Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Coming To A World Biosphere Near You

One of the greatest assets we have in the southern Georgian Bay area is the Niagara Escarpment. Traversing one of the most densely populated and heavily developed regions of Canada, the Escarpment is a unique geological formation providing a vital corridor of natural green space through south-central Ontario.  In our region, the Niagara Escarpment is the source of immense recreational pleasure for hiking, skiing, mountain biking and more.

In 1990, the Niagara Escarpment was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and was recognized as being "a landscape of rich biodiversity, home to hundreds of Ontario's Species at risk, vital watersheds, agricultural areas and 450-million year old geological history, the Niagara Escarpment is a treasure to protect for future generations of Ontarians."

  The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) is an agency of the provincial government's Ministry of Natural Resources and is charged with the task of preserving the Niagara Escarpment on behalf of the people of Ontario.

  Having recently sold three properties that fall under the jurisdiction of the NEC, I am very familiar with the developmental restrictions that exist for owners of such properties relative to building, severing and or otherwise altering properties that fall with NEC governed areas.  As such, it is hard to fathom how a massive quarry expansion was allowed to proceed on top of the Escarpment west of Duntroon.  A lengthy Ontario Municipal Board appeal which ran for months and one where I testified on behalf of local property owners, resulted in a decision to allow the expansion by Walker Aggregates to proceed.  The approval was subsequently appealed by the NEC and that appeal was denied.

  It's hard to imagine how on one hand, a private land owner of property that resides within the NEC cannot build a home in the woods, cannot sever their property and may not be allowed to even cut down some trees yet a large for profit corporation is granted approval to essentially strip mine was is designated as being a significantly important natural area.

  Work has already begun clearly the site of this new quarry at the top of County Road 91.  A hardwood bush will soon be gone and the rustling of wind through the trees will be replaced by the sound of heavy equipment, scouring the landscape in the name of corporate profit.  It's a sad commentary on where our priorities lay and doesn't bode well for the generations that follow us.  


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What A Difference A Year Makes

  One year ago, Collingwood and the surrounding area was under the influence of one of the most severe winters we had had in years.  Extreme cold and excessive amounts of snow made for great ski and snowboard conditions (provided you could get here) but it wrecked havoc with virtually every aspect of the local economy including real estate.  
  At the end of January 2014, MLS® real estate sales were down 27% to 28% both in terms of properties sold as well as dollar volume.  Fast forward to January 2015.  Despite the lackluster start to 2014,  the year ended with record sales and that has continued into 2015.  MLS® sales in January of $41.6 million represented a 61% increase in dollar volume compared to January 2014.  MLS® unit sales in January totaled 114 properties up from 82 sales in the 
same month last year, an increase of 39%.  
With the exception of Clearview, single family home sales in every other area municipality were up over January of last year.  Collingwood and Grey Highlands saw single family home sales up 50% in January.  Sales in Wasaga Beach were up 64% while the Blue Mountains experienced a modest 10% gain. The biggest surprise was the Municipality of Meaford which saw January sales almost triple that of one year ago.  One month does not make a year but we are  certainly off to a great start for 2015 and the same is holding true for many other markets across Canada.
Over the course of the past several months, we have experienced a significant reduction in housing inventory with some area and or price segments reflecting a shortage of product to meet the demand.  For the month of January, the number of new MLS listings was down 26% from January of 2014 with 363 properties coming to market versus 488 last year.  The number of expired listings is sharply reduced as well stemming from older listings selling, or in some cases, stubborn sellers are refusing to lower their asking prices to a level consistent with market value and they are simply taking their properties off the market.
 In my next post I will highlight what's selling the most in terms of property type and price range(s).

Monday, January 19, 2015

Area MLS® Real Estate Sales Exceed $700 Million in 2014!

Another record year was recorded for area real estate sales in 2014 with total MLS® sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR) topping $705 Million.  This marks a new benchmark high for annual MLS® sales volume and represents a 12% increase over 2013.

  Following the cold snowy weather of last winter, MLS® dollar sales at the end of the first quarter were down 6% while individual MLS® unit sales were 13% below the prior year.  As is often the case, slow sales activity in the first quarter of 2014 appeared to have created a pent-up demand as sales activity rebounded very strongly commencing in April.  This trend continued on into late spring and summer with MLS® sales in June 2014 exceeding $78 million, the
 highest level ever achieved in a one month period.
  Unit MLS® sales for 2014 were up 5% compared to 12% for dollar volume stemming from the fact that sales of higher priced properties were very robust throughout the year.  Sales from $300K to $500K were up 16% while sales in the $500K to $800 range posted a 13% gain over the prior year.  Sales between $800K and $1 million almost doubled from the prior year, with 47 sales reported in 2014 compared to 24 in 2013, an increase of 96%.  Lastly, sales above $1 million totaled 40 properties versus 34 in the prior year, a gain of 18%.

During the year we continued to see the market move into a balanced state stemming from the fact that new MLS® listings of 5,986 properties marked a reduction of 5% over 2013.  Expired listings also dropped with 2,734 expired MLS® listings in 2014 compared to 3,076 in 2013, a decrease of 11%.  Fewer new listings combined with increased sales resulted in less available MLS® inventory across the board thus leveling the playing field for sellers and buyers alike.  

  During 2014 we saw a very strong demand for area condominiums.  MLS® condominium sales in 2014 totaled 443 units, an increase of 18% over the 374 MLS® condominium sales reported in 2013.  Single family home sales for 2014 were up a more modest 6%  while the sale of vacant lots/land was actually below that of 2013 with 144 sales in 2014 compared to 154 the prior year.

 As we head into 2015, conditions point to another strong year in terms of the demand for area real estate.  For the most part there is a good selection of available inventory.  Prices and interest rates appeared poised to remain stable and with another great ski and snowboard season now underway, visitors are flocking to the area often resulting in their decision to make a property investment in the area.

 For a look at the luxury, high-end property market activity in 2014, see my Southern Georgian Bay Carriage Trade Homes blog.


Contact Me

Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


My Profile

Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.