Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Real Estate Trends: Bidding Wars – Part 3

For the last two weeks we've discussed several factors which are leading to the constant bidding wars in our real estate market.  This week we will wrap up the discussion with some factors you might not have thought of.  So without further ado…

Low Vacancy Rates
The Windsor-Essex area’s vacancy rate on rental units dropped to 2.9%, with CMHC’s latest report in the fall.  That is an amazing turnaround from 2008-09 with 12-14% rates.  With this decrease in vacancy comes a decrease in available rental supply and an increase in rental prices.  People in the area considering whether to rent or buy might be disappointed to see the available options for rent on the market and what that rent gets them.  Combine this with low interest rates and it can in many cases make it cheaper to own than rent.  This low rental supply and high rent price dynamic has definitely added to the demand from buyers in our market.

Sticker Shock On New Construction Prices
The cost of new construction in the area has really taken off in the last few years.  Part of that is based on increased demand.  But part of it also comes from increased soft and hard costs including building permits, increased building code, increased import prices due to the low Canadian dollar, etc.  Many people are no longer able to afford a new home so they are forced to settle for finding a suitable resale home, increasing demand of existing homes.  There is also a consideration that resale homes will tend to keep pace with increases in new construction prices, so the relative values don’t get out of whack.

A Period Of Depressed New Construction Before This Cycle
Approximately between the 2007-2011 period, there was a rough patch in the demand for new housing.  The auto industry was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, unemployment was high and people were leaving the area.  Naturally, there wasn’t much building going on.  Now that things have turned around, the new supply hasn’t been able to keep up with the pent up demand due to that period of under-building.  To give an example, the condo market is extremely tight now for supply.  Hardly any condos were built in the area over the last 10 years.  But during those 10 years the population aged, the millennial segment of the population grew (with their admiration for condos) and the demographics were there for condos to be built.  However due to economic reasons, none were built.  Now we are in a period of catch up where there is a lag of new condo supply to meet that pent up demand.  Let's build some condos!

Upcoming Infrastructure Projects
Smart infrastructure has great spin off for the local economy and people are positioning themselves ahead of what’s to come.  We have some big projects coming to the area.  The new bridge crossing, the accompanying recently completed Herb Gray Parkway, the new Mega Hospital (even if the site is undetermined), the University of Windsor is moving downtown, and a new City Hall, just to name a few.  These sorts of projects if done correctly, increase economic activity and efficiency, lead to increased investment in the area, and trickles down to increased housing demand.  The future looks bright for the foreseeable future on this front.

This exhausts our discussions on the factors leading to bidding wars in our local real estate market.  We hope you found it insightful.  Do you agree or disagree with any of these factors.  Any you feel we missed?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017 Real Estate Trends: Bidding Wars – Part 2

Last week we discussed a topic that everyone seems to be talking about: bidding wars.  Some of the cause and effect for these trends are hard to pinpoint.  Today we are going to expand on some of the factors leading to these bidding wars, with some that are less obvious.

Migration To The Area
As explained last week, part of the population growth that is occurring in the area comes from elevated levels of immigration.  The other part of the equation is the people migrating to the area from other parts of Ontario and Canada.  One large drag we had back during the economic downturn was people moving out west for Jobs after being laid off in the auto industry.  With the rebound in the auto industry and the downturn in the oil patch, this trend has reversed.  And not just out west, but from other population centres in Canada as well.

People Choosing Windsor-Essex As A Retirement Destination
As the population of Canada ages with the Baby Boomers, a large segment is hitting or will soon hit the traditional retirement age.  Some of these boomers are choosing to retire in lower cost areas such as ours to boost their retirement balance sheet.  Moving from high priced markets such as Toronto or Vancouver to ours provides a way for them to access the equity in their home and in many cases buy a similar home and put a very significant sum in the bank to fund their retirements.  To add to this, the area boasts some of the best weather, easy access to the US, wineries, and more – all perks to retiring in Windsor-Essex.

Increased Investment From Out-Of-Towners
A lot of real estate investors invest based on economic fundamentals, something our area didn’t have for a long period of time.  That has changed and so has the appetite to invest in our market.  Leading indicators such as economic growth, low unemployment, population growth, new construction, etc. have all been very supportive and investors have followed.  Traditional investor segments of the market, such as multifamily, might be the hottest markets of all.  In fact, the inventory of investment properties is so low its makes it extremely tough for buyers in this market.

Unseasonably Good Weather This Winter
The prognosticators were calling for a brutal winter in our area this year.  Didn’t end up playing out that way (fine by us ).  In fact, people were golfing in February this year in our area!  This balmy weather pulled up some of the traditional spring market activity and definitely added to demand.  This is a seasonal effect but no doubt helped the statistics to start the year.

Those are some additional factors that have resulted in the continued bidding wars.  Next week we will exhaust our analysis to wrap up our thoughts on the subject.  Have you seen any of these factors playing out too?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

2017 Real Estate Trends: Bidding Wars

As spring quickly approaches, the typical peak period housing market activity is almost here.  Only this year it seems to have come early.  The statistics for the first few months of 2017 have been off the charts.  Bidding wars are everywhere and people are asking when will it calm down.  Well today we are going to talk about some of the factors driving these bidding wars and buoyant market activity.

Low Levels of Inventory
It seems month after month the same story emerges.  Sales are up 10%+ and listings are flat to down on a monthly year over year basis.  As this trend continues, each month the increasing sales are eating up more and more inventory and driving down inventory.  We are now at the point where we have very low inventory… not enough houses to go around to meet demand.

Continued Low Interest Rates
Interest rates have been trending down for years and have pretty much held near record low levels for the past year to 18 months.  Today you would be looking at 5 year fixed rates in the 2.5% range and variable as low as 2%.  These low rates make it easier for the buying public to service more debt and afford to pay more for their homes.  This all leads to increased demand from buyers who are willing to pay more for what they want as it is still affordable to them on a monthly basis.

The population is growing and a big part of that influx is coming from immigrants.  The type of immigrants coming to Canada these days have much deeper pockets than previous generations and hold widely held beliefs in the concept of home ownership and hard assets (such as real estate).  This is a large and growing segment of the market, and they also seem to be buying up lots of new construction.

Low Unemployment
Not that many years ago our region had among the highest unemployment rates in Canada.  We have rebounded from 10%+ to as low as 5.2% recently, which is below the Federal and Provincial average.  Manufacturing is booming again, the economy has become more diversified since the downturn, and now when we talk to business owners their biggest complaints are about difficulties in staffing.  What a turnaround it has been and these workers have steady paycheques allowing them to buy larger homes and more of them. Demand increased!

Those are some of the straightforward factors leading to the strength in our local real estate market recently.  Next week, we will continue on with some lesser known factors.  What has your experience been out there this year?