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Edmonton Market Report

Mon, 04 Jan by Quintal Realty

Edmonton, December 2, 2015: Edmonton’s housing market saw strong sales numbers in November. November’s all residential reported sales were down only 2.9% year-over-year (YoY), a notable improvement compared to October 2015 numbers which saw a 15% drop compared to October 2014. The average residential sales price in November for the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) dipped slightly by 3.1% YoY, however average year-to-date prices in November 2015 remain strong year-to-date (YTD) and are up 1.5% compared to November 2014 YTD.

“The warm fall weather we saw in November, coupled with healthy inventory numbers, were key factors in keeping buyers active in the market,” explains Geneva Tetreault, Chair of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. “During a time of year where we generally see the market slow down, consumers demonstrated confidence in the Edmonton and Area market.”

Average days on market for single family homes stayed virtually stagnant at 56 days, the same as October and up only one day (55) from November 2014. Condominiums averaged 62 days on market while duplex/rowhouses took an average of 57 days to sell, an increase YoY of 7 and 10 days respectively.

A single family home in the Edmonton CMA sold for an average of $432,862; down 1.4% from October and down 2.62% YoY. Duplex/rowhouses also dropped to an average of $339,454 – down 5.5% from the previous month and down 3.5% from November 2014. However, the average price for condominiums ($253,618) was up 3.8% over last month. All residential properties average price sat at $369,559, down a modest 0.59% from October.

All residential active inventory remains strong with 6,043 residential properties available in the Edmonton CMA at the end of November, down from October by 9% but still up over last November by 55%.

“While we continue to see strong inventory numbers, there are noticeably fewer listings coming onto the market in the fall, compared to our peak in the spring when we had more than 7,300 residential properties available,” said Tetreault. “We expect to see the average price to continue to adjust itself due to the slower winter sales season and higher inventory levels, as we approach 2016.

Should I go it Alone or Use A Realtor??

Thu, 12 Nov by Quintal Realty

Go it alone, or use a REALTOR®?

The fact is, most people who try to sell their own home end up using a REALTOR® in the end anyway. Before anybody decides to fly solo through this complex, time consuming and financially perilous process, they should consider these questions.

Will you really “save” the real estate commission?

When buyers see a home for sale ‘by the owner,’ they see a bargain. They imagine the REALTORS® fee going into their pocket, not yours.

Are you familiar with real estate law?

Complicated and ever changing, real estate law governs nearly every phase of selling your home. One misstep and an entire deal can fall through, or worse, a lawsuit can come your way.

How many potential buyers will you reach?

Selling a home takes more than just hanging a “For Sale” sign. How will you promote your home? Will you write your own ads? How will you use the Internet, knowing that you’ll have no access to REALTOR.ca or the Multiple Listing Service®?

Do you have the time?

Promoting a home is a full time job and you may already have one. Will you be able to take calls at any time? How about screening the callers to figure out if they’re qualified to buy your home? Not everybody who calls is even suitable to walk through your home, but how do you tell?

Do you know the market well enough to get the most for your home?

Lacking years of experience, the average do-it-yourselfe is merely guessing at their listing price. Often they set the price too low and miss out on thousands of dollars, or they price their home too high and drive away willing buyers.

What about your selling skills?

If the personalities of prospective buyers rub you the wrong way, can you still deal with them effectively? What about your own defensiveness when you hear negative comments about your home? Best to keep it at arms length through a REALTOR®.

Do you have the negotiation skills to keep a deal on track?

When an offer comes in, emotions can run high with so much money on the line. This is why direct seller-to-buyer deals often end in disaster. REALTORS® keep it professional and are indispensable when it comes to bargaining with buyers.

So what is the best choice for you?
Although realty fees may seem high, at the end of the day using a Realtor may actually save you money.

Realtors Association Urges Increase to Home Buyers Plan.

Tue, 29 Sep by Quintal Realty

REALTORS® Association of Edmonton Seeks Increase in HBP

Edmonton, September 15, 2015: The REALTORS® Association of Edmonton is urging all federal candidates to support an increase to the maximum borrowing amount available to consumers through the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). Some parties’ failure to support expansion of this program indicates that they do not recognize the fundamental role of real estate transactions in the health of the economy. An expanded HBP can make a real difference to the economy during this difficult time, especially in Alberta.

