"Real Estate can not be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full and managed with care, it is about the safest investment in the world"
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
A few weeks ago, I received a call from a person who needed a realtor as she was deciding to sell her investment property in Calgary. Great, a live, hot lead, how could I say no? I didn’t. We immediately set about arranging a time to view the property, as that is a very important first step to any listing. She told me that we would have to work around the schedule of the tenant, and I, of course, was ok with this request as it is required in Alberta according to the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA).
Arriving at the house on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was shocked to learn that she had rented the house out to a couple with four massive Bernese Mountain dogs. Opening the door, we were immediately struck in the senses by an overwhelming smell of wet dog. Wow, in all my years of working in corporate rentals and dealing with landlords and property management companies, I never thought that I would witness a home that had pretty much been overwhelmed by dogs. It was filthy, and because the dogs are large and slobbery, there were rub marks on the walls, windows and multiple areas of scratches and chew marks. The back door was disgusting, dirty and scratched, not to mention the yard was a complete waste land of dog excrement, piles of it.
We walked through the house together, noting and commenting on areas that were in various stages of ruin. I was making mental notes about what would need to be done, at the very least, to list for sale, as no one was going to buy this home in this state. I also mentioned in several ways on various occasions that the tenant, not the landlord, should be 1000% responsible for the damage, no questions asked. She said that she had signed a lease that stated that at the end of the tenancy, the tenant is responsible for bringing the home back to the original state. Ok, that was a good start. Judging the surroundings, the following would need to be remedied:
- Professional, thorough cleaning of entire interior of home - Windows, walls, doors and floors completely washed - Carpets professionally steam cleaned or removed and replaced - Paint the entire main and second floor (house is a 2 storey) - Back yard clean up, complete with new loam and new grass seed spread throughout - Furnace cleaning and duct cleaning - Base boards and door casings replaced/repaired on a case by case basis - Paint touch ups in stairwell downstairs - Front lawn and flower bed tune up, consideration for a flowery curb appeal
It made me wonder about investment properties, and that just because you have one, doesn’t mean that it is going to provide you with a guaranteed and high ROI when you want to or need to sell several years down the road. Properties, investment or otherwise, are like anything living in life, they require constant and consistent attention, maintenance and TLC. This can’t just happen a few weeks or days before listing, it must be from the day you purchase until the day you sell.
This is key when it comes to selecting a tenant, and whether you allow a tenant to have a pet. Sure, a cute little guinea pig isn’t going to be as damaging as a full-grown Bernese Mountain dog, or two or three or four, as the guinea pig will probably spend 90% of his/her time in a smallish cage. A big dog, however, is entirely a different story. So, what to do when the market for rentals is tight and you are feeling stressed about getting a tenant for 6 months, let a lone a year? Well, there are some things to keep in mind, which just might prevent a similar scenario to what I experienced with my seller.
Three important keys to renting to people with pets, providing you don’t live in a condo complex (as they will have their own set of by-laws that must be followed):
1.Restrict the size and number - as a landlord, you have the right to set what kind, size, number and age of the pet(s) that you allow to reside in your rental home. For example, many landlords who allow dogs, have breed restrictions and only allow dogs of a certain height and or weight. This is your right, feel free to exercise it, and you won’t regret it when it comes time to rent to another tenant or sell;
2. Have the tenant fill out a pet application - this is essential, and this document forms part of the initial lease agreement as an addendum. This will allow both of you to be very clear as to what your tenant is going to keep with them in your investment property. For instance, you can also ask the owner to fill out questions and include a photo, such as what the pet is, size (height and weight), male or female, neutered or spayed, and other personality or lifestyle traits. You can also ask to meet the pet before you commit;
3. Charge a fee - yes, you have the right to charge a pet deposit or pet fee. However, you must decide before hand if it is going to be refundable or non-refundable, and make it clearly part of the lease agreement. The fee must be reasonable and you must be able to explain why you are charging such an amount. For refundable pet deposits, the total of both the pet fee and the rental security deposit must NOT exceed one month’s rent. On the contrary, for non-refundable, what ever you ask for will not be returned to the tenant upon leaving the rental.
However, depending on what the market is doing, and how desperate you are in needing to find a tenant, sometimes the best response to a potential tenant asking about a pet is to simply say no. In Alberta, unlike in some other provinces in Canada, the landlord does have the right to say no to a pet. Use your judgement and always have your property’s best interest at heart, as you want it to be able to ‘perform’ for you in years to come.
“Things will go as they will, and there is no need to hurry to meet them” - Tree Beard, Lord of the Rings
It is very natural to get excited about having trees on your property, especially a when buying a home that already comes with lovely old trees, or sprightly tree lings that are still within tree infancy phase. We love to drive down ‘tree lined’ streets and for some of us, glad to live on such a street. It is quite a different experience to visit the suburbs and have no trees on a lot, knowing that we have a lot of work ahead of us or that it will take at least 25 years for something to cover us when we want shade.
Who remembers the grade 2 trees that are handed out from schools, a wee seedling given to each grade 2 students in the city of Calgary? Parents excited to help the seedling survive the first few days by storing it in the fridge until the family can unite outside and plant it. Great memories we have, and if you a look around the older neighborhoods, those massive trees are still around, adding to the greenery and value of a home.
However, have we stopped and thought about who owns that lovely, massive tree? Well, I was out showing homes with a couple recently and the topic did come up. The house was in an older inner city community that is now starting to undergo a gentrification of sorts. Outside the front of the 3-bedroom bungalow were two massive spruce trees, truly filling up the yard and providing privacy and shade to the original home owners. My clients were adamant that these two trees would be going if the house was theirs, regardless that they were mightily and expansive. Nope, no trees out front, as they wanted a yard.
Ok, so a quick call the listing realtor didn’t really confirm any thing about whether the trees could be removed. Wanting to really help my clients get the house they wanted, I decided to call the city, they would know. I was put through to the urban planning department and after a few quick questions, I was told that I could order an on-site consultation by Urban Forestry, the company that helps the city to determine tree ownership. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person wanting to know tree ownership even though the trees were on the front lawn and not on the boulevard between the side walk the street (which is usually city land). The nice man on the phone booked the visit, saying it would take 10-15 days and that it was free. They would call me when they were done.
Lo and behold, less than 48 hours later, I received a call from Urban Forestry who confirmed that in fact the trees were owned by the city and that if the home owners wanted to remove them, they would have to apply through the city. Fair enough and good to know. Not safe to assume anything about a house when buying, important to confirm details, even if it is as simple as who owns the trees in the front yard.
If you require information about trees on your property or to determine tree ownership, call 311 or 403 888 3905. Call to confirm you have the right to move your tree!
“Energy savings technologies keep improving faster than they’re applied, so efficiency is an ever larger and cheaper resource”
- Amory Lovins, American Physicist and Environmental Scientist (1947 - present)
Last month, at one of my weekly Toastmasters Club meetings, one of our members announced that the government was assisting Albertans in becoming more energy efficiency and have launched a series of programs to help with just that. She told us to check out www.efficiencyalberta.ca. So, I did.
Energy Efficient Alberta Mandate
The mandate of Energy Efficiency Alberta is: 1. To raise awareness among energy consumers of energy use and the associated economic and environmental consequences. 2. To promote, design and deliver programs and carry out other activities related to energy efficiency, energy conservation and the development of micro-generation and small scale energy systems in Alberta. 3. To promote the development of an energy efficiency services industry.
Energy Efficiency Programs Not only are they helping home owners and renters to become more aware of energy usage, but they are helping us to achieve this through a series of four programs. On their website, I could see that there is presently one program rolling out now (namely the Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program). I called the direct phone line to speak to someone and found out that these series of programs are funded by the carbon levy. The idea being that people will pay less carbon tax if they learn to make their homes more energy efficient. Very interesting concept.
