Smoking cannabis at home compromises market value and marketability of real estate

how does cannabis smoke affect home sellers?

As Canada starts a brave new world with the legalization of cannabis, we have to remind all property owners about the dangers of residual smoke and its impact on market value.  Here are a few things to think about:

Most buyers aren’t smokers: Only about 20% of adult Canadians smoke tobacco and non-smokers are very sensitive to residual smoking odours and shun properties that exhibit a long term smoking habit.  We have had buyers enter properties for showings or open houses, who immediately turned around and left the property after smelling cigarette smoke.  These non-smokers will be equally not interested in a property with a heavy cannabis smoke residue.

Ambient odour often unknown to owners: As with many other household odours, the degree of smoke smell may be under appreciated or even unknown to those who live there every day, as one gets accustomed to it.

This is why buyers entering a property for the first time should “listen to their nose” upon first entering a property, as this is the best time to detect potentially out of bounds smells.  A damp basement is usually a giveaway from the first moment of entering, for example.  After a few minutes, however, our perception adjusts and the odour is not as prevalent at a cognitive level.

Hard to remove: Long term smoking in a property is not easily or inexpensively remedied and buyers will either walk away completely or very much de-value a potential property, to facilitate the remediation.

Growing personal marijuana: 4 plants per household should not create a major mould worry but will people stop with 4 plants? The “grow op” stigma created over the last few decades will be a tough one to shake and even if legal, we suggest those selling remove any and all plants and materials from their property prior to listing.  Why turn off even one buyer?

Don’t think it is OK to smoke in the garage: Many wisely smoke outdoors but just as many feel that smoking in the garage is OK.  Doesn’t help much with most buyers in our opinion, so smoke outdoors or better yet, not at all.  This applies equally to tobacco and cannabis.

Stigma remains: Hopefully, your neighbours are not big smokers, either-as this may scare away many buyers also.  Though this may fade as legalization moves forward, the stigma attached to cannabis smoke odour will impact sellers and buyers for some time.

Renters and medical marijuana users: These are two legal battlegrounds we can expect to see unfold in the coming months/years with legalization.  This will be an interesting challenge for both investor owners and corporate rental building owners and managers.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com
Ottawa, Ontario.

 

 

Is Ottawa real estate really as “hot” as everyone thinks it is?

Ottawa real estate has posted solid results over the last 2 years but is it really as “hot” a market as is often portrayed?

Both buyers and sellers should beware of headlines, myths, legends and Realtor marketing which can tend to obscure reality and create unrealistic expectations.

Let’s start with some facts, based on 3rd quarter 2018 results and see how this jibes (or not) with some market perceptions:

Unit sales year to date:
Residential sales are very flat this year with units sold up only* .3% in the first 9 months of the year.  Condo sales meanwhile (though a much smaller #) are up strongly at 15.1%
*There is a school of thought that says the low residential unit sales increase is due to listing inventory limitations and there is some truth in this.

Prices:
The average price of a residential property sold in Ottawa this year is up nicely by 5.2% to $447,427.  The average condo price is up only 2.3% to $278,401.

Good solid numbers but not exactly runaway sellers’ market results, right?  So why is it that if asked, many people would say we are in a “crazy” strong market and everything is selling quickly, with multiple offers and over list price sales?

Headlines and social media:
Clickbait headlines and search word worthy social media posts and videos tend to be as dramatic as possible, so quite often outlier examples ie one house in Barrhaven sold with “xx offers submitted and sold for xx,xxx over listing” tend to over influence the market reality.

Also, quite often, short term results, such as a single month sales report are taken to represent the overall trend which may or may be correct.  Sales or prices for a single month (or even 2) touting a runaway market may not be consistent with longer term results (4 to 6 months or more) and therefore skew buyer and seller thinking.

Realtor Marketing:
Realtor marketing is pervasive and hypes their individual results, focusing on the how many they sell and how quickly and for list price or better.  Again, giving the impression that everything sells in a just a few days on the market (or even before being on the market!) and creating an impression that this is the market norm.  We submit that the overall sales stats refute the common perceptions created by these Realtor marketing posts.  One high level Realtor marketer quoted earlier in the year that more than 50% of their listings were selling in multiple offers &/or over list price.  While this may have been true for a short period, there is no way this is true over the year to date results.  Unfortunately, such marketing claims can mislead consumers. * during that approximate period the Ottawa Board did quote a figure of 20% of properties selling at list price or above for that specific month.  Unfortunately, there does not appear to be an easy way to track this statistic, which is totally bizarre in 2018.

