5 Things You Need to Know about Your Future Neighbourhood

Are you currently on the home hunt? You probably have a list of needs and wants. Have you included anything about the neighbourhood?

In addition to bedrooms, baths, and interior upgrades, it’s a good rule of thumb to ask a few questions about the potential neighbourhood you may want to call home. When you’re thinking about buying, here are some questions you can ask to help determine if the neighbourhood will be a good fit for you.

1. Is the area well-maintained? Take a walk around the block. Drive through the neighbourhood. Are properties well-maintained? Are roads in good condition? The appearance of the lawns, homes, and public spaces can reveal a lot about the area.

2. Are there any rules and regulations you need to be aware of before you commit? Do you mind if your renovations and landscaping are restricted by homeowner association bylaws? Find out if the neighbourhood has any rules and regulations, and what they are.

3. What is the reputation of the school district? Even if you don’t have children, the school district’s status can affect property values. Get the scoop on the district’s rankings in academics and financial stability.

4. What’s the crime rate? Oftentimes you can find maps provided by the city that show what crimes occur in the area and how often. The FBI may also have reports available for the area. Do a little research to make sure you’ll feel safe in your new home.

5. What amenities are nearby? For some homebuyers, access to public transportation is important. Others want to live near parks, shops, or restaurants. Find out what amenities the area offers to ensure that you choose a neighbourhood that suits your lifestyle.

3 Real Estate Myths Television Has Taught Us

Jim and Suzy Homebuyer just found their dream property for $50K and fixed it up in three weeks.

Stories like this have skewed viewers’ expectations of real estate reality.

Shows about home buying and renovation projects can be fun to watch, but we may not realize that they often don’t depict the realities of buying, selling, and owning a home.

Here are three common myths popularized by today’s TV lineup.

“Three homes will do.”

On TV, a couple looks at three homes and is able to find the property of their dreams. This isn’t how things work in the real world.

The number of homes buyers must look at before finding the right one for them differs in each situation. It’s not uncommon to look at 20 homes. It may even work out that you look at just one (but it’s not likely).

“I can afford that.” 

Shows that depict real estate purchases and renovations rarely reflect prices that are realistic for viewers. We may witness a bargain deal on TV and assume we could get something similar.

The fact is, markets vary greatly. The price of a home or a remodel in the area where the show is filmed may be completely different from what we can expect in our home town – either much higher or much lower.

“This will be a cinch.” 

While some DIY projects can be completed quickly, the amount of time most renovations take is longer than TV would have you believe. Homeowners shouldn’t expect to dive into a basement remodel on Friday and wake up Monday morning with the project behind them. Even if you hire professionals, they may encounter unexpected delays or simply need more time to do the renovation right.

If you’re considering buying, selling, or renovating, the more information you have, the better prepared you can be. Contact me for some professional input – I’m happy to help.

Modern Homes Are Getting Smarter by the Second

Innovative technology is transforming the real estate marketplace. As they design and select homes, today’s buyers are weighing options that were nonexistent for homeowners 20 years ago. Modern houses, enhanced with smart technology, have become more than rooms and walls. They are integrated systems of efficiency, entertainment, and security, designed to cater to a high-tech lifestyle.

These technological advances are adding value to homes in creative ways.

Convenience: Control centres allow owners to manage almost everything in the home remotely. They can turn up the heat, turn on the lights, or turn off the television from around the globe. With remote access, homeowners no longer have to worry about misplaced or stolen keys. They can even grant entry to others while they are away from home.

Security: Wireless technology and video surveillance options have transformed home security. Systems can be added without drilling holes and hiding wires. Cameras and video technology allow personal, remote observation of the home inside and out. In addition to securing their home against crime, owners can check on Fido, confirm a package delivery, or enjoy peace of mind that the kids arrived safely home from school.

Efficiency: Smart technology can provide greater efficiency for utilities, which can provide significant savings over the years. Improved temperature control technology, remote access to thermostats, and better utility sensors can create a highly efficient home.