This first program works in such a way as to have an employee from an energy efficiency company come to your home for a one-on-one consultation, focusing on the following list of items in your home:
• Replacing existing incandescent nightlights, lightbulbs and exit signs with LED products • Replacing inefficient shower heads with high-efficiency shower heads • Installing faucet aerators if no aerator is present • Replacing a traditional power bar with an advanced power bar • Replacing a non-programmable thermostat with a smart (self-adjusting) thermostat
There are three other programs rolling out this spring, namely:
2. Residential Retail Products Program - provides advice and upgrade information on the latest, most energy efficient appliances and products available to the home owner. This would also be good for landlords, home sellers, or those looking to buy new appliances for a new home.
3. Business, Non-profit, and Institution Energy Savings Program - helping businesses, non-profits and various institutions around the province to save on energy costs so that investment focus can be on something more important.
4. Residential and Commercial Solar Program - there is a rebate program - offering up to 30% on your costs - when the owner installs a solar photovoltaic system in the home or business.
For more information, or to register for the first program now, visit their website www.efficiencyalberta.ca or by calling 1 844 357 5604 or send an email to: email@example.com
Bosch Built in Coffee Machine, courtesy of Trail Appliances
“The wonderful world of home appliances now makes it possible to cook indoors with charcoal and outdoors with gas”
- Bill Vaughan, American Publicist, often published in Better Homes and Gardens (1915-1977)
Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Steve Parkin, one of the city’s most knowledgeable on the topic of home appliances. Steve has worked for more than 20 years for Trail appliances, and was more than welcoming to have me come to his SE store location and show me around.
Steve and I met at an open house, and it was there that he was explaining the kitchen to me that I got the idea to include him in one of my blogs. Not only do buyers pay more attention to appliances on offer in a new home, but when renovations are happening to an older or outdated home, appliances play a major portion of the renovation budget.
Trail Appliances is one of Calgary’s leading appliances retail stores, as it has been educating Calgarians about all things appliance related and selling to them, not to mention helping learn how to use their new appliances through cooking classes, etc., for the past 40 years. In fact, Trail was originally a bottle depot that got the start in the appliance market through first renting out stoves and fridges. The rest is history.
Steve described these as the up and coming in household appliances, and the focus on higher end new builds, and being added to new kitchens in upgrades to older homes in and around the city. As the name suggests, they are basically beautiful appliances that are built in and offer a convenience. For example, the built-in coffee/tea/hot water dispenser is very popular. In the past, that may have been three separate appliances on the counter, now it could be one built into a wall space or into the island.
Another popular lifestyle appliance that would fit in here, and around the kitchen would be the Steam Oven, which can cook a full meal in less than 10 mins. No, not a microwave oven, but it cooks with steam, making the meal very nutritious and fast. Basically, a built in pressurized steamer at your finger tips.
My favorite is the wine cooler, which you can get built in or as a separate appliance and can virtually be placed in any room. In fact, I saw one in a large ensuite bathroom in Mahogany a few weeks ago - amazing! Such unique features can include a temperature divided space for whites and reds, not to mention more of a wine rack so that the wine bottle is horizontal. Beer can be yet another compartment and adjusted accordingly.
To the uninitiated, the cook top of an induction stove looks very much like a ‘normal’ ceramic cook top. However, once you turn it on, you will very soon realize that something is different: the burner area will not be hot to touch. Voila, one of the key features of the induction top is that it is safe as it ONLY heats when special cookware is used. Other features and why so many home buyers are having it installed from the get go or are upgrading is that 1. Food cooks 3x faster than regular ceramic top; 2. Cools down instantly; and 3. Cleaning is a breeze. How does this work? Basically, energy is created between the magnet inside the induction cooking pot and the element, which causes water to boil or food to cook. Once the magnet is removed (i.e. pot removed from element or element turned off), then it immediately returns to no energy state, thus cooling quickly and is cool to touch. You can check with a Trail appliance near you to ask for an on-site demonstration, and inquire about cooking classes.
Water Softener Unit
According to Steve, water softeners are essential in Calgary homes since our water is so hard and build up is harsh on appliances, not to mention our bodies. More specifically, the hard water is tough on washing machines, kettles, dishwashers and hot water tanks. Soap has a hard time breaking down with hard water, and so can also leave a fog on glasses from the dishwasher or leave residue on shower doors and walls, etc. A water softener contains a resin that is used to remove calcium magnesium from the water, which is what causes the residue and scum with hard water. The second process of a water softener is the use of salt, which is used to clean the resin, not the water. These types of machines can be rented or purchased for the home. It is important to check with your realtor if the unit comes with the home or not when buying a resale home fitted with a water softener.
If you have more questions about any appliance that you have read about here, or need more information or would like to purchase, feel free to contact Steve Parkin at the Deerfoot Trail Appliances location, and I am sure he would be happy the help you: Sparkin@trail-appliances.com or call 403 212 8546.
Thank you for reading and feel free to pass on this information to someone you know who might benefit.
"To follow animals is to become more attuned to our own existence. To follow DOGS is to begin to apprehend the experience of our silent, loyal partners through our days" - Alexandra Horowitz, ON BEING A DOG (2016).
This blog is based on a Toastmasters talk I gave last week in Calgary, Canada. It was in front of an audience of other Toastmasters' members and the entire talk was to be 5-7 minutes. I think I spoke for just over 7 mins ... I started out by bending down, with my left hand outstretched, as I would if I were to greet a smaller dog. Let's begin ...
Who has a dog, a small dog? … then you have an idea of what I may have been doing. I was presenting a part of my body for the tiny dog to smell … this is a very fascinating topic for me, as I have been watching my little Chihuahua over the past year and a bit since I first got her. She is my second dog ever in my life, the first one was in my childhood and I didn’t really pay much attention back then, and my memory fails me to remember that far back.
Today I’d like to change the way we look at dogs, or really, change the way in which we may interpret dog behaviors. As you can imagine, dogs have a wide range of behaviors and idiosyncrasies that are not only interesting, but could shed light on our understanding of them. However, today I am going to focus on the nose … more specifically, their sense of smell, and their ‘art of smelling’, if you will. The world around a dog comes to him through his nose, and is infinitely more rich than ours, as we have left the reliance on the nose millions of years ago, relying instead on other senses namely hearing and sight. We do, however, have a strong memory attached to a smell, stronger than a sight of someone’s face, or the hearing of a song, you know what I mean if you smell that lover’s perfume again or that food your mom cooked when you grew up. It is intense. Imagine how intense the world on a daily basis is for dogs? Dogs make use of their noses to 1) as a form of communication between the dog and another being, dog or human; 2) they use their noses to ‘see’ their world; and 3) work for humans to detect certain smells where the human nose can’t go.
We’ve all had the awkward, embarrassing moment when you go to a friend’s place and they have dog who immediately stuffs his muzzle between your legs, sniffing out your private parts like a crazed perve on four-legs … for if this dog was a person, the equivalent would be some party creep delivering us the cheesiest of pick up lines … However, from the dog’s point of view, this is the same as a kiss on the cheek, a hug, hand shake or even we can go so far as to suggest extending a name card - there is some familiarity, but if there isn’t, then the card will instantly reveal who this person is to us, if even just by name and rank. For the dog, they get this same ‘info’ from a good hearty genital sniff … we, too, have seen them at the dog park, nose of our dog making its way, ever so delicately, around to meet the butt of the stranger’s dog … often, then, there is change in behavior, the dogs will either move forward or move on. There is real communication going on here, they sniff to know and they allow themselves to be sniffed. This is essential for dogs to take part in, they need to know friend, foe or frenemy. Back to my bending down and reaching out the imaginary dog, I was making it easy and less stressful for her to first get wind of me, to allay any fears she might have of me. I might say to her, ‘nice to meet you’, and she would say to me, ‘nice to sniff you’.
