Things look better for the Ottawa real estate market after a slow start to 2014. “We are receiving more inquiries from qualified buyers, which should translate into a strengthening and balanced market for the rest of the year,” says Patrick Morris.
Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,792 residential properties in May 2014, exceeding April’s sales by 26.2 per cent. The sales included 1,489 units in the residential property class and 303 in the condo property class.
Despite the uptick in sales, Patrick adds a couple of notes of caution. The first relates to job uncertainty within the federal public service, “which may have a dampening effect this summer and coming fall.”
The other, says Patrick, is the fact that the overall inventory of homes on the market has substantially increased. “The inventory of residential properties in May has risen 10.6 per cent compared with the same period last year. The condo inventory has increased 19.0 per cent.
“The year-to-date sales of residential properties was up 1.2 per cent compared with the first five months of 2013. Condo sales are down 7.1 per cent compared to 2013 year-to-date figures. It is a very good time to buy a condo with a wide selection in all price ranges.”
Overall, “we are gaining more confidence compared with the first three months of 2014.”
The most common definition of market value is: “The highest price that a property will bring to a willing seller if it is exposed for sale on the open market, and there is reasonable time to find a willing buyer, who is buying with the knowledge of all the property’s uses.” Under this definition, neither the buyer or seller are acting under necessity, compulsion or special circumstances. (In Ottawa, the open market has come to be equated with selling on the Multiple Listings Service [MLS]).
Good question. Normally, swimming pools will not garner a property any increase in price, which is why most appraisers refer to them as a “revenue-neutral” improvement. However, if a pool area is beautifully and extensively landscaped and the pool is heated, the value could be between $5,000 and $15,000.
That said, some buyers believe a pool will bring them a lot of enjoyment. The value a homeowner derives from a pool is having the use of it. Some people consider it cheaper to have a pool than to own a cottage. It’s a personal choice. Unless you stay in the property for many years, you don’t recoup the total cost of installing a new pool.
A Cleaner, Contemporary Look: “What most homebuyers want today are clean, contemporary lines in the kitchen for a streamlined look,” observes Patrick Morris. That means less ornate cabinet fronts, minimal molding, simpler countertops, hardwood floors, floors that are easier to take care of (e.g., bigger tiles), and a scaled-back colour palette.
Quartz Countertops: Whereas granite and marble used to be the materials of choice for countertops, now quartz is gaining popularity, says Patrick, because it is easy to maintain and affordable, and more choice is becoming available in terms of colour and style.
The Shaker Style: This open-plan style, with its simplicity and use of natural materials, is the choice of many homebuyers for kitchen design. “The Shaker style has a nice, classic look without being too over-the-top traditional,” notes Patrick.
Open Plan: Make room for the chef, or chefs. Kitchens are increasingly adopting an open plan, and opening up to other rooms, affording more space to cook, and to socialize.
Modern Appliances: Gas and induction cooktops are extremely popular today. French door fridges are almost a must in smaller or galley-style kitchens.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has increased its homeowner mortgage insurance premiums by around 15 per cent, on average, effective May 1, 2014. Mortgage loan insurance is usually required by lenders when homebuyers make a down payment of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.
For the average homebuyer who needs CMHC-insured financing, the higher premium means an increase of about five dollars to their monthly mortgage payment.
This rate rise is not expected to affect the housing market.
The higher rates apply only to new mortgage loan insurance requests submitted on or after May 1, 2014.
"The higher premiums reflect CMHC’s higher capital targets," said Steven Mennill, CMHC’s Vice-President, Insurance Operations. "CMHC’s capital holdings reduce Canadian taxpayers’ exposure to the housing market and contribute to the long-term stability of the financial system."
Once again WESTFEST— Ottawa’s largest free arts festival in early June—was a huge hit, and once again the Morris Home Team was a major sponsor. "It’s a huge community event," says Patrick, noting that more than 100,000 people attend each year. "Congratulations to Elaina Martin, WESTFEST’s founder and producer, for the continued success of this popular event. Every year I’m amazed how much she accomplishes with bringing WESTFEST to the community for everyone to enjoy. We are honoured to be a part of that process. We always like to support local events, and it’s the only free community event of this scale. Small businesses help fund and support WESTFEST every year."
This year’s lineup included Cape Breton’s fiddling sensation Ashley MacIsaac, songwriter and musician George Leach, and A Tribe Called Red.
Patrick Morris and Team are excited to be the first named sponsors for Phase 2 of the Dovercourt Recreation Centre building expansion project, and challenge all Westboro businesses to join in. Dovercourt is a vibrant hub, delivering a full range of programs and services to residents of the greater Westboro area.
Earlier this spring, Patrick was given the 2014 Council for the Arts Business Recognition Award for his support of the arts in Ottawa. "It was a privilege and an honour to receive such a prestigious award. We help support our community because it’s the right thing to do," says Patrick. "Foundations and the arts community depend on small businesses to contribute and to hopefully improve the community we get to enjoy every day."