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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What should you consider before buying a condo?

What should you consider before buying a condo?

Want to buy a condo? Are you enticed by the idea of being an owner without having too much maintenance to worry about? Before a visit to the notary, there’s plenty to consider. After all, buying a condo means becoming a co-owner. You must be comfortable with the ideas of not managing your investment on your own and cohabiting in accordance with certain rules of operation and conduct.
Acquiring a portion of a whole
When you buy a divided co-ownership, commonly called a condo or condominium, you first become the owner of a private area for your exclusive use. This refers to a housing unit – your apartment – and also, in many cases, a parking spot and a storage space. You also become the owner of a fraction of the common portions, such as the roof and windows, along with the hallways, elevators and balconies. Some of these portions, the balconies, for example, may be defined as being “for restricted use.”  
Being bound by the “declaration of co-ownership”
When you become a condo owner, you’re bound by the co-ownership agreement, also called the “declaration of co-ownership.” Among other things, this sets out the co-owners’ rights and obligations.
Use and enjoyment of the premises
The co-ownership agreement governs the use of the premises. What sort of floor coverings are allowed in the individual units? Is it possible to keep a pet? What restrictions apply to your outdoor activities, such as using a barbecue?
Condo fees and contingency funds
All co-owners must contribute to common expenses, better known as “condo fees,” which cover ongoing administrative costs and maintenance of the common areas. The amount to be paid may vary between co-owners since it is proportionate to the relative value of each fraction. It is set according to the annual operating budget and the reserve that must be set aside for the contingency fund.
The contingency fund is intended exclusively for major work affecting the commons areas: replacement of windows, repairs to the roof or exterior cladding, etc. The amount in this fund should be justified by a preventive maintenance plan or by a building evaluation report prepared by experts.
The law says at least 5% of the amount collected in condo fees must be placed in the contingency fund. Some specialists find this inadequate for covering a building’s long-term needs, especially since this 5% is based on condo fees that are often kept very low.

Before concluding the transaction
In addition to the indispensable pre-purchase inspection, some checking is required before you sign a purchase offer. This could save you plenty of headaches in the future.
  1. Read the co-ownership agreement
    This will help you determine whether the lifestyle of joint ownership and its form of management and administration really suit you.
  2. Read the minutes of the general meetings
    Don’t be shy about asking for documents from previous years. This will give you an idea of the co-owners’ concerns. You may discover problems with the building’s management, administration or condition, or with the neighbourhood. Does maintenance seem minimal? Is there a dispute with the builder? Do some co-owners – perhaps even your future immediate neighbour – violate noise regulations? It’s better to have this information before buying!
  3. Assess the financial health of the condo syndicate
    This precaution is extremely important to avoid inheriting serious budget problems stemming from mismanagement by the directors. You’ll want to know if there’s a big debt or if there are problems collecting condo fees. Also, is the contingency fund adequate? If major emergency work has to be done, an inadequate contingency fund may result in special assessments amounting to thousands of dollars. This type of situation could throw some co-owners off balance financially. Think about it!
Questions? Planning to have work done?
Consult our bank of Approved Residential Suppliers, which lists more than 700 reliable businesses. If you are a CAA-Quebec member, you can call the professionals at our Residential Advisory Services, free of charge, as often as you wish. They are there to help you make informed, objective choices, whatever project you plan to undertake.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stop The meter. Donate now matching funds if we raise $15,000 in the next 48 hours.

OpenMedia
 Dear friends,
Phone and cable companies have unleashed a deep-pocketed public relations campaign designed to confuse the public about new Internet usage fees. Case in point: on Friday, Macleans Magazine published an editorial that read like a Rogers talking-points primer (Rogers owns Macleans). 

Big Telecom foot soldiers have been in the media saying that YOU are just being emotional, and that you don't understand what you signed when you signed the Stop The meter petition. This is elitist, condescending, and outright insulting.
Globe And Mail ad paid for by donations
Stop The Meter Ad in the Globe And mail

At the same time broadcasters and cable companies are meeting in Ottawa to hash out a plan to deal with online services that are "competing for customers". 

We can't let them turn back the clock. We need a well-coordinated response to prevent these corporations from interfering in the upcoming CRTC hearing, which is critical for the elimination of the new Internet fees.

Thankfully indie ISPs Acanac and Teksavvy have agreed to provide some matching funds if we raise $15,000 in the next 48 hours. Please help us get there: donate now at http://openmedia.ca/drive

Here's our plan: 
1. Unleash the creativity and ingenuity of Canadians. People from all walks of life -- innovators, educators, students, entrepreneurs, and everything in between -- are getting together on February 26th for a Day Of Action to educate our fellow Canadians about Internet metering.

