On top of the Market Tue, 30 May 2017 18:47:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to minimize your property taxes Tue, 14 Jun 2016 21:35:30 +0000 (How to minimize your property taxes continued...)]]> Sometimes you can fight City Hall and win, but only if you do your homework. That scenario is especially true when it comes to receiving your property tax assessment, which tells you how much tax you’ll be owing the city in a given year. If you have reason to believe that the assessment is higher than you expected it to be, you may have grounds to appeal and if successful, save up to hundreds of dollars that would otherwise have left your pocket.

First, you need to understand how homes are assessed. In Calgary, the city assesses your property each year effective on the July 1 date of valuation. The figure on your notice is based on your property’s estimated market value (or how much it would have been worth to sell) exactly a year ago. It also takes into account any changes in the real estate market since then and the condition of your property six months later on Dec. 31. The process is much the same across Canada, although valuation periods may be different. In Toronto, for example, the valuation date is Jan. 1.

Other contributing factors going into a valuation include renovations, quality and age of the home, type of structure and proximity to heavy traffic areas and various community services. Those are a lot of variables to consider, some of which may distort the assessment value of your home.

If you have reason to believe that the assessment is too high, contact the city during the 60-day customer review period outlined on your notice for additional information on appealing. Some concerned citizens also hire appraisal experts, although this is one appeal most homeowners can easily handle.

One of the easiest ways to appeal is to contact a Realtor to provide information on the value of homes sold in your neighborhood the previous year. The Realtor will take into account homes similar to yours in appearance and value and consider such factors as square footage (within 100 sq. ft.), type of dwelling (bungalow, two-storey, condominium, etc.) and property size. You’ll then be provided with profiles of similar dwellings to strengthen the legitimacy of your appeal. Submit your documents to the city and within weeks, a reappraisal should arrive in the mail.

You can also visit online to check information about your neighborhood and follow up by contacting the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation ( and request a comparable properties report on the assessed values of six similar homes in your area (If you need more than six, be prepared to pay a fee.).

Be prepared to back up your appeal with a copy of your home appraisal from your lender and information from your Realtor. Finally, go back to, download the request for consideration form online, fill it out and take all your evidence to the city. The more thorough you are with your appeal, the greater the chances your property taxes will come down.

For advice on buying, selling and other items related to residential and commercial properties, contact a Realtor at 403-444-9198.

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To Flip or Not To Flip Tue, 15 Dec 2015 19:10:39 +0000 (To Flip or Not To Flip continued...)]]> Watching people buy some property and deciding to flip it to make a few extra thousand dollars seems to be pretty easy, when you’re watching it on TV. Some shows seem to give you the impression that all you need is a coat of paint on some walls, a shrub or two in front, and a few nails hammered into some rickety stairs are all you need to unload a home for profit right after you’ve bought it. But in reality, the truth about flipping a home isn’t all that easy.

Many experts in property investment like to tell homeowners who want to make a profit out of their purchase to exercise caution before deciding to sell the investment.

Merely sprucing up the place isn’t going to be enough. If you live in an area where vacancy rates are less than the benchmark five percent, you’re better off renting out the place for a while as you wait for market values to increase over time, especially if you bought property at a time when the economy has been shaky. You benefit from additional monthly income over time to help pay off the mortgage, buy some more time to renovate if required and make an even more substantial gain in the future when the right market conditions surface to justify selling.

There’s always a chance that if you try to flip a home almost immediately, you won’t exactly have buyers lining up outside your door and may wind up hanging onto the home longer than you planned. That’s especially the case if the house was priced so cheaply because people simply don’t want to live there, which will certainly play havoc with any appreciating market value.

People who flip houses for a living often map out a more realistic timeline for buying, owning and selling their property. They evaluate real estate market conditions before taking the plunge on buying. But that’s after they’ve taken into account not only the purchase price, but also financing, maintenance, renovations and taxation.

If you make $20,000 on a quick flip and subtract $10,000 in renovations and what you may owe the bank during that time, you’ve got $10,000 left, until it gets eaten up by taxes. Those who hold onto the property much longer benefit from paying capital gains taxes which offers a lower rate than what you’d receive after a quick flip.

