First and foremost I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season and that you have fantastic plans brewing for your New Year's celebration. With the year literally days from being done, it is certainly time to leave 2016 and even more so 2015 in the rearview mirror. The economic downturn affected many families and businesses in various disciplines but I am hopeful that 2017 will be the turnaround year that we have all been yearning for and with that may come the desire to sell your home.  Regardless if this is your first time or your fifth time in selling your abode in Calgary, there are many tips and tricks you can easily do to prepare your home to ensure you show off its best features and qualities. So, I have decided to postpone today's planned annual Calgary Real Estate review until January when all final stats will be out for 2016, and instead I have compiled a list of tips for home preparations that I have found to be the most important. 


1.  Choosing the right realtor

Naturally, you may think I am going to say choose me, but of course that would be too easy.  I do honestly suggest picking a realtor who has your best interests set as his or her priority.  Choose one who knows the area, has interest in the area, has previously worked in your neighborhood of choice, and one who can leverage all the details in the area such as amenities, schools, and transportation.  I may or may not be your chosen realtor however I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you if you are thinking of selling.


2.  Pricing it right

It is important to determine fair market value based on location, size, condition, finishing's, floorplan etc.  Too many realtors simply look at square footage and multiply by the neighborhood average to derive the listing price.  For many, selling a home is the largest transaction of one's life therefore more thought should be put into the pricing process.  Do not use your City of Calgary assessed value as they are simply based on a general mill rate (ie., multiplication factor) for the area.


3. The kitchen comes first

Think of it as you’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops, but a prospective buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style.


4. Lights, Camera, Action

Maximize the light in your home.  After location, good light is one thing that every buyer states they want in a home. Take down obstructing window coverings, clean the windows inside and out, replace all light bulbs to daylight white (the photographer will thank you), and let the natural light shine in. A home with good lighting feels larger and more expansive to potential buyers.  This is also true with how our home is represented in photos. It is important for a professional photographer to have consistent lighting as it means less photo processing afterwards and will show a true representation of the space and colors.


5. Declutter and De-personalize

This is a very important point- the more personal stuff in your home, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living in there.  Remove family photos, personal keepsakes and remove a third of your extra items.  Put things in storage, because as cliche as it may be, out of sight is truly out of mind.  Home stagers are amazing at envisioning what a space can be transformed into by simply moving a few things around, adding certain colour accents and drawing focus to where it needs to be.  


6. Conceal the pets

Although I love animals, it doesn't mean that every potential buyer shares the same sentiment.  Not everyone is a dog- or cat- lover.  Buyers don't want to walk into your home and see a bowl of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes.  It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean.  Try to keep the evidence of animals at a minimum throughout the home. You may need to shampoo the carpets to remove the animal odour from your home, and thought it is time-consuming, it is a worthwhile investment.


7. Half-empty closets

Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what's left in there. Be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.


8. Keep it clean

Your house needs to be "show-ready" at all times.  This can be difficult with 2 kids, 2 dogs and a busy schedule but you never know when a potential buyer is going to request a showing.  Do your best to keep things tidy, don't leave dishes in the sink before going to work, make the beds in the morning, leave the bathrooms clean and get rid of any obvious dust built-up in the corners.  If you employ the "clean as you go" method, it won't be so daunting and keeping your home clean will be rather achievable.  


9. Capitalize on the first impression

Lastly, buyers start judging your home the moment they step out of their realtor's car.  It is important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house.  Focus on your curb appeal, a few shrubs, flowers or feature items can go a long way.  Entryways are also important.  You may use it as a utility space for your coat and keys.  However, when you're selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench and a vase of fresh-cut flowers.

 

This may seem like an intimidating 'To-Do' list however it is important to put the effort in prior to putting your home on the market.  Never assume that a potential buyer is going to look past a deficiency or clutter.  My real estate services include a consultation with a home stager that can help you getting your home prepared.  If you would like to discuss listing your home, please do not hesitate to contact me via email, phone, or through my social media channels. Tune in next week as we resume our profiling of neighborhoods in Calgary's WestSide and feature the community of Apsen! 



