August was a HOT month!


We kept hearing rumblings that the hot market of the last few years was drawing to a close. The stats for August from the Woodstock & Ingersoll Real Estate Board tell a very different story. The cause for some of the rumours were caused by a select few in the industry. There have been some listings over the last couple of years that were listed for a substantial amount under value. This was done less to spur multiple offers (as a small amount under listing would have had the same effect) and done more as a selling tool to get additional listings. Realtors could go to the next listing appointment and tell stories of how they sold houses for 20, 30, 50 up to 90,000 more than list price. The truth of the matter is that this was a game of smoke and mirrors as most listings were selling  by as little as a few thousand and up to 10-15 thousand over value on average. And the value is what matters!

Now the industry has to dig out from under these stories as sellers are routinely expecting to get tens of thousands of dollars over their homes actual value and the ones that try this approach suffer and sit on the market. Properly priced listings are moving quickly and offer higher year-over-year gains than at any other time over the last few years!

Here are the important stats:

The average residential sale in August 2017 was $325,541.89. In August 2018 that was up to $387,897.78. An increase of just over 18%. The increase from August 2016 to August 2017 was just over 7%.

August of this year is the biggest month since July of 2017.

There were only 113 new residential build permits for 2018 in Oxford County. That is way down. In 2o17 there were 207 and 211 in 2016. Less competition from builders means more buyers for the resale market.

The list to sale ratio (the number of houses listed in a given month compared to the number sold in the same time period) for Woodstock in August was 85%. That is a great number. 65 houses listed and 55 sold. This proves that there are buyers for listings that are properly priced. In Ingersoll the number is even crazier. Their ratio is 140%! 15 houses listed and 21 sold. These are the kinds of numbers driving a seller's market and pushing prices higher.

Numbers like these are what homeowner's want to see. And if you are looking to get into the market, now is the time as the numbers all point to a continuing seller's market meaning the sooner you get in, the sooner you can start making money on your purchase. And if you are looking to move up to a larger home, the time is now. Homes go up in percentages, so the $300,000 and $600,000 homes both went up around 18%. Which means the gap is growing. And the same as a new homebuyer, the sooner you move up to that dream home, the sooner you can be putting the gains on that larger home in your pocket as opposed to paying someone else those gains when you decide to make the move in the future!

If you have any questions about the info in this article, or any other questions you have about buying or selling, please reach out to Tracey or Marshall today.

When it comes to real estate, SPRING has SPRUNG!


When we meet with sellers in the cold months of winter it is common to hear "We want to sell but we want to wait until the Spring market." The thought process is understandable. There are typically more buyers in the Spring market, but the flip side of the coin is that there are also more sellers. Real Estate also stubbornly refuses to follow a traditional calendar. 

The most important thing to know for a seller is when should I sell my house. And the answer can be found in the numbers. The best time to sell is always when there is low inventory compared to the number of active buyers in the market. And the numbers tell us that Spring is here now and in a very strong way!

If we start with the average price of a home sold in January of 2018 in Oxford County the number is $369,607.26. Nothing wrong with that number at all, but when we look back to January of 2017, we see that same number was $326,821.01. That's an increase of over $40,000 in just 12 months.

The next question is why? And the numbers give us the answer once again! There were only 68 home sales in Oxford County in January 2018 compared to 109 in January 2017. This was because of constrained inventory with a great stream of active buyers. The simple laws of supply & demand come into play. When many buyers want to purchase an item that is in short supply, prices rise. There were 94 new listings in Oxford County this past January. When you look at the number of homes sold in the same period, the picture is completely clear!

So the Spring market has arrived very early this year! If you are thinking of selling your home this year, the timing could not be better than right now. None of us has a crystal ball, but Spring (the calendar one!) normally sees an influx of listings. We have recently seen the return of buyers from the east in force and they are ready to buy homes in our area. We are also starting to see the return of offer days and multiple offers on properties again that we haven't been seeing much of for several months. 

