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Archive for the ‘Canadian Real Estate Market’ Category

What Would You Do to Own a Cabin by the Lake?

Thursday, July 6th, 2017
Posted by Jeanine B. Osborne on Thursday, July 6th, 2017 at 4:32pm.



REMAX 2017 Spring Market Trends Report

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Toronto buyers, are looking for greater affordability in markets across southern Ontario. In turn, they are driving price appreciation in Mississauga, Brampton, Durham, Barrie, Hamilton-Burlington, Windsor, and as far away as Kingston. The GTA saw the average residential sale price rise by 29 per cent, up from $675,492 in the first quarter of 2016 to $873,631 during the same period in 2017.

At the same time, housing demand has slowed in Greater Vancouver compared to Q1 of 2016, and the average residential sale price decreased 11 per cent year-over-year, from $1,094,936 in the first quarter of 2016 to $969,900 in 2017. The decline in average sale price is in part due to the introduction of the foreign buyer tax last August, a relatively severe winter and the natural stabilization of prices after the market reached a high point in May 2016. Move-over buyers from Vancouver and buyers migrating from other provinces continue to fuel activity in Fraser Valley, Kelowna, and in Victoria, particularly in the upper-end of the market due to relative affordability in these regions.


Will the Foreign Investor Tax Help You Buy Property?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

If you’ve been watching the headlines, you’ll know that there is a lot of frustration with regards to two large Real Estate Markets in Canada.  One is Vancouver and the other is Toronto.  Recently the BC Government introduced a 15% Foreign Investor tax on property purchasers in B.C.  Christy Clark can be heard saying ‘that is the impact we wanted to have.’  To cool their Red Hot real estate market and that’s just what they did. According to data released by the B.C. government, billions of dollars in Metro Vancouver real estate deals dried up and almost overnight.

In fact, on the last day before the changes came into effect, 55% of all purchases were done so by foreign investors.  Probably some good, but most likely moreso just more buyers to add frustration into an already highly overinflated market area, where the regular Canadian cannot afford to buy a home. Instead, these homes sit vacant and derelict, causing rental and property prices to rise. It’s great what B.C. did, but did you know that China took action against B.C. and their politics first?  That’s right, China said they were going to come to Canada and sue to get their money back.  It is unprecedented and has been put forth to show an example to their own citizens.

The Chinese plaintiffs are asking B.C. judges to enforce monetary judgments awarded in Chinese courts. These Chinese rulings typically involve people found in China to have defrauded Chinese banks or business partners and then fled to Canada with the money and invested in real estate here. Billions of dollars of bank faud proceeds are alleged to be invested in BC, while Lawyers in Vancouver say they are seeing a substantial increase in B.C. court cases filed by Chinese companies seeking to seize real estate assets from Chinese immigrants in B.C.

Perhaps B.C. didn’t want all the attention they were getting, as they decided to help China and Canadians out by adding another tax to your total when buying in B.C.  The Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board revealed the number of homes being sold had dropped significantly and prices had stalled since it came into effect.  See below:

In the end, China coming in to sue for recovery of money will show some foreign investors that if they would like to own property in Canada, they should do it with their own money.  A wee ocean isn’t that much to cross to get back a few million.  The changes to mortgage loan values, as well as the vacancy tax starting in January for Vancouver, all help Canadians such as you and I buy and keep our properties.  Canadians who had to work for their millions and mansions. Right on China, Right on B.C.

Now that’s the Cats’ Meow in Real Estate.

Now that the elections over, let’s talk about that crazy mortgage change!

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Hi Folks,

This isn’t the greatest news you’ve heard but it’s worth taking a look at.  Recently the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, announced four major changes to Canadas’ housing rules.  These changes mainly address concerns on foreign buyers and the high debt of middle class families over housing affordability.  In general, these new mortgage changes are going to decrease the buying power of Canadians by about 20% on every price range. Check out the chart below to really see the differences we are talking about here.

