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Canadian Housing Market Continues Its Healthy Upward Trend, Shah Ahmed - Saskatoon Agent.

Market Watch – March 2010
Canadian Housing Market Continues Its Healthy Upward Trend


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The Canadian housing market continues its healthy upward trend across the country, with significant increase in both number of sales and sale value. This trend is expected to continue through to early Spring as we approach the  upcoming changes to mortgage qualification rules.

Buyers in Ontario and British Columbia  are aware of two key changes that could impact their purchasing ability. The new mortgage rules coming in April, plus the Harmonized Sales Tax in July.

“The upcoming changes to mortgage qualification rules and impending mortgage rate increases may prompt some buyers to enter the market earlier and cause some additional slowdown in the third quarter,” said Larry Westergard, president of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.

Below is a brief summary of sales activities in some areas across the country:

Ontario - A Great Start to 2010 for Ontario Housing Market

Toronto, March 3, 2010 -  Greater Toronto REALTORS® reported 7,291 sales through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February, representing a 77% increase over February 2009. The average price for these transactions was up 19% year-over-year to $431,509. Sales and average price increases represent both increased demand for ownership housing and the base year effect, which involves a comparison of economic recovery this year to a period of economic decline last year.

“Increases in existing home sales and average price were noted across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in low-rise and high-rise home types. Similar rates of growth were experienced in the City of Toronto and surrounding 905 regions,” said Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) President Tom Lebour. “This suggests that first time, move-up and down sizing buyers are all active in the existing home marketplace.”

New listings also increased in February, climbing 24% compared to the same month last year.

“Annual growth in new listings is expected to continue. New listings growth will start to outstrip sales growth as we move through 2010,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis. “As the market becomes better supplied, we will see more sustainable single-digit rates of price growth.”

Ottawa, March 5, 2010 - Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,118 residential properties in February through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® system compared with 787 in February 2009, an increase of 42.1%.

Of those sales, 323 were in the condominium property class, while 795 were in the residential property class.

“Last month’s sales were near the top of the usual range for this time of year, as opposed to February of 2009, which was the end of the brief slowdown we saw in Ottawa’s resale housing market due to global economic conditions,” said Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) President Pierre de Varennes. “So far in 2010, OREB Members have sold 1,838 properties, putting us well ahead of the 1,316 properties sold in the first two months of 2009. Inventory remains low and the homes that are listed are selling quickly, keeping Ottawa in a seller’s market for the moment,” he added.

The average sale price of residential properties, including condominiums, sold in February in the Ottawa area was $317,030, an increase of 15.8% over February 2009. The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $265,938, an increase of 30.3% over February 2009. The average sale price of a residential-class property was $337,788, an increase of 15.6% over February 2009.

British Columbia – Stronger than expected Fraser Valley home sales during Olympics 

Surrey, March 2, 2010 – Not even the most engaging Olympics in Canadian history could completely slow the appetite for house hunting, according to the most recent statistics from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.

The Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) recorded 1,204 sales in February, an increase of 23% over January’s sales and an increase of 77% over the 682 sales during February of last year.

Deanna Horn, president of the Board explains, “Although the phones were quieter and we did experience less traffic at open houses, we were surprisingly busy given how much everyone, including REALTORS® were enjoying the Games.”

“Buyers are aware of two key changes that could impact their purchasing ability. The new mortgage rules coming in April, plus the Harmonized Sales Tax in July, so the ‘Olympic effect’ we were expecting wasn’t as deep.”

The Board’s MLS® received 2,879 new listings in February, an average of 144 per business day, providing buyers with 14% more selection than they had the previous month. The number of active listings in February was 8,485, 12% fewer than were available during February last year.

Horn adds that the combined strength of listings and sales currently is stabilizing Fraser Valley home prices. “Overall, we’ve seen modest price gains for the last three months. The benchmark price for all residential types combined increased less than 1% from January to February.

“When you have a healthy level of inventory, it puts less upward pressure on prices and creates a stable, balanced market.”

In February, the benchmark price for Fraser Valley detached homes was $508,136, an increase of 11.3% from the February 2009 price of $456,683.

The benchmark price of Fraser Valley townhouses in February was $324,708, a 9.8% increase compared to $295,731 in February 2009. The benchmark price of apartments increased by 7.8% year-over-year going from $228,091 in February 2009 to $245,879 in February 2010.