However, if you’ve considered these factors, here’s another tip: buy in areas that are developing. A neighborhood with a lot of infill projects under way and a new complex or strip malls for everything from restaurants to retailers under construction is certainly a hot location to find a home, which will likely increase in value over time. As well, make sure all renovations are up to code, consider all the building permits you need and keep in mind any other improvements from front-lawn landscaping to an exterior paint job to boost curb appeal.

Also seek the expertise of a Calgary realtor such as David Tsegai who knows where and when to buy, as well as other handy resources to make your purchase less stressful. Call him at 403-383-0416.

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Thinking of buying income property? Here’s what you should consider Mon, 07 Dec 2015 19:59:13 +0000 (Thinking of buying income property? Here’s what you should consider continued...)]]> Whether looking to purchase an income property as another revenue stream or to add to an investment and retirement portfolio, people who’ve taken this route have enjoyed economic security and financial stability. But taking those first steps to acquire property assets can be scary, unless you do the math first, weigh the pros and cons of ownership and consider a wide range of factors.

Once you think you’re in a financial position to purchase, consider the market. The price of a home is obviously going to be one of the first considerations, but don’t jump at the opportunity to find a place with the lowest property value. Chances are, it’s cheap for a reason, especially if it’s in such poor condition, you might not realize a return on investment if you sink a lot of money renovating the unit. A home that’s been on the market for a long time is a good sign that even the most frugal investor doesn’t want to buy it. 

Besides price, another good signal for potential revenue through renting it out is in checking the vacancy rates across the city and comparing them to the national average. If it’s lower, that’s an indication that the housing market is attractive to renters. Such is the Case in Calgary, which in 2012, had the lowest vacancy rate in the country at 1.1%, twice as low as the national average. And despite the economic downturn of late, vacancy rates are still low. Keep an eye out for patterns of immigration and where they might be headed. A good resource to research such trends can be found on

Researching which neighbourhood to find your dream investment property will go a long ways towards realizing revenue once the title changes hands. If chain stores and strip malls are being built in the area, that’s a good sign those future businesses have already done much of the homework in assessing neighbourhood growth. Also look at proximity of the property to schools, churches, public transit and other services. If crime rates are high and the statistics indicate the neighbourhood is rather transitory, that’s a red flag against investing.

Also consider what type of home to buy. While the focus is starting to shift towards condos, single detached bungalows still lead the pack in appreciating value, increasing on average by 3.5% annually, while the rise in condo values is roughly around 2%. Still, revenue streams favour bungalows, where floor plans can be altered to incorporate extra rooms for rent, including a basement renovation to add another rental suite. Still, a lot of your decision will depend on the condition of the home as well as fees, mortgages and other costs.

Finally, to ensure your bases are completely covered, consult the expertise of a realtor who has considerable experience in property income investing. Such an expert will have access to such resources as property managers, lawyers, insurance advisers, accountants, home inspectors and other professionals fitting your needs.

Call our office at 403-444-9198 to realize your property investment opportunities.

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Buying Investment Properties from Calgary MLS® System Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:58:34 +0000 (Buying Investment Properties from Calgary MLS® System continued...)]]> mls
MLS® System

Is it possible to find a great deal on Calgary MLS® (multiple listing service) System? Yes, but it takes patience and the help of an experienced REALTOR®. Calgary real estate prices have been rising up until the end of 2014 and only few homes were available for sale, which made it harder to get a great deal from the MLS®. Our Investor Clients buy many properties to fix and flip and hold as rental properties and 90 percent of the purchases are from the MLS®. In 2014 we found 2% of the MLS® listings were priced 10%-15% below market. This year, the economic climate is expected to cool off the housing market, and it could create more opportunity for Real Estate Investors.