Due to inflation, the $25,000 permissible borrowing amount available to first-time homebuyers from a Registered Retired Savings Plan is losing its purchasing power. The plan hasn’t seen an increase to the maximum borrowing amount since 2009. The REALTORS® Association of Edmonton strongly believes that the HBP must keep pace with economic inflation in order to keep homeownership affordable for Albertans.

“Current economic uncertainty is dissuading some people from entering the market. An increase to the borrowing amounts available through the HBP will make home ownership a reality for many who might not otherwise enter the market,” said Michael Thompson, President and CEO of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.

“Improvements to the program could not come at a better time. An expanded Home Buyers’ Plan will have a direct positive impact on Alberta’s economy. The average home transaction in the prairies pumps an additional $44,400 of spending into the local market through consumer spending on furniture, renovations, and moving costs,” Thompson added.

According to research conducted by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), spin-off spending from homeowners using the HBP for their down payment will reach $2.9 billion in 2015, and will generate 22,000 jobs nationally.

Edmonton And Area Homes Average Prices Still Up.

Sat, 25 Apr by Quintal Realty

Edmonton, April 2, 2015: Despite a decline in all residential sales over those reported in March of 2014, last month saw continued growth of residential prices for the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area CMA of 3%. The average sales price of a single family home was $438,880 – up 1.5% y/y; condo was $249,841 – up 1.2% y/y; and duplex/rowhouse was $354,022 – up 6.9% y/y.

Sales are down in all categories except duplex/rowhouse which are up over 6%. Single family sales were 876 down 4.5% over last March (917 reported). 416 condos sold last month compared to 474 in March 2014. All residential sales for March were reported as 1,453, down 6.5% from 1,554 reported last year.

“The fact that our prices did not have the dramatic increases seen over the past few years in other cities like Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver means we have not experienced the same overvaluation.” REALTORS® Association of Edmonton President Geneva Tetreault explains, “That is why our prices are not taking the same hit even though our inventory is up and sales are slightly down. A more accurate valuation should keep our average prices more stable.”

March 2014 had 14 million-dollar plus sales (30 YTD), March 2015 had 8 million dollar plus sales (19 YTD). “Last year we saw a dramatic increase in sales of homes priced over a million. Even though the number of those high price sales are down this year, our average price is up. That is a good sign that we are not seeing our average prices inflated,” says Tetreault. “The big story continues to be the increase in inventory. We ended 2014 with a fairly low inventory. The influx of new listings means that buyers now have the opportunity to be a little more choosey. Having a REALTOR® help you navigate the market is always a wise decision, particularly in a complex market like ours.” Residential listings are up over 31% from last March with 3,152 new listings coming on to the MLS® System in the Edmonton CMA. That left us with an ample inventory of 5,944 properties for sale.

Rural areas seem to be seeing the same trends with total rural sales down 8% from 156 reported in March 2014 to 143 reported this year. Rural listings are also up, but only by 12%, a much smaller margin than the Edmonton CMA. Over 699 million dollars in residential sales through the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton occurred in March 2015

What does all of this mean? It means that although the number of home sales in most categories are down slightly,  the overvaluation that occurred over the last several years in other parts of the country did not occur here to the same degree.  This is actually good news as home buyers can still purchase in confidence with the knowledge that a market value decline, if it did occur, would be smaller here versus cities like Calgary.

The numbers to date seem to indicate that unless something more catastrophic than what has already happened with Albertas economy, home prices in Edmonton and surrounding areas should remain fairly stable leading to more buyer confidence.


Alberta In Big Trouble Due To Oil Prices? Not Likely!

Wed, 18 Mar by Quintal Realty

Lately there has been a lot of talk about how Alberta might be in trouble due to low oil prices. The Western Investor wrote an article that sheds a little more light on the situation.
This is taken directly from the article.

There is a lot of media and pundit buzz about Alberta being in dire straits due to the drop in oil prices. But, in 2009 oil prices fell to US $50 a barrel and we heard the same forecasts then. And look at Alberta now.
Every province should have these problems.

Alberta generated half of the jobs in Canada last year, has near full employment and the highest incomes in the country.

