Quick Hits!

I have a few things to talk about today, but there’s no one “big” topic per se.

Just a lot of random occurences, questions, annoyances, and/or discussion points.  A little bit of something for everyone.

And, I mean, who doesn’t want to talk about lockboxes again?  It’s the topic that always stays sexy, am I right?

hit_blog image-01

Sunny disposition?

A client of mine emailed last week to ask about the pros and cons of installing solar panels on the roof of his home.

The reaction to that above sentence really only comes in two forms:

1) How can there be any “cons” to solar panels, duh?
2) Ewww.  Solar panels are ugly.

And therein lies the rub…

Installing solar panels on the roof of your home will pay off, no question about it.

As hydro prices continue to soar (or will when Kathleen Wynne’s debt-refinancing BS 8% hydro savings plan is up…), I believe that alternative forms of energy will gain serious momentum.

So solar panels seem like a no-brainer, right?

Not so much.

The problem is – they’re ugly.  They’re unsightly.  They stand out.

And in the context of Toronto real estate, where home-owners are always concerned about curb appeal, the cost savings associated with solar panels might be mitigated by a buyer’s distaste for the look and feel of the home.

Is that crazy or what?

You would think that spending money on a feature of your home, that saves you money, would add tremendous value to the property, and help marketability.  But there is something called a “superadequacy” in real estate, which is a feature of your home that you pay more for, than what it’s worth.

Just because you value a 24K gold toilet, doesn’t mean the next buyer will.

Or from a more realistic perspective, does spending money on solid-core doors increase the value of a simple 1-bed, 1-bath condo?  Do those buyers care?  Do they notice?

Solar panels aren’t quite the very definition of superadequacies, but they’re close.  They’re something that, at least in the present, save money, but offend the delicate senses of much of the buyer pool.

What’s the deal with artist’s renderings?

Has anybody noticed that the artist’s renderings for new condo developments are getting more and more unbelievable?

Or maybe they’re the very definition of believable, since the people they “paint” in their little silhouette’s in the marketing brochures are actually who they’re attracting in the end.

They’ll show the lobby, the party room, or the pool, and everybody is good-looking, in shape, young, and well-dressed.

They all seem to be on their phones as well.  So maybe this is an accurate artistic representation?

I’m not sure.

But I do know that most pools at Toronto condos don’t look anything like this, nor do the people dress like this:

C3823884_3

Is that girl on the right knitting?  Or just rummaging in her Louis Vuitton purse for some beeswax lip balm?

Come to think of it, the topic of “artist’s renderings” is a blog post unto itself.  Leave this with me…

Lockbox lament…

I was in a condo the other day, preparing for a listing, and I asked the concierge “What’s the lockbox protocol here in the building?”

Once upon a time, Realtors just stuck the lockbox in the stairwell near the unit, and gave instructions to buyer agents accordingly.

Today, as condo managers have grown to understand the need for clear guidelines when it comes to the sale, and viewing, of real estate, there’s usually a procedure in place.

But not in every building…

I was told by the concierge last week, “We don’t handle lockboxes,” which I took to mean that they don’t keep them at concierge.

I asked, “Is there a dedicated location for them?  Down in P1, around the corner in the hallway, or on a rack outside?”

He said, “Lockboxes are not allowed on site.”

I asked, “What about the stairwells near the unit?”

He simply said, “Lockboxes are not allowed on site,” and added, “If they’re found, they will be removed.”

I know some buildings are trickier than others, but surely in this building there must be some understanding of how agents access the building.

So I asked him, “What do real estate agents, or the sellers, do when they want to have buyers and their agents access the building?”

He said, “We don’t care what they do.  We’ll have none of it.”  And then he said, “If we see a lockbox anywhere on site, or near the building, we’ll cut it off.”

Okay, now he’s saying “near” the building?  So I asked him to clarify, and he pointed outside: “See that bike rack right there?  If we find lockboxes on there, we’ll cut them off.”

He was almost proud about it.

I went into MLS and looked up the last few condos that had sold in the building, and called one of the listing agents who I knew.  She told me, “David, they’re psychotic in that building.  It’s like they’re living in the 1980’s.  Their expectation is that a buyer will go pick up the key from the seller or some nonsense.  I had a lockbox on the fence twenty feet away from the front door, and they cut it off!  I had to put it down the alleyway on a random door handle at the back of a restaurant!”

