Author Archives: RIR

Sell your home – Prom Queen

In the excitement and haste of renovating and selling your property it can be easy to over value your output and to simply put the wrong dollars behind the projects which don’t offer you much return on the input. If you are looking at entering the selling market and want to put your house up for sale, it is a good idea to do a little bit of homework first and find out what you are truly up against.
When I do a market analysis I generally look for similar homes in corresponding neighbourhoods to determine the value of the subject property. A house in Glendale will not be of the same value as a home in Mountview simply because one neighbourhood is more desirable than another. When looking at listing your home, first check and see what else is for sale in your neighbourhood. Further investigation will allow you to look inside some of these homes on the MLS listing and it will help you see what kind of shape these places are in. if you are amongst 6 bungalows for sale in your neighbourhood, make note of what they offer and do not offer and try to highlight that part of your property which offers unique features.
If you find that most homes in your immediate competition offer the same interior finishes (from the same era) you might consider making your home stand out with a snazzy new paint colour or freshly done kitchen or bathroom. These two rooms SELL the properties and if they are up to snuff, then comparable properties quickly fade into the distance in the glowing light of your upgraded house but be careful to gently spend your dollars to gain the maximum return on your investment.
This is where an interior designer (or a realtor who is also an interior designer – how handy!) may benefit you. A few hours for a consultation is money well spent when you consider the invaluable information they can offer. I can create anything from a $500.00 fix on your kitchen to a full $40k gut job depending on where you are at.
It is surprisingly easy to dab a little paint or accent a bit of tile to create a gorgeous kitchen to wow potential buyers. I am also able to guide you to where the best use of your dollars can be spent and where to focus your renovation dollars. A few thousand in upgrades before you list your home may save you tens of thousands in price reductions at a later date.
Your bathroom may be dated but it may only require a few changes to bring it into the present day. It is often less work than people think to splash and dash a bathroom to make it beautiful for the next owners. Years ago it was simple to put a house on the market and to have it sell quickly but now buyers are being more careful with their purchases and if your house is going to stand out from the crowd you need to make it the prettiest girl at the prom.
Houses are still selling but it’s the ones which stand out and have unique features and updates interiors which are leading the pack. Your home has the potential to shine too!

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Forever Home

I just had a look back at my childhood home. I was looking up recent listings in Medicine Hat and there was the beautiful grand lady I grew up in which unfortunately had been given a coat of green paint over the classic brick exterior, but then I looked inside….
Wow, all I could do was try to pick my mouth up off of the floor as I scrolled through picture after picture showing modern interiors and rooms with completely new function! The entire main floor was re-routed with walls removed, patio doors installed and a sleek, modern kitchen where my moms’ oak cabinets used to reside. The palette had gone from blue and green into whites and greys while keeping the amber glow of the original hardwood floors.
My third story attic playroom which was always cozy with cedar walls and pitched ceiling has now been painted white and turned into a darling little third story guest room. To access this room, you had to walk through the master bedroom closet which always made it an adventurous getaway to play with my barbies or to hang out with friends. My bedroom has been converted to a walk in closet which would make any woman drool and is the perfect space since I always felt it was too small for a bedroom anyways.
The upstairs bath was completely re worked with all fixtures in different places than I remember yet it works so much better than the original configuration that was designed by my mom in the 70’s. The photos don’t show the floors but I’m sure the new owners responsible for the renovations had removed the blue sculptured carpet from the bath immediately upon moving in! My mom was one of the few who enjoyed carpet in a bathroom despite what everyone said about bacteria.
It was a complete trip to walk through this home again and see all the changes. It was also exciting to see a home which is still solid despite its 100+ years that someone loved enough to give it new life. When you talk about a house that has ‘good bones’ this is the kind of house we are speaking about – a place that has stood the test of time yet offers you the creativity to create a new and wonderful interior. A home that will stand proud and allow its owner to give it a wonderful makeover, even allowing some of its walls to be moved and certain points of character removed only to be replaced by new character pieces and space.
To my knowledge, this is the fifth major renovation that old house has weathered and it is still as grand as the day it was built. Time and style changes and advances but if you have the bones of a place and something about an old house speaks to you, then you have the blueprints for a forever home. A home that you can live and grow with over decades and a home that you can recreate time and time again to suit your needs and even a few decorative whims.

