When should I list my Ottawa home or condo? (part 2)

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Should I wait until summer to list my house?

This is a question we often hear and the answer depends on the individual homeowner circumstances and objectives. Quite often the “best time to list” discussion is determined by other factors but here are a few items to consider in a listing and timing strategy:

Spring is King:
The April through June period is by far our busiest sales time here in Ottawa and our ratio of new listings to sales is also strongest during these months. Competition is also the heaviest then as well, so sellers with overpriced listings may not realize it until it is too late to react to market feedback.

February-March are great lead in months:
Open houses are full of buyers in February and March, so this can be a good time to be listing also.  If buyer feedback suggests listing tweaks there is time to adjust before peak sales season.

Don’t avoid listing in Summer!
Contrary to real estate myth, the 2nd best selling season is July-September based on monthly sales.  While one often hears that “real estate is dead” in the summer and “things pick up in the Fall/after Labour Day” this is totally inaccurate when one looks at monthly unit sales history.  So don’t avoid listing in July or August, because of this Realtor equivalent of an old wives tale.

Listing timeline most often tied to purchase:
Quite often the listing timelines are dictated by when one can find their “dream home”. This can rarely be preplanned, as it is subject to the whim of what becomes available on the market and a buyer being able to successfully secure a purchase on that property.
A key issue in the purchase of a property is always the sellers’ timeline and desired closing date, so one cannot always pick when their new home will be available.

Resale property vs new construction:
Resale properties are typically available within a 45-60 closing time frame. New construction is typically much longer (except for inventory homes or model home sales) with 4-6 month lead times or longer.  This can especially complicate listing timing for a new built home that is going to close in January-March which means selling an existing home later in the year which is the slower time for the resale market.

How long will it take to sell my existing property?
Most are enthusiastic and assume their palace will sell very quickly and at the price they expect and plan for. This is quite often not the case, unfortunately.  Just over 40% of new listings sold on the Ottawa real estate board during 2016-so a fast sale is by no means guaranteed.  In fact, the average residential property took 56 days on the market to sell in 2016 and the average condo 70 days.

What are the competitive issues that will affect my sale?
The level of competitive listing activity from resale homes and new construction will vary by area and time of year but obviously have a huge effect on when and whether to list. Overall inventory levels have come down quite a bit over the last year, so this may be a pretty good year to list compared to previous years, assuming we continue to see the slightly better demand level we experienced in 2016.

Can I list my property now for a closing in 6 or 8 months?
Most resale properties close within 45-90 days of a sale on average, so by trying to listing for a much longer closing, one is decreasing the number of potential buyers and hence demand and possibly market value.

How do I “time” the market?
If peak sales are April-June, does this mean one should list in April? Or get a head start by listing in March?  Most properties look their best in mid-May or June, once leaves are back on the trees and gardens start to bloom, but is this too late to be listing?
If one thinks in competitive terms: the first person to list has the advantage of being available to buyers in the market at that time but also has the disadvantage that those listing later will be able to price their listings knowing the listing price of the earlier listing.

Do I sell first or buy first?
Age old question which varies with buyer circumstances and both have their pros and cons.  A high % of buyers with existing homes typically find their new dream home first and then put the existing property on the market but it is not unusual for someone to sell first, particularly if planning to buy in a high neighbourhood.

Bottom Line:
There are many factors which affect the timing and marketing of a property and a Realtor is best equipped to consult on all factors specific to an individual property and neighbourhood.

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/

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/

A full service, boutique brokerage with lower listing fees

When is the best time to list my Ottawa property?

Here is a chart we have compiled from monthly Ottawa real estate board published unit sales results (residential and condo property unit sales/month) for the last 5 years. This demonstrates a pretty consistent annual pattern in the Ottawa market.

Spring is key:
April through June are typically our peak sales months and this will come as no surprise for most. Government employees are relocating and families looking for a summer closing and move before the next school year, give this season a major boost.  Each year Ottawa real estate handles some 800-1000 moves in to town by government personnel with an equal number moving away from Ottawa.  The highest % of these are military and RCMP relocations.

Summer surprisingly strong:
There is a significant myth that “real estate is dead in summer” and this table shows this is totally incorrect! July and August are typically the 4th and 5th busiest sales months of the year, so those who “wait until the market picks up in the Fall” are really doing themselves a disservice.

March, September and October:
These are “shoulder” or transition sales months. March activity is increasing for the busy spring and September and October are marked by erosion of peak demand heading in to the slower fall and winter season.

November-February:
Ottawa sales take a breather, as fewer people want to move during the winter time and seasonal vacations, holiday activity and weather all play a role in making house buying not quite as active. A lot of planning and preparation for the peak season can be done during January and February, so still an active period-just not as many sales.

Personal Objectives most important:
What dictates selling or buying times is often based on a specific property being available and this then drives the sale of an existing home. Those with homes to sell will want to consider their buying and closing timelines in a way that optimizes selling an existing property if at all possible. For example, buying a new home that closes in February means one is selling an existing property in late fall in order to co-ordinate the new home purchase.  This however, is not the best-selling market for the existing property-so the seller will have to take this in to account when doing their pricing and listing plans.

When will my property show best?
Most properties will not show their best until mid-May when leaves are on the trees and everything has “greened up”, so some may wish to time their listing (and photo) plans accordingly. For example, a house with a pool will look much more inviting when the pool is open and warmer temperatures occur.

Is my property ready to list?
It can take longer than one thinks to get a property in HGTV condition for listing and selling, so this must be planned in to the listing cycle.

Competition also a factor:
The quality and number of head to head competitors to the property being sold (both new and resale) also factors in to the timing decision.

How long will it take my property to sell?
Sellers will have to factor in both selling and closing time in to the planning timeline and these can vary widely by location, price point and property type.

Bottom line:
There are a lot of variables to be considering in the listing, marketing and selling process and your Realtor is best equipped to help facilitate the process and optimize results based on all these factors. If one is planning a purchase or sale this year, January and February are the ideal months to sit down and have a planning discussion with your Realtor and any other key 3rd parties ie mortgage broker, stager, trades people.

If you are not already working with another Realtor, we are happy to provide a no cost, no obligation market evaluation of your property to help you with your real estate objectives.

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/

Fed/Brookfield IRP contract cuts Realtor commission to 3.7%

for-sale…does this cause a risk to those selling to relocate?

The federal government is cutting commission rates for Realtor services on the National Integrated Relocation contract (IRP) and Ontario Realtors will share a total of 3.7% for listing and selling a relocating government employee’s home, as of January 1, 2017. (down from the previous rate of 4.1%)

While some will cheer the move, it may not be quite so popular with relocating employees if they see a decrease in service levels or lower buyer agent interest in their listings, due to the lower compensation offered.

What are typical real estate commissions?
In Ottawa, typical commissions remain around 5%* with 2.5% going to the listing sales person and brokerage and 2.5% going to the agent and brokerage that represent the buyer. Commissions are highly competitive and are open to negotiation but most typical fees will be in this general area.* commissions are negotiable and can vary by the individual salesperson or broker and many do charge less, including Oasis Realty.

How does it work with the Federal relocation contract?
Brookfield Relocation Services (affiliated with the parent company of Royal Lepage real estate) manages the federal government Integrated Relocation Program (IRP) nationally and has done for many years. Just a few years ago, this program paid Ottawa Realtors 5% with the usual 2.5%/2.5% split.  On the last contract this dropped to 4.1%, with listing and buyer agents each receiving 2.05% over the last few years. (a decrease of 18%)

With the new fee/compensation structure coming January 1st at 3.7%, the listing representative and buyer representative will each receive 1.85%, if the 50/50 split continues (a further decrease of 9.7%)

Toronto is not Ontario and real estate is “local”:
We are not sure how these fees are established or negotiated but we strongly believe that “one size does not fit all” in real estate fees and by having one set fee for all of Ontario, this does not take in to account the vast regional and local differences. Toronto is its own market, as is Ottawa.  Smaller but important centres for Federal employees such as Trenton, Petawawa etc. may have an even bigger problem if their local prices and volume of transactions normally requires 6% fees to support.

While Toronto prices have continued on the elevator ride up to atmospheric levels, our prices in Ottawa have certainly not followed suit and even this year with solid unit sales our average prices continue to be pretty flat and at or below inflation level. So Realtors are not making up the difference in the average price of houses being sold here, as they might be in Toronto.

What risks might a relocating government seller be facing?
1) fewer Realtors may be interested in listing properties on the program, given the compensation level.
2) Realtors may also ask employees to “top up” the government paid fees, so they can achieve their usual %. This happens regularly today with those selling or buying a private listing or FSBO where a significantly lower commission rate is offered to a buyer representative.  The standard Buyer Representation Agreement signed by most buyers provides for the buyer paying incremental Realtor commission if the seller does not pay an agreed upon fee level ie 2.5%.
3) If one believes that Realtors are significantly “coin operated” then sellers may also see less interest from buyer agents in their properties, as those representatives may favour properties where the buyer representative commission is more robust. Getting paid 27.7% more on property “B” than government listed property “A” is a pretty compelling advantage.  This amounts to about $2,600 on the average $400K sale or purchase.
4) Listing agents will certainly have less budget monies for advertising and other costs to support their government listings when one considers they are also splitting commissions with their brokerage.
5) properties may take longer to sell if satisfactory “full commission” alternatives are available.

Bottom line:
Government employee sales will continue but there may be a few service wrinkles given the now “discount” fees being paid by the Federal government.

This commission change was hotly debated on a Realtor forum late in 2016, before the Board moderator cut off discussion on the issue, so there are clearly many who feel that this lower rate combined with their brokerage splits, dues/fees and other expenses makes this business less viable for them.

Oasis Realty Enhanced IRP Listing offer for government sellers!

