April 12, 2021

Fun Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Family

On Earth Day, April 22nd, we celebrate our celestial home, planet Earth. It is a day to give thanks for the world around us and to take action to protect the natural resources we depend upon.

This year, we encourage you to spend Earth Day with your family, doing one of these fun activities designed to bring awareness of the ways we can all work to better our earthly home, reduce our carbon footprints, and build lasting family memories at the same time.

1. Go Plogging! It’s the new fitness craze: Picking up trash while jogging. Go for a family jog, walk, bike ride through your neighborhood armed with rubber or gardening gloves and trash bags. Have a contest to see who can collect the most trash.

2. Have an energy-saving scavenger hunt. Send your kids throughout your home to list all the ways they can find to save energy. You can hide treats at key points, such as that drippy outdoor faucet, the light switch everyone forgets to turn off, or the appliances that can be unplugged when not in use.

3. Make recycling fun. If you are not already recycling, now is the time to start. Hold a recycling workshop with your kids but make it fun with a gameshow or contest theme. If your family is already recycling, step up your game to reduce your family’s use of recyclable materials. Kids love a challenge, so offer a prize to whoever comes up with the best plan for reducing single-use plastics. Check out recyclecoach.com for more ideas.

4. Plant a vegetable garden. There’s no better way to teach kids where their food comes from than to teach them how to grow it, and it may just expand their taste for vegetables! Whether you plant in pots on the back porch or build raised beds, any amount of growing is good. Find your local gardening experts or check out a local nursery for resources about what to plant and how.

5. Compost your food scraps. That garden will need fertilizing, so go ahead and start composting. After all, what kid doesn’t like dirt and worms? Composting is easy and it makes a great science project. Watch as things like vegetable peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, and paper scraps turn into black, nutrient-rich soil. There are many tutorials online to help you get started, like this one from Better Homes and Gardens.

6. Stay home and watch a movie! There are lots of kid-friendly, nature documentaries you can share with your family while you conserve energy at home. Teaching your family about nature, animals, and our planet will help broaden their view and motivate them to become ambassadors for the Earth.

 

Posted in Community Update
April 1, 2021

7 Tips for Saying Goodbye to Sentimental Belongings

 

When we work with clients who are downsizing to a smaller home, one of the hardest chores they face is letting go of sentimental belongings they no longer have room for. Souvenirs collected during travels, family heirlooms, and your children’s keepsakes can be quite stressful to part with. It doesn’t matter whether the items have monetary value or not; in fact, often the most difficult items to let go of are worthless in terms of money, but priceless in sentimental value.

Here are some tips to help you part with belongings you are attached to but no longer want to keep.

1. Remember that our memories reside within us, not within our possessions.
Psychologists say that letting go of sentimental items can be extremely therapeutic. When we keep things, the items occupy both physical and mental space in our lives. It’s healthier to focus on your memories and not the items that represent your memories.

2. Focus on the present. Letting go also helps to bring your focus to the present. Sometimes things are continual reminders of the past and hold us back from living in the present. Dwelling in the past can make one more prone to depression and can affect our ability to deal with stressful situations in our lives. Realize that while we can always cherish our memories, we don’t need the past to be happy in the present.

3. Let go of guilt. People often hold onto an item they don’t want or need because someone special gave it to them or it represents a special person. Learn to let go of the guilt associated with getting rid of gifts you can’t use. Appreciate the thoughtfulness of the giver or the special memory it represents but pass the item on to someone else who can use it or donate it to charity.

4. Don’t save it for your grown children. Times have changed and today more young adults are able to buy their own furnishings. And they aren’t as sentimental about family heirlooms as prior generations were. Talk to your kids now and find out if you are holding onto your china, crystal, and silver tea service for nothing.

5. Compromise with your spouse. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to resent the others’ favorite belongings while holding onto their own special stuff. It’s important to recognize that, while you may not understand your husband’s need to keep a ball cap for every MLB team he’s seen play, he may feel the same way about his hats that you do about keeping every book you have read. Decide together on a reasonable number to keep.

