If you’re looking to buy real estate, we advise you to sit down with a passionate agent, for a long talk. The information and perspective you’ll learn is simply invaluable. We did just that, with expert agent Jeanine Osborne (and her gorgeous cat). Read her excellent insights into the Edmonton real estate market, from condominiums to foreclosures, and everything in between.
Tell us a few words about your job as a real estate professional? What do you love most about your job?
We all work to support our families and put food on our tables. That said, helping people one house at a time is what I love as a REALTOR®. When it comes time to buy or sell a house, folks are looking to change more than just the walls around them. Life is what causes folks to move, whether that is for perceived positive or negative reasons.
I enjoy helping folks prepare for their futures or move on from their pasts. Either way, I love helping people create better lives for themselves and their families – financially, mentally and emotionally.
What is the single most difficult part of a real estate professional’s job?
This profession never sleeps. Real estate is instant, everything from getting showing requests in the morning for that afternoon, to getting offers for homes at 11 at night. A REALTOR® is almost always ‘on-call’, and it can cause an agent to become very unbalanced in their personal lives.
Clients and customers expect us to be ever present and available, and to respond immediately. As with any good business, it is not an excellent idea to put one customer ahead of another. Balancing everyone, including my family and self-interests, is a work-in-progress.
What can we expect in terms of prices and inventory in 2017 in Edmonton?
The impact of the oil price shock on the Alberta economy appears to be subsiding. The economy is expected to expand in 2017, driven by oil and manufacturing exports, public sector infrastructure spending, and reconstruction and revival of Fort McMurray real estate.
Total housing starts in Q4 2016 increased in the city, especially in the case of Edmonton multi-family housing. High inventory levels in the resale and new housing market, and rising vacancy levels in the rental market will constrain new starts at current levels over the first half of 2017.
Have you spotted any interesting trends recently in the home buying process?
Mortgage approvals are getting tougher and trickier all the time. I am often asked “When is the best time to buy real estate?” That answer is when you are ready.
Recently the Minister of Finance announced changes to Canada’s housing rules. This resulted in approximately 20% less buying power for Canadians, and Edmonton’s real estate market was not immune to the results of the change.
Where we used to see the $400,000-$499,000 price bracket in second place for years, we now see $200,000-$299,000 in second place and $400,000-$499,000 in third place. Approximately 32% of homes sell in the $300,000-$399,000 price range.
Did you notice a preference for buying in the suburbs, and if so, what are the reasons for that?
Beaumont is an area near Edmonton that is being recognized for major population growth – 31% between 2011 and 2016. Edmonton, while being a large economic center, only grew by 13.9% in comparison.
Beaumont real estate is part of a lovely community within a very short drive to Edmonton, with smaller population, and that lovely small town feeling. Beaumont compares to other oil and gas communities close to Edmonton, which saw large population growth as well: Spruce Grove at 30% and Fort Saskatchewan at 27%.
Is mortgage an option also used for buying luxury properties in Edmonton?
Assuming that Edmonton luxury real estate is defined as over $1 million, the buyer has their 20% down payment, and it is to be their primary residence, a mortgage is still an option if they qualify. That being said, each application is unique and the debt servicing guidelines greatly matter. Approximately 12% of homes sell over the $500,000 price range in Edmonton. There is no foreign investor tax in Alberta, currently.
Do you think the current mortgage system in Canada is actually discouraging prospective home buyers from considering smaller homes? Is getting a loan for a small home more difficult?
I believe that recent changes to mortgage qualification rules have helped to transform ‘champagne wishes’ into ‘beer budgets.’ Folks have been forced to buy less expensive homes, which usually equates to less square footage or greater age of home. While ‘Tiny Homes’ are abuzz in today’s news, there are only a few examples of ‘micro-condos’ available in our area.
Are home buyers in Edmonton buying properties in foreclosure or are they avoiding them?
Most folks would love to get that ‘Lottery deal,’ yet they understand fair market valued priced homes are out there to be found. This doesn’t always mean foreclosed or in foreclosure homes.
I often note, when a client is informed about the process of submitting an offer to the Court of Queens Bench (for an in foreclosure home), they find the process too daunting and will often look for a more stable re-sale purchase process.
