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REAL ESTATE MARKET AS OF MID-SEPT/21

HOW IS THE MARKET NOW?


Well, this year has certainly been one for the books!  The early part of the year was unlike anything I (and some more “seasoned” colleagues) have ever seen before.  We thought the prices had reached their peak last year (at least in my local market of Southern Georgian Bay), but the early part of this year proved us wrong with savage bidding wars on pretty much anything that came onto the market.
 
While this was good news for people who were selling investment properties or their non-primary residences (aside from the Capital Gains implications), it was a mixed bag for those who had to buy their next homes, as they were paying a premium for that.   Vacant lots were snapped up as people who couldn’t purchase the home they wanted, decided that they would build – but the price and availability of materials and tradespeople also became problematic due to demand and the impacts of Covid shutdowns.
 
The latter part of the summer has seen activity slow down somewhat. Prime properties (waterfronts) and those that are priced and presented properly are still selling quite quickly, but there are fewer multiple offer situations.  Properties that are older and perhaps needing some TLC are staying on the market longer and are expiring or having price reductions, especially if the original list price is too optimistic.  The only area that still seems a bit on the overheated side (in my humble opinion) is for mobile homes. Some of them are selling for prices that seem unduly high given that the actual “home” has a more rapid depreciation than a regular home and the land is leased rather than owned – but as always, it’s about supply and demand.
 
It is by no means a “buyers market” but fortunately there is now more opportunity for buyers to include due diligence clauses (home inspection, etc) and still have a successful outcome to their offer. This is good news for everyone.  Unless a buyer has very deep pockets, unconditional offers are incredibly risky.  I personally believe that allowing buyers to do their due diligence is also good for sellers.  Giving the buyer the opportunity to do a thorough home inspection protects the seller as well, (as long as the seller hasn’t deliberately hidden a defect in their property or withheld relevant information) because it allows the buyer to make an informed choice and there is less likelihood of legal issues arising after closing.
 
With the loosening of Covid restrictions, the widespread adoption of vaccines, and the de-escalation of the real estate market (at least a bit), we can all breath a bit easier. And that is a very good thing.  
 
Take care and remember that I am here when you are ready to make a move.
 
Laura

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HELP FOR FIRST TIME BUYERS IN ONTARIO

This is a daunting time for anyone wanting to purchase a property but is especially so for First Time Buyers. The skyrocketing prices and low inventory have made this a very challenging market.  There is some assistance out there for you if you know where to look.  Here are a few options for your consideration.  
 

LAND TRANSFER TAX REBATE

Land Transfer Tax is a calculated percentage based on your purchase price. If you are 18 years of age, and you or your spouse have not owned a property at anytime, anywhere in the world (First Time Buyers) you may be eligible for a rebate of up to $4,000.00.  This does not include the LTT levied by the City of Toronto.  If your lawyer files the appropriate documents at closing, this rebate is applied immediately to your closing costs. There are other terms and conditions.

RRSP – PENALTY FREE WITHDRAWL

You may be eligible to withdraw up to $35,000 without penalty to apply to the purchase of your home. This will need to be repaid within 15 years.  To qualify, you must be a First Time Buyer (not owned interest in a home in the past 4 years), you must have a written agreement to buy or build a home, you must be a resident of Canada, and you must intend to reside in the home as your primary residence within one year of buying or building the home.  Again, there are other terms and condition.

ONE TIME INCOME TAX CREDIT

You can claim a tax credit of $5,000 in the first year of your purchase if you or your spouse or your common law partner acquired a qualifying house, and if you did not live in a house owned by you or your spouse or common law partner in the year of acquisition or any of the 4 preceding years (First Time Buyer).  And, again, there are terms and conditions.

I hope this information is useful to you.  Each of these options may have a different definition of what a First Time Buyer is so it's helpful to read the fine print.  Circumstances are different for every individual and purchase;  financial and legal matters should always be discussed with the appropriate expert to see how the options may work for you.

Helping first time buyers is one of my favourite things about my job!  Call me.  Let’s work together to make your dream come true in North Simcoe County, Georgian Bay and Muskoka.
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I am sure you are as tired of the endless news cycle as I am, but I wanted to reach out to you to let you know what is happening in my real estate world.

It is NOT business as usual. Social distancing makes conducting real estate transactions very challenging.  The paper processing part of it is easy - we are doing more and more on-line anyway with email, secure document signing apps, virtual tours and professional photography.  The actual meat and potatoes of the business requires (or should) meeting clients and visiting properties in person to determine proper fit and suitability.  This is the part that has become challenging.  

There is still lots work we CAN do together from the safety of our respective homes.  If you are considering buying or selling, PLEASE DO CONTACT ME.
 If you are going to list, we can do a video chat and you can show me through your house. I can provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis and give you ideas about how to stage it or do any fix-ups that need doing.  If you are going to buy, lets work through your wish list and budget. I have worksheets that can help.  


