Bathroom Upgrades using Overlays

If you're considering a bathroom update, you're probably familiar with the typical approaches, such as replacing a countertop or toilet, or removing all the fixtures and finishes to complete a floor-to-ceiling renovation.

However, there is another, far less expensive way to make an older bathroom look brand new: using overlays.

An overlay is simply a new surface applied over an existing one. For example, instead of replacing an old and worn bathtub – which is costly – you can purchase an overlay system (called a tub liner) that fits on top of the existing bathtub. It's a little like giving your tub a facelift!

You can do the same thing with your bathroom countertops and floors. Overlays come in a wide variety of styles and finishes – some of which can make your bathroom look significantly more upscale. Compared to a major renovation, the installation of overlays is relatively straightforward. A tub liner installation, for example, can be done in a day.

You can learn more about overlays at your local home improvement centre and at specialty bathroom showrooms.

Bathroom

When to Call a REALTOR®

If you're like most people, you go to see a doctor when you're not feeling well or have a health concern. However, you may also visit your doctor for a check-up, or to ask questions about healthy living.

In fact, consulting your doctor for anything health-related is a smart idea.

The same holds true when it comes to real estate.

Many people only call a REALTOR® when they're planning on selling their property or buying a new home, or both. While that's an important reason to speak to a REALTOR®, it's not the only reason. Indeed, there are many good reasons for you to give a good REALTOR® a call. For example:

  • If you have a question about the state of the local real estate market. (Remember that it may be very different from what you hear on the news about the national market.)
  • If you want to get a sense of what homes are currently selling for in the area.
  • If you want to determine the current market value of your property.
  • If you want to find out how much homes cost in neighbourhoods you'd like to consider.
  • If you're thinking about the possibility of making a move, but you’re not sure if it’s the right time.

In other words, don't be afraid to contact a good REALTOR® when you have a question or need some advice about the real estate market.

  

 

Watch for these electrical hazards in your home

Electricity in the home is so commonplace that it's easy to forget how dangerous it can be. According to the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, an electrical shock can knock you unconscious, cause a serious burn, or even stop your heartbeat.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk.

  • Install safety plugs in outlets that young children can reach.
  • Never plug in anything with a frayed or otherwise damaged power cord.
  • Never use a plugged-in computer, hair dryer, or other electrically-powered item near a filled sink or bathtub. This includes phones with power cords.
  • Never touch anything electrical with wet hands or while standing in water (water is a remarkably efficient conductor of electricity).
  • Always turn off the appropriate breaker before doing any electrical work, such as installing a new light fixture.
  • When replacing a broken light bulb, turn off the breaker first. Although the glass is broken, the filament may still be conducting electricity.

 Finally, unless you're an expert or an electrician, never do any major electrical work on your own. Hire a professional.

Doorways to Better Living Spaces

When people renovate or remodel a room, they almost always overlook the door. However, changing the style of an interior door, or adding a new one, can dramatically change the look of a living space – often for the better.

 

The most common type of door is the traditional solid 6-panel door. But there are many other choices available. Want to add light and a greater sense of space to a room? Consider a door with glass panels. Do you have an interior door that gets in the way when opened? Change it to a bi-fold door, which cuts the distance of the swing in half.

 

There are also specialty doors that are designed to block noise, and sliding doors that tuck neatly into the wall when opened.

 

Interior doors are typically much less expensive than their exterior counterparts. So making the decision to upgrade or add a door to a room is an affordable design option.

 

Visit a door showroom and explore what's available.

Preventing Basement Leaks

If you have a basement, or even just a crawlspace, the last thing you want is water infiltrating the area. Even a minor leak can cause damage to walls and flooring, and may even lead to mould issues. Here are some precautions worth taking:

  • Every spring and fall, check the grading around your home. The ground should gently slope away from the foundation. Pay particular attention to areas where shrubs and other foliage make the grading difficult to see.

  • Look for cracks in the foundation. Get them fixed right away. Even a minor crack that doesn't appear to penetrate all the way through can cause problems eventually.

  • Check the caulking on basement windows. If it's worn and cracked, it's time for recaulking. The lifespan of most exterior caulking is less than five years.

  • Watch the eavestroughs when it rains. (You'll get wet, but it's worth it.) Make sure the water drains well away from the foundation.

    Doing these simple inspections takes just a few minutes. Yet, if they prevent a basement leak, it's time well spent! 

How Long Does it Take to Find a New Home?

If you're planning to look for a new home sometime in the future, you may be wondering how long the process will take. How much time should you set aside for viewings? How many of the listed homes should you see?

Of course, the process varies from person to person. According to the Department of Housing & Urban Development, home buyers viewan average of 15 properties before finally choosing to make an offer on one of them. That number may be a good benchmark for you.

On a Saturday afternoon, you can comfortably look at three or four potential properties. You can see more if you want to make a full day of it.

 Entry to the Community

One factor that impacts the home shopping process is how clearly you know what you're looking for. For example, if you're certain you want a three bedroom backsplit, backing onto a wooded area or ravine, in an upscale neighbourhood, then the process is going to be fairly simple. You're just going to view properties that closely meet that criteria.