The province has forecast a surplus of nearly $1 billion in 2014-15, while direct oil royalties account for only 18 per cent of Alberta’s revenues, according to the provincial government.

If Alberta was it’s own country, it would rank No.3 in the world when it comes to the Human Development Index, a United Nations global measure of income, education, and life expectancy, according to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

With just 4.1 million residents, Alberta has a gross domestic product of $84,390 er capita, third highest in the world, based on rankings from the International Monetary Fund.

The Province has the second lowest unemployment rate in Canada and the highest wages at more than $1,100 per week.

As well as the third largest petroleum reserves on the planet, Alberta has one of the world’s most productive agricultural sectors, with more than 50 million acres under crops and livestock.

Average annual investment per capita is $27,617 in Alberta, more than double the Canadian average and indicative of the provinces startup, heads-up, non-stop attitude.

And Alberta’s economy has legs like a quarter horse.
Today, only 2 percent of Alberta’s proven oil reserves are being mined and it will continue to produce oil for an energy hungry world for decades, perhaps centuries, to come.

A recent study from the Canadian Energy Research Institute forecasts Alberta oilsands production will reach 3.7 million barrels a day by 2020 and 5.2 in 2023.

Yet Alberta is much more than oil.
This is a diversified economy where finance, real estate and construction generate as much as the oil and gas industry.

In industrial Real Estate, as just one measure, Calgary and Edmonton make up one-third of all new construction in the country.

Alberta brims with opportunities, and it’s big hearted, low tax welcome ensures it will remain a destination of choice for investors and entrepreneurs from Canada and around the world.
This article was written by Frank O’Brien/Editor Western Investor.

Finally, an article that tells it like it is.

So is the sky falling?….you be the judge. We have seen this before and we will surely see it again.
The attitude of whether we run and hide, or we forge ahead and work a little harder, plays a big part
in our recovery.
Albertan’s have shown the world time and again that our determination and ingenuity is this provinces largest export… not oil.

Author Kevin Quintal.

Selling your House? 10 Low Cost Tips That Really Help….And Other Things.

Sun, 01 Feb by Quintal Realty

Selling Your Home? 10 Low Cost Tips That Really Help….And Other Things

Getting ready to sell your home? These 10 easy projects will maximize your selling price and will help sell your home faster. All sellers have a common goal…to sell their home quickly and at the highest possible price.   Now, most people will say this is the sole job of the Realtor. Although this is true, keep in mind the Realtor is not a miracle worker. The sale is really a team effort between you and the Realtor. The Realtor requires your participation so that the property can be presented in the best possible manner.
When a Realtor lists a property, they quite often encounter varying shades of two types of sellers. One seller feels that they should renovate the whole house to make it presentable, and the other type feels that they really do not have to do anything. Both would be wrong.
Regarding renovating. It is impossible to know each buyers particular taste etc. The renovations you do may turn out to work against you rather than for you. The money you put into that new renovation may not give you back what you spent. This is not to say that some “strategic” renovations are not required. Certain renovations can pay for themselves several times over. Talk to your Realtor and have her or him candidly advise you what they feel should be considered.                                                                                                                                                                                       Regarding doing nothing. Pride of ownership most definitely shows in a home. An “unkept” house usually indicates that normal maintenance has been ignored as well. Some homes require very little work, and some…..well let’s just say require a little more attention.
To really understand the importance of the following tips, consider this in terms of buying a used car.    You are viewing two cars, both identical year, model, options and price. One car is a neutral color, the owner has had the interior professionally cleaned, the outside washed, waxed and paint touch ups done, the trunk and engine compartments have been cleaned and the owner has removed all of their personal items. The other owner has done nothing but given the outside of his car a quick wash, the interior a quick vacuum, but has left the naked girl air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror, the empty MacDonalds happy meal bags on the back seat, the 3 empty windshield washer jugs in the trunk along with the bumper sticker “don’t laugh its paid for” on. Quick, which car are you buying?? This is exactly how people will be comparing your house to the one down the street!!!
Here are your tips:
1) Paint!
Dollar for dollar, a fresh coat of paint is one of your best investments. Even if you have repainted in the last couple years, applying another coat will cover up those small scuffs and wear marks. Watch what color you use though. Any color other than a neutral one could actually defeat the purpose. Everyone has an idea of what color walls they want in their home, and the color you choose could very well be the one a potential buyer hates. Some sellers say things like, “I like my hot pink bedroom color, if the buyer wants, they can change the color if they don’t like it”. Although this is true, if you were the buyer would you want to? Or would you just pick the house down the street that does not have the hot pink walls? Remember, the buyer has all the power of their choice, you will want to minimize their reasons “not” to choose your home.

