Pleasant Hill area of Saskatoon scores funding for area renewal

Saint Mary Community School in Pleasant Hill, Saskatoon

Until now, it has been just rumour and speculation that something fairly big was about to happen for the Pleasant Hill area of Saskatoon. Now, it’s official.

Mayor Don Atchison, Premier Lorne Calvert , and National Revenue Minister Carol Skelton have finally announced the details of a cooperative initiative between the city, the province and the federal government to begin some much needed redevelopment in the Pleasant Hill area. The renewal project will be funded through the Urban Development Agreement with $1.71 million coming from the City of Saskatoon. The province and the federal Department of Western Economic Diversification will each pick up $789,471 of the cost.

The plan involves leveling 29 properties, including commercial buildings on 20th Street between Avenue O and Avenue N, and the homes located on the 300 and 400 blocks of both of these avenues. Some cash will be invested in improving the infrastructure through out the entire neighbourhood to bring it up to today’s standards for commercial and residential development.

Once the land has been cleared it will be sold to Saskatchewan Housing for $1 so that it can be developed for affordable housing. Mayor Atchison estimates that new development could pump $20 to $30 million into the Saskatoon economy.

There was no further word on much needed improvements to St. Mary Community School, the venue for this special announcement; however Premier Calvert did bring hope that a result may not be far off. “I know full well that there are plans in the works for replacement of the school.” The land which is being redeveloped surrounds the school and community leaders are hopeful that a “community centre” can find a place in the plan.

This is the second major initiative undertaken in the Pleasant Hill area by the three levels of government. Last year, they funded demolition of an old strip mall and a warehouse. The three parcels of land which were liberated through the project will eventually become home to Station 20 West , a multi-purpose development which is expected to be home to a public library, a grocery store and various other area amenities.

Both of these initiatives will be great for Pleasant Hill home owners who haven’t seen nearly as much growth in property values as most other areas in Saskatoon over the last decade. In 2006, the average selling price of a home in the area was under $70,000, while the average for Saskatoon topped $170,000.

Saskatoon home prices see significant rise in January 2007

January is not normally one of the biggest months for real estate. We’ve just been through the holiday season, blown a wad of cash and on top of all that, it’s damned cold. Normally, only the most motivated buyers manage to get out and look at homes. This January, they were out and the numbers indicate that most of them were motivated!

Sales statistics just pulled from the Saskatoon Real Estate Board’s MLS® system show a 60% increase in dollar volume for resale homes traded in January, 2007 as compared to the same month last year. There were 219 homes which traded hands, up from 173 the year before. The average selling price of a Saskatoon home jumped 27% from $149,922 in January of 2006 to $190,037 this past month.

Total active residential listings stand at just 272 homes. That’s 46% fewer properties available now as compared to last year at this time. Look for more increases to come as buyers continue to fight for a place to live.

I’ll share a couple of real examples which I think give a pretty good indication of what occurred through the month of January.

Shorebird Watch is a condo complex which is being marketed in Lakeview. They offer 2 bedroom units of approximately 870 square feet. These units hot the market in May and were priced around $80,000 at that time. A series of small increase occurred through out the coming months and they reached $90,000 by the end of the year. January brought two $5,000 increases to boost asking prices for these homes to just over $100,000.

Consider next, Pine Creek, a Jastek project in the Lakewood area offering town homes of approximately 1,150 square feet. They’re very nice two-storey homes with open basements and the units which are selling today are scheduled to be completed in November. On January 13 these units were priced at $153,400 for a base model with no extras. On January 14 the prices rose to $158,400. Today, the same unit is selling for $169,400, an increase of over 10% during the month of January.

Of course, not all housing units will be affected to the same degree. Properties priced below the average selling price often go up quicker as entry level buyers scramble to try to firm up a deal before they get priced out of the market.

Make no mistake, it’s a hot market! My advice to buyers? Be prepared to pay a little too much today at the risk of paying far too much tomorrow. You must be prepared to write an attractive offer if you have much hope of seeing it fly.

My advice to sellers? Make darned sure that if you sign an MLS® listing that the home actually makes it to the MLS® system. Additional reading below.

Premium Saskatoon Houses Sell While Market is Still at Work

Deceptive Agent Practice Could Cost Sellers Money

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.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

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.