Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

May 5, 2021

Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Imagine the first place you lived as a young adult. Now imagine trying to fit your life today into that space. Not pretty, right?

For most of us, our housing needs are cyclical. A newly independent adult can find freedom and flexibility in even a tiny apartment. That same space, to a growing family, would feel stifling. For empty nesters, a large home with several unused bedrooms can become impractical to heat and clean. It’s no surprise that life transitions often trigger a home purchase.

While your home-buying journey may not look like your neighbour’s or friend’s, broad trends can help you understand what to keep in mind as you house hunt. No one wants to regret their home purchase, and taking the time now to think about exactly what you need can save a lot of heartache later.

The Newly Married or Partnered Couple

The financial and legal commitment of both traditional and common-law marriage has provided a springboard to homeownership for centuries. And while the average age of first marriage in Canada is around 30, the average age of first home purchase has shifted even later to 36.1,2 No matter your age, there are some key factors that you should consider when you are ready to enter into your first home purchase together.

Affordability is Key

There’s no doubt about it—with home prices that just keep climbing, many first-time buyers feel that the deck is stacked against them when it comes to homeownership. But stepping onto the property ladder can be more doable than many realize, especially in today’s low mortgage rate environment.

While many buyers are holding out for their dream home, embracing the concept of a starter home can open a lot of doors. In fact, that’s a popular approach for first-time homebuyers to take. Fifty percent of first-time Canadian buyers report that they plan to eventually upgrade to a larger home.3 

Chosen carefully, a starter home can be a great investment as well as a launchpad for your life together. If you focus on buying a home you can afford now with strong potential for appreciation, you can build equity alongside your savings, positioning you to trade up in the future if your needs change.3

Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

Canadian mortgage rates hit record lows in summer 2020, and while they are gradually creeping back up, now is still an ideal time to purchase your first home together.4 A lower interest rate can save you a bundle over the life of your loan, which can significantly increase the quality of home you can get for your money.

 

But what if both halves of a couple don’t have good credit? You still have options. First, boosting a credit score can be easier than you think—simply paying your credit cards down below 35% of your limit can go a long way.5 But if that’s not enough to raise your score, you might consider taking out the mortgage in only the better-scoring partner’s name. The downside is that applying for a mortgage with only one income will reduce your qualification amount. And if you take that route, make sure you understand the legal and financial implications for both parties should the relationship end.

Commute and Lifestyle Considerations

Whether you’ve lived in a rental together for years or are sharing a home for the first time, you know that living together involves some compromises. But there are certain home features that can make life easier in the future if you identify them now. The number of bathrooms, availability of closet space, and even things like kitchen layout can make a big difference in your day-to-day life and relationship.

Your home’s location will also have a significant impact on your quality of life, so consider it carefully. What will commuting look like for each of you? And if you have different interests or hobbies—say, museums vs. hiking—you’ll need to find a community that meets both your needs. Need some help identifying the ideal location that fits within your budget? We can match you with some great neighbourhoods that offer the perfect mix of amenities and affordability.

The Growing Family

Having kids changes things—fast. With a couple of rowdy preteens and maybe some pets in the mix, that 1,600 square foot home that felt palatial to two adults suddenly becomes a lot more cramped. Whether you’ve just had your first child or are getting to the point where your kids can’t comfortably share a bedroom any longer, there’s plenty to consider when you’re ready to size up to a home that will fit your growing family.

The Importance of School Districts

For many parents, the desire to give their kids the best education—especially once they are in middle and high school— surpasses even their desire for more breathing room. In fact, homebuyers report that school district is one of their top concerns.6 Of course, homes in the best-rated districts tend to be more expensive and harder to nab. But when push comes to shove, many buyers with kids prefer to sacrifice a bit of space to find a home in their desired location.

But when you’re moving to a new community, it can be tough to figure out what the local schools are actually like—and online ratings don't tell the whole story. That’s why talking to a local real estate agent can be a gamechanger. We don’t just work in this community; we know it inside and out.

Lifestyle Considerations

For many families, living space is a key priority. Once you have teenagers who want space to hang out with their friends, a finished basement or a rec room can be a huge bonus (and can help you protect some quieter living space for yourself).

A good layout can also make family life a lot easier. For example, an open plan is invaluable if you want to cook dinner while keeping an eye on your young kids playing in the living room. And if you think that you might expand your family further in the future, be sure that the home you purchase has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate that comfortably.

Functionality

Try to think about how each room will fit into your day-to-day. Are you anticipating keeping the house stocked to feed hungry teenagers? A pantry might rise to the top of the list. Dreading the loads of laundry that come with both infants and older kids (especially if they play sports)? The task can be much more bearable in a well-designed laundry room. Imagine a typical day or week of chores in the house to identify which features will have the biggest impact.

Chances are, you won’t find every nice-to-have in one home, which is why identifying the must-haves can be such a boon to the decision-making process. We can help you assess your options and give you a sense of what is realistic within your budget.

The Empty Nesters

When we talk about empty nesters, we usually think about downsizing. With kids out of the house, extra bedrooms and living space can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. While the average buyer with young kids is most likely to trade up to a larger home, older buyers often sell the family home and move into a smaller, less expensive home. In fact, more than half of Canadian Baby Boomers consider the area where they live too expensive for retirement.7

Maintenance and Livability

What factors are driving your decision to move? Identifying those early in the process can help you narrow down your search. For example, do you want to have space for a garden, or would you prefer to avoid dealing with lawn care altogether? What about home maintenance? In many cases, a newer home will require less maintenance than an older one and a smaller one will take less time to clean. It’s not surprising that condos are among the most popular types of homes for Baby Boomers given they require less upkeep than single-family homes.7

Lifestyle Considerations

Many empty nesters have retired or are nearing retirement age. This could be your chance to finally pursue hobbies and passions that were just too hard to squeeze into a 9-5. If you’re ready to move, consider how you’d like to spend your days and seek out a home that will help make that dream a reality. For some, that might mean living near a golf course or a beach. For others, being able to walk downtown for a nice dinner out is the priority. And with more time to spend as you wish, proximity to a supportive community of friends and family is priceless.

Ability to Age in Place

Let’s face it—we can’t escape ageing. If you’re looking for a home to retire in, accessibility should be top-of-mind. This may mean a single-story home or simply having adequate spaces on the first floor to rearrange as needed. While buying a home that you plan to renovate from the start is a viable option, being forced into renovations (because of the realities of ageing) a few years down the road could seriously dig into your nest egg. Location matters, too—if your family will be providing support, are they close by? Can you easily reach necessities like grocery stores and healthcare? While it’s tempting to put it out of our minds, a few careful considerations now can make staying in your home long-term much more feasible.

Finding the Right Home for Right Now

One thing is for sure—life never stands still. And your housing needs won’t, either. In fact, the average Canadian homeowner will own 4.5 to 5.5 houses over their lifetime.8 At each milestone, a careful assessment of your housing options will ensure that you are well-positioned to embrace all the changes to come.

Whatever stage you’re embarking on next, we’re here to help. Our insight into local neighbourhoods, prices, and housing stock will help you hone in on exactly where you want to live and what kind of home is right for you. We’ve worked with home buyers in every stage of life, so we know exactly what questions you need to ask. Buying a home—whether it’s your first or your fifth—is a big decision, but we’re here to support you every step of the way.

We support the Fair Housing Act and equal opportunity housing.

 

Sources:

1.     The Canadian Encyclopedia -
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/marriage-and-divorce

2.     Mortgage Broker News -
https://www.mortgagebrokernews.ca/news/sorry-gen-z-the-average-firsttime-buyer-in-canada-is-36-years-old-335685.aspx

3.     Savvy New Canadians -
https://www.savvynewcanadians.com/starter-home-vs-permanent-home/

4.     Mortgage Broker News -
https://www.mortgagebrokernews.ca/news/are-the-days-of-low-interest-rates-coming-to-an-end-for-canadian-homebuyers-338140.aspx

5.     Government of Canada -
https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.htm

6.     Housing Sentiments and Trends Report 2017 -
https://marketing.zoocasa.com/zoocasa-housing-trends-report-2017.pdf

7.     Royal LePage -
https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/more-than-14-million-boomers-across-canada-expect-to-buy-a-home-in-the-next-five-years-690334391.html

8.     Zolo -
https://www.zolo.ca/blog/how-many-homes-will-you-buy

 

 

April 7, 2021

Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

 

Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

 

 

Today’s real estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory. With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re seeing multiple offers—and sometimes even bidding wars—for homes in the most sought-after neighbourhoods. This has led some sellers to question the need for an agent. After all, why spend money on a listing agent when it seems that you can stick a For Sale sign in the yard then watch a line form around the block?

 

Some buyers may also believe they’d be better off purchasing a property without an agent. For those seeking a competitive edge, proceeding without a buyer’s agent may seem like a good way to stand out from the competition—and maybe even score a discount. Since the seller pays the buyer agent’s commission, wouldn’t a do-it-yourself purchase sweeten the offer?

 

We all like to save money. However, when it comes to your largest financial asset, forgoing professional representation may not always be in your best interest. Find out whether the benefits outweigh the risks (and considerable time and effort) of selling or buying a home on your own—so you can head to the closing table with confidence.

 

 

SELLING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT

Most homeowners who choose to sell their home without any professional assistance opt for a traditional “For Sale By Owner” or a direct sale to an investor, such as an iBuyer. Here’s what you can expect from either of these options.

 

For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

For sale by owner or FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo) offers sellers the opportunity to price their own home and handle their own transaction, showing the home and negotiating directly with the buyer or his or her real estate agent. While Canadian statistics on FSBOs are limited, according to data compiled by the US-based National Association of Realtors (NAR), approximately 8% of homes were sold by their owner in 2020.1

 

In an active, low inventory real estate market, it may seem like a no-brainer to sell your home yourself. After all, there are plenty of buyers out there and one of them is bound to be interested in your home. In addition, you’ll save money on the listing agent’s commission and have more control over the way the home is priced and marketed.

