms, main floor family room & a gourmet kitchen with bright eating area.
This gracious 4940 sq ft home is rich in Calgary’s heritage & offers gleaming hardwood floors on the main level, 3 fireplaces, formal living & dining rooms, main floor family room & a gourmet kitchen with bright eating area.


Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This is an incredible renovation of an originally designed Barton Myers residence reminicent of a magnificent manhattan townhome.
This is an incredible renovation of an originally designed Barton Myers residence reminicent of a magnificent manhattan townhome.

http://luxurydefined.christiesrealestate.com/blog/market-insights/canada-reigns-global-stage

 

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Villa Stargate, Grecia, Costa Rica MLS#7753614-AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

 

 

And yet another reason to move to Costa Rica!

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By Jason Holland, https://internationalliving.com/articles/the-top-five-overseas-havens-for-effortless-healthy-living

Since moving here I haven’t had arthritis in years,” says Robbie Felix of her healthy new life in Manuel Antonio, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. “The clean air in the rainforest, the ocean…it’s like breathing medicine. I’m very healthy for someone with a chronic illness. I surf. I walk on the beach. I exercise.”

Robbie, in her early 60s, has the chronic illness lupus. But she found relief from her symptoms (including arthritis and skin allergies) after arriving in Costa Rica. And she’s not alone. Robbie is just one of the many expats who no longer needs a raft of medications since moving down here.

“My high blood pressure has come down almost completely.” says Nel Cameron, 68, who lives in Escazú, a suburb of Costa Rica’s capital, San José.

So what is it about Costa Rica that causes your blood pressure to plummet and your dependence on meds to go fade away?

There’s a phrase in Costa Rica, sort of the unofficial national motto: Pura Vida. It literally translates to “Pure Life,” but it’s more accurate to say “Life Is Good.”

It’s an attitude shared by most Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves. They value time with family and friends. They work hard, but you won’t find them sacrificing playing soccer with their kids at the park by staying late at the office. They know that a well-balanced life, where you spend time in your community or doing things you enjoy, is key to good health and wellness.

It makes for a low-stress lifestyle. And most expats find that, soon after arriving in Costa Rica, they adopt the Pura Vida way of life, too. They slow down. They get out of the habits they had for years when they were part of the daily grind. They enjoy coffee on their back porch, enjoying the scenic vistas of the Central Valley or Lake Arenal. Or breakfast with their toes in the sand with friends, after a long walk on the beach.

Reducing stress and learning to enjoy life is only one way expats find themselves improving their mental and physical health. Just about every Costa Rican town of any size has a feria, or outdoor farmers’ market, at least once a week. Most expats adopt the local habit of doing the majority of their shopping there. The price is right. With pineapples for $1, heads of lettuce for 75 cents, tomatoes for 50 cents a pound, and other bargains, you can load up on a week’s fresh fruits and vegetables for about $35. You also have fresh fish like snapper, tuna, or dorado (mahi-mahi), straight off the boat, for $5 to $6 a pound.

With these prices—and the abundance of fresh, whole foods—you can’t help but have a healthier diet. It’s common for expats to eliminate the need for some prescriptions. And lose significant weight—20…30…40 pounds or more—in the process.

Harry and Barbara Jones, a 60-something couple, live in Grecia, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. They’ve found that living like the locals—shopping at the local farmers’ market for fresh fruits and vegetables, for example—allows them to cut their monthly budget to well under $2,000. Another benefit of their newfound healthy eating habits: “I’ve lost 30 pounds since moving down,” says Harry.

Diet is just one part of the equation. You have no shortage of options for exercise in Costa Rica, thanks to the warm, tropical weather year-round. On land, you can take long walks on the beach, trek through jungle, or hike vigorous trails to mountaintops with panoramic vistas. Watersports like surfing, standup paddle boarding, and kayaking are hugely popular on the coasts, with plenty of schools and instructors to help beginners of any age.

“One of the things we like is that it is quiet and peaceful. Its country living at its finest,” says Ian Douglass, 46, from Manhattan Beach, California, of his life on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. “Clean air, unprocessed food, good waves, natural beauty, and the beach. I think these are things we should be allowed to enjoy every day.”

In the beach areas, it can be hot and humid—too much for some, just right for others. But head to the Central Valley and you’ll enjoy cool mornings where you need a sweatshirt and afternoon highs in the mid-80s F, with little humidity.

Jeff and Allison Spencer, 60 and 58, respectively, were educators in Arizona before retiring early and moving to the Lake Arenal region, which features a consistent, spring-like climate.