Home character quick fix

When clients are looking for a home or considering designing or building, they all breathe the same word – character. Everyone wants character yet we seem unsure as to how to input that into a room or a design plan. What constitutes character in a room or a home? What features are necessary to include in our plans to infuse character into a space? Can you only get character in older homes?
The options to add character are endless, fun and generally inexpensive. Next time you have opportunity to visit a tea house or a B&B in an older home, take note or pictures of the items that charm you and see if you can’t insert some of those elements into your space. Lighting is the easy fix; it is a quick project to replace a few lighting fixtures to something with more old world charm and rustic finishes especially in a dining area or over a sink vanity. Replacing door knobs and even door styles which have more raised paneling (Coventry) will lend some character to your home. Consider the new fad in sliding barn doors to give a room division some rustic appeal.
Your kitchen is probably not the country charmer you had once envisioned but take heart, there are many fixes for your boring kitchen! Cabinets can be re painted and antiqued and regular stainless steel sinks can be replaced with large porcelain bib sinks adorned with shapely faucets. Open up a few cabinet areas by replacing doors with glass or wire mesh. Paint the inside of the cabinet with a punch of colour or line the cabinet with barn board or decorative wallpaper and open up the front. Instant fascination!
Trim work always defines a space and adds charm and texture. Replace baseboards and door casings with larger profiles and consider an antique stain finish or even a vintage shade of green or grey using a milk paint with a flat finish. Crown moulding and entire wood feature walls also bring in an element of charm. Don’t overlook the option of wainscoting around walls in dining rooms and bathrooms. Raising this wall treatment up to a 6-foot height gives a lovely old world feel and protects your walls in busy areas such as boot rooms and powder rooms, this also raises the eye and helps the room feel taller.
Stone work or brick will add instant character to any home, ask me any day of the week how much I love my brick feature wall in my bathroom! It is something to also consider for kitchen back splashes and even shower or tub surrounds making it feel like you are bathing in a restored warehouse space. There are many tiles available which replicate brick, wood, stone and fabric texture on the market, you no longer need to have a boring white shower surround or kitchen splash.
Character is achievable in even the simplest of homes. Take note, and treat yourself to an afternoon at a charming inn to see which character elements you would like to add into your home. This is one of the most stress free, enjoyable projects you will undertake and you won’t believe how satisfied you will be with the results. Character is just within your reach, grab onto it!

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First Clients

My first real estate clients are on the books! The nerve-shattering first house sale has been completed and I have to say it was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. This lovely couple have found the perfect house for their growing family and I am very thankful that they were willing to work with me and to be open to different house options.
The search for a four bedroom house was not easy as most homes are advertised as three bedrooms. We even looked at a few homes which advertised bedrooms that weren’t actually bedrooms but spaces in a basement with no windows – not the place you want your children to sleep! On a visit to a split level home in their desired area they commented that there were only three bedrooms yet I immediately saw that the third level was the perfect shape to add a bedroom without compromising the living space.
The wonderful thing about this process is that my clients were willing to envision the extra bedroom and how we could include a large closet for their oldest child to live in. Even though the house didn’t have exactly what they needed, it held the potential for the perfect living space and it was delightful to see the light bulb moment on their faces when they realized that this home was exactly what they wanted.
My experience with clients often includes me walking down the path of potential as we look at options for their current home or a new home. My favorite compliment is ‘I would have never thought of that! It always makes me smile when people ‘get it’, it’s a wonderful meeting of the minds.
A home can be more than just four walls, every home has the possibility of being reworked, tweaked and customized to perfectly fit your needs. It is easy to frame yourself into a mindset and overlook a potential property that COULD be perfect. You might even be living in your perfect home, you just haven’t realized the full potential of how amazing your home could be with just a few tweaks.
Mortgage options are far more creative than they used to be and it is possible to purchase a home with extra funds for renovations or use current equity in your home for improvements. I have been playing with the idea of creating a basement suite in my home but didn’t like the idea of sharing the basement laundry with a tenant. One night I was looking at my third (unused) bedroom and suddenly it came to me – split the bedroom and put laundry upstairs and a walk in closet into the master bedroom! It was a brilliant idea which came to me after living in the house for over a year, a perfect solution for my future suite and a huge closet for me. This is what people refer to as a win win situation.
When looking for a new property or considering the home you are living in, look out for the potential and not just one that fits the formula. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find when you think outside the four walls and four bedrooms – your dream home is probably right under your nose!

