Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Multiple Representation and You

  There has been plenty of controversy over the years in real estate circles about the issue of Multiple Representation commonly referred to as "double ending" or "dual agency."  Seemingly, a large majority of consumers do not know what Multiple Representation is yet it is something not to be taken likely with some REALTORS® failing to explain the implications.  This has become such a contentious issue that the Provincial Government has launched an investigation into the matter and I suspect we will see some changes coming in the future. In the next couple of posts I will bring some clarity to this matter.

  First and contrary to common belief, REALTORS® are not agents.  The Brokerage we work for is the "agent," we are either Salespersons or in my case I am a Broker.  Multiple Representation is when a real estate Brokerage and not just a singular Salesperson or Broker represents both a Buyer and a Seller in a real estate transaction and there are different examples as to how this can play out. 

 Few consumers understand that in legal terms there is a difference between being a client versus a customer.  When we enter into a Listing Agreement for a Sellers property, they become a client and we have a fiduciary duty to look out for their interest(s).  Similarly, when we enter into a Buyer Representation Agreement with a Buyer(s), we have established them as a client and similarly there is a fiduciary duty to protect their interest(s) as well.  If a party to a real estate transaction is merely a customer and not a client, no fiduciary duties exist.  Yes we must act honestly and truthfully with respect to dealings with a customer but we are not responsible for looking out for their best interests. 

  The simplest example of Multiple Representation is when I have a Buyer for one of my own listings. This is obviously Multiple Representation as not only myself but the Brokerage is representing both the Buyer and Seller in this transaction.

  If a Salesperson from my Brokerage represents a Buyer for one of my listings it is once again Multiple Representation as the Brokerage is representing both the Seller and the Buyer in the same transaction

  Here is where it gets a little trickier.  If two Salespersons from my Brokerage are representing two different Buyers for the same property that is listed with not only with our Brokerage but any other Brokerage such as ReMax or Century 21 etc. this is still Multiple Representation as our Brokerage is representing two different Buyer clients for the same property.

  When in Multiple Representation, the Brokerage must not share information or act in a manner that would compromise either party Seller or Buyer.  This includes not sharing the degree of motivation that a Seller or Buyer may have, why the Seller is selling, how much the Buyer is willing to pay or the Seller is willing to accept etc.  

  Every time I list a property for sale for a Seller client or when working with a Buyer Client I always make it a practice to explain in detail how these various representation scenarios may unfold.  It's not only a good business practice but disclosure of this information it essentially the law and it goes a long way to avoiding any misunderstandings during the transaction and or afterwards.

 In my next post I will delve into this matter further especially as it relates to situations when Buyers are in multiple offer situations which has become a regular occurrence in our market of late.  On the meantime if you should have any questions please do not hesitate to Contact Me.  My knowledge is always shared openly and freely.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Area MLS® Sales Soften in June

Over the past several weeks those of us in real estate have noticed the frenetic past of sales we have experienced in the first few months of the year market had slowed.  Fewer multiple offers, and when properties were listed with offers delayed to a future date, those dates came (and went) with no offers made. June's sales results would confirm that the market has slowed however it remains to be seen if this is the beginning of a trend. Personally I do not think so.

  MLS® unit sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR) declined 18% from June of 2016.  A total of 254 sales were reported last month down from 308 in 2016 and 7% fewer than the 272 sales reported in June 2015.  Year-to-date MLS® unit sales total 1,392 properties, 14 sales or a mere 1% higher than last year.

  While sales activity may have cooled and perhaps only temporarily, the lack of inventory in our market is clearly having an impact.  New MLS® listings were down 13% in June and they remain 16% below the number of new listings that came to market in 2016.  Whereas new MLS® listings are said to have increased significantly in the Greater Toronto Area, we are not seeing the same trend here meaning it's still very much a seller's market.

 While MLS® unit sales are only marginally ahead of last year, year-to-dateMLS® dollar volume is up 27%.  This stems from the significant increase is property sales over $1 million.  To the end of June there have been 74 sales above $1 million versus just 2 such sales in the first six months of 2016.  Most of these higher dollar value sales are in the Blue Mountains which explains why single family home sales in that municipality are up 29% this year whereas most other area municipalities are showing a decrease in single family home sales year-to-date.  Through the end of June, MLS® dollar volume for the year totals over $634 million up from $499 million in 2016.  Baring a major slowdown in sales activity during the remainder of 2017, we are headed for another year of recording breaking MLS® sales that will exceed $1 billion and this does not include new home sales made by developers.

 See my next post for additional news about sales activity across the various municipalities in our region.  In the meantime, if you are thinking of selling or buying an area property, please feel free to Contact Me for a no obligation consultation about your specific real estate goals.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Redevelopment

  As a former candidate for Collingwood Council in the last municipal election, I have continued to follow the activities of the current Council. While I may not agree with every decision they have made, overall I feel they have done a good job of making sound, rational choices regarding the future of the community.

  Over the past few months I have followed the ongoing saga regarding the hospital re-development process and I did attend the recent public meeting at the Georgian Bay Hotel.  The media has published numerous stories about the alleged adversarial relationship that has existed between the Town and the hospital Board.  The hospital Board has seemingly been casting aspersions about Council's failure to support the Board's choice of Poplar Sideroad as the best if not only location on which to build a new facility.

