Friday, March 1, 2013
Breaking Bad Habits
Breaking Bad Habits
From our friends over at Vega:
Humans certainly are creatures of habit. While we strive to implement healthy lifestyle habits into our day, part of the struggle is often breaking those old bad habits. Many bad habit — like eating junk food or smoking — elicit a response from you brain’s reward center, creating a vicious cycle. If you’ve got some bad habits standing in the way of optimal health, it’s time to break the cycle.
Repetition of a behavior leads to a habit, and routines (habits) can become hard-wired in the brain, giving us a sense of reward (which is what often keeps us coming back for more). The good news is we have much more brain power that can help us do what is best for long-term health. Just like increasing strength or endurance through exercise, the act of resisting temptation will build up willpower muscles over time, and ultimately make you stronger.
Here 10 steps to breaking bad habits:
- Keep it simple:
Getting rid of every bad habit you have while trying to create new healthy ones may be too overwhelming. Start with the one habit you’d like to get rid of most — then work out simple rules to help you create healthy habits (complex rules will only give you anxiety).
- Become conscience:
Take a hard look at the why or what has you dipping into bad habits. Does work stress make you bite your nails? Boredom or anxiety have you reaching for junk food? Work on developing awareness to identify the root of the habit you want to break to truly enact lasting change.
- Pick a date:
Pick a date for stopping your habit — the sooner the better — and write it down on a piece of paper or your calendar to give time-based structure to making your changes permanent.
- Consider the obstacles:
Be aware of your potential barriers, and write down ways to overcome them. If obstacles are situational, find a friend who will be a habit buddy to back you up when you’re in a situation of potential temptation.
- Think positive:
You may find your brain is kicking around some negative chatter creating doubt in your abilities to really break a habit. It may be difficult in the beginning to replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. In your mind when negative chatter gets loud, tell it where to go — say “Stop!” or “Cancel!” to stop those negative thoughts in their tracks.
- Get leverage:
The first 30 days of breaking a bad habit can be the toughest. Create some leverage for yourself by making a public commitment to your friends and family to help keep you on track. Set up a new reward if you make it through the first 30 days – like a massage or a new pair of shoes — or even have a friend hold on to a meaningful sum of money or something of value to you for 30 days to give back to you if you are successful.
- Push past the pain:
You may have moments of weakness, desire to backslide, or uneasiness about breaking your bad habit but push past those few initial days of discomfort and know that it WILL get easier.
- No excuses:
Set this new change up as an absolute non-negotiable with no-exceptions — and be firm. You’ll never get over the hump of breaking the cycle if you let yourself make excuses for reverting back to your old ways.
- Change your environment:
You may have to change your routine or environment, especially if they promote your bad habit. Hanging around smokers can be difficult if you’re trying to quit, or if that bakery you pass on your commute is too tempting you may have to take a new route.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help:
Enlist a buddy with the same goal to help you, a support group, or a healthcare professional if you are struggling or in need of assistance.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Calgary Real Estate Investing 101 - Fighting Your Emotions
Pick a stock, a business venture, a real estate area, or another kind of investment and ask your friends and family what they think about it. What will happen? We are willing to bet you get as many different answers (or at least variations of answers), as the number of people that you ask. The question is: Why?
Where Do Our Emotions Come From?
Everyone has past experiences that shape the way they view the world today. Everyone carries emotional baggage attached to the events that have occurred at previous times in their life. This is unavoidable; however, the key is to recognize the facts from your own jaded perception.
If someone heard their parents warn them about a potential real estate crash (similar to that in the 1980’s), and never looked deeper into it, then it is likely they will avoid real estate investments. If someone read an article in the paper about a murder in a certain area of town, they may feel the area is dangerous. Had that same person never been subjected to these stories, they would likely never have had any fear attached to real estate, or a particular area of town.
The Origin of Fear
Our fears have been learned and taught to us. Someone with different experiences will have completely different fears. How do we know if something is dangerous or should be feared?
Think back to some of the fears you may have: spiders, snakes, heights, caves? Or maybe things a little more pertinent: bankruptcy, certain areas of town, technology stocks (especially after 2001), etc. What do we have to believe to feel these fears? Chances are our fears are based on a small piece of information we gained in the past. We usually spend our lives focusing on supporting evidence for this fear.
Your Emotions’ Role in Investing
Since emotions and fear are based on “hearsay” and false evidence, and not on facts and fundamentals . . . they have no place in investing. It is impossible to make an unbiased investment decision when emotions rule the basis of that decision.
Investing out of emotion and not fundamentals is the #1 investment mistake.
