Trade Up Mistakes

Six Inside Strategies to Avoid Trade Up Mistakes

How to Sell the Place you Call Home

How to Avoid the 10 Biggest Selling Mistakes

How to Avoid Costly Housing Mistakes During and After Divorce

Straight Answers About an Agent's Role


Six Inside Strategies to Avoid Trade Up Mistakes

Secrets to Make Your Local Move a Success

Edmonton Condo Search

Making a local move? Usually that means selling one home and buying another, or ‘trading up’. Ideally, you want to find a home that better suits your needs and is an improvement from the last one.

 

The secret to a successful trade up in today’s market is coordination. You need to have a plan and you need to know which steps come first, second and third. You also need to know what to do if your plan doesn’t quite work out the way you’d hoped.

We’ve come up with six tricks of the trade to help you balance all the aspects of a local move:

Do your research and consult an expert

You need essential info, we can help you get it. Call us first when you are thinking about making a local move and we’ll help you determine how much bang you can get for your buck in today’s market so you can move up comfortably. We’ll even scout the market with you to find a variety of homes that fall within your price range and meet all of your needs. Don’t look for a house that’s too big it causes cash flow problems, or so small you outgrow it in a few years.

Plan, plan, plan

There are many steps involved in selling and purchasing a new home and we’ll help you create a strategy that works best for you. We’ll also help you develop an aggressive marketing plan to sell your current home quickly and for the best possible price. If your home needs aesthetic or structural repairs make sure you complete these before putting your house on the market; you want it to be as appealing as possible to potential buyers. If your budget is too tight for repairs, consider taking out an equity loan that will get repaid at closing.

Sell before you buy

Usually, it’s better to sell your current home before buying a new one. This removes the pressure to accept a below-market offer in order to meet your purchase deadline. This also means that you can buy your new home with no strings attached! If you haven’t sold your home yet, but get a tempting offer, you may want to consider putting in a contingency clause in the sale contract. This will give you a reasonable amount of time to find a home to buy. In the event of a market slowdown, you may consider renting out your home and selling it later for a fairer price when the market is hotter. There are many tax rules surrounding home rentals, so be sure you do your research before choosing this route.

Keep a lookout

While your home is on the market, we’ll help you find a lender and get pre-approved for financing so you can have more bargaining power when you bid on a house. Sellers love qualified buyers! You can then shop for suitable homes and be prepared to decide on your next home quickly once your present home sells.

Be flexible

The processes of selling and buying are complicated, and even the best laid plan can fall to pieces. Keep an open mind and be ready to make changes if needed. If you don’t find the right home in your chosen community, for example, consider looking in a different community. Also consider moving sooner than your original time line if you find your dream home right away, or later if it takes awhile to find a home that will work for you. If you happen to buy before you sell, it may be necessary to take out a “bridge” or “swing loan”. A bridge loan is a short-term loan you can use to cover the cost of the down payment and closing costs for your new home. Another option is to take on short-term tenants to cover expenses until you sell.

Coordinate closings

When you’re dealing with two transactions, it’s very easy to run into communication issues. There may be 15 to 30 entities involved in the transactions including appraisers, loan officers, underwriters, pest inspectors, home inspectors and more. When there’s fewer people involved, the process is much more efficient! Clients report that their experience is much smoother when we work on both their sale and purchase.

**Insider bonus tip: Check out short-term housing options

Sometimes, buyers make an offer so they can move in sooner than the seller would like, or the sellers are buying a home under construction that is delayed beyond their original move-in date.


Whichever the case, you will still need a place to live in the interim. If you have to move out before your new place is ready, look into renting a property or extended-stay hotel. Move your furniture, appliances, etc. into “transit” storage to save yourself the hassle of moving everything twice. Ask the moving company to put your items into a container for storage and eventual delivery. This will help you save on labour costs and reduce wear and tear on the furniture.


If you need to proceed with closing because of loan commitment deadlines but don’t have to move out just yet, you may be able to rent your home back from the buyer until your new one is ready.


We’ll work with you to help synchronize your move!




Are you an "empy nester"? 

