FOR BUYERS : Summer is Calling!

Summer is such a great season for so many reasons. And nowadays it’s upstaging spring as the season to buy a home. Here are the top three reasons as to why you should focus on looking for that new home sooner rather than later on in the year! As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I am an all-weather agent and am here to help you with all of your home buying needs, whatever they may be. I look forward to working with you!

FOR BUYERS : There is a First Time for Everything!

This couple’s success story is a great example: setting a budget and having a reasonable set of wants and needs when you’re ready to buy your first home is a great start. However, it’s also important to work with a REALTOR®. As a REALTOR®, I am also an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), which means that I have the the training and the expertise that enables me to serve as your advocate in the home buying process. I look forward to working with you!

FOR BUYERS : The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a New Neighbourhood

Choosing a new neighborhood can be a stressful time, with a seemingly endless list of things to consider. Budget and safety and schools, oh my! Weighing every option is enough to make your head spin. I am familiar with the area, and as an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), can offer a helpful perspective. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Click here for the details.

 

FOR BUYERS : Vacation Home

Everyone loves a good vacation. Do you find yourself visiting the same destination often? That might be an indicator that you are ready for a vacation or second home. It’s not for everyone, but I can help you make that decision. As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I will walk you through the pros and cons of making this decision. Please let me know if you have any questions!

FOR BUYERS : Homebuying for the Win!

It’s sports season! Because in reality, when is it not? Actually, the SuperBowl is this weekend!

No successful athlete would be where they are today without the advice or guidance of a coach. Even athletes who participate in team sports need a coach to help them earn their achievements. If you are buying a home, you should put yourself in the same mentality. As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I am your advocate and coach in the home buying process. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Here is what Sports Illustrated had to say!

It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day, It’s a New Home??

If you are one of the excited few thinking about taking the leap into the house of your dreams this year, congratulations! Choosing and customizing your home should be among the most thrilling, fulfilling experiences out there. And, just in case you were wondering when this was going to start being about me, well here it is: when buying a new home, it’s a pretty excellent idea to have professional REALTOR® representation. Oh wait, I’m a REALTOR®! What a coincidence!

Let’s talk about show suites for a minute. If you’ve got your eyes on a new build, and feel like browsing around a show suite… HOLD IT! Did you know, that if you don’t have REALTOR® representation the first time you set foot on that site, you may not be allowed to include me as part of the process after that? Basically, if I don’t “introduce” you to the builder, you may lose the right to future REALTOR® representation completely. Yikes is right.

Now, if you’re working with a builder sales rep on a new construction, don’t get me wrong; they will give you quality information regarding development specifications, financing options, upgrades and sales. However, while REALTORS® are contractually obligated to represent the buyer (you), on site sales reps are hired by, and contractually obligated to represent the seller (not you). Think of it as showing up to court without a lawyer, and then asking your opponent’s lawyer for legal advice.…Ok, maybe it’s not that serious. But you know what I mean!

So, as shiny, manicured and tempting as they are, remember to give me a shout before succumbing to the enticing lure of the show home! Plus, then we can grab milkshakes afterwards and chat about it.

– Monique

FOR BUYERS : You Miss 100% of The Shots You Don’t Take

Being afraid of something is not a valid excuse for not trying it. At least when it comes to real estate. Buying a home is an investment, and with any investment, there are risks associated. If you don’t put yourself out there and explore the market you’re never going to know what you’re missing!

Click here for the top 6 fears!

As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I’m here to help. We can start by debunking some common fears that buyer-clients have when starting the process. I look forward to working with you!

FOR BUYERS : Starbucks & The Link to Your Perfect Home

Everyone knows I love my Starbucks!!

Starbucks can do more than give you fuel for your day. Turns out that the presence of a popular franchise (or lack of) can tell you a lot about your future neighborhood. This is just one of the many tips that I can provide you as an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®). I have worked with many first-time homebuyers and would love to help you find your dream home! Please let me know if you have any questions.

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The Why of Walkability

Experts tout prevalence in today’s homebuying decisions

Walkability has evolved from a buzzword to an influential part of home purchasing decisions in Calgary, say real estate experts.

And to meet growing demand for improved accessibility, developers and planners need to start now by designing communities of tomorrow through a more pedestrian-friendly lens.

“(Walkability) is important to our customers,” said Brookfield Residential development manager Tara Steell. “We’re hearing from them and using best practices to create communities with master-planned communities. We have the ability to influence that and try to get people out of their cars.”

Steell said Brookfield is making walkability a priority when developing South Seton, a residential community that is expected to start construction as early as this year off the south terminus of the future Green Line. The southeast Calgary community follows the Urban Land Institute’s 10 Principles for Building Healthy Places, which includes walkability.

“But it has to be useful,” said Steell. “What (do walkability connections) look like for the homeowner? The community needs to be active for all modes of transportation.”

City council recently acknowledged Calgary’s walkability woes by passing its first pedestrian strategy in early May. Dubbed Step Forward, it includes more than four dozen recommendations aimed at making communities more walkable, including installing more flashing lights at crosswalks and building mid-block crossings in busy areas.

In the report, the City notes the walking mode share for all-day, all-purpose trips citywide fell from 13.2 to 11.7 per cent. Step Forward is looking, in part, to increasing the city’s walking mode share to 15 per cent by 2025.

“Investments in pedestrian network development and maintenance makes our communities more walkable, which supports local business and strengthens the social fabric of our neighbourhoods,” said City of Calgary transportation general manager Mac Logan.

The initiative comes as sobering statistics come to light regarding pedestrian safety in the city. Between 2005 and 2014, the City recorded 3,834 pedestrian-involved collisions, resulting in 3,317 injuries and 95 fatalities. Figures from 2015 are not yet available.

