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Monthly Archives: September, 2012

Home Seller Tips – Fall 2012

September 26th, 2012 Posted by For Sellers, Toronto Real Estate No Comment yet

Last week I posted an updated set of recommendations for home buyers. Today, I’m doing the same for a “sellers’ tips” blog I posted a few years ago. Not a whole lot has changed, but enough to warrant an update. Here goes!

Homes sell in any market. Regardless of overall conditions, each home is judged on its own merits. If you want your home to sell promptly, for a good price and with good terms, you have to properly prepare it – and yourself – for sale. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1) Understand the market: As has been the case for quite some time, the Toronto real estate market is experiencing a low supply of houses (as opposed to condos; there are lots of those on the market). This has resulted in significant price increases since early 2009. For example, last week TREB reported that house sales for the first half of September (2012) were down in volume by 15%, but up in price by 9.5%. Condo sales dropped in volume by 28% – which seems like a lot to me – but prices in the 416 still managed to squeak up 5%. Condo prices in the 905 were actually down 2%, which limited the GTA average price increase to 3%. So, when you hear about ‘the housing market’, keep in mind that there are different segments of that market – not to mention different locations. If you intend to sell this fall, we’ll talk about local market conditions – there’s lots to consider.

2) Your expectations must reflect the market: The market has been going upwards for over three years (since the post-recession bounce began in early 2009). However, despite a steady (if somewhat sluggish) economy, decent employment levels and slightly rising incomes, there is still some negative pressure on the market: mortgage rules have been tightened again recently, the global economy is still wobbly, plus politicians and the media carp on incessantly about real estate. It’s perfectly rational that buyers would want to be cautious.

Plus, there has been some talk in the industry that buyers are less willing to get in to competition for a house. That’s not to say that we aren’t seeing competition this fall; we are. However, we are also seeing great houses sit on the market past ‘offer day’, with no obvious explanation – other than the possibility that some buyers are playing it a bit more safe these days. For sellers, that means being more realistic with pricing, and being prepared to negotiate. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, so we’ll put some time and effort into preparing our marketing strategy to reflect that current reality.

3) Get your home ready: Your listing is/will be in competition with similar listings in your neighbourhood. You need to stand out somehow. Home preparation and presentation (together with pricing) are key to a successful sale. By now, everybody knows about ‘de-cluttering’ and staging. The money you fork out (cleaning, patching, painting, putting extra stuff into storage, etc.) is money well spent. It will help capture the interest of potential buyers, and help overcome the objections that naturally arise in almost every case. In short, making a good first impression is just as important as ever!

4) Stay out of the way: Once your home is on the market, be sure to get out of the house/condo during showings. Viewers want to be able to comfortably wander around to get a feel for the place, and speak openly to each other or their Realtor. That’s hard to do when the owner is sitting right there – or worse, following them around. Tidy up before you leave for the day to make sure that your home shows its best, then make yourself scarce! 😉

5) Let your agent work for you: Like most Realtors, I’m a full time real estate professional. I know how to market your home; I have the knowledge and experience to determine who is a real buyer (as opposed to a tire kicker or low baller); and I know how to deal with other Realtors – which is extra important during difficult negotiations. Everybody has that friend or family member who wants to advise them. Take their advise for what it’s worth (your call), but choose for yourself a Realtor whom you trust, then let him/her (me!) do the job. After all, that’s what you pay us for.

As with the short list of buyer tips, there’s much more that you need to know about selling your home – this is just a primer. Follow me on Twitter for ongoing tips and commentary. As always, if you have any questions about market conditions or the home selling process, please feel free to get in touch with me. If you are ready to sell, call me today and I’ll put my continuous marketing strategy and commitment to success to work for you!

Home Buyer Tips – Fall 2012

September 18th, 2012 Posted by First-time buyers, Market Commentary, Mortgage pre-approval No Comment yet

I have written before about home buyer tips, but felt the need to update for the current market. Conditions in the Toronto real estate market change from month to month, season to season, and year to year. We are just getting started with the fall market for 2012, and it’s important to be tuned in!

