TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID BEING HOUSE POOR

Thu, 06 Feb by The Lore Group

So you’re thinking of buying a home-Exciting! You’ve done the math and can afford the mortgage payments within your budget (if you haven’t, and need help with that- we can help) Our Lore Group Agents can’t wait to help you get started on your journey to home ownership! But before you do, let’s chat a bit about money, debt, and affordability. Because it’s important to know that mortgage payments are not the only payment you’ll need to consider to sort out a feasible budget and what price of home to buy. Full disclosure: We’re Real Estate Agents, not financial experts….but that doesn’t mean we haven’t learned some helpful financial tips along the way, that we’d love to share with you (You should of course, seek the guidance and expertise of your financial advisor as well, before making any big financial decisions):

 

Tip #1  LEAVE YOURSELF WIGGLE ROOM: Consider not maxing out your limit. Certainly, we want you to find a home that you love, and will suit your needs for years to come (and we can’t wait to help you get started!) But while you can lock in your current monthly mortgage payments for a period of time (typically 2-5 years), you should be prepared in the future if interest rates were to increase. Similarly, property taxes rates, and utility costs can all fluctuate with inflation, so leaving yourself plenty of breathing room will come in handy should those situations ever arise. And if not, that just leaves you more vacation moneyJ

 

Tip #2 PLAN TO SAVE: Open a dedicated savings account for future home maintenance and repairs. Home ownership comes with many joys and responsibilities. Whether your home is new or old, unexpected repairs can and will come up that you’ll need to deal with right away; your hot water tank gave out and needs replaced (unless cold showers are your thing). Your dishwasher stopped working (who wants to wash dishes by hand). You’ve got a leak under your sink and need to call the plumber (duct tape doesn’t work. Seriously, it’s been tried). These types of things will happen at some point and saving for them can avoid a lot of financial stress and burden in the future. Consider setting aside at least 1-2% of your homes’ value, per year, in your home maintenance savings account.

 

Tip #3 PAY THE BANK LESS: Want to be mortgage free faster? Consider increasing your monthly mortgage payments. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a lot. You’d be surprised at how much you will save in the long run and how much faster you will pay off your mortgage, simply by adding a couple hundred dollars or more to your monthly payment. For example, on a $500,000 home purchase with 5% down, increasing your mortgage payments from $2282 to $2482 (that’s based on a 5yr. fixed rate of 3.14%) you’d have your mortgage paid off 3 years faster. Or if this is a starter home and you plan on upsizing into another home in the near future, you’ll have more equity available at the end of your term for your next home purchase.

 

Buying a home isn’t just about looking at beautiful houses (but it definitely is the FUN part). With the Lore Group, we’ll help you with the FUN part, and of course are happy to share our tips and real estate advice we’ve learned, not just from our careers, but from our own personal experiences in real estate along the way. Reach out to us today at 780-370-3325 for all your real estate questions and for your own personal buyer consultation with one of Lore Group Agents.

 Good Neighbours – How to find them!

Fri, 06 Dec by The Lore Group

Neighbours can play such an integral and important part in our daily lives. We have been blessed to have some of the best neighbours over the years. When I bundled up to go out in the cold and start my car the other day, I found that in my husbands absence, our neighbour had blown off my car and shovelled the driveway in the wee hours of the morning before he went to work. It was a kind and thoughtful gesture and a reminder of how having great neighbours can really improve your quality of life. 

Good neighbours are extremely helpful and make our live’s safer- and more fun. Good neighbours also tend to give us more peace of mind. There is an old saying that “you can choose your friends but not your neighbours”, but this is not completely true!

When buying a Fort McMurray home it can be easy to get caught up in looking for all the features that check off everything on your wish list, however it is every bit as important to pay close attention to the neighbourhood. After all, a house can be updated and fixed but you can’t change its location, the vibe of the community or your neighbours. Do your research: how, you may ask? Your Lore Group Real Estate Associate is a good resource for pointing out important features of your neighbourhood. Is it kid friendly?? Check out the nearby parks, the quality of the schools, daycares, crime rates and access to medical care and amenities. Information about a neighbourhood’s walkability, proximity too transportation, restaurants, community centres and other places of interest. Seek out neighbourhood Facebook groups, websites, and community newspapers to get a feel for the community and local events.

