NW Calgary, especially along the LRT path, is a very popular and vibrant area of Calgary. From the inner city all the way to the newer communities in the NW, various apartment, townhouse, heritage home, infill, single family and estate home options exist.
The challenge comes in when folks look for new construction options as new construction is on hold in a number of communities. In 2013 the City of Calgary determined that the West Memorial Sanitary Trunk was at capacity and instituted new criteria for development until the Sanitary Trunk upgrade is completed in 2017.
So that means no new subdivisions, building permits or development permits other than regular basement developments, deck, et. Home owners looking to replace a single family dwelling with two single family dwellings, semi-attached dwelling (two units), one duplex (two units) are also not impacted.
Fully impacted communities include: Arbour Lake, Bowness, Canada Olympic Park, Crestmont, Greenwood/Greenbriar, Hawkwood, Ranchlands, Rocky Ridge, Royal Oak, Royal Vista, Scenic Acres, Silver Springs, Tuscany, Westview ASP Area, West Regional Context Study North Cell , Valley Ridge Partially impacted: Calgary West, Citadel , Dalhousie, Edgemont , Hamptons, North Regional Context Study (North RCS) Future Cell A, North Regional Context Study (North RCS) Future Cell B, Varsity
So with such a large area on hold it is no wonder that projects with open permits have completed and there is little left other than moving east to Nolan Hill, Sage Hill and Evanston which are currently growing quickly with many new construction options. As well, Watermark just west of Calgary also offers new luxury home options. There are a lot of new projects in planning waiting to move forward so it will be curious to see how they all roll out.
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.
Over 50 amendments to the Act are proposed which impact various aspects of managing condo disputes, documentation provided by builders, qualifications of condo managers, increasing standards of practice and improved governance for condo corporations. Specific changes outline protections for buyers, current owners and occupants.
The changes are welcome news and should serve to ease concerns in buyers minds when they buy a condo, both new and resale. Increased disclosure requirements and higher standards of practice for condo managers will help buyers and owners understand how a property is being managed. As well, owners have more confidence that their homes and investments are being well run with more transparency when issues do arise.
Approximately 20% of properties in Alberta are now sold as condos. They are not just apartments either. There are bareland condo styles for single family homes that share a common road, amenities or maintenance as well as townhouses, villas and apartments which are more traditionally thought of as conventional condos.
A condominium is not a property type, but rather a type of ownership where owners share a proportion of ownership of common property. Owners have the benefit of common items such as hallways, roads, elevators, roofs, lobbies, exercise rooms or even insurance and landscaping or other maintenance. Owners then also pay their proportion of costs and maintenance for those items.
When issues arise disputes would be managed under the new condominium dispute tribunal which will allow condo owners and boards to manage disputes outside of attending in court. Bill 13 is expected to pass by June with implementation soon to follow.
I'm personally happy to see the items that increase transparency for buyers and owners and required licensing for managers. As well, a specific note that the Act speaks to increased penalties for “particularly unfair actions by developers" caught my attention. In representing both buyers and sellers, I've heard the concerns and seen the outcomes when properties haven't been well built or managed and owners are left unaware. Looking forward to seeing the positive change brought forth by the legislation.
A new family moves to Calgary and innocently asks, "What are the best schools in the city and what is available to purchase within walking distance." The answer is a long one and it usually starts with 'It depends...."
Schools. One of the most important criteria for some families when choosing a community or property to call home.
Sometimes it is parents looking for a specific program or philosophy and sometimes it is all about the logistics of getting our children to school and home safely while still working or attending to our other activities.
It used to be easier I am told. Children in a community would go to the school in that community, often within walking distance. Some communities had before and after school care. It's not that easy now.
In some communities the choice to attend the local designated school is thwarted by full enrollments, alternate school assignments, bus schedules and lotteries for school space. Parents are scrambling to find before and after school care or changing their plans regarding work and availability.
