Monday, December 29, 2014

What's Wrong Downtown

  During this fall's municipal election campaign two all candidates meetings were held by Collingwood's Business Improvement Association (BIA) pertaining to business the downtown core.  Candidates were asked what our “vision” was for Collingwood’s downtown.  While the answers were varied, the overall objective was how would we propose to stimulate economic growth in the downtown core?  We’ve all heard the concerns over paid parking, the big box retailers opening on the west side of town and a host of other reasons as to why businesses on Hurontario Street are having a difficult time prospering in a changing economy.  Ice sculptures and other initiatives aimed at drawing consumer traffic to Collingwood’s main street are fine but there’s an underlying problem that no one seems to want to address. 

  This morning, one of my real estate associates went downtown to make a purchase.  He visited three separate stores (all in the same business) before finally getting what he wanted.  He went to the first store their sign said open at 9:30am, but at 9:50am no one was there.  On to store number two.      By this time it’s nearing 10:00am.  Store two is slated to open at 10:00am, the place is in total darkness with no sign of any life whatsoever that would indicate they are eminently about to open so rather than wait around on he went to store number three.  Store three opens at 9:00am, half an hour to an hour before their competitors. By this time they’ve already been open for over an hour and guess what, they were very busy. 

  Three stores all identical relative to their businesses.  Three different opening times two of which had failed to open as per their posted hours.  Another business on Hurontario Street is closing offering up to 80% off, we all know which one.  I peered in their blackened window this morning as they are closed on Monday!  Closed on Monday?  You are closing for good.  You have inventory to liquidate.  The town is full of holiday visitors on what is one of the busiest retail weeks of the year and you are closed?

  Something has to change downtown and it’s not simply removing the parking meters.  I hope that our new Council along with partners such as the BIA and Chamber of Commerce establishes an economic development plan that will not only address attracting new employment to Collingwood, it will change the attitudes of some area business owners in order they are not the victim(s) of their own shortcomings.  Ice sculptures and bonfires etc. are all nice but ultimately people go downtown to shop.  We need to make to easy for residents and visitors alike to patronize the downtown businesses and seemingly, nobody needs to be reminded more of that than the businesses themselves.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Christmas Turkey Challenge

  Having served on the Board of Directors of our local Real Estate Association for a number of years including that of President (2008), I have been proud of the support that we as an organization have given to the community.

  On behalf of the Members of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR), the President of the Association, Wayne Cornfield, presented cheques to various local charities representing proceeds of over $7,000 from the Ontario REALTORS Care Foundation – Every REALTOR® Campaign. This year’s recipients were: Community Reach in Midland, Campbell House Hospice in Collingwood and the Housing Resource Centre.

  Each SGBAR Member contributes monthly through the Every REALTOR® Campaign. The Ontario REALTORS Care Foundation acts on behalf of Ontario REALTORS® in funding shelter-related charities across the province. Shelter is defined as a refuge, haven or protection that provides or improves quality of life from hunger, the elements, physical/psychological abuse, disabilities and illness. In 2014, the Foundation was able to provide over $800,000 in grants to more than 200 shelter-based organizations! “The Foundation is committed to contributing to its members’ communities,” says Cornfield. “It’s one of the ways our local REALTORS® can give back to the communities where they live, work and play.”

  This year we joined our colleagues from the Midland area in a "Christmas Turkey Challenge."  Collectively we raised over $5,000 and purchased 312 turkeys from Foodland and Freshco to distribute to less fortunate families throughout the Southern Georgian Bay area.

  From my perspective this is what Christmas should be all about.  I don't need gifts and for the most part neither does my family.  It's much more gratifying to give back to the very communities which we as REALTORS® make our livings from.  Congratulations and a heartfelt thanks to all of my real estate colleagues across Southern Georgian Bay.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Area MLS® Real Estate Sales Set to Establish New Record For 2014

Area real estate sales through to the end of November remained at a record pace for 2014 with year-to-date MLS® sales setting another new record. 

 MLS® sales for the month of November as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® reflected an increase of 3% with $49.5 million in sales for the month.  Individual MLS® unit sales totaled 163 properties an increase of 9% over November 2013. 

  Year-to-date MLS® sales of $666.5 million represents a 10% increase over the first eleven months of 2013, sales in 2014 have already eclipsed the entire total for last year.  MLS® unit sales for the year are up 3% with 2,091 individual property sales this year versus 2,022 during the first eleven months of last year.
  Sales over $500,000 continue to remain very strong in 2014 which is why the increase in total MLS® dollar sales exceeds the increase we are seeing in the number of properties being sold. Sales between $500,000 and $800,000 are up 15%, while sales in the $800,000 to $1 million range are up 33% with 44 sales this year compared to 33 in 2013.

  The area condominium market has been extremely strong throughout 2014.  Through the first eleven months of this year there have been 420 MLS® condo sales reported compared to 358 last year. This marks the first time that year-to-date MLS® condo sales have exceeded 400 units sold.  MLS® single family home sales of 1,368 properties, represents an increase of 4% over the number of single family homes sold year-to-date in 2013.

  As we head into the final month of 2014, market activity shows no sign of letting up.  As of this posting we are 10 days into December and MLS® sales total $24 million.  In December 2013 MLS® sales for the entire month were just $26 million so it would appear that another record month is shaping up which will see MLS® dollar sales for the year shatter another record with close to $700 million in MLS® sales reported for 2014.  

  For further information about market conditions that may affect your specific selling or buying real estate objectives, please do not hesitate to contact me for a no obligation discussions about  how I can help you to meet your goals.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Area Real Estate Sales Continue at a Record Clip

As we head into the final two months of 2014, Southern Georgian Bay area real estate continues to reflect a strong demand among Buyers.  After a slow start to 2014 with first quarter MLS® dollar sales down 6%, the market has roared back with MLS® sales overall now running well ahead of last year.

