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Posts tagged with: real estate

Doom & Gloom? Nooooo!

September 5, 2013 - Updated: September 5, 2013

Why real estate doomsayers continue to be wrong

By Christina Pellegrini

Still believe Canada's housing market is going to implode? You're not alone, but it hasn't happened yet

Mandy Coz needs a lead. She isn't the first sales rep from a nearby real estate brokerage to cold call my parents' home in the suburbs on behalf of a family that badly wants to become our neighbours. But she's the most recent and she's on the hunt for a new seller. Her clients "lost out" on another property on our street.

Canadians' homes are getting less affordable, but we still keep buying2

Home ownership has become less affordable for the average Canadian, but that hasn't stopped many from jumping into what may already be an overpriced market, suggests a new report from the Royal Bank. Keep reading.3

"This summer has been a bit unusual," says the RE/MAX Premier Inc. sales representative, who's located north of Toronto in Vaughan. When warmer weather hits and people start flocking to family barbecues, restaurant patios and cottage docks instead of open houses and showrooms, listings often languish. Not this year, though. More residential homes in Vaughan have been listed and sold in June and July compared to the same two-month period in 2012, according to data compiled by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The homes have sold for more too, with the median sale price up 6.1% year-over-year, translating into better business for local sales reps such as Coz. "Buyers are out in full swing. We've been busy during the last two months," she says. "The market has been quite steady. It's healthy."

Her cheery descriptors and sunny outlook are a far contrast to the ever-growing list of bearish economists, industry analysts and even journalists who have issued grim warnings about Canada's dangerously bloated household debt levels and the potential ramifications of a real estate bust on consumer spending, jobs and growth. But with forecasts ranging from smooth sailing to a soft landing to a U.S.-style crash, the future is foggy at best. For many, even those inside industry players, it's confusing. "The more you cover the housing market," says Robert McLister, editor of Canadian Mortgage Trends and a mortgage planner at intelliMortgage, "the more you realize it's unpredictable."

Instead of toppling after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tightened mortgage-lending standards last year for the fourth time since 2008, Canada's housing market appears to have stabilized and it continues to flex its resilient muscles as shown in the national housing statistics released monthly by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Existing home sales rose for the fourth consecutive month in June, up 3.3% over the previous month and nearly matching May's gain, which was the highest monthly growth figure since January 2011. Likewise, the average sale price was up 4.8% on a year-over-year basis, with 80% of the surveyed major markets reporting gains.

BMO Capital Markets senior economist Robert Kavcic noted the figures prove the market is both "balanced and well-behaved" and another blow to the naysayers. Similarly, his colleague and BMO's chief economist Douglas Porter called the market "incredibly calm, cool, and collected" in a May release. But Kavcic and Porter haven't always thought this way. When the ratio of new listings to sales was driven to a nine-year high on Apr. 17, 2008, Porter declared the housing boom "officially over." Two months later, a CREA monthly report that showed both prices and volume slipped in May helped Kavcic confirm that the boom had "fizzled." Except it wasn't over then and the boom still hasn't fizzled.

Frequently quoted housing bear Ben Rabidoux, president of North Cove Advisors, contests BMO's optimism. "We are seeing a correction in certain metros," he says, citing Toronto's overbuilt condominium market, Ottawa, Quebec, eastern Canada and B.C. as markets that are cooling down. "If you're looking for leading signs of weakness, it's not hard to find them."

Evidence of the turning tide may be visible, but a decline has yet to happen when and to the extent many alarmists said it would. They might be right eventually - after all, even a broken clock is right twice a day - but they've been wrong every time they said we'd finally reached the top and didn't during the past five years.

Nevertheless, many still wonder whether Canadian housing is strong or weak. Even the Bank of Canada's new governor isn't so sure. "As I read the situation right now, the new data we have from the housing sector are just as consistent with the soft landing as they might be with a rebound," Stephen Poloz said during a July 17 press conference, which can be viewed on the central bank's YouTube video channel4. "It's in that sort of grey zone." Between the polarization of a housing boom or bust is Poloz's "grey zone." Perhaps it's the safest place. Admitting the things we don't know, including assertions and hypotheticals, might be the best place to start. If the chief banker can do it, everyone can.When global forecasting company Capital Economics Ltd. deemed the bubble was "now close to bursting" in June 2011 and called for a 25% drop in prices, the firm set off a ticking time bomb with a three-year clock strapped to it. Capital Economics economist David Madani has been loudly sounding the doomsday horn in the media ever since. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, The Economist, and U.S. hedge fund manager Steve Eisman are some of the more famous names to hit the panic button.

Their main concern: the country's good times have been fuelled by ultra-cheap and widely accessible credit and lacked underlying financial fundamentals. They've pointed to telling statistics such as the run-up in price-to-rent and price-to-income ratios, ballooning ownership rates and persistent overbuilding. A credit crunch, rate hike or a string of unexpectedly negative housing reports, they say, could reverse the relentless upward march in home prices, lay a devastating smackdown on consumer confidence and send the entire economy into free fall.

