Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reasons to hire a real estate agent to assist ...

With so much information readily available online, clients sometimes ask me, "Why should we hire a real estate agent?" They wonder, and rightfully so, if they couldn't buy or sell a home through the Internet or through regular marketing and advertising channels without representation, without a a real estate agent. Some do OK, many don't. So if you've wondered the same thing, here are 10 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a professional real estate agent.

 Education & Experience

Senior couple visit new home with an estate agent
Andrew Bret Wallis/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
You don't need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real estate professional who does. Henry Ford once said that when you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are. The trick is to find the right person. For the most part, they all cost roughly the same. Why not hire a person with more education and experience than you? We're all looking for more precious time in our lives, and hiring pros gives us that time.

 Agents Are Buffers

Agents take the spam out of your property showings and visits. If you're a buyer of new homes, your agent will whip out her sword and keep the builder's agents at bay, preventing them from biting or nipping at your heels. If you're a seller, your agent will filter all those phone calls that lead to nowhere from lookie loos and try to induce serious buyers to immediately write an offer.

 Neighborhood Knowledge

Agents either possess intimate knowledge or they know where to find the industry buzz about your neighborhood. They can identify comparable sales and hand these facts to you, in addition to pointing you in the direction where you can find more data on schools, crime or demographics. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but an agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.

 Price Guidance

Contrary to what some people believe, agents do not select prices for sellers or buyers. However, an agent will help to guide clients to make the right choices for themselves. If a listing is at 7%, for example, an agent has a 7% vested interest in the sale, but the client has a 93% interest. Selling agents will ask buyers to weigh all the data supplied to them and to choose a price. Then based on market supply, demand and the conditions, the agent will devise a negotiation strategy.

 Market Conditions Information

Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling or buying process. Many factors determine how you will proceed. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do.

 Professional Networking

Real estate agents network with other professionals, many of whom provide services that you will need to buy or sell. Due to legal liability, many agents will hesitate to recommend a certain individual or company over another, but they do know which vendors have a reputation for efficiency, competency and competitive pricing. Agents can, however, give you a list of references with whom they have worked and provide background information to help you make a wise selection.

 Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality

Top producing agents negotiate well because, unlike most buyers and sellers, they can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction and because they are skilled. It's part of their job description. Good agents are not messengers, delivering buyer's offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client's case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.

 Handling Volumes of Paperwork

One-page deposit receipts were prevalent in the early 1970s. Today's purchase agreements run 10 pages or more. That does not include the federal- and state-mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local custom. Most real estate files average thicknesses from one to three inches of paper. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands. In some states, lawyers handle the disclosures, thank goodness!

 Answer Questions After Closing

Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt. For example, taxing authorities that collect property tax assessments, doc stamps or transfer tax can fall months behind and mix up invoices, but one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Many questions can pop up that were overlooked in the excitement of closing. Good agents stand by ready to assist. Worthy and honest agents don't leave you in the dust to fend for yourself.

 Develop Relationships for Future Business

The basis for an agent's success and continued career in real estate is referrals. Few agents would survive if their livelihood was dependent on consistently drumming up new business. This emphasis gives agents strong incentives to make certain clients are happy and satisfied. It also means that an agent who stays in the business will be there for you when you need to hire an agent again. Many will periodically mail market updates to you to keep you informed and to stay in touch.

To read the complete article, please click here 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Regulators should explore boosting minimum down payment on homes: CMHC

The head of Canada's federal housing agency says regulators should explore the possibility of raising the minimum down payment required on a home as a way of easing affordability and reducing risk to the financial system.

Evan Siddall, president and CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., says that although politicians are tempted to help first-time buyers, low down payments fuel demand and lead to higher housing costs.

Siddall says that ends up hurting the first-time buyers that the government wanted to help.

Last year, Ottawa raised the minimum down payment on the portion of a home worth over $500,000 to 10 per cent.

Siddall said in a speech at the Bank of England's offices in London that increasing the minimum down payment even further could help offset the effects of rock-bottom interest rates, which have encouraged borrowers to take on excessive mortgage debt.

He added that regulators should also explore the possibility of imposing a loan-to-income limit as Ireland, the U.K. and a few others have done.

For the complete article, please click here to read

'A new vision for housing in Canada'

The Canadian government has unveiled its housing strategy plans, following months of consultation with Canadians and industry stakeholders.

“Affordable housing can connect individuals with the facilities and services they need to build secure, productive and meaningful lives for themselves.
Living close to jobs, public transportation and childcare enables people to participate fully in society and the economy,” Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of families, children and social development, said in the report, entitled What we heard: Shaping Canada’s national housing strategy. “A National Housing Strategy will align the efforts and resources of all players – governments, stakeholders in the private and non-profit sectors and others – toward improving housing outcomes for all Canadians.”

