Why are so many conditional sales falling through in 2017?

We have noticed a marked increase in the number of sales that have “fallen through” this year and not firmed up, once conditionally sold.

A conditional sale is reached after an Agreement of Purchase and Sale has been agreed to and signed by both parties and typically calls for a conditional sales period during which the buyer satisfies their purchasing conditions such as inspection and financing. This period is generally 5 business days for most properties but may run to 10 business days or more if additional inspections are required or in the case of condominiums where buyers must wait for the property manager to produce up to date condo status documentation.

What metrics do we have on the issue?
Unfortunately, this data is not recorded, reported or available in any meaningful way by our real estate board or realtor system. On our realtor dashboard, we have a section of the screen that keeps us informed about the number of new listings, price changes, conditional sales, sales, listing cancellations and the telling “back on market” category.  (here is what a section of our realtor dashboard looks like and our only source of data)

 

New Listing (111)
Back On Market (18)
Price Decrease (48)
Price Increase (1)
Conditional Sale (100)
Sold (87)
Expired (21)
Leased (0)
Cancelled (34)
Rented (13)
Suspended (2)

Back on market listings are those that are returning to active status and are mostly made up of those that were previously conditionally sold and are now being returned to “active” sales status.

Historically, this “back on market” category runs about 5% of new listings in our experience over the last several years. This year however, that number is more like 8-10% or more which means that the number of sales falling through is approaching double what it had previously been.

What causes sales to fall through and why so many more this year?
Good old fashioned “buyer’s remorse”
Buyer’s remorse can always be a factor in sales falling through. One partner may have liked the property more than the other or perhaps the buyers are just not prepared enough or on the same page regarding key buying criteria.  When this happens, unfortunately, many other parties are affected and their plans sidelined.

Because of our stronger market this year, many buyers may feel rushed to put in an offer before they are really ready, as they fear “missing out” on the property if they don’t.

Seeing a property once for a 30 or 40 minute visit may not be enough to get a full grasp or comfort level, so we may be seeing some impulsive buying decisions as a result. We recommend at least two visits to a property for buyers but this market doesn’t necessarily allow time for that level of investigation and research..

This can be especially so for buyers shopping high demand areas and price points who may have lost out on other properties or multiple offers by not being “quick enough”.

Inspections:

Inspections are the number 1 cause of sales falling through, because hidden or pricier to fix than expected items in a home, once understood, often lead to a renegotiation of a selling price which means there is a chance for the deal to fall apart.

In our market favouring sellers, many sellers may believe that there are lots more buyers out there waiting to buy their property, so may not be motivated to adjust the agreed selling price or fix issues pointed out in inspections. This is very true for properties which sell fairly quickly after listing or those sold in multiple offers.

Buyers in these circumstances may be feeling they are paying a premium price for a property and therefore can have an expectation that certain things should be addressed by a seller, so there is good potential for a disconnect between buyer and seller.

Financing:

As mortgage qualifications have tightened (and now with rising rates) more buyers may be getting surprised when the time comes to get the final mortgage approval during the conditional sales period. If there are hiccups in mortgage approval, some buyers may have to walk away from a house they really love.

So why is this is this a worry in a strong market?

Sales that fall through waste a lot of time, energy and money. A seller’s property is effectively “off the market” during the buyer conditional period and they may lose other qualified buyers who buy something else in the interim.

The seller’s plans are totally “on hold” and they cannot go forward until the sale firms up, so it can be a stressful waiting period for all involved. Realtors meanwhile, get no extra compensation for having helped buyer or seller through a transaction that does not complete.

Stigma on conditionally sold property:

Like it or not, there is a bit of a stigma attached to a property which has been conditionally sold but then falls through. So much so, that the real estate board allows the record of that conditional sale to be expunged from the sales history record, so as not to prejudice future buyers and their realtors.

Most buyers and Realtors will be suspicious and assume there was some inspection issue that surfaced.

Can you imagine how many fall through in private sales?

If a large number of sales are running in to problems with professional realtors advising both buyer and seller, can you imagine what the factor might be in the private sale arena?

Bottom line:

This is an offshoot of what is essentially a very healthy market with strong demand and enthusiastic buyers possibly jumping too soon for fear of losing out on a new listing. It also tests realtors who must do their utmost to make sure their buyers are fully prepared to complete conditional sales and negotiate the inevitable rocky patch that may occur between conditional sale and firm.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
oasisrealty@rogers.com
www.oasisrealtyottawa.com  blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com
https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/
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Stittsville real estate report: midyear 2017

Stittsville landmarks

We are having the best year since 2010 in Ottawa real estate, with unit sales and prices up nicely and listing inventories dropping significantly from some historical highs in 2015.

