Friday, December 29, 2017

Buyers Were Asking: House Hunting Tips

House Hunting Tips
Many people find looking for a house to be an overwhelming experience, but it really shouldn't be.  Just keep these few house hunting tips in mind... 

First of all, make lists. Think about things like how far you are willing to commute and what kinds of services you need to be near. Zero in on what you must have in a home, what you would like to have, what you definitely don't want and what you would prefer not to have. 

If you are already a homeowner, start by compiling lists about what you like and dislike about your current home. Let your Realtor see these lists. It will save time by helping your Realtor narrow down the list of homes to show you based on your criteria. 

Lists will also help you find the right home without falling in love with the one that doesn't suit your needs. Make copies and take the lists with you. Your Realtor will no doubt show you multiple homes and using your checklists and making notes about each home will help you avoid becoming confused. On the days you go house hunting, wear comfy clothes and sturdy shoes, preferably slip-ons.  You'll be taking your shoes off and on several times and slip-ons will make your life a lot easier.

Friday, December 15, 2017

You Were Asking: Co-Housing


Co-housing or co-living has been around for years, but, the concept is emerging in our neighbourhoods more prevalently in response to our long wait lists for retirement residences. Originating in Denmark in the 60’s, the premise is a shared home, shared workload within that home and shared skill set.  

Take a traditional family home and turn it into a co-housing dwelling is certainly attractive to like-minded seniors who love living in their own residence but don’t want the upkeep and general overhead that the large family home carries. The benefits of this type of living are numerous.  The sharing and caring concept is turned into an economically beneficial solution to those considering a downsize.  

The shared kitchen helps in a more balanced and healthy eating plan for those who normally would have, say, a bowl of cereal or soup for dinner.  The social isolation many seniors start to experience as winter sets in, is one of the most dramatic benefits.  A family room becomes a shared space for everyone in the home to relax and socialize.  It’s been estimated that co-housing not only removes the burden off the system, it allows seniors 8-10 additional years living on their own. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

November Statistics and a look back to last year..

If you watch trend most sources are projecting a steady and balanced market through the Spring rather than a return to what was brewing this same time last year. The truth is in the numbers as we watch the Fall market near it’s completion November brought us some tell tale signs that speak to that balanced market.

First up, in Burlington we saw a rise in not only the number of listings on the market and a 12% increase in the average sale price over last month. The trend of homes remaining on the market for 30+ days seems to continue through this fall market with an average of 34 days across the City. Although we don’t have the statistics to show the number or extent of price reductions you may have noted, we can calculate the average sale to price ratio for both original list price and for price at time of sale… 98.1% average for list price at time of sale but 96.9% price ratio as compared to the original list price. This should give you an indication there is still a bit of price confusion from Sellers and Buyers are continuing to be selective of how and where they spend their dollars.

In Hamilton, a similar story is playing out. An increase in new listings from 311 in October to 642 in November maintain a steady Hamilton housing market with 435 sales in the last month and a 2% average price increase from October. Again, longer days on market (at 35 on average) point to a balanced market ahead as this same time last year saw early signs of what was to come with 22 days on the market on average in November 2016.  Sales data will show the price to list ratio at 97.8% and original list price at 96.5%.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

You Were Asking: TREB Loses Competition Tribunal Appeal

TREB Loses Competition Tribunal Appeal
Just this month the Toronto Real Estate Board lost its appeal against the Competition Board with regards to the advertising of sales information on its virtual web site  One of our primary focuses as realtors is the dissecting of information we provide to our clients and as such, it really is important to focus on the power of information and the educational benefits on ‘reading’ a market and its data.  

TREB does focus on the protection of consumer information, which, while is important, the Competition Bureau’s argument is based on allowing consumers the freedom of gaining their own information and analysing it to make an informed decision when buying and selling in a current market.  Sounds pretty fair, I’d say.  

We, as realtors, provide the information when counselling our clients.  A general consumer seeking out information on their own does that now anyhow.  From the realtor’s perspective, it is in the educational framework where that information gets misconstrued.  Case in point this past market.  We had many consumers attempting to ‘read’ the market trend, which is very difficult to do.  

