Friday, July 6, 2018

Is Storage A Problem In Your Garage?

  Space in and outside our homes is often a problem for many of us but there are solutions. One, you can get rid of stuff (which I have done) and or two, you can create some additional space especially in the garage.  Besides having my own needs to address as real Estate Broker I am always helping clients solve various issues with the properties or ones they are looking to purchase. 

  Like my father (deceased) I am a car nut, actually anything with a motor in it gets my attention. Back in the fifties, sixties and seventies all the new car models came out at the same time usually in early October. It started when I was about four or five years old and my Dad would drag me around on a Friday night and Saturday to the various dealerships looking at all the new cars. I still remember staring at the first Mustangs, Camaros and Firebirds that came out.  I have owned and restored many cars over the years as well as motorcycles and boats.  

  Between my wife and I we have three vehicles, plus a boat and I have a motorcycle.  She has always loved Corvettes particularly the mid-sixties models but they have become very expensive. Looking for something more affordable that she could use and enjoy we found her a great, low mileage 1980 model, fully optioned with a factory four speed transmission which is somewhat rare. With all this "stuff" at home space was becoming s problem so we decided that a car lift in the garage was an potential option to look at. As with most major purchases we shopped around looking at the various vehicle lifts on the market, comparing features and of course price. We settled on a unit made here in Ontario (Oakville) that was well engineered and unlike some others used North American parts versus components imported from abroad. 

  The lift was delivered and installed this week and we are very pleased with the results. Taking advantage of the available ceiling height the lift allows us to store three vehicles plus my motorcycle in our double car garage. For hobbyists like myself a car lift is a low cost option that will pay for itself while de-cluttering your driveway. The lift allows you to raise a vehicle to different heights for cleaning and or doing other maintenance tasks including underneath the car. If you are interested visit The Lift Superstore in Oakville or I would be happy to answer any questions you may have so feel free to Contact Me.





Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What's In A Seller's Best Interest

  Late in 2016 and early 2017, real estate For Sale signs began appearing in our market with the added message "Coming Soon To Realtor.ca."  Consumers were and still are often confused not knowing what this statement implies so let's clear the air.

  Many of us visiting a movie theatre to take in a film often sit through a parade of ads highlighting upcoming films that are coming to the theatre soon.  "Coming Soon To Realtor.ca" signs have been used in markets such as Toronto and elsewhere for years and are a way in which a listing REALTOR® may choose to pre-market a property for sale before it hits the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  Often this is done while the property's owner(s) complete some last minute preparations to list their home or condo for sale on the local MLS and this may include such tasks as interior or exterior painting, decorating, the staging of furniture, yard clean up, completing property photos and so on.  While the overall intent of using a Coming Soon To Realtor.ca sign on a property may seem legitimate the big question is, does doing so best represent a seller in exposing the property to as many potential buyers as possible thus helping to ensure they get the best sale price and terms possible?

  As REALTORS® we are governed by provincial law namely the Real estate and Business Brokers Act (REBBA 2002).  This act includes a variety of requirements pertaining to advertising none of which can be viewed as being false, misleading or deceptive.  Let me ask this question. If as a buyer you noticed a property with a For Sale sign that further said "Coming Soon To Realtor.ca," you had a potential interest in the property only to find out that it was sold and never got listed on MLS, how would you feel?  Falsely excited? Mislead? Deceived? I certainly would.

 As a licensed real estate Broker, this is not a practice that I have or would use.  First, installing a For Sale sign of any type on a property must include written consent from the seller(s).  This consent must have an effective date as well as written direction from the seller(s) as to how and when showings of the property are to be managed as well as the date on which offers will be accepted.  Too often these details are overlooked.  Too often the listing REALTOR® may just be trying to find a buyer on their own.  Again, is this in the best interest of the seller(s)?  The answer is probably no!

 The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) owns and manages www.realtor.ca.  The only "Coming Soon" sign allowed and or endorsed by CREA is "Coming Soon To Realtor.ca."  "Coming to MLS" is not allowed neither is just "Coming Soon" as is begs the question coming soon to what?  Some real estate boards and associations across Canada do not allow the use of such signs as part of the MLS rules and regulations, personally I think it's time to perhaps consider the same here in our market.  Seller's deserve and are entitled to the best possible service we as REALTORS® can deliver and the same applies to buyers. 

  Ultimately a property is either for sale or it's not.  Let's stop playing games and service our seller and buyer clients in the best way possible with knowledgeable, timely and forthright service that demonstrates the value that we as REALTORS® bring to the real estate transaction.  I would love to hear your opinion on this or feel free to Contact Me with any questions you may have.
        

