Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Finding a New Home for Your Next Stage of Life

Imagine the first place you lived as a young adult. Now imagine trying to fit your life today into that space. Not pretty, right?

For most of us, our housing needs are cyclical. A newly independent adult can find freedom and flexibility in even a tiny apartment. That same space, to a growing family, would feel stifling. For empty nesters, a large home with several unused bedrooms can become impractical to heat and clean. It’s no surprise that life transitions often trigger a home purchase.

While your home-buying journey may not look like your neighbour’s or friend’s, broad trends can help you understand what to keep in mind as you house hunt. No one wants to regret their home purchase and taking the time now to think about exactly what you need can save a lot of heartache later.

The Newly Married or Partnered Couple

The financial and legal commitment of both traditional and common-law marriage has provided a springboard to homeownership for centuries. And while the average age of first marriage in Canada is around 30, the average age of first home purchase has shifted even later to 36.1,2 No matter your age, there are some key factors that you should consider when you are ready to enter into your first home purchase together.

Affordability is Key

There’s no doubt about it—with home prices that just keep climbing, many first-time buyers feel that the deck is stacked against them when it comes to homeownership. But stepping onto the property ladder can be more doable than many realize, especially in today’s low mortgage rate environment.

While many buyers are holding out for their dream home, embracing the concept of a starter home can open a lot of doors. In fact, that’s a popular approach for first-time homebuyers to take. Fifty percent of first-time Canadian buyers report that they plan to eventually upgrade to a larger home.3

Chosen carefully, a starter home can be a great investment as well as a launchpad for your life together. If you focus on buying a home you can afford now with strong potential for appreciation, you can build equity alongside your savings, positioning you to trade up in the future if your needs change.3

Taking Advantage of Low Mortgage Rates

Canadian mortgage rates hit record lows in summer 2020, and while they are gradually creeping back up, now is still an ideal time to purchase your first home together.4 A lower interest rate can save you a bundle over the life of your loan, which can significantly increase the quality of home you can get for your money.

But what if both halves of a couple don’t have good credit? You still have options. First, boosting a credit score can be easier than you think—simply paying your credit cards down below 35% of your limit can go a long way.5 But if that’s not enough to raise your score, you might consider taking out the mortgage in only the better-scoring partner’s name. The downside is that applying for a mortgage with only one income will reduce your qualification amount. And if you take that route, make sure you understand the legal and financial implications for both parties should the relationship end.

Commute and Lifestyle Considerations

Whether you’ve lived in a rental together for years or are sharing a home for the first time, you know that living together involves some compromises. But there are certain home features that can make life easier in the future if you identify them now. The number of bathrooms, availability of closet space, and even things like kitchen layout can make a big difference in your day-to-day life and relationship.

Your home’s location will also have a significant impact on your quality of life, so consider it carefully. What will commuting look like for each of you? And if you have different interests or hobbies—say, museums vs. hiking—you’ll need to find a community that meets both your needs. Need some help identifying the ideal location that fits within your budget? We can match you with some great neighbourhoods that offer the perfect mix of amenities and affordability.

The Growing Family

Having kids changes things—fast. With a couple of rowdy preteens and maybe some pets in the mix, that 1,600 square foot home that felt palatial to two adults suddenly becomes a lot more cramped. Whether you’ve just had your first child or are getting to the point where your kids can’t comfortably share a bedroom any longer, there’s plenty to consider when you’re ready to size up to a home that will fit your growing family.

The Importance of School Districts

For many parents, the desire to give their kids the best education—especially once they are in middle and high school— surpasses even their desire for more breathing room. In fact, homebuyers report that school district is one of their top concerns.6 Of course, homes in the best-rated districts tend to be more expensive and harder to nab. But when push comes to shove, many buyers with kids prefer to sacrifice a bit of space to find a home in their desired location.

When you’re moving to a new community, it can be tough to figure out what the local schools are actually like—and online ratings leave a lot to be desired. That’s why talking to a local real estate agent can be a gamechanger. We don’t just work in this community; we know it inside and out. We’ll be happy to share our first-hand knowledge of the local schools and which neighbourhoods are most welcoming to families.

Lifestyle Considerations

For many families, living space is a key priority. Once you have teenagers who want space to hang out with their friends, a finished basement or a rec room can be a huge bonus (and can help you protect some quieter living space for yourself).

A good layout can also make family life a lot easier. For example, an open plan is invaluable if you want to cook dinner while keeping an eye on your young kids playing in the living room. And if you think that you might expand your family further in the future, be sure that the home you purchase has enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate that comfortably.

Functionality

Try to think about how each room will fit into your day-to-day. Are you anticipating keeping the house stocked to feed hungry teenagers? A pantry might rise to the top of the list. Dreading the loads of laundry that come with both infants and older kids (especially if they play sports)? The task can be much more bearable in a well-designed laundry room. Imagine a typical day or week of chores in the house to identify which features will have the biggest impact.

Chances are, you won’t find every nice-to-have in one home, which is why identifying the must-haves can be such a boon to the decision-making process. We can help you assess your options and give you a sense of what is realistic within your budget.

The Empty Nesters

When we talk about empty nesters, we usually think about downsizing. With kids out of the house, extra bedrooms and living space can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. While the average buyer with young kids is most likely to trade up to a larger home, older buyers often sell the family home and move into a smaller, less expensive home. In fact, more than half of Canadian Baby Boomers consider the area where they live too expensive for retirement.7

Maintenance and Livability

What factors are driving your decision to move? Identifying those early in the process can help you narrow down your search. For example, do you want to have space for a garden, or would you prefer to avoid dealing with lawn care altogether? What about home maintenance? In many cases, a newer home will require less maintenance than an older one and a smaller one will take less time to clean. It’s not surprising that condos are among the most popular types of homes for Baby Boomers given they require less upkeep than single-family homes.7

Lifestyle Considerations

Many empty nesters have retired or are nearing retirement age. This could be your chance to finally pursue hobbies and passions that were just too hard to squeeze into a 9-5. If you’re ready to move, consider how you’d like to spend your days and seek out a home that will help make that dream a reality. For some, that might mean living near a golf course or a beach. For others, being able to walk downtown for a nice dinner out is the priority. And with more time to spend as you wish, proximity to a supportive community of friends and family is priceless.

Ability to Age in Place

Let’s face it—we can’t escape ageing. If you’re looking for a home to retire in, accessibility should be top-of-mind. This may mean a single-story home or simply having adequate spaces on the first floor to rearrange as needed. While buying a home that you plan to renovate from the start is a viable option, being forced into renovations (because of the realities of ageing) a few years down the road could seriously dig into your nest egg. Location matters, too—if your family will be providing support, are they close by? Can you easily reach necessities like grocery stores and healthcare? While it’s tempting to put it out of our minds, a few careful considerations now can make staying in your home long-term much more feasible.