When you are in the trenches, you have a certain read on your own industry.  That is why you are trained to do what you do and remunerated.  A mechanic is relied upon for not only his/her training, but, also the years of work experience.  This is not to say the public should not have access to the information, I believe, they should, but, having had many consumers try to tell us what the market is doing over the years, I beg to differ that simply by having the information, the average consumer will know exactly what it means in terms of reading the current market and making a planned purchase.  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

October Market Statistics

October came and went in a flash... who can believe it's already November?! An interesting month in both regions with a few surprising statistics to reflect upon.  Let's start in Burlington where October brought us a small decrease in the average sale price. This may or may not surprise some of you watching the market with more reductions and lowering sale ratios (which are back to a very normal 98%). The interesting statistic this month seems to be the amount of properties listed and sold... comparatively to September we've seen the numbers drop from 465 listed to just 164 in those 31 days. With 102 sales, down from 169 previously, we can note a significant change from the same time last year where we saw 274 sales in the same timeframe.  What can we take from this? Putting into perspective what the previous Fall Market lead into (a more than nutty Spring Market) I think it's safe to say we have come to our senses and Buyers and Sellers are becoming more savvy, informed and cautious.


Now taking a look to Hamilton, there's been a positive upswing in the average sale price and Seller's are likely happy to note the average days on the market has decreased to a reasonable 26 day average.  A similar story unfolded across the region with a significant decrease in the properties listed with 401 less listings than September brought.  Again, it begs the question, are we setting up for another problem with supply and demand? The numbers seem to be saying a different story with fewer sales.. only 189 sales in the last month, again, down from 339 in September and 509 from the same time in 2016. Recent legislation surrounding lending rules and focus on Real Estate Regulation have all been fallout from Spring which have clearly contributed to the changing real estate landscape.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

You Were Asking: But, I have been approved!

'But, I have been approved'!!

Well, unless you have been under a rock, you are well aware of our recent spring market and all the Wild West bidding wars that went on.  Now the true test.  Are all those sales closing?  Nope.  Why?  ‘But, I have been approved!!’ we are hearing buyers scream.  

Yes, YOU HAVE, but, the house you bid way over on HAS NOT.   So, now, 60 days after you ‘won’, you’re now looking at losing.  Throughout the market we heard, ‘I won!’ over and over again, but, really?  What did you win?  Honestly, we told our buyers to wait it out.  If you sold and bought in that market, well, it tends to have been a wash as long as you were dealing with the same location.  Selling high and buying low meant you had to sell in one of those key bidding war locales and buying in a lesser demand area.  But, that also means knowing both markets.  Knowing that you are bidding well over what the traditional home value is in its given CONDITION AND LOCATION are the factors that cannot be overlooked.  

‘Be responsible’ we, as realtors,  shouted.  ‘Be aware’.  Can you make up the difference of the bank’s appraisal value and what you paid if your bank assesses the home and it doesn’t hold up to what you paid?  Many, many buyers dropped their financing conditions on the basis that they were approved for a certain amount of money.  However, were you warned that the house may not appraise at that value?  Beating a dead horse here, yeah, I get it but if you knew just how many times we tried to ensure a buyer understood.  

Now, guess what is happening?  House does not appraise = financing is NOT approved = buyer defaults on close = seller must relist home = buyer gets sued = undue stress on EVERYONE.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Make it a No-Spend Weekend!

Whether you’re saving to buy your first home or, dreaming of tackling a major home improvement we know it can sometimes be hard to scrounge up the funds.  Here’s some fun ideas for a no-spend weekend…  save a little extra to go towards your savings goals!

Friday, October 13, 2017

We've Rounded Up The Best Places To Pick The Perfect Pumpkin!

Still searching for the perfect pumpkin?  Explore where you live and make memories all at the same time, in some of the areas best places to pick your fall pumpkin.  

