Property Management and Real Estate Services

A real estate analyst with the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) says the fact that Calgary’s housing prices aren’t budging much shouldn’t come as a shock. “The current Calgary real estate market conditions are disappointing but unsurprising,” said Don Campbell, senior real estate analyst with REIN.

The oil price slide is in its 15th month after all, he says. Previous forecasts stated prices would begin to slide from November 2015 to February 2016 amid mixed signals in the market.

“The drop in oil prices, which brought layoffs and lower consumer confidence, have been the largest factor in today’s market conditions, prices held steady due to a lack of real desperation to sell,” said Campbell.

Uncertainty all around

Add to the mix, Campbell says, is the uncertainty from Rachel Notley’s newly-elected government regarding taxes, regulation, or an economic strategy.

“These two main factors have pushed the listings up substantially while keeping the buyers on the sidelines,” he said.

According to Calgary MLS, the current detached home listings in September were 3,012 — or 17 per cent more — compared to the same period last year. Although the Calgary Real Estate Board reports total residential sales in the city were 1,448 units in September, well below typical activity levels for this time of year.

Year-to-date Calgary sales remained below both the five- and 10-year averages.

But Campbell says two other major factors are keeping a cap on housing prices — the growing population in the region before oil prices went south and the rental market.

“These new citizens have supported both the housing resale market as well as the rental market,” he said, adding this is directly connected to the second factor — high rents and low vacancy rates in the region.

He suggests that if homeowners were thinking of selling their home but wanted to stay in the city, when they did the math, they discovered it was cheaper to stay put.

“This lack of next home lowered the motivation level of those who listed their property and thus many were willing to stand firm on their price which in turn stabilized the average sale price.”

2016 predictions

But Campbell says to expect even lower housing prices to emerge with increased motivation from November to February with more vacancies but oil prices still remaining low.

Looking into 2016, Campbell says mixed signals will continue if oil prices stay consistently below $50 and there’s no pipeline announcement — likely resulting in more downward housing prices, plus a big dive in demand for luxury homes.

He expects vacancy rates will begin to move up, which could bring rental rates down.

“This will free up the ability for more people who have listed their property to make a move into the rental market while they await more surety.”

STEP 1 – Meet agents out in their working environment, not in their offices. Good agents spend very little time at their desks.

STEP 2 – Make sure the agent has closed many properties and has worked a few years at least. You will want an agent that is willing to knock on doors that are not for sale. More closings mean more experience.

STEP 3 – Check out open houses. Don’t worry that you are not interested in that particular property. The agent knows that open houses rarely produce a buyer for that home and use the open house as a tool to find buyers.

STEP 4 – Contact the agent with whom a friend or relative worked. If this agent produced positive results for a friend, there’s a good chance they will do the same for you.

STEP 5 – Make sure your agent is online. Having a web savvy agent is very important today as over 85% of all buyers initially see their homes online. Great agents have laptops and often have moved to mobile technology to assist. A real estate agent in today’s world must email, text, and be available to buyers and sellers alike.670px-Find-a-Good-Real-Estate-Agent-Step-5

STEP 6 – Interview several agents. Whether you are looking for a buyer agent or seller agent. Remember though, agents will tell you what you want to hear. Make sure they are not selling you a dream partnership… you want to hire a realistic real estate agent. Don’t sign a buyers agreement form before looking for property (you should feel free to build trust with a real estate agent over several hours of looking before signing anything).

STEP 7 – Look for signs that the agent is busy. A hard-working, go-getter of an agent is good. Be careful, sometimes they are too busy. A real estate agent can only effectively work with about a half-dozen buyers and a dozen sellers at any given time to properly give the time needed to a buyer. If they pass you to an “assistant”, move to another agent that will give their time to you.

STEP 8 – Be sure that your agent is knowledgeable. Ask questions about things you have learned through your new-found interest in real estate. If they don’t know more than you – after all, this is her livelihood! – go on to seasoned agent. Local knowledge is particularly critical especially in city settings.
An excellent agent is the most important to you when buying a home for the first time. They should have experience and should be able to guide you through the complexities of the process including lender info that you will have to provide. The loan process has become much more demanding and complex in 2010.

STEP 9 – See how the agent’s MLS listings come up in searches. However if you wish to purchase your dream home that is not for sale it will not show up on the MLS. When listing in today’s market, all listings from small to big should have professional photos – this is the first sign of a professional real estate agent who understands today’s market.670px-Find-a-Good-Real-Estate-Agent-Step-10

STEP 10 – See how the agent’s MLS listings come up in searches. However if you wish to purchase your dream home that is not for sale it will not show up on the MLS. When listing in today’s market, all listings from small to big should have professional photos – this is the first sign of a professional real estate agent who understands today’s market.