Take a walk through the area, chat up the neighbours and take notice of pride of ownership around the neighbourhood. tour you through the neighbourhood. All good communities maintain their homes, yard and public spaces, showing care for their neighbourhood. 

Don’t be afraid to ask a neighbour in their front yard or elevator while you are out and about how they like the area. They will be a wealth of helpful information. 

Finally if you want a good neighbour, remember, be a good neighbour. ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Therefore, we should be respectful, thoughtful, courteous and make efforts to build good relationships. You all look out for each other. You are not just buying a home, you are also buying into and becoming a part of a community: making close friends that can be a happy part of your daily life. 

If you would like more information about the many fantastic Fort McMurray neighbourhood’s feel free to reach out to one of our experienced and knowledgable Lore Group Team members

CONDO FEES, WHAT ARE THEY REALLY ABOUT?

Wed, 23 Oct by The Lore Group

Condo living is a lifestyle that many homeowners enjoy. Like all types of Fort McMurray homeownership, there are pros and cons, and some important aspects to consider before jumping in; We will touch on two of these: CONDO FEES and RESERVE FUNDS.

First. Let’s clear up the most common misconception we hear from buyers in the market; that some nefarious “they”, is in charge of fees and can raise and charge you anything at anytime for no real reason at allThis is false. Condo corporations are all of the individuals who own units in a condominium complex. Each condominium corporation has a condominium board, which is basically a group of the owners in that particular condominium complex, who volunteer their time to be on the condominium board. Board members are voted in every year at the Annual General Meeting and should be approachable at any time of year when residents have concerns. As a governance board, this group calls the shots (within the rules established in your bylaws; and certain decisions require all owners input, in which case a vote must be made: like democracy, your vote counts! Because the Board members are volunteers and do not get paid for their time, and typically have regular jobs like the rest of us, it is common for a condo corporations to hire a professional condo management company. Under the board’s direction, the management company oversees the maintenance and day to day operations, and pay the bills, however some condo corporations do decide to self manage, even in Fort McMurray.

Condo Fees (also known as co-ownership fees), are billed to co-owners, typically on a monthly basis. They cover necessary expenses for the regular maintenance of common areas of the building which could include items such as window washing, insurance, common area cleaning, lawn maintenance, snow removal, repairs, management expenses, contributions to the reserve fund (piggy bank for future capital cost replacements or repairs-we’ll talk about this in a minute) and sometimes utilities. As an owner, you do have some say in how your condo fee is spent. Here are some MUST KNOW important information to help preserve and protect your Real Estate investment (because that is really what condo fees are all about):

How are condo fees calculated?

Fees are normally set annually by the condominium board after budgeting yearly operating expenses and reserve fund contributions. The total amount required to cover the condominium’s expenses and contribute to the reserve fund is divided amongst the unit owners. Most commonly, how much you pay is based on the unit factor assigned to their specific unit. Unit factors are proportional to the size of the unit (the larger your unit, the higher your unit factor). Your board should supply you with yearly financial statements and a budget for the upcoming year that will support the required condo fee.

What is a RESERVE FUND and how is it used?

A reserve fund is basically a savings account(that capital replacement piggy bank we referred to earlier), that can only be used for replacement and non routine repairs of common elements of the condo that are the condominium corporations responsibility. In Alberta, all condominium corporations must establish and maintain a reserve fund (that big savings account) to cover the costs of its common property. A reserve fund study, report and plan determines the lifespan and cost of the elements of the condo that the condominium corporation will need to repair or replace in the future, to budget accordingly how much money will need to be contributed to the reserve fund every year. This reserve fund study and plan is required by Alberta law at least once every five years and should be available to owners to review. It is very important that purchasers (and owners!) understand the importance of the reserve fund, as these funds are built up over time and can have financial impact in the future if the plans are not followed.

Additional costs can occur.