Maybe you're looking to stay close to home or a scenic country drive adds to the excitement of the day. Drink hot apple ciders, partake in some locally baked goods and even take the time to enjoy the beautiful changes of the escarpment this time of year.  

Whatever your reason, make sure to check out some of these (not-so) hidden gems this season.

Chudleigh’s Farm
9528 Regional Road 25
Milton, ON

Springridge Farm
7256 Bell School Line
Milton, ON

Stonehaven Farm Market
7388 Guelph Line
Milton, ON

Hutchinson Farm
6202 Walkers Line 
Burlington, ON 

573 Parkside Drive
Waterdown, ON

The Apple Orchard
1668 Highway 6
Waterdown, ON 

Hanes Corn Maze
1001 ON-5 
Dundas, ON

Dyment’s Pumpkin Patch
416 Fallsview Rd E
Dundas, ON

Puddicombe Farms
1468 Hamilton Regional Rd 8
Stoney Creek, ON

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Buyers Were Asking: Condominium vs. Freehold Ownership

We always get so many questions about condominium vs. freehold so, we thought we’d take the time to clear up this often misunderstood area of real estate. A common misconception about condominiums or “condos” is that they’re only apartments. That’s actually not the case at all, many townhouse and semi detached developments, even fully detached homes, can be condominium or freehold.

The difference between the two really lies in ownership. In purchasing a freehold home you legally retain ownership of of the home itself as well as the land that it sits on.  You in turn are free to maintain the property as you wish.  In condominium ownership you own the interior of the home with all remaining portions such as the land, exterior and any shared areas which all become common elements owned by the condominium corporation.  As an owner you are required to pay a monthly fee (proportionate to your ownership) which most refer to as a condo fee.  These fees are determined by the condominium corporation and made payable and managed by a property management company. These fees are put towards maintenance costs, insurance, reserve funds and more depending on the type of condominium.You may have also heard of a freehold townhouse or housing complex with a condominium road or a road maintenance fee. In this case, you retain all the benefits of a freehold ownership while paying a smaller fee for maintenance of common roadways (light standards, snow removal, parking, maintenance, etc.)

What’s the benefit of choosing one over the other? While both have their pro’s and con’s it’s really a matter of what works best for you and your lifestyle. While a condominium can offer lower maintenance, consistency in appearance and appeal to a turn-key lifestyle some feel limited by condominium rules and regulations, fears of mismanagement or simply do not like the idea of added monthly costs.  Freehold ownership does offer much more freedom and control for those able to budget for larger household expenses such as a new roof.

More burning questions on this topic? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sellers Were Asking: Renovations, Permits, Closing Day

Renovations, Permits, Closing Day

Every once in a while we come across an outstanding permit issue prior to a house closing.  Not often, but, it happens.  Why?  Very simple, actually.  Either you or the contractor you hired did not ensure the City came in and did the final inspection.  I am guessing it happens a lot more than most people realize so figured it might be a good newsletter worthy reminder to just get all your ducks in order before listing your home as if all final permits have not been issued prior to your attempt at closing, you will run into a delay.   So, your next question is ‘how am I to know?’?  My contractor handled it all.  Did he?  Sometimes, preparing for a closing on a home, we are met with a comedy of errors.  Your realtor is typically the very last person to find out as by the time you approach the date set out in your Agreement for Closing, the lawyers have taken over the next stage of the process so, we pretty much are at the sidelines and at the mercy of what information is shared .  It is what is not that becomes the barrier to close.  Inasmuch as we want to help, on day of closing, it often is too late.  And, with most people choosing a Friday to close, you are leaving it to chance all the parties to your transaction will be available to assist in a last minute glitch.  Check with the City and ask the question.  Does my home have any outstanding permits to be issued prior to me selling?  If there are, deal with them as soon as possible.  Although there is a date for the buyers’ lawyer to verify all is ok, sometimes, things fall between the cracks.  And, it is that ‘sometimes’ you do not want to encounter as it can mean the delay in completing your transaction and every other transaction in your string if every buyer and seller in the line is awaiting for their monies to close subsequent home purchases.  If your deal is hung up on a permit requirement, the costs can mount for everyone.  Moving trucks are now sitting idling on the street at hourly rates and you cannot be issued keys for your new home until your money from your existing home arrives from the bank.  Just an unfortunate additional unexpected cost no one needs to bear.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Market Update: Market Conditions & Winter Forecast

