What Happens at a House Showing?

What happens at a house showing? This important question has historically been eclipsed by others like, “How much should we list for?” and “How long will it take to sell?” However, COVID-19 has many home sellers considering showings from a different perspective, with extra attention paid to safety, convenience, and current best practices (think technology). Here’s what home sellers can expect when they’re showing their home, and how they can maximize this opportunity to yield higher offers and a quicker sale.

Showings versus Open Houses

Showings and open houses are different. As the name suggests, an “open house” is when the seller opens their door to anyone who wants to pop in for a closer look. This method of showing a listing was extremely popular until the pandemic hit in early 2020. Homebuyers would scour property listings all week, map out the open-houses online, and plan their weekend route. And before technology and the Internet changed literally everything, families would pile into their cars on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, driving around their preferred neighbourhoods in search of the “sandwich” signs lining sidewalks, touting this typically two-hour event: Open House: 2-4 PM. Come on in!

Times may have changed, but the process behind appealing to homebuyers hasn’t changed a ton from what it looked like 30 years ago. However, if you have never sold a home, you’re likely wondering what happens at a house showing.

More recently, COVID-19 prompted a mandatory shift in how homes are shown – and seen. Government-mandated health and safety measures put a pause to the “open-door” policy, for obvious reasons, in favour of virtual home tours as a no-contact way of showing listings. Once buyers found a listing that met their criteria for a new home, they would venture out, masked and in minimal numbers, to view the home in person. Some homebuyers even took the transaction completely virtual, with the showing, offer, negotiations, and final paperwork all done remotely.

Today, the convenience of the virtual sale continues to be a trend that’s unlikely to wane, thanks to technology and sheer convenience. However, with widespread vaccination efforts in place and infection numbers trend downward, many Canadians are eagerly awaiting a return to a post-pandemic life. For many homebuyers and sellers, this includes in-person showings.

What happens at a house showing?

After everything we’ve lived and learned over the last year and half, some things have changed in the show-showing process. Here’s a quick refresher of what home sellers can expect when showing their home.

Schedule the showing.

When homebuyers find a listing they might like to purchase, most will want to view it in person before making an offer. They’ll be eager to see it as soon as possible, which is particularly true in a hot seller’s market when timing is everything, and even a seemingly short delay can cost them their opportunity to buy.

During the selling period, be available to communicate with your real estate agent at a moment’s notice to ensure the timely scheduling of showings. Ask your agent to give you a couple of hours’ notice, but it’s in your best interest to be as flexible as possible. It’s always a good idea to ensure your agent is aware of any factors that could impact the timing of showings, such as the need for a quick clean-up if you’re still living in the home, or time required to vacate the home of pets and people (more on that, below!).

How will you know when there’s a showing?

Discuss the best form of communication with your real estate agent ahead of time. How would you like to be contacted? Choose a mode of communication that you’ll have easy access to and will check often. This can include, but is not limited to, email, a phone call, text message, calendar invite or a scheduling app, if your agent uses one. As mentioned, your agent can give you some advance notice, if you need it.

Who shows the home?

Prospective buyers will be accompanied by their real estate agent for the duration of the showing. If a buyer isn’t represented by an agent, they’d typically contact the listing agent directly, who would walk them through the property.

While it’s entirely at the seller’s discretion, most homeowners will vacate the property during showings. The showing is usually booked for one hour. Go for a walk, go for a drive, or go run some errands. Just go! Having homeowners present during showings can turn some homebuyers off, making it difficult for them to picture themselves living in the home, or creating an awkward situation when discussing their honest feelings about the place.

If you’re expecting many showings in a hot market or a popular area, it might be a good time to book a holiday away from home. This reduces the inconvenience to you, while ensuring the home stays in “showing condition” without constant clean-up on your part.

What happens during the showing?

The homebuyers will have access to your property during their pre-determined time – typically one hour. They are expected to arrive, view and leave within that time. Their agent will walk them through the home, ensuring they remove their shoes and follow protocols, and answering their questions. If the agent isn’t sure of the answer, they will find out by way of the listing agent.

During the showing, you can expect the buyers to look in cabinets, cupboards and closets, from top to bottom. Furniture drawers and the like are off limits, since you’ll be taking those with you when you move, but anything that is built-in will be assessed for storage capacity, quality and condition. Don’t forget about the basement, attic, garage, shed and utility areas!

Speaking of which, buyers may also test the utilities by running the water taps, flushing toilets, checking light switches and testing electrical outlets. Some buyers may even use this opportunity to do a home inspection (this should be communicated to the listing agent and seller beforehand), so if they choose to make an offer, they can do so without having this condition in place.

During the pandemic, some sellers are choosing to leave closet doors open and lights on, to help minimize physical contact.

After the showing

Now that you know exactly what happens at a house showing, what next? When the showing is complete, the buyers’ agent is responsible for ensuring the property is left in the same condition in which it was found, and that the door is locked.

