I’ve wrestled for a few days with whether or not I should write this post or not, and apparently, the side of me that wanted to write it, won the wrestling match. I suppose this is a post that I hope will serve as a warning on a few different levels. It is real estate related, local Brampton related and business related.
This month marks the 4 year anniversary of Jacquie and myself paying a trustee for loans and debts created by the closing of Hunny’s Bar & Eatery. A bar we used to own. We struggled paying the debt for a full year and a half, before we got a trustee involved. We just couldn’t handle it any more. The debt was massive! We have one year left to pay this debt. Hopefully this next year goes fast, because we are sick of paying money for something that was taken from us.
In no particular order, here’s what’s on my mind…If you have any aspirations of having your own “brick & mortar” business (as opposed to an online business), cross your t’s and dot your i’s. This was the first mistake we made. We “trusted”, when we shouldn’t have. This is business. No one is to be trusted. Everything must be in writing…end of story. That’s how we lost our premises. A small clause in the lease was exercised in favour of the Landlord. I understand his rationale for not wanting us there, but at the end of the day, it meant we lost pretty much everything.
He no longer wanted a bar in the hotel, as he had changed venues. It was a run-down, old-school hotel called the Rosetown Inn (formerly called The Brampton Hotel and before that, The Thunderbird) that he changed into a Howard Johnson. So, he now had legitimate families checking in, not just people wanting a one-night stand sort of rental. My issue is that when we bought the bar business, there was no intention of turning the hotel into a Hojo. It was done mid-stream, after we had already taken possession of the business. Not fair to us! Had there had been this kind of talk, we wouldn’t have gone ahead with the purchase.
The other biggie that was so incredibly unfair and underhanded, was the non-smoking fiasco. We got word that new non-smoking laws were coming into effect in six months (for argument’s sake). So, we were like…what now? Crap! This is so unfair to us. Hunny’s Bar had a 90% smoking clientele. It was a blue-collar, rough bar. Pretty similar to most hotel bars you would find in “small town” Ontario. We knew that when this new law was in effect, we would sink.
Some con-artist came up with a private-club idea. They were known as “The Bicycle Club”. It would cost around $3500 – $5000 to join up. It operated in the grey area of the law. We weren’t comfortable with that because we were already a target for the Morality section of the police and the Liquor inspector etc. and didn’t need more problems. So, we opted to build a smoking room. The costs ballooned to roughly $75,000.00 plus around $30,000 to subsidize the empty bar, while we built the room.
By doing so, we were told by the local government that we should get around 3 1/2 years use out of the room. We figured that warranted building it. So, we went ahead. Right after it was built, the Dalton Mcguinty Liberal government over-ruled any local laws and said we could have 10 months use out of this brutally expensive room. Callous disregard for us and our investment.
Prime example of how well the government takes care of the little business guy. Dalton Mcguinty didn’t care one bit if we sank or starved. As long as he got his way, he didn’t give a shit about us!
The bitter end was in sight. After the room was shut down, I was regularly dropping thousands a month into the bar to keep it going. So, at the end of the 5 year lease we were told to go. In spite of everything, there was a sense of relief but also a host of other mixed feelings.
There was no justice or fairness in any part of owning that bar business.
Granted, there were some good times along the way, but the negatives so outweighed the positives. Fighting the landlord, the local government
and the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) was grueling and some nights I lay awake in bed, and wondered “What had we done to ourselves?”
The AGCO is ruthless! They have very strict rules and if they think you’ve violated them, then you’re automatically guilty (very Salem Witch-Hunt). They shut us down for a week, unjustly (cost us $8,000), because they accused us of doing something that we did not do, convinced us into a over-the-phone tribunal, where we were convicted and given our penalty…a week shut-down.
I thought we lived in a Democracy!
Anyway, this has become more of a rant than I wanted, but it is also a statement of the facts and hopefully someone can learn from our mistakes.
We were so anxious to have this business that we weren’t as diligent as we should’ve been.
