A blog cannot deal with all aspects of a subject and is not intended to replace professional advice. It's purpose is to highlight information and identify areas of possible interest. Anyone wishing to discuss this blog or to make any comments or suggestions about this blog is invited to do so by either posting comments or emailing me directly.

 

 
Take a look at this information in these videos:

When you're ready to buy a home, work with an ABR®:
 
 

 

Source: Used under standard YouTube license terms.
 
The difference between an ABR® and a buyer's representative:
 

 

Source: Used under standard YouTube license terms.
 
Why consumers should hire an ABR®:
 

 

Source: Used under standard YouTube license terms.
 
The difference between Customers and Clients:
 

 

Source: Used under standard YouTube license terms.
 
In Alberta, by law, in order to receive buyer representation, you, as a client, must sign a representation agreement with your real estate agent. By Alberta law, if you decline to or fail to sign an agreement, the agent must treat you as a customer. The agent you are working with will get you to acknowledge that fact in writing to show that you have waived your right to representation in the purchase of the property. Yes, even if the seller is represented...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story
Hang on. What's the difference between all the names like agent, REALTOR®, broker, associate, and others that are used so often in real estate? I expect most people assume they're all the same.
 
Quite simply, an agent is any person or entity who is legally licensed to represent another party. The insurance, recruiting, mortgage, and real estate industries all use this agent concept. In real estate, it is a real estate Brokerage (the real estate company) that is the legal agent that represents you – however, the licensed individuals working for the real estate brokerage are often referred to as "real estate agents." Generically, they should be referred to as brokers since they broker transactions between buyers and sellers.
 
To become a licensed real estate agent in Alberta, one must:
  • Have a Canadian high school diploma or equivalent;
  • Have proficiency in English;
  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Satisfactorily pass a criminal record check;
  • Satisfactorily pass the Real...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story
It occurred to me the other day that one of the most important early decisions that you can make when considering purchasing or selling real estate is the selection of a REALTOR®. It's no secret that real estate agents, as a whole, are not really held in high regard, and certainly much of it is well deserved.

 

So how can you meet and talk with a real estate agent without feeling pressured, sold to, or just plain intimidated by them? Other than meeting them in their natural habitat (an open house, a real estate office, when they "call you out of the blue" at meal time) it's really kind of difficult, and frankly too important a decision to leave to chance. Which, by the way, is how many people end up with their real estate agent.

 

One of the reasons that I maintain this and several other real estate information websites is for people to get to know me and a lot about the real estate processes of buying and selling - without the pressure. Over a period of time, you'll get to...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

Why Home Ownership?

Unlike renting, when you buy a home your mortgage payments are helping build your net worth. You’re saving a pool of money you can borrow against a portion of down the road or receive when all you sell.
 
Buying a home is like having a “piggy bank” that pays interest. You build equity over time by: 1. Paying down the mortgage commitment, and 2. Through any increases your home’s value. Home ownership also helps hedge against inflation.
 
Owning your own home gives you the freedom to make your living space your very own and with the satisfaction of knowing that any improvements you make will likely increase the value of your home; benefitting you, not a landlord.
 
Homeownership gives you a sense of stability and security. It is making an investment in your future.

Your Budget

Before you start the search for a new home it’s important to set a budget.
 
Considerations include:
  • Will you need a mortgage?
  • Do you have savings...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

The Top 10 Common Sense Real Estate Negotiating Tips for Buyers

Buying residential real estate is a complex and multi-faceted process. There are challenges and opportunities for negotiation at nearly every step in this process. Using persistence and a great deal of calmness in discussion to reach an agreement may be an unfamiliar skill to many buyers and even with the assistance of an experienced real estate agent, a buyer's emotions may get the better of them since they have a personal stake in the outcome. As a result, it is important for buyers to be armed with some commons sense tips to make the process go more smoothly.
 
For buyers, effective negotiating skills for buyers is something that can't be taken for granted as a known skill in a real estate agent. They often need additional training in this complex task, especially if they haven't worked in an executive level of a company or are newly licensed since the licensing program focusses mainly on seller and their needs. Buyers...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

Who a real estate agent actually works for is one of the most misunderstood topics in real estate. I learned this one through personal experience, one of life’s toughest teachers.