Then, depending on market conditions, it can be a waiting game. If the buyer has any follow-up questions or would like to make an offer, communication generally happens between the buying and listing agents. If the buyers are choosing to pass on the property, some listing agents may even reach out to the buying agent, to get feedback on the listing – price, the condition or features of the home, the neighbourhood, or anything else that has swayed the buyers away. If the home isn’t selling, this feedback can prove valuable when revisiting the listing strategy. Of course, there are clear signs a house showing went well, generally coming in the form of speedy offer at or over asking price!

If you want more details about what happens at a house showing, or if you have specific questions, we will be happy to answer them!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Condos Spring Back to Life in Toronto Real Estate Market

For years, one of the hottest segments of the Toronto real estate market was condominiums. The skyline of the Big Smoke had been lined with construction cranes and glass towers rising on nearly every corner of the downtown core. Indeed, views of the city from Centre Island have vastly changed over the last decade. The upward trajectory suggested that there was no slowing down for red-hot condos.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic struck and everything was turned upside down, including the Canadian real estate market. Suffice it to say, Toronto’s condominiums took a downturn in 2020. While sales activity was moderate, prices had notably slumped. The reason? Supply had outpaced demand amid families leaving the city, up-sizing their living situation by moving into a detached or semi-detached home, not to mention the temporary ban on Airbnb units. But all this may soon be ancient history.

Could it be morning again in the Toronto condo market?

Now that the COVID-19 public health crisis is subsiding, the Toronto condo market is returning to life, rebounding to its best level in about three years. With renewed demand and historically low interest rates, residents will likely witness even more construction cranes dotting the skyline of North America’s fourth-largest city.

The Toronto Condo Market Springs Back to Life

According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), residential sales for Toronto condominiums soared 159.1 per cent year-over-year to 1,881 units in May.

The average price of a condo unit in the 416 area rose at an annualized rate of 0.1 per cent to $694,152. However, TD Bank believes that benchmark prices are doing even better than industry data, pegging the number at 10.6 per cent from the same time a year ago. This would be the strongest gain since 2018.

“Though overshadowed by the superheated detached market, condos are quietly making a comeback,” said TD economist Rishi Sondhi, in an interview with the Financial Post. “Should condo sales consume a rising share of the market moving forward (as we expect), downward pressure on average home prices from these lower-priced units would be applied.”

Overall, it has been a great start to the year for the city’s condo industry. In the first quarter, sales advanced at an annualized rate of 79.7 per cent to 9,398 units. During the January-to-March period, the median sale price for condominium apartment units climbed 1.4 per to $592,000 compared to the same time last year.

So, what could be driving these positive trends?

The Ins and Outs of the Toronto Condo Market

Across all property segments, demand has been strong in 2021. While this was business as usual for detached and semi-detached homes throughout the pandemic, demand has dwindled within the condo market over the course of this year.

TRREB President Lisa Patel explained in a news release that confidence in the post-pandemic economic recovery is creating a splash in the Toronto real estate market and the broader Canadian housing sector. The other crucial aspect has been historically low borrowing rates, with the Bank of Canada (BoC) signalling that it is unlikely to raise interest rates until the second half of 2022.

Although Patel believes that “the absence of a normal pace in population growth” has been a factor in these demand slumps, the federal government will soon relax tough border restrictions, reigniting immigration levels. For the last decade or so, the population boom in the city centre and Greater Toronto Area (GTA) was one of the biggest drivers of the Toronto condo market.

As the public health crisis wanes, one of the top questions is: What about the short-term rental market? The province of Ontario banned Airbnb units in the early days of the pandemic in response to the surge in infections. This led to a substantial drop in rental prices of as much as 20 per cent since owners had to list their suites as long-term rentals. It might seem like conditions will return to normal in the coming months, but city hall adopted new rules.

This past spring, the municipal government approved three new rules that experts suggest could hurt the short-term rental industry in one of the world’s hottest real estate markets. The measures?

  • Registration of Airbnb units and a $50 annual renewal fee.
  • A four per cent municipal quarterly tax.
  • Airbnb must be your primary residence.

Ultimately, moving forward, it will be a different type of new normal for the condo market.

Is Toronto on Fire Again?

The Globe and Mail ran a piece at the end of May showcasing the selling traits of several condominiums. For example, a 754-sq.-ft. one-bedroom-plus-den-unit sold for $669,908 after just one day on the market, a little more than $10,000 above the asking price.

Put simply, the Toronto condo market is now experiencing the same characteristics as the broader real estate market: bidding wars, above-asking price transactions, and sky-high prices. Hopeful urban homebuyers anticipating a COVID-discount on a 2 bedroom condo in the heart of the city, may be sorely disappointed!

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Canadian Housing Market Sees Sales Volumes Finally Cooling

Has the Canadian housing market reached its zenith? Will the red-hot housing market begin to cool down? Will new homebuyers get a chance to achieve the Canadian dream of owning property? As Canadian real estate skyrockets, reporting record-breaking figures month after month, the list of questions just keeps on growing!

