GREG STEELE

"Not All REALTORS® Are Alike"©

First-time homebuyers have something to look forward to in the new 2019 federal budget: Canada's housing agency is offering to pitch in towards the purchase price.


Exact details of how this "shared equity mortgage” will work still need to be hashed out by the government and are expected to be released in the fall.


In the meantime, this is what we know so far about the new incentive:


The First Time Home Buyer Incentive is a measure to help with housing affordability and lower the amount of money Canadians pay.


Under the program, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) contributes up to 10 per cent of the purchase price of a home. This brings down the mortgage load for borrowers.


In exchange, the CMHC gets a 10 per cent stake in the house — which is why it’s described as a “"shared equity mortgage."


For example, let’s say a homebuyer is purchasing a $400,000 property. Under both the old and the new rules, they need at least a $20,000 down payment — five per cent of the price.


So that means they would usually need to borrow the remaining $380,000 as a mortgage.


Under the new program, the CMHC would contribute 10 per cent and so throw in an additional $40,000 at the time of purchase. That means the buyer only needs to take out a $340,000 mortgage – which leads to savings over month-to-month payments.


Homebuyers pay back the money to the CMHC when they sell the house (or sooner, if they want).


Essentially, it acts as an interest-free loan but what is still not clear is if the buyer pays back the same dollar amount that was originally fronted or if it changes based on the increased value of the home. 
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Walk in Her Shoes (April 6)

Women and girls in developing countries must walk an average of 10,000 steps every day to collect the basics their families need to survive –water, food and firewood. This event helps raise awareness and funds to end the cycle of poverty.

AVENTURA Live Salsa Bachata Series (April 6 – 7)
A Latin dance series playing a mix of Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba music.

Calm Abiding Meditation Retreat (April 13)
Catch your breath at this one-day meditation retreat.

Spring Gallery Walk (April 13 – 14)
More than 30 artists and eight galleries are featured in this springtime tour.

The Celtic Tenors (April 16)
This popular trio from Ireland are taking the globe by a storm.

Kids All In (April 25)
A fundraising event at the casino to support children’s programs.

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Home designs, though more permanent than the fast fashion of catwalks, still follow the ebbs and flows of trends.


What homebuyers look for and want in a home is partially dependent on what is popular and trending at the time of purchase. Gone are the days of orange carpets, patterned curtains, and burgundy furniture of our parents’ generation.


Currently, the latest home trends reflect a shift in society due to land shortages, home prices, and the economy. Going smaller has become more popular, with an emphasis on sustainability and affordability, without forgoing comfort.


Here are some of the top trends right now.


1. Light and airy
Natural light has physical and mental benefits — and home buyers know that. People want to feel more connected to the outdoors and so look for more windows, screened porches and better access to the views outside.


2. Technology for greater convenience
Society’s gadgets and technology has increased at an outstanding rate. Things that used to be part of a futurist dream — like robotic house-helpers — are now part of a reality. Homebuyers are starting to expect things like smart fridges and smart alarm systems in their homes the sake of convenience. The technology exists, so why not?


3. Big tubs and remodelled bathrooms
Bathroom renovations are huge right now. No one wants a dingy, dark hole-in-the-wall bathroom and, instead, there’s a growing emphasis on a more spa-like experience.


Overhead showers, particularly square-shaped ones, are making a come back. But the biggest surprise is the demand for big, free-standing tubs: Homebuyers wants a little corner of luxury in their home.


4. Colours and motifs
Grey is the least popular colour currently — colours set the tone of the room and keep things feeling fresh. Trending colours right now include different tons of green and wood details.


5. Sustainability and green-minded
Things like solar panels, charging ports for electric cars and water-runoff systems are spiking in demand. It’s popular across the board, both for the environmentally conscious and those looking to save money long-term.

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Swing into Spring: Witches Market (March 9)
The Original Witches Market brings in spring with more than 40 vendors selling everything from herbs to soul stones.


Floral Education Week (March 11 – 15)
Florists come together for a week of information sessions all about plants, aimed at anyone looking to start a career in the industry or simply learn more about flowers.