Overall unit sales are up 10.8% and average prices are up 7.2% to $398,872 across the Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB)

Builders are reporting an extraordinarily strong year with one report indicating a 44% hike in unit starts and one builder reporting that sales have doubled in the first half of the year!

So how is Stittsville doing?
Stittsville market is keeping pace with overall growth with the exception of areas north of Hazeldean Rd which is fairly flat in both sales growth and price increases.

Desperate need of more listing inventory north of Hazeldean Rd!
MLS® zone 8211

Unit sales are down 7.6% compared to midway in 2016 and average prices are pretty flat with an increase of .5% to $393,237.

Very limited listing inventory may be the cause of relatively fewer sales, for example, this area has only 22 total listings at time of writing and that is barely one month’s worth of sales! So this is a great time to be selling in Stittsville North (Fairwinds, Jackson Trails, Bryanston Gate, Timbermere, Poole Creek) especially.

One would have thought that this should push average prices higher but is not the case thus far. The other two Stittsville zones below have a more reasonable 3 months’ worth of listing inventory, although still much lower than in previous years.

Central Stittsville: (MLS® zone 8202 between Hazeldean Rd. and Abbott St.)

Unit sales are up 25.6% and average prices up 8.2% to $468,745. 55 residential properties currently listed.

South Stittsville: (MLS® zone 8203)

This area is also seeing strong results with unit sales up 21.7% and the average price up 5.8% to $512,666. 50 residential properties currently listed.

Key Factors:

Builder competition:
With so much new construction in Stittsville and Kanata, the resale market is always competing with builders. This can have an effect on those selling, particularly if the home is less than 5 years old and the builder still offers that particular model for sale.

Builders have been raising prices this year, along with the market overall.

Construction disruption:
Some streets/neighbourhoods may have resale affected by new construction in adjoining parcels of land, particularly where that development may change the ambience or traffic patterns.

The military invasion continues!
With the migration of DND HQ to DND Carling Campus at Moodie Dr., Stittsville and Kanata continue to be very popular for military families.

If you would like more information on this or any other neighbourhood and are not currently working with another Realtor by all means give us a call 613-435-4692 or check us out at our online co-ordinates below.

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

One of Ottawa’s best liked real estate pages: https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

 

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Ottawa real estate “stellar” midway through 2017

 

 

 

 

 

The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) June results report another strong month of sales and price gains. Virtually every indicator is positive and suggests continuing growth in the months to come.

Average prices and unit sales continue upward trend:
Our best average price increases in many years with the average residential selling price up 7.2% to $427,721 and the average condo up 6% to $274,974 through the first half of 2017.

Unit sales:
Residential unit sales are up by 10.8% and condos by 26.2% on a year to date basis.

Listing inventory plummets:
 The one somewhat challenging statistic is the continuing decline in new listings (-10.3% year to date) and the overall listing inventory at the end of June which shows the number of residential listings down 27% from a year ago and condos down 22.2%.  (compared to historical highs at the end of June 2015, residential listings are down 36.4% and condos down 28.1%)  This is a good situation for those selling but not so much for buyers.

These inventory levels suggest continuing strong demand for the foreseeable future.

New home sales up 44%
The Ottawa Home Builders Association reported that housing starts are up 44% this year to date, compared to last-so builders are seeing very strong activity also. Accordingly, builder prices have bumped up this year and buyer incentives have generally decreased from a year or two ago.

More sales falling through:
Conditional sales that do not firm up normally run about 5 or 6% but we notice that this is up to more like 8 or 10% this year. This may be caused by buyers who make an offer quickly and then have some buyer remorse.  Another possibility may be that sellers are less inclined to adjust prices after home inspections discover some latent issues, thus causing buyers to walk on signed conditional agreements.  Tighter mortgage qualifying rules may also be a factor.

These sales “fall throughs” are worrisome, as they effectively take a property off the market for 5-7 business days and then potentially leave a stigma as to why the deal did not proceed which may turn other buyers away from the property.

