Calgary’s housing future

Trends shaping the city’s short- and long-term development

Absent a crystal ball, the future of housing in Calgary is very much up in the air. At the same time, there are some notable trends that offer clues to what’s on the horizon for the curious, the concerned and those who just like to plan ahead.

“I think the findings from the 2016 census highlight changes in the Calgary housing market,” said Rylan Graham, a sessional instructor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary.

“We saw significant growth in many of the inner-city neighborhoods developed pre-World War II, and at the periphery of the city through new greenfield development. These areas are where most of the population growth occurred from 2011-2016.”


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Best face forward

Staging your home for a successful sale

While many people are likely reluctant to spend extra money on their home right before they sell, the act of staging a house for sale is important when it comes to drawing in potential buyers. Staging can make a home look far more desirable and appealing, which can often be the difference between no offers and a done deal.

Here are some of the best staging tips to ensure your home puts its best face forward for potential buyers: (more…)

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Generational divide

The complicated relationship between millennials and the housing market

When Juliet Burgess, 29, bought her 110-year-old home in Inglewood for the above-list price of $350,000, she says she became the first among her circle of millennial friends to become a homeowner.

“I personally don’t know anyone in my age group who owns property,” said Burgess, who works in the not-for-profit sector. “We’re super lucky to be able to afford to buy.

“I’ve been saving my whole life, since I was 14. Even with that, my partner’s savings and our parents giving us a little bit, we could only put down the minimum for a down payment.”


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Saying goodbye to rent

Making the transition from renting to buying is a lot about finding the right location with inventory that fits your budget

As a single female with a career in the arts, Jamie Dunsdon wasn’t sure she could even qualify for a mortgage to enter the property-purchasing arena.

“I was afraid the only thing I could afford was something terrible,” said Dunsdon, who is the artistic director with Verb Theatre.

After nine years of renting in Calgary, Dunsdon says she had enough of renting at high prices and hopped in the market last summer. As with all folks who are looking to purchase a property, location and budget were a major part of her decision.


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Kickstarting kids

Parents should seek expert advice before making big decisions about helping kids purchase a home

When Laura Parsons and her husband decided to help their adult children with home ownership, they carefully considered the best method.

For their son, the Parsons gifted money, as an early inheritance, over a two year period. He then deposited the funds into an RRSP, which allowed him to generate immediate tax savings, and later, make a tax-free down payment on a home, utilizing the Canada’s Home Buyers’ Plan.

It is strategy not all parents are aware of, but as BMO Financial Groups’ vice president Mortgage Specialists, Parsons knows the benefits and has even led seminars on the topic.

Parsons says that parents wanting to help a child buy a home should first seek advice from experts, consider the consequences, and find a plan that works best for all parties involved.

She says a BMO survey a few years ago found that 42 per cent of first-time home buyers were counting on financial assistance from their parents for a down payment. While many Baby Boomers have the financial means to help with a down payment, she cites other strategies, such as co-signing a mortgage, if the child has the money “but not the credit.”

Nicole Wells, vice president of Home Equity Financing with RBC, says while high real estate prices have made buying a home difficult for young people, they have benefitted their parents.

The increase in property values that parents are experiencing as they start to get out of the market makes this a common practice – to leverage some of the equity that they have earned in their property and give their children what’s called a living legacy.

“The increase in property values that parents are experiencing as they start to get out of the market makes this a common practice – to leverage some of the equity that they have earned in their property and give their children what’s called a living legacy,” said Wells.

Wells also says most people can save the minimum five per cent for a down payment, but with their parents help can increase that down payment to avoid mortgage insurance costs and reduce the cost of home ownership.

According to Wells, there are other ways parents are helping, such as allowing a child to move back home to reduce costs and save down payment faster. But if parents want to make a direct financial contribution, they need to “understand what impact that money will have on their retirement and long term goals.”

“So it’s really important they sit down and talk to a financial adviser about the possibility of giving a living legacy to their kids, and to see what else they can do,” said Wells. “They can talk about whether they want to be a guarantor, or invest in part of the property and get some payments.”

Parsons says there are many ideas and programs out there, so it’s wise to have the advice of mortgage specialists, financial advisers, accountants or lawyers, before going forward.

“Go in as a family, so you all can ask questions and so you can all uncover what the options are. Then you can have a great discussion on what route you want to take,”
said Parsons.

Wells notes both parties need to agree to the roles each will play, such as whether the parents would have a say in the type of home
purchase, “so you’re both clear on the expectations.”

“You don’t want to ruin a relationship.”


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