New Home

New home!

Today was a very fulfilling day as I put a client into their new home. It is as rewarding as tucking your child into bed and having them give you that smile like all is right in their world. My favorite part is taking their picture at the front door while they use their key for the very first time, the smile on their faces is so happy and excited you can’t help but join in on their glee!
The house we closed today was transformed simply by the absence of the previous owners’ personal items. It is often hard to see past clutter and closets full of various personal items and viewing it completely empty opens up many possibilities as you can finally envision your personal touch on each room. The closets looked larger and the master bedroom seemed enormous without all the excess furniture. My client ran (not kidding) through the house from place to place in her excitement to see it all once again.
When we went into the basement we were delighted to discover that there was an upgraded hot water on demand system instead of a traditional tank. When viewing the home, you could barely peer into the utility room because it was piled with personal items. It was a fun afternoon of discovery as we looked at it through a new owners’ eyes, imagining all the possibilities that are ahead.
Often our home can develop into our personal dumping ground and we develop tunnel vision in our day to day living. It is easy to not see the piles piling and the clutter cluttering and before you know it you are faced with a major project before the stuff begins to take over. My office mate was moving desks today and she must have filled an entire bag with stuff as she muttered ‘why do I keep all of this stuff’?
A vital piece of design is organization and simplicity; you can create a spectacular room simply by streamlining items and organizing potential chaos. This includes the items you use on a daily basis; they can be out in plain sight but try to contain them in a decorative or presentable way. Closed storage is the best solution for all of those daily dragons we need to slay to keep our homes organized. Decorative boxes and trunks are inexpensive and effective ways to hide clutter and give every thing a home at the end of the day – I have a cute red basket for my pups toys and if I can ever train him to put his things away life will be so much easier!
It takes a minute to clean up a home that is prepared for organization rather than continuously trying to contain clutter and move it from place to place. Be ruthless when purging items you no longer need and donate or sell those things that you haven’t used in over a year. We all carry more than we need in life and a fresh look at our interiors can help us free up some of the stress and aggravation in our lives. We don’t need to live in an empty house to feel that freedom but we can make our loads a little lighter and make our rooms look bigger and broader with just a few organizational habits.

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List of Documents for Mortgage Approval

If you are thinking of purchasing a new home these are the documents your lender will require:

  • Most Recent Pay Stub

  • Letter of Employments – on company letterhead, detailing length of tenure, job title, rate of pay, guaranteed number of hours

  • Last Two Years of T4′s

  • Last Two Years Notices of Assessment – with the most recent year showing now taxes outstanding

  • Most recent Mortgage statement from current home

  • Property Tax Assessment from current home

  • Most recent Mortgage Statement from all rental properties

  • Property Tax Assessment from all rental properties

  • Rental Agreements from all rental properties

  • Bank Statements – 90  days worth of statements from each account that down payment funds will be drawn from, if not all down payment will be covered from the sale of your current home – please ensure that all accounts show your name and account number clearly at the top and that they are unaltered

  • If down payments is to be gifted, please send in a statement showing the account number, name and corresponding deposit, to line up with the amount on the gift letter. Letter will be forwarded to you once a lender has been chosen, as each lender has a specific letter

List of Documents for Self Employed

  • Articles of Incorporation

  • Last two years company financials

  • Last two years Notices of Assessment – with the most recent year showing no taxes outstanding

  • Last two years T1 Generals

  • Most recent Mortgage Statement from current home

  • Property Tax Assessment from current home

  • Most recent Mortgage Statement from all rental properties

  • Bank Statements – 90 days worth of statements from each account that down payment funds will be draw from, if not all down payment will be covered from the sale of your current home – please ensure that all accounts show your name and account number clearly at the top and that they are unaltered

  • If down payments is to be gifted, please send in a statement showing the account number, name and corresponding deposit, to line up with the amount on the gift letter. Letter will be forwarded to you once a lender has been chosen, as each lender has a specific letter.
senior couple smiling

Do I Need Home Insurance?

