For some time now I’ve been cautioning my clients on saying too much when viewing homes. In the past I’ve noticed the little red light on the open laptop or the nanny cam and my clients and I would nod at each other, stop talking and move along. However, these days recordings are becoming so common that it is changing the way we view properties for sale all together.
Ask a few different folks and you will hear different opinions on whether or not a seller can legally record a buyer in their home.
Can a seller record audio and video of showings? I don’t know. I still think technically you can’t, but we have to wait for someone to sue someone to find out for sure.
There is a distinction between audio and video and also a distinction between watching a live stream and a recording. I am not even going to attempt to get into the legalities of these, but sellers should really think consciously about whether or not they will watch or record audio and video of showings and if they will disclose that they are doing so.
In the meantime, know that you and I are most likely being recorded when viewing a home.
If we walk up to a home with a doorbell camera and I ring the bell I expect to be recorded. Yes, I do, but for a short period of time and only in that location. I also expect the home’s security system to capture which doors were opened and when.
I used to not expect a recording device that looks like a phone charger to capture audio and video of us discussing the kitchen design. Yet, I have seen them more and more now that I have learned to recognize them. Also, I know that I have been recorded at times I wasn’t aware that a recording device was in play. How? Well, the seller’s didn’t appreciate my commentary on the installation of their DIY floors it seems.
From the seller’s perspective the logic makes sense. Recordings allow sellers to manage security of their home. Eavesdropping allows them to find out that folks really, really hate the blue shag carpet.
But what about when a buyer says something that would affect their negotiating power. What about something said in confidence to a spouse at a time they felt they were having a private conversation. What if the recording catches personal information that has nothing to do with the property sold, a phone call with another party, or a private conversation between parent and child?
What if the seller was to publish these videos?
So from this day forward we can’t chat about a house inside the house because we are being watched. It is such a downer. When folks realize they are being watched they shut down, they stop engaging and they withdraw. Those emotions are not good for a showing, for connecting with a property and falling in love with a new home. Yes, in the summer we take those conversations outside and the cameras will catch us chatting on the front driveway for a few minutes. In the winter, we will hop into our cars and head off to another house.
There are exceptions. I have a couple buyers that love the recording antics. They tell stories, make funny remarks and have fun with it. I don’t think it’s helping the sales process, but it sure does lighten the mood.
As the snow starts to melt and the sunshine makes us dream of patio weather, please take a few moments to check your property.
1. Check that your sump pump is working if you have one.
2. Check downspouts are running water away from your foundation and shovel any snow blocking exhaust vents or window wells.
3. Do a basement walkthrough and check for any water at windows or venting access points.
I've been reviewing the February numbers and checking in on March numbers so far. Sales are down compared to last year in a substantial way. However, our median and average prices are higher than last year. As well, more million dollar plus listings are selling.
So why the change?
It is very easy to blame a lot of the adjustment on the new mortgage rules that came into effect in January. It is an easy mark as other major markets across the country have seen the same trend.
The other factor may be the weather. It is only committed buyers that make the effort to shop for homes with record snowfall and winter storms. Given other economic indicators are showing positive signs, it is going to be a time when it is important to understand the impact on your specific home and situation.
The market is adjusting across the city but not evenly. Apartments continue to be challenged by over supply in most areas. The west side and city centre are posting the strongest numbers for detached homes year to year and overall detached home absorption numbers show 3.74 months of supply. We will see what the balance adjusts to once the snow melts and the spring market begins.
Hopewell is currently in the planning phase to develop the remaining lands along Arbour Lake Rd into a new residential area. An updated plan was recently submitted to the City of Calgary for consideration. The "Aurica Hawkwood' homestead is named after the long time previous resident of the land.
Curious about what is being built?
Fully built out the area is expected to provide approximately 890 units and be home to 2200 residents.
Information by the Developer - Hopewell's Arbour Lake Development
City of Calgary - Arbour Lake Engage Information
As we move into 2018 and the spring market home owners looks to statistics and numbers to evaluate the value of their home. We look at various numbers such as list to sale ratios, absorption rates and comparable sales on MLS. These numbers are very valuable and provide insight into the activity and demand in a particular areas of the city.
However, we must also look to numbers outside of the MLS system.
