25 Feb

#becauseofyou

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

Government of Canada launches #BecauseOfYou campaign for International Women’s Day to honour trailblazers in women’s rights Français


NEWS PROVIDED BY

Women and Gender Equality Canada

Feb 24, 2020, 10:32 ET


OTTAWA, Feb. 24, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, launched the Government of Canada’s campaign for this year’s International Women’s Day, Because of You. Featuring 9 Canadian trailblazers, including athlete Christine Sinclair, businesswoman Ann Devine, and Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Donna Strickland, the campaign will profile those who are making the world a better place by challenging cultural and societal norms, amplifying the voices of women and girls, and breaking barriers in their respective fields.

International Women’s Day, which takes place every year on March 8, is a time to recognize the outstanding contributions of all women and an opportunity to promote and support gender equality. This year’s theme, Because Of You, celebrates activists, advocates and other changemakers, across generations past and present, who are advancing gender equality and the rights of women. Because of them, our country is changing for the better. Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast are encouraged to use the hashtag #BecauseOfYou to name, honour and celebrate women in their lives and communities whose work and impact inspires them.

Quote

“International Women’s Day is a time to recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions of women and girls who have helped create a better world. It has been 25 years since the Beijing World Conference on Women, providing an opportunity to take stock and reflect on the work ahead and to celebrate those whose efforts have made our country and the world better. The only way to move forward is to remember where we came from and those who brought us here. This year’s theme, Because Of You, asks everyone in Canada to honour the role models in their own lives. I encourage all Canadians to take part and recognize the incredible impact of the women making change in their communities.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Quick Facts

  • The beginnings of International Women’s Day trace back to the early twentieth century, emerging from the activities of labour movements in North America and Europe and reflecting a growing movement for women to participate equally in society.
  • The first International Women’s Day was observed on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. That day, more than one million people showed their support by participating in public events. In the years that followed, other countries began to observe and celebrate this day.
  • The United Nations recognized 1975 as International Women’s Year and began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 of that year.
  • Today, International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world – in many countries, it is a national holiday. It has grown to become a global day of recognition of women’s achievements and a call to action to support women’s rights and advance gender equality.
  • Canada hosted the Women Deliver 2019 Conference from June 3 to 6, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Held every three years, it is the world’s largest gathering on gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and girls.
  • At Women Deliver, Minister Monsef announced that the Government of Canada is reshaping how it supports women’s rights organizations, domestically and internationally, to build a legacy for gender equality and rights.
  • The Equality Fund will not only create a sustainable and predictable source of funding for women’s rights organizations and movements in developing countries, but will also shift how investment decisions are made for gender equality outcomes: by providing resources directly to women’s rights organizations and by making investments that support gender equality. The Equality Fund has mobilized initial investments of $100 million as a result of the Government of Canada’s initial $300 million commitment. The Equality Fund will also mobilize funding for women’s rights organizations in Canada.

SOURCE Women and Gender Equality Canada

For further information: Alex Howell, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, 613-862-7245; Media Relations, Women and Gender Equality Canada, 1-855-969-9922

18 Feb

Amazing news on the mortgage front!!!!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

Breaking news and so needed!!!!  Call or message me for some advice…403-968-5779!

18 FEB 2020

MORNEAU EASES STRESS TEST ON INSURED MORTGAGES

Minister Morneau Announces New Benchmark Rate for Qualifying For Insured Mortgages

The new qualifying rate will be the mortgage contract rate or a newly created benchmark very close to it plus 200 basis points, in either case. The News Release from the Department of Finance Canada states, “the Government of Canada has introduced measures to help more Canadians achieve their housing needs while also taking measured actions to contain risks in the housing market. A stable and healthy housing market is part of a strong economy, which is vital to building and supporting a strong middle class.”

These changes will come into effect on April 6, 2020. The new benchmark rate will be the weekly median 5-year fixed insured mortgage rate from mortgage insurance applications, plus 2%.

This follows a recent review by federal financial agencies, which concluded that the minimum qualifying rate should be more dynamic to reflect the evolution of market conditions better. Overall, the review concluded that the mortgage stress test is working to ensure that home buyers are able to afford their homes even if interest rates rise, incomes change, or families are faced with unforeseen expenses.

This adjustment to the stress test will allow it to be more representative of the mortgage rates offered by lenders and more responsive to market conditions.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) also announced today that it is considering the same new benchmark rate to determine the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages.

The existing qualification rule, which was introduced in 2016 for insured mortgages and in 2018 for uninsured mortgages, wasn’t responsive enough to the recent drop in lending interest rates — effectively making the stress test too tight. The earlier rule established the big-six bank posted rate plus 2 percentage points as the qualifying rate. Banks have increasingly held back from adjusting their posted rates when 5-year market yields moved downward. With rates falling sharply in recent weeks, especially since the coronavirus scare, the gap between posted and contract mortgage rates has widened even more than what was already evident in the past two years.

