The Most Amazing Real Estate Lawyer EVER. @agkeirstead

How many Realtors can tell you that they use a lawyer that closes a deal before noon, and makes sure that your commissions make it to the brokerage and get paid out on the same day of the possession? I CAN and his name is Andrew Keirstead. Andrew is a fantastic guy and I constantly receive rave reviews from my clients who are smart enough to take my advice and use him for closing theie Real Estate transactions. Andrew has been a huge asset to my Calgary Real Estate Business and I would highly recommend him for yours. Andrew also does Civil Litigation as well as Wills and Estates. Don’t let his diversification fool you…..he is EXELLENT at his job. Andrew can be reached at 403 271 3221 Firm name is Thornborough Smeltz see more here: http://www.thornsmeltz.com/bio_agk.html

If you are thinking of buying or selling this is only one of the reasons to work with us. We have aligned ourselves with the best service providers in the industry. I always say: “Over the years we have weeded out all of the boneheads” LOL! If you are making a move it is your Realtor’s job to make it as smooth and easy as possible.

Calgary / Okotoks Real Estate Heating Up!

So far this morning I have personally SOLD 3 homes. 2 listings Conditionally Sold and one buyer bought. In speaking with Dave Eger of CIR Realty’s South Calgary Office he did mention that he had been involved in a few multiple offer situations this week. In Okotoks Real Estate there were 9 homes reported as Conditionally SOLD at one point this last week.

The time is right for buyers to act. Between now and spring of 2012 is a great time for buyers to jump into the market inorder to buy at the lowest prices offered in the last 4 years or so, and also take advantage of the interest rates being offered at the lowest rates in any of our lifetimes.

If you know of somebody looking to upgrade the time is right. Sell a little low but buy back in the same market, and gain. If you are thinking of upgrading and wait for the market to get better, don’t forget that you will be paying more for your purchase and you will be losing overall.

If you are downsizing, and are not in a big rush to move, maybe you should be waiting for a slightly better market to benefit form selling higher. Even though you may pay slightly more, you may benefit overall from waiting to sell at higher prices. If you need to move keep in mind that a good agent will work hard to get you the most amount of money for the sale of your existing home, and then work hard to negotiate the lowest price possible for your new purchase. A good REALTOR is going to be well worth the fees they charge to sell your home. Key word: “good” lol.

First time buyers and people looking to upgrade their homes should get off the fence and get moving before hte market increases. Alberta is going to boom again. 

Correct me if I am wrong.

Tom.

Helpful Buyer’s Hint….

One of the best things you can do to ensure you get the home you want is to arrange for financing before you go shopping. This is often referred to as getting “pre-approved”. Getting pre-approved simply means that your lender has calculated how much of a mortgage they’re willing to offer you, depending on your down payment and current financial situation.  There are two advantages to having a pre-approved mortgage. First, you know exactly what you can afford when shopping for a new home. Second, when you make an offer, you’re likely to be taken more seriously. 

We’d be happy to connect you with a great mortgage broker before you go out shopping!  Call us today.

Home shopping should be FUN!

Shopping for a home doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. In fact, with a little planning, you can make the entire process fun for
everyone – even if there are kids involved.

Here are some tips for doing just that:

• Get the whole family involved in deciding what kind of home you should consider. The more everyone, especially kids, feel a part of the process, the more likely they are to adjustwell to the idea of moving.

• Easy does it. Don’t see too many properties at one time. Feeling burnt out after viewing the tenth home on a Saturday afternoon will impact your judgement. Your fatigue might cause you to pass on a property that is actually a good fit.

• Kids often enjoy the first viewing of a new home, but are generally less interested in the second and third visits. So when you’re going back to take a closer look at a property before you submit an offer, consider leaving your children with a babysitter.

• Look for a good fit, not for perfection. You probably have an idea in your head of your perfect home. There’s nothing wrong with that! Just keep an open mind when you look at what’s available on the market.

• Work with a REALTOR® who can make the entire process of searching for and buying a home go smoothly for you.

Do you have a question about how to find your next dream home in today’s market? Call us today.

Saving Money – A guide to saving thousands of dollars when buying a home

Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make, and by following some simple guidelines you can stand to save thousands of dollars. If you’re like most people shopping for a home you’re probably trying to match a home that fits your needs perfectly, with the lowest possible price.

When looking for a home yourself, it’s important to know how previous successful homebuyers have purchased their homes for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price. Skills like negotiation are handy, but the fundamentals are often overlooked. This report will cover the following:

  • Steps for saving thousands when you buy a home
  • How sellers price their homes

Some simple steps that will save your thousands when you purchase a home

Going into the home-buying process with some basic knowledge in the area can make all the difference. The following are some simple, but often overlooked, points that every homebuyer should take into account.

