The Changing Face of the GTA Housing Market

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The headlines across local and national media outlets all agree. “The market has changed.” “One of the country’s hottest real estate markets might be cooling down.” “Toronto home sales drop most since recession.” The GTA housing market is finally cooling.

After years of extraordinary home sales and incredible price jumps in the GTA, we might finally be seeing the market even out. Potential GTA home buyers had got to be relieved when the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) reported the GTA housing market’s declining numbers last month. For years, the red-hot housing market has favoured sellers (and new home and condo builders). It’s been a tough go for buyers, who have had to compete with investors and deal with rising prices and limited availability, and has contributed to the GTA market’s vast expansion. Now, with more homes on the market and prices going down, the market is starting to look more balanced.

These changes are being partially attributed to new rules put in place by the Ontario government to cool down the housing market – the Ontario Fair Housing Plan. The new rules include a 15 percent foreign buyers’ tax, rent controls that limit annual increases, and several other measures. Coupled with changes last year from the federal government to tighten up mortgage lending regulations, which restricted the amount of debt Canadians can take on, it’s natural to see demand for homes declining. There are many factors at play.

It’s too early to tell the long-term effects of this recent dip. It has definitely made an impact, and will make it easier for buyer demand to be met. But as Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis, reports, “the actual, or normalized, effect of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan remains to be seen.”

BAM at the 2017 BILD Awards

Once again, our team had a great time at this year’s annual BILD Awards in late April. The awards – now in their 37th year running! – celebrate excellence in the GTA’s new homes industry, from sales and marketing to design and construction. Our team always enjoys taking an evening to celebrate our accomplishments and to see some of the cool innovations going on in the industry. It’s also a great night to connect with our fellow marketers, builders and developers. It’s always rewarding to be recognized and to take home an award or two, too!

This year, we were honoured and excited to be nominated for several awards:
• Best New Community (Built) – Nuvo, Highmark Homes
• Best Digital Marketing Campaign (Low-Rise) – Triumph, Highmark Homes
• Best Semi/Townhome Design (Large) – The Touch, Triumph, Highmark Homes
• People’s Choice Award – Triumph, Highmark Homes
• Best Rendering (Low-Rise) – Charing Cross, Lancaster Homes

Part of the digital marketing campaign for Highmark Homes’ Triumph in Whitby community.

(You can see all of the 2017 finalists here and all the winners listed here.)

We were proud to join our client Highmark Homes on stage to accept the award for Best Semi/Townhome Design for one of their stylish, modern townhomes at Triumph in Whitby. This has been an extremely successful community – its latest phase is fully sold out – that we worked on developing and marketing with Highmark Homes and architect Hunt Design Associates over the past few years. It brought an innovative new product to the typically traditional and family-oriented Whitby market.

Helping our clients succeed is what we do best at BAM. When they win, we win. We’re proud and grateful for another year of amazing clients and communities. Until next year!

BAM + Google: Here’s how we’re setting ourselves above the rest

Hey there. We’d like to take a moment to give ourselves a big pat on the back. Today, we are very excited about Google AdWords – particularly after our amazing Quarterly Business Review with the good folks at Google.

Here in the BAM digital department there are plenty of things that get us excited. After all, we place a premium on digital advertising and praise its efficacy as a channel for new home and condo sales, so we quite literally live and breathe digital. We want to have the best ads, the best performance, and the cheapest clicks, so that we can convert those efficiencies into profitable new home sales.

Over the past 3 quarters BAM’s digital advertising team has worked tirelessly with new Google technologies, web development teams and clients to streamline the advertising process from start to finish. Efficiency is the name of the game, and BAM has innovated in ways to capitalize on efficiencies.

Quarter-over-quarter, BAM has reinvented the way it utilizes AdWords as part of the home selling process, and the results have started to pour in. Over the past 6 months, we’ve seen our overall account clickthrough rate on ads quadruple. From an average clickthrough rate of 2% in March, we’ve managed to up that figure to 8% through the end of Google’s Q3 in October.

Is that good? For comparison, other advertisers in our industry have seen modest increases from 2% to 3% in the same timeframe, which gives BAM a 172% advantage. When you see that kind of comparative improvement, excitement ensues. Check out the infographic below to see how BAM has upped its game with AdWords the past few months.

Augmented Reality: Bridging The Gap

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This past weekend, we saw the digital world explode after the thunderous launch of the much-lauded Pokémon GO. Its footprint was so massive that four days in it surpassed a billion dollars in value, and bested Twitter for daily active users. It’s also a hyper example of how quickly the general public can adopt AR technology, and the possibilities it offers both brands and consumers. For those unaware AR refers to augmented reality, a playful interaction between the game/software and the real word; in the example of Pokémon GO, Pokémon appear on your phone’s display, overlaid into the real environment as captured by your device’s camera.

Ikea has recently been playing with AR. They introduced new technology that allows you to use their catalogue and app to overlay furniture into your home so that you can see exactly what it looks like in your space. You can even snap photos to share with family and friends to get their opinion. It’s this creative use of AR that should be of particular interest to our industry. Whether it’s allowing you to visualize flooring samples in the actual space, or give more depth to a home’s layout while still at the framing stage, the technology is widely available and requires less learning curve [for users]. As well, unlike VR, it doesn’t need any third-party hardware to enjoy it, which is especially important if your client or customers are at home, instead of at your site. They can grab an app and press go.

Augmented reality could change the way we visualize presentation centres and model homes. Imagine using oversized custom screens to explore the space, or perhaps supplied glasses, not unlike those you’d find at a 3D film. If Pokémon is any indication, the floodgate for AR is about to burst; now is a great time to ride the wave.

Next Level Townhome Sales At Triumph

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If you’ve been following BAM over the past year, you’re aware of the strides we’ve been taking to help change the way buyers purchase homes. Earlier this year, we introduced a revamped Pine River website that included an online home reservation system that allowed potential buyers to choose the home and lot of their dreams and place a hold on it. Well, we’ve kicked things up a notch with the newly redesigned Triumph Phase 3 website for our client Highmark Homes. Not only did it let users book their appointment for the grand opening, but it featured an option that allowed VIPs to skip the line, and secure a home (for a nominal fee).

Buyers who were serious about starting a new life in one of Highmark’s stylish, modern townhomes in central Whitby paid a $500 fee – using PayPal – to become part of the VIP Advantage program. This allowed them to reserve their choice of home and lot online before the public, view, and lock-in, preview pricing, access a private VIP Advantage Event (with no line-ups) and view/download the APS and condo docs ahead of time. Now that’s next level. The program was a huge success with 20 customers selecting the option, and 17 making a purchase!

We’ve since extended the program, although customers no longer have to pay. They can visit the website and lock in their choice of a lot and home design online, similar to the Pine River site.

With the success of the launch, we can easily see this becoming a standard when it comes to launching new communities here in the GTA. Not only does this make the experience even more seamless for buyers, but also it’s a giant step closer to facilitating an entirely online purchase. We couldn’t be more excited — or proud!

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