RE/MAX Housing Blog A Mom’s Advice: Preparing Your Home for Baby

Tue, 14 Oct by Dale Russell

By Deborah Kearns, RE/MAX Senior Editor, Corporate Communications

This spring, we welcomed a healthy baby boy to our family. His happy addition expanded our family from three to four. It also expanded the housework, cleaning and laundry tenfold now that we have two kids!

I admit, it hasn’t always been easy. After a few exhausting weeks, we eventually settled into a rhythm, a productive albeit at times chaotic, one.

What helped were the steps I took before he was born.

1. Take stock and declutter. Before the baby arrives, it helps to declutter your home as much as possible – for your own sanity and to make room for all the baby gear you’ll acquire. Paring down unnecessary belongings and furniture is a great way to add some simplicity to your now-very-busy life.

2. Baby-proof your home in stages. You don’t have to do it all at once! To save time and money, childproof your home as your baby shows signs of reaching milestones like rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking. Here’s a great guide from

3. Make the nursery functional. It’s tempting to want to re-create the immaculate nursery designs you see on Pinterest, but my advice is to put function first. Ease and practicality should take precedence over style.  Install window coverings that block out UV rays to help keep the room comfortable and dark during sleep times.

4. Check those smoke detectors. You might not think of this in the hustle and bustle, but testing the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home is extremely important. We have smoke detectors in every room, and a carbon monoxide detector on every level. The U.S. Fire Administration has many resources to help you choose and install these critically important devices.

Have your own tips to share on prepping a home for a new baby’s arrival? Share them below! And if you’re looking for more space for your little addition(s), contact a realtor in Sylvan Lake 403.887.2217, they can help you find the right place.

Market Update

Fri, 22 Jun by Dale Russell

Market Update – The local real estate market pretty much reflects the provincial outlook provided by CMHC.  The Red Deer market continues to be strong, although not as busy as earlier in the spring.  As always, activity is strongest at the low to middle end of the price spectrum.  We have seen activity slow most dramatically from spring in properties priced over $500,000 where the sales to listing ratio is less than 10%.  That means that less than one out of ten homes for sale in that price range will sell in a month.  The Blackfalds market is a reflection of the Red Deer market with strong sales and a high sales to listing ratio.


Sales in Lacombe, Sylvan Lake and Ponoka are also stronger than last year, but the ratio between listings and sales still favours buyers.


Long term predictions for the market would be dangerous.  Obviously the central Alberta market is heavily dependent on a strong energy sector.  A slower world economy demands less energy and less demand equates to lower prices.  If world oil prices drop below $80/barrel, there is concern that our local energy sector will slow down.  On a positive note, the US economy seems to be gaining traction and the US is our largest trading partner.  Stronger demand there may offset a slower world economy.


Our best guess for the near term is a stable market, with adequate supply (or excess) supply in most markets.  Under the circumstances, we don’t expect to see much price appreciation, but do expect very stable prices.



Excerpts from CMHC Housing Outlook – 2nd Quarter 2012


Rising employment, population gains, and low mortgage rates will help propel resale transactions in 2012 in the Prairies to 85,200 units, up almost seven per cent from 2011. MLS® sales in Alberta will rise by over seven per cent to 57,600 units in 2012, then increase to 59,200 units in 2013…..


The Prairie’s average MLS® price will increase by near three per cent in 2012 to about $327,000.  A similar level of growth will raise the average price toward $337,000 in 2013. Over half of Alberta’s major markets remain in buyers’ market conditions, holding back price growth….


The average MLS® price in Alberta is projected to rise by about two per cent to $360,900 in 2012. With improved market balance in 2013, Alberta’s average resale price will rise by near three per cent to $371,500.


In Alberta, competition from the resale market and rising inventory levels caused builders to reduce single-detached starts in 2011.  Improving economic and demographic conditions are now lifting housing demand and builders are responding by increasing production. In 2012, single-detached starts are projected to rise by 15 per cent to 17,500 units.


