Thursday, November 29, 2018

October 2018 Market Report, Final Comments

  As stated in my post dated November 11th and titled "Area Real Estate Sales Continue to Remain Soft in 2018" I pushed the notion that paying attention to statistical data is a key element in helping our valued real estate clients make informed decisions.  As November draws to a close and the monthly results are known, I suspect we will have some better insight into what the next couple of years will bring, in the meantime let's take one final look at what has happened in the first 10 months of 2018.

  Year-to-date MLS unit sales are running 19% behind 2017 and this decrease is equally shared in both the single family home and condominium segments of the market.  Through the end of October we have seen 1,256 single family home sales, a decrease of 18.6% from last year.  Condominium sales year-to-date for the first 10 months of 2018 total 375 units and similarly to home there too are down 18.8%. 

  Meanwhile, vacant land sales are down over 65% this year with 100 units sold compared to 293 sales in the first 10 months of 2017.  While the overall inventory of properties available to purchase remains below last year, nowhere is this more evident than with vacant lots.  The glut of lots for sale from a couple of years ago are gone and no newly created lots/subdivisions have come on stream to replenish those lots that have sold and now have homes under construction.

  The obvious question after reviewing the softer MLS sales data for many real estate market across Canada is, what is the cause and how will this downturn in real estate sales impact us moving forward in 2019, 2020 and beyond? 

  First, we all need to acknowledge that Canada's real estate market is somewhat unique to other parts of the globe.  Given the market strength that Canadian real estate has demonstrated for many years, we are viewed by many countries as having a fascination with real estate and or home ownership regardless of the cost or overall economic climate.  In most markets across the country, real estate values have tripled between 2000 to 2017 far out pacing the increase in annual incomes during the same period. Yes our market did slow down after the collapse of the U.S. real estate market through 2007 to 2009 but not nearly to the extent of our neighbours to the south.  Real estate activity in Ontario started to rebound strongly in early 2010 the year in which the province implemented the harmonized sales tax (HST).  Many in the province had the impression that home purchases under the new HST tax structure were going to be HST taxable and they rushed to buy.  In some circumstances HST can apply to the purchase of a new home and in even a resale but that is more of an exception than the rule.

  There is no question that low interest mortgages in recent years have helped to fuel the housing craze we have experienced.  Multiple offers, with properties often selling for over their highly inflated list prices became the norm.  Low interest mortgage have allowed buyers to spend more on a home they perhaps intended.  Sooner or later that craze had to end, interest rates would rise as they have and other economic drivers would come into play all of which would impact the real estate market and other segments of the economy.  This week's announcement by General Motors Canada is a good example.  Some couples with both the husband and wife working may now be faced with raising a family and paying down debt as a one versus two income family and it's not just the auto industry that will create this, the oil and gas industry currently faces its own set of problems. While situations such as this is not a pleasant scenarios it is reality and it will no doubt have an impact on real estate and other aspects of our economy in the months or years ahead. 

  Only time will tell, November's market statistics will be out shortly.  Stay tuned and follow my blog for ongoing market reports and other information that I will post to help you make information decisions about you specific real estate needs and or goals.  For details on the luxury home and condominium market in our area see my Carriage Trade Homes blog.






   

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

General Motors Closures - Where Do We Go From Here?

  Yesterday's announcement by General Motors that is was closing several manufacturing plants in both Canada and the U.S. was grim news for 2,500 assembly workers in Canada, 14,000 in the U.S. plus thousands more with salaried positions throughout the company.  I learned of this pending announcement Sunday night on my way to Toronto via an exclusive story released by CTV news.  While it is unfortunate not only for the affected workers but for the province as a whole, it was not unexpected.  The Canadian retail industry has gone through change ie: Sears and Target and will continue to do so, the auto industry and other businesses is no different.