This move, effective April 6, should reduce the qualifying rate by about 30 basis points if contract rates remain at roughly today’s levels. According to a Department of Finance official, “As of February 18, 2020, based on the weekly median 5-year fixed insured mortgage rate from insured mortgage applications received by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the new benchmark rate would be roughly 4.89%.”  That’s 30 basis points less than today’s benchmark rate of 5.19%.

The Bank of Canada will calculate this new benchmark weekly, based on actual rates from mortgage insurance applications, as underwritten by Canada’s three default insurers.

OSFI confirmed today that it, too, is considering the new benchmark rate for its minimum stress test rate on uninsured mortgages (mortgages with at least 20% equity).

“The proposed new benchmark for uninsured mortgages is based on rates from mortgage applications submitted by a wide variety of lenders, which makes it more representative of both the broader market and fluctuations in actual contract rates,” OSFI said in its release.

“In addition to introducing a more accurate floor, OSFI’s proposal maintains cohesion between the benchmarks used to qualify both uninsured and insured mortgages.” (Thank goodness, as the last thing the mortgage market needs is more complexity.)

The new rules will certainly add to what was already likely to be a buoyant spring housing market. While it might boost buying power by just 3% (depending on what the new benchmark turns out to be on April 6), the psychological boost will be positive. Homebuyers—particularly first-time buyers—are already worried about affordability, given the double-digit gains of the last 12 months.

DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
5 Feb

Exciting news- TD lowers qualifying rate!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

Exciting news!  Let’s see if the other banks follow!

TD LOWERS QUALIFYING MORTGAGE RATE 35 BPS TO 4.99%

CANADIAN QUALIFYING MORTGAGE RATE LOWERED TO 4.99%

Market interest rates have fallen sharply since the coronavirus-led investor flight to the safety of government bonds. The 5-year government bond yield–a harbinger of conventional mortgage rates–now stands at 1.34%, down sharply from the 1.60+% range it was trading in before the virus became global news (see chart below).

This morning, one of the Big-Six banks finally reacted. TD cut its posted 5-year fixed rate to 4.99%. TD’s posted rate had previously been at 5.34%, making this a 36 basis point cut. Other banks had lowered their qualifying rate to 5.19% last July, leading the Bank of Canada to cut its 5-year conventional mortgage rate to 5.19%. This is the qualifying rate under the B-20 rule introduced on January 1, 2018.

Even the regulators have been questioning the efficacy and fairness of using the big-bank posted rate as a qualifying rate for mortgage stress testing.

On January 24, the Assistant Superintendent of OSFI’s Regulation Sector, Ben Gully, gave a speech at the C.D. Howe Institute suggesting that the B-20 qualifying mortgage rate historically would be no more than 200 basis points above contract rates. He said that OSFI chose the “best available rate at the time.”

He went on to say that for many years, the difference between the benchmark rate and the average contract rate was 200 bps. However, this gap “has been widening more recently, suggesting that the benchmark is less responsive to market changes than when it was first proposed. We are reviewing this aspect of our qualifying rate, as the posted rate is not playing the role that we intended. As always, we will share our results with our federal partners. This will help to inform the advice OSFI might provide to the Minister, as requested in the mandate letter to him.

By keeping posted rates too high, the Big-Six banks have inflated the qualifying rate, making it more difficult than necessary to pass the stress test to get a mortgage.

While TD’s rate cut is welcome news, its posted rate is still too high by historical standards. Given today’s average contract rates, the posted rate should be at least 20 bps lower still.

Banks have a strong incentive to inflate their posted mortgage rate. For one thing, they are the basis for the calculation of big-bank mortgage penalties. Also, they are the minimum qualifying rate.

The posted rate does not appropriately reflect the state of the mortgage market as few borrowers would pay this rate. Interestingly, banks often move this rate in lock-step, or close to it, reflecting their dominant oligopolistic position in the marketplace.

If a couple of the other big banks follow TD’s lead, the Bank of Canada benchmark rate will be below 5% for the first time since January 2018 when the new B-20 rules were adopted. Lowering the stress test rate by 20 bps from 5.19% to 4.99% would require roughly 1.8% less income to qualify for a mortgage on the average Canadian home price (assuming a 20% downpayment), increasing buying power by 2%. This doesn’t sound like much, but it can have a meaningful psychological impact on already improving housing markets. The latest CREA data shows that the national average home price surged 9.6% year-over-year in December. A lower stress test rate would make a busy spring housing market even more active.

DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
3 Feb

Rates dropping due to Corona Virus!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

This is how interconnected the world is!

INTEREST RATES PLUNGE ON CORONAVIRUS NEWS; BOC BUYS 10-YEAR CMBS; FTHBI PLAN FLOPS

Canadian 5-year Yield Fell To Lowest Level Since October

Global investors are selling stocks and piling into the safety of bonds in response to fears that the Wuhan coronavirus could disrupt global economic activity. Gold prices, another haven, have also risen. The Government of Canada 5-year bond yield traded this morning at roughly 1.35%, well below its nearly 1.70% level one month ago. The 5-year yield leads fixed mortgage rates, so if this trend persists, we might see widely available fixed-5-year rates in the 2.50% range once again in February.

