The Edmonton Real Estate Blog

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Buying a Home in Edmonton

Searching for a home in Edmonton has become a complicated matter. Values can fluctuate significantly just crossing the street. Looking for the right home can be stressful and frustrating. Much of the stress and frustration can be mitigated with preparation and the proper agent by your side. Ah you think no big deal... no agent needed. Then if I were you I'd click on by as I'll doubt you'll see any value in what I have to say.

It's more important today than ever to interview your buyers agent. In the past you could get lucky, today you're more likely to get somebody fresh out of real estate school who just isn't seasoned into the ebb and flow of how things work. After 17 years in the industry and involvement in numerous professional committees I'm still learning. The second choice could be the seasoned vet with bad habits. Stuck in yesterday and unable to acclimatize to the changing marketplace. Fortunately Edmonton has many professionals who have earned their stripes and continue to grow as professionals. Choosing an agent should be based more on personality fit and their abilities to service you - not just when things are going good but just in case there are problems. How prepared would they be if things went south? How well documented would their files be? Would they be the type of person you'd want as a witness in court on your behalf?

So once you've decided on who you'll use - and I hope you do this before you look at any properties - review any contracts you'll need to sign when it comes time to making and offer to purchase a property. Understanding these documents and your agent's role in the preparation of these documents will be key to a successful and smooth transaction.

If you select correctly your experience with your agent should be extremely enjoyable, educational and satisfying. If you select incorrectly just attend a course on real estate law because you may need to have a better understanding of it. The process of buying a home in Edmonton or any of the surrounding areas does not have to stressfully. Whether its your first home or not, your dream home or an investment. Take the time to choose your agent carefully they will end up representing you on one of the largest financial transactions of your life.


I hope you'll give us some consideration when you're looking for your next dream home, investment property, recreational property or first home. We are a family owned and operated real estate team who have been selling real estate in the Edmonton area since 1962.

You can find out more about us at http://www.realestate-edmonton.ca/About_Us/page_1120714.html

Or search all Edmonton listings on line without registering at http://www.edmonton-homes.ca

Friday, November 25, 2005

Western Canada Leads Country

A recent study from TD Canada Trust (Regional Economic Outlook, published October 31, 2005) shows Alberta and the rest of western Canada ahead of central and eastern Canada in most economic indicators.

"The sizzling demand for workers in the energy sector and other areas such as mining, construction, and transportation has pushed down the unemployment rate in AB, BC, and SK to the lowest levels on record. In an effort to address shortages and attract labour from elsewhere in Canada, firms in Western Canada have offered more generous wage hikes. As a result, personal disposable income growth is running at rates well above the rest of the country and little change in this picture is expected in 2006."

"The recent shift in in job market momentum and inter-provincial in-migration to the west has been reflected in differences in housing market activity. Along with P.E.I., BC and AB are the only provinces where housing starts for 2005 are likely to surpass last year's levels. In 2006, residential production is expected to ease in all regions, dampened by rising interest rates and continued erosion in affordability. Despite the broad based decline, we anticipate residential construction will cool off to a lesser degree in Western markets. In fact, on a per capita basis housing starts in AB and BC will remain the strongest. Mirroring these homebuidling trends, the BC and AB resale housing market are on track to outperform the rest of the country in 2005, with prices soaring by a double digit pace in most cities. Next year, we expect increases in average home prices to moderate even in these two leading provinces, although a further outperformance compared to the national-average gain of 4% seems to be a good bet."

The complete report is available on the TD Canada Trust website at www.tdcanadatrust.ca

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The truth about market share

Year after year agents with nothing to say about themselves boast about their companies market share. Not to pick on a certain company full of hot air, but they lead the way in advertising this form of bluff.

The truth is that there are agents with all kinds of companies that are competent, professional and worthy of your business. The people not worthy of your business are the people who feel that somehow the achievements of others directly affect their competency. This is not the case. I’m not going to say this attracts a certain ego maniacal element, I’ll let you judge that for yourself.

The reality is the there are some benefits from my perspective to being associated with a strong brand. At least that’s why I took our successfully independent company and joined Coldwell Banker in March of 1993.

After spending 18 winters in Hawaii and seeing the strength of this company I started to investigate them and immediately liked what I was seeing.

Founded on the principle of exceptional customer service at 100 years ago. It is the oldest of the international real estate brands. The best way to describe the company is to let a third party describe it in it’s annual ranking of the worlds top franchises.

