Archive for the ‘Industry’ Category

Summertime Home Renovations

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Summertime brings to mind rest and relaxation, sunny patios and cold drinks. If you have a few home renovation projects on your list, it can also be the best time to get cracking. There are myriad reasons why this is the ideal season for upgrading your home: the nice weather means mud and snow don’t get tracked into your home by contractors; your heating system’s usually sitting idle, so changing out an old furnace (and maybe adding an air conditioner) couldn’t be more convenient; your home’s exterior and landscaping are uncovered, making it easy to spot and remedy problems; and vacation time is often more easy to come by in the summer months, meaning you can be around to supervise work and answer questions.


So what sort of things can you tackle right now? Here are a few popular projects:

Upgrade the windows

New windows can have a substantial impact on energy efficiency and home comfort, especially if your property is more than ten years old. Modern window technology can keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter for a one time cost that may pay for itself with the reduction in furnace use.

Add an air conditioner

While this might seem like an extravagance in a city like Calgary, where summers aren’t usually excruciatingly hot, incorporating an air conditioner into your home’s heating system may not be as expensive as you think, and the improvement in your sleep and overall comfort throughout the summer may well be worth it. When selling your home, an integrated AC system can also be very attractive.

Redo your deck

Spending a weekend stripping and re-staining your deck, accompanied by a few beers and a stereo, can be a surprisingly enjoyable summertime project; doing this regularly will vastly extend the life of your deck, too. Just make sure there’s no rain in the forecast, as having an unexpected shower lift your stain right after you finish is a real bummer.

Update the landscaping

Most of us, at the very least, plant some annuals and tidy up the yard. But if you have a vision of a more substantive overhaul – which can boost curb appeal and just make you smile when you come up the driveway – summer’s the time to do it. Hiring a trusted landscape contractor, with good references and a solid portfolio, can save you time, money, and aggravation in the long term.

Power wash the house

A winter’s worth of grime can make your home’s exterior dull and uninviting: an hour with a power washer can rectify this, making your property look like new again. Depending on how thick the dirt is, power washing can even keep your home cooler, as lighter colours reflect the sun’s rays more efficiently.

Organize the garage

For most of us, the garage can quickly become a repository for stuff we don’t want to deal with, and throughout the winter it’s hardly an inviting environment in which to spend a few hours organizing. So do it in the summer! Raise the garage door, put on some tunes, and get your space clean and itemized so you can find what you need when you need it. Then call the charity of your choice to pick up all the things you discovered you haven’t needed in the past year.

Those are just a few ideas of summertime improvement projects. Have some that I missed? Mention them in the comments! Want to talk to an expert on the best places to put your time and money to make your home sale-ready for the fall? Contact me today!

CMHC Premium Increases – Nothing to Worry About

Sunday, March 12th, 2017


Earlier this month, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. announced that it will be increasing premiums on mortgages insured on or after March 17. This applies to home buyers financing more than 65 percent of their new home’s purchase price.

Don’t freak out about this; the increase is minor, and is actually a good step for the health of the  real estate market overall. Consumers financing $245,000 would expect to pay about $5 more per month in CMHC premiums, while those with mortgages worth $350,000 and $450,000 would see increases of just $7 and $8 respectively.

Those looking to lock in at current rates need to have a full application (not just a preapproval) submitted to a lending institution by 9:59 MST on March 13, so unless you’re well on your way to making an offer, the moment has likely passed. However, given the modest level of the increase, it’s not worth rushing a decision just to get in ahead of the deadline.

To get all the specifics about CMHC insurance rates, or to strategize your next home purchase, contact me today!

Is the Market Turning Around?

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Houses on pennies

I was looking at the Calgary’s real estate statistics for November, and it would seem we may be seeing some positive trends as far as how supply and pricing are moving. For over a year now, the city’s resale market has seen an abundance of listings as people look to downsize or simply move somewhere with better employment prospects, and that increased selection has put downward pressure on prices. Having tonnes of properties to compare is great for buyers, but can be frustrating and discouraging for those on the selling end. The last couple of months have marked a change in that trend, as the number of new listings went down 9 percent in November and a whopping 23 percent in December, while the number of active listings declined an average of 8 percent per month over the same period. At the same time, both median and average prices have continued to increase.

