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Edmonton’s Remand Centre Future Uncertain

May 4th, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

When it comes to notorious properties in Edmonton, the remand centre is high on the list. The downtown facility was well-known for its overcrowding and other issues, but it has now been almost completely empty since the new remand centre opened in 2013. Since that time, the building has sat, and the city has been at a loss when it comes to the building. At 12 storeys and nearly 200,000 sq. ft., the building has a lot of potential, but also a lot to overcome.

Speaking to the press, Mayor Don Iveson wants to be careful in how to approach the future of the building. “Generally, I don’t like replacing buildings if they have useful life left in them, and structurally it’s got lots of life,” he said last Friday, “But it’s really hard to imagine a good use for that building that doesn’t come with a ton of cost to repurpose and a lot of issues of trauma for people who’ve been in that building previously.”

Essentially, there are three options for the former correctional institution: demolition, conversion for residential space, or conversion for retail space. All three of these options have their own obstacles that need to be overcome.

Demolition, while seemingly the simplest solution, and certainly one of the most popular, could come with a price tag of millions of dollars. According to Iveson, demolition could carry a price tag of over seven million dollars. “I understand the demolition costs would be many, many millions of dollars,” he said, “…And I don’t have several million dollars at the city to demolish provincial assets.”

Residential conversion comes with many different challenges as well, since the building was designed to house inmates, not condo loft dwellers. Executive director of the Downtown Business Association, Jim Taylor, has said that developers don’t believe the building can be converted, citing issues like the windows and structural issues. Of course, the idea of living in a former prison doesn’t help when one is trying to sell loft apartments either.

Finally, retail, or a combination retail and residential space, is also a problem, since the space once again isn’t convertible like other buildings. If it was going to be turned into this kind of property, the hurdles would be almost as expensive as the demolition process.

As it stands, the site itself is not only valuable, but well-positioned for any number of uses, which means the building itself is the problem. And if the city wants developers to consider it, they may have to sweeten the deal. Jim Taylor believes a decent price is necessary. “I think governments have a duty and a right to fire sale a building so it can be developed,” he said, “As long as there’s an agreement with whoever gets it at a very minimal price, that it will be developed in quick succession.”

4 Signs that You Should Sell Your Old Home Before Buying a New One

April 3rd, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

When it comes to buying a new home, one of the first decisions you have to make is about the one you are currently in. Should you sell it first? Try to have the two overlap? Or should you risk it and maybe balance two homes for a few months. Here are a few situations where looking for a new home and selling your old one at the same time might not be the best decision.

1. You Already Have A Lot on Your Plate

Selling a home is stressful and time consuming. So is looking for and buying a new one. Combining those two together in the same span of time, along with work and the rest of your life, can be a very stressful move. If you already have a lot on your plate, it may not be a good idea to do both of these things at the same time. It can only get worse if the timing doesn’t work out perfectly on the possession dates, too.

2. Your Home Has to Sell for a Certain Price

Especially in Edmonton’s current market, getting the price you want can be a long and arduous process. And while it is possible to get the price you want, it will certainly take some time, something you won’t have if you’ve already bought another home. If you want to sell your home for a certain price, then you should hold off buying a new one. For every month you try to balance both homes, it will become more difficult to stay firm on your asking price.

3. Money is an Issue

If your monthly budget is already tight, then taking on the extra risk of having two homes at once could ruin you financially. So, instead, try to divide and conquer. Finding temporary housing, after all, isn’t as expensive as paying twice your regular rent, plus utilities and bills. Opting instead to have some extra money in the bank while you go searching for a new home is a much better decision than borrowing extra on an unnecessary risk.

4. You Have a Place to Stay

While it’s never an ideal circumstance, finding temporary housing or moving back into your parent’s basement may be the more prudent decision, especially if money is tight. But if you have a place you can stay for a few months while house hunting, be sure to take advantage of the situation if need be. That way, you can make better financial choices, and possession dates won’t be a ruling factor in either transaction.

Finding the perfect home can be a challenge, especially if you are already a homeowner. There are times when looking for a new home and selling the old at the same time can work out great, but there are also times when it can work against you. Be sure the decision you make is the right one for you and your family.