Fear is not the only emotion to be careful of. If you are choosing a place to invest because you grew up there or because it is close to your home, or you think the house is cute, or worse yet, because your parents told you too . . . Be aware.
Fundamentals vs. Emotions
Investing fundamentals are based on objective, unchanging, non-deviating facts. Whereas emotions are based on little, if any facts. If your research and due diligence meets the criteria and is in line with your ultimate goal, then make the investment. However, if you are basing your decision on the past advice of a friend or relative that no longer applies to a marketplace, then run away until you can get the facts straight. You want undeniable, measurable facts.
Real Estate Fundamentals
If a city is growing in income level & population, the development in the area is starting to take off, the price to income ratios are low, vacancy is low, interest rates are low, unemployment is low, and prices have begun to climb after a plateau . . . then invest. If an area is beginning to redevelop (i.e. new buildings) with a few projects and things are starting to clean up, where traditionally this has been a “tough” area of town, then invest and ignore the fear.
There are lots of economic indicators that will make a particular city (or area) a good place to invest in real estate. These indicators alone are what you need to make your investment decisions based off. If the type of transaction fits into your portfolio (flip, wrap, lease option, joint venture, cash flow, etc.) and will help you meet your goals, then the decision is unquestionable.
The Boring Side of Investing
After you have done 1 or 2 transactions, real estate investing should become simple. There is no emotion. Either the numbers work or they dont.You don’t care what the house looks like, where it is located, or what nationality is prevalent in the area. The only thing you care about is this: Are the facts good and will it help me reach my goal? Investing in real estate is a un-emotional process that can be repeated over and over.
Success in Calgary Real Estate Investing is rising above your fears & emotions. Over time you will be enjoying your wealthy retirement as a result.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Calgary Sales Activity Outpaces Canada
Calgary, Nov. 1, 2012 – City of Calgary sales activity marked a 23-per-cent increase over levels recorded in October 2011. The continued improvement in sales has pushed year-to-date sales activity to nearly 16-per-cent above levels recorded in 2011.
“Relative to national trends, we continue to move in the opposite direction, recording both sales and price growth,” said CREB® President Bob Jablonski. “However, despite the higher than anticipated sales growth this year our market is not overheating, simply returning to levels consistent with long term trends and prices still have not fully recovered after the last recession.”
Sales improved over 2011 levels across all housing types in the city. Single family sales growth has been the strongest, with nearly 17-per-cent more year-to-date sales this year compared to last year. Meanwhile, apartment condominium sales have been rising at a slower pace, with year-to-date sales nearly 12-per-cent higher than last year.
New listings within city limits totaled 2,312 for the month, a 9-per-cent decline over October 2011 levels. The decline in new listings relative to sales has continued to reduce total inventory levels across all sectors. However, because this is a less active period in real estate, the months of supply remains within balanced levels.
The strong demand for homes relative to the supply levels has caused some significant increases in the price of single family homes this year compared to 2011. As of October 2012, the benchmark price for a single family home was $433,300, an 8-per-cent increase over the previous year. While there has been significant recovery in Calgary home prices, typical unadjusted home prices have leveled off remaining relatively unchanged over the past 4 months, and remain below the highs recorded in 2007.
Condominium apartments recorded a benchmark price of $247,000 in October 2012, losing some ground over the previous month, but still higher than the previous year by 3 per cent. While on average condominium apartment prices have fallen more than risen since 2007, condominium prices this year have recovered to levels comparable to 2010.
After the first 10 months of the year condominium townhouse sales totaled 2,279, 16-per-cent higher than last year. The benchmark price for a townhouse in October was $279,000, a 3-per-cent improvement over October 2011.
“At the end of last year, the Calgary economy was growing and continued to post job growth,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB®’s chief economist. “However, global economic uncertainty was increasing, impacting overall consumer confidence and contributing to a significant amount of caution in the resale market.
“While many of these global economic risks remain this year, consumers’ concern regarding the impact on our economy has lessened. Calgary has continued to record relatively strong economic, employment and migration growth. This combined with improving affordability has encouraged consumers to purchasing real estate in Calgary.”
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Should We Worry About a U.S. Style Housing Meltdown?
Benjamin Tal is a smart cat - check it out:
CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal sounds like he’s getting tired of the comparisons linking the Canadian housing market to a U.S. style crash.
Canada is just not going to have a severe crash, he says in a report dubbed “Should We Worry About a U.S. Style Housing Meltdown? You could lose a “night’s sleep” if you glance at charts comparing U.S. household debt and prices before their correction with today’s Canadian housing market but Mr. Tal says a closer look reveals vast differences.
“To be sure houses prices in Canada will probably fall in the coming year or two but any comparison to the American market of 2006 reflects a deep misunderstanding of the credit landscapes of the pre-crash environment in the U.S. and today’s Canadian market,” says the economist.
He lays out a number of myths used to compare the two markets, listing everything from the difference in the quality of debt to the false assumption that most Americans had long-term 30-year mortgages before the crash.
“I just think the comparisons are irrelevant,” says Mr. Tal. “There are two different questions. Are we slowing? Yes, we are slowing. But not every slowdown should be a U.S. type crash. Just because it happened there doesn’t mean it happens here.”
The biggest facts are these:
1. Adjusted Rate Mortgages Dont Exist in Canada
While the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has long been the U.S. standard, 80% of new mortgages in the U.S. went for an adjusted rate mortgage leading up to the crash. Those mortgages had teaser rates for two to three years that were almost 4.25 percentage points below prevailing rates.
“[That teaser] expires and overnight you’ve got two years worth of [Federal Reserve] increases in one day, that’s a shock,” says Mr. Tal.
2. Low percentage of Homeowners in Mortgage Arrears
He says the Canadian market has room for a soft landing which is what Australia experienced recently. “They demonstrated there is such a thing as a soft landing, interest rates went up and prices went down by 7% to 8%.”
So why are we so obsessed with comparing ourselves to the U.S.? Mr. Tal says it’s normal. “It makes sense because it happened in the U.S. and everybody was talking about it and we are going through a significant increase in house prices. I can understand why people do it but it should be based on fact.”
read the Full Article: http://natpo.st/YoEl2C
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
CMHC Sold to Private Company?
When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took steps to cool the housing market over the past four years, he largely did so via the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the Crown corporation that dominates the mortgage insurance market.
Now he says his interventions in the housing market are at an end – and he would like to see the CMHC privatized in the next five to 10 years.
About time! The federal govt should not be directly involved in mortgage insurance
Read the full story here: http://bit.ly/Ux7jhN
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Fall 2012: Where is Calgary headed?
What does this Fall weather do for the Calgary Market? It is always good to understand the direction of our real estate market so lets analyze a recent trend:
Over the last few months we have seen Sellers increasing their asking price for homes. The graph below details of the average listing price VS the average sold price. This identifies the relationship between the expectations of sellers and the reality of what buyers are actually willing to pay. This is NOT the same as the very common “list price to sale price” percentage, as many homes that have been listed multiple times or have expired, never actually sell. This chart allows for these data anomolies and shows a more realistic story.
The distance between these two lines will determine the pace of the current real estate market. The larger the distance between the lines, the slower the market will be as the price the average Seller wants for their home is higher than what the average buyer will pay. As prices begin to meet buyer expectations, homes sell faster and both lines will move toward each other. This illustrates the importance of proper pricing on the part of sellers.
So where are headed? Sellers must come down with the list prices to meet the buyer demand in Calgary. You must price your home correctly otherwise it wont sell. As you see in the graph, the expectations of Sellers is not being met.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Nordstrom Coming to Calgary First
High-end U.S. retailer Nordstrom is coming to Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver starting in the fall of 2014.
The announcement this morning in Toronto sees Nordstrom join a fast-growing field of foreign chains vying for coveted Canadian consumer dollars.
Officials from the Seattle-based department store chain and Cadillac Fairview say Nordstrom will be moving into space vacated by Sears and then renovated at Pacific Centre in Vancouver, Calgary’s Chinook Centre, and Rideau Centre in Ottawa.
A new store will be built at Toronto’s Sherway Gardens. The tentative timeline for the stores opening is; fall of 2014 in Calgary; spring 2015 in Ottawa and Vancouver; and fall 2016 in Toronto.
Great market news as the US retailer wants a piece of the Canadian Market.
Read the full story here: http://natpo.st/PwcYkV
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
City Assessments Are NOT Market Value
What is the biggest misconception in Calgary Real Estate? Without question, its the general misunderstanding about your home's City Assessment. Every single client we sit down with assumes the City Assessment is 100% equal to the true market value of their home. WRONG! Lets find out why:
Calgary property assessments estimate value based on the analysis and interpretation of the Calgary Real Estate Market on the valuation date - July 01, the year prior to taxation. The City of Calgary uses a method called mass appraisal to calculate market value for residential properties. This mass appraisal technique values many properties as of July 01 of the previous year, using real estate sales data and allowing for statistical testing. In summary, it is a general approach utilized to estimate a tax valuation for the City.
