Feb. 15, 2018

Helpful Tips Newsletter - Feb 2018

 

Want a clutter-free house? Here are 20+ ways to do it one day at a time

You put the holiday décor away, you’ve been going strong on your New Year’s resolutions and now it’s time to tackle the clutter that keeps building up in your house. February is an ideal month to tackle excessive clutter. Let’s begin!

Why should you get rid of clutter?

Clutter in your home is often the window to clutter in your life. The average Canadian has about 52 random things attached to their refrigerator. If you see that cluttered fridge multiple times a day, you’re likely to accept it as a fact of life, which will begin to affect the rest of your life, usually resulting in buying things you can’t find, and spending money you don’t need to.

The two main ways to attack the clutter in your house without feeling overwhelmed are to do it one room at a time or one task at a time. Either way, you can tackle the whole house over the course of the month.

The Method Doesn’t Matter

You may have more than four rooms in your house, but you probably also have more than one person. So divvy up those checklists and get some help. Focus on the high traffic areas, as that is where clutter tends to build up. Just make sure you don’t move piles of things to the bedroom!

Or, pick one of these tasks each day for the month and do them in whatever order is easiest to accomplish the goal of getting uncluttered. Remember, the goal is to get rid of things you don’t need and to find a place for everything you do need.

Here are some tasks you could put on your list for the main rooms of the house.

Kitchen

  1. Clean out the fridge and clean off the outside of it, getting rid of any magnets you don’t want anymore

  2. Clean the freezer, getting rid of things that have been in there too long

  3. Purge that junk drawer

  4. Divide the cabinets into top and bottom and tackle one section one day

  5. Then the other half of the cabinets the next day

  6. Discard all expired food from the pantry

  7. Clean off all countertops

Living Room & Dining Room

  1. Clean out coat closet

  2. Purge DVDs and video games you don’t use anymore

  3. Clean off the coffee table and end tables

  4. Tidy up toys and books and find them a place and get rid of any books or toys that nobody uses anymore

  5. Clear off all flat spaces

  6. Find a place to put mail that won’t pile up

  7. Set the table for dinner to discourage people from putting things on the table

Bedrooms

  1. Purge the closet of clothes you don’t wear

  2. And shoes, purge the shoes

  3. And bags! And coats, and suitcases

  4. Purge your drawers, especially socks

  5. Clear off all dresser tops, finding a place for things or discarding them

  6. Clean out purses, bags, briefcases

  7. Purge the linen closet

Bathrooms

  1. Clean out under the sink

  2. Check the shower and tub for empty toiletry bottles

  3. Dispose of expired medicines (responsibly)

  4. Purge old towels

  5. Organize cleaning supplies, so they are easy to grab

  6. Discard old makeup or hair supplies

  7. Put all trial size toiletries in a cute container to leave for guests to use

Now that you’ve decluttered your house, you may be thinking it’s time to sell. Are you’re ready to talk about your real estate options? If so, give me a call at 403-919-2247.

Feb. 2, 2018

Calgary Housing Market Update - January 2018

The new year opened predictably, with monthly figures close to the Januarys of the past three years.

With new mortgage rules and rates officially in effect, sales activity in January remained comparable to last year, as rising sales for attached properties were not enough to offset declines in both the apartment and detached sector.  

Overall January sales totaled 958 units, nearly two per cent above last year and 11 per cent below long-term averages.

"2018 was kicked off with higher rates and the official implementation of the new mortgage requirements. While it is too early to see the impact of these changes, so far, January levels are consistent with what we saw last year," said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

"The recovery will be bumpy, and we will continue to monitor the impact of the lending changes relative to the overall economic climate." 

Stable sales were met with rising new listings, causing further gains in inventory levels and impacting prices. Citywide, unadjusted prices totaled $432,300, 0.21 per cent below last month and 0.25 per cent below last year's figures. Prices eased across all product types compared to last month, but price declines were more pronounced in the apartment and attached sectors. 

In the detached sector, new listings rose with declining sales activity for product priced over $500,000. However, product priced between $300,000 and $399,999 saw an increase in activity. This will be an adjustment to the new reality buyers and sellers face, as pockets of the market will experience a mismatch between supply and demand.

