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"Full-On Frenzy": Muskoka Real Estate Market Remains Highly Competitive – Toronto Storeys

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“Our market isn’t typically like the Toronto market, but it’s just been crazy lately.”

In years past, real estate agent Maryrose Coleman of Sotheby’s Realty adds that the Muskoka market has usually slowed down by now. “Usually what we see is a lot of activity in the springtime… it tends to slow down as we move into July.”

To be clear, there is no slowdown in sight right now.

“I’ve been slammed like I’ve never been slammed before,” says Ross Halloran, Broker at Sotheby’s Realty. “I have a team of nine agents and five support staff and we’re stretched thin just trying to keep up with the demand.”

Muskoka Real Estate
Sagamo Estate, Lake Joesph, Muskoka – for sale for $6,995,000

In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario, this is not what anyone was expecting cottage country real estate to look like. But as people settled into the ‘new normal’ and saw that they could successfully work from home, city condos suddenly started to feel more and more cramped, and space north of the city began to feel more and more like a full-time option.

When COVID hit, it forced the Spring Cottage Life Show, scheduled to take place at the International Centre in Mississauga from March 26-29, to be cancelled as well. “The SCLS is like our Super Bowl,” Halloran says. “When it was cancelled, and with COVID going on, I went to my team and I said, ‘listen, this is going to be a brutal summer.’ At the time we had 53 listings.”

Luckily, he was wrong.

“The pandemic turns out to have only accelerated the trend of retirees, empty-nesters, those looking to down-size, and people now working from home looking to Muskoka as an answer,” says Halloran.

READ: Muskoka Waterfront Property Sales and Prices Hit Record Highs in June

Both Halloran and Coleman agree they are currently seeing unprecedented demand. “I had a client with a $6.5M budget who wanted a cottage on either Lake Rosseau or Lake Joseph, though it couldn’t be an island or water access only, and I was only able to find one property to show them,” Coleman tells Toronto Storeys. All told, she found seven properties available in the buyer’s price range, but just one that wasn’t on an island or water access only.

“I’m seeing properties that have been on the market for 5 years suddenly being sold.”

So if you thought the pandemic was going to give you the opportunity to sweep into cottage country with the intention of picking out the property of your dreams, you’d better take a jump in a cold lake. Certainly, according to both Coleman and Halloran, if you’re looking at a piece of Muskoka real estate on one of the ‘Big 3’, that is, Lake Joseph, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Muskoka, Lake of Bays.

Recent numbers released this week from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) back up Coleman and Halloran’s insights. In fact, waterfront sales in Muskoka in June not only posted an incredible 85% increase over June 2019, the region’s waterfront properties also saw a jump in their median price, hitting a record-high of $660,000.

Further still, it’s possible that the strongest indication of how hot Muskoka real estate is right now is that by this time in previous years, several properties listed in the spring that didn’t sell have usually been taken off the market with the intention of having them return in the fall for the second round of buyers who’ve missed out on another summer of owning and want to scoop up a cottage in time for next year. But Coleman says she’s “not anticipating we’ll see much of that this year, given how much demand there is and how little inventory is.”

Given that Coleman has buyer briefs from over 15 clients – ranging from under $1M to more than $10M – and has “nothing to sell them,” it sounds as though she’s right. Meanwhile, Halloran, on his way to show yet another property, tell us, “What we thought was sure to turn into a buyers’ market just a few months has once again turned out to be another sellers’ market.”

And it may just stay that way for a long time to come.

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Winnipeg real estate agent barred after selling First Nations' property below market value to family members – CBC.ca

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A Winnipeg real estate agent who sold properties for three First Nations in Manitoba has been temporarily barred from the profession, after a disciplinary case found she sold her clients’ properties to companies controlled by members of her own family at prices below fair market value.

Sarah Pao was disciplined by the Manitoba Securities Commission over the sale of properties owned by Long Plain First Nation, Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, and Birdtail Sioux First Nation. 

Pao has been barred from the real estate profession for 10 years and has to pay $20,000 in costs, under a Nov. 17 order by the commission. 

The settlement agreement with the commission says that many of the properties bought by numbered companies owned and operated by Pao’s immediate family were later “resold for significantly higher prices.” She also acted as agent in reselling the properties and collected more commissions.

She did not disclose to the First Nations that the numbered companies purchasing the properties were owned and operated by her immediate family members, the settlement says.

Nor did she disclose that “she herself had a financial interest as a covenantor [a person who is liable for repayment of a mortgage loan and mortgage obligations] on the mortgages of the purchasing numbered companies,” it says.

She did not list the properties for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) when being sold by the First Nations, “and in general did almost nothing to market the properties for her First Nations clients or to advise them of their fair market value,” the settlement says.

Long Plain First Nation’s housing authority filed a lawsuit in 2016 in connection with the real estate transactions against Pao, her employing broker — Coldwell Banker Preferred Real Estate — and other defendants.