 

____________________________________________

Bank of Canada Now Buying 10-year CMBs
The Bank of Canada announced yesterday that effective immediately, the Bank will expand the Canada Mortgage-Backed securities (CMBs, which are government-guaranteed) it can purchase in the primary market to include 10-year fixed-rate bond issues. In 2018, The Bank expanded the assets it acquires to 5-year fixed and floating CMBs. The Bank held $517 million of these 5-year CMBs as of November 30, 2019.

This move by the BoC should improve liquidity, reducing yields on 10-year CMBs, possibly lowering 10-year fixed rates for mortgage borrowers. Governor Poloz supports efforts to extend the duration of mortgages.

_____________________________

First-Time Homebuyers Incentive Plan Flops

Only about 3,000 applicants were approved for the Liberals’ First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) in 2019. That’s just $55 million in funding, a less-than-stellar start given its $1.25-billion three-year target. (This information is according to attendees at the TD Securities’ Financial Services Conference where CMHC made comments.)

DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.
28 Jan

Bank of Canada Holds rate steady!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

BANK OF CANADA HOLDS OVERNIGHT RATE AS EXPECTED, BUT APPEARS TO BE LESS CONFIDENT IN THE STRENGTH OF THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

Bank of Canada Holds Steady Despite Economic Slowdown

In a more dovish statement, the Bank of Canada maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1.75% for the tenth consecutive time. Today’s decision was widely expected as members of the Governing Council have signalled that the Bank still believes that the Canadian economy is resilient, despite the marked slowdown in growth in the fourth quarter of last year that has spilled into the early part of this year. The economy has underperformed the forecast in the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR).

In today’s MPR, the Bank estimates growth of only 0.3% in Q4 of 2019 and 1.3%in the first quarter of 2020. Exports fell late last year, and business investment appears to have weakened after a strong Q3, reflecting a decline in business confidence. Job creation has slowed, and indicators of consumer confidence and spending have been much softer than expected. The one bright light has been residential investment, which was robust through most of 2019, moderating to a still-solid pace in the fourth quarter only because of a dearth of newly listed properties for sale. 

The central bank’s press release stated that “Some of the slowdown in growth in late 2019 was related to temporary factors that include strikes, poor weather, and inventory adjustments. The weaker data could also signal that global economic conditions have been affecting Canada’s economy to a greater extent than was predicted. Moreover, during the past year, Canadians have been saving a larger share of their incomes, which could signal increased consumer caution which could dampen consumer spending but help to alleviate financial vulnerabilities at the same time.”

The January MPR states that over the projection horizon (2020 and 2021), “business investment and exports are anticipated to improve as oil transportation capacity expands, and the impact of trade policy headwinds on global growth diminishes. Household spending is projected to strengthen, driven by solid growth of both the population and household disposable income.” Growth is expected to be 1.6% in 2019 and 2020 and is anticipated to strengthen to 2.0% in 2021.

Inflation has remained at roughly the Bank’s target of 2%, and is expected to continue at that pace.

Also from the MPR: “The level of housing activity remains solid across most of Canada, although recent indicators suggest that residential investment growth has slowed from its previously strong pace. Demand remains robust in Quebec, where the labour market has been strong. In Ontario and British Columbia, population growth is boosting housing demand. In contrast, Alberta’s housing market continues to adjust to challenges in the oil and gas sector. Nationally, house prices have continued to increase and should strengthen slightly in the near term, consistent with the responses to the Bank’s recent Canadian Survey of Consumer Expectations.”

Bottom Line: The Canadian dollar sold off on the release of this statement and I believe there is a downside risk to the Bank of Canada forecast. Today’s release is a more dovish statement than last month, showing less confidence in the outlook. The Governing Council did express concern that the recent weakness in growth could be more persistent than their current forecast, saying that “the Bank will be paying particular attention to developments in consumer spending, the housing market, and business investment.” They also raised estimates of slack in the economy and dropped language about the current rate being appropriate.

According to Bloomberg News, today’s Governing Council comments “are a departure from recent communications in which officials sought to accentuate the positives of an economy that had been running near capacity and was deemed resilient in the face of global uncertainty. While Wednesday’s decision still leaves the Bank of Canada with the highest policy rate among major advanced economies, markets may interpret the statement as an attempt to, at the very least, open the door for a future move.”

DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
15 Jan

Canadian Home Sales Rise!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

Interesting article on increasing home prices!

WEAK NEW LISTINGS SLOW CANADIAN HOME SALES AS PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE.

Sellers Housing Market  Now in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that national existing-home sales dipped between November and December owing to a dearth of new listings, especially in the GTA.

National home sales edged down 0.9% in the final month of 2019, ending a streak of monthly gains that began last March. Activity is now about 18% above the six-year low reached in February 2019 but ends the year about 7% below the peak recorded in 2016 and 2017 (see chart below).

