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Calgary home for the tech lover

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Zoon Media

530 Crescent Rd. NW Calgary

Asking Price: $3,550,000

Taxes: $16,665.00 (2021)

Lot Size: 28.9- by 120-feet

Agents: John A. McNeill, Century 21 Bamber Realty Ltd.

In 2013 the Bow and Elbow Rivers overflowed their banks, flooding downtown Calgary, a multibillion dollar disaster that was the largest flood in the city since 1932.

Married couple Kalvin MacDonald and Karin Winkler were among the 100,000 people who evacuated the area as water swamped their ground-floor condominium apartment. In the aftermath a question lingered: should they renovate or maybe consider moving to higher ground?

“We were down by the river for 22 years in a great condo. … We’ve always lived in condos, but how about a house?” said Mr. MacDonald.

They loved the views on Crescent Road but there was nothing for sale, so their realtor at the time cracked open the phonebook: “She phoned every owner of old homes on this block, and talked one into selling,” said Mr. MacDonald.

The couple ended up buying an older home and set about the process of working with builders and architects to knock it down and fashion a new custom home that would give them some of the amenities of condo life they had gotten used to.

The house itself is still just a 15 minute walk to downtown, but with stunning vistas.

“I don’t think there’s a better view in Calgary than on this ridge,” Ms. Winkler said. “There’s a full city view, and a mountain view if you look to the west.”

In some ways the entire house is oriented toward the view: the modernist building has a main floor wall of windows 13-feet high – made special in Belgium – and a similar wall of windows on the second floor. There are outdoor spaces with built-in fireplaces to extend the social hours on chilly nights.

“We purposely wanted to have those outdoor areas, sitting out with dogs or friends [the couple has two chihuahua’s]. … The architect [Sean McCormick of Jackson McCormick Design Group] came back with the idea for that front courtyard, and that’s a 55,000 BTU fireplace,” Mr. MacDonald said. What was nice to have in the pre-pandemic era became a must-have as indoor socialization was limited during the lockdown months. “Being able to sit out in the front courtyard, with blankets late at night … it was awesome,” he said.

All lights in the house are programmable, there are speakers in every room (including the showers) that can connect to streaming audio such as Spotify, motorized window blinds and much more.Zoon Media

The House Today

The feature sheet on this home includes an almost bewildering variety of home automation devices and options that are not merely toys but define the experience of the house as much as the views do.

“The builder and the home automation specialists really presented us with all the options, I’d like to say we refused one,” Mr. MacDonald said, grinning, though he confesses he can’t recall turning anything down. “I’m an engineer and I like tech.”

For instance: the front walkways, the rear laneway driveway, courtyard and that concrete terrace are all heated, meaning only a strip of municipal sidewalk ever needs shovelling. “It’s not on all the time, there’s sensors outside so, if it snows, it turns on,” Mr. MacDonald said. The glycol boiler system also heats the interior floors and runs through the forced-air furnace as well. There are two boilers and more than a dozen pumps in the mechanical room for this high-tech system.

There are also gates that lock magnetically at the front and back – more for wild-life than trespassers – and exterior cameras have caught the occasional solicitor or paper-delivery man clambering over gates that defeat most men and beasts.

Also on the home tech list: all lights are programmable; speakers in every room (including the showers) that can connect to streaming audio such as Spotify; motorized window blinds and phantom screens for doorways; an elevator; an automated irrigation system; water sensors in the laundry and mechanical rooms. All of this can be controlled from panels in the gym, office and bedroom or by mobile device or desktop computer.

  • Home of the Week, 530 Crescent Rd. NW CalgaryZoon Media

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The front entrance is set back beside the main living area. Large glass panes can slide back to make the front terrace one large indoor-outdoor space. From the living room there are two steps into the formal dining room at the centre of the floorplan, and another two steps up into the kitchen. On the very back of the house is a screened in back deck and an office workspace (with motorized desks for sitting or standing). Sitting in the office, you can turn around and look straight through to the front terrace and beyond. “The idea was, wherever you are, you have a view to the downtown,” Mr. MacDonald said. “We’re in some ways kinda’ traditional: we like to eat at home. In our condo the kitchen and office were on opposite ends, now the kitchen is right off the office.”

The elevator entrance on this level is also in the kitchen, as is the powder room.

A curved staircase off the formal dining room heads upstairs and downstairs, at the base of the basement stairs is a mudroom/storage area with built-in cabinets and access to the garage and elevator (good for grocery loading). A few steps down is the gym/rec room, that is currently decked out like it’s a small condo’s gym. There’s also bathroom with shower on this level.

The second floor almost entirely devoted to the primary bedroom, a huge walk-in closet and a large five-piece bathroom. A laundry room is across from the elevator and behind that is a rear-yard-facing guest bedroom with its own ensuite bathroom.

The third floor is a sort-of man-cave in the sky according to Mr. MacDonald, although the next owner could turn it into a teenager’s dream suite.

The main part of this level is a family room with built-in cabinets that Mr. MacDonald uses as a display case for his guitars. “For really good acoustic guitars, they have to be humidified,” Mr. MacDonald said. The glass case with-built in humidifier allows them to be on display without damaging the wood. “That’s something I designed. … We call that little area the music room,” he said.

There’s also large roof deck off the music room, with another built-in outdoor fireplace. A third bedroom takes up the back half of this level, with separate bathroom across from the elevator.

In some ways the entire house is oriented toward the view.Zoon Media

Rarified air

The Crescent area is a mix of more traditional and newly built homes, some of which are truly enormous; there’s a home under construction down the street on two lots that is costing tens of millions to build.

“That big house is seven years in and it’s still not done,” Ms. Winkler said. “It takes a lot of work to build these houses. As far as the area goes, you would not find a friendlier area; the people up here are just amazing, it’s small-town friendly.” She has a walking and running group that takes advantage of the neighbourhood trails, and finds she can do most of her errands without a car.

The only reason they are leaving is they are thinking of building yet another new house, with the experience of the first outing offering some confidence.

“Our neighbour said you have to build three new houses before you get it right,” said Ms. Winkler, though she mentions anyone who buys 530 doesn’t have to deal with that stress: “They can just walk into one.”

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Former B.C. Realtor has licence cancelled, $130K in penalties for role in mortgage fraud

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The provincial regulator responsible for policing B.C.’s real estate industry has ordered a former Realtor to pay $130,000 and cancelled her licence after determining that she committed a variety of professional misconduct.

Rashin Rohani surrendered her licence in December 2023, but the BC Financial Services Authority’s chief hearing officer Andrew Pendray determined that it should nevertheless be cancelled as a signal to other licensees that “repetitive participation in deceptive schemes” will result in “significant” punishment.

He also ordered her to pay a $40,000 administrative penalty and $90,000 in enforcement expenses. Pendray explained his rationale for the penalties in a sanctions decision issued on May 17. The decision was published on the BCFSA website Wednesday.

Rohani’s misconduct occurred over a period of several years, and came in two distinct flavours, according to the decision.

Pendray found she had submitted mortgage applications for five different properties that she either owned or was purchasing, providing falsified income information on each one.

Each of these applications was submitted using a person referred to in the decision as “Individual 1” as a mortgage broker. Individual 1 was not a registered mortgage broker and – by the later applications – Rohani either knew or ought to have known this was the case, according to the decision.

All of that constituted “conduct unbecoming” under B.C.’s Real Estate Services Act, Pendray concluded.

Separately, Rohani also referred six clients to Individual 1 when she knew or ought to have known he wasn’t a registered mortgage broker, and she received or anticipated receiving a referral fee from Individual 1 for doing so, according to the decision. Rohani did not disclose this financial interest in the referrals to her clients.

Pendray found all of that to constitute professional misconduct under the act.

‘Deceptive’ scheme

The penalties the chief hearing officer chose to impose for this behaviour were less severe than those sought by the BCFSA in the case, but more significant than those Rohani argued she should face.

Rohani submitted that the appropriate penalty for her conduct would be a six-month licence suspension or a $15,000 discipline penalty, plus $20,000 in enforcement expenses.

For its part, the BCFSA asked Pendray to cancel Rohani’s licence and impose a $100,000 discipline penalty plus more than $116,000 in enforcement expenses.

Pendray’s ultimate decision to cancel the licence and impose penalties and expenses totalling $130,000 reflected his assessment of the severity of Rohani’s misconduct.

Unlike other cases referenced by the parties in their submissions, Rohani’s misconduct was not limited to a single transaction involving falsified documents or a series of such transactions during a brief period of time, according to the decision.

“Rather, in this case Ms. Rohani repetitively, over the course of a number of years, elected to personally participate in a deceptive mortgage application scheme for her own benefit, and subsequently, arranged for her clients to participate in the same deceptive mortgage application scheme,” the decision reads.

Pendray further noted that, although Rohani had been licensed for “a significant period of time,” she had only completed a small handful of transactions, according to records from her brokerage.

There were just six transactions on which her brokerage recorded earnings for her between December 2015 and February 2020, according to the decision. Of those six, four were transactions that were found to have involved misconduct or conduct unbecoming.

“In sum, Ms. Rohani’s minimal participation in the real estate industry as a licensee has, for the majority of that minimal participation, involved her engaging in conduct unbecoming involving deceptive practices and professional misconduct,” the decision reads.

