Informed Shoppers are the Best Shoppers

By: Lesley Scorgie
For Metro

Maybe you have been dreaming up blueprints for years or simply stumbled upon a community where you would like to build your new home. Whatever the case, put on your savvy shopper hat and get informed.

There are many communities, designs, and builders to choose from, so read advertisements, browse builder websites, visit home shows and model show homes to get a feel for what your dream home is. Make a list of your need-to-have and want-to-have requirements.

Similar to re-sale homes, location and amenities are key when buying new. Investigate future development plans for roads, schools, shopping centres, green space and more prior to selecting your community.

When buying new, you are purchasing a package of services, not just the physical home structure, so you will need to carefully select a builder who is aligned with your goals.

Every builder will have a different philosophy on quality, speed to complete the home, flexibility with the design and the inclusion of certain finishings; some are standard like carpet floor, whereas others, like hardwood, cost extra and need to be included in your budget. Some builders require milestone payments throughout the construction process, in which case you will need your lender to design a mortgage structure that accommodates these, All of these items are negotiable.

Warranty and after-sale services are also very important so you aren’t left high and dry with a lopsided door or faulty furnace. Before your home is completed, you will join the builder in a walk-through of the home to verify that the work has been done according to plan. If you are satisfied, you will sign a certificate of completion, noting any outstanding work and when it will be completed. This triggers the warranty coverage on your home.

*Carefully select a builder who is aligned with your goal.*

Originally found in Metro, page 28 – Thursday October 3rd, 2013

Negotiations are Part of the Process

By: Lesley Scorgie
For the Calgary Sun

**A reputable REALTOR® can walk you through the negotiation process and help you stick to your walk-away point.**

Negotiation

In many cases, your initial offer to purchase is simply a starting point for negotiating. Often, the seller will counter-offer, which means they will ask for aspects of your initial offer to be amended, such as the price, deposit or conditions. Buyers and sellers continue to swap offers and counteroffers until they have reached an agreement or choose to walk away from the deal.

When making an offer, protect yourself and your finances by leaving emotions out of the equation and knowing your limits in terms of affordability and conditions. Clearly defining a “walk-away” point will also help guide the process.

When the negotiations begin, ask for what you want, but be realistic. Don’t offer $100,000 for a property worth $1 million. Base your offer on facts by reviewing and presenting information on comparable properties from www.realtor.ca.

If it’s a buyers market, disclose that you are interested in other properties. If it’s a sellers market (which it currently is here in Calgary), put a human face to the process and write a personal letter to the seller.

Throughout the process, you will learn the sellers needs and can negotiate based on those.

A reputable REALTOR® can walk you through the negotiation process and help you stick to your walk-away point.

The interest rate and terms of your mortgage are also up for negotiation. Follow these steps:

  • Research current rates and terms by reviewing multiple websites of financial institutions. Also check out ratehub.ca for the best rates across Canada.
  • Speak to a mortgage representative (talk to Robyn Moser & Associates if you need recommendations on where to go!), and ask for a better rate. Keep what you researched in mind during your discussion. Most credit grantors will try to work with you to earn or keep your business, especially if you are a good client.
  • To strengthen your position, present a competitive offer that your lender could match.
  • If the lender doesn’t want to play ball, take your business elsewhere.

Originally found in The Calgary Sun – Thursday October 3rd, 2013 – Page 30.

5 Ways to Become Mortgage-Free Faster

Linda White
Special to QMI Agency

For many Canadians, paying off their mortgage as quickly as possible is an important financial priority.