We will offer a 2.5% co-operating buyer representative rate out of the 3.7% contract commission and this will ensure that the listing is on competitive ground with other listings in the area.  Since all Realtors can manage with a 2.5% buyer rep commission there is zero worry for the seller!
Any relocating government employee who has concerns should know we have a program that will totally eliminate any potential risk and in fact, will help make their property even more attractive. For details on our program or for a no cost, no obligation evaluation of your property, please give us a call at 613-435-4692 (not intended to solicit those with existing representation agreements)

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
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/

 

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

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

@oasisrealtyOTT

http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/

Seller tips for winter showings in Ottawa

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Selling in Winter?

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

  1. Please shovel the drive, 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Please make sure there are ample floor mats and boot trays to accommodate visitor footwear, especially for Open Houses.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Minimize distractions:  we don’t need cooking smells, music, vanilla on the stove, excessive air or carpet deodorant, personal photos, etc.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. No smoking…even in the garage!
  15.  don’t run dishwasher or laundry when showings are scheduled.

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

 

Selling in December: …how do I handle Christmas decorating?

When I’m selling in December…should I decorate my home?
Perhaps not the biggest question sellers and their Realtors may have on their minds late in the year but one that warrants some consideration. Christmas is an important time of the year for many of us and a big part of the excitement is decorating the home as part of the seasonal celebrations.  So if my property is still going to be listed for sale…does this change how I choose to decorate?
Bah, humbug!…don’t decorate at all!
One school of thought might be that one should not decorate at all and let buyers see the property without all the distraction that could be associated with Christmas décor.  This argument would also suggest that adding decorations personalizes the home and may detract from the overall space.
To tree or not to tree?
Christmas trees may be an important centre piece in one’s seasonal decorations; should we forego the Christmas tree this selling season?  Trees take up a lot of space and also could be quite a distraction for visitors.  While it is one’s prerogative to “tree or not to tree”, we think smaller homes and condos may show best without a Christmas tree or opt for a very small or table top sized version.
“It’s our last Christmas here…”
There is a lot of sentiment around the Holiday season and if it won’t feel like Christmas without the tree and all the trimmings then by all means “go for it”.
Withdraw or suspend listing or restrict showings:
A compromise solution might be that one either temporarily withdraws the listing from MLS® or introduces some showing restrictions during the Christmas season.  (Your Realtor has forms for doing this.)
Bottom line:
Homeowners make their own choices of course and as Realtors we also encourage sellers to balance the listing needs with their own, as they still are living in the home and should not feel that they are in some sterile environment which is void of any personal touches.  We would generally suggest that a “lite” version of one’s typical seasonal decoration is the best way to strike a compromise.
Merry Christmas and Happy selling!
Dawn Davey, Broker
Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692
oasisrealty@rogers.com  www.oasisrealtyottawa.com
@oasisrealtyOTT

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Fed spending and headcount continue to hike home sales in Ottawa

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…overall prices though…not so much!

October 2016 yielded another pretty good month in Ottawa real estate, buoyed by continued growth in Federal government headcount and spending. Sales were positive in the month of October with new home sales and condo’s leading the way.

New home sales up 18.5% year-to-date:
The new home segment has seen a major surge this year and that is good news for builders. Some of these sales may challenge the resale market which is pretty flat in average price this year, although the number residential units sold is up 6.0% so far this year. Average selling prices are ahead only .9% overall for residential at $396,109.

Condo sales much better this year, up 9.1%
Condo sales on MLS® (which also includes some new construction sales but not all) where up a whopping 27.2% in October and are showing a 9.1% increase year-to-date but average prices are again pretty flat with the average price sold at $259,925 unchanged.

Listing inventory pullback has helped the market:
The number of new listings this year is down by about 7% overall and current inventories show the number of residential listings down 16.7% at the end of October and condo listings down 14.1%.   Rental listings were also down by 28.9% at month’s end.
This has moved us away from some very high listing inventory levels experienced over 2014 and 2015 and keeps us in a much more balanced market.

How long does it take a property to sell in Ottawa?
Our days-on-market to sell the average property has increased slightly to 58 days for residential properties (up from 55) and 73 days for the average condo (up from 68 days last year). This is a key statistic for those considering a sale to study in detail for their own area, as it is critical in assessing both marketing timelines and listing pricing.  A Realtor can provide up to date and detailed information in this regard.

Most popular pricing categories:
The $300,000 to $400,000 price category is the most active/popular range, followed closely by the $200,000-$300,000 price category.
Overall, 80% of residential sales in Ottawa are done at lower than $500,000 and 75%+ of condo sales are done at less than $300,000. These types of ratios are important for sellers to consider when listing, as it determines the size of the potential market for their property.

What’s next?
We are entering the quieter period for real estate in Ottawa and while sales should continue strong vs previous years, the months of November-February are our 4 slowest months of the year. Sellers will want to carefully review pricing and competitive factors prior to listing their property for sale during this period.

Now may be best time to buy new construction for 2017 delivery:
Buying new construction may be optimal at this time of year for closings in summer 2017, as those with existing homes to sell, will be able to sell in the busy spring market.
First time buyers will have more months to save and also possibly be able to use their 2016 tax year RRSP contribution for their down payment, in addition to getting the 2016 tax break.

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