GREG STEELE

"Not All REALTORS® Are Alike"©

It’s a fun new way to tour multiple properties or your entire city in one afternoon!


If you’ve continued to look for a property in recent weeks, you’ve probably self-toured some homes in 360 degrees and watched some agent-guided video walk-throughs. Neither of these qualifies as a Live Virtual Open House. Both, however, can be included as part of the event (which is the operative word).


Live Virtual Open Houses are scheduled events. They start at specific times. They can be added to -- and launched from – your online calendar. They get streamed via ZOOM (or another platform) and feature a host who is live on location. The host presents the property to multiple remote viewers whose cameras are usually off and mics muted. This is so everyone sees only the host and the home. Viewers ask questions via Chat. The host walks through the home, answers questions and can cut to slideshows and video segments.


Live Virtual Open Houses are brand new to most of us, although they’ve been used to sell luxury properties across oceans and continents for a few years. Who knows what they’ll look like in the months to come!

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Good staging can help sell your home faster for a higher price! Check out these eight tips we researched on how to stage your backyard for the best return when selling.


1. Stage it so they linger
Set up your backyard and deck as you would to entertain visitors: Clean, cozy and inviting! Don’t clutter it, but keep some comfortable, stylish patio furniture in place so prospects can relax for a moment here. You want them to linger.


2. Paint!
Fresh paint on your deck and fence are going to pay dividends! Even if the new owners prefer other colours, it doesn’t matter. Brand new paint is the cleanest, most up-to-date statement you can make in your backyard. Anything else says “we’re not ready to sell.”


3. Zone it
Remove everything from your yard. Yes, everything. Next, put your best outdoor furniture and accessories back out there, but create several zones for suggestive lifestyle vignettes.


4. Grow something
Buy some plants and flowers to suit your space and get them out on display. Flowers add colour and plants -- more than anything else -- bring vitality to outdoor spaces.


5. Cover the patio
Those patio lanterns! In attached homes, you’re often staging a small patio space not a full-size yard. Optimize it for romantic sunset dinners or casual entertaining. A roof-style cover can add intimacy and define a comfortable space.


6. De-clutter the balcony
The best balconies are about the view. Don’t get in the way with too much staging. Help buyers imagine themselves relaxing on a lounge chair with a book or sharing a bottle of wine across a small table for two. If the view is amazing, show off the balcony as much as possible from inside.


7. Install new lighting
During late evening showings, your backyard can look spectacular with the right lighting. During the day, it won’t shine so bright, but brand new, contemporary lighting fixtures are still going to impress buyers and show off the yard.


8. Stage for active lifestyles
If you’re moving somewhere you can use it, buy a high-end BBQ and stage a gleaming outdoor kitchen concept with the grill, a food prep island and a bar. Or, if your ideal buyers are certain to be young families with kids, leave swings in place or set up a brand new volleyball net.

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Many of the homes in Edmonton’s Laurier Heights neighbourhood are on large lots and set well back from the street. Almost all of them are single family homes.


It’s a small, well-kept community and – when it was developing during the 1950s and ’60s – it was one of the first in Edmonton not planned on a grid. Instead, it features winding, well-treed streets and avenues. Some of the views of the nearby North Saskatchewan River Valley from the west bank of the river – especially from homes in the Buena Vista area – are spectacular. It has several very beautiful parks, some that are part of the river valley network.


Laurier Heights is situated to the southwest of downtown, a short drive away. It is south of 87 Avenue and Buena Vista Road and north of Whitemud Drive.

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Seemingly overnight, the world has changed. Some people are still meeting with agents and attending showings in person, but many aren’t.


If you want to sell your home or buy a new property right now, check out these new tech-powered ways to

1) stay safely connected and

2) list and tour properties virtually.


Connect with your agent live, online!
If you’re serious about buying or selling, please reach out to us! We send you this email newsletter every month to keep you on top of what’s happening. For conversations about listing and viewing properties, try video conferencing! On your computer or smartphone, go to Facebook Live, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom or Teams and you’ll find easy instructions to get started. It’s the new normal for most real estate agents.


Once we’ve had a chance to chat, it’s easy for us to send you links to property listings and contact information for other professionals like mortgage brokers and lawyers. They, too, are staying connected online. And, yes, it’s all e-documents and sign-offs now to get the deal done when the time is right. Let’s stay safely connected. Please don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.


Tour properties virtually in cyberspace
The pandemic has increased the popularity of virtual tours exponentially and there probably won’t be any turning back. That’s because

1) They let you view many properties online (virtual tours are becoming standard) before you zero in on the very best ones to visit in person (cutting down on driving time) and,

2) They’re getting better and better in terms of quality.


Basic 360s shot on smartphones look ok, but not great (lighting is often an issue and the views can seem weirdly stretched and distorted), but they can give you an idea of a space.


Virtual tours using more advanced software from companies like Matterport and RoOomy offer a premium user experience that’s entertaining and even addictive. Using advanced 3D modelling, the very best online tours now feature “virtual staging” where you can see how the same property might look with several different interior designs, furniture and accessories.


In some cases today, you can even click to buy the latest furnishings via e-commerce! With high resolution imagery and even background music, the best of the virtual tours really have become the future of real estate.

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Did you know you can defer monthly mortgage payments for up to six months? Unpaid interest will get added to your principal and accumulate more interest (potentially lengthening your amortization), but it’s a great option.


According to recent media reports, the Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) is currently buying mortgages from Canadian banks, paying them hard cash to keep them in the black. It’s looking like a very Canadian way of saying, “Hey, we’re all in this together and the CMHC is standing behind Canadian real estate and the financial industry.” What does this mean for you and your mortgage at one of Canada’s major banks? In most cases, absolutely nothing. You’ll still visit your local branch – not a CMHC office -- to renew your mortgage when your term’s up and it’ll be business as usual.

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Downtown Edmonton is loved by residents and visitors alike for its forests, pathways and parks along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River.


Most downtown Edmonton condo properties come in under $1 Million, with some entry level units in older buildings in the low six figures. Living here, you’ll find quick access to exciting night spots, world class cuisine, coffee shops and bars galore, arts, fashion, culture and more.


There are five districts in the zone: Commercial Core, Government Centre, Warehouse District, McKay Avenue and Rice Howard Way.


There’s also an exciting new arrival on the skyline: The Pearl. It’s topped by a condo with this description: “On the market at $2,295,000, this 3,476-square-foot Edmonton penthouse is situated at the top of a 36-storey masterpiece offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city."

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Keep watching the news for updates on Canada’s mortgage regulations.


On February 18, Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance, unveiled changes to the “stress test” that were scheduled to come into effect on April 6. “The new benchmark rate will be the weekly median 5-year fixed insured mortgage rate from mortgage insurance applications, plus 2%,” he announced at the time. These changes are now on hold, pending further review as a result of the current COVID-19 situation.


Industry experts had recently suggested the “stress test rate” be adjusted to make it easier for people qualifying for mortgages. The Canadian government heard them and had initially acted on their recommendations. The basic idea behind the stress test? Even if interest rates rise or you run into financial difficulties, you’re approved for an amount you’d still have a good shot at paying back.


For information on federal and provincial financial support right now if you need it, please visit Canada.ca (Government of Canada) and alberta.ca (Government of Alberta) websites where you’ll find information regarding COVID-19 on each home page.

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Upscale by downsizing
Selling a single family home and moving to a condo can give you a whole new lease on life! When the hectic years of raising a family flow into the tranquility of retired or semi-retired empty-nesting-for-two, your equity can go a long way. And this switch to condo ownership can work for all generations, not just retirees. Downsizing to a cozy and secure condo can free up money while simultaneously upgrading your lifestyle.


Minimal maintenance – No shovel required
In condo land, there’s no grass to cut and no exterior maintenance. As a condo owner, you can watch the work happen while you continue with what you do for a living. Also, the work you actually do yourself (cleaning and minor repairs) isn’t going to take as long as it might in a mansion.


Awesome amenities – Gyms, pools, patios, parties
The condo lifestyle can be as active as you want it to be, with plenty of options via amenities. Work out in gyms. Attend yoga sessions. Swim. Relax on the patios. When the timing is right again, organize parties! Great amenities have become important selling features of urban complexes everywhere.


Community – Exciting shared experiences
Living in a condo development during non-crisis times, you’ll often meet an interesting, varied assortment of neighbours. Most of the time, sharing “community space” in condo developments tends to be a great experience for all. At the moment, please exercise caution.


Affordability – Entry level price points
While condos in high density urban zones like New York City and London can be pricey, most condos aren’t. In Western Canada, many outstanding condos can be found, around town, at reasonable entry-level price points for first-timers.


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Is great access to the Edmonton International Airport important to you? Do you want to live near the edge of the city in an attractive, single-family home neighbourhood (about 10 percent is duplexes)?


If so, take a look at Rutherford in south Edmonton. This community, named after Alberta's first premier, Alexander Cameron Rutherford, used to be farmland. It will soon be surrounded on all sides by quality residential development, with easy access to Anthony Henday Drive (Edmonton’s Ring Road) and Highway 2 (Queen Elizabeth II Highway, running south to Calgary).


Rutherford hasn’t lost its connection to the natural habitat, preserving it with a series of tranquil parks -- including the Virginia Park Woodland -- that dot the neighborhood.


