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Paying Off Debt? Here are Some Tips to Reach Your Goal

Everybody faces debt at some point in life. While it can often feel overwhelming, here are some tips to help you pay off some of your debt to get you
back on track this year:

1. Create a budget for yourself.

This will help you manage how much money you’re spending each week or month. Make a
spreadsheet to help lay out what your spending limits are, you’ll feel great when you have extra
money each week.

2. Sell unwanted items.

The holidays are over, and now you’re left with lots of new items. Find yourself feeling cluttered
financially and mentally? Time to clean up! You can sell household items you no longer use,
search through your home and gather things you don’t use anymore. Take awesome pictures of
your items and put them online.

3. Treat yourself!

Having a reward system in place will help you stay on track to pay off your debt. Don’t let
yourself get discouraged if you don't meet your goals, try to improve the next week – and the
week after that!

4. Change what needs to be changed.

If you find yourself spending more money than you should every day, consider making changes
to your daily habits. Budget a grocery list for the week and buy items to have in your house to
take for lunch instead of buying something at work every day, or brew coffee at home and take it
to work with you instead of stopping at a drive-thru on your morning commute. You’re sure to
see a change in your spending habits with these small changes!

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Listing Your Property

selling-home-halifax

Listing a Property

The listing of a property is a relatively straight forward process, however there are a number of documents that your agent will want go over with you. We will outline a few of these documents to help you understand the process of listing your home with a REALTOR®.

Seller Designated Brokerage Agreement: Authority to Represent Document

The first, is the authority to represent document – known in Nova Scotia as the Seller Designated Brokerage agreement. This document, which is accompanied by the listing addendum and the property condition disclosure statement (PCDS) – sets out the relationship between you and the agent, including all of the duties they are bound to complete for you, and all of the disclosures they are going to require you to complete for the selling process. The listing Addendum, is a data collection sheet used for uploading the details of your property to the Multiple Listing Service.

Property Condition Disclosure Statement

The PCDS is a form that you will use to make any declarations about the home to prospective buyers, and goes a long way to creating some awareness about the issues that exist in the home for those who have interest in the property. It is the seller’s opportunity to disclose all that they know about the home – a key step in helping to minimize liability in the transaction. The PCDS will only be filled out if the owner is also the occupant, or has recently been. If it is a bank owned property, or being sold as a part of an estate, then likely there will be no PCDS.

Accompanying Informational Documents

The other forms that are required at time of listing are informational document – including forms discussing what agency means, what elements of the property are leased, and information gathering for the federal government through the FINTRAC data collection process.

Advertising Your Property

In terms of advertising your property – there are a whole host of options that you and your agent can discuss, including online, print, television, radio and more. Your agent will develop a marketing plan for your home, and in most cases, the agent will fund the marketing efforts during the listing time – thereby assuming much of the financial risk for the promotion of the home.

You should expect that your home should be marketed 24/7 through online efforts like REALTOR.ca, and the brokerage website. And finally, believe it or not – the old fashioned sign on the front lawn continues to be one of the best forms of advertising – so having the strength of a great agent and great brand suggests that you are approaching the sale of the property professionally.

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Securing a Mortgage

summit-group-mortgage

Getting Pre-Qualified

Getting Prequalified for a mortgage is the first step in the buying process. Prequalification lets you know whether you will be able to borrow money from a bank or other lender, what your maximum monthly payment can be, and even “holds” an interest rate for you. The reason that this should be the first thing you do is that you want to set up the framework for what you can spend before you start shopping for homes. The last thing you want to do is start to look at things that you can’t afford, as it is just bound to set you up for disappointment.

But here’s the thing – not all pre-qualifications are the same, and choosing who is to help you is a more important decision than you might think. Many banks will do a pre-qualification based upon your “ratios” only. The ratios are the percentage of your income that you are allowed to spend on housing. For example, at most financial institutions, you are only allowed to spend up to 32% of your total income on your housing needs.

home-buyer-halifax

Why Use a Mortgage Broker?

There’s a lot that should be considered when you go for a mortgage pre-qualification. First, the person doing the pre-qualification should also investigate your credit bureau – it’s a good time to find out if there are any skeletons that you may not know about – particularly if they are going to harm you when you seek final approval. Additionally, this is a great time to rate shop! However, did you know that if you go to multiple lenders who do a credit check each – that it can actually harm your credit? Consider using a mortgage broker, and you’ll have someone shop your “situation” around to the lenders for you. They will give you some options that you can choose from based upon criteria like rates, terms, features and more. There’s typically no cost for this service that the borrower pays – it’s the lenders who pay these folks. You can, of course, get prequalified by your bank or credit union as well, but it definitely pays to get a second opinion via a mortgage broker.

