September 21, 2017

The Art of Mindfulness

I read a very interesting article about a English teacher in one of the poorest areas of the Bronx teaching his students about Mindfulness.  About being aware of our feelings, our emotions and how they impact us.  About being focused and aware of our surroundings.  The school is known as ‘a transfer school’ designed to re-engage students who have dropped out or fallen behind.  Mindfulness is the ‘act of paying attention on purpose’ with a non-judgemental attitude.

The students were taught five-minute mindfulness exercises—from counting breaths and focusing on the sensations of breathing, to visualizing thoughts and feelings, to help train their attention, quiet their thoughts, and regulate their emotions.

Mindfulness is widely considered as an effective treatment for children, adolescents and adults with aggression, ADHD, anxiety or mental disorder.   It improves attention, reduces stress and results in better emotional regulation and an improved capacity for compassion and empathy.  Mindfulness is now spreading to schools, where it could potentially have an impact on students’ well-being.  It has to be better than all the drugs that are prescribed!

They started teaching mindfulness in the U.K. in 2007.  Teachers can enrol in a 6 week Mindful School Training in order to teach these skills to students.  Mindfulness would also help if applied to teacher education as a way to help prevent burnout, as it is a major issue, given that 20 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools leave within their first year.

A great reminder for us all!

Colleen Saunders is a 20 year veteran in the mortgage industry, serving Mississauga, Burlington, Oakville and Toronto and offering all mortgage related services such as 2nd mortgages, private mortgages and more.

To contact Colleen, please fill out the form on  www.mortgagesbycolleen.ca  or call 416-459-2406

What Hosts And Guests Need To Know About Short Term Rentals

You are thinking of renting your home, condo or cottage on Airbnb, Bookings.com and Homeaway but what are the legal implications for both the hosts and guests.  These include local regulations, liability insurance coverage and protecting yourself from scams. The following tips will help you avoid common problems and make informed decisions.

  • Are you permitted to rent or sublet your property? Local laws vary on short-term rentals. Some cities have sought to limit these rentals to preserve tax revenue. Before you consider hosting, check the local laws. If you are part of a homeowner’s association (HOA) you will need to consult your bylaws to determine whether you are permitted to rent out your home.
  • What is the worst that could happen? You have probably heard horror stories of properties being severely damaged by guests. There have also been cases where a guest refused to leave under squatter’s rights. For every one of these stories there are thousands of no hassle reservations and great stays but to prepare and protect yourself it is important to consider these potential complications. The key is understanding the law before you become a host. Guests should carefully review rules and terms to understand their rights in the event of a dispute.
  • Does the existing homeowner or renter’s insurance protect the host from liability? The answer depends on the specific coverage the host maintains. Some policies explicitly prohibit renting or subletting the insured property. It is important to review your policy carefully. Airbnb and some other booking companies now offer secondary liability insurance for hosts.
  • What types of scams are common on these sites? Both hosts and guests should beware of scams, which have grown more sophisticated and difficult to identify. Watch out for incredible listings at prices that are too good to be true. Also, beware of hosts that request funds via wire transfer.  Keep all payments and messages inside the listing website’s system.
  • How important are reviews? Reviews are extremely important for listing sites. They help identify troublesome guests and bad hosts. Read reviews carefully before making a reservation and look for warning signs about the rental and the host.
  • What if a guest or host has no reviews? New users do deserve some extra scrutiny but keep in mind everyone starts somewhere. Has the user been verified or vetted by the listing site?  Ask a lot of questions and make sure the answers make sense. If you are skeptical see if you can set up a phone call or Skype chat through the listing site to confirm the host is legitimate.

Colleen Saunders is a 20 year veteran in the mortgage industry, serving Mississauga, Burlington, Oakville and Toronto and offering all mortgage related services such as 2nd mortgages, private mortgages and more.

To contact Colleen, please fill out the form on  www.mortgagesbycolleen.ca  or call 416-459-2406

https://www.legalshield.com/blog/short-term-rentals-what-hosts-and-guests-need-know

Watch Out, Tighter Mortgage Lending May Still Be Coming

When will it stop!  After all the changes implemented to cool the housing market and reduce consumer debt, more tightening may still be coming.  Wouldn’t you think that the Ministry of Finance and OSFI would wait to see the impact before implementing more changes?

The recent changes targeted insured mortgages.  Now the Bank of Canada has identified the uninsured mortgage market as the next place to make tougher regulations.

The first measure that is likely being considered is related to Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs). This is clear for two reasons. First, because the Bank of Canada believes that the greater use of HELOCs could also be contributing to increasing household indebtedness raising concerns that HELOCs may be putting some Canadians at risk of over borrowing.

The critical policy question that the Department of Finance could be considering is whether to extend the stress test for insured mortgages to uninsured mortgages as well.  This could possibly have an impact in further cooling the markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

Let’s hope the government shifts their focus to unsecured household debt instead of further secured debt restrictions. However, if the Bank of Canada’s review is representative of the Ministry of Finance’s considerations, watch out for changes to HELOCs with the stress test being applied to uninsured mortgages.

We should all write to our MP’s, enough is enough.  The market is cooling and all that is going to happen is more expensive mortgage financing and reduced competition.  Go after the unsecured loans and credit card companies, that is where consumer debt is out of control!

Colleen Saunders is a 20 year veteran in the mortgage industry, serving Mississauga, Burlington, Oakville and Toronto and offering all mortgage related services such as 2nd mortgages, private mortgages and more.