According to the decision, Rohani must pay the $40,000 discipline penalty within 90 days of the date it was issued.

 

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Should you wait to buy or sell your home?

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The Bank of Canada is expected to announce its key interest rate decision in less than two weeks. Last month, the bank lowered its key interest rate to 4.7 per cent, marking its first rate cut since March 2020.

CTV Morning Live asked Jason Pilon, broker of Record Pilon Group, whether now is the right time to buy or sell your home.

When it comes to the next interest rate announcement, Pilon says the bank might either lower it further, or just keep it as is.

“The best case scenario we’re seeing is obviously a quarter point. I think more just because of the job numbers that just came out, I think more people are just leading on the fact that they probably just gonna do it in September,” he said. “Either way, what we saw in June, didn’t make a big difference.”

Here are the pros of buying/ selling now:

Pilon suggests locking in the rate right now, if you don’t want to take a risk with interest rates going up in the future.

He says the environment is more predictable right now, noting that the home values are transparent, which is one of the benefits for home sellers.

“Do you want to risk looking at what that looks like down the road? Or do you want to have the comfort in knowing what your house is worth right now?” Pilon said.

And when it comes to buyers, he notes, the competition is not so fierce right now, noting that there are options to choose from.

“You’re in the driver seat right now,” he said while noting the benefits for buyers.

Here are the cons of buying/ selling now:

He says one of the cons would be locking in the rate right now, then seeing a rate cut in the future.

The competition could potentially become fierce, if the bank decides to cut the rate further more, he explained.

He notes that if that happens, the housing crisis will become even worse, as Canada is still dealing with low housing inventory.

An increase in competition would increase the prices of houses, he adds.

Selling or buying too quickly isn’t the best practice, he notes, suggesting that you should take your time and put some thought into it.

Despite all the pros and cons, Pilon says, real estate remains a good investment.

According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey for the second quarter of this year, the average home price in Canada is $824,300. That’s up 1.9 per cent from the same time last year, and up 1.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2024.

In the Ottawa Housing Market Report for June 2024, the average price of a home was up 2.4 per cent from this time last year to $686,535, but down 0.6 per cent from May 2024.

Experts believe many potential buyers are still hesitant of jumping into the housing market and waiting for another interest rate cut of 50 to 100 basis points.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the rush that we see in the past, because people are used to more of a conservative approach right now,” said Curtis Fillier, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “I think there’s still a bit of a hold back, but I definitely do think with another rate cut, we’ll probably see a very positive fall market.”

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Kimberly Fowler

 

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Real estate stocks soar to best day of year on rate cut bets

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(Bloomberg) — The stock market’s worst group notched its best day of the year as a cooler-than-expected inflation report stoked bets that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates in September.

Shares of real estate companies jumped 2.7% Thursday for their biggest gain of 2024, climbing to their highest level since March as investors snapped up homebuilder, digital and commercial real estate stocks alike. Real estate also was the best-performing group in the S&P 500 Index Thursday, with volume that was around 30% higher than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Arguably the most significant news to come from the latest consumer price index reading was a pullback in housing-related inflation. Shelter costs rose just 0.2% for the slowest monthly increase in three years. Homebuilders, which have risen 7.1% this year, were up 7.3% for the session, the most since 2022. Shares of D.R. Horton Inc., which is scheduled to report earnings next Thursday, gained 7.3%.

“Housing has really been the last shoe to drop in terms of winning the battle against high inflation,” Preston Caldwell, chief U.S. economist at Morningstar wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “Leading-edge data has strongly indicated for some time now that a fall in housing inflation was in the works.”

A rally in real estate stocks is bad news for short sellers who have been piling into the group, which is the worst performer in the S&P 500 this year. To start the week, short interest as a percentage of float hovered near 49% in the SPDR Homebuilders ETF, the highest level since February for the exchange-traded fund, according to data from S3 Partners.

Property owners are rallying as well. Real estate investment trusts, which were brutally penalized during the two-year run up in borrowing costs, advanced by as much as 3%. And the outlook for the group appears to have turned a corner, according Rich Hill, senior vice president and head of real estate strategy and research at Cohen & Steers Capital Management.

“We think this is a compelling backdrop for listed REITs especially as fundamental growth remains on solid footing,” he said, referencing the latest inflation data and rate outlook. “The rally that started in October of 2023 pushing returns more than 20% above their trough looks set to continue if inflation cools and interest rates continue to decline.”

Shares of industrial REIT Prologis Inc., which reports second-quarter results on Wednesday, rose 3.3% to hit their highest level since April. U.S. Treasury yields tumbled, with the 10-year bond falling to 4.2% and the policy-sensitive two-year note slipping to 4.5%.

(Updates indexes and stock prices for market close.)

 

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