Hot housing trends for 2007

Ourdoor fireplace I came across an article on CNN Money titled, “5 home trends we never saw coming” which highlights some unusual items which more buyers are apparently looking for.


We’ve known for a number of years that many buyers are going for larger homes, so perhaps these top trends shouldn’t come as any real surprise.


CNN credits Mark Nash, author of Real Estate A-Z for Buying and Selling a Home who gathered this information in a recent survey which involved 923 real estate brokers, agents and industry experts were interviewed.

Here’s what Mr. Nash sees coming:

  • Upscale garages – “Today’s owners want their garages decked out with cabinet and storage systems, matching refrigerators, air conditioning and residential looking flooring.”
  • Personal Space – Nash calls it “caving” but the bottom line is personal space where people can find a little privacy to work or relax.
  • Rejuvenation rooms – Spaces set up for exercise, meditation, yoga, saunas and steam showers.
  • Heated patios – Expanding your living space to outdoor areas makes sense and there’s nothing like an outdoor fireplace or a natural gas heater to add a few weeks to both ends of the season.
  • Snoring rooms – A “snoring room” is simply an additional bedroom off of the master bedroom.

My wife asked me what a snoring room is and I described at as a comfortable room which she could use to escape my snoring. She said she thought it is more likely to become a comfortable room which I could use to escape her elbows. 🙂


Topping the list of features which we can expect to see less of? Spiral staircases, bamboo and laminate flooring.

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

85 year old woman gets surprise of her life lease

Old Woman

I heard a story today that left me so incensed, that I couldn’t resist repeating it.


Some time ago, a local church built “a 15 story high-rise building offering enriched housing for seniors.” Apparently, the building is managed by “a voluntary board (hereinafter referred to as the board) independent of the church. The building contains 109 suites, 36 are subsidized rental units and the remaining 73 are “life interest lease suites.” For those unfamiliar with the life lease concept, a buyer buys the right to use the unit for their lifetime. When they are finished with the home, it’s sold back to the original owner, usually a non-profit organization, and the price is determined based on terms outlined in the lease document.


Here’s the story as it’s told to me by the daughter of a senior couple (hereinafter referred to as John and Mary) who purchased a life lease in the building. I have not seen the documents involved in this transaction.


It seems that in 1989, John and Mary had reached their senior years and decided that they were ready for condo living. They purchased a life lease for $83,000 and happily settled in. At the time of the purchase, their lawyer expressed some concern regarding the ambiguity of the resale clause which stated that John and Mary were obliged to sell their interest back to the board when they were ready to sell at a price “hereon depending upon the conditions prevailing” at the time of the sale. Apparently, the documents do not indicate what “conditions” the price is dependent on. I expect most would agree that “real estate market conditions” would be the obvious inference. Comfortable that they were dealing with the church, John and Mary felt good about moving forward. They did.


In 1998, John passed away and Mary was a widow at 78 years of age. Sometime in early 1999, Mary gets a call from the board. As she tells the story, she’s allegedly told that her documents have to be updated to remove John’s name from the life lease. Mary is all too happy to oblige and signs the documents placed before her with the understanding that the only alterations to her original agreement are the names.


Mary’s most recent statement from the board is dated January, 2005 and it shows the “current market value” of her unit being $100,300. Between 1989 and 2005, the average selling price of an east-side condominium has increased 62%. For some reason, Mary’s unit has only increased by 20%. Further, it seems that some provision in her contract entitles the board to 50% of her equity gain. If true, this reduces her total return to just 10%.


Mary’s daughter is not pleased. She’s particularly troubled by the claim of entitlement to half of Mom’s equity, so she starts digging for paperwork. Lo and behold she comes across the original purchase agreement, and the updated agreement which was executed in 1999. She’s unable to find any clause which specifically addresses a sharing of the equity, but she notices that the first and second agreements are not the same. Where the initial agreement stated that the selling price was “hereon depending upon the conditions prevailing,” the second agreement has additional wording which states the price is to be determined at the “sole discretion” of the board.


