Monday’s Quick Hits!

There’s something about a long weekend always leaves me “ready” to go back to work.  Is that odd?

Long weekends often leave the Toronto real estate market high and dry, and this weekend was no exception.

So without any ground-breaking stories from the weekend that was, let me gather a few smaller stories and off-topics for a Quick Hits to get us started this week.  A little this-and-that, some odds-and-sods, a few bits-and-pieces, and maybe a snippet or two…

QuickHitsBoxing

Easter Risk/Reward

Every year, we have the same conversation about whether or not to list your home before the Easter/Passover long weekend.

And every year, we’re fascinated with the single-family home owners that do.

It’s a risk/reward equation for sure, and one for which I could make an argument either way.

Consider that there’s an ever-present “chicken and egg” relationship between buyers and sellers.  The buyers are only active when there are properties to see.  The sellers only want to list when the buyers are out in full force.  This is why the single-family housing market is far more cyclical than the condo market, as families are more likely to take vacations in the summer after the completion of the school year, or go away for long weekends.

Buyers are away, and sellers are away.  The sellers aren’t selling because the buyers aren’t buying.

So as a seller, do you want to list your property before a long weekend, when you know a massive chunk of the buyer pool won’t be around to see it?

That’s the downside, of course.

The upside is that you’ll have far less competition.

We saw a handful of freehold properties listed last week, with offer dates on the Tuesday following Easter Monday.

It will be very interesting to see how these properties fare…

Lockbox Lament

I have a listing coming onto the market in one particular condo building downtown, where the board of directors has instituted new rules regarding lockboxes that are going to make things very tricky.

For years, lockboxes for this particular building were on the railing at the side of the building.  And over time, you’d see the lockboxes pile up, as Realtors neglected to come pick them up after the sale had closed.  I recall showing in this building a year ago, when there were about 15 lockboxes, and only one unit for sale.

The board of directors decided to act, and so they cut off ALL the existing lockboxes, and then determined that lockboxes must be kept in a designated area inside the front foyer of the building.

Totally reasonable, right?

Except that this is a very small, boutique building, with no concierge.

The board determined that with the unit key being kept inside the building, Realtors would gain access by using the intercom to buzz the owner.

See the problem here?

In this red-hot market, we might see 80 showings in a week.

That’s 80 times that the seller has to answer his or her phone, and buzz somebody into the building.

What if the seller wasn’t available?  What if he or she was in a meeting, or on a flight?

I understand the security issues here, and I understand that the world does not revolve around real estate showings.  I also know that many of you might say, “Tough luck.  It’s the seller’s responsibility to allow access to his unit, if he wants to sell!”

But every buyer that doesn’t get access to the building is a lost potential offer.

And it’s my job to maximize the sale value of the property.

So is it really breaking the rules, if you only break them for a week?

Location, Location, Location

Here’s an odd one…

There was a listing last week for a downtown loft, that had a set offer date, like most other properties in the city.

When it comes to the offer presentations, some agents do them in person, some do them by email.

When they’re in person, some agents do presentations at the property, and some do it at the brokerage.

In this case, the offers were being presented at the brokeage.

But the brokerage was in Markham!

How bizarre is that?

I can see holding offers for a King & Sherbourne property at Re/Max in the Beaches, or Royal LePage in The Kingsway.

But Markham?

On Wednesday night, to get there at 7:00pm, a downtown agent would have had to leave around 5:45pm.

We’re talking Elgin Mills here, folks.

Iwasn’t involved in this one.  I didn’t have a buyer, so I’m not complaining because I was somehow hard done by.

I just can’t understand the logic behind this.  It’s already problem-enough that the seller of this gorgeous loft hird an inexperienced, early-20’s agent who works in a completely different market to place his or her property on MLS with photos taken on an iPhone and spelling mistakes in the listing.  But why did the seller listen to the agent when he said, “We’ll hold offers 36 KM away from your condo?”

Not A Stickler For The Rules…

Every condominium corporation has a declaration, by-laws, and rules.

If you were to actually sit down and read through the entire package, you’d be shocked at how many by-laws and rules you’re breaking.

Two of the most-broken rules revolve around window coverings and flooring.

Think about your condo for a moment.  Consider how much hardwood or laminate flooring you have.

Now consider that in most condominiums built in the 2000’s, the Declaration states that “at least 65% of gross floor area must be covered by broadloom.”

And how many people do you think abide by that?

As for window coverings, here’s a recent example of a Status Certificate that a client and I went through:

Blinds

little aggressive, no?

The corporation may enter the Unit without such entry being trespass and remove the blinds and/or may fine the owner….”

WOW!

Seriously, can you envision a situation where property management hires a big dude in a yellow “SECURITY” jacket to accompany a handyman up to the unit, to enter with a master key, and rip out somebody’s curtain-rod?

I don’t understand by-laws like this.  They’re almost never enforced.

Maybe they just have to include them in case somebody wants to hang a 20 x 10 Coca-Cola banner in the window, or install purple drapes with flashing lights.

Billiard Balls & BBQ…

Do you have a pool table in your building?

If you do, would you agree that it kinda, sorta, maybe makes sense to keep the billiard balls down at the concierge, and have residents go “sign them out” to keep track of who is using (and abusing) the table?

I think we all wish that people are responsible enough to not lose one ball from the set that would render the set useless.  And I think short of keeping a video recording of what goes on in the room, having people sign out the billiard set is a way to know who is coming and going, and thus who spilled beer on the table, or sliced the felt with an awful miss of the cue ball, or broke a cue over their knee after a bad loss.

In lieu of a sign-out process, the condominium corporation would essentially have to build a maintenance cost into their budget every year, assuming somebody will do something stupid.

