Thursday, November 24, 2011

Meeting Consumer's Expectations

  First, some of my readers may have noticed that I have re-branded my blog to "Live Play - Georgian Bay."  Personally, I feel this new name better reflects what our area is all about.  Whether you are into an active, sports oriented lifestyle or prefer the "arts," the southern Georgian Bay lifestyle is what continues to attract people to this wonderful area.
  I recently attended the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Conference in Anaheim California.  This four day event drew 18,000 REALTORS® from not only the U.S. and Canada but from other parts of the world as well.  This is an excellent conference with a variety of educational sessions scheduled over four days that apply not only to issues pertaining to real estate Boards and Associations but there is also a broad variety of topics for individual REALTORS® and their respective businesses as well.
 The real estate profession like many other businesses has essentially been transformed via the Internet and the future holds even greater changes still to come.  The NAR conference offered a glimpse into the future of real estate and more importantly the various educational sessions served to educate REALTORS®
 in terms of how we need to adapt and re-invent our businesses so-to-speak, in order to meet the needs and expectations of today's consumer. 
  Humans naturally tend to resist change.  Breaking away from old habits or established ways of doing business can be a hard pill to swallow for many. Very few REALTORS® write blogs for example. It's time consuming, requires a flow of ideas and the ability to communicate via the written word.  I started the process in the fall of 2007.  Coincidentally that was after attending the NAR Conference in Las Vegas during which time blogging and social networking was somewaht in it's infancy.  Four years later and it's virtually become a necessity and or an expectation of consumers.
  I've slipped in my writing in recent weeks partly due to the fact that Google has made some changes to their platform that denied me access to my "Blogger" account.  Google is a great example of a company that continues to evolve, offering more and more services that they "bundle" together in an effort to take business away from their competition.  In future posts I will continue to elaborate on the changes taking place not only in our community but also with respect to real estate market and other issues that affect us as well.  In the meantime I'm building a Facebook Fan Page, I've started to "Tweet" via Twitter and soon you will start to see a stream of videos that I will product over the months ahead to further inform and educate my clients and followers on things that matter.  Stay tuned.....     

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Century 21 Wins Lawsuit Against Zoocasa

 For consumers, the Internet has had a very profound impact on the way in which we search for products and or services that we may be looking to procure.  Perhaps no other commodity has been so broadly impacted as real estate.  This stems partly from the fact that unlike many countries including the U.S., Canada has a nationwide MLS® system that allows consumers to universally search for properties virtually anywhere in the country.
 In Canada, the MLS® system and trademark are owned and maintained by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).  CREA maintains the consumer real estate website which hosts MLS® property listings coast-to-coast.  This site regularly draws 3 million+ visitors per month making it the most frequented consumer real estate website in Canada. 
  Given the success and far reaching impact of Canada's MLS® system, third parties have tried to replicate its success.  Individual REALTORS® as well as companies have on occasion lifted or "scraped" MLS® data from and other legitimate real estate websites for posting on their own online sites.  Often, the integrity of MLS® data and property details are compromised in the scraping process, resulting in consumers getting information on a property that may be inaccurate and or misleading
  Century 21 Canada recently won a court case against the real estate website  which is a subsidiary of Rogers CommunicationsCentury 21 successfully argued that the listing information and data was their property and essentially it is.  When sellers sign an MLS® Listing Agreement, that Agreement is essentially the property of that given real estate brokerage.  As such it is not free to be used by either individuals or companies for their own commercial gain without permission. 
  As consumers, we have come to rely quite heavily on our ability to research things online.  Whether it's for a house, car, clothing, books or whatever, online information needs to be both timely and accurate in order for it to best serve a buyer's needs.  Increasingly, consumer's permission is also needed in order to effectively post some information online.  When that information is then acquired unlawfully by a third party and posted online, accuracy is often compromised and privacy perhaps violated so Century 21's success challenge of Zoocasa's activity was justified.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Area Real Estate Sales Decline in August

Residential sales activity recorded through the MLS® System of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board came in below year-ago levels in August 2011.  Home sales numbered 147 units in August. This was a decrease of 15 per cent compared to August 2010.
  On a year-to-date basis, activity was running six per cent below level in the first eight months of 2010, but remained above levels over the same period in 2008 and 2009.  Both new and active listings are currently running at elevated levels. New residential listings numbered 455 units in August 2011, up 17 per cent from a year earlier.  There were 1,799 active residential listings on the Board’s MLS® System at the end of August 2011. This was an increase of eight per cent from levels at the end of August 2010. 
  There were 14.7 months of inventory at the end of August on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from 12.1 months in July. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
  The value of all residential transactions in August was $42.2 million, down 16 per cent from a year earlier.  Total sales numbered 173 units in August, a decrease of 14 per cent compared to the same month in 2010. The total value of all properties sold in August 2011 was $48.5 million, down 18 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
  Please feel free to contact me without obligation for information about market conditions in your specific area.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Area Real Estate Sales Strengthen in May

Following two months of significantly slower sales activity in March and April wherein sales were approximately 20% below the same months last year, area real estate sales made a stronger comeback May. 
Individual unit sales reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) in May were down 5% versus May of 2010, totaling 183 sales compared to 193 sales last year.  Sales revenue for the month of $51.2 million was 4% below the $53.5 million worth of properties sold in May of last year.  Unlike prior months where higher-end sales drove sales revenue, May saw only one sale reported over $1 million versus 3 sales of $1+ million in May 2010. Nonetheless, sales over $1 million for the year are up 44% with a total of 13 sales in this price range to date.
  Following the stronger sales activity in May, the gap in year-to-date dollar sales has narrowed.  Sales revenue through the end of May totals $211.2 million compared to $219.4 million worth of properties sold in the first five months of 2010.  Unit sales year-to-date however remain well off last year's pace with 698 individual MLS® sales reported this year versus 788 through the end of May last year, a decrease in excess of 11%.
Other than Wasaga Beach where unit sales are up 3%, every other local municipality has seen a decrease in unit sales activity year-to-date.  Clearview Township -4%, Collingwood -3%, Grey Highlands -10%, Municipality Meaford -37%, The Blue Mountains -14%.
  Overall the year appears to be shaping up much like 2009 which saw softer sales activity in the first six months of the year with very robust sales activity through the summer and fall.  The latter half of 2010 saw much weaker sales and this has obviously spilled over into 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Economic Resets

  I am just finishing reading a new book available from Collingwood's library titled The Great Reset written by Richard Florida, a leading author, economist and recognized intellectual.  The book summarizes the numerous economic downturns that have taken place during the past 100+ years and the economic "resets" that take place after each one.
  Florida regards recessions a periods of "creative destruction" which in turn serve to create periods of innovation, invention and economic risk taking that propels economies into new periods of growth and prosperity.  Amongst his many assertions, Florida claims that America's love affair with the automobile are over, with an increasing number of people choosing to live closer to where they work thus enabling them to walk, bike or take public transit to their place of employment.  Further, technology and an increased number of people seeking self employment etc. will no doubt have people working increasingly fropm home.  Florida asserts that charging people to use roads is the only way die hard car advocates with give up their vehicle in favour or alternate forms of transportation.  This sounds familiar with the City of Toronto recently talking about toll roads an idea that Mayor Rob Ford calls "nonsense."   
  The Great Reset is a good read for anyone interested in obtaining insight into the causes of our past economic downturns while examining the trends that will come about as the result of our most recent recession.  The U.S. economy continues to struggle and will for some time.  It was an economy built on over-leveraged real estate and as Florida points out, after the depression of the 1920's and 30's,  it took almost 25 years for the U.S. real estate market to return to a pre-depression level of activity.  Anyone thinking about buying U.S. real estate on the pretence that it about to go up in value better think again.  With a lagging economy and tens of thousands of foreclosed properties on the market, except for a few select markets, value appreciation  in U.S. real estate isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Royal LePage Garage Sale A Huge Success

Thanks to the quantity and quality of goods donated by our friends, clients and other supporters as well as dismal day weatherwise, Collingwood shoppers were out in full force last Saturday for our charity Garage Sale in support of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.
The benefactor of this event locally is My Friend's House and I am very pleased to report that we raised almost $3,000 for this worthy cause.  Shoppers enjoyed a good selection of merchandise including furniture, kitchenwares, books, toys, clothing and more.  Special thanks also goes to the owners of the Cranberry Mews shopping plaza for allowing us to use one of the empty units inwhich to hold the sale.
  Putting this one-day event together takes a lot of work from picking up donated items, sorting, pricing and lastly the final clean-up.  It is very gratifying to achieve the results we obtained knowing that the monies earned goes to such a worthy cause.  Again a special thanks to those that donated items for the sale, to my fellow REALTORS® at Royal LePage Collingwood and especially to those of you that came out and made a purchase.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is It Time for Gas Price Regulation?

  I receive an online summary of the top stories in the Globe and Mail newspaper via email each morning and today's lead story is titled "The Central Canada gas price puzzle."  Those of us living in Ontario and Quebec have been hammered in recent days with inexplicably high gas prices while the rest of Canada remains relatively unchanged.
  Is it long overdue for the federal government to step in and exercise some control over the pricing practices of the oil companies?  I for one think perhaps it is.  The recent spike in gas prices comes at a time when the price for a barrel of oil is well below some of the highs we have seen in the past.  The recent surge in pricing is being blamed on speculation.  Speculation?  Whose?  Name one other consumer product whose price fluctuates not only day-to-day but often several times within one day?  And since when should Canadian consumers living in a country blessed with large surpluses of oil be gouged based on speculation?  Our federal consumer watchdogs have turned a blind eye to this for years.  With the summer holiday season soon upon, unjustifiable high gas prices can and will have a profound impact on portions of the economy especially tourism and that is bound to hit us here in the Georgian Triangle.
  Regulating not necessarily gas prices but the timing and implementation of price increases is perhaps an alternative.  For those that might feel this is unreasonable or tantamount to government interference think again. Let's face it, government a different levels exercises control over the pricing of pharmaceuticals, hydro, alcohol, tobacco as well as some other goods and services.  Some of these items are less of a necessity to consumers than gasoline yet price increases must be applied for and phased in so-to-speak so as to not unduly harm consumers.
  It has become a matter of common practice for oil companies to defiantly and flagrantly disregard any thought of fair consumer practices yet quarter after quarter they report huge profits.  There is something dreadfully wrong with a system where the nightly news tells us how much we will be paying at the pump the following day when there are no mitigating circumstances to warrant such change. Huge reserves of oil and gas sit in storage tanks waiting to be distributed to consumers.  This inventory was typically produced months ago when the cost per barrel may have been much different than today and as such the cost of that inventory is not directly impacted by "speculation,"   I recently saw a cartoon where a fictitious oil company had a wheel in their boardroom similar to Wheel of Fortune.  The caption in the cartoon read: "It's time to jack up our prices to add to our record profits.  Give the wheel a spin to see what excuse we can give to the public." Although just a comic, to some degree you wonder if there isn't some element of truth to it!
  To see how much we are over-paying visit Tomorrows Gas Price Today and click on their Rip-Off Chart. The time is long overdue for some form of government intervention and that is the subject of my current online poll.  Tell us what you think.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Area Real Estate Sales - It's Looking Like 2009!

After posting gains in overall market activity in January and February, real estate sales in both March and April have weakened at a time when traditionally the market picks up with the arrival of spring.
  Unit sales in April were down 19% from April of last year while dollar revenue dropped 17%.  Year-to-date unit sales to the end of April are now 13% behind 2010 with 517 properties having sold this year as compared to 595 last year.  Sales revenue for the first four months has held up much better down just 13% driven by increased activity at the upper end of the market.  Year-to-date we have had 12 sales over $1 million reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) versus 5 sales over $1 million in the first four months of 2010.
  Following the recessionary slowdown of 2008 and 2009, sales bounced back very strongly in the first half of 2010 then fell off later in the year.  As a result, we are comparing monthly sales in the early part of 2011 to some very healthy sales activity in the first half of last year. 
  Two addtional factors that have invariably affected sales of late is the weather and the federal election. Weather during the month of April was unseasonably cool, wet and just plain dull and did little to inspire the home buying public. A more significant factor perhaps in dampening sales was the recent federal election.  The uncertainty leading into either a federal or provincial election the results of which could bring about change in economic policy and or taxation etc. is bound to halt many from making large purchasing decisions.
  The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has forecasted a drop in residential unit sales for 2011 of 1.3%.  Sales activity across the country is expected to gain momentum in the latter half of 2011 as the economic recovery continues and employment strengthens.  If this is the case, market activity in 2011 will mirror that of 2009 when sales returned with a vengence in the latter half of the year, particularly during the 4th quarter.  This far, 2011 is shaping up very much like 2009 and only time will tell if this is indeed the case.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Smartphone" Real Estate Applications to Search MLS® Listings

As mentioned in my last posting titled Social Networking and Unmarketing more and more consumers are using their smartphone to access the Internet on a regular basis thus allowing them instant access to their social networking and other sites on demand regardless of where they are. 
  In response to the increased demand for immediate and efficient Internet access for MLS® real estate listings, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has released several applications for smartphones that allows ready and convenient access to  The most recent release was for Blackberry® devices.  I have just downloaded this "app" to my own phone and it works well.  Listed below are the various smartphone "apps" that are currently available to access

Apple iPhone
Windows® Phone 7

  Coming soon is the smartphone app for "Android" based smartphones. is by far the most popular consumer reasl estate website in Canada with over 3 million visitors monthly.  On this site you will find virtually every MLS® listed residential property in Canada that are currently listed for sale.  Worth pointing out is the fact that it takes 24 to 48 hours for new listings to be uploaded from the MLS® systems of the various real estate Boards across Canada to this site.  For those that wish to access current listings live and up to the minute, you can do so on many REALTOR®  websites including my own. Just click on Search MLS® Listings.  This will give you instant access to listings that are current right to the moment without the 24 to 48 hour delay associated with .

