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Investment Properties

October 26th, 2016 by Ken Richter

Real estate is a great investment. Like most investments, there is always some risk. However, time and time again real estate has proven itself to be a fairly safe investment that allows investors to see a big return. There are three main ways people invest in real estate, each with their own unique ups and downs. Read through these carefully and consider which option may be best for you.

Vacation Property: Many people are investing in properties to use as vacation homes. The two most popular areas Calgarians are investing in right now are Arizona and Radium. This is a great option if you want to get use out of your investment personally. Buy during a buyer’s market, enjoy the property, then sell when it is a seller’s market. Timing can be tricky, though, and if you want a property in the US there will be different taxes and laws to work around.

Rental Property: Another way to invest in a property is to buy a home and then rent it out. The best way to do this is to find a home that has a legal upper and lower suite already. If you can’t pay for the entire investment property upfront, this is a great way to essentially have other people pay it off for you. Once you have made a profit, sell the home and make an even bigger profit. Be wary of who you rent your property to, though. Sometimes renters can do more damage than good—and it will cost you.

Flipping Property: A popular trend for property investors is to purchase a property, fix it up, then sell it for more money than it was purchased for. This is a fun opportunity to turn something outdated into a renovated oasis. Infill homes are especially popular for this mode of investment because the locations are so great. This type of real estate investment requires a lot of capitol but the rewards can be huge. Be cautious that the space won’t take more work than it is worth, though.

Not sure which option is right for you? Contact us. We can sit down with you and discuss your goals as an investor. We would love to partner with you and help you find the perfect property.

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter

Reviewing Your Mortgage

October 21st, 2016 by Ken Richter

A mortgage is a huge deal. It is something that people spend a massive part of their life dealing with. For many, their mortgage feels like a series of unending payments that never seem to stop. It can feel like they are no closer to paying off their mortgage than they were in that first month. Other people simply pay the bills without another thought, not wanting it to add stress to their lives. It is a burden to live with, not obsess over.

The reality is there needs to be a healthy balance of not worrying about your mortgage while also keeping a sharp eye on it. The mortgage you signed on with does not need to be the mortgage you keep for the next twenty plus years. This is why reviewing your mortgage regularly is important. Most professionals recommend reviewing your mortgage as follows: every year to keep tabs on it, when interest rates drop and when your initial contract ends. This is sound advice that we recommend you follow.

Reviewing your mortgage once a year does a number of things. First, it allows you to see where you are at in your payments: how much is paid off, how much is left to paid off, how long you have left, etc.. Second, it gives you peace of mind. By looking at where you stand it will help you remember that you have made significant strides. If for nothing but inspiration alone, please review your mortgage every year.

Reviewing your mortgage when interest rates drop is another important tip. Like everything, interest rates fluctuate based on economic conditions. Following these fluctuations closely can help you see trends and spot low points that you can take advantage of. If you can secure a lower interest rate on your mortgage, you can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the long run. Just remember to weigh the benefits with the costs: sometimes lower interest rates come with the hitch that it will take longer to pay off your loan. If you want it over with faster, it may not be worth it for you.

Reviewing your mortgage when your initial contract ends is an absolute must. You will be forced to evaluate your mortgage and decide how to proceed and who to proceed with. Make sure that as you reach the end of your contract you begin doing research into plans and rates. As we mentioned, weigh the benefits with the potential costs. Consider using a third party mortgage reviewer to help you compare plans.

Remember: review your mortgage! It gives you peace of mind and may help you secure a much better deal. Best of luck!

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter

Home Staging: Furniture

October 19th, 2016 by Ken Richter

livingroomtrafficNothing quite fills up our homes faster than furniture. A couch here, dresser there, bookshelf in the corner, coffee table by the TV… it all adds up very quickly. This is an especially large issue for those with smaller homes and tight spaces to work around. The reality is some things, like a bed and a couch, are essentials in any home. However, they also eat up precious space and can make rooms seem small and cluttered.

This becomes an important issue when you try to sell your home. You end up with two options: leaving everything out or storing everything. Leaving everything out is the simplest, but it means potential buyers will be climbing over furniture to see your place. Storing stuff may seem like an easy solution, but the effort of moving everything is intense and the cost of storing furniture can be astronomical. So, what is one to do?

We have two words for you: clever staging. The reality is furniture can be hard to work around. However, by trying some of these tips you can eliminate as many negative side effects as possible. Read on to learn more.

Use your walls. If you can have big pieces of furniture, such as couches and beds, up against a wall instead of free-floating, it will give the room much more walking space, thus making the room feel more open, large and inviting. The walls are your friend. If you are having trouble doing this, at the very least make sure you make pathways.

There should be clear pathways in every room of your house. Pathways are invisible trails that are made from the way furniture is arranged. You should have clear, direct pathways connecting the spaces of your home. People shouldn’t have to zig zag, scoot around anything or crawl across things to get through a room. These pathways can also help direct movement and focus during a showing.

This may seem obvious, but get rid of furniture that is taking up more space than it is clearing. Bookshelves and dressers are always the biggest offenders in this area. Most homes have a nook or wall that, with the edition of shelving, can be made into a book shelve. Why have something sticking out further than it needs to? Another easy hack is to put your dresser in the closet. If you don’t need to hang up much or your closet is extremely large, sliding in the dresser clears space and makes it even easier to access all your clothes since they are all tucked away.

Finally, tuck in everything you can. Make sure the chairs at the table are all tucked in, that coffee tables are flush against the couch, that bedside tables are right against the bed, that desks are against the wall, that closet doors are closed, etc.. Keeping everything compact is your best defence against a lot of furniture in a small space.

What are some of your tips for hiding furniture or keeping it out of the way during home showings? Let us know in the comments below!

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter

Winterizing Your Home

October 15th, 2016 by Ken Richter

46900-frozen-leafEvery fall we write about winterizing your home. This is because properly winterizing your home is extremely important. Your property is precious and valuable, do not risk it being damaged. Think of it like a child you need to bundle up in the wintertime. This winter is predicted to be especially cold and snowy, so if there were ever a time to winterize, it’s now.

First things first, make sure the structure of your home is in top condition. Pay particular attention to the roof, windowsills and siding. Winter can get wet quickly with Calgary chinooks, so limiting your chances of leakage is crucial. Heavy snow can also collapse already damaged roofs, so again, take care of these right away.

Pipes can be another major problem area, especially if your drain pipes are clogged up with leaves from the fall. Make sure everything is clear and running smoothly. If you have garden hoses or other miscellaneous outdoor water pipes, turn them off and store them indoors as necessary.

Go through the contents of your backyard and shed. What items should be moved indoors to prevent damage? Carefully assess all cleaners, hardware and toys to make sure that they will not be damaged if they are frozen. This is also a great opportunity to get rid of anything that was used up during the summer.

Indoors, make sure all of the seals beneath your doors are in good condition and that your heating system is working properly. Even the smallest crack in a door can cause a draft that will cool down your home significantly. This can wreck havoc on your heating bill. Your heating bill can also be thrown off if your system is not running properly. Do a test and make sure all the vents are pumping out hot air and that the heater itself is in good condition.

Spending a day preparing your property for winter is incredibly worth it. It can save you a lot of money and stress in the long run. Good luck!

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter

First Time Buyers: Top 3 Questions

October 12th, 2016 by Ken Richter

Congratulations! You are ready to buy your first home. This is a huge step and we are so excited for you. Real estate is a great investment in your future. Think of it this way: instead of paying someone else every month and having that money disappear forever, you are now putting money towards something that will almost guarantee you money back one day. Not only this, but you can paint the walls, hang up things and make the place fully and truly yours.

