Where the Top Buyers Shop

Did you know that international buyers are willing to pay more for a home (especially a second home) abroad, but the location has to be just right? It’s true! World cities like Toronto, London and even New York are considered prime, recession proof locations – plus the chance for appreciation is that much better.

“No Safe Place Like Home”

When it comes to buying luxury homes, buyers need to know that they have liquidity – buying desirable homes in the top locations means that if they need to sell they’ll be able to. Even 5 years ago at the height of the recession, desirable homes were able to sell. But it’s not just about hard investing, it’s also about homes being a status symbol.

What Are They Looking For?

It depends on the buyer, say experts. Russian buyers, for example, are looking to expand their portfolio outs of the country. They may already have a home in Moscow, a home in the country to retire to on those long, sunny days – but a second home just outside of Toronto could be a real status symbol.

The same goes for international buyers hailing from China. Many have exhausted their local options – with a domestic market that’s slowing every day, a currency that’s not only rising in value but rising in favour, a second home in Canada is a great status symbol. These buyers may be motivated by culture to pick addresses with lucky numbers (and adversely avoid those that contain unlucky ones!), but they’re still searching for a status symbol.

India and buyers hailing from the Middle East are also on the rise. With Canada’s growing profile, many professionals are attracted to the success and want to establish permanent homes here. Buyers streaming in from the US and Latin America, in much smaller numbers than the other groups, are the upwardly mobile. They’re searching for luxury properties in high interest areas, willing to pay top dollar for them.

Highly Motivated Buyers

A recent survey of international buyers showed that more than half tend to buy regionally, especially in their own countries. The other half, the half that’s motivated to go out of their country or region to buy a home, are the ones you’re most likely to encounter when buying or selling a home. They will drive home sale prices up for the right property, and since they’re usually in town just to buy they’ll go through the circuit to find the home that’s right for them.

If you’re buying or selling a home in the Greater Toronto Area (especially Oakville, one of the GTAs fastest growing communities), you’re going to have a lot of contact with international buyers. We can show you how to get them interested in your property, and we can show you how to get the property you want when it comes time to buy. Buying a luxury home is stressful enough – why make it harder than it has to be? Contact us today and see what we can do for you!

Would You Buy a Haunted House?

With Halloween recently behind us, some of us still have spooky stuff on our minds. Every area has a home that people believe to be haunted – but it’s no surprise that most buyers won’t consider buying a haunted home. A quarter of buyers would consider it for the novelty factor, but 74% of buyers would either be on the fence or flat out refuse: where do you fall? Are there any tricks in a realtor’s tool kit that helps them sell these homes? Let’s check it out!

Spooktacular Savings

Okay, that one was corny and we’re big enough to admit it – but if you were buying a “haunted” house, how much savings would you expect to see? According to those polled:

  • 12% would be willing to pay market price or MORE for the privilege of living in a spooky home.
  • 34% would expect a slight discount of 1%-30%
  • 22% would expect a large discount of 31% to 50%
  • 19% expected a humongous discount of 51%+

That’s a huge range of people. But what constitutes a “haunted house” anyway?

The Happening

So just about anything can constitute a haunting, but here’s a rundown of “too creepy” things that will deter homebuyers:

Levitating Objects: 75% Wouldn’t Buy Does your home have a history of things floating in the air? You’re going to have a hard time selling the home – but you could make a decent go of it with tours around Halloween!

Objects Moving Around: 63% Wouldn’t Buy We’ll chalk this one up more to forgetfulness than frightening spirits, but this is one of the top reasons people won’t buy – if only to avoid the pain of not being able to find their favorite coffee mug or car keys.

Ghost Sightings: 63% Wouldn’t Buy Yes, even if it’s just a rumor, 2/3rds of home buyers will avoid a home with ghost sightings.

Weird Noises: 60% Wouldn’t Buy Most of this can be chalked up to older homes settling… or homebuyers trying to get a nice little discount off a squeaky older home!

