Monthly Archives: November 2015

Some Great Mobile Apps for Real Estate Agents and Potential Homebuyers

The real estate game is evolving. For real estate agents, being Internet savvy and having a strong online presence are now pre-requisites for being an effective salesman. One aspect of the job that is likely never to change is having to hit the pavement; conducting work while on the go, whether it be travelling to a home staging or open house. Many online and mobile tools exist to make the home searching and buying process more convenient for potential buyers. There is a huge market for “search” apps;; popular websites and apps like Zillow, and Redfin. However, there is a growing market for apps targeted to real estate agents intended to boost productivity while away from the office. In this blog, I’d like to highlight some of the more popular apps that I believe should be in every agent’s mobile toolbox.

The first app that will have mass appeal among real estate agents is called “MagicPlan” (download here at the Google Play store). This free app perform an extremely valuable function, allowing the user to easily create a floor plan of a home by taking snapshots of each of the rooms in sequence. A floor plan is created automatically that includes room dimensions, floor and window openings, which can then be easily converted to JPEG or PDF format. And this is where the app gets you; creating the floor plan is free, but exporting it will cost you upwards of $3 each.

Virtual View”, created by Virtual View App Ltd. out of London, is a free Augmented Reality app for property listings available on iOS devices. This app is fantastic for marketing purposes, giving your promotional material an added flare. Users of the app point their phone or tablet’s camera to a static image that is Virtual View “App-enabled” to access additional digital content such as 3D property models, 3D floor-plans, photo galleries and videos, or to an agency’s social media channels, website, or any other relevant content. Admittedly, a few elements have to be in play in order for the app to truly be effective. First, if you are a real estate agent that still distributes print material, you’ll have to ensure that all content is created and “app-enabled” (attached to the promotional circular), a process that can be laborious. In addition, there is no guarantee that those who receive the print material will have the app handy to view the additional information, making the entire process moot. It’s a novel idea, though.

And then there’s “Vieweet,” made by the same creators of Virtual View, which allows you to create 360 degree virtual tours of your properties with ease. Using a specially designed “fish eye lens” (a separate purchase that you must buy in addition to the app, a huge downside of the product), users have the capacity to create images that are very reminiscent of Google Street View. The panoramas created are more than just images, but also have an interactive element, with the ability to add content on top of the rotatable image.

HomeSnapHomeSnap”, based out of Washington D.C., touts themselves as the “Shazam for Homes,” but is really more of a real estate specific “Google Goggles.” Either way, it’s pretty remarkable. Using your phone’s camera, simply snap a photo of the home you are looking at, and the app immediately recognizes it and accesses all publically available data, including sales and listing prices. If you are not immediately in front of the home, you can use your phone’s GPS functionality to browse local “For Sale” homes from the comfort of your couch. As an agent, HomeSnap has additional premium features that allow you to add branding to the search results, as well as the ability to receive notifications every time one of your listings gets a search hit. In-app branding is not limited to just agents, with entire brokerages having the ability to advertise. In addition, HomeSnap Pro also provides real-time access to agent-only MLS data, for agents who want to use it as a tool for themselves.

Toronto Open Door Program

A Major Announcement Regarding Toronto’s “Open Door” Program

The city of Toronto launched the “Open Door” program back in April of this year – a program intended to transform vacant lots around town into affordable housing developments, and allow developers to be fast-tracked through the approval process. A vacant site was selected near Dupont and Bathurst St. (200 Madison Ave.), which has been tendered for development, but very little has happened since. Until now.

Just last week, Mayor John Tory made an announcement regarding the status of the program, stating that a number of new sites had been selected for the construction of affordable housing facilities.  The announcement was made at the CityPlace site (located in Toronto’s downtown core), which will also be one of five city sites that will host the creation of 389 affordable rental or ownership units. The city has also identified 13 additional surplus pieces of land for future development as part of the program. Tory made the announcement alongside Toronto’s Housing Advocate, Davenport Councillor Ana Bailao, and Trinity-Spadina Councillor Joe Cressy.

In the words of Mayor Tory:

“Today, after 20 years of inaction…we are kickstarting the development process for this piece of land by issuing an RFP which will be done in early 2016, just a couple of months from now, to select a developer and we’ll move ahead with it as we did on Madison…Once a developer is chosen, the approvals process will be accelerated and affordable housing will be built on this piece of land.”

Some incentives for private developers who are looking to take advantage of the Open Door program will include waiving permit fees, streamlining the application process and deferring development charges. With regards to this strategy, Tory was quoted as saying:

“Let’s see how we do at doing it this way, which is providing significant incentives to them, providing a streamlined approval process, putting up some of our own land…If it’s not proceeding at a fast enough pace, based on this invitation to people to participate, we’ll have to look for other measures.”

