buying a home in Calgary
Initial Perspective

We’ve worked with countless buyers over the years who have been looking to buy a house in Calgary, and have had the opportunity to counsel them on a proven strategy to discover their best home.  When we first sit down with home buyers, we like to first get their perspective on how they envision finding a home. The thing is, it’s not always an intuitive process. Most have a list of features they want in a home, but don’t know how to best translate their wants and needs to a systematic home evaluation process. This is the start of the home buying process.


Real Estate BUYING 101

In addition to answering questions about real estate, we get our clients’ initial thoughts on what they’re looking for, we engage in a thorough ‘Calgary Real Estate 101’ to identify various aspects that enhance value in properties, specifically in Calgary. The concepts are abstract though intuitive and by the end of the session, the drivers of value in the local real estate market are easily understood.


What about market conditions?

Market conditions are an important factor in any decision to buy a home, and we ensure that the past, current, and future market conditions are explained in a simple manner.  Knowing where we sit in the real estate cycle allows our buyers to make better decisions about timing and their investment.


The Process

Combining basic real estate concepts with market analysis, we’ve developed a process which enables our buyers to make intelligent and informed decisions about where they live and how to best invest their hard earned money. This approach has led to countless buyers making the best decision possible to achieve their goals, and gain and retain as much equity as possible during every swing in the market.


Your Search

Now that our clients understand the value and the market, and we understand their needs and wants, we mesh these concepts with a systematic process to produce a unique home search for our clients. If you would like to begin your search early you can visit this great property search tool.

If your worried about the costs of using a Realtor as a buyer, don’t be, it’s free! Here you can find more information.


Calgary real estate market

The current decline in the 2016 Calgary real estate market is well documented, yet in every market cycle there are always opportunities to be discovered. Here is where we suggest you focus for opportunities in the 2016 Calgary real estate market and beyond: Continue reading ..

Have you ever wondered if living near transit routes affects the price of your home?  We’ve compiled a list of the major travel routes throughout Calgary, as well as C-Train routes, and the upcoming proposed Green Line route.  With benchmark housing prices included, you can see how your home/neighbourhood stacks up to the rest of the city, or if you’re looking at buying/selling you can see neighbourhoods that will meet your price points.


C-Train Map Website


Calgary MLS® Community Map
Effective on January 5, 2016 the Calgary Real Estate Board will be updating their Calgary MLS® community boundaries and names to align with the existing City of Calgary communities.  The changes have come about in an effort to increase database integrity and eliminate naming communities that do not formally exist as  formally recognized by the City.  This will enable both CREB® and the City of Calgary to better share, compare, and analyze housing data.  Generally speaking, the ‘estate’ communities have disappeared and are incorporated into the surrounding communities. Continue reading ..

kensingtonClassified the ‘Village in the city’ and trending as #outsidetheordinary, Kensington is a hot spot for Calgary’s young and diverse cultural population.  Located in the inner-city on the border of the Bow River and the foot of the escarpment beneath SAIT and ACAD and bounded by Sunnyside and West Hillhurst. This small community is rebuilding itself, working hard to promote art, culture, cuisine and more. Kensington appeals to the young, creative, and the foodies of Calgary with it’s new developments creating more retail opportunities and adding new shops. Kensington is always electric and full of new life. Just one of the many reasons why Calgary is such a #coolcity to live in.


Thanks to all our clients and partners for a brilliant 2014!  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Sano, Minette, Dan and Kerryann.

