Reading is Fundamental ~ 2020 Articles
Keeping You Informed
Below you will find interesting and useful articles related to the real estate market and lots of helpful tips for home buyers and sellers. Come back often for updates and to stay informed on hot topics. Have a suggestion for an article or topic of interest? Click here to send me an email on what you would like to see featured.
Easy Home Improvement Projects to Do Before the Holidays
Nothing quite says “Happy Holidays” like festive décor and creative DIY projects to freshen up your space. There’s a reason why so many people fill their Pinterest boards with holiday design ideas, after all. While family gatherings may look a little different this year, there are plenty of easy home improvements you can take on before the festive season to incite a little holiday cheer.
Freshen Up the Front Entrance
With social distancing measures in place, you won’t be welcoming carolers to your front porch this year but you can wow your neighbours with a beautiful front-entrance display, complete with bright outdoor lights and a freshly painted front door. Consider adding winter urns with decorative evergreens.
Invest in New Lighting
As darker winter days begin to settle in, there’s no better time to swap your old, outdated light fixtures for brighter, more modern fittings. Focus on the spaces where natural light is limited, like bathrooms, dens, or dining spaces. While you’re at it, why not invest in some LED light bulbs for the rest of your home. Not only are LED bulbs more energy-efficient, they’re brighter than most.
Reimagine Your Fireplace
What could be more comforting and festive than gathering around the fire with your family? Make your fireplace the focal point of your home by remodelling with a new mantel, adding some modern architectural stone, or creating custom built-ins to frame the space. If you don’t have a fireplace, you may want to consider investing in a freestanding electric model.
Let’s reimagine your space!
Together, we can brainstorm clever ideas to redesign and remodel your home to create the most magical holiday season yet.
3 Advantages of the Winter Real Estate Market
You may be wondering if it’s a bad idea to list your home for sale in the winter months because the market is slower. But with the delayed spring market pushing buyer demand into the fall, this year has proven different. In 2020, low inventory in many urban markets coupled with low interest rates have demand outpacing supply. As a result, this has created a hot winter market. It’s looking like the colder weather will bring big advantages to both buyers and sellers.
Most Buyers Aren’t Just Looking
Winter homebuyers tend to be more motivated—especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most people who are looking for a house in the midst of winter are on a deadline—they may have been relocated for work, or they’re taking advantage of time off during the holiday season. Chances are, if they come to see your home in the winter (and during a pandemic), they’re serious buyers.
More Affordable Services
Buying or selling a house is no cheap task. No matter what side of the transaction you’re on, you have to pay REALTORS® , home inspectors, lawyers, and moving companies. The good news is, because the winter season is traditionally slower, you’re more likely to find lower fees and better deals. Moving companies, for example, can offer discounts of as much as 30 per cent off their summer prices.
A Clearer Picture
It may seem like a drawback at first, but if you’re looking at a property in the off-season, the landscaping will be barren and natural light muted. However, if you can fall in love with a house at this time, it can only get better. On the flip side, sellers won’t have as much landscaping to keep up with—but you will have to make sure your driveway and walkways are shovelled and salted for ice.
Are you considering buying or selling your home this winter? I’m here to help you navigate every detail safely and efficiently.
Tending Your Home This Fall
With fall approaching, you'll soon be able to enjoy the spectacular colours of the season and the sounds of leaves crunching under your feet.
To keep your property looking nice during this time and prepare it for the winter, here is a simple fall ‘to-do’ list:
Leaf disposal: Collect leaves in approved bags for collection or take them to assigned dumping areas. Do not burn leaves – this is illegal in most urban areas and can cause home fires.
Roof: Consider having your roof checked by a professional if you suspect any wear and tear or notice missing shingles. Both can severely affect a roof’s effectiveness. Also, make sure your roof and eaves troughs are clear of leaves and debris.
Pipes: Help prevent plumbing freezes and pipe bursts by insulating exposed pipes and turning off the water supply when you are away.
Wood Fireplace: To avoid fire/smoke damage, ensure the damper opens and closes properly. Call a chimney sweeper if your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in over a year.
Making time to care for your home can help you enjoy it even more for years to come. But remember to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season as well. Have a wonderful fall!