To evaluate property values correctly, we need to combine recent sales data with specific property details. Mass Appraisal techniques overlook an incredible amount of information fundamental to your property value. Some of these include the following:
- specific property location (including proximity to green spaces, community services, access, views, traffic, area development, etc)
- total finished floor area of a home
- lot size
- basement development
- quality of upgrades
- condition of home
- repairs needed
- age of building
- existence and type of garage
- legal vs illegal suites
- quality of renovations / repairs
In summary, MyHomeAgent analyzes a combination of recent real estate sales data together with specific property details; something the City cannot complete. Overall it is IMPOSSIBLE for the City to accurately assess a true market value for every home in Calgary.
Why does this matter?
Property Value is incredibly important and the City confuses most homeowners by being inaccurate. We have seen Assessments go both ways - sometimes overvalued and sometimes undervalued. Of course, most clients are very upset when they realize their true market value is less than the City Assessment. Remember, the goal for the City is to collect taxes - not to evaluate your home value within a small threshold of error. Do you believe the City cares what your home is worth? If the assessment goes down, they will adjust the tax rate so you still pay the taxes as per the City budget. Too many times, we have had clients challenge market value with their printed City Assessments but they forget that at the end of the day, the City only cares about collecting revenues.
MyHomeAgent wants you to be informed, and it's part of our commitment to ensure you get the correct information every time.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Buying a Home in Calgary - Terms to Know
Pretty obvious right - purchasing your first home is one of the most monumental experiences in life. Many of our clients never understand some of the real estate jargon that comes with that purchase. Here is some terms you should definitely know:
1. Mortgage Components
Before you even begin to look at properties, you NEED to apply for a mortgage. Here is a crash course in understanding the major parts;
Amortization Period – This is the time it takes to pay off your mortgage. It effects how much interest you pay over the life of that mortgage.
Term – The term is the period of time when your mortgage agreement is in effect. Breaking a TERM rests in financial penalties. For example, in closed mortgages, you are restricted from anything that deviates from your agreed upon payment schedule (refinancing or selling before the end of the term is a penalty). Open mortgages do not set barriers to repayment, refinance or selling. Keep in mind that closed mortgages tend to come with lower interest rates while open mortgages come with higher rates. The lower the interest rate, the longer the lender wants it to take for you to pay it back.
Mortgage – This is the loan which allows you to finance the cost of your home. You will make mortgage payments until it is paid in full.
Mortgage Pre-Approval – The lender commits to a specified loan amount for which you qualify so you know how much you can afford and can make a financially sound offer immediately.
Fixed Rate Mortgage vs. Variable Rate Mortgage – Your loan accrues interest throughout its life (it's how the lender gets paid for loaning you the money). If you have a fixed rate mortgage, the interest rate associated with your loan will remain exactly the same for the course of the mortgage term (until it's paid off). If you have a variable rate mortgage, the interest associated with your loan will fluctuate according to changes in interest rates, and your monthly mortgage payment will reflect that.
Appraisal – Sometimes your lender will order an appraisal for the home you want to buy. This is NOT the same as the city assessment. An appraisal is the value of the home according to an expert (appraiser) sent by the bank. This monetary figure is provided to ensure that you're taking out a loan for the true value of the home.
We will be writing an offer together on the home you with to buy. It is a legal contract that defines all aspects of the purchase including price, date of possession, conditions, etc etc. Almost all offers are Conditional, which means the offer contains items that require fulfilling BEFORE an agreement is reached.
Closing - This is the actual day you complete the deal and own the home. Closing is the completion of the contract.
Common things the offer depend on.
Financing Condition -- Your purchase will depend on making sure you have financing approved by your lender.
Inspection Condition – You need to select a professional inspector to fully evaluate the home you intend to purchase. From the foundation to potential mold issues, it's during the inspection that you find out whether anything is wrong with the property.
4. Purchase Day
Closing Costs – These are a variety of costs that need to be paid when the purchase of the home is completed. Costs include items such as prorated taxes, tax fees, insurance fees, lender fees and legal fees. Costs vary per situation.
Title – This is what you've been waiting for! It's this document that says that you are the owner of this property.
Now that you've got the vocabulary straight, call us and lets start making this dream of home ownership a reality! Check out our testimonials to see our comittment to service
Monday, August 6, 2012
5 LowCost Selling Tips
5 LowCost Upgrades to Help You Sell Your Home
If you're looking sell your house but cannot afford huge renos, these little changes can catch a buyers eye.
A fresh coat of paint is the easiest way to brighten up a room, which makes it a top choice for sellers on a budget. Opt for neutral earth tones rather than bold hues. You want potential buyers to imagine putting their personal touch on the place, not force them to fall in love with your style. Picky buyers look everywhere, so don't forget to retouch the trim and paint the ceiling.
