| Kitchener-Waterloo Real Estate Market Update
|2017 a big year for Kitchener-Waterloo homes sales!
There were 6,549 homes sold in Kitchener-Waterloo and area last year through the Multiple Listing System (MLS® System) of the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS® (KWAR), just one percent behind matching last year’s record smashing results.
The year ended strong with 301 home sales in December, which is a slight one per cent above December of 2016, and 13 per cent above the previous five-year average.
“There was a definite push by some buyers to purchase a home prior to the new mortgage stress test kicking in January of 2018,” noted Tony Schmidt, President of KWAR. “While we appreciate the intent of these additional changes, ultimately they will make it harder for some consumers to purchase the home they want.”
Picking up on the momentum from 2016, the first half of 2017 was characterized by an unparalleled number of home sales. Then in the latter half of the year, on the heels of the Ontario government’s announcement of the Fair Housing Plan, the pace of sales began to decrease while still remaining above the previous five year’s averages.
“There is almost universal agreement that the introduction of the Ontario Fair Housing Plan, which included a tax on non-residents who purchase homes in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) did contribute to the decline in home sales in the last half of the year, however that was mostly due to the psychological impact it had on buyers and sellers in the marketplace,” says Tony Schmidt, President of KWAR.
“For Waterloo Region these impacts were not yet as acute as in other areas of the GGH, but we are certainly concerned that any additional restrictions will further impede consumer affordability for homes.
Total residential sales in 2017 included 4,005 detached (down 4.2 per cent), and 1,461 condominium units (down 2.9 per cent) which includes any property regardless of style (i.e. semis, townhomes, apartment, detached etc.). Sales also included 545 semi-detached homes (up 27.6 per cent) and 467 freehold townhouses (up 10.9 per cent).
“The consumer demand we experienced in 2017 was certainly strong enough to have outnumbered 2016 home sales,” says Tony Schmidt, President of KWAR. “However the continued tight supply of listings last year served to tamp down unit sales and drive up prices”.
While the number of homes that were put up for sale was in keeping with previous years, inventory tracked low all year long as buyers continued to snap up properties at a terrific rate. The average days it took to sell a home in 2017 was 19 days, compared to 43 days if you were to average out the previous 10 years.
Dollar volume of all residential real estate sold last year increased 19.5 per cent to just over three billion ($3,061,739,723) compared with 2016, reflecting the strong price gains realized in 2017 and marking the first time sales have surpassed the three-billion-dollar milestone.
The average sale price of all residential properties sold in 2017 increased 20.7 per cent to $467,513 compared to 2016. Detached homes sold for an average price of $549,046, an increase of 21.5 per cent compared to 2016. During this same period, the average sale price for an apartment style condominium was $271,940 for an increase of 18.3 per cent. Townhomes and semis sold for an average of $353,692 (up 23.6 per cent) and $378,275 (up 25.9 per cent) respectively.
The median price of all residential properties sold last year increased 21.1 per cent to $429,900, and the median price of a detached home during the same period increased 22 per cent to $495,000.
“With the continued influence of GTA buyers migrating to Waterloo region last year, 2017 was a great year if you were selling your home, but not so fun for those who were in the purchasing position. The quality of life enjoyed living in Waterloo Region has always been at the top compared to many other communities, even though our historical home prices have been relatively affordable. I think this secret is out now, and the activity of buyers from the GTA last year certainly demonstrates this,” says Schmidt.”
Schmidt says while the frenzied buying activity has cooled under the multitude of newly-imposed government regulations, looking ahead we expect the demand to continue to be greater than the supply. While the balance is shifting, we do not believe there will be any decreases in property values and if anything, the correction for Waterloo Region was watching it increase. Of course, this will continue to put pressure on affordability for many would-be homebuyers.
“The new stress test that just came into effect on January 1 is going to push some buyers out of the market and force others to purchase homes at a lower price point than they want as it reduces their ability to borrow,” says Schmidt.
“My personal concern is that we have not seen the end to governmental intervention in the housing market,” notes Schmidt. “Housing is a very popular topic, and with a provincial election coming up I just hope there are not any additional policies implemented that will come at the cost of the consumers.”
While the majority of MLS® System activity is properties for sale, REALTORS® also represented landlords and tenants in 602 residential leases in 2017, a 40% increase compared to 2016.
| Waterloo's Wonderful Winterloo
| Mark your calendar for Waterloo’s incredible annual winter event!
Uptown Waterloo is celebrating winter with Winterloo this year between Friday, February 23rd and Sunday, February 25th!
This annual event is packed with a variety of winter-themed events including dog sled rides, world-class ice sculpting and the famous Winterloo chili cook-off.
This year, Winterloo is packed with events across four themes: Winter Sports, Winter Survival, Winter Cultures & Stay Warm by the Fire. Locations include the Waterloo public square and the west side of Waterloo Park.
Be sure to bundle up and get outside to rediscover the joys of winter with an assortment of activities that offer something fun for the entire family. Hope to see you there!
| Old or New; What's Best for You?
| There are various pros and cons with newer and older homes.
Home buyers face countless decisions when purchasing a home. One of the first things to figure out is whether you prefer a newer home or an older home.
Comparing newer and older homes can be tricky as it depends on individual preferences as well as family priorities. Here are a few advantages of older homes:
- Solid as a Rock - The craftsmanship that went into building homes years ago was usually second to none.â€¨â€¨
- Old World Charm - Older homes usually boast unique architectural features such as crown moulding and stained glass windows.
- Location - Older homes are often located in well established communities with mature trees. They're also usually close to popular downtown amenities.
- Outdoor Space - Older homes usually have larger lots which is important if you value your privacy or wish to possibly extend your home in the future.
Newer homes on the other hand have their own unique set of advantages. Here are just a few points to consider:
- Customizable - You can customize a brand new home to your own tastes with options like heated floors or granite countertops.
- Functional - Newer homes are laid out with functional features such as attached garages, larger storage areas and ensuite bathrooms.
- Low Maintenance - You're not likely to encounter any serious issues as everything's brand new. The home's exterior will also be much easier to maintain.
- Energy Efficient - Better windows, insulation and appliances mean newer homes are more energy efficient which translates into lower monthly utility bills.
Newer homes are usually more functional but older homes offer a level of character that new homes can't match. You may already have a good idea of what you prefer but keep an open mind as you become more familiar with the pros and cons of each. This is one of the biggest investments you'll ever make so do your research before signing on the dotted line!
| Things that go Bump in the Night
| Are your home’s strange sounds keeping you up at night?
Part of settling into a new home is figuring out what noises are normal. Most are nothing to worry about but some could signal a deeper issue. Here are a few that you should pay attention to:
- Furnace Noises - A humming noise is normal but loud pops, scraping, grinding or squealing sounds should be checked out professionally.â€¨â€¨
- Scratching Sounds - The dreaded sound of scratching likely means you have rodents that are making themselves at home so take notice before it gets out of hand.â€¨â€¨
- Running Water - Check for leaks and water damage around the home. If you can’t figure it out quickly, call a plumber as it could mean a broken pipe.
- Gurgling Toilet - Gurgling noises coming from the toilet could signal a blockage in the toilet or drain, a blockage in the vent stack or a main sewer drain blockage.â€¨â€¨
- Noisy Fridge - Some whirring and clicking is normal but if your fridge is cracking or popping, it could be a compressor or a temperature regulation issue.
You can expect to hear some noises coming from your home as the various building materials will contract and expand. Just keep an ear out for anything unusual and don’t hesitate to call a professional if in doubt!
| GeoCaching -- High Tech Hide and Seek
| If your New Year’s Resolution was to get active, consider geocaching!
Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt where a GPS app is used to locate various hidden caches. It's a great way to get active with your family while exploring the great outdoors!
Geocaches are hidden stashes that contain small treasures along with a logbook. Once you find a geocache, you replace the treasure with something of your own, log in your details and then check-in online.
Exploring hometown hiking trails takes on a whole new meaning when geocaching and the best part is it doesn't cost a cent! Instead of searching around for the remote this Sunday afternoon, head outdoors for a real life treasure hunt!