Selling a Haunted House

Let’s just say, as a thought experiment, that your home was perceived as haunted. What can you do to sell it?

Focus on the Interesting Architecture: Older homes usually have interesting features that you just don’t find in newer ones! Sure, there may be some strange noises as the home settles more and more into the foundation, but all of that natural charm can draw interest from a dozen directions!

Focus on Historical Significance: How long as your home stood the test of time? If these walls could talk, imagine the stories that they would tell. Keeping in mind that homes aren’t just four walls and a roof, that they’re representations of status and stages in life, you can turn it to your benefit.

While we don’t have any haunted homes to show you, we can help you sell or find the home you’ll love. Contact us today and see what the Goodale Miller Team can do for you.

What would you find “haunting”? Chime in below!

Fall into Fall: Ontario’s Top Romantic Destinations

Fall is finally here and with real estate season going into high gear, it’s time to start thinking about getting away! You don’t have to book a flight to Paris or NYC to have a great time away from home – all you have to do is choose your destination, grab your partner and go! Here we’re going to talk about some of the top romantic getaways that are just around the corner, so let’s get started!

Helpful Tip: You’re aiming for luxury, not pretention. You’re looking for the entire package. Your destination needs to have the best meals, beautiful guestrooms, spa services and maybe even some activities (or lack thereof – if that’s what you’re going for!) that you’re interested in.

Taboo

Taboo on Lake Muskoka is a beautiful place for couples to be close to the water all year long, go skiing and spend time together. It boasts a 5,000 square foot spa, a restaurant with multi-course tasting menus and even a culinary theatre where you can watch the chefs at work! While this isn’t a pretentious resort, you will have to dress up for dinner.

Langdon Hall

Here you’ll find the star treatment and the signature Old World beauty of Langdon Hall. Winner of numerous awards online and in prestigious publications, here you’ll be able to indulge yourself without the guilt! With King sized featherbeds, 1600 bottles of wine to choose from, haute cuisine that runs the gamut, free wine tastings on Saturday afternoons and even cooking demos on Sundays – there’s so many reasons to stay the whole weekend through.

Millcroft Inn

One of the best vintage boutique hotels hands down, the Millcroft Inn offers a beautiful rustic experience year round. Best visited in the fall and winter, you’ll have your choice of distractions. Choose romantic, antiqued quarters or rustic chalets – but almost every room has wood burning fireplaces and some come equipped with their very own private, outdoor hot tubs. With a 9,000 square foot spa, executive chef, and a stunning 180° three quarter view of Shaw’s Creek Falls at the fantastic Headwaters Restaurant.

This is the perfect time of year to relax and reconnect with your partner – just make sure that the destination that you choose is the one that’s right for you! While some may relish an environment that shuns TV and mobile phones, it may not be the best for those of us who are workaholics and vice versa. Always do your research, explore your options and know what you’re getting into.

While we can’t help you book the perfect hotel, we can make the hunt for the right home that much easier. Want to make the buying or selling process for your luxury home that much easier? Give us a call today and experience the difference that the Goodale Miller Team can make.

Looking for a Tax Credit? Donated Those Old Air Miles

Did you know that you can donate your unused loyalty reward points to bring down just how much you owe at the end of the year – and the more you give, the more you save. If you have miles or points on a card you know you’re never going to get around to using, it might be time to donate ‘em and actually get rewards you can use, like a lower tax bill in 2014.

Did You Know: Only specific loyalty programs allow you to transfer your points, so choose wisely! We’ll have a quick list later on, so check it out.

Going for a Small Gift

Maybe you have multiple cards with less than $200 worth of miles on them (each can be valued differently, so make sure you get receipts from your chosen charity after you transfer your points!) or maybe you just need a tax write off. It’s the end of the year and it’s just around the corner, so it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about it now.

If you give $0 to $200, you’ll receive a 15% tax credit.  Again, you’ll need to make sure that you get a receipt from your chosen charity to prove your generous donation.

Who Lets You Donate Points?

Only select cards allow you to donate points, let’s check them out!

