Do you like contests? Check out #WheresJenniferYYC!

 

Do you like games?  My family LOVES games!  If you follow me on social media, you may have even caught a glimpse of our family of seven enjoying one of our games nights!

So, in the spirit of enjoying a little bit of competition (and also of loving our beautiful and vibrant city), I thought it would be a fun change of pace if I played a little game with you guys.  The best part is that there is always a fun prize! Plus, I get to explore YYC!

Here is what you need to do to play:

  1. Follow me on social media now…pick your favourite or get really adventurous and feel free to follow me on both of mine:
Instagram: @JenniferEMcintosh
Facebook: @TheHeartOfRealEstate
  1. Keep a close watch on my video posts and listen for the cue that will let you know that we are playing a live game of #WheresJenniferYYC.
  2. As soon as you figure out where I am recording from, post your best guess in the comments of the post – don’t forget to include the hashtag: #WheresJenniferYYC

 

That’s it!  Pretty simple, right?

To get you warmed up, here is a list to some of the fun places I have been while playing this game. You can click the links to get to the related posts.  That should give you a good sense of what you will be looking for!

Sirocco Golf Club

Sikome Aquatic Facility (Sikome Lake)

Avenue Cakery & Bakeshoppe

Cranston’s Riverstone Community

Moyo Spa & Wellness

Holy Cross Hospital

Starbucks (Seton location)

You are most often playing to win a Starbucks gift card, however, I have been known to throw in other goodies, as well – I recently even gave away a gift from Moyo Spa & Wellness!

Be sure to follow along and try your chance at winning!

I’ll look forward to seeing you in the world of social media!

~Jennifer

 

Jennifer checking out the really cool 2018 Beakerhead installation, Dreams Never Die.

PS Be sure to read the game instructions carefully because I just might ‘shake it up’ a little bit, sometime in the near future.

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YYC first time homebuyers, this is your time!

Even if you aren’t actively buying or selling a house in Calgary right now, you have probably heard about many of the challenges the real estate sector is currently facing.  In case you haven’t, in summary…we are currently in a ‘buyer’s market’.

Generally (with a handful of community exceptions) there is a surplus of inventory on the market and not enough buyers to maintain the home prices that we have been accustomed to.  In addition to this, despite being on the ‘right’ side of the transaction…many homebuyers also have homes to sell…which unfortunately brings us back to the original problem.

BUT…There ‘is’ a positive here, friends!

If you are a first time buyer OR a buyer without a house to sell, it might be your time!

If you fall into either of the scenarios above, right now, the market is most definitely in your favour.

The fact of the matter is that there have been declining sales (and prices!) in most product types, especially detached homes.  This change in the market has affected most areas of the city (including many of Calgary’s bedroom communities).  There is also higher-than-normal inventory on the market, which, essentially equates to ‘more choice’ for you!

If you are considering entering the market, we should talk!  I am experienced in helping customers, just like you.  I can help you through the questions you might have, such as:

  • Is it the right time, financially, for me to buy?
  • How much of a down payment do I need?
  • Will buying now cost me more (or less) than my current rental situation?
  • What will I need to apply for a mortgage?

I have several decades worth of experience (oh my, now I’m dating myself!) dealing with first time homebuyers and I definitely understand that you likely have questions.  I’m here to work with you and I am commited to making sure you are beyond happy with your final outcome.

My fabulous ‘first-time home-buyer’ clients, Nikita and Jamal!

Today, actually, I received a wonderful recommendation from Nikita and Jamal and I thought this would be the perfect place to share it.

Here’s what they had to say:

“My husband and I met Jen in 2015. We were on the fence about buying our very first home together. After seeing one of Jens listings online we reached out to Jen to view the property. At this time we weren’t working with any realtors. Jen made the time to meet us at a local coffee shop before viewing the property. Being that we were property virgins, we weren’t only nervous, but very much uneducated when it came to buying a property. Jenn answered all our questions and even educated us on things we didnt know. It was an awesome crash course. We later on viewed the property and indeed loved it as much as we thought we would. Before we signed any papers Jen was nice enough to search other properties and take us to see other options before signing the deal on the property we loved. She never rushed us, dealt with us being indecisive, and answered questions we probably asked numerous times. Even after the deal was signed and the keys were ours Jen kept in touch and checked in on us. Throughout the entire process Jen was soooooooo compassionate. She made this big investement seem so small. I could feel how genuine she was throughout the entire process and that is how we knew she was doing a job she loved and not just working for a paycheck. Fast forward to 2018 we are now looking to move back to out home town and without a doubt we called on Jen. I remember my husband saying “if Jen can’t sell this house no one can”. Although the market is a lot tougher right now Jen’s approach was that of compassion and reassurance. She promised to work with us, gave us options and as much support as we needed. The best part about working with Jenn is that you get to know her as a person and not just a realtor. Hands down I would choose Jen over and over again. THANKS Jen!!”

Wow!  These people are awesome!!!

Friends, if the time isn’t right for you but you have a friend or family member who you think the time ‘is’ right for, let’s chat! I always appreciate your referrals…they are so important to me and are really the backbone of my business!

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Checklist: 10 Things To Do Around Your House This Fall

It’s officially autumn which means; there are some essential home maintenance projects you might consider adding to your to-do list.  Many of these are much easier to complete before the snow starts to fall, while others, are important to complete before the snow (and freezing) settle in.

1. Put Away Patio Furniture

Putting away your outdoor furniture can greatly extend its life – after all, we all know how harsh our Calgary winters can be!