According to Walk Score, a Seattle-based company that’s created a walkability index seen in most residential listings on the MLS® System today, Calgary currently scores just 48 out of 100, behind other urban centres such as Edmonton (51) and Banff (67).

While walkability is becoming increasingly prevalent, it is not a new idea, said Federation of Calgary Communities urban planner Carrie Yap.

“You look back at old neighbourhoods, the grid (system) is a walkable form, as opposed to all the curvilinear cul-de-sacs,” she said.

Yap defines walkability as “connectivity, through either a grid or through connectivity of elements.” That might include a more pedestrian-friendly environment such as wider sidewalks and wayfinding signage and landmarks, as well as direct connections via pathways and linear parks.

“It mainly comes down to accessibility,” said Yap, adding vehicles can be a barrier to getting to know the people on your street: “social capital, as opposed to social isolation.”

Such connections, “is one of the pillars (our) community was established on,” said Daniel Santiago, communications and recreation co-ordinator with McKenzie Towne council in the city’s southeast.

“The idea was you could phase your life in McKenzie Towne, whether you’re living in a single-unit condo, move on to a family home, retirement and long-term care facility,” he said. “You can bike and walk anywhere in McKenzie Towne and you don’t really need to drive very much.”

McKenzie Towne’s hub is High Street, a commercial area linked closely to the community hall, pathway system and future Green Line LRT station.

“High Street is basically a promenade that you can walk along with different shops and services, and some have storefronts and some have patios out front,” said Santiago. “It goes a long way to creating a bit of atmosphere and community aspect – you see people you know on the street.”

Santiago said the McKenzie Towne concept of mini-villages connected together “piques the interest of different people. And there is a lasting sense of community, too.”

Still, the concept of walkability doesn’t always match up with the realities of life in an urban centre such as Calgary, said “urban explorer” and blogger Richard White.

“I live in the inner city and I find people who could walk to the grocery store every day or take transit, but they don’t have the time,” he said.

“We have not created a walking culture. Kids from the day they are born are being driven to day care. People don’t realize how far they can walk in 15 to 20 minutes. It’s not top of mind to walk first.”

White said parents, at least, are more likely to consider the presence of a good school when choosing a neighbourhood over other factors like walkability.

“It’s probably more important than in my generation,” he said.

 

CREB NOW by  Alex Frazer-Harrison

The Next Step

Move-up homes driving construction activity, community development, say local housing officials

The head of Calgary’s new home industry believes move-up products have become the go-to sector within Calgary’s residential construction industry, and will be the backbone of new communities moving forward.

Allan Klassen, who is the newly minted chair of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Urban Development Institute Calgary Region, said buyers’ focus over the last several years has been increasingly focused on detached product priced over $500,000.

“It is the prominent driver in terms of overall growth of new construction,” said Klassen, who is also senior vice-president of Calgary housing for Brookfield Residential, which is behind the mixed-use Seton development in the southeast and the recently announced Livingston community in the city’s north.

He noted move-up homes provide the foundation behind many of Calgary’s newer communities, such as Auburn Bay, Cranston and expansions in Tuscany.

Klassen describes the typical move-up home buyer as young. He estimates nearly half of these buyers are between 25 and 34, while their average household income is around $125,000.

“WHEN A FAMILY IS GROWING, PARENTS ARE LOOKING FOR SCHOOLS, PARKS, KIDS PLAYING ON THE STREET. THEY’RE LOOKING FOR A SENSE OF BELONGING.”

Their reasons for moving up vary, but are primarily driven by lifestyle changes, such as a growing family. As such, the adage that real estate is about “location, location, location” still holds true when considering move-up buyers.

“When a family is growing, parents are looking for schools, parks, kids playing on the street. They’re looking for a sense of belonging,” said Klassen, adding that, once those locational needs are met, features such as increased square footage, more bedrooms and storage space come into play.

Stephanie Myers, who is Jayman BUILT’s vice-president of single-family housing operations in Calgary, estimates 55 per cent of the company’s sales year-to-date fall into the move-up category.

“This is a higher rate than we would see in a typical year,” she said, noting the price band for move-up homes has widened. She added move-up homes used to be $500,000 and up; now, however, they’re available for around $450,000.

Stephanie Myers, Jayman BUILT
Stephanie Myers, Jayman BUILT

“Given the incredible price points in the current market, and with interest rates running as low as they are, we have seen a number of buyers skipping the traditional starter homes and jumping right into the move-up segment,” said Myers. “The first-time buyer is more prominent in this group than ever before.”

Klassen agrees, saying Brookfield currently sees more than half of its move-up buyers coming directly out of rentals.

According to both Klassen and Myers, move-up buyers will typically settle into their homes for five to seven years before looking to move up again – often within the $600,000-$800,000 price range.

Don Barrineau, Mattamy Homes’ division president in Calgary, said his company is seeing similar demand within the move-up sector. Mattamy has currently released new floor plans within its master-planned communities in Calgary and Airdrie that offer larger square footage (up to 3,400 square feet) and larger lots (up to 43 square feet).

“We want to have a large variety of consumer segments and product types in our communities,” said Barrineau, noting that offering move-up homes allows buyers to go through the majority of their life cycle in one community, should they so choose.

Barrineau encourages move-up buyers do their homework and market research to determine, “what changes will happen within a person’s life that will instigate a move to a different product type, and what will they be looking for in that different product type.”

In Cityscape in northeast Calgary, for example, Barrineau said move-up buyers are seeking more bedrooms and an option to include a spice kitchen.

 

CREBNow By: Kathleen Renne