Archive for January, 2013

New Listing! 46 Hidden Ranch CR NW

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

HOME SWEET HOME! This beautiful open concept home in the desirable neighborhood of Hidden Valley is perfect. As you walk into the home you will notice the gleaming hardwood floors. The bright kitchen with center island/breakfast bar opens up to large eating nook and family room with gas fireplace. The upstairs consists of two good sized bedrooms, a 4 piece bathroom & a large welcoming master bedroom with 4 piece ensuite, soaker tub, stand up shower and walk in closet. The fully finished walk-up basement offers a large family/entertainment room, a multipurpose room and 4 piece bath. The inviting backyard has a huge deck, BBQ area & a fire pit perfect for entertaining .This is an excellent family home within walking distance to schools, parks, public transit & only a short drive for all major amenities! Roof was replaced fall of 2012.

For more information please visit

Kitchen Upgrade Tips From the HSH Team

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013


Whether you are preparing your house to sell or it’s time to update your out of date house, kitchens are one of the rooms that offer the most value. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to significantly improve and modernize your kitchen.

Here is a list of a few upgrades that will WOW your guests the next time they are over for a dinner party.

Cabinet Re-facing or Painting: If the cabinets are in good condition but looking a little aged, liven them up with a fresh, new glossy paint job. For a little more of an investment have the cabinet front doors replaced or refaced. This can transform your old cabinets in to sleek new cabinets.
Faucet and Sinks: A new, modern faucet can go a long way in making an area of the kitchen stand out that normally doesn’t. Replacing the faucet, sink or hardware or all jobs that can be done quite easily and inexpensively.
Lighting: Upgrading the lighting fixtures can positively affect the overall style of the kitchen. There is nothing like a modern, bright kitchen.
Backsplash: Backsplashes take center stage when it comes to the artsy aspect of your kitchen. Choose a neutral palette that will accentuate other highlight features in your kitchen. Next time you are in hardware or tile store checkout the bargain section and see what it has to offer.
Countertop: For just a couple hundred dollars including installation you can purchase a new laminate countertop that will give your kitchen that contemporary look you’re striving for.

We hope these ideas help you achieve that new look you’re looking for in your kitchen. For more home staging tips and any real estate selling or needs please contact us today!


Home Sales in Towns Surrounding Calgary Outpace Calgary for 2012

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

CALGARY — Home sales growth in the surrounding towns and cities far outpaced the growth in the city of Calgary in 2012, ending the year up 21 per cent, according to the Calgary Real Estate Board.

Overall in Calgary, MLS sales grew by 14.66 per cent in 2012 compared with the previous year.

“When we look back at 2012, we see stronger growth and sales activity in the towns than in Calgary,” said Becky Walters, CREB’s president. “We see double-digit sales growth for the year. We’re seeing price recovery, just like in Calgary, with prices being well below the peak levels we saw in 2007.”

There were 3,970 MLS sales in 2012 just outside Calgary with the single-family average sale price at $374,136, down 0.51 per cent from 2011.

The top three towns – Airdrie, Okotoks and Cochrane – all recorded double-digit sales growth.

Airdrie’s sales of 1,152 were up 22.55 per cent with the average single-family home sale price increasing by 2.53 per cent to $370,905.

Okotoks saw sales growth of 11.85 per cent to 585 transactions and the average sale price for a single-family home rose by 0.32 per cent to $415,415.

In Cochrane, year-over-year sales rose by 25.43 per cent to 508 and the average price for a single-family home dipped by 1.24 per cent to $426,127.

For the City of Calgary, the average price of all residential properties sold, 21,207 in total, was up 3.44 per cent to $428,655 in 2012 while the average price for a single-family home increased by 3.16 per cent to $481,236.

“The surrounding towns, in general, have done well, and that’s because people are looking for affordable alternatives,” said Ann-Marie Lurie, CREB’s chief economist. “In the surrounding towns, you can get more home than what you would get in the city. The homes are larger and usually less expensive, and, with a tighter supply of single-family homes in Calgary, the surrounding towns are just more attractive to homebuyers.”

