Why the seller or listing agent should order the Condo Status certificate package

Condo status certificate should be available at listing time

What is the condo status certificate?
This is a package of information which contains extensive detail on the legal description, governance, policies and finances of a specific condominium corporation.  It is prepared by the Condominium Property Manager and is a snapshot at a certain point in time, meant to provide pertinent details to a potential buyer and their lawyer, concerning that condo and the unit being purchased.

What is the critical information contained in the package?
All of the information is important but the key things include the Declaration which details the legal description and governance rules under which the condo was created.  The budgets and status of the reserve fund are very important, as is whether there are any pending lawsuits or special assessments.  Condo rules and policies are critical, too.  Ie if an investor wants to rent out a unit, they will need to know what rules are in place. Ie short term rentals may be ruled out thus Airbnb or other short term rentals may be excluded.

What is the typical review process?
These are normally ordered from the Property Manager by the buyer’s lawyer, once a conditional sale has been agreed between buyer and seller.  The Property Manager has 10 business days to update/research and produce the package and make it available for buyer and lawyer review. Normally, this gets done in 5-7 days and some Property Managers also offer an expedited service for a higher fee.  Normal fee for the package is $100 and we have been quoted up to $200 for expedited service.  The lawyer pays this and the delivery charge and gets reimbursed by the buyer.

The lawyer then reviews the package and highlights any unusual circumstances for the buyer and answers any specific buyer questions.

What’s wrong with this process?

Lost buyers and time lag:
Often there can be information contained in the Status package that may cause a buyer to rethink their interest in the unit or the price they might be prepared to pay for it.  If this is so, the buyer may walk from the deal and the unit remains unsold.  Other interested buyers may have moved on by this point and be lost to the seller as prospective buyers, especially given the lag time between the agreement and buyer and lawyer review of the status package which is typically 7 or 8 days after agreement.

Buyer feels committed to purchase at time of agreement:
There is also a psychological tendency for buyers to want to complete a deal once it has been made and they often do not pay enough attention post agreement to details which may deter them from completing the deal.  For this same reason, there is a “cooling off” for new construction condo purchases (often sold in high pressure, if not timeshare manner) while buyers and hopefully, their lawyers review all the detailed information in the new construction or pre-construction condo.
Disclosure package. Unfortunately, in the case of resale condos, the seller pays a big price should the buyer get cold feet while awaiting the condo package.

Sale falling through delays seller plans and may leave a stigma:
When a conditional sale falls through, it listing gets put back on the active market but this takes some time and there may be a question mark or stigma attached to the listing.  Other buyers and their Realtor will be asking: why did that sale fall through?  Is there something wrong with the property? Something come up on inspection? Something in the condo docs?

Best practices recommendation:
The seller or listing agent should order and pay for the condo docs (currently, this done by the buyer’s lawyer or agent) , so they are available at time of listing for interested parties to peruse prior to making an offer to purchase.  If this is done the buyer, their agent and lawyer can clarify any details in the condo documents and make a better informed purchase decision.  This is guaranteed to help minimize the number of sales that are currently falling through (which are at an all-time high, 10-15% in our opinion) and potentially set up a multiple offer situation for a condo seller.

$100 seems like a pretty inexpensive way to do all the above, don’t you think?

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

If you have any comments on this post or any other real estate matter, feel free to indicate below!

 

 

Should showings continue after a conditional sale?

What’s the point?  If it’s already sold….

Sellers can be excused for not really wanting to continue with additional showings after agreeing a conditional sale with a buyer.  It is understandable that sellers might wish to take a breather, after all the preparations for listing the property and the rush and stress of the initial deluge of showings.

Buyers, too, generally have little enthusiasm for a property that appears to be already “spoken for” by another buyer.  After all, why get all excited about the property, when another buyer is in control of that property during the conditional period.  Many buyers are afraid that they will be disappointed after seeing the “one that got away”

Even buyer representatives can be somewhat reticent about investing time in showing a property that their buyer’s cannot buy.

For the above reasons and more, the number of showings on properties with conditional sales in place drops 90% or more.

…but what if the conditional sale does not “firm up”?

10-15% of conditional sales are falling through in our current market!
Given the current seller’s market conditions, extremely low listing inventory, offer dates and multiple offers, many more conditional sales are falling through than is usually the case.  Historically, conditional sales don’t complete only about 5% of the time but over the last 18-24 months this figure has grown to the point where as many as 10-15% of conditional sales are falling through! See the number of properties shown as being ” back on market”  in this recent 7 day snapshot from our Realtor dashboard.