This too means nothing to you if you aren’t satisfied. That’s where the ego meets the road. No other real estate company in Canada that I’m aware of does an independently monitored customer service survey for completed transactions. Now that’s worth keeping track of. That’s worth your business. I’m not saying we are the only option out there. We are definitely one of the few that focus on your satisfaction as our measurement. The meat of the matter is that market share means nothing in selling your home if your agent is only driven on serving themselves, their ego, and making sure you help pay for their advertising budget. A professional negotiator, marketer, and someone with the ability to service the sale or purchase of your home is what you really need. The brand can offer that agent tools and technology to do this in the most professional manner possible. Tools that smaller independant companies can't develop on their own.

If you’re not sure if I'm right, just have us in and compare us to the competition. Its your money so you be the judge. What have you got to lose. I believe you will be impressed with the differences that we offer and the results you'll get.

Maxamize your home value.

Before you get into this article Sara put up regarding preparing your home for sale I want to put my two cents in.
It never ceases to amaze me how buyers react in a clean property. They feel more comfortable to stay longer, their anxiety level drops and this means good news for sellers. I've helped hundreds of sellers over the years, my self and Sara included maxamize the sale value of their homes for very little money. In one recent instance for a mere $7000. we helped our seller net almost $40,000.00 more than their home was evaluated at. So this stuff works. If you want the most for your home use us but definitely prepare your home for sale. Enjoy.

There’s an old saying that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. This is particularly true of real estate, when prospective buyers usually make a subconscious decision about your property within the first few seconds of walking in the door. Whether you’re selling your home, or just looking to update its appeal without breaking the bank, here are a few low cost but high impact remedies to update your home

• De-clutter: The best way to make your home feel welcoming to buyers and visitors is to create an environment similar to that found in a model home. The look is simple, with clean lines and bright, roomy interiors. You can create a similar look by reducing the number of non-functional items you have in sight throughout your house. Less is more, and that applies to furniture right on down to all the coats your have hanging up in plain sight. A simple rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used it in over a month, you probably don’t need it. Pack it up and make some space.

• Keep it neutral: If you’ve visited a model home recently, or looked at the latest decorating magazines, you’ll notice that the décor is neutral, using soft, light colours to create a feeling of spaciousness. Strong colours should be limited to small accents like throw pillows, area rugs and artwork. Just because you like orange doesn’t mean you have to paint all your walls with it! A small splash of colour will make your room ‘pop’.

• Define your spaces: Each room of your home should have a clearly defined identity that is obvious to viewers. Don’t leave it to the buyers’ imagination that your junk/storage room would make a good bedroom. Set it up so that buyers can visualize themselves using it that way.

• Add some ambience: Don’t forget the other senses when you update your home style. In these days of spas and aroma therapy, its time to throw out the pot pourri and cloying floral sprays and use subtle scents that are fresh and clean smelling. Keep it natural. Even a bowl of fresh lemons on the kitchen counter does wonders.

• De-personalize: This style remedy is strictly for those who are selling their home. Start your moving process now, by packing away all items of a personal nature throughout the house. Items such as family pictures, trophies, and personal mementos distract the buyer and reinforce that this is someone else’s home. De-personalizing your interior is a great way to help buyers picture themselves moving right in and living there.

Want more home style remedies? Ask us for our expert advice on how to showcase your home to its best advantage.

Search all Edmonton and area MLS Listings at www.edmonton-homes.ca.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Alberta Real Estate to Remain Strong

The CMHC Housing Outlook Conference took place today in Edmonton. Seems Albertans are a little different than the rest of the country - more of us own our own homes, more of us plan on buying a home in the next 5 years and more...

This article from the Edmonton Journal explains...

Private Sales and Fraud

Before you read this article from the Real Estate magazine you should be aware that mortgage fraud is a very serious matter in Alberta. So much so that in a province where every mortgare used to be assumable that is no longer the case. The banks led by the Alberta Treasurey branch have begun to enforce the "due on sale" clause that has always been there but never enforced. There are all manners and forms mortgage fraud so be aware and protect your identity. We are very aware of the mortgage fraud issue (see resume online at http://www.edmonton-homes.ca/aboutUs.asp ). We will protect you privacy and identity. The second article following is about record fraud activity from the Edmonton Journal on October 25th 2005.