Alberta - Stability in Edmonton Housing Market continues through February

Edmonton, March 2, 2010 -  Prices for residential property sold through the Edmonton Multiple Listing Service® changed marginally through February. Sales activity, however, was up dramatically when compared to last month or the same month last year.
The average single family dwelling price was $369,573 for February up just 1.4% from January; 5.6% from a year ago. Condominium prices dipped 3.8% in the month from $240,686 to $231,530. Duplex and rowhouse prices were up 3.3% to $315,390.

“While prices remained stable through February the increase in sales activity indicates that there is a demand for housing in the Edmonton area,” said Larry Westergard, president of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. “Listings also increased in February leading to a bigger month end inventory of homes and relaxing concerns that inventory may be too low to handle the spring buying season.”

In February, housing sales were up 33.9% compared to January with 1,184 residential sales. Total residential sales were also up 7.6% from last February. There were 2,505 residential listings added during the month resulting in a 47% sales-to-listing ratio and a month-end inventory of 5,449 homes. The average days-on-market was down 10 to just 47 days.

Total sales through the Edmonton MLS® System (including residential, commercial and rural properties) in February were valued at $416 million (up 10.5% from last year).

Information in this report is collected from the Real Estate Boards operating in each area. The average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. The average price is calculated based on the total dollar volume of all properties sold. 


Condominium Occupancy Fees


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Whenever you purchase a new condo, there is a period of time between when you take occupancy of your unit and when you take ownership of your unit. This is known as the ‘occupancy period’ or ‘interim occupancy’. During this period you will be requested by the developer to pay occupancy fees or ‘phantom rent’ as it is also known.

The Condominium Act requires condo developments to be constructed to a substantial level prior to registration of the condominium plan. Title to a unit cannot be transferred until the condominium is registered.

Thus, with newly built condominium apartments, there are two “closings”. The “interim closing”, occurs at the time of occupancy and the “final closing”, occurs at the time of final registration.

The process works something like this; the developer undertakes to build a condo development by submitting a site plan with the Municipality. When the Municipality registers this site plan it becomes a “Registered Site Plan”, setting out exactly what the developer is promising to deliver.

The developer then sells the suites as “pre-construction”; based on floor plans, brochures etc. Once the developer sells enough units, say 60% or more, they start the construction while continuing to sell the units.

When construction is completed, the municipality verifies the building to be in accordance with the registered site plan and issues the “Occupancy Certificate”. The developer start to contact all the buyers notifying them of their occupancy date, at this stage your unit is ready and liveable; you take possession of it, but not ownership. This is the first or “Interim Closing”.

Since the buyer’s down payment is deposited into the lawyer’s trust account, the developer does NOT receive any money until the building registers (final closing), a process that normally takes 4-6 months.

Until such time you must pay the developer “occupancy fees” for the right to live in the unit. The amount of the occupancy fees is roughly equivalent to the interest on the amount outstanding on the purchase price. For example, a $300,000 condo with 25% down means you must pay monthly occupancy fees roughly equal to interest payments on $225,000.

When the municipality completes its process and registers the building, the second or “final closing” take place. This is where the purchasers receive title to their property and their mortgage payments starts, and this is when the developer gets his money.

During the occupancy period the buyers undertake a portion of the developer’s mortgage, also called “Phantom Mortgage”, which is equal to their proportionate share of the overall condo.

The occupancy period is normally 4-6 months, but the higher up you are in the building, the shorter the occupancy period will be. So if you buy a unit on the ground floor, you can expect a long occupancy period. If you buy the penthouse, you will likely have a very short occupancy period.

There is no way to say absolutely how long the occupancy period will be. In most cases the length of the occupancy period depends on the experience level of the developer. Experienced developers who are familiar with process and have diligent lawyers working behind the scenes for them know how to build and how to register a building as quickly as possible.

It is in the developer’s best interest to register the building as quickly as possible and to have the occupancy period as short as possible. This is because they don’t get their money from the banks until the building is registered and all the unit owners have their mortgages commence.

The “Occupancy Fee” is made up of three components and is roughly equivalent to the:

  1. interest calculated on a monthly basis on the unpaid balance of the purchase price 
  2. the monthly maintenance fee contributed for the unit; and
  3. a factor for property tax

In total it will be about the same amount as if you took a mortgage. But you cannot get a mortgage because there is no “Title” to the property, thus banks cannot issue a mortgage.

Occupancy fees will be paid to the developer when you purchase a new condo, it does not apply for re-sale condos.

The purchaser can avoid paying the interest portion of the occupancy fee should he/she elect to pay the full balance of the purchase price owing on the date of occupancy. However, in order to do this, the purchaser or his lawyer must request this during the 10-days rescission (or cooling off) period.

In all the cases it is left to the developer to include or exclude any of the above components in the occupancy fee, as long as this is made clear in writing and disclosed in the developer’s disclosure documents.

How to Use Your Credit Card Wisely by SHAH AHMED RE/MAX Saskatoon
How to Use Your Credit Card Wisely
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Whether you shop online, by telephone or by mail, a credit card can make buying much easier; but when you use a credit card, it's important to control your spending. Use a credit card wisely and you can reap benefits like cash back, bonus points and airline miles, not to mention a better credit score. Use it unwisely and you could end up under a mountain of debt.

Here are some useful tips on using credit cards.

1. Avoid paying debt at 18%
Credit cards can be very useful if you are able to pay off the balance each month. However, when you start paying interest at 18% or more, the advantages are easily outweighed by the very high interest payments. Therefore, always seek to pay off the balance and avoid these rates of interest.

Negotiate with your creditor. If your credit score is 700 or above, you may be able to get a lower interest rate or get the company to drop a late fee.

2- Select a credit card with low or zero fees
Credit cards aren't free. Most bank will charge a fee from $25 to $300/year. Since different types of credit cards charge different fees, it's good to know what your credit card fee is. Ask your creditor to waive the fee. Some credit cards automatically waive the fee if you make a certain amount of purchases in a year.

3- Avoid overspending
Don’t get carried away just because you are paying with plastic rather than cash. The golden rule is “If you can’t pay for it, do not buy it”. Don’t see credit cards as a way of borrowing. See it as a convenient way of paying.

4. Use 6-month interest free offers
Many credit card companies seek to entice new customers through offering introductory periods of 0% interest. This can be very beneficial for consumers of credit cards. These 6-month interest free periods are ideal for dealing with periods of temporary cash shortfalls. It is a much preferable alternative than paying interest at 18%, the standard rate for some cards.

5. Transfer a balance to a new card with lower interest
If you're transferring a balance to a new card with lower interest, find out how much the company will charge for the transfer. Make sure that it can be done electronically so you don't accumulate interest on both the old and new accounts. Low-interest introductory offers may apply only to the balance transfer and not to new purchases.

6. Set up direct debit to pay minimum monthly payment
This means you will never miss the payment and it is the easiest way to make sure you don’t damage your credit rating. Of course, you should try to pay the whole amount off. But, the main benefit of doing this is that you don’t need to worry about a missed payment which is very damaging for your long term benefit.

7. Transfer the debt to a lower interest paying loan like a mortgage or personal loan.

8. Use one card for collecting points
Choose one credit card to put the majority of your spending on. It is best to choose a card that has an attractive points/reward system. You should always pay off this credit card at the end of the month.

9. Don't exceed 30% of your credit limit on each card
Credit bureaus don't care if you pay off your balance each month. They're interested in how much of your available credit you use. If it's excessive, your credit score will drop.

10. Limit the number of cards you have
Experts recommend having two to six cards. Applying for lots of cards can hurt your credit score. Conversely, closing several credit cards at once will trigger a decrease in your score.

Finally, always be cautious about disclosing your account number on the telephone unless you know the person you're dealing with represents a reputable company.

Always carry only the cards you anticipate using to prevent the possible loss or theft of all your cards or identification. Always report lost or stolen credit cards to the card issuers as soon as possible.

If you've fallen off the wise-spending wagon, seek counseling from a nonprofit credit-counseling agency.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Moving Anxiety Shah Ahmed Remax Saskatoon.
How to Help Your Child Cope with Moving Anxiety
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Moving can be stressful for every member of the family—children included. Depending on the age of children, their fears about a move vary from child to child, but most children approach the idea of moving with some hesitation.

One out of five Canadian families move into a new home each year. Some families experience a stressful time two weeks before and two weeks after a move. For many families, the actual move is a time when everyone pitches in and works together. Reality starts to sink in about a month later. People then begin to realize how much they miss friends and places they left behind. Confusion, frustration, and anger are common emotions at this time. Even if you are upgrading to a bigger house in a nicer neighbourhood, adjusting can be very difficult.

If the move is coupled with financial problems, a death or divorce, this can makes the problem worse, stretching children's coping skills to the limit. Short-term counseling may help children through this challenging time.  It often takes as long as two years before children begin to feel comfortable in their new home.