It makes no sense to me.

The property manager enforces rules that were decided upon by the board of directors.  The board of directors own real estate.  At some point, they’ll sell, and all the while, they should want the property values to increase.

So how does going out of your way to ensure properties are difficult to show, make any sense?

Hey TREB, what the hell are we paying you guys for?

If you think that the Toronto Real Estate Board works for Realtors, you’re sadly mistaken.

It’s so hard to believe, but they tell us what to do, even though technically, they work for us.

And folks like myself, who are living in 2018, think that the people in charge are stuck in 1999, marvelling over the “World Wide Web,” when all the while, our technology is so far behind.

My issue today has to do with open houses.

While you might think that www.realtor.ca is somehow linked to our own www.torontomls.net, alas, it is not.

So if you want to post your listing on “open house,” it matters not what you have on MLS, but rather you have to go an external site.

Check this out:

OpenHouses

So once I’ve gone outside of my MLS listing, where I’ve already specified the day/time of my open house, I post it as shown above.

And then amazingly, it takes TWO DAYS to update!

TWO DAYS!

How in the world is this not automatic?

Post the open house on Friday afternoon, and it might not show up for the public to see, at all.

We need some fresh blood at TREB, not to mention CREA.

Some younger blood too.

Superbowl Sunday…

I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in a long, long time.

No, it has nothing to do with the Superbowl, but rather, I went to open houses on a Sunday.

When showing houses to prospective buyers, I always try to avoid 2-4pm on Saturday & Sunday.  What buyers wouldn’t want the house to themselves when trying to make a decision about the largest purchase of their lives?

Yesterday was an absolute mad house in three straight properties.

Looking at properties during the open house hours on a weekend comes with about five or six standard observations and experiences, all of which happen in sequence.

First, you pull onto the street, and there’s not a single place to park on that entire block.  There are cars up on the sidewalk, cars double-parked in the driveway of the house, and some people even park in front of fire hydrants and just “risk it.”

Second, you see a host of people loitering out front.  Buyers waiting for their agents, agents waiting for their buyers.  People waiting for their partners to arrive, and people waiting outside for their partners, stuck inside.

Third, you see enough shoes in the front foyer to start a department at Nordstrom’s.

Fourth, you get a soaker when you take off your shoes or boots.  It’s absolutely unavoidable this time of year, and most real estate agents working the open houses do nothing about it.

Fifth, there’s an agent inside, losing his or her mind.  Caught halfway between trying to pick up buyers and get “digits” like a frat boy, and actually looking out for the seller’s best interests and protect their home, the agent is bouncing off the walls, trying to figure out what to do.

And last but not least, you get caught going up the stairs, coming down the stairs, moving in and out of a bedroom, and just about anywhere else three or more people can bump into each other, with no idea where to move so that somebody can get by.  It’s like Black Friday at the Mall of America.

The sheer volume of people must discourage any buyer in this market.  Not all of them are going to make offers.  But just the idea that even a crummy house can attract 200 people on a weekend speaks volumes about the Toronto real estate market, and the future of this city.

A word about the Superbowl…

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my two cents on the Greatest Show on Earth.

I used to hate the New England Patriots, like everybody else who watches football.  I thought Tom Brady was soft,  I didn’t like how he complained every time he got touched, and yes, I put him in the category of “pretty boy.”

But when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the target of a witch hunt in 2015 with the laughable “Deflate-gate” saga, and I saw how people around North America reacted, I was stunned.

Instead of realizing how “deflate-gate” was being used in a power struggle between a couple of exceptionally rich old white men, dragging their nonsense through the Supreme Court, people used it as an opportunity to take down Tom Brady – and this was before it became acceptable in 2018 to take down anybody, any time, for any reason, through social media and mainstream media, with no due process.  But that’s just an aside.

Random fans of awful teams – be it Miami, be it the Jets, be it Tennessee – all started clamouring about how Brady’s legacy was forever tarnished, he was a career cheater, and his records shouldn’t count, and he should have Superbowls stripped, and his children should be sold as slaves, and just about anything else you can think of.

I was amazed at how people could turn nothing into something, all to justify their own teams’ failures, and take down the greatest football player of all time.

So you know what?

