St. John’s Remax Upper End Report

September 26, 2008 · Filed Under Market Trends, Newfoundland Oil and Gas, Remax Reports and St. John's Real Estate · Comments Off 
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Strong economic performance is fueling sales of luxury homes priced in excess of $400,000 in St. John’s this year. Year-to-date MLS reported sales over $400,000 have climbed 78 per cent, reaching 50 units in the first seven months of 2008, compared to 28 at the same time in 2007. The increase in sales activity of luxury homes extends much further than the MLS statistics reveal considering the present record volume of new executive home construction.

Under the leadership of Premier Danny Williams, Newfoundland has flourished.  Strength in the energy sector has bolstered the local economy and residential housing sales.  Unemployment is at a record low and wages continue to rise. The average price of a home has increased significantly, prompting unprecedented move-up activity.  Sales are up across the board with price points climbing in more and more communities. Once a rarity in Newfoundland, homes sales are now beginning to occur over $1 million.

Although a considerable amount of new home construction exists in St. John’s, demand for new homes continues to outpace supply.  A shortage of skilled trades is the trouble point within the marketplace, as many skilled trades people have migrated to Alberta for work in recent years. This factor burdens the ability to satisfy the demand for new homes. The construction period for production of an average single family dwelling that would typically require a five to six-month schedule is now taking double the amount of time to complete.

Inventory levels are up in the $400,000 plus price range, but quality listings are few and far between with a shortage in key luxury neighbourhoods.  Sought-after locations in St. John’s and surrounding areas include Churchill Square, King William Estates, Waterford Valley, Country Gardens, Hogan’s Pond, and specific regions within the communities of Topsail and Manuels, where properties are priced from $500,000 to $2 million.

Luxury homes priced at fair market value tend to sell within 30 days, while excessive overpriced listings stagnate. Well-priced properties in coveted neighbourhoods are experiencing multiple offers.

The majority of buyers are young professionals in their late 30s and 40s. Many are employed by the oil and gas industry, or hold high-paying jobs in business, engineering, and medicine. Transfers from out-of-province and international buyers represent a significant presence at the top-end of the market, with many investing in established neighbourhoods, the urban core, and ocean view or pond frontage properties.

Price appreciation has experienced a huge jump in recent years with values up as much as 35 per cent over the last two years in the luxury market.  The majority of upper-end sales occur at the $500,000 to $900,000 price points.  Currently, the highest priced residential listing is $1,475,000.

The offshore development of Hebron, Newfoundland’s fourth oil field, located just 350 kilometers from St. John’s, is forecast to further impact the local economy.  In the foreseeable future, the province is expected to receive significant royalties from offshore oil activity.  The revenues will help diminish the highest per-capita debt in the country and secure Newfoundland’s economic outlook and that of the residential real estate market.
Leading the country in terms of percentage increase in luxury home sales are Regina (up 306 per cent); Winnipeg (up 89 per cent); St. John’s (up 78 per cent); Saskatoon (up 72 per cent); Kitchener-Waterloo (up 47 per cent); Ottawa (up 36 per cent); Halifax-Dartmouth (up 20 per cent); London (up 14 per cent); Greater Vancouver (up five per cent); and Victoria (up four per cent). Solid performance is likely a result of consumer confidence, particularly in provinces like Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and parts of Ontario where solid economic fundamentals helped to bolster the number of homes sold in the upper-end.

Canadian Real Estate – Hot or Not

September 25, 2008 · Filed Under Market Trends, St. John's Investments and St. John's Real Estate · Comments Off 
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If you’ve read the national papers or follow the national TV news programs in the past few days you’ll hear lots of doom and gloom for the Canadian Real Estate sector.  While indirectly comparing to the US, but not quite as bad, economists are predicting a pull back (as seen in some cities already) and we have not yet seen a bottom.

In contrary…..the Newfoundland real estate market is expected to flourish.  Will our future follow the same faith?  Toronto Real estate and Vancouver condo prices boomed long before St. John’s Real Estate prices.  Are we just lagged behind by 3 – 5 years?

Here are 3 articles on the differences of opinions regarding Real Estate in Canada.

Real Estate Reporter Lori Mcleod with Globe and Mail dicsusses “Housing market at risk, economist warns

Globe and Mail writes about: Canada could face housing woes, Merrill warns

VOCM.com says

A new survey shows high-end housing in the St.John’s region is the most
expensive in Atlantic Canada, and even tops the average sale price in
Montreal. This survey looked at the average price for a typical executive
home. The Coldwell Banker survey of September 3rd pegs the average sale
price in metro at $308,000. That’s about $35,000 more than a house in Halifax
or Moncton, and $55,000 more than a house in Montreal.  The least expensive
market in Atlantic Canada is Charlottetown, where the average price is
$157,000. Prices in St.John’s have gone up by 32 per cent over the past
year. Only one market in the country among those surveyed saw a larger
increase: Saskatoon at 50 per cent. A booming economy on the northeast
Avalon is primarily responsible.

Basement subfloor – Platon, Truwall or DRIcore

September 23, 2008 · Filed Under Home Maintenance · 11 Comments 
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It’s the time of year to think insulation and how to keep the heat inside during the upcoming winter season. With that in mind I have FINALLY gotten around to installing a basement subfloor.  So off I go to The Home Depot for some pricing. (Jump to the bottom for updated results for what I used and how it preformed)

The rec room portion of my basement I want to sub floor is approx 24′ x 24′ or 576 sqft. I was familiar with the “normal” process of strapping my floor with 1″ x 3″ on the Truwall and nailing/screwing 5/8″ plywood on top, but a friend of mine mentioned to me he just installed Platon. So along with the two previously mentioned methods, I decided to toss DRIcore panels in the mix and compare price, functionality and installation ease for each product.

DRIcore

dricoreDRIcore are 2″ x 2″ engineered tongue and grove panels, 7/8″ in height (~$7 per panel). The bottom portion of the panels is made of a high density polyethylene moisture barrier bonded to the underside of the Random Wafer Board (RWB). The moisture barrier is molded with “dual wall cleats” that act as a raised moisture barrier.

 

This “appears” to be the easiest method. Lay them down, and click into the adjacent ones.
Even though they say 2″ x 2″ they are smaller then that. (closer to 23 1/4″ x 23 1/4″) On the display pamphlet is said total square footage divided by 3.3. So 576/3.3 = 175 panels. This is approx $1400 with taxes.

Platon

From the website Platon is “a tough, durable, double dimpled, high-density polyethylene air gap membrane”. Found in rolls 6′ wide by 66′ long. (~$115 per roll) The Platon looks VERY similar to the bottom side of the DRIcore panels. Doesn’t appear to be as sturdy.
platonThe concept behind Platon, is roll it out, over lap the edges and seal with Tuct Tape or Chaulking. This creates the raised air gap / moisture barrier. On top of the Platon you have to install 4′ x 8′ plywood sheets. I chose 5/8″ thickness. (~$30 per sheet) For my area I would need about 18 sheets + 2 extra. So 20 sheets * $30 = $600. Plus the 2 rolls of Platon.
Note: in this method you would need concrete nails or my personal favorite, my 22 caliber single shot Hammer Tool. Cost for 100 inch and a half nails = $15 and about $10 for the 100 shots. Grand total for this method is approx $1000.

Truwall, strapping, and plywood method

plywood subfloor

This method is by far the most time consuming. You have to first layout your Truwall (complete with strapping grooves). You then have to lay the 1″ x 3 ” strapping in the grooves and while using your trusty 22 cal hammer tool, fix to the concrete. On top of this you then lay your plywood. Again, using 5/8″ thickness. At this point I would screw the plywood to the strapping holding it firmly in place.
4′ x 8′ (1 1/2″ thickness) Truwall = $16 (Need 20)
4′ x 8′ x 5/8″ Plywood = $30 (Need 20)
1″ x 3″ x 8′ strapping = $1.50 a piece (Need 60)
100 1 1/2″ nails = $15
100 22 cal shot = $10
1 1/2″ screws = $30
Grand total = $1200

Conclusion

I opted for the DRIcore Panels.  For the extra cash I hope they are as easy to install as they say they are. (100sqft per hour)  I opted for the panels for the overall funcationality.  I also liked the ease to access my floor drain and my main sewer clean out pipe incase of an emergency.

