BuyingFarm & Agriculture May 21, 2021

Your Guide to Buying an Acreage

City life is a life full of hustle and bustle—you are central to everything you could ever need! However, more and more people are ditching the fast pace of the city for the serenity of the countryside. Are you dreaming about what country life is like? There are a few things to consider when you think about buying in the countryside that are different from purchasing in the city. Here are the top four points for you to consider before buying an acreage for sale!

Making Sure the Land Suits Your Needs

What are you planning on using the land for? If you are planning on buying land for agricultural purposes, there are municipal and federal zoning regulations in place to dictate how the land may be used that you will need to adhere to. These rules will dictate what buildings can be constructed, if a business can be operated on the premises, etc.

Planning to grow crops or produce? You will want to know the type and quality of soil and how the land drains. Raising livestock? You will want to know what kind of conditions existing structures are and if you will have the space and water supply for what you need.

Services

Water supply is not often something that homeowners who choose to live in town have to think twice about. Tapping into your municipality’s supply is not always an option, so you must consider alternatives to access clean, high-quality water, whether that means relying on a well, dugout or another source. What kind of commitment it will take to maintain these systems will also need to be considered.

Additionally, what kinds of sewer and garbage collection services are available in the area and what are the costs associated? What is the internet connectivity like, and what is the average electricity bill? These questions may be good to ask previous owners and neighbours. Lastly, consider the travel time for emergency services (law enforcement, ambulance, fire, etc.). The distance and accessibility to the nearest fire department may affect insurance rates in some cases.

Location & Access to Property

Country living offers tons of space and privacy, but you must consider how remote you want to be. Bear in mind, shorter commutes to nearby towns and cities will lead to a more convenient lifestyle with access to schools, shopping and other amenities. Accessibility of emergency and medical services and WiFi and cellular network reliability are factors that you will want to consider, as mentioned in my last point.

In Saskatchewan, the winter months can be harsh with a lot of snow, so you will need to find out who takes care of snow removal or lawn maintenance in the summer months. What kind of machinery will need to be available to do it yourself?  Daily commutes to work or school are also essential to consider regarding rush hours and how much time you wish to spend driving. Road repair is also more efficient in town versus in the country, so ask if there are any immediate plans for road maintenance in the area that may impact travel time.

Conduct Your Search in the Spring/Summer

You cannot get a good view of the property with snow or mud in the way. Thus, it is best to wait until the spring or summer to begin your search when you can properly check for drainage or flooding issues or any other major repairs needed. Get a home inspection done, including the septic system, and consider a holdback part of the purchase proceedings until it is determined that areas of concern are tended to.

Country living can be fantastic, so long as you choose the right place! Find the property of your dreams by working with an agent who has in-depth knowledge about acreages, farms, and the buying process. Give me a call!

Buying May 7, 2021

Top 4 Saskatoon Neighbourhoods for Nature Lovers

With over 65 residential neighbourhoods, Saskatoon offers a multitude of unique community styles to fit any lifestyle. Whether you’re a busy professional who enjoys the hustle and bustle of downtown living or a student seeking the convenience of living close to school, there is a neighbourhood in Saskatoon for you. But today, we’re focusing on just one of those lifestyle traits that many people think can’t be found with city living—access to the outdoors.

While it may be true that green space can be hard to find in some regions of the city, Saskatoon is home to over 2,700 acres of park space; meaning access to nature is easier than you think. And these 5 Saskatoon neighbourhoods offer the most!

Briarwood

With a grand total of 133.5 acres of park space, the beautiful east-end community of Briarwood offers three large parks, including a lake for those who love water as much as greenery! Take a stroll along beautiful walking paths or work up a sweat on one of the sports fields in Briarwood Park and Donna L. Birkmaier Park. Then, finish up your day with a sunset fountain show at Briarwood Lake before making your way home.

The majority of Briarwood homes are single-family homes, most built between 1991 and 2010, and the average price in 2021 is about $505,412. According to eHealth Saskatchewan data, the average household size is about 2.8 people per home, and age demographics suggest families with slightly older children make up the large majority.

Lakewood

Tying with Briarwood for the most park space, the lovely southeast neighbourhood of Lakewood also boasts a whopping 133.5 acres—10.7 of which are found at Trounce Pond, with the remaining 122.8 located at Hyde Park. One of Saskatoon’s largest urban parks, here you can enjoy soccer fields, many walking paths, ponds, and a playground to help the kiddos burn off some steam. And if you’ve got fur-kids in the mix, there is even an off-leash dog park here, as well!

Lakewood is an ideal neighbourhood for students, young professionals, new families, or any first-time home buyers, with an average home price of just $221,343. Here, there are many condos and townhomes to choose from, most of which were built between 2001 and 2010, and the average household size is about 2.1 people per home.

Lawson Heights

Next on the list is the mature north-end community of Lawson Heights, offering 127.4 acres of park space. Five different parks can be found here, including the very fitness-friendly Rochdale, Bishop James Mahoney, Umea Vast, and Umea Parks. This neighbourhood is every sports fan’s dream with incredible amenities, including baseball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball courts, a skateboard park, and even an outdoor rink. Enjoy countless hours playing your favourite games in every season or enjoy a quiet riverfront walk at Meewasin Park, part of which is also found here in Lawson Heights.

