A blog cannot deal with all aspects of a subject and is not intended to replace professional advice. It's purpose is to highlight information and identify areas of possible interest. Anyone wishing to discuss this blog or to make any comments or suggestions about this blog is invited to do so by either posting comments or emailing me directly.


Let's assume you're buying a home and will have a $300,000 mortgage that is amortized over 25 years. With an interest rate of say, 3.99%, your monthly payments would be $1,576. Over the course of that 25 years you will end up paying a total of $472,930 for your home (assuming the interest rate doesn't change on the term renewals).
Many people earn their paycheque every two weeks. Do you? What about this: instead of paying $1,576 once a month, would you be in a position to pay 1/2 of the $1,576 (or $788) every two weeks? Sounds almost the same doesn't it?
In reality, by paying 1/2 your monthly mortgage payment every two weeks instead of the full amount once a month you end up paying two extra payments (or 1 extra month) every single year. This is just like your paycheques - twice a year you get an "extra" paycheque.
If you're paid every two weeks and you pay your mortgage every two weeks, it actually helps with your cash-flow and money planning.
Not only that,...
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It's one of the most disappointing things that a homebuyer can experience: suddenly having their home loan denied because of something they have done in the weeks or maybe even just days before closing.

These are the 10 most costly mistakes to avoid in the process of acquiring financing for a new home. Follow these 10 commandments and the financing process will go smoothly:
  1. Do not omit debts or other liabilities from your loan application.
  2. Do not cause any more inquiries into your credit after you have made the loan application.
  3. Do not buy furniture or major appliances – not yet! Not until you have taken possession of your new home.
  4. Do not buy or lease a car, truck or SUV before you take possession of your new home -- or you might be living in it.
  5. Do not change jobs, become self-employed, or quit your job until you have taken possession of your new home.
  6. Do not charge your credit cards excessively or let your accounts fall behind.
  7. Do not spend the money you have set aside for your...
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Of the more than 120,000 Ontarians who used a REALTOR® to buy or sell a home last year, many did so without fully understanding the expertise and skills REALTORS® provide, says a new Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) survey. Conducted by Leger Marketing, the survey says only 10 per cent of Ontarians who have used a REALTOR® know that REALTORS® are trained in environmental issues, and even fewer (six per cent) are aware that family law is part of a REALTOR®'s education.
Barbara Sukkau, president of OREA, says, “Most clients do not realize that REALTORS® are aware of family law issues when selling a family home during a divorce, or that REALTORS® can advise about home inspections based on our knowledge of building construction in the province.”
Even though people who have used a REALTOR® in the past were not aware of specific areas of a REALTOR®'s education, they do recognize the ethical integrity of the profession as...
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What to watch for during the home inspection process and how to use this process to ensure that the home you wish to purchase does not have major repair issues.

You certainly don't want to find skeletons in the closet after you move into your new house. Even the most beautiful home may have big problems hidden behind the walls, in the attic, or the foundation. And some might be serious safety concerns. That's why it's important for buyers to have a third-party, licensed inspector to look at the house while they still have the option to back out of the deal or the ability to negotiate repairs with the seller.
Now, it's important for buyers to know that it's the home inspector's job to be extremely picky about everything, even anything remotely wrong with the house. The typical inspection report is page long and can look scary. What you're really for though is the condition of the major systems of the home, and anything that may be a safety issue. If those do pop up in a home inspection,...
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Know the True Value Of Your Next Home – Is the home worth the price, or not?

When buying just about anything, most people compare the prices of things to make sure they aren't paying too much. But you may be surprised to find out that it's uncommon for a real estate agent to provide this information to their client when they're buying a home. Sellers almost always get a Comparative Market Analysis when selling their home, but when you mention a Buyer's Market Analysis you often get a puzzled look.
A Buyer's Market Analysis, or BMA, is used to help you - the buyer - determine the market value and price of the potential home that you would like to purchase. I use a BMA because it is just as important, if not more so, to determine the market value of the home and whether the market in that neighbourhood is going up or down. This can only be done by creating a thorough BMA. This will help you determine a reasonable price to offer the seller and how much how much negotiation leverage...
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A Home Appraisal is a Critical Part of the Home Buying Process: What to do every time to get good appraisals.

