Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Celebrate the Summer with the Sunfest

July 31, 2010

It's all about having fun in the sun with this year's Inglewood Sunfest! This year we're adding more things to see and do, plus we'll still have all those favorite activities for the whole family. Starting at 11am on July 31, the street will come alive with performers, vendors, and fantastic food. Plan to come down and make this a family tradition!

This year we've got some exciting new activities planned for the Sunfest. Inglewood Sunfest is excited to announce SPLASH - a new initiative to raise funds for charity at the 2010 festival. In keeping with our summery theme the merchants and vendors at Inglewood Sunfest will be creating their very own Signature summer drink that festival goers can sample with the purchase of a SPLASH shot glass. All the proceeds from the sale of the shot glasses will go to the chosen charity for the year.

For more information:

Monday, July 26, 2010


Small condo with a big social life

Maximize your space -- and entertaining options
By Stephanie David, Edmonton Journal
Many people have made the sacrifice of downsizing their living space to gain a better location. But there is no need to sacrifice your social life.

Stephanie Fourgeaud has become accustomed to entertaining in a small condo. She has traded living space for a hot-spot location in the charming coastal region of western France. Her 50-square-metre condo is located in Royan, in the popular Charente-Maritime province.

There are not many drawbacks to living in France's sunniest region, but one is the price for space.

Living in a small condo has not stopped Fourgeaud from indulging in one of her favourite pastimes: socializing with friends. Fourgeaud's experience in entertaining in her spatially challenged condo makes for useful tips, no matter where the party is located.

Making the most of her small home starts with making room for extra. "I always make sure I have extra chairs and drinks that can be pulled out after the party has started," she explains. "It adds spontaneity, although everything is organized ahead of time." It also makes the room seem larger as guests are arriving.

Fourgeaud often separates the entrance from the living space with a simple wood partition and dresses it with party decor.

"It makes it easy to greet guests and collect jackets as they are arriving," she says. "This is a good chance to put jackets away in a separate area to keep the main room free of clutter."

Removing all unnecessary furniture can also maximize a limited space. Bar stools and floor cushions can add extra seating and create a casual atmosphere.

Organizing a centre to the room with edge-style seating further enhances space. For example, use functional furniture like a sturdy coffee table, push it against the wall, and add throw-cushions to create bench-seating.

One of Fourgeaud's favourite tricks to maximizing limited space is to serve snacks buffet-style and all food in bite-sized pieces. The key to her success: "lots of napkins."

She usually spreads the buffet across two tables and passes the appetizers herself. This both omits the need for a snack table and creates a more intimate atmosphere.

The keys to preparing a dinner buffet: plates and cutlery on the left, desserts and beverages last (or separate) and a serving utensil for each dish. Coloured napkins can be added to the buffet and to the room for decor that does not take up space.

If you don't want to compromise on the dining experience, another option is to rent or borrow a large table, which after dinner can be pushed against a wall and used for a coffee station or bar. When dealing with limited space, it is best to serve a plated meal from the kitchen so you will not have to accommodate a large spread of different dishes.

Alternatively, placing the food in separate stations in different parts of the room can encourage mingling, an added bonus if there is a lack of seating. Serve finger foods that can be consumed while standing.

If entertaining in a space split into two adjoining rooms, remove the door from its hinge and stash away in the bedroom to open up the space and draw the rooms together.

If including bar drinks, be sure to have extra ice stored in the bathtub or outside. If possible, have a bowl of ice on the counter and replenish as needed, to allow people to flow through a limited bar space faster.

Don't overstock the bar area, but do plan on an average of three glasses per person (five glasses in a bottle of wine). This designated drink preparation area will also serve to keep the beverages contained in one location.

An unused stove top with a flat, covered surface or a cupboard with the door removed works well for the bar when there is limited space.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Kensington Heats Up With Sun And Salsa

DATE: Sunday, July 25, 2010
TIME: 11:00 am until 5:00 pm

Start with tomatoes, add garlic and hot peppers, and garnish with cilantro! Set fire to those taste buds during Kensington’s 17th annual SUN AND SALSA FESTIVAL.

