With technology always on hand and information literally at their fingertips, the hyper-connected Millennial generation has taken a do-it-yourself approach when it comes to consumables, including everything from products and services, to purchases of every kind – including real estate. Generation Y might as well be called Generation DIY. The appeal in DIY lies in the flexibility, customization and let’s face it, the cost-effectiveness. As a consumer, job one is educating yourself, weighing your options, and making an informed decision. When it comes to real estate, an FSBO could be the right decision for those who want to save the commission fee and take the reins when it comes to all aspects of their transaction. But buyer and seller beware – an FSBO has some drawbacks as well. Here are five things to know about FSBO.
There can be a lot of stress involved when trying to sell your home and one of the biggest factors that is always on a seller’s mind is showing process. While your home is on the market, you never know when a showing is going to be scheduled and therefore sellers must be on their toes in making sure their home is tidy and looks its best to potential buyers. However, with so many things to organize before a showing, it can be easy for a seller to forget to do something essential before an agent brings a potential buyer through your home.
We’ve reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers – a panel of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada – to narrow down a list of the top things that sellers often forget to do before showing their home.
Lighting & Blinds
When it comes to showing your home, lighter is brighter! For daytime showings, opening up those blinds and curtains and turning off all artificial light will allow the natural light to flood your home. Walking into a bright, airy space is going to give a much better first impression to potential buyers than walking into a dark space.
“For showings after dusk, you want to showcase your home right from when a potential buyer pulls up to your property. Having all exterior lights on will help guide the agent and clients to the front door, as well as reduce the potential for any injuries if it Is winter and there may be a slip hazard on the driveway. All lights on in the interior will give a better first impression of the home if the potential buyer has just come from looking at a property where it was dark upon entering,” says Cheryl MacIsaac, RE/MAX Baughan Realty, Wainwright, AB. “This will also help the showing agent as they will not need to search for light switches to turn on lights. It also lets the seller know if the showing has occurred as most agents will turn off the lights upon leaving each room, if instructed to do so.”
Clean & Tidy
One of the most important things that a seller must do when selling their home is keeping it clean and tidy. While sweeping floors and vacuuming the carpets will speed up your cleaning process, sellers often forget to tidy things that they may be accustomed to, such as pet items, which may end up turning buyers away.
“Sellers often forget to make sure that family pets and their bedding, toys and litter boxes/yards may not be clean or out of the way. It is so important as some buyers are allergic, don’t have pets or if they smell pet odours it may turn them off from buying,” says Sandra Benz, RE/MAX Performance Realty, Delta, BC.
Another important thing to remember when preparing your home for showings is to open a window or two and allow some fresh air into your space! As Ray Yenkana, RE/MAX Little Oak Realty, Surrey, BC says, “Sellers are used to their smells, but those smells may be an instant turn off to potential buyers!”
Close that Lid!
A simple, yet easily forgotten thing that sellers often forget about when preparing to show their home is to put the toilet seat down. As easy as it is to close the lid behind you, many sellers completely overlook this aspect of cleaning their bathroom.
“Sellers often forget to put the toilet lid down. First impressions are everything; you want people to see the room, not the inside of a toilet,” says May Smith, RE/MAX Little Oak Realty, Surrey, BC.
As Shauna Thompson of RE/MAX Fort McMurray says, “It becomes a distraction to the buyer, and the buyer’s agent doesn’t want to have to touch the toilets to put the seats down!”
When it comes to preparing your house for a showing, it can be easy to overlook the little things that may deter a potential buyer, such as displaying personal items. Things like family photos and sentimental items may seem like a good idea, as it can make the space look more inviting and lived-in, but many potential buyers have a hard time imagining themselves living in the space if it is filled with personal items.
“It’s harder for buyers to imagine themselves living in the house with other people’s photos and they waste time trying to figure out if they know the sellers or what the relationship may be/family composition/reason for selling may be,” says Curtus Collins, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate, Regina, SK.