If you would like to know more on how the current state of the market can be leveraged into getting you top dollar for your home, please contact any member of The Sherman Group. We look forward to answering all of your questions and helping in any way we can!

Happy Spring!

(no matter what the groundhog says...)

December a real estate gift


It will come as no surprise that the local housing market has been on a rocket ride for the better part of two years. A large chunk of this was due to buyers from the east travelling down the 401 and 403 in search of the Canadian Dream. And they found it in Oxford County! Cheap housing compared to the markets they were leaving as well as so many of the amenities they had become accustomed to. 

We noticed a significant reduction in the amount of out-of-town buyers that we were seeing in our Open Houses in August and September. There was also a steep decline in requests for home showings from this particular pool of buyers. This can be most readily attributed to uncertainty on the part of buyers and what was going to happen with the Federal governments new mortgage rules. Buyers wanted to make sure that if there was a decline in average home values, that they wouldn't be left holding the bag. What actually did happen was the return of a more balanced market. Home values held and multiple offers became more of an anomaly instead of the norm. 

The Federal stress test, in very simple terms, means that a buyer with less than a 20% downpayment would need to be approved at a mortgage rate about 2% higher than what they would actually be borrowing at. Your lender offers you a mortgage rate of 3.44%, you would need to qualify at roughly 5.44%, even though you would be borrowing the money at the lower rate. The result is that buyers can borrow about 20% less than they could under previous mortgage rules. This is the governments attempt to make sure homeowners can afford the homes they are purchasing when interest rates inevitably rise.

That brings us to the Gift this December appears to be. As of January 1, 2018, the stress test described above will apply to ALL consumers borrowing money for a mortgage (except credit unions and private lenders). There is also a predicted .5% interest rate looming in 2018. To avoid the stress test, buyers just need to have a mortgage deal in place by the 31st of December.

If you are thinking of selling, now is a great time to enter the market, even though traditionally Christmas is a slow market. These looming changes have brought Eastern buyers back to Oxford County at levels not seen in several months. The other upside is sellers can be approved on the purchase of their next home with the current mortgage rules if everything comes together in December. The deals do not need to close in December, they just need to be firm sold deals and can close in 2018.

If you are a new buyer thinking of getting into the market, and you have done all the hard work of saving a 20% deposit, buying in December will allow you to purchase 20% more home than you will be able to purchase under the impending new rules. You still have an opportunity to put those hard earned savings into your new home!

If you have any questions about this article, or any other Real Estate questions, please contact a member of The Sherman Group. We are always here to answer all of your questions and concerns.

Is the Woodstock housing boom over? Remember: Location, Location Location!

Ontario has been on a rocket ride over the last couple of years when it comes to housing! The City of Woodstock has been right in the thick of things. Recently, buyers and sellers have seen a softening of the market and are questioning what the future holds. None of us holds a crystal ball, but we see Woodstock and Oxford County as a fantastic investment moving forward. No market can sustain the year-to-year gains that we have seen recently. The recent slow down has several contributing factors, and a return to a more level playing field is a good thing for a healthy market.

Toronto - Many think that the hot Toronto market has been the only contributing factor to housing prices here at home. Although the Toronto market has certainly been a force in the market, pushing consumers further from home in search of affordable properties. The recent government intervention has certainly been showing signs of cooling that market, although many experts would argue that the signs were there of the market levelling off without the government measures. When you look at the areas further from Toronto, you actually see that the further a market is from Toronto, the less the market has cooled. This is because there are always multiple factors driving any market. The Toronto market does have an effect on our local market, but it is not the whole picture.

Foreign Buyers Tax - Many foreign buyers have been investing in Toronto and surrounding areas for years. And they have made a lot of money! The recent 15% tax has made them start looking at other markets. The border for this tax extends from the Golden Horseshoe all the way to Waterloo and Brant counties. But not to Oxford County! We have essentially become a tax haven for foreign investors. And they know a good thing when they see it.