Can't afford a cabinet upgrade? Trick the eye by installing new hardware instead. Switching out worn or outdated drawer and cabinet handles for brand new ones can make your storage look like it's been given a major face-lift -- for a tenth of the price. Choose modern fixtures that compliment the design and colour of your cabinetry.
The look of a kitchen can make or break a sale. Chipped, scratched or worn countertops are guaranteed to be an instant turn-off to potential buyers. Make them fall in love with your home by installing new ones. Laminate or ceramic countertops may be cheaper but are considered out-of-style in many neighbourhoods. If that's the case, opt to upgrade with Corian or Granite.
If your home doesn't get a lot of natural sunlight you can fool potential buyers by tricking it out with fabulous light fixtures. Affordable "wow" factor fixtures are available - just shop around.
Curb appeal isn't just a myth. Potential buyers will be more impressed if you have a nice front yard. This doesn't mean you need to sink thousands of dollars into new landscaping. Simply mowing your lawn, trimming the edges, and adding a few shrubs and flowers can be the ticket to instant beauty.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Calgary Market Stats July 2012
Calgary Bucks National Trend (As Usual)
Double digit year-over-year sales growth demonstrates differences between city and national trends
What does this all mean? Prices in Calgary are still affordable and there are incredible deals out there. There has been a small price rise in the past 2 years even though AVERAGE Sale prices have risen. This is because there are more luxury homes selling over the past year and this drives the average price and other housing indicators up.
Over the past 7 years Calgary has consistently been its own Real Estate Market - an island separate from the national statistics referencing the Canadian Housing Market. When things were flat elsewhere, we saw house prices double. When sales were increasing in Toronto and Vancouver, we saw house values decline 20%+ on average. Now we are seeing strong sales, and slight apprecaition while Toronto and Vancouver are just starting to cool off.
Calgary continues to buck national housing sale trends. The 1,936 residential units sold in July represent a 21.3-per-cent increase over 2011.
“Recent mortgage rule changes prompted much discussion of a national housing correction. While the two largest cities (Vancouver and Toronto) have started to witness declines in home sales activity, Calgary continues to record improving sales and prices,” says Ann-Marie Lurie, Chief Economist for CREB®.
“The gains were supported from the economic growth in the region,” Lurie says. “Last year, Alberta led the country in economic growth and – with Calgary being the energy capital of the country – the city has benefited from growth in full-time employment, migration and overall improved confidence.”
Year-to-date City of Calgary sales totaled 13,684, a 16.5-per-cent increase over the same time in 2011. Other sectors within the city limits have also recorded significant growth. The single-family market recorded the largest gains at 18.9 per cent, while the condominium apartment posted a 9.4-per-cent rise year-to-date.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Calgary Million Dollar Sales Soar
The demand for luxury real estate in Calgary has soared to new heights this year, fuelled by strong economic fundamentals, says a report by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.
For the first six months of this year, there have been 301 homes sold for over $1 million in Calgary, up 19 per cent from the same period last year, said the report.
From January 1 to June 30, 2011, there were 253 homes sold for over $1 million and another 194 luxury homes sold between July 1 and December 31 that year.
The number of homes listed on the market for over $1 million was 474 between January 1 and June 30, 2011 and 473 homes between July 1 and December 31 in 2011. From January 1 to June 30 this year, there have been 908 homes listed at that price point.
The Sotheby’s report said six per cent of homes over $1 million this year have sold for over the asking price. The first half of last year also had six per cent selling for more than the list price while for the second half of last year it was eight per cent.
As for days on the market, the first half of this year was 53 days while for both halves of last year it was 49 days.
Corinne Poffenroth, a realtor in the Calgary office of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, said a number of factors have contributed to the demand for luxury homes in the local market.
“We’re seeing a bit of a lifestyle change for some of the Baby Boomers here and that sometimes involves downsizing when they’re planning for retirement and it sometimes involves perhaps purchasing a second property either down south or B.C., and because of that there’s a bit of a trend moving, re-locating from some of the suburban areas back to the urban centres with some of the amenities closer by,” she said.
“I also think there’s some new optimism in the next generation of young professionals here. They’re seeking these exclusive, higher-end properties like both single-family and condo in some of the most sought-after areas of the city. And that can involve both urban and suburban areas as long as there’s amenities and transportation close by.”
Also, there is growing confidence and optimism in the province’s energy sector and all the industries that benefit from that.
“These higher-end buyers if they’re showing the confidence in buying these still multi-million dollar properties and second properties that’s a good thing for everyone else because that confidence just kind of goes on down the line in the market overall. There’s a huge sector of high-end buyers and I think that’s what’s increased the listings because these sellers are wanting to take advantage of this demand for higher-end homes and condos,” added Poffenroth.
