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The federal government is considering more mortgage rules, but there’s still time to push back.


The proposal would require lower-risk borrowers to be approved at two per cent above the rate offered to them by their lender. For example, if the contract rate offered is three per cent, lower-risk borrowers would have to qualify at five per cent. 


This measure could shut many consumers out of the market, drive them into less suitable housing or entice them to visit sub-prime lenders that are not federally regulated. 


I am joining all Canadian Realtors, with Canadian Real Estate Association, to stop this from becoming law. 

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The listings I have sold recently:

  • #403 156 Country Village Circle SE Calgary, AB (representing buyer)
  • 789 Applewood Drive SE Calgary, AB (representing both sellers and buyers)
  • 131 Fresno Place NE Calgary, AB (representing buyer)
  • 178 Brightonstone Landing SE Calgary, AB (representing buyer)
  • #303 21 Dover Point SE Calgary, AB (representing both sellers and buyers)

Congratulations to my wonderful clients for their successful and happy transactions as sellers or buyers. It is very nice working with them. I wish them all the best! 

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I have just sold these beautiful homes. 



My clients, a young and nice couple can't wait to move into this beautiful two-storey-split home end of this month. Congratulations! 




You would feel like walking into a brand new home in the established area with the convenience of being near downtown, walking to C-train station. Congrats to my lucky client who will be happily moving in on 21st of this month. 



In this photo you only see the downtown. But when you stand on the third floor of this immaculate condo townhouse, you will be stunned with the live picture of Bow river, city skylines and mountains, all in one. My clients are very happy and can't wait to take possession end of this month. Congratulations! 

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Whether planning on developing your basement to rent out, or are purchasing a home that already has a secondary suite, it’s important to know what can happen if your property isn’t zoned to have one.   At least 1 illegal suite has been shut down every day for the past 5 years by City Inspectors.

“When the city inspector came to check the basement suite at 239 Erin Meadow Close S. E., she didn’t check for leaky ceilings, unsafe windows or faulty wiring.

But she did find something that warranted shutting it down. She found kitchen cabinets, a countertop and a sink — the telltale markings of a dwelling unit. And with no development permit granted for owner Deanna Oxtoby, that made it an illegal secondary suite.

The lack of safety concerns made no diff erence, nor did the roughly $30,000 of renovations Oxtoby said she did to upgrade the property. Rules were rules. Oxtoby had until last Dec. 1 to close it down.” 


What is a secondary suite?

A secondary suite can also be known as a:

  • basement suite
  • mother-in-law suite
  • granny suite
  • garden suite (detached, stand-alone)
  • above the garage suite

What you need to consider if you’re planning on developing a secondary suite

1) You need to identify what your property’s land use district is

Property Land Use District Search  (City of Calgary)

If your land use district is:

R-1, R-C1, or R-C1L

Secondary suites are not a listed use in the above districts.  However, it’s possible to apply for a Land Use Amendment so that secondary suites would be a listed discretionary use.

If your land use district is:

R-1s, R-C1s, R-C1Ls, R-2, R-C2, R-2M, or M-CG

AND is a single detached dwelling (if it is not a single detached dwelling, secondary suites are not allowed)

AND your property meets the minimum required parcel width, depth, or area requirements needed for a secondary suite

THEN secondary suites will be a discretionary use, and you can then apply for a Development Permit.

If your land use district is not listed above, then secondary suites are not permitted.





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A major shift in mortgage rules announced by the federal government this week will drive up rates for consumers and cut competition in the lending sector, say some in the industry.

Mortgage expert Robert McLister says Ottawa is cracking the housing market with a “sledgehammer.”

He predicts consumers will bear the brunt of the blow and that housing prices will tumble because a “sizable minority” of first-time and high-ratio buyers will no longer qualify for the mortgage amount they want.


The federal government says it’s responding to concerns that sharp increases in housing prices in Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere could increase defaults in the future, should historically low interest rates finally start to climb.

One of the key changes means that all homebuyers seeking an insured mortgage, regardless of how much they have for a down payment, will be subject to a mortgage rate stress test beginning Oct. 17. Before now, those with less than a 20 per cent down payment were required to pass a stress test and have mortgage insurance backed by the federal government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

But those putting down more than 20 per cent who were seeking an insured mortgage through a private insurer were not subjected to the stress test.

The test measures whether the buyer could still afford to make payments if mortgage rates rose to the Bank of Canada’s posted five-year fixed mortgage rate.

That rate is usually significantly higher than what a buyer can negotiate with banks or other lenders. For instance, TD has a five-year fixed rate mortgage at 2.59 per cent, while the Bank of Canada’s rate is 4.64 per cent.

