Wishing a wonderful Easter and an inspiring Spring.

That is one good thing about this world … There are always sure to be more springs.

-L.M. Montgomery

I’m not sure how many times I can say this but these are interesting times. I don’t think they are necessarily bad times, although, for some families, they are certainly more financially challenging than others. But interesting? Absolutely.

Keri and I have been reaching out to our clients to see how we can help or if we can help.

Some of the calls are a quick hello. Some of the calls are deep and meaningful conversations about family, how COVID-19 has changed their life for the better, for the worse, or has simply allowed for a greater appreciation of work, home, and family.

Some of our clients have noticed how much better life is when you’re not constantly in a car, to be free from hours of traffic each and every day. Others have noticed how they were more productive working from home and hoped it could continue once the new normal is established. Finances aside, I believe COVID-19 is showing us some of the things we didn’t know we were missing.

I’ve spoken with apologetic parents, while children screamed joyously, angrily, or “I want some attention NOW”-ly in the background. Homes with children have so much energy. If you are a parent, you are all too familiar with this. You cannot have a phone call or go to the bathroom without a child making their presence known! No need to apologize, we get it. Boy, do we get it. The same goes for the energetic fur-babies who love to “contribute” to the conversation. That’s life.

I am in awe of the families that are managing to work from home while parenting, homeschooling, entertaining, cooking, cleaning, and so on. I can’t even imagine it. I tip my hat to each and every one of you. And I’m excited to hear about all the little magical moments you’ve had, about all the closets that have been emptied, reorganized, and put back together. I hear stories of kneading and making bread from scratch and the creation of sourdough starters since yeast was nowhere to be found. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that even though they’re still selling bread at the store, we’re back to the basics and making our own. When was the last time people made bread on mass? Was it the 1960’s?

From our conversations, I know we are playing more board games, cooking more meals, connecting with friends on the phone, having actual conversations. We are checking in on our families. Three weeks ago we were keen to duck out of family gatherings just because we could but now we are gathering on Zoom, Facetime, or Houseparty on a regular basis.

I’m not sure about you, but how many times have you said, “One day, when I have more time, I will ___”  Well, now’s the time. How have you filled your time? Surprisingly the overall and consistent message we are receiving from the majority of our clients is: “We’re okay, we’ll be okay. Finances are tight, but we are managing.”

The majority of the people I’m connecting with seem oddly happy or content; they are handling the COVID-19 quarantine and the “new normal” rather well. The more people I speak to, the more I hear about putting puzzles together and the good books that are being read. People are learning to share space, are grateful for space – and of course, some are wishing for more space! Sure, everyone wants to go outside, but the majority of people are adapting, making the best of these unusual times.

One of the best things I heard someone say, “I hope the ones you love are doing well.” How beautiful is that? It makes my heart smile. The human spirit is an amazing and resilient thing. Dare I say, for all the bad COVID-19 brought to the world, maybe it brought some good as well?

So tell me: How are you managing and coping? What have you learned about yourself? What will change for you when the quarantine ends? And what can I do to help?

Mortgage Information
Common Questions About Refinancing

“My friend rolled their car loan and other debt into their mortgage. Can you do that for us?” 

When someone says this to me, I know what they really want to do is use the equity they’ve built up in their home to help alleviate some of their financial pressure and free up cash-flow. And, yes, I can help with that!

What do you mean by ‘equity they’ve built up in their home’?

When you own a home you are building a sort of savings account. I like to call it the Forced Canadian Savings Account.  As each year passes, your home likely increases in value. On top of that, you are paying down your mortgage. An asset you’re actively paying down is also increasing in value. Together, the two processes build equity.

Do all homes increase in value?

When you add on the layer of sweat equity for the work you have done to your home or paid someone to do to your home, you are creating greater equity in the property. From replacing vintage shag carpet to planting a rose garden to remodelling a kitchen – your investments are helping the value of your home go up, up, up.