Finding the Right Home for Right Now

One thing is for sure—life never stands still. And your housing needs won’t, either. In fact, the average Canadian homeowner will own 4.5 to 5.5 houses over their lifetime.8 At each milestone, a careful assessment of your housing options will ensure that you are well-positioned to embrace all the changes to come.

Whatever stage you’re embarking on next, we’re here to help. Our insight into local neighbourhoods, prices, and housing stock will help you hone in on exactly where you want to live and what kind of home is right for you. We’ve worked with home buyers in every stage of life, so we know exactly what questions you need to ask. Buying a home—whether it’s your first or your fifth—is a big decision, but we’re here to support you every step of the way.

 

Sources:

  1. The Canadian Encyclopedia –
    https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/marriage-and-divorce
  2. Mortgage Broker News –
    https://www.mortgagebrokernews.ca/news/sorry-gen-z-the-average-firsttime-buyer-in-canada-is-36-years-old-335685.aspx
  3. Savvy New Canadians –
    https://www.savvynewcanadians.com/starter-home-vs-permanent-home/
  4. Mortgage Broker News –
    https://www.mortgagebrokernews.ca/news/are-the-days-of-low-interest-rates-coming-to-an-end-for-canadian-homebuyers-338140.aspx
  5. Government of Canada –
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.htm
  6. Housing Sentiments and Trends Report 2017 –
    https://marketing.zoocasa.com/zoocasa-housing-trends-report-2017.pdf
  7. Royal LePage –
    https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/more-than-14-million-boomers-across-canada-expect-to-buy-a-home-in-the-next-five-years-690334391.html
  8. Zolo –
    https://www.zolo.ca/blog/how-many-homes-will-you-buy

 

Posted by Christine Pecharich
March Market Statistics

March Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release March 2021 Stats

For the third straight month of 2021, record home sales continued in March across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with buyers taking advantage of favourable borrowing costs and continued improvement in many sectors of the economy.

GTA REALTORS® reported 15,652 sales in March 2021 – close to double that of March 2020. While sales were strong, it is important to remember that for the second half of March we are comparing against the initial impact of COVID-19 in the second half of March 2020 when sales activity dropped off dramatically. With this in mind, it is important to consider annual sales growth for the pre-COVID period (March 1 to 14, 2020) and COVID period (March 15 to 31, 2020):

– There were 6,504 sales reported during the first 14 days of March 2021 – up 41 per cent compared to the pre- COVID period in March 2020.

– There were 9,148 sales reported between March 15th and March 31st 2021, an increase of 174 per cent compared to the COVID period of March 2020. This is a stark reminder of the initial impact COVID-19 had on the housing market and overall economy a year ago.

For March 2021 as a whole, new listings were up 57 per cent year-over-year to 22,709. While representing a strong year-over-year increase, the annual growth rate for new listings was well-below that of sales.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark for March 2021 was up by 16.5 per cent compared to March 2020. The average selling price, at $1,097,565 was up by 21.6 per cent over the same period. Following the recent trend, low-rise home sales in regions surrounding the City of Toronto drove price growth.

Milton Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 25.7%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  + 77.1 %

 

Oakville Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 29.5%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +74.1%

Burlington Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 24.9%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +66.4%

Halton Hills Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 31.8%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +23.1 %

Mississauga Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  +17.5%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +62.9 %

Guelph Summary:

Average Sale Price for March 2021   $751,541

Percent increase over this time last year 27.3 %

Average Days on Market 6

Homes Sold in March 362  +62.3%

Posted by Christine Pecharich
Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

Today’s real estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory. With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re seeing multiple offers—and sometimes even bidding wars—for homes in the most sought-after neighbourhoods. This has led some sellers to question the need for an agent. After all, why spend money on a listing agent when it seems that you can stick a For Sale sign in the yard then watch a line form around the block?

 

Some buyers may also believe they’d be better off purchasing a property without an agent. For those seeking a competitive edge, proceeding without a buyer’s agent may seem like a good way to stand out from the competition—and maybe even score a discount. Since the seller pays the buyer agent’s commission, wouldn’t a do-it-yourself purchase sweeten the offer?

 

We all like to save money. However, when it comes to your largest financial asset, forgoing professional representation may not always be in your best interest. Find out whether the benefits outweigh the risks (and considerable time and effort) of selling or buying a home on your own—so you can head to the closing table with confidence.

 

 

SELLING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT

Most homeowners who choose to sell their home without any professional assistance opt for a traditional “For Sale By Owner” or a direct sale to an investor, such as an iBuyer. Here’s what you can expect from either of these options.

 

For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

For sale by owner or FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo) offers sellers the opportunity to price their own home and handle their own transaction, showing the home and negotiating directly with the buyer or his or her real estate agent. While Canadian statistics on FSBOs are limited, according to data compiled by the US-based National Association of Realtors (NAR), approximately 8% of homes were sold by their owner in 2020.1

 

In an active, low inventory real estate market, it may seem like a no-brainer to sell your home yourself. After all, there are plenty of buyers out there and one of them is bound to be interested in your home. In addition, you’ll save money on the listing agent’s commission and have more control over the way the home is priced and marketed.

 

One of the biggest problems FSBOs run into, however, is pricing the home appropriately. Without access to information about the comparable properties in your area, you could end up overpricing your home (causing it to languish on the market) or underpricing your home (leaving thousands of dollars on the table).2

 

Even during last year’s strong seller’s market, the median sales price for FSBOs was 10% less than the median price of homes sold with the help of a real estate agent.1 And during a more balanced market, like the one we experienced in 2018, FSBO homes sold for 24% (or $60,000) less than agent-represented properties.3 This suggests that, while you may think that you’ll price and market your home more effectively yourself, in fact you may end up losing far more than the amount you would pay for an agent’s assistance.

 

Without the services of a real estate professional, it will be up to you to get people in the door. You’ll need to gather information for the online listing and put together the kind of marketing that today’s buyers expect to see. This includes bringing in a professional photographer, writing the listing description, and designing marketing collateral like flyers and mailers—or hiring a writer and graphic designer to do so.

 

Once someone is interested, you’ll need to offer virtual showings and develop a COVID safety protocol. You’ll then need to schedule an in-person showing (or in some cases, two or three) for each potential buyer. In addition, you’ll be on your own when evaluating offers and determining their financial viability. You’ll need to thoroughly understand all legal contracts and contingencies and discuss terms, including those regarding the home inspection and closing process.

 

While you’re doing all of this work, it’s likely that you’ll still need to pay the buyer agent’s commission. So be sure to weigh your potential savings against the significant risk and effort involved.

 

If you choose to work with a listing agent, you’ll save significant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk and liability. And the increased profits realized through a more effective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make up for the cost of your agent’s commission.

 

iBuyer

iBuyers have been on the Canadian real estate scene since around 2018, providing sellers with the option of a direct purchase from a real estate company rather than a traditional direct-to-consumer sales process.4 iBuyer companies tout their convenience and speed, with a reliable, streamlined process that may be attractive to some sellers.

 

The idea is that instead of listing the home on the open market, the homeowner completes an online form with information about the property’s location and features, then waits for an offer from the company. The iBuyer is looking for a home in good condition that’s located in a good neighbourhood—one that’s easy to flip and falls within the company’s algorithm.

 

For sellers who are more focused on speed and convenience, an iBuyer may offer an attractive alternative to a traditional real estate sale. That’s because iBuyers evaluate a property quickly and make an upfront offer without requesting repairs or other accommodations.

 

However, sellers will pay for that convenience with, generally, a far lower sale price than the market will provide as well as fees that can add up to as much or more than a traditional real estate agent’s commission.4 According to a study conducted by MarketWatch, iBuyers netted, on average, 11% less than a traditional sale when both the lower price and fees are considered.5 Other studies found some iBuyers charging as much as 15% in fees and associated costs, far more than you’ll pay for a real estate agent’s commission.6

 

In a hot market, this can mean leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table since you won’t be able to negotiate and you’ll lose out on rising home prices caused by low inventory and increased demand. In addition, iBuyers are demonstrably less reliable during times of economic uncertainty, as evidenced by the halt of operations for most iBuyer platforms in early 2020.6 As a seller, the last thing you want is to start down the road of iBuying only to find out that a corporate mandate is stopping your transaction in its tracks.

 

If you choose to work with a real estate agent, you can still explore iBuyers as an option. That way you can take advantage of the added convenience of a fast sale while still enjoying the protection and security of having a professional negotiating on your behalf.

 

 

BUYING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT

 

According to the most recent statistics, 88% of home buyers use a real estate agent when conducting their home search.1 A buyer’s agent is with you every step of the way through the home buying process. From finding the perfect home to submitting a winning offer to navigating the inspection and closing processes, most homebuyers find their expertise and guidance invaluable. And the best part is that, because they are compensated through a commission paid by the homeowner at closing, most agents provide these services at no cost to you!

 

Still, you may be considering negotiating your home purchase directly with the seller or listing agent, especially if you are accustomed to deal-making as part of your job. And if you are familiar with the neighbourhood where you are searching, you may feel that there is no reason to get a buyer’s agent involved.

 

However, putting together a winning offer package can be challenging. This is especially true in a multiple-offer situation where you’ll be competing against buyers whose offers are carefully crafted to maximize their appeal. And the homebuying process can get emotional. A trusted agent can help you avoid overpaying for a property or glossing over “red flags” in your inspection. In addition, buyer agents offer a streamlined, professional process that listing agents may be more likely to recommend to their clients.

If you decide to forego an agent, you’ll have to write, submit, and negotiate a competitive offer all on your own. You’ll also need to schedule an inspection and negotiate repairs. You’ll be responsible for reviewing and preparing all necessary documents, and you will need to be in constant communication with the seller’s agent and your lender, inspector, appraiser, title company, and other related parties along the way.

Or, you could choose to work with a buyer’s agent whose commission is paid by the seller and costs you nothing out of pocket. In exchange, you’ll obtain fiduciary-level guidance on one of the most important financial transactions of your life. If you decide to go it alone, you’ll be playing fast and loose with what is, for most people, their most important and consequential financial decision.

 

 

SO, IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT RIGHT FOR YOU?

 

It is important for you to understand your options and think through your preferences when considering whether or not to work with a real estate professional. If you are experienced in real estate transactions and legal contracts, comfortable negotiating under high-stakes circumstances, and have plenty of extra time on your hands, you may find that an iBuyer or FSBO sale works for you.

 

However, if, like most people, you value expert guidance and would like an experienced professional to manage the process, you will probably experience far more peace of mind and security in working with a real estate agent or broker.

 

A real estate agent’s comprehensive suite of services and expert negotiation skills can benefit buyers and sellers financially, as well. On average, sellers who utilize an agent walk away with more money than those who choose the FSBO or iBuyer route.3,5 And buyers pay nothing out of pocket for expert representation that can help them avoid expensive mistakes all along the way from contract to closing.

 

According to NAR’s profile, the vast majority of buyers (91%) and sellers (89%) are thrilled with their real estate professional’s representation and would recommend them to others.1 That’s why, in terms of time, money, and expertise, most buyers and sellers find the assistance of a real estate agent essential and invaluable.

 

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING? WE HAVE ANSWERS

 

The best way to find out whether you need a real estate agent or broker is to speak with one. We’re here to help and to offer the insights you need to make better-informed decisions. Let’s talk about the value-added services we provide when we help you buy or sell in today’s competitive real estate landscape.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. National Association of REALTORS –
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers
  2. Washington Post –
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/09/factors-consider-when-determining-whether-use-an-agent-buy-or-sell-home/
  3. National Association of REALTORS –
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/selling-your-home-solo-to-save-money-you-ll-actually-make-less-than-you-think
  4. CBC –

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadian-startup-properly-offers-new-way-of-buying-and-selling-homes-in-calgary-1.5032771

  1. MarketWatch –
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/selling-your-home-to-an-ibuyer-could-cost-you-thousands-heres-why-2019-06-11

Forbes –
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliakarayaneva/2020/03/19/billion-dollar-real-estate-businesses-ibuyer-suspended/?sh=c7f59f921747

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Blog Posts
February 2021 Market Statistics

February 2021 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release February 2021 Stats

Record home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) continued in February as buyers remained confident in their employment situations and took advantage of ultra-low borrowing costs. With multiple buyers continuing to compete for many available listings, double-digit annual price growth was the norm throughout the GTA, with stronger rates of growth in the suburbs surrounding the City of Toronto.

GTA REALTORS® reported 10,970 sales through TRREB’s MLS® System in February 2021 – a 52.5 per cent increase compared to 7,193 sales reported in February 2020. Looking at all areas of the GTA combined, the condominium apartment segment led the way with a 64 per cent sales increase compared to last year, with similar rates of increase in the ‘416’ and ‘905’ area codes.

“It’s clear that the historic demand for housing experienced in the second half of last year has carried forward into the first quarter of this year with some similar themes, including the continued popularity of suburban low-rise properties. It’s also evident that the supply of listings is not keeping up with demand, which could present an even larger problem once population growth picks up following widespread vaccinations later this year and into 2022,” said TRREB President Lisa Patel.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 14.8 per cent year-over-year in February 2021. Over the same period, the average selling price was up by 14.9 per cent to $1,045,488. While market conditions were tight throughout the GTA region in February, the detached, semi-detached and townhouse market segments in suburban areas were the drivers of average price growth, with annual rates of increase above 20 per cent in all three cases.