STEP 11 – Check the references that an agent should be able to provide you. Ask the other real estate agents you interview if they know the other agent and if they respect them as a real estate agent.670px-Find-a-Good-Real-Estate-Agent-Step-11

STEP 12 – Ask your agent where they live. An agent that lives and works locally will have their finger on the pulse of the market and be able to answer important questions about the community. They should at a minimum know the schools where they work. This is especially important in large cities.

STEP 13 – Ask “Can you recommend service providers who can assist me in obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, and other things I need done?” Keep in mind here that a real estate agent should generally recommend more than one provider and shouldn’t receive any compensation (ethical issues tend to arise when this happens).

STEP 14 – Ask how long the real estate agent has been working full time. It is not that newer agents aren’t capable, it just is a factor in making an informed decision. Many “experienced” agents are not always the best choice either. Especially if they haven’t kept up with technology.

STEP 15 – Ask the agent if the real estate agent is a full time agent. Is this her only job? You should demand a full time agent.670px-Find-a-Good-Real-Estate-Agent-Step-16

STEP 16 – Ask Who the agent is working for in the transaction, the buyer or the seller (a real estate agent selling a house almost always works for the seller and tend to spin things a sellers way)

STEP 17 – Ask “How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently?” Using what media? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but that one reflects your desires.

Don’t expect an agent to call you instantly when you leave a message, but do expect a call back within 24 hours or a reasonable amount of time depending upon the situation.
Don’t call your real estate agent after hours, past 9 pm or so. They have a life too.
This is your most important transaction of your life, a seasoned real estate agent does this everyday and understands the many problems that arise during the process. Try to keep the big picture in mind.
Your house / or the house you are buying is a commodity. Supply and demand within a neighborhood play an important role in pricing and timing of a sale. Try not to become overly emotionally involved in the purchase/sale of the property.670px-Find-a-Good-Real-Estate-Agent-Step-19

STEP 19 – See a few properties in the same area on open house day, to get an idea about the house prices in your selected neighborhood. This will help to keep you from being completely blind-sided when you go to an agent.

STEP 20 – Work with a Local Market Expert. There are real estate agents who specialize in working within a specific community. Even if you have a real estate agent that you like, you might be best served by a real estate agent who knows the area well, and can advise you about any adverse local market conditions that an outsider might not be aware of.670px-Find-a-Good-Real-Estate-Agent-Step-21

STEP 21 – If you are a buyer, you want to work with a Buyers Agents (also known as a Buyer Broker.) This way you know your interests are protected in the transaction. Likewise if you are a seller, you want to work with someone that is experienced in representing the seller and securing the most qualified buyer at the best net profit for you. Not all agents are experts in working with buyers or sellers, so you need to ask specifics. Continue reading “How To Find A Good Real Estate Agent”

By Manuella Irwin, a moving industry professional, author and writer. Posted on Moving Guides

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Although we do try to plan almost every step of our life, sometimes things happen all of a sudden. Life surprises us in the most amazing ways.

Relocating is an important event that is often stressful and annoying, especially if you are moving away from home during holidays. Over holidays such as Christmas, Easter, The Independence Day, most people have a few days off. Moving during the holiday season is quite a challenge. So, we’ve prepared for you a complete how to move during holidays tips guide to help you have a smoother relocation experience. You may not have much choice and time as well, but if you are organized things will run smoothly.

Moving during holidays seems a rather frustrating activity, but if you have to do it, then stop wasting your time. Get ready for your holiday relocation!

Find A Holiday Moving Company
While searching for a mover over the holidays, remember to mention about your plans to move during the vacation time. There are a lot of movers out there, but few are performing relocation trips during holidays. The first thing you should take into consideration is that your move is more likely to cost much more than a regular move. Since most of the personnel would take a few days off during the holiday, it is likely that the holiday moving companies run on a short staff.

When booking your moving company, ask them for a written moving price quote. Actually, you should ask your movers to visit you at home for an in-house moving estimate. This way you can discuss every detail in person and you will get a lot more accurate moving cost estimate. Your movers will also be better prepared for the moving day. Make sure you understand all moving fees and expenses included in your final moving costs. Here is a complete list of the most popular hidden moving costs.

Beware that some furniture items can be carried out only through the windows (often referred as hoisting by the professional moving companies). Let your movers know about all specifics around your move in advance to avoid surprises. Set your moving budget right. Be prepared to spend extra money if you are about to move during holidays. Keep in mind that you can hire a full service moving company and book a luxury moving service option, so you can spend the vacation with your family, while the movers do the complete relocation.

