Real Estate 101: Your Buyer Checklist

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Crystal Tost is an award winning real estate agent in Calgary – if you are looking for homes in Calgary click here

Real Estate 101: Your Buyer Checklist

Purchasing real estate may be overwhelming at first, considering all the things you need to study and learn to ensure that you make the right investment. But if you are equipped with the right tools and knowledge, it can save you from making seriously costly mistakes. For buyers looking to purchase a home, whether it’s your first, second or third, knowledge will be your best friend. And with some perseverance, buying your ideal property will be easier than you think.

To make it simple for you, we’ve created a buyer’s checklist to guide you on this endeavor.

  1. First, think about what it is you’re looking for in real estate. Separate your wants from your needs. Crucial factors for good real estate include location, size, style, and occupants. If you are still single, you can look at lofts, condominiums, and studios. If you are planning to have a family, you can look at homes and townhouses of different sizes.
  2. As real estate involves money, you will also need to consider is how much you can afford. When assessing your financial capacity to purchase real estate, it’s recommended that you analyze your debt (if any), monthly income, and credit status. You should also inquire about various down payment plans that will allow you to buy property but still be able to live a comfortable life.
  3. Real estate is primarily about location. An ideal location for others may not be an ideal location for you. So when deciding on buying a home, check your lifestyle, personal preferences, and the prospective home’s distance from your work. Meanwhile, location’s security is also a must-think. The internet is a good place to research about local crime rates, safety, commuting options, and traffic in the neighborhood of your choice. Other factors you should consider in a location include the proximity of a hospital or clinic, school, and other local recreational amenities such as parks, movie theaters, restaurants, and shops.
  4. The next step is to choose a type of mortgage and obtain pre-approval. Before you choose a mortgage broker, it’s crucial to do your homework and shop around before deciding. Brokers offer a range of interest rates, and it’s best to go with one that is well-suited to your needs as well as financial capabilities. It is highly recommended you deal with a mortgage broker when deciding on this aspect.
  5. Work with highly recommended realtors, and if you are new to real estate, asking for referrals especially in the neighborhood of your choice will be helpful. Good realtors will take the stress out of buying real estate as they can help you find property that suits your individual preferences and will also help you with payment options.
  6. Finally, avoid the mistake of purchasing right away. Here’s another often overlooked tip: narrow down your options to five, visit them all to get a feel for the whole property. Many buyers experience having “cold feet” when purchasing a home because they have not looked at enough options before deciding. So remember, even if you are decided on a property, you should still try to negotiate with your broker to increase your chances of getting a good deal.

These are some of the most basic points you should consider when buying real estate. Remember that going into the industry without this checklist in mind may be a pricey mistake. Why risk that when finding your dream home can be ease-free?

Crystal Tost

Celebrate August 25th and Help Support St. Jude Children’s Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Hospital operates from yearly events and donations, and this year’s 5th Annual Songwriters Supper is the ideal means for each of us to help support St. Jude Children’s Hospital and their fight against childhood cancer and disease.  The event takes place at the Sports Authority Field at Mile High which is considered the best place for an event celebration.

This year’s event, Under the August Moon will start at 6 pm with cocktails and a silent auction which will take place on the sports field.  Guests will then begin to walk the same walk the Bronco players take to reach the United East Club Lounge, where dinner will be served at 8 pm.  They will also enjoy a special dedication and a live auction.

This is truly one of the most enjoyable ways for adults to support St. Jude Children’s Hospital with tickets being a tax deduction.  The cost is $150 per ticket or $1000 per table of eight.  Donations are also greatly appreciated.

Break out the cocktail and cowboy attire and come help us in our celebration to support St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

For Further Information contact:

Sarah Ford
ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
(303) 377-9987

Benefits of International Tourism on Colorado Business

Vail Valley may not exactly be on the hot-list of international tourists and is thus contributing only in small measures to the state’s economy, but over the next couple of years this scene is bound to change not just in Vail Valley but in the whole of Colorado.

A panel discussion was held on Thursday during the annual Vail Valley Business Forum, which is a part of Vail Valley Partnership. All participants present voiced their opinion on how important international tourism is, they opined that if Denver International Airport was to have more new flights it could help bring even more tourists and visitors into the region.

Earlier in the year in the month of May, United Airlines announced their plans to launch nonstop service on Denver – Tokyo sector from next year. Many view this move as a good start to boost business in Denver. Icelandair has plans to launch nonstop service starting this year on the Denver – Reykjavik, Iceland sector. With these new flights service would be opened up to various European cities.

CEO and President, Visit Denver, the convention and visitor bureau for Denver, Richard Scharf said that he believed that international tourism was a major contributor (“saved our bacon” as he put it) last year and that is why they would prefer being aligned in Vail with the business society. He also added that a major portion of his organization’s group business came from outside US and this is what they were trying to attract. He went on to say that the potential for international growth was huge and so more flights could be expected in the near future.

