I hope you are enjoying the long, sunny months, and have the chance to really relax and soak in the summer rays during this lovely season.
Summer is a popular time to start looking at new homes ahead of a fall move. We’ve put together a guide of the top 8 things to double check in any house you look at to avoid nasty, costly surprises down the road.
On the more light-hearted side, if you are looking for something to do with family and friends this month, look no further than our guide to the most fun, upbeat events happening around the city – many of them are free! Also, the photo gallery features the coolest and stylish camping tents you can find out there, either for yourself or for family.
No matter what your needs are, we have you covered.
Whether guiding you in the direction of summer fun with our recommendations or helping you buy and sell property, I am at your disposal. Have a friend looking to buy or sell as well? Please keep me in mind. Your referral will be put to good use.
You are probably feeling excited and overwhelmed as you go through the steps in purchasing a new home especially if you are a first-time buyer. Going to an open house and checking out your potential home is an essential step. Don't worry, we have provided a list of potential home pitfalls that you should watch out for.
1. The roof This can be a major source of headaches if there are leaks and costly if there are repairs needed. A newer roof can even mean a lower homeowners insurance rate.
2. Plumbing Don’t forget to check what’s happening underneath your future house. Check the pipes for leaks, damage and mold for both the sake of your health and your wallet.
3. Basement walls Along that same note, when you’re looking down below, check out the state of the basement. The walls can tell you a lot about the state of the house from its foundation to humidity levels.
4. Electronics Bring a phone charger to check that the outlets all work and take a peek at the electrical panel.
5. Take the temperature If it’s unusually warm or cool, that might be a reflection of the insulation. Heating and cooling systems are a must in our climates and expensive to fix.
6. Windows and doors Make sure they all open, close and latch properly – not just entryways but also cupboards and pantries.
7. Check out the land Go beyond the garden and see what kind of natural disasters might have an impact. For example, check if the house is in the flood zone area.
8. Home inspection For full peace of mind before you buy, hire someone to do a comprehensive home inspection from top to bottom.
We want to send a special thank you to the following amazing clients for their recent referrals. Our business depends on it and it's very much appreciated.
Thank you, Simrit Grewal, Sokun Hin, Chetan Jajadiya, Chhaya Pandya, Susie Nguyen, Noel and Carmen Bateman, Luke Crosby, Liberty Padilla, Seelan Naidu, Jennifer Triska
First off, let me wish you a happy and joyful Canada Day! I hope your celebration of our nation are as wonderful as the rest of your summer plans.
Summer is the time of quick getaways, reunions with friends and family, and a chance to explore the path less trodden. If you want to do something close to home, look no further than our list of the hottest, most fun events happening around the city.
For those seeking adventure further away, growing numbers of Canadians are turning to second homes for the summer. A new survey shows that sales of recreational properties such as cabins, lakeside properties and other holiday homes have skyrocketed this year. We’ll explain why and what this means for both British Columbia and Alberta, as well as including some tips about buying recreational property.
Talking about recreational properties, check out our photo feature of unique and beautiful pool patio furniture ideas.
If you or someone who know needs help selling or buying property, please feel free to reach out. It would be my pleasure to assist you.
Who doesn’t dream of a home-away-from-home vacation property on a picturesque lakeside somewhere?
A recent survey shows that sales of recreational property are on the rise across country and the prices are expected to appreciate by nearly six per cent this year, particularly in Alberta and British Columbia. Alberta is leading the way on recreational property purchases, reaching prices of $535,885 on average.
Retirees and baby-boomers are the ones driving up vacation property purchases, flocking to lakes and streams, the seaside and mountaintops, with an eye towards retirement or a secondary home to raise children.
However, a spike down in the recreational property purchases was reported due to the newly introduced speculation taxes in British Columbia.
The tax targets property purchased by those who live primarily outside of the province and second homes, causing many existing homeowners to sell their secondary homes to avoid the steep fees. For instance, although there was an increase in sales in BC, the prices actually decreased by 2.8 per cent to just over $53,000 on average across the province.