The media has chimed in too by publishing daily articles centred on real estate, including a Maclean's cover-page story with an arrowed line graph smashing a hole into a suburban home's roof, lower floors of condo towers ravished by flames and sweeping statements that we will all soon be mere rubble. But based on the recent sizzling sales statistics, people haven't been scared out of the market.

Fear, says an industry watcher, has helped deter people from doing stupid things

"I don't think there's going to be blocks of houses on fire," says Vancouver, B.C.-based McLister. "Nothing's really convinced people that a crash is imminent." He cites growing employment and wage stability, near-rock-bottom lending rates and consistent demand from immigrants and first-time buyers as key reasons why the market hasn't wavered. Affordability, which is heavily dependent on low interest rates and lending flexibility, is almost the same or better than 20 years ago, according to the Bank of Canada's Housing Affordability Index. Fear, he says, has helped deter people from "doing stupid things."

But McLister warns that while we may not be facing "catastrophic risk," the market is far from risk-free: A significant rate hike, widespread job losses and mortgage-lending restrictions are game-changers that could all come to pass. The best-case scenario in the eventuality one of them does is that things go sideways for a "very, very long time." But neither he nor other market watchers have a crystal ball to predict long-term movements.

"Anyone that purports to tell people where prices are going to be in two, three, fours years down the road is a fraud," he says. "Housing is stable at this point and there's nothing on the horizon that we can say with certainty is coming that would derail the market." Not even Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.'s latest attempt to limit banks and other mortgage lenders to $350-million worth of new mortgage-backed securities per month. McLister told the Financial Post that CMHC's stricter cap would amount to roughly 20 basis points or 0.2% percentage points on a five-year mortgage and "won't have a real dampening effect on credit."

Tyler Anderson/National Post
 

In any case, trying to time the housing market is difficult. "You can't pinpoint the month when it's going to turn, especially when it's around a sector like housing where policymakers have a lot of ingrained interest in keeping the status quo and where they have a lot of policy levers to pull," Rabidoux says. Based on a balance of probability, he believes it's unlikely the next decade will be as good as the last one. "The risk of a correction is still high," he says. He calculates that a nominal decline in home prices exceeding 10%, or a hard landing, is 75% plausible. "I've never said with 100% certainty that we're going to have a correction," he says, but he has made past predictions that Canada is in store for something between a U.S.-style crash and a soft landing. Of course, "something" can mean many things.

Housing permabear, blogger and former MP Garth Turner thinks "those people that are waiting for a U.S.-style cataclysmic dump are never going to see it." He admits he was unsure in 2008 "because the world was pretty wonky." But Turner sounded awfully sure when he told Ottawa Citizen readers on Mar. 27, 2008, to look closely at the "real estate disaster now in full flower to our south" because "it's coming here." What about all those readers who think he mistimed the market? "Well, too bad," he says, then chuckles. "My job is to look at the data and to point at the obvious so people engage their brains and try to come to their own conclusion."

James McKellar, academic director of the Program in Real Property at York University's Schulich School of Business, predicts smooth waters ahead. His response to an admittedly leading question about a Canadian real estate bubble was met with, "There is no bubble so I don't know how it can burst. Each time I share this view with the media, the story dies. So many journalists embark to prove an assumption that is false." Later during a telephone conversation, he had more to say about journalism's role. "The media has gone out of their way to tell people that the market is going to collapse," McKellar says. "The good news is that the readers aren't listening and people are still buying."

He acknowledges that business has slowed in Toronto, but says we haven't seen a dip in prices because the population is growing and "they have to live somewhere." Other reasons include a growing affection for condo living, no proof of speculation and a "very disciplined market" created by the structure of our banks. McKellar's glass may be half-full but the professor brings up a fair point: "Everyone across the country is assuming that the exuberance of housing markets cannot continue, but there's a difference between house prices beginning to moderate versus the bottom falling out."

It's a statement echoed by BMO's chief economist Porter, who in a recent note wrote "underperformance does not equal catastrophe." BMO isn't the only firm with optimistic economists. In the July "Monthly Housing Market Update," RBC Economics Research senior economist Robert Hogue said June's CREA numbers "should be seen as confirmation that Canada's housing market is not currently headed for a crash landing." Ed Devlin, executive vice-president and head of Canadian portfolio management at PIMCO, said the investment firm isn't positioning "for a prolonged Canadian downturn."

Back in Vaughan where realtor Mandy Coz is still looking for a seller, there are other industry professionals who can't see signs of a slowdown. "I've seen many forecasts pointing in opposite directions," says David Ursino, a sales representative at Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. "I don't read into them too much. I look at what's happening in my community and respond accordingly."