Listing inventory continues to be low:
Listing inventory continues to run much lower than over the last 5 years (currently residential inventory is 16.8% lower than a year ago and condo inventory is 28.2% lower)  These numbers certainly reflect a relatively thin level of supply but if it was truly drastic…wouldn’t the average selling price increases be much higher under typical supply and demand rules?

Builders recording huge sales increases over last 2 years: Part of the growth in the recent market has been a huge uplift in builder and developer sales of new construction housing and condos and only a small portion of these are sold via MLS listings, so this growth is not included in our market statistics.  Most of these new construction buyers also have a property to sell and these properties do eventually get to the public market via an MLS listing, so those pending listings arrive in the resale market 90 to 150 days before the new construction property is due for possession.

Grey market for listings:
There has been a long growing trend towards pre-announcement of listings by Realtors both as a marketing tool and an attempt to get a property sold sooner.  Everyone has seen the “Coming Soon” or “Exclusive Listing” sign toppers in their neighbourhood and these are examples of what we call the “grey market”.  Though an advance notice market may seem like a good idea, we think it takes away from the impetus and proper MLS launch of a listing but if it makes sense to that seller, then of course that is up to them.

Unfortunately, any sales recorded by these “grey market” listings are not captured by MLS and therefore not included in our Ottawa Board statistics, which may distort the overall sales picture. (in fact, it may understate results and average prices)

Summary:
Overall, our market is healthy and lower listing inventory still favours sellers-so this fall and winter should be among the best in many, many years.  One of the tenets of Ottawa real estate is that it is steady and stable without the large peaks and valleys, experienced in some other markets and we are better off for it.

We are in a relatively strong market but not a runaway seller’s market and we would be happy to provide detailed research for buyers and sellers appropriate to their individual situation.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 or mobile 613-371-9691

oasisrealty@rogers.com

oasisrealtyottawa.com

One of the highest ranked and “liked” real estate pages on facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oasis-Realty-Brokerage-Ottawa/209265863918 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to Ottawa? Some things to know about real estate

Average house prices a relative bargain:
Those moving from the GTA or Vancouver will view overall Ottawa average prices (average residential selling price approx. $447,000) as a real bargain and that would be correct.  Averages are just averages though and price ranges vary considerably across the city and the Ottawa real estate board reporting area. Urban residential price averages in 2018 are in the $600-$900K ranges and topped $1.5 million in Rockcliffe Village.  Prices have been increasing fairly strongly in the last couple of years, and limited listing inventory is a factor.

Geography:
Ottawa is quite spread out east to west along the Ottawa river some 45 km (Carp Rd to Trim) and about half that distance north-south. Dominant features include the Ottawa and Rideau River systems, the Rideau Canal and the “Greenbelt”, all of which have factored in Ottawa’s development. North of the Ottawa river is western Quebec, the Gatineau hills and the city of Gatineau. Realtors must be separately licenced/registered to practice in Quebec, so very few, if any, can provide services on both sides of the Ottawa River.  Average prices are about $100,000 less on the Quebec side, so buyers should determine which province is of most interest from the beginning of their search.

Big difference between urban and suburban living:
Much of Ottawa’s residential growth over the last couple of decades has been at the fringes in the east (Orleans), west (Kanata and Stittsville) and south. (southwest in Barrhaven and southeast in Findlay Creek and Riverside South)  Home prices have increased most in urban areas and this has fostered many condo developments and infill housing development in the highest urban demand areas.  We currently have several of the largest mixed residential urban neighbourhood projects in Ottawa history underway or planned.  These include: Wateridge, LeBreton, Greystone and Zibi plus numerous large (and tall!) condo projects.

High demand urban areas:
Westboro/Wellington West and Carling/Woodroffe area , Hintonburg/Mechanicsville, Civic Hospital, Glebe, Old Ottawa South, Ottawa East, Manor Park, New Edinburgh, Sandy Hill

Students, Students, everywhere!
Ottawa is a big education centre with over 80,000 full time post-secondary students (140,000+ counting part time) at University of Ottawa, Carleton, Algonquin, Cite Collegiale and St. Paul’s.  This demographic has an impact on housing, entertainment, dining and the work force.

Transit oriented:
Ottawa has always been a transit oriented city with commuter ridership % among the highest in North America.  The OC Transpo system has been built on a mix of dedicated transitways (bus only roads) and express bus lanes which connect urban and suburban commuters with the downtown core.

2018 brings Phase 1 of Ottawa’s LRT (Confederation line) which will connect 13 stations over 12.5 KM, including a 2.5KM tunnel underneath the downtown core.  Phase 2 will expand the scope both east, west and south (Trillium Line) by 2023.

This has created a “transit oriented development” focus for city planners and a great deal of activity is planned around LRT transit hubs.

Greenbelt:
When one drives through Ottawa from the downtown towards the suburbs, the city seems to stop and then restart after large swathes of open space.  This was created way back in the day when the original plan was to keep Ottawa within the borders of this “Greenbelt”.  Over time, persuasive developers found a way to build new communities beyond the Greenbelt and this is where much growth has taken place since the 1970’s.

Schools:
We have a gamut of schools at the elementary and high school level encompassing English, French and immersion programs from public, Catholic and French school boards.  The widespread geography of Ottawa has become a bit of a problem in this regard, as demographics have changed school enrollment patterns and many schools are on the “to be closed” list due to lack of students while others are overloaded and still others have no local services at all.  Researching schools for both current and future requirements can be a key factor for many parents, so it is a good idea to review this early in your Ottawa home search to determine your geographic focus.

Real estate is local:
Every market is different, so be careful not to assume that things in Ottawa real estate will be the same as the market you are moving from.  Housing types/styles, trends and key features and highest demand items in one local market may vary widely from those in another.

If you are relocating and looking for an experienced brokerage team to consult on your home or condo buying plans, we are more than happy to help!  Give us a call at 613-435-4692 or check us out online at our co-ordinates below:

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 or mobile 613-371-9691
oasisrealty@rogers.com
oasisrealtyottawa.com
One of the highest ranked and “liked” real estate pages on facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oasis-Realty-Brokerage-Ottawa/209265863918

Follow us on Twitter for “all the real estate news that’s fit to post”  https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT

One of Ottawa’s best real estate blogs: http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

 

 

 

 

Stittsville Open House Saturday June 30th 2-4 PM

Join us for the hottest open house of the year at 110 Shackleford Way in upscale Stittsville Poole Creek. Award winning Tartan “Parkhill”  model with over 3,000 sq ft of finished living space. (includes finished basement rec room) $60K+ in upgrades and additions.

This recently built (2015/16) home is located within 2 km of the Canadian Tire Centre and has easy access to highway 417.  Only 11 minutes to DND Carling campus and the same to the Kanata tech cluster.

Four good sized bedrooms upstairs plus 2 bathrooms, a loft/nook and convenient laundry and two linen closets. Note: at time of writing, there are only 4 listings for 4 bedroom homes with finished basements in the whole Stittsville North (MLS zone 8211) currently listed and this one is the 2nd lowest priced.

The bright and airy main floor is a modified open concept that connects the kitchen and eat in area to the main floor family/great room but also has another adjacent area for combined living room/dining room.  Gorgeous kitchen with granite counters, high end stainless steel appliances, breakfast bar, huge chef’s pantry cupboard and upgraded tile.

The builder finished basement rec room is almost 700 square feet and with 3 oversize windows it is an incredibly light, bright area.  A basement bathroom rough in upgrade plus ample storage.

Upgrades galore in hardwood flooring, tile, carpet,underpad, custom blinds and California shutters, smart security system (all windows and doors have sensors) cat 5 wiring, smart garage door opener, central vac and accessories, central air, Gladiator system garage rails, Energy Star certified for comfort and saving, heat recovery ventilator (HRV) for efficient air refresh, tankless hot water tank (rental).

Check out the detailed MLS listing here: https://oreb.mlxmatrix.com/matrix/shared/DgQX0GNfHl/110SHACKLEFORDWAYW

Take a virtual walkthrough here: https://youtu.be/DMC2BL5ipVo

Join us Saturday or call your Realtor to arrange a private showing and celebrate Canada Day weekend

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record

Dawn Davey, Broker

Oasis Realty Brokerage

613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com

www.oasisrealtyottawa.com

 

 

how to pay less real estate commission and get full service

The savvy seller can find a quality agent and broker and still get full service at lower commission rates.

