A commentary by an agent with RE/MAX Camosun, known as Happy Cat Real Estate. One of a series on how local businesses are dealing with the pandemic.
It’s like it happened overnight. One day, in the middle of March, I was representing a buyer on a single-family home in Saanich. Offers from the weekend were to be reviewed Monday morning.
We put in an offer early in hopes it would discourage other potential buyers, but we knew this home was a hot commodity and competition was inevitable. The weekend open house had more than 200 attendees, and by the end of the weekend, there had been more than 50 private showings.
It felt like the crazy market of 2017 and 2018 was back. Spring had sprung and the market was hot.
By Monday morning, the listing agent had 16 offers in hand, and many prospective buyers were on pins and needles. Going in well over the asking price with an appealing offer, my buyer was the successful bidder. She was thrilled.
Three days later, the market hit pause.
I was really excited about a new listing in Gordon Head. The home was in a great location near the University of Victoria, with a huge lot and a mortgage-helper suite in the basement. This one, I thought, was sure to sell quickly with the spring flowers blooming and the market abuzz.
Then COVID-19 hit. Just like that. There was a new vocabulary for everyone to adopt. Phrases such as social distancing, self-quarantine, self-isolation and pandemic versus epidemic were being heard everywhere I turned. And what was this curve that everyone wanted to flatten?
Overnight, the world changed, and in turn, the real estate market — and my career — was turned on its head.
Soon after the outbreak began, real estate agents were classified as an “essential service” because of the many reasons that clients must sell or buy.
There are buyers who have sold their homes and must buy within a certain timeline, and there are moves triggered by divorce, separation, death, job transfer or change in income.
Thus, life as a real estate agent must go on — we need to continue supporting buyers and sellers.
We have had to put many safety measures in place. Physical distancing is the norm, with only two people allowed in a home at a time. We use gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and a signed declaration for buyers and sellers to acknowledge the risk due to COVID. We pre-qualify buyers before showings.
We have adopted new practices, with virtual showings, virtual open houses and more FaceTime walk-throughs.
For a commission-based employee, the unknown can be worrisome. Real estate agents are faced with many monthly fees that don’t stop because of an unexpected pandemic.
The costs are similar to those for a small business, and although we don’t necessarily have the expense of a bricks-and-mortar location, we still have to pay for licensing, dues, insurance, education, office fees and all the hidden costs required to run a successful business.
As a Victoria native who has worked for more than 10 years as a real estate agent, I feel confident that with people working together and following safety measures, the real estate market will survive and thrive again.
I’m even confident that the Gordon Head home will find a loving new owner soon.
In the meantime, let’s throw on some gloves and keep on moving.
Canadian home prices, sales to moderate but remain high
By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada’s home sales and price growth will moderate over the coming years from the unsustainable levels of 2020, but remain elevated, with housing starts expected to stabilize by the end of 2023, the national housing agency said on Thursday.
While the pace of price growth is expected to ease as mortgage rates increase and buyers face already high prices, home prices could climb 14.4% on average in 2021, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) forecast in its spring market outlook.
Its report does not forecast any annual price declines in the 2021-2023 period.
“Economic conditions are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023 … This includes the pace of home sales and prices, which we expect to see moderate from 2020 highs over the same period,” Bob Dugan, chief economist at the CMHC, said in a statement.
Dugan warned that significant risks that could impact the forecast include the path of the COVID-19 pandemic, a faster-than-expected increase in mortgage rates, and a reversal of the urban exodus that has driven up prices outside large cities.
The CMHC said last May that it expected housing starts, sales and prices to plunge amid the pandemic, with prices not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2022.
But home sales and prices soared to record levels, with the average selling price up 31.6% in March 2021 from a year ago. Housing starts also hit a record high in March.
Rental demand is also expected to recover through 2023 as immigration and inter-provincial migration resume, and as students return to campus, the agency said.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in OttawaEditing by Paul Simao)
'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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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