  • Air Miles Reward Program
  • AIMIA (Aeroplan)
  • Esso Extra
  • Petro Points
  • Shoppers Optimum
  • HBC Rewards
  • Club Sobeys

Most of these cards are limited to select charities and they may charge you a small fee (anywhere from $20-$30 to $.10 per mile) to transfer the points. You’ll want to also remember that your points can expire in as a little as a year, so it’s good to make a habit of donating those dusty ol’ points at the end of the year.

Did You Know: 92% of Canadians are members of at least one loyalty program? You can actually pass points on to heirs or to charity in most cases, don’t be afraid to ask your card issuer what options are available to you.

Larger Rewards, Larger Write-Offs

If you’re a first time donor giving anywhere from $200 to $1,000 in rewards points, you can earn anywhere from 40% and 54% – but only if this is the first time you’re donating reward points.

Luckily when it comes to donating points, you’ll only be able to donate them to licensed, registered charities. This means you won’t end up getting tricked by some scheme to donate them to a fake charity – though if you’re trying to donate to a charity that isn’t registered, you may be able to work with the card issuer to get it done.

While we can’t help you pick the right charity to donate all those unused, soon to expire rewards points to, we can help you find a beautiful new home or sell the one you’ve outgrown. Give us a call today and see the difference the Goodale Miller Team can make for you!

Easy Winter Travel Tips for This Year

Let’s face it, winter travel is rarely easy – but this season is promising to be a bit trickier than normal! With fewer flights running across North America, the usual snow storms and overbooked holiday flights with outrageous fares, it’s important to know when the best time to travel is!

And while we can’t exactly book you your next flight, taking a little break from house hunting or selling your home in the winter months when the market isn’t exactly booming is always a great idea. Let’s get started.

Know Where the Deals Are

Deals just aren’t for travelers looking for the cheapest way to get home – it just makes good sense. Most of the deals in North America revolve around American holidays, so it’s good to know when they are to get the right deals.

Mid-January Best to Fly – When it comes to island vacations or just flights in general, the best prices will come in the last three weeks of January and the first half of February; most don’t fly during this time of year – but you won’t be able to book the good prices for these flights until the second week of November. If you’re looking at skiing, you’re better off just going around Christmas instead.

First Two Weeks of December – From about the 3rd of December to the 15th you’ll find all kinds of deals, and not just on flights either. You’ll beat the holiday rush crowd and could pay as little as half of what you would on either side of those dates.

Book in December for Valentine’s – Looking for the best rooms and flights, but always seem to miss the window? You’ll want to start looking at reservations in late November, early December.

Cheaper European Flights

This year you’ll be able to fly to London, Oslo and Stockholm for much cheaper than in recent years, but you may have a tough time finding an affordable flight to Spain or Athens. You’re going to want to book ahead of time and search for non-stop flights, avoiding anything with too many connections. The more plains that are in the chain the more you’re going to have to pay.

It’s All About Timing

You’ll want to make sure that your timing is perfect – or at the very least close to it.

Fly in the Mornings – The earlier you fly, the less likely you are to face troublesome delays; likewise, try to make sure that your plane isn’t landing at primetime (7pm to 10pm) to avoid getting stuck on the tarmac for too long.

Book Your Seat – Make sure you know where you’re sitting ahead of time – if you don’t have an assigned seat you’re more likely to get bumped when they overbook the plane.

Just like preventing winter travel snafus, buying or selling luxury homes is all about preparation and having the right agent. If you’d like to know more about what we can do for you, or you’re just trying to figure out if now is the right time to buy or sell a home, give us a call today!

How to Research Your Home’s History

Have you ever wondered what your home looked like when it was built? Who has lived here, is there any historical significance? Maybe you want to learn more about the home you’re already in or maybe you’re trying to learn a bit about a luxury home you want to buy – but how?! Here we’re going to show you how to research the history and style of your home.

Did You Know: The more you know about the history of your home, the better decisions you’ll be able to make about listing it, decorating and renovating it? It’s true!