Especially in new communities where resale homes are competing with new construction, we have to look beyond the MLS. New home sales data is generally not available to the public.
Last week the OWL, written by the ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team, published an article titled 'More Evidence of a Residential Construction Slowdown'.
In Relation to Calgary specifically the article stated:
That indicator is the number of completed, but unabsorbed houses in our province. In Calgary, 635 new homes sat vacant with no binding agreement made to buy or sell at the end of last year. As of December, vacant housing in Calgary was 19 per cent higher than during the same month a year earlier. In fact, December’s total reached the second highest level of vacant housing of 2017 since December 2011. What’s more is that inventory rose at an average rate of 22 per cent last year.
When buying and selling homes in areas that compete with new home construction, consider all competitive options in your review. A visit to the local showhomes never hurts to get a better understanding of the options buyers have in your price category.
An item to consider when preparing your home for sale is a pre-sale home inspection.
Especially in a market where buyer's have the advantage, it can be difficult for sellers when an inspection deficiency is discovered. I often recommend a pre-sale home inspection for older properties. The pre-sale inspection can be a whole home inspection or a targeted inspection such as a roof report.
If you are budgeting for some repairs and improvements, the inspection can help you target your efforts.
Should the home inspection show no major issues, it can be provided to prospective buyers as part of the pre-review process which could potentially help the sale process.
Should issues arise, you can address them BEFORE you have an offer on the table or else give you time to get quotes for repairs that can be provided to prospective buyers.
Review your appliances. The sale documents currently include the following detail: "The seller represents and warrants that on Completion Day, the property will be in substantially the same condition as when this contract was accepted and the attached and unattached goods will be in normal working order."
Arrange for your furnace to be serviced by a qualified professional.
Gather together the warranty information for your home and appliances including the roof, furnace and hot water tank. If items remain under transferrable warranty to the new buyer, the additional warranty may be percieved positively by a buyer.
First time home buyers often do not have extra funds for repairs and may not have knowledge about what is required to repair various issues. Depending on your target buyer, a small investment in repairs may reduce time on market and result in a higher sale price than the cost of the repairs.
If you are planning to sell your home and wish to meet for a pre-sale consultation just give me a call at 403 850 2446. I am happy to help.
In recent years there has been more information available about Radon and recent changes to the Alberta Building Code regarding Radon have brought Radon mitigation to our minds when considering a home purchase. If you are looking at newly constructed homes you may have even noticed the mitigation rough-ins in the basements.
What is Radon?
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas in the soil produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil. It is colourless, odourless and tasteless. If radon accumulates in a home it can pose a serious health risk. Radon is a leading environmental cause of lung cancer.
Radon can enter a home via cracks or openings in the basement envelope and can vary house to house. Due to newer air tight construction, it is important to consider Radon.
How do you Test for Radon?
Radon can be tested by a professional or via an at-home kit. Health Canada recommends a minimum 3 month test preferably in the fall or winter (October to April) months for the best accuracy. The cost around $50 plus shipping from the companies I have looked at.
Changes in the Alberta Building Code
As of Jan 1, 2015 home construction has changed to mitigate the risks of Radon in a home. Should you be purchasing new construction, ask your builder about the construction changes, any testing done and mitigation options.
High Radon levels and the Sale/Purchase of a Home
Due to the testing length, a test for radon isn't a test that can be completed during the typical condition period for the purchase of a home. High radon levels can be considered a material latent defect to be disclosed to buyers if the seller is aware of the issue and the issue has not been mitigated. Should you know of high levels of Radon in your home please consult a lawyer prior to listing your home for sale.
RECA Article: I've recently started hearing reports about radon in Alberta homes. If I’m buying a home in Alberta, is it something I should be concerned about?
Cross Canada Survey of Radon Concentration in Homes-Final Report
Radon Reduction Guide for Canadians
There is a distinct difference between preparing for the sale of your home and renovating to sell your home.
I strongly believe you should absolutely prepare and stage your home. This includes de-cluttering, arranging furniture and belongings to highlight the home layout, cleaning and cleaning some more and making required small repairs to ensure any required items are in working order.
Renovations are larger scale improvements and include anything from painting to replacing kitchens, roofs, updating landscaping and more. Before setting out on a renovation project there a few things to consider.
