Halifax’s Condo Real Estate Specialists

June 2013

How A Condo Can Help You Save! Posted on Jun 14, 2013

With the continual rise in everything from coffee to gas, power to movie tickets, and the inevitable rise in interest rates, now may be the time for you to consider downsizing to a condo. Lets take a quick look at what some of the benefits of a smaller living space might be:
1. Save on Mortgage and Down Payment- The first and largest place that savings could occur is in the actual sticker price, condos tend to cost less compared to single family homes in similar areas.

2. Savings on Power and Heating Costs- Let’s face it, a smaller space will require less in the way of lights (as there will likely be fewer of them) and less in the way of heating costs. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in someone’s home, gone into a room or even an entire basement that is completely empty, just waiting to be finished or filled with furniture and in the meantime the homeowner is heating this space. The other great one is the basement “man-cave” an entire second living room, which many men aspire to having. I don’t know about anyone else, but with how busy things get in this day and age, when I get some time to sit down in front of the tv, I like to spend it with my significant other.
 3. Savings on Maintenance- Do you really need all those bathrooms? How about all that roof? Paying monthly maintenance fees may seem like a lot at first glance, but when you compare that with ongoing maintenance of a house, they aren’t that bad. Over the life of a house you will have things to deal with like re-caulking windows and doors, repainting and re-roofing, unless you have established your own contingency fund, those can become big expenses all at once.
4. Renos Will Cost Less- When it comes time to do some renos, you will love the smaller size especially when hardwood and tile are sold and installed on a per square foot price.

5. Save Time- If there is one thing that everyone loves, it’s cleaning and mowing and raking the lawn, and sweeping off the deck, and cleaning their windows, and painting fences. I’m sure we would all much rather be doing that than say, sailing, or reading, baking cookies, or working on our parkour skills.

6. Save Time AND Money on Your Daily Commute- In many cases, moving into a condo is going to allow for moving closer to downtown, this will allow you to either take advantage of public transit, walk, or at least shorten your drive to and from work. Which brings me to another of the big savers….

7. Do You Need Your Car?- If you move closer to downtown you will likely be able to sell your car and use public transit or walk day-to-day. Many households in the ‘burbs require two cars, one that often just commutes one of the parties to and from work and sits downtown, where you then pay to park. A car can be a major expense, even just reducing the number of kilometers driven and fuel consumed can help a lot.

8. Reduce Your Property Taxes- By switching to a condo and reducing your square footage you could reduce your property tax bill significantly.

9. Clear Out Your Stuff- Decluttering is another advantage of moving to a smaller space. Over time we tend to accumulate stuff, lots of stuff, in a large enough house, tonnes of stuff! All that extra furniture for the second living room and extra bedrooms, not to mention all those hawaiian shirts that you haven’t worn since the 80’s (thank-you) that can likely be offloaded to someone hosting a theme party. Decluttering can be good for the pocketbook and good for the soul.

 
There we have it, nine fantastic ways in which you can save by downsizing into a condo, I’m sure there are many other ways in which you can save, if you think of one, have any questions about condos contact us here.
-Chris

 

How To Choose The Best REALTOR® For YOU. Posted on Jun 10, 2013

Getting into the idea that you are going to make a major purchase is a daunting task no matter what it is; a car, a condo, house or business. Regardless, there are many things to consider and research to be done. There is one feature to buying a home or condo that sets this process apart, you can hire your own personal guide to work on your behalf throughout the whole ordeal, a REALTOR®. This presents a whole new batch of research, which REALTOR® should you choose? There are a bizillion of them, I mean a bizillion (approx. 1800 in NS). I’ve been working in the industry for several years now and I am constantly meeting new agents. Choosing the right agent is almost as important as choosing the right home. The agent you work with needs to have a number of qualities to help you get what you want and the protection you need.
One thing that we should cover before we get into the REALTOR® selection checklist is how agents get paid. When someone lists their condo (or house) the listing agent will offer their services at a rate, in Nova Scotia it is usually 5-6% of the sale price. If you are using a discount brokerage of some format they can be less or a fixed rate. In the case of the average agent, they will offer half of the negotiated percentage to co-operating agents, known as Buyer’s agents or Selling agents. In the case of the condo (or home) seller, this 5-6% and applicable taxes will come from the profit of the sale. As a Buyer, your agent will be paid for you by the Listing agent. The opportunity for buyers to have their agent costs covered I assume is to encourage people to use an agent to look out for their interests. REALTORS® in Nova Scotia are typically only paid on the successful closing of a property. If you work with an agent, look at a bunch of places and decide not to buy something, the agent is not getting paid for any of their work. The same is the case for an agent who lists a property, takes photos, writes copy and publishes ads in an effort to sell a home; if it does not sell, they do not get paid.

Referrals Help- Ask around. If you have a friend who has recently purchased a similar property to one you are interested in and had a positive experience, get their agent’s contact. If your friends (that you like) thought their agent did a good job, you may work well with that agent as well.

Biggest Isn’t Always Best (for you)- The biggest agent in town or the one with the largest marketing campaign is not necessarily the best fit for you. Some of the big name agents with a tonne of listings may not have the time to run around looking at condos (or houses) with you. They may also want to pass you on to an assistant, this presents the question of how long has this assistant been working in real estate? Are they a licensed real estate salesperson? Other larger agents may be stretched too thin but still try to keep your business but not be able to provide the level of help you want or need. This all being said, many agents that have larger marketing campaigns have systems in place to manage the volume and may work just right for you. Again, I suggest you ask around.

Experience Counts- Time in the industry is important. As an agent, I cannot express how important experience is. In real estate no two sales are ever the same, there are always new situations and intricacies to learn from. As a buyer or seller you want someone who has done a good number of deals and will know how to work with new challenges. If the agent is newer ask them who their mentor or a manager is, or if there is someone who they get some guidance from.

Communication is Key- Are they going to communicate with you as often as you want, or are they going to contact you too much? I have worked with clients who wanted to talk a lot, debate pros and cons, and sometimes just vent to me. On the other hand, I have had clients who I would send listings and when they found one they wanted to see, they would call me up and away we go. Adapting to the client’s communication style should be part of the job. There is a whack of paperwork about to enter your life, most of it quite technical, much of it designed to protect you and your interest, lots of it useless unless you understand it. Your agent should be able to explain all documents and terms used; they should not breeze over it, you need to know it. You don’t want to be tied into something later because it wasn’t read to you.

Part-Timers- Is the agent you are considering doing this on the side of their other full time job? Will they be available to answer the phone when calls come in about your listing or have the industry connections to get the job done?

Specialty Can Be Key- If you are looking in a particular area, it might be best to have an agent that works that area. An agent who spends most of their time selling rural properties might know a lot about getting well and septic tests done, but likely won’t be as in tune when it comes to knowing which condo buildings have special assessments pending or which have buildings going up around them in the future.

Technology Helps- An agent that is current with their technology will stay on top of developments in your market, be easier to connect with, market your property better and even get your offer in faster when the time comes.

Family Matters- A friend of mine often used to say “Never hire someone you can’t fire”. The same goes for your agent. If Cousin Tim or Aunt Delores is a REALTOR® don’t feel you have to use them. They may not suit your needs and if they fail to perform the way you would expect a professional (that you are paying) to perform, you might have a hard time letting them go. You need to work with someone who you can be open and frank with.

Go Undercover To A REALTOR® Convention- What better way to get a sense of what an agent’s reputation is in the industry than going to a convention and pretending you are one of them. You can then spark up conversation with lines like “So, how are the deals coming along?” and “I’ve heard (insert agent name here) is having a great year, what do you think of that guy/gal?”

Choose Someone You Like- Whichever agent you choose make it one you are comfortable with and who understands your needs. Do you find this person easy to get along with? Can they see things from your point of view. The bottom line is that you are going to spend a lot of time with this person, you better like them.

If you have any questions about this post or would like to be added to our mailing list, feel free to contact us here.

-Chris

Halifax Condo Market Update – May 2013 Posted on Jun 07, 2013

Halifax Condo Market Update – May 2013

 

Figure 1 – All data based on MLS® statistics for areas 1 – 40 which encompass all of HRM.

 

Figure 2 – All data based on MLS® statistics for areas 1 – 40 which encompass all of HRM.

Overview

The trend we had in the first quarter has continued for the month of May in the Halifax Condo Market. Average price continues to increase, this month at a rate of 6.5% over May 2012, while sales continue to decline by 28% over 2012. This is consistent with the Halifax single family home real estate market as a whole.  The drop of sales can be attributed to tightening mortgage rules by the federal government in 2013 and also with the announcement of the ship-building contract for Halifax in late 2011 there was a rush in the market spiking sales for early 2012.  In May 2010 there were 72 sales, in May  2011 there were 68 sales, 2012 there were 81 sales and now in 2013 we find 58 sales. Based on these numbers the market is not as dire as some media outlets tend to make it out to be.

If you would like more information on the Halifax Condo market you can always contact us. info@condo-company.ca

-Andrew