Homes in Lawson Heights come in all shapes and sizes, from single-family homes to townhouses, condos, and more, with the average home price falling at around $332,973. While most Lawson Heights homes were built between 1961 and 1990, the neighbourhood has been kept up-to-date, with many incredible amenities just around the corner—including the Lawson Heights Mall. It is an excellent choice for young professionals, families, and even retirees, with diverse living options no matter what stage of life you may be in!

Stonebridge

Easily one of Saskatoon’s most popular neighbourhoods, Stonebridge also offers some of the most green space in the city, with 16 parks adding up to about 121.3 acres. Whether you’re looking for ponds, forests, play areas, sports fields, or even a toboggan hill, you can find it all here in this south Saskatoon neighbourhood. Plus, easy access to Highway 11 to make a beeline to Blackstrap Provincial Park on the weekends!

Much like Lawson Heights, Stonebridge homes come in all shapes and sizes to fit almost any budget, family, and lifestyle—the current average price falling at around $379,853. The age demographic is relatively young, with most of the population falling under 50 years of age. This can understandably be attributed to its popularity amongst young families, as it’s certainly a hot spot for raising kids!

Other Saskatoon Neighbourhoods With Tons of Green Space

River Heights – While less than our top 4 neighbourhoods, River Heights still boasts 80.4 acres of park space, including the majority of Meewasin Park along the riverfront!

Silverwood Heights – Another north-end hot spot, Silverwood Heights is home to 76.8 acres of park space and five schools, making it a great family choice.

Wildwood – Not only home to 68.5 acres of park space, Wildwood also offers the Wildwood Golf Course for those nature lovers who also love that other “green” space.

Evergreen – Named for nature itself, Evergreen is one of Saskatoon’s newer neighbourhoods, with 65.8 acres of park space winding throughout the community.

 

No matter if you’re a single professional just starting out, a family looking for more space, or newly retired and looking to downsize without losing access to your own oasis, nature is undoubtedly one thing you never have to be without in Saskatoon. And if you choose one of these neighbourhoods with plenty of parks, it becomes that much easier. Soothe your soul and your mind in mother nature—find home in Saskatoon today!

BuyingFinancialMarket Updates April 23, 2021

The Current Price of Lumber & Its Effect on the Real Estate Market

The coronavirus pandemic has caused problems with supply in just about every industry, not just lumber. Last summer, we saw a shortage in everything recreational, from ATVs to RV’s, batteries, and patio cushions. The computer industry is still trying to meet the demand of new home office and gaming PC needs, and doesn’t show signs of stopping. And if you’ve been considering any home renovations or woodworking project, you’re likely no stranger to the skyrocketing prices of lumber due to the higher demand. But how has this shortage of lumber affected home prices?

Home Improvements Leading to Short Supply of Lumber

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forced lockdowns resulted in closed lumber mills. Then those in lockdown started making improvements to their houses and backyards, as they looked forward to a summer stuck at home. Decks and fences were being built in record numbers as people renovated to accommodate their new work-from-home/stay-at-home lifestyles, swiftly leaving lumber mills in short supply and scrambling to catch up, leading to an increase in prices.

If you’re considering a backyard facelift this spring or summer, you can expect to pay as much as double pre-pandemic lumber pricing. And if you need to contract your work out, there again, you’ll likely pay even more, as contractors are straining to keep up with workloads.

The Shift to a Seller’s Market

If you’ve been paying attention to the real estate market in Saskatoon, you’ve no doubt noticed the shift to a seller’s market. The shortage of homes for sale has caused desperation in buyers who need to buy for many reasons. Perhaps they just sold their home to take advantage of rising prices. Or maybe low interest rates took them from being unable to afford a home to desperate to find one before their locked-in rates expire.

Whatever the reason, REALTORS®, like myself, are seeing more and more bidding wars and offering scenarios where the sellers have the upper hand. Buyers are offering at or above asking prices, causing prices to increase in every market across Canada, including Saskatoon.

The Cost of Lumber & Rising Home Prices

So how, you ask, does the cost of lumber indirectly affect rising home prices? Before COVID-19 hit, 1,000 board feet of 2’ x 4′ lengths cost approximately $550. As it stands now, that same amount costs more than $1,400. Now, take a typical 2,500 sq ft home, add in those rising lumber prices, and you are adding as much as $30K to the cost of building a new house!

Now, let’s consider a homebuyer weighing their options to build new or buy an existing home. With a new build home costing approximately $30,000 more now than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic, many are deciding to forgo building new and begin looking for an existing home for sale instead.

As we are in a seller’s market, there are not many available homes, especially in the most popular price ranges. But let’s say that they do manage to find one they would like to purchase. The scarcity of inventory right now has buyers right changing offer prices. There is no time to offer low and see what the counteroffer might be. In this market, the house will likely be sold to another buyer quite quickly. So they don’t take any chances and offer at or above asking, which is likely still a better deal than the new build they were considering.

From what we thought was a simple, short-term inventory issue to now a national crisi of rising real estate costs, this is how lumber prices affect the current home prices. So what can you do to best protect yourself as a buyer? Well, especially in a seller’s market, it is crucial to work with a local real estate professional who understands what is happening in today’s market—and that’s where I can help. Contact me today and let’s get your journey of buying a house off on the right foot today!

