Category: Condos (7)

MLS-listingsIt’s difficult for any Home Buyer to make a final decision until they have been exposed to ALL the available Real Estate Listings and be assured that they did not miss a better home. Today your real estate agent has a host of technology available to assist Home Buyers in their search. Properly deployed, these technologies ensure that all available listings are at your disposal and that a Buyer is not overburdened or confused by viewing property that does not fit their criteria. Your REALTOR® has access to your local Multiple Listing System (MLS®) where they post available listings for other cooperating agents to view and sell. This is a local private database which is available to REALTOR® members of organized real estate. For example, members of the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) host a local database of available listings from their over 5,000 REALTOR® members. These REALTORS® are required to abide by rules governing their use of data, business ethics and how they cooperate. This system enables members to have access to all the new listings immediately when they are entered into the system . Access to this system ensures that you have the most up to date information and assures that you are seeing all the listings Real Estate Listings currently available on the MLS®.

Your agent should be able to set up a custom search for you that will email you this information immediately. Alternately, there are many sites that allow to you locate new listings manually or allow you to sign up for automatic updates. Armed with this information and a great Real Estate Agent, you can be assured to stay on top of all the new listings, the minute they come on to the market and not be overburdened by information on homes that do not fit your criteria.

Wondering what YYC real estate is doing in 2013? We checked out the latest trends and  hot spots to keep you riding the wave.

  1. Tighter Inventory and a faster moving market: While the rest of the world took a real estate holiday the Calgary real estate market has been chugging along quite well (thank you very much) and steadily chewing up any over supply of  inventory left over from the 07 bump. Inventory has been steadily dropping across all categories but most noticeably in the single family mid-range market.
  2. Gentrification is the new normal: Mature, inner- city communities and those with plenty of walkable amenities are blushing with all the attention they’re getting. Buyers are not shy about knocking down modest homes on good lots or renovating homes that have the bones and adequate floor plate.
  3. Mortgage rates will remain low: However, banks have not opened up the taps to ease the flow of cash to new buyers. This is keeping the brakes on the market nationally and puts a squeeze on first time buyers or those who need to refinance. This keeps a lid on the entry level market but upper end buyers have capital so expect some cautious expansion in the premium and luxury arenas.
  4. An ample supply of starter homes and apartments: Condo prices rose the least over any other sector this past year due to a fairly competitive market and a good supply of new developments. Developers are upbeat and many national developers are focusing their effort in Calgary bringing some fresh products and new innovation to this market.
  5. Price Increases will be moderate for Condos: The condo markets experienced a 3% increase last year. Expect that this steady price increase will continue and likely accelerate this year. Rising construction costs and the depletion of cheaper land will bear on the prices as developers have nowhere to go except pass on these increases to buyers.
  6. Rental Boom: There, we said the B word, and it applies right now to the rental market. A tighter mortgage market lends to a better rental market. It also appears that many of the new local hires are provided a leased property to supplement their 2 or 3 year employment contracts. As a result, the market for both bare and furnished rentals has boomed over the past couple years. This had the positive effect of absorbing some excess inventory that Buyers purchased in 07, and keeping many properties off the market that otherwise would be currently available for sale. Be cautious to purchase investment property based on inflated rental rates unless you have good reason to believe they are  sustainable. Keep an eye on this trend, as it will be interesting to see what our real estate market will look like in 2015-16 when many of these rentals come back to market.
  7. Bedroom Communities are wide awake: Developers have discovered that it’s cheaper and easier to develop in neighboring communities than more expensive and onerous Calgary subdivisions. With City Hall levying higher taxes on suburban builders to more reflect the real cost of services they tap into, Developers are voting with their feet and developing where they can get the best leverage. This means more focus on these bedroom communities outside the City and that’s where we saw much of the action this past year. Expect this to continue in the short term until these bedroom communities start to realize they face the same challenges as Calgary (and implement similar solutions to pay for infrastructure).
  8. Infills get better: Attached is the new normal and three storey infills become more common. Accompanying this trend, look for builders to provide (roughed in) elevators as a new standard to accommodate a broader demographic of Buyer. Cottage homes above garages will receive more attention, as well as underground basement access from the home to the detached garage. These tunnels can be used for additional space, storage, wine rooms and such and don’t add to your development footprint.

