Canadian Real Estate Market Update

We spend a great deal of time talking about the real estate market woes in the United States, but our neighbors to the north are continuing to see positive trends with house prices in the Canadian market.  A recent Royal LePage article reports that although there are signs of moderating, the market is expecting a year over year increase of house values of 7.7% by the end of 2011.

 The Royal LePage Quarterly House Price Survey (Q2 2011) shows mostly positive price changes across key housing segments and different markets. This is a markedly different perspective than a current US chart that is littered throughout with negative numbers.  While they are looking for these gains to level off, Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, noted that improved employment levels and strengthening wages should continue to provide stability for the housing market.

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June Appraisers of the Week

As part of our ongoing recognition of mortgage and relocation appraisers who deliver exceptional services to Dwellworks and our clients, we issued Dwellworks Team Awards in June to the following appraisers:

  • Joe Trecola of TREA Corp in Detroit, Michigan
  • Tom Weber of Associated Appraisal & Property Services in Laguna Niguel, CA
  • Dan Swinney of Residential Value Services in Centreville, VA
  • Michael Tabacco of Michael P. Tabacco in Walnut Creek, CA
  • Prodigy Appraisal Services, Inc in West Hills, CA
  • William Finlay of Finlay & Company LLC in Montgomery, AL
  • Steve Nichols of Steve Nichols Appraisal Service in Dallas, TX
  • Rocky Whitaker of Associated Appraisers, Inc. in Roswell, GA
  • Hank Fontes of Fontes Appraisals, Inc. in Orange, CA

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Faster Foreclosures Are Needed

Kansas State University professor Eric Higgins recently released a study which shows that prolonging the foreclosure process is actually harming the housing sector; it drags the foreclosure process out and delays the chance for market recovery.  Higgins identifies the ineffectiveness of mortgage modifications as a postponing of the inevitable, as well as a link between the long foreclosure process and continued unemployment due to lack of mobility.

Clearly, the foreclosures currently on the market and the uncertainty of the shadow inventory threatening the market are negatively influencing the real estate market.  The question now is just how painful it will be to get all of that behind.

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Maryland: New Reciprocity Agreement for Out of Country Drivers

New rules that recently came into effect in Maryland for Out of Country drivers from the Federal Republic of Germany, France and Republic of Korea (South) allow them to waive the knowledge test and the practical skills test when applying for a license. Applicants are still required to attend the Drug and Alcohol Education program. License holders from France and the Federal Republic of Germany must surrender their licenses before a Maryland license can be issued. Details of these and any additional requirements can be obtained by checking the Maryland Department of Transportation website.


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Rental Housing Availability Alert

Dwellworks is issuing an alert to all companies relocating individuals into or within the United States regarding the state of the nation-wide rental market. Several factors, detailed in this US Rental Market Alert Summer 2011, are driving prices up and availability and landlord concessions down.

Watch this space for further updates.

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From Globalization to the Mega-region

National Georgraphic interviews author Richard Florida:

“Whether we’re in France, the United States, China, or Japan, we tend to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes, drive the same cars. But then simultaneously, people are trying to find what’s unique and authentic in the world, and that interest makes those things rise in value. In some ways, capitalism is wrapping its arms around a place’s sense of history and authenticity, viewing them as economic assets, a storehouse of value and profits. And yet, popularity threatens those assets.”

   - Richard Florida

To the relocation professional Florida’s argument seems overly simplistic, perhaps a difference between travel and relocation. As we facilitate life changing moves every day we see the cultural challenges both on the surface and deeper in the unconsciousness that go well beyond what car one drives or what food they eat even if the world is becoming more commercially homogenized. His broader point regarding the 21st century belonging to the city will have great impact on the relocation industry and all our lives in the years to come. Interesting food for thought.

Read the interveiw here

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Dwell On It: U.S. Geographic Risk Assessment

As we approach the midpoint of the year, 2011 has already supplied a historical level of storm and natural disaster activity. Assessing local geographic risk is a key component to managing real estate risk exposure as a part of a relocation program.

To learn more, check out the US Geographic Risk Assessment.

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Private School Cost

There are approximately 1,200 day and boarding schools in the U.S. which 570,000 students attend.  Parents choose independent schools for a number of reasons: religious affiliation, smaller class sizes, or a unique curriculum.  While there are numerous school options, the difficulty is that the price tag is out of reach for most Americans.  On average, day schools in the U.S. cost $19,000, but in major urban areas such as NYC day tuitions can reach $40,000.  More established schools with large endowments can offer some financial aid, but with markets not doing as well schools cannot provide as much support.  Parents need to carefully consider taking out loans for school, the need to plan finances for college costs is equally important!

For further information:

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Best Practices in Appraiser Selection

As the initial step in the relocation appraisal process, transferees are provided with a list of qualified appraisers available to complete a relocation appraisal on their home. This list may be created by the transferee’s employer or a relocation management company (RMC), but most often is created by an independent appraisal management company (AMC). Typically appraisers are selected based on a combination of statistical data, experience level, and geographic competency for the subject property area. Statistical data includes historical performance and quality ratings, with overall accuracy (appraised value vs. final sales price) being the most heavily weighted selection criteria. Transferees should be comfortable knowing that each appraiser on the list has certified that he or she is qualified to complete an ERC appraisal in the transferee’s area.

Most corporate relocation policies ask transferees to choose three appraisers (two primary and one alternate), but if there are more than three appraisers on the list (industry norms are three to six), how can transferees be sure that they are choosing the “best” appraiser for the assignment? Appraiser lists are created with the intent of providing the transferee with the best appraiser choices possible given the historical performance records of the relocation appraisers covering the subject neighborhood. However, expanding the list beyond three or four appraisers allows for lower ranked appraisers to be considered for the assignment. This risk can be controlled at the corporate policy level by limiting the number of appraisers the transferee can select. Additionally, depending upon the area, it may be difficult to find five or six appraisers that meet the performance caliber of the top three to four appraisers on the list.

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Education Focus: Fairfield County Connecticut

Fairfield County CT is the most populated in the state, with a population of 916,829.  The towns from Greenwich to Fairfield are where most of the wealth is concentrated, making the county one of the most affluent in the United States.  Individual cities, towns and combined neighboring towns are responsible for all local government functions, including schools. 

The towns of Westport, Greenwich, Wilton, Ridgefield, New Canaan and Darien host a large population of highly educated families and therefore offer a wide choice of good public, private and parish schools.  Though Fairfield county itself does not have international schools, expats are drawn to the area because of the rural feel and proximity to New York City.  The choice of school options makes it even more appealing, and neighboring Westchester County NY offers both German and French International schools and other International Baccalaureate programs. The concentration of global companies in the county for the last two decades has brought even more international focus to the area.

With commuter rail service into New York City, Fairfield County CT as well as Westchester County NY are sought after suburbs of busy New York City.  The county’s commitment to education and the lifestyle it offers makes it a sought after place to live for American and international families. Tuition for Private schools in the area range from $10,000 – $12,000 for religious schools and $20,000 – $30,000 for independent schools.     

Westport (
Greenwich (
Wilton (
Stamford (
Ridgefield (
New Canaan (

IB Diploma Program:


International Schools:

The Greenwich Japanese School (

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