2) Lighting.
It is very important that your home look bright and cheery. Replace any burnt out bulbs, especially in track lighting. If a bathroom has a strip of bulbs above the mirror, make sure that all the bulbs match in look and in wattage. Nothing looks worse than a bathroom with half the bulbs burnt out or unevenly lit. If the light fixtures in your home are dated such as 70’s fake antique bronze or 80’s bright brass, you might want to change them out for new ones. You can find relatively cheap fixtures at stores such as Home Depot, Home Hardware, etc. When you have a showing, turn on “all” the lights in the house. Do not leave this to the Realtor to do. The house needs to be bright and cheery when the Realtor enters with the potential buyers. The Realtor will be busy talking with the buyers and should not have the distraction of finding light switches etc. If you like, the realtor will turn them all off when they leave.

3) Mirrors.
Strategically placed mirrors can make a small room appear brighter and larger. There are many attractive wall mirrors in varying sizes for relatively low cost. You don’t have to go crazy and buy a mirror for every room but problem areas such as a small entryway can be made to feel more airy with one.

4) Clean!!!
Lets face it, we have enough trouble dealing with our own dirt than someone elses. More than any other reason, I have had clients walk out of a perfectly good house because the seller felt that a clean home was not real important. Remember the clean car, dirty car example? Cleaning is one of the simplest, most effective sales tools there is. Just before putting your house on the market, gather the family together and have a good old cleaning bee. Break out the mops, brooms, floor cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, windex, and C.L.R.
Scrub your floors, shampoo your carpets, wash the walls, clean your windows in and out, clean your mirrors, wipe the dust and cob webs off the ceiling fans, clean your switch plates (be careful you don’t electrocute yourself), wash your doors in and out, make your appliances gleam……are you getting the picture? Other than the obvious, if the cleanliness of a sellers home is neglected, so is the maintenance.

5) De-Clutter.
Think about it, the reason you have listed your house is because you want to move, right? Well then, start packing! Pack everything that is not essential for normal everyday living and get it out of the house. If it is summer, pack your winter clothes, vice versa if it is winter. This will make your closets appear bigger. Take down the family pictures. A “home” is a very personal thing. The buyer needs to be able to picture themselves living there. It is very hard doing this when the children, grampa, grandma and you, are staring at them from the walls. Replace the pictures with some inexpensive paintings (landscapes not nudes!). If you are a hunter, get the animal heads off the walls!! Your potential buyer could be a member of PETA for all you know. Unless you have a dedicated exercise room, get your exercise equipment out of the house. You want to make your rooms look large, a treadmill in your bedroom is a huge no, no! I will say it again…you are moving, start packing.

6) Bathrooms.
Behind kitchens, bathrooms are the second most important room in the house. A bathroom renovation would be an investment that would pay for itself. Most bathrooms do not require a renovation though. A fresh coat of paint and an extreme scrubbing of tile, shower doors, toilet, sinks, mirrors etc. will usually be enough. Make it Gleam! If you have shower curtains, buy a new one. Buy new bath mats. De-clutter under the sink and medicine cabinet (yes, buyers look there). If your sink has had any leaks in the past, make sure to paint or repair the damaged wood underneath.

7) Window Treatments.
If your drapes are old and rotted by the sun or if you have blinds that have been bent by the kids or animals, replace them. If you do not want to replace them, then just remove them. You want the potential buyers eye to be drawn to the good things about your house, not the bad things such as ratty blinds or drapes hanging in the window. Unless the view is terrible, make sure that all blinds and drapes are open during showings. Remember, you want the house bright and cheery.

