"Not All REALTORS® Are Alike"©

Many analysts currently believe the Government of Canada is going to keep interest rates ultra low until 2023. Why? Because, to have a healthy Canadian economy during these challenging times, we need to keep spending, investing and, yes, borrowing money in the form of loans and mortgages. A low interest rate makes it easier for everyone to do just that.

If you’re buying your principal residence, a low rate can mean an easier approval on your first-time or new mortgage as well as significant savings over a fixed term. If you’re an investor, a rock-bottom rate can save you interest on your loans and mortgages, helping you invest even more and keep the economy going! For sellers, low interest rates can mean more potential buyers because more people can get approved for mortgages. That, in turn, can sometimes mean higher prices. If you’re selling, it presents an improved opportunity to move up to a more expensive property with a bigger yard and more square footage for the home gym and office. Moving up like that is very popular at the moment, with many Canadians looking for more space.

As your realtor, when interest rates are low, we can cast a wider marketing net, pitching your for sale property to more people because it’s easier for them to get bank financing. Even if you’re not ready to sell, 2021 might be a great year to re-finance your debt and improve your cash flow. You might want to renovate your home for a higher level of comfort during the next months and years, knowing there’s a good chance you’ll be working from home at least some of the time.

Is there any downside to lower interest rates? Not really, except: Buyers sometimes get into trouble when they acquire a low-interest mortgage without locking it in. If the rate goes up, you might not see a major monthly payment increase, but there will typically be an adjustment of your terms. The interest over that extended term can add-up, big-time. To counter this, opt for a medium term with a fixed, not floating, rate.

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If you want to surround yourself with the natural beauty of Edmonton’s river valley, take a look at Riverdale. This neighbourhood is often described as being one of the city’s most attractive.

Enclosed by the North Saskatchewan River to the east and south, and by the high cliffs of the valley on the west and north, it is a well-established community on a large, flat area about a mile away from the downtown core. Originally settled more than 100 years ago, it was the site of heavy industry, with coal mining, brick manufacturing and a lumber mill. Today, many character homes remain, along with a small church and brick school in a setting full of mature trees.

Parks near Riverdale include Allan Stein, Dawson, and Louise McKinney Riverfront Park. The nicely-landscaped Riverside Golf Club is here, too. Like other close-to-the-core communities, Riverdale real estate ranges from entry level condos and half-duplexes (still very stylish and comfortable) to luxurious single-family homes on multi-acre lots, many with great views.

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Whether you plan to stay put and work from your current home or look for a new one with more square footage (so you can add an even more serious workspace), check these home office set up ideas!
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The work-from-home (WFH) trend is here to stay. Here’s how to make it as cool as can be!

Design your space to fit your work style.
Side hustle or skyrocketing commercial enterprise? You’ll need to decide whether to

1) add an office nook to your kitchen;

2) convert your guest room to a profit centre or,

3) buy an Airstream Globetrotter (bus-like RV) and park your new home-office-on-wheels in the driveway for easier shipping and receiving!

Fill it with as much light as possible.
Light boosts productivity. Natural light from windows and skylights scores highest and, if you’ve got that going, add living plants for more oxygen, too. Otherwise, fill-er up with fixtures and stock up on lightbulbs!

Save your back.
Splurge on an ergonomic, high-performance captain’s chair. You’re going to spend hours in it, so take full control of your own comfort and health.

Give yourself serious surface space.
A cluttered, old desk or table – with no room for everything you’re working on – leads to a messy business. You’re serious about your business, right?

Try a stand-up desk.
Going vertical could heighten your productivity! These come in two varieties: High-end furniture pieces and makeshift inventions. You decide. You’re the boss here, after all. If you want to use a bar-cart, that could work.

Connect with high-speed Internet.
Your customers & community expect it. This is now the era of empowering Zoom meetings and seamless e-commerce. Think fast!

Set up sensible storage, so you can really organize your stuff.
Use drawers, a filing cabinet, even an entire wall of storage compartments to ensure everything has its place and you can quickly find whatever you need.

Give your space style & personality.
Dress it up for Zoom video calls! Feel good – and help others feel good – about you, your company and your brand. Don’t forget to add inspirational artwork!

