Tips For Saving Money On Your Utilities

Fri, 09 Feb by Rob Smashnuk

homes for sale in west Edmonton

Everyone is looking for ways to save some money, and you may notice, like so many other people, that your utilities are one of your largest expenses. Fortunately, there are a number of tips that you can use to help bring down your utility costs. These tips are generally easy to implement, but you will need to stick to them long term if you want to see the best results. Here are the top three ways to keep your utility costs low!

Turn It Down

During the winter we turn on the heat and in the summer we turn on the air conditioner. However, you need to consider if you are turning the heat and air conditioner up too high. In the winter you can bundle up, and in the summer you can wear shorts and a T-shirt to keep yourself comfortable. By lowering your heater by 2 degrees and increasing the air conditioner by 2 degrees you will find that you have significantly lower utility bills. Small increments like this will generally not affect your body but can save you a lot when it comes to utilities, and if you do notice the change then there are other options to keeping warm and cool.

Turn It Off

One of the worst habits that you can have is leaving lights and devices on when you do not need them. This even extends to leaving them plugged in because devices that are plugged in but off still actually use power! Taking the time to turn off your lights when you leave a room can save you more than you might imagine. It is important that you have a rule in your home to turn off all the lights that you do not need and ensure that everyone sticks to this.

You should also turn off devices that you are not using. Most people will place their TV on standby, but this still uses energy and will be adding to your utility bills. Any electronics that you are not currently using should be completely turned off and if they do not have a power button, you should unplug them from the socket.

Air Dry Your Clothing

If you have a clothes dryer, you are going to be using a lot of energy every time you run it. To save yourself some money, you should look at air drying your clothes instead. This will take longer, particularly in winter, but it will save your bank account. It is not only your clothes that you should be air drying, you should do the same for your dishes as well.

Most dishwashers will heat dry the dishes if you do not change the settings. This will use a lot of energy that you don’t have to sacrifice. All you need to do is change the settings and then open the door of the dishwasher once it is done to leave it slightly ajar. The dishes will come out nice and dry and you’ll be saving money.

What to look for when buying a home

Wed, 17 May by Rob Smashnuk

Edmonton realtor

Whether you’re buying your first home or seeking to upgrade or downsize, there are a number of factors to consider before you fork over your hard earned money.  

1.Time can be your friend
Hopefully when you’re looking for your home, you’re not in a big rush to make a move.  Time spent determining exactly what you want out of your space will help you end up with the perfect residence in the end.  A rushed purchase might mean you overlook crucial aspects and regret your decision.  Make a list of your needs and then your wants so that you know just what homes fit the bill and which you can immediately cross off your list.

2.Your housing needs
Is your family growing or are you new empty nesters?  Do you often host family and friends for overnight visits or are you most often alone?  Be realistic about your home size needs; there’s no point in owning unused space that collects dust, but it’s just as frustrating to be scrambling to find extra space when you need it.  If you’re a great cook, make sure to check out the kitchen space; if you work from home, is there an ideal office space to tuck away into?  You’ll also want to look at bathrooms (how many are there?), storage space, and whether or not the basement is finished.

3.Old or new
If you love doing renovations and can afford the time and money, go ahead and buy that “handyman special”.  Otherwise, look for something that needs very little repair or renovations other than a coat of paint to make it yours.  Solid bones are the most important feature in any home. We can sometimes get wrapped up in the romantic idea of renovations, but often they cause many headaches and grief unless you’re prepared and know what to expect.  

4.The yard
The yard can be just as important as the house itself.  Is the yard a pleasant space where you’ll want to spend time?  Which direction does it face?  (Will you get enough sunshine?)  Is it fenced and are there spaces for your hobbies, whether you play outside with the kids or want to putter through flower or veggie beds?  What’s the noise level like when you’re standing in the yard?  Does the front yard have curb appeal?  How much work will it take to keep the yard maintained?

5.The neighborhood
Before you sign the dotted line, chat with a few neighbors in your area of choice.  Your real estate agent probably has some information about how many homes are owner occupied or if the area has more retirees than young families, but your neighbors are an even better source of information.  Ask them about noise levels, who in the neighborhood has caused issues, and crime rates.  Most people will be more than happy to offer information.

