3 New Sage Hill Homes For Sale

Looking to move to the Sage Hill area? I have 3 new listings in Sage Hill for you to view. I recently sold 2 listings that went on the market over the summer.

Check out the listing details below.

Sage Hill Open House!

Saturday and Sunday, October 21 & 22

2:00 – 4:30 PM

Contact me to let me know you’re coming. If you want to get a look at the properties before then, call me at 403-998-5535 to set up an appointment.

New Sage Hill Homes for Sale

29 Sage Meadows Park

29 Sage Meadows

13 Sage Meadows Park

Sage Hill Homes for Sale
9 Sage Meadows Park

9 Sage Meadows

18 Things To Do Before Selling Your Home [Infographic]

free home valuation report

Sellers:

Before you sell your home, there are some things you need to do to get it ready for the market. I want you to get top dollar for your home. When I work with sellers, these 18 tips are the exact same ones that I provide to them. Do these things if you want to make your home “sellable.” Today, your home might stay on the market a little longer than it would have a couple years ago. Or, buyers may be tempted to offer a little less than they would have before.

Get ahead of both of those scenarios by taking a little time to do the things that make buyers and agents more likely to take your home seriously.

Throughout my experience, I’ve learned that success hinges on preparing your home. Want to sell quickly and for top dollar? Then read through this list and do the things that apply to your home.

Don’t forget to take advantage of my completely free home valuation report. Even if you’re considering working with another agent, it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion!

18 Things To Do Before Putting Your Home Up For Sale

things to do before selling your home infographic 1

[addthis tool=”addthis_inline_share_toolbox_7be5″]

This is the Busiest Time of the Year for Home Sales

Did you know? The months between now and Christmas make up the busiest time of the year for home sales. For sellers, this means you need to strongly consider getting your house on the market. And for buyers, with interest rates on the rise, this means you should make your move, if it’s something you’ve been thinking about for awhile.

homes for sale in calgary

Why this is the busiest time of the year to sell

September and October months contain a lot of anticipation and preparation for the new year. There are also plenty of holidays coming up just around the corner, creating less space on the calendar for moseying around. With little time to waste, people make decisions more quickly and want to cross things off their checklist before the end of the year.

If you are thinking about buying or selling before the new year, get started as soon as you can. Read below for four very good reasons why.

#1 People want to move in by Christmas

Who wants to move during the holidays? Most people absolutely do not want to do that. At the same time, having a house full of boxes and trying to make moving arrangements or possession arrangements during the holidays is just as undesirable.

During a busy season, both buyers and sellers tend to be more or less willing to negotiate certain things. Everyone’s looking for a favorable transaction.

#2 Interest rates are on the rise

Interest rates rise slowly and fall quickly, which means that they may just continue to rise for awhile. Don’t make the mistake in assuming that you are going to get a better rate in a few months. If the rates work for you now, and you have the money to invest in a home, just contact me and talk about your options.

Keep in mind that the interest rate on your mortgage determines how much your monthly payment is. Getting a lower rate means more money for other things.

# 3 Unemployment is lower

More jobs means more money available to make investments in a new home. Buyers may have a bit more spending power than before, too.

#4 September is the time to make decisions

In September and October, people have time to shop for new homes or make decisions to sell. With the summer over and the kids back in school, people can set up appointments and talk to agents.

Selling a home in Calgary? Let’s Connect.

If you’re selling your home or are even thinking about potentially selling your home, let’s connect. I can help you with a home valuation and market research report, as well as help you navigate this busy time of the year. Let’s talk about what you need to do to get your home sold in time for the holidays.

Fall Real Estate Tip: Be Optimistic But Realistic, Too

It’s official. September 1 has arrived. Summer is coming to a close, which means it’s back to work for most of us, but who doesn’t like September? It’s one of the favorites among all of the months. September, like April, brings new beginnings for a lot of people. For many people, this new beginning involves real estate – selling or buying a home.

I wanted to share a tip with you today that is going to make your real estate journey a lot easier. It’s applicable to both buyers and sellers. Buyers and sellers have different goals, for sure, but at the end of the day, they have only one common overall objective. That objective is to have a smooth real estate transaction.

As a buyer, it’s not abnormal to want to find the hottest deal, right away, with exactly what you want. Every buyer wants that.

