One of my colleagues took a client through a home that they loved. Life intervened and they never got a chance to buy it. The owner, tired of having the house on the market, took it off and did some remodeling to accommodate his expanding family. More than two years have passed and the ‘Buyers’ still dream of the ‘house that got away’. While they have looked at many others in the same neighbourhood, none come close to the first house. What can they do?
One very good possibility is to approach the owner and ask if he is amenable to selling his home. Certainly, a contract that he may have had with his original agent has expired, even with the extension clause. He could deal directly with the buyers (if they do not have an agent under contract), he could rehire his original agent, he could work with the buyers’ agent. At the very least, he could find out what the current market conditions are and whether or not a sale at this time is something that would be to his benefit.
One thing Buyers often do is ASSUME a condition, a personality of a Seller, or other things that are not factual. At the very least, and with respect to the Seller, ascertain the facts. Maybe the owner is willing to sell, maybe not. If not, the Buyers can move on to another property. If so, and the price is right, the Buyers will get their dream home.
An opera is not over until the fat lady sings. A home is not for sale until the owner confirms it.
This is a television aerial. It may be the only way to get some television and only locally broadcast television. What is missing is the cable. You know, the three hundred plus stations (of which 290 are useless) that you get at home. Are you like me and need a news fix every morning. Well, with this aerial, you might get the local news and then again, it might not be working because of the wind and clouds and gawd knows what else.
So, if you are buying a cottage, ask about the television reception. It could be that you won’t get any and then you will be forced to talk to your family and guests. If you can get a couple of stations, you will start seeing shows that you would never have bothered with at home. Then again, maybe you can cut down half of the trees on the property so that you can get a satellite fix. Is it going to be worth it? No trees? Isn’t that why you bought the cottage?
If you don’t get television or only get poorly received stations, keep the TV and a DVD player for games and for those movies that you can watch every year. I only wish Bridgette Jones would stop writing her diary. Start buying some board games and get a copy of Hoyle’s Rules for card games. You never know….. one day all that crib will pay dividends when, in your old age, you enter tournaments at the home.
If you are out shopping for a cottage make sure you understand the drinking water sources.
1. Is there a well? How deep and has the water been recently tested? You will want to take a sample and have the water tested yourself.
2. Is the cottage on municipal waterlines? Wow and good for you. Of course you will be paying for that in water bills but the convenience may be worth it.
3. What happens if the only water is from the lake? Of course you will want to run a line into the lake for all the non-potable needs (showers, dishes, washing). You may even decide that you will drink that water once it has been filtered. Make sure you have the water tested from time to time. You may decide that boiling the water that you drink will be sufficient. Again, have the water tested.
4. Finally, you may decide that hauling drinking and food prep water in from the city in big plastic jugs /thermos and stocking a good supply of water bottles. Watch out for containers with bisphenol-A (BPA ). I know there are many cottagers who go to the nearest town and fill their bottles regularily from a communal pump or tape.
Just because you have a whole lake in front of you doesn’t mean that you will want to drink from it. Before buying, look at your options.
Whenever it gets cold and I get tired of walking on icy streets, I start to look at real estate in British Columbia. Even when there is snow, it doesn’t stay in the Vancouver area or on the south end of Vancouver Island (at least that is my dream). So, I have been back looking on the Internet at real estate.
If we are going to live in our next home for 20 or 30 years, then I need to take into account that yard and house maintenance will be a future issue as will climbing stairs to the second floor to go to the master bedroom. I am looking at condos targeted to adults. Now, here are 2 things that I have noticed when condo town homes, apartments and single homes are listed for these adult communities:
- Age minimum: 19
- Pets: Dogs no more than 20 pounds and no taller from the floor to the top of the head of 20″.
Seems like there are some condo boards (called strata in BC) that have become VERY specific about the pets and about children. I guess the definition of adult is 19 and over in BC. What 19 year old in his right mind is going to want to live in an old folks community? Oh yes, the 19 year old who needs free room and board. LOL
I got out the tape measure and the scale and with a few more walks and less treats, Hoover can meet the dog criteria. Just one more reason for having Westies.
Dogs and Kids but with limits.
This makes me think of The Man of La Mancha - The Impossible Dream. While condo dwelling is highly unlikely to be as unpalatable as living in Don Quixote’s dungeon, itmay not live up to the expectations of the carefree living the Boomer is hoping to obtain.
When retirement finally arrives, many Boomers have plans to spend time traveling, reading, relaxing by a pool, maybe fishing and spending weeks every year at a cottage. Having the big suburban home AND having the freedom to live the nomadic life may not be compatible objectives. This is when the Boomer starts dreaming of moving to a condo. Boomers were brought up to be owners. Condos are a type if shared ownership. Just remember, condos were not likely in existence when the Boomer was an apartment renter and just starting out on his or her own. Some things are going to be a surprise.
