Thursday, October 29, 2015

Has Collingwood Reached the Tipping Point For Affordable Housing

Last year at this time I was actively campaigning for a seat on Collingwood Council which I ultimately  lost by a very narrow margin.  I choose to throw my hat in the running for many reasons not the least of which was Collingwood's overall financial health.  This included taxation, spending, job creation and affordable housing.  As a full time REALTOR®  I am well versed in these matters and as I reflect on current real estate market activity, I can't help but ask myself has Collingwood reached a tipping point in terms of being both an attractive and affordable place to live?
 Year to date MLS® single family home sales in Collingwood to the end of September are up a mere 2.6% 278 this year compared to 271 in 2014 at a time when the total MLS® market is up 16.1%. By comparison single family home sales are up 12.7% in Clearview, 22.6% in the Blue Mountains and 30.2% in Wasaga Beach.  There have been 15% fewer homes MLS® listed for sale in Collingwood in 2015 but this is consistent with the market overall. The fact is 66% of MLS® listed single family homes in Collingwood have sold in 2015 compared to a list-to-sale ratio of 55% in the market overall so the weak sales performance can't be blamed on lack of inventory. Lastly, the 12 month average price for a single family home in our overall market has risen 7.2% whereas in Collingwood the increase is just 5.2%.  In every sense, MLS® real estate activity in Collingwood is lagging behind the overall market in a year when we are on track to have record MLS® sales activity.

  The 12-month average price for a single family home in Collingwood at the end of September was $365,000.  The 2015 tax bill for a house of this "assessed value" in Collingwood would be $4,543.  For a home with this assessed value that's a property tax bill that is 10.8% more than Cleaview Township, 25.8% more than WasagaBeach and 33.9% higher than in the Blue Mountains.  Could Collingwood's property taxes be playing a role in this year's lagging in-town real estate market?  You tell me, I look forward to your comments.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Are We Are Losing Our Rural Charm?

  A year ago at this time I was campaigning earnestly during the Municipal election for a seat on Collingwood Council.  Although I garnered over 3,300 votes, about 700 votes more than what was previously needed to get elected as a Councillor, I fell about 39 votes short and was needles-to-say disappointed.

  My desire to run for Collingwood Council and personal campaign platform was based on three main issues. Prudent fiscal management of the Town's finances, the need for a strong economic development plan and lastly, thoughtful and consistent land use planning. As a full time REALTOR® I have a keen awareness of what draws people to this area. Whether it's for recreational purposes or as a full time resident still working or retiring, the lifestyle features of the area are something we can't take for granted.  More importantly we can't lose the very reason why people want to come here in the first place and every effort needs to be made to preserve that.

  Most of you are aware that development is happening all around us.  It can't be stopped but it can and needs to be managed in order to preserve the very reason why so many choose to come here to live, work and or play.

The Town of Thornbury in the Blue Mountains is desperately in need of and is getting a new grocery store which is currently under construction.  Also in the construction phase is a new liquor store, convenience store and gas bar.  No one would argue the need for these new retail amenities but my question is why are they being built so close to Highway 26?
Short of the absence of razor-wire, the north wall of Loblaws along First Street in Collingwood looks like a federal correction facility and across the road we have the new Rexall drug store building towering over the street.

  As per these photos, the same transformation is taking place in Thornbury. These imposing new retail structures structures are literally on the shoulder of the road and with a gas bar under construction across the road I can't help but think it will be like driving through a tunnel.  Is this good planning by the developer or the municipality?  Will this enhance or detract from the small town rural atmosphere of Thornbury?  Notwithstanding the close proximity of these buildings to the road, I hope their exterior facades will at least reflect a look indicative of the area versus the repetitive big box urban design brand that we see in virtually every so called "Smart Centre" closer to the GTA.

There's a lot of creative talent out there and with computer aided design, I think we can and need to do better in both our planning and overall design standards.  I welcome your thoughts and opinions.

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


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