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Dan St. Ives: Not the king of pain | REM

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I will admit to having been out of the real estate business now for longer than I was in it back in the day. And back in that day, it seemed that the typical Realtor’s professional image was pretty strait-laced – most every colleague across the board had no visible ink or body piercings. My aversion to discomfort likely held me back from being a ground breaker in that regard.

Okay, I might be showing my wimpy side here, but I just can’t imagine willingly puncturing a fragile body part, simply for the sake of self-expression.




Not that I don’t agree with piercing, I just have a hard enough time wearing clip-on earrings, never mind poking holes to accommodate a hoop.

Not that I wear a lot of clip-on earrings either, but Halloween has foisted that experience onto me at least once over the years.

I admit that I may be a bit ultra-sensitive. I can’t even watch somebody putting in a pair of contact lenses. With my general lack of co-ordination, I’d sneeze just as my finger got close enough, and either blow the darn thing onto the bathroom mirror or miss entirely and have 20-20 vision in one of my nostrils.

Not so long ago, I insisted on having my gums frozen when I had my teeth cleaned. Sure, the dentist tried to convince me it would be fine, but after losing enough wrestling matches with my tongue, it was just faster and easier for him to play along.

However, as I would never agree to the frightening needle needed to administer the anesthetic, they would leave me alone with my cheeks full of ice cubes, until I was sufficiently dulled enough to proceed. Quickly.

You know, now that I think about it, I did accidentally experiment with body piercing once. I was leaving home one morning, and noticed my neighbour getting into his car. Being a fine Canadian neighbour, I waved a cheery, “Good morning” as he drove off.

As I was walking and waving, I failed to notice that I had missed a bit of the driveway.  I also noticed (with some great alarm) that the driveway was rushing up to greet me, after I stumbled on an uneven intersection of pavement and lawn edge.

Attempting to stumble back to upright after my fall, I felt a pain in my left hand, and assumed that I had scraped the bejeebers out of it with some loose gravel.

Nope. What I did notice (before my knees buckled) was that my car key had inserted itself smack dab into the centre of my palm and had no immediate desire to leave.

My first thought was to call 911, so I staggered to my front door. This is when I realized my house keys were on the same ring as the impaled car key. If anybody had been watching, I can only imagine what they were thinking as I tried to twist my arm enough to open the front door.

Trapped, I had to make a judgment call. I couldn’t drive to the hospital with the car key inside my hand, and with no one else home, I had to bet that I could remove the key, then drive like a freakin’ bat out of hell to a doctor before I fainted.

Happily, and with the assistance of liberal amounts of glove-box napkins, I arrived at a walk-in clinic and gave the doctor on duty a new story to share with his colleagues.

I admire those of you who enjoy a good piercing now and then. I’ll pass, thanks.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

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Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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