UPDATE: As an update I did buy and install the DRIcore panels.  Man…..the easiest thing to use.  You can install them wearing a shirt and tie and not even break a sweat.  HIGHLY recommend them.  The slight difference in price was well worth it in “man hours”.  I installed 12mm laminate flooring over it and it’s was a perfect combination.  And on the feet….perfect.  Nice and firm and toasty on the feet. ( Of course laminate in a basement will appear “cool” to the feet anyways)

Would I use it again?  Absolutely.  Even convinced 2 other friends finishing their basements to use it, and from the results I’m sure they will be referring it to others.

Tax Credit for First Time Buyers

September 18, 2008 · Filed Under First Time Buyers and St. John's Real Estate · Comments Off 
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I’m not one for talking politics.  Nor am I one for pushing a certain poltical party on anyone, but this caught my interest….more so for me to write about.

In Stephen Harpers campaign, he is offering a tax credit to first time home buyers if re-elected.  Up to a $5000 tax credit to help with closing costs.  Note this is a tax credit and NOT $5000 cash in hand. According to the article on CBC, it would result in a maximum return rebate of $750 per family.

The average selling price of a home in this country will rise by 3.3 per cent this year to $317,450, and by a further three in 2009 to $327,000, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predicted last month.

The average closing costs on a house ranges from 1% to 2% the cost of the house.

Basement renovations Tips

September 12, 2008 · Filed Under Energuide Info, Home Maintenance and St. John's General · Comments Off 
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Although it’s the middle of September and the temperature is quite comfortable, winter will soon be here.  Fall is normally the time of year to start inside home renovations, particularly basement renovations. By making a few changes, you can create a cozy space to spend time with guests during the holidays. By adding insulation to your exterior walls, installing a sub floor, you’ll notice some big changes in both your heat bills and the condition of your property.  I personally insulated my basement last year before the winter arrived and notice a huge change.

These tips are curiosity of the Home Depot.

• Turn up the heat

Basements are the coldest areas in the home, yet with the potential of becoming the most inviting.  A fireplace will instantly add warmth to this cool area, providing direct heat into the room. There are several different styles available ranging in price range and total square footage it covers.

• If these walls could talk

New paint on walls is like an instant facelift for your basement. Painting is an effective and quick way to change the look and feel of the room – making it a more inviting place to spend time. There are also several different styles of wallpaper available at The Home Depot that will help give your basement a fresh and updated look.

• Walk this way

Keep your toes warm and toasty by installing subflooring on top of the cold basement floor. Once installed, cover it with carpet, wood, laminate or tile – whatever suits your style.

• Let there be light

Many basements have little or no available natural light, which can make the room gloomy.  Consider installing pot lights or track lighting across the ceiling.  These types of light fixtures will instantly brighten the room by giving it a warm glow.

Credit: www.newscanada.com

Newfoundland Ocean View cottages for sale

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Experience the ways of country living in a traditional Newfoundland outport with beautiful sheltered coves along the shores of one of the regions most majestic bays.

Aspen By the Sea houses eight well maintained cottages located in Brooklyn, near Lethbridge in Bonavista Bay overlooking the ocean. Centrally located to provide quick 25-minute access to Terra Nova National Park and Terra Nova Resort and Golf Course, White Hills Ski Resort, Historical Trinity (Home of the Random Passage Film Set), and Clarenville.

Close proximity to 18 Scheduled Salmon rivers, Whale Watching, Boat Tours, Snowmobiling, and Ice Fishing.

Location is breathtaking, the business is good. Eight cottages and another office/laundry with attached living accomodations for owners on site or could be additional cottage. Potential for additional cottages on site as well.  This property shows pride of ownership and maintains a good percentage of repeat clientele and winter income. Don’t miss this great business opportuniy. Asking price is $299,900 Contact Fraser or Stephen Winters for more information.

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