As a seller, it’s not abnormal to want to put your home on the market and get tons of offers at top dollar. Every seller wants that.

Are these desires completely normal? Yes, absolutely. They’re optimistic. Everyone should be optimistic going into the real estate market.

Stay Realistic About 2017 Real Estate

stay realistic about real estate

I started selling homes over 20 years ago. I’ve seen a lot of real estate transactions. The tip I think is most important for everyone right now is to stay realistic about the 2017 real estate market. You won’t necessarily go out and find smoking gun deals when buying real estate at the moment. Things have changed. And as for selling, you’re not likely going to be receiving numerous top dollar offers on your home like you would have in 2015.

Being successful requires an interesting balance between optimism and reality. You need both!

As your Realtor, my job is to bring reality and optimism to the transaction so that you find what you want (if you’re buying) and sell for what you want (if you’re selling). Those goals might need a little tweaking in order to create a transaction.

What Staying Realistic in Real Estate Means

Here are four ways to stay realistic about your real estate goals.

#1 Let the market inform your decisions

Markets, and even more specifically, the neighborhood, city, etc. tell us what we need to know about buying and selling real estate. Market data tells us how long homes are likely to hang around before a transaction takes place. And market data tells us what homes are listed for and how much they sell for (two different things). This information is important for buyers and sellers alike.

Real estate professionals rely on market data to help us understand our options. We make data-driven decisions, not emotional ones. The problem is that selling and buying homes is, in fact, emotional. We’ve all been there! It’s tough, sometimes. But together, we can look at our options realistically and come up with a great plan.

#2 Sellers: Do what it takes to sell

do what it takes to sell

This one is specifically for sellers. Sellers – in this kind of market, you cannot sit back and do nothing to your home and still hope it sells quickly and for top dollar. You may need to make certain changes to help it sell faster and for more money. Certain features may need a deep clean, replacement, or upgrade. Or, you may need to pack up more than you thought, to give potential buyers a better feel for your home. Whatever it is, just keep an open mind. The more willing you are to make changes to accommodate a sale, the better positioned you’ll be going into it.

#3 Buyers: Stay within your budget

It feels really good to go out looking for homes. It’s one of my favorite things to do with buyers. However, there’s a catch. Avoid indulging yourselves by driving through neighborhoods full of homes you cannot afford. Consider the psychological effect. What happens is that those homes – the ones way out of your budget – become the standard in your mind. Then, when you start to look at homes you can afford, they seem less than standard or less than ideal. Instead of torturing yourself or creating a painful process, work with a Realtor who will help you stay within your budget. You can absolutely find something that’s move in ready, clean, reliable, beautiful, desirable, and affordable.

#4 Be prepared for it to take longer to get what you want

Not all homes will stay on the market for several weeks, and not all buyers will have to wait a couple of months for an ideal home to come up. But some will. So, the only ask here is that you consider the possibility of the deal taking longer time than you thought. That means that you have to be realistic about what that means for your life. You may need to start looking for a Calgary home now – instead of four months from now – if you’re planning to buy in the next six months. And if you’re selling, you may need to make that small home improvement that you were debating, because it could be the difference in selling for top dollar and selling for much less than that.

 

I hope this tip helps! I am here to answer any questions you might have. Find me on Facebook for frequent tips and listing updates, or subscribe to my monthly newsletter for market reports and insider information about real estate in Calgary.

What upgrades are worth adding to your new home?

When it comes to new home upgrades, some choices will add a lot of value. What I mean is that they may actually increase the value of your home, but will also likely make your home more sellable and attractive to new buyers. Some new home upgrades are worth every dollar because you’ll get that money back in the form of increased sale price when you go to sell it.

At the same time, not every upgrade is worth it, and not every homeowner agrees on what an “upgrade” is. As always, it’s your home and you’re the one living in it, so you should customize it to your liking. But if you are considering moving up to a bigger or different home in a few years, you’ll want to makes sure you choose wisely when it comes to upgrades.

new home upgrades

New home upgrades every buyer wants

I believe every new home buyer wants certain upgrades. You can probably guess what they are. Upgraded counter tops in kitchens and bathrooms, flooring throughout the home, and appliances are all good places to start.