Market Conditions & Winter Forecast

What goes up, must certainly come down.  This market has been a hard one to navigate.  Frenzied bidding wars where buyers dropped all conditions, went in strong and firm and now are going through the struggles to close their deals due to a myriad of reasons.  Some, simply cannot sell their homes.  Others, having acted on impulse, dropped their financing conditions only to find out that the banks will not finance the purchase.  

The market ‘shift’ as it is now known, happened just before Easter weekend.  Those who recognized it, pulled back and waited.  Many of those were buyers simply worn out from being battered around at bidding wars in a never ending game of pushing pricing beyond any comprehension.  Sellers still in the throws of preparing their homes waited and felt there was no need to heed warnings of realtors saying that the ‘shift’ had already occurred.  

Those buyers turned sellers got caught in the ‘shift’.  Having purchased in a bidding war, the expectation was to also sell high.  Now, the fall out and it’s anything but pretty.  Emotions and tempers run high.  Our advice to buyers was to simply wait.  Our advice to sellers was to stay the course, but, to relax the expectation of an exorbitant price.  

Now, with increases in rates, buyer uncertainty, sellers demanding multiple offers, it really is a hard market to navigate....for everyone.  Educate yourself.  Establish realistic goals. 

...and...if we can help, we're more then happy to meet!  Contact Us!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

September has come and gone... in a flash!

Let's take a look back at the market statistics now that we've rounded the corner into October.

In Burlington, we've seen a return to some activity... after a bit of a lull we're seeing signs of multiple bids in some areas. A reasonable increase in the average sale price should be expected given we are in the midst of the Fall Market... one final push before snow is upon us. Average days and price ratios remain stable which is a good sign.

Hamilton, although overall has seen a dip in pricing it can't be said for all neighbourhoods. With West End activity and some Mountain neighbourhoods are seeing sales reaching beyond their ticketed price. Another push for listings has erupted with over 200 more new listings over last month. As long as the sunshine stays we should see a steady market through until November.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sellers Were Asking: Home Staging

Staging your home can take on very different meanings.  To many, it means spending a whack of money not knowing if there really is a return on your money or not.  We’ve been ‘staging’ homes long before this became the thing to do.  Why?  Because staging really isn’t about presenting your home as a ‘no one actually lives here’ home.  It is more about introducing your home’s best assets.  

Think about why you bought it in the first place.  Was it the oversized kitchen where your kids grew up helping with the baking?  Was it the great, private back yard that was fully fenced so your fur baby could not escape?  Or was it the master with its own private bathroom so all of you no longer had to take turns in the hectic morning rush?  

Go back to those days and now, take a good look at those spaces.  
  • Are those long stretches of counter tops clear?  If they’re cluttered, time to ‘stage’.  De-clutter them! 
  • Now walk out to the back yard.  How’s that fence looking?  Is it leaning?  A few boards missing?  Let’s head to the hardware store for some supplies so we can get this area looking a whole lot better than it does right now.  
  • Now onto the master suite.  What’s happened to the pristine shower stall you bought?  Grout need attending to?  Let’s face it, we all tend to get complacent over time.  
Clutter creeps into the corners of our homes and nests for far too long.  And then, we kind of don’t see it any longer.  But, boy, when you start de-cluttering, your home and its rooms take on a very different look very quickly.  So many of our sellers tell us they are wondering why they are considering making a move as now they have so much more space!  

We all collect too much stuff.  Staging does not have to cost a ton of money.  It does when you have done absolutely nothing to your home and it needs a lot of work.  That means, a lot of repair work, painting, major cleaning and clearing out.  