  I do not profess to be an expert on this situation but my observations lead me to believe it is the hospital Board and not the Town that has impeded the process of advancing our case for a new medical facility with the Ministry of Health.  There is no question that our current hospital is struggling to keep up with the demands of the community and will continue to do so as more and more ageing Ontarians retire here.  From everything I have seen and read, the hospital Board seems to have been focused solely on location (Poplar Sideroad) versus selling the Ministry on the need for a new facility here.  It is my understanding that ultimately the Ministry of Health decides on location anyway so why spend time advocating one and only one location when it's not your call to begin with?  As with any effective sales pitch selling "why" something is needed comes first and in this case the "where" is secondary.

  Apparently I am not alone in my thinking. An article published on titled "Planner tells Collingwood Hospital Board: stop being combative criticises the Board for have a combative attitude when it comes to their preferred site.  In this article land use planner Don May is critical of the hospital Board's position on the Poplar Sideroad location and the adversarial approach they have taken in defending this location as their preferred site.

  There is no doubt that we need a new and or an expanded hospital in the area.  Needing one and getting one are two very different matters.  Let's face it, we are not the only community in Ontario that is facing challenges when it come to health care.   Every level of government including the Province is cash strapped, there is only so much money to go around and $300 to $400 million for a new hospital is not money that is just lying there for the taking.  On top of that millions of dollars in road improvements would be needed on Poplar Sideroad to create the appropriate access to a new medical facility there.

  When I ran for Collingwood Council one aspect of my platform was that many of the issues facing this area are "regional" in nature.  Economic development, transportation and yes health care all need a regional approach to find the proper and affordable solutions,  One group in Collingwood wants the General and Marine hospital to remain where it is while the hospital Board wants a new facility on Popular Sideroad.  Meanwhile, Wasaga Beach has offered "free" land hoping to attract a new hospital there.  That is not working collaboratively for the better good of the region, it's municipality versus municipality playing for the spoils and unless something changes and soon, we will not see a new hospital here in my lifetime and or perhaps yours.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Annual MLS® Dollar Sales Up 34% Year-To-Date

  Area real estate sales reached a new high in 2016 when for the first time, MLS® sales across Southern Georgian Bay broke the $1 billion barrier setting the stage for record sales again in 2017.  Attaining this however was seemingly in jeopardy stemming from the fact that new listings coming to market on the MLS® system of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® have been well below what is needed to satisfy the seemingly insatiable demand for area real estate.  Despite the fact that new MLS® listings are down 16% to the end of May,  MLS® dollar sales  thus far in 2017 are running 34% ahead of 2016 with year-to-date sales to the end of May totalling $519.3 million.  In essence year-to-date sales are at 52% of last year and we are less than 42% into the year so another $1 billion plus year would appear to be in the offing.
  The shortage of listing inventory is however impacting unit sales.  MLS® unit sales to the end of May total 1,139 properties, an increase of 6% from one year ago when 1,070 sales were reported.  The disparity between MLS® dollar sales being up 34% while MLS® unit sales are only up 6% stems from two reasons. 

  First, sales at the upper end of the market are running well ahead of 2016.  Single family home sales between $500,000 and $800,000 are up 63% to the end of May with 221 sales reported compared to 136 in 2016.  Sales between $800,000 and $1 million total 49 properties an increase of 75% over last year.  Lastly, MLS® sales above the $1 million mark are up an astounding 146% to the end of May with 59 sales reported in 2017 versus just 24 sales in the first five months of last year.  As one would expect, these significant increases in the sale of upper end properties are having a profound affect on driving MLS® dollar sales  at a time when MLS® unit sales are increasing only marginally.  This increase in the upper price ranges of the market is also having a impact on the "average" single family home price in the area which is why changes in "average" prices can be so misleading.  As of the end of May, the 12-month year-to-date average MLS® single family home price for our area has increased almost 35% in large part due to the substantial increases we are experiencing at the upper end of the market.  
  Another key issue driving the increase in MLS® dollar sales this year are the prices being paid across our region.  Multiple offers, once somewhat of a rarity in this market have now become quite commonplace.  When a listed property receives multiple offers, the final sale price is all but guaranteed to be at the full list price or in many cases higher.  A small condo listed for sale earlier this year in Collingwood attracted 17 offers and sold for $202,000 versus the listed price of $169,000.  Similarly, a single family home sold for $517,500, 29% over the $399,900 asking price.   Typically the average sale-to-list price ratio for properties sold through the local MLS® system has been about 95%.  This has now increased to 97%+ stemming from the  strong prices that sellers have been able to get in the current market.

   Year-to-date sales across the region vary greatly from municipality to municipality.  Total single family home sales are actually down 4% overall to the end of May.   Single family home sales in the Blue Mountains however are up 38% while in Grey Highlands, single family home sales are up a more modest 14% followed by Meaford  showing a 6% increase in home sales.  All other area municipalities however are posting decreases in year-to-date single family home sale activity.  Sales in Collingwood are down 9%, single family home sales in Wasaga Beach are down 14% followed by Clearview Township with 12% decrease year over year.  Keep in mind these numbers do not reflect new home sales made by developers which typically do not go through the MLS® system.  Many new home developments in the area are experiencing strong sales activity thus picking up the resale market slack where shortages in MLS® listings are leaving buyers no choice but to buy new.