See a previous post on why sales fall through here: http://blog.oasisrealtyottawa.com/conditional-sales-falling-like-autumn-leaves/

Property effectively “off the market”
Sellers will have missed buyers during the conditional sales period and there can be a bit of a stigma associated with a sale falling through.   Some buyers and their agents may wonder if there was some issue around inspection that surfaced to kill the previous deal, for example.

Both buyers and sellers should pursue showings:
A buyer may get a “leg up” on a such a property, should it fall through, as many buyers will have moved on and not be in a position to quickly get in to see the property, once it shows up as “back-on-the-market”  An aggressive buyer (and agent) may even want to submit an offer to show the seller their level of interest and if anything happens with the original buyer, they are then in a position to control the property. (still not a high % play, but if it is the “right” property, it may be worth the time investment.)

Sellers: be open to showings and keep the property readily available and accessible. 
We had an interesting experience recently where we booked a showing on a property that had been conditionally sold to find that snow had not been shovelled and the property was not accessible or safe for viewing.  Surprisingly enough, the conditional sale on that property fell through and it was back on the market a few days later. Also no surprise: our buyers had moved on a purchased something else in the meantime.

So while it is normal to lose interest in doing showings post conditional sale, all parties are best to remember “it’s not over ‘til it’s over!

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692              oasisrealtyottawa.com

 

4 hidden MLS listing sections buyers and sellers don’t get to see

Our MLS listings are very detailed and provide lots of opportunity for complete disclosure of information that is pertinent to buyers.  Like all things however, the quality of the listing is only as good as the quality of data input by the individual Realtor.  Also, a lot of brokerages don’t do a terrific job of oversight or quality control on their listings but this is a matter for another post.

What we do wish to discuss here, are the sections of the listing that can be very useful for a buyer to know and can also be critical to the success of the listing, as well as the buyer purchasing decision.

Here are some of the key sections of the listings that buyers don’t see:

Realtor remarks:
This short section allows the listing agent to detail ancillary information like listing conditions, closing date preferences, utility costs, special instructions, special assessments, rental items or lease obligations or other notes that are generally directed to the Realtor members but almost always are pertinent for buyers as well.

CTSO:
This is the acronym for “Commission-to-selling-office”.  This is critically important and both buyers and sellers should know what is contained in this small section.  This section tells the buyer agents what % commission is being offered on the listed property and may be the most important hidden section of all, since it speaks to compensation.

Many sellers don’t understand what is posted there for their listing and what effect it may have on a buyer agent’s enthusiasm for that listing.  Also, FSBO sites or “mere posting”   listings often show $.01 in this field with instructions in the Realtor remarks to contact the seller directly to understand what commission they are offering or not.

Buyers need to know what is shown in this section, as they may be liable to pay directly any difference between their contracted commission rate in their Buyer Representation Agreement and that offered by the specific listing.  While most commission rates to the selling office are 2.5%, they can vary widely.  Government relocations for example may be seen at only 1.85%.  Some brokerages offer 2, some 2.25 and some do a flat fee  commission amount for as little as a $3,000 commission to the buyer brokerage and representative.

Sales History:
The sales history section of the listing is very critical for buyers to see (and also sellers, prior to listing time) as this documents the current sales activity and most previous MLS® listing history.  It can be useful for buyers to know how long the property has been on the market and also what the previous sales timelines and results were.  For example, if a property had some kind of stigma, unique feature or location disadvantage and it took a long time to sell during previous listings, the odds are the same will be true again.  This buyer should try to remember this when calculating an offer price and also remember it in future when their turn comes to sell the property.

Noting when price changes or conditional sales have occurred is also relevant information contained in this area.

Listing attachments:
Our Realtor system has a feature that allows us to any number of attachments to the listing to provide further information such as floor plans, surveys, lease agreements, work orders, permits, upgrade lists, pre-listing home inspections, property appraisals, tax bills, maintenance records/history or any other pertinent record that helps the buyer representative better explain the home features and history to the prospective buyer.

This attachment field is not as well used as it might be, but more and more we are seeing useful and detailed information being added by the most conscientious and professional listing agents.

Both buyers and sellers should be asking their respective agents if there is pertinent information in any of these fields that are pertinent to their decision making.

Follow us on social media for more buying and selling tips and news on Ottawa real estate.  https://www.facebook.com/oasisrealtyottawa/  @OasisrealtyOTT

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

Listing strategy and tough seller decisions for 2019

when is the best time to list my property?