How to Sell the Place you Call Home

Letting go of your first home, the place where your kids grew up or anywhere that is close to your heart can be hard. Remember, you’ve made this decision to improve your quality of life and because your current home no longer meets your needs. This is a good thing! You’ve taken the first step towards improving your situation and should take pride in your desire to strive for something better.


An “empty nester” is someone whose children have moved out, and they’re finding that their current home is either too big or no longer suits their needs. Are you an “empty nester”? Here are a few telling signs:

  • Your current home no longer suits or is too large for your lifestyle. Moving to a smaller home may be the solution!

  • You’re retired and your income is lower than it was when you were working. You may need to sell your home out of necessity and find one with a smaller mortgage or fewer upkeep costs. You may be able to live more comfortably in a lower cost-of-living area. If you have loaded a home equity loan, selling your property could give you enough cash to get rid of those payments.

  • As you approach retirement, you want a home with fewer (if any) stairs or one that can be converted to be handicap-accessible should the need arise.

  • You’ve started dreaming of blue skies and palm trees - or at least an area where the weather is more comfortable for you year-round and where there are activities you like to do - such as golf, tennis and boating - during your spare time.

  • There is no capital gains tax on the sale of your principal residence, meaning the profit on the sale of your home is tax free! This can provide you with a lot of extra cash for a savings account, down payment on another home or whatever you see fit.  

Getting it sold

You’ve made your decision and now you’re ready to sell. Before you put your home on the market, take a step back. Is your home in move-in condition? Even the best-maintained homes can show signs of age; make any needed repairs and replacements so the home is at its best when you list it.


Homes in better condition tend to sell faster as a rule. Buyers are much more willing to look at your home if it’s appealing. Look at how your home compares with others for sale: do you need to undergo major renovations? If so, would you prefer to make price concessions to help your home compete?


Here are some specific questions to ask yourself:

  • Are my kitchen appliances current and in good, working condition? Does my kitchen have popular features like a microwave or an island?

  • Does my home have a master bedroom suite? Up-to-date homes usually have one. Include any special features it may have like a spa, soaking tub or dual-shower heads.

  • Do I have a home office? Can my telephone wiring support an office phone, computer modem and fax machine?

  • Have I built any additions, such as a deck, patio, carport or sunroom - without first obtaining a building permit or without passing inspection?

  • Do my carpets, floors or tiles need to be replaced? Will a professional cleaning make them look new?

  • What shape are my walls in? Do they have any animals marks? Should old, tired wallpaper be removed? Do the walls and woodwork need a new paint job?

  • Can I make my closets and counters look larger? Are there items I can pack away until after I move to make the home seem more spacious?

  • Is my front and backyard neat, well-kept and attractive?

  • How does my home compare to others currently for sale now? How can I make my home more appealing to buyers?


Price is an excellent way to make your home more appealing. If you’ve owned your home for years you are likely to have some serious equity. Can you be flexible on price in order to get it sold? To get the best possible sale, a house must be in exceptional condition in every way: price, condition, terms and exposure. Give us a call. We can help.

9 reasons why it’s time to move:

Reason 1

You haven’t visited half the house in the last six months. Time to move to a space you’ll use!

 

Reason 2

You can’t make any changes to the exterior of your home without getting approval from the “Board of Historic Places”. In other words, time to upgrade to something newer!

 

Reason 3

The only way to see the carpet’s original colour is to move the furniture.


Reason 4

The newspaper lining the guest room dresser is from the 1970s. You’re not living in the 70s, so why should your home be?

 

Reason 5

The children’s rooms have all been turned into guest bedrooms or storage rooms.

 

Reason 6

You’re on a first-name basis with your handyman and have your plumber’s number on speed dial. Time for a place that doesn’t require as many repairs!

 

Reason 7

The swing set out in the backyard has become “one” with the yard.

 

Reason 8

You can’t get anything repaired because the parts are no longer made.

 

Reason 9

When you first bought your home, you were out in the country. Now, your home is part of the city.


How to Avoid the 10 Biggest Selling Mistakes

In order to beat the competition in today’s real estate market you must avoid the selling traps others frequently fall into.

