Seller tips and strategies for Ottawa winter showings

winter showing tips and strategies

There are some important decisions to make with your listing broker to help you plan to accommodate winter showings, in this busy sellers’ market in 2019/2020.  Here are just a few:

Initial showing period:
How will you manage access to accommodate the largest number of buyers to your property?  High demand and low listing inventory right now means properties are highly sought after and buyers will want to see the property as soon as possible after it is listed. 8 to 10 showings a day (or more!) in the first few days is not out of the question.

Some buyers are even vacating their properties for the first 4-7 days to provide for easiest access for buyers.

Are you holding offers?
If you are holding offers back to a certain date, you will want to take this in to consideration also.

Do you want to schedule overlapping showings?
Realtors normally book a 1 hour showing window.  Do you want to allow for potentially overlapping showings where more one buyer and their agent may be in the property at the same time?  This is a quite normal practice but if you want individual buyers to enjoy a private showing, you may request that your listing broker does not schedule overlapping showings.

What part does an open house or open houses play?
Open Houses work for most properties and provide a scheduled time for buyers to visit.  When trying to maximize or optimize the number of visitors in a short time frame, they can be very strategic.  We often hold dual open houses on listing launch weekends, as this gives buyers two choices to visit plus it may help us, if a winter storm impacts a single open house day and time.

Do you continue showings after a conditional sale?
Do you continue with buyer showings (and open houses) if you have signed an agreement for a conditional sale on the property?  Sales cancellations are at an all-time high of 10-15% of conditional sales, so it may be a good idea to continue accepting showings and holding any already scheduled open house, just in case, the buyer financing does not come through or for some other reason the buyer chooses to opt out of the agreement.

Do you have any time-of-day restrictions you wish to add to your listing?
In most cases, you want to make the property as accessible as possible for buyers but there are circumstances like children’s bedtimes, shift work schedules and other family matters may dictate a time window where showings cannot be accommodated.  Discuss these with your listing broker.

What is your pet management plan for showings?
Discuss with your broker, how best to manage pets to accommodate showings.

Here is an update to a previous post with specific tips for prepping for buyer visitors in winter:

Here is a checklist to things to consider when prepping for winter showings:

  1. Please shovel the driveway, walkway, front porch, decks and patios and make sure it is both accessible and safe for visitors. Ditto for snow or ice on roofs, eaves, overhangs or garages. Also, please make sure all windows and patio doors are frost and ice free and can be opened by visitors, if they wish.
    check to make sure the house numbers are visible as is the real estate “For Sale” sign and not obscured by snow, ice or snowbanks.
  1. For evening showings, please leave an outdoor light on so it is quick and easy to access the lockbox and then open the front door.
  2. Leaving all house lights on, saves time and shows your home to its best. Best to turn off the security system for scheduled showings also.
  3. Please make sure there are ample floor mats and boot trays to accommodate visitor footwear, especially for Open Houses.
  4. Please keep floors dry and clean! Few things are more irritating or distracting than walking through a puddle or having to walk through a dirty basement.
  5. Keep a moderate temp in the 19-20 C range (65-68F).  Many vacant properties are like meat lockers temperature wise and this does nothing for a buyer trying to “warm up “to a property, particularly when walking through in their sock/stocking feet on a cold floor. Visitors are wearing coats at this time of year, so please don’t make it too warm, either.
  6. Keep curtains and blinds open to admit as much natural light as possible, this is especially important in our low light winter conditions.  Light, bright homes show better and buyers are very much interested in this.
  7. Have a pet management plan which includes daily removal of any pet droppings that are emerging through the snow and ensure cat litter boxes and the area around them are cleaned regularly.
  8. Check for cooking, pet or other odours (hockey equipment?) and ventilate the home using your HRV, as home odours are more noticeable during the winter when houses (particularly newer more air tight ones) do not get as much fresh air from opening windows and doors. Moisture control is also important, as excess condensation on windows can be a worrying sign for buyers.
  9. Minimize distractions:  we don’t need cooking smells, music, vanilla on the stove, excessive air or carpet deodorant, personal photos, etc.
  10. Leave out some good colour photos of what the house and yard look like in the summer time, this really helps a buyer “see” the property.
  11. Have a plan for any fireplace.  Wood burning fireplaces don’t need to be lit but should be clean and with wood or fire log ready to light.  Gas fireplaces should also be clean and ready to turn on with directions on how to do so but resist the urge to leave the gas fireplace “on” or a wood burning fire going.
  12. No smoking…even in the garage!14.don’t run dishwasher or laundry when showings are anticipated
  1. Leave out copies of any pertinent neighbourhood information, your property survey or other items that may be potentially of interest for buyers or their representatives.
  2. Don’t be afraid to post a note about turning off lights or not locking inside garage door.

