Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas - From Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

It is Christmas Eve in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. With the temperature around -24 degrees and with everything covered in white it is perfect weather for Christmas in Alberta.

I usually post about the real estate market in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. Not today, though. As we seek to enjoy the holiday with family and loved ones, let us take a few moments to reflect on the reason for this season.

As families gather tonight and tomorrow, let us also think, and thank, those who are unable to be home for Christmas. They may be serving in the armed forces. They may be working tomorrow protecting us and providing vital services to their communities.

So, if you have the chance to say thanks to all those serving our needs, please do so. And, enjoy the holiday season.

Wishing you the best for 2010!

John Prince, Alberta licensed real estate agent, Century 21 'The Professionals' (Crowsnest Pass). Serving the Crowsnest and area. Call me directly at 403-564-4518 or by email at:

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Monday, December 21, 2009

New home buyers may face down-payment hike

TORONTO–CTV says Ottawa is considering raising the minimum down payment for home buyers as well as reducing the amortization period in order to stop some consumers from taking on too much debt.

In an interview with CTV Question Period, to be aired next week, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the measures will be taken if there's evidence of excessive demand in the housing market.

Flaherty says that the new measures would target consumers "who are taking on obligations that they will not be able to handle in the future when the interest rates do rise."

He says the likely measures the government will take is to increase the size of the down payment from five per cent "to a higher figure" and to reduce the amortization period "from a maximum of 35 years to something less."

Those measures would increase the monthly payments, making it more difficult for some people to take on a mortgage and purchase a home, without having to increase the interest rate.

Last week, the central bank warned that when interest rates rise to normal levels, up to 10 per cent of households could face difficulties in meeting monthly payment requirements.

note: It is a known fact, when home prices are under pressure, consumers tend to reel in the spending. Flaherty's warnings above are, in my opinion, more about creating contraction in consumer spending, than anything else.

Knowing why certain things are happening is as important as knowing when to get out or to get into the housing market. If you are a first time buyer and desire home ownership, then you had better be thinking about getting in soon. Give me a call if I can help.

John Prince, Alberta licensed real estate agent, Century 21 'The Professionals' (Crowsnest Pass). Serving the Crowsnest and area. Call me directly at 403-564-4518 or by email at:

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Real Estate Agent Duties: What to Expect from Your Agent

Canada Realty

Buying or selling real estate is a complex and lengthy process. It is therefore wise to enlist the help of a real estate agent. A real estate agent can provide many useful services and work with you in different ways.

Very few consumers are familiar with the duties and responsibilities of their real estate agent or broker. As a result, a number of problems can arise during the various steps of a real estate transaction when consumers are not aware of their rights.

This article addresses the various types of working relationships that may be available to you. It should help you decide which relationship you want to have with a real estate agent. It will also give you useful information about the various services real estate agents can provide buyers and sellers, and it will help explain how real estate agents are paid.

In some real estate transactions, the agent works for the seller. In others, the seller and buyer may each have their own agent. And sometimes the same agent works for both the buyer and the seller. It is important for you to know whether an agent is working for you as your agent or simply working with you while acting as an agent of the other party.

Listing Agent
A listing agent is also known as a seller's agent because they represent the seller. A listing agent can be a real estate broker or a real estate agent. These types of agents owe a fiduciary responsibility to the seller under a listing agreement and must protect that interest.

The seller's agent helps determine the price of the home, suggests how to market the home, schedules advertising and open houses, shows the home to prospective buyers, and otherwise facilitates the sale.

Your property will be listed with the agent's real estate brokerage. You will be asked to sign a "listing agreement" authorizing the brokerage and its agent to represent you in your dealings with buyers as your seller's agent. Be sure to read and understand the listing agreement before you sign it.

For representing you and helping you sell your property, you will pay the listing firm a sales commission or fee. The listing agreement must state the amount or method for determining the commission or fee and whether you will allow the firm to share its commission with agents representing the buyer.

Buyer's Agent
A buyer's agent is known as the "showing agent" and works with buyers to find a suitable property, contacts the listing agents, negotiates the best possible price and terms for the buyers, monitors the transaction, and sometimes help to obtain financing.

In most cases, the seller pays the sales commission that is shared by the two agents. However sometimes you may be required to pay your buyer's agent out of your own pocket if the listing agent refuses to pay. Whatever the case, be sure your compensation arrangement with your buyer's agent is spelled out in a buyer agency agreement before you make an offer to purchase property and that you carefully read and understand the compensation provision.

Buyer's agents may or may not require a buyer to sign a buyer's broker agreement, depending on local custom.

Dual Agent
Dual agency occurs when a real estate agent is representing both buyer and seller in the same transaction. Dual agency can happen even if the there are two agents involved—a listing agent and a buyer's agent—if both agents work for the same broker. That's because it is the real estate broker who creates the agency.

It may be difficult for a dual agent to advance the interests of both the buyer and seller. Nevertheless, a dual agent must treat buyers and sellers fairly and equally. Although the dual agent owes them the same duties, buyers and sellers can prohibit dual agents from divulging certain confidential information about them to the other party.

Some firms also offer a form of dual agency called "designated agency" where one agent in the firm represents the seller and another agent represents the buyer. This option (when available) may allow each "designated agent" to more fully represent each party.

If you choose the "dual agency" option, remember that since a dual agent's loyalty is divided between parties with competing interests, it is especially important that you have a clear understanding of what your relationship is with the dual agent and what the agent will be doing for you in the transaction.

John Prince, Alberta licensed real estate agent, Century 21 'The Professionals' (Crowsnest Pass). Serving the Crowsnest and area. Call me directly at 403-564-4518 or by email at:

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ESTATE SALE - Crowsnest Pass (Coleman)

Reduced from $129,900


Estate Sale: What a great opportunity! Spacious (1276 sq. ft.) 1.5 storey 3 bedroom older home with 9 foot ceilings and maple wood floors on full basement. Situated within Coleman’s National Historic Site. Conveniently close to all amenities, including: shopping, restaurants, museum and schools. This character home needs work and is a perfect handyman special. An ideal family home or weekend retreat. Vacant, easy to show.
  • Over 1276 sq. ft. of fully developed living space having 3 Bedrooms and full basement
  • Ideal for recreational purposes or full time living
  • Walking distance to school, shopping and close to all outdoor activities
  • Priced to sell!

For more information call:
John Prince

John Prince, Alberta licensed real estate agent, Century 21 'The Professionals' (Crowsnest Pass). Serving the Crowsnest and area. Call me directly at 403-564-4518 or by email at:

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Housing starts rise for third consecutive month in Calgary and area

Lisa Schmidt, Calgary Herald

CALGARY - The number of housing starts in Calgary climbed again in November, the third consecutive month building has outpaced last year's levels.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Tuesday that starts in the Calgary area rose to 832 units in November, up from 575 in the same month the previous year.

Despite that increase, total starts to date are 5,661, down from 11,035 for the same period in 2008, the agency said.

Still, the number of single-detached homes are already ahead the 2008 pace. There were 604 units built in November, up 79 per cent from the same month a year ago. So far this year, single-detached starts are up three per cent from last year's levels.

Richard Cho, CHMC's senior market analyst for Calgary, said a number of factors are contributing to the upswing in activity, including low mortgage rates, recent price reductions and fewer homes on the market.

Starts for multi-family units, which includes semi-detached, row and apartments, was down four per cent to 228 units compared to a year ago.

Comment: Nice to get some 'straight goods' industry reporting for a change.

John Prince, Alberta licensed real estate agent, Century 21 'The Professionals' (Crowsnest Pass). Serving the Crowsnest and area. Call me directly at 403-564-4518 or by email at:

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Alberta closer to rules for home inspectors

CBC News

The Alberta government hopes to have new rules for home inspectors in place by the spring, a move that has some members of the industry concerned.

"There is no actual guidelines or rules in the province of Alberta [about] who or who cannot be a home inspector. So you can start up being a home inspector tomorrow if you so desired," said Doug MacDonald, president of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors.

"That's one of the frightening things about the way it is set up right now."

His organization has been urging the government to license home inspectors.

That has the support of Calgary homeowner Jody Severinson, who says a home inspector told her roof repairs on the home she and her husband were about to buy would cost a maximum $1,200. They bought the Douglasdale home in January and after several estimates, spent $15,000 on the roof.

"A $14,000 mistake is a big mistake in my books," she said. "I spent hours and days and weeks trying to rectify the situation and came up empty-handed and it devastated us financially."

The president of the company that conducted her home inspection never returned her calls, she said.

"Unless they're licensed and unless they stand behind their word, they shouldn't be allowed to give people this kind of advice."

Alberta looking at insurance

Earlier this year, provincial officials consulted with members of the industry and the public on home inspections. Out of 775 responses, most were in favour of licensing home inspectors. Officials are in the midst of crafting regulations.

Service Alberta Minister Heather Klimchuk said the focus right now is on insurance — what kind home inspectors should have and who should provide it. Currently, Alberta home inspectors don't need to have insurance.

"It becomes of course the issues of liability and the accountability of home inspectors and just making sure that such things as the level of education, the group they belong to, just to make sure everybody is on the same page, o a consumer knows what they're getting into when they do hire a home inspector," she said.

Consumers who have problems with home inspectors in Alberta have two options right now.

They can lodge a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau, which received 28 complaints last year, or homeowners can sue.

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently sided with a North Vancouver couple who sued their home inspector for nearly $200,000, but in Alberta, few home inspectors operate with insurance.

Home inspectors out of work?

British Columbia required home inspectors to have proper qualifications and licensing as of March 31, becoming the first province in the country to make the move.

Alberta has two groups representing home inspectors — MacDonald's group and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

The later was not approved to certify inspectors in British Columbia because the organization didn't meet that province's educational requirements, and that has Alberta members worried.

"There'll be a lot of inspectors out of work because anyone that [doesn't] belong to the Canadian association of home inspectors will not probably get a licence," said the group's Alberta president, Steve Horvath.

Horvath said he has already been denied membership by the rival organization because he refused to take their coursework, which he argues shouldn't be necessary after 25 years in the business.

"I myself would be out of business. And I know there's quite a few other people who have extensive inspection experience — 20, 25 years of inspection experience — that would be out of business," he said.

But if the province moves ahead with licensing, he said his organization does want to be involved.

Comment: In my opinion, this is a good thing. After all, if you want to be a Realtor today, you are looking at a commitment of 8-10 weeks of in-class educational training (plus on-going mandatory annual professional development course(s)), and upon completion of the educational component and upon acceptance to both the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) and Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB), you are looking at a minimum of $7,000.00 in tuition and various board fees . No small commitment in both time and money, that's for sure! But then the public is well served and protected in not only knowing they are dealing with a highly trained licensed Realtor, but that they are also backed and insured by professional organizations. Tomorrows home inspectors should have similar professional qualifications, while offering similar insurances.

John Prince, Alberta licensed real estate agent, Century 21 'The Professionals' (Crowsnest Pass). Serving the Crowsnest and area. Call me directly at 403-564-4518 or by email at:

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