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Stronger protections for new condo buyers

Posted October 13, 2017

Alberta Government  Posted: Oct 12, 2017 

New rules will help better protect Albertans when buying a condo.

A new home is the largest purchase most Albertans will make, and today the government approved new regulations that will better protect Albertans’ investments.

“Albertans deserve to be protected when making a big purchase like a home or investment property. Today, we have taken the first steps toward reassuring Albertans that their investments are properly looked after, so they can feel confident when investing in the condo market.”

Stephanie McLean, Minister of Service Alberta

The new rules will improve protections for buyers of new and converted condominium units by:

  • Requiring developers to give a final move-in date, and if they cannot deliver on time, buyers have the option to renegotiate or cancel their contract and get their deposit back.
  • Preventing “fee shock” by requiring developers to give a realistic estimate of condo fees a buyer can expect to pay when they move in.
  • Requiring developers to include more information in the contract, such as floor plans and finishes, to help buyers make a confident decision.
  • Creating new rules so developers must hold buyers’ deposits in trust with a lawyer while their condos are being built.
  • Requiring developers to provide more information to the first elected condo board, to create a smoother transition for owners.
  • Allowing the government to investigate breaches of the act, and issue fines to developers where necessary.

The bulk of the new regulations will come into effect Jan. 1, 2018, with the remainder coming into force April 1.

“The new rules will benefit both condominium builders and purchasers. As consumers look to purchase homes, having rules that enhance their confidence and security will result in increased participation in the marketplace.”

Jade Mahon, Partners Development Group

“Condo owners in Alberta have been eagerly anticipating these changes. The new rules give us more options and more information up front, and help us better protect our investments.”

Terry Gibson, Condo Owners Forum Society of Alberta

Condo survey launching today

Public consultations are now underway for the second set of regulations, focused on improving condo living.

Albertans are invited to complete an online survey on issues such as:

  • how meetings are run and how votes take place
  • rules on renting a condo
  • who should repair units and pay for insurance
  • how reserve funds are managed
  • what kind of say owners get in the rules the board makes
  • how to make sure condo boards have the support they need to fulfil their roles
  • establishment of a condo tribunal to more easily resolve disputes as an alternative to the courts

The survey is available at condo.alberta.ca until Nov. 10, 2017. It is a followup to a series of open houses held across Alberta earlier this summer.

Input from the survey and open houses will help the government create new regulations related to governance and dispute resolution. The new rules are expected to be finalized in 2018.

Backgrounder: Condominium Property Amendment Act

Alberta’s legislature passed the Condominium Property Amendment Act in December 2014. Since that time, regulatory work has been underway to bring more than 50 amendments into force. The first stage of amendments, going into effect in early 2018, is focused on improving the protection of condo buyers after they’ve committed to purchasing a new or converted property.

The government received feedback on the first stage of regulations from condominium owners, developers, managers, legal and real estate professionals, as well as business and industry associations.

Among the feedback received 

  • Suggestions for the type of information that should be provided to purchasers at the point of sale.
  • Concerns about setting low condo fees as a selling feature, with owners then having to pay higher fees in subsequent years, when actual costs were included in operating budgets.
  • Clarification required for the definition of “material change.”

Coming into force on Jan. 1, 2018

  • Broadening of the information developers must disclose to elected boards when the boards take over control of the corporation, such as technical documents and financial information.
  • Expanding the agreements that can be terminated by the first elected board of a condo to better protect condo owners from being stuck with a poorly negotiated agreement. The new laws allow for the inclusion of almost any agreement that may be in place during development, including landscaping agreements and maintenance agreements.
  • Formally recognizing ways in which an owner may call special meetings of the corporation.
  • Giving the government additional inspection powers and the ability to issue fines to developers, if the rules are not being followed.
  • Increasing the penalty for offences, from $15,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company to $25,000 and $100,000, respectively, or three times the amount gained by the offence, whichever is greater.