In life, there are always trade-offs and compromises. The attraction of a condo is to have the freedom to close your door and take off for months without worrying about your home, to never have to mow the lawn or water the flowers, to have the exterior of your home maintained and to share in the costs of the common parts of the property. The downside is:
- You do not have complete control on the costs. The condo board and members (of which each owner is a member) vote on the expenditures. So, if you decide you no longer will be using the pool and you know that it cost a lot of money to insure and maintain, you do not have the sole right to close the pool. When the roof needs immediate replacing, SURPRISE, unless there is an adequate reserve fund, you too will be have to pay for the roof through a special assessment.
- You do not get to pick your neighbours. What happens if they are loud or play the drums, or have parties every Friday night, or cook weird smelling food? Those neighbours are owners like you so the dispute is between the two (there is no landlord to impose rules and resolve issues).
- You do not make all the rules. Some condos won’t allow pets or smoking or Christmas lights or hardwood floors or renovation work after 4:00PM or…… etc etc. Those rules are written in the by-laws. Check those rules before buying BUT also be prepared for new rules to be voted in at the Annual General Meeting.
- You do not have a landlord to check your unit when you are away. In fact, there is no one to let you in if you have lost your keys. Who is the property manager? Can you get ahold of them at 1:00AM when you are locked out? Do you have friends who will look in your unit while you are away? Check your insurance, a vacated unit still needs to be checked to keep the insurance active.
- You do not have control over the common elements. If family and friends come to visit, where are they going to park? You only have so many assigned / purchased parking spots and the visitor parking will, in all likelihood, have limitations of who can park and for how long. Hate the decorating in the lobby? This is not something you can take over. Want more outdoor seating? Take it to the Board.
- You cannot control the value of the condo. Not only are condos subject to market forces but the value of your building or complex is going to be based on the condition of the property – inside the unit (which you control) and outside (which the owners control). Buyers are going to look at special assessments, the engineering reports and the condition of the roof, windows, HVAC, etc. These have not all been within our control.
After living in a suburban home with the independence of total ownership, condo living trades some of this for additional freedoms and peace of mind for not having to be personally responsible for the property.
Don’t tilt at the windmills. Make sure that you see the windmill and not your dreams
Photo credit: Windmill
This is a story that is being repeated all over the country. Boomers want to downsize. This is hardly a surprise. The surprise or even shock is that it is going to cost them money to live in less space. To some, it is so appalling that they have decided to stay in their current home.
Boomers own their home in the suburbs. Most are mortgage free. The home has four bedrooms, three baths, a family room, a rec room in the basement, two or three car garage and a huge yard full of trees and shrubs and maybe a pool. Okay, there may be variations of this but the essence is – the boomers own family friendly property. Now…… The kids have finished school and left the nest. The Boomers are rattling around a big house and find that they live in the kitchen – family room space and their bedroom. It seems that it is time to move to something smaller.
Here is the rub. The new home or condo may cost more than the proceeds from the sale of the big home in the suburbs. What?
- The market has reacted to the demand for large condos and retirement homes by placing a premium on the sales price. Remember, the Boomers are a tidal wave moving through demographic data. If you, a Boomer, are thinking of downsizing then so are millions of your fellow 1946-1964 birthday buddies. Simple supply and demand economics at work.
- Your lovely home is a wee bit tired. Forty plus years of the same kitchen, with the wrought iron railings, pink carpet, parquet flooring and paneled rec room is telling the story. Although you have house size you have a house waiting for updating and renovations. Your home is not competitive. It is not giving Buyers what they want in updates.
- You want to move but you are certainly not going to settle for apples to apples. Your tastes are now refined and you want granite and a bungalow backing on a golf course with grounds keepers or the whole top floor of a condo in the downtown area. You are selling a MacIntosh apple to buy an organically grown Star Fruit. Would you be happy buying the little bungalow down the block from your current home with the need for the same updates as your current home? Would you be happy with the location? No?
After finding out that their home is not the gold mine that they hoped for, many potential Boomer Sellers make the decision to stay in their current home. In some cases, the Boomer will update the family home, adjust the buying expectations and make the move at a later time.
Photo Credit: UK Baby Boom and Bust by David Willets
It is January. The cold sets in to the northern states and Canada and whole flocks of people head south for a reprieve from the misery of boots and parkas. Many people go to the same location year after year. They develop friendships and links to the community. It gets to be a home away from home and eventually, what with the crash in home prices, the Snow Bird starts to think of buying versus renting.