8) Basement.
Make sure your basement receives as much attention as the main floor. At times people will tend to give the basement a light going over thinking “it is just the basement”. I once had a client that while viewing the main floor said “wow, I think this could be the one”, then said “nope” after viewing the basement. It wasn’t so much that the basement was terrible, it was because the sellers did not give it the same attention of cleaning, painting, repairing etc. that they gave the main floor. Traditionally, basements tend to be darker and lower on the priority list than the upper floors. Make sure to do as much cleaning painting etc. as the main floor. Replace any broken baseboards, door trim, and ceiling tiles. One room that seldom gets any attention is the furnace room. Make sure to replace the furnace filter if required, vacuum and wipe down the floor, furnace, hot water heater etc. Make sure the light bulb works. The buyer is always concerned about the mechanics of the house as well as the look.

9) Outdoors.
The outside of your house and yard are the first things that a potential buyer sees when they come to your home. What will their first impression be? Is the house siding dirty?, are the windows dirty?, is the grass cut?, are the hedges overgrown and messy?, is there dog poop all over?….etc, etc. The saying is true…you only have one chance to make a first impression. The potential buyer should be saying “wow nice place” when they pull into your driveway, not “wow, there is lots of work to be done”.

10) Pets.
First and foremost, not everyone loves your pets as much as you do. It is extremely important that there be no sign of your pets when a potential buyer is viewing your home. You do not want your potential buyer having to dodge dog droppings in the yard or the smell of a litter box in the house. Remove their food dishes, litter boxes, droppings etc. from the house and yard when you have a viewing. Also, the pets should not be present when you have a showing, take Rover with you when you leave. Because you do not know if the potential buyer is a pet lover or not, why take the chance. I have had showings where the buyer would not get out of the vehicle because the “friendly” dog was barking and snarling in the yard. Even if they are in a pen or tied up, a barking dog is a major distraction to a viewing.

In summary, to get a quick sale and maximize the selling price of your home, you need to change it from being your “family home”, to a “show home” that you are marketing to potential buyers. Nowadays, the television is filled with home buying/selling and renovation shows. The buying public has become very educated in what they should be looking for when buying a property. When selling your home you need to take off the “homeowner rose colored glasses” and put on the “home buyers glasses”. Because the buyer has all the power of choice, you will need to make your home as presentable as it can be. This is done by removing anything that could be a potential “turn off”. Even an older, dated home can be made desirable by being extremely clean, tidy and in good repair.

Regarding your Realtor. You have hired a Realtor for a reason, to give you advice and to sell your home. If you are ignoring the Realtors advice of things you need to do to make your house marketable, including pricing, why did you hire him or her? If you have hired a Realtor for nothing more than putting an advertisement in the paper, then you are not seeing the whole picture. Your Realtor deals in the business of buying and selling homes every day. They know the market, what your house is worth, and what makes a house sell. Why would you ignore their professional advice and think that you know better? Is your Realtor correct all of the time, no. But they know their business.

Regarding choosing a Realtor. A good Realtor will tell you the truth about your property. If the Realtor is agreeing with everything you say you might have the wrong person. A Realtors job is to tell you the things you need to know, good “or” bad.
Quite often the biggest challenge is pricing your home. Everyone has an idea of what their home is worth, innocently, this is usually an inflated figure. Everyone’s property is usually worth more to them than someone else. If your Realtor is doing his/her job, they will be presenting you with figures of the actual selling price that homes in your area have recently sold for. From these figures, you and the Realtor will be able to come up with a reasonable asking price for your property.
For your own sake, do not fall into the trap of going with a certain Realtor just because he or she agreed with the price “you” think your home is worth. You see these homes all the time, they are usually the ones that sit on the market forever. The Realtor, and subsequent Realtors, (because the homeowner thinks the first Realtor did not do their job) will agree to the sellers inflated asking price just to get the business. The house will sit on the market until the homeowner finally agrees to lower the price to where it should have been in the first place or, quite often, even lower. A house that has been on the market a long time becomes stigmatized. People start to think that something must be wrong with it, otherwise why would it not sell? A “stigmatized” home statistically sells for less than what it would have if it had been priced correctly from the beginning.

Ultimately, when interviewing Realtors, you will want to choose the one that presents facts, critiques your home, and will challenge some of your thoughts. This Realtor is doing their job correctly.

If you and your Realtor work as a team, you are going to be very happy with the results…..get packing!

Copyright Kevin Quintal February 1, 2015

Title Insurance. What is it and how does it help me?

