Monday, January 31, 2011

Coming Home and an Aerial View of Chilliwack & Agassiz B.C.


The past two weeks have been an interesting time for me with conferences to attend, people to meet and trips to Ottawa, Toronto Ontario and Banff, Alberta.   Along the way I have listened economists, industry leaders and everyday people like myself, I have to admit, I have learned a lot.  Hopefully some of it will make me a better person if not a more knowledgeable real estate professional. The more interesting bits I hope to share with you in coming posts.

To do this I had to come home and yesterday it turned out to be a spectacular day to be in the air.

Cascade Mountains, British Columbia

With my pocket digital camera I took these pictures of Chilliwack and Agassiz and was once impressed by the beauty of the Fraser Valley the mountains, rivers and lakes.

Chilliwack, British Columbia- Aerial View

Agassiz, British Columbia - Aerial View
I am happy to be home again and back to my Chilliwack Fraser Cheam real estate work as the Chinese writer and inventor once said:

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."  Lin Yutang

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Mortgage Regulations - A Bit of a Relief


The Federal government today announced three loan financing changes designed to stem concerns about rising consumer debt and the fears of  Canadian defaulting on loans should interest rates rise in the future. They are, quoting the government release:

The new measures:
  • Reduce the maximum amortization period to 30 years from 35 years for new government-backed insured mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of more than 80 per cent. This will significantly reduce the total interest payments Canadian families make on their mortgages, allow Canadian families to build up equity in their homes more quickly, and help Canadians pay off their mortgages before they retire.
  • Lower the maximum amount Canadians can borrow in refinancing their mortgages to 85 per cent from 90 per cent of the value of their homes. This will promote saving through home ownership and limit the repackaging of consumer debt into mortgages guaranteed by taxpayers.
  • Withdraw government insurance backing on lines of credit secured by homes, such as home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs. This will ensure that risks associated with consumer debt products used to borrow funds unrelated to house purchases are managed by the financial institutions and not borne by taxpayers
A link to this announcement can be found at here.

It was great news to learn that the government did not increase the minimum downpayment requirement which had been under consideration.  A downpayment change would have had serious market consequences as written about in the last posting on this blog.  The reduction of the amortization period to 30 years is certainly an improvement as well, a deeper adjustment to 25 years had been under consideration.  Further, it seems to apply only to mortgages that have loan to value ratios of over 80 percent.

All in all, I am pleased with these measures, and, I want to thank all those that sent letters to their MPs Members of Parliament - I like to think that our very real concerns were heard. These measures should help ensure that Canadians invest wisely and will not purchase too much home for either their incomes or for the economic times.

(Sigh of relief)

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chilliwack Real Estate Market Review and Analysis December 2010


Call to Action - Write Your MP - Buyers Start Looking Now

It is ironic, to some degree, for me to look at the struggle the year 2010 was then learn that Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty is considering further Federal regulations that will once again cool off the very fragile real estate market we have been working through since the last bout of Federal tinkering.  My sources tell me that the Federal government is planning to raise down payment requirements to 10% and to shorten amortization periods from 35 years to 25 years. These changes will have the biggest impact on new purchasers and will force young families right out of the market entirely.

We can expect many real estate markets including the one here in Chilliwack to fall into a new downward spiral crushing home ownership dreams, impacting the economy (once again) and homeowners alike. More simply, the results of these proposed changes will be fewer buyers, lower prices and longer periods to sell your property, if at all. If you are as concerned, as I am, about these threats then contact your local Members of Parliament.  No postage is required if sending a letter to your MPs Ottawa office.  I have sent mine in, please, do your part.  Chilliwack is represented by a pretty reasonable guy, Chuck Stahl, I am hoping he will listen.

MP Chuck Strahl
Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6


Real Estate Review and Analysis - January 9, 2011

SINGLE FAMILY HOUSES

I was quite encouraged by the sales numbers that I was seeing midway through the month of December 2010 as they were significantly better than that same period in other years.  I found out that one reason for the uptick was an impending increase in interest rates was encouraging buyers to commit so that they could take advantage of lower mortgage rates.  Whether this momentum will continue now is questionable.

This surge in activity largely by first time buyers more sensitive to interest rate changes has an impact also on what is being purchased and as a result the average sale price was substantially lower this month $288,000 compared to $341,000 in November.  We can expect the average sale price to seemingly increase in upcoming months but this will be due the blend of buyers returning to normal and higher priced properties one again being acquired.

There were 79 sales of Chilliwack* single family houses in the month of December 2010 as compared to a 10 year December average of  85 sales for December (2000-2009).  Another way of looking at this would be to say that the December 2010 market was operating at about 93% of the 10 year norm.  Encouraging to some small degree as the November real estate market was operating at about 3/4 speed.  Still a long ways down from anything in the 2002-2006 periods but it is all about "green shoots" isn't it.

If we look back at the beginning of 2010, there was a very game Chilliwack real estate market operating at about 85-98% efficiency as well and then a huge drop off starting in July when all of a sudden the market plummets, to a 60% efficiency rate. (This type of drop could happen again if the Federal Minister implements the suggested changes mentioned at the top of this post.)  A number of concerns were raised by this column in March 2010, about the then still to be implemented, federal initiatives designed to cool off the market: tougher new lending requirements, rising interest rates and the HST.  This blog thought that the Chilliwack real estate market was still too fragile and felt that these policies designed to cool off real estate markets in the major metropolitan areas would have an adverse local effect; sadly, this appears to have been the case. Unfortunately, we could be looking at round two, courtesy of the Federal Government; - did I mention that you should write your MP?

Chilliwack* Single Family Detached Housing Sales Report - December 2011
MONTH Sales Average Sale Price Days on Market Active Listings
December 2010  79 $288,000 67 707
November 2010  83 $341,000 83 914
December 2009  87 $351,000 69 n/a

Median Price of Active Chilliwack* Single Family Detached Real Estate Listings: January 9, 2011 - $375,000

STRATA HOMES

MONTH Sales Average Sale Price Days on Market Active Listings
Dec   2010  41 $208,000 88 416
Nov  2010  39 $201,000 77 524
Dec   2009  49 $228,000 70 n/a

Median Price of Active Chilliwack* Strata Real Estate Listings: January 9, 2011 - $214,900

The Chilliwack real estate market for Strata Homes saw 41 sales in December 2010 compared to a 10 year (2000 - 2009) December average of 42. Not bad as mentioned the increase in mortgage interest charges made the entry level properties much more attractive in December. Sale numbers were also slightly above November sale numbers of 39 as was the average sale price.



Notes:
Review and analysis of the Chilliwack* real estate market from the armchair of Stephen Mullock a 30 year Chilliwack real estate agent and a professional member of the Real Estate Institute of British Columbia.

This review and analysis looks at two areas of the Chilliwack* residential real estate market, that of single family detached houses, and, strata homes (apartments, townhouses, duplexes) for the month of December 2010.  This post will be of interest to buyers and sellers in the Chilliwack real estate market, real estate professionals and the curious.

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.