Purchasing a Condominium

Purchasing a Condo

Purchasing a Condominium

So you have decided to purchase a condo. Whether you are upgrading from a rented apartment or downsizing from a house there are w few things to consider before you sign the papers.

1) Do your research
Find out if there have been any special assesments in the last few years. If there is something that needs to be fixed or upgraded in the building that affects all the residents then the Condo board will issue a special assessment. This means the cost of repairs will be split between all the residents, and can be very costly. To find out if there have been any recent cash calls review the minutes from the meetings.  You’re real estate professional should be offering you guidance and recommending having a professional document review service going over your documents with you.
2) Inspect the entire facility
Don’t just look at the unit you are interested in. Check out the outside of the building and the common areas. Check for any damage (cracks, water damage, rust, mold etc) that could be indicators of larger problems. If these areas are neglected either the board doesn’t have the funds to fix them or they don’t care to. Either way, be wary.  Some home inspectors will now only inspect the physical unit and not the common areas.  Your real estate professional should be providing you contact information for inspectors that will inspect all of the areas.  Many of the common area infrastructure expenses can be estimated from reading the reserve fund study of the condominium corporation.
3) Be clear on all policies
Do you have pets? Or children? You want to make sure they are welcome in the building.  Many condos have restrictions. Some only allow residents who are over 18, and sometimes pets are banned or there is a maximum weight for your pet or a maximum number of pets you can have. You should also be clear about any other restrictions. You can review the rules in the condominium corporation bylaws.
4) Talk to your real estate professional.
Your real estate agent will be able to help you with any general condo questions, and will likely be able to answer questions specific to the building.
Preparing your home for sale.

A Quick Guide to Prepping Your Home for Sale 

Preparing your home for sale.

So you have decided to sell your home and you are prepping for your home to go on the market. Here are some handy tips to help entice potential buyers.

1) Half empty closets 
The point of an open house is to show off your home’s assets and convince potential buyers to become definite buyers. To show your home in its best light avoid any clutter, especially in places people expect it like storage rooms and closets. By keeping these areas tidy (an ideally almost empty) you make the space seem bigger and more enticing.
2) Hide your pets 
Not everyone loves animals. To avoid putting off potential buyers ( and reduce clutter) put away any pet related items, especially things like pet food and litter boxes, which smell. Arrange for a pet sitter or animal play date for the day, hide Fluffy’s litter box and Fido’s ratty tennis ball and be sure to vacuum up any pet hair!
3) Don’t overdue the upgrades 
Remember, you are planning on leaving and you don’t really know what the next family to live in this home is like yet. So while you may want the marble countertops they may not. Doing some touch ups is fine, but don’t pour money in unnecessarily. You may not get a good return on the investment, and the new home owners may redo your renos anyways.  A general rule of thumb is you will receive most of your investment back on Kitchens and bathrooms.  While the other upgrades may not result in a positive net return on your investment, they will enhance the saleability of your property.
4) Make it neutral
When potential buyers go to an open house they are picturing what it would be like if they lived there instead of you. To help them get into this mind set make your house as neutral as possible. Hide any family photos, take down the mechanical singing fish from the wall and (as mentioned before) hide any evidence of pets. This also helps reduce clutter and make them space feel more spacious.
5) Don’t forget the kitchen!
People spend a lot of time in their kitchens, so make sure yours is up to snuff!  Dated or unattractive kitchen can drastically reduce the price point of your home. Invest in a coat of fresh paint and make sure your cupboards, light fixtures and counter tops don’t look dated.
6) Always be ready for a surprise showing
You never know when a potential buyer may ask to see your home. To avoid a last minute panic keep your home in “open house standby mode”. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, dirty laundry on the floor or let the bathrooms and kitchen get dirty. Do a quick clean each day in the off chance your realtor calls and asks to show your home on short notice.
Make up Tips

Quick and Easy Makeup Tips to Help You Get the Perfect Look

Make up TipsMakeup. Whether it is an every day staple or something you only wear for special occasions it can be tricky to get it done perfectly. Here are a few helpful tips to help you get the look you want.

