First impressions matter. Because of the choice that a buyer has, in the marketplace, a buyer’s first method of exclusion is based on a first impression. However, buyer’s can be doing themselves a disservice if they are excluding potential homes based solely on a first impression and sellers are definitely doing themselves a disservice if they are not showing their home in the best light. Here is an abbreviated list of improvements that a seller can make to easily improve the overall curb appeal of their home:rnrn1. Make sure that lawn is kept mowed and in good condition and remove snow from walkways in the winter. This may seem obvious but I see houses for sale, with unkept yards and slippery side walks all the time.rnrn2. Touch up any wear or fade on the exterior of the home or the fence or out buildings.rnrn3. Fix any broken exterior structures/objects such as eaves-troughs, screens, fences, latches, gates, exterior lights, etc…. I could go on for several paragraphs about this one but I believe you get the idea.rnrn4. Trim trees and bushes for a nice clean look.rnrn5. Clear gardens and planting beds of any weeds.rnrn6. Fix or update blinds and drapery.rnrn7. De-clutter – this means that children’s toys and tools must be placed neatly in sheds and storage areas.rnrn8. Pick up any and all dog feces from your yard.rnrnAgain, this list is highly abbreviated but it can give you an idea of what to look for. And, keep in mind that a buyer is much less likely to put an offer in on the home or even continue viewing the home at all if he/she has witnessed an overgrown yard, navigated through a jungle of toys and tools, tripped over an uneven sidewalk and struggled to get through the broken front door before even getting to the interior.
I like to think of myself as a tech-forward real estate agent who likes to try to engage my clients and potential clients in new, interesting and beneficial ways. However, the Twitter wave swept by, leaving me puzzled as to the benefits of using this Web 2.0 format. Questions came to mind like: why would I want people to know what I’m doing in my waking hours? and why would I want to let people know when I’m at a listing appointment or meeting new buyers? I would not describe my recent turnabout as a plunge into this brave new twittering world but I have started to ‘tweet’. While I do not fully understand its potential as a communication medium, I am satisfied that Twitter is an unknown quantity to me but that others, including my clients, realize the benefits. So, if you are interested, you can now follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MirandaC21.
The recovery in the Canadian real estate continued in June, spreading to 70 percent of markets. In Calgary, seasonally adjusted sales were up 25 percent, ranking ahead of other major markets including, Edmonton, Toronto and others. Most economists and industry experts are singing a common tune; the worst of the downturn in the Canadian real estate market is over. The Canadian real estate market has now seen four straight months of growth and a 16% increase in the average home cost. The most desirable properties appear to be those under $600,000, with buyers who were previously priced out of the market scooping up deals and locking in at record low interest rates.
A home-owner can be green and save money at the same time. Being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to hurt the pocketbook. There are a number of different improvements that a homeowner can make to their home that can make that home more environmentally friendly and save money. Here are some ideas for home owners:rnrn1. Whether it is summer or winter, a programmable thermostat can save a homeowner hundreds of dollars a year. Heating or cooling an unoccupied home is a waste of energy and money. By installing a programmable thermostat, the house will only be heated and/or cooled when the home is occupied; thus saving money and the environment (through lower power usage).rnrn2. Hot water on demand is becoming a popular and economical way to heat water in our homes. Hot water on demand works by heating water only when needed; thus reducing the need to heat water 24hrs a day, 7 days a week for the few times a day that it is needed. For households that use less than 41 gallons of hot water per day, a hot water on demand system can save 24%-32%. Since a hot water tank can cost as much as $300/year, that’s a minimum savings of $75. And, since less energy is being used, the environment also benefits.rnrn3. Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs. CFLs can save as much as $30 per light bulb each year and they can last as much as 15 times longer. Again, using less energy is less taxing on our environment.rnrnHomeowners can also turn computers off when not in use, fix leaky toilets and faucets, replace old appliances with energy star appliances, and replace shower heads with low-flow alternatives all in an effort to save energy, water and money; all of which will benefit our environment.