How those items are upgraded makes a difference, though. Granite or quartz counter tops make a great choice for new home upgrades. So do hardwood or laminate wood flooring. Many buyers specifically look for these upgrades and will filter out homes that don’t have them, even before going to take a look at the home.

As for appliances, the primary desire in today’s real estate market continues to be stainless steel. It’s true that there are plenty of options out there for appliances that are more expensive than stainless steel. But the overwhelming majority of home buyers are looking for stainless steel appliances.

Will these upgrades always add value? They could, but it’s not a guarantee. Even if they don’t add financial value, they will make your home more attractive to buyers, which gives you an edge.

New home upgrades that potentially add value to your home

I want to premise this section by saying that no one can predict which way the market is going to go or that any upgrades you make to your home will automatically result in increased value. However, there are some upgrades that do tend to increase the value of homes.

In addition to flooring and counter top upgrades, structural upgrades, including something like attic insulation upgrades, window, and fencing upgrades can add value to a home. These upgrades are desirable and check one more thing off a new home buyer’s list. Expanded rooms or open floor plans in a home may also increase value. Additionally, separating the tub and shower into a spa with a separate shower may pay off.

In brand new homes, choosing nine foot ceilings can pay off in the long run, as well as choosing an upgraded underlay. Energy efficient upgrades, depending on what they are, may add value, too.

If you have the choice to go with higher end lighting that increases the light in a space – particularly in the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or living room – go for it. Lighting upgrades increase the perception that your home is high value.

Closet space upgrades or even high end closet installations may increase value but beware of spending too much on shelving and organization. While the space itself is an asset, not everyone feels the same way about closet design.

New home upgrades I don’t recommend

Sometimes, an upgrade doesn’t end up adding value when it’s all said and done. Why? Because some upgrades are so custom that only the current homebuyer finds value in them. Other upgrades cost so much that they cannot possible be recouped when the house is sold. At the end of the day, the market still determines the value of the home. It’s not necessarily the sum of all of the money that was put into it.

Be careful about color choices and wallpaper. When it’s time to sell your home, you’ll need to create a neutral environment that appeals to all sorts of tastes. Buyers may not like your choice of wall color or paper, and if it’s used extensively, they may not buy the house because of it.

When considering appliances, beware of diminishing returns. A moderately priced stainless steel refrigerator and a very high end stainless steel refrigerator may end up yielding the same value on the market.

Even landscaping can reach a point where the value is maximized. Nicely manicured lawns will sell a home; adding a lot of very expensive additions to your landscaping may not yield the return that you think.

Conclusion

If you’re upgrading your home with the intent to sell it at maximum value, you should consult with someone who knows the market. Some upgrades are going to be great choices, regardless. Timeless, classic upgrades to flooring and counter tops, as well as stainless steel appliances will almost always pay off. But extremely custom homes and very vibrant decor are another story. When in doubt, ask!

Reference

  1. Buying a New Construction Home – Process, Upgrades, & New Construction Costs (http://www.moneycrashers.com/buying-new-construction-home-process-upgrades-costs/)

Featured Properties

What are the Differences in New Communities in Calgary and How do I Pick?

How do you choose one new community over another? In the past few years, builders have created several new communities in Calgary for you to choose from. They’re similar in one major way: they each offer brand new homes or customized floor plans you can choose from. When you buy a brand new home, no one else has ever lived in it before, and it’s tailored for you and your family. That much is the same for every new community.

But beyond the home and land you buy, what other differences are there in new communities in Calgary? This is a common question I know prospective home buyers have. Below, I’ll cover the three main ways the new communities in Calgary are different from each other, and then I’ll list some new communities with houses for sale. Call me if you want to find a home in one of these!

1. New Communities in Calgary Differ in Price

It probably goes without saying that price differs between new communities in Calgary. A common situation new home buyers run into is knowing why prices range so much, but not quite understanding how it impacts them.

Unless you are an investor, always approach real estate and pricing from your own personal or family’s objective. In other words, figure out what will work for you in terms of features, amount of space, location, and amenities and then prioritize all of that. Everything has a cost. When shopping for homes in new communities in Calgary, avoid just going for the cheapest one, believing that new homes are all the same.

