Thursday, April 23, 2015

Another Example Where Reginal Planning Is Needed

  As a candidate in last fall's Municipal election, I advocated that many of the issues facing this area are not simply relative to individual municipal interests but are in fact "regional" in nature.  Economic development, including job creation, transportation, environmental and many other issues are widespread in nature that need broad, regional based or thought out solutions to be effective for long term planning and growth.

  One of the issues that was discussed and for which there was a deputation at this week's Collingwood Council meeting was a development proposal for land at the northwest corner of Mountain and Osler Bluff Roads.  Development of the subject lands are already underway with a project known as Windfall.  The initial concept was essentially based on several phases of single family homes, detached and semi-detached with some town-homes.  The latest proposal (see the adjoining photo from the public meeting) before the Municipality of the Blue Mountains is a medium density project that would see approximately 242 condos built in buildings ranging from 2 to 4 storeys in height.

 A contingent of area residents attended Collingwood Council this past Monday night, looking to garner Collingwood's support in addressing public concerns that have been taken to Blue Mountain Council.  For the most part, their concerns fell on deaf ears of Collingwood's Council members with Councillor Lloyd being the only person to voice a concern.. Collingwood's planning department was quick to point out that (a) the project is outside their jurisdiction and (b) Collingwood itself has approved similar projects over the years so how could they stand in the way of this one?  I think the big issue being missed or shrugged off here is not the height of the condos proposed or even the density, it's traffic.

  Have you seen what Mountain Road is like late on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when visitors to Blue Mountain are heading home?  It's not uncommon for traffic to be stop and go from the roundabout at Blue Mountain all the way to the intersection of First and High Streets.  Arterial roads running through and around Collingwood which include Highway 26, First Street, Sixth Street, Mountain Road, Osler Bluff Road and others will all be impacted by this and other future development(s) near the base of Blue Mountain and it's a classic example where a regional approach needs to be taken with our neighbouring municipality in order to be effectively addressed.  Collingwood's Planning Department and Council can not simply throw up their hands on the basis it's outside of our municipal boundary.  To take a position such on this an other matters is short-sighted thinking and will surely lead to much greater problems, traffic and otherwise down the road.

As a REALTOR I am obviously not anti-development and that is not the point of this blog post.  I am however a proponent of managing growth and development in such a way that it preserves the very reason why people come here in the first place including addressing environmental issues.  In my opinion, one local area Council alone cannot meet those challenges hence my advocacy for a more regional approach to local governance.  I am hopeful that the new Councils now in place in Collingwood, the Blue Mountains, Clearview and Wasaga Beach will adopt this approach, only time will tell  

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Area Real Estate Sales Finish a Bullish 1st Quarter

Despite one of the coldest winters in many years, area real estate sales in the first quarter of 2015 have performed exceedingly well, far better than what is typically demonstrated for this time of year.

  Following in the wake of strong sales during January and February, MLS® sales as reported through the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® during the month of March totaled $64.0 million, an increase of 57% from March 2014.  MLS® unit sales during the month increased by 47% with 189 MLS® sales reported in March compared to 129 during the same month last year.

  Total MLS® sales of $149.3 million during the first quarter of 2015 reflects a 45% increase compared to the first quarter of 2014 while total MLS® unit sales are up 32%.  While the severe cold and excessive snowfall we experienced in the winter of 2013/2014 did suppress sales during the first quarter of last year, this winter has been harsh as well with seemingly little impact on MLS® sales activity overall.

  MLS® single family home sales through the end of March are up 30% with every municipality showing robust gains over the prior year.  Single family home sales in Collingwood are up 50% year-to-date while Clearview, the Blue Mountains, the Municipality of Meaford and Wasaga Beach are all posting sales increases of 36% to 38% year-over year.  Condominium sales which have been very strong over the past twelve to eighteen months are up 50% for the first three months of 2015 with 95 MLS® condo sales reported year-to-date compared to 63 sales one year ago.  

  Strong MLS® sales combined with a reduction in new MLS® listing activity has resulted in a reduction of available housing inventory.  Year-to-date, the number of new MLS® listings that have come to market totals 1,039 properties, a reduction of 12% from the 1,177 new MLS® listings that came to market in the first quarter of 2014.  Similarly, the number of “expired” MLS® listings has dropped substantially with 491 expired listing reported in 2015 compared to 628 last year, a decrease of 22%.  In some instances, we are experiencing a shortage of listings in specific price ranges and or locations which has resulted in an increase in multiple offers similar to the phenomena happening in the Greater Toronto Area.  Multiple offers typically result in sale prices close to or above the asking price.  A recent chalet sale in the area drew three aggressive buyers with a final sale price that was more than $59,000 over the asking price.  Statistically we have moved more into the realm of a “seller’s” market something we have not seen for several years, with a sales-to-listing ratio of 40%, as reflected by the fact that one out of every 2.5 MLS® properties listed have sold thus far in 2015.

  MLS® sales in virtually every price range are showing significant increases from one year ago.  Sales below $200,000 are up a modest 8% stemming from the fact that very little can be bought in this market for that price.  Sales between $200,000 to $350,000 reflect a 27% gain from last year while sales between $350,000 to $499,999 and $500,000 to $799,999 are up 54% and 57% respectively.  At the upper end of the market MLS® sales between $800,000 and $999,999 total 11 properties, an increase of 83% while MLS® sales over $1 million are double that of last year with 10 sales in the first quarter of 2015 compared to just 5 one year ago.

  As we had into the prime spring market, the outlook for area real estate sales looks very positive.  A relatively strong economy, positive consumer confidence and the continuation of low mortgage rates all bode well for the local and national real estate market overall.  

  If you are contemplating a real estate purchase or are thinking of listing your property in the coming months, please feel free to contact me for a qualified, no obligation assessment of your property's current market value or to discuss any of your specific real estate goals or objectives.   

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


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