Remember, never trust what the government tells you. They change laws at their own whims. They don’t consider what the people that they serve (us) want. Only what they want and what the lobbyists can put together. If we were a stronger group of bar-owners, we should’ve hired a lobbyist or group to represent us. There was no unity at the time, within the bar owners who
were affected by the smoking laws, in spite of me phone canvassing bar owners and asking if they would join in and fight together. They all said “nah”….most of them were happy to lay down and take the beating from the government. I threw up my arms….one bar owner, fighting, is futile and financially impossible!
Anyhoo, best of luck to whoever is planning to be a business owner within the hospitality field. As a side-note I did send a letter to Dalton Mguinty. He got one of his worms to write me a condescending letter. Apparently, if my family eats or not, didn’t matter to him!
There are some good lessons in our story. Call me if you have any questions about the bar biz and if you need any clarity on what I’ve said here.
Just remember to read the fine print, cross your T’s etc. trust no one, do your due diligence….oh did I mention trust no one? You get my point…
Advantages of a Ten Year Mortgage
My mortgage lady, Corina Murphy just sent me a very well crafted article. I am sharing it because it raises some excellent thoughts and gives some very helpful insights. Years ago, locking in for a ten year mortgage term was rarely done. The way the economy is now and the level that interest rates are at now, lends merit to at least thinking about locking in for the long term. Read on….
The advantage of a 10 year mortgage
Even with over 100 years of past data, no financial analyst can clearly predict the future and, with the current turbulence in the financial market analysts are having a difficult time coming to a consensus of what they believe will happen over the next 5 – 10 years.
With so much uncertainty and debate I have been recommending that my clients consider looking at locking in their mortgages for as long as possible. This could be a great option for you and your future financial stability. Here are some of the advantages:
Lowest cost of borrowing – The 10 year mortgage rate is currently the lowest it has ever been in history
Payment certainty – Only a 10 year rate gives you the certainty of knowing that your mortgage payment will not need to change for the next 10 years, giving you the ability to live your life without the concerns of rising interest rates and, increasing monthly payments
Safest mortgage- With the uncertainty of what is to come in the financial markets the 10 year rate gives you the opportunity to skip these turbulent times, and ride through any future rough times without the worry of renewing your mortgage rate in the middle of a ‘worse time’. Plus with the features that are built into your 10-year mortgage, you will see how you are even more protected
Currently, in 2011 and 2012 we are being offered rates that are considerably lower than we have ever been offered before. These unusually low rates have been caused by the current global economic down turn, and have given us what financial experts are calling “emergency rates”, to help stimulate the economy.
As a result Canada has seen long term mortgage rates decrease to a point where you can now get a 10 year fixed mortgage lower than the average 10 year variable rate. Leaving Canadians with the decision of deciding whether or not they should pay the penalties and costs associated with breaking their current mortgage to get a new low rate mortgage with a longer-term.
This is the lowest 10- year rate in Canadian History!
There has been substantial research completed showing the power of the variable rate mortgage, York University did a study headed by their associate professor of finance Moshe A. Milevsky saying that 88% of the time it`s better to be in a variable rate than a fixed, and up until recently you would have found me recommending variable rates to my clients.
However, no one can predict what is going to happen with rates in the future, and with the current instabilities in the global economies we are even more in the dark than normal. By locking into a 10-year term at the current lowest historical rate you get the comfort of knowing that no matter what happens in the economy you will be protected for 10 years.
We must look beyond the short term benefits of a 5-year fixed and see that if we are looking for protection, the 10-year offers double the protection with lower overall interest costs. I believe that trying to traverse through the next 5-10 years with a variable rate is too risky when compared to the cost of locking in for 10 years and gaining certainty and protection from whatever may come.
When the experts review the current data that is available they make some pretty strong comments. On May 6 2012 Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance Minister said, “Rates have no place to go but up”, and Garry Marr financial writer for the Financial Post said the same thing almost 3 months earlier, “The writing is on the wall for rates to rise”. On April 17th 2012 Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada stated, “In light of the reduced slack in the economy and firmer underlying inflation, some modest withdrawal of the present considerable monetary policy stimulus may become appropriate.” Translation: he wants to raise rates as soon as he can. These statements are clear indicators that the window of opportunity to lock in rates is diminishing and some believe that we may never see rates this low again.
It is important to extend your view of your finance’s out over the next 10 years and view the impacts that rising rates will have on your personal financial wellness. “Payment Shock” is a common term used in the financial industry for an individual who locks into a mortgage at a low rate and then at renewal is faced with a new mortgage rate that has a significantly higher monthly payment that is difficult and sometimes painful to incorporate in their budget.
“What if your mortgage rate went up by 2 points?” – Garry Marr, Financial Post
“Interest rate jump poses threat to many B.C. homeowners”- Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun
The comments made by these experts are both timely and accurate; with mortgage payments representing such a huge portion of our monthly obligations, any changes to that payment could have dramatic effects on a family’s ability to manage their lifestyle. With interest rates being so low for so long we have grown accustomed to managing our lifestyle based on payments that may soon disappear at your next renewal.
Canada has been able to manage through the current economic crisis with significantly less pain than that which the majority of other countries are feeling. The citizens of those countries are being shown the consequences of not preparing for the worst-case financial scenario, and currently a lot of Americans are being taught this lesson, at the cost of their family’s home.
In Canada, because of the strength of our financial system we have been given the opportunity to learn these lessons without having to go through the pain ourselves. The only reality that we need to face is that it could happen in Canada and it might be prudent to take this opportunity to ensure that we are protected for the long term in the event that it does.
Is It Worth It For You To Protect Yourself For The Next 10 Years?
On the surface I believe that the 10-year fixed rate mortgage is the best solution for every Canadian, however it may not be feasible due to potential penalties and costs associated with breaking your current mortgage contract. So we must determine if this opportunity is cost effective and appropriate to your personal financial situation. In order to help you make a decision I am able to send you an analysis of your mortgage and show you the impact to your mortgage over the next 10 years if you decided to convert. It is also going to show you that simply taking advantage of the low five-year rates that are available and are being highly promoted by the major financial institutions doesn’t provide you with the adequate protection that you need to ensure your family’s future financial stability.
Making the right decision for your family is crucial in today’s tough economic times, and a wrong decision could have a devastating impact on your long term financial stability. However the challenge today is figuring out what decision is ultimately the best. I can show you not only how to protect yourself and your family’s finances for the next 10 years, but how this protection ultimately pays down your mortgage faster and with an overall lower cost of interest.
“Little changes to your mortgage, can make huge impact! An optimized mortgage will save you thousands of dollars in interest”
Corina J. Murphy | Mortgage Agent |Lic #M11002757
Premiere Mortgage Centre Inc | Tel: 416-884-1428 | Fax: 905-846-1109
Frequently asked questions about converting to a 10 year Mortgage:
1. What if I have extra debt I would like to pay off? If you currently have any additional, unsecured debt like credit cards, lines of credit, or vehicle loans now is a great time to consider repositioning those debts into your mortgage. Before we go any further with converting your mortgage to a 10-year fixed we will take the time to show you the advantages and the additional interest that you can save by including those debts in your mortgage, creates extra monthly cash flow as a bonus.
2. What if I want to buy a new home within the next ten years? Your new 10 year fixed mortgage is completely portable, which means if you buy a new home you can bring your mortgage and transfer the low guaranteed rate associated with the mortgage to your new home, with no additional penalties.
3. What if I start using the Inflation Hedge Strategy, and I can’t afford to increase the payment? The Inflation Hedge System is designed to notify you when I would recommend for you to increase your monthly payment, but it is not a requirement, you could choose to keep your payment the same. I feel that it is my job to ensure that you’re getting the advice that you need in order to make the best decisions for your financial future. I understand and respect that ultimately you are the one that needs to make the decisions that are best for your family, as long as I’m giving you the advice that I think you need; I am comfortable with whatever decision you make.
