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Greybrook Hosts Annual Inside Track Event

October 25, 2023

Each year, we look forward to hosting our Inside Track event, and this year was no exception.

Inside Track is an excellent opportunity to offer our investors valuable insights and perspectives from esteemed industry leaders and to provide an informative economic update and outlook for Canada and the broader global economy.This year, we had the pleasure of welcoming Douglas Porter, BMO Financial Group’s Chief Economist and Managing Director of Economics, who delivered a clear and informative economic briefing to a captivated audience as our keynote speaker. Mr. Porter discussed the issue of “sticky inflation”, noting that the largest contributors towards inflation in 2022 have come down considerably to a more stable level in recent months. However, this has been offset by elevated inflation in other segments of the economy, most of which is still being supported by pandemic surpluses from consumers. Mr. Porter did explain that these surpluses will subside over time and we are well on our way to achieving a more containable level of inflation closer to the Bank of Canada’s target 2% range by late 2024. On interest rates, Mr. Porter believes the Bank of Canada will hold the bank rate at the current 5% and will begin lowering rates once inflation gets closer to the target 2% as these pressures subside.

The economic update was followed by a panel discussion between Peter Politis and Sasha Cucuz of Greybrook and three industry veterans who have been key players in the GTA and Ontario’s real estate markets in their respective industries for over 30 years – Sam Crignano, President, Cityzen Developments, Hunter Milborne, President & CEO, Milborne Group, Mike Beg, Head of Real Estate Finance at BMO Commercial Bank.

Our panelist discussed many important topics concerning the housing and real estate development industry in Ontario, providing perspectives from prior periods of stress in the economy and the housing market. Sam Crignano spoke to the opportunities and challenges that developers are experiencing in this market, highlighting a more favourable land acquisition environment in which vendors are willing to sell land with terms and offer vendor-take-back mortgages, among other strategies, which will help drive better pipeline opportunities for future development. He explained that the uncertainty in development and construction costs, driven in part by the surge in demand following the pandemic and previous supply chain issues, has kept many developers on the sidelines from launching new projects until the costs start to normalize and healthy demand for housing returns.

Hunter Milborne, who runs one of the largest condo pre-construction brokerage firms in the GTA, shared his insights on purchaser sentiment and condo demand in the GTA over the last 12 to 18 months. Hunter explained that submarket and price point were the two variables that affected condo demand during this period, with strong and consistent demand for better-priced product that purchasers could qualify for and newer projects with closings 4 to 5 years into the future. With default rates on the minds of many, Hunter shared that the number of challenged situations and defaults his office has experienced was “infinitesimal” in comparison to other periods of stress in our recent history.

As a senior executive at the Bank with responsibility for the bank’s lending and mortgage book, we asked Mike Beg to provide input on what the banks are seeing in terms of mortgage defaults. Mike explained that BMO and his peers at the big banks aren’t seeing a large number of defaults and have been stress-testing their models and working with their mortgage clients to avoid defaults. For BMO, Mike said he feels quite good about their mortgage book and forecasts overall.

The panel went on to discuss the housing and land supply challenges, and Sasha explained why despite the intentions of the province to increase supply with some of the measures introduced via Bill 23, without alignment and agreement at the municipal level, it will be challenging to make significant progress in addressing some of the bottlenecks and challenges we are facing. The panel discussed some of the small positive changes that the development industry has been seeing recently in the support of more supply, noting the importance of the shift in public sentiment around new homes now that there is a general understanding that we are in the midst of a housing crisis. It is generally understood that we unequivocally need more homes, and it would appear that municipal staff, and to some extent, the public, in some instances, seems to be more open to increased density and new housing. In our portfolio, we have noticed some improvements in the municipal approval process and with some of the recent changes enacted to encourage the development of homes. That said, the panel acknowledged that there is still a severe under-supply of homes relative to the 1.5 million homes that the provincial government has identified need to be built over the next 10 years in Ontario to meet the planned population growth.

Our formal presentation was followed by an investor Q&A, and a Miami-themed cocktail reception featuring a meta-immersive experience of our 100-storey Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residence Miami, a prize giveaway for a 3-night stay at our The Elser Hotel & Residence in downtown Miami and signature cocktails named for and inspired by Greybrook projects in Miami.

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s Inside Track and for engaging in important discussions on the market, the economy, and our investments. We look forward to hosting our investors again in 2024.

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