2. Put together a united front of public interest groups, creators, indie ISPs, online service providers and half a million Canadians to put forth a well-researched, evidence-based submission to the CRTC.  We've done this before and won. 

We're confident this 1-2 punch can work, but it does require resources.


The pro-Internet community has seen a lot of success over the past month, and it's all thanks to your participation. You've engaged friends and family online, and helped to make the call for a more affordable Internet into a national movement.

This is about the future of communications, our economy, innovation, democratic participation, and our society writ large.


Sincerely,

The OpenMedia.ca Team -- Steve, Lindsey, Reilly, Shea, and all of our volunteers

PS. There are hundreds of thousands of us - if everyone gave $5, less than the cost of lunch, we'd easily reach our target. The phone and cable companies are gouging, we're just asking

*OpenMedia.ca is a registered non-profit organization that relies on donations to operate. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Join Montreal supporters in a local Stop The Meter petition drive on Saturday, February 26 at 1 PM

Dear Pro-Internet Supporters,
Because of you, the CRTC was forced to reconsider its decision to allow usage based billing (Internet metering) to take over Canada. This was a big win for the pro-Internet community, but this is far from over. The review of Internet metering is open for public comments, but we can be sure that Big Telecom is exerting significant pressure on the CRTC to move forward with less affordable Internet access. We need your help to call on the CRTC to stop the meter and end Internet caps. 

Join Montreal supporters in a local Stop The Meter petition drive on Saturday, February 26 at 1 PM. This is part of the Stop The Meter National Day of Action.

We are encouraging Montreal supporters to print off the Stop The Meter CRTC petition, meet at a central location on February 26th (for example a coffee shop, campus, or library), walk around, and ask Canadians to help us call on Ottawa to Stop The Meter on Internet use. The signed petitions will then be collected and mailed to the OpenMedia.ca office, where the feedback will be relayed to the CRTC. This is vitally important as we build our case that Canadians want open, accessible and affordable Internet access. 

To find out more about your local Stop The Meter National Day of Action, please check out your organizing team's Facebook page and Google Group.

Be creative! Why not dress up as meter maids to spark people's curiosity, or write a Stop The Meter theme song? We'll be helping local petition drive teams to invite local media to help spread the word that the CRTC is still reviewing UBB and that this is far from being a closed case. 

For more information on the Stop The Meter Day of Action email our event coordinator Glyn at glyn.l@canadaparticipates.ca

For the Internet,

The OpenMedia.ca Team

Monday, February 14, 2011

Canada Guaranty will implement the following product and guideline changes effective March 18, 2011

Consistent with the new mortgage insurance parameters announced by the Government of Canada on January 17, Canada Guaranty will implement the following product and guideline changes effective March 18, 2011
  • Maximum Amortization Reduced to 30 years
    Mortgage loans with 80% loan-to-value or greater will be subject to a maximum amortization of 30 years (previously 35 years)

  • Refinance Advantage™ Reduced to 85% LTV
    Canada Guaranty’s Refinance Advantage™ product will have a maximum loan-to-value of 85% (previously 90% LTV).
NOTE: Mortgage applications submitted prior to this effective date will be subject to the current insurance parameters. Exceptions will be considered for borrowers who have provided a legally binding purchase and sale, financing or refinance agreement dated prior to March 18, 2011.

Should you have any questions regarding the new mortgage insurance guarantee parameters or how they will affect Canada Guaranty’s specific product guidelines, please contact your dedicated Account Executive or speak with a member of our National Underwriting Team at 1.877.244.8422.

Maria Pimenta 
Senior Vice-President, Sales & Marketing
Direct: 416.640.8937
E-mail: maria.pimenta@canadaguaranty.ca

Mama Mimi

Mama Mimi

Are you too busy to cook? Or too tired after a long day at work? Let Mama Mimi put supper on your table. Mama Mimi helps to bring "mom's" home-cooking back to your table.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mortgage Protection Plan


At Mortgage Protection Plan, we believe very strongly that...
EveryMortgage
As a mortgage professional, you probably feel the same way too but aren't always sure how to convey this message to your clients

To help you with this, we've produced our very first video that will demonstrate the importance of mortgage protection to your clients.  It tells the story of an injured young man who might have lost his home if not for the disability insurance that gave him and his family immense piece of mind during his extended recovery period.  Sometimes it's not just about
knowing it's a good idea but hearing it from someone who knows first hand why it's so important to be protected. 

Take a look at the video below and see what we mean!  If you'd like your clients to see the video as well, direct them to our
website and have them click on the YouTube image from the home screen or you can just copy and paste this link into an email.