What this means for the average seller is it will be a little bit easier to stand out in the crowd, and the pressure to compromise on price has lessened. We’re still a far cry from the fast times of a few years ago, when many homes were selling for above-asking price before the For Sale sign could be pounded into the front yard, but it’s certainly positive news.

I expect this could be a sign of things to come, as our economy starts to scratch its way back toward growth, employment numbers improve, and our city gets back on its feet. The coming year could be the best year to sell your home that we’ve seen in awhile.

If you want to start hammering out a sales strategy for 2017, please contact me!

Also, the Calgary Renovation Show – a great place to get inspired – is less than a month away, and I’ve got a 2-for-1 ticket promo code for you! Simply visit this link and use the code 1MONTH to take advantage of the deal. Just make sure you do it before December 28, when the code expires.

Get Familiar with the New Mortgage Rules

Thursday, October 13th, 2016


Calgary’s real estate market continues steadily along, with home sales jumping more than 2 percent and average prices going up year over year. Despite the economic downturn, we have not seen a dramatic slowdown in most markets where property sales are concerned.

Potentially challenging that stability is a set of new rules around mortgages that the federal government will be phasing in starting October 17. Most noteworthy is a requirement that homeowners seeking an insured mortgage pass a ‘stress test’ to prove they can afford payments even if interest rates climb to the Bank of Canada’s posted rate (which can be nearly double what’s on offer from the banks), and that their carrying costs won’t exceed 39 percent of household income. This applies both to buyers with down payments above and below 20 percent, which is a major change from the status quo.

Other changes include a requirement that revenue coming from home sales be reported to the government at tax time; proceeds from the sale of one’s primary residence will remain tax free, but the feds are attempting to stem foreign buyers using a tax code loophole to claim flipped properties as primary residences to lower their tax bills.

It remains to be seen what the outcome of these changes will be. Some mortgage brokers are predicting that up to a third of first time homebuyers attempting to get into the market may find their pre-approval declined, while supporters see this as a positive way to address Canadians’ rising ratio of debt to income. Home prices in Toronto and Vancouver are rising rapidly, and this move by the government is surely a way to tap the brakes on that growth, but increasing indebtedness in this era of historically low interest rates is also a valid concern.

My advice in light of these rules remains the same as my outlook before they were announced: don’t try to buy more home than you can afford. While you may be pre-approved for a $700,000 mortgage, start your search a fair amount lower than that to see if there’s a property that meets your needs at a more comfortable monthly payment level. You can’t really go wrong with being conservative in this area.

So, when you contact me to line up some showings, give me a range of what you’d like to see below your pre-approval level, and I’ll help find a home that meets the needs of both your lifestyle and your pocketbook.  If you aren’t sure what your pre-approval is contact your bank or a mortgage broker, such as Canquest Mortgage, to get started.

Don’t Just Read the Headline

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Understanding the market

As is pretty common in real estate news articles lately, the Herald kind of buried the lede in its latest survey of Calgary’s market. Yes, it’s true that year-over-year sales were predictably down once again, as sectors of our economy continue to suffer. More interesting, though, at least from my perspective, is the fact that detached home sales were down a mere 1.4 percent from last year. Think about that: despite unemployment in the province hitting a 20-year high, houses are still being bought at a rate very close to last year’s. Add in the fact that average sale prices are actually up in some segments, despite a substantial increase in supply, and you have just one more example of the strong fundamentals underlying our real estate market.

The weaknesses in the market right now, rightly noted by the Herald, are the apartment, and attached home (including townhouses and duplexes) sectors, which have seen sharper declines in both sales and selling prices. Still, the drops have been nowhere near as precipitous as you might have expected if the market had been overheated.

The fact of the matter is, real estate in Calgary offers good value for money. We’re a resilient, optimistic city, and a great place to live.

So when you notice a particularly dire headline about the state of our real estate market, consider the purpose of that headline (to encourage clicks and sell papers), and read the entire article before forming an opinion. That’s solid advice for any article you might come across these days, actually.

As always, I’m available to consult on your property, or just to chat, through my contact form.

Why Haven’t House Prices Plummeted?