  Total MLS® condo sales are up a modest 8% year-to-date with 233 units sold compared to 216 last year.  Meanwhile, MLS® vacant land sales have surged ahead 69% this year with 210 sales reported through the end of May compared to 124 one year ago.   For many buyers in this area the ability to build exactly what they want is attractive but the lack of available housing listed for sale on the local MLS® system is obviously having some impact here as well.

   As we head into the final seven months of 2017 we are already seeing a shift in the market.  While the demand for area properties remains strong, the frequency of multiple offers with sale prices well over asking and the hyper activity that we have experienced in the first five months of 2017 appears to be waning.  This may only be temporary but the real estate market in the Barrie area and the GTA is undergoing the same transition which in turn will impact market activity here.  This may not be a bad thing leading to a more balanced and sustainable market long term.   

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Saving The Nottawasaga Lighthouse

  Last year I was asked if I would let my name stand for the Board of Directors of the Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society (NLPS) and as someone who likes to give back to the community, I heartily agreed.  At the NLPS Annual general meeting in June I was both elected to the Board and subsequently asked if I would act as Chair for the group which I further agreed to.  My great grandfather was a lighthouse keeper at South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island so I suppose its in my blood.

  A lot has happened in the ensuing nine months some of which I will share here, and it's all due to the efforts of what has to be the hardest working, most dedicated group of individuals on the Board of Directors as well as other volunteers engaged in fundraising etc. that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

  Ten or twelve years ago when I was a Director of the Collingwood Chamber of Commerce, the late Jim Kilgour came to the Chamber with the idea of restoring the Nottawasaga Lighthouse.  At the time this seemed like an ambitious plan, little did we know back then just how large this undertaking actually is and not just from a monetary standpoint.  Multi-levels of the federal government are involved including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Public Works both of which have been extremely supportive of our efforts.  The DFO who is tasked with disposing of dozens of lighthouses across Canada has called us "the most credible group we are working with," granting us permission to access the island last fall to undertake the shrink wrapping of the tower.  Despite a very uncooperative Mother Nature which necessitated wrapping of the tower not once but twice, the work was completed under the most adverse of conditions while I guiltily vacationed in New Zealand.  Special mention and thanks goes out to NLPS Vice-Chair Stephen Emo, Board Member Robert Square and to our Engineers Doug Harkbart and Erle Heintzman for persevering literally to the bitter end, completing the work on December 8th and remarkably under budget.  During the work we completed last fall, the government commissioned a structural assessment of the tower Stantec Engineering and despite the significant amount of exterior stone that has fallen off, the tower is structurally sound with no signs of leaning or other movement.

The current issue of On The Bay magazine features a letter I submitted thanking a number of local businesses who generously helped us throughout the wrapping process.  These include: Weatherall Dock and Dredge of Markdale, CRS Rentals Collingwood, Bill Brown Lumber Collingwood, SDM Construction of Woodbridge, Collingwood Home Hardware and the Town of Collingwood, Parks and Rec Department.

Since last year's Annual General Meeting our Treasurer Nancy Leno, sister of the late Jim Kilgour and NLPS secretary Pat Anstett have worked behind the scenes building a much improved accounting and membership management system along with better banking arrangements.  Last fall we launched a newsletter to keep our Members abreast of our activities and accomplishments and we trust they have found this informative.  For the most up-to-date and accurate recap of our activities, NLPS members and the public-at-large are encouraged to visit the  "Official" NLPS Facebook page.

  As with any project of this size, fundraising is a huge component of what needs to be done to accomplish the ultimate goal, first restoring the lighthouse and later rebuilding the lightkeeper's house which fell victim to a fire many years ago.  NLPS Fundraising Chair Gary Norman has and continues to work tirelessly on numerous initiatives aimed at building our financial reserves and creating awareness of our cause.  Throughout the past months we have received some noteworthy contributions from both private individuals and corporate donors.  Most recently we launched the sale of lighthouse prints, featuring the work of local artist Andrew Peycha.  Andrew's picture of the tower was commissioned by local Collingwood residents John and Carol Saunders who graciously loaned us their original to make 200 limited edition copies each one signed and numbered by the artist.  Prints are available for $125.00 with a framing package offered by Georgian Frame Gallery.

  Despite a blustery winter with a lot of severe winds,  the accompanying photo I recently shot with my drone shows that the wrapping of the tower completed last fall has stood up as expected.  The initially installed shrink wrap which fell victim to high winds last November was replaced with a heavier, reinforced tarpaulin material used by the trucking industry`and we anticipate it will readily stand up for two or three years while we raised the necessary funds to commence the restoration process.

  As of this posting, discussions are underway for the eventual transfer of ownership of the property from the government to NLPS.  Land Registry records which as a REALTOR® I have access to reflects the current owner as "Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada."  Prior to any transfer of ownership taking place, an environmental assessment of the tower lands and other steps need to be completed.  During the remainder of this year we hope to undertake a thorough cleaning of the interior, complete some additional wrapping of the exterior a start work on some shoreline improvements for a better docking arrangement at some future point in time.  None of this work will happen quickly but it will nonetheless be rewarding and will get us that much closer to realizing our ultimate goal.    

  We have seen an overwhelming level of support from the community all of whom are hoping to see our vision for the restoration of the lighthouse fulfilled. We have made numerous presentations to local community groups including probus clubs and others, sharing the history of the Nottawasaga Lighthouse and our vision for its future.  If you and your group would like to learn more and would like to arrange a speaking engagement please feel free to contact me by phone or email as shown at the bottom of this post. 