National Home Prices Rise Sharply in Second Quarter
According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast, the aggregate* price of a home in Canada increased 6.8 per cent year-over-year to $673,072, in the second quarter. Inventory levels, already constrained pre-pandemic, have failed to keep pace.
“Home prices shot up in the second quarter as a crush of buyers entered the market, attracted by extremely low interest rates and the perception of bargains to-be-had,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. “Across Ontario and Quebec in particular, the demand for housing outpaced the growth in supply, especially in the early weeks post-lockdown. The surge in the number of first-time buyers was felt acutely, as these housing consumers soaked up supply without contributing to it.”
The Royal LePage National House Price Composite is compiled from proprietary property data in 64 of the nation’s largest real estate markets. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a standard two-storey home rose 8.0 per cent year-over-year to $794,392, while the median price of a bungalow increased 3.9 per cent to $550,289. The median price of a condominium increased 5.3 per cent year-over-year to $503,983.
As low rates and pent-up demand face limited housing supply, Royal LePage has revised its forecast slightly upward, with the national aggregate price expected to end 2020 up 2.3 per cent to $663,000 in the fourth quarter compared the same period in 2019.
“COVID-19 shaped the real estate market during the second quarter in every possible way,” said Soper. “As consumers and REALTORS®** complied with April’s shelter-at-home directives and only urgent housing needs were serviced, sales volumes plummeted to one-third of normal in our largest cities. As the reality of extended and potentially permanent work-from-home employment sunk in, people pondered both the location and size of their homes. Simply put, larger homes in smaller communities have become more fashionable. As competition for these properties heats up, bidding wars are more common in what were our quieter cities and towns.”
As home sellers return to the market, inventory levels are expected to rise, relieving the acute upward pressure on home prices that characterized the supply-constrained second quarter of 2020. Uncertainty clouds Canada’s real estate outlook as a lengthy recovery for the Canadian and world economies is expected. The negative impact on home prices should be muted by the balanced nature of Canadian housing, as chronic housing supply shortages offset dampened medium-term demand.
Access the Royal LePage House Price Survey Chart (Canada’s largest 64 housing markets): rlp.ca/houseprices
Access the Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast Chart: rlp.ca/q2-2020-market-forecast
*Royal LePage’s aggregate home price is based on a weighted model using median prices and includes all housing types.
**The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA.
Reflecting On Your Real Estate Goals: Should You Sell Your Home?
While the COVID-19 pandemic presents many challenges, it also brings an opportunity to slow down and reflect. You’ve likely never spent as much time at home as you have in recent months, which begs the question: is your physical space aligned with your current (and future) goals and priorities?
Few decisions will have a bigger impact on your life than selling your home. These three questions will help you gain clarity on the topic:
What do you value about your current property and what’s missing? Make a list of pros and cons regarding the key features of your home and how it fits with your current lifestyle. If change is needed, is renovating a viable option?
How is your current location serving you? Consider the motivation behind moving into your neighbourhood in the first place – are those reasons still valid?
What does your financial picture look like? Are you looking to reduce expenses by downsizing to a smaller, less expensive home? Or has your financial picture improved since you first purchased, presenting an opportunity to capitalize on your investment?
Answering these questions will sharpen your perspective when it comes to deciding whether to stay or sell your home. For more information or help with determining which other questions or areas to consider, give me a call at 416-357-8355.
3 Summer Projects To Increase Your Home's Resale Value
The pandemic may have put a pause on your plans to buy or sell, but it still pays to plan ahead. Investing in the right projects will not only guarantee pay back when it comes time to sell your home, but it will also provide a helpful distraction. Here are three outdoor projects you won’t regret investing in:
Build a deck or patio. A deck or patio not only adds visual interest and enjoyment, it also adds to the resale value of your home. Choose a design that fits with the style of your home (and your budget). Be sure to check your municipal building requirements, as a building permit may be required.
Install a sprinkler system. Automatic lawn sprinkler systems are designed to allow proper irrigation through timing and even water distribution. Although there’s an initial cost of installation, buyers appreciate the chance to save money on hydro bills and potential water damage.
Landscape your property. Planting a garden or building a pond is a great way to add visual interest to an outdoor living space, resulting in a significant return on your investment.
If possible, consult a trained professional before tackling a landscaping project to ensure that your project will result in a sustainable, professional-grade end product.