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How to Choose the Right Water Heater Size

According to Natural Resources Canada, water heating represents 15 to 25 percent of our household energy bill and it is the second largest portion of energy utility costs, after home heating. So before calculating the right water heater size you need for your household, you should consider switching to an eco-friendly water heater.

Next you have to make sure to get the right capacity tank for your family’s needs. Getting one with too much capacity will cost more to rent and operate. As a general rule, below is a guideline of the size of tank you might need. While it does not necessarily factor the number of bathrooms in the house and your hot water usage, it should give you a good estimate:

Number of gallons/litres Number of people in the household
30-40 gallons (114 -151 litres) 1-2
40-50 gallons (151-189 litres) 2-3
50-60 gallons (189-227 litres) 3-4
60-80 gallons (227-303 litres) 5 people +

Source: What Size Water Heater Do I Need

If you want to make a more precise calculation, you have to check two factors:

The First Hour Rating (FHR)

it means how many gallons of water a heater can produce at any given hour. You can see this number on the EnergyGuide label of the water heater.

Peak Hour Demand

this corresponds to the amount of hot water your household uses during a busy hour, like in the morning for example. The easy method to calculate is the number of people living in your household multiplied by 12 (it corresponds to the FHR). For example, if you are 4 people in your household 4 x 12 = 48 which corresponds to your FHR. So you will want to buy a water heater of about 50 to 60 gallons (189-227 litres).

Once you know what size water heater you need, you can start shopping. You might consider renting. In your calculations, remember that the life expectancy of a water heater is about 7 to 15 years before being replaced. When you rent, make sure to also take in consideration the following: Natural Resources Canada explains that “Every energy-using appliance has two price tags. We know the first: the purchase or renting price. The second price tag is considered less in the purchasing or rental decision, but is just as real; it is the operating cost of the appliance which is the cost to operate the heater. It is wise to rent a model that is EnergyStar, as you will save in the long run.”

To make sure you choose the ideal Water Heater for your home, contact your Enercare specialist today.

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Why Choose a Summit Group Agent?

summit-group-realty-agent

With the wealth of online resources dedicated to helping you search for a new home or sell the one you own, you might be wondering if you even need a real estate agent in the first place. However, you may want to consider why many homeowners choose to enlist the services of a real estate professional.

home-buyer-halifax

A trusted real estate agent who comes recommended by others can increase your satisfaction with the process of buying a home in a number of important ways. These factors will help you determine the value your agent can provide:

There’s the Internet, Then There’s the “Pipeline

While a quick search on the web is a great place to start, you’ll want the inside track. A real estate professional will enhance your property search with a pipeline of properties. They, or others at their brokerage office, will also be aware of buyers who are looking within your area.

Opt for the Guided Tour

When you tour a landmark or attraction your experience is enriched by someone who is familiar with the location who can guide you. As a community expert, your real estate “guide” can provide insights on historical market values, culture, and attractions, as well as local resources relevant to your interests and needs.

A Single Point of Contact

A real estate professional will help you determine how much house you can afford, alert you to potential risks, help you find resources, and negotiate the offer. Often a seemingly simple transaction can grow legally complex and risky. Again, this is where the pipeline comes in, as your agent can help you locate trusted legal counsel, home inspection services, surveyors, and lenders.

Negotiating

A real estate professional can help you objectively consider the offer you plan to put forth. They can recognize the various strategies of a selling agent, which may serve to drive up the price. They can also provide insights that can help you submit a competitive offer on a home you don’t want to lose.

Click here to find your Summit Group Agent!

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Maximize Summer Enjoyment With a Screened Patio

A big part of the appeal of owning a home becomes ultra apparent during the summer months when we can spend time outdoors. You can extend your summer enjoyment with screens that are fitted to patio and porch openings. When done right, these options appeal greatly to future buyers.

screen-patio-summer

Set a budget, then exploring a variety of options to fit your pocketbook and tastes. With a wide range of products on the market – from motorized retractable screens to do-it-yourself kits from your local building store – there’s something to fit every budget. Start with a trip to the library and research ideas through books and publications on decks, porches and patios.

As far as dos and don’ts,  obtain more than one quote if you are looking to engage a professional service to plan and install your screens.  If you plan to do the project yourself, make sure your basic structure is in good shape. If not, be sure to budget for additional material costs and make repairs before you begin. Measure accurately and ask to see assembly instructions in the kit you buy.

More information on enhancing and preserving the value of your home is available at www.royallepage.ca.

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Five Summer Projects to Increase Your Home Value in Halifax

summer-projects-home-halifax

Assessing the best return for your investment is paramount when undertaking home improvement projects. This means putting a priority on the jobs that are likely to be more valuable than others.

Summer is an ideal time to get outside and invest your time, money and resources in projects that are going to pay back when it comes time to sell your home. We recommend investing in any of these top five outdoor home improvement projects:

1. Build a Deck or Patio 

A deck or patio not only adds visual interest and enjoyment, it is also a way to add to the resale value of your home. Be sure to plan well ahead and to check your municipal building requirements as a building permit may be required for decks above a certain size and height.

summer patio home improvement projects

2. Install a Sprinkler System

On average, homeowners use 50 per cent more water than necessary on their lawns. This increases hydro bills and may subject your basement to seepage and your garden from damage from over watering.

Automatic lawn sprinkler systems are designed to allow proper irrigation through timing and even water distribution. Although there’s an initial cost of installation, you could save money in the long run.

3. Landscape Your Property 

Landscaping is a great way to add visual interest to an outdoor living space. Whether planning a garden or building a pond, landscaping often results in a significant return on your investment. However, always consult a trained professional before tackling a landscaping project to ensure that your project has all the elements of a professional project.

landscape-property-project

4. Build or Replace a Fence

Defining the limits of your property is important for a variety of reasons, including privacy, security and safety. Considering your specific needs will help you to choose the right fence. Ultimately, the fence has to fit with how you use your yard. Do your research and consult with neighbors to determine if you can complete the project jointly.

5. Re-Shingle a Tired Roof

A strong, durable roof is an essential component of your home’s overall health and functionality. If your roof is showing signs of wear, such as raised shingles or water seepage, choosing a qualified roofing contractor is a good first step. If you decide to do the job yourself, you’ll want to estimate the materials required accurately, consider disposal options for the old shingles, and ensure that you have plenty of hands available to make light work of a rigorous one-day job.

If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, or simply looking to increase your home’s value, visit our website for more resources

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The Port of Halifax is About to Get a $50,000,000 Makeover

port-halifax-development

The Federal Government just announced funding for a massive expansion of our port. This project will create 800 jobs and allow Halifax to significantly increase our cargo capacity.

The investment covers all rail and cargo ports in Halifax and will allow our city to become Canada’s premier Atlantic port.

The port is not the only destination for the new federal cash. Areas around the terminals, such as the Windsor Street exchange and Barrington Street will be receiving upgrades to cope with the increased traffic. If you are used to taking Barrington to get downtown, you may want to take an alternate route for the next few years as the street is going to be under construction for the foreseeable future.

The upgrades will allow the port to accept more “ultra-class” cargo vessels, which sometimes carry hundreds of thousands of tons across oceans. They will also allow for more growth in exports from Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotian exports have been booming in recent years, with seafood exports more than doubling since 2012. Seafood exports to China alone totalled close to $1 Billion in 2018.

Source – John Grant, urbanhfx.com

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Summit Group partners with Seven Lakes Lifestyle Community in beautiful Porters Lake, NS

Summit Group is proud to represent Seven Lakes Community, A Nova Scotia Lifestyle Community in Porters Lake, just minutes from City of Halifax featuring Detached, Semi-Detached Homes and Cottages, Waterfront Lots and Custom Build options from our builder Synergy Homes.

Seven Lakes Community is The largest Conservation Community in Atlantic Canada, Seven Lakes offers you a place to walk, a place to play and a place for your family to grow; a natural lifestyle that is simply priceless. By embracing the principles of conservation design, we are developing a community not just for today, but for the future.

A CONSERVATION COMMUNITY MEANS A LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT THAT WILL:

  • Reserve over 60% of the existing habitat and significant natural features for your enjoyment- and for generations to come
  • Help protect water sources
  • Give homeowners access to surrounding natural landscapes
  • Maintain the rural character of the community

At Seven Lakes, we believe that a great Community Master Plan is first and foremost a Conservation Design. Inspired by nature, where people are connected to the earth beneath their feet and to their neighbours on the other side of the hedge.

The community’s design incorporates neighbourhood greens that bring communities together. We are creating footpaths and bikeways that connect communities, and we’ve planned places to play that focus on wholesome activities for children.

We are committed to conserving trees wherever we can, and planting new trees to help make our neighbourhoods richer, greener and stronger.

The best of rural and urban living, just 25 minutes from Halifax!

CONTACT US TO SCHEDULE PRIVATE TOUR