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'Unprecedented' demand driving real estate sales and prices in Canmore – CBC.ca
It was just minutes after a new listing for a $1.15-million home in Canmore, Alta., went online when real estate agent Jill Law’s phone started buzzing.
Three days and 31 showings later, she had received 11 offers for the property, including one from a family who wrote a personal letter to the seller and included a family photo.
It appears to be the winning “bid” in a soaring real estate market that is seeing more multiple offers and properties selling above the asking price.
Real estate professionals, market watchers and long-time residents say there’s a combination of factors at play, including the pandemic and low interest rates. But the sales surge and rising prices are raising concerns in the community — which still considers itself a place where families can raise their children rather than an exclusive playground for the privileged.
The average house price in Canmore is closing in on $1.1 million, according to the Alberta Real Estate Association’s benchmark price.
“Sales are up, the inventory is down,” said Dan Sparks, one of Canmore’s busiest real estate agents, who has been selling homes in the Bow Valley for 20 years.
But there are fewer homes to sell. There are approximately 100 homes on the market right now. When you factor in the number of sales, it works out to a one-month supply, down sharply from the usual five- to six-month supply at this time of year.
What does all of that mean? To put it mildly, it’s a sellers’ market.
“We’ve had exceptional sales throughout the Canmore area, but the listings and the supply haven’t kept pace,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, the chief economist with the Alberta Real Estate Association.
“And that’s what’s causing some of the price gains that we’re seeing in that market.”
And some of those price gains have been astronomical.
Kelly MacMillan with ReMax Alpine Realty says she just sold a hotel condominium unit for $50,000 above the asking price.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo — which has the potential to generate nightly hotel revenue — was listed for $600,000. The sellers purchased the property four years ago for $350,000.
“There was an opportunity to cash out of the marketplace,” said MacMillan.
“They’re very happy,” she said of her clients.
Pandemic pushes demand
Sparks calls it COVID fatigue. Although he has been taking calls from people in Toronto and Montreal — and even a family in Germany — a good portion of buyers are people from Calgary and Edmonton who have been stuck at home for over a year and are looking for a change of scenery, he says.
“They’ve been working from home for a while, and they can continue to do so. And if they can do that, then they’ll do it where they want to be,” he said.
“Canmore, especially recreational markets, where people are discovering that they don’t have to be where they work. They have that work-from-home flexibility.”
As the inventory dwindles, so do the opportuniites to find a traditional, single family, detached home. Sparks says last week there were just two homes listed for under $1 million — and only five were on the market for under $1.5 million.
Sparks spent several years on the board of directors of Canmore Community Housing, a town-owned corporation tasked with creating affordable housing options for people and families.
A 10-unit townhouse project is under construction and is expected to open in early 2022.
Already there are 150 people on the waiting list to either buy or rent a property.
“It’s basically just fingers in the dam,” said Sparks.
“Housing affordability in Canmore is always going to be a problem. We’re just going to constantly be working on that problem.”
The average condominium price in Canmore is now $500,000.
New development, more affordable housing?
Canmore town council recently approved a series of amendments to the latest development plan for the Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) on the east side of the community.
One of the changes is a proposed requirement that the developer include 20 per cent affordable or subsidized housing — double the amount proposed by TSMV. A spokesperson for the developer says the company is still assessing the impact of the amendments and is withholding comment until the plan goes back to council on May 11.
The mayor says that while it will take years for those units to become available, council had to act now.
John Borrowman says young families have been leaving the community for years because they can’t afford to stay.
“We’ve been bleeding the next generation like that for years,” he said.
“If we don’t do something to ensure affordable housing is a big part of our future, the town will become … it will only be a place for the very wealthy.”
New housing options, slow uptake
The town recently said it would consider secondary suites to be built or legalized in existing neighbourhoods. Financial incentives are being offered to homeowners to add what it calls “accessory dwelling units.”
So far, only three homeowners have applied for the $20,000 grants.
Dale Hildebrand is a local real estate agent and builder. He recently sold two duplexes that were listed for $1.2 million and $1.4 million. One of them includes a separate, one-bedroom suite.
Hildebrand’s next project is in the early stages, but he’s hoping to redevelop several residential lots near downtown into 16 to 18 townhouses. Several will be purpose-built for employers to purchase for their employees.
“They can … rent them out to their employees at a subsidized rate,” said Hildebrand.
But as demand remains strong and prices climb, the market may be too hot for employers to consider employee housing.
It’s a problem for the community, which has had trouble attracting employees.
“It’s harder for young people to find affordable accommodation,” said Michel Dufresne, the director of the Job Resource Centre for Banff and Canmore.
