Courtesy of CREB  by Gerald Vander Pyl

Industry reports paint positive picture for Alberta recreational property market in 2018

Two major reports on the Canadian recreational property market are forecasting a healthy market across the country and growing demand within the province of Alberta for the rest of 2018.

Royal LePage’s annual survey of their recreational property specialists predicts an average price increase of 5.8 per cent for the country as a whole, but varied results in British Columbia and Alberta because of new speculation taxes in B.C.

Average prices in Alberta are forecast to climb 10.4 per cent in 2018, while prices in B.C. are set to decline by 2.8 per cent.

“Driven by the nation’s economy, Canada’s recreation real estate market is set to experience another strong year,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage, in a press release. “The search for that perfect summer getaway continues unabated.”


But Soper says that new taxes in B.C., aimed at recreational property owners and touted as a solution to speculators and foreign investors, will cause Albertans to increasingly look within their own province for vacation properties.

“International purchasers make up a very small portion of the recreational market, and the dreaded ‘house flippers’ are an urban phenomenon,” he said.

The Royal LePage report also noted that compared to B.C., Alberta does not have as many recreation properties, so prices will be at a premium as more Albertans look to buy in their home province.

RE/MAX’s 2018 Recreational Property Report says retirees will be driving demand for vacation properties in 91 per cent of the markets across Canada in 2018, compared with 55 per cent last year.

Elton Ash, regional executive vice president of RE/MAX Western Canada, says a trend that is expected to continue this year is Albertans who bought Sun Belt properties in California and Arizona selling and looking to buy recreational property back home.

Ash says Albertans who bought in the U.S. when prices were at a low during the recession have seen their properties rise in value and out-of-country insurance costs climb as they’ve aged, so they are deciding now is the time to sell.

“A large number of retirees are, in essence, cashing in – selling those Sun Belt properties and then reinvesting in Alberta recreational property,” he said.

Ash adds that with the Alberta economy on the upswing, people are more likely to buy a recreational property, which is a discretionary purchase.

“Consumer confidence has improved in Alberta, and so has the overall economic performance of the province,” he said. “Given that, there’s greater confidence in spending those disposal dollars for the average Albertan.”

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City of Calgary – August 1, 2018 – Recent struggles in job market, accompanied by yet another interest rate increase, is piling on to the decisions potential purchasers have to make in the housing market.

The month of July saw 1,547 units sold in Calgary, nearly five per cent below last year. New listings eased to 2,964 units, causing inventories to total 8,450 units. With more supply than demand, prices continued to edge down, with a citywide average of $435,200. This amounted to a month-over-month price decline of 0.30 per cent and year-over-year decline of 1.89 per cent.

“Despite some positive momentum in some aspects of our economy, our job market has continued to struggle as of late, with some easing in total employment levels over the past few months and persistently high unemployment rates,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“Also, the Bank of Canada raised rates again in July. Rising costs, combined with a slow recovery, are weighing on the demand for resale homes in the city. At the same time supply remains high and is resulting in an oversupplied market.”

Citywide months of supply have risen for each property type and currently range from nearly five months in the detached sector to seven months in the apartment sector. These elevated levels have been placing pressure on prices in the city.

Detached benchmark home prices totaled $501,300 in July, down 0.4 per cent from last month and over two per cent from last year’s levels. Year-to-date average benchmark prices in the detached sector remain just below levels recorded last year. 

The apartment ownership sector continues to see the steepest declines, with year-to-date benchmark prices averaging $257,343, three per cent below last year and nearly 14 per cent below 2014 highs.

“In a buyers’ market, it’s critical for all parties to have the most up-to-date information to make a fully informed decision, whether you are buying or selling,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott.

“A REALTOR® can help make an accurate determination on how much to sell a home for or how much is too much when purchasing one.”

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Have you ever considered owning your own place in the sun?  Somewhere to spend the long winters that isn't white?  How about San Antonio, Texas?  A beautiful, historic city in south central Texas.  Here is a link to my web site with some information on Lennar Homes in San Antonio.

Sonoma Mesa

Single Family Homes - United States - Texas

Location: 17155 Turin Ridge, San Antonio, TX, United States

Breathtaking views of the Hill Country and the Cedar Creek Golf Course await from hillside homesites at Sonoma Mesa in San Antonio. Residents can also enjoy close proximity to retail, dining and entertainment at The Shops at La Cantera, The Rim and Fiesta Texas in this gated community. Plus, homeowners benefit from the incredible energy efficiency of a PowerSmart home.

Property Type
  • Single Family Homes
  • Investment Opportunity

Community Highlights
Behind the entry gates of Sonoma Mesa are hillside homesites and picturesque vistas of nearby golf courses, along with spacious greenbelts. You will be captivated by the native beauty of San Antonio in a community that also offers the convenience of close proximity to shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Home Features
Homes range in size from 260 to 366 square meters, with numerous design touches for beauty and practicality — such as ceramic tile in the kitchen and breakfast area, granite countertops, climate controlled master closet, overhead cabinets for added storage and weatherproof exterior outlets. Also, offered is the popular PowerSmart Home which is individually inspected and tested by an independent third-party engineering firm to rate and confirm energy efficiency. Another exclusive offering from the builder are thousands of dollars in extras simply included with each home, providing great value and the latest in luxury, technology and efficiency. Among the items throughout the home: built-in appliance package, recessed lighting, cultured marble vanities, chair rail in dining room, cast stone fireplace surround, full security system with motion detector and two keypads, programmable thermostat with humidity control, and much more.