More offer dates and multiple offers:
We are seeing many more offer dates or “no offers before”, as listing agents try to ensure as many buyers as possible get exposure to the property to optimize value for their sellers. Ottawa has always been more of an “early-bird-gets-the-worm” type of market but listing scarcity and stronger demand are forcing more agents and sellers to hold back offers. Note: while multiple offers have certainly increased this year they are not the norm, generally only a small %  (perhaps 5%) will see multiple offers and over listing price sales., although this may be higher in very high demand neighbourhoods.  There is a tendency for some in our industry to be over enthusiastic and make it sound like every property is selling overnight and with multiple offers and an over list price result.  This may lead to faulty expectations and perhaps some impulsive buying and selling decisions.

The average days on market to sell a property (though improved) is still 40 days for residential properties and 60 days for condos.

So it is a strong market which brings some different challenges than we faced a year or two ago and buyers and sellers are encouraged to stay engaged with their industry professional to be fully on top of the market dynamics.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 or 613-371-9691 (mobile)
Oasisrealtyottawa.com

Quality brokerage services at lower commissions, 11th year in business

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s dispel a major myth about Ottawa real estate in the summer!

Let’s dispel a major Ottawa real estate myth: that summer is “dead” in real estate

It has long been held that summer is dead in real estate and things pick up in the fall…but is it really true?

….not so much, as our research has proven! (See monthly unit sales chart)

We hear this all the time from sellers, home owners and even other Realtors who seem to think that there are two “prime” or “peak” seasons in Ottawa real estate: spring and fall.  We hear statements like “everyone is on vacation” or “gone to the cottage” etc. thus explaining why real estate “dies” off in the summer and somehow is magically reborn and “things pick up after Labour Day”.

While it is true that summer sales do dip compared to the super peak season in May and June, July and August are the next best sales months the market will see until the following April, so serious buyers and sellers should not put their real estate plans “on hold” until the fall’s purported “2nd season” in the Fall.

Summer unit sales: July and August 4th and 5th strongest months

Sales in July and August are some 20-25% less than those in April-May and June but are still usually well ahead of sales in September and October which are a further 10-20% lower, followed by November when sales start to go in to the winter hibernation phase of Ottawa real estate.

New Listings and total listing inventory are also typically higher in the summer months than in the fall and winter, so it is a great time to be buying also.

How did this myth get started?
…hard to say but possibilities include:
After a busy spring season, some Realtors may be looking for a bit of a break themselves, which is hard to do when one has to be “on call” and readily available close by to support a new listing or buyer client. So if a buyer or seller plans can be deferred a couple of weeks, the Realtor can sneak in some summer vacation time for themselves.

Also, some Realtors may feel that for whatever reason, a certain property may get more attention in the fall or they may simply be trying to save some business activity to anchor the balance of their business year, especially with the typically slow winter season approaching from mid-November on.

There may be some valid reasons in terms of market circumstances, competitive listing inventory, seller vacations, property preparation for listing and so forth but let us be perfectly clear: don’t delay listing your property in July or August because you think business is stronger later!

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692 or 613-371-9691
oasisrealty@rogers.com

One of Ottawa’s best liked/followed real estate pages: https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

Our real estate guide/blog: http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

2 experienced brokers working for you…11th year in business!

 

 

Seller’s market in Ottawa real estate May 2017?

Record sales in May 2017

 

Ottawa real estate had record unit sales in May and the combination of all indicators suggests we are either in a seller’s market or very much on the verge of one.

Sales and prices were up and new listings and overall listing inventory were down thus making for a good month for sellers and listing agents but not so much fun for buyers.

May is typically our busiest sales month (followed by June and then April) as our market is boosted by families looking to move before school starts in September and also a strong transition of government staff (primarily military and RCMP) moving to and from our area.

Unit sales strong:
Residential unit sales up 12.4% for the month, condos up 44.6%
The number of residential units sold in May was 1856 vs 1612 a year ago.
Condo unit sales were 444 vs 307 in May 2016

On a year to date basis through May, residential sales are up 12.4% and condo sales up 27.1%.

Average prices increasing nicely:
The average price of a residential property sold in May was $436,625 and increase of 7.4%.

The average condo sold for $270,993 in May an increase of 2.3%.

Year to date increases for residential properties sold is trending up 6.7% and for condos 4.9%. This is our best average price growth in 5 or 6 years.

Listing inventory continues to be the key indicator to watch!
New listings continued to slow with condo listings lower than May 2016 by 6.3% and the # of new condo listings down by 13.2%.

