Monday, November 30, 2009

Edmonton's Expo 2017 Bid

I've never actually been to an Expo although having been in close proximity to 2 so far. The 1986 Vancouver one and the one in Aichi in Japan in 2005.

The only thing I do know is that my friend got bit by a giant poisonous spider that smuggled it's way to Canada in a packing crate.

She had a quarter size chunk missing out of her leg.

On that note here is Edmonton's 2017 $2.3 Billion Expo Bid.

Sounds fantastic! Hopefully I will take my 44 year old self and 9 year old son to it.

Expo 2017 Proposal: Facts and Figures

- The fair would last 93 days from early June until early September.

- The main site is on 25 hectares at University of Alberta’s South Campus, with pavilions from 80-100 countries, the 14 Canadian provinces, territories and federal governments, six companies, five non-governmental organizations, a recreation area and stages.

- This area would feature symposiums and conferences as well as displays.

- A “celebration” site is set for the historic west Rossdale-legislature grounds, which are slated for redevelopment, marking “places and spaces,” accessed by a new signature structure to replace the aging Walterdale Bridge and reusing the old Epcor power plant.

- The water taxi between the two sites would also serve Fort Edmonton Park.

- The budget includes $1.7 billion for construction, $386 million to operate the event, $55 million to subsidize poor countries that want to take part and $22 million for the entire bidding process.

- Governments would pay $2 billion, with the remainder covered by admissions and corporate sponsorship.

- Edmonton is the only Canadian city bidding for the event after Calgary backed out this fall; the 2017 host city will be chosen by the international Expo organization in 2012.

Does snow make everything ok?

to this ? picture courtesy of It's lovely! I'll take it!

Does snow make everything ok? Remember the first heavy snowfall of the year. You're out walking with warm mitten clad hands, toasty boots and a gut full of cocoa or perhaps a nice cognac for those so inclined. As you walk you can hear the crunch-crunch-crunch of snow underfoot.

You look around everything appears clean and pretty. Even the broken down house on the corner looks better, the garbage in the yard hidden away by the cover of a dreamy blanket.

If you live in B.C., it rains the next day and all the crud comes back up to the surface and looks twice as bad as it did before. Maybe the rain made it dirty, or maybe on some level you feel betrayed by the sudden and uncontrollable image shift.

Either way it is just snow and a dirty yard. If my mom were out walking, which is pretty unlikely as she hates the cold, she'd just see snow and hate it for what it is. That's because she likes the hot South African sun and can't relate to our Canadian winters.

But, it is all perspective. Especially in the current real estate and rental market.

That brings me back round to that broken down house. If you want to sell it or rent it, you need to make it warm and inviting. Tidy it up until it shines and find a way to add value to it - for both the prospective tenant or buyer. There are a lot of listings on the market now and tenants have a pick of the best and challenge landlords to lower the rents - which many feel forced to do.

When you look at that same paint peeling, rotten fenced, broken windowed home from an investors perspective - you can see opportunity. An opportunity to help a seller, and possibly a tenant, find a place to live in once you have done the needed repairs to turn that house into a home.

I guess I answered my own question. Snow can make a dirty house clean and you can make a crappy house a home with the right attitude and ability to see what can be instead of what sometimes is.

Now, if I could only find a way to make my mom think snow is great....

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Can't get bad tenants out?

The one thing you hear about rental property is "I don't want to deal with tenants!" Well it's not all black and white; for every 1 bad tenant you have there are dozens who love and treat your property as their own.

However for that bad one there are many services which allow you the landlord to focus on more important things than getting a non-paying tenant out. offers bailiff, tenant default and process services. Basically they do everything that you don't want to.

From their site:
  • We provide a low cost, efficient service to ensure payment of rental arrears and/or eviction of problem tenants.

  • One stop shopping - from the preparation and service of a Demand Letter to the enforcement of a Writ of Possession we handle the entire transaction.

  • We offer a hassle-free way of managing tenancy issues and our advice is always free.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How far is the.....? Walk Score is too cool!

There's gotta be a grocery store around here right? Famous last words. The house is perfect and matches all you criteria. You can' t wait to move but where is everything?


How many times are you asked by a prospective buyer or tenant what amenities a neighbourhood (Canadian spelling!) has? A lot. I admit sometimes when I fill out online forms for our rental properties that I use my judgment on what is near and far.

Sometimes that is ok but if you don't have a car....

To Walk Score, this website is so cool! Simply put in an address and you will get a rating on the neighbourhood's "walk-ability"(whether you need a car or not) and the proximity of all amenities down to the last tenth of a kilometer.

Picture a walkable neighborhood. You lose weight each time you walk to the grocery store. You stumble home from last call without waiting for a cab. You spend less money on your car—or you don't own a car. When you shop, you support your local economy. You talk to your neighbors."

Ah the last call dilemma.... haven't been bothered by that in years!