Check out my web site for Lennar Homes all across the U.S. and give me a call.  We can help with all aspects of home ownership anywhere south of the border, from finding the perfect home, to financing, and legal.

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Courtesy of CREB.  Stefan Strangman

How building a garage can dramatically increase your home value

Driving has always been a way of life for Calgarians, and given the ubiquity of cars in in the city, garages are a must for almost every home.

Whether looking to build a home for the first time or renovating an old one, detached or attached garages are the options most builders choose. However, special builds also exist and can even include underground parking or tunnels, at costs upwards of $35,000 for a triple-detached unit.

According to appraisers, a garage of any kind added to a home will increase its value. With the average garage cost in Calgary sitting around $23,000, adding a garage to a property at any point in a home’s life will increase property value, since the return almost always equals the cost.

“Cost does not always equal the contributory value in the resale market,” said Greg Macdonald, president of Sage Appraisals. “However, garages are an exception.”


When building a new home, adding a garage after the fact can increase its overall cost and limit your options, often restricting a homeowner to a detached garage.

“The best time to add a garage is at time of construction, particularly with attached garages, so as to avoid additional costs associated with modifying the existing structure,” said Macdonald.

The birth of the so-called “man cave” has meant that garages can be multi-purpose, and though they can represent an excellent space for hobbies and storage, builds specific to those specifications offer little return on investment, according to Macdonald.

A garage makes such a dramatic impact on the value of a home that not installing one during the build process can adversely affect the resale value of the property.

“A garage that is properly built and permitted correctly can increase your chances of selling a home faster, and your house value should increase by the cost of the garage,” said Colin Ernst of Alliance Renovations.

Whether building a man cave or creating new space for storage and vehicles, adding a garage can be a boon to any home. But before you head down that road, Ernst says it’s important to keep a few key factors in mind.

“Do your research. Make sure that the companies you deal with have all the proper bonds, insurance, etc.,” he said. “The cheapest price is not always the best. Review the items that a company is offering versus others, as there can be a big difference in what you are paying for.”

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Courtesy of CREB:  Gerald Vander Pyl

Fire safety tips to protect your home

In Calgary, a recent string of house fires has people thinking about fire safety in the home.

Carol Henke, public information officer with the Calgary Fire Department, says kitchen fires are the most common residential call for the fire department, “and often it’s because people leave their cooking unattended.”

She says someone will put oil in a pan to heat up, and once the oil reaches its ignition temperature, it bursts into flames.

People often make things worse by trying to carry the pan out of the house, risking burns and potentially spreading the fire if they panic and drop the pan.

In this situation, Henke says you should put a cover on the pan of burning oil and turn off the heat. If flames have spread out of control, get everyone out of the house and call 911.

The most common cause of outdoor fires is improper disposal of smoking materials, according to Henke.

People often put out cigarettes in planter pots or combustible containers, or ones that are metal, but which have so many cigarette butts in them they can catch fire.

If something does cause a fire in your home, Henke says “having working smoke alarms on every level is what is going to alert you to the fact there is a fire.”

The way new homes are built has changed for the better when it comes to fire safety.

After an Edmonton fire in 2007 started in a four-unit condo complex, eventually destroying 18 nearby townhomes and damaging 70 houses, the province updated building, fire and electrical codes.

Rick Gratton, senior development manager of Calgary Homes for Brookfield Residential, says many of the changes relate to spatial separation.

Gratton says depending on how close the exterior of a house will be to the property line, there are limits on the number of side windows it can have, since openings in the walls allow fire to spread to an adjacent home more easily.

Gratton says tightly spaced homes also require increased use of fire-resistant sheeting and cladding. The codes even dictate materials needed during the construction phase, because partially built homes are especially susceptible to fire damage.

He says soffits are now required to be closed in to prevent fire from spreading into attics, and attached garages must be drywalled inside.

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Courtesy of CREB  Andrea Cox

Inner-city community combines historic charm with stunning new developments

The Beltine is a community experiencing a period of major transition – from the reconstruction of 17th Avenue S.W. to the reimagining of Victoria Park.

Through it all, the beauty and vibrancy of this inner-city neighbourhood just seems to be getting stronger and stronger.

Almost 22,000 people of all ages live here, attracted by its stunning scenery – a synthesis of historical architecture and glistening, contemporary skyscrapers – and abundant restaurants, bars and shops.

“What’s not to love about the Beltline?” said Carmen Saddy, who gravitated to the community five years ago as a new university graduate. “17th Avenue is a bit of a gong show with all of the construction right now, but it is still fantastic. I love just being able to step outside and walk half a block and be right in the action, sipping a latte at Analog or out on the patio at Trolley 5.”

“I love just being able to step outside and walk half a block and be right in the action, sipping a latte at Analog or out on the patio at Trolley 5.” – Carmen Saddy, Beltline resident

While Connaught, the western portion of the community, has a long history and strong identity, Victoria Park, nestled on the community’s eastern edge, has only recently begun to experience its own little renaissance.