If you do that, you might be compromising on something that really matters to you down the road. Or, you might find yourself with a home that doesn’t increase in value as much as you planned. Then, when it comes time to move into another house, it could be harder than you thought to sell the inexpensive one you bought.

2. Amenities May Be Different Between Communities

Think about your needs as a single person, couple, or family. Amenities in new communities impact price, but also lifestyle. Some developers add parks, green spaces, or meridians with trees and flowers. Others offer community centers. These things may not seem important now, or even necessary. Later, though, the value of a community with amenities is going to increase faster than one without them.

Examples of Amenities in New Communities in Calgary

Lifestyle Amenities: Parks, pathways, and ponds make great examples of lifestyle amenities. Some builders also create clubs and recreation facilities within the community. Community pools and kids play places add to the value of the community.

Neighbourhood Amenities: Grocery shops, restaurants, recreation centers, retail stores, schools, and easy access to transit. A note on schools: some communities may even have schools within the community itself, now or in the future.

In addition to the traditional “amenities,” some builders have made the home buying process, including selecting a lot and customizing the home, very different. A creative buying process that is fun and simple is another way new communities in Calgary are different from one another.

3. Location of New Communities Makes a Big Difference

Along with amenities, consider other things that are important to your daily life. New communities that are strategically placed near shops, schools, transit and environmental parkways, cost more than other new communities. Many people enjoy living next to provincial green spaces like Fish Creek, Nosehill Park, and Edworthy Park. Because of that, buying a home in a new community near one of those places will be more expensive.

Also consider whether you want a new community in an urban setting or suburban setting, since both are possible in Calgary and will differ in price.

Think twice, though, when a new home in a new community is priced lower than you would think. Some developers price new communities lower, because they are closer to undesirable factors, such as landfills, water treatment facilities, or noisy areas. It may seem like a good idea now, but the value of the new home you purchase may be negatively impacted.

New Communities in Calgary

Evanston. Amenities include: Green spaces, a neighbourhood gazebo, and playgrounds. Conveniently located near Nose Hill park, schools, and shopping (including CrossIron Mills). Active community association.

new communities in calgary

Evanston Home for Sale – Click here for more details

Symons Gate. Amenities include: A four acre environmental reserve for walking and gathering, a walking or biking trail/pathway that will connect you to downtown, and Curious Park. Curious Park includes a playground, picnic tables, and landscaping. Nearby recreation centres including Calgary Inland Athletic Park, transit, and several shopping centers.

symons gate new community in calgary

Symons Gate Home for Sale – Click here for more details

Looking for a home in a new Calgary community?

Contact me to discuss your options and individual community pros and cons. My expertise is in new home sales and working with first time home buyers. I can help you distinguish between the various new communities in Calgary. I’d love to help you get into the home of your dreams!

15 Facts About Calgary Real Estate That Most People Don’t Know

Even if you’ve been living in Calgary your entire life, you may not know these really interesting real estate facts. Every day, homes are bought and sold in the Calgary real estate market. But you do know as much as about Calgary real estate as you thought?

As you’ll see below, the Calgary Real Estate market offers a lot of opportunity for both buyers and sellers. Thousands of homes are added to the market every month here in Calgary. Additionally, new home construction continues to be very strong. Because of that, whatever kind of home you’re looking for, you will find in Calgary.

Below the list of facts is an infographic you can share on Facebook or LinkedIn.

15 Interesting Facts About Calgary Real Estate

#1: Over 11,600 people work in the Calgary real estate industry.

#2: More than 2,000 businesses offer real estate services in Calgary.

#3: Downtown, there is more than 41 million square feet of office space.

#4: On average, Calgary buildings are the youngest of all major Canadian cities.

#5: In April 2017, 2,393 home sales were recorded through the MLS.

#6: Home buyers and sellers in Calgary contributed to $1.1 billion in homes sales in April 2017. alone

#7: In April 2017, houses in Calgary sold, on average, for $475,516 (Residential Average Price).

#8: Year to date, over $3 billion in home sales in Calgary have been recorded.

#9:  MoneySense Magazine ranked Calgary the second best large city to live in.

#10: Construction companies started building 3,178 new homes year to date, and completed 3,908 year to date.

