October 20, 2017
Top 8 Ways to Make Your Open House a Success
These days, with many homebuyers searching for their new homes online, many people wonder about the effectiveness of an open house. While some consider open houses to be an outdated practice, it can actually be a rather effective tactic, if done correctly. Here are 8 ways to make sure your open house is a success.
1. Stage Your Home
Staging your home is a critical step that allows anyone walking into your home to imagine themselves living there. When you stage your home, it should be a neutral environment. While it may be difficult to do, declutter your home and depersonalize it, removing personal items (such as family photos). Remove anything that might be considered controversial. Take the time to clean up. Steam clean carpets (which freshens them and removes odors). Pick up area rugs to show off wood flooring. Clean counters, sinks, and cabinets. Leave on the lights. You may want to consider a fresh coat of paint as well.
2. Take Advantage of the Internet
Since homebuyers are on the web anyway, utilize the internet to advertise your open house! There are some real estate sites (like Zillow) on which you can post your open house for free. Real estate agents have the advantage of being able to advertise your open house on other popular real estate sites as well. When you post, make sure you have plenty of high-quality pictures to go along with the information.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Signs
Even though many people rely on GPS to get where they need to go, never underestimate the power of “Open House” signs. And don’t be afraid to place several, helping potential buyers to easily find your house (especially if you are located off of a main road). Your open house signs may even attract potential buyers who may just be driving by and haven’t seen your house online. You never know who will see your home as their dream home.
4. Invite the Neighbors
Oftentimes, people get irritated by nosy neighbors. Your open house is exactly the time you want them to be checking out your home. Invite your neighbors to your open house. They may know of someone looking to move to the area (family, friend, or otherwise), and may be willing to recommend your home to them. Think of them almost as your scouts. Nosy neighbors will be the first to tell their friends about the amazing kitchen counters or bathroom remodel that you had done months ago. Consider sending your neighbor's personal invitations or fliers. Or, if you prefer, send an email or personalized electronic invitation.
5. Lock Up Valuables
Before allowing potential buyers into your home, make sure you secure your valuables (and any medication). Even though you might like to think that everyone entering your home is there as a potential buyer, thefts can happen. Pharmaceutical theft is one of the biggest. Make sure your medicine cabinets are clear. Dispose of any medications you no longer need and lock up the ones that are in use (or take them with you). Also, be sure to lock up anything else that may tempt someone, such as jewelry, cash, credit cards, or one of a kind knickknacks.
7. Take Off
With a real estate agent helping you sell your home, there is no reason for you to be present during your open house. In fact, it may be more beneficial if you take off. Pack up the kids, and the pets (if you have any) and go for a drive, visit with friends/family, or head to the park. This will lessen the stress on potential buyers, and help them to feel as though they can speak freely and candidly with the agent. If you can, take your pets items with you (dishes, litter box, etc.). If not, make sure they are spotless.
8. Leave Informational Packets
Make sure you leave informational sheets for potential homebuyers to take home with them. If they are looking at multiple houses, having information easily accessible about your home will help them to more easily recall it. Consider such things as property details, community information, and information regarding the school district.
9. Provide Some Treats
Providing freshly baked treats has two advantages. One, it creates an inviting, enticing aroma, and two, your potential buyers have a delicious snack to enjoy while they tour your home. With a special treat, potential buyers are sure to remember your property.
September 5, 2017
Housing Recovery A Balancing Act
Growth in new listings outpaced sales preventing inventory declines
Sales posted a modest gain in August, but a rise in new listings kept inventory levels elevated.
Inventories totaled 6,624 units, where over half were comprised of attached and apartment-style properties. While inventories were 16 percent higher than August 2016 levels, the slight rise in sales prevented further gains in the months-of-supply, which remain just above four months.
"Employment growth is contributing to the stability in sales activity, but it is not enough to meet the recent rise in listings and make a substantial dent in inventory levels," said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
"Unemployment rates remain elevated and job growth is mostly occurring outside the energy sector, slowing the recovery process. Broader economic improvements will be required prior to it translating into substantial improvements in the housing market."
The second month of higher inventories compared to sales weighed on prices for the month. The unadjusted city wide benchmark price totaled $442,300 in August. This is 0.3 percent below last month but remains nearly one percent above last year's levels. Overall total residential prices remain four percent below peak levels.
