Thursday, January 30, 2014

Announcing My Live Play - Georgian Bay APP

  I have commented from time to time in prior posts about how much technology has changed not just our daily lives.  It has also had a profound impact on entire industries and professions including the role of REALTORS®.

  Smartphone and mobile device usage has grown significantly over the past couple of years.  It’s not just our kid’s texting that has increased mobile device usage.  CBC News reported back in July of last year that Smartphone usage by Canadian adults had increased 33% from the prior year.  With this in mind, I am very pleased and excited to announce the launch of my own real estate APP, Live Play – Georgian Bay which I believe is the first such APP for our area. 
   
  Available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices as well as HTML for Blackberry and similar platforms,  Live Play – Georgian Bay is aimed at providing consumers with current and relevant information that will assist them with their real estate buying and selling needs.  Our role as REALTORS® has changed, much of it driven by technology but also by the changing demands of today’s consumer.  As professionals, consumers expect and need their REALTOR® to readily provide a degree of information, knowledge and service with respect to real estate that is consistent with the degree of expertise they receive from their lawyer or accountant.

  More than just an MLS® search tool, I have developed Live Play – Georgian Bay in such a manner as to give users access to an abundance of information via their Smarthphone or mobile device including my quarterly Georgian Triangle Real Estate News and Condo Communique newsletters, blog posts, open house notices, access to Royal LePAGE TV help videos and more.  I have endeavoured to develop an APP that will both engage and inform my clients and users.  My intent is to build an online community, a place where users can share photos of their new or perhaps dream home, their latest home renovation project or to simply ask questions or post comments.    

  While I believe my APP is the first of its kind in the area, it will not remain static or stale.  I will continue to refine its features in tandem with today’s ever changing technology and in accordance with what people want.  As REALTORS® we must demonstrate our knowledge and willingness to assist consumers without expecting anything in immediate return.  With my APP and other initiatives such as this blog, I not only want to keep my current and past clients informed about our local real estate market but I hope my efforts will provide a degree knowledge and service to others, earning their respect, trust and perhaps future real estate business in the years ahead.

 Please click on this link to download the correct APP for your respective device.  After exploring its use I would love to hear your feedback and do not hesitate to mention other features you would like to see. 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dealing With the Home Inspection Condition Part 2

When dealing with the terms of an Agreement of Purchase and Sale, Sellers and Buyers often face-off over issues that me be identified as the result of the Buyer’s home inspection, which can jeopardize not only the negotiation process but the very sale itself

  Just like humans, every home will have its own personality if you will.  Certain characteristics and yes issues that may or may not constitute a “fault” and a reason for a Buyer to either abort the purchase, or solicit a price reduction.   Just as Sellers need to address the appearance of their home from a cosmetic standpoint when listing their home for sale, attention should also be paid to maintenance issues that have been neglected.  Does the roof need to be repaired or replaced?  Is there evidence of water leaks such as stains in the ceiling?  Are plumbing faucets leaking, have some windows lost their seals and are fogged up.  These are all factors that (a) represent how well a home has been maintained and (b) are  items that a good home inspector will identify and flag in a report along with some issues that may not be readily visible to the casual observer.

Depending on the property, Sellers may be well advised to have their own home inspection done prior to listing.  This is not meant to take the place of a Buyer’s home inspection but it will serve top identify items that should be addressed prior to listing the home for sale and eventually haggling with a Buyer over.

  From my experience, most Buyers are reasonable.  Buyers looking at a century old farmhouse will for the most part be prepared to deal with a host of things that a home inspector may find.  That is part of owning an old house.  Someone buying a newer home however may not be so tolerant.  Regular maintenance of small items that have been neglected will probably not be questioned by a Buyer as most of these will be duly noted when the Buyer views the property.  Personally, I do not feel that a Buyer should be looking to amend a price to repair items that were clearly visible when they viewed the property that is simply a Buyer trying to take advantage of someone.   It is the larger unforeseen items that are uncovered via a home inspection that will no doubt raise concerns and perhaps bring about a change of heart with the Buyer.  Is there inadequate insulation in the attic?  Is their aluminum or in the case of older homes, knob and tube wiring present?  Galvanized pipe in older homes is another issue that is of concern?  Is the furnace and or air conditioner, or the swimming pools liner on their last legs?  These are just a small sample of what a home inspection might uncover that could impact a Buyer’s decision to move forward with their purchase of a specific property.

