Cancellation of Home Retrofit Program –

A lot of home sellers have reaped the rewards of the home retrofit program. The benefits were two fold in that home owners made their homes more efficient while at the same time increasing the value of their properties. The program was introduced in 2007 as the ecoEnergy program. After conducting the initial audit home owners were able to update their properties with everything from insulation to furnaces and air conditioners in order to get back as much as $5,000 in rebates. In order to obtain the rebates a follow up audit had to be performed.

This program was intended to run until March 2011. However, on March 31st at 5pm ET it was announced that the Department of Natural Resources would not be accepting any new applicants to the program. Those who have had the first audit done can complete their retrofits and then complete the second audit to get the rebates. According to the press release If you have already booked an appointment for a pre-retrofit evaluation, have completed an evaluation or applied for re-entry to the program, you remain eligible to apply for a grant.” Homeowners who have not booked an audit will not be eligible for the rebate. The Government will be administering the program until March 31, 2011.

The speed at which the program was cancelled and with little to no warming is drawing fire from the political opposition. This program was also creating many jobs in Canada.

I know that I personally have benefited from this program, as have numerous clients of mine. Hopefully the decision makers will reconsider this decision. For those of you that missed the opportunity you may want to send your opinion to Ottawa. For those that are still going to squeak in under the wire, you will want to make the most of the opportunity.

If I can be of assistance to you with regard to this information, please contact me at 905-330-1241 or rdavison@trebnet.com. All the best. Ryan.

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The February 2010 Real Estate Market was Golden! (Oakville & Milton)

(March 2010 – Oakville – Milton, Ontario) For the month of February 2010, The Oakville, Milton and District Real Estate Board *total sales transactions were 786, an increase of 45 per cent over February 2009. Sales have shot up sharply in the last two months, confirming an increasingly strong market. This is verified by looking at February sales from years past, compared to 2008 they are 14 per cent ahead and 47 per cent ahead when compared to those in February 2007. The total value of sales processed through the Board MLS® System also demonstrates a consistent increase. The Oakville, Milton and area resale market reported a **total dollar volume of sales for the February 2010 of 115 per cent higher than 2009 and 127 per cent year to date, according to Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) statistics released by The Oakville, Milton and District Real Estate Board.

“Our market is very healthy and sustained low interest rates have made it a great time for buyers and sellers. I anticipate an even stronger market for the up-coming Spring,” states Oakville, Milton and District Real Estate Board President Jeff Mahannah. “Even with the government changes to the mortgages rules of limiting buyers to a mortgage of 35 years and requiring a minimum of five per cent down payment, I predict that we are going to see records set for real estate sales and prices this year.”

Residential resales in Oakville for February 2010 are up by 85 per cent over February 2009 with an average price of $586,031 and a median price of $498,000 representing a 32 per cent and 31 per cent increase respectively over the same month last year. The luxury market is very healthy in Oakville, recording 22 sales over a $1,000,000 in February 2010, compared to 4 in February 2009.

Milton’s sales were up by 67 per cent and the average sale price was $381,134, an increase of 23 per cent when compared to February 2009.

Year to date residential sales in Milton show a 72 per cent increase when compared to 2009 and Oakville demonstrates a very healthy 101 per cent increase.

Also notable are the Days on the Market Activity for both Milton and Oakville. For Milton in February buyers had to move quickly and make decisions fast as the average time period was 13 days. Oakville also had a very short time period of 25 days, indicating we are in a seller’s market. Consumers should note that the comparisons to 2009 to 2010 will continue to be extreme through to the beginning of the second quarter due to the low sales activity during that period in 2009.

*The total sales are comprised of all sales by OMDREB Members, regardless of jurisdiction.
**Total dollar volume of sales reflects “all property types” including residential, condominiums,
commercial property, farmland and sale of businesses.

Source: The Oakville, Milton and District Real Estate Board

These are some exciting sales figures. If I can be of assistance with any of your Real Estate needs please do not hesitate to contact me at 905-330-1241 or rdavison@trebnet.com .

Low inventory levels set stage for heated Spring market in most major Canadian centres, says RE/MAX

Active listings down in 81 per cent of markets in January

Lack of inventory will be the greatest challenge facing housing markets across the country this Spring, according to a report released by RE/MAX.

The RE/MAX Market Trends Report 2010, which examined real estate trends and developments in 16 markets across the country, found that unusually strong activity during one of the traditionally quietest months of the year has led to a sharp decline in active listings in 81 per cent of markets surveyed. The threat of higher interest rates, tighter lending criteria, and in British Columbia and Ontario, the introduction of the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) have clearly served to kick-start real estate activity from coast-to-coast, prompting an unprecedented influx of purchasers. As a result, 87.5 per cent of markets posted an increase in sales in January. Average price appreciated in 81 per cent of markets surveyed.

There have never been so many motivating factors in play at once. We’re in for a heated Spring market that will, in all probability, spill over into the summer months, as the window of opportunity draws to a close. The supply of homes listed for sale has been drastically reduced, housing values are once again on the upswing, and banks and governments are moving in unison toward stricter lending policies.

Markets experiencing the tightest inventory levels include Toronto (- 41 per cent); Kitchener-Waterloo
(-33 per cent); Ottawa (- 30 per cent); Victoria (- 30 per cent); Greater Vancouver (- 27 per cent); Halifax-Dartmouth (- 19 per cent); London-St. Thomas (- 18 per cent); Regina (- 16 per cent); and Winnipeg (- 13 per cent). Conditions were still balanced, but starting to tighten in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, particularly in the single-family detached category.

