Archive for November, 2011

Keeping the End in Mind

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Keeping the End in Mind | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamNo matter how short or long a time you spend in your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home, there will come a time when you leave it.  If you live in it long enough, it will need to be refreshed, updated, and renovated.  The question is:   Do you renovate it just for yourself, or do you renovate with a sales target in mind?

 The best answer to this question is to think about both goals.  Renovate it for your own taste, pleasure and functional use, but don’t forget that your home will eventually go back on the market and may need to appeal to tastes broader than your own. If you’re looking to maximize the value in your home, both for your own use now and for future resale, what sorts of renovations are the best ones to undertake?

 Ergil & Jackson Appraisals Ltd. in their excellent Home Renovation Guide, 2010 edition, give this advice:


According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada  and various professionals we’ve consulted, the following are a few things to keep in mind before you get started:

Invest in your kitchen!

About 10‐15% of the overall value of the home should be spent on the kitchen. If you don’t plan on selling for another 5 years, spending 15‐25% more on it today will give you about a 44% higher recapture depending on the quality of the renovations. For example, buyers need afunctionally designed, spacious, low maintenance kitchen. Scratch‐resistant, durable materials such as granite countertops and high‐quality appliances add tremendous value and have timeless appeal.

The bathroom is next!

You can expect up to a 60‐80% (and in some cases up to 100%) contribution to value on a well designed bathroom even if that requires a complete relocation of fixtures or walls. From floorto ceiling, new tiles, light fixtures and cabinetry to create one’s own personal spa is especiallyappealing. Luxury fixtures to enhance pampering may include water jets, soaker tubs and double sinks in the ensuite bathroom.

Don’t forget the floors and walls!

The buyer wants a home that’s ready to move into.  Smooth walls with quality, neutral paints will make spaces seem larger and will give you an 80‐110% recapture. Carpeting should be limited to bedrooms, if at all. Hardwood and tiles not only benefit in allergen reduction but add elegance as well.  Good flooring that flows from room to room and ties in with baseboards, cabinetry, walls and so on, can provide a 50‐75% better contribution to value than low‐cost, mediocre flooring.

Spend the money!

As the saying goes “You get what you pay for”.  Over the past year the cost of materials may not have increased dramatically but the cost of labour is certainly rising. Quality craftsmanship and insuring a job well done is key.  Nothing is more costly than having to do it twice or replace it early.  The importance of using the highest quality materials cannot be stressed enough.

Remember: High‐quality, easy maintenance, environmentally conscious products and timeless designs are all essential to ensuring value‐added appreciation with the best contribution to value possible.

Thanks to Ergil & Jackson for allowing me to quote portions of their document.  Please check out their full Home Renovation Guide for plenty of good information and advice.

Wondering what your home is worth in today’s market?  I’d be happy to do a free Home Evaluation for you.  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.


Renovating Before You Sell

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Renovating Before You Sell | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIs it a good idea to tackle major renovations just before you put your home on the market to make your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home more attractive to buyers? 

Some time ago, I posted a blog entry on this topic (Should You Renovate Before You Sell?  Learn Which Home Renovations Give You the Best Return), giving some details about the costs of various renovations and how much, if anything, those renovations might add to the value of your home when it came time to sell.  This information came from Henderson & Butt’s excellent 2009 Home Renovation Guide.  Well, Henderson & Butt are now Ergil & Jackson Appraisals Ltd., and the 2010 edition of the Home Renovation Guide offers even more great information to help you keep or increase the value of your home.  Many thanks to Ergil and Jackson for allowing me to use information from their guide in my blog posts.

I’ve revised my original blog post to include more current information courtesy of Ergil and Jackson.  To view my revised article, please visit my new blog on Active Rain.   

Are there topics you’d like me to discuss in these blog posts?  I’d love to hear from you.  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.


Fire That Old Furnace!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Fire That Old Furnace! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamMost of us don’t give much thought to the furnaces in our Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County homes, as long as they keep us warm through the long Alberta winters.  An article in the October 29, 2011 edition of the Edmonton Journal, entitled “A new furnace can save money, and lives”, might just give you reasons to replace the old workhorse in your basement.

The article points out that, while the initial cost of the newer high-efficiency furnaces is a little steep [expect to pay around $5000 for the purchase and installation of a new, high quality furnace], you’ll save plenty of money over time.  A quote from the article:

“Natural gas prices have more than tripled in the past 10 years and many analysts are forecasting further price increases. Fortunately, the efficiency ratings of new furnaces have also been increasing. Most furnaces installed in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, were only 60-to 70-per-cent efficient, and very old furnaces can be less than 50-per-cent efficient. A continuously burning pilot light can decrease these efficiencies by another five per cent. New furnaces are 90-to 95-per-cent efficient. They do not have pilot lights and can reduce your heating costs by up to 40 per cent.”

