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



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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3 Solid Real Estate Stocks for Your TFSA | The Motley Fool Canada – The Motley Fool Canada



Real estate has always been attractive to investors. One of the major reasons is that it’s one of the few investments that are backed by hard assets. But the problem comes with the capital. Even a small apartment in the suburbs will require substantial capital for investment — something not many investors have. And taking out a mortgage to fund your investment might backfire if the market takes a nosedive.

But there is an alternative: invest in REITs and other real estate companies. You can start with much smaller capital and expect decent returns. And another benefit is that investing in real estate stocks will be passive, and you won’t be exposed to the many responsibilities of a land/property owner.

Industrial real estate

WPT Industrial REIT (TSX:WIR.U) is a Toronto-based company with 75 properties (74 industrial and one office) across 18 U.S. states. The total area of these properties covers 22.3 million sq. ft., and they are worth about $1.5 billion. Currently, almost all of the company’s properties are occupied. Long-term industrial tenants mean that WPT Industrial REIT has relatively dependable cash flows.

The company offers a juicy yield of 5.23%, and it has increased monthly payouts just once in the past five years. The payout yield is very stable at 48.24%. The market value of the company is $14.52 per share, which is a result of 23.8% growth in the past five years, resulting in a CAGR of 4.36%. The company seems highly profitable, with a profit margin of 77.7%.

Industrial and logistics real estate

The tried-and-tested Dividend Aristocrat, Granite REIT (TSX:GRT.UN), is one of the major players in the industrial and logistics properties in the country. The company has a diversified portfolio, with 90 properties in nine countries — mostly in Canada, the U.S., and Germany. The rest of the properties are in European countries. Most of the tenants in Granite properties are established businesses and blue-chip companies.

Granite is offering a decent yield of almost 4% at the time of writing, at the minimal payout ratio of 34.79%. A much better number that the company is offering is its CAGR of 10.53%. The company has seen steady growth in the past five years, with market value increased by 65%. Currently, the company is trading at $73 per share.

Residential real estate

This might seem like a risky option, but the substantial dividend yield and growth potential earns Wall Financial (TSX:WFC) a place on this list. It’s a residential property manager. It develops and sells residential properties and manages rental and hotel properties.

The company is unique in the sense that it pays annual dividends. It’s only been at it for four years and has increased the payouts by $1 per share for three consecutive years. Currently, it’s offering a monstrous yield of 8.74%. But the best part about Wall Financial is its growth and CAGR. The company has grown its market value by 185% in the past five years, which comes out to a CAGR of 23.36%. Currently, the company is trading at $35 per share.

Foolish takeaway

$10,000 apiece in the three real estate companies might earn you over $9,000 in dividends and $27,000 in capital gains, essentially well over doubling up your starting capital. If the companies keep growing the same way, you will have a sizable enough nest egg sitting in your TFSA through the three real estate companies.

Fool contributor Adam Othman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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REAL ESTATE: The affordability crisis within the BC land market – Agassiz-Harrison Observer



The ugly truth is that the continual rising benchmarks in private property prices are harming the balance of the real estate market across the province. The high prices are not prized by a very large segment of B.C.’s citizens, including young families, singles and seniors. Yes, higher prices are a big help to existing homeowners with equity in their landholdings whose return will see them have ample monies to relocate for lifestyle and other opportunities. It is nice to see average people get ahead, and actually see some return on investment for their hard earned dollars spent paying down years of their mortgages.

But the flip side to our ever-increasing high market prices is the exclusion of a whole segment that used to be a part of the market equation – the new buyer. Single mothers and fathers, and individual title holders that seek mortgages are having to make cutting sacrifices to achieve home ownership. No longer can you count on that if you must sell your home and relocate that you can even afford to get back into the market in the location you want or need to live in.

The property ownership truth these citizens are facing in 2020 is summed up by the word: unaffordable.

Unaffordable housing in this province has reached critical in many regions and is one of the biggest market issues facing B.C. We have outgrown our available private land base and the pressure building behind these growing pains has also caused an affordability crisis in rental housing markets province-wide. The provincial & federal government implemented shortsighted policies that further exacerbated the issue. The foreign buyers speculation tax was implemented with loophole jumping geographical boundaries that put pressure on unprotected sensitive areas of agricultural land that was carelessly excluded in their planning.

The increasing demand for land coupled with low interest rates, 25-year amortization mortgages coupled with household debt load, and the low market inventory is actually further diminishing the capacity for the market to correct by reducing the amount of new buyers and buyers who need to move or upgrade. New buyers are desperately needed to keep the market balanced and the economy stable; they historically bought into a low-priced starter home to enter the market.

