Ottawa Home and Condo Blog

Ottawa Real Estates Great Housing Divide – East vs West

A significant divide has opened up in Ottawa’s housing market, as the city’s economic centre of gravity shifts to the west. The split has been growing for months but rarely has it been as clear as it was in August.

While the benchmark price for single family homes climbed 6.6 per cent year over year across the city to $398,400, the districts posting the largest gains are all in the west. In sharp contrast, nine of the ten districts reporting the slowest growth in resale house prices were in the east, according to detailed data published this week by the Ottawa Real Estate Board.

“There’s no high-tech hub in the east to help drive the demand there,” said board president Rick Eisert, who added the new west-end headquarters of the Department of National Defence is also starting to influence house prices. An estimated 5,000 of DND’s 16,000-plus local employees live in the east end of the city. As these positions are transferred to other military bases across the country, DND newcomers to Ottawa are opting for homes in the west end.

Moving DND workers into the former Nortel site has been a slow-motion process, but hundreds are now working on site with the full 8,500 expected by 2020 or thereabouts.

Ottawa's great housing divide

It’s no coincidence that fully half of the 14 real estate districts reporting the strongest growth in the price of single family homes lie just to the east of the new DND headquarters. In the Woodroffe district for instance, bounded on the west by the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and on the east by Woodroffe Avenue, the benchmark price in August was $426,200, up 15.4 per cent compared to a year earlier.

Benchmark prices, developed by the board and other regional agencies, are based on an index that reflects multiple housing characteristics such as roof type, number of bathrooms and age of the property, and offers a more consistent view of underlying trends.

The fact that relatively few houses are up for sale is also pushing up prices in the west end.

“DND has certainly played a role but low inventories mean there are many cases of multiple offers,” said Kevin Grimes, broker of record and owner of Re/Max Affiliates Realty Ltd. “That can cause a bigger price jump,” he added. 

The strongest pocket for gains in resale values in August was directly north of the Ottawa International Airport and east of the Rideau River. In Hunt Club-Windsor Park, the benchmark price for single family homes surged 20 per cent compared to a year earlier to reach $456,600. Nearby districts Mooney’s Bay-Carleton Square and Billings Bridge-Riverside saw house price gains of 17.3 per cent and 14.6 per cent for respective benchmark values of $478,900 and $458,700.

Ottawa's housing market

The big draws in these districts are locations within a reasonable commute of downtown and the west alike, along with prices that are so far well below those in trendy Westboro and Glebe.

Despite the fact that increases in resale home values are lagging east of the city’s Bank Street dividing line, real estate agents are still reporting plenty of sales.

“Inventory levels aren’t as low in the east as they are in the west,” said Grimes, who maintains offices in both areas, “but we’re seeing multiple offers in the east as well.”

Indeed, all districts monitored by the Ottawa Real Estate Board reported growth in the resale price of single family homes last month. Vanier, where prices edged up just 1.6 per cent year over year, recorded the smallest gain. The benchmark price in Vanier was $329,800 — the second lowest after Carlsbad Springs ($325,800).

The highest benchmark price for single family houses in August could be found as you might expect in Rockcliffe Park ($1,516,300, up 6.1 per cent) and New Edinburgh-Lindenlea ($764,600, up 7.6 per cent). It’s a reminder that while house appreciation may be weaker in general in the east, parts of it remain the most exclusive in the city

Published on: September 7, 2017 | Last Updated: September 7, 2017 5:51 PM EDT Ottawa Citizen

Get Your Home Ready For Fall & Winter

As you and your family enjoy the last days of summer, you might already be anticipating the cold weather that is coming. Many people become so busy with the onset of the school year, or life in general, that cooler air arrives before they are ready for it. That’s why it makes sense to start looking now at ways you can get your home ready for fall and winter. Doing so can help keep your family warm and you money. And who doesn’t like the sound of that?

 

It all starts with making sure your furnace is ready when you need it.

Preparing Inside Your Home

When it’s cold outside, you’ll be warming the air and keeping it inside your home. That’s why it’s important to make sure your furnace is working properly. That means hiring an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace, but as Lifehacker explains, it also means getting a programmable thermostat. By setting different temperatures during the day, you can keep your house warm while saving money. It also helps to replace your air filters regularly so the furnace runs more efficiently.

