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Tips for the First-Time Home Buyer

Wed, 25 Apr by Pauline Relkey

When venturing into the world of home ownership, first-time buyers often find themselves having to make important, fast decisions in what feels like a surreal situation — after all, it might have only been a few weeks since owning a home seemed more like a far-off daydream than an immediate reality. A few common sense tips will help you navigate these unfamiliar landscapes as you move towards one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

1. Get pre-approved
Though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage when you’re find a property, having one can give you a firm grasp on what you can afford before you start looking. A pre-approval from your bank or lender will save you time by narrowing your search to a more precise selection of homes, and this, in turn, can protect you from the all-too-common disappointment that follows setting your heart on a house you can’t afford.

2. Don’t expect your standards of living to change
It’s bound to happen: you see a house that maxes out your budget, but you imagine you can make it work by cutting out things like morning coffees, cellular data and cable TV. Remember, ‘roughing it’ for the sake of your house quickly loses its charm, and you’ll soon regret the lack of wiggle room for things like new furniture, redecorating, or unexpected repairs. Don’t regret your first home — avoid becoming ‘house poor’ by staying below the upper limit of what your bank is willing to lend you.

3. Make a list and check it as many times as it takes
Each property you consider will have its own unique combination of pros and cons, and going through them can feel a little like comparing apples to oranges. Don’t expect to stay clear-headed when the house with the poor walking score has the kitchen of your dreams; instead, stay on track by building a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves.” Though your list might evolve over time (especially if the “must haves” are rare for your price range), having a set of self-imposed guidelines can keep your search on course when you’re feeling overwhelmed by options.

4. Don’t confuse “first home” with “forever home”
Most first-time buyers start out a little starry-eyed, imagining that new home will be stylish, spacious, efficient … basically, everything they’ve been dreaming of. In reality, being able to afford a house that has everything you want is pretty rare in the first go-round, which can make you feel so discouraged you start closing yourself off to the available options. Remember, your ‘starter home’ doesn’t have to meet all the criteria of your ‘dream home,’ and the equity you’ll build for the next few years will get you closer to your goal.

With so much new information to absorb, steps to take, and decisions to make, buying a first home can feel like a rollercoaster ride. It’s important not to lose your head throughout all of it. Taking a few steps to keep your expectations rooted firmly in reality can help you glide through the process and feel confident in your final decision.

Want to be on TV?

Tue, 24 Apr by Pauline Relkey

I have been contacted by CBC to see if I have owners selling houses/looking to downsize/interesting stories/also if anyone is buying a cottage and what that experience is like for Canadians across the country.

The casting call will be sent out soon.

Four days of filming.

Selling between June and October 2018.

Let me know.

Some Basic garbage and recycling hints

Mon, 09 Apr by Pauline Relkey

This is a Facebook link to City of Regina. Very basic and kind of funny. Seems like they are teaching us how to tie our shoes. Click on the volume button bottom right to hear what they are saying.

Cart Instructions

Waste Wednesday:Watch John as he learns the four easy steps to using his recycling and garbage carts.Learn more at Regina.ca/waste

Posted by City of Regina | Municipal Government on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

8 Things to Consider Before Selling Your Home

Mon, 26 Feb by Pauline Relkey

As winter moves closer to the finish line, the annual spring real estate market heats up. There are many things to consider before you put your home on the market – here are 8 of the more critical ones.

1. Budget

Know what you can afford so that you don’t stretch yourself thin. Talk to your mortgage person.

2. Know the costs.

There are plenty of expenses when selling your home. Some are straightforward such as renovations and paying for movers. Others may not be as obvious – nor who pays for them – such as land transfer taxes (buyer pays), real estate agent commissions (seller), mortgage insurance (buyer), legal fees, bank fees and possibly capital gains taxes.

3. Find out your home’s worth.

Knowing how much you’re likely to get for your home can dictate how much you may be able to afford when buying another house. Do your research by checking what similar homes have sold for in your neighbourhood. The best way to do this is to meet with your Realtor who will be listing your house for sale.

4. Choose a real estate agent.

You can choose to sell your home yourself to save the commission fees – but you also incur all the responsibility for writing legal contracts. Of course, I suggest that you choose a trusted real estate agent who knows your area and by asking for referrals. If your Realtor helped you find your present property and has stayed in touch with you, give her/him a call.