"Sellers needs to be aware of the competing supply in the market. This can influence the timing of their decision, along with setting realistic expectations regarding time on the market and selling price," said 2018 CREB® president Tom Westcott. "For buyers, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is essential, along with getting advice from a REALTOR® to get into a home they will be happy with.

 

Posted in Market Update
Feb. 2, 2018

Purchasing A House: A Solid Long Term Investment

How come you are using your well-earned money to pay off the landlord's mortgage? Why don't you use that rent money to purchase your own home? These are questions most people ask themselves once they start giving consideration to moving from the rental market into owning a home.

For most people, this is a huge step. Getting a mortgage is the largest financial commitment they will make in their lifetime.

However, purchasing your own house has always been a sound financial decision. Below are a few facts to consider when thinking about home ownership compared to renting.

           If you happen to be around 35 years old today and purchasing your first house, you should be mortgage-free close to 60 years old and you will be comfortable with a substantial asset.

           It's very likely your investment is going to significantly increase in value in 25 years. It's crucial, however, not to purchase with the objective of making quick money. You should think about buying a house as a good, long-term investment.

           Purchasing a house is an extremely effective method of saving consistently over decades. Although you might never invest in other retirement or investment programs, you are in effect saving money for the future.

           Owning your home means you and your loved ones are able to put down roots and get involved in the community.

           Learn about the satisfaction of home ownership. It is possible to improve the house to suit your purposes. You could also have pets in your house.

         When your family expands and go into their own homes, you have the choice of generating extra money by renting out vacant rooms or whole floors, if local bylaws permit it.

         If you plan to take out a loan from a bank or other lending company, owning your home is an obvious plus when it reaches negotiation time.

         You probably won’t require as much money as you believe to enter the housing market. Qualified buyers can purchase a property with just 5% down via the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) mortgage insurance plan. It might be possible to use RRSP money towards your down payment.

         As with many different types of investments, you will have to pay a capital gains tax on the profits. If your house is your primary residence, this tax will not apply.

 

After having diligently considered every facet of owning a home and are prepared to start your search, it's time to find a REALTOR®. This individual has use of the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), a co-operative marketing system where properties are purchased and offered for sale. Making use of the MLS®, your REALTOR® is able to put together a tailor-made listing of houses on the market that suit your needs the best, desires and budget. Your REALTOR® can even give invaluable help and professional guidance to you all the way through the buying process.

Jan. 4, 2018

December 2017 Market Update

Elevated inventory levels continue

 

For the second month in a row, sales on all types of homes improved in December. However, an increase in new listings has kept inventory levels lifted and pushed benchmark prices down for the fifth month in a row.

During the first half of 2017 we experienced price growth in the detached sector as the disparity between supply and demand began to disappear. Through the year, as prices rose, many who had held off on selling their home took the opportunity to realize a higher sales price. This increase in inventory has resulted in plateaued price growth.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist for CREB noted that “Many economic indicators continue to post modest improvements, including improving sales. However, demand gains have not outpaced the additional supply coming into the housing market. This is creating some of the bumpiness in terms of price recovery”.

Overall, the benchmark price for a detached home in 2017 was $504,867, up 0.63% over 2016’s benchmark.

Similar to the detached market sector, the attached sector saw increased sales when compared to inventory in the first half of the year resulting in price increases. Late in the year, inventory levels rose reversing much of the price gains. The benchmark price for an attached home in 2017 was comparable to that of 2016 at $332,325.

High inventory in the condo/apartment market continued to cause challenges in this area with benchmarks continuing to fall an additional 4% this year.

“This year, we saw a rise in the number of consumers willing to purchase in the market with the expectation that the economy had already shifted. There were also many who waited to list their property until prices showed more stability” stated CREB president David P. Brown.

 

“Those who acted were typically driven by longer-term plans that best suit their current lifestyle. We are ending the year with stronger sales in the last quarter, but supply levels are holding back price gains. The year played out as expected with a transition from price declines to general price stability in most sectors of the market.”

