call or text anytime:  403-604-0038                    grantsmith@remax.net

For many homeowners, the one of the biggest questions is "How can I pay off my mortgage as fast as possible?"


It's natural to look forward to the day when you have made your very last mortgage payment and own your home outright.

Owning your home provides you with greater financial freedom, flexibility and the ability to focus on other financial goals like retirement or saving for your child's education.


It doesn't even have to be that hard - you'll be amazed how small changes in your mortgage terms and payments can make a big difference.


Here are 5 tips to help you become mortgage-free faster.


Make your regular payments more frequent: 

Save interest and become mortgage-free sooner by choosing bi-weekly or weekly payments rather than monthly payments. The result is an extra monthly payment every year, without you even noticing it!


Increase your payment amount when you can: Whenever your household income rises (e.g. salary increase, new job, etc.), consider increasing your mortgage payment at the same time. If you've had a mortgage for a while, you're likely used to the routine of making regular payments. Now might be a good time to consider an increase to your mortgage payment.


Match-a-Payment: 

To help you pay off your mortgage sooner, you may be able to double your current mortgage payment of principal and interest on any regular payment date. Please call us to learn more about this option.


Make a lump sum payment: 

Take advantage of the prepayment options on your mortgage to make an annual lump sum payment against your mortgage. Depending on the options you select for your mortgage, you can choose to repay up to 10%, 15% or 20% of the original principal amount of your mortgage at any time during each year of the term. Remember, even small amounts can make a big difference in the long run.


Restructure your mortgage: Consider mortgage options that can provide savings and flexibility. 


Thanks to ScotiaBank for these 5 great tips.

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If you’ve set a goal to pay down your debt this year, or are planning to buy a new home in Calgary, you are not alone.

According to a recent study, more than half of Canadians have set a goal to pay off debt in 2018.

Strategically reducing or paying off debt, benefits your finances tremendously, but can positively impact other areas of your life as well.


1. Reduce stress.

Finances are a top source of stress for many Canadians. When you make the commitment to pay off your debt, you’re also making a commitment to your overall health and well-being by minimizing a large cause of your stress.


2. Improve your credit score.

Although credit cards and lines of credit may help establish your score, maintaining low balances positively impacts it over all.

Additionally, if you plan to finance a large purchase, such as a car or a home, keep in your outstanding balance is low may classify you as a lower credit risk and qualify you for a reduced interest rates.


3. Easily pay an unexpected bill.

If your debts are low you’ll be able to save more in an emergency fund to handle financial surprises, such as an unexpected home repair bill.


4. Increase your expendable income.

Many Canadians live paycheck-to-paycheck. Their hard earned money is already earmarked to pay off debts and bills before it’s even deposited in the bank account. However, the less debt you are in, the more expendable income you will have available to enjoy now or save for later.


5. Boost your retirement income.

If you want to maintain your lifestyle long after retirement, the time to save is now.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest impediments to building a retirement nest egg is existing debt.

The good news is, when you pay down or pay off your debt, you can choose to contribute additional funds to existing retirement accounts for enjoyment in your golden years.


6. Model good financial habits for others.

If you want others to cultivate good financial habits, be the example they can follow.

People, especially children, mimic the behaviors they see.

Explain how to cultivate good financial habits and why it is important to do so.

Additionally, provide reasons why it is best to avoid any necessary debt.


7. Become more generous.

The less debt we have, the more generous we may feel with our money.

Whether it’s tithing more, donating to local school or sports programs or giving money to a cause dear to us, we may feel like we can give more.



Looking for ways to earn more money?

Whether you want to pay down debt, build emergency savings or invest, consider these options.


1. Get a side hustle.

Do you have a hobby or skill that could net more money on the side?

Whether it’s photography, web design or crafting, consider sharing your skills to earn extra cash.


2. Rent out a room.

If you have extra room in your home or an in-law apartment, consider renting it through Airbnb. Be sure to check the regulations in your area to in sure you’re in compliance with municipal codes or homeowners association rules.


3. Clear the clutter.

Sort through your stuff and set aside items that you don’t use, are in good condition and others would enjoy. Consider selling them online at a consignment shop or in a garage sale.


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Moving up to your “forever home” is exciting. When you bought your first place, chances are you were young, strapped for cash and prepared – if not warned – to make some concessions. The move-up buyer typically has some savings and home equity to work with, making this next move feel less like a compromise and more a thoughtful selection.