The 66 page report, which was prepared by the Conference Board of Canada, was released Tuesday, which marks National Housing Day in Canada.
The strategy focuses on housing affordability for all Canadians. It was formulated following consultation with over 7,000 Canadians who expressed a number of ideas on how the Canadian government can address housing needs for citizens across the country.

As a result of that consultation, a number of themes emerged.

The housing plan has a ways to go before actual policy is implemented, however.

“The hard work continues. Needless to say, broad consultations indulge peoples’ expectations, as they should,” the report said. “However, policy makers must balance these against fiscal constraints. Our objective will be to develop an NHS that employs finite government funds to maximum effect, yielding the best outcomes.”

The major themes reported in the study can be viewed below:

Helping those in greatest need. It is clear that Canadians are united in wanting better housing outcomes - not just for themselves, but for individuals and families with the most severe housing needs, including low-income Canadians, the homeless and victims fleeing violence.

Helping Indigenous peoples achieve better housing outcomes for themselves. Indigenous peoples told us that a separate, but parallel strategy is needed to address the unique housing challenges facing M├ętis, Inuit and First Nations peoples living on and off reserve, in cities and remote areas, and in the North and bring housing need levels on par with on-Indigenous peoples.

Eliminating homelessness. A fundamental goal of a National Housing Strategy should be to eliminate homelessness in Canada, and short of that, make it rare, brief and non-recurring. The needs of homeless Canadians, who fall at the extreme end of the housing spectrum, ought to be prioritized.

Making housing more affordable. Canadians said housing they can afford and that meets their needs was the most important housing outcome. The lack of affordable, suitable and adequate housing is especially a concern for low-income households and other vulnerable Canadians across the country. 

Adopting a housing systems perspective. Canadians told us they expect a National Housing Strategy to better coordinate the various housing initiatives already in motion across the country and to tackle housing needs across the entire continuum.

Housing policies and programs should centre on people and place. All recognized the need for housing solutions to be people-focused so that individuals and families have access to jobs, schools and supports in order to participate in their communities and help lift them out of poverty. Canadians also want housing located in safe neighbourhoods with day-care facilities, community services, public transportation, recreational and other amenities nearby.

Setting clear outcomes and targets. You told us that a national strategy must set clear outcomes and measurable targets in order to report back to Canadians on progress in achieving better housing.

Delivering long-term and predictable funding. We heard loud and clear from housing providers and developers that long-term and stable funding is necessary to plan and deliver more affordable housing. Similarly, access to innovative financing and affordable lands will also help alleviate affordable housing gaps.

Realizing the right to housing. Canadians said a national housing strategy should examine whether our laws, policies and practices are sufficient to prevent homelessness, forced evictions, and discrimination in having adequate housing.

Improving data collection, analysis and research. Canadians and housing experts stressed that more and better housing data is needed to understand housing conditions and the housing needs of Canadians, and in order to develop informed, cost-effective, policies, programs and initiatives.

Taking a collaborative approach to housing. Canadians told us that a National Housing Strategy should take an integrated approach, building on the capacity of all orders of government and other partners. Clear Collaboration and flexible solutions are necessary to achieve a national vision of housing

For the complete report, please read here 

The complete article is found here 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Vancouver approves vacant homes tax

Empty homes in Vancouver will cost owners 1 per cent of the property’s value from 2017 following approval of the tax by city councillors.

Residences that are left empty for 6 months or more will be subject to the tax, if they are not the owner’s principal home. There are some exclusions including homes that are undergoing renovations.

The scheme, approved Wednesday by 8 councillors with 3 against, will require owners to self-declare and those who fail to comply will face sizeable penalties.

For the complete article, please click here 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Chinese buyers swap Vancouver for Seattle

Wealthy Chinese property buyers are looking for alternatives for their investment cash following the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax was introduced in Vancouver.

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle says that it has seen a surge in home sales to clients from mainland China since August but the additional tax isn’t the only thing driving buyers south of the border.

“For now, Chinese Nationals enjoy 10-year multi-entry visas into the US as well as opportunities for EB-5 investments that can lead to US citizenship,” said Dean Jones, President & CEO of RSIR. “We anticipate these programs will remain in place but it’s too early to tell. Global wealth seeks financial safe harbor and sudden policy changes in China and Canada, in part is what diverted demand here in the first place.”

For the complete article, please click here

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CMHC passes stress test extreme scenarios

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says its stress testing shows it will be able to withstand even the most extreme economic scenarios.

The agency tested its mortgage loan insurance and securitization businesses against several scenarios including different changes in the unemployment rate and home prices.

The tests looked at the impact of a severe and prolonged economic depression and a plunge in the price of oil.