  On Monday I was one of approximately 400 members of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) attending a conference in Toronto to discuss advocacy issues pertaining to both REALTORS as well as Ontario home/property owners.  Speakers at this event included Premier Doug Ford, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Green Party Leader Mike Schriener, interim Provincial Liberal Leader John Fraser, Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton and lastly former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Rarely do you have the opportunity to meet and hear such political talent in the same day and I felt privileged to attend.

  Needless-to-say Monday morning's announcement by GM news impacted the conference, Premier Ford was delayed half an hour in arriving having been on the phone addressing the issue with GM's President.  Whether you like Premier Ford or not, Ontario's new government have moved quickly to address many of the issues facing the Province not the least of which is the economy and the deficit.  Mr. Ford did not shy away from the closure issue acknowledging that GM workers will need assistance in securing new employment.  At the same time he remained resolute that Ontario is "open for business."  Faced with global economic change and competition, he said that Ontario and in fact Canada needs to attract business that includes smart and other up and coming technologies, artificial intelligence and those that represent the future growth of business outside the traditional manufacturing sector.  Ms. Horwath on the other hand touted that the government needs to fight GM's decision in every way possible, as does the head of their Union.  Clearly they have no grasp of reality and they still cling to the belief that unions have a lot of clout.

  My father, a dentist like his farther and brother was a car guy so I come by it honestly.  He was for the most part a strong GM customer.  Growing up we had Chevrolets, Pontiacs, an Olsmobile even a Corvair with the odd Ford thrown into the mix.  My father died in 2001 and I have always thought how shocked he would be if he had lived to see GM file for bankruptcy with the Pontiac and Oldmobile divisions both gone along with Mercury, Plymouth and others.  I as well have had my share of GM vehicles over the years.  In addition to my current car an Audi, my wife has a 1980 Corvette which she drives in the summer and it continues to go up in value.  We also have a 2015 GMC Denauli pick-up bought earlier this year (with cash) for less than half of its original $69,000 sticker price.  Will I ever buy a brand new vehicle again?  Not likely when I can let someone else take a 30% or 40% hit in value in the first three or so years of the vehicle's life.  Also, I am not interested in low interest financing, "employee" pricing or any other gimmicks the auto makers throw at consumers. 

  I moved to Collingwood in 1985 as the result of a transfer with Goodyear Canada.  Goodyear's Collingwood plant was a significant supplier to GM and Ford that included fuel and transmission lines, rad hoses and other hose products.  Those days are long gone.  Collingwood's Pilkington glass plant supplies auto glass for the Chevrolet Impala, a poor selling car that will soon no longer be in GM's vehicle lineup.  My father had a 1962 Impala, he always said it was the nicest car he ever had, I wish I had it now!  Fortunately the majority of Pilkington's business is outside of GM, good for them.

  Following their brush with bankruptcy GM is in relatively strong financial shape.  By means of the direction they announced yesterday, they have chosen to invest in the future which like for may other car/truck manufacturers includes electric vehicles and those that are self driving as reflected by GM's purchase of San Francisco based startup Cruise Automation for $1 billion in 2016.

  Times and marketplace changes driven by consumers will continue to rise and I believe the acceleration of those changes will continue to escalate.  Politicians and unions can kick and scream all they want but trying to fight what consumers want and are willing to pay for is like trying to swim up Niagara Falls.  GM has set a good example for many in business to follow, make the required changes to float with the rising tide rather than try to swing against the current.

  Like everyone I offer my condolences to the GM workers affected by the closure of Oshawa and GM's other facilities.  You will absolutely need to maintain a strong resolve to find alternate work, which may require training for new skills in order to transition into a completely different field of work.  Despite the challenges we all face from time to time perseverance always pays off.  Hopefully Ontario's current government will implement the required efforts to develop employment opportunities in the province's economy that will offer opportunities for these displaced workers as well as for our our children, opportunities that we as adults never had.