Uncovering Your Home’s Architectural Style

Uncovering your home’s original architectural style is a great way to learn about the history of the house. Once you know what the style is, you’ll be able to figure out what the home’s original features and colour palette and choose your renovations more wisely.

Need to find your home’s style? Click here to check out this handy reference guide.

Talk to the Neighbours

When in doubt, have a chat with the neighbours. This may not be ideal (especially if you’ve got a luxury estate with no neighbours around!), but if you can have a chat with them, you should. They’ll be able to tell you about what changes, if any, have been made to the home.

They might even be able to tell you anything of historical value about the home (this can be especially important if you’re trying to learn something about older luxury homes before you buy). Make sure you stick with neighbours that have lived in the area for a while to get the best information.

Searching for Clues

You might be amazed at how easy it is to uncover some of the original details of your home. You’ll want to look around and take pictures – that weird light fixture in the hallway and the strange moulding in the dining room could all be clues! Here is a quick list of things to look out for:

v  Lighting

v  Floorboards and Moulding

v  Hardware

v  Cabinetry

v  Floorboards

v  Windows

A smart craftsman will be able to replicate old details of your home and bring them back to life.

Researching Your Home’s History

If you’re not content with guessing and hearsay, it’s time to level up to researching the history of your home on your own! Most information out there is in regards to genealogy, but you’ll be amazed at how far records can go back – you may even find out interesting stuff about the land your home (or future home) is built on – and all the homes that came before it! Check out these resources:

Ontario Land and Property Records

Ontario Ministry of Government Services (search for land archives)

Trying to learn a bit more about the home you already own or one you’d like to buy? We can help! Everyone on the Goodale Miller Team has been living and working in the Oakville luxury real estate market for years and we can help you understand not only the history of homes, but the actual value. Contact us today and see what we can do for you.

Tips and Tricks for a Seller’s Market

If you’re thinking about selling on your own without a realtor, you’re in for a bumpy ride – but like the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Hopefully, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Here we’re going to talk about how you can overcome all the challenges of selling your own home, all without giving a realtor that 5% commission.

Tabular Rasa: An Empty Space is a Happy Space

From all those property flipping shows you might think that you need to dress up your home with tens of thousands of furnishings and fresh flowers… but you don’t.

If you want to sell your home, start by giving it a good scrub! A clean home free of clutter will attract more buyers than a home that’s been stuffed to the brim with your great-aunt Mimi’s antique vases.

Full home staging is always an option, but you’ll want to work closely with a staging professional or interior designer to make sure you’re projecting the right impression to homebuyers that will breeze through your open house.

A Picture is a Worth a Thousand Words

And a bad picture is worth thousands of dollars in potential loss. There’s nothing wrong going the DIY route to sell your home, but you need to know that you’re putting your best face forward.

This means hiring a professional photographer with the proper equipment (lighting, DSLR, meters, the whole enchilada) and a portfolio of homes they’ve helped sell. Expect to spend hundreds of dollars on a real photographer – and expect to see thousands of dollars in returns.

Hire a Listing Agent

So you don’t want to work with a realtor to sell your home – that’s fine. But you still want to pop up in the MLS listings when buyers are browsing online.

Just beware the fact that even if you do pay a listing agent to put you on the MLS, many realtors will refuse to show your home to their clients. The last thing they’ll want is for their clients to get funny ideas in their head about doing it on their own.

But some will, and those realtors will bring all kinds of wonderful people to check out what you have to offer. Also think about paying a buyer’s agent commission – it gives realtors an extra incentive to work with you.

How Much is it Worth?

When you’re doing it on your own, how much you price your home is all up to you.

Wonderful.

But there are a few different ways you can figure out how much your home is worth. You can hire two appraisers (yes, two!) to evaluate your property, and you can look at the homes around you to figure out what the average price is in your neighbourhood.