What this means, is that before you go to sell your house, or buy one for the first time, please understand that your champagne wishes may have to recede to your beer budget.  For example at the average annual income of $80,000, without debts and with 5% down payment – your buying power has decreased by almost $100,000.  $91,690 to be exact.  That’s a huge difference and it is directly within the average price range of Edmontonians and their families – sure to affect housing prices in the future.

Worse, is the average person needed about $220,000 to get their family in a townhouse condo (2 storey style) in our market.  This price range has suffered about a $50,000 drop in loan amounts which means buying an entry level townhouse condo is going to be even more hard.

There is a very fine line when you are deciding to buy a property for the first time.  Often a buyer just doesn’t have the down payment to complete the purchase.  Rising house prices make down payments more difficult to obtain.  Mortgage changes make loan applications more difficult to be approved.  Mortgage insurance groups reduce the availability of loans by capping qualification ranges.  Everything is always changing and a person is always subject to those changes.  Most of the time however, it gets more and more difficult to get that approved loan.  So buy when you can, get into home ownership while you are approved and look forward to the gains you can make over the long period.  Real Estate is not instant, nor is it easy to off-load in an emergency.

Shadow banking is most likely set to increase with the changes to regular lending.  Borrowers unable to secure tradition financing sources, will look to alternate sources, many of which are unregulated and outside of federal banking rules.  Uninsured loans at interest rates typically much higher than those provided by banks.

Change #1 – Effective October 17, first time home-buyers with mortgages inured by the CMHC will now undergo a more severe stress test to ensure buyers can still pay for their loan even if the interest rates go up.  This means consumers have less purchasing power.

Change #2 – Starting November 30, new restrictions will be imposed by the government on providing insurance for low-ratio mortgages.  The new criteria will include amortization period of 25 years or less, purchase price of less than $1 Million, the buyers credit score is 600 and the property should be owner-occupied.  This measure is targeted for Vancouver and Toronto markets.

Change #3 – New reporting rules for the primary residence capital gains exemption. The sale of the primary residence must be reported to Canada Revenue Agency.  This measure is to prevent foreign buyers from flipping houses and falsely claiming the tax exemption.

Change #4- The government is launching a public consultation paper on proposals for lenders, such as banks, to take additional risks in the event the insured mortgages go into default, which could mean higher mortgage rates for buyers.

All in all, before your renewal, before moving or before buying it would be advantageous to talk to a trusted mortgage professional about these recent changes and how you will be affected in the future.   If you need to speak with a trusted professional about how you are affected, please do not hesitate to contact me, I would be pleased to let you know who I am recommending these days.

Talk to a professional, contact me today.

Modern Caveman shocks world with his Weird, Refurbished Home.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

I love this creation.  Seriously, who thinks of taking a cave and turning it into a modern home.  In fact, this is a recreation property and he doesn’t live there all the time.  I imagine he’s working on getting his permits, that can always take a lot of time. lol  He built a lot of this by his own hands.  Impressive.  There’s so many details I see through the tour of his home, that show the depth of the thought process at hand.  This is taking the outdoors and putting it inside the home in such a unique way that I have nothing to say but wow, now that’s the Cats Meow.  The best part – can you say rental?!?

Oh and – check out his shower…


The Mammoth Effect an RPR can have on your Home Sale in Edmonton!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

You built a fence, bought a hot tub, added a solar panel, satellite dish or gazebo.  You’re thinking ‘great, extra value in my home’ and that you can sell it for more than your neighbour because your property has more to offer! There could be more value to those items than you realize, especially if you didn’t get the permits, because folks, sometimes what you’ve done, just doesn’t comply with the regulations of the area. In fact, these items can reduce the amount of money your home sells for.  You may have agreed with the Buyer on what they are going to pay, but the final amount you receive will come from the lawyers; along with a term that can become very long, drawn out and frustrating – ‘HOLD BACK’

Real Property Report in Edmonton Alberta

Yes, that’s right, even as your representative, your lawyer may hold back monies from you if your property doesn’t meet the city, county or town codes.  Right inside your listing agreement with your REALTORS brokerage, it reads that your responsibilities as the Seller include:

providing the brokerage ‘with a real property report showing the current state of improvements on the property according to the Alberta Land Surveyors Manual of Standard Practice, with evidence of municipal compliance or non-conformance, within 10 days of signing this agreement, unless the property is a conventional condominium.  Not having this real property report may result in problems upon closing or rescission of the purchase contract.’