There has been some debate here at RE/MAX Hallmark about whether conditions merit doing a ‘hold-back’ on our listings – i.e. setting an offer date that’s a week after hitting the MLS. With the usual negative commentary in the media and ever-tightening mortgage rules, the question is whether or not there is enough demand to justify that approach. Based on what we have seen this week (numerous multiple offer sales), I think there is. Supply is still tight and there are plenty of buyers out there (many looking to re-locate within the city). Prices are up over last year, so there’s no reason for sellers to worry; with some luck, we’ll get the supply we need to bring some liquidity back to the market.

This early in the season I won’t say that it’s a seller’s market, per se, but it does appear to be a stable-to-strong market. Buyers have to be prepared to take action when they find a house they want. For you first-time buyers (and those of you who haven’t done this in a while), there’s lots that you need to know – not just about the market, but about the process. We’re not talking rocket science here, but almost every purchase or sale has something unique about it. Knowing the basics will help you to prepare yourself for your experience.

The following is by no means a comprehensive list; rather, it’s sort of a “Top 5” – or better yet, a “First 5” things you should know:

1) Be an educated Buyer. Learn as much as you can about the market before you buy. (I help all of my clients with this stage – and by reading this you are off to a great start!)

2) Be honest and open with your Realtor®. I work for you and can best help you if I have a good understanding of your needs. Once I know your needs, my job is to be your objective guide in the process, and to ensure your needs and interests are met and protected.

3) Get pre-approved for your mortgage as soon as possible. This helps you to determine your budget, and locks in today’s best rate for you. I’ll refer you to a few mortgage professionals, if you want. You speak to them all and pick the one you think is the best fit for you.

4) Buy the best home you can afford in the best neighborhood you can afford. You are almost always better off with the least expensive home in the area rather than the most expensive. That said, I strongly recommend that you be conservative with your budget.

5) There are no perfect homes. Be ready to make compromises and concessions. Know what’s most important to you and ‘give’ on those things that aren’t.

There you have it: five basic principles to get you started on your new home search. Be sure to visit my blog again for more tips, check out my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter – and please do call me if you want more help!

Summer 2012 Market Review

September 13th, 2012 Posted by Interest Rates, Market Commentary No Comment yet

A basic fact of life in the Toronto real estate market is that summer is a much slower time of year than spring or fall.  The weather warms up, and after a hectic ‘spring market’ folks – including Realtors – naturally turn their attention to summer activities. For parents, the kids are home/off to camp, etc., which is a huge change. The bottom line is that fewer people think real estate in the summer. (Winter is also slow – no surprise there!)

Nonetheless, we still see thousands of transactions every summer. This past July there were 7,570 sales, a slight drop of 1.5% from July 2011. However, fewer sales did not indicate a declining market: prices were actually up 4%. Interestingly, the decline in volume seems to have been most influenced by downtown condo sales; the rest of the GTA saw an increase in volume. It’s possible that slightly tighter mortgage rules introduced earlier this year had a bit of an effect – not to mentioned the incessant doom and gloom in the media about the Toronto condo market. Either way, I don’t really see a long-term downside to either effect: moderation in the market may enhance sustainability, which is a good thing.

In August TREB posted 6,418 sales, a volume decline of 12.5% from  7,330 in August 2011. However, with new listings dropping by 5.5%  (also typical of the summer months) the supply of available houses remained tight; the average sale price was up to $479,095, an increase of 6.5% over August 2011. Last month the GTA-wide increase in prices was driven mostly by a 15% rise in the average price of a detached house in Toronto. Tight supply does that!

The ‘fall market’ typically opens up after Labour Day, and this year is no exception. We have already seen a rapid increase in the number of available listings, and as the weeks roll on we’ll see the sales start to increase – both in volume and, I believe, in price. I’ll keep you posted. 😉 In the meantime, if you want to buy or sell this fall you should get started soon and take advantage of current conditions. Call me today and let’s get to work!