Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays to One and All!

Myself and all my counterparts at Royal LePage in Collingwood wish all of you a very happy holiday season and all the best for a healthy and prosperous 2009!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blue Mountain's Sister Resort Opens New Peak 2 Peak Gondola

Whistler Blackcombe one of the Intrawest sister resorts to Blue Mountain recently opened their new Peak 2 Peak condola system in BC. Spanning a recording breaking distance of 4.4KM or 2.7 miles, this span is 3 times greater than that of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. Although this new gondola traverses a substantial horizontal distance, it gains little elevation and as such uses 50% less energy that some of the other lifts at the resorts. The new lift features 28 "Sky Cabins" that will ferry passengers between the top of Whistler and Blackcombe mountains in approximately 11 minutes allowing skiers faster access to more terrain without the need to drive from one mountain to the other. In addition, it will open up more areas of the mountains for non-ski season tourists to explore as well further expanding the resorts attraction as a four season holiday destination. If any of you have the opportunity to experience this amazing new attraction at Whistler Blackcombe this winter, we look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A New Local Industry is Born!

An intriguing new business is taking root in the Beaver Valley. Long known as one of the prime areas in the province for growing apples, the Beaver Valley is now home to a novel new crop, "grapes." Georgian Hills Vineyards, owned by one of my clients, local wine expert/consultant Robert Ketchin, and partners John Ardiel and Murray Puddicombe, have planted vineyards at two different locations outside of Thornbury with the ultimate vision of establishing a full fledged winery in the Georgian Bay area.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a wine tasting at their property located on Grey Road 2 at Victoria Corners. Several red and white wines were available to sample for those in attendance and in talking to the owners, you get a real perspective of what a science and art the wine making trade is. The accompanying photo shows the harvesting of grapes for the firm's "ice wine" which was done last Thursday. The firm currently has about 5,000 vines planted in 2004 on 5 acres at Ardiel's orchard property outside of Thornbury. These vines are now producing 12 tons of grapes each year. A further 14,000 or so vines were planted on 12 of the 50 acres owned by Georgian Hills at Victoria Corners and it is estimated that these vines will be producing a full vintage crop by 2010. The grapes are currently shipped to a winery in the Niagara region for the actual wine production handled by experienced winemaker Lindsay Puddicombe. For further information on this exciting new venture and the wines they have available. visit the Georgian Hills website or contact Robert Ketchin at:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Had Enough "Negative" News?

About this time last year, I took a two day media training course as part of my role as President of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board. The facilitators of this course were Fraser Kelly and Peter Feniak, two well known Canadian media personalitites. Both of these two men have extensive backgrounds in TV with CBC, Global TV, CTV and other media. They offer in-depth training to business leaders and others that are often thrust unsuspectedly into the "public-eye" whether you want to be or not. They made no bones about the fact that the media in general will focus on the negative as that's what sells and secondly that the media will attempt to put you on the spot and will twist and or distort the message you are attemtping to say.
There is certainly no shortage of negative fodder these days and one must question if journalists and other media types are having a much easier time of practicing their trade. The current issue of McLeans Magazine includes a second article pertaining to Canada's real estate market. Once again, author Jason Kirby is attempting to draw a parallel between Canada and the current real estate crisis south of the border saying it could happen here.
No doubt some Canadians are over-extended with their current mortgages but as has been noted before, Canada's financial system and lending practices have been more rigid than that of our neighbours to the south. Real estate in the Georgian Triangle has sold well over the past 4 or 5 years. Yes we have seen an increase in property values but nothing like the run-up in prices in markets such as Calgary and Vancouver. Buyers that are anxiously waiting for area prices to drop 10% or 20% may be disappointed. Year-to-date, the "average" residential price in our area has dropped just 2.9% stemming largely from the fact that higher-end home sales this year have fallen in excess of 20% over last year. Without significant unit sales of higher priced properties, the average price is not being articially propped up this year giving credance to the claim that prices in our market have yet to fall by any appreciable amount. For 2009 the Canadian Real Estate Association is forecasting a 2.1% decrease in the "average" home price nationally. Sure, some markets will see price reductions greater than that but given the fact that the number of homes for sale is predicted to drop creating a more balanced market combined with the ongoing demand for property in this area for retirement and or recreational purposes, I suspect that our market will not be one of them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Town of the What?

Effective immediately the Town of the Blue Mountains has dropped the use of "Town of" in the municipality's name. When the Township of Collingwood and the town of Thornbury amalgamated a few years ago the combined municipalities became known as "Town of the Blue Mountains." This seemed like quite a mouthful then and has become no less cumbersome in the ensuing years. In a recent news release it was stated that the municipality had "matured" and as such the use of the phrase "Town of" was no longer appropriate. Thank goodness! When dealing with real estate clients from outside the area, it was always a challenge both in terms of language but also geographically, trying to define the area that encompassed this overly wordy phrase whereas everyone has heard of Blue Mountain. I believe Canada Post was also having trouble dealing with and trying to decipher the multitude of address variations they were seeing on mail destined for "what is the name of that place again?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are You Satisfied With Your 2009 Property Tax Assessment?

Property owners throughout Ontario have recently received their 2009 property assessment from The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC.) With these assessments, the date of valuation used for your 2009 assessment is January 1, 2008. The 2008 value will establish the basis of assessment from 2009 to 2012. Increases in value above the 2005 assessed values will be phased in over a four year assessment cycle using an increase of 25% per year. This phase-in period does not apply to assessment decreases. Decreases in property values are effective immediately for property tax purposes. This year’s assessment notice was revised to include additional information concerning the 2005 and 2008 values and phase-in details.
The average increase in property values across Ontario for the 2009 assessment was 20%. This will be phased in at a rate of 5% per year until 2012 for property tax purposes. Unlike in the past, the assessor now has the obligation to prove that their assessment is correct whereas in the past, it was the taxpayer that had to prove their assessment was inaccurate. The deadline date for application for Request for Reconsideration is now March 31, 2009. The deadline date for appeal of assessments is March 31, 2009. For further assessment information with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation's website.

Friday, December 5, 2008

November Real Estate Sales Soften

Property sales throughout the Georgian Triangle continued to soften in November wherein monthly sales revenue fell 63% from the level reached in November 2007. MLS® sales for November totalled $20.7 million, down from the $56.1 million in sales for November last year. Year-to-date area sales to the end of November now stand at $424.6 million, a decrease of 22% from the $545.0 million reached in the first 11 months of last year.
In 2007 our area attained record MLS® sales of $572.1 million and I predict 2008 will see total sales dollars come in somewhere around $440.0 to $450.0 million which is still a respectable level given the fact that this does not include the sales of new homes and condominiums which are done directly by developers.
Collingwood this year continues to outperform all area municipalities in terms of sales activity. To the end of November, 236 properties have sold through MLS® versus 260 last year, a decrease of just 9.2% which is well below the overall market decline. All other area municipalities from Wasaga Beach through Clearview, Town of the Blue Mountains and Meaford are down anywhere from 10.7% to 33.3%. If you are in the market to sell you home, accurate "market pricing" is the key to your selling success.

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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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