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This week we take a break from profiling the neighborhoods in Calgary's Westside to discuss the topic of moving during the holidays. We all feel December is busy enough as it is-the end of the calendar years looms and deadlines are blaring, the kids are finishing projects before they pause for school holidays, Christmas parties are ramping up, and all of your Christmas errands are flashing red with urgency. Given all that, this year however, you have also decided to throw in a house move into the mix simply because you feel idle if you don't feel challenged enough. So, what to do and where to begin?! 

 

Moving is stressful enough already on its own, so to minimize compounded stress when moving during the holidays, we've compiled some thoughts and ideas after talking to former clients who have literally just moved this month. So, as you deck the halls with packaged boxes, take a break to sip some egg nog and read some of our tips which will hopefully help you transition with ease and still enjoy the holidays. 

 

First and foremost, decide on your move date as early as possible. This will set your time frame for everything and will make your organization much much simpler. Once you have your move date, you can book your movers and take care of address changes (you don't want to miss out on Christmas cards being delivered!), inform your utility company of all your switches, and arrange for any deliveries to either the old or new address. It sounds simple enough but do get started on this early because compiling a list of places to inform of address changes is like unraveling a ball of yarn!

 

As you sort through your house to prep for the move, ensure all your Christmas decorations are packed and set aside together so that they're one of the first things you unpack in your new home. Decorating for the holidays and settling in will soften the burden of feeling like you have so much to do and will hasten the feeling of being home in your new place! Do the same for any gifts you may have already purchased and set them aside from the plethora of your boxes-starting your Christmas shopping early is a good idea if you know you will be moving in December.

 

If you can afford to hire movers, book them early. Do your research in hiring a reputable mover-perhaps you heard about the dodgy moving company that has seemingly duped a former Calgarian with her possessions that was in the Calgary Herald this week. Good movers can take a huge stress off your shoulders and because they are so experienced, they can be swift and reliable. If you cannot hire movers, secure reliable family members and friends to help you out with the move. Be clear on your time commitments and restraints, and ensure all your materials for packing such as boxes, tape, markers or stickers for labeling boxes and bubble wrap/newspaper are ready. 

 

It's December which means you can't fight the elements and there will probably be snow. Ensure your driveway, sidewalk and front steps are clear of snow and salted, if icy. This will be easier for your movers and yourself, as you will be going back and forth all the time. Have hot drinks ready too-everyone will appreciate a warm beverage after coming in from the cold.

 

While packing up, play some holiday music in the background. This will lift your spirits and help you so you don't feel like the festive season skipped you this year because of being so busy. Buy some holiday snacks to munch on so that you can still celebrate, despite packing.

 

Find out specifics at your new place in regards to recycling, bin collection, and more. When you start unpacking, especially if you do the unpacking yourself, you will want to get rid of boxes to clear clutter as soon as possible. As a nice gesture to the new owners of your former home, leave them a note with similar information because they will be in the same situation as you.

 

Don't be afraid to ask family for help. Yes, it is a busy time as everyone is caught up in the whirlwind of the holiday preparations, but they will also want to help you settle in. A former client shared with us this week that when she moved into her new home a week ago, she asked her father to come and be in charge of hanging up all pictures and paintings on moving day. This let her get items out of boxes and off the ground, and also let her feel settled in because the walls weren't blank. It was his only job and it helped her immensely. She also gave her sister a grocery list with her debit card, so that her cupboards and fridge would be stocked up, all while she continued unpacking. Such small tasks benefit you the most in the end. 

 

Above all else, remember you are making progress every day even if you don't feel like it. We hope your transition from your old home to your new home is as stress-free as possible and that despite all the changes, you are able to enjoy the holidays and festivities as much as possible. Happy moving, and we wish you all a wonderful, warm and Merry Christmas!

