Apr 06, 2018 / INFOCUS
As CREW has discovered this week, thousands of Canadians are heading down to Florida each year in search of properties to either rent or buy. Data show that over 500,000 Canadians own homes in Florida – that’s approximately 1 in every 72 people - and Canadians accounted for 37.0% of all foreign purchased real estate in Florida. In fact, Canadians purchased $7.03BN of real estate in Florida between April 2016 and March 2017, which represents an increase of 227% against $3.09BN invested in 2015-2016.
In order to improve the property purchasing process for Canadians, Global Real Estate Services launched the Orlando Agency, a specialist company to help out-of-state and foreign nationals in the buying and selling of investment properties for short-term or long-term rental.
“We were created to help the property investors navigating a foreign purchase,” says Garry Walmsley, Senior Global Real Estate Advisor at The Orlando Agency, “We think that Canadians buying in Florida need a full-service option and that they will be much more comfortable working with a company like us who understands the local market and all of its nuances.”
Operating solely in Central Florida, The Orlando Agency as an independent brokerage is able to provide an unbiased overview of the market, combined with a white-glove service and representation, all while enhancing existing strong relationships with the areas local developers and management companies.
The company has also invested a lot of time in understanding Canadians and how they like to do business. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have bought properties in Florida and for Walmsley it’s important to understand the nuances of Canadian culture.
“We are engaged in Canadian culture, understand how Canadian investors think and also have Canadian nationals within our Orlando based team,” Walmsley says. “We are transparent in how we do business and we attempt to fully educate everyone who is contemplating a purchase.”
Creating long-term relationships is at the core of how Walmsley runs his business. He’s not interested in doing one or two deals with an investor, he wants that partnership to run and run. “That means we have a customer-centric approach, everything is not about us,” he says. “We want people to fully understand what they’re getting into before they finalize a deal.”
TORONTO - When Vanessa Witkowski and her husband were tasked with selling his grandmother's home, they both knew they didn't want to do it the traditional way.
What they wanted was to have a more transparent process and to avoid wasting time “playing games” with potential buyers.
So, they decided to put the house up for auction.
“We really didn't like the traditional process. My husband and I would rather see the home sell to someone that truly loves it and values it, and not just have someone lose out on the bid because of any undisclosed information,” said 47-year-old Witkowski.
“It just seemed very stressful, and in certain situations, unfair.”
The east Toronto home will be posted next month with a reserve price of $675,000 through On The Block, a Toronto-based brokerage that specializes in online real estate auctions.
Currently, in the majority of real estate transactions, interested buyers are asked to submit a bid through a blind offer process not knowing if there are other bids, or what those bids contain.
Through this method in a hot housing market, buyers often can blindly offer more than what they initially planned on spending in hopes of beating their competitor, and sellers often come out on top.
Although Witkowski wants the home to be sold for a fair price, she wanted to ensure all those interested can make serious, informed offers, so she chose to have the house sold in an open, online auction.
In Ontario, realtors are permitted to share the price of a competing offer with another buyer, but only if all parties involved agree to the auction process. Although allowed, the practice is rare, especially in a market where demand still outstrips supply.
The Ontario Real Estate Association, the industry group which represents more than 70,000 realtors, is taking it one step further.
Earlier this month, it asked the province to revamp the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act to allow agents to not only be able to disclose offer price, but additional details such as closing dates and any other conditions to potential bidders if multiple offers are on the table.
Although it won't be mandated, this option would be available if both the buyers and seller involved agree.
OREA chief executive Tim Hudak says there is growing demand for more transparent transactions, something that is already offered in some U.S. states and in Australia, where open auction wars can often erupt in the front yards of properties.
“We believe that people should be offered a choice,” he said. “There are some consumers who want everything on the table, to be open and transparent and there are some homeowners who believe they will get the most money or the best deal through this method.”
Hudak says that, like in Australia, a more open process in a multiple-bid situation may result in “a bit of auction fever” and could drive up housing prices.
Murtaza Haider, an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, said the real estate industry is long overdue for another option from the current “ignorance-based bidding” process.
“This will be a very important step to prevent price escalation and inflation at times when prices are out of step with incomes or increase beyond what one would expect them to rise given the level of demand,” said Haider, whose research includes housing markets.
He said a more open offer process can lead to more informed buyers, but can also benefit sellers in a softer market by bringing in more househunters who shy away from bidding wars.
The Witkowski's realtor, Daniel Steinfeld, CEO of On The Block, said his company has sold about half a dozen properties in the Greater Toronto Area through the open auction process since launching last year. He likened the process to the website, eBay, but for real estate.
