Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

You Need a Realtor, Especially Now

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Calgary downtown winter

You can’t really blame people – including many in the media – for getting all Chicken Little about Calgary’s real estate market. Layoffs and downsizing at corporations have led to a significant, but not catastrophic, slowdown in homes changing hands, and some prices have been reduced accordingly. The benchmark price actually went up a little over a percent in 2015, but total sales were down about a quarter. We’re solidly in a buyers’ market, and that’s something Calgarians haven’t seen in a long time.

But things aren’t necessarily so dire, really; our fundamentals are strong, prices aren’t artificially inflated, and desirable communities remain desirable. While there are fewer buyers competing for properties, well kept homes in good neighbourhoods are as motivating as ever.

That said, it’s more important than it’s been in years for you to put your home’s best foot forward, and for you to work with an experienced Realtor to help navigate the rapidly changing waters of today’s real estate market.

A Realtor such as myself participates in frequent professional development, ensuring my skills are ideally tuned to the current market. Realtors know the city inside and out, have been around the block enough times to bring historical context to what’s on offer today, and use well-honed negotiation skills to get the best price for your home. Realtors have access to the most accurate and timely data about market conditions and trusted predictions, giving their clients an edge when it comes time to set or adjust a price. Realtors know what will attract buyers and get them to write an offer rather than move on to the next property on the list. And Realtors can save hours decoding the piles of paperwork that goes along with a real estate transaction. Those who go it alone, without the help of a Realtor, are taking a big risk and are probably leaving money on the table.

As part of the services that my Dad and I offer, we’ve just added a comprehensive ‘Local Info’ section to our website that breaks down vital information about Calgary, Airdrie, Chestermere, and Cochrane for those who may be coming from out of the area. We detail civic governments, neighbourhoods, cultural events, schools, shopping, sports teams and more. Even if you’re not in the market to buy or sell right now, I’d encourage you to check it out – you may learn a few things!

Appetite for Apps

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

iphone apps

Apple’s marketing slogan, “There’s an app for that,” gets more true by the week – these small programs for mobile devices are becoming increasingly powerful and popular. You can find a series of apps for basically any industry you can imagine, and real estate is no exception. Here’s a list of five of the best apps for Canadian buyers and sellers.


This app puts the power of the MLS system in the palm of your hand, allowing you to search listings across Canada by a variety of criteria. An added value, compared to the desktop version, is the GPS functionality that can tell you about listings near your current location, making your Sunday house shopping drive a whole lot more efficient.

2. Magic Plan

Create a floorplan of a home simply by taking a series of pictures and letting the app do its magic. Great for making decorating and furnishing decisions, or just to get a sense of a property from a new perspective.

3. Canadian Mortgage

Calculate your mortgage payments, land transfer fees, CMHC premiums, and more, helping you get a grasp on how much home you can really inform. This app even includes sliders to take into account roommate income, bi-weekly vs. monthly payments, and first-time homebuyer rebates.

4. Ready Set Home

Designed especially for first-time homebuyers, from Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC. Helps determine affordability and tracks details during the homebuying process.

5. Starbucks

What would a day of house shopping be without coffee? The Starbucks app tracks your purchases (you can pay right from your phone if you load a gift card into the app), and lets you hit purchasing goals that earn perks like free refills.

Market Report

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Find out What Your Home is Worth.

It’s easy and free! Set it up yourself in just a few minutes.

Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or just want to keep up-to-date on market trends, this free report is an excellent tool.  Simply fill in your information and you’ll automatically receive a detailed sales-history report with information about home values in your neighbourhood, complete with pricing information, addresses, and pictures.  Be the expert on your block!

Contractor Woes

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

It’s coming on renovation season: that time of the year, after the Christmas credit card bills are paid, when people start itching to have a little work done around the house. Maybe it’s with the intention of selling soon – if so, I know a great Realtor – or maybe it’s just to freshen things up and fix some issues that became all too apparent over the last few housebound months. Regardless, contractors love the spring.

Unfortunately, lots of homeowners just have no idea what rights they do and don’t have when it comes to hiring a contractor. A good friend of mine worked for the Better Business Bureau for a number of years, and found that, consistently, home renovation companies were among the most complained about, month after month. Not just shoddy workmanship, either: lots of outright scammers come out of the woodwork, so to speak, to prey on people’s inexperience with door-to-door offers too good to be true. It’s sad, and it costs a lot of people a lot of money.

The esteemed renovation superhero Mike Holmes wrote up a straightforward and informative article for the National Post back in December; Calgary’s BBB has sound and thorough advice on their website too. Maybe the most important thing people don’t seem aware of is that, in Alberta, it is illegal for a contractor to ask for any money before the job is done unless they have a Prepaid Contractors License from the government. Sure, it sounds reasonable when the guy standing in your living room asks for 50 percent down to cover materials, but unless he or she is properly licensed, you have zero guarantee that you will actually get anything for that money, and little recourse if you get burned. Trust should be earned, not assumed. A contractor has to have a proven history to secure that license, and also must put up a substantial bond against which a dissatisfied homeowner can claim if things really go sour (meaning the agreed work doesn’t get done, not the hardwood doesn’t complement the couch like expected). Plus, you can visit the Service Alberta website to search a company name and find out if they are licensed to take payments, rather than just taking someone’s word for it. My opinion, don’t hire a contractor who isn’t licensed.

Beyond that, Holmes makes a solid argument that good contractors are busy, many to the point that they’re turning projects down, and so they don’t need to go door-to-door for work; the ones who do show up at suppertime offering to repair your roof should maybe be eyed suspiciously. Certainly don’t hire anyone on the spot without doing a bit of research, including with the BBB and Service Alberta. That bit of extra effort could really save you some hassle – and money – later on.

Explore Calgary

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The old real estate adage concerning success in business – “Location, Location, Location” – works only when you know a bit about the location in question; guessing just doesn’t cut it. Agents specializing in commercial real estate marinate in demographics on a daily basis, and now a new tool from the Calgary Regional Partnership can help out. The website,, is intended to provide detailed breakdowns of individual areas along with available commercial real estate opportunities.

From the press release: “ is available free and instantly for access to industrial and commercial real estate in the Calgary Region, along with a database of available properties with images. The new website provides immediate access to critical business intelligence that decision makers need to make an investment decision in the Calgary Region.”

While not necessarily the easiest website in the world to use, there’s a lot of information at one’s fingertips here, and I can only imagine its usability will improve with time. This thing just launched a few days ago, after all, and it’s intended for a more specific audience than the general public (but it’s fun for you and I to play with too, depending on how you define fun). The Calgary Real Estate Board has expressed interest in the site as a valuable tool to help commercial Realtors respond quickly to their clients’ needs.

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.