Wed, 17 Dec by Quintal Realty

Within the last 10 years, a new insurance product has arrived in Alberta. It is commonly referred to as title insurance.

What is title insurance? This product was never available before so what has changed? What does title insurance provide that cannot more adequately be provided by a Real Property Report (RPR)?

Title insurance has been a popular product throughout the United States for many years. In fact, Chicago Title traces its history back before the famous Chicago fire caused by the cow. The three major title insurance companies providing insurance in Alberta all have a parent company in the USA. These companies first started Canadian operations in Ontario.

Both the USA and eastern Canada operate a different Land Titles registration and transfer system then we have here in Alberta. We are fortunate in Alberta to have a government-guaranteed Land Titles system commonly referred to as the TORRENS system. Throughout the rest of North America, when you get a Title, you can never be completely sure that it discloses everything. For example, there could be an unregistered mortgage or unregistered transfer that may impair your title. In Alberta, “what you see is what you get” and the government guarantees this.

Previously, title insurance primarily covered the issues covered by the Torrens system. Eventually, companies became innovative and expanded their coverage, so their insurance had applicability here in Alberta. Over the years they have continually added new items to their coverage. Now, their product offers substantial benefits at a very reasonable one-time cost.
Some of the issues title insurance covers is as follows.

It covers the gap between submission and registration. A couple of years ago when registration was taking 5 weeks or more, you could never be sure when you submitted your documents as to other registrations in the stream that may affect your title. For example, I acted for one purchaser where the sellers ex-spouse filed a Matrimonial Property Judgment against the title one week before we submitted our Transfer of Land. When we submitted, the Judgment was not there. By the time we got registration, the Judgment was registered. Title insurance will step in to deal with this.

It will cover deficiencies that would not show on a Real Property Report such as unregistered utility easements or builders liens or matters that would be shown by non-Land Titles searches such as deficient corporate status. It will cover hidden deficiencies such as underground storage tanks or underground septic tanks. In one case, they paid out a claim to move a septic tank when it turned out the tank was buried partly under the neighbors land. Coverage is also provided for unknown special assessments on condominiums.

Title insurance covers issues that would have been shown on a Real Property Report if one had been obtained. Use of this product can avoid the need to obtain a Real Property Report. It also covers internal non-compliance issues that would never be shown on a Real Property Report such as lack of building permits or failure to meet building code on renovations such as a basement development.

Even where there are known defects, title insurance will often underwrite these issues. This could include a fence in the wrong location or a deck that is too big for the property.

Most of this coverage continues after the closing date. Perhaps the most important coverage that continues after the closing date and during the entire time the property is owned is against forgery, fraud, duress, incompetency, incapacity, or impersonation.

Title insurance is an insurance product. As such, it does not fix a problem. It provides insurance or indemnity coverage. In other words, the title insurer has no obligation to do anything until a problem actually arises. When this happens, they have the choice to pay damages rather than actually fix the problem. Problems can be deferred or masked instead of fixed.

Deferring or masking problems can come back to haunt all parties at a later date. For example, when a seller, who accepted title insurance when they bought, sells and the buyer does not accept title insurance they may be forced to solve the problem. Obtaining Encroachment Agreements, especially where fences or other structures encroach onto municipal land can be quite costly. Likewise, applying for and obtaining development and building permits can be time consuming and expensive. If a buyer insists on this solution, the seller may be forced to undertake an expensive remedy and may look to the realtor and lawyer who helped them originally purchase the property for some redress. Accordingly, it is doubly important to ensure a purchaser understands the extent and impact of title insurance coverage and the fact that it does not apply when they sell the property. By simply insisting that any new buyer obtain title insurance rather than relying on an RPR, they will continue to defer any issues.

Overall, in my view, title insurance is a valuable addition to the real estate marketplace in Alberta. The coverage for future fraud for the entire ownership of the property by payment of a one-time premium is enough justification to purchase title insurance on every real estate purchase. In some cases, title insurance is the only way to effectively close a real estate deal.

About the author: Stan Galbraith is a lawyer with over 25 years of experience. He was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1983 and has operated his own law office since 1988. Stan has a wealth of experience ranging from litigation and appeal work, to teaching and writing. He has now left the world of litigation behind and works with commercial and residential Realtors and their clients on closing their transactions. He also practices extensively in the areas of small business and wills and estate planning and administration.