Give it a quick wipe down, let it completely dry, and put it away somewhere sheltered for the winter months. If you wish, you can cover it up to give it some extra protection and keep the dust off.  This will make it a really quick, and easy, transition when you bring it out again in the spring!

2. Prune Dead Branches from Trees

Not only is pruning healthy for your trees, it can also help you avoid dealing with an unexpected accident during unruly weather!

Windy, snowy, or stormy days can put dead, dying and brittle branches at risk of detaching from trees.

I recommend pruning ‘before’ all of your leaves fall off to make it easier to determine which branches are in need of being removed.  If you’re unsure, contact your local arborist.

3. Cover Up/Put Away Air Conditioning Units

If you have an outdoor air-conditioning unit, choose a sunny day to clean, winterize, and cover up your unit.  This will extend its life and help prevent critters from taking up shelter inside.

If you have an A/C unit that is mounted in a window, be sure to remove it and put it away for the season.  Otherwise, you might be leaving an easy path for your warm house air to escape and the cold winter air to make its way into your home.

4. Inspect Your Roof

I know…no one wants to climb up a ladder to do this but trust me; you also don’t want to deal with the type of water problem that can occur from a leaky roof!

If you’re really nervous about heights, at least grab a pair of binoculars and have a careful scan from the ground.

Regardless, what you are looking for are bent, cracked or missing shingles.  If you find some, they need to be replaced.

If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, or if you find too many to deal with individually, contact your local roofing company.

5. Check Your Gutters

While you’re on that ladder, have a look at your gutters.  You want to make sure they are free from debris, and in good repair, so melting snow and water can flow freely away from your house.

Your downspouts will need the same consideration.

If you do need to remove some leaves or fragments, I would suggest doing it when things are dry. They will be much easier (and less gunky) to deal with.

6. Rake Up Leaves

Raking up leaves has a purpose beyond just keeping things looking tidy around your yard.

Healthy lawns need airflow, water, and nutrients…all things they might be denied if the grass is covered up with fallen leaves (this can ‘suffocate’ your lawn).

Leaves left over the wintertime can also put your lawn at risk of developing snow mould.

Use a rake, leaf blower, or lawn mower (with a bag attachment) to remove leaves from your grass. Don’t forget to put them in your City of Calgary green bins.

You can also use a mulching mower, or mulching blade attachment for your lawn mower, to shred the leaves and grass.  This all can simply be left on the lawn to act as a natural fertilizer.

7. Seal Up Gaps and Cracks

Take a quick scan around your home and make sure there aren’t any openings in the form of small holes, gaps, or cracks – especially on the foundation.  If you spot any, you will want to give them attention right away, as they can be a source of entry for water and/or small critters.  Yikes!

Don’t forget to also inspect the areas around doors and windows and, also, where wires and cable lines enter your home.

8. Clean Dryer Vents

Clean, lint-free dryer vents (not just the screen) are important for so many reasons.

Cleaning your dryer vent will help your machine run more efficiently AND can help you avoid an accidental fire caused by highly flammable lint igniting from static electricity.

Don’t forget to turn off the power to your dryer, from the breaker-box, before you begin.

9. Blow Out Your Sprinkler System

To avoid the risk of damage (from freezing) to your irrigation system, you will want to turn off the water supply, ‘blow out’ your system, and shut down the irrigation program.

If you have an air-compressor, you might be able to do this yourself.  The other option is you can contact an irrigation company to arrange for what is called, ‘winterization’.

This is best done well before things start to freeze in the ground otherwise you risk not being able to completely, and thoroughly, winterize your system.

10. Drain Garden Hoses and Turn Off Water to Hose Bibs

It is a good idea to drain your garden hoses of water and remove them from your outside spigots/hose bibs.  This will help protect, not only your hoses but also, your inside water pipes.

Don’t forget to also turn of the water to the outside spigots – the shut-off valve should be located inside your house.

 

I know, I know…adding more things to your to-do list might not be your idea of a good time but, protecting, what may be your biggest investment (your home) is so important! Being pro-active about home maintenance can save you a great deal of time, and money, in the future.

So, choose a nice, warm fall day (or weekend), grab your favourite drink of pumpkin-anything, and check these off one by one!

If you have questions about any of these, or would like recommendations on service providers, please don’t be afraid to reach out to me anytime at all!

If you found this list interesting, you might also be interested in checking out my other blog post, ‘Home Maintenance Checklist -10 Tips You Should Know’.

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13 Tips for Moving with Kids

Moving can be both an exciting, and slightly stressful, event for everyone in the family.  We often have the many typical ‘moving-related’ tasks to take care of:  Movers might have to be scheduled, utility connections need to be sorted, and mail needs to be re-directed.

Add kids to the equation and…well…it gets B-U-S-Y!

Moving with children adds another layer to the dynamics of a household move.

Moving with children adds another layer to the dynamics of a household move.

The thing is, moving with children simply adds another layer to the dynamics of a household move.  They can sometimes add to our workload but, also, they may have their own feelings of stress or anxiety to deal with.

The good news is I have compiled a list of tips for you to help keep everyone feeling lots of that ‘happy feeling’ that I want your whole family to experience during this exciting time!

Before Moving Day

 

  • Start preparing kids ahead of time.

Talking about your move, before you are in the throws of it, will to help reduce any anxiety children might feel leading up to your move.  Talk to them about the things that might be changing for your family (a new bedroom or a new school), and also about the things that are going to be staying the same (your children’s bedroom items and favourite belongings).