Other situations that were tested included a strong earthquake and a sudden rise in interest rates that causes a drop in housing prices and the failure of a Canadian financial institution.

They also looked at what would happen if a U.S. style housing correction occurred in Canada.

CMHC says the tests confirm that its capital holdings are sufficient.

To read the complete article, please click here

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

President Elect Donald Trump effecting Canadian mortgages?

As the saying goes, "When the USA sneezes, Canada catches a cold..."  The election of Donald Trump is causing some wrinkles in the Canadian mortgage market....

Canada's banking watchdog, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, has also imposed new rules that will require lenders to hold more capital against riskier mortgages. Combined with the other changes, financial institutions suddenly find it more expensive to lend against housing.

As the banks wrestle with these rules, bond yields have also started spiking. Since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States last Tuesday, the five-year Government of Canada bond yield, which is used as a benchmark for mortgages, jumped 21 basis points to 0.96 per cent.

The sudden spike affects banks because their mortgages earn a spread off of the five-year benchmark rate. Whenever their borrowing costs rise, they pass the increase along to customers who take out new loans.

Fascinating changes in Canadian mortgage markets abound ....

The Federal government is tightening rules to help cool the market, Ontario institutes a higher land transfer tax rebate to give buyers incentives to purchase and now RBC is offering lower rates for a shorter ammortorization on your mortgage.  Interesting times in the Canadian mortgage markets.

Under pricing pressure from spiking bond yields and Ottawa's housing market crackdown, Royal Bank of Canada is boosting its most important fixed-rate mortgages.

RBC is also introducing a new pricing structure, charging different rates for mortgages with amortization periods of 25 years or less and for those with longer maturities -- a first for Canada.

for the complete article, please click here 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Land transfer tax rebate increased....

In its 2016 Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Ontario committed to increasing the land transfer tax (LTT) rebate for first-time home buyers from $2,000 to $4,000. The new LTT rebate will help more young families achieve their dreams of home ownership.

"Finding an affordable home has become a struggle for thousands of young couples,” said Ray Ferris, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). “This tax break will reduce a first-time buyer’s closing costs and help them save more for their down payment.” According to research prepared by Altus Group Economics for OREA, an improved LTT rebate will create 5,000 jobs and $268 million in economic spinoffs. Research shows that home ownership contributes to families becoming happier and healthier, and enjoying improvements in their children’s school performance.

for the complete article, please click here 

It means first-time buyers who are permanent Ontario residents, will not pay land transfer tax on the first $368,000 of the cost of their homes. Given lower prices in much of the province, Sousa said “for many this will mean no land transfer tax on the purchase for their first home.”

for additional information, please read this article 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Setting the Stage for Coach Houses in Ottawa

On October 11, 2016, the City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee reviewed and approved the City Staff’s proposal to allow “coach houses” in urban and rural neighbourhoods.
The proposal will amend the City’s Official Plan, Zoning By-law, Site Plan Control By-law, Development Charge By-law and Parkland Dedication By-law, all in an effort to accommodate/promote small-scale intensification in Ottawa’s residential neighbourhoods.
This initiative comes from the Province’s amendments to Ontario’s Planning Act in 2012. The Province is pushing municipalities to amend their by-laws and plans to allow secondary units and ancillary structures on residential properties.
The City of Ottawa has taken up the mantle, and on October 26th the City’s plan for coach houses will be considered by City Council.
Coach houses present an interesting opportunity for owners to make use of an existing structure on their properties, or perhaps to build a new structure to be occupied as a secondary residential dwelling. The driveway and services for the coach house must be shared with the main dwelling, but otherwise the coach house can be an independent unit that could be used by immediate or extended family, or by independent third parties for those owners who wish to earn extra rental income.
For the complete post, from real estate lawyer David Reid, please click here 

Ottawa real estate market keeps hitting new highs

Some 1,214 homes traded hands last month, according to figures released by the Ottawa Real Estate Board Thursday. That compares to 1,159 a year earlier and a five-year average for October of 1,130.
“October’s sales continued the record-breaking resale trend for the third straight month,” stated Ottawa Real Estate Board president Shane Silva, adding that last month’s year-over-year increase was due to higher condominium sales.
Average resale prices continued to tick upwards in October, reaching $392,579. That’s up 3.3 per cent more than a year earlier and an increase of nearly $9,000 from September. 
For the complete article from the OBJ, please click here

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Helping find the house...

Hey Greg
thanks again for helping us find the house we really appreciate. And the boys are happy with the house, They are doing good. Well never forget how you helped us.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A real pro...

Hi Greg 
Thank you 
Lise and I are happy that we chose you to sell our condo. It was a pleasure working with you and your professionalism in the sale of our condo!
Take care 
Lise and Silvio‎