Starter home prices really don’t exist anymore. Everything we consume and use has also risen in price over the last several years, but wages have not. The real estate market is fundamentally built and balances itself on the supply and demand. Our domestic demand combined with foreign demand all competing in an ever-diminishing pool of available listings has but one predictable outcome – that prices will continue to rise!

In my 20’s, there was never a doubt in my mind that I would graduate post-secondary and then go on to a job that would allow me to own my own home, where I would marry and raise my family. I had envisioned that my children would be able to do the same. The reality is far from that as we prepare to turn the page into March 2020. The least affordable markets in Canada are in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. An article released in October 2019 by New Geography journalist Wendell Cox stated that statistics show young families are faced with saving for over 40 years to come up with a down payment to purchase condo, semi-detached and single family homes, providing they can find a mortgage provider that will qualify them through the B20 Stress Testing. That paints a very hopeless and frustrating picture for the next generation.

Where will our young families have to go to be able to afford a home where they have good-paying jobs and access to schools? Will the next generation of children never experience the freedom and healthy lifestyle a private home with a safe yard affords? And we wonder, why socialism as an ideology is gaining interest amongst millennials and young adults? The equality gap has not just widened – it is now a gaping canyon that needs some immediate attention to bridge.

In my opinion, the number-one option would be to release one- to two-per cent of specifically chosen crown land holdings into the private market, to first and foremost balance the inventory available. This would immediately have an effect on the rising costs due to low inventory counts. A large portion of this released crown land should be legislated for use by only by domestic low income, multi-family and semi-detached dwelling projects. Release the land, create jobs to bolster the economy build the affordability back into the housing market across the province. Of BC’s total land base, only 5% is private saleable land, over 90 per cent of the provinces crown owned landholdings are not in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) or have Indigenous Land Claims. The land that is set aside in the ALR could then be saved from residential and commercial construction pressure and put to its best use which is growing our food supply. Removing too much of the provinces best agricultural land in the upper Fraser Valley could impact future ability for food production for the growing population.

This is a viable solution to the issue that doesn’t include band-aids that ultimately create more tax revenue for the government than they do actual good for the citizens they represent.

In summation, the most immediate federal, provincial and municipal cooperation in process is needed to take action and correct the real issues of what is pricing our own young out of living in this province. What are we ultimately building? A healthy prosperous society or a healthy bank account for the already wealthy banks and corporations?

Freddy Marks, together with his daughter Linda Marks, runs Agassiz’s 3A Group Sutton Showcase Realty. He has been a Realtor in Canada and Germany for more than 30 years, and currently lives in Harrison Hot Springs.

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How to handle the explosive–and difficult–Mississauga real estate market – insauga.com




Three years ago, worried first-time homebuyers wondered—for good reason—if they would ever be able to own a home (even a very small one) in the city they grew up in. 

Their fears were legitimate. A lack of housing inventory prompted desperate buyers, some with much deeper pockets than others, to sometimes throw an additional $100,000 (or more) at a seller in order to lock down an already egregiously costly fixer-upper. Buyers were purchasing homes without any conditions (who needs a home inspection?) in order to beat out 10 to 15 other bidders, and realtors were shocked to see dozens—sometimes hundreds—of people converge upon an open house. 

The former Liberal provincial government stepped in with the Fair Housing Plan and pledged to levy a special 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers and speculators in at attempt to thwart investors from purchasing properties and letting them sit empty for years while increasing in value. The federal government also imposed a more rigorous stress test (that it’s now modifying) that required prospective borrowers to qualify at higher than normal rates. 

The legislation worked and buyers backed off, but the cooling was only temporary and outrageous bidding wars and sky-high prices are once again becoming the norm. 

“I had a client in January 2020 and we made an offer on a condo that sold for $472,000 and had five offers,” says Nik Oberoi, a sales representative with Cloud Realty. 

“One property in Mississauga recently had 27 offers. We’re getting five to 10 offers minimum, again.

Competition drives prices—which are already high—higher. Recently, the Toronto Region Real Estate Board (TRREB) released its monthly housing data and revealed that the average house price (all home types combined) in Mississauga hit $782,415 in January 2020.

Evidence suggests the market is heating up because the previous legislation failed to rectify the most significant issue: A lack of available housing.

“A big reason is there are a lot of inventory issues, [even in the condo market]. There aren’t a lot of good units that have been well-kept. We have a lack of inventory and we have more buyers than normal. We have a lot of new immigrants in Mississauga and the GTA and interest rates are low.”

Oberoi says more first-time homebuyers are entering the market because of the federal government’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, which allows buyers to apply for a shared-equity mortgage with the government of Canada. It offers 5 per cent or 10 per cent for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a newly constructed home, 5 per cent for a buyer’s purchase of a resale (existing) home, or 5 per cent for a buyer’s purchase of a new or resale mobile/manufactured home. 

“There are too many buyers right now and it’s a tough time if you’re a buyer,” Oberoi says. 

