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2021 Could See the Tightest Muskoka Real Estate Market in Years – Toronto Storeys

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“We had a [property on a] small — tiny — spring-fed lake in Muskoka, where the list-price was $599,000, and it sold in two days for $875,000,” says Ross Halloran of Sotheby’s International Realty, reflecting on the first few weeks of the year.

That’s $276,000 over list price for a two bedroom, one bathroom, “teardown” cottage. Welcome to the current Muskoka real estate market in 2021.

Closing the year on-trend with what the last several months presented, the region’s real estate scene saw record-breaking sales in both its residential non-waterfront and waterfront property categories in December.

And looking forward, Halloran — alongside Maryrose Coleman, also of Sotheby’s International — doesn’t anticipate a decline in buyers’ desires to snag space in Muskoka.

READ: Muskoka Real Estate Closes Out Year with Record-Breaking Activity

What the pair does foresee, however, is supply struggling to keep up with demand.

A Market as Tight as Ever

“I never like to let my listing inventory drop below 30,” Halloran says. “We’re now at seven.”

Coleman reinforces the sentiment, stressing the issue their team continues to face is supply. At the present moment (and for months leading up to the present moment, too) demand is holding its own.

“It’s a really tight market,” Coleman says. “There’s very little available. And there are a ton of buyers out there trying to find the right property.”

In fact, Halloran goes so far as to call the current situation “a bit of a quandary.” Typically, considering cottage country as a whole — from Parry Sound to Lake Simcoe, and down to Bancroft, inclusive of Muskoka, the Kawarthas, Haliburton, and the like — he and Coleman will see about 100 new listings in a given week.

Lately, though, Halloran says they’re seeing far fewer hit the market.

“It was 13 listings last week… as we end this week, 22 new listings have come up,” he says. “We’ve got a stockpile of buyers, because we had so many listings we were able to engage and begin discussions with a number of buyers that had begun their journey… we’ve got what we would normally have in property inventory in buyer briefs.”

In other words, the numbers have essentially reversed themselves, leaving this Sotheby’s team spread thin.

As a result, Halloran and Coleman say they’ve needed to develop new policies for navigating working relationships with buyers. With so many people requesting their time, asking for research to be done on prospective properties, they’ve found themselves going through that whole processes only to find out — as they’re preparing to move forward with an offer — they’re actually in a multi-offer situation.

And let’s be clear: this mad dash for cottage country real estate isn’t just for multi-million dollar, move-in ready properties (though, of course, those are always a sought-after treat). Coleman says that there are “a whole bunch of people” who are looking for tear-downs or lots they’ll be able to build on, and typically, these buyers are hoping to snag spaces like this at prices much lower than those of move-in ready lake houses.

“Part of the challenge is, there are a lot of people who are very specific about what they want,” Coleman explains. “They want to be close to Port Carling, but not right in Port Carling. They want to be on Lake Rosseau or Lake [Joseph], they don’t want to be on any other lake. They need privacy, they want a boathouse.”

If these desires sound familiar, don’t fret. But also, don’t start packing up your boxes just yet.

“There are only so many properties like that,” Coleman says, “but there are a great number of people looking for them.”

Halloran says that, as such, they’re working to do whatever they can to obtain listings as spring approaches. “You are a function of how many listings you have,” he stresses.

Owners Holding On Tight

Halloran says that going forward, he expects a sellers’ market for the foreseeable future. In order to be able to participate in the year ahead, attaining more product is necessary.

“Usually in the spring — come the beginning of March — we’re usually seeing an average of 200 new listings a week leading up to the Spring Cottage Life Show. Then there’s a drop-off, after the Spring Cottage Life Show, and then probably by late-April we’re back up to 200. I think by the time the end of May rolls around … I’d see about 300 listings [across all of cottage country].”

But right now, the region is seeing about 22 listings per week, on average, while days-on-market stats are dropping and sale-to-list averages are increasing. In fact, at the moment, the Lakelands region is looking at less than 0.6 months of inventory — a record low.

As a result of all these changes, Halloran says he expects to see both individual agents and teams alike presenting with less than half their normal inventory. His personal goal? Attaining between 20 and 30 listings before spring hits.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do over the winter,” he says.

But, with ongoing queries, listing proposals, market analyses, direct correspondence, and new product continually being added, it’s safe to say the team has already hit the ground running.

Still, it’ll be “a grind” to get ahold of sustainable inventory, because people are hanging onto their properties… or perhaps they’ve just recently acquired them, and they’re still just settling in! Never mind considering leaving. After all, the last year has proven a flexibility in day-to-day navigation that many may not have considered before, which, in many cases — with consideration to working from home and online schooling — means more room for cottage country to fit in. Whether someone’s long been in the region or only just arrived, it’s understandable that Muskoka living is an experience any owner would want to hold onto.

“[What] the people that own are telling us now is: ‘Sure, I can make a huge profit, but how am I going to be able to buy back in?’” Halloran reports. “‘I may as well just sit tight for now and enjoy what I have… or renovate what I have.’”

Selling your property suddenly becomes less appealing when there’s nothing else left to buy.

Renting as an Impermanent (but Still Competitive) Option

Meanwhile, those struggling to find their perfect property in the resale market — or those simply looking for a less permanent cottage country experience — tend to turn to the region’s rental market. But Coleman, who captains Muskoka District Rentals alongside her Sotheby’s role, says the sector is facing similar supply-and-demand struggles.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t renting who traditionally have rented, when they’ve gone on European vacations [and the like],” she explains. “They might have done the summer — they would rent their cottage for the two, three, four weeks they were going to be away. And that’s not happening now.”

While Coleman says there have been some recent buyers who are open to renting, there have also been properties that used to be on the rental market that have now been sold. In essence, the newly-purchased properties will merely replace those prior rentals, instead of adding to them.

There are also places that may typically be in the rental sphere, but because their owners are currently living or working there, those spots aren’t available these days. What’s more, an air of uncertainty hangs over the summer, leaving cottage-owners unsure of how they’re going to navigate 2021’s warm months. So many unknowns linger, including whether summer camps will be closed or if international travel will be permitted.

Many people who felt the pinch of these scenarios last summer, and who didn’t have a rental option, learned from the experience and booked early. In August and September of 2020, eager summer-lovers reserved their rentals to ensure they’d have something to look forward to when the warmth rolled back around.

Now, Coleman says, others are scrambling, trying to find their own place to stay.

And sure, someone really hankering for a summertime escape could hop on any given rental site to book, but what Muskoka District Rentals offers is different.

“Part of the reason people like to work with a company like ours,” Coleman says, “is they know they’ll get a higher quality of cottage, and they’re going to have available to service them, if anything goes wrong.”

Also, there’s a benefit to the relationships that are built through use of a reliable, human-centred service such as MDR. For example, if someone isn’t able to find a rental option online, a phone call with a listing agent may result in them learning that in just a couple days, the perfect property will be going live.

Ultimately, it’s looking like Muskoka’s wild ride isn’t slowing down anytime soon, regardless of whether the topic of focus is resale or rental. And, if the region’s market has reinforced any universal truth over the last several months, it’s that the more people can’t have a thing, the more they seem to want it.

But another universal truth is this: anything worth having is worth fighting for.

If you’re gunning for a place with a Lake Jo view, or one that’s perfectly poised just minutes from Port Carling, we suggest the latter mantra as the one to keep in mind.

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Many positive signs in local real estate market, says Weyburn realtor – Weyburn Review

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A longtime Weyburn realtor, Winston Bailey, said there are many positive aspects to the real estate market in the city and area right now, in a presentation he gave to the Weyburn Rotary Club on Thursday via Zoom.

He noted he’s been in business in the city for 46 years, since he began with a construction company in 1976, and in real estate for the last 16 years, “and I have no intentions of quitting just yet.”

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Sharing statistics about how real estate is doing in this area, Bailey noted that provincially the real estate market has had one of its strongest ever starts to a year, according to the Saskatchewan Real Estate Association, with housing values up by one per cent after going down for the previous four or five years.

One factor is the low interest rates, said Bailey, pointing out that on a recent home sale the buyers were able to get 1.79 per cent on a 20-year mortgage with a five-year term.

Comparatively, when he built a home in 1983, the interest rate went down from 14 per cent to 11.5 per cent, “and I said yep, we can afford this — so that’s quite a difference.”

He added that in the last few months, he hasn’t seen any interest rates higher than 2.25 per cent, which can make a large difference in mortgage payments.

Currently the number of houses and other properties on the market has dropped by about 30 per cent, which has the positive effect of quick sales for a seller — unless it’s a condominium unit, which are “very sluggish” right now with 41 condos on the market in Weyburn right now.

Overall, there are about 135 properties on the market in Weyburn right now, including the condos, where normally the city has over 200 properties for sale. Bailey noted that “well over 200” properties sold in 2020, and “that’s pretty impressive. We haven’t seen that for a long time.”

There are few housing starts right now due to the high cost of building materials, said Bailey. He noted his son, Chad, recently built a fishing shack, and a sheet of plywood cost about $60, up from the past average price of around $22-23 a sheet.

The strongest real estate markets right now are in the larger cities, like Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, while in the smaller cities, like Weyburn, Estevan, North Battleford and Kindersley, most of them have a strong presence of the oil industry.

“When the boom was on, it was our cities that grew the most. We’re suffering a little bit right now, but by the same token, we’re not in trouble. I don’t think that’s too negative a thing, I’m still very optimistic,” said Bailey.

Farmland values have been very strong in the Weyburn region, particularly good quality farm land from Yellow Grass, Lang and Colfax areas up to Regina, said Bailey.

He pointed to two recent land sales just north of Yellow Grass, with six quarters selling for $3,500 an acre in one sale, and in a smaller parcel, the land sold for $4,000 an acre, “so $600,000 for a quarter is what you’re seeing on some farmland.”

Land in the Weyburn area has sold for around $250,000 a quarter, he added, saying as a general rule, farmland will sell for 1.2 to 1.3 times its assessment, and high-quality farmland will sell for 1.5 to 1.6 times its assessed value.

“Even pasture land will sell for $150-175,000 a quarter,” he added.

For commercial properties, Bailey said some oil-related properties have had their tenants move on, but many of them have tenants renting so very few of those are sitting empty.

Addressing how COVID-19 has impacted the real estate business, Bailey said they are making it work and are abiding by the provincial regulations around how businesses are to operate.

“When I go to show a house, I have a mask on and keep a physical distance, and use hand sanitizer. You just comply by the rules,” he said. “People in general have been very open to allow us in. Some ask us to wear gloves, and that’s fine, that’s not a problem. In all, it’s a different way of doing business, but we just comply with the provincial standards, rules and regulations, and we can live with that.”

Weyburn has a lot going for it, such as being declared one of the best communities to live in on the prairies and in Canada.

“I’m a believer in our city, and in what we have going for us. It continues to attract people of all walks of life,” said Bailey, pointing out Weyburn has a new school and a new recreation and culture centre under construction, and a new hospital is on the way.

“I’ve had the privilege of taking a couple of tours (of the new facilities) and it’s absolutely amazing, it’s unbelievable. We should be very, very proud to have that facility here,” he said, adding the new hospital will also be a big boost for the city.

Combined with having Southeast College here, Weyburn has a lot to offer, he said. “Education and health care always assist in attracting people to the city.”

The ranking of Weyburn as one of Canada’s top communities is based on many factors, he added, including affordability, crime rate, schools, recreation and sporting facilities, and the business community, not to mention Weyburn’s friendliness, which is mentioned to him all the time by visitors from other communities.

Asked if Weyburn’s Golf Club is a selling feature for potential buyers, Bailey said it absolutely is a major recreational asset, along with the other sporting and recreation facilities that are here.

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Pattie Lovett-Reid: Bank of Canada governor sees signs of 'excess exuberance' in real estate market – CTV News

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HUNTSVILLE, ONT. —
Over the past year, one thing has become abundantly clear as we work from home. We now know with crystal clear clarity what our homespace should look like. If it didn’t meet your new expectations, you likely have been on the move.

The result? Home prices are on the rise, and this has caught the attention of the Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem. 

Throughout the pandemic, one of the pillars of the economy has been the real estate market. Rising demand, constrained supply and rock-bottom rates are all conspiring to lead us to believe home prices have only one way to go: higher. 

Now to be fair, home prices have been on the rise, but we still have a long way to go before we get to the heated market of five years ago. But that doesn’t mean the Bank of Canada isn’t watching this closely. Macklem has stated he is seeing early signs of what he called “excess exuberance,” with people expecting the recent increases in prices to go on indefinitely. 

I have learned that nothing goes on indefinitely when one of the variables changes. In this case, it could be mortgage rates.