What is normal commission?
The accepted norm for real estate commission is 5% of the sale price of a property.  Typically, the listing agent and the buyer representatives (and their respective brokerages) split this amount equally with 2.5% going to each.  With average prices continuing to climb, this adds up to a fair amount of a seller’s equity to cover the cost, as sellers normally pay both ends of the commission.

Don’t forget the HST! The average residential real estate transaction in Ottawa these days is almost $450,000, so this requires a commission payment of $22,500, using the 5% model…but wait…there’s more!  The HST is charged on the real estate services, adding another 13% or $2,925 to bring the total to $25,425.  So this is clearly and expense that a prudent seller will want to optimize.

As one can see from the photo enclosed, this seller paid only 3% commission which would be a savings of over $10,000 in commission and hst in the example of the typical $450,000 property above…that’s worth considering, right?

Typical commission splits between the sales person and the brokerage:
Most large brand name brokerage sales agents need to charge the 5% rates to cover their corporate overhead.  Though individual Realtors are able to determine their own listing fees as independent contractors, most are constrained via contract, company policy and management practice plus they also need to maximize their earnings, accounting for the split they must pay to the franchise and corporate real estate company.  These splits take 10-30% of the commission revenue earned in *most cases. (splits vary greatly across the industry)

Optimizing real estate commission:
There are many different commission approaches out there these days, many of them available from smaller or mid-size brokerages such as ours.  (to be fair, some agents with larger brokers also have variable commission fees but they are very hard to find-since they are typically not permitted to advertise their commission rates)

The challenge most sellers face is how to get a lower commission cost without having to sacrifice the level of service received.  Even the “for-sale-by-owner” companies (who misleadingly advertise “no commission”, IMHO) do most often require a commission payment to the agent and brokerage representing the buyer on top of the fees charged to “sell it yourself”.  Almost all buyer agents expect 2.5% (+HST) when providing a buyer and facilitating the transaction on behalf of both parties.  So “ for-sale-by-owner”  is not commission free and though it may cut down the total commission being paid, the seller does not have the same level of representation or service they would have had by engaging a listing sales person or Broker.

Mere Posting services:
There are some brokerages who offer very low “ listing end” fees but for limited services and of course, the buyer agent/representative is still looking for their 2.5%, so while this works for some, it may not be ideal in this high paced market.  While intuitively, our sellers’ market would suggest it is easier to sell and therefore marketing and service effort should be less (with commensurately lower cost)  this is not the case.  This market puts a lot of pressure on Realtors to get the price and marketing strategy right and manage a complex set of issues to get the best deal for their client.

The happy medium:
The growth of small and medium sized firms has proliferated in recent years, as many Realtors choose to lower their costs and also become more independent, away from the umbrella of the somewhat restrictive corporate franchise broker.

Firms like ours are able to offer lower commissions and more flexible programs, as we do not bear the overhead of the larger brokerage entities.

Types of commissions that work for sellers:
A seller who also buys with the same agent should expect to get some level of discount on the selling side.  We charge only 3% or 3.5% in this situation) A seller whose agent represents both the seller and a buyer of that property should also expect to pay less, since there is no other agent to pay. (we charge 2.5 or 3% only in these circumstances)

Day-in-day-out lower fees:
We offer the government contract rate of only 3.7% (+HST) for residential properties and 3.99% for condos or country residential properties on well and septic systems.

 Flat fees:
Some firms offer flat fees on the listing end ie $2,995 but typically there will also be a % charge for the buyer representative/brokerage, too.

Volume discount or negotiated discount:
Each property is different and each situation is different, so there may well be some discounts available based on the situation that can be negotiated.

Tips on commission hunting:
Make sure you know what services are being offered.  If you expect the typical suite of Realtor services, make sure these are being offered at the reduced price.  Ie if no professional photography, online marketing, showing feedback or open houses are included, you may not be getting the same value.

Make sure you know the commission rate being offered to the buyer representative who brings the buyer of your property.  Many lower commission plans also drop the % paid and this can have adverse consequences to a seller.

