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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

House prices down in Canada

Tue, 18 Jul by Pauline Relkey

Take a look at what the Canadian Real Estate Association said about Canada’s housing situation.

CREA said home sales fell by 6.7 per cent last month compared to May — the sharpest monthly decline since 2010 and the third straight monthly contraction.

For the report, please click here.

Home Fixes Before Selling

Thu, 13 Jul by Pauline Relkey

Prioritize the projects that will bring the most value

Fix it to sell.

Structural is just as important as cosmetic.

Give the buyers what they want — create the “wow” factor.

The process of getting a property ready to put on the market can seem daunting enough. There is clearing the clutter, cleaning, organizing and scrutinizing your property with a fine-tooth comb. What needs attention and what can you leave alone?

Welcome to the new world of “fixing to sell.” Gone are the days of throwing it on the market and seeing what happens. Prepping for sale is a highly choreographed dance of repair along with a bit of renovation and presentation.

Pay attention to these 7 areas.

1.Structural and mechanical
It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking at big-ticket items like the age and condition of the roof, air conditioning and heating systems, electrical panel and pipes.

You don’t have to replace all, but if any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well as insurability of the property.

Appraisers can be notorious for requiring a roof to be replaced, for example, as a condition of a loan. Replacing a roof that is at the end of its life before putting your home on the market will go a long way to solidifying buyer confidence in deciding to make an offer. The buyer (and you) won’t have to sweat what an inspector says, deal with a potential renegotiation before closing or face a price reduction. The last thing you want to be doing is putting on a new roof in the midst of trying to pack.

If you lack the budget to replace these items, get estimates on the cost involved to replace. You can always offer to contribute to the replacement cost in the form of a credit to the buyer’s closing costs.

2. Exterior

How does the exterior of your home look? Is there any wood rot? When was the last time it was painted? Are there any stucco cracks that need attention?

First impressions start from the outside, and the exterior will show up in photos across a multitude of websites, etc. This is definitely an area worth spending the money.

3. Landscaping

Speaking of the exterior, how does your landscaping look? Are the trees and shrubs overgrown, worn and wilted? What about the ground cover? Are the planting beds in need of some fresh mulch, pine straw, rock, etc.? Are there any overgrown tree limbs hanging over the house or blocking the home’s view? For a relatively inexpensive investment, you can transform how your exterior looks by trimming back and freshening things up with new plants and landscaping.

4. Cosmetic

Buyers buy with their eyes, so now is the time to go through the interior in detail. Are there dents and dings on the walls, scratched moldings or worn paint? Now is the time to spruce up the inside with a fresh coat of paint. Pick light, neutral and on-trend colors. Choose a neutral palette that will transition well with any buyer’s furniture. The latest trend is a combination of grey and beige.

Look at your light fixtures, ceiling fans and light switches — these are relatively inexpensive things to update and replace, yet they go a long way toward creating value. The front door? This is critical! Does it need a fresh coat of paint or new hardware? Consider adding a glass panel to create light that evokes a sunny and warm space.

5. Kitchen

This area is always huge with buyers. Even if the buyers barely know how to boil water, they always envision themselves in the kitchen cooking and entertaining or perhaps auditioning to be the next Food Network TV star surrounded by sleek appliances and cabinetry.
Here’s where you need to give them the look for less. Think new hardware on cabinets, adding or changing out a dated tile backsplash and updating appliances. Also, consider changing out counters — you might be able to find a reasonably price remnant of a granite slab.

6. Bathrooms

Simple and clean rules the day. Sprucing up your bathrooms to sell can be as simple as having the grout on the existing tile steam cleaned or regrouting where needed. Caulking, new plumbing and light fixtures along with mirrors can create value.

7. Flooring

What you walk on creates value. If you can only afford to make the investment in one significant part of your home, consider updating the flooring. There are a ton of low-cost options to choose from that include wood plank tiles and highly upgraded laminate flooring — think wide plank, light colored or hand-scraped styles. New flooring can totally transform the look of your space and give it the “wow” factor that buyers desire. New flooring can transform the look of your space and give it the ‘wow’ factor that buyers desire.

In undertaking for sale preparation, strike a delicate balance between what to fix and what to leave alone, but in the end, make the right improvements that will result in a faster sale for top dollar.

Condo Info

Wed, 28 Jun by Pauline Relkey

CONDO INFORMATION

Condominium Living
A condominium is a form of home ownership in which individual units of a larger complex are sold, not rented. Contrary to popular belief, the word “condominium” does not apply to the type of unit itself, but to the legal ownership arrangement.

Those who purchase units in a condominium technically own everything from their walls inward. All individual owners have shared rights to most common areas, such as hallways, pools and grounds, parking lots and roadways. Maintenance of those areas becomes the responsibility of a condominium association. Every owner owns a share of interest in the condo association, plus an obligation to pay monthly dues or special fees for larger maintenance problems.

People who benefit most from condo living are those who don’t mind having close neighbours and people who don’t want to be bothered with outside maintenance or grounds keeping.

One thing to be aware of when living in a condo setting is the political reality of the owners’ association. Decisions may be made in monthly meetings that will cost individual owners more money, but not necessarily deliver equal benefits for all. It can be nearly impossible not to be impacted by at least one condo board decision and it is to your benefit to participate in meetings and discussions.

What is a Condominium?
A condominium is a form of real property ownership that has two distinct parts: you own your condominium unit to which you get a title and you also jointly own common property with the other unit owners in your complex.

Owning a condominium is not the same as renting an apartment where all the duties and responsibilities of running the building are handled by the building owner and caretaker. In a condominium complex, ownership responsibilities belong to you and all the other unit owners in your condominium corporation.

Some examples of residential condominiums are an apartment within an apartment building, a duplex, a bungalow or a townhouse.

Non-residential condominiums may be commercial outlets, resorts, timeshares and bare land units.

Condominium Unit
The exact boundaries of each condominium unit are identified in a condominium plan.

When you buy a unit you acquire title to a space that is usually bound by walls, floors and ceilings. You are responsible for the maintenance, repair and remodelling of your unit. However, you may need the board’s permission to remodel your unit if the changes impact the common property.

Common Property


The common property in a condominium complex is everything that is not within a unit identified in the condominium plan. It usually includes the space and facilities outside the condominium units, such as roofs, front steps, sidewalks, eaves, driveways, outside electrical systems and landscaped areas. Your share of the costs for the maintenance and repair of the common property is determined by your unit factor.

Unit Factor
The unit factor identifies your portion of the joint ownership of the common property. The developer assigns a unit factor to every condominium unit when registering the condominium plan. The sum total of the unit factors for all the units in a condominium plan is 10,000. Developers must disclose how they set the unit factor. It is important to know the unit factor assigned to your unit because it will affect your condominium contributions and your voting rights.

Insurance
Insurance on the entire structure of the condominium complex is the responsibility of the condominium corporation. The corporation must have replacement cost value insurance on the property for all perils covered by standard insurance policies. Check the policy for exclusions. There must also be insurance for any liability incurred by the board or corporation when carrying out their duties and responsibilities.

You will need to buy your own insurance to cover your personal property, personal liability and perhaps any changes made to your unit. Check the bylaws to see if unit improvements are covered under the corporation’s policy. Ask your insurance agent or broker for more information. The condominium corporation can give you a certificate of insurance that provides your agent or broker with information about the extent of the corporation’s insurance policy.

Condominium Corporation
A condominium corporation is created when the developer registers the condominium plan with Saskatchewan’s Land Titles Office. The condominium corporation consists of the owners of all the units identified in the condominium plan.

As a legal entity it can sue for damages to the common property and it can be sued regarding any matter for which the owners are jointly liable. An agent or employee of the corporation can act on behalf of the corporation.

Bylaws
Bylaws regulate the corporation. They provide for the control, management and administration of the units, the common property and any other real and personal property owned by the corporation. A board of directors is elected by the unit owners to carry out the condominium corporation’s responsibilities.

Condominium bylaws vary greatly. Some for example, may not allow children or pets to live in the complex. In other complexes if you wish to remodel the interior of your unit you may have to seek approval from the board of directors if the common property or building structure is affected. Keep a copy of any correspondence you have with the board.

Make sure you know what bylaws govern the condominium you own and your rights and responsibilities.

Owners can change the bylaws to suit their particular complex by passing a motion to adopt the changes. A special resolution, requiring the approval of 75% of the owners named on the unit titles and representing not less than 7,500 unit factors is required to make any changes to the bylaws. Changes are effective after the board registers the changes at a Land Titles Office.

Owners, and everyone occupying a unit, are bound by the bylaws of the corporation. If there is a conflict between the bylaws and the Condominium Property Act, the Act applies. The Act and specific bylaws give the corporation the right to impose sanctions, like fines, on owners who fail to comply with the bylaws.

Board of Directors
Every condominium corporation has a board of directors elected by the owners to carry out the corporation’s responsibilities. The bylaws outline how many directors sit on the board, how often they are elected, and if there are any eligibility requirements.

Directors are volunteers who agree to take on the responsibility of running the condominium for at least 1 term. Two thirds of the members of the board must be unit owners or mortgagees, unless otherwise stated in the bylaws. The board conducts its business by holding regular meetings, usually quarterly. The board must report to the owners at annual general meetings or extraordinary general meetings.

Each director has the responsibility to act honestly and in good faith in exercising the power and in discharging the duties of the board. Every director must declare any conflict of interest and not vote on matters that may involve a conflict.

It is important to remember that the board of directors must make decisions in the best interests of the entire corporation and all the owners, which will sometimes conflict with what individual owners might want to do.

Board of Director’s Responsibilities
The board is responsible for:
• Abiding by and enforcing the Act, regulation and corporation’s bylaws.
• Managing, administrating and maintaining the common property.
• Setting and collecting condominium contributions and dealing with the financial administration of the corporation (financial statements must be prepared according to generally accepted accounting practices).
• Preparing and approving an annual operating budget and reserve fund budget and providing those budgets to the owners before the annual general meeting.
• Placing and maintaining insurance on the property for perils covered by standard insurance policies or any other perils identified in the bylaws and the regulation.
• Placing and maintaining liability insurance for the board or corporation with respect to carrying out their duties and responsibilities.
• Establishing, maintaining and administering the capital reserve fund and preparing and distributing an annual report on the reserve fund to the owners.
• Conducting a reserve fund study every five years and preparing a reserve fund plan.
• Hiring and supervising employees, contractors and a condominium manager or management company.
• Reviewing and updating the bylaws and with proper notice, presenting the changes to the owners for approval.
• Holding an annual general meeting and reporting on their stewardship of the corporation.
• Responding, within 10 days, to a written request from an owner, purchaser, or a mortgagee of a unit, for information on contributions due and payable, copies of agreements, bylaws, minutes of the board or general meetings, budget, recent financial statements, insurance, and the reserve fund study report or plan or annual update (if available), as required under the Act and the regulation.

The board may charge a reasonable fee for these documents.

Property Manager
The Property Manager is hired by the Board to carry out the individuals have many responsibilities to the community itself and should be chosen by the board with great care, as they will be directly involved with the owners themselves. Ideally your community will benefit if this person has strong social interaction skills and is well liked within the community. This serves to build strong ties between unit owners and the board, insuring smooth relationships and ease of communication.
Since one of the most important responsibilities of condo management is that of a liaison between the board of directors and the owners of the units, it stands to reason that this person will be the one that the unit owners go to for general correspondence. Representing the collective group of homeowners is no small task. When there is a discrepancy or an emergency of some kind, it is the responsibility of the management to be on the front lines, resolving the issue and being the person in charge to insure that legally as well as mechanically, the homeowners have someone on their side.

Condo management also has a responsibility to supervise all employees of the property, including maintenance workers, repairmen of various kinds and contracted labor. They need to be paid, their payroll taxes need to be taken out, and the financial stability of the property itself must be tended to and secured. This person is also responsible for keeping records of all correspondence with unit owners and repair persons, and keeping an account of all funds that are spent, what they are spent on and who they are paid to. Even if the property itself is small, this can be a large task to complete.

If unit owners question the validity or feasibility of certain rules or restrictions that have been created within the community, condo management is who they will go to in order to get the ball rolling to either amend or completely do away with the rule. The manager represents the unit owners in front of the board in every instance. It is vital that they are holding the best interests of the unit owners firmly in mind.

In addition, creating the annual budget for the property is yet another one of the responsibilities that condo management may be required to take on. It takes a great deal of energy, time and work to keep an entire condominium community running smoothly and operating sufficiently at all levels. Consideration must be given to financial responsibilities, maintenance responsibilities, emergency actions and unit owner/board relations.

Finding someone with a strong, genuine work ethic who understands this type of responsibility can be challenging. Seek out bids from many different candidates, and take your time making the decision. Award this type of responsibility only after a thorough background search and many interviews have been conducted. Finding the right person for the job is more important than filling an empty seat. The unit owners will surely agree.

Condo fees
The condo corporation needs money to meet its financial obligations – paying for insurance premiums, snow removal, grass cutting, repairs to common property, reserve fund, etc. The main source of income for the corporation is the money paid by the owners in their condo contributions (often referred to as a condo fee).

Contributions are normally set annually and paid monthly, however the board can levy special assessments (1 or more lump sums) if the corporation needs to raise extra funds to meet its obligations.

The board sets contributions by taking into consideration the budgeted needs of the corporation and the unit factors (for each unit). Corporations can change the formula for allocating condominium contributions, if the owners pass a special resolution to amend the bylaws. Make sure you know how your condominium contributions are calculated. Be aware that condominium contributions can and do go up!

A condominium corporation has the right to collect unpaid condominium contributions.

The corporation can:
• Ask the owner’s mortgage company to pay the outstanding amounts and add it to the owner’s mortgage.
• Require an owner’s tenant to pay the monthly rent to the corporation to cover the unpaid condominium contributions.
• File a caveat against the title to the unit at the owner’s expense.
• Charge interest (up to 18% per year on outstanding amounts).
• Sue the owner for all outstanding contributions, interest and its full legal fees.
• Foreclose on the title to the unit.

The board of directors, elected by the owners, makes most of the decisions on the running of the corporation. As an owner of a unit you have the right and obligation to vote. Your voting rights are determined by the Condominium Property Act, the bylaws of your condominium corporation and by the unit factor for your condominium unit.

At most general meetings, votes are conducted by a show of hands. The bylaws clarify who has the right to vote if more than 1 person owns the unit.

Bylaws permit owners to ask for poll votes at meetings. In a poll vote the person’s share of the unit factor assigned to the unit determines the weight of that owner’s vote.

You may exercise your right to vote personally or by proxy. If you have a mortgage, the first mortgagee may have the right to vote in your place if it gives the corporation written notice of the mortgage.

If you owe money to the corporation for 30 days or more on the day before a vote, you lose your right to vote.

Owners can vote on matters presented at any general meeting and on bylaw changes, changes to the common property and other matters permitted under the Act, regulation and the bylaws. It is important that owners vote to elect the board of directors and to change the bylaws.

Reserve Funds
The Condominium Property Act requires that condo corporations establish and maintain a capital replacement reserve fund to provide for major repairs and replacement of property and common property owned by the corporation. As buildings age they need to be repaired and maintained e.g. the roof of the complex needs to be replaced. The same is true of other parts of the common property such as the asphalt in the parking lot, underground utilities, or services and landscaping. Condo owners must pay for the repair or replacement costs of the property owned by the corporation. The reserve fund is not used for repairs or replacements that are done annually.

Condo corporations registered before September 1, 2000 must have completed a reserve fund study and a reserve fund plan by September 2002. Reserve fund studies must be conducted every 5 years.

Condo corporations registered after Sept. 1, 2000, have 2 years from the registration date to do a reserve fund study and approve a plan.

The Act gives the board the responsibility and power to make decisions around the reserve fund. Although a responsible board will provide information to and obtain input from the owners, it need not consult the owners before making decisions on the reserve fund.

The board must:
• Engage a qualified person to conduct and prepare a reserve fund study.
• Receive a reserve fund report from the qualified person.
• Prepare and adopt a reserve fund plan.
• Provide a copy of the approved reserve fund plan to the owners before implementing the plan.
• Maintain the reserve fund at an appropriate level so that the corporation can meet the statutory requirements.
• Maintain the reserve fund in a separate trust bank account and not combine the funds with other corporation funds except when bills are paid under the reserve fund plan and ensure all managers or other persons handling the corporation money do the same.
• Prepare and provide to the owners, before or at the time of giving notice of every annual general meeting, an annual report on the reserve fund; including the opening balance, money in and out, where the income came from, what money was spent during the year and the list of property repaired or replaced and the costs incurred for the repair or replacement.
• Not use the reserve fund for “improvements” unless the owners vote by special resolution to allow it (improvements are normally changes, enhancements, alterations or additions to the common property or property owned by the Corporation which are not listed in the reserve fund study report).

How much money should be in the reserve fund?
Each condo corporation will have a different amount in its reserve fund. The corporation determines how much money it should have in its reserve fund by completing a reserve fund study. The reserve fund study is prepared for use by the condo board, owners and buyers. It is not reviewed by the government.

How is the reserve fund funded?
Corporations may meet their funding requirements by:
• Increasing condo contributions (permanently or for a set period).
• Levying special assessments (immediately or in the future).
• Borrowing money.
• Using any combination of the above requirements.

This gives the corporation maximum flexibility as to how and when to deal with repair and replacement costs, while at the same time enabling it to deal with any potential surprises and undue hardship for owners.

For example, if the corporation does not have enough money in the reserve fund to cover significant repairs or incurs other large unexpected expenses, the board may require each condominium owner to pay a special assessment to cover the costs.

Reserve Fund Study
The Reserve Fund Study is a requirement of the Condominium Property Act and examines whether there is sufficient money set aside to repair and replace the common property and any real or personal property owned by the condo corporation, where the repair or replacement does not occur annually. A qualified person must, complete the reserve fund study and prepare a report for the common property and other property owned by the corporation to:
• identify what property may need to be repaired or replaced within the next 25 years (create an inventory).
• assess the present condition of the property and estimate when the property will need to be replaced or repaired.
• estimate the costs of repair or replacement or the property, at a cost no less than current costs.
• identify the life expectancy of the component when it is repaired or replaced.
• identify the current level of funds in the reserve fund, if any.
• recommend the amount of money, if any, that should be included in or added to the reserve fund.
• describe the basis for determining the current level of funds and recommend the amount of money required.

Who can do a reserve fund study?
Only a “qualified person” can do a reserve fund study.

A qualified person would be someone who, based on reasonable and objective criteria, is knowledgeable about:
• Depreciating property.
• The operation and maintenance of depreciating property.
• The costs of replacements or repairs to depreciating property.

Your Rights and Responsibilities for living in a condo
When you own a condominium unit you have the right to:
• Vote in matters presented to the owners for a vote, provided your condo fees are current.
• Access common areas, subject to the bylaws.
• Obtain information on the management or administration of the corporation.
• Use mediation, arbitration or court action to resolve disputes with the corporation, the board or other owners.
• Legally challenge improper conduct of a developer, condominium corporation, employee of a corporation, director, or other owner.

Along with having specific rights as a condominium owner, you also have the following responsibilities:

• To inform yourself about the Act, the regulation, the bylaws, the policies and the governance of the condominium corporation.
• To abide by the Act, the regulation, the bylaws, the policies, and to have your family, tenants and guests do so.
• To participate in governing the condo corporation (i.e. attend general meetings, information sessions and serve on the board or on a committee, vote).
• To read the minutes of the general meetings and board meetings, the budget and financial statements, the corporation’s newsletter.
• To express your views, provide feedback to the board when requested to do so, put any complaints or concerns in writing to the board for follow up.
• To keep the board aware of circumstances in the condo complex which might affect funding or other decisions.
• To maintain your own unit and any exclusive use common property.
• To obtain insurance on your unit and your own belongings.
• To pay all condo contributions and assessments on time.

Every owner should have a copy of the condo plan, the bylaws, the Act and regulations. Owners can get a copy of the condo plan and bylaws from a registry agent. You will need to know the condo plan number (letters and/or numbers) to obtain these documents.

Taxes
You will pay municipal taxes on your condo unit. The current taxes should be noted in the purchase documents. It’s a good idea to double check with the municipal government to confirm the taxes.

Entering the Unit
No one may enter your unit without your consent or without giving you proper notice unless there is an emergency. An emergency would include the provision of water, power, and heat or any other service that would affect other owners. If there is no emergency, you must be given at least 24 hours notice before someone can enter your unit to repair the problem. The notice must be in writing, state the reason for entry and set a date and time for entry. The hours for entry are between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Renting Units
If you want to rent your unit to someone else, you must inform the corporation in writing of your intent, your future address and the amount of the monthly rent. You must name your tenant in writing to the corporation within 20 days after the tenancy starts.

The corporation may require that you pay a deposit that could be used to repair or replace common property damaged by your tenant. The amount of the deposit cannot be more than one month’s rent.

If you do not pay your condo fees, the corporation can direct the tenant to pay all or part of the rent to the corporation to cover your unpaid fees.

The tenant is bound by the bylaws of the corporation. If your tenant contravenes the bylaws or damages the common property or the corporation’s property, the corporation can ask you to evict the tenant. It can also give the tenant and you the notice directly.

The Residential Tenancies Act may affect you and your tenant if you are renting a residential unit. If there is a conflict between the Residential Tenancies Act and the Condominium Property Act, the Condominium Property Act applies.

How to Use Prepayments to Be Mortgage Free, Faster

Wed, 14 Jun by Pauline Relkey

Using your mortgage prepayment options can drastically reduce the total amount you spend on your mortgage and shorten the time it takes to pay it down. If you follow these 3 steps, you can be mortgage free sooner than ever!

1. Know your prepayment privileges
Most mortgages have allowances for you to prepay down your mortgage faster. The standard prepayment amount allowed per payment can vary depending on your mortgage provider.

Your mortgage provider may be able to increase and decrease your prepayment privilege at any time throughout the life of your mortgage.

This means that if any life event occurs and you need to reduce your payment to the minimum, you might be able to. Most mortgage providers allow this free of charge, but with some providers you can only change your payments a set number of times throughout the year.

2. Increase your payments
Anytime you increase your payments, the excess that you pay per payment goes directly onto the principal portion of your mortgage. This is a great way to drastically reduce the interest you will have to pay over the term of your mortgage.

Typical prepayments allow you to add between 10% to 20% of your payment amount to each payment, depending on your lender. Some lenders also allow the use of “double up payments” which let you double each payment!

Here’s an example of prepayments being used on a typical mortgage:

All calculations are based off of a $400,000 mortgage with a 5 year term and 25 year amortization at a rate of 2.59% with monthly payments.

No Prepayments:
Monthly payments: $1,809.84
Principal paid over 5 year term: $60,836.51
Interest paid over 5 year term: $47,753.89
Mortgage amount remaining: $339,163.49
Years remaining on mortgage after 5 years: 20 Years

Adding a 15% Prepayment:
Monthly payments: $2,081.32
Principal paid over 5 year term: $78,201.00
Interest paid over 5 year term: $46,678.20
Mortgage amount remaining: $321,799.00
Years remaining on mortgage after 5 years: 15 years & 9 months

As you can see, the mortgage was reduced by $17,364.49 and you saved $1,075.69 in interest! The mortgage term was reduced by 9 years and 3 months in only 5 years!

3. Make a lump sum prepayment
Making a large payment can be a great option for paying down your mortgage, but may not be ideal for everyone. Lump sum payments help you reduce the amount of interest you will be required to pay on your mortgage. They can also be used to reduce your mortgage amount before selling your home and will reduce the penalty you will be required to pay.

Lump sum payments are usually between 10% – 25% of the mortgage total. Typically, you can make a lump sum payment onto your mortgage once a year. Every mortgage provider has their own specific guidelines for how you can make a lump sum payment in a calendar year. Your provider may require you put down a minimum amount for a lump sum prepayment, or you may only be eligible for one on the anniversary date of your mortgage.

If you decide that prepayments are for you, you can achieve mortgage freedom sooner than ever!

Contact me today if you are looking for a mortgage person and I will be happy to connect you with a couple of great people I have worked with.

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.