The stress test also sets a ceiling of no more than 39 per cent of household income being necessary to cover home-carrying costs such as mortgage payments, heat and taxes.

Until now, buyers with more than a 20 per cent down payment opting for mortgage insurance have escaped such scrutiny. They were able to obtain low-ratio insurance sold through two private insurers, but backed by the federal government, subject to a 10 per cent deductible. Starting Nov.30, new criteria for low-ratio insurance will take effect. To qualify, the mortgage’s amortization period must be 25 years or less, the purchase price be less than $1 million, the property be owner-occupied, and the buyer have a credit score of 600 or more.

“I don’t think this has been thought through at all,” McLister, who writes for Canadian Mortgage Trends, told He says the effect is that refinances, jumbo mortgages and rental business will have to be handed over by brokers and non-bank lenders to the banks, says McLister. That will hurt competition and drive up mortgage rates and fees.

“There was no industry consultation. Every lender I spoke to said they had no inkling this was coming. This is a big fat mistake.”

In fact, McLister says the changes are a “solution to a problem that doesn’t exist” because only one in 357 Canadian homeowners defaults on a mortgage.

“Regulators are under intense pressure to do something because home prices are climbing fast and may be over-valued in some markets. They want to avoid any kind of catastrophe on their watch,” he said.

“But the knee-jerk reaction will be so damaging, they could cause the sell-off they are trying to avoid.”

He says mortgage insurance provider Genworth Canada estimates the new rules mean up to one-third of its first-time homebuyers will not qualify for a mortgage.

Suzanne Boyce, owner of The Personal Mortgage Group in Hamilton, says she fears the changes will ultimately limit options available to the public. Canada already has some of the stiffest standards for qualifying for mortgages in the world, she says.

Boyce says young people trying for the first time to get into a booming housing market and those who qualify for the low posted rates might not qualify for the higher rates right away.

“Those borderline people trying to break in before they get out-priced permanently may be kept out. It makes me wonder if we’re heading for a European-type market where home ownership is not as common.”

The new rules also mean that, beginning this tax year, all home sales must be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency. The gains from sales of primary residences will remain tax-free, but the government is aiming to block foreign buyers from purchasing and flipping homes while falsely claiming the primary residence exemption from capital gains tax.

Finally, the government says it will shift some of the risk of defaults against insured mortgages to banks and other lenders. Ottawa says its shouldering 100 per cent of the cost of a defaulted mortgage is “unique” in the world. How the government plans to share some of that risk with lenders remains to be seen.




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Bare Land Condo

In a Bare Land condominium project, units are created from the land. These provisions were added to the Condominium Property Act to allow such projects in 1983. There may or may not be buildings on the units. The unit boundaries are determined by monuments placed pursuant to the provisions of the Surveys Act. An owner of a Bare Land unit owns everything that is built upon such unit including all parts of the building, decks, patios, driveways, etc. 

Where a conventional condo is defined by the walls, floor & ceiling, a Bare Land condo is defined by the size of the lot the building sits on. Lot boundaries are identified by a surveyors report such as a Real Property Report (RPR), much like freehold land. Hence, a Real Property Report is required for a Bare Land Condo. The area within the marked area of the RPR including structure, landscaping & garage are owned by the unit owner. Areas outside the marked area are common property and owned by all unit owners much like the conventional condo. A duplex and single family home are good examples of this because the unit is not restricted to just the building. Bare Land Condo’s are not just for attached properties (townhomes or duplexes). Single family houses can be considered Bare Land Condominiums.

Conventional Condo

In a Conventional condominium project the building is divided into units and the outside of the units is designated as common property. You must examine the plan to determine the unit boundary definition and you must also examine the plan to determine if the parking stalls or storage lockers have been titled. In the example plan in your binder, the parking stalls and the yards have been dimensioned and therefore may be leased to an owner pursuant to Section 50 of the Condominium Property Act. In a Conventional project the condominium plan can not be registered until the roof is on all units and the units can be measured and shown on a plan. All condominium plans registered prior to 1983 are conventional plans. Usually, the unit boundary definition is as set for in Section 9 (1) of the Condominium Property Act which is the unit consists of the finishing material and inwards in the unit. Unless the plan states otherwise, all doors and windows of a unit that are located on the exterior walls of the unit are part of the common property. 

This is where units form part of a building or structure and are the private domains of the individual owners. Apartment style condominiums are a good example of this. Each unit’s boundaries are defined by the walls, floors and ceilings. Unit owners own the area inside these boundaries and any areas outside of these boundaries are considered common property, meaning it’s owned by all unit owners. Real Property Report’s (RPR) typically do not exist for conventional condo’s. In it’s place would be a Condominium Plan which is essentially a survey report of the entire condominium complex as opposed to only the individual unit. The unit owner of a conventional condo is individually responsible for the interior boundaries of their unit, but shares in the responsibility of the common property along with the rest of the unit owners in the complex.