There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined, with higher sales in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Calgary and Montreal offsetting declines in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Ottawa.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 22.7% compared to the quiet month of December in 2018. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels across most of Canada, including all of the largest urban markets.

The December decline in home sales is not a sign of weakness but is instead the result of diminishing supply. Excess demand continues to push up prices in most regions of Canada. Demand has been boosted by low interest rates, strong population growth and strong labour markets that have triggered significant gains in household incomes. Mitigating this, in part, is the mortgage stress-test, which continues to sideline some potential buyers.

According to Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist, “The momentum for home price gains picked up as last year came to a close. If the recent past is prelude, then price trends in British Columbia, the GTA, Ottawa and Montreal look set to lift the national result this year, despite the continuation of a weak pricing environment among housing markets across the Prairie region.”

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes slid a further 1.8% in December following a 2.7% decline the month before, leaving supply close to its lowest level in a decade.

Slightly higher sales and a drop in new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 66.3%, which is well above the long-term average of 53.7%. If current trends continue, the balance between supply and demand makes further home price gains likely.

 

December’s drop was driven mainly by fewer new listings in the GTA and Ottawa–the same markets most responsible for the decline in sales. Listings available for purchase are now running at a 12-year low. The number of housing markets with a shortage of listings is on the rise; should current trends persist, fewer available listings will likely increasingly weigh on sales activity.

With new listings having declined by more than sales, the national sales-to-new listings ratio further tightened to 66.9% in December 2019 – the highest reading since the spring of 2004. The long-term average for this measure of housing market balance is 53.7%. Price gains appear poised to accelerate in 2020.

Considering the degree and duration to which market balance readings are above or below their long-term averages is the best way of gauging whether local housing market conditions favour buyers or sellers. Market balance measures that are within one standard deviation of their long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions.

Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with the long-term average, just over half of all local markets were in balanced market territory in December 2019. That list still includes Greater Vancouver (GVA) but no longer consists of the GTA, where market balance favours sellers in purchase negotiations (see chart below). By contrast, an oversupply of homes relative to demand across much of Alberta and Saskatchewan means sales negotiations remain tilted in favour of buyers. Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between sales and the supply of listings. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. There were 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of December 2019 – the lowest level recorded since the summer of 2007. This measure of market balance has been falling further below its long-term average of 5.3 months. While still within balanced market territory, its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers.

There remain significant and increasing disparities in housing market activity across regions of Canada. The number of months of inventory has swollen far beyond long-term averages in Prairie provinces and Newfoundland & Labrador, giving homebuyers ample choice in these regions. By contrast, the measure is running well below long-term averages in Ontario, Quebec and Maritime provinces, resulting in increased competition among buyers for listings and providing fertile ground for price gains. The measure is still within balanced market territory in British Columbia but is becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers.

Home Prices

The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) rose 0.8%, marking its seventh consecutive monthly gain. It is now up nationally 4.7% from last year’s lowest point posted in May. The MLS® HPI in December was up from the previous month in 14 of the 18 markets tracked by the index. ( see table below).

Home price trends have generally been stabilizing in the Prairies in recent months following lengthy declines but are clearly on the rise again in British Columbia and Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). Further east, price growth in Ottawa and Montreal has been ongoing for some time and strengthened toward the end of 2019.

Comparing home prices to year-ago levels yields considerable variations across the country, although for the most part has been regionally split along east/west lines, with declines in the Lower Mainland and major Prairie markets and gains in central and eastern Canada.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) Aggregate Composite MLS® (HPI) rose 3.4% y-o-y in December 2019, the biggest year-over-year gain since March 2018.

Home prices in Greater Vancouver (-3.1%) and the Fraser Valley (-2%) remain below year-ago levels, but declines are shrinking. Elsewhere in British Columbia, home prices logged y-o-y increases in the Okanagan Valley (+4.2%), Victoria (+2.3%) and elsewhere on Vancouver Island (+4.2%).

Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon posted y-o-y price declines of around -1% to -2%, while the gap has widened to -4.6% in Regina.

In Ontario, home price growth has re-accelerated well above consumer price inflation across most of the GGH. Meanwhile, price gains in recent years have continued uninterrupted in Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton.

All benchmark home categories tracked by the index accelerated further into positive territory on a y-o-y basis. One-storey single-family home prices posted the most significant increase (3.6%) followed closely by apartment units (3.4%) and two-storey single-family homes (3.3%). Townhouse/row unit prices climbed a slightly more modest 2.7% compared to December 2018.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in December 2019 was around $517,000, up 9.6% from the same month the previous year.

The national average price is heavily skewed by sales in the GVA and GTA, two of Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts more than $117,000 from the national average price, trimming it to around $400,000 and reducing the y-o-y gain to 6.7%.

DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.

 

9 Jan

Looking to renew your mortgage in 2020? Great advice!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

Looking to renew your mortgage in 2020.  This article has some great tips when renewing!

HOW TO RENEW YOUR MORTGAGE IN 5 SIMPLE STEPS!

If you have a mortgage, you’ll be completing a mortgage renewal when your current term has finished.
While most Canadians spend a lot of time and expend tons of effort shopping for an initial mortgage, the same is generally not the case when looking at mortgage renewals.

So what is a mortgage renewal?

Mortgages terms are locked in rates that are *over a set term* which can vary from 1-10 years.

About 3 months before the end of your term, your current lender will suddenly become your best friend showering you with attention and trying to entice you with early renewal offers…And the first offer is never their best. It really shows how they value the relationship.
“Please, please sign here on the dotted line to renew… it’s sooo easy!!”

You have 3 options

1. Sign and send back with no alterations or changes (don’t do it, really I mean it… don’t do it!!)
2. Check the market to make sure you are getting the best rate and renegotiate with your current lender
3. Talk to a mortgage expert and together we can discuss the best options available for your situation

Lenders know that 80% of people will sign their renewal forms because it’s fast, easy and convenient. Banks & lenders push this “take it as it is” tactic to borrowers to ensure they make the highest profits to keep their shareholders happy. As an educated consumer, you need to take the time to ensure you are being offered the best possible rate & terms you can get.
Remember all those hours of research you did regarding lenders and mortgage rates when you were buying your first home… don’t forget!
It is true that signing the renewal document is easy, however it is in your best interest to take a more proactive approach. Money in the lenders pocket comes directly out of your pocket.

5 steps to save you money on your mortgage renewal

1. Receive the renewal offer from your current mortgage lender and examine immediately. This gives you enough time to make an informed decision
2. Do your online research about the best current rates for you
3. Call your current lender and negotiate!
4. If your lender will not offer you a better rate then it is time to move your mortgage. You will have to complete a mortgage application and gather applicable documentation just like you did for your original mortgage, but we will help with most of the work!
5. Take a look at your budget and see if you can increase the amount of your mortgage payments. This will eventually save you money by paying off your mortgage faster

Your mortgage is one of your biggest expenses. For this reason, it is so important to find the best interest rates and mortgage terms you possibly can.
As you can tell there is lots to discuss about mortgage renewals. We can help. Contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today!

CHRIS CABEL
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Chris is part of DLC HomeHow Mortgage based in Calgary, AB.
7 Jan

Great article on teaching Kids about money!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

Originally published at Planswell.com

A lot of us grew up with a weird attitude towards money, often centered around not having enough, being jealous of those who did, or feeling shame for what we did have. When we become parents, we have the opportunity to undo that not only for our kids, but for ourselves, in the way we choose to teach our kids about money, and our attitudes towards it. As a mom of three (who is a mindset coach with a background in education), here are my top five tips to creating a healthy, balanced attitude towards money in your family’s life and culture.

Allowance is a money management tool

We have our kids help with the activities of daily life (making beds, cleaning rooms, feeding dogs, setting tables…) because those are the necessary tasks of daily life – not because they’re going to get a reward for doing so. It’s our job as parents to guide our kids, giving them the opportunity to learn life skills along the way. Money management is one of those skills.

Consider giving your kids (7+) a small weekly allowance they can portion off into save/share/spend jars; make peace with the fact that the spend jar is theirs to spend – it is so much easier to learn the lesson of overspending, or blowing all your cash on something you didn’t need when you’re 8, versus 28.

Paying bills is an exercise in gratitude

Getting a bill doesn’t have to be the chore we assume it to be. When you think about it, bills are just reflections of pleasures you’ve already enjoyed. “Thank you, Netflix, for keeping me entertained and relaxed. Thank you, heating and water, for keeping my family cozy and clean. Thank you cell phone, for connecting me to the world (and for endless memes to enjoy, obviously).”

Sharing this attitude with your kids teaches them that everything we consume is actually an exchange of goods and services; involving them in the payment process is another incredible way to teach a valuable life skill. Kids as young as 5 can help you find the amount owed on the bill, which vendor it’s being paid to, and circling the amount, writing “paid” and on which date. They will come to love this process, as it’s a trojan horse for one on one time with you, and it becomes really fun.

Modeling generosity matters

It’s easy to get caught up in that old thinking that “we might not have enough,” and the feeling that what we have, we have to keep for ourselves. It’s not true; when we are conscious of sharing what we have, we are contributing to the greater good. When we show our kids to be generous (via donations, volunteering, helping other friends or families in hard times, tipping the delivery guy, you name it), we are teaching them how good it feels to give.

Anytime we do good for its own sake, we are modeling how to be a good human, and how to live with the sense that we are all connected, and we are very fortunate. That attitude alone sets our kids up to be appreciative for what they have, and to create more of it as they grow up.

Overconsumption does not create happiness

We live in this backwards society in which more is considered more. So when we’re parenting, it can be tempting to give our kids everything they want, and replace it when it breaks. But really, think of the things that are dearest to you: chances are the things you worked really hard for, have a sense that you earned them, and feel a real pride of ownership over them.

Sweeping obstacles out of the way for our kids, and catering to their every whim does not raise happy children – it raises children who have a falsely entitled sense of reality, who tend to develop much anxiety in later years when they realize that things don’t fall magically into their lap without their own grit and gusto. Teach them to appreciate what they have, with modesty and grace.