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Social Networking and "Unmarketing"

Whether you like them, participate on one or think they are just a fad, social networking sites are here to stay.  As with other aspects of the Internet, social networking is having a profound impact on not just the personal aspect of our lives, but also on business as well.  Go to many commercial or corporate websites and icons for Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are popping up all over and for good reason as many of these sites have hundreds of millions of participants.
 Last week I participated in a webinar with a chap named Scott Stratten who has authored a book titled "Unmarketing."  Scott speaks with authority about how to market to today's consumer and has 86,000 followers on Twitter.  As with other studies I have read, marketing is no longer about screaming a message to the world about your product(s) and or service(s).  It's about engaging and developing a relationship with consumers, sharing your expertise in a subtle way, providing them with information that is beneficial to them and without obligation, thus creating an image, brand or reputation for yourself long before you ever meet your readers or followers should that day ever come.
  According to Mr. Stratten, one of the fastest growing demographics on social networking sites are those individuals that are 50 plus.  In contrast to this, a study conducted by The American Affluence Research Center found that more than half of the U.S. affluent say they do not participate in any type of social media.  You would perhaps think that the affluent would be those in the 50 plus age range but not necessarily so.  Many of today's wealthy are younger, having made their money in a technology, financial or other field(s).  The U.S. ranks third in terms of smartphone usage with 91% or in excess of 284 million Americans owning an iPhone, Blackberry or similar device thus enabling them to access the Internet and or share information and data on-the-fly.  A phone is no longer a phone in the traditional sense.
  In terms of real estate, many of us engaged in the profession are turning more and more to "unmarketing."  According to Mr. Stratten the only person that cares about our picture on a business card, For Sale sign, bus bench or elsewhere is ourselves and I couldn't agree more.  If you are in business for yourself as am I, the only thing to think about is your client(s) or potential client(s).  If it is not going to be of benefit or value to them, don't do it!  Too many marketing initiatives today are all about self gratification with REALTORS® and other commissioned salespersons perhaps being the guiltiest of all. In the new age of marketing and PR "Unmarketing" will win you more points with consumers but that in itself will be a hard sell with many that are mired in the old way of doing things 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where Have All The Great Leaders Gone?

Last evening the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce of which I am both a member at large as well as part of the executive, held an all-candidates meeting for the upcoming federal election.  As was expected, the Legion was packed to a standing room only crowd prompting many to ask is there somewhere larger in Town to hold this.  The simple answer is no.  Short of the Eddie Bush arena Collingwood lacks a venue to hold and event of this size.  Other observations I overhead by those in attendance was the lack of younger people in the audience.  By far the majority of those present (myself included) were 50+.  I have noted this at other community events of this type leading me to believe that perhaps the younger residents in town are simply too busy with work, family or other commitments to attend politcal or other events that involve issues pertaining to the community or in the case of a federal election, the country.  Perhaps they just don't care and that may stem from a lack of confidence in both the political process and in those individuals that choose to run for political office.
  In a prior posting I posed the question where have all the great leader's gone? Last night's meeting certainly did nothing to answer that question.  After two hours of listening to the candidates answering questions from local members of the media, there were some choices removed from the group but at the same time no out-front winners.  I must admit that Helena Guergis came off "sounding" the best, no doubt due in part to her past experience, her political savvy and the fact that she is fighting for her reputation and job.  The Liberal candidate Alex Smardenka simultaneously pulled out a gun, dropped in a bullet and shot himself with his comment about PC Candidate Kellie Lietch when he essentially said "...we don't need a rich doctor with her million dollar home being parachuted in to the riding....."  That comment drew prolific boos from the audience no doubt costing Mr. Smardenka signifiant votes in the room if he had many to begin with.  It was equally disappointing when later in the evening instead of taking the high road,  Dr. Leitch took an almost equal swipe at the Liberal candidate as payback.  And what's with the Dr. title?  Does anyone really care?  Her skills as a pediatric surgeon are admirable but for the most part are irrelevent to the political job at hand.  My father was a doctor (a dentist) and while he was proud of his profession it was a title that outside of his business dealings, he never used. 
  Election day (May 2nd) is fast approaching and like many I remain unsure as to how I will vote.  I must confess I have never aligned myself with any particular party instead, choosing to vote for the individual I feel is best suited for the position.  Different times require different measures so in my opinion there is no one party that offers a fix-all solution for everything. Last evening was helpful in ruling out some choices but came no closer to answering the question where have all the great leaders gone?    

Monday, April 18, 2011

Market Conditions We Can't Control

After a somewhat soft sales month in March, real estate activity through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB)thus far in April appears to be running at a pace relatively consistent with April of last year.  Several things are undoubtedly holding the market back a bit right now one is the weather and to some degree, the upcoming federal election.
  Weather definitely plays a role in our market as it has a bearing on the weekend traffic we attract to the area.  Skiing is essentially over and with the current cold snowy weather, golf and other recreational activities associated with spring are not yet underway so we are definitely in the mid-season doldrums.  We see this reduced traffic through weak attendance at Open Houses and in reduced showing requests for listed properties.  
  Historically, any pending election will certainly impact the buying decisions of many consumers contemplating a major purchase.  A change in government may lead to economic, taxation or other changes creating a cautionary mood that shifts buyers into "neutral."
  Another factor impacting our market activity is the pace of sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as a good portion of today's buyers are coming from the GTA and other parts south of us. In speaking with clients on the weekend that reside in Toronto, the market there has temporarily slowed as well and until that improves, the impact will continue to resonate up here.  Further, due to the recreational nature of our market, a good portion of real estate sales in this area are discretionary in nature so often tere is no sense of urgency with buyers to purchase. 
  As I have told seller clients on numerous occasions, we can't create buyers.  We endeavour to implement the most aggressive marketing plan we can in order to expose a property to potential buyers but those buyers have to be our there. In some cases at certain points in time buyers are noticeably absent and often through conditions or circumstances beyond the control of any of us. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Royal LePage Annual Charity Garage Sale

The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is Canada’s largest public foundation dedicated exclusively to funding women’s shelters and violence prevention and education programs.  Since 1999, this foundation has raised more than $10 million  to help women and children across Canada.      
  Saturday May 14th is the date for this year's National Shelter Foundation Garage Sale.  My counterparts and I here Royal LePage in Collingwood are once again particiapting in this event.  100% of the proceeds will go to My Friend's House here in Collingwood and we graciously asked you to support us in this worthy cause.
  The event will be held at the new Cranberry Mews commercial plaza located on the west side of Highway 26 by Cranberry Resort.  Donations of unwanted furniture, clothing, toys, household items etc. may be made daily by dropping them off at Unit #405 located at the far south end of the plaza.  If you have larger items such as furniture etc. to donate with no way of getting them there, please feel free to contract me or on my cell phone at 705-443-1037 and we can arrange to have them picked up.
  We are looking forward to having a very successful sale hoping to raise even more money this year for this great cause.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Area Real Estate Sales Soften in March