But the most important thing is to ask yourself if you can really do this. Can you afford to spend an extra 20 hours each week to selling your home? In the end, will the 2.5% you save be worth all that hard work, all those sleepless nights, all the guesswork on your asking price to maybe save a little money?

Probably not.

But a little research ahead of time will help you understand what you’re getting into and if this is really what’s right for you. Talk to a realtor, talk to a property specialist, look at your neighbourhood and how fast the homes are flying off the market, then go from there.

The Goodale Miller Team is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 11 years running.  Specializing in Oakville luxury real estate including Lakefront homes, infill building lots, condominiums and more. You can visit their website here.

Will MLS Have to Open Up to Online Competitors?

The war between the Toronto Real Estate Board and the Competition Bureau in Ottawa seems to be heating up. A Federal Court of Appeal recently ruled that an earlier dismissal of allegations by a tribunal last April was in error, opening up yet another door for online competitors to have a shot at the MLS.

The Toronto Real Estate Board claims that it can’t open the MLS listings to online competitors because of privacy issues, while their competitors online say that TREB is just trying to quash competition. Either way, things could change for the better (or worse, depending on what side you’re on) very soon.

Eroding Safeguards or Protecting Privacy?

The Toronto Real Estate Board claims that it can’t release all of the information in the MLS because it contains “pertinent and revealing personal information” that could be misused and abused – even leading to identity theft.

Many experts say that the whole commission is completely unnecessary – if anything, they could release all the information they wanted directly to consumers through the Land Registry System. The records go above and beyond anything in the MLS when it comes to price history on properties, all private sales, new home sales and more. Every real estate in Ontario is in the database, and all of that information could be at consumer’s fingertips within months if they opened it to the public.

What Would Benefit Consumers More?

Knowledge is power, no matter how you look at it, and the more a buyer knows about a property before they really get their hopes up the better.

If you take a quick look at the MLS information displayed on US websites like Trulia, you’ll find out the latest sale price, how many times the home has been sold – all without having to call a realtor. The US has a higher rate of for sale by owner sales, which may be due in part to having access to so much information.

Real estate transaction information is power too, especially when you’re the only ones with access to it. While it may be in part due to privacy reasons, it’s also a great reason to keep the competition at bay. If you can only get detailed transaction information from your realtor or real estate agent, you’re going to have to work through them.

MLS Data Still Restricted

Even after the Toronto Real Estate Board made some concessions last year that opened up some of the information to the public, much of the MLS data is still restricted. Detailed information about sale prices, sale history and land information can be impossible to come by – and while this could be fixed by opening up the Land Registry System to the public, the MLS is still, for some, fair game.

So what benefits consumers more? Should they open the LRS and the MLS for the public, or could that open the door to identity fraud? Is ease of access to information more important that privacy and security?

The Goodale Miller Team is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 11 years running.  Specializing in Oakville luxury real estate including Lakefront homes, infill building lots, condominiums and more. For a listing of luxury homes for sale in the Oakville area visit their homes for sale page here: http://www.goodalemillerteam.com/Homes.aspx

The Race for Space: Office Boom, Retail Explosion on the Horizon

Traditional office parks and strip malls may be going the way of the dodo, but the rise of retail therapy and top of the line office spaces will be the trend to watch in 2014.

With so much condo construction rounding up this year and the next, it’s no surprise that retail is following right behind. All those new homeowners are going to need places to eat, drink and shop – and with that comes new jobs and more prosperity.

“Retail Follows Rooftops”

But with more condos being built and sold than detached homes, it’s more like retail following elevators instead. All of those condo buyers have to have somewhere to eat, somewhere to shop. Even major retailers are starting to build multilevel stores in tight, urban environments that follow suit of multi-level dwellings.

Even with the explosive growth in online shopping, Canadians still prefer big box (and small box!) shops on a day to day basis. Think about it, how often do you trek to Ikea or Costco when you could get that online? There are few things in life worse than paying shipping both ways for something that you could have got on a 15 minute drive to a local shop, instead.

