Feature Community: Calgary’s East Village

Courtesy of East Village Experience
Courtesy of East Village Experience

The East Village is continuing its evolution into a dynamic and iconic community in Calgary with the ground breaking for the N3 residential tower on November 17. At the corner of 8th Ave and 4th Street SE, N3 is notorious in our city for being the first car-free condo building (each sold unit comes with a Biria bike and $500 towards Car2Go and Enterprise Rent-a-car).

Love it or hate it, the N3 is just one component of what is quickly emerging as one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in the city. With the new riverwalk (open), St. Patrick’s Island and bridge (open), the Simmons Building with its tasty dining options (open), 5th Street Square and the heart of events like the food truck festival (open), the National Music Centre and ‘music mile’ (2016), and more…these are all elements that are transforming what was a lonely chunk of land into a pretty amazing place.

Check out this cool video from the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation to get an idea of where things are heading:

There are already four buildings in the east village with plans for more. If you like the vibe of the East Village, consider calling it home. The East Village ranked 49th in Avenue Calgary’s Best Neighbourhoods 2015, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s a work in progress with several advantages already working in its favour. It’s walkable. Tied for 7th rank out of every community in Calgary for walkability, the East Village certainly puts you close to downtown and amenities. It’s got personality. It’s a great mix of history and newness, art and culture, and it’s backed by a corporation that needs it to become a renowned area. It’s active. Being riverfront and near the newly revamped Saint Patrick’s Island along with all the action of programs and events makes the East Village appealing to youthful, energetic folks.

The majority of rental opportunities are for condos in the new buildings (Evolution, First, Verve, N3 by Knightsbridge and Ink). RentFaster.ca has 71 listings in the community with more expected, and an average monthly rent of $1,887 (and a maximum of $5,000)*. Compare this to neighbouring communities Inglewood, Ramsay and downtown with average rents of $1,700, $2,180 and $2,019 respectively. Click here to peruse East Village listings.

 

*as of November 17, 2015

Remembrance Day sites you must see

Albertans are proud to honour the soldiers that have fought, died, and continue to fight for our freedoms, our safety, and our beloved country. They are also proud to host some truly breathtaking and moving ceremonies commemorating the brave women and men that are in our thoughts and hearts this Remembrance Day.

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Image by John Lucas

 

Here are some of our favourites in Calgary and Edmonton:

 

The Field of Crosses – Calgary

Location: Memorial Dr. between 3rd St. NW & Centre St., Calgary AB

Date: November 1st-11th, 2015

The field of crosses displays 3,200 white crosses representing each Southern Albertan soldier who has been killed in action. Each cross is inscribed with a soldier’s name and adorned with a single poppy. Walk among the crosses anytime or visit at sunrise or sunset for the flag raising ceremony that takes place daily. A special Remembrance Day service begins at 10:45 a.m. on November 11.

Crosses1 Crosses2poppyCrosses3

 

Wreath Laying Ceremony – Calgary & Edmonton

Calgary Location: Jubilee Auditorium,  1415 14 Ave NW, Calgary AB

Date: Wednesday November 11, 2015   10:30am-11:45am (doors open 9:30am)

The ceremony includes the laying of wreaths by political, veterans, military, civic and community organizations. Following the ceremony, there is also a march outside the west side of the auditorium.

Edmonton Location: City Hall Plaza, Edmonton AB

Date: Wednesday November 11, 2015   10:50am-11:30am

A beautiful outdoor ceremony by the City Hall cenotaph, where wreaths are laid in honour of our fallen soldiers.

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Veteran

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Images by John Lucas, Veteran pictured is Maurice White

 

Light the Bridge – Edmonton

Location: High Level Bridge, Edmonton AB

Date: Wednesday November 11th, 2015

If you are in the area, you won’t want to miss the High Level Bridge aglow in white and red for Canada’s military. A breathtaking sight against the night sky.

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Image via

 

Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance Day Service – Edmonton

Location: West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace, Edmonton AB

Date: Wednesday, November 11th, 2015    10am

This service put on by the Royal Canadian Legion will fill you with such pride as you observe those who salut in uniform.

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Image via

 

Highway 11 Flag Display – Sylvan Lake AB

Location: Highway 11 near Sylvan Lake AB.

This unassuming stretch of highway displays 116 flags for the 116,000 Canadian soldiers that have died since 1900. Knowing that each flag literally represents an army of 1000 soldiers who have paid a price for our freedom makes a bold statement. If you plan to travel north or south to Calgary or Edmonton this week make sure to look out for this extremely moving site.

Silvan lake flags edited

Image via

 

A full list of services offered in Edmonton can be viewed here.

A full list of services offered in Calgary can be viewed here.

How to take professional-looking photos with your phone

Photo 1 - How to

A sure way to get more interest from potential renters is to include great photos of your property in your rental ad. You may think that producing an impressive set of interior photos of your home requires hiring a professional photographer or using an expensive camera. Although these options do result in great photos, this can be an added expense you don’t have built into your budget. If that is the case for you, don’t worry; it is possible to take a great set of professional-looking photos…with your phone!

