What’s the value in hiring a real estate agent?


With the wealth of online resources dedicated to helping you search for a new home or sell the one you own, you might be wondering if you even need a real estate agent in the first place. However, you may want to consider why many homeowners choose to enlist the services of a real estate professional.

whats_the_value_in_hiring_a_real_estate_agentA trusted real estate agent who comes recommended by others can increase your satisfaction with the process of buying a home in a number of important ways. These factors will help you determine the value your agent can provide:

There’s the internet, then there’s the “pipeline.” While a quick search on the web is a great place to start, you’ll want the inside track. A real estate professional will enhance your property search with a pipeline of properties. They, or others at their brokerage office, will also be aware of buyers who are looking within your area.

Opt for the guided tour. When you tour a landmark or attraction your experience is enriched by someone who is familiar with the location who can guide you. As a community expert, your real estate “guide” can provide insights on historical market values, culture, and attractions, as well as local resources relevant to your interests and needs.

A single point of contact. A real estate professional will help you determine how much house you can afford, alert you to potential risks, help you find resources, and negotiate the offer. Often a seemingly simple transaction can grow legally complex and risky. Again, this is where the pipeline comes in, as your agent can help you locate trusted legal counsel, home inspection services, surveyors, and lenders.

Negotiating: A real estate professional can help you objectively consider the offer you plan to put forth. They can recognize the various strategies of a selling agent, which may serve to drive up the price. They can also provide insights that can help you submit a competitive offer on a home you don’t want to lose.


Homebuyers brace for continued price increases and tight competition this spring following double-digit gains in final quarter of 2021


Modern living room with indoor plants and dog sitting on the couch

Demand for homes remains high across the country as Canadians continue to prioritize their living space over other purchases. However, housing shortages characterized many urban centres before the pandemic and supply has continued to tighten. Multiple buyers competing for too few properties has resulted in continued upward pressure on prices and buyers who were unsuccessful are strengthening the pipeline of demand. With no supply relief on the horizon, home prices are expected to rise through the spring market of 2022.

“Everywhere, in our largest urban centres, and in the nation’s small and medium-sized towns and cities, new homes are not being built fast enough to satisfy growing demand,” said Soper. “In addition to the slow and expensive regulatory processes that burden builders, construction has been hampered by pandemic-specific challenges, including labour shortages and the increased cost of construction materials as suppliers struggle with supply chain issues. Some developers have been hesitant to commit to new projects.”

The country has been fighting a chronic housing supply shortage since long before the pandemic forced us to repurpose our homes for work, school, dining and entertainment, not to mention an alternative to travel. With more young people than ever before looking for their first home and tens of thousands of newcomers to Canada adding to demand, it has never been more important for policy makers to take steps to address the country’s housing supply shortage crisis.

Those hoping that an increase in interest rates will slow demand or bring prices down may be out of luck. Higher borrowing costs will be coming off historical lows, and the increases may not be enough to offset the significant upward price pressure from inventory shortages.

Nationally, the aggregate price of a home increased 17.1% year-over-year to $779,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021. When broken out by housing type, the national median price of a single-family detached home rose 21.1% year-over-year to $811,900, while the median price of a condominium increased 15.8% year-over-year to $553,800.

Read Royal LePage’s fourth quarter release for national and regional insights. 

Fourth quarter press release highlights:

  • High demand outstripping low inventory at start of 2022 signals further home price gains going into spring market
  • 87% of the report’s 62 regions saw double-digit year-over-year aggregate price growth in Q4
  • 61% of the report’s 62 markets saw a quarterly aggregate price increase of 3% or greater
  • Kingston, Ontario, posts highest year-over-year aggregate and detached home price gains in Canada (38.1% and 44.3%, respectively)

Clever ways to boost your home’s curb appeal


clever_ways_to_boost_curb_appealWhen selling your home, nothing looks quite as good as a well-manicured front garden or beautifully decorated balcony. While many homeowners focus on the interiors of their homes, a property’s exterior can make all the difference, adding to its appeal and boosting its resale value.

And, a home’s exterior plays an important role in shaping a prospective purchasers’ decisions. As a first impression, these areas help set the tone and encourage buyers to visualize themselves owning the home.

