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Tips for Paying Down Your Mortgage in Edmonton

Sat, 15 Dec by edmonton-homesearch

If you are a homeowner in Edmonton, here are some tips to enable you to increase your equity position more rapidly:

1. Increase the frequency of your regular mortgage payments. By repaying your mortgage according to an accelerated bi-weekly plan [where once a year, you make an extra 2 week payment], a 25 year mortgage is paid out in less than 20 years, saving you thousands of dollars in interest.
2. Increase your mortgage payment by $15 [or more] every two weeks and you will be pleasantly surprised to learn how much interest you will save over time! If your circumstances change, most lenders will allow you to revert to the original amount.
3. Once a year [perhaps when your income tax refund cheque comes back], make a substantial cash payment and it will go directly against your remaining principal. More equity, less interest payable! It makes perfect sense.

Why make the bank’s bottom line look better when you can dramatically improve your personal financial picture by taking a few simple steps along the way?

Tips for Homeowners in Edmonton

Wed, 05 Dec by edmonton-homesearch

If you own a home in Edmonton, there are some simple steps you can take to save you money and ensure your safety.

First, once a year have your furnace, hot water heater and gas fireplaces inspected by your gas supplier. It is a free service that must be scheduled in advance. If there are any difficulties, they will be identified to you. It is a good idea to pre-purchase a couple of 36 inch Honeywell Thermo-couplers (about $9 each at Home Hardware) and have these available. If one is needed at the time of inspection or later when an appliance shuts down, the gas company technician will replace it at no additional charge. Without it, you will face a $75 charge! Obviously, it is a good investment.

Second, ensure that your smoke alarms are in working order. Test them frequently. It could save your life!

Third, make sure that you have a carbon monoxide detector properly installed near any gas appliance. CO is the ‘silent killer’ and you don’t want to be another victim.

Fourth, check the weather stripping around all exterior doors. If you can see daylight looking from the insight out, it is time to change them. They should not be painted over as this will harden them and nullify their effectiveness.

Fifth, check on the amount of attic insulation you have. Adding several inches is reasonably affordable and will greatly reduce your heat loss and your monthly bill.

Sixth, consider upgrading your inefficient older gas furnace with a new high efficient one. It will save you money over the long haul and will make your home more sale-able should that become an issue.

Seventh, before winter arrives, check the caulking around all windows. Re-caulk where necessary. It will seal possible heat loss from the home.

Eighth, consider replacing your windows with energy-efficient ones. The monthly gas savings will be noticeable! Again, it will increase the price you will receive should you decide to sell.

Ninth, if you have a wood-burning fireplace, have it regularly inspected by a certified professional. Have the chimney cleaned regularly.

Tenth, check the grading around the house. If it has sunk and the rainwater accumulates around the foundation, expect leaking and expensive-to-repair problems are near at hand. Create a positive flow away from the house by getting some clay and redoing the landscaping around the foundation. Lengthen the downspouts and make sure the water runs AWAY from the house.

Finally, it is important to have a certified electrician check out your wiring–particularly if you are purchasing a home and that home has aluminum wiring A home inspector provides this service although you might want a second opinion if there appears to be potential problems.

Eleventh, clean the house gutters at least once a year and ensure that they are running with blockages or leaks.

Twelfth, if you have wood windows, make sure that they are painted on a regular basis. A little time spent in such maintenance will length their lifespan and function by years.

Edmonton home owners, a little time spent in regular maintenance and inspection can provide you with many worry-free years in your home!

First Time Edmonton Home Buyers

Thu, 15 Nov by edmonton-homesearch

Concerned about the mortgage crisis south of the border, the Canadian government is seriously considering implementing making more stringent qualification criteria. Two major changes are at the forefront: 1. Lowering the maximum time to pay out a mortgage [called the ‘amortization’ period] from 35 to 30 years. In practical terms, take a $200,000 mortgage at 4.2% interest. A 35 year amortization period would yield a principal plus interest payment of $905.30. Reduce the amortization period to 30 years and the monthly payment rises to $973.80–over $2.00 per day increased payment.

