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So you are moving.  Some advice to make it a great experience!  


In Alberta, anyone moving will get keys to their new home on “Completion Day” (otherwise known as closing or possession day).  I always recommend, where possible, to schedule moving 1-3 days after possession date.  Why?  Two key reasons:


1)    Sometimes, possession date gets delayed, usually because of mis-communications between clients, lawyers and bankers – it happens.  And it’s not fun if the movers are waiting on you to open the doors so they can unload their moving van.


2)    The other reason is that it gives the new home owner a chance to fully clean & prepare their new home for a great move in experience. 



Typical Moving Itinerary & Task List



8 Weeks Before


Sort & organize. Walk through every room and open every drawer; decide what to take to your new home and what to get rid of. Make a list of “keep” items that will require special packing or extra insurance coverage.


Purge. Throw out or donate items you no longer want, or sell them via a garage/yard sale.  If you have excess furniture you may want an auction house to do that work for you. 


Hire movers. Research moving companies. I have some that I could recommend.  Always ask to make sure they are bonded/insured.  Pick outfits that have a good track record.  Most importantly, get a written & signed work order from the mover so it minimizes any potential for mis-understandings.


4 Weeks Before


Start packing. Begin with items you use only rarely or seasonally and hold off on items you use frequently until just before moving day. Pack valuables separately & carry those items yourself if possible. 


Label, label, label. Mark each box with its contents and the room it’s destined for in the new house. The only exception: Don’t list contents on a box that contains valuables, to avoid theft.


Measure. Ensure that all of your belongings can make it out of your old home and into your new one; measure any tall, wide or oddly shaped items, as well as any doorways or tight spaces they’ll need to fit through, so there are no surprises on moving day.


Contact utility companies. Instruct existing utilities (well ahead of time) to disconnect services the day after your move; direct new utilities (well ahead of time) to ensure services are in place on possession day.


Clear your freezer & fridge. Start using up frozen food items that will be a hassle to move. Then tackle the pantry and fridge.


Change your address. Visit your local post office to officially change your address & have “mail forwarding” in place for a while.


Alert important parties of your new address. Notify your employer, banks, credit card companies, subscription services, friends and family of your move.  


1 Week Before


Confirm the movers. Contact the moving company and double-check your plans. Make sure the insurance in place is enough to cover your valuables.


Finish packing. Aim to complete the general household packing a couple of days before moving day.


Pack your emergency bag. Your last bag should contain at least one change of clothes — or more, for each person in the family, as well as all of the basics (e.g., phone charger, toilet paper) you need to survive for a few days without the items on the moving truck.


A Few Days Before


Touch base with the movers. Triple-check arrangements with the moving company. Verify how much you’ll owe on moving day, and what forms of payment are accepted. Ask for a cellphone number for the day-of contact, and confirm the crew’s arrival time. Prepare written directions to your new home and hand them to the movers on moving day.


Disassemble furniture. Place screws, brackets and fasteners in a small plastic storage bag, and label it.



The Don’t Pack List

Keep these items off the truck and close to you on moving day:


  • Important documents (e.g., passports, marriage license, birth certificates, any records containing bank account information or Social Security numbers)
  • Credit cards
  • Medication
  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Toilet paper
  • A change of clothes (one for each member of your household)
  • Snacks and water (for kids and pets)
  • Jewelry
  • Flashlight
  • Tape measure
  • Toolbox
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels
  • Cash
  • Any other valuables, heirlooms or irreplaceable items


Moving Day


Current Home


Meet the movers. Greet the moving crew and ensure that all workers are representatives of the moving company you hired.


Supervise the load-in. Assign a helper to watch the moving crew stack your belongings inside the truck, keeping an eye out for damage.


Keep valuables with you. Be sure the movers don’t mistakenly load boxes containing your laptop, jewelry, passports and other irreplaceables you should keep near you at all times.


Clean the old house. Tidy up rooms as the moving crew empties them, or consider hiring a cleaning service.