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TORONTO — Canadians looking to buy homes between $500,000 and $1 million will have to put down larger down payments as new federal rules took effect Monday.

Under the changes, homebuyers must now put at least 10 per cent down on the portion of a home that costs more than $500,000.

Buyers can still put down five per cent on the first $500,000 of a home purchase. Homes that cost more than $1 million still require a 20 per cent down payment.

Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage, says the new rules aim to slow the breakneck pace of price growth in the red-hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver without affecting markets that are lagging, such as those in oil-dependent provinces.

“The problem with monetary policy is that it impacts the struggling Calgary market or the just fine Winnipeg market and the overheated Vancouver market in equal amounts,” Soper said.

“If you lower interest rates, you lower interest rates for all. And that’s not what the country needed. This change … is the first attempt to recognize the fact that some parts of the country are in need of a mild tap on the break, while other parts of the country really need to continue to receive stimulus.”

When the new rules were announced in December, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he estimated they would affect about one per cent of the overall real estate market. Some industry observers predicted a surge in sales activity as homebuyers would look to pre-empt bigger down payment requirements.

Soper says real estate markets in Ontario, B.C. and Quebec have been “boisterous” in the first five weeks of the year — but he says it’s unlikely that the new mortgage rules are responsible.

“I think it has much more to do with clean sidewalks from a mild winter and low mortgage rates than it does with impending changes that tweak mortgage insurance regulations,” Soper said.

“It’s just not a big enough change to have materially impacted home sales volumes in the country.”

Ottawa tightened rules for new insurable loans four times between 2008 and 2012, including upping the minimum down payment to five per cent and reducing the maximum amortization period to 25 years from 30.



The Canadian Press

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Tips for understanding what a Realtor will do for you...and what you can do to either help them find you a home, or sell your house. 

Whether you’re buying or selling real estate, having the right real estate agent on your team can be extremely rewarding, both financially and personally. Real estate agents are trained to analyze the marketplace, be aware of what the competition is like, and take care of the mounds of paperwork involved in any real estate deal.

Choosing the right realtor is key to the ease of what can be a very stressful time. The right agent will be someone you can trust, someone you connect with, and someone who will understand your needs. Don’t be afraid to consult with several different agents until you’ve found the one that feels like he/she can be on your team.

Many people feel that real estate agents are not worth the fees they charge. Here are a few things to remember:

  • The realtor’s fee is split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent, reducing their commission by half.

  • Realtors must pay for their office space and office expenses, including their telephone costs.

  • Advertising costs come out of their commission

  • Realtors drive nicer vehicles because the clients expect it, not because they are filthy rich. Gas, insurance, and maintenance costs are higher than average. (Who wants to go house-hunting in a rent-a-wreck?) 

In many provinces, real estate agents must continually take courses to keep their license active. These can be costly events and paid for by the realtor.

An agent acting on your behalf needs to have your cooperation in order to do their jobs properly. If you are a prospective buyer, be considerate by being on time for your appointments. Have a clear idea of what your criteria is, so that you haven’t sent your realtor on a wild goose chase. Consider any advice they may offer. When trying to sell your home, keep track of when all your showings are. Leave the house if you can, so that the clients can talk and move about freely. And of course, make very sure that your home is as clean and tidy as possible. If you are trying to sell a rental property, it is very important to let your tenants know that if they choose not to cooperate with the showings, they risk receiving an eviction notice. Your agent will have to work extra hard to ensure that tenants have received proper notice, and some tenants are very good at denying that they’ve gotten any notice at all!

There are a few things you can do to make house-hunting more comfortable and pleasant. Bring along some drinking water. Wear slip-on shoes. Leave yourself plenty of time. Your realtor will appreciate having happy clients.

Having the right realtor and keeping a positive attitude will make this demanding time a less stressful experience. And possibly make you a new friend as well.

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If you are considering looking for a new house, and are a current home-owner, then chances are you’re wondering what your strategy should be: do you wait to find the perfect new home before you put your current home on the market, or do you sell first and then look around? You have a few options. Use the following as a guide to explore what might be the best move for you.