Overall, the number of new listings is 10% lower this year to date.

End May listing inventory signals more demand in coming months!

The combination of strong unit sales increases and a lower number of new listings leaves us at the end of May with 25.3% fewer available listings in the residential market and 22% fewer condos that in 2016.

This means more competition for available listings in general and thus favours sellers. On an area by area basis this may vary but it does jibe with what we are seeing daily in the market.

New listings to sales ratio indicate seller’s market conditions during May:

The number of residential sales (1,856) to new listings (2607) yields a ratio of 70.2% and this is almost Toronto high! (a ratio above 60% is said to reflect seller’s market conditions, with 40-60% representing a balanced market and less than 40% a buyer’s market.) On a year to date basis the ratio is 58.8%, just short of a seller’s market

Condo unit sales for May (444) vs new listings (734) yield a ratio of 60.4%, also just in to seller’s market territory. On a year to date basis the condo ratio is 46.8% which suggests a more balanced market.

What can we expect in the long, hot summer?

We are certainly seeing more multiple offers and offers days being established by sellers and their listing agents, especially in key geographic areas and price points. Sellers should discuss their pricing and marketing strategy with their listing salesperson to determine the best course of action for their circumstances.

Buyers want to be on top of new listings (and price changes) and not wait for an Open House to go and see a property that may interest them.

Both sellers and buyers will also want to determine their own position on how they wish to participate in a multiple offer situation, should one materialize.

Why pay 5% commission to sell in a “hot” market?

Buyers and sellers need their salesperson or brokers’ advice just as much in a hot market as in a slower one….but do you really need to pay 5% commission on the selling side?

If you don’t think so, give us a call and we can explain our options that will *save you 26% to 50% of the selling fees on your sale. 613-435-4692

*not intended to solicit those with existing listings. Savings based on our range of listing commissions vs typical 5%.

 

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

 

An experienced, effective and inexpensive residential brokerage

 

Multiple offers puts additional stress on all parties

lots of twists and turns but ultimately only one across the finish line
lots of twists and turns but ultimately only one buyer gets the prize

Our Ottawa market is showing some strong signals that we may be seeing a return of seller’s market conditions, with stronger demand, rising prices and the increase in the number of multiple offer situations. This can be a stressful experience for all parties, particularly buyers who have not experienced the process.

We recently competed in a multiple offer (representing a buyer) on a detached single home in the south end which attracted 5 offers within 48 hours of being listed on MLS®. We were not successful with our offer and our buyers were very disappointed but we gave it our best shot in the fast paced process surrounding these types of situations.

Here are some of the key challenges in the process:

Compressed timelines:
The listing was just posted on MLS® later on Monday. We alerted our buyers to the new listing that evening and requested a showing directly via the listing agent that night.  We actually viewed the property twice on Tuesday, once with one of our buyers and the 2nd time with both buyers. (one of our buyers was actually able to take the day off  work to get in to see property as early as possible)

We submitted an offer on Tuesday evening that was slightly over asking price, as we expected that demand would be reasonably strong given the amount of showing activity on the listing. We were aware of the fact that another offer was pending and it had been submitted just prior to our own offer.

Our buyers revised their offer price upwards, based on the 2nd offer.

The listing salesperson had now established an offer presentation time for Wednesday later afternoon. By early-mid afternoon Wednesday, we were aware that there were now a total of 4 offers registered on the property.  (there ultimately ended up being 5 offers submitted)

Our buyers revised their offer price upwards a 2nd time to their absolute maximum and we submitted revised documentation to the listing sales person.

Buyer roller coaster:
Buyers are caught on a roller coaster of emotions: from the elation of seeing a property they both really want in their price range and area, to happily submitting an offer which is over the listing price and hoping there are not too many offers, to frustration from waiting around without any control of the situation, to stressing about how much one should offer and avoiding temptation to overpay or remove some important condition from the offer which may help “win” the property bid but prove costly later, to the anticipation of waiting and hoping your offer will make it to the top of the pile, to the disappointment that comes from finding out that it was a good offer but not quite good enough.

Sellers are happier but not stress free:
Sellers are definitely the beneficiaries of the best possible market value in these scenarios but they are certainly not stress free. This young family was pretty much shut out of their home for the better part of 2 days while buyers and their agents toured the property.

These sellers also have a home they are buying, so until their own property sells and firms up, they are not 100% sure of securing their own dream home. Even if it looks pretty good right now, it is still not over until the final paperwork is done with any buyer conditions satisfied.

Buyer representatives have a lot of conflicting pressures:
All buyer representatives want the right property for their buyers and at the right price. While one-on-one negotiations with a listing agent and seller have one set of challenges and variables, multiple offer situations are completely different and the buyer representative has far less control or influence over the outcome.

Price, closing date and conditions are the critical factors and we want our buyers to win but not pay too much or sacrifice important conditions. i.e. like foregoing a home inspection or not including a financing condition.

Add to this the uncertainty of knowing what the “winning” price might be and how to properly advise buyers is a challenging task.

No “cake-walk” for the listing salesperson, either:
The listing sales person has their own set of pressures in professionally representing the seller, co-ordinating access for showings, communicating on a timely basis with all interested parties and running a well-organized and credible multi offer submission, advising sellers on bid selection, negotiations and debriefing all who have submitted offers. This is a pressure packed process for them as well.  In this case, we had a very professional listing salesperson who very ably managed all of these from our vantage point.

Everyone’s life is “on hold”:
All parties to these situations are pretty much “on call” as the dynamics of these situations unfold and the process lurches towards a conclusion. Don’t miss out on a phone call, text or email-as you may lose out on timely information or ability to act upon that information. When the ultimate prize is so important, everything is circumspect and under a microscope.  Did we do everything we could?  Was there more information we should have had?  Should we have been more aggressive?  How much risk should we take?

This is definitely starting to look like a “you snooze…you lose” kind of market:
What about the buyer representative who missed the listing or the buyer who wasn’t quick enough to even get in to see it? What about the buyer representative who wasn’t available to get their buyers in to see the property?  What about the buyer who said: “let’s wait for an Open House”?

Bottom Line:
It is always disappointing to “lose” but our buyers did everything they possibly could and are moving on to the next one. Our job is to find them an even better one than the one that got away and it’ll happen for them!

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

One of the highest ranked and “liked” real estate pages:  https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/

“all the real estate news that’s fit to tweet”  https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT

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

A full service, boutique brokerage with lower listing fees

Will it be a “balanced” market or a “seller’s” market in 2017?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lots of these in Ottawa January 2017
Listing inventory is trending down which may indicate a market favouring sellers
Listing inventory is trending down which may indicate a market favouring sellers

Though January is typically the lowest sales month of the year, (along with December) there are some very positive trends in the current market.

Strong residential sales in January 2017:
Unit sales have been trending up steadily since April 2016 and January continued that trend. Unit residential sales were up a solid 16.6% for the month and overall residential and condo sales were 8.6% higher than the 5 year average for January.  Condo unit sales were flat in January but did sell at a higher price than a year earlier.

Listing inventory trending down:
This is a key category and indicator of overall market activity. We experienced several years (2013-2015) of increasing inventory levels which led to a supply/demand imbalance favouring buyers.  Starting in spring 2016 this indicator started moving in the opposite direction and moved in to a balanced position during 2016. See chart:
https://public.chartblocks.com/c/5895b4b79973d295631e48dc via @chartblocks

January 2015 listing inventory is 15.2% lower for residential listings and 10.7% lower for the number of condo listings, compared to a year ago.
New listings in January were 11% lower than a year ago and condo listings for the month 4.6% lower.

Balanced market or seller’s market?
If we continue the combination of higher unit sales with lower numbers of new listings and total listing inventory, then we may see more pressure on buyers and higher prices and move more towards a seller’s market.  This is what can occur when demand outstrips supply and can be characterized by shorter selling times, higher prices and the existence of more multiple offers on listings.  We have not had sellers market conditions (except perhaps at a neighbourhood level) for 4 or 5 years now, here in Ottawa.

We have also had reports of strong sales from builders on new construction and inventory homes.

Prices:
Overall average prices are not leaping forward, as has been the case for the last number of years but the trend suggests this could change if supply limitations drive prices up.

Bottom Line:
This is a very important time of year for both buyers and sellers, as market activity grows on a daily and weekly basis from now through peak season in May and June, so it is a good idea to get one’s plans in place and existing properties ready to sell.

