Housing Market Conditions From Re/Max Ontario Atlantic

RE/MAX Ontario Atlantic Canada Inc.Theres been a lot of talk about real estate in the news in recent months. Weve heard about declining housing starts, falling existing home sales, double-digit price depreciation, subprime fallout and foreclosures in the United States. Fortunately, we live in Canada. And Canadian real estate markets are far-better positioned than their American counterparts for a good number of reasons.

  1. Subprime mortgages represent less than five per cent of our market nationally.
  2. Foreclosures occur in about one quarter of one per cent of mortgage transactions in this country.
  3. Canadians have more equity in their homes.
  4. We have less debt than our neighbours south of the border.
  5. Speculation has played little or no role in existing home sales in Ontario.
  6. The fundamentals of our economy are relatively solid. Of the G8 countries, only Canada is expected to show growth in 2008 and 2009.
  7. The Canadian banking system is one of the best in the world, relying more on old-fashioned lending than innovative financial products geared toward profit.
  8. The Canadian job market is stronger than the US, adding more than 200,000 jobs so far this year.
  9. Interest rates remain favourable.
  10. Housing values in Ontario major centres did not experience serious, double-digit price appreciation year-after-year for an extended period. Our markets were characterized by stable, healthy growth.
  11. Immigration continues to play a key role in housing markets. Between 2001 and 2006, more than 1.1 million immigrants came to this country, with about half settling in the province of Ontario. Immigrants tend to purchase a home within the first five years of living in Canada.

Real estate is cyclical. There will be peaks and valleys. The more restrained the peak, the more modest the valley.

There is no question that market conditions have moderated from 2007s record pace. More listings, softer housing values, longer days on market but most centres are relatively solid. While some buyers and sellers will adopt a wait-and-see attitude, there are those that will continue to venture forward.

Theyll need the services of a knowledgeable, experienced real estate professional to navigate the storm. They will look to you for information in todays complex real estate environment. Understanding market conditions will be of paramount importance to todays buyers and sellers, especially as conditions change in markets across the country.

That said, sellers will need to be realistic in setting a selling price. Listing a property at fair-market value will ensure that it will sell in a reasonable amount of time. This is not the time to test the market. Those that are truly interested in selling their properties know that over-priced homes risk stagnation. Buyers in todays market will need to be careful not to overextend themselves. They should know exactly what they can afford. Pre-approval for a mortgage loan is ideal because it lets buyers know exactly how much they can spend on their new home.

Once educated, your clients will come to rely on your expertise. Make sure your follow-up skills are honed and your customer service is par excellence.

Looking forward, we anticipate a continuation of stable market activity, minus the urgency present in past. Gone are the multiple offers that left both buyers and sellers dissatisfied. The increase in the number of homes listed for sale are a definite advantage for purchasers who now have the luxury of time in making one of the most important decisions of a lifetime. For sellers, the time to trade-up has never been better.

Canadians are great believers in homeownership a fact underscored by the close to 70 per cent who own homes in this country. History has proven time and time again that real estate is a solid, long-term investment that appreciates at a rate of about five per cent annually. You cant live in your mutual fund, and after the last month in the financial markets, quite frankly, were not sure youd want to.


Michael Polzler
Executive Vice President and Regional Director
RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc.