Real Estate News from Thom Gallagher May 2013   

Preparing your home for showings can be a lot of work, especially if you have kids running around.  This month's article discusses strategies to help you prepare your home for show with kids in tow.

We also share a few valuable debt management strategies as well as some tips on how to seasonally transform your home with a fresh spring theme.

Thanks so much for checking out this month's newsletter.  Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles, or real estate in general -- it'd be great to hear from you!


In this issue...
Canadian Home Sales Rise in April 
According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales edged up slightly on a month-over-month basis in April 2013.  Activity has generally held to within short reach of current levels for the past nine months.

The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of real estate Boards and Associations and other cooperative listing systems in Canada edged 0.6 per cent higher on a month-over-month basis in April 2013.  Home sales improved in more than half of all local markets from March to April, led by gains in Greater Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Victoria.

“National sales activity is stable and the market remains balanced,” said CREA President Laura Leyser.  “That said, trends for sales and listings and for the balance between the two can be and often are very different between and within local housing markets, and between property types and neighbourhoods.  These trends are important factors in determining pricing.  Your local REALTOR® is your best resource for understanding how the housing market is shaping up where you live or might like to.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity came in 3.1 per cent below levels reported in April 2012, with transactions down on a year-over-year basis in about 60 per cent of local markets.  That compares to a decline of more than 15 per cent in March, with transactions down in more than 90 per cent of all local markets.

“The Easter holiday and an extra full weekend at the end of the month lowered March sales activity and the absence of these factors in April helped sales for the month,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist.  “Since changes to mortgage rules made in 2012 took effect, national sales have been running nine to 10 per cent below levels posted in the first half of 2012 but they’ve been remarkably steady.  April activity was on par with where it stood last August, and month-to-month changes since then have held to within a range of plus or minus two per cent.”  Monthly changes in national sales activity have held to within this narrow range over a nine month period only once before since CREA’s seasonally adjusted data began in 1988.

The number of newly listed homes fell 0.9 per cent month-over-month in April. New listings were down in about half of all local markets, led by Montreal and much of rural Quebec, as well as Ottawa and Greater Vancouver.  With sales edging up and new listings edging down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio inched up to 50.4 per cent in April compared to 49.7 per cent in March. This measure has held fairly steady around this level for the past nine months.  Based on a sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40 to 60 per cent, two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced market territory in April.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.  Nationally, there were 6.6 months of inventory at the end of April 2013.  This was unchanged from the end of March and has also held fairly steady around this level for the past nine months.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in April 2013 was $380,588, representing an increase of 1.3 per cent from the same month last year.  Fewer sales compared to a year-ago levels in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto continue to exert a gravitational pull on the national average sale price.

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) is not affected by changes in the mix of sales the way that average price is.  For that reason, it provides the best gauge of Canadian home price trends.  The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose 2.2 per cent on a year-over-year basis in April.  This marks the eleventh consecutive month in which the year-over-year gain diminished and the slowest growth rate in more than two years.

Year-over-year price gains decelerated for all Benchmark property types tracked by the index with the exception of apartment units in April, with the latter rising by less than inflation.  Price growth remained strongest for one-storey single family homes (+3.1 per cent), followed by two-storey single family homes (+2.6 per cent), townhouse/row units (+1.7 per cent), and apartment units (+1.0 per cent).  Year-over-year price growth in the aggregate MLS® HPI for all Benchmark property types combined was mixed across the markets tracked by the index.

Preparing a Home for Show with Kids in Tow 
Getting your home ready for showings can be a real challenge but it's even harder when you share your home with little ones.

The trick to selling a house with kids is to make it appeal to buyers who don't have any children.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare your home for show with kids in tow:

  1. Depersonalize - It's important that buyers are able to imagine themselves living in your home so clear the artwork off the fridge and take down photos, awards and mementoes.

  2. Play Time's Over - Keep just one box of toys on hand and pack up the rest as they not only look unappealing but they also make rooms appear smaller.

  3. Go Clean Your Room! - Pack up stuffed animals, books and trophies.  Any remaining items should be placed on shelves instead of the floor.

  4. Behind Closed Doors - Buyers can never get enough closet space so get rid of any clothes that your kids have outgrown or that are out-of-season.

  5. It's Time to Grow Up - Buyers should be able to visualize your playroom as their rec room so get rid of excess toys so that it will appear larger enough for their pool table.

  6. Curb Appeal - Don't leave toys, sidewalk chalk or bikes strewn outside your home as drive by viewings can occur at any time.

Selling your home is a great opportunity to de-clutter plus if you do it now, you won't have to worry about it when it comes time to move.  Showings can happen in an instant so make sure you have a system in place that enables you to have everything ready to go in a matter of minutes.  Although keeping everything perfectly staged with kids can be a challenge, it'll be well worth the effort in the end!

Paying Off Debt Pays Off 
Almost everyone feels the credit crunch at some point in their life but with a little planning, it can almost always be overcome.

Debt management isn't a very popular family topic but talking about it with your kids and loved ones can pro-actively help them avoid a lifetime of financial woes.  Here are a few of the basics:

  1. Open Book - Examine all debt at once so the focus can be directed towards paying off high interest, non-deductible debt first.

  2. Budget Crunch - List all income and fixed expenses such as house and car payments.  Next, list variable expenses to see what can be cut back on.

  3. Consolidate - Monthly payments can likely be lowered by consolidating debt through a home equity loan as the interest rate will be much lower.

  4. Reach Out - Creditors will often reduce monthly payments if a debt repayment plan is entered into with a reputable organization.

Managing debt may seem like a daunting task but it can help avoid a financial crisis that could devastate a person's credit rating and ability to borrow money at attractive rates.  Deciding which options work best depends on the individual's level of debt, level of discipline and their future prospects.

Spring Your Home Decor Into Action 
Spring is a time of renewal so why not bring the season's vitality into your home by making some simple decorating changes.  Here are a few ideas that'll help you create a fresh spring feel:

  • Change your window coverings to light sheers or blinds.

  • Bring nature inside with indoor plants, flowering bulbs and fresh cut flowers.

  • Switch your cushion covers to lighter spring shades such as yellows and purples.

Celebrate spring's arrival by bringing a breath of fresh air into your home.  Just a few simple changes can reflect the season’s sunny, fresh energy!

PS Let me help you, or someone you know, achieve your residential or investment real estate goals. You bring the vision and I help you get it done. Call me today at (416)524-6530 to discuss your plans or visit my web site to start your search. I look forward to wowing you with top notch service. 

Not meant to solicit clients already under contract.