It has been a raucous 16 months in Canada’s housing industry. From major urban centres to rural communities, sales activity and home prices have been soaring to unprecedented heights. Historically low interest rates, strengthening demand, and lacklustre inventory levels – there have been many factors accelerating the housing affordability crisis. This had defied conventional thinking in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, with some anticipating a collapse of the Canadian real estate market. Instead, the housing sector has become so intense that bidding wars, bully offers, and blind bidding have infected small towns, suburbs, and cottage country.

The latest data suggest that the Canadian housing market may have finally peaked. Across the country, price growth has slowed down, residential sales have declined, and more supply is coming to market. Moreover, expectations of higher interest rates and stress tests could be additional factors that could spawn a noteworthy slowdown.

This could be the lifeline that many young families had been hoping for in the post-pandemic recovery.

Sales Volumes Finally Start to Cool in Canadian Housing Market

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national residential sales tumbled 12.5 per cent month-over-month in April. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), which is considered a more accurate representation of average and median prices, rose 2.4 per cent in April.

Indeed, on an annualised basis, home sales and prices have soared 256 per cent and 41.9 per cent, respectively. But these figures are skewed since the nationwide real estate market was at a standstill at this time a year ago. This is why, when examining small communities in the Ontario real estate market or Atlantic Canada, that sales and prices are up as much as 600 per cent.

Industry experts are now concentrating on month-over-month data to garner some insight into what could be happening as the summer progresses. But, for now, the consensus is that the significant gains of the last year are unlikely to be replicated moving forward.

“While housing markets across Canada remain very active, there is growing evidence that some of the extreme imbalances of the last year are beginning to unwind, which is what everyone wants to see happen,” said Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA, in a news release.

That said, Stevenson made a good point that the fresh lockdowns and restrictions imposed in the last few months might force the spring market into the summer, igniting another round of pent-up demand.

“The result is that a relatively more ‘reasonable’ set of numbers in April 2021 looks both way up or way down depending on what crazy part of the last year you compare them to, but the correct interpretation of those big numbers is that the April housing numbers came in somewhere in between those extremes, which is a good thing,” he stated. “While we still have a ways to go, measures of market balance have finally turned a corner and monthly price growth has decelerated. I believe we’ve all wanted to see the temperature turned down on this market after the last year and it looks as though that is finally happening.”

Moreover, fresh housing stocks keep getting injected into the market. New numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) show that housing starts advanced 2.53 per cent to 279,055 units. The six-month moving average is heading in the right direction, possibly alleviating tight conditions and setting the tone for the remainder of the year.

Inside the Canadian Housing Market

Let’s take a look inside the Canadian real estate market and see how individual markets are performing:

Vancouver (April | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -14 per cent
  • Benchmark Price: +2.6 per cent to $1,152,600

Edmonton (April | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: +17.6 per cent
  • Residential Average Prices: -0.4 per cent to $389,773

Toronto (April | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -12.7 per cent
  • Average Price: 0% at $1,090,992

Montreal (May | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -14 per cent
  • Median Prices for Single-Family Homes: +3.11 per cent to $496,000

Halifax (May | MoM)

  • Residential Sales: -12.5 per cent
  • Average Price: +2.57 per cent to $363,300

Will New Developments Douse the Fire? 

At the end of its June policy meeting, the Bank of Canada (BoC) decided to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.25 per cent. According to the central bank’s guidance, rates are expected to remain unchanged until the second half of next year. The institution is forecasting a robust economic rebound this summer, alluding to reopening, greater vaccination rates, and higher consumer spending.

Does this mean it is all quiet on the western front? Not exactly.

The new stress test level went into effect on June 1, which will make it harder to qualify for a mortgage. The federal government increased the minimum financial threshold that anyone applying for a mortgage must meet to 5.25 per cent, which is two per cent above borrower’s mortgage rate.

This move will reduce the number of qualified borrowers and is projected to cool down the Canadian real estate market. With signs that the housing sector is on the road to cooling down, this could further douse the flames. But will this prevent another barrier to entry for new homebuyers? While price growth will not accelerate as it did a year ago, home valuations across the country are at record highs, making it harder for many households to purchase a property.

Meanwhile, Ottawa is expected to relax border restrictions soon, facilitating immigration and the movement of people. Since immigration levels were projected to top 400,000 this year, an influx of even half that figure would add pressure to a market with limited supplies.

What’s Next for Canadian Real Estate?

The Royal Bank of Canada’s senior economist Robert Hogue did an excellent job of succinctly summarizing the state of the Canadian real estate market recently: the mania has toned down, fewer homeowners are listing homes for sales, homebuyers are declining faster than sellers, and a reversal of the “unsustainable spike” is unfolding.

Real estate agents and market analysts alike will undoubtedly hone in on the summer months like a guided missile!

