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Building a Smart Home in Edmonton: 4 Essential Questions to Ask Your Contractor

As technology continues to advance, smart home devices are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners in Edmonton, Alberta. These innovative technologies not only enhance convenience but also provide improved security and energy efficiency. If you're planning a home renovation or new construction project, it's crucial to choose a contractor who is well-versed in smart home technology. Asking the right questions will ensure that your contractor has the expertise and experience to integrate these systems seamlessly into your home. In this article, we'll discuss four essential questions to ask your contractor about smart home technology in Edmonton.

1. What experience do you have with smart home installations?

The first and most crucial question to ask your contractor is about their experience with smart home installations. Inquire about their knowledge of smart home devices, brands, and systems. Look for a contractor who has successfully completed similar projects in the past, preferably in Edmonton or the surrounding areas. A contractor with hands-on experience will be familiar with the intricacies of smart home technology and can guide you through the selection and installation process smoothly.

2. Can you recommend the best smart home devices for my needs?

With countless smart home devices available in the market, choosing the right ones for your home can be overwhelming. A knowledgeable contractor will understand your requirements and suggest the best smart home devices that align with your lifestyle and budget. They should have expertise in various aspects of smart home technology, including security systems, lighting controls, thermostats, voice assistants, and more. Their recommendations should be tailored to your specific needs, ensuring you make informed decisions about the devices that will enhance your daily life.

3. How will the smart home devices integrate my existing or planned infrastructure?

Integration is a critical aspect of any smart home installation. You'll want to ensure that the devices seamlessly integrate with your existing or planned infrastructure. Ask your contractor how they plan to incorporate the devices into your home's electrical and network systems. A competent contractor will have a clear understanding of the technical requirements and potential challenges involved in integrating smart home devices. They should be able to explain the process and provide a timeline for the installation, keeping you informed every step of the way.

4. Will you provide ongoing support and maintenance for smart home technology?

Smart home technology requires periodic maintenance and software updates to ensure optimal performance. It's essential to inquire whether your contractor provides ongoing support and maintenance services. Ask about their warranty policies and whether they offer assistance in case of device malfunctions or upgrades. A reliable contractor will stand behind their work and be available to address any issues that may arise after the installation.

When incorporating smart home technology into your Edmonton home, choosing the right contractor is crucial. By asking these four essential questions, you can ensure that your contractor has the expertise and experience to seamlessly integrate smart home devices. Remember to inquire about their experience, ask for device recommendations, understand the integration process, and clarify their support and maintenance policies. By partnering with a reputable contractor knowledgeable in smart home technology, you can transform your home into a modern, efficient, and secure living space.

Investing in smart home technology is an exciting venture, and finding the right contractor will make all the difference. Embrace the power of automation and enhance your Edmonton home with the convenience and efficiency of smart home devices.

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Answers to Common Questions  About Preparing Your Home to Sell

Sellers are motivated to get the best price for their homes, but they don't always know what that entails. Real estate agents often meet with sellers who think they need to spend thousands of dollars remodelling in order to market their home, or at the other extreme, sellers who expect a high price but don't want to put in the work. 


While the amount of work you should put into your home before selling depends on your local market, in general, the truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. To demystify the process, here are answers to five questions that we often hear from sellers, presented by Jason Hafso of MaxWell Challenge Realty.

What Should I Repair?

Begin with any deferred maintenance such as the water heater, a roof tune-up, and crawl space insulation. Most buyers are shopping for a move-in-ready home and don't want to spend time and money on major repairs before occupying the house. That's why it's often recommended to handle major repairs before selling. If you don't, you could end up losing more than the cost of repairs due to low offers and a protracted sale process. If you don't have the time, money or drive to complete major repairs before putting your home on the market, it's important to price your house accordingly. Don't think you can sneak problems past a buyer; if an issue is present, it will be noticed during the buyer's inspection.


Minor household repairs are an easier call. While homeowners grow accustomed to quirks including sagging doors and squeaky floorboards, such issues distract prospective buyers and cause your house to be remembered as “the one with the sketchy railing” instead of “the one with the great family room.”

Should I Renovate Before Selling?

Once repairs are complete, the sellers' next question is usually about cosmetic improvements. Expensive projects like upgrading kitchen appliances usually aren't necessary unless they're majorly outdated. Instead, focus on low-cost, high-impact updates. Which renovations are best for your return on investment are dependent on the local market so defer to your real estate agent on this subject.  

How Much Does Curb Appeal Really Matter?

The one area where it's worthwhile to go above and beyond is your home's exterior. The first step in selling a home is making a great first impression, but that's hard to do without great curb appeal. If your plantings are sparse, potted plants are a quick fix that lets you avoid transplant shock. Container plants near the entrance are also a great way to spruce up your front porch.