An attractive exterior doesn’t have to break the bank. There are a number of ways you can create a stunning outside environment without much effort or money. Here are just a few tips to carry you through the selling season:

Clear the clutter. One of the easiest ways to make any outdoor space come to life is to keep it clean and tidy. This lets buyers visualize how they will make the space their own when it trades hands. 

Easy container gardens. Planted containers can add a charming look and feel to entranceways and balconies. When picking pots, look for similar styles that vary in size for a nuanced appeal.

Drought-tolerant plants. Flowerbeds and plants are often a great way to add a splash of colour to any exterior. For maximum effect, choose an assortment of perennials and annuals that require less water and are able to withstand hot summer days.

Don’t forget to fertilize. Though sunlight and water are usually enough, periodically feeding your plants essential nutrients will promote lavish growth and ensure consistent flowering.

5 thrifty DIY fix-ups to help sell your home


When preparing your home for the market, it’s great to know there are some relatively inexpensive improvements that can make a big impact with buyers.

5_thrifty_fix-ups_to_sell_your_homeA few well-placed pieces of décor and a clutter-free home are simple things you can do on a budget to bump up interest in your home. Once the fundamentals of a well-maintained home are taken care of, these easy initiatives can seal the deal.

  1. Clear the decks. Counter space is extremely important for buyers. Be sure to store kitchen and bathroom items off the counters. Purchase storage baskets in several different sizes to help you clear the decks in a hurry and minimize clutter.
  2. Brighten up storage spaces. Closets and cupboard space are important selling features. You can make the most of what you have by purging unused items and painting a light colour inside cupboards and closets. Adding battery-operated lighting is also an inexpensive way to brighten a dark closet.
  3. Replace interior room doors. Quickly and inexpensively brighten hallways and rooms by replacing interior doors and hardware. New white panelled doors and hardware can quickly freshen the home. Look for sales at your local building centre.
  4. Tear up dingy broadloom. You may be pleasantly surprised by what’s underneath. Even if you don’t like what you see, replacing broadloom is one of the most economical improvements you can make when you consider overall return on your dollar.
  5. Paint. Even high-end interior paints are a bargain when you look at what can be achieved with a fresh new finish. Opt for neutral colours in matte or eggshell finishes to camouflage flaws in walls. Trim is best handled with a white shade of satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish.

New Year’s Resolutions for new homeowners


Young woman sitting on the floor of a room imagining what her new kitchen will look like

If you have just purchased a home, you might have big ideas on how to make the space your own. When you bought your home, you likely saw great potential but putting a plan into action can be overwhelming. Check out these new year’s resolutions for your home that will help you hit the ground running in 2022.

Make a resolution to:

Create a list of quick, inexpensive fixes and get those done first. You might not have the budget to make your home the way you want it on day one, but you will be surprised what small updates can do whether it is a new exterior house number or modernizing the hardware on cabinet doors.    

Spend your time and effort on the space that will make you the most happy. If time and money are limited after your purchase, focus your efforts where they will have the biggest impact. A new kitchen, living room or backyard are all worthy projects but which one will you enjoy the most? Start there.

Make your home more functional. The project that might bring you the most joy might not be a room at all. What worked for the previous owners, might not work for you. If you haven’t done a construction project before, don’t feel overwhelmed. Get quotes and learn more about the project first. You can decide if or when it goes ahead on your timeline.

Invest in art to find your style and create interesting spaces. Yes, art can be expensive but if you find something you love, it can bring you joy every time you walk into the room. However, art does not need to cost a lot to transform a space. Sourcing pieces from local artists, estate auctions and online art dealers are great places to start your search.    

Make your home more energy efficient. This resolution will put money back in your wallet over time and keep your home cozy in the winter. If you don’t know where to start, look for drafts around windows or exterior doors. You can also check out this blog.

Join the community and explore your neighbourhood. COVID-19 has made it much more difficult to meet your neighbours, but social media has filled the gap. Joining neighbourhood social media groups will allow you to ask neighbours about finding local contractors and the best restaurants as well as issues that impact your community.