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Up and Down

As Alberta’s economy continues to sputter, with unemployment hitting levels we haven’t seen since the early eighties, one would expect our once heated real estate market to be cooling off big time. Listings are way up over last year as people look to downsize, leading to an abundance of selection from which buyers can choose. A surface reading would suggest prices should be dropping.

But they’re not. Calgary’s average prices for July and August were actually up year over year, with only a 15 percent increase in the average number of days properties are listed on the market.

So why would that be? Late last month the CBC ran an excellent article exploring this very issue. Based on information from the Department of Finance, the conclusion the article reaches is that much of the unemployment our province is experiencing has hit itinerant workers – meaning those who came from other provinces to fill jobs in Alberta – who weren’t homeowners here, and have since returned to their home provinces. This has the effect of limiting downward pressure on Alberta’s housing markets (while spiking the rental vacancy rates). Read the article for more in depth analysis.

If the economic downturn continues, of course, its impact on the real estate market could be more pronounced. For the moment, however, housing sales remain a relatively stable component of Alberta’s economy.

Want to chat about selling your house, or looking to buy? Contact me!

New Regulations Measure Up

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Measure House

Most home buyers would agree that one of the first details they look for in an MLS listing is the square footage of a property. This information alone can lead a buyer to read on or move along to a more appropriately sized home. This is self evident, and so it may come as a surprise to learn that, until recently, no real estate regulator in Canada has had a Residential Measurement Standard (RMS). That changed this past May, when the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) approved an RMS in our province.

Following extensive consultations, RECA developed an RMS that, in the words of Council Chair Krista Bolton, will allow consumers to, “be confident in the measurements stated within residential real estate listings, and they can use those measurements to compare different properties to determine if they suit their needs.”

In addition to Realtors and their clients, RECA notes that the RMS benefits appraisers, mortgage brokers, financial institutions, and insurers.

RECA has published on its website a quite comprehensive Guide to the Residential Measurement Standard in Alberta, but the basics are that single detached properties are to be measured on the outside surface of the exterior walls at floor level, while duplexes, townhouses, condominiums, and apartments should be measured ‘paint-to-paint’ at floor level. Only floors that are entirely above grade are measurable as part of the RMS; partially below ground levels, such as those in a split, may be measured and noted in the listing but not as part of the RMS number.

Proper measurement is vital, and inaccurate work can cause some serious hardships, so long before this new standard was even being discussed, I started using the services of a professional measurement company for all my listings. It costs me money to provide this service for each listing, but the peace of mind and unquestionable accuracy are well worth it to me.

If you have any questions about the new RMS, please contact me!

On a separate note, the Calgary Home + Design Show is only three months away, and I have a special Father’s’ Day promo code to pass along. Click here and use the promo code DAD to get two-for-one tickets! (Offer expires June 24th at 11:59pm)

The Expectation Gap

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Expectation Gap

Even as Calgary’s home market continues to slow, bit by bit, we’re seeing a remarkable increase in the number of homes on the market – supply is up nearly 24 percent from a year ago. This completely makes sense: there’s a wide variety of homes in styles and price ranges to suit nearly every potential buyer in neighbourhoods across the city, and that’s making homeowners who maybe weren’t even planning to move get the upgrade bug, so they put their own property on the market to see if it’ll sell. Add in our economic troubles forcing some to downsize, and you’ve got an abundance of supply.

This can, and is, leading to an expectation gap between some buyers and sellers. While some sellers are still hoping to get prices in the range they might’ve seen a year or two ago, thrifty buyers are using the current situation to pressure for deep discounts. It’s a bit of an impasse that may take some time to smooth out.

So what’s a person to do? My advice is this: if you’re looking to sell, you may need to, as Calgary Real Estate Board president Cliff Stephenson put it recently, “lower your expectations on price.” Calgary’s real estate market remains very healthy and sustainable, but you can’t grow the inventory the way ours has in the past several months without putting downward pressure on asking prices. Consider how quickly you’d like your property to sell, as attractive pricing can help a home stand out in today’s market. There’s no need to drastically undervalue your listing, but you’re not going to get 2014 prices today.

For buyers, don’t expect a fire sale mentality amongst sellers, as our market’s just not there. While there’s a lot to choose from, benchmark prices really haven’t dropped that much, and mid-range homes are still changing hands in a couple of weeks. While there may be a bit more wiggle room than there would’ve been last year, appealing properties are still highly sought after, and bidding wars are not out of the question.