So why within 10 days? Time and money is your answer.  It takes time to sort out the problems and fix them.  It takes time to fill out easement or encroachment agreements, it takes time to get approval from your neighbours, it takes time to go to the city and request inspectors to come out and look at the work you’ve done and when something isn’t acceptable or to code it takes even more time and money to solve the problems.

Recently I had the experience of representing a Seller, where her partner had built the fence nearly 30 years ago and her RPR came back saying the fence was non-compliant and it encroached City land on two sides. Nothing came up before the RPR, no one stopped by her house and told her it wasn’t compliant and it had to change; in fact she had no idea until the RPR. Whether it was compliant at the time it was built; I cannot say. After we got the RPR, I took her to the City of Edmonton Planning department to find out what it would cost her to get an encroachment agreement from the city.  Sometimes you can pay a few bucks and make everything right again with a Letter of Consent from the City of Edmonton.  I asked if we could get a ball park idea, just to know if we should take it out, pay for the encroachment agreement or figure out something else.

Now the City was helpful; as they always are and the public servant said “Yes, have a seat, we’ll get an idea and call you back up to the counter”

We sat down and waited…our number was called “B271” we went up and she said “$24,596 or there-abouts.”  Honestly, I was afraid my client was going to faint.  I thought I was going to faint.  Oh My God.

It doesn’t just happen with fences, it happens with pergolas, gazebos, solar panels, hot tubs, swimming pools, satellite dishes and more.

That being said, a lot of REALTORS will tell their Sellers to offer title insurance instead.  If I ask why they are doing so, the usual response is “to save money.”  Will Title Insurance work for you?  I’m not so sure.

Being a REALTOR and working with Sellers and Buyers over the years has taught me a few things, so what have I learned?  I called FCT, First Canadian Title Insurance just the other day to find out some of the finer details about Title Insurance.  Title Insurance is supposed to protect you the Buyer when you aren’t getting an RPR from the seller.  It is made to protect you against costs to remedy a non-compliant item  that may arise in the future.  Here’s what I found interesting, I talked about my seller and asked the following question:

“What is stopping a Seller from throwing out an RPR that is non-compliant and then switching to offer title insurance?”

“Well that would be lying and we wouldn’t offer title insurance on a known issue.”

“Yes it would, but how would you know if the RPR was never submitted?”

“Well the Lawyer would know and we ask at the time that the policy is created if there is an RPR available, and if the lawyer lied, we wouldn’t pay out on a policy like that.”

“Yes, but how would the Lawyer know if the client threw it out before hand and the buyer agreed to accept title insurance.  The lawyer won’t see the purchase contract until after they removed their conditions?”

“Our people would find it, before we pay out a claim we do significant research into it.”

So there you go, what’s meant to protect you, may not protect you.  If you’re buying or selling a property and you don’t want liabilities going across the table with your deal, get a Real Property Report.  It doesn’t have to be compliant – we can cross that bridge when we come to it.  I don’t suggest getting just title insurance.  Get your Real Property Report.  Get it ahead of time.  REALTORS, please prepare your Sellers to sell.

And that’s just another way in…

How you can save thousands on your next home.

Now that’s the Cats Meow.

Can You Unlock Property Secrets by Looking at its’ Condo Fees?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Hi Folks,

I am often told by buyers that they are frustrated with the purchase process of condominiums in Edmonton, Alberta. You see in Edmonton, a client is generally not granted the opportunity to review condominium documents before the buyers write an offer on the property.

