2015 Forecast – Robyn’s Opinion

Robyn Moser’s 2015 Real Estate Opinion

The Calgary Real Estate Board came out with the 2015 Real Estate Forecast on Wednesday. That forecast predicted we would see a 4% drop in sales yet a 1.5% increase in home prices. They felt some of the influencing factors in 2015 could be; volatility in the energy sector, lack of employment growth, lack of investment, leveling off of net migration, increase in rental vacancies and weakening consumer confidence. I couldn’t agree more.

CALGARY HAS A SUPPLY PROBLEM

Real estate runs on supply and demand. Calgary has a supply problem and has since Feb 2013, if not longer. This supply problem has been caused by our inability to service new lots in the northern parts of the city due to lack of infrastructure. The City of Calgary has been limiting new lot permits in these areas for a few years now. The new home market in previous years allowed our supply to match or exceed demand. Being cut off from this supply has allowed Calgary’s prices to inflate into unsustainable inflation. We knew once the infrastructure could be put in place that our market would stabilize. We expected this to be completed around 2017.

LOW OIL PRICE EFFECT

Since February 2013 Calgary has been sitting in a sellers market. This means we had low inventory, high demand and above average inflation of home prices. This course was unsustainable. Low oil prices will cause our energy sector to pull back on growth allowing demand to ease on an over heated market, allowing us to find a balance of supply and demand. This is good thing. This balance was expected to not come until closer to 2017. The ability of home buyers to slow down and make an educated, rational choice is important when buying the largest investment of their lives.

MARKET CONDITIONS

There is no such thing as a bad market. All markets and conditions have different opportunities. Sometimes those opportunities fit into your financial/life plan and sometimes they don’t. The market we are entering into will be similar to the market we saw in 2012. Right now we are all sitting back wondering how long these low oil prices will last. It is true the longer they go on the more worrisome it becomes for the Alberta economy due to our heavy dependence on the energy sector. 2015 will be more of a wait and see approach by most of the general public especially over the first half of 2015. If your real estate sky didn’t fall in 2012, then it shouldn’t fall this year.

ARE HOUSE PRICES OVER INFLATED?

Yes, by 0.5% in accordance to my inflation graph and trend line based off statistical data from the MLS.

2015 - Inflation Rate Graph
WILL WE SEE A DROP IN HOUSING PRICES?

No. This is what I like to call a hesitation. Since 1995 Calgary real estate has increased at an average amount of 5% per year. Anything between zero to four percent is the market hesitating, anything over six percent is above average inflation. Anything less than 0% is deflation. I expect a hesitation. I will only become concerned if we do not see the oil price recovery in/by the last quarter of 2015. If we enter 2016 with $40 per barrel oil I will expect to see a consistent buyers market.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?

The question “is now a good time to sell or a good time to buy?” is a case-by-case basis. To say there is a blanket answer to that is irresponsible. If you want to invest, the question is what rate of return are you looking for in what time frame? If you want to buy a home to live in, the question is how long do you want to live there and what do you need out when you move again? If you need to sell, when did you purchase, at what price and where are you going? If you want to flip a house, what time frame will it take to complete the renovation and what return are you looking for? You can see how this answer could never be the same for all in the same moment when all needs, wants and goals are different. If you want to know if this is a good time to buy or sell for your specific needs and timeline, talk to a licensed professional that has a passion for knowing and understanding this industry. Someone who can talk to you with statistical data and interpret how that data translates into a path to your real estate goals

2015 ITEMS OF IMPORTANCE

1) We expect to see interest rates increase .25% in the last quarter. Usually a raise in interest rates will speed up a market due to people trying to get into the market before rates rise further.

2) Doom and gloom sells better. Make your market decisions based on fact, not emotion and 10 second sound bites.

If I’d Only Known…

Buying a home can seem complex and often confusing business. These are four aspects of the process buyers wish they had better understood before hey purchased their homes.

  • Home-Financing Options: Unfortunately for many buyers, it’s not until after they’ve purchased that they realize how little they knew about financing, from conventional fixed – and adjustable-rate mortgages, to government programs, to alternatives like seller financing, there are more options than you might think. Before you commit to anything, work with your mortgage representative to discuss the options that fit best with your financial situation and long-term plans.
  • Apply for a Mortgage Loan: A lack of knowledge about the difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification, what information and documentation they needed to satisfy, and what they shouldn’t have done when applying for a loan has unnecessarily slowed down the home-buying process for many an inadequately informed buyer.
  • Closing Costs: There’s a lot to pay for in addition to a property’s purchase price, including legal fees, property taxes, title insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Buyers often find themselves caught by surprise at the last minute, scrambling to come up with the required funds or even unable to complete the transaction.
  • How Long it can Take: A lot of buyers believed it would take them less time to navigate their way through the home-buying process than it actually did. Finding just the right home takes time; once the hunt is over, buyers still need to be patient as they go from having their offer accepted to sealing the deal by signing those closing documents.

Common Painting Mistakes

In his role as the “Paint Doctor” for Purdy—longtime makers of handcrafted paint brushes and roller covers—Bruce Schneider fields queries from intrepid do-it-yourselfers on a regular basis. Who better to ask about the most common problems that homeowners encounter in their interior painting projects?

Mistake #1
Choosing Inferior Applicators
Solution: “To get the job done right, you need good quality tools,” Schneider says. “It always boggles my mind that people are willing to spend $40 or $50 on a gallon of premium paint but decide to go cheap on the applicators. Later, when they see a hair on the wall or lumps of roller lint under the paint, they’ll realize the mistake. Investing in good brushes or rollers up front is worth the extra expense.”

Mistake #2
Improper Preparation
Solution: “It may seem obvious, but you always want to do repair work first so that your walls are smooth, clean, dry, and free of loose debris before you begin painting,” Schneider advises.

Mistake #3
Overextending Each Dip of the Brush or Roller
Solution: DIYers often continue applying a dip of paint until the brush or roller becomes dry. The problem? “When you overextend each dip, the paint can dry in the brush bristles, and the fabric on rollers can mat down,” he cautions. “Be sure to always maintain a smooth line of paint. Once the paint appears to break up, it’s time to re-dip.”

Mistake #4
Breathing the Wrong Way
Solution: The way you breathe when painting—especially when cutting in near edges—can affect the steadiness of your hand. “When you need to be precise, hold your breath or breathe out,” Schneider suggests. “Your body moves more when you’re breathing in.”

Mistake #5
Letting Touch-up Paint Dry Out
Solution: To extend the life of your leftover paint, try these tricks. “For water-based paint, place a piece of clear plastic wrap directly on the surface of the paint, then reseal the container,” Schneider offers. “For oil-based paint, add about a half-inch of water on the surface before resealing.”

Selling Your Home with Pets

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Almost everybody loves pets except the home buyer who is buying your house. Don’t ask me why, but that’s often how it works out. Home sellers who adore their pets have a hard time imagining the negative attitudes others harbor against pets. So, while this might be a bitter pill to swallow, if you want to get top dollar for your house, pay attention to how much you might lose with a dog or cat in residence.

#1 Preferred Pet Solution: You’re not going to like this but I’ll say it anyway, fully realizing that this very excellent piece of advice is likely to fall on deaf ears. The best thing to do to ensure top price for your home is to relocate your pets while your home is on the market. Putting them in the back yard, in the garage or in another room that you keep locked is insufficient, and it’s not fair to them. You need to remove them from the house.

  • Let a friend or relative care for Fluffy and Spike.
  • Board them at a kennel.
  • Send them on vacation.

Overcoming Negatives Associated with Your Pets: If you shrug off all professional advice and absolutely refuse to move your pets out of the house, then at least minimize the objections and nuisance factors, real or otherwise:

  • Cat Litter Boxes & Dog Potty Pads – Keep them out of sight and impeccably clean. Nothing turns off buyers faster than opening the door to the laundry room and being greeted by a full or stinky cat box.
  • Carpet & Floor Pet Stains – Hire professionals to remove the stains. Buyers will spot them and form unfavorable opinions about the rest of the house. If the stains can’t be removed, then remove the floor covering and replace it.
  • Pet Odors and Smells
  1. Cat urine is the worst. Without question. The. Worst. Bring in a neighbor to do a whiff test.
  2. Do not use air fresheners. People with allergies will react.
  3. Try enzyme cleaners such as Simple Solution , Nature’s Miracle or call a professional ozone company.