We would love to share our other thoughts on how to get your property sold, so feel free to give us a call at 613-435-4692 or oasisrealty@rogers.com , if you are not already working with another real estate professional.

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

For a great list of top real estate blogs in Canada, check here: https://blog.feedspot.com/canada_real_estate_blogs/

Is a “pre-listing” home inspection a good idea?

can a pre-listing inspection save a sale?

A “pre-listing” home inspection is just like a regular home inspection but is completed by the homeowner/seller prior to listing the property for sale.  Buyers are very familiar with the advantages of a home inspection when buying a property but few sellers take the time to have a “pre-listing” home inspection done.  Here are a few thoughts on why this rarely happens and why it is probably a very good idea in this market.

Is this a good idea?
Doing such a home inspection prior to listing is an excellent idea for a number of reasons.  It can be part of listing preparation and a sensible piece of due diligence to perform.  Most home inspectors are happy to do these and generally, they would be conducted well enough in advance of the listing date, to allow time to rectify any significant issues discovered.  (Or at the very least, to obtain professional quotes to understand the cost of remedies that can be built in to pricing strategy or negotiations)

In our sellers’ market one might say “what’s the point? there are lots of buyers out there” and forgo such an inspection and the associated cost.  However, having a home inspection report on file and available for serious buyers and their buyer representatives can be a very handy tool.

Some buyers may choose to forego the need for their own home inspection, if the report on file is deemed satisfactory.  This can mean a “cleaner” offer and possibly a quicker firming up date which benefits both buyer and seller.  It might also mean more offers in a multiple offer situation.

It can also provide buyers with confirming data on the property under consideration which can add to their confidence level or inform them of details that they may not have known.  This may help prevent a sale “falling through” or being cancelled during the conditional period.  Because of our sellers’ market, we are seeing extraordinarily high levels of such sales cancellations and these really hurt the seller, so on this basis alone, a pre-listing inspection is warranted.

If a general pre-listing inspection suggests more specific, expert consultation then a seller may choose to further investigate the matter and obtain additional reports, quotes or information that will help facilitate a sale or negotiation.  If done well in advance, then a seller has the opportunity to address some of the items pointed out and thus ensure success when a buyers’ home inspection is conducted.

A Professional Inspectors thoughts:
Mike White, owner of Homepro Inspections here in Ottawa and a very experienced home inspector, says perhaps 3% of his total inspections annually are pre-listing.
“I do several of these a year. Many are estate sales where the sellers are really not aware of any information about the house.

Most of the issues found are the same for any other inspection. Asbestos is something that many homeowners have no idea is in their homes.

The main difference when I am performing a pre-listing inspection is that I will typically give the sellers some tips on preparing their home for the next inspection. This would be information beyond what some agents provide in their services.

Some of this would be:
– Cleaning the furnace, or changing filters.
– Recommendation of increasing attic insulation
– Caulking and other general maintenance which can give potential buyers an impression of how the home has been maintained.”

You can reach out to Mike for a variety of home inspection related services at: http://homeprocanada.ca/ or by calling 613-860-4848

Why don’t more sellers and listing agents do these?

