Thursday, July 24, 2008

Councillor Chadwick "Flamed"

The article in the July 23rd edition of the Enterprise-Bulletin entitled "Chadwick's blog, speed bumps criticized at council" is long overdue. Councillor Chadwick's use of his personal blog to continually attack the Mayor and and now criticize Town staff is unprofessional to say the least. If this type of behaviour was exhibited by an employee in the private sector world, you'd get a severance package handed to you pretty quick. It's hypocritical to denounce his fellow Council membcrs and criticize Town employees via his blog while constantly claiming that the Mayor does nothing to promote a co-operative and cohesive "team" effort at the Council table. Congratulations to Mayor Carrier, Councillor Edwards and Public Works Director Ed Houghton for standing up to and "flaming" this Council member as the EB article stated. Unless I am mistaken, this two time Councillor was hardly given a ringing endorsment by the voters in the last two elections finishing last on the list candidates to obtain his place at Council. Hopefully should he elect to run again, the voters of Collingwood will be the ones to "flame" him the next time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Rules for Government Backed Mortgages

Although the Canadian real estate market has softened in recent months, its overall condition is nowhere near the current if not worsening plight of the U.S. market. The sub-prime mortgage mess south of the border is the result of lending practices that are not part of the Canadian mortgage landscape and the Government of Canada has annouced further rules to ensure that it never does.
Amongst the new lending measure that will come into effect are:

1.) The maximum amortization period for new government backed mortgages is capped at 35 years.
2.) A minimum down payment of five (5) percent is required for all new government backed mortgages.
3.) A new minimum "consistent" credit score requirement has come into effect along with new loan documentation standards.

While attending a real estate conference in the U.S. where considerable dialogue took place regarding the melt-down of the sub-prime mortgage market, it was learned that in many instances credit checks were not done on borrowers. Even worse, lenders granted mortgages without obtaining verification of the borrower's income. In many instances a borrower simply signed the mortgage application after which the lender filled in the person's income to whatever level was required to secure the desired mortgage amount.
The new regulations come into effect this October and only apply to new mortgages. Private mortgage lenders/insurers are still free to offer mortgages with amortization periods of 40 years and 100% mortgage financing should they so desire however the lack of government backing on these loans will result in higher risk and increased costs to consumers in order to insure these loans.
Through these initiatives, the government intends to ensure that the Canadian housing market remains strong while reducing the risk of a U.S. style housing castastrophy, something for which we will all benefit.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Buying A Recreational Property

A large segment of the Georgian Triangle treal estate market consists of buyers looking to purchase a recreational property. No longer known primarily for skiing, Collingwood and the surrounding area offers a true four season recreational lifestyle making it the ideal location to purchase a recreational condominium, chalet, waterfront home or other property to use year round.

Buying a recreational property differs significantly from the purchase of a full time home. If you are contemplating a recreational property purchase I am please to offer the following video via Royal LePage TV "Tips On Buying A Recreational Property" detailing some of the considerations you need to be familiar with regarding the purchase of recreational real estate. More importantly, utilizing the services of a competent REALTOR® will ensure that any Agreement of Purchase and Sale you submit, will contain the necessary conditions and clauses relative to the various issues that need addressing prior to firming up your purchase.
At Royal LePage, Helping YOU is What We Do!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ceating Curb Appeal

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but when it comes to houses, the exterior can be just as important as the interior if selling or buying.
When selling, it is the outside, or the home’s curb appeal that often determines whether the inside is ever seen. How a house 'shows’ from the street can tell a potential buyer a lot about what it may be like inside. Even if the inside is the sparkling, charming, structurally sound dream home they’ve been searching for, a buyer is not going to forget a cracked driveway, fallen shutters, overgrown grass and flower beds.
That’s why most REALTORS® recommend a house not be seen for the first time at night. If you have no choice but to view homes at night, always be sure to drive past them during the daytime before making any final decisions.
For sellers, there are many ways to enhance the exterior of a home to achieve the curb appeal necessary to attract prospective buyers. Start by taking a close, objective look at your home from the curb. Be sure to view it from different angles. Ask friends and neighbors for their unbiased opinions. What are the appealing features? What’s not so appealing? What can you do to improve its appearance?
Are the shrubs untrimmed? Are there broken doors and windows, loose screens and railings? Does the exterior trim, or entire surface, need a paint job?
The interior may be clean, without a leaky faucet, cracked floor or loose door hinge in sight. But if the exterior roof, gutter, walls, driveway, garage and yard look dirty and untidy, chances are you’re not going to get a lot of potential buyers knocking at the door.
Creating curb appeal is making your home inviting from the outside—where first impressions begin. This doesn’t mean spending a great deal of money remodeling and renovating. Adding a new front verandah might add a lot of curb appeal, but so will a couple of wicker chairs and potted flowers by the front door—at a lot less cost.
Here are some more tips for making the outside of your home attractive and inviting:

Clean up the yard
Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, weed the flower beds, get rid of dead trees and shrubs; get rid of any broken lawn furniture; shovel the walk and driveway in winter; rake the yard in the fall.

Repair any problems
If the roof is damaged, repair it. Also repair any doors and windows that have loose hinges or other damage; fix storm doors and window screens; caulk window exteriors; clean and repair sidings and other structural flaws.

Eliminate clutter
If you have yard and construction debris piled up along the side of the house, or elsewhere, get rid of it. The exterior of your home should be as uncluttered in appearance as the interior. This includes cleaning out the garage - a major breeder of clutter. Be ruthless. If you haven’t used something in a year, give it to charity or recycle it.