Talking about your move, before you are in the throws of it, will to help reduce anxiety children might feel leading up to your move.

Talking about your move, before you are in the throws of it, will to help reduce anxiety children might feel leading up to your move.

  • Visit your new home as a family.

If you can, visit your new home a few times with the children in order to help them become familiar with your new space.

  • Include your children in some decision-making.

Asking your kids for their input in helping to choose paint colours, or other items, can help them feel a sense of ownership in your new space.  Many kids are also able to ‘help’ with deciding on the placement of furniture and others items that might go in their bedroom or playroom.

  • Find moving-themed books for the kids.

Pick up some books about ‘moving’ from your local library or bookstore.  I have heard that the book, ‘I Like Where I Am’ by Jessica Harper is a good little read.  You can find it on Amazon here.

  • Take photos of your current house.

Before you start packing, take some photos of your current house.  Kids enjoy looking back at them and you might feel nostalgic about them too (especially if it’s the home you brought any of your ‘babies’ home to).

Before you start packing, take some photos of your current house.

Before you start packing, take some photos of your current house.

  • Take a ‘family field trip’ to your new community.

Consider taking a day to visit your new community with the intention of discovering all the fun new spots you might be frequenting (parks, treat shops, biking paths, etc.).

Take a day to visit your new community to discover all the fun new spots you might be frequenting.

Take a day to visit your new community to discover all the fun new spots you might be frequenting.

  • Schedule visits to new schools.

Schedule visits with new playgroups, preschools, and schools that your kids might be attending (be sure to call ahead so they can expect you).

  • Book a babysitter.

If you can, secure a babysitter (or family member) to help with the kids while you take care of some of your moving tasks (because you deserve some stress-relief, too!).

If this isn’t available to you, try to do as much packing as you can while the kids are sleeping.  You’ll be more efficient without your little ones ‘helping’ and parting ways with items headed to goodwill will be much easier. You can avoid the stress they might feel while watching their things go into boxes or giveaway bags.

  • Pack up the kids’ stuff last.

If you can, try to pack your child’s items closer to moving day – It will be easier for you to plug away at your tasks if your kids still have their toys and activities to play with.

On Moving Day

 

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Book a babysitter if you can!

Having someone available to watch your kids will make moving day a little easier for you.  If this just isn’t available to you, be sure to have a special bag of activities your child can play with somewhere out of the way of foot traffic.

If you are able to have your cable television or Internet set up ahead of moving day, this could also be a big help in keeping your children entertained while the ‘hustle and bustle’ of a move is happening.

  • Unpack the kids’ bedrooms first.

Make their bedroom a priority for unpacking so your kids can start to settle in right away (pack it in truck last, if you can, so it’s amongst the first items to come out).

  • Safety tip: be sure to not stack your boxes, they can be a big hazard for little people!

After Moving Day

 

  • Stay connected with old friends

Help your child stay connected with their old friends, even while they make new connections.  Writing letters, emails, or face timing can be fun for them! …And don’t forget to schedule the occasional play-date.

Help your child stay connected with their old friends - Writing letters, emails, or face timing can be fun for them!

Help your child stay connected with their old friends – Writing letters, emails, or face timing can be fun for them!

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How marijuana legalization might affect YYC real estate

The legalization of marijuana has many people questioning how their industries might be impacted and, the real estate industry is no exception.

It’s not a secret that grow operations exist…and often in residential communities.  One question that has come up is, ‘Could there possibly be an increase in the presence of these ‘problem homes’ once marijuana is legalized?’.  We don’t truly know, but it’s something we should be thinking about.

What I do know is if you are a buyer, and you are wanting to be proactive about understanding if marijuana might have been grown in your future home (and if so, what you should do about it), I can offer you some straight forward tips.

Could there be an increase in the presence of ‘problem homes’ once marijuana is legalized?

Could there be an increase in the presence of ‘problem homes’ once marijuana is legalized?

Why should you be concerned about a home that has been used as a grow-op?

There are several reasons why a home used as a marijuana-growing nursery is a concern.

Often, there is a great deal of humidity that is created inside a building that is used as an indoor grow-operation.  Humidity can create a great deal of damage to a home, especially if it isn’t properly ventilated.  This can result in mould growth, which can lead to a laundry list of health risks.

While setting up for and indoor nursery, some may ‘tamper’ with the electrical mechanics of the home.  This may be done, without obtaining permits, with the objective of bypassing the home’s meters (usually the goal here is to avoid high energy bills). This can be extremely dangerous and can be a serious fire risk.

Some other problems you might come across are homes that have seen re-venting of the furnace system (potentially leading to exhaust fumes being re-circulated back into the house).  You may also discover the presence of poisonous gases that may have accumulated from chemicals that are often used in the production of cannabis.

These are not the sorts of things you want to expose yourself, or your loved ones, to!

Ask the question: Has cannabis been grown in this home?

There is nothing wrong with simply requesting that your realtor make an inquiry about whether, or not, marijuana has been grown in a home you are considering.  I would recommend they make this request by email or some other way that can be documented.  At a bare minimum, you are showing your due diligence. You will also have something in writing that shows you made an inquiry, prior to purchasing, in the event (heaven-forbid) something comes up post-possession.

Get a home inspection done by a qualified home inspector!

Regardless of whether or not you suspect a grow-up may have been present in a home you are considering, home inspections are always a good idea.  They are helpful in identifying potentially costly home deficiencies including, of course, issues resulting from indoor nurseries.