The second major change being considered is increasing the minimum 5% cash down-payment to $10%. On a $300,000 payment, a qualified buyer would have to have at least $15,000 of cash to put towards a mortgage. In the new scenario, that minimum cash downpayment would increase to $30,000. For many buyers, getting in to their new home would either become impossible or much delayed as they set about to save up an additional 5%.

If you are considering buying a home in Edmonton this year, sooner is better than later given these changes and the possibility of a 4-5% increase in home prices in 2010.

I would be happy to assist you in getting you safely and satisfactorily into your new home!

Keys to Selling Your Home In Edmonton, Alberta

Mon, 05 Nov by edmonton-homesearch

On April 21, 2011 in Edmonton proper, there were 4,421 single family homes and condos for sale in Edmonton proper; if the surrounding satellite towns are factored in, the number rises to 6,278.  In the last 30 days, 994 properties have sold in Edmonton and a further 463 in the satellite towns.  Why is it that some properties are selling quickly and others are on the market for an extended period of time in spite of some price adjustments.

The answer to this important question is a key to selling your home.  There are a few factors to grasp.  First and foremost, the real estate market is extremely price-sensitive.  With so many homes for sale, buyers have the luxury to look at many homes before they make a final decision.  After viewing a handful of homes, most buyers conclude that there are some inferior homes that are over-priced for the marketplace.  Their opinion is based on location [quiet or noisy, commercial properties or major roadways nearby, etc],  general appearance of the exterior and interior of the home [“This home has great potential but will require a lot of work to restore it to its potential‘], and the price.  Many buyers are prepared to pay top dollar for a home that presents itself as ‘a cut above the rest.’  That being said, there are another whole group of people who are looking for ‘fixer-uppers’ so they can put in the sweat equity and then flip them for a profit.  However, these investor/buyers will only make an offer on such a home if ‘the price is right.’

Second, the marketing of that home is critical to its appeal to the buying public.  Perhaps a majority of qualified buyers view homes on the internet long before they ask a realtor to show them that property.  Therefore it is crucial that a seller ascertain the number of websites on which their property will receive worldwide attention.  My sellers will find their properties on at least four websites: www. [The national site of the Canadian Real Estate Association]; and Buyers will often discard some properties just on the basis of the pictures and description they find on the internet.  Correct spelling and grammar, accurate information, quality pictures, justifiable descriptions all contribute to a probable showing.

However, I have had some buyers walk into a home that had excited them beforehand to experience major disappointment!  ’Am I in the right house?‘ they ask.  ‘The pictures and description paint a much different story than the home is prepared to offer!’ they groan.  I haven’t met a buyer yet who appreciates the ‘smoke and mirrors treatment‘.  If a home needs a lot of cosmetic repairs, it is grossly unfair to the incoming buyer to describe it as a home that shows ‘extremely well.’   Honesty up-front in pricing and description can off-set the negative reactions that can be so easily expressed.

Taking some time to unclutter [pre-pack!], paint, clean and repair the home prior to listing it can pay big dividends later on.  Remember, with so many competing listings trying to attract a qualified buyer, sellers must be realistic in pricing and expectations knowing full well that superior homes properly priced will attract immediate attention.  A ‘Sold!’ sign will be posted on the front lawn in a short time if the keys to selling a home in Edmonton are diligently applied!

Sellers Have Options When Listing A Property

Fri, 05 Oct by edmonton-homesearch

There are several models that sellers can choose when selling their place of residence in Edmonton.  They can sell by owner, sell with a discount brokerage, sell on the Multiple Listing Service with a mere posting or they can sell with a full-service brokerage.  Some fees-for-service are involved with each model depending largely on the range of services provided.

For many sellers, listing their home for sale is a march into unknown territory.  They are unclear about important details like the marketing and sales process, the legal and financial risks, the options along the way, the legal contracts and their wording, the offer presentation, the deposits, the conditions, and so forth.  The questions cascade through their minds: What do i need to do to get my home ready for sale?  What should I do with my valuables?  What is a fair asking price for my property in a fluid marketplace?  How do I know if a potential buyer who wants to view the house is in fact qualified to do so?  If a buyer brings a purchase contract to me, how do I know whether or not my interests are protected?  How much of an initial deposit should I request and to whom is that deposit made out?  How do I negotiate a fair selling price since I have little or no experience in that important phase of the sale?  How do i know that my interests are clearly being protected along the way?  The questions are endless and the cause of sleepless nights!

