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Trends That Are Influencing Calgary Real Estate

October 25th, 2015 by Greg Steele

 Trends That Are Influencing Calgary Real Estate

As Calgary continues to grow, communities are changing and new developments are working to ensure that they are building the neighbourhoods we will want to live in today and tomorrow.  Developers of new communities have changed their approach and are now building new communities to attract Calgarians with more than just the promise of a bigger house at a lower price. The goals of these new communities are to provide new home buyers with the benefits they expect in the urban neighbourhoods like access to parks and trails, retail areas and employment opportunities all in an area with a growing sense of community.


The idea of sustainability in the home is a growing one among young and experienced home buyers alike. The desire for green space is increasingly becoming a common must have item for buyers, as well as for communities to be built with sustainability measures in mind. Most builders and developers no longer look at sustainability as a trend, but more as an expectation of buyers.

Almost all major builders adhere to basic sustainability standards, and some also offer special bonuses such as tree-planting programs and offers to provide rain barrels to new residents, all in an effort to promote sustainability and a better sense of community.

Retail Amenities and Employment Opportunities

Another common trend, especially for young millennials is to live and play and work all in the same community. One of the biggest conveniences of urbanization is giving residents quick and easy access to retail shops and restaurants, as well as desirable work opportunities. This isn’t as easy as adding green space or a golf course to a development, but there is definitely a trend for developers to attract more than just a collection of grocery stores and coffee shops to serve a community.

Community Engagement

New home buyers also want to see a good level of community engagement, and amenities and features that enable that such as fitness facilities, restaurants and coffee shops. Many condo developments create that sense of community even prior to moving in when the developers create Facebook pages to introduce the community to their future neighbours. Eventually these online communities grow into community associations and are a great way for new residents to connect and meet new people in their new neighbourhood.

These new trends are outside of the usual decor and design trends that usually influence buyers, but are a reflection of the direction that real estate is taking especially in Calgary. Real estate is more than just four walls of shelter, but can foster a real sense of community and belonging so that you can live the life you want to live in a home you love.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Home’s Outdoor Space

October 11th, 2015 by Greg Steele

How to Make the Most Out of Your Home's Outdoor Space
When decorating your new home or redecorating your existing home, many times the outdoor space is overlooked. If you are about to put your property on the market, you should know that most buyers are very keen on getting a new home that has a great entertainment space. All the nuances of a spacious dining area, cozy kitchen and inviting living area are very important – but don’t ignore the outdoor space. Creating a desirable outdoor space can be very easy and more affordable than you would think. You may be thinking that you can only use it part of the year so why bother, but it can bring you plenty of enjoyment during the summer so why not make the small investment.

Here are four ways to create the perfect outdoor entertaining area:

Create a cozy seating area. Nowadays there is a great selection of outdoor furniture that is not just patio sets. Many of the big box stores have conversation sets that are basically outdoor living room furniture, made durable to withstand the elements. Working with the size of your space, find a piece or two that fits neatly into your space. Try looking in the off season to get even better deals.

Warm up the area. Outdoor fireplaces are a great accent piece to add to a backyard seating area. Proper wood burning fireplaces and even propane burning fireplaces area available in all sorts of shapes and styles. There are even centre tables that have the fireplaces built right in, making a gorgeous focal point in your outdoor entertainment area.

Work with the lighting. Lighting is a simple way to jazz up any space. There are so many outdoor lighting options available and you don’t even need a certified electrician to install them. Line the garden and walkway with citronella candles or solar powered string lights – easily creating a cozy space for you and your guests.

Incorporate greenery and colour.  Every outdoor space should have some plant life. Jazz up the area with a few pre-made planters and hanging baskets at the beginning of the season.  As long as you follow the care instructions, they should last all season long.

For more outdoor inspiration and ideas, go online to sites like Pinterest and home decor sites to get some creative DIY ideas that will truly make your space your own.

The Summer Real Estate Market in NW Calgary

September 27th, 2015 by Greg Steele

The Summer Real Estate Market in NW Calgary

As the summer winds down, real estate in Northwest Calgary continues to lead the pack. Although the average MLS sale price in Calgary slid 1.9 percent last month to $466,570, the median price edged up 0.5 per cent to $422,500. In August, there were more than 400 real estate transactions on single-family homes in the city’s northwest end, the busiest for activity in all of Calgary, according to the newest numbers released by the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB).

One of the main factors that continues to influence the real estate market is the weakening energy sector. It’s no secret that Alberta’s economy is heavily dependent on the oil and energy sector and any changes to that industry readily effect the real estate market.

According to CREB chief economist, Ann-Marie Lurie, “As weakness in the energy sector continues, this is trickling into several other aspects of our local economy including our housing market.”

The provincial government reiterated her sentiment confirming that the oil-dependent economy is now expected to contract by 0.6 per cent this year and its deficit could top $6.5-billion (Canadian) as the downturn intensifies.