It’s a resurgence sparked by some landmark developments, including Park Point, a 34-storey condominium tower by Vancouver developer Qualex-Landmark that spills onto Central Memorial Park. The beautifully landscaped park is home to colourful blooms and sparkling fountains, while its southeastern edge houses the historic, sandstone Memorial Park Library.

A few blocks to the east of Central Memorial Park, change is also in motion, thanks to a partnership between the City of Calgary and the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), the developer behind the East Village. The partners recently unveiled a draft master plan for Victoria Park, which includes expanded densification and a bustling entertainment district.

The plan, designed by Denver-based Civitas and Calgary’s Gibbs Gage Architects, articulates the big gestures from an urban planning perspective, leaving ample room for fine-tuning. CMLC has committed approximately $150 million to infrastructure and place making initiatives.

Top Attractions

  • The iconic Saddledome and Stampede Park.
  • Countless examples of historic architecture, including Lougheed House, Victoria Park School and Memorial Park Library.
  • A variety of popular restaurants and cafes, including the Beltliner, Ten Foot Henry, Una Pizza + Wine, Analog Coffee, Red’s Diner and Pigeonhole.

Fun Fact

  • The Boer War Monument in Central Memorial Park was sculpted by Quebec artist Louis Philippe Herbert and unveiled in 1914. It has been described as one of the four finest equestrian statues in the world.

Quadrant: S.W. / S.E.
Established: 2003
Population: 23,219
Dwellings: 17,521
Median age: 33
Median pre-tax household income: $57,291
Number of residential sales (YTD): 211
Residential average price (YTD): $351,355
SOURCE: 2017 Calgary Civic Census, 2011 National Household Survey & CREB®

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Courtesy of CREB

City of Calgary, July 3, 2018 – Many Canadian energy-related municipalities within Alberta and Saskatchewan have seen housing markets struggle over the past few years, resulting in price declines.

The recent mortgage rule changes and higher lending rates are factors weighing on demand and prices across some of those areas.

“While our economy is no longer in a recession, persistently high unemployment rates, concerns over long-term growth, rising lending costs and stricter qualifications are all weighing on the housing demand,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“Growth in new listings is starting to ease for some property types, but it is not enough to prevent continued supply growth and, ultimately, an oversupplied housing market.”

Weak sales activity in Calgary continued into June, as residential sales for the month totaled 1,896 units. This is 11 per cent below last year and 12 per cent below long-term averages. New listings continued to rise, with further inventory gains and months of supply now at 4.7 months.

High inventories in comparison to sales have generated more widespread buyers’ market conditions, causing downward pressure on prices. The city-wide benchmark price in June totaled $436,500. This is just below last month and 1.13 per cent below last year’s levels.

The detached segment of the market accounts for over 60 per cent of overall sales activity and makes up over 54 per cent of the inventory, with 4,817 units as of June. While sales have fallen and inventory has been rising across most price ranges, inventory levels for homes priced under $500,000 remain well below peak levels.

“In any market it’s extremely important to be well-informed, whether it’s about the process to get pre-approved for a mortgage or having the most up-to-date information about the prices in the community you are buying or selling in,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott..


• Detached sales eased while new listings rose across most districts in the city after the first half of the year, keeping inventories elevated.

• The quarterly average months of supply increase compared to last year across all districts, keeping most areas in buyers’ market territory for the second quarter.

• As of the second quarter, detached benchmark prices totaled $504,033. This is just above the previous quarter, but 0.41% below last year’s levels. North East, North, North West and South districts recorded year-over-year quarterly price declines. However, only the North East district saw prices slip further over level recorded in the first quarter of this year.

• After the first half of the year, apartment sales totaled 1,396 units. This is nearly nine per cent below last year and 24 per cent below long-term averages. Easing sales were met with a decline in listings, helping to limit further growth in inventory levels. As of June, there were 1,872 apartment units in inventory, causing the months of supply to ease, averaging 6.8 months for the quarter.

• While most areas of the city are struggling with oversupply, there does appear to be some improvements. While remaining far from long-term averages, In the second quarter the months of supply edged down over first quarter levels in the city Centre, North, North West, West, South and East districts.

• The easing of the oversupply in most districts helped prevent further declines in quarterly benchmark prices. However, overall second quarter prices remain over three per cent below last year’s levels, and nearly 14 per cent below the quarterly high.

• Year-to-date sales activity fell for both semi-detached and row product across most districts, but new listings remained similar to last year in the row sector, while increasing by 22 per cent for semi-detached property types. This resulted in stronger inventory gains in the semi-detached market and pushed up the quarterly months of supply to above five months

• While row product did not see the same recent increase in inventory, gains in the previous quarters have not eased, causing the second quarter months of supply to total 5.47. This is similar to last quarter and above the second quarter of 2017 figure of 3.66.

• Semi-detached and row benchmark prices averaged $419,000 and $301,833 in the second quarter. Row prices were nearly 2 per cent higher than the previous quarter and nearly three per cent above last year’s levels. Meanwhile, semi-detached prices were similar to the first quarter, but over two per cent below 2017 levels.

• While some easing in the semi-detached market has occurred, quarterly prices are only two per cent below quarterly highs compared to the row sector which remains over 8 per cent below quarterly highs.

Download the complete statistics package HERE.

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Stop the search! Owner says SELL. If you, or someone you know have been thinking about a beautiful, large condo in a wonderful location close to downtown this is it. Just some of the features of this lovely home are:

  1. 2,125 sq. ft. of luxury
  2. Downtown skyline views
  3. Mountain view
  4. 97 ft. long deck
  5. 3 (yes three) indoor parking stalls
  6. Hardwood flooring
  7. Two bedrooms plus a den
  8. Family room & formal dining room
  9. In suite laundry, ensuite bath, pantry and much more.

Where else can you have everything, in one of Calgary’s most sought-after locations including mountain and city views for this price? Reduced from $989,000 to just $895,000!

See the complete listing details here:

Floor plan available upon request.  Call today because “if you wait, it’ll be too late!”

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Courtesy of CREB - Mario Toneguzzi

Economic growth forecasts paint cautiously optimistic picture for Calgary housing market

Calgary’s housing market lives and breathes based on the whims of the city’s overall economy.

While the city had an impressive gain of 6.9 per cent in economic growth in 2017 compared to 2016, according to the Conference Board of Canada, the economic engine will slow down this year and in 2019.

The board is forecasting Real GDP growth of 2.5 per cent in 2018, followed by 2.1 per cent next year.

It’s a sign that the housing market will remain challenged going forward. In the early part of this year, MLS® System sales were hovering just under 20 per cent off the pace set last year, while the average sale price was down just over one per cent.

The good news for the housing market is that improved oil prices in 2017 and into 2018 pushed Calgary’s economy out of the doldrums of 2015 and 2016, when annual contractions in the mid-three-per-cent range set the city back.

“These dips were the first back-to-back contractions since at least the late 1980s and inflicted considerable economic pain,” reads the Conference Board’s most recent Metropolitan Outlook. “Last year’s strong rebound was accordingly welcome, although we estimate it did not quite recoup the two real GDP losses. That task will be accomplished this year…”

What is also good news for the housing market is the employment picture. The job situation in any market is going to determine the health of housing sales. This, too, is looking up.

The Conference Board is expecting moderate employment growth of one to two per cent annually for the next few years.

Calgary’s soft job market and GDP growth sharply reduced net migratory inflows – “perhaps the most visceral of all economic indicators.” Net interprovincial migration took the biggest hit. After attracting an average of nearly 7,700 people annually from other provinces in the 10 years leading up to 2015, Calgary saw over 1,600 people leave on average in 2016 and 2017. This put net in-migration at about 14,500 people last year, compared with an average of about 23,400 the previous decade.

“The worst appears to be over,” according to the Conference Board. “Although net interprovincial outflows will continue over the next few years, they will be greatly diminished starting this year and will subsequently ease further. This will help sustain Calgary’s annual population growth at just under two per cent throughout the forecast period.”

Economic growth plus employment growth plus population growth equals what appears to be a positive formula for Calgary’s resale housing market as it moves into the second half of 2018 and then into 2019.

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Couresty of CREB      gardeningGuest BlogHouse & Home


How to create a great backyard getaway for patio season

Patio season is underway, so it’s time to get your garden ready. With a little planning, you can make your own cozy corner for sitting and entertaining a reality this weekend.


New neighbourhoods lack trees and high-rise decks are exposed to the elements. Both mean you need to think windbreak and sunbreak first, planting second. Shade cloth, outdoor curtains or overhead shade sails are an instant source of comfort for patios where the sun beats down. Shade cloth can be attached to the ground or patio with grommets, slowing wind and improving climate control overall.

Hanging baskets and planters

Buying a hanging basket and popping it into a planter saves time and solves a problem for inexperienced gardeners. Instead of assembling an assortment of plants, simply buy the hanging basket that is the right size for your pots.

Baskets come in widths up to 16 inches (40 centimetres) across, so measure your pots and get the right basket size to insert into them. Clip off the hanging wires, slide the soil out of the basket and into the pot, and cram as many planted pots as you can on your patio to transform the space and make it intimate. You will be finished in a flash.

Maintenance is easy with an irrigation system, but hand watering works as well. Fertilize weekly and pinch off dead flowers to keep the patio looking fresh.


Bargain hunters can find old tables and chairs at garage sales, add a dab of milk paint to update the look, and pop on new cushions with rain-resistant Sunbrella fabric. A plastic or fibre rug over a concrete or wooden patio warms the space and invites sitting and lounging.

At a recent gathering, I noticed an umbrella with built-in Wi-Fi speakers causing problems as sound blinked in and out, making the music erratic. If you have added the shade sail and you like a more contemporary look with clear views across your table, forget about buying a view-blocking, Wi-Fi boosted umbrella. Any Bluetooth speaker connected to your smartphone will do a better job. Adding fairy lights to the patio also allows you to take the party late into the evening.

Create your own outdoor getaway this weekend with shelter, plants and furniture, and start enjoying the outdoors right away.

Donna Balzer is an enthusiastic gardener and speaker. Sign up for her e-newsletter at for regular updates and garden info.


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Courtesy of CREB


City of Calgary, June 1, 2018 – May sales activity continues to ease with the largest declines occurring in the detached sector. Additional gains in new listings continue to increase inventory levels. 

May sales activity continues to ease with the largest declines occurring in the detached sector. Additional gains in new listings continue to increase inventory levels. 

City-wide sales activity in May totaled 1,726 units and is 19 per cent below last years' levels. This is 24 per cent below longer term averages. Sales activity in the detached sector declined to levels not seen in over a decade. 

"The impact of rising lending rates and stricter qualification levels is causing demand to ease across all product types," said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

"Economic conditions have improved compared to several years ago, but the pace of economic recovery has not been enough to outweigh the changes in lending conditions."

Market supply has not adjusted to sales activity and is pushing months of supply to 4.9 months. Elevated supply relative to demand prevented any further price recovery in the market and city-wide residential benchmark prices totaled $436,900 in May. This is similar to last month and 0.6 per cent below levels recorded last year. 

Detached sales and inventories have risen across all price ranges, but the amount of excess supply has been most notable for homes price above $500,000. Months of supply for the higher price ranges remain high compared to the past several years. However, they still remain below record levels that occurred post financial crisis (2008 – 2009). 

"The changes in the lending market are preventing some people from moving up in the market. Uncertainty has also caused others to wait on making changes to their housing situation," said CREB® president Tom Westcott.  

"However, there are pockets of the market that have not seen the same supply increase. It makes it so important to understand the dynamics of your community."

Click here to view the full City of Calgary monthly stats package.


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The perfect winter escape?

MiraLago At Parkland Executive Collection

Waterfront Properties - Florida

Location: 10320 Peninsula Place Parkland, FL 33076, United States

Prices starting from: USD 538,990

Situated on Parkland’s largest lake near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, The Executive Collection at MiraLago is the essence of grandeur, comfort and convenience. Each home is water-wrapped on a peninsula, and almost every home has a panoramic lake view. The homes are located within MiraLago, an elegant master-planned, gated community of luxury single-family and estate homes in a South Florida setting.
Property Type
  • Waterfront Properties
  • Splash park
  • Swimming pool
  • Playground
  • Clubhouse
  • Basketball court
  • Tennis court
  • Green areas
  • Common areas
  • Gym
  • Security
  • Banquet rooms
Community Highlights

The Executive Collection at MiraLago is located within master-planned MiraLago, a gated community that offers all the best of Fort Lauderdale living. Amid the obvious natural beauty and lake views, ample amenities await, including everything from a clubhouse that features a pool, splash park, fitness center, tennis courts, party room and tot lot to an aerobics studio, fitness center, playground and trail.

Home Features

Homes range in size from 199 to 375 square meters, with numerous design touches for both beauty and practicality, such as Spanish-style concrete tile roof, decorative marble window sills, built-in double wall oven, decorative art niches, pre-wired for ceiling fans in all bedrooms and family room, and Vinyl-clad, ventilated closet shelving. Also, every buyer receives two of Lennar’s most popular packages: Nexia Home Intelligence and Lennar’s Everything's Included®. Nexia Home Intelligence features home automation with remote home management, providing control over home comfort, efficiency and security from anywhere. Lennar’s Everything's Included® is an exclusive offering from the builder, containing thousands of dollars in extras simply included with each home, offering great value and the latest in luxury, technology and efficiency. Among the items throughout the home: stainless steel appliances, cultured marble countertops in all baths, decorative Moen widespread faucets in master bath, stain-resistant carpet with upgraded padding in choice of designer colors, impact-resistant sliding glass doors, decorative Listello accent tile on master bath shower walls and much more.


10320 Peninsula Place Parkland, FL 33076, United States
You can download our flyer HERE.

Map Data
Map data ©2018 Google
Map DataMap data ©2018 Google
Map data ©2018 Google
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Courtesy of CREB  by Stefan Strangman  Around Town, Calgary Real Estate News Feature

Leaders in middle-ring suburbs grapple with current challenges, while looking to the future.

Calgary is a city that is continuing to grow and expand, with new suburbs and surrounding areas showing marked growth this year, yielding new infrastructure and amenities for residents. However, while Calgary’s newer communities expand, older communities are experiencing unique challenges.

In the years after the Second World War, Calgary began to grow substantially, expanding at an average rate of 28 per cent between 1950 and 1970, according to Statsistics Canada. During this boom, suburbs were built around the growing city to accommodate new families and waves of immigration from Europe and Asia. Nearly 50 years later, Calgary is now home to more than a million people, and areas that were once suburbs are now closer to the inner-city than the outskirts.

Communities like Killarney, Brentwood and Glamorgan have fluid populations – reducing in size over the summer months and growing again during the winter – owing to their proximity to the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. Other middle-ring suburbs, such as Acadia and Canyon Meadows, struggle to maintain aging infrastructure to support residents and provide many services crucial to their area.


“One of the biggest challenges is staying fresh and revitalizing areas which need extra attention,” said Acadia Community Association president Don Pryznyk. “Now, almost being considered a core community, we face more inner-city issues than when we were on the outskirts of the city.”

As new infrastructure develops in Calgary, it needs to be built around older communities. Newer transit developments and road redesigns can directly impact the residents, significantly changing traffic flow and the commuting experience. Transit redesigns in areas like Brentwood have frustrated residents and community representatives, lengthening the commute and making access to local shops and amenities more difficult.

“Developers can continue to plan to construct unattractive, street-level commercial spaces that will remain vacant for years, or they could see the opportunity that providing attractive commercial offerings and services for a community that is certain to attract upscale redevelopment can provide,” said Kirk Osadetz, vice-president of the Brentwood Community Association.

“Quality, not just quantity, should be the watchword.”

While there are challenges, community representatives feel the biggest strength they have is their residents.

“With the help of community memberships and resident support, I see our community flourishing, becoming home to a number of new families,” said Krista Kehoe, vice-president of the Canyon Meadows Community Association.

Community leaders in these middle-ring suburbs are hopeful that both long-term and new residents will come together to keep their communities strong, partnering with small business owners to keep the neighbourhoods vibrant.

“We have many original homeowners who still volunteer and keep active in the neighbourhood community and social events. Many businesses have enjoyed many years of loyal shoppers and have become hubs of our community,” said Pryznyk.

“We hope these challenges bring positive change. Bridging the gap in young and old families offers many opportunities to grow healthily and be an example of how communities can weather the years with vitality.”

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May 4, 2018

How much home can you afford?


Shopping for the home of your dreams requires knowing how much you can afford to spend, which for most buyers ties directly into a mortgage.


Financial institutions in Canada look at a buyer’s Gross Debt Service (GDS) and Total Debt Service (TDS) ratios to help determine how much mortgage to approve, and therefore, how much home a person can afford.


GDS includes expenses related to the home, such as mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, heating costs and condo maintenance fees, if applicable. These should account for no more than 30 to 32 per cent of your gross annual income.


TDS adds other debt obligations, such as monthly car payments, personal loans and credit cards, and should not exceed 37 to 40 per cent of your gross annual income.




Both these figures are part of the conversation that a mortgage professional will have when sitting down with a client, says Joshua Johner, regional vice-president and mortgage specialist with RBC.


“There are other things you need to consider that don’t come into that formula,” said Johner.


“Anybody can punch something into the computer and say, ‘here’s your ratios, here’s what you’re qualified for or not qualified for.’ It’s really about taking that next step and looking at different scenarios. What does it look like two or three years from now? Or five years from now?”


As an example, Johner points to a young couple that’s looking to buy a home, but also plans to start a family in the near future. “What does that one year or 18 months now look like, with one of the individuals taking parental leave?” he said. “And how would that affect your debt servicing going forward?”


Tom Feigs, a Certified Financial Planner and money coach, suggests that people do a complete spending plan on the cost of homeownership, plus personal payments and lifestyle expenses.


“How much the bank allows you to finance is not necessarily the same number as how much you can afford,” said Feigs. “Do you have pets? How much do you spend on vacations?”


He says if the numbers don’t match up to your income, consider if you would be willing to spend less on travel or other lifestyle expenses to afford your dream home. However, be realistic about those tradeoffs.


“The dollars that will be going in and out of your chequing account are real dollars,” he said. “If you fudge the numbers in the hope that it will just work, you are heading down the path to perhaps more consumer debt, and then making it harder and harder to make the mortgage commitment.”

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Courtesy of CREB

May 01, 2018

Prices steady, but struggles in Alberta economy weighs on housing

City of Calgary, May 1, 2018

Changes to the lending industry and a challenging economic recovery are weighing on sales activity in Calgary’s housing market.

Supply levels have not adjusted to the weaker demand environment, and that is preventing price recovery.

“Slower sales do not come as a surprise, given the economy has not yet improved enough to offset the impact of changes in the lending industry,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“While the rising inventories are being monitored, prices have remained relatively flat as gains in some areas of the city have been offset by declines in other areas.”

The easing sales trend persisted through April in Calgary’s housing market. Calgary sales totaled 1,518 units in April, which is 20 per cent below last year and 25 per cent below long-term averages.

The detached sector has seen the largest decline, with year-to-date sales totaling 2,991 units, 27 per cent below the 10-year average.

Inventory levels in April totaled 7,324 units. This is a 32 per cent rise over last year, but well below the monthly high of 10,129 units recorded in 2008. Supply compared to demand has risen, but city-wide prices have remained relatively stable, totaling $436,500 in April, a monthly and annual gain of 0.21 per cent.

“The reality is that there’s selection heading into the active spring market,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott.

“For many sellers, they have to decide what price they are willing to accept for a lifestyle change. At the same time, buyers need to understand the supply dynamics and price movements in the specific area, as they may not align with their expectations.” 

So far this year, apartment and attached sales have eased to levels that are comparable to 2016. However, rising supply in both markets have pushed months of supply to the highest levels recovered over this four-month period, which is preventing any significant shifts in pricing trends.

Click HERE to download the complete statistics package.

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Courtesy of CREB


Apr 20, 2018  Stefan Strangman  Feature, Surrounding Areas, Surrounding Towns


As Airdrie grows, new communities flourish

Airdrie’s new communities are looking forward to renewed expansion in 2018, as more buyers are looking to the city, fuelling a boom that has put residential housing sales at their highest point since 2013.


According to the city of Airdrie, nearly 2,000 houses were sold in 2017 for an average price of $394,046, up from 1,336 the previous year. The housing boom has not only led to a population increase, but has helped Airdrie grow its young, vibrant demographic. The city’s statistics now show that 35 per cent of residents are between the ages of 25 and 44, with children under 15 accounting for the second largest demographic.


The communities popping up in Airdrie are currently adapting to this demographic shift, offering family friendly options that are still affordable for those taking their first steps into the market.


“We really see this being a community for families, or families to be, who are active and spend as much time outside their home as they do within it,” said Justin Castelino, marketing manager at Brookfield Residential, the developer behind Airdrie’s Chinook Gate community. “We are really trying to create a community where people can come home and truly feel like they are at home – where the neighbourhood kids all play together, and the parents know each other.”