Just as you or I might go out for a walk, attend a theatre performance or go to an art gallery, let a lone snuggle up by the fire with a good book, a dog takes in and experiences his world from that which comes in to his nose. When our dog is out on the walk with us, they can pick up the weather changes, what wild life has darted past in the past few hours, changes in the flora around and what other dogs have laid scent or played ball. Kind of like an olfactory ‘Facebook’ for dogs when they take a walk with us, and even more so when they hit the off-leash park where they can pick up and follow ad hoc. I once heard an experienced dog trainer say that the best walks are those where the dog IS allowed to roam, and not constrained to a tight leash. Remembering back to the art gallery, I want to go where I am interested, not where the docent wants to take me. Moreover, you may have heard the sniffing and snuffing noise that a dog makes as it motors through the grass, weaving back and forth, sniffing and snuffling along? In fact, they don’t just sniff in, but there is a 3- part process to sniffing, and after the initial sniff in, the nose then triggers the dog to blow warm air out, which causes a gust of wind down on whatever he was sniffing, causing more particles to be stirred up and then re-sniffed up in to the muzzle.
Dogs work for us in ways we might never be able to thank them for. An obvious physiological difference between dogs and ourselves would be the absence of a muzzle, which is where millions upon millions of smell receptors are housed. The real difference between the dog’s sense of smell and our own is beyond words really, however, there are some descriptive examples. Scientists have broken down this difference into the ability of dogs to sniff out a pictogram of a smell, something that we can’t even begin to fathom. If we look at it another way, say use the example of a smell that we are more familiar with - a Cinnamon roll baking in the home kitchen. The average cinnamon roll has about a gram of cinnamon in it, and our nose is certainly on to it when we open the door and smell the roll baking. Now let’s imagine the equivalent intensity for a dog … that would be close to a trillion rolls - that is how powerfully different their smell is to ours. It is then with no surprise that dogs are used for work such as search and rescue, criminal line ups to point out the murderer, narcotics, TNT explosives, cadavers, and in some parts of the world, they help scientists with locating hard to find scat from endangered species. One area that I find interesting and that is becoming popular is in detecting disease. While dog trainers are leaping to the chance to train pups in this field, and doctors are excited about a back up opinion, scientists are still deciding if it is the actual ‘disease’ they are smelling, or the effect of the disease on the human that creates the smell that dogs notice and locate. I have a personal experience of how this is possibly works, and I don’t even have a trained working dog. My Chihuahua Lucy came to me in January 2016 and it was about 6 weeks later that I had my mom over for dinner and to meet Lucy. Interesting, Lucy freaked out, she growled the entire time my mom was in the house, wouldn’t go near her and ran away with her tail tucked between her legs. A few weeks later, this time at my mom’s place, and Lucy’s behavior didn’t change, as we thought that maybe she was like that because it was the first time or the cigarette smoke. Nope, she was still growling and such. Mom seemed fine, we just sort of brushed it off as ‘it will take time’ to bond. On a third time, my mom came over to drop something off at my house, Lucy was growling and behaving quite protective and still wouldn’t approach my mom, nor let my mom approach her. The sensitivity of my young dog’s nose was made perfectly clear when my mom passed away three weeks later, due to bowel obstruction, in that her condition was so advanced, and docs felt that she had been essentially rotting for a long time before she died. Lucy, my little Chihuahua, was on to this, but of course used the only communication method that she knew - growling, tail between legs, avoidance and fear. I believe she could smell the death on my mom.
To summarize, dogs are amazing and even so when we recognize and acknowledge their finely tuned noses, not only in how they communicate with us and other dogs, in the way that they take in the park, and how they can really ‘see’ things that we can’t. The take away today is to slow down and observe your dog, bend down and present your hand to a tinier dog, giving her the chance to know you, and to let your dog explore his surroundings on the next walk. By paying attention to these ‘best friends’, then we might have a better understanding of our environment and relationships. An interesting field of research might be in comparing the smell of blind humans with that of the dog.
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting”
- Susan Cain, American Writer, Author of "QUIET: the power of introverts"
Moving on from the general concepts of lighting, we now narrow down and focus on a lighting specific, that of the bulb. As Angela points out, there are many different kinds of light that are produced by the science of various bulbs. See below for more information before going out and buying a light fixture, make sure that it fits the bulb and the right kind of light produced for the area of the home under consideration.
LIGHT BULBS- SURELY THERE AREN’T ALL THE SAME- WHAT IS RECOMMENCED FOR KITCHENS, LIVING ROOMS, FAMILY ROOMS & BEDROOMS IN TERMS OF LIGHTING AND BULBS?
This is a topic I could go on and on about- it's not only a conversation, it's a science! Overall, there are a few different categories designed for residential use- Incandescent, Fluorescent, Halogen (also a form of Incandescent) and the ever-popular LED. Briefly:
Incandescent and Halogen work by an electrical current pass through a thin filament, heating it and causing it to become excited, releasing thermally equilibrated photons in the process. Halogen can have different fill gasses- such as Xenon or Halogen (hence the name) offering a whiter light, but burning at a higher temperature.
Fluorescent bulbs are quite different and work by the tube contains a small bit of mercury and an inert gas, typically argon, kept under very low pressure. The tube also contains a phosphor powder, coated along the inside of the glass. The tube has two electrodes, one at each end, which are wired to an electrical circuit. When electricity flows through the electrodes in fluorescent lights, it produces a charge that causes free electrons to travel through the gas-filled tube from one electrode to the other. This energy vaporizes a small portion of the mercury inside the tube. Electrons and ions (charged atoms) collide with gaseous mercury atoms, which in turn release ultraviolet (UV) photons. This tends to produce a white light and is much lower wattage overall. It's a similar process used in compact fluorescent bulbs- which would be used in a home over a fluorescent tube.
LED's (Light Emitting Diodes) are light sources which use semiconductors and electroluminescence to create light. Simple, right? Due to recent energy changes, some of the ' standard' 60 & 100W bulbs have been discontinued and are hard to find- driving consumers to other more energy efficient sources. Compact Fluorescents were a logical choice, but their cooler colour temperatures (discussed in more depth in the next point) make them seem blue, they can be dimmable, but they don't dim as 'nicely' as an incandescent bulb (sometimes they flicker, or just don't work well), they were also costly (The prices have since dropped considerably), and most notably- they were just kind of ugly. They can however be a great choice for certain areas of the home, the garage for instance as they will provide a high lumen (measure of light) output with a relatively low wattage, they were used in kitchens for years (in 'sunshine ceilings’). That was all before the influx of pot lights. Typically, people are using pot lights in work spaces, such as kitchens- and as LED's become increasingly popular, they have more pleasing colour temperatures and are fully dimmable as well as having an outstandingly long life expectancy and minimal heat output. They have since become the option of choice for people for using through out their home in different applications, i.e., kitchen, bedrooms, lamps etc.
My one major point is- make sure you are getting the right type of bulbs for the space you need. If you have questions, please reach out to a professional at your local lighting showroom, as Lighting professionals are passionate about bulbs :)
WARM LIGHT VS. COOL LIGHT- WHAT ARE SOME COMMENTS YOU HAVE ABOUT THIS?
Warm and cool light are a measure of colour temperatures related to the Kelvin Scale. 27K (2700 degrees Kelvin) refers to warmer, more yellow light where as 5k (5000 Degrees Kelvin) refers to a cooler (bluer) light. Often, 5000k is referred to as "Daylight" bulbs. Typically for a residential application, one would use a 27k or 3k, and for a more industrial/ commercial location, 4k-5k might be used. This is not measured in incandescent bulbs as they are naturally 2700k. Colour temperature is not to be confused with Colour rendering- this is a different measurement all together, and based on a scale of 0-100.
Some people think that the cooler the temperature they worse they will look and the warmer the bulb temperature, the better- this is not the case, but you can have a cool bulb with a good colour rendering index (80-90) and you will still look great! You can also have a cool bulb with a poor colour rendering index and you can look dead..and vise versa with warm bulbs.
This information is available for all LED & Fluorescent bulbs- typically on the packaging. One important point is to stick with one colour temperature in the same space- there is nothing more unpleasing to the eye to have a warm bulb next to a cool bulb in the same fixture- or space.
For more information on lighting and lighting fixtures, please contact Angela McQueen at Robinson Lighting in SE Calgary, AB.
Thank you and a for reading down to the bottom, you have earned your self and a friend a pair of tickets to the Calgary Home and Garden Show (BMO Mar 2-5, 2017). Please email Karen directly and she will arrange delivery of your complimentary tickets. firstname.lastname@example.org First come, first served. Enjoy!
“Lighting is everything. It creates atmosphere, drama, and intrigue in a room. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a dinner switch. I always use dimmers, even in the powder room”
- Martyn Lawrence Bullard
UK Born / L.A. Based Interior Designer extraordinaire
ELI Table Lamp, Robinson Lighting, Calgary, AB
As a real estate agent, and previously as a destination service consultant (helping expatriate families find corporate rentals), I have seen the interiors of many a home over the past several years. Most homes come and go without much impression, but then there are those that really stand out. I started to ask myself, why did I really notice this interior? What was special about this home? Several factors, but one for sure was the lighting. I decided to learn more about lighting myself, and then to share what I have learned with my readership.
My good friend, Angela McQueen, works for a well-known lighting store here in Calgary. Recently I was able to interview Angela about lighting. Here are 5 important points from that interview session on lighting a home, regardless of whether you are planning on improving your living space or lighting to sell:
1) WHAT ARE SOME KEY/ GENERAL POINTS ABOUT LIGHTING IN TERMS OF MAKING A ROOM MORE COMFORTABLE, READING AND NOT COSTING TOO MUCH?
Lighting is best layered- meaning you will have task lights paired with ambient lighting, paired with accent lights. This is the most pleasing to the eye and the best to providing a suitable amount of light for rooms. For example - in a kitchen, you may have pot lights (ambient lighting), paired with island pendants (task lighting) paired with under cabinet lighting (accent lighting). By having them on different switches for control, you can use as much or as little as you need for the given task and layer the light as needed.
Dimmers are also a fantastic option for most spaces- you can adjust them to better suit the mood of the space. For instance, above a kitchen island, you can turn the dimmer all the way of for the highest lumen (measure of light) output for tasks such as cooking or cleaning, and you can dim them down when it’s more appropriate, such as getting a glass of water late at night.
Adding Lamps is also a great way to add both a layer of light and some beauty to a space. They can be used for reading, multi purpose, decoration etc. They can add some softer, light, making even the most sterile of spaces seem more inviting. As well, like most things, will come in a variety of price points.
2) HOW CAN SELLERS ENHANCE THE ‘FEELING’ OF THEIR HOME WHEN LISTING A PROPERTY TO SELL? WHAT AR SOME KEY POINTS TO CONSIDER WITHOUT INVESTING TOO MUCH?
Updating changeable items, such as hardware and lighting can be a great way to enhance the feeling of their home. It's amazing how much drastic some simple changes can be! A seller may opt for wanting to add some glamour to their home by adding a crystal chandelier to their dining room, or bedroom, or a more modern feel with a new vanity fixture or some fun with sassy pendants over an island. Lighting has often been described as the jewelry to ones’ home, and with that- it's amazing what the result is with some final touches!
Lighting, like most things is available in a variety of price points, I always suggest people allocated more of their budget to the larger key pieces - a foyer or dining room piece. This is something what's going to be enjoyed and admired by everyone who enters the house. I don't recommend putting budget busting fixtures in placed where they are not appreciated, such as a hallway. In my experience, most people don't look up right away (hence why spending more on a dining room piece which is typically hung at 5-6' from the floor) is not unnoticed...
Other places to have some ' fun' and break the 'rules' is Powder rooms and Island Pendants. I find Powder rooms can be more dramatic and depending on the client, you may be able to get away with something which doesn't emit as much light to enhance the space. Typically, and this will always depend on the occupants of the home, but there is no major grooming going on in the 1/2 bath- it's mostly hand washing, hence why we can get away with a more dramatic light fixture, maybe paired withe some fantastic wall paper, or a beautiful colour of paint to complete the space.
There are many beautiful options available for Pendant lights, which would typically be placed over islands in a set of two or three, also hung at about the 6' mark from the floor. You may fall in love with some that are hand blown glass or a stunning metallic finish. It's a great way to add some impact with either a punch of colour, glamour, industrial vibe or what ever catches you eye, and your heart while out shopping.
By only changing a few key pieces in your home, such as the dining room, island pendants and maybe the main floor 1/2 bath locations, it's possible to enhance the feel or flavour of your home.
3) ANY COMMENTS ON LIGHTING FOR A DINING ROOM?
Dining rooms are important rooms for various reasons, it's where the family connects with each other and friends with good food, cooked from the heart and hopefully paired by nice wine and favourite beverages. A dining room fixture can set the mood for the space, while grounding the room. It's important to look at the rest of the furniture when selecting a fixture, I ask people for colours of the room, what the table & chairs look like (is the set more modern or more traditional? Heavier or lighter?)
In terms of size there are a few tips and tricks I use, if you add the length and the width of the room together (i.e., 10' x 10’) the fixture can be as large as 20" in diameter. If it's an open concept area - you'll need to use the dimensions from where the dining room would start. Another way to size the fixture is to select something 1/2 the width of the table. A common table width is 42" so again, you'd be looking for something approximately 20"-21" in diameter, if would fit the dimensions of the room. Dining room fixtures are typically hung between 5' -5.6" from the floor, or 30" from the table- something to keep in mind if you have a raised table. These are not hard and fast rules, but good ' rules of thumb' to uses as a guide line.
A dimmer is also a great addition to any space, especially dining rooms- you can adjust the light output to better suit the mood of the occasion. They are generally inexpensive and can be changed rather easily with minimal tools.
Finally, don't be afraid to use height! If you have higher ceilings in the dining room, you may opt for a fixture which has the width requirements to beautifully finish the space, however you may come across a fixture with a taller body height.
4) FOCUS ON KITCHEN LIGHTING, WHAT ARE SOME KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR A KITCHEN THAT IS OPEN CONCEPT? WITH AN ISLAND? NOT OPEN CONCEPT? NO ISLAND?
Kitchens are the heart of the home- and such, need to be well lit! For kitchens that are part of open concept homes- Island pendants are a great way to add some flair- as previously mentioned. They can also add an ‘end point’ to an open space- where as they may seem to be adding a busy-ness to a non-open concept space. Be mindful of shadows - nothing is worse than a dark, uninviting kitchen.
5) UNDER CUPBOARD LIGHTING, WHEN AND WHY TO USE?
Under cabinet lighting is always a good idea- and can sometimes be added to a kitchen or space after the fact. It can act as a task light or an accent light. It can be used for both highlighting special dishes or cupboards with glass doors and actual counter top work areas. There are lots of options available, bulb type, installation type, dimmable and not. It can act as a welcoming night light for a kitchen space if you have guest staying over, or family members who perhaps venture to get some water in the wee hours of the night. It can also be used in different applications such as highlighting a tow kick area under the lower cabinets, or as cove lighting in a ceiling to highlight a dining room, master bedroom or foyer.
Thank you for reading and if you have further questions about lighting, please feel free to contact Angela McQueen directly @ Robinson Lighting and Bath - SE Calgary location, in the areas of:
Outside Sales ALA Lighting Specialist
For information on a free evaluation or other real estate related questions, please contact Karen directly @ email@example.com.
“A person without education is like a building without foundation”
“Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I was young, it used to be that parents bought a house and the kids went to the local school, usually within a few blocks walk from the front door. There was a choice between the Calgary Board of Education ‘regular’ program school and a Calgary Catholic School District School. It wasn’t until the mid 1970s that the concept of ‘bilingual’ education came to Calgary, and even then, it was limited to French and English. Not many families in my world considered busing across town for a program, attending a Charter school, or going private. If they did, they were the rare exception.
Calgary today is a very different kettle of ‘education’ fish. There is almost more to choose from and access in terms of education for our school age children than there are districts to move into, as the expansion has been mind boggling to say the least. It is an awesome place to raise and educate kids, you just need to be mindful of what is out there and what you want. Off the top of my head, the Calgary Board of Education alone offers: regular, bilingual (French, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian), science, traditional model (which focuses on higher academic standards in math and sciences), arts focus, sports focus, full year calendar, and more. That’s not even looking at what the CCSD offers or any of the many private schools around the city and province.