Precisely because of these important questions, the seller must answer the question–How much representation and service will I require to sell my home and still keep my sanity?

If a seller chooses to sell by owner or to list on the Edmonton Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service with a mere posting [the listing appears but is unrepresented by an agent], they have chosen to walk down the road by themselves.  This can be a risky choice filled with potential heartache if some glitch occurs along the way with which they are unfamiliar.  At the least, such sellers should seek legal opinion from a real estate lawyer beforesigning any documents.

Even if they have been down that road before, many, for peace of mind, will still choose to rest behind a third party (ie., an experienced real estate agent)  and the promise of fair representation.  They want the assistance of a trusted professional to guide them safely through the myriad of details to a successful conclusion.  At this point, they will have two alternatives: the use of a discount brokerage or the use of a more traditional brokerage.  The difference largely revolves around the amount of commission being assessed.

Again, the savvy seller should be quite certain, before making a final choice, about the level of service each alternative will offer.  Will he/she provide a list of several clients who have recently used his/her services so that the seller can verify the facts?  What will be the specifics of an on-going aggressive and effective marketing campaign? Will there be regular progress updates from the listing agent? Will there be helpful feedback and suggestions following showings?  Will the listing agent handle all inquiries about the property?  Will he be present for all offer presentations?  Will he/she adequately answer the question, ‘What advantages and disadvantages will I face if I offer the defined commission structure being recommended’?

After all, the old adage, ‘You get what you pay for’ probably applies!  Therefore, satisfy yourself that the real estate goal of yours – to sell your home as quickly as possible for top dollar with a minimum of disruption to your life–will be accomplished by the model you choose!

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Sun, 30 Sep by edmonton-homesearch

Did you know that carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in Canada. Since 2002, 35 people have died in Alberta from the poisonous gas?   Because it has no smell or color, carbon monoxide has been called the ‘silent killer.’

Did you know that a $40-$80 investment can largely prevent you or your family from becoming another tragic statistic?

Become educated by reading an excellent article by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation that is available online at
Surely an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of remorse!

Edmonton Real Estate and ‘Dower Rights’

Wed, 05 Sep by edmonton-homesearch

If you are considering selling a home in Edmonton or area, there are some important details to keep in mind.  A legally married spouse cannot sell their place of residence without the consent of the other spouse.  A ‘legally married’ couple includes a separated couple who is not yet legally divorced; it does not include common law relationships.  It may include same-sex couples.

The ‘Dower Act’ kicks in when the seller is legally married but there is only ONE NAME on TITLE and either the seller and his/her spouse has resided in that property at any time since the marriage [even one night there is enough to trigger dower rights!].

In order for a ‘one name on title’ home to sell where the seller is legally married, the spouse not on title will have to sign a Dower Consent and Acknowledgment at the time the Listing Contract is signed, at the Time when an Offer to Purchase is in the works and when the Land Transfer is being finalized.

Obviously, one would want to consult with their Alberta Real Estate lawyer to understand their rights BEFORE signing any document!

Factors to Consider in Buying an Older Home

Fri, 17 Aug by edmonton-homesearch

There is a certain charm about older homes that captivates the interest of many people. Perhaps it is because of the ‘nostalgia’ factor–’Look Jim, this is just like the home my grandparents use to live in!’ In fact, the first home for many young people might, in fact, be their grandparent’s home! As well, there are people who seek out these older homes as a ‘renovate and restore’ project. Still others are drawn to them because of their dislike of the ‘burbs.’

Whatever the reason, there are certain questions that must be asked in advance of a purchase that will avoid a lot of heartache down the road. First, does the home have lead water pipes leading into it? Edmonton has recently noted that a certain percentage of older homes are displaying a significant level of lead in their water. They have suggested getting the water tested to determine the levels of lead, running the water before usage to flush the lead out and, perhaps best of all, replace the lead pipes altogether [with the homeowners portion ringing in at about $5,000.

Second, does the home have asbestos insulation [including vermiculite] or floor tiles or siding or heating tape? Left undisturbed, the problem may not be particularly dangerous. But once asbestos is disturbed and becomes airborne fibres, the risk is significant. If renovations are probable, a professional company should be hired to safely remove all asbestos from the home?