I got involved in the solar energy back in 1978 when it was a new and exciting technology. What I discovered was that using modern materials and techniques was new, but the operating principal behind solar were dead simple and age old. We designed thermal solar collectors for domestic hot water and pool heat, a greenhouse for northern climates, solar food dryers and radiant heating systems. We participated in a lot of unique projects such as double envelope homes, active and passive solar homes, a solar art gallery, earth sheltered homes, and other cool projects. That industry dried up in 1981 when oil prices came down and NEP came in. At that time the cost of a solar electricity was around 10 times the present cost so we barely ventured into that arena. Today Solar Electric is the ticket and the cost of a system promises to pay you back in roughly 10 years. That’s not a bad investment, but its not the reason I’m building a solar home. Since my venture in Solar I worked building concrete structures (high-rises, hospitals etc) and then spent the past 30 years in real estate sales and development. I learned a few lessons about economics and the most poignant one was that a penny saved is worth more than a penny earned (or the potential to earn) for a few reasons. Firstly in business and life what you make is not your profit – you first must pay your overhead, wages, operating costs and then taxes to make a profit at the end of the day. This ratio is usually about 1-6 so a penny that you save (or don’t need to make) is actually equivalent to 6 earned pennies. Saving is better than earning. It also aligns with a philosophy of sustainability and minimalism which just happens to agree with me.
The other gem we can glean from this is that saving or not having to spend a penny on something is a certainty with no risk attached to the process. That is, if I save a penny I am certain to have saved a penny, but if I plan to make 6 cents there are risks and variables in the marketplace that can conspire to reduce my profit to less than a penny at days end. There is no risk when you don’t spend a penny – you just don’t. As you may know, many investors, institutions and the public pay a great premium to reduce risk (insurance policies, safer investment vehicles etc) yet we seem to minimize the no-risk plan of simply saving and reducing our consumption.
Building a low energy home provides a secure, no-risk hedge against inflation and is actually a very good investment if we account for the absence of risk derived from the savings. Coupled with a retirement strategy reducing and controlling your future outputs makes a lot of sense and provides peace of mind for a secure retirement.
With all those reasons who wouldn’t build solar? But all the above reasons are not why I’m building a solar home. The main reason has a lot to do with simply doing the right thing for the environment and our community. Because it is in a pretty great neighborhood I will be using it as a demonstration home in the hopes that more people and builders will incorporate these principals into their projects.
The process has been interesting and we’ve learned a lot.
From these lessons I will be crafting a few further articles to share our experiences, good and bad in the hopes that we can help others thinking of building a low energy, high performance home.
Stay tuned for more to come in the next few weeks.

sales-by-price-range-sept-2014Strong Condo sales aided by single family sales in the sub $1M range buoyed Calgary real estate market over the summer months. Buyers will appreciate that a gradual increase in inventory levels has created more selection and choice along with a less hectic pace to the process. Overall we are seeing the market calm down from the bell market we experienced over the past few years. While the forecast for jobs and in migration slows moderately over the next few years there still remains plenty of fuel for growth in the real estate market. Sectors that remain in hot demand are moderate priced homes and townhomes in walkable communities or good transit accessible areas. We also witness an increase in demand for moderate homes suitable for retirement lifestyles with amenities such as single level flats, accessibility (elevators), moderate sizes, low maintenance and security.



inventory-sept-2014We also are witnessing a greater demand for green and low energy features that are environmentally sensitive. Expect this trend to continue to grow as utilities consume a greater portion of the homeowner’s budget and concern for the environment becomes mainstream. Areas of the market we witness declining are large homes with less efficient maintenance requirements generally on acreages or not within walkable communities and usually over $1M price range. Looking forward we expect that the greater number of condo starts will begin to over supply this market over the next two year time frame. Also an increase in the cost of construction will place upward pressure on prices squeezing margins for developers. Look for a trend to more compact efficiently designed homes with a green influence along with new solutions for affordable housing including laneway housing, secondary suites and new density options for single family developers.

For detailed information of the Calgary Real estate market or a complimentary consultation call Sano Stante Real Estate at 403-289-3435

