January 2021 - HOUSING TRUTH ~ Calgary housing market from Mark Kolke
WELCOME from editor/publisher - and agent, Mark Kolke; Agent/Realtor, under contract to MaxWell Capital Realty ...
Happy new year – and welcome to COVID-19, continued …
Everyone who has been touched by this pandemic, and especially all the front-line workers in health care, emergency services, and the folks serving us in businesses who are open to the public – we appreciate you more than ever. To those who’ve been ill or lost loved ones, we cannot know your pain, but we want you to understand our thoughts and sympathies are with you and your families. If you need help, and that might be just someone to talk to, please call me, or call the distress line – we are a community of Calgarians who care – and let’s all help each other. We never know who is in trouble unless we ask if we can help.
I am fortunate that nobody in my family or orbit of friends and clients has been struck by this virus – and we must all keep washing our hands, keeping our distance, and wearing clean masks.
Welcome to a much better 2021 – it won’t be without challenges, but we are Albertans, we are Canadians, and we will get through this mucky time together.
+ the world of technology is ‘getting it’, realizing 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability; accessibility issues are not addressed in every innovation – but the Consumer Electronics Show is addressing accessibility more effectively this year
+ you don’t have to be Finnish to plan a sustainable cabin; an ultimate small cabin in the woods
+ putting the deposit in place is an essential and time-sensitive term of nearly every home purchase transaction contract; a bank draft or certified cheque is the typical requirement negotiated, but not so simple for relocations / out of town buyers – nobody wants a delay. A combination of point-click reality, an emerging trend and one-less uncertainty is coming. Most significantly, this solves a cash-availability/liquidity issue for some home buyers who can use their home equity to guarantee the deposit. There is something new on the horizon to speed/simplify this process. DepositRocket is a new product gaining traction in some markets. The Australian firm offers a guarantee (for a fee, of course, and terms/rules/criteria) based on the equity in a buyer’s current home; available in all provinces except Quebec. This is ‘new in Canada’, but likely gain traction. And to be clear – I don’t endorse this product and have no connection to them; I’m just reportin’ the news …
+ B.C. government offering a rebate program for electric and hydrogen-powered trucks and buses
+ sign up CLICK HERE for FACILITYCalgary – a weekly e-NEWSLETTER of news, commentary & perspective – financings, deals – commercial real estate, infrastructure, oil & gas; archived issues and archived interviews
+ Green Loan Principles in Real Estate finance – great article from Blakes
+ I live near Fish Creek Park – so I’m walking in the park daily. I LOVE the park. I’ll be reporting each month on ‘goings-on’ in the park, but also focusing on issues impacting value and demand for park-edge communities. COVID-times are putting greater emphasis on outdoor safe activities, which has made walking, cycling, and running far more popular. Birders are busy too. Access to the park is not just a ‘nice to have’ in the area, but it’s a bump-up in value.
+ if you use the park, consider joining/supporting the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society – they do great work and have fantastic programs for children of all ages to learn about nature
FOR SALE - Calgary downtown - Eau Claire Estates
+ 2 bedroom condo in Eau Claire Estates; 1,740 sq. ft. in one of Calgary’s finest icons, concierge services, 24/7 onsite security - $455,000JUST REDUCED TO $440,000 – email me to arrange a showing:
CLICK HERE for our client's love-letter to the apartment - a MUST READ!
