Feb. 19, 2023

First-Time Home Buyers Guide: Buying a home in Calgary

First-Time Home Buyers Guide: Buying a home in Calgary

Step-by-Step Guide to Buying

Congratulations on deciding to buy your first home. Not sure where to start? Buying your first home can be very exciting. But at the same time, it can also be an intimidating process. You more than likely have a few of the same questions most commonly asked on Google; how much is a downpayment on a house in Calgary? Is now a  good time to buy a house in Calgary? Is buying a house in Calgary a good investment? How much does it cost to buy a house in Calgary? 

There are many things to consider when buying a home, and even more so when you are buying your first home. If you want an edge in a highly competitive market and someone familiar with all of your questions, I suggest you partner with a Calgary real estate expert. Below are some steps to help you through the buying process.

Step One - Getting Started

When talking about one of the biggest investments of most people’s lives; it is important to be educated. Empowering yourself in the real estate process and industry will make you feel a lot more comfortable making decisions. There are several resources you can turn to for information. 

The Internet 

The internet is truly the information highway. It is how you found this guide after all. Most general questions can be answered by simply typing them into google and clicking search. 

Meeting With Your Realtor 

While on the hunt for your first home, you must understand how the current real estate market will affect your situation. As a buyer, working with a real estate agent doesn't cost you anything. Sellers pay the agent a commission when the home is purchased. An agent’s job is to find the home of your dreams, provide valuable resources and information, and answer all your questions along the way.

Step Two - What can I afford? 

There is nothing but options when it comes to financing, but you should have a good idea of how you will purchase your next home before you get too committed to looking. Luckily the Government of Canada website provides a lot of information and resources for first-time home buyers.  


A pre-approval means that a lender will review the information you share with them to establish the amount of mortgage you can qualify for. At that time, the lender will provide you with confirmation of a fixed interest rate for a specific period. Your realtor can connect you with a mortgage broker or you can contact your bank to start the process.

Down Payment 

As a first-time home buyer, you will have to come up with the cash for a down payment. The amount you will have to pay is determined by many different factors including property value, the amortization period, the mortgage rate whether a fixed rate or a variable rate as well as the percentage of your down payment.


Provincial housing regulations in Alberta state that the minimum amount you need to put down for your down payment is 5% of the value of the Home, however, if your down payment is less than 20%, you are required to purchase default insurance.


According to CMCH, sources of down payment include:

  • Applicant’s savings
  • RRSP withdrawal
  • Gifts
  • Home Buyers' Tax Credit (HBTC)

Step Three - The Fun Part

The Search

This truly is the fun part! You already know the price you can afford. All you need to do is decide what are the “must-haves” for the place you are going to call home. You can search through a wide array of properties by using The Calgary MLS® system. We will set you up with a property auto-search to notify you (typically via email) when a new house enters the market that matches your criteria.


Once you narrow down your search, we will arrange times to look at homes based on your schedule. Move on during showings if you don’t like what you see. However, if you’re interested add it to your shortlist or even write an offer. Quickly identifying a home that matches your criteria will save you the headache of viewing too many homes and getting discouraged.

Step Four - Writing an Offer 

You have found the home and you’re ready to make an offer! Together, we will evaluate your prospective home’s value and the conditions that will protect you as a buyer. We write up an Offer to Purchase and begin the process. Some of the most common conditions presented in offers include:

  • Home Inspection Condition
  • Home Financing Condition
  • Condo Document Review Condition ( Condo Buyers Guide)

Step Five - It’s Official

Once your offer has been accepted and all conditions are met, the documents will be sent to a lawyer of your choice for signing. We are happy to provide you with a recommended real estate lawyer if you don’t know one already. You will be contacted by the law office about a week before possession to sign all of the documents.

Step Six - Prepare for Moving Day

Moving into your own home for the first time has a few moving parts. You will need to set a date to move in! Typical possessions are 30 – 60 days, however, they may be quicker. If you purchased a condo, the date must be cleared with the building. Here are a few things to do to prepare for the big day:

  • Make arrangements to hire movers and/or rent a truck
  • Set up utilities (electric, gas, internet, TV etc.) in your name
  • Complete an address change
  • Insurance

Step Seven - Possession Day

Moving day is here! You’re a proud new homeowner. On your possession day, we will meet at the property for a personal inspection. Once all payments are received by the seller, keys will be released. Should any issues arise, you will be immediately contacted. 