While our Ottawa market has been favouring sellers for a year or two now, they still have a lot of important decisions to make in arriving at their listing and marketing strategy for a successful sale and maximizing the equity from their property.  Here are a list of items we think sellers will wish to consider:

When do I list my property?
Always a critical question, of course and one mostly determined by where one is moving and how long a current property may take to list, sell and close.
Our 3 biggest sales months of the year are typically April (#3), May #1 and June #2 which many sellers consider as the best time to sell.  Given our current low listing inventory situation, however, just about any time is probably OK for most properties.

How long will my property take to sell?
Days on market has improved with our strong market and most midrange properties should sell in approximately 30 days (or less!) and close in 45 to 60 days, although this varies with every property, buyer and seller.

MLS® listing or “exclusive” listing?
The best exposure to the most buyers is always via a full service MLS® listing that is exposed widely to all Realtors and their buyers through the MLS® ecosystem, especially realtor.ca. Some Realtors are plugging an “exclusive” listing strategy which has its purposes but is not as widely seen and generally not as effective for a seller in maximizing their marketing opportunity.

Pre-market via use of a “Coming Soon” sign on my lawn?
These signs have become quite prevalent, as listing agents seek to both do advance marketing and try to prospect for new clients via this grey marketing of listings that are not widely published via the MLS® system.  Though there are some legitimate uses for such a strategy, in most cases we think is more to the listing agent benefit than that of the seller.

Do I hold back offers until a certain date?
A very common strategy is to hold back offers during the first week or so a property is listed.  This gives as many buyers as possible the opportunity to view the listing in person and determine if they wish to submit an offer.  Multiple offers generally means the best market selling price available at the time but sellers may lose some buyers as a result.

Some buyers are not interested in the multiple offer process which can be stressful and seem like an auction.  Military or out of town buyers may not have the time to wait around until a seller offer date, as they are on tight timelines to identify and purchase a property, so one will lose most of these buyers by holding back offers.

What about a “bully” offer?
A “bully” offer is one that is submitted during the offer holdback period.  Such offers are typically very strong offers and also call for an immediate decision by the seller.  Tough call for sellers to make, as this buyer may come back on offer day or they may move on to the next property on their list instead and a seller may or may not get as good an offer come offer night.

Do I need to have an Open House in this market?
We suspect the number of open houses is way down these days, as properties sell quickly.  An occasional open house may still be useful for that casual buyer who is not working with a Realtor or the “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it-buyer”

How much commission should I pay?
There are two important components here: one is total commission to be paid but also the split between listing agent/brokerage and buyer agent/brokerage.  Sellers should understand both carefully, as there are a number of commission plans out there that may offer an attractive lower commission rate but also restrict the amount of commission being offered to the buyer representative and brokerage which may impact the interest level around that listing.

We are able to offer significantly lower commission costs than almost all other realtors, due to our status as an independent non franchise brokerage with less overhead to cover.  Give us a call and we can discuss your plans and how we can optimize your marketing opportunity and transaction costs.

 

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

Key questions for Ottawa real estate 2019

Will mortgage rates continue to rise?
Rates have been creeping up but it is hard to say what we may see in 2019.  Another .25% probably wouldn’t hurt the real estate market too much but anything beyond that will certainly have an impact, when one also considers the mortgage stress test provisions.

 

Will listing inventory stabilize/improve?
We have seen very low listing inventory conditions throughout 2018, making life difficult for buyers and their agents.  Will this continue in 2019?  The number of new listings has flattening out somewhat in latter 2018 so we are not falling further behind on listing inventory but this will continue to be a critical factor.

Builders have had very strong sales in both 2017 and 2018, so it is possible there may be a backlog of resale properties to hit the market, once these new home (or condo) buyers are getting closer to taking possession of their new properties.

At what pace will prices grow in 2019?
If there was an anomaly in our market in 2018 it is the fact that resale prices did not increase as much as they might have, given the low listing inventory and supply/demand imbalance in favour of sellers.  The average residential selling price was up 5.1% to $446,415 through the end of November and the average condo sold for $278,330, up 2.8% vs last year.  Nice improvement but not the runaway sellers’ market some of the headlines would suggest has been occurring.  It is possible that the balance of sale % shifted towards lower price condos and townhomes which could have the effect of buffering overall % selling price increases.

What government action could impact our market this year?
Potentially long list here, with a Federal Government election pending, a new Provincial government in Toronto and a new city council in Ottawa.