Third, is there significant carbon monoxide leakage coming from cracked insulation in the existing furnace? Even if the levels are insignificant, a carbon monoxide detector should be properly installed and an annual furnace check scheduled to offset this serious problem.

Fourth, has the electrical service been upgraded to 100 amps? It is difficult to get home insurance on a home with a 60 amp service, for example. Upgrading this to acceptable levels can be costly.

Fifth, if renovations or additions have been done by a previous owner, have all of the necessary permits been secured and were they followed up by a proper inspection by the City of Edmonton? If not, why not?

Finally, does the home come complete with a current Real Property Report with a City of Edmonton compliance stamp attached? This document is absolutely critical to the peace of mind of the new owner to say nothing about the financing company that will require it! If the new homeowner has to supply it and problems are identified by the survey company or the city compliance branch, the costs to remedy the situation can be substantial.

It is better do your due diligence in advance than face the surprises that may surface after the deal has closed!

Buying an Older Home in Edmonton

Fri, 10 Aug by edmonton-homesearch

There has been a resurgence of interest among young couples in residing in more mature neighbourhoods in the city. Affordability is one drawing factor. Where once the school populations were declining with the aging population, now with the arrival of young families the school populations have mushroomed once again.

When considering a move into a mature neighbourhood, there are some important factors to keep in mind. What are the crime statistics in the area? What are the long-range city development plans for the neighbourhood? Future roadways, Light Rapid Transit and the like that may influence your decision! What amenities are readily available–schools, churches, doctors, dentists, fire and police stations, recreation facilities, shopping malls, bus transportation? What is the re-sale record of homes in the area? How well are the adjacent yards and homes maintained? Is there an active community league operating in the area? What positive and negative factors about the neighbourhood can you compile?

Some of these questions can be answered by referring to the Edmonton City Police website, or calling the City of Edmonton Development Branch. Others can be ascertained by talking to potential neighbours or having your realtor do a community real estate analysis of comparable homes.

Doing some constructive due diligence in advance can lead to some wise decision-making and long-term satisfaction!

Interesting Facts About Edmonton #2

Sun, 17 Jun by edmonton-homesearch

Consider some more intriguing facts about our capital city:

1.  It is thought that, in 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer working for the Hudson’s Bay Company, was the first European to visit the Edmonton area.  Appropriately, the long sought-after ring road around Edmonton which is currently under construction, bears his name.

2.  Ron Hayter, from Ward 2, is the longest serving councillor in Edmonton’s history.  He has served continuously since 1971.

3.  Matthew McCauley was the first mayor of Edmonton when it was incorporated as a town in 1892.  He was instrumental in establishing the first school board and the first municipal police force.  There is a neighbourhood in Edmonton between the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Commonwealth Stadium named after him.

4.  In the 2006 census, people with European roots formed the largest cluster of ethnicity in Edmonton.  They were mostly of English, Scottish, German, Irish, Ukrainian and French origins.

5.  If Mill Woods, a community in SE Edmonton, were a separate municipality, it would be Edmonton’s third largest city.

6.  Edmonton has a semi-arid continental climate with extreme seasonal temperatures, milder though than either Winnipeg or Regina which are both situated further south.  Average daily temperatures range from -11.7 degrees Centigrade in January to 17.5 degrees Centigrade in July.  However temperatures exceed 30 degrees C for at least 4 days each year and plummet to -20 degrees C or less for an average of 28 days each year.

7.  Edmonton averages 140 frost-free days a year [May 24-Sept. 23].

8.  The Edmonton tornado in 1987 touched down 6 times, killing 27 people and causing more than $250 million in property damage.

9.  Edmonton is one of Canada’s premier research and education centers.  The University of Alberta, the Alberta Research Council, the Edmonton Research Park and the National Institute for Nanotechnology are part of this exciting leading edge development.

10.  The Francis Winspear Center for Music is one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in Canada and is home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

11.  Fort Edmonton Park, nestled in the river valley along the North Saskatchewan River, is Canada’s largest living history museum.  If you want to take a step back in time, beginning with a steam locomotive ride, this is the place to be during the spring and summer.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.