After you’re settled into your new home, we will contact you to make sure you’re happy. If you have any questions or concerns, we will take care of them right away.

Need a Hand?

Now that you have a better idea of how to buy a house in Calgary, you can start searching for your new lifestyle with confidence! Contact us today so we can get the process started.

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Jan. 28, 2023

History and Growth of the Calgary, Alberta Real Estate Market



The History and Growth of the Calgary, Alberta Real Estate Market

View of pedestrians walking along the sidewalks of Stephen Avenue, Calgary, 1905. The storefronts are visible.

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Nov. 28, 2022

Intelligent Pricing

Fair market value is what a willing buyer and a willing seller agree by contract is a fair price for the home.

Values can be impacted by a wide range of reasons but the two largest are location and condition.

Generally, fair market value can be determined by comparables (other similar homes that have sold or are currently for sale in the same area).

Comparative Market Analysis

A comparative market analysis (CMA) is an estimate of a home's value

used to help sellers set listing prices and to help buyers make competitive offers.


Stats - Free real estate icons

The analysis considers the location, age, size,

construction, style, condition, and other factors

for the subject property and comparables.



Your best chance of selling your home is

in the first two weeks of marketing. Your

home is fresh and exciting to buyers, as well as

their agents!


House For Sale clipart. Free download transparent .PNG | Creazilla

With a sign in the yard, a

description in the local Multiple Listing

Service, distribution across the Internet,

open houses, broker’s caravan, ads, and

email blasts to your listing agent’s buyers,

your home will get the greatest flurry of

attention and interest in the first two weeks.




Nov. 28, 2022

Setting the Stage to Sell Your Home - Checklist

Checklist Photo








Setting the Stage to Sell your Home

Inside Your Home


       Floor Coverings ( Carpeting, tile, etc.) 

  • Dirt or stains
  • Excessive wear or damage
  • Area rugs clean and stain-free


     Walls and ceilings

  • Dirt, fingerprints or other stains
  • Nail or thumb crack holes, tape residue
  • Cracks, chips, water damage
  • Need for repainting or new wallpaper?
  • Neutral, light colours for roomy environment



  • Dirt, fingerprints or other stains
  • Need new paint
  • Open/close easily without squeaks
  • Latches/handles secure and working properly


     Lighting (Lighting makes a room more inviting)

  • All bulbs working and proper wattage
  • Broken switches, exposed wiring
  • Table & floor lamps working properly


     Basement, furnace room, garage, storage rooms

  • Clean and well-organised
  • Clutter and excess “junk” removed
  • Remaining items stored/stacked neatly
  • Everything vacuumed/dusted



  • Every surface sparkling clean
  • Countertops organised, all but daily use appliances removed
  • Refrigerator spotless inside and out
  • Organised
  • Spoiled food discarded
  • Frost removed
  • Light bulbs working (Buyers look)
  • Oven/stovetop clean? Burner trays cleaned
  • Sinks clean; faucets working properly and leak free
  • Garbage disposal in good working condition
  • Cupboards/pantry spotless, organised
  • Dishwasher clean and stain free



  • Glass sparkling clean/chip and crack free
  • Open close easily
  • Latches/handles/locks secure, working properly
  • Dirt and fingerprints on frames or sills
  • Screens clean and without holes


     Window coverings (curtain, drapes, etc)

  • Dirt or stains
  • Excessive or sun damage
  • Open/close easily, hardware working properly


     Entryways and hallways

  • Clean, free of clutter & obstructions
  • Welcome mats clean and inviting
  • Closets and storage areas
  • Clean and well organised
  • Clutter and excess junk removed
  • Clothes hung neatly and not jammed together
  • Shoes and boots neatly stored