Avoid merging work & leisure in one zone, if possible.
At worst, it’s a recipe for disaster (think spills and equipment getting wrecked). At best, it’s still an intrusion on either 1) work productivity or 2) leisure-time fun.

Get some of the latest, greatest home office furniture & devices.
Check out the new wall-beds (aka Murphy beds) with desks. This is a great idea for guest room – office conversions. And then some.

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What can we expect to see happening with Edmonton real estate in 2021? That depends who you ask.

While we wait for the annual expert reviews and predictions (usually in early February; watch for our coverage), we’ve mostly been hearing from economists and the realty firms that the 2021 activity and pricing across the country should be similar to 2020 or “up” slightly. That means a price increase of somewhere between 4% and 6% nationally according to some. Here in Edmonton, it should translate to about 2%, putting the YEG average price somewhere in the high-300’s.

Factors currently shaping the real estate market here include COVID-19, low interest rates, oversupply of apartment-style condos (downward pull-on overall pricing) and continued strong demand for single family homes with more space for offices and gyms, large, fenced yards for dogs, kids and food gardens.

Thinking of listing? Right now, could be a great time to do so! Looking for a new place with more space (for the swanky home office and gym)? I know where you can find it.

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Average Days On Market (ADOM or DOM) is an important indicator in the real estate world. It's calculated by dividing the total days on the market for all listings in a given area by the number of listings.

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For many years, the Edmonton community of Crestwood, with its canopy of snowy branches, has been known during the holidays as Candy Cane Lane. It’s visited from sunset to midnight by families from across the city and beyond. Why?

Because every year, beginning some time in November, the entire neighbourhood (meaning every household) decorates the outsides of their homes with lights of every colour and configuration, filling the area with the joyful spirit of the season. And every year, local businesses, residents and visitors donate food items and other gifts to the Edmonton Food Bank for those less fortunate.

From its official website at “It not only serves as a source of pure joy for all who pass by, but also a welcomed oasis for the less fortunate and those with health challenges, including children at the Stollery Children's Hospital, patients from the Cross Cancer Institute and countless retirement and extended care homes.”

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1. Bake like a mother...or a grandmother! There's nothing better than Christmas cookies or a tasty pie to get everyone around your home feeling festive during these trying times.

2. Fill your house with music. It doesn't have to be Christmas tunes but there are some good ones you might not have heard for a while. They're all on YouTube.

3. If your dream is to sell or buy real estate in December 2020, keep that dream alive! Imagine this: "Honey, open your eyes and look at what I bought you for Christmas (It's a new home)!"

4. Light up your property! That "For Sale" sign out front can look even better with some light (or a string of lights) on it. Throw some coloured floodlights onto trees in the yard while you’re at it!

5. Deep clean your home, streamline your stuff and open your closets to charity! You'll feel good and you'll make someone else's holidays great. Cleaner is safer right now.

6. Watch Christmas movies with themes of love and giving and get into the spirit of the season.

7. Buy a batch of old-fashioned holiday greeting cards, write them and send them the old-school way via Canada Post. Don't procrastinate!

8. Connect online via Zoom for LIVE gift exchange parties, karaoke craziness and eggnog (alcoholic and/or non).

9. Drive! Visit neighbourhoods you've never seen before to check out the lights and decorations. Get out-of-town and see snow-capped peaks from the highways at dusk. This is peak season for Northern Lights, too!

10. Stock up on firewood or buy a portable, fuel-burning fire-pit for the yard and keep the home fires burning. If you’re in an apartment condo, set the mood with the fire log channel on TV. Here comes 2021!

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Affluent buyers seeking more land and more privacy.

Western Canada’s 2020 luxury property market continues to exceed expectations with all kinds of activity, ironically, as a result of the times we’re in. Yes, it’s a financially challenging year for most of us. But with the call for social distancing and the work-from-home trend, people who can afford it are buying larger homes in the suburbs, away from the urban density. Mortgage rates are low at the moment in Canada and these affluent buyers usually have no problem qualifying.

Across the country this summer and fall, there has been increased demand for expensive vacation homes and large, suburban properties with more land and more privacy. Properties in the “luxury” category sell at about three times the average home price in the market. Calgary and Edmonton luxury properties start at about $1.5 Million right now. What does that get you?