“We are quite pleased with the decision of the Manitoba Securities Commission,” Long Plain Chief Dennis Meeches told CBC News. “This decision really sheds light on … our reasoning for filing this claim some years back.”

The Securities Commission regulates real estate salespeople in Manitoba under the Real Estate Brokers Act. Pao was first registered in 2010, but her registration was suspended in 2016. 

42 properties sold

The case against Pao involved the sale of 42 properties located in Brandon, Winnipeg, Virden, and Portage la Prairie in 2013 and 2014.

The three First Nations paid Pao a total of $202,594 in commissions as their agent, the settlement says.

It says the First Nations had recently acquired the properties “for nominal fees as a result of a federal government program.”

“Each of the First Nations had an immediate need for money and was looking to the sale of the properties for funds needed,” the settlement says. “Sarah Pao was aware of the First Nations’ financial distress and their immediate need for money from sale proceeds.”

Three properties in Virden, in southwestern Manitoba, were sold by Long Plain in 2013 and purchased by a company with directors who are family members of Pao. She was not acting as a sales agent for those three properties but she was involved with the mortgage, the settlement says.

It says the purchase prices were 66 per cent of the appraised values.

Pao later acted as salesperson for Long Plain on nine other properties located in Brandon and Winnipeg. Those properties were also sold to companies with directors who were family members of Pao, and at prices far below appraised values, the settlement says.

At one point, the Brandon land titles office questioned the fair market values stated in the transfers for three properties “as being too low,” the settlement says. Pao’s relative involved in the purchase signed a new document restating the market values to match the assessed values. 

Pao acted as agent for both the buyer and seller for some of the Long Plain properties, and she was paid commissions totalling $39,600.

Property assessed at $181K sold for $99K

For Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, in 2013 and 2014 Pao acted as agent for the sale of 20 properties that were all purchased by a numbered company incorporated by a relative, the settlement says.

In each case, there were no other offers to purchase presented and the properties were not listed on MLS, the document says.

It shows that, for example, one Sandy Bay property on Pritchard Avenue in Winnipeg had an assessed value of $181,000 but it was sold for $99,000 in 2013. The following year it was resold for $214,900.

The purchase prices on the Sandy Bay properties were well below the assessed values, and in several cases, the Brandon land titles office rejected the land transfer documents because “the sworn fair market values were too low,” the settlement says. Subsequently, a new document was filed at the land titles office with revised figures matching the assessed values.

Sandy Bay paid a total of $96,444 in commissions to Pao, who in some cases acted as agent for both seller and buyer, the settlement says. In some cases there were no listing agreements for the properties.

Pao acted as agent in the sale of 10 properties for Birdtail Sioux First Nation in 2013 and 2014 — all purchased by a numbered company controlled by Pao’s relative.

As with the other two First Nations, the settlement says the purchase prices were well below appraised values, and again, the land titles office questioned those prices. 

The Birdtail Sioux commissions paid to Pao totalled $66,550.

She was also a covenantor on the purchaser’s mortgage in each case, the settlement says.

Pao’s lawyer, Richard Buchwald, told CBC News his client declines to comment on the settlement.

Coldwell Banker, her employing broker at the time, also declined to comment. 

Defence denies properties sold below fair value

The settlement says Pao acknowledges she committed faults under the Real Estate Brokers Act, such as failing to complete listing agreements for some properties, failing to disclose her relationship to immediate family members indirectly buying an interest in properties, and failing to have offers to purchase completed properly.

The property sales led Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation to file a lawsuit in October 2019 against Pao and other defendants, including members of her family who were involved, as well as Coldwell Banker.

Pao’s defence to that lawsuit says she was retained by Sandy Bay for the “specific purpose of selling the properties in bulk transactions as quickly as possible.”

Her defence statement alleges the client, Sandy Bay, was aware the properties involved were in “deteriorated condition” and a “state of disrepair,” meaning potential purchase prices would be lower, and the market for them would be limited to buyers who could renovate them for resale.

Pao’s defence also alleges she and her co-defendants discussed with Sandy Bay the idea of listing the properties on MLS, but her client wanted to proceed instead with the sale of the properties in bulk transactions without the listings.

It also denies the properties were sold at lower than fair values, and says Sandy Bay received advice from independent legal counsel on the sale prices of the properties.

Both the 2016 Long Plains lawsuit and the Sandy Bay lawsuit are still before the courts.

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Ontario Real Estate Prices Continue to Soar | RE/MAX Canada – RE/MAX News

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The Ontario real estate market has been surprisingly resilient during the coronavirus pandemic and has even been an engine of recovery for the overall Ontario economy. Yet, cases of the virus are on the rise in this province and open houses are off the table once again.

As homebuyers and sellers rely on technology to dip their feet into the market, activity continues despite fears and anxieties.  