  After posting strong sales in January and February, real estate activity reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) softened in March with 155 properties changing hands during the month versus 199 in March 2010, a decrease of 22%. Sales volume in March also declined with a total of $48.5 million worth of MLS® listed properties selling as compared to $56.7 million in the same month last year.
  Year-to-date MLS® sales total 348 individual properties down 10% from the 387 sales reported in the 1st quarter of 2010. As in prior months, sales at the upper end of the market continue to play a dominant role with respect to sales revenue. Unit sales in most price ranges below $500,000 have declined in 2011 while sales activity above $500,000 remains very strong. To the end of March there have been 10 MLS® sales reported over $1 million whereas last year there were just 2 in the same time period.
  The number of new listings coming onto the market has slowed this year which is resulting in more balanced market conditions that favour neither seller nor buyer. Through the end of March a total of 1,497 new MLS® listings have come onto the market as compared to 1,527 new listings in the first 3 months of 2010, a decrease of 2%. The number of expired listings is also on the decline with 692 listings having expired this year versus 719 in 2010, a drop of 4%.
For a complete summary of market activity 1st quarter 2011 versus 2010, please see the latest edition of my Georgian Triangle Real Estate News.  To discuss your particular real estate situation or goals, please feel free to Contact Me without obligation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Through The Eyes of Buyers Part 2

As previously stated the issue of pricing remains one of the key elements in successfully getting your house sold.  Sellers and in many cases REALTORS® are failing to acknowledge this which is why we have such a high ratio of "expired" versus sold listings.
  Unfortunately and despite the effort some of us put into it, pricing a property is not a pure science.  Comparable sales analysis is the best methodology out there for pricing a property but for some homes and or parcels of land there are no comparables.  Increasingly, I find it helpful to have a seller(s) look at their homes through the eyes of a buyer(s).  Buyer's certainly expect a property to meet certain conditions in terms of appearance.  It is up to date, nicely decorated, well maintained, free of clutter etc. etc. but it also goes much beyond that.  At specific price points, certain other expectations emerge that help to establish a home's value.  At $350,000+ a home better have a nice master bedroom with an ensuite bath.  When you start getting up in the $500,000+ range, today's buyers are expecting finishes commensurate with that price such as granite or other such material for the counters, upgraded trim, better than average bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets etc.  Many homes in our market are over-priced from the standpoint the features and finishes don't live up to the expectations of the buyer(s).  For example, a home listed in the $800,000, $900,000 range that has laminate floors versus real hardwood, Arborite counters not granite, hollow core "800 series" doors and other such finishes typical of a mass produced, tract subdivision home is never going to attract a buyer willing to pay that price.  Despite a detailed comparable market analysis or other mathematical gyrations, a property is ultimately worth what a willing buyer is prepared to pay and if a buyer(s) sees a lot of cost ripping out what they perceive are inferior finishes, they will never pay an inflated price.
  Looking at your home through a potential buyer's eyes is something your listing REALTOR® should help you with.  One other key point to consider is this.  When you finally get an offer on your home at a price you turn down, essentially what you are doing is buying your own home for that price.  At that very moment, looking at your home through a buyer's eyes is critical as you need to ask yourself, would I pay that for this home?  Why?  Because that is exactly what you are doing when you turn down that offer.       

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Through The Eyes of Buyers

  In my last post I commented in general on the matter of pricing a property to sell. This has become an increasingly important component in successfully marketing your home to potential buyers and one of the key reasons for that is the Internet.

  Today’s buyers have a tremendous amount of information at their fingerprints and are well informed. You’re reading this blog for example and I presume you are doing so to amongst other things, expand your awareness and to be better informed. Most buyers today for real estate (80+%) and other items spend countless hours online looking for and at the products or services they are contemplating purchasing. Shopping for real estate is without question one of the first online frontiers that consumers flocked to. Here in Canada receives 3 million or more visitors a month looking at properties that are posted on the various Multiple Listing Services (MLS®) of real estate Boards across the country. Everything is there, room and overall house sizes, community and tax information, photos, prices and more. Buyers get a very good picture of what’s out there. They can tell if the same home comes up for sale month after month.  They can compare property listings and get a good sense of their relative values, quickly determining in their own minds at least, which ones are priced right and which ones appear to be over-priced. The bottom line is there’s no fooling anyone and sellers shouldn’t kid themselves alone or with the help of their REALTOR®, into thinking they are going to be the lucky ones and find that one unsuspecting or uninformed buyer that is going to over-pay them for their property. In our local market, essentially 1 out of 3 properties listed for sale actually sells so with that amount of inventory to choose from, nobody needs to overpay for anything.
  If you are contemplating the sale of youe home this spring I encourgage you to begin the process by looking at your property through the eyes of a potential buyer(s). Buyers obviously have expectations they want met and this goes far beyond just the colour of the walls or the overall appearance and condition of the home.
  More to come….

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pricing Your Property to Sell

I have talked on occasion in the past about the importance of pricing your property to sell in that it must be competitively priced in order to be "in the market" not just "on the market."  Whether the home is $200,000 or $2 million correctly having it priced is the only way it is effectively going to get SOLD!.
In 2010, 30% or roughly 1 in 3 of the properties listed for sale on the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) sold.  In fact for the past six years the number of expired listings has exceeded the number listings that have sold.  That to me is a very telling statistic.  First, REALTORS® are not doing their jobs in terms of preparing a thorough comparable market analysis in order to arrive at a list price that is consistent with market value and secondly, some sellers just aren't listing.
  When I go into a home I have a faily good sense of what the property is worth.  At the same time, gone are the days when a REALTOR® can or should, just walk into your home and shoot from the hip, tossing out a price that will ultimately get you the best price within reasonable time frame. 
  As a Market Value Appraiser (MVA Residential) I put a great deal if time into pricing  properties that I am being interviewed by the owners to list.  At the same time, no matter how technical or thorough I may be in arriving at a price, it is not a pure science as a property is ultimately worth what a buyer is willing to pay.  The thing is if I cannot sit down with a potential buyer that approaches me about one of my listings and demonstrate to them (on paper) why the property is listed where it is, I shouldn't take the listing.  A REALTOR® cannot in fact fulfil their fiduciary responsibilities to a seller and or buyer by taking a listing that they know is over-priced.  Amongst other things, our code of ethics states: "A Registrant shall demonstrate reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment, and competence in providing opinions, advice or information to any person in respect of a trade in real estate." 
In recently securing a listing, the sellers informed me that I had given them the lowest price out of the REALTORS® they had spoken with but I also provided them with the most compelling listing presentation as to why they should list at that price.  That's not the first time I have been told this nor will it no doubt be the last.  Conversely I also lost a listing recently where the listing REALTOR® gave them a price $200,000 or 30% more than my evaluation.  Due to the fact that the pricing of properties is not a science, my analytical work may not always be spot on but I'm not 30% off either.
  I am going to spend more time discussing the matter of pricing in future posts as it's a critically important component regarding successfully selling and buying property.  In the meantime I am going to leave you with this one thought.  As a professional full-time REALTOR® I do not consider myself to be a "sales person."  Our roles have and will continue to change dramatically in the years ahead.  Similar to a home inspector, lawyer, accountant or other specialist in a given field, we are "service providers."  We are held accountable to render conscientious service to clients and customers and there is a difference between those two parties as well.  More on that later.....

