Thursday, October 27, 2011

Real estate appraisers decry Zoocasa calculator

Again everyone is running to save their souls. I would not use this service as "Gospel" but it sure sounds like a good idea as part of a personal research before buying a home.
Try It - You May like it!

Neil "Mortgage Man" McJannet

steve ladurantaye — REAL ESTATE REPORTER

Globe and Mail Update

Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011 4:30PM EDT

Last updated Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011 6:11PM EDT

The country’s professional real estate appraisers are sounding the alarm over a service that allows Internet users to receive instant estimates of a house’s worth using past appraisal data. recently unveiled its Zoopraisal service, which allows anyone with a web connection to punch in an address and receive a valuation estimate. The estimate is generated using data provided by Centract Settlement Services, a property valuation company that has appraised millions of homes across the country on behalf of financial services companies.

But the Appraisal Institute of Canada says anyone who let Centract into their home wasn’t doing it so the data could be used by snoopy Internet surfers curious about property values along their street.

“Our organization has significant concerns relative to the confidentiality and custody of the data being used to populate the site,” said Keith Lancastle, the organization’s chief executive officer.

Zoocasa president Butch Langlois said the service isn’t intended to replace the services of professional appraisers or real estate agents, and the estimates are based on similar properties in a neighbourhood and not on any specific report on a specific property.

“We are not actually pulling any data on specific houses,” he said. “It’s based on sales and appraisals in the area around the home.”

Traditionally, the best way to get an estimate of a house’s value was to call a real estate agent. But as data become more available, web services such as Zoocasa are stepping in to make the process less cumbersome for consumers.

Appraisals are typically carried out when someone is looking to borrow money against a property. The Appraisal Institute of Canada has about 5,000 members who are certified to do the work. Mr. Lancastle said he was “concerned” that services such as Zoocasa’s could undermine his organization’s reputation.

“Much as a retail store blood pressure test is not a substitute for regular medical care, a web-based calculator is no substitute for a real property appraisal,” he said. “A proper appraisal comprises a number of stages – including research, analysis and interpretation – needed to provide an accurate estimate of the market value of a property.”

While some real estate agents have also expressed concern about the service, others such as George O’Neill of O’Neil Real Estate Ltd. in Toronto have welcomed it as a one more tool for consumers to use before they approach a professional for help.

“I would prefer that someone do all this research before contacting me so I can provide more value-added services rather than just provide numbers,” he said. “That may put me in the minority amongst my peers. But I’d rather spend my time getting someone the best price, because that can never be automated.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

With little doubt about interest rate, analysts look to Carney's call on economy

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The Bank of Canada is expected to continue setting the conditions for economic recovery today by passing again on interest rate hikes.

Most economists and markets agree that governor Mark Carney will leave the rate at one per cent until the end of the year and likely well into 2012 or longer.

And, any thought Carney might have had of cutting the rate likely went out the window last week when Statistics Canada reported inflation rose to 3.2 per cent in September, above the bank's one-to-three per cent acceptable range.

TD Bank chief economist Craig Alexander says with uncertainty over Europe's debt issues high, and the U.S. economy still stumbling, the Canadian central bank is in wait and see mode for some time.

He says of greater interest today is what Carney will say about future prospects for the Canadian economy.

A few weeks ago, the bank was expected to dramatically downgrade its official growth projections of 2.8 and 2.6 per cent for this year and next. But with economic data coming in better-than-expected in recent weeks, including last month's surprising 61,000 jobs gain, the bank may not be as glum about prospects going forward.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BC Homes sale and prices rise

Low mortgage rates and improving employment numbers continued to bolster the already hot B.C. real estate market last month, putting home sales and prices back on an upward trend after experiencing some slight softening, on a month-to-month basis, during the summer.

B.C. home sales processed through the Multiple Listings System rose 8.8% to 5,995 transactions in September compared to the same month last year, while the average residential price rose 6% to $523,568 on a year-over-year basis.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, however, sales were up just 3%, said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist.

"Despite a modest gain in unit sales, total active residential listings in the province remained elevated in September,” Muir said. More than 55,600 home were listed in the province at the end of September.

On a year-to-date basis, the total value of residential sales in the province increased 17.5% to $34.8 billion, compared to the same period last year, while the volume of residential sales increased 3.2% to 61,127 units. The average residential price continued to outpace the national average, rising 13.9% $569,922 over the same period.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Online Home Appraisal Tool .

“... The launch of Zoopraisals™ addresses one of our most requested features,” said Butch Langlois, President of Zoocasa. “Knowing the current price of your home is the kick-off point for many Canadians as they consider making their next move.”

This free service is provided through a licencing agreement with Centract Settlement Services. “Centract possesses one of the largest national databases of residential real estate prices and information in Canada,” said Rob Soja, Vice President of Business Development at Centract. "We’re really excited to be working with Zoocasa to provide home price estimates to Canadian consumers nationally.”

