GREG STEELE

"Not All REALTORS® Are Alike"©

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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To quickly sell your home for a good price in a hot market, out-prep your competitors. Here's how:

1. It’s Been Deep Cleaned
Now more than ever, every room in your house has to look pristine. Don’t over-do it, though, with strong-smelling industrial-strength chemicals.


2. You Staged it like a Pro (or hired one)
Rent new furniture if you have to. Upgrade window coverings, buy new rugs and place fresh, white towels in the bathrooms. Put family photos in albums and then in storage.


3. It Appeals and Excites from the Curb
Buyers often tell you they were “sold” as they caught their first glimpse of your property. The flip side is this: You’ll lose the sale quickly if you don’t optimize curb appeal.


4. The New Paint Just Dried
The ROI on paint is high. Even if prospects have other colours in mind, a fresh coat of neutral paint on everything can help you close the sale.


5. The Kitchen Gleams
Some say the kitchen sells the house. It’s a top contributor. Stainless steel? Make it gleam. Older appliances? Consider buying one new one. It’ll give the full lineup a lift.


6. The Bathrooms Beckon
Stepping into spotless, well-organized bathrooms is always a nice surprise. When your home is on the market, consider it a must!


7. The Bedroom is a Sanctuary
Your space is competing with master bedrooms that boast spa-like ensuites, spacious walk-in closets and an overall feeling of retreat-style comfort. Win the competition.


8. You’re Out for Coffee
Not to be rude, but: Get out! It doesn’t matter how charming you are or what mood you’re in. Go for a drive or a long walk and find out later how everything went.


9. It Looked Great Online and Better for Real
It has to look great online. Approve the photos and hire a pro if need be. During showings, prep your home with great lighting and like new, “buy now” appeal.


10. You Made the Windows Laugh!
No streaks. No anything. Remember the TV commercial? “Mommy, you’re making the windows laugh!” Wipe them until they squeak (or laugh). Bring the outside in.

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The Garneau area of Edmonton has been described as “melting into the University of Alberta grounds” that border it.


The busy High Level Bridge connects it to downtown Edmonton. The LRT and major city bus routes run right through the neighbourhood, whisking you quickly to Whyte Avenue and 109 Street for shopping.


And this leafy, mature treed community, one of Edmonton’s oldest, also has one of its most diverse and funky assortments of coffee shops, restaurants and craft beer pubs anywhere in Alberta!


Looking for a property here? You’re not alone, although the majority of the community’s inhabitants are actually renters, living in character houses or walk-up apartments. If you’re buying, you can choose between new condo towers or one of the many 1950s era houses. Whatever you choose, you’ll benefit from the neighbourhood’s good schools, access to the University of Alberta Hospital and proximity to the river valley for world class scenery and recreation.

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Three new Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) lending regulations went into effect July 1, 2020. Note, these might not affect you if you get mortgage insurance from private companies, rather than from CHMC.


Source of Down Payment
CMHC says: Non-traditional sources of down payments that increase indebtedness will no longer be treated as equity for insurance purposes.
What it means: CMHC will no longer allow you to use borrowed funds for your down payment.


Debt Service Ratios
CMHC says: (We’re) lowering the maximum GDS from 39 per cent to 35 per cent and the maximum TDS from 44 per cent to 42 per cent.
What it means: Gross Debt Service ratio (GDS) is the share of income used to cover a mortgage + other housing costs like property taxes. Total Debt Service ratio (TDS) is the share of income used to cover housing costs + cost of servicing other debts. With a 39 per cent GDS (previously), a family with $100K income and 10 percent down would have qualified to buy a $524,980 home. Under the new rules, that same family would only be approved to buy a $462,860 home, a reduction of 12 percent.


Credit Score
CMHC says: Credit scores must be at least 680, up from the previous 600.
What it means: Would-be homebuyers' qualifying credit scores must be at least 680, up from the previous 600.
Not sure you’ll meet the new CMHC requirements? As mentioned, you might still be OK. As of this writing, the rules don’t apply if you get your insurance with private companies such as Genworth MI Canada Inc. and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co.

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Four ways to learn about the school in your new neighbourhood

Buying a new family home and planning to move with school-age kids?
You’ll either want to
1) pick the perfect school first or,
2) find your dream neighbourhood first and then check out the schooling options.


Either way, here are four tips on getting good school information to help you make the right decisions.


1. Find the highest-ranked schools
For rankings, the Frasier Institute’s page at compareschoolrankings.org is your source to see which schools top the lists. Use the pull-down menu immediately below the header to select your province. Use the List view to see schools alphabetically by city. The rankings are based heavily on average scores from province-wide tests.


2. See the schools on real estate maps
Read the recent Realtor.ca article Moving with Kids? How to Choose a Great School... (). It’s a good primer. Then, from any listing on Realtor.ca, click Neighbourhood then select Elementary Schools or High Schools from the menu on the left. You’ll see them on the map. Click the school name in the left menu and information – including the school’s website address -- pops up over its map location. Explore!


