Key Things to Look for When You’re Visiting an Open House in Collingwood

Have you been spending your weekends visiting open houses? With modern staging and those delicious cookies they’ve left out for you to eat, it is easy to overlook some important details.  The open house is an opportunity for you to look beyond the touched up photos you’ve seen online. Here are a few key things that you should be looking for.

 

Inspect the Kitchen

 

You are likely going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Don’t be distracted by the flowers and staging items. Stand near the stove and sink; open and close some drawers and cupboards. Check for smooth movements and listen for squeaks. You also want to make sure that the layout works for the way you like to cook. Is there an adequate prep area? Is there enough lighting? Take note of the storage, is there enough space for all of your small appliances?  How long until the backsplash needs to be replaced? Or will the cabinets need to be touched up sooner rather than later? These are all questions that can be forgotten when speaking with the open house agent.

 

Check Bathrooms

 

Take some time to look beyond the beautiful finishes, or new renovation to look at the space. Do you require a double sink? Do you like to take baths? Even if there is a gorgeous shower, if you are a bath person or if you have kids, you are going to be looking at renovation in the future purchasing a home without a bathtub. Is there storage space for a linen closet, or to hide all the kids’ toys? Test the taps. Make sure the water pressure in the shower suits your needs. Flush the toilets. Plumbing issues can cost a lot of money, so you want to check those as soon as you can.

 

How do the Window coverings look?

 

Replacing all the window coverings in a home can really add up. Take the opportunity during the open house to make sure the current window coverings suit your needs. Do you prefer blackout blinds? Do they match your furniture? Do you have pets that will pull at the cord of the blinds? Spend some time opening and closing all of the shutters, curtains, and/or blinds. This will help determine if there are any that are damaged and need replacing.

Can you see the foundation?

 

Often overlooked during an open house visit, it is critical to inspect the foundation. Can you see it in the basement? If not, take a walk around the exterior of the home and look for any visible abnormalities. If the basement is not entirely finished and you are able to take a look, examine it for any cracks, smells, or white powder-like substances. If you do see white marks, this is a sign that water has seeped in at some point in time. You will definitely want to ask your real estate representative to look into it. Even if you will be performing a home inspection during your offer process, taking a good look at the foundation during your open house might help determine if you should put in an offer at all.

 

The Benefits of Buying Resale Instead of New Construction

Are you in the market for a new home? Does the idea of buying a new construction home sound ideal? With construction costs on the rise and builders taking more control of the offer, it may not be the best decision. There are so many factors that affect new home construction that are not an issue when you purchase a resale home. Here are the benefits of purchasing a resale home.

Flexible Move-in Dates

 

If you want to move into your newly purchased home right away, buying resale is the right choice for you. Most resale home sellers are flexible with the closing date of the home. There can be exceptions or extenuating circumstance, but generally, you can negotiate a closing date that works for both parties. The closing date of a pre-construction home can be a year to 18 months away. A lot of new build projects take longer than expected. Builders have been known to push back the closing date, leaving purchasers to make alternative living arrangements.

 

Location, Location, Location

 

Typically, resale homes are in established neighbourhoods which provides buyers with easy access to things like transit, shopping, and entertainment. Infrastructure is normally already established as well. Schools in these neighbourhoods have ratings that you can count on, and places of worship have congregations if that is something of interest. Landscaping, and sometimes fencing, is already completed. This means no added expense is passed on to you, the buyer, for these items.  Most neighbourhoods that encompass resale homes are filled with history and charm. There are many cities in Canada that are currently taking initiatives to revamp and upgrade older communities.

No Mess, No Fuss.

 

More often than not, when you purchase a new construction home, you are getting just that: new and construction. Roadways and sidewalks might not be completed which means dirt and debris will be everywhere, including inside the house. As mentioned, resale homes built in established neighbourhoods have everything done, and therefore, the only thing you need to worry about tracking into the home is what mother nature brings you.

 

Mortgage and Taxes

 

Obtaining a mortgage on a resale home, even if you are upsizing, is pretty straightforward. The opposite is true of a new construction home. The mortgage for a new construction home is different. It is called a construction mortgage and is based on the contract you have with the developer or builder. The contents of that contract can affect the details of your mortgage or loan. So, you can see, the process is a little more complicated than purchasing a resale home. New home purchases are subject to HST upon closing. That can potentially be a heavy cash payment and has certain tax implications. Typically resale home purchases have taxes included in the purchase price.

