Halifax’s Condo Real Estate Specialists

Recent Posts

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

avgpriceMay

 

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

numberofSalesMay

 

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

 

How To Finance Your Condo Renovation Posted on May 29, 2013

Sometimes you may walk away from a condo that needs some renovations because you are already spending your hard earned savings on the down payment and closing costs. To help you avoid losing out on a property for this reason, here is an article from Igor Geshelin: one of our trusted partners as a Mortgage Market Professional with The Bentley Group at Premiere Mortgage Centre. The Bentley Group is Premiere’s top producing Team in Atlantic Canada, and Premiere has recently had the distinct honour of being awarded “Mortgage Brokerage of the Year” at the CMP Canadian Mortgage Awards. Here is what Igor has to say:

You’ve found the perfect condo. The location is ideal, the price is in your budget, the layout is perfect and it’s just the right amount of square feet for you and your favorite things. But the kitchen cabinets look like someone made them out of a station wagon’s wood grain panels, and your feet are submerged ankle deep in a sea of what you sincerely hope is carpet.

Updating these items to modern day standards is going to set you back a few thousand dollars, and as you are about to purchase a property, the last thing that you need is another expense on top of your down payment, 1.5% Deed Transfer Tax (some may call it a government money grab), solicitor fees, etc. Not to worry, there is a mortgage product just for you: Purchase Plus Improvements is here to save the day.

Designed specifically for scenarios where some renovations are required to be completed to a property at the time of purchase, this program simply requires up front quotes for the intended work to be submitted for lender approval at the time of securing your mortgage for the purchase. The renovation funds are held in trust until the work is complete, and then released directly to you to pay the contractors, or reimburse yourself if you have already paid for the work out of pocket in the meantime.

This is a spectacular way of including value-add property improvements directly into the mortgage, and especially at today’s historically low rates this is by far the lowest-cost approach to financing a renovation project. If you were to wait a year after purchasing and pay for these items on your credit card or a line of credit, your cost would be substantially higher. To put it in perspective, adding an extra $10,000 worth of improvements to your mortgage today would only be an additional $21/month. It doesn’t’ get much better than that, and your kitchen will be transformed into an Ikea showroom in no time!

If you have any questions about Purchase Plus Improvements, or any other mortgage questions for that matter, don’t hesitate to contact Igor at igor.geshelin@premieremortgage.ca or call: 902-441-6493.

As always if you are looking to buy or sell a condo feel free to contact us.

Halifax Condo Market Update – April 2013 Posted on May 21, 2013

Halifax condo market update – April 2013

Average Sale Price- April. Halifax Condo MarketFigure 1 – All data based on MLS® statistics for areas 1 – 40 which encompass all of HRM

Number of Sales - April. Halifax Condo MarketFigure 2 – All data based on MLS® statistics for areas 1 – 40 which encompass all of HRM

Overview

Again in April we see a similar trend with condo sales as we have seen with home sales for Halifax in general.  Number of Sales continue to drop compared to previous years.  Average price stayed virtually the same as 2012 at 260K but increased by 11% compared to 2011.   Expect this trend to continue through the spring and early summer.

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

-Andrew

A Few Things to Consider When Purchasing a Condo Posted on May 11, 2013

The following are a few points to consider before making a condo purchase. Be aware that this is by no means an exhaustive list of the items you will need to be on top of when looking for and buying a condo, but it will get you started.

1. Location- As we all know in real estate it’s all about ‘location, location, location’ this is true for condos too, on a couple of different levels. The location of a condo building should make sense to you, do you like the hustle and bustle of living right downtown with the energy of the city right outside your door? Or do you prefer to live in a calm, quiet neighbourhood where you can sit on your balcony and relax? Remember, condos don’t appreciate overnight, you should plan to live in this one for the next five years at least. The other location we need to look at is where in the building your new condo is going to be. If you really want a corner unit, but there another unit in the building that has a new kitchen but with a less favourable view and the asking price is similar, which will you choose? Condos in a building are similar to houses on a street, the house at the end of the cul-de-sac or the one that backs onto greenspace will hold value over others one the same street. Similarly so, a condo with a significantly better view or a corner unit (more windows) will hold higher value over units with obstructed views, even if they have nice new kitchens. Remember, you can always renovate your kitchen, when you have saved up the additional capital, you cannot change your condo’s location in the building.