 

One of the biggest problems FSBOs run into, however, is pricing the home appropriately. Without access to information about the comparable properties in your area, you could end up overpricing your home (causing it to languish on the market) or underpricing your home (leaving thousands of dollars on the table).2

 

Even during last year’s strong seller’s market, the median sales price for FSBOs was 10% less than the median price of homes sold with the help of a real estate agent.1 And during a more balanced market, like the one we experienced in 2018, FSBO homes sold for 24% (or $60,000) less than agent-represented properties.3 This suggests that, while you may think that you’ll price and market your home more effectively yourself, in fact you may end up losing far more than the amount you would pay for an agent’s assistance.

 

Without the services of a real estate professional, it will be up to you to get people in the door. You’ll need to gather information for the online listing and put together the kind of marketing that today’s buyers expect to see. This includes bringing in a professional photographer, writing the listing description, and designing marketing collateral like flyers and mailers—or hiring a writer and graphic designer to do so.

 

Once someone is interested, you’ll need to offer virtual showings and develop a COVID safety protocol. You’ll then need to schedule an in-person showing (or in some cases, two or three) for each potential buyer. In addition, you’ll be on your own when evaluating offers and determining their financial viability. You’ll need to thoroughly understand all legal contracts and contingencies and discuss terms, including those regarding the home inspection and closing process.

 

While you’re doing all of this work, it’s likely that you’ll still need to pay the buyer agent’s commission. So be sure to weigh your potential savings against the significant risk and effort involved.

 

If you choose to work with a listing agent, you’ll save significant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk and liability. And the increased profits realized through a more effective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make up for the cost of your agent’s commission.

 

iBuyer

iBuyers have been on the Canadian real estate scene since around 2018, providing sellers with the option of a direct purchase from a real estate company rather than a traditional direct-to-consumer sales process.4 iBuyer companies tout their convenience and speed, with a reliable, streamlined process that may be attractive to some sellers.

 

The idea is that instead of listing the home on the open market, the homeowner completes an online form with information about the property’s location and features, then waits for an offer from the company. The iBuyer is looking for a home in good condition that’s located in a good neighbourhood—one that’s easy to flip and falls within the company’s algorithm.

 

For sellers who are more focused on speed and convenience, an iBuyer may offer an attractive alternative to a traditional real estate sale. That’s because iBuyers evaluate a property quickly and make an upfront offer without requesting repairs or other accommodations.

 

However, sellers will pay for that convenience with, generally, a far lower sale price than the market will provide as well as fees that can add up to as much or more than a traditional real estate agent’s commission.4 According to a study conducted by MarketWatch, iBuyers netted, on average, 11% less than a traditional sale when both the lower price and fees are considered.5 Other studies found some iBuyers charging as much as 15% in fees and associated costs, far more than you’ll pay for a real estate agent’s commission.6

 

In a hot market, this can mean leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table since you won’t be able to negotiate and you’ll lose out on rising home prices caused by low inventory and increased demand. In addition, iBuyers are demonstrably less reliable during times of economic uncertainty, as evidenced by the halt of operations for most iBuyer platforms in early 2020.6 As a seller, the last thing you want is to start down the road of iBuying only to find out that a corporate mandate is stopping your transaction in its tracks.

 

If you choose to work with a real estate agent, you can still explore iBuyers as an option. That way you can take advantage of the added convenience of a fast sale while still enjoying the protection and security of having a professional negotiating on your behalf.

 

 

BUYING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT

 

According to the most recent statistics, 88% of home buyers use a real estate agent when conducting their home search.1 A buyer’s agent is with you every step of the way through the home buying process. From finding the perfect home to submitting a winning offer to navigating the inspection and closing processes, most homebuyers find their expertise and guidance invaluable. And the best part is that, because they are compensated through a commission paid by the homeowner at closing, most agents provide these services at no cost to you!

 

Still, you may be considering negotiating your home purchase directly with the seller or listing agent, especially if you are accustomed to deal-making as part of your job. And if you are familiar with the neighbourhood where you are searching, you may feel that there is no reason to get a buyer’s agent involved.

 

However, putting together a winning offer package can be challenging. This is especially true in a multiple-offer situation where you’ll be competing against buyers whose offers are carefully crafted to maximize their appeal. And the homebuying process can get emotional. A trusted agent can help you avoid overpaying for a property or glossing over “red flags” in your inspection. In addition, buyer agents offer a streamlined, professional process that listing agents may be more likely to recommend to their clients.

If you decide to forego an agent, you’ll have to write, submit, and negotiate a competitive offer all on your own. You’ll also need to schedule an inspection and negotiate repairs. You’ll be responsible for reviewing and preparing all necessary documents, and you will need to be in constant communication with the seller’s agent and your lender, inspector, appraiser, title company, and other related parties along the way.

Or, you could choose to work with a buyer’s agent whose commission is paid by the seller and costs you nothing out of pocket. In exchange, you’ll obtain fiduciary-level guidance on one of the most important financial transactions of your life. If you decide to go it alone, you’ll be playing fast and loose with what is, for most people, their most important and consequential financial decision.

 

 

SO, IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT RIGHT FOR YOU?

 

It is important for you to understand your options and think through your preferences when considering whether or not to work with a real estate professional. If you are experienced in real estate transactions and legal contracts, comfortable negotiating under high-stakes circumstances, and have plenty of extra time on your hands, you may find that an iBuyer or FSBO sale works for you.

 

However, if, like most people, you value expert guidance and would like an experienced professional to manage the process, you will probably experience far more peace of mind and security in working with a real estate agent or broker.

 

A real estate agent’s comprehensive suite of services and expert negotiation skills can benefit buyers and sellers financially, as well. On average, sellers who utilize an agent walk away with more money than those who choose the FSBO or iBuyer route.3,5 And buyers pay nothing out of pocket for expert representation that can help them avoid expensive mistakes all along the way from contract to closing.

 

According to NAR’s profile, the vast majority of buyers (91%) and sellers (89%) are thrilled with their real estate professional’s representation and would recommend them to others.1 That’s why, in terms of time, money, and expertise, most buyers and sellers find the assistance of a real estate agent essential and invaluable.

 

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING? WE HAVE ANSWERS

 

The best way to find out whether you need a real estate agent or broker is to speak with one. We’re here to help and to offer the insights you need to make better-informed decisions. Let’s talk about the value-added services we provide when we help you buy or sell in today’s competitive real estate landscape.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

1.     National Association of REALTORS -
https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

2.     Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/09/factors-consider-when-determining-whether-use-an-agent-buy-or-sell-home/

3.     National Association of REALTORS -
https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/selling-your-home-solo-to-save-money-you-ll-actually-make-less-than-you-think

4.     CBC -

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadian-startup-properly-offers-new-way-of-buying-and-selling-homes-in-calgary-1.5032771

5.     MarketWatch -
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/selling-your-home-to-an-ibuyer-could-cost-you-thousands-heres-why-2019-06-11

6.     Forbes -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliakarayaneva/2020/03/19/billion-dollar-real-estate-businesses-ibuyer-suspended/?sh=c7f59f921747

 

March 3, 2021

Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

 

While many areas of the economy have contracted, the housing market has stayed remarkably strong. But can the good news last?

 

When COVID-related shutdowns began in March, real estate brokers and clients scrambled to respond to the shift. Record-low interest rates caused some lenders to call a halt to new underwriting, and homeowners debated whether or not to put their houses on the market. However, those first days of uncertainty ushered in a period of unprecedented growth in the Canadian residential real estate market, which currently accounts for a record-setting 9% of the country’s overall economic output.1

 

Now, as the spring market approaches, you may be wondering whether the good times can continue to roll on. If you’re a homeowner, should you take advantage of this opportunity by putting your home on the market? If you’re a buyer, should you jump in and risk paying too much? Below we answer some of your most pressing questions.

 

 

Why are home prices rising during an economic downturn?

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, fears of an economic recession were top of mind for homeowners all across the country. Overall, credit product origination declined across a variety of sectors, including car loans and credit cards, and government forbearance programs were put into place to cushion the blow of anticipated economic hardships. However, strong demand —coupled with ultra-low inventory and interest rates—caused real estate prices to continue to rise. The national average resale price soared 17% during 2020, and mortgage originations showed year-over-year growth of almost 30% on the strength of renewals and refinancing in response to record-low interest rates.1,2

 

According to the Bloomberg-Nanos Consumer Confidence Index, confidence in Canada’s real estate industry reached its highest level on record during the thick of the pandemic.3  Montreal Chief Economist Douglas Porter attributes much of the ongoing strength of Canada’s real estate market to a simple matter of consumer choice and priorities while noting that the downside of the resulting rise in home values is increasing consumer debt.1

 

 

Are we facing a real estate bubble?

 

A real estate bubble can occur when there is a rapid and unjustified increase in housing prices, often triggered by speculation from investors. Because the bubble is (in a sense) filled with “hot air,” it pops—and a swift drop in value occurs. This leads to reduced equity or, in some cases, negative equity conditions.

 

By contrast, the current rise in home prices is based on the predictable results of historically low interest rates and widespread low inventory. Basically, the principle of supply and demand is working just as it’s supposed to do.

Effects of low interest rates

The Bank of Canada projects continuing low interest rates until sometime in 2023, aiding in economic recovery and increasing affordability.4 This helps offset the effects of high home costs even in markets where real estate might otherwise be considered overpriced. These low interest rates should keep the market lively and moving forward for the foreseeable future.

Effects of low inventory

Continuing low inventory is the primary reason for higher-than-average home prices in many markets.5 This should gradually ease as an aggressive vaccination rollout and continuing buyer demand drive more homeowners to move forward with long-delayed sales plans and as new home construction ramps up to meet demand.6

 

 

Aren’t some markets and sectors looking particularly weak?