From a real estate perspective, it is worth your while to find a realtor how has a good grasp of this, so to prevent future disappointment or nightmarish situations. It isn’t simply that your child will be able to attend the school around the corner from the house you want to buy. Presently several areas of the city have small to long wait lists, EVEN for the child who moved in across the street from the school! Crazy, but true.
Working for several years in Calgary as a professional Destination Service Consultant (Dwellworks), and before obtaining my real estate license, I was required to have a very firm knowledge of this topic, as I was paid to assist corporate families moving to Calgary from elsewhere and they were usually searching not only for a particular community, but definitely a certain school. I had to work to make this puzzle work for them. I summarize some important points and tools that I learned and have used with positive results in my real estate practice:
Find a School Calgary Board of Education (CBE) - type in this link, http://www.cbe.ab.ca/schools/find-a-school/Pages/default.aspx in order to find if the home you are looking to buy is in the walking or busing zone (collectively known as the ‘catchment’ area). You will need the address of the home, name of the community you want to live in, or the name of the school to figure out if it is the right match. HOWEVER, most important, always phone the school to CONFIRM, as the school makes the final decision, as the map on the school website often change. Furthermore, boundaries can be very frustrating, as it isn’t always that you move in to a community and automatically have the right to attend the local school.
Find a School Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) - type in this link, https://www.cssd.ab.ca/School/Pages/default.aspx. I found that the CCSD is more about community boundaries, as opposed to sides or ends of a street. The CCSD offers parallel programs as the CBE, such as French bilingual, learn through the arts, and others.
Private Schools - they are not administered under the CBE nor the CCSD, and so best is to conduct a full google search for private schools in the City of Calgary or ask around for recommendations from friends/relatives/neighbors. There are private schools that focus on academics, have a religious theme, or have some other key characteristic that sets them apart. Just really depends on what you are looking for. Prices vary, as do admission requirements. The private schools don’t offer ESL programs like the CBE and CCSD schools do.
Fraser Institute Schools Ranking and other ranking - all schools in Calgary (and every other city in Canada) is ranked per this well-known ranking system. However, it is to be taken with a grain of salt, as it really focuses on test scores above all else. It doesn’t, for instance, pay much attention to the quality of the band program, or the size of the ESL program in the school. Having said that, perhaps something can be said for the quality of the overall teaching if the ranking is too low or very high. Again, it is another tool that can help in our overall search for the right school. Click on the following link, https://www.fraserinstitute.org/school-performance. The Eight Leaves data analysis company ranks high schools in Alberta each year, based on exam scores, http://www.eightleaves.com/alberta-high-school-rankings.
Other points and considerations before buying a home to fit a school:
- Elementary schools have quite strict class size restrictions, and so even if you move in across the street, your child may have to bus to an alternative school if they have reached the capped size; however, this is not the case for jr high and sr high, as they are more fluid with their enrolment sizes. Always phone the school that you are interested in prior to submitting an offer to make sure that you know where their enrollment levels are at and that you would be ok with being put on a waiting list (sometimes these can be several years long);
- To prove to a school that you live in the catchment, you will need to show either a rental agreement, purchase contract or some other documents to show that your child is entitled to attend the school in question. Always best to contact the school PRIOR to submitting an offer to make sure that you can provide the proof that they require;
- If you know of an ‘open house’ that a school is organizing, do attend, as most CBE and CCSD schools do not offer tours to walk in inquiries. However, you will have more luck with this at private schools. Many open houses for schools are in January or February of the calendar year, but check the website of the school in question;
- If your child requires ESL programming and support, always check with the school that you are interested in attending as not all schools have the same level of ESL support. It can really depend from school to school.
Good luck in navigating this part of the home purchasing puzzle. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or need more information about this topic.
“Not every home inspector is truly qualified to perform an inspection. And it can be tough for a home owners to judge the professional qualifications and experience of a home inspector”
- Thomas Byrne, Irish Land Sales Auctioneer
Last week I looked at why a home buyer should have a home inspection on the property that they have put an offer on, regardless of whether it is a detached property, row or condo apartment. A home inspection is the best defense against not knowing what you are buying, not to mention smart due diligence.This section looks at what a home buyer/owner should look for in a home inspector. As carry on from my interview with Tyrone Mellon of Mellon Real Estate Inspection, I asked the following questions and got very useful information in what to look for:
What should a buyer look for in a home inspector to insure they are getting the best value?
That the inspector is a CAPHI (Canadian Association of Property Home Inspection) member. In March 2016, the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) made for the first time in Canada’s history a Standard for home inspecting. The CSA chose CAPHI and the Carson Dunlop program as the new standard for home inspecting. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, the decision to chose CAPHI and Carson Dunlop was very easy. Additionally, CAPHI members continuously educate and acquire so many credits annually to stay in good standing as an association member. Inspectors should be FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radio thermography, used to visually detect moisture in walls etc.) trained and have the certification if they are using thermography. As inspectors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, ensure that you understand what they bring to the table, how their experience, thoroughness, knowledge and professionalism will benefit you.
What further qualifications should a good home inspector have?
Three years ago, the Alberta Government enforced that Home Inspectors must be licensed, bonded and insured. Previously, this was not the case.
For more information about home inspections and what to look for, please do not hesitate to contact Tyrone Mellon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403.993.8006
Buying a home can be a very challenging and stressful time, especially when it comes to deciding whether to conduct a home inspection. As a professional real estate agent, my feeling is that it is part of the process, and shouldn’t be an option, regardless of the type or style of property being purchased. I feel so strongly about this topic that I decided to write about it, so that others can learn how important a home inspection is and why it is worth every penny.
Recently I had the good fortune to sit down with a professional home inspector based in Calgary and chat about what he does and how it is an important part of due diligence before waiving conditions on a home. Tyrone Mellon has a 19+ year background in residential and commercial construction, and has been a fully licensed inspector for several years in and around Calgary. I hope that this information adds weight to your decision to professionally inspect you investment.
Why is a home inspection important to buying a home?
A home is most likely your largest investment in your lifetime. By having a bonded, insured and qualified inspector inspect the house components (roofing, structural, electrical, plumbing, cooling, heating, exterior and interior) will give the home seller the piece of mind and confidence when purchasing the home in question. This will also allow you and your family to sleep better at night knowing you have made the right decision.
Why is a home inspection important for a condo purchase?
Purchasing a condominium, ether brand new or resale, can have water damage or construction defects. These concerns can and will equal a future cash call that may not be on your radar. Understanding the facts and ages of the components (including the air conditioning units on the condo property) allows you to budget or negotiate the purchase price to factor any surprises.
Of course, a condominium document review is strongly suggested to compliment the home inspection, as a way of understanding the condo corporation and if any special assessments are on the horizon for the building and the workings inside and outside. I will address the condominium document review in a future blog post.
What are three issues that you see come up the most in home inspections?
Settling concrete foundations (small cracks, large cracks)
Poor moisture management in homes - i.e. possible mold in the walls/ceiling
Older components in furnaces, hot water tanks, boilers, humidifiers, electrical panels (i.e. aluminum wiring, loose connections, etc.) all requiring long over due maintenance or replacement.
Home owners can also call for an inspector to inspect their home prior to listing, as a way of knowing what state the home is presently and to give a sort of heads up and knowing what might come up with the buyer’s inspection.
Stay tuned for part two when we look at what a person should look for in a home inspector and why.
If you would like to book a home inspection with Tyrone Mellon, please contact him directly:
If you have real estate related questions, please feel free to contact me directly, email@example.com or 403.370.6442.
Thank you for your time and have a great day, stay warm!
