No Area Is Safe From Bidding Wars

No Area Is Safe From Bidding Wars

Bidding wars for the past few years have been exclusive to Toronto and some hot neighbourhoods in the GTA. Well if you’ve been looking for a house lately in Ontario, you will know that it is crazy out there.

I personally have been inching further and further away with my clients because prices have been getting higher and higher.

The reasons why we have bidding wars are simple, and is a perfect storm for a sellers market.

1. Interest Rates: Interest rates have been low and steady

2. Demand: There has been a steady demand

3. Low Inventory: There is not enough inventory for the amount of buyers out there

4. Employment: Unemployment has been low.

5. Foreign investment: American & Chinese investment has been high.

After all these factors the main thing that I’m seeing is that a person sells their house on a street, another home owner realizes that for a little bit more they can move up to a bigger house, and now everybody is thinking this, and thus starts the demand.

Since the closer you get to Toronto the prices are astronomical, the prices in and around the GTA are growing due to all these factors and everybody is looking to move up in the world.

Your Information May Be Public Soon

Your Information May Be Public Soon

It is not clear what or how information will be distributed in the future, but one thing that is going to be true soon, your information is going to be public soon. 

 
A ruling has been passed that the Toronto Real Estate board practices are anti-competitive with regards to information regarding properties. 
 
The most “Valuable Information” that people want is sold information. That is what is going to be public most likely. Whether or not owners names, or more information is going to be released is yet to be seen.
 
Before any of this happens, TREB, will be appealing the decision. TREB’s stance is that your information being released will be a violation of the public trust. 
 
So what does this mean for the future of Real Estate?
 
Well this will dramatically change the landscape of how Real Estate is sold. It will change how the model currently exists, and everybody will have the same information. So will this kill the Real Estate Agent?
 
My answer is no, for some, and yes for others. I have long held the notion since websites and information has become more widely available, that Real Estate agents are not just statistics. I believe those agents were, are and going to be a dying breed. While the information they give is valuable, the job is so much more, that stats, and sold info is an afterthought now. 
 
If you look to our neighbours to the south, the public currently have all the information they want. So what has this done to their market? It hasn’t changed much, and in most cases, the clients are much more informed. 
What it has done has sprung up a lot of data mining companies that gather your information, and sell it to Realtors or to the public to neatly organize everything for you. 
 
There is also a curiosity of CREA only wanting to make available the Toronto Real Estate board information. While this is very curious, I do not understand why one board would be targeted amount thousands across Canada. It may be the competition tribunal does not have the funds to attack every board, and that by attacking the biggest one, it may think that the others would voluntarily submit to the same fate as TREB. 
 
So my predictions are that many people are not going to want their privacy violated and that some rich people will revolt and file lawsuits. The next thing I can see is the MLS system becoming obsolete, and the big real estate companies joining a data sharing among themselves. The next thing I think we will see as long as the market is hot, is a lot of pocket and private exclusive listings. Finally I see a lot of transactions being done by numbered company. 
 
Either way get prepared for your neighbour to know everything and anything regarding the house you just bought and all of the other investments you might have. 

Buying a House is a Split Second Decision Now

Buying a House is a Split Second Decision Now

If you have been looking for a house in this market, you will certainly know that buying a house now is a split second decision. Long gone are the days of waiting it out, and seeing what else comes up on the market and thinking about putting an offer. Chances are if you do, you already lost the house to the next person looking at the property.

Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you can make, and while, I do not downplay that fact, the simple truth is that there is just simply not enough inventory out there. Surely in the coming months there might be a lot more houses on the market when the whether heats up but for now, it is go time for buyers.

So what does it mean to buy a house with no time at all to weight the pros and cons for days at a time? It means going to see a property as soon as it comes out, and for me as an agent, having my iPad and paperwork ready to put an offer on this house. In some cases, if they are accepting offers next week, we must try to bully the offer date or make our offer better than waiting for next week for the sellers, and possibly walking away from this house. It means no financing clauses, and no home inspections. It means even with that getting into a bidding war on the first day a house is released. It means putting an offer in, higher than the listing price. (Disclaimer, there are ways around getting a financing clause, and home inspection in, and still removing the clause. Contact me directly for my strategy)

Unfortunately this is the result of too many buyers, low interest rate, and not enough inventory. If you do not jump on the house, then if you delay, the house in most cases will be gone, or you will be in multiple offers right away. Sometimes the early bird gets the worm.

So there are a few things you as a buyer can do to make this decision a bit easier and move the thought process faster.

1. Have a list of criteria that you want for the house.
2. List the possible renovations that need to be done.
3. Price out things that must be renovated now.
4. Find out how much you might get for your house.
5. Get a Walk through home inspection.
6. Get a Pre Approval for your financing.
7. Set up a strategy for each house you enter.
8. Figure out how much you really want this out.
9. Figure out how much you really want to pay for this house you are looking at.
10. As Soon as you go through the house, do you see yourself living in this house for 5-10 years?

Is Our Market Indestructible?

Is Our Market Indestructible?

Look up, its a bird, its a plane, No.. its not superman, its our Real Estate Market!

Almost everyday I speak to somebody regarding the Real Estate market in the GTA crashing.
Everybody says to me, wow, I can’t believe that house sold for 200% over asking.

I started my real estate career in a downturn, in 2008, so really that was the last time that the market was in a buyers market situation.
While the market was low, it still didn’t crash at that time. The last time we had a full on crash was the late 80’s and early 90’s.

If you look at the stats for the past 40 years, you will see one thing that is very common; The market goes up and down. While it goes up and down, it has steadily gone up in Toronto.

If you watch news casts and listen to real estate experts, you will be listening to a lot of crap. Nobody really knows or can predict if the market will tank into oblivion.

If you watch movies about the market crash in the U.S. you will see that many people were predicting the market crashing there since 2003, but it really didn’t happen until 2008. That’s a five year difference, and that scenario had the worst sort of ingredients to start that fiasco.

Here is Toronto, the laws are pretty stable, the interest rates and mortgages are not wacky or have a lot of craziness to them, they are pretty standard, and there are no funny business mortgages here. So in that respect, the money is stable. Our laws are for the most part making sure, people who are taking on mortgages can afford them. So that’s a big factor in determining if the market will crash.

While our dollar is tanking big time, bad for oil and subsidiary business, it is great for other businesses such as manufacturing, travel and of course Real Estate.

Unemployment is a big factor in people being able to afford their house correct? While it is up in Alberta, the rest of the country has actually gone down a bit this month. So its bad for Alberta, but here in Toronto, its gone down and held steady.

Market Demand. If you have tried to buy a house in the GTA, you know for the most part you will be in a bidding war situation. The reason being, so many people are coming into the GTA, and staying where they work, they do not want to commute. Plus, foreign buyers, are buying up our cheap Real Estate. Compared to other parts of the world, our prices are cheap. Yes they are. First time home buyers are buying condos, driving up that market as well.

Cheap Interest Rates. Getting a mortgage in Canada is like the banks giving away free money. Yes you pay a measly 2.5% but that is a far cry from the 8% mortgages I was selling. It is harder to get a rental than to get a mortgage these days. If you have some money down, and you have a decent job, you can get a mortgage, regardless of your credit. Yes there are many lenders who are private that will lend to anybody, if you have minimum down.

So, the next time you have your friends over and you start talking Real Estate, and start dreaming of a crash, examine these factors discussed and think again for now!

Senior Abuse an Unspoken Truth

Senior Abuse an Unspoken Truth

We hear about abuse in the media a lot. We hear about teacher scandals, priest abuse and so many more of people in a power position. One area of abuse we do not hear anything about is Senior Abuse. 

There are many forms of senior abuse. It is similar to all of the abuses mentioned above and is very common. It is so hard to recognize senior abuse because like most abuses, it is coming from a loved one, a child, or a care taker. 

Personally I’ve seen many abuses first hand in dealing with my senior clients, and it is very disturbing and hard to get in the middle of it. 

From the onset of my experience, it started with a child getting frustrated with an elderly parent, because they did not want to co-operate in the way the child wanted. It then transferred from an argument to verbal abuse. From there it turned to physical abuse, and the threats of taking control of their money and future continued. 