3. Visit the school websites… and school boards, too!
Edmonton Public Schools (epsb.ca) educates 104,930 students in 213 public schools. Edmonton Catholic Schools (ecsd.net) operates 95 schools with 44,330 students. Each of these websites (above) features a directory with links to school websites. There are also three charter schools and many private schools in Edmonton. Visit ourkids.net for more information.


4. Visit the schools & chat with teachers and principals!
Once you’ve done your online research – including a look at the Frasier rankings (see above) – arrange to meet with the school’s Principal, administration and teachers, if possible. If you get the chance, walk to the school from the new location of your prospective home. That’ll give you an idea of what the walk or ride will be like for your kids.

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If you’re looking for a neighbourhood undergoing revitalization (with new multi-family developments) that’s close to downtown Edmonton, check out Queen Mary Park.


It runs north-south from 111 Avenue to 105 Avenue and east-west from 109 Street to 121 Street. Much of the original construction took place from the 1950s to ‘70s. Lately, though, the southern edge has seen a proliferation of clean, modern condo buildings as a result of university expansion and a new downtown arena. While a high percentage of the single family homes are owner-occupied, many of the apartment condos are rented out. This makes for a diverse neighbourhood population, with lots of investment properties.


The Holland Plaza (a local mall) opened in 2016 with popular restaurants and cafes that have been featured in local magazines and have lots of good online reviews.

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To get the fastest property sale at the best price, most people agree it makes sense to work with a real estate agent. It’s also about comfort and security, because it’s a legal process and it’ll be one of the biggest financial transactions of your life! Agents understand all of this.


We’ll begin working with you by helping you price your home right. We know the market and have all the comparative sales data. Once we’ve helped you determine your price, we’ll build awareness of your property listing. To do that, we’ll use the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) and leverage Realtor.ca®, with its massive traffic as shown in the infographic below.


And on top of all that, we’ll typically activate a marketing plan that can include printing brochures and reaching out to our own networks of buyers and other realtors. We’ll help you stage your home and optimize curb appeal. We’ll run open houses (including virtual showings for out-of-town buyers), conduct showings and screen potential buyers.


In short, we’ll have your back through every aspect of your property sale. Not a bad deal, right?!

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1. Meet with your agent
Even if you’ve bought properties before, it’s a big deal! Have all your questions answered, gain clarity and eliminate doubts. Get excited and work with us -- your real estate agents -- to enhance your action plan. You’ve got this!

2. Get pre-approved
Know how much you can borrow by paying a visit to the bank. Two things can happen: 1) You’ll save time by knowing what you can’t afford; 2) You’ll be surprised by how much home you can buy! Get that certainty and let us show you what’s out there!


3. Find a great home
Access helpful online resources and tap into your agent’s in-depth community knowledge. Remember that we spend a good amount of time navigating the city with clients, showing homes and getting to know neighbourhoods.


4. Make your offer
What’s your final price? Your possession date and conditions? To get the best deal, negotiate the details with your realtor’s expert help. We’re in negotiations all the time, working on your behalf to protect and promote your interests, whether you’re a buyer or seller.


5. Complete your due diligence
Finalize your financing and hire the right professionals. As your agents, we have all the connections you need to get this done. Ensure that you’ve made good decisions and/or uncover any hidden issues that need attention now… to minimize headaches later!


6. Seal the deal
We’re real estate agents. Sealing the deal -- legally and efficiently -- is a huge part of the value we deliver! Let us help you sign off on all your conditions and contingencies. Together, let’s make it official. Let’s make it SOLD!


7. Prepare for closing
Meet your lawyer and organize your move, getting utilities, tax programs and insurance in place. Ask us if you have any questions about any of this. We can provide checklists and we’re always available for a quick phone chat.


8. Take possession
Once the money is transferred, you’ll get the keys. Enjoy your new home! It’s all yours!

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We get your thinking about those hot summer days when you hit the beach… and do absolutely nothing.
Bring summer in by adding a swing chair hammock in your outdoor patio.
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Paddle boarding and kayaking are popular summer sports. You’ll see people enjoying both if you visit Summerside, an active, lakeside community located east of Highway 2 in Southeast Edmonton.


Residents here live in a resort-style environment right inside the city. They can rent boats or play tennis and volleyball at the private Summerside Beach Club. Or they can simply lounge on the beach. Those lucky enough to have landed waterfront properties can sit on their docks with their feet in the water.


This idyllic setting also features good access to the South Edmonton Common, with big box retail and movie theatres. Highway 2 is less than a minute away, taking you quickly to the Edmonton International Airport, then south to Red Deer and Calgary.


There are also great amenities and businesses very close to the community. Adjacent, you’ll find a supermarket, brew pubs, many small businesses, car and motorcycle dealerships. Most properties in Summerside are detached single family homes. There are also nice apartment- and townhome-style condos.

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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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Copyright 2020 by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. All Rights Reserved.
Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.