American interest in Canadian real estate spikes as Donald Trump takes office

The Associated Press

A new report from Royal LePage suggests many Americans who oppose incoming president Donald Trump continue showing a desire to purchase property in Canada.

In a report released early Friday, the company says American web traffic on its website surged 329 per cent the day after the U.S. election on Nov. 8 and has climbed 210.1 per cent year-over-year the week after Trump’s victory.

For all of November, says Royal LePage, U.S. traffic to its site grew 73.7 per cent year-over-year compared to the same period in 2015 and rose 40.9 per cent annually in the fourth quarter.

During that three-month period, the report says American interest in real estate was primarily focused on Canada’s largest markets, with Ontario, B.C. and Quebec receiving 72.7 per cent of all U.S. regional page views on

Three-quarters of the American inquiries concerned residential properties.

Royal Lepage also says that in a survey of 1,226 of its real estate advisers between Jan. 12-17, 39.5 per cent say they expect U.S. interest in Canadian real estate to keep climbing under a Trump presidency.

“The United States was already a top source for immigration into Canada, and now in the period following the recent U.S. election, we are witnessing a material bump in American interest in Canadian real estate,” said Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper.

“With our country’s ever-growing global reputation as a financially sound, happy and culturally tolerant place to raise a family, it is not surprising that interest has moved from a place to play, to a potential place to live and work.”

Many Americans began looking north last year as Trump inched closer to the White House, as illustrated by a huge spike in web traffic on Canada’s citizenship and immigration website. The site crashed on Nov. 8 as results from the presidential election rolled in.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said there were more than 200,000 users accessing its website around 11 p.m. on election night and American IP addresses accounted for about half of that figure. At the same time the previous week, the website saw just over 17,000 users.

Source Article

Down payment help: What parents, kids should know before money is gifted

By Patricia Kozicka
National Online Journalist, Smart Living - Global News

High real estate prices and new mortgage rules designed to clamp down on risky lending have made it harder than ever for first-time buyers to own a home.

Desperate to break into the housing market, cash-strapped millennials are accepting massive financial help from parents in the form of “gifted” down payments.

The latest stats from Mortgage Professionals Canada show down payment gifts from parents have doubled since 2000 — going from seven per cent in 2000 to 15 per cent for homes purchased between 2014 and 2016.

“With the way the market’s gone over the last two or three years, there has been quite a surge in gifted down payments from family members,” said Toronto mortgage broker Darin Bauer of Mortgage Intelligence.

“If it was $20 or $30,000, I’d think, ‘Whatever, no big deal.’ But the gifts are huge now. They’re literally $100,000 to $200,000 sometimes.”

Vancouver mortgage broker Atrina Kouroshnia has also seen down payment help in the six figures. She hasn’t crunched her 2016 down payment numbers yet, but tells us half her clients who put at least 20 per cent down in 2015 had a portion of their down payment that was gifted, compared to 37.5 per cent of those who put less than 20 per cent down.

She and Bauer expect the trend to continue. James Laird, co-founder of RateHub (a site that compares mortgage rates), predicted earlier this month to Global News that 2017 will be “the most difficult year for a first-time homebuyer in the last [decade].”

The new stress test — designed to predict whether homeowners could shoulder their debt if interest rates or their personal finance situation were to change — means many of Kouroshnia’s first-time buyers who were previously approved for a high-ratio mortgage (which is when the down payment is less than 20 per cent) are completely out of the market now.

“To give you an example,” she said in an email, “my clients who were qualified for a purchase price of $450,000 and $410,000, now qualify for $380,000 and $340,000 with the same or even slightly higher down payment and the same income.”

That won’t get them much in Vancouver, where the average home cost more than $1.4 million in 2016. Kouroshnia thinks larger down payments will be the solution for some to “fill in the gap.”

What parents should consider

Bauer believes many parents refinance their homes to help their kids with down payments, which he thinks is very risky.

Even though they may think their house is worth a certain amount of money, if the market “corrects,” he explains, the price of their own home may go down and they will be on the hook for the equity they took out of it.

“The main thing people forget, is until you actually sell and cash out, you don’t have that money yet.

If generous parents opt to sell stocks or mutual funds to help their kids come up with the money, they could face a hefty tax bill depending on the amount. If they borrow the money, they will be charged interest and need to have a plan to pay it back.

Sometimes there are “unspoken family rules,” Kouroshnia tell us, where the child feels compelled to somehow return the money to his or her parents.

Lenders frown on money being lent rather than gifted “because it increases the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio,” Kouroshnia explains on her blog.

Another option is to sign as a guarantor on a child’s mortgage. There needs to be a lot of trust for the child if parents choose that route, cautioned Vancouver financial adviser Kristine Skinner of BlueShore Financial last May.