These overall numbers may not apply to all neighbourhoods, so if you would like to get an analysis done for your own property or area, feel free to give us a call or call your Realtor. 613-435-4692

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

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Key issues for Ottawa real estate 2017

6723-ptw-summer-aaaThe New Year brings optimism and while we expect another pretty good year in Ottawa real estate there are still a lot of questions and issues that will shape our marketplace and affect buying and selling plans. Here are a few we think worth watching:

Listing inventory levels:
We had a positive turnaround in 2016 with fewer new listings and total listing levels, after a couple of years of historical records and bloated excess listing inventory . This helped get the market back to a “balanced” market territory in 2016 but just barely.  Positive unit sales growth would continue this improvement but a small slip could put us back in buyer’s market territory.

Mortgage rates and qualifying rules:
While there is no reason to suspect significant change in mortgage rates, the mortgage rules and new qualifications may delay first time buyers entering the market. The 4.64% mortgage qualifying rate (vs market rates approx. 2% lower) makes the approval threshold higher for buyers and if this source of new market entrants slows, then “move up” sellers have fewer prospects for their property.  Further government moves may also impact the market.

How long does it take the average house to sell?
This is another key indicator on the health of the overall market and it has been going the wrong way for several years now. 2016 (November) year to date the average home has taken 55 days to sell and the average condo 70 days. These compare to 34 days and 27 days, as recently as 2010.
Chronic listings have taken even longer to sell and our newer indicator for CDOM (cumulative-days-on-market) currently stands at 85 days for residential and 112 days for the average condo sale.

New home construction activity and performance:
New home sales were up 15-20% during 2016 after an “off” year in 2015…will this continue? Will this cause a backlog of new home buyers with existing homes to resell thus inflating competition in the resale market?
Many of the marquis new developments are inside the Greenbelt in places like Ottawa East (Greystone), Zibi/Lebreton and Wateridge (former Rockcliffe base). Will these higher end developments draw buyers in sufficient numbers and will that impact suburban sales?
How will the condo market perform in 2017? We have no shortage of projects…are there enough buyers?
With a lot of purpose built rentals coming in the future, (i.e. Lincoln Fields/Westgate/Elmvale), will these challenge investor buyers and owners with increased competition in the rental market?

How will governments impact our market this year?
We are a government town and it is no surprise that our market perked up with the 2016 fiscal year starting in April last year. After several years in the doldrums and tight Federal spending, we had increased spending and headcount and a positive environment with the new government which contributed to improved results.

The provincial and municipal governments have been pretty supportive too; abandoning some measures (increased land transfer taxes, higher development fees) and lots of cash for major infrastructure (LRT, sewer upgrades) and general maintenance.
The Province has upped the land transfer tax rebate limit for first time buyers to $4,000 from $2,000, so that is a plus for 2017.
Will the Feds take further action nationally to attempt to “cool” the super charged Toronto/Southwestern Ontario market? Will the federal National Housing Strategy complicate the nature of local real estate?

Will the Province bring in the long awaited Home Energy Rating and Disclosure Program this year? This program will force home energy audits prior to listing a home for sale and the “energy score” will be published on MLS® listings.  This may hurt older generations of homes/homeowners and result in market challenges for these sellers.

Will ongoing increases in utility costs negatively impact some homes/properties more than others?

Higher utility costs are felt most by the 45,000 Ottawa area homes serviced by Hydro One, so will further increases impact sales for these homeowners?

Will the Province and/or the Feds follow BC’s lead and create a matching interest free loan to help first time buyers?

Will our market roar ahead to catch up with much higher price valuations in the rest of southern Ontario? Ottawa has not been participating in the house price increases of other major centres in Ontario over the last 4 or 5 years.  Could this be the year we play “catch up”?

Our take:
We don’t see a lot of new significant or contentious action from either Provincial or Federal governments, as both await the outcome of the Cap and Trade/Carbon Tax program and the host of new mortgage rules. Federal funds should continue to flow and we can see some slightly better average price increases but still probably only inflation level or slightly better.

If you do not have a Realtor helping with your buying/selling plans, now is a great time to sit down and plan, as peak season starts in only a few weeks!   If you do not have a Realtor, feel free to give us a call! 613-435-4692 or follow us on social media to keep an eye on Ottawa real estate…it should be an exciting year!

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

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@oasisrealtyOTT

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Could Ottawa real estate be poised for a breakout year in 2017?

925-plante-sold-1With renewed local confidence and lots of government activity at all levels, 2016 was a turnaround year for the local real estate market and many key indicators suggest we could be in for a great year in 2017.