Let us know what you think and if you have any questions, contact us at the number listed above.
YouTubeVideo01
This information is meant to demonstrate the importance of offering Mortgage Protection Plan and to help you feel more confident about doing so. Remember to encourage your clients to give serious consideration to the matter of mortgage protection, but that it is illegal for mortgage brokers and agents to attempt to advise clients about the merits of Mortgage Protection Plan relative to other protection options. Simply give clients the Mortgage Protection Plan brochure and direct any insurance questions to 1 (866) 677-4366. Mortgage Protection Plan is insured by The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company and administered by Benesure Canada Inc.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Collection Agency

Collection Agency

Question: hi. I had a consumer proposal that i filed in 2005. i had 3 years of payments, which i did, and it is listing on my credit report as discharged in 2008. how long before this disappears completely, or how do i go about getting it taken off, as it is difficult to rebuild our credit, when we cant get any.
thanks for your help

Answer: Each credit reporting agency in Canada will handle this differently. In general, a consumer proposal will remain on your credit report for three years after the date of discharge. So, if you completed your payments in 2008, the proposal should drop off your credit report at some point in 2011.

You can start rebuilding your credit by borrowing small amounts of money. For example, you can get a secured Visa card; you put $500 or more on deposit, and you get a credit card with a $500 limit. It appears on your credit report as a normal credit card, which is a positive sign for future lenders.

In addition, save money, and keep all of your regular monthly bills current, and you will gradually repair your credit.

Money Problems Anonymous Q & A Blog

Consumer proposal and rebuilding credit

Question: hi. I had a consumer proposal that i filed in 2005. i had 3 years of payments, which i did, and it is listing on my credit report as discharged in 2008. how long before this disappears completely, or how do i go about getting it taken off, as it is difficult to rebuild our credit, when we cant get any.
thanks for your help

Answer: Each credit reporting agency in Canada will handle this differently. In general, a consumer proposal will remain on your credit report for three years after the date of discharge. So, if you completed your payments in 2008, the proposal should drop off your credit report at some point in 2011.

You can start rebuilding your credit by borrowing small amounts of money. For example, you can get a secured Visa card; you put $500 or more on deposit, and you get a credit card with a $500 limit. It appears on your credit report as a normal credit card, which is a positive sign for future lenders.

In addition, save money, and keep all of your regular monthly bills current, and you will gradually repair your credit.

Money Problems Anonymous Q & A Blog

Mortgage referrals: A reminder

Mortgage referrals: A reminder

OACIQ Reference Number: 118634
February 3, 2011 - 10:31

As reported in an article published back November 2003, mortgage referrals have been ruled to constitute brokerage transactions. Many of you are compensated for referring clients to financial institutions. We would like to remind you of some of the obligations this carries under the law.
In the course of our inspection visits to agencies, we have noted that many brokers take advantage of this opportunity. However, not all brokers disclose this fact to their clients. In fact, we still see too many people who neglect to do it, or who only do it verbally. Therefore, we would like to review the main principles that apply when referring clients to financial institutions or mortgage agencies.
When is it necessary to disclose?
If a broker obtains an advantage (monetary or otherwise) when a client does business with a financial institution to which the broker specifically referred the client, the broker is in a potential conflict of interest, because he has an “interest” in that client doing business with a given institution over another one, due of course to the “return” offered by one and not the other.
What does nature of the remuneration mean?
Remuneration, in the broad sense of the term, can take many forms. In addition to money, remuneration can consist in trips or purchase coupons granted for a given number of referrals. It can also take the form of brokerage contracts awarded by the lending institution for repossessions concerning some of its borrowers. But regardless of the nature of the remuneration, directing your clients to one lending institution over another should always be based solely on the client’s best interest (better rate or payment terms), not your own.
How does disclosure work?
It is important to know that disclosing this type of arrangement to your clients verbally is not consistent with the rules. To facilitate this task for agencies and brokers, the OACIQ has designed a form based on the new regulations. It is called DISCLOSURE OF REMUNERATION AGREEMENT OR SHARING and is available on the OACIQ website on the Inspection forms page. You can use it to list and identify the mortgage lenders or financial institutions with which you have arrangements. You simply need to give a copy of it to your client and to your agency, who will file it in your transaction record. This way, there is no ambiguity and the client knows exactly where he stands. Of course nothing prevents you from disclosing this in the form of a letter or even by email. The important thing is that this disclosure be done without delay, in writing, and by you.
Who must make the disclosure?
Disclosure by the mortgage or financial institution representative instead of by the broker does not meet the requirements of the Act and does not relieve the broker of his disclosure obligations. Remuneration agreements must be disclosed in writing by the broker himself, before the buyer is referred to the lending institution.
Concrete measures
In coming months, the Inspection Department will, in the course of its inspections of agencies and brokers, focus on this aspect of real estate brokerage and will reiterate this message, which appears to remain unclear to many. Action will be taken in case of repeat offences. The public’s trust in our profession is at stake.

Reference: Section 36 of the Regulation respecting brokerage requirements, professional conduct of brokers and advertising
Mortgage referral ruled a real estate brokerage activity

Mortgage referral ruled a real estate brokerage activity

Court of appeal rules in favour of the ACAIQ

Mortgage referral ruled a real estate brokerage activity

OACIQ Reference Number: 4205
December 3, 2003 - 00:00

Notice to reader

Please note that the following article has not yet been updated since the coming into force of the new Real Estate Brokerage Act on May 1, 2010. Readers are advised to refer to this content with caution and to make any necessary adjustments when applying the content to their own situation.
If you have any questions, please contact the Info OACIQ Information Centre at 450 462-9800 or 1 800 440-7170, or by sending us a message.
Source: ACAIQ

In a decision handed down on May 21, 2003, the Court of Appeal of Quebec has confirmed that the referral of clients to a lending institution for a loan secured by immovable hypothec, in exchange for compensation if the loan is granted, constitutes a brokerage activity under the Real Estate Brokerage Act. According to the Court, laws governing real estate brokerage activities are there to ensure the protection of the public and this protection would be diminished if securities brokers and their representatives who do not hold the authorizations or certificates required under these laws were allowed to encourage their clients to borrow against an immovable hypothec collateral.
Following are the facts that led to this decision. In 1999, Compagnie de Fiducie M.R.S., a trust company active in the field of mortgage lending across Canada and a subsidiary of a major investment management company, Mackenzie Financial Corporation, wanted to launch a client referral program in Québec as it had already done in other Canadian provinces. Under this program, investment representatives who were part of the Mackenzie financial distribution network could direct clients seeking a loan secured by immovable hypothec to M.R.S. If M.R.S. granted a mortgage of more than $50,000 to a client, M.R.S. would pay the securities broker whose representative referred the client an amount of up to $400.
Under the M.R.S. program, the role of the securities broker and his representative was to be limited to:
  • provide clients with documentation concerning M.R.S. mortgage products ;
  • provide clients with a toll-free telephone number to reach an M.R.S. representative; or;
  • have clients fill out a reply card with their name, address and telephone number so a representative could contact them directly.
Once the client was thus put in contact with M.R.S., the role of the securities broker or his representative would stop there. The rest would concern only the client and M.R.S. Therefore, the broker or his representative would provide no advice, would not represent themselves as mortgage brokers, would not take part in the loan application or approval process, would not contact M.R.S. and, more generally, would not undertake any action with M.R.S. on behalf of the client.
This being said, the Association des courtiers et agents immobiliers du Québec (ACAIQ) still considered the referral process in this program to be a brokerage activity under the Real Estate Brokerage Act. The ACAIQ felt that only a real estate broker or agent or a representative registered with the Bureau des services financiers (BSF) and authorized to carry out brokerage activities in connection to loans secured by immovable hypothec, in accordance with the Act respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services, should be able to use the referral process as described in the M.R.S. program.
Not satisfied with the Association's interpretation, M.R.S. filed a motion for a declaratory judgment before the Superior Court to establish that the proposed program would not involve real estate brokerage activities. The Superior Court agreed, stating that "the act of referring a client to M.R.S. in order to help secure a mortgage loan does not make a securities broker or his representatives, subject to the CVMQ (Quebec Securities Commission) ethics, into intermediaries. They are merely referring, [which] cannot be considered a real estate transaction that could come under the jurisdiction of the respondent, (the ACAIQ), in its role of protecting the public".
This Superior Court decision meant that securities brokers and their representatives registered with the CVMQ and those registered with the BSF could engage in mortgage referral activities under the program proposed by M.R.S. without holding a real estate broker or agent certificate or the required authorization by the BSF. The ACAIQ appealed this decision, and the Court of Appeal ruled in its favour. According to the court, "the role of broker is essentially that of an intermediary: by his intervention, he plays an essential role in establishing contact between a lender and a borrower".
This decision from Québec's highest court clearly states that anyone engaging in a referral activity, even to a very slight degree, in connection with loans secured by immovable hypothec, is also carrying out a real estate brokerage activity, whether this person does is frequently or not. The person must therefore hold a certificate issued under the Real Estate Brokerage Act or apply for an authorization under the Act respecting the Distribution of Financial Products.

