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Financial assistance is available to fund repairs, renovations

by Manoj Kumar Arora

CMHC Financial assistance takes the form of loans, forgivable loans or non-repayable contributions, and can be used to fund repairs, renovations, accessibility modifications, the creation of low-income rental units, and home adaptations. Programs are available for low-income households, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

For more details, check CMHC website at

http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/prfinas/index.cfm

Greater Toronto Area Resale Housing Moderate in September

by Manoj Kumar Arora

September 17, 2008 -- The Greater Toronto Area’s autumn resale housing market began with moderate activity, Toronto Real Estate Board President Maureen O’Neill announced today.

With 2,726 sales during the first half of this month, activity has declined 16 per cent from the 3,236 recorded during same time period a year ago. Compared to the 2,913 transactions recorded during the first half of September 2006, activity has declined six per cent.

In the City of Toronto, 998 sales were recorded, which represents a 23 per cent decline from the 1,297 transactions recorded in the first half of September 2007 and an 11 per cent decline from the 1,118 homes that changed hands in 2006. However, activity increased 16 per cent in the first half of September 2007 from the same period in 2006.

In the 905 Region, there were 1,728 sales, down 11 per cent from the first half of September 2007, when 1,939 transactions were recorded and within four per cent of the 1,795 sales recorded during the same timeframe in 2006. However, activity increased eight per cent during the first two weeks of September 2007 as compared to 2006.

“Although housing activity in the GTA remains moderate, we’re continuing to see a consistent pattern, and this stability is certainly positive news compared to markets in other sectors and in other world cities,” said Ms. O’Neill.

At $366,158 the average price of housing in the GTA has increased marginally from the $364,364 recorded a year ago and is up nine per cent from $335,208 recorded in September 2006.

In the City of Toronto, the average price is $386,524 up marginally from the $384,796 recorded in the first half of September 2007 and up 12 per cent from the $343,561 average from the same period in 2006.

In the 905 Region, the average price is $354,395; an increase of one per cent from $350,698 recorded a year ago and up seven per cent from $330,005 recorded in the first half of September 2006.

“The fact that prices have held firm despite moderate activity shows that consumers regard real estate as a sound investment,” said Ms. O’Neill.

The percentage of asking price that Sellers receive for their homes has also remained consistent. The list to sale price ratio is 98 per cent, as it was a year ago.

The 26,299 listed for sale on the TorontoMLS system have increased 26 per cent from a year ago when 20,841 homes were available. The time that homes remain on the market has increased as well, to an average of 37 days compared to 31 days a year ago.

In a few areas though, activity heated up during the first two weeks of the month.

Transactions in Bowmanville (E17) increased 66 per cent from a year ago, as a result of strong detached home sales.

In Streetsville (W20) activity increased seven per cent compared to mid-September 2007 due mainly to semi-detached sales.

Vaughan (N02) saw a 20 per cent increased in transactions from a year ago due to strong sales of all housing types.

Investment in home improvement, key in competitive housing market

by Manoj Kumar Arora

Home Renovation Press Release 2008

Mississauga, ON (September 17, 2008) – An increasingly competitive housing environment is prompting a significant number of Ontario homeowners to invest in renovation before their homes for sale, according to a recent survey by RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

The RE/MAX Survey of Home Buying and Selling Trends in Ontario, conducted by COMPAS Research, in the first half of 2008 found 79 per cent of sellers said they made improvements to their homes two years prior to and more than one third (39 per cent) of them did so with Selling in mind. Further indicative of how sophisticated sellers and Buyers are becoming, 37 per cent of sellers made upgrades to their home after their property for sale. Home sellers are typically spending $21,000 on average in renovations; the most popular of which are updating kitchens, hardwood flooring, and new windows.

