We hear the term “Average Sale Price” A LOT. People post about it on Facebook and tweet it on Twitter. We read about it in major media headlines, the average sale price in Canada is…the average sale price in Ottawa is… Well let me tell you that the average sale price does not matter when it comes to determining the value of real estate. It’s easiest to understand this when looking at the National average sale price. We live in a big, diverse country with very different real estate markets and odds are that the market in PEI is nowhere near the same as the market in Vancouver.
Next, the average sale price in Ottawa is equally misleading because we have about the same diversity in Ottawa as the country does when it comes to micro markets (that’s just a fancy way to say individual neighbourhood markets)! For example, if you don’t live in Rockcliffe, the area that has the most $1 million dollar + homes, then you don’t want to be using that data. The same goes for the difference in a single family home that sells in Kanata versus a single family home that sells in the Glebe.
Now, let’s break it down even more! Take an area like West Centretown & Centretown (North of the Queensway in between the O-train and Elgin Street). If we were to look at the average sale price of a townhome, it would be including new infill developments that are open, modern, brand new and selling anywhere around $650,000 with older townhomes from the early 1900’s that are smaller and may require updating some of which have recently sold for around $345,000.
Finally, let’s look at the math, I decided to calculate the average sale price of condos in the Ottawa West districts for 2014. There were 28 sales and the average sale price worked out to $334,889. I noticed only one of those sales was almost double the average, so I removed that one single sale and the average dropped to $321,440. That one sale bumped the average sale price up by more than $13,000!
Luckily there is an alternative to average sale price. CREA has developed the MLS®HPI (Home Price Index). It covers 11 major housing markets and luckily Ottawa is one of them! The HPI tracks price levels at a point in time relative to price levels in a base (reference) period for different housing types. This model is used to calculate Benchmark Prices. A “Benchmark home” is one whose attributes are typical of homes traded in the area where it is located. Representatives from Statistics Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation & The Bank of Canada have reviewed and endorsed the MLS® HPI methodology.
If you’re interested in more information on sales & statistics in your neighbourhood, please feel free to call or e-mail me and I can send you relevant information.
A Minimalist with a Husband, Cat and 2 Dogs!
Let me start off by saying that I’m not a master minimalist, just yet. I would put myself at intermediate though, which sets me apart from a lot of houses that I tour. I like the idea of someone saying, “hey, why don’t we leave everything behind and move across the world tomorrow” and I could say “yes!”
So…if you’re anything like me, read on for some of my tips and tricks on keeping a light house.
#1. Only have the amount of belongings that fit the size of your house/space. Sounds obvious and this is what the rest of my list helps with.
#2. The Kitchen. We moved to a smaller house with a smaller kitchen, so two sets of anything went down to one & no more kitchen gadgets! Electric can opener, mixer, egg beater, peelers, waffle makers, counter top grills, popcorn maker and I could list more, all of them GONE! I can make pretty much anything with my food processor & man power, or woman power in my case :)
#3. Books, books and more books! I would suggest an e-reader as an easy fix, but I just love the feel of a hardcopy so I invented the three R’s. Would you re-read it? Would you reference it? Would you recommend it to a friend? If the book doesn’t fall into any of these three categories (you have to be honest!) then off it goes to the thrift shop.
#4. Can I use this for anything, or do I just like looking at it? I am guilty of keeping a few purposeless items around the house, but if you have a lot, consider taking a picture of it as a memory instead of keeping the actual items.
#5. One in, one out. I always think in terms of this. If I buy a new pair of jeans, then an old pair has got to go. Either I re-purpose them, toss them, or donate them. Same goes for shoes and trust me, when you know you have to get rid of a pair of shoes in order to buy a new pair, it makes you think twice. How many clothes and shoes do I have? Only what will fit into 1 wall to wall closet (not a walk-in) and half a dresser.
#6. 1 Year Rule – have I used this? It’s amazing how a year will go by and we won’t use up to 50% of our belongings! If you don’t use it, just lose it.
#7. Pack a goodbye box. Sometimes I think, I haven’t used this but I know I will next year. Pack it into a box, put the date on it, a deadline date and tape it closed. If the box is still sealed on the deadline date, don’t tempt yourself by opening it, go straight to the thrift shop.
#8. Make a Contest. Some people might describe me as slightly competitive, so when I noticed ‘stuff’ starting to build up, I thought I would see how much money I could raise by selling some items on Kijiji or Craigslist. The reward would be for to match the amount raised and then put it towards a trip. In less than 6 months, our house was lighter and our pockets were $800 heavier, so $1600 towards fun in the sun.
These are just a few of my tips and I hope they helped for those of you who want to do more and have less!
You might already know from my past blog that I have a house full of rescues - two dogs and a cat to be exact, also lovingly referred to as the Kiraly circus. My pug Leeroy is like a cat, and my cat Jackson is…well let's just say he has the politically incorrect nickname of 'Taliban Jack'. Lucy the Rotty/Lab is the most normal, she only has a bit of separation anxiety, leash aggression and shadowing issues (normal is subjective right?)
Ok, for part one let’s start with the cat.
1. Velcro’d the living room lamps down to our end tables. Yes – I am serious, and it worked!
2. Removed all nic-nacs & anything I imagined myself crying over if it broke.
3. Removed all carpeting in the house when it came time to renovate. No area rugs either.
4. Made sure everything left out was heavy, like plant pots and our bedroom lamps which then don’t require Velcro!
5. Installed doors on our existing IKEA bookcase because he pulled the books out for fun. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89017832/
6. He also likes to open sliding closet doors to trash the closet when we're gone, so we found these http://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/kidco-reg-sliding-closet-door-lock-pack-of-2/1018220253?categoryId=22955
7. We replaced torn screens with squirrel proof screens and they appear to be Jack proof too!
8. He opens kitchen cabinets and pulls things out, or just sits in them, so I tightened the hinges.
9. Non-toxic plants only and the ones that I love must be in hard to reach places, otherwise he eats them and throws them up for fun or revenge, I’m not sure.
10. Tie up all window blind strings.
11. Jack likes to pull the cover and material out of box springs from under the bed, so we upgraded to a bed with under the bed storage drawers.
12. We put double sided tape on the lower portion of wall hangings because he tries to knock/pull them off the wall if we watch tv for longer than he deems necessary.
13. We have a cat tower/condo and toys as an alternative to scratching the couch, this is key!
14. All of our baskets are now synthetic or metal, he thinks wicker was made for claw sharpening.
15. Cat flap installed on the storage room door leading to the kitty litter to avoid him getting locked in or out. I did it myself, it wasn't hard.
16. All papers are promptly put away, especially toilet paper and paper towel.
17. Toilet paper must be placed on the dispenser hanging down towards the back not over the front for when he does the “toilet paper treadmill”.
18. King size fitted sheets make for an excellent couch “slip cover” and I learned a little trick to keep it in place by rolling up a magazine and wrapping a few rubber bands around it, and then shoving it down the back of the seat cushion.
Last but not least, get used to saying “You’re the reason we don’t have nice things” but at the end of the day, I would never trade this little prankster for nice things!