Used properly, the real estate information on the web can give you a huge advantage. Don't wait until the time comes to relocate. Keeping tabs on real estate markets should be a daily habit for any Canadian homeowner who wants to get ahead financially.
Track Housing Prices
Today, you can look at housing prices anywhere in Canada at the click of a mouse. At good resource to use is www.mls.ca , which shows MLS listings from any seller in Canada. Another excellent resource is www.royallepage.ca. This quarterly report tracks housing prices for various types of houses, in all regions of Canada. By checking every quarter, and reading the accompanying report, you can get a sense of where the markets are headed.
There are also a number of magazines, sponsored by the real estate industry. They contain interesting articles and forecasts. But beware - these tend to be on the optimistic side. Best to track the numbers and come to your own conclusions.
Trends To Watch
Although the market moves upward in the long term, there are lots of dips and rises along the way. Traditionally, housing rise and fell in five year cycles. Today, these cycles are longer - as long as 12 years or more. There is also an annual cycle - prices tend to be highest in the springtime.
Your strategy for buying or selling should take these cycles into account. For example, when you buy in a peak market, you need to be prepared to hold your property for some time before you see a reasonable appreciation.
Active individuals keep a constant eye not only on real estate pricing, but also on factors that affect the real estate cycle. By watching these factors, you can predict where housing prices are heading in areas that interest you. Here are some of the key influencing factors:
Interest rates. For real estate insiders, this is the most closely watched single indicator. When the Bank of Canada raises the interest rate, this means that housing prices are likely to drop. The reason is that when buyers have to spend more money on interest, this makes the acquisition of a home more difficult. The business press is constantly speculating on where interest rates are headed, and it's worth staying informed if you plan to make a move in the near future.
Bylaws and government policies: Changes in zoning bylaws, perhaps limiting the amount of apartments you can add to your property, could either enhance or reduce property values. You should watch what local politicians are saying about limitations on building. Similarly, landlord and tenant laws can have a negative or positive affect on real estate pricing.
Local economies: At the time of this writing, a huge boom in the energy industry is creating a boomtown-style real estate surge in Calgary. The more economic activity there is in a region, the higher the prices. You can forecast future hot markets by tracking economic activity in key markets. If a large government contract is awarded to a company that operates in a smallish town in Quebec, watch that area for an increase in real estate prices. On the other hand, plant closures can mean falling markets.
Watching the markets is a skill that improves with time. As you track prices and follow the indicators, you will develop your own sense of where prices are going in the areas the most interest you.