I went from being a hater, to a fan.  And I started to cheer for Tom Brady and the Patriots.  I was that turned off by how people piled on to the farce that was “deflate-gate.”

Now, I don’t know what happened in last night’s game.  I do know that two Philadelphia touchdowns would not have been touchdowns two weeks ago, and even though I don’t agree with the interpretation of a “catch” in 2017’s NFL, I think you have to keep the game consistent.

It seems to me, the rule (which had to be addressed this off-season, since it was so ridiculous), was silently changed two days before the Superbowl, or dare I say during the Superbowl.

Nobody wanted New England to win, and it just felt that way, at every turn.

Don’t get me wrong – the outcome was far more meaningful than a sixth Tom Brady win would have been.  Philadelphia has never won the Superbowl, their city and their fans deserve it, and there’s a lot of great stories via the players on that team.

I just didn’t care for how the outcome came about.

Well that’s all I’ve got for this crisp Monday morning.

And remember to look around your office today and see who called in sick.  Could there be anything more obvious than somebody who came down with the flu, the morning after the Superbowl?

Oh, and don’t look now – but the market is starting to heat up again.  As unimaginable as it would have seemed, conditions in some segments are eerily reminiscent of this time last year.  Perhaps we’ll talk about that on Wednesday or Friday…

42 Comments

Post A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Piter Smith says:

    Great opportunity for the new business starters with all amenities and great facilities professional information for the home buyer.
    Always great professional information for the homebuyer. Thanks, Evan.

  2. FreeMoney says:

    Hilliard MacBeth on BNN’s “House Money”:

    “I saw this statistic, I don’t know if it’s correct but it sounds kind of incredible, that as many as half of all mortgages (in Canada) are going to reset in 2018. So if that’s true, then people are going to feel (the impact of rising interest rates) fairly quickly.”

    Claiming to have heard a statistic and just throwing it out there on national television. How irresponsible can you get?

    1. Chris says:

      I agree, one should probably should double check their statistics before presenting it on TV.

      That being said, he’s close to accurate. Bank of Canada figures from their quarterly review at the end of 2017 show 47% of mortgages up for renewal in 2018.

      1. Appraiser says:

        Link please.

    2. Say What? says:

      With 70% of Canadian mortgagors holding five-year mortgages, how is that number even remotely possible? Oh I know, Hilliard MacBeth reads “Better Dwelling ” articles regularly.

  3. retired broker Of A certain Age says:

    Recent information indicates that almost 68% of Canadians own a home. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/markets-houses-real-estate-1.4520046

    That is not the case in Toronto where 45% of Torontonians rent. http://rentalhousingindex.ca/

    Renting will soon surpass owning in Toronto based on condo investing alone. The sales mix is heavily weighted to that sector right now plus condo apartments are rented out at a much higher percentage rate than all other property types.

    Puts me in mind of this 2016 article about London England, where it was predicted that 60% of Londoners would be renting by 2025.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/property-market/12157946/Generation-Rent-London-to-become-a-city-of-renters-by-2025.html

  4. Paully says:

    Regarding the lock-box issue, is it really too much to expect that a listing agent could actually arrange to meet buyers and their agents at the property for the showing? At 2.5% split commission, you stand to make $15,000 on the sale of a hum-drum $600,000 condo. Maybe the listing agent could answer some questions from the prospective buyers at the time, or oh, I don’t know, actually work to sell the property?

    1. Kyle says:

      If i were a buyer, i would not want the Listing Agent around when i am viewing the house. I do not want to feel like i’m being sized up, i do not want him hearing any of my conversations between myself and my Agent, i do not want to feel rushed, and i certainly don’t want to have him tell me why i should buy the house.

      1. Natrx says:

        Maybe they could wait outside downstairs? Really, how many listings does an agent have at once? If people are expected to put in 9-5 to earn their keep, it wouldn’t be too much to ask selling agents to also stand by for properties such as this.

        1. Sarah says:

          Problem is, when you are doing sale volume such as David is… You might think all these agents do is tour people through the space & collect a paycheque. But speaking from personal experience – showings take A LOT of time. Having the LA at every showing is a big ask.

          1. Paully says:

            It may be a big ask, but 2.5% of the average million dollar property is also a big reward. A really busy agent could hire an assistant/associate to attend some of the showings.