 

We can help you avoid these common (and not-so-common) mistakes and get your house sold quickly and for a price you’re comfortable with. Give us a call to get started! 780.406.0099

The 10 biggest mistakes sellers make

Pricing too high

This can be just as bad as pricing too low. If you price your home too high, you run the risk of losing exposure to buyers who are looking in the price range where your home should be. By the time you correct the price, the buyers who would have been interested won’t be looking at your listing because they were scared off by your initial high price. The listing price can be hard to settle on, especially with a volatile market. As professional real estate consultants we have inside knowledge of market trends and can advise you on how to price your home for what it’s worth.

Procrastinating on repairs

In order to make your home appealing and marketable, you want it to be in move-in condition. this will help to speed up the sale process and maximize your return or minimize your loss. Buyers who are willing to do the repairs themselves usually subtract the cost of the repairs from their offer. You will save yourself money and time by getting the repairs done before putting your house on the market.

Drive by appeal

Frequently, buyers will drive by your house to get an impression of the condition it’s in. You want your house to look tidy and inviting. Keep your lawns cut, trim your shrubs and trees, keep your gardens clean and weed-free, pick up litter, repair or resurface a cracked driveway or sidewalk, clear the walk and driveway of leaves, repair gutters and eaves and touch up exterior paint where needed. Make your home look appealing by adding flower pots, nice outdoor lighting fixtures and street numbers and an inviting welcome mat.

Inside appeal

It typically takes someone to make a first impression about you in 60 seconds or less, the same goes for your home! 60 seconds is the time you have to get a buyer to fall in love with your home when they first step through the door. By putting a little time in and improving the aesthetics of your home, whether that be a new paint job, replacing the carpets, refacing the kitchen cabinets, getting new bathroom fixtures, etc., will add to its “buy me” appeal. We know spending several thousand dollars on a property you’re about to sell isn’t something that's easy to digest however by doing so you will be, increasing your home’s value which can result in getting more for it in a shorter amount of time. Paint a picture in your buyer’s minds: you want them to see your home as a place they can call their own.

Overdoing your renovations

Now it’s good to do some changes to increase your home’s "buy me" appeal but you don’t want end up going overboard on your remodeling projects. If your improvements push your home’s value more than 20% over the average neighbouring home values, you may not be able to recoup the entire cost, meaning this is just money out of your pocket. However, some major projects are necessary, such as replacing the roof or upgrading the windows and will most likely increase your home’s value.

Being inflexible when it comes to financing

Being flexible with financing can help your buyer meet your asking price. Offering seller financing, paying closing costs, including a one-year warranty on appliances or one-year garden maintenance can be irresistible to buyers and will help to grease the wheels of your sale.

Not enlisting the help of a real estate professional

Your home is your greatest asset, so why wouldn’t you get a professional to help you sell it? On average sellers who are inexperienced and don’t work with a professional often have alot difficulty selling their house, if it even sells at all. Our agents can help you get a good price for your home and make the whole process smoother and less stressful.

Hanging around your home when buyers are viewing it

Buyers want to feel at home when they're viewing a house and how can they when you’re shadowing them? Your presence can make buyers feel like intruders in your home and they will be less likely to thoroughly explore your property. Don’t worry about buyers running amok in your home; it’s your real estate agent’s responsibility to look after it when holding open houses or showing prospective buyers around.

Being inflexible during negotiations

Ultimately, both you and the buyer want a sale, but being inflexible on your terms can lead to no sale. real estate agents spend a large portion of their time negotiating, and can argue the price, terms, possession and conditions on your behalf. Leave it up to us!

Taking your time to reply to an offer
When a buyer sends you an offer, you need to act on it! You don’t want them to change their mind because you delayed replying to them.

Avoid Costly Mistakes

How to Avoid Costly Housing Mistakes During and After Divorce

Going through a divorce is already difficult enough without the added stress of what to do about your housing situation.

 

Call us and we can give you advice about how a divorce can affect your mortgage, your house and taxes. Since divorce is often fraught with emotions that can cloud your judgement, we can also help you make rational decisions that will work to your advantage.


When going through a divorce one of the first decisions you need to make is where you want to live. Do you plan on staying in your current home? Or are you looking to sell and get a fresh start?