Twitter: MTone123

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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A Rise in First Time Homebuyers in Alberta

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

A recent national survey sent out to prospective buyers in Alberta reports that over the next two years Alberta will see a rise in first time homebuyers. If this is any indication, Albertans remain confident in the marketing heading in to 2013 and the future.

Even more surprising is that 20% of the prospective buyers that plan to buy in the near future are single. Calgarians no matter the demographic, remain confident that the market will continue its recent success and housing values will continue to rise.

The Bow Tower and Peace Bridge Ranked in Top Ten Architecture Projects for 2012

Monday, January 21st, 2013

The Bow Tower and the Peace Bridge are putting Calgary on the architectural map after both were found on Azure Magazine’s top ten architectural projects of 2012.

Making this recognition even more impressive is the fact that Calgary was the only Canadian city named to the list, and the only city featured twice in the top 10.

We love the identity that Calgary is developing. Now we can look forward to even more projects becoming global landmarks!

New Home Sweet Home Listing! 1009 Drury Av NE

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Home Sweet Home – Character 3 bedroom 2 bath home close to downtown.This Stunning and Contemporary loft style home boasts 18+ windows with a 3 storey high view of downtown Calgary. Tons of upgrades. A new kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. The spacious upper floor top consists of the master bedroom and the gorgeous 5-piece en suite with a Jacuzzi tub, and his and her glass vessel sinks. Chic and modern the home is perfect for a couple looking to be in close proximity to downtown. The lower level space includes a home theater room/ den with a small window for added light. A storage room and unique space that showcases more of the fantastic views this home has to offer.Great opportunity for redevelopment. Come and take a look today.

Take a look at our feature listings page for more information on this and all of our other listings.

New Home Sweet Home Listing! 140 Cramond Green SE

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Home Sweet Home – Beautiful fully developed Bungalow in the sought after community of Cranston. This 890 sq.ft. home is on a quiet street, close to parks, schools and shopping. The main level of this home features an open layout with a large living, eating area with side entrance to the backyard, kitchen with oak cabinets, breakfast bar, pantry and white appliances, 3 pc. bathroom with an O/S shower and 2 good sized bedrooms. The lower level is fully developed with a large family room, full 4 pc. bathroom a 3rd bedroom and storage/mech. room. Other upgrades include main floor laundry, laminate floors, new carpet in upper bedrooms and double detached garage. All this on a fully fenced and landscaped lot with small rear deck. This home shows very well and will not disappoint!

Calgary Best Performing Real Estate Market in Canada

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

CALGARY — Calgary was the only major Canadian market to see a year-over-year rise in MLS residential sales in December as the national market plunged and the city finished 2012 with the best annual sales growth in the country, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In releasing a report Tuesday, the association’s data indicated Calgary MLS sales in December of 1,343 were up 7.2 per cent from December 2011 while Canada saw a decline of 17.4 per cent to 20,538 sales.

The average sale price in Calgary in December rose by 6.9 per cent from last year to $419,811 while Canada’s average jumped by 1.6 per cent to $352,787.

On an annual basis, Calgary sales of 26,634 were up 18.6 per cent year-over-year while they fell by 1.1 per cent throughout the country to 453,372.

The average annual sale price in Calgary rose by 2.3 per cent to $412,315 in 2012. It was up by 0.3 per cent in Canada to $363,740.

“Calgary bucked the national trend in 2012 as the market began to come alive, while others began to enter a long sleep. This occurred because of two main influences,” said Don Campbell, senior analyst and founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network. “Over the previous three years, Calgary had not over-performed its underlying economic fundamentals like many other major markets across the country, especially Toronto and Vancouver. A lack of new housing being poured into the market also helped to keep the average sale price in check.

“Population growth in Alberta neared a record high in 2012 as many moved here to take advantage of the job growth. This expansion of the number of citizens who call Calgary home, whether temporarily or permanently, put upward pressure on the rental market in the city. This increase in (rents) pushed many into the purchase market and therefore began the upward demand on the home-purchase market. This trend will continue, and inevitably get stronger, in 2013.”