How do you find these great deals on MLS®? Most investors think that there are no good deals on the MLS® anymore and there is too much competition. Since the Multiple Listing Service is the main source for properties for sale, it is true that there are many people trying to get a great deal off the MLS®, but that doesn’t mean it is not possible. We just need to identify which listings are a great deal. Majority of Calgary Realtors have a way of detecting undervalued properties as soon as they hit the MLS and buyers can be notified immediately by email. Undervalued listings are not always foreclosures and foreclosures are not always a good deal. In fact, 97% of the foreclosure listings in 2014 were sold at market value or above.

What do you do once you are notified of these great deals? You act quickly! View the property immediately with your Real Estate Professional and draft up a reasonable offer. As anything else real estate good deals also don’t last long. Make sure you work with an Investor friendly REALTOR® that can show you the property quickly and present your offer possibly ahead of other buyers.

Undervalued MLS® listings are a great opportunity for Investors if you know the tactics of finding and buying them.

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Impact of Falling Oil Prices on Calgary Real Estate Market Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:19:58 +0000 (Impact of Falling Oil Prices on Calgary Real Estate Market continued...)]]> Alberta Oil
Alberta Oil

Oil prices have tumbled in the past couple of months, and the reasons are due to supply and demand. Alberta’s crude oil reserve is the third largest in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. 8% of the jobs in Alberta are directly related to energy and the indirect benefits of oil sands extend beyond Alberta’s borders, stimulating Canada’s economy.

From near $110 per barrel one year ago, the crude oil price has fallen to $54 per barrel. Alberta is producing oil like mad. Daily production in Alberta is about 2 million barrels, so over the next year, from September to September, producers in Alberta could lose $2.6 billion.

How do all these affect the real estate market in Calgary? So far the effects are nothing but psychological. Consumers are still making cautious purchases trying to get used to the daily news about declining oil prices. The short term impacts will be seen on prolonged sales time for midsized homes and high end homes which could lead in to higher inventory and lower prices.

Starter homes will be less impacted as rental rates are relatively high and the strong demand for affordable homes does not disappear overnight. The 2015 spring real estate market will reflect an overall increased inventory and steady housing prices.

Oil prices could hit as low as $45 per barrel by beginning of 2015 before it recovers to around $70 per barrel towards the beginning of summer. As long as depressed oil prices do not linger for a long period of time, the impact on the economy and the real estate market will be manageable.

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Investor Alert Wed, 18 Jun 2014 21:35:56 +0000 (Investor Alert continued...)]]> 2919 48 St NE
2919 48 St NE

INVESTOR ALERT!! INVESTOR ALERT!! INVESTOR ALERT!! There are many options for this outstanding 1350 sq ft bungalow. This property features 3 bdrms on the main floor with a double sided wood fireplace, large living room, and laminate floors. The good sized master has a 2 piece ensuite and double sliding doors that lead to the back deck/yard.

There is a self contained access to the basement that could easily be converted into a suite. A great fixer upper with a little work this property will look great.

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Municipal Property Assessment Wed, 27 Feb 2013 23:45:27 +0000 (Municipal Property Assessment continued...)]]> Tax Time
Tax Time

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the same might not be said about the value of your home in the eyes of a civic assessor. When the City of Calgary assesses your property in order to determine the value of your home and in turn, your share of municipal tax, there’s always the possibility of a distortion in how much your home is really worth and how much the tax will affect your household bottom line.

City formula

Conducted annually and following stipulations in the provincial government’s Municipal Government Act, the assessment conducted by the City of Calgary bases estimates on analysis of the real estate market and determines the market value of your property by July 1. The formula used to calculate your taxes is relatively simple. The assessed market value of your property is multiplied by a tax rate determined by the city’s budget, usually determined in April. Assessment notices are then mailed out informing you what your taxes will be as of July 1 of this year.

Independent appraisers estimate that for every $100,000 your home is worth on the real estate market means roughly $500-$600 of tax you might wind up paying the city. So far in 2013, the city, based on nearly half a million assessments already mailed out have determined that house and condo properties have increased by three percent over the year with the median value of a home estimated at $410,000 and condos pegged at $250,000. The city deduced that 57 per cent of residential properties will enjoy a taxation decrease, with 43 per cent will experience an increase. Only five per cent of properties assessed will increase or decrease by more than 10 per cent of 2012 taxes.