Next you have to determine exactly what kind of budget you’ll be working with. Can you manage the old home on your current budget? Is refinancing an option? if not it may be better to sellt the property and buy a new one is a better financial decision than staying in your old home. We can help you figure out how much house you can get with your current budget.

Three basic options most divorced homeowners face:

Sell the house and split the proceeds with your ex-spouse

Our appraisers can analyze your home’s market value and then give you an estimate - after selling expenses - of how much you’ll each net when the home sells. Remember, the sale may not be split 50/50, how much you each get is dependent on the divorce settlement.

Buy out your spouse’s share of the home

Because the house is both legally yours, you have the option to “buy your spouse out” of their portion of the home. Your lender cannot call the loan when a property is transferred from one spouse to the other due to divorce. The downside is that the lender rarely changes the obligations of the original mortgage contract, even though the spouse no longer owns part of the house. In this case, a solution would be to refinance your mortgage. It’s important to look at your income to determine what you can afford - we can help you crunch numbers. If you used your combined incomes to qualify for the original loan, refinancing on your own can be difficult on your sole income.


If you are the spouse who is bought out, you have the opportunity to start over in a new place. However, if the old loan does not get refinanced, most lenders will still hold you liable for the mortgage. This can make it hard for you to qualify for a new mortgage when you decide to buy a new home, even though the property settlement may say you are not responsible for payments.

Retain joint ownership of the home, even though only one partner is living in it

This option is certainly the less invasive, as it leaves things alone financially for the time-being. This option can work if both co-owners can cooperate together after the divorce.

If you decide to sell

Due to the tricky nature of divorce, having an experienced realtor handle the details can be monumentally less stressful. There is a level of cooperation needed from both spouses to get the home sold and this process is made easier by having professionals coordinate preparations for the sale as well as contract negotiations.


When a sale contract is presented, both spouses need to be involved in the negotiations and be available to sign the contract. If a joint meeting won’t work, a conference call is an option. We can get you in touch with professionals that will handle the settlement details to bring about a quick and stress free sale.

What you can buy

If you’re planning on moving to a new home, you’ll want to know what you can afford.


There are several factors we consider when determining what you’ll be able to afford:

  • The equity you’ll receive from the sale of your old house.

  • Your income from all sources - including suite rent and support payments. These are subject to certain conditions.

  • The payment your new budget will allow.

  • The interest rate for the term that best suits your needs - we will then calculate the amount of mortgage you can afford within your budget.

Beware tax traps!

There are tax implications regardless of whether you sell or choose to stay in your home. Lucky for you, the legal system works for you in most situations regardless of what you decide to do. You will not be taxed on gain from the sale of your principal residence.

That being said, there could still be tax implications if one spouse continues to maintain an interest in the original family home while it’s being lived in - whether rented or not. Consult with your tax advisor if your home is being rented to a third party.



An Agent's Role

Straight Answers About an Agent's Role

As today’s housing market evolves, so does the role a real estate agent plays. A real estate agent, by basic definition, is a professional that helps you to buy or sell a home. They work with you to help your home selling or buying process go smoothly and ensure you are happy with the result.
 
Traditionally, agents were legally bound to represent the seller. The seller would pay both the listing agent and the agent who brought the buyer.
 
But, times have changed. In today’s market, agents work with both buyers and sellers. Consumers have choices about who they want to represent them, and what type of relationship they want to have with the agent. If you want to sell a home, you can work with a “Seller’s Agent” and if you want to buy a home, you can work with a “Buyer’s Agent”.

Know the players

There are several players involved in the real estate business. A “broker” is someone who has taken a specific exam to earn the designation and is licensed by the province. These people usually form a real estate company and recruit real estate licensees - salespersons and associate brokers - as agents. The agents represent the principal broker through personal interactions with the firm’s clients and get some or all of the brokerage commission. The principal broker is responsible for overseeing any and all agency agreements made between a client and a company.

The relationship between the agent and the principal

An agent is the person who represents and acts on behalf of another person, called the principal, and is responsible for certain duties owed to the principal. These duties include care, confidentiality, full disclosure and accurate and complete accounting. These duties can vary from province to province so make sure you’re well informed.

