What’s in store for 2017?

As construction of the light rail transit system (LRT) continues, Kitchener-Waterloo is expected to continue to thrive economically. In combination with the continued increase of Go-Train frequency between Kitchener and the GTA, along with the healthy tech sector growth, the region will continue to attract buyers looking to find more value for their money arriving from Toronto and area, as well as commuters, and those employed or looking to become involved in K-W’s technology parks and increased business growth.

The RE/MAX 2017 average residential sale price expectation for Kitchener-Waterloo is an eight per cent increase in home prices, increasing to $413,313 for the average residential sales price, up from $382, 687 in 2016. Spring 2017 should also bring increased inventory levels, along with some new developments coming to market. However, 2017 is expected to stay a seller’s market with an expected 8 per cent increase in home prices.

For sellers, these numbers provide even more incentive to ensure you present your home in the best light, to make the most out of the sale of one of your biggest assets. This includes making repairs, maintaining home systems including HVAC, and water lines, as well as keeping your curb appeal in tip-top shape.

If you’re thinking about selling your home and want to maximize your profits, ask us how! We’ll provide you with a free home evaluation and get you started on understanding the value of your home in our current market.

First-time home buyers making it work

With the new mortgage rules and home prices rising faster than ever in Kitchener-Waterloo and beyond, first-time home buyers are feeling the pinch. With the risk of being priced out of the market, there is the additional challenge of not only carrying a larger mortgage but also coming up with the minimum 5% deposit, or ideally 20% deposit that would exclude the need for CMHC mortgage insurance fees in most cases.

But recent studies show that rising prices won’t stop buyers who are determined to start building equity as soon as they are able. In fact, half of Canadians aged 18 to 34 own homes and rent out a room or basement to help cover housing costs.

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While it may be an inconvenient to share your home, getting closer to being mortgage free, and having the extra income generation may be worth the temporary sacrifice. According to a study based on 2000 participants, 12 per cent of Canadian homeowners currently rent or plan to rent out part of their home, with that amount rising to 20 per cent for 18- to 34-year-old homeowners.

 

Another record-breaking month in November

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November set another all-time high in market sales, with one month still to go in 2016. “Year-to-Date Sales to the end of November have now exceeded any previous end-of-year totals on record,” says James Craig, president of the KWAR.  But greater sales numbers were not due to greater inventory. With a substantial shortage of homes, many properties are selling above list price, as more buyers compete for fewer homes. According to the report:

As of the end of November, the KWAR’ MLS® System only had 565 active residential listings on the market, down 23.1 percent compared to the previous month, and 60.8 percent below the same period last year.
The average price of all residential properties sold in November was $411,602 a 15.5 percent increase over 2015. Detached homes sold for an average price of $473,104, an increase of 13.9 percent compared to November 2015. During this same period, the average sale price for an apartment style condominium was $209,360, a decrease of 8 percent. Townhomes and semis sold for an average of $310,151 (up 14.8 percent) and $330,534 (up 27.7 percent) respectively.
“With a notable shortage of inventory, many properties are selling above list price,” said Craig. “This is because you have many buyers competing for fewer properties, and this is pushing up the average price.”

For more details on November’s K-W Market Update that includes statistics from Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich Townships, click here.

Move-Up and Luxury Home Buyers- Kitchener-Waterloo Real Estate Trends 2016

Kitchener-Waterloo was characterized by strong real estate market throughout 2016 with house prices increasing by an average of 10% over home prices in 2015. A series of broken sales records combined with low inventory has had a rippling effect on everyone.

Move-up buyers in particular have enjoyed the maximization of their equity. Owners who have sold their homes in 2016 are benefiting from the substantial activity at the lower end of the market, which has allowed them to move into larger, new homes, often in the luxury $1 million+ range. While there has been some multiple-offer activity in the luxury home market, competition is remarkably less than that found below $500,000.

Luxury Home

However, there are only a few weeks left in 2016 for buyers of luxury homes to enjoy the original land transfer rates. New mortgage policy has updated or “modernized” land transfer rates to reflect the prices of luxury homes, with purchases of homes over $2 million seeing a .5% rate increase to help accommodate the doubling of the First-Time Home Buyer land transfer rebate announced in November 2016.

“Modernized” Ontario Land Transfer Tax Rates
Home Purchase Price      
       Tax Rate
Up to $55,000                                 0.5%
$55,000 to $250,000                      1.0%
$250,000 to $400,000                    1.5%
$400,000 to $2-million                    2.0%
$2-million and over                         2.5%

 

$100 Million Project Planned for West Galt

With plenty of focus on development in Waterloo and Kitchener for the past few decades, now it’s Cambridge’s turn to step into the technology and expansion lime-light.

