While we weather this storm, which has come upon us, I’ve put together some tips which may help. We are all experiencing difficulties, anxieties, and challenges. This “normal” will not end tomorrow but it will end. In the meanwhile, how are you and your family functioning daily… healthy or not-so healthy?
What is important to know, is that “This too Shall Pass” and we will slowly return to a new normal. There will be some good and different things that will come from this. If anything, we will be closer as a community
- Fill yourself with positive thoughts & ideas
Allow yourself time and space. Be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others. Take time to journal, exercise, or meditate, pick up a new skill you didn’t have time for in the past.
- Get back to healthy eating
Give yourself permission to be kind to you. Yes, you have maybe fallen off the wagon with respect to your eating and drinking habits, but maybe now is the time to shake it off and get back on track with the habits you had once instilled. Remember how long it took to develop that habit.
- Make a list of what you want to accomplish tomorrow
We all have slept in more then we would otherwise and maybe we have stayed in our P.J.’s til noon. A daily routine gives you structure to get things done. Some of our challenges are due to a sense of lost. Making a to-do list in the evening may help. Review todays accomplishments and what you want to accomplish for tomorrow. This will help with focus and your drive to make things happen.
- Take the time to learn a new skill or hobby
With time on your hands, there is no better time to start something you have always been itching to try. There are many online courses and Facebook groups that will help in getting you started. Maybe even ask a friend to start something together to give you the push and keep you at it.
- Be “INTO” what your kids are “INTO”
Our children grow up so quickly and many typically stay in their own corners of the house doing their own thing. Maybe now is the time to find out what they are interested in and show genuine interest and excitement. Find something good they are doing and compliment them. Be intentional. Have a game night as a family!
Kingston and area real estate statistics has been very positive news so far this year. As of the end of May 2016 we have seen a 4% increase in price. This makes the average selling price of a home just over $301,000.
So far this year we have seen strong residential home sales for the first 4 months over last year. This slowed down a bit for May which is still strong since residential home sales for May of last year was 18% over 2014. This strong start helped bring down the inventory of homes by about 7.5% from last year at this time. Some may recall that it was a little difficult to sell a home last year due to the volume of homes on the market and not enough buyers. This made it a buyers market for 2015. So 2016 is returning to a more balanced market with just 4.9 months of inventory on hand. (The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.)
The value of all home sales was a record $145.6 million in May 2016, an increase of 17.6 per cent from a year earlier. This was the first time volumes had ever surpassed $140 million in any month.
Five easy steps to reduce stress when selling your home
Selling your home seems like a pretty simple idea. The steps appear to be straight forward… 1) call a REALTOR® 2) clean the house 3) have people come through your home 4) get an offer 5) put up the sold sign 6) move
Stress starts from the moment you don’t see and realize the big picture. Understanding and managing the selling process will help you in managing the stress, hence, making the selling process much more enjoyable.
- Call a REALTOR® you can trust. The most important step is selecting a REALTOR® who will work well with you and listens to your wants and needs. This is the person who will prepare you for the speed bumps and not allow you to hit them straight on! There is a large number of REALTOR®s in the market and they are not all cut from the same cloth. Each has their own style of conducting business. Each has their own personality, experiences and values. Interview 2 or 3 to see which person comes across as someone you can work withl. This is the biggest and most important step!
- Manage your expectations during the home selling process. It is not uncommon that we feel our home will sell very quickly. In actual fact, this is very rare in a balanced or buyers market unless you have a highly desirable home priced just right. Your REALTOR® will be able to give you market information which tells you the type of market you are currently in and also the demand for your type of home., as an example, whether it is suitable for young families of today or what trends buyers are moving towards. If you are expecting a fast sale and it is now over 3 months will cause conflicts and stress. Understand all the factors that affect the home selling process.
- Getting your home ready for sale will most likely have a different meaning for you than your REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® will be able to make suggestions which will make your home more appealing to a greater number of potential buyers. Home Staging may be the answer but it is not for everyone. It is important to discuss what this exactly means and how much it will cost and whether your home will benefit from it. You want to highlight and maximize all the good features of your home. Keep in mind that a buyer will be more sold on your home if they can experience the feelings of living in it when they walk through the door.