Read more: Title Insurance – What is it and how does it help me? | The Edmonton Real Estate Blog

Should I buy a home in the winter?

Sat, 15 Nov by Quintal Realty

Spring and summer are the high season for home sales, but winter can be a buyer’s market. If you don’t mind a smaller pool of homes for sale, or moving around the holidays, winter might be a great time for you to house shop.

Less Competition, More Leverage!
Since spring and summer are the most active real estate seasons, many home sellers wait until then to list their homes. That means there may be fewer homes for sale in the winter, but the winter sellers often have strong reasons to sell their homes soon, such as job relocation. These motivated sellers can be a boon to the home buyer.

While there may be fewer homes to choose from, the smaller selection can save you a lot of time. Do you really want to traipse through 50 houses? It may be simpler to view the smaller list of homes for sale in the winter and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Just as there are fewer homes for sale during the winter, there are also fewer buyers. This means less competition and sellers who are more willing to accommodate potential buyers. Use this knowledge to your advantage. You may be successful in offering a lower price than you normally would, (but not insultingly low), or ask for perks such as the living room furniture or the chandelier that you admire. The low number of potential buyers also means you have more time to make your decision. In the spring, you often need to choose a home and act quickly, but in winter you may be able to take a little more time.

Assessing a Home’s Winter Fitness
Viewing homes in the winter lets you see how it holds up to the weather. Did you feel cold while looking through the house? Are the windows letting in drafts?
Are there any cold rooms? Does the furnace seem to be operating properly?

Availability of Agents and Others
Another advantage of buying a home in the off-season is the greater availability of industry professionals. Real estate agents will have fewer clients and more time to focus on your home search. Lenders will be more accessible for questions and assistance. Some lenders even waive fees during the off-season to encourage borrowers to use their services. Likewise, movers tend to lower their costs during the winter months.

Gray Gardens or Winter Wonderland?
Home buyers can be turned off by the bleak look of prospective homes in winter. Bare trees and lawns covered in snow are not the most picturesque. However, you’ll be able to see how well neighbors tend driveways and sidewalks, whether the town plows or salts icy streets, and whether kids come out to play in the snow. Around the holidays, you might even see the neighborhood decorated in its winters finest.

Turn a negative into a positive. Buying in winter may not seem like the best time to buy, but it is the time when you will be most successful in negotiating a lower price.

Remember, successful people are the ones that do what everyone else is not. Buying when everyone else is not buying can get you the house that you want at the price you want.

Now put on a warm coat and get out there!

The Basics of Presenting an Offer on a House

Tue, 30 Sep by Quintal Realty

The Basics Of Making an Offer on a House
Buying a home is a little bit like getting married, first comes love then comes the legal contract.
And like marriage, the way you structure your proposal will have an effect on the outcome.

Typically, the “cleaner” the offer, the more chance there is that the seller will entertain accepting the offer. A “clean” offer simply is an offer with the least “subject to’s”, reasonable money offered, and a reasonable deposit.
A “subject to” is a way of saying to the seller that you will buy their property but you reserve the right to back out of the offer if, for example, you fail to get financing. The most common subject to’s are financing, a property inspection, or selling your current home. But “subject to’s” can be other things as well, such as ” my Father viewing and approving the property by August…”, or, ” the city bylaws allowing a garage to be built”, etc.

Most buyers believe that it is just the amount of money you are offering that influences the sellers decision to accept. Although the amount of money offered plays a large part, it is the “package” of your offer than can make the difference of whether the seller will accept or deny your offer.

The seller, guided by their realtor, will view your offer and categorize difference aspects of it, such as, the amount of money offered, the amount of the deposit accompanying the offer, how many “subject to’s” are there. All of these things will play a part in your negotiations.

All things being equal, the seller will usually go with the offer they view as being the most reasonable and has the most chance of ending in the sale of their property.
This is to say that unless there is an underlying reason for the seller to accept a less than “ideal” offer, such as needing the money from the sale, the seller will usually “counter” your offer with different terms or outright refuse it.