6. Start with the easy stuff. If you have a lot of belongings to sort through, start with the easier decisions and work from there. Often people find that once they get some momentum going it feels good to let go.

7. Write a family memoir. Hold onto your memories with words instead of things by writing your memoir or the story of your family. Writing your story can be very therapeutic and can help you release your hold on tangible items. If you need help, try a service like Storyworth.com

Posted in Market Updates
March 15, 2021

5 Tips for Buying a Luxury Home

Luxury homes are generally described as those in the top 10% of their market. Luxury homes are usually located in the most optimal areas in a market, are large in size, and built with high-end materials. Luxury homes often have unique design elements and amenities not found in most homes. Want an indoor shooting range, a rock-climbing wall, a ballroom, or a bowling alley? A luxury home might have one of these– or all of them!

If you have not purchased in the luxury market before, you should be aware that the process can be very different from buying a standard single-family home. Here are some tips to help you navigate your way through the luxury home market.

1) Be patient. Shopping for a luxury home may take longer than average. For one, there are not as many of them, which, of course, is what makes them special. Since many luxury homes have décor or features that are distinctive, quirky or eccentric, finding one that fits your style may take a little while. The closing process may also take longer as there is more to inspect, more to negotiate on, and often special circumstances to be worked out. Make sure you are getting what you want. When you are investing millions of dollars in a home, you want to make sure you don’t settle.

2) Know where to look. Luxury homeowners, particularly if they are high-profile people in their area, often don’t want their home pictured on MLS. You may need to network with people in your desired area to find out what homes are being offered.

3) Check for possible planned development. Don’t assume that the lovely pond or wooded park behind the property will always be there. Make sure you know of any development plans that may affect your view, the amenities around the property, and the future resale value. You don’t want to buy a home for its beautiful views only to find out another property will be built in the way.

4) Consult with your financial advisors. Make sure you qualify for the purchase amount you are thinking about. Luxury home sellers will often want to see proof that you qualify to purchase their home before they even allow a showing. If you do get a showing, you will certainly need to have your financial preparations done before you contemplate an offer. Everything is scrutinized more closely in the luxury price range. You should also make yourself aware of all the financing options available to you.

5) Work with an experienced luxury home agent. The right agent knows all of these tips and more. We are knowledgeable in the high-end neighborhoods in our market area and understand the intricacies of negotiating and closing on luxury homes. Are you ready to purchase a luxury home? We are available and ready to help you in your search!

Posted in Home Trends
March 1, 2021

Low inventory – what does this mean for Buyers & Sellers?

 

If you’re contemplating buying or selling property and have heard the term “low inventory,” you may be wondering exactly what that means to you.

 

Inventory refers to the number of listings currently for sale. There are several factors that contribute to low inventory, one being the season. Generally the fall and winter months see a lower number of homes listed. Other factors include: the economy: consumer confidence, interest rates, housing starts, employment rates, etc. But what does this mean for you?

 

Buyers - it’s no secret that buying a home when inventory is low is more difficult.  You’ll have fewer options in your price point with more people going after the same property.  When making an offer, you should be prepared to act quickly and offer more than the asking price, especially in a multiple offer situation.  However, that is not always the case, especially with the right negotiator in your corner! We help you to know the market, and to be comfortable with the research and comparative analysis.  We help take the guesswork out of what is and is not good value so you know you are buying the right house at the right price.

 

Sellers- Listing your home in a low inventory climate means that you need to be prepared for action! Have your home ready for our professional photographer and with all your little “fix it” projects completed.  Then…the closer your asking price is to the selling price, the more people you will have viewing your property within the first several days.   Most of the activity of a new listing happens within the first two weeks.  So be ready for short notice showing requests and be accommodating. The more showings you get – the greater your chance are for an offer…or two!

 

With the right agent, you can succeed in any market! Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, we are here to help.