Monday, March 7, 2011

February Real estate Sales Continue to Show Strength

Area real estate activity in February continued to show a strengthening in both sales and listing activity across most municipalities in the Georgian Triangle, reflecting further improvements in consumer confidence from the same time last year.
  Sales reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) posted a 38% increase in dollar revenue for the month with sales of $40.1 million versus $29.2 million one year ago.  Unit sales were up slightly during the month, 9% with a total of 117 properties changing hands compared to 107 last year. 
  As was the case in January, we continue to see significantly higher sales of upper-end properties which is the main factor driving the increased sales revenue.  A total of 4 properties sold valued at over $1 million with one property hitting an all time high for the area of $3.25 million.  By comparison there were no $1 million dollar sales in the first two months of 2010.
  Year-to-date MLS® sales revenue totals $62.8 million up 27% from $49.6 million in the first two months of 2011.  The number of new listings that have come onto the market this year total 923 properties up 8% from 856 new listings at the end of February 2011. Despite an increase in the number of listings, there is still for the most part an insufficient supply of properties for sale by property type, in any given area and in several price ranges.  This is serving to help balance the market in favour of neither buyers nor sellers.  There is however one exception.  Despite a sharp increase in the sale of $1 million + properties, there are currently 63 active listings for homes priced over $1 million.
  On a year-to-date basis the municipalities of Collingwood and Wasaga Beach are both showing a reduction is sales activity of 7% while sales in Grey Highlands are down 40%.   Conversely Clearview sales are essentially equal to the first two months of last year, while sales in the Blue Mountains are up 30%.
  Taking a quick look at condominium sales indicates that year-to-date MLS® condo sales total 37 units down from 44 units sold in the first two months of 2010.  Condo sales in the Blue Mountains have increased this year with 16  sales being reported compared to 12 in 2010, an increase of 33%.  Collingwood condo sales on the other hand have taken a hit this year.  Through the end of February there have been 16 MLS® condo sales in Collingwood compared to 30 in the same period last year.  This may be just an aberration and we will continue to watch this situation closely in the coming months to see if it is indicating a more permanent trend.  
The average residential sale price year-to-date is $352,259 up 22% from the average sale price of $287,239 a year ago.  This increase can for the most part be attributed to the significant increase in home sales over the $1 million mark in the first two months of the year and should not be construed as price appreciation across the overall market.  
  For more detailed markeyt inform ation 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Market Forecasting

  Without a doubt one the most frequently asked questions I get at “Open Houses,” social gatherings, in the grocery store and on the street etc. is: "how's the market?” This appears to be one of the most talked about subjects at dinner, cocktail parties and just in general no matter what the economic climate we may be in.
  As with almost anything, it’s easy to report on things in a “past” sense. As REALTORS®, we have at our disposal numerous reports on a monthly basis that indicate sales in units, dollars, by price range and much the same applies for listing activity as well. I have always paid close attention to market statistics because frankly I believe it’s a large part of what WE are paid for. Consumers can look at property all day long online without my help. They can even get a sense of what going on by just looking around their neighbourhood at the “For Sale” or “Sold” signs. Helping them better understand the market from behind the scenes is now a crucial component of what we need to do in order to demonstrate the value we as professional REALTORS® bring to every real estate transaction.
  Reporting on past market conditions is easy and I will cover year-to-date market activity in my next posting. What about the future? In this ever-changing globally driven world that appears to be an increasingly difficult subject for most to get a handle on. Companies typically did five year business plans. Five years in today’s world is an eternity so making five and even two or three year plans is almost worthless.  Look at stock market activity, few seem to be able to foresee the signifiant swings up and or down that regularly happen in this seemingly volatile environment.  The same applies for real estate. The old patterns of sales and listing activity for the most part have changed dramatically. Yes, new listings typically increase in the spring and taper of in the fall as do sales but in between those seasons it’s often a roller coaster ride of unprecedented proportions.
  As previously noted the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has just “boosted” their forecast for national resale home activity in 2011. Last November, CREA predicted a sales decrease nationally of 4.9% with a total of 402,500 homes anticipated to sell in 2011. In the coming months we will see how accurate these numbers prove to be and if will further forecast revisions will be required. No doubt many of you are experiencing the same forecasting dilemma in your own businesses.  Budgeting for inventory, staffing and other requirements is often about as accurate as gazing into a crystal ball.  The ball is increasingly cloudy and one must make adjustments on-the-fly in order to capitalize on business opportunities when they arise. 
  In my next post I will re-cap market activity in our area for the first two months of the 2011. That’s the easy part, what lies ahead is anyone’s guess and I will comment on that as well.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Cultural Wasteland We Are Not

  Many of the buyers that we deal with on a daily basis in real estate, have been coming to or are drawn to the Georgian Triangle due to the many recreational sports the area offers. Long known as the ski capital of Ontario, the area now is home to many other outdoor activities that is making it a popular choice for both part-time recreational users as well as for retirees. Golf, hiking, biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing are but some of the many activities available to those seeking an active outdoor lifestyle.

  The area however also offers much more than just outdoor sports to keep one busy and physically healthy. There is also a plethora of other interests in this area which are not typically found in smaller communities. I grew up and lived in Toronto for 30+ years before moving to Collingwood in 1985. Following seven years of living here, I spent four years in Chicago before returning in 1998. When I am not working, I spend what leisure time I can afford during the summer at my cottage on Manitoulin Island. Make no mistake about it, I like small towns and will never move back to the city but let's face it, most small places are what can only be described as a cultural wasteland. Not so here. We have a myriad of social activities to satisfy most tastes, enough so as to prolong the need to head south to Toronto or elsewhere for a cultural "fix" now and then. This includes an active arts community, live theatre, a film club, live concerts and more. Last weekend I attended a concert at the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood which was essentially a tribute concert of the 70's rock group "The Band." The band that played is known as King Harvest, named after one the original group's many songs. Members of King Harvest are all local musicians, further testimony to the multitude of talented individuals that call this area home. The show drew a standing ovation, the quality of the performance was excellent and the Gayety was literally rockin.
  As I have stated many times, one of my favourite quotes comes from the author David Foot that wrote the book Boom, Bust, Echo. In that book Mr. Foot states that: "...real estate is affected far more by demographics than it is by economics..." Nowhere is this more evident than in the Georgian Triangle. The demographics driving our real estate market are those individuals with a variety of interests and a multitude of talent that once thrived only in the large urban areas to the south of us. Whether you are in to music, theatre, painting, film or a host of other non-active recreational activities, we truly do offer something for everyone.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Collingwood Needs An Economic Action Plan!

  With the exception of four years in the mid 1990’s during which time I lived in the U.S., followed by a couple of years in Kitchener, I have been in the Collingwood area since 1985. Like many I have witnessed the evaporation of Collingwood’s manufacturing sector which essentially commenced with the closing of the shipyards in 1986. I remember stopping on the way out of town on route to my grandfather’s funeral, to watch the last ship built at “Collship” slide down the greased rails into the harbour and along with it the remaining 200 or so jobs that still existed there at closing.
  My own employer the one that moved me to Collingwood in the first place, Goodyear Canada, is gone and as we all know there have been many others. Not only is the Goodyear Collingwood hose plant closed, but Goodyear corporately is out of the industrial rubber products business as well as many other product lines it had diverted into, choosing to focus on its core business, tires. Indeed the manufacturing sector not only in our area but across North America has and continues to be redefined and this will continue as the result of emerging economies such as China and India.
  You can ask virtually anyone around town and most will readily agree that Collingwood has done an abysmal job of re-inventing itself economically. Better paying manufacturing jobs have been replaced by low wage service industry positions in retail and tourism. Once thriving plants have either been torn down ie: Harding Carpets and Kaufman Furniture or they remain for the most part shuttered and “For Sale” such as the Goodyear facility or used for purposes such as off season car and boat storage. There is 15,000 square feet of office space in a beautiful new building on the east side of town that remains vacant with no tenant(s) over two years after it's completion and likewise for a 15,000 square foot warehouse on the same property.
  The Thursday February 10th edition of The Connection ran a small article announcing that Collingwood had won an award from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario for its “Collingwood Has It All Campaign.” The adjoining story on the same page titled “Barber Glass to be auctioned” stood in stark contrast to the celebratory mood reflected on the face of the Mayor and Town staff accepting the aforementioned award at a ceremony in Toronto. At the very least, one might feel that placing these two news items on the same page was poor editorial judgment on the part of The Connection. If you choose to offer up some harsher criticism you might question is it even appropriate for Town staff to be “grandstanding” at an award ceremony when so many are either out of work or have had to leave the area to find it elsewhere? I am sure the 65 or 70 former employees of the short-lived Barber Glass plant find little solace in the Town’s award winning status and the same can no doubt be said of those that preceded the Barber Glass employees with permanent layoff notices at the Shipyards, Harding Carpets, Bendix, Goodyear, Kaufman, Nacan and others.
  The only way to gauge the effectiveness of an economic development initiative such as the “Collingwood Has It All” campaign is in the creation of jobs and via other tangible economic measurements. Anything else is smoke and mirrors. Awards don’t put food on the table, buy clothes or pay rent.  Residential property taxes have spiralled out of control partly due to the tax imbalance that exists due to reduced commercial activity in the area.
  Collingwood is years overdue in developing a comprehensive, focused and above all realistic economic development strategy. We need a definitive plan to rebuild our fractured economy developed and championed by experienced business people not bureaucrats.  Enough of the rhetoric about the lack of serviced industrial land or the absence skilled labour. That merely illustrates a “build it and they will come” mentality and in this day and age with continued uncertainty in an economy that is become increasingly global in nature, that attitude and approach simply won’t work.  Yes, Collingwood has a lot of outstanding characteristics natural and otherwise, but a well defined path to economic growth isn't one of them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Canadian Real Estate Association Increases 2011/2012 Sales Forecast

Based on higher than expected market activity in the latter half of 2010, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has revised its 2011 sales forecast for residential sales through the Association's MLS® system. 
The revised forecast stems from several factors.  For one, buyers realize that the current mortgage rates still remain at historically low levels and have no place to go but up.  The overall economic outlook for Canada remains positive and is continuing to improve and with it, consumer confidence is also on the move upward.  National home sale in 2010 topped 447,010 units.  CREA have forecasted a slight decrease (-1.6%) in unit sales for 2011 with sales expected to reach 439,900 homes.  Conversely, CREA has improved their forecast for 2012 and are now anticipating sales nationwide to reach 453,000 homes, an increase of 3.0%.   
  How does Ontario fair in all of this?  In 2010 home sales in Ontario reached 195,591 units, a decrease of 0.1% from 2009.  Sales in the province for 2011 are forecasted to decline a further 5.2% with a total of 185,500 homes being sold.  Slight improvement in Ontario sales activity is expected for 2012 with unit sales increasing to 187,900 an increase of 1.3%  over forecasted sales for this year.  All of this spells good news for consumers in that we are decidedly moving in the direction of more balanced market conditions which favours neither buyers nor sellers.
  For further information relative to the local market please see my Georgian Triangle Real Estate News and my Condo Communique´ newsletters both of which can be subscribed to at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Upper End Home Sales Continue to Drive Area Real Estate Sales Upward

Although we continue to have a cold snowy winter, certain aspects of the real estate market have really started to heat up early in 2011 most notably the upper end of the market.
  To date we have had 3 sales (that I am aware of) ranging in price from $1.8 to $3.25 million.  One of those was a property not listed on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS® which I sold myself for over $2.7 million.  Further, two adjoining waterfront properties one of which was a vacant lot sold to the same buyer for $900,000 each so that too was essentially a $1.8 million dollar sale.  Three of these upper end sales were waterfront properties in the Blue Mountains.  In 2009 and 2010, higher end waterfront properties languished on the market.  Now barely six weeks into the new year with the beach areas buried under ice and snow not visible for the buyers to inspect and they are selling quite briskly.
  January sales reported through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board (GTREB) were $22.7 million up 11% from $20.5 million in January 2010.  Not included in the January 2011 results was the aforementioned sale of over $2.7 million which did not go through GTREB's MLS®.  Unit sales in Janaury 2011 actually dropped from the prior year 77 versus 81 sold in January 2010 so the revenue increase was driven purely by the sale of more expensive properties.  The Municipality of Meaford and the Blue Mountains are the only two municipalities showing an increase in unit sales for January.
  People keep talking about it being a buyer's market but I for one am not buying into the notion.  Sure, the number of new MLS® listings this year through the end of January are up 5% but in any given price range, property type or area the selection is quite slim.  I have buyers ready and willing to make a purchase right now, we just can't find the right property. All of the aforementioned million dollar sales were at prices that exceeded 90% of their respective asking prices so there were hardly "given away."
  One month certainly does not make a year but improving economic conditions, renewed consumer confidence and the threat of higher interest rates down the road are bringing people back into the real estate buying mode, some in a very big way.  As the saying goes "an ill wind always blows someone some good."  The abundance of snow this winter resulting in fabulous ski, snowboard and snowmobiling conditions is bringing people to the area in droves. This in turn stimulates the local economy including real estate activity so in addition improved economic conditions, Mother Nature deserves some credit as well.