Remove Signs of a Pet: You may be required by state law to disclose that pets have lived in your home, but you don’t need to advertise that pets live at your house. Removing signs that you have a pet is simply smart practice. Why turn off a buyer at the get-go? It’s those first impressions that are so all-fired important.

  • Do not put photos online showing your cat asleep on the bed
  • Seal up doggie doors
  • Put away food and water bowls when not in use
  • Vacuum religiously, every day, sometimes twice a day
  • Pick up pet toys and put them away
  • Pack up cat trees and other signs of cat paraphernalia (you know who you are)
  • Remove photos of pets from refrigerator, walls and table tops
  • Pack up all cages, carriers and other tell-tale signs

Showing Your House – Put your pets into a carrier and attach a note warning buyers not to disturb them. The last thing you need is somebody sticking their hand inside the carrier and getting bit or scratched. You can’t predict how your pet will react when locked up and alone.

Have a quick pre-showing clean-up routine – After your house is cleaned “to the bone,” it’s much easier to tidy up in a hurry. Some tips are a quick swiffer for hardwoods, or vaccum job for carpet.  Keep a blanket on any/all furniture that your pet may cuddle up on. That way, it’s easily thrown in the washing machine, right before you have a showing.  It will do wonders eliminating pet fur as well as odors from your home. De-nose your windows!  We know how dogs love to stare out a front window or door to see which squirrels or birds are about for the day.  But, no buyer will think those cute little dog smudges are as cute as you do. Grab a quick spray of windex, and smudges are squeaky clean!

Curb your pet! – You never get a second chance to make a first impression!   Curb appeal is hugely important to buyers, so let’s make sure that all outside areas of your home are pet free as well.  From your front yard, your back yard, your courtyard, etc.  Make sure your puppy’s playground shows no signs of pets. Pay attention and remove all sticks, toys and ALL OTHER debris that may be present.

Getting Settled

Moving day has come and gone; you’ll be unpacking and decorating for months. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to make your new house or condo feel a little more like home

  • Maintain your routines: When your surroundings change, it’s important for you, your kids and even your pets to remember you haven’t changed. So be consistent: make a point of honoring the same rituals – bedtime(s), mealtimes, appointments such as date night or family game night – in your new home as you did in your old one.
  • Make sure everybody’s “comfort items” are at the ready upon arrival in your new home. For a toddler that may be a certain stuffed animal and for you it could be your favorite coffee mug. This tip is a lot easier to follow if you pay these items special attention while packing for your move – make sure they’re easily accessible.
  • Carve out a sanctuary space. Setting up your new home is a lengthy process. In the short term, make a priority of establishing one room, or even a corner of a room, with all the creature comforts. Ideally, this space is a relaxing retreat from cleaning, repairing, unpacking and all the other stresses that are part of settling into a new home.
  • Get outside and explore – on foot. Walking is the best way to get your bearings in a new setting; you won’t be distracted, you can dawdle, and you’ll be able to get places you can’t by car, all of which means you’ll see more. Discover your new favorite cafe or find the local gym so you can return to your pre-move routines.

 

A Clean Sweep

Lucien-Smith-A-Clean-Sweep-Installation-View-Photos-by-Matthu-Placek-Courtesy-The-Suzanne-Geiss-Company

While just about everyone enjoys a clean house, there are precious few who enjoy the work involved. Even the most hygienic of homeowners would rather spend their time doing something else. Make cleaning your home an easier, faster and less unpleasant process with the following tips/

First things first, have the right tools – your cleaning equipments should be easy to maintain while making your task easier. For instance, brooms with angled heads and dusters with telescopic handles make it easier to clean hard-to-reach places; mops with removable heads are easier to clean, and those with loops (as opposed to cut) ends are more effective and durable.

