Real Estate News from Thom Gallagher May 2014   

Spring is traditionally a busy time for home sales!  This month’s article discusses how we can use spring’s natural beauty to enhance a home’s potential.

A few of the latest email scams are also revealed so you won’t be caught off guard as well as a few tips on how to tune-up your bike for spring.

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 Pick Up In April 
According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity was up on a month-over-month basis in April 2014.

The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 2.7 per cent from March to April 2014.

This continues to build on gains recorded in each of the two previous months, marking the third and largest month-over-month increase since last August.

The increase places activity about halfway between the most recent peak reached in August 2013 and the slowdown in the second half of 2012 that followed changes to mortgage rules and guidelines.  Sales rose in half of all local housing markets in April, dominated by a rebound in activity in Greater Vancouver and an increase in Greater Toronto.

“Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto fuelled the anticipated spring pick up in national home sales in April which masked softer activity in a number of smaller markets,” said CREA President Beth Crosbie.  “Housing trends can be very different between local markets and even within them depending on the neighborhood and type of home.  Your local REALTOR® is your best source of information about how the housing market is shaping up where you currently live or might like to in the future.”

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in April stood just three-tenths of one per cent below levels recorded for the same month last year, and one per cent below the 10-year average for the month.  April sales were up from year-ago levels in less than 40 per cent of all local markets, with gains in Greater Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton offsetting softer activity in Ottawa, Montreal and other rural and suburban areas in Quebec.

The decline in sales activity below the 10-year average was broadly based.  “Sales activity for the month of April and for the year to date came in below the 10-year average in more than 60 per cent of all housing markets,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist.  “This shows that tightened mortgage rules and guidelines are working as intended to keep activity in check despite mortgage interest rates remaining extraordinarily low.”

The trend for new listings has mirrored the trend for sales over the past three months, with the number of newly listed homes rising 2.9 per cent in April on the heels of smaller gains in February and March.  New listings were only up in about 60 per cent of local markets; however, as was the case with sales activity, outsized gains in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto boosted the increase nationally.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 51.9 per cent in April, virtually unchanged from 52.0 per cent in March and little changed from 52.3 per cent in January and February.  Since early 2010, the ratio has remained firmly entrenched within the 40 to 60 per cent range that marks balanced market territory.  Some 60 per cent of all local markets posted a sales-to-new listings ratio in this range in April.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the 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.

The number of months of inventory has been edging marginally lower since the beginning of 2014.  There were 6.3 months of inventory nationally at the end of April 2014 compared with 6.4 months at the end of February and March and 6.5 months at the end of January.  As with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the number of months of inventory continues to point to a well balanced housing market nationally, with the measure holding close to its long-term average in the vast majority of markets.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in April 2014 was $409,708, an increase of 7.6 per cent from the same month last year.  The national average price continues to be skewed upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto which are among some of Canada’s most expensive housing markets.  Excluding these two markets from the national average price calculation, the year-over-year increase diminishes to 4.8 per cent.

The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is.  The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI rose 5.02 per cent on a year-over-year basis in April, which is slightly less than the 5.19 per cent gain recorded in March.  This marks the first deceleration in year-over-year price growth since April 2013.

Year-over-year price growth picked up for townhouse/row units, but slowed for one- and two-storey single family homes and apartment units.  Year-over-year price gains were led by two-storey single family homes (+5.84 per cent) and one-storey single family homes (+5.35 per cent). This was closely followed by price increases for townhouse/row units (+4.52 per cent).  The price increase for apartment units was comparatively more modest (+3.35 per cent).

Year-over-year price growth in the MLS® HPI varied among local housing markets tracked by the index, with the biggest gains having been posted by Calgary (+9.52 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.01 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+3.64 per cent).

A Few Tips that Spring to Mind 
The birds are chirping and gardens are blooming!

Home sales surge during spring as the nice weather encourages people to fix up their homes and check out what else is on the market.  Here are a few ways to take advantage of spring fever:

  1. Flower Power - Place a few vases of fresh cut flowers throughout your home.

  2. Spring Fling - Freshen up your home with a thorough spring clean and de-clutter.

  3. Curb Appeal - Prune and trim shrubs and trees, rake the grass and add flowerpots around the front door.

  4. Outdoor Living - Families are entertaining and relaxing more at home so extend your inside space outdoors with comfortable seating and great lighting.

  5. Wide Open - Clean and open your windows so the sun shines in and fresh spring air flows throughout your home.

  6. Refresh Your Nest - Inject vitality to your space by swapping out couch cushions and throws for shades and fabrics that reflect spring.

If you plan on putting your home on the market this spring, use the season to highlight its best features so it stands out from the competition.  You only have one chance to make a great first impression so take advantage by clearing out the cobwebs and making your home spring fresh!

Don't Get Hooked on the Latest Email Scams 
Cyber scammers are always looking for ways to trick you.

If you stay one step ahead of the latest email frauds, you’ll be less likely to be taken in by them.  Here are a few current scams that are circulating:

  1. Heartbleed Heartache - Scammers are capitalizing on the recent “Heartbleed” bug by directing users to fake websites where they’re instructed to change their passwords.

  2. Fifa Fever - Emails that purport to come from Fifa regarding the upcoming World Cup say you’ve won tickets and need to hand over personal information to claim them.

  3. Fake Funerals - Fraudsters notify recipients about a funeral for a “friend” but when the link is clicked, a virus or spyware is uploaded and installed.

  4. Tax Time Trouble - Emails which appear to come from a government office request your personal details so that your tax return can be completed.

Always be suspicious of emails that claim you’ve won something or need you to verify personal information and passwords.  Fraudulent emails are often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors but sometimes they appear very credible so if in doubt, just hit the delete button!

Tune Your Bike Up for Spring 
It’s time to dust off your bike and haul it out of storage!

Whether you’re biking to work or hitting the trails, you’ll want to make sure your bike’s safe and reliable.  Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  1. Gears - Make sure your gears shift smoothly.

  2. Chain - Inspect, clean and dry the chain before applying oil.

  3. Tires - Check the tire pressure and make sure the wheels are secure.

  4. Brakes - Adjust brake cables and check brake pads for excessive wear.

If you don’t feel comfortable tuning up your bike, take it to a local bike shop.  It’s well worth it as regular maintenance will extend the life of your bike and will ensure you’re always ready to ride!

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.