Just like owning any other type of home, the unexpected can happen regardless of the best financial planning and maintenance. When the unforseen occurs (such a huge hail storm or the rising insurance costs that homeowners across North America are experiencing) If there are not enough money in the reserve fund or the operating budget, the condo corporation could charge a special assessment. This often comes as an unpleasant surprise because it means having to contribute an additional (sometimes large) sum all at once. Think of it this way. If you bought a home, and the hot water tank had just been replaced 2 years ago, based on average lifespan of a hot water heater you shouldn’t need to replace it for at least another 5-7 years. But if your hot water heater fails early- you as the home owner, would need to pay to have it repaired or replaced immediately (unless you like cold showers), even though it wasn’t in your budget. The same concept applies to condominiums.

Is the condominium corporation in a good position?

As a condition of your offer, you can have the advantage of looking at the reserve funds and all of the condo documents that are available such as reserve fund plans, financials, budgets, meeting minutes and bylaws. As a potential future owner, you should thoroughly review all of these documents to familiarize yourself with the ongoing business and financial position. To avoid surprises and reduce risk, we recommend you also have these documents looked at by a Condominium Document Analsyt that will review the facts and information found in the Condominium documents and create a simple to understand report for review.

Consider this…Owners of single family homes should set aside at least one percent of your home’s value every year for home maintenance. For example a $360,000 house, this works out to $3,600 per year, or $300 per month. This does not include utilities, like many condos. So if water, power or gas is included you need to factor that into what you could reasonably expect condo fee to cost. Also factor in any additional amenities. Does the condo you are considering have a gym, pool, workshop or other amenities that may save you $$$$ in outside membership fees? Regardless of what housing type you choose, costs to maintain, repair and insure must always be factored in. This is exactly what a condo fee is intended to do.

Is Condo Life for you?

Condo life can offer a Maintenance- FREE life style. If you would like to explore the Fort McMurray condo market and discuss whether a condominium is the right choice for you feel free to reach out to one of our experienced Lore Group Real Estate Professionals

MONEY SAVING TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR FALL

Wed, 07 Aug by The Lore Group

It’s been quite a crazy summer for weather this year in Fort McMurray. Don’t put your hands over your ears… We know you don’t want to hear it yet but fall to soon fall will be upon us. As the days get shorter and you start planning for the kids to go back to school don’t forget to prepare your home.

CLEAN OUT THE GUTTERS
Gutters get a lot of action in the fall and winter. While this is not the most fun job don’t forget to clean gutters of all debris and repair any leaking areas to avoid water leaking and dripping that can cause dangerous ice build ups where people walk.

INSPECT YOUR ROOF SHINGLES FOR DAMAGE
The last thing you want is water dripping on your head in November. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating; expect problems soon. If you see any signs of damage consult a roofing specialist before it gets to cold to deal with it. This will save you HUGE dollars

MAKE SURE YOUR ATTIC HATCH IS PROPERLY SEALED
Check your attic hatch to ensure it seals tightly. While you are up there check to ensure all of your vents are clear for proper airflow and that your insulation is even throughout. Attic rain is caused by excessive accumulations of moisture in the attic of the home, which freezes during cold weather and melts when warmer temperatures hit. The resulting damage can be costly, a bit of fall maintenance can help you avoid this issue.

TURN OFF YOUR OUT DOOR SPRINKLERS AND FAUCETS
It might be a little early for this yet. Set your self a reminder as the cold weather approaches. Remove any hoses from the outdoor faucets and make sure you properly drain any in ground sprinklers.

FROST PROOF EXPOSED PIPES
Circumvent frozen pipes by wrapping any exposed areas with heat tape. Frost-proof spigots with a faucet insulator and shut off any unnecessary water supply. This is particularly important in mobile homes.

SERVICE YOUR FURNACE
This is the perfect time to book that annual check up with your Hvac guy. Have your furnace serviced, inspected and cleaned. Replaced old filters with new.

SWITCH YOUR CEILING FAN BLADES
A common preparation for the chillier seasons is to change the direction of your ceiling fans. In the warmer months, your blades are best turning counter clockwise or forward to blow the cooler air down. In the fall and winter, you want the blades to turn clockwise or backward to draw air up toward the ceiling and thrust warm air down. This simple trick can be a huge saving on your heating bill.