Make sure you know the distinction and are getting a full MLS® listing, as some agents offer a lower commission rate package on what is called an “exclusive listing” but this listing does not get published on MLS and the individual agent is often trying to sell the property themselves (like a pocket listing)  and not have to pay another Realtor for the buying end.  While this lower commission may be attractive, the power of MLS is that all listings go on realtor.ca and all Realtors and their buyers are exposed and engaged to get the listing sold to the widest possible audience. (2 million+ visitors per month)

Is the firm and individual offering the value priced commission experienced enough to manage your listing and are you comfortable with them?

Get all commission rates and service levels committed in writing and included as an addendum to the listing contract and that way you know what you are paying and what you are getting in return.

There are dozens and dozens of independent firms covering every corner of Ottawa, so don’t be shy about seeking one out and using them for your listing brokerage!

For more information about our boutique brokerage services, feel free to give us a call at 613-435-4692 or email oasisrealty@rogers.com  (not intended to solicit those working with other Realtors)  You can also find more Ottawa real estate information and tips at our social media accounts and blog below:

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage Ottawa, ON

Oasisrealtyottawa.com
https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/
https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT
http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

12th year in business!

 

April 2018 poised to break monthly sales records?

3rd largest sales month:
April is typically the 3rd largest unit sales month of the year and this year looks to be no exception.  Despite an ever lingering winter, sales have been strong through the first 3 weeks of the year.
Our totally unofficial numbers suggest a sales increase that will be at least in the 10-15% range for the month which would take us over the 2,000 mark for combined residential and condo monthly sales.  (last year there were 1,795 properties sold in April and the 5 year average was 1,613.)

New listings:
April is typically the 2nd largest month for new listing activity and listing activity looks pretty strong this year also and should be equal to or greater than the number of new listings in April 2017.  Given our very tight listing inventory situation, this would be some good news for buyers, as new listings have trended down for much of the last 18 months, but with sales trending strongly up, sellers’ market conditions are expected to continue.

Total listing inventory:
Our current overall listing inventory is not even enough to cover sales for two months, when normally a balanced market would be 4 or 5 months of listing inventory, so no respite foreseen from our current tight inventory with the number 1 (May)  and #2 (June) sales months next up.

Sales to new listings this month:
Again unofficially, our numbers show that the ratio of sales to new listings (and key performance indicator in real estate) is 70.4% during the month of April thus far.  For reference: a balanced market is said to exist when sales: new listings is between 40-60% and a buyer’s market when the ratio drops below 40%.

Sales cancellations continue on the higher side:
Typically, about 5-6% of conditional sales fall through and do not “ firm” up and result in a completed sale.  Our current run rate on this stat is more like 10-12% or double the normal.  Financing and inspection issues are the principle cause but good old fashioned buyer’s remorse may also be a factor in a hot market where buyers have little time to consider whether to purchase or not.

What to expect?
Expect to see a lot of exclusive and “coming soon” listings, offer dates, “ bully”  offers and multiple offers. The next few weeks are also the main time for out of town buyers (mostly military, RCMP and other government employees relocating) to be in the market, so activity will be fast and furious.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com

Moving to Ottawa in 2018? …here’s how to get ready:

 

It could be “slim pickings” for buyers in 2018 Ottawa real estate:

The Ottawa real estate market has been improving steadily since spring 2016 and 2017 was probably the best year in a decade, with overall unit sales up 10.2% and prices up 6.8% for residential properties and 3.4% for condos.

The good news is Ottawa is still very affordable compared to many places across the country and one of its most stable markets.

Average selling prices 2017:
Detached single home: $ 451,306   +7.6%
Row townhome:            $ 343,958    +4.9%
Semi-detached home:   $ 420,042    +5.7%

Apartment condo:         $ 298,537    + 3.7%
2 story town/condo:     $ 230,141    + 2.9%

Tougher news for buyers will be scarcity of listing availability in 2018 and definite upward pressure on prices, as listings have fallen to very low levels all across the city.

New listings were down 8.7% over the course of 2017 and that trend is worsening already in 2018 with new residential listings in January down 30% compared to the 5 year average. Overall listing levels are down 21.7% for residential listings at year end and 27% for condos.