+ preparing to sell isn’t usually a snap-judgement, because most people take a long while to get to that state of readiness – so a policy of ‘fix it when it breaks,’ and routine maintenance is an excellent habit to establish
+ sales of homes has been robust lately – but also more challenging to get deals closed than many of us remember in quite some time. Part of that is ‘emotions are running high for both buyers and sellers’, and little things, particularly deficiencies the arise from home inspections can cause delays, anguish and negotiating disadvantages. In short, I’d rather see a client fix a $500 problem in advance of listing than pay a much larger negotiation-adjustment later on …
GLOSSARY - monthly topic
+ in this section, each month I will discuss an industry term/jargon/acronym – this month property tax assessments
+ property tax assessments are not tax bills, but they impact how big that bill will be when it arrives in June; there are two key elements many people don’t understand. The first is that assessment for property taxes relates only to the real estate – it has no relevance to how many kids you have in school, how often the police or ambulances visit, or how many people live in the house – each of those is irrelevant in determining the assessment of for adjusting it. The rationale of property tax assessments relates to value, and currently, in Alberta, that means market value. He/she who has the more expensive property pays more, full stop. There are exceptions, but few. The second area, which is frequently misunderstood by those who elect to appeal their property tax assessment, is their misunderstandings of the jurisdiction of Assessment Review Boards (you might remember them as Courts of Revision). These boards have clear and unambiguous latitude in their authority. They can’t reduce tax assessments based on passionate arguments, hardship, or the market. If properties are incorrectly valued, if adverse neighbourhood influences are not adequately addressed by the assessors, or if the ‘facts’ the municipality has on file are inaccurate (i.e. size, degree of interior improvements, obsolescence etc.) If you are appealing your assessment without using a professional service, you should be prepared to provide verifiable evidence and argue your case about things the board has authority to deal with; otherwise, you’ll be frustrated. On another note, for condominiums, the market value is not the only element – the ‘unit factor’ for units in a project is generally used to determine assessments in a building; in other words, the market value applied to the entire project by assessors is derived from previous year’s sales data, converted to a unit factor/rate, and then calculated for reach unit in the project without regard to post-construction improvements and renovations.  
+ next month, I’ll discuss GST in real estate transactions – what/when/how/ouch! … stay tuned
HOME SEARCH APP - shop all MLS via this phone APP
+ a cool tool: something more binge-worthy than some Netflix offerings - try our on-your-phone MLS search tool. Drive-by any sign, or find properties anywhere surfing from your phone, check it out – contact for more information or to book a showing. Get it here. By the way, you don’t have to drive – do your ‘virtual searching’ from the comfort of your easy-chair, check out listings in Calgary and anywhere your fingers want to wander - with quick links to get further information or to set up a showing. Seriously - all you need is your fingers and phone - you can see any MLS listing in the country including virtual tours. Check out anything you are curious about - for your next home, for your vacation home, or to compare your home to others - it's a great way to validate your sense of values and quality. Any 12 yr. old can do this, so if you don't have a 12 yr. old, give me a call and I'll help you with it.
+ housing starts up country-wide, but slowed in Alberta in November – Alberta starts down in November
+ slips and falls send people to the emergency room and sometimes cause homeowners to consult their insurance policies; the best insurance for not having a slip, fall, or a lawsuit is to clean your walks and driveways – especially accumulated ice and ruts from intermittent melting. The onus on walkers is to tread carefully, which is no guarantee we won’t fall. Let’s all try to keep our walks bare, dry, and safe to walk – and spread the snow-melt, sand or kitty litter – the broken-hip or ankle you save may be your own.
+ the stats bear-out the bragging – good homes are selling fast, prices are strong, and the ratio of new listings to sales is healthier for the seller than it has been in years; not so for the condo market generally where supply is high and prices had slumped pre-COVID and have not been buoyant. There is a silver lining in that for some owners who are down-sizing from house to a condo, where selling high and buying low is possible. Having said that, we also often see the big ‘average’ house sold and the small ‘expensive’ condo purchased … but that’s OK, it’s your house, it’s your money, and everybody wants it the way they want it. Now, perhaps more than ever. Another trend we are seeing, with the ‘work from home’ being extended and perhaps a way of life for more people, the right-size home and home-office set up needs re-thinking – particularly with kids schooling from home too. We aren’t seeing an exodus to large acreage properties, a perhaps oversupplied segment of the market, but we are certainly seeing a strong market in Canmore …
+ Canadian home sales for October historically strong, and continued in November, and the forecast for 2021 looks strong
+ Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB)Calgary-city market report for December – and Calgary-region stats;  7th month in a row with year-over-year gains – best December since 2007!