-Need a pop of colour? Add some colour while keeping it subtle by using a dark but colourful eye liner like dark green, dark blue, or dark purple. Pair with neutral eye shadows like cream, beige and soft browns for a subtle daytime look and blend the eye shadow over top of the eye liner.
– The key to makeup is balance. Highlight your eyes or your lips, not both. If you want to look dramatic but not clownish go for either a bold red or berry coloured lipstick with subtle, light eye shadow or a dramatic dark shadow with pale or neutral lips.
– If your makeup looks too harsh overall try softening your eye liner by blending with a blending stick. This makes the look less harsh while helping your eye lashes look really thick by filling in the gaps at the base of the hairs.
– To keep you lipstick from wearing off cover your lips with a tissue after you blot and then brush powder over them through the tissue.
– Lips looking too thin? To make your lips look fuller dab a little bit of lip gloss in the centre of your lower lip and keep the rest of your lipstick matte.
– Eye shadow not as bright or subtle as you would like? Try using white or cream eye shadow with it. Put the white shadow on under the coloured one to make your colours brighter, or put a thin coat of white or cream over the colour to soften it.
– For a really dramatic colour, use a thick eyeliner pencil instead of eye shadow. Simply apply like you would a normal eye liner and then blend. This technique is particularly useful for metallics.
– Nail breaking or splitting? You can reduce the damage and keep your nail intact using a tea bag! First, remove any polish on the nail. Next, cut open your tea bag and dump put the tea leaves, saving the mesh bag. Cut a small piece of the bag and affix it your entire nail using clear nail polish. You may want to follow this with a coat of coloured polish to hide the tea bag.
Canadian Money

Ways to save on your bills

Canadian Money

Saving Money

No one likes paying bills, especially in these tough economic times. However, there are a variety of ways you can help reduce the size of your monthly bills and spend your money smarter.

1) Reduce water consumption

This can be done in a variety of ways. Small changes to your water consumption rituals can make a huge difference. You can take shorter showers. You can also turn off the water when you are not using it, both while brushing your teeth and doing the dishes. Scrape your plates well, and only run your dishwasher when it is full. You may also consider investing in a rain barrel, which will cut down on your plant watering costs.

2) Reduce your electricity consumption.

Do you always turn off the lights when you leave the room? Lighting and unoccupied room wastes electricity and takes its toll on the lifespan of your light bulbs. You can also consider switching to energy efficient bulbs, and try taking advantage of natural light sources during the day.

Another huge energy user is the air conditioner. Instead of running it, try spending more time in the basement, which will stay cool all on its own.

3) Streamline services

How often do you watch cable? If you hardly use it, why keep it? Services like Netflix can fulfill your tv and movie cravings, and let you cut down your bills by getting rid of cable. Another place you may be paying for something you never use is your landline. Most people have cellphones, and hardly use the Josie phone anymore. Cutting the cord on your home phone can save you money.

4) Borrow, don’t buy

Did you know the Calgary Public Library doesn’t charge membership fees? They also offer a wide variety of books, films and e books for borrowing. If you are the type of person who only reads a book once, then why pay to buy it when you can borrow it for free?

5) Cook smarter

Instead of going out for dinner, or lunch with your office buddies, cook a big batch of food for dinner. Cooking at home is significantly cheaper than eating out, and big batches can do double duties as lunch the next day.

Exhibit from Royal Tyrell Museum

Attractions in Southern Alberta

Summer is the perfect time of year for a weekend or day trip. Southern Alberta boats tons of fun and interesting attractions for the whole family. Here is a short list to help you plan your perfect summer daytrip.

Exhibit from Royal Tyrell Museum

Royal Tyrell Museum

1)The Royal Tyrrell Museum

Southern Alberta is known for its huge deposit of dinosaur fossils. Come marvel at these gigantic and majestic creatures at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. It will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to drive from Calgary to Drumheller, so you will want to get an early start. The museum is open from 9am to 9pm seven days a week. For more information, please visit http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com/

2) Vulcan

Named after the planet and species from Star Trek, this town is a science fiction lovers dream! This charming little town has really embraced its name sake. Come see the Tourism and Trek station, a one of a kind visitor Center that looks like a landed spaceship! For more information, please visit http://www.vulcantourism.com/

3) Banff national park

Located about 1.5 hours from Calgary, Banff national park is a natural wonder! Full of majestic mountains, beautiful flora and fauna and a picturesque mountain town, Banff truly embodies the best of Alberta’s natural beauty. For more information (and national park admission rates) please visit http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx. Want to hit the slopes? Check out the mountain resort of Lake Louise! More information at http://m.banfflakelouise.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.banfflakelouise.com%2F&utm_referrer=#2586

4) Hiking, biking and camping

For those who love the rugged outdoors, southern Alberta boats lots of biking and hiking trials as well as campsites. There are trails for every ability level, from novice to expert. To find the right trail for your group, please visit https://alltrails.com/canada/alberta as well as http://reserve.albertaparks.ca

Calgary Stampede Parade

The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth! – Calgary Stampede

The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!