2. Amenities- Does the building you are considering provide the amenities you want and need? Or are there some that you can live without? Some amenities that are great to have but can increase condo fees are things like a pool which is maintenance heavy, a live-in superintendent whereas they live in a unit owned by the condo corp. One thing that can be a necessary item that not all buildings have is parking, do you need parking or will you in the future? Another thing to consider is a parking spot included with your condo or do you have to lease one from the building?  Even if you don’t need parking now, not having it might negatively affect your sale price down the road when considered against other condos that include parking.

3. Building Age and Condition- Age is an interesting question, most people are excited about investing in pre-construction and moving into an all new building. This is great but it can require patience, constructing a big new building can take years and there can be delays that extend your move-in date by as much as six months or even a year later. On the flip side some older buildings can have aging infrastructure such as plumbing, windows or a roof that needs to be replaced, this is not a problem if the condo corporation has been saving a portion of their fees into a reserve fund to replace them when the time comes.

Check back here for more tips and updates on condo buying and selling or sign up for our newsletter for condo news direct to your inbox and of course, contact us directly if you have any specific questions.

-Chris

Perspective from a Mortgage Consultant Posted on Apr 25, 2013

We are pleased to share with you a guest poster to the condo company blog.  Scott Walker is a mortgage consultant with HLC(Home Loans Canada) and one of our trusted partners.  He is a seasoned industry professional with 20 years experience.  He brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective into the HRM real estate and condo markets.  Check back regularly for Scotts comments.  Thanks Scott and we look forward to more posts in the future.  AP

Some thoughts on the Economic, CMHC Housing Market Outlook, First Quarter 2013

– Nationally it looks like we have avoided any real crises with regard to housing decrease. It would appear this was the result of a well-managed easing of Mortgage Amortization Schedules from 40 years back to the traditional 25 years by the federal Government.

– Atlantic Canada as a whole will remain below 2% GDP growth in 2013 and 2014 as a result of only moderate employment growth and a reduction in spending and investment activity by both the public and private sectors.

– Nova Scotia will have the best Economic performance in Atlantic Canada, 1.4% in 2013 and 1.7% in 2014.  The province will see meaningful improvements in employment of close to 1%. This is better than last year, which saw an improvement as well. The difference this year is employment growth will be focused mainly on full-time employment. This is as a result of the last few years and a focus on opportunities tied to resource development.

– Halifax is showing what can only be described as a very well balance unemployment rate of 6.4%. If my memory serves me correctly from Economics class 6% is the optimal for an economy. This leaves just enough people looking for work to help with growing Business on a sustainable leave.

Need good sound advice on mortgages, Scott can be easily reached by email scott@scottwalker1.com

As always if you are looking to buy or sell a condo we can be contacted at info@condo-company.ca

 

Westwood Developments New Construction Condo Update Posted on Apr 11, 2013

The spring is starting and new construction condos are blossoming over at Westwood Developments. It has just received approval from the city to construct “The Drum” their 6 storey, 44 unit building on the edge of the Commons and Citadel Hill. The building is to be wedge shaped to accommodate the unique piece of land, which is surrounded on each side by street. Westwood developer, Danny Chedrawe says construction should commence this year. As with condo developments in and around downtown Halifax, there is lots of interest in this building.

The Drum Condos on Rainie Dr. Halifax, Artist Rendering.

The Drum Condos on Rainie Dr. Halifax, Artist Rendering.

Westwood Developments Artist Rendering of 5504 Spring Garden Road.

Westwood Developments Artist Rendering of 5504 Spring Garden Road.

Westwood is also looking at re-developing their recent purchase on the corner of 5504 Spring Garden Road at Birmingham. The old Winsby’s building will come down and be replaced with a 7 story loft style condo building with retail on the ground floor and 20 condos above. This development has run into a hiccup as the main tenant Winsby’s shoes intends to see out the end of their lease, which runs for approximately 5 more years. The condos are projected to range from $300,000.00 to $700,000.00 though those numbers will likely change if the building doesn’t get off the ground until 5 years from now.