Absolutely. Although some people may not think home insurance is necessary, what they may not realize is that most lenders will require proof of insurance before approving you for a mortgage.

There are however, many other reasons why home insurance is important to have: it protects your investment, you can get back what you’ve lost in the event of theft or other damage and you can rest easy at night knowing you’re covered.

For a lot of people, buying a home is the most significant investment they will ever make, and that is worth making home insurance a high priority. Keep in mind, the value of your home will generally increase over time, unlike vehicles whose value drops the minute it drives off the lot.

Nobody wants to think that catastrophe, such as a fire or flood, or a break-in, will affect their family, but being prepared ahead of time can take some of the sting out of heartbreak. With adequate coverage, home insurance can help pay for repairs or to replace expensive possessions.

Things to Remember

When buying or selling a home, it’s easy to forget about home insurance. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, here a few things to keep in mind.

Buyers

If you’ll be taking possession of your new home, and leaving your current property vacant for awhile, make sure that both properties are insured. (Contact your insurance company to ask about continuing liability coverage while discontinuing the insurance contents).

Home insurance is something best taken care of right away. Make sure your insurance company is aware of all the features of your new home that may reduce your premiums, such as sprinkler systems, alarms and wired-in smoke detectors.

Sellers

Once your property has sold, you’ll need to contact your insurance company to let them know the date that ownership of your property will be transferred. They’ll arrange to cancel your insurance once you’re no longer the owner of that property.

Realty in Red Deer

If you’re buying or selling a home in the Red Deer area, Realty in Red Deer can help. We say our team is “Your Connection to Real Results,” because it’s true. If you’re selling, our team has the market knowledge and expertise to get you the right price for your home, and if you’re buying, we have a great variety of listings in Red Deer, Blackfalds, Lacombe, Sylvan Lake, etc., and we can connect you to the home of your dreams. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

If you are in need of home insurance, one of our partners (listed under Resources) may be able to help you.

Types of Mortgages

Fortunately for buyers, there are a variety of mortgage to choose from. It is in your best interest to investigate each of them to determine which is the best for your situation. You probably won’t qualify for all of them. In fact you may only qualify for one. But if you qualify for more than one, you may save yourself money (and worry) in the long term if you do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

Fixed Rate Mortgages – A fixed rate mortgage is where the rate of interest and payment amounts are fixed for a specific term. This is a good option of you are planning on living in your home for many years of you are not a risk taker and prefer the stability of knowing how much your payment will be each month for the term of the loan.

Closed and Open Mortgages – A closed mortgage agreement does not provide for payout before the maturity date. A lender may permit early payout of a closed mortgage under certain circumstances but will charge a penalty for doing so. An open mortgage permits for prepayment / payout in full at any time without penalty. Many lenders allow you to increase your payments by 20% each year or prepay up to 20% of your loan each year without penalty. Check with your lender to find out what options are available to you should you choose a closed term mortgage.

Open Fixed Rate Mortgages – Choose an open fixed rate mortgage when you want the security and stability of a fixed rate mortgage with the flexibility to pay off your mortgage or make additional payments at any time without penalty.

Variable Rate Mortgages – Choose a variable rate mortgage if you are comfortable trading the peace of mind that comes with a fixed rate for the potential interest saving of a variable rate. What a variable rate mortgage, interest rates fluctuate with prime lending rate while your payment amount remains consistent over the term of the mortgage. If rates go down, a larger portion of the payment is applied to your mortgage principal, which means you could pay down your mortgage faster and save on interest payments.

Conventional Mortgage – A mortgage loan that does not exceed 80% of the lesser of the appraised value or the purchase price of the property. A mortgage that exceed that limit must be insured.