Now it is even easier to estimate your moving costs no matter of your desired moving dates. Use our fast and easy moving cost estimator for an accurate cost calculation.

Research Your Holiday Mover

Hire a professional holiday mover and enjoy your smooth trip. Make sure you research your moving company online to avoid unpleasant surprises during and after your relocation.
Hiring a licensed and insured professional mover for your holiday relocation is a must. You might be on a short deadline, but don’t risk booking inexperienced, or even rogue movers. Here are some tips that will help you to choose a reputable holiday moving company and avoid moving scams:

Check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website to find out if the particular moving company is registered and licensed. The U.S Department of Transportation obliged all registered moving companies to follow certain safety rules and regulations.
It’s a good idea to run a check on your moving company at Better Business Bureau website. Hiring a BBB moving company with accreditation is a plus.
Ask family, friends, colleagues, neighbors if they can recommend you a holiday mover or a professional moving company they’ve used in the past.
You may read some mover reviews online. There are many moving related forums and blogs that you can check for reviews, testimonials and complaints. Be careful when reading moving reviews – here is a complete article on how to avoid fake reviews online.
Holiday Relocation: The Packing
During holidays we usually spend our free time outside – strolling in the park, coffee with friends, going to the movies, shopping in the mall or a family dinner at the local restaurant. But since you are moving you have to do the boring packing job. Cheer up! Invite some friends to help you. It’s a holiday after all, have some fun. Spend some time with your loved ones, take breaks to chill out. Doing the packing by yourself and not by the moving company will save you a lot on the final moving costs. This way you can spend more for presents and the holiday a day to remember.

Remember to label all the boxes. You will save a lot of time and troubles when unpacking. Write descriptive labels on the boxes, the more descriptive, the better. If you have any doubts about packing particular household items, consult your mover. An experienced moving specialist will always find the best possible way to pack delicate items. Moving a piano, antiques or expensive electronics is a tough job, do not underestimate it. Leave the heavy furniture packing for the professional on the moving day. When unpacking, start with the most used items first.

Holiday Relocation With Kids
Holiday relocation with your children is quite a tricky situation. It can be a good idea to move with your kids during holidays, as they won’t miss classes. Yet, keep in mind that youngsters adore holidays. It’s time for games and a lot of fun. So, if you are considering a holiday relocation, prepare your children for the big move long in advance. Kids need time to adjust and especially for teenagers moving is a really stressful experience. However, you can make your holiday move much more pleasant. Encourage your kids to get involved in the holiday relocation. Let them help with the packing. Discuss the new opportunities that are waiting for all of you at the new place. After all, it’s a fresh start.

Moving During Christmas
Christmas is time of the year when the whole family gathers to spend the holiday together. It might be very depressing to move during Christmas. Everybody is planing the perfect Christmas and we usually don’t see it as a packing-loading-moving event. Anyway, you shouldn’t feel bad about your Christmas move. It may turn out that moving is the best Christmas present you have ever received. Remember that this holiday is all about spending time with your family. Engage everybody to help with the holiday relocation. Listen some cheering music, or go out for a walk all together. You can arrange a visit to the new city you are about to relocate to a week in advance. Visit the best notable places around your new home and explore the city.

Moving During Holidays With No Involvement

Kids love holidays. If you are moving during holidays, make sure there is enough time for fun. It is essential that you keep your kids entertained during the relocation.
Another interesting option to explore is hiring a full service moving company to do the end-to-end move of all your belongings. There are many professional moving companies that offer luxury moving services and high-end moving services that requires no involvement on your end, except covering the final bill.

If you choose this option, you can leave everything to the moving company. The movers will relocate all your household goods while you are on a holiday vacation with your family during the holidays. The moving company will do all the packing, loading, moving, driving, unloading and unpacking of all your belongings. If you choose the high-end (luxury) moving option, all your belongings will be positioned and arranged the exact same way as they were at your origin location. In a case like this, movers use cameras to capture the positioning on your furniture, so they can reproduce the same arrangement at your new place, while you are enjoying your holiday with your kids and family.

To sum up, moving during the holidays has its pros and cons. It’s up to you decide what is the best time to move. Moving during the holiday season can be as easy and enjoyable as you make it. It is the people that make our holiday, not the place.

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Advice for Sellers
(The comments contained on this page are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.)

1. Choosing a REALTOR®

Selling your home isn’t a simple procedure. It involves large sums of money, stringent legal requirements and the potential for costly mistakes. A REALTOR® will spend the time it takes to help you sell your home in the least amount of time and for the best possible price.