"Buyers have several options in this market, and sellers need to continue to be realistic regarding the price they expect to receive for their home," said CREB® president David P. Brown.
"While some of the buyers are re-entering the market, they are also considering all of their options prior to making a commitment."
The pace of growth in detached sales has closely matched new listings this year. However, inventory levels continue to remain at 3,280 and months of supply pushed up to 3.32. Recent gains in months-of-supply prevented further gains in prices this month. Detached prices totaled $510,900 in August. This is slightly lower than last year, but 1.5 percent above last year's levels.
With over seven months-of-supply, the excess supply continues to weigh heavily on the apartment condominium sector. As of August, the benchmark price totaled $263,300. This is one percent below last month and three percent below last year's levels. Downward price pressure in this sector is expected as supply levels remain elevated in the new, resale and rental market.
Click here to view the full City of Calgary monthly stats package.
August 17, 2017
Mid-Year market update shows stability
CREB® forecasts a process of recovery for the remainder of 2017
The first-half of 2017 marked a shift in Alberta's economy from recession to recovery, with conditions supporting stability rather than expansion.
"Economic challenges continue to exist, as high unemployment rates, weak migration levels and more stringent lending conditions are weighing on the housing market," said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.
"This will continue to cause some adjustments in the housing market for the remainder of this year. However, this is not expected to offset earlier gains supporting general stability in 2017."
Resale sales activity is expected to total 18,401 units in 2017, a 3.3 per cent improvement over last year. The pace of growth is slightly faster than originally anticipated, due to the stronger growth that occurred in the first half of the year.
"We saw many of those consumers who delayed any purchasing decisions willing to re-enter the market as concerns regarding the economy eased," said CREB® president David P. Brown.
"More potential buyers on the market helped move some of the product in inventory and started to create some price stability."
Improvements in the supply demand balance, primarily in the detached and attached sector, caused prices to start to trend up. Demand growth through the remainder of the year is expected to ease relative to inventory levels. This should prevent further substantial shifts in pricing. Overall, annual city wide prices are expected to remain at levels comparable to last year.
Despite generally improving trends, difficulties continue to exist in the condo-apartment ownership market. Rising sales cannot keep pace with the growth in new listings, keeping supply levels high and placing continued downward pressure on prices. This area of the housing market will likely continue to face challenges well into next year, as it will take time to absorb additional inventory in the resale, new and rental markets.
"Improvements in the labour market are supporting the shift in the housing market this year. However, activity over the past two years was amongst the weakest we have seen since the financial crisis," said Lurie.
"While the shift is welcome news for many, we continue to expect that process of recovery will be slow and dependent on the property type and location within the market."
For more information, please refer to the CREB®'s 2017 Economic Outlook & Regional Housing Market Mid-Year Update found here.
June 29, 2017
JUNE 2017 MARKET UPDATE
The sun is out, the clouds are gone and summer is finally upon us—a much-needed reprieve after the winter!
There are lots of events and activities around the city to look forward to this month, from Canada Day celebrations to street festivals. Check out our guide for the hottest, most upbeat summertime events that you can’t miss.
And, of course, don’t forget to celebrate the fathers, grandfathers, uncles and mentors in your life on June 18 — we have advice on where to go on Father’s Day too! Also in this month’s newsletter, check out our update on recent developments in the local real estate market and the latest market reports.
As fun as the summer season is, don’t let your usual good habits melt away with the warmer weather. We talked to our city’s police department and have some tips for keeping your property safe and secure this summer.
As always, I am at your disposal to help. If you, your friends or family are looking to buy or sell real estate please keep me in mind. Your referral is the best compliment I can receive.
Canada Day (July 1)
Celebrations are happening across the city to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday. Check out the events at Confederation Park, Fort Calgary and Prince’s Island Park.
As You Like It (June 20- August 27)
The summer tradition of Shakespeare in the park is coming back to Prince’s Island Park and the light-hearted, comic As You Like It will play several times a week through the summer.
Spruce Meadows North American Tournament (July 5 – 9)
The best jumpers and horses come from all around North America to compete at Spruce Meadows so grab your fancy hats and come spectate.