    2. Michael says:

      I’ll second this. I wouldn’t want the listing agent in the unit or house as we looked around, but having them on site to answer questions immediately would be ideal for after the visit. Or to answer a specific question about something inside the unit or house. In my experience, nowadays the listing fees basically get you staging and the contact list of an agent…it could be much more and I think it’s a niche that could possibly have some potential.

    3. @ Paully,

      With respect, yes, that is way, way too much to ask.

      Properties are getting 15-20 showings per day.

      You’re basically asking the agent to live in the property for the entire duration of the listing. I’ve had 80-100 showings in a week for certain listings.

      Not only that, many showings are booked with little notice. 12:35pm – book a viewing for 1pm. How is the listing agent supposed to work with those parameters?

      Paully, it’s not about commission, although I can see how one might draw an inference between the two. I do it all the time.

      It’s about logistics, and what’s reasonable and necessary.

      1. Noglitz says:

        Sorry, Paully, but this is just another example of the “everyone is a lazy a**hole except me” syndrome. (File under “teachers”)

    4. cht says:

      I really appreciate the “depth” and the thought that goes into a comment like this. $15,000 sounds great, I agree. A few things to consider: costs of listing a place (staging, improvements, cleaning, photos, marketing materials such as brochures, flyers, etc. add the realtors time to prep paperwork, answer calls, deal with offers, and “be available” – and I’m sure we can disagree on how much anyone’s time is worth), then there are the fees/split to the brokerage, and then pay some income tax… you pocket maybe 6-7-8k. Have you thought of the cost of acquiring business? Whether it’s through door knocking, cold calling (time invested), online ads, print ads, blogging, or whatever… it costs money. Quite a bit. Oh and dues and fees to all those useless but necessary bodies. And you loose listings sometimes, or you work with/on a piece of business and it falls through. You’re not getting paid for that… By the way what do you do for a living and how much do you get paid? Let’s compare!

    5. phil says:

      You know that buyers often want to look at properties on short notice right? And they’re not always flexible with what times they have available.
      So how would that work? Would the listing agent just keep all of his schedule free, just in case a buyer who is in the area wants to look at the property? And what if it takes the listing agent 30 minutes to travel to the propety? Should he spend all of his day sitting outside the condo in case a buyer in the area wants to see the apartment on short notice?
      You might say “well the buyer can wait”. But that’s not realistic. Often they won’t and you will lose a lot of business.

      And no, you can’t hire an assistant to do your work for you. That is against the rules and you would receive a very large fine if you did.

  5. Chris says:

    I look forward to TREB’s upcoming release on January’s statistics, to see if it lends support to the assertion that “the market is starting to heat up again”.

    While I’m not a Realtor working in the trenches, and thus don’t have the insights that David has, recent media portrayals of the Real Estate market have not exactly painted it as being reminiscent of this time last year:

    https://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2018/01/29/how-a-softer-housing-market-has-crushed-pre-construction-home-buyers-dreams.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/volatile-housing-price-drop-1.4501010

    Granted, this is Whitby, not the City of Toronto, and is pre-construction not resale, but interesting nonetheless.

    1. Geoff says:

      That toronto star article made me want to puke. First, the sheer financial irresponsiblity being bragged about (I had a budget of $600K but whatever, I went up to $900K and wanh-it’s-not-my-fault I way over extended myself) and then the fact that she’s flabbergasted that prices can move in both directions. Is the star going to do an article on the (literally, millions) of people who bought stocks 2 weeks ago that are cheaper now too? Is that what journalism has become?

      1. Chris says:

        Agree 100%. There’s probably more to the story, but it is absurd to me that a bus driver overshot her budget by almost $400k on her third property.

        Both stories were written, it seems, as sympathetic to the buyers, yet almost all commentary I’ve seen has slammed them for being irresponsible and failing to realize that housing markets can go down. They just appear to be speculators who got burned and now want someone to blame.

        1. Kramer says:

          Sounds like her portfolio might have been just a tiny bit over-weight in real estate?

          1. Noglitz says:

            Whaaa! the TV I paid a grand for last year is $850 now! Compensate me, Sony!

    2. Chris says:

      January’s TREB GTA resale stats released http://www.trebhome.com/market_news/market_watch/2018/mw1801.pdf

      Sales: -22.0% y/o/y
      New Listings: +17.4% y/o/y
      Active Listings: +136.3% y/o/y
      Avg. Days on Market: +68.4% y/o/y
      Avg. Price: -4.1% y/o/y

      Not sure I would call these the hallmarks of a market eerily reminiscent of last year…but I suppose we’ll see as the next few months play out.