5 steps to achieve first-home style


The time between inking the deal on your first home and move-in day is sure to be filled with anticipation and excitement. You’ll be thinking about the empty rooms in your soon-to-be-occupied home and the promise they hold. But it’s important to give yourself some time in the home to let your ideas evolve into better ones.

By all means visit stores, gather information, ideas, colours and fabric samples to begin your decorating plans. But remember, a truly comfortable and functional home that reflects your personal style will develop over time.  These tips will help first-time homeowners to furnish and style their new abode:

1. Resist the temptation to immediately purchase new furnishings. Organize and move in with what you have, placing furniture in rooms and finding places for items that go in closets, cupboards and drawers.

2. Measure and make a plan for each room on paper. Explore options on graph paper and consider using masking tape to mark out dimensions on the floor or walls of any furnishing you might purchase. This will ensure the pieces will work within your available space.

3. Consider unwanted elements. Home ownership affords you the luxury of making choices.  If you don’t like a lighting fixture or the wallpaper border in the kitchen, you are at liberty to replace it.

4. Consider any changes you would like to make to flooring. Carpeting from the previous owners may be crying out for replacement. Research and price out replacement options with consideration to available products, the temperature underfoot, and any need for noise reduction.

5. Create a budget. Apply a realistic price tag to your wish list and establish a time-frame to achieve your goals. Do things one step at a time and keep a tally against your budget as you go.

Soon enough, your first home will reflect your style and dovetail with your lifestyle.  More information can be found at www.royallepage.ca/realestate/info-and-advice/

Top 6 home improvements to add value


Homeowners often look to customize their home for personal enjoyment and to appeal to future buyers.  So, we ask, which remodelling projects add the most value?

Homeowners are often inclined to renovate to suit their individual preferences and lifestyles. However, while turning a garage into a music studio may be your heart’s desire, it’s important to be cognizant that future buyers will likely just want to park the car.

Regular and systematic home maintenance provides the best return on investment. Although, there are a few renovations that consistently offer above average return on investment.

According to the Remodeling 2016 Cost versus Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) the following are among the mid-range renovations that homeowners who are looking to sell may wish to consider. To protect your investment, be sure to obtain work permits and consult a professional before embarking on any project where maximum return on your investment is sought.

  1. Attic insulation (fibreglass).You can recoup more than 90 per cent of the costs based on immediate energy savings and your home’s future resale value.
  2. Garage door replacement. Maximum impact on curb appeal and increase functionality. Recoup up to 90 per cent of your investment.
  3. Entry door replacement (steel). Quickly improve the curb appeal of your home while reducing heating and cooling costs. Estimated return on investment is more than 80 per cent.
  4. Manufactured stone veneer. Add curb appeal to the exterior of your home, or to accent specific areas within the home. Recoup up to 75 per cent of your investment.
  5. Minor kitchen remodel. Based on a mid-range investment of about $20,000, you can expect to recoup about 70 per cent.
  6. Deck addition (wood). Add a deck to increase outdoor living space and recoup up to 66 per cent of your investment.

The more you align the features and attributes of your home with those preferred by consumers, the greater the value you will create.  More information is available at royallepage.ca.

Royal LePage forecasts double-digit home price growth in Canada in 2022


Exterior shot of colourful row homes in winter

After two years of strong price appreciation, Canadian home prices are poised to increase significantly in 2022, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years. According to the Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast, the aggregate price of a home in Canada is set to rise 10.5% year-over-year to $859,700 in the fourth quarter of 2022, with the median price of a single-family detached property projected to increase 11.0% to $918,000, and the median price of a condominium expected to increase 8.0% to $594,000. 

Pent-up demand from buyers who were unable to transact in 2021, coupled with the growing need for shelter from new household formation and newcomers to Canada, will continue to put upward price pressure on a market suffering from a chronic supply shortage. Canada’s strong economy, healthy full-time employment trends, and paradoxically, the emergence of a new coronavirus variant, should all contribute to the strength of the country’s real estate market.

“While the emergence of another COVID-19 variant is disheartening, we can’t ignore its probable impact on our nation’s real estate market,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage. “It is hard to imagine that the Bank of Canada will begin the inevitable campaign to dampen inflation through higher rates with much still to be learned about Omicron and cases on the rise again. Employers may back-off plans to mandate a return to the office, sustaining the hyper-focus on the importance of the home as a place to both live and work. And, normal travel and entertainment will again be curtailed, continuing the household cash stockpiling trend that has defined the pandemic era.”

