Thank you to our Sponsor Cameron Stephens Mortgage Capital – Canada’s leading non-bank lender.
Toronto Under Construction is excited to welcome our first guest Matt Slutsky from BuzzBuzzHome to the podcast. Matt has an impressive resume, holding an Honours Degree in Urban Studies from the University of Toronto, and a Masters of Science in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh. Matt followed up his degrees with a dissertation on Providing Policy Recommendations for the Government of Ontario on the Creation of the Greenbelt. He was a project coordinator at Atria Development, the VP of Development at Diamante Development and is currently the Co-founder and Co-President of BuzzBuzzHome.
BuzzBuzzHome is an online real estate database for new residential developments in North America with one mission: to create the best new home purchasing experience online. Matt walk’s us through how the idea for BuzzBuzzHome came to be, and the challenges he faced creating this new proptech database in a marketplace that didn’t share information, like pricing and floor plans, to the public in the online space.
What’s Changed Over The Last 10 Years?
Around the time that BuzzBuzzHome was gaining popularity (2009-2014) there was a lot of launches in both the high-rise and low-rise market with a specific high-rise boom between 2014 and 2017. This Fall, was the first time in a long time that we started to see a high level of new condo launches in Toronto. So what does this mean for Toronto? Matt thinks:
– Because of the condo boom in 2014-2017, we will be seeing a lot of completions, and those units coming to market this year, providing more supply in both the rental and resale high-rise condo market.
– Then in the next two years, we won’t see much, until the completions from the projects that launched this last Fall come to the marketplace.
– So we can expect a lot to launch this year and a lot to complete, creating a competition between the resale and new construction side, then a lull for a few years. As we start to see this increase in supply, Matt has high hopes that we will start to see the rental prices even out a little more.
Supply, Demand, Density & The NIMBY Debate
NIMBYism is still strong in Toronto, and although it was Ben’s Resolution to stop arguing with NIMBY’s online, it comes down to simple economics. With more demand, and supply to meet that demand we will have equilibrium in the market. But without the supply, demand will continue to drive up prices. More supply equals more affordability.
However, the NIMBY debate in Toronto comes from both sides: you have the affluent people who don’t want high-rise density in their neighborhoods, and then you have non-affluent people arguing that they don’t want their neighborhood to become gentrified and unaffordable. There is so much opportunity within Toronto to increase density – it’s not just high-rise.
The Yellow Belt, coined by Gil Meslin shows a ton of opportunity in Toronto’s low-rise neighbourhoods to improve density, and Matt argues this is where the city should be focusing to improve density. Places like the Danforth where we have our third transit line, and there are many 2-3 storey homes on low-rise lots and very little towers. Steve mentions we are missing some great opportunities to make our city more affordable.
Low-rise in the city is important, and really it’s the missing middle of needing to intensify our current neighbourhoods and Matt believes this is the key to increasing the amount of product coming to the city. Intensifying current neighbourhoods, along with adding more high-rises and a number of other factors – like reducing the time it takes developers to bring product to market, will help make Toronto more affordable.
Sales & Marketing in the Toronto Market
The guys move on to talking about sales and marketing in Toronto’s market and agree that sales and launches are still dominated by VIP and Platinum realtors, with Matt even mentioning that some of the projects on BuzzBuzzHome never make it to the end user because they are sold out in the VIP stage. The guys discuss the importance of the sales brochure, the multi-million dollar sales offices that became popular in 2017, and the opportunity to buy a new condo online directly from BuzzBuzzHome.