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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015 Another Record Year For Area Real Estate

  During 2015, real estate activity across southern Georgian Bay remained very robust.  Despite a sluggish first quarter due to the severity of our 2014/2015 winter and a significant reduction in the amount of inventory listed for sale, 2015 was another year of record MLS® sales in our region.  

  MLS® sales for 2015 reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® for the markets we serve totalled $804.9 million, an increase of 21% over 2014.  Individual unit sales reflected a 15% increase with 2,386 properties sold in 2015 compared to 2,080 in 2014.  During the past year, we continued to see considerable strength in the upper end price segments of our market which explains why the increase in dollar sales of 21% outpaced the unit sales increase of 15%.  Sales over $500,000 were up 26% in 2015 with a total of 327 properties sold compared to 260 sold in 2014.  Of particular note, MLS® unit sales between $600,000 & $700,000 increased 36% with 80 sales reported.  MLS® sales between $800,000 & $900,000 totalled 32 properties, an increase of 39% while sales over $1 million of 48 properties reflected a 23% increased over the prior year and we expect this trend will continue.
 Conversely to the 15% increase we saw in MLS® sales during 2015, the number of new MLS® listings that came onto the market in 2015 reflected a 15% decrease from one year ago.  During 2015, a total of 4,347 new MLS® listings came to market compared to 5,129 in 2014.  To put this in perspective, 55% of the properties listed for sale on our local MLS® system sold in 2015 compared to 40% of MLS® listed properties selling in 2014.  On numerous occasions, properties that were well priced drew multiple offers sometimes selling for their full list price or higher.  This was particularly prevalent in the $250,000 to $400,000 price range where demand seemed to be the strongest.  This phenomena is more commonly found in the hyper active Greater Toronto real estate market but with a strong demand and reduced housing inventory, the scenario played out often in our area last year shifting the market more in favour of sellers than buyers.

 Single family home sales across our region were up 11% in 2015 with 1,742 MLS® sales reported while area MLS® sales for condominiums of 474 units represented a 7% increase over 2014.  Vacant land MLS® sales which had been languishing in recent years saw a resurgence as well in 2015 with total MLS® vacant land sales up 30% from the prior year.   

  Most area municipalities saw a year-over-year increase is single family home sales, most notable of which was WasagaBeach.  MLS® sales in Wasaga Beach totalled 568 homes, an increase of 28% from 2014.  This was followed by MLS® home sales in the Blue Mountains which were up 17%.   The Municipality of Meaford saw a 12% increase while single family home sales in Collingwood were up a more modest 5%.  By comparison, Clearview Township and the Municipality of Grey Highlands had decreased single family home sales of -5% and -14%  respectively in 2015.  

  It is important to note that the aforementioned statistics reflect MLS® market activity as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® and do not include sales made directly by builders and or developers of non-MLS® listed properties.  Most area municipalities have new single family home and or condominium projects currently under way which when added to the strong MLS® sales activity we are experiencing, further illustrates the allure our area has.  This will further serve to drive the demand for real estate as we head into 2016.  Notwithstanding a downturn in our overall economy, significantly higher interest rates or other as yet unforeseen factors, the only issue we seemingly face which could slow down sales is the lack of available inventory to meet the growing demand.  

There has never been a better time to maximize the equity you have in your area property. Contact me for a no obligation assessment as to the value of your home, chalet or condominium.

Monday, December 21, 2015

How To Win Fans & Succeed

  Being in the real estate profession is not an easy gig but in today's competitive world, nothing is. No matter what your vocation or line of business is, you no doubt have lot's of competition vying for the same customers as you.  Acquiring and retaining customers is not easy, so why do so many businesses put so little emphasis into providing good,customer service ? Throughout my varied career, I have always tried to be the best I can be and most of my employers have operated with the same philosophy and it has served me well.

  Meeting your customer's expectations is no longer good enough, you must exceed them.  In business, word-of-mouth can be your best ally or your worst enemy and this has never more important as it is today. In the non-digital era of days gone by, a customer's experience, good or bad was shared with family and or friends at the dinner table, the office water cooler or a cocktail party.  Today, that same experience good or bad is shared online and within minutes the whole world knows.  Residing in a small town, business can be even more difficult trying to capture customers, the level of business and revenue you need to be profitable.

  Living in a small town I have always tried to patronize the local merchants. This past week I visited a local retailer, a small specialty shop where I was looking to purchase a replacement part for a home appliance. The part is nothing special, it comes in a variety of sizes/styles and is sold in many stores around Collingwood.  Nonetheless, I chose to go to the speciality store thinking that they probably had the best inventory for what I needed. As it turned out, I was dead wrong.

  First, they did not have the specific part in question I required.  I asked if they could order it for me and they said yes but they they would need the model number of my appliance which is understandable although I had the old part with me which contained a part number.  Home I went to get the model number.  I then called the store not once but three times over the next half hour and every call went into voicemail which I thought odd for a retail store.  I returned to the store with the model number written on the back of my business card and asked them to order two of the parts for me so I would have a spare.

  Within 10 to 15 minutes I had a call from the store advising me that they couldn't get the part I needed claiming that the appliance manufacturer did not sell that piece alone and that you had to buy a whole assembly.  Bull---t! In less than 10 minutes I found the part I needed online and ordered two.

  The store in question resides in Collingwood's Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA).  Every year, the BIA spends thousands of dollars trying to attract customers to Collingwood's downtown core.  Ironically, for the sake of a $5.00 part, one of their members has alienated me to the point that I will never again darken their door.  I guess for a $5.00 part I am not worth much effort but the store in question sells products worth hundreds of dollars and someday I will need one.  When leaving the store on my second visit I helped an elderly couple with the door and they mumbled something about having to come three times from Wasaga Beach to get their issue looked after.  Obviously I was not alone in having some difficulty with this particular merchant.

  My personal belief is that you invest today for business tomorrow.  Facebook is not the only entity that needs "fans," we all do and that takes some effort.  Clearly not everyone or every business subscribes to this theory and they will ultimately be the victim by their own hand.

 Happy Holidays to one and all and Best Wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016.

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.