Friday, October 3, 2014

Financing is changing - Do you have the information you need?

I have had an ongoing conversation with Jason Dodd of Verico Maximum Mortgages about changes to mortgage financing in the recent past. I've asked him to write a blog to update you on what to expect. It really is time to change our thinking about the process. This is especially for those folks newer to Canada, self employed or any buyer who wants to have the best options, not just those available at the last minute.



From Jason:


While we have enjoyed a very competitive mortgage market and low interest rate environment over the last few years, a slow steady change has happened with mortgage qualification.  Lenders and insurers are under much more scrutiny to adjust qualification standards for all borrowers involved in a real estate transaction.


Only a short time ago we had 40 year amortizations, 100% financed mortgages with best rates, and a host of other options to ease qualification for borrowers.  Although I agree with a lot of the rule changes, in some cases it has tightened the mortgage rope around many buyers that qualification is being affected.


Clients whether new to the market or experienced in buying need to adjust to new parameters set out by both lenders and insurers.  The best way to do that is to shift your view from Pre Approval mode to Mortgage planning mode.  The difference is this, most clients we come across have a one page approval that says you are approved up to a certain dollar value with this interest rate.  Where we see this fail is when an offer goes live and suddenly clients are finding out they don’t qualify for a number of reasons.   Often this comes as a surprise to the buyer and the realtor showing them homes.


A properly planned mortgage strategy would help clients address their qualification up front and deal with any issues before an offer is being made.  Review of all relevant documents that are applicable to each individual applicant, as well as a review of the credit history to make sure it meets lender and insurer standards.  If there are any additional documents that need to be gathered we can also instruct clients to begin preparing them.  Most clients are surprised on the detail that is required to verify the down payment in a transaction as because of regulations in our industry you have to verify the source of funds used in a real estate transaction. 


Lastly clients often are not aware at the different terms, rates, privileges and general fine print that are offered by many lenders.  So clients feel rushed or pressured to take a certain term because they have had little time to prepare or think about different options.  Why not take the time to research this with a broker before an offer is made so you are versed in the debt you are about to take on.  There is a beginning, middle and end to a mortgage so be prepared for all stages of your financing.


- Courtesy of Jason Dodd of Verico Maximum Mortgages -

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Are increasing home prices in Calgary pushing folks out of single family homes and into townhouses and condos?

Are increasing home prices in Calgary pushing folks out of single family homes and into townhouses and condos?

From the CREB update: "While conditions are now more balanced, the composition of the single-family market has changed," said Lurie. "One-quarter of year-to-date sales in the sector has been for product priced below $400,000. Last year, it represented 35 per cent of the market share. Two years ago, it accounted for 44 per cent of all single-family sales."


With that the condo market is seeing a larger increase than single family homes: "For the fifth consecutive month, year-over-year condominium apartment sales growth outpaced growth in the single-family sector. Year-to-date condominium apartment sales totaled 3,819, a 21 per cent increase over last year. This compares with a seven per cent increase to 13,842 units in the single-family market over the same time frame."


While some folks are extending themselves to purchase higher value property, many young families are working hard to stay within their means. Surprisingly it is the younger crowd that tells me they are approved to values much higher than their search maximum when buying a new home. They have families to raise, trips to plan and lots of life to live. The current rental market is encouraging many to look at ownership when they look at the numbers but with budgets in hand.


Rent for a 2 bedroom aparment: $1700 per month = $20,400 per year or $102,000 over 5 years.

Typical suburban home: $2400 per month = $28,800 per eyar or $144,000 over 5 years.


Population predictions are expecting Calgary's population to increase by another 500,000 people by 2042. We all have to live somewhere.


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Friday, October 3, 2014

Spotlight on Signal Hill

More and more folks are looking to Calgary's west side when looking for a new home. Is it the new LRT, the easy access to all parts of the city, the amenities or the great home options?

You might be checking out the show homes further west, but don't forget to look in Signal Hill as there are some wonderful homes to consider that are at the heart of it all. 


View the Signal Hill Community Profile.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Embracing electronic signatures in Calgary real estate

Electronic signatures have been growing in popularity across various industries including real estate. In Alberta, electronic signatures are accepted as part of real estate transactions.