Seller’s Agent

This is an agent who is employed by and represents the home seller. They are also known as a “listing agent”, because they are the one who lists the home and markets it through a Multiple Listing Service (such as Realtor.ca). A listing agreement is created between the seller and the agent and defines how the agent will be paid and other terms. The seller’s agent is responsible for getting the highest purchase price and best terms possible for the seller.
 
There are a variety of services available through a seller’s agent including: a diligent search for the right home, an explanation of available financing, calculation of monthly payments and estimated settlement costs, etc. The seller’s agent is held to the highest degree of honesty and good faith and may also be required by provincial law to disclose certain kinds of information to the buyer about the property.
 
The seller’s agent cannot disclose confidential information to the buyer that is not in the best interests of the seller. They cannot offer an opinion of the home’s value nor can they disclose what price the seller will accept.

Buyer’s Agent

This is an agent who is employed by and represents the buyer. The agreement between the buyer and agent again represents a legal contract between them and usually describes the agent’s duties and how they will be compensated. The agent must be paid by the seller through a commission that is split with the listing agent or they must be paid a sales commission  by the buyer or other mutually agreed on method of payment. Some agents will charge the buyer a retainer or hourly fee.
 
The buyer’s agent is responsible for helping the buyer with their house hunt, representing the buyer’s interests throughout the process and helping to negotiate the best price and terms for the buyer.

In-company situation

When the potential buyer is working with an associate from the sale real estate company that listed the home, this is called an “in-company situation”. Depending on the province, the solution to this can be a “designated representative”, “transaction broker”, “facilitator” or “disclosed dual agent”.
 
Confidentiality of clients is still of utmost importance in this situation and provincial statutes and common law determine how the situation is handled. The real estate agent cannot, for example, reveal to a buyer the lowest price their seller would accept nor can they reveal to a seller the maximum price the buyer is willing to pay.
 
The basic goals of a real estate transaction haven’t changed for an in-company situation. The agent still wants to help close the transaction for both the buyer and the seller.
 
We hope that we answered any basic questions you might have with this article. If you want more information, never hesitate to contact us! We are knowledgeable about all areas of real estate and are more than happy to share our expertise with you. Provincial laws vary; we want you to understand and be comfortable with the options involved when you engage the services of an agent.

Frequently Asked Questions - For buyers

How can a seller’s agent or subagent help me and what can’t they do?

There are many important services an agent can offer you:
  • Help you determine how much you can afford for a home and explain how different loans can stretch your buying power
  • Search all homes in the Multiple Listing Service and present you with homes that you select as best meeting your needs
  • Provide general information about homes, recent area sales, neighbourhoods and local lending institutions
  • Prepare your sales contract and present it to the seller
  • Walk you through the homebuying process and get you in touch with lenders, inspectors and sellers throughout the whole settlement

The seller’s agent is obligated to share information you provide with the seller, so it’s a good idea to keep certain financial and personal matters to yourself. For example, you may not want to disclose that you’re willing to pay more than your offered price, or that you’d agree to pay more points or closing costs, or that you’re especially motivated to buy. The seller may capitalize on this information and you could miss out on getting the best deal.

The agent is not obligated to give an opinion of the home’s condition, the value of improvements, any urgency the seller may feel to sell and if the seller is willing to accept an offer below their price. The seller’s agent will provide you with the answer: “I can only quote the listing price” should you choose to push them for more information about these matters. You must represent yourself in the negotiations and terms process. The seller’s agent will present your offer and bring you either a signed offer, rejection or counteroffer and you are free to respond in whichever way you’d like.

Should I be represented by a buyer’s agent?

Ultimately, the choice is up to you. A buyer’s agent can discuss relative advantages and disadvantages of a particular home, advise you on how much to offer, evaluate any improvements it may need and actively participate in negotiating a good price and terms for you. Other buyers may be comfortable handling the negotiations themselves and feel that a seller’s agent or subagent will be enough assistance to find a home and close the transaction smoothly and successfully.

I know the seller’s agent is paid by the seller, but who pays the buyer’s agent

Payment for the buyer’s agent varies. In general, buyer’s agents will receive a share of the commission paid from the sale proceeds. This term is usually outlined in the listing agreement between the seller and seller’s agent and states whether the commission will be split between seller’s agent and buyer’s agent or that it must be negotiated.
 
