Thursday, March 17, 2016

Area Real Estate Sales Up 44% in February

The momentum we experienced in the local real estate market in 2015 has carried over into 2016 with year-to-date area real estate sales to the end of February posting a significant gain over the first two months of last year.

  Unit MLS® sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® for the first two months of 2016 are up 26% with 288 sales made compared to 229 last year.  MLS® dollar volume is up even higher reflecting a 30% increase with $106 million in properties sold year-to-date.  Whiles sales in January were equal to the prior year.  MLS® unit and dollar sales in February were up a healthy 44% and 55% respectively.  It is worth noting that due to the severity of last winter, sales during the first two months of 2015 were depressed due to bad weather and driving conditions making property showings difficult and on some occasions the ability to get here from outside the area all but impossible. The weather this winter has been the polar opposite thus helping to better facilitate real estate showings thus stimulating sales activity.   

  As we have mentioned previously, with a healthy economy, low interest rates and positive consumer confidence, the only significant threat to area real estate sales is the apparent lack of inventory.  Despite a 15% increase in MLS® unit sales during 2015, the number of new MLS® listings that came to market in 2015 was down 15%.  This same trend has carried over into 2016 with new MLS® listing activity down 14% for the first two months of the year.  For sellers, there has never been a better time to list their homes for sale.  While less frequent than a few months ago, multiple offers are still prevalent especially in the high demand lower price ranges.  Overall, strong prices at all levels of the market are being paid for properties that are well priced and present themselves favourably.  

  Year-to-date MLS® sales are particular strong in the $200,000 to $500,000 price ranges.  MLS® unit sales between $200,000 and $350,000 are up 42% through the end of February with 128 properties sold, sales of 61 properties in the $350,000 to $500,000 ranges also reflects a 42% increase over the first two months of last year.   Sales of properties in the upper end price ranges continue to remain very robust especially in the $800,000 to $1 million range with year-to-date sales of 7 properties compared top just 3 in the same time period last year.  Sales over $1 million are slightly ahead of 2015 with 8 MLS® sales reported compared to 7 during the first two months of 2015.

  Year-to-date MLS® single family home sales are up 15% to the end of February, condominium sales are running slightly ahead of last year up 3% while vacant land sales have risen have 56%.  Vacant land sales during the past year have turned around significantly no doubt due in part to the lack of available housing inventory listed for sale.

  In terms of MLS® listed residential single family home sales, not all area municipalities are experiencing the same degree of demand.  Clearview Township is experiencing a very strong demand with year-to-date sales of 19 homes reflecting a 137% increase over last year.  Sales in Wasaga Beach are up 70% while Collingwood has posted a 14% increase.  Year-to-date, MLS® single family home sales in all other area municipalities are below where they were at this time last year.  Municipality of Meaford sales are down 64%, Grey Highlands sales are down 50% and sales in the Blue Mountains are down 29% from one year ago.

  With spring fast approaching, we will see the typical seasonal upturn in MLS® listing activity.  Many sellers firmly believe their property show more favourable in the better weather and rightly so.  Hopefully the coming months will see a closer relationship of new listings to sales as the lack of properties listed for sale is the only real threat we currently see that could derail the current insatiable demand for southern Georgian Bay area real estate. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why You Should Ignore Average Home Prices Reported By The Media

