Jeff MacKinnon

Honest, hard working and thorough

There are the usual factors we need to take into account when we choose a new neighbourhood like proximity to good schools, access to main roads, low crime stats, ecetera. Everyone has the same 'wants' pretty much.
But, one there's another new one, apparently — the 'Starbucks Effect' and stories I've read recently are telling me it is a real thing.
If you see a new Starbucks open up somewhere in Calgary it's supposed to be a sign that that neighbourhood is going to be a good buy eventually in terms of real estate.
Stuff I've read says that the company has a couple dozen analytics experts sequestered somewhere studying maps and data like traffic patterns and what other businesses are opening up nearby. They employ regional teams to do their own research on local factors before deciding on store locations; all so they can get into a community and get the best spot before someone else does.
I just Googled 'Starbucks in Calgary' and found out there are 50 locations in the city right now. I try to remember as many as I can if only for the free Wifi and because they are good spots for meeting people for the first time.
Now, having a Tim Hortons in your neighbourhood is another thing all together. Convenient yes maybe, but who wants one down the street? I remember a few years back hearing that the folks in Inglewood raised a stink when Tim's tried to open in their community. There isn't one there I don't believe so they obviously won the fight. A NIMBY to Timmy's. There's a Starbucks there kitty corner to Recordland and I've used their Internet a few times.
Having a Starbucks in your area can improve property values according to research done in the States, which revealed that between 1997 and 2014 properties within a quarter-mile of a Starbucks had their value rise by 96 per cent compared to 65 per cent for all others. I'm not sure about that and I'm sure not sure this is holding true in Canada  during this current challenging market.
However, if there's a Starbucks within walk distance of one of my listings I make mention of it in my description.

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On Monday news came out of Nova Scotia that a home seller was scammed out of a few thousand dollars by someone who appeared to be their realtor.

An email told them to e-transfer some money to be held in trust pending a home inspection. After the money was accepted the client called the realtor only to find out the realtor hadn't asked for any money. The realtor's emailed was hacked.

If you haven't bought a property before or haven't in eons, you should know that there is no reason for your realtor to ask you for money. If you are providing a deposit on a new home, the bank draft or certified cheque is made out to the selling realtor's brokerage and it is held in trust. Say, for example, you buy a property that I've listed the draft is made out to Maxwell Canyon Creek. Your realtor comes and picks up the money from you and delivers it to my office and you get a stamped copy of the cheque so you know it's there. You can deliver it yourself if you wish.

No cash. No e-transfer. Nothing.

Home buyers do pay for their own home inspection but it's done on site immediately after the inspection is completed. The realtor isn't involved.

So, if you get an email from your realtor asking for money just ignore it.  Like any email asking for money, right?

The only variation of this is if you are not in the immediate area and it can't be delivered in person. In that case, the selling brokerage provides your realtor with their bank's information. You go to your bank, send a wire transfer and it goes into the selling brokerage's trust account from there.

Tacked on the bottom of the Canadian Press story I read about this case is the following message:

If you or a family member has fallen victim to this fraud, please report to your local police service, as well as to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Contact the anti-fraud centre by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online at

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A pretty gross photo showed up on Facebook this week from a Calgary realtor.

It was the carpet in a room at one of her listings. Another realtor brought clients to see the home and they brought their dog, which left something behind.

The prospective buyers were obviously not keeping track of the dog and looks like the other realtor didn't go around and make sure everything was left the way they found it.

It spawned a rather lengthy thread where naturally the consensus was: what the fudge!

Turns out the showing realtor was horrified when confronted and paid for the carpet to be cleaned.

There's only been a couple of times that I've had people show up an an open house with their pets. They've both been pocket dogs that stayed in their owner's arms the entire time. I know this because I followed them around the house to make sure the dog wasn't let down to lift its leg on a lamp.

If you must bring your dog with you for whatever reason I found this common sense practice  on a Houzz discussion. Do this:

Take the dog with you when viewing homes. If weather permits, leave the dog in the car for a bit while everyone views the home. But if leaving dog in car won't work (weather, realtor's car, etc) , then you can decide to have one dog owner stay outside with the dog while the other views the home dogless.