New Housing Rules are Now In Effect

March 23rd, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

As of yesterday, February 15, 2016, the newest housing laws by the federal government have passed, fundamentally changing how home buyers, and home sellers approach the housing market. Today, being the first business week in Alberta after the laws have come into effect, it’s a good idea to get brushed up on what’s changed, how it affects different people in the Edmonton real estate markets, and what the laws are designed to do. Here are some answers to common questions about the new law changes.

1. What are the New Laws?

The new laws are mostly about minimum down payments on homes. Before this law, the minimum down payment for a home sale was 5%. So a $750,000 home, for example, would require a minimum down payment of $37,500. But the new laws change the amount for homes that are over $500,000, changing the system into a blended scale. Anything up to $500,000 still only requires a 5% down payment, but for any price that goes above the half a million mark, that difference in price requires a 10% down payment. So, using our $750,000 home as an example, the minimum down payment under these new laws is now $50,000. Half of the down payment is 5% up to the full amount of $500,000. The other half is the 10% down payment required for the remaining $200,000. The new laws, in essence, are increasing the amount you’ll need as a down payment for homes over a half a million dollars.

2. How Does this Affect Home Buyers?

The basic consequence of this new law, at least when it comes to home buyers, is that they’ll need a little more in the bank if they’re going to be buying a home that costs more than $500,000. Of course, it’s recommended that you have more than the minimum amount anyways, by as much as you possibly can, so most home buyers will be less affected by the new laws than they may imagine.

3. How Do the New Laws Affect Home Sellers?

These laws will certainly cause some problems for people who want to sell their homes for around the $500,000 mark. Home buyers would rather go for the home that’s up to $500,000, especially if they’re on a strict budget, rather than bother with the additional down payment for anything priced above. So those sellers with homes around the half a million price tag may depreciate their homes slightly to stay competitive.

4. Why Did the Government Change the Laws?

The laws were passed to prevent people with very little equity from biting off more than they can chew, and to protect the economy from housing crises as a result of multiple foreclosures. It makes people with less equity less able to buy more expensive homes, especially in the vast majority of the housing markets in Canada. The new laws could hurt Canada’s most notorious housing markets, namely Toronto and Vancouver, but most homes will be sailing under the $500,000 price point anyways.

With the new laws in place, it will be interesting to see how they affect the home buying and selling process, especially in Edmonton.

Edmonton Events: March 2016

March 3rd, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

As spring starts to make its way through Edmonton this year, a number of different events are starting or just finishing for the year. Edmonton has a wide range of activities that are great for families, couples, groups, and individuals this March, here are just a few of the highlights.

 1. Edmonton Freezeway

If you love skating and the outdoors, the Edmonton Freezeway is for you. The 400m ice track is right next to the Victoria Skating Oval. Obviously weather-dependent, it’s best to get to the Freezeway sooner rather than later, lest it becomes the Puddleway.

 2. Out of the Woods: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven

Perhaps Canada’s most celebrated groups of artists, the Group of Seven have had a lasting and tangible impact on Canadian artists and Canadian art lovers. The Art Gallery of Alberta is currently hosting a Group of Seven exhibit with a particular focus on Tom Thomson. The works move beyond the Ontario woodlands, a popular subject for the Group, and into other landscapes and seascapes, showing a diversity of talent that many people do not associate with Tom Thomson and his artistic friends. The event runs until April 17.

 3. The Glenn Miller Orchestra

The legendary Glenn Miller Orchestra has a tour date set for Edmonton on March 6, and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of the best jazz orchestras in the history of the artform. Playing jazz and swing music, this event is sure to get you dancing in the aisles of the Winspear Centre.

 4. The Edmonton Home & Garden Show

From March 17 to 20, homeowners and garden lovers will be converging at Northlands for the Home & Garden Show. Whether you’re looking for new recipes or a way to upgrade your deck, there will be vendors and people there to help you out. One of Edmonton’s most important events, it’s sure to dazzle you and leave you inspired.

 5. The Slush Cup

This is probably one of the most “Edmonton” events to ever happen on an annual basis. Taking place near the Muttart Conservatory, skiers and snowboarders will throw themselves down the river valley and try to make it across an Olympic-sized slush puddle at the bottom. The goal is to stay dry, but it rarely works out. Bring some hot chocolate and watch as brave Edmontonians say goodbye to the ski season in the wettest way possible.

