Thursday, March 18, 2010

Upcoming Real Estate Seminar - Saturday March 27th

Given the economic upheaval of the past year or so affecting market conditions combined with issues such as changes in lending rules, the HST and other matters, many consumers are confused or at least uncertain regarding the current real estate market. Well, help is on the way!
If real estate buying or selling is in your future plans, please plan to attend my FREE real estate seminar on Saturday March 27th. I have teamed up with Michael Stahr of the legal firm Baulke, Augaitis Stahr and the Bank of Montreal (BMO) wherein we are holding a 2 hour information session to address such issues as the following:
  • Overall market conditions in the Georgian Triangle

  • Legal issues, the HST, title insurance

  • New lending rules, mortgage products available

This session will serve to address a number of issues and concerns facing consumers with their real estate buying and seller activities. Bring us your questions and we'll provide answers or we will endeavour to do so if further research is involved. Details of the event are as follows:

Date: Saturday March 27th

Time: 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Place: Collingwood Leisure Time Club,

100 Minnesota Street, Collingwood

Free Parking, Refreshments & Door Prizes, Bring a friend!

For further information please feel free to contact me, rickcrouch@propertycollingwood,com or 705-443-1037. In the meantime I look forward to seeing you on the 27th.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Commercial Vehicles One Step Closer to Invading Your Neighbourhood!

Collingwood Council last night voted to move forward based on planning department recommendations to allow commercial vehicles to be parked in residential areas.
The recommendation that was approved would permit commercial vehicles 6.2 metres (20') in length and 2.2 metres (7') in height to be parked in residential areas but only in the driveway itself. Further and this is the kicker, larger commercial vehicles up of 7.5 metres (24') in length and 3.2 metres (10.5') will be allowed in residential areas but must be parked in rear yards and can be done so within 1 metre (3') of a property line.
This approval is a great disappointment for many residents who have been following and opposing this matter vigorously. Although not officially adopted as a by-law, passing of this recommendation makes the parking of commercial vehicles in residential areas an integral part of Collingwood's new Official Plan which will no doubt come into effect later this year.
Councillors Foley, McNabb and Mayor Carrier were absent from last night's meeting hence did not cast a vote. Other members of Council in favour of the recommendation allegedly feel that allowing commercial vehicles to park in residential areas is necessary for "economic development."
In terms of planning it would appear we have some inconsistencies with respect to the future look of our Town. We have an increased emphasis being placed on heritage preservation and some urban design standards are being contemplated both of which are aimed at enhancing the overall image and appeal of our Town and it's various neighbourhoods. At the same time, commercial vehicles now seem destined to grace residential neighbourhoods detracting from the aesthetic appeal of both individual properties as well as residential streetscapes in general. Further, Collingwood has some of the most onerous sign bylaws to be found anywhere which have even impacted REALTORS® and our use of Open House signs. What's more offensive, a real estate Open House sign that is temporarily in place for 2 or 3 hours, or a 7.5 metre (24') truck covered in signage parked nightly in your neighbour's back yard?
In addition to spending, increased taxes and other issues, the pending change allowing commercial vehicles to be parked in residential areas is surely going to spark some colourful debate during this year's municipal election campaign.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Real Estate and Money Laundering

Real Estate transactions have long been identified as a primary area where money from illicit sources has been laundered. How is this done?
Example: A would be Buyer enters into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale for which they submit a $10,000 "cash" deposit. The money is deposited into the listing real estate brokerage's trust account. The offer is conditional upon financing, a home inspection or some undertaking which eventually is not fulfilled and the Agreement becomes null and void. Both the buyer and seller sign a Mutual Release, the deal is aborted and the listing brokerage issues a cheque to the seller refunding their $10,000 deposit. Presto, the $10 grand has just been laundered.
FINTRAC, the Federal government's anti-terrorism/money laundering body charged with cracking down on and tracking the flow of illegally gotten cash, requires that REALTORS® obtain the personal identification from each and every client that we deal with. Most consumers understand this while the odd one takes some offence to this requirement, citing the "Privacy Act" as the reason they do not have to comply with providing their personal information. The Federal government's anti-money laundering terrorism legislation supersedes the Privacy Act. REALTORS® are required by law to record the personal identification of clients. This information does not go anywhere but real estate brokerages are require to maintain this information on file should a FINTRAC inspector arrive for an audit.
Do these audits happen? The answer is yes and failing to satisfy the government's requirements in this regard carries a stiff penalty. A Hamilton area real estate brokerage was fined $27,000 this past January for failing to comply with the FINTRAC requirements.
Call it Big Brother or whatever you want but the fact remains that federal law is not something to be taken lightly and completing the required FINTRAC form for each client is just one more document that needs to be completed for every real estate transaction undertaken.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The MLS® Debate Continues.....

