Monday, May 25, 2009


My June 2009 edition of Bricks & Mortar Real Estate Reporter is now available. Visit here to read.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Home sales on the rise

Real Estate Market UpdateSales of detached homes in April topped the same month last year. According to the London St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR), 666 detached homes sold last month, compared to 654 last April. Total units sold decreased 4.5% because only 138 condos sold compared to 188 in April 2008.

This is the third consecutive month of improvement since January when total sales were down 35% compared to the year before. Prices have also seen improvement; average price of homes sold from January to April is $207,591, down only 1.8% from the same period last year.

New tax credits and programs allowing homebuyers to draw money from their RRSP for home purchases were a big driving force in the market - attracting first-time homebuyers. And with London's diverse economy, we've been more insulated from a sharp downturn in house prices hitting some other cities such as St. Thomas. Heavily dependent on the auto industry, they're really feeling the pinch with a 27% drop in sales in April, compared to same month last year.

Home sales are important economic generators in themselves. A new national study shows each home sale generates $46,400 in additional spending on furniture, appliance, and renovation moving and legal fees. Past recessions have shown that real estate sales typically rebound before the job market and general economy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Home energy efficiency...consider a voluntary energy audit

Mary and I just came back from 2 ½ intensive days taking a passive solar course in friendly, rainy Truro Nova Scotia. Make sure you stop in at Murphy’s fish and Chips located on the Esplanade. There is a reason it is rated Atlantic’s best! I am not going to build a passive solar home, but I am going to use and adapt the principles in the course to help make my living conditions more comfortable and cost efficient.

When my buyer is seriously considering a property I encourage them to call the utility companies. This gives you a starting point for the energy costs for that property. I say a starting point because too many questions are unanswered; How hot did they keep the house? How old are the occupants? Who is there during the day? How many hours watching TV? The answer to these questions helps us understand the routine of the house.

An energy audit will help. The government’s new position now makes energy audits voluntary rather than mandatory (yes, that's right; no more mandatory energy audits!). Consider doing one and sharing with prospective buyers, not only will it help the buyer; they may forgo doing a home inspection! Everywhere you look today it is “green” this and “green” that. You can even receive rebates for making your property more energy efficient.

I ask my sellers to tape the heating bills to the furnace. Sharing the costs helps answer a basic buyer question. The rest is educating…you know…for every 2° over 70 can increase your heating bill as much as 15%. Babies and elderly people often keep their homes between 72 & 76. Programmable thermostats reduce heating costs when used properly and increase costs when not.

Back to the passive solar course, I re-learned the angle of the sun between winter and summer and its efficiency time, roughly high noon and 15°- 30° either way. In the winter allow the sun in during the day and let it warm something that can radiate heat. In the summer keep it out to help keep your home cooler. The result is less energy needed to heat or cool your home. I learned a lot this past weekend. Living in an old house our forefathers knew a lot about this emerging technology; history does repeat itself. A penny saved is a dollar earned!

Two similar properties offered for sale, 1 costs $500.00 more to heat…if you were on a budget which would you choose? Which is worth more?

Do you have any tips to share? Are you doing anything to reduce your utility costs without giving up your comfort? Please share.