 

The benefits of purchasing a resale home are evident. If you are a fan of traditional architecture or looking for a home oozing with character,  you are definitely going to want to spend your time looking at resale homes.

 

A Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Home in Collingwood, ON

Spring is well on its way in Collingwood, ON, finally. As hibernation period ends, it starts to become clear just how tough Mother Nature has been on your home over the last few months. With the onset of warmer days and the excitement of warmer temperatures, now is the best time to start that spring deep clean. Here are a few ideas to help speed up and organize the process.

 

Clean Upholstery and Carpets

 

The fabrics of your home have been collecting a long winter’s worth of germs, dust, and dried skin. Yuck! They will need a deep cleaning to prepare for the year ahead. The greenest way to clean these is with a steam cleaner. This is a non-toxic way to remove allergens and dirt from your textiles. If you are using a rented machine or are shampooing the fabric, make sure to use an earth-friendly product.

 

Wash Those Walls

 

Give all the walls, cabinets, and wood furniture a good wash. Believe it or not, walls can gather dirt and dust just like any other surface in your home. Use a sponge and dishwashing detergent. For the hard to reach areas, you can use your mop. Once you are finished, do the same with your baseboards. Not only will this catch the remnants of the cleaning you just did to your walls, but baseboards are also a breeding zone for dirt during the winter season.

 

Make Those Windows Shine

 

Windows are our home’s eyes to the sunshine. And after the long Collingwood winter we’ve had, it is time to make them sparkle again. One of the healthiest ways to get our windows gleaming is to clean with vinegar. If you don’t like the smell or prefer to use a cleaning product, aim for something organic. Don’t forget to wipe down the frames and ledges as well.

Inside The Appliances

 

Just like the rest of the home, winter can wreak havoc on the inside of the appliances we use. Your stove tends to produce more meals over the winter months, so it is time for deep cleaning. You can use a mixture of baking soda and water or the self-cleaning function built right into your stove. Take all the food out of your refrigerator and give the shelves a wipe.  Gently pull the appliances out from the wall to clean the back of them and the floors surrounding the area.

 

As much as we enjoy the Collingwood winters, the spring and summer are just as beautiful. Taking the time for a post-winter deep clean will help make these upcoming months so much more enjoyable.

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Real Estate Market Update

Like much of the rest of Ontario, and other areas of the GTA, Collingwood is not a cheap place to find real estate. But it doesn’t make it any less desirable or put it down lower on the list of places to live when it comes to searching for a new home. Whether you’re a current resident and interested in the market status, or are looking to get into the Collingwood real estate market, here’s an update on some recent real estate news for the area.

Home Sales Down

The numbers are in for September, and much like the rest of Ontario, the trend continues, with decreased home sales numbers. The sales are “running at subdued levels compared to recent years,” says Matthew Lidnetter, President of the Southern Georgian Bay Association of Realtors (SGBAR). In fact, these current numbers are at historically low levels. This is partly to do with the change in mortgage rules that came at the beginning of the year, to which the province is still feeling the effects.

Value is Up

Home sales being down however, isn’t all bad. The total value of Collingwood properties sold this past month is up 1.5 percent compared to September 2017. This is good news for sellers but places an increased burden on buyers who are fighting the mortgage laws as well as increased home prices.

Supply has Increased

This combination of factors is also the reason that there is an increase in supply. When prices go up and fewer people can afford to purchase property, sale numbers decrease. As a result, there are more houses on the market and supply increases. In fact, according to SGBAR, there were 475 new residential listings this year, a 4.4 percent increases in a year over year comparison. But supply being up now, is not indicative of what the supply is normally. Overall, there were record lows in supply, with numbers down 0.7 percent compared to the same month last year. In essence, this makes supply the lowest it has been since the mid-1990s.