 

 

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Another week, another community to profile on the Westside. This week, we move a little more south and begin to zoom in on the three neighborhoods known as Springside, West Springs, and Wentworth, but all collectively known as West Springs in the real estate sector, and with the City of Calgary. This group of communities represents a fairly large portion of the communities on the hill as their geographic location is nestled in the center of so many amenities. Let's begin!

 

As seen from the map below, West Springs straddles both sides of 85th street and to the north is bordered by Old Banff Coach Road, to the south there is Bow Trail. To the west, 93rd street separates West Springs from the larger acreages and Lots of Springbank, and to the east, the extrapolation of 69th street and Coach Hill Road separate this community from Coach Hill. Annexed to the City of Calgary from the MD of Rockyview in 1995 and officially established as a community in 2001, the dynamism of this still-growing and changing community makes it very attractive and appealing.

 

 

Very generally, homes are older on the east side and trend younger and more expensive as you head west and cross 85th Street into the Wentworth segment of the group, however this a general characterization because there are still many younger and expensive developments taking place on the eastern flanks of West Springs, such as The Rise at West Grove Estates. On the western edges, Wentworth is typically characterized to be more of the estate portion of the community and is composed of 5 units-Wentworth, The Willows of Wentworth, Wentworth Estates, Wexford Estates, and Wentworth Glen.

 

From the latest census of 2014 that we use to pull all our facts, there are just over 9,000 people living in the community. Out of this population, it is very evident that the majority of inhabitants are young families because almost one-third, 31% of the population, is under the age of 15. Sixty percent of inhabitants are between 20-64 years of age, making this a community that is still growing and growing. There are just under 3,000 dwellings in the community, where 93% of these 2,856 dwellings are occupied by owners. Such a high rate of owner-occupation makes this community very attractive. 

 

Just over three-quarters, 77%, of dwellings are Single-family homes, followed by Townhomes at 17% and Duplex's at 6%. The median age is 35, and the median total household income in West Springs charts in at $130,013.00. According to CREB, the YTD single family detached sold price for 2016 is $774,619, and for attached homes, the YTD for 2016 is $459,140. At the time of publishing, there are currently 18 homes listed on the market, with an average list price of $1,198,872, and the price ranges for 2016 for detached homes starts at $470,000 to $1,870,000. For attached homes, the price ranges for 2016 reflect prices that start at $311,300 and go to $1,130,000. It is clear that West Springs truly has something to offer to everyone, regardless of your budget! More information on the details and specifics of West Springs can be found by clicking here to reference the data compiled by the City of Calgary. 


Crime is relatively low as seen on the crime statistic map compiled over the last 6 months, with car thefts and car break-ins being the most common occurrence. Even this week we have been hearing from people who are experiencing more and more car break-ins which are an unfortunate trend happening all over the city in these times. Remember to lock your cars at night and don't leave your garage door opener behind!

 

Much like Cougar Ridge, Patterson, and Coach Hill, West Spring's placement in the city is ideal to access the mountains and downtown, whatever your needs! The C-train terminal is easily accessed by car or bus service, and for specific transit information, please access the City of Calgary Transit site here. The nearest fire station is again the Coach Hill one, however the newer station further down on 69th Street is also very close. Rockyview and Foothills Hospitals are close and quickly reached, and in the community itself there are many doctor's offices, dentists, pharmacies, grocery stores, and more, all within a short walk or even shorter drive. For West Springs and essentially all the neighborhoods on the West Side there is even a Diagnostic Imaging center in the heart of Aspen Landing where you can have Ultrasounds, X-Rays, Mammograms, and Bone Density scans done. Click here to see all the services and amenities offered in the heart of West Springs-everything you need is really within reach!