 

But even having a great furnace and thermostat won’t help if your house is drafty. Check each door and window for leaks. If you feel air blowing in, you’ll need to employ weather-stripping and draft blockers. You can even use plastic wrap over unused windows during the winter as a temporary form of storm windows.

Tips For Outside Your Home

Once the inside of your home is ready for winter, it’s time to tackle the outside. If you have big leaks around your windows or door frames, BobVila.com recommends using caulk to fill in the gaps. Silicon caulk is often best, and this can completely shut off any drafts robbing you of money and warmth. Winterizing is more than just stopping drafts. Here are some other tips for taking care of the outside before the weather gets really cold:

  • Repair the surface of decks, patios, or porches before snowfall makes the damage worse.
  • Clear out your gutters after the leaves stop falling so melting snow can be directed away from your foundation and roof.
  • Check your roof for any loose shingles or leaks before the weight of a big snowfall damages your roof and attic.
  • Cover any outdoor furniture, or if you have the space, put them away for the winter.

Taking Care Of Your Pool

If you own a pool, prepping the outside of your home gets a little more involved. After all, a pool is a big investment that needs proper tending and care, which is why you need to winterize your pool as well.

 

In The Swim recommends getting the right-sized cover for your pool. Covers are essential for a few reasons:

  • It prevents falling leaves and twigs from clogging up your pool.
  • It protects the pool’s lining.
  • It stops melting snow from over-filling your pool.
  • It helps keep any water remaining in your pool from getting dirty.

 

Pool covers can fit both above-ground and in-ground pools, and there are even pumps that can remove excess snow and water from the top of the cover so that they stay protected as well.

Getting Ready Now Pays Off Later

It can be hard to think about winterizing your home and pool when you can still keep the windows open. But preparing now can help save you money, effort, and warmth when fall and winter finally arrive. Make sure your furnace is working properly, then close off any drafts or leaks. Then cover your pool and outdoor furniture so both are ready for when you need them next year. A little extra prep will leave you in great shape for winter, which is usually when we all start thinking about spring again. Good luck!

Paul Denikin

Dadknowsdiy.com

paul@dadknowsDIY.com

Bank of Canada Rate Increases 1/4 point today – Now what to do with variable rate mortgages??

Today marks a rare moment for many of my variable-rate borrowers because the Bank of Canada hasn’t raised its overnight rate in more than seven years, which means there are many among this group who have never experienced a rate rise (this is the part where the older generations shake their heads). Well, after years of ultra-low Prime rates…it seems today is the day that we’ll see an increase, likely ¼%.

Our history says that variable-rate borrowers who convert tend to pay more over time than if they had stayed the course. While past is not necessarily prologue, in his famous fifty-year study that compared fixed and variable mortgage rates, Dr. Moshe Milevsky found that variable-rate borrowers who convert mid-term typically paid more than variable-rate borrowers who stuck it out. In other words, converting your variable rate today will give you peace of mind, but history says that you will probably be locking in additional cost over the long run.

Is it time to panic and lock in?   While your variable rate may be headed higher soon, I don’t think the rise will be dramatic, as many now suddenly fear.  So, my answer is yes, and no, it depends on you. In my humble opinion, the media speculation has blown the rate increases out of proportion. When the media uses scare tactics, some people are bound to react out of emotion instead of logic and make a choice they would not normally make.  Perspective is key!  10 years ago, the 5-year fixed rate was 4.99%.   Even if we were to have two successive ¼% increases, most variable rate clients will still be well below 3%.

When the Bank of Canada increase interest rates today it will be by a quarter point, .25% which is an increase in monthly payment of $12.39 on the $100,000.00.   When we take a closer look at how a rate increase affects you financially, it removes the fear, brings understanding and the ability to make an informed decision about your mortgage.

Here’s the math:

Mortgage Amount: $100,000.00 – 25 year amortization

Current Payment: $435.76 at Prime (2.70%) – 0.50 = 2.20%
New Payment: $448.15 at Prime (2.95%) – 0.50 = 2.45% (Bank of Canada Increase of .25%)
A difference of $12.39 on the $100,000.00 – 25 year amortization

If you have a mortgage of $300,000, you will see an increase of 3 x $12.39 = $37.17 a month or $18.58 bi-weekly

Currently, I am taking my own advice and staying the course. There are many reasons to maintain the use of a variable rate mortgage as outlined below:

1. The interest rate calculation
2. More of your payment goes to principal, especially in the first 2 years.
3. The penalty is only 3 months simple interest.
4. The ability to switchover to the fixed rate market anytime with no penalty or cost. Remember, once you switch to fixed you cannot return to variable until renewal or pay a penalty.
5. A whopping 78% of first-time homebuyers will terminate or move their mortgage before the end of their 5 year term. Flexibility is key.