“It also makes it harder for small businesses to provide that housing for their employees. It’s become a bigger play when you have to buy a house for a million dollars to house five people,” he said.
“It’s very costly.”
Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.
Prices for Cottage Properties in Canadian Real Estate Market Soar – RE/MAX News
From luxury properties to townhomes, the Canadian real estate market has witnessed monumental growth over the last year. Across the country, sales activity and home valuations have been climbing at levels never seen before, buoyed by strong demand, low inventory and historically low interest rates. These are the dominant trends, whether you’re house-hunting in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia or Halifax, Nova Scotia.
But one of the most riveting developments in the Canadian real estate market since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic has been the substantial price increases for cottage properties. While cottage country markets across the country have typically witnessed high demand during the summer months, evolving consumer trends are pointing to sustained interest throughout the year in rural communities.
Since more people are working from home, professionals are setting their sights on lakefront cottages, chalets in the mountains or cabins in the woods, away from the hustle and bustle of major urban centres. But as homeowners cash in on their big-city properties, they are using their high equity to outbid buyers (including local residents and their fellow out-of-town buyers) and driving up cottage prices in the process. Many forecasts suggest that this impressive growth will continue through 2021 and potentially heading into 2022.
Has the Canadian real estate market been permanently altered as more households shy away from hyper-dense metropolitan areas to embrace the charm of quiet small-town life? The answer might be reflected in the numbers across multiple recreational housing markets from coast to coast.
Prices for Cottage Properties in Canadian Real Estate Market Soar
If you are currently trying rent a cottage in rural Ontario, you may be out of luck as the vast majority are fully booked for the rest of 2021. Similarly, if you’re keen to buy a cottage in Atlantic Canada, be prepared to put up a fight thanks to swelling levels of demand as a result of out-of-province buyers and cheap borrowing costs.
Here are some of the figures of what homebuyers can expect to face as they seek shelter in Canada’s recreational property markets:
Kawartha Lakes, Ontario (March 2021 / year-over-year)
- Residential non-waterfront sales: +87.7%
- Residential waterfront sales: +223.1%
- Median price for residential non-waterfront properties: +44.7% to $606,000
- Median price for residential waterfront properties: +64.5% to $872,000
Georgian Bay, Ontario (March 2021 / yoy)
- Residential sales: +106.1%
- Benchmark price for single-family homes: +43.6% to $617,900
Sunshine Coast, British Columbia (December 2020 / yoy)
- Residential sales: +82%
- Median price of residential properties: +7.8% to $830,000
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (March 2021 / yoy)
- Residential sales: +79.2%
- MLS® Home Price Index (HPI): +12.1% to $183,100
Prince Edward Island (March 2021 / yoy)
- Residential sales: +81.7%
- Average price of homes sold: +21.9% to $330,121
Lethbridge, Alberta (March 2021 / yoy)
- Single-detached home sales: +59.6%
- Median sale price for single-detached homes: +14% to $335,000
What to Expect for Cottage Real Estate Moving Forward?
Whether you desire to go fishing on a lake or sip coffee on the patio of your waterfront property, be prepared to open your wallet wide. Cottage country prices are still expected to increase, especially now that the busy spring and summer home-buying season has arrived. This historically active period is anticipated to be busier than ever before. At the very least, prices are expected to continue rising.
Like Toronto or Vancouver, cottage areas are experiencing low inventory. A dramatic supply imbalance is leading to bidding wars for active and new listings. While this was unheard-of just a few short years ago, it has become the norm in many recreational communities across Canada. Work-from-home arrangements, the demand for less-densified areas and larger living spaces paired with ultra low interest rates are the key drivers of this unprecedented growth within destinations that would be difficult to spot on a map.
As the Financial Post wrote in February, “Cottage country is the new battleground for housing bidding wars.” Although cottage country housing will still appeal to city slickers following the COVID-19 pandemic, the market could eventually normalize, write Murtaza Haider, a Ryerson University professor, and Stephen Moranis a real estate industry veteran.
“Once more housing is made available by prospective sellers, who have been patiently watching the markets from the sidelines, cottage country markets are likely to return to calmer conditions to match the serene and tranquil environments that distinguish them,” they said.
Until then, cottage country is no longer just the focus of retirees searching for the quiet life in their golden years, or families seeking fun in the summer sun. Young professional couples who only need a reliable Internet connection to work are expected to become a key driver of the cottage country housing market for the foreseeable future, whether in the Sunshine Coast or Atlantic Canada.
'Bad things happening' in Ontario real estate market as homebuyer complaints surge – CBC.ca
When Carla Vanderdeen-Fenech started shopping for a home in Hamilton in late 2020, she knew it would be competitive.