Using highly secure Docusign clients can sign a document using their smart phones, tablets, laptops or computers via their email.  No paper. No printers, scanners or faxes needed.
This has become an essential tool in my arsenal for a few reasons:
1. My clients can sign from anywhere/anytime.  They will not need to find a printer and then scanner or fax to sign a document. So yes, you can accept a purchase contract while on holiday in Mexico without having to send your personal documents via the hotel front desk. Or you can sign a document at work without having to print anything on the work printer or leave a job site. 
2. Documents are returned at high quality vs those that have been faxed a couple of times. Lawyers like legible contracts.
3. It is much faster than the conventional paper and driving. My clients saw a house they loved and drove home to think things through. In the meantime someone else wrote an offer on the house and we had 1 hour to get our own offer in. There was no time to drive there and back so I prepared the documents, we discussed by phone and my clients signed using electronic signatures. We got the offer in and we got the house.  
While I still sign most documents face to face, having electronic signatures as an option for my clients is another tool that improves the experience and helps you get things done.  We won't miss an important deadline because of a traffic jam.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Open House Saturday Sept 20 at 42 Hawkdale Circle NW

Stop by at 42 Hawkdale Circle NW this Saturday, Sept 20, between 2pm and 4pm to view this beautiful Hawkwood Home.


Original owners. This exceptionally well maintained home in Hawkwood is well designed to take advantage of the south facing backyard and ample light. The main floor includes a large kitchen wrapping around the centre island, eating nook, family room, dining room, living room and main floor office. Up the grand staircase 3 bedrooms including the master with 5 piece bath, additional full bath and laundry complete the level. The fully finished walkout basement offers a large rec room, 2 bedrooms, full bath and access to the amazing backyard. Landscaped with love over the years, this oasis is unlike most you will find. Enjoy the rooftop mountain view from the upper deck or the garden details from the lower patio. The stonework and mature plantings are gorgeous. Updates include replacement of all Poly B piping with new pex lines, over 34 window glazing panes replaced with double pane and a new roof. Air conditioned. This home close to amenities, schools and transit is move in ready.


View all property details for 42 Hawkdale Circle NW


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Just Listed - 1001 8 Ave NE Calgary

This exceptional home with south facing backyard/deck is just steps from the ridge in Renfrew and quick access to downtown. Well designed and constructed, this home feels very spacious. Beyond the front foyer is a large dining area open to the beautiful front bay window. Beyond is the wrap around kitchen with granite counters, hardwood floors, stainless appliances, under-counter lighting and elegant cabinetry. The kitchen bar opens to the bright living area with gas fireplace. Step out to the composite deck to enjoy an evening dinner. Upstairs the master bedroom is spacious with beautiful ensuite with standing shower and 2 sinks. Beautiful city views from the upper level. The laundry is also on the upper level. The second upper bedroom also has an ensuite. The fully finished basement offers a 3rd bedroom, full bath and huge rec room/family room. Spacious yard with lots of grass and double detached garage complete the back. Corner lot. Steps to transit. Book your showing today.


All property details and photos for 1001 8 Ave NE Calgary

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Calgary Real Estate Update - Sept 9 2014

Calgary's residential market continues to hold strong with high sales number. The condominium apartment and townhouse sectors saw the biggest gains, increasing by nearly 14 and 20 per cent, respectively. As pricing has moved up, those in the lower price points are moving to condo property vs single family as single family prices rise and less are available in the lower price points. It makes sense that townhomes are seeing a strong demand as many folks that would otherwise purchase single family homes are now looking at townhomes.


Pricing for single family homes remain at pricing similar to the previous month. Year over year pricing is still over 10% higher than this time last year.


Some major City announcements to watch include the ongoing discussion regarding secondary suties. The City of Calgary Council will be reviewing requirements and zoning for secondary suites this month. A big issue and currently a very political one as well.


As well, yesterday, Council approved the West Campus Development by the University of Calgary. This large new community still has many steps forward but very little contention on approval means they are well on their way. - Project Details for West Campus


If you wish detailed information regarding various market segments visit the CREB Statistics Info Page or give me a call at 403 850 2446.


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Calgary Secondary Suites - Is a big change coming?

In the coming days and weeks, Council will be readdressing the issue of secondary suites in Calgary. A matter of great debate and has become quite politicized and is gaining momentum.  Student groups, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and even the Home Builders Association have put their support behind the easing of restrictions regarding secondary suites. Currently they are not permitted in R-1 (or variation) designated areas which accounts for most single family homes in the city and every individual application must be heard by the Council. 


