The Calm Before The Storm

The Calm Before The Storm


Usually around this time of year the housing market slows down a bit before the Spring. Sellers are gaging the market for the spring. Other people are on vacation and are just getting back. So for right now it is a little calmer than normal. That is not to say people are not buying or selling houses. They are!

Clients always ask me what do I think the market will do in the spring? The truth is nobody knows. CTV news who always will have some crazy report around this time of year to scare people doesn’t know either. Its always a toss up to predict what will happen when some minor change occurs in the market. 

CREA recently said that it expects the market to get higher for the rest of the year and into next year. Is that possible? It already has been a hot and crazy market for the past few years. Can we really see values going higher? Personally I see that happening because space is running out and the banks are approving mortgages. 

So who knows, maybe the prices for 1 bedroom condos will go up to $700k this fall. Maybe if you want a detached house, you’ll have to dish out over a 2 million dollars. I say we make pricing easy for everybody, Condo=$500k Semi=$900 Detached=1.8 Million. Those prices seem fair. 
Also a new rule is that you can never trade down or go into a rental. Hey I’ve seen crazier rules get passed, such as the public being allowed to post on MLS for next to nothing or lets say two land transfer taxes in Toronto.
The Calm Before The Storm

Finding a good school before you move

for saleMoving and relocating your child to a new home, a new neighborhood and a new school is always going to be difficult, especially if you’ve been involved in your child’s education by helping out in the classroom or signing up for school outings. You know every teacher and feel confident your child is receiving a good education

Research Schools Before You Move

Start with online research. There are many website dedicated to information on school performances in the essential learning areas, such as reading, math and geography. 

The School Tour

If you can travel to your destination prior to moving, the best way to determine which school is best for your child is to take a school tour. Most schools will accommodate parents. Just call ahead and ask for a staff person to show you the facilities. Try to book a tour when school is in session, so you can observe some classes and speak with students. Ask if you can bring your child with you so they can observe and provide their input as well. This is key to helping your child feel part of the process which in turn will help the transition to a new school.

While on the tour, here are some questions you should ask and observations you should note:

1. How many classrooms do you have? Were most classrooms being taught or were students engaged in group projects or working on their own? It’s a good idea to keep track. It isn’t important that a teacher always teaches; likewise, you don’t want in-class projects or group work to be the standard teaching method. 

2. What is the average number of students per class? How is the classroom set-up? Is it conducive for teaching?

3. What facilities do you have, above and beyond the usual? Are the buildings, classrooms, blackboards, gym look clean and well-maintained? While this isn’t necessary important for a good education, the way a school is kept speaks volumes on school pride. The school should feel warm and inviting, with student displays and obvious signs of student participation. 

4. What extra-curricular activities do you offer? And are students and teachers actively involved? Depending on the needs of your child, importance of activities can range from crucial to “nice to have”. Ask specifically about the activities your child likes to do and note what kind of activities your tour leader emphasizes.

5. Can you provide me with a copy of the school’s curriculum? Is it a well-rounded curriculum? What are the optional classes? Does the school provide more classes in particular areas than in others? Is there an art program? A music program? How much time do the students spend exercising? Is there an online component? If so, how much of the curriculum is taught this way?

6.What is the school’s approach to reading, writing and math? Is there an overall approach to teaching these subjects? How structured is the curriculum or are the teachers allowed to teach what they feel is important? Are students encouraged to participate?

Ask specifically for a list of books being used by your child’s current grade. Is it challenging enough or too challenging? Make sure you obtain a list for the core subject areas so you can do some research after the tour.

7. What kind of supportive equipment do you have and is it readily available for each class? Does the school have televisions, VCRs, computers and other media tools to assist in the classroom? Will your child have access to a computer and if so, how often and is your child monitored?

Overall, you should get a good sense of the school by just being in it for a day, by listening to students and teachers and by asking lots of questions. And in the end, you should walk away feeling that this is the right place for your child.

The Calm Before The Storm

Buying A Condo? Things to Look for


Toronto & The GTA is officially Condo land. Condos are the new affordable first time home buyer purchase. Its the most affordable, convenient, and in some cases the only thing available. Here are a few things to look for when buying a condo.