The growth of multiple condominium lofts and apartments in Galt will be joined by the Gaslight District by HIP Developments. Planned as a complete community with a cobbled square, it will be centred within Grand Avenue, Fraser Street, Glebe Street and St. Andrews Street, next to the Grand River in West Galt.

The expansive project will span 2 years, with the projected result being a European look and feel housing 400 residential units, a tech hub based around Conestoga College’s tech programs such as advanced manufacturing and cyber-security, as well as restaurants, and retail.

100m

This 100 million dollar investment will include selective demolition of portions of the Southworks Factory Outlet which currently is home to nearly 50 shops.

HIP’s other projects in the region have included 181 King in Waterloo, Trio on Belmont in Kitchener and the River Bank Lofts in Hespeler.

Video: http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=997676&binId=1.1147261&playlistPageNum=1

 

First-time Home Buyers to get Double the Land Transfer Tax Rebate

Yesterday afternoon Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced an increase to the land transfer tax (LTT) rebate for first-time buyers. The rebate is being doubled from $2,000 to $4,000. The announcement came as part of Ontario’s Fall Economic Statement and is specifically aimed to help first-time buyers enter the housing market. Buyers can start claiming the rebate effective January 1, 2017.

couple-first

Although home prices continue to rise, every little bit helps to allow buyers a chance to get into the market and begin to build equity and wealth. With the new change, first-time home buyers who are permanent residents will not pay land transfer tax on the first $368,000. In many cases in Kitchener-Waterloo and area, the rebate will translate to these buyers not paying land transfer tax on the purchase of their first home at all.

 

What Can You Expect From Your REALTOR®?

You probably know that a REALTOR® does more than just post a for sale sign on your front lawn, or guide potential buyers through your home. But how much more? What exactly will a real estate professional do for you?

expect

Taking the time upfront to understand what to expect from your agent will help to reduce misunderstandings, and make the selling process less mysterious and stressful. You’ll be able to anticipate what’s going to happen next, be prepared to ask the right questions along the way, and be aware of whether your Realtor is meeting expectations.

Typically, you should expect a good real estate agent to:

  • Explain the Listing Agreement to you. (This is your contract with the real estate firm.)
  • Describe the home selling process, and answer all your questions and concerns.
  • Prepare a realistic appraisal based on the expected market value of your home by comparing it to similar property sales in your area.
  • Provide you with advice on how to make your home more appealing to potential buyers, especially during showings and open houses.
  • Create a comprehensive marketing plan to promote your home.
  • Screen enquiries, schedule appointments, and show your home to potential buyers.
  • Field offers from potential buyers, deal with counter-offers, and negotiate the best terms and selling price possible for your home.
  • Help you throughout the entire selling process to make it as easy and stress-free as possible.

These services should be the minimum you expect from a good agent. The best agents will do more. They will be there for you in the weeks, months, and even years after the sale to make sure everything continues to go smoothly in your new home.

 

New Mortgage Rules and You

Since 2008, we’ve seen the progression of changes implemented by the government to tighten eligibility rules for new insurable loans. By October 17th 2016, we’ll be looking at another wave of changes, most notably with the application of a “stress test”. Home buyers are now required to qualify for both their negotiated mortgage rate as well as the Bank of Canada’s five year rate. The result? Purchasing power will be affected and many home buyers will be adjusting their expectations and plans.

If you’re a first-time home buyer and you’re not sure that you can meet the new mortgage criteria, you should make it a priority to speak to your financial advisor or mortgage broker to advise you on your options.

Even if you you’re confident in your buying power because you already intended to buy well below your agreed pre-approval rate, you can benefit through the clarity of discussing these changes. If you’re a home buyer in this group, you may also see less competition, as the parties that have been working at the top end of the budget take a step back to regroup.

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Some new rules also apply to sellers: If you’re selling your principle residence, you will now need to report this change on your income taxes to the CRA, but your home will still be exempt from being taxed on this profit in most cases. This is a great topic to discuss with your accountant or income tax preparer.

As Sellers, you will find that our local market in Waterloo Region is healthy and attractive to home buyers, particularly those who are financially stable, and understand the advantages of reducing their debt ceiling. Further, our buyer base is growing geographically as we continue to attract out-of-towners who find the Region to be a great place to live.

Overall, while the new regulations will restrict purchasing power from what which we have previously been exposed, it’s important to understand that regardless of these changes, it’s always wise to reduce other consumer debt, save more for a larger down payment, or lower your budget for your new home, which increases your financial stability, and risk reduction.

After all, home ownership should be a smart, informed, and a financially comfortable decision that allows you to invest in your life.

If you’re looking for more guidance on buying or selling a home in Waterloo Region, reach out and we can help you get familiar with the process, whether it’s the first time or the fourth time. Contact Us.