Although sales were sluggish compared to the same period last year, the slow turn has not fully encompassed northwest Calgary’s residential real estate market, where detached houses priced between $400,000 and $500,000 are still changing hands at a brisk pace. This can be attributed to the fact that the numbers are skewed downward due to the extremely sluggish sales and falling prices for apartments not detached and attached single family homes.

Combined with the fact that although every price range experienced fewer sales per new listing, houses selling for more than $600,000 made up a higher proportion of listings compared with last year, and the higher-end homes saw a drop in the share of total sales. Overall, the combination of price declines and higher inventory levels in some segments of the market are influencing buying patterns in Calgary, said Creb President Corinne Lyall.

“Improved selection in these segments is giving buyers the opportunity to be discerning about their purchase decisions,” she said. “They may be weighing their options between resale and new product, along with what community fits their lifestyle.”

Above all, the labour market will continue to have a huge impact on the real estate market. This is common for most big cities around the world. In Calgary, the real estate market is adjusting and somewhat correcting itself and prospective home buyers or sellers should be aware of the changes and trends.

Navigating the Real Estate Maze in NW Calgary

September 13th, 2015 by Greg Steele

Navigating the Real Estate Maze in NW Calgary

If you’ve ever been through a maze, at a cornfield, on a farm or at an amusement park than you understand that not knowing the route it will take you a long time to get to the end. The same can be said for real estate. Navigating your way through the transaction as a buyer or seller can sometimes be a long and hard process, full of unexpected obstacles or errors.

Like a maze, you will hit some dead ends, find yourself going in circles and ultimately become frustrated that you seem to be going nowhere. The exact same actions and reactions are a part of the process of buying or selling a home. As a real estate professional with over 30 years experience in NW Calgary I have seen my clients go through the emotional roller coaster of finding the perfect home or negotiating an offer. In the end it was transparency and educating them on the process that resulted in success.

Here are my tips to help you navigate the real estate maze…especially here in NW Calgary.

Get a Realtor who knows the area

In NW Calgary there are many unique characteristics that are not common in other big cities across Canada. The area currently houses more than 300,000 residents and features some of the city’s hilliest landscapes and greatest views. Some of the most beautiful include the Hilltop communities that overlook the beautiful Bow River Valley, the Downtown Calgary skyline, and acres of preserved parkland. The rising foothills and mile-high Rockies help form the perfect backdrop for Calgary living.

If you are looking to buy or sell in this area, having a Realtor who is more than familiar with the economic, social and environmental landscape will help you immensely. Instead of being lost in a maze, it will feel more like a leisurely stroll through a museum, with a great tour guide!

Understand the process

Real estate transactions are probably not something you do every day, so you’re not as familiar with how they are laid out. As a result, the process of preparing your home for sale, getting it listed, dealing with viewings and buyers, and negotiating offers can potentially be very stressful.

Your Realtor should educate and prepare you for the upcoming real estate ride, by clearly outlining every stage of a transaction and making sure that you are comfortable with the strategy they prepare for finding you a new home or selling your existing one.

The real estate maze that is NW Calgary can be easily navigated when you have the right person on your side. Your Realtor is your coach, and as such let them guide you through the process.

Six Things You Need to Know About Nose Hill Park

July 5th, 2015 by Greg Steele

Six Things You Need to Know About Nose Hill Park

Calgary is lucky to be surrounded by natural beauty, but having beautiful greenspace within the city limits should never be taken for granted.  If you live in Northwest Calgary, you are probably used to seeing the Nose Hill landmark on a regular basis.  Even though our city has grown in leaps and bounds, this 11 square kilometer parkland remains untouched.  Here are six interesting facts about Nose Hill Park.

1. It is believed that Nose Hill was created by ancient glacier streams that eroded the high plains around the peak.  Because of its height, the hill was used for ancient ceremonies and burials.  As the European settlers moved in, much the surrounding area was sectioned off for farming and ranching.  During the 80’s, the park was destined for residential development, but local activists fought for the land to be preserved for the public’s enjoyment.

2. The elevation of the “nose” is well worth the hike for the stunning views that can be seen on the horizon.  From the right vantage point, it’s a great place to snap photos of the Bow River, Rocky Mountains, and the sprawling plains to the east.  Visiting once a year simply isn’t enough, the landscape and view change each season.

3. Calgary is home to about 150 leash-free dog parks, but one if the biggest and best is located right in Nose Hill Park.  While your four-legged friend will love the opportunity to run like the wind, be mindful of the coyotes and porcupines that also have free reign of the park.

4. Did you know that Nose Hill Park is the second largest municipal park in Calgary?  There are twelve residential communities that are fortunate enough to share a border with this urban greenspace.  Nearby residents in Edgemont, Beddington, Huntington Hills, Thorncliffe, and North Haven have natural getaway right at their doorstep.