Market Update with Caroline

Sat, 05 May by Dale Russell
Market Update – The central Alberta real estate market continues to strengthen as we move through the spring market.  Generally, the supply of homes for sale in central Alberta is shrinking or stable while demand continues to grow.  Most of the smaller markets are in balance or favor buyers, while the Red Deer market is clearly in seller’s market territory with a 44% sales to listing ratio in April.  That means more competition for the good Red Deer properties and the potential for price increases.  Typically, the Red Deer market will improve first with the smaller surrounding centres following suit.  As prices in Red Deer firm up, more buyers will consider the smaller centres and the comparably lower prices available there.
Obviously, oil continues to be the stimulus for economic activity in central Alberta.  High oil prices make horizontal drilling in the rock formations along the foothills viable.  Those wells require huge frac activity to free up the oil and central Alberta is a centre for frac companies. 
The dark clouds on the horizon remain very low natural gas prices, the perceived “over-heated” Canadian real estate market, the US economic recovery and the European economic crisis.  The Governor of the Bank of Canada concerned enough about real estate inflation in Toronto that he is considering an interest rate increase for all of Canada.  In spite of the negatives, the short term future for Alberta appears to be very bright.  Our provincial government seems to believe so too, planning on huge spending programs and counting on massive resource revenues to pay the bills.  Those huge spending programs will almost certainly fuel strong growth for the short term as long as the expected revenues materialize to fund them.
Red Deer – year to date sales are up 22% over 2011.  April sales are up 57% over April 2011.  Listings as of May 1 are down 24% from May 1, 2011.  April sales to listing ratio – 43.9% – Seller’s Market.
Lacombe – year to date sales are up 34% over 2011.  April sales are up 39% over April 2011.  Listings as of May 1 are at the same level as May 1, 2011.  April sales to listing ratio – 20% – Buyer’s Market
Sylvan Lake – year to date sales are up 40% over 2011.  April sales are up 35% over April 2011.  Listings as of May 1 are at the same level as May 1, 2011.  April sales to listing ratio – 15.25% – Buyer’s Market
Ponoka – year to date sales are up 70% over 2011.  April sales were slightly lower than April 2011.  Listings as of May 1 are slightly higher than at May 1, 2011.  April sales to listing ratio – 9.25% – Buyer’s Market
Blackfalds – year to date sales are up 54% over 2011.  April sales are up 130% over April 2011.  Listings as of May 1 are down 24% compared to May 1, 2011.  April sales to listing ratio – 31.5% – Seller’s Market
Blackfalds being the closest market to Red Deer, is now benefitting from the tightening supply and stronger prices in Red Deer.  Assuming the current trends continue, the rest of our smaller markets will soon follow suit.
One other interesting fact about the central alberta real estate market in 2012 is that demand for homes above the starter market is much stronger than we’ve experienced since 2007.  Renewed confidence in the economy seems to have people moving up once again.

January 19, 2012 – 2011 YEARLY MARKET UPDATE

Wed, 18 Jan by Dale Russell

2011 Year End Market Update – 2011 was a much better year than 2010 with MLS sales in central Alberta up 19.5%.  We are still a long ways from the 2007 boom at only at 73% of that year’s heady levels, but 2011 did get back to 2009 sales levels. 

At the same time our inventory of active listings has steadily dropped in most markets but especially in Red Deer, trending closer to balanced market conditions than we’ve seen in three years.  We are not back to that perfect balance yet, but if the current trend continues we could see those conditions later this spring. 

Everyone wants to know what prices are going to do.  Future predictions are very dangerous, but a simple law of economics states that when demand increases and supply decreases, prices will go up.  We have seen the relationship between supply and demand diminish over the last six months and know that a continuation of that trend will eventually see prices firm up. 

Our analysis of the median price of homes sold in Red Deer, Lacombe, Sylvan Lake, Ponoka, Innisfail, Blackfalds and Penhold over the past year shows that prices went down in the spring and summer and increased slightly the last six months.  The median price of homes in those markets is still down approximately 9% from the high in the second quarter of 2007.  While the median is not always and accurate representation of value, it does show us trends.  We believe the trend right now is up barring an economic collapse in Europe or the United States.  High oil prices continue to be the key factor in our economic well being. 

Red Deer – 2011 sales were up almost 13% over 2010.  Active listings as of Dec 31 this year are down an incredible 42% over Dec. 31, 2010.  The December sales to active listing ratio was 20.2% down from the previous month but probably just a reflection of a typically slower Christmas season. 