New Home


Roll out the flooring protector. Lay down a flooring protector at the new house, if your movers haven’t already done so.  Most “good” movers do this but bird dog them.


Show the moving crew around. Point out specific rooms so boxes end up where they belong.


Start unpacking. If you notice any damage to your boxes, set them aside until the moving company can return to inspect them. Take photos of the damage for your records.



I always recommend planning “take out” or “eating out” the day of your move.  More likely than not, you are not going to have everything unpacked plus the groceries that you need to make a decent meal.  And I suspect you’ll probably be pretty tired too.  Why not treat & congratulate yourself for the big move you just made!


You’ve gone through a lot of planning & work to get where you are.  Enjoy your new home and community!


403-651-4295

agentkchristensen@gmail.com

www.CowCityHomes.com

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It’s becoming more prevalent these days to see real estate ads “I guarantee to sell your home within 90 days or I’ll buy it myself!”.  In a down market such as we are currently in, this ad is used to lure prospective (& possibly desperate) sellers.


What does the governing regulatory body (the Real Estate Council of Alberta aka RECA) for all real estate professionals in Alberta have to say about it? 


Wary might not be the best word, but you do need to make sure you understand the details of the offer. This type of offer is a guaranteed sales agreement, and while there is nothing illegal or wrong with a real estate company offering this kind of arrangement, it is rarely the best option for consumers.”


Most outfits offering the home sale guarantee are using it to attract prospective sellers into their office – it’s the worm on the hook.  Once in the office, the seller is pushed towards a normal listing arrangement.  Yes, “bait & switch” is usually what happens.  The hard reality is that most brokerages do not have the capital to fund the purchase of homes outright.  Brokerages are regulated clearing houses, not banks with large sums of money to risk on property purchases in a soft market.


If this is something that does appeal to you, be very careful and make sure you have your lawyer read the entire agreement in full.  Here are some of the typical terms/conditions:


  • The guaranteed price is typically 10-20% below fair market value.
  • The seller will typically need to spend money to fix & repair any issues identified by a home inspection report.  And yes, the seller also pays for the home inspection.
  • The guaranteed home sale typically only applies to lower priced homes (below market average benchmark).
  • If you tried to sell your home before but couldn’t, it likely won’t qualify for the program.
  • Etcetera….


For most people, their home is their biggest investment.  Why would you not want to try to get the most for it in a sale?  If you have any questions & want no nonsense answers, feel free to contact me. 


403-651-4295

agentkchristensen@gmail.com

www.CowCityHomes.com

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With every home buyer there will be nuances, but below are the typical key steps that I share with a potential home buyer.  The steps I’ve laid out below are in reasonable chronological order.  This is how I operate with my home buyer clients so they know what to expect and can anticipate what they need to do next. 


