Oasis Realty Brokerage, Ottawa Real Estate
Gord McCormick Ottawa, ON K2S0H6
Phone: 613-435-4692 Mobile: 613-371-9691 Fax: 613-435-4698

Competition Bureau vs Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB)

…or... “you can have our data when you pry it from our cold, dead hands!

In what may result in a watershed ruling affecting real estate historical listing information, the Competition Bureau Tribunal will be conducting hearings in both Toronto and Ottawa over the next few weeks to determine how much listing data can be provided by online real estate marketing companies.  This matter has been winding its way through various regulatory and legal processes for some 4 years now, including the Supreme Court-which refused to hear the matter.

What does the Bureau want?
The Bureau wants MLS® listing and sold data to be more widely available to consumers and 3rd party online marketers like Trulia and Zillow in the US.  This would allow more information for both buyers and sellers and a new range of online services.  Currently, Realtors control this data and provide it to their customers or prospects.
The Bureau argues that TREB (and by extension MLS® as a whole) uses its monopoly over access to this listing data to prevent new services and business models and that consumers have a right to access this data without having to go through an MLS® REALTOR® member, as is the case in some other countries.

NB.  The issue fundamentally relates to historical “sold” data and listings, as active listings are already widely distributed to the online 3rd party real estate community via the MLS® Distributed Data Facility (DDF).

What is organized real estate’s position?
Organized real estate feels very strongly that historical listing data is proprietary to MLS® members as they have assembled/created and paid for the whole system that collects, aggregates, stores and distributes the listing data.  Listing data goes far beyond simple listing and selling prices and includes photos, videos, room sizes, special features etc.

This comprehensive data set is what is necessary to form any kind of baseline for pricing a property to be listed in future.  Simply having the selling price of a property without all the ancillary information included in a typical MLS® listing is fairly meaningless and is already available to the public via MPAC (up to 24 properties in Ontario) or the local land registry office.(for a small fee)

Organized real estate also argues that even private sellers (for-sale-by-owner or FSBO sellers) have access to comparable sold data, as the major FSBO sales organizations are generally affiliated with a real estate brokerage that can provide that information.  FSBO sellers can also have their properties posted on MLS® subsequent to a previous agreement between the Bureau and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

We believe the bottom line on the whole exercise is “…let’s not try to fix what’s not broken”.

Which side would the public support?
We suspect most members of the public with only a cursory knowledge of the issue might choose to support the Bureau and hope that the Tribunal decision forces the MLS® membership to make sold listing data widely available without REALTOR® involvement or engagement.  However, it is a complex matter and the results of such a change may have some unintended consequences that may not serve the consumer well at all.  Our current MLS® system is the envy of many around the world and provides a strong centralized national and regional platform for the distribution of listings for sellers and easy access to those active listings for buyers. (without commercial messages or advertising on www.realtor.ca )  Furthermore comparable sold data is readily available for both sellers and buyers from a large and diverse REALTOR® population who compete via a variety of business models for consumer business.  We believe the consumer is well served by the current system.

Be careful what you wish for...
While there may be some positive aspects of wider access to MLS® sold listing information for consumers, if such a change ultimately resulted in a significant change to the MLS® landscape both consumers and real estate professionals would be poorly served.  We hope the Tribunal considers all possible consequences in rendering its decision.

Our belief is that by and large professional real estate is fairly intractable on this issue, so who can say what may transpire if the Tribunal rules against TREB?

Stay tuned for news coming out of Ottawa on this issue, as it remains to be seen whether this will simply be another skirmish between the Competition Bureau and organized real estate or if in fact it will be a decisive battle. 

NB: we offer this note as our personal opinion only as experienced real estate brokers and not as representatives of any Association, Board or entity, as we do not have detailed knowledge of the legal complexities nor do we represent organized real estate in any way, concerning this matter.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692  www.oasisrealtyottawa.com

Ottawa real estate market report Sept. 7th, 2015

Ottawa real estate has had a pretty good summer all things considered, though prices are still pretty flat and we still have some listing inventory concerns, August was a pretty good month with decent unit sales increases for both residential properties and condos.  Sellers may have compromised on price expectations, as both residential properties sold were flat and the average condo sold during the month was down 7.3% compared to 2014.

Year-to-date performance:
Residential unit sales are up 5.3% YTD and the average selling price is up 1.9% to $395,437.
Condo unit sales are down slightly by .5% YTD and the average selling price is down by 1% to $260,017.

Listing inventory:
Residential listings continue to run at quite high levels with the number of listings currently reported by the Board being 31.8% higher than the 5 year average.  The number of current condo listings is 52% higher than the 5 year average.
We can expect to see continued price pressure with these listing inventory levels, particularly in the $500K+ market for residential properties and $300K+ condo market, where we have a fair amount of excess inventory.

Are some sellers leaving the market?
There may be an indication that some sellers are leaving the market, as the month of August showed a very high level of listing expiries, cancellations and withdrawls.  This number in August is 49.7% higher than the 5 year average for residential and 74.9% for condos and might mean some sellers are rethinking their marketing plans or waiting to relist at a later date, perhaps even next spring.

Some sellers may also be selling now and renting, as they await a new construction home or simply to ensure they get their existing properties sold prior to purchasing another. 

Rental transactions involving Realtors are way up this year so many sellers may also be looking to rent their properties if they cannot secure a satisfactory sale.

September and October the best time to sell before next March:
Fall business is steady in September and October but starts to fall off in November, so sellers will want to plan accordingly.  With properties generally taking longer to sell in our current market, the best time window for getting a property on the market is now!

If you are not working with another Realtor and would like to discuss your plans for a fall, winter or spring/summer 2016 sale, please give us a call.  613-435-4692 It is never too early to plan your housing strategy.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com

Is fall a good time to buy or sell in Ottawa?

Our peak real estate season is fading with the last weeks of summer but what is the outlook for those looking to buy or sell in the fall market?

Business steady if unspectacular in Sept and Oct:
As one can see from the table below, September and October continue to provide reasonable sales activity, although unit sales are off 30-40% compared to the peak sales months of April through July.

Short “runway” for fall sales:
Sellers should be aware of sales activity levels and competition for their listing, as the steady fall sales level diminishes considerably after the end of October and we hit the winter doldrum months (Nov-Feb) which is our weakest period for real estate in Ottawa. Sales drop off another 20-40% during the winter months.
Sellers will also want to consider the average days-on-market (time to sell) in planning their listing and sale.  Current average year-to-date is 47 days for residential properties and 59 days for condos.

Listing inventory continues at elevated levels:
Lots of inventory out there overall and generally the market is overbalanced in the higher price ranges ($500K+) 81% of all residential sales this year have sold at $500,000 or less and 95.7% below $750,000. Competitive listings and other market factors are critical areas for a seller to review regularly with their Realtor. 

Tough seller questions:
do I drop my price? do I do some reno's on my existing property to enhance marketability? do I pull my listing off the market and bring it out at a later date? do I try another form of marketing altogether?  What are my overall objectives and how best can I optimize or mitigate these objectives, given the current market situation? Will the market be better or worse down-the-road? What is the opportunity cost of not selling now?

How are buyer prospects this fall?
Buyers who do not have a property to sell are certainly in a good position this year, given the excess listing inventory, as some sellers may have to adjust their price expectations to get a deal done in view of both resale and builder competition.  While new listing activity diminishes along with sales activity, there is a very good chance that some price action might occur on a currently listed property that will make it a more reasonable prospect for a buyer.  Buyers will want to watch pricing closely and be sure to have an auto notification set up with their Realtor to ensure they see list price changes the same day as the Realtors and before they hit the public MLS® sites, as these properties may sell quickly, once a price change has been completed.

See table below which shows unit sales history by month which has been pretty similar over the last 4 years.
















































































how might election results impact Ottawa real estate?

As we reach the halfway mark in a hotly contested (and for us, lengthy) Federal campaign, we were wondering what the election outcome might mean for our local real estate market.  Though few can have an accurate crystal ball on this issue, we did a little history checking and offer some thoughts on the matter:

Price growth history:
The good….
2004-2011 was a period where we had minority Federal governments in power and this was a pretty good time for Ottawa real estate.  Average prices during this period rose some 45.8% to $343,701.

Ottawa also fared pretty well under a Liberal majority government between 1999 and 2004 where average prices rose from $149,650 to $235,678 a whopping 57.5% increase.

….and not so good:
Ottawa had not fared so well under Liberal majority governments from 1993-1999 when the Chretien Liberals decimated spending and public service headcount to balance the Federal budget.  Average prices in this 6 year period rose a total of just 1% from $148,129 to $149,650.

In the first years of the Chretien majority government housing transactions in Ottawa dropped by almost 30%, reflecting the drastic change in the local economy when the government was slashing budgets and personnel to react to a large deficit and a recession.

Current Market:
The current Conservative government elected with a majority in 2011 have curtailed government spending and headcount growth here in Ottawa to balance the budget and as a result our market has slumped somewhat during this time.  In fact, 2011 was our last solid year of average selling price growth which saw prices increase by 5.2%.  From 2011 to present, we have seen average price growth of only 8.6% total over the 3 and a half year period.

Bottom line:
A government that is not focused on balancing the budget or believes in “tax and spend” for new programs, is best for our local real estate market, as bigger government and more spending is generally good news for the Ottawa area economy.

Though we have fared well under both majority and minority governments, it is our view that a minority government is probably the safest, as there is less chance for drastic change in government management that could be made by a majority government and spending and head count are unlikely to be severely threatened.

You guess is as good as ours about what it going to happen in mid-October but at this stage it appears the many possible outcomes are unlikely to hurt our local real estate market and in fact, it is most likely we will see more spending rather than less.

Is buying Ottawa property to house a visiting student a good idea?

Over the years we have assisted many out of town buyers looking to purchase homes or condos to provide housing for their children who are coming to Ottawa to attend one of our large and growing post-secondary colleges or universities.

With limited on campus residences and cost factors in mind, many parents have bought apartments, townhomes or homes to accommodate student needs and also as an investment or cost offset.

Many have successfully bought and then sold several years later and either made some money or minimized the cost of accommodating the student during their years here in Ottawa. 

Once a “slam dunk”….
For most of the new millennium, this practice has been pretty positive, particularly for those who have rented out rooms to other students as well as their own children and those parents who have more than one child who will be living in Ottawa during the same period.

Now that we are in a period where prices have not been advancing at 5%-7+ annually, as they did during the 2000-2011 timeframe, this practice is no longer the “slam dunk” it was for many parents.  We recently completed a sale for an out of town family (now moving to Ottawa themselves) who bought in 2010 in a strong seller’s market and were able to sell this year but only appreciated a very small increase in the price of the property from what they had paid 5 years earlier.  While this was disappointing, these owners had kept the property well rented out to other students during the 5 years of ownership and therefore, still came out pretty well financially, despite the limited uptick in the value of the property.

Do you want your university age child to bear the burden of ownership and property management?
Some out of town parents may not wish to burden their children with the responsibilities of managing and maintaining the property; collecting rent, divvying up utility costs, being a disciplinarian and so forth, in addition to their school work and perhaps part time job.  Other parents may deem this a good “learning experience” and see it is as an opportunity.

Many factors to consider:
Those considering the purchase of such a property here in Ottawa should carefully research all financial factors in buying and selling in a remote city and the best source of information is a local Realtor who can assist with competitive issues, neighbourhood choice, property choice, local rules, buying and selling costs and so forth.  This practice is certainly no longer a “slam dunk” in our competitive buyer’s market and should not be undertaken too casually.

For more information or to discuss particular circumstances, feel free to give us a call if you are not already working with another Realtor.

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage
613-435-4692  oasisrealty@rogers.com


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Ottawa listing inventory highest in 12 years!

Many sellers face stressful summer in Ottawa real estate
June sales results were generally positive with increases in residential unit sales and average prices but listing inventory continues to grow and make life miserable for many sellers (especially condo sellers).  Unit sales and prices for residential properties are up slightly but condo unit sales are down 21% compared to last June and down 15.8% based on a 5 year average for year-to-date sales.

Residential sales are up about 4% year-to-date compared to both the 5 year and 10 year averages at the end of June.

Prices in both property categories are very modest on a year-to-date basis with the average residential property posting a 1.7% increase to $398,051 and the average condo price sold this year is $263,843 for an increase of .5%. 

Listing inventory may be the highest ever! Condos double 10 year average, residential +39.2%
We checked back as far as our available stats permit and our current inventory levels are the most for any month during the last 12 years.   Though our demand level is reasonable overall, there are just too many sellers in the marketplace.  Residential listings continue to increase and are 34.8% higher than the 5 year average and 39.2% higher than the 10 year average.  Condo listing inventory is 57.4% higher than the 5 year average and 100% higher than the 10 year average.

On the good news side, many of these sellers will also become buyers if their existing properties sell.

Who is having the most trouble selling?
There are a number of categories that suffer more than others in this type of buyer’s market, best to check with a Realtor to see how these circumstances might affect a particular property.  We’ll have a post on this later this week.  Condos, unique properties, non “move-in-ready” properties, higher priced listings, FSBO’s and those with excess improvements head the list of “toughest to sell” listings right now.

New home sales off about 20%:
New construction sales and starts are down about 20% this year, so builders are offering significant incentives for buyers to consider new construction.  This adds to the competitive choice for buyers but also makes even more competition for the resale listing, particularly for newer homes in areas where the builder is still building the same or similar models.

What to expect this summer/fall:
We expect to see continuing price adjustments by sellers who have now missed the peak spring market which should help keep residential unit sales in positive territory during the summer. Condos may be another matter altogether.

Get it sold by September!
Sellers with committed buying plans or other financial plans who have not had success in marketing their properties will certainly want to be aggressive in getting a deal done before the end of September when sales levels start the fall seasonal decline. (Summer sales levels are about 20-25% lower than spring and fall levels are 40-50% lower than spring)

Save $1,000’s on commissions and get it sold now!
We have some amazing commission saving programs and marketing plans to help ensure sellers get deals done this summer! If you are not already working with another Realtor and would like to discuss selling and/or buying options please give us a call 613-435-4692

* not intended to solicit those with existing representation agreements

Gord McCormick, Broker of Record
Dawn Davey, Broker
Oasis Realty Brokerage

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