Coming into force on April 1, 2018

  • Require developers to give buyers an occupancy date so they know when their units will be ready, and concrete remedies, including the ability to end a contract, when the unit is not ready on time.
  • Requiring developers to provide more information to condo buyers, including occupancy dates, materials to be used to finish the condo, and other fees that the developer will charge the purchaser.
  • Increasing protection for purchasers’ trust money by requiring it to be held by a lawyer instead of the developer and creating specific rules about how it’s handled.
  • Means for condo corporations to recover costs directly from the developer when the developer has deliberately underestimated expenses for things like heating, maintenance and management, during the marketing process.
  • Rules for notice and options for buyers when changes happen during construction that a buyer did not agree to.
  • New rules to ensure the appropriate number of parking spots for visitors and people with disabilities are included in condo plans. 
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Energy Savings for Homeowners

Posted June 28, 2017

AREA has partnered with the Pembina Institute to educate REALTORS® and their clients on the value of energy efficiency. Together, we want to create awareness of the energy efficiency opportunities available throughout Alberta and how they can help your clients save energy and money.

The Pembina Institute provides research, leadership and education on climate change and energy issues.

Look for more of these collaborative resources in the future.

Click here to download this brochure!

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Annual Scholarships Available From Fort McMurray REALTORS®

Posted March 01, 2017

Fort McMurray REALTORS® are once again offering their annual scholarships to students graduating in 2017.

Students applying will need to be enrolled in post-secondary education. Recipients will be eligible to receive $1,000 towards their future education. Scholarships will be awarded once applications are reviewed.  The scholarships are available to students residing in the Fort McMurray Real Estate Board area which includes the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Lac La Biche area.

To download the application, please click on the link below. Please note that applications are due on April 28, 2017.  

2017 Scholarship Application

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Real Estate Council of Alberta Kicks Off Fraud Prevention Month by Urging Albertans to Dig Deeper

Posted March 01, 2017

RECA News Release 

Calgary, Alberta – As this year’s Fraud Prevention Month begins, the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is urging Albertans to dig deeper when a real estate or mortgage deal seems too good to be true.

As the licensing and regulatory body for Alberta’s 15,000 real estate, mortgage brokerage and real estate appraisal professionals, RECA’s mandate includes protecting against, investigating, detecting, and suppressing mortgage fraud. RECA has extensive information and resources for consumers that can help them avoid being targets.

“Consumers have the power to protect themselves from opportunistic fraudsters,” says Christine Zwozdesky, RECA Chair. “We encourage consumers to dig deeper for more information if something sounds too good to be true.”

  • having financial difficulty related to your mortgage? Someone offering you “an easy way out”? Find out if the person offering to help you is a licensed real estate or mortgage brokerage professional. “Search for an industry professional” at www.reca.ca
  • read contracts and other documents carefully. Make sure you understand what you’re signing; if you don’t, ask questions. If you don’t like the answers – look for help or information elsewhere
  • do a web search for the names of the individuals offering to help you out. If the person you’re dealing with has a history of fraud, their old victims have likely warned the world online

Zwozdesky adds, “Part of RECA’s mandate is consumer protection, and providing Albertans with credible, independent information about mortgage fraud prevention and awareness is one way we can do that.”

Do your research, ask questions, and most of all, make sure you’re working with a licensed mortgage or real estate professional. Their extensive knowledge, experience, and training can help you avoid scams.

Mortgage fraud awareness and prevention resources for consumers are available now on RECA’s website. RECA will be participating in Fraud Prevention Month activities throughout March.

Click here for the original article found on the RECA website.

The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is an independent, non-government agency, responsible for governing real estate, mortgage broker, property management, and real estate appraisal industry professionals under Alberta’s Real Estate Act. RECA’s mandate is to protect consumers and to provide services that enhance and improve the industry and the business of industry professionals.

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Collaborative report going to Council

Posted November 02, 2015

Mix 103.7 FM News Page posted November 2, 2015

A trio of business organizations in Fort McMurray are putting their pitch to Council tomorrow night on the best ways to tackle the socio-economic issues of the region.

The Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce, Fort McMurray Real Estate Board, and Urban Development Institute Wood Buffalo have collaborated on a report called "Protecting the Investment in Our Future," and presented it in Edmonton last week.

It's a follow up to the Radke Report, which was issued by then-Premier Ed Stelmach in 2006, offering recommendations on how to address the needs of a booming oil sands region.

The newly released report outlines three conditions for the oil sands to prosper, which range from keeping the cost of production globally competitive, to improving the quality of life.

As well, one of the report's recommendations is to re-start a government body called the Oil Sands Secretariat.

To read the report "Protecting the Investment in Our Future", please click the below link.

  Protecting_the_Investment.pdf

 

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Stephen Harper pledges higher RRSP withdrawal limit for 1st time homebuyers

Posted August 17, 2015

CBC News Posted: Aug 12, 2015 2:00 PM ET

Stephen Harper says a Conservative government would raise the amount that first-time homebuyers can draw out of their RRSPs to buy a house — from $25,000 to $35,000 — if elected.

At a campaign stop in Vancouver, Harper said a Conservative government would increase the upper limit of what's known as the Home Buyer's Plan. Under current rules, a would-be homebuyer can withdraw up to $25,000 from his or her RRSP without paying a penalty, as long as the money will be used to help pay for a first home.

The homebuyer must also pay back the funds within 15 years, and doesn't get the benefit of the tax credit while replenishing the money.

Under the new Conservative proposal, that limit would be increased to $35,000.

"For most Canadians, the family home is their biggest asset and their most significant investment in their future financial security. It's also the centre of their lives," Harper said.

Since the plan started in 1992, more than 2.8 million Canadians have used the plan to help pay for a first home, the Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents realtors across the country, said in a release following the policy pledge.

The plan would cost the government $30 million a year in lost tax revenue starting in the 2017-18 fiscal year, Harper said.

For the full article, visit www.cbc.ca/news

 

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211 Wood Buffalo Phone Service

Posted April 18, 2015

What is 211?

211 is a regional service available in all Wood Buffalo communities: Anzac, Conklin, Draper, Fort Chipewyan, Fort Fitzgerald, Fort MacKay, Fort McMurray, Gregoire Lake Estates, Janvier, and Saprae Creek Estates.

211 is an easy-to-remember, three-digit telephone number that connects callers to a full range of non-emergency social, health, community and government services.  It is free, confidential, multilingual and available 24 hours a day.

Everyday someone in Wood Buffalo needs help finding services. Faced with a complex maze of phone books, help lines and directories, people often don’t know where to turn. A single call to 211 eliminates all this confusion. A call to 211 connects clients with information about, and referrals to, human services for everyday needs and for crisis situations. 

Components of the 211 System

211 consists of two components: the telephone service and a large, comprehensive database that supports it. Both components provide single point of access to information. 

Benefits of 211

The communities of Wood Buffalo will derive far reaching benefits from 211. These benefits will be felt by individuals, families, service providers, local governments, businesses, corporations, community planners. 


The benefits to community include:

   Support for the social profit sector
   Emergency preparedness
   Support to Wood Buffalo’s aboriginal and rural population
   Support to immigrants and newcomers arriving in Wood Buffalo
   Improved access to services to the public
   Using public resources more effectively
   Tracking call patterns to inform community planning
   Resource tool supporting human service workers

 

Visit http://www.ab.211.ca for further information.

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Local real estate boards give hint of a surging housing market

Posted July 10, 2014

Canada’s housing market is again proving to be hotter than economists expected. The latest data on sales of existing homes across the country will be released by the Canadian Real Estate Board next week. But a number of local real estate boards have made their statistics available in recent days and the picture they paint is generally one of strength, especially in the highly-populated markets of Toronto and Vancouver. Full article –http://tinyurl.com/pu8kag5

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