Housing affordability sees modest improvements through Q3, 2011: RBC

RBC’s third quarter Housing Trends and Affordability study showed “modest improvements” in housing affordability for Canadians as global financial markets continued to face uncertainty and interest rates crept lower.

The following is an excerpt from the report on Saskatchewan: Although RBC’s affordability measures for Saskatchewan continue to be above their long-term averages, widespread improvement was recorded in the third quarter. The measures fell for all housing types—between 0.8 and 0.9 percentage points—and reversed part of the increases (in some cases, substantially) from the previous quarter. Saskatchewan home buyers seem fairly comfortable with current affordability levels. Indeed, they were quite active in the third quarter, with resales rising nearly 6% from the second quarter to their highest levels in two years. Hefty gains were seen in Saskatoon and, to a lesser extent, Regina. Home prices in the province maintained their steady ascent, showing modest gains for most housing types. The Saskatchewan housing market will continue to be well supported by strong economic growth in the coming year.

Although the report lacks commentary on the Saskatoon market, the charts on page 8 of the report show slight improvements for the percentage of income required to carry a mortgage on a Saskatoon home, in spite of marginally higher prices.

Read the entire report 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.

Interested in the value of your Saskatoon home? Grab a FREE Market Snapshot that includes sale prices of recently sold homes in your area. Check it out here.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon housing sales remains strong in face a shrinking labour market

Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) released their third quarter update on the Saskatoon housing market late last week. It takes a look at third quarter and year-to-date activity in new homes as well as resale activity.

Here are some highlights from the report.

  • Third quarter housing starts slipped lower to 735 units, down 4 percent from the same quarter in 2010.
  • Year-to-date starts (to September 30) sit at 2,231 units, up 27 percent from 1,755 starts in the same period of 2010.
  • Year-to-date gains are attributed to the production of multi-family dwellings.
  • In the multi-family category, 565 apartment units were started during the first three quarters of this year.
  • Low interest rates and a scarce supply of rental units helped support heightened demand in the resale market.
  • Resale transactions increased by 21.5 percent over the third quarter of last year.
  • Residential listings increased 2.9 percent over the previous year but the strong pace of sales negated increases to the supply.
  • Balanced market conditions prevailed through the quarter with average prices gaining just 2.7 percent compared to the same period last year.
  • The Saskatoon labour market softened during the third quarter with total employment declining 1.6 percent from the same time last year.
  • Saskatoon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed to 5.7 percent, up from 5.5 percent at the same time last year.

Read the entire report 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.

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

Saskatoon real estate week in review: November 21-25, 2011

It was another reasonably strong week for Saskatoon real estate sales considering the time of year. A total of 71 detached house and condo sales were reported to the local MLS®. This week’s sales were up by 21 on the previous week and finished higher by 12 compared against the same week last year.

New MLS® listings of houses and condominiums matched sales at 71 units for a weekly decline of just two, but finished higher by eight on a year-over-year basis.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The total inventory of active MLS® listings in the residential category continued to trail lower as it fell by 30 units this week to finish at 1119, up 20 listings when compared to inventory levels at this time last year. This morning’s numbers show 668 single-family homes and 383 condominiums for sale within the city of Saskatoon. Those two categories stood at 633 and 408 respectively at this time last year. You may recall that for most of the year, single-family home inventory had been lower and condo inventory had been higher on a year-over-year basis so we are seeing a bit of a change there.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Cancelled and withdrawn listings slid lower to 29 homes with 14 of those doing a turnabout and re-entering the system with a new MLS® number, and in most cases, a new price. An additional 39 price adjustments were recorded on the system and 17 listings came to the end of their term and expired without a sale.

Weekly prices bounced higher this week with the average sale price moving nearly $18,000 to $323,173. The median picked up close to $19,000 on the week to finish at $313,000. The six-week average managed to inch lower by a few hundred dollars over the course of the past week and closed at $325,129 up from $307,651 a year ago. The four-week median moved in the opposite direction and gained $5,500 on a weekly basis to finish the week at $305,500 claiming an annual gain of just over $10,000.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Overbid sales were fairly steady at four but the average overbid was up to $6,275. Another three Saskatoon home sellers found a buyer willing to pay what they were asking. Most sales (64 of 71) closed at a price that was lower than the list by an average of just $9,605.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

City targets untidy yards – Star Phoenix
‘Mingles’ moving housing markets – Financial Post
River Landing megaproject gets zoning change – Star Phoenix
Mortgage break fees: The banks gain is your pain – Globe and Mail
Positive outlook for fundamentals in 2012 – Star Phoenix
Housing starts to slow in 2012: altus – National Post
Canada income inequality: Growing earnings gap raises prices for all – Huffington Post
Face of Saskatchewan immigration – Leader Post
Saskatoon building permit values approach $1 billion – Star Phoenix
Canadian housing frothier than U.S. at the peak: Economist – Globe and Mail
Canada home ownership slightly more affordable: RBC – Huffington Post
Sask. leads Canada in GDP growth – Star Phoenix
Saskatchewan leads Canada in wage growth – Star Phoenix
Is Canada’s housing market frothy or steady as she goes? – Globe and Mail

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

The most common problems encountered in condominium transactions


Rough transcript.

Condos purchases have increased substantially in recent years as the cost of housing has moved higher. Just ten years ago, condo sales accounted for roughly 16 percent of Saskatoon’s MLS® housing market. This year, condominiums account for roughly  27% of all residential resale activity on the Saskatoon multiple listing service®.

According to the Real Estate Insurance Exchange, a private company formed to provide errors and omissions insurance for real estate agents in several provinces, the majority of problems that arise in a condo purchase fall into four areas that they call the four P’s.

