Saskatoon real estate week in review: December 20-23 2010

After a few years of showing up for work during the last half of December one begins to learn that you generally can’t expect much in the way of an immediate return. For the most part, people are focused on other things and hunting for a home takes a back burner for all but the most motivated. Yet, we (TeamFisher) are pleasantly surprised to find ourselves strangely busy for late December with almost 2 million dollars in sales in the last ten days. Lyndon sold one yesterday and Pamela put one to bed just today, Christmas Eve. We’ll gladly take them as the next two weeks typically just get slower. It’s doubtful that more than fifty or sixty homes will move during that time. Still, it can be an exciting time for a real estate agent as these next two weeks bring us to the bottom of our annual unit sales cycle. Generally, we can expect gradual but steady improvement in the four or five months that follow. Spring is on its way and I am feeling optimistic for a good strong year.

This week’s sales moved in the expected downward direction but held up pretty well compared to most years. Saskatoon real estate agents reported thirty-seven firm sales to the multiple listing service®, a drop of just four from last week, but enough to beat sales for the same week last year by seven homes.

While you can occasionally be surprised by stronger than expected sales activity around the holiday season you can almost place your bets on weakening listing activity. New listings fell this week, dropping to just twenty-eight houses and condos, down from fifty-three last week, but still well ahead of the same week last year when just fifteen Saskatoon homes came on the market.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The inventory of active residential listings on the multiple listing service® continued its slide dropping fifty-five homes compared to last week to settle at 922 by this morning, up just under two hundred units from the same week a year ago. The declines were spread nearly evenly across houses and condos. This morning, there are 506 active single-family home listings and 363 condominiums, down thirty-eight and thirty-two respectively from a week ago. 139 properties are scheduled to expire between now and January 1 so its entirely possible that inventory will bottom out somewhere below 800 units before it begins to build up as spring approaches.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Just seventeen MLS® listings were cancelled or withdrawn this week. Most of those frustrated sellers appear to be serious about coming off the market, at least for now, as only five did an about face and immediately relisted. Price adjustments were even softer with just seven sellers changing their price. I suppose if you’re going to cancel and relist, or adjust your price, you may as well do it when more people are paying attention.

This week saw a fair share of activity at the lower half of the market and the median selling price of a Saskatoon home slipped eight thousand dollars lower to $277,000. A single sale above the one million dollar mark skewed the average selling price higher than it otherwise would have been. Still, that price measure managed to slide thirty-seven hundred dollars from last week to $318,035. The six-week average also slipped by just under a thousand dollars to $311,020 for a year-over-year gain of almost twenty-four thousand dollars. The four-week median fell eight thousand dollars from last week to $289,000 and finished ahead of the same week last year by just five thousand dollars. That’s the slimmest year-over-year gain since late August.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Thirty-two of thirty-seven sales went below the asking price by $14,690, or about 4.35% of the asking price. This is a significantly higher average underbid than we’re accustomed to seeing. One of the homes sold this week went $150K below the asking price, essentially skewing the average dollar discount by more than four thousand dollars. Without it, we’d have been closer to the 10K-ish, 3-3.5% discount. Additionally, there were three sales reported at a price greater than the asking price, by an average of $3500. Another two sellers got their price.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Credit unions say household debt no big deal – Financial Post
Why Carney is speaking to more than you & your neighbour – Globe and Mail
2011 real estate look ahead – Globe and Mail
U.S. home market struggles to gain traction – National Post
Canadian real estate outperforms peers but outlook lacklustre – Financial Post
Dump your roommate, kickstart the economy – Financial Post
Flaherty preaches prudence to banks – National Post
Flaherty sets sights on household debt – Star Phoenix
Rate hikes sooner, not later – Globe and Mail
Sask. population growth leads nation – Star Phoenix

Have a great holiday everyone!

A map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate areas is here.
An overview of data collection and calculation practices for our statistical reports is here.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS® listings from all real estate brands with the most detail and information available anywhere. Check it out here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

$5900 luxury toilet does most of the bathroom work for you

Click the image for a larger view

This fine piece of bathroom technology is built for those with more money than brains they know what to do with. However, if you’re looking to raise the level of comfort in the loo and you’ve got some bucks to throw around this toilet may be worth a look.

