Another REALTOR® Says They’ll Buy My House. Should I Be Wary?

Wary might not be the best word, but you do need to make sure you understand the details of the offer. This type of offer is a guaranteed sales agreement, and while there is nothing illegal or wrong with a real estate company offering this kind of arrangement, it is rarely the best option for consumers.

In a guaranteed sales agreement, a real estate brokerage agrees to buy a piece of real estate from a seller at a previously agreed upon price, if it hasn’t sold to someone else before a certain date. Only real estate brokerages can offer these agreements, not individual real estate professionals.

What sellers need to keep in mind in these arrangements is that the real estate brokerage wants to minimize its risk.

For example, it’s rare that a guaranteed purchase price will be based on the property’s listing price or the property’s market value. In most cases, the brokerage calculates the guaranteed purchase price using a formula where legal fees, carrying cost, and commission on the resale are subtracted from the purchase price. This minimizes the brokerage’s risk, but it can also greatly reduce how much that seller receives for their home.

Brokerages that offer guaranteed sales programs are required to have policies for those programs. Those policies should include how the brokerage sets the guaranteed sales price and who is in control of the property’s listing price during the listing period; it may not be the seller. It’s not unusual for a guaranteed sales agreement to include a clause that requires a seller to lower their listing price during the term of the listing. Remember, your real estate brokerage wants to minimize its risk. It prefers to sell your property to a buyer rather than to use the guaranteed sales agreement, and lowering the listing price can sometimes help that happen.

Now Is the Time to Test for Dangerous Radon Gas

Did you know that 1 in 6 homes tested in Western Canada has dangerously high levels of Radon Gas?1 Radon is radioactive gas that occurs when radium in soil and rock breaks down – it is invisible, odorless and tasteless but can accumulate to unnaturally high and dangerous levels in our homes. Radon gas emits radiation that damages your DNA and can damage your lungs with long-term exposure. It is a leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers with chronic exposure. Children and babies are more sensitive than adults as they breathe 2-3 times faster than adults.2 Recent public awareness campaigns have been urging homeowners to test radon levels in their homes.

October through May is the best time to accurately test for radon. During spring and summer months, windows are opened more and increased air flow in your homes prevents accurate readings. During fall and winter when homes are more sealed, radon gas can accumulate to much higher levels than in the outdoors, potentially posing a health hazard to you and your loved ones. A simple and inexpensive test with a small “alpha track” device conducted over a period of 90+ days and then sent for a lab analysis can accurately reveal if radon gas levels are within acceptable levels in your home. If elevated levels above 200 Bq/m3 (Becquerels per cubic meter) are detected, Health Canada recommends mitigation.

Effective mitigation systems can lower radon in your home to safe levels and usually involves piping and a fan unit to remove gas coming from the ground through the foundation. Work can usually be completed in 1-2 days with a cost at around $3,500 (about the cost of a small furnace or A/C unit) — well worth the peace of mind, so you and your family can breathe easy.

If you haven’t already tested your home for radon, you can purchase a test kit and learn more by visiting

1, 2 Source:

~Anita Lamarche, REALTOR®, CIR Realty 403.818.9623

Protect Your Investment – Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

With the changing weather and cooler Canadian climate, our focus often shifts indoors. But before we get too cozy in front of the fireplace, it’s important to take time to do some yard clean up and ensure your home is ready for Fall and Winter. And if you have rental properties, taking the time to inspect them is extra “insurance” to protect your investment. When the frost comes, remember to turn off valves to outside taps and irrigation systems (some require annual service). And take a look at this handy info graphic, shared courtesy of Keyspire, to ensure your home or properties are both safe and sound.

First-time Home Buyer Incentive Program to Boost Affordability of Home Ownership

Starting September 2nd, first-time buyers (and previous homeowners impacted by marital breakdowns) can apply for a new government incentive. The aim of the program is to help make home ownership more affordable by reducing monthly mortgage costs.

Here are a few highlights of the incentive program:

Down payment:

•Buyers must have a minimum of 5% down (from their own resources, including borrowing from their RRSPs)
•Government will top up down payment another 5% (for resale homes) or 10% (for new construction) as shared equity mortgage (can be paid back at any time as a lump sum or must be paid back within 25 years). Although no interest is charged, the amount to be repaid will appreciate (or depreciate) with the total value of your home. An appraisal may be required at time of payout to establish value.

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Tips If You’re Thinking of Selling

Whether you’re dreaming about moving up, downsizing or retiring in another city or abroad, selling your home takes preparation in order to get top dollar for your property.  Here are a few tips to get an edge over other sellers:

  • Consider a Pre-Inspection – this will highlight any major or minor findings and give you an opportunity to proactively do some repairs or minor maintenance.  Plus you can have this ready for buyers along with receipts for things like a new water tank.  And don’t forget to replace your furnace air filters too!
  • Ensure your Real Property Report is current and reflects all property  improvements such as decks, fences, garages, window wells, any sheds over 10 square meters, etc.  If there are any encroachments, you will have an opportunity to contract with the City and avoid delays at closing that could potentially cause a sale to collapse
  • Have permits for major work such as basement finishing, suites, furnace or Air conditioning installations  – when in doubt, contact City Planning & Development.  A lack of permits must be disclosed and may be a red flag for many buyers.
  • Clean, clean, clean! A clean home always appears better maintained and is more appealing
  • Landscaping: ensure your yard is tidy and well kept, trees/shrubs are pruned and entry is attractive – curb appeal really does matter and you want the first impression to lead to a viewing of your property
  • Lighting: ensure rooms are well lit, all bulbs are working and fixtures  are clean.  Consider replacing old/dated fixtures.
  • Consider a Staging Consultation – this is a service I offer as part of my marketing package to help sellers strategically declutter and open up spaces while adding pops of colour/interest to make your rooms and the online presence of your property (photos and videos) draw in buyers while de-personalizing spaces so they can see themselves and in your home.  Whether you do the work yourself or hire a stager, it is time and money well spent.  A staged home typically sells faster and for more money.
  • Consult with a trusted real estate adviser – learn about market conditions in your area, find out what homes in your neighborhood are actually selling for, get advice to prioritize repairs or maintenance you should consider doing before selling, plan timing and timelines to be on market and ensure there is a solid marketing plan to expose your home to the most qualified buyers and agents

For more tips, visit my website  blog “How to Get Top Dollar for your Home” – or call me for a no-obligation consultation.

How to Avoid the Top 8 Home Inspection Mistakes

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home. Once you’ve had an offer accepted on your dream house, you’ll probably be anxious to move in. However, before you make a significant financial commitment, it’s best to know exactly what you’re buying.

When you hire a home inspector, you get a professional, in-depth examination of the property’s structures and systems. It’s a worthwhile investment that can save you money in the long run, either by warning you away from a bad purchase or by providing a list of deficiencies you can use to negotiate with the sellers.

The inspector’s report will also list minor repairs that, if made, will help to maintain your home over the long term. Additionally, a good inspector can often predict the standard life expectancy of your roof, HVAC, and other big-ticket items so you can start planning for their eventual replacement.

However, many buyers make mistakes during the inspection process that cost them time and money and lead to unnecessary stress. Avoid these eight common buyer blunders to minimize your risk, protect your investment, and give yourself peace of mind and confidence in your new home purchase.

MISTAKE 1: Skip Your Own Inspection

Many buyers rely on their home inspector to point out issues with the property. However, by conducting your own visual assessment before you submit an offer, you can factor expected expenses into the offer price. Or, if you suspect major problems, you may choose to move on to a different property altogether.

Examine the walls and ceilings. Are there suspicious cracks, which could point to a foundation issue? Any discoloration? Yellow spots can indicate water damage, while black spots are typically mold. If there’s a basement, look for powdery white deposits along the walls and slab, which can result from water seepage.1

To assess the plumbing, start by turning on a bathroom sink or tub, then flushing the toilet. Check for a drop in water pressure or a gurgling sound coming from the pipes. You can also try running the water in sinks and tubs for several minutes to test for drainage issues. Peak underneath sinks to spot signs of leaks or drain pipes that go into the floor instead of the wall.1

Look for fogged or drafty windows, which may need replacing. Examine the roof for signs of cupped, curled, or cracked shingles. Check siding, decks, and other wooden structures for evidence of rot.

Overall, does the home appear to be well maintained? Unless it’s a highly-competitive seller’s market, consider the overall condition of the property BEFORE you submit an offer. Work with your real estate agent to factor in repairs and updates you know you’ll need to make when you determine your offer price.

MISTAKE 2: Hire the Cheapest Inspector

We all love to save money, but not all inspectors are created equal. Before you hire one, do a little research.2 You may even want to start shopping for an inspector before you complete your home search. Inspection periods are typically short, so it never hurts to be prepared.

You can start by asking around for recommendations. Check with friends and family members, as well as your real estate agent. Then contact at least two or three inspectors so you can compare not only price but also levels of experience and service.

Ask about their background, years of experience, and the number of inspections they have completed. Verify their certifications and credentials, and make sure they carry the proper insurance. Find out what is (and what isn’t) covered in the inspection and if they utilize the latest technology.

Ask to see a sample report so you can compare the style and level of detail provided. Finally, make sure you feel confident in the inspector’s abilities and comfortable asking him/her questions.

MISTAKE 3: Miss Attending the Inspection

Make every effort to be on-site during the inspection. Buyers who aren’t present during their inspection miss out on a great opportunity to gather valuable information about their new home.

If can attend the inspection, don’t spend all your time picking out paint colors or chatting with your new neighbors. Instead, use your time there to shadow the inspector. It’s the perfect chance to find out where everything is located, ask questions, and see first-hand what repairs and updates may be needed.3

Of course, if you do choose to tag along with your inspector, exercise good judgment. Don’t get in the way, become a distraction, or do anything to jeopardize your (or the inspector’s) safety.

If you can’t make it to the inspection, ask if you can schedule a time to meet in person or speak by phone to go over the report in detail. It will give you an opportunity to ask questions or request clarification about issues in the report you don’t fully understand.

MISTAKE 4: Skim Over the Report

Inspection reports can be long and tedious, and it can be tempting to skim over them. However, buyers who do this risk missing crucial information.

Instead, you should read over the report carefully, so you don’t miss anything significant. Now is the time to address any areas of concern. You have a limited window of time to request repairs or negotiate the selling price, so don’t squander it.

Your inspector may also flag some minor items that you wouldn’t typically expect a seller to fix. However, ignoring these small issues can sometimes lead to bigger problems down the road. Make sure you read everything in the report so you can take future action if needed.

MISTAKE 5: Avoid Asking Questions

Some buyers are too embarrassed to ask questions when there’s something in the inspection report they don’t understand. Afraid they might look foolish, they avoid asking questions and end up uninformed about important issues that could impact their home purchase.

The reality is, questions are expected. You hired your inspector for their professional expertise, so don’t be shy about tapping into it. For example, you might ask:

● Would you get this issue fixed in your own home?

● How urgent is it?

● What could happen if I don’t fix it?

● Is this a simple issue I could fix myself?

● What type of professional should I call?

● Can you estimate how much it would cost to make this repair?

● How much longer would you expect this system/structure/appliance to last?

● What maintenance steps would you recommend?

Don’t bother asking your inspector if you should buy the property, because he/she won’t be able to answer that question for you. Instead, use the information provided to make an informed decision. A skilled real estate agent can help you determine the best path.

MISTAKE 6: Expect a Perfect Report

Some buyers get scared off by a lengthy inspection report. But with around 1600 items on an inspector’s checklist, you shouldn’t be surprised if yours uncover a large number of deficiencies.4 The key is to understand which problems require simple fixes, and which ones will require extensive (and costly) repairs.

Your real estate agent can help you decide if and how to approach the sellers about making repairs or reducing the price. Whatever you do, try to focus on the major issues identified in the inspector’s report, and don’t expect the sellers to address every minor item on the list. They will be more receptive if they perceive your requests to be reasonable.

MISTAKE 7: Forgo Additional Testing

There are times when an agent or inspector will recommend bringing in a specialist to evaluate a potential issue.5 For example, they may suggest testing for mold or consulting with a roofing expert.

Some buyers get spooked by the possibility of a “red flag” and decide to jump ship. Or, in their haste to close or desire to save money, they choose to ignore the recommendation for additional testing altogether.

Don’t make these potentially costly mistakes. In some cases, the specialist will offer a free evaluation that takes minimal time to schedule. And if not, the small investment you make could provide you with peace of mind or save you a fortune in future repairs.

MISTAKE 8: Skip Re-inspection of Repairs

Most buyers request receipts to prove that repairs have been correctly completed. However, it’s always prudent to go a step further and have negotiated repairs re-evaluated by your inspector or another qualified professional, even if there’s an additional charge.6

While the majority of sellers are forthcoming, some will try to save money by cutting corners, hiring unlicensed technicians, or doing the work themselves. A re-inspection will help ensure the repairs are completed properly now, so you aren’t paying to redo them later.

To avoid having to go back to the sellers, be specific when requesting repairs. Identify the problem, how repairs should be completed, who should complete the work, and how the repairs will be verified.7

Some buyers prefer to avoid this step altogether by completing the work themselves. They either request that the seller fund the repairs or reduce the selling price accordingly. Whichever path you choose, protect yourself and your investment by ensuring the work is done properly.


A home inspection can reduce your risk and save you money over the long-term. But to maximize its effectiveness, it must be done properly. Avoid these eight common home inspection mistakes to safeguard your investment.

While these are some of the most common missteps, there are countless others that can trip up home buyers, cost them time and money, and cause undue stress. Fortunately, we have the skills and experience to help you avoid the potential pitfalls.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, I can help you navigate the inspection and all the other steps in the buying process … typically at no cost to you! Tap into my expertise to make the right decisions for your real estate purchase. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation!

~Anita Lamarche, Realtor ®

CIR Realty



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Red Flags for Buying a House

If every transaction and home was squeaky clean, then we really wouldn’t need lawyers, home inspectors, REALTOR®’s and other professionals to assist and protect us throughout the process. There are hundreds of things that can be problems in a house or with the deal itself. Below are a few red flags that should pique your attention when buying a home..

PLEASE NOTE: These items are only red flags. They are not necessarily problems in their own right, but should trigger a little more research.

Current Owner Assumed Their Mortgage – Assumable mortgages have been an easy way for unscrupulous people to purchase homes without using a bank.

Low Down Assumable Offered – The terms of the mortgage may be horrible, or the house may be over priced. • Stained Basement Items – Water stains on any item in the basement should be questioned.

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How to Maximize Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Now that summer is finally here and we spend more time outdoors, our attention turns more toward keeping up our home exterior and improving our landscaping. Here are some ways you can add to the perceived value of your house without breaking the bank on a completely new landscape:

  • Wash the windows and siding on the front of the house.
  • Paint window and door frames on the front of the house if they’re outdated.
  • Clean and straighten your porch light.
  • Clean your eave troughs, and make sure the downspouts are straight.
  • Clean up tree and shrub wells by removing debris and edging a clean line around them.
  • Add fresh mulch around the bases of trees and shrubs.
  • Add fresh black soil and light mulch to the top of gardens.
  • Prune and trim trees, shrubs and perennials for a clean kept look.
  • Edge out the front of your lawn to create a clean line.
  • Perform regular lawn maintenance – mowing, weeds and fertilizing.
  • Level and clean all of your walkway stones.
  • Add some solar lights for night time visitors.
  • Make sure your address is clearly visible from the street!