Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Higher Interest Rates Causing a Slowdown in Home Sales in Waterloo Region

WATERLOO REGION, ON (August 5, 2022) — 550 residential homes were sold through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System of the Waterloo Region Association of REALTORS® (WRAR) in July, a decrease of 32.8 per cent compared to July 2021, and 32.3 per cent below the previous 5-year average for the month.

“In the wake of July’s interest rate hike, home sales in Waterloo Region continued to slow,” says Megan Bell, President of WRAR. “We’re seeing a clear shift in the market and what people can afford to purchase or are willing to pay. On the bright side for buyers, it’s not the extreme sellers’ market it was.”

Total residential sales in July included 337 detached (down 30.4 per cent from July 2021), and 112 townhouses (down 32.9 per cent). Sales also included 65 condominium units (down 39.3 per cent) and 36 semi-detached homes (down 41.0 per cent).

In July, the average sale price for all residential properties in Waterloo Region was $752,301. This represents a 1.2 per cent decrease compared to July 2021 and a 4.9 per cent decrease compared to June 2022.

  • The average price of a detached home was $842,241. This represents a 6.0 per cent decrease from July 2021 and a decrease of 7.0 per cent compared to June 2022.
  • The average sale price for a townhouse was $642,750. This represents a 3.6 per cent increase from July 2021 and a decrease of 3.3 per cent compared to June 2022.
  • The average sale price for an apartment-style condominium was $521,731. This represents an increase of 20.4 per cent from July 2021 and an increase of 4.1 per cent compared to June 2022.
  • The average sale price for a semi was $661,087. This represents an increase of 1.0 per cent compared to July 2021 and a decrease of 5.4 per cent compared to June 2022.

“The real estate market is cooling across the province, and we are seeing significantly fewer buyers from the GTA, which is also impacting prices,” reports Bell. “However, this is not entirely bad news since the previous market was not sustainable. We are all keenly aware of the issues relating to affordability of not just purchasing a home, but rentals as well, and there is clearly more work to be done.”

There were 1,174 new listings added to the MLS® System in the Waterloo Region last month, an increase of 34.0 per cent compared to July of last year, and a 9.2 per cent increase compared to the previous ten-year average for July.

The total number of homes available for sale in active status at the end of July was 1,283, an increase of 215.2 per cent compared to July of last year, and 19.5 per cent below the previous ten-year average of 1593 listings for July.

The number of months of inventory was 1.7 months in July, as it was in June. While this is still at historic lows, the last time it was near this range was September of 2019 when it was 1.6 months.  The number of months of inventory represents how long it would take to sell off current inventories at the current sales rate.  

The average number of days to sell in July was 18, compared to 11 days in July 2021. The previous 5-year average is 17 days.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Is it Time for A Mortgage Checkup?


Having regular checkups by a doctor is critical to ensuring good health. The same concept holds true for one of your most important financial investments: your mortgage.

Plenty can change in someone’s life during the standard five-year mortgage a lot of Canadians sign up for. You may need to change your mortgage because of a career change, having kids, or entering retirement.

Canadians tend to become complacent about their mortgage payments when they could be saving a lot of money. For example, the more adverse you become to risk, the less likely a variable mortgage will be right for you. Using online tools, such as a mortgage calculator and a mortgage penalty calculator, you can determine how much you can expect to pay if you break your existing mortgage.

What is a Mortgage Check-Up?
It is a process used to compare your current mortgage rate and product to today’s rates and available products. It will help you determine the product that is best suited to your needs. It will also assist you with making the choice between a Variable Rate Mortgage or a Fixed Rate Mortgage?

The process takes into account your current mortgage rate, outstanding mortgage amount, and remaining time left in your term, and compares it to today’s rates and products. It will give you the information you need to make a smarter decision with your mortgage and help you pay it off faster.

With the large variety of mortgage products available today, there is a good chance that there is one that suits your needs better than the one you have now.

How often you should make a mortgage checkup?
Many financial advisers recommend that you do a mortgage checkup once a year, and several Canadian mortgage companies offer this service free on their website.

