All posts for the month February, 2019

Maximum Loan Amortization Extension from Feds Has Major Potential Ramifications

Published February 26, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

Most people in the real estate industry will agree – even if grudgingly – that the new mortgage stress-test regulations rolled out by the Federal Government a year+ ago we’re entirely necessary to normalize the market and prevent hundreds of thousands of Canadians from becoming ‘house poor’, as the expression goes. This of course has had the effect of their being fewer qualified first-time home buyers, and the direct correlation between that and less business to be had for real estate agents is easy to understand.

It would seem now that the Federal Government is considering a reactionary move to improve the housing market, and we can safely assume that it’s in large part a response to the pinch felt by industries that are directly tied to the home construction and renovation industry, and to a lesser extent to stimulate the housing market as a whole.

These are trying times indeed, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see the the limited numbers of qualified buyers increasing anytime soon. As is always the case, when the going gets tough the tough get going and realtors now must work harder to secure new clients. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is an excellent means of putting the power of the Internet to work for that aim. It’s highly recommended, but let’s get back on the topic here and discuss why this move by the Feds may have some rather unintended consequences.

Longer Amortizations, Lower Payments, More Interest

That’s the long and short of what this possible move is going to entail. The Government’s Ministry of Finance may not be intending to increase household debt with this move, but that’s what it will almost certainly do in the long run. In the short term, however it promised to be beneficial. Economists and those most familiar with the housing market are saying that – most relevantly – it’s likely to drive prices even higher when the next housing cycle begins.

What we would see is lower payments relative to 25-year amortizations, in exchange for paying more interest, and a proliferation of 30-year mortgages for first-time homebuyers.

What’s in Amortization?

As mentioned, the Feds are considering extending the maximum amortization schedule on mortgages. Amortization is the length of time determined for a borrower to be paying off their loan before it. Currently, insured mortgages are limited to a 25-year term, meaning that buyers can plan on paying off the home in 25 years. That’s not short period of time, but the reason we’ve become fairly accustomed to that in Canada is – plain and simple – that it allows Canadians of lesser financial means to buy a home.

What we’ve recently become aware of is that Canada is considering allowing first-time buyers the ability to amortize for 30 years. The aim is to increase affordability, but is that what we can expect it to do.

Hard Numbers

Let’s look at a typical scenario here; at typical Toronto home costing $761,800 (average median price for a detached single-family home at this time). Let’s assume next the the borrower has 10% down and is then borrowing at a rate of 3.59% on a 5-year fixed rate throughout the whole mortgage, which underestimates the cost.

What we see is that the minimum monthly payments drop roughly 12.5%, and that’s what makes it appealing to the would-be buyer. This is a result of lengthening the amortization, and while it might seem appealing it increases the amount of interest these buyers will be paying if they take they full time to pay off the mortgage (which nearly all buyer do nowadays).

It’s not going to increase it a bit, it’s going to increase it quite a lot, and that of course means increased household debt. Many people would agree that with this you’d be making people less house poor, but more indebted long term, and that the two sort of cancel each other out to really offer little to no tangible savings or affordability benefits for prospective homebuyers.

So going back to that average Toronto homerunning those payments on the 25-year amortization models works out to a hefty $351,103 in interest payments over the term. Bump that up to a 30-year amortization and it climbs to $431,511.

Not as appealing as it might have seemed, is it?

More Expensive Housing in the Long-Term

We tend to agree that extending amortizations only makes housing more affordable temporarily, since credit inflates prices. Lowering the cost of borrowing is often thought of as a way to increase affordability. It may, but not in the long run and if you’re in a 25 or 3-year amortization mortgage the ‘long run’ is definitely part of your reality

Disposable Income to Service Debt Ratio

Over the past 5 years real home prices across Canada have increased 42.65%. The amount of disposable income to service this debt increased only 12.65%. Affordability today actually improved across Canada by 7.29% since 2007. Real home prices have gone up 86.54% over that same period.

Real estate agents are always inclined to wonder whether home prices will go higher, but perhaps now more so than ever. remember that’s long-term. Real estate works in a cycle, and right now prices need to correct for new buyers to enter. The most important consideration here is that borrowers with a 30-year amortization will pay less towards principal. In the long term that costs borrowers more, and it inflates home prices – which of course will be viewed very negatively in the not-too-distant future.


Sign up with Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads delivered to you exclusively and for your very own, protected region of any city or town in Canada. It’s a proven-effective way to get more out of your client prospecting efforts, and we’re nearly certainly you’ll quickly come to see it as a very worthwhile monthly expense when it comes to promoting your Real Estate business.


