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5 Things to Consider Before Buying your First Home

You’re landlord didn’t get back to you on the leak coming from your washer. You’re tired of paying someone else’s mortgage with zero return. You want a dog, because who doesn’t, but you have no room or your rental doesn’t allow pets. Let’s get you a house! Apart from crunching your numbers and figuring out the financial side of things, I’ve curated a list of 5 major points to consider before buying your first home in 2019.

Let’s talk goals so we don’t waste our time. When investing in a home, it’s important to think about where you see yourself in at least 5 years. Are you single? Do you have future wedding plans? Maybe you’re thinking about having more children or adopting some furry friends.

We know there can be some gorgeous homes on the market that have you visualizing what life would look like in that kitchen, or all the summer BBQ’s you can be hosting, however the reality of that is sometimes those homes may be out of your budget.

Considering a fixer-upper scares people away, but in reality it’s not a bad option. Not only will you be saving on your house as a whole, but you can take the extra money and add in your own personal touches to your home. Plus, a bonus is that you get to connect with your home on a more emotional level than if you bought something someone else designed.

This one ties in closely with your 5 year plan. Think about your lifestyle – do you work downtown? How long do you want your work commute to be? Do you need lots of space? What amenities are important to you? Will your lifestyle change in the next couple years? These are important questions to consider, as there is a likelihood that your life will look a lot different in even just a year. Think about your lifestyle!

I cannot stress this point enough, as it is easy to confuse your wants versus your needs. Let’s narrow it down. Wants are, types of flooring, bay windows, skylights, a jacuzzi or a pool. Needs are, adequate square footage, sufficient number of bedrooms and bathrooms for your family, and easy access to your everyday routes. This does not mean that you should dismiss your goals to change out the flooring or add a pool, it just means that it may not be a priority when house shopping for the first time.

There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to shopping for real estate, it is a process that requires a ton of patience. Seldomly do things fall together right away. Keep yourself open to experience as a whole. On average it could take anywhere from 1 to 2 months, and in some cases, 3 years. Yes, finding that perfect home will be exciting, but unless it’s a brand-new home, chances are there will be hiccups with in it as well. And if it isn’t a deal breaker, sometimes bad news can help with negotiating price – stay optimistic!

Once you’ve been preapproved for a mortgage, found a trusted realtor, and considered all the lawyer fees, moving costs and home inspection – ask your realtor to sign you up on an automatic email program so you can receive listings, that fit your criteria, the minute they come in. If your current rental price includes utilities, it may not be a bad idea to map out what those will look like on their own as well, so you can get an idea. The process in finding a new home takes time, that’s why it is important to consider things closely, owning your own home comes with so many added benefits, let this process take its time so it’s all worth it in the end.

What’s in my Bag!

It goes without saying that looking through someone’s bag without their permission is a big privacy breach. You just never know what they can be keeping. Which got me thinking, what are people carrying in their bags? Because my bag travels with me everywhere I go and I take things with me that I basically cannot go without. And I’m here to share them with you.

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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~