Linkage: The internet of things has added multiple new features to homes. Homeowners can link smart appliances, security systems, and more to connect every facet of their lives. The connectivity a home offers can boost its value to plugged-in buyers who are seeking modern networking capabilities.

These smart technologies are becoming more affordable and more accessible. It’s likely that more and more buyers can expect to find high-tech options listed among standard home features.

If you’re considering a smart upgrade to your home, reach out to our office so you can get the best information to determine which innovations make the most sense for your market.

Real Estate Secrets: Why (and How) Kitchens Sell Homes

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s a bustling centre of activity where people gather to cook, eat, socialize, and entertain.

As the central hub, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the home. This space will immediately attract buyers or turn them off. It’s much easier to look passed a small bedroom or an outdated powder room than to get over an undesirable kitchen. The kitchen must be designed to meet the needs of their lifestyle. If it’s not a good match, the buyer will likely eliminate the home as an option.

To prevent this from happening, homeowners can make strategic efforts that will improve their property’s culinary appeal.

Refurbish rather than replace: Cabinetry is a significant factor in a kitchen’s appeal. Since replacing cabinets is an expensive endeavor, many homeowners are reluctant to take on this project. Fortunately, other options won’t break the budget. Consider repainting the cabinetry or replacing only the doors. New cabinet hardware can also create a brand-new look.

Invest in appliances: Modern, matching appliances offer immense appeal. They look sharp, offer convenient features, and typically provide high efficiency to reduce utility bills.

Make it sparkle: Cluttered countertops have never helped sell a home. Buyers want to see the kitchen, not the mess. Keep counters clear and clean and ensure the entire space shines.

Consider the market: When considering kitchen improvements, homeowners should always consult with a trusted real estate agent to ensure upgrades are in alignment with their neighbourhood, the target buyer, and current trends. Reach out with your questions. We are happy to help.

Negotiation: There’s More to it Than You Think!

When you think of real estate negotiations, what comes to mind? For most buyers and sellers, price tops the list. While this is certainly an important part of any real estate deal, did you know there are at least six others areas of potential negotiation?

Closing costs: In addition to the price of the home, buyers must pay closing costs that cover lender fees and other charges. Buyers may ask sellers to help pay for these costs with a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the fees.

Closing date: Do you need to close on a home quickly? Perhaps you need a little more time to search for your next home. There are also different advantages to closing at the beginning and end of the month.

Personal property: What will be included with the four walls and roof? Negotiations will be worked out on whether the seller includes the washer and dryer, kitchen appliances, and even items such as living room furniture or that pool table in the basement.

Contingencies: Many real estate contracts are contingent on financing or other home sales. The buyer may need to complete their lender requirements by a certain date or complete their current home sale before the contract is in full force. These details must be worked out and agreed to up front.

Home repairs: Most contracts include a stipulation that the buyers can complete a home inspection. Once the buyers receive this report, they can ask the sellers to fix items that were found to be in disrepair. Each of these items must be negotiated.

Home warranty: This can be provided as an incentive to buyers to offer peace of mind. It can be particularly appealing for older homes. It typically provides coverage for the home’s HVAC system, appliances, and other major items in the event that they need repair soon after the purchase.

Does this sound like a lot to negotiate? It is. Fortunately, real estate agents are expert negotiators and can handle all of these points for you! Your agent will identify your top needs and work hard to get you the best deal.

Why Flexibility Is the Watchword for Today’s Homes

Let’s roll back the clock to around 1900. If we take a tour of the average home, we’ll find layouts of about 900 square feet. Fast forward to the year 2000, and we’ll find that number has more than doubled, to just over 2,000 square feet.

However, the trend toward “bigger is better” has not carried into 2019. The past few years have seen a slow decrease in median home size. By the end of 2017, it was just over 2,400 square feet.

While this shrinking home size may be significant, what’s even more noteworthy is the change in style. Gone are the days of formal living and dining rooms. The trends for extravagant game rooms, wine cellars and media rooms also seem to have faded into the history books.

Today’s homeowners are seeking something different. They want rooms that serve multiple purposes and homes that serve multiple generations.

This latest concept offers a home within a home. A common layout includes a great room that serves as both living and dining rooms and a suite that adjoins to the main house. This attached one-bedroom living space includes its own kitchen and bathroom and can function as a teen suite, college student’s pad, home office, or in-law apartment.

The idea is that it can be whatever the homeowners need it to be. As parents age or adult children bounce back home, the layout offers suitable living arrangements to accommodate a variety of situations. It creates a space that allows the property to meet homeowner needs, not just for many years but for many generations.

Attention Sellers: What Buyers Want

Today’s television lineup is packed with shows about property ownership. From remodeling to purchasing to flipping homes, HGTV and other similar channels have inundated homeowners with ideas about real estate.

As a result, many buyers now have high expectations as they search for a potential home. They’ve seen the magazine-worthy houses on TV and that’s what they want to find when they view a home. Things should be picture perfect to grab their attention. Fresh paint, new kitchens and bathrooms, neutral décor, and modern conveniences top the lists of many buyers.

It’s important for sellers to keep these standards in mind as they prepare to place their homes on the market. To get that coveted buyer, sellers must give buyers what they want. If they are looking for a picturesque setting, then give them one.

Invest in upgrades for outdated interiors. Allow a professional to stage the home. Take the time to boost curb appeal. Ask a real estate agent for recommendations to decide what changes would make the best investment.

As sellers make these changes, one concept is essential to keep in mind: location. While upgrades can help sell a home, it’s important that sellers not price themselves out of their neighbourhood. Remodeling and redecorating should be appropriate for the location.

If a seller builds an addition and updates a kitchen with all the bells and whistles, the home might be beautiful, but also overpriced. The seller may have created a $250,000 home in a $150,000 neighbourhood.

Again, it’s important to consult with a local real estate agent who is familiar with the area. He or she can determine what projects should be completed to properly prep the home for the market.

With the right upgrades at the right budget, sellers are more likely to sell the home quickly and get top dollar for their property.

Big-Ticket Items: When’s the Best Time to Buy?

From furniture to refrigerators, big-ticket items are often a major consideration during the home-buying process. For sellers, investing in some upgrades could make their home more attractive than the competition. Buyers settling into a home may be on the hunt for good deals to fill their new space. On either side of the transaction, it’s helpful to know when and what to buy to get the most bang for your buck. Here’s the scoop.

Kitchens sell homes: Sellers, keep this in mind if you’re wondering where to invest your dollars to boost your home’s appeal. If your kitchen features outdated appliances, spend the budget here rather than in the laundry room or guest bedroom. Consult with your real estate agent to determine the best upgrades for your price range and budget.

Seasons offer savings: If you have some flexibility with the timing of your purchase, look for big-ticket items when they are most likely to be on sale. Appliance manufacturers typically introduce new models in the fall, so consumers can often find good deals on previous models at this time. The exception to this trend is refrigerators, which are usually marked down in the spring. To furnish a new home, try to hold off until January or July. These months generally see the most furniture sales.

Discounts are available: As you shop, watch for potential discounts. If a store is selling floor models, you may be able to get a great deal. Many stores also offer competitor price matching. Lastly, look for savings even after you buy. Some retailers offer price adjustments if your item is reduced soon after your purchase.

Five Interior Design Disasters to Avoid

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that saying rings true for how one chooses to decorate one’s home. Therefore, one person’s love of leopard print could be another person’s decorating disaster. If you are looking to sell your home this year, change up or avoid these top five no-nos.

Wall-to-wall carpeting. Having wall-to-wall carpet is the number one no-no. According to Jonathan Scott of the famed Property Brothers, no one is looking to buy a house with carpet – which can hold many of life’s unsavoury side effects like dirt, stains, and hair.

Mirrored walls. In theory, this decorating idea should make a small space appear larger. However, according to Scott, the effect can actually make your room look like an “’80s dance hall.” Let the dance hall die and opt for full-length mirrors instead.

Clutter. When it comes to decorating to sell, less is almost always more. Be particularly picky about the foyer, since this provides the initial impression of the interior. Keep shoes, winterwear, bags, and other daily-use items organized and out of sight. Rearrange or remove furniture and décor throughout the home to make each room appear as spacious and inviting as possible.

Loud wallpaper. Although wallpaper can add that pop of colour that a room desperately needs, a loud or dizzying pattern can turn off buyers. If you want to add appealing hues, stick with paint.

White on white. Although beautiful, the colour white is not realistic when it comes to life’s many mishaps. Realtor.com recommends that homeowners gravitate toward rich shades such as rust browns, black, and forest green.

Could Driverless Cars Drive Real Estate Values?

Imagine a world where humans never have to worry about wasted commute times. Imagine being able to use that time to work, spend quality time with your kids, plan dinner, or catch up on some much-needed z’s.

Sounds magical, doesn’t it? That magic could be coming to a street near you, as driverless cars are poised to become mainstream technology worldwide.

As Tesla, GM, and BMW clamber to get their fleets on the streets, these autonomous cars could have a far-reaching effect on industries other than auto.

When the human is removed from behind the wheel, the potential for error diminishes. Therefore, safety precautions such as auto insurance, parking tickets, speed traps, and law enforcement may no longer be needed.

These vehicles could also have a significant impact on the real estate market. When autonomous cars become the new norm, public transit will no longer be the go-to for those who are unable to drive.

The loss of public transit could have a domino effect on the real estate industry, since cities would no longer be built around transit systems. What was once considered less desirable residential real estate may become more popularbecause of the distance from transit hubs. According to an article in Forbes, these areas could offer a “greater appeal [that] could translate into increasing demand and rising property values.”

The long-reaching impact these cars will have on society is still being mapped, but it should make for an interesting ride.

What You Need to Know before Becoming a Landlord

Thinking of becoming a landlord? While this can be financially and personally rewarding, you must do your homework before you take the leap.

To help you learn the ropes and avoid any costly missteps, here are some handy tips of the trade.

It cannot be overstated how important it is for landlords to do their pre-closing homework.

During the home inspection, remember to take a thorough look at the property to see what will need to be repaired or replaced.

For example, you might want to change the toilets to low-flow models. You’ll also probably want to invest in essential upgrades to three common areas: water, door locks, and flooring.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of underestimating the costs of fixing and maintaining the property, both before and after a tenant has moved in.

Most landlords account for insurance and taxes, but it’s easy to miss expenses like garbage, gardening, and regular maintenance.

According to Money, you should set aside at least 35 to 45% of your annual rental income to cover these costs. (And when you’re calculating this income, it’s a good rule of thumb to account for only 10 or 11 monthly payments per year.)

When it comes to finding a tenant, don’t be too relaxed. Interview prospective tenants on the phone first to find out if they meet your requirements. Then, it’s important to check your potential tenants’ credit and speak to their references. Confirm the source and amount of their income. It should be at least 2.5 times the annual rent. You should also learn what’s legal in your town. For example, can you ban pets?

Once you’ve found a great tenant, act fast to get the lease signed. From there, never forget that you’re running a business and your tenant is a customer. Treat your customer right, and success is more likely to come your way.

 

Prepping Your Home for Sale: Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Every seller wants to maximize his or her profit. Partnering with a real estate agent is a great start. Homeowners can further increase their bottom line with a few simple steps. To get the most out of your house, complete the following before you list.

Hire your own home inspector. If a buyer’s inspector finds issues with your home, you can expect your profit to shrink. Stay one step ahead by hiring your own home inspector to unearth any potential issues.

Invest in repairs. In addition to addressing any trouble the home inspection reveals, it’s a good idea to have cosmetic issues addressed. Prospective buyers notice things like cracked tile, chipped baseboards, or a squeaky floorboard, and this will be reflected in their offer.