Calgary Stampede Parade

Calgary Stampede Parade – Anna Webber.

Have you noticed a lot of hay bales around lately? Seen a lot of Western wear for sale? That is because it is almost time for the Calgary Stampede! This annual show is, for many tourists and locals alike, the event of the summer. This year, the week long event runs from July 3rd to July 12th. Touted as “the greatest outdoor show on earth”, this weeklong extravaganza has something for almost everyone. From the rodeo to the fairground, from family friendly fun to a night out with friends, you are sure to never be bored. Here is a quick guide to help you plan your stampede week.
1) Stampede breakfast
Pancake breakfasts are a long time Stampede tradition. Many companies host free pancake breakfasts for the public, usually consisting of pancakes, bacon or sausage, and juice or coffee. To find a lank age breakfast near you, please visit http://www.freestampedepancakes.com
2) The “duds”
Many people opt for traditional cowboy and cowgirl outfits, usually consisting of jeans, a plaid shirt, a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. That being said, be sensible. Cowboy boots are not comfortable walking shoes, and jeans can get very hot if you are outdoors. If you are visiting the fair ground, opt for comfortable summery clothing such as shorts and T-shirts. A sun hat and sunscreen are both must have items. Nothing ruins the day like sunstroke and a sunburn. If you plan to be out after dark, bring a sweater and long pants to keep warm and keep Mosquitos at bay. On a related note, drink lots of water throughout the day, and make sure to spend at least some time in the shade.
3) Getting there
Parking is at a premium at the stampede grounds, and the cost can be prohibitive for some. If you are looking for a more budget family ride, try taking the C train. The C train has two stampede stops, one at each end of the grounds. Victoria Park – Stampede station stops by the midway rides, and Earlton – Stampede stops by the Agricultural exhibits. Tickets can be purchased at the grounds, or in advance from select retailers. For more information, please visit http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede
4) The Rodeo
The rodeo is what really sets Stampede apart from other summer carnivals. The rodeo hosts eight different events, from ladies barrel racing to bull riding. For more details, and ticket prices, visit http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/rodeo
5) The Faire
Especially for younger Stampede-goers, the midway rides are the main attraction. From terrifying roller coasters to kid friendly airplane rides, the midway has all your bases covered. There is even a special children’s ride section that hosts a variety of rides that are sure to delight, not terrify, the little ones.
6) The Food
Faire food is a cuisine all to itself, and the Stampede is no exception. The midway boasts all the classic foods like corn dogs and hamburgers, but the traditional Stampede lunch is beef on a bun. Slathered in rich barbecue sauce and served on a soft bun, this tasty treat is sure to delight. And for desert? Try some fresh, piping hot mini donuts made right before your eyes! These delightful snacks are covered in cinnamon and brown sugar and are sure to delight. Feeling adventurous? The midway now offers more exotic foods such as sour cream, onion and cricket pizza or a “beef sundae” consisting of beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and cheddar cheese served in a plastic parfait cup.
7) The Nightlife
Though the Faire grounds may close, the celebration is just beginning! Check out the nightly Grandstand Show (starting at 7:45 pm), a family friendly event featuring singing, dancing and fireworks! Up for something a little more wild? The party unofficially continues on 17th avenue, the Restauraunt district close to the Stampede Grounds. Many bars are open late all week long.

What to wear – dressing for Calgary’s weather year round. 

CalgaryWinter

This weather isn’t far away. 🙁

 

Welcome to Calgary! One of the oldest jokes here is that if you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes for it to change. As such, you really will need clothes for all types of weather. Here is a handy guide to help you dress appropriately.

1) Layers

Since the temperature can vary quite significantly throughout the day, it helps to prepare for all types of weather. Spring and fall usually hair require a light coat, but that can change. It’s always best to dress in layers: shirt, sweater, jacket. That way you can change as often as the weather does.

