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

CMHC Reviews Underwriting Criteria

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all sectors of Canada’s economy, including housing. Job losses, business closures and a drop in immigration are adversely impacting Canada’s housing markets, and CMHC foresees a 9% to 18% decrease in house prices over the next 12 months. In order to protect future home buyers and reduce risk, CMHC is changing its underwriting policies for insured mortgages.

Effective July 1, the following changes will apply for new applications for homeowner transactional and portfolio mortgage insurance:

    • Limiting the Gross/Total Debt Servicing (GDS/TDS) ratios to our standard requirements of 35/42;
    • Establish minimum credit score of 680 for at least one borrower; and
    • Non-traditional sources of down payment that increase indebtedness will no longer be treated as equity for insurance purposes.

To further manage the risk to our insurance business, and ultimately taxpayers, during this uncertain time, we have also suspended refinancing for multi-unit mortgage insurance except when the funds are used for repairs or reinvestment in housing. Consultations have begun on the repositioning of our multi-unit mortgage insurance products.

“COVID-19 has exposed long-standing vulnerabilities in our financial markets, and we must act now to protect the economic futures of Canadians,” said Evan Siddall, CMHC’s President and CEO. “These actions will protect home buyers, reduce government and taxpayer risk and support the stability of housing markets while curtailing excessive demand and unsustainable house price growth.”

These decisions are within CMHC’s authorities under the National Housing Act and are in anticipation of potential house price adjustment. We will continue to monitor market conditions and work with our federal colleagues on potential macro-prudential policy options.

CMHC supports the housing market and financial system stability by providing support for Canadians in housing need, and by offering housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry.

For more information, follow us on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

For information on this release:

Leonard Catling
Media Relations
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
604-787-1787
lcatling@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

 

 

Courtesy of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation – www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Do Staged Homes Sell Faster?

For most home sellers, the goal is to sell their home for the highest possible price and in the shortest amount of time. Two ways to achieve this is with the right asking price, and by staging the property. So, do staged homes really sell faster, and for a higher price? The short answer is yes, and here’s why.

Do staged homes sell faster?

According to the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes spend 73 per cent less time on the market than their un-staged counterparts. Truthfully speaking, even an un-staged home can sell under the right market conditions. A seller’s market, characterized by high demand and low inventory, generally means buyers are likely to scoop up what they can get. In a buyer’s market, there are more homes for sale than there are buyers, which means competition is greater among sellers and buyers have the upper hand. Under these circumstances, staging your property could tip the scales in your favour.

Do staged homes fetch a higher price?

The answer to this question isn’t as cut-and-dry, since the final selling price of a home depends on a number of factors. Is there buyer demand? Are there many other listings on the market competing against yours? And what about the home itself – is it well maintained, cared-for and clean? With all other things equal, a staged home is likely to leave buyers with a better impression than one that hasn’t been staged, with the potential to fetch a higher selling price.

What is home staging?

Home staging is the process of preparing a home for sale by increasing its appeal to a wide range of homebuyers. Home staging isn’t as involved as a renovation, and can involve decluttering, depersonalizing and deep-cleaning; painting the walls in a fresh, neutral hue; updating hardware and lighting; rearranging existing furniture or renting some new pieces to help show the home in the best possible light. When a buyer can see your home as their home, they are more likely to make a competitive offer.

Since the majority of homebuyers start their home hunt online, it’s important to make a good impression through your digital listing photos. Buyers will weed out the homes that don’t meet their criteria, and then proceed to an in-person or virtual showing of the homes that they are seriously considering.

Decluttering and depersonalizing the home of family photos and other personal items can help. Also consider that potential buyers need to think beyond what their eyes are showing them. Staging helps them to visualize themselves living in and using the space. Is the home an ideal place for a growing family, as a live-work space, for recreational pursuits or to enjoy retirement?

Virtual Home Staging

A new twist on home staging is “virtual” staging, which leverages technology to digitally enhance photos in order to demonstrate the possibilities. Virtual staging is ideal for vacant properties, which pose added challenges for sellers and the buyers who are trying to imagine it as their new home. Virtual home staging eliminates the need, effort and cost associated with renting or buying furniture and accessories.

Staging a home doesn’t have to be complicated. Evaluate every room and be critical, because prospective buyers will be. Viewing your own home objectively can be difficult, especially for those who have lived in their home for a long time. A professional home stager and your real estate agent can give you an honest opinion as to what works in your home, what doesn’t, and what the seller might consider changing in order to appeal to homebuyers.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

How Do You Find a Real Estate Agent Virtually?