Have you spotted any trends in the Millennials’ attitudes towards home ownership? Are parents also involved in their home buying process?
Home ownership is still a top priority for most Canadians, regardless of age and location. Home ownership means freedom to some, maturity and responsibility to others, as well as a financial future for many.
While millennials have been slow to enter the market due to financial constraints, some are turning to their folks for help, either to co-sign their mortgage loan or help them with a gifted down payment.
In the past few months, have you spotted a rising interest in one particular area or neighbourhood? If so, which one is it? Why do you think this is happening?
The City of Edmonton and Leduc County are wrapping up negotiations which have been ongoing since 2014, regarding land annexation to the north of the Edmonton International Airport.
Previously, the City was near its boundaries on all sides except the North East. This south central annexation has led to more housing and commercial development within Heritage Valley and alongside the QE2 corridor.
Did you notice a rising interest in a particular property type?
Dual Masters are certainly making a rise in our market. With affordability for first time home buyers becoming more difficult, folks are looking to share costs with friends and family. Having two large bedrooms and two ensuite bathrooms makes this type of home a fitting choice for living well.
Are there any particular struggles that your clients complain about in the home buying process?
Concerning Edmonton condominiums, the purchase process can leave much to be desired for home buyers. Unfortunately, most sellers are unaware of the on-goings of their condo community, its reserve fund, as well as pet policies.
The misinformation surrounding condominiums is vast, listings are inaccurate regarding restrictions, and a buyer often has no information on a condo before they write their offer. It is a complex scenario, in that 98% of condo documents will not be provided until a buyer has already negotiated and signed an offer with the seller. Then, the buyer usually waits 10 days to get the information required from the seller, only to have many more questions.
Are rentals in Edmonton a better option than buying? How can your clients decide?
Buying a home in Edmonton is nearly the same price as renting, so it doesn’t make much sense to rent in our area. If my clients are looking to figure out what’s best for them, I recommend they speak with one of my trusted mortgage professionals, and to seek a mortgage loan pre-qualification. I think, if you can qualify, it’s time to buy.
Are your clients interested in buying homes that need restoration, or do they prefer buying renovated homes?
Edmonton has a lot of individuals who work in the trades, with circles of influence surrounding trades and construction. I notice approximately 60% of folks use their circle of influence to their benefit, to renovate homes for both comfort and flipping. The remainder of folks are looking to have everything done for them, wanting a turn-key property.
What criteria should home buyers consider when choosing their REALTOR©?
First, a sales person is not a REALTOR®. Many folks don’t know the difference or the liabilities of working with a builder’s sales individual, versus a licensed REALTOR®. Good ethics, transparency, and honesty are vital to the role of a successful REALTOR®, and are extremely important to a fair transaction.
It is regrettably difficult to check for ethics and honesty. A great baseline rule is when asking to tour homes listed for sale. If you ask a REALTOR® to show you a private residence, and that REALTOR® doesn’t ask if you are working with another REALTOR®, or doesn’t ask you to sign up under a Buyer Brokerage agreement, they are not fulfilling their duties and responsibilities right from the beginning.
How should buyers prepare for the home buying process? Any tips you’d like to share?
Purchasing a house is one of the biggest transactions you’ll ever make. Whether it’s your first time or the fifth, tackle the following prep work:
- Calculate what you can afford. Use a home affordability calculator to make sure you’re ready for the mortgage payments.
- Check your credit score, and fix any inaccuracies you discover ASAP. Errors can impact your ability to get a good interest rate.
- Save up for a down payment. Most lenders require 5 to 20 percent, and larger down payments can lower the amount you pay each month.
- Be ready for additional closing costs. Plan to have approximately 3 percent of the home’s purchase price on hand, to cover taxes, fees and other necessary charges.
Any other insights you’d like to share?
Greige is over, it’s time to update your paint colour to Grey!
An Edmonton Area native, Jeanine Osborne has extensive knowledge of the different neighborhoods within and surrounding Edmonton. A real estate professional for more than 6 years, Jeanine Osborne is known for integrity, diplomacy and sincerity in all her dealings. She serves the entire Greater Edmonton area and specializes in home buying and selling, investment properties and condominiums.
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