Sales Still Happening

Despite these dynamics, properties are moving quickly in the Collingwood market. Indeed, there is still plenty of desire to buy and live in Collingwood, and overall the region had a ten percent increase in units sold in September 2018 compared to September 2017. Broken down by region specifically, the western region sales, including the Blue Mountains area, was down by 16 percent compared to this time last year, while in the east, sales were down by just 2.4 percent compared to September 2017.

If you live in Collingwood, you already know how great of a place it is to live. You know how beautiful it is, how friendly the people are and all the great businesses, restaurants, boutiques, and breweries available to enjoy. And as a result, you probably also know why everyone wants to move here, despite the fluctuation in prices and sale numbers. After all, Collingwood is a great place to call home!

Housing in Collingwood: Renting, Building, and Intensifying

A concern for any city or town, figuring out where to house residents and making sure there is enough housing available is always top of mind when it comes to city planning, infrastructure development, and new housing expansion. Collingwood sits at the precipice of this right now, where it is in the midst of a rental housing crisis, while undertaking new home proposals and trying to fulfil its intensification goals.

Rental Housing Crisis

A combination of low vacancy rates and high rental rates, put quite simply, Collingwood is in the midst of a rental housing crisis.  As of October of last year, the vacancy rates rested between 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent, while the average cost to rent is $1125 per month, including utilities.  While this might sound okay for Toronto residents, it is $16 above the provincial average, and forces Collingwood renters to spend nearly 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities, which is also higher than Ontario’s average. This becomes an increased burden on the city and on cash-strapped residents, especially given that the majority are forced to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, some even having to dole out over half.

This burden is no stranger to Gail Michalenko of the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness, who has noticed the problem add up over the years, increasing rates of homelessness across the city.  While development is scheduled to be completed on High Street, which will open up 147 units with affordable rates and rent-geared-to-income options, the issue will not be a quick fix or a one-building solution.  Instead, Michalenko says, it’s a matter of the province and the municipalities working together, along with developers, to increase affordable housing stock and take the burden off of struggling residents.

Pocket Neighbourhood

The latest solution to the housing situation in Collingwood is the proposed pocket neighbourhood, to be created in the south end.  At a public meeting on July 23rd, council discussed Blackmoor Gates, the 28-unit proposed development which would be a combination of 24 single-detached homes and four semi-detached homes.  The area will also feature community spaces, shared outdoor living, and in general, encourage an enhanced sense of community living within the area. Some residents support the idea, saying it is a good move when it comes to fulfilling Collingwood’s intensification goals, and it is an “innovative” development that will be well “suited to young families and older people.” Some nearby residents however, fear the increased traffic will be a disturbance, and that the development will impact quality of life.

Whether it is a shortage of rental housing, rates that are too high, or disagreement on the development of pocket neighbourhoods, creating a housing solution for a city is never easy.  And while Collingwood may fare better than other areas of the GTA, the solution may not come any time soon. Instead it will require a strong showing of community camaraderie in the fight for affordable housing, decreased homelessness, and reasonable rental rates.

How to Protect your Home in the Bitter Cold

As if the snow wasn’t enough, Old Man Winter has certainly made his presence known with the freezing temperatures and wind-chill that are currently overtaking the Collingwood region.  And while you may do a good job of bundling yourself and your kids up, have you considered your house? The cold temperatures and biting wind can be very damaging to your home, and it’s worth putting in some time to focus on protecting it from the nasty winter weather.

 

Focus on Insulation

Poor insulation within your house allows cold air to enter, creates drafty areas, and can lead to moisture from rain and snow getting inside. You can purchase new insulation strips to add around the outside of doors and windows and this will prevent drafty winds from blowing through, as well as reduce unwanted moisture from melting snow and condensation from seeping in. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to use expandable foam filler to seal any cracks, in your walls or foundation, especially those that lead to the outdoors. Finally, ensure all windows and doors have functioning locks on them, and use them during winter windstorms. This minimizes the risk of the windows and doors accidentally blowing open, allowing cold air and snow to enter your home and cause damage.

winter house in Collingwood

Focus on your Pipes

If you are at home and are regularly running water and using the pipes throughout your house, there is minimal risk of the pipes bursting or freezing. However, if you have pipes in an area of your house that is not well insulated and not used very often, or you go away during the winter, there may be a bigger risk of damage. In the area of the house which you don’t heat, or don’t use regularly, make it a habit to frequently turn on the tap and run water through the pipes. You may also want to turn on the thermostat occasionally to maintain a suitable room temperature. Likewise, if you are going out of town, program your thermostat to turn on if the temperature in the room drops below a certain value, or have someone stop in at your house and warm it up for you to protect your pipes.