A rent-to-own is a very specialized type of real estate agreement. For people who cannot obtain conventional financing, in the form of a mortgage, a rent-to-own agreement may be the only option to own a home. With any rent-to-own agreement, it is important that all the parties have their own competent real estate lawyers. Basically, a rent to own agreement works like this:rnrn1. An agreed upon rent is paid monthly, by the buyer. A portion of this rent is income for the seller and a portion is put towards a down payment if the option to purchase is exercised by the buyers.rnrn2. The rent-to-own agreement usually has an expiry of between 2 to 5 years.rnrn3. If the option to purchase is not exercised by the buyers, before the expiry date, the seller keeps all of the rent paid to that point and the seller can then sell the property to anybody.rnrn4. During the period of the agreement, the seller cannot sell the property to anybody else.rnrn5. The seller remains on title for the duration of the agreement, until the property is purchased.rnrn6. The purchase price may be agreed upon at the commencement of the agreement or both parties may agree upon a purchase price based on the market value when the option to purchase is exercised.rnrnThe disadvantage for the buyer is that the buyer will usually end up paying more for the property then if the buyer were to purchase the property by conventional means, from the outset. However, the advantage for the buyer is that he/she/they are able to eventually own their own home. The disadvantage for the seller is that if another buyer offers to purchase the property for more money, after the rent-to-own agreement is signed, the seller will not be able to sell the property. The advantage for the seller is that the seller is able to secure a possible sale of the property, in a challenging real estate market, where a conventional sale may be difficult or impossible for the purchase price desired. For more detailed information about a rent-to-own agreements, please consult a competent real estate lawyer.
With an eye to the future, the City of Calgary is developing a plan to have more Calgarians living in mixed and mulit-unit dwellings. Calgary’s current development strategy is no longer viable with increasing traffic congestion and energy and utility delivery costs. Currently, Calgary’s population density (1436/km2) is one of the lowest in Canada and North America and is ranked lower than Las Vegas (1604/km2) for population density, a city that is often cited as an example of unsustainable development. To bring Calgary more in line with other Canadian cities such as Toronto (3,972/km2) and Vancouver (5,335/km2) “Plan It Calgary” has been developed as a strategy for growth, for the next 60 years. The plan emphasises increasing population density in current Calgary communities and areas around current transit infrastructure. As well, the plan calls for no new major road development and for the development of significant transit infrastructure around the city. If the plan is approved and implemented, the city and its citizens will stand to save billions of dollars in the future but Calgarians are used to a single-family style of living and the multiple vehicle trips that accompany this type of living. The challenge will be to convince Calgarians to give up their vehicles and backyards in favour of public transit and balconies.
It looks as though the months of double digit decreases in real estate sales are over. The most recent sales numbers, released by CREA, indicate a measured but significant positive outlook for the Calgary real estate market. Sales of single family homes rose 19 percent month-over-month, while sales of condos rose 30 percent month-over-month. While year-over-year sales remain depressed, the decrease is much less than in the previous months. Experts continue to predict that a bottom for the Calgary real estate market is near and if the evidence on the ground is any indicator, I am inclined to agree with the prognostocators. To read more about the recovery of Calgary’s real estate market, click here.
I have written previously about the opportunities out there for first-time home buyers. A recent article was written, espousing the benefits of investing in real estate, during a recession. I think that the interviewee has a lot of interesting information and advice to disseminate to investors that are skittish about buying during the recession. Click here to view this article.
Whether you’ve finally decided to build that deck or pave that driveway, there is some information you need to know about building permits for the Calgary municiple area. Of course, all new buildings need a building permit, issued by the City of Calgary but for those who are adding additions or making improvments to existing properties, the rules get a little more convoluted. For instance, most people will not need a building permit when building a fence, so long as the fence does not exceed 1.2m above grade, at any point extending out and away from any buildings. Here is a breakdown of some of the rules regarding permits in Calgary, AB:rnrnThe following items are exempt if they meet certain conditions:rnrnFences – As long as the fence does not exceed 1.2m above grade, extending out from any buildings.rnrnRetaining Walls – As long as it does not exceed 1.0m above the lowest grade and it is located more than 1m from any other retaining walls.rnrnDriveways – As long as it does not exceed a width (where it meets a public sidewalk) of 6m on a lot that is 9m or less or 7m (where it meets a public sidewalk) where the width of the lot is between 9m and 15m. Please see Land Use Bilaw for a full explanation of conditions.rnrnAccessory Buildings (Garages) – Please see Land Use Bilaw for a full explanation of conditions.rnrnDecks – Please see Land Use Bilaw for a full explanation of conditions.rnrnImprovements that need permits include any improvements to electrical and plumbing. Please go to the Development Permit section of the City of Calgary website before planning any improvement to your property and/or consult a representative at the City of Calgary – Land Use Department.
Due to the current economic climate, in Canada, there are an increasing amount of foreclosures and bankruptcies. However, for the home seller there may be another option besides foreclosure if the seller has or is about to default on their mortgage. A short sale occurs when the selling price is less than the amount owing on the property. This situation can occur if there are encumbrances that cannot be covered by the proceeds of the property or if there are other debts which when combined with the mortgage, exceed the sale price of the home. It is important to remember that a short sale can only occur with the cooperation of creditors. Creditors have to be willing to pursue a short sale instead of pursuing foreclosure. As such, if a seller is expected to default on their mortgage it is recommended that they contact their creditors find out their options and/or contact a real estate lawyer experienced with short sales.