“In the absence of a marked uptick in inventory, the current relationship between demand and supply supports continued double-digit average home price growth this year. In addition, if we continue to see growth in condo sales outstrip growth in new condo listings in Toronto, renewed price growth in this market segment is a distinct possibility in the second half of the year,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

Milton Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 27.1%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  + 56.9 %

Oakville Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 24.4%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +47.8 %

Burlington Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 20%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +51.5 %

Halton Hills Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 27.2%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  – 9.8 %

Mississauga Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 34.2%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +81.9 %

Guelph Summary:

Average Sale Price for February 2021   $735,374

Percent increase over this time last year 23 %

Average Days on Market 6

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Burlington, Georgetown, Guelph, Halton Hills, Market Reports, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville
Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

While many areas of the economy have contracted, the housing market has stayed remarkably strong. But can the good news last?

 

When COVID-related shutdowns began in March, real estate brokers and clients scrambled to respond to the shift. Record-low interest rates caused some lenders to call a halt to new underwriting, and homeowners debated whether or not to put their houses on the market. However, those first days of uncertainty ushered in a period of unprecedented growth in the Canadian residential real estate market, which currently accounts for a record-setting 9% of the country’s overall economic output.1

 

Now, as the spring market approaches, you may be wondering whether the good times can continue to roll on. If you’re a homeowner, should you take advantage of this opportunity by putting your home on the market? If you’re a buyer, should you jump in and risk paying too much? Below we answer some of your most pressing questions.

 

 

Why are home prices rising during an economic downturn?

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, fears of an economic recession were top of mind for homeowners all across the country. Overall, credit product origination declined across a variety of sectors, including car loans and credit cards, and government forbearance programs were put into place to cushion the blow of anticipated economic hardships. However, strong demand —coupled with ultra-low inventory and interest rates—caused real estate prices to continue to rise. The national average resale price soared 17% during 2020, and mortgage originations showed year-over-year growth of almost 30% on the strength of renewals and refinancing in response to record-low interest rates.1,2

 

According to the Bloomberg-Nanos Consumer Confidence Index, confidence in Canada’s real estate industry reached its highest level on record during the thick of the pandemic.3  Montreal Chief Economist Douglas Porter attributes much of the ongoing strength of Canada’s real estate market to a simple matter of consumer choice and priorities while noting that the downside of the resulting rise in home values is increasing consumer debt.1

 

 

Are we facing a real estate bubble?

 

A real estate bubble can occur when there is a rapid and unjustified increase in housing prices, often triggered by speculation from investors. Because the bubble is (in a sense) filled with “hot air,” it pops—and a swift drop in value occurs. This leads to reduced equity or, in some cases, negative equity conditions.

 

By contrast, the current rise in home prices is based on the predictable results of historically low interest rates and widespread low inventory. Basically, the principle of supply and demand is working just as it is supposed to do.

Effects of low interest rates

The Bank of Canada projects continuing low interest rates until sometime in 2023, aiding in economic recovery and increasing affordability.4 This helps offset the effects of high home costs even in markets where real estate might otherwise be considered overpriced. These low interest rates should keep the market lively and moving forward for the foreseeable future.

Effects of low inventory

Continuing low inventory is the primary reason for higher-than-average home prices in many markets.5 This should gradually ease as an aggressive vaccination rollout and continuing buyer demand drive more homeowners to move forward with long-delayed sales plans and as new home construction ramps up to meet demand.6

 

 

Aren’t some markets and sectors looking particularly weak?

 

One of the big stories of 2020 was a mass exodus from attached home communities and high-priced urban markets as both young professionals and families fled to the larger square footage and wide-open spaces of suburban and rural markets. This trend was reinforced by work from home policies that became permanent at some of the country’s biggest companies.

 

Not surprisingly then, one of the hardest-hit sectors of the residential real estate market has been the rental market, especially in population-dense metropolitan areas. The rise in vacancies has been fueled by several factors, including less international migration, fewer student renters, and less tourist demand for short-term rentals.7

 

Interestingly, landlords have not responded to these vacancies with lower rental rates, which have actually risen nationally. Instead, most have used incentives like lower deposit fees, free utilities, and move-in bonuses to attract renters. This suggests that most property owners expect demand to return to normal quite quickly as the vaccine rollout begins to take effect.7

 

Some analysts predict a decline in the Canadian housing market at large due to the impending end of government emergency measures and lender deferrals. However, others point to the increased demand for homes in smaller markets and lower-density areas outside of the country’s urban centers as an optimistic indicator, especially since these distant suburban and rural enclaves don’t normally benefit from increases in home values or an influx of new investment.8 As many of these new residents set up housekeeping in their rural retreats, they’ll revitalize the economies of their adopted communities for years to come.

 

According to Susan Hosterman, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, another strength that may help to alleviate the effect of financial pressures brought about by the ending of emergency measures is the relationship lenders in Canada have with their borrowers. Canadian lenders tend to be proactive in offering modifications to make loans more affordable for struggling homeowners.8

 

 

How has COVID affected the “seasonal” real estate market?

 

Frequently, the real estate market is seen as a seasonal phenomenon. However, the widespread shutdowns in March 2020, coming right at the beginning of the market’s growth cycle in many areas, has led to a protracted, seemingly endless “hot spring market.”

 

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) revised its 2021 Market Forecast based on more robust than usual figures for the second half of 2020. The new projection anticipates improvements even over 2020’s record-setting market figures, with potential sales limited only by the availability of inventory in most markets.9 Thus, we could be looking at another longer-than-usual, white-hot real estate market.

 

 

What’s next for the Canadian real estate market?

 

Projections vary widely, with some economists predicting a market correction and others predicting continuing strong growth. Overall, low inventory and lack of affordability appear to be the more negative factors applying downward pressures on the market, while pent-up demand and a return to normal employment and income levels, along with anticipated higher-than-average growth in the economy, point to ongoing good news in the sector.10

 

According to most indicators, the real estate news looks overwhelmingly positive throughout the rest of 2021—and possibly beyond. Pent-up demand and consumer-driven policies, along with a continued low-interest-rate environment and rising inventory, should help homeowners hold on to their increased equity without throwing the market out of balance. In addition, the increase in long-term work-from-home policies promises to give a boost to a wide variety of markets, both now and in the years to come.

 

 

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? WE HAVE ANSWERS

 

While economic indicators and trends are national, real estate is local. We’re here to answer your questions and help you understand what’s happening in your neighbourhood. Reach out to learn how these larger movements affect our local market and your home’s value.

