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Sarnia-Lambton real estate sales up 10.5 per cent in 2019

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Total annual real estate sales broke through $600 million mark for the first time in Sarnia and the rest of Lambton County in 2019 but the president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate says she wasn’t surprised.

Sarnia-Lambton real estate
New homes are being built on Gianluca Avenue in Sarnia. The city issued a total of 58 building permits for new single family homes in 2019. That’s down from 83 the previous year.

Paul Morden / The Observer

Total annual real estate sales broke through $600 million mark for the first time in Sarnia and the rest of Lambton County in 2019 but the president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate says she wasn’t surprised.

“It’s natural,” said Donna Mathewson. “Every year we set a new record, and we have been consistently for five years.”

The $608.6-million total for 2019 was up 10.5 per cent, compared to a 9.3 per cent increase the previous year.

Mathewson said the number of properties sold locally in 2019 was 1,843 – an increase of just one per cent.


Donna Mathewson, president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board, talks about year-end local market statistics released Friday. The total value of local property sales in 2019 increased 10.5 per cent over the previous year. (PAUL MORDEN, The Observer)

Paul Morden /

The Observer

The board said there were a total of 2,547 properties listed for sale during 2019, compared to 2,421 the previous year.

Many areas of Lambton remain in a “high demand, low supply” situation when it comes to homes on the market, Mathewson said.

She said that has been the case for two or three years locally.

Real estate is cyclical and traditionally has peaks and valleys in the market, she said. “We have been on this peak for quite a while.”

Mathewson said the local economy remains strong and she expects the “steady growth” in real estate to continue this year.

2019 ended with a busy month of December, thanks to the mild weather, Mathewson said.

“We were still showing houses the 24th of December . . . the grass was still green.”

The average local home price was $336,354 in 2019, which is also up over last year, but the “hottest” segment with the most sales has been in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range, Mathewson said.

“First time home buyers are buying $200,000 homes now, and they didn’t used to,” she said.

She attributes that to low interest rates and high rents.

Bungalows were the most popular style of home sold in 2019, but Mathewson said that’s in part because bungalows make up most of the new homes being built locally.

“We had a lot more bungalows on the market, than anything else.”

New homes are still “helping drive our market,” Mathewson said.

“We still have development within the city, as well as the county.”

Sarnia-Lambton real estate

New homes are being built on Gianluca Avenue in Sarnia. The city issued a total of 58 building permits for single family homes in 2019. That’s down from 83 the previous year. (PAUL MORDEN, The Observer)

Paul Morden /

The Observer

Wyoming, Petrolia, Enniskillen Township and Corunna in St. Clair Township are some of the communities outside of the city seeing the impact of new home sales, she said.

Building permits statistics from Sarnia’s City Hall note the number of new single family home building permits issued in the city in 2019 totalled 53. That’s down from 83 the year before.

Ken Barros, chief building inspector with the city, said that may be because installation of some new streets and services to open up additional building lots in the city happened later in 2019.

Those streets are now in place and their lots are expected to fill quickly.

He noted the city has recently seen more activity with multi-unit residential building projects.

That includes a $28.5-million permit issued by the city in December for a Tricar residential tower under construction on Front Street. The London company’s plan is for a 15-storey building with 123 to 125 units.

By the end of 2019, the city had issued building permits for a total of $110.3 million in construction, up from $92.9 million in 2018.

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This Week’s Top Stories: Canadian Real Estate Prices Expected To Fall, and Banks Set Aside Billions For Losses – Better Dwelling

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Time for your cheat sheet on this week’s most important stories.

Canadian Real Estate

CMHC’s Canadian Real Estate Price Forecast Shows Big Drops In Ontario And BCCanada’s national housing agency gave a detailed breakdown of its real estate price forecast. Prices are expected to fall later this year, and continue into 2021. The forecast ends 2022 not quite recovered across the country. Different markets are expected to be impacted differently, with Ontario and BC projected to take big hits. Less overvalued markets like Quebec are expected to see much smaller price declines.
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Canada’s Big Six Banks Set Aside Over $10 Billion For Bad Loans, Up Over 300%
Canada’s Big Six banks are expecting billions of loans to go bad soon. Provisions for credit losses (PCLs) hit $10.92 billion at the Big Six, up 346.42% from the year before. PCLs are cash set aside for loans the bank believes have become unrecoverable. The sudden spike of increase implies banks see delinquencies to rise sharply soon.
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TransUnion Warns A “Severe” Scenario Likely In Canada, Mortgage Defaults To Jump
TransUnion, one of North America’s “Big Three” credit rating agencies, expects the mortgage market to deteriorate. Analysts from the firm look at over 40 metrics, including forbearance and credit. At this point of the pandemic, the firm sees a “severe” scenario playing out, with mortgage originations dropping, balances swelling, and delinquencies doubling. That’s the trifecta of bad news when it comes to mortgages.
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CIBC: Challenges To Canadian Real Estate Will Be “Coming In 12-18 Months”
One of Canada’s biggest banks sees the real estate market getting hit, but doesn’t expect issues for 12 to 18 months. The bank notes unemployment from 5.5% pre-crisis, to 13% currently. They expect unemployment to fall back to 8% next year, but that’s still at recessionary levels. This should lead to reduced real estate activity, with anticipated declines of 5 to 10 percent. The bank’s analysts further added, “high cost units in the high-rise segment of the market seeing the most notable price declines.”
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Most Of Canada’s Insured Mortgages On Deferrals Projected To Be Underwater Soon
Using the CMHC’s forecast, most of Canada’s recently insured mortgages are projected to be underwater. The CMHC estimates 12% of insured mortgages are now on payment deferral, and they expect this to rise to 20% by the end of the summer. The CMHC is forecasting price declines between 9 and 18% over the next 12 months. This would leave a considerable portion of insured mortgages with less than 1% equity in the next few months.
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Toronto Real Estate

Only 5% Of Greater Toronto’s New Homes Sold Last Month
The pandemic finally put the breaks on Toronto’s new home sales, which seemed previously untouched. There were just 771 units in April, down 80% from last year. This is a whopping 78% below the 10 year average. While the slowdown is expected, the decline in sales is much faster than the decline in inventory. This will lead to downward pressure on prices if it persists.
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Birds that come by looking for real-estate (8 photos) – BradfordToday

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As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a story here, I am fortunate to live on a farm property a little north of Alliston, where there is a mix of open land, a stand of mature conifers, smaller trees and bushes. It is a wonderful bird habitat. 