5. Nose Hill Park is known for its unique plant life.  The Trembling Aspen is one of the most common trees in the park.  Willows are common around the north facing slopes.  There are a number of varieties of prairie grasses, and during the summertime, wildflowers are in full bloom.

6. Whether you are jogger or a cyclist, Nose Hill Park is the perfect escape from the craziness of city life.  Make some time to visit Nose Hill this summer, and check out the trail map to plan your next mini-adventure.

Making Father’s Day All About Dad

June 16th, 2015 by Greg Steele

Making Father’s Day All About Dad

What do you get the guy who has everything?  Shopping for Dad isn’t easy, but maybe you are overthinking it.  Dad probably doesn’t need another set of BBQ utensils or Canadian Tire Gift Card.  Well he might…but maybe this is the year to think outside the (big) box (store).  Here are a few ideas to plan a Father’s Day to remember:

Go fishing!  When was the last time you and dad packed up your gear and spent the morning fishing for your next big catch?  Life gets busy, and sometimes we forget to make time to unwind.  There are no shortage rivers nearby and this time of year is perfect for a little outdoor adventure.

Get tickets for a game.  There aren’t any major sporting events planned for this Father’s Day weekend in Calgary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t surprise dad with some tickets.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  The Stampeders are taking on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on June 26th, and of course, the Calgary Stampede is just around the corner.

Help Dad finish a big project around the house.  Dad might not me planning on working hard on “his” weekend, but what if he had a few helping hands?  There is nothing more satisfying than accomplishing a home renovation that has been hanging over your head.  Help dad build a deck or overhaul the landscaping.  Who knows, he may teach you a thing or two.

Fire up the BBQ.  If your Dad is a bit of a foodie, why not surprise him with some home-cooked grub?  Plan a meal together for some over-the-grill bonding time, or let Dad sit back and relax while you roll out a special Father’s Day menu.  Nothing shows your appreciation for one of the most important people in your life like an enjoyable meal on the patio.

Dad might say he doesn’t want anything for Father’s day, but he doesn’t mean it.  Make this one count.

Understanding the Role of a Home Appraiser

May 31st, 2015 by Greg Steele

Understanding the Role of a Home Appraiser

Home appraisals are most often required by mortgage lenders to verify the worth and marketability of a property. Essentially, the appraiser is an independent third party that protects the lender from fraud, lending more than a home is worth, or placing a mortgage on a property that would be difficult to sell if the current owner defaulted on the loan. The appraiser provides a professional opinion of the current market value.

When appraisers schedule an inspection at a home, whether it had just been sold or a new mortgage has been applied for, you can expect them to spend about 20-30 minutes looking inside and around. The length of the probe varies based on the size and complexity of the property, in addition to the lender’s specific requirements. Generally, they will need to take pictures of most of the rooms in the house, which will be included in the report. They will also need to make a note of any major defects, such as serious water damage or visible mold.

Once the appraiser has collected all the information on the checklist, a research needs to be done. The value of the property is based mainly on recent comparable sales in the area. Lenders like to see houses that have sold within the last three months, as this represents the most recent trends in the area. The appraiser will look for homes that are of similar size, condition and appeal.

Once the report is completed, it is sent directly to the lender who ordered it. In most cases, the appraiser is not allowed to discuss the report or value with the home owner, unless the report was personally requested for informational purposes. If the lender is not satisfied with the final value, an appeal on the report can be made, an offer for additional comparables to the appraiser can be given for consideration, or a request for a second opinion from a different firm is also another option.

Appraisers play an important role in the real estate and mortgage lending industry. They protect home owners from overborrowing on their homes, and they protect lenders from securing loans on fraudulent transactions.

Making The Decision to Rent or Buy

May 17th, 2015 by Greg Steele

Making The Decision to Rent or Buy

There are plenty of financial and real estate experts who have strong opinions on the subject – is it better to invest in a home or choose the flexibility of being a renter? Both options offer a range of advantages and disadvantages. Deciding on which is best for yourself requires attentive deliberation of a variety of factors.

You are probably better off renting a home if:

You are unsure of where you will want to live in the next 2-5 years. Because of the taxes and fees associated with buying and selling a home, it’s usually advisable to opt for a rental for a short-term solution. Most landlords require a minimum 1-year contract, and after that, you are fee to move out with a two months’ notice.

You are just finishing school and will need a few years to establish yourself in your career. If you are in the process of repaying your student loans and working your way up to your dream job, you may find that renting is a more convenient choice. Once your career is underway, you will have an accurate idea of your monthly budget and can figure out how much house you can afford.

You are entering (or coming out of) a relationship and are uncertain of your next step. Maybe you moved to a new city because of someone you met, or you are just landing on your feet after a separation. Periods of change aren’t always the best time to make a serious real estate commitment.

