Where’s the Money? November 5, 2011 8:59am

First of all, apologies for the lag in the blogging business..already! I’ll blame it on “technical issues” and “flu related concerns”. I am hoping that I am up and running now, and that I can keep myself consistent and on track. If you remember from my first blog, I had concerns that I might not be able to, and so here we are already dealing with it.. but I guess that is part of life.. and creating a new habit will take some time. So bear with me.
This morning, I’m actually cuddled up in my husband’s apt in Montreal right now, under the blankets, with a cup of green tea, enjoying a lazy morning  while he finishes up some work related things, and then we are off to celebrate his birthday doing some shopping and then off to a great restaurant in the city called  O.Noir, which promises to be an extraordinary culinary adventure. I hear there is also one in Toronto, so you may want to check it out. I’ll let you know how it is.. we will be dining in the dark!
Last night after heading home from having dinner, and driving down some side streets my husband says ” See that home, guess how much it is?”  As an experienced Realtor, I see it as a nice little starter home, and in our area of St. Catharines, it would fetch $160,000- $180,000.  Frank tells me it is listed on the open market for $430,000!
I have a hard time believing it, but let me tell you, if anyone knows Real Estate better than me.. it is my husband. His hobby/pastime/ is checking out www.realtor.ca  looking at homes in Ontario, Quebec, and P.E.I. Sometimes drives me crazy to be honest.
So, I got to wondering, what drives prices up like this and what keeps prices minimal in other areas? Other than the typical and everyday supply and demand that is. Is it the fact that in Niagara, and specifically in St. Catharines, we are known as a “Retirement City” and a “Blue Collar City”?  Is it perhaps that there is not enough money flowing through the streets, that we are keeping a tight eye on our bank books and are unwilling to spend? Are we afraid to spend? Do we need to draw in the younger generations to our city? Which by the way, is super hard to do when most businesses are paying out minimum wage.
I think that a little bit of all of this is responsible for keeping our home values lower than many other cities.  My fear is that we will get stagnant. I hope I am wrong.
In order to move things in the market, real estate or not, things need to be healthy. People need to spend. And they need to have the ability to spend. I read the other day that our unemployment rate has dipped down to 6.2 which is great news for our city.
We’ve got lots of new things coming into the area, and I hope it will be enough. I am hoping that these new businesses and opportunities will also bring a bit of a surge of some new money moving around, exchanging hands. Niagara could certainly use it.