Some inner city locations have low enrollments while outlying areas are bursting at the seams. The current baby boom, Calgary's large growth numbers, funding and timeliness of construction of new infrastructure all contribute. Affordability of housing, access to backyards and playgrounds, parks and amenities fuels the move within the city as well.
Recently the province announced more schools in 2013 with $1.4B allocated over 3 years to school capital projects. I'll leave the 'how can you build that many schools so fast given the shortage of folks to build them' to someone else and instead say, "That's great. What's the plan for the when and where?"
Calgary Board of Education schools and Calgary Catholic schools also offer french immersion, language schools and specialized programs on top of everything else. Charter schools enter the mix providing unique learning opportunities geared towards various streams including science, arts, girls only, academics, inquiry based and others. Charter schools are unique to Alberta and the waitlists are huge so they must be doing something right. On top of that are the private schools adding another layer of option.
So as you are looking at new homes, you need to remember that just because you see a school doesn't mean your children can attend. It's kinda nutty given the perceived options. Research is critical if schools are a top priority.
I should have listened to my neighbour and enrolled my kids when they were born.
Are you new to Calgary or maybe getting ready to explore an area of the City of Calgary you haven't visited before?
The recent events have made many folks realize there are amazing parts of our city that they haven't explored or new locations you may wish to call home.
Plan a trip via bike, transit, LRT, your car or your feet to get you started on your adventure. As well, there are many resources to help you explore your city online before you venture out. Have you ever checked out Walkscore in planning your next move or checked out a property Birds Eye View to see things from another angle?
The calls over the last few days have been with clients that are shortly closing on their purchase/sale or those that have questions as they figure out their next steps.
In the short term, those owners that are transferring property in unaffected areas will see some issues or delays as the City of Calgary development and Land Titles are closed. A real property report (RPR) cannot currently get a stamp of compliance and Land Titles is being done through Edmonton. You should contact your lawyer to see how your particular sale or purchase will be affected but most will close though some paperwork may be delayed.
For those transactions in evacuated or damaged areas, you need to contact your lawyer. Every situation is different and legal guidance is required. If your law office is closed, leave a message as most are trying to check on clients even if they cannot access their offices.
The market continues and homes are still being sold and purchased. Please consider road closures and updated news when making plans.
Moving forward, those homes that were evacuated will be sold at some point in the future, be that in 1 year or 30. Take photos of your home, especially if it is in an evacuated area but you had no damage, taking stock of what was saved as well as what was damaged. It's hard to remember while trudging through mud, but taking stock of repairs and keeping photos, receipts and a diary of events may help you in the future. For condo owners, contact your property management company and understand what information will be available in condo documents for future owners.
If you are considering a purchase of a damaged property in the short term, before homes are repaired and insurance and relief funds are understood, careful due diligence is required and most likely specific contract conditions and legal assistance will be needed.
If you feel lost and need assistance, please reach out and ask for help. The City of Calgary has opened 9 Support Centres today (June 26). Please go and ask for help at one of the 9 centres. Locations: http://www.cocnmp.com/eoc/community-support-centres.pdf or call 311 for assistance.
We are still in a state of emergency and it isn't business as usual. In terms of real estate and time sensitive items, get the professional assistance you need.
Some folks are at the edge of their patience and under great stress. Businesses need your support so please buy local, support local services and sign up at yyhelps.ca with any special skills if you can.
A contribution from every sale I makes goes towards the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation and I am proud to be on the top 10% donor list for 2011. It is amazing to see that so many names comprise the donors list showing how many people contributed to set the new record.
April 5, 2012 – The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is thrilled to announce its fundraising results for 2011: a record-setting $2 million was raised to support women’s shelters and to help stop family violence in Canada. Royal LePage is the only Canadian real estate company with its own charity, empowering sales representatives to make a tangible difference in their local community and across the country. Now in its 14th year, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation supports 200 shelters across Canada, helping more than 30,000 women and children every year. It's also committed to funding violence prevention and education programs for youth.