Start by finding REALTORS® in your city by using CREA’s handy search tool. Then, talk to some of them and compare their services. It’s important that you’re comfortable and confident with the agent you choose.

2. The Listing Agreement

A Listing Agreement is a contract between you and your agent’s brokerage company. It provides a framework for subsequent forms and negotiations. It’s important the agreement accurately reflects your property details and clearly spells out the rights and obligations of all parties.

Generally, in the agreement you appoint the brokerage company as your agent and give its representatives the authority to find a purchaser for your home. The Listing Agreement will outline:

The duration of the agreement;
Your REALTOR’s® compensation
The listing price and an accurate description of the property;
Financial conditions of the property, including the mortgage balance, mortgage monthly payments and the mortgage due date;
Information about annual property taxes; and
Any easements, rights of way, liens or charges against the property.

Ask your listing REALTOR® about disclosure, which is a seller’s obligation to disclose facts about properties for sale. The buyers will need to know material facts about the property; that is, anything that could materially affect the sale price or influence a buyer’s decision to buy it. A major cause of post-sale disputes and lawsuits relate to defects and disclosure, but most disputes can be avoided if proper disclosures are made. Intentionally withholding information about a property when selling it can have serious legal consequences.

3. Setting Your Price

How much should you ask for? Although you may have an idea of how much your house is worth, it’s important to have your home valued on its own merits by a professional. Be careful not to price your property too high or too low. If it’s too high, there’s no sale; too low and you lose on your investment.

A REALTOR® has the information and expertise to assess at what prices similar properties in your area have sold, and may be able to help you in this regard. She can also provide information on market history, such as the number of properties sold in your community the previous month or year.

4. Listing and Marketing Your Property

If your listing is an MLS® listing, your REALTOR® will place your listing on a real estate board’s MLS® System. Through the board’s MLS® System, all other REALTORS® that are members of that board can find and view information about your property, and all have the opportunity to sell your property. Your property gains more exposure, because it reaches the majority of the real estate professionals in your community. And through, the national property website that gets more than a million unique visitors per month, your property is advertised to potential buyers across Canada and around the world.

Open Houses

Your REALTOR® may recommend an open house. There are two types. First is an agent’s open house, where sales representatives from the listing company will be invited to view your house. Each of these REALTORS® may have a prospective buyer.
The second type of is a public open house, where members of the public are invited to walk view your home. It’s an efficient way to show your home to many potential buyers at once. Your agent will act as host, answering any questions.

5. Waiting For the Right Opportunity

Sometimes a home doesn’t sell right away. Avoid the urge to pull your home off the market. Be persistent! Generally, there are three reasons why a home may not sell as fast as others: location; condition; and asking price.

Obviously, you can’t change your home’s location. However, you can improve the condition of your home and you can, of course, adjust your price. Throughout the listing process, you need to be constantly comparing your asking price against those of similar properties in your area. Review your selling strategy regularly with your listing agent, who may help you answer the following questions:

  • Is your house being shown regularly?
  • Are you receiving the feedback from prospective buyers?
  • Are you in touch with the marketplace?
  • Is your property competing well? If not, what else can you do?

6. Accepting an Offer

Once a buyer is found, you’ll receive an offer that will:

  • Detail the buyer’s price
  • Specify any conditions that may apply or be attached
  • State desired date of possession
  • The date the offer expires
  • As an act of good faith, the buyer will make a deposit with the offer. You don’t have to accept the offer as is. You may wish to make a counter offer that meets the original offer partway. The counter offer is one more step along the way to negotiating the final terms and conditions of the sale.

The offer, once signed by everyone, is a binding contract. Make sure you understand and agree to all of the terms in the document. Before signing, you may want your lawyer to review it. Your lawyer should also ensure that you receive compensation for prepaid expenses such as, property taxes, electrical or gas bills, or if applicable, any heating oil left in your tank.

After these are paid, you will receive any money you have coming from the sale.

Other Possible Requirements

Before closing, if the buyer insists upon any conditions of sale, you may be asked to provide a number of things.

  • A current survey, or a “real property report,” showing that the house sits on the property that you own; that is, that there aren’t any encroachments onto other properties.
  • Title to the property (the buyer’s lawyer will check this out when he or she conducts a title search to see if there are any liens on the property, easements, rights of way or height restrictions)
  • Especially in rural areas, a certificate for a well or septic system, stating the system meets local standards
  • Access to the property by a qualified engineer or inspector

For additional information or articles from The Canadian Real Estate Association please visit

As the vendor, it is your responsibility to pay a sales commission to the real estate agent for successfully selling your home. The commission that you will pay is established in the listing contract.