The contracts used for MLS® purchases (not most Builders) is created by the lawyers over at the Alberta Real Estate Association and included in a Residential Condominium Property purchase contract is a condition of satisfaction with the condo documents. This is great; as a consumer, you need to know how well the property is being managed and how much money it has in the bank.

You will most likely be waiting for a few days after you negotiated with the Sellers and reached final acceptance before you receive the condo documents. The Sellers will have to request a copy of the documents from the property management group and they will take some time to produce the results.  Even a rush job can lead onto to a week or more, especially in straightening out everything that is needed for the buyer to make an informed decision.  A part of the reason that the Sellers aren’t asked to provide the documents before the offer comes in, is the cost.  To get all the documents necessary, it could cost the Sellers up to 600 dollars and that may not even include a rush service.  Another reason is tied to the information statement which needs to be current to the month that you have written your offer; and that makes it nearly impossible to do ahead of time. (See Sellers Note 1 at the bottom of this post.)

So how do you make an informed decision quickly?

Real Estate is a quick industry and the best homes at the best prices always go right away.  So how do you beat the rest of the public to a smart decision about that particular property and move onto the next one, while maximizing your time spent looking?

Simply put; look at the amount of the condo fees.

High Condo Fees in Edmonton

All Condo are not created equally, you could have a 1000 ft2, 2014 built, apartment styled condominium with condo fees of $175 per month no utilities included.  You could also have a 1000ft2, 1976 built, apartment styled condominium with condo fees of more than $1,100 per month condo fees. What makes the difference in the fees is if; utilities are included, what kind of building it is, how much maintenance costs for that building and the historical as well as professional management of the property.

If those condo fees are high, you can bet they have had to raise the fees to offset future repair and replacement costs.  Sometimes the condo fees get so high they are just as much as your mortgage.  If the condo fees get that high, you will need to be earning a fairly good wage as condo fees are considered a part of debt to the Financer and you will need to be able to cover this cost, plus your mortgage and still have a significant portion of your wages left over for things other than housing.

What is considered High Condo Fees?

Yikes, this is a tough question.  Like I noted earlier, it depends on what is included in your condo fees.  I’m going to talk generals or averages here. 1000 ft2 apartment style – low rise, 2000+ build, with heat, water and power included – maybe $550 per month. Same type of property, no utilities included; maybe $250. 1000 ft2 apartment style – high rise, 1970+ build, with heat, water and power included – maybe $900+ per month. Your 2 storey townhouse condos also known as row housing; probably won’t have utilities included and those condo fees fall in ‘normal’ ranges of $200-$275.  You should know though, that these averages do not include Bare Land Condos.  This is a different type of condominium structure and less exterior maintenance is paid for by the corporation.  It is a type of condominium where you own the land the property is on; not just have exclusive use of it.

So check out those condo fees and use your smarts or your REALTORS® help for knowing if it is even going to look at in the first place. Save yourself time, money and frustration. Not every condo is a welcome choice.

If you are thinking about buying a condo and would like a valuable, subject matter expert on your side; I hope you will give me a call. I’d like the opportunity to help you make an informed decision for your home purchase in Edmonton.  I consider this as one of the ways in …

How to save thousands on your next home in Edmonton. Now that’s the Cats’ Meow.

SELLERS NOTE 1: If you are a Seller, I suggest leaving the Information and financial statements to when you have a negotiated offer in place and ordering the by-laws, property management agreement, full reserve fund study, reserve fund plan, reserve fund study, annual general meeting minutes and the budget when you list your home for sale.

If it Looks Like an Under Priced Condo, Beware of Looming Assessments!