 

One of the big stories of 2020 was a mass exodus from attached home communities and high-priced urban markets as both young professionals and families fled to the larger square footage and wide-open spaces of suburban and rural markets. This trend was reinforced by work from home policies that became permanent at some of the country’s biggest companies.

 

Not surprisingly then, one of the hardest-hit sectors of the residential real estate market has been the rental market, especially in population-dense metropolitan areas. The rise in vacancies has been fueled by several factors, including less international migration, fewer student renters, and less tourist demand for short-term rentals.7

 

Interestingly, landlords have not responded to these vacancies with lower rental rates, which have actually risen nationally. Instead, most have used incentives like lower deposit fees, free utilities, and move-in bonuses to attract renters. This suggests that most property owners expect demand to return to normal quite quickly as the vaccine rollout begins to take effect.7

 

Some analysts predict a decline in the Canadian housing market at large due to the impending end of government emergency measures and lender deferrals. However, others point to the increased demand for homes in smaller markets and lower-density areas outside of the country’s urban centres as an optimistic indicator, especially since these distant suburban and rural enclaves don’t normally benefit from increases in home values or an influx of new investment.8 As many of these new residents set up housekeeping in their rural retreats, they’ll revitalize the economies of their adopted communities for years to come.

 

According to Susan Hosterman, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, another strength that may help to alleviate the effect of financial pressures brought about by the ending of emergency measures is the relationship lenders in Canada have with their borrowers. Canadian lenders tend to be proactive in offering modifications to make loans more affordable for struggling homeowners.8

 

 

How has COVID affected the “seasonal” real estate market?

 

Frequently, the real estate market is seen as a seasonal phenomenon. However, the widespread shutdowns in March 2020, coming right at the beginning of the market’s growth cycle in many areas, has led to a protracted, seemingly endless “hot spring market.”

 

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) revised its 2021 Market Forecast based on more robust than usual figures for the second half of 2020. The new projection anticipates improvements even over 2020’s record-setting market figures, with potential sales limited only by the availability of inventory in most markets.9 Thus, we could be looking at another longer-than-usual, white-hot real estate market.

 

 

What’s next for the Canadian real estate market?

 

Projections vary widely, with some economists predicting a market correction and others predicting continuing strong growth. Overall, low inventory and lack of affordability appear to be the more negative factors applying downward pressures on the market, while pent-up demand and a return to normal employment and income levels, along with anticipated higher-than-average growth in the economy, point to ongoing good news in the sector.10

 

According to most indicators, the real estate news looks overwhelmingly positive throughout the rest of 2021—and possibly beyond. Pent-up demand and consumer-driven policies, along with a continued low-interest-rate environment and rising inventory, should help homeowners hold on to their increased equity without throwing the market out of balance. In addition, the increase in long-term work-from-home policies promises to give a boost to a wide variety of markets, both now and in the years to come. 

 

 

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? WE HAVE ANSWERS

 

While economic indicators and trends are national, real estate is local. We’re here to answer your questions and help you understand what’s happening in your neighbourhood. Reach out to learn how these larger movements affect our local market and your home’s value.

 

 

Sources:

1.     Huffington Post -
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/house-prices-canada-bmo_ca_600c7a98c5b6d64153ac675b

2.     Global Newswire -
https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/08/18/2079742/0/en/COVID-19-Pandemic-Drives-a-Decline-in-the-Use-of-Credit-as-Canadian-Consumers-and-Lenders-Brace-for-Uncertainty.html

3.     Weekly Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index -
https://www.nanos.co/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-01-08-Bloomberg-Weekly-Report-with-Tabs.pdf

4.     Bank of Canada -
https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2021/01/fad-press-release-2021-01-20/

5.     Toronto Star -
https://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2021/01/27/supply-of-new-homes-in-the-gta-dwindling-amidst-sales-boom.html

6.     Bank of Canada Monetary Policy Report -
https://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/mpr-2021-01-20.pdf

7.     CTV News -
https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/cmhc-rental-vacancies-prices-edged-up-as-covid-19-spread-across-canada-1.5286012

8.     Huffington Post -
https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/housing-forecast-canada-2021_ca_5fec942cc5b64e4421082979

9.     Canadian Real Estate Association -
https://www.crea.ca/news/crea-updates-resale-housing-market-forecast-7/

10.   Canadian Mortgage Trends -
https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2021/01/canadas-energizer-bunny-housing-market-2021-forecasts/

 

Feb. 3, 2021

5 Inspiring Home Design and Remodelling Trends for 2021

We’ve all spent a lot more time at home over the past year. And for many of us, our homes have become our office, our classroom, our gym—and most importantly, our safe haven during times of uncertainty. So it’s no surprise to see that design trends for 2021 revolve around soothing colour palettes, cozy character, and quiet retreats.

 

Even if you don’t have immediate plans to buy or sell your home, we advise our clients to be mindful of modern design preferences when planning a remodel or even redecorating. Over-personalized or unpopular renovations could lower your property’s value. And selecting out-of-style fixtures and finishes could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

 

To help inspire your design projects this year, we’ve rounded up five of the hottest trends.  Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

 

 

1. Uplifting Colours

 

Colours are gravitating toward warm and happy shades that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and wellbeing. This year’s palettes draw from earthy hues, warm neutrals, and soothing blues and greens.1

 

While white and gray are still safe options, expect to see alternative neutrals become increasingly popular choices for walls, cabinets, and furnishings in 2021. For a fresh and sophisticated look, try one of these 2021 paint colours of the year:

 

      Aegean Teal (coastal blue) by Benjamin Moore

      Urbane Bronze (brownish-gray) by Sherwin-Williams

      Soft Candlelight (muted yellow) by Valspar

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, indigo, ruby, sapphire and plum are showing up on everything from fireplace mantels and floating shelves to fabrics and home accessories. These classic, rich hues can help bring warmth, depth, and a touch of luxury to your living space.

 

 

To incorporate these colours, designers recommend using the “60-30-10 Rule.” Basically, choose a dominant colour to cover 60% of your room. For example, your walls, rugs, and sofa might all be varying shades of beige or gray. Then layer in a secondary colour for 30% of the room. This might include draperies and accent furniture. Finally, select an accent colour for 10% of your room, which can be showcased through artwork and accessories.2

 

 

2. Curated Collections

 

After a decade of minimalism, there’s been a shift towards highly-decorative and personalized interiors that incorporate more colour, texture, and character. Clearly-defined styles (e.g., mid-century modern, industrial, modern farmhouse) are being replaced by a curated look, with furnishings, fixtures, and accessories that appear to have been collected over time.3

 

 

This trend has extended to the kitchen, where atmosphere has become as important as functionality. The ubiquitous all-white kitchen is fading in popularity as homeowners opt for unique touches that help individualize their space. If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, consider mixing in other neutrals—like gray, black, and light wood—for a more custom, pieced-together look. And instead of a subway tile backsplash, check out zellige tile (i.e., handmade, square Moroccan tiles) for a modern alternative with old-world flair.4

 

 

3. Reimagined Living Spaces

 

The pandemic forced many of us to rethink our home design. From multipurpose rooms to converted closets to backyard cottages, we’ve had to find creative ways to manage virtual meetings and school. And designers expect these changes to impact the way we live and work for years to come.

 

For example, some home builders are predicting the end of open-concept floor plans as we know them.5 Instead, buyers are searching for cozier spaces with more separation and privacy. Cue the return of walls and, in some cases, alcoves and sliding partitions that enable homeowners to section off rooms as needed.6

 

 

The necessity of a home office space is also here to stay. But what if you don’t have a dedicated room? Alternative workspaces have become increasingly popular. In fact, one of the biggest trends on Pinterest this year is the “cloffice”—essentially a spare closet turned home office. Searches for “home library design” and “bookshelf room divider” are on the rise, as well.7

 

 

4. Staycation-Worthy Retreats

 

With travel options limited right now, more homeowners are turning their vacation budgets into staycation budgets.8 Essentially, recreate the resort experience at home—and enjoy it 365 days a year!

 

Bedrooms should provide a soothing sanctuary for rest and relaxation. But this year, minimalist decor and muted colours are giving way to bolder statement pieces.3 To create a “boutique hotel” look in your own bedroom, start with a large, upholstered headboard in a rich colour or pattern. Layer on organic linen bedding and a chunky wool throw, then complete the look with a pair of matching bedside wall lights.9

 

 

Carry those vacation-vibes into your bathroom with some of the top luxury upgrades for 2021. Try a large, zero-entry shower for two, a floating vanity with hand-free faucets, or a radiant-heated floor for the ultimate spa-like experience.10

 

 

5. Outdoor Upgrades

 

From exercise to gardening to safer options for entertaining, the pandemic has led homeowners to utilize their outdoor spaces more than ever. In fact, backyard swimming pool sales skyrocketed in 2020, with many installers reporting unprecedented demand.11 But a new pool isn’t the only way homeowners can elevate their outdoor area this year.