Buying or selling a home is one of the most complex transactions most of us will ever make, and Coronavirus hasn’t made the process any easier. While some agents are advising their clients to wait until the pandemic and social distancing orders are lifted before proceeding with non-essential transactions, some people still need to buy or sell a home, and they need help doing it. As a consumer, you have a choice in representation. When choosing to work with real estate agent, you should expect a professional with market experience and an intimate knowledge of your preferred neighbourhood and housing type. Throw a pandemic into the mix to quickly find out which agents are worth their salt. Indeed, current market conditions have many people asking, How do you find a real estate agent virtually?

What is Agency Representation?

Agency Representation (or fiduciary representation), simply means that the agent you hire is legally bound to represent your interests. This involves the highest standard of care and loyalty to you, the “client.” Some agents will work with you as a “customer,” which carries a different level of responsibility. Most real estate professionals require a client relationship because it allows them to provide the full range of services to homebuyers. Your agent will discuss representation with you and will request your commitment in writing in order to receive this level of service.

Virtual Real Estate: The New Normal

It goes without saying right now, but we’ll say it anyway: technology is everything. Tech has long loomed over the real estate industry, and agents who have already embraced it in their day-to-day business are now reaping the rewards – and so are their clients. Social distancing measures have disrupted traditional real estate practices like open houses, showings and face-to-face meetings of any kind, but technologically adept agents have found effective ways to complete real estate transactions virtually and from a safe distance. Your search for a real estate agent should include a virtual consultation and preliminary interview. Make this your first evaluation point. How did the agent handle his or her technology? Did your video meeting run smoothly? This may be a good precursor for what you can expect during the transaction itself.

More Tips for Choosing a Good Real Estate Agent

Do your due diligence. Research real estate agents online, read reviews, and solicit recommendations from family and friends. At RE/MAX, client and agent referrals account for 70 per cent of business.

Choose someone you trust. A home is a very intimate, very expensive purchase. It’s critical that your real estate agent makes you feel comfortable, listens to you and respects your views. Choose someone you trust.

Look for experience. Ask questions to ensure the agent is knowledgeable about current real estate market conditions and other factors affecting market activity, such as mortgage rates. An experienced, full-time real estate professional will likely have already experienced market ups and downs, and will know how to navigate current conditions to negotiate the best deal on your behalf.

Undivided attention. While you want an agent with lots of experience, ask how many other clients he or she is working with currently. Generally speaking, if it’s a high number of homebuyers or sellers, question whether you’ll get the attention required. RE/MAX agents who carry the ABR designation (Accredited Buyer Representative) are skilled in understanding and responding to the specific needs of buyers.

Regardless of the market conditions or the specific details of your purchase, the right real estate agent will ensure that your interests become their interests. Contact us for more information on how we can guide you through each step of the home-buying process.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

5 Things To Do To Prep Your Backyard for Spring & Summer

As the days continue to get longer and the weather begins to get warmer, now is the perfect time to dive into working on yards and preparing them for the spring and summer months. With social distancing regulations being in place now as well, working on your yard is a great way to get outside and get some fresh air while still maintaining the appropriate distancing measures. Plus, sprucing your yard up may give you a great new outdoor space to spend time while in isolation.

We’ve put together a list of some things that you can do to begin to prep your yard for the sunny, warmer months ahead.

Clear Dead Growth from Flower Beds & Flower Pots

Some of the first new signs of life that will begin to appear in your backyard after the snow melts are the new growths popping up in your flower beds. Make sure you cut back and clear away any dead growth from last year to allow sunlight to reach the new plants beginning to grow! Clearing away the dead growth in your flower beds will also help to clean up your back yard and get a feel for what new plants and flowers you may want to plant this spring.

Cleaning out last year’s flower pots is also a great way to clean things up. While it may be too cold still in some provinces to be planting flowers just yet, clearing out the dead growth from last year can help you start to plan what flowers you need to pick up at the greenhouse once the weather is appropriate for planting!

Give Your Lawn Some Love

Giving your lawn some TLC is a great way to begin to spruce up your backyard. Tune up your lawnmower to ensure it is in good working order, sharpen the blades and aerate your lawn to help promote new grass growth. Give your lawn a good healthy haircut as soon as the weather permits and spread some fertilizer to help kick start the growing process. Patch any bare spots that may have appeared from underneath the snow, spread some fertilizer and if the weather permits, let your sprinkler run to help kick start the growing process.

