Category: Realtor (15)

MLS-listingsIt’s difficult for any Home Buyer to make a final decision until they have been exposed to ALL the available Real Estate Listings and be assured that they did not miss a better home. Today your real estate agent has a host of technology available to assist Home Buyers in their search. Properly deployed, these technologies ensure that all available listings are at your disposal and that a Buyer is not overburdened or confused by viewing property that does not fit their criteria. Your REALTOR® has access to your local Multiple Listing System (MLS®) where they post available listings for other cooperating agents to view and sell. This is a local private database which is available to REALTOR® members of organized real estate. For example, members of the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) host a local database of available listings from their over 5,000 REALTOR® members. These REALTORS® are required to abide by rules governing their use of data, business ethics and how they cooperate. This system enables members to have access to all the new listings immediately when they are entered into the system . Access to this system ensures that you have the most up to date information and assures that you are seeing all the listings Real Estate Listings currently available on the MLS®.

Your agent should be able to set up a custom search for you that will email you this information immediately. Alternately, there are many sites that allow to you locate new listings manually or allow you to sign up for automatic updates. Armed with this information and a great Real Estate Agent, you can be assured to stay on top of all the new listings, the minute they come on to the market and not be overburdened by information on homes that do not fit your criteria.

market value of home

Before you can make an informed decision about selling your home you often need to verify the Market Value of your Home. Market Value is defined as the price that you could expect to sell your Home on the open market given a normal period of exposure. Receiving an accurate estimate of the Market Value can be crucial if your next purchase depends on the equity in your existing home, or if your finances allow little margin for error. What then is the best method of obtaining the most accurate estimate of Market Value?

There are several routes to obtaining  an estimate of market value and a handful of methods which can be employed, most based on accepted appraisal practice. One method would be to simply hire a Certified Appraiser to complete a “market value” appraisal of your home.  Appraisers will prepare market value appraisals and are bound by guidelines to use similar comparable properties which have sold in the past six months. A market value appraisal is just that: an estimate of what the property would fetch on the open market and this typically is the most applicable. Other types of appraisals include income valuations, which are generally used in income producing property and replacement cost, which is applicable for insurance valuation. To have an appraisal prepared you would contact a certified appraiser from the Appraisal Institute of Canada.

Some homeowners base their value on their City Assessment and while this can provide a rough estimate, these values can range widely and should not be used as a reliable indicator or your current market value. City Assessments are based on a model of mass appraisal which estimates the broad value of your type of home based on similar homes in your surrounding area.

The third method would be to use the services of an experienced Real Estate Agent to evaluate the market value. The advantage of this method is that while Appraisers are bound to use historical methods to estimate the value of your home at the present time, an agent can draw upon the same broad base of comparable sales and can extrapolate into the the future based on current market conditions. This is very important in a rapidly changing market (of rising or declining values) where  you need to know the value based on the intricacies of a complex local market which is in flux. Using this local and up to the minute intelligence, an experienced agent can ensure that you extract every dollar of value and don’t leave any money on the table in an increasing market. Similarly when the market is declining, a good Agent will provide knowledge that will place you ahead of the market and allow you to sell before the market declines.
The disadvantage of using an agent is simply the nature of the industry where there are hundreds of agents with a variety of skill sets and competencies competing for your business. This makes it important that you use the most knowledgeable, experienced and trustworthy agent to ensure that the agent does not simply “buy your business” by giving you a favorable number that appeases you and then lets you down later when the market provides you the stark reality of your homes value.

Sano Stante Real Estate  provides premium real estate service to discerning Calgary area clientele for over 30 years. If you are thinking of selling, call us to receive an expert market evaluation of your home.

Difference between home staging and decorating

Staging vs Decorating

Staging is important to ensure your home stands out above others in a crowded real estate market – so what is the difference between decorating and staging?

Simply put, decorating is furnishing a home for you personally to live in and enjoy for your personal taste. Staging is decorating a home for the current market. Staging is about taking your personalized spaces and making them welcoming, calming and memorable, from a buyers perspective. There’s no doubt that you would furnish your home quite differently from how you would stage a home and this is often where Sellers put up some resistance, not wanting to lose their personalized touches and the things that they’ve become comfortable with.

The first step in any home staging process is always to de-cluter. This can sometimes take a bit of time and work because it requires letting go of possessions that you discover you no longer require or have room for. Enter each room with a fresh pair of eyes and envision the room empty. Now critically ask yourself what should belong in the room if you were staging it to make the room look its best. Then remove everything but these select pieces with an eye to being as minimal as possible.

Make sure to clean out all storage areas and closets leaving only seasonal clothes on the rack. Since you will be moving, start packing away items in boxes and store them in a corner of the garage or fill a container or Pod and then have it stored until you move into your next home.

Next step is to de-personalize the home by removing all personal photos and items. The rationale is to encourage the buyer to feel more comfortable envisioning themselves in the home. Often this stage uncovers some maintenance and paint that may be required to spruce up the house once the excess items are removed. Be sure to consult with a professional Stager, decorator or your real estate agent to ensure you make the best color choice for resale.

Often a seller may work to this point themselves and this is where they will bring in a professional to see how much further they should go in staging the home. This could involve swapping out furniture if the existing pieces do not work for the room, or installing particular pieces. The Stager will often rent these pieces or furniture for an initial design fee, plus a monthly rental cost.

It is clear that we decorate our homes for comfortable day-to-day living and that this is not always the homes best face when selling. So remember that although your home may be well decorated, it most often requires staging to show the home in it’s best light and to extract the best price from the market. Leave yourself enough time in the pre-selling period to ensure that your home is decluttered, de-personalized and staged properly. At Sano Stante Real Estate we include primary staging and coordinate advanced staging services for all our valued clients. Call us for the best real estate service.


multiple offer

How to win a multiple offer

While most Buyers dread being in a multiple-offer situation, with a little preparation Home Buyers can win a multiple offer situation without necessarily paying more money. To win that house you’ve been pining for, you’ll need a battle plan. Here are eight key steps to craft a winning scenario:

1. Address the  potential for a multiple-offer strategy right from the start   When you initially meet with your Realtor, address the  possibility of a multiple offer scenario on any property that you discover and understand your options. Here’s what you need to know:

First, you can enter the negotiation as if you are not competing. Second, if you really want the house and the value is apparent, you can offer close to list price with enticing terms. If you can’t live without this house and the list price is reasonable, then it’s smart to offer full price or somewhat above the asking price. The final option is to simply walk  away if a competitive offer scenario ensues. Run through and discuss these scenario’s and determine how you will handle them if it were to occur without the pressure and emotion of the actual moment upon you. This will provide you a solid framework to reflect on in the heat of the moment, if and when it does occur.

Remember that while you are calling the shots in the negotiation (ie: it will be your house and it’s your decision as to how the offer should be negotiated) you can benefit a tremendous amount from the experience and advice of your Agent who has experienced this event numerous times.

2. Be readily available to view properties and react  This point really attempts to preclude a multiple offer situation, but it is so important that it’s worth mentioning. Make sure you are flexible to view homes at odd times or earlier in the day than most people are able and this will give you an advantage in being the first to view new listings. If you do spot a great home that you know is right then do not delay in offering. You can always add a condition to ensure you haven’t overlooked something but acting quickly could get you the home you want before the competition sees it, and may preclude a multiple offer situation from the outset.

3. Insure a proper presentation   Find out which other Agents have written offers so you know what you are competing with. Your Agent should know the experience and track record of these other Agents. If the Listing Agent has written one of the competing offers then common protocol often requires that the office manager (or other third party representative) be present during the multiple-offer presentation, to ensure the Listing Agent does not unduly favor the presentation of his own offer.

4. Ensure you allow the right amount of time to keep the offers open    Prior to the time you present your offer, ensure that your Realtor enquires about the time parameters required to present the offers. You want to ensure that you have enough time to properly respond while not encouraging yet further offers to enter the competition allowing the negotiation to drag out over a long  period of time. Make sure that you are readily available to accept or counter the Sellers terms – this can make the difference and in some cases your Agent will ask you to wait in the car (or be nearby) while they are presenting your offer in case you need to make any last minute changes to get the deal.

5. Pre-Approval, not  just Pre-Qualification    A good way to be prepared for a multiple-offer situation is to obtain a pre-approval letter from their lender.  “Pre-approval” means that the lender has checked your credit and that you will be approved once the title work and the inspections are  complete. A pre-qualification letter means that the lender has looked at the  application but has not checked the borrowers’ credit. Consequently, you should try to obtain a  pre-approval, over a pre-qualification letter. Make sure that you have this in your file and include it when you present your offer. Better yet, eliminate the financing condition altogether if you are confident in obtaining your financing – first be sure to consult with you Realtor and Mortgage Broker/Banker on the risks associated with doing so.

6. Outflank the  competition    There are a number of ways that you can make your offer  stronger than your competitors’ offers. First, you can allow the seller to select the closing date.
Another approach is to shorten the due diligence periods.  In some circumstances, you may even eliminate the loan or inspection conditions entirely, (for example if you are tearing the home down) but be cautious in doing this and ensure that you consult with your Agent. Often Sellers will take an unconditional offer of less value than a higher offer that has conditions attached. Smart Sellers know that when the stars align and the have a multiple offer situation, this is the best situation they can expect and once everyone sober up from the party (and the property is longer on the market) they may not achieve nearly the same level of interest again

Also try to be flexible about any  special needs the seller may have, such as leasing back the property or taking  something such as the big-screen TV that is currently attached to the property.

7. Don’t be afraid to  ask    While there is no obligation for the Seller’s Agent to disclose what offers are on  the table, don’t be shy about asking. You could ask, “What has the seller turned down?” Whether or not you receive a response is debatable. Many times, especially  when their circumstances may have changed, sellers have ended up taking much less than what they turned down at an earlier date.

8. Be prepared not to get the property   No one likes losing a house that they want. In fact, some  people can become quite upset especially when emotions are involved or you have been looking for some time. Understand that there will always be another property around the corner that comes available and sometimes it’s even better than the one you lost.

Multiple offers can be challenging, but if you will follow  the simple guidelines above, you may be surprised how often you’re taking a closed transaction check to the bank. These suggestions just scrape the surface of the possibilities that multiple offer situations can offer. By far your best offense in these situations is to ensure that you have the best, most experienced Agent possible representing you. Since the markets which multiple offer situations flourish occur sporadically, having access to the broadest depth of experience possible will increase your opportunity for success. Sano Stante Real Estate group has over three decades of expert real estate marketing and negotiating skill that you can have on your side of the table. Call us today.

Condo Size

Measuring Condo Size

In Alberta condominiums are surveyed by the builder to determine the respective size of the common and private areas of the individual condo units. Developers have some latitude in deciding what to include in the registered size at the onset of the development and many will include areas such as storage, balconies (including outdoor) and parking areas in the calculation of
registered unit size. This registered size is then used to apportion the respective fees that condo owners pay for shared resources.

This all sounds fair enough, so why do some Buyers protest when they re-sell their condo and their real estate agent tells them that their home is smaller than they claim? The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB®) has rules for the measurement of homes so that all homes are represented equitably. These rules have been in place for decades and they provide consumers with an assurance that the home they are purchasing is accurately represented. One CREB® rule for condominiums states that the living area must be heated, interior living space.
Developers who sell their property through in-house sales representatives who are not members of CREB® are not required to abide by these guidelines. As a result, the living area may be represented to include those unheated areas that show the space larger than CREB® measurements would allow. When the homeowner calls a real estate agent to re-sell the condo they are often surprized to realize that their 1,000 s.f. condo is really only 900 s.f. when measured by
these MLS® System standards and that this standards is a requirement to list the property on CREBs® MLS® System.

CREB®, and their provincial counter-part AREA, have been working to protect the public from such issues by lobbying the Government to mandate the Surveyors to standardize the measurement of registered size across the province and eliminate the variance in representation. CREB® is also working to educate
real estate agent’s and the public to the issue and raise public awareness to ask the right questions before buying a condo.

To ensure that you are protected make sure you ask the Developer how the registered and unit size is calculated in the project. For the best protection and to assure yourself that you are buying right, enlist the services of a licensed real estate agent to represent you even if you are looking at new developments before you start shopping for a condo. Developers have fees built-in to the purchase to reimburse your real estate agent and this way you can have your real estate agent show you comparative new and used properties, help you determine the best lifestyle and value choices and even provide you with a market valuation of a property before you buy.

This is just one of the many reasons to ensure you call a real estate agent before you start shopping and ensure that you won’t be disappointed after the purchase.

home inspection

Home Inspection

When buying a new or used home, after negotiating the price and terms, it is typical to include a period of due diligence to ensure the Buyer that the home is sound beyond the initial appearance. This is when a Buyer will perform a home inspection of the property.

Typically a period of five to ten days is negotiated in the contract to allow for the Buyer to engage a qualified home inspector to inspect the property and produce a report. If the report is not satisfactory to the Buyer then the Buyer has the option of not proceeding with the purchase.

Sometimes the inspection uncovers issues that the Seller was unaware of and perhaps would have repaired if they were aware of the issue, especially if the issue would cause further damage if left unattended (such as a leaking toilet seal or roof leak). For issues such as these, it is common that the Seller would agree to repair them prior to closing date. This revision can be written into the agreement as a term of sale satisfying the Buyer to remove their (inspection) condition with an agreed holdback amount should the repairs not be performed by the closing date. If the issues are larger or the Buyer feels uncomfortable with the number or scope of issues uncovered then they would exercise their option to not proceed with the purchase.

If the parties are dealing in good faith, such issue should be substantial and not frivolous or repairable to exercise the option of cancelling the contract. However if the Buyer is satisfied with the inspection or new terms emerging from the inspection they are required to waive their condition within the prescribed due diligence period.

Inspections should not be used as a lever to renegotiate a new contract, except as noted above or if the issue is clearly an issue that could not have been discovered prior to an inspection and the issue is substantive. For example, an uneven floor in an early century home is not a valid reason to use for an inspection because this issue was readily apparent on the Buyer’s original visit without a home inspector. On the other hand, defects such as moisture concealed behind gypsum or mold in a crawlspace are issues that may not be readily visible on a first visit but discovered upon an inspection and are valid issues to raise with the Seller. A roof that has never leaked and is discovered to be 10 years old does not provide you an argument to renegotiate the contract in order to pro-rate the remaining value.

Remember to negotiate in good faith. The Seller is often in the same frame of mind as you the Buyer, so if issues are presented in the proper context a Seller will often thank you for discovering them so that he can repair them before they cause you both further grief and conclude the sale amicably. Sano Stante Real Estate has experts with over three decades of experience in Calgary. Call us.

Defects-in-homeYou’ve found your new home, negotiated a contract to purchase, completed your due diligence and finally moved in. Once you’ve settled in, you discover a defect. What should you do? Do you have any recourse?

Your first best course of action is to do everything possible to ensure that you uncover any possible defects at the earliest stage in the purchase process, so when engaging a real estate agent, ask about entering a Buyer Brokerage agreement to ensure that the real estate agent represents your interests as a client (and not a just customer). The difference here is that the real estate agent now has a higher duty to you and an obligation to not only disclose obvious defects but to seek all information that could uncover and warning signs. Also, the real estate agent under a Buyer Brokerage Agreement acts more as a consultant than a salesman and is ensured that when you locate the right home he will be compensated, so is naturally less anxious to sell you a home that is not ideal. This motivates the real estate agent to seek out defects to ensure his clients satisfaction rather than simply observe and point out the obvious. During the negotiation the Seller has an obligation to disclose any latent defects and it is often helpful to ensure that you ask the right questions to uncover and historical defects that were repaired (and could reoccur).

Second, when negotiating always ensure that you make any offer contingent on a home inspection. Obtain the services of a qualified home inspector by seeking recommendations from other satisfied buyers or your real estate agent. A proper home inspection can uncover most issues and also acts as a operating guide to your new home. To this point it is often helpful to attend the inspection so you can receive more valuable insight and instructions on how to operate and maintain your new home.

Now that you’ve done everything possible to  ensure an absence of defects ensure that the home is as viewed when you negotiated and that all appliances are operating properly at closing. Common terms require the home to be in the same state of repair as when you viewed the home so to best ensure this it can be helpful to take photos of the condition of the property when viewing or refer to the listing agents promotional material. Also ask to perform a walk-through inspection of the property just prior to closing (it should be written and included as a term of your contract). This often precludes issues by allowing the lawyers to negotiate a settlement if any issues occur but their is no expressed allowance in the contract to withhold monies so if the buyer will not rectify an issue the buyer still must perform their obligation to close and rely on civil action to find their remedy.

And  if all else fails legal action through the courts are your last recourse. The Seller is required to disclose any latent material defects that they are aware of and that may not be visible to a Buyer at the time of sale. Proving this can sometimes be a challenge so ensure that you are armed with well documented evidence to build your case and plenty of time (and money for legal fees) to wade through the courts.

Clearly the best prescription for defects is avoidance by ensuring you take the proper steps before your purchase your next home.

question-markWhat is the protocol for viewing listings that are not listed by my REALTOR®

This is the area where many well intended clients make an oops because they are “nice” and simply don’t know the protocol in the real estate world.

Here’s the scenario: You are driving around on a Sunday afternoon and see a home that just got listed (maybe the REALTOR® is putting the sign on the lawn). You stop and call the REALTOR®, enquiring about the home. Discovering that it’s the perfect home for your family, in the excitement of the moment you ask to view it. The REALTOR®says that he is two minutes away and so you view the home with the other REALTOR®. You may even decide to buy it on the spot signing an offer with that other nice REALTOR®who was so accommodating. Then you call the REALTOR®whom you’ve been working with for the past three months and announce with all the excitement of a new father that you found a home! You may hear a pause at the other end of the line while your REALTOR®recovers from the shock.

First let me say that this is not very common that it concludes this way, but many well intended buyers have called another REALTOR® to show them a property because they didn’t want to bother their REALTOR®. This simply has the effect of allowing the potential scenario described above or conversely wasting the time of the other REALTOR®after you tell them “Thanks, we love the property and will call our REALTOR®to write the offer”.

Best practice  is to select a REALTOR® that you are comfortable working with and know is looking after your best interest. Any service provider will work harder for you when they are certain that their efforts will ultimately be rewarded and your REALTOR® is no different relying that you will eventually buy a home through them.

Open Houses are an opportunity to view homes with or without your REALTOR® and there are no implied obligations when touring an open house. As a courtesy and to make your tour more comfortable, inform the hosting REALTOR® that you are working with “your” REALTOR®. They will appreciate knowing this because their job at an open house (besides selling the home) is to obtain new clients so this puts everyone at ease. If you wanted further updates on the home, they will contact your REALTOR®with the information for you.

Remember, that your REALTOR® knows your requirements best. If you see a new listing they are usually aware of it or are you best source to obtain the information fastest. Many times there will be some factor that precludes the property from being your best choice and your REALTOR® will inform you of that, saving both you and them valuable time.


First it is important to understand the various types of value that one can define for a property. These fall into several categories:

1. Replacement value

2. Investment value

3. Market value

Each of these valuations serve a purpose. For example, one would use replacement value for insurance valuations. If you were purchasing property for investment or  assessing a real estate portfolio in comparison to other investments then the investment value would be most useful. If you were looking to sell a property or determine the fair market value of your property then a market value assessment would be the most appropriate evaluation to look to.

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