When I moved to Calgary years back I was surprised to learn that most homes sold here included the appliances as part of the sale of the home. What a novel concept not having to move these appliances from home to home. Think of the floors that would no longer be scratched up by the movers or the walls that would be saved from dings and scrapes. I loved the idea! When I became a Realtor however, I quickly learned what a huge thorn in my side this would become. You see, as part of the purchase contract, all appliances (chattels) to be included in the sale of the home have to be in proper working order. 6.1 The Seller represents and warrants to the Buyer that: (b) the Attached Goods and included Unattached Goods are in normal working order and are free and clear of all encumbrances; Yes Peter, but the buyers will have a home inspection done and that should alert the buyers to any appliance that is not functioning properly. A home inspection is a VISUAL inspection of the property to give you a reasonable picture of the property on a given day. Since falling under the Real Estate Council of Alberta, home inspectors do not typically include inspecting appliances in their inspection. Some do, most don’t. If that is the case, what do I do? As a buyer, you can request that your home inspector inspect these appliances and insist that he does so. That would allow you to renegotiate for any findings (whether it be action or price). Another course of action is to ask your Realtor in insert a term to allow for a walkthrough up to 24hrs prior to closing so that you can head off any potential issues by holding back cash to close until the problem is resolved. As a seller, the best course of action is to disclose, disclose, disclose!!!! If you are aware that an appliance is not working properly, simply state it as such and include in the sale in ‘As is’ condition. This way the buyer can deal with it prior to making an offer. The important thing is for the seller to be truthful from the beginning so the listing Realtor can advise on the best course of action. Skeletons will always find their way out of the closet. Let them out before they become a ‘bone’ of contention.
Calgary Real Estate – Foreclosures – Deal or no Deal?
We all love a good deal. Heck, most of us will stand outside in the freezing cold on Boxing Day or Black Friday to save money on something we really want. So it’s only natural for people’s eyes to perk up when they hear the word ‘foreclosure’. ‘Foreclosure’ = ‘Deal’ right? The bank owns the property and the bank has so much money that it shouldn’t even care if it takes a loss on one property. Actually, that’s wrong! Banks aren’t stupid and they are not in the business of losing money. They know what the house is worth. They have had Realtor after Realtor assess the property and then they bring in an appraiser to make sure the numbers work. They list it at Market Value plus or minus current condition of the property. The bank knows what it needs to get out of a sale, period. So, why this misconception about foreclosures? Well, the answer is quite simple. Typically, but not always, foreclosures tend to be distressed properties and for any seller to dispose of a distressed property, prices need to be adjusted accordingly. Everything sells at the right price. Of course, only a buyer can determine what that right price is. Let’s look at the transaction from a different angle. When you buy a normal property from a seller, they have to disclose all material latent defects in the property. What does that mean? It means that if the seller knows that there is a defect in the property, that is hidden, that may be of considerable cost to remedy, they must disclose it to the buyers. An example is a leaky roof that leaks only when it rains or a crack in the foundation that has seen water penetrate into the basement but is covered up by wall board and is not discoverable without further inspection (not patent or visible). In a foreclosure sale, the buyer is buying the property blind. The property is being sold as is, where is. No warranties, no guarantees, what you see is what you get. Is there still a deal there? Possibly, but what happens if you get the property at a great price only to discover an expensive defect to fix a few months down the road that was not visible on initial inspection. No recourse, as is where is. So where is that deal then? Let’s assume I am the Realtor representing the buyer interested in a property. What I usually advise is that once a property has been listed for over 100 days, there may be a deal to be had because activity on the property will be greatly diminished at this point. Two things sell a property: Exposure and Price. If it’s been exposed that long without having sold, price needs to be adjusted. That statement can be applied to foreclosures as well.
If the property has been sitting there for months, there may be a deal to be had. If the property needs work, there may be a deal to be had. None of this is foolproof and working with a Realtor (who is representing you) is imperative to helping you find out as much as you can about the property but in the case of ‘foreclosures’, the best advice is Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware. Do your homework and make an informed decision, not one solely based on getting a good deal.
Calgary Real Estate – Real property reports, City Compliance, Relaxations and your obligations.