 

 

Composite decks have become a favourite upgrade for their low-maintenance and durability. And in 2021, creative design elements are on the rise, including unique inlays, wider planks, and multiple deck board colours. Add stair or bistro lights for a touch of ambiance while enhancing safety and visibility.8

 

 

DESIGNED TO SELL

 

Are you contemplating a remodel? Want to find out how upgrades could impact the value of your home? Buyer preferences vary greatly by neighbourhood and price range. We can share our insights and offer tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. And if you’re in the market to sell, we can run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

 

 

Sources:

1.     HGTV Canada –
https://www.hgtv.ca/decorating/photos/home-design-trends-for-2021-1942419/#

2.     The Spruce –

https://www.thespruce.com/timeless-color-rule-797859

3.     The Kit -
https://thekit.ca/life/home/home-decor-trends-2021-inspiration/

4.     Houzz –

https://www.houzz.com/magazine/36-home-design-trends-ready-for-takeoff-in-2021-stsetivw-vs~142229851

5.     Zillow -
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-end-of-open-floor-plans-how-homes-will-look-different-after-coronavirus-301080662.html

6.     HGTV Canada -
https://www.hgtv.ca/shows/family-home-overhaul/photos/the-top-design-trends-for-2021-according-to-hgtv-canada-design-experts-1943092/#currentSlide=5

7.     Pinterest -
https://business.pinterest.com/content/pinterest-predicts/more-door/

8.     Canadian Contractor -
https://www.canadiancontractor.ca/buildwire/decking-trends-for-2021/

9.     Homes & Gardens –
https://www.homesandgardens.com/spaces/decorating/bedroom-trends-224944

10.   Canadian Interiors -
https://www.canadianinteriors.com/2020/11/26/top-trends-to-impact-kitchen-and-bathroom-design-over-the-next-three-years-nkba/

 

11.   CTV News -
https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/backyard-pool-sales-surge-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-1.4957596

Posted in Design, Home Owners
Jan. 6, 2021

New Year, New Home? Set Homeownership Goals Whether You’re Buying, Selling, or Staying Put

 

The start of a new year always compels people to take a fresh look at their goals, from health and career to relationships and finance. But with historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales and price growth, and a tight housing inventory, the time is right to also make some homeownership resolutions for 2021.

 

Home buyers, is this the year you work to improve your credit score, pay down some debt, or save for a down payment?

 

Home sellers, we’ve laid out plans for you to get top dollar for your property, including timing your home sale, making your property stand out from the crowd, and investing in your extra living space.

 

And even if you’re staying put for awhile, homeowners, you can resolve to improve your status quo by evaluating your home budget, finalizing your home maintenance schedule, or maybe investing in a second property.

 

So no matter your homeownership status, we’ve got some ideas and advice for you to make this year your best one yet. Read on to learn more.

 

 

HOME BUYERS

 

Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.

 

Your credit report highlights your current debt, bill-paying history, and other key financial information. Importantly for your home-buying journey, it is also used by lenders and companies to calculate your credit score, which partly determines if you are qualified to obtain a mortgage. Therefore, before you start house-hunting, make sure your finances are in the best possible shape by checking your credit report and credit score, available directly from Equifax and TransUnion.1

 

Your credit score will be a number ranging from 300-900. Generally speaking, a credit score of 725 or higher is considered very good to excellent.2 If your score drops below 725, you might need to work at boosting your score for a few months before you begin house-hunting. Ways to do this are to pay your bills on time every month, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid applying for new credit.3

 

 

Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt

 

Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or car payments tying up your income each month? That debt is hurting your “buying power,” or the amount of home you can afford. Not only is it money that you can't spend on your new home, but your debt-to-income ratio also affects your credit score, which we discussed above. The less debt you have, the higher your score and the better mortgage you can obtain.

 

If you can, pay off some debt in its entiretylike a low balance on a credit card. Then apply that "extra" money you previously paid on that credit card to pay off bigger debt, like a car loan. Even if you can’t pay off all (or any) of your debt in full, reducing the balances of each account will help you qualify for the best possible mortgage terms.

 

 

Resolution #3: Create a financial safety net before applying for a mortgage.

 

Don’t forget that buying a home requires some cash as well. The down payment depends on the home’s price, but the minimum is 5% for a purchase price of under $500,000, and closing costs range from 2-3%.4,5 You’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up. And as the pandemic taught us, you never know when an unforeseen event might cause a job loss, drop in income, or health scare, so having some liquid savings will ensure that you can still pay your mortgage if a crisis occurs.

 

Dedicate some effort to building up your reserves. Cut down on unnecessary expenses, and consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account to avoid the temptation to spend it.

 

 

HOME SELLERS

 

Resolution #4: Decide on the right time to sell your home.

 

In a typical year, spring is when home sales spike in Canada. This might be the best time to take advantage of the price increase predicted by the Canadian Real Estate Association, which says, “The national average price is forecast to rise by 9.1% in 2021 to $620,400.”6

 

But sales price isn’t the only thing to consider. You might not be ready to sell your home yet because you don't want to uproot your kids during the school year or because you need to tackle some minor upgrades before placing your home on the market.

 

This means that there is no one month or season that is the perfect time to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit, personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to put on the market. A trusted real estate professional can talk you through your specific needs to clarify when to sell your home.

 

 

Resolution #5: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.

 

Housing inventory is at historic lows across the country, and that means the market is fiercely competitive.7 Selling your home in 2021 has the potential to net you a huge return right now, and you can maximize that amount with some simple fixes to make sure your property outshines your neighbors’ for sale down the street.

 

In your home, you might need to tackle a minor remodeling project, such as upgrading the flooring or adding a fresh coat of paint. According to one remodeling impact report, simply refinishing existing hardwood floors recoups 100% of the cost at resale, and completely replacing it with new wood flooring recovers 106% of costs.8

 

Outside, you might consider improving your curb appeal by removing a dead bush, trimming a tree that blocks the front window, or power-washing your moldy driveway and sidewalks. In fact, real estate agents say cleaning the exterior of your house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to a home’s sale price.9 And improving a home’s landscaping may increase its value by 15 to 25%.10

 

A good agent should provide custom-tailored suggestions to ensure your property pops inside and out. Ask us about our local insider secrets that will make your home stand out from others on the market.

 

 

Resolution #6: Invest in your “extra” living space to meet current buyers’ needs.

 

Due to COVID-19, more people are staying at home to work, go to school, exercise, and stay entertained. And these lifestyle changes are showing up in home buyer preferences. For example, according to one study, buyers are looking more and more for homes with formal, outfitted home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances.11

 

So if you’ve got an underutilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, schoolroom, or multi-purpose room to meet current home buyer needs and attract better offers on your home. Got some underwhelming space outside? You could turn it into an outdoor entertainment area by adding a firepit, upgrading the patio furniture, or installing a grilling area. Be sure to consult with a local real estate professional before investing in a renovation, however, as each market’s buyers have different tastes.

 

 

HOMEOWNERS

 

Resolution #7: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.

 

After this past year, in particular, your financial picture may have changed. Maybe you were furloughed, had your hours reduced, or got a new job further from home. Perhaps you’ve kept the same job, but you’re now working remotely. A work-from-home arrangement could mean less money spent on gas, tolls, a professional wardrobe, and dining out for lunch.

 

But this could also mean new (or increased) expenses now that you’re working at home, such as new tech-related purchases, faster Wi-Fi, and higher energy bills. January marks the perfect opportunity to update your income and expenses and review last year’s spending habits, tweaking as needed for 2021.

 

For more specific ideas, contact us for our free report "20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget."

 

 

Resolution #8: Save money now (and earn more later) with a home maintenance plan.

 

Having a schedule of regular home maintenance projects to tackle will save you money now and in the long-term. You’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” and when you’re ready to eventually sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.

 

Even if nothing necessarily needs fixing right now, you can lower your energy costs by maintaining and upgrading your home. For example, consider upgrading some features to ENERGY STAR high-efficiency products. You could save 10% in energy costs if you switch out your gas broiler, and up to 45% if you change your windows!12,13

 

For a breakdown of home maintenance projects to tackle throughout the year, contact us for our free report “House Care Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home.”

 

 

Resolution #9: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living.

 

Even if you don’t plan on leaving your current residence, real estate is a great way to improve your quality of life in 2021.

 

Have cabin fever from the long quarantine? A vacation home in a getaway location you love lets you safely spread your wings. And if you have been looking for a second stream of income, an investment property might be your answer. Just be sure to consult with a real estate professional to get a realistic sense of a property’s true income potential.

 

Want more information on how a second property fits into your 2021 plans? Request our free report, "Move Up vs Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?"

 

 

LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR 2021 GOALS

Without a plan and a support system, 73% of Canadians will break their new year’s resolutions.14 Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent to keep you motivated and on track.

 

As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and commit to a happy and prosperous new year.

 

 

 

Sources:

1.     Government of Canada -
https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/order-credit-report.html

2.     Equifax -
https://www.consumer.equifax.ca/personal/education/credit-score/what-is-a-good-credit-score/

3.     Government of Canada -
https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.html

4.     RateShop -
https://www.rateshop.ca/page-minimum-down-payment-in-canada 

5.     Bank of Montreal -
https://www.bmo.com/main/personal/mortgages/closing-costs/

6.     Canadian Real Estate Association -
https://www.crea.ca/housing-market-stats/quarterly-forecasts/

7.     Canadian Mortgage Trends -
https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/12/tight-market-conditions-keep-home-sales-and-prices-at-historical-highs/

8.     National Association of Realtors -
https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-remodeling-impact-10-03-2019.pdf

9.     House Logic -
https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/

10.   Ottawa Citizen -
https://ottawacitizen.com/life/homes/landscape-tips-to-increase-your-homes-value

11.   HomeLight -
https://www.homelight.com/blog/top-agent-insights-for-q2-2020/

12.   Government of Canada -
https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/10/21/23081

13.   Government of Canada -
https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/11/26/winter-coming-top-tips-heat-your-home-less/23141

14.   Ipsos -
https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/three-ten-31-canadians-will-set-new-years-resolution-yet-three-quarters-73-eventually-break-them

 

Dec. 2, 2020

10 Ways to Give Back to Our Local Community This Holiday Season

This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbors, and community. It truly “takes a village” to keep a community functioning effectively, whether that’s by keeping our waterways clean, feeding the hungry, teaching our kids, or supporting small businesses.

 

With the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home. You might want to focus your efforts near home, expand to our larger community, or even help support the people closest to you. Whether you’re passionate about a particular cause or just want to get more involved in general, let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good in your town.

 

 

GIVE BACK NEAR HOME

 

1. Attract local wildlife. By making your neighborhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to  create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination.1

 

Ideas:

      Add a birdbath to your backyard or create a rain garden to attract wildlife (and filter out local pollutants).

      Place bird feeders on your property to feed birds all year long.

      Tie corncobs to tree branches to feed squirrels.

      Hang birdhouses on your property to provide shelter.

      Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters.

