Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Downsizers Dilemma

by Zoe Van Wyck, Sales Representative with the Bennett Property Shop Realty

               Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live a simpler life? Although it may require some lifestyle tweaking  to get there, do you realize how attainable it really is? This seems to be the mindset of the majority of Canadians as the flock of baby boomers have been contemplating the low maintenance lifestyle of condo living. With this ongoing trend and new condo’s popping up all over the city, the appeal and possibility is there. However, for a lot of these downsizers, even with this seemingly simple solution at hand, something is blocking the path to making the final decision to move forward and ‘make the change’.
               Certainly ‘making the change’ will require some effort to adjust; especially after dealing with the same routine for years and years. The idea of a lifestyle adjustment may present itself as an overwhelming feat requiring a great deal of energy and effort. It may be this notion of change alone that seems to instill in them the most fear. But fear has always been the greatest enemy in our decision making ability, as it does a fantastic job of holding us back.
               One of the main factors instilling this sense of fear is the conflict between the desire for zero maintenance versus the sacrifice of ‘space and things’. “Where will I put my 12 Rubbermaid containers of yarn?” one asks, “Where am I going to put those magazines I’ve been accumulating since 1965?”, says another. Well, the response to these concerns is nowhere. And that this is the whole point. The intention of downsizing is just that: downsizing. 
               Evidently there are adjustments to be made. It is a huge lifestyle change, without a doubt. But when a lifestyle change offers so many benefits, and the ability to alleviate so many of your burdens, why put it off any longer? Why not enjoy that ‘lock and leave lifestyle’ everyone is talking about right now! Don’t spend one more winter shoveling your 4 car driveway, tending to your lawn that never seems to stay green, or paying to air condition all ten rooms in your home…when you use only three of them.
               While the majority of baby boomers are still in their “contemplation stage” there are many that have benefitted from this lifestyle leap already – the downsizing dilemma is on its way out. It’s only a matter of time until this demographic fully accepts and adjusts to this trend and begins to wholeheartedly embrace the change. With Ottawa having the largest baby boomer population per capita, you can be assured that once the acceptance of condo living for downsizers truly hits, and all that fear subsides, there will be a shift in the market. All of those large, family homes will be scattering the market and the competition will be fierce. You don’t want to be caught trying to sell your house in a buyers’ market, especially if you’re nearing retirement. Don’t you want to get top dollar for your home?!
                Don’t get left behind! Get started now and contact the Bennett Property Shop today! Be a front runner and you will benefit far greater than those who sit back and let their fear affect their future.
                 You can thank me later.

Visit www.bennettpros.com for all your real estate needs.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don't Buy the Doom and Gloom - New Reports Challenge the Myth of the Condo Bubble

You may be familiar with this gem from the great American humourist Mark Twain: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”


I can’t imagine a more suitable quote to sum up recent media coverage of the Canadian condo market. Story after story perpetuates the negative message that the market can’t be sustained.


Frankly, these pieces are grossly distorting the facts, and misleading the public in the process.


To help set the record straight, I wanted to share the gist of the CMHC’s 2013 annual report. Spoiler alert: it’s good news.


The condo market has certainly grown quickly. Between 1981 and 2011, the growth rate for owner-occupied condos in Canada outstripped that of other homes by over nine times. By 2011, we had a total of 1,615,000 occupied condos, with most new construction occurring in urban centres.


While past numbers are solid, how can we be sure the trend will hold?


Let’s consider who’s buying condos. Quick answer: all kinds of people. To distill the numbers, in 2011, 29 per cent of condo owners were seniors, while nearly one-fifth were under 35. Close to half of condo owner-occupiers lived alone, while over a quarter were couples without children.


Are these demographic groups likely to grow? Fascinatingly, CMHC found that people living alone – let’s call them solo dwellers – are expected to become the most common household type by the 2020s. In another growing trend, couples with children account for fewer households than ever. For many seniors, young singles and urban couples, condos’ affordability, security and worry-free lifestyle makes them a natural choice. (At the same time, in large urban centres, more growing families are turning to condo living, à la Manhattan.)