Lacombe – 2011 sales were up 8.4% over 2012.  Listings were slightly higher at the end of 2011 and the ratio of sales to active listings is currently 14% representing a market where the buyer still has an advantage. 

Sylvan Lake – 2011 sales managed to eke out a 1.9% increase over 2010.  Active listings as of Dec. 31, 2011 are finally trending down by 17% over 2010.  The sales to active listing ratio at only 5.6% suggests the Sylvan Lake market still heavily favours buyers.

Ponoka – 2011 sales were up 34% over 2010.  Active listings are about the same level as they were a year ago.  The sales to active listings ratio was down in December due to the Christmas slowdown, but still suggests a buyer’s market.  We expect to see a more balanced market in the spring. 

Blackfalds – 2011 sales are up 27% over 2011.  Active listings at Dec. 31, 2011 are down 22% from Dec. 2010.  The December sales to active listings ratio was 13.5% – still a buyer’s market, but the Blackfalds market is following Red Deer’s lead and quickly trending towards balance.

Sylvan Lake Market Update

Fri, 20 May by Dale Russell

May 18, 2010

Market Update to May 18/11 – Sylvan Lake & Area
Active Listings Sales
Price Range Active Today Pending Active 1 Year Ago Sold MTD
May 11/11 Sold MTD
May 18/11 Sold MTD
May 18/10
0 – 100 6 0 2 1 1 0
100 – 150 8 1 6 0 0 0
150 – 200 20 0 15 2 2 1
200 – 225 11 0 9 0 0 2
225 – 250 21 0 13 3 3 0
250 – 275 21 3 21 3 3 2
275 – 300 31 3 30 0 1 4
300 – 350 38 1 38 1 2 4
350 – 400 26 1 25 2 2 1
400 – 450 13 0 26 0 0 2
450 – 500 17 0 17 0 1 0
500 + 58 1 68 1 2 1
Total 270

Days On Market 69 67 53 54 41

We All Want the Value of Our Homes to Rise, but that’s not always a good thing. Remember the heady days of spring 2007 when house prices were inflating $10,000 a month. It seemed like a financial windfall at the time, but the long term results suggest otherwise.

When prices inflate rapidly, those folks forced to buy at the high point of the market will be hurt when prices normalize. Alberta is currently experiencing the highest level of mortgages in arrears in Canada as some of those who purchased at the peak find themselves “under water”. In other words, the value of their homes is less than their mortgage. Any of these people wanting to move are in a very difficult position and those who experience any short term financial difficulty are not in a position to ease the situation by selling their homes.

Quite simply, the value of residential real estate cannot increase faster than the consumer’s ability to pay for it, or our market will suffer. If prices increase back to the levels we experienced in 2007, we could price ourselves out of the market. It would make it more difficult to attract new people to move here and fill those job vacancies we are expecting in the next few years. It will create slowdowns for local construction companies and therefore less employment in one of our most important industries.

In other words, be careful what you wish for. A healthy economy and housing market are characterized by balance in supply and demand and prices that will attract people to Alberta who can afford to buy homes and not have to spend the majority of their incomes on housing.

New Housing Prices Flat in Alberta – Alberta Treasury Branches – Weekly Economic Update – May 13, 2011

The cost of a new home continued to move sideways in Alberta’s two main cities in March 2011. In month-over-month terms, the price of new home dipped by 0.1% in Calgary and by 0.2% in Edmon-ton; compared to a year ago the average cost of a new home was unchanged in Calgary (-0.1%) and up slightly in Edmonton (+1.2%).

After surging during the boom, as resale housing prices jumped, new housing prices plateaued in Edmonton in 2007 and in Calgary in late 2008. Since then the average cost of a new home is down roughly 15% in Edmonton and 8% in Calgary. Furthermore, prices have been un-changed in Edmonton since early 2009, and in Calgary since early 2010 (see graph).

Moving forward, it is unlikely that new home prices in either city are going to make a major move either upwards or downwards. A typical trend in housing prices is that after a boom period prices move sideways for a long time.

Over the next couple years, rising interest rates will dampen demand for homes, putting downward pres-sure on prices, but a buoyant economy will support prices. Overall, these forces may roughly counteract each other making a major move in either direction unlikely.