While we are a determined and dedicated group that has accomplished a great deal, we need your help.  Volunteers are needed for a variety of functions including fundraising, membership promotion, marketing and other activities.  If you would like to learn more or to volunteer for what is proving to be a fun project please visit the NLPS website, and be sure to LIKE the Official NLPS Facebook page.  Please feel free to contact me at 705-443-1037 or via email to learn more. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Area MLS® Real Estate Sales Up 41% in The First Quarter

  Following record sales which saw MLS® real estate sales across southern Georgian Bay break through the $1 billion barrier in 2016, demand for area properties in the first quarter of 2017 shows no signs of letting up notwithstanding there is an ongoing shortage of properties listed for sale.

  First quarter MLS® sales as reported by the Southern Georgian BayAssociation of REALTORS® totalled $246 million an increase of $71 million or 41% over the first quarter of 2016.  MLS® unit sales for the first quarter of 2017 saw 560 individual properties sold compared to 472 sales last year an increase of 19%.  Conversely, the number of new MLS® listings that have come to market year-to-date to the end of March totals 748, down 21% or 200 less than the 948 MLS® listed properties than came on the market in the first three months of 2016.  As we have stated for quite some time, the ongoing lack of inventory both locally as well as in many markets across Canada is the only real threat to residential property sales nationwide.
  Not all area municipalities are experiencing the same level of sales growth and some of this stems from the lack of inventory.  Year-to-date single family home sales are up a modest 7% to the end of March with 336 MLS® sales reported. Single family MLS® home sales in Collingwood are unchanged with 61 sales reported year-to-date while sales of 40 homes in Clearview Township is one less than a year ago.  Home sales in Wasaga Beach are down 11% with 109 sales this year compared to 122 in 2016.  Sales in other area municipalities are up as follows: Grey Highlands 20%, Municipality of Meaford 35% and the Blue Mountains 38%. MLS® condominium sales are up a modest 12% with 111 sales reported this year compared to 99 sales in the first quarter of last year.  As we have pointed out in the past, the above mentioned results are for MLS® sales only and do not include the sale of new homes and condominiums made by builders and developer several of whom are selling out their projects very quickly.

  Whereas single family home and condominium sales are experiencing modest growth, MLS® vacant land sales are up a whopping 159%.   A total of 96 sales have been reported through the end of March versus just 37 sales during the same period last year.  Over the past several years there has been a glut of vacant land inventory.  Whether its the absence of available houses and chalets listed for sale or just a matter of personal preference, buyers are quickly gobbling up building lots at a pace unlike anything we have seen in recent years and this is especially true in the Blue Mountains where 57 sales represents 59% of the vacant land sales in the region year-to-date.

  MLS® sales in total dollars continues to driven in large part to the sale of higher priced properties.  Sales between $350,000 to $499,999 are up 54% this year with a total of 157 sales reported.  In the $500,000 to $799,999 category sales total 96 units an increase of 85% while sales between $800,000 and $999,999 of 21 properties represents a 75% gain from one year ago.  Lastly, sales above the $1 million mark are up 115% with 28 sales reported this year compared to just 13 in the first quarter of 2016.   

  Over the past 18 to 24 months we have seen the real estate sales atmosphere very rapidly move from a Buyer's to a Seller's market.  Unlike in the GTA and typically a rarity in our market, multiple offers have become very commonplace with resulting sale prices often exceeding the seller's asking price.  A small 3 bedroom Collingwood townhouse condo garnered a record 17 offers and sold for $33,000 over the $169,000 asking price.  Similarly a single family home in the area recently had over a dozen offers and sold for more than 29% over the $400,000 list price.  Buyers and their sales representatives in this market need to act quickly with financing in place, a home inspection completed prior to offer submission and or waived altogether enabling them to go in with the cleanest offer possible.  Furthermore, Buyers must possess the willingness to put their absolute best foot forward in terms of price as with competing offers, there is seldom a second chance for negotiation.

  Whether or not we can sustain the level of MLS® sales activity in 2017 that saw last year remains to be seen.  While the demand for area real estate across southern Georgian Bay shows now signs of diminishing, what remains to be seen is whether there is a sufficient supply of properties listed for sale to satisfy what appears to be an insatiable demand for area real estate.    

  If you are uncertain as to how current market conditions are impacting your real estate plans either as a Buyer or Seller, please feel free to Contact Me for a no obligation confidential consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.    

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Making Buyers Fall In Love With Your Home

In addition to being a REALTOR®, I too am a home buyer/owner. Personally I have owned eight homes over the course of my lifetime, not as a speculator but as the provider for my family. These various homes were purchased as the result of either changing family needs or changes in my employment status where I was transferred to a different location including a move to Collingwood, Chicago and others. Every time I bought a home, I knew instinctively when I walked through the door, this is, or could be the "one!" If you are thinking of selling your home you need to know what it takes for a potential Buyer to fall in love with your house.

The Ottawa Citizen newspaper recently publish a very good article titled: "Advice from a REALTOR - Helping buyers to fall in love with your home." Even in this robust market with an absence of houses listed for sale, your property needs to put it's best foot forward in terms of making a favourable impression on buyers. Much of what is contained in this article is pretty simple stuff but far too often it is overlooked by both Sellers as well as the listing REALTOR®.

Not every property needs to be staged and frankly I find that staged homes often look exactly like what one definition of staged said, "contrived for a desired impression" which is exactly how model homes look with fake food and all. Rather, your home needs to convey a look whereby the Buyer(s) could imagine living there.