4. What if I simply want out of my mortgage? The 10 year fixed mortgage has the same prepayment cost as the 5-year fixed mortgage, which is an interest-rate differential for the first 5 years or a three-month interest penalty. Once you are 5 years into your 10-year term, the maximum prepayment cost for breaking your mortgage would be a three-month interest penalty. The prepayment penalties on the 10 year fixed mortgage are actually better than what you would get with 2 five-year terms because the interest rate differential disappears after the first 5 years when using the ten year fixed mortgage, and it will be there the entire time with two 5-year term.
5. What are the steps to get this started? If this is something that you are interested in I will begin getting everything ready for you right away. Once I have a commitment from the bank to provide you with the mortgage we will meet again and review all the specific details of your new mortgage.
Food For Thought
I hope this article gets you thinking about your mortgage and the security of locking in at today’s crazy low rates. I am living proof that high interest rates can really cut into your life. With our first home we had two mortgages. A first mortgage at 11 3/4%, and a second mortgage at 17 1/2%. It was a $183,000 purchase. With mortgage payment and taxes, it was almost $1900/month. Can you imagine? Today, the exact same size mortgage plus taxes would be just over $1000/month. We are in very fortunate times, as far as borrowing money is concerned.
For any real estate info, don’t hesitate to call me!
How Has Brampton Changed?
This pic is courtesy of the Peel Heritage Complex.
It is such a moment in time. I wish I was around to see Brampton in the 1950′s. It was a mere fraction of the size that it is now, with population in the 10,000 people range. I moved here to Brampton in 1975. So, my first memories of Brampton are from that era.
What Do You Remember About Brampton?
What I’m hoping is that everyone who remembers changes about Brampton leaves a comment below, explaining the change that they remember. I’ll start off with some of the changes that I remember and as I come across pictures of old Brampton, I’ll post them here also.
Burger King on Queen Street, near Hwy 410 – I remember when there was no Burger King and it was just an old abandoned house. We believed it was a haunted house…it did look scary….hey we were just kids!
Community of Heart Lake – It was around 1978 (Ithink), and we used to go up to what is now known as the Community of Heart Lake, using the old Hwy 7 By-pass, remember?. We used to swim in this small body of water, now known as Loafer’s Lake. There was nothing around, just dirt and trees and a couple of trails. Then one day, we went up there and things looked slightly different and there was a lone back-hoe parked by the lake. Little did I know that this was the beginnings of the Community of Heart Lake. Incidentally, when the Community of Heart Lake was in it’s infancy, it was long distance to make a phone call to Brampton…crazy, eh?
Brampton Restaurants & Shops – The Mandarin (later it became Chan’s Chinese Buffet) used to be in Squire Mews Plaza (on Queen St, just East of Kennedy Rd.), and so was the Crock & Block, later to be called Donnelly’s Bar. Across the road was Queen’s Pizza and Oh Henry’s Bar. In the 1970′s was a Grocery Store at the North East corner of Kennedy Rd & Queen St, called Warehouse Foods, then Sunnybrook Grocery, then New Asia. It was attached to a strip plaza, where there was Brampton Donuts, The Uptown Restaurant and Elias Carpet Warehouse (not a restaurant, but it’s a bench-mark). Where Crabby Joe’s is currently was The Olive Garden. Before that it was a Fuddruckers. There used to be a Pizza Nova dine-in restaurant on Kennedy Rd., South of Clarence (I worked there for 5 years, spinning pizzas). There was a Frank Veteres Pizza across the road from Shopper’s World. In Bramalea was a Mother’s pizza (amazing 4 cheese pizza) and O’tooles Bar in Bramalea, where Oscar’s Roadhouse is now, and Shopper’s World.
I’ll leave that section as is for now….if you can think of any more, leave it in the comments section and I’ll add it in.