In some cases a buyer will attempt to give a “low ball” offer to a seller in an attempt to see if they will “bite”. Although this is a legitimate thing to do in the case where the buyer truly believes that the price that the seller is asking is either inflated, or the property needs a lot of work such as a foreclosure property etc., it is generally not a good thing to do.

Presenting an offer that is unreasonable does several things. First, it immediately angers or insults the seller, second, the seller will usually outright refuse the offer, third, if the seller does not refuse the offer and chooses to counter the offer, the counter offer will usually be as unreasonable as the offer that was presented to them. Remember the marriage proposal? Do not tell your girlfriend that the meal she prepared for you is terrible just before you ask her to marry you!

There are many other factors that go into a successful offer to purchase and just one single factor can make all the difference. For example, pretend you are the seller and you receive two offers on your property, your Realtor will council you on what to do in this situation, but let’s say the offers are identical, same amount offered, same “subject to’s” , etc. and the only difference in the two offers is that one party gave a $10,000 deposit and the other $5,000. Which offer would you choose? Of course, you would most likely accept the one with the largest deposit because they appear to be more serious about buying your property.

As you can see, the amount of money you offer is not the only factor that will influence a seller to accept your offer. Like a marriage proposal, it is sometimes “how you say it”, and the “sincerity of your proposal” that can make the difference whether you are single or homeless!

What Contingencies Should I Have On My Home Purchase Offer?

Tue, 02 Sep by Quintal Realty

What Does Contingent Offer Mean? You’re looking for homes and find one that really piques your interest, except it has a “contingent offer” status. As you keep browsing, you notice a lot of properties do. What’s a contingent offer? Should your offer have one?

A contingent offer is pretty standard. It means an offer on a home has been made and the seller has accepted it, but the finalized sale is contingent upon certain criteria that have to be met. These criteria, or contingencies, typically fall under three major categories: appraisal, home inspection and mortgage approval.

These contingencies are mainly put in place for the buyer to back out of a sale if something goes wrong, usually without losing their deposit. A seller might entertain other offers, but won’t deal with another buyer until the contingent offer is finished in one way or another.

Home Inspection Contingency

A home inspection contingency could well be the most important one. It gives the buyer the right to have the home professionally inspected. If something is wrong, the buyer can request it be fixed or they can back out of the sale. It’s rarely advisable to waive an inspection contingency.

“Never in my life have I seen a home inspection waived,” said Bishoi Nageh, vice president of branch operations for The Petra Cephas Team at Mortgage Network Solutions.

If something is wrong with a house, a good inspection will find it. Nageh recalled an instance of a buyer who asked the seller to fix up some windows, then found mold had been growing under the framework. Once you know the problems, you can talk with the seller about what they need to fix before you buy the home.

Appraisal Contingency

With this contingency, a third party hired by the lender evaluates the fair-market value of the home. In the instance the appraised value is less than the sale price, the appraisal contingency lets you back out of the deal.

“It’s in no one’s best interest to overpay,” Nageh said. “If the home comes in under the [asking] amount, you have the right to back out.”

In hot markets, eager buyers might feel pressured to waive it, but they could end up paying more. However, the lender will only put up a certain amount of money for the appraised cost—not the asking price—and the buyer will have to cover the rest.

For example, let’s say you have a loan that covers 90% and you need to put 10% down for a home selling for $500,000. If the house is appraised at $475,000, the lender is only going to cover 90 percent of that appraised value, or $427,500. And instead of a $50,000 down payment, you would be expected to put down $72,500 to cover the difference. Waiving this contingency can be a gamble.

Mortgage Contingency

You don’t want to sign a property sale without having the money to back it up. A mortgage contingency protects the buyer and seller from getting into a sale without a proper loan. Under this contingency, the buyer has a specified time period to obtain a loan that will cover the mortgage. If the buyer can’t get a lender to commit to a loan, the buyer has the right to walk away from the sale with the down payment.

To expedite the process, “know if you qualify sooner than later,” Nageh said. That way, you won’t be wasting the seller’s time or yours during the loan-hunting period, which could take a couple of months.

Like an appraisal contingency, eager buyers and sellers in hot markets might want to waive this contingency, especially if cash is on the table. But waiving this contingency means that if your lender delays or denies your loan, you can lose the deposit, so it’s a risky venture.

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