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.
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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.
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. email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 902-441-6493.
As always if you are looking to buy or sell a condo feel free to contact us.
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.
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 email@example.com
As always if you are looking to buy or sell a condo we can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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Halifax Condo Market Update 1st Quarter 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
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. email@example.com
The King’s Wharf development is steaming ahead on the shores of Dartmouth Cove in downtown Dartmouth. The multi-building, approximately $500-million development could easily be described as a city within a city. King’s Wharf is expected to include 13 mainly mixed use structures, made up of condos, rentals, a hotel, commercial and office space. There will also be a park and details have recently been released about a water taxi running between King’s Wharf and the Halifax waterfront. The water taxi wharf is already in place and it is expected to begin running by the fall of 2014.
Artist’s rendering of the King’s Wharf development in Dartmouth, NS.
The Keelson condo building opened in December of 2012 and there are a handful of units available and ready to be inhabited at this time. Feel free to contact us about which units are available.
The Anchorage, initially planned to be a rental building was switched about 8 months ago to be sold as condos is approximately 50% sold, condos can be secured with a deposit of $5000.00. The Anchorage is projected to be move-in ready this coming May. Please contact us for prices and floor plans.
Aqua Vista has been available for purchase for a few months now and is approximately 55% sold and is projected to be complete in the fall of 2014. Please contact us for floor plans and pricing.
King’s Wharf, The Keelson & The Anchorage Condo Buildings in Dartmouth, NS.
The Iconic Tower, the development’s signature mixed use condo building will be 33 stories high and contain approximately 180 condos. More about this building will likely be released in the fall or winter of this year.
Check back here for more information as this development progresses or to have updates sent directly to your inbox, sign up to the right of the blog.
The Halifax condo market saw a few new construction builds finish in 2012. The Trillium on South Park Street and the first building The Keelson, part of the mega project at Kings Wharf were both registered as condos in 2012.
The average price for a condo in 2012 was $248,596 up 4.3% from 2011. The number of sales in 2012 was 735 a 3.9% drop compared to 2011. The average days on market for a condo in 2012 was 99 days.
2013 is shaping up to be a great year for condos in HRM. There are several new builds currently under construction. Q Lofts, Craigmore Drive Condos, The Anchorage, St Lawrence Place and Dockside. Proposed condos St Joseph’s Square and The Quinn Condos are all set to possibly break ground this year.
We are forecasting a brisk 2013 with average price increasing by 3-5% and the number of sales to remain steady with 2012.
If you are thinking of buying, selling or purchasing a new construction condo we are here to assist. Feel free to contact us anytime. Thanks
Andrew & Chris
Developer Navid Saberi of United Gulf Limited is planning to begin construction of ‘Moirs Place’ condominium next year on the corner of the Bedford Highway and Moirs Mill Road. The building is planned to be eight stories with office space in part of the building and 60 condo units priced somewhere between $300,000.00 and $650,000.00 per condo.