Economic reality

The problem with assessments, according to most realtors and independent appraisers, is the city’s estimates don’t reflect economic reality in the real estate market. For openers, 2013 appraisals are based on July 1, 2012 market values, and as figures released regularly by the Calgary Real Estate Board indicate, fluctuations present a different picture. As well, given that the city uses a sales comparison approach, their most common methods of assessing residential property, the assessor bases findings on market figures, and never even sees the properties being assessed. This fails to take into account any damage into the property, curb appeal, renovations or even the presence of additional assets like a detached garage.

An assessor may not even be using the accurate square footage in comparing value to other homes in the neighbourhood, which might further misrepresent the value of your home, which in turn spells an inaccurate amount of property taxes you may have to fork out annually. That’s because the city follows a mass appraisal process based on available statistics that don’t take into account individual characteristics of a property. To counter any uniform estimate, the city also uses multiple regression analysis before arriving at a final figure.

Evidence of inaccuracy

In Calgary, Realtor blogs are rampant with anecdotes of how property values of homes they listed and sold wavered from city assessments. Several Realtors observed that the use of the two models could create inaccuracies as high as 50 per cent. Even in a select neighbourhood. One side of the street may have homes assessed up to seven per cent higher than real market value, while property across that same street may witness values decreased by that same percentage.

To ensure a more accurate portrayal of property values, residential home owners are advised to check the information about their home, from square footage to extent of renovations. They should also contact a local realtor who can provide statistics of the value of their homes sold on or around July 1 the previous year.

However, when it comes to balancing the value of your home versus the amount of tax you have to pay, you can’t have it both ways. A lower property value obviously means lower taxes, but it may also have a detrimental effect on your equity, and vice versa. For more information on how assessments may affect you, visit the City of Calgary online at

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Investment Tip of the week – Mckenzie Bungalow Sat, 23 Feb 2013 20:07:10 +0000 (Investment Tip of the week – Mckenzie Bungalow continued...)]]> Mckenzie Bungalow
Mckenzie Bungalow

This Beautiful 1092 sq ft 3 bedroom bungalow is located at 827 Mckenzie DR SE. Main floor is completely renovated with new paint and flooring. Comfortable living and dining area is open to kithen and bay window. Spacious kitchen has white cabinets and granite counter tops.

Large master bedroom, two additional good sized bedrooms and 4 piece bath are on the main floor. This home offers updated windows of good quality and newer high efficiency furnace.

Two piece bath and some development started in the basement. A vehicle sized gate off lane allows access to rear yard. Home has lake privileges.

Great opportunity for first time buyer or an investor, offered at $339,900.

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The Fate of Low Mortgage Rates Wed, 20 Feb 2013 01:41:10 +0000 (The Fate of Low Mortgage Rates continued...)]]> Mortgage Rates
Mortgage Rates

As the economy slowly crawls back to almost equaling the plateau it achieved five years ago, when the stock market crashed and the Eurozone kerfuffle plunged the financial world into chaos, one major issue ranking high on the scuttlebutt circuit surrounds what will happen to mortgage rates. It makes sense, since the housing and construction markets are primary indicators of the economy’s direction.

Many homeowners have benefited from the reduction in the rates over the years, particularly five-year fixed closed rates, which were as high as six per cent 10 years ago and have since dropped to more than half by the end of 2012. An even longer-term picture shows that current rates are barely a third of what they were even 20 years ago.

And those who’ve been shopping around since the beginning of 2013 can have their pick of even lower offerings from mortgage brokers and the big banks, which have been offering incentives as low as three per cent. Holders of variable mortgage rates, which at this writing enjoyed a range from 2.6 to 3.6 per cent in Calgary, are also breathing easy, while anticipating that the rates don’t climb anytime soon.