Criminals have found a new application for identity theft – real estate title fraud – and the Greater Toronto Area is at the centre of this growing criminal activity, according to industry experts at a recent real estate fraud summit in Oakville, ON. Susan Leslie, VP claims and underwriting for First Canadian Title says, “Nine times out of 10, we see fraud cases arising out of private purchase and sale agreements.” “In 2000, real estate title fraud accounted for 6% of total claims,” says Leslie. “This number grew to 14% in 2002 and 36% last year. Real estate fraud now represents our single largest claims category. We have been forced to understand the warning signs and are working hard to do our part in educating the industry of the dangers.”

Mortgage fraud losses soar in US this year – Edmonton Journal, October 25, 2005

Reported losses on mortgage fraud more than doubled to $1.014 billion so far in 2005, making the category one of the fastest-growing types of white-collar crime in the US, according to the FBI. Mortgage fraud has surged as the boom in US housing encouraged criminals, Derek Siegle, assistant chief of the financial crimes section of the FBI, said at a panel discussion of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Orlando, Florida. The ease of access to mortgage money has made it possible for more criminals to defraud lenders, he said. Mortgage products such as loans that require no documentation or income verification have made the industry ripe for fraud, he said. The FBI this year has 22,000 reports of suspicious activity related to mortgages, up from about 17,000 in 2004, he said. Popular types of mortgage fraud include “flipping,” in which a buyer purchases a home, obtains an inflated appraisal, and sells it at a profit, he said.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Make money from your reno's

Interestingly enough renovation can be fantastic for adding value to your equity or they can completely devastate your equity if they are unplanned, ill planned are unattractive to the general population. We extensive experience in renovation projects, project sales and new home construction we can help you plan your renovation project. Just give us a call it will be worth it.
contact us through www.edmonton-homes.ca home of Edmonton's best real estate blog.


Reno Projects R Us – Edmonton Journal, October 16, 2005

A new survey from RBC Financial Group shows 76% of the province’s homeowners plan to renovate or make home improvements within the next two years. According to the RBC Survey, half (52%) of Albertan’s intended renovators expect to roll up their sleeves and dust off their levels and do the majority of the work on their homes themselves. Another 37% plan to involve their spouse or partner and 29% plan to hire a contractor. “Home improvement is a going concern in Alberta,” said Bill McFarlane, sales manager, Builders Markets. “An abundance of options and low borrowing costs should keep the momentum going, and the paint flowing, well into 2006.” 66% of Alberta homeowners have completed renovation projects within the last two years. Of those who plan to start in the next two years, 63% say the primary reason is to make their home more attractive while 36% say they enjoy renovating.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Foreclosures! Foreclosures! Foreclosures!

Ok, so what is the great deal you ask? Maybe nothing, or maybe it's a money pit. A decade ago foreclosures were the rage. Even when I was selling foreclosures for the Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Royal Bank, I could feel the balance shift from a consumer opportunity to a consumer land mine.

In Alberta the foreclosure process, Judicature as it is called in the courts, has several steps. All of which begins with a promise not being fulfilled. That promise is usually someone not making their mortgage payments. There are other circumstances though where through a court ordered judgment someone may enforce their claim for monies owing through a court ordered sale.

I don’t want to get caught up in the legal mumbo jumbo in this article. We’ll leave that where it belongs in the land of the legal beagles. I do want to set up for you the fact that a foreclosure is usually a distress sale of a sort. What has happened though, is the term “foreclosure” has been creatively marketed by some to give you the perception there is a real deal here. The idea is a hook to get the consumer to contact them and then hopefully switch the customer into looking at something else.

The real deal about foreclosures is, that you the buyer assume all the risk, and generally at market value. In most cases the bank and parties involved are required by the court to seek or at least attempt to obtain, market value.

In certain situations you have to submit your offer with no conditions and wait for the court's acceptance which can take some time. In the meantime another party interested in the property waits until the eleventh hour to submit their offer knowing there is another offer in place.

Finally, the seller will make no warranties or representations and attach a “schedule A” (which basically states that you are buying the property as is, where is).

The gist here is making sure you go in with your eyes wide open. There are other distress sales in the marketplace that are far more advantageous to buyers. Divorces and Estate sales can be among those. If you’d like more information on Foreclosures, estate sales and other potentially distressed properties feel free to contact us at

sheldon@teamjohnston.com

thanks for visiting http://www.edmonton-homes.ca/

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Maintaining your home’s exterior

Whether you’re a potential buyer or already own your own home, you can appreciate that it makes good sense to protect that investment with regular maintenance. Here in Edmonton, it’s especially true, as our homes suffer the effects of extreme weather conditions.