If you are looking to sell your home, or to concentrate efforts on improvements that will enhance your investment, call me at 416-357-8355 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to chat or schedule a visit to take you through some ideas.
National home prices to show remarkable resilience in 2020
According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast released recently, the aggregate1 price of a home in Canada is expected to remain remarkably stable through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canadian home price forecast scenarios for 2020 largely dependent on pandemic duration
If the strict, stay-at-home restrictions characterizing the fight against COVID-19 are eased during the second quarter, prices are expected to end 2020 relatively flat, with the aggregate value of a Canadian home up a modest 1.0 per cent year-over-year, to $653,800. If the current tight restrictions on personal movement are sustained through the summer, the negative economic impact is expected to drive home prices down by 3.0 per cent ($627,900) year-over-year. In December 2019, Royal LePage forecast the national aggregate price to increase 3.2 per cent by the end of 2020. Due to COVID-19, expected price growth has been revised down almost 70 per cent compared to Royal LePage’s base scenario.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy has been swift and violent, with layoffs driving high levels of unemployment across the country. While it is sad that these people skewed strongly to young and to part-time workers, for the housing industry, the impact of these presumably temporary job losses will be limited as these groups are much less likely to buy and sell real estate,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “From our experience with past recessions and real estate downturns, we are not expecting significant year-over-year price changes in 2020. Home price declines occur when the market experiences sustained low sales volume while inventory builds. Currently, the inventory of homes for sale in this country is very low, matching low sales volumes as people respect government mandates to stay at home.
“It is easy to mistakenly equate a handful of transactions at lower prices to a reset in the value of the nation’s housing stock. Distressed sales that occur during an economic crisis are a poor proxy for real estate value,” said Soper.
The aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 4.4 per cent to $655,276 in the first quarter. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 5.1 per cent year-over-year to $770,005 while the median price of a bungalow and condominium rose 2.1 per cent and 4.4 per cent to $541,040 and $493,917, respectively. Price data, which includes both resale and new build, is provided by Royal LePage’s sister company RPS Real Property Solutions, a leading Canadian valuation company.
Access the Royal LePage House Price Survey Chart (Canada’s largest 64 housing markets): rlp.ca/houseprices.
Access the Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast Chart: rlp.ca/2020-forecast.
1 Royal LePage’s aggregate home price is based on a weighted model using median prices and includes all housing types.
3 Tips to Safely Navigate Home Maintenance During COVID-19
After spending a lot more time around the house, many homeowners have caught the home improvement bug. And while keeping up with home maintenance will guarantee payback when it comes time to sell your home, there are some finer details to consider with the ongoing pandemic.
Change your air filters. COVID-19 has renewed our awareness of just how important healthy air is inside our homes. Changing your air filters is an effective way to improve air and heat circulation in your home and cut down on allergens.
Check your home warranties. Fall is an ideal time to check on the warranties for your furnace or appliances and schedule any required maintenance before things go awry.
Hire a professional if necessary. Some tasks – like cleaning your gutters or repairing the roofs – are best left to professionals. Since home-repair workers were never ordered to put away their tools they have already shifted their business practices with safety in mind. Be sure contractors wear masks and physical distance while in your space, and provide them with the space they need to do their job safely.
If you are looking for additional ideas and tips, or to concentrate efforts on improvements that will enhance your investment, call me at 416-357-8355 or email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to chat or schedule a visit to take you through some ideas.
The New Normal: What to Expect When Buying or Selling
Many parts of our day-to-day lives have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the homebuying experience. But, as is the case with many aspects of our “new normal,” a bit of extra thought and planning goes a long way in making it a safe and positive experience for all parties.
Whether you are in the market to buy or sell, here is what you can expect from the homebuying experience:
Health and safety is a top priority
When selling your home, ask your REALTOR® about the added precautions being taken to clean and disinfect before each showing. Though high-touch surfaces should get extra attention, consider opening all interior doors, including closets, and leaving lights on to minimize the need for guests to touch surfaces in your home. Alternatively, if you are attending a tour in person, remember to sanitize and/or hand wash before entering and upon exiting the home.
Respect social distancing
Whether you are meeting your REALTOR® at a property or ushering your family out the door between showings, be sure to respect social distancing recommendations for anyone outside of your bubble. When attending a showing with your REALTOR®, remember to stand two metres apart.