What if you discover a grow-op has been present in a home that you’re considering?

My advice would be to steer clear of the home and keep searching, regardless of any discount that might be offered.  You will always need to disclose that a grow-operation had been present in the home and, I have reservations about whether, or not, a home can be truly remediated.

Having said that, if you are absolutely set on moving forward with a potential purchase, here are some important preliminary steps you should take:

  • Check in with your bank, or lender, to ensure they are willing to provide a mortgage on a home that has had a grow-op in it. There could be a possibility that they may require a property inspection or they could even refuse a mortgage.
  • Contact your insurance provider; they may also be leery about getting involved in a home that has been used as a grow-op. You don’t want to be surprised with higher rates or coverage denial.  You especially don’t want to discover this at the time of closing (the absence of insurance could mean your lender could reconsider your mortgage).

 

Navigating all of the considerations in purchasing a home can be tricky, that’s why it makes sense to hire a professional real estate agent to help you along the way.  I am working hard to get the right information on how the upcoming law changes, around marijuana, might affect you as a homebuyer. If you have questions for me (or would maybe like a recommendation on a great home inspector!) please feel free to reach out to me!

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How to dress for the Calgary Stampede when you have a City-Girl Wardrobe

If you’re anything like me, you are NOT a cowgirl and you do NOT have a closet full of western clothes.  Every year, when the Calgary Stampede starts to approach, I begin to panic a little thinking about what I’m going to wear!

Now, for those ten days, I do try to embrace my ‘inner-cowgirl’.  I make an effort to get into the ‘Stampede spirit’ and I have developed a few easy tips that I thought I would share with you.

You may find it interesting to know that my current western wardrobe is actually fairly light!

You may find it interesting to know that my current western wardrobe is actually fairly light!

My Current Western Wardrobe…

1 Cowboy Hat

2 Western Shirts

1 Pair of (uncomfortable) Cowboy Boots

It’s not a lot, right?  …But, that’s okay!  I have a few little tricks, that I have developed, that I find have worked well for this non-Calgary native.

My 5 Simple Tricks to Enhance my Western Wardrobe:

  1. Every year I buy one new shirt that I can interchange with a pair of jeans.
  2. I do have a jean jacket that I throw on if it’s cool outside, or raining.
  3. I own a bandana…sometimes I’ll add that to change things up a bit!
  4. Last year I bought some feathered earrings.  Lucky for all us that ‘Boho’ look is really in right now so they are actually really easy to find!  The added perk here is you can wear them beyond the 10-days of Stampede!
  5. I have found the odd item that has tassels…does it get anymore ‘western-influenced’ than that?
Tassels are a great, inexpensive, way to accessorize for the Calgary Stampede.

Tassels are a great, inexpensive, way to accessorize for the Calgary Stampede.

I know this isn’t a long list, but that’s the whole point.  This list for those girls like me!    The girl who is maybe from Winnipeg…where your friends know you’re NOT a cowgirl…and they’re probably laughing at the mere thought of you even trying to embrace your inner-cowgirl!

And do they even listen to country music in Winnipeg???

Keep It Simple!

Don’t forget, you don’t need to shop at a western store to find a plaid shirt or, really, any of these items.  Many of your favourite retail shops, consignment boutiques or even Facebook buy/sell groups probably have most (or all) of these items widely available.

And here’s one last tip!  If you’re feeling overwhelmed with trying to get your giddy-up-Stampede-outfit together, my friend Dionne swears by a little shop in Inglewood called, ‘espy’!  Just show up, give them a budget (it doesn’t have to be huge) and apparently they’ll get you outfitted and out the door before you a can say, ‘Yee-Haw’!  You can check them out here.

If you have any questions about my Stampede wardrobe or, more importantly, your next real estate decision, please feel free to contact me!  I’m always happy to help!

Enjoying the Calgary Stampede with friends!

Enjoying the Calgary Stampede with friends!

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Does a home stager really add value and how?

As your real estate agent, my job is to make sure we sell your house within a reasonable time frame and for the best price possible.  I put together a marketing plan that considers the best way for us to do this.

We will look at having great photos taken, putting your house on MLS (the multiple listing service), and we will also look at an array of other marketing tools best suited for your particular home and location.

One responsibility you will have is making sure your home is in tip-top shape.  This might look like de-cluttering, putting away certain ‘personal items’, or possibly beautifying your home in other ways.  As part of this process, I sometimes recommend clients seek out the help of a professional home stager.  Of course it’s only a recommendation but there is often a huge benefit to enlisting the help of one.

The home of a client we recently had staged by Chrysalis Creative Home Staging.

What is a home stager?

One of the biggest misconceptions about home stagers is that they are interior decorators when, in fact, their roles are very different.  Ellen Mann, of Chrysalis Creative Home Staging, puts it really well:

“A decorator’s job is to ask the client questions to determine their particular taste, and then to cater to that.  They create a space that fits the owner’s vision and personality in terms of color, décor and furnishings.  In other words, they work hard to reflect the owner in the space.

A stager’s job is to create a warm and welcoming space that’s generic enough to appeal to the widest possible group of people. In other words, my job is to take the individual owner, OUT of the space.  Sometimes we stage in a style the owner doesn’t like, but we aren’t decorating for them, we’re decorating for the next owner.”

How do I know if I need the services of a home stager?