BuyingFarm & Agriculture April 6, 2021

Tips for Buying Farmland

Recently I shared 6 Tips for Buying Land. In that article, I highlighted the fundamentals for buying bare land in Canada. When you buy a city or suburban home, the transaction is usually straightforward. Beyond the building inspection, there are everyday things to consider, like rights-of-way, easements, surveys, proximity to public transit, land leases, air traffic flight paths, distance to amenities, and future local development plans. These typical items will apply to any rural land purchases like easements, surveys, and coming local development plans. However, some areas are different when buying farmland specifically. Let’s have a look at some tips for buying farmland.

Work With a REALTOR®

In the case of buying land, it is recommended that you work with a REALTOR®. When buying farmland, it is equally important to work with an experienced agent who will guide you through the entire process. Their knowledge will be critical throughout the process. They know which conditions need to be included, which professionals to contact for the required inspections for the buildings, soil and water on the property, and much more.

Research Regulations

Taking the time to investigate regulations is essential whenever you purchase land. You will want to know if any restrictions are tied to the property by the developer or the municipality. The number of outbuildings allowed, restrictions on animal types, or limits on herd numbers would be crucial factors when determining if a farm could be viable on any particular property.

Environmental Inspections

Checking for soil contamination, soil quality, or potentially polluted groundwater is essential if you plan to live off the land. Soil contamination will be detrimental if you intend to buy the land for crop use.

In this case, you will also want to get a field history to know what types of herbicides were used and what kinds of crops were planted. Some crops don’t work well together. If you plant one crop followed by another crop, there could be an increase in the number of diseases or weeds.

Equally important will be water quality and quantity if you intend to raise livestock on the land. When it comes to maintaining livestock, there could be limits on numbers related to acreage, manure storage requirements, and minimum setback distances for outbuildings from your home and the neighbouring homes.

Lastly, you will want to make sure that the piece of land that you are looking at has proper drainage, or you could be running into flooding problems. Farmland that already has a sound irrigation system in place will make a big difference.

Financing

Like a typical mortgage, borrowers looking to purchase either land can make a down payment of as little as 5%. And, just like an average high-ratio mortgage, they’ll have to buy default mortgage insurance if with a down payment of less than 20%. The mortgage approval for farm properties, though, is slightly more complex.

First off, farm mortgages usually require a down payment of 25% or more. The lender will be taking a much higher risk on borrowers looking to cultivate the land for farming. When it comes to any farmland, borrowers are permitted to buy as many acres of land as they want. However, depending on the lender, they may only be able to secure a mortgage that covers the first 10 acres, 1 house, and 1 garage. Any other land beyond those 10 acres and any other buildings that exceed the single house and garage will come out of their pocket unless they make a much larger down payment.

Closing Costs

When buying Canadian rural property, a ruling from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) may be required. Usually, when purchasing a large acreage, the house and small plot of land immediately surrounding the house will be free of Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). But the larger acreage may not be. The purchase could be subject to much higher closing costs.

This list is by no means complete, which is why number one on this list is to work with an experienced real estate agent. There is no replacement for the experience of someone who has been through the purchase of multiple properties. I can help you achieve your dream of living off the land and buying a farm, ensuring your interests are protected. Contact me for more information on purchasing farmland.

BuyingFinancial March 23, 2021

How to Know You’re Not Paying Too Much When Offering on a House

For most people, buying a house is the single largest purchase they’ll ever make.  Wanting to ensure you get a good deal is only natural. But how can you really know? It’s not like you can ask the seller how much the other buyer is offering, and in a seller’s market there are likely to be multiple offers and competing bids.

Having said that, you still don’t want to overpay just because the market is hot. Of course, the price is not the only determining factor in deciding whether a home is a good purchase—location and condition are also integral factors. With that said, as your REALTOR®, I have many tools I use to help you ensure you get the best deal possible.

Comparables

When you show interest in a property, and before we even discuss a price to offer, I will take into account all the recently sold, currently listed, and unsold properties that are comparable to the one we are looking at. I analyze homes that are similar in size, location, and amenities they offer, but also some others that are different. Is it considerably less expensive than a larger, nicer house? Is it more expensive than smaller, less attractive properties?

With my deep understanding of current market conditions and market history, we can work together to determine a maximum price you will be happy with and that I am confident will not be high for market values.

Neighbourhood Impact

I also use my extensive neighbourhood knowledge taking into account expected occurrences that will impact the values of homes in any specific community. Is there positive development planned, such as a major mall or a large new company moving into the area? In this case, the appreciation value of your home in the near to distant future looks good. However, if grocery stores and gas stations are closing down, the price should reflect that and the appreciation value of the home will likely be affected.

One thing to note is that new housing development can go either way. It can mean that the area is hot and likely to be in high demand in the future, thus increasing home values. Or it can result in a surplus of housing, which will lower the value of homes in the area.

Professional Experience

Without even analyzing the data, a professional REALTOR®, like myself, who is very familiar with the area and the market will intuitively know whether a property is priced appropriately or not and what a fair offering price would be. You can’t really replace this intuition—it simply comes with years of experience.

 

Once you have an accepted offer, we will take further steps to ensure you are getting a good deal. Requiring a home inspector will ensure there are no surprises and that no expensive repairs are necessary.  We will also check permit history to ensure all previous work done to the property was permitted and passed inspections.

The lender will also request a property appraisal to protect their financial interests. The lender wants to make sure they are making a wise investment. At this point, you can reevaluate the offer price and if necessary negotiate the sale price before closing.

Lifestyle March 2, 2021

Support Local, Vacation Local: Top Activities, Day Trips, and Weekend Getaways for Saskatoon Families

Our local economy has been struggling to say the least, so as you’re making plans for this summer 2021 in the Saskatoon area, consider staying closer to home and supporting local!  We are lucky to live in such a great city and province and I’m sure there’s a lot you haven’t yet explored that’s close to home. Whether you’re planning a day trip, a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, here are a few local ideas to get you started!

Top 13 Family Activities in Saskatoon

Looking for something to do that’s close to home and only takes an afternoon? Here are some of the top family activities in Saskatoon:

1. The Remai Modern Museum is a public art museum in Saskatoon, situated along the west bank of the South Saskatchewan River. If you and your family love all things art, it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss!

2. Wanuskewin Heritage Park is a cultural complex honoring the history & artwork of First Nations people, with exhibits & events. They also have a number of beautiful walking trails with historical sites to discover along the way, which is great if you want to work in some exercise, too!

3. The Western Development Museum is a network of four museums in Saskatchewan, preserving and recording the social and economic development of the province. Here in Saskatoon, you’ll be transported back in time with a life-size replica of 1910 Boomtown, with buildings including a school, church, laundromat, and feed store, decorated with actual artifacts. Vintage streetcars, ancient tractors, and carriages line the sides of the road, beginning at the railway station, with an actual train you can board!

4. The Ukrainian Museum of Canada, located in central Saskatoon, preserves and honours Ukrainian Canadians and their unique cultural traditions in the form of artwork, textiles, weavings, wood carvings, and beautiful painted easter eggs.

5. The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo started out as a small tree nursery a hundred years ago, but soon grew to become a National Historic Site in 1990, boasting crafted gardens, restored heritage buildings, and Saskatchewan’s only accredited zoo! This popular attraction has more than 90 species of birds and animals in settlements resembling their natural habitats, including capuchin monkeys, grey wolves, Chinese red pandas, and Madagascar ruffed lemurs.

6. Prairie Lily Riverboat Cruise – Take your loved one on a romantic cruise down the river on a Prairie Lily riverboat to admire the charming city. Enjoy views of the natural beauty of the Meewasin Valley; the gorgeous Delta Bessborough Hotel, dubbed as the “Castle on the River” for its distinctive fairy-tale turrets; and the Remai. On the other side, you’ll pass sprawling homes with manicured lawns and a section of the river bank covered with painted rocks.

7. Beaver Creek Conservation Area – If you are seeking a day hike near Saskatoon, look no further than the Beaver Creek Conservation Area, located 13 kilometers south of the city. Part of the Meewasin Valley park system, Beaver Creek is a protected nature reserve ideal for exploring the great outdoors. There are several easy hiking trails meandering through short grass prairie, offering sightings of deer, foxes, and other small mammals.

8. The Persephone Theatre is a non-profit regional theatre company producing quality live entertainment. From classics to comedy, Persephone puts on six main-stage and three backstage productions each season, running from fall to spring.

9. Museum of Natural Sciences – Learn about evolution through the static and live exhibits at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Saskatoon. View displays of plants, animals, rocks, minerals, and fossils, including full-scale replicas of dinosaurs and flying reptiles!

10. Wyant Group Raceway –  Some of Canada’s finest race divisions and drivers showcase their talents on this paved 3/8 mile progressive banked oval. Visit Saskatoon’s Wyant Group Raceway for stock car racing or other events held most weekends from May to October.

11. Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan – Take in the new summer cultural paradise on Saskatoon’s banks of the South Saskatchewan River. The Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival (SOTS) facilities were upgraded in 2020 with ​a new ampitheatre, box office, tavern, and a beautiful stone courtyard.​ Shakespeare’s greatest works are portrayed by some of Saskatchewan’s finest actors in an intimate tent atmosphere. ​

12. Berry Barn Eatery & Gift Shop – A relaxed country setting on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, the Berry Barn Eatery and Gift Shop, is one of Saskatoon’s most popular and unique tourist attractions. Flanked by a 28-acre saskatoon berry orchard, this scenic site also includes beautiful flower gardens, a greenhouse and garden centre, a U-pick berry patch, an ice cream hut, a go-kart track, and a fun zone for families with small children. Enjoy saskatoon berry pie and homestyle cooked meals at the Eatery. Shop for unique gifts, souvenirs and specialty foods such as fruit spreads and dressings at the onsite gift shop.

13. Crickle Creek features a 9-hole par 3 golf course, an 18-hole mini golf course and the exciting Fun Zone, featuring 14 huge inflatable bouncers and waterslides. Don’t miss the 50-ft. high inflatable waterslide—the highest in Canada! While there, check out What’s the Scoop! Ice Cream Works with a full line of hard and soft ice cream treats.