- Your REALTOR® may also suggest small or big home repairs or changes. He or she may see that the yard needs some TLC, or feel some (or alot) of the personal objects need to be packed up, or the closets decluttered. The list goes on. Keep in mind that these are not for the purpose of making your home into a show home but to ensure that we maximize the feelings of every buyer that comes through the door. The fact is that not every house sells and few sell fast (your REALTOR® can provide you with these statistics) so in order to give it 100%, your home needs to be ready.
- It is important to understand the buyers side of the equation as well. Not everyone who comes through your home will want to buy it. In fact, the number is very low in most cases. As previously mentioned, not every home sells and few sell fast. Buyers come in all shapes and sizes, different budgets, different experiences. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt for them… they are looking for the perfect home. In most cases, you also have a husband and wife who must also come to an agreement of their individual wants and needs list. There will be sacrifices and 99.9% of buyers will not get everything on their lists. Put yourself in their shoes as you too will be doing the same thing. They will look through dozens of houses looking for the perfect gem. Most are not in a rush, some will also have to go through the same process as you to list their home, and some are already stressed. Just keep in mind that if they don’t select yours, it is not personal.
There are many opportunities to be stressed in the home selling process. It is important to reduce as much as you can so you can enjoy moving on to the next adventure in your life. Don’t let the little things become big things and keep focused on what is important. These steps are just a few of the many points which a REALTOR® can assist you with. Don’t underestimate the job they will do for you.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another”
….. Williams James
When we look at the sales information for the first three quarters of 2014 vs 2015, Kingston saw an increase in single family home sales of 7.7%. This is considerably better than last year which saw a decrease over 2013 sales of nearly 6%. We don’t see this changing much by years end.
There were 553 new residential listings on the Association’s MLS® System in October 2015, down 5.5 per cent from the record October last year. However, this was still the second highest October level ever. Active residential listings on the Association’s MLS® System numbered 1,899 units at the end of October, down 10.5 per cent from the end of October 2014. There were 7.8 months of inventory at the end of October 2015, down from 8.5 months at the end of October 2014 and below the long-run average for this time of the year. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
The sales-to-new-listings ratio continues to be around the 37%. Effectively, what this means is that for every 3 houses which are put onto the market, only one sells. This is important to understand when listing your home.
Kingston’s average selling price of $290,580 saw a nice increase of 5.7% over the same period as last year. This increase is not seen as prices taking off but more so of a weakness of the prices in the 4th quarter of 2014.
Mortgage rates continue on the downward slope. As of October 21st, 2015, the advertised five-year lending rate stood at 4.64 per cent, unchanged from the previous Bank rate announcement on September 9th, and down 0.15 percentage points from one year ago. The next interest rate announcement will be on December 2nd, 2015, while the next update to the Monetary Policy Report will be On January 20th 2016. It is unknown what effect the introduction of the new Liberal government will be on these rates.
Employment and unemployment figures remained pretty steady. All these factors are great news for the Kingston housing market. It is forecasted that Ontario home sales over the next couple of years will be stable. This could change if we see increases in the mortgage rates.
New Home Sales
The price of buying a new home has been steadily increasing. The average price in the Kingston area for a single family home is $323k vs. 2010 when we saw the average price of $277k. New home starts have been steadily decreasing since a boom in 2003. The Kingston area saw a high of almost 900 new units started in 2003. Comparatively, 2014 saw 462 starts, and as of the end of October 2015 we are at 257 starts, a drop of 28% over the same period as last year.
Residential property sales numbered 297 units in August, up 13.4 per cent from the same month a year earlier. On a year-to-date basis home sales are currently running almost seven per cent ahead of the first eight months of 2014.
“August was an above average month for home sales in the Kingston area, not record breaking but an improvement from earlier this year,” said Jack Green, President of the Kingston and Area Real Estate Association. “Meanwhile, the average sales price this year is running more than three per cent ahead of 2014.”
The average price for homes sold through the Association’s MLS® System in August 2015 was $280,234, up 6.4 per cent from August 2014. The less volatile year-to-date average sale price was $294,338, an increase of 3.1 per cent from the first eight months of 2014.