Kensington, Calgary’s ‘Village in the City’, invites you to participate in the Salsa Tasting Contest. Kensington businesses will serve up over 500 gallons of 40 different salsas. You get to be the judge. Purchase a bag of chips from our Charities for $3 or 2 for $5, and taste test your way through all the spicy salsa recipes served up by teams of Kensington businesses. Our Charities will also be selling water for $2.

This annual family event takes place along Kensington Road and 10th Street NW. Seven live entertainment stages will spread Latin flavour through the neighbourhood if you want to listen to music and dance. Bring your kids to the Children’s Carnival zone for family orientated entertainment and fun! Check out Kensington fashions on the Pageant stage or be astonished by our strongman in the King of Kensington Strongman Event. And of course all our great Kensington retailers, restaurants and pubs will be open for your shopping and eating pleasure. Along with the streets being filled with vendors & artisans selling a variety of products & services for the day.

Both Kensington Road and 10th Street will be closed for the day. There’s an LRT stop right at the Kensington Safeway, so public transit is a great way to beat the crowds. And we’re right off the bike paths so why not ride, blade, run or walk on over to our festival!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Five Reasons Why You Still Need A Real Estate Agent
Tara Struyk

Doing the work yourself can save money, but it could end up being more costly than a realtor's commission in the long run.

The proliferation of services that help homebuyers and sellers complete their own real estate transactions is relatively recent, and it may have you wondering whether using a real estate agent is becoming a relic of a bygone era. While doing the work yourself can save you the significant commission rates many real estate agents command, for many, flying solo may not be the way to go--and could end up being more costly than a realtor's commission in the long run. Buying or selling a home is a major financial (and emotional) undertaking. Find out why you shouldn't discard the notion of hiring an agent just yet.

1. Better Access/More Convenience

A real estate agent's full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. This means that he or she will have easy access to all other properties listed by other agents. Both the buyer's and seller's agent work full time as real estate agents and they know what needs to be done to get a deal together. For example, if you are looking to buy a home, a real estate agent will track down homes that meet your criteria, get in touch with sellers' agents and make appointments for you to view the homes. If you are buying on your own, you will have to play this telephone tag yourself. This may be especially difficult if you're shopping for homes that are for sale by owner.

Similarly, if you are looking to sell your home yourself, you will have to solicit calls from interested parties, answer questions and make appointments. Keep in mind that potential buyers are likely to move on if you tend to be busy or don't respond quickly enough. Alternatively, you may find yourself making an appointment and rushing home, only to find that no one shows up.

2. Negotiating Is Tricky Business

Many people don't like the idea of doing a real estate deal through an agent and feel that direct negotiation between buyers and sellers is more transparent and allows the parties to better look after their own best interests. This is probably true--assuming that both the buyer and seller in a given transaction are reasonable people who are able to get along. Unfortunately, this isn't always an easy relationship.

What if you, as a buyer, like a home but despise its wood-paneled walls, shag carpet and lurid orange kitchen? If you are working with an agent, you can express your contempt for the current owner's decorating skills and rant about how much it'll cost you to upgrade the home without insulting the owner. For all you know, the owner's late mother may have lovingly chosen the décor. Your real estate agent can convey your concerns to the sellers' agent. Acting as a messenger, the agent may be in a better position to negotiate a discount without ruffling the homeowner's feathers.

A real estate agent can also play the “bad guy” in a transaction, preventing the bad blood between a buyer and seller that can kill a deal. Keep in mind that a seller can reject a potential buyer's offer for any reason--including just because they hate his or her guts. An agent can help by speaking for you in tough transactions and smoothing things over to keep them from getting too personal. This can put you in a better position to get the house you want. The same is true for the seller, who can benefit from a hard-nosed real estate agent who will represent their interests without turning off potential buyers who want to niggle about the price.

3. Contracts Can Be Hard To Handle
If you decide to buy or sell a home, the offer to purchase contract is there to protect you and ensure that you are able to back out of the deal if certain conditions aren't met. For example, if you plan to buy a home with a mortgage but you fail to make financing one of the conditions of the sale--and you aren't approved for the mortgage--you can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract.