Bring Out Outdoor Furniture & Prep your BBQ

If your furniture has been packed away in a storage shed for the colder months, now is the time to bring them out and clean them up. The warm weather is also a great opportunity to break out the barbecue and get it cleaned and ready for the summer months. Check the levels on your propane tanks, scrape down the grill so you have a fresh grilling surface and if your barbecue has been tucked away to stay out of the elements, bring it out into the light!

Clean Your Deck/Patio

After the winter months, your deck or patio is most likely covered in a good layer of dirt and grime. Before you begin enjoying happy hour on your deck, it is probably a good idea to give it a good wash before the spring and summer months. Move off all deck furniture and decorative pieces and hose your deck or patio down. Use an old broom and a pail of water with a cleaning solution to scrub the deck down and rid it of any stubborn grime. Hose down any outdoor furniture cushions and leave them out in the sun to dry.

Once everything is clean and dry, you can put everything back together and if you’re feeling like a change from last year, move things around and rearrange!

Start Planning for Some Colour

While the temperature might not yet be cooperative for beginning to plant flower beds and fill flower pots, now is a perfect time to start planning what plants, shrubs and flowers you are going to want in your outdoor space. Do some research on what flowers are going to be the most tolerant to your outdoor conditions and plan accordingly. Begin to place your flower pots around your space to start planning which flowers will go where. If you are wanting to go with a certain colour scheme with your flowers, figure out what other shrubs and grasses will compliment and add some greenery to your backyard space.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Best Places to Live 2020: Toronto Real Estate

The Toronto housing market was on an upward trajectory at the start of 2020, picking up right where the fall market left off in 2019. Sales were on track to surpass 2018 and 2019 levels. While the impact of COVID-19 put a pause on the busy spring market, industry experts anticipate a return to an active state once social distancing measures are lifted.

Housing affordability and low inventory continue to be an area of concern for Toronto homebuyers, who range widely from households with and without kids, to luxury seekers and Baby Boomers / retirees.

So, what are the best neighbourhoods in Toronto to buy a house? RE/MAX explores more than 300 of Canada’s most liveable hot spots in the new 2020 Liveability Report. Here are our top picks in Toronto.

10 Most Liveable Neighbourhoods in Toronto

  1. Corktown
  2. Kensington Market
  3. West Don Lands
  4. Bay Street Corridor
  5. North Riverdale
  6. Chinatown
  7. Danforth
  8. Grange Park
  9. Summerhill
  10. Alexandra Park

Most Affordable Neighbourhoods in Toronto

The most affordable neighbourhoods in Toronto are Trinity Bellwoods, East York and The Junction. These neighbourhoods are also among of the most up-and-coming in the region. East York has been a sought-after neighbourhood for a number of years, thanks to its very family-friendly atmosphere and proximity to downtown, while Trinity-Bellwoods and The Junction have experienced recent gentrification and an improvement in proximity to bike lanes and walking paths, independently owned retail/gyms/bars and restaurants.

Toronto’s Future Liveability

Toronto liveability is expected to continue improving in the next three to five years, based on ongoing improvements in homes and local businesses. “It’s become increasingly common for homes purchased in Toronto neighbourhoods to undergo immediate renovations, which has a positive impact on its entire respective area. Toronto has so many incredible amenities as is, so these aesthetic improvements make a big difference on the look of its neighbourhoods.”

Toronto at a Glance

Toronto is both the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. Located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto features an urban downtown core and is surrounded by the region best known as the “Greater Toronto Area,” which features a breadth of suburban and urban city centres. Known as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is a centre for business, finance, culture and arts.

Canada’s Most Liveable Neighbourhoods

REMAX best places to live table

Liveability is about quality of life at a local level. A neighbourhood’s dynamism, or lack thereof, involves a delicate convergence between independent small businesses, public institutions, arts and culture, green spaces and housing, to name a few. The COVID-19 tragedy will impact neighbourhood ecosystems differently across the country, just as the virus itself has. Yet, civic/local pride has been proliferating throughout this crisis in inspiring ways, giving Canadians hope that micro-economies, including real estate, have the resilience to be restored in the near and mid-term.

To learn more about liveability in Canada’s biggest housing markets, read the RE/MAX 2020 Liveability Report.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

5 Ways To Stay Productive While Working From Home

Grab a cup of coffee and follow these tips for the most productive at-home workday!