Chinook Gate is located in southwest Airdrie, where getting to Calgary and amenities in Airdrie is very convenient. The community includes a four-season park that features places for children to play and a variety of outdoor paths for active residents. Chinook Gate is also only a few minutes from Yankee Valley Boulevard, a shopping district that houses everything that a new family could need.


“Airdrie is a city with great energy. It offers virtually every convenience and amenity of the ‘big city,’ yet it has this very comfortable, safe, small-town feel,” said Castelino.


Airdrie is home to several new developments for buyers with a variety of housing needs.


Hillcrest by Apex, Southwinds by Mattamy Homes, Bayview by Genesis Land Development Corp. and Ravenswood by Qualico Communities are just a few of the new communities bringing exciting energy to Airdrie.


These communities are well suited to young families, and trips into Calgary for major shopping have been made all but unnecessary thanks to the shopping options now available in Airdrie.


“You spend more time with your family, and less time in your car,” said Laura Field, marketing co-ordinator with Qualico Communities. “With all the amenities you need on the east side of Airdrie, you never have to go far from home.”


With so many options available, Airdrie’s expansion shows no signs of slowing down, and the city is quickly becoming one of the best places for new homeowners to put down roots.


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The interior design industry has been trying for years to break homeowners' addiction to granite counters. They've introduced stainless, concrete, glass, quartz, wood, marble and other ideas to wean people away, but the alternative surfaces just don't have the luxury look that granite does.

If you're getting granite countertops for the first time, here are five things you need to know:

Choose the right stone. Granite is a general term that describes a type of granular igneous rock formed by cooled magma and indigenous minerals. Depending on where the granite is quarried, it can be stunning with streaks of gray, pink, red, green, blue or gold. The rarity of the vein of granite can drive up the price considerably, as well as the thickness and the type of fabrication you choose.

When you shop for granite, don't choose from a sample. You're basically buying the whole slab so that's how you should shop. Look only at whole slabs, as the fabricators will use as much as possible to match sections and to minimize waste. Sometimes it's possible to buy two or more slabs from the same lot. They are sliced just like pieces of toast so they can accommodate large kitchens. If they're put back to back, they form butterfly or mirror images of each other.

The beauty of granite is the movement of color and the pattern of streaks and dapples, so choose wisely. A strong graphic pattern will be highly energizing, while a softer color and pattern will be calming.

Hold the Dumb End of the Tape. Granite is sold by the square foot. You can get an idea of the number of square feet you need by multiplying length by width for each section of the kitchen, such as countertops, backsplash, and an island. Then add the square feet of each section together.

But that's not all there is to measuring. There's an edge allowance, seam allowance, sinks and other things to consider. You can tell your salesperson how many square feet you think you'll need, and he or she can direct you to slabs and lots that are large enough to fulfill your order. Once you choose, the salesperson will "hold" the slab with a deposit, until the fabricator can come out to measure exactly.

Meanwhile, your cabinets should be installed before the fabricator comes out. Most appliances fit under the countertops, but if you're installing a new sink or cooktop, the fabricator will need those measurements, too. Let the fabricator take the measurements. That way the fit is guaranteed.

Be aware of slab thickness. Not all granite slabs are sliced the same, so expect to pay more for a three-inch thickness than a one-inch thickness. If you choose a thick granite, make sure your cabinets can support that much weight.

Next, you'll choose an edge that is bullnose, ogee or beveled, or raw-edged. The finish can also change the look of the granite. Polished granite is glossy and reflective. Honed granite is a smooth matte finish. Leather is a textured finish.

Ask for as few seams as possible. If you're doing a large area like a kitchen, you want to use as few seams as possible so that the flow of the granite pattern and color is less interrupted. A seamless slab in a kitchen looks beautiful and holds more value than seamed pieces because it's like a work of art. Ask the fabricator if any parts of the job can be done without a seam. Sometimes it's very possible, depending on the design of your kitchen.

To save money, you can choose granite tiles, which is like a tile, so there will be no seams, but they add little value to your home. You can also order from scraps the dealer may have leftover from other jobs, but they're only be suitable for small jobs where you don't have to match another granite, such as a powder bath or laundry.

Granite requires care. Granite is fairly heat-resistant and easy to clean, but you should keep in mind that it's also porous. It can crack, chip, stain and show scratches.

Don't put hot pans directly on the surface; use a trivet or hot pad. Use only granite-safe cleansers. Don't use bleach, ammonia products, scouring pads, or anything acidic such as lemon or vinegar to clean. Don't use dish soap to clean as it can leave a dulling film on the surface. Spills of wine, juice and tomato sauce should be cleaned up quickly.

Some finishes such as polish act as more of a seal, but you can also purchase granite sealers at your local market. Just wipe it on once a year or so to keep your countertops looking their best.

If you're wondering whether your countertop needs sealing, spill some clean water or the surface and cover it with a paper towel. If it leaves a stain, it will go away eventually, but you'll know it's time for sealant.



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Courtesy of CREB


Prices remain stable compared to last year.


City of Calgary, April 2, 2018 – As expected, slow sales this quarter have persisted through March in the City of Calgary. This is not a surprise, after stronger growth in sales at the end of last year following the announced changes to the lending market.