Housing – This is a whole, huge article all by itself. The changes in Brampton have been incredible. Having said that, Peel Village is an area that is quite memorable and has great significance. As a matter of fact, Exit Realty Inc. has an archive of the builder’s designs/blueprints of the homes in Peel Village. This is handy information for someone selling their home in this area…let me know. The beginnings of Peel Village is before my time. However, I don know that it was built on farmland. Hence the street names…Bartley Bull Pkwy; Farmington Dr.; Jersey Ave.; Duncan Bull Dr. etc….
Share your Brampton knowledge and pics. Send me your pictures and I’ll upload them here for all to enjoy.
Always Here To Help With Your Real Estate!
Bovaird Hearing Clinic
This Blog post is very long overdue.
History of Bad Hearing
Many moons ago, my Mom started to have hearing problems. I’m not exactly sure how far back, but I’m going to say it’s been at least 30 years. So, originally it was one hearing aid, then it became two hearing aids. Then as the years went by, her hearing aids became increasingly ineffective. It was very frustrating for my Mom….and for all of us around her, repeating ourselves two or three times, on occasion, just so she would understand what we were saying. Mom got new hearing aids a few times and they would be maintained and sometimes repaired, but it was never perfect.
Don’t Ever Make This Mistake!
So, my Mom is vacationing in Portugal (it’s where Mom was born and we still have family there) and as usual she is having troubles hearing properly, when some family friend says “You should get hearing aids here, we have an amazing hearing Doctor here….” (in Portuguese, of course). Reluctantly Mom agrees. So, a few thousand dollars later, Mom has brand new Portuguese hearing aids. The only problem is that Mom lives here in Brampton, Ontario. These hearing aids never worked 100% for my Mom. They were okay, but she always felt that something wasn’t right…something was missing, like food without salt. Well, getting them serviced became impossible. No clinics here were familiar with the brand of hearing aid and sending them to Portugal for servicing and maintenance was out of the question. They became lemons, and I had no plans to make lemonade out of them, lol. Never buy something of this nature in a country other than the one you live in!
Mom is Referred to the Bovaird Hearing Clinic
Mom has an internal medicine Doctor that she sees once a year or so, a Dr. Sadak. Lovely lady and a very attentive Doctor. Mom really likes her. So, during the course of one of her visits, Mom explains about how poor her hearing is and about these Portuguese hearing aids. Dr. Sadak asks Mom if she’d like to get new ones and recommended the Bovaird Hearing Clinic. So, off we went (I take Mom to all her Doctor appointments) and met with Dr. Sherina Crichlow.
Dr. Crichlow Really Listens…
Right away I could see that Dr. Crichlow was really listening to Mom and was very attentive to her. I was thinking to myself, this is a good Doctor. Mom was very comfortable with Dr. Crichlow and felt as though she was sincerely trying to do the best for her. After a while, Mom’s hearing aids were ready for pickup and so off we went. We left the clinic that day and Mom had a smile on her face that I hadn’t seen in a long time. She was hearing very well. Mom is 85 years young and this was probably the best she had heard in well over a decade!
If you’re hearing isn’t as good as it should be, go over to the Bovaird Hearing Clinic and speak with Dr. Sherina Crichlow. I think you’ll be smiling just like my Mom was! Visit their website at www.bovairdhearingclinic.ca
I am a community minded person and if someone or a certain business has done well for me, my family or friends, I will share the story and the business with everyone! Unfortunately, we always hear the bad stuff and not always the good stories.
For any real estate info, don’t hesitate to contact me!
I received an email from my good friend Lorne Deffett. I liked it so much, I wanted to share it. I asked him and he was good with me using his content.
10) “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
9) “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough people get what they want.”
8 ) “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”
7) “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”
6) “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”
5) “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”
4) “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”
3) “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
2) “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
1) “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”
I also came across this video, that I think is an excellent bit of motivation for anyone. Enjoy!
That’s all for today! I am taking it easy today and so this was a way for me to accomplish this and still share something valuable.
Remember to call me if you have any real estate questions!
Top 10 Energy Saving Tips
There’s actually way more tips in this article than just ten. There are ten categories to focus on. Once you start to implement these energy saving tips you can stop flushing your money down the toilet!