But what about all those empty high-rise suites we keep hearing about? Let’s add some perspective. According to a December report released by BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri, “The number of newly built, unoccupied condos is not high when normalized for population growth.”


CMHC points out that current condo construction rates are in keeping with rising numbers of one-member households, immigration and a general shift towards more compact dwellings. In other words, condos aren’t going anywhere.


Where condominiums are concerned, Ottawa is still in its infancy. With such tremendous potential for growth, purchasing a condo in this city is still among the best investments around.

Visit www.bennettpros.com for all your real estate needs.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Women the new ‘wildcard’ in the condo market

Women the new ‘wildcard’ in the condo market

Megan Vickell is a new brand of condominium owner that people predicting a market crash may have forgotten to factor in.

She’s young, single and ready to buy her first home. And, more importantly, she’s female — part of a growing demographic that just might be creating a new paradigm in the housing sector.

A report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. shows women are a growing powerhouse in the Canadian condominium market. Among people who live alone, women made up 65% of owner occupants in 2011.

Condo owners: By the numbers

19% Percentage of condominium owners under the age of 35; 29% were seniors 65 or older.

65% Percentage of women among condo owner-occupants who live alone.

2.5 Average number of people in a household size in 2011, down from 3.5 people in 1971.

12.6% Percentage of Canadian homeowners who lived in a condo in 2011.

42% Percentage of condo owners that are one-person households

35.1% Percentage of Vancouver homeowners who live in a condo, the highest in the country.

71% Among Canadians with a mortgage, the percentage of people with more than 25% equity.

7% Percentage of people with less than 10% down.

31% The percentage of Canadians with a mortgage in arrears, as of June, 2013.

The female factor is even more prevalent among older women with 76% of those 55 and older living alone women. Among lone-parents, women make up 84% of condominium owners.

It’s not just one thing about condos that is pushing Ms. Vickell to look at a high-rise. The public relations manager of eBay Canada says she’s close to putting in an offer this week on a 650 square foot unit.

“When I was looking I was grumbling because a lot of the maintenance fees were so high but then I was walking down the street after a big snowfall, and all these people were snowed in,  I thought ‘for a single female, I’m willing to pay those fees’,” she says. “I don’t even know where to start with half that stuff around the house.”

There are other perks of condominium living that attracts her to the market, including the 24-hour seven-day a week concierge service. “It’s everything you need in one place. There is someone to take my packages when I’m not there, I’ve got a gym. It’s really just all about convenient living,” says Ms. Vickell.

She sees the condominium as a stepping stone to a house. “I think of it as a five-year plan,” she says.

The condominium market shows few signs of slowing down. CMHC said this month November new construction reached 194,014 on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, well above the number we need based on demographics. Multiples, which includes high-rise condominium units, made up 111,036 of the figure.

Growth in owner-occupied condominiums has exploded over the last three decades, according to the CMHC report. In 1981, there were 171,000 owner-occupied condo units but that figure grew to 1,154,000 by 2011.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets, agrees that women may be the unknown wildcard in determining whether the condominium market can continue its explosive growth.

“One point we’ve made when we’ve said this market is crazy is people need to look at demographics in a different way,” says Mr. Tal. “People buy a house now and don’t marry. Sure there’s the divorce rate being high but many young people in their 30s are not married but busy with careers and buying a home because they have the means. This is a new wave of demand that hasn’t been there before.”

What hasn’t really taken hold, based on the survey, is families considering condominiums. The largest chunk of condo owners are one person households at 42%, followed by couples without children at 28%.

Mr. Tal’s prediction is that in time we will see more families moving into condominiums, it’s just too early to see it any statistics.

“This will be the thing of the future. We are maybe five, six or 10 years from that,” he says.

The condo phenomenon remains mostly a story for Canada’s two most expensive markets with 51% of all new condo starts in 2012 happening in Toronto and Vancouver. Investors continue to drive both markets with 23% of condo apartment units in Toronto rented in 2012 and 26% in Vancouver.

Overall, there seems to be little question that the condominium is going to become a major part of the housing stock in Canada. CMHC noted that in 1981 only 3.3% of homeowners lived in a condo. That percentage grew to 12.6% in 2011.

Source: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/12/18/canada-condo-market/