It may be worthwhile to renegotiate your mortgage or increase your payments. An extra payment of $100 a month on a standard $200,000 mortgage could save almost $18,000 in interest and shorten the amortization period by about four years. Many banks allow people to pay a lump sum of the principal on the mortgage’s anniversary and increase their monthly payments. This is a golden opportunity that you should take if, for example,  you received a tax refund, applying that refund to your mortgage, rather than making a personal purchase, can save you significant money.


Buyers Etiquette Guide to Viewing Homes

As a prospective home buyer, you have responsibility for the viewing of homes. You need to be sensitive and respectful when touring properties with your agent. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow during your home hunting days:

Dress appropriately
Aim to look innocuous and don't let your clothes give anything away. You don’t want to look scruffy, but equally, if you look too smart the vendor might assume you've got loads of money and won’t negotiate.

Leave young children and babies at home 
It is advisable not to take kids on the first viewing as they can be too distracting. If the vendor has children, then it is typically okay to bring them for a second viewing. However, if the vendor is childless, they may find it a bit of an imposition.

Arrive on time for the viewing
You should always make the effort to arrive on time. Also if you are coming with others, make sure you arrive together. Showings are usually set for a certain time and it is not only an inconvenience to your agent if you are late but the seller may be on a schedule. Often owners will leave just in time for a showing and may be waiting to return after its completion.

Take off your shoes
Even if you are not accustomed to taking off your shoes before entering someone else's home, it is best to do so when viewing a home so that you do not track mud and dirt into the home. People from various cultures and religions who do not wear shoes at home may be offended if you enter their house with your shoes on, so it is best to leave your shoes at the front door.

Respect the seller's personal property 
While it is expected to open kitchen cabinets, pantries and closets, try to keep the investigation down to a minimum. Avoid opening dresser drawers, looking at personal items, and using the master bathroom.

Don’t criticize things you don’t like in front of the homeowner
If the owners happen to be at home, keep conversation with them to a minimum. Most sellers try to be out when a showing takes place but sometimes it is just not possible. It is best not to "grill" them about why they are selling or where they are going. These questions are better filtered through your agent. The very worst thing you can do is say things like 'well we'd have to knock that wall down' and 'if we filled the pond in the garden it would look much better'. The vendor is probably very proud of their property the way it is. Although, some aspects of the house may not suit you and while you may not wish to purchase the home, it is best to have those discussions with your spouse out of earshot.

When leaving the home, it is nice to say things like, "Thank you for showing me around, it's kind of you to take the time" or "You have a lovely home". Vendors usually remember nice and polite people and favour them in any competition for the house.

Most people have enough common sense to be courteous and careful when entering a stranger's home for viewing. When in doubt about protocol, just ask your agent. One of the standing rules about viewing a home is - to leave it exactly the way you found it.

Home Windows - Repair or Replace?



Over the years, there have been many changes in the style, technology, and function of windows. When deciding whether to repair or replace your existing windows, begin by considering their age and condition. As well, poorly designed, constructed and placed windows can cost money through heat or cooling loss.

If your home is more than 30 years old and still has the original windows, chances are your windows are not keeping you as warm or as cool as well-placed and installed newer models. But, there are measures you can take to increase the efficiency of your older windows:

  • Tighten the seal around the windows with weather-stripping. There are many different types of weather-stripping available for use on wood, metal, aluminum, and vinyl. One of the easiest to apply is caulking cord which comes in a roll. You simply press the cord into place to make a tight seal.
  • Every window not made of insulated glass should have a storm window. If your home has storm windows, ensure they are in good condition and install them properly before the cold season begins. When those icy winter winds start blowing, both you and your pocketbook will notice if your windows offer good protection.
  • If your home doesn't have storm windows, or they are in poor condition, you can get as good or better protection using heavy-gauge clear plastic sheeting. Seal it tightly over your existing windows and you will have an inexpensive and effective alternative to storm windows.


Five signs that it's time to replace your windows:

  1. If a window develops ice or a frosty glaze inside a window pane, poor ventilation or insufficient insulation may be to blame.
  2. If you feel a cold draft in the winter or a warm draft during the summer when sitting near your window, it is a clear sign of poor insulation. This problem can significantly increase your energy bill.
  3. If you stand inside your house with a candle lit near a window's edge and the flame flickers or goes out, your weather stripping may need to be replaced.
  4. If your window no longer remains open on its own, requiring you to prop it open, it is no longer in good condition.
  5. If your windows become fogged with condensation there may be a seal failure. Seal failures are usually fixed by replacing either the glazing or the entire window.