  MLS® dollar volume in October of $63.1 million reflected a 2% increase over October 2013 with MLS® unit sales for the month up almost 5%.  MLS® sales year-to-date of $597.3 million reflects an increase of 8% over the first 10 months of 2013.  Virtually all area municipalities are showing a year-to-date increase in single family home sales with the Municipality of Meaford showing the greatest gain.  Year-to-date MLS® single family home unit sales in the Municipality of Meaford are up 14% followed by the Blue Mountains with a 10% increase.  Single family home sales in Clearview Township reflect a 7% gain over 2013 while Collingwood and Wasaga Beach are up 3% and 2% respectively.
Total MLS® dollar sales to the end of October are $597 million, up $46 million or 8% from 2013.  MLS® unit sales for the year are actually down from one year ago with 1,887 sales reported in 2014 versus 2,104 in the first ten months of 2013.  While unit sales are down, MLS® dollar volume continues to increase due to the higher number of upper end home and condo sales taking place in the area.  Year-to-date there have been 66 single family 
home and condo sales over $750,000 in the area compared to 47 last year, 
an increase of 40%  

  Area MLS® condominium sales have been very strong throughout 2014 with sales year-to-date of 381 individual units reflecting a 15% increase in sales over the first 10 months of 2013.  MLS® condominium sales in the Blue Mountains are up 24% with 125 units sold year-to-date compared to 101 sales in the same period last year.  Sales of MLS® listed condominiums in Collingwood of 224 units through the end of October reflects an 11% increase from one year ago.  Condominiums are increasingly becoming popular with area buyers looking to escape the maintenance tasks that are associated with single family home and chalet ownership and this is especially true with recreational buyers. Condominiums are also an affordable alternative for first time buyers with two bedroom, two bath units in Cranberry selling for significantly less than a modest post war bungalow in Collingwood with less square footage.

  In 2013, MLS® sales in the area exceeded $600 million for the first time coming in at just under $625 million for the year. It would appear that with two months remaining in 2014, we are destined to set a new record for MLS® dollar sales volume once again, a clear indication that demand for area properties is stronger than ever.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Area Real Estate Sales On Pace For a Record Year

Following last winter’s icy grip which resulted in very weak 1st quarter MLS® real estate sales in the area, market activity has roared back and we appear destined to be headed for another record year in terms of dollars sold for MLS® sales of Georgian Triangle properties.

  While we experienced a somewhat cooler summer, MLS® sales activity June through August remained hot with $220 million worth of sales reported in the three month period, an increase of 21% from the same period last year.  MLS® unit sales during the three summer months of 682 properties reflected an 11% increase compared to 2013.  Through the end of August 1,469 properties have been sold through our local MLS® system year-to-date an increase of 2% over 2013.  MLS® dollar sales year-to-date through August on the other hand of $468 million, reflects a 10% increase from the same period last year. We continue to see an increase in the number of higher priced properties being sold which continues to drive our MLS® dollar volume to record levels.

  Single family home sales while robust with 968 properties sold year-to-date are up just 3% from last year.  MLS® condominium sales meanwhile which total 283 sales to the end of August are up 12% year-over-year.  With the exception of Clearview Township, MLS® single family homes sales in other area municipalities are running at rates equal to or greater than last year.  Year-to-date sales by municipality through the end of August are as follows:  Clearview -8%, Collingwood +11%, Grey Highlands no change, Municipality Meaford +18%, Blue Mountain +2%, Wasaga Beach +5%.

  The number of new MLS® listings coming onto the market has continued to diminish through 2014, resulting in more balanced market conditions that do not unduly favour buyers or sellers. Sales in the $350,000 to $500,000 January through August have remained very active with 180 sales year-to-date which represents a 21% increase over 2013.  During the first eight months of the year, sales between $500,000 and $999,999 total 108 properties versus 97 in 2013, an increase of 11% while sales over $1 million now stand at 19 compared to 17 last year.

  With the sharp increase in sales activity we are seeing a greater frequency of multiple offers being submitted sometimes on listed properties that have languished on the market for months.  With another ski/snowboard season fast approaching, the continuation of low interest rates and positive consumer confidence, we anticipate the balance of 2014 will continue to reflect strong demand for area properties as we usher out 2014.  

Please feel free to Contact Me at any time for a no obligation discussion about your real estate buyer and or selling objective.

Friday, July 11, 2014

57% of Ontarians Optimistic About Real Estate

The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA)  has partnered with market research firm Ipsos Reid to conduct a semi-annual province-wide research study that reflects how residents in Ontario view the current the residential real estate market. 

 For several years, various self proclaimed experts have touted  throughout the media that Canada's real estate market was over-heated, that the bubble was about to burst and Canadian homeowners should prepare themselves to see 15% to 20% or more of their home equity erased.  Such has yet to happen yet with a seemingly constant barrage of negative news about the Canadian real estate market you'd think the mood of consumers would be somber.

  The accompanying infographic (click on to enlarge) is the first release of the new OREA, Ispos Reid study.  Overall, Ontarians appear to feel optimistic about both the market outlook and home ownership.  Study results reflect that 57% feel this way with 34% believing the Ontario market will be even stronger next year.

In central Ontario where we are, 54% feel favourable towards the current market while 40% believe that conditions will be even better next year.  How this translates into the southern Georgina Bay region remains to be seen.  Many buyers in our market do not currently reside here.  Their purchasing motivation is often drive more by their desire to purchase a recreational property or on for retirement purposes.  I am sure that those living locally and employed in the retail or service sector would be far less optimistic that about a real estate purchase that someone from the Greater Toronto Area looking to invest in property in the area.

