Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of December 1)

December has just begun, and it’s time for another edition of our weekly column from the A-Team. Here is some important news for the week:

The province received an encouraging economic update this week, when a 4% growth in GDP was forecasted by an Alberta Government financial report, according to Jaryn Vecchio of Mix News:

Report: Alberta Forecasting 4% Growth in Economy

In the Alberta Government’s second quarter financial report released Tuesday, it shows they’re expecting to see four per cent growth in the GDP, up from the 2.6 per cent forecasted in the budget.

The province says they were able to add over 70,000 full-time jobs since mid-2016, the majority in the private sector.

Drilling rigs also doubled from last year with retail sales recovering to pre-recession numbers. Via

The strong second quarter also helped the province reduce its deficit by $183 million to $10.3 billion. The effect on Fort McMurray housing will likely be positive overall, though an increase in prices may still be ways off.

In other news, a Houston-based company has come to an agreement to acquire Noralta Lodge for $367 million. This deal combines the two major providers of workforce accommodation and improves the operational strengths and facilities management capabilities. From Fort McMurray Today:

Camp providers join forces to deal with market

The companies say in a joint news release they expect to save $10 million annually by 2019 through operational efficiencies.

Lower oil prices over the past three years have dried up capital availability to build new oilsands and infrastructure projects, leading to high vacancy rates in the dozens of workcamps or lodges that surround Fort McMurray, Alta.

Civeo says it was attracted by Noralta’s ongoing contracts with two major oilsands producers which are to produce annual revenues of at least $130 million during their terms. h/t

The companies involved expect to save $10 million annually by 2019 primarily thanks to corporate and operational efficiencies.


Lastly, new proposed job site rules by the Alberta government will give workers the right to decline dangerous work on the job. From My McMurray:

Workers to get right to refuse unsafe work as Alberta overhauls workplace rules

Labour Minister Christina Gray is suggesting changes to workplace health and safety provisions and to workers’ compensation in a bill before the house.

Gray says workers need to be safe and have adequate support when they are hurt on the job.

One of the changes proposes that the family of a worker killed on the job receive a lump-sum payment of $90,000.

Employees would also get more say on the health and safety of their workplace, and those who were injured would get more input on how their claim was handled. Read more at

The memory of a recent explosion on site that killed a worker on the job is still fresh, so these proposed rules are relevant. Workplace harassment and violence will also be the focus of new, related rules.

That’s all for this weeks’ roundup. Check back on The A-Team blog for more news and updates on Fort McMurray.

Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of December 1) is republished from


Is Buying a Home in the Winter a Good Idea?

I wasn’t born in Canada. Know-it-all-Englishman coming through!

I am Canadian, so obviously I cried when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in the Olympic finals.

But there’s one thing about natural born Canadians that I’ll never understand:

“Oh, no I couldn’t move house in the winter!” – Any Canadian

I really don’t get it. So I ask them “why not”? I always get back a mumbling answer about snow and cold, and the physical act of moving. Something about having to have the door open and keep putting your boots on and off.

It’s part of a bigger thing I don’t understand about Canadians which is an aversion to bad weather. If you hate snow so much (or God, forbid, RAIN!) then why, might I ask, did your forebears come here!

Of course, I’m joking.

But seriously, is buying a home in the winter months a good idea? Let’s see:

[Before we get started, check out the fun disclaimer in the footnote.][note]The interpretations of the MLS® data are my own and don’t reflect the opinions of the Fort McMurray Real Estate Board or its members.[/note]

Seasonal Cycles

Our real estate market is cyclical:

1) The national housing market is economically cyclical (interest rates, credit).
2) The Alberta (especially Fort McMurray) is dependent on the commodity super-cycle.
3) The natural world (and our school calendar) affects the real estate market.

If not much is going on in 1) and 2), then 3) will dominate. But regardless of what is happening in 1) and 2), our housing market is impacted by 3) (seasonal changes in our market operate in the background). In the last few years (true also this year), there has been so much change in 1) and 2), that 3) has not been very noticeable.

