Thursday, October 29, 2015

Has Collingwood Reached the Tipping Point For Affordable Housing

Last year at this time I was actively campaigning for a seat on Collingwood Council which I ultimately  lost by a very narrow margin.  I choose to throw my hat in the running for many reasons not the least of which was Collingwood's overall financial health.  This included taxation, spending, job creation and affordable housing.  As a full time REALTOR®  I am well versed in these matters and as I reflect on current real estate market activity, I can't help but ask myself has Collingwood reached a tipping point in terms of being both an attractive and affordable place to live?
 Year to date MLS® single family home sales in Collingwood to the end of September are up a mere 2.6% 278 this year compared to 271 in 2014 at a time when the total MLS® market is up 16.1%. By comparison single family home sales are up 12.7% in Clearview, 22.6% in the Blue Mountains and 30.2% in Wasaga Beach.  There have been 15% fewer homes MLS® listed for sale in Collingwood in 2015 but this is consistent with the market overall. The fact is 66% of MLS® listed single family homes in Collingwood have sold in 2015 compared to a list-to-sale ratio of 55% in the market overall so the weak sales performance can't be blamed on lack of inventory. Lastly, the 12 month average price for a single family home in our overall market has risen 7.2% whereas in Collingwood the increase is just 5.2%.  In every sense, MLS® real estate activity in Collingwood is lagging behind the overall market in a year when we are on track to have record MLS® sales activity.

  The 12-month average price for a single family home in Collingwood at the end of September was $365,000.  The 2015 tax bill for a house of this "assessed value" in Collingwood would be $4,543.  For a home with this assessed value that's a property tax bill that is 10.8% more than Cleaview Township, 25.8% more than WasagaBeach and 33.9% higher than in the Blue Mountains.  Could Collingwood's property taxes be playing a role in this year's lagging in-town real estate market?  You tell me, I look forward to your comments.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Are We Are Losing Our Rural Charm?

  A year ago at this time I was campaigning earnestly during the Municipal election for a seat on Collingwood Council.  Although I garnered over 3,300 votes, about 700 votes more than what was previously needed to get elected as a Councillor, I fell about 39 votes short and was needles-to-say disappointed.

  My desire to run for Collingwood Council and personal campaign platform was based on three main issues. Prudent fiscal management of the Town's finances, the need for a strong economic development plan and lastly, thoughtful and consistent land use planning. As a full time REALTOR® I have a keen awareness of what draws people to this area. Whether it's for recreational purposes or as a full time resident still working or retiring, the lifestyle features of the area are something we can't take for granted.  More importantly we can't lose the very reason why people want to come here in the first place and every effort needs to be made to preserve that.

  Most of you are aware that development is happening all around us.  It can't be stopped but it can and needs to be managed in order to preserve the very reason why so many choose to come here to live, work and or play.

The Town of Thornbury in the Blue Mountains is desperately in need of and is getting a new grocery store which is currently under construction.  Also in the construction phase is a new liquor store, convenience store and gas bar.  No one would argue the need for these new retail amenities but my question is why are they being built so close to Highway 26?
Short of the absence of razor-wire, the north wall of Loblaws along First Street in Collingwood looks like a federal correction facility and across the road we have the new Rexall drug store building towering over the street.

  As per these photos, the same transformation is taking place in Thornbury. These imposing new retail structures structures are literally on the shoulder of the road and with a gas bar under construction across the road I can't help but think it will be like driving through a tunnel.  Is this good planning by the developer or the municipality?  Will this enhance or detract from the small town rural atmosphere of Thornbury?  Notwithstanding the close proximity of these buildings to the road, I hope their exterior facades will at least reflect a look indicative of the area versus the repetitive big box urban design brand that we see in virtually every so called "Smart Centre" closer to the GTA.

There's a lot of creative talent out there and with computer aided design, I think we can and need to do better in both our planning and overall design standards.  I welcome your thoughts and opinions.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Area Real Estate Sales Reach a New High For August

 While real estate activity typically slows somewhat during July and August due to family vacation plans and other summer activities, the demand for area real estate has nonetheless remained very strong.

 MLS® sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR) in August totalled $76.5 million a 13% increase over August 2014 setting a new high water mark for the highest dollar volume ever during the month of August.  Conversely, new listing activity in August was down as has been the case all year.  New MLS® listings coming to market in August reflected a 25% decrease over August 2014 with 350 listings reported compared to 469 last year. The only threat to the ongoing strength in area sales appears to be the lack of available housing inventory coming onto the market.  While we have seen significant sales increases every month during 2015, since the first
quarter these increases have continued to get progressively smaller
each month.

 MLS® dollar sales year-to-date of $546.6 million reflects a 22% increase over last year while year-to-date unit sales are up 15%. New listing activity has decreased 16% from 2014 with 3,247 new MLS® listings coming to market in 2015 compared to 3,880 last year.  The market has decidedly shifted more in favour of sellers with those listing their properties for sale finding themselves with far fewer competing listings for potential buyers to choose from.

 Year-to-date MLS® single family home sales are up 16% with Wasaga Beach posting the strongest demand out of all area municipalities. Single family home sales in Wasaga Beach through the end of August are up 30% compared to one year ago. Results in other parts of our market are mixed, with home sales in the Municipality of  Meaford up 14%, the Blue Mountains up 11%, and Clearview Township ahead 6% over 2014.  Single family home sales year-to-date are down roughly 2% in both Grey Highlands and Collingwood. Please keep in mind these results are for MLS® listed properties most of which are re-sales and do not include sales made by developers for new homes in the area.

  Area MLS® condominium sales are up 14% through the end of August with 324 sales reported in 2015 compared to 285 unit sales in the first eight months of 2014.  The demand for vacant land has made a strong resurgence in 2015 with vacant land sales up a hefty 32% over 2014's sales.

  As per the accompanying chart, sales in every price range are showing gains over 2014 but this is especially true from $300,000 to $500,000 where sales are up 35% from one year ago.  As area prices continue to rise, we are seeing fewer and fewer annual sales in the lower price ranges.  This speaks to the demographics of the buyers coming to this area with many coming from somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area in search of a secondary property for weekend use or those that are coming here for either a lifestyle change or to retire.  The 12-month average price for a single family home in our market has risen to $342,800 in 2015 compared to $324,900 this time last year an increase of 5.5%.  This increase in average price is being driven not so much by inflation but by the significant increase in the number of sales taking place in the upper price ranges of the market.

 Heading into the fall market and with another ski season approaching, I expect we will see further sales gains but at a slower rate than what we have experienced during the first 8 months of the year. As stated earlier, the only negative aspect affecting sales right now is not the alleged presence of a nation-wide or global recession, the uncertain outcome of the upcoming federal election or other far reaching factors but the sheer reduction in available housing inventory to meet the seemingly insatiable demand for Southern Georgian Bay area real estate.

  General market statistics such as those contained herein do not always tell the full story as it may pertain to your particular real estate situation.  For a no obligation discussion and review of your particular real estate goals please feel free to Contact Me.    


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.