  This brings up two important issues relative to the future of Collingwood and the surrounding area especially in view of the upcoming municipal election this fall.  The first is economic development/job creation while the second is the question of affordable housing.   I will speak to these two issues in future posts.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MLS® Area Real Estate Sales Up 41% in June

 Following a sluggish market January through the end of March, area real estate sales rebounded very strongly in the second quarter ending with a blockbuster month in June, where MLS® dollar volume reached the highest level ever.

  MLS® unit sales in June were 30% higher than June of 2013 with 248 sales reported compared to 191 in June 2014.  MLS® dollar volume in June was $78.1 million, an increase of 41% over the $55.3 million worth of properties sold in June 2013 and the highest month on record for our area. 
  MLS® unit sales during the 2nd quarter of 680 properties represented an increase of 11% over the number of properties sold in 2nd quarter 2013.  Meanwhile, 2nd quarter MLS® dollar volume of $213.8 million reflected a 20% increase over the first six months of 2013.  Based on the strong sales performance during the 2nd quarter, we have erased the 6% year-to-date shortfall in sales revenue that existed at the end of March.  Year-to-date sales of $326.9 million, represents a 9% increase from the first six months of 2013 while year-to-date MLS® unit sales for individual properties is up increase of just 1% from one year ago.  The primary weakness in unit sales activity has been in the single family home segment of the market.  With the exception of Grey Highlands up 17% and the Municipality of Meaford which is up 28%, all other area municipalities are showing a reduction in single family home sales year-over-year.  Condominium sales overall have been very strong in 2014 with 196 MLS® condo re-sales reported year-to-date compared to 175 one year ago, an increase of 6%.
  During the first half of the year we have seen robust sales activity in the $500,000 to $1 million price range.  Sales between $500,000 and $750,000 are up 26% while sales in the $750,000 to $1 million price range are up 20% over last year.  At the lower end of the pricing scale, sales in the $200,000 to $350,000 price range are reflecting a 10% gain over last year with quality listings in the $300,000 to $350,000 range selling quickly.

  There continues to be an ongoing reduction in available inventory with the number of new listings year-to-date down 2%.  The number of expired listings has dropped 10% from one year ago as sellers either reduce their prices to induce a sale or they are simply taking their properties off the market having failed to attract a buyer.

 My own personal forecast is that we will continue to see strong sales activity through the balance of 2014.  As is often the case, the slowdown in sales activity that we experienced in the first three months of the year which was seemingly weather related, has served to create a pent up demand which explains the very strong sales activity that we experienced in the 2nd quarter.   

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why People Move

If you have your property currently listed for sale, and you are frustrated with the lack of progress in securing a Buyer there may be a number of reasons.  One of the key factors affecting our area unlike other markets such as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Buyer motivation.

  Most of you will agree that our lifestyle here in Canada is not much different than our counterparts in the U.S.  I can personally attest to that as I lived in the Chicago area for 4 years and travelled extensively through many of the 50 states.  I just read an article that was titled "More Americans Move for Families and Jobs."  I suspect the same applies here in Canada but not so much in our market.

  The article was based on a recent survey by the U.S. Census Bureau reflected that 48% of Americans make a move for housing related reasons.  This was down from almost 53% in 2004.  The other reasons (more than 50%) for a move were job related approximately 20% and family related 30%. 

  The report reflected than 5% choose to make a move simply to be closer to their work lessening their commute, this was up from 3% in 1993.  I am not surprised by this.  Commuting to work gets more onerous with each passing year, many Buyers are basing their purchasing decisions in the GTA in relation to their work location.  Adding to this is another report I recently read which indicated about 50% of “millennials,” those around 18+ years of age did not even have a driver’s license.  Seemingly their work and personal lives are intertwined in the city so “why do I need a car?” 

  In 1999, approximately 21% of Americans moved because they wanted a better house.  The latest report shows that this has dropped to 15% and I suspect an aging population wishing to down-size may have something to with it.  The same applies here in Canada.

 Buyer motivation in our area is quite different than in the GTA for example.  Moving to be closer to work is hardly a factor and in the absence of any strong economic development initiatives moving here for work is even less of a factor.  With the arrival of low interest rates, we have seen more people making a move to a larger/better home because they want or need one.

 So why are the majority of people buying here?  As a REALTOR® I can state with some authority that a great number of the Buyers we deal with are moving to the area for retirement purposes or to buy some recreational property.  Neither are terribly motivating factors and they are certainly not factors that require a sense of urgency which helps to explain why the number of “days-on-market” for properties in our area are much longer than in a market such as the GTA.  Many Buyers in this area are making a potential purchase or move simply because they want to.  Their move is not work related or even family related where it is tied into the end of a school year for example. 

  Once you eliminate the family and job related reasons for a move, you have effectively reduced the number of potential Buyers for our area which in turns adds to the time it takes to secure a Buyer for your property.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Creating An Outdoor Room

Walking through numerous retailers such as Canadian Tire, Home Depot and others it is not hard to see that with a wide variety of patio furniture and other accessories creating an "outdoor room" is all the rage.

 If you are in the process of trying to sell your home now is a great time of year to stage your patio or deck in a manner as to accentuate the potential outdoor living that buyers could enjoy.;  Little things like this can help to set your house apart from the competition in both the eyes of REALTORS®
as well as prospective buyers.

Here is a good article with 50 Outdoor Room Ideas to help inspire you in creating your own special outdoor living area.  For more ideas you can also visit my Outdoor Living Pinterest page.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Area Real Estate Sales Up 11% in May

 Following the lackluster real estate market of the first quarter, activity has started to come back reflecting a higher level of sales typically associated with the arrival of spring. Periods such as what we experienced through this past winter where demand softened this year due to the harsh winter, typically serve to create a pent-up demand and this time was no exception.