According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, MLS sales for properties in Calgary of $1-million or more were: 2011, 446; 2010, 365; 2009, 337; 2008, 369; 2007, 458; 2006, 334; and 2005, 138.
The biannual report of Canada’s four largest urban markets — Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — showed a steady upward trend in the first half of 2012 with Toronto, Calgary and Montreal all reporting double-digit sales growth in homes over $1 million.
Read more: http://bit.ly/NGH42K
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
How to Repair Your Deck Yourself
Tired of looking out the window at a drab and damaged deck? Here are some do-it-yourself, simple tips to improve both the condition and appearance of your deck!
Before thinking about the best décor for your deck, the most important first step in bringing your deck back to life is cleaning. Especially in the summer season, sunlight, water, mold, mildew, dirt, fungus and contaminants like food and pollution can take quite a toll. Here are a few different options for cleaning pressure treated wood decks, and each of these has its drawbacks:
- Chlorine based bleach: great cleaner but too much of it can damage the wood fibers.
- Oxygen bleach: environmentally friendly product, but should not be used on new wood.
- Pressure washing: too much pressure can damage the wood, so it is important to use a large nozzle and begin at the lowest pressure.
Following cleaning, it is important to repair any damage on your deck. First, make sure that the deck is secured to the house correctly. Alsoits very important to check the floorboards, stair treads and railing, to make sure that they have not undergone warping. For evident splinters, you may be able to get away with light sanding, but for more serious damage, you should try to replace the boards.
If your deck is stained and you need to match that color, be sure to purchase wood that is already dried. However, when it comes to damaged railing, you might have to replace the entire railing system for a more consistent look and feel. In addition, you should examine the post-caps. If you aren't crazy about your current ones and they've already experienced a lot of wear and tear, rather than spending the money to repair them, splurge and purchase more decorative ones. However, observe the shape of the post-cap and be sure that it will not collect a small pool of water, as to avoid inevitable damage.
After cleaning and repairing your deck, the next step is sealing. Sealing is arguably one of the most important steps because it preserves the wood and protects it from future damage by elements like the sun and water. When sealing your deck, there are two possible options to consider: a clear seal or a deck stain. It is important to remember that stains can range in color: they can begin as a tint and move up the scale from semi-transparent, to semi-solid, to solid.
Compare the advantages of each: For instance, a transparent stain allows the wood's natural grain to show through whereas solid deck stains can mask wood discolorations. When using a stain, it's important to remember to use the same tint everywhere.
When doing-it-yourself, it is better to use a clear seal because it is easier to clean up and the paint strokes are not as evident. For applying a semi-solid or solid stain, it is easier to get a painting professional because the more pigmented the finish, the more evident the brush marks.
Also consider whether to use a water or oil based stain. Water based stains are more environmentally friendly but need to be applied more frequently, about every 1-2 years.
Most of the info from Yahoo
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
36 Million Dollar Deal Downtown Deal
The Calgary Board of Education has sold the former education centre to an institutional investor in Western Canada for $36.5M.
The sale of the building, located at 515 MacLeod Trail S.E., was approved as part of the development plan for the modernization and addition to the historic Dr. Carl Safran Centre and construction of the new Education Centre at 1221 8 St. S.W.
The CBE completed the move into the new centre last year.
In a release, the CBE says that all stages of the sale process required by the Province of Alberta and the CBE Board of Trustees were followed.
“The sale of the old education centre is part of a long-term, integrated facilities strategy for the CBE,” said Naomi Johnson, chief superintendent of schools. “Finalization of this sale puts in place the last component of the complex and lengthy development of the new Education Centre.”
The proceeds of the sale will be placed in reserve and used to repay approximately $20M of interim financing for the Dr. Carl Safran Centre and the Connaught School.
From CTV News
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Canada to skirt global turbulence, record healthy growth this year
A new outlook from the Royal Bank predicts Canada’s economy will skirt the global economic turbulence and rebound strongly from a slow start to the year.
The RBC’s new quarterly forecast anticipates the economy will rebound to 3.1% growth during this quarter, which ends in June, and record a 2.6% gross domestic product gain overall for both 2012 and 2013.
The optimistic view from economists at Canada’s largest bank is somewhat surprising, given the stream of negative news emanating from Europe, China and the United States.
Last week, the Bank of Canada noted that “global economic growth has weakened,” and that first quarter growth of 1.9 was disappointing.
On Friday, Statistics Canada confirmed that the strong job gains seen in March and April had flattened in May.
