Is the Real Estate Market Changing?

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“GTA home sales plunge as much as 61 per cent”.

Headlines like the one above might lead you to believe the market has crashed and home values have plummeted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

2017 has seen a very overheated market during the first 5 months. The lack of homes for sale in the Hamilton and the surrounding GTA markets has pushed up prices and created a very competitive marketplace. The competition has led to multiple offers, generating sale prices well above the asking price for homes. This made it very challenging for homeowners and REALTORS® to determine the market value of homes.

As the market has eased in the last few weeks, buyers are finding they are not always in competition to buy a home, and have the luxury of being able to include conditions in their offers whether it be for financing, home inspection, or anything else. The market has also made it possible for REALTORS® to actually negotiate for their buyers and sellers.

The change in the market has also caused REALTORS® to have a closer look at how they are pricing and marketing homes. If you have been trying to buy a home, the one line that you hate to see in a listing is “no offers until…”, as you know you will likely be having to compete to buy the home. While there is still competition in the market, we are no longer seeing the huge numbers of offers, not the selling prices well above the asking price. In fact, we see some sellers who have opted to wait until a set date to view offers not receiving the competition they had hoped for. In some instances, these sellers are relisting their property at a higher price, and removing the time frame for offers.

As the market changes, both buyers and sellers will need to revise their approaches. The buyers are gaining the opportunity to take some time to make sure the home they are buying is the right fit for them, and to satisfy themselves regarding any conditions they need to meet.
On the other hand, the sellers are discovering that they may not obtain the unbelievably high price for their home that the neighbour did just a couple weeks ago. Also, it may take more than a week to list, market and sell their home.

As the market changes, it is important to have a professional REALTOR® in your corner, helping you make the right choice and negotiating the best possible price for you. If you are thinking about buying or selling, be sure to call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professional representatives. They will be able to help you in making the decisions that are right for you!

Is it Time to Break Out the Crystal Ball?

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Experts are starting to talk more and more about a housing bubble.

The most common questions I have heard lately are “Will prices drop if the bubble bursts?” and “Should I wait to buy? If prices drop I don’t want to lose money”

These are both valid questions, and the first one especially is hard to answer. A crystal ball would be a very helpful REALTOR® tool right now. There is much talk recently about the Ontario government introducing measures to cool the real estate market. One suggestion has been to introduce a foreign investor tax similar to what B.C. introduced last year. Since the introduction of the tax, the Vancouver market initially showed a drop, but has returned to a ‘normal’ growth rate. The success of such a measure is dependant upon there being foreign investors in the market. This is true of the Toronto market, but perhaps not as important in the markets surrounding the GTA, such as Hamilton. There have been other suggestions that would have varied affects on the market, but in general the outcome of any measure is a total unknown. Government intervention can often have unintended consequences.

The second question really has two answers, depending on why you are buying property. If you are an investor as opposed to a family looking for a new home, the answers might vary.

As an investor, you will make a buying decision based on the expected return from the property you buy, whether through rental income, or capital growth. In a market as heated as the Hamilton/Burlington area is right now, there is not a large inventory of investment properties that are currently providing a high return on investment due to the large initial payment and the servicing of the mortgage debt. Even if an investor bought with cash i.e. no mortgage, the return on the investment would be limited. If buying for capital growth, it is difficult to predict how much, if at all, the market will continue to increase. With year over year growth currently in the area of 30%, investors are questioning just how likely it is that such growth can be sustained, and if it cannot be sustained, how much potential is there for a drop in real estate values.

As a family (or individual) looking to buy a home, now may very well be a good time to buy. If you are buying a family home, you are generally not looking to sell in the next few years. Real estate over the long term has proven to be a very good investment. Even if the market does cool, and prices drop, history has shown us that the prices will recover, just not in a one or two year timeframe. Also, if prices drop and you decide it is time to move up, the more expensive home will be more affordable assuming it suffered the same percentage drop in value as your less expensive home.