Positive key indicators:
Unit sales growth:
Unit sales improved by 6.3% overall with residential sales (which is 81% of the total units) increasing by 5.5% and condos coming in with a welcome 9.6% unit sales increase to the end of November vs the year before.
New listings:
The number of new listings decreased by 7.4% in the first 11 months of 2016 and this certainly helped move the supply/demand balance closer to a balanced market and away from some historically high inventory levels (and buyer’s market conditions) 2014 and 2015.
Current listing inventory at year’s end is about as low as it has been in 4 or 5 years and this is a very positive sign, unless there is a backlog of chronic listings that sellers have carried over the winter and will relist in spring.
Builder new construction sales:
The last report we have seen suggests that builders have had a good bounce back year and have recorded a sales increase of 15-20% which is great news, although may be influenced by a larger number of new projects coming online and adding to the sales numbers.

Neutral indicators:
Overall price increases:
The average residential property sold in Ottawa through November 2016 sold for $396,700 an increase of 1.2%. The average condo sold for $260,880 virtually unchanged from 2015.  These numbers continue the trend line in our market over the last 5 years where average prices have been mostly inflationary level.  These pale compared to the price levels and average price increases which dominate the news and online media that we hear about from Toronto, Southwestern Ontario and Vancouver but is simply a sign of our stable market and the fact that real estate is very local in nature.
Sales: new listings ratio:
Our sales to new listings in Ottawa through November 2016 stand at 40.9% by our calculation which is right on the borderline between a balanced market and a buyer’s market. (40-60% is considered “balanced” with lower ratios favouring buyers and 60%+ favouring sellers) With current lower levels of listing inventory this ratio should continue to improve and provide us with balanced market conditions in 2017.

Bottom line:
We are in the best position we have been in for some time and if sales demand continues or increases, we should see another positive year in 2017, although modest price increases are still most likely.

Lots of key factors to consider and there are many reasons why 2017 would be a good year to move on your real estate plans. Stay tuned for a future post on what may shape our market in 2017 and feel free to give us a call to discuss your own housing plans, 613-435-4692 as now is a great time to get a head start on a spring or summer sale.

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

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Should other governments follow BC’s lead on first time buyer loans?

The Province of British Columbia has recently introduced a program that will provide no interest no payment loans to help first time buyers get in the market. On first glance, this seems to be an attractive program and one that helps these buyers and the real estate market as a whole…but does it really help?

How it works:
The government is promising to match down payment funds with a loan up to $18,750 with no interest or payments for 5 years. Presumably, in year 6 the buyer would start repaying this loan or 2nd mortgage in a manner similar to the Federal homebuyers plan (HBP) where a buyer repays the amount used for down payment back in to their RRSP over a maximum period of 15 years.
This certainly helps gets buyers in to homes and helps them gain that first step on the property ladder.

Does it really help the buyer or just create further debt?
Some say that these programs are useful to a degree but like any loan…eventually, it must be paid back and further indebts the borrower…so does it really help the first time buyer? In in growth market, these types of loans are usually absorbed in higher ongoing house prices and corresponding equity growth but what if market prices plateau or drop?

Does it help the market balance or simply keep the upwards pricing trajectory?
The BC market has been hit with many sources of turbulence this year and affordability is a major concern. The government clearly feels that programs like these are needed to both help buyers get in to the market and keep a source of new home owners entering the market which helps the whole market grow (or at least maintain itself). Other monetary moves have restricted new foreign buyers and affordability and new mortgage rules have pinched the supply of new buyers entering the market which combined could have a negative effect on market health.

Other circumstances being considered:
Organized real estate through its associations has been lobbying governments to both index the amount of the HBP and widen the application of RRSP funds to other life circumstances in addition to the first time buyer program. Examples include those relocating to take up employment and those who become disabled. (although other circumstances have been mentioned in the past ie divorce/separation, caring for a family member and so forth)   While one can see how these programs could be useful to the home buyer at the time…does it not simply grow indebtedness and continue the upward price cycle of housing?
The persons using the program would have further savings capabilities curtailed while they are repaying the funds used out of the Retirement funds and losing the investment and growth value also. While it certainly helps on the housing side is it a good thing for the overall investment picture and does it put too many “eggs” in the housing “basket”?

It would not be surprising to see that there may be some appetite for a BC like program in Toronto where prices are high but we’ll have to wait and see what rolls out and how the program and BC’s real estate market fares.

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

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