We will get through this.  When we do, I will do everything in my power to make up for lost time and get us all back on track.

Above all, please stay well.  Tell your friends and family you love them.  Be kind to one another.  And please feel free to contact me by phone, email or text to say hello!!!!
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REAL ESTATE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
Well, this sure has put a wrench in the works for us all, hasn’t it?  It is an extremely difficult time for everyone and there is so much uncertainty on almost every front.
 
As you may have heard, real estate was deemed an essential service and our businesses have stayed open to a certain extent.  It is NOT business as usual.  Most offices are closed to the public and most real estate agents are working from home.  Deals are still occurring to some degree and that’s why we got the essential service designation – to allow current deals in process to continue through to closing.  
 
You will still see new listings post, but we have been told by our various Boards, Associations and governing bodies to eliminate Open Houses and to reduce in-person showings unless they are absolutely critical; and, have the informed permission of all parties.  All protocols recommended by the Health Authorities are to be observed when an in-person showing is conducted including social distancing, disinfecting all surfaces possible (especially doorknobs, etc), hands-in-pockets only.
 
Instead, what you may see is increased virtual tours and virtual showings, with one person (probably your agent) doing a walk-through while on live feed such as Zoom or FaceTime.  While this may be a good way to introduce people to a property, I’m not sure that as a realtor I would recommend that my clients close on a property that they haven’t seen.  If you are going to put an offer in on a property without setting foot in or on it, you might want to include a condition that you view it at least once in person, prior to firming up your deal.  The home inspection condition is another one that may be challenging but should be included.
 
I don’t make the following statement lightly because if I don’t work I don’t get paid, but I personally believe that unless you have a pressing reason to move (and some people absolutely do!), we should all listen to the experts who are telling us to just stay home.  We all want for ourselves, our families and our communities to stay well. 
 
If you are one of those people who has a pressing reason to buy or sell in the Southern Georgian Bay area now, please don’t hesitate to call me.  We can figure out how to achieve your goals in the safest and most effective way, together.   If you are considering buying or selling in the future, let’s get started on making those plans happen.  If you can take me on your own virtual tour of your property, I can provide you with a Market Value Assessment and make suggestions about things to do to get ready to list.  If you are going to make a purchase, I have worksheets to help you with your budget and can start sending you whatever listings are available so that you can get a better idea of what is available in various price ranges.  There is still lots we can do during this quieter time.
 
Together we WILL get through this.
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GOING TO BUILD YOUR OWN HOME? THINK LONG-TERM.
I’ve recently had a wave of clients either listing or purchasing vacant lots.  It would be ideal if my listings and buyers matched up perfectly, but this is the real world!
 
In any case, in speaking to my purchasers and their intentions for future construction, it has been brought home to me, yet again, how short-term focused many of them are.  These aren’t foolish people – they just get carried away by the dream of building their own home or cottage and they only look to the time that is has been completed and they can finally enjoy themselves in it.  They dream of finally getting exactly what they want.  Don’t we all?  This is a lovely ideal to achieve, but there can be a downside, if you get too specific.
 
I have personal experience with this:  my Dad designed a retirement place to fit his very unique esthetic as a mature person without a large family. He could not envision the possibility that not everyone would share his taste or that his place might have to be sold at some point in the future. Because the design was so personal and specific, when he eventually needed to go into a senior’s facility, we had a big challenge getting it sold, despite having over an acre in a very desirable location. If, during design and construction, he had tweaked things a little bit, I know we would have sold it faster and for quite a bit more money.
 
Recently I spoke to a couple who are contemplating buying a lot. During a very preliminary discussion, they thought they would like to build a two-bedroom place on a slab foundation.  While there is nothing theoretically wrong with this, I suggested that putting a full basement in (even if they never finish it) would make the property more saleable in the future, should that ever be something they needed to do. It would be ideal to have a third bedroom on the main floor too.  During construction, ideally a basement bathroom whould be roughed-in.  This will open up the possibility of adding more living space on the lower level without as much work/expense in the future.  Not only does a basement give you a place to put your mechanical equipment for the house (furnace, etc) and store things like outdoor furniture, it can provide a possible secondary suite for in-laws or income (assuming your by-laws allow it – ALWAYS CHECK FIRST!)
 
At some point, most properties these days will have to be sold for one reason or another.  If you can think ahead, and be a little creative, you can still have your dream, while increasing its value and salability.
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IS IT TIME TO SELL YOUR HOME?

Are you considering selling your home to downsize or move into a retirement residence? Or perhaps you have the opportunity to home-share with an adult daughter or son, in a mutually beneficial arrangement?

You may be considering leaving the family home with all that it represents - the place where your children were raised; the location where your oldest and best memories reside.  For mature adults, the family home (or cottage) can represent and remind them of where the best years of their lives were lived and their favourite memories created.