As your agent, I will help you determine when, and if, the services of a home stager would benefit you.  Here are some examples of scenarios where I might suggest a client consider using one:

Your home is showing more personal items than we should show…or maybe even too many items all together.

Too much ‘stuff’ in a house can be a huge distraction for potential purchasers (as can too many personal belongings, such as photographs).  Clearing out the right items can open up a space and keep people focused on the other great features that your home might offer.

Your home has great furniture and/or décor already but, with a little bit of re-arranging, can showcase your space the BEST way possible.

Some examples of this could be changing a furniture layout to open up a room or better define a space.  It could also look like moving around some décor pieces to highlight particular home features.

Your home could use a little ‘warming up’.

A minimalist approach when re-selling is great but, we also want prospects to feel ‘warmth’ when they enter a home.  Sometimes a home can benefit from a few extra accessories or a piece (or two) of furniture. Small changes, like these, can really add warmth to a space.

sometimes a home can benefit from a few extra accessories

Sometimes a home can benefit from a few extra accessories.

In an extremely competitive market, we may need to put our absolute BEST foot forward.

During slower times, or when there is a surplus of competition, we need your home to look absolutely pristine. The help of a home stager can give us the extra touches we need to make your house look absolutely amazing!  This can be the difference we need to keep prospective buyers focused on your house (and not the competition’s).

Your house is vacant.

Empty homes just don’t show the same way and, generally, tend to fetch a lower price that a furnished house.  An empty home can actually look smaller than it is and also, sometimes gives prospective buyers the idea that you might ‘need’ to sell your house quickly.  This can trigger ‘low-ball’ bids.

What kind of feedback am I going to get from a home stager?

Every home is different.  The recommendations that a home stager might make are going to vary based on your home, needs, timeframe, and budget.  Having said that, there are some common themes that home stagers see often, here are some that Ellen Mann has shared with me:

  1. If a client has rooms painted a rainbow of colors, or their walls are not neutral, the BIGGEST bang for their buck may be in painting the walls a light, neutral color
  2. Art sells houses.  Nearly every home we go into has art that is too small for the wall, and it’s hung too high.  Art should be to scale, and should be hung so the midpoint of the piece is at eye level for someone between 5.5 feet and 6 feet.
  3. The view from the entry of your home is the most critical place to stage.  If buyers don’t feel an immediate connection, they will go no further.  You have 3-6 seconds to capture their hearts.  If you’re successful there, they will look for reasons to keep you on the short list, rather than looking for reasons to eliminate your house from their list of potential properties.
  4. Investing in smart upgrades can yield a big return.  But knowing, and understanding what will give you a return is critical.  Flooring, paint and lighting can help make a home look updated.

Here is a home that was staged showing some examples of making a home neutral, beautiful, and desirable (staging by Chrysalis Creative Home Staging).

a living room before staging.

A living room before staging.

 

updating the space to make it neutral.

Updating the space to make it ‘neutral’.

 

adding layers of furniture and accessories to make the space inviting to a potential buyer

Adding ‘layers’ of furniture, lighting, and accessories to make the space inviting to a potential buyer.

How much will a home stager cost?

The cost of a home stager really depends on what services (or items) you and I might like to provide for your home.  Do we just need some furniture moved around to create the best layout possible?  Do we need a paint colour recommendation?  Do we need to rent furniture, or art, for several rooms in your home?  Depending on what our needs are, the costs can vary from a couple of hundred dollars and up.

The good news is there are no surprises.  We can get quotes ahead of time and I can easily help you choose the best professional home stager to suit your personal needs. Remember though, spending a little bit of money up front can save you time, and money, in the long term.

A client’s bedroom we recently had staged by Chrysalis Creative Home Staging.

What is staging for living?

Even if you’re not considering moving, sometimes giving a home stager some time with your own things, in your own space, can really freshen up a space!  This is called, ‘staging for living’ and I highly recommend it.  I have used it in my own home and love the fresh feel it has brought!

What are some quick and easy tips to add a decorated feel to any home?

Lucky for us, Ellen has offered up some little tidbits can be used for home staging – either for sale or, for living…

  1. Layer, layer, layer.  Use linens, pillows and throws to give a home an elevated feel.
  2. Secondary lighting is critical to adding warmth to a room.
  3. Symmetry without using identical items.  Meaning we no longer use 2 sets of matching pillows on a couch.  Mixing patterns and using good quality pillows can add a casual elegance to a living space or bed. 

 

There can be a cost for staging but that cost often translates to value!  The touches a home stager adds really can save you time and money.  I have seen this first hand!

I work with several home stagers, in the Calgary area, and would be happy to make a recommendation to you based on your home, needs, and budget. Please reach out to me with any questions you might have about finding the right home stager.  Of course, I would also love to hear from you if you have any questions, at all, about buying or selling your home– I’m here to help!

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6 Great YYC Family-Oriented Neighbourhoods

Research tells us that ‘community’ is one of the most important considerations people have when shopping for a home.  If you have a family, there are a variety of neighbourhood ‘qualities’ that you might want to look for – things such as amenities, schools, and proximity to hobbies could (and should) be on your house-shopping wish list.

Here is a list of 6 neighbourhoods I think are worth considering if you are searching for the perfect home, and community, for your family.

Auburn Bay

Auburn Bay is a family-oriented, four-season lake community in the southeast suburbs of Calgary.  It is quite popular with families, who often search out homes specifically in this neighbourhood. I have many friends who have lived in Auburn Bay and have remained there as their families grew.