CLEAN YOUR VENTS & CHECK THE CHIMNEY
During the summer dust and pet hair can build up in your vents. We often have windows and doors open during the warm season for fresh airflow but as the weather cools off we seal up our home. Cleaning vents allows unrestricted air flow and a healthier environment for your family. Less dust to deal with is also an added benefit. Do a visual check of your chimney to ensure there are no crumbling bricks or bird or squirrel nests inside. If you are not comfortable going onto your roof hire a local professional to inspect.

CHECK/REPLACE WEATHER STRIPPING
Weather stripping loses its effectiveness with age and needs to be replaced every few years. Do a visual check of the stripping around exterior doors and windows (including your garage door) and replace if it appears worn or cracked. If the stripping appears fine but you can feel air moving when your doors and windows are closed, check that the stripping has been installed properly or that you’re using the correct stripping (there is a difference between door and window stripping, and a difference between foam and rubber stripping).

COMPARE ENERGY RATES
This is the perfect time to get out those energy bills we all hate to look at and compare rates. Make sure you are getting the best deal. Check out https://energyrates.ca where you can compare plans of all of the providers and find the best fit for you.

ENJOY THE FINAL DAYS OF SUMMER WITH YOUR FAMILY
This is the perfect time to get out and explore some of the great out door activities Fort McMurray has to offer. Check out Heritage Park https://fortmcmurrayheritage.com. Enjoy the sandy beach and campground at Gregiore Lake, explore the Birchwood Trials. Check out http://www.fortmcmurraytourism.com/things-to-do for a great list of events and things to do with the family this summer.

IS FALL IS GOOD TIME TO SELL??
The warm weather housing market is coming to a close and you may be considering selling and wondering if fall is a good time to sell. This may be exactly the right time. Fall brings a more serious pool of buyers that feel the pressure to get into a Fort McMurray home before the holidays. Did you know that millennials and empty-nesters usually swoop in a bit later in the year. Employers who need to relocate their workers quite often wait for the fall. If you are considering selling your home and would like more tips on how to prepare your home to get maximum value or would like a FREE MARKET EVALUATION feel free to reach out to one of our experienced Lore Group Realtors. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Fire Home Safety Tips

Wed, 05 Jun by The Lore Group

As smoke hangs in the air and forest fire season is in full swing we are mindful of safety. While it is important to be fire smart outside it is equally important to ensure that your home is fire safe.

Here are a few tips to protect your families lives and your home:

  • Smoke Alarms Save Lives. It is important to put smoke alarms in the right places in your home. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas including the basement. If you have smoke alarms test every month and replace batteries as required. Replace any smoke alarms that is more than ten years old. It’s a good idea to put a reminder in your calendar.
  • Purchase A Fire extinguisher. In the event of a small fire. Ensure it is. Service and recharge regularly and keep near escape routes
  • Keep Matches & Lighters Out Of The Reach Of Children.
  • Outdoor & Indoor Lights. Outdoor lights can be a beautiful summer feature for your patio or yard. Use only CSA approved lights.  Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.
  • Smoking Friends & Family. Provide large, deep outdoor ashtrays that will prevent the wind from carrying away a smoking cigarette.
  • Extinguish Unattended Candles. Place in burn proof containers and keep out of the reach of pets and children

Time is of essence when it comes to fire safety. In just two short minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, an entire home can be engulfed in flames!

Create an evacuation plan and practice it with your family to avoid panic and confusion in the event of a fire.

Did you know that the RMWB has a home fire safety program? It begins this year in the Dickensfield neighbourhood in June. We encourage you to take advantage of this program and help keep your family safe.

Your family & Fort McMurray home matter to us. Be safe folks

SPRING HAS ARRIVED! LET THE OUTDOOR PROJECTS BEGIN

Fri, 26 Apr by The Lore Group

If you are at all like me, the moment the sun began to peek and snow started to melt, magic visions of outdoor projects started dancing through your head.