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Home Renovations That Buyers Want, According to RE/MAX Brokers

What are the home renovations that buyers want to see on the market? It’s a great question, and one you’ve likely pored over if you’re preparing to list your home for sale in the near future, or you’re embarking on a renovation with a thought to long-term resale value. According to the 2021 RE/MAX Renovation Investment Report, more than half of Canadians underwent a home renovation for personal/non-ROI purposes, with 29% choosing to renovate for non-essential “lifestyle” reasons, such as recreation-inspired projects. Despite the trend of renovating for personal use and enjoyment, 59% of Canadians said they always consider the return on investment that a renovation will have on their home’s overall market value, so while there is a current renovation trend based on lifestyle aspirations, practicality is never far from the surface. From the homebuyer’s perspective, certain renovations are more in-demand than others.

So, what are the best home improvements to sell your home quicker and for top dollar? According to a survey of RE/MAX brokers across Canada, below is a list of what homebuyers want most. We’ve also sourced the ballpark costs for each, via Pillar To Post’s Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates Cost Guide, to give you a rough idea of the level of investment required for each.

6 HOME RENOVATIONS THAT BUYERS WANT

Home Renovations That Buyers Want kitchen

#1 Kitchen

93.5% of RE/MAX brokers surveyed said kitchen renovations are most sought-after by homebuyers. The kitchen is typically the most complicated room in the home to renovate, and the most expensive. Many homebuyers who aren’t interested in taking on a big project will pay a premium to have this big project done for them. Depending on the age and condition of the home, kitchen updates can range from a complete gut job, to updates such as refacing or repainting cabinets, new hardware and appliances, countertop, backsplash and flooring.

  • kitchen cabinets: $50 to $125 per linear ft.
  • kitchen counter, laminate: $45 per linear ft.
  • kitchen counter, marble: $80 per linear ft.
  • dishwasher: $675 to $950
  • garbage disposal: $200 to $425
  • range hood: $350 to $525
  • porcelain sink: $750 to $900
  • stainless steel sink: $650 to $800
  • total cost: $7,500+
Home Renovations That Buyers Want bathroom

#2 Bathroom

64.5% of RE/MAX brokers said new or updated bathrooms are in high demand by homebuyers. This trend echoes the above-mentioned kitchen reno rationale, whereby homebuyers who are unwilling to undergo the effort and inconvenience of a bathroom renovation willing to pay a premium to have this project already completed.

  • cabinets $50 to $125 per linear ft.
  • countertop, laminate: $45 per linear ft.
  • countertop, marble: $80 per linear ft.
  • pedestal basin: $375
  • vanity basin: $250
  • bathtub – replace / retile: $2,500+
  • shower connection: $250
  • shower stall, plastic: $900 to $2,000
  • shower stall, ceramic tile: $2,500 to $3,300
  • new toilet: $425
  • tub enclosure, ceramic tile: $2,500 to $3,300
  • tub enclosure, plastic: $600 to $1,275
  • whirlpool bath: $4,250
  • total cost: $5,250+
Home Renovations That Buyers Want flooring

#3 Flooring

48.4% of RE/MAX brokers identified new flooring as a hot selling feature on the resale market. Depending on the size of the home and the scope of work being done, flooring would typically cost less than a kitchen and bathroom reno, but this is a great way to refresh the home, especially when paired with a fresh coat of paint. Carpet is actually considered to be a drawback by some homebuyers, so this is an update that’s worth completing prior to listing a home for sale.

  • carpet cleaning: $125 per room
  • carpet and underpad: $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
  • ceramic tile: $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
  • hardwood $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
  • prefinished hardwood: $11 to $16 per sq. ft.
  • refinishing hardwood: $3 to $6 per sq. ft.
  • vinyl sheets: $4 to $9 per sq. ft.
  • vinyl tile: $4 to $9 per sq. ft.
Home Renovations That Buyers Want paint

#4 Paint

35.5% of RE/MAX brokers said buyers want a fresh coat of paint. This is a relatively simple and low-budget upgrade that makes a big impact on the look and feel (and sometimes, smell) of a property. Given the current seller’s market conditions in many regions across Canada, homes are selling like hotcakes, regardless of renovations. With this in mind, home sellers in particularly hot markets, like Toronto and Vancouver, are keeping their reno efforts (and budgets) to a minimum. Paint is the simplest and cheapest way to freshen up the place.

  • Painting walls (3 coats): $2 per sq. ft.
Home Renovations That Buyers Want basement

#5 Finished basement

22.6% of brokers identified basement renovations as a huge selling feature on the resale market. Quite simply, if it increases the usable square footage of the home, that’s a good thing in homebuyers’ books.

  • adding basement entrance: $5,250 to $10,500
  • basement main beam: $2,100
    basement support post / foundation: $500 to $1,000
  • excavation / waterproofing: $125 to $175 per sq. ft.
  • foundation crack repair (excavation method): $525 to $1,100
  • foundation crack repair (injection method, cost per crack): $500
  • acoustic ceiling (suspended): $6 per sq. ft.
  • baseboard / door / window casing: $4 per linear ft.
  • drywall over plaster: $3 to $4 per sq. ft.
  • plaster (over existing plaster): $3 to $4 per sq. ft.
  • stucco / stipple: $3 per sq. ft.
  • walls (insulations / drywall): $4 per sq. ft.
  • painting walls (3 coats): $2 per sq. ft.
  • wallpaper: $6 to $11 per sq. ft.
Home Renovations That Buyers Want landscaping

#6 Outdoors & landscaping

19.4% of RE/MAX brokers said homebuyers are setting their sights on the great outdoors with landscaping and outdoor features becoming a popular “must-have” item. This trend became amplified during the course of the pandemic, which saw people spending more time in and around their homes, and buyers looking for bigger yards and features such as swimming pools/hot tubs, patios and decks to act as “outdoor living rooms.”

