Should a Changing Climate Change How You Buy Real Estate?

Across the internet homebuyers are on edge – should you buy a home near a lake or ocean, or will that be gone in 20 years? If you’ve watched The Weather Network lately you know that climate panic can be a very real thing, but you need to be able to separate out the hype from the facts.

Yes, the climate is changing and parts of Canada are seeing a drastic uptick in the amount of severe weather events, but looking at things objectively will help you make the right decision for you.

Rising Sea Levels Are a Concern

But not as big a concern as you might think. The levels are expected to rise over the next century, not the next decade.

Climate change can be a tricky subject to cover, but everyone has their worries. If you check out the latest projects from the International Panel on Climate Change sea levels are changing by inches, not by feet, and that’s over large periods of time.

Environment Canada has some great charts and graphs on the changes on their website (just google environment Canada climate change and you’ll find all kinds of great materials).

Flood Risks Don’t Just Happen Along the Coast or Lakefront

Every buyer needs to keep in mind that a 25 year mortgage can be a long time – and an area that wasn’t prone to flooding, severe weather or even wind storms and cold snaps a quarter of a century ago may experience them years later. We live in a changing world, and nothing ever stays the same.

Regional temperatures across Canada have been warmed anywhere from .7C to 2.5C above normal in the last two years, and that means risk of floods and other severe weather can increase – especially in areas where that hasn’t been seen before.

But it all boils down to understanding your risks and assessing whether or not it’s worth it. Sure,

25 Years is a Long Time

Again, most people are choose the max of 25 years for their mortgage, and that’s a long time. While Northern Ontario probably isn’t going to turn into a tropical paradise anytime soon, it’s important to remember that things do change. Buying on the outskirts of Vancouver today could put you smack in the heart of downtown 20 years from now.

But buying a home on the lake today will probably net you even more of a return tomorrow, say real estate experts. Even with a changing climate, people like to be close to the water, they like living with mature trees, and they like nice big outdoor spaces.

Instead of fretting about climate change, start looking at what environmental risk factors your property or property you want to buy faces. Is the house sitting on top of a one-time coal mine? Are they building a Sriracha Asian hot sauce plant a mile away, why are the sellers selling? What do you need to know before you buy? Make sure you do your research and find out!

The Goodale Miller Team, based in Oakville, Ontario, is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 11 years running.  To learn more visit http://www.goodalemillerteam.com

Toronto: Canada’s Leader in High-Rise Construction

Even with the home market stabilizing, Toronto is still leading the CONTINENT in high-rise construction. There are actually so many projects going on right now in Toronto that there are more cranes up in the city than the rest of the nation combined.

That’s a lot of cranes!

It all starts with home starts that were started (say that 20 times really fast) back in 2011, 2012 and last year. Many of these projects are nearing completion, which means that housing is about to get a whole lot more affordable across the GTA.

But what does this mean for the rest of Canada? What will happen to all those jobs once construction starts to slow down? Who does all this construction really benefit, anyway?

Toronto The North American Leader in High Rise Construction

There are more cranes up in Toronto today than anywhere else in Canada – and that’s saying something. The last few years construction has boomed across the Greater Toronto Area, leading to more jobs, more homes and greater prosperity.

In fact, Southern Ontario today has some of the wealthiest cities and best ranked places to live across Canada and some of the northern United States.

What it boils down to though is that as long as the construction industry continues to boom, so will Canada. Many experts are concerned that with rising interest rates, home affordability issues and slowing construction over the next two years the boom could be over. Only time will tell.

New York City Second, Montreal Third

New York City ranked second in North America, while Montreal was an extremely close third. New York began to pick up construction in high rise residential towers and buildings back in 2012 and 2013, and it’s expected to exceed Toronto’s capacity as the number one high-rise boom city by 2016.

But, like everything else in real estate, anything could happen. Aliens could invade, the demand for residential and commercial construction could both bottom out, people might decide they’d rather live in the desert in domes made of detritus.

When it comes to these kinds of things anything is possible – probably not probable, but totally within the realm of possibility. Either way, Toronto is on the road to meeting the extraordinary high demand for housing and both NYC and Montreal are playing catch up.