Your home is listed for sale. The pictures are taken, the MLS listing is live, the feature sheets are displayed and you are getting showings. Did your Realtor talk about your obligation to provide a Real property report (RPR) as stated in the real estate listing contract (seller brokerage agreement)?
11.1 The Seller will provide the following Important Information to the Brokerage within ten (10) days of the Seller signing this Agreement and at the Seller’s expense:
(a) regarding the matters described in clause 13.2, a real property report reflecting the current state of improvements on the Property, according to the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Manual of Standard Practice, with evidence of municipal compliance or non-conformance. This obligation will not apply to any transaction where there are no structures on the land.
Please Note: Not having a current real property report with compliance may result in complications on closing or rescission of the purchase contract.
Well, here is the good news. If you purchased a resale home you should have a copy of an RPR. Assuming you have not changed or added fencing, changed the dimensions of the deck or added a new deck or done anything that may warrant an updated RPR, you should be good to go. You just saved yourself some money. Assuming you did put in a new deck, cement pathway, fence or shed, you should be able to call the company listed on your old RPR and have them update it for you at a lower cost.
What does an RPR Cost? The cost varies from company to company so it is always a good idea to shop around but a safe estimate is between $500-$800.
City Compliance and stamp: Once an RPR company has done their job, the city will need to review this document and issue their seal of approval. The city currently charges $143 for the stamp. The RPR Company will charge an additional fee to bring the document downtown to take care of this for you. If you do not want the extra fee, feel free to take the RPR down to the city yourself for compliance. My experience is it is easier to let the RPR company deal with it.
My RPR did not meet compliance, now what? Don’t panic and let’s look at the reasoning behind the refusal. It may be something simple to fix or it may require a relaxation from the city acknowledging the deficiency but allowing it.
I recently sold a home where the seller had installed an air conditioning unit in 2007. The RPR showed the unit and the city did not issue compliance. Their reasoning was that one side of the home required 1.2 meters of access to the rear of the home for emergency services. This was a bylaw put into place June 1, 2008. All we had to do was supply a purchase receipt for the A/C unit to the city. Compliance was quickly issued following our proof. In the event that the seller had installed the unit after 2008, he would be required to request a Relaxation from the city. This could run an extra $350 in city fees and could take between 4-6 weeks to process. In the event that this is the case for you and you have a sale closing in less time than that, your lawyer could process the close but may holdback funds until the relaxation is issued.
My advice is to make sure you have an updated RPR or make sure it is ordered quickly once the decision is made to sell your home. Deal with these issues before they become a problem.
Calgary Real Estate – Taking Possession of your new home
In my opinion, the day you take possession of your new home can be one of the most stressful.It is the end of what may have been a very long, mentally and physically draining journey. You have jumped through all the real estate hoops that we have put in front of you and all you want to do is move in. Is that going to happen today? Maybe, maybe not. What do I mean? A lot is happening behind the scenes to get you into your new home and that in the time frame stipulated by the purchase contract. Your lawyer is working hard to make sure that all the “t’s” are crossed and the “i’s” dotted. If all the paper work is in order and nothing is outstanding, the money may be transferred from your lawyer to the seller lawyer’s trust account. So what now? Once the funds have been released and the seller’s lawyer has a chance to process the receipt of funds, they will call the sellers Realtor and authorize the release of keys. He will then in turn call the buyers Realtor and authorize the release of keys to them. Your Realtor will then arrange to walk you through the property to verify that all is as was when you visited last. Typically, Realtors will communicate early on how the keys are to be transferring hands. This was the perfect scenario. Hiccups can arise and create issues. How you choose to deal with them is what makes the difference. Examples of possible hiccups are as follows. Scenario 1: Funds were not released in time and the 12 noon deadline has passed. Your lawyer will guide you through this process and your Realtor should be there for moral support. A tenancy agreement may be an option considered by your lawyer. Scenario 2: Something is missing in the file (ex. A missing RPR with Compliance). This should not delay the close (possession) however the lawyers may arrange a holdback until the required document is provided. Scenario 3: Missing appliances. What happened to that fridge that was there when we visited the house? First, check the purchase contract to ensure that it was included as part of the sale. Second, check the home inspection report as most reputable home inspectors will