With that in mind, it’s important to do careful planning to ensure that not only are you adding to the enjoyment factor of your home, but to the value of your Fort McMurray property as well.

Here are a few tips to keep you on the straight and narrow:

RAISED BEDS, PLANTERS AND TREES

A raised bed can do wonders for beautifying and maximizing your yard. It can be either free-standing or built against a solid, vertical surface. Generally, raised beds against house walls are not a good idea, unless there is sufficient damp-proofing protection between the bed and the wall. Be cautious that the bed will not create a situation where the damp proofing can breached and the wall damaged. If the bed is against a wooden fence, there should be a waterproof barrier between the timber and the compost to protect the fence.

Trees carefully chosen provide shade, windbreaks and an opportunity to invite birds. Take care where planting. Small trees become big trees, so don’t plant too close to your home. Trees with aggressive or large root systems can cause structural damage when planted too close. Ask a professional from a Greenhouse or contact the RMWB Horticulture technician for tips on which plants and trees thrive in Fort McMurray and would be most suitable for your use. Have fun, Create! Add some colour to the warm fragrance of summer.

DECKS AND FENCES

Do you think a deck would be an awesome idea?? We agree. A deck is the ideal outdoor space for relaxation or entertaining guests. You can create aesthetic appeal with your design. Whether a weekend DIY project or using the services of a trustworthy contractor, be sure you have a clear plan and use quality pressure treated or weather proof decking materials.

Good Fences make Good neighbours! So the saying goes. Before installing your fence consider the purpose. Privacy? To keep the pets in? Inquire with any local homeowners or condominium associations and municipal building code officials regarding covenants that dictate fencing look, height, and material. Are there set- backs from sidewalks and property lines? Fort McMurray Municipal and neighbourhood rules may vary. Be a good neighbour, chat with your neighbours about your fencing plans. A party fence can often be built and shared by two or more neighbours. Ensure property boundaries have been professionally determined by a surveyor.

 ALWAYS GET PERMITS

 It can be tempting to try and skirt the permit process. The cost and hassle of getting a permit may seem unnecessary step, especially if you are handy or your buddies offer to do it. The permit process is an important one and relatively low cost and easy. When it comes time to sell your home, lack of permits can often prove to become a real problem. This can be considered a deficiency when time to sell. Buyers may be hesitant to purchase a home that does not have permits. Protect your investment into your improvements.

Find out if your fence, deck, driveway or garage projects will require a building permit.

Contact RMWB Planning and Development

T: 780 799 8695

E: current.planning@rmwb.ca

www.rmwb.ca

Most importantly,

SAFETY FIRST

ALWAYS! ALWAYS! CALL BEFORE YOU DIG!!!!

Alberta One Call 1 800 242 3447

IF YOU ARE CURIOUS HOW MUCH VALUE YOUR SUMMER PROJECT CAN ADD TO YOU HOME, OR WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH IN TODAYS MARKET CONTACT US. WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT SUMMER FUN YOU HAVE PLANNED!

HAPPY SPRING!

🌼🌸🌺GETTING READY FOR SPRING 🌼🌸🌺

Tue, 19 Mar by The Lore Group

🌼🌸🌺 GETTING READY FOR SPRING 🌼🌸🌺

How excited are we all for spring?! This year, it feels like winter just wouldn’t quit! And the recent warm weather has inspired us to welcome a fresh start. Our thoughts turn to opening those windows and welcoming in some of that brisk air. You should also be thinking about getting your home ready for spring. The tips below will help you make sure your family and Fort McMurray home are ready for a happy, clean and safe spring season.

SPRING CHECKLIST 

  • Clear snow from around your foundation & ensure rain and snow melt is free to run AWAY from your home
  • Make sure your window wells are free from debris
  • Keep your garage floor and driveway as clear as possible of snow and ice 
  • Replace your furnace filter as per the manufacturer’s instructions 
  • Wash your HRV filters (if applicable) 
  • Clean out the dryer vent
  • Make sure melting ice on roof is clear to drain to the eavestroughs and down and not covering your vents and whirly birds
  • Open your sump pail lid and ensure the float is free and operational (if applicable) Ensure your sump discharge is clear and directed away from your foundation (if applicable) 
  • Repair Cracks that may have occurred in your foundation, walkways, and patio 
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 
  • Inspect your air conditioning unit, outdoor faucets, lights
  • Check your Attic to ensure that there is no ice built up that might melt and cause Attic Rain
  • And last but not least clean up your back yard BBQ grill and get ready for some back yard fun. Summer is coming!