Be sure about what you want

This seems like a simple point, but many people make the mistake of confusing what they need with what they desire. Obviously the goal of shopping around is to find a property that fulfills both, but it’s important to know that in the real world this situation doesn’t always occur.

When the purchase price of an item exceeds $10,000, people commonly let emotion and desire play a big role in their decision-making processes. When you’re looking at home you’ll find that you’re drawn to certain properties for completely different reasons; some based on needs, and other based on desires. Is it better to buy the house with the basement suite for rental possibilities, or the one with more bedrooms to better accommodate a growing family? Many people make the wrong decision at this step and end up regretting their purchase for years.

It’s vital that you satisfy your needs first, and your desires second. Oftentimes writing down both can aid in the home-buying process.

Shopping with powerful help

You should make sure that your agent offers a buyer profile system to get you all MLS listings that meet your exact requirements. Using one of these systems can greatly increase your chances of finding that perfect home as you will be made aware of all existing and new listings that meet your requirements.

Understand how sellers set their asking price

Sellers price their homes in several different categories and it’s important to consult your agent about the price of a property. Keep in mind that roughly 75% of all homes on the market are priced 5-10% above fair market value.

Stop Paying Rent – A guide to becoming a homeowner rather than a home-renter

From basement suites to full houses, renting is a huge business in this country. If you currently rent, you know that paying out those hundreds of dollars every month to line the pockets of your landlord is not a pleasant task. However, like most renters you probably feel stuck in a home that isn’t even yours simply because you can’t save up that down payment for your own home.

This report contains details on how you can stop paying rent and start contributing to your own financial future, rather than that of your landlord. By knowing some valuable information about the Real Estate industry, as well as some tips and tricks about property ownership, you’ll be able to start on the road from renting to owning. This report will tell you how you can:

  • Save for a down payment for your property
  • Make best use of your financial institution, and other loan sources
  • Consider reversing the rental roles

7 Little-known Facts That Can Help You Purchase Your First Home

Purchasing your first home can be challenging. Your monthly cash flow may easily cover the proposed mortgage costs, but perhaps accumulating the down payment is what you find difficult. Or maybe you have financial reserves, but cash flow is what’s holding you back. Whatever the reasons, purchasing a new property can still be accomplished, regardless of your financial standing. Consider the following facts:

The down payment on your property doesn’t have to be as large as you think

Several programs exist to help first-time buyers enter the property market. These programs require that you have never purchased a home before, and that you meet basic qualification standards. It is important that you consult a professional Real Estate agent who is familiar with these programs, so that you may make best use of them.

In some areas it is also possible to assume a mortgage. If this is an option in your area, your Real Estate agent will be able to perform search on listings requiring small to no down payments.

Your lender may help you with your down payment and closing costs

Depending on your financial standing, you may have assets worth equal to or more than your needed down payment. If this is the case, your financial institution may be willing to lend you the extra cash needed for your down payment, while securing it against your assets.

The seller may assist you in purchasing your home

Some sellers may be willing to lend you money to purchase the home. This is known as a ‘seller take-back’ and is essentially a loan from the seller to the buyer. Instead of your monthly mortgage payments going to a financial institution, they would go directly to the seller. This loan works in exactly the same way as any other, and is subject to the rules and regulations outlined upon instantiation.

You may be able to borrow without going into debt

Options exist for you to borrow for certain investments to a specified level, and using those investments to leverage a significant tax return. This process can be further coupled with a first-time homebuyer’s plan, and turned into significant equity.

You can also borrow against savings in an RRSP, and if repaid in a certain time period, avoid any interest payments.

While purchasing, consider becoming a landlord yourself

If you’re interested in subsidizing your mortgage payments with some supplemental income, why not consider becoming a landlord yourself? Houses and condos with extra bedrooms and living facilities are often not much more expensive than those without. If you have been pre-approved for a mortgage that allows you to purchase a larger property, why not consider renting out the extra space and having a tenant pay your mortgage?

You may be able to secure a loan even with a lower credit rating

Oftentimes it is possible to secure a loan, even with a poor credit rating. If you have enough equity to borrow against, your financial institution may consider lending you money to purchase a home.

It is also possible to use a ‘seller take-back’ loan for the purchase, using the seller as the lender.

Secure a mortgage before you begin your searching

Before you begin looking for a property, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. It is important to make sure that you know your budget, as well as your monthly payments to make sure that they are within your means. Enlisting the help of a professional mortgage specialist is a good idea when it comes to locating a loan that meets your needs. Oftentimes a professional will be able to locate more competitive mortgage rates than those offered by a single financial institution. There is usually no obligation, and the benefits of knowing your buying power while shopping for your home reduce stress and wasted time.

Where to go from here?

