COVID-19 Update: Is Now a Good Time to Buy or Sell Real Estate?

Traditionally, spring is one of the busiest times of the year for real estate. But the coronavirus outbreak—and subsequent stay-at-home orders—led many buyers and sellers to put their moving plans on hold. In April, sales volume fell to its lowest level since 1984, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.1

However, while sales have fallen, prices have remained stable. In Canada The average home price in April was down just 1.3% from the same month last year.1 And in many metropolitan areas, prices have continued to rise. In Halifax-Dartmouth region closing slaes prices were actually up 1.1% from 2019, a promising sign for the rest of the spring/summer market! The Teranet–National Bank Composite House Price Index, which measures 11 major Canadian markets, showed home prices in April were up 5.3% from a year                                           

But given safety concerns and the current economic climate, is it prudent to jump back into the real estate market?

Before you decide, it’s important to consider where the housing market is headed, how the real estate process has changed, and your own individual needs and circumstances.

WHAT’S AHEAD FOR THE HOUSING MARKET?

In response to the economic slowdown, the Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates.3 That’s good news for homebuyers who have struggled to afford a mortgage in the past. Lower mortgage rates can bring down monthly payments or increase a buyer’s purchasing power while making it easier to qualify for a loan.

And at a recent press conference, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz told reporters that interest rates would likely remain low for the foreseeable future. He also noted that the country is on track to meet the central bank’s “best-case scenario for recovery” as outlined in April, and he didn’t predict damage to the economy would be as “dire” as some have speculated.4

While many buyers are eager to take advantage of low mortgage rates, some wonder if recessionary pressures could drive down home prices, too. Economists at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predict that prices will decrease over the next 12 months.5 However, many real estate industry veterans expect supply and demand fundamentals to prevent a drastic drop in home values.6

There’s been a shortage of affordable homes on the market for years, and that inventory shortage has helped to prop up prices—even as sales have slowed. That’s because supply and demand have fallen at around the same pace.7 Of course, some market segments have fared better than others. For example, demand has softened for urban condos in some areas, which has caused prices to drop. Whereas, the supply of single-family homes in many neighbourhoods has dried up, leaving eager buyers to compete for listings.7

There are certainly opportunities out in the marketplace for both buyers and sellers. But now more than ever, it’s crucial to have a professional real estate agent who understands your local market dynamics and can help you assess the best time to buy or list your home.

HOW HAS THE REAL ESTATE PROCESS CHANGED?

The safety of our clients and our team members is our top priority. That’s why we’ve developed a process for buyers and sellers that utilizes technology to minimize personal contact.

For our listings, we’re holding online open houses, offering virtual viewings, and conducting walk-through video tours. We’re also using video chat to qualify interested buyers before we book in-person showings. This enables us to promote your property to a broad audience while limiting physical foot traffic to only serious buyers.

Likewise, our buyer clients can view properties online and take virtual video tours to minimize the number of homes they step inside. Ready to visit a property in person? We can decrease surface contact by asking the seller to turn on all the lights and open doors and cabinets before your scheduled showing.

The majority of our “paperwork” is also digital. In fact, many of the legal and financial documents involved in buying and selling a home went online years ago. You can safely view and eSign contracts from your smartphone or computer.

While these new ways of conducting business may seem strange at first, keep in mind, many military clients, international buyers, and others have utilized virtual methods to buy and sell homes for years.

IS IT THE RIGHT TIME FOR ME TO MAKE A MOVE?

The reality is, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to whether it’s a good time to buy or sell a home because everyone’s circumstances are unique. But now that you know the state of the market and what you can expect as you shop for real estate, consider the following questions:

 

Why do you want or need to move?

It’s important to consider why you want to move and if your needs may shift over the next year. For example, if you need a larger home for your growing family, your space constraints aren’t likely to go away. In fact, they could be amplified as you spend more time at home.

However, if you’re planning a move to be closer to your office, consider whether your commute could change. Some companies are rethinking their office dynamics and may encourage their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.

 

How urgently do you need to complete your move?

If you have a new baby on the way or want to be settled before schools open in the fall, we recommend that you begin aggressively searching as soon as possible. With fewer homes on the market, it’s taking longer than usual for clients to find and purchase a home.

However, if your timeline is flexible, you may be well-positioned to score a deal. We’re seeing more highly-incentivized sellers who are willing to negotiate on terms and price. Talk to us about setting up a search so we can keep an eye out for any bargains that pop up. And get pre-qualified for a mortgage now so you’ll be ready to act quickly.

If you’re eager to sell this year, now is the time to begin prepping your home for the market. Prices could fluctuate, and experts predict a second wave of infections may necessitate another lockdown.8 If you wait, you might miss your window of opportunity.

 

How has your particular market segment been impacted?

Certain segments will weather this economic downturn better than others. It’s important to understand the market dynamics of your particular area, price point, and housing type. The truth is, broad macroeconomic projections rarely paint an accurate picture of the day-to-day market realities of a given neighbourhood.

 

How long do you plan to stay in your new home?

During times of market uncertainty, your best bet is to buy a home you can envision yourself keeping for several years. Fortunately, with decreased competition and ultra-low mortgage rates, you’ll be well-positioned to score a great deal.

 

Is your income stable?

If there’s a good chance you could lose your job, you may be better off waiting to buy a home. The exception would be if you’re planning to downsize. Moving to a less expensive home could allow you to tap into your home equity or cut down on your monthly expenses.

WHEN YOU’RE READY TO MOVE—WE’RE READY TO HELP

While uncertain market conditions may give pause to some buyers and sellers, they can actually present an opportunity for those who are willing, able, and motivated to make a move.

Your average spring season would be flooded with real estate activity. But right now, only motivated players are out in the market. That means that if you’re looking to buy, you’re in a better position to negotiate a great price. And today’s low mortgage rates could give a big boost to your purchasing power. In fact, if you’ve been priced out of the market before, this may be the perfect time to look.

If you’re ready to sell, you’ll have fewer listings to compete against in your neighbourhood and price range. But you’ll want to act quickly—a second wave of coronavirus cases could be coming later this year. Ask yourself how you will feel if you have to face another lockdown in your current home.

Let’s schedule a free virtual consultation to discuss your individual needs and circumstances. We can help you assess your options and create a plan that makes you feel both comfortable and confident during these unprecedented times.

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

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Virtual Home Selling Program

Virtual Home Selling Program

The Halifax Market is on fire. With Mortgage rates falling homes are moving fast and for more money! Using our innovative virtual  program we will be able to get the most out of your biggest investment while practicing social distancing and flattening the curve.

Virtual Consultation

Our team will schedule a facetime or zoom meeting where we can give our listing presentation and go over a comparative market analysis of your home.

Virtual Tours

Our professional photographer  will create a HD virtual tour that will be  showcased to potential buyers

Inspections

Our team will arrange to have an inspection done upfront. Allowing buyers to write offers without physically seeing
the home.

E-signatures

You will be able to sign all  documents digitally right from the comfort of  your home.

Closing Time

A lawyer trained in virtual closings and  remote signing will oversee the closing of the home.

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Virtual Home Buying Program

Virtual Home Buying Program

With falling interest rates and down payment assistance programs this is the perfect time to purchase your first home.With our virtual buyers program we will do all the heavy lifting and find the perfect home for your family while social distancing.

Virtual Consultation

Our team will schedule a facetime or zoom  meeting where we will discuss what you are looking for in a home and
our team will come up with options that best fit your needs.

Home Wants & Needs

You will be updated of listings that fit your buying criteria the moment they hit the market

Virtual Tours

Working with the selling agent
we will send virtual tours of the home or tour the house through video call ourselves so you can see for yourself if the home is the right fit; all from your computer,tablet or phone!