“Investing in renovation for the purpose of Selling a home continues to grow in 2008,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Changing market conditions are largely responsible for the upward momentum in residential investment which is up four per cent to $6.9 billion in Ontario for the first half of this year, compared to last year at the same time. We are seeing two clear trends emerging with some homeowners looking to boost resale value by renovating and others choosing to bring their home up to today’s standards by upgrading areas that are dated. In either case, the end result is a product that will more likely yield top dollar when it is time to sell.”

Renovations can drastically influence a home’s market value. The RE/MAX Survey found the wealthiest homeowners (those with an income of $150,000 or more) spent the most on renovation at $37,663 on average, while those earning under $30,000 spent the least at $8,263. Renovation costs typically increased with housing values, with the cost of refurbishing a home priced at $500,000 or more topping out at $55,974.

“With Buyers visiting an average of nine before settling on the one they want to call their own, sellers need a distinct advantage over the competition,” says Polzler. “Location is still the primary factor for Buyers, but a property’s condition also plays an important role. Our Survey found with updated kitchen cabinetry, hardwood flooring, new windows, an openconcept and a finished basement appeal most to today’s selective purchaser.”

Most Appealing Upgrades - All Sellers

Kitchen cabinet upgrade  

Hardwood floor upgrade 

New windows 

Removing walls to create open-concept living

Finishing the basement 

Kitchen appliance upgrade

New shingles 

New bathroom tiles 

The RE/MAX Survey of Home Buying and Selling Trends in Ontario surveyed close to 1,000 Ontario home sellers using data provided to COMPAS Research by RE/MAX. Samples of this size are deemed accurate to approximately three percentage points 19 times out of 20.

GTA Resale Housing Remains Steady Throughout Summer Months

by Manoj Kumar Arora

September 4, 2008 -- The Greater Toronto resale housing market closed out the last full month of summer at a steady pace, Toronto Real Estate Board President Maureen O’Neill reported today.

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) average price increased one per cent, to $364,886 when compared to last August’s figure of $361,890. Compared to the $338,192 figure recorded two years ago though, the average GTA has increased eight per cent.

In the City of Toronto the average price declined one per cent to $377,990 from last August’s $381,681. Compared to the August 2006 figure of $344,419 however, the average price in the City of Toronto has increased 10 per cent.

In the 905 Region the average price increased two per cent to $356,657 from last August’s $348,563. Compared to the August 2006 figure of $334,245 the average price in the 905 Region has increased seven per cent.

“These healthy figures substantiate that when undertaken as a long term investment, buying a home is one of the smartest financial moves you can make,” said Ms. O’Neill.

With 6,318 transactions recorded last month, sales in the GTA declined 22 per cent compared to the record August 2007 figure of 8,059. Volumes were off just nine per cent however, from the 6,976 sales recorded in August 2006.

In the City of Toronto, there were 2,437 sales in August, a 25 per cent decline from the 3,243 transactions recorded a year ago.

Compared to the 2,706 sales recorded in August 2006 though, this represents a 10 per cent decline. Sales increased 20 per cent between August 2006 and August 2007.

The 905 Region’s 3,881 sales last month were 19 per cent off the August 2007 figure of 4,816 but declined nine per cent from two years ago, when 4,270 sales were recorded.

“Despite August’s moderate sales, the 57,364 transactions that have occurred this year are within 14 per cent of the 67,146 figure recorded a year ago,” said Ms. O’Neill. “In light of the fact that 2007 was a record year, our current market can certainly be characterized as stable.”

There are currently 25,076, available for sale in the GTA, which represents a 31 per cent increase from the 19,145 active listings a year ago. Increased choice has resulted in remaining on the market for an average of 36 days compared to 33 days a year ago.

Several neighbourhoods throughout the GTA experienced increased sales activity last month compared to August 2007.

In Pickering (E13) transactions rose six per cent based primarily on strong semi-detached home sales.

In Halton Hills (W27) strong attached/row house sales activity lead to a three per cent increase in transactions overall.

Condominium apartment and detached home transactions drove Rosedale (C09) to an 81 per cent increase in overall sales.

Detached home transactions also contributed to an 11 per cent overall increase in sales in Aurora (N06).