There have been many times when I have seen tempers getting out of control, due to mis-communication. Many people don’t realize that their parent is not who they used to be 30 years ago. Their communication levels are not the same and many things have changed as well. 

We are very quick now, if we do not get a response in a second from our phones or social media yesterday it is too late. We think that people are ignoring us. Many seniors do not work like that. Big decisions take time, and they are slow to process everything that is being told to them. There might also be some sort of impairment due to old age, or other factors. 

Another thing that may be happening due to some sort of dementia is spousal abuse. This can also start to happen late in a marriage. Sometimes if one spouse has dementia, their actions change and they become abusive. This is something that a child needs to pay attention to as well. 

Here are some tips that can help when dealing with your parents in a high stress situation such as moving.

1. Realize your parents are not the same as when you grew up. 

2. Patience is key, while they will not move at the same pace as you, be very patient with them.

3. Minor things are a big deal to them. Sometimes, a trip to the new home, or sitting down talking to a bank manager, or Real Estate agent is an event that they prepare for all week. 

4. Communication is key. Make sure that you are talking to them calmly and that they understand what is transpiring. Sometimes, reminding them a few times of an appointment or event happening is necessary. 

5. Verbal Abuse can lead to physical abuse and more. Just because your parent is not doing what you want, verbal abuse is not ok. Sometimes its better to step away, than to continue to try to force your own agenda. I have seen perfectly normal people start to drag their parent into an old age residence when they refused to step inside.

6. Look in the mirror. Examine how you are speaking and dealing with situations regarding your parents. It can be frustrating but maybe a different approach is needed. Maybe you can consult a professional like me, to help you in certain situations. 

7. Watch out for an type of abuse, at an old age home, home care, from another parent or sibling or from an uncle or aunt. 

If you need some help regarding this please contact me and I can help you find the proper help in any situation. 

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Should You Rent on Your Own or with Your Friends?

Should You Rent on Your Own or with Your Friends?

The school year is a while away, but looking for a residence for the up coming school year is almost upon us. 

 

For many this will be the first time that they will be away from home, and the first time they will be responsible for a residence and rent. Many students to ease the burden opt to rent with a few friends. While this may be a great idea in the beginning, you should think about a few things vs. renting a place on your own. 

1. Privacy:

 

What if your friends want to party, or have sex and you need to study? What do you do then? Leave your place you pay for and go do your studies somewhere else?

2. Rent:

 

What if your friends are late with the rent? Who will cover them? Will you risk getting kicked out and losing your last month over your friend being irresponsible.

3. Cleanliness:

Do you like living in a pigsty? While, you might be clean, for many kids this is the first time their mom is not telling them to clean up. 

4. Place:

Typically if you need to rent a place with a few people, it needs to be a older house. There’s nothing wrong with that but you must understand its an older building. Some people want to live in a one unit condo or apartment which may suit your needs better. 

5. Do you know who you are renting with:

If you have a friend and they say hey we are going to rent with my other buddy but you do not know them, than this may be a problem. You are basically going to be living with a stranger and this can lead to problems down the road. 
These are a few factors to consider when looking for a place with friends, maybe it might be better to live on your own, or you may opt to take the plunge and live with a few buddies. 

The Only Thing That Will Change Our Market

The Only Thing That Will Change Our Market

I hear a report daily about the market is set for a downturn, or that we are in a bubble. While most of the country is in a slower market, Toronto and Vancouver are not. In fact they are defying the odds and the price of Real Estate is steadily going up each month. It is on such an up swing that these two cities affect the whole countries stats. 

 
If you live outside of these cities you would think that what you hear on the news is a joke. You might also see your neighbourhood in such a slow market you can’t believe that houses are flying off the market at an alarming rate as your see on the news. 
 
There are so many factors that affect the price of Real Estate, such as, dollar exchange rate, Oil, unemployment, trade and more. Really there is only one thing that will affect the Market in Toronto and Vancouver: The Interest Rate. 
 
While interest rate will deter Canadian from buying, the rate still might not affect foreign buying. So the prices will go down, but it will not go down like you think, and it will not crash like you think. So much of our market is driven by foreign investment. It is the reason why our market in these two cities are so high. We as Canadians are competing for our real estate with foreigners. Typically it was Chinese investors, but now we also have American Investors coming north of the border. 
 