Years ago, my wife and I were driving around looking for one of our very first homes, we came upon a raised rancher with wonderful trees and a spacious yard in our ideal neighbourhood. It was love at first sight and we couldn’t stop thinking about living in that home! We wanted to see inside it so we called the real estate agent who’s name was on the sign to make an appointment. We just made the Number One mistake home buyers make! The agent whose name is on the real estate sign works for the seller. They are called the Listing Agent and their job is to get the best deal for the seller, not you!
 
We ended up writing an offer with this agent, not knowing that we could have had our own Buyer’s Agent at no additional cost to us. We did not have an advocate looking out for our best interests...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

What would you do if you had an income tax or legal question regarding $200,000?

Who would you contact? Yes, most of us would find the best accountant or lawyer we could find! A home purchase often far exceeds $200,000 and many buyers don’t take it as seriously as they would a legal or tax concern.
 
Finding a Buyers Agent should be one of the very first steps you should take before you go finding a home. Let's look in more detail at what an exceptional Buyers Agent will do for you:
  • Represent you and your best interests, not the sellers
  • Respond honestly and accurately to your questions
  • Help you create a plan based on your wants and needs to find you the perfect home
  • Refer you to a lender or mortgage broker that has access to either first-time home buyer programs and/or trade-up buyer programs to find the most favourable loan for your particular situation
  • Using the criteria you provide, they search all possible listings and properties
  • With their experience they can point out the...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story
Most consumers know that if they want to “hire” a real estate broker/agent to sell their home and represent their interests, they are going to sign a contract. REALTORS® are not allowed to list a property for sale without one. The contract clearly spells out the terms of the agreement including the duration of time, the compensation the agent will earn and when, who the agent represents and each party’s responsibilities.
 
While buyer brokerage is not a new concept – it has been legal in Alberta since the mid-1990s and a few years ago (in 2006) real estate laws that govern agent-consumer relationships were updated to further ensure consumer protection – many buyers and some agents still don’t understand the benefits to both parties that a written Buyer Brokerage Agreement affords.
 
In Alberta, an exclusive representation is only permitted with a written agreement. So until the agent has a written agreement with a client, they (the Buyer)...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

It's one of the most disappointing things that a homebuyer can experience: suddenly having their home loan denied because of something they have done in the weeks or maybe even just days before closing.

These are the 10 most costly mistakes to avoid in the process of acquiring financing for a new home. Follow these 10 commandments and the financing process will go smoothly:
  1. Do not omit debts or other liabilities from your loan application.
  2. Do not cause any more inquiries into your credit after you have made the loan application.
  3. Do not buy furniture or major appliances – not yet! Not until you have taken possession of your new home.
  4. Do not buy or lease a car, truck or SUV before you take possession of your new home -- or you might be living in it.
  5. Do not change jobs, become self-employed, or quit your job until you have taken possession of your new home.
  6. Do not charge your credit cards excessively or let your accounts fall behind.
  7. Do not spend the money you have set aside for your...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

What to watch for during the home inspection process and how to use this process to ensure that the home you wish to purchase does not have major repair issues.

You certainly don't want to find skeletons in the closet after you move into your new house. Even the most beautiful home may have big problems hidden behind the walls, in the attic, or the foundation. And some might be serious safety concerns. That's why it's important for buyers to have a third-party, licensed inspector to look at the house while they still have the option to back out of the deal or the ability to negotiate repairs with the seller.
 
Now, it's important for buyers to know that it's the home inspector's job to be extremely picky about everything, even anything remotely wrong with the house. The typical inspection report is page long and can look scary. What you're really for though is the condition of the major systems of the home, and anything that may be a safety issue. If those do pop up in a home inspection,...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

Know the True Value Of Your Next Home – Is the home worth the price, or not?

When buying just about anything, most people compare the prices of things to make sure they aren't paying too much. But you may be surprised to find out that it's uncommon for a real estate agent to provide this information to their client when they're buying a home. Sellers almost always get a Comparative Market Analysis when selling their home, but when you mention a Buyer's Market Analysis you often get a puzzled look.
 