If you have an iPhone or a smartphone, you also have access to a high quality camera and easily downloadable apps for editing. Give the following tips and tricks a try and in no time, you will have an impressive set of photos of your home, ready to upload to RentFaster.ca to ‘wow’ the thousands of potential renters that view our site daily.

 

3 tips for taking great property photos with your phone:

1. Use natural light

Plan to take your photos in the morning or early afternoon when the sunlight is bright but not direct or harsh. The soft, even sunlight at these times will filter in through your windows to create natural shadows, making your photos look bright, fresh, crisp and clean.

Turn off your flash and turn off all artificial lights, such as lamps and overhead pot lights or light fixtures. Artificial lighting creates unpleasant shadows and an overall yellowish tone, which can make your room look smaller, older, darker, and duller than it really is.

If you have to take photos in lower natural light conditions (i.e., in the evening), your photos are likely to look grainy and discolored. To get the best photos possible, make sure to: open the windows and make use of all natural light you have; avoid using the flash; use overhead lighting instead of lower lamps to help avoid shadows; and see our editing tips below to increase the brightness and adjust the yellowish tone of the photos.

Photo 1 - light - large

2. Capture a flattering angle

Where and how you hold your phone can dramatically effect your photos. First of all, make sure the horizontal angle of your phone is level with the floor. Use the grid function on the camera and lineup the grid lines with the natural straight lines in the room, such as a table top or a window frame. For iPhones, see how to turn your camera grid on here. Whenever possible, take your photos in landscape orientation (as opposed to upright); this orientation creates a better composition.

Make sure the face of your phone is not tilted up or down. You want to shoot the room straight-on with your phone pointed straight toward a flat surface.  When you tilt the camera, the vertical lines in the photo look distorted which won’t look professional. Take your photo lower than eye level, around the level of a light switch. This will create a more intimate feel because the viewer will feel like she is standing in the room.The room will also look bigger from this angle. For tight spaces such as bathrooms or small bedrooms, shoot through a door or move furniture around so that you can keep the camera low and as to not create weird angles in order to get the whole room in the shot.

Photo 2 - angle - large

3. Stabilize the camera

Even a very slight movement of your phone while your photo is being taken can result in a blurry photo. It can be challenging to hold the phone stable with one hand while you press the ‘photo’ button with the other. So, try to hold your phone as still as possible. Attach your phone to a tripod if you have one handy. Or place the phone on a stable surface like a counter or the back of a chair while you shoot. If you are able to keep your phone stable, your photos will be crisp and clear.

Photo 3 - Movement - large

 

Even when keeping these tips in mind, it is not always possible to achieve perfect lighting and angles when photographing your home. For instance, some rooms do not have windows so will lack a lot of natural light, and it is actually really difficult to hold your phone perfectly straight. Luckily, these flaws can easily be edited away with an editing app and the swipe of a finger.

Afterlight is a simple and effective photo editing app we love to use. Afterlight is available for iPhones and androids. For iPhones, purchase in the App Store for $0.99 . For Androids, purchase in Google Play for $1.08 . There is a free version, but it does not offer the editing features you will need; we promise, spending the loonie is well worth it.

Below, we’ve created a photo tutorial highlighting the most useful editing features from Afterlight that can make a huge difference in perfecting your phone photos: brighten, straighten, and temperature. Adjust the brightness of your photo if it was not possible for you to shoot in natural light, or simply to make your photo even more bright and vibrant. Straighten your photo to remove any slight angles in the lines of your photo. The temperature feature is important to use if you were not able to shoot with natural light. You will be able to adjust the color of your photo from its yellowish hue to a more natural tone.

Afterlight tutorial

We hope you find these tips helpful and that using them will enhance the quality of the photos in your next rental ad. If you have any questions, ask us below.

 

Calgary rental listing stats – April 14th, 2015

rental-stats-1-year-chart-april-2-2015

Notes:

  • The graphs above are displaying a 1 year time horizon.
  • Approximate number of active rental listings: April 2014 = 3200. April 2015 = 4900.
  • Average prices of active listings:  = $1861 (April 7th/2014). $2024 (June 23/2014). $1804 (March 30/15). Note: This 1 year graph indicates a significant decline from the peak in June/2014 to the current low, however, the average price tends to drop each year during the colder months (see previous posted 3-year graphs).

Calgary rental listing stats – April 2nd, 2015

rental-stats-April-2-2015

Notes:

  • The historical graphs above are displaying information from the past 3 years.
  • As of April 2nd, 2015, the average price of all active listings is $1811. Note: This price does include a small number of parking spots and storage places for rent.
  • Approximate number of active rental listings: April 2013 = 2300. April 2014 = 3200. April 2015 = 4900.
  • Highest average prices of active listings: 2012 = $1850 (Oct 22/12). 2013 = $2025 (Aug 19/13). 2014 = $2024 (June 23/14). Note: The average price tends to drop each year during the colder months. Are landlords unable to attain the highest rents during these months because demand is lower?

