Townhouse + Condo Living

When is the Grass Greenest: Buying versus Renting Your Home

Posted on 15th April, 2013


So, you’ve finally decided to take the big step in buying your own home… how exciting! You are ready to fulfill your dream of having a place to call your own.

With rental costs increasing coupled by steady interest rates, homeownership is made all the more compelling and attainable.

In Lloydminster, renters living in an average two-bedroom property experienced a 10 percent increase in their monthly rent from spring 2012 to spring 2013 – $915 to $1014. Proportionately, vacancy rates decreased by 1.2 percent during this same period. (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Rental Market Report: Saskatchewan Highlights. Spring 2013.)

So you can better prepare by learning about the process of home buying and the responsibilities of homeownership. The differences between renting and buying a home are vast, and there’s a long list of pros and cons for both options. And, remember — there is no one best decision for everyone.

Buying may make sense if you…

– Have reliable income, good credit and documentation to verify your savings
– Can afford at least a five percent down payment and related closing costs
– Want a chance to build equity and be eligible for homeowner tax breaks and credits
– Are financially able to take on home-maintenance and improvement projects
– Have an adequate cash reserve to withstand a loss of job, long-term illness, or other financial setback
– Are planning on staying in your home for at least four years

The advantages of owning or renting are different for everyone, so be sure to consider these important personal situations and long-term goals before making your decision. If homeownership is for you, you must be both financially and emotionally ready. Buying a home isn’t only about money. You should listen to your heart and take an honest look at your lifestyle.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a ready-made pro’s and con’s list all ready for you. So sit back, be real, and explore the possibility of that next big step. Get listing here!

When to Bring a Lawyer into the Home-Buying Process

Posted on 30th March, 2013


Frequently, Canadian home buyers don’t bring in a lawyer until a deal is done. We sign on the dotted line, then take our purchase agreement to a lawyer who does a title search, registers the deed and handles the transfer of funds. We know we need a lawyer to do this but no one wants to spend any more on legal fees than they have to, right?

So knowing where to engage your real estate lawyer is key.

Making an Offer to Purchase

After you have found the condo you want to buy, you need to give the vendor an Offer to Purchase (sometimes called an Agreement of Purchase and Sale). It is very helpful to work with a lawyer to prepare your offer, in addition to your realtor. The Offer to Purchase is a legal document and should be carefully prepared.

Would you know that the use of ‘encroachment,’ instead of ‘easement,’ could mean the difference between zero and the cost of title insurance, extra legal fees and the drafting of encroachment agreements? Food for thought.

Following an Offer to Purchase

Now that your lawyer has helped you prepare an Offer to Purchase, the realtor presents the offer to the vendor. What can you expect to happen next? There are three possible responses:

Response 1.
The vendor accepts your offer. The deal is concluded and you move on to the next steps in the buying process.

Response 2.
The vendor makes a counter-offer. The counter-offer might ask for a higher price, or different terms. You can sign the offer back to the vendor, offering a higher price than your original offer, but lower than the vendor’s counter-offer. If the vender accepts this counter-offer, the deal is concluded.

Response 3.
The vendor makes a counter-offer, asking for a higher price or different terms. If a counter-offer is returned to you at a higher price, ensure that you know exactly how much you can afford before you start negotiating. You don’t want to get caught up in the heat of the moment with costs you can’t afford. You reject the counter-offer because the price is still too high, or you can’t agree to the conditions. The sale doesn’t go through, and your deposit is returned.

In the interim, a real estate lawyer can protect your interests when it comes to financing. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where financing is foisted upon you.

A lawyer is particularly important when it comes to purchasing a property that has not yet been built. Home buyers may need a lawyer’s help to decipher the lengthy purchase agreements that are common with condo purchases.

Legal fees can vary depending on whether you are buying a condo or house, a new construction or resale. The important thing is to get an all-inconclusive quote, which will include the registration charges, title insurance premium, courier charges, the mortgage work on a purchase transaction and applicable taxes.