Posted in Market Update
Dec. 6, 2017

November 2017 Market Update

November marks a rise in sales

The November housing market was spurred by a rise in sales, particularly in the lower price ranges.

Sales totaled 1,411 units in November, an increase of 15 per cent over last year. This is comparable to longer-term averages for the month of November. Improved sales activity occurred in each of the housing segments, with most of the gains occurring in homes priced under $500,000.

"The combination of improved confidence and pending mortgage rule changes have likely contributed to the stronger sales activity this month," said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. According to Lurie, the last time that sales activity rose to long-term averages for the month was October 2016, when the stress test for high-ratio loans was first announced.  

"Moving forward, we will continue to monitor shifts in demand as improving economic conditions should help offset the impact to the housing market after the new lending policy comes into force in January," said Lurie. 

The largest gains in the detached sector were in the $300,000 -  $399,999 price range, while the apartment and attached sectors saw the largest gains among homes priced below $300,000.

"We have seen some improvements in confidence with many of our clients. There are some concerns regarding the changes in the lending market, but there is also a significant amount of confusion regarding how it will affect them," said CREB® president David P. Brown. 

"For a lot of buyers, they are interested in taking advantage of the choice in the market at all price ranges." 

The rise in sales relative to new listings improved this month, helping ease inventory levels over the previous month and keeping the months of supply relatively stable. However, the amount of supply relative to the sales in the market remains elevated. This continues to weigh on prices.

Citywide benchmark prices totaled $436,700, 0.50 per cent below last month, but 0.46 per cent above last year's levels. Both median and average prices recorded a more significant decline compared to last year. This should not come as a surprise, as more sales in the lower price range this year compared to last November would cause a more pronounced drop in average and median prices.   

 

Want some more area-specific information for your current or next home? Hit the contact button at the top of the page and just tell us which area(s) you would like more information on!

Posted in Market Update
Dec. 4, 2017

6 Non-Food Gift Ideas that will Make Your Neighbours Happy

 

Can you believe this year is coming to an end so fast?

As we spread the holiday cheer, we shouldn't forget that a big part of the happiness is our fantastic neighbours!

Each year, it's a good idea to get them a little something to spread the holiday cheer… and this year, why not go non-traditional and give non-food gifts.   

Here’s our list of ideas so you can steal them for yourself!

  • Doing the Dishes - Grab cute holiday paper plates, cups, and/or cutlery and tie them up with a cute bow and a note that says “Let me help you do your dishes this week!”
  • For the Cards - Get your neighbours a return address stamp or stickers. They’ll love these when they’re sending out cards!
  • Giving Energy - Wrap up a set of AA or AAA batteries with a note that says “We could all use extra energy this holiday season!!”
  • Family Game Night - Pick up a great family board game and wrap it up! They’ll love this gift that can be used for many years!
  • Holiday Washes - Tie a bow around a holiday towel and a bottle of hand soap with a note that says "We wash you a merry Christmas, we wash you a merry Christmas, we wash you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!” or simply “We ‘wash’ you happy holidays!”
  • Movie Night - Grab a holiday movie, Netflix gift card or a Redbox promo code (both available online) and wrap it up with a blanket. Add a note that says “For those nights that you want to stay in and be cozy this holiday season.”

With whatever gift you choose, adding a thoughtful thank you note letting them know how much you appreciate all they do throughout the year is always a great way to spread holiday cheer!

And, as always, if you or one of your neighbours needs a real estate agent, please give me a call at 403-919-2247

Cheers!

 
Posted in Helpful Tips
Nov. 7, 2017

October 2017 Market Update

Continuing on at a steady pace - Home prices are on par compared to last year.

 

Conditions for the housing market in October has remained similar to September trends with sales easing, inventories risings and some downward pressure on pricing. Carrying on with the previous months trend, the market activity was not enough to maintain the gains made earlier this year.

 

October sale a total of 1,467 sales and inventories totaled 6,463 units, or just under 4 and a half months of supply. The gains we saw earlier in the year continue to be offset by a surplus of homeowners wishing to capitalize on the stable market. Several months of increased supply, without a corresponding increase in demand, continues to weigh on pricing. Our City-wide (un-adjusted) benchmark price was $438,900 in October, comparable to 2016 but 0.6% below September.