A Buyer's Market Analysis, or BMA, is used to help you - the buyer - determine the market value and price of the potential home that you would like to purchase. I use a BMA because it is just as important, if not more so, to determine the market value of the home and whether the market in that neighbourhood is going up or down. This can only be done by creating a thorough BMA. This will help you determine a reasonable price to offer the seller and how much how much negotiation leverage...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

A Home Appraisal is a Critical Part of the Home Buying Process: What to do every time to get good appraisals.

One of the most important steps of the home buying process is the appraisal. If the appraised value does not meet or exceed the sales prices, the entire transaction can fall apart! That's why it is important to work with a fully trained and experienced real estate agent whose going to make sure that you aren't overpaying for a home. Here's how it works: In a home sale, the lender - for the buyer - is going to order the appraisal. Now since the property is usually the only colateral for the mortgage loan, the lender wants to make sure that the property is actually worth what is being paid for it. If the appaisal comes in below the sales price, the lender will refuse to fund the loan or ask for additional monies for the downpayment to make up that shortfall. Every lender has their own pool of licensed appraisers that they choose from at random. The chosen appraisers job is to determine...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story
A house is often one of the biggest investments most Canadians ever make, so it’s important to plan ahead, think about what you need in a home ,and what you can afford. Here are some of the mistakes that first-time buyers often make:

Not getting pre-approved before home shopping

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a fundamental first-step in the buying home process and signals to your agent that you’re serious about buying. Many short-sighted agents won't even start providing you with services until you are formally pre-approved to purchase. Once you are formally approved, keep in mind that the amount they communicate to you is the absolute maximum amount the lender feels you can afford for mortgage principal and interest based on your income, expenses and credit score. This figure doesn’t account for other expenses you may face such as: renovations or emergency home repair, as well as regular household costs such as food, clothing, entertainment, transportation and...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

A Buyer's Representative can help you decide.

The decision to purchase a home is a highly personal one, based on both tangible and intangible factors. Beyond your personal situation, local market conditions, financing costs, and future expectations must also be evaluated.
 
The following list of questions can help you decide if you are ready to move forward with a home purchase. An Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR®) can help you sort through these issues and provide essential local market perspectives. Most will offer this initial consultation free of charge.

Purchasing Considerations

  • If you purchase a home, how long do you expect to live there?
  • What can you afford to pay each month for housing related expenses?
  • What are the total costs of home ownership? This may include:
    • Mortgage payments (Principal + interest; based on various interest rate and term assumptions)
    • Property taxes
    • Homeowner's insurance
    • Utilities
    • Maintenance costs
    • Any other special fees - like home owner's ...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story
Homes - Deposit MoneyThe deposit for a home in a real estate contract can also be referred to as "Earnest Money." Oftentimes, the Offer to Purchase has an initial deposit and then an additional deposit due at a future, predetermined time. However, there are cases where a deposit isn't even needed to make a real estate contract binding and enforcable. The "promise to pay" the purchase price and signing "under seal" can satisfy the requirement of contracts for consideration. (This may not be the same case in all jurisdictions).
 
Let's look at the deposit issue from both the Seller's and the Buyer's point of view...
 
The Seller's Perspective:
    • A larger deposit would tend to indicate a qualified and more serious Buyer.
    • If the Buyer firms up the contract, (i.e. removes all their conditions) then if the Buyer can't close the deal and take possession, then the Seller may get to keep all or a portion of the deposit in damages.
    • The higher the amount of deposit submitted (initial and additional, combined) it...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story

We're asked this question quite often, so you're not alone.

Closing costs explained"Closing costs" is a term that you will likely hear often in your real estate transaction, whether you are buying or selling a home. The "closing costs" are the costs paid for at the end of the transaction at your lawyer's office. Many of them are directly related to the legal fees, property tax adjustments, land transfer fees, mortgage fees, etc. and generally add up to between $800 and $2,000 for the Buyer and $600 to $1,500 for the Seller - depending upon the transaction and the legal firm selected.
 
Other jurisdictions may have additional costs or may not involve lawyers in the real estate transaction (they use "Title Companies" and refer to a concept of "Escrow"). As always, you should verify this discussion within the context or your own jurisdiction.
 
A much better discussion involves the total costs included in buying or selling real estate. These costs are many and which is why it is not advisable to be "flipping"...
Post CommentComments: 0Read Full Story