Give siding a fresh new look
Cleaning the exterior surface is all your home may need for a fresh new face. Before rushing to paint siding, try washing it. For painted wood siding and aluminum siding, use a solution of one cup strong detergent and one quart chlorine bleach in three gallons of water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, goggles and other protective garments. Work from the bottom up and rinse thoroughly.To spruce up vinyl siding, hose it down, sponge it with a mild liquid detergent and rinse.

Use paint to brighten, re-proportion exterior
A paint job can do wonders for the exterior of a home. A low house can look more graceful and tall from the curb by emphasizing its vertical features. Paint elements such as doors, shutters and corner trim in a color that contrasts with the siding material or color. On a high home, emphasize horizontal by using a contrasting paint color on window sills and fascia boards. You can also make a tall house look lower by painting it a dark color, provided that the roof is dark too. Conversely, a light color will make a home look larger.

Co-ordinate the exterior 'look’
The more co-ordinated your house looks from the outside, the more appealing it will be. Co-ordinate the 'look’ of your home by painting the garage, tool shed, playhouse and other outdoor structures with the same color schemes as the house. If your house is a mixture of conflicting textures - vertical siding, shingles and brick, for instance—try painting them all the same color, or in two related shades of the same color, to create a harmonious look. Dark tones work best when working with conflicting textures.

Use flower power
Well-placed flowers, trees and shrubs can really make the outside of a home look inviting. Not only does attractive landscaping invite buyers, it can increase the value of a home. Even without major landscaping, flowers can make a yard look colorful and pleasant. Plant them in garden beds, hang them from railings and porch ceilings, add flower boxes to window sills. There is no limit to the power of flowers.

At night, highlight garden features with spotlights and floodlights. Well-lit paths and entrances promote safety, discourage burglars and are an added feature to any home. A pretty wreath on the door and a welcome mat will finish things off.
Note: These tips are courtesy of the writer in conjunction with the Ontario Real Estate Association.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Area Sales Decline 28% in June.

Residential sales in the Georgian Triangle declined in June marking the 4th consecutive month in 2008 of decreased sales activity compared to the same period last year. Unit sales in June were 28% lower than in June 2007 while dollar revenue dropped 29% from $63 million in June 2007 to $45 million this past month. Listings in June increased by 11% and expired listings for the month increased by 22%.
Year-to-date sales of $248.5 million are now 7% below the first six months of 2007. Residential unit sales through the end of June total 952 versus 1,050 for the first half of 2007 a decrease of 98 properties sold or 9%. At the same time, listing activity has increased by 9% with 3,188 new properties coming onto the market in the first six months of the year. Expired listings have also increased as 1,086 listings have expired through the end of June a year-to-date increase of 10%.
At this mid-way point for the year, the Town of Collingwood is the only municipality in our area with a year-to-date increase in residential sales. Through the end of June, 136 MLS® residential sales have been reported in Collingwood compared to 134 in the first six months of 2007 reflecting a modest increase of 1.5%. Other municipalities in the area have seen residential sales decreases ranging from 7% to as high as 19%. The Summary of year-to- date residential sales by municipality is as follows:
Mulmur unchanged from 2007, Municipality of Meaford -7.1%, Clearview Township -8.2%, Tiny Township and Town of the BLue Mountains both down -14.3%, Wasaga Beach -15.6% and Grey Highlands -18.9%.
Unlike prior years which saw the upper end of the market driving sales activity, 2008 thus far has seen a decrease in residential sales across most pricing segments of the market above $350,000. A total of 159 MLS® residential sales above $350,000 have taken place in 2008 versus 171 in the first six months of 2007 a decrease of 7.0%. Eight sales over $1 million have taken place this year as compared to 11 in 2007 a decline of 27.3%. The 12 month average residential sale price is holding at $283,000 up slightly from $279,000 in June of 2007.
Residential sales activity is expected to remain constant for the remainder of 2008 with greater sales activity in the low to middle price segments of the market. The high number of active MLS® property listings has created a environment where buyers have plenty of choices and this will keep price increases to a minimum thus resulting in balanced market activity for 2008.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Money Laundering Terrorist Financing Bill Takes Effect

Effective June 23, 2008 new federal money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regulations came into effect which affects REALTORS® across Canada.
Since 2001 when the Canadian government first established anti-money laundering and terrorist financing legislation, we as REALTORS® have been legally required to report any cash transactions of $10,000 and more as well as any real estate transactions that appeared suspicious in nature. This latest legislation known as BILL C-25 the federal Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA), adds significant new reporting requirements for licensed real estate Sales Representatives and Brokers.
REALTORS® are now required by law to ask for, verify and document the personal information of buyers and sellers including date of birth and occupation. This identification must be supported by some form of government issued documentation which includes a birth certificate, driver’s license, passport or residency card. Provincial health cards are not acceptable and consumers are urged not to disclose their Social Insurance Numbers for the purpose of provding ID. Further, under this new legislation REALTORS® and their respective brokerage offices are required to complete a “Receipt of Funds Record.” This document must be completed for any amount of funds received whether it is cash, cheque or any other form and must include information pertaining to the individual real estate transaction to which the funds are being applied.
In order to comply with federal law, REALTORS® must retain your personal information on file for a period of five (5) years. It will not be used in any commercial way and will not be provided to anyone except to a request by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the federal agency responsible for compliance.
These new compliance requirements which supersede the Privacy Act, is Canada’s newest legislative attempt to curtail money laundering and terrorist financing. FINTRAC collects, analyzes and discloses financial information and intelligence on suspected money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Those of us engaged in the real estateb profession along with financial institutions, lawyers, accountants and others are now required by law to assist in combating criminal activities through the use of illicit, money laundered funds. Thanks to the proliferation of organzied crime and terrorist groups known to reside in this country, it would appear that the age of innocence for Canadians is over.

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

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