Garage & Driveway
The garage and driveway are two areas that sellers often overlook when preparing their home for a showing, yet these are two areas of your home that potential buyers will be extremely interested in. Whether a new buyer is planning to use the garage for storage or parking, it is important to prepare the garage for a showing so anyone walking through can get a good idea of how much space there is to work with. As Kimberly Graham of RE/MAX River City in Edmonton, AB says, “Leave a way to access the garage. Most often it is a space where sellers store everything they have decluttered, so they can keep their things safe. However, buyers still want to see the garage!”
The driveway is another part of the home that is often not considered but is very important to potential buyers, as it is often one of the first things they will notice when driving up to the property. In particular, potential buyers will be considering their parking situation and how their vehicles and recreational vehicles, such as RV’s and boats, will fit in the driveway. If possible, ensure that your driveway is as clear as it can be to allow buyers to get an accurate representation of just how much parking is available.
“When buyers come o view the home if they are driving along with their agent, or separately, it draws attention to limited parking. This can be particularly challenging for homes in cul-de-sacs or places where parking could be a concern as the driveway will announce it as a challenge,” says Taylor Hack, RE/MAX River City, Edmonton, AB.
Source: REMAX Blog
Whether you're a first-time home buyer gearing up for the biggest purchase of your life or a long-time homeowner looking to downsize, it's important to understand the trends emerging from both the national and local levels that will shape your decision to buy this year.
The state of national home sales and prices
Canadian home sales staged a comeback last year after a slow start and it's expected this momentum will carry on throughout 2020. But as sales climb in many major Canadian housing markets, supply is struggling to keep pace with demand. In fact, as 2019 drew to a close, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue called the lack of listings “the main housing story in Canada.” So let's just say this is a major trend to pay attention to.
The lack of supply has pushed a large number of Canadian markets into seller's market territory. With demand showing no signs of slowing down thanks to strong employment figures and population growth, prices will likely keep pushing higher. This is good news for home sellers planning on downsizing, but first-time buyers will continue to face affordability challenges, especially if they're looking in Toronto and Vancouver.
According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), housing activity will continue to strengthen into 2020, with prices continuing to rise in many parts of Canada. Market balance favours sellers particularly in central and eastern Canada.
Where are interest rates heading in 2020?
Beyond population growth and strong employment figures, consistently low-interest rates helped the Canadian housing market bounce back in 2019 as prospective home buyers were able to stretch their budgets further. No significant hikes are currently anticipated for 2020 and there may be further declines in the cards. Many economists are predicting the Bank of Canada will cut its key interest rate sometime this year in the face of weaker economic growth. If this happens, you can expect lenders to cut mortgage rates too.
Recent government action
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) is a shared-equity mortgage program announced in Budget 2019 and launched in September of the same year. For qualifying homes, the federal government contributes 5 or 10% towards the purchase of a newly constructed home, or 5% for an existing home, in exchange for a corresponding equity stake in the property. To participate, a first-time home buyer's household income can't exceed $120,000.
The FTHBI was introduced as one of the government’s measures to provide relief to first-time buyers who were affected by stricter mortgage underwriting practices that came into effect in January 2018. Ahead of the 2019 October's federal election, the Liberal platform proposed enhancements to allow more homes in the greater Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria regions to qualify. Any such modifications will need to be actioned by the government.
In addition to launching the FTHBI, government also expanded eligibility criteria for the Home Buyer's Plan to those who have experienced the breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership, while increasing the withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $35,000.
5 markets to watch in 2020
Canada's priciest housing market began to rebound toward the end of 2019 with sales activity rising and momentum expected to continue into 2020. Vancouver has seen price declines through 2018 and 2019, but this has generally been viewed as a positive development as the housing market has held the title of “Canada's least affordable” for years now. These price declines, along with lower mortgage rates, have allowed buyers to jump back into the market. Vancouver continues to project economic strength with a growing population so there's little doubt it will remain a fundamentally strong market to buy into despite some challenges.