High Ratio Mortgage – A mortgage loan that exceeds 80% of the lesser of the appraised value of purchase price of the property. This mortgage must be insured and borrowers must pay an application fee and the insurance premium (which may be added to the mortgage) to the insurer.

Canada Mortgage and House Corporation (CMHC) – The Corporation of the Federal Government that provides mortgage insurance to lenders against borrow default, under the National Housing Act (NHA).

A Cash Back Mortgage could be ideal if you are a first time home buyer with a minimum down payment of 5%. The amount of money you receive is based on the size and term of your mortgage. Your cash back is paid on the date your mortgage is advanced just in time to help you cover immediate expenses, expected or otherwise!

First Time Buyer’s can borrow the down payment from their retirement savings. The Government of Canada has a home buyer’s plan (HBP) that allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 from your registered retirement saving plan (RRSP) tax free if you use it to buy or build your first home. You’ll have to repay this amount back to your RRSP’s within 15 years and there are some other conditions.

home interior

What To Look For When Buying a Home, Room By Room

When viewing a home for sale, many buyers look at the property from a “macro” perspective. They ask themselves questions like: “Is it large enough?”, “Does it have enough bedrooms?”, or “Is it in a nice neighbourhood?”

While those questions are important, it also pays to consider a potential new home from a “micro” perspective. Here are some tips on what to look for when buying a home, room by room:

Living room and family room:

Is it large enough to fit all the furniture? Are the rooms conducive to family get-togethers and entertaining? Do you need a separate living room and family room?

Kitchen:

Is it important to have enough space to eat comfortably in the kitchen as well as the dining room? Does the kitchen have all the cupboard and other storage space you need? Will your fridge fit?

Bathroom:

Is the main floor bathroom uncomfortably small? Does the ensuite bathroom have all the features you desire, such as a large tub and/or separate shower? Do you need double sinks?

Bedrooms:

Is the master bedroom large enough to fit the bed and other furniture? Does it have the closet space you need? Are the other bedrooms large enough for your needs? (It’s a good idea to get the measurements of these rooms as it can be difficult to judge measurements during a viewing.)

Basement:

Does the basement size and orientation fit with your renovation plans? Does it have the storage space you need? Storage space. This is particularly important if you’re shopping for a condo. Does the storage space or locker have the space you need?

Closets:

Are there enough closets for your needs? Is there a linen closet?

Garage:

Homeowners use the garage for more than just cars. If you plan to use this space for
storage or hobbies check that the garage will be suitable for those purposes.

Do you want more tips on selecting your next dream home? Contact the Realty in Red Deer Team today.

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Become a Savvy Home Viewer

The last thing you want to experience after purchasing a home is “ buyer’s remorse.” That’s the sinking feeling you get when you realize, days or weeks later, that you may have made the wrong decision.

Say, for example, you buy a home based on your first impressions. When you viewed it, you thought it was just perfect. Then, a few weeks after you’ve moved in, you start to notice that the bedrooms are smaller than you had originally thought and the street is loud and busy. That’s not a nice feeling!

That’s why it’s important to become a savvy home viewer. When you visit a property for sale, you need to move past your first impressions and take a comprehensive look at the property and neighbourhood. That way, there won’t be an unpleasant surprises later on.

Here same some tips on how to do just that:

  • Take the time to carefully view each room, including closets, storage areas and the basement.

  • Make sure you have measurements of all the rooms.

  • Imagine yourself living in the home. Where will you have dinner? How will your furniture look? What is it going to be like to travel to work and school each day? Where will your kids play?

  • Get a professional home inspection. Then, make sure you read and understand the report.

  • Understand and get estimates for any maintenance and repair issues, such as required bathroom upgrades or roof shingles that need replacement.

  • Walk the neighbourhood and get a clear sense of what it’s going to be like to live there.

  • Carefully consider any negative aspects before telling yourself, “I can live with this.”

The best way to ensure you don’t get buyer’s remorse is to work with a good REALTOR! As one of the top producing teams in Central Alberta, Realty in Red Deer can help. Call today.