1. Inspection Issues. If there is a deficiency that will result in a purchaser walking away from the purchase then it is best addressed prior to listing. Items of disrepair or safety issues should be reviewed independently of aesthetic improvements.
2. Value. Harrison Bowker, Real Estate Appraisers, recently published the Home Renovation Value Guide for 2017. Harrison Bowker is a full-service appraisal company based in Edmonton and serves all of Alberta so I have confidence these numbers reflect our market.
A popular example is the kitchen. A kitchen renovation is considered to have the best return on investment when considering functionality.
The % return for an average quality kitchen is 75-95% and a high quality kitchen is 40-60%.
Please note the numbers reflect renovations completed by qualified professionals.
3. Speed of Sale. Some renovations increase the speed of sale. Recent examples I've seen recently include painting and garage construction.
* Buyers make big decisions based on paint colour. I personally believe a home freshly painted in neutral colours will sell faster than a home with strong or dark colour statements. The % return on interior painting is 80-110%.
* Many first time buyers purchase homes with detached garages on the back lane. In my experience many families prefer to have the garage constructed and included in the purchase price/mortgage. As most families have put the majority of their savings into the down payment they often don't have the $20,000 to then build a garage post purchase. The % return on a typical 24'x24' detached garage (heated, insulted, slab) is 60-80%.
4. Market Timing. Various communities in Calgary have seasonal sales cycles. For example, strong family neighbourhoods such as Tuscany tend to see increased sales in the spring time and move dates that avoid disruptions to school enrollment. If you are considering a sale with a renovation consider timing to ensure your completion is best timed with the market cycles.
Should you wish to review a copy of the Home Renovation Guide and plan your potential renovations to sell, please contact me.
New mortgage rule changes coming into effect. This is a new one effective Jan 1, 2018.
The official info - Official release from Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) - Government of Canada
I tried reading the detailed guideline but went cross-eyed on the fine print so I thought you might feel the same and want some cole's notes. As I'm not a mortgage broker nor do I pretend to crunch numbers like one, I asked my trusted mortgage broker, Jason Dodd from First Foundation to give me a hand.
1.) What this means across the board is that your purchasing power is decreasing by about 20%. ( Previously this only applied to insured mortgages. Now it applies to everyone as of Jan 1, 2018.)
Your qualification is no longer based on the lending rate provided to you. It is now based on a government prescribed rate. If you want a 3% mortgage, for example, you'll need to qualify at the Bank of Canada benchmark rate, currently 4.89%, or contract rate + 2%, whichever is HIGHER. Right now some of those 2% rates on 5 year are higher than the National Qualifying Rate.
2) Your qualifications may fluctuate across areas of the country and be adjusted in 'soft or softening markets.
OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions - Government of Canada) is going to "require" lenders to have more "dynamic" Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratios. Presumably this means that lenders will have to require more money down from buyers in markets that are soft or softening. This could dramatically impact first time buyers who usually can qualify with 5% down. Now the government may determine what's "reasonable" for any given market. In the past lenders were able to make these decisions for themselves.
3) Having multiple mortgages will be calculated differently. This will impact those purchasing a home or refinancing a home with more than one mortgage.
OSFI will ban the practice of combining a first mortgage and second mortgage to a LTV above 80% and marketing the effective blended rate (which is true and accurate as a weighted average, BTW) because they feel that it circumvents the 80% LTV limit. What OSFI doesn't explain here is that nothing will change except the consumer will be more confused than ever. Instead of presenting one rate, the lender(s) will have to present two rates, two payments, and two loan-to-values. This increases complexity and confusion.
These changes are important to both buyers and sellers.
For buyers, these changes will significantly impact your purchasing power as of Jan 1, 2018. I have heard that any purchase contracts FIRM prior to this date will follow current rules, but that isn't in stone and can change. You are best to double check with your mortgage broker. Anything after this date is bound by the new rules. If you are purchasing pre-construction check with your lender.
For sellers, the pool of buyers for your home will be changing and it is important to review the details as you plan your sale.
As always, if you have questions regarding your purchase or sale, give me a call anytime directly at 403 850 2446 to arrange a confidential buyer or seller consultation.