 

 

Sources:

  1. Huffington Post –
    https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/house-prices-canada-bmo_ca_600c7a98c5b6d64153ac675b
  2. Global Newswire –
    https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/08/18/2079742/0/en/COVID-19-Pandemic-Drives-a-Decline-in-the-Use-of-Credit-as-Canadian-Consumers-and-Lenders-Brace-for-Uncertainty.html
  3. Weekly Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index –
    https://www.nanos.co/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-01-08-Bloomberg-Weekly-Report-with-Tabs.pdf
  4. Bank of Canada –
    https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2021/01/fad-press-release-2021-01-20/
  5. Toronto Star –
    https://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2021/01/27/supply-of-new-homes-in-the-gta-dwindling-amidst-sales-boom.html
  6. Bank of Canada Monetary Policy Report –
    https://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/mpr-2021-01-20.pdf
  7. CTV News –
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/cmhc-rental-vacancies-prices-edged-up-as-covid-19-spread-across-canada-1.5286012
  8. Huffington Post –
    https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/housing-forecast-canada-2021_ca_5fec942cc5b64e4421082979
  9. Canadian Real Estate Association –
    https://www.crea.ca/news/crea-updates-resale-housing-market-forecast-7/
  10. Canadian Mortgage Trends –
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2021/01/canadas-energizer-bunny-housing-market-2021-forecasts/
Posted by Christine Pecharich
January 2021 Market Statistics

January 2021 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release January 2021 Stats

  • January 2021 home sales amounted to 6,928 – up by more than 50 per cent compared to January 2020. This strong start to 2021 included sales growth across all major segments including condominium apartments, both in the City of Toronto and surrounding GTA regions.
  • New listings were also up on a year-over-year basis in January, but not by the same annual rate as sales. This means market conditions tightened compared to January 2020, resulting in the continuation of double-digit growth in the MLS® Home Price Index and the average selling price.
  • The average selling price for January 2021 was up by 15.5 per cent to $967,885 year-over-year. The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark was up by 11.9 per cent over the same period.
  • Price growth was driven by the low-rise market segments, while the average condo apartment price was down in Toronto. However, if we continue to see condo sales growth outstrip condo listings growth, we could start to see renewed growth in condo prices later this year.

Milton Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 26.4%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +49.5 %

Oakville Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 26.5%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +46.4 %

Burlington Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 15.3%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +48.8 %

Halton Hills Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 29.2%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  – 13.8 %

Mississauga Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 13.8%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +44.6 %

Guelph Summary:

Average Sale Price for January 2021   $ 707,971

Percent increase over this time last year 35.3%

Average Days on Market 10

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Blog Posts, Brampton, Burlington, Georgetown, Guelph, Halton Hills, Market Reports, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto
5 Inspiring Home Design and Remodelling Trends for 2021

5 Inspiring Home Design and Remodelling Trends for 2021

We’ve all spent a lot more time at home over the past year. And for many of us, our homes have become our office, our classroom, our gym—and most importantly, our safe haven during times of uncertainty. So it’s no surprise to see that design trends for 2021 revolve around soothing colour palettes, cozy character, and quiet retreats.

Even if you don’t have immediate plans to buy or sell your home, we advise our clients to be mindful of modern design preferences when planning a remodel or even redecorating. Over-personalized or unpopular renovations could lower your property’s value. And selecting out-of-style fixtures and finishes could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

To help inspire your design projects this year, we’ve rounded up five of the hottest trends.  Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

  1. Uplifting Colours

Colours are gravitating toward warm and happy shades that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and wellbeing. This year’s palettes draw from earthy hues, warm neutrals, and soothing blues and greens.1

While white and gray are still safe options, expect to see alternative neutrals become increasingly popular choices for walls, cabinets, and furnishings in 2021. For a fresh and sophisticated look, try one of these 2021 paint colours of the year:

  • Aegean Teal (coastal blue) by Benjamin Moore
  • Urbane Bronze (brownish-gray) by Sherwin-Williams
  • Soft Candlelight (muted yellow) by Valspar

On the opposite end of the spectrum, indigo, ruby, sapphire and plum are showing up on everything from fireplace mantels and floating shelves to fabrics and home accessories. These classic, rich hues can help bring warmth, depth, and a touch of luxury to your living space.

To incorporate these colours, designers recommend using the “60-30-10 Rule.” Basically, choose a dominant colour to cover 60% of your room. For example, your walls, rugs, and sofa might all be varying shades of beige or gray. Then layer in a secondary colour for 30% of the room. This might include draperies and accent furniture. Finally, select an accent colour for 10% of your room, which can be showcased through artwork and accessories.2

  1. Curated Collections

After a decade of minimalism, there’s been a shift towards highly-decorative and personalized interiors that incorporate more colour, texture, and character. Clearly-defined styles (e.g., mid-century modern, industrial, modern farmhouse) are being replaced by a curated look, with furnishings, fixtures, and accessories that appear to have been collected over time.3

This trend has extended to the kitchen, where atmosphere has become as important as functionality. The ubiquitous all-white kitchen is fading in popularity as homeowners opt for unique touches that help individualize their space. If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, consider mixing in other neutrals—like gray, black, and light wood—for a more custom, pieced-together look. And instead of a subway tile backsplash, check out zellige tile (i.e., handmade, square Moroccan tiles) for a modern alternative with old-world flair.4

  1. Reimagined Living Spaces

The pandemic forced many of us to rethink our home design. From multipurpose rooms to converted closets to backyard cottages, we’ve had to find creative ways to manage virtual meetings and school. And designers expect these changes to impact the way we live and work for years to come.

For example, some home builders are predicting the end of open-concept floor plans as we know them.5 Instead, buyers are searching for cozier spaces with more separation and privacy. Cue the return of walls and, in some cases, alcoves and sliding partitions that enable homeowners to section off rooms as needed.6

The necessity of a home office space is also here to stay. But what if you don’t have a dedicated room? Alternative workspaces have become increasingly popular. In fact, one of the biggest trends on Pinterest this year is the “cloffice”—essentially a spare closet turned home office. Searches for “home library design” and “bookshelf room divider” are on the rise, as well.7

  1. Staycation-Worthy Retreats

With travel options limited right now, more homeowners are turning their vacation budgets into staycation budgets.8 Essentially, recreate the resort experience at home—and enjoy it 365 days a year!

Bedrooms should provide a soothing sanctuary for rest and relaxation. But this year, minimalist decor and muted colours are giving way to bolder statement pieces.3 To create a “boutique hotel” look in your own bedroom, start with a large, upholstered headboard in a rich colour or pattern. Layer on organic linen bedding and a chunky wool throw, then complete the look with a pair of matching bedside wall lights.9

Carry those vacation-vibes into your bathroom with some of the top luxury upgrades for 2021. Try a large, zero-entry shower for two, a floating vanity with hand-free faucets, or a radiant-heated floor for the ultimate spa-like experience.10

  1. Outdoor Upgrades

From exercise to gardening to safer options for entertaining, the pandemic has led homeowners to utilize their outdoor spaces more than ever. In fact, backyard swimming pool sales skyrocketed in 2020, with many installers reporting unprecedented demand.11 But a new pool isn’t the only way homeowners can elevate their outdoor area this year.