With increasing numbers of sales and lower numbers of new listings, the supply-demand balance will be swinging even more in favour of sellers, so buyers will have to be very aggressive and prepared for a tough seller’s market.

Here’s some things to do to be ready to buy:
1) have your team in place, so you are 100% ready to buy: Realtor, mortgage broker, insurance broker, inspectors, lawyer.  Make sure you and your spouse/partner are on the same page concerning priority level of housing features.

2) know your financial plan and pre-qualification levels before even looking at a property. Know whether you will need a property appraisal and if the new 2% qualification threshold applies to your file. Understand home operating and utility costs, as this may vary from your existing geographic location.  For example:  property taxes may be higher or lower and ditto for heating, electrical or water costs.  Ottawa has much higher property taxes than Toronto per $ of assessment, for example and we also have rental hot water heaters which those from out of Ontario may not know.

3) have a realistic target of home by type, area, features and price and narrow that as quickly as possible. No sense chasing rainbows in a tough market for buyers.  Wishing you can get the $525K house for $475K will not make it so.

4) have a plan for multiple offers. Well priced new listings will be attracting multiple offers, so discuss your position in advance with your Realtor.

5) consider builder quick occupancy inventory, as many builders are building some homes on spec to be available for peak delivery months ie summer.

6) search online for exclusive listings and other non MLS® posted properties. Many are “trying” listings out on 3rd party sites and social media before posting on MLS®, so you may find listings on social media groups or via search engine alerts.

7) drive through your geographic areas regularly (if possible) to look for new lawn signs popping up. New ones may have toppers that say:  “coming soon” or “exclusive” listing.  These may be good choices if you can find them before other buyers.  The fragmentation of listings from the central MLS® system makes it difficult for buyer agents to stay on top of all new listings appearing in your areas of interest and one cannot be satisfied that electronic means will be sufficient in getting you in to see the hot new listings, before other buyers.

If we can assist with your Ottawa purchase plans this year or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to call 613-435-4692

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record and Principal Broker
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
oasisrealty@rogers.com

https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/   http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

 

How overuse of exclusive listings undermines MLS®

 

Given our existing low listing inventory situation, many Realtors are convincing their buyers to “try” an exclusive listing to sell their property. While anything a seller and listing agent choose to do is up to them, it does have some consequences for the overall market, including that particular seller.

These exclusive listings are often flagged with sign toppers that say “exclusive listing” or “Coming Soon…” and we believe many listing agents wish to cash in on the listing scarcity for their own marketing and prospect generation purposes. What better way to entice a buyer to contact them than to offer something they may not be able to access otherwise?

Seller cannot be sure they actually get full market value for their home/property:
Selling to a small subset or “VIP” audience of buyers does not necessarily generate a full market value offer. Full market value can only be obtained by the widest possible exposure of a listing to the full MLS® market over time and this does not happen with these grey market listings.
The bottom line is that if the seller is happy with the price they get…then so what? …but just like the seller who sells quickly and then wonders “ should I have listed higher?” the exclusive listing seller may wonder the same thing.

No oversight on “exclusive” listings:
These listings are not on MLS® and therefore not subject to the extensive policies and processes administered by our Ottawa Real Estate Board to ensure fairness and equal access. The Board has no authority to investigate such listings and the 63 pages of OREB MLS® rules do not apply, so though not probable-abuses are possible.  Ie. Might a listing agent choose to give preferential access to their exclusive listing to their own buyers?  Or to their own small circle of Realtor friends or preferred Realtors?  One of the reasons MLS® works so well is that it is available to all 3,000 plus Ottawa Realtors and their buyers with equal access.

Loss of listing inventory may artificially inflate demand in the MLS® marketplace:
Further limiting supply in the listing starved MLS® market, will only enhance demand and potentially push prices higher. Our Ottawa market has been successful over the years by being steady and not as subject to the peaks and valleys of some of our Canadian neighbours.  Spiking demand and driving prices up to double digit increases, risks a longer and flatter market when demand eventually does level off.

Loss of listing data hurts buyers, sellers and Realtors:
By selling a property on the open non MLS® market, the MLS® system gets no data capture from that transaction and that information cannot be used by future buyers and sellers (and their agents) to assess their own buying and selling plans. MLS® data (and photos!)  is critical to helping the marketplace judge what market value should be and losing out data makes that process more difficult.