Over the years I have been thankful for the opportunity to assist many families in downsizing or adjusting property styles either for themselves or their parents. This move, the move away from a long term family home, can be due to a wish to live a more maintenance free lifestyle, a move to a move accessible home style or layout and often a financial decision as part of retirement planning. The process of downsizing in furniture, belongings and accepting change can take some time.
As folks review options it is also worth a strong look at what can be done for families in their current home as they prepare for a move. Whether adjusting design or assisting with short term financial needs, there are support services out there.
Financial assistance options:
Calgary Property Tax Assistance Program - Structured to assist residential property owner experiencing financial hardship, regardless of age.
Alberta Housing Senior Property Tax Deferral - To assist with property tax deferral until a home is sold.
Chip Home Reverse Mortgage Options - See your local and trusted mortgage broker. Contact me if you need some local contacts.
Other Provincial Assistance Programs - These include the senior financial benefit for low-income seniors, dental and optical assistance program and special needs assistance.
Calgary Snow Removal Program - Community based
Home maintenance and adaption assistance:
Senior Services Home Maintenance - Funded by the City of Calgary. Seniors Services Home Maintenance helps low income seniors to live safely and securely in their own homes. The program provides these clients with basic yard care, snow removal, house cleaning, interior & exterior painting and minor repairs.
Senior Home Adaption and Repair Program - Funded by the Province. The Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program (SHARP) provides low-interest home equity loans to help seniors finance necessary repairs, adaptations and renovations to their homes. The loans are repaid when you move or sell your home with no monthly payments prior.
We well, families often rely on outside service providers for exterior maintenance, snow removal, landscaping, cleaning and such. Please contact me to join the CIR Realty Best My Nest Program to receive CIR Realty only discounts with many local providers for these and other home services.
Should you need some help with planning for such a move, please give me a call directly at 403 850 2446 to set up a complimentary seller's consultation.
Guest Post by Jason Dodd, Vice President, Verico Maximum Mortgages Inc.
Doing your research and talking to the right people can help you save thousands of dollars on your largest debt obligation, your mortgage. Surprisingly many clients are unaware of options, terms, rates and conditions that are attached to their mortgage financing. This summary will help with ideas on how to go about getting a mortgage and show you how to save money on your mortgage.
1) Consult multiple people/sources before deciding -
Many times it starts with your realtor making a recommendation for a broker or banker. The important part is to at least contact a couple people who deal in mortgage financing. Many people ask me why I would suggest this when I am trying to earn their business? Well I feel it is important for clients to experience the advice and expertise of more than one person before jumping into a large debt obligation. Mortgages are more than just rate, you need to understand the options, terms, rates and conditions which cumulate to give you a full mortgage package. Many clients are surprised at restrictions or high penalties that were not explained initially, that come back to cause high cost and aggravation in the back half of their mortgage term. Initially you should talk to and work with someone who can fully explain the process and the mortgage and is able to provide you with multiple options.
Knowledge is power and peace of mind when getting into a mortgage and home ownership. Many clients who are just comfortable with their bank are surprised to find out the large amount of good offerings that are available elsewhere in the market.
2) Utilize pre-payment options -
There is more to this than most people even consider and each client is very different. Many lenders offer varying degrees of pre-payment options and some are better suited to specific borrowers. This is a great discussion piece and you can literally save a lot of money by having the correct pre-payment options that align with your borrowing and home goals. This is why selection becomes important when deciding on a lender, if you just look at one option how will you know what is out there? By making small adjustments to monthly payments and choosing accelerated biweekly/weekly options you can dramatically reduce interest over the life of your loan. I find April is a great time to decide if you would like to make lump sum payments as spring is coming(home repairs) and also the tax man will either give or take away some money at that time. This might determine how much or little you can put towards your home.
Consider a mortgage of $400,000. 5 year fixed rate of 2.59% and monthly payments.
Your Monthly payment would be $1809.84 and you would pay $47753.89 in interest over the term and $60836.51 principal pay down.
Utilizing some pre payment options that are manageable can make a significant difference under the same scenario.
Changing payments to Bi Weekly accelerated $904.92. Applying a lump sum payment annually of $1200 (or increase payments $100 each month).
Interest is reduced to $46467.79 but you increase your principal pay down up to $77,171.82. A significant difference with making minor changes to your overall monthly budget.