 

Take action: While you might not be able to “break ground” until spring, start researching native plants now to design a landscaping plan that provides food, shelter, and water for local wildlife.

 

 

2. Clean up our community. Besides beautifying the area, picking up trash keeps it out of our local waterways, which means a cleaner water supply for all of us.

 

Ideas:

      Whether you make this a solo effort or join in an organized group event, pick up trash in your neighborhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community.

      Depending on your community’s regulations, you can recycle many home items such as paper, glass, and aluminum.

      And don’t forget to clean the exterior of your home, where water runoff (such as on your driveway and sidewalks) can carry debris into the local sewer system.2

 

Take action: Check with your local municipality to learn about environmental clean-up efforts in our community, as well as recycling and composting. 

 

 

3. Organize or join a neighborhood watch. According to a recent report, neighborhoods with Neighborhood Crime Watch programs experience roughly 16 percent less crime.3 Keeping an eye out for each other instills a sense of safety and security in your neighborhood by increasing surveillance, reducing opportunities, and enhancing information sharing among residents. Even if your neighborhood doesn’t have an official program, you can still share crime information via a neighborhood Facebook group or apps like NextDoor.

 

Ideas:

      Make a point of looking out for each other and being observant of what’s going on.

      You can even make it official by joining a neighborhood watch program.

      Don’t have one? Consider launching a neighborhood watch program with the help of other interested neighbors.

 

Take action: Some police forces use online mapping tools that provide crime alerts to people in neighborhoods where recent criminal activity occurred.3 Share this information with your neighbors.

 

 

 

HELP OUT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

 

4. Boost your civic engagement. Regardless of your politics, you can get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community.

 

Ideas:

      Sign a petition to make a needed change in our community.

      Join a peaceful march, protest, or rally to support a cause dear to your heart.

      Attend local school board meetings, town halls, or city council meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.4

      Watch (and read) a variety of local news sources to get balanced reporting on what’s happening in our community.

      If you don’t know your neighbors very well, introduce yourself.

      Then make a commitment to check in on those who might need help, such as an elderly neighbor.

      Get plugged into the resources and events in our town by visiting local museums, taking historical tours, borrowing materials from our local library, and attending community festivals.

 

Take action: Do you know who our local leaders are, such as our mayor or city councilwoman? Get to know their names, their policies, and their stand on issues that affect our community. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media.

 

 

5. Support local businesses. Our community has been impacted by the pandemic, with many businesses being forced to limit capacity, instill social distancing efforts, and even shutter entirely in some cases. Help keep money in our local economy by shopping local instead of relying on online shopping from national chains.

 

Ideas:

      From handcrafted soaps and one-of-a-kind apparel to locally produced chocolate and small-batch wines, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts at the small businesses that dot our community.

      Consider purchasing tickets to attend live-streamed holiday concerts and shows.

      Buy cookies and other baked goods from our local bakery.

      Get takeout from our local restaurants.

      Support local farmers by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at community farmer’s markets.

 

Take action: If you’re concerned about shopping in person right now, many of these businesses, though small, offer online shopping, with options for in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, and/or mail options.

 

 

6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission in our community. But if money is tight (or you want to support in other ways), think beyond just donating dollars.

 

Ideas:

      Consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name as an altruistic gift on behalf of a friend or relative.

      Give blood to our local blood bank.

      Donate new or used books to our community library.

      Send school supplies to our neighborhood elementary school.

      Help struggling neighbors by donating blankets to the homeless.

      Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families. 5

 

Take action: Many collection efforts run by charitable organizations and businesses take place during the holidays. Look to see what’s already taking place in our community and choose one or more to give to this season.  

 

 

CARE FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS

 

7. Organize a holiday food drive. This year, in particular, people are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. The pandemic has caused many businesses to close or reduce their staff size, putting many people out of work.

 

Ideas:

      If you personally know someone who needs help buying groceries, reach out and offer to help that one family.

      If not, partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit or community organization that feeds people in need.

      Round up a few friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to collect food for a few weeks. Then deliver the bounty in time for the holidays.

 

Take action: Take advantage of your grocery store coupons and buy-one-get-one offers to inexpensively stock up on nonperishable goods.

 

 

8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a struggle, especially financially, for some families. They might not be able to buy a Christmas tree or presents for their children. Maybe their holiday meal consists of boxed macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford a turkey and fresh vegetables. You can make a difference by “adopting” a particular family (or even just a child) to help make their holiday special.

 

Ideas:

      If you know a needy family, help them directly.

      If not, ask a community group for the name of a family or individual in need.

      Some businesses even sponsor toy drives or “angel trees” where you can pick the name of a needy family off the tree and buy from their wish lists.

 

Take action: This works great as a family project. Get the kids in your life involved to help make holiday cards and pick out toys to give to the children in the adopted family.

 

 

9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or ongoing project. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in your community as you make a positive impact together for a shared cause.

 

Ideas:

      Give your time to a cause or organization that really matters to you, such as your local school, animal rescue organization, mental health awareness group, or environmental nonprofit.6

      Tap into a skill you already have, like creating videos, and offer your services.

      Or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.

 

Take action: Start with your local community to see where its needs are the greatest. Make a point to help this holiday season, perhaps extending your commitment throughout 2021.

 

 

10. Perform random acts of kindness. Don’t think you need to “go big or go home” in your give-back efforts. You can make a big difference one small act at a time.

 

Ideas:

      Give a generous tip to a waitress.

      Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the drive-through.

      Take care of a neighbor’s pet while they’re out of town.

      Send holiday cards to deployed military personnel.

      Deliver a plate of homemade holiday cookies to our local fire or police station.

      Smile at a stranger.

      Rake leaves for an elderly neighbor.

      Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year.

      Send an uplifting text to a friend.

      Compliment someone.

      Help a coworker with an unpleasant task.  

 

Take action: Need more ideas? Visit randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of inspiring ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.

 

 

HOW WE CAN HELP YOU?

 

As real estate experts in our local community, we’re tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to us today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And we want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, let us help you!

 

 

 

Sources:

1.     Redfin -
https://www.redfin.com/blog/attract-wildlife-to-your-backyard/#:~:text=Sow%20plants%20that%20provide%20essentials,these%20alternate%20natural%20food%20sources

2.     The Groundwater Foundation -
https://www.groundwater.org/action/home/raingardens.html

3.     The Globe and Mail -
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/how-neighbours-and-online-maps-can-help-deter-break-ins/article34886427/

4.     Parade -
https://parade.com/1083640/stephanieosmanski/what-is-civic-engagement/

5.     MentalFloss -
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88663/15-ways-give-back-holiday-season

6.     Together We Rise -
https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/7-ways-give-back-community/

 

 

 

Posted in Helpful Tips
Nov. 4, 2020

The New Normal: A Strong Housing Market Expected to Continue into 2021

 

 

Circumstances like a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic and historic inventory shortages might have made you assume that the housing market would lose steam, but there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. As Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) senior economist, Shaun Cathcart noted, “records [are continually] being broken” in the residential property market.1

 

Indeed, rather than a slowdown, we are continuing to experience a surprisingly robust real estate market across the country. And experts estimate that these conditions are likely to last into the new year. TD Bank Group Economist Rishi Sondhi predicts that high home prices will persist for the rest of 2020.2

 

 

Market conditions like fewer available listings, changing criteria for desired homes, and record-low mortgage rates are changing the way people buy and sell homes, most likely in a lasting way. But this sustained activity, even in the uncertainty that is 2020, proves Canadians still view real estate as a sound investment. The only question now is how you can take advantage of the housing market’s “new normal.” In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know to achieve your goals.

 

 

FEWER LISTINGS EQUALS A SELLER’S’ MARKET

 

Inventory, meaning the number of homes for sale, is at a record low across the country.

According to statistics from RBC Economics, the majority of Canada is experiencing tighter demand versus supply conditions than the country has seen in nearly two decades.3 And at the end of September, there were just 2.6 months of inventory on a national basis. That restricts supply, which increases prices if demand remains unchanged.4

 

There has been a bit of relief in terms of inventory. New-home construction hit levels in August that the country had not seen since 2007, but then waned somewhat in September with housing starts down in eight of 10 provinces.5 Doug Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montréal, also predicts some “building headwinds” that will further cool the influx of new inventory coming on the market.6

 

Fewer listings creates a housing market that is advantageous for sellers for several reasons. For one, buyers have to act fast to snap up available homes. The median number of days listings now spend on the market is 26 days.7

 

Another benefit is that sellers are enjoying higher net returns on their listings. This is thanks to the tough competition for homes, which often results in bidding wars between buyers. The average price of a home sold on the Canadian Real Estate Association's (CREA’s) MLS service went for a record $604,000 (17.5% more than last year).8 Continued home-price growth is anticipated for the remainder of the fourth quarter, and the median national home price is expected to rise 7% over last year.9

 

This sellers’ market is not simply a product of the pandemic. In fact, Cathcart cited the steady decline in home inventory over the past five years—not COVID-19—as the cause for higher prices. “Heading towards records and record type conditions was something that we had already expected for 2020,” he said. This means that even if construction was to ramp back up, buyers can’t simply wait for things to go back to normal before reentering the market. Rather, all signs indicate that this is the new normal.10

 

What It Means for Homeowners:

These higher home prices show that buyers are willing to spend more on a home right now than they did last year. So, if there ever were a time to list for top dollar—and expect to receive asking price quickly—that time is now. Ask us for a free consultation of your home’s value today.

 

What It Means for Homebuyers:

Due to low inventory, buyers could easily find themselves in a bidding war. Time is of the essence in a seller’s market, so you’ll need to get your financing in order and be preapproved for a loan before you begin your home search. We can connect you with a trusted mortgage professional to get you started.

 

 

BUYERS BENEFIT FROM LOW MORTGAGE RATES AND A BIGGER PLAYING FIELD

 

Don’t worry, homebuyers. This “new normal” of real estate has benefits for you too.