The bottom line is simple.  If you are feeling panicked (risk averse) that your payment may increase, this may signal that it is time for you to lock in.  The last thing I want is you up at night worrying about your mortgage!  If your cash flow is good and you are only mildly curious about next steps (risk tolerant), then I feel there is still a lot of mileage in a floating rate product.

 

By Susanna Penning – The Mortgage Advisors

Ottawa Real Estate Outpacing Toronto!!

Ottawa’s housing market is becoming much livelier with realtors reporting a nearly nine per cent jump in June year over year, in prices and number of transactions alike.

The average sale price for residential properties in Ottawa was up 8.8 per cent to reach $434,500 in June, while prices for condominiums surged 9.4 per cent to $289, 900, the Ottawa Real Estate Board reported Thursday. Unit sales of residential properties climbed 6 per cent in June and the number of condominiums sold increased a remarkable 23 per cent, representing 400 plus units.

Somewhat surprisingly, Ottawa homeowners who sold their property in June registered bigger percentage gains than their counterparts in Toronto. The average selling price for all homes in metro Toronto increased a comparatively modest 6.3 per cent year over year to nearly $794,000.

Ottawa's housing market

Prices in the Toronto market have been moderating after the government introduced measures in April to cool speculation and increase the supply of houses. Average prices there have dropped nearly 14 per cent since hitting a peak of $919,600 in April.

In sharp contrast, the price of homes sold by Ottawa Real Estate Board members has been roughly stable from April to June.

Even so, the gap between the two markets remains enormous when it comes to key categories such as single-family homes. The price of a detached home in the Toronto area (area codes 416 and 905) in June was nearly $1.1 million, up 7.8 per cent year over year.

In Ottawa, the average two-storey house sold for $458,100 in June, up 8.9 per cent compared to June 2016.

Board president-elect Ralph Shaw points out average prices locally were boosted by an unusually large number of transactions involving high-end homes. In June, realtors sold 46 units for more than $1 million each, more than double the number during the same month a year ago.

To get around this type of distortion, the Board relies on benchmark prices it developed along with other regional agencies. These are based on an index that reflects multiple housing characteristics such as roof type, number of bathrooms and age of the property, and offers a more consistent view of underlying trends.

The June benchmark showed that single-family homes across Ottawa sold for an average $393,200, up 6.2 per cent from June 2016.

The statistic suggests a couple of distinct patterns are emerging in Ottawa’s suddenly buoyant housing market.

Nearly 40 per cent of 45 real estate districts tracked by the Board saw double-digit gains in June in the sale price of single-family homes compared to a year earlier. It’s probably no coincidence that the biggest bumps were recorded in corridors that follow the western and southern spurs of the city’s developing light-rail system.

Leading the pack are three districts just to the west of Bank St. and south of the airport — poised to benefit from the projected 2021 southern LRT extension.

The Hunt Club/Windsor Park district saw the benchmark price of single-family homes surge nearly 27 per cent year over year in June to reach $461,500. Prices also moved up smartly in the nearby districts of Mooney’s Bay/Carleton Square (up 16.7 per cent vs June 2016 to $474,100) and Billings Bridge/Riverside (a 16.5 per cent gain to $455,000).

The June data also revealed remarkable strength in house prices along the corridor stretching west along the Ottawa River from Mechanicsville towards Kanata — which will eventually be served by the Confederation West light rail transit spur. Nearly all these districts saw double-digit gains year over year in the price of family homes.

Some areas are getting downright expensive by Ottawa standards. Carlingwood/Westboro — bounded by Carling Avenue on the south, Woodroffe Avenue to the west and Churchill Avenue on the east — saw the price of single-family homes surge 11.7 per cent to $735,600. It’s the first time this district has seen benchmark prices above $700,000 — and it’s now pricier than Glebe/Ottawa East, where benchmark prices in June were $700,100 (up 7.7 per cent).

