Edmonton Real Estate Lastest Updates

Do legal secondary suites in half duplexes exist in Edmonton?

First, some light house keeping before we start this blog: The City of Edmonton does not have a half duplex category, they refer to it as semi detached.

When I meet home buyer clients for the first time, one of my first questions I ask is “what are your must haves.” One respond makes me cringe every time. “The half duplex I want NEED to have is one with a separate entrance for a secondary suite so I can have the rental income.” I believe this idea comes from watching HGTV which is frequently recorded in Toronto and buyer see a beautiful rental suite that allows them to live upstairs for $400.00 a month. Let’s start with the obvious the zoning bylaws in Toronto are completely different in Edmonton. Fact: At this time there Is NO, and I repeat NO half duplex in Edmonton with a legal secondary suite. If anyone tells you, they can build this unicorn for you or better yet they will give you a separate entrance so you can build it out yourself be warned they are lying to you or trying to get a sale and putting all the risk on you once you build it. I hear time and time again; the builder wouldn’t put in a separate entrance if I couldn’t put in a suite. Nobody likes to listen to the truth, but the truth is builders are now placing separate entrances on half duplexes on the hope that the city allows secondary suites in the future. The problem with that mentality is nobody knows IF the city does approve secondary suites in half duplexes will it be city wide, only in certain zones or in certain locations? Now there are those individuals who do not care if the suite is illegal when purchasing. Be warned if you get caught, and the city comes knocking there are significant financial risk let’s go over a couple.

You're renting out you illegal...

Get To Know Your City - Oliver Edition

Get to Know your City – The Oliver Edition


I think we all have a soft spot in our heart for the Community of Oliver.  There is a fabulous mixture of beautiful tree lined streets and quiet calm viewpoints while still being in extremely close proximity to downtown and all the fun and excitement that happens along Jasper and 104 street.

Oliver used to be the west end of Edmonton but would now be known as a central community.  It is one of the oldest Edmonton communities named after a prominent businessman and politician Frank Oliver (September 1, 1853 – March 31, 1933)  who served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories for Edmonton from 1883 to 1896.

There are some truly magnificent sites to be seen such as the Victoria Promenade which features beautiful river valley views, the Royal Glenora Club, Victoria Golf Course and the Victoria Park.  You are close to not only nature but also vibrant city living.  Conveniently located by the High Level Bridge and Groat road makes access to the rest of the city a piece of cake. If driving and walking are not your thing there is also the Grandin LRT station to make zipping around the city quick and easy.

Did you know that the section of 104 street used to be a Canadian National Railway right of away?  As the city grew Oliver wound up experiencing significant redevelopment a multitude of different times.  In the late 90’s early 2000’s this section of the community was converted into what we now know as Oliver Square which flourishes...

9 Steps For Successful Spring Cleaning

9 Steps For Successful Spring Cleaning

1.       Keep the Mosquitos at Bay – As a preventative measure, take a peek around your yard for anywhere that there is standing water and dump it.  Nothing worse than having to share your space with a bunch of blood sucking bugs.

2.       De-Puppy Poop the back yard – Either get out there and do it yourself or hire one of the wonderful companies that will pick up all the poop for you.  

3.       Wash Windows and Screens – Now that the garden will be blooming you will want a crystal-clear view of it. Take the time to thoroughly clean your windows and screens, you will not regret it.

4.       Test Sprinklers, irrigation systems and pond pumps – make sure that all your water features made it through the winter, make adjustments and repairs if needed.

5.       Take some time to maintain wood surfaces in your yard – whether it be a deck, fence or front step, make sure your wood surfaces are clean and sealed.  Likely staining and painting won’t have to happen every year but it is something that you should keep an eye before it gets so bad that replacement is your only option.

6.       Clean Out Garages and Sheds...

Get to Know your City - McCauley Edition

The Community of McCauley

When you think of McCauley what comes to mind?  Now take a minute, open your mind and let's set the story straight.

Welcome to McCauley, a centrally located and culturally diverse community in Edmonton.  Everything is within walking distance.  Take a stroll down 95 Street through Little Italy and treat yourself to a coffee or some homemade pasta.  Shortest walk from Italy to China, not more than two blocks away you can enjoy authentic Asian cuisine and fantastic marketplaces.  For anything that is not walkable, there is an LRT station and various bus stops for your immediate convenience.

The City of Edmonton decided to create a revitalization plan for the community that started in 2008 since then many new homes have been built, and multiple new businesses have moved into the up and coming neighborhood.  Builders have begun to scoop up the lots, as they are still very affordable in comparison to other areas of Edmonton, and build fantastic infills.  The City intends to create an affordable and low-density environment.

This community is packed with historical buildings; homes, commercial space and churches that have been around since the early 1900’s.  There are seven buildings designated as Municipal Historic Resources. These resources are legally protected by bylaws from demolition and inappropriate alterations.


New Default Insurance Premiums

How the new default insurance premiums affect Canadians looking to buy a house?

Kim Lewis from Scotia Bank has been kind enough to explain to our readers exactly what is means to them.

CMHC was the first of the three insurers to raise their premiums, with Genworth following the next week.

The primary driver for the increased premiums is the need for a higher capital for their portfolio of business, easily put, this is their safety net.   If someone defaults and doesn’t pay their mortgage, CMHC and Genworth step in to cover the mortgage to the Financial Institution, so if they don’t have enough capital to do that,  they are putting themselves at a huge risk.  The number of expected losses has also risen in the last few year, not that any of us should be surprised.

Both CMHC and Genworth have programs to help people who for any circumstance are unable to pay their mortgage.  They have stepped in when a client bought a house at a peak price and now will be selling for a loss, and they have also helped when clients up north have lost their jobs and can no longer afford payments.  So if you ever have clients that need help, we can point them in the right direction of who to call to get all of their options out there.


Another change that has come about is the way they establish the amount of risk a borrower has. So if someone doesn’t have a high credit score, you are deemed more of a risk and more likely to default on your mortgage.  For example, the requirement for a 680 credit score is 170% higher than that for a 720 credit score. Over time, this may lead to the evolution of premium rates for credit score cohorts within LTV bands.


So in the future, It’s going to be even more important...

8 Reasons Your House Isn't Selling

If your home isn't getting the attention you think it deserves, it's time to get to the root of the problem. 

It's a buyer's market in the Edmonton and surrounding areas, and if your home isn't getting offers, something could very well be wrong. The good news is knowing there is an issue is the first step to resolving it. We've gone over what the top reasons could be and are providing you with the advice of how to correct each situation. 

1. The house is priced too high

We know it's NOT what you want to hear. The truth is that if your home is over the days on market for your community, the market is rejecting your price. No amount of staging, beautiful photo's and detailed write up on the MLS is going to bring you an offer if you're overpriced. Additionally concerning if your home is listed above market value, you are missing out on a whole group of prospective buyers. 

Solution: Get your agent to go over the comparables of homes that have sold within your market and price it right the first time around. Nobody wants to buy the most expensive house on the block!

2. Your home need some TLC

So what!! You loved (worn out)  your home, and it shows... Taking the time to critically look at your home and making a list of all the things that need to be freshened up helps your selling power. Analyze the properties that have successfully sold in your area and compare. Did they recently paint the interior, update the lighting, change the handles on the all the cabinet doors. We know it's a hard pill to swallow, shelling out money for a property you're hoping your moving away from, but trust us it will be for the best at the negotiation table. 

Solution: Take a week to get all the work...

The Greatest Home Seller's Infographic & To-Do Checklist

Having troubles selling your home in the Edmonton marketplace? Dee and I will never get used to the fact that most homes do not show well after about the fourth week on the market. The excitement of potentially selling your Edmonton home is gone, and frankly, a lot of sellers forget what it takes, on top of a great marketing plan to sell your home. I've decided to compile a list of all the things I see not being done on a regular basis when sellers are trying to sell their home. It might seem like a lot to accomplish keeping your home in pristine condition when on the market, but it will set up apart from your competition or at the very least keep you in the running. Don't worry all these chores will pay off at the negotiation table. 


How The New Mortgage Changes Impact You

This week's post comes to us by Kim Lewis from Scotia Bank

I’ve been getting a ton of emails and phone calls in regards to the new mortgage changes and what it means for the industry, so I made a document full of nuggets of info that I’ve gotten out of the news and things that have been sent directly to me.

The biggest changes besides qualifying will be what lenders and brokers can still do.

So far the biggest change that has happened is that a lot of alternative lenders will no longer be offering financing on rental properties, a mortgage over 1 million, any amortization over 25 years, and any stated income employment.

Ottawa is demanding financial institutions use the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year fixed posted rate, now at 4.64 percent, to qualify consumers for government-backed loans. Previously, customers locking in for five years or longer could use the

rate on their contract — which could be as low as 1.95 percent in today’s market — and qualify for a much larger loan, which some argued led to inflated housing prices

First National Financial, the country’s largest non-bank mortgage lender, sent a note to its mortgage...

You may want to seek a second pre-approval

Today I greeted buyers with a warm hello, got them inside from the chilly Edmonton fall weather and delivered my chilling news. "You may have to get re-approved if we don't find you a house by Oct 12 if you're putting less than 20% down" Silence… "No pressure." By now you have probably heard that the New Department of Finance rules will have the significant impact on the housing market. The biggest two changes are:

1) Effective Oct 17, 2016, the qualification rate will now apply to all insured mortgages.

2) Regulators are banning a wide array of mortgages from being insured.

So what does this mean if you're a buyer looking to break into the market? If you are placing less than 20% down on your purchase, you now must undergo a stress test at the rate of 4.64% rather than 2.35%*. This will change your approval amount dramatically.

Sellers, this news, isn't going to be in your favor. First, this will remove up to 15%-20% of buyers from the market by forcing all insured borrower to prove the can afford their mortgage payment at the rate of 4.64%.

Now for some real talk, IMO housing prices will have to adjust to buyer's affordability. Seller will be waiting a very long time for a buyer to come along with more than 20% down. Now to sell your home quickly and open it up to more buyers, the price will have to decrease. Here come the uncomfortable predictions…. As the houses, prices adjust the government can safely raise interest rates without the worry of killing the economy.


Tips to Save Energy and Add Value

When it comes to energy efficiency, look for smart features and expertise to help you save energy and money and add value to your home.

1. Begin with a Right-Sized Home.

If the home you buy is simply too large for you or your family’s needs or plans, you stand a good chance of wasting energy through excessive heating and cooling costs. If it’s too small, you’ll feel cramped and uncomfortable. It’s a big investment, so seek balance and buy it “right” from the outset. 

2. Purchase Energy Star Appliances Such as Your TV, Dishwasher, Washer and Dryer, and Microwave.

And especially the refrigerator, as it alone contributes about 10 percent of the energy use in a home. Also, unplug electronics not in use or turn off power strips to avoid phantom charges. 

3. Install Efficient Lighting Such as Compact Fluorescent (CLF) or LED Bulbs in Every Fixture.

Lighting accounts for about 6 percent of an energy bill each year.

4. Get an Energy Audit and Have Tests Performed to Identify Ways of Improving Your Efficiency.

You can always upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as well as your thermal envelope, which includes insulation, windows, and doors  and the seals or weather stripping around them. Visit energy.gov/energytips for more tips.