Pay attention to driveways and walkways: In addition to washing these surfaces, homeowners should fix unsightly cracks. For concrete driveways, follow instructions from Bob Vila. If your driveway is asphalt, Lowe's will show you how.

Do I Need to Deep Clean?

No one wants to buy a dirty house, so it makes sense to deep clean before showing your home (cleaning service will typically charge between $75 and $125). In addition to keeping floors, windows and counters clean, take note of odours lingering in your home. If carpet and upholstery cleanings fail to eliminate an unpleasant odour, turn your nose to the air ducts. Air ducts and vents can host a variety of odour-causing contaminants such as pet dander and mildew; if your ventilation system is the source of odour, you'll need to schedule a professional duct cleaning to solve the problem. 


Once a home is sold, it's standard to leave it “broom clean” for buyers. However, some contracts may stipulate the house is to be deep cleaned before changing hands. Talk with your agent so you're clear about what level of cleanliness your contract requires.


If your agent instructs you to clean, repair and update your home before showing it, he's not just giving you a hard time. Homes that have been cleaned show better, which leads to less time on the market and higher offers. Unless maximizing your sale price isn't a priority, completing these tasks is in your best interest as a seller.


Jason Hafso of MaxWell Challenge Realty is passionate about helping people buy or sell homes. Call me at 780-964-7335 if you’re ready to get the process started!


Suzie Wilson has been an interior designer for over 20 years. What started as a hobby, turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. Her debut book, The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is COMING SOON to online retailers and bookstores near you!

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Interest rates are down – should you break your mortgage?

(NC) The pandemic is causing many of us to re-evaluate our finances. If you are thinking of renegotiating your mortgage to take advantage of a lower interest rate, be aware that this could mean having to break your mortgage contract.

If you break your mortgage contract you may have to pay a fee, called a prepayment penalty.

Before breaking your mortgage, make sure the benefits outweigh the costs. Far too many homeowners who have broken their mortgage contracts have been shocked by penalties amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, or other fees required to complete the transaction.

Know the costs

Every mortgage contract contains different terms and conditions. Federally regulated financial institutions must provide you with key information in a box at the beginning of the mortgage agreement, including information about any penalties and fees that will apply if you break your mortgage contract.

As a consumer, you have the responsibility to read your mortgage agreement and understand the penalties and fees associated with breaking your mortgage contract. Call your financial institution to speak to a knowledgeable person for detailed information on prepayment penalties or check out the prepayment penalty calculator available on their website.

Consider other options

Some mortgage lenders may allow you to extend the length of your mortgage before the end of its term to take advantage of a lower interest rate. With this option, you don’t have to pay a prepayment penalty. Lenders call this option the blend-and-extend, because your old interest rate and the new term’s interest rate are blended. Keep in mind that you may need to pay administrative fees.

Depending on the cost to break your mortgage, it may be best to wait until the end of its term and shop around for a new contract that provides a lower interest rate or more flexibility.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides unbiased and fact-based information on mortgages you can count on. You can learn more about the costs of breaking your mortgage at canada.ca/money.

 
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Think twice before borrowing against your home equity

(NC) An estimated three million Canadians have one, and they have emerged as the single largest contributor to the growth of household debt in Canada.


Yet many consumers do not appear to fully understand how they work.


No, we’re not talking about credit cards or car loans. We’re talking about home equity lines of credit or HELOCs.


According to a 2019 survey by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, many people appear to lack awareness of the terms and conditions of this widely sold financial product, exposing them to the risk of over-borrowing, carrying debt for extended periods and uninformed decision-making.


HELOCs are a secured form of revolving credit. The lender uses your home as a guarantee that you'll pay back the money you borrow. And, as you pay your HELOC down, you can borrow it again, up to a maximum credit limit.


Most major financial institutions offer them with a mortgage as a combined product, which is sometimes called a readvanceable mortgage. Many use them for renovations, debt consolidation, vehicle purchases and day-to-day expenses.


When used responsibly, HELOCs can benefit consumers through low interest rates, convenient access to funds and flexible repayment terms.


Unfortunately, the convenient features of HELOCs can encourage consumers to add too much to their debt load.


In fact, 27 per cent of those who responded to FCAC’s survey said they make mainly interest-only payments on their HELOCs. Considering that, on average, Canadians owe about $65,000 on their HELOCs, this means many homeowners end up carrying debt for long periods.


So, if you have a home equity line of credit or are considering getting one, you need to ask yourself:

  • Would a HELOC tempt you to use your home like an ATM?
  • Could you still afford HELOC payments if you lose your job or interest rates go up?
  • Are you prepared to stick to a plan to pay it off fully, and avoid continually borrowing against your home equity?

Those are just some of the questions to consider before borrowing money that will be secured by your home equity.

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