December 13, 2017
December - Edmonton Market Update
December 8, 2017
Things to do in Edmonton this month
Zoominescence (Dec. 1 – 31)
Celebrate the Season (Dec. 7 – 23)
Choir! Choir! Choir! (Dec. 11)
A Christmas Peril Food Bank Benefit (Dec. 15)
Glow-in-the-dark Axe Throwing (Dec. 23 – Jan. 7)
Shumka’s Nutcracker (Dec. 29 – 30)
Salute to Vienna (Dec. 30)
November 30, 2017
NEW MORTGAGE QUALIFICATION RULES
Qualifying for a mortgage has never been a breeze and it’s about to get much harder.
In mid-October, the federal government announced changes to mortgage qualification rules and a more stringent “stress test” for uninsured mortgages for those with a 20 per cent or higher down payment.
The biggest impact these changes will have is on purchasing power and housing affordability. Rate Hub, a rate comparison website, looked at two different financial scenarios to compared what a family could afford to buy before and after the new rules.
Before the changes, a buyer could borrow roughly the equivalent of seven times their yearly income. With the new rules, that has been reduced to slightly more than five times their yearly income.
In practice, the new rules means that homebuyers have had their buying power slashed by about 20 per cent.
The latest stress test comes after several other rule changes this year in the real estate market that have been met with equal criticism. Earlier this fall, borrowers with less than 20 per cent down payments were affected and, now, the focus has turned to those with 20 per cent or more down payment.
The idea, regulators explain, is to help protect banks and ensure that everyone – no matter how much money they’ve initially put down – have to undergo a stress test before borrowing.
Banks are competitive and, to drive business, do not want to offer below-market rates and mortgages if other banks are doing so. By making it a federal regulation, it means that all banks have to be on board – levelling the playing field and reducing risks from uninsured mortgages all around.
For homebuyers, however, it means that some properties are now out of financial reach which brings up all sorts of issues of housing affordability because people will no longer qualify to borrow as much money as previously.
Experts say that the new measure will hit the real estate market like a sledgehammer by driving down prices. Others believe it is a good change and will equalize the market over time.
The changes come into effect on January 1, 2018.
November 24, 2017
FALL BACK TO GOOD HABITS: HEALTH FOR YOU AND YOUR HOME
Bustling winds, rainy days, and stormy nights are now solidly upon us with few hints left of warmer times left.
Do not despair, with the shift of seasons comes a chance for change for both you and your home. Take the right steps for you and your family to be happy and well.
November 15, 2017
November - Edmonton Market Update
November 8, 2017
Stylish floor lamp design ideas
Floor lamps are essential not only for its function but also for creating a statement or design element in your living room. Here are just some stylish floor lamps to decorate your home.
November 2, 2017
Bank of Canada's interest rate spike: What does it means for homeowners with mortgages?
The Bank of Canada hiked interest rates twice this summer and the increases come at a time when many Canadians are struggling to pay off debt.
First, in July, the bank announced a raise from 0.5 to 0.75 per cent and then, at the beginning of September, hiked rates again to a full one percentage point. A report by TransUnion last year estimated that if interest rates were raised by one percentage point, 700,000 Canadian households would face serious financial ramifications.
Those most affected by the interest increases are those paying back debt — such as Canadians with mortgages. According to Scott Hannah, the president and CEO of the Credit Counselling Society of British Columbia, new homeowners who have just taken out a large mortgage are the most vulnerable to the changes.
His recommendation is to try to pay off debts as quickly as possible to avoid future interest hikes or, in the case where that is not possible, to try to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage to mitigate against economic ups-and-downs.
After the latest hike, the Forum Poll found that a third of Canadians fear the proposed change will negatively impact their finances — especially those in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
The bank’s announcement has been met with vehement criticism, especially as the Canadian dollar continued to slip, and some experts say the bank may well pause the interest rate hikes for now. Others, however, are adamant that the rises will continue and that it is up to individual Canadians to do the best they can to safeguard their finances.
The Bank of Canada is expected to finalize its plans in the coming weeks but, even if the most recent spike is held off, that will not necessarily mean an end to raising rates for the year, experts say.
October 26, 2017
The real deal: School rankings and House prices
The relationship between the quality of a school district and real estate prices in the neighbourhood is a bit of a “chicken-and-the-egg” question.
The highest-ranking school districts tend to have higher house prices than less sought-after districts. At the same time, more affluent homeowners often live in more popular school districts. It’s not always clear which is the motivating factor: do school districts influence house prices or vice versa?
Regardless of which came first, at the end of the day, the fact remains: schools that have higher rankings are, on average, in neighbourhoods with higher real estate values. According to a survey by the Ontario real estate brokerage TheRedPin, homeowners pay a premium of between 20 to 36 per cent for living in proximity to the best schools in Toronto.
91 per cent of prospective homebuyers said that school rankings were important in their search, according to a survey by Realtor.com®, and 60 per cent of buyers said they would pay above their budget to live in their desired school catchment.
Why are schools so influential?
In large part, it comes down to the age-old search for better education and opportunities for the next generation. Parents will sacrifice a lot to improve their offspring’s future and a higher-ranking school is part of that.
It’s also a matter of convenience. Once you have your heart set on a school, it’s a huge time-saver to live a bus ride or walk away. The same Realtor.com® survey found that more than half of buyers are willing to give up other comforts – such are more room or proximity to shopping centres – in exchange for living in the right school catchment.