The speculation tax also encouraged Albertans, one of largest cohorts of recreational buyers in BC, to look for properties elsewhere — like closer to home in their own province. Regions like Canmore, and west of Calgary in the Rocky Mountains were especially popular this year.
But the speculation tax is only part of the equation. Some areas in B.C., like the Cariboo, saw cabin prices soar by 25 per cent for lakefront properties. This is despite the new taxes and wildfires that devastated the region last summer.
Overall, the fluctuation on recreational homes are down to people’s appetite for certain type of properties and their prices. These trends are expected to continue in the upcoming years.
Summer is here and with the warm weather, many of our worries wash away in the sunshine and more relaxed days.
But there is one thing we shouldn't be lax about — insurance policies for your home. Take a moment to make sure that you are adequately protected in case the unexpected happens. We’ve included an overview of insurance for condo owners, particularly when it comes to special assessments.
On a more light-hearted note, we’ve also included a list of fun and free activities happening around the city this month for when you are looking for something to do. Check out our photo feature of decorative wall planters that are not only functional but stylish as well.
As always, I enjoy providing you with both the information and the support you need to make the right decisions.
If you, your friends or family are looking to buy or sell real estate, I am delighted to help.
Condominiums typically have an overall insurance policy covering the building but it’s nonetheless still important for individual condo owners to look into their own policies. Shared insurance doesn’t cover personal belongings, for example, or other costs that an owner could incur in the case of an emergency.
Insurance is particularly noteworthy when it comes to special assessments, a levy or financial contribution that can be imposed on condo unit owners.
Usually, special assessments and other costs like strata fees are explained and disclosed at the time of purchase. In the case of an emergency though, a special levy can be announced — usually after a strata vote.
This money is collected in instances, for example, where the shared insurance policy doesn’t cover the full cost of the damage and can add up quickly for condo owners.
Loss of assessment coverage can mitigate this.
Types of insurance:
1. Title insurance It’s not unheard of to hear horror stories of condo buyers getting stuck with special assessments after they’ve bought their unit.
Title insurance protects buyers against several risks, including situations like this where special assessments crop up that were not disclosed at the time of purchase.
This kind of insurance covers the condo owners’ portion of any special assessment.
2. Special assessment insurance It’s also possible to get insurance that specifically covers special assessments.
Problems can come up where this is needed, for example, when a condominium corporation faces a crisis where its own insurance policy isn’t sufficient enough to cover the costs and so a levy is collected.
Special assessment insurance covers the owner in this case.
These are just two examples of insurance that can cover an unexpected special assessment. Dozens of other policies exist to cover personal items and other costs, sometimes even moving costs or unexpected living costs.
Other types of condo insurances
Additional living expenses coverage
Improvement and betterments protection
Know how you are covered by your insurance so you can fill in any gaps as needed for full protection and peace of mind.
We want to send a special thank you to the following amazing clients for their recent referrals. Our business depends on it and it's very much appreciated.
Thank you, Ken Quintanilla, Liberty Padilla, Avideh Parent, Chetan Jajadiya.
In this upcoming month, we have Mother’s Day to look forward to and a celebration of all the women in our life. For tech-savvy Moms, check out our photo feature of cool gadgets for women.
This is a great time to appreciate the people around you and spend time with loved ones — and if you’re looking for ideas of what to do, we’ve got you covered with a list of activities happening around the city this month.
We’ve also included the latest market trends and developments in the real estate world, to enlighten and inform you of all that is going on.
They say the best things in life are free and, while that’s definitely true, carrying a load of debt can make those things less pleasant. We talked to a credit advisor and have some advice on how to improve and protect your credit score.
That score will come in handy when getting a mortgage, once you find the perfect house. And if you’re still looking for the perfect home? Please feel free to reach out and I will gladly help you in your search.
Your credit score affects many areas of your life from your spending abilities to your stress levels.
Missing a couple of payments on a credit card can dramatically drop your score, even after years of consistently meeting payment deadlines.
Your credit report tracks your spending history for the past six years and a bad credit (FICO score) makes it nearly impossible to get financing for a home, car, credit card or even cell phone.
So if, for whatever reason, your score has plummeted — there are a few things you can do to repair it.
1. Know your score Finding out your credit score and history is the first step to knowing what went wrong and how to fix it.
You can get a copy from two main credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax (the most highly recognized) and Trans Union. If you send it in by mail, you can receive a copy for free or you can pay for a digital version for the benefit getting it faster.
2. Review your history Make sure that there are no errors. It’s not likely but not impossible either.
Check that no late payments have been erroneously added to your account, all the charges made are accurate and that your payments went through correctly.
3. Start making payments This may be easier said than done but it really is the key to improving your credit score.
Set up a reminder schedule and make sure you are paying off your debt bit by bit each month — and on time. If you want, you can set up payment reminders or automatic withdrawals.
The general rule is to keep debt within 65% of your credit limit. When it comes to paying off debt, start with the one with the highest interest rate first.
It may seem overwhelming but, chunk by chunk, it is possible to pay off debt if you stay consistent with it.
4. Avoid more debt Be aware of the credit limit on your card and don’t go over that limit. Also keep in mind that having too many credit cards, especially newly open accounts, can also negatively impact your rating.
5. Pay off debt as soon as possible Although it seems strange to go into debt to pay off debt, and contrary to the previous step, sometimes taking out a loan or borrowing money is the best way to save your credit score.
Balance what the interest looks like, how quickly you can pay it off and whether a loan will ease your credit history.
Sometimes, borrowing money with a low interest rate can help pay off high-interest credit card debt. Repaying debt on a credit card will help speed repairs to your credit history.
6. Take the initiative Check your credit at least a few months before you need to make a big purchase or re-finance something so you have time to improve your score if needed. This will help give you the best interest rates when you most need them.
Lenders make a lot of their financing decisions by looking at your history. If you pay off debt the day before, you score and reputation is much less credible.
If you absolutely cannot make the minimum payment on your card, consider calling the lender and explaining the situation.
They may have advice or ways to help you; people often look favourably at those who reach out with honesty and initiative and are therefore more willing to help in return.
7. Protect your credit score If you have bad credit, don’t panic — it’s easy enough to repair it by paying off the highest interest rates first and being consistent with debt management.
If you have good credit, make sure you protect it — set up payment reminders and don’t fall into debt if you can avoid it.
Keep old accounts, even if you are not using them very often, and don’t open too many accounts too soon because the age of an account positively impacts your score. Use fraud alert services and be careful of who you give your information to in order to avoid identify theft.
We want to send a special thank you to the following amazing clients for their recent referrals. Our business depends on it and it's very much appreciated.
Thank you, Chhaya Pandya, Terra and Bryan Cameron, Hugh and Jill Willis.
David Bier Buyer's Choice Home Inspections www.abuyerschoice.com 780-868-2796
Signs of spring are finally peeking around the corner with cherry blossoms coming out and the sounds of birds singing in the morning to be heard again.
If changing the look of your home is on your to-do list this season, why not try painting the rooms of the house first? If you are stuck for colours, look no further than our guide to the hottest paint trends of 2018.
We’ve also included an update on recent developments in the local real estate market and a look at what is happening in the major cities around the country.
On a more fun side, check our list of activities that are happening around the city – many of them are spring-related and a great way to get into the groove of the warmer temperatures.
If you, your friends or family are looking to buy or sell real estate, please keep me in mind. I am happy to answer any questions and look forward to guiding you on your housing search.
Calgary Prices in Calgary have remained constant but the rate of turnover has fallen slightly this past month — sales were about 18 per cent lower compared to this time last year. The new listings in part played a role in keeping prices steady.
The average home sold for $502k this past month and there have been 3,240 new listings since this time last month while 874 homes have sold. Homes are spending an average of 38 days on the market before being sold.
Vancouver Home buyers were less active than usual last month and home sales dipped to a historic low in February, compared to previous years — there was a nine per cent decrease compared to February 2017.
The average home sold for $1.2 million this past month and there have been 1,350 new listings since this time last month while 612 homes have sold.
Toronto Growth has continued to pick up as we move into the spring market and selling prices are expected to follow suit soon.
More than 4,400 homes have been listed in the past month on the Toronto market and a whopping 2,531 sold in that same time period. Homes are spending an average of 17 days on the market, far below the average in other cities like Vancouver or Calgary. The average home is being sold for $850K.
A rose by another name wouldn’t smell as sweet, as the old adage goes, and the same can be said about homes. A wall by any other colour just wouldn’t suffice.
Choose the right shade for your brush can be tricky, and like anything in life, paints go through ups and downs of popularity from the burgundy oranges of the ‘70s to the darker tones of the ‘90s.
In order to decide on the most up-and-coming colours, experts delve into what’s popular in the world of fashion, arts, pop culture, and even the automotive industry to create a palate of popular paints.
Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization providing unbiased product ratings and reviews, took a look ahead at the hottest colours of 2018 to paint a home.
Using their research, we’ve compiled a list of the top five trends of paint for your home this year:
Caliente (AF-290) A vivid, lively red that creates impressions of strength and character. Some might find it too bold for an entire room but it’s the perfect shade for details — a door, a trimming or a window frame. Reds work especially well in the kitchen.
Oceanside (SW6496) If you can’t escape to the seaside, why not bring the vibe of the sea to you? This mysterious blue hue, with a touch of green, will bring to mind images of mermaids and seashells. Works particularly well in a bedroom or bathroom, combined with creams or whites.
In The Moment (T18-15) A much more subtle shade of blue-green, this colour is both calming and restorative. Slightly paler than a mint green, it can be used to paint an entire room to open it up and give a feeling of more space.
Honeycomb (HGSW2133) A rich golden yellow that is halfway between sunshine and egg yolk, this colour is energetic and cheerful. It’s best used to accent an otherwise plain room or as a backdrop to a wall that is otherwise covered behind shelves or plants.
River Rapids (29B-3) A sea foam green that lightens up a room while not being overwhelming. Perfect for a living room that has either cream-coloured or deep, dark furniture. It adds a touch of sophistication to any room.
We want to send a special thank you to Joe and Jesslyn Michel and Chhaya Pandya for their recent referrals. Our business depends on people just like them and it is extremely appreciated!
The sounds and smells of spring are just around the corner — March 20 and spring will have sprung once again.
We are all familiar with the idea of spring-cleaning but why not take it one step further with spring-fixing.
Spring is a great season to tackle some home-improvement projects. We’ve got some suggestions of projects to tackle that will not only improve the aesthetics of your home, but will also increase the value without breaking the bank.
Also in this month’s newsletter, we’ve included the latest market report and some news explainers to keep you up to date on all that is going on.
Although the weather might not seem quite warm enough to want to leave home just yet, we’ve got a list of events that will encourage you to get out and explore the city.
If you, your friends or family are looking to buy or sell real estate please keep me in mind. I am happy to answer any questions and look forward to guiding you on housing search.
This month, for the first time since 2001, a NDP government delivered a budget to British Columbians for the coming year.
The name of the game in the new budget is affordability — huge investments were promised in everything from childcare to healthcare to housing.
With pledges of money, though, comes a need to generate revenue to fund it. With that came a plethora of new regulations and taxes in the property market, outlined the budget.
The main take-aways for real estate in B.C. are:
1. Speculation Tax This new annual tax will apply to foreign and domestic property owners who are not residents of B.C.
Some exemptions may be made for principal residences or long-term rental properties but it will include properties that are left vacant.
The tax will be introduced this fall and apply initially apply to homes in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and some other capital regional districts like Victoria, Nanaimo, and Kelowna.
It will start at tax rate of 0.5 per cent of the assessed value in 2018 and increase to 2 per cent of assessed value next year.
2. Enhanced Foreign Buyers Tax Starting this month, the previously-introduced foreign buyers tax will be increased from 15 per cent to 20 per cent. It will extend to other areas across the province and no longer cover just Metro Vancouver.
3. Property Transfer Tax on Homes Above $3M An additional 2 per cent property transfer tax will be applied to homes above $3 million, on top of the previous transfer taxes.
4. Pre-sale Condos The government will be cracking down on the pre-sale condo market, requiring developers to collect and report comprehensive information and building build a database on pre-sale condo assignments.
5. First Time Buyer Program Details have not been finalized but the previous home partnership loan that matched first-time buyers with down payments up to 5 per cent will be replaced with a different program to support the development of affordable housing options.
6. Affordable Housing The province promised $6 billion over the next decade to build 114,000 affordable homes units including modular, student and social housing.
1. Doors and Windows The cost of a new door is almost entirely recouped when it comes to selling and greatly improves both look and security. A steel door costs an average of $1,162 and would recoup nearly 97 per cent of that cost, according to a survey by Cost vs. Value Report.
The same is true for windows. Dual pane windows in particular are popular and, in addition to improving attractiveness, can cut heating costs in the winter.
2. Landscaping With warmer weather come fresh flowers and plenty of yard work. “Curb appeal” is hugely important when it comes to selling. Use your garden’s size and dimensions to your advantage — cutting back overgrown bushes and planting a delicate perimeter of flowers can do wonders for a small garden. Even for large gardens though, don’t overcrowd it.
3. Kitchen Remodel This is a costlier upgrade than some of the others but one that will spike your home’s value. Kitchens are one of the rooms that can most obviously date a house and one of the biggest selling points for a prospective buyer.
If major renovations are not on your to-do list, consider smaller upgrades: new appliances, a fresh coat of paint on the cupboards or more storage space.
4. Bathroom Remodel Similar to the kitchen, bathroom remodelling is an extremely valuable project albeit it can be costly. New fixtures, shelving and shower head are easy additions that can quickly improve the look. Fresh paint and fixing any water-stained marks are also must-dos.
5. Paint and Other Small Tasks Small hardware changes – burnt out light bulbs, broken cabinet fixtures, squeaky cupboards and leaks are all little fixes that don’t take long but make all the difference.
A fresh coat of paint, particularly in a neutral colour like cream or pale yellow, can immediately brighten a room and make a home appear much more current.
In order to assess the value of the property, a number of key factors such as location, size, land surface, age and condition of the building are taken into consideration.
A large increase in property assessments does not always translate into a corresponding increase in property taxes, however. It also takes into account changes relative to your community.
Property taxes in Edmonton make up about half of all revenue that the City receives.
It helps fund essential services like police, fire fighting and emergency rescue. They also support community programs, recreation centres, public libraries, parks and much more.
Property taxes bills arrive in May and must be paid by June 30.
They can be paid in multiple ways; in person, online banking, credit card or cheque. You can set up a Property Tax Monthly Payment Plan to avoid paying them all at once.
Assessments can be appealed up through a customer review period until March 12, 2018. A complaint can be made online or in person about property assessment, but you cannot appeal your property tax bill.
From smart watches to smart kettles, technology is entering homes at the speed of light.
One of the biggest home technology trends for 2018 is that devices now provide many uses — just one function won’t cut it anymore.
A new voice activated mirror recently came out that changes the lighting, tells you the weather and plays music as you get ready. There’s a door alert system that not only provides lighting but also extends the home’s wifi.
Part of it is an issue of space and availability of outlets — why buy an item that only does one thing when the same sized device does many functions?
Home security is a key example of how technology in the home is taking off.
Many of the security systems on offer are fully integrated and often include functions that are not typically associated with home safety like lighting and doorbell ring tones.
Almost all the systems now include an option to lock and unlock doors and keep an eye on the situation remotely via wifi. Technology is not always cheap but when used right can help you save money in the long run.
For example, monitoring devices can help curb energy use because it gives you real-time data. Smart thermostats and lighting systems, which are programmable, can also help save money by only using energy when you need it.
Simple safety improvements like smart thermostats, smart fire detectors and smart carbon monoxide detectors are a bonus when selling a home too.
A survey by Smart Home Marketplace recently found that 70 per cent of homebuyers want these kinds of features in a home and so a few inexpensive touches can really make it stand out to buyers.
Family Day is a special opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with your loved ones. As Edmontonians, we are lucky to live in a place where so many festivities are held to celebrate this special day! And...
Valentines Day is only a week away! If you're on a budget, or are looking to create something extra special for your loved one this year, these adorable DIY cards are just what you need! These tutorials...
Winter is coming and, as statistics show, Canadians spent between 80 to 90 per cent of their time indoors during the colder months.
This means that it is hugely important to consider the health of your home – from air quality to lighting – to make sure that you and your family are as healthy as possible. We have some advice on what to look for.
And speaking of what to look for — check out our lists of upcoming events around the city to look out for! Many of them are free, family-friendly and fun, making it a great excuse to get out of the house.
To keep you up-to-date in the world of real estate, we’ve happily included the latest market report, in an easily digestible infographic form, and a news brief explainer on the new mortgage qualification rules.
No matter what your needs are, we have you covered. Whether guiding you towards a healthier, happier home or helping you buy the perfect house, I am here for you and happy to help you, or a friend, in a real estate journey.
Bustling winds, rainy days, and stormy nights are now solidly upon us with few hints left of warmer times left.
Do not despair, with the shift of seasons comes a chance for change for both you and your home. Take the right steps for you and your family to be happy and well.
Spring-cleaning is an old adage but don’t wait till next year.
Now is the time to vacuum, dust and sweep up dust bunnies and cobwebs.
Thoroughly check for moisture spots and moulds—certain strains, like black mould, can be deadly.
Consider purchasing an air filter for improved quality.
A lack of sunshine and light during the winter can cause SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Proper lighting and vitamin D supplements can help mitigate the symptoms, however.
Sunlight lamps produce a glow similar to the sun and, in addition to helping with the winter blues, can feel more calm and natural that harsh light.
Consider switching to LED lights to lower electricity costs.
Tri-coloured bulb – with each flick of a switch, the bulb casts a different tone and it’s a great way to control the lighting without buying multiple lamps.
Air fresheners, though pleasant smelling, often contain harmful chemicals that can cause lung disease and aggravate allergies. Switch to natural, biological fresheners.
If you don’t recognize the long list of ingredients on your cleaning products, consider switching to something more natural. Eco-friendly choices are good for you, your home and the environment.
What’s in your laundry detergent and soap? Some chemicals can dry skin and damage clothes. Biological keeps you just as clean without the harshness.
Even more important than health consciousness, basic safety measures can be life-saving. Do not skimp or skip on this front.
Check that your fire alarm works and you have a fire extinguisher close at hand and easy to locate in an emergency.
Make sure there are carbon monoxide detectors working and placed around your home, especially in bedrooms.
Have an earthquake preparedness kit at hand and an evacuation plan ready – know with certainty where you will seek shelter if the earth starts shaking.
Qualifying for a mortgage has never been a breeze and it’s about to get much harder.
In mid-October, the federal government announced changes to mortgage qualification rules and a more stringent “stress test” for uninsured mortgages for those with a 20 per cent or higher down payment.
The biggest impact these changes will have is on purchasing power and housing affordability. Rate Hub, a rate comparison website, looked at two different financial scenarios to compared what a family could afford to buy before and after the new rules.
Before the changes, a buyer could borrow roughly the equivalent of seven times their yearly income. With the new rules, that has been reduced to slightly more than five times their yearly income.
In practice, the new rules means that homebuyers have had their buying power slashed by about 20 per cent.
The latest stress test comes after several other rule changes this year in the real estate market that have been met with equal criticism. Earlier this fall, borrowers with less than 20 per cent down payments were affected and, now, the focus has turned to those with 20 per cent or more down payment.
The idea, regulators explain, is to help protect banks and ensure that everyone – no matter how much money they’ve initially put down – have to undergo a stress test before borrowing.
Banks are competitive and, to drive business, do not want to offer below-market rates and mortgages if other banks are doing so. By making it a federal regulation, it means that all banks have to be on board – levelling the playing field and reducing risks from uninsured mortgages all around.
For homebuyers, however, it means that some properties are now out of financial reach which brings up all sorts of issues of housing affordability because people will no longer qualify to borrow as much money as previously.
Experts say that the new measure will hit the real estate market like a sledgehammer by driving down prices. Others believe it is a good change and will equalize the market over time.
The changes come into effect on January 1, 2018.
We want to send a special thank you to Jan Nilsson and Sam Gervais for their recent referrals. Our business depends on people just like them and it is extremely appreciated!