People like to buy and sell homes in the spring and summer months. Maybe it’s because they like to see the landscaping, or maybe because they want their kids into the new home long before the school year starts, or perhaps it’s because they don’t like cold feet when moving.

What am I talking about? I’ll explain, but first, let’s look at 2017 new listings and sales:

New Listings And Sales in 2017 So Far[note]All properties types have been selected. The data in all charts and analysis covers only the following areas: Abasand, Beacon Hill, Dickinsfield, Downtown, Eagle Ridge, Grayling Terrace, Henning Ridge, Parsons North, Prairie Creek, Stone Creek, Thickwood, Timberlea, Waterways and Wood Buffalo[/note]

homes for sale fort mcmurray ab 2017

This year has been fairly typical and as you can see in the diagram above, most people list their home in the first eight months of the year, with the peak, usually in April or May.

So that’s new listings. Now let’s look at sales activity:

fort mac home sales 2017

From the above diagram, we can see that most homes sell between February and June. Some years (about 50% of the last ten years) we see a fall bump, but just as often we see a “shoulder”, as we have this year, during which sales don’t rise or fall from late summer levels until we get into the worst of the winter (December, January).

New listings and sales are highly correlated. Quality inventory drives sales, and the promise of sales causes people to want to list their homes for sale.

Inventory & Quality Inventory

But what about the stock of available homes over the year? What does that look like?

ft mac homes for sale

Listings and sales (as well as expiries) combine to give us an inventory of listings on the market at any given time. For example, at the time of writing, we have 708 homes listed for sale in our urban market area. This is the selection of homes that buyers get to choose from.

As you can see, choice is more in the summer and less in the winter.

Since the best properties sell the most quickly, it makes sense also, that the vast majority of quality listings are available in the summer months.

Investor vs Consumer

You may be thinking of buying a home. If so, you might be doing so for purely financial reasons, to enjoy life now, or for a mixture of both.

We generally find that consumers tend to have more success during the summer months, when they are likely to find just the perfect home. There is more good stuff out there, but be aware also, that there are usually tons more buyers. Sometimes in showings, you can almost smell the last guys. Not a great feeling!

On the other hand, those looking for the best deals, might like to buy during winter months, when prices can be lower (all other things being equal). The reason prices adjust seasonally is because while inventory cycles down slightly in the winter months, sales take a real hit, especially in December and January.

So is is buying a home in this season a good idea? It depends on who you are (and why you are buying). It also depends on other things going on in the marketplace…

A Lot Going On Right Now

Be careful not to read too much into this one article, because it applies best to balanced markets (right now we are in a buyer’s market – prices are falling due to non-seasonal reasons). I really just wanted to write this just to open up people’s’ minds to another dimension/cycle you might not have thought much about.

To better understand the market, we recommend catching up by checking out our previous blogs on the topic:

Fort McMurray Real Estate Crash: A Timeline
Fort McMurray Housing Market Recovery: 8 Signs to Look for
The Effect of Oil Prices, Employment and Interest Rates on the Fort McMurray Housing Market

If you’d prefer to chat in person, we have specialist buyer’s agents, trained to look after YOUR best interests, so don’t be shy to reach out to us. We’ll look after you like family.



If you’re a chicken and don’t want to move in the winter, try not to panic. We’ve been known to help clients move every once in a while!

The blog post Is Buying a Home in the Winter a Good Idea? is republished from

Things that Turn Off Home Buyers

Everyone home buyer has their own idea of what they want out of a house. As a seller, you want to please potential buyers, but sometimes you may be turning them away. You may have the perfect-sized home in a good location, but none of these will mean a surefire sale. Today’s post discusses some factors that turn off home buyers.

First on our list is a cluttered, dirty house. When your home is listed, it’s a priority to keep it clean and attractive. While this may seem obvious, a recent post from Frampton Realty explains how it’s still common even today:

Cluttered, dirty houses

You already know this one. Every seller does. Yet, even in 2017, the era of Houzz and HGTV, buyers walk into homes that would make your mother cringe every single day. The people who come to see your home are making one of the biggest decisions they’ll ever make. Cluttered countertops, neglected toilet seats and unattended litter boxes not only invite the viewer to turn up their nose, they practically compel a buyer to walk away.

Luckily, you have all the control in the world over how your house looks to your would be buyer. Some sellers find it helpful to think not about de-cluttering, but about pre-packing. Everything that is not part of the home’s decor or furnishing and that is not a must for your daily functioning should be boxed up, and neatly packed away in the garage or a storage unit. You’ll have to pack it all up anyway when your home sells, and doing it in advance just makes it more likely the place will sell, stat! Read more at

It’s recommended to make your home look spacious. Picture yourself walking into a house that looks like it was hit by a tornado. You’d most likely hightail it out of there. You can always ask someone to help organize your home, or you can even hire a professional organizer.

It probably won’t be this bad, but messy homes stand out in the wrong way

Next are bad smells or odors. You might think that the smell in your house is perfectly fine, but you’re living there. As the scent commercials like to point out, you’re most probably nose-blind. It’s worth investing in odor eliminators, as odors are major buyer-repellants:

Nasty smell or odor

Just shy of half (49%) of potential homebuyers named off-putting smells as a major turn-off. Odours from pets, greasy food and cigarette smoke send a bad message to buyers. Sarah Beeny says: “Don’t cook strong-smelling food ahead of viewings and invest in some great air fresheners or room scents.” In other words, stock up on Febreze and leave that vindaloo for another night. Via

If there are smokers in your house, be sure to remove all ashtrays and clean curtains, linens or anything that retains the smell of smoke. There are also other smells you’ll want to look out for as well, like food or pets.

Last on the list of buyer deterrents is bad photos on your listing, or no photos at all. We know you’ve heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and it’s especially true when it comes to real estate. A photo of your listing is necessary for this age of online browsing. Buyers are much more likely to skip a home unless they see pictures of it online:

No photos on the listing

You’ve probably heard a lot of the “do’s” when it comes to selling a home, right? Well, here are some of the “do nots” – things that consistently turn people away from buying a house.

I’m pretty sure most buyers wouldn’t turn up to a house inspection without first deciding if they like the look of a property. Without photos of your real estate listing, a buyer can’t make that decision and you’ve already shut the door on a sale. Photos or even videos of your house are such a valuable tool in selling a home. It’s the same with your address, make sure it’s listed. A lot of buyers will google your address to see what your street looks like and to find out what amenities are close by. Take every opportunity to make sure it’s easy for them.

Most home buyers in today’s market will see your listing online first. That is why having professional photos (and videos) are valuable when selling your home. Ensure that you have your agent upload attractive pictures on the MLS®.

The A-Team recognizes the value of online marketing: we produce video tours of all our properties. Our photos also stand out due to our exclusive ‘twilight’ makeovers, which add another layer of flair to any listing. If you’re looking to sell your Fort McMurray home, give us a call!

Things that Turn Off Home Buyers was originally published on The A-Team LLC

Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of November 24)

It’s Black Friday, and shoppers everywhere are making use of huge sales. But Friday also means another edition of our weekly column from the A-Team. Here is some important news for this week.

The Festival of Trees is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year, and the latest edition, held this week, brought in record amounts. The festival is held every year to raise awareness and provide healthy activities in the community. From My McMurray:

Festival of Trees brings in a record $665,000 for the NLHF

This year 150 sponsors, over 200 volunteers and 8,000 guests came together for the three-day festival in support of the NLHF.

“Totally outstanding!” said Melanie Antoine, chair of the NLHF board of directors. “That’s how I would sum up the whole Festival of Trees event right from the early planning by the organizing committee to the very last minute of the Sugar Plum Fairy Ball which closed off this year’s events. The level of commitment from our sponsors, volunteers, and auction and ticket purchasers was exceptional and really speaks to the commitment of our community for supporting health care initiatives in our region. The Gala Tree Auction raised $454,000 which is a record for 33 trees!”

Over the past 28 years, the Festival of Trees has raised almost $8 million (net after all expenses) for local health care, with over 30,000 volunteer hours invested by thousands of community members. Read more at

The Festival of Trees is a staple in Fort McMurray, and it’s clear the event is as successful as ever.


In financial news, Alberta’s economy saw 6.7% growth in 2017 after two years of recession, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s latest economic outlook released this week:

Report: Alberta’s GDP Sees 6.7% Growth, Highest Across Country

According to the Conference Board of Canada’s latest economic outlook, the province’s GDP saw major growth around 6.7 per cent.

No other province or territory came close as British Columbia and Quebec each saw the second highest with 3.2 per cent growth.

The Conference Board notes the big reason was solid oil production and pickup in drilling.

They add this “incredible” growth won’t continue next year as they are predicting a modest 2.1 per cent growth, however, the report highlighted recent oil prices and how they could keep the momentum going over the near term. h/t

This is obviously impressive growth for the province, and will only mean good things for Wood Buffalo. In terms of real estate, the good news could mean a renewed confidence in the local economy, which might, in turn, slow the decrease in home prices.

Lastly, three local organizations will be receiving provincial funding to advance certain developments in the region. The Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program awarded the three grants to the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association, Community Futures Wood Buffalo and Keyano College, according to the Fort McMurray Today:

Local organizations receive provincial funding

Community Futures Wood Buffalo will receive $67,850 to put towards the Wood Buffalo Recovery Loan Program. The money will provide administrative assistance to the program which helps “shorten the period of recovery from the May 2016 wildfires” for residents.

Keyano College is receiving $33,500 for their Regional Innovation Network Strategic Action Plan and will aid in the “development of an action plan to provide direction to new and expanding businesses in the region.”

And finally, the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association has been given $34,700 to put towards the organizations website restructuring which hopes to improve the “platform which connects non-Aboriginal companies with the Aboriginal business community” in Wood Buffalo. Via

The 3 organizations were among 50 applicants across the province. Total funding reached $4.2 million.

That’s all for this weeks’ roundup. Check back on The A-Team blog for more news and updates on Fort McMurray.

Around Town: Fort McMurray News (Week of November 24) is republished from

What Are We Doing Next? – Making Your Home Stand Out

Look at what we are doing now! Our amazing team of specialized agents prides ourselves in giving all of our clients service that will far exceed their expectations. And we have a proven track record of constantly raising industry standards in Fort McMurray.

How do we do this? Or you may be thinking: “What does The A-Team do that other REALTORS® do not?” Well, here is a prime example.

The A-Team has added something new to our full-service package for selling people’s homes: twilight photos! I know it is incredible, which is why I want to tell you what it is exactly. It is another piece of marketing which is standard for all of our listings that will make your home stand out amongst its competitors when you are selling!

What do you get? In conjunction with all the other amazing features we offer, you will now also get a twilight front photo of your home! This will be the first photo on the MLS and will also be featured on our social media marketing, which has over 10,000 followers (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter & LinkedIn). The front photo of your home will be edited to look as though it is at the forefront of an absolutely beautiful sunset. We think it is the perfect way to show off the beautifully coloured skies we have here in Fort McMurray! are featuring these twilight photos on all of our listings, for any property type. This means that whether you have an empty lot or a million-dollar home, it will stand apart from the other homes on the MLS now even more than before.

Why, you ask? We are always looking for new, fun and creative ways to offer our clients more value when they decide to sell their home with us. It is also a great memento for you to take with you when you move on to the next chapter in your life. Wouldn’t you want your home to stand out?

Here are a few examples of what The A-Team now offers to you, your friends and your family. Take a look and let us know what you think!

223 Loutit Road
301 McKinlay Cres
148 Chalifour Street

What Are We Doing Next? – Making Your Home Stand Out was first seen on