Please contact us any time @ 7803703325

What’s going on in Our Fort McMurray Market?

Wed, 13 Feb by The Lore Group

What’s going on in Our Fort McMurray Market?

 Real Estate Markets are constantly in flux and Fort McMurray is no exception.  Our Group would love to share with you real information based on facts and statistics, and clear up some of these common recent misconceptions. For home sellers, knowing all the data and facts surrounding the market is critical to helping you maximize the selling price.

 #1 The market is flooded with listings; 

Currently there are only 610 active and conditional listings on the market in the Fort McMurray Region. With the exception of  2018 (a very low listing month) This is actually a 12-25% decrease in number of homes for sale compared to the same month (January) during the last 5 years.

#2 All Homes are taking a long time to sell.

This is a Myth…There are many variables which impact the number of days it takes for a home to sell. Price, marketing, area, type of property, etc. While certain properties may take longer, the average days on market in Fort McMurray for January was only 78 days… so less than 3 months. So with the right price and a great marketing team on your side your home may be sold very quickly.

#3 Spring is the best time to sell.

Historically our busiest time of year is late spring. These months tend to mean higher number of sales, as well as lower average days on market. But does that mean you should wait? Sometimes, listing your home PRIOR to the spring market can give you an advantage. There is LESS competition, and buyers are out shopping for their homes in hopes to move in before the summer.

What does this mean for Sellers? January market stats still indicate a Buyer’s market, but the market IS moving, and homes ARE selling. If you are considering selling your home, and would like professional advice and our teams strategy for a timely & successful sale, at no obligation, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact us anytime.

KEEP THE NEST OR FLY THE COOP?

Fri, 04 Jan by The Lore Group

Retirement’s so close you can practically feel the sand between your toes and imagine the leisurely days when no alarm clock beckons you to work before the sun comes up. As you near this long sought after goal of new found freedom, there is much planning to do. One consideration may be whether to remain in your current Fort McMurray home and neighbourhood, downsize in your location, or perhaps even relocate.

Although you may have been a homeowner for decades, you might be OK with never having a mortgage payment again.There are plenty of reasons you may decide to put your house up for sale. If you own your Fort McMurray home outright or have a lot of equity, selling could be the boost your retirement accounts need.

The kids are grown and flown the coop, you may start to realize the home where you raised your family may now not perfectly suited to your new lifestyle…too many stairs & maintenance perhaps. Is much of your home unoccupied? If you want to stay in Fort McMurray, to be close to your grandkids, friends and family, downsizing is a good option for you.

Did you know that Sellers aged 52+ are typically buying smaller homes. It’s an opportunity to invest your home equity into another property. Less maintenance, more manageable utilities and taxes, easier access to services and healthcare. Perhaps you love to travel…a condo may provide the maintenance free lifestyle and security to allow you to pack a bag and go at the drop of a hat without worrying about who will water the lawns and shovel the huge driveway. The Fort McMurray Real Estate market offers many great smaller home and condominium options, at affordable pricing.

If you would like a complimentary professional market evaluation on your current home to assess whether selling is the right plan for you, or a consultation to explore new housing options that fit your retirement goals, one of our Lore Group Realtors would be pleased to meet with you. Call us today 780-370-3325!

THE SKY IS NO LIMIT WITH THE LORE GROUP WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING A BUYER’S ATTENTION

Mon, 19 Nov by The Lore Group

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Ft. McMurray Real Estate Board.
MLS®, Multiple Listing Service®, and the associated logos are all registered certification marks owned by CREA and are used to identify real estate services provided by brokers and salespersons who are members of CREA. 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.