However, what if husband and wife love the home and want to view it together to discuss options. Maybe they both viewed the home individualy already while the dog stayed outside with the other person.

When we were looking, if my husband and I happened to be driving around with the dog and saw an open house, we would leave the dog in the car or if it was hot, one of us would stay outside with the dog, while the other looked.

I've offered to hang out with dogs in the front yard when people out walking their buddy have stumbled across my open house and wanted to take a peek. So far no one has taken me up on the offer.

Service dogs are another story. As someone pointed out on thread they are always well trained/behaved.  I've never had that anyone bring their service dog to a listing either. Aren't service dogs always Labs? Labs are cool.

I read recently that someone wanted to bring their service chicken on a plane with them. Wonder what I would do if that ever happened at an open house. I would offer to hold the chicken for them I guess.

I'd write a blog about that for sure.

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Interesting story in Tuesday's Globe and Mail about the practice of terminating listings and then relisting so the 'days on market' or DOM starts from scratch. Kind of like turning the odomoter back to zero.

The story focused on the Toronto market, but it's done everywhere.

Just a couple of minutes ago, on my morning scan of new listings, I saw a brand new listing where this was just done. First day on the market? Not really.

I opened up 'Property History' — which is not available to the public — to discover it was taken off the market in September after a rather lengthy time without any action. By leaving it off the market for a month the clock started back on Day 1. Pulling it off the market one day and putting it back on the next does the same thing in the public eye.

So, if you are working with a realtor make sure you ask them to send you the property history for every home you are considering. It tells you if the sellers had it listed before, for how long, at what original list price and as well any price reductions along the way. It also tells you when it last sold and for how much.

You want to know how long it has been on the market in total —  cumulative days on the market (CDOM) —  since it first became available and if there were any price reductions since that time. What did it start out at in terms of price?

Days on the market (DOM) can be a bit of trickery. Sometimes, though, the listing period just ran and it just needs to be relisted all on the up and up.

Same thing if you walk into an open house — ask for CDOM not DOM.

The story details one home in Toronto that was listed three times between Sept. 11 and Oct. 15 then sold on the third try with a $400,000 price reduction. The record would only show the DOM of the last listing period so it affects the market statistics for that area.

It could also be that the listing expired a month ago and it took the sellers a month to find another realtor to go with.

However, the most important consideration in all this is: Do you like the house or not? If you do, does it really matter how long it's been sitting there? It may just be the sellers listed too high and it's taken them awhile to get to a realistic price. Maybe they had a conditional sale and it fell through over financing? Your realtor can find out.

If there's something wrong with the home, a good home inspector will tell you, so you can't sign a non-waiver of conditions and move on.

Days on the market can be longer these days because it's not exactly a great market and there are fewer sales than in past years.

You want to know everything you can about a property and CDOM vs. DOM is an important distinction.

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Among all the countless reports and stories published within the past week about the legalization of marijuana in Canada, one in particular caught my eye because I'm a realtor.

It dealt with a poll regarding selling a home where legal marijuana was grown. Often polls aren't accurate, but let's for a minute assume this one is legit.

Huffington Post reported on a Zoocasa poll that suggested 52 per cent of Canadians would be less likely to consider buying a home in which legal marijuana was grown.

The poll maintains that Baby Boomers (54 to 72) and Gen Xers (38-53) were more likely than Millennials (22 to 37) to skip buying a house where mariijuana was grown. As of of Oct. 17, you can grow up to four marijuana plants in your home.

So, given this information and the likelihood that one day you or your descendants will be selling your property, would it be wise to think twice about growing marijuana in your home even though, as proponents argue, a small amount isn't likely to damage your home?

Consider that realtors are now going to include in purchase contracts a term that will ask whether the seller has ever grown marijuana in the home. If the answer is yes, how many buyers are going to move on to another property? According to this poll, plenty.