6.Go with your gut
Often walking through the front door is all the sign we need as to whether or not the house is a good fit.  Get a feel for the space and trust your instincts!


Real Estate Professional Rob Smashnuk

The Housing Crisis

Wed, 17 May by Rob Smashnuk

Edmonton realtor

The housing prices in and around Vancouver have surpassed expected peaks and many are not sure if there is a ceiling in sight.  The cost of an average detached home within the Vancouver city limits has reached over $1.5 million – the highest that the area has ever seen to date.  On average, homes in the Greater Vancouver Area have reached numbers close to a million dollars.  The number of properties sold in the area (as of February) rose, and the price of an average home is constantly rising unpredictably in sharp spikes. Mayor Gregor Robertson has shown great concern over the housing situation and has committed time and energy to a federal and provincial team who are working hard to discover exactly which factors are the causes of the consistently rising real estate prices.  

In an attempt to hold off the ever-increasing rise in housing prices, Vancouver recently imposed a 15% land transfer tax on foreign buyers as well as a more difficult qualification process for all buyers. These tougher qualifications have been brought into play to ensure that potential homeowners can manage their mortgage payments should interest rates go up.   The Canada Revenue Agency is auditing tax forms in the hopes of limiting foreign buyers by making sure that those claiming the principal residence tax exemption are, in fact, living in the residence and not using the home as a rental property or 2nd home.   

The outlook for most experts shows a continued rise in Vancouver’s housing prices, and the rapid rate is also expected to stay consistent.  With a limited number of homes on the market and available to hopeful buyers, the competition is fierce.  Combine that with low interest rates that the population has enjoyed and a steady stream of immigration, and you have a case of demand far exceeding the supply.  The situation could be helped by an increase in available homes for sale or with a surge in new home development; something which has been slow.  A significant increase in new home development is not guaranteed this year, and there is an increasing popularity for the suggestion that rules and regulations be eased so that new development becomes lucrative again for builders.  This may be a more important factor over attempting to restrict any purchases by foreign buyers.  Reconsidering land-use designations to allow several different varieties of types of homes, and smoothing the development approvals and permit processes would alleviate the restrictions that builders often face.

The dream of home ownership will vanish for many in light of the inflated prices on even the most average sized homes.  Families see their adult children staying longer in the family home and couples starting their lives together will most often be renting their accommodations and perhaps holding off for years in the hopes of being able to someday afford even a small starter home.  Only time will tell what the future holds for Vancouver’s rising housing market.

Edmonton’s Fall & Winter Green Shack Programs!

Fri, 25 Nov by Rob Smashnuk

Beginning September 17, Green Shack will be continuing in select locations during the school year!

Ages: 6-12 years
(children under 6 must be supervised by a parent or guardian)
Cost: Free

Join in games, sports, crafts, music, drama, and special events. You’ll find a list of upcoming activities and special events posted on the side of the Green Shack each week. If there’s a game or activity that you’d like to play, just ask the Program Leader. They are there to make your summer a fun one!

Programs are led by staff who:

Ensure participants play safely. Parents are responsible for their children at all times and must be available in the event of an emergency
Are easily identifiable by their blue shirts and name tags and may be assisted by volunteer leaders in training
Have completed a security clearance process, are trained in first aid and are certified specialists in FUN!

Programming is still available on rainy days but will be cancelled during severely inclement weather.

Thanks to all of our partners who contribute to the Green Shack Playground Program. Special thanks to Community Leagues for the use of facilities and assistance in funding.

7 Ways to Deter Burglars While You’re on Vacation

Mon, 21 Nov by Rob Smashnuk

The airline tickets are booked, bags are packed and your family is finally about to head out on a much-anticipated vacation, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about home sweet home just yet. Take a bit of time to follow these tips to deter a potential break-in and avoid home heartbreak.


Deterring a potential intruder can be as simple as flicking on a switch. Mimic your daily routine by putting the interior house lights on a timer, that way from the outside it looks like business as usual inside. Installing external motion-detector lights also means sneaking up on the house is not an option.


While leaving notes on the backdoor (or on the counter that can be clearly seen from a window) for your dog sitter, gardener, caretaker or neighbour may be tempting when running out to catch your plane, don’t — it’s the clearest indication that no one’s home. The same goes for social-media sites. Do not broadcast your cool vacation plans online, as tempting as it is.