Eliminate unnecessary viewings by working with your REALTOR® to learn as much as you can about the home before your visit. Plan to limit viewings only to those who will be parties to the contract. You can still involve your family and friends by inviting them along on a virtual tour of the property.
For additional advice on how to best navigate this new normal, don't hesitate to reach out to me by calling me at 416-357-8355 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19: What you should know
The real estate industry is no stranger to change. When it comes to navigating unpredictable market shifts and technological disruptions, the market always finds a way to evolve and adapt. This became more clear when real estate was named an “essential service” during the COVID-19 pandemic in several provinces across Canada. Despite all the uncertainty, one fact remains: buying and selling homes is a necessity for many Canadians coast to coast.
Still, this isn’t “business as usual,” and there’s no way we will come out of this unchanged. Here are three ways COVID-19 is impacting the real estate market:
- Greater emphasis on virtual tours. People were already buying and selling homes online before the pandemic, but delivering a memorable first impression digitally is becoming more valuable than ever. The convenience and safety offered by virtual tours make them a high priority for both buyers and sellers.
- Ongoing enhancements to real estate services has resulted in a user experience that couldn’t be imagined five years ago. From cool tools on royallepage.ca to completing transactional documents online, it’s never been easier to buy or sell a property from the comfort of your own home.
- Health and safety is a priority. The rules of social distancing have shown us how resourceful we can be from afar. Digital signatures on offers and video calls with clients continue to become the norm.
Feng Shui Your Space
Every home office space has the potential to help us stage our own success, and now in the current climate that we're in, more employers are providing work from home options, so having that well crafted home office space is just as important as every other room in your home.
Here are eight ways to Feng Shui your home office to stay productive and successful while enjoying a well designed room you'll be spending a good part of your day in.
Assume the power position. The ideal placement for a desk is to face the doorway – a little off to the side instead of directly in line with the door. Ideally, when arranging an office, we want the solid support of a wall or heavy furniture behind us, like it’s “got our back.” This also allows you to see anyone entering your space.
Have your own back. A high-back chair says executive; a lower-back chair suggests managerial. In fact, these are often the design terms for filtering the stylistic difference – so choose accordingly.
Boost support. Horizontal patterns and shapes hold energy in place so use this to your advantage when starting a new project or job. Hang horizontal art and use square baskets or trays as a catch all. If you have an affinity for stripes, make sure they run horizontally to unify your energy.
Keep clutter off the floor. Whether or not the Feng Shui belief that a messy floor weighs down new business holds any truth, it is also a tripping hazard.
Climb the career ladder. Flank tall bookcases behind your desk, if possible. In addition to being a form of protection and support, their shape suggests upward mobility.
Go the distance. An open landscape print on a facing wall brings in nature and can be liberating.
Find your flow. Moving water represents prosperity, abundance, and steady flow. You can bring this idea in with actual water: fresh flowers, a fountain, a coffee maker, or even imagery of moving water. Make sure the water moves into your space. If the water “flows” toward the door, so will all that potential.
Clear the desk every day. When a workspace is bogged down by paperwork, guess how we feel? Always leave your desk looking organized at the end of the day. Take one guess as to what ritual top entrepreneurs around the world have in common? Yep… a clean desk!
If you are looking for additional ideas and tips, or to concentrate efforts on improvements that will enhance your investment, call me at 416-357-8355 or email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to chat or schedule a visit to take you through some ideas.
Savings for Summer
Now’s the time to prevent costly repairs and energy leaks; take time to examine your home’s exterior and you’ll save when summer heat hits.
Roof and gutters. Clean drains, gutters, and downspouts to keep those April showers from pooling near your foundation. Replace missing or loose shingles and check for any damage that may spread or cause weakness.
Windows and doors. Check that seals are tight and there are no cracks, tears, or gaps in caulking or weather-stripping that allow your refrigerated air to escape.
Dryer vent. Keep the airway clear by temporarily removing the vent cover located outside the house; vacuum all debris.
AC unit. Turn off the power to the outside unit, then get it ready to handle the summer workload. Clear away any plant or weed growth. Hose off or vacuum the condenser’s sides. If you haven’t had an inspection for a season or two, call your local HVAC professional to check parts and connections.