MLS® sales reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Associationof REALTORS® during May reflected an 11% increase in unit sales for the month versus May 2013 while dollar volume for the month was up 14%.  While stronger sales through both April and May have helped to lessen the impact of the weak sales activity we experienced January through March, MLS® unit sales are still trailing behind 2013 particularly for single family homes.

  Through the end of May, year-to-date MLS® unit sales total 785 properties down 5% from the 830 sales reported in 2013. MLS® single family home sales reflect a 9% decrease from last year with 501 sales in 2014 versus 552 last year.  Conversely condominium sales are up 14% with 159 MLS® sales this year compared to 139 for the first 5 months of 2014.  Despite the fact that total MLS® unit sales are down this year, stronger sales at the upper end market has resulted in higher dollar revenue.  Year-to-date dollar volume of $248.3 million is 2% higher than in 2013 when sales totaled $243.3 million.

  With the exception of Grey Highlands which is up 24% and the Municipality of Meaford up 9%, all other area municipalities are experiencing a reduction in single family home sales this year.  The results are as follows: Clearview -29%, Collingwood -21%, Blue Mountains -7% and Wasaga Beach -6%.  Some of this sales shortfall is due to availability with certain housing types in very short supply.  Bungalows and other homes in the $250,000 to $300,000 are very much in demand and supply is limited.  Meanwhile, year-to-date MLS® listings which total 2,870 units reflects a 3% decrease in the number of new listings that came to market in 2013.  Expired MLS® listings are also down, 11% from one year ago.  These two factors have served to reduce the amount of housing inventory on the market leading to more balanced market conditions with a greater emphasis for successfully a property driven by the price.

  With our overall economic conditions remaining in relatively good shape and the continuation of low interest rates, I forecast that we will continue to see some strong sales activity through the balance of 2014.  Whether it is simply to attract a buyer or to satisfy mortgage requirements, competitively pricing a property is of paramount important in securing a sale for your property. 

If you are thinking of selling, contact me for a no obligation evaluation of you property and let me put my Market Value Appraiser skills to work for you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Real Estate Sales Continue to Lag Behind Last Year

After a harsh winter which saw 1st quarter MLS® unit real estate activity in our area decline 13% from one year ago, sales during April started to rebound yet still remained below the level of April 2013.  Monthly residential unit sales recorded through the MLS® system of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® came in 7% below April 2013 with 196 sales reported in April of this year compared to one year ago.  At the same time, the number of new listings that came onto the market in April increased 2% from the prior year.  This was also in sharp contrast to March when we saw the number of new listings plunge 24% from March of 2013.  Coincidentally, MLS® dollar sales in April actually rose by 7% coming in at $61.2 million compared to $57.0 million in April 2013.  April of this year saw 27 sales above $500,000 whereas in April 2013 there were just 17.  This was a significant contributor to the increased dollar sales while unit sales decreased. 

Year-to-date MLS® sales now total 549 units, down 11% from the 617 properties sold in the first four months of 2013 while MLS® dollar volume for the year of $173.7 million is 2% below the same period last year. 

 To the end of April, we have seen an 8% decrease in the number of new MLS® listings that have come onto the market.  This combined with an 11% reduction in the number of expired MLS® listings has resulted in less available inventory relative to sales serving to create a more balance market overall.

The municipalities of Meaford and Grey Highlands continue to exhibit a strong demand with year-to-date sales up 36% and 30% respectively.  All other area Municipalities are seeing decreases in year-to-date MLS® sales activity ranging anywhere from 7% to 37% below the first four months of 2013.

  The single family home segment of the market is where the brunt of the year-to-date sales shortfall resides.  To the end of April, there have been 348 single family homes sold which represents 12% fewer sales in 2014 versus the same period last year.  Condominium sales on the other hand have remained relatively consistent with last year with 105 sales year-to-date, just 2 less than in 2013.

  As is typically the case, the arrival of spring brings with it a revival of real estate sales activity.  The sluggish MLS® sales activity that we have experienced in the first four months of 2014 may prove to be nothing more than a weather related slowdown in the demand for area real estate creating a pent-up demand that we may see fulfilled in the next several months.   

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Clock is Ticking, Time for One Last Play in the Remediation Game

 Over the past several months I have refrained from openly blogging myself about the various issues taking place in our community, focusing instead on real estate and other related matters.  I have on occasion posted some of my comments on other blogger's sites specifically "Enough Is Enough" and "View From A Nobody" while I sit back and deliberate on what is going on in our community and more importantly, how do we fix it?

  This past Monday I sat in on the Council meeting primarily to see first hand, how Council was going to deal with the lingering mess known as the Admiral Collingwood site at the corner of Hume and Hurontario Streets. Today I emailed the Enterprise Bulletin the following as a Letter to the Editor and in the event it is not published I thought I would share it herein.

To The Enterprise Bulletin

This letter is in response to your story titled “Remediation deadline for Admiral property delayed two weeks” pertaining to the pond at the corner of Hume and Hurontario Streets.  While attending the Council meeting of Monday April 28th I could not help but recall a commitment made in the football theme “Half Time” newsletter that Council inserted into our February 2013 Collus bills.  In keeping with the game context of said newsletter, let’s compare the current situation.

  In last year’s four page full colour newsletter to their constituents, Council outlined their “second half game plan” which included the following statement regarding Admiral Collingwood and the Shipyards and I quote: “Encourage the developers to finish the project this term.”  Fourteen months later, the playing field hasn’t changed, these sites remain untouched and team Collingwood continues to fumble the ball despite their assurances to us of the contrary.

  Anyone that has followed this situation knows that the development at the corner of Hume and Hurontario Streets has gone through so many rule changes that a “time out” has now been called by the developers.  With their legal counsel sitting on the sidelines and billing taxpayers by the hour, team Collingwood must now revise their second half game plan for one final play of the game late in the 4th quarter.  This is yet another unfortunate delay in the game with the citizens of Collingwood (the fans) becoming increasingly restless and disenchanted.  Only those fans wishing to see the game played fairly with a positive outcome remain in their seats, loyal to the cause while everyone else heads for the nearest exit.    

  This delay of game need never have happened for as in most games there are rules.  In the development game rules consist of official plans, zoning by-laws, site plan agreements and other stipulations some of which can be amended.  The rules of the game for the Corner of Hume and Hurontario Street were all very evident going in including the fact that the property resides in the Town’s Heritage Conservation district.  The developer’s desire to change the rules initiated a fan revolt.  Once the rules were changed in favour of the developer’s team, a cold economic wind had blown in.  Further, fans didn’t like the developer team’s game plan, the cold stadium seats remained unsold and the team folded.

  Since the outset, there have been so many rule and player changes that the game has now become a free-for-all.  We’ve gone from a highly organized and strategically played game of football to the mayhem of dodge ball where virtually anything goes.  Despite their best yet unrealistic intentions of having Admiral Collingwood and the Shipyards completed “this term,” Council has now seemingly abandoned that game plan, thrown away the rule book and adopted once again the developer’s play book which is what got us to where we are in the first place.  I suspect the two week delay of game will result in team Collingwood running to their own goal line effectively scoring on themselves. 

  The clock is ticking down the final few seconds, team Collingwood is trailing, time for one more play in the game.  What to do?  Grant the developers the one year extension (yet another delay of game) that one of them is requesting with the provision that some minor site remediation be done in the next 60 days. This is after all the southern gateway to our downturn core and we’ve endured an unkempt playing field far too long.  Fans will soon be arriving in the form of the summer tourist crowd not to mention the Town’s beloved Elvis fans.  A one year extension places the future of this site in the hands of the incoming Council, one in which we hope will be more effective in developing a game plan that will deliver a final product worthy of this landmark location and of an aesthetic and financial benefit to the community.  

  The loyal fans of team Collingwood cannot and will not take much more.  In order for the game to be effectively played out, the field conditions need to improve and the established rules need to be consistently followed.  The current team Collingwood is so dysfunctional; it clearly isn’t up to the task.  It’s time to fire the coach, make some player trades and put others on waivers.

  I do not mean to make light of this festering situation but you can't help but put a comedic spin on this multi-year comedy of errors.  How many more acts of political theatrics must we endure before either (a) the site is cleaned up while it awaits a potential new owner or (b) the current developers get on with a marketable project(s) that meets the needs and demands of commercial tenants, residential buyers or a combination of both.

  Official plans, zoning by-laws and other municipally adopted policies and regulations are in place specifically to guide development in an effective and controlled manner.  As I said above, the ball has and continues to be fumbled and or tossed around with no real attempt at following any rules much less successfully carrying it down the field to score a touchdown.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Hits New Record For Monthly Visits

As I have stated on numerous prior occasions, along with other products and services, the Internet has had a profound impact on the marketing of real estate.  Print advertising continues to decline and loose traction in its effectiveness as more and more consumers look online for virtually everything from big ticket items such as cars and homes to smaller, everyday commodities like books, clothes and everything in between. has long been the website of choice for Canadian consumers to search out their next home, cottage or other property.  Contrary to popular belief, is not the MLS® used by REALTORS® which prompted the name change from to several years ago. is merely a consumer real estate website owned and maintained by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) where MLS® listed properties are posted, in order to expose them to potential buyers across both Canada and globally.

 The month of April has seen a number of significant milestones for CREA’s technology products including attracted 22.4 million visitors in April, which set a new record for the site. It also exceeded 6.7 million mobile sessions with more and more Canadian using their smart phones and tablets to access the Internet. 

  If you have your home, condominium or other property listed for sale via MLS® and doubt the impact that a strong Internet presence offers I suggest you speak to your listing REALTOR®.  They have a back door pass so-to-speak which provides a summary of the number of consumer views your listing is attracting and this is often a good indicator as to the market activity that exists for your type of property at any given time.

  If you are a frequent visitor to I would love to hear from you, what your device of choice is to access the site.  Is it a desktop, laptop computer, your iPhone, iPad or another mobile device?

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Spring - Come Out of Hibernation

  Other than on the ski slopes and up on top of the escarpment, the snow is almost gone and the ice coverage is retreating from the Bay.  It's been a long cold winter and most are glad to be getting back outdoors to partake in warm weather activities.

  I have been assessing some of the clean up work needed around my own home and it is extensive!  With all the snow we've had this winter there is an abnormal amount of sand on my lawn thanks to the liberal amount of sanding that was needed on our snow covered streets this winter.

  Many of you may be thinking about getting back out into the yard for clean-up and other gardening chores.  Not where to start?  My Home Cents Help Tip titled "Spring Out of Hibernation" may help you.  

  If you are perhaps thinking of selling this year, creating strong curb appeal is an important aspect of getting your home ready for market.  It not only creates a positive image and feel when prospective buyers arrive to look at your property but a well kept home appearance-wise suggests that it has probably received due care relative to other maintenance task.  A neglected home in terms of its appearance suggests that other aspects of the property such as the mechanical systems may have been neglected as well.  Buyer are fussy and with three times the number of homes listed for sales versus those that sell, they have plenty of choice.  

  Make sure that your property "stands out" from the rest of the competition.  Start by improving the exterior to create a good first impression and a positive story about the rest of the property.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Sale Is Dead - What Happens to The Deposit?