But move-up buyers face their own set of challenges that call for a carefully considered strategy. Here are three options for the smart move-up buyer with a plan!


Strategy #1 SELL FIRST

The “Sell First” strategy is ideal for the move-up buyer who can’t afford to pay two mortgages simultaneously. Selling your property first eliminates the risk of having to carry two mortgages if you don’t sell your existing home in time. It also reduces the chances of having to reduce your asking price in the interest of speeding up the sale. This is a good option for move-up buyers who are banking on the proceeds of their sale to fund their new (and likely more expensive) property. By selling first, you’ll know exactly how much money you have to purchase your next home.


Strategy #2  BUY FIRST

If homes in your area of choice are selling faster than the ‘For Sale’ signs can hit the front lawn, the “buy first” strategy might be the way to go. By buying your new home before selling your old one, you won’t feel rushed into settling for a sub-par property, or having to seek alternative temporary housing options while you shop the market. This move-up buyer still lives in his or her existing home, allowing them time to shop around, and continue looking until they find that perfect place. This move-up buyer typically requires a bridge mortgage.


Strategy #3  TIME + ALIGN

When all is said and done, this move-up buyer approach is the most ideal, but getting there is another story. Aligning your purchase and sale closing dates can be tricky. Remember that there are three dancers in this tango – you, the person you’re buying from, and the person you’re selling to. You’ll also have to move out and move in on the same day. In this scenario, time is your best friend and flexibility your saviour. This means you’ve planned ahead – you’re researched neighbourhoods, gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, and you’ve started the organizing and de-cluttering process before the big move.

The right move-up buyer strategy depends on a number of factors, such as your financial situation, current housing market conditions, your personal comfort level and your personality. Consider all these when making your decision. Plan ahead and work with a pro to ensure a smooth transaction on both sides of the bargaining table.


You can find more great articles like this at Re/Max.ca

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Choosing the perfect school can have a huge impact on your child’s future success. 

It's one of the most common factors my buyers consider when looking for a new home in Calgary.

Taking the time to do your research and asking the right questions will pay off in the long run.

Here are the things you need to consider in your quest to find a good school near you.


1.  Stop By and Say Hi:

One of the big lessons your children will learn is not to judge a book by it’s cover, and neither should you! No matter what your first impression is, stop by and ask if you can go on a quick tour of the schools in your neighbourhood. It is the perfect way to help you find a good school near you.

2.  Ask Questions:

Once your list has been narrowed down, make a list of questions you would like to ask. Whether it is the principle, or a teacher from the school, see if you can set up some time to go through your questions with them.

3.  Talk to Parents:

The best advice you can get is from other people in your situation. Talk to some of the other parents in your neighbourhood and ask them why they chose the school they did, how they like the school, and more importantly how their children like the school.

4.  Attend a Meeting or Event:

Is the school hosting a meeting for parents or an event prior to the school year starting? If so, this is a great way for you to get to know some of the teachers and parents a little better. Not only that, but it will make it much easier once the first day of school arrives!

5.  Trust Your Gut:

If you really want to find a good school near you, the best thing to do is make sure you trust yourself! After conducting all of the research above, you will be well informed enough to make a decision while keeping your children’s best interest in mind.


If you're actively looking for a new home in Calgary, click this link to take a look at homes for sale.

If you'd like to move and would like an idea of what your home is worth, click here.


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When looking for a place to call home, it’s easy to get sidetracked by thinking with your heart rather than your head. Although it takes less than seven seconds to make a first impression, a quick decision could lead to an unavoidable case of buyer’s remorse. In order to avoid this, we have listed a checklist for the top ten house hunting tips you need to know before you attend a viewing.

1. Location:   There are many things that can be changed, upgraded, or improved after you have purchased a home, but the location isn’t one of them. You need to think about the proximity to work, schools, and other attractions you frequently visit and also research any new developments or upcoming changes to the area in the future.

2. Smells:  While air fresheners and open windows can clear out certain scents, it’s important to pay attention in order to sniff out other potential issues. For example, if you notice a damp smell, it could mean the home has poor ventilation or issues with mold.

3. Even Floors: Noticing a slanted floor is one of the major hints that there could be a large structural issue with the home. If you do notice something, you can ask your Agent to inquire with the owners or make note of it for the home inspection if you decide to go that far in the purchase process.