Ottawa employment and general economic activity should be pretty stable with the current government or a minority government post-election but all bets are off, if a fiscally conservative government gets elected on a promise to balance the Federal books.  This would result in Ottawa government and private sector job losses and would chill the housing market.

Our biggest concern is what the Provincial government may do in terms of downloading, should Premier Ford decide it necessary to try and get the disastrous Provincial books in order.  Delays or cancellations to funding big projects like LRT2 or other infrastructure projects (Civic Hospital, Library) all could take a bite from the local economy.

Is MLTT coming this year?  We are fully expecting that at some time in the next couple of years, the City will join Toronto in the implementation of the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT), as this would add up to $150 million annually to the city tax revenues, without impacting most taxpayers.  Since only 5 or 6% of homeowners buy or sell each year, it is almost the perfect tax, since those not concerned with buying or selling are less likely to get hot and bothered over this type of tax.  The impact of an MLTT would be pretty significant for a buyer:  on an average residential property this would mean an additional Land Transfer tax (on top of the existing Provincial amount) which would total $10,950 for the buyer of the average $450,000 property and $18,950 for the buyer of a $650,000.

This tax has been in place in Toronto for almost a decade now, without destroying the Toronto real estate market and generating something like $800M a year in tax revenue, so don’t be surprised if this is coming our way!  When you think about it, the revenue from such a tax would almost be enough to be able to offer free transit or at the very least, half price transit which would help boost declining ridership.

Will LRT be a success?
The long awaited LRT will be pretty exciting but also nerve wracking in 2019. How well the system launches and is accepted by commuters will have an impact on the “transit oriented development” meme and developer plans/timing to populate high density condos and rentals along the transit route.  If we don’t see ridership meet projections then many things could change or be delayed.

What now for Lebreton?
The recent gyrations at Lebreton Flats and the poor sales to date at Zibi, may simply be indicative of the market overall appetite for high end urban condos but there is no question that the recent “failure to launch” will slow sales of any project in that immediate area.  After all:  who wants to plunk down a pile of dough for a condo that may get built in 3 or 4 years, next to you-don’t-know-what?  We think most consumers (and their realtors) will be hesitant to jump headlong in to pre-construction purchases, given the Lebreton saga and current status.  Unfortunately, we can’t expect the Feds to be too engaged on this file going in to an election, especially with a new Chairman at the helm of the NCC.

Bottom line:
Short of any major worldwide economic event, we see another pretty good year ahead for Ottawa real estate, despite the “cooling” reports you may be seeing throughout the national media.  Real estate is very local and all indicators look pretty good as we open the doors for 2019.  Our view is that those considering plans will want to move on those sooner rather than later, as prices continue to rise.  It is never too early to start both buying and selling plans and getting your Realtor team together, is always a good start!

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2019!

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

Why Ottawa will have the best winter sales in a decade or more

sales should help “warm” Ottawa winter

Ottawa real estate normally pretty much hibernates from late November to late February but this may not be the case this year.  Buyers and sellers will want to consider the following factors and consider whether they wish to move up their buying or selling plans accordingly:

 

Listing inventory at decade lows:
The level of available properties to purchase continues to be extremely low and the number of new listings coming on the market, shows no signs of reversing this trend. Supply/demand alone would suggest that this has to put more upward pressure on selling prices.

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.

Even rental listings are down quite significantly, 31.6% lower than last for MLS rental listings.

Beat the price increase!  Your next house is going up $2-3K a month!

With residential prices on the way up (+5.7% through Oct 2018) that dream house is getting more expensive day-by-day.  For example:  a $500,000 property today may well be $525,000 or even $530,000 by the end of 2019 peak selling season.  That’s an increase of $2,000 to $2,500 per month and with mortgage rates also headed north, the cost of servicing a mortgage is also increasing.  The mortgage “stress test” which is typically 2% above the mortgage rate being offered is also moving upwards as rates rise thus making approvals more challenging for some buyers.

New construction price and availability:
Builders are also facing limited availability, after two record years of sales and also are facing some labour shortages and price pressure.  All of these factors will also continue to push up the price of new construction.

Mortgage rates:
Rates are pretty well guaranteed to rise a half point in the next 6 to 12 months, with an outside chance of going up a full % point.  This adds challenge to the approval process (mortgage stress test) and monthly cost for buyers and homeowners, so buying now and locking in at a lower rate will have some advantages. *new construction buyers will have to make sure they get a guaranteed rate from their mortgage broker or bank to cover them for the longer new build timelines.