Sunday, November 11, 2018

Area Real Estate Sales Continue to Remain Soft in 2018

  I am going to start this post off with a somewhat different flavour.  I admit to being a bit of a statistics junkie especially when it comes to real estate and other matters involving the need to make qualified, informed decisions.  There is an old saying that "figures lie and liars figure" which makes having accurate information and data all that more important.  For me this is especially true when serving my real estate clients and helping them make qualified and important selling or buying decisions.  Sharing relevant information and data is therefore in my opinion a key priority in my role as a "consultant" so-to-speak to real estate buyers and sellers.
  There is no denying that most real estate markets across Canada have experienced a much softer year in 2018 than in 2016/2017 and the southern Georgian Bay area is no exception.  Following record breaking sales in 2016 and 2017 where MLS® sales reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS (SGBAR) exceeded $1 billion, we are going to fall well short of that historic sales volume for 2018.  I am happy to report however that sales through our Brokerage, Royal LePAGE Locations North have remained strong this year especially over the past couple of months.  Kudos to our sales staff and the administrative assistants in our five area offices for their efforts in serving the needs of our valued clients.
  Through the end of October, year-to-date MLS® sales in our area total $803.9 million, 15% below the $950.9 million worth of  properties sold in the first 10 months of last year.  MLS® year-to-date unit sales in our market through October are down 376 properties or 19% from one year ago.  The biggest question we need to ask ourselves for this slowdown in area real estate activity is why, what if anything has changed?
  First, the southern Georgina Bay area has become and remains a prime area that attracts buyers.  Arguably whether it is a place for part-time weekend enjoyment, a location for your family's primary residence or for retirement purposes, we have a lifestyle that is second to none.  People have been increasingly coming to this area for years and that trend is not likely to change any time soon unless economic or other circumstances come into play that will affect that.
  One of those circumstances is affordability.  Everyone is aware that interest rates have crept up in recent months.  This combined with the fact that lending rules have been tightened with respect to attaining a mortgage has had some downward pressure on many buyers ability or willingness to make the plunge into home ownership.  In my management role I have signing authority for the Brokerage and in recent months I have signed several Mutual Release documents cancelling sales where Buyers we unable to get the required financing to complete their purchase.  This does necessarily mean the Buyer's credit rating was at fault.  In some cases the lenders may as the result of inflated prices, not seen the value in the home or condo the Buyers was willing to pay or the property did not get the appropriate "realistic" appraised value to secure financing.  This trend is not likely to change any time soon.
  Canadian real estate prices have on average tripled from 2000 to 2017 which explains to a large degree the rampant growth in both prices and real estate activity overall.  Much of this has been the result of low interest rates/credit which is a polite way of saying "debt."  An article in the Financial Post back in September titled "Canadians household debt is creeping back again"  speaks to this issue and personally I believe this poses a potential threat to the strength of both our real estate market over the next 2 to four years and perhaps the economy as a whole.  Am I being a pessimist?  Some may think so but it's more a matter of being realistic and again looking at the data.  More on this in upcoming posts.




Monday, October 29, 2018

How's The Real Estate Market

  Real estate sales activity in many markets across Canada continues to remain significantly below the frantic level of sales that we experienced in 2016 and during the first 4 to 5 months of 2017.  I don't profess to be the smartest guy but in order to counsel my buyer and seller clients I make a concentrated effort to be informed and to stay abreast of what's happening and I follow market activity in our market and others closely.  Whether I am grocery shopping or just bump into people on the street, the most common question I get is "how's the real estate market?"

  My initial response this year is that we are down in terms of MLS dollar and unit sales from last year.  People are generally surprised as for the most part, the media tends to provide less coverage of real estate sales activity when the market weakens than they do when the market is booming.  In the past couple of years print, online and radio/television media touted how robust the market was.  Often you heard about the property that drew 20 or 30 offers and sold for $100,000, $200,000 or more over list price.  When have we ever heard about the home that languished on the market for a year or two and finally sold for 25%, 30% or more below the original asking price?