 

Focus on the Exterior

While it is important to monitor the pipes and insulation on the inside, what is happening on the exterior of your house is critical as well.  Always try to clear snow from your walkway and steps to ensure it doesn’t build up and become icy and hazardous. If there is a particularly large amount of snow or ice, be mindful of rooftops and awnings and watch for signs of weakening due to weight, such as buckling, bending and cracking. If necessary, and it is safe, remove snow and ice from rooftops that you feel may be at risk, or which aren’t clearing up on their own.

 

Cold weather is the perfect time to curl up inside with a blanket, a book, and a hot cup of tea.  With these preventative tasks taken care of, you can relax without worrying about how the cold weather will affect your home, and instead just focus on trying to stay warm and enjoying the beauty of winter.

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Build a Life You Don’t Need a Vacation From

Build a life you don’t need to take a vacation from: that’s the mantra that many are putting into effect in 2017. Part of building that dream lifestyle is finding a home that lets you be on vacation 2/47, 365 days a week. Stop looking, because 120 Brooker Blvd in the Blue Mountains is that home that will be the perfect retreat each and every day.

Whether your family is into winter activities like skiing, snowboard and snowshoeing or into warm-weather activities like mountain biking, swimming and hiking, this house is the perfect home base. Located steps away from Blue Mountain Village and a short drive or hike from Georgian Bay and all of Southern Georgian Bay’s best trails and hikes, your family can bike, ski, boat or simply lounge while living here.

With four bedrooms and three bathrooms, this 2100-square foot ski chalet has enough room for your large family and their guests. Gorgeous views of the mountain through the large windows in the open concept living space are just what you need after a long day at the office. Warm up by the gas fireplace when the weather is cool or sit on your large deck when the weather is warm.

The Blue Mountains has a rich history of being a place where everyone comes to ski, but there is so much more to enjoy. Of course, you can’t forget about all of the fantastic places to eat and things to do in the area, because location is truly what makes a home worth it. Ever wanted to try your hand at rock climbing, there are many great opportunities here for that as well.

Priced at $885,000, just try to compare that to what you can get in Toronto for under $1 million and you’ll realize that Blue Mountain can truly be your home.

If you would like to book a viewing of this fabulous home and see if your lifestyle needs a little something, contact Paul Casey at 705-606-2510 or by email at [email protected]. What are you waiting for?

 

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New Additions to Collingwood

With the summer season, also comes the season of construction, but for many, that isn’t a bad thing. In Collingwood, there are a number of new and interesting developments that will only make the city a better place to live, work and play. From something for the kids to something for the adults, here are some of the best new construction projects happening in the Collingwood area!

New skateboard and BMX park

The kids are going to love the newest addition to Heritage Park in Collingwood, with construction to be completed by October. The ground was broken just a few days ago in anticipation of the building of the skate park. The cost is approximately $300,000 but will provide area teens with a fun, safe and interesting place to hang out and practice their tricks.

New paramedic station

With the increase in population in Collingwood, the current paramedic station built above a garage wasn’t adequate. A new 5,900 square foot facility will be built at the corner of Ontario and St. Paul streets and will include five garage bays and be fully accessible. The cost will be $3.6 million for the new station, including the land and it will be completed by the fall of 2018.

New condominium complex

The former Admiral Collingwood school site will now be a condominium and commercial complex. The property, located at the corner of Hume and Hurontario streets has been through a lot of hand-wringing and finally has a plan. The development will include unique and upscale condos, with construction set to start in 2018 and occupancy to be available in 2019.

Collingwood’s Harbourfront Plan

While it is going to take many years to come fully into fruition, Collingwood’s Harbourfront Plan is definitely a huge boon to the city. You can expect to see new pavilions in Harbourview Park, a non-motorized boating hub, cafe, skater’s lounge, skating trail, splash pad and more in the next few years. Sunset Park will also see some major developments with a new EnviroPark.

