Friday, September 27, 2013

Majority of Baby Boomer Looking to Downsize

  In a recent survey done by our provincial association the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), more than 900 REALTORS® reported that a majority of baby boomers are looking for properties that will allow them to downsize.

  According to the June survey, responding REALTORS® indicated that their clients between the ages of 48 and 67 are searching for smaller properties.  REALTORS® were asked, “Generally speaking, what types of properties are your baby boomer clients seeking?”  Multiple responses were permitted, and a majority (61%) said their clients were seeking smaller houses such as bungalows.  Almost half (47%) included condos or apartments, 25% included investment properties, 22% included land or cottages, and 21% included townhouses.  Only 15% of respondents said their boomer clients sought larger homes.

  This is certainly very much the case in the southern Georgian Bay area where many buyers we deal with are looking for a retirement property or perhaps a recreational property that will be their retirement residence down the road.  Bungalows, or at least homes with a main floor master are very much in demand as are condominiums with the same type of floor plan.

  These survey results very much reflect the accuracy of one of my favourite quotes.  In his book Boom, Bust, Echo, Dr. David Foot said "real estate is affected more by demographics than it is by economics."  Although his book was first published in 1996, this quote is proving to be timeless and still holds up as accurately today as it did 17 years ago.

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Blog - "Southern Georgian Bay Carriage Trade Homes"

With luxury, upper end properties becoming a significant aspect of the southern Georgian Bay real estate market, I have started a separate blog devoted solely to this distinctive segment of our market.
  Through my blog "Southern Georgian Bay Carriage Trade Homes"  I will keep you updated on not only just local market activity, but also on trends affecting the luxury home market as a whole.  Through my attendance at the National Association of REALTORS® conference held each November in the U.S.  I have met and regularly receive information from two of the top REALTORS® south of the border that specialize in luxury property sales.  The luxury home and condominium market is as unique as the high net worth buyers and sellers that occupy this small niche.   Understanding their wants and needs of a REALTOR that participates in this area of real estate sales is very important to them and via my blog, I hope to share with you and them the nuances of buying and selling luxury properties.

  To access Southern Georgian Bay Carriage Trade Homes from this my primary blog, simply click on the luxury home picture to the right of this post.  For additional information on luxury properties visit the luxury homes page of my website www.carriagetrade  Enjoy.        

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Wreck of The Mary Ward

In addition to the Nottawasaga lighthouse, another part of Collingwood's storied maritime history is the wreck of the Mary Ward which is located about 2KM off Northwinds Beach at Craigleith.

 The Mary Ward was a 120 foot steamer that sank back in 1872.  I first visited the wreck site back in May of this year and saved the geo-coordinates in my GPS chartplotter enabling a return visit. With summer quickly fading and the water getting cooler I decided the time was now or never for a return this year to do some snorkeling around the wreck along with some underwater filming.

With the water on Georgian Bay relatively calm I ventured back to the wreck site yesterday afternoon launching my boat in Thornbury.  I find approaching the site from the west seems somewhat easier, nonetheless the water leading into the site is very shallow for quite a distance varying up and down from less than three feet to six feet and back as you get closer to the wreck. Currently the water depth around the wreck itself is about 7 feet or so.

  Yesterday's water temperature was about 66.5 farenheit, allowed us to thoroughly examine the wreck in relative comfort.

 Some parts of the ship such as the boiler are scattered further afield, next summer I'll go back and see if we can located those.

 As you can see in the accompanying photos, water conditions yesterday were very clear enabling me to get some good photos and video.  This is just another aspect of the rich maritime history that exists around Georgian Bay.  Looking at the development and other aspects of the area today, it's hard to imagine what life was like back in 1872 when the Mary Ward went down.  Travel by rail and by water were very much the main modes of transportation. Collingwood's shipyard is long gone as have been the train tracks that ran west from Collingwood Thornbury and beyond.   

Monday, September 16, 2013

Saving The Nottawasaga Lighthouse

As most of you already are aware, Collingwood has a storied history much of it based on its geographic waterfront location.  In 1986 we lost the shipyards, which was a unique landmark and a major contributor to the economic development of the town.  Seemingly, we are getting closer to losing another important aspect of the Town’s water based history, the Nottawasaga Island lighthouse.

  The Nottawasaga lighthouse was one of six “Imperial” lighthouses constructed in the latter part of the 1800’s.  I travel past one of them regular in the summer on the way to my Manitoulin Island.  The Cove Island lighthouse as shown in the photo to the right, is located north of Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula and marks the entrance to Georgian Bay from Lake Huron.  You can readily see the similarity to this structure compared to our own Nottawasaga lighthouse.  The Nottawasga lighthouse now decommissioned, is in grave disrepair with its stone facade crumbling and falling to the ground leaving the interior stone walls exposed to the weather and further deterioration.