In the past couple of months some of those birds have been searching for suitable living quarters. I was fortunate to be able to purchase an Eastern Bluebird Nesting Box from friends of mine who made boxes and donated the proceeds from sales to a local food bank. 

I was pleased to have this personal connection to the builders of the potential home, and pleased at the prospect of having a nesting pair of these birds of happiness as neighbours. I have had them in the ‘hood other years and thus was hopeful they may chose to move into a home built with them in mind. 

I was very excited one day in April when I spied a pair in nearby trees. And, as you may well imagine, even more so when I saw them checking out the house. The male sat on it and went in, no virtual tour was available online. He seemed to like what he saw and called his mate to check it out. They came back a couple of days in a row. To me, it seemed like an easy sale. Alas, I was mistaken. 

The bluebirds moved out of the picture and a pair of Tree Swallows followed pretty much the same procedure. By this time, I was hoping to double my chances with a second nesting box. The Tree Swallow couple went from box to box for about a week. It seemed to me they were testing out flight patterns from the two locations. They were very tolerant of my presence and stayed in place even when I was near. I thought – hey, they like me. 

They are splendid aerialist and fun to watch. They also eat such things as mosquitoes on the fly – an impressive and appreciated skill. 

After the week, however, they moved down the fence-line to a more established neighbourhood and took up residence there. There is more open field thus more comfortable room for free flying. 

I was feeling a little dejected. As is the norm in my way of thinking, it was all because I did something wrong. 

After wallowing in self-pity for a couple of days, I was amazed to see a male bluebird back at the box. I was cautious of being hopeful. When he was back the next day with his mate and they checked out both boxes, the stirring of excitement was hard to suppress. 

I can now announce with great satisfaction and happiness, the pair chose one of these homes, moved furniture in, and have been very joyful neighbours for nearly two weeks. 

It’s so great to look out my office window to see the male sitting on the nearby fence, or in the tree. He is more visible than the more muted coloured female. He is also very protective of the nest. 

They are such charming little neighbours. I am delighted by their presence, and it is a privilege to have them so close. 

As the weeks go by, I will share some of my experiences of bird visitors with readers. In the meantime, keep your eye to the sky and look for birds that may come by. 

A note: Ed and Bryan Osborne sold 120 nesting boxes, and raised $4110.00 for the Tottenham Foodbank. They have another 20 or so to sell.

Email: marylouosborne@live.ca

Rosaleen Egan is a freelance journalist, a storyteller, and a playwright. She blogs on her website rosiewrites.com

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The Current State of Vancouver Real Estate

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The pandemic of the coronavirus has shifted the world and its economy. Businesses are closed and homes are being affected by this crisis everyday. The same can be said in one of Canada’s largest cities, Vancouver– and more specifically, Vancouver’s real estate.

 

How Vancouver is Affected

The coronavirus has significantly slowed real estate sales in Vancouver. What was once a hustling and bustling city, is now a quiet solitude with unattended houses. The housing market has seen nearly a 40% decrease as compared to Vancouver real estate in April 2019. Regardless, housing prices have not faltered. In fact, that average price of a Vancouver home has actually gone up by 2.5% since the pandemic. Any major change in the prices of these homes could really affect homeowners, as Vancounver has always been known for having overpriced housing. Homeowners expect the prices of their homes to rise. Those who were hoping to get a discounted home in Vancouver will be disappointed– prices seem to be on the rise all across Canada.

 

The Average Cost of Vancouver Housing

The pandemic can stand to deter the average cost of houses in Vancouver. While the average cost of a home in Canada sits at $400,000 Canadian dollars, the average home in Vancouver is about 1.3 million– even condos average around $800,000. As it stands, Vancouver is one of the most expensive places to live in North America, coming only second to San Francisco. The median income in Vancouvers is around $70,000. Vancouver’s citizens are struggling to pay their high mortgages during this troubling time. Because so few can work and housing/renting costs are so high, people are not able to make payments on time.

 

What Vancouver is Doing

Luckily, Vancouver is not leaving its citizens to fend for themselves. They are offering potential benefits and rental reliefs of up to $500 CAD/month. Some landlords will also see a mortgage relief, too. The government has also been working with banks to possibly defer mortgage payments.

 

The Major Concern

The major concern within Vancouver real estate is that if the coronavirus lasts longer than three months, prices will start to drop. Vancouver is able to maintain its strong prices and low interest rates for now, but if they continue to lose revenue due to a lack of tourists and immigrants, they will have to make up for it elsewhere. Housing tax prices will increase for “satellite families” (families who do business outside of the country from home). The Vancouver real estate market is doing well for now, but it may not last if the pandemic doesn’t soon end.

Overall, the coronavirus has made a tremendous impact on real estate all over the world. Vancouver is particularly susceptible to the issues regarding real estate because it costs so much to live there. The prices are still on the rise in Vancouver, but that will likely not be the case if the pandemic lasts past June.

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