Calgary’s market is showing no signs of letting up in January. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, month-to-date from January 1-14, there have been 375 MLS sales in the city, up 9.97 per cent from the same period last year while the average sale price has jumped by 11.75 per cent to $428,063.

In December, sales in Alberta fell by 1.9 per cent to 2,855 transactions and the average sale price went up by 4.8 per cent to $363,340. Over the year, sales in Alberta in 2012 rose by 12.3 per cent, the highest of any province, and the average sale price increased by 2.8 per cent to $363,208.

CREA’s Home Price Index in December, of seven major Canadian markets, saw the average benchmark price increase by 3.32 per cent in Canada. Regina led the country with 10.53 per cent growth followed by Calgary at 7.37 per cent.

“Similar to what we saw in September, December sales had fewer business days compared to the same month last year and most other years,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, about the national picture. “It factored into December’s year-over-year decline in sales activity.”

But he also said that “successive rounds of tightening mortgage regulations have kept the housing market in check during what has become an extended low interest rate environment.”

Sonya Gulati, senior economist with TD Economics, described 2012 as a lacklustre year for the Canadian housing market.

“With the whopping 17.4 per cent year-over-year change in sales seen in December, we suspect that the impacts from the mortgage rule tightening in July are now fully priced in,” she said. “We expect the Canadian housing market to stabilize at current levels over the next few months. When looking at previous mortgage rule tightening episodes, the housing market impacts have been temporary in nature. There is no reason to think that this time will be any different.”

Benjamin Reitzes, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, said the Canadian housing market continues to cool.

“While some will focus on the deep dive in sales from a year ago, it looks as though prices are providing a better read on the health of the sector, as homeowners are in no rush sell,” he said. “Prices are easing gently, consistent with a soft landing through much of the country.”

Twitter: MTone123

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

5 App’s for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Many people probably will be welcoming the new year with familiar resolutions: Live healthier, save more and, in general, improve one’s life.

But New Year’s resolutions tend to fizzle out faster than an old bottle of champagne. Luckily, several great smartphone apps can help keep you on track with your 2013 resolutions. Here are a few that provide guidance and encourage you to persevere.

Resolution: Lose weight
App: MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter (Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows)

In the battle against bulge, knowing how many calories you consume is key. But tracking how much you’ve eaten can be a chore. With MyFitnessPal’s free Calorie Counter, you keep a food diary that shows how much you can eat and still lose weight, and you’ll have it with you everywhere you go. You can also tap into the large community of users to find encouragement and inspiration.

Resolution: Exercise more
App: Fitness Buddy (Android, iOS)

A personal trainer can help guide your exercise routine to get the best results. But not everybody can afford pricey one-on-one sessions (especially if another resolution is to save money). Azumio’s $1 Fitness Buddy app brings personal training programs to everyone. With more than 1,000 videos and even more illustrations, it shows you the right way to perform exercises. Enter your exercises into the diary to track your progress, and get a detailed account of how you’re doing.

Resolution: Quit smoking
App: Livestrong MyQuit Coach (iOS), QuitNow! Pro (Android)

If you’re trying to quit smoking, you need all the assistance you can find to break the hold of nicotine. Livestrong’s $4 MyQuit Coach for iOS helps you develop a plan for quitting, and tracks your progress. FewLaps’ $3 QuitNow! Pro for Android is similar, but also includes chat features to bolster your support network. It’s worth spending a few dollars to get the extra boost an app can provide.

Resolution: Save money
App: (Android, iOS)’s free app helps you get a handle on how much money is coming in, and how much goes out. With the app, you can enter purchases as you make them to keep an accurate account of spending. The app also creates budgets for categories such as eating out and entertainment. The app works as an excellent extension to’s online finance-tracking service.

Resolution: Get organized
App: Astrid (Android, iOS)

Lists are your best friend when it comes keeping a resolution — and even more valuable if your resolution is to get organized. Todoroo’s free Astrid app keeps track of your work and personal to-dos, and syncs them across all the devices in your life (smartphone, tablet and computer). You can speak new entries instead of spending the time typing, and even can make lists public to share with friends.