Consumers who use the tool can expect “An indication of a home’s price ...based on like properties in their neighbourhood. It also provides additional content from the Zoocasa database and its content partnerships including detailed neighborhood demographics.”

In the latest move, demonstrating the tremendous presence of the Internet in all things housing and real estate, real estate search site Zoocasa has released a tool for consumers to get online home price estimates- called the Zoopraisal service.

What this does underscore is the importance of one-stop shopping for busy consumers. Statistics suggest that upwards of 80% of real estate searches at least begin- or have some part taking place on the internet.

Demand for immediate access for full, comprehensive information- especially as it pertains to housing is increasing as well.

“Zoopraisal™ is just the newest in a long line of new tools and services to support consumers in their home search process,” said Mr. Langlois. “Consumers are spending an average of 11 months in their home search process, predominantly online, and Zoocasa wants to support these consumers and allow them to conveniently connect with real estate professionals across the entire process including realtors, mortgage lenders or other such experts.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flaherty rules out mortgage tightening

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty dismissed speculation about a Canadian housing bubble, telling reporters in New York on Wednesday that he sees no need to tighten the country’s mortgage rules further.

"We have seen in the past year some softening in the Canadian housing market, in part due to the tightening of the insured mortgage market rules that we did earlier this year … That's an appropriate result from that tightening," Flaherty said during a news conference. "It will take clear evidence of a bubble in the housing market in Canada, which we have not seen."

Flaherty made those comments despite Royal LePage’s finding in its quarterly housing survey released on Wednesday that the average detached home price in Vancouver in the third quarter rose 17% on a year-over-year basis to more than $1 million. That’s three times the national average.

The soaring prices in Vancouver have largely been influenced by a flood of foreign money being invested into wealthy neighbourhoods like Richmond, Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage, said.

Asian investors, who are surrounded by some of the most inflated real estate markets in the world – especially in Hong Kong and Australia – typically see Vancouver’s prices as a bargain.

Soper said he believes the Vancouver market will likely soften next year because of slowing domestic demand, but the steady flow of foreign money into the city will likely reduce the amount of overall moderation.

“Vancouver is being influenced at the margin by foreign investment. I believe that that is a sustainable scenario,” he told CRE Online.

Foreign investors tend to purchase homes in Vancouver with cash. That means they are in no way influenced by the Bank of Canada’s interest rate policy. “So that investment will cushion the downside to the Vancouver market because most of those foreign buyers are purchasing with cash,” he said.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Canada Housing Starts Jump 7.3% In September From August

TORONTO (Dow Jones)--Canadian housing starts rose 7.3% to an annual rate of 205,900 in September, mainly due to an increase in multiple starts, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Tuesday.

Results were well ahead of the 189,000 rate analysts surveyed by Dow Jones had projected for the month.

The September rate was up from a revised 191,900 units in July.

CMHC said the pickup in September housing starts reflects an increase in multiple starts in the Atlantic region, Quebec and in British Columbia, but noted that multiples "are expected to move back towards levels consistent with demographic fundamentals in the near term."

CIBC World Markets agreed, saying in a note that multiple starts are "widely expected to scale down in the months ahead."

However, CIBC said the data suggest residential construction could be a positive for GDP in the third quarter "as homebuilding continues to garner support from a low rate environment, and a robust multiples market."

In September, urban starts rose 8% to 185,900. Multiple urban starts were up 14.2%, while urban single starts were down 1.5%.

Last month's seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts jumped 47% in the Atlantic region, 32% in Quebec and 18.6% in BRitish Columbia, while urban starts fell by 3.5% in Ontario and 12.1% in the Prairie region.

Rural starts were estimated at 20,000 units in September.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Canada adds 61,000 jobs in Sept, jobless rate down

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A whopping 60,900 new jobs helped slice Canada's unemployment rate to 7.1 percent in September from 7.3 percent in August, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

This far exceeded the median forecast of 10,000 new jobs in a Reuters survey of economists after August's decline of 5,500. The most optimistic forecasters had predicted 30,000 new positions in September .

Adding to the positive news, September saw 63,800 full-time additions, while part-time employment declined by 2,900.

However, 38,400 of the new jobs were in educational services, presumably largely the result of the return to work of teachers and assistants who were laid off for the summer. Statscan tries to adjust for seasonality but said there had not been a consistent pattern in this sector in recent years.

The unemployment rate is the lowest since December 2008. The data should temper market expectations of a rate cut by the Bank of Canada as it signals an economy that is still humming despite dire news out of Europe. Another indicator the bank watches closely for inflationary pressure, showed the average hourly wage of permanent employees had risen by 1.6 percent from a year earlier.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Canada best for business: Forbes

By Theresa Tedesco, Financial Post

Canada ranks as the top country among 134 major developed nations for business, according to the annual Best Countries for Business survey by influential business magazine Forbes.