There were 725 new residential listings on the Association’s MLS® System in August 2015, down 9.9 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
Active residential listings on the Association’s MLS® System numbered 2,204 units at the end of August, down 6.8 per cent from the end of August 2014.
There were 7.4 months of inventory at the end of August 2015, down from nine months at the end of August 2014 and on par with the long-run average for this time of the year. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
The value of all home sales was $83.2 million in August 2015, an increase of 20.6 per cent from a year earlier. This was the highest August on record.
Sales of all types of properties numbered 335 units in August, climbing 12.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis. The total value of all property sales jumped 25.6 per cent from a year earlier to $95 million in August.
Have you ever planned a long needed vacation just to have something more urgent interrupt your plans before you even get a chance to relax? How about the times when just as you “touch wood” for making a casual declaration like “I never have issues with my car. It’s always reliable” just to have something go wrong? Well Karma works in funny ways and house purchases are no exception.
So you buy a home which included some stainless steel appliances which look in wonderful shape. As you start settling down in your home over the next few weeks and you find out these nice shiny objects have issues. They may just stop working altogether. The question is… did the sellers know there were issues with the appliances when they agreed to leave them in the house? Or, was Karma just working against you?
What to do?
- Attempt to fix it
- Go out and buy a replacement appliance
- Get angry and call your realtor
- Get angry and call your lawyer
- All of the above
If an appliance which was included in the sale fails to work correctly after closing, your options are limited to get anyone to do anything about it. This is a BUYER BEWARE situation. Your agent and you should test each of the appliances during your home inspection to ensure they are operational. Any issues which are discovered can be address far in advance of closing. Then again, the day of or prior to taking possession, another inspection of the appliances should be conducted. There are NO WARRANTIES with these items after you take possession of the home. If they fail to operate after you move in, you have no recourse. Trying to solve this situation via the lawyers would end up costing you more money and stress than it is worth. Venting to your realtor or lawyer may help with your stress level but will result in very little satisfaction.
How to protect yourself?
- The best solution is to bring or buy your own appliances
- If you do include them in the offer to purchase, ensure you take the time to inspect whether they are operating as expected. (NOTE: this does not protect you against issues that result in a complete failure of the appliance days or weeks after closing)
- Ensure you understand that no warranty is expressed or given when you include the appliances. When you have the keys in your hand, you are now the proud owner of those appliances, working or not working!
- Request to take photos of each of the appliances and record the make, model, and serial numbers. This way the old bait and switch doesn’t happen before closing. You ensure the appliances you thought you were going to get are actually the ones in the house on the day of closing.
Within the negotiating process, be happy with the price you are offering FIRST. If your agent is able to also negotiate in the appliances to make the deal come together, then it’s a win win. You shouldn’t feel that you paid extra for the appliances especially when that perceived “extra cost” goes into the mortgage and paying interest for 25 years. If they only last a week or 5 years, you are technically out nothing other than a bit of stress.
Currently, as a home buyer you will pay a Provincial Land Transfer Tax. This adds thousands to the home purchase. This may change in the future if the province grants Municipalities the authority to collect additional tax revenues by way of a Municipal Land Transfer Tax. Toronto buyers currently pay a Provincial and a Municipal Land Transfer Tax adding an average of $12,000 to the home purchase. Keep in mind that the tax is based on a percentage of the purchase price. The same calculation done for a $300,000 home in Kingston would be approximately $2,975 for the Provincial Land Transfer Tax and then and additional $2,720 for the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (assuming the same percentage rate as Toronto is charged)
The spread of the Municipal Land Transfer Tax throughout the province threatens to increase the total cost of home ownership. The additional tax dollars is for the benefit for all citizens and to fund all municipal services, not just home buyers. This additional tax burden on Buyers will have a trickle down affect on consumer spending.
Ontario REALTORS® oppose the municipal LTT. Simply put, the tax is fundamentally unfair, bad for the economy and is an unreliable source of local revenue that has implications for provincial tax revenue.”
The good news is that when the candidates for the recent municipal election (Kingston, Gananoque, Stone Mills Township, Napanee) were questioned whether they supported such a tax, an overwhelming number said no. Time will tell whether this is true. At the very least you will know more about this potential additional tax burden.