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.

What are you doing New Years?…

clipart copyWell, has 2013 been all you hoped it would be?

The end of the year seems to be when we all look back on the past 12 months and decide if we think the year was a success, and at the same time start thinking about what we think next year should bring.

This seems to me to be a long spread of time over which to judge your success. When we look at a year in total, we tend to forget the little successes we experienced along the way, or appreciate the changes we may have made in our lives to improve ourselves, or perhaps even improve how someone else lives their life.

When we look at our activities, I think we should look short term first. What are you going to do in the next 10 days to improve your life or that of someone around you. Also, what have you done in the past 10 days to help ensure that? I bet we can all come up with a 10 day plan, and likely even be able to measure our success.

Once you master a 10 day plan, start looking at 30 days and gradually grow your plan as you grow your skills of observation and measuring your activities. I have seen too many people decide by March that their year is shot, because they cannot see how they can achieve their 12 month plan, based on the first 3 months of the year. That same person will have had many successes in those same 3 months that they overlooked because it was not part of their grand one year plan. Think how much more enjoyable your year might be if you celebrated your successes frequently. Do you think you might be a more positive person, who can visualize a year of success?

Think of it like someone who wants to run a marathon. If they get winded the first time out running around the block, does that mean they will never be able to run the marathon? I don’t think so… If that same person had been a couch potato before heading out to run around the block, I hope they were able to celebrate that small achievement, which they otherwise would never have tried.

I challenge you to look at 2014 as a series of 10 or 30 days stretches. Make yourself some short term goals, and push yourself to do it, and celebrate when you are successful!

This next 10 days could be a great time to challenge yourself to do any number of things; eat less cookies, don’t stress the preparation for the holiday dinners, don’t argue with that relative that pushes all your buttons, visit family or friends that you might otherwise not have made time for, spend time with friends and family. Pick your own challenge, then try it.

These may seem like simple things to do, but how many of us are already stressed that we have not got the shopping done, don’t have the house decorated, don’t know when we are going to visit uncle charlie (pick your own relative)…

Aim for 10 days on target for your goal, and see what happens. You can likely manage the short term stuff… heck, it’s only 10 days. And I guarantee you will feel better about yourself and your ability to accomplish things when you see what you have mastered in 10 short days.

Happy Holidays everyone! Talk to you in 2014!

Goals? Or is it a Bucket List?

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Have you checked anything off your bucket list? Do you even have a bucket list?

As managers, Gary and I always encourage people to set goals, whether they be personal, business, financial or others, but I find as individuals, we rarely talk about our bucket lists. You have all heard of the movie, but have you taken the time to decide what you really want to do before it’s too late? I’m not suggesting the Grim Reaper is waiting, but maybe your list would have things on it that you aren’t going to want to, or be able to do, when you retire.

Maybe it’s travel, maybe you want to climb Mount Everest, maybe it’s a personal accomplishment, only you can decide, but we should all have the list, and we should take the time to do these things! Sometimes the items on this list are the “white hot WHY” of our everyday business. It’s easy to stay on track when you have a driving reason to do so. This is often the difference between having a job, and having a profession.

The list I started years ago, when I first started working, included seeing all the provinces, and also a list of cities I wanted to visit. New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York City, San Francisco, and more. (only one city left, and not for long!). My list has evolved over time to include different activities, as opposed to destinations. Planning to complete these items has at times provided a push to do things I maybe wasn’t all that enthusiastic about, but by completing them, I got where I wanted to go.

I challenge you all to consider what you have outstanding on your list. (if you haven’t started a list, please start one now!). Now is the time to do what you really want to do, and focus on what you need to do to make it a reality. You won’t be disappointed!

Don’t put off these “white hot whys”. Make them a reality, and then imagine another!

Take a minute and share what’s on your list. Maybe you will inspire someone else to add something from your list to theirs.