Timelines:
Quite often sellers are on a tight timeline to get a property listed and there just isn’t time to get a pre-inspection done.  Inspectors are in high demand in peak season and may or not be as readily available to do such inspections during the busiest months in the spring.

“Don’t-ask-don’t tell” or “don’t poke the bear
Most sellers are also very familiar with their homes and either don’t feel a home inspection is necessary, don’t want to shoulder the cost (approx. $500) or don’t want to “poke the bear” and potentially find out some negative aspect of the property that could affect their selling process.  Many listing agents also apply a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” principle to the pre-listing inspection, as anything significant discovered by that inspection may be a material fact which must then be disclosed to buyers or may delay the listing process.   “Why ask for trouble?  many listing agents may ask themselves.

Today, only the most cautious sellers are having pre-listing home inspections done in our market and in many cases, probably only upon the suggestion of their listing agent/broker.  Some brokers may choose to include the cost of this inspection in their listing fees.  Homes that have had (or have) some specific issue, (ie foundation, structural, latent defect) are good candidates to show buyers what needs to be done and what it will cost or to prove that the issue has been resolved. Often, a trade specialist or Engineering inspection and report may be provided for this purpose.

We believe that doing such an inspection protects both seller and listing broker and paves the way for a smoother sales process overall but don’t expect to see a much higher % of listed properties being supported in this fashion.  Those contemplating a sale, should at the very least discuss this with their listing broker and determine if there are sufficient reasons to proceed.

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

 

 

 

Is buying new construction like “double dipping” in this market?

is buying new construction a “no brainer” in a rising market?

Ottawa has a hot sellers’ market in real estate right now, with limited listing inventory and price increase levels we haven’t seen since the advent of super low mortgage rates almost 2 decades ago.  New construction homes have similarly been enjoying significant sales success and similar price bumps.  Unfortunately, we do not have stats to track new construction sales or average price increases but let’s assume they are going up at least as much as resale homes which is approximately 9% year-to-date for both residential and condo sales.

Double dipping:
With increased unit sales and some labour shortages, builders are stretched to deliver the volume of possessions, so lead times have been extended and customers are generally having longer waits for their new build home. *though there are many spec homes being built and sold with somewhat shorter delivery times.  It is not unusual for a new home buyer to wait a year or more, for their new home to be ready for occupancy.

In this rising market however, that is not a totally unhappy circumstance for buyers.  The first time buyer has longer to save up for a larger down payment or for other costs, such as window coverings, appliances, furniture, etc.

The new home buyer who also has an existing property, is really “doubling down”, with both their existing property and the new build property appreciating in value at the same time.  Depending on how much down payment the builder requires, the new home buyer may be seeing as much as a doubling of their down payment amount in increased equity on the new build, before they even move in!

So it should be a “no-brainer”, right?
With expectations of at least another 5-6% increase in overall average selling prices in 2020, (perhaps more in entry level and medium price points) buying new construction certainly appears to be a pretty safe bet, provided the future delivery of the new build is not too far out there.  No one has a perfect crystal ball, so it is tough to be sure what the markets might look like 18-24 months from now.  Some may remember that many buyers in Toronto got burned in recent years when, prices levelled off or even dipped which caused them to be underwater on their investment.

Things to remember about new construction purchases:
Builders typically want 10% or more down on a purchase(at time of signing), so this can run in to a fair amount of cash and buyers will have to have a good financial plan to manage this down payment.

Getting a handle on new construction total costs is often a bit of  a challenge, as typically one can’t get 100% accurate upgrade costs, until they have already “signed on the dotted line” for the base price of the property. Parking costs and storage costs are also extra in almost all new condos, too.  This requires some flexibility in budget or buyers can find themselves compromising important upgrades to keep the overall costs within desirable parameters.

The market for new homes is very competitive, so just like resale, the “you snooze-you lose” premise is very much a factor.  The couple in the sales centre at the same time as you, may well write the cheque for a “hold” on a specific lot or unit, while you are still touring the model home.