Majority of All High-Rise Construction Residential Buildings

Today the majority of high rise construction is residential buildings – and while commercial high rise construction is on the decline across most of North America (even occupancy has dropped in the double digits), Toronto is one of the few cities on the continent that can make it work.

New residential construction accounts for 70% of the cranes up across the GTA today. Not counting cranes and looking at remodeling and reconstruction, many commercial buildings are being reconfigured for modern use (floors of cubicles transformed into open working spaces, etc.)

Either way, Toronto is expected to stay the construction leader in high-rise development for some time to come.

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

Have Condo, Will Sell: Why the Busy Condo Market is Saving Canadian Real Estate

It’s no secret that single-family homes across Canada are hard to find – so much so that condos are booming again. Just a few months ago every armchair economist and supposed real estate “expert” was talking about how the glut of condos in the market would crash the Canadian real estate market for good.

But they didn’t. If anything, they’ve rescued a slowing real estate market.

With fewer single family homes available, the ones that you can find on the market today are astronomically expensive. If anything, condos are a viable alternative until prices begin to stabilize later on this year and into next year.

Homes in the Top Markets Just Too Expensive for Most

Single family homes, the semi-detached dreams that everyone is looking for, are just too expensive – especially if you want to buy somewhere like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver.

But condos are different. Condos are right next door to those beautiful homes but can cost anywhere from 25% to 50% of the price in the same market. That means in Toronto where the average home (if you can find one!) may cost $650,000, a condo in the same neighbourhood could cost $350,000. If you only need two or three rooms, and that could be the magic number that makes the best neighbourhoods a little more affordable.

Home Prices Moved 2% Year on Year

Condo prices across Canada have gone up by 2%, while single family semi-detached homes are up by as much as 12% year on year, depending on what city you’re looking at. That’s a major price difference!

The bad news for those traditional homes sales are actually tapering off – prices aren’t rising because homes are just that much more valuable – it’s because the supply of homes has dwindled.

This is great if you’re a seller; but with home prices and home sales expected to level off through the rest of the decade, if you’re thinking about buying you’re going to get the short end of the stick.

Understanding that you won’t see a 30% jump in the value of your home in the next five years (no matter what your realtor tells you) means you won’t worry about the home you do buy 10 years from now not being a good return on your investment.

Condos Sales Rose 12.6%

While home sales have stalled, condo sales rose almost 13% year on year. It may be the short supply of homes on the market, it may be the more attractive prices, but either way, condos are a huge hit.

There’s no doubt that greater condo sales have helped the rest of the real estate market hit a soft landing. It seems like all those rules that came out of Ottawa have actually worked, that there will be no American-style housing crash here in Canada.

Only time will tell! Are you thinking about buying a condo? Do you think the extra cost of a single family home is really worth it?

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.

Bad Credit, Bad Luck: Why Buying a Condo Isn’t as Easy as it Used to Be

If you’ve been considering buying a condo but don’t have the best credit, you’re fresh out of luck. CMHC, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, has moved again to keep the market stable and quash speculation by limiting funds available to banks to fund first time buyers and those with bad credit.

The move has been both demonized and lauded by economists, each side quick to point out what they do and don’t like about the plan. Either way, with funds held tightly in hand it’s not the best time to be a first time homebuyer or one with spotty credit history.

Shifting the Risk

Back in 2008, in the U.S. at least, the risk of bad loans and bad mortgages was shifted from lenders to the government. It created a massive transference of wealth – one that they’re only now recovering from. At the heart of the problem was Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, the American version of the CMHC.

CMHC headed off similar problems here by limiting the amount of money given to banks, a.k.a. the risk assumed by the government, with the expectation that around 1 in 12 homebuyers would be affected by the lack of funds. While many Canadians had great credit a few years ago, some need a little more help a few years later.

When Payments Come Due     

But what if you had fantastic credit a few years ago when you put your deposit down? What if, through no fault of your own, you just can’t qualify for the same financing you did in 2011 or 2012?

When those down payments come due, there can be little you can do as a buyer, especially if your situation has changed. No help from the government, no help from your lender, it can all lead to you ending up in court where you could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Buying a home is never easy, but it’s probably been easier than this.