 

Composite decks have become a favourite upgrade for their low-maintenance and durability. And in 2021, creative design elements are on the rise, including unique inlays, wider planks, and multiple deck board colours. Add stair or bistro lights for a touch of ambiance while enhancing safety and visibility.8

 

DESIGNED TO SELL

 

Are you contemplating a remodel? Want to find out how upgrades could impact the value of your home? Buyer preferences vary greatly by neighbourhood and price range. We can share our insights and offer tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. And if you’re in the market to sell, we can run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

 

Sources:

  1. HGTV Canada –
    https://www.hgtv.ca/decorating/photos/home-design-trends-for-2021-1942419/#
  2. The Spruce –

https://www.thespruce.com/timeless-color-rule-797859

  1. The Kit –
    https://thekit.ca/life/home/home-decor-trends-2021-inspiration/
  2. Houzz –

https://www.houzz.com/magazine/36-home-design-trends-ready-for-takeoff-in-2021-stsetivw-vs~142229851

  1. Zillow –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-end-of-open-floor-plans-how-homes-will-look-different-after-coronavirus-301080662.html
  2. HGTV Canada –
    https://www.hgtv.ca/shows/family-home-overhaul/photos/the-top-design-trends-for-2021-according-to-hgtv-canada-design-experts-1943092/#currentSlide=5
  3. Pinterest –
    https://business.pinterest.com/content/pinterest-predicts/more-door/
  4. Canadian Contractor –
    https://www.canadiancontractor.ca/buildwire/decking-trends-for-2021/
  5. Homes & Gardens –
    https://www.homesandgardens.com/spaces/decorating/bedroom-trends-224944
  6. Canadian Interiors –
    https://www.canadianinteriors.com/2020/11/26/top-trends-to-impact-kitchen-and-bathroom-design-over-the-next-three-years-nkba/
  7. CTV News –
    https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/backyard-pool-sales-surge-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-1.4957596
Posted by Christine Pecharich
December 2020 Market Statistics

December 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release December Stats

Despite an unprecedented year due to COVID-19, including necessary public health restrictions and uncertainty surrounding the economy, Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported over 95,000 home sales in 2020 – the third-best result on record. The average selling price reached a new record of almost $930,000.

“The Greater Toronto Area housing market followed an unfamiliar path in 2020. Following the steep COVID-induced drop-off in demand during the spring, home sales roared back to record levels throughout the summer and fall. A strong economic rebound in many sectors of the economy, ultra-low borrowing costs and the enhanced use of technology for virtual open houses and showings fuelled and sustained the housing market recovery,” said Lisa Patel, Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) President.

Highlights from 2020 include:

  • 95,151 sales were reported through TRREB’s MLS® System – up by 8.4 per cent compared to 2019. This included a record result for the month of December, with 7,180 sales – a year-over-year increase of 64.5 per cent.
  • Year-over-year sales growth was strongest in the GTA regions surrounding Toronto, particularly for single-family home types.
  • The average selling price reached a new record of $929,699 – up by 13.5 per cent compared to 2019. This included an average price of $932,222 in December – a year-over-year increase of 11.2 per cent. The strongest average price growth was experienced for single-family home types in the suburban regions of the GTA.
  • After a pronounced dip in market activity between mid-March and the end of May, market conditions improved dramatically in the second half of the year, with multiple consecutive months of record sales and average selling prices.

“While the housing market as a whole recovered strongly in 2020, there was a dichotomy between the single-family market segments and the condominium apartment segment. The supply of single-family homes remained constrained resulting in strong competition between buyers and double-digit price increases. In contrast, growth in condo listings far-outstripped growth in sales. Increased choice for condo buyers ultimately led to more bargaining power and a year-over-year dip in average condo selling prices during the last few months of the year,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB Chief Market Analyst.

Area  Average Selling Price Current Month Percent increase/decrease ytd Average DOM Current month
       
Milton  $                      860,487.00 14.9% 14
Oakville  $                   1,246,101.00 19.4% 23
Burlington  $                      899,511.00 14.2% 18
Halton Hills  $                      905,440.00 17.8% 17
Guelph  $                      638,487.00 16.0% 21
Mississauga  $                      881,769.00 16.0% 17
       

Milton Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 14.9%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +9.6 %

Oakville Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 19.4%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +11.5 %

Burlington Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 14.2%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +18.9 %

 

Halton Hills Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 17.8%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +19.7 %

Mississauga Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 16%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +0 %

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Blog Posts, Burlington, Georgetown, Guelph, Halton Hills, Market Reports, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto
New Year, New Home? Set Homeownership Goals Whether You’re Buying, Selling, or Staying Put

New Year, New Home? Set Homeownership Goals Whether You’re Buying, Selling, or Staying Put

The start of a new year always compels people to take a fresh look at their goals, from health and career to relationships and finance. But with historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales and price growth, and a tight housing inventory, the time is right to also make some homeownership resolutions for 2021.

Home buyers, is this the year you work to improve your credit score, pay down some debt, or save for a down payment?

Home sellers, we’ve laid out plans for you to get top dollar for your property, including timing your home sale, making your property stand out from the crowd, and investing in your extra living space.

And even if you’re staying put for awhile, homeowners, you can resolve to improve your status quo by evaluating your home budget, finalizing your home maintenance schedule, or maybe investing in a second property.

So no matter your homeownership status, we’ve got some ideas and advice for you to make this year your best one yet. Read on to learn more.

 

HOME BUYERS

Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.

Your credit report highlights your current debt, bill-paying history, and other key financial information. Importantly for your home-buying journey, it is also used by lenders and companies to calculate your credit score, which partly determines if you are qualified to obtain a mortgage. Therefore, before you start house-hunting, make sure your finances are in the best possible shape by checking your credit report and credit score, available directly from Equifax and TransUnion.1

Your credit score will be a number ranging from 300-900. Generally speaking, a credit score of 725 or higher is considered very good to excellent.2 If your score drops below 725, you might need to work at boosting your score for a few months before you begin house-hunting. Ways to do this are to pay your bills on time every month, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid applying for new credit.3

  

Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt.

Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or car payments tying up your income each month? That debt is hurting your “buying power,” or the amount of home you can afford. Not only is it money that you can’t spend on your new home, but your debt-to-income ratio also affects your credit score, which we discussed above. The less debt you have, the higher your score and the better mortgage you can obtain.

If you can, pay off some debt in its entiretylike a low balance on a credit card. Then apply that “extra” money you previously paid on that credit card to pay off bigger debt, like a car loan. Even if you can’t pay off all (or any) of your debt in full, reducing the balances of each account will help you qualify for the best possible mortgage terms.