Also, if you are planning to buy a family home, and there is not a cooling of the market, each month you wait increases the cost of homeownership, or reduces the number of homes that are available in your price range.

If you have questions whether you should be acting now or waiting, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals representatives. They will be glad to sit down with you and discuss your particular situation and needs.

How Long Should You Wait?

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What is the price of procrastination currently in real estate?

The real estate market right now is difficult for buyers. The lack of properties to select from, and the competition to buy what is available is making some people think they should just wait until the market is better.

In real estate, waiting can be good for you or bad for you, depending on how different variables change. For example, the interest rate in the United States has started to edge up, and history would tell us that Canada will soon follow the example south of the border. The rate was just increased .25% in the U.S. It may not seem like much, but first, it is a sign that rates are going to increase to some extent, and also, we may not see historically low rates again for some time.

The .25% rate increase on a $250,000 mortgage could mean a difference of $31.84 per month. An increase of 1% could mean a difference of $130.11 per month. Over the term of a mortgage, the increase in payments tend to add up significantly.

If home prices continue to increase at the rate they have over the past year (close to 30% gain in one year), many buyers will be priced out of the market, as incomes are not increasing at a rate that would enable people to meet the extra costs. For example, a $400,000 home in today’s market could be $520,000 in one year’s time, assuming another 30% gain. Today, if you were putting down 10% ($40,000), the $360,000 mortgage would have a monthly payment of approximately $1650.00. The same house with a 30% increase would have a monthly mortgage payment of approximately $2150.00 per month, and the 10% downpayment would be $52,000. Same home, one year later (assuming mortgage rates don’t change). As you can see, the same home can cost you a larger downpayment, and in this example, $500 per month more in a mortgage payment.

If you are ready to buy, and have been waiting for the right time, maybe you should quit waiting!

Call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals representatives and see if now is the right time for you! They will help you look at all the possibilities to ensure you make the right decision.

Welcome Spring!

The calendar says Spring is here, even if the weather doesn’t.

Traditionally Spring is the time of year when new real estate listings flood the market, and everyone gets busy. The market this year has been going at a record breaking pace, but in spite of that, I hope that home owners will get excited by spring, and decide to put their homes on the market.

We have been experiencing an unprecedented shortage of homes for the number of buyers looking. Many feel the only way to correct the shortage is to have the government intervene, enacting more laws and restrictions.

These actions in the past year seem to have hurt the very buyers they were trying to help. New mortgage rules have made it more difficult for first time buyers to obtain a mortgage, only adding to the problem of soaring prices, and making it harder for them to save for the downpayment necessary.

There is talk of the government placing a foreign investor tax on those buying in the Toronto market, to help ease the inventory shortage, but those in the market say it’s not foreign investors causing the problem.

Many experts says that the only way out of the housing shortage is for more new homes to be built, in recognition of a slow down in new home construction last year.

Perhaps the seemingly easiest solution is for us all to get on with life. Many home owners I speak to are waiting. Waiting to see if prices go up. Waiting to see if more homes will come on the market for them to select from. Waiting to see if interest rates are going up. All these events are likely going to happen… the unknown is just how soon. If everyone who has been considering moving put their home on the market, perhaps our greatest issue would be solved – lack of properties to buy.

If you would like to find out if now is the right time for you to make a move, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals reps. They will be glad to help you make the right decision.

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Home?

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There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. It is not always a good time to buy depending on your stage in life and your future plans.

The recent changes in the mortgage qualification rules have either taken some buyers out of the market entirely, or reduced the price of the property they are qualified to buy. This has prompted some buyers to become creative, whether by having family or a friend go on title of their new property, and be included in the mortgage calculation, or by borrowing money to increase the downpayment to over 20% to avoid the higher threshold of qualification. Both of these approaches have their risks, and should be carefully considered before using one of them to buy a home. It is possible that now is not the time for you to buy. Perhaps taking more time to increase your downpayment, or time to consider what you really need in your new home is the right approach. It is possible that a lower price home may be the right fit for you right now.