In any of these markets a detached, single family home in the “entry-level luxury category” has at least twice the square footage, extra space for gyms and spas, home offices and sprawling, restaurant-grade kitchens with (for example) Molteni, Sub-Zero, Wolf or Gaggenau appliances. The kitchen will almost certainly feature an island, possibly topped with Italian Carrara marble and a sink boasting crystal faucet handles (or no handles at all). Your bathroom might feature a tub carved by Japanese company Stone Forest from a block of granite! For the luxury price, you’ll get an expansive, open floorplan with beautiful hardwood, tile or marble floors, standalone indoor fire features, soaring ceilings, modern chandeliers and massive, high-end windows with tint control or automated blinds. In Edmonton, luxury property views feature might be the North Saskatchewan River Valley. All of the above is pretty much a given at the low end of the luxury category! If you’ve got the cash, you might like a spec-built mega mansion with wraparound deck and infinity pool plus two-lane tunnel to the underground supercar garage with elevator to the rooftop helicopter pad.

These abodes do exist in Western Canada. They’re priced in the tens of millions of dollars. Worldwide, in the hottest markets, that price skyrockets into the hundreds of millions!

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There’s a nice curve in the North Saskatchewan River that runs through southeast Edmonton, close to ravines. On the south shore of the bend, you’ll find Gold Bar, a residential area named after gravel bars where prospectors panned for gold in the 1800s. Beautiful Gold Bar Park is on the east side of this community, connecting further south with another gorgeous greenspace called Goldstick.

The community runs east from 50th St. to the ravines of these parks and south to 101 Ave. It boasts off-leash areas for dogs, networks of urban trails and cross-country skiing in the winter. Single-family homes -- many built during the 1950s when the area developed rapidly -- typically run from the 300’s to the 600’s, averaging out somewhere in the middle. It’s peaceful and full of beautiful views.

For shopping, there are businesses at 50th St and 101 Ave and Capilano Mall is nearby, in the community of Ottewell. There are two schools here: Gold Bar Elementary (run by the Edmonton Public Schools Division) and Mount Carmel Bible School, a private Catholic post-secondary school.

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Selling a home is not always easy if you have pets. In fact, some experts warn that owning a pet can reduce your home's value. Not if you’re proactive. Here are five tips on making the sale while you and your pet are out for walk in the park!

Always leave – with your pets – during showings. Let your agent make the sale and then return with all people and pets refreshed and relaxed.

Hire a handyman to replace structural elements of your home that your pets might have trashed. Start by inspecting baseboards, floors and doors for scratches and bite damage.

Bring in the movers! You might not have sold yet, but you need to get any chewed-up furniture out the door and into storage… pronto!

Replace carpets and subfloors if they’ve been soaked by your pet. Talk to a carpet retailer about replacement solutions.

Paint the place neutral with odor-free primer. Make it look and smell like new, free of any offensive stench!

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If your list of essentials for your next Edmonton neighbourhood includes “close to downtown” plus access to public transit, the Commonwealth Stadium, a top library and many restaurants, take a closer look at Alberta Avenue, one of the city’s older areas (dating back to 1894). It’s currently undergoing a revitalization.

Property prices here are still reasonable and the neighbourhood has recently been ranked very high for investment by local real estate writers. What types of properties are here? In terms of single family detached homes, there’s everything from small “starter” bungalows to enormous two-storey character houses. The lots might be small (the community was developed shortly after WWII), but the trees aren’t (they’re huge), so it feels calm and private.

The Community of Alberta Avenue is bordered by 122 Ave (north), 111 Ave (south), 89 St (east) and 97 St (west). It’s a great community for families with children. There are two local schools here and it’s easy to get to just about anywhere, especially the 111 Ave, 118 Ave and 95 St retail corridors.

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The 5K+ William Hawrelak (WH) Park Riverside Walk takes you around a beautiful, North Saskatchewan riverbend. It starts in the WH Park, named after the former mayor of Edmonton and the site of many festivals. Park at Picnic Site #2, then cut across to Emily Murphy Park, crossing a few roads (be careful).

Once there, follow the trail under the bridge. It weaves through the trees and brush. There are some great views of the river. As you return to Picnic Site #2, you’ll pass the WH Park’s lake.

Visit this site for more info.

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