Good morning everyone;
As March break winds down the housing market revs up. It’s getting to be quite busy and buyers are continually being frustrated with bidding wars and low inventory.
Timing is everything – Last week I was showing a home that had not sold after being poised to take multiple offers (I was super surprised). After brining my clients through a second time to see the home we deliberated for about 3 days. When we were ready to proceed with an offer we were informed that there was another competing offer. We lost out to the other buyer who ultimately paid a sale price above list and no conditions. Funny that for 3 weeks the home was available and then ultimately sells for over asking – firm. You may remember that last month this occurred to another set of my clients.
Buyers- It’s good to get out and see homes – a whole bunch! It is tough right now as there is not a whole bunch to look at. When the right property comes along you can act fast as you have many other properties to compare.
GTA REALTORS® RELEASE MID-MONTH RESALE HOUSING FIGURES
TORONTO, March 17, 2015 –Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 3,838 sales through the TorontoMLS system during the first two weeks of March 2015. This result represented an 11.8 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2014. New listings were also up over the same period, but by a lesser annual rate of 8.4 per cent. “Strong year-over-year growth in home sales continued during the first half of March for most home types in the GTA, both in the City of Toronto and the surrounding regions. This suggests that households continue to view the purchase of a home as a quality long-term investment. But for a lack of low-rise listings in some neighbourhoods, it is quite possible that the number of sales could have been higher,” said Mr. Etherington.
The average selling price for transactions reported during the first two weeks of March was $620,106 – up by 10.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2014. Price growth was driven by low-rise home types, including detached and semi-detached houses and townhouses.
Mortgage rate cut!
Lenders are cutting their mortgage rates again!
RBC followed Bank of Montreal’s lead by reducing their 5 year fixed mortgage rate to 2.79% Remember when everyone was talking about 2.99%?
Affordability remains strong despite increased sale prices.
Construction Blog #2 – City Committee of Adjustments
Committee of Adjustments is setup to review any building requests that go outside the zoning regulations. They grant or deny minor/major variances. Basically, you are given a hearing date and you must state your case to get approval for whatever variances you are seeking. There are extra application costs, reports, architectural costs and significant time delays to wait for a hearing date.
We tried as much as possible to keep our plans within zoning regulations as to avoid the additional costs and time delay of having to go to the city committee. When we submitted our plans to the city we believed that we were within all zoning regulations—-Nope! The city reviewer scrutinizing the plans said that the soffit height of the planned dormers (on the garage) were about 1 foot above the allowable height limit. This is very different than overall roof height. Our roof height was within zoning allowance. Dormers are the windows that are designed that protrude out of the roof (See side example). They are below the peak of the roofline. This is a technicality and does not affect anyone or ANYTHING – It is a function of architectural design. It should also be noted that had our plans been submitted last year, our design would have been within the zoning regulations and we would have avoided going to committee. A change in zoning late last year forced us to go to committee on a technicality – Booooo! We did have the option to change our design but we were set on our plans (it did take a while for us to be happy with our final design).
Once we decided that we had to go to committee of adjustment we also took the opportunity to apply for something that was at least more tangible to somewhat justify the extra cost of the process. We submitted plans that called for 1 extra foot of roof height over the zoning regulation. This would translate to a higher ceiling height in the home. At least we can then feel that we got something out of it.
I had prepped a few weeks in advance of the hearing date by door knocking all my immediate neighbours – (side bar: I love my neighbourhood and my neighbours, we have been in our home for 12 years. Most neighbours have been living in the neighbourhood for 20-35 years or more. All are wonderful people). Within the last 5 years there is much development occurring as homes begin to change hands. I let my neighbours know that we were undertaking a major construction project and they would be receiving a letter from the city outlying the variances we were seeking. I also engaged them to sign a letter of support. The only tangible variance that may have concerned any of my immediate neighbours was that of the extra foot in roof height. There are several homes on my street that are new(er) homes with roofs above the zoning allowance by 1-2 feet so my request was nothing unique or unusual. My neighbours were happy to lend me their support and I submitted their support letters to the committee to have in their file for review 12 days before the actual hearing date.
The big day – On the day of the hearing I arrived early and saw case after case of neighbours fighting! One neighbour actually spit on another. It was Jerry Springer Toronto style! I thought to myself, is this how my hearing would go? Upset neighbours showing up (despite my minor requests) to oppose (and possibly delay further and add significant costs) our plans on grounds they felt strongly about?
I noticed two themes in the other cases as they presented. 1) The variances applied for were for the most part appeared to be much more significant and 2) Neighbours had not been engaged at all by those seeking the city’s approval. Neighbours and concerned residents showed up to the hearings not knowing anything about the proposals so their reflex reaction was to oppose everything. They felt almost betrayed and insulted. Cases were taking up to 30 minutes each to present both sides and almost all resulted in a further continuance. (The docket contained about 30 -40 cases that afternoon session)
After a lengthy delay it was my turn – My architect and I approached the podium and he began to speak. Literally 45 seconds later the committee said that they had no issues with any of the plans, that they reviewed the letters of support and that they saw that I was already in the process of engaging the department of urban forestry. Application granted and in the best way possible – very anticlimactic. None of my neighbours appeared to oppose the application as they were already informed and were ok with what we were doing. I spoke to them even before the city’s notice letter arrived in their mailbox. This coupled with the fact that our variances request was indeed minor and conforming to what has already been done in the neighbourhood made for a positive outcome. This process cost about an extra $5,000 in applications and professional services in addition to my time to draft up letters and engage my neighbours. They key was to be proactive, be transparent and keep people informed. This helped avoid surprises (on both sides) and allowed me to gauge if there were any real concerns that I had not considered.
Next Construction Blog #3 – Return of the Urban Forestry Jedi – Building Permits, Where art thou?
So what do you get for $51 million in Vancouver these days?
A Vancouver mansion has sold for an eye-watering $51 million. The home in Point Grey comes with plenty of space, sitting on 1.09 hectares that had previously been three separate plots. CBC reported that the mansion was sold last December by the CEO of gaming company Zynga and was bought by a Chinese businessman. Real estate agent Malcolm Hasman listed the property. Along with its oversized plot, the 25,000 square foot home comes with a tennis court, movie theatre, separate guest house and a 10-car underground garage.
Come pay me a visit this weekend at 55 Snowood Crt (North York) Sat-Sun between 2-4pm!
Have a fantastic weekend and a great week, Anthony
Photo courtesy W. Andrew Powell.