“In general, I really enjoy the weather. The breeze keeps things cool and keeps the bugs away. Even on rainy days, it’s nice and cool. March to April it’s dry. But we do have a lot of rain during rainy season, usually a sunny morning and rainy afternoon—that’s typical. But I wouldn’t trade that for the heat and dust in Arizona,” says Jeff, who adds, “The great temperatures year-round allow us to enjoy kayaking, biking, and hiking whenever we want.”

Of course, just walking out your front door can provide a lot of exercise. Many communities in Costa Rica are also very walkable. If you live in a town in the Central Valley or in one of the many laidback beach towns, you can get around mainly on foot for trips to the grocery store, local restaurants, and the like. If you’re in more outlying areas, there is excellent bus service and cheap taxis, so there’s no need to depend on a car.

With all these factors, it’s no wonder that one of Costa Rica’s regions, the Nicoya Peninsula, was named one of the world’s Blue Zones by researchers. They discovered that locals live longer on average, thanks to a combination of diet, climate, and lifestyle. I can’t say you’ll live longer as an expat in Costa Rica. But you’ll certainly be healthier.

By Jason Holland, https://internationalliving.com/articles/the-top-five-overseas-havens-for-effortless-healthy-living-part

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100m N Miguel Arriba, Grecia, Costa Rica MLS#U7753234-AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

Buy or Sell?  The conundrum for Foreign Property Investors in the U.S.A.

 

The following informative article was recently written by a dear friend of mine, David Nixon-Business Development Executive at Currencies Direct.

When you buy an investment property in the US you’re probably motivated by a number of reasons.

Perhaps you want a destination for family vacations, maybe it gives you an additional income from rentals and – of course – there’s always the likelihood of your property increasing in value.

Buying a property in the US is, in effect, an investment in the US economy. That’s why Wednesday’s Federal Reserve announcement of the first interest rate rise since the birth of the iPhone is not necessarily a bad thing.

With economies all over the world in turmoil, the US dollar continues to be a safe haven. The decision to raise rates was data dependent, and that data has been positive enough to bring about this change: Compare that to the Europe, Canada, Brazil or China where troubles in the respective economies have been well reported.

If you want to buy an investment home in the US, it means you should be keeping a close eye on not just the fluctuating property prices, but also on the strength of the US dollar. The US economy has gone from strength to strength over the last 18 months, especially when compared to the countries of some other major currencies.

Take this example:

In the last 18 months, property prices in the vacation property haven of Polk County in Florida have gone up 8.6%. For a realtor this is an excellent selling point to attract new international clients.

It means that a property bought in June 2014 for $200,000 is now worth around $217,200. Typically, expectations are that property values will continue to rise steadily.

The currency rates are far more volatile. They can go in your favor or just as easily move against you. Look at the difference of major currencies in the same time frame (June 2014 – November 2015):

Great British Pound Sterling

US$200,000 in June 2014 was worth around £117,647. Today, it’s worth about £133,333 – an increase of 12%.

Canadian dollar

US$200,000 in June 2014 was worth in the region CA$216,000. Today, it’s worth approximately CA$268,000 – an increase of 20%.

Euro

US$200,000 in June 2014 was worth roughly €146,000. Today, it’s worth around €188,000 – an increase of 22%.

Brazilian real

$200,000 in June 2014 was worth somewhere around R$440,000. Today, it’s worth about R$830,000 – an increase of 53%.

This data could be great for those realtors who want to attract listings, and could also be an indicator to those of you who are foreign property investors that now is an excellent time to sell.

However the same data, coupled with continued uncertainty in the rest of the world, may also be a persuasive argument for now being the right time to invest in a property in the US.

David Nixon

david.n@currenciesdirect.com

It was a High of 77 degrees Fahrenheit Low of 65 today in the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica. Compared to Tampa Bay today, the high and low was the same. However, my friend Diana moved to Chicago last month and she shared there is a foot of snow on the ground today. Our featured Costa Rica property is Casa Jacobson which has BREATHTAKING 180 degree views of the mountains of Grecia. You’ll feel welcomed and relaxed as soon you open the front door to your permanent oasis or vacation home. Move-in ready, fully furnished, 2015 new construction! Located on a main road, yet the gated entrance to the estate is private and blacktop all the way! The main house is a 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 baths, with a 2 car garage, and a 1 bedroom, 1 bath mother-in-law or caretaker/apartment. Call today to learn more or visit http://Coastal.506.nu to see more properties for your permanent oasis or second home.FeaturedImage_1

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Plus a 20×26 out garage for lawn equipment etc., which can be changed into another small cottage, all services are already installed. The home has a tile roof, top of the line windows with high-end, upgraded security glass. Full underground watering system for the entire property, with a 2500 gal. storage tank and pump, for domestic and irrigation.

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Full alarm, and camera system! Complete solar electrical system! The kitchen is all custom made cabinets, with granite counter tops, top of the line stainless steel GE appliances. The property is completely enclosed, with auto gates, & remarkably landscaped.

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On 3662 square meters of land, or .946 acres, this home is less than 6 months old and has real cable TV, Internet up to 20mbps available, and phone. 10 minutes from Grecia, 1 hour to SJO airport.

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Below is a brief overview of what you might find if you decide to own a vacation or primary home in Costa Rica. The original article is quite long so I’m going to break it up into several distinctive subject posts. Just a taste so you will want more & more…

International Living

 

Costa Rica Beach

 

Join the 20,000 American expats already living
“la pura vida” in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s fame as a retiree destination is richly deserved. You’ll find the tropics along the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts, while most of the Central Valley is cool and breezy. If you find it difficult to choose which climate you prefer, you will be glad to know that the mild temperatures of the Central Valley are just two hours by car from the tropical beaches of the Pacific Coast.

Expats are attracted to Costa Rica for numerous reasons, which include the low cost of living, excellent health care, modern telecommunications structure, beautiful beaches, rainforests, lush valleys, and cool mountains…not to mention the theaters, art galleries, and fine dining. There are more than 20,000 expats living in Costa Rica and many well-established expat communities.

Tucked between Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east, Costa Rica may truly have it all: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, Caribbean beaches, Pacific coastline, rainforests, lush valleys, and mountains.

In March 1997 we took Costa Rica off our recommended list. Twelve years later, in 2009, Costa Rica was back on our list of Top Retirement Havens and remains there still. Yes, after 12 years off our list of affordable opportunities for profit, IL has discovered that there is an unknown—and still affordable—side to one of the world’s most coveted overseas retirement destinations.

Long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls…mesmerizing sunrises, sunsets, and star-filled evening skies…all these things, and much more, are drawing people back to Costa Rica.

Whether expats live in this beautiful country full- or part-time, they relish the climate, neighborly atmosphere, low cost of living, excellent health care, stable democracy, and countless ways to have fun. This is a middle-income, developing economy, with a tradition of democracy. The life expectancy at birth here is one of the highest in the world—outstripping both the U.S. and the UK. Tourist facilities are extensive, and because English is a second language for many Costa Ricans, the country feels very visitor-friendly.

In Costa Rica, the good life is called “pura vida.” For those who retire in Costa Rica, pura vida is a daily fact of life in this beautiful, exotic, and surprisingly affordable country.

There are no restrictions on foreign property ownership as such, although no one can own property within 50 meters of the ocean, and for the next 150 meters real estate comes under Maritime Zone laws. These laws permit development only under government “concession.” This means that anyone shopping for property should be doubly cautious about buying oceanfront real estate, including condos. Before entering into a transaction, insist that your attorney verify that the title is legally consistent with Maritime Zone regulations.

So if you are interested in buying his home, please contact me immediately! I will gladly escort you to the property. We do have some beautiful waterfront homes here in the St Pete Beach-St Petersburg-Clearwater area of Florida that are also available, if you prefer.

A home in Hong Kong is being listed for the equivalent of $105.7 million in U.S. currency, but it’s the price per square foot that has the world talking.

The home would cost $22,677 per square foot if it sells at its current price, making it the world’s most expensive home ever sold on a per-square-foot basis, The Wall Street Journal reports. It would also be the priciest home ever sold in Hong Kong.

The 4,661-square-foot home features four bedrooms, a private pool, a garden, rooftop terrace, and a carport that can accommodate two cars. The home is located in the new Twelve Peaks development within the city’s exclusive Victoria Peak neighborhood.

The home’s developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties, has offered any fast-acting buyer a 3 percent discount if a deal is made within five months. Discounts are becoming more common in Hong Kong as developers try to revive recent sluggish demand for new homes lately, The Wall Street Journal reports.

How does the house compare to U.S. real estate prices? Forbes recently spotlighted the most expensive homes listed for-sale in the U.S., with the Owlwood Estate in Holmby Hills, Calif., currently leading at an asking price of $150 million for a 13,000-square-foot mansion on 10 acres.

Source: “World’s Most Expensive Home Per Square Foot Goes on Sale,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 8, 2014) and “The Most Expensive Houses for Sale in America,” Forbes.com (August 2014)

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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