Few incentives on the table:
Builders have adjusted their incentive programs for both buyers and Realtors, so the type of bonuses available only 3 or 4 years ago are long gone.  Don’t expect to be able to negotiate much of a “deal” (if any!) in this sellers’ market.  If your Realtor is less than enthused about your interest in a new construction purchase, it may be because the financial remuneration they receive is slim or none, for assisting you with that purchase.

Beware the “boiler room” environment in new home or condo sales: New lot releases and new subdivision or condo launches can be a good time to try and be first in the queue to secure most desirable choices within a development or condo.  However, many times, these events are super hyped and promoted with the “buy-now-or-lose-it” pressure of a timeshare selling environment which can contribute to some hasty or ill-informed buying decisions.  Condos can be the biggest example and are typically also the furthest down the road on the delivery date.  This can provide a major risk to buyers, if the market changes, before that condo is built.

We have seen recent examples where some new developments are already “sold out” even though the planning approvals have not yet been received.  Changes to accommodate planning requirements can make changes to what buyers have actually bought and may not bring pleasant news to buyers who thought they were doing the right thing by buying first.

Delivery timelines dictate selling of existing property:
Those who are “double dipping” will eventually have to sell the current home and delivery timelines are out of the buyers’ control.  This can lead to some awkward timing in selling an existing property, to coincide nicely with the possession date of the new build.  For example, a February or March possession date, probably means listing in December which is not the best time to be selling for most.  Delays can also push out possession dates by 60-90 days and though builders are usually very good about meeting their delivery dates, things do get delayed for a variety of reasons.

No guarantees:
Many new construction buyers have done very well in recent years, particularly those that bought in tougher markets back in 2014 or 2015 when builders were anxious to do a deal.  Though the short term looks very positive for those interested in this form of “double-dipping”, there can be no guarantees when trying to guess on future market dynamics or complexities.

Remember, there is typically no cost to utilizing a Realtor’s services and expertise with your new construction plans, so don’t miss out on what could be invaluable 3rd party advice and counsel.

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

For other interesting blogs here in Ottawa check out this link:  https://blog.feedspot.com/ottawa_blogs/

 

 

Average home prices up $25,000-$40,000 through November 2019

a wintry November did not slow sales

The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) results for November show another strong sales month, despite the early onset of wintry conditions. Unit sales and average home prices both approached double digit gains, compared to November 2018.  The market shows no trends of flattening out, except for the usual seasonal fluctuations.

Key average price milestones reached this year:
The average detached home price has sold this year for $510,975, an increase of 8.4% or $39,693, breaching the $500K mark for the first time.
The average residential row townhome has sold for $408,905, an increase of 9.8% or $36,620, topping $400K.
The average residential semi-detached home has sold for $489,656 an increase of 9.5%. or $42,447
The average condo sold this year has topped $300,000, coming in with a 9.1% price increase to 303,817 which is up $25,459 from a year ago.  Apartment condos lead the way with an average price of $324,459 up 5.7% while row units and stacked condos also showing similar $ price gains at $268,613 and $274,860 respectively.

Listing inventory continues to languish:
The number of new listings in November are pretty flat with a year ago, so while they are not getting any worse, they are not improving, either.  This means our supply/demand imbalance should continue for the short term, at least-given the strong sales demand.

At the end of November, our residential listing inventory was 22.6% lower than last year at the same time and condo listing inventory was 43.9% lower.

About the only listing category that was higher was the number of rentals that are MLS® listed, which are up 53.9% vs 2018.  Year to date rentals done via MLS® are basically flat vs last year, so that category is not seeing the same growth as the resale market.

City policy on short term rentals may put more inventory in the market:
Though there will no doubt be ongoing appeal action via OMB or other legal avenues, there could be a slight bump in available listing inventory and long term rental properties, from investors losing their ability to rent their (non resident occupied) properties via Airbnb or VRBO.  Numbers are not readily available of how many housing units fall in this category but this could have help the condo and urban market inventory where most of the short term rental properties are located.  Airbnb totalled some 4,600 listings in Ottawa over the last 12 months, so the number of investors involved might easily be 500-1,000 (or more) which would be welcome in the long term rental or resale markets.  Stay tuned!