The lack of housing due to our very low rental vacancy rate has pushed this issue forward. First folks were displaced due to the floods of 2013, then followed a surge of new residents to our city as well as a booming real estate market. Many tenants in current property are facing pricing increases and new tenants are having trouble finding housing. Students returning to colleges and universities have faced a tough couple of years. The lack of options have pushed many to move to properties with illegal suites which may not meet building and safety requirements.


Should City Council ease restrictions to allow suites in previously restricted areas, owners and investors need to understand that this only changes the bylaw requirements. Any legal suites still need to meet safety and building code requirements to be legal suites. City of Calgary information on secondary suites.


Calgary Secondary Suite Guide


Calgary Secondary Suite Alberta Building Code Requirements


The change in bylaw would basically allow an owner to make step 1 of the current process much easier. Details on the process on the City of Calgary website.


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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Just Listed - 61 10940 Bonaventure Drive SE Calgary

First time on the market.


Renovated 3 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath fully finished townhouse backing directly to the Willow Park Golf Course. This unit is walking distance to the Anderson LRT station. The main level provides a spacious renovated kitchen with eating nook which looks out the front bay window. Beyond is a dining area open to the living room and beautiful views to the private back patio which looks out directly to the lush green golf course and mature trees. The main floor also provides a powder room. Upstairs there are 3 bedrooms including a master with 4 piece ensuite and walk in closet as well as a main full bathroom. Tile, flooring and lighting have been upgraded throughout as well as extra touches such as exposed beams and California knock down ceilings. The basement is fully finished with a spacious rec room and bar area, full bathroom, laundry and ample storage. Excellent location close to Southcentre mall and many shops and amenities. Double carport with tandem parking in front of the unit. Enjoy the complex pool!

Full details for 61 - 10940 Bonaventure Drive SE Calgary


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just Listed - 158 Mt Douglas Pt SE

Steps from the Bow River Pathway and close to amenities, transit, schools and parks including Fish Creek Park, this fully finished home is a must see. Excellent school and daycare options in the area. With a fully finished basement, 4 total bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, main floor den, separate dining and a well landscaped yard with two tier deck this home has a great layout. On the main level you will enter to a front living room and dining area. Beyond is the open family room, eating nook and large kitchen with spacious island and ample cabinets. The main floor also provides a den/office and powder room. Upstairs are three large bedrooms including master with tile 4 piece bathroom as well as a laundry room with Miele washer/dryer. The basement provides a 4th bedroom, full bath, hobby room (no window) and huge rec area including a bar area. The current owners have upgraded many items inside the home such as new paint, lighting, dishwasher,roof, garage openers and other touches. New high efficiency furnace 2013.


Property Information for 158 Mt Douglas Pt SE Calgary


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SW Ring Road Details

A few months back now we saw the initial designs for the remaining sections of the ring road. Alberta Transportation has now released two amazing animations that show full details.


This answers a lot of questions clients have had about access points and location respect to various property.


The videos were created by Alberta Transportation.


69th st to Macleod (South Portion)



Transcanada to 69th St (West Portion)


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Friday, August 15, 2014

Just Listed - 42 Hawkdale Circle NW Calgary

Original owners. This exceptionally well maintained, clean home in Hawkwood is well designed to take advantage of the south facing backyard and ample light. The main floor includes a large kitchen wrapping around the centre island, eating nook, family room, dining room, living room and main floor office. Up the grand staircase 3 bedrooms including the master with 5 piece bath, additional full bath and laundry complete the level. The fully finished walkout basement offers a large rec room, 2 bedrooms, full bath and access to the amazing backyard. Landscaped with love over the years, this oasis is unlike most you will find. Enjoy the rooftop mountain view from the upper deck or the garden details from the lower patio. The stonework and mature plantings are gorgeous. Updates include replacement of all Poly B piping with new pex lines, over 34 window glazing panes replaced with double pane and a new roof. Air conditioned. This Hawkwood home close to amenities, schools and transit is move in ready.


Property details, photos, video and floorplan for 42 Hawkdale Circle NW.