Upgrade where it counts. You don’t have to renovate your whole house to turn a healthier profit. Make small, impactful swaps, such as switching out lighting, cabinet hardware, or shower heads for cleaner, more contemporary options.

Add a few new accessories. Fresh flowers and potted plants go a long way in making a room feel inviting. For a cozier living room, drape a cable-knit blanket over the couch. String Edison bulb lights over a patio and put an Adirondack chair on the front porch. These small touches add major warmth.

Treat it like a model home. To sell your house quickly and for the most money, treat it like a house you’ve been hired to stage. Put personal effects into storage, declutter, remove artwork that could be seen as too loud, and make sure the house is absolutely spotless.

Closing Costs: It’s about More Than Your Down Payment

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a budget. How much house can you afford? Within what price range will you shop?

A down payment is, unfortunately, only one part of that budget. To correctly determine the affordability of a home, it’s essential that prospective buyers consider the costs that arise at the time of closing.

Closing costs vary from province to province and from municipality to municipality, and they can represent anywhere from 1 to 4 per cent of a home’s selling price, according to ratehub.ca. That may not sound like much, but when you’re looking to buy a $750,000 home, closing expenses can add as much as $30,000 to your costs.

Here’s a look at a handful of those expenses and what they will run you:

Property taxes. A property tax adjustment at closing ensures the sellers and buyers pay the amount of taxes each rightfully owes for the year. Depending on the date of closing, you may need to pay a lump sum on your new home or one you’re selling.

Legal fees. The preparation of the required legal documents by a lawyer can cost you at least $500.

Home inspection fee. Most home buyers like to include a successful home inspection as a condition of their offer to purchase. A qualified home inspector will cost $500 and up.

Land transfer tax. Each province charges land transfer tax (LTT), which is calculated as a percentage of the home’s purchase price. The rate of the LTT varies by province. Some cities also charge a municipal LTT, adding an additional cost to consider.

Closing Costs: It’s about More Than Your Down Payment

The first step in buying a home is deciding on a budget. How much house can you afford? Within what price range will you shop?

A down payment is, unfortunately, only one part of that budget. To correctly determine the affordability of a home, it’s essential that prospective buyers consider the costs that arise at the time of closing.

Closing costs vary from province to province and from municipality to municipality, and they can represent anywhere from 1 to 4 per cent of a home’s selling price, according to ratehub.ca. That may not sound like much, but when you’re looking to buy a $750,000 home, closing expenses can add as much as $30,000 to your costs.

Here’s a look at a handful of those expenses and what they will run you:

Property taxes. A property tax adjustment at closing ensures the sellers and buyers pay the amount of taxes each rightfully owes for the year. Depending on the date of closing, you may need to pay a lump sum on your new home or one you’re selling.

Legal fees. The preparation of the required legal documents by a lawyer can cost you at least $500.

Home inspection fee. Most home buyers like to include a successful home inspection as a condition of their offer to purchase. A qualified home inspector will cost $500 and up.

Land transfer tax. Each province charges land transfer tax (LTT), which is calculated as a percentage of the home’s purchase price. The rate of the LTT varies by province. Some cities also charge a municipal LTT, adding an additional cost to consider.

Condo Life Is Now a Reality for Many Canadians

With the dwindling of land available for construction of detached and semi-detached single-family homes, Canadians are accepting the need for vertical living and high-density communities. Even naysayers are contemplating life in a “box.”

The reality is – as Canada’s most recent census numbers indicates – condo living is here to stay.

The 2016 census revealed that 13.3% of all Canadian households (approximately 1.9 million households) live in condominiums – an increase of 1.2 percentage points over the previous census conducted in 2011.

Of course, that differs across the country and from urban areas to suburbs and rural locations. In Vancouver, for example, some 30% of the population call a condo home. In Toronto, that number sits at 20.9%. But in both Halifax and Moncton, the number of condo dwellers drops to below 5%.

Notes a recent CBC article published after census results were released: “In other cities, meanwhile, condos barely rate as a living option. In Greater Sudbury, Ont., Saint John and St. John’s … less than one out of every 20 people live in a condo.”

