Being Average? Not for you.

By Don Lawby

President, CENTURY 21 Canada

Let's face it, nobody wants to be average. It's the terrain of the

unremarkable-the realm of the safe middle ground. But while "average"

is by its very definition nothing to brag about, it does have its place in our

world. It shows us the big picture. It reminds us where we stand, right?

Well, to a point. In real estate, average prices in the form of market

statistics help us establish broad market trends. These figures convey the

lay of the land, and help homeowners compare, at-a-glance, the overall

market in a given province, region, or city. But these sweeping

generalizations lose relevance the moment you try relating them to the

largest single asset you will likely ever own: Your home.

Many of us would like to know how well our properties are holding their

value these days, while others, lured by low interest rates, are wondering

about getting into the market for the first time. In either case, the average

prices of a given city or region-the ones we see so widely reported,

because they understandably intrigue the widest range of people-likely

have little bearing on your own situation.

Enter a more useful metric: The "typical" selling price. A typical home is

the one you're most likely to come across in any given neighborhood. For

example, the average Toronto home sold in March for $394,099. But the

typical four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom, 2,700-square-foot two-storey home

The Bridle Path neighborhood sold in the first quarter of this year for

$965,000. That's a difference of $560K.

The point? When it comes to residential real estate, average and typical

prices are like apples and oranges. The former sketches out the very rough

outlines of a given market, the latter fills in the details that are most

relevant to you. If you're considering a move, the only prices that matter

aren't in the headlines-they're down the street and a few blocks over

from where you live today, or would like to live tomorrow. And there's

nothing unremarkable about that.

Don Lawby is President of CENTURY 21 Canada.

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