A few good reasons to love Canada

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Of course, there are so many more reasons but this simple message is about as Canadian as it gets.

Happy Canada Day!

How Many Square Feet Is It Really?

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The media has been making a big news story out of the case out west of a woman who claims that misrepresented square footage on a listing when she bought has cost her thousands of dollars. Now of course, I have my own opinions on this as you can guess but I’ll keep them to myself. Bashing REALTORS® is just so much fun and I wouldn’t want to rain on the parade.

The Canadian Real Estate Association does have standards of practice including rules of measurement. In my experience, most people do not understand that the square footage reported on a listing does not include spaces that are below grade. There are also other significant reporting differences from what people might expect. Below is just a small taste of a few styles of homes and how they are to be measured.Measurement guidelinesOne of the most common errors we see is in 1 ½ or 2 ½ storey homes. You know the ones – sloped ceilings inside, steep roof lines? They are particularly common in older homes. Since you do not have full height on the upper level, not all of the square feet can be counted. If it is a half storey, we can only add half the square footage of the foot print. Things get even trickier when you have dormers to factor in. Another challenge is homes with walk-out basements and the variety of these leads to errors and inconsistencies in reporting.

Another thing many people are not aware of is that square footage calculations are taken from the exterior of a house and not inside the way you typically might see in commercial measurements. In condos, builders often measure from the mid point of a centre wall.

The bottom line is, do your own due diligence when looking at a home. Does the space work for you? Great. Is square footage important in your area in regard to impact on value? Then determine how you want to have that square footage verified and further, how accurate is the information of whatever other homes you are comparing it to?

It’s these kind of details that people don’t often talk or think about but apparently, they make great news stories.

Collingwood and Area Real Estate Barometer June 17-23/2016

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This market summary includes data for Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach, Clearview, Grey Highlands and Meaford. The information was obtained from the MLS® statistics provided by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS®. Previous week(s) will in brackets.

Single Family ResidentialMarket Report Icon

New Listings:  41 (45, 65, 52)
Average List Price: $482,616
Range of List Prices: $99,900-$1,500,000
Number of Sales:  34 (49, 64, 48 )
Range of Sale Prices:  $72,000 – $765,000

Condominiums
New Listings:  13 (9, 10, 13 )
Average List Price:  $283,346
Range of List Prices: $144,900 – $599,900
Number of Sales:  16 (11, 13, 15)
Range of Sale Prices: $110,000 – 545,000

Vacant Land
New Listings: 16 ( 13, 11, 19)
Number of Sales: 0 (5, 4, 4)
Range of Sale Prices: $0

Price Changes this week: 29

Notables this week:  

  • 5 Single Family residences sold for more than their asking prices
  • 2 single family residences sold at their asking prices
  • 2 condo listings sold at their asking price
  • 1 condo listing sold for more than its asking price

Note: All statistics obtained from the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® Real Estate Board.

Vintage Décor In and Around Collingwood

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Vintage Decor sm (2)

When it comes to home décor, it seems that the pull toward the vintage style has never been stronger.  Today, we see people pulling together vintage and industrial chic in a blend of creams, whites and greys using textured fabrics (think linens) with architectural salvage (think rusty metals) and quirky pieces that all work so well together.

I’ve noticed that the houses that sell the fastest are often staged with these hues as they blend in modern, sleek furniture pieces with live edge tables, polished concrete counters, sliding barn doors and beautiful green/purple/white flowers.

In the Collingwood area, you can find inspiration and items in places like Leuk located in downtown Collingwood, at the Greentree Emporium on Hwy 26 west of Collingwood and at Kettlewells in Nottawa.

Why do I suddenly have the urge to go shopping?

 

RE/MAX 2016 Recreational Market Report

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REMAX rec reportAs real estate prices rise, many Canadians are looking for alternative ways to finance their dreams of cottage or cabin ownership. In a recent survey of RE/MAX agents and brokers, more than half reported seeing an increase in buyers who planned to rent out their property full- or part-time. In a separate survey of Canadians, conducted by Leger, nearly 60 per cent agreed that due to the emergence of popular, user-driven vacation rental websites, it is easier for an owner to rent out an investment property today versus five years ago.