“You want to have an in-depth conversation with your children about what their monthly budget looks like,” Skinner said, “and their ability to absorb any unforeseen expenses and ensure that they’ve actually built that into their budget before agreeing to help them.”

Mortgage payments are only part of the cost of home ownership. Property taxes, utilities, insurance, condo fees, maintenance costs and emergency repairs all add up.

And Bauer points out property taxes and utility rates are only going up in already pricey markets like Toronto. Being house poor is not something anyone should strive for.

What first-time homebuyers should know

The first rule of accepting a gifted down payment is that it has to come from an immediate relative.

It’s also supposed to be a “genuine gift” that never has to be repaid, according to Karine LeBlanc, a spokesperson for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The family member gifting the money may be required to sign a letter confirming that. The lender might also verify bank records to confirm the amount of funds being transferred to the buyer.

If you’re buying a property with your partner, you might want to consider protecting the money you receive from your family.

Toronto family lawyer Andrew Feldstein says any gift that goes into a matrimonial home is subject to being divvied up, even if there’s a letter stipulating who the gift is for.

“Absent a pre-nup, you’re out of luck,” Feldstein warned.

He adds you can get a “single issue” pre-nup (which may cost you a couple thousand dollars) even after you’ve already tied the knot.

For self-employed applicants who are stating their income, Kouroshnia tells Global News, at least five per cent of the minimum 10 per cent down payment would need to come from the buyer’s own resources.

Something else to consider is that even with a gifted down payment, a lender will look at any prospective buyer’s complete financial picture. Good credit is always important.

“If the client has poor credit, no stability with income, and is getting the down payment 100 per cent as a gift, it would be hard for the lender to accept their mortgage application and may ask to have the parent on board as well,” she said.

Jeanette Brox, a senior financial consultant with Investors Group, says the best way to save for a down payment is to maximize RRSP contributions and put the resulting tax refunds toward a down payment fund.

Under the Home Buyers’ Plan, the government lets each first-time homebuyer make a one-time $25,000 RRSP withdrawal that can be used for a down payment. If you plan to buy property with a partner who’s also a first time buyer, that’s $50,000 right there.

You’ll have to repay the funds you took out of your RRSP within 15 years, starting two years from when the money was withdrawn.

Source Article

Airbag Pack Saves Whistler Snowboarder Caught in Avalanche

Be safe out there people!

January 12 - Yuliya Talmazan - Global News

A snowboarder in Whistler has his airbag backpack to thank for saving his life.

Tom Oye, who hails from Adelaide Australia, posted a video of himself getting swallowed by an avalanche in Whistler less than 24 hours ago.

In the video, Oye can be seen snowboarding on a sunny day when the snowpack suddenly gives away from under his feet.

Fortunately, Oye managed to activate his airbag pack just seconds before he got swept up by the avalanche.

The pack helped Oye stay on the surface and potentially saved his life.

The video has now been viewed more than 2.7 million times and has nearly 24,000 shares.

Mark Grist with Avalanche Canada says while airbag packs can be an important tool for skiers and skateboarders to have, they are not a silver bullet.

“It is not the be-all and end-all,” Grist said. “It’s another recommended tool to have in your personal safety arsenal.”

Grist says the primary avalanche safety tools are still a transceiver, shovel and probe.

“If you would like to add an airbag to that arsenal, so much the better,” he said. “But it’s not a substitute for good planning and informed decision making.”

Mike Danks with North Shore Rescue says Oye was incredibly lucky to walk out alive.

“It shows things like that can happen,” Danks said. “He was not expecting it to happen, but he did the right thing. He stayed calm, he inflated his pack and he stayed on the top of the avalanche.”

Danks says it also shows the importance of having the right equipment with you, and that even though inflatable backpacks can save lives, they are not always the answer.

Above all, Danks is encouraging people to take avalanche safety courses, “so they understand the terrain they are getting into and the snowpack that they are going to be on.”

The current avalanche risk on the South Coast is “moderate” in the alpine and tree line.

Avalanche Canada says South Coast mountains received 15 to 20 centimeters of snow on Sunday and Monday. The southwest flow of the storm, followed by strong northeast winds over Tuesday, resulted in pockets of wind slabs being formed.

Grist says the wind slabs are the chunks of snow that can be seen cracking under Oye’s feet in the video. They are formed when the wind picks up loose snow and deposits it on the slopes, packing it together.

He says the slabs on steep southerly slopes are especially touchy. “Where this avalanche happened was a steep southerly slope, so it’s exactly what we would expect right now under these conditions,” Grist said.

Grist says the Arctic outflows we have been seeing this winter have resulted in strong winds at higher elevations, which contributes to the creation of wind slabs seen in Oye’s video.

“That’s a pattern we are not terribly used to seeing here on the South Coast,” he said.