Read Complete "Market Watch" Report

Bank of Canada Holds Interest Rate at 3%

by Manoj Kumar Arora

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada is keeping its key Interest rate on hold, even though inflationary pressure has abated in Canada, and growth has slowed to a stop.
The central bank announced Wednesday that the overnight rate will remain at three per cent, and gave few hints about which direction its next move might be.
“The bank judges that the current level of the target for the overnight rate remains appropriately accommodative,” the bank said.
Economists had widely expected the bank to keep rates unchanged, although some had also expected the bank to suggest that its next move would be a rate cut in order to stimulate Canada's flagging economy.
The bank omitted its traditional assessment of the risks facing the bank's forecast – an assessment that is usually closely watched to determine whether the bank is leaning in the direction of future rate cuts or hikes.
Instead, the bank's one-page statement focused on the reversal in commodity prices since the beginning of July. Then, oil was trading above $140 (U.S.) a barrel, and has since declined steeply to close on Tuesday at $109.71 – driven lower by sagging global demand, the bank said.
The slide has meant that the central bank's earlier expectations that the inflation rate would soar to above four per cent by the end of this year will not pan out, the statement said, although the bank said it expects commodity prices to remain volatile because of tight inventories.
At the same time, lower oil prices have also meant that the Canadian dollar is much weaker than a couple of months ago. Normally, a weaker Canadian dollar would boost Canadian exports, but this time, it comes just as the world economy is losing steam, the bank noted.
“The weaker global growth and the decline of the Canadian dollar will have opposing effects on the demand for Canadian goods and services,” the bank stated.
The Canadian dollar closed at 93.58 cents (U.S.) on Tuesday, after trading just below parity for months.
The bank did not express any concern for Canada's stagnant economy, which contracted in the first quarter and barely expanded in the second quarter. Domestic demand has softened, but remains fairly strong, the bank said.
“Overall, the level of economic activity is slightly lower than expected in July but still close to the economy's production capacity.”
Total inflation, which has surged above three per cent recently, has been affected by temporary factors and should move back to the bank's two per cent target by this time next year, the bank said.
Still, the bank warned that the heightened inflation risk that gripped central bankers a couple of months ago and prompted the Bank of Canada to suddenly stop its aggressive rate cuts this summer still exists.
“Global inflationary pressures remain elevated, with potential implications for import prices and the dynamics of inflation in Canada,” the bank said.
Around the world, rising food and commodity prices have driven up inflation over the past few months, especially in emerging markets, but also in developed economies, albeit to a lesser extent.
In the United States, economic growth and the turbulence in global financial markets are unfolding as the bank expected, the statement said. The bank has projected 1.6 per cent growth in the United States this year, despite continuing turmoil in the financial sector and a collapse of the housing market.
Still, there's a risk that the negative feedback loop between the U.S. economy and tighter credit conditions will worsen, and hamper the expected revival of the U.S. economy in 2009, the bank suggested.
The Bank of Canada's next rate announcement is on Oct. 21 – a week after the widely-anticipated date of the federal election. With Interest rates on hold, and the bank giving no obvious indication about its next move, Governor Mark Carney has likely removed himself as a factor in an election campaign that will no doubt be dominated by debate on how to manage the flagging economy.

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Photo of Manoj Kumar Arora, Broker of Record Real Estate
Manoj Kumar Arora, Broker of Record
Ace Team Realty Inc., Brokerage
77 City Centre Drive, East Tower, Suite 501
Mississauga ON L5B 1M5
905-488-3101
1-888-355-3155
Fax: 1-888-443-3155

Contact Information

Photo of Manoj Kumar Arora, Broker of Record Real Estate
Manoj Kumar Arora, Broker of Record
Ace Team Realty Inc., Brokerage
77 City Centre Drive, East Tower, Suite 501
Mississauga ON L5B 1M5
905-488-3101
1-888-355-3155
Fax: 1-888-443-3155