Many seniors would prefer to keep living in their own home - this is also referred to as aging in place.  There are lots of agencies and supports available to help this happen, but sometimes they aren't enough or perhaps aren't available in that area.  Some of the situations that make a move the better option are:

  • Home maintenance becomes too difficult to manage
  • A major life event creates a need to consider moving
  • The desire to live closer to children and/or grandchildren
  • Financial considerations
  • Home care/support services are not enough or are not available
It is a huge undertaking and a very emotional process for everyone involved.  I have the experience to help you. I have taken specialized training to work with our senior population and I have helped move several of my own family members and a number of clients transition from their homes into a more suitable form of accommodation.

If your are considering such a lifestyle change for yourself or a family member, please don't hesitate to call me.  I'd love the opportunity to help.  It takes a village to do more than raise a child!
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WHY DO I REALLY LOVE LIVING HERE?
As a realtor, it's my job to say how much I love this area, but I'm not sure that I REALLY say what I love about it, so here goes.....
1.  The sparkle of the sunshine on the water.  When I was a little girl, I always waited breathlessly for that first glimpse of the bay when we came over the hill on the way to the cottage. It still gives me a thrill and makes me smile.  Fortunately, no matter where you are in this area, the bay is never too far away.
2.  The sound of the breeze blowing through the white pines.  I LOVE white pines.  The quiet whisper of the wind through their boughs is like a lullaby and soothes any of my rough edges.  I love the gold tint that the needles capture as the late afternoon sun hits them.
3.  The smell of sunbleached beach towels.  As soon as I smell that smell, I am instantly transported to the endless days spent in and out of the water.  A close second is the sweet scent of the beach poplars after the rain, and the spicy smell of the pines on a hot summer afternoon.

There is a lot of value to be had in this area, from a real estate perspective but for me, all the value lies in the things that money can't buy, replace or copy.
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THE BEST TIME TO BUY A COTTAGE...
I often get asked, "When is the best time to buy a cottage or sell at cottage?" and the answer really will vary depending on the needs of the asker.

Traditionally prices in the spring generally are a bit higher but that's also when you will see the greatest selection of properties.  You are also likely to face more competition from other buyers.  After a long, cold, snowy winter people naturally start dreaming of long, lazy summer afternoons at the beach or on the deck of their own private getaway, and so the shopping begins.  Depending on the winter and how long it lasts, the spring buying season generally starts in March and April.  It can be a bit of a free for all as the seller compete with all the other listings and the buyers compete with all the other people looking for their piece of paradise.  

Please note:  This is a generality.  The reality is very economy and market driven!  This year, our spring listings and buyers were in short supply.  Our recreational market didn't really start until July and it's still lagging quite a bit behind the previous two years.

But....there is a lot to be said for purchasing at the end of the summer too, especially if you don't mind putting a bit of work or money into your new cottage.  Sellers may be more willing to negotiate a bit, in order to not have to carry the property through the winter AND the bonus to the buyer is that if you DO choose to do some work to your new piece of paradise, you can do it when the balmy breezes aren't beaconing.  Additionally, you may find that tradespeople are easier to book as they look for jobs to carry them through the slow season.

While winter sales aren't common as sellers remove their properties from the market so as to not have to keep up with the snow, some wise ones keep their properties on and do sell when there is less competition.  If you are going to purchase in the winter, be aware that home inspectors will be limited in what they can discover as foundations and roofs may be covered in snow.  If you've been watching a property and are confident you know what you are buying, it can be a very good time to negotiate.

As you can see, there is no "best time".  Each season has it's risks and benefits - it all depends on your needs and wants.  
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SOMETHING STRANGE IS GOING ON.

The real estate market has becomes a rather mysterious thing.  Back in the olden days, there were foreseeable, predictable patterns, especially here in "cottage country".  Our winters are pretty intense so the year-round people often moved in spring/summer, coinciding with the end of the school year and before the begining of the next.  The cottage people wanted to buy in early spring so that they could spend the summer here. There was also a fall market as people decided to sell after one last summer at the cottage.  

As cottages have become winterized, and summer homes are replacing the older seasonal places, this patter has not been quite as strong.  Many people are cashing out on their city properties and buying or renovating what have typically been recreational properties and turning them into retirement properties.

Even with this, I personally expected to see a lot of recreational properties hit the market in the last couple of years, as prices have soared.  Last year and the end of the previous year, we saw bidding wars more often than not!  It was an unheard of boom.  Many people who bought properties in this area in the late 1950's and early 1960's are now in their lates 70's and 80's.  Their children are established in their own lives and often don't use the cottages.  I fully expected those people to start liquidating their recreational assets.  But that hasn't happen yet.  I can't say exactly why, but I think the advent of AirBnB might have something to do with it.  It will be interesting to see what happens over the next year or so, as various home owners associations deal with the influx of non-owners for weeks and weekends.  Many condo buildings are putting in restrictions to prevent short-term rentals.  I wonder if that will spill over into the cottage market?  Let me know your two cents in the comments below.

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