  • Figure out what you can afford!
    • Determine a price range that works best for you – give yourself a certain margin of safety so you don’t end up cash poor.
    • Get financing in place before you start looking – Pre-approval is critical because you can miss out on rare opportunities if your bank does not have the mortgage paperwork ready for you.
  • Nail down what you want/need in a home:
    • List the top 5 most important considerations in looking for your new home and understand why.
    • What are your preferred communities, style of home, age of home?
    • What is your ideal size of house, # of bedrooms, # of bathrooms?
  • Set up a 1 hour consultation with a realtor to educate yourself about the real estate industry & the technology available to help you (which is constantly changing).  Most importantly, have the realtor help you develop a plan that will get you what you want.  If you go into the home buying process without a strategy, you will waste a lot of time needlessly.
  • Assemble a team of experts – You will need professional help at various stages of the buying process:
    • There is no upfront cost in doing this & it saves you a lot of unnecessary stress later.
    • Use a Real Estate Professional that you like and trust – signing the Authorization form to have a realtor represent you means that the realtor is legally obligated to look out for your interests first & foremost.  And when you show that you are committed to working with a realtor they will go the extra mile for you!  This is to your advantage!! 
    • You will need a lawyer – to ensure proper title conveyancing and to work through unforeseen issues & questions if they arise.   
    • Home Inspector is always recommended to ensure there are no problems with your new home.
    • Condominium Document Reviewer to ensure the Condominium Corporation is well managed.
  • Get yourself set up on a Professional Home Search after figuring out your wants and needs:
    • A good realtor will ensure you receive immediate updates on all properties for sale that match exactly with what you are looking for.  No need to waste time trolling websites for homes.
  • Request private viewings through your realtor on your favourite homes:
    • View your favourite properties early to make sure you don’t miss any great buy opportunities.
  • Before making an Offer to Purchase on a home you really want, several critical things need to happen first:
    • A good realtor will:
      • Help you make sure the home meets your wants/needs and identify any concerns. 
      • Contact the seller to find out status of home (any offers or conditional sale).
      • Pull complete historical title search to check all registrations and encumbrances, liens, caveats, restrictive covenants, encroachments, HOAs or any unusual items tied to the property.
      • Obtain a current RPR and ensure property is in compliance with municipal bylaws.
      • Complete a proper valuation of the home before recommending a negotiation strategy.
      • Figure out what to include & exclude from an Offer to Purchase, along with key terms to include in the Purchase Contract (ie: possession date, subject to walk through, other terms as circumstance requires).
  • Realtor makes an Offer on your behalf, helps negotiate terms/conditions and finalizes the Offer to Purchase Contract.
  • Realtor helps you work through Conditions & any other items to finalize the transaction so it becomes a firm Purchase Contract:
    • Ensure your bank financing is in place.
    • Help you complete a home inspection to your satisfaction.
    • Help you with other tasks as required.
  • You will need to notify all affected parties about your move:
    • Stakeholders & service providers need to know your new mailing address.
    • Change of Address to magazine subscriptions, friends, employer, etc.
    • Set up utility services at new address & cancel at old address.
    • Arrange insurance on your new home for possession date.
  • Meet with your real estate lawyer to prepare for the “closing process” which occurs 1-2 weeks prior to possession date (money & title transfer process).
  • Pack down all your belongings from old address & arrange for movers.
    • You get keys to your new home on possession day around noon.
    • Budget time for yourself to clean out unwanted stuff from the old address.
    • Pack down all remaining items that you want to keep. 
    • Clean your old place for the next person(s) who will live there.

A good realtor should be your “go to” resource and trusted advisor on a real estate transaction.  Part of that responsibility includes regular communication to make sure everything is on track along the journey and help you out where needed.


403-651-4295

agentkchristensen@gmail.com

www.CowCityHomes.com

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I encounter a lot of buyers who think they don’t need a realtor to help them find & buy a home.  Many home buyers just want to deal directly with the selling agent on a property of interest.  Their motivations for doing so vary.  Some think they can save money by not paying realtor fees.  Some think that they can negotiate a better price because one less realtor should equal a lower net cost.  And some folks just don’t like realtors because of some bad past experience.  As with any industry there are some bad realtors, but there’s also a lot of great realtors out there.


Before laying out the key points why a home buyer should use an independent realtor, some background context is essential:


  • The “listing agent” is the seller’s realtor.  When a home seller signs an agency agreement with a listing agent, that realtor has the highest duty of care & loyalty under law to look after the seller’s interest, first and foremost! 
  • The “buyer realtor” is the realtor working for the buyer.  When a buyer signs an agency agreement with a buyer realtor, that realtor owes the highest duty of care & absolute loyalty under law to that buyer. 
  • In most real estate transactions, the home seller agrees up front to pay the fees for both the seller’s realtor and the buyer’s realtor.  Only in very rare instances does a home buyer ever pay any realtor fees. 
  • Most real estate transactions have a seller’s realtor and a buyer’s realtor.  Both the seller and the buyer’s interests are properly looked after which is why most transactions go very smoothly.