But if you're the kind of person who simply says, "I'll know it when I see it", then you'll need to look at several homes on the market. That means carving out plenty of room in your schedule for viewings.

A good REALTOR can help you understand what's available on the market and which homes are worth seeing. He or she can also help you determine how long the process will likely take, and show you ways to make the process go more quickly and smoothly.

 Want a sneak peek of what's out there? Call Mark Kozak of Century 21 Foothills Real Estate today!

Location, Location, Location

It’s true – location is huge when buying or selling real estate. The most amazing dream home on the market will still feel the impact in price if its location is not ideal.

Do you love your neighbourhood? What do you love about it? What would you change? Where would you go if you could go anywhere?

Consider the advantages of a few of the great neighbourhoods we have in Lethbridge:

COPPERWOOD

Copperwood is located on the west edge of Lethbridge. It is directly west of Indian Battle Heights and north
of Varsity Village (which is adjacent to the University of Lethbridge). View a detailed neighbourhood map of
Copperwood to become more familiar with this area.

Copperwood is a new residential subdivision ideally located close to schools, parks, and major routes. It
includes a new high school facility that houses Chinook High School, Catholic Central High School West
Campus, and The Crossings Branch of the Lethbridge Public Library. More new development is currently
occurring in this region as the west side of Lethbridge continues to expand.

Copperwood children can conveniently attend Nicholas Sheran Elementary School, GS Lakie Middle
School, and Chinook High School. Close proximity to the University of Lethbridge also makes this an ideal
living location for faculty, staff, and students of this great institution.

INDIAN BATTLE HEIGHTS

Indian Battle Heights is located on the west side of Lethbridge. The name of this neighbourhood is derived
from the historic significance of this location as the place where the Battle of the Belly River between the
Blackfoot and Cree nations occurred in 1870. It is directly west of Heritage Heights and Ridgewood and
north of Varsity Village (which is adjacent to the University of Lethbridge). View a detailed neighbourhood
map
of Indian Battle Heights to become more familiar with this area.

Indian Battle Heights is an established residential area. It includes three schools, several parks, and a fire
hall. Directly north of this neighbourhood is West Highlands, where a number of commerical conveniences
(including grocery stores, drugstores, a hardware store, banks, salons, restaurants, and much more) are
available to residents.

3814 Sundance Close

COALHURST

Coalhurst is a small town located just 10 km west of Lethbridge. It is an ideal location for those who enjoy
the small town atmosphere but also appreciate being close to big city conveniences.

Coalhurst offers a variety of community programs, recreational facilities, and playgrounds. Soccer fields,
baseball diamonds, a campground, and even a BMX track are part of all the fun that can be found here. For
all the details on what's happening in Coalhurst, check out the community calendar.

Coalhurst is a part of the Palliser Regional School Division and offers public education for children from
Kindergarten through High School. Other options for schooling can conveniently be found in nearby
Lethbridge.

The Fastest Way to Lower Your Energy Bill

Did you know that, next to heating and air conditioning, your lights consume most of the energy in your home? In fact, you can lower your electricity bill quickly – and substantially – simply by being smarter about lighting.

First, consider replacing your conventional light bulbs with the energy- saving variety. You've probably seen these at your local home improvement centre. Compact florescent light bulbs, for example, use up to 75% less energy.

Second, lower the wattage in some outlets. Is it necessary to have a 100 watt bulb in the furnace room? Try a 60 watt bulb.

Finally, think before you turn on the lights. Do you really need them on? Perhaps there's an alternative, such as opening a window blind to let in more sunlight. 

Living room

Recognizing Potential Major Expenses in a New Home

When you see a new home you like on the market, it's easy to get distracted by all the features you love – the wrap-around backyard deck or the spacious rec room with plenty of space for entertaining. You just need to make sure that in all that excitement you don’t overlook any expensive maintenance issues that could be just around the corner.

Nothing lasts forever. The major components of every home – from the furnace to the roof shingles – need to be replaced eventually. Knowing when such maintenance issues are likely to arise can help you make a smarter decision about the home you're considering.

How do you do that?

Living room     

When viewing a property, ask for the age of the major components of the home, such as the roof shingles, furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and appliances. Roof shingles may look merely weathered in spots – and you might think they have years of service left – when, in fact, they're due to be replaced in a year.

Also pay close attention to the backyard deck, fencing, flooring, and windows. Do any of those components look aged, worn, and in need of repair or replacement sometime soon?

Backyard Yard

Finally, don't forget to check the kitchen and bathrooms. Sinks, faucets, bathtubs, showers, and cabinetry have a life-span of about 10-15 years.

Kitchen Master ensuite

Of course, there are things you can't see, such as wiring, plumbing, venting, and other components of a property that may require maintenance soon. That's why it's so important to make any offer to purchase a home conditional on passing an inspection by a qualified home inspector.

Want more ideas on buying the right home for you? Call today. 

Century 21 - The Most Respected Brand in the Industry

Did you hear the news? Century 21 recently announced the results of a third-party survey in which consumers identified the CENTURY 21 brand as the "most respected in the industry."

What does that mean for you?