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Hi Folks,

You might be looking at buying a condo these days.  They are an affordable option for many reasons; perhaps you plan to be sailing your boat in another country while you’re in retirement and you don’t want to have to cut the lawn or shovel the snow.  Perhaps you’re new to home ownership, and your funds are limited to the townhouse range of condos.  In any case that you might find yourself in, if you live in Edmonton, you’ve recently heard of the outrage surrounding Oliver Gardens Condominiums and the $56,000 special assessment each owner in the building was issued.This month, I had a very affordable, built in the 90’s condo recently go up for sale, and it sold in 10 days.  That’s it, 10 days. It was listed for $147,000.  It was one of the Savills Condos over by NAIT on 118th ave and 101 Street. I got quite a few calls from the public, wondering about this condo and if it has any special assessments on it.  Thanks CTV and Global, no special assessments or levies here.  The condo fees were reasonable at $308 per month, adjusted last year to make up for a projected shortfall in the future.

Edmonton Special Assessments

Special Assessments for Condos in Edmonton

Condo fees go to the management and operation of the condo and some of your condo fees go into the Reserve Fund.  The Reserve Fund is meant to cover future expenses on the property.  Sometimes though, there just isn’t enough money. Too much maintenance at the end of the money.

A Reserve Fund Study is prepared…

You see, the rules are that every five years a condo board has to have a reserve fund study completed on its’ property. Thanks to the Government, years ago, it was decided that condo corporations were being run into the ground,too many sellers were being foreclosed upon and properties were being under-maintained and under-managed.  So the powers that be decided Reserve Funds were the answer, and to re-visit those reserve fund studies every five years, with a commence-able action plan as a result of the study.

A certified personnel member (hopefully an Engineer) of an accredited organization with a permit to practice will come out and perform a review of all the elements in the property.  Everything from roof top units to parking paint lines is reviewed for deterioration as well as remaining age and assigned a remaining life expectancy.

A Reserve Fund Plan is created…

The results are cross referenced to the expected amount in the reserve fund and both charts are placed together to compare results and see if there will be enough money in the reserve fund when the time is necessary.  These Reserve Plans can be made for 5,10,15,20,25 or even 30 years into the future.

Sometimes, it is easy to cover the shortfall over a large number of years, and a condo board may opt to choose a recommended plan that only increases the condo fees by a small percentage.  Perhaps the fees are increased gradually over a number of years.  Though the worst is that sometimes, a special assessment is needed to cover major repairs that are immediately necessary.  Special assessments are generally not approved just to put money in the bank and gain interest.  I have seen special assessments as low as $200, and I have heard of special assessments at $90,000 here in Edmonton.

Some board OPT and VOTE NOT to complete these studies and surveys because they don’t have the money or feel it is a waste of the owners’ resources.  I’m not sure why they get away with it for so very long; however I have seen with my own eyes, a condo corporation that has not done a reserve fund study for 20 years.

The Vote is Cast by Your Board Members…

That’s right, your friendly neighbours on your Condo Board voted which way to go, how much the special assessment was going to be (within the confines of the Condo By-laws) and out went your notice in the mail.  It will be nearly impossible for you to get a loan to cover the assessment from the banks, unless you can pull some money out of a line of credit, etc.  Hopefully if that doesn’t work, you’ve got enough equity built in the property to sell, cover REALTOR costs and pay off the special assessment.  You will need to as the contract states the Seller is responsible for all special assessments up to the closing date.  If not, the next options aren’t going to get any more pretty.

In the end, it is up to you, BUYER BEWARE.  READ your Condo documents. The Savills Condos turned out okay, but they don’t all go so jolly.

Often when I am showing condos to my clients, I will find someone in the hallways and ask them if they live in the property, for how long, if they have any problems with the condo board, if repairs are coming up on the building and what the reserve fund is it.

Whether it is a high number or low, 99% of the people I run into can’t tell me what’s going on with the maintenance of their building or where the reserve fund is it.  Why they don’t know is foreign to me.  In fact the last woman I ran into, who had lived at her home for under a month responded with:

“Oh I don’t know, all those documents are still with my Lawyer.”