CEO of a transportation consultation company CRL Associates, Maria Garcia Berry also a panel member referred to the Reykjavik and Tokyo flights and said that Denver International Airport could serve as a major intermountain west hub. She added that the Tokyo flights were very important and could not be afforded to fail.

Scharf said that Visit Denver already had links with Colorado Ski Country USA and Vail Resorts to offer groups visiting Denver extended-visit packages. He added that more such alliances needed to be formed.

He said that they need to determine how to build a brand as a state.

Building Colorado as a brand needed to go beyond tourism and this would be very important as only then can more businesses be convinced to relocate to the state.

Richard Wobbekind said that tourism played an important role in building up the economy of the state however it does not create jobs that attract high salaries. Richard Wobbekind is the Senior Associate Dean – Associate Programs and Executive Director – Business Research Division at Boulder’s University of Colorado. He said that the high-paying jobs were essential as Vail Valley was a relatively expensive place and only such jobs could help build the economies. Such jobs could be created through industries like health and wellness.

And these high-salaried jobs generally start when tourists start frequenting the place.

According to Scharf 80 percent of the relocated businesses to Colorado was because someone linked to those companies came to Colorado on vacation. He added that this was one reason why Colorado needed continued marketing efforts to advertise it.

However, he also said, it was important to try and attract those businesses into the Colorado state that other states may not be interested in. He said for instance his group was trying to attract the outdoor retailers’ association to hold their annual meeting in Colorado. He opined that it was necessary to follow up companies that had the same lifestyle as Colorado as it allows focusing on things that are inherent to the state and its people.

However to chase companies willing to relocate and also attract international visitors, the different regions of the state need to coordinate, cooperate and communicate with each other.

53 percent of the population in the state lived in only 7 counties in the Front Range said Garcia Berry. And people residing in these counties need help to understand how the economy in their home town could be improved by the state.

The program was wide-ranging and touched on topics ranging from transportation to real estate. Panel members felt that Interstate 70 needed improvement and some kind of transit system needed to be explored.

On completion of the session Chris Hanen, General Manager of Evergreen Lodge said the news he heard was encouraging. He said that there were numerous options available out there and there were a lot of things happening.

It’s Time to Give thanks and Walk for St. Jude

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is famous for its mission to provide the best care to children without ever asking for a dime in return from the children or their families. However, did you know that the Hospital is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that is completely devoted to and focused on children? For patients of St. Jude’s Cancer Center Programs, the Hospital also provides the new Cancer Prevention & Control Program which works to provide the long-term follow-up care that the hospital’s patients need after they have completed their treatment at the Cancer Center. Come out and help us support these important causes at the St. Jude Give thanks. Walk. this coming November 17, 2012.

We welcome you to visit our website for more information and to register at

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Property Prices in Wales

Property prices in Wales are going to be subdued throughout this year. Market for residential property has largely been struggling this year. Sales have been falling with the most recent statistics showing that sales have fallen by 17.5%, as the prices per unit tumbled down. In the month of April the prices for houses went down on average by 0.3% compared to the month of March. However in the upper tier of the properties’ market some level of resilience is being seen. The upper tier in the market has created some disparity in the annual house prices.

The Welsh housing market is different from other markets in Europe. At the forefront places in Wales with the highest prices including Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan, have had the largest increases in pricing per unit while areas with the lowest prices had the biggest fall in prices. This is a unique phenomenal only found in Wales. The constriction of the mortgages market for first time home buyers has helped to dampen the housing market. The adverse whether conditions have also impacted negatively on the market. Property buyers were not enthusiastic in viewing new houses as the heavy rainfall experienced in April kept people in their homes.

Competition in the properties market was dampened by the more than normal rainfall in April. The reduced number of first time home buyers participating in the market is bound to have a long term effect on the market. Securing mortgages for first time home buyers is still hard which has deflated the prices in the market. The month on month prices will remain deflated into the foreseeable future due to the hardships being experienced by first timers. Lenders are also suffering as they face more pressure on their lending abilities as a result of the financial crisis in the world.

Many first time home buyers in Wales are finding it hard to acquire home ownership. However the Bank of England seems like is going to offer some relief. The new funding for lending if successful would enable first timers to get affordable rates on their mortgages from mortgage lenders. Wealthier buyers and rich retirees have been instrumental in keeping the properties market going. The prices are higher compared to the same time last year.

The housing market will remain subdued this year due to the economic slow down and the difficulties of securing a mortgage. The Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics will also impact negatively on the market. Activity in the market will be similar to those seen in 2006 and 2007.

Safeguarding Rent Deposits in Scotland

Estimates provided by the Scottish government suggest that between 8,000 and 11,000 tenants in the country have their deposits held wrongly each year by their landlords. A new scheme aimed at safeguarding rent deposits for residential properties has come into force in Scotland. The new scheme came into force on Monday 02 July 2012. According to the Scottish Housing Minister, Keith Brown deposits amount to over £75 million. This amount is obtained from the majority of 273,000 households which form the bulk of private rented homes in the country.   The new scheme although compulsory will allow landlords and letting agents to participate freely.

Landlords and letting agents will opt into the scheme free of charge. Several safeguards have been implemented to ensure landlords can get legitimate access to deposits. The landlords under this scheme will only access the deposits under justified circumstances. Tenants will be protected from dishonest landlords. The tenants won’t need to seek for legal redress to get their deposits back. In essence tenants will get to enjoy a free, independent dispute resolution system if the tenants are not able to agree with the landlords about deposit refunds.

The institutions set up to provide this service are Letting Protection Service Scotland, Mydeposits Scotland and SafeDeposits Scotland. These institutions will accept the deposits for house leases from landlords or letting agents for safekeeping. These institutions will also communicate about this to the tenants.  All the details about the tenancy will be conveyed to the tenants by these institutions. As from the 2nd July landlords are at liberty to submit the deposits held by them to the scheme voluntarily.

However depending on when the tenancy agreement commenced, the law has set out a limit within which the landlords are to deposit the deposits with an approved scheme. The deadlines are between November 2012 and May 2013. The majority of landlords in Scotland are responsible and honest in their dealings. The new scheme is only meant to tame the few errant landlords who are tarnishing the image of private rented houses sector.

The tenancy deposit scheme is expected to yield a transparent and fair system for all tenants and their landlords. According to Marieke Dwarshuis, a director at Consumer Focus Scotland what remains for the success of the scheme is to have the landlords and the tenants informed about it. Understand their rights and responsibilities will help to ensure the success of the scheme.

In the video below, watch Eddie Hooker, CEO of my|deposits Scotland explain what the TDP legislation is, who it will affect, and what tenants, landlords and letting agents are required to do and by when.

China’s New Home Prices

The actions being taken by the Chinese government to strengthen the economy are now yielding the intended results. For the first time in 10 months the prices for new homes have increased in the country. This is according to data provided by SouFun Holdings, the biggest real estate website owner in the country. The easing on monetary policies by the Chinese government has been applauded as a step in the right direction. Home prices in the month of June increased by 0.1% from the previous month of May. This saw the pricing for houses increase to 8,688 yuan ($1,367) per square meter.

A survey conducted in 100 cities showed that Beijing had the biggest gains among the 10 biggest cities. According to the survey prices for homes went up by 2.3% from May. Shenzhen, China’s southern business hub was second with a rise of 0.8%.  China’s Vice Premier Li Keqiang, confirmed that controls by the government to prevent speculative home demand will continue. According to Xinhua News Agency the Vice Premier also called for the building of more affordable housing units in the country.

Although the government’s hand in the housing industry is still evident, it has also been instrumental in helping first time home buyers access funding. The government has helped to ease funding offered by lenders. The central bank’s cut on the benchmark one year lending rate in June was the first since the last cut done in 2008. The cut has influenced market sentiments. “Buyers are optimistic, they expect the government to be less stringent in smaller cities,” these were sentiments expressed by Jeffrey Gao, a property analyst based in Shanghai.

Mortgage providers in Beijing offered clients who were first time buyers mortgages at 15% discount. The discount was on the 6.8% benchmark rate. This discount was offered after the country’s central bank cut the borrowing costs. According to Wu Hao, a manager in Beijing’s second largest real estate broker, Bacic & 5i5j Group in the second half of 2011, buyers paid between 5% and 10% above the benchmark rate.

Some developers in the country have even called off discounts or raised prices after the increase in sales. Sales this year have increased, in the month of May the increase was by 19% to hitting the 375.7 billion yuan mark, based on information from the statistics bureau. The country’s largest developer, Evergrande Real Estate Group saw its sales volume hit a record 10.5 billion yuan in May.

Falling Prices for Country Houses in The UK

The price of country houses in the United Kingdom has gone down yet again. In the year 2012 during the second quarter the prices went down by 1.5%. Data obtained from the latest release by Knight Frank on country house index shows that the annual price decline has increased to 4.8% from the previous figure of 3.9% in the first quarter. Similarly the decline from the first quarter on country house prices was at a paltry 0.2% compared to the 1.5% in the 2nd quarter. This is a big decline expected to affect the market in the long term.

However, contrary to the trend witnessed, prices for country houses worth about £5 million and more had an increase in their prices. During the first quarter of the year these properties saw an increase of 0.8% on their prices. The increase on price for property worth £5 million and above continues to increase and on the year increase was by a whopping 3.5%. Property owners in London are also benefiting from the increase in prime property prices. A simple example could help to drive the point home, a family owning a home in central London in early 2009 valued at £2.4 million can today sell their home for £3.52 million.

Property prices in London are higher than the previous highs seen in 2009. The price on property in prime central London has risen by 48%.  This increase on prices in London is creating demand for country commuter spots. Prices for prime property in places like Guildford have gone up by 0.2% as a result, while in other areas such as Oxford and Henley they have gone up by 2.5% and 0.5% respectively. According to Grainne Gilmore, the head of research in UK’s residential market at Knight Frank, the current currency movements have affected prime country property market.

The prime country property market today is more attractive for overseas investors. Russian buyers are particularly active in this market segment. The currency movements are making the market attractive to virtually all buyers from foreign countries. Buyers from Singapore buying a home in the UK can enjoy a 40% discount compared to prices in March 2008. This is as a result of the house prices and currency movements. Buyers using the American Dollar have a chance of getting a 34% discount on the price while those using the Euro can get a discount of more than 20%.

New Property Investment Opportunities in Brazil

Brazil is the world’s 6th largest economy. The country is regarded as one of the best performing real estate market. Statistics from Knight Frank’s Global House Price Index, show Brazil as having the second highest annual house price growth. Its growth was at 23.5% in the first quarter of 2012. The growth in the housing markets in Sao Paulo has seen the prices for houses increase by 18.7% year on year during the first 3 months of the year, 2012.

A new direct flight connecting Sao Paulo in Brazil with the United Arab Emirates expected to start in June 2013 is expected to open new investment opportunities. The investment opportunities to be borne out of this connection are expected to be in real estate. Real estate developers in Sao Paulo are excited by the prospects offered by Abu Dhabi’s Airliner the Etihad. According to the Brazilian ambassador to the UAE, the flights by Etihad Airways to Sao Paulo will create opportunities for the government, trade, tourism and cultural exchanges.

Dean Thomas, who is the director of DLT International in Brazil, a condominium Development Company, he believes that an increase in business is eminent. Commercial relations between North America and the Middle East are expected to improve drastically. Certainly interest in business opportunities in Brazil has been growing in the Middle East. According to Dean Thomas who has been in business in Brazil for more than six years the growth in interest has been growing steadily. About three years ago now, DP World a company registered in the UAE bought a majority stake in Embraport, Brazil. Embraport, a new port terminal next to Porto de Santos, the country’s largest container terminal.

Mubadala Development an Abu Dhabi Government owned strategic company went into a deal with EBX Group. The deal was worthy $2 billion and it was struck earlier this year. EBX Group has interests in oil, gas and the gold industry. More developments are expected to take place soon. Emirates Airline started flying into Rio de Janeiro earlier this year. The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing is expected to open an office in Sao Paulo.

Thomas believes that Emirati’s are competent investors. Emirati’s are able to spot new opportunities and take advantage of the opportunities. The robust economy in Brazil coupled with its wealth from natural resources and a growing number of middle class families makes the country an ideal place for foreign investors.

Global Day Colorado 2012 Announced

2012 Global Business & Alliances Colorado Council is excited to announce “Global Day Colorado”.  Be sure to mark your calendars and look for coming news.

August 23, 2012
10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Denver Metro Association of REALTORS®
4300 E Warren Ave
Denver, Colorado

GLOBAL DAY COLORADO Mission: To establish successful global business relationships for Colorado REALTORS® in these 3 areas

  • Tourism
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Agriculture

and create networking/business opportunities with our Sister Cities, Chambers, Consulates, World Trade Center and other international organizations as well to promote our dynamic “come to life” State of Colorado globally, a win-win-day for all!

Special Guest Speakers Include:

Zachary Benjamin
Business Development & Outreach Manager
National Association of REALTORS® Global Businesses & Alliances
Chicago, Illinois

Laura McLaughlin, Country Manager, US
Foreign Currency Exchange
Moneycorp, LLC., Orlando, Florida

Other guest speakers, experts in the Tourism, Sustainable Energy, and Agricultural areas, will be announced in the near future!

Check back for more information at

(“Come to life” a phrase used by the State of Colorado Tourism as referenced in the Denver Post, April 4, 2012)

2012 Global Business & Alliances Colorado Council: Inge Frerichs (Chair), Jennifer ElpersWell, Gretchen Faber, Howard Leino, Brian Kinkade, Deborah Lepercq, Franci Wunderlich, Aline Chambre, Anapaula Schock, Gayle Stallings