Whether you are just looking to visit Collingwood, or want to come here to stay, these major developments are helping to make our town a wonderful place to live and play.

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First Time Homebuyers Get a Break in the Blue Mountains

In an effort to help first time homebuyers get into the market, the Town of The Blue Mountains is launching a loan program that will offer special loans to first time homebuyers who need it. Many young homebuyers who live in the area are finding it difficult to buy a home in the Town where they grew up because homes are reaching unaffordable ranges. The program will provide approved applicants with a maximum of a $20,000 interest free loan (5% of the total purchase price) that will go towards their down payment on a home in the area. They will have a 20-year grace period at which time they will have to pay it back. The loan is available for first time homebuyers who are buying homes that are under $400,000.

Called the Down Payment Assistance Program, it is being provided by the Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation, a non-profit corporation that was established just a few years ago to help create healthy, affordable and sustainable housing in The Blue Mountains. Positioned as an advocate and not as a social housing program, they are community based leaders who take action.

There are a number of qualifications that applicants need in order to receive this interest-free loan from the town:

  • Must be first-time home purchasers
  • Must be purchasing a home in the Town of the Blue Mountains
  • Do not have a maximum household income of $100,000
  • Do not have assets greater than $100,000
  • Applicants will use the home as their sole and principal residence
  • Applicants qualify for a mortgage

There is an application process and incomes and assets will be verified.

While the median price for a home in The Blue Mountains is over $800,000, this includes 6-bedroom and luxury housing. The median price for a two-bedroom home is lower than the maximum $400,000 mark. A general search on realtor.ca brought up at least 10 homes in the area that may qualify for the program.

This program won’t be around forever, as once the funds for it are exhausted, the program will close. The program is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you are interested in buying a home in The Blue Mountains, don’t delay in getting your application filed.

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How Airbnb is Affecting Collingwood’s Real Estate & Rental Market

Collingwood is a town with a population of almost 21,000 residents who live here year-round. But, we also have a very thriving visiting population of those who come here to experience all that Collingwood and the Blue Mountains have to offer. While those visitors are here, they inevitably need somewhere to stay. While there are a number of hotels and other types of rental accommodations, short-term accommodations can be had by using a service such as Airbnb, an online marketplace that advertises vacation rentals in homes and apartments. The owner of the home or apartment sets up the accommodations and uses Airbnb to coordinate bookings. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Airbnb started off as a way that owners could rent out a room or their entire dwelling to those looking for affordable short-term stays, but it has evolved to a giant marketplace where people are purchasing dwellings with the purpose of renting them on an Airbnb service. This is technically a direct violation of the service and is causing larger problems within the real estate market.

Because of the sheer number of properties being used for short-term rental purposes, affordable long-term rental housing is being eaten up. Vacancy rates are dropping while rents are increasing. The short-term housing market is much more lucrative for property owners, so there are even stories of people being evicted and being replaced by short-term renters through these types of services.

collingwood rentals

Implications for Collingwood

In Collingwood, where tourism is a large part of the framework of the town, this could amount to a significant issue, as it is in other tourism-heavy cities in Canada. Airbnb has over 300 listings for the town of Collingwood and the Blue Mountains, with everything from entire cottages to private rooms. Located throughout the town, including in typically suburban neighbourhoods, it is easy to see that short-term rentals could affect the long-term rental market in Collingwood.

Even in 2014, vacancy rates were incredibly low and were even called disastrous, with rents rising along with the decreasing rates. Airbnb’s impact could very well decrease the number of affordable rental units for residents in Collingwood, while supplying them with raised rents.

Another issue that should be looked at is the fact that there is already fewer and fewer homes for sale all over Canada and by having investors purchase properties for investment purposes, it can encourage the shut-out of other buyers. With increased competition for a limited amount of homes, buyers will have a harder and harder time finding an affordable home to buy.

Done correctly, Airbnb can be a viable option for those looking to help with mortgage costs and daily living expenses, when they rent out a vacant room in their home or their house while they are away. Considering the number of first-time homebuyers in the market and the increase in house prices, new buyers could supplement their incomes, without affecting the long-term rental market.

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