Pre-Qualified Means Nothing

If you’ve been told by your lender that you’re “pre-qualified” for a mortgage, that just means you can walk in the door and fill out an application like any other customer. It basically means you’re a warm body that may or may not have the money to pay whatever’s lent to you back.

And being a warm body is a bad thing, especially with lenders across Canada trying to avoid an American-style housing bubble. There are no NINJA loans in Canada (No Income, No Job or Assets), and if you want to be able to qualify for a mortgage you’re going to need to have spotless credit,

Securing Financing is the Hard Part

If you are bent on buying a home, stopping in with your lender should be the first thing you do. Find out how much you’re approve for, how much down payment you can afford and how much gift money you can get from family and friends (if you’re a newly-wed couple for instance).

But if you can’t secure financing on your own, you can always build up your nest egg and work on your credit. It may take a little while longer to reach your goal, but you’ll get there!

The Goodale Miller Team, based in Oakville, Ontario, is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 11 years running.  To learn more visit http://www.goodalemillerteam.com

The Dawn of the Parking Wars

A four foot wide parking spot in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal can be worth tens of thousands of dollars – but most of us refuse to pay for them as part of our rent, HOA or condo fees. So with the population of Canada climbing annually and the supply of parking ever-dwindling, the parking that is available is becoming prime real estate.

What does this mean for you, car-owner and urban dweller? Well, we may very well be witnessing the dawn of the parking wars. If you have a parking space, hold on to it – and if you don’t, it’s time to get your sticky little fingers on one.

Developers Capitalizing on Parking Spaces

Sure, most of us don’t mind commuting – some of us even prefer it, but we still want to keep our cars. Cars mean parking spaces, and parking spaces are prime real estate that could be used for glittering glass towers and multiple tiers of penthouses looking down on a Canadian version of Gotham that Batman himself would kill to get a view of.

Real estate developers, at least the smart ones, know that there are only so many parking spaces. They’re looking down 3, 5 even 10 years down the road, commoditizing and capitalizing on existing space and squeezing every last bit of profitability out of existing space.

Owners Capitalizing Too

Even if you don’t own a car, you can rent out your space for anywhere from $150 to $350 a month – and that number grows yearly. Some even go so far as to sell their condo and KEEP their parking space, renting it out to another resident of the building or to the owner of the spot because the bylaws weren’t clear about how the parking space transfers from owner to owner.

One thing’s for sure: if you’re going to buy or rent in a major city, you need to know your parking rights and responsibilities before you sign on the dotted line.

Know the Parking Situation Before You Sign

If you’re thinking about buying a condo or even renting an apartment in a major city, parking should be a major factor in your decision (but only if you have a car). Ask the following questions:

  • Am I buying my parking spot, or am I just renting it?
  • Can I sell or rent out my parking spot (tread lightly here!)
  • What is the rent on my parking space (if any), and how often will the price be adjusted?
  • How and why could I lose my parking space? Is there any remediation process?

Your parking spot is just as important as the interior of your home – even if you don’t have a car right now, you might later. The last thing you want to worry about is having to leave your car at a mass transit depot or airport parking and paying extra fees on top just because you didn’t plan ahead.

Could this be the Dawn of The Parking Wars? Maybe, only time will tell – it never hurts to grab a spot while you can.

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

Are Auctions the Next Step for GTA Housing Market?

It’s hard enough as it is to find a good house in the GTA, but could auctions be the next big step for prospective buyers? Are buyers more interested in a transparent process that lets them see the REAL market price of a home – and will realtors and agents go for it?

Real Market Value

It’s not easy to figure out the real market price of a home; smart sellers will price their homes just a little bit below what they think it would sell for. Others will set it so low hoping to spur a bidding war that will capture the hearts and wallets of buyers that just have to have this property.

But how much good do either of these strategies do? Even luxury homes final sale price tend to fall short of the original listing price, and both buyers and sellers are at the mercy of their realtors to get the best deal.

The thing about auctions is that the devil is in the details. You need certified appraisers, a realtor or auction group that has done this before and they keep dirty tricks like holding offers for a week or two to a minimum.

Peak Selling Season Just Around the Corner

Snow may cover the ground now, but in a matter of weeks spring will arrive – and with the thaw, the frenzy to find the perfect home will start all over again… but will you buy (or sell) your next home bidding blindly, or will you auction it off?