Redfin The Next Disruptor to Arrive in Canadian Real Estate Business

Published February 19, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

We’ve talked briefly in the past about how the trend of industry disruptors has extended to the Real Estate world as well, and as we are now firmly into 2019 we are seeing yet another example of it again. Indeed, the ways the real estate business has been for many decades have changed very drastically over the course of just the last one, and as you might expect these changes have been very primarily fuelled by advances in digital technology.

As a realtor, one of the things that you must do is accept the reality of the situation. That reality is that these advances make it more of a challenge for you to work as a realtor exclusively in traditional means and approaches and still have the type of success that you envision for yourself. You definitely need to adapt, and revise your strategies and skillsets offered because, as we’ll discuss here today, there are new disruptors arriving in Real Estate all the time and that’s not likely to change.

Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is one major advantage for realtors that relies on the same trend where advances in digital technology are coming fast and furious. It leverages the power of the internet to provide real buyer and seller leads based on prospective buyers and sellers filling out forms online. There’s more to it than that, but long story short what you can know is that our service is one digital technology advancement that you can – and should – see very favourably.

Redfin Arrives in Canada in March

Now Redfin, like PurpleBricks before it, is yet another entry into the real estate business that most realtors will have difficulty seeing favourably. That’s because it markets itself as a more affordable way for people to buy and sell homes, and there’s no getting around the fact that services like Redfin and PurpleBricks eliminate a lot of the need for what you’re able to provide as a realtor. Not ALL of it, but a good portion of it.

We’ll say briefly that these types of websites and their services certainly won’t eliminate the need for realtors, but it is changing the playing field for sure. Let’s have a look at this.

Redfin is based in Seattle and will open in Toronto and Vancouver by March. It has plans to expand to other major Canadian markets once well-established in Canada’s 2 largest urban metro centres.

Redfin is a technology-powered brokerage that will have its own agents working in their offices while delivering much of the same services that you do as a realtor. You do it in person, they do it remotely via the Internet. That’s the start of what you need to understand about Redfin.

Redfin was built on the understanding that nowadays so many consumers start their search online. Being a technology-first brokerage helps them meet customers at a lower cost, and obviously that’s a HUGE benefit for the prospective home buyer or seller. Having services provided online means a streamlining of many of the processes that would require some back-and-forth, and time delays, when these customers are working person-to-person with a real estate agent.

Since 2006, Redfin has established its presence in more than 85 markets in the USA, and now Redfin’s website and mobile apps will show all homes for sale through the local MLS in Toronto and Vancouver. It will also put sold prices in those markets on display, whereas previously clients requested that information from their realtor and then waited for him or her to get back to them with it.

Canadian Market Plans

Redfin’s aim is to eventually offer services in other major Canadian cities, but that will obviously take time. For those of you working in the GTA or GVA, however, this powerful competitor is arriving soon and is expected to take root quite quickly. You still have the ability to prospect clients in traditional ways, and many people will still prefer the in-person service and human interaction / trust part of working with a local real estate agent.

That said, all realtors are going to lose prospective clients to these types of services with Redfin and PurpleBricks. That’s the just the way it is. You may need to rethink and reorient your service and promotion platforms and how you present yourself to clients, and it may be something you need help with. If so, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board with a real estate business consultant expert.

Take note of the fact that salespeople working for Redfin will be employees of the company – not independent contractors – and will be paid bonuses based in part on customer satisfaction. The number of agents in individual Canadian offices would be a reflection of how busy those offices become.

Agents won’t be recruited in the way a conventional real estate brokerage does, rather customers will be recruited and then agents will be brought in based on the level of increased demand.

Redfin will charge home sellers a 1% listing fee, and the remote agents will provide complete home-selling services, including pricing and staging advice, free professional photography, a 3D walkthrough of the home, open houses, yard signs and nicely designed and put together marketing materials.

That’s right – a lot of what a realtor did him or herself in person for decades. Times change, and you need to change with them.

Big Potential Savings a Necessity for Many Now

Redfin has provided estimates on what they’re able to offer in the way of savings; for example, a seller in Toronto will save $11,250 on a $750,000 home sale when compared to paying a listing commission of 2.5%. The listing fee does not include a buyer’s agent commission, but that’s paid by the seller here with Redfin.

The appeal of services like Redfin are furthered by the reality that nowadays it’s harder to get a loan. Foreign investment has driven prices up, and there’s ever-greater numbers of people who need every last dollar possible put towards the house. In such a scenario, the cost savings made possible with services like these are obviously going to appeal to a lot of people.

Lastly the Redfin model rewards customer service, so agents are accountable to deliver the best outcome for their clients. Customers are asked to review the service they received from their Redfin agent, whether they buy or sell a home or not. The reviews will then be published on the agent’s online profile, and agent bonuses will then be based on these reviews – among other factors.