3) Choose the correct term-
I have lost count over my 14 years in the industry of times I have seen clients aligned with incorrect terms. Discussing life changes, job movement, home ownership goals starts to uncover the best options for financing. 5 year fixed terms are popular because of stability and security (good points) but some clients are saddled with large penalties if they have to break early due to life changes or circumstance. Often this can be prevented by picking a shorter term or variable (closed or fixed) or open term that can accommodate more readily some uncertainty for future plans. This alone could save you thousands of dollars down the road if you anticipate some uncertainty of plans in the future. Good brokers will give you options on shorter terms as well as an option so you can consider them as well, certainly a worthy discussion.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions on various lenders and options and rates.
Happy to talk about this important subject
Regards, Jason Dodd, Vice President-Associate, Verico Maximum Mortgages Inc.
F: 403-451-1660, C: 403-815-0565, Jason@maxmort.ca, www.jasondodd.ca
As we enter the spring market on the start of what seems to be a strong upswing in our market, we are once again seeing more multiple offers on property. Surprised aren't you?
It is about inventory, numbers and affordability.
Considering the mortgage rule changes that came into effect in the fall of 2016 and the pricing in our market, it isn't surprising in the starter and mid size home detached home segment especially.
The mortgage rule changes reduced the buying power of anyone utilizing a mortgage with less than 20% of purchase price for a downpayment. Where previously folks utilized the bank rate for their mortgage for qualifying (example 2.79%), they now must qualify using a benchmark rate (4.64%) set by the Bank of Canada. This can reduce buying power up to 20% for some folks.
With most detached homes in our market starting in the $400,000s and quickly moving up from there, there is a large segment of folks looking in the pricing zone. When you line up typical incomes, mortgage approval ratings based on those incomes and the price of typical detached homes in our city, it is no small surprise that more folks are being squished into a smaller pricing zone than previously.
More buyers + less inventory = Multiple Offers
How do you stand out when putting forth an offer in competition?
As a seller you are looking for security of the transaction. Let us say Mr and Mrs Seller have a home for sale in NW Calgary for $450,000. It is in great shape, in a great community and presents well. After going on market they receive 4 offers. They are all somewhat similar. How do Mr and Mrs Seller choose? Their home is going to be conditionally sold for over a week waiting out someone completing their financing and completing a home inspection. Is it a strong offer from a prepared buyer or a buyer on a whim that hasn't done their due diligence?
The first place to review is financing. What is the amount each potential buyer is borrowing? It would seem someone with 5% downpayment is in a stronger financial position than someone with a 20% downpayment and more likely to complete their qualifications but is that true? What if they ar all purchasing with a 5-10% downpayment? As a seller's realtor, my first question to each buyer's realtor is if the buyers are pre-qualified to purchase. As a buyer it is your choice what you disclose. Do you think having a prepared letter confirming your preapproval from your lender could help you? I'd recommend having that in your back pocket. It might just be what wins the purchase when sellers are looking at 4 similar offers. Peace of mind can be worth a lot.
You may be tempted to simply exclude some conditions from your offer to win. I would highly discourage you from doing that. You never know what a home inspection could uncover on that 'great deal' or if your bank would withdraw a mortgage approval due to a unique history on a property. Win smart and be prepared instead. Having a great Realtor that knows how to negotiate a win helps too. Give me a call anytime. I am happy to answer your questions.
There are a number different property types and building types available for sale in Calgary and sometimes it gets confusing because names and terms changes over the years and they are also different area to area.
Below is a breakdown of the various options here in Calgary and the local terms used. There are others too but this captures the main ones. I hope it helps you narrow down your preferences and understand your options in the local real estate market. Any questions at all just contact me anytime.
Detached: This type of home is a free standing residential building where the exterior walls do not touch the adjoining property.
Attached: A home shares at least one common wall with another unit.
Semi-detached: A single dwelling built as one of a pair that share one common wall. These are sometimes called duplexes. These may be villa properties such as in a condo complex of 30-40 units where each is structured as a semi-detached villa.
Row: A single dwelling attached to each other by a common wall with more than two properties in the complex. These are what most folks consider as typical townhouse properties where most of the units share common walls The end units only share one wall but they form part of the larger building so all of these units are considered as Row.
Apartment: Whether high rise or low rise, apartments are typical buildings with common access and hallways.