  Year-to-date MLS real estate sales as reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS to the end of September are down 17% in terms of dollars sold.  MLS dollar volume for the first three quarters of 2017 totalled $859.7 million whereas for 2018 sales are $714.8 million.  As was the case in 2016 we ended 2017 with MLS sales over the $1 billion mark at just under $1.1 billion and th4ese sales did not include sales of new homes and or condominiums by developers.  Given the fact we are well off that pace through September  I forecast total MLS sales for 2018 will be in the $925 to $950 million range roughly 15% to 18% below 2017.


  Year-to-date MLS unit sales through the end of September total 1,460 properties which is 20% fewer sales than in the same period last year.  New listing activity has increased in recent months but the number of new listings this year is still running 6% less than the same time frame in 2017.  The average number of days-on-market has crept up this year to 47 compared to 40 last year and I believe we will see this number increase.

  Sales in virtually every price segment of the market are below 2017 especially at the upper end where year-to-date sales between $1.5 and $2 million are 56% below last year.  Sales in our area under the $300,000 mark are down 41% while sales between $300,000 and $500,000 are down 15% from last year.  In my next post I will summarise market activity across the various municipalities in our region but the results are similar, unit sales are down 14% to as much as 25% from one year ago in every municipality that makes up our market area.

  So collectively what does all this information tell us? With sales down both in terms of dollars and the number of properties sold along with an increase in the number of days it takes to sell a property, we have clearly entered a new era one where buyers, the banks and other lenders are getting increasingly cautious. 

  Our market like many across Canada is or has shifted to one that is balanced more evenly between sellers and buyers and I see this trend continuing.  Buyers who are willing to wait will no doubt benefit with more properties coming to market and lower prices. In future posts I will explain why.

  In the meantime please do not hesitate to Contact Me if you have questions or to have a no obligation consultation regarding your personal real estate needs and or goals.










Friday, October 19, 2018

It's Municipal Election Time - Have You Voted?

  Great article on the democratic election process by Ian Adams and well worth the read.

  I ran in the last municipal election for Collingwood Council and I am not afraid to admit that the 38 vote shortfall Ian mentions in this article between getting elected and not was me.  While I was disappointed at the time I took pride in my campaign efforts and the contribution I made in bringing forth change to the town's municipal government.

  People that supported my efforts last time have asked why I did not run in this election.  The simple reason is having sold my home earlier this year I no longer live or own property in Collingwood and now reside in Clarksburg.  Nonetheless my interest in this community, province and country have not diminished and I have actively but quietly followed the current election process.  My children were both born in Collingwood.. My son and his girlfriend have just moved back to Collingwood so like everyone I have a vested interest in the well being and future of the communities I am affiliated with. 

  I have cast my vote in both the Blue Mountains as well as on Manitoulin Island where I own properties.  I did my research of the candidates which isn't hard and asked questions when needed.

  On Monday it will be interesting to see if my choices made a difference in helping those I voted for get elected.  More importantly it will be interesting to follow the process to see if those elected to their Council positions serve their respective communities in the best interest of the public at large during the next four years.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Thinking Of The Future

  As a real estate Broker for over 17 years I know from experience that it is not often we handle a real estate transaction for ourselves.  Normally we work on behalf of our valued Seller and or Buyer clients so it is fun when we get to engage in some real estate business on behalf of ourselves.

  Earlier this year I sold my own house in Collingwood and moved to the Thornbury/Clarksburg area.  This move was part of a grander plan that my spouse and I came up with thinking about the future in terms of where and what we would like to doing in five or ten years.  I love my work in real estate serving my clients and I see myself working for many more years.  Nonetheless we are all getting older and it is never too early to think about the future and the possibility for me of working in a different real estate market than southern Georgian Bay.

  Those that know me are aware that I have a passion for and a deep connection with Manitoulin Island.  My brother and I jointly own a cottage property there which we have had for 45 years.  Our mother was born and raised on Manitoulin, we have family there as well as a lifetime of memories from our many summers spent there.  My two children aged 28 and 30 also share the same enthusiasm and love for Manitoulin and its unique lifestyle.  My daughter, son-in-law and 11 month old granddaughter Ivy just spent time there with us during their three week visit from home which is the island of Maui, Hawaii.  As my daughter always says, "Dad, Manitoulin is still my favourite island, it's a very special place."