5. Decide when to sell.

Do you sell during the traditional peak markets of spring and summer or or off-season? Selling during the peak means more buyers and possible bidding wars, while selling off season means fewer homes competing with yours. As the saying goes, 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

6. Add visual appeal.

Creating curb appeal is an obvious benefit, but don’t forget to freshen up the interior as well. Make any minor renovations, declutter and consider staging, because professionally staged homes typically sell faster and for more.

7. Get a home inspection done.

While buyers will probably get their own inspections done, having one ready says that you’re confident in your home and have nothing to hide because you have taken care of what work is needed – it provides peace of mind for everyone.

8. Coordinate closing dates.

Being able to move from one home to another on the same day can be hectic and cause you stress. Hopefully you can take possession of your new place before you have to be out of your present one. If not, you may have to either rent another home short-term, put belongings in storage and generally cause unnecessary upheaval in your life. Talk to your bank about bridge financing.

Do you know your Credit Score?

Wed, 14 Feb by Pauline Relkey

GET YOUR CREDIT REPORT
Your credit history is an important part of your future – it can open doors for you or keep them locked. Decisions including approvals for loans and mortgage or rental applications may be affected by your credit history.

Make payments on time and always pay at least the minimum amount required
Notify creditors as soon as you move to ensure bills will arrive at your new location on time
Notify creditors right away if you experience problems making a payment
Review the accuracy of your credit report by checking with one of the two largest credit reporting agencies – Equifax or TransUnion
To receive a copy of your personal credit report, please send a written request to one of the following credit reporting agencies:

EQUIFAX CANADA INC.
Consumer Relations Department
Box 190 Jean Talon Station
Montreal, QC
H1S 2Z2
Phone: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 1-514-355-8502
www.equifax.ca to complete and mail Equifax’s Credit Report Request form.

Requirements:
Equifax requires a written credit report request including your name, address, date of birth and Social Insurance Number (optional). Please also include photocopies of two forms of identification (both sides) and remember to sign your request.

TRANSUNION OF CANADA
(For all provinces except for Quebec)
Consumer Relations Centre
P.O. Box 338, LCD 1
Hamilton, ON
L8L 7W2
Phone: 1-800-663-9980
7 a.m. until 8 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday
Visit www.tuc.ca for TransUnion’s Consumer Relations Information form

TRANSUNION (ECHO GROUP)
(For Quebec residents)
1 Place Laval
Suite 370
Laval, QC
H7N 1A1
Phone: 1-877-713-3393 or 1-514-335-0374
8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday
Visit www.tuc.ca for TransUnion’s Consumer Relations Information form

Requirements:
TransUnion requires a written credit report request including your name, address, previous address (if present address is less than five years), phone number (optional), date of birth, place of employment (optional), and Social Insurance Number (optional).

Please also include photocopies of two forms of identification (both sides) from the following list:

Driver’s Licence
Passport
Certificate of Indian Status
Age of Majority/Provincial ID
Citizenship Card
Department of National Defense Card
Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (with photo only)
Social Insurance Number (optional)
Credit Card (primary account holder)
Or, you can include one or more of the above along with one of the following:

Credit Card (secondary account holder)
Birth Certificate
Legion Card
Hunting/Fishing Licence
T4 Slip
Student Card (only with photo, signature and currently enrolled)
Employee ID/Union Card (only with photo, signature and current employer)
If more than one member of your household is requesting their credit report, each separate request must contain all of the above information.

January Residential Sales and Home Prices Move In Opposite Direction

Mon, 12 Feb by Pauline Relkey

2018 has started off to a solid start compared to the 2 previous years in Regina. (Personally I am saying not much of a change).

143 sales in Regina compared to 139 in 2017 = 2.8%.

The Home Price Index reported a price of $279,400 down from $293,600 one year ago. The downward direction on prices is because of the over supply of properties and it’s pushing sellers to keep reducing their asking prices.

We have 1,133 active residential listings on the market at the end of January, over 20% increase from 2017.

The ratio of sales to new listings for the month was 30% (meaning only 30% of listings sold). Still a buyer’s market.  Condos make up almost 30% of the listings which is high.

Click here for the full report.