Working from home can be a challenge – especially if you are sharing the space with family members and pets. If you’re fielding calls in pajamas, it’s time to build a new work from home routine that mimics a typical day in the office. Follow these tips to ensure a productive workday, helping create a sense of normalcy during unusual times.

1. Find a Secluded Space
Loud noise – like children playing and dogs barking – might break your focus or disrupt an important phone call. If possible, set up a workspace that’s isolated from the rest of the household, whether that be tucked away in a bedroom or down in the basement. While it may be convenient to set up shop in high-traffic places like the living room, opt instead for a space with less noise and distraction.

2. Stay Organized
A clean room is a clean mind, right? That’s true for your workspace, too! Keep your desktop orderly and organized. Make sure it’s stocked with necessary supplies, including things like pens, sticky notes and a stapler. Whether it’s a home office or your kitchen table, design a calming space that encourages productivity.

3. Dress to Impress
With no morning commute, it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. While comfortable, it won’t feel like the day has truly begun – and it will make it even more difficult to separate work and relaxation. Get dressed for work as if you were heading into the office, ensuring you feel professional and prepared for whatever comes your way.

Additionally, the influx of video business meetings drives incentive to stick to your typical hygiene schedule, looking clean and presentable in front of the camera.

4. Eliminate Distractions
Permit personal distractions, like television and personal social media, only outside of business hours. Though it may be tempting to have a TV show playing in the background, it can spiral into an inefficient workday and waste time that could be spent on conducting business or working on professional growth.

5. Stick to a Schedule
Set work hours for yourself and stick to them, beginning and ending at the same time each day. Schedule a lunch break to refresh. Try to truly clock out when the workday is over; whether it’s calling friends and family, going for a walk, watching your favorite movie or trying a new dinner recipe, engage in activities that promote your well-being. Resist combining your personal and professional life as much as you can.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX

Four Things to Consider When Viewing Houses Online

As technology evolves and improves over time, online home listings get more sophisticated. With features such as 3D home tours now available, it is now possible to view a home and go through the entire home purchase online. This is especially pertinent now, given the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and the stress on social distancing. While many online listings are packed full of great photos and lots of information, going through the home buying process virtually and being unable to view a property in person may leave some things overlooked, as they are not as obvious through a screen.

Here are four things to take into consideration when viewing a house virtually.

3D & Virtual Tours

If doing a physical walk-through of a property isn’t an option, 3D and 360 tours can be a great alternative to give you a feeling of what it would be like to walk through a home. Many realtors now offer 3D tours or virtual walk-throughs for their listings, so now is a great time to take advantage of those! 3D tours are great for allowing you to view a property from the comfort of your own home, while also giving you the freedom to virtually navigate your way through the property. This will give you a chance to get a feel for the floorplan and layout of a home without having to actually set foot on the property.

With the current situation, many realtors are also offering virtual video walk-throughs of their properties that are currently on the market. Many realtors have asked the seller to film a walk-through of their home that they are then able to share with prospective buyers. Utilizing these virtual tours are a great way to get a feel for the property you are looking at and can be useful for helping potential buyers narrow down the different properties they may be interested in.

Analyze the Photos

Many realtors work with professional real estate photographers to take photos of their listings. This is a great asset to potential buyers as the photographers know the best ways to show off the different rooms in a home. Make sure you take a look at all of the photos and spend some time noting where windows are and what rooms look like they will get the best natural light. Another good thing to consider when looking through the photos is how your own furniture will look in the space. If the photos of the home are furniture free, allow yourself to mentally place furniture where you think it may look best. If the property is staged, take into consideration where different furniture pieces are placed and how you could change the furniture layout to work for you and your style.

Take Note of Potential Fixes/Renos

While buying a new construction or newly renovated home is great, some people look for fixer upper’s that they can make their own. If you’re looking at a property online that may not be quite your style or that needs some upgrades, take note of those. See what elements of the home work for you and which areas you would consider renovating or giving some TLC in the future.

Remember that your realtor is going to be the expert, so don’t be afraid to give your realtor a call to chat about a listing you are interested in and get their thoughts. And remember, paint colour is an easy, relatively inexpensive change that make a huge different in a home!

Consider the Outdoor Space

One thing that many people forget to take into consideration when viewing a home online is the outdoor space. Whether this be a small balcony or a large backyard, outdoor space is definitely something to try to get a feel for when viewing a home virtually. Take account of what furniture you may need to fit into the space or invest in, what sort of maintenance will be involved in the upkeep of the outdoor space. Many realtors ask their sellers to try to have two photos of the exterior of the home, one from the summer and one from the winter. This allows potential buyers to get a feel for what the exterior of the home will look like in every season.