What she didn’t expect was to live in a friend’s basement for five months despite having made a healthy down payment on a $1.1 million house. Vanderdeen-Fenech contends her family wouldn’t be in a basement if agents weren’t breaking the rules to milk as much money out of buyers as possible.
“If we weren’t robbed of a home, somebody else was … this is why I said to my husband, ‘We have to speak up, we have to file a complaint, because this is wrong,'” Vanderdeen-Fenech said.
Vanderdeen-Fenech filed a complaint to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) earlier this year when she says a local listing agent broke the rules by sharing the price of a competing bid.
After her family sold their house in Mississauga in November, they stayed in their friend’s basement looking for a home. They had their eye on a $1.1-million home on Hamilton Mountain — a brick-and-stone house with a fireplace, a two-car garage and lots of space for her three kids, two of whom have special needs.
WATCH: The economic dangers of skyrocketing home prices:
Vanderdeen-Fenech and her husband offered $1,100,017 on the home in early February for a 9 a.m. deadline, she said in her RECO complaint. She said there were 23 other offers on the home, which was listed at roughly $900,000, and the listing agent needed 48 hours to choose one.
She says the listing agent called her realtor at 2 p.m., two hours after her offer expired, saying hers was “one of the top five, and we had the largest deposit.” But there was a bid for $80,000 more, the listing agent said, so Vanderdeen-Fenech needed to do better.
Vanderdeen-Fenech shared her story on the condition that CBC News didn’t name the agent, because she said she didn’t want to ruin his career.
She says the listing agent encouraged her to make a higher bid because he’d hoped the competing bidders would use his son as their buying agent. But the competing bidders used someone else instead.
“When they’re disclosing information they shouldn’t be, someone is getting robbed of a home,” Vanderdeen-Fenech said.
“If he had an offer $80,000 more than ours at 9 a.m., when all offers were presented, why didn’t he take it? Why is he calling us five hours later?”
Sold for less than higher bid
The listing agent also assumed Vanderdeen-Fenech was from Toronto, she said, and told her “you Toronto people have all the money.”
Vanderdeen-Fenech didn’t raise her bid. In the end, the home did not sell for $80,000 more than her offer.
Rob Golfi, an agent with ReMax Escarpment Golfi Realty Inc., says what happened to Vanderdeen-Fenech is not an isolated incident.
“I see that happening … [agents] say, ‘OK, do better.’ Well, do we have to do better?” he said in a phone interview.
“There’s a lot of bad things happening out there, but it’s hard to prove.”
The listing agent in the Vanderdeen-Fenech case isn’t on the Golfi team.
The agent declined an interview, but his office said it hopes a review shows he is “100 per cent innocent.” Vanderdeen-Fenech’s buying agent also declined to comment.
Complaints like Vanderdeen-Fenech’s are becoming more common. Brian Buchan, a spokesperson for the Real Estate Council of Ontario, says given the hot housing market, complaints of all kinds are at a historic high.
From this time last year to the first quarter of 2021, complaints from homebuyers have jumped 38 per cent, he says, which is “one of the largest jumps we’ve seen.”
The number of disciplinary actions hasn’t increased. Of those complaints, 38 per cent led to administrative action (like having an agent pay a fine and take educational courses), while five per cent led to prosecution (like losing their licence).
“In a hot market, there’s more people involved, more room for complaints, whether that’s disappointed people in a bidding war or some undesirable behaviours,” Buchan said. “We want to be at a place where only five per cent of the complaints actually have serious consequences.”
If true, agent could lose licence
Buchan said the council is reviewing Vanderdeen-Fenech’s allegations and is in a “fact-finding and discovery phase.” After that, RECO will decide if it needs to investigate.
But if the allegations are true, Buchan said, it is “clearly” a violation of the rules.
The code of ethics states an agent can disclose the number of offers but cannot reveal the substance of an offer or who is making it.
If the listing agent did break the rules, the possible outcomes range from coming to a resolution with the complainant to the agent losing their licence.
Donna Bacher, president of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB), said in a written statement the board hasn’t heard or received any complaints about similar conduct among its members.
Home buyers don’t know all the rules
Vanderdeen-Fenech’s family did eventually find a home in Hamilton. They expect to move in at the end of April.
Even so, she hopes her experience will help others.
“Some buyers truly don’t realize what’s allowed and not allowed,” she said.
“This is unacceptable and … maybe listing agents who have been conducting [business] this way will say, ‘I better shut it down before I get complaints against me.'”
Attention home buyers, sellers and agents: We want to hear from you!
We hope you’ll use this form to tell us about your experiences in the real estate market and whatever pressing issues are on your mind in Hamilton, Niagara, St. Catharines and Burlington.
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