1. Amenities: Look at the pool, gym, parking, carwash, party room and grounds. You want to make sure that they are being taken care of and are not run down.
2. Concierge: Talk to the concierge and management if you can to see how they interact with residents. If you see a really bad attitude and terrible experience, it might be a reason not to buy.
3. Phone Signal: Some might say this is trivial, but lets face it, most people don’t get a home phone and live and die by their mobile devices. If you do not get signal, this might be a problem.
4. Fees: Look at what the fees are right now and multiply that by 3% every year for the next 3-5 years. If you have more amenities, that will be higher closer to 6-9%. Fees can go up in an instant if a project needs to be done.
5. Your lawyer will look at the status certificate, but you need to make sure there is a hefty reserve fund and no lawsuits. If there have been problems in the past you and your lawyer may decide to pass on this building.
The property management might not be a good one. Also look into the management and see how other buildings rate them.
The Calm Before The Storm

No Commission…Really?

Selling your own home means saving commission, but does it really? Is It worth in the end? The for sale by owners websites will have you believe that its as easy as putting a sign on your lawn and your house will sell. In some cases & in some areas this might be the case, but this is not how it is. Here are a few scenarios that happen when you try to sell your own home.

1. Buyers will ask you for a hefty discount on the purchase price. Let’s be honest, the first thing buyers think when they see for sale by owner signs are that they can get a hefty discount. When there is an agent there, they know the agent will not be fooled with. If you have to give the commission right back to the buyer then why do all this work?
2. Marketing: Yes you can market on the for sale by owner website and now you get to put your house on mls, but is that enough. Good agents, will advertise everywhere, within their companies, with their preferred buyers list. Good agents will have professional video, professional pictures, websites, social media and sometimes advertise in the newspaper plus more.
Are you ready to become a marketer?
3. Safety: Are you ready to let strangers into your house unattended? Showings with agents are supervised, they are vetted to make sure they can afford the house, and everything is scheduled.
4. Open Houses: Do you know how to do one, advertise one, and what to say when the public comes into your house.
5. Phone calls: Are you ready to answer the phone 24/7. Are you ready to be able to answer questions during work periods, during your drive to work & during your lunch?
6. Legal: Will you exaggerate something when trying to sell your house? Many people do this while trying to get their house sold. Eg. “Sure you can tear down that wall,” or “Sure you can build that garage”. Small claims court goes up to $25000 now. Agents will not risk saying something to get a house sold, it could mean their licence and a hefty fine.
7. Infrastructure: Agents have an infrastructure for handling appointments, offers and paperwork. Do you?
Finally there is a lot more but we could be here all day! Being an agent selling houses is a full time job, like any industry there are bad ones and good ones. The key is to find a great one to represent you and do a fantastic job, get you the most money for your house, and who suits your needs. You want somebody to represent you & your assets. Would you go into court for a trial without a lawyer?
The Calm Before The Storm

Should I buy or Sell First?


I’m always asked is it a good idea to sell or buy a property first. There are many strategies that go into both scenarios. It really depends on what type of market you are in. If you are in a sellers market, I suggest buying a house first because it will be easy to sell your house and harder to find a house to live in. The same goes for the opposite. It also depends on what your asking price is relative to what is on the market and what has just sold. Are you above? Are you below? If you are above the market and don’t sell your house quickly, can you afford to keep two mortgages until you find the right buyer that will pay your high price?

If you buy a property and you need the money from your current home, you might have to reduce your price significantly in order to find a buyer fast, if you do not price your house accordingly. Strategies of buying and selling Real Estate are crucial when you plan to list or buy a house. 

Buying a house first: You find a house you love. You put in an offer and buy it. Now you must unload your house. Let’s say that you gave yourself 90 days. In most scenarios this is more than enough time to sell your house. If you are in a buyers market than you need to be aggressive with your pricing. You might have to lower your price below the comparables to find a buyer. In a sellers market you could speculate a bit longer but you don’t want to get into a situation where you are holding on to two mortgages. It can be very costly and you might not be able to budget for both mortgages. Each scenario is different and each individual situation is as well.

Selling a house first: Its a sellers market and you want to sell your house. It goes within a few days and you get top dollar. Now you must find a house. The problem in this scenario is that there is no inventory and now you have nowhere to live if you cannot find a house before closing. Also when you do find a house, you might have to pay a higher price because of the market. At this point if you don’t find something you might have to settle for something that is not 100% what you wanted or rent something for a few months or move in with the dreaded in-laws… OUCH! Watch out! 

So there is no real answer to this question, it really depends on the situation. Its a great discussion and there are many ways you can look at both sides of the equation. You should prepare for each situation and all outcomes, especially if you are going against the grain. Talk to me your agent on what is going on in the market IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD, and plan a strategy.

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