#11: In Oct 2016, the average renter paid $1,258/month for a two bedroom apartment.

#12: Home buyers can still choose from 1,275 new construction homes that haven’t been absorbed yet.

#13: On average, in May 2017, homes spent 38 days on the market, down 11% year over year.

#14: Also in May 2017, 3,866 new listings were added to the market.

#15: Apartments stayed on the market, on average, 24 days longer than detached homes in May 2017.

Calgary Real Estate Facts Infographic

calgary real estate facts

Buying or Selling a Home in Calgary

Now that you have some facts to work with, if you’re ready to buy or sell your home in Calgary, give me a call. If you need any additional information or help making a decision, I’ll gladly sit down with you over coffee and talk about my experiences here as a Calgary realtor. I want you to make the best decision for your family, and anything I can do to help, I will.

 

Contact me here, or at (403) 998-5535.

 

References

  1. Real Estate | Calgary Economic Development
  2. Alberta Real Estate Association – Housing Market Stats
  3. Life in Calgary
  4. Alberta Housing Market Stats
  5. CMCH Housing Information Portal

 

How To Add Home Improvements To Your Mortgage In 4 Easy Steps

If you are able to find the perfect home that has everything on your list, is completely up to date, and is 100% move in ready, consider yourself very lucky! For most people, the perfect home for them sometimes needs a little TLC to make it just right. Perhaps the backyard isn’t complete or fenced in, or the basement has a lot of space, but it’s just a slab of concrete. It could be that the wiring in the home or the plumbing is up to code, but not necessarily up to date.

how to add home improvements to your mortgage

When you’ve found the ideal home but it needs repairs, how can you get the money to pay for them? There are a few ways:

  • Using a line of credit you already have
  • Paying cash up front/dipping into your savings account
  • Using a home renovation loan

What Is a Home Renovation Loan?

Generally, a home renovation loan is any loan that is designed to help you pay for home improvements. There are several different types of home renovation loans. All of these loans are provided in consideration of a home’s equity – its value minus the amount still owed. Loans that allow you to add home improvements to your mortgage are available, but many home buyers do not understand how they work.

With a qualifying down payment, some banks will allow you to finance home improvements when you purchase a new home. For the most qualified buyers, banks may offer to lend up to 95% of the value of the home after renovations.

This is good news for many home buyers. For one thing, the ability to add home improvements to a mortgage means that you can buy an older home that needs a lot of work, and not have to pay for those improvements up front. And for some people, that also opens up more possibilities for potential homes.

You might think that the process to add home improvements to your mortgage is complicated, but it’s really not. Your lender and your real estate agent will be there to guide you every step of the way. Here are the four steps at a high level.

How to Add Home Improvements To Your Mortgage

Step 1. Determine which improvements to include.

When you walk through the house you want to buy, make sure you consider all of the home improvements you want to make. Create a list of them, and discuss them with your real estate agent. You can only include permanent improvements in a home loan (improvements that will stay with the house).

Consider improvements that will really add a lot of value to your home. For example, you may be able to be finance a basement project – finishing or a completing a basement space. The reason is that it will increase the amount of livable space in the home, which in turn adds significant value.

Step 2. Get quotes for the work you want to do.

Meet with contractors and service providers as soon as possible, and have them provide quotes for the work you intend to finance. This is a good time to shop around, because the cost of the improvement is a major factor in the mortgage approval. Because of that, you should communicate with your real estate agent and ask them for referrals. In these cases, you should choose a contractor who’s trusted and comes with many referrals.

Once you have the quotes, decide whether or not they will add value to the home and how much. Then, decide if you want to finance those improvements as part of the mortgage. You have other options when it comes to financing, it’s just that sometimes, it makes sense to include the improvements in the mortgage (especially if the interest rate is lower than other financing methods).

Step 3. Complete the mortgage approval process.

You submit the quotes for the improvements along with the rest of the loan application. The request for the additional money has to be made at that time; otherwise, you’ll have to submit a new application.

Important: Make sure that your offer has a financing contingency. This will protect you if your mortgage application is denied due to the improvement quotes. If you don’t have a financing contingency, you will be legally committed to buying the house, with or without any additional money for improvements.

A financing contingency simply states that your offer to buy the house is contingent upon financing, and if you are not able to secure financing you will be able to walk away from the sale.