So now you have decided which of the above may work for you.
Apartments are rather easy. They are either single level units or multi level units.
For attached and detached properties, the options are quite varied. Below is a visual from the RECA (Real Estate Council of Alberta) Measurement guidelines. A visual is the best way to understand some of the options especially various split level designs. The front door is on the left of these examples.
The one most often singled out is the Bungalow in terms of property searches is a Bungalow which is the local name for a single level property.
Please note that different property types are measured differently so please refer to the RMS Measurement Guidelines
for more information if you want to get into the details.
Did you know that any property type can be a condo? More on that next time.
The Renaissance Towers in Briar Hill are a unique and sought after address. Located at 1718 and 1726 14 Avenue NW, the two towers provide amenities, location and views like no other.
The adult only building is connected to the shopping centre below allowing residents to access groceries (Safeway) and many shops and amenities without ever stepping outdoors in the winter time. The towers are also located across the street from the Lions Park LRT station and easy access to city amenities.
Building amenities include on 24 hour on-site concierge and security which assist many residents with their building needs, parcel delivery, receiving guests and maintaining the security of the building. Underground titled parking as well as underground visitor parking are accessed off the beautiful entry. An onsite library, fitness room, games room, theater, guest suites, carwash and private roof top park are unique features as is the building and unit central air conditioning system.
Should you be wishing to sell your unit or wish to be notified of properties as soon as they are available just contact me at 403 850 2446.
Details, photos, location and available listings for the Renaissance Towers.
You staged your home for the listing photos, you cleaned places you never noticed before and you set out pillows, accessories and flowers to welcome buyers to your home.
Everything is perfect. Then everyone comes home from school, work and sports events and stuff appears as if by magic in every room.
Preparing for showings can sometimes cause folks angst as it is hard to keep everything 'perfect' all the time. How we show our homes isn't often how we live day to day especially if we have children and pets.
1. Prepack some unneeded items and ensure you have one spot in each room to put all that random stuff that shows up.
- Living room: Keep an empty ottoman or empty couple drawers in the living room. On non-showing days keep all the showing accessories in there. On showing days, put everything that's been left out in the living room in the ottoman. You'll find the remote that way when you get home.
- Children's room - toy trunk or storage bin under the bed
- Bathroom - storage bin under the sink or in the hall closet
- Kitchen - storage box in the pantry
- Office - keep all your personal papers locked away.
- Bedroom - empty drawer for laundry
2. Prepare a showing tidy kit for yourself in a carry container. Cleaning wipes, stainless steel wipes, duster, etc. for last minute cleaning as you walkthrough your home.
3. Keep an extra bag for baby items, toys, food, water or whatever you may need in the car just in case. That way you have an extra whatever-you-need on those days where timing doesn't go in your favour.
4. Have a plan of a few places to go during showings and options for folks to watch your pets.
5. Determine your showing cut off times and communicate them to your Realtor. It is very common for homes with children to end showings at a specific time like 7 or 8pm. That way you maintain your normal evening bed routines no matter the days events.
Short term staging and cleaning and you will soon be on your way to your new home. All the best!
The official numbers are out for November. I've been mulling them over before I sent out my update because things feel different than the numbers suggest.
November sales and pricing numbers were down. November was the first full month following implementation of the new lending rules and many people have been pondering the consequence of that change. The rules change has definitely slowed down the market.
While the effect of the new lending rules is supported by the data that does not tell the whole story. At the same time I am having a hard time finding good new detached home options for some clients. They could be hoping for lower prices still or maybe many sellers are just choosing not to list their homes resulting in lower inventories. There were 2680 detached homes on market November 2015, but only 2322 on the market November this year. As the holidays approach we expect the number of listings to continue to constrict until after the new year.
The trend is quite different for apartments where inventories remain higher on the resale market. Townhomes and semi-detached properties fluctuate in terms of supply / demand differences this year compared to last depending on the area of the city.
There have been more sales in the upper price and luxury price points this year than last. Perhaps some folks are recognizing the savings opportunity here. A 5% reduction on a $1,000,000 home is quite the savings if someone is moving from a $500,000 home. They would have sold their previous home for a bit less but overall enjoyed relative savings on the new purchase in this market.