     Living room, dining room, bedrooms, den, and study

  • Everything vacuumed/dusted
  • Excess furniture removed for roomier atmosphere
  • Remaining furniture clean and in good repair
  • Wood and other surfaces clean and polished
  • Bookshelves neat, organised and clutter-free
  • Children’s games/toys stored neatly
  • Fragile items removed and stored
  • Smaller valuables removed/locked away
  • Window coverings open for views and sunlight
  • Mirrors clean and in good repair
  • Ashtrays cleaned and kept out of sight
  • Fireplace clean, logs/kindling stacked neatly


     Bathrooms/Powder room

  • Every surface sparkling clean
  • Countertops organised, free of clutter
  • Fresh soap
  • Sinks spotlessly clean, faucets working properly
  • Tub and shower surfaces clean
  • Towels stain-free and hanging neatly
  • Shower curtain clean and in good repair
  • Toilet extra-clean and working properly
  • Closets organised and clutter-free
  • Medicine cabinet clean, “personal items” removed

Outside Your Home



  • Exterior surfaces clean, in good condition
  • Front-door exterior clean, inviting?
  • Eavestroughs and downspouts clean, in good repair
  • Gates open/close properly, hardware working
  • Fences/decks in good repair, in good condition
  • Sidewalks and walkways in good repair
  • Driveway clean, in good repair


     Yard and Environment

  • Driveways, sidewalks clear of snow, ice
  • Lawns mowed/edged regularly
  • Large bare spots repaired?
  • Leaves removed from lawns and flower beds
  • Trees pruned, hedges trimmed
  • Flower beds weeded and tidy; dead plants replaced
  • “Junk” and scrap removed
  • Lawn furniture clean, organised, good repair
  • Bicycles, children’s toys stored neatly, out of way
  • Firewood organised and neatly stacked
  • Dog runs secure, yard free of “doggy deposits”
Nov. 26, 2022

6 Real Estate Tips to Help Sell Your First Home


Selling your first home is similar in a way to when you first purchased it. This is an exciting time, but it can also feel overwhelming. Welcome to the other side of the equation. At this moment, you have a lot of money on the line and it’s important to make the right decisions now so you can reap the best results possible. We know that this can be a scary time so we have assembled a list of some things that you can do to increase your odds of selling fast and at full price, even if you’re doing this for your first time.


Appraise and Price Your Home Accurately

Ultimately, the price that you list your home for will directly impact how quickly your home will sell and for how much. If you price your home too high, it could sit on the market for a long time. If you price your home too low,  you could be leaving extra money on the table! If your house is listed at the best price, not only will your home sell quickly but also for the best result. Having your home professionally appraised can give you another layer of confidence and help ensure that you are getting top dollar for your home.


Check out our team’s intelligent pricing system we use to set up our client’s listings for success every time.


Consider Staging

When a potential buyer walks into your house, you want them to be able to picture themselves in the space. Sometimes it can be difficult for a buyer to picture themselves in a space when it is completely empty. When a property is staged well it can have a huge effect on a buyer's opinion of the property and can even help them fall in love with your home. Stagers might suggest renting furniture to update your home or simply rearrange/reorganise what you already have!


First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

For better or for worse, buyers often judge a book by its cover. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing! In fact, when you are planning to sell your home, this is something that you can do relatively easily to leave a lasting impression on potential buyers. Easy fixes can go a long way toward getting your home sold. Things as simple as having your gutters cleaned, pressure washing, planting some colourful flowers, and even keeping up with your snow removal can go a long way toward helping buyers see themselves in your home. 

Try putting yourself into the buyer's shoes and thinking about the little things. They matter! You know that squeaky hinge you've been meaning to oil? The loose bathroom door knob you have to tighten? Or the deck that should’ve been stained last summer? Those are the projects that you’ve been putting aside and not something the new owner will want to deal with. Things as simple as replacing burnt-out light bulbs and washing the windows will go a long way.


To get the best return on your home, you need to make it look its best. 