No matter what the reason for a move, coping is especially tough for kids. Small children thrive on predictability and their sense of security is closely tied to familiar faces, places and activities. Older children will feel the social impact of a move the most. They miss old friends and worry about making new ones. For pre-teens and teens, fitting in is of the utmost importance and having to re-establish themselves in a new and possibly very different social environment is a scary prospect.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make the move easier on your kids.

1. Share the news
As soon as a decision has been made to move, share it with your children. Encourage your child to discuss the future transition by asking questions such as, "What have you been thinking about the new place?" Make a list of your child's concerns and together try to find answers to the questions. When speaking about the move, be enthusiastic and upbeat so that your children will view moving as an exciting adventure.

2. Encourage your child to participate in the moving decisions and preparations
Consult with your child about the décor of his or her new room. Let your child pick the paint colour, the fabric for curtains and bedspread, and choose posters for the walls. Younger children typically resist change of any kind. If this is the case with your child, it may help to replicate the décor and furniture arrangement of his or her old room as closely as possible.
3. Move during the right time of year
Sometimes, holding off your move can be difficult, especially when it comes to job situations.  The start of the school year is often the ideal time to schedule a move since it will offer your children the most exposure to neighbourhood kids. Chances are that there will be more than one "new kid" in school. If your child does not want any added attention, this will help him or her blend in with the rest of the student body. It is also best to avoid switching in the middle of the year, as this can have a huge affect on your child's grades.

4. Allow your children ample time to say goodbye to their friends before your move
Although the days leading up to the move will certainly be a bit hectic, a going away party can really help your child cope with moving. One of the main objectives to coping with any type of situation is finding closure. Saying goodbye to friends is very important if you want to help your child to better cope with moving.  Encourage children to exchange addresses and telephone numbers so that they can keep in touch after the move. Remember, your children's friends will feel a loss after the move too.

5. Make meeting new friends easier for your child
The best way to help your child cope with moving is to make meeting new friends easier. Allowing and even encouraging your child to invite friends over to the house is a great way help your child make new friends. If you move during the summer, you may want to help your child find new friends. Whether your child meets other children from the new neighbourhood, the park, the public swimming pool or anywhere else, you will be able to feel comfort knowing that your child has made some new friends—which is a major step in coping with a move.

6. Let your child know it is natural to feel apprehensive
He or she may be fearful of not being accepted by peers. Share childhood memories of times when you were worried about a new situation. Relate the good things that happened like how you met your best friend or that your new teacher was one of your favourites. Keep the days leading up to the transition as positive as possible.

7. Encourage your child to participate in after school activities
It is believed that children who participate in after school activities feel as though they fit in better, mainly because they feel as though they "belong". Encouraging your child to join a group, club or organization of his or her choice is a great idea. It just may be one of the best ways for your child to find new friends or experience some sense of belonging. After school activities may be one of the main keys for a child to cope with a move.

8. Invite your child to express his or her emotions                                                              
Even when a concern seems minor to you, be respectful and know that it can be a major crisis to your child. Try to put yourself in his or her place and understand the feelings expressed. Ask open ended questions like, "How's it going?" or make comments like, "You seem sad". Then listen carefully and avoid giving advice unless your child asks for it.

9. Help your child explore ways to cope with concerns                                                         
Try to always be available for further discussion. Be ready to problem-solve with him or her. You may want to role play a situation that is causing anxiety.

10. Allow your child to call or visit old friends
Allowing your child to visit, or converse with, old friends is a very important step to coping with the move. Whether it is during the weekend or during a week in the summer, if you move far away, visits with old friends may be necessary. There are going to be some instances in which your child may want someone to confide in about the move. It is also important to keep in mind that your child's new friends will never replace his or her old friends. Overall, it is definitely safe to say that allowing visits with old friends can be a very important step in coping with moving.

11. Monitor your child's progress
It is important to keep in mind that there is only so much that you can do in order to encourage your child to cope with moving. Monitoring your child's progress of coping can be very important. If you notice that your child experiences behavioural changes, does not seem to make friends after you have been settled for awhile, is unwilling to participate in after school activities and seems a bit depressed, then there just may be cause for alarm. If your child does not seem to be coping well with moving, visiting a therapist may be a good idea.