Meanwhile, Europe has teetered from crisis to crisis, from the threat of a Greek default and exit from the eurozone, to insolvency in Spain’s banking sector. The eurozone has announced a $125 billion bailout of its banks, but questions remain about the package.
In their report being released Tuesday morning, RBC economists attribute the soft first quarter to temporary factors — a mild winter that reduced demand on utilities, and temporary shutdowns in both energy and mining production facilities.
They believe the economy will catch up in the second quarter, noting the outsized 140,000 employment increase recorded in March and April.
More fundamental to the optimistic outlook, RBC believes that policy-makers will meet the challenge of averting disaster in Europe.
Under that assumption, the bank believes the United States will continue to bounce along with moderate growth and Canada to benefit from strong fundamentals.
The 2.6% forecast for this year is identical to RBC’s previous call in March, but about half a point below the consensus.
“We’re relatively bullish,” agreed Craig Wright, RBC’s chief economist. “On balance, conditions for growth are positive, supported by a continuation of a low interest rate environment and a Canadian financial sector that is healthy and ready to provide credit.”
Wright said a lot of the recent bad news has dampened confidence, but has not changed the overall outlook.
“It’s still basically a risk story,” he said. “In a sense it’s more of the same, we get dragged to the edge of the cliff and then get dragged back.”
The other risks the bank says must be averted are the possibility of a harder than expected landing for China, and the danger that political gridlock in the U.S. will prevent a compromise to extend stimulative fiscal measures beyond this year.
Dodging the pitfalls would enable the U.S. recovery to continue, and for Canadians to benefit, particularly exporters in the auto and industrial production sectors.
“In 2012 and 2013, we expect that a strengthening U.S. economy, a soft landing in China and an eventual return to growth in the eurozone will support the fastest pace of Canadian export growth over a two-year period since 2000,” Wright said.
Given the positive growth, Wright said he expects the Bank of Canada will start raising interest rates later this year.
The report cautions that growth will not be evenly spread. The RBC economists say western Canada will continue to dominate in growth this year, led by Alberta, but with Saskatchewan and Manitoba close behind. Ontario and B.C. are expected to mirror the national average in growth.
RBC also sees the unemployment rate in Canada remaining just above 7% until the middle of next year, which implies modest job creation going forward.
From our friends at The Finanical Post
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
66 Million Dollar Sale
Crowfoot Corner and Crowfoot Village, two prominent retail centres in northwest Calgary were sold to complete a 66 million dollar acquisition to a REIT.
CBRE acted on behalf of Sunstone Realty Advisors in the disposition of the assets to Narland Properties, an established private equity real estate investment company and real estate adviser.
The sale was completed in April for a total consideration of $66.1 million including debt, said CBRE in a news release. It said Narland Properties acting as syndicator, subsequently transitioned Crowfoot Corner to Artis REIT while syndicating Crowfoot Village on behalf of their private investment clients.
“The level of interest in these centres is indicative of the strength of the Calgary market as well as the almost insatiable demand for well-tenanted, well-located retail properties right across Canada,” said John O’Bryan, vice-chairman of CBRE Limited, in a statement. “The demand for these properties was further heightened by their location within a severely supply constrained market.”
Crowfoot Corner and Crowfoot Village span a combined net rentable area of 113,735 square feet, predominantly occupied by medical office and quickservice restaurants including Boston Pizza, KFC, Starbucks Coffee and Wendy’s.
They are also shadow-anchored by Rona, Cineplex, Safeway and Chapters to the west in Crowfoot Crossing, one of the largest outdoor malls in Calgary.
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Crowfoot+retail+centres+Calgary+sold/6618266/story.html#ixzz1uu41EW5t
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Top 5 Real Estate Trends in Calgary
1. Mortgage Rates Will Rise
The financial industry worldwide is still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial collapse and global recession. There is a strong fiscal push for monetary stimulus and part of this is historically low interest rates. There is nowhere for interest rates to go but up. It will happen sooner or later and this is guaranteed.
2. Hard To Get Financing
Over the past few years, the Canadian Government has implemented changes to the mortgage industry in hopes of reducing debt. It continues today with the questions surrounding CMHC and the insurance they can offer. This has resulted in an enormous number of Calgarians that cannot get financing. How long will these rules be in place? The government will not make qualifying any easier in the short term.
3. More Foreclosures Coming
Many of the lenders in Canada were issuing high risk mortgages prior to 2008 and then packaging these mortgages and selling them off as assets (Subprime Lenders). These banks are no longer writing mortgages in Canada. When these mortgages come up for renewal, these lenders do not have the ability to extend existing mortgages (even if homeowners have NEVER missed a payment). Since many of these mortgages were created when house prices were at a peak, the values of the mortgages exceed current home values resulting in a situation where many current homeowners cannot get qualified again with another lender and the house ends up in foreclosure.