The New Realities

These ‘disruptors’ aren’t going to stop arriving any time soon, and they’re being seen in all sorts of different businesses and industries that have been the same way for decades up until now. It’s a trend that’s here to stay, and overall it’s a good one as it puts more clout back in the hands of the consumer and we ALL benefit from that – yourself included.

As a realtor, you’re going to have to adapt and, as mentioned, revisit all of your business promotion and marketing approaches to ensure you continue to have the same flow of business you’ve become accustomed to. If you’re starting out, you may be at an advantage as this ‘new reality’ will be the only reality you’ve ever known.

Experienced or new to the business, all realtors should sign up with Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online generated leads delivered to them exclusively for their similarly-exclusively served region of any city or town in Canada. Once you have it, it’s yours and yours alone and only you will receive the buyer and / or seller leads for it. Most realtors who’ve already jumped on the opportunity now see it as marketing budget well spent, and we’re sure you’ll find it to be the same.

Realtor Know-How: Calculating Land-to-Building Ratio

Published February 11, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

Every second week we try to shift our subject matter back to topics that are among the many that new realtors can – and should – familiarize themselves with when aiming to become a more knowledgeable and well-rounded real estate professional. It’s a worthwhile aim for sure, as it goes a long way in being seen as realtor who has more to share with all the different sorts of real estate clients who will have different buying / selling prerogatives.

All of this is of course done in the big picture perspective of building your real estate business. Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is an excellent way to get even more out of your client prospecting efforts. Putting the power of the Internet to use and connecting you with people who are genuinely interested and increasingly ready to buy or sell a home should sound good to any realtor, and that’s exactly what you get with Real Estate Leads.

Today’s realtor know-how topic is one that will be very handy and practical when working with commercial or investment real estate buyers; calculating land-to-building ratio. Let’s get started.

Land Parcel Percentages

We can start with understanding that every structure occupies a certain portion or percentage of the land parcel it’s sitting on. This percentage or ratio of the size of the building to the land is referred to as the ‘land-to-building ratio.’ A high ratio indicates that the property isn’t being used to its fullest potential. A low one is indicative of the property already being at full capacity.

The Equation

It’s quite easy to calculate the land-to-building ratio. Here’s the equation:

  • Divide the square footage of the land parcel by the square footage of the building

Here’s an example:

188,000 square feet of land divided by 43,500 building square feet. This works out to 4.32

This is a 4.32:1 land to building ratio, and that’s a high one. The average is between 2.5:1 to 3.5:1.

Relevance for Residential Properties?

There can be, but it’s typically not something that factors in as strongly for residential properties. The land to building ratio is rarely seen in residential appraisals. It is helpful to know that the ration can be limited by municipal codes and property restrictions, however. In some instances there is a desire to keep the size of homes to a certain percentage of the lot space available for building.

Land-to-Building Ratio in Commercial Applications

The use of the land to building ratio is obviously of much greater relevance with commercial and industrial applications. For example, building codes usually include very firm requirements for the amount of parking that certain size structures must maintain, and the same goes for setback and green area considerations.

A commercial space with an 11 to 1 land-to-building ratio might not be best utilizing the land, there would definitely be value in the additional space. Another property with a ratio of 2.5 to 1 could be at maximum capacity.

It’s easy to imagine that most considerations around municipal and other regulations occur with commercial, industrial, and institutional real estate. Environmental protection issues often come into play with industrial properties as well, and in particular ones related to hazardous materials.

Let’s look at specific commercial real estate types and the considerations that are added to the Land-to-building ratio for each:

  1. Retail Shopping Center or Mall

First and foremost here are population demographics considerations. A consistently sufficient flow of consumers to support the shops and businesses is a must. Traffic patterns are also important. Ratios of the tenant retail lease spaces and the overall theme of the center are important as well.

  1. Office Buildings

The type of offices they’ll house is something to consider. For example, A medical office or dental office complex would have very different space requirements.

  1. Warehousing and Specialty Operations

Warehouses require a lot of space, as well as large truck loading docks much of the time. They don’t need parking spaces the same way a retail development would. Specialty businesses like car and RV dealerships or any type of consumer service provider will have a whole array of different considerations that are unique to them, and different to land-to-building ratios

Excess Land Value

The decision where you will be more likely be expected to volunteer your expertise is whether paying for excess land and its zoning is a wise investment of capital. As the realtor, you may be asked if it that excess land can be divvied up and sold, either in the short-term or long-term. Is the overall land made up of two or more independent parcels? Do any existing or planned structures infringe upon one of them? Does the unused land have its own access? Can it be subdivided legally?

All of these are questions that your clients may ask of you. Be prepared to answer them.

