Information about local real estate market conditions

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

 Sunday, April 11, 2021     Marion Goard     Financial Health House and Home Real Estate Market Buying and Selling

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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 (with bidding wars) for homes in the most sought-after neighbourhoods. The 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's agent 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 risk (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 FSBO's 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.

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 on the listing agent's commission and have more control over the way the home is priced and marketed.

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

Even during last year's strong seller's market, the median sales price for FSBO's was 10% less than the median price of homes sold with the help of an real estate agent. And during a more balanced market, like the one we experienced in 2018, homes sold for 24% less than agent-represented properties. 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 stager and photographer, writing the listing description, and designing marketing collateral like fliers 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 this work, it's likely that you'll still need to pay the buyer's 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. 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 and online form with the 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 traditional real estate sales. 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 feed that can add up to as much or more than a traditional real estate agent's commission. 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. 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.

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. As a seller, the last thing you want is to start down the road of iBuying only to find that the 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. 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 experience 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 recommend to their clients. 

If you decide to forgo 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 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 mince and security in working with a reliable 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. 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 buyer (91%) and seller (89%) are thrilled with their real estate professional's representation and would recommend them to others. That's why, in terms of rime, 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.


COMING SOON TO REALTOR.CA

 Wednesday, April 7, 2021     Marion Goard     House and Home Real Estate Market Buying and Selling Just Listed

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Just in time to make the most of the summer months! Inground pool and hot tub!

Great family home in Burlington's Brant Hills! Over 3200 sq. ft of living space. 4 bedrooms / 3.5 bathrooms and a fully finished basement. 

Recent updates:

- most windows

- shingles. eaves and skylight

- pool heater, pool pump, safety cover

- hot tub pump

- granite counter in kitchen

MLS Date - Thursday April 15, 2021. Visit www.2452overton.ca for room sizes and details.

Offers, if any, reviewed on Monday April 19, 2021.

Don't miss out - make this one yours! Contact Marion Goard for additional details.

List Price:  $1,149,000

# Rooms (above grade):   8

Bedrooms:  4

Bathrooms: 3.5

Basement:  Full/Finished

Size: 2137 sq. ft.

Garage: Double Attached

Taxes: $5096 (2020)

Lot: 49.86 ft. x 104.08 ft.

 

 


Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

 Monday, March 1, 2021     Marion Goard     House and Home Real Estate Market Buying and Selling

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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 agents 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 country's overall economic output.

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 I 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.

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. 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 in increasing consumer debt. 

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's supposed to do.

Effect of low interest rates

The Bank of Canada projects continuing low interest rates until sometime in 2023, aiding in economic recovery and increasing affordability. 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 very 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. 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.

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 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 rentals, and less tourist demand for short-term rentals.

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.

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 centres 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. 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 of 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.

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 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. Thus, we could be looking at another longer-than-ususal, white-hot real estate market.

What's next for the Canadian real estate market?

Projections vary widely, with some economists predicting a market connection 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.

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?

While economic indicators and trends are national, real estate is local. I'm 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.


Estate Planning Should Be Legacy Planning

 Wednesday, February 17, 2021     Christine Brunsden     Financial Health House and Home Real Estate Market

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This article is reproduced with permission. Originally written and published by Christine Brunsden (TEP, CEA, EPC, MFA-P), Founder of Trusted Legacy & Co-Founder of Legacy You.

For decades people have talked about 'estate planning' - the act of devising a plan to distribute stuff upon passing. Increasingly, it is an outdated notion - one that is being replaced by a more powerful idea. It is called 'legacy planning.'

Legacy planning encompasses estate planning - the distribution of assets - as well as the morals, ideals, beliefs, philosophies, and core values they would like to impress upon their heirs. It also sets the state to craft a family narrative that speaks to much more that just the distribution of assets on death. We call it creating a 'legacy mission statement.'

For many, legacy planning places an emphasis on philanthropy, which is driven by contemplating one's social capital. Social capital is defined as the relationships between individuals and organizations that facilitate action and value. Luckily, Canada's tax system is very generous in support of philanthropy; yet, most people are unaware of the rules and laws designed to encourage us to give, especially on death.

What is a legacy plan?

Think of your legacy plan as the road-map you carefully design to achieve your objectives and to provide important information to those who will act on your behalf when you are no longer capable or have passed away.

