GREG STEELE

"Not All REALTORS® Are Alike"©

As the famous Benjamin Franklin quote goes, there are two things in life that are unavoidable – death and taxes. Luckily, at least one of those can be made easier with the right knowledge. With filing deadlines fast approaching, here are a few things to know this season.


Individuals in Canada must file their income tax returns by April 30, which falls on a Friday this year. If you are self-employed, or your spouse is, the deadline to file is extended to June 15 although any balance must still be paid by April 30.


There are a few federal homeowners tax credits you should know about when preparing your return.


First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit
If you purchased your first home in the 2020 tax year, or if you haven't lived in a home owned by you or your spouse in the last four years, you may qualify for the First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit (HBTC) of $5,000, which adds $750 to your tax refund.


GST New Housing Rebate

If you paid Goods and Services Tax (GST) on a home that was newly built or substantially renovated last year, you might be able to take advantage of a new housing rebate on part of the tax.


Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)
The Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC) could help you save taxes on an eligible renovation costing up to $10,000 if you and the property meet specific criteria. The renovations have to be permanent, make the home more accessible or reduce the potential harm to the qualifying individual, and be completed by qualified professional tradespeople.


Rental income deductions
If you rent out all, or even just part, of your property you must declare the income on your taxes. The good news is you can also claim allowable expenses such as advertising fees, property taxes, insurance, and interest on money you borrowed to purchase or renovate the rental property


Moving for work or school

If you moved to attend school full time, launch a new business, or take a new job, your moving expenses – like moving company bills, hotel bills, and legal fees - could be tax-deductible.


Working from home

Like any year, if you are a business owner or self-employed and work from home, you can claim certain expense related to your work that could include a portion of your utility bills, homeowners' insurance, internet bills, office supplies, and more.


In 2020, because of COVID-19, there are additional working-from-home expenses that you may be eligible for. The CRA allows all employees who worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to claim up to $400 as a flat rate or $2 per day in employment expenses. Read more about eligibility here.


This information is for general use and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Please speak to an accountant about your specific situation.

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The Highlands neighbourhood in north east Edmonton is a popular residential area and, a few years ago in 2012, it was named one of Canada's top ten neighbourhoods of old homes by the magazine “This Old House.”


The neighbourhood was annexed to the city in 1912 and got its name from a contest that offered a $50 dollar prize for the best suggestion – and Highlands it became!


Highlands is surrounded on the north by 118 Avenue, on the east by 50 Street, on the west by 67 Street, and on the south by the North Saskatchewan River valley. Residents have easy access to the University of Alberta and Whyte Avenue, as well as wonderful views of the North Saskatchewan River Valley. It is the perfect place for anyone looking to settle down.

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Cherrydale Park
7524 139 Avenue
There are a variety of stretching and strength stations at this park, which are found along a walking trail. There is also signage about healthy eating and living for additional tips.


Gateway Fitness Park (The Village at Blackmud Creek)
1006 103A Street SW
At this park, you will find pods along a walking trail and equipment that includes strength, balance and stretching stations.


Grandview
124 Street and 63 Avenue
This park has a grouped circuit which includes cardio equipment, like elliptical and strength-based equipment like leg and body lifts.


John J. Olinyk Park (Beverly Heights Park)
4626 115 Avenue
You’ll find a variety of stretching and strength stations along a walking path. There is also a playground nearby and a chess tables.

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Here’s how to create a home gym that you’ll actually want to work out in – without breaking the bank or dedicating half your living room to unnecessary fancy gym gadgets.


1) Set your fitness goals
What do your goals have to do with your home gym? Everything. Having a clear goal in mind will inform what kind of set up you need. Are you focusing on cardio, strength, endurance, flexibility or a mixture? Have a clear picture in your mind of what you will be aiming for before you begin – and it’ll help you achieve those goals, too! 


2) Select a space
Which space you decide to use for your workouts is a personal decision based on your specific circumstances. If you have a basement, a garage or a spare room – fantastic! For smaller-space dwellers, a spot in the living room or bedroom will work just as well. All you really need is a yoga mat-sized space. On warmer and dry days, don’t forget to utilize the outdoor space you have access to (and keep reading for a list of the best parks for workouts in your city!)


3) Modify your space
Make sure there is adequate lighting and airflow. You may also want to set up a full-length mirror to keep an eye on your form. If you live above other residents in an apartment, make sure the floor is sufficiently padded to avoid potential noise complaints from jumping or dropping weights. If your set-up up is in a basement, double check there is no mould to avoid health problems. 


4) Stock your gym

Buying gym equipment can range anywhere from a few dollars up to the thousands. Indoor cycling bikes and treadmills are hugely popular options for those with a bit more space (especially during COVID-19, items like Peloton bikes sold out!). For a more minimalist set-up, we recommend the following items:
a. A jump rope for warming up and cardio
b. A single kettle bell between 10-40 kg, depending on your strength and goals
c. A set of resistance bands
d. A door-mounted pull-up bar
e. A yoga mat for bodyweight movements and stretching


5) Put it to good use
You have your goals, you have your work out space, and now all you need is to get started. There are countless apps and online workout routines available (popular YouTube follow-alongs, for example, include Yoga With Adrienne and Tom Merrick). 


It’s best to exercise at the same time every day to follow a routine and, if you can, team up with a friend virtually to have an accountability buddy! 

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West of downtown Edmonton, Crestwood is a calm, residential area with large lots and mature trees on land that’s in between two ravines with views from multiple directions over the North Saskatchewan River.


It’s a beautiful location, ideal for families who want to live relatively close to the centre of the city but with all kinds of bike paths, hiking trails and other river valley recreational opportunities. The real estate here starts in the mid-six figures and runs into the millions. Although the average number of people per household is less than three, it’s almost all single-family homes (nine out of 10 properties), with some apartments. There are many original, renovated homes (first built after WWII) as well as plenty of brand-new builds.


Crestwood runs east-west from the Edmonton River Valley to 149 Street and north-south from the MacKinnon Ravine to the MacKenzie Ravine. Stoney Plain Road takes you downtown and 149 St runs south to Whitemud Drive.

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The self-employed among us have being writing off home office expenses for decades. Now, the Government of Canada is letting work-from-home employees do the same. If that’s you, why not claim as many home office expenses as possible on your personal income tax return! As our federal government points out, “deductions reduce the amount of income you pay tax on, so they reduce your overall income tax liability.” Who ever thought we’d be saying: “Thanks, CRA!”


You’ll find full information at Canada.ca, where it states: “All salaried employees and commission employees can claim: electricity, heat, water, utilities portion (electricity, heat, and water) of your condominium fees, home internet access fees, maintenance and minor repair costs and rent paid for a house or apartment where you live. Commission employees can also claim home insurance, property taxes, lease of a cell phone, computer, laptop, tablet, fax machine, etc. that reasonably relate to earning commission income.”


Hope that helps!

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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 yegcandycanelane.com: “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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Copyright 2021 by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. All Rights Reserved.
Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.