Sign up for Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that are delivered to you – and only you – for your similarly exclusive region of any city or town in Canada. Once you sign up with us, that region is yours and all of the leads for it go to you and no one else. We can say truthfully that pretty much every single realtor who’s gotten on board so far is happy with the service and sees it as money well spent as part of the business promotion and marketing budget.

Try it for yourself, we can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the way it put you in touch with real prospective clients for your real estate business.

Client Investment Advice: RRSP, or Real Estate?

Published February 4, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

As we’ve said on a number of different occasions, more often than not a successful real estate agent is also a very knowledgeable one, and that’s there’s usually a direct correlation between the two. As it is with nearly every career, the people who don’t stop striving and continue to learn are the ones who get ahead more naturally. As a real estate agent, every single time you can draw on your knowledge and provide sage advice to clients will go a long way towards establishing yourself as a real estate market and real estate investment expert.

Here at Real Estate Leads, our online real estate lead generation system is an excellent way for new realtors to have the power of the Internet hard at work for them generating buyer and seller leads and giving them the opportunity to meet with legitimate prospective clients. The more you know and the more you’re able to share, the more likely it is they’ll come to regard you as someone they can trust with helping them buy or sell a home. We continue to pile up very positive reviews for the service, and it’s not surprising that the consensus seems to be that it’s money well spent!

Real estate is an investment, and that’s true even for people who foresee themselves living in their current home well into their twilight years. In major metropolitan areas like Vancouver and Toronto, some people are explicitly counting on their real estate purchases to be a big part of their retirement. There’s risk to that, as there is for any investment, but the ongoing demand for housing in these cities isn’t going to abate anytime soon given Canada’s ongoing population growth.

The ‘bubble’ isn’t likely to burst like some people continue to insist it will, and in honesty the way the market for detached homes has cooled is about as good as it’s going to get for anyone hoping to see more ‘realistic’ prices for detached homes in Canada’s 2 biggest cities.

But to today’s question, which is a better choice as an investment – Real Estate, or an RRSP? Let’s discuss this and get some perspective from financial and real estate experts

Both is Best

Leverage wealth experts and mortgage brokers tend to agree that Canadians should be investing in both RRSPs AND real estate. It’s true that people tend to think of either RRSPs or real estate investing for their retirement plan, but modern-day realities and an ever-rising cost of living means that the reality is consumers need both.

Diminishing rates of return are one thing, but a growing number of Canadians don’t have defined contribution plans, and if even if they do it’s not like they give guaranteed payouts. It’s fair to say that everyone needs higher amounts of forced savings.

The reality is that for the vast majority of Canadians, their wealth is tied up in their homes. With this reality it becomes that the only solution to RRSP, TFSA, RESP, or investment savings catch-ups is essentially in the home equity of their property.

Add to this the fact that average life expectancies are reaching 90 years old and it’s increasingly likely that your registered savings account will a lot longer than your mortgage. This is why we’re seeing the introduction of investment products designed to make certain rates of return exceed the initial cost of borrowing.

Reorienting Mortgages

In understanding this and understanding its relevance, we need to see retirement not as the point at which somebody stops working, but rather when they no longer need to work. Sufficient money in investment accounts means debts are easily repaid in full. Then the acquisition of a mortgage becomes a by design move, and not one made out of necessity.

It’s also helpful for people to know that real estate investing doesn’t have the same tax deferral on capital gains that RRSPs have. Home equity appreciation can be used as an RRSP catch-up, and for many people this is a very valuable resource to have at their disposal.

Of course, cash flow is still an important component in investing, and investors seeking blue-chip properties they can own directly is always going to be preferable – provided they choose the right property (for which, as you should expect, they will be looking to you for expert advice).

Choosing Wisely

Choosing the right property depends on the current state of the economy, as well as its projected state. You don’t just evaluate the property based on today, and instead you should be looking to where the underlying economic fundamentals will likely be in five or 10 years. The two biggest predictors of where a property will be are actual net migration of population inflow (which is powering housing demand in Vancouver and Toronto) and areas with strong GDP growth.

Further, properties will positive cash flow will help meet the Canada Revenue Agency’s deductibility elements. RRSP’s offer diversified access to a number of different market options, and when they’re combined with real estate investment then the investors are better guarded against instabilities or market volatilities.

Sign up for Real Estate Leads here and receive a monthly quota of qualified, online-generated buyer and / or seller leads that are delivered to you exclusively and for any region of a city or town in Canada. Once you claim that region, it’s yours and yours alone and you’ll be pleased to know that no other realtor is received those leads each month! They’re yours, and what you do with them is going to be a reflection of how you present yourself as a valuable resource for these prospective clients. Being ‘smart’ about real estate is a great place to begin.