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September 2012

When It Comes to Luxury Condominiums in Toronto, Ania Baska Has 1,000 Reasons to Make the Sale

Member Profile: Ania BaskaFew sales professionals can claim they’ve done something, anything, successfully 1,000 times in their career. But for RE/MAX Condos Plus Realtor Ania Baska, that’s the number of luxury condominiums in West Toronto’s Waterfront area she has sold over the course of her 17-year career.

Although the luxury condo market has slowed a bit during the summer months, Ania is looking forward to this November, typically the busiest time of year for her. The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing was happy to get her views and update on the unique West Toronto Waterfront condo market:

What’s the typical starting price of luxury condominiums in your market?

AB – The entry point for luxury condominiums in the West Toronto Waterfront area is $700,000. There are typically three parameters that impact the price of condos here: Does the unit face the water? What’s the size of the unit? Is the building new or a resale?

What will $700,000 buy you?

AB – It would depend on whether the building is new or resale, but typically for that price you would get two bedrooms and approximately 1,100 square feet. The average price per square foot is $600 to $700 for newer luxury condo buildings.

How different is your market from last year at this time?

AB – This summer slowed a bit. We’re down about 5 percent in terms of prices and maybe 10 percent for sales.

However, May was a good month and fairly busy. I was fortunate enough to sell the most expensive condo in the Luxurious Palace Pier area for $1.288 million, which was nearly 3,300 square feet. 

November is typically one of our busiest months so we’ll definitely see things picking up in the coming weeks. Overall it was a quiet summer with some movement with high-end properties.

What noteworthy changes are you seeing in the market?

AB – Parts of Toronto are growing very fast. About 10 minutes outside of downtown Toronto, there are about 2,000 new condos under development, many resales and high numbers of buyers. People consider condos to be good investments.

How are you adapting your business to the market conditions and opportunities?

AB – We’ve scaled back a bit. One full-time assistant went back to school and I will rehire another when the market picks back up.

What do you see ahead short- and long-term for your market?

AB – Overall, the condo market is solid. People understand that the Toronto luxury condo market is a stable investment and I think they will continue to feel that way for many years.

Here is some additional analysis from RBC on the broader Toronto condo market for the first half of 2012.

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 Stay tuned.  Next we'll be getting an update on the Boston luxury market from Sven Andersen.


In Sarasota, $16.95 Million Gets You an Incredible Unique Beachfront Estate – And Some Pretty Noteworthy Neighbors Too

Although the Sarasota, Florida luxury home market hasn’t been immune to the downturn most other markets have endured, Nicki Conway of RE/MAX Alliance Group thinks her market is poised for a distinct turnaround. And year-to-date data supports her views.

Nickicropped_1148495119_8695[1]Nicki, who has been selling luxury homes in Sarasota for nearly a decade, gives us her insider’s look at this market.

What’s the typical starting price for the luxury homes segment of your market?

NC – For a country club or equestrian estate, the entry point would be approximately $800,000. For a home with a view of the water, the entry point would typically start at $1 million.
Our highest priced waterfront sale was $7.1 million while our most expensive country club home sold for $1.6 million.

Currently, our highest priced luxury estate is $16,950,000 and it’s a beachfront property located on Casey Key where Stephen King and Oprah have estates.

How would you describe the pulse of your market? 

NC – We’re seeing a lot of foreign buyers. And overwhelmingly, they pay with cash.
We’re also seeing an interesting trend: Some buyers are making offers with cash but then getting a mortgage because rates are so low they want to leverage their money.

I see prices continuing to trend up and there has been about a 2 percent increase in year-over-year prices.

How different is your market from last year at this time?

NC – Sales are quite brisk. It’s a confidence thing: People feel better about the market and have a better attitude about buying. Things are improving in the economy and as the saying goes, “If it’s properly priced, it will sell.” We have roughly a 4.5 month supply of inventory. Last year at this time we had 20% more properties available.

Which segments are hot and where are the best opportunities in the market?

NC – From what I’m seeing, waterfront homes seem to be hottest in the luxury segment. With that being said, I think there are opportunities in all areas of Sarasota. Think about it: Prices that are down 45 percent compared to 2005-2006, and no segment is really that much stronger than the other.

How are you adapting your business to the market conditions and opportunities?

NC – Over the past two years, I have heavily marketed on the internet to bring in new buyers. Now, it seems like the biggest challenge is finding listings.

Sellers are holding off a bit since prices are going up and inventory is going down which means listings are harder to come by.

I’m trying a new approach and have been marketing to higher end short sales and trying to get some of the luxury short sale listings.

What do you see ahead short and long term for your market?

NC – I truly believe it’s going to be dynamic. There is a lot of pent up demand. Many people have been putting off buying the luxury home they want because of a wait and see attitude. Folks from the Northeast, Canada and the UK are continuing to come to Sarasota to purchase a second home to live in for six months of the year.

However, a lot of people still have high expectations, thinking they can purchase a new home with beautiful bay views, a boat dock and lift, and access to the beach, for under $1 million. That’s not the case.

That perception is turning around as we educate our buyers with graphs and data and as the media comes out with more and more positive data about our real estate market. Properties are going to continue to rise in value.

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Stay tuned. Next week we'll be getting a peek at Tornoto's luxury condo market with  Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) Ania Baska.