Wealth is a state of mind

Thinking rich is essential to living a rich life. Constantly living in the fear-based state of never having enough instills a fearful mindset in young children that they will carry forward with them, and have to un-do later. “We can’t afford that, we could never go on that vacation, that’s only for rich people.”

All of that language creates a false reality that money is only for select people, and if you don’t have it, you never will. In reality, anything is possible – anything. And we can teach our kids to use that lens by involving them in planning and dreaming. Always wanted to go to Costa Rica and stay in a tree house (so. Much. Yes)? Start a family vision board for that trip. Look up cool places to stay, airlines to use, monkeys to mimic.

Involve your kids in using some of their own savings to put towards the trip. Make them feel a part of it – and give them the sense that they have ownership in making it happen. This is a hugely empowering pattern of thinking and behaving; much healthier than the attitude that “that’s not for us.”

Our children pick up our words, though, and behaviours, and all the patterns that go along with them – often without us noticing. Being open to shifting your own attitude towards creating wealth in your own life is one of the best gifts we can give our kids, and that starts at a very young age.

18 Dec

Housing Rebound in November!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

Lets hope the trend continues!!!!!

NOVEMBER DATA CONFIRM CANADIAN HOUSING REBOUND

Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that national home sales rose for the ninth consecutive month and now stands a full 20% above the six-year low reached in February 2019. While the chart below shows that monthly home sales are now well above their 10-year average, they remain 6%-to7% below the record pace posted in 2016 and 2017.
There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined. Higher sales across much of British Columbia and in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) offset a decline in activity in Calgary.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 11.3% year-over-year in November. Transactions surpassed year-ago levels in almost all of Canada’s largest urban markets.

“Sales continue to improve in some regions and not so much in others,” said Jason Stephen, president of CREA. “The mortgage stress-test doesn’t help relieve the ongoing shortage of housing in markets where sales have improved, and it continues to hammer housing demand in markets with ample supply.”

According to Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist, “Home prices look set to continue rising in housing markets where sales are recovering amid an ongoing shortage of supply. By the same token, home prices will likely continue trending lower in places where there’s a significant overhang of supply, perpetuated in part by the B-20 mortgage stress-test that continues to sideline homebuyers there.” Weakness continues to be most evident in Alberta and Saskatchewan where the economy has been hard hit by lower commodity prices and delinquency rates have edged upward.

New Listings
The number of newly listed homes slid a further 2.7%, putting them among the lowest levels posted in the past decade. November’s decline was driven primarily by fewer new listings in the GTA.
Slightly higher sales and a drop in new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 66.3%, which is well above the long-term average of 53.7%. If current trends continue, the balance between supply and demand makes further home price gains likely.

Market balance measures that are within one standard deviation of their long-term average are generally consistent with balanced market conditions. Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with the long-term average, just over half of all local markets were in balanced market territory in November. That list includes the GTA and Lower Mainland of British Columbia, but market balance there is tightening. By contrast, an oversupply of homes relative to demand across much of Alberta and Saskatchewan means sales negotiations remain tilted in favour of buyers.

Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations. There were just 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of November 2019 – the lowest level recorded since the summer of 2007. This measure of market balance has been retreating further below its long-term average of 5.3 months. While still just within balanced market territory, its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers.

National measures of market balance continue to mask significant and increasing regional variations. The number of months of inventory has swollen far beyond long-term averages in Prairie provinces and Newfoundland & Labrador, giving homebuyers ample choice in these regions. By contrast, the measure is running well below long-term averages in Ontario, Quebec and Maritime provinces, resulting in increased competition among buyers for listings and providing fertile ground for price gains. The measure is still within balanced market territory in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia but is becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers.

Home Prices

The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) rose 0.8%. Marking its sixth consecutive monthly gain, it now stands almost 4% above its low point reached last May. The MLS® HPI in November was up from the previous month in 14 of the 18 markets tracked by the index. (Table 1)
Home price trends have generally been stabilizing in the Prairies in recent months. While that remains the case in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, prices in Regina have again moved lower. By contrast, home price trends have clearly started to recover in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Meanwhile, prices continue to rebound in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) region while continuing to trend higher in housing markets to the east of it.
Comparing home prices to year-ago levels yields considerable variations across the country, with a mix of gains and declines in western Canada together with price gains in eastern Canada.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) Aggregate Composite MLS® (HPI) was up 2.6% y-o-y in November 2019, the biggest year-over-year gain since March 2018.
Home prices in Greater Vancouver (-4.6%) and the Fraser Valley (-2.9%) remain below year-ago levels but declines are shrinking. Elsewhere in British Columbia, home prices logged y-o-y increases in the Okanagan Valley (+1.4%), Victoria (+1.5%) and elsewhere on Vancouver Island (+2.8%).
Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon posted price declines of around -2% y-o-y, while the gap widened to -5.5% y-o-y in Regina.
In Ontario, price growth has re-accelerated well ahead of overall consumer price inflation across most of the GGH. Meanwhile, price growth in recent years has continued uninterrupted in Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton.
All benchmark home categories tracked by the index accelerated further into positive territory on a y-o-y basis. Two-storey single-family home prices posted the biggest increase, rising 2.8% y-o-y. Price gains were almost as strong for apartment units (+2.6% y-o-y) and one-storey single-family homes (+2.5% y o y), while townhouse/row prices climbed a more modest 1.5% compared to November 2018.

DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.
16 Dec

Here are some tips to reduce holiday stress!!!

General

Posted by: Jeannie Stace-Smith

15 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

15 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

11 MINUTE READ

It’s no secret that things can get overwhelming around the Christmas season. According to a survey by Healthline, 62% of people said their stress level increases during the holiday season.(1)And it’s kind of easy to see why.

The more strain you put on yourself, your family and your wallet, the less room you’ll have to truly enjoy the magic of the season. Remember, this time of year should be joyful! Don’t cave in to the holiday stress! Here are 15 ways to keep the merry in Christmas and have a slow holiday you can savor.

1. Make a to-do list.

And check it twice too. That’s what the pros like Santa do. Maybe you have a mental list of everything you need to do and when you need to do it. But it helps to have a written list or calendar to see the big picture. If your shopping needs to be done by a certain date, write that down. If your neighbors have a yearly bash on the second Saturday of December, write that down.

The point of this is to see everything in one place so you can get an idea of what’s happening and when. Don’t like how it’s looking? Reorganize your calendar and your to-do list to reflect the Christmas you want to have this year.

Ready to start saving? Download our free budgeting tool today!

2. Avoid too many commitments.

Most likely, your December schedule is sure to include party invitations out the chimney. But you don’t have to do everything on your calendar. You are in control! Remember, you can’t be everywhere at the same time. You can only attend so many family dinners, drive so far, and give so much. Just like your money, you have limits with your time.

Be honest and reasonable about what you can handle, and speak up if it’s too much to juggle. Instead of going to five Christmas gatherings, pick one or two. You don’t want to burn out before Christmas Day even gets here! Prioritize your family’s time and only commit to what you want to do. It’s all about quality, not quantity.

Don’t let too many commitments throw your daily routine out of whack. Stick to your rituals and try to keep as much of your normal routine in place as you can during the scattered schedule of the Christmas season. If your average day starts with getting up, pouring yourself a cup of coffee, and reading the newspaper, don’t skip that. Having some normalcy can help keep you calm and focused on the day ahead. Plus, it’s a great way to stay level-headed . . . especially if your house is filled to the brim with guests for the holidays.

3. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Delaying something until the last minute is rarely a good idea. Christmas shopping is the perfect example of that! A lot of people wait until halfway through December and then dash to the malls in a panic to buy gifts. But the good news is, you’re starting early! Aren’t you feeling more relaxed already? You probably just added five years to your life!

Trying to do all your Christmas shopping or cooking in one weekend can push you over the edge. Instead, keep it simple! It might be easier to shop for one or two people on your list each day. The idea here is to have fun buying gifts for others and not make it feel like a chore.

Make a Christmas bucket list and fill it with fun and festive things to do throughout the season. That way, you’re making Nana’s Christmas cookie recipe at the beginning of the month instead of trying to cram it in on Christmas Eve. You can even freeze cookie dough ahead of time and pull it out when you’re ready to bake. Spacing things out during the season can help you stay in the Christmas spirit and keep the holiday stress low!

4. Make a Christmas budget.

You saw this one coming, right? No shocker here: We’re reminding you to do your Christmas budget, again. So have you done it yet? Take some time to think about all your Christmas expenses and decide exactly how much you will spend.

Make a plan and don’t blow it! Avoid all the impulse spending, and when you max out your budget, that’s it. You’re done.

Be sure to include all the parties you want to go to and the cost of gifts, food and decorations. Despite all of the holiday hoopla, stick to your plan no matter what! If you haven’t done your budget yet, what are you waiting for? Get our free budgeting tool, EveryDollar! It can help you stay on track to meet your goals this Christmas.

5. Decorate like a minimalist.

We all like to be just as festive as the next guy. No one wants to be a Grinch. But don’t feel like you have to put up a Christmas tree in every room of your house. This isn’t Whoville.

Instead of decorating the entire house, keep it simple by decorating the tree and the mantel. Focus on your main living spaces where your family gathers most often. Take some of the pressure off yourself and ignore the urge to create a winter wonderland inside (or outside) your home this year.

6. Don’t spend all your time on social media.

Stay away from the comparison trap, especially at Christmastime. Hide your eyes from the perfectly curated Instagram feeds and the DIY rabbit hole of Pinterest.

Don’t waste this joyous time of year apologizing to your friends and family because you didn’t bake every item from scratch or create an elaborate story each day for that pesky Elf on the Shelf! Ramsey Personality Rachel Cruze has a really great take on this in her book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs. Rachel says, “I’ve come to realize that when we start comparing ourselves to other people, we’re playing a game we’ll never win.”