Often overlooked when getting your home ready for the market are just some basic cleaning and housekeeping tasks. I have been in countless homes where the carpets were dirty, the kitchen counter(s) were cluttered and the same with bathrooms all of which are easy fixes. What about your kids rooms? Does your teenage son or daughter have posters plastered all over their walls some of which might be offensive to some Buyers? Then there is the issue of the beer bottle or ball cap collection. My advice? You are moving, start packing that stuff away now!

When preparing to sell you home, both you and the listing REALTOR® need to take a very objective look at the property. Is there anything evident that would turn off potential Buyers? Too often I find that my REALTOR® peers are reluctant to say anything to their Seller clients about getting rid of things around their home (inside or out) that may turn off a potential purchaser. This also applies to areas of the property that needs cleaning or other or attention. If the owners truly want to sell and for the best price, having an honest and frank conversation about what needs to be done to prepare their home to sell is not offensive, it's doing them a favour.

Not sure what to do to prepare you home for sale? Read my "10 Things to do before you list your home for sale." or Contact Me and I would happy to visit your home and provide you a a no obligation assessment of what should be done to get it sold and for the highest price.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Can Governments Effectively Curb Spiralling Home Prices?

  Hardly a day goes by where you don't read something about today's hyper active real estate market with everybody weighing in on what is causing the ongoing buying frenzy and how long is it going to last?  We've all read numerous articles sighting lack of supply, low interest rates, foreign investors and so on but no one seems able to put their finger on it.  

  One of the top 10 items listed by the Globe and Mail regarding the recent federal budget was housing.  Rising home prices particularly in Toronto have prompted calls for government intervention to curb spiralling price increases. Thankfully, politicians have not jumped on this bandwagon.  I have always found that government(s) can do more to screw up positive economic activity than they can to stimulate bad economic times.  That is not to say that what is happening right now in the housing market is good.  Frankly as a REALTOR® it somewhat scares me.  

  The recent federal budget, includes plans to give Statistics Canada about $40 million over five years to develop and implement a Housing Statistics Framework.  The intent is to gather data that will provide information on sales, the degree of foreign ownership, buyer demographics and the impact on financing etc. which will hopefully permit some reasonable decision making to be made.  In my opinion this is long overdue.  Typically when it comes to reporting on residential real estate, the media's focus is on "average" home prices.  This is an absolutely meaningless number.  No matter what market we are talking about, the average price can be dramatically affected by the mix of sales in any given month.

  In January of this year, the average MLS® residential price as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® was $497,914.  This was a 41% increase over the average residential price of January 2016.  Have prices gone up since last year?  Yes.  By 41%? No!  The mix of sales in any given month can have a major impact on moving the average price up and down.  In January of this year, sales in our area for properties priced $800,000 and over amounted to over $16 million which was 29% of the total dollars sold.  As such, these 11 sales had a profound impact on driving the average residential price higher.  At the same time sales of lower valued properties were down stemming from a lack of inventory listed for sale.

  Hopefully the government's fact finding initiatives through Statistics Canada will facilitate some qualified and quantified decisions to be made about Canada's housing market.  Knee jerk reactions such as a foreign ownership tax, higher land transfer taxes and or other such measures aimed to curb escalating home prices can potentially cause more harm than good in helping Canadian realize their home ownership dreams.    

  In my next post I will discuss how REALTORS® may be responsible for at least some of the run up in home prices.  As always I welcome your comments and feel free to Contact Me to discuss your particular real estate issues. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Are We Suffering From Housing Hysteria?

   Real estate has always been one of the more popular topics at social gatherings and with current market conditions being what they are, housing sales and prices have become a daily aspect of both social and media agendas alike.

  As a full time real estate practitioner for the past 16 years, I have been trying to come up with one word that best describes what we are seeing in the local housing market and in many major centres across Canada.  That word is "hysteria."  When referred to as a noun, describes hysteria as: an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter and weeping.

  So let's break this definition down in the context of current real estate market to see if there is some correlation.

  In recent years, many of the major manufacturers that once operated here and offered the higher paying jobs have left.  Subsequently the real estate market across southern Georgian Bay has become very much driven in large part by those looking to buy a property for recreational and or retirement purposes.  In other words its a discretionary purchase, one in which buyers are under no duress to buy and as such they take their time and rarely get into bidding wars.  All that has now changed.  

  In 2016 MLS® sales across southern Georgian Bay were up 15% in terms of units sold and for the first time ever, sales via the MLS® system of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® broke the $1 billion barrier.  Year-to-date 2017 sales to the end of February are equal to last year so we appear to be on the same pace.  At the same time listings are down 22% so when properties hit the market, multiple offers with properties selling over list price is becoming more and more the norm.  A Collingwood home listed at $399,900 recently received over a dozen offers and sold for $517,500, 29% over the asking price.  This is a clear example that Buyers are faced with an "uncontrollable outburst of emotion" with a fear they may lose out when faced with multiple offers combined with the added fear that prices may go even higher if they don't buy now!  