I'll even be asking the listing realtor when I book a showing. If they shy away from an answer, I'll pass that on to my clients.

As a buyer's realtor, I'd ask my clients that if the seller admits to growing four plants at a time, what's the likelihood  they actually had more than that going at once. After all, no one is going to be watching anymore. Who will really know how green their thumb actually is or what's been going on in their basement.

As well, if they grew pot in their home, what's the likelihood that they also sat on their couch and smoked it?

For those who argue that it's not a big deal — that marijuana doesn't leave a smell or get into the walls — ask yourself why someone would buy a smoker's house when there are plenty of attractive properties available where no one had previously smoked or grown marijuana. 

I've only had one client tell me they didn't care that a place we were considering was a smoker's house and that person also didn't buy the condo in question and it was eventually taken off the market and continued as a rental.

According to this poll three in 10 millenials believe that growing marijuana in a home lowers the resale value. To me that's a significant number.

If you are marketing your home to a younger buyer, if this poll is correct you are going to lose a healthy chunk of your market if you have grown marijuana in your home. If you are marketing to everyone, again if this poll is remotely accurate more than half of your potential market is going to stay away.

If you are a marijuana user who plans to grow your own pot, you need to sit down and have a relaxing puff on your  deck and think hard about beginning your in-home gardening project.

No one knows how all this is going to turn out in terms of real estate so maybe wait til some of the answers are made clear.

I guess, from a realtor's perspective, my buyer could get a smokin' good deal if they buy from a weed afficionado.

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If you look at my feature listings you'll see two apartments currently available at Silver Creek Lodge in Canmore. They are priced as they are because they are fractional ownerships. In this case, 1/4 shares each.

When I mention to people who call that they are fractionals, quite a few don't know what that means. I wouldn't if I didn't own one.

Is it a time share?

No, it's not.

With a fractional ownership you get a titled share of the property that you own and can sell at your leisure for whatever you can get. You can also leave to your kids.
You have certain pre-determined weeks of the year that are yours. You can put it in the rental pool when you can't use it and generate income from hotel check ins. It has a front-desk and owners get a key card when they arrive so it looks an operates exactly like a hotel.
If you believe what Wikipedia says, the concept of fractional owership took root in the ski resorts of the United States in the 1990s. It since has become popular in Ontario and British Columbia and of course Canmore, where Silver Creek Lodge opened in 2008.
In the case of Silver Creek Lodge each unit comes completely furnished with insuite laundry and your condo fees take care of utilities, insurance, internet and maintenance. Like any other condo complex, Silver Creek Lodge has a condo board made up of owners and it's annual AGM is held either in Calgary or Canmore every fall. It is managed by Waymarker Hospitality.
One thing to remember with a fractional ownership is that you can't leave anything behind that doesn't fit into your locked owners' drawer. There are cage lockers in the underground parking garage available to store your skis if that's why you came to the mountains.
With Silver Creek lodge it's also possible to buy an entire unit and live in it year round or put your own key pad on the  door to keep it to yourselves when you are not in town. There are other lodges in Canmore that offer the same set up.
Among the features at Siver Creek Lodge is the 9,000 square foot Bodhi Tree Spa and Wild Orchid Bistro with its Asian fusion cuisine. There's a fitness centre, hot tubs and private function room as well.  If you like your daily walk, the downtown is about 15 minutes away as are the grocery stores.
If I've missed something drop me a line and I'll get back to you with the answer.
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I've been spending a great deal of time in Garrison Green lately, specifically at 2661 Dallaire Ave. SW. Directly across the street from this address is Buffalo Park, which at first glance is the site of a very busy playground.

This square piece of land is actually much more than that.

 If you visit Buffalo Park you'll find a monument that reveals the reason for it's name. I came home the day I first visited and surfed Google for some more info.

It is named in honour of nine Canadian Forces members killed in a Buffalo aircraft over Syria in 1974. The monument has a Buffalo aircraft propeller, plaque and a playground as part of its surroundings.

This incident took place on Aug. 9 of that year  when, while on a routine flight a plane was shot down by Syrian Armed Forces.  All nine crew and passengers were killed.

It's because of that event that Aug. 9 was decided on as the day it would be National Peacekeepers' Day in Canada. Just a couple of blocks away from Buffalo Park is Peacekeepers' Park, where each year a memorial is held. You can park and visit both together any day of the year.

I'll spare you my regurgitation on details about Buffalo Park and the event by pointing you to some really good reading on the Buffalo Nine that I discovered at the link below if you are so inclined. It includes photos of all nine who lost their lives that day.

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 I was sitting an open house on the weekend in Garrison Woods (the accompanying photo  is Crestmont). One of the visitors appeared fairly new to the home buying world and had some questions about HOA's - Home Owner's Association. Newer communities all have them.

   So, here's some info explaining Community Association's and Home Owners Association, courtesy of the Federation of Calgary Communities.


A Community Association is:

An organization formed by the residents of an area:

  • To support the social, educational and recreational needs of the neighbourhood.
  • To build connections in the neighbourhood through volunteer opportunities, events and programs
  • To act as a community liaison in civic matters (planning and development)
  • To plan, develop and maintain community facilities and amenities such as community gardens, skating rinks.


  • Membership in a Community Association is optional.
  • Offers the opportunity to become involved and connected in the neighbourhood.
  • Members have the opportunity to participate and register in Community Association run events and programs.
  • Members have the opportunity to volunteer in their neighbourhood (board members, special events, committees, etc.)
  • The Community Association receives development, transportation, and zoning plans from the city and the developers, and may provide feedback on the approval process;
  • The Community Association has direct contact with the Alderman, MLA, Police Liaison Officer and other government officials;
  • The Community Association can support the addition of new facilities and amenities in the neighbourhood.

A Homeowner's Association is:
A compulsory organization created by a land developer:

  • To manage and maintain the “marketing” amenities of a development (entrance signage, ornamental parks and ponds, boulevard landscaping and buildings) that the City will not accept responsibility to maintain.
  • To manage and maintain amenities such as lakes and golf courses.
  • Membership is compulsory and the requirement to pay an annual fee is collected by the association through a caveat on property title.
  • An HOA is initialized by the Community when there is the desire to ensure a high degree of maintenance of the common amenities noted above.


  • HOA’s are mandated to maintain the community amenities and physical elements installed by developers such as parks, playgrounds and other landscape features;
  • Residents enjoy amenity-rich environments which are maintained; thus preserving outdoor areas which contribute to the long-term appeal of the community.


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Was down in Auburn Bay on the weekend doing some house shopping with a friend/client and decided to take a spin through Seton, which is attached to the lake community on the south end.
If you live down in those parts you already know of it because it's where you find the city's newest hospital, South Health Campus.
If you're considering a move to Calgary's southern-most tip, which offers easy access to Stoney Trail and Highway 2, expect a lot of amenities to open up to you in the coming year or two.
There's the hospital of course. Also consider that Seton will soon become home to a monstrous YMCA, which is supposed to open next January. (See photo). According to the City of Calgary's website, at 330,000 square feet it will have a water park, 10-lane pool, leisure pool, two arenas, three gyms, a fitness centre that has a 200-metre running/walk track and a 25,000 square foot library.
It will eclipse that unique looking YMCA that just opened in Rocky Ridge.
Also coming to Seton is the Cineplex Cinemas, opening sometime in 2018 after being delayed by a major fire; and Joane Cardinal-Schubert High School, slated to open it's doors in the fall.
Along with the assortment of shops and services already there — including grocery stores and a couple of hotels— construction is currently underway on a 190,000 square foot retail district that will be anchored by a Mountain Equipment Coop and will include the Canadian staples Boston Pizza and Tim Hortons, among other restaurants.
When all is said and built, Seton will have 2,500 residents and 12,000 jobs, says a recent community profile by Josh Skapin in the Calgary Herald. It will also contain up to 1.5 million square feet of office space and one million square feet of retail space, he wrote.
Eventually, Seton will be the southern-most stop on the new Green Line LRT.
If you want some more reading has links to a lot of material.



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Courtesy of


Ease the Transition

Dogs are territorial animals that naturally become attached and protective of their surroundings.

When moving houses, your dog can become disoriented and stressed. He sees the world he knows changing before his eyes. Understanding this can help you ease your dog through a better transition and avoid unnecessary anxiety or health problems.


Fence Safety

According to the Humane Society, moving to a new home can precipitate separation anxiety, which can prompt dogs to escape or run away. Assess your dog’s tendencies and personality when inspecting the new yard and property. You might need to make adjustments to ensure your pet’s safety.

Before leaving your dog alone in the new yard, carefully survey the premises for any hazards or trouble spots where your dog might find an escape route. If they feel lost or get bored and lonely, dogs can jump or dig in order to escape. To better safeguard your dog, consider:

● Is your dog a jumper?
● Does your dog like to dig?
● Can he fit through railings in your fence?
● Is there anything around that might help him jump out?
A safe and well-installed fence in your new property can give you peace of mind and eliminate your dog’s chances of escape. A typical fence installation will be priced around $2,670. It is a worthwhile investment, as it ensures your dog’s safe confinement within your property. It also helps you avoid those worrisome drives around the neighborhood calling his name.


Keeping the Stress Level Down

In addition to keeping your dog safe in the new property, there are ways to mitigate the stress he might experience from his changing environment.

Keep routines. If possible, once in the new home, try to maintain similar walking/exercise schedules and feeding routines. As The Spruce suggests, this structure will help with the transition and avoid creating more confusion.


Bring his old toys.

While you might be tempted to buy all new stuff for your pooch, the familiar smells of his most beloved toys and blankets will keep him cool and collected.

Step up the love. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of the moving process and neglect those extra minutes of attention. During and after the move, give him a little extra affection. One of the best things you can do, says The Bark magazine, is to commit to some quality time with your dog every day despite your busy moving schedule.


Spot the Stress

Even taking all of these precautions, your dog may still experience some level of stress and anxiety, so know what warning signs to look for. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it might be an indication that they are experiencing some form of anxiety:

● Excessive barking
● Lethargy and lack of energy
● Changes in diet or eating habits
● Diarrhea or lack of appetite

Spotting these signs can help you act early and prevent the stress from affecting your dog’s health or becoming bad behavior. Increasing exercise and mental stimulation, giving your dog a few extra walks around the new neighborhood, and providing a safe space for him can help ease him into the new home.

Dogs are highly adaptable and will soon grow to love the new house. Moving is stressful enough but taking some time to consider their state of mind will make the transition better for everyone.
Remember that dogs love their home as much as you do, and all they need is a little guidance and support before they are back to their tail-wagging selves.

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My new listing comes online this week and it's a beautiful family home in the great community of Arbour Lake.

The added bonus is it backs on green space and has incredible mountain and city views.

The asking price for this fully-finished five bedroom walk out at 179 Arbour Stone Rise NW is $767,000.

You can live in the family-oriented community of Arbour Lake and be perched high on the hill for views, and backing onto a large open space and community's pathway system.

 This home is walking distance from all three schools and Arbour Lake itself.

 The spacious kitchen features stainless steel appliances, gas range, solid maple cabinets and plenty of cupboard space, a large dining nook with a view of the city skyline, and walk-in pantry. 

The large living room has custom built-ins and a stacked stone, wood-burning fireplace. Upstairs features a huge south-facing master bedroom with six-piece en suite, both offering incredible view of the city and COP. 

The upstairs also has three additional large bedrooms, enormous second bathroom, laundry room and extra spacious upper landing. Quality baseboards throughout. 

Fully developed walkout basement has huge rec room with fireplace, 5th bedroom, another laundry, a kitchen, full bathroom.

 This listing goes active on Thursday and can be found on my website and




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