Seller Resources - Step 7 & 8

Step 7: Closing the Sale

For sellers, closing day is payday. However, in order for your home to be officially sold, there are a few remaining things that you need to do:

  • Pay closing costs – these are the fees you need pay by or on the closing day. They include the real estate agent’s commission, legal fees and disbursements, utility and property tax adjustments, mortgage prepayment or discharge fees and more

  • Hire a lawyer – the costs above come with a mountain of paperwork. And when there’s a lot of money on the line, you want to make sure you hire a professional to take care of those complex legal documents. Your Royal LePage agent will be a great source for recommending a lawyer who specializes in real estate

Now, it’s time for the final step…

Step 8: The Big Move

The day has arrived. And although there’s bound to be a bit of sadness about leaving your old home behind, there will be just as much excitement moving into your new one. Here are some tips for a smooth move:

  • Make a moving checklist that details a plan for things that need to be done weeks before you move all the way up to moving day itself

  • •   Plan for packing by clearly labeling boxes with the rooms in which they belong. You might even want to provide a small floorplan for the movers so they know exactly where to take them

  • Make sure you get competitive quotes from reliable moving companies. Or, to save money, find out how much it would cost to hire a moving van yourself (And bribe your friends to help you)

  • •   Cancel your cable and utilities and transfer any rented appliances (like water heater or furnace) to the new home owners. While you’re at it, make sure to have the gas, electricity, cable and phone hooked up at your new home

  • •   Inform your key contacts – work, Canada Post, doctors, friends, pharmacy, etc… – of your change of address

  • •   If you have children, make sure you talk to them and explain why you’re moving and reassure them that the friends they’ve made can continue to be their friends. Ask for their opinion too on things like what colour to paint their rooms. Try and make it exciting for them

  • On moving day, plan an easy meal like picking up some take-out. Moving is stressful enough without having to cook

Congratulations. You’re all moved in. Enjoy your new home!

Friday the 13th: Not as scary as it sounds

By Marilisa Racco - Global News

Silly though they may seem, superstitions can play an important role in some people’s lives by giving them a sense of control in otherwise karmically unbalanced situations. Who’s to judge anyone’s belief that a few grains of salt tossed over a shoulder can square things off with the universe?

But in some cases, superstitions can be debilitating.

“Any fearful superstition is one that brings on anxiety,” says Stuart Vyse, author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. “People get nervous about doing anything that could be construed as risky on Friday the 13th. Some people who might have a doctor’s appointment or surgery scheduled on that day would consider it a stressful situation or even try to reschedule. It heightens an anxiety that’s already there.”

In fact, Donald Dossey, a folklore historian, said to National Geographic that some people also typically avoid flying or engaging in financial activity on Friday the 13th.

“It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million [U.S.] is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they normally would do,” he said.

While Vyse says that superstitions often have multiple explanations, for habitants of the western hemisphere, the negative connotations attributed to Friday the 13th date back to biblical times.

It all started with the Last Supper where Jesus was betrayed by the 13th apostle, Judas. That numeral notoriety caused people to generally view 13 as unlucky, and for some, that especially pertained to the dinner table. This phobia even has a name: triskaidekaphobia.

As for the Friday part, Vyse says the day of the week that we otherwise revere for being the gateway to the weekend was already considered unsavoury because it was hangman’s day, the day that public hangings took place.

“Fridays were already an unlucky day in Europe,” he explains. “It wasn’t until the number 13 was disassociated with the dinner table and became a general number to be feared that it was linked up on the calendar to Friday. Suddenly, Friday the 13th became doubly fearful because of the confluence of two superstitions.”

But numerologists say there’s no need to fear the number.

“In the tarot, 13 is linked to the death card that symbolizes the Grim Reaper and getting rid of the old,” says Samantha Samuels, an astronumerologist in Toronto. “It’s also associated with the number four, which is the number of Uranus and represents unexpected events, shocks and surprises.”

What people don’t understand, however, is that numbers are a personal journey.

“In numerology, we use cycles that are tailored to the individual and relate personally to them,” she says. “You have to look at your personal year cycles and other numbers that are affecting you at any given time. There’s no reason to be wary of the number 13.”

In fact, some might say Friday the 13th is a lucky day. A 2008 study conducted by the Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics revealed that there were fewer traffic accidents on Friday the 13th than other Fridays. There were fewer incidences of fire and theft, too.

For all intents and purposes, Friday the 13th is as safe, if not safer, than any other Friday. So, let’s go ahead and celebrate Friday the 13th for what it really is — just another chance to say TGIF.

Want more? Click here for 13 weird things about Friday the 13th

Calgary's Housing Market to Stabilize in 2017

The Canadian Press

CALGARY -- January 11, 2017

The Calgary Real Estate Board says the city's housing market is expected to stabilize, with some prices forecast to rise this year.