You haven’t been able to save up enough for a down payment or credit issues are holding you back from buying a home. Although there are alternatives in place for those who don’t qualify for traditional mortgage lending, they can be quite costly over the long term. If your only mortgage recourse is a high interest loan, you may want to think about renting until you can rebuild your credit and qualify for a better deal.

You should seriously considering buying a home if:

You have found your ideal neighbourhood and can see yourself staying there for at least a few years. Once you’ve found a place that feels like home, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. Buying a house allows you to put down roots in a community, get to know your neighbours, and look forward to being where you truly want to be.

Investing in a home is part of your overall financial plan. Historically, purchasing a home is a substantial investment. It puts a roof over your ahead and appreciates over time. While the cost of rent increases, your mortgage payments will decrease as you pay it down.

You look forward to one day being mortgage-free (and rent-free!). Part of your retirement scheme involves careful consideration of your living accommodations during your golden years. How much will you need to set aside? Putting a plan in place to pay off your home is a great way to make smart financial decisions in the future.

You are looking for a home to call your own. Do you love to renovate and decorate? Investing in your living space can pay off, big time – as long as you own it. Go ahead, install your dream kitchen or create an outdoor living space to entertain friends. Home ownership may cost you more up front, but the long-term benefits far exceeds the expenses.

Need Ideas for your May Long Weekend?

May 6th, 2015 by Greg Steele

Need Ideas for your May Long Weekend?

The first (unofficial) long weekend of the summer is fast approaching! Although it technically hasn’t started yet, the May long weekend always feels like an exciting preview of what’s to come. Warmer weather, longer days, and all of the other wonderful things that come along with the best season of the year. How will you take advantage of your extra day off? Here are a few ideas to keep you busy:

Host a garage sale. It’s not too late for spring cleaning. This is the perfect occasion to host a yard sale because there will be plenty of other people in your community with the same idea. Check with your neighbours to see if you can get a few others on board and draw some added attention to your gently used treasures. You will be happy to make a few bucks and create some spare room in your closets.

Overhaul your garden. This is the period when garden centres have the best selection. The ground is perfect for planting, and it’s early enough that you will get a few months of enjoyment before fall inevitably arrives. Don’t wait until July to get your yard work done. Getting it out of the way now means more moments for drinks on the patio for the rest of the season.

Kick off the summer with a camping trip. Want to avoid your list of chores? It’s the ideal weekend to make a quick escape for some outdoor adventure. Pack up your mountain bike and head to Banff or one of the nearby parks to breathe in some fresh mountain air. It’s still a little chilly at night, but it’s the unparalleled time of year to explore nature at its best.

Host a BBQ. The May long weekend is also the unofficial kick-off of patio season (if you haven’t already gotten a head start). Everyone loves a reason to get together for some good food and awesome friends, and having that extra day off is the perfect excuse. Bring out the patio furniture, stock up on burgers and host your own summer celebration right in your own backyard.

Planning Your Real Estate Investment Strategy

April 21st, 2015 by Greg Steele

Planning Your Real Estate Investment Strategy

Many of the most successful Canadians attribute investing in real estate as an important avenue that helped them build wealth. Real estate investment doesn’t have to be on a huge scale. Some investors choose to diversify into a wide range of properties, while others look for just one or two homes that will meet their investment objectives.

Your investment strategy depends on a number of things, namely, patience, risk tolerance, and desired outcome. In the residential market, a simple buy-and-hold strategy is often quite rewarding. In this case, you want to buy a home in a desirable area for a competitive price and have it rented out for several years. Although you won’t make a significant income from the monthly rent, the idea is to allow the appreciation to be worth your while. In Calgary, depending on the market, this strategy could pay off in 3-4 years, but the more stoic you are, the better.

Although buying and holding real estate is a great option for those with capital to spare, some first-time investors want to get in and cash out as quickly as possible. That’s where having the skills and resources to renovate a property really come in handy. Flipping homes, as it was dubbed on countless reality TV shows, gained popularity during the last recession. It requires exceptional project management skills and a Realtor that can guide your search in the right direction. Not all improvements are worth the investment, and not all neighbourhoods are worth your time. Nevertheless, regardless of the economy, there will always be plenty of buyers searching for a move-in ready home, which makes flipping a great strategy for the skilled investor.

If you are the patient type, you can also consider buying a prebuilt home with a long closing date, and reselling it down the road upon completion. Many builders offer competitive packages to those who are willing to wait. There is a certain degree of risk tolerance involved, though. This is so because you are buying on spec and merely trusting your instincts that the neighbourhood will be fairly marketable in the future, anticipating improved home values over time.

Regardless of your investment goals, working with an experienced Realtor is the best way to reduce risk and align yourself with the right opportunities either for a short- or long-term success.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Calgary Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.