When it comes to price, you aren’t necessarily doing yourself any favours by choosing the lawyer with the lowest fees.

Unlike other provinces, Saskatchewan does not have a lawyer referral program to check to see if your lawyer is in good standing, so ask around and do your research.

Closing Day

Closing day is the day when you finally take legal possession and get to call the house your home. The final signing usually happens at the lawyer’s office.

These are the things that happen on closing day:

– Your lender will give the mortgage money to your lawyer
– You must give the down payment (minus the deposit) to your lawyer. You must also give the remaining closing costs.
– Your lawyer then

– Pays the vendor
– Registers the home in your name
– Gives you the deed and the keys to your new home

As it turns out, hiring the right lawyer, early in the home-buying process, can actually save you time, risk and most importantly, money. So be prepared for a purchase of this size and importance. It’s a biggie.

Credit Unions versus Banks for Mortgage Lending

Posted on 15th March, 2013

Credit Unions

Mortgage lenders come in all sizes, ranging from Canada’s Big Six to tiny wholesale lenders and credit unions. Banks and credit unions are both financial institutions, but this is where the similarities end.

There are two distinct differences between these lenders: banks are for-profit companies and serve stockholders, while credit unions are not-for-profit organizations and serve its members. Secondly, banks have a national and international focus, while credit unions set their sights on their local community.

Credit unions are financial cooperatives. Their products, services and operations — and even their physical appearance — may resemble those of banks, but they are locally owned and invest their profits in the communities where they operate; where their members live and work.

Unlike banks, credit unions are autonomous. Each one has its own brand identity, management and Board of Directors, but they’re united through provincial centrals. These provide financial, technology and trade services to their member credit unions.

Today, there are 771 credit unions in Canada, with a total of 3,117 branches. They hold combined assets of $296 billion and serve 10.2 million members (as at December 31, 2012).

There are 53 credit unions in Saskatchewan serving 264 communities through 297 service outlets.

Credit unions are provincially regulated. The Credit Union Act, 1998 provides the overall framework for the incorporation and regulation of credit unions in Saskatchewan.

Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation is given responsibility by the provincial government to guarantee the full amount of funds on deposit with Saskatchewan credit unions and to provide preventive services that support the financial strength of credit unions.

Regardless of whom you choose to finance the purchase of your home, it is often the largest single financial commitment you will ever make, so shop carefully for your mortgage loan.

For a list of credit unions nearest you, click here.

Understanding Your Home Warranty

Posted on 7th February, 2013

Understanding Home Warranty

Protecting your condo investment starts with understanding your warranty.

In reality, not everything during the construction of your home will be perfect, no matter how seasoned or professional the builder. And because your new condo is likely one of the biggest investments of your life, protecting your investment is vital.

So protecting your home starts with understanding your warranty.

You play an equal role in communicating freely with your builder throughout every step of the construction process. So take the time to talk to your builder about your warranty and what it entails.

Glencoe Developments Inc. (Glencoe) is a member of National Home Warranty; they are backed by one of Canada’s largest insurance companies who serve close to 3 million customers.

Since 2004 and over 718,600 square feet of developed space, Glencoe remains free of any material or structural claims with National Home Warranty. And by the end of 2013, Glencoe will have sold over 645 units without a single warranty claim – now that’s a record proving peace of mind is possible.

With National Home Warranty, your home warranty is a broad coverage plan passed on to you by your builder (like Glencoe). It protects you against defects for your individual unit and common areas. It starts the moment you move in.

Here’s how it works:

What’s covered for the 1st year?

Limited Construction Warranty: You’re covered for defects in materials and labour of your home for the first year.

What’s covered for 5 years?

Structural Defect Warranty: You’re covered for structural defects for up to 5 years, including defects in material and labour. Your warranty also covers structural damage that makes your new home unfit to live in.

Limited Construction Warranty: You’re covered for defects in the load bearing structures for up to 5 years.

Maximum Protection

The combined 1-year and 5-year limited construction warranties provide coverage to a maximum of $50,000 per unit, and include overall condo protection (common property) to a maximum of $2.5 million.