In general, younger children will adjust more quickly to a move than older children. Babies and toddlers may feel a bit out of sorts in a new environment, but they will adapt very quickly. Preschoolers have established comfortable routines and usually have a few favourite places, such as the park or the local zoo. If they express worries about missing these places, assure them that there will be plenty of fun things to do near the new house too. School aged children often have very specific concerns about living in a new place and may have questions such as, "Where will I keep my toys?" and "Will my new teacher be nice?" Remind them about times that they have had similar worries in the past, such as when they first started school and how everything turned out just fine. Saying things like, "Remember when you were scared that you wouldn't like your teacher this year? Now you love Mrs. Brown. I'm sure that you will do just fine at your new school too."

Teenagers often have the most difficulty in adjusting, especially if the move means that they will be too far away to see their current friends. A teenager's world revolves largely around their friendships, and breaking those bonds can be traumatic. Most teens are able to make the adjustment, but expect the transition to take a while—six months to a year is typical.

Moving is stressful for everyone. But it is particularly stressful for children because they don't know as many ways to cope with a new situation. Trying some of these tried-and-true methods, may ease up your child’s apprehension and help him/her cope better with the stress of the new move.

YOU can built Extra Suite in Saskatoon Ask for more information. SHAH AHMED RE/MAX Saskatoon.

The City of Saskatoon is examining the feasibility of allowing garage and garden suites for discretionary use in Saskatoon neighborhoods .

A garage suite is a suite built above a backyard garage, while a garden suite is a small stand-alone "little house" in the backyard as well.  Both of these concepts would provide needed accomodation for students, those with limited income, and seniors.  The garden suites, being ground-level would particularly appeal to seniors, especially when family members occupy the primary residence, and would also help with the affordable seniors housing shortage.

Garage and garden suites are unique housing options that offer more privacy and natural light than basement suites.  Tenants would benefit from the increasing rental opportunities in established neighborhoods, while homeowners would be able to offset their mortgage payments with the revenue from the suites, and the City would benefit from more efficient use of exisitng infrastructure.  With a maximum propsed floor area of 702 square feet, garage and garden suites may be a desirable choice for many individuals, couples and single parents.

Public consultations are curently underway.  Citizens have generally been supportive of this concept, but draft regulations have been written to address concerns expressed about parking issues, privacy, and the need for these suites to be properly built and architecturally attractive.  Feedback received from the public will be integrated into a final proposal that will be brought before City Council late in 2009.

Owning a Home better then Renting by Shah Ahmed RE/MAX Saskatoon.

So, you've just become a new homeowner, or you're thinking of becoming one..... now, what is it going to cost to maintain it?

First, there's the one per cent rule, which claims that normal maintenance on a home is about one per cent of the value of the home per year.  This means that a $250,000 home would cost about $2,500 per year to maintain.  This would cover normal replacement of worn out components such as a failed water tank one year, roof repair another year, and the furnace the next.

Then there's the three per cent rule; some experts say that home buyers should plan on spending three per cent of the value of the home in the first year.  This is because new homeowners will likely purchase blinds and/or drapes, change some or all of the decor and maybe buy some appliances.

A Home Inspection (before you buy) will give you an idea of what is wearing out and what will last for a while.  For example, because the high efficiency furnace was installed a just a year ago, you likely won't be buying a new furnace for at least 15 years, since they last, on average, 15-20 years.  Or you know the shingles have never been replaced, they're looking a little rough and the house is 18 years old; count on getting up on the roof (or hiring someone) in the next year or so.  Asphalt shingles last approximately 12 -20 years.  This is not a reason to not buy the house, not a defect, just a something to be aware of.

Here are the typical life cycles of the most common home components:

  • Furnace >  15-20 years
  • Air conditioning system > 12-15 years
  • Water tank > 12 years
  • Sink garbage disposal > 10 years
  • Appliances > 12-20 years (varies substantially)
  • Asphalt shingles > 12 - 20 years
  • High-end asphalt shingles > 20-30 years
  • Cedar shingles > 20-35 years
  • Garage door opener > 10-15 years

Care and maintenance is the key.  Generally anything will last longer if it is not abused, kept clean and dry, and used only for the purpose it was intended.

Your House As Seen By: funny by Shah Ahmed remax Saskatoon

Your House As Seen By:



Your Buyer…


Your Lender…


Your Appraiser…


Your County Tax Assessor


Your House As Seen By:

Should I Purchase My Home Now or Wait for the Market to Stabilize?

Should I Purchase My Home Now or Wait for the Market to Stabilize?
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Many people are debating whether they want to buy a property now or whether they should wait. They are getting mixed messages from the media about the market conditions and the state of the economy. Reports are indicating that the real estate market is rebounding. However, we are still hearing negative news about businesses folding and job losses. So is now a good time to buy?