Sell First:

There are several benefits to selling your current house before searching for your next home. First of all, once you have sold your house, you will know precisely how much money you have to work with. With a concrete price range, you’ll be able to narrow the pool of houses before you begin looking, and negotiate accordingly. This will allow you to immediately make firm offers on houses that you are serious about purchasing. You can be first in line with an unconditional offer you know you can afford, and this will grant even further negotiating leverage as Sellers tend to take unconditional offers more seriously. When they counter or turn down an offer that’s conditional on the sale of a home, they usually think the Buyer will come back with a better and more firm offer once they have sold their current home. However, if you make an unconditional offer, the Seller will usually give you more consideration, as they realize you’re probably looking at other properties and will move on if your offer is rejected. Likewise, if you have already sold you house, you probably do have a wider opportunity to look around, negotiate, and find the best deal and fit for you and your family.

The flip side of this scenario, however, is that if you don’t find the right property before the closing date of the house you’ve already sold, you may have to look for temporary housing until you do find what you’re looking for.

So, before you opt to sell first, you should determine whether you have alternate, temporary options, in case you have to move from your house before you’ve found a new one. How would you and your family deal with living in a transition home for an undetermined period of time?

Buy First:

Buying a new house without having sold your current home may occur if you are interested in a specific property and will only sell your current home if this property comes on the market. It may be a matter of timing—grabbing hold of the home before it’s too late. The same might be said of a property you haven’t had you eye on previously, but that catches your attention due to its uniqueness or unbelievable price. If buying first means you don’t miss out on the real estate opportunity of a lifetime, it may be the best move.

However, be careful. If you buy another property and aren’t able to sell your current home quickly enough, you could end up having to finance both homes and shoulder the extra debt until you sell. You can get a financial appraisal or market evaluation of a home prior to selling, but this doesn’t guarantee the price you’ll ultimately receive for the home after the negotiation process has run its course. Since your selling price will be an unknown, jumping into a purchase could be a gamble, particularly if your budget is tight.

Make sure you’re familiar with all aspects of the financial reality this scenario would create before you purchase another home. You may be faced with owning two homes at once. What type of financial stress would this bring to your life and how would you deal with it? Consider the fact that if your current house doesn’t sell quickly enough, you may be forced to sell it off at a reduced price in order align the closing dates of your two properties. What effect would this have on your financial situation?

Conditional Offer:

An additional option involves making your offer to purchase conditional upon the sale of your current property within a specified period. Conditional offers usually include a clause that allows for the Sellers to keep their property on the market and remain open to other offers while you try to sell your home. If the Sellers receive another attractive offer before you’ve sold your home, they may accept and ask you to either remove your condition and firm up your offer, or to back down from the offer. A conditional offer forms a kind of middle ground, an area of compromise, for those who are afraid to sell or buy first—but doesn’t hold the advantages of the other two options.

One of the drawbacks of the conditional offer is that Sellers tend to take them less seriously. They definitely give stronger consideration to firm offers. This leaves you with less negotiating power. In fact, some Sellers will simply turn down or counter a conditional offer. Other Sellers will believe the Buyer will come back with a more serious offer when their home has sold. So, you may end up having to increase your offer in order to have your conditional offer accepted and keep your foot in the door of your desired house.

Even if your conditional offer is accepted, there is no guarantee another Buyer won’t step in and overthrow your offer before you have sold your current home, which would put you back at the starting line. Also, consider the fact that you cannot withdraw your conditional offer until the end of the period specified in the contract—which means that if a better deal comes along, you will have to wait to jump at it. 

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Selling your home is a complex process that can be stressful and time-consuming. An experienced Realtor has the knowledge, skills, and connections to help you through the process every step of the way. Consider the following benefits of working with a Realtor: 


Professional Experience:


With knowledge and training in marketing s

trategy, negotiation tactics, and the workings of the current real estate market, a Realtor will be able to guide you through the steps of the home-selling process and be able to explain exactly what to expect. S/he will make you aware of your rights and responsibilities, work with you to strategize the best moves according to your own goals, discuss financing options, and point you in the direction of other specialized professionals who will aid you in different stages of the process.



Best Price:


Realtors have their fingers on the pulse of the current real estate market, and will know what comparable properties in your area are selling for. They have the resources and knowledge to establish the best asking price and to attract the highest selling price. With access to their company’s professional marketing resources and connections, they will ensure potential buyers are immediately made aware of your home and market the property to sell as quickly as possible and for the most money. 



“Showcasing” Experience:


Your Realtor will know the importance of a property’s first impression. S/he will have experienced first-hand, for example, the impact a property’s “drive-up appeal” has on the rest of a potential Buyer’s experience of your home. Your Realtor will be able to offer you tips and information on how to get your home in the best selling shape possible, in order to sell your property quickly and for top dollar. 