+ CREA  - market snapshot for November shows strong volume and pricing across the country; link to reach all-Canada Housing Market Stats
+ housing starts up country-wide, but slowed in Alberta in November – Alberta starts down in November
+ OPEN HOUSES are now canceled under new restrictions for Albertans; showings are allowed by appointment only provided COVID-protocols are followed and everyone must wear a mask; current RECA guidelines
PROPERTY LINES - monthly news
+ sign up CLICK HERE for PROPERTYlines monthly newsletter focused on commercial real estate both locally and across Canada in industrial, commercial, investment, multi-family, hospitality, and infrastructure real estate; JANUARY issue - archived issues
REAL ESTATE LICENSING and regulatory news
+ regulation and control of licensing in real estate in Alberta is handled by the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), an NGO delegated by the Government of Alberta to enforce the Real Estate Act and regulations; in the course of renewing licenses, all agents are required to renew their errors and omissions insurance (E&OE) which is handled by REIX – which means, in practical terms, your agent cannot renew his/her license without having their ongoing educational requirements in place AND having their professional insurance in place. Licensing for brokerages and agents they employ is renewed at September 30th every year; you can find your agents/confirm licensing under the Find A Professional tab
+ RECA held elections pursuant to the new act: elected and appointed Board and Industry Councils members announced
+ REIX (formerly AREIX) will be celebrating its 30th year in 2021; a job well done! I served on the REIX advisory board for five years and the claims committee for three years – and I’ve been watching the REIX program as a practitioner for that whole. The industry has reliable E&OE coverage and our clients and professionals rely on that strong foundation. Most notably, REIX staff help agents get better, which results in fewer mistakes, fewer disputes – and fewer claims.
+ the Government of Alberta amended the Real Estate Act [Real Estate Amendment Act 2020] and made significant changes to the role of RECA, and installation of new officers and board members following an external review and industry consultation; the new legislation has been proclaimed and went into effect December 1, 2020
+ expected in the coming year: condominium project managers, not currently regulated by RECA, might be. Government, RECA and industry-wide discussions are ongoing …
REALLY COOL HOUSES in other places
+ a compact Toronto house worth a look
+ not so much ‘cool’ as ‘incredible/bizarre/time-travel’, do you remember the McGuire sisters? The late and infamous Phyllis McGuire’s house in Las Vegas is part museum …
+ you don’t have to be Finnish to plan a sustainable cabin; an ultimate small cabin in the woods
+ beware those ceiling fans with flying blades - Home Depot has issued a recall
+ prefabricated energy-efficient panels have their place in refurbishing ageing housing stock
SMART HOMES / tech news / I.O.T. ...
+ tax assessment notices are coming out in many jurisdictions across the country; if you think yours is too high, maybe you should appeal. If it’s dropped, that’s not necessarily horrible – the key issue is whether it is fair relative to comparable properties. Check with your neighbours, or call me. I’m always happy to help if I can.
+ digital connectivity for remote workers
+ does it make sense to go fully remote?
+ how to beat the January blues
+ navigating digital connectivity for the distributed workforce
+ will working from home trends impact real estate in 2021? From choices to renovations, to adjusting lifestyles, the industry is starting to get a grip on what people are doing; great article by Carolyn Ireland
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In my work in this industry, and in this publication, my communication with clients and customers is predicated on the notion that more information is better than less information, and answers are important. A lot of the time people aren’t sure what questions to ask --- so hopefully, this publication will fill some gaps.
In my experience, both buyers and sellers want information and transparency; I can’t remember anyone saying they wanted to best salesman. In fact, industry surveys show the number one complaint buyers and sellers have about agents is that they don't return phone calls promptly! Who knew? ... we all do, and right now we are more aware than ever that staying in touch and working together, being on the same page in our desire for the best outcome, is to work together.

People tend to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Buying or selling a home is, for most people, their most valuable asset and there are plenty of emotions attached to every decision. In our 2020 environment, those emotions seem to be cranked up a couple of notches for everyone …
WORK WANTED! .... listings, buyers, sellers - I want to talk to you!
~ call me to discuss your requirements: Mark Kolke, 403-444-6939
~ or email me:

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Mailing address is: c/o Mark Kolke, 6204B Burbank Road SE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2H 2C2

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