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Burlington and Hamilton mountain hottest for real estate in the region in 2019 – Global News

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Last year was a seller’s market in the Hamilton and Burlington area.

That’s according to the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB), which reports 12,866 home sales in 2019 — up 10.1 per cent over 2018, despite new residential listings being slightly down compared to that year.

The average cost of a home was $587,745, and while that’s only a 4.9 per cent increase compared to the previous year, it’s a whopping 95.3 per cent higher than the average price a decade ago.


READ MORE:
Housing market cools in Hamilton, Burlington in December 2019: realtors association

“The RAHB residential market has balanced out from the high activity experienced in 2016 and 2017,” said RAHB CEO Carol Ann Burrell in a release. “However, increases in average price and number of sales, paired with a decrease in new listings, indicates that 2019 favoured sellers more than in 2018.”

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The most homes in Hamilton were sold on the mountain last year — with 2,043 sales in that area — although Stoney Creek and Ancaster saw the highest jump in sales over 2018 at 16.6 per cent.

Ancaster also had the highest average home price at $772,811.

Burlington saw the most activity overall, with 3,086 sales and an average price of $755,639.


READ MORE:
Hamilton city councillors pitch vacant home tax in hopes of freeing up supply

It was good news for those selling single-family homes, as sales of those types of properties increase across the entire region — although the highest increase happened in Hamilton.

“The clear trend for 2018 was that apartment-style and townhomes outperformed detached properties,” said RAHB President Kathy Della-Nebia in a release. “This year we see that these types of properties are still performing well; however, buyers choosing detached homes are trending upward yet again.”

Overall, the total volume of sales across the region was $7,897,509,003 — up nearly $1 billion from 2018.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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REAL ESTATE: The affordability crisis within the BC land market – Agassiz-Harrison Observer

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The ugly truth is that the continual rising benchmarks in private property prices are harming the balance of the real estate market across the province. The high prices are not prized by a very large segment of B.C.’s citizens, including young families, singles and seniors. Yes, higher prices are a big help to existing homeowners with equity in their landholdings whose return will see them have ample monies to relocate for lifestyle and other opportunities. It is nice to see average people get ahead, and actually see some return on investment for their hard earned dollars spent paying down years of their mortgages.

But the flip side to our ever-increasing high market prices is the exclusion of a whole segment that used to be a part of the market equation – the new buyer. Single mothers and fathers, and individual title holders that seek mortgages are having to make cutting sacrifices to achieve home ownership. No longer can you count on that if you must sell your home and relocate that you can even afford to get back into the market in the location you want or need to live in.

The property ownership truth these citizens are facing in 2020 is summed up by the word: unaffordable.

Unaffordable housing in this province has reached critical in many regions and is one of the biggest market issues facing B.C. We have outgrown our available private land base and the pressure building behind these growing pains has also caused an affordability crisis in rental housing markets province-wide. The provincial & federal government implemented shortsighted policies that further exacerbated the issue. The foreign buyers speculation tax was implemented with loophole jumping geographical boundaries that put pressure on unprotected sensitive areas of agricultural land that was carelessly excluded in their planning.

The increasing demand for land coupled with low interest rates, 25-year amortization mortgages coupled with household debt load, and the low market inventory is actually further diminishing the capacity for the market to correct by reducing the amount of new buyers and buyers who need to move or upgrade. New buyers are desperately needed to keep the market balanced and the economy stable; they historically bought into a low-priced starter home to enter the market.

Starter home prices really don’t exist anymore. Everything we consume and use has also risen in price over the last several years, but wages have not. The real estate market is fundamentally built and balances itself on the supply and demand. Our domestic demand combined with foreign demand all competing in an ever-diminishing pool of available listings has but one predictable outcome – that prices will continue to rise!

In my 20’s, there was never a doubt in my mind that I would graduate post-secondary and then go on to a job that would allow me to own my own home, where I would marry and raise my family. I had envisioned that my children would be able to do the same. The reality is far from that as we prepare to turn the page into March 2020. The least affordable markets in Canada are in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. An article released in October 2019 by New Geography journalist Wendell Cox stated that statistics show young families are faced with saving for over 40 years to come up with a down payment to purchase condo, semi-detached and single family homes, providing they can find a mortgage provider that will qualify them through the B20 Stress Testing. That paints a very hopeless and frustrating picture for the next generation.