  • lay soil & sod: $3 to $6 per sq. ft.
  • sprinkler system: $1,200
  • concrete retaining wall: $55 per sq. ft.
  • wood retaining wall: $45 per sq. ft.
  • deck, pressure treated / cedar: $15 to $30 per sq. ft.
  • deck, custom designed & built: $55 to $80 per sq. ft.
  • patio, concrete: $16 to $25 per sq. ft.
  • patio, flagstone / fieldstone: $21 per sq. ft.
  • patio, interlock brick / stone: $11 to $16 per sq. ft.
  • patio stones: $6 per sq. ft.
  • porch flooring: $8 per sq. ft.
  • porch railing: $225
  • porch skirting: $21 per linear ft.
  • porch steps, concrete: $525
  • porch steps, wood: $325
  • chain-link fence (4-ft. high): $10 to $20 per linear ft.
  • cedar fence (5-ft. high): $15 to $30 per linear ft.
  • pressure treated wood fence (5-ft. high): $10 to $20 per linear ft.
  • reset post in concrete: $80
  • vinyl-lined pool (16ft. x 40ft.): $15,000 to $20,000
  • concrete-lined pool (16ft. x 40ft.): $30,000+
  • pool heater: $2,100
  • pump / filter: $1,600
  • fiberglass hot tub: $5,250+

* Cost estimates reflect the average basic costs for supplies and installation of building materials in Canada and the U.S., as anticipated for 2019-2020. Costs may vary depending on regions, upgrades, complexity and disposal fees.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

The Art of Compromise: Home Decor Edition

Home Sweet Home…or is it? You’ve just moved in with your significant other and couldn’t be more excited; however your new home isn’t exactly boasting the ideal look and feel you were hoping for. You’ve been inspired by sites like Pinterest, and you have an idea of the overall theme/look you’re going for, what pictures to hang and where, and which accent pillows you want to use. The problem is you’ve now got to include your partner in these plans.

So, now what? You could try the ol’ “Well… you can decorate this room yourself (the one that is hidden in the back corner of the basement – which nobody ever sees) if I can decorate the rest of the house”, but that isn’t always going to cut it. Some partners want to share their opinion and incorporate their own interests in the decor. For example they may want to put up a poster of their favorite sports team or movie, a quote or even a piece of art that has nostalgic value. So let us tell you this, in the interest of a healthy and successful relationship, get to know what the word compromise really means.

Here are 5 tips on how best to compromise when it comes to decorating your home:

1) Make your partner feel included by getting them involved in the process early on.

2) Share your inspiration and ideas BEFORE buying new items.

3) Engage in open and honest communication about things you both like and dislike – make a list of all shared likes so you can refer to it when finalizing decisions.

4) Be open to new ideas. Explore new styles together. After all, you may find one that you both like.

5) Make an effort to display both personalities throughout the home in different rooms.

Again, we can’t promise you anything, but by working together and following these tips, the two of you should end up with a beautiful looking home that you’re both happy with and a space to call your very own.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

5 Landscaping Trends That Are on the Rise

Our gaze naturally turns toward the outdoors and our yards as the weather begins to warm and buds burst open. Design ideas sprout up on all the great ways we can enhance our fresh-air experiences during this upcoming patio season. These five landscaping trends push the boundaries on how we see our outdoor living spaces, so prepare to be inspired.

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Think Smart, Think Small

Having limited outdoor space is nothing new; especially for city dwellers. How that space is used is pushing the envelope. Multitasking is king when it comes to planning which features to add and where to plant what within limited square footage. For example, a water feature can be integrated into the irrigation system, doubling the function of a single feature.

Analyze the systems and features you can work with in your garden. It will take some consideration and planning to get the most out of your limited space, but it will pay off immensely in the end.

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Every Season Turns

Think “four seasons” when planning your garden. Differentiating textures and bright conifer foliage will look lovely in the springtime, but also brightens up the garden during the winter months. Deciduous shrubs, trees with peeling bark, and evergreens that change colour can help you maximize your garden all year-round.

Choosing the right plants that can withstand Canada’s shifting seasons will be a challenge, so consult a garden expert before investing.

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Feeling Fenced In

Fencing is the most common method of enclosing a yard, however creative alternatives to posts and planks are popping up. Consider planting a screening foliage, such as bamboo, between the sidewalk curb and your lawn to offer some privacy. Also, look at incorporating lacy-leaved trees such as dogwoods or Japanese maple — they’re big enough to create a border but won’t overwhelm.

Thinking outside the box to create the feeling of a protected area is what this landscaping trend is about. The drawback to these pretty, yet permeable, barriers is they do little to secure a pet or protect against trespassers.