An experienced real estate agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis, and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can safely be removed and how to use the contract to protect you, whether you're buying or selling your home.

4. Real Estate Agents Can't Lie

Well, OK, actually they can. But because they are licensed professionals there are more repercussions if they do than for a private buyer or seller. If you are working with a licensed real estate agent under an agency agreement, (i.e., a conventional, full-service commission agreement in which the agent agrees to represent you), your agent will be bound by common law (in most states) to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by license law to act in their clients' best interest (not his or her own).

In addition, most realtors rely on referrals and repeat business to build the kind of clientèle base they'll need to survive in the business. This means that doing what's best for their clients should be as important to them as any individual sale.

Finally, if you do find that your agent has gotten away with lying to you, you will have more avenues for recourse, such as through your agent's broker, professional association (such as the National Association Of Realtors) or possibly even in court if you can prove that your agent has failed to uphold his fiduciary duties.

When a buyer and seller work together directly, they can (and should) seek legal counsel, but because each is expected to act in his or her best interest, there isn't much you can do if you find out later that you've been duped about multiple offers or the home's condition. And having a lawyer on retainer any time you want to talk about potentially buying or selling a house could cost far more than an agent's commissions by the time the transaction is complete.

5. Not Everyone Can Save Money

Many people eschew using a real estate agent to save money, but keep in mind that it is unlikely that both the buyer and seller will reap the benefits of not having to pay commissions. For example, if you are selling your home on your own, you will price it based on the sale prices of other comparable properties in your area. Many of these properties will be sold with the help of an agent. This means that the seller gets the keep the percentage of the home's sale price that might otherwise be paid to the real estate agent.

However, buyers who are looking to purchase a home sold by owners may also believe they can save some money on the home by not having an agent involved. They might even expect it and make an offer accordingly. However, unless buyer and seller agree to split the savings, they can't both save the commission.

The Bottom Line

While there are certainly people who are qualified to sell their own homes, taking a quick look at the long list of frequently asked questions on most “for sale by owner” websites suggests the process isn't as simple as many people assume. And when you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay to have a professional on your side.

Photo By: Wauter de Tuinkabouter

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Calgary's industrial market on the road to recovery
Vacancies decline for second straight quarter
By Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald July 14, 2010

The industrial real estate market is showing signs of recovery as the vacancy rate continues to drop and developers are expected to start on new projects as early as the end of this year.

Vacancies decreased for a second consecutive quarter in Calgary's industrial market as more properties were occupied and the slow pace of new construction continued.

A report by Colliers International in Calgary said the vacancy rate dropped to 5.36 per cent from 5.89 per cent in the second quarter of this year.

"This was driven by three large transactions of 50,000 square feet or more," said Joe Binfet, managing director of Colliers International.

"While rental rates are holding firm in the tighter large-bay market, rates are softer in the small-and mid-bay market as there are more options available to tenants."

There has been nearly 1.5 million square feet of positive absorption year-to-date, which has already surpassed the total absorption level from 2009. Absorption is the change in occupied space from one period to the next.

Binfet said developers are still hesitant to start construction on new developments, but he believes this will be short-lived.

"As positive absorption continues to increase and with no new supply coming to the market, rental rates will rise and interest in spec development will return," said Binfet.

The Colliers report said if a developer commenced construction on a new building today, the earliest it would be available for occupancy is the first quarter of 2011.

"There is only 18,720 square feet of construction underway that is available for occupancy. Look for at least one more quarter of decreasing vacancy, positive absorption and a moderate increase in net rental rates before speculative development commences again," the report says.

A report by Inducor Real Estate Solutions said the industrial real estate market has significantly fewer properties available for sale or lease now compared with June 2009.

"Leasing demand in the past year has been less than purchase demand, resulting in lower rental years than previous years," said the report. "From June 2009 to June 2010, net rental rates declined by seven per cent for properties over 50,000 square feet, by 10.3 per cent for those 20,000 to 50,000 square feet and by 9.3 per cent for spaces 5,000 to 20,000 square feet.

