Archive for November, 2012

Pin It!

Friday, November 30th, 2012

As a home buyer, seller or owner in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton region, you may not have thought to use Pinterest as a source of information.  I have recently begun building and adding to Pinterest boards, and I’d love to share this resource with my clients. 

Pin It! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamFirst of all, what is Pinterest?  Pinterest is a relatively new image-based social medium that allows you to organize pictures (still photos, graphics, videos, etc.), or articles containing at least one good-sized image, into topic groupings called boards.  Imagine any topic in the world that you know something about, or that you would like to learn about, and you can create or find a board for it.  To add an image or article to a particular board, all you have to do is “pin it” using the tools built into the program.  Images can be ones you’ve created yourself, or they can be attached to websites you find on the internet.  You can repin items other people have pinned to their boards, as well as follow other users, and of course other people can repin your images and follow you! 

My boards so far are the following:

Home Buying

Home Selling

Barry Twynam’s Spruce Grove and Area Real Estate Listings

Curb Appeal

Home Makeovers

No Ordinary House

Beautiful Kitchens

Laundry Rooms, Mudrooms, Storage Spaces

Great Little Spaces

Man Caves


Pets and Your Home

Outdoor Living


Home Security

DIY and Home How To

Painting Tips

Helpful Home Hints

A Clean Home

Who Says It’s Not Easy Being Green?!

Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Attractions

Saltwater Aquariums

Photo Geek

You can see my boards here: 

I would be pleased to have you visit my Pinterest boards, use the information, repin my pins, follow me, etc.!  I would especially appreciate any suggestions you might have about items I should add to my existing boards, or new boards you think I should create.  And maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own Pinterest boards.  Let me know and maybe I’ll follow you! 

I always enjoy receiving your comments or questions!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.  

Something Extra to Sell Your Home

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Something Extra to Sell Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamYour Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home is now on the market.  You’ve listened to all the advice and done everything you reasonably can to make sure it shows well.  You’ve thoroughly cleaned and de-cluttered, you’ve made all the minor repairs, and maybe you’ve even undertaken a few renovations that give a fairly good return on investment, such as repainting inside and out where needed.  As your REALTOR®, I’ll do everything I can to market your home [see my blog article on this:  So, You Signed the Listing Contract…]  But, is there anything else you can do to help your house sell fast and for a good price? 

Here’s an idea for something that’s a little unusual, and beyond what most people do.  Work with me to prepare a Question and Answer sheet about your home and neighborhood to leave in your home for visitors. 

Potential buyers are going to have questions about your property and its location so why not anticipate those questions and provide the answers as a unique way of showcasing your home and its value.  Some possibilities:

    • Your utility suppliers and the cost of utilities, together with your “utility site number”
    • Renovations and repairs you’ve undertaken – maybe include things such as contractors you used, dates, cost and details of renos (such as kitchen and bathroom re-dos, basement finishing, replacement of such things as shingles, flooring, windows), paint brands and color names or numbers, etc.
    • The appliances in your home – age, brand, warranties, etc.  (Remember to leave the manuals when you move!)
    • Shrubs and plants around your yard
    • What do you love about your home? 

What would potential buyers want to know about the location of your home?  Think about what drew you to the neighborhood and your community.  How about:

    • Nearby amenities, such as schools, parks, walking trails, convenience stores, gas stations, shopping centres, medical clinics and the like, plus distance to each
    • Appealing characteristics of your neighborhood, such as low crime, helpful neighbors, wide boulevard, quiet and privacy, or maybe close access to essential services, and so on
    • The community at large – for example, the website where a potential resident could learn about the makeup of your town, special features that make your community unique, such as its history, tourist attractions, famous citizens and so on. 

With so many homes on the market, it pays to highlight yours in a unique way, and have it stand out from the rest.  Together, we can get your home sold! 

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

Home Inventory: Do You Have One?

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHome Inventory: Do You Have One?As the holiday season approaches in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, you’re probably getting your home in shape for visits from family and friends.  This may mean adding new furniture or entertainment devices, as well as cleaning and organizing your current possessions.  Do you have a record of all your possessions, old and new?   

Your home and everything in it means a lot to you.  Sure, you have insurance in case anything should happen, such as a break-in or fire or adverse weather event.  But how would you let your insurance agent know exactly what you have that may need to be replaced?  As you go about your holiday preparations, it might be a good time to consider re-doing, or creating for the first time, an inventory of everything you own connected with your home.  Good idea, you say, but where to start? 