First of all, it sees you coming. As you approach the toilet, the lid begins to lift automatically and the seat warmer comes to life practically begging you to take a seat. Nighttime use brings additional surprises as the exterior of the bowl softly illuminates itself when you head its way. The interior is lit as well, a perfect feature for light duty deposits contributed by those who prefer to stand. He who stands misses at least half of the fun that this amazing toilet has to offer. Take a seat and it begins to make beautiful music eliminating all of the awkwardness that a silent bathroom brings at times like these. Odors are no problem either. The scented double deodorizer kicks into high gear to cover up that which cannot be masked by song. Finish your business and activate the hygienic cleaning device that treats the posterior to a warm water wash providing a “feeling of cleanliness like never before.” The warm air dryer leaves you feeling, well, dry. As you might expect of a unit of this caliber, the toilet completes its operation by flushing automatically and lowering the lid as you leave. This lid can’t be left up on purpose.

If you have $5900 U.S. that you can spare for a toilet, check it out here.

Read also: An aquarium in your toilet?

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon real estate week in review: December 13-17 2010

Local home sales numbers fell below the fifty-unit line this week as Saskatoon real estate agents reported just forty-one firm sales of single-family homes and condominiums, a decline of fourteen sales from last week, and down just as much from the same week last year. If unit sales follow the typical seasonal trend they’ll remain below fifty for the next four to five weeks before beginning a pre-spring ascent.

New listings were surprising high given the fact that the holiday season is now upon us. Fifty-three new house and condo listings were added to the Saskatoon multiple listing service® this week, nine fewer than were offered for sale last week, but up on a year-over-year basis by twenty homes.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Total active residential listings continued to trail lower losing twenty-nine units over the course of the week to finish at 967, up 202 properties from this point in 2009. As of this morning, there are 527 single-family homes and 382 condos available on the Saskatoon MLS®, both numbers down from last week, but up from 437 and 280 respectively, year-over-year. As the year draws to a close, all of the speculation about where active listings might trend are put to rest. In hindsight, 2010 active listings flowed neatly between the highs and lows of the previous two years all year, with the two previous years switching sides at half time. We’ll almost certainly finish with a larger inventory that we had at the close of last year, likely by a hundred units or more, but there doesn’t appear to be a huge surplus of properties moving into 2011. Today, there are 185 residential MLS® listings showing an expiry date between now and January 1 so it is even possible that inventory could close 2010 even closer to 2009 levels.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Sixteen MLS® listings were cancelled or withdrawn from the system this week with half of those returning immediately as a new listing and sporting a new price. An additional twenty sellers adjusted their asking price in a last ditch effort to get a deal done this year.

Encouraged by upper end market activity that was nearly non-existent last week (weekly median price increased to $320,000 from just $270,000 last week) the average selling price of a Saskatoon home bolted higher gaining more than forty thousand dollars on the week to reach $321,710. The six-week average price moved far more modestly, but also headed higher gaining twenty-three hundred dollars from last week to finish at $311,927, roughly twenty-four thousand dollars above last year’s number. The four-week median actually slipped lower by nine hundred dollars to $297,000 to claim a gain of seventeen thousand dollars when compared with the same week a year ago.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Thirty-seven of forty-one homes sold this week were reported to have sold below the seller’s asking price. The average discount was $9,894 or roughly 3.1% of the advertised list price. Two Saskatoon home sellers managed a deal at full asking price and another two sold above their list for an average gain of just one hundred dollars, but hey, times are tough. 🙂