Typically expressed as a percentage of the final selling price, commissions are payable upon the closing of the sale.

You’ll generally be obliged to pay the negotiated commission if a sale is made under either of the following conditions:

  • if you accept any offer made during the time the listing agreement is in effect – even if you sell your home yourself.
  • if, within a pre-determined number of days following the expiry of the agreement, you accept an offer from a buyer who visited your home while the agreement was in effect (the specific time frame will be spelled out in the listing agreement).
  • Commission rates in Canada today typically run in the 5% to 7% range depending on the type of listing agreement. In certain situations, they can be negotiated for instance, if your real estate agent is also involved with your next home purchase and/or represents your potential buyer.
  • Finally, real estate commissions are subject to GST and, where applicable, to provincial sales tax. Your agent or local real estate association can tell you which taxes apply in your jurisdiction.

Whether you’re determining the best time to put your home on the market, estimating how long it will take to sell, or planning your move, you’ll need to factor the seasonality of housing sales into your strategy.

Home buying in Canada is both seasonal and weather-related, with spring and summer usually coming up the big winners. For families with children, being settled in time for the school year is an important consideration.

Battling wintry elements to look at houses is not the preferred choice of most home-buyers. It’s more difficult to visit during winter and, for the average buyer, picturing the beautiful rose garden you’re so proud of requires healthy imagination.

Although the autumn is usually more agreeable for shopping around, many people are put off by the idea of moving during winter.

Despite this, homes are sold year-round. While you might find fewer interested buyers during winter months, you’ll also find less competition!

Before putting your home up for sale, you’ll want to give careful consideration to current market conditions.

Understanding the market in which you’re selling will help you make important decisions about your reasons and strategy, timing, asking price, net financial requirements and alternatives – whether you ultimately sell, or not.

You’ll first need to know whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market whether there are more homes on the market than potential buyers (buyer’s market), or vice-versa (seller’s market).

  • You’ll want to think about seasonality and the best times of the year to sell.
  • You’ll consider mortgage rate trends – are rates high or low? rising? falling? or relatively steady?
  • You’ll need to investigate the average asking and selling prices of similar homes in your neighborhood, how long they have generally taken to sell, and whether the homes currently for sale in your area are few or many.
  • Finally, you’ll want to appraise the overall economic situation. When the economy flourishes, the demand for housing is high. During times of uncertainty, it diminishes.

The Buyer’s Market

Simply stated, a buyer’s market is one in which the number of homes on the market is greater than the number of potential purchasers. In a buyer’s market, purchasers have greater choice which inevitably leads to greater competition among sellers.
Price, location, size, neighborhood, type of structure, additional features, the uniqueness of your home and its level of upkeep are just some of the points that prospective buyers will compare before making an offer.
Economic factors over which you have no control might also affect local housing markets. At a national level, high or increasing mortgage rates often lead to reduced demand and a buyer’s market.
Regionally, economic downswings or declining employment opportunities might also contribute to a surplus of homes for sale in a specific area.

The Seller’s Market

A seller’s market is one in which most sellers would like to find themselves one in which demand exceeds supply and a large number of potential buyers vie for a limited number of homes.

Like the buyer’s market, a seller’s market is often driven largely by external economic forces – low or declining mortgage rates that make even higher-priced properties more attractive, or economic upswings that bring people flooding into a city or region to capitalize on local employment opportunities.

In a true seller’s market, you’re in the driver’s seat. You can likely ask top dollar for your home (or close to it!) and still attract at least a few interested prospects.

The hotter the market, the more critical timing becomes for buyers. Homes can be sold virtually overnight, with timid buyers often losing out to more aggressive ones.

When you have decided to sell your home or property, the services of a qualified real estate professional are of utmost importance.

The ideal sales agent will have a good working knowledge of local real estate market conditions and be prepared to deliver a high standard of service to customers. Most importantly, a good agent will save you time and money.

Here are the advantages of working with a sales agent:

  • An agent knows real estate values in your neighbourhood and will help set an agreeable and competitive price on your home.
  • An agent will establish a marketing strategy for your home ensuring that your property is exposed to scores of potential buyers.
  • An agent takes care of the many tasks involved in selling a house (from placing your listing to putting up the for sale sign). This ensures that the transaction is simple and low-stress for you.
  • An agent is an expert in the home selling process and as such will advise you of your rights, options and obligations.
  • An agent is an experienced negotiator and will work for to get you the best price possible price.

“Unison Realty Group Ltd. and its agents have over thirty years of combined experience. We will find you what you want and leave you as a satisfied client. We sincerely hope you will let us use our experience to your benefit.”