For most of us, you can stage with what you have.  You can roll up your sleeves and make your home look so much better just by paring things down.  Stagers are amazing at providing lists that will keep you on track, but, to save money, you need to be prepared to do the work.  Trust us, you will not regret it!

If we can help... give us a call! 

Friday, September 15, 2017

6 Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Dare I say it? Ok, Winter is coming. Before the snow starts to fall... let's take some time this Fall to prepare your home. Keeping on top of simple home maintenance can keep homes efficient and save you from potential headaches down the road from neglect. What are your best Winter prep tips for Fall?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

August Statistics

According to publications from the REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) last month saw 1,748 new listings processed, up 5.4% from the same time last year and 4.2% higher than the 10-year average. We are noticing an upward trend of homes staying on the market longer and a decrease in list to sale price ratio.

In Burlington, we saw a minimal decrease (less than .5%) in the average sale price, but looking back to August of 2016 the average is higher by 3.1%. Although the numbers are still looking up, the amount of deals are actually decreasing with a 13.4% decrease in sales volume compared to August of last year. Comparing with the stats over the last few months (May to August) we have seen a significant decline in the amount of properties listed on Multiple Listing Service®.

Hamilton is showing signs of a market increase with the average sales price rising 4.5% since July of this year.  Looking back to August of last year, a whopping 12% increase of the average sales price will have some Hamilton residents smiling!

What will September bring? As the Fall market is now upon us, usually we see Buyers and Sellers returning to the hunt now that kids are back to school and summer vacations have ended. Will we see a rise in pricing again or, will the increase of inventory continue to stave off competitive bidding across Halton region?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

JULY Market Statistics

Last month's statistics are here and the data falls in line with the overall trend as of late. The market has not disappeared, but, more normalized with overall average sales price decreasing and days on the market increasing. We have also noted a decline in the number of properties listed over the last 31 days... not unusual given the time of year.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sellers Were Asking: Why Isn't My House Selling?

Why Isn't My House Selling?

You’ve made the decision to sell; you’ve hired a Realtor, decided on a list price, the paperwork is complete and the sign is on the lawn… but the offer doesn’t come! Recent market changes have left many Sellers scratching their heads and asking “Why isn’t my house selling?” Here are our top reasons why a home doesn’t sell:
Your Photos
Taking photos with a smart phone or even having your Realtor take some snaps may sound like a great way to show off your home in a pinch but, are you really doing it justice?  Having a professional real estate photographer capture every square inch of your home in high quality will ultimately set you apart from the DIY’ers. After all… a picture’s worth a thousand words!

Typically the first reason homes do not sell is due to their price. Market value is a delicate balance of  what a Seller is willing to sell for and a Buyer willing to pay. It’s important to price yourself based on market trend and not just the last neighbourhood sale. If Buyers are complaining of too many renovations required or are not showing true interest, chances are price is your ‘silent complaint’.

Your Realtor
Finding the right Realtor means discussing their knowledge of market and neighbourhood trend, a detailed marketing plan as well as pricing strategy for your home.  Commission dollars should not be the only deciding factor. This is your largest asset… hiring just anybody will only get you average results.

Are you putting your best foot forward? We’re not talking major renovations but, ensuring a clean and tidy house is key… a Buyer should never utter the words “What’s that smell?” Fixing those nagging repairs, touching up paint and freshening up decor will go a long way in both photos and in showings. Having a professional view your home gives you an outsider’s perspective on things.

We know it’s not easy cleaning yourself out of the house everyday but, it’s important not to restrict access to your home for showings. Allowing for showings, within reasonable hours, will always improve your chances. You simply can’t sell a house you can’t show!

Bad Timing

Sometimes, there just is no rhyme or reason to why a home won’t sell. Real Estate is like the tide… it ebbs and flows. If you’ve considered all other factors, then it really is just a matter of time before the next wave comes rolling in.

Selling real estate - it's a lot!  It takes everyone's efforts, combined, to get the job done.  If you want to see more on the process of selling, check out the section for Sellers, on our Website!