Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

Previously, I wrote a post (entitled Save Money Now) about the ways a person can save money if they are interested in upgrading or retrofitting a home with energy efficient materials and/or appliances. With a combination of federal government rebates and federal renovation tax credits, a person can save substantial money on the renovations of their existing property. Well, the news for Alberta residents just got better. The Alberta Provincial Government just announced a 36 million dollar investment in an energy rebate program. The program is similar to the federal ecoEnergy program, which aims to increase the efficiency of Canadian homes and reduce green house gas production. The Alberta program will be administered by Climate Change Central, an Alberta based non-profit organization. Cost savings include $400-$600 off the cost of upgrading to a high efficiency furnace and $250-$300 off the cost of upgrading a hot water heater. So, if a person was to buy a high-efficiency furnace at $4000 and take advantage of all of the possible provincial and federal rebates and tax credits, the real cost of the furnace would be approximately $2550!

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

A flurry of recent articles about the Calgary real estate market have touted the increase in MLS sales and average home/condo prices. While year-over-year numbers remain down, there are reasons for optimism as first-time home buyers are recognizing the benefits of buying in this market and improving the housing market with there investment. The average house price in Calgary has risen roughly 1% over February, in March, gaining back some of the roughly 10% decrease in average home prices over the past year. Optimism is also spreading in the US residential market and Calgary commercial market. Recently, developers of the Bow Tower were able to secure financing from 6 of Canada’s banks, indicating a loosening of lending practises. And, US home starts were up, indicating the start of a housing market recovery there. These signs all bode well for the Canadian and Calgary residential real estate markets. If there are buyers out there that are waiting for a bottom, start your engines because maybe, just maybe this is it. For recent information about average home prices and condo prices in Calgary, visit the Calgary Market Stats section.

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

With all of the incentives to renovate right now (government tax credit, low building costs, competition between contractors) you may be wondering what the ‘best bang for your buck’ is. Of course, if there is a project that you have in mind that will benefit you and your family and raise the comfort level of your home, then that should be where you start renovating. But, if you are unsure about where to start and you are looking to add value to your home then this article is for you. Every year, the Appraisal Institute of Canada publishes a review of the return-on-investment of various types of home renovations. For instance, in 2008, if you were to add a pool to your property, in Canada, then you would expect to see a return of 0-25%. Not really that good when you consider that a pool can cost $10,000 and up. According to the AIC, renovations that will add the most value to your home include bathroom and kitchen renovations. In fact, the return on both bathroom and kitchen renovations is somewhere between 75-100%. Of course, these renovations have to be tasteful and neutral to appeal to the broadest possible market. You may also see high returns when exterior or interior painting is done. Again, you may be able to recoup all of your investment if you choose neutral and popular colours. For complete list of renovations and expected returns, visit the AIC website or visit The Renovation Guide.

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

In this time of tight consumer and business credit it is as important as ever for buyers to get pre-qualified with a competent mortgage broker before starting a home search. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or you have bought or sold many properties, you will need to be pre-qualified. There are many reasons to get pre-qualified but the main reasons are as follows:rnrn1. To Determine If You Can Own A Home – People with little credit, bad credit or no credit will have difficulty trying to find a lender that will finance a mortgage. For buyers, it’s better to know right up front, what your credit rating is so that you can determine the steps you need to take to improve your credit, if need be. Buyers need to know that some mortgage brokers do not pull credit ratings for a pre-qualification. This needs to be done to be pre-qualified and it is good for you to know your credit score.rnrn2. To Determine Your Price Range – We all want the biggest/best house on the block but buyers may regret buying when they realize that there is little money left for life’s other expenses. A mortgage broker should help you to determine what mortgage payments you can comfortably handle.rnrn3. To Determine The Best Interest Rate Your Can Get - Being pre-qualified with a broker/lender means that they will guarantee that mortgage rate for a certain period of time (usually 90 days). Particularly in a climate of rising rates, it is important to know what mortgage rate you’re going to get when you purchase your home.rnrn4. To Gain A Better Understanding of Your Credit History/Rating – A lender/broker will be able to go into detail about your history and credit score. If there are any discrepancies, you will be able to take steps to remedy any errors.rnrn5. To Prepare Yourself -Once you have determined what you can afford and are comfortable paying for your home, you will be much less likely to jump into a high priced home ‘that you love’, only to have buyer’s remorse later on.rnrnUltimately, getting pre-qualified will save you time and stress.