 6. Dark Matters-Robots

On March 10, the Telus World of Science will close its doors to kids and turn itself into an adults only event. Featuring exclusive access to galleries, tasty food, a bar, and live DJ, this is the best time to enjoy the science centre without having to pick your way through crowds of kids. This month, the theme is robots and will feature experiments and demonstrations that are sure to amaze.

 

Reasons Why Selling a Home in February is a Great Idea

February 29th, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

Selling a home in the winter is often seen as a bad idea, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The housing market, in fact , is uniquely set up to benefit sellers during the traditionally slower months, which can mean big advantages for you if you’re selling your home near the beginning of the year. Here are three reasons why you should consider getting your home listed in February.

1. People are Out of the Post-Holiday Slump

Many markets, from real estate to retail, almost completely shut down for January. The reasoning is simple: the holidays are exhausting in many more ways than one. People’s wallets and energy reserves are depleted for the month and they’re focusing more on resolutions and getting back to normal than getting into a new home. But February is the month where things start to recover, and people emerge from their post-holiday slumber and begin to wander outside. That makes February one of the first months of the year to be on the market.

2. You’ll Have Less Competition

Just as buyers are emerging from their winter hibernation, sellers are often falling behind when it comes to listings, which is great news for those who bring something new to the market. Essentially, many people take January off, and so their home’s aren’t ready to be listed by February. The result is less listings and, if you’re selling a home, less competition. While the winter has a bad reputation when it comes to sales, it can actually work out at key times by simply being ahead of the curve.

3. Repairs Can Be Done Sooner

Traditionally, everything is a little faster to do in January in February when it comes to contract work. The reason is many people can’t afford to get the plumber in or start renovations, so contractors are usually more open for house tune-ups, as it were, in the winter months. If your home needs some repairs, renovations, or other work done before it gets listed, now’s the time. Contractors will often be available sooner and, if work is slow enough, you may even be able to negotiate a deal.

Listing your home in February comes with distinct advantages compared to other times of the year. Less listings means more competition, even in Edmonton, and that means you could sell your home faster and get more money than you expected. Just be sure to be quick about your listing and have a home that’s ready to sell. After that, your winter home listing could be one of the hottest sales on the market.

 

The Top Events Happening in Edmonton in February, 2016

February 8th, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

Edmonton is known as the festival city in the summer, but many people don’t realize how much is still going on even in the dead of winter. Here are just a few things happening in and around Edmonton this month, and why you should get out and enjoy what Alberta’s capital has to offer in the winter.

  1. Beyond Rubik’s Cube

Location: Telus World of Science

The world-famous Rubik’s Cube exhibit at the Telus World of Science closes on February 7. If you haven’t been, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about the history and the phenomenon around one of the world’s most popular puzzles. The interactive exhibit has activities for kids and adults alike.

  1. Living Building Thinking: Art and Expressionism

Location: The Art Gallery of Alberta

The AGA is hosting a look into the history of expressionism in art, tracing the movement from its origins in the 19th century all the way up to contemporary masters. Educational, beautiful, and an opportunity to see some of the world’s greatest art on display, this event is a must-see for any of Edmonton’s artistically inclined.

  1. Free Water Polo Lessons for Kids

Location: O’Leary Pool

Jump in the water, try something new, and stay active with free water polo lessons at the O’Leary Pool. The pool is currently offering free introductory lessons in the sport of water polo, one of the most widely-played water sports in the world. Fast, furious, and a great workout, your kids can learn the basics while enjoying the water with professional instruction from water polo enthusiasts who know the game.

  1. Do It Yourself: Collectivity and Collaboration in Edmonton

Location: U of A Museums Galleries at Enterprise Square

See the cutting edge of contemporary art and Edmonton’s hottest artists at the University Museums Galleries at Enterprise Square. Do It Yourself has been running since November, the show features collaborations between Edmonton artists that fully capture where the art scene is and is headed in 2016. Showing off the city’s best talents, and what can be accomplished when great minds work together, this show is an opportunity to see contemporary masters stretch their creativity.

