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Scott H. & Rita W.
When I was ready and decided it was time to sell my home and upgrade to a new one, I immediately thought of and called upon Mike.  He is a real estate agent who really knows how to assist clients, and identify their needs in buying and selling a home.  He continually strives to stay informed of real estate and market changes. He fully understand the tools of the industry to buy and sell a...
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Daniel & Janet S.
Mike & Audrey were very knowledgeable and helpful in getting our house sold. They both worked hard in getting the price we needed to sell our house. The helpful ideas in staging the house was a bonus. We would definitely recommend Audrey and Mike.
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The Edmonton Real Estate Blog, Market Information, Advise & Opinion

 
Final Walk-Through: What to Expect at your Final Walk-Through before Closing
It's smart to perform a final walk-through before closing. It's your last chance to make sure the home you're about to buy is in the condition you're expecting. Here's some great tips that you may not have thought of in preparing for your final walk-through.

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Staging your Home: Advice for Sellers

Ten inexpensive real estate staging tips to help create a 'mood' or 'emotion' to entice and connect with potential home buyers.


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Financing: Advice for Homebuyers

This YouTube channel, provided courtesy of Chase, offers the ins and outs of mortgages, how the loan process works and how to select a lender. Worthy of viewing regardless of whom you select as your lender.


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First-Time Homebuyer Tips: Things to Know when Buying your First Home

First-time homebuyers need to keep their ownership goals in mind and make sure to not rush into decisions or feel pressured. This video offers some great lessons from real first-time home owners.


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In a market where sellers are in competition to make the most out of their largest investment, improving your home's first impression is one of the best ways to set it apart from the rest of the pack.

When prospective buyers or renters drive through your neighbourhood, what do they see? This is a really important question that you need to answer because it will help understand what your buyer is going to be looking for in a new home. Once you've answered this, ask yourself objectively if the front of your home is in keeping with the rest of the houses on your block. The first impression is critical in setting the mood for prospective agents and buyers. If your home's exterior looks like it needs work, then people immediately assume that it's a 'fixer-upper'. The opposite is true if your front yard is manicured, the roof is in good shape and the driveway is in good condition. Having a potential buyer walk into your front door in a positive mode can translate into big dollars for you.

Both Virginia Tech and the University of Guelph did studies in 2011 that measured the effect of landscaping on property values, and they both came to the same conclusion. To improve curb appeal, basic landscaping increased the home's value by 5%, but more extensive landscaping including decks and patios increased the homes value up to 15%.

So where do you spend the money?

Set your budget and be realistic about what you're trying to accomplish with it. Keep in mind that you are trying to create an excellent first impression to attract potential buyers. This isn't the opportunity for you to realize your landscaping dreams. Consider a new paint job using a colour scheme that highlights the character of your home. Install a new front door or at least update your door's hardware. Even something as simple as full and healthy planters can make a favourable impact.

One of the easiest ways to improve curb appeal is to have a clean and tidy front yard with a manicured lawn. Maybe this is the opportunity to invest in some new tools to help do the job properly. The best part about this type of investment is that not only will your plants and lawn look better with edging, pruning and cutting, you also get to take your new tools with you once you've sold your home.

The technology for landscaping tools has made the purchasing task much easier as well. Now you can get a hedge trimmer, string trimmer or sweeper & vac all in one system. With the Black & Decker 36V Lithium system, for example, you can use the same battery and charger for all three of those tools. A quick prune of the shrubs with the hedge trimmer, followed by a 'one-around' with the string trimmer and then tidying up with the sweeper will help you to maintain the front yard as short as 10 minutes per day.

The goal is to create an emotional connection at the first glance of any prospective buyer, so before you put that sign on the lawn, be sure to spend enough time at the curb.

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(BPT) - Your home's front door is more than a portal for family and friends - it makes a statement about your own personal style. Home designers often list the entry door as one of the most cost effective ways to dress up the front of your home for "wow" curb appeal.

"This Old House" magazine notes that since the front door is the first and last thing we touch when entering and leaving our homes, "it's easy to understand why many of us still like our doors to be made of wood - nothing else matches the material's warmth and satisfying heft."

"People choose wood entry doors first and foremost for their beauty; it's a fine piece of furniture on the front of your home," says Brad Loveless of Simpson Door Company.

For homeowners who enjoy the beauty of wood entry doors, options are now available to stand up to the harshest climates - from the wind-driven rains of Nantucket Island to the desert Southwest. Following are three ways to have the wood door you want and to ensure it will look great for years, no matter what the climate throws at it.

Bring your dreams to life

With doors available in hundreds of wood species, and numerous designs and glass options, it can be hard to envision how a particular door will look like on your home. Short of hiring an architect to make a sketch, most people have had to rely on their imaginations. Recently, easy-to-use, free online tools have become available to simplify the door selection process. For example, Simpson's "Test Drive a Door" enables people to upload a photo of their home and view different door options on it. This allows a homeowner to be sure before they buy.

Go for performance

People are used to looking for high performance when shopping for new cars or computers, but might not realize the same approach can apply to doors. Manufacturers have developed high-performance wood doors with superior weather resistance that last in the most demanding exposures, including coastal homes with no porch or roof overhang to protect the door.