It seems that the board has also contracted themselves with an “irrevocable assignment” to act as her attorney to deal with and make all decisions related to the disposition of the property.


Of course, I’m not a lawyer so I suggested that Mary’s daughter might want to meet with one real soon.


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

The paradox of price

Saskatoon Real Estate Prices

The Paradox of Price: When the ‘price is right’ buyers get involved quickly and sellers gain a competitive advantage. Use the paradox of price to your benefit. If you have the will to set a compelling price, the reaction of the marketplace will benefit you.


These wise words come from Toronto’s Real Estate Intelligence in an excellent post titled, The Price is Righteous. Check it out here for some smart insight into pricing your home properly.


Even in a hot real estate market like Saskatoon is experiencing proper pricing is an important element to obtaining top-dollar offers early on in the listing period. Homes which remain on the market longer than the average selling time are viewed suspiciously by buyers and agents, who usually conclude that the property is overpriced, or has some other problem which is preventing it from selling. Of course, if prices are rising or falling at a rapid pace, price trends need to be given serious consideration as you review comparable sales and competitive listings.


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

Guess who’s runnin’ back to Saskatoon

Running Back to Saskatoon

I suspect by now you’ve heard that people are returning to Saskatchewan in a fairly big way. Stats Canada recently reported that some 3,700 families moved to Saskatchewan from Alberta between July and September of last year. The most recent labour figures tell a bigger story. There were 9,800 more people employed in the city of Saskatoon in November, 2006 as compared to the previous year.


While we’ve assisted families from pretty much every province with a move there’s no question that the majority of those who are returning to Saskatoon are coming from Alberta. Escalating housing costs, quality of life and increasing crime rates seem to be the primary motivators which are causing them to feel homesick.

Lori Coolican writes an interesting story in today’s Star Phoenix and speaks with a number of families who’ve decided to make Saskatoon their home base again.


Read Running Back to Saskatoon here


Expect to see continued pressure on housing inventory levels and prices in 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 compelling case for more photos on your home listing

Saskatoon real estate agents have known for years that home buyers who are shopping for homes online are very interested in viewing photos. As far as they’re concerned, the more photos an online ad offers the better. Survey after survey places photos at the very top of the “what’s important to you” list. It makes sense. Life is busy for all of us and the more information we can receive in advance of making an inquiry, the greater our ability to qualify properties saving ourselves time in the process.


However, until now, most of the evidence has been purely anecdotal without any solid statistical support. I suppose that’s why I found a recent post titled, “The Most Important Number in Listing Marketing,” by Point2’s COO Brendan King so interesting. Point2 is the largest real estate network in the world hosting hundreds of thousands of property listings in their database which are displayed to millions of viewers at Point2Homes each month. They are in a position to deliver definitive answers on the viewing habits of home buyers and that’s exactly what they’ve done with this fascinating study.


Over a thirty day period, Point2 observed the viewing habits of people that visited their website and concluded that “views” of listings and “leads” generated by those listings increased significantly as the number of photos available on a listing increased. On the following graph, the vertical axis represents the number of photos on a listing and the bars represent the number of viewings on a listing, followed by the number of leads which were generated as a result of those views. Clearly, we see properties which feature just one photo generating approximately 5 views and 1.37 leads, while listings displaying 21 or more images received over 77 views and close to 11 leads.


Brendan King's Graph on Photos

One serious question remains unanswered in this study; in spite of overwhelming evidence that listing photos are a major benefit to both buyers and sellers, why do agents typically under deliver in this area? With today’s technology it costs nothing to capture more images. Granted, there is a time investment required in capturing, processing and posting the images but it seems marginal to me in light of the potential benefits for both the seller and the seller’s agent.

If you’re thinking of selling your Saskatoon home, why not make the number and the quality of photos part of your selection criteria when choosing an agent? It will pay dividends.


Related Posts: If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, What Are the Photos of Your Home Saying to Prospective Buyers?

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