Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Collingwood Loses The Enterprise Bulletin Newspaper

   The big news of the day is the news media itself.  Torstar and Postmedia have agreed to a non monetary swap of some 40 newspapers of which all but about five will be shutdown.  What does this mean for our immediate area?  The Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin and the Meaford Express will no longer cease to exist, driving by the Enterprise Bulletin today reflects that the door is already locked.
  For many, this comes as no surprise.  Declining advertising revenues stemming from more and more consumers both searching for and buying products and services online has taken a heavy toll on newspapers overall income.  I remember years ago the Toronto Star having a whole classified section just for cars.  Those ads quickly disappeared as the result of the Auto Trader publication and later autotrader.ca.  The same scenario has unfolded several times since affecting virtually every type of business I can think of.
  Back in August of 2012 I did a post titled Print Versus Online Advertising. I had attended a real estate conference and sat in on a session pertaining to advertising.  In 2010, online advertising expenditures across the U.S exceeded print advertising.  While this statistic was based on the U.S., Canada would be no different.  Canada has always been one of the global leaders in the adoption of Internet services so to think that print advertising was not already under severe threat in this country is foolish. 
  Real estate has remained one of the last strongholds for print advertising expenditures.  Home sellers are often impressed to see their property advertised in one of the local papers or in one of the many area magazines but the reality is, obtaining a buyer through a print ad is very very rare.  I cannot think of when I last had a call or email inquiry from a print property ad. No matter how nice or how many photos an add may contain, sites like realtor.ca allow for up to 30 photos plus virtual tours.  A postage stamp sized photo(s) with a bit of text in a print ad pales in comparison to how a property can effectively be marketed online and with a global reach versus just a local one.
  Whats broken in the newspaper industry is not the lack of news or the number of potential readers, its the advertising revenue model.  The print news industry needs to figure out how to better attract and monetize online advertising.  Websites such as Facebook and Kijiji offer free advertising but get revenue by selling upgraded ad options on their sites.  In the wake of declining ad revenues newspapers have been forced to increase the cost pf their papers. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a the weekend edition of the Globe and Mail with my groceries, little did I realize it was $6.00.  Never again will I buy a weekend paper.
  While its too bad to see an institution like the Enterprise Bulletin fold, the reality is papers such as these cannot financially sustain themselves by selling printed ad space, technology is a powerful foe and failing to adopt to an ever changing landscape driven by technology no matter what business you are in is a fool's game. 
  What is unnerving is the potential lack of local content in the news that will be available to us covering such things a municipal and community affairs.  Time will tell if the one remaining print newspaper, the Connection will survive in print or will it too face the same fate as these other publications?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Are REALTOR® Photos Really Necessary?

  One of my pet peeves about the real estate profession is the proliferation of personal photos that seems to be more important to the individual REALTOR® than the degree and quality of service they provide to their clients.
  Perhaps I am being just small minded and or unnecessarily picky but I know of no other profession where the mugshot of the person in that line of work is so prominently displayed on business cards, for sale signs, vehicles, bus shelters, bill boards, community garbage bins and more.  My looks are not enhanced when someone throws their unfinished Tim Horton's coffee in the trash container with some of the residual coffee dribbling down my face towards the pavement.
 Prior to real estate I held a number of senior management positions in both Canada and the U.S. often dealing face to face with large corporations such as Caterpillar, General Motors, Ford, John Deere and even Walmart.  I could not imagine handing them my business card as Vice President with my face on the front.  Nay, my company would not allow it.  Would my picture on the card reflect the company's brand and or image?  Would it be of value to the client?  The answer to both of these questions is no so why is real estate any different?
  I especially like the real estate cards with photos (which seem to be the most prevalent) where the REALTOR® is standing there with their arms crossed.  The psychological message being interpreted by many with this pose is that both arms are folded together across the chest as an attempt to put a barrier between the person and someone or something they don't like.  Great, that's just the message you want to send to attract clients.
  Many REALTORS® will argue their photo is their brand but in my opinion if that is all your brand has to offer it is little wonder consumers think we are over paid.  As REALTORS® we are dealing with clients helping them to complete the purchase or sale of what for many is the most important and valuable asset they will ever own.  That process takes knowledge and a variety of skills not the least of which is negotiation and in my opinion, our brand should reflect the varied skill set needed to successfully get the job done.  I have some particular clients (husband and wife) with whom I have done a lot of real estate business.  She is a prominent lawyer and during one transaction said: "Rick, we pay you for your knowledge."  That is my brand.
  In addition to being of little brand value, I feel that for female REALTORS® having their photos out there is dangerous.  There have been numerous incidents where female REALTORS® have been assaulted and even killed while on the job.  Meeting some stranger at a house at nine o'clock at night because he liked their photo is not necessarily a good thing.
  Perhaps at some point in the past, photos on business cards and for sale signs served a purpose in real estate but I feel those days are gone.  Consumers today are more sophisticated and the process of selling and buying real estate transaction is more complex.
  A couple of years ago I asked my twenty-nine year old daughter what she thought of real estate business cards with the REALTOR®'s photos?  Her answer, its tacky Dad.  Yes my photo is on this blog site but it will never be on my business cards or signs.
  I would love to hear your opinion on this topic and I invite you to comment and to weigh in on my poll to the upper right.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

10 Questions To Ask When Buying A Home

Given some of the irregularities we have seen in the real estate market this year with seemingly more buyers than there are homes for sale, buyers have often elected not to or did not have the luxury of doing a home inspection especially when faced with multiple offer scenarios.  Whether you are having a home inspection done or not, here are 10 questions that every Buyer or their REALTOR® should be asking about a prospective property the Buyer is interested in. 
  1. How old are replaceable portions of the structure (the roof, windows, guttering, siding, etc.) and the major appliances (HVAC systems, water heater, kitchen appliances, etc.)?
Older appliances, roofing, siding, etc., may mean large expenses are on the horizon, which should be considered before making an offer.
  1. How old are any major renovations?
If, for instance, any additions have been recently made, request the permits and related paperwork. You don’t want to find out after the sale that a beautiful new sunroom wasn’t approved and must be torn down or moved!
  1. Is there documentation on work done to the house?
If repairs have been made to appliances, mechanical systems, etc. a copy of the paperwork could mean that some systems are still under warranty after the sale. At the very least, you would know when the repairs were made and by whom, in case follow-up work is needed. It’s even a good idea to ask for details on the paint used throughout the home, as this information would make it easy to repaint walls should future repairs require touch-ups.
  1. Are there any water-related problems?
Have any of the pipes burst? Has the sewer ever backed up? Have there been any leaks between the water meter and the house? Has there ever been standing water in the basement or crawl space? Knowing what problems have occurred will keep you aware of any signs of a repeat performance… and will help you look for any mold or structural damage that may have resulted.
  1. Is there anything that’s NOT included in the sale of the house?
There may be a garden shed the owners intend to move, ceiling fixtures they plan to keep, or other seemingly “built-in” items the owner plans to remove, like bookshelves, mantles, etc. Be sure you know exactly what you are buying and have it written into the contract to avoid any nasty post-purchase surprises.
  1. How many times has the property changed hands?
If the home is very old and/or historic, there may be a long list of prior owners. What you want to know, however, is if there has been a rash of short-term owners. This may indicate problems you can’t see. Ask why the previous owner and the current owner are selling.
  1. How much is this property worth in today’s market?
An agent should be able to offer details on recent comparable sales on similar houses in the same, or similar neighborhoods. S/he should also be able to tell you how long it is taking for houses to sell and whether or not most sellers are getting more or less than their asking price. Additionally, they should be able to tell you how long a property has been on the market, which could indicate how much negotiation power you have.
  1. Is the seller willing to help with closing costs?
Closing costs can really add up. If it’s a buyer’s market, you may be successful in including this as a negotiating point on a purchase offer.
  1. May I speak with the current owners?
The current owners may be less guarded in what they say than their real estate agent. They will also know more about what it’s like to live in the house and the neighborhood and will have the best advice on everything from local restaurants to nearby mechanics.
Of course, the seller’s agent will likely discourage the owners from talking to you—and your agent may provide similar advice out of concern you’ll accidentally reveal details about your own situation that could hurt your negotiating position. This is why it’s usually better to work through licensed real estate professionals.
  1. Is there anything negative in the history of the house?
Has this house been the site of any crimes (murders, meth lab, illegal companion services, etc.)? Has it been the home of a negatively famous/infamous individual? Has it experienced a flood, fire, earthquake or other natural disasters? In some states, some of these items must be disclosed, while other states put the onus on the buyer to ask.
  A lot of this is common sense that shouldn't be overlooked while you ogle the new kitchen or the recently renovated bathroom.  Finding some major deficiency in a home after you have closed that take the shine off your purchase pretty quickly especially if there are some major repairs need to remedy them.   These tips were taken from an article published by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council of the National Association of REALTORS® in the U.S. of which I am a member.  
  As always I welcome your questions and comments.  If you have had an unfortunate real estate buying experience due to some unforeseen issues with a property and need some advice, I would love to here from you.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

  Following sluggish sales through the summer which resulted in three consecutive months of a year-over-year decline in sales, MLS® dollar sales across Southern Georgian Bay rebounded in October posting an increase over sales from October 2016.  MLS® dollar volume as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS totalled $99.4 million in October up 5% compared to $94.4 million in October last year.  MLS® unit sales for the month however were down 20% from October 2016 with 203 sales reported this year compared to 254 in October of 2016.

  As has been the case all year, strong sales activity in the upper price ranges is what is driving MLS dollar volume despite the reduction in MLS® unit sales.  Year-to-date MLS® unit sales of 2,135 properties reflects a 12% decrease from one year ago when 2,437 MLS sales had been reported.   At the same time, MLS® dollar volume for the year is up 8% and totals $976 million, driven by strong sales over $700,000.
  Demand for area properties continues to exceed supply which is at least partly to blame for the year-to-date reduction in MLS® unit sales.  The number of new MLS® listings that came to market in October totalled 251 properties, down 10% from the number of new listings that came to market in October of 2016. Year-to-date MLS® listing activity is down 11% from one year ago with 3,195 properties coming to market this year versus 3,592 in the first ten months of 2016. This market imbalance still favours sellers although not to the degree of what we saw in the first four or five months of the year when multiple offers and sale prices well over listed prices were very much the order of the day.

  MLS® single family home sales which total 1,459 properties through the end of October are down almost 30% this year.  These do not however include the sale of new homes sold by builders/developers that do not go through the local MLS® system.  The municipality of the Blue Mountains continues to be the only area municipality that has seen an increase in single family home sales year-to-date up a scant 1.6% from last year with 185 sales compared to 182 sales this time last year.  Single family home sales in other area municipalities round out as follows:  Clearview -26%, Collingwood -14%, Grey Highlands -7%, Municipality of Meaford -28%, Wasaga Beach -24%.  Meanwhile, year-to-date MLS condo sales total 461 units a decrease 24 units or 5% from this time last year.

  As covered in prior posts, 2017 has seen a resurgence of vacant land sales throughout the area.  Through the end of October there have been 322 MLS® vacant land sales which is an increase of 44 sales or 16% from one year ago.  With the absence of resale home listings on the MLS® system and with an abundance of vacant lots available, many buyers have chosen to build especially in close proximity to Blue Mountain where lots in the 3rd phase of the Nipissing Ridge development are sold out.

  Lastly it is again worth noting the significant number of sales that have taken place in the higher price segments of our market.  MLS® sales over $700,000 total 287 units, up 72% from this time last year and sales between $1 and $2 million have doubled with 99 sales reported year-to-date compared to 49 last year.
  In conclusion, with year-to-date MLS® sales to the end of October sitting at $976 million, we are once again going to break the $1 billion barrier this year and if the level of MLS® listed inventory was higher than it is, the results would be even higher.  When you factor in the sales of newly built properties being done directly by builder and developers, it is very clear that the demand for Southern Georgian bay area properties is higher than it has ever been and this will put us on solid footing for continued growth in our market as we head into 2018.

  In order to assist my clients and and followers with meaningful market information regarding their respective area, I now offer detailed quarterly reports by municipality.  3rd Quarter Monthly Market Reports by Area and now available to download on the "newsletter" page of my website www.rickcrouch.realtor or simply click on the following link:


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