For Paradise Valley, Arizona, the Luxury Home Market’s Rebound is Hot

The summer temperatures aren’t the only thing rising in Paradise Valley, Arizona, a unique luxury home market that’s primarily made up of 1 acre-plus estates. With a population of just 14,000, this second and oftentimes third home destination market is surrounded by neighboring markets Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Michelle_image001LHweb_1148495119_8440[1]For an insider’s look at this market, we turned to Institute for Luxury Home Marketing Founding Member Michelle Kenny of RE/MAX Excalibur Realty.  

What’s the typical starting price of your market?

MK The entry point is $1.2 million. We’ve had 282 sales through the end of August this year and 142 of them have been $1 million or more.

How would you describe the pulse of your market?

MK – There is a lot of excitement in this market right now. Luxury agents are very positive right now and there are very few distressed properties listed. Generally speaking, we have recovered more than Florida and Nevada and California.
The market is strong and getting stronger. In June, Paradise Valley had 42 sales and the median price was $1,325,000 – that’s up 39 percent from the same time last year.

How different is your market from last year at this time?

MK – It’s amazingly different. There’s much more activity, energy and optimism. Last year we weren’t seeing as many sales and the days on market time was much longer. Buyers were much more aggressive last year and some sellers therefore decided to wait to list. There are a lot of buyers out there right now as evidenced by seeing 10 or more groups of serious buyers at open house times.  Right now, properties priced at $1.6 million and under are moving – typically in less than 30 days.

You’ve been focused on the luxury segment in this market for a number of years – do you see any similarities to past markets? What trends are you seeing?

Right now reminds me of 2002 when the market was still down. For instance, in 2002 I sold a house for $8.8 million in a down market. And that was a good price for that property – but you can just feel things starting to turn around.

One of the trends I’m seeing is buyers are not seeking as large of home as they did in 2005 or 2006. They prefer and quality over quantity and that would be more in the 5,000 – 6,000 square foot range as opposed to 8,000 - 9,000 in the past.

How are you adapting your business to the market conditions and opportunities?

MK - I am more of a people person rather than a high tech person so I continue to operate on referrals, continuing relationships with past clients (many of whom are now friends) and sometimes open house meetings. Clients know they are going to get personal service. When listing properties, I employ a professional photographer and have great pictures for presentation and the Internet. That's where I prefer spending my marketing dollars. I have spent copious amounts of money on advertising in the past. It pleases sellers, but I’m just not so sure how effective it is today. A good relationship with the other agents in the market is helpful.

Speaking of relationships, I belong to a terrific local luxury marketing tour group. We have over 400 members and it is unique to the valley. We meet twice monthly for breakfast, networking, and then tour and lunch. We get a lot of business done because of this and some homes sell once they are announced at the meeting and even before they are in the MLS.

What do you see ahead short and long term for your market?

MK - I see things continuing to go up. We have come through difficult times. In 2010, I sold a spec home for $2.3 million and that was a $5 million dollar house. At that time, a large number of spec homes sold for way under list priced and contributed to the market’s lowering of comps.

Our strongest buying and selling season is the fall through the spring. The second home market contributes to this. Currently all of the agents are saying that we need more inventory. In the town of Paradise Valley, as of late August there were only 227 active properties.

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 Stay tuned.  Next week we'll be hearing from Million Dollar Guild member Nicki Conway of Sarasota, FL.


From a $5.5 Million Luxurious Estate to Million Dollar Lakefront Properties, the Luxury Home Market in Arkansas is Alive and Kicking

Unlike the luxury home markets on each coast, Arkansas has its own unique blend of estates and luxury properties that luxury broker Ida Fineberg of  Steve Fineberg & Associates points out, “you simply get more for your money here – about ten times more.”

IdaIda, a luxury agent for more than a decade, focuses her efforts representing high end home buyers and sellers in four cities: Fayetteville, Springville, Rogers and Bentonville. Ida remains bullish on the luxury home market in Arkansas and believes “there’s something for everyone here.”

What’s the typical starting price of your market?

IF – The entry point is in the $500,000 to $600,000 mark. We currently have 57 listings priced at $1 million or more.  Our most expensive home is $5.5 million – an incredible 17,000 sq. foot estate perched on 48 acres in an absolutely beautiful area.   Homes priced at $1 million or more are typically on the market for 300 days.

How would you describe the pulse of your market?

IF – In this area, we were sort of in a bubble for a while and the real estate market has lagged. But we are seeing a higher number of people moving in and out who are executives here. So home prices are increasing slightly and people are finding that there are deals out there. It feels like there is more energy in the market and people are starting to get more positive.

Which segments of your market are hot?

IF -- Luxury homes located in gated communities seem to be hot. For people moving into this market who are used to living in upscale areas, gated communities are popular.  We have quite a few listings priced at $1 million and above. That’s the beauty of this market: there are a lot of options. From country club gated communities to lakefront properties, we really do have something for everyone.

What’s one of the top trends are you seeing?

IF – A lot more people are making this a destination area for retirement. I believe more people will move here to retire and get much more bang for their buck.

What do you see ahead short and long term for your market?

IF – I think things are going to remain steady. However, buyers are not stepping up as much as real estate agents would like them to because they are kind of in a holding pattern. But eventually they will get over their doldrums. Real estate can be like a roller coaster – it will come back up but it’s just going to take some time.  I’m a believer that there will always be a market for the luxury home buyer – it just might take longer to sell some of the homes.

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Stay tuned.  Next week we'll get the scoop on the Paradise Valley, Airzona luxury market from CLHMS and Million Dollar Guild member Michelle Kinney.