22 – The Marshall Report – episode 22

Today is Thursday, June 2nd 2016. This is the 22nd episode of the Marshall Report. Welcome to the podcast. In this week’s podcast:

1. Cars and cuts

2. Surroundings

3. Cycling

4. Days on the market

5. Rumours of glory

6. The short history of Pho

7. A surprisingly hot market

8. A call to inaction

9. Getting lost



It’s been a busy week in Kitchener Waterloo. I got stuck in traffic. I ran over a nail and the a/c in the car decided it didn’t want to work. That was a hot day, but I’m not complaining. I love the hot weather.

About the traffic. It’s a pain because the detours keep moving. One day you can go down a certain street. The next day you can’t. One day, you’ve got it all figured out and the next day, they’ve moved the big dig and you get caught.

I keep getting caught.

The dog needs a haircut, but the groomer is busy with other dogs. The dog is fine a little shaggy and stinky. We walk through Waterloo Park and when we get to the stream she lays down and has a bath.

I got my haircut. At the end, the barber asks, “Do you want to see the back?”

I say, “Yes, of course, it’s my only chance.”

I’ve been busy with a couple of sales, a passel of showings, working from sun up to sun down, but we took the time to go to a Blue Jays game and see them beat the Red Socks in the last play of the last inning with two out on a missed throw to 1st base.


What are the most important questions to ask when viewing a house? 

I received a question over the chat widget. It was, “What should I be looking for when viewing a house?”

Assuming, you’re like most people and you are out seriously shopping with your agent, you could be relying on him as a local expert.

As far as I am concerned, the three most important things about houses are

1) school and neighbourhood

2) shopping and amenities

3) transit and transportation.

When you are viewing a house with your realtor, you should be asking about those things first. If the house you are looking at does not have two of those three then, don’t consider the house. Where your house is, is more important than what is in your house.

If you are not shopping with your agent, then I would suggest paying special  attention to the neighbourhood. What do the cars in the driveways look like? Are there abandoned shopping carts nearby? Are the recycle boxes still at the end of the driveways two days after garbage day?

Take a walk around the block and see how the neighbourhood feels, sounds and smells.



Cycling was in the news last week. The region overturned on old bylaw that prohibited cyclists from riding side by side. Starting next year, riding two abreast is just fine on local roads. Cyclists are required to move over when safe and let larger vehicle pass however.

I noticed a bike in the back of a client’s car. I didn’t know that he was into cycling. How would I know? I started working with him in March. So I asked him about it and he told me that he cycles at the Hydrocut. I’ve heard about the Hydrocut for years, but I’ve never been. They have 22 connected trails combining for approximately 25 km of one-way singletrack.  Each trail has its own character, difficulty and unique set of features.

I haven’t been out on my bike yet this year. Ive been busy with the spring real estate market and never think about biking unless it is really hot and humid. That may seem weird but I started cycling when I lived in Taiwan and I got used to riding when the temperatures are over 30 degrees and the humidity is high.


Days on the market

days on marketOne thing about real estate is that we have great statistics. When you look at the long term trends, the cyclical nature of real estate is obvious. For example, houses that sell in December, January and August tend to spend the most time on the market before selling.

One of the statistics that are on every realtor house data form is ‘days on market’. And consumers offend ask how many days a house has been on the market as a benchmark of its popularity.  And perhaps the motivation of the seller.

The best houses, priced right sell fast.

As you can guess, houses are not staying on the market very long this year.

The median days on the market in April this year was just 15 days. It was 16 days in March and 19 days in February.

Last year by contrast, the median days on the market for April, March and February was 18, 19,and 21. So houses are selling 2 or 3 days faster.

If we go back to 2011 those days were 29, 28 and 30. Five years ago houses were taking ten days longer to sell.

And the list price median those five short years ago was $100,000 less.


False Rumours and half truths

My neighbour came over the other day. I was siting on my front porch. He said, “I heard you sold your house”.

“Thats news to me”, I said. “Where did you hear that?”

“From the guy next door”, he said.

I don’t know the guy next door. He runs a rental property. He doesn’t live there himself.

The next day, my neighbour comes back again. He said, “I heard you sold it for $1.2 million.”

That is a crazy amount of money for my house, about twice as much as it is really worth. “For that, I most certainly would sell it”, I told him.

These days rumours can spread fast. Most rumours are pretty obviously false. I was listening to a podcast the other day that explained why when you hear the phrase, “a recent study found…”, chances are what follows is dubious science based on a small data set.

Banana’s give you Sars

Coffee gives you cancer

Paul McCartney is dead

Elvis is alive

Justin Beiber saved a Russian man from a bear

There is a machine that turns water into wine

Foreign buyers are responsible for our rising real estate prices

…You get the idea


A short history of Pho

I was in Toronto last Saturday. One of the great things about living in KW is that Toronto is just down the road. The traffic downtown was nuts of course and I said what I always say when I’m in Toronto. “If I lived here I would sell my car.”

After the ballgame, we walked along the waterfront and then found ourselves at our favourite Chinese restaurant on Spadina. It is a northern food Chinese restaurant with hot and sour soup, and pot stickers and water dumplings.

China town has pretty much disappeared from this part of Toronto. It used to be, like most cities not only in Canada but in most cities in the world the old left over chinatown from the turn of the previous century. But now it is all mixed up. Time moves on. The old is slowly blended in with the new.

On our way up Spadina Ave, we almost stopped in at a Vietnamese Pho restaurant instead. The first time I had Pho was in the late 80’s in Vancouver. I say Pho, everyone says Pho, but I’ve been told that is really is pronounced fha or feu like fire in French, which I also cannot pronounce correctly. So I’d just say Pho.

Pho is a dish with a flat rice noodle, broth and beef sliced very thin. When I was in Vietnam last year, I learned that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner and normally I would have it twice a day.

Pho and coffee, the two staples of the Vietnamese diet.

I was recently reading an interesting article called the History of Pho. Pho, of course spread to North America in the late 1970s with the refugees after the Vietnam War. It got a foothold in the western world, but took a long time for most of us to find it. It really didn’t explode on the scene until about ten years ago. It didn’t explode at all really. It was a slow burn.

The same thing happened a century ago in Northern Vietnam. Even then it was a fusion food. Pho was created from a collision of circumstances essentially the interaction between the French who ate beef, and traditionally vietnamese food but made with a flat Chinese noodle.


A surprisingly hot one

One of the hottest real estate markets in Canada this years, outside of the cities surrounding Toronto and Vancouver is a bit of a surprise. The Conference Board of Canada found home prices in Windsor in April increased nearly 16 per cent over the same time last year, with the average price coming in at $221,000.

Windsor’s real estate market of course has been languishing for years. So it has a long way to go to catch up with much of the rest of the Ontario and Canadian markets.


Call to action

This week’s call to action is kind of zen. I recommend action through inaction. That’s right, take it easy. The warm weather is here, enjoy the summer. We deserve it.


Parting thought

And I will leave you with this parting thought. Just because we’ve lost our way doesn’t mean that we are lost forever.

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