According to the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), Ontarians continue to see home-buying as a good investment. Just over one in two Ontarians (51%) in the real estate market report they are currently actively looking to buy a home. Meanwhile, the public is also lobbying for a Land Transfer Tax holiday in order to increase inventory and address some of the supply issues that the province of Ontario is experiencing.

Although the rental market has had some tough blows since many service-sector jobs were lost, home ownership continues to be a priority for many Canadians. This disproportionate demand has created upward pressure on house prices across the province. Below we explore some of the key trends in the Ontario housing market contributing to this persistent price growth.

House Prices in the Ontario Real Estate Market

Last spring, some of Canada’s top economists predicted a sharp decline in house prices up to 18 per cent, yet many weren’t convinced this would be the case. Months later, experts still believe the strength of the market will remain on its upward course, with prices continuing to rise in Q4 2020.

Ontario Submarket Differences

While the province is seeing overall gains in the real estate market, a disparity exists between urban and suburban regions. House prices are reflecting the shift in lifestyle preferences within these markets. Notably, some of the biggest price gains have been seen in suburban cities like Oshawa, Hamilton and Mississauga. Another small city seeing significant, unprecedented growth is Windsor. In fact, at 17 per cent, Windsor had the largest average price appreciation in the past three months.

Social distancing measures have left condo dwellers cooped up, which has contributed to the shift toward larger homes in suburban and rural locations. Over the past six months, “home” has transformed into a multi-use space for living, working, learning, staying fit, relaxing and more. Not surprisingly, homes with spacious multi-level floor plans and home offices are becoming more desirable.

In addition, common areas within condo buildings, such as lobbies and elevators, are turning some people off condo living. Personal space has become more important in light of the pandemic, which can be hard to find in a dense urban setting.

Ontario markets such as Durham and Peel are seeing booming sales activity. While some may have expected the biggest price gains to take place in popular cities such as Toronto, many homebuyers are gravitating towards the outskirts. The opportunity to secure larger homes with more square footage and access to green space are just a few factors luring buyers further from urban hubs.

Supply and Demand

Ontario experienced lingering demand after the traditional spring home-buying season was pushed into the summer and autumn months. As the economy opened back up across the province, people were eager to purchase homes again.

Yet, low housing inventory has led to upward pressure on prices as competition rises. At the local level, several Ontario markets are now into weeks of inventory rather than months. Highlighting supply issues, the majority of the province was close to or just under one month of inventory.

Low Interest Rates

Across the country low interest rates are attracting homebuyers and helping to keep the market afloat. The Bank of Canada has lowered the rate to 0.25 per cent, which is historically the lowest it’s ever been. Those who were previously sidelined can now borrow at a lower cost. This could be enticing for hopeful homebuyers, who can now potentially secure more financing to purchase the home they desire.

The Ontario housing market is continuing to experience soaring prices in various submarkets. COVID-19 has influenced some home purchasing trends as people expand their home search to suburban and rural areas.

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Vancouver real estate: heritage home called Jeffrey House sold $1.6 million, was bought in 2010 for $809000 – Straight.com

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One of Vancouver’s heritage homes has a new owner.

The residence called Jeffrey House sold for $1,614,750 after only two days on the market.

The 2168 Parker Street residence is located in the Grandview Woodland neighbourhood, where many heritage homes can be found.

In 2018, the Jeffrey House got a centenary sign from the Grandview Heritage Group.

The grassroots-based organization recalls online that the building permit for the house was issued on November 18, 1912.

The house was built for William Jeffrey, who worked as a furnace man at the Terminal City Iron Works.

The builder was R. Armishaw, according to the Grandview Heritage Group.

“It was to be a $1,500 one-storey residence for William, his wife Georgina, and their three children,” the local heritage group related.

“In 1921, they added a $75 garage. They were still living in the house when Georgina died in January 1924 after a long illness. This house is a bit of a hybrid, but its main form is California Bungalow – the cottage-sized version of the Craftsman house of the period.”

The Jeffrey House is listed in the Vancouver Heritage Register in the C category.

This means that the home’s heritage significance is “Contextual or Character”, based on the City of Vancouver’s classification.

A home of contextual or character significance “represents those buildings that contribute to the historic character of an area or streetscape, usually found in groupings of more than one building but may also be of individual importance,” the city register explains.

On its website, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation refers to the original owner as William Jeffery.

“Jeffery, a printer, remained at the house until at least 1955. The house is an example of a simple Craftsman style residence,” the heritage foundation relates.

RE/MAX Select Properties listed the home on November 10, 2020 for $1,698,000.

The listing was terminated, and replaced with a new one on the same day for a reduced price of $1,568,000.

The property sold on November 12 for $1,614,750, according to tracking by real-estate information site fisherly.com.

Real-estate site Redfin provides a sales history for the 2168 Parker Street home.

Available information from the site indicates that the house sold in 1975 for $45,000.

In May 1985, it was bought for $104,000.

In June 2010, a buyer purchased the heritage home for $809,000, according to documentation by Redfin. 

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