The decision whether to buy a home now or wait is very tricky at the moment. On the one hand you have very low mortgage rates as the Bank of Canada had cut the interest rate several times in the last few months to try and get the banks lending again. Deals as low as 2.75% are being advertised to entice new customers into the market and get the chain moving again. Also, property prices have dropped in the last year and there are many good deals to be made.

On the other hand, there is still the question whether housing market prices will hold or drop further. Potential buyers are wary about taking on such a huge borrowing to find that the dream house they have just bought may be worth appreciatively less in six months’ time.

House prices are cyclical. A low market is always a good time to buy even though it may be several years before the market rebounds. The property market will rebound. If you are in a position to buy a house and can afford the repayments, buy now. Waiting to buy could result in paying much higher prices in a rising market.

Are you really ready?
It is also important to consider how long you will be in the home that you are about to purchase. Once you buy the home, it may be very difficult to resell right now. If the market continues to drop and you end up moving and selling in a year, you may have been wiser to wait a bit longer. So that is something that you want to make sure that you consider when making the decision to purchase a home.

Of course, if you have a long-term plan to be in the home, the fluctuations and potential decrease in value in the near term doesn’t need to get you down, as the only price that matters is the price you are able to sell for when you need or want to move.

Another thing that you need to think about is if you can afford the home that you are considering buying. While prices have dropped recently, you want to make sure that you find a home that is going to fit your budget.  As a precautionary measure you should also budget for the fact that the cost of living might rise even further, and that being able to afford these increases will be important.

If you have the funds available for a down payment and you are eligible for a mortgage, and feel comfortable about your job security, and currently meeting the rising costs of living fairly easily; then the time is probably right for purchasing property. It is still a buyer’s market, so find your dream home, negotiate your best deal and jump in. Buying property now is one of the best times in the last hundred years to get a bargain.



Star                     Dressing Your Home For Success



SHAH Ahmed, a Top Producer with Re/max Saskatoon shares five tips for successfully bringing your home to market.


  1. Major Repairs


A home in need of major repairs, inside and out, discourages buyers. Remember to replace, repair and repaint.


  1. Cleaning and Maintenance


You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so give your home a thorough cleaning and maintain it on a daily basis.


  1. Detailing


It’s the little things that make a house a home; use them to attract buyers. Try fresh flowers in the dining room, a crackling fire in the fireplace, even a welcome mat at the door.


  1. The 5-Sense Appeal


When selling your home, beauty is not only in the eyes of the beholder, it’s in all 5 senses; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative.


  1. Major Improvements


Is your house a little out of step with the times? You might want to consider remodeling key areas….but talk to your realtor first.


Shah Ahmed has a reputation for results and would like to add you to her list of satisfied clients. Whether buying or selling….call an agent who knows his business!


Shah Ahmed

Re/max Saskatoon

#200-227 Primrose Drive



email: shah@shahahmed.com

web site: http://www.saskatoonagent.com

(member of Re/max 100% Club)

Interest rates expected to remain low, Shah Ahmed RE/MAX Saskatoon.

Interest rates expected to remain low

Interest rates expected to remain low

The world's leading bankers are predicting that interest rates will remain near historic low levels for the foreseeable future, which is good news for home sellers and buyers.

Despite growing confidence that economic growth is in the offing, monetary policy around the world is likely to remain "ultra-accommodative," perhaps until 2011, as doubt remains as to whether or not the growth expected this quarter is sustainable, analysts say.

That is the view emerging following the weekend gathering of the world's leading central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., highlighted by remarks from Ben Bernanke, U.S. Federal Reserve chairman, who warned of the uncertainties ahead, and Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, who suggested he is in no rush to reverse emergency stimulus measures.

"It seems more likely that theyre will be no increases in interest rates in any of the major economies over the next 12 to 18 months."

Strategists at RBC Capital Markets concurred, adding in a note released Monday: "We continue to believe the economic backdrop will warrant a significant additional period of low rates.  Indeed, even at the Jackson Hole conference, there was not even a suggestion that we should be braced for anything other than that outcome."