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Get Crafty

Part of the “maker movement,” this landscaping trend moves away from mass-produced products, and returns to roots of authentic craftsmanship. Whether it’s a stone bench or a pergola, finding a professional artisan to handcraft your next garden element is definitely a trend. This trend is about quality craftsmanship that stands the test of time. This quality craftsmanship does come at a premium, but hiring local artisans is a wonderful way to support the local economy.

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Go Forth

Imagine being able to eat dinner in your own backyard and under the stars. Alfresco dining is so popular these days that having a designated dining area, complete with an outdoor cooking area, has become a top landscaping trend. Different this year is the location of this open-air eating area — it’s no longer close to the kitchen but further afield. Creating a unique space at the back of the yard, far from the lights and bustle of the house is on-trend.

From backyard dining to living walls, each one of these landscaping trends can add value to your home and boost curb appeal. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of what’s trending in the landscaping world, which one will you dig into this spring?

 

 

Courtesy of HGTV.ca

Toronto and GTA Rental Real Estate Market in 2021

For years, it’s been a tough battle for renters living in Toronto and the surrounding municipalities. Rents have only been on an upward trajectory as supply was limited and demand was through the roof. But after a year of the COVID-19 public health crisis, Toronto and GTA rental real estate is now a renter’s market.

The turning point was last spring, when the coronavirus pandemic crippled the nation and forced governments to institute a plethora of new rules and regulations. One of the first items on the chopping block? The short-term rental market, affecting condo investors who relied on Airbnb and other short-term rental arrangements. The other factor was immigration restrictions, which have led to seismic drops in the rental market.

After a year of the COVID-19 public health crisis, Toronto and GTA rental real estate looks very different. Tenants have negotiating power and more options, which was unheard of before the housing boom in North America’s fourth-largest city. At the same time, condo owners are either selling their units or renting their apartments below the cost of their mortgage, resulting in both “seller’s fatigue” and “handcuffed sellers.”

A wide range of reports estimate that the monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto has fallen as much as 23 per cent year-over-year, with prices coming down as low as $1,500 in some of the most appealing locations in the city. Although this is still relatively high compared to the rest of the Canadian real estate market, it is a welcomed relief for renters who have been paying sky-high prices for the privilege of residing in a red-hot urban centre.

Right now, is it even worth it to buy a property when rent is at a multi-year low?

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), households are paying large premiums to own instead of rent. The crown corporation suggested that condo owners are paying 86 per cent more to own than rent in a purpose-built building. This is the highest premium paid in any housing market of the country, including Vancouver (56 per cent) and Victoria (13 per cent).

This begs the question: will the Toronto and GTA rental market return to pre-pandemic conditions in 2021?

Toronto and GTA Rental Real Estate Market in 2021

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel in Ontario. New cases seem to be declining, more people are getting vaccinated, and the economy is starting to reopen. Even if a third wave strikes amid South African and British variants, the province and many of its sectors have shown their resilience to adapt, survive, and thrive.

Once the Greater Toronto Area returns to some semblance of pre-pandemic life, which officials are optimistic could happen in the third quarter of 2021, the rental real estate market could be one of the first beneficiaries. From restrictions being lifted at the Canadian border and students returning to the classroom, to the short-term rental market being given the green light again, the Toronto and GTA rental real estate industry could rebound.

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently released a report on the outlook for Canada’s housing sector. The multinational professional services network of firms predicts that the rental market will see benefits from a slowdown in home ownership and a backlog of immigrants. At the same time, it warned about the end of government income support and wage subsidy programs that could hurt tenants’ ability to pay their rent. The organization also said that more university students are likely to enrol in virtual classes instead of in-person learning, which would impact short-term rental activity.

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) also anticipates a surging GTA real estate market, amid a strengthening economy and widespread vaccinations.

“The pandemic certainly resulted in an unprecedented year for real estate in 2020, but it hasn’t put a damper on the overall demand,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst, in a statement. “Looking ahead, a strengthening economy and renewed GTA population growth following widespread vaccinations will support the continued demand for both ownership and rental housing. But over the long run, the supply of listings will remain an issue, particularly in low-rise segments.”

Put simply, the future largely depends on the vaccine rollout, the coronavirus variants, and the economic rebound.

Transformation of Toronto Rental Spaces?

Perhaps this is an opportunity to reimagine the rental market in Toronto and the rest of Canada’s housing market. With more people working and studying remotely, our homes have become multifunctional spaces to accommodate learning, exercising, entertainment and more. And as a result of this, our need for space has been redefined. PwC called this the “amenitization of communities,” whereby multi-purpose buildings allow new features to accommodate the new normal, such as videoconferencing rooms, dedicated areas for grocery delivery, and perhaps even additional green space.

Once the rental market returns to growth, developers might need to think about how to redesign apartment living for future generations, perhaps inspiring a new wave of rental demand.