So While we hear that the market is going to crash, really if the interest rates go up, it will only be investors buying properties. The removal of Canadians in the market will lower the prices and bidding wars but the market will still be there due to foreign investment. 

Selling Your Home In the Winter

Selling Your Home In the Winter

Sure, there are fewer buyers and the skies are gloomy. So warm and brighten up the place; make it look like a refuge from the weather.

What makes selling a home more stressful? Selling it in the middle of winter.

The lawn is brown, the weather is usually bad and, unlike the longer days of summer, you have less time to show it off during daylight hours.

But not everyone has the luxury of waiting until the traditional spring or summer home-buying season to plant that “for sale” sign. And while it’s true that in most areas you’ll probably have fewer buyers during the winter, you will have less competition from other sellers.

The season makes staging — the concept of showing your house at its best — even more important.
Be prepared to put a little effort into it. It’s more difficult to make something look really appealing this time of year.

If you do it right, you can really make your house stand out.

1. Keep snow and ice at bay.

If the buyer can’t get in easily, the house won’t sell. That means keeping walkways and driveways free of the frozen stuff. Just like trimming the lawn in the summer, you want to make the home look like it’s been maintained. If you’re away frequently or live in an area that’s subject to bad weather, it can pay to hire a service to regularly salt or shovel the driveway and sidewalks.

What’s your home worth?

2. Warm it up.

If you’re showing during the winter, think “warm, cozy and homey.

Before a buyer comes through, adjust the thermostat to a warmer temperature to make it welcoming. Sellers like to turn the temperature down because of heat costs, but buyers who come in and aren’t comfortable won’t stay long.

If you have a gas fireplace, turning it on right before the tour can give the house a little ambiance.

With a wood-burning fireplace, you’ve got to be a little more careful. If the house is vacant, don’t chance it. But if you’re still living there and will be there during the tour, it can be a nice touch.

Many times, sellers leave right before the agent and prospective buyers arrive. In that case, adjust the heat to a comfortable temperature and have the hearth set for a fire. Buyers feel the warmth and see the potential, and you don’t have to worry about safety concerns.

3. Take advantage of natural light.

Encourage showing during the high-daylight hours. At this time of year, if you show after work, you’re totally in the dark.

Make the most of the light you do have. Have the curtains and blinds cleaned and open them as wide as possible during daytime showings. Clean all the lamps and built-in fixtures, and replace the bulbs with the highest wattage that they will safely accommodate. Before you show the house, turn on all the lights.

4. Get the windows washed.

Buyers act on the first impression. Windows are one thing that many sellers don’t even consider. In winter, that strong southern light can reveal grime and make it look like the home hasn’t been well-maintained.

5. Play music softly in the background.

To create a little atmosphere, tune the radio to the local classical station. Turn it down so that you barely hear it in the background. It’s soothing, soft classical music tends to have the most appeal to buyers.

6. Make it comfortable and cozy.

Set the scene and help the buyers see themselves living happily in this house. Consider things such as putting a warm throw on the sofa or folding back the thick comforter on the bed. Tap into the simple things this time of year that make you feel like you’re home.

7. Emphasize winter positives.

Is your home on a bus route or some other vital service that means it’s plowed or de-iced regularly in bad weather? Be sure to mention that to the buyers.

8. Set up timers.

You want your home to look warm and welcoming whenever prospective buyers drive past. But you’re not home all the time, so put indoor and outdoor lights on timers.

Look at the outside lighting around the door. Is there enough illumination to make it inviting? If not, either get the fixtures changed or have new ones added.

9. Make it festive.

Even if you’re not actually going to be present, greet your buyers as if they were going to be guests at a party.Set up the dinner table with the good china and silver. Have a plate of cookies for your guests, some warm cider or even chilled bottles of water.

First impressions are so powerful, if it looks like you’re expecting me and greeting me as company, that’s a powerful impact.

10. Give the home a nice aroma.

The No. 1 favorite? “Chocolate-chip cookies. Just about everybody likes that smell.

Other popular scents: cinnamon rolls, freshly baked bread, apple pie, apple cider or anything with vanilla, cinnamon or yeast.