1. Your Drafty Home
- Find and seal all air leaks you come across. Check walls, ceilings, around doors and windows, floors and basements.
- Specifically, check weather stripping around windows and doors.
2. Your HVAC System (Heating/Cooling)
- Get a programmable thermostat
- When you are awake and at home, set your thermostat at 21ºC, when home and asleep, 18ºC and when you are out, set at 15ºC.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace keep the damper closed, when not in use.
- Have your furnace cleaned and inspected annually. Check and clean/replace your air filters.
- Seal all duct work seams with duct tape and then insulate all hot air ducts and hot water pipes that go through areas that don’t require heating.
- Clean all your registers and/or radiators, removing debris and air-obstructions.
- Make sure air from the registers is directed properly. If not, use air deflectors to guide the air appropriately.
- During the day (when you’re not home), set your thermostat between 25ºC and 26ºC.
- If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, shut off your air-conditioning system
- During the day, when you’re not home, close your drapes/blinds to avoid unnecessary heat from the sun.
- Leaking taps? Change the washers or cartridges.
- If you have a freezer, place it out of the sun, in a cool place.
- Only run your dishwasher when it’s full and don’t use the drying mode.
- haw out frozen food in the fridge as it will help keep the fridge cool as it’s thawing out. Also, it’s the recommended way to thaw out food. Double-win.
- Make sure to keep the fridge condenser coils dust and dirt free. Also make sure the fridge door seals are good. If not, replace them.
- Use pots that fit the burner properly and use pots with lids that have a tight fit.
- Boil water with an electric kettle. They are more efficient than using a pot on the stove.
- Use a microwave oven wherever possible. Way more efficient.
- Don’t open the oven door. Cook by time and not by sight.
- Use reflector foils under the stove burners.
- Install efficient low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.
- Get a toilet with a one-gallon (or less) flush.
- Don’t take a bath, when you can take a shower. They use way less water.
- If you do take a bath, don’t drain the water right away. Let the water release all it’s heat into the house first.
- For outside, use motion sensors
- Use the high efficiency, compact fluorescent bulbs. They use a fraction of the energy and last up to 10 times longer than conventional bulbs.
- Use dimmers in rooms and areas where full lighting isn’t always necessary.
- Use programmable light switches and timers to turn off lights automatically when no one is there.
- Place floor lamps and table laps in a corner for better light reflection off the walls.
- Use lamps on tables and in specific locations as much as possible.
6. Laundry Room
- Don’t run the machines unless you have a full load. If you really have to, then remember to use the small-load setting and use cold water.
- If you need a new washing machine, buy a front-loader.
- Hang your clothes to dry outside whenever possible.
- Remember to clean the dryer lint screen.
- Use the dryer all in a row as it is already warm and you won’t waste as much energy on the heating up of the machine.
- Every computer has an energy saver/hibernation feature…use it.
- If you know you won’t be using your computer for a few days, turn it off.
- Adjust your water heater temperature to no higher than 48ºC/120ºF.
- Get a glass-fibre or foam insulation wrap blanket for the water heater.
- If your basement is not finished, install insulation between the joists, above grade, if there isn’t any there.
- Plant coniferous trees on the north and west side of the house and deciduous trees and bushes on the south and east side of the house . This provides a windbreak in the winter, and shade for the house in the summer, and filters carbon from the air.
- Use low maintenance plants in the gardens that don’t require a lot of water
- Lawns need roughly one inch of water each week, don’t over-water. It’s unnecessary.
- Get rid of your gas and electric mowers. Opt for a push mower. No emissions, no need for gas and you’re getting a bit of exercise.
- Change your oil and filter at the properly prescribed intervals
- Keep your air filter and any other filters clean.
- Maintain the proper tire pressure for optimum fuel efficiency.
- If you’re in a cold climate, use a block heater with a timer. Set the block heater to turn about 2 hours before you need to start the car. A warmer engine doesn’t need as much fuel to start up.