Edmonton Boat and Sportsmen’s Show (March 14 – 17)
The show covers all aspects of outdoor life from boating and off-roading to hiking and fishing.


Annual Interfaith Symposium (March 14)
A ladies-only event that brings women together for an interfaith dialogue focused on peace and respect.

Spring Craft Retreat (March 15- 16)
A workshop to learn all about creation and craft-making.


Western Canada Fashion Week (March 20 – 24)
Five nights of runway shows and fashion extravaganza, for big names and new talent alike.

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Who doesn’t dream of a multi-room house with a large garden and picket fence? But sometimes, your palace might be a bit smaller than you hoped and you’ll have to get creative with the space.


Tiny homes, which are less than 400 square feet, are becoming increasingly popular in big cities like Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.  Despite their size, tiny homes are subject to the same land use bylaws as other residencies.  


However, mobile tiny homes have to abide to a different set of municipal rules, depending on whether they are built on a chassis or on a permanent undercarriage. For example, parking regulations can vary city to city.


We turned to people living in the smallest of spaces for advice: those living in vans, RVs, micro-homes, laneway houses, and other unusual set-ups for a variety of tips.  


No matter what your living situation is, these ideas will inspire better living in minimal spaces.


1. Dual purpose storage

 

"If and when you need to bring organizational pieces into your tiny home, consider stylish items that can function beyond their intended purpose," says Whitney Leigh Morris, author and founder of The Tiny Canal Cottage.


Items that pull double duty, like storage chests that act as seats, are both functional and stylish.

 

2. Wall mounted shelves

 

"Open shelving allows you to see what you have, while maintaining openness," say Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons, who live and travel in a tiny home on wheels.


These shelves can be everything from pots and pans, spices, and bicycles. Open shelves help create the illusion of space by clearing the floor.


3. Space saving tables and beds


Furniture that folds up and tucks away, like a bed that hides away or turns into a couch, means more space for everyday use. Some tables, for example, have hinges so you can hide it away when not in use.


4. Use lighter colours  

"Use white or light color paint on your walls. Painted wall panels can also lead your eye to a focal point, creating length in your space," says Jenna Spesard, who runs a tiny house blog.


A lighter colour palette brightens up a space and makes it look larger. Avoid dark coloured woods.


5. Think vertically


"Store items high and low, and out of the eye-line to make spaces seem bigger," says blogger Jenna Spesard.


Other tricks to make space look bigger include hanging mirrors up and keeping windows clear and open.

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Every January, Edmonton mails out property assessments for both municipal and provincial taxation purposes. The assessment reflects the estimate market value — essentially how much it would sell on an open market.


The tax rate is calculated by dividing the city’s budgetary needs by the number of properties assessed. As an individual homeowner, you then pay a share of that tax based on the rate and the assessed value of your property.


This means that the amount of tax you pay each year can fluctuate based on the assessed value of your home or the city’s budget.


If you disagree with the assessment, it’s possible to dispute it.


Before reaching out to the city, check the factual information on record, review your assessment, and compare your assessment to similar properties through a sale search. 


Contact the city or Edmonton’s Assessment Review Board with any concerns.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream (until Feb. 9)
One of Shakespeare’s best known plays, filled with humour and mirth. 


The Art of the Book (until Feb. 16)
A book event that only happens once every five years, this is a great opportunity to learn more about both Canadian and international book artists.

Chinook Series (until Feb. 17)
A 11-day performance series that brings everything from dance to theatre together for the community.


Swingin' City Sundays (until Feb. 24)
Free live music and dance lessons every Sunday at City Hall this month.


Habitat for Humanity workshops (until Feb. 28)
The non-profit housing organization is offering workshops to the public — not only are these a pre-requisite to volunteer with the group, it’s a great way to learn about home building and renovations.


Mommy Mentors for Professionals (until March 4)
A great network for other career-minded moms to seek advice and support each other.


Portraits Exhibition (until April)
From quirky to iconic, this art exhibition has a little bit of something for everyone to identify with.

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Putting together your resolutions and goals for the new year is a great motivation to make positive changes in your life.


Although we sometimes fall off our resolutions quickly, we can think of our resolutions as a plan, and make it a habit to celebrate small milestones you’ve achieved to keep you inspired and excited throughout the year.


