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Ottawa Real Estate Market – HOT? or NOT?

Home investment

Here we are – a full 180+ days into the 2016 Ottawa Real Estate market and we here at BGM Real Estate Team have noticed both positive and negative aspects to our local Ottawa Market. As many of you have undoubtedly heard time and time again, markets are cyclical. They rise and fall based on supply and demand, interest rates and the global economic happenings in general, helped AND hindered in spots by government regulation.

So where is our market cycle right now? Are we up? (Sellers market) or down? (Buyers market) If you read the papers it would appear the market has gone completely mad with every home getting an incredible number of offers, driving prices ever higher. While this may certainly be the case for Vancouver and Toronto, it is most certainly not the case here in the Capital.

Home investment (isolated on white, Dollar symbol)

The Ottawa Real Estate Market is Balanced

We have a very balanced market at the moment, with a few areas of exception. But let’s divide that up into a few sections so we can discuss the various pieces that make up the Ottawa Market. Let’s talk about Mortgage money, geography and expectations. You will find the last item, in fact, to be the most integral to understanding Ottawa’s market.

The cost of borrowing money in order to buy property has never been so low. With slow US economic growth, weak Canadian exports, low oil prices and consumer spending, our interest rates remain attractive. As Stephen S. Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada has put it “For the past 18 months, the biggest issue for our forecast has been tracking how the Canadian economy is adjusting to low resource prices. In the first instance, this has meant a big drop in investment spending, especially in the oil patch. It has also meant a lower value for the Canadian dollar and two interest rate cuts during 2015.”

Historically low rates have allowed Buyers into property ownership in record numbers. Even with safeguards in place (every borrower must qualify for a 5% rate, 5 year fixed term amortized over 25 years) the demand for property is quite high. This is a definite positive for the Ottawa market and we have certainly met with an abundance of qualified buyers so far this year.

So we have one in the positive column – lots of Buyers out there looking for their first or next home. Now where are they looking? The good news is there are enough Buyers out there that all neighbourhoods are getting traction in the market. But there is certainly a lean towards the centre and west ends of the city. Given that Ottawa is a very transient town, cycling heavily through government relocations, private industry changes, new immigrant growth, as well as the normal ebbs and flows we see in real estate, the Buyers are very attentive to the fact they will at some point in their 3-5 year plan be a Seller. Therefore, they are attuned to the growth patterns in the city. With calls for sustainable building and reducing the carbon footprint the desire to live downtown in high.

In addition, the Canadian Forces are opening an enormous Campus in the west end, the RCMP already moved into their campus in the south-west of the city, Outlet shopping, sports venues and all that would appeal to folks on a day-to-day basis cropping up at incredible speed in the centre and west – those markets tend to be faster, and more expensive and have been for the last 3-5 years.

Does that mean the rest of the City is in a slump? Not at all. Buyers are shopping for the best fit – proximity to their employment, schools, activities and friends and family – so we have been shopping with them in all areas of the city.

But what is it we mean by faster or slower? Are the prices higher overall? Every area, indeed every neighbourhood, has its own market, its own flavour. We hope that this is one of the reasons you hire us – as expert guides to the investment values and personalities of those neighbourhoods. When breaking down the market into the various neighbourhoods, some are certainly hot, but as a whole the Ottawa market is nicely balanced, allowing Buyers choice in their investment.

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Ottawa Market increase over time is very positive but not outrageous

The city has seen growth every single year in the residential class. Condominiums are having a rougher time, especially in the downtown area…but we think perhaps another article should explore this in greater detail.

For Sellers a balanced market can be a bit more of a trial, especially given the years from 2000-2013 were completely in their favour. Everything sold, in any condition for more than a decade! That is a difficult perception to turn around. Geographically, Sellers in many neighbourhoods are waiting longer to sell their homes. The timeframe in 2016 seems to be sitting between 60-90 days. By no means is it a tragically long time. When we became REALTORS® in the late 1990’s the market timeframe was up to a year to sell, with list to sell ratios sitting at about 90% of asking. (Folks were negotiating anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 off the asking price.) So on the geographic point we have both positive and negative. Positive for the buyers as there is more supply, negative for the Sellers for the very same reason.

Now we come to what we think is the most important point of this Ottawa market – Expectations. Perhaps some of what we have learned will help you – whether you are a Buyer, or a Seller.

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Housing Expectations vs. Reality

Let’s start with what we have seen in Sellers expectations. They have diligently watched the news, seeing reports of rising housing prices, low interest rates and competition amongst buyers for a decent home. They have also loved their homes and have deep emotional attachments (for the most part) to the place where their memories have been made. It is hard for any Seller (us included) to detach from their home and put it in the framework of a “market” of homes and how they stack up against others on their street, in the their neighbourhood and in their general area. As professional REALTORS® we are the messengers of market reality – good and bad. In a balanced market, we tend to have difficult, yet honest discussions with our Sellers about how their home presents itself to today’s Buyers. It is a testament to our passion for our clients that we bring you not only the good news, but the bad. We navigate the experience together – from pricing, to home improvements, staging, marketing, feedback….good, professional REALTORS® are there for every step. If we have one comment for our Sellers, it is that our expertise stops short of a Crystal Ball. We have no supernatural powers when it comes to the market. The day we say we have seen it all is the day we should walk away. We give you the very best we have and hope the sale doesn’t take too long.

The other part of the expectation equation are the Buyers – what do they expect? We often laugh with our first time buyers that they need to stop watching HGTV immediately upon deciding to find a home. They have been conditioned to expect the last 5 minutes of any real estate related show in every home they see OR they see a problem around every corner. Homes are imperfect things – they are made with wood, bricks, drywall, vinyl. Things that can expand, contract, break, wear down. Homes are exposed to water, wind, and sun. They sit on rocks, and sand, and clay. Each house will have a personality that reflects its owner – we see it in their choices for flooring, paint, counter top and landscaping.

We understand that today’s buyers have even less time to dedicate to a home’s overall maintenance – the very nature of employment has changed. Work commands a staggering amount of time in people’s lives, so their priorities have changed as well – seeking more balance. We try to meet those expectations, as well as educate Buyers on the nuances the TV programmes leave behind. Things like – Not every house has a problem, educating between big problems and small ones, how cosmetics of a home can change for very little, and just because it is a bit dated does not mean it doesn’t work.

It is in the analysis of the expectations of both Sellers and Buyers that we can determine the type of market Ottawa is having. When we have to help manage the expectations of BOTH sides – well, that truly is the sign of a balanced market.

Ottawa’s Best Patios – Do you have a favourite?

Well folks, the sun is warm across out backs, there are creeks of melting snow and we know that all of you are starting to experience the shivers of excitement that accompany the opening of Patio Season in the City of Ottawa! We have waited 5 long, cold, snowy months to feel Mother Nature’s rays of sunshine and here we are at the cusp of the new season. No doubt some of our fine establishments will be opening their patios this weekend as the weather hits the double digits!

Why are we so excited for patio season? Because we are essentially social creature, looking for connections, interactions and any opportunity to just plain old feel good. Most of us have enjoyed simply people watching on a patio, but more likely, we have laughed with friends and colleagues, had “meaning of life” discussions, and made new friends…all from quenching our thirst and absorbing some vitamin D!

We thought we would help you out with a list of some of the most popular patios around town, but we know some of you have your favourites…so from all of us at BGM Real Estate Team – go out and find a patio, invite friends, make friends, load up on those warm rays of sunshine…and let us know if you find, or know of, any other awesome patios in town.

by Chris Lakner

Find your place in the sun. Our guide to Ottawa’s best patios covers your best bets for sun, suds, sangria, vino and vitamin D.

ByWard Market

Clarendon Court: Secluded and cobblestone, its four restaurant patios feel European; discover the magic behind the shops on Sussex Drive, between George and York Streets, including spots like The Social and Courtyard Restaurant.

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The Social: 537 Sussex Dr.

Courtyard Restaurant: 21 George St.

Earl of Sussex Pub: The best sun and sud combo in the market.

431 Sussex Dr.

Earl of Sussex patio.

Earl of Sussex patio.

The Highlander Pub: A place to people watch with eyes on the market’s pedestrian traffic.

115 Rideau St.

Cornerstone Bar and Grill: This market hotspot is a place to be seen.

92 Clarence St.

Murray Street: This leafy patio screams romance. And the charcuterie, cheese boards and wine list will only help matters.

110 Murray St.

Métropolitain Brasserie: Steps away from the Chateau Laurier and Parliament. Grab a table or an outdoor sofa.

700 Sussex Dr.

La Terrasse: Even the sunbeams feel more elegant at this seasonal patio.

1 Rideau St.

La Terrasse patio at Chateau Laurier. Courtesy Ottawa Tourism.

La Terrasse patio at Chateau Laurier. Courtesy Ottawa Tourism.