Thursday, May 31, 2018

  Back in 2008, the City of Toronto brought in their own "municipal land transfer tax" MLTT which was applied to purchases and paid by the buyers of real estate within the city.  For years, buyers of real estate in Ontario have paid a provincial land transfer tax based on a scale that increased as the total purchase price went higher. 

  I have been a full time REALTOR for 16+ years and the provincial land transfer tax rate has always been the same.  On the first $55,000 of the purchase price, the buyer pays a tax rate of .5%.  From $55,000 to $250,000 the tax rate increases to 1% and for any amount over $250,000 up to $400,000 the land transfer tax payable is $1.5%.  Above $400,000 and up to $2 million the rate increases to 2.0% and for any amount over $2 million the land transfer tax increases yet again to 2.5%. 

Example: It a home outside of Toronto sells for $500,000, the total provincial land transfer tax payable is as follows:

- On the first $55,000 @ .5%  (1/2%)             $275.00

- From $55,000 to $250,000 @ 1.0%          $1,950.00

- From $25,000 to $400,000 @ 1.5%          $2,250.00 

- From $400,000 to $500,000 @ 2.0%        $2,000.00

TOTAL LAND TRANSFER TAX                  $6,475.00 


 The total land transfer tax payable on that same property if located in Toronto would be the provincial tax of $6,475.00 plus the Toronto land transfer tax of another $6,475.00 for a total payable of $12,950.00.

  Municipalities across the province in general have not been prudent managers when it comes to managing expenses forcing them to look elsewhere for sources of revenue and implementing a municipal land transfer tax in Toronto was a good example.  Based on Toronto's success, many other municipalities jumped on the same tax grab bandwagon hoping to increase their revenues while jeopardising the dream of home ownership for many.  Thankfully the province stepped in and with some added pressure from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) the opportunities for municipally implemented additional land transfer taxes was thwarted.

  Is it now safe to go back in the water?  No so according to an email I received today from OREA.  Apparently municipal Councillors in York Region north of Toronto have demanded that the province give the them the required municipal power to implement their own MLTT. 

  Here we go again, municipal spending continues to drain a region's economic well-being and the answer is?  Let's pass on another tax to the public.  The same politicians that advocate increased property and additional land transfer tax implementation are the same ones that lament about the lack of affordable housing.  They just don't get it.

  This is not only a provincial election year but a municipal one as well.  We had all better get out and make sure our voices are heard.  I know that I will.   

 

Monday, April 2, 2018

LED Bulbs May Not Always Be Your Ideal Choice

 In the sixteen plus years I have been in real estate, technology has played a huge role in not only expanding the real estate business but it has also impacted our daily lives in many many ways.  Between advancing my real estate skills, computer knowledge and other facets of life I have always embraced technology and it has served me well.  At the same time however, technology can sometimes backfire and I recently learned this with a problem at my house.

  As may of you are aware I recently sold my own home and moved from Collingwood to Clarksburg which is adjacent to Thornbury.  My better half and I have been living in our own homes for many years and it was time to consolidate two residence into one.  She and I both work long hours, this combined with maintaining two homes plus a cottage(s) I have owned for many years on Manitoulin Island had become more than full time jobs and it was time to simplify our lives.

  I had made many improvements to my Collingwod house including steps that were aimed at reducing my energy consumption and expense.  In addition to newer appliances, a hi-efficiency gas furnace and central air conditioner I had also switched most of my interior lighting to LED's. One area in my home where the LED lights backfired so-to-speak with on my garage door opener. The standard incandescent light bulbs on my opener were always burning out mostly the result of the excess vibration they had to endure from the opener itself every time the door was opened or closed.  Even rough service bulbs seemed to fail fairly often so I switched the standard bulbs over to LED's.  I also did the same on mt spouse's garage door opener.

  Things worked fine with better lighting in the both garages other than we found the garage door remotes had lost some of their effective range and they would often fail to activate the door openers unless you were very close by.  Ultimately I discovered that the problem was not the opener or the remotes, it was the LED bulbs.  LED bulbs have a frequency of their own and this was creating a conflict with the frequencies of our garage door openers and their respective remotes.  Once I removed the LED bulbs and replaced them with normal incandescent bulbs the remotes went back to working as they always had.