These types of stats are available to to all landlords with listings posted on RentFaster.ca. The stats can be broken down by city section, property type, number of bedrooms, community, etc. These tools can help landlords set the most appropriate rental price for their properties.

In response to Mayor Nenshi… and some other rental market comments

Last month, Mayor Nenshi told the media that he has not raised his rent in 4 years and commented that landlords need to stop ‘gouging’ their renters.

“And so I am reaching out to landlords and saying, ‘Come on, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Figure out a way that you can continue to provide housing and get a decent return without gouging your tenants,'” he said.

“And there’s been way too much of that happening.”

It is admirable that Mayor Nenshi has not raised his rents for four years and still earns a “reasonable profit”. It would be interesting to know which year he purchased his rental property and the price he paid. We recently spoke with an investor who has owned her Killarney duplex since the 70’s. She has far greater flexibility in the rent she charges than someone who purchased a similar property in the area just last year, who could very well be operating the property in a cash-flow negative position. Perhaps Mayor Nenshi bought his rental(s) before the city’s housing boom?

Additional differences exist amongst rental investors, which weigh on their monthly rent decision making process. An investor earning over $200,000 per year (as our Mayor does) with relatively high job security, can afford to keep his or her rents stable for a 4-year period. What about the investor who has an increasing amount of debt, property tax and other bills rising and potentially a level of insecurity at his or her primary place of employment? The generosity the Mayor provides is not possible for many landlords to offer.

Instead of asking landlords to keep rents stable, we feel that the Mayor should do all in his power to encourage people to invest in the rental industry. This will ultimately create a greater supply of rental homes, leading to greater competition amongst landlords and eventually to a more balanced market.

We live in a city where house prices have escalated dramatically over the last decade. If house prices rise, rents must also move higher.

Instead, if rents stay the same (or increase at a slower rate) as house prices increase, two things happen: First, more people will be looking for rentals, thereby making less units available. Second, investment in new rental units will drop dramatically, further tightening the rental market. We believe this is what happened during 2009-2011 (investors pulled back on projects, buying additional rental units, etc, and when people flocked back to the city – the market was under invested in rental units and homes in general).

Rents must increase and try to keep pace with housing prices, so that new investment occurs, which eventually leads to a greater supply of rentals so that rents can stabilize. If all landlords displayed the generosity our Mayor has shown to his tenants over the last 4 years, investment likely would have dried up and there would actually be less rental suites in Calgary than there are today.

What the media fails to report and what the Mayor does not seem to realize is that there are currently lots of rental properties on the market. The number of active rentals currently on RentFaster.ca has not been this high since early in 2011. Many landlords have had to lower their rents in recent months and/or carry vacant units for long periods of time. We have not witnessed the gouging that the Mayor insists is readily occurring. Renters searching in most price segments of the market have a lot of choice, and landlords are having to compete to fill their vacancies. If they attempt to gouge prospective tenants, then their place will remain vacant.

Where landlord competition is still lacking is at the lower price segments in the market; that is, one bedroom apartments, close to the core for under $950, two bedrooms for under $1200 and the three bedroom house/duplex or townhouse for around $1500. If prospective tenants looking for a home within these price ranges have a pet, smoke, or have negative credit history, their search becomes even more difficult.

Why is there a lack of competition at the lower price ranges? It seems that it is no longer affordable, in this city, to build and invest in units that can be rented for these prices? Also, many of these types of suites have been permanently removed from the market through condo conversions and tear downs, etc. Unfortunately, high level economic growth has some indirect consequences.

Calgary has an affordable housing problem. When RentFaster.ca launched in 2003, we used to see one bedroom apartments renting for $600-$700, and two bedrooms for under $1000. Now we rarely see a one bedroom advertised for under $1000 or a 2 bedroom for under $1200.

As of October 30th, the average price of a one bedroom Apartment/loft/condo active on RentFaster.ca was $1421. The average price of a two bedroom Apartment, loft, condo – $1746. In CMHC’s recent report, they state the average two bedroom price is $1290.

Over the last few years rents have risen, investment has occurred, and now there are more active rentals than there have been in the past 3 years. However, the majority of the new supply is situated in the higher price range for higher-income individuals.

The prevailing situation in Calgary requires attention from all stakeholders, including municipal politicians, city planners and developers. Together, they need to work towards ensuring that a diverse supply of rentals is available in Calgary. Otherwise, we will continue to experience an unbalanced and uncertain housing market.

Median Single/Semi-detached home prices: Yr 2000 = $195,000, 2005 = $275,000, 2010 = $430,000, 2013 = $485,000. source = CMHC-SCHL
When CMHC calculates averages and their vacancy rate they only survey “….privately initiated structures with at least three rental units, which have been on the market for at least three months.”. This technique ignores much of the secondary market, ie. individually owned condos, houses for rent, main floors, basements, shared accommodation, etc. The RentFaster.ca averages, provide a snapshot and indication of what is being advertised in the market as of today.