Being a first time buyer on the market is incredibly exciting, but it can also be a little daunting. Our goal in today’s blog post is to answer some commonly asked questions first time buyers have in the hopes that you will learn something and gain a little peace of mind. Remember that here at Team Ken Richter we love partnering with all types of individuals, first time buyers or not. Please get in touch with us, we would love to work with you to make this process go as smoothly as possible.

Here are 3 commonly asked questions first time buyers have and information to answer them. Remember, our experience is your advantage.

Q: What do we need to do first? What is the first step to take? 

First things first, make sure this is a commitment you can follow through on. Buying a home is an exciting, huge deal. Make sure you are absolutely positive you’re buying in the city you want to be living in for the next 10+ years, that you will qualify for a mortgage, that you will be able to handle all the costs that come with moving into a new home (upfront deposit, moving costs, insurance, utilities, relocation fees, etc.) and most of all, make sure that you give yourself time. The worst possible thing you could do is rush into something without carefully making sure it will work in the long run.

Q: If a home is being represented by a real estate agent, does that mean I don’t need to have a professional do a home inspection?

No! Regardless of whether the home you are interested in is being represented by someone reputable or not, you always need to have your own home evaluation done. First of all, hire a professional who can give you the nitty-gritty details on the condition of the structure and what maintenance or renovations need to be done (if any) upon purchase. Second, have a CMA (a Comparative Market Analysis) done on the home if possible. This will tell you if the asking price is fair and what the pros and cons of the property are so you can make an informed decision.

Q: How do we make an offer on a home once we have found one we love?

First decide how much you want to bid. The property may be overvalued or undervalued. For example, if the property is overvalued and there is not a competitive market, you may be able to bid less. Use this simple equation: asking price + market conditions = bid. Next, a statement needs to be drawn up outlining your bid. Chances are the seller will want some things negotiated, so expect some back and forth. Remember to be smart and confident, but not overly aggressive or you may lose out. Next, a deposit should be made to a third party professional. The deposit size will depend on the home, but be prepared to make that payment. With the deposit, a contract should be made between you and the seller. There are a lot of little loopholes sellers can add that can hurt you, so we strongly recommend having a professional draft the contract and look through it before anything is signed. For more information, check out this great article on Money Sense.

Best of luck and as we mentioned, please contact us for more information about what services we can offer you.


October Events

October 11th, 2016 by Ken Richter

600-x-461-gtAutumn is in full swing and so are some fantastic events around the city. Here is your guide to some of the hottest events happening this October:

Wordfest | October 10th-16th || Wordfest is a fantastic event that is held annually here in YYC. It brings together writers, novice and professional, from all across the globe for a week of workshops, Q & A’s, presentations and much more. If you love to read or write, visit their website HERE and see what they have to offer.

Illuminasia Lantern & Garden Festival | October 13th-16th || In recent years the Calgary Zoo has hosted a spectacular light show on their grounds, spanning across all the different exhibits and areas of the Zoo. While many of the animals must be kept indoors due to the snow, Illuminasia brings them to life in stunning light displays. This year focuses on the seasons and the Chinese plants that represent those seasons. For more information visit their website HERE.

Heritage Park Ghost Tours | October 13th – November 9th || Do you love ghost stories? Prepare to have your skin crawl and goosebumps rise at the tales of supernatural occurrences in Heritage Park. Your tour begins with meeting your guide and picking up a coffee or hot chocolate (included in the ticket price), with tours happening every Thursday night. Get your tickets and more information HERE.

Dancing Queen: The Music of ABBA | October 14th-15th || The Calgary Philharmonic teams up with Karl Hirzer to present the music stylings of ABBA, featuring popular songs such as ‘Knowing Me,’ ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Money Money Money’. If you like amazing musicians and fun musical numbers, this is the show for you. Visit their website HERE for more information.

ScreamFest | October 14th-31st || Screamfest is back this year and gearing up to be scarier than ever. There will be three main haunted houses to explore along with carnival games and rides. Be prepared to come face to face with scary people and creatures as you experience this halloween tradition. Get ready to have a scratchy throat the day after from screaming! Get your tickets and more information HERE.