  A move that was implemented to lengthen the life of the garage opener light bulbs ended up causing more frustration than just having to replace the standard type of bulbs on a somewhat regular basis.  If you are having trouble with the performance of your garage door opener and you too have installed LED bulbs on the unit, this is more than likely the problem.

  We have plenty of LED bulbs throughout the interior of our Clarksburg home. The garage door works perfectly with the tried and true incandescent filament type bulbs, I will just have to be content replacing the door opener bulbs more frequently when they fall victim to the wear and tear they are subject to via the opening and closing of the garage door.  Lesson learned.


     

Sunday, March 25, 2018

What A Difference A Year Makes!

  After ending 2017 with another year of record MLS® real estate sales in southern Georgian Bay with sales exceeding $1 billion, 2018 has gotten off to a much slower start.

  MLS® sales reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® to the end of February totalled $93.0 million, down 25% from the $124.4 million in properties sold during the first two  months of 2017 and 10% below the same period in 2016.  A total of 202 properties have sold though the local MLS® system this year, down 20% from the 254 properties sold in the first two months of last year and 29% below the 285 sales in the same period of 2016.

  While demand for area properties in 2017 remained strong and is expected to continue in 2018, sales activity suffered last year primarily resulting from inadequate inventory levels.  Year-to-date MLS® new listings total 396 properties which represents a 4% increase over the first two months of 2017.  While admittedly this is not a significant increase it is encouraging to see more inventory coming to market as we head into the spring market when buyer demand starts to increase. Another important aspect to the real estate market in 2018 will be increased mortgage rates as well as stricter rules for borrowing. Tighter lending rules that came into affect earlier this year are sure to impact market conditions overall in 2018 especially for first time buyers.  This will no doubt include what buyers are willing to pay as well as what mortgage amounts lenders are prepared to extend to their clients.  Sellers need to be conscious of these potential pitfalls when shopping for a home or condominium and this is where we as REALTORS® can be of significant value. Current market conditions are not what they were twelve or fourteen months ago and for property owners serious abut selling, now is not the time to be over-pricing your property beyond its respective market value.  Doing so will certainly impact what a buyer is willing to pay and more importantly, the amount of money their lender may be willing to extend them in the form of a mortgage.  Look for more on this topic in my upcoming posts.

  The brightest spot in the local real estate market last year was in upper end home sales.  During 2017 we experienced a very strong demand for homes priced from $500,000 and higher.  Upper end MLS® home sales in our area between $500,000 and $1 million last year totalled 571 units, an increase of 32% over 2016.  The same could be said for sales between $1 and $2 million last year where sales were up s whopping 65%. Thus far 2018 has been a much different story. Unit MLS® sales between $500,000 and $799,999 are down 28% while sales from $800,000 to $999,999 are 20% below the same time last year.  Sales in the $1 to $2 million price range are down 33% year-to-date.  Lastly there have been no sales this year over $2 million whereas in the first two months of 2017 there were three.

   It will be interesting to see how the rest of 2018 plays out.  As both a Broker and a Market Value Appraiser I watch this data very carefully in order to advise both my buyer and seller clients as to their best options in this ever changing market.  For a no obligation consultation as to your specific real estate needs and or goals, please do not hesitate to Contact Me.  For more details on the luxury home market in our area please see my Southern Georgian Bay Carriage Trade Homes blog.








Sunday, February 25, 2018

Beware The Word "Winterized" When Contemplating A Real Estate Purchase

  Having been a full time REALTOR® now for over 15 years, I have always tried to learn a thing or two every month that will help my seller and buyer clients with their real estate transactions.

 Too often information given about properties is inaccurate and or does not conform to our REALTOR® code of ethics requirements which may result in failure to act in the appropriate manner to protect clients. One term that appears far too often and shouldn't in MLS® and other published information about a property says that the dwelling such as a cottage is "winterized."  When used to describe a property that is listed for sale, the word winterized is used to imply that the dwelling can be lived in year round.

  During my early days of real estate training, one of our instructors told us to never use the adjective "winterized" to describe a property. It is somewhat of a vague term and the instructor said that nowhere in real estate terminology was the word even recognized. I have scoured through a lot of real estate glossaries with a variety of terms from A to Z and never have I seen the word winterized which raises the question what does the term "winterized" mean?

  The accompanying  photo is my own cottage that was taken last winter.  I own this property along with my brother and 2018 marks our 45th year of ownership.  There is also a second cottage on the property located above our two car garage. Both cottages have been updated and well maintained including municipal water and sewer, wood burning fireplaces and electric heat. The walls and attics are insulated and they are accessible year round.  Can and do we use them in the winter?  Sometimes. Would I ever describe them as being "winterized?"  Absolutely not.