Security is important all year round but during the summer months especially, property crimes and break-and-entries tend to spike. Warmer weather means people are more likely to leave their windows open, their patios unlocked and their houses unattended.
We talked to our city’s police department about why property crime increases and what people can do to keep their homes safe and secure during summer. This is what they told us:
Always lock up
It’s easy to pop out quickly for a walk around the block or a quick trip down the road to the shop, but always lock the door, windows and patios behind you no matter how soon you’ll be back. A third of burglars enter a home through an unlocked door. Even if you are out in the back gardening, lock you front door — you’d be surprised at how quickly and quietly a thief can slip in.
Out of sight, out of mind
Most property crimes are opportunistic – the thief sees a chance to steal something and takes it. If it’s hidden away, there is less temptation and opportunity. So if you buy a nice new item, wait till pick-up day to put its packaging outside in the recycling. You don’t want to advertise to thieves what valuables you have in your home. Don’t leave visible items in your car; thieves have been known to smash a car window to steal something as small as a gym bag or a pile of papers.
Report suspicious activity
The police want citizens to call and report suspicious activity, even if doesn’t seem like a crime is being committed yet. If you see someone milling around and you have a bad feeling, report it. It’s not a waste of time or resources, the police officer we spoke to told us, and it might prevent a theft.
Before you leave your home, do a quick walk around and final check. Put yourself in the mind-set of a thief – if you wanted to break and enter, how would you do it? That curtain fluttering in the breeze? Close the window. That ladder leaning against the wall? Put it away. Prevention is the best way to keep your property safe and thief-proof.
Keep a list of details about your most valuable items if worst-case scenario should happen. If something is stolen, you will have more chances of getting it back if you can provide details and a picture of the item. The majority of stolen goods the police recover are never returned to their rightful owner because they can’t be tracked down. With bicycles, for example, you can imprint a serial number on the frame and log it with the police; that way, if your bike is stolen and someone tries to sell it, you will be notified.
June 7, 2017
Top 7 Home Staging Tips
If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’ve probably heard the term “staging” thrown around. Staging your home involves creating a space that potential buyers want to make their own. Your home will essentially “speak” to them. With appropriate staging, you are much more likely to sell your home in a short period of time and for the price you want. Here are 7 home staging tips to help you create the perfect environment that will call out to potential buyers, and make them want to make your home theirs.
Eliminate the Clutter
We all have stuff that we’ve collected over the years. They might be knickknacks that you have displayed in a curio cabinet or it could be a few extra pieces of furniture. You could have a cabinet on which random things collect. You might love all of your unique items, but they tell visitors that the house is already occupied. They need to be able to envision themselves there. Excess clutter also gives buyers the impression that your house doesn’t have enough space. Remove anything you can live without and don’t bring anything new in unless you get rid of a couple of other items.
Along with clearing up clutter, take a look at your floors. Finish any unfinished hardwood flooring. Any missing floorboards should be replaced. If you have carpets, have them steam cleaned. Not only will this give your carpets a fresh look, it can help to eliminate pet odors.
Rearrange the Furniture
You’d be surprised at how much bigger you can make a room look with a bit of strategic furniture rearranging. Don’t shove your furniture up against the walls. Instead, float pieces away from the wall and organize them into groupings. This can be especially effective in the living room where you can organize furniture in a group optimized for conversations. Just make sure that traffic flow is obvious.
You can also move some pieces from their traditional locations and give them a new purpose. An armchair from the living room can make a great addition to a large master bedroom. An often ignored small table can be placed in front of a window and decorated to be rebranded as a writing table.
Transform Extra Rooms
If you have a room that just seems to be a catchall for random junk, now is the time to get creative. Turn the “junk” room into a room with a purpose. Depending upon its size, you can turn it into a reading nook, an office or even a spare bedroom. You don’t have to go out and buy expensive furniture to do this. You can use some of the extra furniture and pillows you have around your house.
Lighting can go a long way in making your house look warm and inviting to prospective buyers. The problem is that most homes are not lit properly. This can be fixed quite easily by increasing the wattage of the bulbs in your current fixtures. You should also aim for a mixture of overhead (or general), task and accent lighting in each room.
