As of December 1, 2013, there were 987 single family residential homes on the market in the twelve communities covered in this Lakes Region real estate market report. The average asking price was $495,189 and the median price point stood at $249,995. Last December there were 1,023 homes on the market with an average asking price of $498,763. The current inventory level represents an 11.5 month supply of homes on the market.
There are dozens of home improvement and real estate shows on TV these days and many of them are generally pretty informative and entertaining. You can learn how to do everything from the common household repair, to totally renovating a home, to making a fortune flipping houses... well, maybe breaking even flipping houses. One of my favorites lately is Love It or List It on HGTV. It is a pretty neat concept where homeowners that have outgrown their current residence have the opportunity to get their home remodeled to meet their needs while also shopping for a new home that might work better for them. The show is set up as a competition between the designer in charge of the remodel and the real estate agent charged with finding the homeowners some new and better digs. But rarely does anything go smoothly and there are a couple of flaws in the show that are a little misleading and always make me chuckle.
It doesn't take long for you to realize that the show is not based in the United States. It's actually a little north of here, in Toronto and that's not bad as the Canadian housing market is pretty strong. The Canadian accent is clearly the main tip off along with the architectural style of the homes which is slightly different than down here. The high prices of the homes might be another giveaway. It seems that most of the homes are in the $750,000 to $1.5 million for something not all that terribly grand.
There doesn't seem to be a shortage of people that have out grown their homes in Toronto. Seems like storage is always a big issue as stuff is always piled high and rooms are cluttered. There never seems to be enough bedrooms for the kids or bathrooms to go around. Enter Hilary Farr, the designer, and David Visentin, the agent. They get a list of the homeowners' must-haves for the renovation as well as what they would need in order to be enticed to move to a new home. They also get a budget for the renovations and for the new home. That's the easy part. Things generally unravel quickly from there.
Hilary comes up with a renovation plan for the homeowner to approve and sets to work ripping, tearing, and rebuilding. Now Hilary is good at what she does, very good. But I always wonder why she gets herself into the same mess show after show. It seems like in every renovation she does, there are hidden issues that cost more to correct than was budgeted. This leads to her trying to get more money from the unhappy home owner or more likely cutting back on the project which doesn't go over well either. Could the lack of proper budgeting be just a ploy to cause television discourse and increase ratings?
Agent David doesn't have it easy, either. They say he is one of the best real estate agents in Toronto and I believe it. From what I can see he is very personable, works extremely hard, listens to his clients, and does everything to make them happy. I'd hire him in a minute if he could just say "about" instead of "aboot." His problems usually stem from the fact that only one of the spouses wants to move, neither can agree on a new location, and both have different wish lists (That's no different down here south of the border.) So he shows his clients two or three great homes. Just to make the plot thicker, there's always one home they really love, but it is way over their budget (it is Canadian money, so it doesn't seem real anyway.)
Once the renovation work is done everyone meets back at the ranch and the homeowners get to see their newly remodeled home. It is always a stunning makeover and the owners are amazed and thrilled even though she didn't get that first floor powder room or he didn't get that office space he so desperately needs.
The homeowners then have to decide whether they are going to "Love" their home "or List It," but before they do David shows them one more listing; what their own home is worth now that it has been remodeled. Amazingly, their home's value always seems to increase about $30,000 more than the cost of the renovations! In the real world you just don't get over 100% ROI on remodeling your home! I really think there should be a disclaimer on the show; "Do not try this at home!" Some viewers have blogged that the homeowners don't pay for the labor costs of the renovations and that could be true, but I'd like to know for sure. I do know that if they "Love" the remodel that's the end of the story. But, what happens if they "List It?" Can they actually "Sell It" for David's quoted new value? And will the dream home that they want to buy still be there if they do? That, I am betting, might even be a better show...
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 12/1/13. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.