City of Saskatoon slates 2,192 residential lots for development in 2007

The City of Saskatoon has approved plans to make 2,192 residential lots available to home builders and consumers who wish to build homes in 2007, provided that the manpower required to install water and sewer services can keep up with demand. The current plan has over 1,600 of those lots slated for single-family homes. In 2006 there were fewer than 900 single-family homes constructed within the Saskatoon city limits.

Council will vote Monday on a plan to allow the Builder’s Initiative Group, a coalition of some of Saskatoon’s largest builders to directly purchase 100 lots from the City. The remainder of them would be sold through a single-pick land draw process.

Alan Thomarat, executive director of the Saskatoon Region Home Builder’s Association has worked hard to lobby City Council and to gain support from other stakeholders in the Saskatoon real estate business, effectively arguing that the city can easily find willing buyers for 2,000 lots per year. No doubt, he’s pleased by this decision but he is cautious in his optimism noting that builders need some assurance that they can count on the city to move this policy forward in coming years. Contractors will need to feel confident that they’ll have work before making commitments to substantially build their labour force.

This is good news from my perspective. A quick check of the MLS® system today shows fewer than 250 active residential listings in Saskatoon across all neighbourhoods and price ranges. Last year at this time, there were more than twice as many homes on the market, and even then, selection seemed very limited for prospective buyers. Low inventory levels are putting heavy pressure on the price of Saskatoon homes. Hopefully, this new land development policy will be effective in restoring some needed balance to the Saskatoon real estate market.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

A note for Angela – a Saskatoon home buyer

A note for Angela, a Saskatoon home buyer I was browsing a blog I frequent when I came across a reference to a post that appeared on from a 25 year old Saskatoon woman who just purchased her first home. I was moved by her excitement and very much wanted to leave her a message. However, it seems that I need a MySpace account to place a comment there and I soon learned that I’m either too stupid or too old to sign up for a one. 🙂 Since I was unable to leave her a comment on her blog, I thought I’d post her a note here in the hope that she or someone she knows might see it.

Here’s what Angela had to say:

So, I decided that it was high time I jump into the Saskatoon real estate market.  I have been looking for over a year now, but always felt that I didn’t make enough money, or that my credit wasn’t good enough.  I am full of excuses.  Anyway, I found a 2 bedroom apartment style condo that was in my price range.  I went to a mortgage broker, worried that I was subjecting myself to imminent failure.  Nope.  Approved for the full amount I needed.  Too bad from the time I found the place to the time I actually went to the broker the price went up 7%.  I am still kicking myself.

Read the rest of Angela’s post here

My message to Angela:

Congratulations! What an exciting move. It does take a lot of guts to step out there and dream big. I gather from your post that you’re feeling your guts a little more than you’re used to? That’s pretty normal for someone who has just made the biggest purchase of her life. It will soon go away. I expect that you’ll eventually be feeling very proud of this tremendous accomplish. I hope you will.

You can probably stop kicking yourself anytime now. Any hesitation that you might have felt is normal for such a huge decision and only fools drop tens of thousands of dollars without a lot of thought. I expect that you will be well rewarded in the coming years. These homes should continue to do very well and I’m sure that your willingness to “put yourself out there” will open many doors for you. I remember being 25 and how hard it was to sign on the dotted line but now that you’re in, I think you’ll find that equity growth in a home of your own is an excellent way to begin to build a little wealth and some net worth.

Of course, it’s not really about the money. More than anything, I hope you’ll find comfort in your new home. Having your own place is pretty cool. It’s nice to be able to invite your friends in, invite them to leave, and occasionally just close the door and shut the whole world out. It’s your place. You make the rules. You now have the freedom “to rip out EVERYTHING and make it all pretty and nice.” Hope you have fun with that.

You also provide some pretty good insights as far as “the bear décor theme” is concerned. I have to agree with you. That look is so yesterday! In fact, sellers would be wise to pack all of their animal carcasses and coats away prior to placing a home on the market. I realized this a few years ago while I was showing a house that had a few of those little ornaments. Suddenly, my client was gone. 🙂

Best wishes Angela and thank you for an inspiring message. You make me want to do something big today.

A tip of the hat to Larry Cragun for the heads up on Angela’s post.