Since its inception, the Shelter Foundation has raised more than $14 million with the support of generous Royal LePage agents, brokers, managers and staff, along with members of the communities in which they live and work and local and national sponsors. Since Royal LePage covers the administrative costs of the Shelter Foundation, 100% of the funds raised goes toward the cause.
2011 is the first year that that over 400,000 baby boomers a year turn 65. The impact of this shift will be far reaching. Although Calgary is a young city in comparison to others we will also see an impact.
I am already working with a few folks reaching retirement that are looking to downsize from large family homes to something that suits their future needs. The hard part is defining what that looks like. Not everyone is ready to go from 2400+ sq feet in a private residence to a 900 sq ft condo. In fact, many are actively looking to keep a private residence, but maybe one where the snow is cleared or there is a greater sense of community and access to amenities. Commute to work is no longer a priority, but a short trip to visit grandchildren is now high on the list. Homes need to be of quality construction as that is what these folks are used to and would accept nothing less. Homes also have to be designed for being home all day and provide the light, appropriate layout and access to make day to day living comfortable. This package in the right price point is not something that is in vast numbers on market.
The other side of the coin is that I am seeing more families looking for homes that can accommodate both their children as well as their own parent(s). Whether due to health reasons, childcare or economics, more families are looking at options as they begin to care both for their children and their parents. The sandwich generation is growing too.
While some folks are looking to specialize in working with an older demographic, I don't see it all too different. It is still providing exceptional service to help folks figure out what they need and introduce them to what is available on market. It is being honest about the current value of their home so they can make productive decisions and working with them to prepare in a way that makes the transition easier. Whether it is taking the time to downsize belongings first, identifying required upgrades, finding just the right new home or even working with family to connect folks with the right experts to manage family affairs, it is all part of the process.
A thought to builders and designers: If you are building beautiful bungalows and villas, consider parking and stairs. I have had a number of folks turn their backs on new construction because access wasn't well considered. This is Calgary after all. And don't forget that these folks may have downsized, but they now have their family and grandchildren to host for dinner. While many folks no longer prize a large dining room, many baby boomers focus on family and hosting those they love. They want to enjoy a meal without seeing the dishes. :)
If you or your family are looking for your new home, give me a call. I am happy to help.
The Snow Route Parking Ban is in effect this year throughout the city so it is a great idea to check out the maps and rules so you can be prepared. It will kick in once a 'snow event' is triggered when over 5 cm of snow has fallen.
If you are looking to purchase a home, it is worth a look to see if a prospective home is on the route. The routes may change, but some folks may see the routes as a big positive or negative. You do have to move your vehicle off the road, but you will be on a cleared road and able to get out of your street after a snow event.
The best direct resource is the City of Calgary website which will have all of the latest info, link to an online map of all routes which I can't link to directly. Also check out the Road Conditions Map (SNIC) which shows up to date info across the city. Should mobility be an issue, Handicap snow route exceptions can be requested with the city.
In letters sent to parents today from the Calgary Board of Education, two local schools have announced opening dates.
Tuscany Middle School (not yet officially named) will open to Tuscany Grade 4-8 students in September 2012.
As well, the attendance area for the new NW High School opening in 2013 has been announced. Located at 8777 Nose Hill Drive N.W., the new school will accommodate students from Arbour Lake, Citadel, Scenic Acres, Hawkwood, Ranchlands, Rocky Ridge and Royal Oak.
Construction has started on the pedestrian bridge between Tuscany and Scenic Acres. Throughout June to September the area may be closed at times in the off-leash area to keep everyone safe as the work continues. For hours of construction, the project plans and renderings visting the City of Caglary site.
Great to see this project moving forward to allow easier access for folks walking and biking to the Crowfoot LRT or to the general pathway system.
The City of Calgary announced a new public and internal engagement program for the combined facilitated review of core services the The City's business planning and budget process.
From the announcement:
The project is being called - Our City. Our Budget. Our Future. It is the first of its size and scope for Calgary. The process includes plans to involve citizens, employees and Council in three phases over the next four months.
We need to hear from as many Calgarians as possible. What City services do they value? What are their priorities? What is the best way to allocate the money available? What would they put in The City's budget? What trade-offs are they prepared to make to create the future we all want?
All the input will be given to Council and Administration in June and will be considered in the development of the business plans and budgets for the next three years. Setting priorities for the 2012-2014 budget is the first step in shaping a sustainable future for Calgary.
Community Workshops will kick off the project beginning February 23 and EVERYONE is welcome. These sessions will be asking participants to provide input on the engagement process, identify values and interests related to engagement and help identify measures for success. Choose a time and location that works for you.
I wasn't sure if I would post this one. I've been brewing on it for days.
It started a few weeks ago, I was driving into Tuscany and noticed way too many vehicles parked along Tusslewood Blvd. A few of them had city logos on the side. A few days later a crew was out digging out and working on the electrical box on the block. They were there for a few days. There are often lots of crews around doing maintenance, basement development or renovations on homes, etc but this was all a bit out of place.
A week or two later I was on the City of Calgary website and there was 2A Tusslewood Drive on the grow op list, recently added for 2011. The home was listed for sale just months before with photos and presentation that showed what kind of home it was. Stark difference to the Executive Officer's Order posted on the City website.
I have no idea what happened to this home, or who the owners were or who was involved. I do know there are loads and loads of small children in these outlying suburban communities, particularly in Tuscany. To know that this scale of grow op was amongst them angers many, and sent a couple locals parents I was talking to into quite the tirade.
There have been others in the past. There is a former grow-op up for sale in Tuscany right now that has a public notice.
The worry for most folks are all the ones that don't get caught, the homes that are covered up with a paint job and some new carpet and sold as any other home. How do you find those? There are some things to look for specifically in electrical, repaired holes in foundation walls or basement ceilings (if unfinished) as well as evidence of mould. A good home inspector knows what to look for. A parent I was talking to also had another concern. What if you buy a home like this and some 'not so nice' folks come knocking at 2 am a few weeks/months later not realizing the sale.
How do we stop this? Talk to your neighbours. If you think something is going on call the Police. Review the info below for information on what to look for and the risks involved.
It will be March and you will be itching to play some golf, tell some tales and earn some bragging rights.
No better option than the evening of Thursday, March 10th, 2011. The 4th annual Royal LePage Foothills Shelter Foundation Charity Golf Skills Challenge is your change to challenge for longest drive and closest to the pin contests in Par 3, chipping and putting.
At just $65 per ticket you can challenge your friends and get out for a fun evening in support of a great cause.
$65 Includes: • complimentary beverage and snacks • unlimited warm-up on driving range • 6 attempts at any of the skill challenges • door prizes (must be in attendance to win)
Package of 5 mulligans available for $20!
For tickets contact: Monika Furtado Royal LePage Foothills Office: 403 288 1554 Cell: 403 850 2446
And if you have to plan a trip to Palm Springs or Pheonix or any other such place to practice up a bit....
The three brand new ice rinks at Canada Olympic Park (COP) are now Open!
These great new facilities will host events, games and ice times to inspire many community kids to get active, to engage in sport and dream big. Canada Minor hockey, ringette, hockey and figure skating as well as sledge hockey will use this facility.
Movember, the days of folks growing a funky moustache to raise awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer Canada, are almost over. You have to wonder if everyone knows about Movember or are just perplexed why so many moustaches have suddenly appeared.
My husband and his team have been wearing their moustaches proudly all month and the team photo will definetly be worth a chuckle. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the team to date. So far they have raised over $1450!
If you haven't had a chance to donate yet, but want to contribute, please go to http://ca.movember.com/ and click 'Donate' and then search for Glen Furtado or team 'TI-LRT Division'.
All funds raised go directly to Prostate Cancer Canada.