 

For example, people used to base their next home purchase on how far the commute was to work or in which public school district it was. But now, thanks to the pandemic shifting the locus of jobs and work, they are free to consider what they need from a home to make it a place they really want to work, teach, exercise, cook, and live.

 

Often, this equates to needing more space in different types of areas. The search for these criteria is driving residents out of densely populated metropolitan areas and into the suburbs.11 And this exodus from cities is good news for buyers: it opens up more possibilities for inventory that they could not have considered pre-pandemic.

 

Another advantage for buyers is the record-low mortgage rates. The average five-year fixed rate fell to a record low of 1.99% in September, down from 3.04% at the end of 2019 and 3.74% at the end of 2018.12

 

Thanks to these rates, buyers are afforded the opportunity to buy much more home than they could before. Consider this example. If a buyer can afford a $500,000 home by putting $120,000 down (25%), the monthly payment on a standard 25-year mortgage would be $2,210. Conversely, with a lower rate (say, 2.8%) that buyer can now afford a $600,000 home—$100,000 more purchasing power—at a cost of only $12 additional per month.13

 

The good news is that interest rates are not expected to rise anytime soon—and may hover at these record lows until 2023.14

 

 

What It Means for Homeowners:

If you’re locked into a higher fixed-rate mortgage for the next several years, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good idea to refinance. With those additional funds, you could even choose to invest in a second home in a new desirable location. Reach out to us for a referral to a trusted mortgage professional or an agent in those markets.

 

 

What It Means for Homebuyers:

The time is now to determine how much home you can comfortably afford and make a plan to find it. We can set up a search for you to find homes that best meet your new needs, even if they’re in neighborhoods you wouldn’t have considered before.

 

 

A RECORD-SETTING YEAR FOR HOME SALES IS JUST THE BEGINNING

 

Despite the seemingly adverse buyer conditions, 2020 experienced a record-breaking number of home sales. According to CREA, home sales activity jumped 46.5% year-over-year in September. With an additional 20,000 transactions logged, it was the busiest September thus far. Moreover, “[m]any Canadian housing markets are continuing to see historically strong levels of activity as we enter into the fall market of this very strange year,” CREA chair Costa Poulopoulos said in a statement.15

 

Part of the reason for these continued sales is that the pandemic has created a paradigm shift in the patterns of real estate. For example, housing needs are typically resolved by late summer and early fall to coincide with the commencement of the new school year. With homeschooling and remote work, however, buyers have been freed to continue their home search into the traditionally slow winter months.16

 

Another reason for the robust market is that household savings grew to 28.2% of household income during the pandemic, an extraordinary level that Statistics Canada said the country has not seen since the 1960s.17 Canadians who were able to keep their jobs, as well as those on unemployment, have evidently made growing their savings a priority. And it seems as though Canadian homebuyers are using that cash on real estate.18

 

All this indicates that the housing market is in a strong position heading into the new year. So though it looks different than it ever has before, it’s clear that consumers consider real estate to still be a good investment. The coming months should provide more clues about the market’s direction in the year ahead, such as whether low interest rates and changing housing needs can keep demand levels high, or whether the exhaustion of pent-up demand will cool things off.

 

 

What It Means for Homeowners:

It’s tempting to believe that homes will basically sell themselves in a market like this. But we’re still seeing properties that are overpriced and under-marketed sit unsold. We can help you optimize the process of selling your home so you can get the best possible offer.

 

 

What It Means for Homebuyers:

Preparation is key to success in a sellers’ market like this, but don’t let yourself become paralyzed. We are here to answer your questions and offer sound advice to guide you through all the options that are available to you.

 

 

WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU

 

National real estate numbers can give us a pulse on the market, but real estate happens in our own backyard. As your local market experts, we can help you understand the finer points of the market that impact sales and home values in your own neighborhood. 

 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home before the new year or in early 2021, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work with you to develop an actionable plan to meet your goals.

 

 

Sources:

1.     Georgia Straight -

https://www.straight.com/news/canada-real-estate-wildcard-dealt-by-covid-19-cited-as-september-home-sales-rise-46-percent-for

2.     TD Economics -

 https://economics.td.com/ca-housing-update

3.     RBC Economics –

https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/canadas-housing-market-got-hotter-in-september/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=economics&utm_campaign=housing

4.     Yahoo Finance -

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/canada-hot-housing-market-face-123440993.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNhLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGHiUEUct_rnoOGtMbgsdPAv19LqiVnyNdbRS7x1wd0nV1AhnSvhBGStr7JEhs-CdHhox09OQK3PMK0rIoBlg5teQ5KJkW-P8az0s9FQXdiLKmpSEuIYlsGJ_1n5WMT-qvpkTVZkBWnm0xmajN2uiMY3sawaxMqiMpTbO2boIJXW

5.     CTV News –

https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/cmhc-reports-annual-pace-of-housing-starts-in-canada-fell-20-per-cent-in-september-1.5137771

6.     Financial Post –

https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/growth-in-canadian-home-sales-slows-amid-record-tight-supply

7.     Zolo -

https://www.zolo.ca/

8.     MSN Money - https://www.msn.com/en-nz/money/personalfinance/canadian-home-sales-set-record-for-september-up-456percent-from-last-year-crea/ar-BB1a3uIq

9.     BNN Bloomberg –

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/real-estate/video/expect-strong-canadian-real-estate-market-in-2020-royal-lepage~1861392

10.   Halifax Today –

https://www.halifaxtoday.ca/local-news/high-real-estate-prices-not-solely-due-to-covid-canadian-real-estate-association-2800942

11.   Global News -

https://globalnews.ca/news/7392667/real-estate-canada-suburbs-commutes/

12.   Financial Post - https://financialpost.com/executive/executive-summary/posthaste-canadas-home-prices-to-rise-12-by-the-end-of-2022-economists-predict/wcm/5f31b866-57a9-4ecf-90aa-65aa6ffbe02c/amp/

13.   Yahoo News –

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/average-house-price-continues-defy-133115838.html

14.   Bank of Canada -

https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2020/10/fad-press-release-2020-10-28/

15.   CREA –

https://creastats.crea.ca/en-CA/

16.   PwC -

https://www.pwc.com/ca/en/industries/real-estate/emerging-trends-in-real-estate-2021.html

17.   The Globe and Mail –

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/investing/personal-finance/household-finances/article-savers-stashed-127-billion-in-2020-it-may-just-rescue-the-economy/

18.   CBC/Radio Canada –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ting-column-sept-18-1.5730878

 

 

 

Oct. 7, 2020

5 Secrets Buyers and Sellers Must Know About Virtual Home Tours

For years now, virtual home tours have helped real estate buyers far and wide find the perfect home. From long-distance military personnel being relocated, to investors expanding their portfolio, to homeowners looking for a vacation getaway, this technology makes finding a house that’s a bit out of driving distance much easier. And for real estate agents, virtual tours have been a useful way to help buyers with their home search and to assist sellers in creatively marketing their listings.

 

Because of the pandemic, virtual home showing options recently experienced a huge spike in popularity. One survey found that nearly 33% of recent home tour requests were for virtual tours, as compared to just 2% pre-pandemic.1 And it’s easy to see why.

 

Buyers want to quickly find their next safe haven, one that may need to serve as their office, gym, and even classroom for months to come. And sellers want to limit the number of strangers in their home, yet still have the ability to reach enough potential buyers to get the best offer on their property.

 

Virtual home tours are the popular thing right now, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re the only option for your homebuying or selling experience. In this post, we’ll reveal five important secrets behind the virtual real estate scene. Read on to learn how they impact today’s home buyers and sellers.

 

SECRET #1: Virtual Tours Have Evolved

Lots of real estate professionals who had never used virtual tours before were forced to quickly adapt when the pandemic struck. Because of restrictions on time and resources, not everyone is able to create what would have been deemed a “virtual tour” last year. So instead, we’ve expanded the definition of the phrase by creating innovative new ways to show homes while keeping our clients safe and socially-distanced. Here are some terms you might come across as you explore homes with virtual tours.

 

Traditional virtual tours use 360° Photos, which are images that allow you to see all angles of a space. These are what allow virtual tour viewers to look up, down, and all around the interior and exterior shots of a home. Using a software program, 360° photos can be stitched together to create a digital model that looks like a dollhouse. This is called a 3D Tour. Sometimes agents will also add Virtual Staging, which decorates rooms with digital furniture and accents like wallpaper or paint.

 

Traditional virtual tours allow you to click to move from room to room in the home, but Online Walkthroughs feature the actual action of walking around. Either the seller or the agent (depending on factors such as time and safety requirements) will create a video by holding their camera or smartphone and simply moving through the home.

 

Online Walkthroughs can be filmed in advance or happen live. If they are live, they can also be referred to as Virtual Showings or Online Open Houses. A Virtual Showing is often a scheduled, one-on-one event that mimics an in-person tour of the home, in which the agent and viewer start at the exterior and move their way through the property. If your agent offers to FaceTime or Skype you from a home you’re interested in, for example, that would be a type of Virtual Showing. In contrast, an Online Open House is more freeform, allowing more viewers to pop in and out of a group video call on apps such as Facebook or Zoom.

 

 

SECRET #2: Virtual Doesn’t Mean Impersonal

All these styles of virtual tours showcase the property’s details better than static photos ever could. But for a purchase as intimate as your next home, details like a new refrigerator or the size of the master closet aren’t the only deciding factors. Luckily, virtual tours are exceptional tools for personal connection.

 

As a prospective buyer, virtual tours give you a feel for the property, inside and out, so you can easily picture yourself in the space and decide if the home’s flow and features work for your lifestyle. Live video walkthroughs with the real estate agent will give you insights on those crucial non-visual aspects, like creaky floors, super-fast internet speed, and neighborhood dynamics. Plus, you’ll be able to ask questions and get an insider’s perspective on what’s so great about the home.