  As a REALTOR®, I may handle the situation differently if I am representing the interests of a Buyer versus a Seller.  The following are some of the options available to Buyers and Sellers in terms of how to negotiate dealing with issues that may arise from a home inspection. 
  • -          First, the Buyer may simply not fulfill or waive their home inspection condition by the required date.  As such the deal becomes null and void and the buyer’s deposit is returned to them.
  • -          Second, the Buyer requests (in writing) that in exchange for the Seller fixing the items at the Sellers expense prior to the closing date, the Buyer will remove their condition and firm up the purchase.
  • -           Third, the Buyer can ask to have the previously agreed to price amended ie: reduced in order that they do the needed repairs at their own expense after closing.  This price reduction can be done up front or it may be done as a credit to the Buyer on closing.

 Sometimes a Seller may dig in their heels and insist that they will do nothing to remedy a problem that may have been identified in a home inspection.  That is most likely not the most prudent position to take.   Being unwilling to fix a problem or consenting to a price adjustment may result in losing the sale and they will only have to face the same issue with the next Buyer that comes along.

  As always, my best advice to Sellers is to get your home in top shape before you list it for sale.  In the event your home needs something like a new roof, furnace or other such item and the funds are simply not available that’s okay.  Your REALTOR® can price the property accordingly which should take the item off the table when it comes time to negotiate with a Buyer as the issue has theoretically at least already been dealt with via the price.


  For additional information about home inspections, see my Home Cents Help Tip “The Importance of a Home InspectionBefore Buying.”

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dealing With the Home Inspection Condition

One of the often contentious issues regarding the sale of a property is the attainment of a satisfactory home inspection report.  This aspect of selling a home or condo need not be the confrontational situation that it sometimes turns out to be and sometimes it’s not the property but rather the REALTORS® and or the home inspector that is to blame.

  Most Agreements of Purchase and Sale threes days will contain a home inspection condition which has been inserted on behalf of the Buyer.  What does this condition stipulate?  The condition is worded as such that the offer is “conditional” upon the Buyer obtaining a home inspection report that is satisfactory to the Buyer in the Buyer’s sole and absolute discretion.   Failing this, the offer can become null and void and the Buyer’s deposit is returned in full to the Buyer without deduction.  In the event issues with the home are uncovered during an inspection, there are several remedies which can be made so as to keep the Agreement alive.

  Sometimes when representing a Buyer where we have completed a home inspection, the Seller’s REALTOR® will call me asking, “..did the house pass the home inspection?”  A home inspection is not a test.  There is no passing or failing.  A home inspection is simply a report detailing as best as the inspector can following a visual inspection, the condition of the property at that point in time.  No home is perfect not even new or ultra expensive ones.  One home inspector that I use and respect, often does inspections on homes in new subdivisions.  Time and again he has found the same issues in most if not all homes built by a particular builder.  It’s not necessarily a fault or even a building code violation, it’s just a repetitive characteristic found in these homes or condos that may pose a problem down the road or may detract from the energy efficiency of the property etc.


  Just as a home inspection is not meant to be a test, it’s also not meant to be a ways and means of driving down a previously agreed to price.  Often Sellers approach the home inspection condition with fear and trepidation and that need not be the case.  Again when home inspections create problems, it’s often the REALTOR® or the home inspector that is to blame.  In my next post I will cover what Sellers can do in preparation for the inevitable home inspection and some of the available options that Buyers and Sellers have when addressing items of concern that has arisen during the home inspection process.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kitchen Renovations on a Budget

The holidays are over, decorations have been packed away, the kids are back in school and daily life is back to normal.  At this time of year, many people turn their attention to addressing interior improvements to their homes before they are distracted with outside chores when spring arrives.

  As a REALTOR®, people ask my opinion all the time about what they should do to their home or condo to make it more attractive and or more salable.  While some of their ideas have merit, not all are good investments.  Read any home improvement magazine or simple Google "Top 10 Renos for Your Home" and it is almost guaranteed that kitchen and bathroom makeovers will be the top two projects that homeowners can do which will have the greatest impact while adding value.

