Ever wonder why your REALTOR® is looking in the closet?  When I'm showing a buyer a property that I have never been in, they always catch me opening closets to peek around.  No, I'm not some fashionista,  I'm checking for signs that the home may have been used for the illegal manufacture of marijanua.  


Some of the warning signs that I am keeping an eye out for, are any fresh drywall patches that may be present heading towards the attic space, as this is often where they will run vents to help mask odours coming from the property.  I will always take a look around the pipes coming into the water meter, to see if there's any evidence of tampering to bypass the meter.  Take a peek at the venting around the hot water tank to see if it looks like it has ever been used to supply additional Co2.  I'll also try and observe the foundation walls, especially around the breaker panel, and where the main power enters the property to see if it has ever been altered.  


There are a few other key indicators that we are looking for when browsing a property.  Active signs of aggression in the home can be a sign of methamphetamine contamination.


While these quick inspections are by no means a replacement for a proper home inspection by a licensed home inspector, they are a great way that I can help my buyers identify a stigmatized property long before writing an offer or paying for a home inspection.


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How big is your home? How about the one you are purchasing? While most people can eyeball how big a property is they aren’t always accurate, and that accuracy can come back to haunt potential buyers. Multiple buyers in both Calgary and Edmonton have recently discovered that their properties are actually smaller than they were told when they purchased them. One woman, Pam Whelan, found out she had been duped. When she purchased her home in 2007 the advertisement said the property was 2580 square feet, but when she recently went to list the property on the market she found out it was actually only 2094 square feet. This significant 756 square foot difference meant that her home was actually valued at significantly less than she paid for it. When she did sell it was for much less than she had paid for it, despite putting nearly $130,000 into renovating the property.


To help protect buyers from misrepresented square footage the Real Estate Council of Alberta recently announced new guidelines regarding home measurement in the province. This standard will help ensure that consumers and real estate professionals are working with accurate and consistent property measurements when buying or selling homes. This will help people compare different properties accurately so they can better determine which property better suits their real estate needs. 


Previous measuring guidelines were broad and open to interpretation. This meant that realtors employed various approaches to measuring properties and sometimes included things like patios, balconies, decks and parking spaces. This meant that many property square footages were artificially inflated, making homes sound larger and driving up prices. 


The new measurement standards require realtors to:

  1. Identify if the square footage is listed in metric or imperial, and require them to apply their chosen unit of measurement consistently.

  2. Measure the outside surface of the exterior walls in order to determine square footage for single, detached properties.

  3. Measure the interior perimeter walls (paint-to-paint) at floor level for all properties with common walls such as half-duplexes, townhouses and apartments. Any additional area representations may be made assuming the exterior measurements.

  4. Include floor levels that are entirely above grade and exclude floor levels if any portion of that floor falls below grade. Below grade levels may be measured, but this area may not be included in the RMS (Residential Measurement Standard) area.

  5. Include all additions to the main structure and conversions of above grade areas within the structure, so long as they are weatherproof and suitable for year round use.

  6. Differentiate between rooms with minimum 2.13m (7ft) ceilings and rooms whose ceilings are lower than that. If the ceiling is sloped the area with a floor to ceiling height of at least 1.52m (5ft) can be included in the RMS area provided there is a ceiling height of 2.13m (7ft) somewhere in the room.

  7. Include extensions from the main structure that have a minimum floor-to-ceiling height of 1.5m (5ft), such as cantilevers, bay and bow windows and dormers.

  8. Exclude open areas that have no floor such as vaulted areas.

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Welcome to Calgary! We are so glad you decided to make our beautiful city your home. Calgary has many things to offer, including a wide variety of historical buildings. This post includes a quick guide to help you get started. Have fun exploring!







1) Heritage Park Historical Village

Heritage Park Waterfront

Heritage Park is a well known Calgary landmark, and Canada’s largest living history museum. Take a trip back in time to see how the West once was. This park includes five sections, organized by time period. 1860s Fur Trading Fort and First Nations Encampment; 1880s Pre-railway Settlement; C.1910 Prairie Railway Town; and 1930s, 1940s and 1950s Gasoline Alley Museum and Heritage Town Square. The park also includes a midway fair ground full of rides and games, and an authentic and fully functioning steamboat the S. S. Moyie that departs several times daily from the dock for trips around the Glenmore Reservoir. For hours and rates, please visit http://www.heritagepark.ca/


2)  Mewata Armory

Mewata Armoury


The Mewata Armory is located in Downtown Calgary at 801 11th Street SW and was built between 1915 and 1918 and is home to The King's Own Calgary Regiment and The Calgary Highlanders. Built in the Tudor/Gothic revival style, this grand brick building is reminiscent of a medieval fort or castle complete with buttresses and and a crenelated roofline.