One of the most important steps of the home buying process is the appraisal. If the appraised value does not meet or exceed the sales prices, the entire transaction can fall apart! That's why it is important to work with a fully trained and experienced real estate agent whose going to make sure that you aren't overpaying for a home. Here's how it works: In a home sale, the lender - for the buyer - is going to order the appraisal. Now since the property is usually the only colateral for the mortgage loan, the lender wants to make sure that the property is actually worth what is being paid for it. If the appaisal comes in below the sales price, the lender will refuse to fund the loan or ask for additional monies for the downpayment to make up that shortfall. Every lender has their own pool of licensed appraisers that they choose from at random. The chosen appraisers job is to determine...
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The MLS® System Housing Price Index (HPI) is coming to Calgary in February, as part of a nationwide rollout involving boards in Canada’s largest cities. It’s an exciting new tool that CREB® has developed in cooperation with several other boards and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA®).
The average price in market can vary widely from month to month, depending on volume shifts in various price segments. Reporting the average price can sometimes falsely exaggerate trends, causing confusion with clients and real estate professionals alike.
The MLS® HPI is a more consistent and reliable barometer of pricing trends than average and median home prices. The average and median prices are affected by changes in the mix of homes sold and can swing dramatically from month-to-month (based on types and prices of properties that are sold in a given month). This new monthly price measure overcomes these shortcomings.
Compared to all other Canadian...
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I was fortunate enough to thoroughly enjoy yesterday's Annual Forecast Breakfast and Conference for local Calgary Real Estate REALTORS®. I am always amazed at how few real estate agents actually attend this conference as this is the time of year that everyone is tweeking their 2012 business plans that they created last fall. Or they should be.
I thought that I would take a few moments to share the forecast since this is the most requested content at this time of year.
Obviously, making forecasts are difficult - especially in the turbulent world of economics these days. For the last several years the forecast has been grossly optimistic that they were almost laughable based on economic events of the time. I'm sure there were tons of blog or forum comments questioning how a bunch of professionals could come up with a forecast that was so self-serving when the economists were clearly giving substantially different viewpoints.
Here's a recent example:
Last year's...
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A house is often one of the biggest investments most Canadians ever make, so it’s important to plan ahead, think about what you need in a home ,and what you can afford. Here are some of the mistakes that first-time buyers often make:

Not getting pre-approved before home shopping

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a fundamental first-step in the buying home process and signals to your agent that you’re serious about buying. Many short-sighted agents won't even start providing you with services until you are formally pre-approved to purchase. Once you are formally approved, keep in mind that the amount they communicate to you is the absolute maximum amount the lender feels you can afford for mortgage principal and interest based on your income, expenses and credit score. This figure doesn’t account for other expenses you may face such as: renovations or emergency home repair, as well as regular household costs such as food, clothing, entertainment, transportation and...
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A Buyer's Representative can help you decide.

The decision to purchase a home is a highly personal one, based on both tangible and intangible factors. Beyond your personal situation, local market conditions, financing costs, and future expectations must also be evaluated.
The following list of questions can help you decide if you are ready to move forward with a home purchase. An Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR®) can help you sort through these issues and provide essential local market perspectives. Most will offer this initial consultation free of charge.