Other forms of payment can include: collecting an initial retainer fee from the buyer, charging by the hour, charging a flat fee or a combination of any of these. These fees are often applied against subsequent commission received by the buyer’s agent. Make sure your agreement specifies these details.

If the buyer’s agent I use will split a commission based on the sales price, doesn’t the buyer’s agent have a conflict of interest when it comes to negotiating the lowest price for me?

In theory, this could be true. However, there would be little benefit to the buyer’s agent if they failed to help you negotiate the best price. For example, the buyer’s agent would only receive a few extra dollars in commission for every $1,000 paid above the seller’s lowest price. Most buyer’s agents would rather negotiate the best possible price to ultimately grow their referrals and reputation within the real estate community.
 
Some buyers and agents will agree on a payment formula that is not tied to the sales price, such as a commission based on the original asking price or flat fee.

Can a buyer’s agent show me all the homes for sale in the area?

In general, a buyer’s agent can show you all the available homes in areas listed with a Multiple Listing Service (such as Realtor.ca), homes that are not in the Multiple Listing Service and homes for sale by the owner. The listing agreement made between the seller and seller’s agent will often state whether or not buyer’s agents may show the home. Most sellers want their home to be exposed to the largest possible audience, but sometimes the seller will not want to work with a buyer’s agent.
 
An in-company situation occurs when you request to see a home that your buyer’s agent has listed for sale as the seller’s agent, or one that is listed by another agent at the company of your buyer’s agent. Ask the agent whether and how the company or agent might be able to modify the agency agreement with you if you decide to purchase a company listing.

Can a seller’s agent show me all available homes?

In short, yes. Most provinces allow the agent to show you any home available through a Multiple Listing Service. This includes homes that are listed personally by the agent, homes listed by another agent in the same company and homes listed by agents in other companies.
 
In areas that do not have a Multiple Listing Service or where each real estate company shows only its own listings, both buyer’s and seller’s agents may be able to show only their own company listings.

Frequently asked questions - For sellers

I’m selling my home, should I let buyer’s agents show my home?

This decision is entirely yours, but it’s important to remember that a buyer’s agent can help your home get more exposure, which increases its likelihood of attracting qualified buyers and ultimately, selling quickly and for the highest price possible. Sellers usually don’t care who brings a buyer or how the broker splits the commission as long as the house sells, so the majority of sellers and seller’s agents let any agent sell the home.

If a buyer is using a buyer’s agent, do I have to pay the buyer’s agent a commission

This practice varies by area, so you should always speak with your agent to learn about your options. As the seller, you have the option to indicate on the listing agreement whether the selling agent must split the commission with the buyer’s agent. Most sellers work with a broker who splits the commission with a buyer’s agent even though that agent does not represent the seller’s interests. This increases the number of potential buyers for your home because the listing broker is already ready to share the commission with a sub agent who brings a buyer. Most sellers don’t mind when their broker shares the commission with a buyer’s agent instead.

Can the seller’s agent represent me in the sale of my home and then continue to represent me as a buyer’s agent when I purchase my next home?

If you liked your agent, that’s great! You can choose to do this if the seller’s agent also works as a buyer’s agent. As long as you both agree to the representation, they can represent you as a buyer’s agent under a separate agreement.

How and when will I find out who an agent is working for?

The Canadian Real Estate Association supports disclosure laws that require real estate agents to “provide timely, meaningful, written disclosure to consumers of all possible agency relationships available under provincial law and the most significant implications of choosing one type over another”.

Most provinces require real estate agents to disclose to both the buyer and seller their agency relationship. This disclosure should happen early, before the seller signs a listing agreement, a buyer is shown properties or the real estate agent is told any confidential information. The consumer will usually sign a form acknowledging the agency disclosure.

Six Inside Strategies to Avoid Trade Up Mistakes

How to Sell the Place you Call Home

How to Avoid the 10 Biggest Selling Mistakes

How to Avoid Costly Housing Mistakes During and After Divorce

Straight Answers About an Agent's Role

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.