does low listing inventory signal even more price increases in 2019?

Listing inventory end Oct 2018

Ottawa listing inventory is a prime indicator of our seller’s market conditions this year. Chart shows the tremendous change in October month end listing inventory over the last 4-5 years. (from a buyers’ market in 2014/15)
Residential listings are currently 17.5% lower than last year, 35.5% lower than 2016 and 48.8% lower than 2015.
Condo listings are 34.5% lower than 2017, 45.5% lower than 2016 and 55.8% lower than 2015.

Why aren’t prices up even more?
Given these figures, one almost wonders why we have not seen even more upwards price pressure, with residential prices up (only) 5.7% in 2018 to $449,005 and condo selling prices overall essentially flat with an average selling price increase of only .6% to $271,350 at the end of October.

On the good news front, new listings appearing on a monthly basis are starting to level off somewhat, so the listing inventory situation does not appear to be getting any worse.  Many buyers however, are finding it very difficult to find and secure the property they want.  Low listings and quicker selling times have resulted in more multiple offers which typically generate a selling price above the listing price.

Now is great time to be planning a purchase or sale for 2019, as one can only see more scarcity and perhaps even higher prices in 2019.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record

Oasis Realty Brokerage  613-435-4692

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Trends in legal services for real estate closings

Lawyers play a critically important role in closing real estate transactions and providing advice to buyers and sellers along the way.  At a recent legal seminar presented by Mark Weisleder of realestatelawyers.ca, we got a short update on several new trends in the closing process that are focused on making life simpler for both consumers and realtors.

Some lawyers will now come to you:
There are more than one lawyer around offering mobile services but it is certainly a great option for many buyers and sellers.  Having the lawyer (or representative) come to your office or home can be a time saver and very convenient.

Electronic funds transfer:
Lawyers can now do electronic funds transfer more readily in both accepting deposits and closing funds plus disbursing proceeds.  Super time saver for all concerned.  Saves trips to banks for certified cheques or bank drafts.

In the case of realtors, we receive commission funds immediately upon closing, along with notification that the deal has actually closed.  Age old system has relied upon lawyers mailing a commission cheque upon closing and the listing agent brokerage processing that cheque through their own banking network, while also cutting a paper cheque to the co-operating brokerage. Sellers of course, had to make another trip to the lawyers’ office to pick up a cheque for any net proceeds of their sale.

Multi-site closing locations:
Though interaction is minimal on real estate closings (1-2 meetings) many lawyers are now offering closing services in multiple locations across the city (or in the case of realestatelawyers.ca, at 35 locations across the Province)

House Key Management:
A cute and interesting timesaver for buyers and sellers, is that realestatelawyers.ca provides a lockbox to a seller which they install on or before closing day with a set of keys inside.  Once the transaction has closed, the sellers’ lawyer provides the lockbox code to the buyer and their lawyer and the buyer can gain immediate access to the property without having to drive to the sellers’ lawyers’ office or other physical location to pick up the keys.  The lockbox is gifted to the buyer, thus saving the necessity of a representative returning to the property to retrieve it.

Condo Status documentation package available electronically or on a rush basis:
Condo status certificate review is a critical function of a lawyer on a condo purchase.  Property Management companies have 10 days by law to produce these docs for a lawyer representing a buyer at a fee of approximately $100.  This is typically quite a pile of legal docs and schedules that have been photocopied numerous times but finally, these are being made available electronically.  (although most here in Ottawa still seem to require paper and a physical pick up or courier charge to get these to the buyer’s lawyer.

The 10 day allowable timeline for Property managers to produce the docs (though most are done within 5 business days) does drag out the conditional sales period for a condo sale.  This is not advantageous for a seller, as their property is pretty much “off the market” or suspended while awaiting these condo docs. Many property managers will provide an expedited service (24-48 hours) for double the typical fee (ie. Therefore $200) which becomes the buyer expense.

Condo docs good for 90 days:
We think a better idea all around, is for sellers to order the condo Status documentation package at time of listing and make it available to buyers and their agents to review when in advance of making an offer to purchase and thus shortening the need for an extended conditional period.  These are normally 5-7 business days for residential properties and 10 business days for condos. Condo status document packages are good for legal purposes for 90 days from date of issue, so as long as closing is within 90 days of the package date, they are very useful.

Multiple offers:
Having condo docs immediately available greatly facilitates multiple offers.  In Toronto, approximately 50% of sellers invest in condo doc package at time of listing, although it is still fairly rare here in Ottawa.  Some are doing it but probably less than 5%.  This is an idea worth pursuing for anyone selling a condo.  Buyers will want to make arrangements with their lawyer to review these docs ahead of making a purchase, as what is contained in those docs may determine whether or how much they wish to offer for the condo.