For more insights into the Calgary real estate market or your Calgary neighborhood contact us

calgary-sunsetCalgary real estate resembled a more vibrant market in 2012 with a good kick start in the early months of spring and finished the year with strong, yet cautious momentum. This sales trend was most noticed in the Luxury home category which picked up dramatically in the spring and has recently coasted into a bit of a lull. The mid and lower end home market gained traction and has calmed in recent months but remains the bread winner. A drop in the number of available MLS listings in this low/mid category has kept the supply in check and prices relatively firm. Condo apartment prices crept up 3% year to date and the recent influx of new condo builds is maintaining a good supply of product and holding the prices competitive. Continue reading ..

Multiple Offers

Multiple Offers

While you may think that receiving two or more offers on your home is a great situation it actually presents some disadvantages. For properties that sell with a single offer, the fallout rate is 10 percent. For properties where there are two or  more offers, the fallout rate increases to 50 percent. The reason there is such a significant difference in closing  rates is that Buyers often feel they were unduly pressured by the multiple-offer situation. After Buyers have time to reflect upon the situation, they often get cold feet sensing they were pressured or paid too much. To minimize the fallout and improve your chances of success here are a few tips on how to best handle multiple offers when you are the Seller.

1. Try to have a Manager present. 

Your Agent’s company may have a variation on this policy; still it is good practice to request a Manager or third party be present. The Manager may ask the buyers’ agents and you to come to their office since they will be overseeing the multiple-offer process. This gives your representative Agent the best control of the situation as well as insuring that your Agent will have all the tools they need to handle the  situation.

2. It may be legal to shop your offers, but is it the right thing to do?

Whether it is legal or not to tell the Buyers how much the competing offers actually are, it may be simply unethical to disclose the  contents of competing offers to others. First, ask your Agent about the regulations in your area. Even if you do have the right to disclose the other offers, creating a bidding war may often results in buyer remorse that can increase the odds of your sale falling apart later. Instead, ask all Buyers to bring back their best offer.  This increases the probability that your deal will actually close.

3. Logistics.

Your Agent should explain the presentation guidelines to each party who  presents their offer prior to hearing the offer. This includes deadlines for counteroffers and how they will be presented. If the buyers’ agents are presenting  their offers in person, allow them to present their offers privately, one at a  time.

4. It’s the sellers’ house, and it’s the sellers’ decision.

You (the Seller) decide which offer you want to accept, or if you want to counter all the offers. If you decide to make a counter-offer, you should only counter one offer at a time.  Although Sellers may counter offers any way you choose, be  advised that if you make too aggressive a counter-offer it increases the possibility to have both sets of buyers walk away from the situation. Remain sensible about the real value of the property in light of your apparent windfall of interest.

5. When the Listing Agent has their own offer.

If your Listing Agent has their own offer on the property, ensure that you receive a prior explanation of Agency and how all the parties are being represented. In these instances it is common to have the Brokerage Manager present to ensure that other Buyers had their offers presented in an unbiased fashion.

6. Avoid selling your Home twice.

If you have an existing pending offer that is subject to a Buyer’s condition (ex. sale of their home) and that allows you to continue to market the property, or if you choose to accept a backup offer, ensure that you insert the correct language in your offer to protect you from selling it to two parties. Make certain that you (the seller) accept any subsequent offers with a written provision that your acceptance is conditional upon the collapse of the existing pending offer.

7. Don’t make it a race.

Have all parties agree on when to reconvene to consider the  buyer’s responses to the seller’s counteroffer. Turning a multiple-offer negotiation into a race doesn’t benefit the seller and it greatly increases the  likelihood that the transaction won’t close. Usually 18-24 hours is sufficient.

8. Ask for the Buyer’s best offer.

Advise the Buyer that the Seller will be making his final decision on the multiple offers at this second meeting. Ask the Buyer to bring back their best offer.  If you need to clean up some minor points, an  additional counter may be appropriate.

9. No verbal negotiations.

Always make sure that everything is done in writing. Sometimes in a single offer situation the Agents agree on the terms until they can physically meet to sign the documents, but this is only a trust condition between the Agents, is not legally binding and can be precarious. Furthermore, Agents should not sign on behalf of the  Seller except with prior written authority– always best to use one of the digital document signing services, scan and email it, or even fax it.