Be sure to keep your cleaning equipment in good working order, too. You’ll spend considerably more time passing a poorly maintained vacuum over the same area of carpeting – and still leave more dirt behind – than you will with a vacuum whose filter you’ve regularly cleaned/replaced or belt you’ve changed as needed.

Now that you’re well equipped, it’s time to get organized. Gather all your essential cleaning supplies – you all-purpose cleaner, sponges, microfiber cloths and gloves, for example – into some kind of caddy that can travel with you from room to room. Having everything you need within handy reach will help prevent you from wasting time or getting distracted as you retrieve that forgotton item.

Organize a plan of attack, too. Figure our what chores need to be done, when, and by whom. Create cleaning checklists and/or schedules that will work for your particular family/lifestyle. You might have a different checklist for each room or person in your home, for example, or checklists for each day, week and/or month.

When it comes time to get down to business, do whatever you need to do to get in the right head space. That might mean cranking up the high-energy music, playing that newly downloaded podcast or streaming your favorite TV show. For those who need to see the light at the end of the tunnel, that may mean setting a timer – when your 15 or 30 minutes are over, so is your work. For parents, that may mean setting up a cleaning game like musical chores for children – when the music changes, the kids switch chores. If it helps motivate you (or your spouse/children) have a reward ready for when the chores are done.

Of course, another helpful way to make your home easy to clean is to design it that way. When you have the opportunity to redecorate, opt for finishes and materials that will help reduce the amount of time you need to spend cleaning, rather than adding to it. Walls needs a fresh coat? Choose a paint with a high scrubbability rating. Carpeting looking worse for wear? Consider it replacing it with carpet tiles rather than the wall-to-wall variety. Ditching those outdated appliances for new models? Avoid stainless steel unless you want to spend more time erasing fingers prints!

5 Favourite Picture Hanging Tricks

Hanging a picture is about as DIY as many homeowners get. But although it may seem easy, hanging a picture properly is much more than a haphazard task. Here are five favorite tips for taking a one-hole approach to hanging a picture on the wall.

YoungHouseLove-Arranging-Hanging-Artwork

1. Don’t eyeball it! If you’re hanging multiple pieces of artwork, you need to figure out how they’ll work together before you start making holes. My recommendation is to make a template. Use newsprint or butcher paper to create true-scale templates of your frames, then use painter’s tape to figure out the best arrangement. Young House Love has a great walkthrough of the technique.

2. Don’t use nails—well, not JUST nails. I know every one of you has hung a picture using a simple brad nail. I’ll even admit there are several in my own home hung this way. But they are the pictures most likely to fall off the wall or require regular straightening. A single nail hammered into drywall is not stable enough to support much weight, so invest in the right hardware. My go-to options are self-tapping threaded anchors and screws, which provide a wider balance point without using wire. I’ve  also used steel, hooked wire hangers to great success.

3. Use math—really! If you purposefully stagger art so nobody can tell that your frames are not straight, fear not. A little math will enable to hang series of perfectly spaced art works. I shared my favorite technique on the ReadyMade blog. You can just plug your dimensions into the calculator and be good to go (no fancy equations required).

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4.  The best-ever picture hanging tip. Kristen from Celebrate Everyday with Me dubs this trick “the best ever”, and I think she might be right. I’ve seen all kinds of methods for marking a hole on the wall before drilling, but this one tip renders the rest unnecessary. The idea is to create a portable hanger on which to suspend your picture, so that measuring and marking drill holes becomes significantly easier. So brilliant, you should make two!

5. Use a sticky note to capture dust. Since hanging artwork is usually a task done in a finished room, it can create drywall, plaster, or concrete dust on your carpet, floors, or furniture. So just use this little tip: Add a simple, folded Post-It underneath your marked hole to collect most of the dust made from your pilot hole. Genius, right?

Cheezburger-postitdustcollector

By: Chris Gardner – http://www.bobvila.com/articles/picture-hanging-tips/#.VCwa0PldV8E

Preparing your home for winter!