  Buyers and Sellers entering into a real estate Agreement of Purchase and Sale are usually at opposite ends of the spectrum on a number of issues the most important of which is money.  Obviously the purchase price is the biggest hurtle to agree on, secondary to that, deposits can sometimes be a thorny issue as well.

  Contrary to what you may believe, an Agreement of Purchase and Sale is a binding contract even if there is “zero” monies paid as a deposit.  A contract is made based on considerations being made.  In real estate, the considerations made in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale includes the Seller transferring the title to the property to the Buyer.  It may also require the Seller to include specific items ie: the appliances and other things that are specified in the Agreement.  Similarly the Buyer agrees to pay the Seller the agreed to purchase price on a specific date etc.  All of these items are essentially promises that are being made by both parties in the terms of the contract.  What makes the contract binding is not the deposit but the fact that the Agreement is signed “under seal.”  As you will note on most real estate forms, signatures are make next to a small black seal and the Agreement is noted as being SIGNED, SEALED and DELIVERED…..

  Virtually all Agreements of Purchase and Sale do however include a deposit the mount of which can vary.  There is no specified or accepted deposit amount ie: 10% of the purchase price etc.  The deposit is a further show of good faith by the Buyer.  The amount of the deposit is not only based on price but also the length of the closing date is an important factor as well.  If a Buyer purchases a property with a long closing date ie: 6 months with say a $2,000 deposit, there is not much of a deterrent for them to not complete the Agreement if all they have at risk monetarily is $2,000.
  Most real estate transactions today have “conditions” that for the most part need to be satisfied by the Buyer.  These can include the sale of the Buyer’s current home, securing a mortgage to complete their purchase, obtaining a satisfactory home inspection report and so on.  Conditions are typically worded such that if they have not been either satisfied or waived by the Buyer by a set date and time, “…the offer shall become null and void and the deposit shall be returned to the Buyer in full without deduction.”  Seldom are deposits “non-refundable” unless specified as such which is rare.  Sellers are as a rule not eligible to keep the Buyer’s deposit even when the Seller feels the Buyer has reneged on the terms of the Agreement. 

  Deposits are for the most part held in the trust account of the real estate Brokerage representing the Seller(s).  So what happens with the deposit when an Agreement of Purchase and Sale becomes null and void or should a conflict arise between a Seller(s) and Buyer(s) and the Agreement is not completed?
  Real estate Brokerages can release a Buyer’s deposit one of two ways.  When an Agreement is aborted, the Seller and Buyer sign a “Mutual Release.”  This releases both parties from the contract, the Brokerage holding the deposit refunds it to the Buyer(s) and life come goes.  If either the Seller or Buyer refuses to sign a Mutual Release it may be an indication that one of the two parties is going to litigate in an attempt to make the Agreement enforceable.  Should that be the case, the only way in which a Brokerage can release a deposit to the Buyer is via a Court Order.  

  If you are a Seller, you want a sufficient enough of a deposit so as to feel comfortable that the Buyer is committed.  A relatively large deposit potentially signifies that the Buyer(s) have the financial ability to complete the transaction.  As a Buyer, you naturally may want to cough up as small a deposit as possible as most deposits are held on non-interest bearing trust accounts.  This means that if your money is sitting in a real estate Brokerage’s trust account for several months, it is not earning you any interest.  As a Buyer, providing a larger deposit shows you are serious and depending on the Seller it may give you more leverage with respect to negotiating the price, closing date and other terms that you want.

  I hope you find this information helpful and I encourage your comments.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Technology Can Make or Break a Deal

 Even those of you that may be not so inclined to use it extensively will readily agree that technology has and will continue to impact our lives.  I am an ardent believer and typically an early adopter of technology, provided it offers a meaningful purpose.  At the same time however, it is not meant to replace the personal contact or the human oversight that is a hugely important part of a legal transaction such as real estate.

  It is not uncommon during the real estate transaction to have documents transmitted back and forth between both REALTORS® and their respective clients via fax or more likely email.  All real estate documents in the province of Ontario have been reformatted to letter versus legal sized pages for this purpose.  While this mode of document transmittal is fast and in the case of email much more legible than faxing, it does not lessen the burden on all parties of making sure the required forms are fully and legally executed.

  Today’s forms require initials on every page to ensure none are missed, and any and all changes must be initialed by both the Buyers and Sellers.  I just read an article titled “How Email Killed the Deal” in a real estate publication I follow that went like this.  A recent court case arose when a change in price on an Agreement of Purchase and Sale had not been fully endorsed or acknowledged by both, the Buyers and Sellers resulting from an initial(s) and or a signature(s) having been missed on the documents.  Who was at fault?   In this case it was the REALTOR® for the Buyers.  The Buyers were under the impression they had an accepted offer at one price whereas in the Seller’s mind it was a higher price.  The matter went to court and due to the missing initial(s) the Judge ruled there was in fact no contract.  The Buyers got their deposit back but no house and the Sellers lost a sale.

  All of this stemmed from the fact that documents had been transmitted back and forth as attachments to emails but were seemingly not opened and checked by one or both REALTORS® to make sure that all changes etc. were duly executed by both the Buyers and the Sellers.  With something as complex as today’s real estate transactions, no amount of technology can take the place of the required human intervention and care as is required to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s.  This is where a trained and conscientious REALTOR® must exercise due care on behalf of their clients.  Even when not dealing with people face-to-face, I always make a call during which we review the documents, I answer any questions and most importantly cover all the areas where they need to initial and sign.  Just one missing initial can create a loophole thus jeopardizing a sale so it’s a matter of checking and double checking everything.

  In my next post I will explain the process of what happens with Buyer’s deposits when a real estate transaction is aborted.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Five Biggest Turn-Offs For Homebuyers

  On March 25th I did a posting titled "5 Tips To Help Sell Your Property" which I hope my readers that may be trying or are thinking of selling found useful.

  While scanning through some of the real estate websites that I follow this morning I came across an article summarizing "The Five Biggest Turn-Offs For Homebuyers."  It came as no surprise that these five things dovetailed with the five issues I raised a week ago, here they are:

  1. Overpricing for the market
  2. Smells
  3. Clutter
  4. Deferred maintenance
  5. Dark, dated decor
  If you currently have your home for sale and have not attracted a Buyer as yet or if you are thinking of listing this spring, this is a great article from which you could create a checklist of "to-do's" that will get your property ready and in prime shape to attract interested Buyers and the top price!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Winter's Cold Chills Area Real Estate Sales in First Quarter

 While this is shaping up to be one of the best and longest ski and snowboard seasons ever, this winter’s excessive snowfall and bitter temperatures have sent somewhat of a chill to area real estate activity during the first quarter of 2014.

  MLS® dollar sales in January were down 28%, similarly unit sales activity also dropped 27% from the prior year.  The month of February posted an 11% increase in MLS® dollar sales volume for the month even though unit sales for the month declined 14%.  February’s sales volume was bolstered by increased sales activity in most price ranges above $500,000 thus offsetting the reduced number of properties sold.  While MLS® sales in March continued to trend below that of 2013, the drop was not nearly as pronounced as in the prior two months.  MLS® dollar sales in March were 3% below that of March 2013 while unit sales for the month trailed 10% behind last year’s results.

  Given the see-saw affect we have experienced in sales January through March, year-to-date MLS® sales for the first quarter totals $113.2 million, a drop of $7.7 million or 6% below first quarter sales of 2013.  MLS® unit sales of 335 properties through the end of March are 51 sales fewer or 13% less than the number of properties that traded hands in the first quarter of 2013.

  As was forecast, we continue to see a reduction in the number of new listings coming onto the market which is leading to more balanced market conditions favouring neither Sellers, nor Buyers to any significant degree.  This of course varies by area and price range however the market overall remains stable.  Year-to-date the number of new MLS® listings reported in 2014 totals 1,365 properties, down 13% from one year ago.  Similarly, expired listings which total 722 properties for the first quarter of the year are also down 12% from the first three months of 2013.

  The reduction in year-to-date sales activity is being felt right across the Georgian Triangle with virtually every municipality reflecting softer sales in the first three months of 2014 compared to one year ago.  Year-to-date single family home sales in Collingwood of 44 properties are off 44% through the end of March.  Results for other area municipalities are as follows: Clearview down 38%, the Blue Mountains down 27%, Wasaga Beach down 21% while the Municipality of Meaford is just 5% off of lasts year’s pace.  Grey Highlands is the only municipality that has experienced an increase in single family home sales this year with 26 sales reflecting a 53% increase over the first quarter of 2013.  In total, single family home sales are down 21% with 220 homes sold year-to-date compared to 278 in the first three months of 2013.  Area condominium sales meanwhile are down 9% this year with 63 sales so far, just 6 less than the same time last year.

  While sales activity this year has reflected a softer market overall, weather seems to be the common denominator through the region.  Economic factors, interest rates and consumer confidence all bode well for strong sales activity as we head into the traditionally active spring market.  Slowdowns such as we have seen over the pasts three months, typically serves to establish a pent-up demand and with better weather soon to be upon us, sales will no doubt increase as the temperature rises.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Are Your Priorities in a Home

While not as pronounced as in some industries, housing trends are always in some state of flux.  Family needs, changes in consumer attitudes and other circumstances all have an impact on housing choices and the places we call home.

  Owing to the severe winter we have had, Enbridge (gas) has applied for and has been approved to implement a 40% increase for natural gas effective April 1st. That is a heft increase and will increase the average heating bill by about $400 per year.  We all know about the cost of hydro and Collingwood has just announced user rate increases for sewer and water.  Where or will it all end?

  I read a recent real estate article that summarized what new home builders in the U.S. are finding with respect to consumer demands and not surprisingly, energy efficiency is high on the list. See the accompanying graph I have prepared ranking what home buyers place an importance on.

  Today I came across another article titled 4 Trends That Predict The Home of Tomorrow.  In this article, "extreme energy efficiency" was ranked as the #1 trend for homes of the future.

  Increasingly, I am finding that energy efficiency is becoming more and more of a priority with Buyers in our area.  Electric heat is especially frowned upon and a house where someone was killed may be viewed by some Buyers as having less of a stigma than the electric baseboards.

  What are your thoughts?  How high does energy efficiency rank on your list of priorities with respect to a home?  Take my online survey to the right above and I'll do a posting sharing the results.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 Tips To Help Sell Your Property

 Contrary to what you may or want to believe, successfully listing and negotiating the sale of  your home or other property is much more of an art than it is luck.  Below are five proven tips that if followed, will help you get the best price in the most reasonable amount of time.  While it's no guarantee and other market factors may be working against you, these are nonetheless proven factors in successfully getting the inevitable sale results you are hoping to achieve.   

Create Great Curb.  Like the saying says “you only get one chance to make a good first impression.”  Most home buyers want homes which look great from the outside. It's not just a question of curb appeal it's also about buyer perception. If a home looks good from the street it probably means the property has pride of ownership, has been well cared for and is ready for a new occupant without a lot of cost or aggravation for the new owner(s). Buyers have less interest in a home that doesn't appeal to them from the street and some may not even get out of the car to look inside.