10. Proceed with caution.

If you have a counter-offer out and you receive a new offer that is better than the one on which you are negotiating, you have two options: rescind the current offer or wait until it expires. In some cases, a better course of action may be to allow the existing counter offer to expire and inform both Buyers that they are now in a competing offer situation, and to present their best offers.

When the market is ripe for multiple offers there are many (more than the above) tactics that a Seller can use to ensure that they extract the best price while ensuring their sale closes without further issue. There can be as many permutations of these situations that can arise as exist tactics, and by far the best strategy is to have the most experienced Agent on your side. In a heated market (that generates multiple offers) is where the real value of an experienced Agent proves out.  Call Sano Stante Real Estate Marketing and put over 31 years of expert knowledge and experience to work for you.

Calgary’s East Village has just launched their first two residential projects bounded by the new Riverwalk. Call us for exclusive access to the front of the line of these two developments.

RiverWalk is a transformative amenity for East Village, the 4 kilometers of RiverWalk will link key city neighbourhoods.  Beginning in Chinatown, RiverWalk follows along the Bow through East Village to the confluence of the Elbow River, then flows south toward Stampede.

Phase I of RiverWalk completed in late 2010 and has provided many Calgarian’s the opportunity to enjoy pleasurable walks and bike rides and to view a dozen city neighbourhood’s along the way.  Sit and relax on its many benches, have lunch, enjoy the views or join in the celebrations on the wide plazas!

The newly completed 4th Street Underpass, RiverWalk and St. Patrick’s Island pedestrian bridge provide improved connectivity to Bridgeland, Inglewood and other inner city neighbourhoods.  

FIRST by Fram+Slokker

Enjoy the 5 star view of the Bow and Elbow Rivers in your new elegant 18 story high rise.  FIRST will be the only building with a rooftop Sky Lounge and WiFi Cafe lobby.  With prices starting from $199,900!

The red-brown brick exterior pays homage to East Village’s existing historic brick buildings.  Carefully chosen colour palette of natural browns and a range of light greys and blues reflect the variation between the sky, riverbank and water along the Bow and Elbows river.

Evolution by Embassy Bosa

Fuse is the first phase in the Evolution of Urban living in Downtown Clagary.  With Pricing Starting at $359,000 – $960,000

Evolution includes over 600 residences offering a broad collection of townhouses, mid-rise homes, rooftop homes, tower condominiums and penthouses.

Live amoung beauty and style in these glass, concrete and brick residences in this trendy new community.

Condo fees

Condo fees

Buyers often ask “what are condo fees” and have a tendency to shy away from condominiums because they question the value of paying condo fees.

We hear the concern that Buyers don’t want to pay condo fees and yet the fear is often based on misinformation, so let’s try to separate the myths from the facts.

First, understand that in condo ownership you typically own the space inside the drywall of your private living unit and perhaps your parking unit as well, plus a common share of ownership in the shared spaces such as hallways, lobby, amenities (gym, party room) and the exterior grounds of the building. To sort all of this out you need a mechanism to share the cost of the common area, so when the property was built the developer surveyed all the components of the building with a goal to divide the private living areas and apportion the cost of maintaining the common areas. This is your “registered size” and it determines your proportionate share in the cost of maintaining the total property.

These costs are not much different than when owning a home with the addition of some items such as management, security and a few items often found in larger buildings like elevators and pools. Otherwise they are similar items of maintenance that would normally would occur in a home. In fact one could argue that the cost of maintaining a larger property provides some efficiency of scale and saves money over owning a similar sized home aside from the often lower maintenance construction features.

Where the issues arise are typically in the deferred maintenance and replacement of items which are legislated to be spelled out in a reserve fund study. Every condo must have a reserve study completed which reviews the construction of the property and recommends a timeline and budgets for the repair and replacement of building components such as roofs, siding, and structural components. Because these are costly items to replace, this is an important document to study when purchasing a condo and determine what items are due for replacement and how much money is allocated in the reserve fund to pay for these items. Recall that a portion of the condo fee goes towards the reserve fund. If the study does not accurately predict the upcoming replacement reserves or the condo has not allocated a sufficient amount for these reserves then a shortfall occurs and the present condo owners could be required to top up the fund. This can have disastrous results when taken to the extreme and has occurred in buildings which were poorly constructed initially or had major failures of building components and owners were required to pay tens of thousands of dollars to repair them – often more than the equity they had in their home.