When it comes to house hunting online, there are lots of things a potential buyer can do to get a feel for a property by simply utilizing the tools that are available online. Realtors are also a great resource to lean on, as they often have lots of information on the property that may not be included in the MLS. 

If you are looking for a new place to call home or an investment property, contact us to further discuss.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

What is Happening in the Toronto Real Estate Market?

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it continues to change the way people work and live. The outcomes of the situation have affected Toronto real estate and surrounding areas. Due to the market lag effect we likely won’t know how much the market will be affected until further down the line.

The real estate industry is considered an essential service by the Canadian government. Therefore, agents continue to guide buyers and sellers through their real estate journey, limiting and even eliminating in-person meetings. Here’s what we know is happening in the Toronto real estate market currently:

Market activity during coronavirus pandemic

February and early March showed signs that the Toronto housing market would continue to see growth and typical spring home-buying activity.

Population growth and low unemployment rates at the time were contributing to an active market. It seemed buyers were still drawn to single-family homes in the GTA, with year-over-year sales growth and listings on the incline.

However, unprecedented circumstances mid-way through March due to coronavirus are expected to cause a shift in trajectory.

According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) sales reached 8,012 home sales through March 2020 which is up 12.3 per cent compared to 7,132 sales in March 2019.

Average home prices are high in this city, sitting at $987,787 for Toronto property in March. Yet, average selling price in March remains above last year’s average, which indicates demand for homeownership is persistent.

This data suggests that there is market activity, but it is also evident that the number of sales in the second half of March was impacted by coronavirus.

With measures such as social distancing and non-essential business closures, home searching may slow down to a degree as more people take precautions and follow social distancing bylaws.

This does not mean that the market will come to a complete halt. Despite these challenges, there will always be a need to purchase or sell a home, such as those experiencing divorce, are in the middle of an estate sale, and other circumstances. There are important reasons why the real estate industry will continue to operate and support the Toronto market.

The Canadian government is taking steps to help businesses reduce layoffs and keep employees on the payroll. For those with job security and a down payment ready, the effects of the virus won’t be an obstacle to entering the market.

A potential slowdown of bidding wars

New immigrants and family formations have contributed to rising housing demand in Toronto. Supply and demand play an important role in the state of real estate markets. Low inventories and a shortage of listings in the city often spur bidding wars between homebuyers. This can make it more difficult for buyers to enter the market, as competing offers are a common occurrence due to tight market conditions.

Yet, recent shifts could discourage people from listing their homes in the short-term, with fear of not getting the best price under current conditions. While homebuyers may take a wait-and-see approach for when the market recovers. If sellers hang in there, less competition could make this a prime time to purchase a home.

However, buyers and sellers may be surprised at how easily consumers are embracing technology to continue activity in this market. Having open houses may not be necessary, since agents can leverage online 360-degree virtual listings, panoramic images and floor plans to give the buyer the experience of an open house without being there in person.

To stay connected to your real estate agent, apps and video calling services help maintain open lines of communication.

Leverage low interest rates

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bank of Canada has reduced its benchmark interest rate to 0.25 per cent from 1.25 per cent. This is the lowest the rate has ever been.

A recent announcement to ease the mortgage stress test to give buyers more purchasing power was put on hold due to the pandemic. However, assuming the change eventually comes into play, the new stress test would factor in actual mortgage rates rather than the current posted rate system.

The good news is that this could be the perfect time to enter the market and purchase a home. Now that mortgage rates are lower, buyers can borrow more money at a decreased interest rate making their mortgage payments more affordable.

Another benefit is that homebuyers will have more housing options to choose from. Since they can qualify for more financing, it can be used to purchase a home with more of the features they desire.

First-time buyers also have the advantage of not having to sell a property in order to access the equity required to purchase a new home.

With interest rates at an all-time low, this can be considered a good time to purchase a home. Yet, the challenge will be for real estate agents to facilitate home-buying activity during this time. Here are some strategic ways the Canadian real estate market can continue during coronavirus.

Toronto real estate continues to experience housing market activity. While the coronavirus pandemic may affect the market in the short-term, we expect it to rebound when social distancing measures loosen, and we return to some normalcy. For now, it is important to take necessary precautions while participating in the market during your home-buying or selling journey to maintain health and safety.

 

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

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