Access to Qualified Buyers:


Realtors save time and effort by dealing only with qualified buyers. They have access to a pool of pre-screened and pre-qualified buyers who are serious about buying a home in your neighbourhood. Realtors work hard to develop this base of qualified buyers which will become an invaluable resource for you. 


Negotiation Skills:


Realtors serve many functions, but perhaps the most important is their role as primary negotiator on your behalf. Your Realtor realizes your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible, and for the most money possible, and will work closely with you during the negotiation process to facilitate this goal. Realtors bring to the process the knowledgeand skills to draw up legally binding contracts, to assist in negotiating offers and counter- offers, and to offer counsel and perspective as you work toward your selling goals. 

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You’ve been saving for awhile, weighing your options, looking around casually. Now you’ve finally decided to do it—you’re ready to buy a house. The process of buying a new home can be incredibly exciting, yet stressful, all at once. Where do you start?

It is essential you do your homework before you begin. Learn from the experiences of others, do some research. Of course, with so many details involved, slip-ups are inevitable. But be careful: learning from your mistakes may prove costly. Use the following list of pitfalls as a guide to help you avoid the most common mistakes.

  1. Searching for houses without getting pre-approved by a lender:

    Do not mistake pre-approval by a lender with pre-qualification. Pre-qualification, the first step toward being pre-approved, will point you in the right direction, giving you an idea of the price range of houses you can comfortably afford. Pre- approval, however, means you become a cash buyer, making negotiations with the seller much easier.

  2. Allowing “first impressions” to overly influence your decision:

    The first impression of a home has been cited as the single most influential factor guiding many purchasers’ choice to buy. Make a conscious decision beforehand to examine a home as objectively as you can. Don’t let the current owners’ style or lifestyle sway your judgment. Beneath the bad décor or messy rooms, these homes may actually suit your needs and offer you a structurally sound base with which to work. Likewise, don’t jump at a home simply because the walls are painted your favourite colour! Make sure you thoroughly the investigate the structure beneath the paint before you come to any serious decisions.

  3. Failing to have the home inspected before you buy:

    Buying a home is a major financial decision that is often made after having spent very little time on the property itself. A home inspection performed by a competent company will help you enter the negotiation process with eyes wide open, offering you added reassurance that the choice you’re making is a sound one, or alerting you to underlying problems that could cost you significant money in both the short and long-run. Your Realtor can suggest reputable home inspection companies for you to consider and will ensure the appropriate clause is entered into your contract.

  4. Not knowing and understanding your rights and obligations as listed in the Offer to Purchase:

    Make it a priority to know your rights and obligations inside and out. A lack of understanding about your obligations may, at the very least, cause friction between yourself and the people with whom you are about to enter the contract. Wrong assumptions, poorly written/ incomprehensible/ missing clauses, or a lack of awareness of how the clauses apply to the purchase, could also contribute to increased costs. These problems may even lead to a void contract. So, take the time to go through the contract with a fine-tooth comb, making use of the resources and knowledge offered by your Realtor and lawyer. With their assistance, ensure you thoroughly understand every component of the contract, and are able to fulfill your contractual obligations.

  1. Making an offer based on the asking price, not the market value:

    Ask your Realtor for a current Comparative Market Analysis. This will provide you with the information necessary to gauge the market value of a home, and will help you avoid over-paying. What have other similar homes sold for in the area and how long were they on the market? What is the difference between their asking and selling prices? Is the home you’re looking at under-priced, over- priced, or fair value? The seller receives a Comparative Market Analysis before deciding upon an asking price, so make sure you have all the same information at your fingertips.

  2. Failing to familiarize yourself with the neighbourhood before buying:

    Check out the neighbourhood you’re considering, and ask around. What amenities does the area have to offer? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children. How will you be affected by a new commute to work? Are there infrastructure projects in development? All of these factors will influence the way you experience your new home, so ensure you’re well-acquainted with the surrounding area before purchasing.

  3. Not looking for home insurance until you are about to move:

    If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be rushed to find an insurance policy that’s the ideal fit for you. Make sure you give yourself enough time to shop around in order to get the best deal.

  4. Not recognizing different styles and strategies of negotiation:

    Many buyers think that the way to negotiate their way to a fair price is by offering low. However, in reality this strategy may actually result in the seller becoming more inflexible, polarizing negotiations. Employ the knowledge and skills of an experienced realtor. S/he will know what strategies of negotiation will prove most effective for your particular situation. 

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Urban Real Estate Services
Unit A, 820 - 26th Street NE
Calgary, AB
T2A 2M4
Data supplied by CREB®’s MLS ® System. CREB® is the owner of the copyright in its MLS® System. The Listing data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by CREB®.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
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.