This report is designed to illustrate that you have options other than paying large monthly payments to your landlord. It is clear that with a little creativity and help from a Real Estate professional, you can make the break from renting to owning.

Make sure to consider your options – this report is not designed to make you feel obligated to purchase a home. If you’re interested in more information, please contact your Real Estate agent.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay on Closing Costs?

Whether you’re looking to buy your first home, or trading up to a larger one, there are many costs – on top of the purchase price – that you must figure into your calculation of affordability. These extra fees, such as taxes and other additional costs, could surprise you with an unwanted financial nightmare on closing day if you’re not informed and prepared.

Some of these costs are one-time fixed payments, while others represent an ongoing monthly or yearly commitment. Not all of these costs will apply in every situation, however it’s better to know about them ahead of time so you can budget properly.

Remember that buying a home is a major milestone. Whether it’s your first, second or tenth home, there are many important details to address during the process. The last thing you need is unbudgeted financial obligations cropping up hours before you take possession of your new home.

Read through the following checklist to make sure you’re budgeting properly for your next move.

Appraisal Fee

Your lending institution may request an appraisal of the property, which would be your responsibility to pay for. Appraisals can vary in price from approximately $175 -$300.

Property Taxes

Depending on your down payment, your lending institution may decide to include your property taxes in your monthly mortgage payments. If your property taxes are not added to your monthly payments, your lending institution may require annual proof that your taxes have been paid.

Survey Fee

When the home you purchase is a resale (vs. a new home), your lending institution may ask for an updated property survey. The cost for this survey can vary between $700- $1,000.

Property Insurance

Home insurance covers the replacement value of your home (structure and contents). Your lending institution will request proof that you are insured as it protects their investment on the loan.

Service Charges

Any new utility that services your hook up, such as telephone or cable, may require an installation fee.

Legal Fees

Even the simplest of home purchases should have a lawyer involved to review all paperwork. Shop around, as rates vary greatly depending on the complexity of the issues and the experience of the lawyer.

Mortgage Loan Insurance Fee

Depending upon the equity in your home, some mortgages require mortgage loan insurance. This type of insurance will cost you between 0.5% -3.5% of the total amount of the mortgage. Usually payments are made monthly in addition to your mortgage and tax payment.

Mortgage Brokers Fee

A mortgage broker is entitled to charge you a fee in order to source a lender and organize the financing. However, it pays to shop around because many mortgage brokers will provide their services free to you by having the lending institution absorb the cost.

Moving Costs

The cost for a professional mover can cost you in the range of:

$50-$100/hour for a van and 3 movers, and

10-20% higher during peak demand seasons.

Maintenance Fees

Condos charge monthly fees for common area maintenance such as grounds keeping and carpet cleaning in hallways. Costs will vary depending on the building.

Water Quality and Quality Certification

If the home you purchased is serviced by a well, you should consider having your water checked by your local experts. Depending upon where you live, determines whether or not a fee is charged, to certify the quantity and quality of the water.

Local Improvements

If the town you live in has made local improvements (such as the addition of sewers or sidewalks), this could impact a property’s taxes by thousands of dollars.

Land Transfer Tax

This tax is applied whenever property changes hands and the amount that is applied can vary.

9 Buyer Traps and How to Avoid Them

No matter which way you look at it buying a home is a major investment. For many homebuyers however, it can be an even more expensive process than it needs to be because many fall prey to at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes which trap them into either:

  • paying too much for the home they want, or
  • losing their dream home to another buyer, or
  • (worse) buying the wrong home for their needs.

A systemized approach to the home buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the home that’s best for you.

This important report discusses the nine most common and costly of these homebuyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do to avoid them.

Bidding Blind

What price should you offer when you bid on a home? Is the seller’s asking price too high, or does it represent a great deal. If you fail to research the market in order to understand what comparable homes are selling for, making your offer would be like bidding blind. Without this knowledge of market value, you could easily bid too much, or fail to make a competitive offer at all on an excellent value.

Buying the Wrong Home

What are you looking for in a home? A simple enough question, but the answer can be quite complex. More than one buyer has been swept up in the emotion and excitement of the buying process only to find themselves the owner of a home that is either too big or too small. Maybe they’re stuck with a longer than desired commute to work, or a dozen more fix-ups than they really want to deal with now that the excitement has died down. Take the time up front to clearly define your wants and needs. Put it in writing and then use it as a yardstick with which to measure every home you look at.

Unclear Title

Make sure very early on in the negotiation that you will own your new home free and clear by having a title search completed. The last thing you want to discover when you’re in the back stretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or the like.

Inaccurate Survey

As part of your offer to purchase, make sure you request an accurate property survey that clearly marks your boundaries. If the survey is not current, you may find that there are structural changes that are not shown (e.g. additions to the house, a new swimming pool, a neighbour’s new fence that is extending a boundary line, etc.) Be very clear on these issues.