IMG_0088My relationship to secondary suites began before I did. Ortona is a town in Italy that Canadian forces liberated and my parents were resided in the adjacent town of Fossacesia. WW2 left the area in ruins and it held little promise for a young couple to grow a family. When a relative sent news from Calgary and partly due to their fondness for Canadians, they set sail for Halifax. Arriving in Calgary with a few dollars to their name, they discovered accommodation was scarce and at a premium. They found a makeshift suite in the attic of a two storey home offered by a fellow immigrant. It was sparse and barely insulated, but in relative terms from the war-torn area they had just left, they were very happy to have the accommodation. My Mom would comment later in life that while living in that hobbled suite, they had some of the best times of their life.
Sometimes adversity is a blessing. During the war my father was interned in a prisoner of war camp, but the experience had taught him to speak and write English. As a result Dad got on quite well here and ultimately sponsored many of the Italian immigrants who wanted to start a new life in Canada. My parents would often share their suite with new arrivals until they landed on their feet and before long they were able to purchase a home on Child Avenue where I began my life. We always had a relative or friend living in the basement of that home which helped them all get started financially – it was just the perfectly normal thing to do.
A few years passed and my parents purchased a lot where they built a new home. It was a traditional raised bungalow perched high above Bridgeland with a walkout basement and a separate entrance for a secondary suite. At first we lived in the suite while my Dad finished the larger main floor area. In those days you paid for things as you had the money, so it took some time to build and pay for the home but in the meanwhile the suite provided comfortable accommodation. Once the main floor was finished we moved up and they set out to rent the suite. With no shortage of new immigrants moving to Calgary the suite hosted young couples from France, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Italy. As a child I was a curious participant in every activity around our home. I’m sure that I was mostly a nuisance to our tenants, but I always participated in their activities building or fixing everything imaginable. I fondly recall rebuilding engines, a ski-do (from scratch), and I was always made to feel like I was a big help. These wonderful people who resided in our suite became a part of my life and extended family. Outside our home our immediate neighborhood was almost entirely a community of new immigrants; Italian, Austrian, English, German, Polish blended with First Nations. We never thought twice about helping each other for any matter whatsoever. And it was more than perfectly normal to have a suite or let a room to someone who needed a place.
My parents always charged below market rent, so most of our basement renters stayed until they saved up a down-payment for their own home, which they all did. After they moved out we would see them nearly as often, as they frequently stopped by on weekends for dinner and a friendly game of cards.
In time, as the family aged, my parents preferred more privacy and the suite lent itself to teenage independent living. It was also a handy place for a rock-band to rehearse while shutting out those pesky parents. At times it just remained vacant, but always available for extended visitors or a returning child. Later still it would have provided perfect accommodation for a caregiver for my parents.
You see, I’ve always had nothing but good, positive experiences from secondary suites. To me they are a device that enables us to interact positively and directly with our neighbors – helping one another as we naturally would. It connects us and weaves a tighter fabric into our community. Suites provide adaptable spaces that can serve many purposes and extend the utility and value of our homes. (Did you know that the latest trend in home building is adaptable design?) They extend the life of our residence as an investment, allowing for greater return. They allow a new home buyer to purchase a home worth $200,000 more for the same monthly cost due to the rental income. They provide facility for people aging in place, saving both the resident and our government the cost of health care facilities. They provide affordable housing for new immigrants, students, temporary workers and caregivers. They provide elderly a resident eyes and ears to help look after the place (and help boost their retirement income).
When we look at affordable housing we often imagine a housing continuum from most to least affordable. It begins with shared accommodation and boarding houses (mostly extinct now); then secondary suites; apartments, townhomes and finally single family homes. Today, Calgarian’s have a dire need for affordable housing. With the cost of building at an all-time high it seems improbable that we will find a solution to construct apartments or townhomes that are affordable. If this accommodation does not exist, then the increased cost of living is passed on to employers and ultimately consumers and taxpayer – so we all pay or we simply don’t attract new workers and immigration and the accompanying burden this places on our economy.
We have a solution to affordable housing that exists today and costs little to implement. The answer has been right under our nose and yet somehow we have buried it, creating new rules that confuse and class existing suites illegal. And through nothing short of NIMBYism we have restricted the development of new suites. There is no question that the suites need to be safe and we would never argue on issues of safety, but somehow claims of unsafe suites and parking have been grossly exaggerated. A vocal minority has helped perpetrate these urban myths without substance and stymied an open debate where we lay the facts on the table. This issue over secondary suites now appears to have become a political dilemma for Councillors and we owe kudos to those who have shown leadership on this issue. Our City needs this accommodation and any outstanding issues can all be easily addressed but we all need to give our politicians the permission to do the right thing. The right thing now is to legalize suites in all zones. To appease the residents in single family zones, simply adding the provision that in existing single family areas suites shall be allowed only in owner occupied homes settles the score. Calgary is one of the only Cities in North America with such a restrictive secondary suite policy. It’s time we progressed back to our heritage, where suites are embraced as a vital and necessary part of our community.