Rutherford is bounded on the west by 127 Street, on the east by James Mowatt Trail (111 Street), on the north by Ellerslie Road and on the south by Blackmud Creek Ravine, with a line connecting the ravine to 127 Street near 25 Avenue SW.

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1. A wave of new buyers.

Spring brings an enormous wave of new buyers into the marketplace, looking for homes. These are both first-timers – many of them Millennials – and people re-sizing (either up or down as their families grow or the nest empties). They come out of hibernation on a Spring mission to upgrade their lifestyles, putting in long hours in the sunshine, looking for their next perfect home. If you’ve had your property on the market for a while, this makes it a whole new game and your best chance to close a sale. If you’ve been thinking of listing, price it right and do it now.


2. Homes show better.

With the extended daylight hours and warmer temperatures, snowbanks melt and the landscape gets greener. Because of this, homes simply “show better” in the Spring. To stage for the season, try adding flowerboxes and plants around your front entrance (see our next article for a grower’s head-start). Without question, planters can make your home more appealing to prospects. Give your property a thorough Spring cleaning. Minimize clutter and let some of the outdoors into your home, if possible. Everything should look bright and fresh, including your chances for a sale.


3. Prices spike and often peak.

This could be because people get money back from Revenue Canada in April/May. It might be because they’re more inclined to spend large sums of money during the invigorating Spring season of renewal. Or, most likely, it’s because of the wave. With more people out looking for a home in the Spring, there’s more competition for homes and a much greater sense of urgency. Heightened demand can lead to bidding wars that drive up prices.


4. Days on Market gets shorter.

As days get longer, time to sell gets shorter! Historically, homes sell faster during the Spring months than most other times of year. With more people out looking (and for more hours every day), they’re often seeing each other at showings. To avoid being out-bid on “perfect homes,” buyers tend to make their offers – and close on their purchases – faster in the Spring. Quick sales and higher sale prices tend to happen together at this time of year.


5. Moving is more fun.

If you have children in school, finding a new home in the Spring means you’ll probably be moving into it after the school year ends. A move during the more leisurely days of summer is simply more relaxing. It can even be fun. Fall and winter moves, by contrast, can coincide with horrendous weather, making it a miserable proposition. And even though we have Spring blizzards in Western Canada, the snow usually melts quickly and moves are more manageable.

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Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world's biggest tech show held in Las Vegas last January showcasing the latest and upcoming innovations from artificial intelligence, robotics, gadgets, and much more. We are highlighting a few of the best smart home tech that were featured in the event in our photo gallery. These gadgets are not only cool but are useful and provide benefits for consumers at home.


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Thanks! We’ve been getting good feedback on our new Neighbourhood Profile feature in this monthly newsletter. We didn’t run it this month because we wanted to share 2019 data, look back over the last few years and get you thinking about 2020. The Neighbourhood Profile is back next month, though, so we ask: “Which Edmonton neighbourhood would you like us to profile next?”
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Home Prices


The results are in. The 2019 home price for Edmonton, based on sales, was $360,262. That was down 3.09 percent from $371,748 in 2018. Looking back, the price rose for three straight years from $367,055 in 2014 to $376,771 in 2017 before a weakened economy drove markets down slightly in 2018 and 2019. It’s difficult right now to predict what’s going to happen next. Some experts believe we’re at the bottom of the market (a great time to buy)! What do you think Edmonton’s home price will be in 2020?


Sold vs New Listings


With 16,557 Edmonton homes sold last year, 2019 was the worst-performing year in the last six. When sales volume is low and supply grows due to new listings, we typically call it a buyer’s market. If you’re selling, you might need to wait for a while before you find a buyer and then you might get a lower offer than what you’re hoping to see. Despite fewer sales in 2019, supply was also lower, tempering this dynamic. The sold-to-listings ratio actually rose by several percentage points.


Time to Sell – Average Days on Market


For five years in a row in Edmonton, the Time to Sell has risen. In 2019, it took an average 64 days (more than two months) to sell a property. In 2014, when sales volume was higher and there were fewer listed properties to choose from, that number was 48 days. If you’re buying in Edmonton, the last few years of lower sales and higher supply have meant there’s been plenty to look at. If job growth and other factors improve, we could see that situation change, with lower supply and faster sales. What do you think is going to happen in 2020?


Market Distribution


Look at the infographic and you’ll see that the vast majority of Edmonton’s home sales activity for 2019 occurred at prices below $800,000. The highest volume (3,596 sold) was in the $300,000 to $399,999 price range. Five properties were purchased for $2-$3 Million. Only two sold for more than $3 Million last year.

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Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.