Canada's largest city ended 2019 with its housing market reaching seller's territory as activity revved back up through the year. In a commentary published in January, Toronto Real Estate Board Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer wrote that the Toronto market is “tight” and price growth will likely accelerate through 2020. While this may make it a great year for downsizers to list their homes, conditions will remain tougher to navigate for first-time buyers. Thankfully, all home buyers should be helped along by lower mortgage rates.
In its Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2020 report, PwC named Ottawa one of its top markets to watch for the year, citing its solid economic growth and vibrant housing market. “Migration from other cities, including from Toronto-area residents looking for more affordable housing options, has helped the city's population surpass the one-million mark,” the firm wrote in its report.
Montreal has long been one of Canada's strongest housing markets and is expected to remain hot through 2020 and into 2021. Writing about the Montreal market at the end of 2019, BMO Senior Economist Robert Kavcic attributed the strength to “solid demand fundamentals, favourable affordability and increased non-resident investment.” While 2020 is expected to be another banner year for the market, a persistent lack of supply that continues to undershoot market demand will be a challenge. With sellers in control of Montreal housing, the city's image as a relatively affordable market is beginning to fade, though it remains much more of a steal when compared to Vancouver and Toronto.
In its Emerging Trends Report, PwC also pointed to the winning streak the Halifax economy has been on, noting strong growth is projected to continue into 2020. This economic strength has meant immigration to the city is rising, which in turn means demand for homes is on an upward trajectory. According to CREA, Halifax's housing market is in seller's territory. This is unlikely to change with housing demand showing no signs of slowing and the city's economy firing on all cylinders.
Source: Living Room Blog, Realtor.ca
5 Facts About FSBOs
What is an FSBO, anyway?
FSBO is an acronym for “For Sale By Owner,” meaning the seller hasn’t retained the services of a professional agent to assist with the sale of their home. By doing all the legwork in selling your property yourself, the seller will save on the commission fees he or she would be required to pay to both the selling agent and the buyer’s agent.
Selling a home is a full-time job.
Now, we’re not saying you can’t sell your home yourself, because you can. There are plenty of resources out there to help you DIY. We’re just saying that a professional, experienced real estate agent can do a better job of it, and get you more money too. While saving on the agent’s commission might be tempting, consider what you get as part of the price you pay, including (but not limited to!):
All this takes know-how and time. And you likely already have a full-time job, right? And remember that for avid home hunters, listings get stale fast. If you home’s been on the market for an extended period, due to delays related to home staging, marketing and showing, prospective buyers will lose interest fast. Remember: you only have one chance to make a first impression.
Some hard stats:
While Canadian statistics on FSBOs are limited, the US-based National Association of Realtors has done some research on the subject:
• FSBOs represented 7% of home sales in 2017.
• The typical FSBO home sold for $200,000, versus to $265,500 for agent-assisted transactions.
• FSBO methods used to market a listing:
Yard sign: 22%
Friends, relatives, or neighbours: 18%
Online classified advertisements: 6%
Open house: 10%
FSBO websites: 5%
Social media: 12%
Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website: 4%
Print newspaper advertisement: 2%
Direct mail (flyers, postcards, etc.): 2%
No advertising: 49%
• Most difficult tasks reported by FSBO sellers:
Getting the right price: 17%
Understanding and performing paperwork: 12%
Selling within the planned length of time: 5%
Preparing/fixing up the home for sale: 8%
Having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale: 3%
Risks and rewards
For novices, the FSBO transaction can be tricky. As with all things, the more you do something, the better you’ll be at it. Experienced real estate agents can be worth their weight in gold. Again, we’re not saying you can’t sell your home yourself, and in fact, many people do. But there are risks that can be mitigated by working with someone who’s been there, done that. Potential pitfalls include:
• Pricing that could turn off prospective buyers.
• Misunderstood legal matters disclosed in writing.
• Safety concerns with showing your own home.
• Poor negotiation that leaves money on the table.
• Unrealistic promises as part of the deal.