Where will our young families have to go to be able to afford a home where they have good-paying jobs and access to schools? Will the next generation of children never experience the freedom and healthy lifestyle a private home with a safe yard affords? And we wonder, why socialism as an ideology is gaining interest amongst millennials and young adults? The equality gap has not just widened – it is now a gaping canyon that needs some immediate attention to bridge.

In my opinion, the number-one option would be to release one- to two-per cent of specifically chosen crown land holdings into the private market, to first and foremost balance the inventory available. This would immediately have an effect on the rising costs due to low inventory counts. A large portion of this released crown land should be legislated for use by only by domestic low income, multi-family and semi-detached dwelling projects. Release the land, create jobs to bolster the economy build the affordability back into the housing market across the province. Of BC’s total land base, only 5% is private saleable land, over 90 per cent of the provinces crown owned landholdings are not in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) or have Indigenous Land Claims. The land that is set aside in the ALR could then be saved from residential and commercial construction pressure and put to its best use which is growing our food supply. Removing too much of the provinces best agricultural land in the upper Fraser Valley could impact future ability for food production for the growing population.

This is a viable solution to the issue that doesn’t include band-aids that ultimately create more tax revenue for the government than they do actual good for the citizens they represent.

In summation, the most immediate federal, provincial and municipal cooperation in process is needed to take action and correct the real issues of what is pricing our own young out of living in this province. What are we ultimately building? A healthy prosperous society or a healthy bank account for the already wealthy banks and corporations?

Freddy Marks, together with his daughter Linda Marks, runs Agassiz’s 3A Group Sutton Showcase Realty. He has been a Realtor in Canada and Germany for more than 30 years, and currently lives in Harrison Hot Springs.

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How to handle the explosive–and difficult–Mississauga real estate market – insauga.com

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Three years ago, worried first-time homebuyers wondered—for good reason—if they would ever be able to own a home (even a very small one) in the city they grew up in. 

Their fears were legitimate. A lack of housing inventory prompted desperate buyers, some with much deeper pockets than others, to sometimes throw an additional $100,000 (or more) at a seller in order to lock down an already egregiously costly fixer-upper. Buyers were purchasing homes without any conditions (who needs a home inspection?) in order to beat out 10 to 15 other bidders, and realtors were shocked to see dozens—sometimes hundreds—of people converge upon an open house. 

The former Liberal provincial government stepped in with the Fair Housing Plan and pledged to levy a special 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers and speculators in at attempt to thwart investors from purchasing properties and letting them sit empty for years while increasing in value. The federal government also imposed a more rigorous stress test (that it’s now modifying) that required prospective borrowers to qualify at higher than normal rates. 

The legislation worked and buyers backed off, but the cooling was only temporary and outrageous bidding wars and sky-high prices are once again becoming the norm. 

“I had a client in January 2020 and we made an offer on a condo that sold for $472,000 and had five offers,” says Nik Oberoi, a sales representative with Cloud Realty. 

“One property in Mississauga recently had 27 offers. We’re getting five to 10 offers minimum, again.

Competition drives prices—which are already high—higher. Recently, the Toronto Region Real Estate Board (TRREB) released its monthly housing data and revealed that the average house price (all home types combined) in Mississauga hit $782,415 in January 2020.

Evidence suggests the market is heating up because the previous legislation failed to rectify the most significant issue: A lack of available housing.

“A big reason is there are a lot of inventory issues, [even in the condo market]. There aren’t a lot of good units that have been well-kept. We have a lack of inventory and we have more buyers than normal. We have a lot of new immigrants in Mississauga and the GTA and interest rates are low.”

Oberoi says more first-time homebuyers are entering the market because of the federal government’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, which allows buyers to apply for a shared-equity mortgage with the government of Canada. It offers 5 per cent or 10 per cent for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a newly constructed home, 5 per cent for a buyer’s purchase of a resale (existing) home, or 5 per cent for a buyer’s purchase of a new or resale mobile/manufactured home. 

“There are too many buyers right now and it’s a tough time if you’re a buyer,” Oberoi says. 

Oberoi says today’s real estate climate is becoming a repeat of winter 2017. 

“This is happening to everyone. It’s not just happening in Mississauga or the Square One area. It’s happening in Toronto, Barrie, Durham, Oakville, and Burlington. The entry-level price point for one and two-bedroom condos and towns and semis is more attainable for first-time buyers, so competition for these homes is huge. We’re not seeing this with detached houses as much because those have much higher price points.” 