One high-performance option to consider is choosing wood species that perform best in moist conditions, as this varies among wood types. Species that have been shown in laboratory testing to have natural moisture resistance include Douglas Fir, Black Locust, Nootka Cypress and Sapele Mahogany, among others. In recognition of the use of such species and advanced joinery techniques, "Window & Door" magazine selected Nantucket Collection doors from Simpson as its "Most Innovative Door."

Another performance option some manufacturers offer in their wood doors is water-resistant composite blocks within the bottom of the door, where water can infiltrate. Doors also are available with full exterior cladding to protect them from rain and sun, while retaining the beauty of wood inside the home.

A strong finish

With any door, whether made of wood, steel or fiberglass, it is crucial to finish it for long-lasting protection from the elements. Doors are sold either factory finished or unfinished. If unfinished, the door must be finished by the door dealer, a contractor or the homeowner. Manufacturers provide step-by-step instructions for best results from finishing, and those steps typically must be followed to ensure warranty requirements. Chief among these are to finish all six sides - front, back and all edges. As no wood surface should be left unfinished, finish should also be applied to the cut-outs for the handle and lock set, as well as any other openings, such as for mail slots or pet doors.

If the door is exposed to sun, it is generally better to use lighter color paints or stains as those absorb less heat from damaging UV rays.
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(NC) Working in a 'green' office building isn't just good for the environment; it's good for your health.

We've all been there - at a desk job for 35 to 60+ hours a week, sitting all day long with harsh overhead lighting and bad air circulation. Now imagine working in a space that was specifically designed to provide fresh air, less noise pollution and more access to natural daylight, all while sustaining the environment. That's what it's like to work in a green building.

Furthermore, a 2013 study from the National Research Council of Canada made a clear connection between working in a green building and happier employees. The study concluded that those employees experience fewer sick days, better sleep quality, and fewer physical or mental symptoms associated with office work.

Not only do you benefit personally from working in a green building, but you will be actively making a difference to the environment. For example, since 2005, the buildings that are certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which include some of Canada's greenest structures, have:
• Saved over 3.3 billion litres of water or 1300 Olympic swimming pools;

• Saved enough energy to power 54,307 homes for a full year; and

• Reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 58,980 cars off the roads for a year.

Green office spaces are becoming more common across Canada with many of the downtown office towers in major cities already LEED certified or targeting certification. But how do you know if you're working in a green building?

Look for signs in the lobby that indicate it is certified LEED, BOMA or Green Globes. You can also ask your facilities manager about what green initiatives have been implemented, or encourage them to consider greening some of their practices. Organizations like the Canada Green Building Council (www.cagbc.org/leedcanada) are also a valuable resource to help you or your employer get started.

Sources: Do Green Buildings Outperform Conventional Buildings?, Birt, Newsham et al., NRC RR-329, 2013

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With a little bit of elbow grease, and everyday household ingredients, your kitchen appliances can look (and smell) like new for years to come.
 

Dishwasher: Most homeowners believe that the regular use of a commercial rinse aid is enough to keep a dishwasher clean. Melissa Glover, an appliance specialist for Lowe's stresses that regularly cleaning the seams and liner of your dishwasher is also imperative to its effectiveness. "Over time, residue and food particles build up, and can affect the outcome of your wash cycle. Bacteria buildup can also cause lingering, unpleasant odours." Glover recommends using a scouring pad dipped in baking soda to remove residue and stains from the interior surface and crevices of your dishwasher. Next, fill the detergent pocket with lemonade powder (yes, lemonade) and run a regular cycle (or cleaning cycle). The ascorbic acid in the powder will help to safely remove any remaining buildup, and will leave your dishwasher smelling clean and fresh.
 

Oven/ Range: Cleaning an oven can be a tough job. However there are natural and effective alternatives for cleaning even the toughest baked-on spills. Start by loosening any baked-on food inside your oven using a plastic spatula. Next, squeeze the juice from 2 lemons into an oven safe dish, and throw in the lemon remains. Turn on your oven and bake the lemons/juice for 30 minutes at 250 degrees. The citric acid will help to loosen any residue that may still be inside your oven, while releasing a fresh lemon scent. Using the rough side of a scouring sponge dipped in baking soda, scrub away the remaining debris, and wipe the oven clean using a cloth and warm water. You'll be amazed at how fresh your next lasagna will taste, after being baked in a naturally cleaned oven.
 

Refrigerator: It's hard to believe that the cleanliness of your fridge can impact the taste and lifespan of your non- perishable foods. Glover further explains that cleaning your refrigerator monthly with natural ingredients can dramatically extend the life and quality of your produce. Start by removing all of the food from your refrigerator and discarding items that are aged or expired. Combine ½ cup of baking soda with 1 tbsp of vinegar and stir to form a thick paste. Apply a small amount of paste to a soft scouring pad, and scrub away any stains that may exist. Follow by wiping the refrigerator clean with a damp sponge (an old toothbrush can be used on small spaces and crevices as well. ) Shelves and drawers should be removed for cleaning if necessary. Don't forget to vacuum the undercarriage of your fridge, and to wipe down the outside using a cloth with warm water and vinegar. The same steps can be followed to clean your freezer, however you'll need to work quickly and use hot water to rinse. Keep a small carton or bowl of baking soda at the back of fridge to help keep it fresh.

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