 

For sellers, if your agent recommends using a virtual tour to market your home, you could attract more buyers.2 And you can be sure that those interested buyers are still getting the up-close and personal look inside your home that will inspire their strongest offers.

 

 

SECRET #3: Virtual Is Just The First Step To Safe Home Sales

Even as government restrictions begin to ease in some areas, virtual tours are still recommended as a safer way to buy and sell real estate.3 Buyers don’t have to worry about exposure to anyone who previously visited the property, and sellers cut down on the foot traffic in their home. Some data even suggest that virtual tours keep agents safer as well, since they’re hosting fewer in-person showings and open houses.4

 

But despite the variety of virtual tours available, some buyers will still need to visit a home themselves in order to feel confident enough to submit an offer. In this situation, listing agents and sellers will work together to come up with a procedure that ensures everyone feels safe and comfortable. Some recommendations include requiring interested buyers to present a pre-qualification letter, conducting tours only by appointment and with essential parties, and asking buyers to self-disclose whether they have COVID-19 or exhibit any symptoms.3

 

The day of the in-person tour, agents might ask buyers to remain in their vehicle until they arrive at the property, and to wear protective gear such as face coverings and gloves. Many will provide hand sanitizer and will ask buyers to refrain from touching any surfaces in the home. Instead, the agent (or seller, prior to the buyers’ arrival) will turn on lights, open doors, and pull back curtains. Then, after everyone has left, the agent will return the home to its original state and disinfect it as needed.3

 

 

SECRET #4: The Speed of Closing Depends on Your Goals

Though maybe not literally, virtual tours are opening doors for both buyers and sellers in terms of options available to them. In 2019, buyers viewed an average of 10 homes over a period of 10 weeks before submitting an offer.5 But thanks to an increased prevalence of virtual tours saving them driving time, they’re able to peek inside that number of homes in a much shorter period to make their final choice.

 

With all this viewing activity, it makes sense that sellers whose listings feature virtual tours are receiving more offers on their properties. According to one study, virtual tours can add between two and three percent to the sales price of a home, in part because increased buyer interest has made sellers feel confident waiting for the exact right offer.2

 

So if you’re a buyer luxuriating in viewing homes from your couch, just remember that you’re not alone in your search. Your competition is virtually viewing the same properties you are, so it’s still important to work with your real estate agent to quickly submit a strong offer when you find the home of your dreams. And for sellers, if a speedy sale is important to you, carefully weigh that against the temptation to entertain more and more offers, which can keep your home on the market up to six percent longer.2 Your agent can help you decide the right strategy for your priorities.

 

 

SECRET #5: Virtual May Not Always Be the Right Choice

Creating, editing, uploading, and marketing virtual tours for a listing can be pricey. Packages through popular 3D imaging platforms like Matterport and Immoviewers can cost hundreds of dollars on their own.6 Virtual staging will further bloat a listing’s marketing budget, and then there’s the advertising dollars needed. Even seemingly inexpensive options like video call walkthroughs still require time and energy on behalf of both the seller and agent.

 

These costs mean that a full virtual tour package might not always be the right choice for sellers. When you talk to your agent about marketing your home, it may be that an elaborate virtual tour, showing, and open house just don’t make sense. It could be that your potential buyers may not resonate with that type of marketing, that the investment-to-return ratio isn’t in your favor, or that there are more effective ways to get your listing seen by qualified buyers.

 

Buyers, you may notice that some listings within your search parameters don’t offer virtual tours. That’s because those for-sale homes might not have needed a full virtual marketing package to entice buyers to submit offers, or those homes are better marketed through more traditional tactics. Don’t close the door on your dream home because it doesn’t have virtual events and features. Stay open-minded so you can consider the wealth of home options that fit your lifestyle, needs, and budget.

 

 

 

ARE VIRTUAL HOME TOURS IN YOUR FUTURE?

 

As technology develops, it will become easier and cheaper to create virtual tours. Coupled with the high demand for them, this means that virtual tour options are likely not only here to stay, but will continue to grow into a common addition to listings.

 

If buying or selling a home is on your mind, we’d be happy to discuss how virtual tours can play a part in your real estate experience. Reach out to us today for help finding local homes for sale that have virtual tours, or to chat about if adding a virtual tour to your upcoming listing is the right fit.

 

 

Sources:

 

  1. Rocket Mortgage - https://www.rocketmortgage.com/learn/evolution-of-home-showings-during-covid-19
  2. Radio Iowa - https://www.radioiowa.com/2020/07/28/trying-to-sell-a-house-ui-study-finds-virtual-tours-will-bring-more/
  3. NAR Showing Guidance During Reopening - https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/Showing-Guidance-During-COVID-05-14-2020.pdf
  4. NAR 2020 Member Safety Report - https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2020-member-safety-report-08-31-2020.pdf
  5. NAR 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers - https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers-highlights-11-21-2019.pdf
  6. Realtor.com - https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/how-to-host-virtual-home-tours-almost-as-good-as-the-real-thing/
Sept. 2, 2020

Move-Up vs. Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?

 

 

The pandemic has changed the way many of us live, work, and attend school—and those changes have impacted our priorities when it comes to choosing a home.

 

According to a recent survey by The Harris Poll, 75% of respondents who have begun working remotely would like to continue doing so—and 66% would consider moving if they no longer had to commute as often. Some of the top reasons were to gain a dedicated office space (31%), a larger home (30%), and more rooms overall (29%).1

 

And now that virtual school has become a reality for many families, that need for additional space has only intensified. A growing number of buyers are choosing homes further from town as they seek out more room and less congestion. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly 40% of urban dwellers had considered leaving the city because of the COVID-19 outbreak.2

 

But not everyone is permanently sold on suburban or rural life. Instead, some are choosing to purchase a second home as a co-primary residence or frequent getaway. Without the requirements of a five-day commute, many homeowners feel less tethered to their primary residence and are eager for a change of scenery after spending so much time at home.

 

If you’re feeling cramped in your current space, you’ve probably considered a move. But what type of home would suit you best: a move-up home or a second home? Let’s explore each option to help you determine which one is right for you.

 

 

WHY CHOOSE A MOVE-UP HOME?

 

A move-up home is typically a larger or nicer home. It’s a great choice for families or individuals who simply need more space, a better location, or want features their current home doesn’t offer—like an inground pool, a different floor plan, or a dedicated home office.

 

Most move-up buyers choose to sell their current home and use the proceeds as a downpayment on their next one. If you’re struggling with a lack of functional or outdoor space in your current home, a move-up home can greatly improve your everyday life. And with mortgage rates at their lowest level in history, you may be surprised how much home you can afford to buy without increasing your monthly payment.3,4

 

To learn more about mortgage rates, contact us for a free copy of our recent report!
“Lowest Mortgage Rates in History: What It Means for Homeowners and Buyers”

 

One major benefit of choosing a move-up home is that you can typically afford a nicer place if you spend your entire budget on one property. However, if you’re longing for that vacation vibe, a second home may be a better choice for you.

 

 

WHY CHOOSE A SECOND HOME?

 

Once reserved for the ultra-wealthy, second homes have become more mainstream. Home sales are surging in many resort and bedroom communities as city dwellers search for a place to escape the crowds and quarantine in comfort.5 And with air travel on hold for many families, some are channeling their vacation budgets into vacation homes that can be utilized throughout the year.

 

A second home can also be a good option if you’re preparing for retirement. By purchasing your retirement home now, you can lock in a low interest rate, start paying down the mortgage, and begin enjoying the perks of retirement living while you’re still fit and active. Plus, it’s easier to qualify for a mortgage while you’re employed, although you may be charged a slightly higher interest rate than on a primary home loan.6

 

One advantage of choosing a second home is that you can offset a portion of the costs—and in some cases turn a profit—by renting it out on a platform like Airbnb or Vrbo. However, be sure to consult with a real estate professional or rental management company to get a realistic sense of the property’s true income potential.

 

 

WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?

 

You may read this and think: I’d really like both a move-up home AND a second home! But if you’re dealing with a limited budget (aren’t we all?), you’ll probably need to make a choice.  These three tactics can help you decide which option is right for you.

 

  1. Determine Your Time and Financial Budget

 

You may meet the bank’s qualifications to purchase a home, but do you have the time, energy, and financial resources to maintain it? This is an important question to ask yourself, no matter what type of home you choose.

 

Most buyers realize that a second home will mean double mortgages, utilities, taxes, and insurance. But consider all the extra time and expense that goes into maintaining two properties. Two lawns to mow. Two houses to clean. Two sets of systems and appliances that can malfunction. Second homes aren’t always a vacation. Make sure you’re prepared for the labor and carrying costs that go into maintaining another residence.

 

Of course, some move-up homes require more work than a second home. For example, if your move-up option is a major fixer-upper, you’ll probably invest more energy and capital than you would on a small vacation condo by the beach. Have an honest discussion about how much time and money you want to spend on your new property. Would a move-up home or a second home be a better fit given your parameters?

 

  1. Rank Your Priorities

 

If you’re still undecided, make a wish list of the characteristics you’d like in your new home. Then rank each item from most to least important. This exercise can help you determine your “must-have” features—and which ones you may need to sacrifice or delay. Here’s a sample to help you get started:

 

#

FEATURE

 

Dedicated home office

 

Extra bedroom

 

Pool

 

Walk to the beach

 

Big backyard

 

Close to friends and family

 

Short commute to the office

 

Investment potential

 

 

  1. Explore Your Options

 

Once you’ve determined your parameters and priorities, it’s time to begin your home search.

If you’re still not sure whether a move-up home or a second home is right for you, we can help.

 

Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We’ll discuss your options and help you assess the pros and cons of each, given your unique circumstances.

 

We can also send you property listings for both move-up homes and second homes within your budget so you can better envision each scenario. Sometimes, viewing listings of homes that meet your criteria can make the decision clear.

 

 

LET’S GET MOVING

 

Whether you’re ready to make a move or need help weighing your options, we’d love to help. We can determine your current home’s value and show you local properties that fit within your budget. Or, if your heart is set on a second home in another market, we can refer you to an agent in your dream locale. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!