Saving $ while Shopping

Mon, 05 Feb by Pauline Relkey

I just learned something new this past weekend. If you go to buy something and the scanned price is higher than the shelf price, you are entitled to get a discount, either free or $10 off.

On behalf of Canadian retailers, RCC manages the Scanner Price Accuracy Code.
To file a complaint under the Scanner Price Accuracy Code, please contact: 1-866-499-4599.

The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code (“the Code”) evolved from the collaborative efforts of Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). These associations are composed of national, regional and local retailers selling a wide assortment of general merchandise, as well as pharmaceutical and food products.
This diversity in the Canadian retail environment underscores the advisability of a voluntary code that can be widely used.
The Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code has been endorsed by the Competition Bureau.

PURPOSE
The purpose of the Code is to:
1. Visibly demonstrate retailer commitment to scanner price accuracy;
2. Provide retailers with a consistent national framework for dealing with scanner price accuracy issues; and
3. Provide the retail industry with a mechanism for consumer redress in scanner price accuracy cases, to be managed by the industry through an industry committee.

SCOPE
The Code applies to all scanned Universal Product Code (UPC), bar coded, and/or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise sold in stores, with the exception of goods not easily accessible to the public (e.g. prescription drugs and behind-the-counter cosmetics), and individually price-ticketed items.
The Code does not apply in provinces or territories where existing legislation or regulation covers these concerns.
A retailer adopting the Code must abide by the policies outlined below.

1. THE ITEM FREE SCANNER POLICY
Retailers will implement an Item Free Scanner Policy as follows:
1.1 On a claim being presented by the customer, where the scanned price of a product at checkout is higher than the price displayed in the store or than advertised by the store, the lower price will be honoured; and
(a) if the correct price of the product is $10 or less, the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge; or
(b) if the correct price of the product is higher than $10, the retailer will give the customer a discount of $10 off the correct price.
1.2 Where the same error recurs in scanning multiple units of a given product during a given transaction, the retailer will correct the scanning error in respect of each unit of the given product purchased, but is obliged to apply the policy set out in 1.1 (a) and (b) in respect of only one of the units.
1.3 Paragraph 1.1 only applies after the final sale price of the purchased item has been displayed at the checkout, including relevant rebate, discount or promotional coupons.
1.4 To be eligible for the Item Free Scanner Policy, the product must match the product description on the corresponding shelf tag.
1.5 The Item Free Scanner Policy does not apply if the barcode or shelf label for a given product has been tampered with.
1.6 The Item Free Scanner Policy does not apply to a product where, in respect of that product, the law:
(a) establishes a minimum price (or specified price); or
(b) does not permit the retailer to offer a discount or a rebate.
1.7 The Item Free Scanner Policy does not apply to a product that government legislation or regulation does not permit to be provided free or below a minimum price.
2.0 CORRECTION OF ERRORS
2.1 Once a scanner pricing error is brought to the attention of the retailer, appropriate steps should be taken as quickly as possible to correct the source of the error.
2.2 When a retailer cannot immediately correct a scanning error in respect of a product, it will post a correction notice in a conspicuous place. Once such a notice has been posted, the Item Free Scanner Policy is no longer in effect in respect of the relevant product.
3.0 RETAILERS’ RESPONSIBILITIES
3.1 All retailers will apply the Code, consistent with the philosophy and intent. In situations where retailers believe that customers’ requests are beyond the Code’s intent, these situations will be discussed with sponsoring Associations to ensure consistent application and remedies.
3.2 Retailers will establish appropriate internal policies and procedures for maintaining a high level of scanner price accuracy.
3.3 Retailers will display the sign attached hereto as Attachment 1 at all store entrances or in a conspicuous location near the store entrances. Retailers will display the sign attached hereto as Attachment 2 at each checkout station within their stores.
3.4 Retailers will train staff on the Code generally and the Item Free Scanner Policy in particular.
3.5 Retailers will have copies of their current advertising material (e.g. flyers, etc.) available and readily accessible for customer reference.
4.0 SHELF LABELS
4.1 For those products that are not individually price-ticketed, a clear and legible label must be affixed to the shelf next to the product.
4.2 The shelf label (peg label, basket label) must contain an accurate description of the item and shall include the price of the item or, where the item is sold at a price based on a unit of measurement, the price per unit of measurement.
4.3 The price on the shelf label must be in at least 28-point bold type print, and product description in at least 10-point type print.
4.4 A sign for a given product within the retailer’s premises which is not displayed with that product (i.e., is displayed elsewhere within the retailer’s premises), shall comply with the minimum requirements described above and be at least 38.71 sq. cm in size.
5.0 CUSTOMER RECEIPTS
5.1 The cash register receipt provided to the customer for a transaction must contain, at a minimum, the following information:
the retailer’s name;
the date of the transaction;
the nature of each item purchased and/or any distinguishing mark (subject to the system’s limitations); and
the price and description of each purchased item.
6.0 CODE MAINTENANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
6.1 A Scanner Price Accuracy Committee (“the Committee”) will be created to review the Code on an annual basis and to recommend required amendments. The Committee should be composed of representatives of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, CFIG, RCC and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC).
6.2 The Committee should be responsible for keeping the Code up to date.
6.3 The Committee should meet at least twice a year in order to supervise national implementation of the Code and consider any recommended changes to it.
6.4 The Committee should create sector specific panels (i.e. Grocery, Drug or General Merchandise). Each panel should:
(a) be composed of representatives of the respective trade associations and the CAC;
(b) review any outstanding complaints arising from the Item Free Scanner Policy; and
(c) recommend ways of resolving the complaint and provide relevant direction to the appropriate contact person.
6.5 The Committee shall prepare an annual report for the Competition Bureau concerning the number of complaints received and their resolution.
7.0 CONSUMER COMPLAINT PROCESS
7.1 When a scanner price error occurs, the cashier will be authorized to implement the Item Free Scanner Policy.
7.2 A customer dissatisfied with the cashier’s decision will be directed to the store manager or supervisor.
7.3 If the store manager or supervisor cannot resolve the dispute, the customer should be directed to a designated company representative.
7.4 The time period for considering a particular complaint should be left to the discretion of the retailer. However, generally complaints should be resolved as expeditiously as possible and, in any event, no later than one month after the error is alleged to have occurred.
7.5 In the event that the dispute between the retailer and the consumer cannot be resolved:
(a) either party may refer the complaint to the Scanner Price Accuracy Committee; and
(b) if the dispute remains unresolved it may, at the request of either party, be referred to a designated arbitrator on a cost recovery basis.

Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada Supporting Companies:
Shoppers Drug Mart
The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and ON only)
Lawton Drug Stores
London Drugs
Lovell Drugs
Pharmasave BC
RCC Supporting Companies:
Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
The Home Depot Canada
Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
Toys r Us
Rona
Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
The North West Company
Best Buy
2 Home Hardware franchisees
Canada Safeway Limited
The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
Loblaw Companies Limited
Sobeys Inc.
Metro Inc.
Thrifty Foods
Co-op Atlantic

CFIG Supporting Companies:
Thrifty Foods
Overwaitea Food Group
The Harry Watson Group
Longos Brothers Fruit Markets
Federated Co-operatives Limited
+ 1374 independent locations

What Home Inspectors Want Buyers and Sellers to Know

Fri, 08 Dec by Pauline Relkey

The home inspection process can be terrifying to go through, whether you are the seller or buyer.

For sellers, it’s like having your annual physical and you are being reprimanded by your doctor for not eating right and not exercising, etc.

For the buyers, it can be like finding your soulmate then discovering they are already married.

Don’t let the inspection stress you out. That’s not what your inspector wants either. All he wants is to do his job and provide you with an inspection report so that you are a happy customer.

Work with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are 7 essential things you should keep in mind.

For sellers

1. Move your pets
We know your puppy/cat/snake is adorable and totally considered a family member, but even if your home inspector loves dogs or cats, pets on the loose while the inspection is happening makes the job much more difficult. For example, inspections require opening exterior doors, offering pets far too many opportunities to run out the door. Or the home inspector is afraid of your pet. When you leave the premises for the inspection—and many inspectors and agents ask sellers to do so – please take your pets with you.

2. Don’t forget to clean
Whether you plan on being there for the inspection or not, make sure to clean up beforehand. No, you don’t need to turn your house into an isolation ward by cleaning like a mad person — an inspector won’t ding you because your fridge has fingerprints on the door. But all that clutter? Yeah, that’s all got to go. It makes a huge difference when the inspector walks into a property where everything is put away.