New home construction:
New home sales continue to flourish and with the upward trajectory in the market, many new home buyers feel they are kind of “doubling down”, in that both their current home and the one “on order” or “to be built” are appreciating in price, while they wait for the new home possession which typically is 8-12 months or more, down the road.

Cost of waiting makes buying even more expensive:
Strong markets like this make it tough on all buyers, particularly first time buyers and those that are “fence sitters”, who are considering a move but don’t really have a compelling reason to do so, until they find the “right” property.  The upward price trajectory, however, makes the cost of waiting potentially significant.  For example, even if current prices only increase by 6% over the next months (a Re/Max projection for Ottawa), the average prices overall could look something like this:
The average detached single home will jump to $541,633 and a further hike of $30,000+ over current prices.

The average two storey single detached home could top $600,000 next year, with a 6% hike from this years’ average price of $567,456.

The average townhome would jump to $433,439 up $25,534

The average condo would increase to $322,026 overall and the average apartment condo to $343,926, each up almost $20K.

This means more down payment needed to qualify for appropriate financing, more to generate 20%+ down payment for investment properties, higher land transfer and mortgage insurance costs and a longer period to pay off mortgages taken out against these purchases.

These also represent only “average” price increases and higher priced properties could easily be going for $50-$100K more in the immediately foreseeable future, especially, if the current inventory shortage continues and the market generates another 8-10% price rise.

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

Glencairn semi-detached homes post huge gains in 2019

sold by bully offer in 2 days

Kanata’s Glencairn neighbourhood had suffered a bit of a stigma after enduring 3 “storms of the century” resulting in flooded basements a decade or more ago.  The city has invested many millions to solve the problem and so far, this seems to have worked.  Many homeowners were able to take advantage of a City program that reimbursed those in the most flood prone locations to install sump pumps, to mitigate any future flooding.  Also, city infrastructure has been significantly improved, with a total investment of some $35M.  But “time heals all wounds” and Glencairn has shone in real estate in 2019, especially the semi-detached home category.

By far Kanata’s most affordable neighbourhood:
Glencairn is home to relatively more moderate priced housing and has been a bit of a bargain for many years due to the flooding stigma previously noted.  Many bungalows are available and it also boasts a huge variety of semi-detached homes in all varieties from bungalows, to hi-ranch style, to splits to 2 storey.

The average price of all homes sold this year, has not broken through the $400K barrier, so we can expect more growth in future.

90.9% sold at list price or above!
As house prices generally  have risen over the last couple of years, Glencairn has drawn more attention from price point conscious buyers and sales of semi-detached homes have been fiercely competed in 2019, which has produced a very strong average price increase of 11.4% .  In fact, 50 out of 55 semi-detached homes sold in Glencairn up to the end of November, were sold at list price or above which generally means multiple competing offers, reflective of significant demand.

Note: The Ottawa Real Estate Board quoted 36% of all sales were above list price in October and Glencairns’ 90.9% year-to-date ratio in the semi-detached category may be the highest in the city.

Still affordable?
The average selling price for Glencairn semis is up to $341,846 but this is still very affordable when townhomes across the city have averaged over $400,000 this year and the average semi across the Board is pushing the $500K mark at $484,549.  So we can expect further growth and competitive bidding for the foreseeable future.

Glencairn offers:
Most of Glencairn was built in the 1960s and there were no townhouses or other multiple dwelling units in the initial phases, therefore it does not have the density of newer neighbourhoods.  Larger lots, mature trees, wider streets, lots of parks, schools and the Trans-Canada Trail plus a wide variety of services and recreation are all appreciated in this neighbourhood.  Proximity to the Kanata technology business and the new DND HQ and express transit are also key features.  Commuters also have pretty quick access to highway 417.

You can read some interesting facts about Glencairn’s history on the Community Association webpage here: http://kanatasouth.com/?page_id=6

 

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