Top 7 Family Day Trips in Saskatchewan

Looking for something you can drive to and do in one day? Get up and go first thing in the morning and be home sleeping in your own bed with one of these great day trip activities found right here in our great province of Saskatchewan:

1. Fort Carlton Provincial Park – ​Fort Carlton was an important hub for the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1810 – 1885. Located on the North Saskatchewan River, and with easy access by land, this site was an ideal place to warehouse goods and gather provisions for other posts. A little bit of history, and a whole lot of fun!

2. Saskatchewan Railway Museum located just outside of Saskatoon has 6 acres of displays, 3 diesel locomotives, 2 streetcars, 4 cabooses, a sleeping car, snow ploughs, freight cars, restored railway buildings, and many other artifacts. There are also an interpretive centre and gift shop on site.

3. The Batoche National Historic Site features beautiful trails, guided tours, interpretive signage, historic silhouettes, and viewing areas that offer a glimpse into the historic battle between the Metis and First Nations, and General Middleton’s Canadian Forces. Enjoy onsite geocaching and hiking trails or rent a bike and take a ride along the shores of the South Saskatchewan River and view the lush river valley scenery.

4. Cranberry Flats is a sand-based conservation area located just south of Saskatoon with beautiful natural trails, including a wheelchair-accessible interpretive trail leading to a valley lookout and self-guided nature trails.

5. The Crooked Bush (pictured at the top), located in the just outside of Hafford and Speers, is called a botanical mystery by the Friends of the Crooked Bush and was declared one of the ’54 Wonders of Canada’ by CBC’s ‘Morningside’ show. This trail tours a small cluster of aspen trees that twist and turn in horizontal and downward directions, giving the grove an eerie and, yet, mesmerizing appearance.

6. Wheatland Express Excursion Train is central Saskatchewan’s premier excursion and event passenger train operating between Cudworth and Wakaw’s rural communities. It is within 1 hour’s drive of Saskatoon. Enjoy more than just a train ride with their charming, onboard guides and an array of characters and musicians. Passengers can also enjoy prairie-inspired menus with locally sourced ingredients on the round-trip journey. Various themed tours are available throughout the year, and the train can even be chartered for private events!

7. Wolseley Heritage Tour & Swinging Bridge – Wolseley, also known as the “Town with the Swinging Bridge” is teeming with history. Pick up a Heritage Tour Booklet and check out the Town Hall/Opera House, courthouse, as well as other sites.

Top 12 Weekend Getaways for Families in Saskatchewan

If a mini vacation is in order, here are some of the top ways to spend it right here in Saskatchewan:

1. The Mackenzie Art Gallery​, located in Regina’s Wascana​ Centre, is reinventing the role of the public art gallery, using art and experiences to shed new light on the world. With a permanent collection that spans 5,000 years and nearly 5,000 works of art, including one of Canada’s largest collections of Indigenous art. Through art, education, and immersive programming, the MacKenzie brings fresh perspectives that transform how people experience history, themselves, and each other.

2. Broken Spoke Fine Art Gallery is a fine art gallery located in a 4,000-sq. ft. historic brick building. It features artists from Western Canada, an artist in residence program, and scheduled artist exhibits. Don’t leave without trying an all-natural frozen smoothie, available in a wide variety of flavours. The recent addition of a fenced courtyard with pond and gemstone mining area is popular with families.

3. Royal Saskatchewan Museum – Exhibiting a life-size cast of the world’s largest T. rex, Scotty, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina invites its visitors to explore Saskatchewan’s past and present through its dynamic and interactive displays. It is also a world-class research institution in palaeontology, sustainability, Indigenous studies, and biology. Its collections are part of Saskatchewan’s heritage and help scientists from all over the globe study our natural world!

4. Fort Battleford National Historic Site – Fort Battleford was established in 1876 and presided over some of the most pivotal events in the history of Western Canada. Discover the stories of settlers and the Indigenous people who lived beyond the fort’s walls, and explore the 5 original buildings, stockade, bastion, and barracks to see what life was like for the men of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) who made their home there during the 1800s.

5. The Prince Albert National Park Nature Centre features fun activities for the whole family. Enjoy films, puppets, costumes, and programs in this beautiful log building. Volunteer for special programs, such as the annual common loon survey.​ Join interpreters for off-site guided walks, outdoor programs, Wolf Howl, Bison CSI, children’s activities, Indigenous programming, and special events.

6. Big Muddy Outlaw Caves – Come visit and explore the hills and history resting in the Big Muddy Valley. You can relieve the history of cattle rustlers and horse thieves dodging the law on both sides of the border, as you look out of the cave where famous outlaws and their men hid from the law.

7. Manitou Springs – Often compared to the Dead Sea of Israel, the mysterious waters of Manitou is legendary for its natural buoyancy, mineral-rich properties, and curative powers. The water is so buoyant, it’s impossible to sink!

8. Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park– Stretching approximately 100 kilometres along the south shore of Lake Athabasca, the Athabasca Sand Dunes is the largest active sand surface in Canada. With outstanding scenery, dunes as high as 30 meters and a unique ecosystem that’s rich in rare plants, scientists consider the dunes an evolutionary puzzle.

9. Saskatchewan Science Centre – Igniting the scientific curiosity of young and old, Regina’s Saskatchewan Science Centre, located in Wascana Centre,​ offers ever-changing interactive exhibits, daily programming, stage shows, and much more. Onsite Kramer IMAX Theatre is the province’s only large-format 3D theatre, and features science, travel, and nature-oriented documentary films on its giant screen.