Here’s a checklist that will help you do it


Sell your Property, Not Your Memories

Before you list your home for sale, show your home, or have an open house, it’s important to create a clean state. Like most things there is always a balance; on one hand, you don’t want your home to feel void and lifeless and on the other, it shouldn’t feel so personal a potential buyer can’t picture themselves in the space. Give your home a thorough cleaning from top to bottom, get rid of the clutter, hide family photos and other personal items. You shouldn’t remove everything but home buyers must be able to see themselves, and their belongings in the space.


Keep Documentation of Your Properties Recent Repairs

Most of the time, borrowers need to know about recent upgrades, updates, and renovations to your home. Some examples of things worth noting might be a new furnace, roof, hot water heater, or new air conditioning system. Cost, installation date, and who did the work are all questions that will likely be asked by either a borrower, real estate agent, or buyer. Any work that you’ve done or things that you’ve added to your home should be recorded. It could potentially increase your property’s value and will help promote your home to buyers!


Hire a Property Inspector

Most of the time the buyer will opt to have their own home inspection done before purchasing a home. However, having a home inspection done before listing your home for sale is a good way to avoid any shocking discoveries in the middle of finalising the sale. This way, if the inspection turns up any surprises you have the chance to fix these issues before they can potentially jeopardise a deal. This might seem counterintuitive or like something you don’t need to do but if buyers start finding things that are wrong with the property, they are more likely to get cold feet or a bad feeling.



Both buying and selling a home require a large amount of preparation. As you begin, you might not be aware of how the process works or all of the things that you can do to enhance your home for the best return. That’s why it is so important to work with an agent who is not only familiar with your community but also one who’s able to walk you through all of these unfamiliar processes for the very first time. 

Following these 6 tips to help sell your first home, will help you sell your home easier and with much less stress. If you have any questions concerning the sale of your first home or would like to learn more about how our team can help you, feel free to reach out to any of our amazing agents. We would love to help you along the way and get your home sold in any community in or around Calgary, Alberta!

Posted in Real Estate Tips
May 16, 2022



DECEMBER 14, 2020 

You likely already know many of the benefits of having a basement suite in a property. With a consistent renter, you can use the added income to offset the cost of your mortgage. This also contributes to other expenses and adds resale value to your home. While you may think that a secondary suite is an easy way to generate extra income, there are many other factors to consider. One of those factors is whether the existing suite in your home is legal. So, how do you make an existing basement suite in Calgary legal?

Currently, Calgary has just over 4,000 registered legal secondary suites according to the registry of legal suites. However, it’s estimated that there are over 13,000 illegal secondary suites in the city. The approval process for building legal secondary suites was once complicated. However, in 2018 the city council approved amendments to the land use bylaw.

For any applicants with suites that were built before March 2018, they will qualify for an amnesty program. Under this program, the city will waive the cost of the development permit and suite registration. This is approximately a $900 value and offered separately by the city until the end of 2021.

What is a secondary suite and what makes a secondary suite legal?

In Calgary, most secondary suites are located in the basement. As a defined term in the NBC – AB Edition and the AFC, a secondary suite is a second self-contained dwelling unit that is located within a primary dwelling unit. Both dwelling units have to also be registered under the same land title. Some examples where secondary suites are permitted include the following:

  • individual detached houses, or
  • where the secondary suite is located in a portion of a building,
  • semi-detached houses (half of a double), and
  • freehold row houses.

What makes a basement suite illegal?

An illegal suite is any secondary suite that is built without the proper permits or in an area of the city where they aren’t permitted.

What makes a basement suite legal?

A secondary suite is considered legal if it has been built in compliance with the right permits and meets all of the city’s current regulations.

Why should you make your secondary suite legal now?

Well, the City of Calgary is paying for it and that won’t last forever. The city council has extended the original deadline from June 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021 due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. After this time suites will have to adhere to the new suite regulations. Some of the new requirements include items like separate heat sources, separate electrical panels, and so on.

In addition, you are still required to apply and pay for a building permit (even for an existing secondary suite). This will roughly cost about $200. There are a number of benefits for making a suite legal such as it:

  • increases the value to potential buyers,
  • avoids penalty from the city once the grace period is over,
  • avoids legal troubles, and
  • it’s attractive to potential renters.