Oberoi says that desperate buyers will purchase condos without looking at the status certificate, which is risky because the certificate can reveal pertinent information on the building’s financial health and whether or not property management is locked in any legal disputes.

But while the market is a challenging one for buyers to navigate, Oberoi says there are steps people can take to help ensure they find what they’re looking for. 

“First thing, get your financing in order. Do not shop unless you have a pre-approval from a reputable lender or bank. If you give a financing condition, the [seller] could pass you over. Do not actively shop without talking to a bank. Think about how confident can you make the seller,” he says.  

“Second, if you want a home inspection, do it before the offer presentation date. It can hold up the offer otherwise. The seller will go with the offer that doesn’t have any hiccups to deal with afterwards.” 

Oberoi also recommends reviewing the status certificate for a condo before moving to buy. 

“If you want to buy a condo, review ahead of time to waive that condition. It’ll make the seller feel more confident. Don’t go into a condo without looking at the certificate. If you love the place and don’t want to lose it, look to see if other properties are selling in that building. If something is wrong, you’ll see a small number of properties being sold.”

Oberoi also says to be prepared to bid over-asking—but only within reason. 

“You have to look at how many offers there are. If there are eight offers, you know it’ll go for more. Every offer adds about $5,000 to the price. So you might have to go $30,000 to $40,000 over asking,” he says.  

“If you want it, you have to be willing to slightly overpay. You save in the long run, because the next seller will want more than what their neighbour sold their unit for, so you mitigate expenses on the next unit that will cost more money. At the same time, know when to stop yourself. If you keep overpaying wildly, you start the bubble. That’s what happens when someone pays a ridiculous price just to win.” 

As for how much is too much to overpay, Oberoi says it depends on what your plan is. 

“If you’re buying for yourself and plan to live in the home for a long time, it’s okay to spend an extra $10,000 or $15,000 [because you will recoup your investment]. If you’re an investor, it’s not a good time to buy because you will be overpaying,” he says.

“Check your emotions and try to be logical about your purchase. People do have more money to spend because of the first-time homebuyer’s incentive. There are more buyers than inventory. It’s not about what the house is worth, it’s what you’re willing to pay.” 

As for what can be done to cool the market and make it easier for buyers to navigate, Oberoi says he’d like to see real estate better regulated. 

“I’d like to see real estate more regulated. Realtors underprice to start bidding wars and we have a responsibility to keep prices in check, especially when we have immigration growth and job growth in the area.”

He also says buyers should work a realtor who knows the market area well. 

“Work with the right realtor. An inexperienced realtor might encourage you to spend more than you need to. Find someone who knows your area, too—don’t use a Scarborough agent to buy a house in Mississauga.”

He also says that it’s important to ask yourself if buying a home is the right choice for you. 

“I believe in homeownership. It’s good that the government is trying to help people [buy homes] and I want more products in place to help people get into the market. It’s another vessel for you to create more freedom and wealth. But I also want people to be able to afford the houses they are living in instead of using credit lines and borrowing from family,” he says.

“We need more education. There are other opportunities for financial freedom, maybe real estate is not right for you right now.”

Despite how heated the market is, Oberoi still believes Mississauga is a good investment for prospective homeowners. 

“There’s a lot of things happening and the city is not stopping. It is a good time to get into the market, but be careful if you’re worried about this chaos. You can buy pre-construction development. We need to keep a close eye on the market and educate people on how to get in but not be stupid. We can’t have 2017 again, that makes more room for a collapse,” he says.  

“If you have a long-term goal in your home, you will not lose money. People who will be affected by shifts and changes will be those who put everything into the house and struggle to pay for other things. Have a long-term goal—don’t buy now if you want to sell next year. This is still a safe market.”

While Oberoi says it’s hard to say whether or not different levels of government will try to cool the market again, he does say that development—which will ultimately increase inventory—is not slowing down. 

“There’s been a lot of real estate buzz since 2016 and that will continue. We’re seeing condo booms in Barrie and Oshawa. The boom has contributed to Hamilton’s growth, now it’s a little less affordable. People are moving as far west as Brantford.”

The best advice, however, is not setting yourself up for disappointment by shopping before you know what you can afford—and accepting that some homes will simply not work for you and your budget.  