In addition to the beautiful lake, and all of the wonderful activities that come living in a lake community (think stand up paddle boarding in the summer and hockey in the winter), the Auburn Bay Residents Association is very active. They can be counted on to provide a regular line up of fun, family-oriented community events and programs. There is always something to do in Auburn Bay whether you’re an indoor, fair-weather person or an active lover of the great outdoors.

Schools are always an important consideration, when choosing a community for your family.  Auburn Bay offers both a public and catholic option for elementary students.  Auburn Bay School is public (kindergarten to grade 4) and Prince of Peace School is catholic (kindergarten to grade 9).

Directly to the south of Auburn Bay is the much anticipated SETON Urban District.  This development offers everything you could want to fulfill your shopping, dining and entertainment needs.  It has been affectionately referred to as ‘the downtown of the southeast’ and has a great line of up of shops and services already established.

If you’re a family, with a family dog, you will also love the close proximity to the Auburn Bay Off Leash Park!

Although this community is a little further into the southeast quadrant of the city, it borders both Deerfoot Trail, as well as the Stoney Trail Ring Road, giving you easy and quick access to other parts of the city.

The upside of considering a newer community, such as Auburn Bay, for your family is that the homes are relatively new so there is less time (and money) spent on maintenance and more time spent with family. 

Bridgeland-Riverside

If you’re looking for an inner-city neighbourhood, that is also family-friendly, you’ll want to consider Bridgeland-Riverside.   This community offers a variety of older homes, newly developed infills, and condominiums in a wide variety of price ranges.

Many Calgary families call this area ‘home’, not only because of it’s close proximity to downtown, but also because of its proximity to some other great family-oriented spots such as the Calgary Zoo, Telus Spark (science centre), St. Patrick’s Island, and of course the beautiful Bow River.

Culture is important to many of us!  One thing that attracts folks to Bridgeland is the fact that it is a very ‘hip’ and pedestrian-friendly community.  You will find a variety of restaurants, boutiques, shops, and café’s that can be easily explored just by taking a neighbourhood stroll.

Another great quality about this neighbourhood is there is a strong presence from the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association.  There are several events organized for community members each month, so there is plenty to keep a family busy here!

There are several schools in the area, including Langevin School (a K-9 science school which is an alternative program offered by the Calgary Board of Education), St. Angela Workplace School (a Catholic kindergarten to grade 6 ‘workplace school’ supporting families with parents who work downtown – a great family perk is it offers before and after school programs).  Delta West Academy, a private school for children from junior kindergarten to grade 12, is also located in Bridgeland.

South Calgary Community – including Marda Loop and Garrison Woods

The South Calgary Community is not only located close to the downtown core, it also has a thriving shopping/dining district (with over 130 shop, boutiques and restaurants), an off-leash park (with river and city views), a public library, museums, a golf course, several indoor & outdoor skating rinks, indoor & outdoor swimming pools, and even access to a beach volleyball court.  There is plenty here to keep everyone in the family busy and entertained!

 

The Marda Loop Communities Association is very active offering programs, events, and other community-minded meetings.

There are several schools in this area including: Altadore School (kindergarten to grade 6), Central Memorial High School (grades 10-12), and Lycée Louis Pasteur (a private French school for students from preschool-age to grade 12)

 

Tuscany

Tuscany community is located in the rolling hills of the city’s northwest quadrant. It is a suburban community with beautiful mountain views and it’s situated within close proximity to shopping, restaurants, and two different YMCA’s.

It is also located near beautiful ravines, which are perfect for walking and exploring – check out the 12 Mile Coulee that hosts hiking trails and two different off-leash parks (perfect for your fur-family members).  I love that it’s a very short drive west to leave the city and to be en route to the majestic Rocky Mountains (one of my favourite places to visit)!

This community has an extremely active residents association, known as the Tuscany Club.  Some of the family-friendly amenities you’ll find there include a splash park, a skateboard park, a gymnasium, tennis courts, an outdoor rink, and more!

In addition to wonderful amenities, the community hosts a wide variety of events, programs, clubs and sports leagues (for the both children and adults!). There is even a community garden – the Tuscany Community Garden!

There are several neighbourhood schools including Tuscany School (kindergarten to grade 4), Eric Harvie School (kindergarten to grade 4), and Twelve Mile Coulee School (grades 5 to 9).

In Tuscany you will find a wide variety of home types, and price points, making it a diverse neighbourhood.   This allows families to grow, or make changes, yet stay within their community and easily find a home that is suitable to their needs.

Despite it’s deep northwest location, it is easy to transport to and from this area because of its close proximity to the Tuscany-Rocky Ridge LRT Station (which is a Park & Ride location), Crowchild Trail, and the Stoney Trail Ring Road. 

Varsity

Varsity is a beautiful, and mature, centrally located community.  The fact that is has so many schools within it, AND is walking distance to the University of Calgary, makes it a great fit for families with kids of all ages.  You can start your family here and easily stay into your ‘empty nest’ years.

The central location makes it an easy drive for those downtown commuters.  It has a beautiful, tree-lined pathway system that easily takes you to Market Mall or the Brentwood LRT station (which is also a Park & Ride station).

There are are great number of schools in Varsity including: Varsity Acres School (kindergarten to grade 6), Marion Carson School (kindergarten to grade 6 plus a Chinese Bilingual program – Mandarin), Christine Meikle School (a special needs junior/senior high school), F.E. Osborne School (grades 7 to 9), and St. Vincent De Paul School (Catholic kindergarten to grade 9).