With the above background context in mind, I’d like to lay out why home buyers should consider using their own realtor and NOT the listing agent/realtor when buying a home:


  • In most cases home buyers pay absolutely nothing to use a realtor of their choosing.  The seller pays the buyer realtor’s fees.  This is agreed to by the seller before the house is even listed on the market.
  • The listing agent (seller’s realtor) is not your friend regardless of how friendly they are to you.  The listing agent’s loyalty is to the seller – this is required by law.  That said, a home buyer can enter into a “transactional brokerage arrangement” with the listing agent where that agent is supposed to act impartially.  One has to ask themselves, how likely is that to occur?  Even if a listing agent could truly be impartial, they are not going to identify the critical questions & issues that a home buyer should be thinking about.  To do so, would not be acting impartially. 
  • Any way you look at it, a home buyer is significantly dis-advantaged when they don’t have their own realtor looking after their best interests.  In fact, the home buyer takes on potentially adverse risk unnecessarily.
  • To be clear there is no price reduction on a property because a home buyer decides to deal directly with a listing agent.  The reality is the listing agent will receive both the selling & buying fees if the home buyer does not have their own realtor.  It’s called “double ending”.  It’s great for the listing realtor but of absolutely no benefit to a home buyer!


I hope this article was useful for you.  If you have any questions or want to pass on any comments feel free to message me via the contact form below.


403-651-4295

agentkchristensen@gmail.com

www.CowCityHomes.com

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A very common question I get is what should I renovate/upgrade before selling my home.  It really depends on the condition of your home.  If your home has a health or safety issue then you should remedy that first, if not for yourself, certainly for a prospective buyer.


The simple fact is that most renovations/upgrades do not yield a positive return to a seller.  For example if you spend $100,000 on renovations to your property before selling, you are likely to get 70-80% of your money back.  And that assumes you are paying a reasonable fee to professional trades people to do the work.  I always tell people that if you are thinking about doing renovations to your home, make sure you are doing it for you and not for the next owner.  Make sure you enjoy the renovations yourself because the next owner is likely to have very different tastes & preferences to yours.  In fact, they may end up tearing down the home to rebuild something completely different.  I’ve seen it happen!


There are definitely some things worth doing before putting your home on the market.  One of the obvious things is a coat of fresh paint if your home needs it.  It’s low cost and usually gives you a strong positive return.  The other suggestion is to look after minor fixes & maintenance to ensure your property is good working order.  People can tell very quickly if a home has been well looked after or neglected.  Guess which homes sell faster & for more money.


I have a Home Renovation Guide written by professional appraisers, which provides indicative costing for various types of renovations and the likely return on investment when you sell your home.  I’d be glad to share it with you if you are interested.  I’d also be happy to answer any specific questions that you may have about what to fix/upgrade if you are thinking about selling.  It’s as simple as messaging me below.


403-651-4295

agentkchristensen@gmail.com

www.CowCityHomes.com

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Have You Checked Your Credit Score Recently?  It Could Save You Thousands of Dollars.

 

If you haven’t, you may want to find out what your credit score is and review the history that is currently determining your score with Equifax or TransUnion.  Why?  Ultimately, your credit score will determine the interest rates that a financial institution will apply to a mortgage that you have.  In a many cases, it’s quite simple and straight forward to fix and manage the score so that your interest costs don’t take a bigger bite than they should.  Sometimes there are blatant errors on your credit history that are easy to fix, if you take the time to look.  Any decent banker or mortgage specialist should be able to help you with it. 


Just as an illustration, if you have a mortgage of $250,000 over 25 years at 3.5%, that translates into about $123,000 in total interest costs.  If your interest rate is 4.5% because you have a low credit score, the total interest is about $163,000.  That’s $40,000 in extra interest costs.  That’s huge because you are making your monthly payments with after tax dollars. 


The cost/benefit of optimizing your credit score is compelling.  If you need names of any mortgage specialists, let me know.  


403-651-4295

agentkchristensen@gmail.com

www.CowCityHomes.com

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Data supplied by CREB®’s MLS® System. CREB® is the owner of the copyright in its MLS® System. The Listing data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by CREB®.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.
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