Preparing your home for showings and picking a list price

After a fairly long week, I just needed to grab a bit of a break this weekend. I haven’t been able to crank out a single thought worth digitizing so I thought I’d share a couple of the best posts that I’ve read this week on other excellent blogs.

Both of these posts are most relevant to home sellers.

Teresa Boardman, “the goddess of blogging” from St. Paul, Minnesota writes an engaging post titled, “Sellers, can we talk?” It recounts her experience in attempting to show a home which has been left in total darkness. I couldn’t help but relate to most of the issues she encounters. Her experience brings home the importance of properly prepping your home for each showing. You’re going to be much better off as a seller if the showing agent can focus on the home, and her client, as opposed to chasing the cat down the street or stumbling around looking for lights.

Read Teresa’s post here.

Doug Quance, of Atlanta, Georgia recounts a rather sad but true story of a stubborn seller who is cheating himself out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in “When do you know the listing price is too high for your home?” Even in a good real estate market, a listing price needs to make sense to prospective buyers. They almost always look at several homes and an overpriced listing serves nobody, except your competition. In a declining market, proper pricing is paramount. If the price is too high to start, it can only look worse as prices decline (not a real concern in the Saskatoon real estate market at this time).

Read Doug’s post here.

Teresa and Doug, thanks for letting me lean on you this evening. Nice work with these excellent posts.

River Landing penis no big deal

Saskatoon River Landing

Everyone’s talking about it, but apparently nobody is complaining about local artist Doug Taylor’s snow sculpture of a pair of magic mushrooms, one of which has a stem shaped like a penis.

Taylor’s sculpture is one of seven gracing the bank of the South Saskatchewan River at River Landing. They were carved last weekend from snow blocks weighing sixteen tonnes, and standing 2.5 metres tall.

I’m sorry to say that Star Phoenix reporter Darren Bernhardt has beat me to the best lines one could possibly come up with. Darren notes in his piece published Wednesday that the sculpture was, “erected over the weekend,” and that “It sticks out from the wholesome snow sculptures…like a…well, giant penis.”

Laura Hale, a Saskatoon artist who organized the display for the Meewasin Valley Authority told the Star Phoenix, “Some people around here have said ‘I don’t see it at all.’ I guess it’s how you look at it.”

Well Laura, those people either need an eye test or an anatomy lesson because this work of art clearly resembles a penis, though as my wife pointed out, “it’s hardly a giant one.”

River Landing is located in the Central Business District of Saskatoon.

Average selling price of a Canadian home up 264% over 25 years

Average selling price of a home in Canada up 264%

The average selling price of a Canadian home has appreciated 264 percent over the last 25 years, according to a new study.

That amounts to an annual increase of 5.3 percent, not bad given the fact that a home is an “investment” which brings the added benefit of shelter to owners. Of course, value gains on principle residences in Canada are tax exempt making a home that much more attractive as an investment.

The study, just released by Remax Real Estate examined increases in the average selling price of a home in 17 housing markets across Canada, including Saskatoon.

Lately it seems that everyone is talking about the heat of the Saskatoon real estate market so you may be surprised to see that Saskatoon showed the second smallest increase (148%) of all of the markets surveyed. This doesn’t strike me as a huge surprise. Over the long-term, Saskatoon has pretty much always shown slower growth than most other Canadian markets. Typically, we’re accustomed to gains in the range of 3 to 4 percent but that trend has started to change in recent years. In 2005, prices increased 9 percent. In 2006, the average price of a Saskatoon home rose 11%. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our current levels of low inventory and high demand could, and probably will bring increases which exceed those in 2007.

So what’s changing in this area? First of all, our whole provincial economy looks entirely different than it did 10 years ago when Saskatchewan was largely dependent on agriculture.

Today, we are quickly becoming a leader in natural resources with heavier production in oil and uranium. Some believe that diamonds will be the next big thing for Saskatchewan if Shore Gold continues to pull stones like they have been lately. Science has also played a pretty significant role in the Saskatchewan economy over the past five years. 15 years ago, our children had to leave Saskatchewan to find work. Today, a multitude of jobs and affordable housing is luring them back home.

My money says that we’ll see Saskatoon playing catch up with the rest of the country over the next few years.

See a Google map displaying the boundaries of Saskatoon real estate “areas” here
Data collection and calculation for our statistical reports

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate