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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The average person will spend a total of 3,680 hours, or 153 days of their life, searching for misplaced items.  Typically, the only time many of us think about decluttering our homes or spaces is when we’re getting ready to move.  


Whether you’re moving or just want to save time and space, this easy, five-bin approach is a great way to start simplifying your living environment.


The 5-bin approach

Decluttering the home can be overwhelming. However, applying the five-bin approach to reorganizing and discarding items may help you feel less anxious and more in control of the process.


Bin 1: Items that need to be put away.  

Place items that belong somewhere else in the home in this bin.  Eventually, you’ll put them away. The intention is to put them somewhere while you’re clearing the room.


Bin 2:  Items to be fixed.

Place items that you plan to fix or that need to be washed or cleaned in this bin, such as toys, dirty clothes or scuffed shoes.


Bin 3:  Items to donate.

Items in this bin are in good condition, but you no longer need or use them.  They can be given to friends or family, sold online or donated to a local charity.


Bin 4:  Items to be recycled.

This is where you’ll place items made of paper, plastic or glass that you don’t want to keep.  Add all the empty drink bottles, food containers, and magazines or newspapers.


Bin 5:  Items to discard.

Place expendable items in this bin that you can’t recycle or donate.


What about sentimental items?

Many of us have items we can’t bear to part with because there’s a memory or other sentimental feeling attached.  

Here are a few tips for handling sentimental items that may start to create clutter.


Decide if it’s worth keeping.

If you use or enjoy the item, hang on to it.  However, you may not need to retain every piece of artwork your children created.  It can be helpful to ask a relative or friend when deciding which to keep.


Choose a few items that remind you of a loved one.

If you’ve inherited many heirlooms, see if other members of your family would like some, too.  Donate the rest.


Keep in mind, you can get rid of an item without getting rid of the memory.

Take a photo of the item to place in a journal or scrapbook and write why it means so much to you.


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Many Calgary homeowners weigh their options before beginning a home project, often considering it’s size and scope, their budget and their own technical abilities.

However, there’s one other thing to consider, your time.


Hiring a professional will allow you to spend time doing other things on your to do list.

  1. Do you have the skills and tools to do the work well? If you don’t have the tools or the technical and mechanical aptitude, it’s best to leave your project to the pros.

  2. Do you have the time to work on it? If you work full-time, you may only have time to do the work at night and on weekends. Working on the project sporadically will increase the amount of time the entire project will take. While time may not be an issue for smaller projects, the longer it takes to finish large projects, the more of an inconvenience they may become.

  3. How extensive is the project? Major projects, particularly those that alter the footprint of the room or until working with electricity or plumbing, should be handled by a professional.

  4. What is the risk involved? Extensive projects often carry bigger risks. For example, if your bathroom renovation involves major plumbing tasks, you may increase the risk of severe water damage if the pieces aren’t properly tightened and installed. Similarly, if your project requires installing electrical wiring, you may increase the risk of fire if it’s not installed correctly. An experienced professional is able to mitigate the risk and ensure everything conforms with the current building codes. 

  5. Does the project require a permit? Depending on where you live, if a project requires a permit, you may have to hire a professional to complete the work. Contact your local building inspector to learn more about the regulations and permits that may apply to your project.


If you’d like to hire a pro for your next renovation project, big or small, give me a call and I’ll connect you with a reputable professionals in my network.

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Pre-Move Essentials
Here are 10 things you need to complete before you’re ready to move into your new Calgary house.


1. Take a few days off work
The first few days of your move are busy!  You’ll be unpacking boxes, moving furniture, and waiting on deliveries, repairs, and installations. It’s a good idea to let your employer know that you’ll be moving.  Then you’ll have ample time to coordinate these appointments before you head back into the office. The 48 hours post-move is crucial to getting (somewhat) settled, so make sure you plan and schedule accordingly.


2. Connect TV and internet
You’re going to want your WiFi ASAP! Make sure you’re up and running before move-in day by setting up services ahead of time. Do your homework in order to know where you stand in order to compare pricing and figure out what service providers will best suit your needs. Schedule installation at least 2-3 weeks in advance to ensure that your services are activated in a timely manner and to also get the appointment slot that is most convenient for you.


3. Transfer utilities
Before you can move into your new home and get comfortable, you need to set up your utilities: water, gas, and electricity. Depending on where your new home is located, you may or may not have some say in which company you work with. Although utility companies are usually timely about activation, the sooner you notify them of your move-in date, the better. This is especially true if they’re in the midst of moving season when they’re working with a ton of accounts.


4. Schedule a cleaning
Before you move your furniture, it’s a good idea to clean all the nooks and crannies of your new home. Chances are, the previous owner didn’t take the time to thoroughly clean it for your arrival (at least not to your standards), so schedule a cleaning service to come in and do a thorough once-over. With all the effort that you’re putting into your new home, you deserve a spotless canvas!

5. Update your address
Your address is connected to so many aspects of your life that you may not even realize. From forwarding your mail, to maintaining subscriptions and loyalty programs, to banks and credit cards, to insurance, to checkbooks, to car registration and driver’s licenses... We think you get the point. When you update your address, you update your life! Not sure how to go about doing this? No worries, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about updating your address.


6. Gather important documents
You know those super important documents that sit and collect dust in your filing cabinet? They have to come along for the ride too. We’re talking birth certificates, social security cards, medical records, insurance policies, and anything else of that nature. Now’s the time to purge what you don’t need and label and organize everything that you do. Grab your shredder and some banker’s boxes and get to work! Important documents are items that cannot be overlooked on your new home checklist.

7. Take photos of valuable items
Moving your valuables is nerve-racking, but if you take proper precautions you’ll be more than fine. A good method of damage control is creating a valuables inventory and taking photos of each item. This could be anything from your grandmother’s antique mirror to your TV and computer monitor. By taking photos of these items, you have proof of their original condition in the event that they are damaged during the move. No matter how careful or responsible your moving company is, accidents can happen so moving insurance is worth looking into.

8. Research local businesses
When you move to a different town or state, it’s good to get the lay of the land of local businesses. Chances are you won’t be frequenting the businesses you usually do anymore, so you’ll want to explore your new options. From a new doctor, to a new hairdresser, to new landscapers, you’ll have to do quite a bit of research. Apps like Yelp can show you reviews, recommendations, and photos of local businesses to help you make educated decisions.


9. Schedule home improvements
Repairs and home improvements are an inevitable part of moving into a new home (whether an apartment or a house). There are some repairs that require more attention than others (i.e. leaky plumbing, windows that don’t lock, etc). It’s necessary that these are taken care of beforehand by either the previous owner or your property management company. If they aren’t, get on that ASAP! But maybe you just want to paint an accent wall or install built-in bookcases, these are the kind of home improvements you’re in charge of. You should schedule these improvements ahead of time so you’re not worrying about them come move-in day. Get the messy stuff out of the way first, it’ll make your life way easier.

10. Prepare to pack
As you inch closer to move-in day, start to throw out or donate things you don’t need and take note of what needs to be replaced. Keep the layout and measurements of your new home in mind as this could mean more or less space for your belongings. Save money by collecting free moving boxes from local businesses and retailers or use laundry bins, suitcases, and large bags to transport items. It’s also a good idea to label or color coordinate all boxes according to what room they go in to expedite the process for your moving company. Lastly, an open-first box is a must! You should include in this box everything you need to survive the first 24 hours in your new home. Think air mattress, a fresh outfit, a toothbrush, some snacks, water, and extra cash. You will thank yourself when the time comes. Trust us, it’s a not-to-be-missed item on your new home checklist!



Thanks to Updater for this thorough list.

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Kitchens are often called the heart of the home.

They are definitely the room where we spend the most of our time and do the most of our work!

 

Kitchens are important.

They need to be functional and organized.

 

This is a great breakdown about how to organize the 3 Kitchen Zones

1. Refrigerator Zone

2. Sink Zone

3. Range Zone

 

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Freestanding bathtubs are a very hot trend right now!
You'll find them in many newly built homes.
We're also noticing more and more free standing tubs in renovated houses!
 
It's a big decision.
Do you increase the size of your shower?
Upgrade to a steam shower?
Or, get rid of the shower all together and put in a trendy new free standing tub.
 
Here are some renos to inspire you.
 
 
 
 
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When thinking about how to add value to your home and increase Return On Investment, sometimes it’s better to think small rather than big.

Sure, a full kitchen reno would be nice, but there are plenty of more economical upgrades that can bring up your listing price.

Armed with just $1,000, here are 5 renovation ideas that will increase Return On Investment – and the likelihood of a quick sale!


1.  Start At The Front Door!

We all know that first impressions are important, so the first step is making sure your home’s front door is in tip-top shape.

You can do this by purchasing a brand new front door. That will cost you about $1000.

Or just repaint it! That will cost you about $75 for paint and tools.


Rolling up your sleeves and pulling out the sandpaper is definitely the most frugal option, if you’re up for it. Choose a bold colour that will stand out from the street and add curb appeal, such as red or yellow.

Also look for an easy-to-install decorative door knocker to give the door an expensive, designer vibe.

If the door needs more than a coat of paint to revive it, spending extra replacement cash will pay off. Installing a brand new front door, especially a steel one will increase your return on investment.


2.  Rethink Your Flooring

If your home has outdated flooring, such as wall-to-wall carpeting or  linoleum, bring it into the modern age.

Talk to your local flooring company about how much square footage they could replace, staying in your $1000  budget. There are some surprisingly cost-effective options out there thanks to material advances, such as tongue-in-groove laminate wood or eco-harvested bamboo.

New flooring is always appealing to prospective buyers because it gives the house a clean-slate feeling.


3.  Lose the Brass!

Look around your house and if you spot the shine of 1980ès brass fixtures, replace every last one of them. This once popular faux metal, makes a home look instantly outdated and even cheap! In fact, if any of your homes and knobs, pulls, or faucets are older than 10 years, now’s the time for an upgrade.

Ranging in price from $2 to $50, look for brushed nickel, oil rubbed bronze or black or white fixtures.

Keep the finishings consistent throughout your home. Even if the items they’re attached to our little worse for wear, new hardware will instantly increase return on investment.


4.  Upgrade Your Lighting

To showcase your home in the best light and increase return on investment, consider installing new overhead light fixtures throughout your home.

Creating a cohesive lighting plan by matching fixtures and shades, and added floor and table lamps, will catch the eye of discerning buyers. With a revamp budget of $1000, set aside $100-$200 per fixture and $10 per room for packages of soft incandescent light bulbs.

Also, replace the standard light switches with energy efficient dimmer models they only cost between $10-$20. Cutting utility bills is important to buyers.


5.  Deep Clean

Though it may be hard to believe, simply cleaning the front of your home could increase its value a lot!

Renting a power washer can cost less than $1000 per day, allowing you to remove dirt and mildew from top to bottom. If you have no interest in getting down and dirty, hiring a house maintenance company will probably set you back around $200.

Go the extra mile and increase your return on investment by also repainting the trim and fascia boards for around $1000.  

Paying.a professional cleaning or painting company to refresh the face of your house will add instant value.


$1000  investment might seem like a lot, but if used strategically the upgrade will more than pay for itself when it’s time to list your property.


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Prepping your house to put it up on the market can be a bit of a process.

But, putting in the time to freshen it up, will pay off in the end.

When a potential buyer comes through the front door, you want their first breath to smell like home (and full-asking price).


Open Up the Windows

This is the simplest and most effective way to freshen up your home.

Open all the windows and doors for a couple of hours.  The breeze with carry away odours, dust and stale air.

Let the fresh air in.


Use Some Elbow Grease

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the best way to freshen up your living area is to get rid of the dirt, right down to the dust particles.

A clean, microfiber cloth with a drop or two of lemon essential oil will remove that nasty film from furniture, ceiling fans and door trims.

The lemon oil will make your home smell naturally fresh and clean.


Rethink Your Menu

For a couple of days before a showing, avoid cooking any foods with strong odours such as onions, garlic, and pungent spices. They can linger in the air and make your house smell like a fast food joint, not a family friendly dwelling that deserves top dollar.


Get Baking!

There’s a reason realtors continue to use the old trick of popping in a batch of cookies to bake before a showing. It works!  

Cinnamon buns, pie, or muffins all have the same, feel-good effect.

If baking really isn’t your thing, reach for an all natural Soy-wax, vanilla scented candle.


Lose the Febreeze

You want your home to smell natural, fresh and clean.  Products like Febreeze or strongly scented candles are very overpowering and can create questions in a buyers mind.  What are they trying to hide?

These strong, unnatural scents can also be strong triggers for people with environmental sensitivities.

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Pet owners have an extra challenge when putting their Calgary house up for sale.

When listing your home, it's crucial that it appeals to a wide range of people.

And not everyone is a fan of cats, dogs, birds or even fish!


Lingering animal smells and fur can be a big turn-off for would-be buyers.

It's super important that you remove all signs of your furry friends before showings.


Selling your Calgary home with pets.


Here are 7 steps pet owners can take to make their home more appealing to pet-adverse home buyers.

1. Take a close look at your backyard!
Does your dog bury more bones than they munch on? Start at the perimeter of your yard and circle inward to find your pup's landscaping efforts and fill them in.

2. Pick up ALL the poop!
One mis-step can ruin a buyer's impression of your yard, and possibly home. Make sure your entire yard is clear of any pet-related landmines.

3. Check for chew marks.
Inspect your fencing, deck and porch for any marks from scratching or chewing. Most can be erased with elbow grease and a bit of sandpaper.

4. Hide the evidence.
Collect your pet's toys, bowls, beds and litter boxes and keep them out of sight. Hide pet photos for now, too.

5. Get a second opinion.
Pet people have a tendency to get used to the smell of their beloved pets.  Have a trusted friend come by to sniff out any animal scents you may have become accustomed to. Light candles, open windows or hire a professional carpet cleaning crew to deodorize your home.

6. Take a look at your floors.
Have claws scratched up your lovely hardwood floors? Ask your Realtor if professional resurfacing might be a good idea.

7. Don't leave pets home during showings.
Not only is there a chance they may bolt through an open door when strangers stroll around, there's also a liability issue. It may be a good idea to temporarily relocate exotic critters, such as snakes or tarantulas.

Following these 7 steps will go a long way to make pet-adverse home buyers feel comfortable in your home.

If you're looking for a new home in Calgary, click here

If you'd like to find out how much your Calgary home is worth, click here.
  


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 It's a brand new year!

 

Here's a simple, 10-day challenge to get your home organized and stream-lined for the year ahead.

Each step is pretty basic, but, put them all together and you'll be left with a home that is de-cluttered and easy to move in. Getting your house in order will inspire you in other areas of your life.

 

 

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As winter inches closer, now is the time to prepare by repairing your home. Repairs you make now will pay off tremendously in the future. Ensuring that your home’s cold-weather systems are running efficiently will save you money and major headaches in the long run.




Protect Your Hoses

Watering season is over, but you’re not done with your outdoor watering system quite yet. To avoid cracked hoses and burst faucets over the winter, turn off water valves in your home and drain all remaining water from the taps and hoses.

Tip: Unrolling the hose down a gentle slope will let the water run out completely.


Take Care of Your Pots

If you decide to keep your collection of colourful clay pots outside for winter, make sure you empty the soil before you do. The moisture in the earth will expand when frozen, which can crack those precious ceramic containers.

Tip: removing the soil now will make it easier to re-position and plant the pots come spring time.


Mind the Gutters

Backed up letters and cause all sorts of wintertime hassles such as roof leaks, ice dams, and while water damage. Before the snow comes, get your gutters cleared out by a professional. Tip: Make sure all downspout extensions run at least 1.5 metres away from your homes foundation.


Caulk Your Windows

A thin line of silicon caulking is one of the best ways to seal gaps in the siding, windows, and door frames. If you can see a gap that’s bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to seal it immediately to stop drafts and water damage in their tracks.

Tip: Pick up some weatherstripping for doors as well, you shouldn’t be able to see daylight from inside your home.


Examine Your Heater

Don’t wait until the thermometer dips below zero to think about your home’s heating system. Prep now and be ready. A technician can inspect, test and clean your furnace or heat pump to ensure they’re in tip-top shape for winter.

Tip: Ask for a carbon monoxide measurement at the same time as the inspection.


Examine Your Roof

Give your roof a careful once over. Keep your eyes peeled for damage, or missing and loose shingles. Hire a handyman for patching jobs or a roofing company for larger sections in need of some TLC before winter comes.

Tip: Take time to investigate the flashing around chimneys and vent stacks too.


Protect Your A/C

While it may be tempting to wrap your entire external air conditioning unit in plastic wrap, resist the urge. Doing this can cause corrosion and is an inviting spot for nesting rodents. Instead, place a piece of made-to-measure plywood over the unit during winter and protect it from large, falling icicles and snowdrifts.


The snow and cold is on its way!  Make sure your house is ready


Thanks to Re/Max Canada for all of these great tips!

You can see even more 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.