Here we are in the middle of March already and before you know it we will all be making a mad dash to the post office to mail our tax returns, or pressing the submit button if we file electronically.

I have always found that if you are organized you can save a lot of grief and stress. Nothing is worse than diving into bins and boxes of receipts at the last minute while trying to meet the deadline. This is expecially true if you own a small business. If you are an employee and  just have a T4 and maybe an RRSP slip you can just buy one of those programs at the grocery store and easily file your return. For a business the complexity goes up by a factor of about 10. Keeping track of all your business expenses while recording all your revenue requires at least the use of an Excel spreadsheet and preferably some business software like Sage 50 . The Sage software enables you to keep on top of payroll, expenses, and revenue although there is a fairly steep learning curve with the software.

If you are an individual that gets a T4 from a company, then I do recommend tackling the project yourself either with an old fashioned paper return or the $30 software you get at Superstore. If you have a small business, then I would recommend you hire an accountant to this work for you. You can track everything yourself with the spreadsheet or Sage 50 software but get the accountant to file the return for you. There are a lot of things that you could screw up, and unless you want to spend several days or weeks learning about dividends and capital cost allowances, an accountant will be worth the money. Especially if you were to make mistakes for several years and then have to go through an audit - then the mess would just be multiplied.

I spoke to Daniela at Padgett Business Services Calgary and she recommended paying for all of your business expenses on a company credit card and keeping all those receipts. This way there will be no personal items on the credit card and it will be easy to categorize the business expenses for the tax return. She also reiterated that being organized can save you money as well because if you come to her once a year and throw a pile of receipts on her desk, it will cost you a lot more than if you have everything neatly laid out for her. The alternative is of course that you see her regularly and she keeps everything in order on a monthly basis. You can find all kinds of great accounting information at Calgary-accounting.com

They also have an Edmonton accountant at www.edmontonpadgett.com

It is hard to believe we are already into the third week of February and the winter Olympics are almost over. What a great hockey game that was this morning between the Canadian and American women's hockey teams. I thought we were done and would have to settle for the silver, but I kept a little bit of faith and continued watching until Canada scored with about 3 minutes left in the 3rd period. Anyway if you missed it, we tied it up with about a minute or so to go and then went on to win in overtime - great game.

Anyway, I was going to talk about Calgary real estate so here goes. We're in a seller's market with very low levels of inventory. As of today, February 20th, there are only 1015 condos on the market which includes all apartment style condos and townhouses. As for single family homes which includes detached houses and duplexes, there are 1839 homes for sale. So, if you have a good home to sell and price it reasonably, it will sell quickly and possibly with multiple offers. Prices have now recovered or even exceeded the record highs we saw in the last boom in 2006 and 2007.

I spoke to Carmen Paradis of RE/MAX real estate central about some strategies you can use to buy a home in this market. She said the most important thing is to have your financing ready to go and know exactly what you want in a home. You have to be ready to pounce before someone else makes an offer. It is the biggest purchase you will likely ever make but if you find a place that you love, do not wait a few days to think about it. Don't wait until the weekend to go see the new listings, that is when everyone else will be out as well and those people will be making offers. Paradis says go during the week and make an offer as soon as you find your dream home. Chances are that if you love the house, so will a lot of other people and it will likely be gone by the time you pull the trigger on the weekend.

Don't expect things to change any time soon as mortgage rates are still very low, and people are still moving to Calgary in droves. Rental vacancies are very low and monthly rents are very high because of the insatiable demand. As long as the oil industry continues to do well, the real estate market will be active. Prices are increasing, but don't expect huge price increases because people have long memories and remember what happened after the last boom and during the recession. House prices declined significantly and have only recently recovered to their highest levels.

So it is full steam ahead for Calgary's property market for the foreseeable future.