Elgin and Sparks Streets

D’Arcy McGee’s: Spot Ottawa’s who’s who at this upscale watering hole named after a Father of Confederation.

44 Sparks St.

Fox and Feather: Terrific topside patio with a bird’s-eye view of the bustling Elgin strip.

283 Elgin St.

Pancho Villa: Pancho’s margaritas, daiquiris, sangrias and pina coladas are as big in size as they are in flavour. It might not be Cancún, but close your eyes on the sunny patio and it will feel mighty close.

361 Elgin St.

Pancho Villa's patio.

Pancho Villa’s patio.

The Glebe

Feleena’s Mexican Cantina: Sangria, anyone?

742 Bank St.

Irene’s Pub: Discover the hidden courtyard patio at this live music hotspot.

885 Bank St.

Little Italy

Pub Italia: Ireland enjoys a bit of Italy’s sun.

434 Preston St.

Pub Italia patio.

Pub Italia patio.

Westboro/Hintonburg

Tennessy Willems: Small but sublime. Come for the pizza, stay for the sunshine.

1082 Wellington St W.

Churchills: P is for patio… and Public House.

356 Richmond Rd.

Water View

Canal Ritz patio on the Rideau Canal.

Canal Ritz patio on the Rideau Canal.

Dow’s Lake: Three restaurant patios overlook the lake’s busy birds and boaters. Choose your own adventure between Malone’s Lakeside Grill, Baja Grill and Lago.

1001 Queen Elizabeth Dr.

Canal Ritz: This classy canal-side gem is boat traffic central.

375 Queen Elizabeth Dr.

Mill Street Brew Pub: Located near the Canadian War Museum on LeBreton Flats, this historic gristmill turned brewpub is also the perfect stop along the Ottawa River bike path.

555 Wellington St. 

pario drink

An Open Letter from Millennials to the Real Estate Industry – is anyone listening?

We came across this article written by REthink CRM. It asks some pretty important questions of us as REALTORS® when we think about how our business looks from the under 30 point of view, or even from technology’s point of view in an age of true mass marketing, internet ad bombardment and the 3 second visual/sound bite. It is very true that we are no longer just salespeople, the hard marketers looking for the quick transaction. This stereotype has long been the misnomer of our profession thanks to the actions of a few. Those of us that love it, and take it seriously as a career are so much more, and the “please don’t call me a millennial” crew are calling us on it. Rightfully, they are asking us to stop playing the salesperson, and start standing behind the relationships we claim this profession to be all about. We are listening, and we have heard!

REthink2016_FBLC_Millennials

Dear Residential Real Estate,

I’m a millennial, but don’t call me one. Most of us hate the term because of the negative association that seems to always go along with it. I’m tired of being called entitled, soft, lazy or spoiled. I’m a first time home buyer, which means I’ve probably spent nearly a decade digging myself and possibly my partner out from under a mountain of school debt. I’ve established myself in a career that I love, and now its time for me to finally take the step that my parents and grandparents took when they were much younger than I am; I’m finally buying a house.

Everything I buy is on-demand. Running out of soap? Amazon will have it here tomorrow. Need a ride? There is an Uber around the corner. Wondering which country has the highest coffee consumption per person? My phone can tell me instantly. If I want to watch my favorite TV show I don’t wait for a marathon or even go buy the DVD. I expect it to stream on any device, at any time for minimal cost to me. My life is built around efficiency and convenience. Keep in mind that most of us can’t even remember a time before we had cell phones permanently within arms reach.

Finding a real estate agent I can trust is difficult. And no, seeing your face on a billboard or a bus bench isn’t going to help.

You grew up seeing around 500 ads a day, but I’m used to being bombarded with at least 5,000. I don’t read the newspaper, I don’t click on banner ads, and even on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll need to have some compelling content for me to take the time to click on your ad and see what you have to offer.

How can a real estate agent earn my trust? The answer is transparency. If I look at your Twitter account or your Facebook page, is it cobwebs? Have you just been posting every listing you’ve had for the last few months and little else? Seeing old listings doesn’t tell me anything about who you are.

Make your personal brand a lot more more personal.

Tweet about the traffic you got stuck in, the run you went on this morning, or a picture of your pet. Invite your prospects into your life, or at least a version of it. Show me that cool coffee shop around the corner from one of your listings, or post a picture of a beautiful park where I could take my family on a walk after dinner some night. Tell us about that couple that looked for the perfect house for a year and finally found one they like. Show us the city and neighborhoods that you are selling.
Marketing isn’t about blasting out a message anymore, its about building thousands of personal, one-on-one relationships with your target audience.