Cranston

Cranston is a diverse, master-planned community in the city’s southeast quadrant. It has a wide variety of home types available, from condominiums to starter homes to glorious estate homes overlooking the beautiful Bow River.

At the ‘centre’ of the community you will find Century Hall, a gated facility for residents (and their guests).  The building has a full gymnasium where a wide variety of programs and events are held for community members.  Tennis courts, a waterpark for children, basketball courts and a playground all also amenities found within the facility’s boundaries.

Cranston Market, the neighbourhood shopping area, has a variety of shops, restaurants, and services established (including a grocery store).  In addition to this, the anticipated SETON Urban District is only one community over.  If you’re wanting, or needing, to be near a hospital you will appreciated that the South Health Campus is also quite close by.

Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the many pathways running through the community – especially those taking you to Fish Creek Park!  I often head to Cranston, with my bike, when I need to practice my hill training for the Road to Conquer Cancer ride that I have been participating in annually.  There is a killer hill coming up from Riverstone (the section of Cranston situated along the Bow River)…it is almost 1 km up hill!

Cranston has several community schools including Cranston School (kindergarten to grade 3), Dr. George Stanley School (grades 4 to 9), Christ The King School (Catholic kindergarten to grade 9), and Our Lady of the Rosary School (kindergarten to grade 6).

Quick access to, and from, Cranston is available via Deerfoot Trail or the newly built Stoney Trail Ring Road.  Getting to even the far north can be done with relative ease.

 

 

Although there are many wonderful communities in our great city, these are some of my favourites for families to consider.  If you would like more information on homes in any of these areas, or others for that matter, please feel free to reach out to me here!

         Recently enjoying a stroll through beautiful Cranston!

 

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Home Maintenance Checklist – 10 Tips You Should Know

It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘busyness’ of life and forget about some of our home’s maintenance needs.  Really, it’s not usually a matter of spending a tonne of time doing them; it’s more about remembering those ‘once in a while’ jobs.

I have come up with a basic list of home care tips for you. Now that spring is approaching, it’s the perfect time to check some of these off our to-do lists.

Gutters & Downspouts

It’s a really good idea to clean out your gutters, and downspouts, each spring.  Once your gutters have been cleared of debris, use a garden hose to spray out your downspouts to remove any remaining particles.

Finally, check thoroughly for leaks and make sure everything is securely attached to your home.

*While you’re outside, take a quick moment to check the vents for your clothes Dryer.  The build up from the lint collected by the dryer is a major fire hazard and also can lead to the early demise of your appliance.

Ceiling Fans

Changing the direction of the ceiling fans in your home can help you feel more comfortable and can also help you enjoy potential energy savings.

In the spring and summer, set your ceiling fan to rotate counter clockwise to push cool air to the floor.

In the fall and winter, change the direction that your paddles are rotating in order to spin clockwise.  This will help to pull the cool air up and circulate the warm air down

House Foundation

Spring is a good time to check your home’s foundation, since the snow is melting and the areas around the founding will be clearing up.  Walk the perimeter of your house and mark any cracks with tape.  Check them every three-months to monitor for an increase in sizing (contact a professional if any cracks become large enough to fit a coin inside of them).  The same process can be done from inside of your home, if your basement is unfinished

*While you are outside, check your air conditioner to make sure it is clear of yard debris and plant growth. You’ll want to make sure you do this before starting up your A/C for the first time.  While you’re thinking about your A/C unit, you might also shut down your humidifier for the summertime…it should be turned ‘off’ while your air conditioning is ‘on’. 

Deck, Railings, and Fences

Decks, railings, and fences should all be checked annually, preferably in the springtime.  Look for deterioration and/or water damage and make repairs promptly to extend the life and maintain the integrity of your wood.

It’s a good idea to consider re-staining, or re-sealing, anything that is wood every one to two-years.  In addition to extending its life, you will help maintain your home’s curb appeal.

Vinyl Siding

The vinyl siding, on your home, should be checked periodically to make sure there aren’t any missing or broken pieces.  If it’s looking dusty, or dirty, it can easily be washed with mild detergent, and a garden hose, to remove the dust and keep it looking vibrant!

Asphalt Shingles 

The asphalt shingles, on your roof, should be checked periodically for loose, broken or missing shingles.  If you notice anything that doesn’t look right, contact a professional right away.  Damage on your roof should be re-paired immediately to prevent water from leaking into your home (Ack!).

Furnace & Air Conditioning Filters

Furnace filters need to be changed regularly, in order to keep your air quality at its best and also, to prevent hardship on your furnace’s mechanics.

  • Pleated filters should be checked monthly and replaced, generally, every 90 days.
  • Disposable fibreglass filters should be checked and replaced more often.
  • Permanent, reusable filters (also known as ‘washable filters’) should be removed and cleaned at least every 90-days.

If you’re not sure what kind of filter you have (or how often it should be changed/cleaned), check the manufacturer’s directions but, generally, most filters are intended for approximately 90-days of use (that’s how often I change mine…especially given how dusty it is living in our newer suburban community).

Having said that, it’s best to have a quick check for dust & debris monthly.  Keeping a supply of filters on hand can help keep you on schedule and avoid delaying this important home maintenance task.

Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Your smoke detectors, and Carbon Monoxide Alarms, should be tested monthly and the batteries should be replaced annually (rechargeable batteries are not recommended).

You can test either of these devices by pressing ‘test’ button.  You can also do a ‘real’ test with your smoke detector by lighting a match, or some incense, and placing it directly below the unit (if it doesn’t go off, replace the batteries and then repeat the test).