Local economy is strong:
The local economy seems pretty solid regarding employment and there appears to be no signs of the Federal Government doing any significant belt tightening in advance of next year’s election. (Though one never knows?)  So our market should continue its current moderate upward path in the immediate future.

Provincial and municipal budgets:

A “new” city council in Ottawa is in place and we also have a relatively new Provincial government in Toronto.  The Provinces’ fiscal challenges are well noted and there are also signs that the City of Ottawa has its own issues.  Here are a few things that could happen that might add cost for buyers and sellers:

  1. If Ottawa council feels really in a budget pinch, is it possible that a Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) could be implemented here? This would add $5,000-$10,000 to the typical residential purchase transaction cost here and would cause a bubble and price run up in advance of implementation.   To put this in perspective: the total land transfer tax on a $500K home would jump to almost $13,000 and $21,000 for a $700,000 home purchase.
  2. What is the Provincial government going to do to fix their huge fiscal problem? Could they raise the level of the Provincial Land Transfer Tax? Add some other “luxury” or other tax on housing?
  3. Could Ottawa raise development charges which once again adds to the cost of new construction homes and condos?
  4. What effect will “inclusionary zoning” have on costs of new construction? This principle requires builders and developers to include provision for lower cost housing in their new projects but will certainly affect the cost of new properties, as it becomes more prevalent in the near future.
  5. Do the Feds have any plans in their National Housing plan that might affect buyers, sellers or homeowners?

 

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage

613-435-4692 oasisrealty@rogers.com

Optimizing real estate transaction costs

 

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

Ask about our amazing 2% exclusive listing fee!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conditional sales falling like autumn leaves

As most know, we have a seller’s market here in Ottawa as we close out 2018.  Sales and prices are up and listing inventory is pretty scarce in most market segments.
One statistic that seems almost out of line with the strength of the market and lack of listings is the number of conditional sales that are terminated by buyers and do not go firm.

The numbers: (such as are available) 
We don’t have a regular report mechanism on the amount of such sales but for the last 12-18 months, this ratio has more than doubled from 4-5% of sales to as much as 10-15%.  We offer as evidence a current 7 day period where new listings have been 406 and conditional sales 304 and firm sales 370.  The number of “back-on-market” listings during this period is a significant 74 or almost 20-25% in relation to the sales.  This is extraordinarily and we feel the overall level is probably in the 10-15% range noted previously.

So what is causing this massive number of sales cancellations?
There are several reasons why sales fall through in any market, these including: Inspection, financing and good old fashioned buyer remorse.  All 3 of these factors are enhanced in the current market.

Inspection:
Sellers feel they are in a strong position in this sellers’ market, so may not be as amenable to making price adjustments or fixing issues identified by inspectors, knowing there are a lot more buyers out there for their home.

Buyers accordingly, are often buying at their maximum and often feel they are paying a premium (even over paying) and therefore, some may try to renegotiate the deal price wise, without reciprocity from the seller.

Financing:
Mortgage rates have risen and the new mortgage “stress test” may still be catching some buyers unawares thus resulting in buyer inability to obtain satisfactory financing.

Hurried purchase decisions:
Buyer remorse can always be a factor in the termination of conditional sales.  Often caused by either irrational enthusiasm by one or more of the buyers or most likely where one buyer loves the property and the other merely likes it.

In the current environment of listing scarcity and multiple offers, buyers don’t get as much time to research a property (many only get a chance to see it once, before having to decide on an offer) and then once they have longer to think about it, they are not as enamoured with it as originally thought.

Unfortunately, a hasty purchasing decision in a rushed and stressful environment, leaves plenty of room for error and many buyers may be re-thinking the suitability of the property or re-evaluating the purchase price being paid or both.  Conditional sales agreements are written in way that favours the buyer significantly and that conditional period can often end up being a “cooling off period” and buyers can be pretty subjective in their decision making on whether to firm up the deal or not.

Sellers are adversely affected by such cancellations, as they may lose some of the other buyer interest during the conditional sales period when their property is pretty much “off the market” while a buyer does their due diligence and attempts to complete their conditions.  Other buyers may wonder if “ something is wrong” with the property and may therefore lose interest in it.  Still others may have gone on to buy something else.

The best solution to this problem is for buyers who are well prepared and well coached with appropriate financing in hand and a good knowledge of current market value.  If all of these are in place, we can hopefully optimize the current high level of sales cancellations.

Gord McCormick
Broker of Record
Oasis Realty Brokerage
Ottawa  613-435-4693
oasisrealty@rogers.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.