Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Money FROM the Government ??? Really ?? How?

I did it!  Within two weeks of making a first call – I had my furnace serviced and H2O tank checked out, recommendations from Wightmans’ Mechanical –250-762-3122 (they were great by the way!), house inspection from  EnergyWise Solutions (a contact provided to me from Wightmans)

Furnace, H1O tank and air conditioner installed, Finished off with a post inspection from Energy Wise Solutions  (pre and post inspections cost was $335 total)

Efficient and a money saver!

Energy Wise Solutions will rate your homes efficiency on many levels and let you know what you can do – should you choose – to improve your homes efficiency, your carbon footprint AND get money back from the government.  I have to say I was very surprised at the amount of Grants offered by both Federal and Provincial governments.  Here is a link to the chart on the Energy Wise website.

The inspector that came out was knowledgeable, polite and professional. 
I learned that regulations on coolant have changed and once the current inventory of air conditioners is used – the new models go up by at least $1000. Turns out the decision to replace my 12 year old air conditioner BEFORE it broke down was a good one.   As the technicians were installing the new – the oil in the lines made it apparent that my unit would have very likely seized during  the first few weeks of summer use (with my luck, after the more affordable inventory on replacements units was gone).  I saved on labour by doing it all together and wait time as, of course in the summer, the mechanical companies are a lot busier when it comes to air conditioners.

Hawley Works (my fabulous handyman) installed new weather-strip on my doors, a new Energy Star bathroom fan, plus rubber seals around my attic hatches.  This will improve the air leakage (likely not the technical term) of my home by over 10% so I will qualify for a Grant towards that cost as well.

When all is said and done – my rebates will total over $2800.  This of course depends on the work you have done, that it meets the qualification standards of the program and the ultimate improvement to your homes  current status but I would  suggest it is certainly worth checking out.

Energy Wise completes and submits the forms for the Grant from the government for you!  Wightmans also completed and submitted the rebate forms available to me from Lennox and Teresen gas.  Wightman’s will credit you back the charge for the furnace service if you proceeded to install a new one.

They truly make the process stress free.

I’m sure there are other qualified mechanical companies out there that can do this – my personal experience has been with Wightmans.  One of my sisters runs the largest Plumbing and Heating Mechanical company in Saskatchewan  so I had some inside encouragement and advice available to me.  She was very pleased with the information, recommendations and quotes that I received from Wightmans.

Time is running short!  This program, surprising to me, has been available for quite some time and your final post inspection on work done must be completed by March 31, 2012.

In a years’ time – I’ll let you know where my utilities have gone to as a result of more efficient equipment and air management of my home.

When the going gets "Tough"...just call me.

Susan Tough

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wanna trade?? - My bike for your……..house?

Coming through the adjustment to the market we have been experiencing these last months has brought some ingenuity and creative ideas to Sellers, Buyers and their REALTORS®.

Moving is something you may want to do but what if you can’t get your money out of your house?  

A Common question! 

Common justification that REALTORS® will make is, “Even though you may not get what you want, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, you are also buying into the same market and can very likely save an amount on your purchase, similar to or greater than the amount you believe you are losing by selling right now.”

Good logic actually.  It makes even more sense for those Sellers who are ready to buy ‘more’ house than they currently have.  Commonly, the higher priced the property – the more adjustment seen to their market price.  The higher end of the market sees less activity simply because there are fewer Buyers, which results in excess inventory (IE., more competition). Buying ‘up’ in the market helps a seller recover the price adjustment they feel they are making to sell because they can benefit from the larger price adjustment in the higher market.  Buying ‘down’ in the market can still lighten the blow for the high end Seller as a Buyer’s Market will provide a break on price regardless of what price point you are shopping in.

Here’s an idea:  I’m now an empty nester and don’t need as much space, plus I want to move a little closer to stores, doctor, day to day conveniences’.  My house is perfect for that young couple who has saved from working two jobs over the last years, is now starting a family, needs a yard, a basement, a double car garage for bikes and things.  That young couple, with the first or second child on the way, or teenagers that want more privacy, and the second car to get to school, hockey, dance, must be feeling a little cramped in that lovely little home they started out with a few years back.  

LET’S TRADE? !               

A very practical idea many good REALTORS® will bring forward to their clients.

Through networking with their colleagues and using the Trade book at the office and the website that is available to our Coldwell Banker Realtors, we have seen many successful negotiations go this way.