"After several years of significant increases, net rental rates have been declining steadily since June 2008. Since then, net rental rates are down by 23 per cent, 20 per cent and 20 per cent in these segments respectively."

Chris Saunders, managing partner of Inducor, said the consecutive quarters of a declining vacancy rate, a slower pace of decreasing rental rates and sale values, and developers preparing for the next cycle are all indicators of a recovering industrial market.

"The declining vacancy rate is the result of very disciplined developers combined with steady-eddy demand that has been the trademark of our industrial market for the last 15 years or so, even through the recession," said Saunders. "It was slower demand, but at least there was always a certain level of activity occurring. This steady demand has been chipping away at a consistent supply level so now vacancy is declining.

"Once we dip down into the low four per cent vacancy range, by the end of this year or early next year, we will see developers in the ground again, positioning for product completion in late 2011 and early 2012, which will bump rates again."

Industrial Real Estate Vacancy Rate

Region April 2010 July 2010

Central 2.73 % 2.68 %

Northeast 5.77 % 5.75 %

Southeast 6.85 % 5.69 %

Total 5.89 % 5.36 %

Source: Colliers International

Photo by: Wormey


High marks for Canada's real estate market
National Post · Saturday, Jul. 10, 2010

Canada may no longer be the most transparent housing market in the world, but it's close, according to a biannual survey of 81 countries.

Canada came in second behind Australia in the 2010 Jones Lang LaSalle Global Transparency index, which measures countries' legal and regulatory environments, market strength and real estate debt transparency, among other metrics. Canada ranked first in 2008.

"Canada differentiates itself on having a combination of a sound banking system, well-developed commercial real estate lending standards and stable property markets with relatively low vacancy and rental volatility," the report states.

The country's large, conservative financial institutions contributed to its high ranking, as did its relatively stringent protections for investors. Canada's largest investment banks are housed within its chartered banks, which have strong deposit bases and high capital reserve ratios, making bank runs and wholesale failures unlikely.

In addition, Jones Lang La-Salle notes that cashflow and collateral value of real estate loans are adequately monitored in Canada.

Canada and the United States (sixth place) were the only two countries in the Americas to score in the "highly transparent" category. The next closest, Chile, placed 34th ( "semi-transparent").

"The global recession which started in the United States has kept transparency levels stagnant as the flow of information, business and capital has declined," the report says.

Also in this third-tier category with Chile were Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica and Brazil, the only major economy to register notable progress.

Fully one-third of the world markets surveyed showed no change or declined from the 2008 index. Among the countries that showed improvement were Turkey, China, India, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Greece and Hungary.

Algeria came in last place, one of three countries labeled "opaque." (The other two were Syria and Sudan.) Pakistan showed the largest decline from the 2008 survey.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Construction of new homes in Calgary soared in June
By Mario Toneguzzi,
Calgary Herald July 9, 2010

CALGARY - Housing starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area soared in June compared with a year ago.

According to preliminary data released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., total starts during the month were 685, up by 57.8 per cent from June 2009.

Single-detached starts jumped to 531 from 374 last year, a 42 per cent hike while multiple-family starts rose by nearly 157 per cent from 60 in June 2009 to 154 last month.

To the end of June housing starts have increased in both categories year-to-date. There have been 4,617 total starts in the first half of this year compared wtih 1,981 for the same period a year ago. In the single-detached category, starts have increased from 1,549 last year to 3,335 this year while the multi-family category has seen a rise from 432 last year to 1,282 this year.

"This marks the 12th consecutive month where single-detached starts have increased on a year-over-year basis," said Richard Cho, senior market analyst for Calgary for the CMHC. "Builders in the last several months have taken the opportunity to replenish their inventory levels."

But Cho added that the year-over-year gains have started to moderate.

He said that despite the rise in multi-family production activity so far this year is behind last year's level.

"Elevated apartment inventories have contributed to fewer apartment projects breaking ground, keeping multi-family production below historial averages," said Cho.

In Alberta's seven largest cities, housing starts increased 33 per cent in June from 1,446 units in 2009 to 1,926 last month.