We really expected a huge slowdown . . . and in some pockets of Toronto, you're still seeing multiple offers and bidding wars

In Toronto, the market has been "unusually hot," says Aleksandra Oleksak, a sales representative at Sage Real Estate Ltd. This past July was the third-best July on record for home sales. "We really expected a huge slowdown," Oleksak adds, "and in some pockets of Toronto, you're still seeing multiple offers and bidding wars." It's much of the same in Carbonear, Nfld., says the owner of Dream Realty Ltd., Victoria Harnum, whose annual income is set to exceed what she earned last year mid-way through this year. In Calgary, First Place Realty Ltd. associate Bob Truman can't get to listings fast enough. "If you are taking a buyer out to look at properties, chances are half of them will be sold before you get there to look at them," he says.

Real estate sales aren't sizzling in every neighbourhood, of course. Since the job market stalled on Vancouver Island in 2008, anything listed for more than $400,000 can sit on the market for at least two years, says broker Debbie Simmonds of Fast Forward Real Estate. "The industry has been hit very hard here."

The thing to remember is that economics can explain why something happened, but it can't tell or time the future. People buy and sell homes and they behave in ways models can't predict. Canada's housing market continues to defy the odds because the odds might just be wrong. The problem with bubbles is that we know one existed with certainty only after it pops. But by then, the damage is done.

 

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New Year, New Intentions. What's Your Plan?

January 3, 2012 - Updated: January 3, 2012

Welcome to 2012!!  

Hope your holidays were filled with lots of laughter and some good eating.  Did you get a chance to write some new goals?  We all know that the beginning of the year is a great time to re-evaluate and re-focus on what's important to us individually.  But let's look at this another way.

The new year is usually a time for "resolutions".  Some of the more popular ones?  Losing weight and quitting smoking.  Yet only 46% of people keep their resolutions past the 6 month mark.  So why bother making them in the first place?

Because having goals keeps us in line and focused on what we want out of life.  With no plan, we are likely to get distracted.  But maybe it's the "resolution" that throws us off.  Why not concentrate on what we INTEND to do and write out a step-by-step plan on how to get there?  For example, if you INTEND to lose weight, then plan your meals weekly, drink lots of water, and have a workout plan for the week.

For us, we're prepared to even better our skills at working with you.  

Hope you have some great new intentions for the year.  Cheers!

- Mandy

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Hey Vellore Village!!!

October 5, 2011

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Just Smile!!!

September 21, 2011

If you need a pick-me-up.... just remember to smile!

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Rental Market Update

September 19, 2011

Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 6,933 apartment lease transactions through the TorontoMLS® system in the May through August 2011 period. This represented an 11% increase compared to the same period in 2010. The number of units listed during the period was also up, but by a lesser rate of 4% compared to 2010.

“Condominium apartments represent a very important component of the rental housing stock in the GTA. We have seen very little purpose-built rental apartment construction over the past few years. This means that people looking to rent an apartment with modern finishings and amenities have by and large turned to investor-held condominium apartments to meet their housing needs,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Richard Silver.

Average condominium apartment rents increased for all bedroom types. Average rents for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments during the May through August period were up by 4 and 5% respectively compared to 2010.

“Growth in apartment rental transactions outstripped growth in the number of units listed. This means that competition between prospective renters increased. The result was higher average rents in comparison to last year,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

**Provided By:  Toronto Real Estate Board, September 19th, 2011

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Mid-September Resale Housing Report

September 16, 2011 - Updated: September 16, 2011

Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 3,149 transactions during the first 14 days of September, representing an increase of more than 25 per cent in comparison to the first two weeks of September 2010. New listings over the same period, at 6,890, were up by 14 per cent compared to last year.

“Purchasing and paying for a home over the long term represents the single largest financial commitment most households will make over a lifetime. To make this commitment, households must be confident in their economic prospects,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Richard Silver. “The fact that sales continued to grow through the first half of September suggests that GTA households remain confident that the economy will remain buoyant.”

The average selling price in the first half of September was $454,194 – an increase of 11 per cent compared to the same period in September 2010.

“Strong price growth in the GTA continues to be mitigated by a solid affordability picture. Mortgage rates will remain at or near current levels until the second half of 2012 if not into 2013,” said Jason Mercer, the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

“In response to strong price growth, more households chose to list their homes for sale in comparison to last August. Growth in listings is expected to continue. Increased choice will result in more sustainable rates of price growth,” continued Mercer.

** Provided By:  TREB, September 16th, 2011

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Strong End to the Summer Market

September 12, 2011

Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 7,542 sales through the TorontoMLS® system in August – a 24% increase over 6,083 sales in August 2010. New listings, at 12,509, were up by 20% compared to August 2010. Market conditions remained tight as sales growth outstripped growth in new listings.

"Home sales in the GTA have stood up well despite a less certain economic outlook," said Toronto Real Estate Board President Richard Silver. "Home sales will be bolstered by low mortgage rates moving forward. The Bank of Canada is expected to be on the sidelines until the second half of 2012 or even into 2013. However, home ownership affordability in the City of Toronto could be further improved with the removal of the City’s land transfer tax. This tax currently represents a substantial up front cost for home buyers.”

With market conditions remaining tight in the GTA, the average selling price continued to grow strongly in August – up by more than 10% year-over-year to $451,663.

"We remain on pace for the second best year on record for sales. Approximately 90,000 transactions are expected by the end of December," said TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis Jason Mercer. "Major home ownership costs, including the average monthly mortgage payment, remain affordable."

** Provided By: Toronto Real Estate Board, September 11th, 2011

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Mid August News

August 17, 2011

There were 3,214 sales through the TorontoMLS® system during the first 14 days of August, representing more than a 22.5 per cent increase compared to the same period in August 2010. Year-to-date sales through the 14th of August were all but caught up to last year’s total – down by half a per cent compared to 2010.

“The unsettled situation in financial markets over the past few weeks did not appear to sap the confidence of GTA home buyers during the first half of August,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President Richard Silver. “Revised forecasts for future Bank of Canada interest rate decisions coupled with the recent announcement by the US Federal Reserve, suggest that interest rate hikes in Canada are on hold at least until sometime in 2012. This is a positive for affordability and should help sustain buyer confidence moving forward.”

The average selling price was up by almost seven percent annually during the first 14 days of August to $440,150.

“The rate of price growth reported for the first two weeks of August continued to point to sellers’ market conditions in the GTA,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. “However, it should be noted that new listings grew at a slightly greater pace than sales. A better supplied market in the second half of 2011 will result in prices growing at a more sustainable pace.”

** Provided By:  Toronto Real Estate Board, August 16th, 2011

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Are You Thinking of Renovating Your Home?

July 26, 2011

Living in Toronto and renovating homes seem to go hand in hand. One of the major ways we build equity in our homes is by adding a new bathroom, kitchen or family room. Families grow, space must be maximized, and keeping parents close to work and children in their favourite schools often means, "Honey, It is time to renovate...again!"

Buying a fixer-upper can be a great way to get into a desirable neighbourhood at an affordable cost. It’s important to recognize though, that all renovations involve some inconvenience and a lot of elbow grease. While you’re rolling up your sleeves, it’s wise to maximize your efforts, go green, and remember that what may no longer suit your lifestyle, might be of use to someone else.

Renovating Benefits Others as Well!

A great way to renovate for you while supporting a charitable cause is to consider your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. This building supply store accepts and resells quality new and used building materials. Funds support Habitat's building programs while reducing the amount of used materials that are headed for overflowing landfills. Check ReStores out online at http://www.habitat.ca/en/community/restores/location.

Regardless of the upgrades you undertake, keep in mind that you can reduce the amount of waste you generate by donating or recycling construction materials. Certainly don’t dismiss the old for the new, if there are items to be reused, refurbishing them can add greater character to your home.

If you are looking for some great tubs and sinks you may have to go no further than your current bathrooms and kitchens. Techniques for resurfacing and countertops made of more recent materials like Caesar Stone, recycled glass, concrete, steel, stones, and the myriad of tiles will give you lots of options for upgrading the look without replacing the whole bathroom or kitchen.

Paint and paint techniques can change the look of a kitchen in a few afternoons, save you money and improve your investment: The Appraisal Institute of Canada says that upgrading kitchens and bathrooms is a smart choice, potentially offering a 75 to 100 per cent return. 

Greening your Renovations!

Energy efficient lighting, appliances, faucets, toilets and showerheads are a few of the options for increasing the green factor in these two essential rooms and you can watch your monthly expenses drop.

When it comes to flooring, cork and bamboo are among the greenest options, as they are derived from renewable resources. While bamboo is also an excellent choice for cabinets, wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada is another responsible option.

Visit the Appraisal Institute of Canada’s RENOVA, an interactive web-based guide to the value of home improvements. RENOVA is designed to give consumers a better idea of the return on investment they can expect for a variety of home improvements.

Household drafts will increase your heating bills and make those lovely spacious rooms an expensive proposition in our colder months. Window and door replacement may offer a more limited return of 50 to 75 per cent, but if your existing units are broken or have been installed for fashion rather than performance, this upgrade should take priority.

When purchasing windows, look for low-E argon-filled units with the Energy Star symbol to achieve the highest thermal efficiency. Note: if you wonder how old your thermo pane windows are, most are stamped with the year and month they were made on the metal piece between the panes of glass.

Similarly, replacing an aging roof may only offer a small return but it’s an upgrade that should not be deferred due to the potential for water damage. Fortunately, roof shingles made from a variety of recycled materials are widely available and sometimes the life expectancy of your new roof is worth paying the extra costs. Housing is a long term investment.

Heating systems can offer a 50 to 75 per cent return, while central air conditioning can deliver 25 to 75 per cent on your investment, but given the extreme temperatures of our climate, these are also wise investments, particularly when you choose models with the Energy Star symbol. We replaced our workable 60 percent efficiency furnace with a high efficiency furnace that, with our new windows and doors keeps us toasty all winter.

While decorating choices may be subject to taste, you’ll find that when it’s time to move again, energy efficient, money-saving upgrades have universal appeal. Renovating can be helpful to you, others, and reduce your carbon footprint all at the same time. Enjoy!

Provided By: TREB President Richard Silver

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Saying Hello to Summer!

July 9, 2011

RE/MAX Premier’s 2nd Annual Yard Sale for the Cure was a smashing success, raising over $12,000 for breast cancer research.  Our office was the 3rd highest fundraising office in Ontario.  The rain held off and we had a great turnout, thanks for all of your support!

On another fundraising note—St. John Bosco Catholic School raised over $1800 in support of the Angels From Heaven Foundation with the bake sale.  A big thank you to all the students and teachers that helped to put this event together.

It’s bathing suit season and I am kicking it into high gear—Mom has started up a weekly walking/jogging club in Woodbridge and I am so in!!  Just 15 pounds left to my weight goal and it is being very stubborn, but it’s ok—the idea is to get healthy and I feel much better than I used to! 

I hope you had a great start to the summer, cheers!

 

- Mandy

 

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Keeping It Real

July 9, 2011 - Updated: July 9, 2011

Now that the postal strike is over, we can once again enjoy our snail mail...there’s something more personal and enjoyable about receiving a letter, note, or postcard vs. email or texting, yes?

Right now the real estate market can be confusing and perplexing, some properties selling quickly while others stagnate for months or never sell.  Personally I believe it’s the difference between being in the market or simply just “on the market”.   

The better question to ask would be – what’s the ‘reality market’?  A close look at local market conditions, days on the market within the area, and true property comparables will bring you closer to the market value of your home.   If you are thinking of selling, or know of a friend or family starting the process, we would love the introduction and take excellent care of them.

In August, I will be attending a real estate conference in San Diego and look forward to Mandy joining me this year.   Keeping up with industry knowledge, honing our skills and education is key for me and gives us the opportunity to learn and grow, while providing you with better service.

 

Have a great summer!

 

- Mary

 

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June Mid-Month Housing Report

June 17, 2011

The number of sales and the average selling price reported by Greater Toronto REALTORS® were both up during the first 14 days of June 2011. Sales through the first two weeks of June amounted to 4,787 – up 16 per cent over the same period in 2010. The average selling price for these transactions, at $477,853, was up nine per cent.

“The spring has always been the busiest time in the resale market, but the results for May and the first two weeks of June represented a marked improvement over last year. Low mortgage rates have kept affordability in check and buyers have felt confident in paying for a home over the long term,” said Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) President Bill Johnston.

The number of new listings on the TorontoMLS® between June 1st and June 14th was down by eight per cent compared to 2010.

“Listings have been in short supply this year, while a lot of people have been looking to buy. The result has been enhanced competition between buyers and more upward pressure on price,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. “Strong price growth will prompt more home owners to list as we move toward 2012.”

** Provided by:  Toronto Real Estate Board

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Introducing.... Us. In Video.

June 9, 2011

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Demand for Housing Stays Strong

March 4, 2011

TORONTO, March 3, 2011 - Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 6,266 transactions through the TorontoMLS® system in February 2011. This result was 14 per cent lower than the record sales reported in February 2010.

While not representing a record, February 2011 sales were 50 per cent higher than the number reported in February 2009 during the recession and slightly higher than the average February sales over the previous ten years.

“Continued improvement in the GTA economy, including growth in jobs and incomes and a declining unemployment rate, has kept the demand for ownership housing strong,” said Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) President Bill Johnston.

The average selling price for February 2011 transactions was $454,423, which was more than five per cent higher than the average selling price reported in February 2010.

“Market conditions remain quite tight in the GTA. There is enough competition between home buyers to promote continued price growth,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

** Provided By: TREB

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Curious About the Rental Market in the GTA?

January 25, 2011

From September until the end of 2010, TREB Members reported 4,920 rental transactions for condominium apartments and townhouses, representing a 27 per cent increase from the 3,859 transactions recorded during the same time period in 2009.

 

There were a total of 9,227 apartments and townhouses listed for rent during the reporting period, representing a 22 per cent increase compared to the last four months of 2009.

 

There was substantial growth in condominium apartment completions in 2010, which explains the strong growth in the number listings that were available during the reporting period.

 

Many of the condominium apartments that were completed over the past year were owned by investors. Some of these investors chose to list their units for rent.

 

While the number of units listed for rent increased strongly on the TorontoMLS® system, it is important to note that the number of rental transactions actually increased at a greater rate.

 

The number of households signing lease agreements in the last four months of 2010 more than accounted for the increase in supply.

** Provided By:  Toronto Real Estate Board, January 25th 2011

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New Mortgage Rules - Tougher Lending Practices?

January 17, 2011

The federal Conservative government is expected on Monday to introduce new rules aimed at toughening up mortgage lending.


In February of 2010, Mr. Flaherty moved to toughen up the mortgage rules amid worries that Canada was in the midst of a housing market bubble. The reforms, since introduced, compelled borrowers to meet standards for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage, even if the buyer wanted a shorter-term, variable rate loan; reduced the amount Canadian can borrow against their home, to 90% of the property value from 95%; and require purchasers of rental properties to issue a 20% down payment as opposed to 5%. The moves played a role, observers say, in slowing down real estate activity.


In today’s announcement The key change Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is likely to unveil is a cut in the maximum amortization period, to 30 years from 35 years. Mortgages with amortization periods longer than 30 years will no longer qualify for government-backed mortgage insurance, which is required for buyers with less than a 20% down payment on a home.


Government sources also told the National Post Mr. Flaherty is expected to lower the maximum amount Canadians can borrow against the value of their homes, to 85% from 90%, and remove federal government backing of home equity lines of credit, or so-called HELOCs.


The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, add the minimum down payment, at 5%, will remain as is. Further, there will not unveil any plan to target condominium purchases by requiring monthly condo fees be added to the list of expenses that is measured against income to decide whether a buyer can afford a mortgage.


The Bank of Canada recently warned debt levels are growing faster than income, and the risk posed by consumer indebtedness to the domestic economy would continue to escalate without a “significant change” in how consumers borrow and banks lend.


The new changes, though, reduce even further the amount people can borrow against their homes, to 85%. Also, the changes target HELOCs, which Mr. Flaherty cited as a source of concern in a recent interview. Home-equity lines of credit surged 170% over the past decade, or twice the rate of mortgage growth, and now represent 12% of overall household debt. With the new rules, Ottawa will no longer back the HELOC, as it was doing up until now through mortgage insurance. Instead, sources say, the government will signal that the banks are on the hook for any default linked to a HELOC it issued. 

 

While the federal government looks to curb borrowing, economists say the Bank of Canada may have to follow by raising its key interest rate sooner rather than later. The central bank issues its latest rate statement on Tuesday and it is expected to hold its benchmark rate at its present 1% level as signs indicate the economy may be benefiting from renewed business and consumer confidence in the United States.

** Provided By:  Dominion Lending Centres

Tagged with: mortgage variable rate fixed rate real estate lending canadian economy mary nacarato mandy coz

The Benefits of Signing a Buyer Representation Agreement

January 7, 2011 - Updated: January 7, 2011

Great video from TREB on the benefits of signing a Buyer Representation Agreement!

Tagged with: rights protection obligation contract toronto vaughan real estate salesperson agent buyers buyer representation agreement

The Housing Year in Review

January 7, 2011 - Updated: January 7, 2011

Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 4,395 existing home sales for the month of December, bringing the 2010 total to 86,170 – down by one per cent compared to 2009.

“Market conditions were anything but uniform in 2010. We went from super-charged sales activity during the first four months of the year, to a marked drop-off in transactions in the summer and then in the fall saw sales climb back to levels that are sustainable over the longer term,” said TREB President Bill Johnston.


“New Federal Government-mandated mortgage lending guidelines, higher borrowing costs and misconceptions about the HST caused a pause in home buying in the summer. As it became clear that the HST was not applicable to the sale price of an existing home and buyers realized that home ownership remained affordable, market conditions improved,” continued Johnston.


The average home selling price in 2010 was $431,463 – up nine per cent in comparison to the 2009 average selling price of $395,460. In December, the average annual rate of price growth was five per cent.


“At the outset of 2010, we were experiencing annual rates of price growth at or near 20 per cent. This
was the result of extremely tight market conditions coupled with the fact that we were comparing prices to the trough of the recession at the beginning of 2009,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.


“Balanced market conditions in the second half of 2010 resulted in more moderate home price appreciation,” continued Mercer. “Expect the average selling price to grow at or below five per cent in 2011. With this type of growth, mortgage carrying costs for the average priced home in the GTA will remain affordable for a household earning an average income.”


Home sales in the GTA were spread across a number of different housing types in 2010. Detached homes accounted for 49 per cent of total sales. Condominium apartments accounted for an additional 25 per cent per cent of sales. Other housing types including townhomes and semi-detached houses accounted for the final 26 per cent. In some areas like TREB’s central districts the mix was quite different, with condominium apartments accounting for 61 per cent of total sales.


“Ownership housing is available in a diversity of types and price points across the GTA, allowing plenty of choice for first time buyers and experienced home buyers alike. This housing diversity is one factor that continues to make the GTA a popular choice for households and businesses,” concluded Johnston.

** Provided By: The Toronto Real Estate Board - Jan 6, 2011

Tagged with: market real estate mortgage rates salesperson agent toronto vaughan detached condo affordability hst

Residential Values Expected to Climb in 2011

December 8, 2010

Although improved economic fundamentals will have a positive impact on Canadian housing markets moving forward, the forecast for residential real estate sales remains static in most major centres in 2011, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.  

The RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook 2011, examining trends and developments in 26 major centres across the country, found that home-buying activity in 2010 fell short of 2009 levels. Housing values, however, continued to climb, with virtually all areas reporting an upswing in average price, ranging from just under one per cent to 15 per cent this year. Lower inventory levels in many markets offset the effects of diminished demand, propping-up price in almost every instance. Kitchener-Waterloo, Quebec City, and St. John’s saw the greatest increases in average price this year, while Eastern Canadian markets including Hamilton-Burlington, Sudbury, Windsor, Moncton and Prince Edward Island were the only markets that bucked the downward trending in home sales in 2010.


By year-end, approximately 441,000 homes are expected to change hands nationally, a five per cent decline from the 465,251 sales reported in 2009. Housing values are forecast to continue to climb, up an estimated seven per cent to $340,000, compared with $320,333 one year earlier.


“In terms of resale housing activity, what many are talking about as the new normal is actually a return
to the traditional real estate cycle,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, Regional Director,
RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “The past decade was truly unprecedented—never before have we experienced a run up that was as strong or lasted as long. As we have digressed from the typical
pattern, people have forgotten what the usual healthy cycle looks like, but all the hallmarks are there.
Ample inventory levels, steady demand, and moderate growth, both in terms of sales and prices, will characterize the market in 2011.
While the pace may appear lackluster in comparison to what we’ve grown accustomed to, it underscores the principles of real estate 101: The market is cyclical. All boats rise and fall with the tide.”


Greater stability is expected to characterize the markets in 2011, with Canadian housing sales predicted to mirror 2010 levels at 441,000 next year, while average price is forecast to escalate three per cent to $350,000 by year-end 2011.


“Looking forward, we see steady improvement in provincial and local economies—which will bode well for housing markets across the board,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “The relentless drive in the market reminiscent of years past will be gone and instead, we can expect to see more normal, balanced market conditions, with buyers maintaining a slight edge.”

** Provided By:  RE/MAX Ontario, December 7, 2010

Tagged with: market report remax sales agent real estate agent woodbridge vaughan maple kleinburg condo detached real estate stability

November Resale Housing Market Report

December 3, 2010 - Updated: December 3, 2010

Greater Toronto REALTORS reported 6,510 existing home sales in November – down 13 per cent from 7,446 sales in November 2009. New listings were also down 13 per cent annually to 8,642.


On a month-over-month basis, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales increased for the fourth straight month to 88,100. This rate was substantially higher than the July low of 67,900.

"The GTA resale market has tightened since the summer. Healthy market conditions continued to support growth in the average selling price," said Toronto Real Estate Board President Bill Johnston.


“Sales through the first 11 months of the year were down only marginally compared to the same period in 2009. We remain on track for one of the best years on record under the current TREB market area,” continued Johnston.  

The average selling price for November transactions was $438,030 - up five per cent compared to November 2009.  

"The average selling price in the GTA is affordable. A household earning the average income can comfortably cover the mortgage payments on an average priced home. Expect the average selling price to grow at a moderate pace over the next year," said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

** Provided By: Toronto Real Estate Board, December 3, 2010

Tagged with: affordability market statistics real estate agent thornhill housing market real estate woodbridge vaughan maple kleinburg

Misconceptions About the HST!

December 2, 2010

Concerned that homebuyers are uncertain about the Harmonized Sales Tax’s (HST) applicability on real estate purchases, Greater
Toronto REALTORS® are reaching out to consumers to eliminate misconceptions.
Using social media channels and an ongoing series of newspaper columns, the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) is conveying to consumers that the HST does
not apply to the purchase price of resale homes.
“Although the HST applies to newly constructed homes and professional services associated with real estate transactions, the purchase price of a resale home is
exempt from this tax,” said TREB President Bill Johnston.
Since resale housing was never subject to the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) or the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), it continues to be exempt from the new
HST.
Conversely, newly constructed homes were previously subject to the GST, meaning that the HST now applies. The provincial government however, provides
a rebate of 75 per cent of the PST on the first $400,000 on new homes, to a maximum of $24,000.
“When considering the purchase of any type of home, it is important to budget for additional costs, like the Land Transfer Tax and property taxes. Fortunately
though, the purchase price of a resale home is one area of relief for taxpayers and recognizing that a home is many people’s single largest investment, this
exemption is an important consideration.”

** Toronto Real Estate Board, October 5, 2010

Tagged with: harmonized sales tax hst tax public realtors real estate agent help new homes resale homes real estate

10 Ways to Keep Energy Costs Low this Winter

December 2, 2010

Warm air can leak out of a home from places small, such as electrical outlets, and large, such as picture windows. But there are steps you can take to close those gaps, beyond taping plastic to the windows (although that old standby certainly helps).  And keep in mind: Your utility bill isn’t the only reason to tighten up your home.

“When people are thinking of making these improvements, saving money is a huge issue,” said Andrew Frowine, owner of the energy-auditing firm SaveGreenUSA in Peebles, Ohio. “But it’s not the only one.  For many people, the compelling thing is to make the home comfortable.”

Here are 10 ways to help keep the cold air out and the warm air in this winter:

1. Seal or weatherstrip doors and windows ($5 to $40)

There’s a reason this is the fall-back winterizing technique: Bad windows and door seams can pull warm air out of your home like a vacuum. Several manufacturers offer caulk or foam weatherstrips for doors and windows.