But what do you think about putting a chain on the common BBQ, complete with a padlock?

There are at least two condos that I know of that implement this “feature” in the building.

There is a BBQ on the rooftop terrace, but just like when you want to play billiards, you have to go to concierge, and sign the log!

You’re then handed  small key, which opens a MASTER padlock, which is attached to two large chains that wrap around the lid of the BBQ.

So put the key in the lock, unwrap the chains, and voila!  Just a cozy little dinner at your warm and inviting condo terrace.

What do you think, folks?

Is this overkill?  Or are we at the point where we just can’t trust people anymore?

Is the issue that people leave the BBQ dirty?  Or that they leave the gas on?  Or that they grew up in a household where the igniter button was always broken so they think you light a BBQ by turning the gas on, and throwing matches at it from ten feet away?

I think it’s a fair assumption that in order for a condominium corporation to get to this point, they must have had a major incident.

But that’s just my assumption.  Perhaps the board of directors are both just nuts…

A Breath of Fresh Air

Here’s something I’ve never seen before…

My buyer clients were bidding on a house two weeks ago, and upon reading through the home inspection, we realized that the Air Conditioner wasn’t inspected.

There were notes about the age of the unit, but the unit was, according to the inspection, “inaccessible.”

While I’m sure you’re not making mental notes of where the A/C units are located at your home, your mother’s house, your friends’ house, and the house next door, in your mind’s eye, you can picture the box-sized units sitting in front of the house, or elevated above the ground at the side of the house, or in the backyard.

Some people get creative, and build around the unsightly contraptions, whether they’re located in the front yard with the garden gnomes, or in the backyard next to the patio set.

And then some people, in trying to put the units out of sight, forget that you might, possibly, maybe, one day need to access the damn thing!

The house on which we bid had central air conditioning, but the unit was located under the back deck.  And unlike, well, every unit I’ve ever seen that’s under a back deck, this unit was completely inaccessible.  These geniuses built a goddam deck over-top of the unit!

Where’s the logic in that?  How did this come to pass?

In building a deck, you likely have a couple of trades-people who are outside measuring and cutting lumber, carefully planning, using levels, perhaps even pouring a concrete foundation.  So in the midst all of this skill and preparation, not once did these folks ever realize they were entombing the A/C unit?

In the end, the home inspector had to “take the sellers’ word for it,” and note that the A/C unit was present, when it wasn’t seen, and specify the age of the unit, according to the seller.

It’s something so seemingly insignificant, but any time I see something in this business for the first time, it’s worth noting.

So what lays ahead for the market now that we’re through Spring Break and the Easter/Passover long weekend?

I expect the market to pick up significantly this week, and we’re going to see a lot of new listings, right across the board, in every location, style, and price.

A lot of folks used this past weekend for the final clean-up or de-clutter of their homes, hoping the April market bears fruit.

I think the new inventory levels will be strong, and as a result, perhaps the downright insanity that exists in some segments of the market might dissipate.

Oh – and TREB stats will be released later this week.  I’m sure we’ll have a LOT to talk about…

10 Comments

Post A Comment

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

  1. Ayoob Kadir says:

    Before buying a second home, you need to make sure you have enough for the down payment. It is better to sell off the first home to pay for a down payment. Also keep in mind that you should be able to afford the home.
    http://ibuzzr.com/6-tips-to-buy-new-house/

  2. Condodweller says:

    “So is it really breaking the rules, if you only break them for a week?” Umm… Yes it is. I understand the “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission” principle, but it is still breaking the rules.

    ““The corporation may enter the Unit without such entry being trespass and remove the blinds and/or may fine the owner….””

    Most condo owners don’t realize but frequently there is a clause that allows entry for management to fix things the owner refuses to fix. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to give the owner the chance to fix something, otherwise, they will fix it for you. While it’s good dramatic writing flare to say the big security guy will rip it out for you, more likely the super/maintenance man will be accompanied by security who will remove it if it ever came to that. The $50/day is a bit much but then again what good are rules if they have no teeth and people will just break them for a week or two.

  3. Hank says:

    The barbecue situation is exactly why I would never live in a condo.

    I don’t know what would bother me more: the people who think it’s a good idea to put chains and a padlock on a barbecue, or the idiots who necessitate it!!!

    1. Natrx says:

      That’s among the many reasons not to live in a condo IMO. This idea of ‘self-policing’ is ripe for corrupt forces to take over the Board hence the out of control maintenance cost increases, special assessments, kick-backs.

    2. Condodweller says:

      The places I know of that lock their BBQs they do it because of the limited numbers available and to make it fair to everyone by making you book it by signing out the key. The problem tends to be that the time slots are so short that typically it’s only enough to cook the meal even though there is usually a table to eat there.

  4. A says:

    The Markham example can likely be explained by the owner hiring a “friend” or family member RE agent. It is not that far-fetched if that is true, although I agree with David that it is not optimal.

    1. Geoff says:

      I thought of that too.. but why make the offers be held in markham too. That’s a pain. It wouldn’t deter a serious buyer, but those not-so-serious buyers are really useful to sellers too.

  5. Daniel says:

    Quick question here: why does the media always have the latest TREB data before agents, and before TREB updates their market watch?

    1. @ Daniel

      You’re asking me to put my tin-foil hat on?

      I do believe that certain media members have contacts within TREB that results in the data being handed out early. Of course, it’s very possible that this is simply TREB protocol, but they haven’t ever freely stated this is the case.

      It might be in TREB’s best interest to have the media release the data before agents start splaying it across social media with their own (often incorrect) analyses of it.

    2. Ralph Cramdown says:

      Print media deadlines, plus a desire to control the spin.

TWEETS