Now, what's next is what is on the horizon? The approval of two major pipeline projects, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion and Enbridge's Line 3 replacement, has many ears perking up. Energy East is yet to be determined as is Keystone XL.
So time to look ahead with open eyes and prepare for 2017. It will take a bit of time for new projects to translate into jobs, but it is great to see positive news in our forecasts.
With that I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all, my amazing clients, for your continued support. Be it calls for information, a move, a referral or just to say hello, I feel touched that you turn to me with your real estate questions. I am always happy to help and happy to say hello. I''m always curious about your move, if you like your community, and how the family is doing.
I wish you all the very best in 2017. Keep in touch and feel free to contact me anytime.
When looking for a new home, an initial item many folks consider is the home size. On reviewing properties you will see the property measurement in sq ft or sq m, but you may not know what that number actually measures.
All properties measured for sale in Alberta must follow RMS (Residential Measurements Standard) as outlined by RECA (Real Estate Council Alberta). The current rules of the RMS came into effect in 2016.
The details of the measurement guidelines
provided by RECA are very specific so please direct any specific questions to your Realtor or RECA directly.
In a general sense there are some fundamental items to consider.
1. Below grade measurements are not included in the RMS. The 'floor space' measurements for a listing on realtor.ca
or other websites are above grade only even if it is a developed walkout or a split level below grade. The basement or below grade measurement is a separate figure.
2. Vaulted areas with no floor such as two storey open to below are excluded from measurements. Minimum ceiling heights are required in areas of sloped roofs and details surround the inclusion/exclusion of bay windows and other cantilevers.
3. Detached homes are measured using the exterior wall at the foundation.
4. Attached properties with a common wall such as half duplexes, villas, townhouses and apartments are measured based on interior walls (paint to paint) at floor level. (This means these properties show smaller than if the same property was detached.)
The most important item to consider is that RMS treats all property of the same type the same. If a property is not measured according to the RMS standard it makes it difficult to compare to other properties.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or for more information regarding the purchase or sale of your home.
I was out and about a week or so ago with some clients showing homes and we got into a conversation about shoes as they searched for a place to sit and tie their shoes after a showing. They commented on my shoes. My easy to slip on shoes.
We had an in-depth conversation about my shoes. Why? Because they are going to bring easy to put on shoes for our next showing appointment.
For those sellers listing their homes this winter season I'd ask you to consider shoes when preparing your home for showings.
- Many people have to tie their winter shoes. Please provide a place to sit if possible.
- If you ask people to take off their shoes, please keep the heat at a comfortable temperature.
- Buyers will track snow into your front foyer. Please provide a welcome mat to wipe our shoes and an entrance mat inside.
- A couple of years ago I almost broke my leg slipping on ice trying to reach a lockbox at the side of a property. It was cold, icy and dark. I wasn't happy when I hit the ground. Please ensure the lockbox for your property is located in a safe location.
- Please clear your sidewalks and driveway of snow and ice so potential buyers can safely access your property.
Thank you for considering your buyers shoes when presenting your home this winter season.
Last month I posted my update and the next day the new mortgage rules were announced, so I waited this month and today is a day after the USA election results.
While folks are in various states of happiness or concern regarding the results, the one positive takeaway is to note that Keystone may be back on the table and that is a great possibility for Alberta. Enough about that.
Locally, the October numbers were strong with sales returning to 'normal' levels. City wide sales increased nearly 16% over last year. Detached homes especially are going strong. However, at the same time prices have continued to edge downward. The price variance is highly dependent on price point, property type and location. Strongest sales remained in the lower priced detached markets. Meanwhile, high apartment inventory continues to impact this segment the most.
With some many large scale events on the horizon, I'm not going anywhere near a general prediction for our market. I can, however, give you prudent, detailed and realistic independent advice and information to help you guide your next decision. I've provided numerous past and future clients with market information recently and we have been able to plan their next steps to ensure their goals are met.
For those in the market for a new home, please ensure you speak to your lender and have a pre-approval ready to go. More sellers are requesting confirmation of financing as they review offers during this changing financing environment. If you aren't aware of the new rules and have an older approval please give your lender or me a call for more information and an approval update.
May the snow stay away another week!