The highest year-over-year sales gains were reported in Greater Vancouver (152 per cent), Kelowna (121 per cent), Greater Toronto (87 per cent), Victoria (69 per cent), Hamilton-Burlington (58 per cent), London-St. Thomas (55 per cent) and Calgary (47 per cent). Western Canadian cities dominated the list of centres with the highest increases in price appreciation. These included Victoria at 25.5 per cent, Kelowna at 22 per cent, Greater Vancouver at 19.5 per cent, and Winnipeg at 17 per cent. St. John’s (23 per cent) and Toronto (19 per cent) were also among the frontrunners for price growth.

Affordability is the catalyst for the vast majority of purchasers in today’s housing market. While homeownership is still within reach in many major centres, levels are slipping. There is a growing sense, on both sides of the fence, that the time to act is now.

While buyers are taking advantage of favourable conditions, sellers too are reaping the rewards. Competing bids are a factor in the marketplace once again, with well-priced listings—especially at the entry-level price point—experiencing multiple offers. Properties priced at fair-market value will likely sell quickly for top dollar. The overall pressure on sales and price is significant across the board – and it’s not likely to subside unless more inventory comes on-stream.

The level of frustration is growing, as pent-up demand builds. For every successful offer, there are those that will walk away empty-handed. They’re thrust back into the buyer pool and the process starts all over again. Some buyers are upping the ante, while others are considering alternate housing options. Still, purchasers remain cautious in their bids, with most careful not to max out debt service ratios.

Recent revisions to lending criteria will add fuel to the fire in the short term. Buyers considering a variable rate mortgage will step up their plans for homeownership in the next month or so just to get in under the wire. In the longer term, buyers will adjust, but move forward. Compromise has long been a reality—particularly in the larger centres. This simply means they may go smaller or further in their pursuits.

It’s been a 180 degree turnaround from this time last year. It’s clear that real estate from coast to coast has roared back to life and markets are once again firing on all cylinders. The vast majority of markets are now recovered and fully-evolved, with all segments working in tandem. At the luxury price point, activity was brisk in seventy-three per cent of centres surveyed, with momentum ramping up in the remainder. Opportunity exists in some areas, but the question is for how much longer?

The local real estate market is quite active at the moment. Should you wish to discuss how the information above might impact the value of your current home or the price of a home you might be considering, please feel free to contact me at rdavison@trebnet.com or 905-330-1241. Exciting times!

Jim Flaherty’s Changes to Mortgage Qualification Rules

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced three changes to Canadian mortgage rules on February the 16th. These are important changes, but less important that what Mr. Flaherty did not change. There had been industry talk of increasing the minimum down payment from 5% to 10% and shortening the maximum amortization period from the available 35 years. Thankfully Jim Flaherty understood that increasing the down payment rules and shortening the amortization would potentially put the brakes on higher priced markets like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

The changes that the Finance Minister did make are designed to impact real estate speculators and heavily indebted people looking to roll higher priced debt into their mortgages. The every day home purchaser should not notice much of a difference following the implementation of the changes as of April 19th, 2010. These changes impact mortgages with less than 20 per cent down that are covered by government backed mortgage insurance, in the following ways:

– Increased mortgage term used for mortgage qualification calculations. Regardless of the term or type of mortgage the consumer selects, they must qualify against the 5 year fixed rate. This is up from the 3 year fixed rate that is currently used for qualification. Once qualified against the 5 year fixed rate, the consumer can select whichever type and term of mortgage they wish. This approach will insulate borrowers from the shock of the rising rates in the future.

– Increased down payment requirements for income properties when the property is not the owner’s principal residence. Investors that purchase these investment properties will have to come up with a 20% down payment to qualify for mortgage insurance as of April 19th, 2010, instead of the 5% down payment required at the moment. Currently, very few investors would purchase a rental property with 5% down payment.

– Mortgage refinance restrictions. Home owners that are looking to roll higher priced consumer debt into their longer term, lower cost mortgage debt through refinancing will face limited access to their equity. Currently, home owners are able to take up to 95% of the equity out of their homes. As of April 19, 2010 refinancing will only be allowed to a limit of 90% of the equity of the home.

Jim Flaherty’s changes to mortgage qualification rules are slightly more restrictive than what was in place prior to his February 16th, 2010 announcement. However, he has not implemented any changes that will put healthy Canadian real estate markets in shackles. These are responsible restrictions that will help the real estate market avoid over heating and heading toward bubble territory.

Should you have any questions about this or any other piece on the 905 West Word blog please feel free to contact me at rdavison@trebnet.com or 905-330-1241.

PODS: An Innovative Moving Solution.

From time to time on this Blog, I like to highlight some valuable services that I have personally experienced and consider quite useful. As my licensed assistant, Natalie Chapman, is an Accredited Staging Professional (ASP), we often provide staging advice to our clients. A common challenge in preparing a home for market is the need to pare down the owner’s belongings. One of the fantastic tools that my team likes to use are PODS, or Portable On Demand Storage for many of my clients.

PODS will drop off the correct sized POD — 7’, 12’ or 16’ — to the initial site of your move and then wait for you to tell them when it is convenient to have it picked up. You pack the POD, although packing services are available, and then put your own lock on it. A simple phone call will arrange pick up of the packed POD. You can have it delivered to the new location immediately or store the POD until it is convenient to take delivery of the POD and its contents. Should you be selling your current home with a layover period before possession of your new home, this service is for you. Access to your POD can be arranged while in storage with 24 hour notice. This truly unique answer to the problem of clutter in homes is fantastically flexible and cost effective.

While Staging is much more than simply de-cluttering, it is an important part of the process. PODS can make storage and de-cluttering a simple process. You can obtain a quote from their website www.pods.com or call 1-866-229-4120. All of my clients are eligible for a discount on PODS which I am more than happy to pass along. Good luck and Happy De-Cluttering!