All this, as a total, means there is a huge demand for family homes in certain areas because of school rankings. Even for homeowners without children, a good school is typically seen as a sign of a strong, stable community — a good thing for house prices for everyone who lives nearby.
October 11, 2017
Things to do in Edmonton this month
Bison’s Eye View - Oct 15
Short Film Festival - Oct 14 to 15
Ladies Learning Code - Oct 21
A Caravan Cabaret - Oct 21
September 27, 2017
Antique and Modern Doorbell Designs
September 22, 2017
How Do You Choose Your Neighbourhood? Tips, Tricks and Things to Keep in Mind
When you are buying a new home, choosing the right neighbourhood can be just as crucial to consider as the house itself.
September 13, 2017
September- Edmonton Market Update
July 20, 2017
Small garden? No problem — here’s how to maximize your outdoor space
Summer barbeque season and outdoor patio gatherings are upon us. Whether you have an expansive garden, a cute nook patio or an overhanging balcony, there are always ways to make the most out of what you have.
There is no getting around it — you need space to keep items you are not using but, in limited areas, that can be tricky. One of the best ways around storage issues is to have hidden places to keep things that are out of the way but easily accessible. One of the most common ways is to have a bench that can lift up to reveal storage underneath for blankets, cushions and whatever else you need to hide away.
Always keep in mind, when you are buying furniture, the versatility factor — one item that can be used twice saves space in the long run! A low table with strong legs can hold your drinks when it’s just you or double as a stool when guests are visiting. Sturdy cushions plush out your seats or can be arranged in a circle for extra seating.
Fake it till you make it
If you don’t have a garden, consider putting down fake grass to brighten up an otherwise bare ground. The grass may be greener on the other side but, when it’s on your side, it can make your space seem that much bigger.
Take your gardening to new heights
If you can’t expand out, then move up. Hanging plants, creeping vines along a wall and shelves of pots can give you all the benefits of a larger yard in a smaller space.
Multiple small spaces
If you have a larger area, make it more user-friendly by setting up multiple small spaces: one corner as a bar, another for gardening, a few chairs for taking in the sun. If your space is more limited, such as one small apartment balcony, consider using it for one specific designated space. Put down a huge cushion and use it as a hanging area for reading, attach a table top to your balcony railing and use it as a bar with a skyline view, the options are endless.
Simple and elegant
Be intentional in how you use your space and how you decorate. Clean lines and minimal colours will make it seem less cluttered and, therefore, bigger. Don’t give up on the essentials but use only what you really need.
July 11, 2017
July - Edmonton Market Update
July 4, 2017
Trendy Picnic Baskets for Summer
June 26, 2017
Security is important all year round but during the summer months especially, property crimes and break-and-entries tend to spike. Warmer weather means people are more likely to leave their windows open, their patios unlocked and their houses unattended.
We talked to our city’s police department about why property crime increases and what people can do to keep their homes safe and secure during summer. This is what they told us:
Always lock up
It’s easy to pop out quickly for a walk around the block or a quick trip down the road to the shop, but always lock the door, windows and patios behind you no matter how soon you’ll be back. A third of burglars enter a home through an unlocked door. Even if you are out in the back gardening, lock you front door — you’d be surprised at how quickly and quietly a thief can slip in.
Out of sight, out of mind
Most property crimes are opportunistic – the thief sees a chance to steal something and takes it. If it’s hidden away, there is less temptation and opportunity. So if you buy a nice new item, wait till pick-up day to put its packaging outside in the recycling. You don’t want to advertise to thieves what valuables you have in your home. Don’t leave visible items in your car; thieves have been known to smash a car window to steal something as small as a gym bag or a pile of papers.
Report suspicious activity
The police want citizens to call and report suspicious activity, even if doesn’t seem like a crime is being committed yet. If you see someone milling around and you have a bad feeling, report it. It’s not a waste of time or resources, the police officer we spoke to told us, and it might prevent a theft.
Before you leave your home, do a quick walk around and final check. Put yourself in the mind-set of a thief – if you wanted to break and enter, how would you do it? That curtain fluttering in the breeze? Close the window. That ladder leaning against the wall? Put it away. Prevention is the best way to keep your property safe and thief-proof.
Keep a list of details about your most valuable items if worst-case scenario should happen. If something is stolen, you will have more chances of getting it back if you can provide details and a picture of the item. The majority of stolen goods the police recover are never returned to their rightful owner because they can’t be tracked down. With bicycles, for example, you can imprint a serial number on the frame and log it with the police; that way, if your bike is stolen and someone tries to sell it, you will be notified.
June 14, 2017
Jun - Edmonton Market Update
June 5, 2017
Working from home, coffee shop or rent-a-desk?
Who hasn’t dreamt of working from home — no more alarm clocks beeping, lengthy commutes at rush hour or having to choose fancy office attire over pyjama pants, so the vision goes. It’s a life that many freelancers, remote workers and other independent professionals choose.
But many of those who have traded corporate for coffee shops are now turning to a new environment: coworking spaces.
Sharing workspace and renting a desk in a flexible office has taken off in popularity in recent years because of the endless opportunities it offers to socialize, network, collaborate with other like-minded professionals and increase productivity.
According to studies, one of the biggest factors that determines productivity at the office is the workspace itself and a well-designed space can increase productivity by 20 per cent.
Whether renting by the hour, setting up a more permanent environment at home or tweaking the space at your office desk, here are the top three things to create a more efficient workspace:
May 11, 2017
May - Edmonton Market Update