Here are some of the essential elements to be considered when planning your legacy:

  • Self-reflection and determination of your core values and beliefs as they relate to personal family and community relationships important to you
  • Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney
  • Beneficiary and guardianship designations
  • Charitable foundations or donor-advised funds and your recognition preferences
  • Personal information
  • Beneficiary information
  • Inventory of assets and liabilities
  • List of digital assets, computer information, social media platforms and passwords
  • Memberships, subscriptions and loyalty programs
  • Instructions for location pertinent documents and/or assets

Letters of Wishes, memorandums, care plans, living arrangement preferences, pet provisions, funeral/burial wishes.

Some additional elements you may wish to include in your legacy plan are:

  • Medical history information
  • Legacy stories
  • Letters or video messages for loved ones (how would you like to be remembered?)

Why do I need a legacy plan?

Without a valid power of attorney, someone will need to apply to a court for permission to act as your legal representative or guardian.

Without a valid Will, you are deemed to have passed 'intestate' and provincial legislation will set out how your estate will be distributed, which may not align with your wishes. You will not have the ability to appoint executors, trustees, or guardians for your children under the age of 18. You will also not have the ability to engage in effective tax planning or provide gifts to the individuals or charities of your choice. By failing to plan, you leave your affairs in limbo, until a person or governmental body can be appointed, which results in further delay and potential increased cost to your estate.

If you are comfortable doing so, communicate your plan ahead of time to the individuals who will act on your behalf. It is also advisable to communicate your plan to your heirs when they are of an appropriate age. The will allow those who are impacted by your plan to ask questions and seek clarification from you while you are still able to provide it.

Keep your plan in a secure location (not a safety deposit box) and provide its location to those who will require access to it.

When is the best time to start planning?

Planning should be considered a lifelong activity - one that begins when you are legally able to sign documents and ends upon death.

Can you imagine if each of us decided today it was important to make a plan for the loved ones we leave behind? Imagine what could be achieved if we led by example and engrained in future generations how important it is to plan, organize, and communicate all aspects of a legacy plan. It would be empowering for our loved ones and the causes we love.

Who can assist me in developing my plan?

You can engage a legacy planning professional, wealth advisor, accountant or lawyer to assist you in planning your legacy. The TEP designation (Trust and Estate Practitioner) demonstrates the professional has an advanced understanding of trust and estates, and they take a proactive approach, working at the forefront of the latest developments in the industry.

Remember that the best planning allows for collaboration amongst all your trusted experts. It is important to ensure your plan is reviewed regularly and updated over your lifetime, based on changes to your individual circumstances and legislation.

If you have questions about legacy planning, please reach out to Christine Brunsden.  She can be reached at christine@trustedlegacy.ca 


90 Dorchester Drive, Grimsby ON - Exclusive Listing - Coming Soon to Realtor.ca

 Sunday, February 7, 2021     Marion Goard     House and Home Real Estate Market Buying and Selling Just Listed

Great potential!  A rare opportunity for contractors, builders and nature lovers in Grimsby's Dorchester Estates. Spectacular 77 x 455+ foot, tiered lot with Bruce Trail owned land behind.

This 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath, 1250 sq. ft. Hall Ogilvie bungalow was built with plaster construction and hardwood flooring (now under broadloom) in the principal rooms, a bright and spacious living room with fireplace (gas insert) plus a separate dining room. The primary bedroom includes a 2 piece en-suite bath. Full, unfinished basement.  Owned water heater. Furnace - 2021.

This tranquil property boasts majestic trees along with a stream and varied flora and fauna yet it's close to parks, schools and other amenities. Easy access to QEW.

The property is subject to authority of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Interior photo's will be available February 20, 2021.

MLS Date - Sunday February 21, 2021. Visit www.90dorchester.ca for room sizes and more pictures.

Offers, if any, reviewed Sunday February 28, 2021.

Don't miss out - make this one yours!  Contact Marion Goard for additional details.

List Price:   $774,900

# Rooms (above grade):  6

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 1.5

Basement:  Full/Unfinished

Size: 1250 sq. ft.

Garage: Single Attached

Taxes: $5843.68

Lot:  77.18 x 458.70 x 75.05 x 475.76

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  Marion was very honest with me and guided me in the right direction.

Harvey Baldwin, Burlington, ON

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