The Leger survey also found that millennials were most likely to have spent time at a cottage or cabin in the past year, demonstrating that young Canadians are sustaining demand for access to recreational properties. This provides an opportunity for buyers to finance their second homes, most notably in high demand areas such as Grand Bend, Ontario, Tofino, B.C., and Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

In most of the regions that reported an increase in buyers planning to rent out their properties, demand is driven primarily by families and retirees, rather than investors. Retirees were reported as being key drivers of demand in 83 per cent of regions surveyed, and 53 per cent of regions reported an increase in retiree buyers this year compared to last year.

As the large demographic of Baby Boomers retires, sellers who benefitted from significant price appreciation in cities like Vancouver and Toronto are putting that equity into recreational markets, which is causing prices to increase in those regions. Some buyers who may still be five or 10 years away from retirement are taking the opportunity to enter those markets now, renting out their property until they are ready to retire.

This effect has been especially pronounced in British Columbia, where significant price increases in the Lower Mainland are encouraging buyers to invest in regions such as the Okanagan and the Gulf Islands.

The low Canadian dollar is having a positive effect on Canada’s recreational property markets. Canadians, mainly Baby Boomers, who bought properties in the U.S. when U.S. real estate prices were comparably low are selling them at a profit and investing in Canadian recreational markets. The low dollar is also encouraging Canadians to vacation within the country rather than going abroad, putting their money into vacation rentals closer to home.

Some regions, particularly established recreational destinations with international reputations such as Whistler, the Muskokas and Mont Tremblant, are seeing foreign buyers, primarily from the U.S., return to those markets. Cape Breton Island, which recently made international news when a website “Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins” gained the attention of high-profile news media, has seen increased interest from prospective U.S. buyers this year due to the publicity boost, combined with favourable exchange rates.

You can download the full report here.

Mountain Springs Resort: A Blue Mountain Investment Condo Option and How It Works

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Mountain Springs Resort is a 144 unit, slope side development at Blue Mountain that is located next to the Toronto Ski club with direct access to the north chair.  It’s still possible to buy units for under $100,000 here so I do get a number of enquiries about this project as you can imagine.
Units here are a little different than a standard residential condominium. Firstly, they have a commercial zoning which means you cannot live in them full-time. Most people use them as an affordable personal getaway and/or they rent them out through either a property rental company or they self-manage rentals.  This is a whole other topic as the Town of Blue Mountains has a by-law that governs the renting of accommodations for less than 30 days at a time.
There are several things to learn about these condos from the issue of HST to rental income expectations. This video will give you a bit of an idea of how it all works.  If you are looking for an affordable vacation property, this may be worth a closer look.

Collingwood and Area Real Estate Barometer June 3-9, 2016

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This market summary includes data for Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach, Clearview, Grey Highlands and Meaford. The information was obtained from the MLS® statistics provided by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS®. Previous week(s) will in brackets.

Single Family ResidentialMarket Report Icon

New Listings:  65 (52, 45, 85)
Average List Price: $562,395
Range of List Prices: $149,900 – $2,495,000
Number of Sales:  64 (48, 47, 54)
Range of Sale Prices:  $169,900 – $980,000

Condominiums
New Listings:  10 (13, 12, 17)
Average List Price:  $292,550
Range of List Prices: $106,000 – $449,900
Number of Sales:  11 (13, 15, 12)
Range of Sale Prices: $195,000 – $649,900

Vacant Land
New Listings:  11 (19, 12, 14)
Number of Sales: 4 (4, 6, 15)
Range of Sale Prices: $125,000 – $250,000

Price Changes this week: 29

Notables this week:  

  • 6 Single Family residences sold for more than their asking prices
  • 7 single family residences sold at their asking prices
  • 2 condo listings sold at their asking price
  • 2 condo listings sold for more than their asking price

Note: All statistics obtained from the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® Real Estate Board.

Faux Lawns Are Appearing In Our Area

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grassOne day last summer, I was driving through the McKean subdivision in Nottawa, just south of Collingwood and couldn’t help but notice one lush, green, weed-free lawn stand out among the rest. I had to take a closer look and then realized it was artificial turf. A few weeks later, I was showing a high-end luxury home on a gorgeous treed street of heritage, estate homes only to see that the perfect lawn was indeed, a faux lawn. Is this a trend that is taking hold?

Faux grass means never having to mow or water your lawn which is appealing in these time-starved days we all have. The dog doesn’t leave a patch of dead grass and no fertilizing is grassrequired. The “grass” is low maintenance needing only the occasional raking or hosing down. It is expensive though at $8 to $12 a square foot but for some, the trade-off seems to be worth it.