Canadians might have grown accustomed to fixed rates continuously declining after the five-year fixed rate in Canada reached a record low this past summer of 1.39 per cent.

This is about to change for the first time since the pandemic began.

According to RateHub.ca, fixed rates are on the rise in response to higher-than-expected inflation in January. And if this inflation continues to go higher and optimism around the vaccine rollout continues, Canadians should expect to see rates continue to move higher. By the end of the week, the expectation is for the best rate to be 1.54 per cent.

Call to action: if you are in a variable rate mortgage, you might want to consider locking in. If you are first time homebuyer, a mortgage pre-approval today will hold rates for 90-120 days. 

According to the RateHub.ca mortgage calculator, a homeowner with a 10 per cent downpayment on a $500,000 home with a five-year fixed rate of 1.39 per cent and a 25-year amortization would see their payments increase per month by $32.00, or $384.00 per year, if rates increase to 1.54 per cent.

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B.C. real estate: Bidding wars again hitting high-end housing market – Vancouver Sun

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One recent sale went more than $1.6 million over the asking price, while another went $700,000 higher.

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When the COVID-19 real estate boom started, multiple offers and over-asking sale prices were mostly happening for detached homes in the $1.5 million to $2 million range in parts of East Vancouver and North Vancouver, and lower-prices houses in the Fraser Valley.

Now, there are signs of this moving into more expensive housing. In particular, there were two eye-popping sales in mid-February, one that went for over $700,000 the asking price, and the other for more than $1.6 million higher than the asking price.

In a fast-escalating market with heated demand and multiple offers, it can be challenging for sellers and real estate agents to determine an asking price by relying on a property’s assessment or recent sales of a similar property. This can lead to sale prices that are hundreds of thousands of dollars over the asking price.

For example, at the beginning of the real estate boom between 2014 to 2018, a home in Shaughnessy sold for $2 million over the asking price of $5.99 million in March 2015. Later, in June 2015, there was a sale of a home in West Vancouver that caught attention for selling for $1.1 million over the asking price of $2.98 million. These were one-off sales, but they help set a higher comparable price or margin for next sales.

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Real estate agents say “cheap money” or very low interest rates are spurring sales and prices. Existing homeowners are refinancing at low rates and taking that cash to make another property investment. First time buyers or those with less home equity also benefit from low interest rates, but they are at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for sales that involve multiple and over asking price offers because they have to bid in smaller increments and take fewer risks such as forgoing a house inspection before the sale closes.

Vancouver real estate agent Muzda Stenner described the recent scene at a West Vancouver detached home on Queens Avenue that was on sale for $2.877 million.

“It was almost like a garage sale (with) cars lined up on the street,” said Stenner. “Even with COVID, and people wearing masks, it was a full house, and people were trying to get in.”

The home is assessed at $2.69 million. She helped her client bid “$3 million, with subjects” to buy the home. “And it was like, ‘no, no, no.’ I had one of the lowest bids.”

With some 19 other offers, the home went under contract in mid-February to be sold for $3.6 million or $723,000 over the asking price.

“It had great potential, but it was a very small house,” said Stenner of the 3,000-square-foot, two-storey home on a 12,000-square foot lot with ocean views that was built in 1957.

On the West side, a 4,000-square-foot, five bedroom, rancher-style home on West 41st Avenue just west of Granville Street went under contract in mid-February to be sold for $5.66 million.

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The property, which is assessed at $3.95 million got one offer at the asking price of $3.98 million, but three other offers that were all above that, according to the listing agent, Sarina Han. The sale price was $1.68 million over the asking price.

Han said the property has RS-3 zoning, which allows for a single-family home in keeping with the design and density of the surrounding area, even though it is on busy 41st Street near a major intersection at Granville Street.

The condo market, which has been described as more balanced in pricing because there is more supply of listings and because more buyers were seeking larger homes with outdoor space to cope with the pandemic, is also seeing some of this frenzied activity, according to some real estate agents.

Ian Watt said he was juggling two multiple offer situations for potential condo buyers one recent evening. One condo they were interested in got five offers and the other had 14 of them. It was a one-bedroom, 965-square-foot condo in Kits that was asking $899,999, but sold for $1.107 million or $207,001 over asking price.

“I lost out with my buyers because someone totally overpaid,” said Watt.

jlee-young@postmedia.com

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