But building relationships is what being a great real estate agent is all about, right?

The destination hasn’t changed, I just expect a car instead of a steam engine.

Buying a home is terrifying. Its the biggest purchase I’ve even considered making so far in my life and I don’t want to screw it up. I do want a real estate agent to help me through this complex process and to make sure I don’t get ripped off. But just like the rest of the products and services I use, I expect transparency and flexibility on a level that might make you a little uncomfortable. My generation thrives on making the most of every second of the day. I don’t just stand to wait in line, I check sports scores, catch up with friends, and stay up on the news.

I have a few suggestions for how you can connect with people like me. But at the end of the day what I want is for the process to go smoothly and quickly and I want a good price on a great place to live. Is that any different from what you wanted when you bought your first home?

1. Digitize as much paperwork as possible.

I understand that I’ll never be able to close on my new home from my phone, but amendments, loan applications, written offers and any other important information should all be in one place where I can easily access them. Dropbox or Google Drive will do this pretty much for free, and it makes both of our lives a lot easier.

2.  Don’t just send me a bunch of bare bones listings.

If you are showing me listings that only have a couple of pictures of the exterior of the house, we are both going to be frustrated. Its more efficient for me to narrow down my top 2 or 3 choices by taking virtual tours or examining lots of detailed pictures than it is to visit 5 or 6 houses every weekend for the next month.  If we are going to look at houses, plan out the route carefully so that we don’t constantly backtrack.

3. Be the expert.

This one might seem obvious, but don’t forget the simple things. You are the one that knows how this market works, so guide me through this. Put together an info graphic that walks me through the process of buying a home one step at a time. Show me what other first time home buyers have asked as they went through this process. Think about things that I’m going to experience in the home buying process that I can’t learn by googling things. Provide value I can’t find anywhere else.

4. Get Creative

Have you ever thought of using Air BnB or Home Away as a tool to get people to “test drive” a house? What about purchasing a drone and showing me a whole neighborhood in one short video from a bird’s eye view? Virtual reality is back, and this time it is probably here to stay. Find a way to put together virtual tours without breaking your bank. The internet is the new frontier, but it isn’t settled yet. Do something innovative and watch your business grow.

I want all the same things you wanted when you bought your first home. Stability, safety, and a solid financial investment. I might not read newspapers, but I’m still informed about the things I care about. We might not agree on everything, but I still want the world to be a better place. I want to buy a home, but I need your help.

Sincerely,

Millennials (but seriously, don’t call us that)

Home Safety Checklist

Is your hhome-safety-momome safe when you go on vacation?

Brought to you by Public Safety Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with information from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

For many people, summer means vacation and a vacation can mean leaving your home for a longer period of time than usual.

Many people who go on vacation wonder if their house will be safe while they are away. When you go on vacation, the last thing you want is a phone call telling you that your house was robbed- or even worse- coming back from vacation and discovering damage and loss. Here are some tips for securing your home.

  • Before you leave, check every door and window to make sure that everything is locked and sealed, including your garage door, shed, and basement windows. Also, make sure that you have no spare keys lying around that are “hidden” under a mat or under a rock. Burglars know where to look and a key gives them easy access. If you have a sliding window or door, put a piece of wood or a long metal rod on the track so that it can’t be pushed open.
  • Set timers on lights outside of your house. The darker it is outside your house, the more appealing it is going to be for burglars because they cannot be seen. Also, timers help give the impression that someone is home.
  • Make sure that your newspapers and mail are picked up or put on hold. If papers and mail are piled up outside your house, it is obvious that someone has not been home for a while.
  • Leave some blinds or drapes open. If your house is completely closed off, it is going to look like no one is there. If you make it appear more normal, it is less obvious that you are away.
  • Arrange to have a trusted family member, neighbour or friend to check on your home. Even if it means having them going into the house to water the plants, they can take a peek around to make sure that everything is okay.
  • Going on a vacation is an excellent reminder to ensure you have an updated inventory of household goods which may include appliances, jewellery, firearms, and other valued items.
  • If you have any cash, jewellery, or any other valuables in your home, take them out and put them in a safety deposit box. It costs money for this service, but it is far better than if someone were to break into your home and find your valuables.
  • If you are a firearms owner, please ensure you secure and store all firearms in accordance with the Firearms Act and Regulations.
  • Set timers on electronics inside your house. Put one on a lamp or even a radio. If someone is watching your home and sees that there is no activity going on inside your house, it is a clear indicator that you are not home.
  • Make sure that your home security system is on. Don’t forget to tell your friend or family member the code so that they do not set off the alarm when they check on your home.

