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.

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