Thanks to the approved amendments to the process, registering your basement suite in Calgary as a legal suite has never been easier.

Interested in building or registering your secondary suite? Keep reading to find everything you need to know to ensure your basement suite is legal!

4 Steps for making an existing basement suite in Calgary legal

1. Review the secondary suite requirements list

The City of Calgary’s list of requirements is significantly less than if you were applying for a new suite. An exterior site plan will need to be provided showing the following:

  • parking spots for both units,
  • separate entrances, and
  • outdoor living space for each unit.

A development permit is most often required when the property is zoned RC-1. They will then put a sign on your front yard for about a week.

The city doesn’t require floor plans for the unit. Instead, they will conduct a site visit to determine any outstanding work that needs to be completed to meet the fire code.

If there is outstanding work, permits will be required. The 2014 Alberta Fire Code identifies four safety considerations that must be in place in any secondary suite. You can find more information in the secondary suite code questions and answers advisory​.

2. Prepare your secondary suite plans and documents

Use the existing secondary suite checklist on the City of Calgary website to determine your project’s drawing requirements. For online applications, review the criteria for information on how to organize your plans and documents.

3. Apply for a building permit

Applying for a permit with the City of Calgary is quite easy as it can now all be done online. If you prefer, you can also apply in person. Once you have all the required documents, you can apply for your permit by visiting the Planning Services Centre. To skip the line, book an appointment.

4. Prepare for an inspection

When the city inspects a property, they check to see if the property meets the city’s 2014 fire code which includes:

a. Complete fire protection between the two suites

In most cases, this would be drywall on all ceilings including under the stairs and in the mechanical room. The mechanical room can be a very difficult area to drywall, so a fire sprinkler can also be accepted. If you’re looking for an installer, contact Mitch.

b. At least one egress window per bedroom

An egress window is a window that:

  • can fully open,
  • has an opening greater than 3.8 square feet,
  • has no dimension less than 15 inches, and
  • a window well at least 30 inches in front of the window.

c. Interconnected smoke alarms hardwired between both units

This is necessary because, in the event of a fire in one unit, both units’ smoke detectors will alarm. If it’s not possible to run a 3 wire to the new smoke detector, the city will also accept BlueTooth connected smoke alarms. This is allowed as long as they are wired to constant power and on the ceiling.

They also will check that smoke detectors are installed in the following areas:

  • each bedroom of the unit that’s under inspection,
  • in the staircase to the unit (if it’s a shared stairwell),
  • a smoke/CO₂ detector in the mechanical room, and
  • in the common area of the unit (most often the hallway).

d. Cold-air returns

A shared heating source between units is acceptable (only for existing suites). The suite will need to have its own cold air return located in the suite in question.

e. COVID-19 regulations

The city is conducting inspections a little differently than normal. With homes that are occupied, it’s not uncommon for them to do a virtual inspection through GoogleDuo. If the home is vacant or they decide to send an inspector to the property, the standard COVID-19 protocols are in place. This includes social distancing, wearing masks, and avoid touching items in the home without gloves.


The window to make your secondary suite legal on the city’s dime is closing in December 2021. Owning a basement suite in Calgary allows you to rent out your space and increase the value of your property. It’s also a major selling feature for renters and buyers when the suite meets all the requirements under Alberta’s Safety Code Act.

At Mitch Thompson Realty we are familiar with the process of building legal basement suites. We also understand all of the city and provincial rules and regulations. Contact us to ensure your secondary suite development is in full compliance with the law and built with your specific needs!

May 16, 2022



NOVEMBER 10, 2020 

So, what should you be looking for when you’re on the hunt for your next investment property in Calgary to flip? It looks so simple and easy! Buy a house, fix up some cosmetic issues, slap on a fresh coat of paint, put it back on the market, and make a huge profit when it sells right away. Not so fast! The road to “sold” signs isn’t all about curb appeal. Far too many would-be real estate moguls overlook the important basics and end up turning their “flip” into a “flop”.

Well here’s what we were looking for when we were on the hunt for our next investment property in Calgary. We’ll take you through the recently renovated bungalow, 100 Lake Emerald Road SE located in the Lake Bonavista community in Calgary.


I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression that the three most important factors in valuing real estate are location, location, and location. They even named a TV show after it! The biggest factor to consider when determining the value of your house flip is where it’s located. First the city, then the neighbourhood, location within the neighbourhood (busy street, quiet street, etc.), and even more specifically the school.

This home is in Lake Bonavista, one of Calgary’s best lake communities. Sitting in southeast Calgary, between Fish Creek Provincial Park and Anderson Road, this community offers outdoor lovers a place to call home. There’s a great selection of parks, recreational facilities, top schools, and great local amenities located right within the community. This is easily one of the best communities, making it a great investment property in Calgary. 

Did we mention this home is also right across the street from a dog park? Not only does this provide additional privacy because of the lack of neighbours but it also offers a beautiful view right from the front door.

What’s located on your property is important too! This home had an existing detached double-car garage that was still in great shape. Having additional space that can easily serve several purposes is essential to the majority of buyers. Whether you want extra space to host a guy’s night, store your toys, keep your car warm, or somewhere at home that your kids can practice their sports through the winter, a well-finished garage can be priceless.

The home’s exterior before it’s facelift with new stucco and a feature metal wood faux wall.

Ideal Floor Plan

Use your imagination when you are on the hunt for a house to flip. Frequently, the most successful projects are the ones that need the most work. If you’re having a hard time imagining what the final picture could look like, see if there’s a similar house for sale nearby that’s in better condition. Tour the other house for sale to better visualize what’s possible in the house you’re looking at.

Don’t let what you currently see deter you as long as you know what goes into making those changes. Most families interested in purchasing a bungalow are looking for three bedrooms on the main floor but still want all the space for their other wish list items, like a large master ensuite with a walk-in closet.

When we reviewed this home pre-flip, we could see how the original floor plan supported a large kitchen vision. This would open up into the dining area, living area, and fireplace. Making these changes is not something that is easily done. Because the house had spanning roof trusses, it made an ideal investment and renovation project. We knew none of the interior walls would be load bearing which makes opening the house up a lot easier.

The kitchen before the renovation.



The kitchen layout after the renovation.



The living and dining area before the renovation.



The kitchen, living and dining space transformation, creating an open floor plan.

Removing the fourth bedroom on the main level may not seem like the first choice. However, this extra square footage gives the master bedroom a large walk-in closet and a huge spa-like ensuite bathroom.

The master bedroom before the renovation.



Master bedroom after renovation adding a large walk-in closet and ensuite bathroom.

Buyer Wish List Items

The first thing every buyer is going to do when they walk into a showing is compare their list of what they want with what your house offers. Make sure you can check off as many of those boxes as possible. These items are the key to getting a good price and will decrease the days a property spends on the market.

One of the boxes that this property ticked was a south-facing backyard. The main advantage of a south-facing house or garden is the amount of sunlight you’ll enjoy. Did you know Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada? In fact, according to World Atlas, Calgary receives 2,396 hours of sunshine on an average every year and about 333 sunny days annually.

With that said, the south side of any house will see the most hours of sunlight during the day – especially in the Northern Hemisphere *cough* Calgary *cough*. If you like entertaining on a summer’s evening or want as much natural light as possible in your living room, then a south-facing aspect may be a big consideration when choosing a new house.


Backyard of home.

When adding wish list items, make sure you know which updates and repairs you can and can’t afford. It’s also important to note what has already been done and which home improvements will increase the property’s selling price. If you can find a home that has already recently replaced big-ticket items such as windows, the hot water tank, and furnace, then you can invest more into adding features like AC or upgraded appliances.

Take Your Time

When you’re searching for the next investment property in Calgary to flip, there are a lot of things to consider. If you make smart decisions, you can make a lot of money flipping. But you can also lose everything if you make a bad investment. Don’t rush into buying the first dilapidated home on the market. Do your research to make sure it’s right for you.

Have you ever flipped a house? What do you look for in a possible investment property to flip? What do you wish you had done differently? We want to hear about your experiences, leave a comment below!

Posted in House Flipping
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates