As my clients know, I am a strong believer in preparing a home for sale. Below is some great advice from Elysse Bulloch from Simply Stylish Staging about staging for the holidays. 
Staging for the Holidays
Christmas is fast approaching the weather is cooling off and the snow is falling.  Don’t let Christmas get in the way of selling your home. This time of year tends to bring out the serious buyer and also tends to be a less competitive time of year. Follow these holiday staging tips below.
Choose holiday decor carefully, sellers need to be careful not to overdo it. Christmas trees can take up a lot of space. If you have a smaller home stay away from the tree this year.  Choose a color scheme  that is the same as the rest of the house or pick decorating with a neutral colour scheme, so buyer do not get distracted.  Choose decorations that are a general winter theme rather than religious pieces this way you are still appealing to a wide buying audience.
You need to remember when selling your home less is more. You don’t want your home to feel crowded. By using less, it will make the space seem bigger. Pick a few of your favorite decorations that match your current color scheme or try to stick to neutral colors. Garland and clear glass ornaments work well.
Curb appeal can be tricky in Calgary’s cold snowy winter months. Add a decorative planter to your drive way or front door for a punch of warmth. Also be sure to shovel your sidewalks and turn on interior and exterior lights. Buyers will feel welcomed from the minute they pull up.
Beware that Christmas does not appeal to everybody but the holiday season tends to attract serious buyers that want to be settled in their new place by the beginning of the year.
Thanks Elysse! Merry Christmas.
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CMHC released the Rental Market Report for Calgary a couple of days ago and a review shows significant drops in vacancy rates across the board. While prices are showing just marginal increases, they are sure to follow soon given the current trends.
The fall rental market survey of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. shows the city's apartment vacancy rate decreased to 1.9 per cent in October compared with 3.6 per cent in October 2011.

What is fueling this change? Increased demand.
With an increase in migration to Calgary and Alberta in general, available inventory has been reduced. This is even in spite of new projects coming on line. 

The changes to mortgage and lending rules last year may have also resulted in less new inventory coming to market. While a majority of large investors weren't affected, there is a significant group that has had to shift their investment patters.
What does this mean to you? If you are renting, prepare for a potential rate increase this coming year or more competition for available units.  It may also be a signal that the resale home market is also about to see a positive shift.
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The November 2011 CREB Market stats were officially released yesterday to no great surprise. Things are chugging along with no large scale changes from the past few months. There was an increase in November sales to last year by 8% along with a 2% reduction in listings compared to last year, but although it is great to see those numbers moving in the right direction we remain at overall flat pricing compared to last year as well as overall slower market when looking at our 10 year average. Condos are also starting to see a growth trend. If this trend continues we will slowly start to see lower inventory levels with prices increasing. 
The future predictions for the market are all over the papers, economic reports and such and the vast majority are calling for a strengthening market with prices beginning to move up in either 2012 or 2013.  Timing and strength of change will depend in part on international factors. We won't know a shift has happened until the numbers are in and then it has already passed so timing the market will remain challenging as always. We aren't expecting huge sudden changes though so expect slow and steady shifts.

There are a few items of note from various investment and economic folks out there. The rental market has seen a change with a decrease in vacancies and the beginning of price increases. While people are taking longer to purchase right now, they are moving to Calgary and often look to rentals before purchasing. The changes to mortgage requirements for investors may be resulting in fewer investment properties coming on market and therefore renters may be in more competition for prime units. Our labour market numbers are good and Calgary again is a bright spot on the map.  As rental prices increase and interest rates remain at very low marks, we will begin to see folks running their numbers and looking to invest in a home instead. 

As always, feel free to contact me anytime to assist you with your sale or purchase.
Numbers of Note:
Calgary, December 1, 2011 – According to figures released today by CREB® (Calgary Real Estate Board), Calgary residential sales in November increased eight per cent over last year, at 17,538 after the first 11 months of the year.
While sales activity tends to taper off in the winter months, so far this year Calgary area sales remain significantly stronger than levels recorded last year. Single family home sales totaled 962 for the month, an increase of eight per cent from November 2010. Meanwhile, year-to-date sales totaled 12,464, a 10 per cent increase over last year. Over the long term, however, sales remained a tepid 17 per cent below the 10 year average.
November listings have edged down over last year’s levels, decreasing by two per cent. Lower listings combined with the increase in sales helped reduce the months of inventory to less than four months.
The year-to-date average and median price of single family homes were a respective $467,140 and $406,500. Overall, prices remain relatively flat compared to last year.
Condominium sales for the first 11 months of the year totaled 5,074, a five per cent rise over the same period last year. Inventory levels declined to 1,676 units, helping push down the months of supply. 
“The rise in condominium sales can be attributed to the confidence in the market, and is typical of this phase of a normal market recovery,” says Stante.
Condominium year-to-date average and median prices in 2011 were $287,545 and $261,500, respectively, a decline over the first 11 months of 2010, mostly due to increased sales in units priced under $200,000.

Full CREB Statistics Package

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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.

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