Wrapping up KW real estate in 2017

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

As 2017 comes to a close, let’s take a look back at what we’ve seen in Waterloo Region real estate for trends and new policies with the top 5 headlines:

1. Single-detached homes lead the real estate market in Waterloo region


2. Home sale prices up 40% year-over-year; average sale now above $500,000


3. Ontario slaps 15% tax on foreign buyers, expands rent control in 16-point plan to cool housing


4. Fewer homes sold in K-W in August but prices continue upwards


5. OSFI sets new mortgage rules, including stress test for uninsured borrowers


It’s been a big year! We’ve seen the market go up, down and around and finally begin to balance out, giving buyers hope that they won’t be squeezed out of owning their first home or making a move-up purchase after they sell. See you in the New Year!


A prime time to buy

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

For many, the holidays have been busy with preparation and family and friends. For others, the hunt for the perfect home has been a priority as those who intended to beat the new mortgage rules set to take effect January 1st. Potentially reducing the buying power of buyers up to 20%, December has been a busy month in real estate and sellers are happy to end the year with a firm sale.

Come 2018, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has projected a potential 10% decrease in average home prices, which could level out the market a bit. In addition, RE/MAX stats are projecting a 6% increase in home prices in Waterloo Region for 2018, bringing the average sale price to $500,000.

Whether you’re thinking abuot buying or selling in Kitchener Waterloo, you can do so with confidence. This area is a robust cultural, economic and social centre that continues to draw people from afar and keep long-time locals close.

2018 will bring new changes and new adventures no doubt and I am looking forward to helping buyers and sellers alike make their goals and dreams come true.


Holiday Renovations

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

When it comes to the holidays, we love to put our best foot forward. So what are some easy updates that we can get done before our friends and family visit during the busy season? Here’s our Top Ten List of easy updates that will help you wrap on the to-do list and unwrap some fancy hors d’oeuvres!

1. Statement lighting – you don’t need an electrician to update your lighting. Just some common sense and a tutorial. YouTube or your local hardware store, or a knowledgeable friend can turn your dining room from ok to stunning.

2. Cupboard door knobs and pull handles – an afternoon of using a screwdriver couldn’t be more rewarding! Bring the style and even make a statement! There are so many options to choose from, you may find the biggest problem is deciding which style you’ll go with.

3. New bathroom mirrors – Go beyond plain builder mirrors and pick up a new one with a great frame, or even with practical storage. The return is immense and will help brighten up a small bathroom and definitely brings style points.

4. Replace door handles – Are your door handles worn, loose or simply ugly? There are many new finishes available including oil-rubbed bronze, brass and brushed nickel. You’ll also find that the lever varieties make it easier for those with mobility issues get around easier.

5. New curtain rods – Curtain rods help set the tone to a room. Do an upgrade and make a statement with a substantial, good quality curtain rod to really showcase a great room or dining room. Your family will feel extra luxurious and they won’t know why.

Happy holidays!

A “Normal” November in Home Sales

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

Well it’s back to normal at least for now! Last month 425 residential properties were sold In K-W and area through the MLS System of KWAR. That is 20.1 percent less than November of 2016 but nearly on the mark of the 5-year November average.

November’s sales units included:

246 detached homes (down 30.9%)

99 condominium units (down 15.4 %)

52 semi-detached homes (up 67.7 %)

27 freehold townhouses (down 3.6 %).

The average price of all residential properties sold last month increased 8 per cent to $445,363 compared to November 2016. Accordingly:

Detached homes sold for an average price of $515,721 (up 8.9%)

Average prices for an apartment style condominium was $277,660 (up 30.7%)

Townhomes sold for an average of $369,678 (up 19.3%)

Semis sold for an average of $376,677 (up 15.1%)

Cindy-lou’s 1-Minute Summary:

The number of residential properties sold continues to drop, yet home prices in every style of home continue to rise by an average of 8%, with the greatest increase in price in apartment style condominiums. Semi-detached homes also saw a nearly 70% increase in popularity. Housing preferences mark increased density in Waterloo Region whether due to price or lifestyle.

Buyers: A true buyer’s market could be on the horizon as choice continues to rise.

Sellers: Fear not, a healthy market and investment in Waterloo Region indicates a likelihood of continued progressive value in your property.


If you’d like an accurate valuation of your home, contact us for a complimentary assessment. The condition of your home, location, and other key factors matter. For more on the official report on November’s K-W Market Update including statistics from Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich Townships, click here.

Think big,

New Year, New Mortgage Rules. I asked the experts what you need to know.

By Cindy-lou Schmidt

New federal mortgage rules aimed to reduce risk in Canada’s hot housing market come into effect January 1, 2018. How will these rules affect you and your new home purchase or refinancing plans?

Recognized by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. as a leading mortgage expert in her market, Tracy Valko and her team have been providing mortgage strategies for their clients since 2009.  I sat down with Sandra and Marina of the Tracy Valko Team at Dominion Lending Centres to get the answers to your questions.


Question #1

Cindy-lou: There has been a lot of talk about mortgage changes that will come into effect January 2018. What are the top factors that will be affecting buyers?

Sandra: The main change to qualifying rules surrounds what we refer to as a ‘stress test’.  Currently, anyone who is using a down payment under 20% of their purchase price has to qualify at a benchmark rate.  This is to ensure that these buyers will be able to handle an increase in mortgage rates – basically to make sure that they won’t be house poor.  Starting in January 2018, ALL buyers will have to qualify at a benchmark rate, which is (as a rule) higher than rates that are posted.  Though they qualify at a higher rate, they will only be paying the rates offered.


Question #2

Cindy-lou: Will all  buyers be affected?

Sandra: Every type of purchase will be affected, since all buyers will now have to qualify at the new benchmark rates.  Even if you are currently a homeowner, when selling and purchasing a new home, you will need to qualify under these new rules for your new purchase.



Question #3

Cindy-lou: I’ve been advised that buying capacity will be reduced by up to 20% based on average mortgage qualifications. Is this true? Do you have an idea of the average consumer’s change in buying power for January 2018 as compared to right now?

Marina: Those putting less than 20% down will see a small decrease in their purchasing power, as they are already qualifying on the benchmark rate, as of October 2016.  The people who are going to see the most impact from these rule changes are those who purchased with less than 20% down prior to October 2016.  When they look to ‘move up’, as they say, they will likely qualify for the same amount as when they originally purchased, as they will now have to qualify with a benchmark rate.  This includes anyone who has a pre-approval in the works right now – if you have been qualified with today’s rules, you will see a decrease in the amount you are approved for by about 20 percent.


Question #4

Cindy-lou: How will seeing a mortgage broker benefit a buyer who is looking to buy in the next 6 months?

Marina: A mortgage broker is a ‘one-stop shop’ for all products; you will benefit from receiving the expert advice you need about all available products and more importantly, the one that is best suited for your personal situation. And, you can do it easily, in one place.  A broker will be able to explore many niche mortgage products that could allow you to access alternative financing solutions to get you into your dream home.



There you have it, folks. The most significant change to the new mortgage rules is the 20% stress test rule. With the new rules, everyone will have to qualify at a benchmark rate. Every type of purchase will be affected whether you are a new homeowner or an existing one. Generally, we will see a decrease in the amount a buyer is approved for by nearly 20%.


Finally, be sure to see  your mortgage broker before you begin or continue your home search in the new year so there are no surprises along the way. A preapproval can go a long way in helping you save money when it comes to negotiation. With an understanding of what you qualify for under the new rules and some planning, you can continue your new home search confidently knowing there is a home in the market that is within your reach. Talk to me and I will help you meet your goals and move you in the right direction!

Think big,