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 Dear Friends,

Winter is coming and, as statistics show, Canadians spent between 80 to 90 per cent of their time indoors during the colder months.

This means that it is hugely important to consider the health of your home – from air quality to lighting – to make sure that you and your family are as healthy as possible. We have some advice on what to look for.

And speaking of what to look for — check out our lists of upcoming events around the city to look out for! Many of them are free, family-friendly and fun, making it a great excuse to get out of the house.

To keep you up-to-date in the world of real estate, we’ve happily included the latest market report, in an easily digestible infographic form, and a news brief explainer on the new mortgage qualification rules.

No matter what your needs are, we have you covered. Whether guiding you towards a healthier, happier home or helping you buy the perfect house, I am here for you and happy to help you, or a friend, in a real estate journey.
Cyber Summit (Nov. 7 - 9)
Event of workshops and discussions about the effects of technology on the economy and different parts of the world, held in Banff.
Farmfair International (Nov. 8 - 12)
Western-style agricultural fair with events like bronco riding and barrel racing, held at the Expo Centre.
Hadestown (Nov. 11 - Dec. 3)
A play based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, telling the story of love, epic quests and the struggle between faith and doubt. Showing at Citadel Theatre all month.
All Is Bright Festival (Nov. 25)
Street festival lights and fire dancers, perfect to get in the holiday mood. Free and family-friendly.
St. Albert Indoor Christmas Market (Nov. 25 Dec. 16)
Four weekends of Christmas markets with fresh produce, baked goods and little gifts.
Festival of Trees (Nov. 30 Dec. 3)
A holiday celebration focused on a good cause; this festival of all things Christmas-related raises money for the Alberta Hospital.
Bustling winds, rainy days, and stormy nights are now solidly upon us with few hints left of warmer times left.

Do not despair, with the shift of seasons comes a chance for change for both you and your home.  Take the right steps for you and your family to be happy and well.

Air quality
  • Spring-cleaning is an old adage but don’t wait till next year.
  • Now is the time to vacuum, dust and sweep up dust bunnies and cobwebs.
  • Thoroughly check for moisture spots and moulds—certain strains, like black mould, can be deadly.
  • Consider purchasing an air filter for improved quality.
Lights
  • A lack of sunshine and light during the winter can cause SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Proper lighting and vitamin D supplements can help mitigate the symptoms, however.
  • Sunlight lamps produce a glow similar to the sun and, in addition to helping with the winter blues, can feel more calm and natural that harsh light.
  • Consider switching to LED lights to lower electricity costs.
  • Tri-coloured bulb – with each flick of a switch, the bulb casts a different tone and it’s a great way to control the lighting without buying multiple lamps. 
Green clean
  • Air fresheners, though pleasant smelling, often contain harmful chemicals that can cause lung disease and aggravate allergies. Switch to natural, biological fresheners.
  • If you don’t recognize the long list of ingredients on your cleaning products, consider switching to something more natural. Eco-friendly choices are good for you, your home and the environment.
  • What’s in your laundry detergent and soap? Some chemicals can dry skin and damage clothes. Biological keeps you just as clean without the harshness.
Safety
  • Even more important than health consciousness, basic safety measures can be life-saving. Do not skimp or skip on this front.
  • Check that your fire alarm works and you have a fire extinguisher close at hand and easy to locate in an emergency.
  • Make sure there are carbon monoxide detectors working and placed around your home, especially in bedrooms.
  • Have an earthquake preparedness kit at hand and an evacuation plan ready – know with certainty where you will seek shelter if the earth starts shaking.

Qualifying for a mortgage has never been a breeze and it’s about to get much harder.

In mid-October, the federal government announced changes to mortgage qualification rules and a more stringent “stress test” for uninsured mortgages for those with a 20 per cent or higher down payment.

The biggest impact these changes will have is on purchasing power and housing affordability. Rate Hub, a rate comparison website, looked at two different financial scenarios to compared what a family could afford to buy before and after the new rules.  

Before the changes, a buyer could borrow roughly the equivalent of seven times their yearly income. With the new rules, that has been reduced to slightly more than five times their yearly income.

In practice, the new rules means that homebuyers have had their buying power slashed by about 20 per cent.

The latest stress test comes after several other rule changes this year in the real estate market that have been met with equal criticism. Earlier this fall, borrowers with less than 20 per cent down payments were affected and, now, the focus has turned to those with 20 per cent or more down payment. 

The idea, regulators explain, is to help protect banks and ensure that everyone – no matter how much money they’ve initially put down – have to undergo a stress test before borrowing.

Banks are competitive and, to drive business, do not want to offer below-market rates and mortgages if other banks are doing so. By making it a federal regulation, it means that all banks have to be on board – levelling the playing field and reducing risks from uninsured mortgages all around.

For homebuyers, however, it means that some properties are now out of financial reach which brings up all sorts of issues of housing affordability because people will no longer qualify to borrow as much money as previously.

Experts say that the new measure will hit the real estate market like a sledgehammer by driving down prices. Others believe it is a good change and will equalize the market over time.

The changes come into effect on January 1, 2018.



Acknowledgments

We want to send a special thank you to Jan Nilsson and Sam Gervais for their recent referrals. Our business depends on people just like them and it is extremely appreciated!

 
 
 
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Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.