  Sellers and would-be Sellers endure the same emotions.  While they experience positive emotion with respect as to what they might get for their property in this overheated market, they have a fear of selling and not being able to find something else.  They may also have a fear they are selling too soon if prices continue to rise or conversely they may fear that current market conditions might not last and rightly so, meaning the longer they wait to sell, the less they might eventually get. It's a difficult call and if anyone really knew they'd be rich 

  As a Market Value Appraiser, I find the sale of a house in Collingwood for $117,600 or 29% over the $399,900 asking price to be pretty irrational.  As per the definition of hysteria above, the Sellers are no doubt engaged in laughter while the many Buyers that were on the losing end of the multiple offer frenzy over this property are weeping, then again maybe not.  A few years from now the Buyer of this house may be weeping as well if we have a significant market correction and they find they grossly overpaid.

  The point of all is nobody knows for sure.  Currently there is a surge in the demand for homes especially in places like Toronto which is the predominant feeder market for us.  As long as Sellers can liquidate their Toronto real estate for the prices currently attainable there, these cash rich Buyers in our market can well afford to overpay here.

 An article in the Globe and Mail sums up much of what is happening.  Typically the average house price is about three times median family incomes.  In Toronto prices have spiked to eight times family income which is okay in times of low interest rates but many of us remember what happened the last time mortgage rates jumped?

  So what's the best advice?  First, no one knows how long the current run up in real estate values is going to last.  For years we have heard the many prognostications that the real estate "bubble" is going to burst.  At the end of the day buying and selling real estate is nothing more than a business transaction and it's the role of those of us in the business to treat it that way.  Yes it may be your beloved home or your cherished weekend retreat but with conditions such as we are experiencing, hysteria can set in producing some costly mistakes.

  Rudyard Kipling said something to the effect, "if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs..... If you are currently looking to buy or sell your real estate, now would be a very good time to heed this advice.

  As always I welcome you comments and questions.  Please feel free to Contact Me without obligation to discuss your real estate needs and or goals.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lack of Inventory Threatens to Slow Area Real Estate Sales

About eighteen months ago I made the prediction that the only apparent threat to slow down sales in the local real estate market was inventory and that day now appears to be approaching.

Unit MLS® sales across southern Georgian Bay in February were down 4% with 174 properties sold versus 181 in February of last year.  MLS® dollar sales for the month posted an 11% gain as we continue to see robust sales activity in the upper price ranges.  Sales over $500,000 totalled 76 properties compared to 46 last year and that is what is really driving the stronger sales dollar volume.  MLS® dollar sales in February were $75.3 million compared to $67.7 million last year.  The trend of declining new MLS® listings continued in February as MLS® listings for the month were down 12% with 240 properties coming to market compared to 274 in February of last year.

  Year-to-date MLS® unit sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS  (SGBAR) to the end of February totals  285 properties, 1 less than during the same time last year.  MLS® dollar volume of $129.6 million is an increase of 23% over the $105.4 million in sales in February 2016.  This trend can not continue without a boost in available inventory for sale.  Year-to-date, new MLS® listings are down 22% from one year ago.  Through the end of February there have been 408 new listings come to market compared to 522 in the first two months of 2016.   The lack of MLS® listed properties compared to demand has created a seller's market unlike we have ever seen with multiple offers and properties selling above list now becoming quite commonplace.  A single family home in Collingwood priced at $399,900 drew approximately 14 offers and sold in 6 days for $517,500 or 29% over the asking price.

  To the end of February, single family home sales are down 10% with 168 homes sold in 2017 compared to 187 sales a year ago.  Collingwood is showing the largest year-over-year decrease in single family home sales.  A total of 23 homes have sold this year compared to 41 last year, a decline of 44%.  Wasaga Beach is seeing the same trend although not to the same extent as single family home sales are down just 12% for the first two months of this year.  Conversely, single family home sales in Grey Highlands are up 17% and Clearview is up 33% with 24 sales versus 18 last year.  MLS® single family home sales in Meaford have doubled year-to-date with 10 homes sold.  Sales activity for single family homes in the Blue Mountains on the other hand has remained very strong as year-to-date sales of 27 properties reflects a 35% increase over 2016.    

  MLS® condominium sales have remained consistent with last year, 63 units have sold in the first two months of 2017 compared to 62 last year.  Once again the lack on inventory is holding back sales in this segment of the market as well.  On the other hand, vacant land sales have taken a sharp turn for the better.  After a couple of weak years where residential lots were just languishing on the market, sales in 2017 of 43 properties is a 65% increase over 2016.  Almost 50% of the lots sold this year are in the Blue Mountains where there has been an abundance of lots available.  The absence of available housing to buy is no doubt forcing some to choose building their own home as a viable alternative.

  The remaining nine months of 2017 will no doubt prove to be interesting. Spring typically brings with it an upturn in MLS® listing activity and while this will no doubt come about over the next couple of months, I do not believe that we will the magnitude of listings needed to quench then insatiable thirst that appears to exist for southern Georgian Bay real estate.  I hope I am wrong.  The current market cannot sustain itself with the significant imbalance that now exists between demand and supply.  A day of reckoning will come, it always does and a soft landing is better than a crash.

 For a no obligation review of current market conditions as they relate to your home or area property please do not hesitate to Contact Me.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Southern Georgian Bay Condominium Sales Growth Outpacing Single Family Homes.

  As noted in a prior post, MLS® sales across Southern Georgian Bay in 2016 reached a new record for dollar volume with total MLS® sales exceeding $1 billion.  Condominium sales were an integral segment of this growth with condo sales for 2016 growing at a faster clip than the rate of increase for single family homes.