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

3 Home Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your House

home maintenance mistakes

With all of the houses for sale in the Greater Toronto Area, making your home stand out from the rest of the competition can be tricky. It can be even harder to sell your house if you’re not keeping up with the maintenance necessary to make your home look appealing.

Are you interested in learning about the common home maintenance mistakes that most sellers are making? We’ve created this quick guide to help you better understand what mistakes you may need to correct. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Not Changing The HVAC Filter

You may not be aware that you need to change your HVAC filter on a regular schedule. More often than not, most of us end up forgetting to change our filter. This simple oversight can end up costing you when it comes time for you to sell your home. The longer you go in between changing your filter, the more stress it puts on your HVAC system. As an end result, it means that there’s going to be more dust and debris collecting in your ducts, vents, and even your home.

It’s even more important to change your HVAC filter consistently if you have pets. You can easily avoid this problem by setting a reminder on a calendar or electronic device to change your filter.

2. Trying to Make Cosmetic Changes to Water Damage

Have you tried to cover up water damage with paint or another type of cosmetic upgrade? While it’s often suggested that you paint your interior to keep it updated and fresh, as well as to make it more appealing to new buyers, this isn’t an effective or recommended way to care for water damage.

Ensuring that you have your water damage properly remediated is essential for when it comes time to list your property for sale and when having the home looked at by a professional inspector. Sometimes, masking the appearance of water damage can end up accelerating the damage. For example, if you’re painting over water damaged wood that’s rotting, the extra layer of paint can cause the wood to rot faster.

3. Not Cleaning Your Gutters

Just as you should consistently change all your HVAC filters, you should also be consistently cleaning out your gutters. Your gutters are there to prevent your roof from leaking, which can be easily overlooked every season.

You can clean out your gutters without having to hire a professional’s help by safely using a ladder to access your gutters. Clean out any debris that’s clogging them to make the exterior of your home better maintained.

Professionals recommend that you clean your gutters at least twice a year. However, if you live in an area that has a lot of trees, you should consider cleaning out your gutters once a season to remove the leaves and debris that can build up.

Avoid These Home Maintenance Mistakes

Before you put your home on the market, you should pay attention to your house and give it a little TLC. By avoiding these common home maintenance mistakes, you’ll ensure your home is more appealing to potential buyers.

Are you interested in hiring the help of a professional real estate agent to sell your home? Click here to contact us today to learn how we can help you.

Buying and Selling: Can I Close a Home Remotely?

The past few months have been a whirlwind of emotions for many people. As we all wrap our minds around the current situation, there’s no doubt that coronavirus has dramatically affected the way we live and how our society operates. There is no clear answer on when things will be back to normal, but the real estate market persists.

While real estate continues to be an essential service, homebuyers and sellers will be required to evolve the standard process to protect against spread of the virus. The short answer is, yes, you can use remote closing to complete your home sale. In fact, over the last decade digital home closing has been a trend, but in this environment more people will be leaning on it than ever before.

Typical process to close a home

Home closing consists of a lot of moving parts that will require a little bit of creativity to adjust to the current social distancing measures. The good news is that the government supports real estate activity and the sector boosts the economy. As a result, lenders, lawyers and real estate agents are still very much in business.

So, don’t fret! As the closing date approaches for both buyers and sellers, there are ways that you can seamlessly close the sale of the home using the power of technology and other hybrid strategies.

Homebuyers and Sellers

  1. Obtain a home inspection

Normally a home inspection is necessary during the home closing process. The inspector, along with the buyers, would complete this together in-person. However, with social distancing measures you will need to determine other ways to get the home inspection checked off your list.

If sellers agree to have an inspector visit their home, new protocols seem to be that inspectors arrive alone and wear protective equipment such as a hazmat suit and respirator when inside the home. After the inspection is complete, they share their findings with the buyer using digital technology such as video conferencing.

READ: Open For Business: Canadian Real Estate and the “New Normal”

Alternatively, homebuyers can choose to forgo the home inspection part of the closing if they don’t want to take these other steps. However, this can be risky, since inspections can turn up large repairs or other structural challenges in the home which buyers will likely want to know about prior to closing.

  1. Final walkthrough of the new home

Having the final walkthrough of a new home is important to ensure everything is in order and in the same condition as when the homebuyer signed the offer. In the midst of coronavirus distancing measures, there are other ways for buyers to have a final walk-through of their new home.

Buyers can ask sellers to leave the key to the property in a safe place (lockbox). If you’re a homebuyer, you can enter the home privately to complete the final walkthrough prior to taking possession. Wear a mask and gloves to reduce risk to both yourself and the sellers.

Alternatively, if you would rather not attend the walk-through and your real estate agent is comfortable, they can do this independently and virtually walk you through the home. With the aid of 360-degree video technologies, you’ll be able to see exactly what the home looks like in real time.

  1. Title Review and Title Insurance

Your lawyer will review the “title” (deed) to the home, which is the transfer of ownership between the seller and buyer. They will start the title search process to see if there are any obstacles that could stop the sale of the home. These can include zoning issues or outstanding mortgage payments by the former owners.