Fees and Disbursements:
A reminder for both sellers and buyers to be sure to ask for the cost of legal fees (the lawyer fees)  and disbursements necessary to process a specific transaction.  These fees include land transfer tax, mortgage registration, title insurance, courier fees, govt fees and other services necessary to complete a transaction.

Fees are usually slightly higher for a buyer than a seller. (+$200)

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
Ottawa 613-435-4692

oasisrealty@rogers.com  oasisrealtyottawa.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

how does cannabis smoke affect home sellers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
oasisrealty@rogers.com
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Know condo rules before listing

We recently ran in to an issue with a condo and a fairly cranky Property Manager.(at least initially) We had agreed with the seller that based on the location of the townhouse condo, it made good marketing sense to have 2 sets of “For Sale” signs; one right in front of the unit itself and the other at the entrance off the main road.

Immediate removal and repair of “damage”!
Little did we know that the condo had restrictions on where signage could be placed and both of our signs were inappropriate and required immediate removal or repositioning.
The condo limits the location of real estate signage to one small grassy area at the far end of the development from our listed property, so with the clients help we removed the incorrect signage and reinstalled the other one appropriately.

Why do condos have such rules?
The principal reason is to facilitate grass cutting, snow removal and other maintenance and perhaps cluttering up the common areas is an issue, too. (we would probably ban signage altogether but that is a topic for another day)

Mea culpa:
The Property Manager was 100% correct in saying that we either should have known or should have checked prior to installing our signs, so this is a good tip for both sellers and realtors when listing condos. Though not justification, in our defence:  the seller was a new owner who had just purchased the property for renovation and resale purposes and we had not listed a property in this complex for some time, if ever.

Also, we had seen at least one other sign in place in front of another unit listed when our client originally purchased the property, so perhaps that influenced our thinking.

Other condo restrictions:
Lockboxes:
Placement and duration of lockboxes at condo apartment complexes is an ongoing issue for property managers and realtors alike. Take a look around at the proliferation of lockboxes on railings near condo entrances in larger complexes and just think: what could go wrong?

Parking restrictions:
there may be parking limitations or restrictions that make it difficult for realtor showings and open houses

Security matters:
security may also play a role in limiting access, particularly for open houses, as some condos require visitors to be escorted, once inside the building.

Open Houses and signage:
there may be specific regulations aimed at Open Houses and open house signage which owners and realtors should know and support.

In building marketing or posting of flyers or promotional material:
I have seen marketing information posted on condo bulletin boards and also seen flyers dropped outside unit doors. Most condos will have some kind of guidelines for such practices.

Every condo is different:
Also remember that every condo is different and may have varying rules and restrictions, depending on ownership and Board wishes.

A word about property and building managers:
Property managers and in-building managers are very important resources for condo owners and realtors alike. They can be invaluable assets and sources of information and provide critical services, so it is always best to have a good relationship with them.  So do everyone a favour and make sure to check out all condo rules, policies and procedures to facilitate the listing, marketing and sale of your condo property.

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

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11th year in business as a full service lower commission brokerage

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

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Is buying an Ottawa property for a visiting student a good idea?

Over the years we have assisted many out of town buyers looking to purchase homes or condos to provide housing for their children who are coming to Ottawa to attend one of our large and growing post-secondary colleges or universities.

With limited on campus residences and cost factors in mind, many parents have bought apartments, townhomes or homes to accommodate student needs and also as an investment or cost offset.

Many have successfully bought and then sold several years later and either made some money or minimized the cost of accommodating the student during their years here in Ottawa.

Once a “slam dunk”….
For most of the new millennium, this practice has been pretty positive, particularly for those who have rented out rooms to other students as well as their own children and those parents who have more than one child who will be living in Ottawa during the same period.

Now that we are in a period where prices have not been advancing at 5%-7+ annually, as they did during the 2000-2011 timeframe, this practice is no longer the “slam dunk” it was for many parents. We recently completed a sale for an out of town family who bought in 2010 in a strong seller’s market and were able to sell in 2015 but only appreciated a very small increase in the price of the property from what they had paid 5 years earlier. While this was disappointing, these owners had kept the property well rented out to other students during the 5 years of ownership and therefore, still came out pretty well financially, despite the limited uptick in the value of the property.

Do you want your university age child to bear the burden of ownership and property management?
Some out of town parents may not wish to burden their children with the responsibilities of managing and maintaining the property; collecting rent, divvying up utility costs, being a disciplinarian and so forth, in addition to their school work and perhaps part time job. Other parents may deem this a good “learning experience” and see it is as an opportunity.

Many factors to consider:
Those considering the purchase of such a property here in Ottawa should carefully research all financial factors in buying and selling in a remote city and the best source of information is a local Realtor who can assist with competitive issues, neighbourhood choice, property choice, local rules, buying and selling costs and so forth. This practice is certainly no longer a “slam dunk” in our  market and should not be carefully researched with local professionals.

For more information or to discuss particular circumstances, feel free to give us a call if you are not already working with another Realtor.

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

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