“Make sure you can afford the house. If a bank won’t give you a pre-approval, you cannot afford it.”

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Expect relaxed mortgage rules to heat up Toronto real estate – NOW Magazine

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Canada is easing up on its mortgage lending rules to give buyers a bit more purchasing power, but the changes will likely jack up home price in the city, Toronto realtors say.

“It’s going to blow up the market,” says Meray Mansour, a Toronto-based realtor with Re/Max Hallmark Realty.

On February 17, finance minister Bill Morneau announced changes to the way the so-called “stress test” is calculated.

Since January 2018, potential home buyers making a down payment of less than 20 per cent have been required to purchase government-backed mortgage insurance. Qualifying for that insurance without paying premiums meant succeeding in a stress test that calculates whether borrowers could afford their mortgage at either the five-year average posted rate or two per cent more than their actual mortgage rate – whichever is higher.

“For many middle-class Canadians, their home is the most important investment they will make in their lifetime,” Morneau said in a statement. “Our government has a responsibility to ensure that investment is protected and to support a stable housing market. The government will continue to monitor the housing market and make changes as appropriate. Reviewing the stress test ensures it is responsive to market conditions.”

The new stress test, which takes effect April 6, will calculate whether borrowers can afford the weekly median five-year fixed insured mortgage rate (a more up-to-date measure) plus two per cent.

Realtors predict the relaxed stress test combined with lower interest rates, hot demand for Toronto real estate and low inventory will bring the market back to the highs we saw in 2017.

“This is not a significant change,” says Odeen Eccleston, a broker with Right At Home Realty and expert on HGTV’s Hot Market.

“There certainly is room for a slight bump,” adds Stephen Parks, a mortgage broker with RedPath Financial, who argues that there’s more of a perceived gain than actual gain to the new stress test rules. “If you talk about someone who has a $100,000 gross income, they’re going to see a three per cent gain in what they qualify for. “

Today, a borrower would be stress tested at the posted rate, which is 5.19 per cent. But borrowers are acquiring mortgages at around 2.89 per cent.  If you use that rate as the median with the new stress test rules, borrowers would only need to afford a rate of 4.89 per cent. The difference is only 0.3 per cent, making for a rather slight improvement on purchasing power. In borrowing terms, it means a home buyer could go from getting a $515,000 mortgage to $530,000.

The changes also only apply to insured mortgages for homes purchased at under $1 million. Homes over $1 million are still subject to the old stress test, but Parks suspects the new rules will be adopted for those larger purchases in time for spring. Not that the change will make a huge difference for million-dollar home sales, either.

“If you’re buying a $2 million property, does $60,000 actually make a huge difference?” Mansour asks. “Maybe not. Really what it’s going to do is encourage buyers who are on the fence. If they can almost afford something but are not quite there, it’s going to give them that push.”

But even if the practical effect is a bit subdued, Mansour argues that public perception will fuel the market and drive prices up to the way they were pre-stress test.

“If people can afford more they will spend more,” says Parks. “That’s the actual gain. If somebody previously could afford, $515,000, they’re going to spend up to that limit. Well now they’re going to spend up to $530,000. But does that mean that they’re buying anything different? Likely not. They’ll probably just buy the same thing.

“The price will just go up by a bit because everyone else who is bidding on it can afford more now too,” he continues.

Mansour and Eccleston recall 2017 when the stress test and a foreign buyers tax were being discussed as ways to cool the hot market. Potential buyers rushed to get in before the new rules were implemented. When the stress test was implemented, Toronto house prices levelled out while sales in the 905 plummeted.

“However, the condo market exploded because of the stress test,” says Mansour. “All of a sudden condo prices go through the roof. In urban neighbourhoods, condo prices went up at the rate that homes used to.

“Now people are saying, ‘Oh shit, condo prices are almost the same as houses for the same square footage but we have to pay maintenance fees.’ So they’re going back to buying houses, increasing the demand for houses again.”

Mansour expects that the renewed appetite for houses in concert with the new stress test, competitive mortgage rates crawling down towards 2.6 per cent and low supply will bring two terrifying words back into the Toronto market: bidding wars.

“A lot of this is psychological,” says Eccleston. “This gives people confidence. They’re like, ‘Oh my god, now’s the time, I don’t want to miss out.”

“This spring is going to be nuts,” Mansour adds. “I can feel the buyers getting ready.”

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