Oberoi says today’s real estate climate is becoming a repeat of winter 2017. 

“This is happening to everyone. It’s not just happening in Mississauga or the Square One area. It’s happening in Toronto, Barrie, Durham, Oakville, and Burlington. The entry-level price point for one and two-bedroom condos and towns and semis is more attainable for first-time buyers, so competition for these homes is huge. We’re not seeing this with detached houses as much because those have much higher price points.” 

Oberoi says that desperate buyers will purchase condos without looking at the status certificate, which is risky because the certificate can reveal pertinent information on the building’s financial health and whether or not property management is locked in any legal disputes.

But while the market is a challenging one for buyers to navigate, Oberoi says there are steps people can take to help ensure they find what they’re looking for. 

“First thing, get your financing in order. Do not shop unless you have a pre-approval from a reputable lender or bank. If you give a financing condition, the [seller] could pass you over. Do not actively shop without talking to a bank. Think about how confident can you make the seller,” he says.  

“Second, if you want a home inspection, do it before the offer presentation date. It can hold up the offer otherwise. The seller will go with the offer that doesn’t have any hiccups to deal with afterwards.” 

Oberoi also recommends reviewing the status certificate for a condo before moving to buy. 

“If you want to buy a condo, review ahead of time to waive that condition. It’ll make the seller feel more confident. Don’t go into a condo without looking at the certificate. If you love the place and don’t want to lose it, look to see if other properties are selling in that building. If something is wrong, you’ll see a small number of properties being sold.”

Oberoi also says to be prepared to bid over-asking—but only within reason. 

“You have to look at how many offers there are. If there are eight offers, you know it’ll go for more. Every offer adds about $5,000 to the price. So you might have to go $30,000 to $40,000 over asking,” he says.  

“If you want it, you have to be willing to slightly overpay. You save in the long run, because the next seller will want more than what their neighbour sold their unit for, so you mitigate expenses on the next unit that will cost more money. At the same time, know when to stop yourself. If you keep overpaying wildly, you start the bubble. That’s what happens when someone pays a ridiculous price just to win.” 

As for how much is too much to overpay, Oberoi says it depends on what your plan is. 

“If you’re buying for yourself and plan to live in the home for a long time, it’s okay to spend an extra $10,000 or $15,000 [because you will recoup your investment]. If you’re an investor, it’s not a good time to buy because you will be overpaying,” he says.

“Check your emotions and try to be logical about your purchase. People do have more money to spend because of the first-time homebuyer’s incentive. There are more buyers than inventory. It’s not about what the house is worth, it’s what you’re willing to pay.” 

As for what can be done to cool the market and make it easier for buyers to navigate, Oberoi says he’d like to see real estate better regulated. 

“I’d like to see real estate more regulated. Realtors underprice to start bidding wars and we have a responsibility to keep prices in check, especially when we have immigration growth and job growth in the area.”

He also says buyers should work a realtor who knows the market area well. 

“Work with the right realtor. An inexperienced realtor might encourage you to spend more than you need to. Find someone who knows your area, too—don’t use a Scarborough agent to buy a house in Mississauga.”

He also says that it’s important to ask yourself if buying a home is the right choice for you. 

“I believe in homeownership. It’s good that the government is trying to help people [buy homes] and I want more products in place to help people get into the market. It’s another vessel for you to create more freedom and wealth. But I also want people to be able to afford the houses they are living in instead of using credit lines and borrowing from family,” he says.

“We need more education. There are other opportunities for financial freedom, maybe real estate is not right for you right now.”

Despite how heated the market is, Oberoi still believes Mississauga is a good investment for prospective homeowners. 

“There’s a lot of things happening and the city is not stopping. It is a good time to get into the market, but be careful if you’re worried about this chaos. You can buy pre-construction development. We need to keep a close eye on the market and educate people on how to get in but not be stupid. We can’t have 2017 again, that makes more room for a collapse,” he says.  

“If you have a long-term goal in your home, you will not lose money. People who will be affected by shifts and changes will be those who put everything into the house and struggle to pay for other things. Have a long-term goal—don’t buy now if you want to sell next year. This is still a safe market.”

While Oberoi says it’s hard to say whether or not different levels of government will try to cool the market again, he does say that development—which will ultimately increase inventory—is not slowing down. 

“There’s been a lot of real estate buzz since 2016 and that will continue. We’re seeing condo booms in Barrie and Oshawa. The boom has contributed to Hamilton’s growth, now it’s a little less affordable. People are moving as far west as Brantford.”

The best advice, however, is not setting yourself up for disappointment by shopping before you know what you can afford—and accepting that some homes will simply not work for you and your budget.  

“Make sure you can afford the house. If a bank won’t give you a pre-approval, you cannot afford it.”

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