He said most of his clients choose the auction route because they've been burned in the past as buyers shun the blind bidding process.
“Up until this point, and frankly still, most people feel that there's only one way to do it,” said Steinfeld. “That has led to some uncertainty and frustrations people have been having (about the real estate market).”
Toronto Real Estate Board president Garry Bhaura said the proposal raises some issues over privacy, but that ultimately, having more choice is beneficial to the consumer.
“Some would welcome this option, and others would opt for the status quo,” he said in an email. “Ultimately, the choice will be, and should be, the consumer's.”
The province said it is still reviewing the recommendations put forward by OREA.
No provinces currently allow for details other than price to be revealed between buyers during the bidding process, but a spokeswoman for the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards says it is also looking at these rules and should have a recommendation within the next few weeks.
By Linda Fennessy / 06 Sep 2018
If you’re seeking to sell your home in the near future, updating your kitchen can increase the value of your home and attract buyers. But it can seem nearly impossible to design a kitchen for someone whom you’ve never even met.
It can be difficult to know what kitchen style will appeal to the largest number of potential buyers, We have 5 design tips for you to use when remodeling your kitchen for resale.
1. Keep it simple
When designing a kitchen for someone else’s taste, keeping the overall scheme simple is the way to go. Don’t stress your budget with additional, over-the-top accessories or storage solutions. Expensive crown molding or drawer knobs can be easily customized once the home is purchased and are usually not a major selling point. The same advice goes for cabinet door styles and drawer sizes. Stick with Vintage and Plain style cabinets and standard size drawers. A simple design will not only appeal to the masses, but also leave decorating accents to the homeowner’s imagination.
2. Use a neutral palate
There’s good reason neutral beiges, browns and whites are the most popular kitchen colors—they truly stand the test of time. Antique White Cabinets with a Walnut Glaze pair well with just about any countertop color and can give even the smallest kitchens an open, inviting look. Classic colors are always a better choice over the more trendy design options, because they will appeal to buyers of all ages.
3. Think about function
While they might be attracted to your kitchen, it’s the kitchen’s function that can really sell your home. Style can be changed or updated over time, but the buyer wants to make sure that this is a space she can see herself spending time in for a long time. If you have the space, add an island or breakfast nook, and speak to your craftsman about work triangles to help make your kitchen more functional.
4. Consider Laminate or Solid Surface Countertops
Depending upon the material, countertops can be the largest expense in your kitchen update. Laminate and Solid surface countertops are much more affordable option to stone countertops and come in hundreds of colors that imitate the unique designs in stone countertops.
5. Reface with Maintenance Free Cabinets
“Because cabinets take up 80% of the visible space in your kitchen, updating your cabinets can make a huge difference”, says Jill Moskowitz, Kitchen Design Consultant at Kitchen Magic. But installing all-new custom wooden cabinetry can be a time consuming and expensive project.
Additionally, a maintenance-free cabinet door material is just as beautiful as wood, more durable and less expensive than traditional wood cabinet doors. Refacing your existing cabinets will make a dramatic transformation, and get your kitchen ready for resale in days, rather than weeks.”
By Ephraim Vecina / 05 Dec 2018
Would-be investors who remain wary of the Canadian real estate market’s price growth should take a measure of comfort in the results of a new study conducted by Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).
The research found that the market’s fundamentals have robustness as their main feature, precluding any U.S.-style meltdown in the near future.
“Beyond prices and debt levels, Canada shares far fewer similarities with the U.S. than you might think. This becomes very apparent when you look at just one measure: credit quality,” CPA Canada chief economist Francis Fong stated.
Fong emphasized that seeing the U.S. crisis as a reference point for the possibility of a Canadian collapse would be futile due to the pre-eminence of different factors in the two markets.
The sheer volume of subprime mortgages issued to borrowers with low credit quality, who cannot afford to repay debt, is frequently cited as one of the leading causes of the U.S. breakdown.
In comparison, Canada’s share of high-credit-quality clients increased from 66% in 2002 to 88% in 2017, according to the CMHC. During the same time frame, the proportion of low-credit-quality borrowers fell from 17% to just 3%.
“The situation in Canada is likely not a bubble in imminent danger of deflation; in fact, housing prices may reflect the true value of living space in Canada and in some markets increased household debt may be the new price for real estate,” Fong explained.
“Our cities frequently are listed among the best places to live and work in the world and, compared to their peer cities abroad, they are not among the most expensive. We may simply be dealing with the law of supply and demand, so affordability could continue to be a challenge for the foreseeable future,” he added.