The Real Scoop on Living in Nova Scotia

Here, you’ll find a flavourful mix of community, living local, and real estate news, from featured homes for sale, home styles and lifestyles to market reports and trends, and a wealth of information on what's happening.

For the love of heritage homes and the environment, we care about the community in which we choose to live, work, and play. We're part of a team of professionals who help the world discover the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada. We're here to help you make Nova Scotia your home-sweet-home or home away from home.

Ask us anything about our cross-country move from St. Albert, Alberta to a new adventure here in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

We're here to help and we’d love to chat with you!

May 13, 2022

April 2022 Kings County Real Estate stats

https://u.realgeeks.media/livingnovascotia/KingsCounty.stats_pdf.pdf

Posted in Community News
May 13, 2022

April 2022 East Hants Real Estate stats

https://u.realgeeks.media/livingnovascotia/105-HantsCountyEast.statspdf.pdf

Posted in Community News
May 13, 2022

April 2022 Halifax Real Estate stats

https://u.realgeeks.media/livingnovascotia/1-HalifaxCentralstats.pdf

Posted in Community News
Dec. 22, 2021

Simple Ways to Love the Planet

While Earth Day is celebrated in April, we believe in honouring Mother Nature 365/24/7.

So here's an #EarthDayEveryday tidbit.

As years go by and we experience more frequent natural disasters and learn about climate change and how important it is to take care of the planet for the benefit of all living things, we try to make little changes in our day-to-day. We have curated a baker’s dozen of simple budget-friendly ways that planet-conscious homeowners and aspiring first-time home buyers can save money AND help create a cleaner and greener world.

The best presents are often those that come as a surprise, are handmade with love, and are given by and in the presence of family and friends. Most importantly, gift giving shouldn’t break the budget or cost the earth.

A grandparent offers you a cash gift to help you make a down payment on your first home…

A neighbour brings you a warm plate of cookies to welcome you to the area…

It is your first holiday season in a new city or your first home and you want to deck the halls on a budget...

You are welcoming guests from across the miles or oceans…

From buying second-hand to choosing eco-friendly sustainable products, there are many ways to show you care about someone and the planet.

1. Repurpose a well-loved family heirloom or something from your closet that will bring joy

2. Buy gifts second-hand at an antique or thrift store to add to a friend’s collection

3. Make homemade consumable hostess gifts

4. Choose hand-crafted local gifts made of all-natural eco-friendly products

5. Get creative with wrapping with reuseable recyclable craft paper or gift bags

6. Make your own gift cards, gift tags, and repurposed fabric gift bags

7. Give the gift of your presence spend time together sharing memories and experiences 

This Year:

8. Start making a monthly donation to a charity of choice, one that keeps on giving

9. Pledge to start or continue shopping local

10. Reduce single-plastic use and keep this in mind at the grocery store

11. Switch to energy-efficient heating and lighting, windows and doors

12. Learn how to reduce water use and get a rain barrel or solar lights for the yard

13. Talk to your lenders and brokers about ethical banking and investing

Posted in #EarthDayEveryDay
July 23, 2021

Buying Your First Home: A 9-Step Homebuyer Guide

There are so many questions to consider before starting the home buying process and search. Working with experienced and qualified real estate professionals BEFORE you start your search will increase your understanding of the process and boost your confidence. What are you looking for in a home? What neighbourhood? Pre-qualified? What's your budget?

Questions for Consideration Before You Start Your Search

What Are You Looking for in a Home? A list of your must-haves, your wants, and your deal breakers can help you get an idea of what kind of a price range you could be expecting- especially when location comes into play.

Do You Qualify for a Mortgage? Before beginning the first time homebuyer process, first you need to know that it is financially feasible. Contact a mortgage broker and speak to them about the different options you have and how much of a mortgage you could potentially be pre-approved for; pre-approval is important because it will give you more leverage during the homebuying process.

What Type of Budget Are You Working With? A home is a hefty investment, and if you don't have enough equity to put down, you can find yourself trapped in a never-ending cycle of mortgage payments. Before deciding to purchase real estate, discuss your situation with finance and legal professionals who can advise on timing and how to make such an important investment.

Understanding How the Homebuyer Process Works: A Simple 9-Step Guide

1. Save Up Towards a Down Payment on Your Mortgage

The more money you can put down towards your mortgage, the less risk you present to lenders, the less you'll have to pay upfront (i.e. mortgage insurance), and the 

quicker you will realistically be able to have your home paid off in full.

2. Check Your Credit Score

If you aren't sure of your credit score, you should definitely get it checked because a good score is a must if you are looking to obtain any type of financial assistance when it comes to your purchase.

3. Visit Your Mortgage Broker to Discuss Your Options & Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is essential; in fact, some sellers won't even consider opening the doors to potential buyers who haven't been pre-approved.

4. Find a REALTOR®

When it comes to first time home-buying, who you know can be very important. Talk to friends, ask for referrals, read reviews, and decide on the one you trust the most. Be sure the professional you choose to work with has a good reputation as well as knowledge and experience in their field.

5. Make a List of Your Needs, Your Wants, and Your Deal Breakers

Knowing what you need, what you want, and what you absolutely cannot deal with will make your search must easier.

6. Start Your Search

Now is when you begin to look at properties that fit your needs, wants, and budget. When you find one you can see yourself living in, your Realtor® will discuss making an offer and negotiate on your behalf with your best interests in mind.

7. Seller Accepts Your Offer

They say not to judge a book by it's cover. The same can be said for homes. It is crucial to have the home inspected before removing any other conditions on your offer. Finding any defects could potentially help you save money on your original offer, or if the findings are significant enough, it can prevent you from making a purchase you’ll regret.

8. Condition Removal

Pending the results of the home inspection and review of any legal documents (real property report or condo documents, for example), the next step at this point in the home buying process is the condition removal. This is where some of the paperwork is signed and sent to your lender and legal representative.

9. The Closing

The boxes are packed, the movers are booked, and utility hookups have been arranged. At this stage, funds will be transferred and the lawyers will approve key release. Your Realtor® will then meet you with your new keys. Time to celebrate and enjoy your life in your first home!

Ready to Take the Next Step?

If you are beginning to think about buying a home, or have already started the first-time homebuyer process, make sure you are working with the right information by hiring informed professionals in each of their given fields. Buying your first home is an exciting milestone in your life. Make sure you put careful thought into your final decision. Give me a call today to get started. 

Posted in Buying
July 21, 2021

It Can Be Risky: The Reality of Investing in Real Estate

The money you make is only as important as what you choose to do with that money. One exciting option people have when it comes to investing is choosing to put their money into real estate. Real estate can be risky; that being said, when invested wisely, you could see huge returns on your original investment. Building and investing in real estate for short and long term rental income is on the rise in many Canadian markets.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Real Estate Investing?

Steady Stream of Income

Regardless of how much you put down on the house, it is extremely unlikely that you would ever find yourself with monthly expenses relating to your mortgage and other items that come along with home ownership that exceed what you are being paid by the tenants of the property. This means that all of the extra money is just profit (before taxes)

Home Appreciation

Unless you are buying real estate with a goal of flipping the property quickly for a quick profit, you are probably one of the more common investors who intends on maintaining your investment for a good length of time. Because of this, you are likely to benefit from any profits from the appreciation of the home over time. 

Financial Security and Freedom

From home appreciation to tenant payments to tax write offs, done properly, real estate investing can provide you with both financial security and financial freedom. Once the foundation is planted for your investment, the seeds begin to spring roots, the roots grow and you benefit from being able to sit back and enjoy watching your investment pay off.

Simple Ways to Invest in Real Estate

Whether you are new to real estate investing or simply looking for the most hassle-free way to invest your extra money, here are some of the easiest ways to invest in the real estate market:

House Flipping

While it is hard to consider house flipping easy, it certainly has its upsides and can be a simple way to see a return on your investment. With house flipping, you purchase a fixer-upper with the intention of renovating it, then re-selling it for a profit.

Own for Rental Income

When you own and rent out property, you simply purchase the home, then find a tenant to occupy it for you. As long as you can continue to keep the property occupied, you will continue to see revenue from your investment.

Investment Trusts

Lastly, we come to investment trusts. This is the stock portion of real estate investing that involves no actual investment into tangible property. REITs (real estate investment trusts) allow you to grow a real estate portfolio without ever having to actually make a real estate transaction.

One Size Does Not Fit All

When it comes to investing your finances, there is no magic formula or one right way that works for everyone all of the time. If there were, everyone would be doing it! That being said, there is a reason so many people have chosen to move in the direction of real estate investing and that is because it works, if you put the effort into learning the industry. Becoming a confident investor requires skill and practice, not secrets and tricks. If you have made the decision to invest in real estate and are ready to look at properties, give me a call today.

Posted in Investing
July 16, 2021

Buying Your First Home: 6 Things You Want to Avoid

The day you buy your first home is one of the most important days of your life. It can be exhilarating, liberating, and terrifying all at the same time. Regardless of your age, the purchase of your first home will likely be one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, so don't go through the process alone and unprepared. Knowing what to avoid when buying a home can literally be a lifesaver.

What to Avoid When Buying Your First Home

Going Through the Process Alone

This is probably the worst thing you could do when you go to buy your first home. Understandably, you are trying to watch your wallet when buying a home. Finding the right real estate agent is a good first step with no added cost. They will help you guide you through the process of buying your first home.

Starting the Process with Poor Credit

If you are looking to buy a home, you should know that you have a good credit rating, credit history, and good odds of getting a low interest rate on your mortgage. Unless you plan on paying cash in full for your first house (and let's face it, you probably aren't one of the very few people who can actually do this), you should wait until you know your credit score and what type of interest rates you could be looking at once you obtain your mortgage.

Making Rash Decisions

For most people, their first home is intended to be a long-term investment. Don't rush. If you haven't found a home you love and can picture yourself living in for a lengthy period, just keep looking! The last thing you want is to buy your home only to shortly realize it wasn't what you were looking for originally. A good real estate agent will be patient with you until you find the home that you love.

Ignoring the Location

Location can make or break a real estate transaction for many reasons. You may have found your ideal home, but if it isn't located in the right place, it just won't work out. Things to consider include your commute to work if you have one, local school options if you have children or are planning a family in the future, crime rates in the area, as well as the reputation and walkability of the local community.

Skipping Steps

Even if you happen to work in the real estate industry, don't be foolish enough to skip necessary steps like finding a reputable agent, hiring a good appraiser, and insisting on a home inspection. Reputable agents can often get you better deals, have access to more history of homes especially condos, and are able to find ways to gain access to listings before they are on the market. Good appraisers can assure you and your lender that what the seller is asking for is aligned with market value. Home inspectors will assess the house you are buying to make sure that it is a well-built house free of any safety hazards, costly repairs, and is up to building code.

Avoid Disaster

As you can see, there are many things to look out for when shopping for a home; especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. Take precautions, do enough research, and talk to trusted professionals in the industry before you make any final decisions so you can avoid investing in a potential disaster. If you’re in the market for a new home give me a call today to get started!

Posted in Buying
July 9, 2021

A Walk Through the First-Time Home Buyer Process

Are you a first-time homebuyer? Feeling overwhelmed or unsure about the process on which you are about to embark? If so, you are not alone. That is why we have compiled a detailed walkthrough of the first-time home buyer process and other blog posts to guide you from choosing a team of professionals to support you and then choosing your first home-sweet-home.

A 7-Step-by-Step Guide for First-Time Homebuyers

1. Gather Your Financials

Before you start the homebuying process and an online search, gather details on your finances, most importantly, your credit history and credit score. This information will determine how much of a mortgage a lender can approve and what interest rate you can secure.

2. Ask for Recommendations for Professionals

When looking for a home it is best to work with trusted professionals. You will need to work closely with your bank and financial advisor, a real estate agent, a home appraiser, and a home inspector. You may also engage a contractor to estimate improving the condition of the home or condo that catches your eye.

3. Speak With Lenders

After getting referrals for trusted builders and realtors, it is time to talk to your bank and financial advisor, and a mortgage broker who can access all lenders. They will help you determine how much you can borrow and what credit options you have. You may require a co-signer or qualify to borrow from your RRSPs (Home Buyer Plan). You may learn your credit score is weak or need a larger down payment to qualify for a mortgage, or the opposite… you may qualify for more than you had originally thought. It’s important to compare mortgage rates and repayment terms to find the best fit for your situation.

4. Hire an Agent

Now that you know what budget you are working with, it is time to hire a real estate agent and begin looking at homes. It can be helpful to make a list of must-haves, wants, and negotiable features, so you can narrow your search by budget and neighbourhood quickly.

5. Make an Offer

You know your financial, are saving for your down payment and other moving costs and are pre-approved by now. You've toured several homes. You've found a few you are interested in and can picture yourself living or investing in. This is when you are ready to make an opening offer. At this point, the seller and your buyer representative will negotiate the purchase price and any conditions you’ve expressed like possession date. A homeowner may accept your offer, or come back with a counter offer.

6. Get the Home Inspected and Appraised 

At this stage, buyer and seller agents are in constant communication with their clients going back and forth to agree on a final purchase price and answering questions you have. There is usually a pending period where the offer is subject to financing and home inspection. Your bank or lender may insist on an appraisal to confirm fair market value of the home aligns with the purchase price. The last thing you and they want is to make a poor investment.

7. Close the Sale

Once the offer has been accepted, the home has been inspected, and everything is as expected, the last phase is patiently waiting for the possession date and key release. During this time, you will provide information to your lawyers and make arrangements for utility hookups and home insurance, as well as preparing to move.

ProTip: Be Confident and Prepared

Buying your first home may end up being the biggest investment you make in your entire lifetime and it can be overwhelming. That’s okay. We are here to help make the process easy and enjoyable for you every step of the way. If you’re looking to find your first home or an investment property,  please contact me today and let's have a conversation about how and where to get started.

Posted in Buying
July 8, 2021

Why Use an Agent to Sell Your Home

Selling your home is a big deal. You deserve and want an experienced real estate professional on your side. Doing so will save you both time and money. Along with helping you stay objective, representing your best interests, guiding you throughout the selling process, here are reasons you want a real estate agent you trust to list, market and sell your home.

1. Real Estate Agents Possess Overall Market Knowledge

As you begin the process of selling your home you want to have an expert that can guide you through the process. A real estate agent has access to a variety of data about recent home sales in your neighbourhood, which will allow you to price your home accordingly. Along with this agents can access your local MLS. Your home will be included in the MLS, so agents helping home buyers can be shown the various details.

2. Real Estate Agents Are Trained in the Many Legalities of Selling a Home

Selling your home is one of the largest transactions you’ll make, so make sure you don’t miss a step in the process. During the selling process there is tons of paperwork that needs to be completed. A real estate professional ensures selling your home will go smoothly and will also be able to alert you should problems arise in which you need to consult with a lawyer.

3. Real Estate Agents Are Able to Network & Coordinate Showings

Putting your home for sale cannot become your full time job--it will be difficult to get home from work for showings, make flyers, etc. A real estate agent becomes your marketing specialist and will be able to run open houses, set up showings, and other marketing activities to get your house seen by interested buyers. Agents are typically connected to other agents, so are able to provide referrals that help you get a quick sale.

4. Real Estate Agents Assist with Pricing to Sell, Negotiation, & Inspections/Diligence 

Negotiating is tricky. While you may think it would be easier to not have a middle person (the buyer and seller real estate agents) the negotiation is not always easy. Be prepared. An agent acting on your behalf in the process prevents any disagreements that could result in a deal being pulled from the table. Once you are under contract, the agent will have many recommendations to assist with any final details to get you to the closing table.

Selling A Home Is A Process

Selling your precious home can be a long process that ends in a significant financial transaction. A real estate professional works for you at every stage and step in the process. Trust is a must and we would be honoured to serve you. An agent's expertise and experience can help you navigate any rough waters and keep your best interests and long term happiness at home in mind. Please give us a call today if you are looking for a fair market evaluation and listing your home.

Posted in Selling
July 1, 2021

When Should You Buy Your First Home?

Buying your first home is usually the biggest investment you will make in your life (well, unless of course you end up moving up to a bigger home, but still). It is certainly not a decision you should take lightly, which is why there are several things to consider before purchasing your first (or next) home. And July 1 is a common possession/moving day in many Canadian provinces. This may influence all four of the B-E-S-T factors to consider before and during a home purchase on or around this date.

B-E-S-T Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Home

B = BUDGET, The Budget You Have to Work With

The number one factor that will play into figuring out the ideal time to purchase a home comes down to your current financial situation. What is your budget? How much do you have in savings? What do you have set aside for a down payment? What are the qualifying mortgage and stress test rates? All of these are important things to consider before purchasing your first home.

E = EXPENSES, The Costs Involved in Buying a Home (and Moving)

You aren't just going to need to factor into your budget how much you can afford towards a home, but you will also have to consider the costs associated with realtor fees, home inspector fees, home appraiser fees, as well as closing costs. These expenses can quickly add up and leave you behind on your original budget.

S = SPECIALISTS, The Team of Real Estate Industry Professionals Who Can Help

The real estate market is constantly changing and some transactions are trickier than others. Sometimes you can get a house valued around $500,000 for a fraction of the cost; other times you may find yourself in a multiple, unconditional offer bidding war because the market is on fire. Paying attention to the ebbs and flows of the real estate market, speaking with professionals in the industry about when the best time is to buy (and sell) can save (make) you money.

T = TIME, The Time of Year and Your Time Frame

Believe it or not, supply and demand for homes varies with the seasons. The biggest months for home purchases are in between May and September. This is to avoid having to switch school districts mid-year if you have school-aged children or young adults nearing graduation in your home. Because of these factors, home prices vary throughout the year as well. By taking advantage of less popular months to buy, you could land a better deal.

Whether or not you are prepared to plant your roots somewhere for awhile and financial market conditions can also influence your home buying and selling timing.  

If you are purchasing your first home to live in, as opposed to purchasing it as an investment, it is important that you buy a home somewhere you can see yourself living for a decent period of time. The last thing you'd want is to close on a home only to decide shortly after that the home, neighbourhood, location, or size does not suit you.

Your First Home is a Big Move!

At the end of the day, you are the only one who knows if home ownership is something you are ready for, both financially and physically. Home ownership is demanding. It takes a lot of work, diligence, and money to maintain. Think long and hard about whether or not you are ready to delve into the world of home ownership before beginning the process, and if and when you feel like you are ready for your first home, it would be an honour to support you and ensure you enjoy the journey!

Posted in Buying