Tag Archives: first-time buyers

April Showers Love on Barrie’s Real Estate Market

May 11, 2012

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April in Barrie and the area has been another blockbuster month for the real estate market. We’ve broken the record in Barrie for 2012 with a stellar 271 sold residential properties. The average selling price is up once again at $301,390 which is a 6.25% increase from this time last year. The average days on the market are at 32 with a list-to-sale price ratio of 97.9% (which means sellers are getting almost 98% of asking price) indicating that the sellers market continues.

This doesn’t mean that buyers shouldn’t be out looking! In Barrie alone, 421 new homes came on the market (802 new listings on the entire Barrie board). There is definitely something out there for everyone. The bonus being a buyer right now is that the mortgage rates have remained stable…for the time being. You probably read Tim’s “Mortgage Monday Rate Update” this week that talks about great 5-year, and even 10-year rates!

Another aspect to keep in mind is that every neighbourhood has its own market conditions. If you have a question about a specific neighbourhood, or how your own house might fare on the market, talk to your favourite REALTOR to get the best advice.

Stay tuned for more real estate statistics every month!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Marijuana Grow Houses

February 10, 2012

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When you’re buying a house, there’s always the possibility that you’ll find an old grow house on your search. Unfortunately, the signs can be very hard to spot. Before a grow house goes on the market, it should be extensively renovated to correct the problems, but sometimes the only corrections are cosmetic.

Here are some common signs that the house you’re interested in may have been a grow op:

  1. A tampered electrical panel and exterior meter
  2. Fireplace alterations
  3. An unusual amount of venting on the roof
  4. Mould spots in corners of rooms
  5. Fresh paint and/or condensation around windows

Like usual, always make sure to get a home inspection before you finalize the deal on any house you’re buying. Although an inspector cannot guarantee that a house was never a grow op, most trusted home inspectors have enough experience to notice the signs. You can also contact your local police department to find out if they have ever dismantled grow ops at a specific address.

Here are some of the dangers that result from a grow house:

  1. Fire and electrocution
  2. Booby traps
  3. Toxic mould and chemical fumes
  4. Potential violence if the house is well-known by drug dealers
  5. Environmental damage

Check out this YouTube video from CBC’s “Marketplace” on a grow op bust in Brampton.

Another benefit to using a REALTOR is that we are obligated to disclose the fact that a house is a grow op if we’re aware of it; buying privately gives you no guarantee on anything!

Good luck, and always ask lots of questions!!!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Housing Bubble or Housing Balloon?

February 3, 2012

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Since Monday, there has been a lot of talk in the real estate industry about BMO’s latest report on Canada’s housing market.

First, let’s get some definitions out of the way. The word “bubble” has been used a lot since the recession started a couple years ago. But what does it mean? Basically, the value of property has increased to an unsustainable level and then falls. This is what happened in many states where you now see properties sell for a fraction of the price when originally purchased. That’s the simple answer :)

The “balloon” is a new term that better describes the state of real estate across Canada. What it basically means – and as you can read below – is that instead of popping like a bubble, property values are deflating slowly. According to this article, by the time these values should make an impact, inflation will have leveled it out.

So, you’re probably asking if you should be worried. Here is my take; be smart with your money. Know how much you can spend, and keep it in line. Luckily, real estate in Canada is fairly stable. Even better, in Barrie the average price of homes continue to rise every year (and often every month)! Buying a home is generally a good investment, and right now with mortgage rates so low, it’s a great time to jump in the market.

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Courtesy of BMO Financial Group

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Jan. 30, 2012) - The housing boom in Canada is more likely to cool than correct, according to a new special report released today by BMO’s Economics Department.

“With the exception of a few regions, valuations remain only moderately high across the country, especially when low interest rates, demographics, construction costs, land-use regulations and foreign capital inflows are considered,” said Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, BMO Financial Group. “Low interest rates should hold affordability in check for some time, allowing incomes to catch up with higher prices and restore proper valuations.”