2) Rain

It doesn’t rain very often in Calgary, with the “rainy season” lasting from the end of April to the beginning of June. During this time it is advisable to buy rain boots, carry an umbrella, or bring a hooded rain jacket. Calgary often experiences “sun showers”, short bursts of rain while the sun is still shining. They don’t last long, and don’t tend to cover large geographic areas, but it never hurts to be prepared.

3) Snow

The dreaded “S word” that all Calgarians hate! Snow usually occurs between late September, through till May or sometimes even June. During this time of year it is best to invest in a good winter coat, a solid pair of winter boots with nice grippy bottoms (for the ice), warm mittens and a good toque (a winter hat, traditionally knit from wool). If you are planning long drives it is good to make sure all passengers have these items, and that you pack a warm blanket in the trunk in case you have car troubles. Calgary is also subject to the occasional freak snowstorm in the summer, but the temperature doesn’t tend to go too far below zero and the snow tends to melt quickly. A warm sweater and  raincoat or umbrella should suffice for most brief summer snow storms.

4) Sunshine

It can get quite hot in Calgary, with summer temperatures averaging around 22 degrees Celsius and sometimes climbing over 30 degrees. That may not seem very warm to some people, but it is warm enough to cause dehydration and heat stroke. Drink plenty of water in the summer, and avoid staying in the sun all day. Sunburn is not only unpleasant, but can lead to skin cancer.

5) Stampede

While not weather related, Stampede does come with its own dress code. Most Calgarians warmly embrace The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth, and dress accordingly. Jeans, cowboy hats and cowboy boots become the norm, from sales associates to CEOs. Cowboy hats and boots can be very expensive, especially right before Stampede. If you want to get in the spirit without breaking your budget, a pair of jeans or jean shorts paired with a plaid collared shirt will let you fit right in. If you aren’t use to cowboy boots they can be uncomfortable, so it is advisable to wear solid waking shoes to the fair grounds rather than cowboy boots.

Calgary: A Quick Reference Guide

timmysstampede

Welcome to Calgary! To help you get settled in, here is a quick reference guide to the city. From local sports teams to city wide celebrations, here is everything you need to know.

1) Local Hockey Teams

Hockey is huge in Canada, and Calgary is no exception! The local team for the NHL (National Hockey League) is the Calgary Flames. During playoff season you will hear locals talk of the “Red Mile”. This is a giant,  unofficially organized party that occurs on 17th avenue, typically after home games at the Saddledome, which is located nearby. This party can be VERY rowdy, and is not for the faint of heart!
 
The other local hockey team, in the Western Hockey League, is the Calgary Hitman. 
 

2) Stampede – The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth! 

 
The Calgary Stampede is a week long carnival and rodeo that runs every year at the beginning of July.  Many downtown businesses shut down for the week, as the mass of Stampede goers can make commuting difficult, especially on Parade Day.  Nearly everyone in the city gets into the “stampede mood”, so don’t be shy! Grab your friends, family and cowboy hat and join in the fun! 
 

3) Tim Horton’s – A National Treasure.

If you are moving from another part of Canada you will already be familiar with Canada’s love affair with Tim Horton’s. For those of you coming from farther abroad, let me explain. Tim Horton was a famous hockey player, who opened his first coffee and donut shop in 1964 in Hamilton Ontario. To many Canadians, Tim Hortons is more than just a coffee shop. It occupies a unique place in the Canadian psyche, and is seen as being quintessentially Canadian.   When Robb is travelling abroad, he always packs a sleeve of Tim Hortons coffee cups, just so he can spot his fellow Canadians.
 

4) Commuting 

Depending on where you work and where you live, you will likely have to commute. If you work downtown, your best bet is to use Calgary Transit, which covers both city buses and the LRT (Light Rail Transit) called the C Train. Parking downtown is both scarce and expensive. If you don’t work downtown, you may want to drive as transit becomes more spread out and less efficient the farther you are from the core (downtown). If you do end up driving, expect rush hour to last from about 7 am to 9 am, and from about 3:30pm to 6:00pm. During these times, it is best to avoid the Deerfoot. The Deerfoot, as Deerfoot Trail is called, is the major North-South road in Calgary. Normally traffic moves quickly on it, but during rush hour it often slows to a crawl.   Calgary is in the process of completing the final southwest leg of Stoney Trail, which is a ring road that encompasses the city.

A Quick Reference Guide to Viewing a Property

homeshowing

Here are some quick tips for when you are viewing a Property for Sale.  Your Real Estate Professional will also be helping you identify these amenities and possible red flags.