4. Sell Your House Privately?
People need professionals and professional representation. 95% of real estate transactions are done through Realtors and even through the professional channels, the average selling time is 50 days + if a property sells at all. It is a BUYERS market and will be for some time. Now more than ever Calgary Sellers needs a competitive price and marketing plan that only experienced Realtors® bring to the table.
5. Confusion is Prevalent
Calgarians are still feeling the effects of the financial meltdown in 2008. Everyday there are conflicting financial future forecasts from ‘experts’. Calgarians are confused of where the economy is headed. Every day we hear clients talk about escalating prices, or massive sales, or financial troubles. This has resulted in real estate Buyers and Sellers sitting on the fence.
With all this confusion, its best to call MyHomeAgent TODAY and get accurate information about Calgary's Real Estate Market.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
CPP Huge Real Estate Investment in Vancouver and Chile
Our Federal Government invests in Real Estate. Why aren't you?
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is Buying more Real Estate Related expanding its infrastructure portfolio with an agreement to purchase minority stakes in five major Chilean toll roads.
CPPIB will make an investment of 560-billion Chilean pesos, or approximately $1.14-billion, to acquire a 49.99% interest in Grupo Costanera from the Atlantia Group. Atlantia Group will continue to own the balance of Grupo Costanera, the largest urban toll road operator in Chile. “The addition of these five major urban toll roads in Chile is an excellent opportunity to expand our infrastructure portfolio in a developing market,” said André Bourbonnais, senior vice-president of private investments for CPPIB.
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which has been aggressively building its real estate portfolio, announced a further investment on Tuesday in the prime office real estate market in Vancouver, Canada’s most expensive property market.
The CPPIB, which invests on behalf of 18 million Canadians, said it has bought a 50% stake in two downtown Vancouver office properties worth $230-million (US$232.83 million). The CPPIB’s equity investment, before closing costs, adjustments and working capital, is $115-million.
The other half is owned by Oxford Properties, the real estate investing arm of OMERS, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, another major Canadian pension fund and the CPPIB’s largest real estate partner.
“The downtown Vancouver office market is very attractive for long-term investors such as CPPIB,” Peter Ballon, the fund’s vice-president and head of real estate investments, said in a statement.
The acquisitions expand CPPIB’s Vancouver office real estate portfolio to six buildings in a market where quality assets rarely exchange hands.
CPPIB is on the hunt for real estate acquisitions, mostly interested in property in emerging powerhouses such as Brazil and China, but it also has its eye on more established centers.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Alberta Housing Starts Are Jumping
Home construction is booming in the Prairies, and Alberta, after years of tepid housing starts, is leading the charge.
The rate of residential construction, especially condominiums, has lagged the oil boom in Alberta in the past few years. But blockbuster housing starts in March — they jumped 72% year over year — hint that residential construction is getting hot again.
The data were released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), and showed that starts grew nationally by 5% to 215,600 from the previous month. Starts in Alberta jumped to their highest levels since March 2008.
Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the data show the Alberta housing market is finally picking up momentum again, something it lost following the province’s housing boom in 2006-2007.
“It looks like we’re at a point now where strong economic growth and stronger population trends are starting to finally tighten that market up a little bit,” he said. “We’re seeing more sustainable momentum in housing starts in Alberta.”
Growth in Alberta comes as the entire Prairies region is benefiting from an oil-fuelled economic boom, boosting housing along with it. Data from CMHC show Prairie provinces posted an annualized growth rate of 6.4% in urban housing starts in March.
Housing starts in Alberta have grown 53% in the first three months of the year, while next door neighbour Saskatchewan has registered growth of 34% in starts. Manitoba, meanwhile, saw a 41% jump in starts.
Home construction has soared in Alberta’s biggest cities, especially the condo segment. In Calgary, while single-detached-home starts increased 55% year-over-year, multi-unit starts were up a whopping 407%.
That’s good news for a market that suffered from a glut of supply following the 2008 financial crisis. Home construction went into frenzy mode in 2006 and 2007 as the province struggled to keep up with a flood of workers from other parts of Canada who worked in the oil sands. However, after oil prices crashed in 2008, many were laid off or moved back home, leaving fewer buyers for the surplus of homes built.
A jump in starts suggests that excess supply has been absorbed, and the province is starting to build again as it accommodates one of the fastest growing populations in Canada.
read the full article: http://natpo.st/If6j7C