 

 

 

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 16, 2021

Create the Office of Your Dreams

Whether you work full-time at home or occasionally need to conduct business in the evenings or on the weekends, a home office a great way to utilize an extra room. A dedicated workspace in your home can be designed to increase productivity and comfort. Here are 5 ideas to get you started.

  1. Invest in a good office chair. Investing in an ergonomic office chair is essential. You may be spending anywhere from 30 to 50 hours a week sitting in it, so your back will thank you. Purchasing one with multiple adjustments is ideal so it fits you just right.
  2. Switch up your lighting. Fluorescent lighting has been proven to be hard on the eyes. Make the switch to LED or halogen light bulbs in your home office and try to let in as much natural light as possible. Also, consider finding a desk lamp to reduce headaches and eye strain.
  3. Keep essentials in reach and organized. Nothing says productivity like a clean, neat workspace. Select a desk with a lot of storage or install creative shelving to keep items like pens, pencils, extra batteries, calculators, notepads, and more stored within arm’s reach.
  4. Decorate bright. Pick a color you love and use it to spice up the room. Use cheery yellow or red or relaxing tones like green and blue, instead of beiges and browns.
  5. Aim for the view. If possible, place your desk so you are facing a window instead of a blank wall. Natural light can do wonders for staying alert and you can give yourself a short mental break when necessary by looking to the outdoors.
Posted in Home Trends
Feb. 1, 2021

8 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love with Your Home

 

We all want people to love our home as much as we do, but especially when you are trying to sell it! While it’s impossible to please every buyers’ taste, there are several easy things you can do to make your home more appealing without spending a lot of money. Try some of these tricks and see if your showings cause buyers to swoon.

1. Check your curb appeal. Take an honest look from the curbside. What are buyers seeing first? If your home needs to be painted or pressure washed, consider making that investment. In Spring. clean up landscaping by trimming trees and bushes, planting some fresh annuals and laying new mulch. Clean windows, repair sagging soffit, or porch railings, and have any trip hazards on your driveway or front walk repaired. Finally, consider some attractive, yet subtle decorations for your front porch.

 2. Create an inviting entryway. When buyers step inside your front door, you want them to feel welcomed. If you have a foyer or front hall, it is easier to make an attractive entryway, but even if your front door opens right into your living room, you can create the feel of an entryway with a couple of simple tricks. Clear the area of clutter things that tend to pile up at the front door, like backpacks, dog leashes, or shoes. Place a small table or bench beside the door with plants, candles, or other simple décor. A small area rug can help define the space as the entryway.

3. Let the light shine in. Take advantage of natural light as much as you can. Trimming any bushes or trees outside your windows can help immensely. Wash your windows inside and out and replace or remove any worn screens. Make sure to open blinds or curtains before all showings.

4. Add some fresh color. Painting is an easy and inexpensive way to make an older home look new and is especially important if your current wall color is dark or outdated. Choose a light neutral color like a warm grey or light beige and use the same color throughout the house. If your home tends to be dark, this will help brighten it up.

5. Let storage spaces speak for themselves. Many sellers make the mistake of waiting until they have a contract to start cleaning out closets. Cleaning out clutter is part of getting ready to show, not just getting ready to move. You want buyers to perceive that there is ample storage in the home, and this doesn’t work if every drawer, cabinet, and closet is stuffed to the gills.

6. Eliminate distractions. Streamline your decorating so your buyers see the house and not your collection of Mexican roosters. Go ahead and pack up collectibles and family photos and keep decorative touches to the minimum. Too many plants, magazines, or toys distract the buyers from seeing the home as their own.

 

7. Entice them with outdoor space. The back yard shouldn’t be an empty space of infinite possibility, nor should it be a storage area for neglected toys. Get rid of any eyesores you’ve been avoiding dealing with.

8. Make it easy for them. Taking care of minor repairs is another step you can take to help buyers see your home as an easy and comfortable move. You want them to be mentally arranging their furniture as they walk through, not making a list of nicked woodwork, torn window screens, and leaky faucets. The less work involved, the easier it is to fall in love.

 

Posted in Home Trends
Jan. 14, 2021

The Do’s and Don’ts for Investing in Real Estate

Are you thinking about investing in real estate in 2021? It may be the perfect year to purchase a rental property, a vacation home, or to flip houses. We would be happy to help you find the perfect investment property, and we’ve put together this list of tips to help you get the best return on your investment.

First, consider what type of investment property is best for you and your family. 

 If you are thinking about a rental property, such as a   vacation condo or rental home, consider how much   time will be needed for things like maintenance,   managing a website or rental listings, and vetting   potential tenants. For rental homes, make sure the   areas you are searching are attractive to tenants in   terms of proximity to nearby business centers and   transportation hubs, and in good school districts for   family tenants.

Is a family vacation property more to your liking? Make sure you read any and all rules pertaining to owners and guests, as well as rules on renting your property out when you are not using it, if that is something you plan to do. Also be sure that your vacation property is somewhere you foresee your family wanting to travel to often enough to make it worthwhile.

 For new house flippers, you want to find out what return you can expect to get in your market area and talk to contractors and suppliers to get realistic estimates on renovations, both in terms of price and time to completion. 

Here are some additional Do’s and Don’ts for investing in real estate:

  • Do aim for at least a 15% return on investment.
  • Do look for homes priced in the low end of the median price range.
  • Do look for 3-bedroom, 2-bath single family homes for rentals or flipping.
  • Do focus on one neighbourhood or area.
  • Do purchase rental properties close to your home if you plan to manage them yourself.
  • Do use one real estate agent to help with all your buying and selling needs. 
  • Don’t purchase a second property until the first is earning revenue.
  • Don’t buy properties that you wouldn’t want to manage, even if you plan to use a property manager.
  • Don’t buy a home that you cannot afford to carry for several months in case of a slow market.
  • Don’t buy a home or condo without having inspections performed.
  • Don’t buy without title insurance.
  • Don’t buy more properties than you are able to manage.

We can help you search for investment properties. Sometimes buyers make the mistake of searching on their own and contacting the sellers or listing agents directly. Working with several different people wastes your time and increases the chances that you will miss out on a deal. Also, working with one agent allows that agent to learn your tastes, needs, and parameters, so we can be out looking for the right property while you are busy doing other things.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 4, 2021

Fresh Year, Fresh Start: Cleaning Out Your Home for the New Year

 

Many of us could not wait to close the door on 2020 and usher in the new year– and all the positive karma we hope comes with it! As you look forward to 2021 you may have spent some time thinking about your intentions for the coming year, whether for personal or professional growth, health and fitness, or family goals. Let’s face it, 2020 was stressful, and while many people look to each new year to freshen up their lives, this year more than ever people are looking inward to reexamine what is important to them. But one thing that is just as important as setting intentions for your behaviors or habits is creating a peaceful and joyful place in which to practice your intentions.

If you, like most Canadians, spent a record amount of time inside your home last year due to the pandemic, you may have accumulated more stuff than you have in previous years. Many people acquired new hobbies to pass the time at home, started – and maybe even finished – home improvement projects, or simply went a little overboard with boredom-induced online shopping. If this sounds familiar, it may be time for a decluttering session.

Living with too much stuff can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. People with too much clutter in their environment also tend to suffer from relationship issues, sleep problems, and chronic allergies or asthma. 

So take some time to clean out your home for the new year. Here are a few strategies recommended by professional organizers.

1. One category at a time: This method is used by Marie Kondo, author of the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and TV show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She advocates for decluttering items by category: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items, in that order. 

2. One room at a time: Another method is to focus on one area at a time. It could be a room, the garage, or the attic. If that amount of space is still overwhelming to you, break it down to one closet, one cabinet, or one drawer at a time. 

3. Arrange keep, sell, and donate spaces. As you progress through your decluttering, it will save time and energy if you have already designated areas to accumulate items that are to be kept, sold, or donated. Then you can deal with each group of items once you have everything separated.

Once you have cleaned out your home, you might adopt some of these habits for preventing clutter from piling up again:

1. Set a rule where you don’t purchase a new piece of clothing, toy, book, or gadget without getting rid of something you are no longer using.

2. Get into the habit of always putting everything back in its place. This will keep you from purchasing items you already have but can’t find or forgot about.

3. To prevent clothes from piling up, try choosing your outfits for the coming week every Sunday, and don’t let clean laundry sit unfolded.

4. Look through your refrigerator and pantry before shopping and shop with a list of needed items.

5. Live by the rule that if you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, chances are you don’t need it.

We at The Fort McMurray Real Estate Group wish you all a wonderful 2021!

Posted in Home Trends
Dec. 15, 2020

Celebrating the Holidays Safely in 2020

As we close out 2020 with the news that a COVID-19 vaccine may become available in the new year, we can all have hope that our lives will soon return to normal, but for this holiday season, families are faced with the challenge of celebrating safely. Here are some ideas for making the most out of this holiday season while keeping your loved ones healthy.

Go with simple as a theme. Cutting back on gift giving and holiday activities will cut down the time you and your family spend exposing yourself to crowded shopping centers and other venues. You will benefit by having more down time to enjoy decorating, baking, or watching movies with your family.

Shop early. Avoid crowds by shopping earlier than usual and taking advantage of online shopping. Shopping early will also help you avoid unwanted stress and increase your enjoyment of the season.

Stage some friendly competition. To take the place of neighborhood or family gatherings, stage some fun virtual competitions. Categories may include tree decorating, gingerbread house building, gift-wrapping skills, and carol singing. Participating families can submit their entry photos or videos for everyone to vote on.

Plan Secret Santa Activities. Instead of getting together for cocktails or dinners with friends and coworkers, play Secret Santa and drop off cookies, a crock of soup, or homemade pet treats to your friends’ doorsteps. You may create a tradition you continue for years to come.

Take Care of Yourself. This unprecedented time has caused many people to suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression, so whenever possible, exercise self care. Even though the holiday season is a time we usually focus on others, it’s important to care for your own needs. Take time to rest, meditate, exercise, and get enough sleep.

Check in with Relatives Often. You may not be able to gather as a family this year, but you can spend quality time with relatives virtually. Arrange weekly Zoom or FaceTime calls, have your children draw pictures and write letters to their elderly relatives, or plan online family game nights with your extended family.

Nov. 30, 2020

Why You Should Work With a Buyers Agent

The home buying process can be exciting and fun, but also complicated, stressful, and overwhelming. Maximize your chance of success and minimize the amount of time spent trying to keep track of all the details by working with a buyer’s agent. There is a plethora of benefits to using a buyer’s agent, and here are our top four!

They can find the right properties for you. When starting your search, generally you will already have a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves for your new home. Your buyer’s agent will have access to extensive search resources and all the new listings hitting the market, so they can ensure you are looking at homes that meet most, if not all, of your criteria.

They know the background. Experienced buyer’s agents have a breadth of knowledge on different neighborhoods in the area. They can let you know what similar homes in the area have recently sold for, if there are any new commercial projects on the horizon, what the nearby schools have to offer, and more.

They are in your corner during negotiations. A buyer’s agent is your advocate when it comes time to put in an offer and negotiate. They have your best interest in mind, understand what you are looking for, and can help you get the best price and terms for the home.

They provide trusted recommendations. Buyer’s agents that have been in the business for several years have likely built strong relationships with professionals in other parts of the industry. Turn to your agent when you are ready to find a home inspector, moving company, lender, and more.

The Fort McMurray Real Estate Group understands the importance of connecting with people. Our caring and honest approach combined with our extensive knowledge of the rapidly changing market helps to guide our clients through the home buying and selling process.  If you have been thinking of buying, contact us and find out how we can help get you into your new home!