Thursday, February 15, 2018

Georgian Triangle Real Estate Market - 2017 Year In Review

  During 2017 we continued to see a strong demand for real estate across the southern Georgian Bay Region.  Following record MLS sales that were reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS in 2016, the bar was raised once again in 2017 with total MLS volume for the year of $1.091 billion.  This was roughly a 5% increase in sales over 2016.

  Despite the higher sales volume last year, a shortage of MLS listed properties for sale continued to plague the local real estate market in 2017.  Sales activity in the first half of 2017 remained strong, with MLS unit sales to the end of June up 1% or roughly the same equivalent from 2016.  MLS sales volume at the end of June were up 27% and totalled $6234 million.  Meanwhile MLS listings during the same time frame were down 16% from the first six months of 2016 totalling 2,014 properties compared to 2,385 new listings one year earlier.

  Despite the shortage of properties listed for sale, MLS dollar sales in 2017 remained strong as the result of increased sales in the higher price ranges primarily the $500,000 to $2 million category.  Sales of properties between $500,000 and $1 million were up 31% and 36% respectively totalling 571 units compared to 432 in 2016. Sales between $1 to $1.5 million increased 63% with 83 sales reported versus just 51 a year earlier. Lastly, sales in the $1.5 to $2 million range were up 71% with 29 sales compared to 17 in 2016.

  In total there were 1,551 MLS single family homes sales in 2017 a reduction of 19% from 2016.  Condominium sales in 2017 totalled 523 units an increase of 9 units or 2% from the 514 condos sold in 2016.  Lastly, MLS sales of vacant land in 2017 totalled 316 properties, an increase of 4% over the number of vacant land properties sold in 2016.  As pointed out in the past, these MLS sales and listing statistics do not include properties listed, built and or sold by developers outside of the local MLS system.  The Blue Mountains was the only area municipality that realised an increase in MLS sales of existing single family homes in 2017 with 227 sales reported compared to 223 a year earlier.  All other municipalities saw a reduction of MLS residential home sales in 2017 their results are as follows: Grey Highlands down 26%, Cleaview down 25%, Wasaga Beach down 21%, Collingwood down 15% while sale in the Municipality of Meaford were down 13%.

  As we head into 2018 I feel that we will see a change in market conditions especially from the hectic first few months of 2017. Inventory will no doubt remain soft and the recent changes in mortgage rules will no doubt impact some buyers and that may well decrease the multi offers and over list price sales that we experienced in the early months of last year.  Meanwhile, the development of new homes and condominiums in the area will serve to add some much needed housing inventory to our market(s) over the next 2 to 5 years.  The demand for area properties will remains strong, fuelled to a large degree by buyers from the Greater Toronto Area and from cities in southwestern Ontario such as Guelph, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, London and others.  We are still in the early stages of buyers in their retirement years looking to move to this area long term.

  As I have stated before, the challenge(s) for many of the local municipalities will be to manage the growth of the southern Georgian Bay area in such a way as to preserve the very reason why people want to vacation and or retire here in the first place.  Municipal services such as sewer, water and the local transportation infrastructure will all feel the pressures of the coming market growth.

  For further information on real estate sales in this area please visit the Newsletter section of my personal real estate website   For a confidential no obligation conversation about you buying or selling real estate needs please feel free to Contact Me

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Importance of Property Photos When Selling - Part 1

  In a prior post I ranted about REALTOR® photos and how unnecessary I felt they were from both a business branding perspective but more importantly they serve no real purpose in serving buyer and seller clients. The flip side of this argument is property photos and how important they have become in the marketing and sale of homes and other forms of real estate.

  When I started in real estate 15+ years ago, our MLS® system at the time allowed for a maximum of three photos with each listing.  Those were back in the days when a paper MLS® catalog was still in use by most agents and an Internet based MLS® system was gaining momentum. Subsequently the number of photos was expanded to nine then it jumped to thirty.  Thirty photos is not bad especially when a virtual tour can also be posted to a listing highlighting details of the property even further. As of this posting we are in the final stage of moving to an entirely new MLS® platform which has the capability of holding fifty photos per listing and photos can also be labelled.