It can typically take up to 5 days to complete the financing approval, but be prepared for it to take longer when renovation estimates are part of it.

Step 4. Complete the improvements and have the home appraised.

Banks will not pay for the entire cost of the improvement upfront. Instead, you’ll give your contractor or tradesman a down payment. Then, the work will begin.

Once the work is complete, the bank will send someone to appraise the house and inspect the finished work. Then, if everything goes as planned, the bank will pay the balance due on the improvements.

Though simplified, those are the four steps to add home improvements to your mortgage. Keep in close communication with your lender and agent, because every situation is different.

Additional Tips:

  • Complete a pre-approval with a mortgage lender. Jennifer Lloyd, a local mortgage specialist and friend of mine, recommends getting a pre-approval before putting in your offer. This way, you’ll be better prepared and will be able to ask your lender important questions about the renovation financing process.
  • Find out about home improvement rebates. Last month, I wrote a post on the new Alberta Home Improvement Rebates program. Make sure you look into that, as the cost of making improvements to your new home may be much less than you think, depending on what you’re trying to do.
  • Utilize your real estate agent. Your agent has a wealth of knowledge about the market. Be open about what it is you really want, whether it’s a certain location, a finished basement, a fenced in yard, etc. Together, you can look at a number of different ways to get into the house of your dreams, maximize value, and minimize cost.

If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome! My name is Jennifer McIntosh and I am a real estate agent here in Calgary. If you’re considering buying a new home, I’d love to meet with you. You can contact me at (403) 998-5535 or send me a message.

5 Essential Steps to Buying A House

You’ve saved your money, and you’ve figured out where you want to live. And now, you know you’re finally ready to buy your first home. Buying a house is a big step, but there are a lot of great resources to help you every step of the way.

buying a house

While there are a lot of little details in between, there are really just 5 key steps in the home buying process. Whether it’s your first home, or you’re an experienced buyer, these steps are always the same.

In addition to this step-by-step guide, I’ve also included a list of resources at the end of this list. If you have any questions, contact me. I’m a Calgary real estate agent, and I specialize in helping first time home buyers find and buy their dream homes. I would be happy to help you.

Step 1. Find out how much mortgage you can afford.

I recently published a blog post on how to figure out how much mortgage you can actually afford. Usually, the first thing people do when they set out to buy a house is find out how much house they can buy. Otherwise, you might get wrapped up in the idea of owning a home you won’t be able to purchase. Or, you could end up with a house you really can’t afford after all.

The main things to consider is how much you really want to borrow. It’s also important to consider the maximum amount a lender will lend to you. If it turns out that you can’t qualify for the home you want, you have options. You can save money for a bigger down payment, or, you could also adjust what you’re looking for in a house.

Step 2. Find a good real estate agent.

Find a real estate agent who will listen to you, guide you, and communicate with you every step of the way. Good real estate agents go out of their way to provide great service. An agent is there to ensure that your real estate transaction goes smoothly, and to help you make decisions when things don’t go that smoothly. Experienced real estate agents know the market well, but they are also great with people. At the end of the day, you want someone you can call about anything, anytime. Sometimes people are surprised about how many things come up during the transaction. Even if your agent doesn’t have all of the answers, they should know who to ask or where to look.

If you’re in or around Calgary, I’d love to meet with you and talk about your needs. You can contact me directly at (403) 998-5535.

Step 3. Search for the home you want.

This is the fun part. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation published a list of things that you should consider when searching for a home. They are:

  • Location/neighbourhood
  • Size
  • Type of home (duplex, row house, condo, etc.)
  • Travel distance
  • Special features
  • Lifestyle needs – now and also in the future
  • New home, Custom-built home, or resale

Ask yourself what kind of home you want. Be honest about the things that are absolute musts, versus things you can be flexible about. Take your list to your real estate agent and talk through it together. Also, keep an open mind.

If you’re buying a home together with your spouse or someone else, listen to each other and stay open and willing to negotiate. It’s tough to find a single home that checks every box off of everyone’s lists. Keep in mind that once you buy a home, it is yours. Some things that are not there now can be added later. The same is true for things you don’t like (carpet, for example) that can be removed once you buy the house.  

