While home prices have been rising and falling with alarming rapidity in most regions, the Saskatoon real estate market has been showing signs of strength and stability. Having posted no significant fluctuations over the past few months, we asked ourselves how a stable market could benefit prospective buyers. Kari Calder, a realtor with more than eight years of experience and local know-how, had the answers.
1. How would you describe the performance of the Saskatoon real estate market this year, and how is it affecting homebuyers and home sellers?
Our real estate market in Saskatoon has remained strong, and we are currently in a balanced market. We have more listings than we have had in the past, and we are now seeing more big home builders recognizing the value of REALTORS®. However, this skews the numbers a bit! Home buyers have plenty to choose from, making the market price sensitive, while sellers have to be aware of this and price a home appropriately.
2. What are the most sought-after neighbourhoods in the area, and, more importantly, what are the neighbourhoods where you can see a lot of growth potential?
Each neighbourhood has its pros and cons, so it depends on the price point of the buyer. New areas such as Evergreen on the east side and Kensington on the west side are always popular with younger buyers, but I generally find that second time buyers (and third and fourth) prefer more established areas. We are seeing a lot of infill properties being built in the older neighbourhoods both on Saskatoon’s east and west side as well. Areas such as Varsity View, Nutana, City Park, and the up and coming Riversdale, are some of the most popular destinations for Saskatoon home buyers.
3. What is more advantageous in the current market – buying or renting?
Buying, always buying. Because our market is stable and the interest rates are still low, it doesn’t make sense to pay someone else’s mortgage if you can buy a home yourself. Still, if you are not in the position to purchase at this time, the vacancy rate is higher than usual right now so there is also plenty to choose from. Also, if renting, never give money without meeting the owner and seeing the inside of the property beforehand. Do your homework!
4. Do you have any advice for first-time homebuyers in Saskatoon?
Yes! Find a good, trusted Saskatoon REALTOR® who has experience working with first time buyers and who can connect you with other professionals important to the process. Stay within your means so that you aren’t ‘house poor’. I usually find two types of first-time buyers: the ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’ buyers and the ‘I’m just excited to own my first home, I don’t care if the carpets are pink’ buyers. Try to be the latter as owning your first home is exciting, but it can also be a big life changer and you don’t want to overextend. There is a lot to know about the process, so make sure you are in good hands in terms of agent, mortgage broker, lawyer and home inspector. Also, always get inspections even if it is a brand new property! If you walk into a property and it feels like ‘the one’, then write an offer. It is awful to find the perfect place and then hem and haw and lose that home as you thought maybe there was something better.
5. All cities have secrets! What are Saskatoon’s best kept ones?
I love food so there are a few gems! Park Café is unassuming, but has excellent food and staff; Konga Café for Caribbean; La Bamba for unpretentious real Mexican food (and EE Burritos for great food and dancing!). There are so many restaurants that it is impossible to name them all here. Of course, Ayden is not such a hidden secret with the owner having won Canada’s Top Chef, but that is also a great spot. Village Guitar & Amp is a cool place for bands and private parties. The James Hotel is also a great boutique hotel if you are visiting and want to walk to many great places. The first several blocks of 20th Street West are now gentrified and there are loads of cool stores, restaurants and venues. The Farmer’s Market is also a favorite spot of mine. Personally, I love anywhere along the Meewasin Trail and love climbing the train bridge on 33rd and just watching the city…until a train comes along that is!
6. Are there any other insights that you would like to share?
I’ve lived all over the world and Saskatoon, although not originally home, is very much so. It’s a great community with much pride and home to many great people. Culture is abound and we are becoming the hub for many large companies due to the resource richness of this part of Saskatchewan. We are growing in so many good ways…
About Kari Calder
When she is not busy selling or procuring homes as an independent contractor for Century 21 Fusion, Kari likes to spend her time travelling alongside her husband. She is the proud mother of a one-year old boy, who often accompanies her when she is meeting clients. Talk about giving him a professional head start!