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

Recent developments in the Canadian real estate market have conspired to benefit first-time home buyers or buyers wishing to re-enter the market. Renters who have stable jobs but have previously been priced out of the real estate market are now able to find houses and condos which they can now afford, due to drops in average home and condo prices. Further, interest rates are at rock bottom levels, with interest rates as low as 4% on 4 and 5 year terms. And the high inventory of houses and condos ensures that there is a home out there to suit everyone. The government is also jumping into the market and supporting first-time home ownership with a home buyer’s tax credit. For 2009 the maximum credit that can be claimed is $750 (For more information visit the HBTC website). Really, there hasn’t been a favourable buyer’s market like this in recent memory. For all of these reasons, first-time home buyers are not being left on the sidelines any longer. February sales numbers are due out soon and preliminary numbers indicate that sales will be better than in recent months. And, first-time home buyers may be a large part of the increase in home sales.

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

With lower construction costs and plummeting retail prices, this may be the best time in recent memory to renovate that aged furnace or replace those cracked or inefficient windows. To help you further with your renovations, several levels of government rebates and incentives for replacing things like windows, doors and furnaces. For instance, the federal government currently offers a $500 rebate when an eligible home is retrofitted with a high-efficiency furnace, with an efficiency rating of 92% or greater. Other eligible retrofits include basement and attic insulation, windows, air conditioning units among others. To become eligible for this program, a home owner needs to contact a government approved energy advisor and organize to have an energy audit done on their residence. The energy advisor will determine which improvements are likely to conserve energy and which improvements are eligible for the Office of Energy Efficiency of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) grants. Once the improvements are made, a second audit will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the improvements and proof of upgrades will have to be submitted before any eligible rebates are made available to the home owner. For further information about this program and others, visit the NRCan website.

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

In an 8-to-7 split, Calgary city council voted down a motion to implement a real estate transfer fee. 8-to-7! Last I checked, Canada is in a recession and the Calgary real estate market balanced precariously on the proverbial knife edge. Calgary should be encouraging investment, growth and development and an 8-to-7 vote is not a vote of confidence for investors and homeowners. And in an effort to further assuage Calgarian’s fears, the council vowed to revisit the issue at some later date, likely fall 2009. Simply put, a transfer levy (fee or tax) would unnecessarily punish people having to relocate due to job loss or foreclosure. And, the transfer fee could only be detrimental to a struggling real estate market. In its proposed form, the fee would have consisted of a 1% surcharge on any real estate transaction. On the sale of a $300,000 home, the tax would be $3000.rnrnIn Toronto a similar tax has recently implemented and the Toronto real estate market has suffered as a result. Both real estate sales and average home prices suffered substantially in the face of their new, indiscriminate tax. For a more detailed breakdown of the effects of the Toronto real estate transfer tax, people can review the A.C. Howe Institute Study on the subject.

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

In fairness to most Realtors, I wanted to show some of the standouts who appear to have an appreciation for good listing photography. With a wide-angle lens, good lighting and some basic understanding of framing and optimal angles, any Realtor should be able to show their listing off, in its best light. While searching MLS listings for client, I recently came across these nice shots:rn

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Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

A listing photo is often the first and last thing a potential buyer will see of a seller’s home. Buyers make decisions based on an impression made with a photo and they will do this in a matter of only seconds. For this reason alone, listing photos must help to showcase a homes good characteristics and its potential. Framing, composition, angle, and lighting are considerations that should be made with all photography, including interior photography. While most Realtors take good listing photos or contract out to ensure good quality shots are taken, there are some in the industry who simply do not understand the importance of a photograph.rnrnHere are some recent examples that I have found of what listing photos should not look like:rn

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Where to start…Ok well, your not selling your teenage son so he should probably not be in the photo.

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I don’t even know what to say.

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That’s a really nice foot you have there but it doesn’t accentuate the shimmer on your hardwood.

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I would definitely get a home inspection on this one.

Posted by & filed under Calgary Real Estate News.

The Canadian Real Estate Association has come out with its housing forcast for 2009 and 2010. In Alberta, CREA is predicting a decrease of 8.9% in 2009 and a much more modest decrease of 1.1% in 2010. So, it appears that the worst of the market decreases are yet to come but relief is on the horizon, as Canadian and world economies are predicted to start growing again in 2010 and beyond. For more information about CREA predictions for Alberta and other provinces, go to the MSN.ca article “Where are home prices headed“.