Surprisingly, it’s relatively easy and painless to reduce your amortization and the amount of interest you’ll pay. Here are five ways to become mortgage-free faster:

  1. Make accelerated payments: Financial institutions offer a number of payment options, including monthly, semi-monthly, bi-weekly and weekly. Accelerated payments are the most common way to reduce the length of your mortgage. A bi-weekly option effectively gives you an additional payment every year because you’ll make 26 bi-weekly payments.
  2. Increase your mortgage payments every year: If your bi-weekly payment is $425 and you increase that amount by just $10 every year for the life of the mortgage, you can shave thousands of dollars off your mortgage.
  3. Round up mortgage payments to an even number: Rounding the balance on your mortgage to the nearest $10 of $50 can also help you reduce thelength of your mortgage. “Little changes don’t feel like much but as you chip away at it, you start to hit thresholds,” says David Stafford, managing director of real estate secured lending at Scotiabank. “As your employment improves, as your cash flow improves, you start to accelerate.”
  4. Pay more than you need: Today’s historically low interest rates are great news for borrowers, but no one knows how long they’ll last. Stafford suggests calculating how much your payment would be at more traditional interest rates of 4.5% or 5%, and start paying that, now. “You’ll knock an unbelievable amount of principal off your mortgage over the next five years,” says Stafford. “Our best advice for people coming up for renewal at a higher rate is to not change their payment because they’re already comfortable with that payment. Get the lower rate, keep your payment the same and that much money will go to the principal.”
  5. Make an annual lump sum payment: Most people can get 10% or 15% pre-payment privileges. On a $200,000 mortgage, that means you can reduce your principal by $20,000 or $30,000 a year. “Most of us don’t have that kind of money lying around at the end of a year, but $500 or $300 or an extra $100 will make a difference,” Stafford says. “Every extra dollar you pay goes to porincipal and everyone of those dollars is the most expensive dollar you borrowed, which is the once you’re going to pay off in your final payment.”

Originally found in The Calgary Sun on Thursday October 17th, 2013.

Get to know: Crystal Stashko

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Crystal Stashko

REALTOR®

What would you say is your best quality? “I always try to be positive.”

What  do you feel is your most recognizable personality trait, if someone were to meet you for the first time? ” I am very friendly.”

Your favourite colour? “Pink!”

You haven’t been in the Real Estate world for all that long, but what is your favourite part thus far? “Working with a variety of people that come from differently cultures and backgrounds. I find that very interesting!”

Why did you become a REALTOR®? “I just loved that I could pick my own hours and work when I wanted to. I like having control over my schedule, like that.”

Tell us; what is the funniest moment you’ve had so far in Real Estate? “I was on my way to a clients home inspection and decided to stop off and grab some nice gourmet cookies to enjoy as the home inspection was happening. When I arrived at the cookie shoppe, I actually ran into my client who had already purchased cookies for the same reason I was there.” – Hey, great minds think alike!

What do you feel is the best part of the RMA team? “I like that we all work together and support one another. We’re also all headed in the same direction, which helps us stay focused on the end goal!”

You’ve lived in Fort McMurray & Red Deer… so what is your favourite neighbourhood in Calgary? Why? “I love Fairview – The mature trees & character within the community is like any other community in Calgary. The central location is also desirable for me as it is super quick to get onto Deerfoot, Glenmore & Macleod.”

So, you love the neighbourhood of Fairview – Now, what is your favourite part of Calgary, as a whole? “Well… I used to live in Fort McMurray.. so… I pretty much love everything about this city!”

Interesting. Who do you inspire to be? Or who inspires you!? Why? “Robyn Moser – She is extremely hard working and has built an awesome name for herself & her team. No, I am not getting paid to say this!”

Juggling life and work is extremely difficult for REALTOR®’s, how do you do it!? “I just try to utilize my calendar and schedule time for myself. I also enjoy working out, so I make time for that, for sure.”

If a client were to ask you where they should go eat in Calgary, where would you send them!? “I would send them to either Tango or Bolero! Those are definitely my favourites, by far.”

MORE ABOUT CRYSTAL STASHKO….

Crystal, raised in Fort McMurray and Red Deer Alberta joined the Robyn Moser & Associates team in May of 2013 after deciding to pursue her Real Estate career after working many years in the customer service and hospitality industry. Wanting an exciting new opportunity after travelling South East Asia in 2011, Crystal got her REALTOR® accreditation from the Calgary Real Estate Board in July 2012. At this time she also completed her first year of an electrical apprenticeship in Fort McMurray, and has a working knowledge of all things related. Her enthusiastic attitude, attention to detail, eagerness to be a successful agent, and knowledge of Alberta as a whole makes her an incredible addition and asset to the team.

When Crystal isn’t expanding her knowledge, she enjoys being outdoors, participating in yoga classes, travelling the globe and spending time with family and friends.

Crystal works as a licensed REALTOR® for the team and will provide her clients with the utmost care and specialization while continuing to push the envelope for continual knowledge and experience.

Get to know: Robyn Moser

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Robyn Moser
REALTOR®

What do you feel is your best quality? “I am a very good friend!”

What do you feel is your most recognizable personality trait? “Probably my drive and ambition.”

What is your favourite colour? “Brown.” (Which is quite obvious, because on any given day she is usually wearing it!)

What is your favourite holiday? “Both Halloween & Christmas.”

What is your favourite part of Real Estate? “The excitement people have when they find, buy, and/or take possession of their home! It’s great to see. I love being a REALTOR® because of the people, the kids and all the relationships you develop.”

Why did you come a REALTOR®? “Because I simply thought I would be good at selling homes! And I am still at it today!”

What is the funniest moment you’ve had thus far in Real Estate? “I almost sold a home, that I showed by accident that wasn’t even for sale! Oops!”

What do you feel is the best part of the Robyn Moser & Associates team? “I like that we all work together to achieve one goal. Both ego’s and agenda’s are put to the side so that we can all achieve success on many different levels.”

What is your favourite neighbourhood in Calgary? Why? “Hidden Valley – I feel the community really pulls together and cares. I also like Bridgeland for it’s history and character.”

What is your favourite part of Calgary, as a whole? “The Palliser Hotel – Growing up, it helped me stay focused on the life that I wanted to built and grow, regardless of my background and circumstances.”

If a client asked you where the best place in town was to eat, where would you send them!? “I have too many favourite restaurants, as my husband and I love trying new places! The top of my list would definitely be Rouge, Vintage, Living Room or the Oak Room at the Palliser. Those are my “go-to” restaurants that never fail.”

So, when you aren’t being superwoman… oops, I mean a REALTOR®, what are your favourite hobbies? “I enjoy politics, reading, biking, hiking & volunteering.”

Who or what, is your inspiration? Why? “I am inspired by people who are happy and generous, in regards to both time or money. I also am inspired by successful people who have overcome incredible odds, or individuals who have achieved things that they never thought possible. I believe you can find inspiration in almost anything if you look close enough. Based on that, I would say I am inspired more by the moments people have, rather than one individual. So, many moments on a daily basis inspire me.”

MORE ABOUT ROBYN MOSER….

Robyn Moser- President & Team Lead

Being born and raised in Calgary, gives Robyn an in-depth knowledge of the communities in and around our city, a city in which she has great pride. Her knowledge comes in handy when helping clients choose which community is right for their family and their lifestyle. It is also a big advantage when marketing a home. Knowing how to correctly position a home in a competitive market help sell our listings faster and for top dollar.

Robyn started in Real Estate in 1998, where she was a 21 year old in an industry with an average age of 52. She quickly excelled and was very honored to receive second place for “Rookie REALTOR ® of the Year.” Every year since, Robyn has received an award; these include: 2002 – Director’s Award, for being in the top 15% of sales, 2003 and 2004 – President’s Award, for being in the top 10% of sales, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 – Chairman’s Award for the top 5% of sales, 2008 and 2010 – Pinnacle for being in the top 1% of sales for all of Maxwell Realty Canada Inc. She has also placed in the MLS Million Dollar Club numerous times.

Throughout Robyn’s career she has continued to upgrade her Real Estate licensing and knowledge. She has completed her Real Estate Broker’s course and is now an Associate Broker. This designation would best be described as having a master’s degree in Real Estate. She has also competed her designation as an Accredited Buyers Representative. Robyn not only uses her extensive knowledge to help her clients but also to train and mentor many of the new Real Estate agents. By doing so, she hopes to maintain the integrity and professionalism of the members in her industry.