1) Look for signs of water damage, water, mould and/ or  signs of bugs or mice. This could manifest as buckled floors, water stains, and spongy walls. Open all the cupboard, and look for mice or insect droppings. Also be wary of any off putting odours, including over use of odour covering sprays or scented candles. The overuse of these products may be to hide something foul.
2) What is the neighbourhood like? Remember, you aren’t just buying a house, your are buying into a neighbourhood. If you have school age children you should look and see how close the nearest school is, and check out the community Center for children’s activities. How far will you, and your spouse, have to commute? How far is the nearest grocery store?  Check with the school board if your children are able to attend the schools.  Being near a school doesn’t necessarily mean your kids can attend.
3) What are the neighbours like? Are other houses on the street tidy and well maintained? What sort of demographic is the neighbourhood? A family with small children is more likely to want a quiet neighbourhood with other young families, where as a young couple may want something more urban, with better night life.
4) Is the property private? You don’t want to buy a house, only to realize your neighbours window looks right into your bathroom!
5) Check the layout, and make sure it is right for your family. A family with small kids is more likely to want all bedrooms on same floor. However, if you have teenagers, or are planning on using a bedroom as a home office, you will likely want those rooms on a different floor.
6) Check out the exterior too! Real estate photos don’t often show the entire property, so you want to take a walk around the houses exterior. Check for any signs of trouble, such as cracks in the foundation, water damage or sunken sections of ground.
7) Is the house light and airy? You want a house with nice “flow”, an open feeling layout which doesn’t feel cramped. Natural light is also a huge bonus! Not only will you feel better, but you will save on electricity by not needing to turn on so many lights.
8) Closets and storage are very important! Most people have at least a few items that need to be stored (holiday decorations, winter coats, etc.) Make sure the house matches your storage needs, and that the closets are large enough. This is especially true for children’s rooms, as closets often do double duty as toy chests.
9) Always Check around in the utility room.  Marijuana Grow Operations are common in Calgary and many have not ever been identified.  Check around the main power panel for signs of power lines being tampered with.  Check the water main feed before the meter to see if any changes have been done.  Look at the exhaust vents on the furnace and hot water tank to see if they have been altered with.  These things may not indicate a former grow operation, but will let you know if the home requires further inspection.

Unique (and Cheap) Date Ideas

Telus Spark at Night

– Grab your sweetheart and share an artisanal cone at Village Ice Cream (http://villageicecream.com/). Flavours include traditional favourites like chocolate and strawberry to unique, such as earl grey tea or cardamom. Expect a wait though, Village Ice Cream is always busy! Take your cone and stroll through Kensington for the full “Village” experience.
– Walk through Chinatown and visit the Chinese Cultural Center (http://www.culturalcentre.ca/). Explore the history of some of Calgary’s founders and see the unique mark they left on our city.  Stop for a snack at one of Chinatown’s mouthwatering bakeries (http://www.urbanspoon.com/nf/15/1408/100005/Calgary/Chinatown/Bakeries) and shop for unique items in the Dragon City Mall (http://chinatowncalgary.com/dragoncitymall/Map.html)
– Let your inner child run wild at Telus Spark! The second Thursday if ever month is Adults Only night at Telus Spark. Features lectures, as well as all regular exhibits. (http://m.sparkscience.ca/home/special-events/adults-only-nights/).
– catch a unique flick at the Globe Cinema (http://globecinema.ca/). Adult tickets are typically $10, but all tickets are $5 on Tuesdays.
– Pack a picnic and go for a walk in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Prince’s Island or Edworthy Park. These beautiful natural spaces allow you to get away from the bustle of the city and truly relax. And remember, if you want to feed the ducks or geese opt for birdseed over bread!
– Dinner at a fancy restaurant out of your price range? Why not just grab an appetizer or dessert! Some excellent restaurants include Corbeaux Bakehouse (http://www.corbeaux.com/#about) with its heavenly mousse, or Una’s Pizza and Wine (http://www.unapizzeria.com/) with its mouthwatering Stuffed Persian Dates.
– Take in an outdoor tournament at Spruce Meadows. Children under 12 and Seniors over 65 are free, all other ages are $5.
– Go on a date and grab some groceries for dinner at the Calgary Farmer’s Market. (http://www.calgaryfarmersmarket.ca/). Stumped for dinner ideas? Check out the “What’s In Season” section of the website for fun and free recipes.