Oh, it is tempting to see residential and condo opportunities at an unbelievable price. For Canadians, the temptation is compounded with the strength of the Canadian dollar. Buy or rent? Buy or rent? I get asked this question a lot. Mostly these come from friends and acquaintances who have been going to Florida – Texas – Arizona for years. I have a couple of questions just to make them think that there are both pros and cons to buying.
- Flexibility. Buying ties you down to one location. Do you want to travel to Europe or Africa next year? What happens if you find that all of your friends are renting at another location in Florida? Can you move to be near them?
- Worries. When you are not there, are you going to be worried about your property? If you spend all of your time worrying about the care and maintenance of your current home then think of doubling that if you also have a home several thousand miles away.
- Condo concerns. If it is a condo that you are considering, take a very long and hard look at the management of the facility, the costs of maintenance, the number of full time owners versus renters.
- Rental Opportunities. Are there real opportunities for renting when you are not there? I know one couple was keen to buy a place and have it available all winter for themselves and then rent it out in the summer. Well, the question to ask is – If you don’t want to be there in the summer then why would anyone else? If you want to skip a year, can you manage renting your home and having strangers living in it for periods of time. Will they care for your things as well as you do?
- Tax laws. For Canadians there are tax implications if you stay in the US for longer than 6 months. If you buy in Florida, there are tax penalties for out of state and out of US buyers. If you rent then you have an income property and that will bring you into the tax system. Be sure to talk to your lawyer about estate planning. Having a property in another state or country may be a complication for the executor and for those who you hope will inherit your money.
- Health care concerns. Can you continue to get insurance for long periods away from your home state or province? What happens if you get sick and cannot use your home for one or more years?
- Value. Has the market bottomed out and you will be getting the best possible deal? I know people who have purchased a vacation home only to have it drop in value by $50,000 in the three years that they have owned it. If you are buying for the long haul, do you care about the vagaries of the market? Is there something else you would like to be doing with the money that you would be using to buy the vacation property?
- Mortgages. Securing financing for a vacation property is not the same as getting a mortgage for your home. This is especially true for foreigners. Lenders will be very hesitant to provide financing. Most foreign buyers have to pay cash – either because they have the savings to do so or they have refinanced their home to make the funds available. There you were, mortgage free and suddenly you have a mortgage. Something to think about.
- Nesting Instinct. How strong is your nesting instinct? Do you have to paint and renovate and decorate every place you stay? If you are renting then this is not an option. Ask yourself if renovating is how you want to spend your winter holidays. Maybe yes, maybe no. If you think renovating will help you flip the property, make sure that you have a long discussion with your real estate agent about the wisdom of investing more money in the property (for resale value). You are not always going to make your money back plus profit.
Photo credit: Snowy Owl
Your house is on fire…. The standard Purchase Agreement has a clause saying that the sale is conditional upon the buyer being able to get the home insured. If you have never had home insurance then start shopping for insurance (through an insurance broker) at the same time as you shop for your mortgage. It takes time. You want the right coverage and the right price. Make sure that you get insured on the day of possession at 12.00AM, even if you don’t get the keys until 6:00 PM.
You cannot get a mortgage for an uninsurable home.
Photo credit: ladybug
Before buying your house along a river find out the history of flooding on that section of the river. Most rivers, with residential property on the banks, have a conservation authority that established building rules (such as proximity to the bank, type of construction and plantings). Go to the Authority and find out the flooding history.
Don’t get sandbagged into buying the wrong property.
Photo credit: 090325-F-0681L-066
In 1997 I lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Red River flows north through the city up from Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota. What a river!!! Because it is situated on the prairies there is flat land all along the this northern part of the river. Flooding is an annual concern. In 1997, there were devastating floods. Downtown Fargo was under water. Millions of dollars was spent saving lives and livestock. The military in both countries came to the rescue. Sandbagging, that hard back breaking work, was carried on day and night.
It is my hope is that the snowmaggedon of winter 2010/2011 will not result in a repeat of the flooding.
The Bare Naked Ladies said they would buy a house. What would they get?
Today there are 125 residential listings of $1,000,000 or more. In fact, the prices range from $1 Million to $9Million. Of the 125 homes, 26 are priced at $2 Million or more.
Almost all homes are in the defined Ottawa Real Estate area (there are a couple of listings outside of this area).
- 1 – 1 1/2 Story Homes
- 71 – 2 storey
- 15 – 3 storey
- 32 – bungalows
- 1 – High Ranch
- 3 – other
- 2 - Split level homes
The number of bedrooms range from 0 to 8. Most of these homes have 3, 4 or 5 bedrooms.
One home has 9 bathrooms.