Give your home a once-over and tend to winter preparation tasks and repairs before the year’s first frost. “Getting the exterior of the home ready for the cold winds, snow and ice is critical for keeping Old Man Winter out and keeping it warm and toasty inside,” says Reggie Marston, president of Residential Equity Management Home Inspections in Springfield, VA. By being proactive, you’ll lower your energy bills, increase the efficiency and lifespan of your home’s components, and make your property safer.

Windows and Doors

  • Check all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

 

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

 

Tools and Machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  • Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

 

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

 

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

Done? Congratulations!  You’re officially ready for winter.

Original Source: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/502-winter-preparation-checklist/#.VCGU9fldV8E

File Under “To Buy”

Make homebuying less stressful – get organized! Create a homebuyer’s file in which you can gather together all the paperwork and information you’ll need throughout the homebuying process, including (but not limited to):

  • Contact information for those people and services you’ll need throughout the process, like your real estate agent, mortgage representative, insurance broker, home inspector and moving company
  • Your credit report, as well as any correspondence you made or received in an effort to expunge omissions or errors (which are not uncommon) from your report.
  • Documents needed to process your mortgage loan, such as a letter of employment confirmation, pay stubs, bank statements, proof of additional income sources (e.g. rental properties, child support), tax returns, statements of assets (e.g. vehicles, real estate) and liabilities (e.g. student and credit-card loans).
  • The pre-approval letter you received from your mortgage lender, which tells you the specific amount of money you may qualify to borrow.
  • If you sign one with a real estate representative, a copy of the buyer’s agreement, which spells out the terms of agreement, compensation and the respective parties’ duties.
  • Copies of your needs and wants checklist, so you can take one to each property you view.
  • Any photographs you took or notes you made about properties you visited.
  • Information about prospective neighborhoods, such as details on schools, crime rates, recreational facilities, places of worship and transportation.
  • Property surveys, if you’re buying a house.
  • Copies of the rules and regulations for any homeowners association or condominium you’re seriously considering moving to.
  • Copies of inspection reports and appraisal reports.

A Palatable Palette

Few things have a greater impact on the atmosphere of a room than the color of its walls – maybe that’s why picking paint can feel so daunting. But with the help of these tips, you’ll be able to pick your paint colors with more confidence and get results you can happily live with for longer.

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  • First – or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say last – don’t choose your wall color until you’ve decided on the other, more permanent elements of your decor, like your flooring and furniture; unlike these elements, paint is relatively inexpensive and easy to change. It’s must easier to match your paint to your carpeting and upholstery than the reverse, as paint is available in literally any shade and your local paint or home improvement store offers custom color-mixing – just bring in a sample, like a fabric swatch, for them to match.
  • Familiarize yourself with the color wheel. It’s a very useful tool that’ll help you understand concepts like warm and cool, active and passive colors, complementary colors, located opposite each other on the wheel, which really make one another pop when used together due to their high contrast, and analogous colors, located next to each other, which share a hue and combine to a more harmonious effect. When you understand the wheel’s fundamental concepts, you’re better equipped to pick color schemes that achieve the look and feel you’re after.
  • Ask yourself some questions about what you need the room to do and be. Want that small and/or dark room to feel bigger and/or brighter? Stick to light, bright shades. Wish that big, open-concept space felt more cozy? Opt for darker shades. Will your bedroom be a relaxing retreat or a place of passion? This is where your color wheel really comes in handy – passive or cool hues like blue and green have a soothing effect, while active or warm hues like red and pink have an invigorating effect.
  • Paint chips may be gree, but it’s well worth the few bucks it costs to buy actual paint samples you can try on for size. If you don’t want to apply them directly to walls, you can always paint over some white poster board and tape it to your wall; this may be preferable as white backgrounds give the truest color rendition. Just be sure you apply your samples or hang your poster board on the very wall(s) you’ll be painting, which leads us to our next and last point….
  • Consider the effect different types and levels of light will have on your paint choices. Check out your samples in morning, afternoon, evening and night light; cooler, paler hues, for example, won’t produce as much glare when exposed to lots of sunlight. Move your samples around as necessary (another advantage of using poster board) to see how the color looks under natural light, which shows color at it’s most true; traditional incandescent light, which casts a warm, yellowish pall; and fluorescent light, which casts a cool, bluish tint.