If it looks and sounds like somebody’s home, burglars aren’t going to risk breaking and entering. Set up a radio or mp3 player on a timer so that it periodically plays music during normal waking hours. Place it by a likely entry point, such the backdoor or ground-floor window.


Intruders often check out a property a few times before making a move — a phone repeatedly ringing off the hook screams no one’s home. Put your landline on the lowest volume setting or call your telephone provider to see if they have a straight-to-messaging-system service that can be turned on while you’re out of town.


Newspapers piled on the lawn and flyers sticking out of the mail slot say, “I really like coupons and keeping up with current events but not right now because I’m on holiday.” Ask a neighbour to pick up any freebees that might be tossed into your driveway. Get your mail held at the post office and suspend your newspaper-delivery service while you’re away.


One of the reasons your family booked a trip to Hawaii (lucky you!) was to avoid that cold, white stuff for 10 days — but just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Keeping your paths clear of snow and ice is a clear sign someone’s at home, so arrange for prompt removal before heading out. Plus, in case of an emergency, crews can get to your front door easily.


When leaving your home for an extended length of time, it’s a good idea to draw the curtains and blinds to the level you’d normally have them so nothing looks out of order. If you raise and lower them throughout the day, keep them closed at the back of the house in case a would-be burglar is looking for movement, but open them up at the front so neighbours can spot and report any suspicious activity.

5 Halloween Home Safety Tips

Mon, 31 Oct by Rob Smashnuk

The time of year has arrived where face paint flies off the shelves and spooky DIY The projects are well underway. From ghosts, goblins and witches to the latest pop-culture heroes and villains, this is the time of year where creativity hits an all time high as people far and wide celebrate the spookiest season of all, Halloween! While collecting candy and trying to get a scare out of your friends and family is all fun and games, worrying about the safety of your home and guests isn’t. See below for some Halloween home safety tips that will help you ensure the only thing scarier than your costume is the thought of your expanding waistline after consuming endless amounts of sugary treats!

Make a Clear Path for Guests

With costumes that include fancy wigs, complicated masks and endless accessories, eliminating obstacles is the main safety tip you need to keep in mind. Whether it’s clearing the walkway or eliminating debris from your lawn, a clear path to your front door will help you avoid any potential accidents and is one of our top Halloween home safety tips.

Avoid Accidents with Lighting

With the shorter days upon us, your guests will not be showing up until long after the sun goes down. Help them stay on course by lighting up the path to your door. Whether a couple pumpkins or some strategically placed string lights, a well-lit entryway will not only make it easier to choose your favourite costume, it will help keep everyone safe.

LED Candle vs. Real Candle

We just told you to ensure the pathway to your door is well lit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a candle! LED tea lights are a great option for your outdoor décor that will look just as spooky as a candle, but will take away the fear of lighting a pumpkin on fire! These are also a good option for your indoor décor since you may not have the opportunity to keep a close watch on a candle burning inside your home throughout the night.

Keep Furry Friends Safe

Halloween is an exciting time, and my Halloween home safety tips aren’t only for you, but also your pets! To avoid them escaping, getting into the candy, or getting scared of your visitors, keeping them locked away in a safe room for the evening is advisable. Since they don’t get to enjoy all the fun, leaving them a Halloween treat will keep them happy until the activity has subsided.

Be a Smarty with the “Smarties”

If you are unable to come to the door when Trick-or-Treater’s arrive, or you will not be home to handout treats, leaving a bowl full of treats is not a good idea. Not only will it encourage people to come to your door when you aren’t there, it increases the risk of someone trying to tamper with the treats you have left out. A quick sign at the bottom of your driveway may be a good option and don’t forget to remind them you will see them next year!


The world will remain thirsty for oil

Fri, 28 Oct by Rob Smashnuk

Given the focus on renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions, you might think that global oil consumption has been falling and will continue to fall in the decades ahead. This is not the case.

No one has a crystal ball and things could change, but according to the US Energy Information Administration, global oil consumption is projected to rise to over 120 million barrels per day by 2040 compared to the current level of about 95 million barrels per day.