In Alberta and Saskatchewan, builders can customize the warranties they purchase for their projects. Always refer to your warranty document for actual policy terms and coverages arranged by your builder.

One of the most important things you can do to keep your new home in top shape is perform regular maintenance. Refer to 12 Tips to Season-Ready Your Condo for helpful reminders that will help you prevent problems yourself.

For more information about National Home Warranty, visit their website here.

For information about your Glencoe Development Inc., contact us here.

12 Tips to Season-Ready Your Condo

Posted on 31st January, 2013

Season-Ready Your Condo

Tune up your home in 10 minutes or less with simple home maintenance.

Home maintenance is something we often neglect. Even though your condo may have a property manager for exterior maintenance, the inside of your unit is still largely your responsibility. Between our daily and weekly responsibilities, maintenance is something that often falls by the wayside. But it’s essential. Like your vehicle, your home and property benefit from regular tune-ups.

Fun, right? We know: not so much. But here’s the good news. Taking on home maintenance in 10-minute bursts is the smart way to get it done.

Here’s our checklist of 12 things you can easily manage, each in 10 minutes or less. Killing time before Bachelorette? Cross off one of these easy tasks…

1. Dust and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (twice a year).

2. Replace the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors (annually).

3. Vacuum the condenser coils at the back of your fridge (annually).

4. Polish your natural wood front door. If painted, surface wash it.

5. Clean the air conditioner grill and register.

6. Check your faucets for leaks – it will save you money.

7. Check for signs of insects or vermin getting into your home.

8. Examine window and door seals and repair as needed – lubricate locks on doors and windows with silicone spray.

9. Self-clean the oven (okay, technically this takes hours, but it only takes a few minutes to set it up).

10. Examine, seal and repair grout in bathrooms and tile floors to prevent moisture damage.

11. Pick a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet (GFCI) and test it. Push the Test button, check that this has popped out the Reset button and that anything hooked up to the outlet will no longer power on. Push Reset and you’re good to go. Test a different GFCI outlet next time.

12. Check your emergency flashlight. Do the batteries work? If not, replace them, or consider upgrading to a non-battery powered, manual wind-up model.

See? In just 10-minute spurts, you can mitigate costly problems in your home, keeping it safe and healthy for you now, and down the road.

Safety First was Never More Timely

Posted on 24th December, 2012

In the whirl wind of buying a first home, we’re solely focused on the final shiny product (and so we should be). But it’s important to think about how your new townhouse or condominium got to this point. We’re not getting introspective here, but rather inviting you to consider the conditions in which your new home was built. You care because these conditions influence the price and quality of the biggest purchase of your life.

The Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board claims that Saskatchewan has the second highest incident rate of onsite accidents in Canada; the homebuilder industry isn’t insulated from this statistic.

RNF Ventures Ltd., a general contractor for Glencoe Developments, has taken impressive steps to reverse this trend. They’ve developed a leading Site Compliance Rate program that tangibly measures safety levels on a construction site. Their incentive program rewards general contracting teams, which in turn, builds a better product for you.

“Higher onsite accidents result in higher home prices,” explains Keith Bird, Health & Safety Manager at RNF Ventures Ltd. “The more WCB claims an employer has, the higher their premiums climb, which are recovered by passing the additional cost onto the customer. A homebuilder, who values strong onsite safety, is saving you money on your home.”

Higher incidence rates can also reduce the quality of the construction process.

“We’ve seen it first hand: consistency within a trade’s team results in higher quality craftsmanship,” says Ashley McGrath, President at Glencoe Developments Inc. “When onsite accidents are higher, work crews are weakened and by default, uniformity drops affecting overall quality.”

Ultimately, it feels good to know that your homebuilder has fostered a healthy community during the construction of your townhouse or condo, like the one you will soon call home.

So ensuring your homebuilder values the highest onsite safety standards is ensuring the best price, highest quality and heart of your home. Peace of mind was never more timely.

For more information about Glencoe Development partner, RNF Ventures Ltd., visit their website at