Category: Residential (16)

City of Calgary Tax Assessment
Each year the City of Calgary updates the Tax Assessment of the value of your home to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of the civic tax burden. You likely received your assessment notice in the mail for the upcoming tax year. Note that the Real Estate Assessment for the upcoming year is based on the market value of your home as of July 1 of the previous year. If you have questions about the value of your Assessment the City of Calgary now has a website that allows you to view assessments of other properties to compare your assessed value. There is a consultation period listed on your assessment within which you may discuss the stated value with your local City Assessor and understand the rationale for their valuation. If you do not agree with the City’s Assessment then you have the option of contesting the value before a Board that will listen to your evidence. You must be prepared to provide evidence of recently sold comparable properties to the board.

If you would like assistance understanding the myriad of factors that influence the value of your home or other real estate, please contact us. The team of experts at Sano Stante Real Estate have over three decades of experience evaluating unique Calgary Real Estate.

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 ..

calgary-skylineThe media has been ripe lately with stories of how the real estate market in Canada is over-valued and is now cooling. If you lived in Vancouver of Toronto, you would think that this is a pretty accurate indication of reality. However, if you reside in Alberta or Saskatchewan, you are probably wondering what kind of drug these reporters are on because their world is bustling with jobs and activity. So what is the real story in the local Calgary real estate market?

First, the real estate market is local. Like the weather, listening to a report that the Canadian real estate market is preforming poorly is like hearing that the weather in Canada is bad. Certainly Calgary is influenced by the national economy, just as we are by the global economy (now more than ever). However, real estate is a local story. Calgary is leading the nation in job growth and net in-migration, which leads to demand for residential real estate. While the rest of the nation (even the western world) is struggling to create jobs, we can’t seem to find enough people to fill the posts. So, when you hear that the real estate market is cooling down, its akin to having your head in the freezer and your feet in the fire. On average your temperature is may be moderate or dropping, but it doesn’t accurately reflect what’s happening locally.

Our research indicates that we will continue to have strong demand for residential real estate for the next two years. Price gains should be gradual and moderate, however lately we are concerned about a reduction in available listings, bringing our months of inventory to under 3 months for single family and townhouse listings. If inventory continues to decline, this could cause some pressure on prices to increase. Keep in mind that although prices have been rising, they have been stable for the past quarter.

This local/national example also applies to your local neighbourhood and what is happening in Calgary does not always reflect what is happening in your local community, or your particular street. If you zoom into this level the trends that we’ve witnessed generally are:

  • In increase in demand and firming of prices in the inner city
  • Increased demand for lifestyle properties and walkable communities
  • Increased demand in adjacent, bedroom communities like Airdrie
  • Cooling of demand and softening of prices in the outlying suburbs.
  • Slowing demand for acreage properties
  • A trend to smaller, more practical and energy efficient homes

As well there are the usual seasonal trends, and of course you could discover trends for pockets within your community. An experienced real estate expert can assess all of these variables that affect the value of your property and more. If you would like to stay current on the values in your local neighborhood, we will send you updates of the sales and listing activity monthly in a convenient email report. If you would like a current market evaluation of your property, simply call us and we will be pleased to provide this for you, so can make the best most informed decision on your real estate investment.


mortgage-clamp-down-Sano-Stante-Real-EstateIn an effort to cool the consumers appetite for debt in this current low interest climate, the Fed’s have further tightened the screws on Bank lending. The Canadian Government’s “Financial Stability Board” has published new guidelines for underwriting mortgages. Following is a summary of the proposed changes which may take effect by September 2012:

  • Lines of credit should not exceed 65% of the homes value. While a customer can still borrow 80% LTV, at least 15% will need to be in an amortizing segment. Existing clients may be grandfathered but there will be some cases as it relates to structural changes in an existing loan plan where the new rule may apply.
  • For debt service coverage (TDS) at a minimum. the qualifying rate for all variable interest mortgages regardless of the term and fixed rate mortgages with a term of less than 5 years should be the greater of the contracted mortgage rate of the five year benchmark rate (Bank of Canada).
  • GDS Calculations will require supporting documents (tax, utility bills, etc) or clear and consistent benchmarks that adequately assess these additional costs.
  • Banks will be required to clearly define “non-conforming loans”. This may include some forms of equity, low documentation etc. In these cases LTV should not exceed 65%.

If you are contemplating taking a HLOC at 80% LTV now is the time to get your application processed before the new guidelines take effect. You may not need to use all the money, but better to have access to it and not use it, than to be clamped down to 65% LTV.

For more information on this, or other Calgary real estate facts call us anytime 403-289-3435

early-signs-of-spring-marketCalgary’s warm weather is pushing up more than daisies this spring. Home buyers appear to beating a steady path to Calgary in search of new employment and the new optimism in Alberta’s economy is providing traction to our real estate sector.

Last month, single family home sales increased 17% over March 2011 and Condo sales increased over 7% from the previous year. Coupled with an overall reduction of 1.8% in new listings the effect is to shift the advantage from a Buyers’ market to a Seller’s market in many sectors. We”ve witnessed a marked increase in the inner city especially in the market for 50’ sub-dividable lots which is now attracting multiple offers on properties which are priced correctly. Overall, we expect the resurgence in the market to continue to gain solid momentum this year as demand continues to pick up with increased in migration to supply new jobs. The only speed bumps in sight for the near term would be significant increases in mortgage interest rates. For more details view the full CREB market update.

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.