This bodes well for Alberta’s oil patch except that the growth will largely happen in Asia where oil consumption is expected to increase from 24 million barrels per day in 2016 to 39 million barrels per day in 2040. Alberta will need tidewater access via new pipelines in order to help meet this increase in demand.

Oil consumption in the United States and Canada is projected to be essentially flat between now and 2040.The good news for Alberta’s oil industry is that, despite the rapid rise in US shale oil production, the Americans still need to import millions of barrels of oil per day and Alberta remains a key supplier.


80-storey tower proposed for downtown Edmonton

Wed, 19 Oct by Rob Smashnuk

Plans for an 80-storey condo tower proposed for the Quarters in downtown Edmonton were presented to the public Monday evening.

The Quarters Hotel and Residences would tower over Jasper Avenue and Grierson Hill Road, bordered on the west by the Shaw Conference Centre and on the east by 96th Street.

The building would be the tallest in Edmonton. The Stantec Tower stretches 66 storeys and is expected to open in 2018.

But the architect behind the new project, Brad Kennedy says despite the height, the river valley will still be in sight for people below.

“We designed the podium of the tower to be transparent, so the only piece of the tower that blocks six-and-a-half per cent of the view is the core for the elevators and the stairwells,” said Kennedy.

“Everything else is completely clear, so you can walk along Jasper Avenue and you can see down through the tower to the whole river valley.”

The project would include a hotel, condominiums, restaurants, fitness facilities, shops and two publicly accessible parks, stretching over 100,000 square feet.

Several amendments to the land-use bylaw would need to be made for the project to be approved, including removing a portion of the site from the North Saskatchewan River Valley Area Redevelopment Plan.



Four major changes to Canada’s housing rules

Tue, 04 Oct by Rob Smashnuk

The Liberal government has announced sweeping changes aimed at ensuring Canadians aren’t taking on bigger mortgages than they can afford in an era of historically low interest rates.

The changes are also meant to address concerns related to foreign buyers who buy and flip Canadian homes.

Below is a breakdown of the four major changes Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Monday.

The current rules

Buyers with a down payment of at least 5 per cent of the purchase price but less than 20 per cent must be backed by mortgage insurance. This protects the lender in the event that the home buyer defaults. These loans are known as “high loan-to-value” or “high ratio” mortgages.

In situations in which the buyer has 20 per cent or more for a down payment, the lender or borrower could obtain “low-ratio” insurance that covers 100 per cent of the loan in the event of a default.

Mortgage insurance in Canada is backed by the federal government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Insurance is sold by the CMHC and two private insurers, Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company Canada and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company. The federal government backs the insurance offered by the two private-sector firms, subject to a 10-per-cent deductible.

The change

Expanding a mortgage rate stress test to all insured mortgages.

What it is

As of Oct. 17, a stress test used for approving high-ratio mortgages will be applied to all new insured mortgages – including those where the buyer has more than 20 per cent for a down payment. The stress test is aimed at assuring the lender that the home buyer could still afford the mortgage if interest rates were to rise. The home buyer would need to qualify for a loan at the negotiated rate in the mortgage contract, but also at the Bank of Canada’s five-year fixed posted mortgage rate, which is an average of the posted rates of the big six banks in Canada. This rate is usually higher than what buyers can negotiate. As of Sept. 28, the posted rate was 4.64 per cent.

Other aspects of the stress test require that the home buyer will be spending no more than 39 per cent of income on home-carrying costs like mortgage payments, heat and taxes. Another measure called total debt service includes all other debt payments and the TDS ratio must not exceed 44 per cent.

Who it affects

This measure affects home buyers who have at least 20 per cent for a down payment but are seeking a mortgage that may stretch them too thin if interest rates were to rise. It also affects lenders seeking to buy government-backed insurance for low-ratio mortgages.


The government is responding to concerns that sharp rises in house prices in cities like Toronto and Vancouver could increase the risk of defaults in the future should mortgage rates rise.

The change

As of Nov. 30, the government will impose new restrictions on when it will provide insurance for low-ratio mortgages.

What it is

The new rules restrict insurance for these types of mortgages based on new criteria, including that the amortization period must be 25 years or less, the purchase price is less than $1-million, the buyer has a credit score of 600 and the property will be owner-occupied.