Luckily, the technical world can come to your rescue, both for creating the inventory and for storing it.  At its heart, a home inventory is a list containing various pieces of information such as name of the item, its location in your home, brand name, purchase price, current or replacement value, when and where acquired, serial numbers and so on.   

CAA Magazine’s “The Value of Your Home:  Tips on Creating a Home Inventory List” can get you going with a step by step process.  Another article on this topic is State Farm’s “Creating a Home Inventory”.

Here are some tools that can make your job easier: 

  • Spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, or Google Docs Spreadsheet (see this home inventory template) can create a form on which to record the data.   
  • It’s also possible to find many pre-made home inventory templates on the internet, such as these examples:

Insurance Brokers Association of Canada Home Inventory Form 

State Farm Home Inventory Checklist 

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Insurance Division Home Inventory Checklist

  • A photo or video inventory is a good complement to a written list.  Today’s cameras and even phones make it easy and relatively fast to take stock of a home’s contents.  The pros recommend not just taking a picture of an item, but also zooming in on serial numbers and important details, such as the brand of an object (turn over a piece of china to show the manufacturer, for example).  It’s also a good idea to take pictures of receipts or appraisal reports, especially for high-value items purchased new, or antiques.  Audio can provide a running commentary of what the items are and their value.  Burn the pictures to a DVD for storage outside your home or upload them to an online account.
  • Home inventory software is another option, and some very good ones are free:

Know Your Stuff Home Inventory

What You Own Home Inventory

These packages allow you to create lists, add photos, receipts and the like, and generate reports.

  • To get really futuristic check out iTrackMine, a free web-based resource billed as the “ultimate collection manager”.  By typing in (or scanning with a barcode scanner or an Android phone) the ISBN or UPC numbers of items in a collection, such as books or movies, you can automatically generate a list containing all kinds of information, including pictures.  Where it’s really useful for home inventory purposes is its ability to produce an insurance-ready report.

Why not make the doing of a household inventory a family project this holiday season?  While giving new meaning to the expression “making a list and checking it twice”, you’ll end up with a worthwhile gift for yourself and your family!

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

Use Good “Sense” to Sell Your Home!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamUse Good "Sense" to Sell Your Home!Your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home is now up for sale, and you’ve made it look as good as you possibly can.  You’ve moved out a ton of stuff so that the rooms look more spacious.  You’ve tidied up every storage space from the black hole of your teenage son’s closet to that great little cubbyhole under the stairs that has held all kinds of things you couldn’t bear to part with till now.  You’ve touched up all the paint chips, washed all the windows till they sparkle, and arranged the furniture just so.  Your house looks great. 

Your home’s appearance is very important in the home selling process.  But have you considered the other senses that prospective buyers will use when they visit your home? 

  • Smell.  It’s said that someone considering buying your home will make a decision, especially a negative one, in the first few seconds through the door.  And that negative choice could be because of a powerful reaction to the odors in your home.  You may love cooking with exotic flavors but last night’s garlic or fish or curry could massively turn off a prospective buyer.  Seek out and destroy other odors as well:  ashtrays (and other evidence of smoking in the home), laundry hampers, garbage cans and recycling bins, toilets, diaper pails, pet paraphernalia such as cat litter box, bird cage, dog bed, and so on.  Do NOT attempt to cover up the odors with artificial air freshener products!  Instead, clean your home thoroughly and allow fresh air in.  Fresh fragrant flowers help too.
  • Hearing.  Squeaky hinges, creaky floor boards, rattles and squeals in appliances, tree branches that rub against the building in the wind, all suggest minor maintenance issues and possibly a lack of care that should have been attended to before the home went on the market.  Even wind chimes can turn off some buyers.  Noise is a no-no!
  • Touch.  If a potential buyer runs her finger across a window sill or the top of a door and it comes away black, well… that’s not going to leave a very good impression.  Likewise with sticky counter tops and door handles, or crunchy floors.  Clean, especially spotless, immaculate, mother-in-law clean, not only sells houses faster but can even make up for some other minor deficiencies. 

Today’s buyers are looking for a home they can move into without having to do anything to erase traces of the previous owners.  Appealing to all the senses is a good strategy to ensure your home shows to its very best advantage, sells quickly and for the best price.   

For more tips and hints to make your home market-ready, check out some of my other blog articles:

Be Your Own Home Stager

Thinking of Selling Your Home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County?

Home Staging Starts With De-cluttering 

10 Things I Hate About Your House!

Comments or questions about this article or real estate in general?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.  

Make a Conditional Offer Work For You

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Make a Conditional Offer Work For You | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAfter looking at many houses in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, you finally find one that meets your needs.  But before you offer to buy the property, you realize you have questions that need to be answered.  Does the house need repairs that you couldn’t see during your visit, such as worn-out shingles or a leaky basement?  Will you be able to put financing in place?  Will you be able to sell your present house before taking possession of the new one? 

Real estate purchase contracts often contain buyers’ conditions; that is, things that the buyers spell out as needing to be satisfied before they go ahead with purchasing the house.  If the sellers agree to the terms, then a deal is made.  The deal will be finalized and the house considered “sold” when all conditions have been removed. 

Here are some of the most common conditions you as a buyer might put on the sale:

  • Financing Condition:  If you are able to obtain a mortgage, you will buy the home.
  • Property Inspection Condition:  If a qualified home inspector that you as the buyer have chosen to review the home declares the home free from major defects, you will buy the home.  Should your inspector discover something that you are not prepared to live with, you can choose not to waive this condition, meaning the deal is dead.  Or, you may ask your realtor to renegotiate a lower price, money for repairs, or the actual repair itself.
  • Sale of Buyer’s Home Condition:  You specify a date by which your home must be sold in order for you to take on ownership of the new home.  If your own home is priced well and has a reasonable chance of selling within the allotted period, say 60 days, sellers will often agree to this condition, especially in a slow market.  (You should be aware, however, that a seller may put a condition on the condition, such as retaining the option to sell to someone else if you are unable to remove this condition within a specified period, such as 48 hours, of a new offer coming in without this condition.)
  • Additional Buyer’s Conditions:  This could be anything that the buyer would like the seller to do to make the home more agreeable, from repainting the home, to replacing the roof, to relocating a storage shed, etc. 

A conditional offer can protect you and make it possible to walk away from a deal if problems arise that you did not see during your initial visit to the home.  But you should be aware that a seller always has the right to refuse your conditions.  It is especially risky to impose conditions when the market is competitive.  More than one buyer has lost a good home because a second offer with fewer or no conditions has been placed before the seller!  This could happen to you even if you are offering a higher price. 

To make conditions work for you, they need to be used in the right way and in the right circumstances.  Your REALTOR® can help you decide whether it is in your best interests to write conditions into a deal. 

Comments or questions about this article or real estate in general?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here

House Shopping = Lifestyle Shopping

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

House Shopping = Lifestyle Shopping | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamYou may have seen the ad on TV about the couple who bought what looks like a nice house, only to discover it has numerous flaws, such as being shaken off its foundations every day by the passage of the 11 o’clock train!  If you’re shopping for a new home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, you’re going to want to consider more than just the features of the house itself.

You probably have a long list of things you want in a home:  the number and size of bedrooms, the set-up of the kitchen, modern fixtures in multiple bathrooms, amount of storage space, parking, cosmetic features such as paint colors and flooring, and much more.  You may have considered the style of residence that would work best for you, such as a 2-storey home for a growing family or a bungalow for people with reduced mobility.  You’ve probably also given some thought to landscaping features, such as patios and decks, trees and shrubs in the yard, walkways, driveway space, fences, and so on. 

But almost as important as the house and yard is the neighborhood in which your potential new home is located.  Yes, there’s that real estate cliché again – location, location, location – showing up over and over again as a very important element in the whole home buying and selling experience. 

Because, when you shop for a home, you’re really shopping to meet the needs of your lifestyle, and that always extends beyond the walls of the building in which your family sleeps at night. 

If you have a young family, you probably are interested in a neighborhood close to a school or adjacent to a park with a playground.  If you are a senior, you might look for a neighborhood where the amenities you need or want, such as shopping, recreational activities, medical facilities, fine restaurants, are in convenient reach, perhaps even walking distance.  Maybe you spend long hours at your job or other activities, so a home within an easy commute would be good for you. 

This isn’t all.  Consider the things you want or don’t want to live near.  Some people like corner lots, for example, while other people detest them.  Many people would love to live in a home that backs onto green space or a water feature (and often, as a seller, you can command a higher price for a home like this).  Most people would prefer that their dream home not be located on a busy and noisy thoroughfare, or next to a high-crime area.  As you shop for your new home and new neighborhood, it doesn’t hurt to think about the resale value of the homes you’re looking at, and realize that the value comes from more than the building on its lot.   Remember too, that there are things you can change, such as kitchen counters and cupboards, and things you can’t, like that train I mentioned earlier!  The home, its surroundings and your lifestyle become a package deal. 

I’m always happy to respond to your comments and questions!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at, or contact me here.


Easing Mortgage Woes

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Easing Mortgage Woes | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamDo you have a mortgage on your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home coming up for renewal?  Do you expect the process to be just another rubber-stamping, or could there be problems?  A piece of legislation that came into effect on June 21, 2012 could cause you some grief if you have ever had any issue in your credit history. 

The mortgage debt crisis in the US of a couple years ago had people on this side of the border calling for tight controls on lending to prevent a similar calamity in Canada.  The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) responded with several initiatives, such as decreasing the length of mortgage amortization to a maximum of 25 years from the previous 35 years, and limiting borrowing on a home equity line of credit to 65% of the home’s value from the previous 80%, among other things.  (See my blog articles:  “Changes to Mortgage Rules”  and “HELOC Rules Changing”)

A guideline from the OSFI that went into effect on June 21, 2012 (Guideline B-20 – Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures) is apparently being interpreted by some lenders to mean that a heavier hand is needed in assessing applications for mortgages and their renewals.  This means that people who were delinquent on bills in the past but who have now brought payments up to date and are now prepared to enter into a home purchase with an acceptable down payment, good income and so on are being denied a mortgage or a renewal of their mortgage.

Reading through the guideline and its accompanying information would suggest that there is a very broad base for interpreting it, making the scenario of sweeping mortgage denials possible.  But the guideline itself, as policy for Federally-Regulated Financial Institutions (FRFIs) to formulate their own rules and regulations around their money lending practices, contains cautionary wording that would seem to prevent such refusals, urging FRFIs to be reasonable in their procedures:

“Background and Credit History of Borrower

FRFIs should ensure that they make a reasonable enquiry into the background, credit history, and borrowing behaviour of a prospective residential mortgage loan borrower as a means to establish an assessment of the borrower’s reliability to repay a mortgage loan.

For example, a credit bureau score, offered by the major credit bureaus, is an indicator often used to support credit granting. However, a credit score should not be solely relied upon to assess borrower qualification, as such an indicator measures past behaviour and does not immediately incorporate changes in a borrower’s financial condition or demonstrated willingness to service their debt obligations in a timely manner.

Fortunately, there are many lenders who recognize that their job is to do what they can to help their clients!  Fran Jenkins, Mortgage Specialist with ATB Financial in Spruce Grove, comments:

“First, I do not see any drastic tightening of credit lending at this time.  I have been aware in the past 3 years of such lenders as MCAP and Resmor Trust requesting full payment of mortgage funds at time of renewal.  These companies tend to operate differently than Chartered Banks and ATB Financial.

“Low credit scores do not automatically cause an application to be declined.  That is why there are individuals such as myself, with experience in lending, that can explain the reasons for the credit scores and do a full financial analysis to support an application.  Otherwise, if system generated, very few applications would be approved…

“I agree with the statement that slow payments is cause for concern on a lending application however there are many reasons why a client may have these slow payments.  Yes, keeping one’s payments up to date is important however not always possible.  This is what your Mortgage Specialist must understand.

“Today is no different than 20 years ago in the lending environment. You will be granted a Mortgage and/or Mortgage Renewal going thru the same process…..what is imperative is having the right Mortgage Lender supporting you as a client and going above and beyond expectations to make sure you are being presented in the correct manner.”

Fran Jenkins goes on to point out that it is true fewer high-risk applications are being approved these days, but even in boom times these borrowers should not have been approved.  High risk clients are those with bad credit who have neglected making payments for extended periods of time or who have even refused to pay back debts. 

Bottom line?  Chances are, if you have been conscientious about maintaining a good credit history and have a decent record of taking care of your debt load, the odd slip won’t be held against you.  And the trick is to shop around for a lender who will work with you to find the right mortgage for you.

Thanks to Fran Jenkins of ATB Financial for taking the time to provide her wisdom on this complicated topic!  You can contact her here:


Mortgage Specialist, ATB Financial

Cell  780 722 2266 |  Fax  1 888 722 8291

Toll Free 1 855 375 5022


Comments or questions about this article?  Call or text 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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