Others are opposed to this newer technology on environmental grounds. While there are no mowers, water or chemicals needed, the product is synthetic and can leach into the ground depending on the construction. Drainage and run-off could be a concern as they are not as permeable as natural grass. There could be heat build-up.

I don’t think there is a definitive answer to the ecology of artificial turf but it looks like the option is becoming increasingly popular. Would you install it at your home?

Collingwood and Area Real Estate Barometer May 27-June 2, 2016

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This market summary includes data for Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach, Clearview, Grey Highlands and Meaford. The information was obtained from the MLS® statistics provided by the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS®. Previous week(s) will in brackets.

Single Family ResidentialMarket Report Icon

New Listings:  52 (45, 85, 70)
Average List Price: $593,444
Range of List Prices: $189,000 – $2,650,000
Number of Sales:  48 (47, 54, 48 )
Range of Sale Prices:  $134,000 – $1,600,000

Condominiums
New Listings:  13 (12, 17, 16)
Average List Price:  $322,808
Range of List Prices: $169,000 – $569,900
Number of Sales:  13 (15, 12, 13)
Range of Sale Prices: $49,500 – $849,000

Vacant Land
New Listings:  19 (12, 14, 17)
Number of Sales: 4 (6, 15, 8 )
Range of Sale Prices: $29,000 – $191,500

Price Changes this week: 40

Notables this week:  

  • 3 Single Family residences sold for more than their asking prices
  • 10 single family residences sold at their asking prices
  • 2 condo listings sold at their asking price
  • 1 vacant land listing sold at it’s asking price
  • 1 vacant land listing sold for more than it’s asking price

Note: All statistics obtained from the Southern Georgian Bay Association of REALTORS® Real Estate Board.

Why Is The Real Estate Market So Hot and Will It Last?

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Ready Set Sold ConceptThe real estate market in Ontario is red hot with the demand for homes outstripping the supply.  Competing offers are the norm in certain segments of the market and many properties are selling above their list prices.  So what is going on?

I have to say that I wonder about that too. In my 27 years of selling real estate, I have never seen such a market myself and the pace is breathtaking. Buyers are no longer in the driver’s seat with sellers refusing to negotiate and in many cases, accept conditions. For sellers, the challenge is selling and then being in the same boat as they become buyers with nowhere to buy if they are upsizing, downsizing or changing locations. It becomes a cycle that grows like a swirling eddy.

In my opinion, we have a perfect storm of market conditions:

  • Low interest rates which are both a reason to buy a home and a reason to buy investment property
  • Strong job growth in Ontario to support mortgaging
  • Climbing home equity values which people are tapping into for their next purchases and or to buy secondary properties
  • Not enough construction to satisfy the demand for new housing
  • People moving farther and farther out of the GTA in search of affordable housing
  • Baby boomers cashing in on home equity and/or inheritances to buy recreational vacation homes
  • Millenials being supported with gifts from their boomer parents to buy a first home as panic sets in
  • Recent retirees wanting to make permanent homes in four season lifestyle communities like we have here in South Georgian Bay
  • Foreign investment in Canada running at an all-time high. Macleans magazine recently featured an article on the topic of how Chinese real estate investors are re-shaping the market and, it’s worth a read if you want to better understand this important phenomenon.

So that brings us to the burning question, will it end?  Of course it will. The frenzy will any way and at some point, things will stabilize to a new normal.  I very much doubt we’ll see any bubbles busting or a significant downward trend in pricing as the wealth creation brought on by these sustained market conditions is now embedded into our economy.

What we may see is a movement by the Chinese government to stem the outflow of currency from their country and this could certainly slow down some of the fuel in the market after a period of time.  We could see interest rates climb however, they would have to climb significantly before we see it having an effect on cooling the market. Other than these, it looks like there are no imminent reasons to see a cooling off.  In fact, it may be the opposite.

Right now, we are seeing the Ontario government bring in new targets under the Places to Grow legislation which will further reduce the number of detached homes for sale in many areas of the greenbelt resulting in even greater interest in communities like Collingwood. We see investors trying to buy both recreational and full-time investment properties in our unique community. We are at the tip of seeing foreign investors and new Canadians discover the value of our clean, safe and vibrant four-season area.

I don’t see signs of relief ahead anytime soon and many economists are saying the same thing. As my first real estate boss used to say, the best time to buy real estate was 200 years ago.  The second best time is today. Maybe he was right.

RE/MAX four seasons realty limited, brokerage  ♦  67 First Street Collingwood, ON L9Y 1A2  ♦  705-445-8500