Make Some Updates
Now, you don’t need to go crazy with major updates. A few small updates here and there, though, can make a huge difference. Paint is one way you can do this. Neutral colors in the living room can instantly update outdated finishes. You are not limited to whites or off-whites. Tans and even softer blue/green colors in a larger area can completely transform a space. Try a darker tone in a bedroom or dining room for a more intimate feel. If you aren’t comfortable doing the entire room, aim for an accent wall to bring attention to a cool feature like a fireplace or built in bookcase. Painting smaller rooms, such a small kitchen and a small dining room, the same color can help to make the area look bigger.
Along with fresh paint, take a look at your cabinets and cupboards. Do they give away the age of your home? You don’t have to install brand-new cabinets and cupboards just to generate more offers. You can simply replace the doors and the hardware with something more modern.
A little bit of accessorizing can make your home feel cozy and appealing. There are a variety of ways to do this. For one, you can get creative with wall hangings. Rather than hang them in a straight line at the same height, stagger them. Accessories on tables are preferable in odd numbers. Group similar items together, but make sure they vary in height and width. Decorate tables with fresh flowers from your yard. You can also transform your bedroom simply by adding rich linens and soft colors.
Don’t Forget the Outside
So many people focus on staging the interior of their home that they forget about the outside. Declutter and clean up the yard. Small porches can be enhanced with a welcome mat and a few potted plants. A larger porch can be more appealing with a couple of pieces of furniture and some lights. A back porch, deck or balcony can be dressed up in a similar manner. A few cozy rocking chairs or a porch swing, a dining table and chairs, and a hammock in the back yard can give off the impression that your home is a quiet, cozy place to be.
Staging your home gives your potential buyers a glimpse into the possibilities that the house has. They are afforded the ability to really imagine the home as their own. With everything appropriately staged, your home is likely to sell quicker and for the price you want.
We offer Home Staging solutions - Contact us to find out how we can help sell your home beautifully.
June 7, 2017
Top 8 Tips for Homebuyers
Buying a house is one of the single biggest financial decisions you will ever make. While it’s nice to daydream about your perfect home and scour the internet for available houses in your desired area, there’s a lot that goes into the process. Here are 8 tips for homebuyers to help you navigate the process.
Make Sure You are Prepared
Buying a home isn’t something you can just jump into. There is a certain amount of prep work that goes into the process. You need to have money saved up for a down payment. You may need to raise your credit score. The minimum you should be aiming for is a 680. Your lender will require a significant amount of documentation, such as pay stubs, a letter from your employer and bank statements. All in all, if you are not ready now, you should give yourself at least 12 months to prepare. Please give me a call if you need help finding out how ready you are.
Determine How Much You Can Actually Afford
Based on your information, a lender may preapprove you for a certain amount. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go out and buy a house as close to that amount as possible. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. This includes your income, your current debts, your regular spending habits, homeowner’s insurance, taxes and more.
Figure Out What You Need and What You Want
Before you even start shopping around, create a list of things that you absolutely have to have, along with those that you can be more flexible about. For instance, maybe you have to have a garage or a basement, but you can live with carpeted floors instead of hardwood. It’s always possible to make some changes at a later date.
Think Long Term
Don’t think about what you need for your life right now. Think about what your life in the future. Do you plan on keeping the same job? Do you want to have kids? A house is a big investment. Make sure that you can see yourself still in that home with these changes in 5 to 7 years.
Don’t Get Deterred by Necessary Fixes
Some things, like the color of the walls in a bedroom, can be easily fixed with a new coat of paint or some wallpaper. But other projects, such as cabinetry or redoing the bathroom, have a much bigger price tag attached, especially when you add in the cost of labor. Don’t let that deter you from buying a house. Instead, factor the costs into the purchase price and see if it’s still within your price range.
Purchase Price is Just a Part of the Picture
The cost of the house is just one part of the picture. There are several other costs that get tacked on. You have homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and maybe even HOA fees to consider. Along with these, you also have to think about the cost of maintenance and repairs. Make sure you compare. Just because a house is less expensive doesn’t mean that it will automatically cost you less every month. A cheaper house may have higher property taxes that makes it more expensive each month that a more expensive house with lower property taxes.