"Create a Vision Board ... pictures of what you want to attract. Everyday look at it and get into the feeling state of already having acquired these wants"
- Rhonda Byrne, Australia Author, most famous work THE SECRET
A few months ago, I got up the courage and joined a club that I have been wanting to join for some time, Toastmasters. There are literally hundreds of clubs in Calgary, but I chose one that was conveniently located at the Calgary Real Estate Board and one that was attended by both realtors and others who were looking to improve their speaking and leading skills. My second speech was about my entrepreneur activities back when I was a small business entrepreneur in Beijing, China, and at the end of the 8-minute speech I ended with a very timely quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”, by Antoine de Saint Exupery, the author of the LITTLE PRINCE. Interesting, as that is what I was hoping I could have before heading into the New Year for 2017.
Having my daughter with me full time during the holidays, we came up with a plan for her time off school, in between festivities with family and friends around Christmas Even, Christmas Day and other events. We decided that we would have a rather chilled New Year’s Eve and stay at home, followed by an even more chilled day on January 1st creating and making Vision Boards for 2017. We both sort of started to think about the basic design and concept a few days before, however, not really collecting the paper bits and photos etc. until the morning of.
A few weeks ago, while at Ikea, I had purchased a discount ‘AS IS’ frame and so we took that apart, Hannah using the back board for her board and me using the clear plexiglass with matte frame to mount my vision. We also made use of images off Facebook and the internet, printing out photos that we would want to include to represent different ideas, people, concepts, etc. Cutting and pasting was also the theme of the day as we went through birthday and Christmas cards and cut out words, names and cool images that meant something. We didn’t really have any limitations, as there is a ton of resource around us and we didn’t buy a single magazine!
As there is no rules really to creating a vision board, we just did what looked and felt good at the time, taping images on to the core board and then when certain parts overlapped. Hannah’s has a lot more definition of space between her images, whereas mine is more like a collage with very little space between images. In fact, none at all.
We mounted the boards on to our walls, mine in my office in front of where I sit at my computer and Hannah’s in her bedroom downstairs. We will be viewing this boards and images on a very daily basis, which is the very point. I tried to focus on my career, such as being a realtor and a cross cultural consultant, in terms of success and reminding myself about where I am going with the career part of my life. Another part is all about my daughter and our dog, Lucy. The third would be the interests and ‘loves’ that I have in my life, for example, reading and attending the opera, art and enjoying nature. The space is quite limited and so must use certain images to represent entire genres of my life, in some cases.
Overall, a very successful activity for mom and daughter to work on together, especially that the weather was not really suited to being outside. What is your vision for 2017?
"I still think buying a home is the best investment
any individual can make"
- John Poulson, British Architect 1910-1993
The home buying process is both exciting and overwhelming, and is not without a multitude of considerations: How do I interpret and understand the current market conditions? Will I find the right property? Should I request a home inspection? What happens during closing and what will that cost be? These are just some of the questions and decisions a property buyer will face when entering the property market.
However, buying a home with the help of a professional, full time REALTOR® can - and does - make perfect sense.
The Process of Buying a Home
Most arguably, the start of the home buying process is knowing how much you can afford. The clearest and most accurate way of doing this is to become pre-qualified for a mortgage through your bank or a trustworthy mortgage broker. This critical first step will not only save you a lot of time and energy, but will allow you to focus specifically on the properties that are within your financial capacity.
Once you are pre-qualified, it is time to look at homes. Based on your search criteria, I will locate some properties that fit the needs and desires of you and your family, schedule showings and accompany you to view them. During this process, I will make sure that we are constantly fine tuning a ‘short list’ of your top three properties, with the end goal in mind of finding you the ‘best fit property’.
Hiring a REALTOR®
It doesn’t matter if you are a personal home buyer or a seasoned property investor, it is very advantageous to have a professional on-hand who has expert knowledge about the market and the home buying process. As one who is familiar with the area, I am eager to assist you in finding a property that is within your price range, your ideal location, and that meets the requirements of you and your family. Furthermore, as an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®), I have an additional skill and knowledge set that greatly assists us in the home finding process.
For you to be able to consider all the facts before making a purchase decision, I will take you to investigate nearby communities while accompanying you on property tours, pointing out the pros and cons of each one. This process will ensure you are ready to make an offer. Once you have decided to purchase a property, I will draft an offer to purchase that takes into consideration important conditions, such as financing, home inspection, and anything else that you require. I will also look at similar properties that have sold in the area that are like the one you want to purchase, and so this comparative market analysis will help determine an appropriate price to offer.
I negotiate the terms of the offer on your behalf. With the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designation under my belt, I work tirelessly to assist you during this critical part of the buying process and ensure that you get the home you desire for the best possible price. Knowledge is not only power, but it is where I add value as your trusted REALTOR®.
As soon as your offer to purchase has been accepted, I will put you in touch with reputable industry professionals who can make your purchase easier. For instance, home inspectors, lawyers and moving companies are just a few of the many services also involved in a home purchase.
Moving you forward … next steps
If you have decided to buy your next home with a REALTOR®, then feel free to contact me directly and we can arrange to meet for a home buyer consultation. Remember that the best part of working with a REALTOR® as your buyers’ agent is that commissions are paid by the seller, so my services will not cost you a single cent.
"My job is not just to sell your property ... my job is to get you a premium price for your property"
- Ellen Ming, top Real Estate Agent in Auckland, New Zealand
Home Selling Guide
Selling a home is considered one of the most stressful events in one’s life, especially for those who decide to sell on their own. It can be a very intimidating process, to be sure, and recalls many key questions, such as whether to use a REALTOR® or not, what the home will sell for, and whether you can sell before buying your next home.
The actual selling process can be very overwhelming, as behind a ‘For Sale’ sign is a plethora of other considerations, such as: what contracts should you use? How to prepare for the home inspection? How do open houses work? How to market the home to sell? How to deal with buyers and other real estate agents? The task of selling is even more amplified in market conditions that do not favor the seller, such as a buyer’s market. Hence, working with a Seller Representative Specialist (SRS®) designated REALTOR® makes this process much easier, and in the end, will save you time and increase your chances of getting the best price possible for your property.
Working with a REALTOR®
Many home owners attempt to sell their home on their own and not use the services of a REALTOR®. Not only is this a lot of extra work, but can be very stressful and result in a negative experience. Consider it akin to trying to diagnosis and treat your own illness without the professional assistance of a doctor or nurse. Of course, you want the best advice and skill to ensure you are properly diagnosed and medicated, as needed. To this end, I am your partner in the real estate process, moving you forward every step of the way from setting the best price, marketing the home, and negotiating with buyers.
Furthermore, as a licensed REALTOR® in Canada, I have fiduciary duties to all real estate clients and must adhere to the CREA Code of Ethics:
Reasonable Care and Skill
Deciding the Listing Price
Setting the right price for your property is the most critical step in selling your home. There are several other homes for sale on the market competing with your home. I will help you price your home competitively to attract qualified buyers. With a view to price your home right, I will need to compare your property to similar properties nearby that have recently sold. This data is pulled directly from the local MLS® System and is used to create a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) report. I’ll also need to take in to account any major renovations, distinguishing features, any repairs that will need to be done prior to selling, how much you need from the sale to make a profit, break even, or buy your next property. You can complete my online form to get a feel for your home's market value.
Traditional and Non-Traditional Methods to Marketing Your Home
With a listing price decided, I will begin aggressively marketing your home to sell. Several traditional marketing methods are tried and true, such as:
and other reputable websites (such as mine)
With the increase in popularity of social media as an outlet for buyers shopping online, I will post your home on my social media sites, such as:
Facebook - mine and other real estate related pages
A buyer who is interested in purchasing your property will contact their REALTOR®, who will contact me to send in an Offer to Purchase. The negotiation process begins at that point, where I will be working on your behalf to negotiate the purchase offer: final sale price, possession date, home inspection, financing, and if there is a sale of buyer’s home condition. With the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designation under my belt, I work tirelessly to assist you during this critical part of the selling process and ensure that you get the highest possible price for your home in the shortest period. Knowledge is not only power, but it is where I add value as your trusted REALTOR®.
Moving you forward … the next steps!
Once you’ve decided to hire a REALTOR® to sell your property, feel free to contact me directly to arrange a pre-listing meeting.