But don’t overdo it, either. Scented candles in every room or those plug-in air fresheners can leave buyers wondering what you’re trying to mask.

Watch the bad smells, too. Pet smells, smoke and musty odors can cling to curtains and carpets. Ask a friend to give it a sniff test. Then clean the house, air it out and replace drapes, carpets or rugs before you show it.

11. Protect your investment.

I will ask buyers to either remove shoes or slip on paper “booties” over their footwear before touring the house. Many buyers like that. It indicates a pride of ownership and meticulousness that resonates with buyers.

 

Family Pictures…Take Them Down!

Family Pictures…Take Them Down!

The first thing I do when I go look at a prospective house to sell is to look at the walls. I look for family pictures that I will be telling my prospective clients to take down. Some people put up wedding pictures, baby pictures, and family pictures of deceased relatives everywhere in their house. Family pictures can make your house feel very comfortable and give your house that “homey” look, but it also detracts buyers in a psychological way.

You would never consciously think this but when buyers come into a house they picture themselves living in the space. When you have your pictures up in a house on the market, buyers get confused sub-consciously because they are no longer picturing themselves living in your house but they are picturing your family living there. Therefore you take your house off the market and make it very difficult for a buyer to come into your home and live there. Buyers also start to get distracted by your pictures in that they start to focus on your life and what’s going on in the pictures. They are no longer looking at your space to move into but rather start to feel uncomfortable in that they are kicking you out of your house. The pictures start to send a message to the buyer that many happy times have taken place here, “I shouldn’t impose on these people’s lives by buying this house.” Some people also start to ask questions and wonder why these nice people in the pictures do not want to live in this house anymore, what’s wrong with it? “Maybe this house is not good enough for them?” “Maybe its not good enough for me, either?”

These questions might be an exaggeration of what people might think, but why give a buyer any reason to doubt how great your house is to live in.

First impressions are everything. The first thing to do when taking your house off the market is go to the local store and buy some cheap paintings or pictures to put up. Do not buy tacky. Buy something that will make your house look modern and trendy to match your house and your staging. Hide other family air looms and things that a distinct to your family. Your house should look more like it came out of a home trends magazine. I know it might be stale to live there for a few weeks but you are showcasing your house. Suck it up and when you move into your new house you can put your pictures back up. Sell Your House by Taking those pictures DOWN!

How to Avoid Buyers Remorse

How to Avoid Buyers Remorse

Scenarios that Bring on Buyers Remorse

Remorse sometimes kicks in after we start talking to others about the new house.

Discussions with family and friends.

They usually mean well, but it’s not uncommon for family and friends to question your choice and what you paid for it, especially if it’s your first home purchase and they are seasoned pros.
But do they know the market? It may have been years since they bought a property themselves, and if that’s the case they probably aren’t in touch with current prices. They might even live in another part of the country, in an area where housing costs a fraction of what you can expect to pay at your location. And let’s face it, parents rarely think a house is “good enough” for their children.

Continuing to look at houses.
Big mistake. Stop looking at other houses unless you feel the contract has a good chance of falling apart (you think the home inspection might uncover serious repair issues, etc.).

Real estate agents who offer no guidance.
Some agents do not guide their buyers through the closing process. Questions and doubts pop up and the agents aren’t around to provide answers and assure their buyers that what they are feeling is normal. Unanswered questions can put buyers in a panic mode, especially when it’s their first home. Panic leads to doubt–and ultimately buyer’s remorse.

Contact your agent and others involved in your closing whenever you have a question. It’s their job to help you.

Your own doubts.
Nothing in life is certain, and we tend to think about the uncertainties even more whenever we make important commitments, dwelling on the negative what-ifs instead of looking at the positives.

Here are some “Bites” in ensuring that you made the correct decision:

1. Bring out your list of criteria and match the house you bought to that.
2. Does the house feel right compared to the other ones you looked at?
3. Did you find many houses that met your needs or was this one a rarity?
4.If you can back out of the contract, is it realistic to think you will find a house that’s “better?”
5.What was special about the house just a few days ago and how has it changed–really changed?

Analyzing the facts that lead you to the home will help you sort out your feelings about the contract. Was it truly a poor choice or would you be nervous moving forward on any house?

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