Balloon, not a bubble

According to the report, elevated valuations do imply the risk of a material correction in the event of a shock, such as a spike in interest rates, a severe recession or stalled foreign investment. “Barring one of these triggers, however, a dramatic correction is unlikely,” suggested Dr. Cooper. “In our view, the national housing market is more like a balloon than a bubble. While bubbles always burst, a balloon often deflates slowly in the absence of a ‘pin’. In most regions, where valuations are just moderately high, the air should seep out slowly, as rising incomes catch up with higher prices, allowing valuations to normalize before interest rates do.”

Dr. Cooper added that while household debt in Canada has been a point of concern, debt levels relative to income are not as troublesome as some suggest and likely will not trigger a severe market correction. “Contrary to some reports, Canadians have nowhere near the debt burden of Americans at the peak of the housing bubble. Even today, after four years of U.S. deleveraging, household debt ratios are lower in Canada.”

Cost of housing not out of reach

Dr. Cooper noted that on a national basis, the cost of housing is not out of reach for the typical buyer. “Because of low mortgage rates, the typical homebuyer still spends just over one-third of disposable income on mortgage payments, a share that’s just modestly above long-term norms.”

She added that interest rates won’t stay low forever, and even a moderate two-percentage point increase to more normal levels would put some strain on affordability and slow the market. However, for current owners, moderate rate increases likely won’t severely stress affordability given that about 68 per cent of mortgages have fixed terms – many five years or longer – and most variable-rate holders will likely lock-in when rates begin to climb.

Katie Archdekin, Head of Mortgage Products, BMO Bank of Montreal, warned that even in a low interest rate environment, Canadians should prepare ahead of time financially in case of future increases.

“Regardless of current interest rates, it is important for homeowners or potential buyers to be prudent and stress-test their mortgage against a higher interest rate to ensure they can afford what they signed up for. The rule of thumb is total housing expenses should not consume more than one-third of total household income.” Ms. Archdekin added that Canadians looking to buy a home should consider a maximum amortization of 25 years, which will save homeowners thousands of dollars in interest rates over the life of the mortgage and ensure Canadians can become debt-free faster.

Other national and regional findings include:

  • Home ownership in Canada at record highs, climbing about four percentage points in the past decade to around 70 per cent, which is above the current U.S. rate of 66.3 per cent and even above the peak U.S. rate of 69.2 per cent.
  • The national housing boom has already cooled, with Canadian home sales up just 4.6 per cent in 2011 and the once red-hot Vancouver market softening. Sales have declined considerably in Vancouver and remain soft across British Columbia.
  • Sales remain strong in Alberta and Saskatchewan as a result of healthy rates of immigration from other countries and provinces, as well as solid investment-led economic growth. Alberta is enjoying the fastest private-sector job creation in three decades.
  • Demand remains robust in a few major centres outside of these three provinces, notably Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Halifax and Ottawa.

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Facing Multiple Offers

January 10, 2012

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First, let’s define a multiple offer. It is a situation in which more than one buyer is interested in a property and offers the seller an Agreement of Purchase and Sale which includes price, inclusions, terms, closing date, conditions, etc.

Working with multiple offers is a very emotional process for both buyers and sellers, but for very different reasons. You may have been in a position as a buyer when your offer isn’t the only one on the table. In Ontario, if there is more than one offer on a property, the listing salesperson must disclose the number of competing offers, however they cannot divulge the price, terms or conditions on any other offers.

If you’re a buyer, consider these options:

  • Pricing. This is the first thing people think of in any offer situation, but it’s extra stressful now. Your best price is certainly the route most buyers would take. Consider, however, what the property is worth. If your offer is accepted with an inflated price, you may have issues getting financing – no lender will give you money if they can’t make it back in the case of power of sale or foreclosure. Also know that offering the asking price – or more than the asking price – does not guarantee your offer will be accepted.
  • Home Inspection. You may be tempted to not include a clause in the conditions requiring a home inspection. Indeed this is your decision, but just be aware that if there are problems later in the house you will be responsible for them. This is a big risk that you have to very carefully consider.
  • Financing. Removing the financing condition is an immense risk. Don’t forget that pre-qualifying for a mortgage doesn’t guarantee that you will be approved. The lender still has to assess the property as well as your most current income and credit rating. Again, this is your decision as a buyer, but if you don’t get financing after the offer has been accepted, you’re still responsible for buying the house!