Your agent is a Boy Scout: always prepared.
As a seller, how do you get the phone to ring? Generating interest from potential buyers is the key objective of listing agents. Especially in a buyer’s market, yard signs won’t cut it. If you’re not a real estate agent, or a marketing or advertising professional, you likely don’t know where to start – and who could blame you? Marketing through yard signs, brochures, and online and print advertising can help spread the word. How does a virtual tour sound? Do you plan to host an open house for buyers? What about an open house for agents and brokers? Beyond marketing, an FSBO means you get to juggle third parties such as a home stager, photographer, appraiser, the buyer’s agent (or if they’re DYI-ing it as well, the buyers), then throw in a pile of paperwork, just for fun – NOT.
Then there’s the legal stuff…
Once you have a buyer who is interested in purchasing your home, consider the legal side of things. The buyer will submit an offer, and when you’re confident that you have a good deal on the table (you are confident that it’s a good offer, right?), a contract will need to be signed by yourself and your buyer. Remember, if it’s not written in the contract and signed, then it doesn’t count. An Agreement of Purchase and Sale will include details about the buyer, the seller and the property. It will outline the purchase price, the deposit, fixtures and chattels, title searches, closing arrangements, conditions and clauses. A real estate lawyer can help with this step of the process. The benefit of working with an agent is that oftentimes, they already have a lawyer they regularly work with, to ensure all legal matters are handled correctly and in a timely manner.
Your home is likely your biggest asset. When you’re ready to sell the place, ensure you’re well-represented – whether you represent yourself, or are backed by a professional real estate agent. A “minor” mistake can mean the difference between a lucrative sale, or tens of thousands of dollars left on the table. As the consumer, do your due diligence and make an informed decision before you start the selling process.
First Annual Serenity Gardens Winter Light Display at Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa!
A kaleidoscope of thousands of dazzling lights illuminate the gardens with enchantment. Captivating highlights include towering conifers, cherry blossom trees, weeping willows, evergreens, shimmering tulips, illuminated grasses and 10ft tall Dandelions all aglow with magic.
In the spirit of the season, from December 2019 to February 2020, the Kingfisher’s impressive dazzling garden light display is FREE by donation.
The new benchmark rate used to determine the minimum qualifying rate for insured mortgages, coming into effect on April 6, 2020, will be the weekly median 5-year fixed insured mortgage rate from mortgage insurance applications, plus 2 per cent.
Recently, the gap between the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate and borrowers’ actual contract rates has been widening, suggesting the benchmark rate has become less responsive to changes in the market.
In October 2016, Finance Canada introduced a stress test for insured mortgages. In 2017, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) issued an update to Guideline B-20, requiring uninsured mortgages to be stress-tested as of January 2018. CREA data indicates that per capita sales activity for residential units in 2018 reached its lowest point since 2001, with 2019’s final sales total tied for second-worst.
“REALTORS® have advocated for changes to the stress test on behalf of potential homeowners who have been sidelined, borrowers who have moved away from the regulated market to less-regulated options, and real estate markets across the country in need of relief,” said Jason Stephen, President of The Canadian Real Estate Association. “We are pleased the government has taken steps to address some of these issues in Canadian housing markets.”
In response to the impacts of the stress test, CREA has recommended:
- reviewing the mortgage stress test to ensure the realities of local real estate markets are taken into consideration; and
- allowing existing mortgage holders to be exempted from the stress test at the time of renewal.
CREA welcomes today’s announcement and acknowledges government’s efforts to help Canadians achieve their housing needs through policy reflective of market conditions.
CREA CEO Michael Bourque said “Today’s announcement introduces a more dynamic measure to act as a minimum qualifying rate. The Bank of Canada’s weekly median 5-year fixed insured mortgage rate plus 200 basis points will be more responsive.”
CREA will be providing input as OSFI considers the same benchmark rate for uninsured mortgages and will continue advocating for policy solutions that make it easier for Canadians to find a home that is right for them.