There’s no doubt about it: inventory is at a critical point across the GTA. The dilapidated house that went for $800,000 (and needed $400,000 worth of renovations) is proof positive of that.

Bidding wars are fueled by emotion and the desire to be close to what matters in Toronto – but auctions change all that. It’s all decided in the space of a few minutes – and while the prices can easily run $100,000 over the asking price for a prime property, buyers at least understand what they’re getting into when they walk into an auction.

Bidding Blindly Falling Out of Favour

Auctions are great for buyers because it’s all over in a few (sometimes painful) minutes, but sellers benefit too. According to a research survey conducted on the Australian home auction market (one of the strongest in the world), it benefits sellers too.

80% of sales actually netted 20-25% over the starting price (appraised value) of the home, since many bidders get caught up in the spirit of things trying to win the property. Some sellers may not get as much as they hoped for, and the thought of losing a life of hard work in a few seconds can be a little too much to bear.

Either way, auctioning could very well be the next thing that helps prospective buyers and sellers get what they want – realtors may not like it so much though.

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.

Is Speculation Hurdling the Canadian Real Estate Market Into Chaos?

Homes sold have gone down month after month this year, but sale prices are rising – what gives? When it comes to real estate, especially luxury homes for sale, it’s easy to wonder if we’re moving towards a real estate collapse. According to a recent Bank of Canada poll of people aged 25 to 45 fewer people are thinking about buying a home than they did 2 years ago; more Canadians don’t see buying a home as a big investment and are worried about a collapse – but is it warranted? Here we’re going to go over the numbers and see what they mean, so let’s get started.

Consumer Confidence Dropping

Consumer confidence has begun to drop, with only 40% of Canadian buyers looking at a home as an investment that they can count on later in life. Many buyers today believe that prices are overinflated, putting off any purchasing decisions until home prices come down to a more reasonable level. Unless the government, the Bank of Canada or both can find a way to increase consumer confidence the housing market may peter out before it was expected – not the greatest news by far.

Luxury Real Estate Still Riding High

Many foreign investors are coming to the major markets, Toronto and Calgary in particular, and buying up luxury real estate for sale. While many homes for sale in general are beginning to have trouble moving, luxury homes for sale have been fetching higher and higher amounts for generally the same location, space and amenities. While this is great news for the luxury sector, it’s not so great news for the rest of the market. Today home sales are down by about 3% when compared with last year, but they are fetching consistently higher prices across the board.

Prices Expected to Level Out

Prices are expected to begin leveling out in the near future, which is great for people who want to buy. Owners that have been waiting for the “best” time to sell their homes may want to act soon, but many luxury realtors say that prices aren’t expected to level out until early next year when the US begins raising interest rates. Depending on when this happens we’ll seed interest rates in Canada also begin to change, since the two markets tend to operate in tandem (up to a point anyway).

What Does This Mean Long Term?

In the long term the days of double digit growths annually in appraisals are over; it sounds bad, but even for luxury homes for sale it’s not a bad thing. If interest rates don’t eventually take a hike people will have no reason to save, and then we’ll end up in another kind of financial crisis. The zero interest rate policy that many countries have adopted to avoid austerity has helped, but it has to end eventually, especially with so many Baby Boomers depending on their savings to earn them money in the coming years.

The Goodale Miller Team is the #1 team in Canada for Century 21 8 years running.  Specializing in Oakville luxury real estate including luxury Oakville homes for sale, infill building lots, condominiums and more. Visit their website today at http://www.goodalemillerteam.com/

Does Bundling Really Help You Save?

A recent Consumer Reports survey shows that there are proven ways to save on Internet cable and phone – you might be surprised at the introductory discounts you can get. Why pay more than you have to? Here were going to go over the means of Consumer Reports latest survey, and how to make sure you’re actually bundling loan services you can use – because paying for something you can’t get any use out of is a really saving it all, is it? Consumer Reports says that you need to act aggressively to really get the best deals, so don’t be afraid to threaten to go to another company (or worse, go without) to see some real savings.

Save Big On Telecom Bills

Many telecom companies will actually give you a big discount on your home and mobile phone if you’re moving into a new home. Doesn’t make much sense, but they really want your business. If they can get you to bundle all your services with them, they’ll be able to make even more money off you, even with a discount. This is where you come in.