Photos often make or break whether a consumer gives serious thought to a particular listing and or actually go to see the property first hand. Not only are the number of photos  important but also the quality. A recent study in the U.S. showed that listings with professional photos got on average 61% more views, yet many REALTORS® seemed more preoccupied with their personal photo versus those for their listing(s) which after all is where the money in this business is made. I know myself that when I go on a listing and see a lack of photos especially of the interior, right away I am suspect of how the property shows in person and typically it's poorly. The more ambitious and astute REALTORS are not only leveraging photos in their listings but they are talking it one step further on social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and others.

  Every house tells a story and photographs play a big role in conveying that story.  Both quality and the quantity of photos comes into play yet too often these are ignored.  Today there is no excuse for poor quality pictures or a lack thereof other than REALTOR® laziness.  Newer smartphones and tablets take good quality photos including panoramas.  Personally I use a Canon DSLR camera, often with a wide angle lens which does a better job of capturing an interior room without any distortion.  In addition a separate flash is a must and often a tripod.  My photo arsenal also includes drone shots which I have had done by a fully licensed and insured professional.  I do own my own drone which I have flown extensively for recreational use but until such time as I am licensed, I am not going to break Transport Canada rules.

  In my next post I will comment on photo quality.  In the meantime, for those of you that may be thinking of selling and are interviewing prospective REALTORS®, make a point of asking them about their use of photos in the listing.  Next to the correct list price, photos are the next most important aspect of successfully marketing your home or other property.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

  In like a lion out like a lamb is a phrase typically used to describe the transition from winter to spring however it also applies to this year's real estate market across southern Georgian Bay.

  On the heels of record MLS® sales in 2016 when sales volume for the year topped $1 billion, 2017 started off like a lion with record sales, multiple offers and sale prices that were often well over the asking prices of the sellers.  June brought with it a much tamer market with sales in June marking the first time in 40 months when sales for a given month failed to exceed that same month in the prior year.

  Following a relatively slow summer, sales momentum picked up in the fall but not at the same frantic pace that we experienced earlier in the year.  At one point I questioned whether we would top the $1 billion mark again this year but as of November we have.  While MLS® sales activity in November was down 15% from the same month last year to just over $84 million for the month, year-to-date sales now stands at $1.047 million for the year and we have one more month to go.  Again these results do not reflect the sale of new homes and condominiums made by developers which are typically done outside of the MLS® system.

  While MLS® sales dollars have already surprised 2016, clients and others I speak with are surprised to learn that MLS® unit sales are below last year's level.  Through the end of November, 2,279 MLS® sales have been reported, a decrease of 13%  or 344 properties from the first eleven months of 2016 when 2,623 MLS® sales had been completed. 

  MLS® dollar sales in 2017 are being driven by a very strong demand for high-end properties most notably in the $1 to $2 million range where year-to-date sales are up 77% with 106 sales reported this year compared to 60 last year.  We have seen similar results under $1 million as well with sales between $800,000 and $999,999 up 36% for the year.

  As has been the case for the past 12 to 18 months, MLS® listing inventory continues to lag.  As of this posting, MLS® listings for the year are down 11% from one year ago, coinciding with the 12% decrease in MLS® unit sales.  Single family homes sales are down 18% from one year ago.  The Blue Mountains has been the only municipality all year where single family home sales have surpassed last year's results but as of the end of November, that increase has shrunk to just one more sale compared to 2016.  All other area municipalities have and continue to track well below last year with the results being as follows:  Clearview -29%, Collingwood -17%, Grey Highlands -7% Municipality of Meaford -27% and Wasaga Beach -23% .  The lack of available housing inventory has played a key role in the unit sales decreases we have experienced throughout 2017.

  Area condo sales have also softened from earlier in the year.  To the end of November, MLS® condo sales total 503 units for the year compared to 514 last year, a modest decrease of 2%.  MLS® vacant land sales have remained robust in 2017 driven by the fact there has been ample inventory.  Vacant land sales for the year total 332 properties up 9% from the 304 sales reported in 2016.

  Heading into the holiday season, sales in December traditionally start to slow then ramp up again in January.  I predict that in 2018, we will continue to see a market whereby demand exceeds the supply, inventory levels will remain soft and pricing stable.  With changes to the mortgages rules coming in January and  with cooler heads now prevailing, we may not see the crazy pace of sales that we experienced in the first four or five months of 2017 but that's okay.  Speaking both as a consumer and a REALTOR®, excess is never a good thing when it comes to real estate,  Only time will tell what market conditions we will experience in 2018.  The demand for area properties is not expected to diminish, hopefully we will see an increase in housing inventory resulting in more balanced market conditions of everyone. 

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


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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.