  1. Property Owner Feedback Survey: Property Assessment

Location: Online at the Edmonton Insight Community Website

While this may not be an event in the regular sense, it is an opportunity for property owners to give feedback on the property assessment process in Edmonton. The survey takes about five minutes to complete and gives you the chance to speak up about what you love about the process, how it can change and where you’d like to see improvements. Short but invaluable to those who assess property values for the city, this is a great way to voice your opinion.

 

5 Tips for Selling a Luxury Homes

February 3rd, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

When selling homes, there are some pretty common sense things you can do, like give it a thorough cleaning and price it with some expert advice. But when it comes to luxury home sales, sometimes you have to do things a little different to get your home listing to the right people. Here are a few tips that are specifically for luxury homes that can help you sell your home faster, and at a price you want.

 1. Invest in High Quality Picture and Video

More and more people are looking online for homes, especially luxury homes, before they’ll even set foot in the house proper. With so many parts of the buying process happening online, it means that the best way to get people to come to your home is to have the best pictures and videos available. Be sure to invest in high resolution photos and take the pictures during the best time of day for your home’s lighting. The same is true for video: it pays to have high quality, properly made, and good looking videos for people to look at for virtual tours. In both instances, it can also pay to have a professional come in and do the photos and video. It’s a high-end purchase, after all, so getting a high end media package is essential.

 2. Consider the Time of Year

Oftentimes, sitting on a luxury home for too long can end up costing you far too much money, so timing is absolutely essential. If you can, be sure to show your home at the perfect selling season for your property. It can depend on where you live and what your house has for features. If it’s in the country, for example, you may have a hard time getting potential buyers out on the snowy roads. If your home looks best with fresh snowfall, summer onlookers may miss out on its best look.

 3. Consider Lifestyle

Similar to showing your home at the best time, you have to think about what sort of lifestyle your home is best conveying. Is it a large acreage with plenty of space for horses and other pets? Is it a high-end luxury condo that’s perfect for elite professionals? A luxury home is more than selling what kind of home it is, it’s also how you live in it, and that’s an important consideration when you think about marketing it to prospective buyers.

 Edmonton luxury homes are about more than high prices, they sell a certain kind of home to a particular kind of client. If you’re selling a high-end home, then you need to sell it a little differently. With these tips, you may be able to sell your Edmonton luxury home a little faster and for a price that you’ll love.

 

Things to Do Before Moving into Your New Home

January 2nd, 2016 by gurpreetghatehora

So all the paperwork has been signed. The deal is done and your possession date is set. You’ve bought your first or next home and, while you’re packing up all your belongings, you should be thinking about what’s on the horizon for your new home. But before you start filling it with boxes, there are a few things to do at your new home before it gets crowded with things. Here a re just a few necessary steps you’ll need to do before moving into your new home.

1. Change the Exterior Locks

The people you bought the home from may seem trustworthy enough, but changing the locks is a standard procedure these days. You don’t know who may also have old keys to your new locks, so it’s best to have every single one changed before you start moving in your precious belongings. Yes, getting the keys does feel like a big step, but those actual keys should be all but useless before you even move in.

2. Get the Heating and Cooling Systems Cleaned

Chances are, the people who came before you kept good care of their furnace and air conditioning units, right up until the point that they decided to sell. Oftentimes, the furnaces in homes in particular have old filters in them as the people moving out simply forget to perform regular maintenance. So hire someone to come in and replace the filters and, while they’re at it, inspect them for any needed upgrades or repairs. That way, your home will be running at maximum efficiency from the start.

3. Check the Plumbing

Pipe leaks are a huge problem in all homes, so it’s best to get the plumbing inspected before you move in so that any and all leaks can be fixed. This is especially important if you’re moving in as the weather gets colder. Leaky pipes, after all, can turn into burst pipes fairly quickly. This also helps with the moving process, since you can avoid putting things in places where they will get wet from water dripping from a pipe.

4. Steam Clean the Carpets

Steam cleaning is just simply easier when you have nothing on the carpets. So before the furniture and boxes end up on top of your carpets, get them thoroughly steam cleaned and shampooed. You can either do it yourself, or get a professional to come in and do it for you. Either way, you’ll have clean carpets to welcome you on moving day.