As has been the case for a number of months, house prices in the eastern sections of the city have been lagging. In part this reflects the ongoing consolidation of National Defence headquarters at the former Nortel campus at 3500 Carling Avenue.

None of the 14 Board districts in east Ottawa recorded double-digit gains in June in benchmark prices.

jbagnall@postmedia.com

 

Surprise! Ottawa house price gains outpace those of Toronto

5 Things to know about the New Ontario 15% Non- Resident Speculation Tax

Although the Province has just announced the 15% Non-Resident Speculation tax, there are already more questions than answers. Here is what you need to know.

  1. The tax is for non-residents of Canada buying 1-6 residential units in the Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario.

This tax is in addition to any Land Transfer Tax payable. It applies only on 1-6 units of residential property purchased by a Non-resident of Canada in the Golden Horseshoe Region of Ontario, including Toronto, Niagara, Hamilton, Peterborough, Simcoe, Waterloo and York. It thus does NOT apply to any apartment building with at least 7 residential units, or any commercial property, industrial property or vacant land.

  1. What if you are a Canadian citizen but also a non-resident?

If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not pay the tax. Even if you are a non-resident, living in the US, Great Britain or Hong Kong, as long as you are a Canadian citizen, you will not pay this tax.

  1. What if there are 3 buyers buying a property that cost $500,000.00, each owning a third of the property, with 2 owners being Canadian citizens and one being a non-resident?

Here it becomes very problematic. Even if the non-resident will own only one third of the property, they must pay 15% on the entire purchase price of $500,000.00, or $75,000.00

  1. Lenders ask for parents to sometimes co-sign a mortgage for their children buying a home and take a small percentage of title, even 1%, to do so. What happens if the children are permanent residents of Canada but the parent is a non-resident?

This is a disaster, because under the new rules, even if the parent was holding the 1% title in trust for the children, they must pay 15% of the tax on the ENTIRE purchase price.  Mortgage brokers, lenders and realtors must be aware of this when qualifying potential buyers. In this regard, lenders will have to start giving serious consideration to accepting a guarantee instead from the non-resident parents, to avoid the non-resident parents having to take any interest in the property, triggering this tax. The issue, however, is that if the children do not qualify based on their income, the parent may have to go on title to satisfy the lender requirements. In addition, the guarantee will likely require the parents to obtain independent legal advice , and permit them to raise more defences if the bank tries to enforce it. As you can see, this is not easy, and this must be determined before anyone in this situation puts in an offer to buy a home.

  1. Rebates

Even if the tax is paid, rebates will be available if the non-resident becomes a resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen within 4 years of closing, or if the non-resident is a foreign student who has been enrolled as a full-time student at an approved Ontario institution for at least 2 years after closing, or the foreign national has worked at a full-time Ontario job for at least one year after closing.

Ottawa Real Estate ready to roll this Spring!

OTTAWA, May 3, 2017 – Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,795 residential properties in April through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 1,711 in April 2016, an increase of 4.9 per cent. The five-year average for April sales is 1,613.

“The April resale market continued its upward trend in units sold, just shy of a record set in 2010,” says Rick Eisert, President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “Sales activity is indicating a trend towards a seller’s market. Lower inventory, combined with increased demand, is creating many more multiple offer situations and quicker moving properties, with the average cumulative days on market dipping to just 71 days.”

7 things a GREAT realtor will provide with EVERY transaction…

A real estate transaction can be an exciting thing to experience, but it can also be nerve-wracking and stressful. Your experience will largely depend on the circumstances surrounding your transaction and, perhaps more importantly, the agent you’re working with.

A great agent will not only get you over the finish line to the best of their ability, but they can also change your life for the better. Here are eight ways:

1. They’ll show you they care

In today’s fast-paced world, it seems like everyone’s attention is in short supply. A great real estate agent will show you that’s not always the case, by listening and caring about you and your needs. Not only will being a good listener help an agent do their job, but it’ll also show you that even in business, there are still people out there who care.

2. They can save you a lot of money

There’s an old expression, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” Hiring a great agent can save you literally thousands of dollars, as the right agent will not only negotiate effectively, but also know what pitfalls to look for as the transaction moves along, saving you money in the process.

3. They can help you see things in a different way

One of the most overlooked aspects of hiring a great agent is just how much of an effect they can have on your perspective. For instance, you might think that you’re looking for something in particular, but a great agent can take what you asked for and find something that’s even better than anything you’ve ever considered. A great agent is like an expert matchmaker.