Who it affects

This measure appears to be aimed at lowering the government’s exposure to residential mortgages for properties worth $1-million or more, a category of the market that has increased sharply in recent years in Vancouver and Toronto.


Vancouver and Toronto are the two real estate markets that are of most concern for policy makers at all levels of government. These measures appear to be targeted at those markets.

The change

New reporting rules for the primary residence capital gains exemption.

What it is

Currently, any financial gain from selling your primary residence is tax-free and does not have to be reported as income. As of this tax year, the capital gains tax is still waived, but the sale of the primary residence must be reported at tax time to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Who it affects

Everyone who sells their primary residence will have a new obligation to report the sale to the CRA, however the change is aimed at preventing foreign buyers who buy and sell homes from claiming a primary residence tax exemption for which they are not entitled.


While officials say more data are needed, Ottawa is responding to extensive anecdotal evidence and media reports showing foreign investors are flipping homes in Canada and falsely claiming the primary residence exemption.

The change

The government is launching consultations on lender risk sharing.

What it is

Currently, the federal government is on the hook to cover the cost of 100 per cent of an insured mortgage in the event of a default. The federal government says this is “unique” internationally and that it will be releasing a public consultation paper shortly on a proposal to have lenders, such as banks, take on some of that risk. The Department of Finance Canada acknowledges this would be “a significant structural change to Canada’s housing finance system.”

Who it affects

Mortgage lenders, such as banks, would have to take on added risk. This could potentially lead to higher mortgage rates for home buyers.


The federal government wants to limit its financial obligations in the event of widespread mortgage defaults. It also wants to encourage prudent lending practices.

Five previous federal housing moves since 2008

Monday’s package of announcements is the sixth time since the onset of the 2008 financial crisis that Ottawa has taken policy action in response to concerns about Canada’s housing market.

July, 2008: After briefly allowing the CMHC to insure high-ratio mortgages with a 40-year amortization period, then Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty moved to tighten those rules by reducing the maximum length of an insured high-ratio mortgage to 35 years.

February, 2010: Responding to concern that some Canadians were borrowing too much against the rising value of their homes, the government lowered the maximum amount Canadians could borrow in refinancing their mortgages to 90 per cent of a home’s value, down from 95 per cent. The move also set a new 20-per-cent down payment requirement for government-backed mortgage insurance on properties purchased for speculation by an owner who does not live in the property.

January, 2011: The Conservative government under Stephen Harper tightened the rules further, dropping the maximum amortization period for a high-ratio insured mortgage to 30 years. The maximum amount Canadians could borrow via refinancing was further lowered to 85 per cent.

June, 2012: A third round of tightening brought the maximum amortization period down to 25 years for high-ratio insured mortgages. A new stress test was also introduced to ensure that debt costs are no more than 44 per cent of income for lenders seeking a high-ratio mortgage. Refinancing rules were also tightened for a third time, setting a new maximum loan of 80 per cent of a property’s value. Another new measure limited the availability of government-backed insured high-ratio mortgages to homes valued at less than $1-million.

December, 2015: The recently elected Liberal government moved to tighten lending rules for homes worth more than $500,000, saying it was focused on “pockets of risk” in the housing sector.

The package of measures included doubling the minimum down payment for insured high-ratio mortgages to 10 per cent from 5 per cent for the portion of a home’s value from $500,000 to $1-million.

Alberta delivers on Edmonton LRT funding – Mill Woods to Lewis Farms

Tue, 20 Sep by Rob Smashnuk

The Valley Line LRT is a 27 km low-floor, urban line that will run from Mill Woods to Lewis Farms, crossing through Downtown. The Valley Line will be built in multiple stages, with the 13 km southeast portion being built first.

Phase one of the Valley Line will run from Downtown to Mill Woods, and will feature:

  • 11 street-level stops.
  • An elevated station with a 1,400-spot Park and Ride facility and a full transit centre located in the Wagner industrial area.
  • The new Tawatinâ Bridge across North Saskatchewan River.
  • A short tunnel from the north face of the River Valley through to the Quarters redevelopment.
  • An interchange point at Churchill Square to access the existing Metro and Capital LRT lines.

The southeast portion of the Valley Line has a capital cost of $1.8 billion, and will be delivered as a public-private partnership. Construction will begin this year, with the line scheduled to open to the public by the end of 2020.


The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.