Monday, January 31, 2011

During 2009, ongoing news reports regularly appeared regarding the Competition Bureau's allegations that Canada's Multiple Listing Service (MLS®) was anti-competitive.  The MLS® system which as you will note is a registered trademark, is owned and operated by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). 
After months of legal wrangling which cost CREA and essentially those of us in real estate over three quarters of a million dollars in legal fees in addition to the cost born by Canadian taxpayers, a settlement was reached which saw modest changes adopted to the way in which property listings can be placed on the MLS®.
  Contrary to public belief, the change does not allow consumers to list their homes or other property(s) on the MLS® by themselves.  The MLS® still remains a REALTOR® to REALTOR® service.  What the new rules do allow is listings to be simply posted onto the MLS® by a REALTOR®, allowing the home owner to handle as much or as little of the selling process on their own as they wish.  If a home owner elects to recruit a REALTOR® that will simply use his ability as a licensed real estate practitioner to "post" the listing on MLS®, the seller can then put up their own sign, conduct their own open houses and handle all the negotiations and paperwork should a potential buyer happen along.
  REALTORS® are still required to handle the posting of a property on MLS® in order to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the listing information ie: are the room sizes, taxes and other information about the property correct?
  I know of at least one area property the owners are trying to sell on their own which has been posted onto the MLS®.  The REALTOR® that posted the listing to the MLS® on the seller's behalf is located 6 to 7 hours from Collingwood.  Has he seen the property, measured the rooms, calculated the total square footage and verified other pertinent listing information?  Not likely.  This was one of the primary concerns that CREA had in adopting this change and rightly so.  Canada's MLS® is the envy of many other countries including the U.S.  We are one of a few countries that has a nationwide MLS® thus allowing consumers to search for properties online anywhere in the country regardless of where they happen to live.  Further REALTORS® are legally held to a high standard via Provincial law and are required to carry errors and omissions insurance in the event we make a mistake.  As such, consumers have a much better chance of receiving accurate information and fair treatment with respect to their real estate buyer and seller needs versus dealing with a private individual.
  Thus far, we have seen little change in the marketplace as the result of the regulatory changes that took place with respect to the MLS® rules in 2009.  The listing and sale of real property continues much the same as it has for years with the majority of properties on the MLS® listed by full service REALTORS® that work with seller clients from start to finish.  Other options for consumers now exist and there's nothing wrong with that.   For those sellers wishing only to have their property "posted" on the MLS® and are willing to promote and market their property on their own and subsequently handle the negotiations and paperwork associated with the sale process they are free to do do.  Buyers dealing with sellers wherein their listing has been merely posted to the MLS® should exercise some caution with respect to the information provided.  For sure, a home inspection should be done and further, buyers of these properties would be wise to verifiy first hand tax, zoning and other information relative to the property in question.  In this area we also have other regulatory bodies to deal with in certain circumstances such as the Niagara Escarpment Commission, the Nottawasaga Valley and Grey Sauble Conservation Authorities etc.  A REALTOR® that is located outside the area may not be familiar with properties that fall within the confines of these governing bodies and the chance of a mis-step is then that much greater. As with any purchase the term caveat emptor applies and even more so when dealing with the unknown.
  I want to hear from you. Please leave a comment or take my current online poll regarding this matter, I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Emotional Sea of Real Estate Part 2

In my last post I touched on the emotional aspect of being involved in a real estate transaction and that neither seller(s), buyer(s) or REALTOR(S)® are immune to the flood of emotion that often takes hold of those involved in the purchase of real estate.
 Without a doubt the most significant things affecting the emotions of the majority of sellers is the price.  While some will confess they have no idea what their property is worth and are thus relying on their REALTOR® to establish that for them, most will harbour somewhere deep down inside a number and usually it's a higher dollar amount than the current market value.  A seller's price may be based on what they need to get out of a property to help finance their next purchase or to pay off their mortgage or other debts.  Their price may and often is based on what they feel it would cost to replace the home, cottage or whatever.  Unfortunately none of these factors affect market price so right off the bat, the seller's emotional tension is starting to build fueled by disappointment once they learn their listing price is not a realistic one.  Already on edge with a lower than anticipated list price, the seller's emotions then really erupt when an offer is received that is10% or more below the asking price.  If the asking price is realistic, I always recommend a starting point somewhere between 90% to 95% of the asking price.  Anything less may result in not getting a sign-back and worse, it creates a very emotionally charged almost antagonistic atmosphere for future negotiations.
  Buyer's on the other hand are faced with the emotional element of "fear."  Fear of making the wrong choice of area, fear of buying a home with problems, a leaky basement, mould, are the well and septic okay or the most prevalent on today's top 10 list of buyer(s) fears, are we paying too much!
  When a buyer and seller are negotiating an Agreement of Purchase and Sale numerous conditions and clauses are always prevalent and while some of these ie: the closing date, accepting an offer conditional on the sale of the buyer's current home are all emotional triggers, none are as flammable as the aspect of price.  The seller wants to maximize their price, they are mentally calculating the real estate commission they are going to pay versus the perceived value they are getting from their REALTOR® and lastly, they fear the buyer is just trying to unjustifiably beat them down on price.  Some terms in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale are equally as important as the price because in one way or another they too have a financial cost or benefit to the seller, buyer or both  These are often overlooked however and it's the responsibility of the REALTORS® involved to point that out.
  So what emotions do REALTORS® have.  Well, as I stated in my last post, every day we wake up unemployed.  That's emotional and you really need to learn to control that or you'd never get out of bed in the morning.  Every time we list a seller's property, despite our best efforts, the attractiveness of the property and or its price, there is no guarantee that the property will sell and we will get paid for our efforts.  After months of working on a listing, having it not sell and worse losing the listing to another REALTOR® that can be a major let down creating a whole sea of emotional thoughts.  The same applies when working with buyers.  We load them in the car, spend time driving them around burning up both time and fuel with again, no guarantee of them buying anything thus generating a pay cheque.  Obviously these scenarios can lead to frustration, resentment towards the clients and a host of other feelings which all fall into the emotional category.
Perhaps the worst case scenario in a real estate transaction is when the emotions of the REALTOR® or REALTORS® kick in preventing the deal from getting done.  Our job is to shrink or preferably remove the emotions of the buyers and sellers however sometimes they are only amplified by the REALTOR'S own thoughts and emotions.  REALTOR® egos can sometimes pose a real problem when a listing agent who believes they are 100% right in the price is bound and determined to show up one of their counterparts who may be representing a buyer in the negotiation process and vice versa.  Typically there are no winners in this scenario as the deal often reaches a stalemate and is aborted.  It's not that the seller and buyer do not want to move on a point, it's the stubbornness of the REALTORS® that is preventing the deal from getting done.  Cooler heads needs to prevail and the only way to do this is to remove the emotional elements that are preventing things from moving forward. 
  Removing or mitigating the emotional feelings with a seller(s), buyer(s) starts with the process of discovery.  As REALTOR(S)® we need to determine what the real objection is in order to diffuse the emotional feelings attached to it.  The process of dealing with the emotions of seller(s) and buyer(s) can't be addressed when REALTOR(S)® have their own agendas which more often than not are emotionally driven.  Our Code of Ethics stipulates that we have to follow the instructions of our clients.  That is not to say that we shouldn't step in and bring our knowledges, skills and unbiased opinions into the equation to solve a problem.  After all, it is a business transaction and most successful businesses run far more successfully by making fact based decsions versus emotional ones.        

