Weren't the Olympics exciting to watch? The Canadian athletes were outstanding and Vancouver did a great job hosting and showcasing Canada to the world.
In my last letter, I mentioned how Ottawa's real estate market would start the year by "taking off like a rocket". Well, that's exactly what has happened and that rocket is still speeding full steam ahead! The Ottawa real estate market is very active and is expected to continue in the months ahead. In fact, there are more buyers than sellers which means it is a healthy seller's market.
So what is fueling this market? Is it buyers wanting to capitalize on low interest rates? Buyers wanting to purchase before the HST comes to Ontario in July? Or maybe it's buyers wanting to get into the market before the new Federal Government's borrowing policy kicks in? Maybe it's the next generation of buyers coming of age ready to won a home? Perhaps it is a combination of everything mentioned? Whatever it is, there has never been a better time to sell a home and maybe there has never been a better time to get into the market!
With every changing market comes a new set of challenges for sellers and buyers. For sellers, yes, they will get a lot of activity on their property which can lead to a quicker sale, but did they get the very best "market price" for their property with the best terms that an experienced, full-service Realtor can offer?
For buyers, it proving to be a frustrating time. Decisions need to be made quickly and many times paying the asking price may not be enough. In this type of market, more than ever, a buyer needs professional representation to protect themselves from situations like overzealous bidding or risks of future pitfalls when markets change and balance again.
I mention this because I believe there is value in professional real estate representation. I have also always believed in keeping my valued clients informed not only about the Ottawa real estate market, but on some of the more publicized topics involving real estate. Lately, the media has been all over the Competition Bureau's allegations that the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has an anti-competitive hold on the real estate market and that the Competition Bureau's case will blow the market wide open. The fact is, we have always had an open market where the consumer can choose which type of service, commission and level of risk they are willing to take; that;s their right. What they may not have had is the chose to have different types of services from one company. For instance, our company, Century 21 Capital Realty Inc. is a full-service real estate company that offers expertise in consulting, pricing, marketing, negotiating and facilitating real estate transactions that minimize risk for both buyer and seller. If a consumer does not want this full service, they can simply choose another company and with the World Wide Web today, finding another choice is easier than ever.
Over the years, CREA has been able to create one of the best marketing vehicles for promoting real estate nationwide that other competitors and other associations around the world are envious of - that's REALTOR.ca. This is the #1 visited website in Canada for real estate and one of the areas the Competition Bureau believes is being used anti-competitively.
Unfortunately, not all media coverage is accurate and does not completely reflect CREA's position. Perhaps there are areas that require adjustments by CREA to reflect changing times, but if there are, I don't know of them. I say this because since the Competition Bureau announced what they would like changed, CREA proactively made changes in the areas of concern, except one - membership. Board MLS systems are member to member and this membership pillar is the foundation of MLS systems across the country. CREA's rules requiring listing Realtors to be responsible for the accuracy of information on a board's MLS system must be preserved and CREA is committed to ensure this happens.
As Realtors, we have always been well advised by CREA, our Local Boards and our Provincal Regulators to practice in fair competition. Proactively ,we have been well educated not to collude, not to discuss our company's fees with other companies, not to discriminate against other firms because of pricing policies, not to mislead the public in believing that our fee for service is an industry standard and to not quote industry pricing as it does not exist.