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New owners vow to bring ‘innovative look’ to real estate firm – Brantford Expositor

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The new owners of a long-running Chatham real estate company say they don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but they want to bring an “innovative look” to the business.

Amber Pinsonneault and Kristen Nead took ownership of Royal LePage Peifer Realty Inc. at the beginning of the year. Former owner Brian Peifer, who started the business with his father in 1968, will stay on with the company.

Pinsonneault has taken over the broker of record position from Peifer and Nead is working as the broker manager, a new position for the company. Although they are now in charge of day-to-day operations, they will also continue to sell real estate.

“We really don’t want to change what Brian has already established because he has really done a great job at building this company,” Pinsonneault said. “Now, we’re going out there to social media.”

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed more of the business online, Pinsonneault said, and discussions began in August to purchase the company.

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“Both Amber and I love opportunities and of course investments that broaden our experiences in our professional lives,” Nead said. “We were looking for this opportunity and Brian was excited to turn it over to us.”

The two new owners have spent their entire real estate careers at Peifer Realty. Nead has been in the industry for 15 years and Pinsonneault for five.

Pinsonneault said real estate marketing had already been shifting to social media prior to the pandemic, but the last year “put people behind their screens more than they wanted to be.”

Other changes, such as using pre-qualified buyers, sanitization and asking potential buyers to refrain as much as possible from touching surfaces, will likely be permanent, she said.

Virtual showings have also become a key part of the business, Nead said.

“If they are still wanting to see the house in person (after the virtual visit), then we would show them the house,” she said. “It’s still kind of limiting that face-to-face contact, but it’s still the same transaction.”

The Chatham-Kent real estate market has continued to break records during the pandemic. The average price of homes sold in January was $350,452, a 42.4 per cent from January 2020, the Chatham-Kent Association of Realtors reported.

“What we’re seeing is people are leaving bigger city centres and they’re coming to Chatham-Kent for a different life experience,” Pinsonneault, a member of the local real estate board, said.

For those who already live in Chatham-Kent, she said mortgage rates are low and home prices are still low compared to most of the province.

“Yes, our housing is going up in price, but I wouldn’t say that it’s unsustainable, especially given how different the prices are from say here to Toronto,” she said.

Nead and Pinsonneault said they both plan to stay with Peifer Realty “until the end.”

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Canada housing starts fall 19.8% on month in April

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Canadian housing starts fell 19.8% in April compared with the previous month on a sharp decline in multiple urban starts, data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation showed on Monday.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of housing starts fell to 268,631 units from a revised 334,759 units in March, Canada‘s national housing agency said. Analysts had expected 280,000 unit starts in April.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Towns grapple with big-city-like real estate boom

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Real Estate Sales In September

Small cities and cottage towns across Canada are grappling with the fallout of surging popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as urbanites flock in, driving up home prices with big-city-style bidding wars and putting pressure on municipal services.

The growing demand has led to some small Canadian communities seeing house prices jump more than 75% in one year.

“The small towns are getting hit hard. They’re getting interest like they’ve never had before,” said Stephan Gauthier, an Ottawa real estate agent who is increasingly helping clients buy in villages well outside the city. (Graphic: Annual price gains in select Canadian cities and towns,)

The eye-watering gains in Canada are mirroring similar trends in New Zealand, Australia and Britain, where rural home prices are accelerating faster than in cities as avid buyers rush to snatch up cheaper small-town properties and as white-collar workers bet on being able to work from home even after the pandemic ends.

The boom in Canada has builders flooding into smaller communities. More homes mean more demand for drinking water and wastewater treatment, forcing some towns to fast-track expensive infrastructure projects.

For locals, the influx of city people is a double-edged sword. New residents are breathing life and diversity into places where – before the pandemic – schools were closing and many businesses struggled through the winter.

But the soaring housing prices are locking locals out of the real estate market, and competition for rentals means many people can no longer afford to live locally, leaving small-business owners scrambling for staff.

Even existing homeowners, whose home values have risen sharply, are unable to move up the property ladder as the gap to the next rung widens past their means.

“You want people to come here and help build the community. But at what cost to the people who have been here for literally generations?” said Nancy Cherwinka, who lives in Prince Edward County, a peninsula in Lake Ontario known for its wineries and beaches.

MOVE TO THE COUNTRY

Roughly 75,000 people left Toronto and Montreal – Canada‘s two biggest cities and main COVID-19 hot spots – for other parts of their respective provinces of Ontario and Quebec in the year up to July 2020, the largest such migration since at least 2001, according to the latest Statistics Canada data.

For Prince Edward County, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Toronto, that migration has helped drive house prices up 78.5% on the year, putting ownership out of reach for many local residents. The average selling price of a home there in April was C$740,112 ($610,000).

“Now the rental market has gone nuts,” said Chuck Dowdall, executive director of the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation, with potential home buyers giving up on buying, and renting instead.

The rental crunch is making it difficult for small businesses to hire and retain staff, even if they pay above minimum wage.

It is a struggle that Samantha Parsons and her husband, owners of Parsons Brewing Company, know well. They built a small bunkhouse next to their brewery to house workers temporarily and have even had staff stay with them. This year, they arranged a lease for a three-bedroom home for employees.

“You have to be creative,” said Parsons, adding they still lose out on talent because of the housing challenge.

IF YOU BUILD IT

To tackle the housing crisis, Prince Edward County is planning for more than 3,000 housing starts through 2026, including dozens of below-market rental units.

That boom is putting pressure on municipal services, notably aging water infrastructure. The region is hastening plans to spend C$68 million ($56.2 million) on its water and wastewater system, with developers on the hook for much of the bill.

New-home construction is also surging in other smaller centers across Canada, with rural starts in the first quarter of 2021 at their highest point since 2008. (Graphic: Canada rural housing starts, )

In Collingwood, Ontario, a four-season resort town about 145 km (90 miles) northwest of Toronto, the population boom has forced the community to pause all new-home construction while it sorts out how to address its critical water shortage.

In Nelson, a former mining town in British Columbia’s Kootenay mountains, a pandemic-driven explosion of infill and coach housing is forcing the small city to expand its wastewater and water infrastructure sooner than planned.

“We were heading down that road anyway … but now it’s been accelerated. So that’s going to put us a little bit on our back foot,” said Mayor John Dooley, adding that the sewage treatment plant alone will cost about C$25 million.

Dooley said Nelson hoped to split the costs with the province and federal government.

Back in Prince Edward County, about half the children at a rural daycare are new to the community since the pandemic. At the sister daycare in town, a quarter of students are newcomers. Enrollment at local schools is also up, reversing a trend that had led to closures in previous years.

More young families living in the community will ultimately be beneficial, said Cherwinka, as long as they stick around once life goes back to normal.

“Hopefully they stay, hopefully it’s not just a pandemic solution,” she said. “Hopefully it’s long term.”

($1 = 1.2092 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Andy Bruce in London; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Canadian home prices, sales to moderate but remain high

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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)

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