 

 

Sources:

  1. Zillow -
    https://www.zillow.com/research/coronavirus-remote-work-suburbs-27046/
  2. The Harris Poll -
    https://theharrispoll.com/should-you-flee-your-city-almost-40-have-considered-it-during-the-pandemic/
  3. MarketWatch -
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/mortgage-rates-keeping-falling-so-will-they-finally-drop-to-0-2020-08-13
  4. Toronto Star -
    https://www.thestar.com/business/2020/08/07/you-can-get-a-fixed-rate-as-low-as-184-per-cent-which-is-unbelievable-low-mortgage-rates-driving-up-home-prices.html
  5. Kiplinger -
    https://www.kiplinger.com/real-estate/buying-a-home/601091/timely-reasons-to-buy-a-vacation-home
  6. The Press-Enterprise -
    https://www.pe.com/2018/11/17/5-tips-on-when-should-you-buy-a-retirement-house-hint-before-you-quit-work/
Aug. 5, 2020

Lowest Mortgage Rates in History: What It Means for Homeowners and Buyers

 

The interest rate on Canada’s most popular mortgage, the five-year fixed rate, has fallen to its lowest level in history. In early June, HSBC made headlines when it began offering Canadians a five-year fixed-rate mortgage below 2%. Multiple brokers followed suit, and some are now advertising even lower rates.1 And while many Canadians have rushed to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, others question the hype. Are today’s mortgage rates really a bargain?

 

While discounted five-year fixed mortgage rates have hovered between 2% and 4% for the past decade, they haven’t always been so low.2 For a period of 18 years, from 1973 to 1991, the posted five-year mortgage rate never fell below 10%. At the time, the Bank of Canada was hiking interest rates to try to stem a rising tide of inflation. It’s hard to imagine now, but the five-year fixed rate peaked at over 21% in 1981.3 Fortunately for home buyers, inflation began to normalize soon after, sending mortgage rates on a downward trajectory that has helped make homeownership more affordable for millions of Canadians.

 

So what’s causing today’s five-year fixed rates to sink to unprecedented lows? Economic uncertainty.

 

Fixed mortgage rates move in sync with the yield offered on government-backed bonds.4 As the coronavirus pandemic continues to dampen the economy and inject volatility into the stock market, a growing number of investors are shifting their money into low-risk bonds. This increased demand has driven bond yields—and mortgage rates—down.1

 

Quantitative easing measures taken by the Bank of Canada are also helping to bring down mortgage rates. The federal bank dropped its overnight lending rate to .25%, and it continues to inject billions of dollars into the economy, giving financial institutions the confidence and ability to continue lending.1

 

 

HOW LOW COULD MORTGAGE RATES GO?

 

No one can say with certainty how low mortgage rates will fall or when they will rise again. But the Bank of Canada has signalled its commitment to keeping the policy rate at its effective lower bound of .25% for the foreseeable future, and many economists expect it to remain there through 2022.4

 

The real estate technology firm Mortgage Sandbox compiled forecast data from Bank of Montreal, Central 1, Desjardins, National Bank, Royal Bank, Scotiabank, and TD Bank. According to their analysis, the consensus was that the fixed 5-year mortgage rate will rise modestly over the next two years, averaging between 2.3% and 2.88%.5

 

While forecasts may differ, many experts agree: Those who wait to take advantage of these unprecedented rates could miss out on the deal of a lifetime. Positive news about a vaccine or a faster-than-expected economic recovery could send rates back up to pre-pandemic levels.

 

 

SHOULD I CONSIDER BREAKING MY CURRENT MORTGAGE?

 

If you have a variable rate or recently renewed your mortgage, you may already be enjoying the benefits of falling interest rates. But if you’re locked into a higher fixed-rate mortgage for the next several years, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good idea to refinance.

 

Reduced interest rates can save homeowners a bundle on both monthly payments and interest over the term of a mortgage. The chart below illustrates the potential savings when you decrease your mortgage rate by just one percentage point. When it comes to refinancing, the bigger the spread, the greater the potential savings.

 

Estimated Monthly Payment On 5-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

25-Year Amortization

 

Loan Amount

3.5%

2.5%

Monthly Savings

Interest Savings Over 5 Years

$100,000

$499

$448

$51

$4,720

$200,000

$999

$896

$103

$9,441

$300,000

$1498

$1,344

$154

$14,161

$400,000

$1,997

$1,792

$205

$18,881

$500,000

$2,496

$2,240

$256

$23,601

 

Of course, you’ll need to factor in prepayment penalties and any fees associated with your new mortgage. In some cases, these can cost as much as 4% of the mortgage amount.6 You can use an online refinance calculator to estimate your potential savings, or we’d be happy to connect you with a mortgage professional in our network who can help you decide if refinancing is a good option for you.

 

 

HOW DO LOW MORTGAGE RATES BENEFIT HOME BUYERS?

 

We’ve already shown how low rates can save you money on your mortgage payments. But if you can meet the mortgage stress-test requirements,* they can also give a boost to your budget by increasing your purchasing power.

 

For example, imagine you have a budget of $1,500 to put toward your monthly mortgage payment. If you take out a 5-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.0% amortized over 25 years, you can afford a loan of $285,000.

 

Now let’s assume the mortgage rate falls to 3.0%. At that rate, you can afford to borrow $317,000 while still keeping the same $1,500 monthly payment. That’s a budget increase of $32,000!

 

If the rate falls even further to 2.0%, you can afford to borrow $354,000 and still pay the same $1,500 each month. That’s $69,000 over your original budget! All because the interest rate fell by two percentage points. If you’ve been priced out of the market before, today’s low rates may put you in a better position to afford your dream home.

 

On the other hand, rising mortgages rates will erode your purchasing power. Wait to buy, and you may have to settle for a smaller home in a less-desirable neighbourhood. So if you’re planning to move, don’t miss out on the phenomenal discount you can get with today’s historically-low rates.

 

(*This scenario assumes you can meet the current mortgage stress-test requirements.)

 

HOW CAN I SECURE THE BEST AVAILABLE MORTGAGE RATE?

 

The best mortgage rates are typically reserved for only highly-qualified borrowers. So what steps can you take to secure the lowest possible rate?

 

  1. Consider a Variable-Rate Mortgage

 

If you’re looking for the lowest rate possible, and you don’t mind the added risk, a five-year variable mortgage may be right for you. Even though the prime rate has held steady at 2.45% since April 10, lenders are gradually increasing their discount rates.1 And interest rates are expected to remain low at least through next year.

 

  1. Opt for a Closed Mortgage

 

Closed mortgages usually come with hefty penalties if you opt to prepay or refinance your mortgage before the term ends. However, they offer lower interest rates than convertible or open mortgages. It’s important to note that not all closed mortgages are created equal. Before you commit, make sure you understand exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay should you need to break your mortgage mid-term.

 

  1. Give Your Credit Score a Boost

 

You may have heard that the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has raised its minimum credit score requirement from 600 to 680. And while there are plenty of banks willing to lend to borrowers with a lower score, their best rates go to those with excellent credit. Unfortunately, there’s no fast fix for bad credit, but you can take steps to give your score a boost before you apply for a loan:7

      Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report.

      Pay off debt, or spread it across multiple credit facilities.

      Charge small amounts and then quickly pay off any dormant credit cards.

      To lower your utilization rate, pay your credit card bill before the statement date.

 

  1. Make a Large Down Payment

 

You may be surprised to learn that the lowest advertised rates often go to insured borrowers who put down less than 20%. That’s because these “high-ratio borrowers” must pay for mortgage default insurance, which protects the lender from any financial loss. So while “conventional borrowers” who make a down payment of 20% may be charged a slightly higher interest rate, their total borrowing costs are lower because they don’t have to pay for mortgage default insurance.8 A down payment larger than 20% can bring down borrowing costs even further.

 

  1. Shop Around

 

Rates, terms, and fees can vary widely amongst lenders, so do your homework. If you’re renewing an existing mortgage, start with your current lender. Then contact several others to find out which one is willing to offer you the best overall deal. But be sure to complete the process within 45 days—or else the credit inquiries by multiple mortgage companies could have a negative impact on your credit score.9

 

 

READY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE LOWEST MORTGAGE RATES IN HISTORY?

 

Mortgage rates have never been this low. Don’t miss out on your chance to lock in a great rate on a new home or refinance your existing mortgage. Either way, we can help.

 

We’d be happy to connect you with the most trusted mortgage professionals in our network. And if you’re ready to start shopping for a new home, we’d love to assist you with your search—all at no cost to you! Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

 

Sources:

1.      Canadian Mortgage Trends -
https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/06/mortgage-rates-keep-setting-new-record-lows/

2.     Rate Hub -
https://www.ratehub.ca/5-year-fixed-mortgage-rate-history

3.      The Globe and Mail -
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/the-market/remember-when-what-have-we-learned-from-80s-interest-rates/article24398735/

4.     Canadian Mortgage Trends -
https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/07/bank-of-canada-hints-at-no-interest-rate-hikes-until-2023/

5.      Mortgage Sandbox -
https://www.mortgagesandbox.com/mortgage-interest-rate-forecast

6.     Financial Post -
https://business.financialpost.com/moneywise/with-mortgage-rates-bottomed-out-its-time-for-homeowners-to-take-advantage

7.      Canadian Mortgage Trends -
https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/02/five-tips-increase-credit-score-quickly/

8.     Integrated Mortgage Planners -
https://www.integratedmortgageplanners.com/blog/first-time-home-buyers/canadian-mortgage-rates-explained-why-a-smaller-down-payment-comes-with-a-lower-mortgage-rate-tuesday-morning-interest-rate-update-may-23-2017/

9.     Equifax -
https://www.consumer.equifax.ca/personal/education/credit-report/understanding-hard-inquiries-on-credit-report/