In its 2017 forecast, the board says benchmark detached house prices are projected to climb by 0.8 per cent in 2017 after falling 4.7 per cent since oil prices began falling in 2014.

Benchmark condo prices are expected to fall another two per cent this year, though that comes after falling 11.3 per cent since the economic downturn began.

For all types of homes, sales volume is expected to climb three per cent from last year to 18,335 properties sold -- though that remains off long-term averages.

Still, board chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie says high unemployment, rising mortgage rates, low net migration, and a slow recovery in the energy sector are expected to continue to weigh on the housing sector.

She emphasized that any recovery will be slow, with some ongoing risk as uncertainty in the economy continues.

Be the First to Know ~ How to find out the latest Listings or Sales.

Everybody wants to be informed first about a new listing on the market when they are looking for a new home or want to sell their current one.

The tool that Real Estate Agents use to do this is called Private Client Services (PCS) Value Proposition.

PCS is a prospecting tool that features automatic emailing of new listing matches. This unique product also allows your Realtor to instantly create private webpages for their clients displaying property listings pertaining to specific search criteria tailored specifically to your needs. The Realtor enters the search criteria and instantly a private webpage for you will be updated with real-time matches to those criteria.

What exactly is PCS?  A nifty property search tool many of you may be aware of and presently subscribe to is called PCS or Private Client Services.  It is a property listing and sale notification system that allows you to see what new properties are listed and for what price, as well as receive a quick note when prices change, and finally the sales price when sold.

So if you are looking for a new home, selling your current home or just watching the market this is a great tool for you to sign up for now.

Whether you are a Buyer or prospective Seller we encourage you to let us know if:

a. You wish to adjust your parameters of search if registered already or if not registered,

b. You wish to subscribe to PCS with certain criteria of search profile.  This would include size of property, location, # of bedrooms.

Please call Jordy or Jim to discuss your special parameters of search if this is unclear.

This service is complimentary, can be easily modified or unsubscribed to at any time and is just one more reason you can count on Jim and Jordy to “Guide you Home and Beyond”.

Contact us now to set up your own personal and confidential PCS

New Year is a Time to Reflect and Look Forward

Looking forward to 2017 we observe:

1)  That the Town of Canmore is proud to support the Regional Public Transit "Roam Service" new to Canmore November 1, 2016, with local service now moving folks into the Three Sisters neighborhoods, Cougar Creek area and the Canmore Nordic Centre on weekends.  What a fabulous opportunity for home owners to divest one of two family cars and still have ready access to the downtown core.

2)  That Parks Canada is celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary in part by encouraging visitation to our awesome Banff National Park through free access all year, as is access to all National Parks in Canada in 2017.  Visitation to Banff townsite moved from 3.6m in 2015 to 3.8m in 2016 and expected to top 4.0m in 2017.  While traffic congestion is expected to ramp up, we welcome the many visitors to our area and hope they enjoy our surroundings as much as we all do.  The unprecedented visitation expected will certainly enhance our reputation as a world class destination community, much as the 1988 Winter Olympics did.
Link to your free pass here.

3)  That new development in Three Sisters Mountain Village will continue with the establishment of adequate and functional wildlife corridors.  Of interest are single family home lots, the first available in many years priced in the $500's.  Other significant developments include the Malcolm Hotel and Conference Center at Spring Creek Mountain Village, the first new Canmore hotel in over 20 years.  As well Creekstone Lodge presents residential condos for purchase and expect to hear more from us about a 7th project development to be announced later in 2017, possibly with some Tourist Home zoned product available.  Infill development continues in south Canmore and on Hospital Hill.  New Visitor Accommodation condos are currently under construction on Bow Valley Trail, immediately behind Elevation Place.

4) The trend by Lenders to disallow residential mortgage financing of all Visitor Accommodation and some Tourist Home condos is expected to continue.  All Buyers will need to come to market with cash to purchase these investment properties.  The construction of this type of product between 2008-2010 has been sold off and with no new construction occurring since that time plus stronger than ever Buyer demand, we report that as at Jan.1, only 17 vacation condos are available.  New listings are often sold day of list under multiple offer scenarios.  We expect that prices for this type of product will increase in 2017 simply due to supply and demand pressures.

5) There is currently a shortage of all property types on the market in the Bow Valley, with high buyer demand.  This indicates that it may be a great time to list your property for sale.  Please contact us for a free property valuation.

Wishing You Well - We wish all established Clients and new contacts a wonderful New Year.

Please let us know if you require an updated search profile for Private Client Services (PCS).  If you are not receiving PCS listing notifications, we suggest you call to discuss your property interests so we may provide this high tech advisory on a complimentary basis.

Please, allow us to Guide you Home and Beyond!