  Area MLS® condo sales for 2016 totalled 554 units an increase of almost 17% over 2015.  Single family home sales grew by less than half that rate with sales up 7% in 2016.  Collingwood represents the largest segment of the areas's condominium market.  MLS® condominium sales in Collingwood last year totalled 285 units or 51% of all the units sold.  These sales do not include the sales of new units in developments such as Wylde Cove which is virtually sold out.

  From my experience condominium sales are growing briskly for two reasons.  First they are a more affordable housing alternative than single family homes especially for first time buyers.  Let's take Collingwood as an example.  In 2016 there were 381 single family homes sold in Collingwood an increase of 6% over the number of homes sold in 2015. The average price of these homes was $440,200.  Meanwhile the average MLS® sale price of the 285 units sold in Collingwood last year was $288,600.  That is a difference of over $150,000 or 34% and would make a big impact on a buyer's ability to secure financing.

  The second reason is lifestyle. This area is attractive to both buyers looking at purchasing a property for recreational purposes as well as for retirement.  The condo lifestyle may not be for everyone but for those that are tired of cutting grass, shovelling snow and doing other home maintenance tasks, the condo lifestyle frees them of those responsibilities allowing them, to ski, golf, boat or to head south for the winter worry-free albeit at a price in the form of a monthly condo fee.

  As with our overall market there is a severe shortage of condominiums actively listed for sale.  As of the end of January, the MLS® system of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR) there were 79 listings, less than a sixty day supply based on prior year sales.  Many that have recently sold have done so with multiple offers rendering a final sale price well above asking.  Currently there are just 18 condominium units in Collingwood listed for sale on the local MLS® system which is less than a one month supply at the current rate of sales.  By comparison there are 53 active MLS® condo listings in the Blue Mountains a 3.5 month supply of which 41 units or 77% are in the Blue Mountain Village.

  Recently I help manage the sale of a small condo in Collingwood listed by a colleague.  It was a three bedroom one bath unit located in central Collingwood listed at $169,900.  There were a total of 17 offers which to my knowledge was the largest number of offers ever recorded for a listed property in our market.  The unit sold for $202,000 which was almost 19% over the asking price.

   As we approach spring we can anticipate seeing a ramp up in the number of active  condo listings on the MLS® system.  Many of these properties may be currently rented for the ski season or are being used by their owners.  I anticipate however that inventory will remain tight relative to demand which makes it an ideal time for sellers to dispose of a property they may no longer have a need for.

  If you have a condominium property that you may be considering selling or if you are a buyer actively looking for a condominium property in this area, please feel free to Contact Me for a no obligation confidential discussion about your particular real estate objectives.  Helping you to make an informed decision is something I am more than happy to assist you with.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Should Collingwood Sell It's Remaining Stake in Collus?

  Like many of you I have been following the ongoing efforts of the Town of Collingwood to sell their remaining 50% interest in Collus.  According to a recent article online by, Collingwood Council voted 7 to 2 in favour of continuing talks with one potential buyer in the hopes of securing an agreement.  The Town of Wasaga Beach is similarly engaged in the same process, looking to divest themselves of Wasaga Distribution.  It is such a heated topic with Wasaga Beach residents that a referendum may be called.

  It's easy for any of us to get emotional about the potential sale of Collus or Wasaga Distribution most of which I believe is driven by fear.  Ontario's soaring hydro rates are front and centre on a daily basis with the media seizing every opportunity to point out that Ontario allegedly has the highest electrical rates in North America.  Selling off either of these distribution entities is seen by most as a threat that will potentially increase monthly hydro bills even further in the future.  In reality there are a lot of other factors that need to be considered here not the least of which is future changes in technology.

 When I ran for Collingwood Council in the last municipal election, the ink had just dried on the 50% sale of Collus by the Town of Collingwood to Powerstream.  It was a touchy issue in the public eye at the time one in which I thought would surely come up during the election campaign.  To that end I met with then Chair of Collus, David McFadden to gain further insight and to better understand the reason behind the sale and how it would benefit our community.

  According to online records, at this moment there are 78 public utility/electrical distribution companies (PUC's) scattered across the Province whose mandate is to distribute electricity throughout their respective service areas.  Areas not served by these 78 smaller entities typically falls to Hydro One.  Like Hydro One, these 78 smaller companies are responsible for maintaining their respective electrical grids both above and below ground.  In addition, these smaller PUC's maintain administrative support for billing customers, collecting money owed etc. and this often includes water and sewer services as well.  Performing all of these functions entails a lot of people and a lot of equipment making this a very capital intensive business.  I suspect that many of the smaller PUC's across the Province may be marginally profitable and as such they may not have the financial resources to re-invest in their business, for better systems, employee training, reducing costs or for upgrades to improve the level of services they provide.  There is no doubt in my mind that improvements to efficiencies and systems resulting in lower costs of operation and better service for consumers would be attained if there was a consolidation in the number of PUC's across the Province.  Collus' partner Powerstream, has just merged with three other public utility providers to operate under the new name "Alectra."  In a press release issued on January 16th one of the proposed benefits stated as a result of this merger was " Residential customers will save an average $40 per year on bills as merger efficiencies are achieved over the next 10 years."