So we can see that analyzing the reserve fund study is a crucial aspect of purchasing a condo. Your real estate agent can be a tremendous ally in helping you to steer clear of projects that have the potential for this calamity.

For the positive side of condo ownership take a look at the following example: Take only two or three building components that you would replace in your home every 15 to 20 years.

Say, a roof has an expected life of 15 years at a cost of $8,000. Amortized over 15 years that equals a monthly cost of $44.00

You would paint and repair the exterior siding or other components (windows, doors) every 5 years at an average cost of $2,000. Amortize this over 5 years and it  runs $33 per month.

Add in grounds maintenance (lawn care and snow removal) at a typical cost of $200 per month for a modest home plus water and sewer utility costs at $120 per month.

This example illustrates that a homeowner is actually spending $397 per month compared to an equivalent condo – the homeowner often doesn’t  realize that they are spending it because his expenditures are sporadic rather than regular monthly condo payments.

The important point is when the condo board has been operating responsibly and abiding by the recommendations in the reserve study, they would have set the amount of their condo fees to cover building their reserve fund so there are no surprises to future owners. Where a condo board has set low fees then this act may prove harmful to future owners that may be responsible for “topping up” the reserve to pay for future repairs.

The lesson here is  to discount a condo due to higher apparent fees – these condos may simply be the properties that are the healthiest financially and well managed. When reviewing condo fees, dissect them to determine what is included and how much is allocated to the reserve fund. You may discover that you are quite happy to pay condo fees in order to have someone look after all these maintenance items for you. In the end, choosing a condo is more a lifestyle choice than a matter of cost and may be the best choice for you.

Sano Stante Real Estate has a wealth of experience marketing Calgary Condominium property. Call us to help you make the best real estate decision for your future.

Condo Size

Measuring Condo Size

In Alberta condominiums are surveyed by the builder to determine the respective size of the common and private areas of the individual condo units. Developers have some latitude in deciding what to include in the registered size at the onset of the development and many will include areas such as storage, balconies (including outdoor) and parking areas in the calculation of
registered unit size. This registered size is then used to apportion the respective fees that condo owners pay for shared resources.

This all sounds fair enough, so why do some Buyers protest when they re-sell their condo and their real estate agent tells them that their home is smaller than they claim? The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB®) has rules for the measurement of homes so that all homes are represented equitably. These rules have been in place for decades and they provide consumers with an assurance that the home they are purchasing is accurately represented. One CREB® rule for condominiums states that the living area must be heated, interior living space.
Developers who sell their property through in-house sales representatives who are not members of CREB® are not required to abide by these guidelines. As a result, the living area may be represented to include those unheated areas that show the space larger than CREB® measurements would allow. When the homeowner calls a real estate agent to re-sell the condo they are often surprized to realize that their 1,000 s.f. condo is really only 900 s.f. when measured by
these MLS® System standards and that this standards is a requirement to list the property on CREBs® MLS® System.

CREB®, and their provincial counter-part AREA, have been working to protect the public from such issues by lobbying the Government to mandate the Surveyors to standardize the measurement of registered size across the province and eliminate the variance in representation. CREB® is also working to educate
real estate agent’s and the public to the issue and raise public awareness to ask the right questions before buying a condo.

To ensure that you are protected make sure you ask the Developer how the registered and unit size is calculated in the project. For the best protection and to assure yourself that you are buying right, enlist the services of a licensed real estate agent to represent you even if you are looking at new developments before you start shopping for a condo. Developers have fees built-in to the purchase to reimburse your real estate agent and this way you can have your real estate agent show you comparative new and used properties, help you determine the best lifestyle and value choices and even provide you with a market valuation of a property before you buy.

This is just one of the many reasons to ensure you call a real estate agent before you start shopping and ensure that you won’t be disappointed after the purchase.