The city has chosen five sites for the development of 389 affordable housing units, to be offered to non-profit or private builders:

  • 200 Madison Ave.: 82 affordable rental units
  • Tippett Rd.: 100 affordable rental, 100 affordable ownership units
  • Block 36 North on the railway lands: 80 affordable rental units
  • 505 Richmond St. West: 15 affordable ownership units
  • 150 Harrison Ave.:12 affordable ownership units

Thirteen future sites have also been identified, representing a total of almost 1,600 units across the city:

Etobicoke

  • Bloor St. West and Islington Ave.: 60 affordable rental and ownership units

North York

  • 2 Bicknell Avenue: 32 affordable ownership units
  • 1035 Sheppard Ave. West: 50 affordable rental and ownership units
  • 50 Wilson Heights Blvd.: Number of units to be decided
  • Eglinton Ave. East/Don Mills Rd.: Number of units to be decided

Toronto/East York

  • 640 Lansdowne Ave.: Number of units to be decided
  • 383-425 Old Weston Rd.: 32 affordable ownership units
  • Sherbourne St.: Number of units to be decided
  • East Bayfront: 777 units

Scarborough

  • 5131 Sheppard Ave.East: 100 affordable rental and ownership units
  • 411 Victoria Park Avenue: 30 affordable ownership units
  • 253 Markham Rd. and 12 Dunelm St.: 100 affordable rental and ownership units
  • Kingston Rd. and Dale Ave.:10 affordable ownership units

Councillor Joe Cressy:

“Today there are 18,000 residents living in this neighbourhood, and as a city we need to continue to focus on building neighbourhoods, not just adding density.”

Toronto Home Sales in October

Homes Sales in Toronto for the Month of October

During a month where home sales in Toronto and the GTA typically slow down, homebuyers this October seemed to ignore that historical trend, frantically buying up homes at a time when prices escalated just as quickly. According to figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board recently, the city is still on pace to see record breaking home sales and price figures. You can read the full TREB report here : http://www.trebhome.com/market_news/market_watch/

As Susan Pigg of The Toronto Star so poignantly put it, “Neither the Blue Jays’ winning streak nor Stephen Harper’s losing streak managed to distract homebuyers across the GTA as sales set a record for the month of October…”

Here is a breakdown of what happened in Toronto last month:

  • The average price of a detached house in Toronto has rose by 12.5% compared to October of last year, reaching a high of $1.07 million.
  • Sales of detached homes were down 9.7% in the City of Toronto, year over year.
  • The average price of a condo in Toronto also rose 4.2% year-over-year to a price of $406,790.
  • Toronto, with its abundant supply of condos, saw the number of active listings drop 7.5% from last year.
  • The average townhome rose 11.2% in the last year to $579,350.
  • October home sales in Toronto rose by 3.4% to 8,804.
  • The MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark price — considered by TREB to be a more accurate reflection of price growth because it factors out sales at the extremes — went up 10.3%, year-over-year.

The only notable statistic to see a major downturn was the number of homes listed, with the total number of “for sale” signs down 7.5% in October compared to a year ago,

Both Susan Pigg and CBC News, agree that low mortgage rates are what’s luring buyers into the market, even as the price of homes becomes increasingly prohibitive, especially for first-time buyers.

Jason Mercer, director of market analysis for the Toronto Real Estate Board stated:

“Even if we do see a greater supply of low-rise listings in the marketplace over the next year, market conditions will remain tight enough to see continued price growth well-above the rate of inflation.”

That new land transfer tax, which now only exists in Toronto, has been blamed for pushing house prices further out of reach and impacting sales. A Toronto home buyer will pay a total of $10,200 in land transfer taxes on a $450,000 home: $5,475 in provincial land transfer tax and $4,725 in Toronto land transfer tax.

Toronto Real Estate Market Watch: Record Sales in October

 

“It is clear that many GTA households remain upbeat about home ownership because owning a home represents a high quality, long-term investment. We will see a big, new record this year for home sales reported through TREB’s MLS® System,” said Toronto Real Estate Board President, Mark McLean. This October there was a reported 8,804 homes sold – resulting in a new record for October.

Mr. McLean points our that the Government of Ontario could hamper home sales in the near future,”The Wynne government is seriously considering allowing municipalities throughout Ontario to institute a second land transfer tax on top of the existing provincial tax. Recent polling has shown that the great majority of Ontarians oppose this tax and would consider delaying a move if they were forced to bear the additional upfront cost.”

INFOGRAPHIC.October2015

With average pricing for detached homes reaching $1,071,394 in the 416, we see an increase of 12.5% from October 2014. Over the same period, the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 7.3 per cent to $630,876. Price growth continued to be driven by the low-rise market segments. 

“Record sales coupled with a constrained supply of listings in many GTA neighbourhoods has underpinned very strong price growth throughout 2015. Even if we do see a greater supply of low-rise listings in the marketplace over the next year, market conditions will remain tight enough to see continued price growth well-above the rate of inflation,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

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