 

Because West Springs is so densely populated with kids and young families, schools have been an issue in the past regarding the public and separate Catholic sector. All kids living in West Springs can attend the public West Springs School elementary school, grades K-4. In January 2017, the newly built West Ridge School which is literally a stone's throw from West Springs School will open up and will encompass grades 5-9-all kids in West Springs and Cougar Ridge will be able to attend. Having this K-9 continuum for students in the community will make their transitions seamless and easy. Until now, the overflow of students from West Springs have been going to Wildwood, Rosscarrock, Vincent Massey and Olympic Heights. In the separate Catholic district, St. Joan of Arc has been the designated school within the neighborhood, however, they too have experienced serious over-registration and hence tightened their restrictions in recent years. Overflow of students in the Catholic district have been sent to St. Michael's School further down on Bow Trail. Our sources have informed us the weight on St. Joan of Arc will lessen when the new separate school opens up in Aspen for September 2017Senior schools in the area are Ernest Manning for public, Bishop Carrol or St. Mary's High School in the separate district. 

 

Naturally, there are also various private schools in the area to choose from for all grades and they are listed below:

Rundle College

Webber Academy

Waldorf School

Calgary French and International School

Ambrose University 

Edge School 

Menno Simons Christian School 

 

Places of worship are the same as as for our other profiled communities and there are many to choose from in the area. St. Michael's Catholic Church, the Bethel United Reformed Church, and the New Apostolic Church are the largest. A short drive south towards 17th Avenue, there is the Calgary Islamic Centre and there is also the Korean Presbyterian Church. 


As mentioned on the Cougar Ridge profile, the West Springs Cougar Ridge Community Association is very active in the area, for which membership is optional but valuable. At $25.00/year, individual members enjoy discounted pricing to events such as community ski/snowboard night at Canada Olympic Park, Learn to Skate programs at WinSport, up to date information on events that relate to kids in the community, discounts to sponsored shops in the area, and more! There is also a Wentworth Resident's Association which is responsible for maintaining green spaces in Wentworth, and where according to their website, the annual fee is $200.00/year for each residence.

 

Historically speaking and to end, West Springs history is extrapolated from the history of the Paskapoo Slopes where the land in the general vicinity was used as sweat pits, Bison hunting grounds/kill sites, and camp sites by Native Americans. It would be truly incredible to get a glimpse of these streets as fields in the past and to hear their story. That brings us to the end of this week's community profile-as always, feel free to inquire about West Springs or anything else on our site!

 

Mark

 

 

 

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This week on our profile of Calgary's Westside, we are focusing on Coach Hill and Patterson simultaneously because both neighborhoods share similar origins and characteristics.


The two maps below reflect their geographical locations on the Westside. Patterson is bordered by Sarcee Trail on the east, Old Banff Coach Road in the south, and steps to the northwest along 69th Street. Coach Hill is just south of Patterson, is somewhat triangular shaped and is bordered by Old Banff Coach Road, Bow Trail, and on the west side, Coach Hill Road. Both neighborhoods are essentially a generation older than last week's feature of Cougar Ridge-Coach Hill was established in 1979 and Patterson followed suit in 1983, however Patterson is still experiencing some development on the northern edges at The Point . Heading north towards 16th avenue and further down the Paskapoo slopes, a new community is being currently established. In case you're wondering what all the construction is about around Sarcee Trail and 16th Ave, preparations are underway for Trinity Hills, which promises to be a dynamic urban village. 


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Demographically speaking, both neighborhoods are definitely more mature. According to the last census of 2014, just over 4300 people live in Patterson, and here 68% of the population are between 20-64 years of age. Conversely, only 13% of people are below the age of 15 and this contrasts sharply with last week's Cougar Ridge profile where 30% of their community population are under 15 years of age. Furthermore in Patterson, 14% of the population is over 65 years of age -in Cougar Ridge, only 3% of the inhabitants are over 65 years of age. In Coach Hill, 65% of the 3303 population are between 20-64 years, 15% are over 65 years of age, and 16% are under 15 years.