      1. Appraiser says:

        When comparing year over year numbers up against all-time records in terms of price acceleration and ultra-low listing inventory, you’re bound to have some skewed results. Very weak analysis.

        1. Chris says:

          Feel free to let TREB know that you don’t like their report!

          http://trebhome.com/contact/index.htm

          1. steve says:

            It seems that the sentiment has turned ….. 2018 is quickly turning into a buyer’s market.

          2. Appraiser says:

            The report is fine. Your take on it is amateurish and predictable.

          3. Noglitz says:

            @steve

            Not sure how you can make such a definitive statement based on such a small data sample. Kind of like saying yesterday’s stock meltdown (which looked much better at 4pm than at 2pm) signals a bear market. Not that no one has tried to make that “prediction.”

          4. Chris says:

            Appraiser, please explain to me how these statistics paint a picture of a market “eerily similar to last year”? Or are you just content to throw insults around?

          5. Kramer says:

            Average Price in City of Toronto January 2018 is $766,617, which is +5.3% (vs January 2017 $727,928).

            Price Change YOY By Segment:
            Detached -3.9% (25% of unit sales)
            Semi +3.8% (6% of unit sales)
            Condo Townhouses -8.6% (6% of unit sales)
            Condo Apartments +15.2% (59% of unit sales)
            Attached/Row/Townhouses +29.7% (3% of unit sales)

          6. Chris says:

            Kramer,

            Those stats show that Toronto (416) is holding up better than the GTA as a whole. In previous posts I had said I thought the 905 would suffer greater declines.

            However, I still don’t see anything that indicates to me that this year is “eerily similar to last year”, when the market was on fire. Maybe this will change as we move into Spring? But for now, the stats seem to point to a market not quite on par with that of 2017.

          7. Kramer says:

            My only point is that a lot has changed in the last 12 months.
            – a foreign buyer’s tax
            – tougher mortgage rules
            – interest rate hikes

            … and City of Toronto is still +5.3% in price.

            I’m not trying to debate anything you’re saying, just putting some data out there that isn’t in any of the articles that hit the wire today.

          8. Chris says:

            Fair points, Kramer!

  6. retired broker Of A certain Age says:

    Back in the day, we would leave a key or two at the nearest real estate office to the listing, where it could be signed out by a buyer agent, with reciprocal arrangements at most other brokerages. Very collegial atmosphere.

    Oh, and multiple offers were rare, I had hair, and the Leafs still hadn’t won the cup in forever.

  7. Agnese says:

    Would it be to much to ask for an article about the prices of what houses were listed at and actually sold for in the GTA, the ones that were either sold for crazy amounts over or under asking prices?

    1. Chris says:

      Agnese,

      Check out mongohouse.com, you can make a free account and then can see what houses were listed for and what they sold for, if they re-listed multiple times, what they previously sold for, etc.

      1. Daniel B says:

        In the Summerhill area there’s nothing for sale but was had come up seems to have gone for more or less what it would have got last spring.

        As for more anecdotes, friends are looking for a place anywhere central 416 and have reported that the open houses are nuts and prices are high (need $1.5m to get something move in condition. with the nice-to-haves (eg parking, enough bathrooms)).

        Owing to the fully exhausted topic of the problems with the market stats it’ll take some time to see where things are statistically. That said, the anecdotes suggest things heating up again.

      2. Agnese says:

        Thank you Chris much appreciated, will do.

        1. Agnese says:

          Thank you Daniel B, that is actually something I was wondering with regards to the 416 area.

  8. Pete says:

    I don’t understand the comment that solar panels are ugly. They’re sleek, modern, and have an inherent good vibe about them. I think it’s just that they’re uncommon. No doubt the first shingles were ugly to people who had only ever seen thatch.

    1. Noglitz says:

      Agree 100%. Similarly, I’m still flabbergasted whenever someone complains (usually in print/online rather than “face to face”) about how ugly wind turbines are. (Cue the “yes they damn well are!” responses.)

  9. Appraiser says:

    How praytell, was the lockbox issue resolved?

    Très ou·tré, n’est-ce pas?

TWEETS