In 2005 Robyn brought together an amazing team under the banner of “Robyn Moser & Associates”. The team has grown to become one of the top Real Estate teams in Calgary, Alberta, by continually providing exemplary service to all of our past, present and future clients. Robyn prides herself on the level of customer service my team provides by helping our clients with all aspects of their Real Estate transaction ensuring they fully understand each point. The part that Robyn admires most about RMA is how they all care about the overall success and happiness of each and every individual client. She feels truly honored to work with this group of people day in and day out.

House or condo. Which is right for you?

Lesley Scorgie
For Metro

If you love the thought of hosting backyard barbecues and you don’t mind cutting the lawn, freehold home ownership will probably work for you.

Freehold ownership is where you own both the physical land and the home on the land. This means you have full control over the property. Subject to any local land-use bylaws. Crown rights or other restrictions communicated to you at the time of purchase. As long as you don’t break any laws or violate permitting limitations you can do almost anything to the property, from remodelling, to planting a garden to building a fence. Freehold ownership also means the owner is responsible for maintaining the yard, interior and exterior of the property. But if you don’t keep up with the predetermined neighbourhood permits, codes and standards, local residents can submit their complaints and the city can issue you warnings.

If, on the other hand, the sight of hedging sheers causes you goosebumps, you may want to consider a condominium.

With condominium ownership, you own the unit you live in and share in the ownership of common space within your building. Each month, unit owners pay fees to maintain and improve the building.

Condominiums are typically governed by a board of directors comprised of select unit owners, and the day-to-day activities like lawn maintenance and window cleaning are managed by a property manager who is employed by the board.

Because you don’t own the building in a condo, you are limited in what can be changed. For example, if you want to install a hot tub on the balcony of your 21st-floor apartment, you would likely need to seek approval from the condominium board prior to hiring a crane. And condominiums have rules about things like noise and pets.

For many individuals that travel, condominium living is perfect. They simply lock the door to their unit and jet set to their destination knowing their property is secure.

Fixed Rate VS Variable Rate Mortgages

When searching for a home, there’s a lot to consider, from square footage and location, to amenities and property taxes.

Linda White
Special to QMI Agency

Mortgage House Calculator

Mortgage House Calculator

With a wide range of features and options to choose from, there’s also a lot to consider when choosing a mortgage. For first-time homebuyers, it’s important to put the numbers in perspective.

“Many first-time homebuyers think they’re stretched to the limit but they’re also at a stage in their lives where their income improves and payments become more palatable,” says David Stafford, managing director of real estate secured lending at Scotiabank. “You think you’re never going to be mortgage free, but eventually you are.”

One of the first decisions homebuyers face is whether to select a fixed rate mortgage. Though fixed rate mortgage are the most popular, it all comes down to personal choice. Mortgage shoppers should consider their budget, their affinity for risk and their future goals when making the decision.

Mortgage Market: According to the Canadian Association of Mortgage Professionals spring survey Change in the Canadian Mortgage Market, 69% of Canadian mortgage holders have fixed rate mortgages and 85% of mortgages taken out in the last year were fixed rate.

Characteristics of a FIXED RATE MORTGAGE:
Description: A fixed rate mortgage is a mortgage with a fixed interest rate for a specific term. This type of mortgage can be open (may be paid off at any time without breakage costs) or closed (breakage costs apply if paid off prior to maturity).
Pros: With this type of mortgage, you’ll know the amount of your regular mortgage payments, the portion of your payment that goes towards principal and interest and the amortization (the length of time it will take to pay off your mortgage).
Cons: “Generally speaking, there’s a cost premium to locking in your rate because you’re basically transferring all the interest rate risk to the lender,” Stafford says.
Words of Wisdom: “If you’re cash tight – if your debt-service ratio is high as a result of this house purchase or if you’ve stretched to get as much as you can get at the outset – locking in can be a great idea,” he says. “We are maybe at the tail end of a window with the lowest rates in history. If there was ever a time to lock in long, this might be it.”