If you are in a seller’s position, your emotions are no doubt different than the buyers’! You are probably excited at the fact that you get to choose the best offer out there, and you are in the position of power. You still have some very tough decisions to make, but talk to your REALTOR about all the options available to you.

If you’re a seller, consider these options:

  • Accept the best offer. This means that there are no negotiations since you are happy with the offer overall including price, terms, closing date, etc.
  • Negotiate with one buyer and reject all others. This is a tricky situation because if your counter-offer is rejected by the buyer, you’re back to square one. It can, however, work in your favour if there are only a couple minor details that need to be ironed out.
  • Negotiate with one buyer and let the other buyers know that their offers have been set aside in the meantime. This is the least risky option for you, however be prepared for the “other” buyers to make offers on other properties.
  • Reject all offers. As with non-competing offers, you don’t have to accept any of them if they don’t meet your minimum standards.

Whoever you are in a multiple offer situation, be sure to seek advice from your real estate professional about the choices. We have all the latest market conditions that can help you make the decision, but remember, you have the final say!

Good luck!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Top 5 Reasons to Make Barrie Your New Home in 2012

November 29, 2011

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Thinking of making a change in the new year? Want to get out of the rat race…but not too far away? Sick of your small town, but don’t want to be overwhelmed in a big city? Barrie has the best of both worlds. Read more to find out why!!

  1. The Waterfront. Kempenfelt Bay, as part of Lake Simcoe, is a main attraction for locals and visitors alike. Not only is it safe to swim here, you can fish in summer AND winter! Seeing ice fishing huts scattered throughout Kempenfelt Bay is an amazing sight. It is also the site for many festivals, including the ever-popular Kempenfest, the Barrie Waterfront Festival, and Barrie’s CaribFest! These summer festivals bring thousands of people to our fair city which is a testament to how attractive our waterfront is.
  2. Year-Round Activities. Lots of cities and towns have plenty of activities to do throughout the non-snowy months, but very few have the opportunity to include just about everyone in winter activities. In warmer weather, you can go biking, hiking, rollerblading on the boardwalk, or just go for a walk on the water and get an ice cream cone! In winter, the possibilities are almost as endless. As I mentioned before, head down to Kempenfelt Bay for some ice fishing, or if you’re into something more high energy, how about some kite-boarding?! Drive 10 minutes out of town for some snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on the Oro Rail Trail. Drive a little bit longer for downhill skiing at Horseshoe or Moonstone!
  3. Great Restaurants & Shopping. I love our downtown restaurants and shopping. We have great independent business owners. If it’s fine dining you want, check out Michael & Marion’s, At the Five, or North. Want a pub atmosphere? Try Donaleigh’s! You can find live music at Kenzington, Manhattan’s or see bigger names at The Mansion. And if you’re looking for Indian food or sushi, you’ll find it in Barrie. We have great boutiques for shopping downtown, and the Georgian Mall is there for all your shopping needs. Rarely do I have to go to Toronto to shop for myself or for gifts. The Paper Merchant has beautiful stationary and gifts for any occasion.
  4. Small-Town Feel, Close to Big City. It’s not very often I go downtown or to the mall or to a restaurant where I don’t run into someone I know…and I’ve only lived here for a few years. Barrie’s a great city to make connections – everyone knows everyone! We have the new Mady Centre for the Performing Arts for live performances, but for bigger productions you can still head to Toronto for an evening at the opera or to see the TSO, or even commute to work while you’re looking for a job here.
  5. Affordable Housing. If you’re coming from Toronto, you know that buying a home in the City is very difficult for most people. On average, you’ll probably need to spend half a million dollars to get a very average home. The average price for a home in Barrie is around $280,000. If you’re just starting out on a single income, you can even find a small condo for well under $200,000. That’s not to say there aren’t beautiful homes here either, but $500,000 will go a lot further here than it will in Toronto. Have a couple million to spend? Get a beautiful estate home in the country or on the water. Check out November’s RBC report on Housing Trends and Affordability to see what’s going on across Canada.

There are so many reasons to make Barrie your home. I’ve lived in lots of different cities in Canada, and I’ve chosen to make Barrie my permanent home. At least come check us out for a weekend, and if you’ve never been here and you’re looking to make a move, I’d be happy to show you around!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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