At this point, that’s not likely to happen. With the Bank of Canada rate at a record low hovering around the one-per cent mark and amid predictions that Gross Domestic Product will slowly crawl up to roughly two per cent, there’s no incentive to jack the rates up. That’s good news for first-time buyers, faced with tighter federal mortgage financing laws, and looking at existing rates as a way to handle payments in the wake of rising house prices.

Current homeowners will also enjoy the rates, making it easier to get a handle on their mortgages. Since interest is normally the first component of a mortgage that’s eventually paid off, a lower rate mean that their principal will be easier to tackle. And according to the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, a record one-third of Canada’s six million mortgage holders Canadians are actually ahead of the curve when it comes to their payments.

Ironically, this is all happening when the average Canadian consumer debt is just below $26,000, cited a report by credit bureau TransUnion. The report, which excluded mortgages, stated that car purchases and renovations were two major sources of debt, financed by credit cards and lines of credit.

Arguably, lower mortgage rates are easier on the pocketbook and would allow consumers enough flexibility to pay off their credit cards. But should the rates start increasing, homeowners face a slippery slope in terms of repayment leverage. Many financial experts state households should be more financially savvy in terms of they should be spending their money and measuring their payments against existing cash flow for starters. Examining the interest in repaying lines of credit and credit cards as well as their mortgages is also strategically smart in terms of prioritizing what debt needs to be dealt with.

Even in Calgary, the strongest economy in Canada, it helps to plan ahead.

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Rent to Own Becoming more Popular Thu, 14 Feb 2013 19:03:20 +0000 (Rent to Own Becoming more Popular continued...)]]> Agreement for Sale
Agreement for Sale

Regardless of the standard of living in Calgary, consumers have had to contend with two recently emerging factors that could jeopardize their chances of owning a home.

For openers, rising housing prices have been a consideration for a few years, although the average price of a family home in Calgary at the beginning of 2013 was $496,579 – slightly lower than its Toronto equivalent at $558,345 and less than half the price of a detached bungalow in Vancouver.

The other factor concerns the federal regulation of mortgage lending standards, which not only shortened the amortization period by five years to 25, it also reduced the equity level a consumer can borrow against a home’s value from 85 to 80 per cent. The increase in monthly mortgage payments and a shorter ceiling on borrowing limits can potentially shut out a significant number of potential home buyers.

One alternative that’s been receiving attention of late is the idea of rent-to-own, which enables residents to contribute an amount of monthly rent for a predetermined period (normally three years) with an option to eventually buy the home.

For sellers trying to unload a dwelling, exercising the rent-to-own option spells more potential customers interested in taking occupancy. And in the case of a sluggish economy, those trying to unload their homes face a new market of potential tenants to help contend with any decline in home values while keeping pace with payments. Charging fair market rent countervails the economic stress of a monthly mortgage on the place as well. Sellers are also off the hook for renovations costs, since a rent-to-own agreement not only makes tenants responsible for maintenance, including footing the bill ill for their own repairs – even during the initial rent-to-own agreement period.

If at the end of the initial period, tenants decide not to buy, sellers still have the option to list the home. The big payoff in such a case is the higher return a seller can receive on a house appreciating over time and the curb appeal of a dwelling if a tenant had repaired and renovated the premises.

For buyers overwhelmed by housing prices and tighter mortgage rules, going the rent-to-own route is an opportunity to bypass the amount of cash needed for a down payment. The option is welcome news for families with bad credit history, job losses, or those who spent much of their savings migrating to the city. Avoiding the down payment in a rent-to-own allows those buyers to fix their credit history and grow their savings. Opting for rent-to-own is also easier than qualifying for a mortgage loan.

But buyers should also take into consideration that entering into a rent-to-own agreement includes putting down cash to cover the upfront option fee, usually about two per cent of the house’s value. That money goes towards the down payment of the house should the renter decide to buy the place upon conclusion of the rent-to-own period. If the tenant fails to cover rent each month or terminates the agreement before the period ends, that fee goes to the homeowner.

Still, despite these requirements, the risks surrounding a rent-to-own alternative are rather small, especially if low income is an issue. A local Realtor will also be willing to discuss additional amenities and disadvantages. 

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