Inspections

Inspectors will send inspections via email and we will meet through video chat to go over the findings of the report and
answer any questions you may have!

Deposits

You will be able to wire your deposit to the listing company trust account remotely.

E-signatures

You will be able to sign all  documents digitally right from the comfort of  your home.

Closing Time

A lawyer trained in virtual closings and  remote signing will oversee the closing of the home.

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Schedule a Free Consultation

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Stop Paying Rent!

How to Stop Paying Rent and Own Your Own Home

 

Don’t pay another cent in rent to your landlord! 

 

It’s a dream we all have – to own our own home and stop paying rent.  But if you’re like most renters, you feel trapped within the walls of a house or apartment that doesn’t feel like yours.  How could it when you’re not even permitted to bang in a nail or two without a hassle?  You feel like you’re stuck in the renter’s rut with no way of rising up out of it and owning your own home

Well, don’t feel trapped anymore!  It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been renting, or how insurmountable your financial situation may seem.  The truth is, there are some little known facts that can help you get over the hump, and transfer your status from renter to homeowner.  With this information, you will begin to see how you really can:

– save for a down payment

– stop lining your landlord’s pockets, and
– stop wasting thousands of dollars on rent.

 

6 Little Known Facts That Can Help You Buy Your First Home

 

The problem that most renters face isn’t your ability to meet a monthly payment. Goodness knows you must meet this monthly obligation every 30 days already. The problem is accumulating enough capital to make a down payment on something more permanent.

But saving for this lump sum doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think.  Consider the following 6 important points:

You can buy a home with much less down than you think.

There are some local or federal government programs (such as 1st time buyer programs) to help people get into the housing market.  You can qualify as a first time buyer even if your spouse has  owned a home before as long as your name was not registered.  Ensure your real estate agent is informed and knowledgeable in this important area and can offer programs to help you with your options.

You may be able to get your lender to help you with your down payment and closing costs.

Even if you do not have enough cash for a down-payment, if you are debt-free, and own an asset free and clear (such as a car, for example), your lending institution may be able to lend you the down-payment for your home by securing it against this asset.

 

You may be able to find a seller to help you buy and finance your home.

Some sellers may be willing to hold a second mortgage for you as a “seller take-back.”  In this case, the seller becomes your lending institution.  Instead of paying this seller a lump-sum full amount for his or her home, you would pay monthly mortgage installments.

 

You may be able to create a cash down payment without actually going into debt.

By borrowing money for certain investments to a specified level, you may be able to generate a significant tax refund for yourself that you can use as a down-payment.  While the money borrowed for these investments is technically a loan, the monthly amount paid can be small, and the money invested in both home and investment will be yours in the end.

You can buy a home even if you have problems with your credit rating.

If you can come up with more than the minimum down-payment, or can secure the loan with other equity, many lending institutions will consider you for a mortgage.  Alternatively, a seller take-back mortgage could also help you in this situation.

 

You can, and should, get preapproved for a home loan before you go looking for a home.

Preapproval is easy, and can give you complete peace-of-mind when shopping for your home. Mortgage experts can obtain written preapproval for you at no cost and no obligation, and it can all be done quite easily over-the-phone.  More than just a verbal approval from your lending institution, a written preapproval is as good as money in the bank.  It entails a completed credit application, and a certificate which guarantees you a mortgage to the specified level when you find the home you’re looking for.

 

 

Consider dealing only with a professional who specializes in mortgages.  Enlisting their services can make the difference between obtaining a mortgage, and being stuck in the renter’s rut forever. Typically there is no cost or obligation to enquire.

To sum up, there are many important issues you should be aware of that affect you as a renter.  Why on earth would you continue to lose thousands by throwing it away on rent when with your agent you could take a few minutes to discuss your specific needs so that you can stop renting and start owning?