note the appliances tested as well as their serial numbers. Third, go back to the MLS listing and go through the pictures again. Was it there to begin with? It is not uncommon for a moving company to move it without the seller even realizing it. Yes, really! The Realtors will try and work it out and if push comes to shove, the lawyers may need to step in as well. Scenario 4: the place is filthy. Hope for but do not expect a clean new home. The sellers may be rushing to get out on time and may not have a chance to pretty up the place for you. Also, People’s definition of clean varies and you may end up having to spend some time cleaning your new home before moving everything in. Scenario 5: Scratches in the floor or in the walls. Scratches and dings are considered normal wear and tear. You may not be buying a brand new home so some imperfections are to be expected. Major damage should be documented, photographed and your lawyer should be notified asap. At this point it becomes a civil matter for the law to resolve. The possibilities for scenarios are endless. I am not trying to scare you. I am just trying to educate you to the possibilities and how I suggest they should be handled. You have chosen to hire professionals. Your Realtor and your lawyer are there to help you if anything should arise. There is no sense it worrying about what may happen and the best thing to do if things do arise is to take a deep breath and roll with the punches. Rest assured that everyone has an interest in seeing things resolved in a proper and timely manner. If I can give one piece of advice to buyers soon to take possession of a new home it would be to not schedule the movers or any type of delivery service or cable guy on closing day. Let’s face it, poop happens and you may not close on time. Give yourself some breathing room and schedule those things a few days later. In any scenario, your real estate professional should be there to advise you on such matters and guide you through it.
With the current lack of inventory of good homes on the market, we are finding ourselves more often than not in multiple offer situations. These are tricky and a good understanding of how these work is key to a successful transaction.
So you have been looking for a new home for an extended period of time and one comes up that is just perfect. You decide to make the big leap by writing an offer. Of course an offer should not be made hastily and your Realtor should do his due diligence by pulling the appropriate title documents as well as finding out what the market says the property is worth by doing a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis).
So far, so good? The next step is for the buyers Realtor to call up the sellers Realtor and ask if there are currently any offers on the property. In the event that there is an active offer, you may still submit a competing offer as long as it respects the deadline imposed by the Realtor with the initial offer. Confused right? Let me clarify. Let’s assume the initial offer was left open till tomorrow at 11pm, you may present a competing offer before that time and it will be presented alongside the initial offer.
So is a competing offer different than a non competing offer? Absolutely! In a regular non competing offer, you may try and start with an offer that is significantly lower to try and get “a deal”. In a competing offer situation, it is recommended to come in with your strongest offer. Playing games and offering much lower than you would like to pay runs the risk of your offer not being considered.
The best advice is to offer the amount that you are most comfortable paying. If your max is “X” amount, your best bet is to offer that. Of course, conditions or lack thereof can make a competitive offer more or less attractive. Let’s assume both offers come in at relatively the same amount, the seller will then look at which one has less conditions. If one offer only has financing condition while the other imposes a financing condition as well as a home inspection, which one would you choose? It is also a good idea to try and accommodate the seller with his requested closing/possession date. Little things may go a long way.
My job is to guide you effectively and make sure you have the appropriate information to make an informed decision. In the end, you may come out on top or you may just have to keep on looking. There are definitely no certainties in life.
Location, Location, Location
This is one of the most important factors in finding a home. You can change almost anything in a home- except where it is. This is the starting point and the foundation for your search.
Here are some points to consider.
• How far will you be commuting to work and what will the traffic be like?
• Where will your children attend school and how will they commute?
• Are there recreational facilities and parks close by?
• Are you close to family and friends?
• Does the neighborhood reflect your lifestyle?
• Access to shopping centres, public transportation, cultural attractions, libraries, churches and hospitals
• Is the property close to an obstacle or negative influence? (i.e. an apartment building, shopping centre, school, radio tower, power lines, LRT or railroad track, highway, airport or commercial project).
• Heavy traffic can be noise nuisance and hazard for children
• Are there plans for this neighborhood that you may be unaware of (i.e. a future highway, a commercial development or a new housing development) that could impact future resale?