This outlook applies to Canada as well. Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch, as part of global report on monetary policy, said it does not expect the Bank of Canada to begin raising rates until 2011 - well past its pledge to keep the key policy rate, at 0.25%, until June 2010.
Canada has a significant output gap - the difference between potential and real gross domestic product - and the rate at which money is deployed in the economy, or money velocity, has shrunk 15% since late last year even though the central bank has taken its target rate to its lowest possible level, the BofA-Merrill Lynch analysis indicates.
This outlook is similar to what economists at Laurentian Bank Securities suggested last week. They said a lack of pricing power for firms, a sizeable amount of excess supply and virtually non-existent upward pressure from labour costs means the bulk of policy tightening would not materialize until 2011.
The Bank of Canada signalled in its last economic outlook that it expected economic growth to resume this quarter, marking, technically, the end of a deep but relatively short recession.
It expects growth this quarter of 1.3%, 3% in the final three months of 2009, and the latter again in 2010. Further boosting the recovery story was data from Japan, Germany and France that indicated economic growth in the second quarter.
But there are growing concerns about the sustainability of this emerging recovery.
In a note published last week, Olivier Blanchard, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, warned of a difficult recovery that would take years to unfold as elements of the financial system remain dysfunctional.
Of particular concern in his outlook was the source of demand once governments phased out fiscal stimuli. The worry is that U.S. business investment and household spending would remain weak, and Asian economies would fail to pick up the slack.
Still, some leading central bankers warn about leaving interest rates too low too long.
Masaaki Shirakawa, governor at Bank of Japan, told his peers at Jackson Hole that policymakers must avoid economic bubbles fostered by expectations that interest rates will remain low.

"Shirakawa's point about the need to prevent future bubbles is weighing more on minds of central bankers, so maybe they do have to be a little more careful," said David Cohen, director of Asian economic forecasting at Action Economics in Singapore.

Cost of owning a home by Shah Ahmed RE/MAX Saskatoon 306 3412739

So, you've just become a new homeowner, or you're thinking of becoming one..... now, what is it going to cost to maintain it?

First, there's the one per cent rule, which claims that normal maintenance on a home is about one per cent of the value of the home per year.  This means that a $250,000 home would cost about $2,500 per year to maintain.  This would cover normal replacement of worn out components such as a failed water tank one year, roof repair another year, and the furnace the next.

Then there's the three per cent rule; some experts say that home buyers should plan on spending three per cent of the value of the home in the first year.  This is because new homeowners will likely purchase blinds and/or drapes, change some or all of the decor and maybe buy some appliances.

A Home Inspection (before you buy) will give you an idea of what is wearing out and what will last for a while.  For example, because the high efficiency furnace was installed a just a year ago, you likely won't be buying a new furnace for at least 15 years, since they last, on average, 15-20 years.  Or you know the shingles have never been replaced, they're looking a little rough and the house is 18 years old; count on getting up on the roof (or hiring someone) in the next year or so.  Asphalt shingles last approximately 12 -20 years.  This is not a reason to not buy the house, not a defect, just a something to be aware of.

Here are the typical life cycles of the most common home components:

  • Furnace >  15-20 years
  • Air conditioning system > 12-15 years
  • Water tank > 12 years
  • Sink garbage disposal > 10 years
  • Appliances > 12-20 years (varies substantially)
  • Asphalt shingles > 12 - 20 years
  • High-end asphalt shingles > 20-30 years
  • Cedar shingles > 20-35 years
  • Garage door opener > 10-15 years

Care and maintenance is the key.  Generally anything will last longer if it is not abused, kept clean and dry, and used only for the purpose it was intended.

People flock to Saskatoon Posted by Shah Ahmed Remax Saskatoon "www.shahahmed.com"
  • People flock to Saskatoon Posted by Shah Ahmed Remax Saskatoon "www.shahahmed.com"

    People flock to Saskatoon

    The population of Saskatoon proper has increased by its highest rate in more than two decades, jumping by 5,000 people this year to 218,000, according to the city's latest estimate.

    "It's a significant number," said Randy Grauer, manager of the city's planning and development branch. "It's a very big jump. But it's something we've expected to see, not something that's taken us by surprise."

    The numbers come from the city's bi-annual population update, which is done at the end of December and June each year.

    The city rejigged its calculation method this year to provide a more accurate number based on a percentage of the population of Saskatoon's metropolitan area, which includes surrounding towns. In previous years, the city had used somewhat outdated information from the census.

    Using the new method, the city's population grew from an estimated 213,000 at the end of June last year to 218,000 this year, said Bill Holden, manager of the city's research and information resource centre.

    The city's population has been growing for the last three years at a rate not seen in at least two decades, driven primarily by interprovincial migration and international immigration, Holden said.