10. Temple Gardens – Found in the heart of historic downtown Moose Jaw, the Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa offers guests the ultimate Saskatchewan escape. The facility features 181 luxurious guest rooms and suites, as well as unlimited access to Canada’s largest natural geo-thermal mineral water indoor/outdoor pool.

11. Tunnels of Moose Jaw– Around 1908 an extensive system of tunnels were dug beneath Moose Jaw with the intention of running the city on steam power. These were quickly abandoned, and the city’s underbelly moved in.

12. Kenosee Superslides, located near the entrance of Moose Mountain Provincial Park, is a fun-filled attraction for the whole family! It has 10 waterslides, including an 8-storey “free-fall” and an 800-ft. lazy canal, plus a children’s pool with slides and a hot tub!

 

Visit Tourism Saskatchewan for more information on these and other great things to do in Saskatchewan.

Buying February 2, 2021

Is Buying a Fixer-Upper Worth It?

In the past few decades, it has become more and more popular to purchase a fixer-upper as a way to invest in real estate. With the invention of the internet and YouTube, any DIY-er can quickly learn how to do practically anything—from refinishing hardwood flooring to mudding and taping walls. Removing that old popcorn ceiling? No problem! Opening up the wall between the kitchen and the living room? Simple!

With a fixer upper, a real estate investor has the choice to contract the work or put in some sweat equity to really increase their ROI. Of course, the end goal is to make a profit when it comes time to sell. Whether the plan is to sell immediately or to live in the home for awhile and sell in the future, this can be a very realistic way to begin your real estate investing journey. So is buying a fixer-upper worth it?

Is Buying a Fixer Upper Right for You?

Perhaps the most important thing you need to ask yourself before you can answer that question is….is buying a fixer-upper right for you? Do you like to take on new projects? Do you have a vision of just how something should look? Are you creative, hands-on, or handy? Are you patient? Are you a team player? Are you able to manage large projects and the finances that come with them?

If you’ve answered yes to the majority of these questions, then perhaps you are ready for a fixer-upper!

What to Consider When Buying a Fixer Upper

Now that we know you are ready to buy a fixer-upper, let’s explore whether it is worth it.  Of course, there are many variables to consider, with location always remaining the key to any investment property. And the opportunity to buy a fixer-upper in a neighborhood that you may have not otherwise been able to will definitely make it worth it. If you are lucky enough to find a fixer-upper in a neighborhood you desire, there are a few things to consider before you buy.

Labour

First and foremost, decide whether you will be hiring a contractor to manage the renovation or if you will be contracting the project yourself and putting in some sweat equity. Do a cost analysis, figure out the costs to renovate the property based on a thorough assessment of the condition of the house. Be tough with this estimate, and include materials and labor. Decide which, if any, of the work you can do yourself and which projects will require a professional.

Cost

If you plan to hire a contractor, factor in their fees for managing the project. Next, work with your REALTOR® to determine a market value after the renovation and add on an additional 5-10% for extras, unforeseen problems, and mishaps that have to be dealt with. Work backwards from your market valuation, subtracting the cost of the project and make this your maximum offer price.

Home Inspection

If you decide hiring a contractor is still the best move, bringing them in for the home inspection before you close on the property is ideal. At this point, they can give you an idea of whether your renovation estimate is close or if you’ve missed something important.

At best, this inspection will reassure you that the house is a good investment; and at worst, it will give you the information you need to back out of a deal that you cannot profit from. Keep in mind that major repairs, like plumbing and electrical system overhauls, foundation upgrades, and extensive roof and wall work often go unseen and rarely raise the value of the home enough to offset renovation costs. This is why working with an experienced REALTOR® to estimate the post renovation market value will be key in determining whether this fixer-upper is worth it.

Types of Repairs Needed

The ideal fixer-upper is one that requires mostly cosmetic improvements, like paint touch-ups, drywall repairs, and floor refinishing. The expenses of these projects are typically much lower than their returns in market value. Updates to doors, lighting fixtures, windows, and siding, as well as renovations to kitchens and bathrooms, also tend to see high returns on their investments.

Falling in the middle of structural and cosmetic renovations are largescale additions needed to bring the house up to par with neighbouring properties, such as adding a family room or 3rd bedroom in a community of 3-bedroom homes. These renovations typically cost as much as or more than they make back in market value, with the exception being adding a bathroom, which can sometimes return as much as double the cost.

The bottom line is that every fixer-upper will be unique. Unless you are experienced with the cost of renovations, you will need to work with a contractor who can evaluate the property and help you determine a renovation budget. A post renovation market valuation by a real estate professional who takes into account the location and analyzes comparables that are currently on the market and recently sold will then help you determine if this project will turn a profit. This will give you the best estimate of whether buying that fixer-upper is worth it!

Selling January 1, 2021

The Difference Between a Home Valuation & a Property Appraisal

When you want to know what your home is worth, it’s easy to get confused between a home valuation and a property appraisal. Though they may seem to be the same thing, and in a lot of ways are very similar,  there are some very important differences between the two you’ll want to know in order to better understand the value being determined.