"Fill a house with love and it becomes a home" - Anonymous
Sales stats for November are in, as calculated and made available to real estate professionals and the public by the Calgary Real Estate Board. As October was a bit of an anomaly with the change in the mortgage lending requirements, November has returned to what we can refer to as ‘normal’ for 2016.
Key points for November include, but not limited to:
- October proved itself to be an anomaly, not a trend
- Overwhelming differences in expectations between buyers and sellers
- Sales and volumes are down around the city
- Apartment style showed larger price drop than detached
One of the move observable characteristics for the year of 2016 has been that the entire market is quite segmented in that there is not a lot of unity across price point, style and location across the board. For instance, there might be pockets of a seller’s market in a community for detached around the $500 000 price point, whereas another district with detached at a similar price point can show a full-on buyer’s market. Very interesting.
Best source of housing stats and information is from your CREB member, such as your realtor®.
"A lot of people don't think much about what land surveyors do. In a nutshell, we are the interpreters and providers of landmarks and records that directly impact real property." Mark Mason. IMG
Selling a home involves a lot of moving parts, to be sure. However, we sometimes get caught up in the financials or the staging of the home and the when to list details, but forget about one of the most important aspects to selling our home, that of the Real Property Report, or sometimes just referred to as the “RPR”. If this is lacking or does not exist, then the sale of the home can be greatly hampered, delayed or cancelled.
As per the Alberta Land Surveyor’s Association website, www. http://www.alsa.ab.ca/, “a Real Property Report is a legal document that clearly illustrates the location of significant visible improvements relative to property boundaries”. Basically, it is a ‘snap shot map’ of your property on a date when the survey was created. If changes to improvements have been made to the property or adjoining properties, then a new or modified (updated) version of the Real Property Report will need to be made. Such improvements can include, but not limited to, new or modified fencing, decks, external air conditioning units, driveways, garages or other such features. Only the updated RPR will be able to show their location relative to property boundaries.
Another key aspect of RPRs is that they are necessary to determine compliance with municipal bylaws. For example, if you have added a deck to the back of your house, it will be necessary to determine if the deck complies with the city codes about the height, etc. Some low decks do not require to be included an improvement as they fall well below a certain height. Best to check with the city as to what the minimum height is before it is required to be included on the report. If the city determines that your structure does not comply, then it is the owner’s responsibility to remedy before putting the property on the market to sell. Thus, early preparation of the RPR is necessary and can significantly speed up the process of selling a property.
Not only does the city want to confirm compliance of your home improvements and structures, but other professionals involved in the sale process also need to see the report. They may include,
See the location of improvements within the property boundaries
Any encroachments from adjacent properties
Property compliance with municipal requirements
The boundary and improvement locations on the property
Any problems relating to the property boundaries
In determining compliance with bylaws and fire codes
In the planning and development process
Property Sellers (vendors)
Protection from potential future legal liabilities resulting from problems related to property boundaries and improvements
Conformance of improvements with municipal bylaws
Problems that may have to be resolved prior to registration of the mortgage
Real Estate Agents
Provide a visual representation of the property for sale
Meet requirements of the real estate listing/purchase contract
Have information to avoid delays in completing property transactions when a Real Property Report is arranged early in the sales process
Process the home sale or buy transaction
RPR starts at the seller's lawyer office, then gets transferred to the buyer's lawyer office
Require RPR for title transfer purposes
A Real Property Report is not required for conventional condo style apartments, but is required in bare land condo style properties. If you are unsure of what you currently own or are planning to purchase, ask your trusted real estate agent. Conventional condos do not need a real property report because the Condominium Plan takes the place of the Real Property Report. Your realtor can assist you in the area as she can easily get a copy of the Condo Plan before submitting an offer to purchase or if you decide to list your condo to sell.
You can conveniently have your existing RPR updated, and so best advice is to contact the company that issued the stamp, as it should be labelled on the RPR. However, it is possible that the lawyer that you dealt with for the purchase of your home may have it on file, so do contact them if you are needing to get a copy or update it. If for some reason, you do not have an RPR at all and you are planning to sell your home, it is best to begin arranging the survey process as soon as possible. It will take about 2-3 weeks.
Three reputable Land Surveyors in Calgary for obtaining a Real Property Report on your property:
Thank you for reading my blog post for the week of November 28th, 2016. Feel free to contact me if you have any real estate required needs or questions. Please forward this to anyone you know who you know may benefit.
"Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction"
- E.O. Wilson, American Biologist and World Renown Ant Specialist
I hadn’t begun to think about Christmas, being mid November or so, until I received an email from my good friend J’val, inviting my daughter and I to participate in a one of a kind ‘mother and daughter’ decorative planter making workshop. This looked and sounded interesting. We didn’t hesitate and signed up.
The workshop was held at the lovely and beautifully decorated Wolf Willow Studio, owned and operated by Michalena Bamford, a self - taught artist who specializes in making art with her hands, especially if it involves Mosaic. Michalena operates Rocky Mountain Wreaths out of Wolf Willow Studio, her space that holds her passions of nature, mosaics, and community art, during the holiday season. The mandate of RMW is to use native, sustainable plant material to provide Calgarians with a local, green option for holiday decor. Building community and supporting other artists is very important to her.
Each of us (moms and daughters) started with a large black plastic pot, where Michalena and her assistant, Chelsie, had prepared with a product called ‘oasis’ that would hold the stems of the greenery, saturated with water. We also each received a nicely tied bundle of greenery, from local trees and bushes, with which we would use to make our planter creations. Such greenery included Juniper, Pine, Cedar (from BC as it doesn’t grow in Alberta), and various twigs. Bamford states, “I started offering the workshops because I know how wonderful it is to create things with your own hands with friends, and I love sharing information about the incredible benefits of our indigenous flora! Nature provides so many sensory benefits to us, I love to help others find the natural beauty of the season!” It was a lot of fun and when we were done, we were invited to talk about our planters and have a little ‘critique’, feeling much like ‘real’ artists. Oh, and wine, Nanaimo bars, chocolates, Mandarin oranges and cider were ample, tempting us and reminding us that Christmas is but just around the corner.
The planters turned out beautifully, and we immediately put them at the front and back door of our condo, adding instant ‘curb appeal’ to our home. A great idea to freshen up a home, regardless of whether you are planning to sell or not. Who doesn’t love fresh greenery?
In addition to offering workshops, Michalena hosts an annual Winter Market, this year it is on Dec.4th 10-4pm. Chelsie is also passionate about sharing green education too, operating a landscaping business called Chelsie's Soil-Unions. For more information, contact Wolf Willow Studio.
Thank you for reading my post and feel free to share. Enjoy getting ready for the holiday season!
"Don't wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate and wait" - Anonymous
I hope this finds you and your family well, enjoying the sunny warm skies in early November for Calgary and surrounding areas. What happened to the snow? Well, I am sure it will be back before too long.
Good news in housing sales this past month of October, as per the video published by the Calgary Real Estate Board below. Sales are not only up 16% since October 2015, but the detached home market performed very well and in some pockets of the city, was really more of a seller's market than a buyer's market.
How so? Many factors can come into play here, however, the change to the mortgage qualification process on October 17th, 2016 stimulated a lot of purchasing, as some folks wanted to get in before the changes came about mid month. It will be very interesting to see how November 2016 compares to November 2015. Are we stepping out of the slump or was October just a one off? The market will show us next month after the sales stats are in. Stay tuned!
Enjoy your month of November, what ever that means for you - your work, your friends and family, your health and how you characterize your lifestyle.
If you or someone you know requires real estate services, such as a free home evaluation (no obligation!), then please feel free to pass along this post and to contact me directly. Thank you for reading!