  Unfortunately, these areas of a home are also about the most expensive to address especially if you lack the skills to do much of the work yourself.  Renovating a kitchen or bath however need not break the bank.  With a little imagination and effort you can get some fairly dramatic results without the need of a second mortgage or depleting the kids college fund.

These pictures illustrate what can be done on a limited budget with a reasonable level of home improvement skills.  This happens to be my own kitchen and I wanted to share with you what I've did. The 20 year cabinets were painted with a different palette for the uppers and lowers.  New hardware in a brushed nickle finish was added.  In order to dress up what are typical builder-grade cabinets, I added a crown moulding to the uppers giving them a more expensive
 look.  I also added a valance below along with some
LED under cabinet lights.

Once the painting  was complete I replaced the counters with a very distinctive Formica pattern called Petrified Wood and finished behind with a Travertine marble back splash.  Lastly I installed a new sink with a brushed nickle finished faucet to match the cabinet hardware.

None of this work was particularly difficult and it
is certainly within the skill level of anyone with
some basic home improvement skills.  I will caution
you however, this is not a one weekend project.  The cabinet doors and drawers must be sanded down for
good paint adhesion, I also washed mine with TSP.  A coat of primer was then applied followed by three coats of the final paint colour.  With over two dozen
doors and drawers this took some time.  Also, I can
not stress the importance of using a good quality paint, mine was Benjamin Moore's trim and cabinet paint purchased from Robinson's Paint in Collingwood.

So, you make be asking what was the cost?   Here is a breakdown of what I spent (excluding my labour of
course).

Paint                                  210.00
New Counters                   544.00
Stainless Steel Sink          170.00
New Faucet (50% off)      112.00
Marble Tiles                     190.00
Cabinet Hardware              60.00
LED Cabinet Lights            40.00
Miscellaneous Supplies    120.00

TOTAL                        $1,446.00

   I think you will agree that for less than $1,500.00 and with some effort on your part, you can obtain some fairly significant results.  The money I saved by not replacing the cabinets will be used to purchase new appliances and the transformation will then be complete.

  I'd really like to hear your comments.  Also if you have any questions please do not hesitate to Contact Me and I would be happy to share my knowledge and experience with you.  Not sure what to do with your kitchen?  Email some photos of what you have or if you live in the general Collingwood area, I'd be happy to drop by to discuss any changes you make be contemplating to your home or condo.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Properties Sold Under $500,000 in 2013 Represented 90% of All Sales

 Further to my prior post, 2013 was the best year in six years for area real estate sales.  In addition to almost 2,100 MLS® sale transactions, sales for the year of just under $625 million set an all time record for MLS® sales volume in our area.

  The accompanying chart summarizes sales activity
in the various price segments of our market in 2013 compared to 2012.  With the exception of the $1 to $1.5 million range where there were 21 sales (1 less than 2012) every other price range showed an increase year-over-year.

  Of the 2,099 individual MLS® sales that took place in 2013, 90% of those transactions (1,881 properties) were in the under $500,000 range.  Sales between $300,000 and $500,000 totaled 516 properties, almost 25% of the total sales and were up 12% from 2012.  This is obviously a "sweet spot" in terms of pricing and many of the developers in the area are offering a lot of new home product in this price range.  With interest rates remaining at very attractive rates, it's a great time to purchase for buyers looking to trade up to a better home or for those that may be considering a secondary property for recreational purposes.  As of this post there are 346 properties listed for sale in this price range which represents about 8 months of inventory based on the current rate of sales.

  Conversely, although sales over $1 million  were up 19% in 2013 with a total of 31 sales, there are currently 106 active MLS® listings in this price range which represents over 40 months worth of available inventory.  Obviously homeowners with a property to sell in this price range are up against a lot more competition than those with a $350,000 or $450,000 house to sell.

  Below is a more definitive summary of the various price ranges and the percent of total 2013 MLS® sales that those price ranges represent.

                        Price Range                     % of Total 2013 Sales

                      $0 to $199,999                              30.5%
                      $200,000 to $299,999                   34.5%
                      $300,000 to $399,999                   17.6%
                      $400,000 to $499,999                     7.0%
                      $500,000 to $599,999                     3.6%
                      $600,000 to $699,999                     2.8%
                      $700,000 to $799,999                     1.3%
                      $800,000 to $899,999                       .6%
                      $900,000 to $900,999                       .6%
                      $1,000,000 to $1,499,999               1.0%
                      Over $1,500,000                               .5%

  Whether you are a buyer or a seller, this is pertinent market intelligence to know.  Sellers need to know the state of the market in the particular price segment their home fits into.  How many active listings are there, how many days on average to sell and what is the typical list-to-sale price ratio?  Buyers can also benefit from the same questions.  When showing properties to a prospective buyer(s) I find that 9 times out of 10 the first question is, "How long has this home been listed.?"

  The key ingredient to the successful conclusion of any real estate transaction typically boils down to price and knowing the state of the market can be very helpful in this regard.  This is where a REALTOR® has to know their stuff in order to effectively serve their client(s).

  See the latest issue of my Georgian Triangle Real Estate News for further details in the local real estate market for 2013.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Record MLS® Sales Activity Seen in 2013

Despite dire predictions from various media sources regarding Canada’s real estate market being on the verge of a major correction, sales across the country in 2013 remained very robust and the southern Georgian Bay area was no different. 

  Southern Georgian Bay area MLS® sales in 2013 totaled $624.5 million up 9.3% from 2012 and this was the first time that our local MLS® sales volume exceeded the $600 million mark.  A total of 2,099 individual sale transactions were reported through our local MLS® system, the highest in six years.  2007 was the last time that unit MLS® sales exceeded 2,000 units. MLS® single family home sales totaled 1,353 properties an increase of 3.7% while condominium unit sales of 374 
reflected a 5.9% increase over the 
number of condos sold in 2012. 



  Following the 2008 recession, area real estate sales have trended upwards overall with some local municipalities seeing a stronger demand than others. During 2013, the Municipalities of Clearview and Meaford reflected the most significant growth in single family residential sales activity with MLS® unit sales up 16.5% and 26.0% respectively.  MLS® Sales of 336 homes in Collingwood reflected a slight change up 1.5% from 2012 when 331 sales were reported.  MLS® Sales in the Blue Mountains increased 4.4% to 166 units while Wasaga Beach reported 434 MLS® sales in 2013 an increase of 2.6% over the prior year.


  During 2013, we experienced both a reduction in the number of new MLS® listings that came to market as well as a reduction in the number of expired listings.  New MLS® listing activity in 2013 totaled 6,363 properties, a decrease of 2.5% from the prior year.  The number of expired listings dropped even further reflecting a decrease of 3.9%.  What does this mean?  With an increase in sales coupled with a reduction in both new and expired listings,  we achieved a listing to sales ratio of 33% indicating a stable market that favours neither buyers or sellers.

  In my next post I will freview sales across the various price ranges in order to give you an idea as to how your property would fair if it were listed for sale in the current market. 

Happy New Year!

Contact Me

Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4



Email:
rickcrouch@propertycollingwood.com



Direct: 705-443-1037



Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230




Website:
www.rickcrouch.realtor















My Profile

Rick relocated to Collingwood from Toronto in 1985 through a transfer with Goodyear Canada. In 1987 Rick was recruited by a major client of Goodyear’s, managing their Canadian business based in Barrie before moving to Chicago in 1992 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Upon returning to Canada in 1996, Rick ran an industrial products manufacturing company in Stratford, Ontario. In 1998 Rick returned to Collingwood with his two children. Rick is a licensed real estate Broker with Royal LePAGE Locations North in Collingwood and holds his MVA designation (Market Value Appraiser-Residential). He is an active volunteer in the community serving several years on the Board of Directors with the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce as Treasurer, 6 years on the Board of Directors for the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® of which he is the Past President (2008) and currently serves on a committee with the Ontario Real Estate Association. Rick is a diverse executive manager with extensive experience in strategic planning, manufacturing, finance, human resources and quality assurance management.