Replacing windows
Modern windows not only beautify the appearance of a home, but they also bring sunlight in during winter, while preventing the warmth created from escaping outdoors. Windows also insulate a home from heat during the summer and keep cooled air from escaping. Today windows combine science and technologies that increase energy efficiency and actually reduce heating and air conditioning costs.

Replacing existing windows with more energy-efficient models doesn't have to be done all at once. Begin by replacing the ones causing the most heat loss, such as the large picture windows in your living and dining rooms. Replacing windows in stages over a period of years costs less up front and still increases energy efficiency.

Common window types include double-hung, casement, stationary, awning, and horizontal sliding. They may be made of wood, aluminum or vinyl, or a combination of these materials. Almost all feature insulated glass and easy-to-clean designs that provide tight seals and eliminate heat loss.

Whether you plan to install new windows yourself or have them installed professionally, be sure to visit a number of suppliers and study the various products and options on the market. You want to select windows that complement the appearance of your home, increase energy efficiency and give you the most value for your money.

Quality installed replacement windows will give your home protection from the outside elements and provide a great overall aesthetic look from the curb while meeting the energy-related requirements required for rebates and tax credit programs.

Condominium or House? Which is Right for You?


For some people, a condominium lifestyle is the only way to live—no lawn maintenance, access to a pool and tennis court, and extra security features you might not have in a single-family home. Other people simply can’t breathe in a condo because their neighbours are too close for comfort. Consider the pros and cons and your specific needs and desires before deciding on whether to buy a condo or a house.


Because of all of the advantages of home ownership in comparison to renting, many of you will soon be reaching a point where you want to buy a home. However, you may not be sure whether you should actually buy a house or if you should look into buying a condo instead. This is especially true for younger home buyers who might want the benefits of living in a more communal situation that a condo environment provides.


Should you join the condo club or go for a more traditional home ownership?

A condo is probably the right choice for you if:

  • You don’t have a lot of money to spend but still want to invest in home ownership.
  • You are interested in being part of a small community living in the same complex.
  • You are comfortable living in close proximity to your neighbours.
  • You are a single individual or a couple that is looking for a small home rather than a large property.
  • You don’t mind having certain aspects of your home ownership regulated by a committee (a home owner’s association made up of some of the tenants who own the condos).
  • You live in an urban area where condos are common (such as Toronto or Vancouver).
  • You run a busy lifestyle and prefer to enjoy amenities like a pool or a shaded grounds area but aren’t able to maintain such amenities yourself either because of the time that it takes or the cost.


A house is more likely to be a better choice for you if:

  • You have (or plan to have) a large family.
  • You are a very private person who does not like living close to your neighbours or having your home choices regulated by an association.
  • You are investing in home ownership primarily for the purpose of resale of the home in the future (since property values are usually higher than condo values).
  • You are seeking to purchase a large home and/or you need outdoor areas for things like large pets.
  • You enjoy maintaining your own yard or garden.
  • You live in a rural area or in a location where there are not many condos on the market.

Although there are always exceptions, condo purchases are usually best for single individuals who have neither the money to invest in a house nor the time to maintain the upkeep of a house. These tend to be young people who don’t mind apartment-style living in close quarters with their neighbours, who are comfortable having some regulation by the home owner’s association and who enjoy sharing common areas with others. Often, condo buyers are first-time home buyers. If, in contrast, you are an older adult who has (or may soon have) a family and would like the freedom and privacy of a home with its own property, then a house is probably the right choice for you.

Regardless of whether you buy a house or a condo, it's important to do your homework and consider the future of the neighbourhood you're buying into. The old saying of "location, location, location" remains true for both. Each is a significant investment, and you need to find a safe and vibrant neighbourhood capable of nurturing your investment into the future.

Higher Borrowing Costs Continue to Impact Home Sales


Home sales have been impacted by both the affordability challenge presented by mortgage rate hikes and the psychological effect wherein home buyers who can afford higher borrowing costs have put their decision on hold to see where home prices end up. Expect current market conditions to remain in place during the slower summer months. Once home prices stabilize, some buyers will re-enter the market despite higher borrowing costs,.


Ontario - Higher Borrowing Costs Continued to Impact Home Sales

Toronto, 05 July 2022 - Higher borrowing costs continued to impact home sales in June 2022. Sales totalled 6,474 – down by 41% compared to last year’s strong result. The number of transactions was also down compared to May 2022, but this is often the case due to the seasonal nature of the market.

The average selling price, at $1,146,254, remained 5.3% above the June 2021 level but continued to trend lower on a monthly basis. The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 17.9% year-over-year but also experienced a month-over-month dip compared to May. Annual price growth was driven more so by less expensive market segments, including townhouses and condominium apartments.

“Home sales have been impacted by both the affordability challenge presented by mortgage rate hikes and the psychological effect wherein home buyers who can afford higher borrowing costs have put their decision on hold to see where home prices end up. Expect current market conditions to remain in place during the slower summer months. Once home prices stabilize, some buyers will re-enter the market despite higher borrowing costs,” said TRREB President Kevin Crigger.

While the number of transactions was down year-over-year, the number of new listings was little changed over the same period. This has provided for more balance in the market, resulting in a more moderate annual pace of price growth.

“Listings will be an important indicator to watch over the next few months. With the unemployment rate low, the majority of households aren’t in a position where they need to sell their home. If would-be sellers decide to take a wait-and-see attitude over the next few months, it’s possible that active listings could trend lower as well. This could cause market conditions to tighten somewhat, providing some support for home prices,” said TRREB Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer.

“Our region continues to grow because we attract people and businesses from all around the world. All of these people will require a place to live, whether they choose to buy or rent. Despite the shorter-term impact of higher borrowing costs, housing demand will remain strong over the long term, as long as we can produce homes within which people can live. Policymakers at all levels need to make this their key goal,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Steady increase in inventory of homes for sale and interest rates continue to cool the housing market for the 4th consecutive month

KITCHENER-WATERLOO, ON (July 6, 2022) —There were 561 residential homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service® System (MLS® System) of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS® (KWAR) in June, a decrease of 24.0 per cent compared to the same month last year, and 17.3 per cent below the previous 5-year average.

 

“For the fourth consecutive month we’re seeing home prices moderate as the number of properties available for sale has steadily increased” says Megan Bell, President of KWAR. “In June the average price of a detached home has levelled off to where it was this time last year.”

 

Total residential sales in June included 326 detached (down 20.7 per cent from June 2021), and 103 townhouses (down 32.2 per cent). Sales also included 84 condominium units (down 18.4 per cent) and 48 semi-detached homes (down 33.3 per cent).

 

In June, the average sale price for all residential properties in the Kitchener-Waterloo area was $791,674. This represents a 4.2 per cent increase over June 2021 and a 9.6 per cent decrease compared to May 2022.

 

      • The average price of a detached home was $920,349. This represents a 0.0 per cent change from June 2021 and a decrease 9.5 per cent compared to May 2022.
    •  
      • The average sale price for a townhouse was $662,305. This represents a 11.9 per cent increase from June 2021 and a decrease of 6.5 per cent compared to May 2022.
    •  
      • The average sale price for an apartment-style condominium was $497,429. This represents an increase of 11.7 per cent from June 2021 and a decrease of 8.9 per cent compared to May 2022.
    •  
      • The average sale price for a semi was $710,284. This represents an increase of 9.5 per cent compared to June 2021 and a decrease of 2.8 per cent compared to May 2022.

 

KWAR cautions that average sale price information can be useful in establishing long-term trends but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) provides the best way to gauge price trends because averages are strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.

 

The MLS® HPI composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Kitchener-Waterloo was $790,600 in June. This represents a 6.8 per cent increase over June 2021 and a 6.8 per cent decrease compared to May 2022.

 

      • The benchmark price for a detached home was $876,600. This represents a 5.3 per cent increase from June 2021 and 7.3 per cent decrease compared to May 2022.
    •  
      • The benchmark price for a townhouse is $676,900. This represents a 15.8 per cent increase from June 2021 and a 7.1 per cent decrease compared to May 2022.
    •  
      • The benchmark price for an apartment-style condominium was $537,100. This represents a 24.2 per cent increase from June 2021 and a 2.4 per cent decrease compared to May 2022.