Overall, our market continues to adjust to the new reality, but the fact that it remains relatively stable is a testament to how healthy and realistic it has remained over the past several years. As our economy improves over the rest of the year, we may see some of the downward pressure let up, but really what happens next remains to be seen.

Contact me today for a comparative market analysis today!

Spring Market Trends

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Spring House Market

RE/MAX has released its annual Spring Market Trends report, which gives a good look at how Calgary’s market compares to the rest of the country, and predicts what the rest of 2016 will be like. It’s available here, and I suggest taking a look if you’re thinking about buying or selling this year.

Of particular note is the slowdown in residential construction across our city, which should help the resale market absorb its abundance of inventory. Further, we’re likely looking at a slight increase in average selling price by the time 2016 comes to a close. For April, we had an increase in both the median and the average selling price, with the total number of sales only dropping about 10 percent from last year, so don’t believe the pessimists who think our real estate market is in a serious decline; it remains, and will remain, strong.

The next couple of months are typically the busiest for buying and selling, so if you’re considering putting your property up for sale I’d suggest getting on it sooner rather than later. The unseasonably warm weather has prospective buyers out and about more than they might’ve been in a more typical spring, and that means your For Sale sign can have even more impact. Contact me today for an assessment of your property, and maybe some suggestions on enhancing your curb appeal for those evening strollers.

Pricing Your Home in Today’s Market

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

How much is your property worth - Small

Competitive pricing has been a cornerstone of successfully selling one’s home for as long as there’s been a real estate market. In Calgary, however, pricing is now more important than it has been in years due to moderate sales and an abundance of supply. While our market remains relatively solid and stable, many buyers simply don’t have the same sense of urgency as they may have had a couple years ago, and taking more time to shop around means having a better idea of where comparable properties are listed, price-wise.

The best place to start, now and always, is with a trustworthy Realtor. When I am preparing to list a client’s home, I do a thorough cataloguing of its most attractive features, recent upgrades, popular amenities, and unique characteristics that will make it stand apart. Armed with this detailed description, I do an intensive comparison among recently-sold properties in the same and similar neighbourhoods. Thinking as a buyer, I look at what other properties the ideal buyer of my client’s home might have come across, and see how they stack up. Examining the selling price and condition of these properties gives me a solid range to present to my client.

Next, I deliver a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to my client featuring the information I gathered above, along with a recommendation for where I think their property should be priced. This is simply a recommendation, of course; my job, as a real estate professional, is to carry out my client’s wishes to the best of my ability, and if they wants to list at ten percent over what comparables have sold at, that’s what I’ll do. However, I’m bringing more than fifteen years of experience to bear on this relationship, and so I would advise my client of the current market conditions, pricing trends, and the potential ramifications of coming in too high: when a home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers and other Realtors can begin to assume something’s fishy, and pressure to drastically lower the price to make a sale can be significant.

The best strategy is to price wisely right out of the gate. A properly priced home tends to sell faster, and for a higher percentage of asking, than one with a more wishful price tag.

So, what is pricing wisely in today’s Calgary market? There are plenty of properties available throughout many attractive communities in our city, and the length of time the average home sits on the market is going up each month, so if you’re looking to sell sooner rather than later, an aggressive pricing strategy is probably called for. While selling prices haven’t taken a nosedive, the abundance of choice means an attractive price can really make your property stand out among the competition. Review your Comparative Market Analysis with your Realtor of choice (contact me to get me started!), and discuss what your home might go for on the low end. Add a couple of percentage points to build in some wiggle room in negotiations, and you should arrive at a price that keeps your home from sitting on MLS for too long.

Of course, there are no guarantees, and each client’s personal situation is different. Patient sellers who don’t need to sell as quickly as possible may find their patience paying off in a higher selling price. The risky part of looking for top dollar in a buyer’s market, such as Calgary’s, is that the property may take an extended period to sell, or may not even sell at all without concessions. Before deciding on a strategy, have a frank discussion with your Realtor about your goals and your tolerance of risk. Listen to his professional opinion, and then make an informed decision. In the end, the best pricing strategy in this, or any, market, is the one that fits your personal situation.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Calgary Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.