A few tiny efforts can make a world of difference for your energy bill and maximize efficiency.
Spring Cleaning 101: Freshen Up, Reduce Allergies
During the winter thaw, indoor upkeep is as important as prepping your garden for spring. Freshen rooms, remove allergens, and brighten the look of these five areas:
Windows and treatments: While cleaning glass, wipe grime from sills and frames. Take this opportunity to wash drapes and remove dust from blinds.
HVAC vents: Thoroughly vacuum and dust these areas. If anyone in your household has severe allergies or asthma, consider hiring a professional duct cleaning service to remove buildup that can encourage mould growth and dust mites.
Furniture and walls: Wipe down walls and use a small brush to clean accent areas where dirt hides. Spot clean hard-to-reach places and previously unseen splatters, crayon markings, and grease marks.
Carpets and upholstery: Floor coverings need regular attention from your vacuum – sweep up “dust bunnies” and cobwebs from every corner and mop any exposed flooring. Carefully apply sprays or cleaning products to remove stains (after testing in an inconspicuous area). It may also be time for a thorough shampooing – rent a professional machine to sanitize the padding underneath and remove moisture.
Ceiling Fans: Dust blades before turning them on – otherwise, you might undo all the work you’ve done cleaning the rest of the room!
Unseen allergy irritants and mould can reduce a home’s value. Make an annual date to “detail” your house, you’ll keep it in prime condition for years to come.
Moving Out? Try These Packing Tips
Enjoy your new home by making unpacking as stress-free as possible!
Important papers and belongings with sentimental value should be collected and set aside. Paint and chemicals can be hazardous to box and put on a moving truck. Designate a special area to store these items as it is best to transport them yourself, if possible.
Don’t make the mistake of letting everything get loaded on the truck in a random order. Even if you label the boxes, there’s no guarantee the items you need first will be accessible once your movers are done. Mark them as “last on/first off.” These would include bed linens and pillows, kitchen supplies, dishes, cups and cutlery, and bathroom necessities.
Take the extra step of using coloured labels or stickers to mark which ones are priority for unpacking. This will help you get started after you’re in your new place. Also, when wrapping delicates, put a piece of coloured tissue paper around smaller items. This will prevent you from accidentally tossing something tiny when you’re unwrapping bigger breakables.
Even if you’re moving liquids yourself, create an extra barrier by sealing them with plastic wrap, then securing lids and caps tightly on top. This tip can prevent spillage onto more expensive items.
For more tips and a handy moving checklist, call me at 416-357-8355 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for your free copy!
Home Prices in Canada Increased 2.2% in Q4 2019
According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey, the aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 2.2 per cent year-over-year to $648,544 in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Similar to the third quarter, potential buyers are continuing to come back to the real estate market. In the first half of 2019, buyers had remained largely at the sidelines waiting to gauge the potential impact of the federal mortgage stress test.
“The federal government has signaled that changes could come to the mortgage stress test mechanism in 2020,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “The stress test pushed people out of real estate markets across Canada temporarily. For the most part, buyers have adjusted, yet it still represents a significant hurdle as families pursue the dream of owning their own home.”
Soper added that the impact of the regulations-driven drop in demand is felt very differently in different parts of the country.
“We believe policy makers have the necessary experience to modify the tool to meet the reality of today’s Canada – that we have very different and varied economies, and by extension housing policy needs, from region to region,” said Soper.
The Royal LePage National House Price Composite is compiled from proprietary property data in 64 of the nation’s largest real estate markets. When broken out by housing type, the median price of a two-storey home rose 2.3 per cent year-over-year to $761,817, while the median price of a bungalow increased modestly by 0.7 per cent to $537,622.
Across Canada, condominiums remained the fastest appreciating housing type, with the median price rising 3.3 per cent year-over-year to $487,525. Largely, condominium data is weighted towards the country’s largest urban centres where the majority of them are found. The median price of a condominium rose 7.8 per cent year-over-year to $565,919 in the Greater Toronto Area and 4.4 per cent year-over-year in the Greater Montreal Area to $338,148 during the fourth quarter. However, national price gains were offset by year-over-year declines in Greater Vancouver’s real estate market where the median price of a condominium decreased 3.4 per cent to $645,607.