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N.B.’s sizzling real estate market shows no signs of cooling off

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Houses selling for over asking, getting multiple offers, selling sight-unseen. For New Brunswick’s sizzling real estate market, it’s all part of the new normal.

The Canadian Real Estate Association issued its October statistics on Monday, showing “historically strong” national home sales for the fourth straight month.

Even factoring in a “very quiet spring market” this year, the report said, it’s the second-highest January-October on record for national sales, trailing only 2016.

“For anyone waiting for the Canadian existing home market to begin to settle down … they’re going to have to wait a little longer,” Canadian Real Estate Association senior economist Shaun Cathcart said. “At this point, activity in 2020 has a real shot at setting an annual record.”

It’s a trend that has been playing out in New Brunswick for months — accompanied by buying behaviours the province hasn’t traditionally seen, the province’s real estate association president says.

It’s common now to have people buying houses sight unseen. Often, the first time they see it is on closing.– Andre Malenfant, New Brunswick Real Estate Association

“Every month we’re seeing record sales numbers,” New Brunswick Real Estate Association president Andre Malenfant said on Monday, noting homes are selling faster and for higher prices.

“Traditionally, we’ve been a balanced market, even a buyer’s market,” he said. “But now, we’re definitely a seller’s market.”

Malenfant said a series of factors are driving the climb, chief among them New Brunswick’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and “the law of supply and demand.”

“We’re continuing to see an increase in buyers coming from other provinces to get away from COVID,” Malenfant said. “We’ve handled it pretty well and we have attracted attention” across Canada because of it.

Buyers are mainly coming here from Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Malenfant said. They’re taking virtual tours of houses, offering over asking, sometimes even sparking bidding wars.

 

Real estate sales figures kept up their record pace for the month of October, New Brunswick Real Estate Association president André Malenfant said. ‘It’s definitely a seller’s market.’ (Submitted by André Malenfant)

 

“It’s common now to have people buying houses sight unseen,” Malenfant said. “Often, the first time they see it is on closing. So they take possession, lock themselves in the house and quarantine for 14 days.”

In some cases, he said, buyers will have a New Brunswick friend or relative come to tour the house before they buy it. But if that’s not an option, the virtual tour can be “quite detailed, quite precise,” with realtors zooming in closely on any facet of a home a potential buyer wants a closer look at.

A tighter-than-usual supply is also pushing prices up, with some people choosing not to list their home during the pandemic.

There are also greater numbers of retirees returning home to New Brunswick and retiring earlier than they’d planned because of the pandemic’s chill on economies out west, Malenfant said.

Prices in each of the three biggest cities are up, with the Greater Moncton area leading the pack with a 15.1 per cent year-over-year increase in house prices, followed by Saint John with an increase of 12.3 per cent and Fredericton with a 5.3 per cent increase.

But the biggest jump is in northern New Brunswick, where Malenfant said prices are up 48.8 per cent over last year.

So how long can buyers and sellers expect this trend to go on?

“Real estate is cyclical,” Malenfant said. “It will eventually slow down. Next year at this time we will likely see an increase in inventory, a lot of people putting their property up for sale. But I think it’s going to stay strong for a while yet.”


NEW BRUNSWICK HOME SALES STATS

Provincial 

  • Average house price in 2020: $203,233
  • Average house in 2019: $180,145
  • Year-over-year increase: 12.8 per cent

Greater Moncton 

  • Average house price in 2020: $225,200
  • Average house in 2019: $195,700
  • Year-over-year increase: 15.1 per cent

Saint John 

  • Average house price in 2020: $212,578
  • Average house in 2019: $189,340
  • Year-over-year increase: 12.3 per cent

Fredericton

  • Average house price in 2020: $196,511
  • Average house in 2019: $186,585
  • Year-over-year increase: 5.3 per cent

Source: Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)

Source: – CBC.ca

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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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