De-clutter Your Home.  I am often amazed when I show properties just how much clutter there can be.  When your home is for sale, it is not the time to be showcasing your beer bottle collection or Elvis memorabilia.  I always ask myself, “why is the listing REALTOR® not addressing this with the owners?”  A clutter-free home offer fewer distractions allowing the buyer to visualize there furniture and belonging there.  It will make interior spaces look larger and eliminates the need to get rid of stuff when you are in the midst of moving.  Sometimes it may make sense to donate unwanted items or otherwise reduce clutter before a home is placed on the market.  Rent a small storage unit perhaps to put excess "stuff."  This is not only a good marketing initiative but it also serves as a practical step toward relocation.  If you are really committed to a move, start packing now.

Good Working Mechanicals.  
Make sure that your home's systems such as the furnace, air conditioner, central vacuum and others are in good repair and that they function properly.  This will help to ensure they meet the scrutiny of a professional home inspection. Homes with good mechanicals are much more appealing to buyers that are fearful of major repair expenses.

Seek Pre-qualified Buyers.  While many sales may be for cash, the majority still require financing.  At one time, mortgage financing was somewhat of a given but times have changed.  It is frustrating to enter into a sales contract with a potential buyer who ultimately cannot obtain the required financing to purchase your home.  Have your listing REALTOR® determine if the buyers that are contemplating making an offer or have made an offer on your home have been pre-approved.  While still not a guarantee, pre-approval of a buyer(s) is a much strong indicator that the financing condition in an offer will be fulfilled.

Price and Negotiate Properly.  Pricing your home correctly at the outset means everything!  In addition to overall economic and market conditions, such factors as location, amenities and condition are just some of the characteristics that impact the price.  When an offer is received, the terms in that offer should be given equal consideration as to price.  A strong price along with a myriad of conditions and a long closing date may not be as attractive as a cleaner offer with fewer conditions, a shorter close and lower price.  These are all things to consider and need to be discussed with your REALTOR® during offer deliberation and subsequent negotiations.  

Send me your selling and or buying questions on Facebook and I will be glad to provide answers to you without obligation.   

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

10 Things You Need To Know When Making An Offer

  As we get closer to spring, many of you may be contemplating a home or other type of property purchase.  Once you have found a home that you’d like to submit an offer on. The next and most important question you ask yourself and your REALTOR® is how much do we offer? 
  The following are 10 things that you need to know in order to help you formulate an offer and a negotiating strategy.  I have separated these 10 things into two distinct categories.

Market Conditions

- What are the list and sale prices of similar properties, preferably sin the same 
   general area?
- What is the current trend in prices, up, down or stable?  What is the ratio     
   between the list and sale prices.
- What is the current supply and demand in the area you are looking? In a high \
   demand low supply market you may be faced with competing offers.       
   Conversely in an area or price range with lots of inventory you are not.
- What is the absorption rate ie: the number of month’ supply of inventory in the 
   area? Less inventory in a given area can make for a more competitive market for 
- What is the “average time on market?” Because listings expire and properties are    often re-listed for sale, the cumulative time that a property has been on the 
   market is important.

Property Facts

- Is the property you are considering well kept, up to date and in good condition   
  of are substantial repairs and upgrades needed?
- What sis the cumulative length of time on market for the property?  Substantial 
  days-on-market can signify slow market conditions, a pricing issue with the 
   property or some other form of problem such as location, deficiencies in the 
   home etc.
- What is the seller’s motivation?  Often it is not possible to find this out and the 
   REALTOR® that has listed the property is obligated to keep his Seller client’s 
   motivation private.  They may however have an offer on something themselves 
   or are otherwise anxious to get the property sold so you can always ask.
- What terms is the Seller looking for?  The cleaner the offer with fewer 
   conditions the better.  Having pre-approval of your financing or being able to 
   make a cash offer with a short closing gives you a lot more leverage to negotiate 
- What is the sales history for the property?  While what someone paid for a 
   property is somewhat irrelevant, it is very easy for a REALTOR®  to check 
   land registry records in order to see what a property last sold for.  Using that 
   information, plus allowing for increases or decreases in market values plus the 
   cost of any improvements that have been made will assist you in determining a 
   fair price for the property today.
By obtaining answers to these 10 questions, you will have some valuable insight into preparing an offer and then further negotiating the process that will allow you to arrive at a purchase price that represents fair market value for both you and the Seller.  Contact me to learn more.    

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Kind of Story Does Your Home Convey?

  I was cleaning up some things around my house the other day, and is usually the case with most of us you come across all manner of things.  Old photos, clothes, miscellaneous things picked up on trips, things that belonged to my kids, my ex-wife, my parents and so on.  Essentially, I came to the conclusion that our homes, the places we live, really tell a story about our lives.

 Whether you are thinking about selling your present home or buying a new one, there is one important question to be asked in either scenario.  What story does your home or the property you are considering buying convey?  Is it a happy story?  Is it a story that reflects pride of ownership, care and fond memories or is it a story about neglect, despair or other less apparent negative connotations?  I am by no means a suspicious person but I’ve had occasions over the years when I walk into a house and it just gives off a bad vibe.  There were holes in the doors or drywall perhaps suggesting some family violence, a bad smell permeated the place or it was just in otherwise poor condition.  Different stories can have a significant impact on the sale of a property including the price, how long it takes to sell and perhaps even if it sells at all.

  Being the author of a positive story about your home is especially important for sellers.  If you indeed really do want to move and sell, success in attracting a buyer and maximizing your investment with depend on you being the author of a compelling story about your home that conveys a positive message to buyers.  That message will reassure them that the home has been well cared for, that it will continue to serve as a place where enjoyable living and fond memories will be ensured for you and your family.

  There are many things you can do to create a positive story about your home but let's just start with the basics.  Read my 10 things to do before you list your home for sale or Contact Me and  I would be happy to visit your property without obligation to give you some pointers on what you might need to do in terms of creating a great story about your home.

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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