Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Calgary: New Home Price Index
Brand new to the Calgary Real Estate Board - something much better than the average sale prices we used to hear about:
The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) a comprehensive and accurate source of real estate data in Canada — the MLS® HPI provides a more precise picture of home price trends in a given region, municipality or neighborhood.
It can help you by:
- Helping you see price trends, so you can plan ahead
- Allowing you to compare home prices “apples-to-apples” across the entire country if you’re moving from one region to another
Check out the website and tool:
I used to the tool to generate Calgary Data since our peak prices in 2007/2008. You can see the dramatic price drop we have experienced. Something the rest of Canada has not had yet.
Great tool and its about time Calgary is in the system:
Q: How is the MLS® HPI different from average and median home price calculations?
A: The MLS® HPI is based on the value homebuyers assign to various housing attributes, which tend to evolve gradually over time.
This means that price changes calculated using the MLS®HPI are less volatile than those derived using common measures like average and median, which can swing dramatically in response to changes with high-end or low-end sales volumes over time.
It is often difficult to determine if average or median price fluctuations really reflect changes in buyers’ willingness to pay for certain housing attributes, or just changes in the volume of very expensive or inexpensive home sales from one time period to the next. The MLS® HPI removes that uncertainty.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
8 Basement Maintenance Tasks
A home is only as healthy as its foundation. This means that when you have a basement, its condition directly affects the rest of your house. Well-maintained basements make effective living or storage areas. Poorly kept basements cause health problems for a home's inhabitants, such as asthma and allergies, and a neglected basement threatens the overall integrity of your house. From our friends over at http://www.eieihome.com:
Performing specific basement maintenance tasks helps ensure the health and well-being of you and your home.
Clean basement window wells
Considering that ground-level windows are your basement's only contact with the outside world, it's important that you keep them free of debris so that the space below receives adequate ventilation. Maintaining clean window wells also prevents the entrance of dirt and pests and makes window deterioration less likely. Clean out window wells in the fall and spring.
Check for and resolve leaks
During wet weather, inspect the basement's walls and floors for damp areas. Look closely around the perimeter of the room where the walls meet the floor, as this is usually where leaks occur. If you do find wet areas, follow the dampness to the wettest area and look for cracks in the wall, or if the leak leads to piping, carefully inspect plumbing for cracks. Treating a small leak before it grows saves you from experiencing potentially damaging flooding down the road.
Inspect and adjust outdoor drainage
Ensuring that water doesn't head straight for the basement as soon as it rains or the snow melts helps considerably in preventing leaks and excessive moisture. Clean eavestroughs at the beginning of each season so that they don't overflow on top of the house and cause water to run down the walls and into the basement. Also ensure that the downspouts flow away from the house into the street or yard. And make sure the soil around your home slopes away from the structure, going out at least 1.8 meters from the house.
Take care of indoor drainage
Every six months, clean the drain in your basement floor by pouring in a half cup of bleach. Flush water through after it sits for 10 minutes. Also check sump pumps to make sure they’re in working order.
Because of their location below ground, basements are naturally more humid than other areas of the home. If your basement's relative humidity is higher than 50% to 60%, mold is likely to develop, bringing with it unpleasant odors and allergy symptoms. Keep mold and high humidity at bay by installing and running an Energy Star-rated dehumidifier. You want to lower overall relative humidity to 35% to 45%.
Maintain piping insulation
Prevent moisture that naturally builds up on cold-water pipes during hot weather from dampening surrounding areas by applying insulation to the pipes to help prevent sweating. Doing so also avoids energy loss.
Check basement support beams
Every two to three years, inspect each support beam, ensuring that no gaps exist between the beams and the main house girders. Alleviate gapping by filling in with metal or hard wood where necessary. Gaps between the beams and house girders are dangerous because it means that the beams aren't carrying their share of the load of the house. This can lead to uneven settling, which can result in wall and floor cracking.
Look for pests
Many home pests take refuge in the damp, dark basement. On a monthly basis, check for and treat invaders such as mice. Besides actually spotting pests, recognize the presence of invaders by their tell-tale droppings. Many also chew on moist, organic materials such as cloth, so do your best to avoid clutter in the basement.
As you can see, while thoroughly checking your basement for trouble on a regular basis does take some time and effort, the reward of a comfortable, healthy subterranean space is well worth completing a few maintenance tasks.
Original Written by Julie Bawden-Davis
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Always Be Thankful
You need to be thankful for not only your accomplishments but also for circumstances that do not go as planned. Having a grateful attitude is important. It will help you stay humble, which in turn, will help you continue striving for the ultimate in success.
Monday, February 13, 2012
CMHC Predicts Stable Housing
Canada's housing market will remain stable for at least two more years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. predicted Monday, with the expected slow growth in the economy keeping house prices in check.
CMHC, the Crown corporation that insures Canadian mortgages, expects little change during 2012 in prices and sales of existing homes, as well as little change in new home construction.
Mathieu Laberge, deputy chief economist at the agency, says low interest rates will keep buyers buying, but the slow economy will put a damper on any price hikes.
"With the Canadian economy set to expand at a moderate pace and mortgage rates expected to remain low, activity levels in 2012 in both new home construction and sales of existing homes will stay close to levels seen in 2011," Laberge said in a CMHC statement.
Mortgage rates will remain flat through most of 2012, CMHC predicts, and start increasing moderately in late 2012 or early 2013.
The average house price across the country will hit $368,900 for 2012. By 2013, it will be $379,000.
Around 457,300 existing homes are expected to change hands in 2012, moving a little higher in 2013 to 468,200 units.
Housing starts are expected to be around 190,000 units this year and 193,800 units in 2013, the CMHC also predicted.
Over 2012, CMHC expects Canada's six eastern provinces will see a contraction in housing starts. By 2013, however, modest growth will return to Quebec and Ontario, they say.
All four western Canadian provinces will see growth in housing starts in 2012, with Alberta leading the way at 13.2 per cent. In 2013, the western provinces except Saskatchewan will see positive growth; Saskatchewan's total starts are expected to contract by 2.7 per cent.
Low mortgage rates have driven demand in the housing markets for years now, causing house prices to rise sharply, particularly in big cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.
Even as the economy has slowed in recent years, the housing market has seen little change. Price growth has slowed in most areas, but not retreated.
Last month, BMO economists suggested Canada would likely avoid a serious housing market crash, with the possible exception of Vancouver.
That analysis, by BMO economists Sherry Cooper and Sal Guatieri, suggested that most markets are more likely to cool rather than collapse over the next couple of years.
The one exception, they said, would be Vancouver and parts of B.C., which will likely experience a more severe correction, because demand from non-resident Chinese investment has been driving up prices.
Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20120213/cmhc-canadian-housing-market-outlook-120213/#ixzz1mIWj8kNf
Sunday, February 12, 2012
6 signs that it’s time to replace or repair your HVAC system
Repairing or replacing your HVAC system is likely the type of experience you place on the I’ll-get-to-it-later list. However, your attentiveness to this system can actually make or break your home experience.
From our friends over at 50plus.com
Not only can a faulty system create quite the dent in your monthly budget, it can also result in an uncomfortable living space and is quite dangerous to your safety. A cracked or clogged system creates a fire hazard and can spread harmful gases into your home environment. However, you can easily prevent these issues by being proactive before problems arise. As long as you pay attention to red flags and remain mindful of choosing reliable repair methods, you’ll be ahead of the game and your home will remain a happy and healthy place.
Here are a few warning signs that it might be time to consider replacing your HVAC system:
1. You Regard Your HVAC as an Antique
Ask yourself how long your HVAC system has been in place. If something is amiss but your system is younger than 10 years, you may simply need some replacement parts.
However, if your HVAC is more than 10 to 15 years old, it may be time to replace the entire system. You might think your system still has a few years left, but it isn’t likely to be performing at full efficiency. If you notice your monthly bills are much higher than usual for the same output of heating or cooling, it’s time to take action.
2. Something Doesn’t Smell So Good
Trust your sense of smell when it’s telling you that something just isn’t right. There are a couple key problems occurring if you’re noticing a not-so-pleasant odor. The most likely culprit is an improperly functioning flue — gases from your fireplace and chimney are remaining trapped in your home rather than making it safely outside. While the problem is easily solved by repairs to your HVAC system, this is not something you should put off until tomorrow. Aside from an unpleasant odor, trapped gases are poisonous to humans and animals and can lead to death. Make that phone call to your contractor immediately and you’ll be able to rest easy once the problem has been addressed.
3. You’re Not Feeling Comfortable in Your Own Home
An efficiently running HVAC system is meant to keep you and your family members comfortable. When you begin to notice discomfort, think about repairing or replacing your system. The types of problems to watch for include spaces that don’t warm up or cool off like they used to, feeling new drafts, noticing that you’re encountering a lot more dust than you’ve seen in the past or smelling or seeing signs of mold.
4. Things That Go Bump in the Night (Or Day)
An easy-to-recognize red flag is when you begin to hear strange noises. Most machines make their own quirky, characteristic sounds, but take a listen for anything out of the ordinary. There are several potential issues that may be occurring; from improperly attached pipes, fans or blowers to parts that are about to stop working, strange noises mean it’s time to call in the professionals for an assessment.
5. You’re Ready to Go Green
Even if your HVAC system is still operating quite well, you may decide to replace it for a modern system that’s more efficient. Retrofitting your home means you’ll save money on heating and cooling without using as much energy — it’s as good for the environment as it is for your wallet. The best part? You don’t necessarily have to foot the entire bill on your own. Take a look at the Government of Canada’s ecoENERGY program that offers grants of up to $5,000 to assist homeowners in creating a more energy-efficient space.
6. You Realize This Is Not a DIY Project
Remember, choosing a contractor to assist with your HVAC means doing a little research. Avoid tinkering on your own and make sure you choose a reputable, licensed contractor for the best experience possible.
Even though taking care of your HVAC system is often the last thing you’re in the mood to deal with, solving problems before they escalate allows you to keep your extra money in your pocket while avoiding accidents. Your home is your safe haven — keep your HVAC in good shape and that sanctuary feeling can last a lifetime.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
January 2012 Statistics
Calgary, February 1, 2012 – Home sales in the City of Calgary are off to a slow start as buyers show continuing caution, according to figures released today by CREB®.
“Overall, the market is behaving as expected for the winter season,” says Bob Jablonski, president of CREB®.
The year-over-year volume of residential sales in the City of Calgary dropped, but the inventory of available homes declined even faster in January 2012.
The City of Calgary residential market recorded 1,078 sales in January, nearly one per cent below the same month in 2011. This is in part related to the drop in new listings, which declined by 8 per cent over January 2011, causing inventory levels to continue to contract over 2011.
“A lower number of sales is not uncommon for the month of January,” says Jablonski. “The number of sales is offset by the number of listings, ultimately pushing the housing market towards a balanced market territory.”
The single-family market recorded a one-per-cent drop in sales over last year levels, while the condominium market recorded a one-per-cent gain. However, the decline in new listings in the single-family market was much higher than the condominium market, with a year-over-year decline of 11 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.
“As presented in our housing forecast report, a slow start to the year is anticipated, as consumers continue to be cautiously optimistic regarding purchasing and/or listing their home,” says Jablonski.
The average price of single-family homes in January 2012 was $438,683, a 3-per-cent drop over last year, and over December 2011. Meanwhile, median prices in the single-family market remain relatively stable over last month at $395,000, while posting a 1-per-cent gain over the previous year.
“The price changes are related to the composition of what was sold. The rise in the median price was likely due to the increase in the number of homes sold in the $450,000-$549,999 category, as this category recorded a significant jump in activity in January. The decline in average price is due to the rise in sales in the under-$300,000 category, as well as the decline in the number of homes sold in the upper-price ranges,” Jablonski explains.
The condominium market continues to favor the buyer; however, this market is trending towards balance. The average and median price of condominiums for the month of January 2012 were $268,526 and $245,000, respectively. This corresponds to a 7-per-cent decline in average prices and a 4-per-cent decline in median prices.
“Last January, there was a significant jump in sales in both the $600,000+ price range and the under-$200,000 price range in condominiums. For January 2012, while sales under $200,000 remain strong, there has been an increase in activity in the $200,000-$299,999 price range, mostly at the expense of the condominiums priced above $400,000. This explains the significant decline in condominium prices,” Jablonski concludes.
Please note! CREB® will change the way it reports statistics with the February 6 release of the first MLS® Home Price Index (HPI). The HPI, years in development, provides a more accurate picture of the real estate market and how prices are affected by market factors. Average and median prices often misrepresent true price trends because they are affected by factors such as the change in the mix of homes sold, and the number of sales in different price categories.