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Friday, August 15, 2014

Just Listed - 145 Tuscany Reserve Rise NW Calgary

This Tuscany home with west facing backyard is exceptionally clean, painted in neutral colors and move in ready. With hardwood on the main floor, the floor plan flows from the entrance to the back deck. Beyond the front entrance is a den/office to the right and spacious mud room to the left. Beyond the stairs is the open concept large kitchen with corner pantry and substantial island with breakfast bar, the living room and dining area. The large windows let in ample light and the raised back deck is a perfect place to relax in watching the evening sun over the mountains. The upper level provides a huge bonus room, master bedroom with 4 piece ensuite and a skylight over the ensuite tub, 2 more bedrooms, a full bath and a bright laundry room. The unspoiled basement is very well laid out and open. It is a raised basement so the back windows are unusually big. Basement bathroom is roughed in. Double attached garage. Close to amenities, schools and transportation. Tuscany LRT opening Aug 25.


Property Details for 145 Tuscany Reserve Rise NW Calgary

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Selling Property - Marriage status or Leaving Canada

In the last couple of weeks I've surprised a few buyers and sellers with information they didn't know but absolutely needed to know to avoid some major surprises.

1. Dower Rights. If you are legally married and purchasing a property only in your name you need to understand Dower Rights in Alberta.  You can buy the property without a blink but to sell the property you will require the signature of your spouse, even if you haven't seen then in 14 years and they live in the Arctic. 
2. If you sell your home and you have moved outside of Canada you need to be aware of tax implications. If you are no longer a resident under the Canada Income Tax act then 25-50% of sale proceeds can be withheld on closing until you file appropriate paperwork.  
Some folks think they can just avoid resolving these issues and list their homes anyway. You can't. They are a legal reality. You can absolutely address them, prepare for them and find a resolution and then move forward, but legal advice and some extra paperwork are sure to be required.
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Calgary Real Estate Market Update - Aug 5 2014

The real estate sales numbers for July are very strong with record levels for the month of July being posted.

The good weather is sure to cause a bit of a lull and we are now looking at more balance in the upper price points of the single family market and some more balance in the condo market. This is a common summer scenario with many folks focusing on summer holidays and weekend plans, they are delaying their home buying / selling decisions. The shift to a more balanced market is also due to a continued rise in new listings through July. The peak of new listings was actually in June so that trend has also started to level out in July so we will see how inventories respond now in August. September tends to be a busy month as well in general terms.

The shift away from a strong sellers market is sensational news for buyers. Don't look for price drops though, this is just a slowdown in the speed of increase.

So what does this mean for sellers? It may mean more competition in some segments and over priced homes will just not get the attention required to sell. New construction and development pricing has already been steadily rising so we will see if that pricing begins to stabilize as well.

Selling strategy and marketing are as important as ever for those listing their homes.

There are over 7000 multi family units under construction in Calgary. Much of this is closer to the city core with the push to move closer to work fueling the construction as well as the development of the East Village.

The other interesting numbers tidbit this month was the release of the 2014 City Census. Between April 2013 to April 2014 our city grew by 38,508 people. This is a huge part of the demand for rental accommodation and sales. The communities with the most growth included Saddleridge, Auburn Bay, Cranston, Skyview Ranch, Evanston, Panorama Hills, Aspen Woods and the Beltline.


The Census also is showing significant construction and growth is happening in the inner city and not just in the suburbs. Calgary is clearly changing and adjusting to new home demand patterns.

For all your real estate needs please contact me at or 403.850.2446.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

If your smoke detector is more than 10 years old, it may not work.

When you test your smoke detector it may beep but it may longer be able to detect smoke in your home if it is more than 10 years old.

At almost every home inspection, I hear the inspector advise buyers to swap out the smoke detectors. In many cases they are beyond their useful date, but owners don't realize that they are no longer functioning.  It also advised that owners replace the old smoke detectors with a smoke/carbon monoxide detector. 
Having a smoke detector or smoke alarm can save your life or help you avoid serious injury. Many injuries in fires are a result of smoke alone.
Top tips:
  • Test all smoke alarms in your home once a month by pressing the alarm’s test button and replace the batteries of each smoke alarm at least once a year. Do not use rechargeable batteries.
  • Replace smoke alarms after 10 years.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Buying in Calgary's Hot Real Estate Market

The Calgary real estate market is undeniably strong right now. The summer heat will slow things down a touch, but the fundamentals of a strong market continue. This poses a challenge for a few reasons.


1. Trying to buy a home before you sell a home is very difficult unless financially you can carry both. The 'subject to sale' clause is typically a non-starter these days especially in the more popular price points or in high demand areas. Most folks will instead choose to sell with a long possession or find other means to make the buy/sell timelines work for them.