Both communities are overwhelmingly English-speaking, where only a fraction of the population (Patterson, 2%; Coach Hill, 1%) do not speak English. In terms of owner-occupied dwellings, Coach Hill reflects 85% of owner-occupation where as Patterson comes in lower at 77%. The types of structure-types in Patterson are almost roughly equally split three ways among single-family (28%), apartment (33%), or townhomes (31%). In Coach Hill, we see a difference because 44% of the structure types are single-family, 16% apartment, and 34% as townhome. 

When looking at socio-economic demographics, a survey from 2010 declared that the median household income of private households in Patterson was found to be $92,251, which is above the City's rate of $81,256. Coach Hill ranks at $78,351. According to CREB, the average home price YTD for 2016 in Patterson was listed as $950,000 for single homes (new developments in the area do affect this home price) and $382,000 for attached homes. In Coach Hill, the YTD average home price is $598,000 for single homes and $320,000 for attached ones. (Just like last week, if you'd like more information than we've provided here, please click over to The City of Calgary's website which provides even more precise and analytical data for Patterson and Coach Hill).

Crime is also low in Patterson and Coach Hill, as depicted in the following images provided courtesy of the Calgary Police. 

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In terms of placement in the city, both these neighborhoods offer attractive and sought after proximity to the mountains, as well as easy access to downtown in excellent time. The C-Train terminal for 69th Street station is also a quick drive away and is also serviced by buses if you don't want to drive at all. Likewise, within the local area, there are some shops at the entrance into Patterson off Old Banff Coach Road, but with so many amenities nearby in Wentworth, Aspen or Westhills, both areas are very well serviced. A Fire Station is found within Coach Hill, which is great to have so close. Green spaces are aplenty and fill both neighborhoods, where these parks are often used by locals or sports teams in the area. Like all communities on the hill, Foothills Hospital or RockyView Hospital are closest in the event of medical urgency. 


Both communities have to send students to schools nearby as there are no schools in the immediate neighborhood. There are several schools designated for the communities, as mentioned in the list below (and found on this link):


Public System

Olympic Heights School *

Westgate Elementary (Fr. Immersion) *

Vincent Massey Jr. High *

Bishop Pinkham Jr. High (Fr. Immersion) *

Ernest Manning High School *

Western Canada High School *


Catholic District

John Costello *

Holy Name (French Immersion)*

St. Gregory (Middle School) *

St. Monica *

St. Michael Elementary/Jr. High  *

Bishop Carroll High School *

St. Mary's High School (Ext. French) *


There are also several private schools in the vicinity:

Menno Simons Christian School

Rundle College Jr/Senior High School

The Calgary French and International School

The Waldorf School

The Calgary Christian School

Webber Academy

Ambrose University College

Calgary Academy Collegiate

 

 

For places of worship, both communities have many to choose from in the area. St. Michael's Catholic Church just down 85th Street is very close, as is the Bethel United Reformed Church, and the New Apostolic Church. A short drive south towards 17th Avenue, there is the Calgary Islamic Centre and there is also the Korean Presbyterian Church. 


There is a cojoined community association that caters to residents in the area. Their website is very comprehensive and informative and offers details on community events and programs, city events, and details on amenities or services in the area. Membership is very economic, at $5.00.


Both of these communities have a rich history and also boast of landmarks famous in our city. The University of Alberta was originally supposed to be built on this hill, but in the end got moved north to Edmonton, where it is still obviously located today. The Patterson family owned much of the land as acreages years ago and when it was sold to the city, their family name was given to the community. Coach Hill was also called Broadcast Hill, and lastly, the historic brick home in the community was owned by the Crandel family. They were a very successful family who owned the first brick factory in Alberta, and where Edward Crandel was also an Alderman. Years later that home was sold to the Hart family, which everyone in the city is familiar with due to their legacy in the world of wrestling. 


Thanks for reading along this week as we move along Calgary's Westside. If you're in the market to look for a home in Calgary's Westside, most definitely give these two mature communities a drive through and as always, I'm happy to answer any further inquiries you may have! 


Mark.

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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.
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