Further to my post of Friday February 19th entitled: MLS® - What's at Fault, The System or The People? people are beginning to weight in on this hotly discussed topic. The following will link you with an audio broadcast featured on The Real Estate Investment Network™ dealing with the Competition Bureau's allegations that the MLS® system which is owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is anti-competitive.
Listen in at:

The party featured in this broadcast (Don Campbell) is not a REALTOR® but a real estate investor. He is obviously an ardent user of CREA's consumer MLS® website wherein consumers can search for properties all across Canada. Further he feels that is ultimately the victim of it's own success resulting in others outside the traditional real estate community wanting to list properties there. His claim certainly has some merit as is the most visited real estate website in Canada, typically drawing in excess of 3 million consumer visitors monthly.
One of the more commonly cited concerns of CREA pertains to the integrity of the property information contained in MLS® listings. As REALTORS® we are required to verify virtually every detail of a property listing from room sizes, to the taxes and any other fact that could materially affect a buyer's decision to purchase a particular property. As real estate practitioners we are in fact required to carry errors and omissions insurance in this regard. Too often, property details are not accurately provided and this is not a fault of MLS® but that of those that practice in the profession without exercising due diligence when listing a property for sale.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

One For The Record Books!

I read an article today detailing the sale of the most expensive home in the world.
In 2008 a Russian billionaire, allegedly the wealthiest man in Russia entered into an agreement to purchase a villa on the French Riviera that was originally built for the late King Leopold II of the Belgians. The property was valued at $750 million U.S. which was the highest price ever paid for a residence anywhere in the world. The purchase agreement included a $53 million deposit. Subsequent to entering into the agreement, the buyer's fortunes like a lot of others was impacted by the global recession and he backed out of the deal. French law does not stipulate that a buyer's deposit needs to be refunded in the event the sale is aborted. The issue went to the courts and as expected, the courts awarded the deposit to the seller. Ouch! The seller, not needing the money plans to distribute the money amongst 10 charities.
In Ontario, aborted sales can become a complex issue. A seller may want to retain a buyer's deposit for a sale that was not completed however it's not always that easy. Should the buyer or seller wish to contest the aborted purchase in court is going to cost time and money. In the meantime, the property remains tied up with the seller unable to secure another sale unless a mutual release is signed by both parties and the buyer is unlikely to do so without getting their deposit refunded. It can become a tenuous situation with neither the seller nor the buyer winning. In the case outlined above, French law clearly favours the seller and in this case, 10 charities are the one that are going to come out on top of this aborted purchase.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Area Real Estate Sales in February Remain Strong

Canada's real estate market continues to lead the country's economic rebound and sales in the Georgian Triangle are no exception. Area sales reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) continue to show greatly improved strength over this time last year. Sales in February of $29.1 million were 52% higher than in February 2009 bringing the year-to-date total to $49.6 million an increase of 53% over the first two months of last year.
Unit sales in February totaled 107 properties as compared to 77 properties sold in the same month last year, an increase 0f 39%. Year-to-date sales of 188 units represents a 46% increase over the 129 properties sold by the end of February 2009 clearly reflecting much improved market conditions.
Overall, we are seeing a reduction in listing inventory. Year-to-date the number of new listings has dropped modestly (2.0%) from 860 to 843. There has been a a sharper decline in the number of expired listings which have dropped from 640 last year to 555 this year, a decrease of 13%. As with anything, supply and demand plays a significant role in price. A significant increase in sales combined with less inventory will serve to create a more balanced market with less buyers finding themselves in perhaps a less favourably position from where they have been for the past few months.
As was the case throughout 2009, the Blue Mountains continues to lead area municipalities in sales growth. Year-to-date, 20 MLS® sales have been reported in the Blue Mountains compared to just 9 last year, an increase of 122%. Sales in other municipalities are as follows: Collingwood up 81%, Municipality of Meaford up 50%, Clearview up 29%, Grey Highlands up 25% and lastly sales in Wasaga Beach are up 21%.
With higher interest rates looming on the horizon and tighter lending rules recently improsed by the federal government, what happens in the remainder of 2009 is anyone's guess but all indications are that the first six months of the year should remain strong. Market conditions overall have not regained the same strength as shown in 2008 however slow and steady growth is much more preferable and sustainable than the frantic pace of past markets.

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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