Friday, February 4, 2011

CAAMP Stats

Bank of Canada Interest Rate


December 7, 2010 1.00 %
January 18, 20111.00 %
March 1, 2011Next meeting date
Source: Bank of Canada

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Bank Prime Lending Rate

December 8, 20103.00 %
January 19, 2011 3.00 %
March 2, 2011Next meeting date
Source: Bank of Canada

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Conventional Mortgage - 5 Year Rate*


December 1, 20105.19 %
December 29, 20105.19 %
January 19, 2011 5.19 %
Source: Bank of Canada
*Determinant for high ratio mortgage variable qualifying rate


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US Federal Reserve Board Discount Rate

December 14, 20100.00 % - 0.25 %
January 26, 2011 0.00 % - 0.25 %
March 15, 2011Next Meeting date
Source: US Federal Reserve

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Exchange Rate $CDN($US)

December 31, 20101.0054 $CDN ($US)
January 19, 20110.9955 $CDN ($US)
January 31, 20110.9985 $CDN ($US)
Source: Bank of Canada

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Government of Canada Bonds

Bond TypeDecember 22, 2010 January 12, 2011 January 26, 2011
1 year Treasury Bill 1.36% 1.40%1.33%
3 year Benchmark
Bond Yield
1.87%1.96%1.91%
5 year Benchmark
Bond Yield
2.42%2.53% 2.56%
10 year Benchmark
Bond Yield
3.17% 3.26%3.31%
Source: Bank of Canada

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Total New Housing Starts (Seasonally adjusted and annualized)
Province
October 2010
October 2009
November 2010
November 2009
December 2010
December 2009
Newfoundland/Labrador
3,400
2,900
3,100
3,200
3,200
4,200
PEI
300
1,200
1,000
1,000
1,000
1,300
Nova Scotia
5,600
4,000
3,600
2,800
2,800
2,900
New Brunswick
5,600
3,600
3,600
3,900
3,000
3,600
Quebec
49,500
37,200
44,100
40,400
47,500
51,600
Ontario
46,800
57,600
83,300
53,000
46,000
56,300
Manitoba
4,000
4,200
5,500
4,200
6,500
3,400
Saskatchewan
5,200
3,600
9,400
6,100
7,600
4,500
Alberta
25,700
25,000
21,500
24,800
20,600
27,800
British Columbia
26,000
18,200
20,800
19,200
30,000
22,200
CANADA
172,100
157,400
195,900
158,500
168,300
177,800
Source: CMHC Housing Now - January 2011 and January 2010. This seasonally adjusted data goes through stages of revision at different times of the the year.

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Average MLS® Resale Price for Local Markets

CityDecember 2009 December 2010
Halifax $246,380$273,182
Saint John$178,037 $165,770
Quebec $216,752$249,964
Montreal$287,788 $304,684
Ottawa $311,604$325,031
Toronto$411,931 $433,887
Hamilton/Burlington $285,795$324,590
Winnipeg$209,963 $239,183
Saskatoon $291,554$300,693
Regina$241,644$251,690
Calgary$394,300 $381,308
Edmonton $319,201$310,885
Vancouver $627,582$700,773
Victoria$522,211$496,814
Source: Canadian Real Estate Association

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Quarterly Housing Affordability Index
Standard Two-Storey

Market
Q4 2010
Average
Last
Quarter Avg
Q4 2009
Average
2 Storey
% Change
Halifax
291,000
287,000
265,333
9.7%
Charlottetown
198,000
196,000
195,000
1.5%
Moncton
134,900
137,900
131,000
3.0%
Fredericton
205,000
205,000
210,000
-2.%
Saint John
245,000
299,000
268,000
-8.6%
St. John's
327,627
313,775
298,833
9.6%
Montreal
375,222
363,139
345,178
8.7%
Ottawa
354,083
345,167
331,917
6.7%
Toronto
594,231
578,119
562,929
5.6%
Winnipeg
296,750
287,188
279,000
6.4%
Regina
282,500
274,000
590,000
9.1%
Saskatoon
359,250
350,000
338,750
6.1%
Calgary
404,622
410,489
427,067
-5.3%
Edmonton
334,286
338,571
341,986
-2.3%
Vancouver
1,007,500
977,250
917,500
9.8%
Victoria
480,000
470,000
449,000
6.9%
National
360,329
368,843
345,143
4.4%
Detached Bungalow
Market
Q4 2010
Average
Last
Quarter Avg
Q4 2009
Average
Bungalow
% Change
Halifax
255,967
254,667
238,000
7.5%
Charlottetown
165,0