You don’t have to find something of the same value – one of you does have to pay the difference .  
Your Mortgage Broker can help you work through financial details.  Often save you fees if you are simply rewriting your mortgage to increase for the different – no payout penalty, no lose of great interest rate.  It can depend on the type of mortgage you currently have but asking the questions of a Mortgage Broker that can negotiate for your benefit doesn’t cost you anything and will very likely save you.

Your REALTOR® will address all the necessary clauses in the contract that will allow you, and your trade partner, to do all the necessary research, inspections and qualifying that you need to do.  Just because they found you someone to trade with doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sure about what you are getting.

 A smart REALTOR® will protect you from
 agreeing to sell your home before you are
 sure you want to buy the other one. 

“Subject to the Buyer and Seller entering into an unconditional offer to purchase (the other persons home address), on or before (date this the day after you have all done your homework).  This condition is for the sole benefit of BOTH the Buyer and the Seller.

Contractually, this allows you and the Buyer to do all your homework, be sure you can finance, check out the condition of the home, be certain on all the things you expect to be included, find a date that will work for both parties to move and THEN tell them you are ready to go firm –they in turn must do the same. With this Condition being for the benefit of both of you – you BOTH have to sign off and agree to move forward – together.  Otherwise one of you could have sold your house without the other party agreeing to sell theirs.  
Trades can work, and do work, very well – you need an experienced REALTOR® and Mortgage Broker to protect your position so things turn out they you intend them to.

When the going gets "Tough"...just call me.

Susan Tough

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Home?

It’s officially 2012 so let me start by wishing you a Happy New Year.  In early January, many of us are planning and setting goals for everything we want to do and achieve in the year to come.

While many people think of spring as the prime time home buying season, the winter months often offer an even greater selection of inventory, and the opportunity to settle into the new home before warmer months arrive.  If buying a house is on your “to do” list this year, now is also the time to begin preparing.

I remember when I bought my home.  There were so many things to get in order– it was confusing to decide where to begin! So, even if you plan to buy in the spring, January is a good time to get ready. Here are some tips to help you get on track to reach your 2012 home buying resolution:

  • Select a qualified and trusted real estate agent: At Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty, we have knowledgeable, trustworthy agents.  Agents that understand the valley’s market and can help you find all the information and resources you need to get started. Researching on your own is important, and using free on-line tools is a great way to start, but meeting with an agent will ensure you don’t miss any important steps along the way.  In fact, the next three tips were sourced from the great advice of our agents.
  • Create your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” list: Easier said than done, right?  But it’s next to impossible to find a first home with everything.  You’ll need to think about your lifestyle needs and prioritize the non-negotiable home accommodations, such as a bedroom for each family member, over items you may want, but not need, such as a large master suite. Everyone’s list is different, but knowing your “must-haves” in advance will help you stay focused.
  • Determine your budget: Be realistic about what is affordable. An agent can help you find comparable home prices and hone in on approximately how much the payments will be.  You should also plan to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Here is a link to two very capable Mortgage Brokers that have come very highly recommended by our REALTORS® that have used their expertise in the past with very positive results.  Brenda Dilley (250-861-4663) and April Dunn (250-768-6833) with Mortgage Alliance Homeline Mortgage are available to you at any time and will work getting together with you around your work and family commitments. Doing this prior to house hunting will let you know how much money you qualify for, and how much you can afford. You’ll also be able to figure out which mortgage type is best for you. You have a lot of options you may not be aware of.
  • Identify the perfect “location, location, location”: Everyone has heard this phrase before, and while the surrounding neighbourhood and home itself may improve over time, the physical location will remain the same. Determine in advance how close you would like to live to work, schools or extended family. A short commute to work, proximity to family or having easy access to highways and mass transit will often be items for your “must-haves” list.
  • Other costs and questions:  I won’t repeat myself but I will encourage you to go back to my Blog of      September 8, 2011  and review the many questions a first time buyer can have.  Even though this may not be your first purchase or move – things change, regulations, costs and you can sometimes forget the small details that may have caused you grief during your previous transaction.  Be sure you know what possible taxes will now apply to you on a second or third purchase that didn't on your first. Government grants for update to heating and insulation can come and go and may be available to you if you find the need to shop in a lower price point and put a little ‘elbow grease’ and equity into your home.

Welcome to home ownership !  - Something to be very proud of and excited about.  Be sure you have an experienced, trusted REALTOR® by your side to maximize the knowledge and minimize the stress.

Happy New Year!

When the going gets "Tough"...just call me.

Susan Tough