  Locally, a group that sees the value in maintaining this important historical landmark is attempting to drum up enough interest and support to save the Nottawasaga lighthouse thus serving to preserve Collingwood’s marine heritage.

  As you might have already noted, as an avid boater I love spending time on the water so lighthouses have a special place in my heart.  I am also fascinated by the history they represent.  The lighthouse pictured to the right is one of two that marks the channel into South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island.  It was first manned by my great grandfather so I also have a family connection with these unique structures. 

During the last week of August, I took a trip from my cottage one day by boat, a 65 mile round trip out to Lonely Island which is remotely situated in the northern portion of Georgian Bay.  Lonely Island is aptly named.  Imagine living in total desolation on an island infested with Massssauga rattlesnakes.  Apparently no one ever stayed there very long hence the name.  There is no protected harbor on the island leaving the docking facility for supply and maintenance vessels totally exposed to winds, waves and ice.  The Canadian Coast Guard eventually gave up trying to maintain a dock so the light situated high atop a hill is now accessed via helicopter.  All that remains of the various lighthouse keepers’ days on Lonely are crumbling stone foundations belonging to what was once their residence and other outbuildings.  My companion and I made our way ashore and with sticks in hand to beat off any rattlesnakes attempted to hike up to the light.  With the path petering out, increasingly overgrown and with our attire consisting of shorts with bare feet in boating shoes, we thought the better of proceeding further.  Better to return I thought dressed in long pants and hiking boots.

  Lastly, the lighthouse to the right is another one I see regularly during my water bound travels on Manitoulin.  It’s located in a somewhat remote location on the southern shore of Manitoulin in a place called Michaels Bay.  Michaels Bay was a thriving community with a logging based economy until it was wiped out by a forest fire around the turn of the last century.  Ships would arrive to load and transport the logs south to parts of southern Ontario and the U.S. and this lighthouse played an integral part in their safe passage.  The lighthouse pictured herein is actually a replicate, built by volunteers one being my Uncle, at their own expense to commemorate its historical significance.

  Not all of the lighthouses around Georgian Bay such as the Nottawasaga light here in Collingwood are in active duty.  They nonetheless are worth saving.  I commend those trying to drum up enough support to save the Nottawasaga lighthouse and I invite you to visit the Help Save the Nottawasaga Lighthouse Facebook page at  A Volunteer signup and brief meeting will be held Sunday, Sept. 22nd at 9:30 am sharp at the Collingwood Legion 490 Ontario Street.    

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Condo Insurance - Do You Have The Coverage You Need?

  Historically, condominium sales are often one of the more volatile aspects of the real estate market. Anyone that lived and or owned a condominium in the Collingwood or Blue Mountain area in the late 80’s or early 90’s can relate to this.  Condominium sales and prices can change quickly and dramatically based on either the overall economy and or changes in buying and ownership demographics. 

  In 2008, MLS® unit sales of condos in the southern Georgian Bay area dropped 23%.  Since that time, sales have rebounded to their pre-recessionary levels and with 250 individual sales to the end of August; sales in 2013 are running 21% ahead of last year.  At this pace we are headed for what could be a record year for condo sales in our market with well over 350 units being sold.  MLS® sales typically do not include the sale of new condominium units made by developers of which ion this area there are many.  When these too are factored in, the local condominium market is indeed healthy and I will report on this in more detail in the upcoming issue of my Condo Communique´newsletter.

  The condominium lifestyle offers a unique lifestyle from that of single family home ownership and with this form of ownership comes characteristics and responsibilities that condo owners and buyers need to be aware one and one of these is insurance. 

  Condominium corporations maintain a master insurance policy on the building(s) they are specifically responsible for and premiums for this coverage are a part of your monthly condo fee.   This insurance covers damage to the building, the common elements ie: hallways, lobbies, parking garages as well a liability insurance in the event someone is hurt on the property. This leaves most owners and or buyers believing all they require are contents insurance similar to renters that will cover the personal belongings in their respective unit and nothing could be further from the truth.

  In the event a condominium corporation is faced with an insurance payout stemming from lawsuit, the insurance deductible on such a claim may be spread amongst the owners via a special assessment.  I suspect that in an effort to keep condo fee increases to a minimum, some condo corporations are increasing their policy deductibles in order to maintain or reduce premiums.  If your bathtub were to over flow casing damage to a unit below, those damages may very well be charged against you.  I have in fact been into local condos where the pipes froze and burst, causing extensive damage not only to the unit in question but also to the one beneath it.  Any changes or additions that you have made to your unit, such as the installation of an elaborate home entertainment system which can run into tens of thousands of dollars needs to be protected.  Any of these scenarios could cost a condominium owner significant money and insurance coverage should be taken to cover these potential risks.

