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

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

 

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

For one of Ottawa’s best real estate blogs: http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/
…or real estate facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/…or twitter: https://twitter.com/OasisrealtyOTT

 

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/

Quality service at lower fees equals better value!

 

 

Fed spending and headcount continue to hike home sales in Ottawa

925-plante-sold-1

…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