7. Get rid of clutter before Christmas.

It’s out with the old and in with the new. No one wants to feel like their house is a cluttered mess with new gifts piled on top of old ones. So get rid of the clutter before Christmas gets here. For every new toy that you know the kids will open on Christmas morning, get rid of two. Make your kids a part of it so they know they’re donating their well-loved toys to others.

This is also a great time to sort through and organize your clothes, garage and kitchen (even those ratty Christmas decorations in the attic you’re still clinging to). Sell or donate the stuff you know you don’t use anymore, or wrap some of it up for gag gift exchanges.

8. Don’t shop at peak times.

Shop early, shop early, shop early. Since you started saving for Christmas early, you can shop early too. You’ll never have to worry about inventory being too low and having to stoop to tug of war with another desperate parent over the last Turbo Man action figure. Phew! You won’t have to worry about price gouging on popular items either.

If you can swing it, do a babysitting swap with a couple you know. They’ll watch your kids for a few hours and you can return the favor and watch their kids for a few hours when they need to go out. Everyone wins! You and your spouse can have a free evening together to go shopping—kid-free! Make the welcome escape a little date night for the two of you too. Grab some peppermint mochas and go Christmas shopping. You both deserve some one-on-one time.

Or keep your holiday stress level at bay and do all your Christmas shopping online. There’s nothing wrong with that! Plus, being able to see the item prices in your cart can help keep you from overspending. And you’ll probably save a bundle with all those coupon codes offered online: win-win! On top of that, you’ll have plenty of time for things to arrive at your front doorstep—no paying $45 for overnight shipping for you!

9. Ask friends or family for help.

Some stuff just has to be done. You can’t get rid of everything on the list. But if you start feeling the pressure, consider enlisting some friends or family to help you out.
Maybe that’s trading off with a fellow parent to cart your kids to and from Christmas pageant rehearsals, paying your niece or nephew to wrap all your presents (well, the ones that aren’t theirs), or picking up store-bought cheesecake for your Christmas potluck at work. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s in your budget, and get ready to feel the holiday stress melt away.

10. Avoid family conflict.

Okay, we know this one is tricky to navigate, especially around the holidays, but stick with us here. We all have family members who push our buttons: Aunt Betsy, in-laws, Granny Gertrude—whoever! Instead of going to the family event and trying to master the fine art of not stepping on egg shells the entire night, how about just avoiding certain topics and removing yourself from the conversation if things go south?

Believe it or not, it can be done. You don’t have to subject yourself or your family to a heated argument you don’t want to be in—boundaries, you know?

11. Host a potluck.

Just because it’s Christmastime, that doesn’t mean you have to stress yourself out making a full-on feast for the masses. Scale things back and reduce your stress level with a potluck dinner! Trust us. It isn’t as cringeworthy as it might sound. Have each one of your guests bring their favorite side dish or family recipe to the meal. Then all you have to worry about preparing is the turkey (or ham . . . or fish . . . or partridge in a pear tree.)

12. Don’t overeat.

Yes, it’s true: You can have too much of a good thing. Stressed spelled backward is desserts. If you cut back on all the holiday stress, then maybe your waistline will thank you too. You can still indulge in the sweet stuff. Just don’t go overboard. At least try to eat a little better than Buddy the Elf’s diet of candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.

And don’t forget about exercise! It can help keep the Christmas pounds off and lower your holiday stress level. If you can’t make time to get to the gym, make time to move. Take the stairs at work. Get up every hour or so and take a lap around the office. Lift small weights while you’re on the phone or watching television. You can even bundle up and go on your own Christmas lights walking tour. Maybe your exercise is just combining your Christmas shopping with walking in the mall. Anything is better than nothing!

13. Stay healthy.

Being sick at Christmastime is the absolute worst, so do what you can to avoid it! If you wash your hands, stay hydrated, and avoid sick people, you can make it through cold and flu season safe and sound. P.S. Hand sanitizer is your best friend. Also, don’t burn the candle at both ends by staying up late and getting up early. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep this season.

Remember, stress can zap your immune system and make you more prone to catching those gnarly bugs. Keep the stress down and your spirits up by staying healthy this season.

14. Make time for downtime.

Keep your peace and quiet, and you’ll keep your sanity. It really doesn’t matter what part of the day it is—the early morning hours or the evening when the kids are asleep. Just make time to enjoy the things you love. Read a book. Do a Christmas devotional or Advent plan. Catch up on your favorite Netflix shows. Or dive into one of those cheesy (but you can’t look away) Hallmark Christmas movies.

15. Remember what the Christmas season is about.

Christmastime is meant to be filled with joy, merriment and thankfulness. Carve out time with family and friends to reconnect with one another. You want to actually remember Christmas this year, right? The idea is to be intentional. Don’t let the month go by in a total blur.

Slow down and think about what you really want to do this season. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that you forget to enjoy the people you’re doing all this for. By starting early, you’ll be able to have a merry—and much less stressful—Christmas!

Dave Ramsey