  If you currently own a condominium it might be advisable to review your coverage.  For those looking to buy a condo. Make such that your REALTOR® includes a condition in your Agreement of Purchase and Sale enabling you to investigate the various insurance policies that are available to you and their respective costs before you commit to that purchase.   If you have any questions please feel free to Contact Me
and I’d be glad to assist you.    

Friday, September 6, 2013

Area Real Estate Sales Down Marginally in August

While the Toronto and Vancouver real estate markets saw a substantial increase in sales activity during August, (21% and 54% respectively) that same momentum was not reflected in real estate sales across the southern Georgian Bay region.

MLS® unit sales in August totaled 196 properties, down just slightly from the 198 sales reported in August 2012.  Dollar volume for the month of $58.5 million reflected a 2% drop from the $59.7 million worth of area MLS® sales in August of last year.  The slightly weaker MLS® sales activity experienced in August came on the heels of three consecutive months May through July, where MLS ® sales of $189.1 million represented a $30.5 million or 19.2% gain in MLS® sales during the same three month period last year.

  Year-to-date MLS® unit sales to the end of August totals 1,442 properties, an increase of 6% over the 1,359 MLS® sales during the first eight months of 2012.  MLS® dollar volume year-to-date of $424.1 million is up 7% and we are still on track to a record sales year through the local MLS® system which should exceed $600.0 million.   

  It is worth noting that after over a year of very weak MLS® sales activity in the Municipalities of Clearview and Meaford, sales have rebounded during the past two to three months and are now 11% and 18% ahead of 2012 respectively.  The BlueMountains is the only area Municipality that has consistently exceeded 2012 sales during much of 2013.  Collingwood MLS® sales are down 4%, Grey Highlands is off 19% while MLS® sales in WasagaBeach are dead even with last year.

  During the past couple of months we have also seen a resurgence in upper end sales between $1 and $1.5 million which had been lagging earlier in the year.  Sales in this price range are slightly behind 2012 with 13 MLS® sales year-to-date compared to 16 last year.  Meanwhile sales above $1.5 million are more than double 2012 with 7 sales thus far in 2013 compared to just 3 last year.

   The number of new MLS® listings year-to-date totals 4,623, a decrease of just over 3% from last year.  The number of expired listings is also down from one year ago (2%).  These two factors combined with the increase in sales has resulted in more balanced market conditions favouring neither buyers or sellers  to any significant degree.  Nonetheless, with slightly over 1 out of every 3 listings sellers, buyers still have ample resale inventory to choose from within the local MLS® listings.

  As we head into the fall selling season and with another ski/snowboard season fast approaching, I forecast we will see some strong sales activity between now and mid to late November.  In the event we get a good jump on the 2013/2014 winter season, this should put us on a strong footing with which to start the new year. 

  For more detailed information pertaining to your specific real estate situation, please feel free to contact me, I am always happy to assist you without obligation.        

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  Boaters in the southern Georgian Bay area looking to increase their knowledge and skills can do so by taking one of the many courses being offered this fall and winter by the Blue Mountain Squadron of the Canadian Power and Sale Squadron. (CPS).

  I have been boating on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay for decades, primarily from my cottage of Manitoulin Island.  This summer I spent time on portions of the North Channel I had not previously been visiting the Benjamin Islands and westward as far as the town of Spanish.  I also covered a portion of the  top of Georgian Bay visiting five smaller islands between Manitoulin and Tobermory including Fitzwilliam, Club, Lonely, Rabbit and Wall Islands.  

  Georgian Bay is nothing short of an inland sea.  The day I visited the five above mentioned islands the water surface on Georgian Bay and Lake Huron was little more than a two foot chop.  The following day there were six foot swells with white caps clearly indicating how quickly conditions on such large bodies of water can change. Rapidly changing weather conditions combined with an abundance of rocks and shoals make these other wise beautiful boating waters no place for the inexperienced, under-skilled boater.

  Over the past two winters I have both taken and taught some of the Power Squadron's courses here in Collingwood.  Besides improving your boating skills, membership in the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron can provide you with discounts on your boat insurance and other services such as hotel accommodations with Delta Hotels and car rentals with National Car Rental.  

  For a complete list of courses available this fall and winter visit Blue Mountain Squadron and click on "course information" in the navigation menu.  Registration can be done in person on Tuesday September 10th, 2013 at Collingwood Collegiate Room 213 or contact Cam Thomson, Training Officer at 705-446-1305 or  As as an alternative please feel free to contact myself as well.

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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