For buyers

1. Any property will have issues/problems
Your home inspector will likely come up with a seemingly endless list of problems after the walk-through. Don’t panic! The inspector has been hired by you to do his job and report on what he discovers.  Put it all in perspective.  If you have never owned property, you might be overwhelmed, but speak to a home owner and they will totally understand. Every property including the realtor’s and the inspector’s, have problems and/or maintenance things. You are not alone. But there are times when you should worry, as in a major, costly fix (foundation, roof, etc). But not every issue is critical. Your inspector will explain which problems you should tackle first and even give you an idea of the approximate cost.

2. Almost anything can be fixed
There are a few scary home inspection terms that seem to be in everyone’s vocabulary: mold, basement walls and asbestos. Yes, they are scary, but no scarier than a roof that needs replacing. Don’t worry so much about mold and radon! Everything is upgradable, fixable, or replaceable. You just need to have a list of what those things are and decide how you want to address them. That’s another of the many reasons you should have a realtor on your side helping you. We will explain all your options at that point.

3. One thing you should worry about is water
Here is one issue that you might want to stress out about (just a little) – water. No, it’s not a deal breaker. Remember that part where I said almost anything can be fixed? But it’s important to address any water-related issues before the deal closes—or at least immediately afterward. Make note of issues such as water marks, mold and leaky ceilings. And give special attention to the basement. Addressing water problems in the basement can be an expensive and difficult proposition.

4. Home inspectors can’t predict the future
You might want to know how many more years the roof will hold up—and while your inspector might be able to give you a rough estimate, he can’t give you a precise timeline. Inspectors don’t have X-ray vision to see through walls or examine the motherboard in that funky new fridge that talks to you. He can’t tell you how long some things will last, but he can comment on the shape it is in, but remember that is relevant to the age of what he is talking about. Yes a furnace might be old but if it’s working fine and doesn’t need major repairs yet, then keep using it until you are ready to buy a new one.

5. Find the balance between your emotions and facts
I see this happen a lot with buying couples. One buyer is emotional at the beginning and the other is practical. Then after the purchase, they  reverse roles and the emotional one becomes practical and the practical buyer becomes emotional. It’s easy to forget your love for the home when you’re counting the dollar signs and hours you might have to spend on repairs. Just remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and consider whether it’s a smart investment in your future. The justification can sometimes be a horrible process, because our brains are all about money and time and thinking about ‘What kind of mistake am I making?”

Barring any major renovations needed—such as a new roof or mold removal—your inspector’s visit will simply provide a to-do list. But not everything needs fixing immediately, so don’t let a long list dampen your love for the home. Just take things one at a time.

Regina Home Sales Down, Listings at an all time high

Tue, 28 Nov by Pauline Relkey

My summary – even though the above title is true, sellers aren’t budging much when it comes to price.

Listings in Regina reached a record high for October with 1,444 homes for sale.

Sales numbers in and around the city dropped to their lowest level since 2008.

Average time to sell was 61 days which is the longest average listing to sale time in the last decade. The average sale price for October dropped by 1%.

Causes are overbuilding and lack of pressure on both buyers and sellers.

Diversified economy means people still have jobs and thusly sellers don’t feel pressured to sell at lower prices. Sluggish provincial economy causes buyer uncertainty. Buyers feel that prices might soon decrease. Regina has not seen big changes in prices as in other major cities.

Mortgage rules are tighter which reduces buying power.

The complete article is here.

Regina Property Prices Stable Despite Number for Sale up 20%

Wed, 09 Aug by Pauline Relkey

Today’s Leader Post had an article about our latest real estate stats.

Our Association of Regina Realtors showed that at the end of July there were 1,512 residential properties for sale compared to 1,263 properties in July 2016. 30% of these listings are condos which is high.

Sask Trends Monitor says that this pattern of slightly fewer homes trading hands at slightly higher prices has been going on for several years now. We are at a maturing or leveling out of our housing market since the boom that happened in the mid-2000’s.

I personally have encountered quite a few price drops in the last 5 years so, as always, take this article, as the old saying goes, with a grain of salt.

For the full article, click here

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Association of Regina REALTORS® Inc.. 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.