Purchasing Considerations

  • If you purchase a home, how long do you expect to live there?
  • What can you afford to pay each month for housing related expenses?
  • What are the total costs of home ownership? This may include:
    • Mortgage payments (Principal + interest; based on various interest rate and term assumptions)
    • Property taxes
    • Homeowner's insurance
    • Utilities
    • Maintenance costs
    • Any other special fees - like home owner's ...
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Recently, I had a client ask me whether or not being close to high voltage transmission lines would negatively impact a home's value. The short answer is definitely: Yes...
After much research that I had completed a year ago, I couldn't find any definitive scientific proof that power lines have any detrimental effects on health even with serveral decades worth of research studies.  I encourage you to do similar on-line similar research. The original concern appears to have been caused by a single article published in the New Yorker magazine that brought it to international attention based on a research paper. With that being said, that original magazine article and the media frenzie it created are still in the back of many people's minds. Of course, perception is reality for many and they see these structures and are concerned. So, is it safe to assume that there is a stigma associated with high voltage power lines being too close to a house or a neighbourhood? –...
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Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Housing Market Outlook for 2012— Calgary

This Outlook report for Calgary is published semi-annually and offers forecasts and analyses of trends in the new, resale and rental housing markets. For the new home market, housing starts and price changes are examined in detail, while the resale section presents sales activity, average prices, and listings. Analysis of the rental market focuses on vacancy rates, average rents and related forecasts. An overview and forecast of key economic indicators is also detailed, along with other factors affecting the local economy and housing market.
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Free Real Estate Apps to Ramp Up Your Home Search!

Modern technology has given us wonderful tools that can make our lives easier in so many ways and real estate is no different.
Most people know they can search the Calgary MLS® System on the website of their favourite REALTOR®, however you have more power at your fingertips and on your iPhone, iPad or even an Android Smartphone than you probably realized! Here is some info on a very cool, free application that once installed, combines real time GPS capability from your Smartphone with the Calgary MLS® System, allowing you to search thousands of listings while on the move: quickly, easily and instantly!
What’s so unique about this?
If you're a serious home buyer, it brings an entirely new dimension to looking for your new home. Once activated, the system uses GPS technology to create a map showing you all current listings within a 1 kilometre radius of your current location.
See a home you like...
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Real Estate Market Forecast for 2012

In 2011, there were 13,186 single-family MLS sales in Calgary, up 9.06 per cent from the previous year while the average sale price increased by 1.14 per cent to $466,402. There were 5,382 condo sales, up 3.98 per cent, but the average price dipped by 0.94 per cent to $287,172.
Dan Sumner, economist with ATB Financial in Calgary, described the local housing market in 2011 as “slightly disappointing.”
“We definitely saw a rise in sales from 2010 but sales still remain quite slow compared to 10-year averages ... Prices have been flat for now 2 years and it really continued along in 2011,” he said.
Sumner said he’s cautiously optimistic for 2012.
“Overall the Canadian housing market in general I wouldn’t say it’s in a place where I’d want to put a lot of money right now if I had to bet on it,” he said. “But as far as housing markets in Canada go, I think the ones...
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It had been speculated that at the end of 2011 we would see an all-time record for real estate listing expirations. I really don't know if it was a record (since I couldn't find any historical data), but there sure were an awful lot of expirations. Considering 2011 was almost as a bad a year as 2010 for real estate sales (the worst year for real estate sales the last 10 years), this would make a lot of sense.
Here are some numbers as of last night for property listings within the City of Calgary:
  • There were 610 property listings expired in the last 2 days (15.1% of the Active Listings)
  • There were 677 property listings expired in the last 7 days (16.7% of the Active Listings)
  • Additionally, 119 property listings had their expiration dates changed. (Presumably extended)
Generally, there are a lot of properties taken off the market in mid-December (just prior to the holiday season) but this year the magic date seemed to be December 31. 
What do you think of these...
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Today, the REALTORS® of the Victoria Real Estate Board officially began a 90-day pilot project on Designated Agency.
Effective June 1, 2012, all REALTORS® in British Columbia must be practising designated agency in order to submit listings to the MLS® system. This decision by the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) is based on their observation that when two industry professionals in the same brokerage represent a buyer and seller in the same transaction they are not and have not been practising common law agency correctly; rather their practices are more aligned with the designated agency model. As a consequence, documentation available on REALTOR®Link and documentation required for MLS service agreements will be designated agency documents.
Beginning January 1, 2012, a 90-day pilot project for members of the Victoria Real Estate Board will begin. Full implementation across British Columbia takes place June 1, 2012.
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Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.