Did you know that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms expire?

To determine if your smoke detector is expired, remove it from the wall or ceiling, look at the back for the date of manufacture.  If it was made more than ten-years ago, or if a date cannot be located, replace it with a new one.

To determine if your carbon monoxide alarm is expired, refer to the packaging it came in.  If you no longer have it, you can do a simple search online.

Exhaust Fans

Your exhaust fans should be vacuumed with a brush attachment regularly.  You can also wash the vent fan cover in hot, soapy water as needed.

You should also do a simple ‘tissue test’, annually, to ensure your fans are working properly and efficiently (the fan should be able to hold tissue to it, while it’s turned ‘on’). If your fan fails the ‘tissue test’, it’s time to contact a professional – it’s important that bathroom humidity can be drawn out of your home!

Garage Doors

Garage doors are often forgotten when homeowners consider their home maintenance projects.  Door hinges should be lubricated every three years and the perimeter weather stripping should be checked once per year, before the wintertime

 

I get that life can get busy! Trust me…as a full-time, working wife, and mom…I totally get it!  Having said that, properly maintaining our homes can save us a lot of money in costly repairs later, so it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

If the thought of trying to remember ‘all things home maintenance’ is a little overwhelming for you, consider adding some recurring reminders to your calendar (or favourite ‘reminders’ app). Keeping a calendar is a great way to help stay organized!

Also, if you think you might need help, from a professional, with any of these jobs – please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!  I’m more than happy to help put you in touch with local, reputable, Calgary-based service providers.

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YYC’s 5 Most Dog-Friendly Communities

 

Many of us Calgarians have beloved, furry members in our family – our pups! My family is no exception – we love our dog, Molly, very much and consider her in many of our life decisions! Where will we stay on vacation? Is the hotel we are considering dog friendly? What kind of a vehicle would suit our animal-loving lifestyle?

When it comes to choosing a community to live in, many of us have similar type questions surrounding how accommodating it might be to our dog-loving lifestyle. I have compiled a list of the top five most dog-friendly communities in Calgary, to hopefully eliminate some of the guesswork for you!

1. Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge is a beautiful and established community. It has quick access to many major roadways including Deerfoot Trail, Macleod Trail, Southland Drive, and Anderson Drive. It is also close to many shopping and recreation-based amenities.

This community is well treed, so it is quite nice to just enjoy a stroll right from your front door and through the neighbourhood with your pup. It does get even better, though, since many of the homes in this community are walking distance to the largest fenced-in off-leash park in Calgary – Sue Higgins Park.

Not only is this dog park large and close, it also runs along the Bow River. This gives you a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air…and your pup a chance to cool off and splash around.

Maple Ridge is a great opportunity to have both value and location. There are many cool floor plans in this area and the pricing is very reasonable for a community that offers as much as it does.

2. Auburn Bay

Auburn Bay is a four-season lake community offering access to an exceptional amount of amenities. It is close to shopping, schools, a hospital, restaurants as well as the exciting new Seton district. In the very near future, there will also be a recreation facility, a premium movie theatre, and public library built near-by.

Within the community, Auburn Bay hosts a very active and popular off-leash park. Many of the homes in this community are walking distance to the park but for those that aren’t; on-site parking is available as well.

In addition to this off-leash park being fenced, there are benches found throughout as well as a Doggie Fountain near the entrance/exit.

Bonus: It is reasonably priced for a south suburban lake community.

3. Mahogany

Mahogany is another wonderful, dog-friendly community in Calgary’s deep south. It neighbours with Auburn Bay and offers access and proximity to all of the same, wonderful amenities (see community #2 above).

As a dog-owner, who personally lives in Mahogany, I can attest to the welcoming nature of this community towards dogs of all sizes. In addition to being a stone’s-throw away from the near by Auburn Bay Off-Leash Park, this community is also host to 22 kilometers of paved walking paths. It also is the home of a pet store and a veterinary clinic.

4. Altadore

Altadore is culture-rich and vibrant inner-city community. It is very pedestrian-friendly and hosts many different festivals throughout the year where people, and dogs alike, are often seen strolling about.

In addition to having many hip and cool coffee shops (and pub patios!) to walk to, this community also borders the River Park Off-Leash Area. This particular dog park could be argued to be one of the most scenic, in the city, as it over-looks the Elbow River and boasts a clear view of the downtown horizon.

There are a wide variety of home-styles available here, however, the area has been known in recent years to be especially popular with high-end/luxury developers. Having said that, prices have come off slightly since the downturn so there is some good opportunity to purchase here.

5. Haysboro

Haysboro is a community that many would consider to be bordering inner city. It has easy access to many main thoroughfares and is a quick drive to downtown (in fact, you can get there in under twenty minutes).

Having said that, if driving isn’t your thing, not to worry because this community is within close proximity to multiple LRT stations.

This is a mature area that tends to have more of a bungalow selection, which is great for baby boomers. Many of the homes in this area have been renovated and the lots are typically larger than what you will find in the suburbs, which is great for both parents of children as well as dog owners.

Bonus: This community has not just one, but two off-leash parks AND is a stone’s throw away from the scenic Glenmore Reservoir, which contains endless miles of paved walking paths and public washrooms.

 

If you have questions about any of these communities, or would help some help figuring out which community is best for you and your (fur) family, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

My daughter, Morgan, and our family pup – Molly!

 

 

 

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