 

CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie stresses that while economic activity has improved in 2017, it takes time for this to translate into housing market growth.

 

Looking at the Numbers

 

  • $300,000 - $500,000  -  Represents the largest number of units added to inventory for the single family market. Representing around 42% of all single family inventory. 
  • 62%  -  all detached inventory is under $500,000 
  • -0.8%  -  The largest monthly price change in October. Occurring in the apartment sector 
  • -13%  -  The overall price decline in the apartment condo sector since monthly highs recorded in 2014

 

Bottom Line

 

Despite some recent market adjustments from the increased supply, prices in both detached and the attached market segments continue to remain relatively stable compared to last year

 

Want some more area specific information for your current or next home? Give us a call at 403-919-2247!

Posted in Market Update
Nov. 1, 2017

4 Important Areas Homeowners Don’t Know to Check for Snow Damage

Happy November!

Winter is on its way and it’s bringing snow and ice with it. That snow and cold can do some serious damage to a home’s exterior. There are several very common problems usually brought on by the winter months, including damage done to roofs, foundations and pipes, that many new homeowners don’t know to check.

 

4 Important Areas Homeowners Don’t Know to Check for Snow Damage

 

Area #1: Your Roof

While your house may look like a winter wonderland, the snow and ice can easily damage your roof. Ice dams are one specific example. An ice dam is when snow on the roof melts, runs down to the edge and refreezes there. It forces water back up under the edge of the roof where it can cause leaks. It also causes shingles to begin deteriorating. 

High winds, hail and winter storms can tear off shingles or create moisture underneath them, damaging the roof further. If you find any leaks in your roof, minimize the damage to the roof by tacking a tarp over the damaged area until it can get repaired. You’ll need to repair any issues as quickly as possible to help prevent needing a complete roof replacement.

Area #2: The Gutters

If you’re thinking that you can avoid the ice dams mentioned above because you have gutters installed, think again. Ice dams can also damage your gutters as well. This is because the heavy ice building up on the edge of the roof can pull gutters away from the roofline. When water freezes inside the gutters and downspouts, it can cause separations in some areas, meaning that you may need to end up replacing them.

Gutter screens are one of the easiest things you can install yourself, that can save installation costs in the future. You can also install heating elements to help melt ice in your gutters all winter. But if that’s not an option, at least try to make sure they are kept cleaned out and watch for ice dams to build up. 

Area #3: Your Driveway 

One area that most people don’t worry about winter weather affecting is their driveway.

Over time, small cracks develop and are the perfect place for water to collect. When that collected water freezes, it expands. This causes something called a frost heave. Frost heaves cause large cracks, as well as potholes in your driveway. You can correct these issues and help prevent further damage and eliminate those small cracks by re-paving your driveway. 

While you may not be able to pave your entire driveway with asphalt (a durable long term solution), consider sealing small cracks in your existing driveway with tar before they have a chance to expand, and cause potholes or major cracks. If you own a snow blower, it’s a good idea to use it often, to try and keep the snow cleared off as much as possible.

Area #4: The Foundation

Unfortunately, the same freeze and thaw cycle that causes cracks and potholes in a driveway can cause similar issues with your home’s foundation. It’s normal for hairline cracks in the concrete of a foundation that develop naturally over time as a home settles. When the cracks in the foundation expand during the winter months, it can cause major structural issues if they aren’t taken addressed quickly. If you notice any cracks, watch for leaks in your basement, or water collecting under the house. Always consult with more than one repair company before making a decision to ensure you are getting the best rate possible.

Winter damage only gets worse over time if you don’t take care of it as soon as possible. Always make sure to check your home in both the fall and spring to repair damages that could affect your home’s condition.

If you’re still looking for your dream house this winter, call the Michael Smith Team at 403-919-2247 and we can help you find the perfect home.

Posted in Helpful Tips
Oct. 3, 2017

September 2017 Market Update

 

Stepping back to see the trend

The numbers are in; inventory increased and sales dropped in September. But is that really all there is to it? Not even close!