First quarter sales totaled 3,423 units, nearly 18 per cent below last year’s levels and 24 per cent below long-term averages. Easing sales and modest gains in new listings caused inventories to rise and months of supply to remain above four months.
“Economic conditions are slowly improving, but it has not been enough to outpace the current impact of higher lending rates and more stringent conditions,” said CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie.

“We are entering the most active quarters in the housing market with more inventory, which could create some price fluctuations. However, the improving economy is expected to prevent overall prices from slipping by significant amounts.”

While prices trended down on a quarterly basis, they remained relatively unchanged over last year’s levels due to modest gains in the detached sector offsetting declines in the apartment sector.

The citywide benchmark price for detached product averaged $502,000 in the first quarter. This is slightly lower than the fourth quarter of last year, but comparable to levels recorded in the first quarter of last year. In March, the detached price reached $503,800, 3.6 per cent below pre-recession highs, but one per cent above the lows recorded during the recession.

“The market today is better than what we experienced at the peak of the recession,” said CREB® president Tom Westcott.

“You can find good value if you’re looking to buy a home, and you can also get good value if you’re selling. Being well-informed, in any economic condition, is the key, because there are differences in the market depending on what type of property it is and where it is located.”

Detached market inventories in the first quarter of 2017 were low compared to historical standards. This year, detached inventories have averaged 2,573 units over the first quarter, 10 per cent below first quarter averages recorded during 2015 and 2016.

Spring will have more inventory than last year, slowing progress on price recovery. However, the amount of price adjustment will vary depending on competing supply by location and product type.

Download the complete statistics package HERE.

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Courtesy of CREA


One of the key issues that CREA's federal affairs team has been working on recently is on Bill C-45 and the legalization of cannabis in Canada. What's the link between cannabis and REALTORS® you might ask? The legislation features provisions that allow individuals to engage in home cultivation of cannabis plants, which depending on the circumstance, size of the plant and scale of the residence, could have significant impacts in a home.

CREA's CEO, Michael Bourque, recently outlined his thoughts on the issue in an opinion piece published in the Financial Post copied below.

Want to live in a former grow-op? That's why we can't allow home pot farming

The government deadline for the legalization of cannabis is fast approaching, with legalized pot set to be available to Canadians sometime this summer.

At the same time, potential problems with the legislation are coming into much sharper focus. Now is the time for the Senate to live up to its role as the chamber of sober second thought and give greater consideration to issues overlooked or disregarded in the House of Commons.

In recent weeks we have seen Ottawa Public Health as well as apartment owners and landlords speak publicly about challenges the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) raised over a year ago with government officials. Namely, growing cannabis at home poses huge problems for the health and safety of people and buildings.

Currently the legislation allows individuals to grow four plants at home. On the surface, this sounds reasonable, even moderate. But it doesn't limit the number of crops, or the size of each plant. With very little effort (proper irrigation and lighting) one could easily harvest three or four crops a year, which could cover a large section of a home, depending on the strain of cannabis. The consequences are myriad and significant.

First, that type of cultivation is a grow-op, with all the potential risks and hazards of a commercial operation. Health authorities are calling it a public health concern. Health Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) both place indoor air quality as one of the most important elements to maintaining a healthy home.

Risks associated with regular growing of cannabis include mould, spores and fungus. People living in these surroundings with any type of respiratory illness could be adversely affected. And the damage to the home or apartment is well known to REALTORS® who have encountered grow-ops across the country.

In fact, there are virtually no remediation standards for mould-infected homes and there is no requirement to disclose a grow-op when selling a property. In addition, lenders and insurers are often reluctant to service former grow-ops, potentially taking a home off the market.

In addition to health risks, improper installation and the use of grow-op equipment, including high-wattage lights and irrigation tools, pose safety risks. With just three crops a year of certain strains, moderate yields could reach over five kilograms a year. At that level of production there is the potential for criminal activity, including easier access by minors, and apartment dwellers could be subject to health effects from smoke, odours and the consequences of a grow-op.

While it is difficult to estimate the size of the cannabis market, or to forecast usage post legalization, U.S. states like Colorado, which legalized pot in January 2014, have seen a marked increase in consumption. The situation in Canada may be even more pronounced. Cannabis has been illegal here for decades and in one day it will become legal, across the entire country. One comparison, which comes to mind, is what happened at the end of Prohibition in the U.S. when alcohol consumption shot up significantly.

For all of these reasons, the government and the Senate must make the time to seriously consider the Cannabis Act, also known as Bill C-45, and its provisions around home cultivation.

It's pretty clear that Canada has the production capacity to deal with new demand for cannabis products thanks to a rapidly growing, well-funded and capitalized cannabis industry. CREA and Canada's 125,000 REALTORS® hope that governments ban home cultivation, as has been done in Manitoba and Quebec. Failing that, we feel there is a clear case to proceed with caution and prepare for the coming into force of the home cultivation regulations.

Regulators need time to gauge the broad-based consequences of national legalization and offer solutions for all three levels of government to create rules, regulations and standards that will ensure the safety of Canadians and to protect their homes and investments.

Canadians voted for the legalization of cannabis, but it is a huge undertaking. We believe there is a strong case for getting the legislation right, versus getting it right now. We look forward to working with the government and senators to improve the legislation on behalf of home and property owners.

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The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
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