4. Lighting: Natural lighting is something that is often overlooked in your house hunt, especially if you are viewing a home at night, or in the middle of winter. Think about how important natural lighting is to you, and plan your viewing times around when the lighting will be optimal.

5. Shape & Size of Rooms: It is important to take a good look at the layout to make sure not only you but also your furniture can fit comfortably in the space.

6. Parking: Is there enough space for everyone in your household to park or will this become an added expense? Additionally, if there is parking available, will your vehicle fit?

7. Laundry: If there is laundry in the home, you need to make sure it is in an accessible location. If there is no laundry, is it in a convenient location you can easily get to with or without a car?

8. Storage Space: Depending on how creative you can get with your storage, you will want to make sure that there is enough room to store your belongings without things becoming cluttered or unliveable.

9. It looks perfect, but are you missing something? Professional staging can sometimes fool buyers into thinking a property is perfect while diverting their eyes away from potential issues. Don’t let the professional décor and scent of fresh baked cookies take your attention away from the things that matter.

10. Assess the Kitchen and Bathrooms: The kitchen and bathroom are two of the most costly rooms in a home. Make sure you pay special attention to these rooms to avoid getting stuck with unwanted repairs or updates after purchasing the home.

While a home inspection will help advise you of any potential issues, it is still a good idea to pay attention to these things in the initial stages of your home search. This will also help ensure you don’t waste money on unnecessary home inspections. 


Take a look at some just listed homes in South Calgary right here.

If you'd like to find out the value of your house in the current market, click here.


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Take a look at this immaculate, original-owner home that’s just been listed in Somerset!

It’s located on a quiet cul-de-sac both siding and backing onto a big park! The playground is just a few steps away.


This home has 3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and is fully finished on all 3 levels.

The main floor is wide open, with a really great flow AND it’s full of windows!  

This house has the most amazing light ever!


The kitchen is well laid out, with a large center island and raised eating bar, big corner pantry and fantastic upgraded appliances.

The eating area looks out over a large deck and the park!


The upper floor has a huge bonus room that gets tons of natural light.  

The master suite is a nice and spacious with a large en suite, complete with full walk in closet.

The second and third bedrooms upstairs are a great size with lots of closet space.


In the lower level you’ll find a large, 2nd family room with hobby area and games/TV space as well.

There are lots of custom built ins and a super convenient Murphy bed.

The bathroom has been beautifully updated with custom shower.


No updating is needed for this fantastic home!

It already has a new roof and  hot water tank, upgraded carpet with memory foam underlay and a gas line for BBQ.


Wow,this is a nice one! 

You can see all the pictures and details here.


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We all know that there are rules when you’re a guest in someone’s home.

Remove your shoes.

Stay out of the medicine cabinet.

Don’t make a mess.

Some of these are common courtesies, but others need to be said.

With the Spring real estate market amping up in Calgary, we thought it was a good idea to go over some Open House Rules.


Open House doesn’t mean all access!

If you come across rooms with closed doors, always check with the listing agent before entering. You’re there to tour the home and yes, that includes the closets, cabinets and cupboards.

But before you open, ask.


Wait your turn.

Warm weather, weekend afternoons, and open house signs are a recipe for market activity.

If someone is in a room, allow them the chance to tour and exit before you pile in.

Get in, take a look around, and get out.


Ask before you shoot.

Always ask permission before taking photos or video at an open house.

This is still someone else’s home, so respect their privacy. I

f you’ve been given the greenlight to take photos, snap away.

But remember, these are for personal reference only.


Stay off the furniture.

You’re there to tour the home, not relax on the couch.

Some homes have been staged with rented or even fake furniture.

Unless you’ve been expressly invited to sit, don’t.


Take your critiques outside.

There will likely be things you like and dislike about the house. That goes without saying.

What should also go without saying, is criticism.

Remember, this is still someone’s home and you don’t want to risk offending anyone, especially if you’re interested in making an offer.

You never know who’s listening.


Be polite.

Please, thank you, hello, and goodbye go along way.

At the end of it all, follow the Golden Rule.

Treat others and their homes the way you’d want to be treated.


Click here to see all the Open Houses in Calgary for the upcoming weekend.

If you want to view Calgary homes for sale, just click right here.


Thanks to ReMax Canada for these Open House Rules!

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The anticipation of homeownership is exciting, but you don’t want to let your dream home slip away because of unforeseen financial circumstances.