Undisclosed Fix-ups

Don’t expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that will need to be attended to. Both you and the seller are out to maximize your investment. Ensure that you conduct a thorough inspection of the home early in the process. Consider hiring an independent inspector to objectively view the home inside and out, and make the final contract contingent upon this inspector’s report. This inspector should be able to give you a report of any item that needs to be fixed with associated, approximate cost.

Not Getting Mortgage Pre-approval

Pre-approval is fast, easy and free. When you have a pre-approved mortgage, you can shop for your home with a greater sense of freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when you find the home of your dreams.

Contract Misses

If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract by neglecting to attend to some repair issues, or changing the spirit of the agreement in some way, this could delay the final closing and settlement. Prepare a list of agreed issues, walk through them, and check them off one by one.

Hidden Costs

Make sure you identify and uncover all costs – large and small – far enough ahead of time. When a transaction closes, you will sometimes find fees for this or that sneaking through after the “sub total” – fees such as loan disbursement charges, underwriting fees etc. Understand these in advance by having your lender project total charges for you in writing.

Rushing the Closing

Take your time during this critical part of the process, and insist on seeing all paperwork the day before you sign. Make sure this documentation perfectly reflects your understanding of the transaction, and that nothing has been added or subtracted. Is the interest rate right? Is everything covered? If you rush this process on the day of closing, you may run into a last minute snag that you can’t fix without compromising the terms of the deal, the financing, or even the sale itself.

8 Simple Secrets to Avoid Costly Mistakes Buying Your Dream Home

So you’ve finally decided to buy your next home. Problem is while you were making up your mind, other fence sitters jumped into the home market too. Now you may be facing some competition for the best properties. What to do? Just because there are other buyers in the market doesn’t mean you can’t come away with your dream house. But to be a successful buyer in today’s Real Estate market you’re going to need help.

Your first best move is to know a few inside tricks. As experienced Real Estate professionals we have many more than eight ways to increase your chances of landing a prize property despite heavy competition. The following tested tips will increase your market savvy and sharpen your competitive position. Then you’ll be ready to act quickly the minute you see that perfect house.

Step 1: Get Pre-Approved

To be pre-approved for a mortgage loan is your first step. You will go through what amounts to a mini-application process (paperwork, credit check, etc.) prior to shopping for a house. Pre-approval is more effective than pre-qualification, which only gives you a rough idea of the amount a lender will lend you—assuming no hang-ups in the credit and income checking process. When you are pre-approved, it’s like carrying around a suitcase full of money. In the eyes of the seller, pre-approval makes you a very desirable “cash” buyer. That’s a real advantage over another buyer whose financing is uncertain.

Beat the Competition to the Newest Listings

Once you know your specific price range, your Real Estate agent can regularly do a computerized market sweep for new listings. You should receive a hot list of attractive properties as they come on the market. This will give you a head start on other buyers because you will get the listings before they are advertised. Timing can be a vital part of your home buying experience.

Do Your Research

Make yourself a “value expert” by investigating local properties to get an idea of price points, listing-to-sale-price ratios, hottest areas, and best places for a bargain. Once you know what your money will buy, your Real Estate agent can add up-to-the-minute knowledge of what comparable properties sell for in specific neighbourhoods and what impact specific features have on price. Working with a good agent will guarantee you the best price and terms.

Have your Agent Present the Offer in Person

Nobody wants their offer lingering on a fax machine in the listing agent’s office while other buyers are putting offers on the seller’s kitchen table. When the situation calls for that personal touch, you’ll gain an advantage by having your agent present your offer in person. He or she may pick up critical intelligence on any competing offers by being on the scene.

Prove you Mean Business

An excellent way of showing the seller you are serious about buying the house is to include a good faith deposit along with the offer you make. This deposit could be as much as 5% of the bid price and surely will attract the seller’s attention.

Stay Cool

When deciding on your dream home you do not have to over pay to get it. Sure, you may have to offer something other than the asking price, such as paying some or all points, inspections, closing costs, or offering a settlement date that fits the seller’s timetable. If you over pay now and have to sell your house in the future it will be harder for you to get back equal value.

Keep It Simple And Clean

You want to make sure that your contract isn’t sloppy or cluttered with contingencies such as repairs. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Even better, offer to be helpful, take care of repairs, order an inspection in 48 hours, or be willing to take care of any required local certificates such as smoke detectors and water safety. Be open and flexible to try to help accommodate the needs of the seller.

Don’t be a Lone Wolf

What you need most in today’s market is experienced professional guidance. As your neighbourhood Real Estate specialists we can help you get pre-approved, find a prize property, and negotiate the best deal on your next home no matter how heated the competition. Call us today. We’ll help you be a cool customer.