But it’s not just money you’ll be saving.  Older furnaces are not very good at filtering dust and allergens from the air in your home.  What’s more, older furnaces can emit dangerous levels of carbon monoxide within your home.

My assistant recently replaced the furnace in her 30-year-old Spruce Grove home and had this to say about the experience:  “We knew it was time.  We’d been reading and hearing a lot about how much better the new furnaces were.  Our old one was still pumping out the heat, with no trouble, really, but we knew it couldn’t go on forever.  What surprised us was how much better the air circulated through the house with the new furnace – far fewer cold spots.  We used to have to wrap up in blankets for TV watching in our basement family room, or turn on the gas fireplace, but no more!  The basement is as cozy as the rest of the house.  But what really sold us on the new furnace was something we weren’t expecting at all.  Our son always gets stuffed up and sneezy when he comes to visit because he’s allergic to cats, but the new furnace has taken all of that away.  Now, that’s impressive, and definitely made us happy about our purchase!”

It’s not too late to replace your old furnace before the really nasty winter weather hits.  Learn more about the benefits of the new high-efficiency furnaces by checking out “A new furnace can save money, and lives”.

Comments or questions about this article?  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at or contact me here.



The Home Rental Market in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The Home Rental Market in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamThe reasons for renting a home, rather than buying one, are as varied as the people looking for a place to live so it’s probably no surprise that there is always a market for such properties.  People moving into an area may choose to rent while they get a feel for the local real estate market.  If you are a renter, here are a few things to know about houses for rent in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain for Fall 2011.

“What can I expect to pay for rent these days?”

At the moment, a standard 3-bedroom house in Spruce Grove or Stony Plain rents for $1300 to $2000 per month.  As with purchased real estate, factors such as location, age of the home, and features like a garage will determine price.  A newer half duplex or townhouse may rent for $1300 to $1600, while an apartment-style condo may run $1200 to $1600.  A 2 or 3 bedroom apartment may cost upwards of $950 per month, while a basement suite may run around $700 per month.  In general, rents are comparable to those in Edmonton, or possibly a little cheaper.

“What will be included in my rent?”

If you’re renting a detached house, expect to pay for all services yourself.  If you’re looking for an apartment, usually water/sewer services and heat will be included in your rent; you’ll be responsible for power, phone, TV, internet services, and the like.  This applies to condos as well, with the landlord usually picking up the tab for condo fees.  Basement suite rentals may come with some kind of shared utility arrangement.  Of course, in a rental market where there are lots of properties for rent and fewer renters, landlords may offer various incentives, such as free cable and internet.  At the present time, we are experiencing a tight rental market with plenty of competition among renters so don’t expect to find too many of these deals.  Note that no matter what you rent, your landlord will pay the property taxes and insurance on his property, but it’s a very good idea for you to have your own renter’s insurance.

“What conditions can a landlord impose on the rental?”

Landlords can ask for first month’s rent up front, along with a returnable security deposit of up to one month’s rent.  They are allowed to set conditions such as no pets or no smoking inside the residence, and can designate the premises as “adults only”, or “no overnight guests”.  The landlord will likely have you sign a rental agreement outlining details about the rent and security deposit, inspections, termination notices, and other responsibilities of both parties.  This rental agreement will also specify who is legally allowed to live in the premises.  You will probably be asked to provide references and a credit report (obtainable online from agencies such as Equifax and TransUnion).  Expect to complete and sign move in/move out inspection reports.  For more information on this topic visit the following websites:

Laws for Tenants in Alberta – Laws for Landlords in Alberta

Renting in Alberta – CMHC

“How do I find out what’s available to rent in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain?”

A good place to start looking is in the Classified Ads, both print and online, found in the local newspapers, the Grove Examiner and the Stony Plain Reporter.  Both communities are also home to a number of property management companies, such as TRC Management and Gateway Property Management.  Kijiji online ads are another good source.

“Where can I get more information about the communities of Spruce Grove and Stony Plain?”

Check out the official websites for Spruce Grove  and Stony Plain.  Browse my Business Directory, Community Connections, to get a taste for what the local area has to offer.

If you’ve been renting for a while and are now ready to buy a home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County, I’d be happy to help!  Call me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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