We searched the net and put together the 20 most popular resolutions that people write every year.


  • Lose weight or stay in shape
  • Eat healthier 
  • Live a more active lifestyle
  • Travel more and see the world
  • Save more money
  • Get out of debt
  • Get a new job (turn hobbies into a career)
  • Enjoy and love yourself more (Self-care)
  • Learn a new skill
  • Read more
  • Get a new hobby
  • Make new friends
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Reduce stress
  • Stop procrastinating
  • Find a significant other
  • Be more confident and face your fears
  • Reinvent yourself or give yourself a makeover 
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink less alcohol
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Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out (until Mar 21)
Explore this amazing exhibition created by Dr. Gunther von Hagens at the Telus World of Science. You can examine the anatomy of over 100 animals including exotic species.

Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation in IMAX (Jan 10 – Jan 31)
Watch this film at IMAX - Telus World of Science with family exploring volcanoes and their impact on humans and the world.

Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival (Jan 12 – Jan 13)
Bring your family and friends, and have an amazing weekend at the 12th annual Deep Freeze Winter Festival. Enjoy the cold weather, and join the games and fun.

The Dark Crystal: PJ Party in the IMAX Theatre (Jan 19)
Watch this movie classic at IMAX - Telus World of Science in your coziest pj’s with family and friends.

Ballet BC (Jan 22 – Jan 23)
Experience an evening of dance from this internationally acclaimed ballet company and created by some of the most celebrated choreographers of our time.

The Art of the Book 2018 (Jan 22 – Feb 16)
Visit this juried exhibition of the book arts at the University of Alberta. The exhibition includes artists’ books, boxes, calligraphy, and more by Canadian and international book artists.

A Night Under the Stars - Friend Raiser Gala (Jan 26)
Support the Sturgeon Community Hospital Foundation by attending the 27th Friend Raiser Gala at The Enjoy Centre in St. Albert.

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Make Your Own Gingerbread House (Dec. 15)
A great way to pass the time with some kids and get them in the spirit of Christmas.

Winter Wagon Nights (Dec. 20 – 23)
Experience the holiday spirit with family, friends, and loved ones in a cozy horse-drawn wagon ride at Fort Edmonton.

Christmas Group Show (until Dec. 22)
An exhibition with more than 30 painters, glass artists and others showing off their work.

Snowshoe and stargaze (Dec. 22)
A lovely way to pass the evening outside, taking in some amazing sights.

Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert (Dec. 30)
An annual Edmonton tradition, this year’s concert will feature Strauss waltzes and sweeping melodies from beloved operettas performed by acclaimed European singers, champion ballroom dancers, ballet, and live symphony orchestra.

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Upgrading your home is a significant, often life changing decision so it’s natural for sellers to wonder when’s the best time to make such a monumental move.


If you are upgrading homes — selling and buying — waiting means the price of home you are trying to sell also drops.

Buying and selling simultaneously means that you’ll still be ahead of the game because the price reduction on the new house is likely to be greater than the loss on the old home, if the new home is worth more — that’s just a simple math in terms of percentages.


Example of 10 per cent down market

$300,000 current home: Down 10 per cent of $30,000 would make it now $270,000

$500,000 future home: Down 10 per cent of $50,000 would make it now $450,000

$50,000 - $30,000 Gain = $20,000

$450,000 - $270,000 = $180,000 (i.e. you are spending an additional $180,000 to move into your dream home)


Housing markets drop but they also spike back up. Wait too long and you may be facing the opposite problem.

If your home goes back up to 10 per cent to $300,000, this is what happens.


Example of 10 per cent back up market

$300,000 current home

$500,000 future home

$500,000 - $300,000 = $200,000 (i.e. you are spending an additional $200,000 to move into your dream home)


While it’s important to look at the general market trends, trying to predict where they’ll head next can turn into a guessing game.


You simply cannot time the market perfectly but spending “time in the market” beats trying to “time the market.”

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Before we move on to decorating for the holidays, let's continue on the fall home décor theme. Our photo gallery features some creative and unique door wreaths ideas you can use to beautify your home this fall.

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