  A further case in point is with respect water and sewer services.  Following the 50% sale of Collus to PowerstreamCollingwood has since removed water and wastewater services from Collus and moved it in house under the Public Works Department.  This change was estimated to generate about $750,000 in annual savings. Since implementation, the estimated savings as reported at a Council meeting were in reality even greater so it's not hard to see how a fundamental change in business practice can yield improved efficiency and less cost.  Consolidation of the 78 PUC's in Ontario may well generate significant savings by eliminating redundancy and costs while potentially improving services to both residential and commercial customers.

  The other issue that must be considered is technological changes.  According to the reports I receive from Collus, my electrical usage is well below the average for similar homes in my neighbourhood.  Yes I am a single guy so unlike a family my hydro usage will be less but I have also taken steps to reduce my energy use as well.  Most of the lights in the high use areas of my house such as the kitchen, dining and living rooms are LED's.  If I am not in a room the lights are off.  I just installed a high efficiency gas furnace which saves me money on both gas and hydro.  In addition I installed a WiFi thermostat that allows me to control my heating and cooling using my smartphone regardless of where I am.  By using less I am in essence "less" of a customer for Enbridge and Collus as the revenue they generate from me is diminished.

  With respect to energy generation and use, I believe that we have just scratched the surface regarding technology.  Solar panels are springing up across our region both on farms and on individual residential homes roof tops.  Battery technology whether for vehicular use or in homes is improving dramatically and will continue to do so for years to come.  Tesla's Powerwall 2 can power an average two bedroom home for a day and Tesla's cars are becoming quite common even in our area.  Further, Tesla and other companies have developed what are essentially solar panel shingles.  How long will it be before technology exists whereby you will generate your own power, store it and use it in both your home and car?  The fact is you can now albeit it is still limited and expensive but in the future costs will come down and energy self sufficiency will be much more mainstream than it is today.

  What with consumers like myself using less and with emerging
technologies that will change the way we generate and consume
electricity it begs the question what does the future look like for traditional power distribution companies (PUC's) such as Collus and is now a good time to sell?  PUC's like Collus and Wasaga Distribution will no doubt always be around but just like other industries that were confronted by changes in consumer habits with traditional business' disrupted by technology they are going to have to adapt and change in order to survive.  That takes money and lots of it.  Is the Town wise to exit this business now by selling their remaining 50% stake in Collus?  I think so and I hope those on Council that are involved in making the appropriate decision(s) are considering what the future holds and how it will impact what is essentially a decades old business that until now has held a monopoly.  It won't happen overnight, but that monopoly is about to change and we will all be better off.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Area MLS Real Estate Sales Exceed $1 Billion in 2016.

The sales numbers for 2016 are in and the Southern Georgian Bay region has reached a new milestone in sales activity with MLS® sales exceeding $1 billion for the year.

  MLS® dollar sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® (SGBAR) for the municipalities clustered around the bottom of Georgian Bay topped $1.037 billion for the year which represents a 29% increase over 2015.  To put that into perspective, area MLS® real estate sales in terms of dollars have almost doubled since 2010 when sales totalled $544 million for the year.  It is also important to note that MLS® sales for the most part, do not include the significant number of new homes under construction in the various subdivisions scattered around the area.  

  Unit MLS® sales for the year hit 2,750 individual transactions an increase of 15% over 2015 when 2,386 MLS® sales were reported.  We have continued to see strong market activity for single family homes in the mid to upper price ranges which is why the increase in MLS® sales dollars far exceeds the MLS® unit sales increase.  As prices for single family homes in the area continue to increase, sales below $350,000 get less and less with each passing year as fewer and fewer properties can be bought for under that price point. Conversely, sales between $350,000 and $499,999 were up 43% for the year while sales between $500,000 to $799,999 and $800,000 to $999,999 increased by 55% respectively.  Lastly sales over $1 million totalled 82 units an increase of 71% over the prior year.

  MLS® single family home sales in 2016 totalled 1,773 properties, an increase of 7% over 2015 when 1,655 homes changed hands. The municipalities of Clearview, Grey Highlands and Meaford posted the largest gains in MLS® single family home sales, single family home sales in Clearview totalled 209 units, an increase of 32% over 2015.  MLS® single family home sales in the Municipality of Meaford were up 19% in 2016 with 166 units sold while Grey Highlands saw a resurgence in MLS® sales activity after several years of lacklustre demand with 71 properties changing hands representing an 18% increase over the prior year.   Single family home sales in Wasaga Beach were up 13% in 2016 while MLS® sales of single family homes in Collingwood and the Blue Mountains had modest increases of 6% and 3% respectively.  

During 2016 we saw a strong resurgence in vacant land sales particularly in the Blue Mountains where new subdivisions such as Phase 3 of Nipissing Ridge continued to come on stream.  MLS® vacant lot sales in 2016 totalled 285 properties compared to just 200 in the prior year, an increase of 42%, Vacant land sales during 2016 in the Blue Mountains of 105 properties represents a 46% increase over last year.  Vacant land sales in this municipality represent 37% of the market total which helps to explain why existing sales of single family home sales in the municipality were the weakest of all other areas.

  In my next post I will review the area's condominium sales activity in 2016, a segment of the market which continues to grow and showed the largest gain in terms of a unit sales increase for 2016.  The amount of available housing inventory continues to remain well below market demand which is creating market dynamics unlike anything we have seen in recent years.  This too I will cover in more detail in a future post.

  Happy New Year and as always, should you have any questions about the market information provided herein or would like to discuss you particular real estate situation, please do not hesitate to Contact Me.


Contact Me

Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


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.