What event are you most looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments below. Be safe and have fun!

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter

September Statistics

October 5th, 2016 by Ken Richter

housing_market_growth_800_clrHello, October! The season of pumpkins and plaid is upon us. The weather is swiftly turning crispy here in YYC, but we are very happy to report that it looks as though the snow will hold off a little longer. In the meantime, we have some very important statistics to go over with you.

The word ‘statistics’ carries many negative connotations. People immediately think of the class they failed freshmen year or the report their boss is always hounding them for. However, statistics are important–especially if you are in the real estate market hoping to sell or buy a home. Staying informed is the best way to make a wise decision you will not regret come November.

Without further ado, here are the statistics from what happened in the real estate market in September, brought to you by the Calgary Real Estate Board. For more details and complimentary information, visit their website at the following link:

To kick things off, some good news. The detached housing sector has always had the heaviest influence on the overall market. In September the benchmark price for a detached home was $503,400. This may be 3.3% lower than last year, but it is the second consecutive month the benchmark price has been at this price, which means the market is growing more stable.

CREB® chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie says, “The decline in demand has caused many to anticipate steeper price declines for detached homes. That hasn’t happened in large part because detached supply levels haven’t climbed as sharply as many expected. There was a limited amount of supply in the overall market when this cycle began, and while levels did rise and remain somewhat elevated, they were well below previous highs.”

Essentially, the market crashed in the absolute best way possible. If there had already been an extremely high level of inventory when the economy took a hit, we would still be scrambling to recover. However, since levels were not that high to begin with, the market was able to handle the extra inventory.

We have mentioned the odd environment of the market not being great but prices staying unadjusted. CREB® president Cliff Stevenson address this, noting, “Consumers are really starting to come to terms with the current environment. Most sellers have adjusted their expectations at the same time that many buyers are realizing the prices are reacting very differently in different segments of the market.”

This is very good news. As people come to terms with the market, real change can begin and consumers will start to see a situation that fairly represents what is happening in the market.

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter

The Importance of Timing in Listing

October 1st, 2016 by Ken Richter

istock_000022118983smallYou have all heard the age old saying, “timing is everything.” This applies to many areas of life, including real estate. The real estate market thrives on an active market in very specific time of the year. Not only this, but knowing when is a good time to sell your home versus a bad time to sell your home can make a huge difference. If you want your property to sell quickly and for the price you desire, you need to know exactly when to put it on the market. Therefore, this article is for you.

Traditionally the spring has been considered the best time to sell a home. Many people want to move out of their old home and into their new one before the busy summer months or vacation. The spring typically has favourable weather which makes moving easier and curb side appeal easy to maintain when there is not snow to shovel. For buyers and sellers alike, this is a great season to sell you home. However, it is also the busiest, meaning a more competitive market.

This is why the autumn months (September, October and the start of November) are becoming increasingly popular times for people to sell or buy a home. The busyness of summer is over, the weather is still nice, the Christmas rush has not arrived and curb side appeal is maintainable.

Right now many people are trying to sell homes in Calgary. We are in a buyers market since so many people have lost jobs and are moving away. If you’re trying to buy right now, you’re in luck! If you’re trying to sell right now, you can do one of two things: sell now or wait.

Waiting gives the chance that the market may favour you again soon. You could sell your home faster eventually and for more money. However, Calgarians have been waiting a long time for things to go back to a sellers market and nothing has drastically changed. Therefore, you could be waiting a long time.

Selling now is also an option. You will have to make sure you do absolutely everything you can to attract buyers: have a competitive price, stage the home well, maintain curb appeal, offer incentives, etc.. It is possible to sell in the market right now. You may have to buckle down and prepare for it to take a month or two, but even with job losses in the energy sector, many people want to live in Calgary so there are still buyers out there.

If all of this sounds overly complicated or daunting to you, give us a call! We would love to partner with you and develop a strong selling strategy that will give your home the best chance to sell now.