The numbers, of course, correlate to population: Both Vancouver and Toronto boast larger populations, and wildly different real estate markets, than their smaller counterparts. The census reported that, by homeowner estimates, the cost of an average home in Vancouver totalled $1,005,920 compared to $734,924 in Toronto. And across Canada, the average value of a home was $443,058, up from $345,182 in 2011. And, interestingly, two-thirds of households owned their condos, while renters accounted for the remainder. Perhaps something to watch for in future?

‘Curb Appeal’ Renos a Growing Trend

As the winter thaw begins, and spring buying and selling fever heats up, there are certain renovations you can make on your home to ensure you get an optimal return on investment (ROI).

Whether you’ve been waiting for that perfect time to list, or are looking to flip fast, being strategic with your home renovations can make the difference between losing money and having extra cash in your pocket.

As a Houzz article points out, when it comes to home renovations, the “size of your space, the scope of work involved, your DIY abilities, the quality of materials you choose and even your geographic location all play a part.”

Invest in curb appeal

However, your renovations don’t have to be earth-shattering. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, the trend of making “curb appeal” renovations to your home scored a higher ROI than larger renovations.

Boost energy efficiency

Surprisingly, installing loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic came in as number one on the report. Although it doesn’t seem as exciting as other home remodels, it makes your home more energy efficient, and it can be accomplished yourself, inexpensively. Plus, it returns an estimated 107.1% on your investment.

Interestingly, something as subtle as replacing your garage door could yield you as much as an 85% ROI. Landscaping is another tried, tested and true improvement that can return as much as 650% to 900%, according to Global National, on your investment. Installing new windows, adding high-efficiency appliances and repainting the exterior and interior of your home can make a huge impact for little cost.

Key to success

Bryan Baeumler, host of a variety of reno shows on HGTV Canada, tells Global National the keys to a successful home reno is: Fitting your plan into a budget and not your budget into a plan; cost vs. impact; and what makes the most sense for you.

‘Is It Done Yet?’ How to Renovate With Kids

Spring home improvements can be stressful, especially when you’re living in the middle of it. Add children to the mix, and the tension increases.

But you don’t need to take a vacation while your home is being remodeled – even if walls are coming down. Here are some tips on how to continue to live as a family during a major renovation.

Your children’s space – and their routines – will be disrupted. To avoid comments like “When can we use the kitchen again?” share the construction schedule with them.

Prepare for disruptions: Kitchens and bathrooms are often the rooms being remodeled; unfortunately, they’re also the most used. If possible, consider completing one room at a time.

Set up a temporary kitchen in another room and prepare meals in advance that can be quickly reheated. Get the kids to help you devise a bathroom schedule; they may be more inclined to follow it if they’re involved.

Make safety a priority: Know where your kids are during work hours. Make sure they understand the safety risks, and put lots of space between them and the work. Also ensure your contractor stores tools away safely at the end of the day.

Dust can be hazardous for anyone with allergies. Plastic sheeting should be used to seal off the area under construction from your temporary living space, but you also may want to consider closing the heating and cooling vents. As well, your contractor should use nontoxic paints and stains.

Choose your contractor wisely. Make sure the company has a reputation for completing jobs safely, and be prepared to pay more for contractors who are properly insured and follow regulations. Ask them how comfortable they are with children on site and make sure everyone agrees to and obeys the safety rules.

Finally, when it’s finished, have fun together in the new space. After all, you – and the kids – deserve it.

Why Canadians Are Embracing the Trend of Smaller Homes

The small house movement may be coming to a neighbourhood near you, proving that “bigger is better” is not necessarily true.

Having a bigger space to fill, a bigger mortgage to pay, and a smaller disposable income make having a large home unrealistic for many young professionals and families.

In an article in homify.ca, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association suggests that Canadian homes have long been among the world’s largest, at 2,300 sq. feet (213.68 sq. meter) on average. And this hasn’t changed. In the same article, a 2017 report from consultant PwC suggests homes in Canada are the third largest in the world.