Summer - We have been in such a strong Seller's market for such a long time, it is hard to remember the traditional ebbs and flows of the real estate market. Summer is traditionally a slower period, as is January because of Christmas holidays and debt load. We are seeing a much more traditional summer than the past couple as the market stabilizes a bit. We will see what happens as we head back into late Summer/ early Fall.

Recent Sales - The Woodstock-Ingersoll & District Real Estate Board recorded near record sales in April, falling just one sale short of breaking a 12-year old record. The average home sale price was $355,135, up 31.6% from the previous year. There was a new all-time record set in May. There was also a record low amount of inventory in May. These numbers point to a market that buyers are still very much interested in. Properly listed homes are still selling in a relatively short amount of time.

Future Industrial Development - The City of Woodstock is currently in the process of attempting to annex a large portion of real estate on it's Eastern and southern borders. The purpose is to develop new industrial land packages as current supplies within city limits are in short supply. Woodstock is in an ideal location for industry because of its location on the 401/403 corridors. We are also within a two hour drive to almost all major manufacturing centres in Ontario plus the US border. As was seen with the addition of Sysco and Toyota, this type of development can have a major positive impact to the value of real estate independent of what is happening in neighbouring markets. High paying jobs bring in buyers willing to spend money on housing.

Future Residential Development - Because of such intense interest from buyers wanting to get into the Woodstock market, we almost ran out of residential building lots with many builders being well over a year to get a buyer into a new home. The City of Woodstock is attempting to annex land on its west side from the County of South-West Oxford. We desperately need new lands added for new construction to compliment the new areas recently added in the 11th line area. Buyers want to be here and builders need land to bring them in. On the upside for resellers, the lack of new construction lots, the long timelines and the high price tags make resale properties look better than ever.

Location, Location, Location - We Realtors always talk about location, because it's almost always the most important factor in buying real estate. When it comes to the City of Woodstock, we have location in spades. All of the above factors point to a market that will make for a great place to invest for years to come! 



The Reality of "Sold Over Asking".

There are so many stories of homes that have sold for 70, 80, 90, even 100,000 dollars over the asking price. It makes the current market confusing for both buyers and sellers. And a lot of it is smoke and mirrors. Don't get me wrong, it is a strong seller's market in Oxford County, with many sellers hitting home runs when it comes to offer day! But many times, the stories being told, although true, are missing critical information.

This is where "Sold Over Asking" needs to be addressed. We should be talking about "Sold Over True Value". In the current market, the list price can be almost irrelevant. Realtors are listing homes with a soft list price. If we think the home is worth, $500,000, we might list the home at $480,000. This exposes the home to as many buyers as possible. When offer day comes, buyers will offer as much as they think the home is worth. If we received 5 offers in this scenario, and a couple of offers are over the $500,000, and they probably will be, everyone is happy! If we receive an offer of $510,000, we just sold the home for $30,000 over asking price, but the home sold for $10,000 over VALUE! And that is the critical missing piece of information.

If the same property were to be listed at $430,000, it would sell for $80,000 over the asking price, but still only $10,000 over VALUE! Nothing has changed except the list price. Oh, and one more thing, the story has changed. The Realtor has a great story to tell, and the seller could not be happier!

Soft pricing is good for the seller, but listings a home with an overly soft price can poison the minds of buyers and sellers. I have heard of sellers turning down fantastic offers for their homes because they didn't get $60,000 over their asking price. And it is because of these stories. The truth is, their home was listed with a proper list price. The offers they received were great offers. But these offers were turned down, the school of buyers moved on, and their home sat for a week. And the next offers were lower than the original offers received. All because of the "Over Asking" stories they had heard.

For buyers, it is even harder! What do you offer on a home when you don't know what it is really worth? Do you go over asking by $20,000 or $100,000. Most buyers need to be looking at homes that are listed $40-50,000 less than what they actually are approved for so they have room to offer over asking. If the soft prices were all closer to reality this would be an easier market for them to deal with. Not all Realtors are listing severely under market value, but it is difficult for buyers to know when they are and what is happening from one listing to the next. It is frustrating and confusing!

A great local Realtor can help with this. We are in the market every day with buyers and sellers and we can help weed through the myths and legends! It is hard for us to even show good comparables right now due to the vast swings, property to property, between list and sale price. But we can help you understand VALUE! Again, some homeowners are truly hitting home runs on offer day. And usually it is an offer from an out-of-town buyer that is being represented by someone that does not truly understand the market. If you are a buyer, you need someone to lead you away from these situations and help you understand what homes are truly worth. 

The market does seem a bit like the Wild West right now. But there are strategies and information that can make it easier to understand and deal with. The truth is out there...

Ontario Home Sale Trends (Looking into 2017)

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) recently released their sales statistics for Ontario for the month of October. New sales records were set, and it looks like we will be maintaining a strong seller's market into the foreseeable future.

There were 20,583 units sold in October 2016. This was an increase of 8.9% from at the previous year. This set the highest October sales figure to date.  This is also the first time that more than 20,000 units were sold in Ontario in the month of October. 

Provincial home sales were up 9.7% over the first 10 months of 2015. As of October, 216,028 homes have been sold in Ontario in 2016 and the industry is on track to set a new annual record. The provincial average sale price for a home was up 19% from at the previous October. New listings on MLS® was down 2.6% in the same time period. And thus sets in the law of supply and demand. Less homes on the market with a good supply of buyers means that home prices are still on the rise. Active residential listings were down 29.8% over the previous October. Supply is at near record lows.

At the end of October, there was just two months of existing inventory. This was down from 3.2 months from the previous October. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

Although conventional thinking would lead people to think they should "wait until Spring" if they are thinking of selling their home, that is not necessarily true in the current marketplace. The market is still strong with buyers, and inventory is down. That all adds up to it being a fantastic time to sell. We in the industry are truly having trouble finding homes for our buyers because of the very limited inventory. 

Please give Tracey or I a call if you have any questions about how this market would benefit you in the sale of your home in Oxford County.

The Possible Danger of an Exclusive Listing

We are certainly living in a seller's market right now! I was recently in a course and learned of a new practice that is questionable as to how it serves home sellers. I want to start by saying that the practice of selling your home in an Exclusive Listing in the current market may possibly serve you well. I just want to bring to your attention a very real potential danger.

In a hot seller's market, many sellers are seeing offers well above their asking price if their home is properly priced and marketed. We have been seeing this all year in Oxford County. Many buyers have needed to make offers on several homes before being the successful bidder. In this type of market, it is almost always in a seller's interest to have their home listed on the open market with many potential buyers being exposed to their listing.

Now, lets talk about why an exclusive listing may be bad for you. What if I, as a realtor, were to approach you and tell you that I would list your home exclusively, meaning only me and my office had access to showing it, and I would do that for a 3.5 or 4 % commission. I already have a buyer ready to go and I think I can sell your house this week. I am cutting you a break from my usual 5% commission. Sounds great, right? No muss, no fuss, and you are SAVING money. The question is, are you really?

Let's now imagine that you are willing to sell your house for $250,000. At 4%, I am saving you $2,500 dollars. At 3.5%, I am saving you $3,750 dollars. That's not pocket change. Great savings!

But now we need to factor the market back in. If your home is truly worth $250,000, what might the offer be on the open market? There is a very good chance that you get at least asking price. But now we are on the open market. Your home is on MLS. Multiple offices are showing the property. What if you get into multiple offers? What if your home goes for $5,000 over asking? $10,000? Or maybe even more. 

Selling your home in an exclusive listing just took away that possibility. You may have left a bunch of money on the table. Just make sure that you make the right decisions for YOU in this market. Don't miss out on an opportunity because of what your Realtor says. Being listed exclusively might be the best thing for you, but in the end, in this market, it probably isn't!

Please give a member of The Sherman Group a call if we can be of assistance in any way. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about Excusive Listings or any real estate related questions you may have.