“While Muslims agree that riba is prohibited, there is disagreement over what it is. It is often used as an Islamic term for interestcharged on loans, and this belief – that there is a consensus among Muslims that interest is riba – is the basis of a $2 trillion Islamic bankingindustry. However not all scholars equated riba with all forms of interest, and among those who do there is also disagreement over whether it is a major sin and against sharia(Islamic law), or simply discouraged (makruh)”
- Wikipedia definition of Riba
Today I woke up and planned to spend the day riding bikes at Glenmore Reservoir with my daughter after she competed her mandatory Chinese schooling in Chinatown. However, those plans went quickly out the window when 1) I woke up and discovered that she was too sick to attend Chinese school and 2) I went on to Facebook and just happened to see a posting by a fellow realtor about a talk happening later in the afternoon titled, “Free Seminar: Buying your home the Halal way”. As a realtor who also wears the hat of a Cross Cultural consultant (www.xculturalconsulting.com), I was incredibly curious to find out more, and so I set about organizing the rest of my morning and afternoon to attend.
As per the online poster that I downloaded, “Muslims are not allowed to participate in riba/interest; but to buy a house with cash is usually very difficult for the average person…Learn how you can become a homeowner, while still being true to the Islamic faith”. After reading this brief intro, of course, I had a million questions. I will try to explain what all of this is about in this week’s blog post. I will first qualify this blog post by saying that I am not Muslim, nor do I have much of a grasp of the Quran teachings and readings. I decided to attend this seminar to learn more professionally and personally, as I will most definitely meet this community at some point, either as a real estate agent or a cross cultural consultant.
Riba, or referred to as interest, is to be avoided at any cost. Muslims should be adhering to Sharia Law and avoid getting themselves into a financial (or business or trade or consumer or purchase) situation that has he or she paying interest as calculated by a percentage. The Quran contains several passages that state that to be involved in riba is equal to declaring war on Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) Allah. This is serious. But what is this riba exactly? It is basically the ‘rent’ that is paid on the borrowing of money, and is forbidden in the Islamic faith. Whereas paying rent on a tangible item, such as a house, is acceptable. Profit exists but must be made in an acceptable way, as laid out in the holy Quran. Let’s take the analogy of eating Halal, which is a term that refers to how food is slaughtered and prepared that adheres to Islamic Halal laws. The Jews have a similar concept, that food must be slaughtered and prepared to Kosher laws. In terms of riba, then, we can say that business or trade is conducted, and profit is made, but it is HOW the profit is made that is the issue here with riba and Islamic beliefs. Muslims and Jews might process their food differently, but at the end of the day, they all eat; Similarly, we can say that financial transactions are incited and profits are made, just in a different way than what we are used to in a Judaeo-Christian culture.
The best and easiest way to avoid riba, or avoid paying interest, is to pay cash for consumer goods. For example, one would pay hard cash for a new car or new shoes or a new bike. This makes sense, but how about a house? Houses haven’t been anywhere close to the cost of a car for over 30 years...not easy for someone to pay half a million dollars for a home. So, what does one do in Canada to avoid riba but become a home owner?
I learned today that Muslims in Calgary (and the rest of Canada and the US) can have an option to only being able to pay cash for a house, thanks to a company that has been in existence since about 2008 in North America. Mr. Shoeb M. Sharieff, President of the non-profit organization Ijara Community Development Corp, explained in detail for two hours how this works. Very interesting, to be sure, but if not a bit complicated to the uninitiated ear. For starters, the home purchasing process is almost the same as if dealing with a home buyer working with a standard bank in Canada or an independent mortgage broker. The big difference is that the Muslim buyer who wants to avoid riba and uphold Sharia law in his or her personal life, will either pay cash or obtain pre-approval from a company such as ijarausa.com. This kind of financial institute sets up a trust account that acts as a middle entity to deal with the interest, so relieving the Muslim buyer from entering a financial transaction that involves paying riba. Furthermore, a Muslim family wanting to buy a home and only has $250 000 saved, which won’t buy you much in Calgary, can work with a company like this to leverage borrowing to purchase a home double or triple what they have as cash savings. This is very interesting and worth while news, as many Muslims who want to avoid riba would be limited by what their cash savings amounted to.
Today I gained valuable cultural awareness of a community that exists in Calgary and as a real estate professional obtained the basic understanding of a useful service that I can suggest to a future client, should I come across a Muslim home buyer who is limited by his cash holdings. I am very glad I attended this event today.
Thank you for your time reading this post and if you have further questions or need more information about this blog content, please contact Mr. Sharieff, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.ijaracdc.com.
Of course, if you require a free home evaluation, please contact Karen Patterson Real Estate, email@example.com. Thank you!
My mother, Elizabeth, sitting in front of the King Ranch Homestead, Millarville, AB ca. 1941
"It is not easy to be a pioneer - but oh, it is facinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world"
- Elizabeth Blackwell, British but notably the first woman to receive a medical degree in the US.
Dower Consent comes up in many real estate transactions here in Alberta. I thought I would write a quick 'nutshell' explanation of what it is and include some important points to know when dealing with Dower in a real estate transaction. I strongly suggest that if this blog post does not fully answer your questions or you still need more information, that you speak directly with your lawyer, as he will know best and have the legal authority to properly guide you.
To begin with, theDower Actexists in Alberta in order to give the married spouse who is not on title certain rights to the homestead. Historically, the Dower Act came about as a response to protecting the rights of a dependent spouse on the working bread winner spouse. For instance, a pioneering man and his wife who set up a ranch or home in the countryside, she as a stay at home wife would be dependent on her husband's ranching business for survival. The Dower Act outlines the rights and protects the married spouse at time of sale, as she has the right to give permission to her husband to sell the marital home.
Today, however, Dower can apply to any home sale transaction where there is only one person's name on the title, regardless of occupation and gender. The Dower Consent question will come up usually at time of listing a property, and your trusted realtor should ask the following questions of you:
1. Are you legally married? NB: also includes separated but not yet legally divorced couples, but DOES NOT apply to common law living relationships;
2. Have you or your spouse resided on the property at any time since your marriage?
If you answer yes to these two questions, and there is only person's name on the title, then the spouse whose name is not on the title will need to arrange to have a Dower Consent form signed and will have to sign the Exclusive Seller Representation Agreement in order to have the property listed for sale in Alberta.
The Dower Consent form must be signed and submitted prior to listing, as it should accompany the other listing paperwork. Additionally, you can arrange to have this form signed either by a lawyer or by a notary public (such as at an Alberta registry in Calgary). The lawyer does not have to draft a special form, the form from the Alberta Real Estate Association that your real estate agent will supply you with is perfect for this process.
Again, if you require more information, please contact your lawyer.
Thank you for your time and contact me today if you require a FREEhome evaluation!
"Owning a home is a keystone of wealth ... both financial affluence and emotional security"
- Suze Orman, Author/Financial Advisor and Motivational Speaker, US
Starting this month, I am going to write a quick blog about the market and include what Cliff Stevenson of the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) publishes in the way of a monthly video. The next one will come in early November and will feature the October housing stats. I feel that this video captures the essence of the market in a real, easy to understand way.
The message for September highlights two things: one is that detached housing sales are steady and showing quite a different market characteristic than they were a few months ago, especially when compared to other styles. Even though we can blanket the city as a 'buyer's market', however, there are pockets of seller's markets throughout the city, just really depends on the style, location and price point of what you are looking for.
Moreover, the market for most of 2016 has been unpredictable, as a result of the wonky economy that has characterized much of Alberta in 2015 and 2016, not to mention the wild fires in Fort McMurray back in May. These factors are all related, and have had an ifluence on our housing market, to be sure.
I hope everyone reading this has had a good Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family, and that we can be thankful for all that we do have in our lives. Regardless of what is going on in the financial world around you and your family, take the time to enjoy each others's company and enjoy a delicious home cooked meal together.
Please contact me directly should you require a free home evaluation - regardless of size, style or location - with absolutely no obligation.
Thank you for your time and feel free to share this message to anyone you know who might benefit.
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For your Calgary real estate needs, you can search listings at your own convenience, browse reports, and read up on real estate info right here on my website. When you are ready to see a listing in person, or have questions, please contact me! As a local Calgary realtor, I can recommend the best options to suit your needs.
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The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
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