This conversation costs you nothing. And, of course, you shouldn’t have to feel obligated to buy a home at the time you review this.  But by taking the time to explore your options, and learn about the ways you can afford to buy a home, think how prepared and relaxed you’ll be when you are ready to make this important step.

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9 Buyer Traps & How to Avoid Them

9 Buyer Traps & How to Avoid Them

No matter which way you look at it, buying a home is a major investment.  But for many home buyers, it can be an even more expensive process than it needs to be because many fall prey to at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes which trap them into either:

* paying too much for the home they want, or
* losing their dream home to another buyer or,
* (worse) buying the wrong home for their needs.

A systemized approach to the home buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the home that’s best for you.

This important article discusses the 9 most common and costly of these homebuyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do to avoid them.

 

The 9 Buyer Traps

Bidding Blind

What price should you offer when you bid on a home?  Is the seller’s asking price too high, or does it represent a great deal?  If you fail to research the market in order to understand what comparable homes are selling for, making your offer would be like bdding blind.  Without this knowledge of market value, you could easily bid too much, or fail to make a competitive offer at all on an excellent value.

 

Buying the Wrong Home.

 

What are you looking for in a home?  A simple enough question, but the answer can be quite complex.  More than one buyer has been swept up in the emotion and excitement of the buying process only to find themselves the owner of a home that is either too big or too small.  Maybe they’re stuck with a longer than desired commute to work, or a dozen more fix-ups than they really want to deal with now that the excitement has died down.  Take the time upfront to clearly define your wants and needs.  Put it in writing and then use it as a yard stick with which to measure every home you look at.

Unclear Title.

 

Make sure very early on in the negotiation that you will own your new home free and clear by having a title search completed.  The last thing you want to discover when you’re in the back stretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or the like.

Inaccurate Survey.

As part of your offer to purchase, make sure you request an updated property survey which clearly marks your boundaries.  If the survey is not current, you may find that there are structural changes that are not shown (e.g. additions to the house, a new swimming pool, a neighbor’s new fence which is extending a boundary line, etc.).  Be very clear on these issues.

Undisclosed Fix-ups.

 

Don’t expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that will need to be attended to.  Both you and the seller are out to maximize your investment.  Ensure that you conduct a thorough inspection of the home early in the process.  Consider hiring an independent inspector to objectively view the home inside and out, and make the final contract contingent upon this inspector’s report.  This inspector should be able to give you a report of any item that needs to be fixed with associated, approximate cost.


Not Getting Mortgage Preapproval.

Preapproval is fast, easy and free.  When you have a preapproved mortgage, you can shop for your home with a greater sense of freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when you find the home of your dreams.

 

Contract Misses.

If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract by neglecting to attend to some repair issues, or changing the spirit of the agreement in some way, this could delay the final closing and settlement.  Agree ahead of time on a dollar amount for an escrow fund to cover items that the seller fails to follow through on. Prepare a list of agreed issues, walk through them, and check them off one by one.

 Hidden Costs.

 

Make sure you identify and uncover all costs – large and small – far enough ahead of time.  When a transaction closes, you will sometimes find fees for this or that sneaking through after the “sub”-total – fees such as loan disbursement charges, underwriting fees etc.  Understand these in advance by having your lender project total charges for you in writing.

 

 

 

Rushing the Closing.

Take your time during this critical part of the process, and insist on seeing all paperwork the day before you sign.  Make sure this documentation perfectly reflects your understanding of the transaction, and that nothing has been added or subtracted.  Is the interest rate right?  Is everything covered?  If you rush this process on the day of closing, you may run into a last minute snag that you can’t fix without compromising the terms of the deal, the financing, or even the sale itself.

One More Tip…

Find out if your agent offers a Buyer Profile System or “House-hunting Service,” which takes the guesswork out of finding just the right home that matches your needs.  This type of program will crossmatch your criteria with ALL available homes on the market and supply you with printed information on an on-going basis. A program like this can help you to affordably move into
the home of your dreams.

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