Down Payments and Closing Costs
You will need to factor in down payments and closing costs. There have been several recent changes. For homes costing $500,000 or less, you can expect to have to put down a minimum of 5%. Closing costs vary. They can include such things as legal fees, home inspections and more. Make sure you budget appropriately for these items.
You Don’t Have to Buy a House Right Now
Being a homeowner is part of the American Dream. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy a house right now. Buying a house is a huge decision, and it’s not for everyone. There are so many things to keep in mind. Maybe you want the freedom to explore around a bit before you settle into an area. Be honest with yourself and what you really want before you make such a major financial investment.
If you are interested in buying or selling your home please contact me so we can evaluate your readiness together.
September 13, 2016
Do’s and Don’ts of Colour
As a seller, there are two things you have control of when it comes to listing your house: how the house looks, and the list price. A staged home sells faster and can even sell at higher prices than homes that aren’t. Staging your home helps position it competitively in the marketplace and maximizes equity by showing its best features. If your house needs a bit of facelift, a low-cost and effective solution to modernize your space is with a simple coat of paint. Where it can get tricky is choosing the right shade amongst the thousands of paint chips in the store. You have your greys, greens, blues, whites, browns and all the varied brands and shades in-between. It’s safe to say that we have a pretty good handle on what potential buyers like to see when they enter a home. The palettes that consumers tell researchers they like for the interior of a house are neutral shades of grey, white and even natural-looking greens. Loud, vibrant oranges and reds may work for you – but to the average buyer, that just looks like a big headache to them to cover up later. The key here is not to distract the buyer with a style that may not give them the warm and fuzzies. With a neutral palette (subtle colour), the buyer can see your home as a blank canvas for them to work with.
A study by Zillow Digs referenced on realtormag.com showed that homes with with light green or khaki bedrooms, dove or light grey living rooms and creamy yellow or wheat-coloured kitchens sold for $1,100 to $1,300 more than properties decorated with less popular colours, those being: slate grey, terracotta, dark brown, and off-white/eggshell.
If your house is feeling outdated and needs a bit of a refresh, paint can be your friend. It is the most cost-effective and impactful way to update your living space. Remove distracting and outdated wallpaper and add a fresh coat of paint. Low-sheen products help reduce imperfections if you uncover any scratches or marks on your walls. Sheen levels reflect the amount of light from a painted surface, which can either hide or highlight imperfections. When it comes to painting those high-traffic areas such as hallways and bedrooms, eggshell offers a soft-glow and is easy to wipe away markings. Paint can also work wonders in making your space appear larger. You know that feeling of unease you get when your house is cluttered, dark and disorganized? When a buyer walks into a space like that, they get the same feeling. Maximize the space in your home by brightening it up with light neutrals to bring the room to life – and of course, find a spot to hide all that clutter. Painting the ceiling can make a huge impact to livening up your space. Using a flat paint allows for easy touch-ups and is preferred for ceilings due to its non-reflective qualities. If your trims, holdings and doors are looking a little beat up, semi-gloss paint is very durable and will stand up to repeated cleaning.
When you list your house with us, we can help you with staging and offer expert advice to get you the price you deserve. Contact us today!
August 2, 2016
Top 5 Calgary Housing Stats for July 2016
It is no surprise to those watching the housing market that Calgary and surrounding areas continue to see a slowdown in sales activity. Buyers are expecting to see further declines in sale prices, and sellers are responding to the softening market. This makes for a slower market with less inventory.
Here is a summary of some of the top stats from this month.
• The average year-to-date benchmark price decline within the city districts has ranged from highs of 5.1% (City Centre) to lows of 0.8% (North East). • The pullback in detached new listings helped balance out declining sales.
• Detached sales account for around 63% of the entire market this year. Yearto-date, there has been 6,908 sales, which is 22% below the ten year average and the lowest level since 1996;
• Year-to-date apartment sales totaled 1,668 units, a 21% decline over last year, which already recorded an 33% annual drop compared to 2014;
• Months of supply in the apartment sector has averaged 6.3 months this year, far higher than the 3.0 and 4.2 in detached and attached product;
• The average apartment price showed a year-over-year gain of 13%. This does not reflect any change in trend, as the jump was caused by one high end sale that skewed the numbers.