The materials used in the construction of the exterior of a home have a lot to do with future maintenance. If you’re looking to buy a new home, the amount of wood used in the exterior will be a major factor in how much time, effort and money you can expect to devote to maintenance. Wooden siding, decking, fences, trim and windows all need regular staining or painting to keep them in good shape. Vinyl siding and windows take less maintenance and last much longer, so whether you’re in the market for a new home, or want to determine the salability of your existing property, you can factor in that feature as a big plus.

If you have wood in your exterior surfaces, you’ll extend its lifespan by keeping it clean of polluting chemicals. A good power-washing in the fall and again in the spring will help reduce the unwanted grime that can speed the deterioration of your wood surfaces. Paving stones and driveways will also benefit from an intensive cleaning to eliminate damaging pollutants. And as long as you’ve got the power-washer out, eavestrough gutters should receive a thorough cleaning regularly, at least two or three times a year, to ensure water runs freely away.

If your wood surfaces are painted, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. Paint tends to split and flake off and requires strenuous sanding and scraping to get the surface ready for a fresh coat. Many people are daunted by the amount of work this entails and contract the job out to professionals, which can be quite expensive. A more desirable alternative is the use of stain, which simply fades as it’s absorbed into wood over time and can be reapplied year after year on top of previous coats. Stain rarely needs more than a minimal sanding to smooth out any rough spots and each successive coat you add over the years adds to the protection of your wood. Before staining, remember to repair cracks with wood filler to prevent water from seeping in. Unlike the limited choices of years ago, today’s semi-transparent stains come in a range of colours to suit any style.

When the time comes to replace your fencing, iron and steel fences will last the longest with low upkeep costs, while upgrading the overall look of your property. You may also opt to replace wooden decking with patterned concrete for the same reasons. But while this may add to your home’s appeal and help it sell more quickly at resale time, don’t expect to recover its full cost in the sale price of your home. If you’re considering making changes to your home’s exterior and want to know how it will impact the future resale value of your home, be sure to contact us.

www.edmonton-homes.ca

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Edmonton Price Increase Predicted to Lead Country in 2006

The following is an excerpt from a report released today by Re/Max. Similar reports have been published by many outfits at about this time for the past few years, and the annual results thus far have vastly exceeded expectations, so take the report with a grain of salt.

The RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook 2006 report found that the vast majority of major Canadian markets surveyed are expecting modest price appreciation ranging from 2 to 5% in 2006. The only exceptions are Vancouver, Kelowna, and Calgary, all of which are forecast to experience price increases of about 10 percent next year, the companies reported.

Nationally, home sales are forecast to climb 2 percent by year-end 2005, to 472,100 units – the best year ever for housing in Canada. Average price appreciation is expected to post a 9 percent gain, bringing the value of a Canadian home to $246,600.

“Affordability has certainly been a major concern, particularly in markets in British Columbia and Alberta, where average price has experienced strong upward momentum throughout 2005 due to tight inventory levels," said Elton Ash, regional executive vice president at RE/MAX of Western Canada. “An influx of new listings in the marketplace should ease some of the upward pressure on housing values and allow purchasers the luxury of time when buying a home."

The highest percentage increases in unit sales are expected to occur in Western Canadian markets next year, the RE/MAX offices reported. Edmonton and Regina are predicted to lead the country with a 5 percent increase over 2005 levels, and 61 percent of all markets forecast activity in 2006 to be on par with the previous year's figures.

Strong economic fundamentals are expected to contribute to healthy residential real estate activity yet again in 2006, according to the report. Western Canada, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in particular, are expected to benefit from thriving oil and gas-related industries. Nationwide in Canada, billions of dollars have been earmarked for non-residential construction.

“Canada's economic engine continues to fire on all cylinders, outperforming expectations at every level," said Michael Polzler, executive vice president and regional director at RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Consumer confidence levels are strong. Even the Bank of Canada's effort to put the brakes on the economy – boosting interest rates one half of one percentage point in a two-month period – only served to bolster home-buying activity. Interest rates could climb as much as two percentage points before we see any real impact on the housing market."