Make this mistake and you’ll lose thousands when refinancing your mortgage

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

I had just borrowed about a quarter-million dollars and my question was simple: “How do I pay you back?”

The woman on the other end of the phone, however, couldn’t tell me. Ten days had passed since I signed the papers to refinance my home and, with the holidays approaching, I was worried my first payment would be late. She tried to soothe me with perhaps the most misunderstood phrase of the refinancing process: “Don’t worry. You get to skip a payment.”

Had I listened to her, it would have cost me thousands of dollars. And if you are one of the millions of homeowners who will refinance in 2013, it could cost you, too.

If your new year’s resolution is to save money or get control of the family budget, refinancing remains a really good option. But the idea that “skipping” the first payment can be pain free, financially speaking, is a myth, repeated over and over by loan officers like mine. Sometimes they are lying, sometimes they are misinformed and sometimes they are just trying to get an annoying borrower like me off the phone. But with rare exception, they are giving bad advice. (News flash: Whenever a bank seems to be doing you a favor, it probably has a hand in your wallet.)

Real estate transactions are already confusing enough. There are questions surrounding when you make your last payment on the old loan, when you make your first payment on the new loan, how many extra days of interest you pay toward both your old and your new loan, and when you are paying for both loans. We’ll get to those tricky issues in a moment, but the priciest mistake you might make in a refinance is also the simplest one to correct.

You’ve heard this before, but this time, it’s probably true: mortgage interest rates are at historic lows, and there may never be a better time to refinance. It’s hard to imagine rates going any lower than the 3 percent range they are at now, but it’s easy to imagine that, at the first signs of a real economic recovery or real inflation, they will climb sharply during 2013. The low interest rates that the Federal Reserve has imposed to boost the economy have been punishing for many, notably savers, who can barely earn 1 percent interest on their bank accounts and certificates of deposit. The one perk for consumers from the Fed’s interest rate policy is the ability to get cheap home and auto loans. If you haven’t refinanced your mortgage in the past 24 months or so, you are missing out.

Fortunately, many American homeowners have gotten the message. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage holders engaged in $1.3 trillion worth of refinancing in 2012. In fact, more than four out of five new mortgages in 2012 were refinanced loans, not home purchases.

I wish there were a way to know how many of those borrowers chose to skip that first payment.

‘Can I get that in writing?’ ‘No’
My loan officer was lazy, I believe, and — knowing that my loan had closed and all the commissions were guaranteed — just wanted me off the phone as soon as possible. My call was unusual. I am always overly cautious when I set up any kind of new loan payment, as the chances for error are great: a wrong loan number on a check, a bad address, etc. So I always make the first payment early to make sure nothing goes wrong. That good habit proved profitable this time.

When I signed my loan papers, there were no payment instructions in my closing documents (not terribly unusual). My loan officer said I would receive payment coupons later. But when 10 days passed, and I heard nothing, I called. She sent me to the bank’s customer service line, where I was informed that there was no record of my loan. (Did that mean I didn’t have to pay it back? Sadly, No.) Customer service transferred me back to my loan officer. She assured me that their computers would catch up to my urge to pay the loan, and I’d get payment information soon. Incredulous that they seemed not to want my money, I persisted. She tapped a few keys on her keyboard, made me wait a minute, then told me that my loan had funded on Dec. 5, so I didn’t have to make a payment until Feb. 1.

“But my documents say repayment begins Jan. 1,” I said. “So you’re saying there will be no late fees if I don’t pay Jan. 1?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Can I get that in writing.?”

“No. I can’t do that.”

At that point, I did what any mature consumer would do: I laughed. And then I muttered something about the 100 pieces of paper they just made me sign, with innocuous documents putting the finest point on everything you can imagine, like the form I initialed in multiple places agreeing that, yes, I am known by Bob, Robert, Bobby, Robby and various other nicknames. Yet I couldn’t get the bank to put something in writing saying when I should make my loan payment?

My loan officer didn’t laugh, but eventually she put me on the phone with a supervisor who sounded very grave. She’d done additional research, she said, and found out that the reason customer service couldn’t find my loan was because it had already been sold to another bank. We called that bank together and found out my loan actually funded on Nov. 30, so my first payment was indeed due on Jan. 1. And I would have been liable for about an $80 late fee if I had listened to my loan officer. The manager profusely apologized.