To contact Colleen, please fill out the form on  www.mortgagesbycolleen.ca  or call 416-459-2406

https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2017/06/is-the-bank-of-canada-signalling-that-more-mortgage-rule-changes-are-coming/

Mindful Money Tips

Why is it we can talk about any subject but money.  We can give intimate details about our health issues, relationships, the bedroom but not our money situation.

Why is there so much shame and guilt around our finances?  We are always looking in the past, we should have done this or if only we had done that.  Only look back to learn from the past, not to blame or berate ourselves.  Look forward with the goal to empower yourself on how to change in order to give youself the life you want.

Here are some tips on how financially successful people achieve their goals:

  1. Devote at least 1 hour each week to manage and plan your finances.  Update your budget, review upcoming expenses, pay bills
  2. Read about personal finance each week.  Break up your financial education into chunks and choose 1 topic a week
  3. Have conversations with financially successful people you respect, what do they do?  What has worked and what has not. Most people love to help and share
  4. Try different strategies and find what works best for you.  Try different types of budgets, goal setting
  5. Know your numbers.  What do you need to make to cover all your expenses and fund your financial goals.  Get clear on your magic numbers
  6. Separate your business from your personal accounts.
  7. Build a cash surplus.  It would be optimal to have 6-12 months cash set aside to cover your expenses
  8. Pay off your debts.  Build a plan to pay down your debts every month not just the minimum payment
  9. Think about your retirement plan.  Start now, it is amazing how quickly it will grow

Financial education is the key, don’t be frightened of the subject.  Watch your money grow and reduce the financial stress in your life.  Have fun with your money!!

Colleen Saunders is a 20 year veteran in the mortgage industry, serving Mississauga, Burlington, Oakville and Toronto and offering all mortgage related services such as 2nd mortgages, private mortgages and more.

To contact Colleen, please fill out the form on  www.mortgagesbycolleen.ca  or call 416-459-2406

article:  https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/10-mindful-money-habits-of-successful-entrepreneurs?utm_term=pos-5&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_content=daily2&utm_campaign=170619

What Led Up To The Decline Of Home Capital

It all began as Home Savings Loan Corp., a St. Catharines-based company which Home Capital founder Gerald Soloway bought in 1987.  At the time, it had just 12 employees, with $51 million in assets and $3 million in equity.

By 1990, Home Capital started focusing exclusively on residential lending and aimed to provide mortgages to those who didn’t qualify for traditional bank loans — to borrowers were self-employed or had once been bankrupt, or had no credit history.

By 2001, the company was thriving on customers with spotty credit.  When Ottawa tightened the mortgage lending rules in 2012 and the big banks started pulling back from the non-prime mortgage market, Home Capital stepped into the void and picked up even more business.

In November 2014, Home Capital’s quarterly earnings fell short of analyst forecasts.  According to the Ontario Securities Commissions (OSC) timeline of events, Home Capital had become aware of irregularities associated with applications for insured mortgages as far back as June 2014. Two months later, it claims Home Capital launched an internal investigation to examine fraudulent employment income documentation.  “The findings highlighted the scale of the fraudulent documentation flowing through HCG, and the serious systemic underwriting control deficiencies within HCG,” the OSC says.

By February 10, 2015, the securities watchdog says Home Capital was finishing up the six-month probe and had cut ties with four underwriters, two brokerages and 30 brokers.  These brokers were integral — they had a cumulative total of $881.4 million in mortgage originations in 2014, or roughly 10 per cent of all of Home Capital’s originations that year.

But, when Home Capital filed its 2014 annual financial statements that month, the OSC alleges the company made materially misleading statements, blaming the decline on “external vagaries such as macroeconomics, seasonality and competitive markets.”

Home Capital publicly announced on July 10, 2015 that an ongoing review of its business partners had led it to terminate certain brokers, causing an immediate drop in mortgage originations. The next day, Home Capital’s stock price fell by 18.9 per cent — erasing $600 million from its market capital.

In March 2016, Soloway announced he was stepping down from his role as CEO after 30 years but would remain on its board. During his tenure, Home Capital grew from a dozen employees and about $51 million in assets to more than 870 employees and more than $25 billion in loans under administration.

In February and March, Home Capital said that the OSC had served the company and some of its former and current directors with enforcement notices, charging that it “failed to meet its continuous disclosure obligations” in 2014 and 2015.

The company’s problems began in April 2017 when the OSC alleged that several company executives broke securities laws and misled shareholders in their handling of a scandal involving falsified documentation for  mortgages almost two years ago.  The company was hit hard and deposits dropped by nearly $600 million between March 28 and April 24, and it needed to secure a $2 billion lifeline to mitigate the impact.  It did secure one in the end, from a syndicate of lenders including the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan — but at an onerous rate that analysts pegged at a 22.5 per cent effective interest rate for the first $1-billion.

Today, Home Capital has announced an agreement with KingSett Capital to sell a commercial mortgage portfolio valued at around $1.2 billion.  Last week, Home announced a settlement with the OSC and class action matters.

The real problem if Home Capital ceases to exist, is that consumers have one less option for mortgages, and that’s bad news for everyone.  Home Capital was the prominent equity lender in our market and without their resources, we have already seen equity rates rise 1-2%.  Should the company have to liquidate all their assets, it will be a sad day for consumers and the mortgage industry!

A house of woes: How Home Capital went from market darling to the brink

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/home-capital-faq-1.4090098

Colleen Saunders is a 20 year veteran in the mortgage industry, serving Mississauga, Burlington, Oakville and Toronto and offering all mortgage related services such as 2nd mortgages, private mortgages and more.

To contact Colleen, please fill out the form on  www.mortgagesbycolleen.ca  or call 416-459-2406