The move from fourth in 2010 to top billing is based on a ranking of 11 different factors – including property rights, taxes, freedom of trade, money, corruption, innovation, investor protection and market performance. According to the survey, Canada is the only country to score in the top 20 consistently in 10 of those metrics.

“As an affluent, high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production and affluent living standards,” the report says.

Canada is lauded for avoiding the financial meltdown that has seen banks teetering perilously in the U.S. and Europe since 2008, for tax reform, mostly with the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario and British Columbia, and for its ability to maintain a lower unemployment rate than its trading partners. In fact, in terms of overall tax burden, Canada ranked ninth in 2011, up from 23rd in 2010.

“During the run-up to every U.S. presidential election, countless Americans threaten to move to Canada if their preferred candidate does not emerge victorious,” declared Forbes. “Of course, few follow through with a move north. Maybe it is time to reconsider.”

While the U.S. is “paralyzed by fears of a double-dip recession and Europe struggles with sovereign debt issues,” Canada’s economy held its own, the report gushes. “Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with the US, which absorbs about three-fourths of Canadian exports each year.”

The unemployment rate of 7.3% in Canada compares favourably with the U.S. rate of over 9% and the eurozone unemployment rate of 10%.

Even economic expansion, projected at 2.4% but down from last year’s 3.1%, is heralded.

While many Canadians have a love-hate relationship with their banks, the folks at Forbes are unequivocal in their adoration. “Canada’s major banks, however, emerged from the financial crisis of 2008-09 among the strongest in the world, owing to the financial sector’s tradition of conservative lending practices and strong capitalization.”

The other countries rounding out the top 10 are New Zealand, Hong Kong, Ireland, Denmark, Singapore, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the U.S, at 10th spot, down from ninth in 2010. The culprit in 2011: the U.S. surpassed Japan as having the highest corporate tax rate among major developed countries.

Three African countries – Burundi, Zimbabwe and Chad – bring up the rear among the 134 nations ranked, all faring poorly mostly because of corruption and red tape.

© Copyright (c) National Post

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Building Self Confidence!

Many people are feeling overwhelmed by the need to achieve, the complexity of competition, and a fear of failure or rejection. As a result their self-confidence is like the mystical unicorn — elusive and seldom, if ever, seen. You will probably never catch a unicorn, but here are the five steps that will help you capture your self-confidence.

1. Focus on what’s right, not what’s wrong.
When people talk about work, school, life, and other people they are usually talking about what’s wrong or everything that could go wrong. That type of thinking can nullify your strengths and kill your self-confidence.

Unconsciously your mind negatively perceives disappointment as a threat. You automatically begin to focus on the perceived threat or what’s wrong or could go wrong. This is not an alligator, you can fight it.

Completing and constantly saying the following phrases to yourself will build confidence:

• I have a good chance of succeeding because…
• Everything will work out because…
• I’m great for this position, listing, or opportunity because…
• Today is going to be an extraordinary day because…
These declarations won’t magically make things perfect but they will help to bring back your self-confidence.
Once you begin to regularly use these and similar phrases you will create vivid images in your mind that will help you to...

2. Visualize Your Victory.
Your unconscious mind makes no distinction between imagination and reality. Think about that. If you imagine having confidence then you will actually experience being confident. Find a quiet place and for a few moments imagine what you will see, hear, feel, taste, and smell during your victory. Envision yourself successfully achieving your desired outcome.

3. Thoroughly prepare and be authentic.
You know if you’ve properly prepared for the task at hand. It’s difficult to be confident when you’re not prepared and pretending to be something that you’re not. Thoroughly prepare and keep it real. Be authentic. As you prepare, focus on what’s right, visualize your victory, and...

4. Avoid Disaster Dan and the Taverns of Turmoili.
Have you ever known or heard of someone that never has anything good to say? Do you know what you should tell people like that? Absolutely nothing. Don’t tell them about your dreams, aspirations, or goals. Don’t even tell them your name, email address, or where you live. And if they know where you live it’s time to move! These kinds of people dwell in Taverns of Turmoil — negative environments — which should be avoided at all costs. Instead use your time to....

5. Set bite-sized goals and celebrate success.
When a task, goal, or obstacle appears to be insurmountable your self-confidence can begin to wane. The good news, however, is that small, successful experiences can produce more confidence. As your confidence grows, celebrate by giving yourself a treat or doing something you enjoy. Then set another small goal and celebrate again. This technique is a tremendous confidence booster.

Self-confidence is a priceless asset that will frequently tip the odds in your favor. The five steps you just walked though will keep your self-confidence from being like the unicorn – elusive and seldom, if ever, seen.