Steep penalty anyway
But I’m not writing to warn you about late fees. There’s a much bigger culprit here you have to worry about. Had I followed my loan officer’s advice and skipped a payment, even if the bank waived the late fee (which the manager said was likely), I would have paid a steep penalty anyway. You’ve probably guessed the punch line: there’s no such thing as skipping a payment. In reality, homeowners are borrowing that money and extending the loan term for an extra month. The payment will be tacked onto the end of the loan, with interest. How much? If it’s a conventional loan, that’s 30 years’ worth of interest. Effectively, you are borrowing one month’s payment for 30 years. Ouch!

“Skipping is a misnomer. A better description would be ‘deferring with additional interest added,'” said Jack Guttentag, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania who also runs a consumer education website called

Just how much extra interest can skipping that first payment cost you? There are too many variables to create a decent rule of thumb. But here’s an illustration from Guttentag’s site with deliberately round numbers. Skip the first payment of $500 on a $100,000 loan at 6 percent, and you will pay an additional $2,993 in interest during the 30 years.

Forget the $75 late fee. That’s real money. As Guttentag puts it, “a payment that is miniscule to one is a fortune to another.”

Some loan officers say they only won’t offer the “skip-a-payment” option unless the refinance closes toward the end of the month, when the homeowner might have trouble coming up with the extra cash for closing costs and a fresh mortgage payment close together. Others say they offer it all the time.

To be clear: Most borrowers don’t actually complete their 30-year loans before moving or refinancing, so few would end up paying that high a penalty. Also, it’s important to note that my bank didn’t even hold the loan, so they weren’t profiting from the “skip-a-payment” advice. I believe this is usually a lazy mistake, not a greedy one. Still, the basic truth holds. Don’t be tempted to skip a payment when you refinance unless you really, really need the cash for some unusual expense (Christmas credit card bills are probably not the best reason.)

Skipped payments are not to be confused with other loan closing related interest payments, including:

*Your last payment on the old loan. You can’t skip that, either. If your loan closes near the end of the month, you should still make the scheduled payment to your old bank. Why? Interest is actually paid in arrears, meaning you pay at the end of the month the cost of borrowing the money for that month. It’s confusing, because mortgage payments are really two payments at once — last month’s interest and next month’s principal. To keep it simple, if your loan closes on the Nov. 30, you will be paying November’s interest with your Dec. 1 payment, along with December’s principal. You won’t need to make the December principal payment if you refinance on Nov. 30, but most folks pay far more in interest than principal because they are early in their loan’s term, so the overpayment won’t be large. Just pay it to avoid late fees, and enjoy any refund that comes your way.

*Pre-paid interest. When your loan closes in the middle of the month, your new bank will make you pay up-front (as opposed to in arrears) daily interest for the remaining days of the month. If you close on the 20th, you’ll pay 10 more days of interest payments. That’s OK, it means you won’t owe the money on the back end of the loan.

*Money for nothing: The three-day (or more) overlap. There’s an odd quirk in most refinancing deals in which there are several days when the homeowner will be paying interest on the same loan to both banks. In most states, consumers have a three-day “right of rescission” after signing their refinancing papers, meaning they can cancel the new loan if they get buyer’s remorse. Such regret laws are very consumer-friendly and are necessary because of nefarious loan officers who tricked consumers into bad deals in the past. But, in this case, the consumer-friendly law is also costly, as it means both banks have liability for the loan during that rescission period, and are both entitled to collect interest. Note: The regret period is usually three business days, so if your closing stretches over a weekend, the double-interest period can be even more costly.

It’s important to keep all these quirky, refinance-related interest payments straight when talking to your loan officer, so you’ll know what to do when he or she suggests you can skip a payment. None of this should scare you away from refinancing, which is really the only way you can make the recession work for you.

But remember, you are refinancing to save money, and you probably shopped around trying to save $50 here or $100 there on closing costs; don’t lose thousands of dollars because of one false move after closing.


The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Calgary Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.