Trish Bongard Godfrey

Hot Market, Warm Homes, Cold City – 2013 Year End Round-Up

06 January 2014
Trish Bongard Godfrey

Cold City, Warm Homes

So after that nasty ice storm over Christmas, I thought we'd get a break from the cold, but it has continued until today. At least we haven't had to contend with more power outages and loss of heating. But that doesn't mean our houses are warm. The cold snap has forced me to snap out of my old-house put-up-with-it malaise and figure out where the air leaks are.

On bad, windy days, I pad around in bare feet, searching out drafts like a pig after truffles. It works. We've tackled some big heat suckers – such as poorly boarded up windows that were blocked during a renovation years ago and never seen again – and tackled small spots around doors and windows with caulking. If you aren’t too busy, crochet or knit a 3" sausage-like roll for your door drafts (kidding, ok?), or go to Home Depot and buy one. Very old-fashioned, but it helps.

I personally find that spraying expanding foam insulation in the basement between the joists by the outside walls is a weirdly satisfying way to spend a frigid Saturday morning. The heat in our old house is now much more even and comfortable. We installed a glass door in front of our fireplace, too, which keeps the drafts down a lot in the living room. That cost about $1,000.

An eco-energy audit might help if you don't have the truffle pig instinct. Carson Dunlop, who do loads of home inspections for buyers and seller, offers a Home Energy Audit. 

I have done three energy audits on my homes. The really cool inspection was done with an infrared camera in the cold and dark outside. If you can't to do the work now, at least make a list for the summer and do that caulking and filling when you have time. You'll be happier next winter.

Hot Market!

You may have heard about the house on Perth Avenue that went for about $210,000 over asking ($639,000–$848,625). It was written up in the Toronto Star. I had clients who were offering on it. We knew it would end up about that price, but who knew there would be 34 offers? It was a realtor's own home. It was nutty. I asked if we would get an "I was there" T-shirt. (Ah, no.)

Here is the problem with underpricing a property.

First and foremost, the listing agents should have known it was really underpriced. They bragged about the 400 people who had gone through the Open House. Who needs 400 people on a cold weekend to sell an underpriced house in this market? With 34 clients offering, imagine how many more people wasted their time going to see a house they can't buy?

Second, many of the potential buyers would have had 5% and required CMHC insured financing. And to get that, they probably had to get it appraised. The listing agent confirmed that they knew it was appraised for considerably less than selling price. Those appraisals – often paid for by young, cash conscious buyers – were kind of a waste. Even though the seller had commissioned a pre-sale home inspection, my careful clients spent time and money inspecting the property too with another home inspector. All this makes everyone wary of the market and agents.

Did this yield a better price for the seller? Who knows? If they stuck to their sales plan, it was a one-shot offer situation. No negotiations. I don't know, but that just leaves a lot of people shooting in the dark. But if the buyer and seller are satisfied, then I guess it worked. However, it sure sucked up a lot of time and energy, and I find it a bit disingenuous as a respectful sales plan.

2013 Toronto Real Estate Round Up

Sales and Average Price Up in Calendar Year 2013

January 6, 2014 -- Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,078 residential transactions through the TorontoMLS system in December 2013 - up by almost 14 per cent compared to 3,582 sales reported in December 2012. New listings entered into the TorontoMLS system were down by almost four per cent over the same period. Total sales for calendar year 2013, at 87,111, were up by approximately two per cent compared to 85,496 transactions in calendar year 2012.

"After a slow start to the year, sales growth accelerated to a brisk pace in the second half of 2013. Despite the inclement weather in December, we finished the year with a respectable gain in transactions compared to 2012. Looking forward, I believe that homeownership in the GTA will remain affordable as borrowing costs stay low. The result could be a further increase in sales in 2014," said Toronto Real Estate Board President Dianne Usher.

"The average selling price will be up again in 2014 and by more than the rate of inflation. The seller's market conditions that drove price growth in the second half of 2013 will remain in place in many parts of the GTA. Some neighbourhoods, especially those characterized by low-rise home types like singles, semis and townhomes, will continue to have less than two months of inventory," said Jason Mercer, TREB's Senior Manager of Market Analysis.

The average selling price for December 2013 sales was $520,398 - up by 8.9 per cent compared to the average of $477,756 in December 2012.

The average selling price for 2013 as a whole was $523,036, which represented an increase of 5.2 per cent compared to the calendar year 2012 average of $497,130.