 

Resolution #3: Create a financial safety net before applying for a mortgage.

Don’t forget that buying a home requires some cash as well. The down payment depends on the home’s price, but the minimum is 5% for a purchase price of under $500,000, and closing costs range from 2-3%.4,5 You’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up. And as the pandemic taught us, you never know when an unforeseen event might cause a job loss, drop in income, or health scare, so having some liquid savings will ensure that you can still pay your mortgage if a crisis occurs.

Dedicate some effort to building up your reserves. Cut down on unnecessary expenses, and consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account to avoid the temptation to spend it.

 

HOME SELLERS

Resolution #4: Decide on the right time to sell your home.

In a typical year, spring is when home sales spike in Canada. This might be the best time to take advantage of the price increase predicted by the Canadian Real Estate Association, which says, “The national average price is forecast to rise by 9.1% in 2021 to $620,400.”6

But sales price isn’t the only thing to consider. You might not be ready to sell your home yet because you don’t want to uproot your kids during the school year or because you need to tackle some minor upgrades before placing your home on the market.

This means that there is no one month or season that is the perfect time to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit, personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to put on the market. A trusted real estate professional can talk you through your specific needs to clarify when to sell your home.

 

Resolution #5: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.

Housing inventory is at historic lows across the country, and that means the market is fiercely competitive.7 Selling your home in 2021 has the potential to net you a huge return right now, and you can maximize that amount with some simple fixes to make sure your property outshines your neighbors’ for sale down the street.

In your home, you might need to tackle a minor remodeling project, such as upgrading the flooring or adding a fresh coat of paint. According to one remodeling impact report, simply refinishing existing hardwood floors recoups 100% of the cost at resale, and completely replacing it with new wood flooring recovers 106% of costs.8

Outside, you might consider improving your curb appeal by removing a dead bush, trimming a tree that blocks the front window, or power-washing your moldy driveway and sidewalks. In fact, real estate agents say cleaning the exterior of your house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to a home’s sale price.9 And improving a home’s landscaping may increase its value by 15 to 25%.10

A good agent should provide custom-tailored suggestions to ensure your property pops inside and out. Ask us about our local insider secrets that will make your home stand out from others on the market.

 

Resolution #6: Invest in your “extra” living space to meet current buyers’ needs.

Due to COVID-19, more people are staying at home to work, go to school, exercise, and stay entertained. And these lifestyle changes are showing up in home buyer preferences. For example, according to one study, buyers are looking more and more for homes with formal, outfitted home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances.11

So if you’ve got an underutilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, schoolroom, or multi-purpose room to meet current home buyer needs and attract better offers on your home. Got some underwhelming space outside? You could turn it into an outdoor entertainment area by adding a firepit, upgrading the patio furniture, or installing a grilling area. Be sure to consult with a local real estate professional before investing in a renovation, however, as each market’s buyers have different tastes.

 

HOMEOWNERS

Resolution #7: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.

After this past year, in particular, your financial picture may have changed. Maybe you were furloughed, had your hours reduced, or got a new job further from home. Perhaps you’ve kept the same job, but you’re now working remotely. A work-from-home arrangement could mean less money spent on gas, tolls, a professional wardrobe, and dining out for lunch.

But this could also mean new (or increased) expenses now that you’re working at home, such as new tech-related purchases, faster Wi-Fi, and higher energy bills. January marks the perfect opportunity to update your income and expenses and review last year’s spending habits, tweaking as needed for 2021.

For more specific ideas, contact us for our free report “20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget.”

 

Resolution #8: Save money now (and earn more later) with a home maintenance plan.

Having a schedule of regular home maintenance projects to tackle will save you money now and in the long-term. You’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” and when you’re ready to eventually sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.

Even if nothing necessarily needs fixing right now, you can lower your energy costs by maintaining and upgrading your home. For example, consider upgrading some features to ENERGY STAR high-efficiency products. You could save 10% in energy costs if you switch out your gas broiler, and up to 45% if you change your windows!12,13

 For a breakdown of home maintenance projects to tackle throughout the year, contact us for our free report “House Care Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home.”

 

Resolution #9: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living.

Even if you don’t plan on leaving your current residence, real estate is a great way to improve your quality of life in 2021.

Have cabin fever from the long quarantine? A vacation home in a getaway location you love lets you safely spread your wings. And if you have been looking for a second stream of income, an investment property might be your answer. Just be sure to consult with a real estate professional to get a realistic sense of a property’s true income potential.

Want more information on how a second property fits into your 2021 plans? Request our free report, “Move Up vs Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?”

  

LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR 2021 GOALS

Without a plan and a support system, 73% of Canadians will break their new year’s resolutions.14 Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent to keep you motivated and on track.

As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and commit to a happy and prosperous new year.

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Government of Canada –
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/order-credit-report.html
  2. Equifax –
    https://www.consumer.equifax.ca/personal/education/credit-score/what-is-a-good-credit-score/
  3. Government of Canada –
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.html
  4. RateShop –
    https://www.rateshop.ca/page-minimum-down-payment-in-canada
  5. Bank of Montreal –
    https://www.bmo.com/main/personal/mortgages/closing-costs/
  6. Canadian Real Estate Association –
    https://www.crea.ca/housing-market-stats/quarterly-forecasts/
  7. Canadian Mortgage Trends –
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2020/12/tight-market-conditions-keep-home-sales-and-prices-at-historical-highs/
  8. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-remodeling-impact-10-03-2019.pdf
  9. House Logic –
    https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/
  10. Ottawa Citizen –
    https://ottawacitizen.com/life/homes/landscape-tips-to-increase-your-homes-value
  11. HomeLight –
    https://www.homelight.com/blog/top-agent-insights-for-q2-2020/
  12. Government of Canada –
    https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/10/21/23081
  13. Government of Canada –
    https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/11/26/winter-coming-top-tips-heat-your-home-less/23141
  14. Ipsos –
    https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/three-ten-31-canadians-will-set-new-years-resolution-yet-three-quarters-73-eventually-break-them

 

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Blog Posts
10 Ways to Give Back to Our Local Community This Holiday Season

10 Ways to Give Back to Our Local Community This Holiday Season

This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbours, and community. It truly “takes a village” to keep a community functioning effectively, whether that’s by keeping our waterways clean, feeding the hungry, teaching our kids, or supporting small businesses.

With the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home. You might want to focus your efforts near home, expand to our larger community, or even help support the people closest to you. Whether you’re passionate about a particular cause or just want to get more involved in general, let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good in your town.

GIVE BACK NEAR HOME

 Attract local wildlife. By making your neighbourhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination.1

Ideas:

  • Add a birdbath to your backyard or create a rain garden to attract wildlife (and filter out local pollutants).
  • Place bird feeders on your property to feed birds all year long.
  • Tie corncobs to tree branches to feed squirrels.
  • Hang birdhouses on your property to provide shelter.
  • Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters.

 Take action: While you might not be able to “break ground” until spring, start researching native plants now to design a landscaping plan that provides food, shelter, and water for local wildlife.

  

  1. Clean up our community. Besides beautifying the area, picking up trash keeps it out of our local waterways, which means a cleaner water supply for all of us.

Ideas:

  • Whether you make this a solo effort or join in an organized group event, pick up trash in your neighbourhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community.
  • Depending on your community’s regulations, you can recycle many home items such as paper, glass, and aluminum.
  • And don’t forget to clean the exterior of your home, where water runoff (such as on your driveway and sidewalks) can carry debris into the local sewer system.2

 Take action: Check with your local municipality to learn about environmental clean-up efforts in our community, as well as recycling and composting.

 

      3.  Organize or join a neighbourhood watch. According to a recent report, neighborhoods with Neighbourhood Crime Watch programs experience roughly 16 percent less crime.3 Keeping an eye out for each other instills a sense of safety and security in your neighborhood by increasing surveillance, reducing opportunities, and enhancing information sharing among residents. Even if your neighborhood doesn’t have an official program, you can still share crime information via a neighbourhood Facebook group or apps like NextDoor.

 Ideas:

  • Make a point of looking out for each other and being observant of what’s going on.
  • You can even make it official by joining a neighbourhood watch program.
  • Don’t have one? Consider launching a neighbourhood watch program with the help of other interested neighbours.

 Take action: Some police forces use online mapping tools that provide crime alerts to people in neighbourhoods where recent criminal activity occurred.3 Share this information with your neighbours.

HELP OUT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

 4.  Boost your civic engagement. Regardless of your politics, you can get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community.

 Ideas:

  • Sign a petition to make a needed change in our community.
  • Join a peaceful march, protest, or rally to support a cause dear to your heart.
  • Attend local school board meetings, town halls, or city council meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.4
  • Watch (and read) a variety of local news sources to get balanced reporting on what’s happening in our community.
  • If you don’t know your neighbours very well, introduce yourself.
  • Then make a commitment to check in on those who might need help, such as an elderly neighbor.
  • Get plugged into the resources and events in our town by visiting local museums, taking historical tours, borrowing materials from our local library, and attending community festivals.

 Take action: Do you know who our local leaders are, such as our mayor or city councilwoman? Get to know their names, their policies, and their stand on issues that affect our community. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media.

 

 5. Support local businesses. Our community has been impacted by the pandemic, with many businesses being forced to limit capacity, instill social distancing efforts, and even shutter entirely in some cases. Help keep money in our local economy by shopping local instead of relying on online shopping from national chains.

 Ideas:

  • From handcrafted soaps and one-of-a-kind apparel to locally produced chocolate and small-batch wines, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts at the small businesses that dot our community.
  • Consider purchasing tickets to attend live-streamed holiday concerts and shows.
  • Buy cookies and other baked goods from our local bakery.
  • Get takeout from our local restaurants.
  • Support local farmers by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at community farmer’s markets.

 Take action: If you’re concerned about shopping in person right now, many of these businesses, though small, offer online shopping, with options for in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, and/or mail options.

 

 6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission in our community. But if money is tight (or you want to support in other ways), think beyond just donating dollars.

 Ideas:

  • Consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name as an altruistic gift on behalf of a friend or relative.
  • Give blood to our local blood bank.
  • Donate new or used books to our community library.
  • Send school supplies to our neighbourhood elementary school.
  • Help struggling neighbours by donating blankets to the homeless.
  • Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families. 5

 Take action: Many collection efforts run by charitable organizations and businesses take place during the holidays. Look to see what’s already taking place in our community and choose one or more to give to this season.

CARE FOR YOUR NEIGHBOURS

 7. Organize a holiday food drive. This year, in particular, people are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. The pandemic has caused many businesses to close or reduce their staff size, putting many people out of work.

 Ideas:

  • If you personally know someone who needs help buying groceries, reach out and offer to help that one family.
  • If not, partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit or community organization that feeds people in need.
  • Round up a few friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to collect food for a few weeks. Then deliver the bounty in time for the holidays.

 Take action: Take advantage of your grocery store coupons and buy-one-get-one offers to inexpensively stock up on nonperishable goods.

 

 8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a struggle, especially financially, for some families. They might not be able to buy a Christmas tree or presents for their children. Maybe their holiday meal consists of boxed macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford a turkey and fresh vegetables. You can make a difference by “adopting” a particular family (or even just a child) to help make their holiday special.

 Ideas:

  • If you know a needy family, help them directly.
  • If not, ask a community group for the name of a family or individual in need.
  • Some businesses even sponsor toy drives or “angel trees” where you can pick the name of a needy family off the tree and buy from their wish lists.

 Take action: This works great as a family project. Get the kids in your life involved to help make holiday cards and pick out toys to give to the children in the adopted family.

 

 9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or ongoing project. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in your community as you make a positive impact together for a shared cause.

 Ideas:

  • Give your time to a cause or organization that really matters to you, such as your local school, animal rescue organization, mental health awareness group, or environmental nonprofit.6
  • Tap into a skill you already have, like creating videos, and offer your services.
  • Or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.

 Take action: Start with your local community to see where its needs are the greatest. Make a point to help this holiday season, perhaps extending your commitment throughout 2021.  

  1. Perform random acts of kindness. Don’t think you need to “go big or go home” in your give-back efforts. You can make a big difference one small act at a time.

 Ideas:

  • Give a generous tip to a waitress.
  • Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the drive-through.
  • Take care of a neighbour’s pet while they’re out of town.
  • Send holiday cards to deployed military personnel.
  • Deliver a plate of homemade holiday cookies to our local fire or police station.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Rake leaves for an elderly neighbour.
  • Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year.
  • Send an uplifting text to a friend.
  • Compliment someone.
  • Help a coworker with an unpleasant task.

 Take action: Need more ideas? Visit randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of inspiring ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.

HOW WE CAN HELP YOU?

As real estate experts in our local community, we’re tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to us today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And we want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, let us help you!

Sources:

  1. Redfin –
    https://www.redfin.com/blog/attract-wildlife-to-your-backyard/#:~:text=Sow%20plants%20that%20provide%20essentials,these%20alternate%20natural%20food%20sources
  2. The Groundwater Foundation –
    https://www.groundwater.org/action/home/raingardens.html
  3. The Globe and Mail –
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/how-neighbours-and-online-maps-can-help-deter-break-ins/article34886427/
  4. Parade –
    https://parade.com/1083640/stephanieosmanski/what-is-civic-engagement/
  5. MentalFloss –
    https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88663/15-ways-give-back-holiday-season
  6. Together We Rise –
    https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/7-ways-give-back-community/

 

Posted by Christine Pecharich