October News release

Last month thinks looked liked they were on a trend downwards. Certainly condos had suffered somewhat through over development. However that was a slight if not incalcuable turn. So its my turn to put the proverbial sock in my mouth and take back my comments from Septembers news release. Maybe the powers that be felt it was time to spin out some good news. Things feel like they are on track. Buyers are optomistic yet cautitious and sellers realize there is still competion out there. We thank you for visiting our blog and hope you check out our other buyer and seller services at www.edmonton-homes.ca


October housing sales set new price points and increased volume

Edmonton, November 3, 2005: The Edmonton Real Estate Board reports that housing prices scaled new heights in October for single family and duplex properties. Recent condo prices are still ahead of the year’s average price although they have not surpassed higher average prices set in June.

The average* price for a single family home in October was $225,887 (a new record high) up 8.5% from the same time last year. Duplex and row house prices were up 25.9% over last year and set a new record at $198,233. The average price for a condo in October was less than 1% higher than the YTD average price at $141,106. The high price point for condos was $144,345 in June 2005.

“REALTORS® using the Multiple Listing Service® continue to be the best home selling option in the Edmonton market,” said Jim Kulak, EREB President. “Sales for the past month and for the year-to-date are both up and steady price increases continue to add value to real estate holdings.” There were 1,333 homes sold through the MLS® in October 2005, as compared to 1,263 in October 2004. Total YTD residential sales are up 5% at 16,281 in 2005 (15,512 last year).

Consumers hoping to find a new home for Christmas can still choose from an inventory of 3,806 homes as of October 31, 2005. “High numbers of home sales have pushed the inventory down,” said Kulak “while putting upward pressure on housing prices.” He emphasized that the Edmonton housing market was stable and could withstand considerable upward pressure without any unease. The average days-on-market in October was 42 days. Total MLS® sales (including residential, commercial and rural sales) were 1,564 units in October for a YTD total of 18,605 (up 5.25% from last year).

The strength of the residential market was also felt in rural properties. Overall, rural sales exceeded market trends with total sales of 1,892 up to the end of October as compared to 1,628 last year. Total value of sales of rural properties was up 30% to $390 million.

Acreages with homes sold for an average price of $281,789 in October, up almost $52,000 since last year. Recreational land and acreages sold, on average, for $10,000 more than last year and recreational properties with a home jumped to $274,167 from $227,525 last October.

Ninety commercial land parcels have been sold through the MLS® so far this year; up 8.4% from last year even though listings dropped to 200 from 290 YTD last year. The total value of commercial land sold so far this year is over $50 million as compared to $39 million in 2004.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Winters coming! Are you ready!


Winter Is Near ... Is Your House Ready ?
Here are few tips to start getting ready for winter and to save energy ...

1. Seal Leaks around Doors and Windows
2. Seal Other Leaks
3. Is the Insulation Adequate?
4. Heating System Checks
5. Check the Fireplace
6. Check the Roof & Its Neighbors
7. Winterize the Plumbing
8. Winterizing Outdoor Items
9. Collect Emergency Supplies
10. Make sure hot tubs are running efficiently
11. Look at room heaters instead of heating the whole home
12. Use a programable thermostat to moderate your heating
13. Wear warm clothes around the house

www.edmonton-homes.ca

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Land Titles Turnaround Times

Waiting for your land title can delay closing on the purchase of your new property. Keep your transactions flowing smoothly and closing on time by staying up-to-date with the turnaround times at the Land Titles offices by visiting www.spin.gov.ab.ca. Current registration turnaround times in Edmonton and Calgary are posted in red on the home page.

Consumer Tips

I found these Consumer Tip Sheets on the Alberta Government website and thought they were a worthwhile read if you're thinking of renovating or buying a condo or timeshare:

Home Renovations and Repair
This document outlines everything you need to know about hiring a contractor as well as information about contracts and cancellation rights.

Contents include:
Choosing a Contractor
The Contract
Paying for the Work
Protect Yourself From Liens
Working with Prepaid Contractors
If You Have Problems
Home Insurance
More Information
Hire Certified Tradespeople
http://www3.gov.ab.ca/gs/pdf/home.pdf

Buying Time Shares
In this tipsheet, you'll find out:
· what a time share is all about,
· how you are protected,
· how to decide whether a time share is for you, and
· how to avoid problems when you buy a time share.
http://www3.gov.ab.ca/gs/pdf/timeshare.pdf

Buying and Owning a Condominium
Overviewing the key topics that affect buying and owning a condominium.
http://www3.gov.ab.ca/gs/pdf/tipsheets/Buy_Own_Condo.pdf