2. The timing - inventory turnover - is quick. Buyers that typically want to see many properties often find that a few on the list are sold before they even make it out to their car! Alternatively, sellers receive offers, but don't commit as they are hedging that a better offer may be just around the corner. Some buyers may wait it out but some may find the tactic 'not in good faith' and move on to another property so both the seller and prospective buyer lose.


The great thing about this market is that most properties do sell if priced appropriately and presented well. Saavy staging and a sound marketing strategy can fetch higher prices. Some sellers are clearly over pricing their homes and that always happens but that's where solid market advice is needed. There's a reason some homes are selling in the first 2 weeks and some are sitting 60-70 days with multiple price drops.


The 'interesting' thing that happens in this type of market is that homes sell with urgency and pace that otherwise wouldn't sell so easily in a slower market. People get hurried and forgo property inspections, condo reviews or other due diligence to get 'a deal'. The Alberta market is based on a concept of 'buyer beware'. The sellers only obligation is to disclose 'material latent defects'. They do not have to disclose any other issues with the property, stigma or any other items. So take a deep breath and then find that perfect property while still protecting yourself by the conditions and terms set out in the purchase contract and ask lots of questions.


That's what I'm here for so don't hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding the sale or purchase of your home.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Calgary Market Update - July 11 2014

June was a busy month in the Calgary real estate market with increased sales numbers and pricing adjustments that continue the upward trend. New listings are coming on market to ease things, but looking at the details it isn't having much impact on single family homes under $500,000. The high end market is seeing the most inventory but even then we are seeing record sales numbers. The details of the adjustments are in the CREB stats, but the general numbers won't tell you much other than the trend because there is just a real variant across the city and year to year comparisons are not an accurate reflection due to the June 2013 floods.


The one item that I wanted to point out especially to buyers is that the number of active listings is deceiving. In the past when a seller accepted a purchase contract, a listing would be marked 'under contract' or 'pending' on the system so we would know how many were actually available and how many were in the pending state before they were officially sold. Now a large number of properties are kept as 'active' even in the pending state.


For example, last weekend a client sent me 12 properties she wished to view. Once screened, only 3 were actually active. The same for other clients though it depends on price point and area how quickly properties are moving. I've been successful in helping clients secure properties right on listing recently and I don't think the listing was even on the public MLS system before it was under contract.


In terms of condos there seems to be more available and a large number of projects proposed in the last few weeks so there are going to be good opportunities for buyers if they are willing to wait on new construction. As always, ask lots of questions especially about condo documents and fees so you understand your long term cost.


CREB Stats Package

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Friday, June 27, 2014

New Listing - 2131 Edenwold Heights NW

Top floor, south facing 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit in Edgecliffe Estates in Edgemont. This unit is well located and close to transit, market mall, hospitals and amenities. This open concept layout includes a kitchen with wrap around counter, south facing living room with a gas fireplace and a dining area. The living room provides sliding doors to the balcony with rooftop city views. Walking down the hall the first bedroom is on the right with the laundry room and full bath on the left. Beyond is the second bedroom with walkthrough closet and ensuite bath with standing shower. The clubhouse offers great amenities including a pool, hot tub, steam room, large exercise room and party room with pool table. Ask about the investor pool and the unique onsite rental management program. Parking Stall 123 just outside the front door is assigned to this unit.


This complex is unique in that it has an onsite rental management company that manages onsite rental units for owners and manages all as part of a rental pool program.  Call direct for more information about the program.


Property Details for 2131 Edenwold Heights NW in Edgemont.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Just Listed. Open House Today: 206 Arbour Meadows Close NW

Open House today, Sat, June 21 from 2-4pm.


206 Arbour Meadows Close NW


This bright and spacious home in Arbour Lake offer 4 bedrooms, 3 ? bathrooms, a fully finished walkout basement, detached double garage and sunny south exposured deck and backyard. Excellent location within the community close to transit, the LRT, Crowfoot Shopping Centre, schools and more. The main level offers a warm living room, dining room and the kitchen and eating nook beyond. Maple cabinets surround the extended island in this bright kitchen. Upstairs the master bedroom is spacious with separate ensuite. Two additional bedrooms and full bath complete the upper level. The walkout basement offers a rec room, bedroom, full bath and laundry. Exceptionally maintained. Book your showing today.


Full property details and photos for 206 Arbour Meadows Close NW.

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