To purchase your dream home, you’ll likely need a mortgage, and applying for one requires more than just a signature.


Follow these mortgage tips to help get the most out of your investment.

Do Your Credit Report Homework
Attain your credit report well in advance before applying for your mortgage. Checking
for errors and other items which need addressing can help you improve your credit
score. Your ability to get a desired mortgage rate largely depends on the information
contained in your credit report.


Get Organized
Prepare the necessary documents in advance. This will save you time and ensure a
smooth application process.

Depending on the type of mortgage you’re applying for and your employment situation, various documents are needed.

Your mortgage lender will need:
●Documents required based on type of mortgage transaction (Standard Purchase/
Renewal/Switch)
●Documents required if employed by a company or self-employed

Get the Stamp of Pre-approval
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you understand how much you can borrow
before going through the mortgage application process.

Think of it like a mortgage estimate that:
● Is cost-free
● Saves you time by eliminating unrealistically priced homes
● Allows you to make an immediate offer when you find a home
● Puts you in a better position for negotiating with the seller
● Locks in an interest rate for a period of time, which could save you money if rates
increase during the search for your dream home


Consider the Future
Your mortgage should be planned in accordance with your future.

Your plans may change, but the goal is to reduce financial risks.

Ask yourself the following questions:
● How long do I plan on staying in this house?
● Can I afford to wait longer and save for a larger down payment?
● How high is my risk tolerance?

Inform Yourself
It’s important to be well informed prior to applying for a mortgage. Understanding the
options and procedures involved with buying real estate will be hugely beneficial to
your plans and finances. Your mortgage is a long-term commitment, and like all big
decisions, it needs to be researched and well thought out ahead of time.


Tips from Re/Max Ultimate HomeBuyers Guide.


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Buying a home is a big investment – likely the largest one you will ever make. The cost to buy a home should be carefully considered to avoid the risk of financial difficulty in the future.

Since this decision has a large impact on your wallet, we want to take some time to explore the many costs associated with buying a home. Doing your homework and knowing the average cost of these services in your neighbourhood will help you choose a home within a realistic price range.


Buying a House in Calgary


Deposit

Depending on your location and the price of a home, you may need to put a deposit on a home as a security measure to ensure you don’t lose it to another interested buyer. If you are required to pay a deposit, it will become part of your down payment once you have purchased the home.

Down Payment

In Canada, the minimum amount you need to put down on a home is 5%. While this is realistic for most first time home buyers, having a down payment of 20% or more will help buyers avoid paying Mortgage Loan Insurance.

Land Transfer Tax

When you buy a home, you are required to pay a land transfer tax to the province upon closing. This tax is normally based on the amount paid for the land, as well as the remaining amount on any mortgage or debt assumed as part of the arrangement to buy the land. Cost will vary depending on your municipality, the size of the land and other factors.  Alberta, Saskatchewan, and parts of Nova Scotia do not have Land Transfer Tax at all, while other provinces use a tiered system.

Appraisal Fee

An appraisal will normally cost between $200 and $300 but can vary depending on your location. This will help prevent you from borrowing more than you need to, and will prevent lenders from giving you too much.

Home Inspection

A home inspection is a necessary step in your home buying process and will normally cost an average of $350 depending on the size, age, and condition of the home. This helps ensure there are no unexpected maintenance or home improvement costs upon purchasing the home.

Property Insurance

While property insurance is likely already something you have factored into your budget, it’s important to do your research and find a reasonable quote that will ensure you are covered should anything unexpected happen.


Mortgage Insurance

There is mortgage life insurance, which is designed to protect the repayment of a mortgage if anything were to happen to you. There is also mortgage loan insurance if your down payment is less than 20% of the total house cost. Premiums for this type of insurance range from 0.5% to 3% and increase if you are self employed.

Lawyer Fees

The fee you will be charged by your lawyer will vary depending on the person representing you and must be paid upon closing. Ask your real estate agent for advice as they likely have a preferred trusted lawyer they can refer you to.

Title Insurance

Title insurance is a one-time-fee that provides protection from losses related to the properties title or ownership. Learn more about what it is in this blog post.

Property Taxes

The cost for property taxes is expressed as a dollar rate for every $1,000 estimated to be the market value of your property.

Maintenance and Energy Costs

Potentially your largest ongoing homeowner expense, these costs include lawn care/ yard work, professional services, additions/upgrades and the cost of keeping the house running year-round. You can use our monthly home budget planner to help map out all of these costs.