2. Insulate pipes ($2 to $5)

Heat can leak out of hot-water pipes just as it can leak out of drafty homes. Reduce water-heating bills by wrapping hot-water pipes in foam pipe wrap.

3. Insulate outlet covers ($1 or less per outlet)

Outlets and switch boxes on exterior walls aren’t huge sources of heat loss from a home, but they are easily overlooked and easily remedied. Most hardware stores offer inexpensive foam insulating plates that slip discreetly under the existing plate to reduce the loss.

4. Replace the furnace filter ($8 to $12)

A clean furnace filter might not make your home warmer, but a dirty one will make your furnace work harder, jacking up your utility bill. (The price is for conventional filters; electrostatic filters, which can last years, cost more.)

5. Block the chimney effect ($50 to $2,000)

Even with the flue closed, a chimney can continue to suck air out of the house. There are two quick ways to seal the leak: Properly installed glass doors — ideally, with airtight doors — can stop much of the loss, although they can be expensive. A far cheaper alternative is a chimney balloon or plug, which inflates to block the air loss — although it must be removed when the fireplace is in use.

6. Install a programmable thermostat ($25 to $100)

No need to leave the heat blasting when you’re gone all day or sleeping all night. A programmable thermostat allows you to control the temperature and save money (the EPA estimates $180 a year) without feeling the chill.

7. Install thermal window coverings ($10 to $500)

Thermal-backed drapes or quilted drapes might not be the most stylish feature of your room, but they don’t have to look hideous, either — and they can dramatically reduce the amount of heat lost through your windows.

8. Install a ceiling fan ($100 to $300)

A ceiling fan can help warm, as well as cool, a room, which can be especially valuable if the home has high ceilings, where heat gathers. Most ceiling fans have switches that reverse the direction of the blades, so the fan can gently pull cool air up and push warm air down. Look for Energy Star-rated fans, which will use less juice.

9. Add attic insulation ($50 to $100)

Experts recommend at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) of insulation, so if you can see your ceiling joists, you don’t have enough. Blown insulation is best over existing insulation but requires a blower. (Some retailers will provide a blower free if enough insulation is purchased.)

10. Wear a sweater (Free)

This standby requires no professional installation, is portable and fits like a glove. Best of all, it can already be found in your closet.

Sources: SaveGreenUSA; Conservation Services Group; Lowe’s; Family Handyman; Energy Star Program

 

Tagged with: energy money savings real estate hydro heat help

Ring in a Fabulous 2011!!!

December 2, 2010

I think it’s finally here... winter that is.  Must break down now and switch all of my shoes and clothes, storing the summer capri’s and sandals.  I think I’ve been resisting pulling out the winter woolies.

I’m on the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, and still mesmerized with the story—highly recommend the books.  Did you know - Quidditch, which is the game played on broomsticks in the Harry Potter series, has been played by muggles internationally and the 4th annual Quidditch World Cup was just held in New York a few weeks ago?  Fascinating...

We’re going into the home stretch nearing the holidays, which seemed so far away and now oh so close!  Let it all begin: gift shopping, enjoying egg nog, baking, cooking, wrapping, visiting friends and family, enjoying egg nog, attending festive parties, watching favorite holiday   movies, listing to Christmas music, enjoying egg nog, stocking up on Yule logs, decorating, putting up and trimming the tree...by the way, did I mention egg nog?

In the housing market, the outlook for mortgage rates over the next year remains favorable.  Prime rate at time of printing is 3.00% with variable rate mortgages as low as Prime -  0.70%.  Speak to us about getting pre-approved to hold your rate if you are thinking of moving or know a buyer purchasing in the new year.

It’s only 5 weeks to 2011~ have you made any resolutions yet?  For myself, top of the list is to continue down the path of a healthier lifestyle which I’ve tried to maintain all year but only seriously kicked in around August (down 25lbs and counting!).  Whatever your focus is, make it important and make it a priority.

Stay tuned for our February 2011 newsletter and details of our upcoming contest.  In the meantime, have a great holiday season, ring in a fabulous New Year and stay safe!

 

 

Tagged with: real estate mortgage rates prime rate variable mortgage new year harry potter quidditch update

Housing Bubble? Housing Balance!

August 31, 2010 - Updated: August 31, 2010

Despite some negative media reports, we find the housing market to be quite balanced. More homes expected to come on the market in the next 2 weeks for the fall season, and mortgage rates are still historically low. At time of posting by our mortgage broker extraordinaire ( Vince Tarantino, Dominion Lending), prime rate is 2.75% with variable rate mortgages from as low as prime - .65%. Cheers to a busy fall market!

Tagged with: market bubble news real estate market update mortgage rates mortgage broker

Contact Me

Mary Nacarato & Mandy Coz Sales Representatives
RE/MAX Premier Inc., Brokerage Independently owned and operated
9100 Jane Street
Vaughan, ON   L4K 0A4

Phone: 416-987-8000Mobile: 416-451-0177Fax: 416-987-8001
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