It means when you choose a Century 21 Real Estate Professional, you are choosing the brand that has been a known leader in the industry since 1999. It means you are choosing to access a worldwide renowned organization that has built amazing systems to support its agents in becoming the best possible real estate representatives. It means you are going to get the Gold Standard in service.

Have you seen us at the 2012 and 2013 Super Bowl? How about the 2012 Summer Olympics? Or maybe standing behind U.S. Soccer? Or perhaps online in SimCity Social or The Sims Social? We are pleased to engage millions of fans in a number of arenas, and use their constant feedback to improve our systems and services.

Check us out online and see for yourself why Century 21 leads the way in real estate services.

Condo Living

Condominiums provide a comfortable, cost-effective living solution to professionals, students, and couples. They are designed to maximize comfort while eliminating hassles of home-ownership. Consider the following advantages of this living arrangement:

  • security, repairs, and outdoor maintenance (including lawn care, snow removal, and maintaining parking facilities) can all be included in your condo fees
  • still claim all the advantages (financial and otherwise) of home ownership
  • some condominiums have agreements that include use of pool facilities, fitness centers, or other amenities
  • enjoy belonging to a mini-community within your condominium complex
  • maximize the time you can dedicate to other areas of your life - not on maintaining your home
  • still choose from a variety of home styles and options, including apartments, townhouses, bi-levels, etc.
  • enjoy convenient living in a specific area, eliminating commutes or parking issues
3814 Sundance Close#303, 1716 Henderson Lake BlvdUnit 221 - Rio Vista Villa-45

Next time you're looking at housing options, consider the advantages of living in a condominium. It's a great way to begin your experience of owning and maintaining property.

Living roomMaster bedroomMain floorKitchen
Save Money on Insurance

Like heat, water and air conditioning, insurance is a home expense you have some degree of control over. In fact, there are ways to reduce your insurance costs by as much as 20%.

The thing to keep in mind is that insurance companies will often reward you – in the form of lower rates – when you do something to reduce the risk ofdamage to your property. That's why you can often get a discount when you install smoke detectors on all floors. Other discounts may be available if youget better door locks, an alarm system, upgraded wiring, and so forth.

Contact your insurance company and ask how you can lower your insurance costs. Sometimes just a few minor changes can save you a bundle.

27 Lettice Perry Place N

Should You Buy the "Less Than Perfect" Home?

When you’re shopping for a new home, you want to find a property that has all the features and characteristics you want. A large deck surrounded by picturesque landscaping ... a beautiful kitchen with gleaming marble countertops... a cozy finished basement with fireplace....

You should look for the ideal home. You deserve it! But some home buyers make the mistake of becoming fixated on finding the "perfect" property, and passing too quickly on those homes that don't quite measure up.

Why is that a mistake? Because some of those less-than-perfect properties have the potential of becoming your next dream home.

First of all, a home that is lacking some desirable features, such as a finished basement, will probably cost less. Those savings may be more than enough to cover any needed upgrade or renovation.

Secondly, if you look at a home in terms of its potential, rather than the features it happens to have now, there will be more properties available on the market for you to consider.

If you're determined to have a large wrap-around deck for entertaining, for example, don't cross homes that don't have this feature off your list. At least not yet. Instead, view these properties with an eye on potential. Is the backyard big enough to accommodate a large deck? How would a deck like that look if added to this particular property? How much would such a renovation cost?

BackyardBackyardDeck and patioDeck

There's no doubt about it. You want to find a home that has all the features and characteristics you want. If you work with a good REALTOR®, there is a good chance you'll find a property that has most of them.

But keep an open mind. Sometimes a "diamond in the rough" can – with an upgrade or renovation – become a home you'll treasure for years.

On Top of the Market

Keeping on top of market trends, shifts, and influences - it's part of what makes a realtor invaluable.

Economic Development Lethbridge just released the 2012 Commercial Real Estate Statistics. It's great information if you're in the market for office space in Lethbridge. Compare this information with what's been happening over the last few years and you'll see emerging trends. But what does that mean for you and your investment? When would be a good time to buy or sell? What economic factors influence these shifts and could impact the numbers for 2013?

A good realtor knows what the real estate market is like. They have experience with the changes to a community that impact commercial and residential real estate. And they can answer the questions you have about investing in property and making a good return.

Before you make your next move, talk to a realtor. Find out from someone who spends each day watching the changes in our community and dealing with the upswing and downswing of property values. Make the most of your time and money by consulting someone who can give you the lowdown on the Lethbridge real estate market and how you are going to be impacted by it.

Selecting the Right Decorator

You might have hired a painter, plumber, or renovator several times during your history of home ownership. But how many times have you hired a decorator?

For many homeowners, hiring a decorator is a first time experience. That’s what makes knowing how to choose the right one so challenging.

Here's a tip: Clip photos from magazines of rooms that match the "look and style" you want. Pay particular attention to desired colours, decor, accents, furnishings, and themes.Bedroom Living room View

Then, when meeting with a prospective decorator, see if there's anything in his or her portfolio that matches your clippings. If there is, then you’ll have a good indication that he or she can pull off the look you want.

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