Two Storey Urban Stores the New Normal

Walmart, Home Depot and other big box shops are moving towards building storefronts that are multi-level. Gone are the days with stores that sprawled for miles end to end and here come the two and three storey Walmarts that follow the elevators in the race to the top.

How high will they go? No one knows.

But there are only so many square feet in our cities, it’s only logical that even retail should begin its spire skyward. With the way we work, live and play constantly changing, retail has to follow suit.

Office Workers Need Less Space, More Retail

With more workers telecommuting from home, the needs of office space are changing. Many of those old office parks just don’t cut it anymore; too far from transit lines and out in the suburbs, they just don’t attract the young, innovative minds that want to live and work in the city.

A few recent studies have shown that you only need 150 sq. ft. per worker, and with many offices using collaborative huddles and “hot desking” (multiple shifts use the same desk and just trade off when the next shift begins), the need for those vast open spaces meant to be packed with cubicles just don’t cut it anymore.

Better yet, most companies have seriously reduced the amount of in-house personnel; it’s been suggested that older office spaces be transformed into condos and multi-family dwellings for rent to put all that real estate to use.

Either way, 2014 promises to be a year of great change, especially for Canada’s urban centres. While a 5 storey Walmart may be a long way off, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. Strange days are ahead, indeed.

The Goodale Miller Team is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 11 years running.  Specializing in Oakville luxury real estate including Lakefront homes, infill building lots, condominiums and more. For a listing of luxury homes for sale in the Oakville area visit their homes for sale page here: http://www.goodalemillerteam.com/Homes.aspx

Why Second Homes are Getting Smaller and Smaller

When it comes to second homes for the affluent, you’re going to come across a lot of luxury homes for sale – especially small ones! But why is that? Here we’re going to talk about why smaller homes are showing up in some of the most exclusive communities and what you can do to make sure you snag one. Always remember, you really do get what you pay for, so if you see something about a timeshare or a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you work with a luxury realtor that understands the area, the market and your needs as a buyer before you put down money on a home.

Less is More When it Comes to Oakville Real Estate

While most of us have gotten used to bigger and bigger homes, sometimes less is more! Many Baby Boomers are looking for homes that are more manageable, economical, and in better locations. This is like many developers to build smaller 1500 ft.² or less homes in resort areas – places where exclusivity is at a premium, but there’s just no bigger lots left to build on. They’re targeting the “spendthrift affluent”; this might seem a little bit of a misnomer, but more and more people are realizing that they have to save something if they want to be comfortable in retirement.

Built to Ease Tension

The reason that these new homes are smaller, however, isn’t just about saving money. Many resorts and exclusive communities are trying to find ways to maximize profits by selling more land, but without upsetting current residents who paid much more for their property. These may be billed as “retirement cottages”, “vacation cottages”, or vacation houses; but whatever they’re called they do pretty much the same thing: provide desirable housing in desirable locations without upsetting current owners and their property values.

Smaller Homes Don’t Bring Down Sales Prices

Imagine if you paid $1.5 million for your home: you probably wouldn’t be very happy with somebody paying $500,000 next-door, would you? By selling smaller homes near beautiful golf courses and amenities, developers are able to get the most bang for their buck without freaking people out. First-generation homes appraisal values remain high, new people get to move into the area, and the developers make more money. Everyone pretty much wins in this situation.

Cabins and Cottages the Thing to Watch

With more and more Canadians getting into the real estate game, especially the luxury real estate and luxury homes for sale market, cabins and cottages may just be the thing to watch. Baby Boomers want to maintain the current level of amenities that they’ve become accustomed to, and they’re not going to go gently into the dark night of the nursing home either. Talking with a luxury realtor or luxury real estate agent in your area can help you understand the investment opportunities locally and nationally. Make sure you do your research, understand the risks, and talk with a professional before you think about investing.

By Brad Miller of The Goodale Miller Team. Goodale Miller, located in Oakville, Ontario is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 8 years running, specializing in Oakville luxury real estate.  To learn more visit http://www.goodalemillerteam.com