When it comes to getting a new home, there are a few things you need to do before you actually move in. Be sure to check the house’s major systems, like plumbing, to make sure everything is running properly. It will make your move, and even your first few years, a more enjoyable and easier experience.

Houses Overvalued in 11 of 15 Canadian Cities

December 10th, 2015 by gurpreetghatehora

Houses are too expensive in two of Canada’s major cities, the old way of thinking goes, and those places are Vancouver and Toronto. Those two cities have become the targets for expensive housing problems in North America and, as the average cost of a home in Toronto clears $1 million, it seems that they aren’t the only ones with a housing pricing issue. It turns out this isn’t a Vancouver and Toronto problem at all, it’s a Canadian issue.

In a recent Housing Market Assessment report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Edmonton was listed alongside Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and eight other major Canadian centres as having “moderate” to “strong” housing overvaluation issues. Of the 15 cities evaluated, only Victoria, Hamilton, Moncton, and St. John’s were listed as overvaluation-safe.

Overvaluation was assessed based on four important criteria, each of which can point to overpricing issues in a city. Overheated home sales and high prices are the most obvious contributors, which feed into each other as bidding wars erupt over even less-than-desirable properties. But too many homes being built and quickly increasing prices are also factors, meaning either not enough homes are being built anyways, or those buying newer units are seeking to increase their rental portfolio.

The news is worrying for a city like Edmonton, where recent economic hardships haven’t helped the city’s residents. The economic factors and demographics simply do not line up with the housing prices. But for Edmonton, unlike many of the other cities on the list, the problem may work in the city’s favour. After all, higher-valued homes can help sellers retain their investment even as the economy suffers, rather than taking losses.

But the increased number of houses will lead to an eventual evening out of the market, which could be a good thing for Edmonton, especially as the new Ice District provides opportunities of developers of all kinds. And that could be a good thing for buyers who maybe don’t live in only four of Canada’s 15 major metropolitan centres.

Decorating Your Home For The Holidays, Even When it’s On the Market

October 26th, 2015 by gurpreetghatehora

Just because your home is on the market doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it all decked out for the holidays. Curb side appeal is a huge part of any real estate decision. Realistically speaking, the holidays are your home’s time to shine! It can seem like just another task on your to-do list to have to decorate your home for the holidays, but you will be glad that you did.

 

Just like a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies arouses feelings of comfort and home, so do holiday lighting, festive front porch decorating, and seasonal updates! Read on to learn some ways that you can update your home for the holidays without investing too much of your valuable time or financial resources!

 

Decorating your home once it has been listed for sale can not only be time consuming, but also emotionally tasking. For many of us, choosing to move is a big decision, and often it comes with plenty of emotional considerations. Chances are, thinking back on the holidays you spent in your home is bittersweet. While you are excited for the next chapter in your life, you are also sad to be writing the last paragraph in your current chapter. Here are some tips for decorating your home quickly, and simply while still helping your home look it’s best!

 

Be Holiday General

Not everyone celebrates Christmas. And when your house is up for sale, you want to be as inclusive and inviting as possible! Instead of using a giant blow up Santa to decorate your front lawn, choose to celebrate winter instead! Avoid reindeer, Santas, elves, and anything that has directly to do with Christmas. In their place, use festive multi colored or icicle style lights around the perimeter of your home. You can also use natural elements like birch branches in your window boxes in place of summer flowers. And always, either purchase or make a showstopping wreath. Nothing will make your front porch look more impressive than a gorgeous wreath. Many craft stores sell basic wreaths as well as seasonal decorations that you can use to customize any wreath to suit your home’s colour scheme.

 

Keep it Simple

Above all, keep it simple. The last thing you want is a visually overwhelming home. You want to highlight the best features of your home instead of completely over stimulating the senses of potential home buyers. Avoid the temptation to decorate your home too early. Holiday decorations should not be put up until at least November 1st. Until then, focus more on autumn decorations using browns, oranges, and reds and props like pumpkins and gourds. Then, after Halloween, consider using simple lighting to highlight the best features of your home. Avoid the urge to use strands and strands of lights. Instead, choose one style of lighting and have a professional landscape lighting team install these along the framing of your home. As always, make your home as inviting and welcoming as possible!

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