Some ‘experts’ are predicting that home prices will ‘adjust’ (as in decrease) due to the new mortgage rules, as fewer buyers will be able to qualify at the current price levels. We have not seen this happening in the market as of yet, but it is possible. We are seeing less competition for homes compared to the frenzy we saw through the spring and summer.

If you are fortunate to not be subject to the rules for less than 20% down, now may very well be a great time to buy a home. If you are at the stage in life of downsizing, you can maximize your sale price on what is likely your biggest asset, and reinvest in a lower price home. If you are upsizing, it is hard to beat the current mortgage rates that are being offered. One of the big banks just increased their mortgage lending rate, but we have not seen any others as of yet. The Bank of Canada has indicated that they may even decrease the bank rate, which might result in lower still mortgage rates (hard to imagine!)

If you are an investor, with mortgage rates where they are, and the number of people in the rental market, now is a great time to buy that duplex/triplex etc.

As you can see that answer to the question I posed is perhaps. There are many things to consider. How long do you intend to live in the home you are buying? Are you starting a family? Are you retiring soon. These are just some of the questions to ask yourself. The best way to find out what is the right answer for you is to call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals and discuss your current wants and needs, and perhaps even more important discuss your future plans. They will help you determine what you can afford to buy, and if it is right for you. It costs you nothing, but may very well save you a lot of heartache in the future.

Some Like it Hot!

imagesBut some sellers don’t like a hot market!

The question many sellers ask their sales rep in this market is “What if I under price my home?” Experience would tell us that the bigger problem in a hot sellers’ market would be “What if I over price my home?”

In the type of market we are currently experiencing, under pricing a home will result in many showings and likely a number of competing offers. By under pricing, I mean being close to market value, but just under. Buyers know the prices in the market and can be put off by a seller grossly underpricing their home as easily as by a seller grossly over pricing their home. If the sellers price their home too low, buyers may assume the seller is just fishing for a sky high offer, and wait to see what happens. Buyers don’t like to guess what the asking price should be.

Speaking of over pricing… Some sellers believe that they can’t over price their home. They believe that there are so many buyers looking that one of them will buy their home regardless of the asking price – they just have to wait for the right buyer. The buyers looking in our current market are well versed in prices. Odds are they have lost out at least once in competition, and know the market almost as well as their REALTOR®. They may be prepared to pay top dollar, but they will not pay well over market just because the seller is asking. By pricing their home too high, sellers take the risk of being ignored by the buyers. The buyers will wait for the seller to drop the price, and often by then the seller’s home has been sitting on the market long enough that buyers perceive that there is a problem with the home. Over pricing the home at the start can result in the seller receiving less money for their home than they would have, had they priced it closer to the market value initially.

If you are considering selling your home, call one of our Coldwell Banker Community Professionals. They can help you determine what your home is worth today!

Thinking of Buying a Home? 3 Questions Every Buyer Should Answer First

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If you are thinking about buying a home, you are likely getting lots of advice from friends and family. They no doubt have your best interests at heart, but there are three questions you should ask yourself to decide if NOW is the right time.

 

 

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This is the most important question you should ask yourself, as if will determine if you should be buying, and if so, what is most important to you in your home buying process. Financing doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you really need.
Many studies have been conducted, and 4 major reasons consistently turn up. These reasons are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does it mean to you to own a home? What benefits will moving provide you with?

Once you have answered this question…

2. Where are home values headed?
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s outlook for 2016 indicates that the Hamilton-Burlington area will experience a moderate price increase this year. This area is an exception to the general expectation that prices will cool across Canada. For an in-depth review of the local market, be sure to speak to your REALTOR®

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates. If you have been watching the news lately, you will notice that a couple of the large banks have already increased their mortgage rates. While the increases are small, and likely will have a small impact on affordability, you should ensure that your financing plans consider the possibility that rates may increase over the next few years, as that could affect the affordability of your mortgage payment when your current mortgage comes up for renewal.

Bottom Line
Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Be sure to speak with one of our real estate Professionals. They will advise you on the current market conditions, and help you make an informed decision.