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Government Support Programs

Support for individuals and families

  • Special Goods and Services Tax credit payment
  • Extra time to file income tax returns –
  • We are deferring the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals until June 1, 2020.
  • Support for people facing unemployment
  • Support for people who are sick, quarantined, or in directed self-isolation

Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
There is an application process, if you need help, call #311 or click the link

 Food security

Isolated and/or vulnerable seniors and people experiencing homelessness

Emergency financial assistance

  • Call 3-1-1 and press 4 for social services (i.e. medical needs, trouble paying utility bills, housing arrears, etc.).

Community social services

  • Call 2-1-1 Community and Social Services Help Line – referrals to local community, social, government and health services.

Volunteer coordination

For The Kids

Get Creative 

  • Online Talent Show
  • A Zoom Talent Show for the kids
  • Get a few get together
  • Choose a date – maybe a week later but not longer, the kids will lose interest
  • Pick a date
  • Send out the Zoom link with instruction (and test)
  • Get everyone together on Zoom and GO – Have a terrific time.
  • Remember to hit the record button

Get Physical 
LAVA Floor – its hot!
Pretend the floor is made of lava in the home or in the yard.
Use pillows, placemats or anything around the house to act as safe spots. Use the mats to jump around and get too where you want to go.

Get Outside
Turn your driveway into a Snakes n’ Ladders board game. Draw the grid, snakes and ladder on you driveway and use your bodies as the pieces. Don’t’ forget to make I giant dice out of boxes. You can use chalk or cornstarch with food colouring.

Imagination Library with Dolly Parton
https://imaginationlibrary.com/goodnight-with-dolly-read-aloud/

Daycare Activities
https://www.himama.com/daycare-activities

Making Sense of A Changing Marketplace

Let me begin with my heartfelt hope that you and your loved ones are in good health.

We are in uncharted territory with the mortgage marketplace continually shifting. Here is a quick summary of common questions to help you make sense of it all.

FOR CURRENT HOMEOWNERS

What do the mortgage payment deferrals mean and how do I access that?
Mortgage insurers and lenders announced that eligible clients can delay mortgage payments. These are “compassionate” programs for those who are in serious financial straits and unable to make their mortgage payments. You will need to apply to the program, and assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis so please do not just start skipping payments. If you urgently need this help, get in touch. I can help you find the right channels to apply.

Will the lower Bank of Canada rate help me with my variable mortgage or line of credit?
Yes, your interest rate will also drop. Keep in mind that it usually doesn’t happen instantly, and your own rate won’t necessarily move in lockstep with the Bank of Canada rate. Ultimately, it’s the lender’s decision on whether – and how much of – the rate cut will be passed along to the end consumer. Lenders are naturally concerned about liquidity and the potential for an increase in defaults. If you do have a deep discounted variable rate mortgage, you are in a very good position.

What about my fixed-rate mortgage?
If you’ve got a fixed-rate mortgage, then nothing changes for you right now. The rate you negotiated is guaranteed for the entire term of your mortgage. However, if your fixed rate is a lot higher than the current rates available, then it is still worth calling to see if it makes sense to re-negotiate your mortgage to take advantage of today’s rates.

I have some credit-card and/or loan debt that now has me worried.
If you’re carrying high-interest credit card debt, and you have more than 20% equity in your home, it can make sense to roll those other debts into a new mortgage. You get one manageable payment, better cash flow, and interest savings.

FOR HOMEBUYERS

Events that have impacted buyers include:

  1. Obviously, we’re seeing not as many listings and home visits are certainly not wise. Most activity will be on hold until the future becomes clearer. Use this down time to get in touch for a review of your situation so you are ready to go when the time is right for you.
  2. The stress test changes announced earlier this year that would make qualifying a bit easier for both insured and uninsured mortgages will no longer go into effect April 6th.
  3. While rates initially went down at the start of this crisis, they then started to go up. New variable-rate mortgages are no longer being offered at deep discounts to prime.