Overall, here in Calgary, we can see that sales are still higher than last year. Strong gains for the first 6 months of 2017 have put the number of Calgary sales a whopping 7% higher than where we were this time last year (although still 11% below long-term averages). While the trend is clearly positive, we are looking at some hurdles that still need to be cleared.

Across all property types in Calgary we saw inventories rise to a total of 6,861 units.  The multi-family sector for both attached and apartment style homes saw the highest inventory on record for the month of September.  With inventory levels rising, price recovery has lost some momentum over recent months.

Overall in September we saw a total of 3,266 new listings, a year over year gain of almost 10%.

There appear to be several factors having a distinct influence on the number of new listings. After seeing falling prices over the past two years, there is no doubt that many sellers were simply waiting for market conditions to improve before choosing to list their homes. This is a cycle that Calgary has seen many times over and while the number may seem alarming at a glance, it is to be entirely expected. Essentially, the stability in the market has prompted many sellers to delay no longer the decision to sell.

It is also worth noting that in some segments and areas, the increased supply of new homes are having a direct impact on the total housing supply, which in turn is preventing price increases. The positive here is that it does present an opportunity for buyers to step into a home that was previously financially unattainable.

Septembers unadjusted benchmark prices totaled $441,500. While that is 0.2% below last month, it is still nearly 1% above last year. We can observe the slight downward pressure on prices due to the increase in inventory.

 

Prices in the detached sector remain relatively stable compared to last year. Condominium apartment prices remain 4% below 2016 levels and 12% below 2014 highs. This sector continues to struggle with price declines resulting from excess supply as months of supply pushed above eight months.

 

Click Here to find out what your home is worth

Posted in Market Update
Oct. 1, 2017

5 Firepit Tips to Avoid a Backyard Burnout

Happy October!

 

It's officially fall in Calgary (except for that one day when it was winter) and that means it’s time to break out the fire pit for some autumn backyard barbeques and parties! Unfortunately, fire pits cause nearly 6,000 grill fires a year. (No, that’s not a typo. 6,000!) Before you light that first fire of fall, there are a few things you should know to protect your home from a fire pit mishap.

 

5 Firepit Tips to Avoid a Backyard Burnout

 

1. Never place a fire pit directly on a wooden deck.

Make sure there is a fire pad to protect the wood using bricks or stone slabs. The fire pad must extend at least 2 feet beyond the perimeter of the fire pit. If you are using a free-standing fire pit or ring, also make sure it has sturdy legs.

 

2. Never use a fire pit under a covered deck, roof overhang or trees. This is a poses a huge threat. While you may love that shady location, it’s safest to use your pit under an open sky. Make sure to clear the area 3 feet around your selected location of debris including leaves, pine cones and twigs.

 

3. Choose a nonflammable, level surface on which to place your fire pit or fire ring. Free-standing fire pits and rings can be used safely on cement or tile patios and decks. Keep the fire 10-20 feet away from fences, buildings, trees and other flammable debris.

 

4. Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or alcohol to ignite your fire.

Instead, use tender or newspaper. You should also never burn plastic, painted and treated wood or rubber. I know it’s tempting to just toss stuff into the flame, but all of those things will make the air around you dangerous.

 

5. Never dispose of the ashes for at least 24 hours after the fire.

You may not be able to see it, but the ashes may still be smoldering and can start a fire quickly. If a fire does spark, use a water hose, bucket of cold water or an AB fire extinguisher to put it out.

 

It may surprise you to know that most cities have ordinances that regulate when you can use a fire pit. It’s really important that you check with your local office to see what rules are in place.

 

The most common fire pit ordinances regulate:

 

  • Size of the fire pit

  • Distance from fire to structures

  • Use of fires outdoors during periods of drought or extreme heat

  • Whether proper extinguishing is available

 

There are lots of ways to enjoy your backyard this fall, and a cozy fire is definitely at the top of my list. Just make sure you are “getting fired up” safely.

 

Still haven’t found your dream home and backyard yet? We can help.

 

Give our office a call at (403) 919-2247 to find out if our newest listings have everything you’re looking for in a new home!

 

Posted in Helpful Tips