  As of today my spouse and I own an additional piece of Manitoulin Island.  In addition to the cottage property I already own and have enjoyed, we purchased a 1.5 acre waterfront lot on one of the inland lake, Lake Manitou.  Besides being a lovely treed, private property on which to potentially build our dream home for the future, it has the added distinction of being located on the largest lake (40 square miles) on the largest freshwater island in the world.  Very cool!

  Although there is no home currently on the property, the driveway and hydro is already installed and there is an excellent building site with a view of the lake.  In addition there is a recently built garage perfect for storing my 30 boat trailer this winter plus a variety of other vehicles etc.  Two additional spaces under roof on each side of the garage can easily be enclosed providing over 1,500 square feet of garage space, a shop or for other storage uses.  It's the garage I was always going to built, now I don't have to.

  Dreams do come true but it doesn't just happen.  It takes vision, hard work and the support of a loving partner that shares your passion for similar things in life and is not afraid to work for them.  I am in trouble as she is already going through home plans.  It looks like I will be working for a few years yet and that in my books is just fine.

  If you have dreams as well that involve real estate be it an in town, rural or waterfront property, I would be delighted to share my experience to help you in achieving whatever goals and or dreams you may have.  The southern Georgian Bay market offers a variety of options whether it is for full or past time use

Contact me and I would be happy to have a no obligation consultation as to where you would like to be further down the road of life.






Thursday, September 27, 2018

Southern Georgian Bay Real Estate Sales Shows a Slight Upturn in August

  Real estate market activity across southern Georgian Bay in August showed a slight improvement in dollar volume over the same month last year raising the question after seven prior months of weaker sales than the same time in 2017, will this upward trend continue?

  MLS® sales reported by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® for the month of  August totalled $88.8 million, an increase of $4.5 million or 5% over August 2017.  This was the first month in 2018 when MLS® dollar sales exceeded the same month of last year.  Despite the modest upturn in dollar sales during August, year-to-date MLS® dollar and unit sales both remain at significantly lower levels that the first eight months of 2017.  Year-to-date MLS® dollar sales of $630.1 million represents and 18% decrease from last year while unit sales of 1,287 properties are 21% lower than the 1,626 MLS® units sold in the first eight months of 2017.  Mid way through 2017 overall real estate activity in most market across Canada began to slow and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) which is a major feeder market for property demand in southern Georgian Bay is no exception.  Slower sales in the GTA, as we all Guelph, Kitchener/Waterloo and London combined with tighter lending rules have all served to reduce the frenetic sales pace we experienced in our market during 2016 and 2017.  This is not necessarily a bad thing as slower sales, the reduction in multiple offers with highly inflated sale prices lends to a more balanced market favouring sellers and buyers equally.

  The change to softer MLS® sales across our region from 2017 is consistent in every municipality that make our market.  Overall year-to-date MLS® unit sales are down from 20% to 34% and are broken down as follows: Collingwood -20%, Municipality of Meaford and Wasaga Beach are both 25% below last year, Clearview -28%, while the Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands are down 32% and 34% respectively.  As with sales activity by municipality, decreased sales are reflected in every price segment of our market with a particular emphasis on the upper end market from $1 million and up.  Sales between $1 and $1.5 million are 20% below 2017 with 41 sales this year compared to 51 in 2017.  Sales in the $1.5 to $2 million range are down 61% from last year with just 7 sales this year versus 18 sales last year.

  One bright spot in market activity this year is the sale of condominiums.  MLS® condo sales through the end of August total 291 units compared to 233 this time last year, an increase of 25%.  For many buyers condominiums are a less expensive alternative with less upkeep than a single family home.  By comparison, MLS® single family home sales are down 22% with 996 sales reported this year versus 1,273 sales during the same period last year. Lastly, vacant land sales are greatly reduced from one year ago largely due to a lack of inventory.  Year-to-date vacant land MLS® sales total 82 properties compared to 234 sale in the first eight months of 2017.  Please keep in mind the statistics provided herein do not include sales made by builders and or developers that do not go through the local MLS® system but are made directly by the builders/developers own sales staff.