4. They’ll do more than help you buy or sell a home

A great real estate agent will go above and beyond for you. They’ll help you find contractors, give recommendations on design (if you’re open to them), and even help you navigate the restaurants in your new neighborhood. Great agents provide so much value because they want to be your go-to resource for anything to do with real estate.

5. They can find you something that no one else can

Great real estate agents aren’t necessarily miracle workers, but they’re close. A great agent will surprise you with something no one’s ever thought of before, whether it’s finding a property that you didn’t know about, or a solution to an otherwise complex problem. A great agent is proactive and instead of sitting around waiting, will make things happen for you.

6. They can take a lot of stress away

One of the best things about a great real estate agent is the peace of mind that comes from working with them. There are lots of things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction, and a great agent knows this and will not only anticipate issues ahead of time, but will shoulder the burden and solve problems for you, making it a low-stress experience.

7. They’ll go to battle for you when it counts

The right agent is like a general you can depend on when the going gets tough. From searching for the right property or buyer, to negotiating, to pushing the deal through despite all obstacles standing in the way… a great real estate agent won’t back down from adversity and will battle for your best interests at all times.

Dug up some old Radio Ads from the Dawg days!

New Mortgage Loan Insurance Premiums are about to hit Ottawa Real Estate!

Effective March 17, 2017, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Genworth Canada are increasing premiums for mortgage loan insurance. The higher premiums will impact homeowners with an insured mortgage with a loan to value greater than 65%.

 

What you need to know – keeping in mind that loans under 80% loan to value do not HAVE to be insured in most cases…

 

  • CMHC estimates that for higher loan to values, on average borrowers will see an increase of $5/month in payments
  • To qualify for current premiums, there is a deadline of 11:59 pm Eastern Time on March 13, 2017 for you to submit a full application, including resubmits and converting a pre-approval to a full application
  • All new deals submitted after the deadline will be subject to the new premiums
  • Here’s how the most common premiums will change:
Loan To Value Ratio Current Effective March 17th
Up to 65% 0.60% 0.60%
65.01% – 75% 0.75% 1.70%
75.01% – 80% 1.25% 2.40%
80.01% – 85% 1.80% 2.80%
85.01% – 90% 2.40% 3.10%
90.01% – 95% 3.60% 4.00%

 

Note: Premium changes also apply to unique programs such as Genworth’s Alt A and Cottage products or CMHC’s nontraditional down payment.

5 Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

For those looking for a deal, distressed and foreclosed properties (called “power of sale” in Ontario) can offer a great opportunity. Lenders are looking to unload the property and will often offer a discount to do so quickly. But the process of buying a foreclosed home can differ a little from traditional home sales. Here are some things to consider before you make an offer on one of these properties.

 “As-Is”

Angry homeowners that are in the process of losing a home can feel like they have nothing left to lose. Faced with the prospect of losing their house, homeowners sometimes leave the place stripped of anything valuable or useful, including door knobs, fixtures and wiring.  While you can get the place at a discount, it might only be a bargain if you’ve got some DIY skills. This shouldn’t necessarily discourage you from buying, but you’ll need to figure out if the cost of repairs will offset the discounted offer price.

Know what to expect

A lender has no history with the home they are selling in these cases, so don’t expect to get a run-down of problems before you move in. A foreclosure might be a good deal, but it can also turn into an unexpected adventure. A good home inspector and/or contractor visits can help sort out the details.

Don’t Assume They’ll Take ANY Offer

While a foreclosed home can often be a bargain, you shouldn’t expect the lender to accept a lowball offer. Even in a market flooded with foreclosures, a bank might balk at a low offer, preferring to wait until housing prices bounce back rather than take a huge hit on the investment. However, you can use other ridiculous offers to your advantage and still land a deal at a good discount.

It Takes Time

Most mortgages are backed by large banks which means you will likely run into a large, slow-moving bureaucracy when trying to buy. With a traditional home sale, you can expect to find out if your offer has been accepted within a day or two. But when buying from a financial institution this process can take weeks. So have patience!

A Different Kind of Sale

Banks have their own processes and procedures for selling a home in foreclosure, which can make the purchasing process feel a bit foreign for  buyers. There are caveats written into sale agreements that protect the bank and these are often long and confusing. I can help sort through these items to make sure you know what you’re getting into!