The four P’s are Pets, Parking, Payments and Paper.

When it comes to pets, it’s extremely important that all parties to the transaction are aware of the rules of the condo corporation. Don’t let the fact that the current seller has a dog or a cat give you comfort that you can bring yours. In some cases, grandfathering clauses allow current owners to have pets but prohibit new owners from bringing them. Some complexes have restrictions on certain breeds, or even size restrictions that you’ll want to be aware of if you plan on bringing or acquiring a pet in your new condo. A careful review of condominium documents, or a chat with the property manager should clarify whether or not you can bring your pet to you new home. In either case, request a copy of the condo corporation’s per policy in writing.

As far as parking is concerned, you’ll want to be sure you understand if it’s included with your unit, and if so, exactly where the parking stall is located. Is it assigned, and if so, by whom? Is the parking stall titled, and will you have the right to transfer it to a new owner when you’re ready to sell. The estoppel certificate should detail what rights you have to exclusive use of parking facilities, but occasionally we’ve seen estoppels that don’t address parking. Insist on having your parking rights detailed in that particular document.

The third P stands for payments. In this area, buyers or sellers may be confused about exactly what is included in the monthly condo fee. For instance, the buyer may be led to believe that the condo corporation covers electricity costs for each unit when they’re not covered. Buyers may also be taken by surprise regarding special assessments or one-time fees that are levied against unit owners, usually for the purpose of completing large and expense improvements that haven’t been provided for in the budget. Special assessments are normally known about in well in advance of being issued and a thorough review of meeting minutes can be a great way of learning about them when you’re considering a purchase. The estoppel certificate also contains information on special assessments that have been proposed or passed by the board.

Finally, the fourth P stands for paper. This is the stack of documents that a buyer will be provided after their offer has been accepted. Under the current legislation, a buyer has either five days or ten days to review the paper, depending on whether the unit is new, or a resale. At any point during the allotted time, they may rescind or withdraw their offer to purchase based on any information contained in the documents. It is the buyer’s responsibility to conduct their own due diligence and insure that they are aware of what they’re buying. Remember, you’re not just purchasing a home; you’re buying into a corporation that most typically has many owners. You’ll want to understand the by-laws and rules of the corporation, and you’ll want to have a good understanding of the corporation’s financial health. You will, after all, be responsible for some portion of it moving forward.

Thanks for watching. If you have questions about condos or any other Saskatoon real estate matter, feel free to give me a call at 306-241-6676, or drop me an email at norm@teamfisher.com.

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: November 14-18, 2011

Sales and new listings both continued on a downward trend this week, as is typical of this time of year.

Saskatoon real estate agents reported just 50 sales of single-family homes and condominiums to the multiple listing service®  over the course of the week. That marks a week-over-week decline of five units bringing one of just a handful of weeks, in recent months, where sales fell short on annual basis. During the same week last year a total of 68 sales were recorded for those two housing types.

New listings followed, trailing lower and falling 10 on a weekly basis to just 73 homes. However, that was still enough to beat activity for the same week last year when just 66 Saskatoon homes were offered for sale.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

The inventory of active listings in the residential category of the Saskatoon MLS® continued to hug last year’s trend line as the week closed showing 1149 properties for sale, down 25 from the close of the previous week, and up just 14 units from where it stood at the same time last year. The inventory bubble that formed in the back half of 2008 seems to be ancient history as far as Saskatoon home buyers and sellers are concerned. I expect that the inventory levels seen through 2010 and 2011 represent the new “normal” for this real estate market. Sales, by the way, appear quite “normal” as well. Sure, we are seeing some impressive numbers compared to last year, but 2010 saw sales fall below the five-year average by close to ten percent. Total residential sales for 2011, so far, put us just 2.5 percent ahead of the five-year average. Most agents that I’m speaking to on a daily basis feel that the market is balanced and that prices are fairly stable, even though the average has been climbing lately.

Turning to more specific housing categories, today’s inventory contains 686 detached single-family homes (houses) and 397 condominiums shosing an active status on the Saskatoon MLS®. Houses are up just 17 units on a year-over-year basis, while condos are down by just six.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Cancelled and withdrawn listings remained steady at 36 homes with 20 of those returning to the system on the very same day for another go at the market. An additional 46 Saskatoon home sellers adjusted their asking price in hopes of wrapping up a deal before the holidays begin. Another 18 MLS®  listings reached the end of their term and expired from the system without a sale.

Compared to recent weeks, a lack of sales at the high end of the market brought a lower average sale price by almost ten percent on a weekly basis. That number came in at $295,386 to make its first appearance below the $300K mark since late July. At the same time, the median price for the week inched up and gained almost 5K from the week before. The six-week average price slipped lower by about five grand compared to the previous week and closed at $325,432 for a year-over-year gain of about $17,000. The four-week median price took a slide falling 10K from the previous week to reach $300,000 for an annual gain of just $10,000.

Click the image for a larger version of the graph.

Overbid sales came in a three but buyers resisted any urge they may have felt to pay wildly more than list price. The average overbid on those three sales was just $133. Another three sellers accepted offers at their full asking price while 44 of 50 sales completed required a little back and forth resulting in a deal that closed $10,238 below the asking price, on average.

Click the image for a larger version of the chart.

Highlights from the news this week

Home sales and price continue to rise in October – Financial Post
First time buyers going deeper into suburbs: CMHC – Ottawa Business Journal
Canadian home sales top expectations – Globe and Mail
Home sales keep up momentum – Financial Post
But for B.C., house prices to rise next year: RBC – Globe and Mail
October housing sales show market’s strength – National Post
Allegations against real estate commission unsubstantiated – Star Phoenix
Many older Canadians say mortgage freedom is still years away – Globe and Mail

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