Searching listings for buyers is a real challenge in this marketplace and the more places a buyer or buyer agent has to sift through to find new listings, makes the search process that much more difficult and frustrating.

MLS® listings should not be “old news”
If a large % of listings get advance marketed as “exclusive” listings for 2-4 weeks and then ultimately get listed on MLS® for full exposure then MLS® listings run the risk of being deemed “old news” which is not good for the credibility and integrity of MLS® as “the” place to go for new listings.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should:
Just because online marketing and social media presence make it easier and more immediate to market properties today than in the dark printed past, doesn’t mean one should short circuit the central MLS® system.

While many coin operated Realtors may choose to find the shortest, quickest way to a closing and a commission cheque, most will realize that continuing to utilize the MLS® system and protecting its integrity, is still the best way to market listings. Trying to short circuit the system for marketing advantage ultimately weakens our MLS® system and makes losers of us all.

Why is the listing agent proposing an exclusive listing?
We are clearly not in favour of the widespread use of exclusive listings and we certainly didn’t see too many of them when we had a buyers’ market back in 2015 or 2015. So most sellers should have the discussion with their listing agent and try to really understand what it is they are selling and why.  Ultimately, whatever seller and listing agent agree is fine but both parties should be aware that they could be missing out on “top dollar” by not marketing the property first on the full-fledged MLS® system where all buyers and their agents can easily find and consider the property on an equal access basis with well-defined policies and procedures in place.

If you wish to discuss this or any other residential real estate matter with us, we are happy to do so! Feel free to give us a call at 613-435-4692.  You can also follow other items of real estate interest on our website, blog and social media below.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com   http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT   https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

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Are Realtors sabotaging MLS® with “grey market” listings?

We have experienced a relatively strong market over the last 18 months and listing scarcity has become an issue, as many areas have only a month or two of listing inventory. Listings in 2017 were down approximately 25% from the previous year (35% over 2 years) and with healthy sales, this made things difficult for buyers and their agents, especially those with an existing property to sell.

“Grey” market listings abound: (non MLS®)
In the face of dwindling listings, many Realtors (and their sellers) are getting creative about how they plan to market the listing to the best advantage of seller and Realtor. This includes the use of “exclusive” listings, “pocket” listings and future sale listings.  In most of these types of listings the listing agent does not publicize the listing widely/openly on the MLS® system.  (or at least initially) Instead these Realtors market via social media and a variety of 3rd party online sites.   Have you seen those “Coming Soon” or “Exclusive Listing”signs on front yards in your neighbourhood?  This is most likely an indication of a grey market listing.

How is this advantageous? (and to whom?)
Realtors do this for a number of reasons in our opinion:
-Realtors leverage the listing to potentially generate other buyer or seller prospects
-Realtors have a chance of “double ending” the listing, if they are able to find a buyer without having to pay another Realtor.
-The listing agent in many cases will have used these marketing concepts, combined with a lower listing commission to help close the listing in the first place.
-Realtors may be able to avoid the cost and time involved in some steps of the listing process ie professional photography, staging and also get to a sale sooner.
-are all the above consistent with the Realtor pledge of “first duty to client” or is the Realtor’s own marketing and prospecting activity subverting their principal duty to their seller client?
-some sellers may prefer not having a “wide open” MLS® listing where everybody and their brother are free to book random appointments to see their home.

So what’s the down side?
-these “ secret” listings become a bit of a holy grail and many Realtors really play this up:  Ie “ deal with me and I will get you the inside scoop on all the new listings, so you get to consider them BEFORE they hit MLS®.  Nobody, has access to all the “secret” listings, no matter how strong they may be in the neighbourhood.  The fairest and most democratic way is for all listings to make their way to MLS® where they can be considered by all buyers and their agents.
-all buyers do not get to consider the property and therefore demand is generated by only a small portion of the overall market.
-Buyers may be encouraged in to making a more impulsive offer, given the relative scarcity. This can result in buyer’s remorse and more conditional sales falling through which has been a factor in our market.
-these grey market listings that do not get to MLS®, also then further diminish the level of listing inventory available to MLS® buyers and therefore enhance the supply shortfall and help cause prices to rise.
-MLS® in recent years even includes most of the FSBO listings, so it is a fantastic central repository and marketplace. By withholding listings from MLS®, Realtors are not doing their seller, buyers or Realtor colleagues any favours.  Think for a moment if there was no MLS®?  Would you want Google or facebook to decide what listings you got to see?  MLS® is still ad free, too!
Do you want to have to scour hundreds of websites daily to find and stay on top of new listings in the marketplace?

Selling scarcity is nothing new:
Realtors, buyers and sellers will always adapt to scarcity and attempt to find ways to take advantage and this is no different, unfortunately, it can also lead to further scarcity in MLS® listings and possibly further demand spikes and price increases which is not good for buyers. It also removes some credibility from the MLS® system, if “ new”  listings are deemed to be old news by the time they are published on MLS®.

Seller choice:
A seller may find a deal without having to go through the full-fledged MLS® prep and marketing process and if they are happy with what they get, then so be it. Clearly, however, the best market value is to be obtained with the widest possible exposure to all buyers and their agents and that only happens with a listing on MLS®

Proponents will argue that they are only “getting the best deal” for their seller client but in many cases, we believe Realtor marketing and differentiation are the principal reason for use of these “grey marketing/non-MLS®” listings and that on balance this is not good for the overall market as it fractures and weakens the  central source of MLS® supply and exacerbates already existing supply problems.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage 613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com www.oasisrealtyottawa.com

12th year in business as a lower cost brokerage

 

Almost 3,000 fewer listings than the same point 2 years ago!

Listings (or lack thereof!) continue to be the dominant story in Ottawa real estate based on 3rd quarter results through the end of September.

Almost 3,000 fewer listings than at the same point only 2 years ago!
New listings in September are down 10.5% for residential properties and 20.3% for condos vs last year and 22.6% and 26.8% vs 2015.
Total listing inventory at month end is down this year 20.1% for residential listings and 24.1% for condos. Compared to 2015, listing inventory is down 35% for residential and 33.6% for condos.  Combined this means the current market has a 2,922 fewer properties available for sale at the end of September than the same point in 2015.

Sales up, inventory down, scarcity looms
With total sales demand up 12.1% vs 2015 for residential and 24.6% for condos, it is easy to see how we are seeing average prices rise and more multiple offers.

Residential sales: price growth fuelled by demand
Unit sales were actually down 1.8% in September but average selling price was up 8.2% to $416,464. On a year to date basis, residential unit sales are up 6.6% and the average selling price is up 7.2% to $425,139.

Condo market continues to show strength:
2017 has been one of the best condo markets in many years with unit sales thus far up 23.5% and the average selling price up 4.6% at $272,220.

Who benefits:
Sellers benefit in this market but of course, those who are also buying face a challenge on that end. One of the basic facts of real estate is that those who own a home are stuck both buying and selling in the same market conditions, so while one may gain on one side, they suffer on the other.

Buyers face more multiple offers, a very fast moving market on new listings and limited decision making time.

Builders have had a record year from anecdotal reports and we can certainly confirm that builder prices have been increasing and buyer incentives decreasing in the face of strong results and limited listing inventory in new construction also. Buyers are encouraged to keep an eye on new lot or phase releases or in demand inventory homes.  Also take your Realtor with you to the sales centre and consider asking for a “hold” or “reservation” for a short time from the builder, if possible.(though builders may also be tightening up on their willingness to accept such good “faith” agreements)

Bottom line and what to expect:
Though mortgage rates are creeping up with the Bank of Canada recent rate changes and there are continuing steps to tighten mortgage qualifications, our market appears pretty solid and poised for more growth.

Investors are still trying to figure out how new rental rules from the provincial government may affect them, so we could see some slackening in demand from this sector as a result.

As long as the federal government does radically alter their headcount and spending plans going in to the latter half of their mandate, our local economy should continue to be fairly buoyant and allow us to continue with the positive real estate trend lines which have been strengthening for the last 18 months.

This could be the best fall and winter in the last decade to be listing a property, given all the foregoing, so sellers should be reasonably confident they can find a buyer even in our historically seasonal hibernation between mid-November and mid-February.

Buyers should keep a close eye on the market as there may be some off season listing gems hit the market from sellers who have been awaiting a new build completion and have to list in the off season to accommodate their move in plans.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
oasisrealty@rogers.com
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com  blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com
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11th year in business as a lower commission brokerage