What is a Comparative Market Analysis?

A Comparative Market Analysis, also simply known as a CMA, is a method of property valuation completed by real estate professionals used to estimate the value of residential properties. Your REALTOR® will examine previously sold properties with similar features in your area to create a report to help you determine a realistic listing price for your home buyers may be willing to pay.  A typical CMA report will include:

  • 3-5 comparables, including:

    • A description of each property, including elevation, floor plan, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms

    • The square footage of each property

    • The sale price of each

    • Dollar adjustments for any differences

    • The adjusted sold price per square foot of each property

  • The fair market value of your property based on these comparables

Moreover than just comparing the prices of recently sold homes in the area, your REALTOR® will also take into consideration the following:

  • Neighborhood
  • Style
  • Construction
  • Condition
  • Layout
  • Finishes
  • Landscaping
  • Upgrades
  • Nearby Amenities

It’s important to understand that while your CMA is used to decide on a fair selling price, is not an official property appraisal. It hasn’t been prepared by a licensed real estate appraiser, doesn’t typically comply with appraisal standards, shouldn’t be relied on as an appraisal, and can’t be used for financing, civil proceedings, income tax purposes, or financial reporting purposes.

What is a Home Appraisal?

A property appraisal is an unbiased professional opinion of a home’s value, almost always used in real estate transactions and commonly used in refinancing a home. In a real estate transaction, a home appraisal is used to determine whether the home’s contract price is appropriate given the home’s condition, location, and features. In a refinance transaction, an appraisal assures the lender that it isn’t handing the borrower more money than the home is worth.

Similar to a comparative market analysis, a property’s appraisal value is influenced by recent sales of similar properties and by current market trends. The home’s features, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, floor plan functionality, and square footage are also key factors in assessing the home’s value. The appraiser must do a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior and note any conditions that adversely affect the property’s value, such as needed repairs, in an official appraisal report.

This report will include:

  • A street map showing the appraised property and comparable sales used
  • An explanation of how the square footage was calculated
  • Photographs of the home’s front, back, and surrounding area
  • Front exterior photographs of each comparable property used
  • Other pertinent information—such as market sales data, public land records, and public tax records that the appraiser requires to determine the property’s fair market value

Licensed real estate appraisers require special training and experience before they become full appraisers. Their methods for providing an appraisal go beyond using the sold prices of similar properties to arrive at an appropriate listing price.

The Bottom Line

It is a seller’s agent that will perform a free comparative market analysis in order to decide on the listing price they will use when marketing your home, while a buyer’s lender will usually be the one who requires an independent appraisal on a property. Simply put, the lender wants to make sure the property is worth what the buyer is paying for it. Just because other homes nearby have sold for a similar amount, it doesn’t mean a lender will be satisfied the home is worth what the buyer is paying for it. This way, if the buyer were to default on the mortgage and the property were to go into foreclosure, the lender wants to make sure it can recoup the money it has lent on the property. The lender will be more confident in its lending by reviewing an appraisal for the property.

BuyingFarm & Agriculture December 18, 2020

6 Tips for Buying Land

Wide open spaces. Views as far as the eye can see. Fresh air. Peace and Quiet. These may be some of the main reasons why owning a rural property appeals to you, and it’s an amazing dream, though it’s not without its pros and cons. But if after weighing the odds, it’s finally time to start hunting for that perfect piece of land, here are some tips to consider along the way:

Avoid Buying Land Without a REALTOR®

You’re more likely to find suitable land when you work with a qualified real estate agent who has experience with buying and selling lots, acreages, and farmland. An agent who keeps their finger on the pulse of land in your area will let you know the moment something new hits the market, and their experience will be invaluable when evaluating the land for your specific requirements. And, if they don’t know the answer to those details, they will definitely know who best to ask to find the answers you’re looking for.

An experienced local REALTOR® may even find you a hidden gem in an inexpensive home listing that is a fixer upper that you may not have even considered, allowing you to purchase for less than the value of the land, demolish the existing building, and start new!

Consider the Financing

Take into account your available cash and your chances of getting a loan. Mortgages for existing homes are different from financing for property or build loans. Some banks may even only approve you for 40% of the final cost, unlike a home mortgage where you can get 80% or more covered.

You may also have to pay cash for the property, followed by a construction loan for the structure. Talk to a loan specialist before you get excited about the properties you see. Make sure you know what you can afford before you fall in love with the land.

Investigate Regulations for the Property

Before you make an offer on a piece of land you should investigate whether there are restrictions tied to that property from the developer, if there is one, or within the municipality. Some restrictions from the developer could cover home size, outbuilding limits, and building materials requirements.

Check with the municipality to investigate the zoning guidelines, as well, especially if you are hoping to use your chosen property as farmland. They will be able to tell you whether you can have livestock, and if there is a limit to the number of animals based on the acreage, which can be especially helpful if you plan on using the property for horses. It’s also a good idea to check for flood histories on the land, as well.

Have it Inspected for Environmental Considerations

Never purchase land before you have it inspected by a professional. The features that they will look for will depend on how you plan to use the land. In an approved development, the developer most likely went through environmental testing as part of the subdivision and platting process. But if the testing hasn’t been done prior, like in the case where an existing structure needs to be demolished or the land has been abandoned for a number of years, you will want to check for soil contamination, soil quality, or potentially polluted groundwater.