  One of the neighbouring properties to my cottages is currently listed for sale.  It has been a full time year round residence for a number of years and in additional to the main house there are three cottages.  The MLS® description of the property says among other things that there are "....three completely finished cottages, one fully winterized, one partially winterized."  Once again this begs the questions, what does winterized" mean and what happened to the third "fully finished" cottage which I gather is neither fully or partially winterized.

  Every year I winterize my car, motorcycle, boats, lawnmower, snowblower etc.  I even winterize the cottages meaning that the municipal water is shut off, the pipes are drained, the chimneys are covered, the phone service is shut down for the winter and lastly the hydro is turned off.  This is the standard practice of correctly preparing equipment and properties for the long cold winter months.  Claiming that a property is "winterized" in any type of sale listing description is not and I highly recommend you use a reliable REALTOR® when considering making an offer on any property that is touted as being "winterized." 

  If you have any questions or comments I look forward to hearing from you, please feel free to Contact Me


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Georgian Triangle Real Estate Market - 2017 Year In Review

  During 2017 we continued to see a strong demand for real estate across the southern Georgian Bay Region.  Following record MLS sales that were reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS in 2016, the bar was raised once again in 2017 with total MLS volume for the year of $1.091 billion.  This was roughly a 5% increase in sales over 2016.

  Despite the higher sales volume last year, a shortage of MLS listed properties for sale continued to plague the local real estate market in 2017.  Sales activity in the first half of 2017 remained strong, with MLS unit sales to the end of June up 1% or roughly the same equivalent from 2016.  MLS sales volume at the end of June were up 27% and totalled $6234 million.  Meanwhile MLS listings during the same time frame were down 16% from the first six months of 2016 totalling 2,014 properties compared to 2,385 new listings one year earlier.

  Despite the shortage of properties listed for sale, MLS dollar sales in 2017 remained strong as the result of increased sales in the higher price ranges primarily the $500,000 to $2 million category.  Sales of properties between $500,000 and $1 million were up 31% and 36% respectively totalling 571 units compared to 432 in 2016. Sales between $1 to $1.5 million increased 63% with 83 sales reported versus just 51 a year earlier. Lastly, sales in the $1.5 to $2 million range were up 71% with 29 sales compared to 17 in 2016.

  In total there were 1,551 MLS single family homes sales in 2017 a reduction of 19% from 2016.  Condominium sales in 2017 totalled 523 units an increase of 9 units or 2% from the 514 condos sold in 2016.  Lastly, MLS sales of vacant land in 2017 totalled 316 properties, an increase of 4% over the number of vacant land properties sold in 2016.  As pointed out in the past, these MLS sales and listing statistics do not include properties listed, built and or sold by developers outside of the local MLS system.  The Blue Mountains was the only area municipality that realised an increase in MLS sales of existing single family homes in 2017 with 227 sales reported compared to 223 a year earlier.  All other municipalities saw a reduction of MLS residential home sales in 2017 their results are as follows: Grey Highlands down 26%, Cleaview down 25%, Wasaga Beach down 21%, Collingwood down 15% while sale in the Municipality of Meaford were down 13%.

  As we head into 2018 I feel that we will see a change in market conditions especially from the hectic first few months of 2017. Inventory will no doubt remain soft and the recent changes in mortgage rules will no doubt impact some buyers and that may well decrease the multi offers and over list price sales that we experienced in the early months of last year.  Meanwhile, the development of new homes and condominiums in the area will serve to add some much needed housing inventory to our market(s) over the next 2 to 5 years.  The demand for area properties will remains strong, fuelled to a large degree by buyers from the Greater Toronto Area and from cities in southwestern Ontario such as Guelph, Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, London and others.  We are still in the early stages of buyers in their retirement years looking to move to this area long term.

  As I have stated before, the challenge(s) for many of the local municipalities will be to manage the growth of the southern Georgian Bay area in such a way as to preserve the very reason why people want to vacation and or retire here in the first place.  Municipal services such as sewer, water and the local transportation infrastructure will all feel the pressures of the coming market growth.

  For further information on real estate sales in this area please visit the Newsletter section of my personal real estate website www.rickcrouch.realtor.   For a confidential no obligation conversation about you buying or selling real estate needs please feel free to Contact Me


Contact Me

Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4



Email:
rickcrouch@propertycollingwood.com



Direct: 705-443-1037



Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230




Website:
www.rickcrouch.realtor















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.