-Chris

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HALIFAX CONDO MARKET UPDATE – 1st Quarter 2013 Posted on Apr 09, 2013

Halifax Condo Market Update 1st Quarter 2013

Halifax Real Estate Market Update, 1st Quarter 2013, Average Price

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

Halifax Real Estate Market Update, 1st Quarter 2013, Number of Sales

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

1st Quarter review

The first quarter in the Halifax Real Estate Condo Market was very similar to single family home sales.  The average price continues to increase, however the number of sales continue to drop. We saw average price increase by 10% in the 1st quarter and the number of sales decreased by 41% .  This can be attributed to 2 main reasons.  1) The federal government changing of the mortgage rules to a shorter amortization and 2) with the announcement of the shipbuilding contract for Halifax last year, there was a lot of speculation and the market picked up substantially with buyers eager to pick up properties especially on the peninsula of Halifax. The condo market is currently in a buyers market with 36 weeks of inventory.

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

-Andrew

 

 

Condo Townhouse Reno – Part 3 Posted on Apr 06, 2013

After the demo of the old bathroom and kitchen the contractor David Bryant installed a bathroom fan in the ceiling of the main bathroom. These are important to have as they keep moisture moving out of your bathroom and this helps keep mildew at bay. Most older homes and condos do not have them, so when you are doing a bathroom reno and the walls or ceiling are open, it is a good time to have one installed inexpensively.

The floor of the shower was installed starting with a Kerdi shower kit. A shower kit is important to have as it sits on the floor below the tile and directs the shape of the shower floor toward the drain, it is also another water impermeable surface. In the event that your tile grout wears away, there is something there to catch the water from entering your floors. The tile used on the walls of the shower was also installed on the floor of the bathroom itself, while the tile on the floor of the shower was a smaller mosaic tile. Mosaic tile on the floor is an unconventional use, but it’s a great look and should feel neat on the toes. Once the tiles were laid and the walls painted, the new water efficient toilet and modern vanity were installed.

Bathroom Tile Install.

Bathroom Tile Install.

Bathroom Tile Install.

Bathroom Tile Install.

The old carpets on the stairs and the bedroom level was removed and replaced with a darker grey, higher quality carpet. The new carpet updated the space while keeping it cozy in the bedrooms. The flooring on the main level was still the original hardwood, which was looking a little worse for wear. There was some debate about removing it altogether and installing newer flooring such as new hardwood, laminate or cork. One flooring specialist recommended replacement, or to simply buff the old wood and leave it in place until the client was more comfortable with the added expense. The problem with this approach is that if floors are left unfinished and old looking, the whole space will feel unfinished, not matter how nice the new kitchen looks. Floors are better refinished or replaced when there is no furniture, or cabinets in place so that you can finish more evenly, doing it in the future would be much more challenging. The client’s contractor felt passionately about the floors being refinished, saying that it would make the whole space feel new and he really believed that the original wood could be revived. They brought in another floor refinishing company and they  were in and out in a day and a half and the floors looked amazing, it even revealed a beautiful dark border around the room.

Hard Wood Flooring Before.

Hard Wood Flooring Before.

Floor Refinishing In Progress.

Floor Refinishing In Progress.

Original Hard Wood Refinished.

Original Hard Wood Refinished.

Entry Stairs Before.

Entry Stairs Before.

Carpet Being Installed On Stairs.

Carpet Being Installed On Stairs.

New Carpet Laid In Second Bedroom.

New Carpet Laid In Second Bedroom.

New Baseboard Installed.

New Baseboard Installed.

An electrician was brought in while the bathroom was being done and installed new pot lights throughout the main level. They also had wiring put in for three pendant lights over where the peninsula between the kitchen and the main living space will be. All of these are set up with dimmer switches that can be controlled remotely from the owner’s iPhones.

Fireplace Accent Lights.

Fireplace Accent Lights.

Once the flooring was down and refinished, the custom cabinets were delivered and installed over two days by Genuine Kitchens. The clients went with dark walnut cabinets with a modern look to suit the space. The darker cabinets will stand out nicely in contrast to the light granite counter-top and natural wood floors.

Kitchen Cabinet Install.

During the construction the clients kept their eyes out for sales on appliances at the Sears Outlet store we have in Halifax. This worked out great for them as they got some real deals on great high-end stainless steel appliances. The appliances were put in place and connected by their contractor.

The granite counter-top was on order and due to arrive a couple of weeks after the clients moved in so David, their contractor put some plywood in place so they would have something to rest their take out on for the time being. It would be take out or eat out for the next couple of weeks as the under-hung kitchen sink would not be installed until after the granite.

This concludes our blog post, be sure to check back soon or sign up for updates to see the exciting conclusion of this reno!

-Chris