A vacation is supposed to be a relaxing time. There is no reason why you should have to spend time worrying about the safety of your home, as long as you make sure to take the necessary precautions.

Assess — Then Address

Assessing your home’s security is an important initial step in crime prevention. Essentially, your home should look protected, well-maintained and appear to be occupied at all times. Visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website and complete their checklist, most homeowners will find that there are many areas requiring attention.

 

Posting Messages and HHTs

Military Relocation

April 1 – commonly known as April Fool’s day, but for you in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canadian Forces – April 1 is usually the day the new relocation rules come out, messages are finally cut after months of “they say I am going to…” and you prepare the family for another adventure in moving. We know of no other group that takes being uprooted like this all in their stride. Whether you have been waiting for this all year or have been surprised by it at the last minute, you should be commended for what you are about to do. We often think it is the bravest thing you do.

That being said, we do it right alongside you and your family, so we must be a bit crazy too. For 17 years now we have been running HHTs and helping sell homes for members and their families, right back from the times of the guaranteed sale. Anyone remember that? We have it down to our own art form. For the HHT – 7 days end to end (unless you get that extension), 2 for travel, 5 for shopping. Somewhere in those 5 days we see as many homes as we can, pick one, buy it, inspect it and shake hands with the lawyer before registering kids for school, organizing daycare, doctors, any extra curricular for the kids (or fur kids) and then heading home.family on the run

 

It is no mean feat to get all that done in just 5 days, so we have conditioned ourselves to run right along with you. From the time you make contact with us, we send you a package, have a nice long chat about what you need and what you want, then set up the email searching so that we can help weed out the good, the bad, and the downright ugly before you even hit ground here. Lots of advance preparation makes for much less stress for everyone. And yes, in case you are wondering, all of our professionals are on the Brookfield Global Relocations Services Supplier List.

For our members selling their homes – we are ready and waiting to get buried in the Brookfield paperwork that goes with selling your home. For those of you we helped move here this comes as no surprise, but if you have been referred to us, here is how we operate – we have an honest chat about price, timelines, COS dates, Plan A, Plan B & Plan C. Strategic, Focussed, Determined and Honest. Expect no less from us. And if you need someone like us wherever you are posted, CALL!!! We usually have someone that works the same way we do at all the bases, and down into the U.S.

All of us at BGM Real Estate Team have enormous respect for what you do, and what you have sacrificed. If we are fortunate enough to help you in your upcoming moves we are looking forward to hearing from you. If you just happened to read this for fun but already have your own preferred professional, then we both welcome you to the Nation’s capital and wish you all the luck in the world at your next destination

 

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Posting

 

Welcome to BGM’s NEW Website – www.myottawateam.com!

Website Resolution

Our Initial Idea about Websites

In this business, we are all expected to make decisions fairly quickly. It was no different with the decision to update the website…quick and easy move to freshen up our look. Shopped around for a website developer, decided on the look we wanted, filled out some questionnaires. Not hard, right? WRONG! We all surf the web, look at everyone’s sites, play with cool widgets – but have you really counted the layers on a website??

Reality

About 5 weeks into the project we looked around at each other and tried to stave off the need to roll under our desks and adopt the fetal position. No doubt our web developer was on the other end of the line chuckling to themselves. Design, features, widgets, text – all 90+ pages deep – which one of us was going to tackle all that AND sell homes???? Well, we hitched up our big kid pants and dove right in. 25 weeks later – TA DA! And only one of us is still looking longingly at the space under the desk. (We will let you guess who that might be.)

No one prepares you for the amount of time, or discomfort it takes to 1. talk about yourself, 2. Succinctly get your point across about real estate, 3. Find a written “voice” that is true to who you are, 4. Learn all you can about widgets, SEO (Search engine optimization for those NOT familiar), Jetpacks and WordPress and 5. Actually sit down and write out 90 pages of content!!

remax website creation

Creating BGM’s website

The best advice we can give to anyone out there about to “freshen up” their website – think long, think hard, and when they tell you 5 weeks – add 20 more – because if you are trying to sell homes and make your clients happy at the same time – you need breathing room!

We hope you enjoy the site and you will stay awhile and play with our phenomenal calculator, and take in some of the highlights under the resource links.

Contact Us

Address:3B-2160 Montreal Road
Ottawa, Ontario
K1J 1G4

Phone:613-558-8000

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