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Mr. Carney’s warnings and the perils of pride – Globe and Mail
Interest rate hike effects may be sharp: Carney – CBC News
Canada could tighten mortgage rules: Flaherty – Financial Post
Analysts fret over housing, want to hear from Carney – Globe and Mail
How rising interest rates could boost sales – Money
Ottawa, banks discuss ways to rein in Canadian’s personal debt – Globe and Mail
A tale of two housing markets – Globe and Mail
Carney warns cheap money won’t last forever – Financial Post
Personal debt not as bad as it looks – Globe and Mail
Peter Foster: Mark Carney, Zamboni driver – Financial Post
Home sales rise in November – Globe and Mail
How the housing market found a trough and where it’s headed – Globe and Mail
Home sales rise for fourth month – National Post
Canada’s housing market solid – Globe and Mail

As 2010 draws to a close, I’d like to take just a moment to say thank you for making our website part of your routine. It’s been another rewarding year for TeamFisher and having the opportunity to share with you and hear your thoughts has been a big part of that. I hope we’ll see a lot of you next year as well.

Regardless of whether or not you celebrate through the holiday season, I hope the next couple of weeks provide a special opportunity for you to spend some time with those you love. I hope you’ll find some time to slow down, relax, refresh yourself and reflect. I hope that you can look back on a year that was full of pleasant surprises and special moments, but regardless of what you see in the rear view mirror I wish you and yours the very best for the year that is ahead of us. I truly hope it’s the year that you knock one out of the park, a year where everything just goes your way. Cheers!

I will publish a week in review for this coming week, though we’ll most certainly hit the publish button Sunday, instead of Saturday.

A map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate areas is here.
An overview of data collection and calculation practices for our statistical reports is here.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS® listings from all real estate brands with the most detail and information available anywhere. Check it out here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Canadian MLS® sales up again but seller’s market unlikely: CREA

CREA economist Gregory Klump reports on MLS® sales and listings for the Canadian real estate market for November, 2010.

From CREA’s release:

Seasonally adjusted activity was up from October levels in two-thirds of all local markets, including eight of Canada’s ten most active markets. Month-over-month increases were reported in Calgary (+2.6 per cent), Edmonton (+6.9 per cent), Fraser Valley (+10.5 per cent), London & St. Thomas (+6.5 per cent), Montreal (+8.2 per cent), Ottawa (+4.2 per cent), Toronto (+6.0 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+11.3 per cent). These markets accounted for more than half of national activity in November.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) national sales activity in November 2010 was 9.3 per below levels in November 2009.

The persistence of large year-over-year declines from last year’s record levels has been masking the steady improvement in national sales activity since July 2010. A comparison of November sales activity to sales for the same month in previous years suggests that activity is currently running at more normal levels.

The actual release and some stats graphs can be found here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions. All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

BMO encourages 25-year amortization period with low rate incentive

In a news release yesterday, BMO states that nearly seventy percent of Canadians are “open to the idea of shorter amortizations.” The big bank is encouraging borrowers to consider the shorter, more traditional amortization period by offering low mortgage rate of just 3.54% on their five-year fixed, currently their lowest fixed rate option.

The BMO release offered the following tips for becoming mortgage free faster.

Consider a shorter amortization

  • The shorter the life of the mortgage, the less you pay in interest.
  • A shorter amortization means that you can become mortgage free faster and begin saving more for retirement.

Make sure you can afford what you signed up for

  • Stress-test your financial budget using a mortgage payment based on a higher interest rate.
  • Total housing costs (mortgage payments, property taxes, heating costs, etc.) should not consume more than one-third of household income.

Make a larger down payment

  • If you can provide a bigger down payment, it’s a significant way of helping you pay less interest over the life of your mortgage.
  • If you make a down payment of least 20 per cent, you avoid paying mortgage default insurance.

Make pre-payments when you can

  • Pay weekly or bi-weekly instead of monthly.
  • Increase your mortgage payment (principal and interest).
 This option can be exercised once each calendar year, at any time, without charge.

Think carefully about fixed vs. variable

While variable rates mortgages have been a winning strategy over the long term, fixed rate mortgages (currently at historic lows) come with the peace of mind of being insulated against rate increases and knowing how much of your mortgage you will have paid down at the end of your term.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Our Saskatoon home search tool offers MLS® listings represented by all real estate brands, presented with more detail than you’ll find anywhere else. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate