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Tips for Moving in the Winter

It’s December in Calgary, and if you’re familiar at all with the weather patterns here, you’ll notice that there really aren’t any. It could snow in July, in fact, it has. Aside from Calgary’s unpredictable weather change, which pays its dues through warm Chinook winds in the middle of January, moving in the snowy months can be a challenge. And if it happens to dump snow around the time of your big move, here are 5 things you should keep in mind!
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How will Smart Homes make your life easier?

Written by: Ana Bera, our guest writer from Toronto, born world traveler, hungry for knowledge and ready to make a difference in the marketing world.

Think about it. We can name any part of modern day society, and we will probably find something that was invented to automate it. We love to make things faster, simpler and cheaper. But how will smart homes make life easier?

An Unusual Hand of Help

The average person living in the western world has become completely consumed with tons of small things. They are caught up in a busy work schedule. They try to juggle family life, bills, home admin, and making a home livable. But, in recent years, smart homes have risen to the occasion to lend a helping hand (or robotic arm rather).

It has many different applications and possibilities to save you time. As the old saying goes – time does, in fact, equal money, but it has many ways of physically saving you money as well.

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An Unconventional New Addition To Our Team

Yes, we have been an all-ladies team for many years. Then one day I met Sam.

His work ethic seemed spot on, his mind seemed sharp. I was looking to hire someone to keep my personal life together. To assist me with some of the things in my life that get left behind because having a career, raising daughters and being a wife takes centre stage. I realize he could not go to my doctor’s appointment or run hills for me, but I could use some help with all the other smaller yet important tasks that life brings you. Continue reading

In The Neighbourhood Know

One of the most powerful pieces you can have in your seller’s arsenal is extensive knowledge of your neighbourhood’s amenities. Think of it as setting up your property for a blind date: you want to highlight desirable aspects about your community. That’s where your REALTOR® comes in – to help guide the process to identify common interests with interested buyers and pique their curiosity.

In Calgary, transportation is always an important issue so be sure to cover multiple options. What’s the best route to major arteries like Deerfoot, Crowchild or Glenmore? How many minutes to downtown? Or, if you enjoy a weekend drive, what’s the perfect passage to the Rockies or the Foothills? Beyond cars, be sure to mention what you can reach by bike. Calgary’s network of bike pathways is extensive, and cycling enthusiasts of all-ages can enjoy a little pedal power at Prince’s Island Park, Glenmore Reservoir, Eau Claire along the Bow River pathways! Finally, what best-kept secrets are within walking distance? Paths can be a great for a leisurely evening walk or a brisk morning run.

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Five Luxury Home Trends with the Wow Factor!

Whether you’re thinking of relocating or renovating, I recommend my clients keep an eye on these five luxury home trends to impress potential buyers, guests or themselves!

1. Smart Home Technology


 

From lighting, heating, to security and even appliances, not only does Smart Home Technology make your home smarter, it can also make your life easier! 

Thermostats and lighting will adapt to your preferences. Being able to access your home’s status from a phone or tablet will give you peace-of-mind while on vacation.

2. Gourmet Kitchens

 

The focal point of every family’s home – the kitchen – is a key element in the home buying experience! Larger kitchens accommodate both family and guests for easy, central entertaining on weekends or during holiday gatherings.
Kitchen islands have increased in size and now feature outlets, charging stations and even additional sinks or pot-fillers. Choices for countertops include marble, quartz, or wood in a wide variety of colours such as blues, greens, greys and even black.
Add a personal touch with handmade tiles for your backsplash which are available in a wide range of glazes, surfaces, shapes and colours. Finally, indulge your creative side with metal accents throughout the kitchen! Accent bands, tile inlays, and even cabinetry hardware can add a timeless element while easily matching designs and appliances.

3. Farmhouse Décor 

 

While this warm, simple style has been around for ages, it’s blooming again thanks to TV shows like Fixer Upper and is especially a great fit for fans of Alberta’s Western spirit. 

Look for materials and accessories that have been “upcycled” like rustic signage and vintage lighting. Farmhouse or trough sinks – in porcelain, stainless steel, and copper – are a great alternative to replace the traditional white sink.

4. Bold Colours

 

Embrace vivid colours to add an accent to a wall or add some panache to an entire room! Make a statement with yellows, greens, or blues – or make things pop with shades of rose or lavender. If you’re not quite ready to change the wall colour, you can always swap out rugs, pillows and accessories to highlight the new colour scheme in your home!

5. Wide-Plank Flooring

 

Rustic elements bring not only more authenticity, but also a greater degree of comfort and coziness. Wide-plank flooring made from materials like recycled wood in natural or light colours are gaining in popularity and make for a warm welcome for prospective home buyers on a tour!

Which luxury home trends are at the top of your must-have list?

Connect with me today, about your real estate needs for tomorrow. 

 

 

Living Locally

Living locally speaks to my heart. I love my city, my community, and I am passionate about supporting local businesses.

The great thing about living locally is the opportunities to connect with your neighbours, expand your network and enjoy your community. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Read the local papers, especially the papers for your community.
  • Check bulletin boards in community centers or laundromats for events.
  • Join the chamber of commerce. This is a great way to make business connections.
  • Create or join Facebook groups.
  • Join Meetup.com This site encourages local meetings and building community. One man used it to build a group of hundreds of members in his neighbourhood.
  • Go to local festivals.
  • Eat at small cafés.
  • Get out for a walk and enjoy the many paths around the city.
  • Did you know that most communities have garden plots that you can rent for 35-60 dollars per season? My mother-in-law rents one every year and we plant and harvest the vegetables with our children. It’s a family event and tasty!
  • Every neighbourhood has a community association with a small fee yearly to be a part of it. Marda Loop has a yearly festival call Mardi Gras that I support.
  • The Indulge fundraiser in South Calgary has grown every year. It’s a lot of fun. and I always run into many people, even outside the community. Local businesses support the event by offering food, wine, beer and door prizes.
  • During elections, people line up outside or schools or community associations. Some run in and out so fast they don’t appreciate what may be around them.
  • I love to shop! From Purr and Purr Petite for kids, to Robert Sweep for home accessories and linens. Kala and Lime in Aspen is a fabulous gift store which supports many local artists. For sportswear, in Britannia Plaza I love Hemm Active Fashion.
  • Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to eat (thank goodness I don’t drink, I would be a house). Some of my favorite local eateries in Calgary are Aida’s, Seed & Salt, Native Tongues and the Lady Bug Cafe.

My husband often tells me that the reason we know so many people is because I take the time to get to know those around me. We have block parties, watch each other’s homes and enjoy each other company.

If you take the time to talk to people and ask a few questions, you could develop and nurture many friendships in your community. Living locally speaks to my heart and warms my soul. Interacting with local businesses and spending time in the parks gives me a lot of happiness.

How do you live locally?

8 Real Estate Trends for 2018

1. Say goodbye to closed offices. The shared (and trendy) workspace is in. Expect high ceilings, open brickwork, stylish coffee machines, and comfy couches. Agents want to share, learn, and talk about market trends and political environments.

2. Retail below and condos above. This concept has been around for a while, though some builders are ramping it up. With this style of living, your latte, dog sitting, and banks will all be within walking distance.

3. More Condos: These are popular due to low price, convenience, and life in the city center. Condo location can reduce the walk to different amenities and, if driving is involved shorter distances. Condos are popular with college students and seniors alike.

4. AirBnb: This is a great way to save money for short-term rentals and if you travel a lot. Prices can be lower than renting, in some cases. There are no deposits, or extra charges for utilities and the renter can move around as necessary. Also, the renter can arrange for a lower price if they intend to stay in the area for many months.

Home owners can use websites such as VRBO for short-term rentals and reap the benefits.

5. Moving momma. As baby boomers age, many are downsizing. In some cases, the reason is declining funds and they need to find more affordable places to live. Real estate agents need to have more options to meet their needs.

6. More Technology: New condos and houses need to offer more gadgets and Internet. Preinstalled automation is important. Consider including security, smart gadgets, computerized fridges, stoves, light, and HVAC systems.

7. Micro Units: Faced with a shortage of housing some apartments could be as small as 200 square feet. Apartment dwellers must get creative when it comes to space. It’s necessary to use murphy beds, overhead storage, micro kitchens, etc.

8. Interest rates and the financial stress test. The government states for every dollar a Canadian makes we spend $1.69. Since we cannot manage our debt they want to manage it for us. This means you must qualify at a higher interest rate (known as a stress test). The stress test ensures you can afford your mortgage if the rates go up.

The government wants to make sure that what happened in 2008 in the United States does not happen in Canada. We have already seen interest rate hikes occur this year. They may be rising again, due to the stronger Canadian economy.

Helping Mom or Dad Transition into Assisted Living

This week I heard Jann Arden give an interview on T.V.  that wasn’t one of her usual comical debuts. She was serious and contemplative as she disclosed her experience with her dad passing two years ago and then her mom being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

In her new book “Feeding My Mother” Jann shares tasteful and sometimes humorous reflections on how this has changed her – for the better! Learning just to appreciate her mom when she is cognitive and allowing her to tell the same stories over and over without being embarrassed was cathartic. However, performing all over the country involves the inevitable travel and Jann can’t be taking care of her mom consistently. That takes help from professionals – which prompted this blog.

I have had occasion, where clients come to me needing help when the time comes to relocate mom or dad into assisted care. I thought I would offer my two cents on some things to know here in Calgary when it is time to make alternative living arrangements for your parents or loved ones.

