Rental apartments are seeing a resurgence in Toronto and the surrounding region. Rising land values and a tight rental market had already triggered a wave of new purpose-built rental projects over the last few years when the late 2018 elimination of rent controls on new buildings has fostered even more developer interest in the sector. There are other change drivers in Canada’s rental apartment industry, and it will all be discussed at the 8th Annual AptCon: The Blueprint for Rental Apartment Development Across Canada, a conference discussing how to make it in the growing rental market.

AptCon 2019, Apartment Conference, SVN, TorontoGrenadier Square, a two-tower apartment development under construction near High Park, image by Forum contributor NBGtect

Hosted by SVN Rock Advisors Inc. Brokerage, the day-and-a-half-long event in May is being touted by its organizers as a valuable means for new and prospective rental apartment developers to get the information and tools required to be successful. AptCon will feature a range of speakers from fields including development, architecture, marketing, leasing, and finance. Among those set to speak at the conference is Derek Lobo, CEO of SVN, who spoke to UrbanToronto about the upcoming event’s importance for the apartment industry.

“People in Toronto are great at building high-rises, as good as anyone in the world, though we’ve had a history of rent controls since 1975 in this province and that has stunted rental development specifically. Recently, there’s been some legislative, interest rate, and cap rate changes that have since made new apartment construction very feasible,” stated Lobo.

AptCon 2019, Apartment Conference, SVN, TorontoThe Livmore, a 43-storey rental tower completed in 2018, image by Forum contributor Benito

AptCon aims to cultivate the next wave of movers and shakers in this rental resurgence by preparing startup developers for their initial ventures into the market with seminars, one-on-one meetings with experts, and networking opportunities. “What we want to lay out is the blueprint for how you develop an apartment building,” said Lobo. A variety of 90-minute sessions will cover a range of topics relating to planning a new apartment building. “We’re doing deep dive financial statements, talking about how you design a floorplan, how you price on a unit-by-unit basis. That’s why we call it The Blueprint“.

The information offered at AptCon also applies to the growing number of condominium developers who have recently begun dipping their toes in the rental apartment market. According to Derek Lobo, this can be risky for seasoned developers who take the same approach for their rental projects as condominiums. “The problem is, it’s not the same business as condominiums. If condo developers follow their established mindset, they can make a number of mistakes, not understanding the nuanced differences between the rental and condo markets.”

AptCon 2019, Apartment Conference, SVN, TorontoThe Selby a 50-storey rental tower completed in 2019, image by Marcus Mitanis

These differences range from subtle build choices like lobby size and elevator capacity to the differing business models of condos and apartments. “When you’re a condo developer, you’re most often going to build it, pass your Tarion warranty, and leave. You’ve got a shorter term mindset,” said Lobo. “When you build a rental apartment, you’re building it for your grandchildren. You have a 50-year vision, so you are going to construct a different kind of building.”

AptCon 2019, Apartment Conference, SVN, TorontoThe Heathview, a two-tower rental project completed in 2014-2015, image by Jack Landau

The 8th Annual AptCon will run May 27th and 28th at the Sheraton Toronto in the Provincial Ballroom. Alongside the conference, The Deal Room offers the chance for apartment developers to sit down for a one-on-one meeting with Derek Lobo or another member of the SVN Rock team to discuss a planned project in depth. This service will help to further jumpstart developers by providing custom-tailored information that will help determine exactly what is needed for a project to move forward.

The Deal Room and the general tone of the conference dovetail with SVN’s role of advising for land development. “We guide developers through that initial feasibility study answering these questions; should you build, what should you build, how much can you charge, what’s the depth of the market, and how much money will you make?” said Lobo.

Tickets can be purchased on the AptCon19 website.