Characteristics of a VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE:
Description: With a variable rate mortgage, mortgage payments are set for the term, even though interest rates may fluctuate during that time. Variable rate mortgages may be open or closed.
Pros: This type of mortgage generally offers the lowest interest rate available and if rates drop more of the payment is applied to reduce the principal. Still not sure?  Ask if you’re able to concert to a fixed rate mortgage if you change your mind.
Cons: If rates go up, more of the payment is applied to payment of interest.
Words of Wisdom: “If you can stand the roller coaster ride, generally in any five-year window in history you’ll do better on a variable rate mortgage than on a fixed rate mortgage,” Stafford Says. “You have to be comfortable that you might get a letter saying the Bank of Canada is changing rates and your next payment is higher than the last one.”

Originally from The Calgary Sun: 03/10/2013

Pre-Approval: Ask these questions!

 

Mortgage & House

Mortgage & House

Robyn Moser, Crystal Stashko & Lindsay Perrault got together to think of a list of good questions to ask when getting pre-qualified for a mortgage – the following list should prove to be quite helpful for this step of the home-hunting process

Is the amount the lender has given me my loan amount or my purchase price? – Many times financial officers or mortgage brokers will speak in loan values not total purchase price. This reason is because the amount you qualify will not change because mortgage rules are very strict but your down payment can vary.  It’s important to clarify this so that you do not end up wanting to purchase a home you cannot afford or so that you do not miss out on your dream home because you are dreaming too small.

What is my locked in rate for a five year fixed mortgage and how long is it guaranteed for? – If rates go up you know what your guaranteed rate is.  If rates go down you will be offered the lower rate. Rates are normally guarantee’d for 90-120 days after pre-approval.

What are my numbers on my GDSR and my TDSR?

GROSS DEBT SERVICE RATIO – 32% – GDSR is the ratio of your gross income, reduced to 32% of that amount that can be allocated to mortgage debt, property taxes, ½ condo fees, an allocation towards heat (very important in Canada). i.e. $50,000.00 gross income = $4,166.00 per month = $1,330.00 applicable monies

TOTAL DEBT SERVICE RATIO – 40% – 
TDSR is the ratio of your gross income, reduced to 40% of that amount that can be allocated to (see above) mortgage debt, property taxes, ½ condo fees an allocation towards heat and all other outside committed payments.

Examples of outside committed payments:

  • Auto loans
  • Auto leases
  • Credit card payments
  • Lines of credit
  • Student loan payments
  • Loans
  • Alimony
  • Child support payments
  • Personal guarantees on other person’s loans – i.e. son’s motorcycle loan, personal guarantee on daughter’s mortgage!

**These calculations determine, in the eyes of credit grantors, your ability to service the mortgage debt load. **

What would my payments be at my maximum loan value? – A lot of times buyers get caught up on purchase price when looking at homes but the reality for you will be your monthly payments of your mortgage, taxes, condo fees and utility bills. We feel it’s important for you to have a clear picture of your monthly budget and life while looking at homes.

What paperwork do you require for me to complete a purchase when I make an offer? There is a long list of documents your broker will require when you make an offer on a home in order to get in order to give you a full financial commitment when you find your dream home.

A PRE-QUALIFICATION DOES NOT MEAN YOU DO NOT NEED A FINANCING CONDITION WHEN YOU PURCHASE A HOME!!!

 You will always need a financing condition if you require a mortgage on an offer because the lending institution will need to also verify the value of the property as well as whether or not you will be able to handle the payment.

What is my Beacon score & Canadian Credit Bureau Score? – Equifax and Transunion uss multiple factors to produce your credit or beacon score. Your credit/beacon score is generated by a mathematical formula created by credit bureau / agency. To calculate your score, typically 5 areas are assessed. The weight of each factor is determined by the effect of the other three.

  • Past payment history (33%) – Bankruptcies, late payments, past due accounts and wage attachments
  • Amount of credit owing (33%) – Amount owed on accounts, proportion of balances to total credit limits
  • Length of time credit established (12%) – Time since accounts opened, time since account activity
  • Search for and acquisition of new credit (12%) – Number of recent credit inquiries, number of recently opened accounts
  • Types of credit established (10%) – Number of various types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, mortgage)

If these questions are answered clearly before you begin the process of looking for a home – you shouldn’t have any difficulties knowing what you want and what you can afford, thus, making the process THAT much easier!