3) Lougheed House

Lougheed House


The Lougheed House is a sandstone mansion set on an impressive 2.8 acres of ground. Built in 1891, it was home to Senator James Alexander Lougheed, his wife Lady Isabella Hardisty Lougheed, their six children and a full staff. It is open Wednesday to Friday from 11 am till 4pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Feeling peckish? Visit Isabella’s Cafe for lunch or afternoon tea. For more information, please visit http://www.lougheedhouse.com/


4) Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary

This National Historic Site is the birthplace of Calgary, where the North West Mounted Police first laid the roots for this historic city. This impressive 40 acre site is located at the conflux of the Bow and Elbow Rivers and includes a museum as well as an interactive interpretive centre. Fort Calgary is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (closed some holidays). For more information please visit http://www.fortcalgary.com/

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Lake Bonavista is a well established and family friendly neighbourhood in South East Calgary. To help you settle into your new neighbourhood, here is a list of local businesses that will help you meet your needs.


  Lake Bonavista Businesses - Gordon McDowell
Supermarkets
 
This area boasts a wide variety of supermarket choices, including Safeway, Calgary Co-op and Sobey's.
 
1) South Center Safeway is located at 11011 Bonaventure Drive SE, and is open daily from 8am to 11pm. It also has an in-house pharmacy open Monday to Friday 9:00 am  to 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
 
2) Lake Bonavista Safeway is located in the Lake Bonavista Promenade at 755 Lake Bonavista Drive SE. It is open 8:00 am to 11:00 pm, but does not have a pharmacy.
 
3) Deer Ridge Co-op is located at 95 1221 Canyon Meadows Drive SE in the Deer Ridge Shopping Center. It is open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, and does not have a pharmacy.
 
4) For late night milk-and-bread runs, try the Mac's Convenience Store, located in the Lake Bonavista Promenade, at 755 Lake Bonavista Drive. It is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
 
Salons and Barber Shops
 
1) Diva Salon and Spa in South Center Mall is open daily from 9:30 am to 9:00 pm.
 
2) The high end Salon Evaline Charles, located in South Center Mall, is open daily from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
 
3) Studio Hair Design, located in the Lake Bonavista Promenade is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturdays 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and is closed Sundays and Mondays.
 
4) For no frills, men's hair cutting try Bonavista Barbers in the Lake Bonavista Promenade. they are open Monday's to Saturdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
 
Department Stores
 
The Lake Bonavista area boasts two main department stores: The Bay and Sears. Both are located in South Center Mall, found at 100 Anderson Road SE.
 
Gas Stations
 
1) The Lake Bonavista Promenade plays host to an Esso station, located at 759 Lake Bonavista Drive SE. It is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm daily.
 
2) If you need a car wash to go with your gas visit the Esso at 31615 Bonaventure Drive SE. This station is open from 5:00 am to midnight daily.
 
3) Lake Bonavista also hosts a Shell station, located at 700 12445 Lake Fraser Drive.
 
4) Deer Valley Co-op also boasts a gas station and car wash, and is located at  95 1221 Canyon Meadows Drive SE. It is open daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.
 
Drugstores
 
1) The Lake Bonavista Promenade is home to a Shoppers Drug Mart. It is open from8:00 am to 10:00 pm daily.
 
2) South Center Mall also hosts a Shoppers Drug mart, which is open from 9:30 am to 9:00 pm daily, and is located at 100 Anderson Road SE.
 
3) The South Center Safeway also has a pharmacy, which is open Monday to Friday 9:00 am  to 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
 
Local Library
 
For all your reading needs visit the Fish Creek Public Library and pick up your free Library Card! It is located at 11161 Bonaventure Drive SE, and is open Monday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday's from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.


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Calgary's Centre For Newcomers

Welcome to Calgary! We are so glad you decided to move here to our wonderful city! To help you settle in, here is a list of newcomer resources located here in Calgary.

 
1) Immigrant Services Calgary offers a variety of resources including (but not limited to) Information and Orientation, Supportive Counselling, Referrals, Employment Support Services, Community Initiatives and Access Programs for Seniors and Civic Education/Citizen Classes. Services are offered in seventy different languages including Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Oromo, Mandarin, Pashto, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrigna, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian.
 
For more information, please visit http://www.immigrantservicescalgary.ca/how-can-we-help/newcomer-support or call 403.265.1120. Walk- ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred. All services are free and confidential.
 
2) Center for Newcomers
 
The Center for Newcomers offers comprehensive 3 year program called "Newcomer Settlement", which covers all of the basics of settling into Canadian culture. It aims to teach newcomers what services are available to them and their families in Canada, covering housing, schools, transportation, banking, employment and health care. It also helps newcomers learn the skill necessary for day-to-day life including dressing for the weather, English language classes, shopping for affordable goods, and getting to know your neighbours. It also covers the rights and responsibilities of new Canadians. A sister program, Children's Settlement, is similar, and geared at New Canadians with children under 12. For more information, please visit www.centerfornewcomers.ca. To book an appointment, please call 403.569.3325 and specify your preferred language for service. Walk ins are welcome, but must wait until individuals with appointments have been served. 
 
3) Calgary Newcomer's Club
 
The Calgary Newcomer's Club is a volunteer run social club for women. This club aims to help women learn more about the city, and make friends and professional contacts. Membership costs $40 annually. To apply, please visit http://calgarynewcomersclub.com/membership/ and fill out the online application form. Questions can be directed at info@calgrynewcomersclub.com.
 
4) Welcome Centre for New Immigrants
 
Located at 3820 - 32nd Street NE, the Welcome Centre for New Immigrants is a community centre geared at new immigrants. This not-for-profit organization is a branch of the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society, and helps immigrants develop English language skills, computer skills and job hunting skills.  For more information, please visit  http://www.welcomeimmigrants-calgary.ca/ or call 403.291.0002.
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Your new home has been purchased, the keys are in your hand and you have started to unpack. Now it is time to meet your neighbours and get involved in your community. Here are some handy tips to get you started.
 
1) Check out the community centre 
 
Especially if you want you and your family to get to know other families in the neighbourhood then check out the local community centre. If you have kids consider signing them up for a class or a sports team so they can meet the other kids in their neighbourhood and form new friendships.
 
2) Host a block party 
 
One thing that always brings people together is food! If space allows, set up the barbecue, buy some hot dogs/hamburgers/veggie burgers etc and print off some invitations. Slip these in your neighbours mailboxes. In order to cut down on your costs and ensure there is enough food for everyone who attends consider hosting your block party as a potluck.
 
3) Get involved!
 
Is the local soccer team looking for a new coach? Do you think kids in the neighbourhoods would benefit from an art class? Talk to the staff at the community centre and see about getting involved.
 
4) Take a class or join a club
 
Consider signing up for a class or joining a club that matches your interests. Especially if you are in a new city where you don't know anyone this is a great way to meet people and make new friends.
 
5) Attend a local fair or event
 
This is a great way to meet people who share your interests. Calgary has lots of events such as the Calgary Children's Festival, Folk Fest, the Sled Island Music Festival, the Calgary Stampede and Adult's Only Night at Telus Spark. For a list of local events and activities try websites like http://www.todocanada.ca/things-to-do-calgary-this-weekend/
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So you have decided to purchase a condo. Whether you are upgrading from a rented apartment or downsizing from a house there are w few things to consider before you sign the papers.

 
1) Do your research
 
Find out if there have been any special assesments in the last few years. If there is something that needs to be fixed or upgraded in the building that affects all the residents then the Condo board will issue a special assessment. This means the cost of repairs will be split between all the residents, and can be very costly. To find out if there have been any recent cash calls review the minutes from the meetings.  You’re real estate professional should be offering you guidance and recommending having a professional document review service going over your documents with you.
 
2) Inspect the entire facility
 
Don’t just look at the unit you are interested in. Check out the outside of the building and the common areas. Check for any damage (cracks, water damage, rust, mold etc) that could be indicators of larger problems. If these areas are neglected either the board doesn’t have the funds to fix them or they don’t care to. Either way, be wary.  Some home inspectors will now only inspect the physical unit and not the common areas.  Your real estate professional should be providing you contact information for inspectors that will inspect all of the areas.  Many of the common area infrastructure expenses can be estimated from reading the reserve fund study of the condominium corporation.
 
3) Be clear on all policies
 
Do you have pets? Or children? You want to make sure they are welcome in the building.  Many condos have restrictions. Some only allow residents who are over 18, and sometimes pets are banned or there is a maximum weight for your pet or a maximum number of pets you can have. You should also be clear about any other restrictions. You can review the rules in the condominium corporation bylaws.
 
4) Talk to your real estate professional.
 
Your real estate agent will be able to help you with any general condo questions, and will likely be able to answer questions specific to the building.
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