It’s also your lawyer’s responsibility to set up your title insurance. This protects you from any ownership challenges, including if the initial title review missed something.

Speak to your lender and lawyer to see if the title review and title insurance can be done to their compliance standards with digital signatures.

  1. Exchange of funds

It’s critical that all parties receive the payments they’re owed during the closing process. Typically, real estate lawyers would have cheques couriered with the homebuyer’s mortgage funds and down payment. However, now they are leaning on transferring funds digitally, with their accounts set up to accommodate bill payment and e-transfers.

This allows for a seamless exchange of funds between the two parties. The homebuyer can digitally transfer the funds to their lawyer and then their lawyer can digitally transfer funds to the seller on the closing date.

  1. Getting the keys

One of the best parts of closing your home is finally getting the keys! Similarly, the hand-off of the keys can be challenging since people want to maintain physical distancing. As a result, sellers may use a lockbox to leave the keys for the buyer on the property. This ensures it is a secure exchange for both parties, while reducing unnecessary risk.

Buying or selling a home in these conditions may involve taking a different approach. Yet, there are ways to close the sale of your home during this time. Discuss how you can make adjustments to typical processes with your real estate agent, lawyer, lender, and, home inspector.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

What is the Future of Canadian Real Estate?

It seems difficult to forecast the future of the Canadian real estate market during this time. Many of us have questions about when social distancing measures will be loosened, and life will return to normal.

Earlier this year the market was sizzling and in most major cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, it was a sellers’ market. Right up until early March it was projected to be a busy Spring homebuying season. Yet, things have cooled down significantly as a result of the covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Many people are not sure what the future of the Canadian housing market holds. This uncertainty has caused the market to dry up. Yet, many are predicting that this is a momentary sting to our economy and housing market.

Here are a few indicators of what we may be able to expect in the coming months and years:

Real Estate Market Activity in the Short-term

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is projecting that as social distancing measures loosen, real estate market activity will quickly ramp up again. This is expected to happen near the end of Summer and likely early Fall. The organization believes that the economy will recover, as business operations go back to normal and unemployment rates decrease.

Homebuyers will have more financial power and will be more inclined to start their home search again. While, sellers will feel more comfortable allowing people to visit their homes for open houses.

For now, some economists are predicting that property values will fall temporarily, and lower home prices will be on the table due to tight market conditions. Sellers will be forced to negotiate on price opening the door for buyers who have job security and financing to swoop in.

Relief measures

The Canadian government has stepped in during this time to bolster the economy and aid to Canadians across the country. They’ve created financial relief measures to help soften the impact of the coronavirus on our economy. These benefits have been put in place to reduce household debt as people navigate this challenging time.

The Canadian government has also created specific measures for businesses. As a result of social distancing, many businesses have taken revenue hits or have had to close their doors for the unforeseeable future. Yet, financial benefits will allow more businesses to keep people employed and provide job security. This could encourage more Canadians to continue to engage with the real estate market

However, it’s unclear how much these financial relief measures will entice Canadians to enter the market and to what degree they will.

Interest rates

The mortgage stress test along with high-interest rates have made it challenging for many homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage. This is especially the case for first-time homebuyers who typically don’t have as much money available for a down payment. The good news is that the stress caused by these obstacles may be eased by recent interest rate interventions.

In the short-term the Bank of Canada has significantly lowered the benchmark interest rate to 0.25% to help boost the economy and keep inflation stable. This is the lowest the rate has ever been. For those who want to jump at the opportunity and take advantage of low interest rates, they can qualify for more affordable mortgage payments. This can also allow them to borrow a larger amount, which could help to finance a home with more square footage include features they desire.

For first-time homebuyers who don’t have cash tied up in stocks or other investments and have enough money for a down payment this can be an ideal time to make a purchase. Other key considerations include having job security to ensure they’ll be able to make their mortgage payments even a few months from now.

As the coronavirus situation unfolds, it is hard to say how much lowered interest rates will entice people to purchase homes.

Real Estate Market Activity in the Long-term

Data from Google trends  during the recession in 2008-2009 caused by the housing crisis, show that the search volume for homes for sale in the US and Canada continued to increase through these years into 2010/11. This trend provides evidence that following the economic downturn, the market recovered at a relatively fast rate.

This can be promising data that can put people at ease that after the coronavirus pandemic, our economy is likely to rebound. Employment rates will increase since businesses will be able to operate fully again. As a result, household debt will decline because people will be able to afford to pay their bills.

The demand for homes will grow and we will likely see a lot of pent up demand from the time of social distancing that will push people back into the market. This will especially be true in markets where there has already been a lot of interest, such as Vancouver and Toronto. Coupled with the low inventory we saw before this issue occurred; competition in the market will cause housing prices to be on the rise again.

You may be concerned about the direction the Canadian real estate market may take in the future. However, with government intervention the impact of the coronavirus may not hurt the economy as bad as we think. It’s also important to note that previous recessions have shown us we’ve made strong recoveries. The real estate market has been hot the past few years. Once the coronavirus pandemic is under control, we will likely see the market heat up once again.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

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