Good luck!

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter


Autumn Bucket List

September 27th, 2016 by Ken Richter

superthumbThe winter may have Christmas, the spring may have flowers, the summer may have backyard BBQ’s, but here at Team Ken Richter we are particularly fond of Autumn. The fall is is an absolutely striking season, filled with deep golds and burgundy’s, crunchy leaves, warm scarves and pumpkins. Although we love warm summer days, fall cannot be matched.

The autumn season is fleeting. Here in Calgary it typically lasts from mid-September to mid-October. This winter is predicted to be a cold one, so if ever there were a time to hold onto the fall season and get the most you possibly can out of it, this is it. We are so lucky to get to experience all four seasons here in Calgary, no matter how short some of them may be. Soak them in. Experience them as deeply as you can.

That being said, here is our 2016 Autumn Bucket List:

1). Explore A New Community: Communities such as Bowness, Kensington and Inglewood are absolutely stunning in the fall. Filled with cute little stores and coffee shops, these communities are ideal for taking a stroll one day. Bundle up, bring a hot drink and window-shop.

2). Go to the Mountains: Canmore and Banff are in our backyard. Do a day trip to either one of these places this fall and you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the mountains in this season of changing leaves. Go for a hike, try out a new road and shamelessly take as many photos as your heart desires.

3). Bake the Day Away: Pinterest is aglow with thousands of ideas for sweet treats to make this fall. Inspired by the flavours of pumpkin, apples and cinnamon, you are sure to find a receipe you’ll love. If you don’t feel like being too adventurous, make an apple pie. Pie making is a lost art and nothing smells more like autumn then fresh apple pie.

4). Read More: Nothing says “hello, autumn” quite like a hot cup of tea, a good book, a window seat and fuzzy socks. If you’re feeling claustrophobic in your own home, go find a coffee shop you have never been to before and get a seat by the window. Now is the perfect time to finish that book you started in the summer and forgot about.

5). Host A Dinner Party: Looking for an excuse to make the DIY, fall-inspired crafts you see on Pinterest? Host a dinner party at your house. Make your own apple cider in a crock pot, have people bring their favourite fall-inspired recipe and spend some quality time with the people you love. If it is nice out, consider starting up the fire pit for one last hurrah.

What are your favourite fall activities? Let us know in the comment section below.

Your Calgary, Bowness & Montgomery Realtor® Ken Richter

Home Staging: Entryway Edition

September 23rd, 2016 by Ken Richter

foyerWhen people are staging their homes one commonly overlooked area is the entryway. It is just for shoes and coats, right? Wrong! Your entryway sets the tone for the entire interior of your home. Do not let it go neglected. Here are some home staging tips to help you get your entryway ready for your next showing:

First things first, de-clutter. Entryways are a common place for old shoes, winter jackets, gym bags, sports equipment, pet toys and more to build up. Start your staging by going through everything in the entryway and deciding whether it is essential to have there or not. Create three piles of things: keep, pack, donate.

Invest in some organization tools. Purchase new coat hangers, a shoe rack, little crates for scarves and mittens, etc. Also purchase some sort of storage for the items you don’t need. For example, now that is fall you don’t need your flip-flops and beach gear in the closet, so pack it away in a well-labeled storage bin. Remember: you can take all of this to your new home, so it will not be money wasted.

If you have a closet, great! If not, we recommend putting the shoe rack or storage out of the way for your showing. Keeping the entryway clear will open everything up and make the space seem bigger than it is.

Finally, have some fun with decorations! Keep it simple and bulk-free. A nice painting, potted plant, or fun wallpaper can be great styling choices. Remember to put away any personal photos or items. People want to be able to picture themselves in your home. They want to feel like they own it already, not like they’re intruding on your space.

Home staging is so important in successfully marketing and selling your home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional home stager to give you some pointers or do the work for you. We also recommend you look back in our archive where we have blogs about how to stage every part of your home.

Have fun with it, we wish you all the best.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Calgary Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.