Step 4. Make an offer and secure a mortgage loan.

Once you’ve found the home you want, you’ll work with your real estate agent and make an offer. Making an offer involves filling out a purchase agreement that includes the amount you’re willing to pay for the house, along with any other stipulations. This is the part of the process where you’re really going to want a good agent.

When you make an offer, the seller will review the offer and decide whether or not to accept it. Sometimes, the seller will counter offer, which just means they will change some terms and send it back. You can counter back, or accept the counter.

This process can go back and forth until both parties agree. Or, the buyer can decide not to accept a counter from the seller, or vice versa. If there’s no agreement, the buyer can walk away and the seller can find another offer.

If there’s an agreement, the house is then under contract at that point. You’ve committed to buying the home. At this point in time, you tell your mortgage company (or find one) and complete the mortgage loan application and fulfillment process.

During this part of the process, you’ll communicate often with your mortgage company and also with your agent.

Step 5. Close on the home and move in.

The last step of the process is the home closing. At the closing, you’ll pay any funds that are due at close. You’ll sign many documents, so be ready for that! Buying a house involves several documents and acknowledgements. Most people feel excited and relieved on closing day. All of the nervousness is gone, and you’ll finally get the keys!

Conclusion

These are the five key steps to buying a house. As you can see, it’s not incredibly complicated. Rather, it’s just involved, because there are many details in each of the steps. My job as a real estate agent is to make sure you’re aware of everything that’s going on, so that you don’t feel like you’re in the dark. I spend time making sure every detail is taken care of so that you can focus on your family and on getting ready to move into the home you eventually buy.

Contact me if you’re looking for a real estate agent in Calgary. You can also find me on Facebook, or take a look at the current featured properties on my website. If you have any questions on buying a house, leave me a comment below!

How Much Mortgage Can I Really Afford?

The first question people have after making a decision to start looking for a house is usually, “How much can I/we afford to borrow?” It’s a good question, and there is a lot that goes into it. You’ll need to work with a lender to determine how much you can technically afford. But then you’ll also need to think about how much mortgage you can realistically afford given how comfortable of a lifestyle you want to have.

how much mortgage

You start by determining how much you can repay every month based on your debt, income, and expenses. Then, you’ll want to look at some other factors so that you don’t end up in a situation that’s uncomfortable financially. Once you have that information, you’ll be able to clearly see how much mortgage you can afford. When you know your price range, the home buying process will be much easier and more enjoyable overall!

How much can you repay?

What lenders look at

Lenders will consider a number of different factors to determine how much mortgage you can afford. What they want to know is, “Can you afford to repay the loan?”

That means a lender is going to look at your credit history, your income, and potentially your future income as well. Lenders will also look at the cost of your home, its value, and its forecasted value. Finally, and probably most importantly, lenders are going to look at how much you already owe to other creditors, including credit card companies.

Lenders will use all of this information to calculate a debt-to-income ratio. By definition, debt-to-income is “a measure of how much of what you earn goes to pay debts each month.” (Read morea about it at Whichmortgage.ca).

In doing this, lenders will come up with two figures: a Gross Debt Service ratio and a Total Debt Service ratio. The Gross Debt Service ratio includes only the direct costs of homeownership, which include things like potential mortgage payment, property taxes, heating costs, fees, etc. The Total Debt Service ratio adds in any existing debt you owe.

The simplest way to think about this is “how big is your debt compared to your income?” If your debt is more than your income, you probably won’t have much ability to repay it all.

What you should be looking at

You should also be looking at and considering some things before you take out what will probably be the biggest loan of your life. When considering how much mortgage you can afford, ask yourself if you will feel comfortable with the proposed monthly payment. Maybe you can technically afford it. But paying it every month might be difficult because you’ll have to work more hours or won’t be able to take vacation very often. Or you won’t be able to travel as much as you’ve done in the past.

Hidden costs of homeownership

If you’re used to renting, living with your parents, or living with a roommate, you might be surprised at how much it actually costs to own a home!

Here’s just a short list of the things you’ll be required to pay for. Remember, when you own a home, you are responsible for every part of it, from the foundation to the roof. Even when you have an association that takes care of certain issues, the fee you pay is still what covers the cost.