Moving Expenses

It’s easy to forget about the small things when moving, but it’s important to remember they can add up quickly! Consider the cost for phone, electricity, and other utility installations and don’t forget about movers, a moving truck and feeding your friends who are helping out!

Now that you have a better idea of the cost to buy a home, it’s time to hit the books to find out how much these services will cost in your area. Make a list, create a budget, and get started!


Thanks to Re/Max for all this great information.

You can read more here.


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A lot of you are planning for the future, planning for retirement and for the potential of multiple streams of income.  

I get many questions about purchasing a rental property.  

Here are the top 6 things to think about from the Calgary Real Estate Board.

1. Location
The location of a property will determine the type of renters that will want to live there. Central areas generally have the highest demand, but less-pricey options in working-class areas often have better cash flows. Opt for high-growth areas over those that are in decline. Safety is also an important concern. Renters steer clear of unsafe neighbourhoods, so make sure your income property is in a safe and secure area.
2. Rent
The monthly rent you can charge for a given property will be crucial to determining whether it could be a solid investment. Determine average rental rates in the area to make sure the rent you charge will be able to cover your mortgage payment, taxes and other expenses like insurance every month.
3. Amenities
Shopping, parks, restaurants, schools and public transportation are just a few of the amenities renters will be looking for, so make sure they are nearby when choosing a property.
4. Inventory/Vacancy
An area with a high number of vacancies, indicated by a lot of housing inventory on the market, means it might be difficult to find renters for your property. It might also reduce the amount of rent you’ll be able to charge, impacting your cash flow.
5. Property Taxes
Property taxes are a cost you will have to shoulder with any investment property, so make sure you review the most recent tax assessment to determine if they are high, and if so, why that is the case.
6. Insurance
This is another cost you will have to factor in when determining your cash flow. Try to avoid areas where your coverage options might be limited or non-existent, such as a flood-plain or other area that is susceptible to natural disasters.


These are the top 6 factors to consider according to the Calgary Real Estate Board.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  A decision like this is definitely worthy of a conversation.


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It might seem counter-intuitive, but buying a new home in the winter can actually be easier, cheaper, and more convenient than any other time of the year. 

I'm crrently working with a few buyers, and the pace is much less stressful than in the busier Spring Market.

ReMax Canada recently addresssed this issue and here's what they had to say.

 


1. It’s a buyers market.

Spring has always been considered the best time to put a house on the market. Warmer weather inspires buyers to get out and hit the open house circuit.  Gardens and outdoor areas tend to feel better when they’re not covered in 3 feet of snow. However, there will always be sellers who need to list their homes in the dead of winter. You’re at a distinct advantage if you’re out pounding the pavement while other would-be-homeowners are busy hibernating.

Less buyers means less bidding wars, less stress, and more chances for you to score the house of your dreams.


2. Real estate agents are less busy.

The warmer months are prime buying and selling times.  So, it makes sense that the busiest time for most real estate agents is April through September. The rest of the year, though? Not quite as busy!  Make the most of the snow and work with an agent who can give you 100% of their attention and help you explore all your options. You’ll both be happy when you end up with the perfect home.


3. Sellers are motivated.

When sellers put their houses on the market during the winter months, there’s usually a time sensitive reason, like a new job in a different city, or a baby on the way. Whatever the case, they are often motivated to sell quickly and close the deal with minimal hassle. Luckily for you, that translates into possible savings. Sellers might accept a lower offer and they’re not flooded with other offers and potential buyers. Bottom line? Don’t be afraid to negotiate.


4. You can save some money!

Moving companies might be cheaper. Unlike spring and summer, you don’t have to book a rental truck for moving company weeks or even months and advance. It’s pretty easy to score movers and transportation in the off-season. It might just be cheaper also. Moving and rental truck companies usually offer winter discounts to entice customers. And you can even book with him, which tends to be impossible in June, July and August.




5. Trades people are easier to book.

Whether you’re looking to have your new place professionally painted before you move in, or need an expert to install that gorgeous vintage chandelier, you’ll have an easier time booking trades people in the off-season. Like movers, tradespeople tend to be less busy in the colder months, when homeowners aren’t as focussed on home improvements. You won’t necessarily score crazy deals, but most painters, electricians, and repair technicians will be more than happy to accommodate you.


If you're ready to get started to search for your new home, just click right here.

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Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.