    That bucks the long-held trend where most of the city's growth was driven by movement to the cities from rural Saskatchewan. Now, many towns are seeing their own renaissance, Holden said.

    "We haven't seen a number like that or estimated any number like that since back in the '80s," he said. "We're seeing more Ontario licence plates."

    The growth is driven by a large number of immigrants moving to Saskatoon from abroad and across Canada, primarily to reunite with their family through an expedited sponsorship program, said Mayor Don Atchison.

    The growing number of newcomers is prompting the City of Saskatoon to begin to investigate the possibility of a 311 municipal services line to make finding services at the city simpler, Atchison said.

    "It's something we need to work towards and start looking at very shortly," he said.

    - David Hutton - Saskatoon Star Phoenix

  • 9 Secrets to Selling Your House Fast in a Slow Market . SHAH AHMED

    9 Secrets to Selling Your House Fast in a Slow Market . SHAH AHMED

    August 24, 2009 by saskatoonhome

    Selling a house in a slow real estate market can be difficult. In times like these, it’s not enough to simply list your home and wait; you actually have to sell your home. No one really wants to sell anything when the market is bad, however, it’s not impossible to sell your house in these conditions. It just takes a positive attitude and a different kind of game plan. Even though the market’s not favourable to sellers and widespread economic recovery may be months, even years off, there are a number of tactics available to increase the likelihood of a sale.

    1. Know your market One of the most important things you can do to get your house sold is to learn your market, the value of your property and your competition. Most sellers operate in the dark, simply offering the property for the price they want, without regard to what other homes have sold for and are currently selling for. Undervaluing or overpricing your home can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

    2. Price your home right With homes sales slowing and prices plunging, there’s little doubt that selling for a good price in today’s market is going to be tricky. The median existing home price dropped more than 7% compared with the same month last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. So if you try to ask as much for your property as your neighbour got a year ago, you’re going to turn off potential buyers. Instead, price your home conservatively by looking at similar houses currently on the market. Also look at the homes that aren’t selling. Chances are those owners priced theirhomes too high. If you really want to stimulate a sale, you should under price your property by just a little. Trimming the price by a few thousand dollars can generate more foot traffic and create a buzz.

    3. Make your home presentable Keep your house looking good at all times, repair things that are broken, and replace things that are rundown. Add a fresh coat of paint (neutral colors preferred), freshen up landscaping, trim trees, clean up clutter and remove personal items, so that prospective buyers can picture themselves in the home rather than seeing you there. To guarantee a quick sale, consider using a professional home staging service. Your property must make a strong, positive impression. Staging a home is the cheapest way to make a house look different from your competition so it becomes the most memorable one that the buyer saw.

    4. Market your home aggressively In addition to using the multiple listing service, advertise in local papers and be sure to include beautiful photos. Each photo should showcase something interesting and unique about the property. Place numerous signs and flags in front of your home so that your house is easily seen. Consider placing a well designed flyer in front of the house. Make sure the flyer has great photos of the property from all angles, inside and out, as well as a link to a web site where people can take a “virtual tour.”

    5. Be flexible with showings It only takes one Buyer to get your home sold. Don ’ t make your Realtor feel as though their request for a showing is an inconvenience.

    6. Play up your home ’ s best features If you have fireplaces, make sure that you have fires burning so that there is a beautiful warm glow and the sound of crackling. If you have a gourmet cook ’ s kitchen, have some great-smelling treats baking in the oven. Turn on soothing music. Set all lights and lamps if the home looks dark or feels heavy. Lighting is crucial. Do the same as if you were having a formal dinner party- the house will certainly sparkle.

    7. Offer buyers incentives A low price may be incentive enough for some buyers, but others might be holding out for something more. This is where creativity can really take over. Perhaps you can throw in a new set of kitchen appliances, or a 3-day paid vacation in Mexico. There are a ton of incentives that speak to the heart of the buyer; be creative and see which one speaks to yours.

     8. Offer flexible termsOften, the best way to sell a home more quickly in a buyers market is to adjust the terms of the sale instead of the price. While it may sometimes be necessary to adjust the asking price downward, or to negotiate a lower price with the buyer, sometimes offering help with closing costs, or an extended settlement date, will go a lot further.

    9. The first offer rule If you get an offer within the first few weeks, the tendency is for sellers to try and hold out for a better offer. This is generally a mistake. The biggest fish usually bite first, so keep in mind that your first offer will often be your best. Lastly, keep a positive attitude!






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