However, rising prices, dwindling space and an influx of immigration may make room for the small housing movement to gain a foothold in Canada. As the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) states: ” Home prices have risen ahead of economic fundamentals such as personal disposable income and population growth, resulting in overvaluation in many Canadian housing markets.”

In fact, cities such as Toronto and Vancouver have already witnessed the small housing phenomenon as limited space and affordability have forced developers to think small.

Paul Kealey, co-owner of EkoBuilt, near Ottawa, told The Ottawa Citizen that there are many positives to the small housing movement, as the houses are “cheaper to build and operate, less expensive to maintain and repair.” That also may mean lower taxes.

Sounds like the small housing movement is on the verge of packing a big punch in housing markets across Canada.

Polishing the Crystal Ball: Real Estate in 2018

Whether you’re planning to become a home buyer in 2018 or hoping to sell your current property, it can be hard to forecast the way the real estate market will go. Here are some trend predictions, gathered from several sources, which maydominate in 2018:

A recent report from the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers brings good news: the usual boom-and-bust cycle isn’t behaving typically, so what could have been a bust may be a gentle downturn instead.

Smartcitiesdive.com, which highlighted elements of the PWC/Urban Land Institute report, suggests the real estate industry has begun to take an interest in a new generation.

This is not to detract from the importance of millennials who, incidentally, are expected to become more interested in purchasing a home in 2018 than in previous years. A new generation, “Gen Z,” is indicating an even stronger interest in becoming homeowners at an earlier age than their millennial counterparts. Born after 1995, Gen Zers are enthusiastic about fixer-uppers and do-it-yourself projects and may lead the way in gentrifying distressed urban neighbourhoods.

The Internet of Things is changing everything, so why not real estate? Smart home automation is driving the industry to incorporate the latest tech in new home builds and attract tech-savvy buyers by focusing on tech amenities in listings. The PWC/Urban Land Institute report suggests the industry has been lagging behind, technologically speaking, so 2018 may well be the year of the high-tech home.

Little is known yet about the economic and political factors affecting the industry across Canada. Continued government intervention in selected markets, such as Vancouver and Toronto, remains a question mark as does the movement of interest rates. The Canadian economy appears stable, and ultimately it may be that stability that will impact real estate at the seller and buyer level. Continued concerns about affordability and household debt will remain issues to contend with in 2018.

Will Balance Return to Real Estate Markets?

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the summer of 2017 delivered the first year-over-year decline in home prices in four years. And this may be a sign of balance returning to housing markets across Canada.

As reported by CREA, the across-the-country decline was only 0.3 per cent, but many believe this downward trend will continue at least into the new year. According to CREA, home sales declined in two-thirds of the Canadian market, including Calgary, Halifax and Ottawa, and the Greater Toronto Area.

As CREA chief economist Gregory Klump says: “Sales may be starting to bottom out amid stabilizing housing market sentiment. Time will tell whether that’s indeed the case…”

The national news magazine Maclean’s believes that prices will also fall, especially in the single, detached-home market. And, to the relief of many, Maclean’s suggests the days of bidding wars are most likely behind us.

Market watchers attributed the drop in home sales that initially affected Vancouver, and was still impacting Toronto this fall, to recent measures imposed by both provinces designed to cool overheated housing markets.

Also this fall, the Bank of Canada increased the interest rate for the second time in two months – which had the immediate effect of raising mortgage rates. Expectations are that rates will continue to rise. As well, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is considering again tightening credit regulations. But industry pushback may put this on hold.

What are buyers and sellers across the country to do? With the usual slowdown in the housing market in fall and winter combined with uncertainty on many fronts, both may be inclined to take a wait-and-see attitude.

Or they may adopt the position of cautious optimism espoused by some experts, who are anticipating calmer, more balanced housing markets across the country with more choice for buyers and sufficient profit for sellers.

After all the instability, this may be news to take action on.