  I must confess that ever since I got into real estate I have had a love affair with statistics.  In my prior corporate jobs I was expected every month to know and explain the "numbers" for the businesses that I was running from sales budgets to profit or loss statements.  Since entering real estate, I am always being stopped in the grocery store or on the street by people asking how's the real estate market and most of my peers regard me as being the "stats guy."  When asked about how the market is performing I feel people are entitled to more than just an unsubstantiated answer such as "great" or "it's booming" or "things are a little slow right now" and so on.  That's why my Facebook page and this blog will always contain a fair amount of statistical information about both local real market activity and the market across Canada as well.
  For years I have had a real problem with the term "average price."  It's a meaningless number yet it is a number touted all too often by the media. In my opinion it misleads the public about the equity they have in their homes suggesting that changes to "average" home prices in various markets reflects increases or decreases in the value people have in their houses. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our local real estate association the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which I am a Past President has always refrained from including "average" pricing statistics in our media releases.
  The average price is simply obtained by dividing the total dollar volume of sales for a given period such as a month by the number of sales in the month. Example:  During this past January there were 24 single family homes sold in Collingwood yielding an "average" sale price of $409,127, which represents a 2.1% increase over the "average" price from December.  If I merely add two more sales to January one at $250,000 and one at $300,000, the "average" price slips from $409,127 to $398,800.  That's a drop in the "average" price of 2.5%.  Does than mean your Collingwood home dropped in value by 2.5% or over $10,000?  Of course not thus this highlights the pointless nature of discussing "average" prices.  
  To better address the issue of price appreciation or depreciation, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) developed the MLS® HPI (Home Price Index), a concept modelled after the Consumer Price Index.  The MLS® HPI measures the rate at which housing prices change over time taking into account the type of homes sold. Before the original HPI was introduced in 1996,  REALTORS® and the public relied on monthly average pricing statistics to understand trends in housing prices.  Averages, however, can be very misleading as I have demonstrated since the quantity and quality of the properties sold in any given area change over time for any number of reasons.  As a result, average prices can fluctuate dramatically, making the housing market appear unstable. 

  The next time you hear the media talking about "average" home prices as television newscasts often do, my recommendation is to change the channel.  Your home is perhaps the most valuable asset you own.  To get a true sense as to it's current value, contact a REALTOR® and ask them to prepare a detailed comparable market analysis showing you what you home is worth based on other comparable sales in your area.  The MLS® Home Price Index is a good indicator as to the changes taking place in the market but even then it's changes over time and one or two months doesn't reflect a trend that you should be concerned with.   
  If you have any question about this topic and any other real estate related issues, please feel free to Contact Me, I would love to offer you help without obligation in meeting your real estate goals.   

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Camera Drones - A Cool Gadget But It Comes With Potential Liabilities

  As with many things if life these days, real estate is an ever changing entity.  Shifting economic and market conditions, revised legislative requirements and the changing whims of buyers and sellers all play a role in impacting how we market and sell properties. 

  Perhaps the biggest change of all in our industry however has come from advances in technology.  One of the latest technological breakthroughs has been the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) commonly referred to as drones.   Much the same as the GoPro camera craze that hit the market a few years ago, drones are quickly becoming the rage with photo enthusiasts looking to take their picture taking creativity to new heights and they were one of the hot gift items this past Christmas.

  Myself along with others in my office were some of the early adopters in using drone photography to market properties.  The picture on the header of this blog site was shot with a drone and the accompanying photo is a drone hovering in the yard of one of my listings.  Drones are excellent way to not only showcase a home, but they also serve to show the home's neighbourhood and surrounding area which is especially effective in a rural setting.  There is a dark side however to using drones commercially and this comes in the form of potential liabilities for property and or other damages resulting from the improper use of drones.

  If you are thinking about purchasing a drone here are some things to consider. First Transport Canada requires that any person(s) using a drone for commercial purposes such as aerial real estate photography must apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate and these are apparently not easy to get.  Transport Canada also requires that you have a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance which in today's world is a pittance, $1 million in liability insurance would be better.  As REALTORS® we are required by law to carry Errors and Omissions insurance and this does not cover drones.

  Even if you are thinking about getting a drone for recreational or pleasure use, don't be taken in by all the hype, online videos etc.  There is a new drone coming to market available for pre-order now by the name of Lily.  To launch the Lily drone you simply toss it into the air and it will follow you down a ski slope or trail on your dirt bike.  It sounds cool right? The only problem is, most ski resorts including our own Blue Mountain has strictly banned the use of personal drones on the property and commercially flown drones require their consent. 

  Camera drones open up a whole new world of picture and video taking possibilities. Our real estate brokerage Royal LePAGE Locations North has decided that drone photography is best left to the experts, those that adhere to all of the legislative and insurance requirements that have been established governing this new device.

Contact Me

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.