Needs and Wants
Similar to the list you use to purchase groceries, why not develop a shopping list of features in a home that you are willing to compromise on and those that you are not. This doesn’t mean you cannot have what you want in your home, but rather, that you have a priority list of the most important features.
You may not be able to obtain all the “want” items on your list, within your budget or you may have to compromise on a few items to stay in line with your budget.
• Adequate square footage • Mountain View
• Enough bedrooms for the family • Large bedroom
• Adequate number of bathrooms • Finished basement
• Lot size to accommodate children’s play area • Granite countertops
• Access to public transport • Built-in entertainment
• Garage or basement for storage • High end appliances
The goal is to try to find the right balance of NEEDS and WANTS when searching for a new home. That is, you will want to look for a home that includes all of your needs, with as many wants as practical, while remaining within your budget.
Once you have this information in hand, your needs will be clearly defined from your wants. Having this knowledge will establish a clear direction for your new home search.
Selling your property requires a huge commitment in time, money and patience. Taking me on in this partnership is the first step in the right direction. I have the knowledge and experience to guide you through this process and get you to that ultimate goal, selling your property for the most amount of money, in the least amount of time and inconvenience. Notice i said “property” and not “home”. Once you make that decision to sell your property, it is no longer a home. This is a business transaction for you, that’s all it is. This house does not define you, nor make you who you are. It is not a piece of you. It is an inanimate object that supplies one essential need, shelter. This is the hardest thing that a Realtor has convince his clients to do, remove emotions from “the transaction”. Are we there yet? No? no worries, baby steps. Let’s take the next step, getting your property ready for the market. You will be competing against the “Jones’s” down the street, on the next block and possibly right next door. Let’s make your property stand out shall we. When we meet for our sellers property listing consultation, I will provide you with a “Listing Guide” which will include things you can do to prepare your property for sale and make it more desirable and hopefully get top dollar. Additionally, I will provide an onsite consultation and provide staging advice as part of my included services. Still hungry for more? No worries. As a Re/Max Realtor, I have access to a great program that was implemented to help sellers evaluate and prepare their property for sale. This program named ” Fit to Sell” includes many informative videos that will provide some great tips and tricks for preparing your property for sale and staging it. Please call me at 403-891-9797 to set up a free, no obligation, in home consultation.
The link directly below will bring you to the RE/MAX Western Canada webpage which contains the main links for these videos along with some other goodies.
Other informative RE/MAX Links:
So you have made the big decision to list your Calgary Home for sale. That’s great. Your Realtor has advised you on changes you may want to implement to make your property visually more appealing and you have worked hard to get your home ready for showings. Every morning before you go to work, you tidy up, make the beds, hide the toys and clean off the counters. The buyer’s Realtors set up the appointments and the showings/visits start. People walk through your home, the Realtors leave their card and this becomes the new routine. Time goes on. No offers. No feedback. The frustration sets in and you start feeling resentment towards the Realtors showing your home that you have worked so hard to prepare and maintain in show home ready condition. What the Heck! You inquire to your Realtor who only responds by saying that he has requested feedback but no one or very few have given it. This only serves to further feed your frustration. Guess what? That was an easy answer and your Realtor needs to do a better job at explaining things to you.
Let’s step back for a second and look at it from the other side. You are the Realtor. You have set up 4 showings for your clients and go visit the homes one after the other. Your clients DO give you feedback on each home, which you may or may not have taken notes on. Can you share these with the sellers. Absolutely not! Privacy Rules dictate that what a client tells you HAS to remain confidential as per the Agency relationship. You are allowed however to give YOUR opinion. Now, is that a good idea? Not in my opinion.
Here is why: When I first started in Real Estate, I was frustrated by the fact that the Condo I had listed was not selling but I was still getting lots of showings. Being diligent, I had done my homework and knew my pricing was right. The Condo showed superbly but still no offers. I turned to the showing Realtors only to have them ignore me for the most part. I shared in the client’s frustration and could not explain why we were not getting any feedback. One day in the office I ran into a seasoned Realtor that had just showed my listing and asked him for feedback on his showing of my Condo. He explained he did not give feedback anymore and continued to explain why. He had provided feedback in one particular case where the home did not show well at all. The Realtor had shared the feedback with his clients and they were not pleased. The clients picked up the card he had left at the showing and called the Realtor directly and proceeded to give him heck! He said that was the last time he would provide feedback. Wow, I had never even thought about the possibility of that but it made perfect sense. My Condo listing did end up selling to the right buyer and I learned a valuable lesson. From now on, I would not ask for feedback from showings but I would explain to my sellers ahead of time why they should not expect any. If feedback was received, I would take care in delivering it in a constructive manner.
Let’s face it folks, feedback may advantageously serve to tell you where your home may need improvement in order to sell. Your Realtor should already be able to advise you on that even prior to receiving any third party feedback.
The important thing to take away from this is in order to sell your home in a timely manner, your Realtor needs to have a strategy and marketing plan in place. The Realtor also needs to prepare you mentally for the “what ifs”. There is no doubt that selling a home is very stressful. Your Realtor must be able to address your concerns to your satisfaction and properly explain the process.
Obtaining a Pre-Approved Mortgage
Why is it important to do this first?
There is nothing more frustrating than falling in love with your dream home and then finding out that you are not able to afford it.
Know exactly what you can spend!
Having a pre-approved mortgage will give you the confidence of knowing exactly what you can spend on a home before you start looking.
Protect yourself by locking in a rate!
Locking in a rate will protect you against interest-rate increases while you look for your new home, while still giving you the opportunity to benefit should the rates decline.
How does pre-approval affect an Offer to Purchase?
Having financing in place can make your offer more attractive to sellers. It puts you in a better negotiating position and lets the Sellers know that you mean business.
What should I do now?
Once you’ve done your homework and shopped for the best rate, meet with a Mortgage Specialist to arrange a pre-approved mortgage and discuss the features you’re looking for to tailor payments to your needs.
How long does it take and what are the costs involved in getting pre-approved?
It could take a few days, but give your lending institution about two weeks. It will eliminate potential headaches down the road. Pre-approval is fast, easy and free.
Pre-approved mortgage features to look for:
• Competitive interest rates. You may be willing to pay a little more to get the flexible features you desire.
• A 90-day rate guarantee. This will protect you against rising interest rates while allowing you to take advantage of falling rates.
• Flexible payment options. These enable you to tailor the mortgage to your lifestyle. Discuss payment frequency and lump-sum payment options. Find out if your lending institution will allow you to skip a payment in special circumstances or double-up on your payments.
• Closing Costs: ask about the lender’s policy with respect to realty tax holdbacks on closing.
If you should require, I can provide you with a list of Mortgage Specialists
who have provided quality service for my clients in the past.
So you have decided to Buy a new home or Sell your current home. Well, you have come to the right place. There is fair amount involved in the process and having the right Realtor is vital to a successful transaction. Any Realtor can provide you with services that will get the job done, but will they get the job done right? My goal is simple. I want to make the process as stress free and enjoyable as possible. All Realtors promise that, don’t they? How many of them truly mean it and follow through? My past clients will tell you that I am a good person, I am available and I really do want to help. On the buying side, my goal is to find you and your family the right home – the objective is not just to “make the sale”. I want your buying experience to be the first step in a long-term relationship. I hope to be your Realtor for Life – helping you again in the future when your real estate needs change. In the end, the greatest compliment I can receive is the opportunity to work with you again and your confidence to refer me to your family, friends and co-workers. On the Selling side, it is my philosophy to listen, hear and truly understand your needs. It is my responsibility to not only understand your needs but respond to them promptly, professionally and with integrity. I believe in working hard at something I love to do, for people who deserve it. Each week, I will blog about the Buying and Selling process, giving tips and tricks to save you money. I will try and make it as entertaining and informative as possible. I will leave you with a story from an Open House in Scenic Acres last week. A couple came into the home and brought along their parents. They looked through the home and left as people usually do. About 30 minutes later a car pulls up in front of the home with tires screeching to a halt. An older man gets out of the car and runs frantically towards the house. He enters the home and says “Did anyone come here wearing my shoes?” I responded with “I can’t say I understand what you are talking about, sir” He goes on to explain that at another open house down the street, someone put on his shoes instead of their own and left. He was wearing another person’s shoes and came to my open house in hopes that someone would have realized their mistake and mentioned it to me. This was a first for me.