  Tighter lending rules combined with an ongoing shortage of inventory listed for sale have both contributed to the current slowdown in MLS® sales activity we have experienced in 2018.  While properties listed for sale have increased somewhat this year, new listing activity is still 7% below the level of last year.  Conversely, expired listing activity has increased significantly this year with the number of  expired listings up 46% to the end of August.  While sale activity has softened, some sellers are still asking above market value for their properties hoping to attract a willing buyer.  Weaker market activity nationwide combined with tighter lending rules do not support multiple offers and over zealous buyers to the same degree as they did early last year.   

  As always, consumers need to adapt to changing market conditions and whether you are buying or selling, working with a knowledgeable REALTOR® can work to your advantage in meeting your real estate investment goals.  For a no obligation discussion about the current market and or your specific real estate objectives please feel free to Contact me. 







A Piece Of Colliingwood Maritime History Is About To Sink

  It is unfortunate that we as Canadians have taken such a laissez-faire position to saving and preserving items that offer a glimpse of our past and represent a historic value that cannot be replaced once lost.

  The master plan for the redevelopment of Collingwood's harbour front is no doubt years away from being fully implemented and completed but hopefully amongst its many features it will serve to recognize and celebrate the Town's shipbuilding and maritime past. 

  The S.S. Norisle pictured here was built in Collingwood in 1946 and served as a passenger and car ferry between Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island up to 1974 when its replacement the Chi Cheemaun (also built in Collingwood) went into service.  Up to its retirement, the Norisle was the last steam powered passenger ship on the Great Lakes. The ship was subsequently sold by the province to the Township of Assiginack on Manitoulin Island for $1 (one dollar) and towed to the town of Manitowaning where it has remained ever since.  The ship went through a number of uses including that of a restaurant and later a museum but has sat idle for many years deteriorating.  I took these drone shorts of the ship earlier this summer. 

  My mother was born on Manitoulin, I have spent every summer there since I was an infant and my brother and I have a cottage property a short distance from the ferry dock that we have owned for 45 years.  In my late teens for a summer job I worked on the ferry dock at South Baymouth parking cars, then tying up the Norisle and it's sister ship the Norgoma when they arrived.  I also drove cars on and off the ferries which in itself was a challenge especially on the Norisle as it involved taking cars down an elevator into a dark lower hold.  There was no turning around to back up, you watched and followed the directions of the 1ST or 2ND Mate as he pointed and moved his finger as to how and where to steer.  It was a great experience.

  In recent years the Norisle has been at the centre of a lawsuit between the Township of Assiginack and the S.S. Norisle Steamship Society.  The Society was hoping to purchase the ship and restore it so as to offer cruises such as the Seqwun does on the Muskoka lakes.  While doable that in itself is a large and expensive undertaking given the ship is 72 years old and today's safety requirements are much more stringent.

  News was released yesterday that the Township and Norisle Steamship Society have reached an agreement resolving their dispute.  The ship is being sold to a group in Tobermory (Tobermory Maritime Association) that will acquire the ship and subsequently sink it as a scuba diving site.   It's too bad that something more appropriate could not have been decided for the fate of this piece of Collingwood history.  While 5,000 or 6,000 scuba diving enthusiasts visit Tobermory annually, that number is minuscule (Collingwood gets more than that on one weekend to see Elvis impersonators) compared to the number of visitors the ship could attract as a permanent, moored fixture here in Collingwood or elsewhere. 

  This is another piece of Canadian history and Collingwood heritage that will be lost which is too bad.  That is why many of us are working diligently via the Nottawasaga Lighthpouse Preservation Society of which I am the current Chair to acquire and restore the Nottawasaga lighthouse off Collingwood.  More of that in future posts.






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.