Visit the Property Several Times

You can use topical map view tools, like Google Earth, to view a property and tour the neighborhood. However, no online tool can replace the experience of actually seeing a property in person. Live and in-person, you and your REALTOR® can best spot any details that might be too small for satellites to pick up, including:

  • Property access
  • Commuting distance
  • Topography
  • Neighbouring property use

Walking the land will also help you learn about invasive plant species that are native to the area, most of all in the area where you are considering building. And you can also check for possible trespassers or places where you’d consider installing fences.

Ask your REALTOR® to take you out there at different times of day so that you can listen for noise from nearby highways or railroad tracks at commuting times. You’ll see if people use the area for dumping or drug deals that you’ll have to deal with after you buy the land.

Hire a Surveyor

Don’t rely on an old map that shows where one property ends and a different one begins. An inaccuracy like this could eventually cost you a lot of money, and that is one risk you don’t want to take. Enlisting the help of a surveyor will be able to show you exactly where property lines are, so you can confidently move forward with any building or fencing without the worry of encroaching on neighbouring property.

 

While buying land can seem like a large project to undertake, with the right tips and the help of an experienced real estate professional, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming endeavour. And when it comes time to start your search, I’d be happy to help!

BuyingFarm & Agriculture December 4, 2020

The Pros & Cons of Country Living

Living in a city is great. Out of milk? The solution is simple with a quick run to the grocery store. Want to spend a night out and not worry about a ride home? A cab is just a phone call away! Many young people are drawn to city life for the convenience that it offers and so their journey into adulthood usually, but not always, begins in a city setting.

But perhaps as you grow older, and as the city of Saskatoon and its surrounding suburban communities continue to grow, you find yourself wishing for some peace and quiet, and the freedom that comes with not having to worry about the neighbors. It’s the pull of simplicity and the dream of having space to do what you want, when you want.

Those idealistic wishes may have you, like many others, drawn to look at acreages for sale over homes in the city. Before you go out and make a sudden decision, though, it’s important that you understand both the good and the bad living outside of the city offers.

The Benefits of Living in the Country

Let’s first start by defining country living. Are you thinking about purchasing a couple of acres in an acreage community where your neighbors aren’t so close but you still have the sense of community? Or are you thinking about buying hundreds of acres of farmland; secluded with no one to worry about but yourself.

These two are as different as urban living compared to rural living. No matter which one you choose, though, there is a definite appeal to living outside of the city.

  • The space that comes with living on a larger piece of land gives you ample room to raise your kids, enjoy your hobbies, and live life without feeling like someone is watching you.
  • It can be said that country living can provide a healthier lifestyle. It offers a boost to your physical and mental health, cleaner air, and less stress without the hustle and bustle of city traffic. For some, this alone is reason enough to get out of the city.
  • In most cases, owning land in a rural municipality comes with fewer restrictions and rules. You’ll find less zoning requirements and less permitting procedures so you are able to do just about anything you want, as long as it’s legal, of course. The sense of freedom that comes with the less stringent rules is irreplaceable.
  • When you’re living in the country you can say goodbye, for the most part, to all the noise that comes with living in a busy city. In many cases, it’s completely quiet—save for the noises from wildlife and nature.
  • Speaking of nature, living in the country allows you to live alongside and even raise your own animals. Whether you look out your window to find a deer making its way across your property or to see your horse out in the pasture, you’re sure to find joy in seeing that over your neighbors car.
  • Real estate prices are heavily dependent on location,. In most cases, rural land just doesn’t have as much demand as plots in the city. This means you’ll likely pay less per square foot. Buy in the country and build a bigger house!

With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why acreage communities are booming and why so many are looking to leave their city life behind.

The Cons of Living in the Country

Although living in the country does seem pretty great, there are some drawbacks to the lifestyle. Here are a few items to think about before you make the decision to leave city life behind.

  • Larger properties offer plenty of advantages, but also give you more to manage. If landscaping and cutting grass aren’t your thing, then rural living may not be right for you. Not only is it a lot of work, but it’s often harder and more costly to hire people to come out and do a quick job. It just isn’t worth their travel time, so you’re left either paying their commute fees or doing it yourself.
  • When you live far from the city everything requires a special trip. Whether it’s groceries, gas, supplies from the hardware store, or take-out, you have to really plan your outings and if you forget the milk, it may have to wait until next time.
  • Challenges with utilities should be considered before buying a piece of land. Ensure that there is relatively easy access to natural gas, electricity, water, and tv and internet services, as well as a septic system for your waste. If these services aren’t readily available, you’ll need to consider well water, and other heating options, as well as satellite tv and internet, which can often be less reliable. All these challenges can be overcome, but with an added cost. It’s a good idea to add those costs into the cost of your land per square foot to see if it’s as cost-effective as you were thinking it was.

 

Before pulling the trigger and moving out of the city of Saskatoon, ask yourself—do you enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life or dream of peace and quiet? Are you fascinated by towering skyscrapers and bright neon lights or favor the open sky and gentle moonlight?  If it’s your dream and you have the skills, experience, and resources required to make the move, country life could be waiting for you!

Ready to see what’s on the market? Check out acreages for sale near Saskatoon today!