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Saskatchewan Health Cards and Organ Donation

Thu, 05 Oct by Pauline Relkey

Did you recently get your renewal stickers and organ donation card in the mail?
You can sign up online to make any changes to your address, phone number, name, date of birth, marital status, death, birth, attending school out of province, extended vacation or absence from Sk of 7+ months.
change@HealthSask.ca
1-800-667-7551
2130 11th Ave, Regina, Sask.

Discuss organ donation with your loved ones so that they know of your wishes because they can say no, even if you signed this paper.

Every year, thousands of Canadians are added to organ wait lists. Although 1 donor can save up to 8 lives and benefit more than 75 people, hundreds of Canadians die each year waiting for an organ that never comes.

Spain has the highest organ donation rate in the world — 36 donors per million people in 2014. Today, Canada’s rate is half that — 18 donors per million people — and in the lower third of developed countries.  Even the United States is doing better that us, at 26 donors per million. Why are our numbers so low?

Expand the pool of potential donors
Find better ways of transporting organs.
Train doctors to be donation specialists.
Have a national organ donation registry
Become an organ donor and make your wishes known to family. Check out the Canadian Transplant Society for info about your End of Life Directive form http://www.cantransplant.ca/home/.

In January of 2015 the Van de Vorst family of 4 was killed in a collision near Saskatoon. Their donated organs helped more than 50 people. Through all the sadness and grief their remaining family had to endure, they still saw fit to donate their organs.  I think more of us need to sign up for organ donations. Let me know if at least one of you reading this does sign up.  It’ll make my day.  And yes I have signed up.

Questions to Consider Before Meeting With a Home Designer

Wed, 13 Sep by Pauline Relkey

Designers typically charge an hourly rate for design services, so clients should do their homework before meeting with one. Think about what you want, what you NEED and what you can afford. If you think about these things before you meet with your designer, it can save you time and money.

To create a home that best serves you and your family, designers need to know your lifestyle, how you use your space, who uses the space and more. In other words, a designer needs to get inside your head. To help you prepare, here are things you should be able to answer about your space before meeting with your designer.

1. Who uses the space, and what activities will take place there? Having a list of all the uses for the space will help your designer get a feeling for the overall function. Is the room a personal space, like an office or a bedroom? If so, s/he might need to focus on creating an inspiring or a calming atmosphere.

Or maybe it’s a family room that is used by the entire family and needs to be a multifunctional place where teens do homework and everyone watches tv and plays games. Answering those questions will allow your designer to hone in on the function of the space, who uses it and why.

Also look at how big the space is. Does it allow for segregated areas or do we need to use a table as a multipurpose piece for both dining and homework?

Furniture that has multiple functions is a big space saver. A coffee table with a top surface for playing games and for extra seating, as well as a storage area below for books and toys, provides versatility.

2. Does the traffic pattern work in the space, or does the space feel cramped or underutilized? A major walkway should be at least 40 inches wide and the larger the walkway, the better. If you report that you often feel as though it’s a tight squeeze when multiple people are using a space, then a designer may remove the furniture and reconfigure it to accommodate a better flow.

For a kitchen usually islands are preferred over peninsulas if possible. An island opens up the space from every direction of the kitchen, whereas a peninsula allows for only one walkway. Again, it depends on the space, and your designer will be able to help you configure the best traffic flow. Sitting down and thinking about those times you’ve bumped into a family member as you’re cooking will give us clues to the right solution for you.

3. What kind of tasks do you need lighting for? Do you read a lot? Crochet? Or do you watch movies in the dark? The right lighting scheme will make your space more functional for all your tasks. If you tell your designer what you intend to do in your space, s/he can formulate the best lighting approach using task, pendant, undercabinet, recessed, ambient or natural light (via light tubes, skylights or a window), along with wall sconces and uplights.

For recessed lighting, use dimmer switches, which are great for low light while watching movies and giving off a soft ambient glow for entertaining. A table light or floor lamp is good for tasks or reading. Uplights are accent lights that can highlight artwork and collectibles.

4. What items are kept in this room? Let’s say you have one bathroom that’s shared by several family members, and you’re looking to remodel it. When you describe all the things that are stored in the space, the number of people who use it and so on, a designer will help you come up with the right storage solutions while keeping style in mind. For example, open shelving with baskets would give each family member his or her own basket, and would look great. Shallow wall built-ins, such as a medicine cabinet, would provide storage for shampoos, creams and toiletries.

A good designer can help solve storage issues but needs to know what issues should be addressed.

Here’s another example. If your counters are full of mail, keys, homework, magazines, electronic devices and so on, then maybe a main station is for you. A piece of furniture that has numerous compartments or drawers can help store those miscellaneous items.

If clutter collects in your family room, you might consider side tables with drawers or open side tables with a large basket or wooden crate for magazines, books and knitting supplies. Or maybe an ottoman that allows for storing items inside, such as blankets, pillows and things that are used sparingly.

Or maybe the solution is to add a functional piece of furniture storage in one room to help clear out space in another room, like a large armoire in your dining room that can store infrequently used dishware to free up space in your kitchen.

Think of how you do laundry. Do you need one hamper or four? Maybe you prefer to hang clothing rather than fold items after they come out of the dryer. Do you like to stand and fold clothes, or do you put them in a basket and fold them in another room? Do you need a place to iron or just the storage space to keep the iron and ironing board? Again, these are things that will help a designer quickly come up with the right design for you.

5. What look or feel do you want the space to have? Think of what you like in terms of colors, style and overall feel. If you’re looking for a calming environment in the bedroom, then maybe white walls, bedding and furniture are a good approach.

Ii’s recommended that clients create their own ideabook for each space and add comments on each photograph. Think about what it is in each photograph that inspires you, such as the color on the walls, the artwork, a piece of furniture or the overall feeling. Include information and pictures of appliances, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, cabinet and door hardware, and flooring materials if these will be elements in your project.

Consider what speaks to you. Is there anything you personally cherish, example a colorful silk scarf that you love. This could set the tone for your family room. Paint the walls white to provide a neutral backdrop that allows you to add color throughout. Then add a tan sofa with colorful pillows and an accent piece of furniture painted a color taken from the vibrant scarf. A neutral rug can ground the space, and you can bring the scarf colors into other areas of your home through art and accessories, making it a cohesive home.

Don’t box yourself in with one design style, either. Be open to hearing a designer’s pitch on a combination of styles that might surprise you and also save time and money. For example, they might consider looking in other rooms of your home to swap out furnishings that will refresh and bring a new feeling to a room rather than buying all-new pieces. That old vintage chair in the basement could be just the piece you were searching for to break up a modern room.

6. What do you like about the space, and what do you most want to change and why? Not every room needs a total overhaul. In one room you may like a few things, such as the furniture and size of the room, but not the wall colors and rug. Sometimes just adding a few pillows and accessories is all a room needs.

You may like the overall feel of a space, but it may feel cramped with too much furniture. Designers can put together a floor plan for the best use of your space while considering focal points, large windows, art and so on. They know the space requirements for furniture and can map out the best traffic path.

A good designer will work with your list, making it a space that is right for your lifestyle while keeping the things you like and removing the things you don’t. Don’t be shy. Make clear what your likes and dislikes are. This is your space, after all.

7. How much money do you want to devote to your project? Setting budget expectations is important to the success of any remodeling or new construction project. Be realistic. A total average kitchen remodel can run as much as $80,000 and up. A basic kitchen remodel, keeping existing cabinets and floors, can cost about $16,000, depending on a variety of factors. If you’re on a strict budget, consider changes you need to have and which would be nice to have.

Share your budget right away with your designer, as this will set the tone of the makeover and will eliminate unnecessary backtracking later.

8. How much do you want to be involved in your project? Do you want a designer who will work with you, or do you want the designer to take charge and provide you with options? Clarifying your expectations will help you and the designer communicate well and ensure the result you want.

In the end, doing your homework will save you money that you can then put back into your project.

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.

My FIRST Podcast!!

Thu, 18 May by Pauline Relkey

I’m so excited to share this with you.

Recently online I came across a wonderful female Realtor that talks about crazy Sh*t in real estate.  Yes that is Leigh Brown’s handle.  I contacted her and she did an interview with me on the phone and now it is a podcast.  Click on Episode 63 below to hear my embarrassing story about how I closed a sale many years ago.  Pink button to hear the recording which is more fun that the written summary.

Episode 63: Pauline Relkey

 

 

Selling Your Home

Mon, 08 May by Pauline Relkey

Have you ever wondered what steps you need to take selling your home? There are a few things to consider. The spring and summer time are a very busy time for real estate agents. Therefore it is important to make sure that you get your home in the best condition. This will help attract maximum interest and hopefully sell your home faster. Here are some basic tips for you.

Clean It Out

Go through your entire house and make an assessment. People are very attracted to a tidy and organized house. The first step is to remove the things that clutter your home and the things you don’t want to keep in your next move. Choose a designated place to put this stuff away, and go through the rest of your house. The change in weather from winter to summer means that you can put away all your heavy outerwear. You’ll be happy to have less to pack on moving day and your house will be more appealing to potential buyers. A garage sale or for the more techy people, Varagesale, is also a great way to get rid of some things that you may not need or want anymore.

Fix Things Up

Determine what house maintenance you need before you sell. Repairs may be needed to pass a home inspection. It is better to take care of these issues right away! This will make it easier when you are ready to sell and will improve your sales opportunities. Simple repairs are also worth the effort that they take. Painting shutters, replacing the broken banister rail and patching up the walls will provide a return. This helps with creating the right impression on the first visit.

Think like a Potential Buyer

This is a hard step because we love our homes and generally assume others will like them as much as us. Accept that potential buyers have different tastes. You may also consider hiring a house staging professional who can objectively determine what needs to change from a design perspective. Consider basic staging techniques such as removing clutter as mentioned above. It is also beneficial to put away personal items like photos and trophies as well as cleaning your house thoroughly. It is also important that your house smells good to eliminate pet and food odors. Make the entrance to your home attractive and add character to your backyard to make it more appealing. Buyers pay attention to these things!

New Rule: Sell Your Home – Must Report On Tax Return

Wed, 15 Mar by Pauline Relkey

Effective January 1, 2016 the federal government decided to make it a requirement for anyone selling their principal residence to report it on their tax return. Even though there is no tax to pay, if you forget to report the sale of the property, you can be hit with penalties under the Income Tax Act. Failure to file a designation, failing to report the sale, or reporting late, can be subject to a maximum penalty of $8,000.00. In addition, failure to report the sale of a home may result in the Canada Revenue Agency having the ability to audit and reassess prior tax returns indefinitely, which would otherwise have been “off limits”. It has also been suggested that you may in fact lose the principal residence exemption for the capital gain, which would be rather harsh.

Here is a link to the Government website with details http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/bdgt/2016/qa11-eng.html

I’m not thrilled any more than you are, but that is what they want.

canada revenue agency

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.