While pandemic-related lockdowns and a mandate to work remotely drove up demand for larger homes with outdoor space from buyers who might typically have purchased condominiums prior to the pandemic, the condominium segment has rebounded as affordability wanes in the middle and upper ends of the market.

“Demand for condos has picked up significantly in recent months, especially in major cities like Toronto and Montreal,” said Karen Yolevski, chief operating officer, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. “The price appreciation gap between condominiums and detached properties is narrowing. This trend will continue in 2022, as entry-level buyers are priced out of more expensive property segments, and the revival of the downtown core continues. Young professionals and those seeking a vibrant entertainment scene generally gravitate to the city lifestyle.”

Low supply and growing demand in Collingwood and surrounding ski regions drive home prices up


Condominium prices in Southern Georgian Bay increased 51.4% year-over-year since the start of 2021

Three young skiers laughing, playing in the snow

Tight inventory continues to challenge buyers in real estate markets from coast to coast, and Canada’s recreational regions are no exception, even in winter. Southern Georgian Bay is home to many popular ski hills and resorts, including Collinwood’s Blue Mountain; one of Ontario’s most popular ski and snowboard destinations. Within a reasonable driving distance of the GTA, it is easily accessible to families and outdoor enthusiasts looking for a retreat from the city. 

“In addition to its proximity to the ski hills of Blue Mountain, the region is a great place to live and work, all year round,” said Desmond von Teichman, broker, Royal LePage Locations North. “Prices have been rising at a historic pace for the last several years, as demand continues to increase across all property types. Luxury recreational properties have been in particularly high demand, compared to the pre-pandemic market.”

While Blue Mountain remains a significant draw to the region, properties located in Southern Georgian Bay are also in close proximity to a number of private ski clubs, including Craigleith, Alpine and Osler Bluffs.

Since the beginning of 2021, the median price of a single-family home in Southern Georgian Bay’s recreational property market increased 29.5% year-over-year to $725,000, while the median price of a condominium increased 51.4% to $651,000.1 However, for those looking to buy a house or condominium slopeside or at the mountain’s base, starting prices are typically $1,500,000 and $900,000, respectively. Due to extremely low inventory, sales were up just two per cent in the region, compared to the same time last year. 

Royal LePage is forecasting home prices in the Southern Georgian Bay region will rise 15-20% in 2022, depending on housing type and location.

Tips to make a small room look bigger

Bright room with neutral tones, sectional couch, round nesting coffee tables, plants on the window sill

If you are looking to open up a small space to give it a feel that is bigger than it’s footprint, these tested tips are for you. They work in any room and within any budget.

  • Use light colours on the walls to create a sense of openness and space. White is an excellent choice but you won’t sacrifice much of the illusion by selecting a light colour, if that is your preference. Conversely, dark or heavily saturated colours close in a room, giving it a smaller, cozy feel.
  • Create the illusion of more space with a mirror or two. Adding a large mirror, whether it is floor to ceiling or a framed piece over a couch or table, is highly effective.
  • Swap out curtains for hidden blinds and say good-bye to your rug. Elements that break up the space will make the room seem smaller. This is especially true of longer curtains. Those vertical lines shorten the appearance of your wall. An exception is if your curtains are an exact match to the paint colour, such as white on white walls or if you select more sheer material that allows the eye to see past the fabric. 
  • When it comes to furniture, less is more. If a room feels crowded with furniture, you notice the lack of space. It is worth removing a chair that doesn’t get used to improve the look of your room. 
  • Choose apartment-sized furniture. With consistent and growing demand from condo living, there are excellent options to choose from at a variety of price points. You don’t need a supersized couch to feel comfy.
  • Choose furniture that allows for the eye to see as much of the space behind the piece as possible. If it works for your décor, consider a glass coffee or dining table. Try to avoid chairs where material covers the legs of the chair. Clear resin is a great choice if the room has a contemporary design.

Following these tips are the best way to make any space seem larger and there is no need to sacrifice on style. Have fun decorating!