Before we renovate…

Before we renovate…

When you get your hands on a new project, it can be hard to hold yourself back from knocking cupboards down and ripping out baseboards. That’s how we felt with the McKenzie Lake home. It’s our first project of the year and we wanted to get started! Instead, we had to make sure we went through the 10 stages of pre-renovation. To show the importance of going through these steps, we will show you what we did with the McKenzie Lake home.


Get to know the house

For those who followed us through our blogs about pre-renovation, we stressed the point of getting to know your home and what needed to be done. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we did the same. To know how much it would cost and how long it would take, we walked through the house to determine what needed to be done. Through this process, we created a budget for ourselves. We saw jobs which we knew how to do ourselves, and we saw where we needed to bring professionals in. In addition, we determined what areas we would be willing to give up working on if things got too expensive.



Take pictures!

This is not necessarily a step that is a must, but it’s one that will be satisfying in the long run. Take pictures of the before, the during and the after. You could even do a panorama of the room. Being able to see the change all your hard work accomplished will be incredibly satisfying. A tip to keep in mind though: make sure you remember the position and angle you took the original photo. By doing this, you’ll truly see the difference your efforts made.



Get estimates

At this stage, we needed to get contractors in. We knew what needed to be done and it was time to find out how much it cost. It’s very important to stay within our financial plan. To do so, we told the contractors what our rough budget was before they walked through the house. As our Transformation Director, Karen Ingram-Johnson, said, “You get a different result if you say, ‘how much will it cost’ vs. ‘this is what we have to spend’”. After receiving various quotes from contractors, we picked the one the fit best with our plans and budget.


Adjustments to plans 

For the McKenzie Lake project, there was not a lot of structural change that needed to be done. Instead, we wanted to focus on redoing the kitchen and the bathrooms. We also hope to remove the arched doorways as they are an outdated style. Basically, we want to clean up the home and give it a fresh look. During our first walkthrough, we wanted to knock down a wall between the kitchen and the dining room, but after the contractors came in we discovered the wall had water pipes and air ducts inside. The cost to make that change was higher than our budget, so we needed to adjust our plan for the kitchen.


Create a demo list

To help save costs, it’s useful to start demoing before the contractors come in. It will do two things; save them work and save your money. We suggest making a list of what you can take down and get rid of yourself.


Now we are off to demoing! Follow our renovation process on our Instagram where you’ll get more pictures and videos to follow along with.


Is this a Good Time to Buy in the Calgary Market?

Is this a good time to buy a house in Calgary?  You want to buy a home. Eventually. But timing matters when it comes to such an enormous and potentially life-changing purchase. With uncertainty about Calgary’s economy and real estate market fluctuations, that can be a difficult question to answer. It is, however, the right time to buy a home in any economy when you buy wisely.

Some things to consider:

1. Purchase for less than your mortgage pre-approval.
Purchase within 80-90% of your mortgage pre-approval so you aren’t at the upper limit of your monthly cash-flow.  Plus adding some extra principal payments will reduce your mortgage term and save you thousands in interest.

2. Save for six months of bills.
Having six months of bill-paying power, including your full mortgage payment, taxes and insurance will see you through any lean economic times or surprises. It will also reduce the stress of living month to month to cover your living expenses.

3. Put down a large downpayment.
Making a large down payment doesn’t just increase the chances of getting your offer accepted but also reduces the size of the mortgage payment. For most conventional loans, you’ll need 20% of a home’s price, or $60,000 on a $300,000 home.   Adding an extra 5% can make a big difference in your monthly cash flow.

4. Never buy the best or the worst home on the block.
The best home will always be subject to other properties holding back the house value – if your home is the highest standard by which all homes are compared, your value will increase much less than others. Buying the worst home (unless you can afford to renovate) will mean the property is the least desirable if you intend to sell within a few years.

5. Research the neighbourhoods.
Choosing to live in the most exclusive or popular neighbourhood may mean inflated home prices.  Also be aware of that “good deal” in a less desirable  neighbourhood – you can fix up a house, but you can’t fix a neighbourhood.  Look at neighborhoods where property values are going up, where there are good schools, easy access to amenities and a strong community focus.

6. Check out the inventory in your area.
Supply and demand – the more supply is available, the lower the price is for buyers because there is less competition. As demand goes up and supply goes down, competition among buyers increases, which means prices also increase. So the best time to buy is when many houses are on the market and not many people are buying. You will have more room to negotiate and are likely to get a better price.

You can identify a buyer’s market by looking at how many homes are on the market and how long they have been up for sale. If most have been for sale for more than six months, demand is likely low. However, if they are being bought within a few weeks or months, it’s likely the market is leaning in favor of the seller.

According to Kerri Markle, REALTOR with RE/MAX Landan, it’s a balanced market for single family homes in Calgary with some popular communities leaning towards a seller market. This means that for homes that are priced right, they are selling quickly with some receiving multiple offers. It’s a buyers market for condos so if you are looking to get into the real estate market for the long-term,  this may be a good option.

7. Interest rates
Interest rates on home loans also fluctuate depending on market conditions. Currently interest rates are fairly low but have been inching up fast, which has many thinking of buying a home before the rates rise even higher.

8. Time of year
Buying during the peak seasons of spring and summer may result in more property listings available but it can also translate into more competition and potentially higher prices. However, buying in fall and winter also has its advantages. Buying off-season usually gives buyers more negotiating power for  because sellers are often more motivated to sell.

Predictions from the Calgary’s Real Estate Board CREB® July 2017 Market Forecast indicate  signs of economic recovery and stabilization of the housing market.  Good news for the real estate market and for the city!