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Emotional Sea of Real Estate - Part 1

  One of the seldom acknowledged and or appreciated aspects of real estate is the human emotion that typically plays a significant role in the buying and selling process.  As real estate practitioners, one of our fundamental roles and perhaps the most important one, is to remove or at the very least minimize, the amount of emotion associated with the real estate buying and selling process and to treat it emotionally unbiased for what it is, a business transaction.
  Emotion involves and affects every person that is party to a real estate transaction.  Sellers are often reticent about leaving their home.  It is a place where memories have been made.  It represents a significant portion of most people's net worth and often includes large amounts of sweat equity for the work they have put into their garden, the basement and or other improvements they completed on their own and so forth. 

 Buyers on the other hand are filled with trepidation as well.  Is this the right home/neighbourhood for us?  Is there something wrong with the place? Can we afford it?  Are we paying to much?  All these questions and more create a flood of emotion with buyers especially when it comes to actually signing an offer to purchase.

  REALTORS® are not immune to the emotional aspect of real estate either.  One of the issues we face is the realization that every day we wake up unemployed.  We have no idea when and or where the next pay cheque may be coming from but that is all part of being self-employed in a commission only based profession.  You either accept it and control the emotional uncertainty of being a REALTOR® or get a none to five salaried job.   

  If you have ever been involved in a real estate transaction think about how you felt and you'll agree, emotion plays a huge role in the process.  As such you need someone working on your behalf that calms the stormy seas so-to-speak.  Too often, REALTORS® fail to accomplish that and in fact only whip up the waves into more of a tempest than what already exists.  In Part 2, I will delve more deeply into the emotions REALTORS® need to manage on behalf of clients to safely navigate through the often stormy seas of the real estate buying and selling process preventing them from landing on the rocks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Area Condo Sales Increase Show Modest Increase in 2010

Condominiums have and continue to be a significant segment in the local real estate market and 2010 was no exception.  Many first-time recreational buyers in the area start with a modest 2 or 3 bedroom condo purchase then subsequently move up to a second property either in the form of a larger more upscale condominium or to a single family home/chalet.  Case in point.  In 2004 I sold a 3 bedroom 1,500+ square foot waterfront condo to a couple from Toronto.  Four years later they traded up to a 3,800+ square foot home I procured for them that sold for over $1 million.  While the monetary magnitude of their second purchase was higher than usual the pattern is not. Condo buyers often find they use their property much more than anticipated and quickly find they need something larger.  Further, with an aging demographic many of whom are approaching retirement, the move from a modest condo to something larger for full-time retirement residency is a natural progression. 
  A total of 331 condo sales were reported through the MLS®system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board in 2010, 6 sales more than in 2009.  Condo sales in Collingwood actually dipped slightly from 202 in 2009 to 198 last year.  Conversely, condo sales in the Blue Mountains increased from 103 sold in 2009 to 109 in 2010.  MLS®condominium sales revenue totaled $75.8 million in 2010 up from $70.6 million in condo sales the prior year.  None of the aforementioned statistics include the sale of new condominium units in developments such as The Shipyards and others. When the sales of new units are are added in, the Collingwood and area condo market can only be seen as being vibrant, offering those that prefer the maintenance-free lifestyle of condo living either as a full or part-time residence, plenty to choose from.  For a complete re-cap of the condo market comparing 2009 and 2010 please see the winter 2011 of my Condo Communique´newsletter or Contact me for further information regarding specific developments. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How Were Sales in Your Area Last Year?

Real estate sales activity throughout the various municipalities that make up the market area of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board offered up a mixed bag of results for 2010 with many showing continued improvement in sales following the downturn in activity we experienced in late 2008 early 2009. The Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach however both posted a decrease in the number of residential properties sold during the year as compared to 2009. Unit sales in the Blue Mountains decreased the most, down 8.5% from the prior year with 151 sales as compared to 165 in 2009. Wasaga Beach had 357 sales a decline of 3.3%.

Residential sales in Tiny and Clearview Townships were essentially unchanged in 2010 whereas the municipalities of Collingwood (up 6.9%), Grey Highlands (up 38.0%), Meaford (up5.4%) all showed increased sales activity.

Some significant shifts took place with respect to average pricing in these areas but this should not be construed as being an appreciation in property values. As mentioned in my prior posting, sales activity at the upper end of our market last year grew significantly with sales between $500,000 and $800,000 up 40.0%, sales between $800,000 and $1 million increased 33.3% and lastly sales above the $1 million threshold increased a whopping 86.7% with a total of 28 sales posted through the MLS® system of the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board. The two areas reflecting the highest average residential prices were Mulmur Township with an average price of $543,140 while The Blue Mountains followed closely with an average residential price of $510,427. Residential sales in Mulmur Township are traditionally made up of acreage or estate type properties while The Blue Mountains is home to many of the area’s higher priced homes close to area ski and golf clubs.

The increased activity we experienced last year with upper-end “luxury” home sales helped to drive the average residential price for our market overall at the end of December to $314,937 from $286,378 one year earlier, an increase of 10.0%. The lowest average price for residential housing can be found in the Municipality of Meaford - $264,954, Wasaga Beach - $267,477 and in Collingwood - $275,895. Moving forward we will undoubtedly see continued growth in the sales of higher priced homes, driven by the influx of buyers from the GTA purchasing these properties for recreational and or retirement use. These higher end sales impact disproportionately both the overall sales revenue and the average residential pricing for our area leading one to believe that overly positive conditions exist when they in fact do not. Whether you are buying or selling, every property transaction deserves a detailed comparable analysis to ensure that the appropriate pricing is applied. For further information with respect to your real estate decision(s) please feel free to Contact me.  For a complete summary of area real estate activity 2009 versus 2010, see the latest issue of my Georgian Triangle Real Estate News.

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


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