Timing the market. It's what folks try and do. But you just don't know what's up or down until the curve forms. A curve may currently be forming in the detached sector. Detached homes are those that do not share walls with other properties. Garages can be attached or detached. Inventory numbers are lower than last year at this time and sales are ever so slowly trending up. Average prices and median prices are above this time last year.
From the Calgary Real Estate Board: "The segment of Calgary’s housing market with the greatest influence on the overall market is showing signs of pricing stability. The detached benchmark price totaled $503,400 in September, which is 3.3 per cent below last year, but the second consecutive month at this price level."
Attached properties are a bit mixed. Semi-detached homes (duplexes and those sharing one common wall) are becoming somewhat more stable. Row houses (sharing multiple shared walls such as townhouses) are still seeing some increased inventory numbers.
Apartment numbers are the ones that are seeing the continuing higher inventory numbers with eight months of inventory in the apartment sector.
With a shifting market the opportunities are presenting themselves. Investors ears should be perking up.
Running numbers in different communities yields quite different buyer or seller trends. For condo purchases, whether apartment or townhouse style, folks are looking first to those that have a lower risk of special assessments or condo fee increases. The complexes and residences that are well run, well maintained and of good construction are maintaining stronger prices than those that show risk due to a lack of reserve, unattended maintenance issues or unfunded projects.
There's also a trend I personally watch. It is the luxury sales market. It's kind of a hunch thing. These folks seem to be buying more real estate again.
Sales of detached homes over $1M
Jan 1 - Oct 3 2013 - 504
Jan 1 - Oct 3 2014 - 590
Jan 1 - Oct 3 2015 - 372
Jan 1 - Oct 3 2016 - 426
If you are watching the market to determine the right time to purchase your new home, get out that crystal ball. It may be getting interesting.
View the full CREB Statistics Package
Should you happen to hear a general real estate market number such as sales or price adjustments in the coming days please ignore it or view it as a very generic indicator. The market is currently segmented enough that an overall number tells us little about the value of individual properties.
Detached homes are in a more balanced environment due to reduced inventory numbers while attached and apartment listings continue to increase the imbalance between supply and demand leading to a strong buyer's market in some areas. Apartments are seeing a stronger impact on pricing and sales than other attached properties.
We live in a large city. At previous times when the market favoured the seller, higher pricing may have moved folks outside of their preferred neighbourhoods. Today, in a more balanced market, a buyer can find what they are looking for in preferred areas, housing types or those properties that have specific details. This is the market where that well kept home with a popular layout on a quiet street with beautiful manicured yard will sell well. However, those in less desirable locations or with less desirable finishes may take more time and see a lower price. As our market shifts any sellers entering the market must be willing to review market shifts regularly. To not adjust and expect results based on a market evaluation completed 2-3 months ago isn't a pathway to a successful sale.
So what does this mean to you?
As a seller, you must be provided with and understand the specific market information that relates to your home. If you are truly wishing to sell and not just test the market, then presentation and pricing are imperative. You must be flexible with showing times and keep your property clean and in good repair. It also takes patience. Average days on market for a sale of a detached home is currently 42 days. For apartments this number is 56 days. If you expect a sale in 10 days at list price then you need to review expectations of pricing to encourage more buyers. The number of folks looking for a new home at any given time remains the same. You can create incentive for more of those folks to look at your home with pricing or you can wait for more buyers to enter the market.
For a buyer, this is actually a good time to buy depending on what you are looking for. With more options you will find the right house that checks all the boxes at a good price. You can make decisions at your pace rather than the immediacy required during a hot sellers market. Where you may have only been able to purchase an apartment or townhouse in the past, a detached home may now be an option.
Calgary's real estate market has been and will continue to be a shifting market. Thousands of homes have sold this year in the city and some folks have done a great job of taking advantage of the opportunities.
For example, there are currently 78 detached homes active on market in NW Calgary under $500,000. 68 of such homes have sold in the last 30 days. That's a great opportunity for a seller to sell their home at expected market prices. Should that same family be in need of a large home in the $600,000-$800,000 zone they have 78 homes to choose from. They are however competing with less buyers as 29 of such homes have sold in the last 30 days.
For year to date numbers of detached homes, average price has actually increased from last year by 1.23%. Benchmark price has decreased by 3.27% and median price has decreased by 3.32%.
As always, contact me anytime for information specific to your needs. I am happy to help.