For some, the option of buying a home with a ‘mother-in-law’ suite is the ideal answer. What may have been used as Nanny quarters when children were young, can usually be easily converted into a suite for aging parents so that they are close-by while maintaining some independence.

Some communities in Calgary offer properties with ‘Carriage Homes’ which is the development of a small bachelor suite above a detached garage. If zoning allows, this can be another option if parents do not require medical support.

There are two options for professional care; either publicly funded or private. If your parents are on a low income and/or having serious medical challenges, their Doctor will be involved with instigating the alternative care process with family. In the public sector there can be wait times up to two years, and although there is government assistance, the senior still must pay for their level of service, either with their pension or savings. On the Canadian Government website, the average cost of a bachelor unit that includes one meal a day is $2,210.00/month.

When the privately-owned facility, Maison Senior Living, was being built on Elbow drive I stopped in during construction and was told that the average age adults move into residence is 88 years, however, they have seniors in their 70’s moving in! This private facility has occasional wait lists but the waits so far, have not been too long. With private care there can be all sorts of variables such as professional chefs, customized activities, group outings, movie nights, even beauty salons. However, for a private care facility you will be responsible for the total costs which begin at double the cost of public care centres.

I know from personal experiences that some facilities (public or private) cannot care for seniors should they become in serious need of increased medical services, where others may offer palliative & hospice care in-house which means not having to inconvenience an already suffering adult.

As with all changes and challenges in life, knowledge is key. Unfortunately, we are so often busy and consumed with family and work, we don’t think to research our options until forced to because of an untimely health diagnoses or accident.

Please have the difficult conversations with your parents to learn what their wishes would be and what options are available, so that if the time comes to transition it has been thought out and planned to the best of everyone’s ability. You will be thankful that you did!

If you would like more information connect with me anytime~

How to Have it All – Behind the Curtain of a Boss Babe!

I have always been very open about building and running my business and I feel it is part of my role to help mentor others who are trying to start their own success in the real estate industry.

My phone rings about once a week, from other REALTORS®  asking how I do it? Well, I will tell you!

I work my butt off! I started like everyone else, trying any idea that I could think of. I cold called people out of the white pages (boy, I am dating myself!), I knocked on doors, I advertised, I built a website.

It has been an evolution over seventeen years of driving my business towards success – first in my mind, and then in the real world. Yes, I have made mistakes, trusted the wrong people, spent money on things that didn’t work, but I have also had good luck, timely opportunities (like when a new lead emails you out of the blue and buys a property you have listed), and amazing support!

Three key points I would advise anyone looking to have a break-through as a real estate agent, would be these:

1. Always reach beyond your capabilities- then you will challenge yourself to grow.

2. Hire a business coach, seek out mentors, ask for advise so you can fast-track your results.

3. Surround yourself with support! I have a team in my office that has my back and helps build the business and fill in for my shortfalls and time limitations. My amazing husband, Chad, provides an entrepreneurial sounding board from another industry that gives me a big picture view. Our nanny, Zen, has been a God-send in the care of our two girls so that I can rest assured they are in the best hands when I am away from home. And my clients are connectors and openly send their contacts straight to me when they hear those two special words ‘real estate’!

How do I Sell an Estate Property?

When the hard times land in your lap and your family is tasked with the sale of a loved one’s cherished property, there are a few important things to know. I hope this article is clear and answers your questions. If you have anything additional that you would like professional advice on, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly any time.

Family and Executors. It is good to know how many decision makers will be part of the process – even if there is only one official Executor. Sometimes the process can be more lengthy and complicated if there are several active parties. Decisions must be agreed upon, documents must be signed, and time is often of the essence when dealing with real estate. For smooth transactions, ideally, there would be one Executor who is able to make decisions on behalf of everyone involved.

Should we renovate? Often times, estate properties are sold for land value or to have a significant renovation done. Therefore, investing a lot of money in renovations or updating would most likely not be the best return. The most important thing to help a timely sale will be to ensure the property is clean and all the debris and personal items have been removed.

What is Probate? Probate is a judicial process in which a will is provided to the courts as a valid public document regarding the deceased’s last true testament.

Ensure probate has been granted and there is an Executor as point of contact for the transaction. This will assist in an easier sale once you have come to an agreement on price and terms with a purchaser. If probate has not been granted, there will have to be a condition added to any sale document to allow time for probate to be granted and this can deter a purchaser from writing if they have to wait to long for their offer to be considered or approved.

It is important to contact a REALTOR® to understand the value of the property and the processes in selling. Many times, families dealing with estates may not have an understanding of the property’s current value. City tax assessments are not realistic indicators of market value!

As a professional REALTOR® I am able to do in depth research and I also have access to service providers that assist in dealing with estate homes and preparing them for sale.