  • Heating, cooling, and plumbing costs
  • Property taxes
  • Condo or association fees
  • Appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc.)
  • Maintenance of appliances
  • Landscaping and lawncare
  • The driveway or garage
  • Upgrades
  • Installation

Pros and Cons of Using Mortgage Affordability Calculators

You can use a mortgage affordability calculator to help you determine how much mortgage you can really afford. Like most free tools out there, there are pros and cons to using them. Overall, they are great to use if you need a quick picture of whether or not home ownership fits in your budget or not.

Here are the pros:

  • You can play with the numbers to get a range of how much mortgage you can afford.
  • Using a calculator, you can quickly compare different home values against each other.
  • You can get a realistic picture of your total expenses.
  • Some calculators will provide realistic interest rates so you don’t have to hunt for them.

On the flip side, there are just a few downsides to mortgage affordability calculators. For example:

  • The results of a mortgage calculator can be deceiving, especially if you make a mistake while entering information and you don’t realize it.
  • You may overestimate your financial needs, and then be discouraged and think you can’t afford a mortgage.
  • Or worse, you may overestimate your ability to repay by not being realistic about your existing and future expenses.

At the end of this article there is a list of five different mortgage affordability calculators you can use. Play around with a few – it never hurts to use more than one.

3 Tips on Taking Out a Mortgage Loan

  • Factor in the hidden costs. Remember to think through the fact that homeownership is going to change your finances dramatically. There are property taxes to pay, and you may have condo fees if you buy a condo. Also, unless you buy a brand new house where everything is under warranty, you have to assume that you’ll have maintenance costs. And even when you buy a brand new house, everything in it is still yours. If it breaks, you have to fix it. You’ll have to be ready for anything and everything that might come up.
  • Keep in mind your need to live comfortably. Don’t take on a huge mortgage loan at the cost of everything else. You still want to have some money left over to live. Don’t forget that you have to eat, buy clothes, shop for the holidays, and take the occasional trip. If you have school tuition or expenses to pay, consider those costs, too.
  • When in doubt, keep saving for a better down payment. If you realize that you can’t afford the type of house you really want because the mortgage is too high, then save more of a down payment. (Tip: See my article on Creative Ways to Save for a Down Payment). The more you put down, the smaller your monthly mortgage payment will be.

Mortgage Affordability Calculators

Here’s a list of mortgage affordability calculators you can use to determine how much mortgage you can afford. If you have questions, let me know and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.

Conclusion

Home buying is a long process with a lot of steps, and many of the steps have to do with securing your financing. Hopefully this article gives you some good places to start. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your homeownership expenses are going to go beyond the mortgage payment, so make sure you are ready financially.

Ask Jen: Are you a first time home buyer with questions about the process? I’d love to answer it for you. Send me your question and I’ll feature it on my blog. Also, if this article was helpful to you, subscribe to the blog so that you get notified of new posts when they are published.

Newsletter

Testimonials

An Ambitious and very hard working lady! Refreshing to be around her with her hilarious and down to earth personality! Wouldn’t trust any other person when it comes to looking for or selling my home.

Palvisha Khah

Most personable, down to earth and caring agent I’ve met!  Truly one of a kind – always has customers best interest at heart.

Emily Prue’homme

What a breath of fresh air to deal with. Jennifer is the perfect mixture of friendly and professional.  She’s my go-to for selling my home, and recommending to friends and family.  Love her!  You won’t be disappointed.

Kerri Seguin

Jennifer – what can I say!! Amazing to deal with, very knowledgeable, professional and friendly! Building our home with her taking care of us was great!  I would recommend her to all my family and friends to work with

Teresa Heatley – Rudoski

Jennifer keeps her clients interests at the forefront of her listings. She understands how stressful a move can be, and does her best to ensure her customers’ listings stand out from the crowd.

Ellen Harris Mann

Jennifer – my deal closed and the owner took possession (as you know) on Friday. THANK YOU!  For all you did in taking this crazy journey with me in selling my place. We met you in the purchase of our new home, and selected you as our agent to sell our old home.  You have been professional, honest, caring and a wonderful to help navigate the difficult 2016 real estate landscape. You have exceeded my expectations in a real estate agent. Thank you so much.

Adam