The best part, when we got to the main floor, the Reserve fund amount of $825,000 which is awesome (Go Carrington build, Promenade Eaux Claires) was posted on the Condominium board, right outside the elevator.

Let your Lawyer rad your documents, sure.  Let your Lawyer give their advice to you about the future of the property.  Get your REALTOR to help you.  I know I can’t sleep at night unless my client is making a solid investment that I CAN COUNT on.  Just read those documents for yourself folks, know what’s going on, be involved, be a board member, send your proxies to the meetings and remember, even one voice can make a difference.

How to save thousands on your next home.

What would you do to Own a Cabin in the Woods?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

The recreational property market has had a strong start and is expected to remain active throughout the Canadian summer. Find out what is driving sales in the 2015 RE/MAX Recreational Property. RE/MAX also examined what Canadians would consider sacrificing in order to afford their dream cottage or cabin. Interestingly, giving up destination vacations is listed as number one on the list. Another notable finding was that 21 percent of Canadians would downsize their main residence in order to purchase a cottage, cabin or ski chalet demonstrating that Canadians are looking for alternative ways to finance their dream properties.


Download you cpoy of the report from Dropbox here.

Highlights of this year’s report:

  • The majority of Canadians prefer long weekends at the cottage or cabin over big city getaways
  • The low Canadian Dollar and foreign buyers are creating demand in well-established Canadian recreational property markets
  • The recreational property market buying season has had a strong start and is expected to remain active throughout the summer as continued low interest rates and consumer demand fuel activity

The low Canadian dollar is having a positive effect on local recreational property markets as Canadians are choosing to stay in Canada where their dollar will go further. Some are selling US properties that appreciated in recent years to take advantage of the exchange rate. The low Canadian dollar is also attracting foreign buyers to well-established recreational property markets across the country including Whistler, Tofino, Muskoka, Shediac, and PEI. Regions reporting an impact from the low Canadian dollar but no increase in foreign buyers include Shuswap, Lake Winnipeg, Penticton, and Thunder Bay.


What is Up with the Edmonton Housing Market?

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Don’t Get Too Caught Up in the National Storylines.

Spring Mewsletter 2015 by the Cats Meow at Remax Real Estate

Edmonton Housing Market 2015

Spring 2015 Edmonton Housing Market

I have been wondering how to tell you folks where we’re at for this year; following the news, the stats and all the talk  has led me to do a lot of research into what is really going on in Edmonton and with  specific regards to housing.

‘They’ talk about consumer confusion about our market and I can see why.  Even inside the industry, not very much makes sense to me, everyone has a different statistic and  everyone claims to be right. However, repeatedly I find myself disproving more of what our industry experts ‘quote.’

The fact is, Edmonton saw another year of growth, higher than the average of Canada, and we have higher wages, as well as lower unemployment rates. The condo market saw more than 8% increases than the average for the rest of our country.  We are still poised for growth.  Maybe not leaps and bounds growth as we are used to, but positive growth must not be confused with the word ‘recession.’

As I write this, I have two articles in front of me in opposition of the other, both by headline newspapers, one calling for an excellent spring market and the other calling for a recession. It’s ridiculous what they get away with reporting, all for the sake of content and increased frequency publications.

The Yukon saw a 22% drop in home prices year over year and the local news is reporting a ‘softening’ of the market, due to the fact that the market was inflated over what was stable.  Yet, no one there is running for the hills and home owners are still selling and buying and owners are still making profits.

According to CREA, The Canadian Real Estate Association, of which I am a member; the average home price in Edmonton is still well within the  means of the average family income and average family debt.  Home owners are still listing their homes at higher rates than what they think they can sell for, because that is just how real estate is played.

Real Estate has always been a long term investment that can set you up when you invest your money wisely.  I’m glad to be a part of your past and I look forward to helping you in the future. Now that’s the Cats’ Meow.