If you have a landline (good for emergencies) and a mobile phone, your telecom provider may bundle internet and TV service (FIOS, satellite, etc) with it. The last thing you want to do is bundle things you don’t need, so make sure that you weigh the pros and cons of each package. You’ll usually see more savings with more bundling, but if you have no use for a landline after you buy a luxury home for sale, it may not help.

Too Few People Negotiate with Utilities

Most people don’t realize bargaining power they have when it comes to saving on utilities. While you probably can’t bargain with the power company, you shouldn’t have to overpay for cable or satellite, mobile phone, or home phone service.

Sometimes the squeaky wheel really does get the grease, and you don’t want to be the one that just doesn’t get what they need. If you’re not sure how to negotiate with your utilities, consider talking to your luxury realtor. Realtors and luxury real estate agents often know how to get big savings on utilities for their clients and it never hurts to ask.

Sometimes It Pays To Switch Back

If you switched to a new provider, your old provider may try to tempt you back with a better deal. Think it over, look at what they’re offering you; if it’s a good deal, why not take it? You don’t want to get caught up in customer loyalty when dealing with utilities, you want to make sure you’re always getting the best deal.

How Much Can You Save?

People can save hundreds of dollars a year by bundling or switching to another company – that’s the same as switching from fast food lunches every day to something you made at home. Talk to your utility companies today and see what you can save.

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

How to Get Along With Your Neighbours

If you’re buying a luxury home for sale or just a nice starter house, you have to know that you can live and die by the relationships you have with your neighbours. Here we’re going to go over a few things you need to worry about and how you can keep out when the thick gets sticky. From understanding why complaining will turn you into a big fat pariah to how leaving your Wi-Fi open can get you arrested. While we all want to live in a great neighbourhood, sometimes it’s just not possible. Let’s get started.

Wi-Fi Crackdown

The first thing you’ll need to worry about is neighbours and strangers alike using your Wi-Fi. It’s not bad enough that your internet gets slowed down, but then you end up having to worry about people using your internet to pirate episodes of Game of Thrones or for other illegal activity. If you want to get along with your neighbours you need to make sure you secure your Wi-Fi against any outside invaders that are looking to get a free ride or commit crimes on your dime. Quash the problem before it starts!

Complaining Pet Peeves

Talking with your neighbours first about a pet situation before going to your home owner’s association of calling the humane society. Some people don’t want to be rude – but if there’s been an ongoing history of weird looks and shouts from your yard into theirs, they’re going to be able to figure out just who made the complaint and had Fluffy sent to the pound. Complaining in general will cost you big, so try to resolve situations civilly.

Din of Iniquity

Din, background noise, people throwing expensive Tiffany glass lamps at one another – we all live with the sounds of life around us. Many have had the misfortune to live next to a noisy neighbour that isn’t violating any noise ordinates – they’re just terribly loud. Before you buy a home you’ll want to get out there and walk around. Learn the neighbourhood. Come by during different times of day and figure out if it’s going to be noisy or not. You don’t want to end up stuck in a situation where you end up on medication from being stressed out. Take the time, understand what luxury real estate you’re really buying.

Backyard Farms Not so Great for Property Values

Yes, going green is sustainable and great for the environment – but a backyard farm isn’t always so great for your property values. If you see a farm in your neighbourhood, you might wonder how that passed muster at the HOA meeting; but it just depends on what is more important to you. You have to remember that extra vegetation will keep the ambient air temperature much lower in the summer time, but the smell of fertilizer and the potential for pests can be intolerable. Something to think about when you’re looking at luxury homes for sale.

The Bedbug Shuffle

Ask! Ask if there have been bedbugs on this property recently and if you get them, let people know! They spread quickly and your neighbours will need to protect themselves against it. If you see some great furniture in the alley, don’t go for it. Know what you’re really getting, realize that bed bugs are just about everywhere these days and if it looks too good to be true it probably is. If your neighbour has bed bugs and doesn’t let you know, you may be able to pursue legal action… but this may not be the best way to instill neighbourly goodwill.

Talk to your neighbours; don’t assume that just because you’re buying luxury real estate that you’re getting a drama free experience.

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