Anyway it's an amazing resource for all real estate professionals.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Momentum returning to oilsands - Edmonoton Journal

If the future of our economy is depending on natural resources then the future is depending on Alberta oilsands. Boom or bust they are here to stay. With 400 years of oil reserves until we start making cars that run on water the world is looking to Alberta to produce Food Fuel and Fertilizer.

"Feel it? Suddenly, there's a buzz in the air. Alberta's big, bad oilsands are back in vogue.

Oh, don't get too excited -- or aggravated, depending on how you feel about North America's biggest, messiest industrial project.

The oilsands boom isn't coming back anytime soon. At least, not in its original, chaotic form.

No one is predicting a sudden gusher of overlapping, poorly planned megaprojects, a brand new influx of tens of thousands of foreign temporary workers, or a rapid rebound to $147-US-a-barrel oil prices.

In fact, another spike in prices(however unlikely) is the last thing anyone wants. That includes OPEC, which sees the current $75 to $80 price range as pretty close to optimal."

This and That

Alberta Spends $2Billon for largest Carbon Capture Pipeline in the world -"Alberta will spend $2 billion over the next 15 years to push through with the largest pipeline system in the world to capture carbon dioxide. The green signal for the project was the recent signing of Letters of Intent with the Alberta government by Shell and TransAlta Corporation.

Once the two projects start in 2015, the yearly C02 reductions would be equivalent to tailpipe emissions of one million vehicles or removing off the road one-third of all the registered vehicles in Alberta."

That is an incredible reduction of Carbon emissions!

Alberta Productivity Lagging -"This is likely to be the first recovery led, not by North America or Europe, but by Asia, and it will be driven by energy and materials," said Leo de Bever, CEO of Alberta Investment Management Corp. (AIMCo).

"Alberta will be right in the middle of it, but we have to do something about productivity."

But Alberta is still in a better economic positiion due to it's lower projected deficit and $17 billion in a sustainability fund

Alberta housing market stilll affordable but costs are rising: RBC Economics -"Although home affordability has deteriorated, it still compares favourably to long-term averages," said Robert Hogue, senior economist at RBC. "Activity in the housing market has picked up considerably in the province since last winter, with prices now stabilizing or even gaining in some areas."

of the benchmark detached bungalow moved up to 34.4 per cent, the standard townhouse to 25.9 per cent, the standard condo to 22.4 per cent and the standard two-storey home to 37.9 per cent.

"The market recovery has been less pronounced in Alberta than in other regions of Canada, largely reflecting the particularly tough economic conditions in the province," noted Hogue. "Nonetheless, still-reasonable affordability levels and an expected economic recovery next year should boost housing demand in the period ahead."

In fact 35% affordability is very good other places, like B.C have seen figures in the 70% range.

Oilsands players hiring again but the economy isn't quite back in the game - "But while the new jobs indicate that activity in the oilsands is picking up, Sumner said he expects Alberta's labour market to remain volatile.

"It solidifies the fact that we know in the long run, these are viable projects and they're going to create a lot of jobs," he said.

"Does this mean that it's a sign the broader economy is turning around? I'm not sure you can quite say that."

Alberta's unemployment rate had jumped by 0.4% to 7.5% in October, an increase that had surprised many observers"

All eyes are looking to 2010 to be the year the economy rebounds, even with an unemployment rate of 7.5% Alberta was better off then most of Canada.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Read this if you are worried about rising interest rates!

We are all enjoying a reprieve from big mortgage payments but what how do we prepare for rising mortgage rates?

Here from Peter Kinch's mail-out is a transcript of the interview between Peter Kinch and Russell Byth that aired Sunday, November 22nd on News 1130
There's been a lot of talk this past week about the inevitable rise in interest rates and its effect on the housing market.

On the line with me is best selling author, Peter Kinch with Dominion Lending Centres. Pete, is the quick recovery and suddenly booming housing market setting us up for another fall?

Well Russ, there's certainly that potential, but again we need to keep some perspective. Just a year ago everyone was worried about how much equity they lost and a year later the headlines show a double digit growth in prices.

Clearly the housing market recovered faster than most expected. Do you think that was fuelled by the record low interest rates?

Well absolutely, that's a major factor. I mean, the Bank of Canada accomplished exactly what it set out to do and that was to stimulate the economy and the housing industry represents a major component of that economy.

So here's the question: if low rates spurred the recovery in the first place, could the inevitability of higher rates create a crash in the housing market 5 years from now when all these low rate mortgages come up for renewal?

That's a very legitimate concern; but remember, the same people who lowered rates to stimulate the economy will be very careful not to undo their hard work by letting them rise too fast.

Having said that, the prudent thing, for anyone getting a mortgage today, would be to budget for an increase of about 3% upon renewal. So my advice is to take advantage of these current low rates and increase your mortgage payments as much as your budget can afford. That way you will accelerate your debt reduction and when the day comes that you have to renew into a higher rate, you will do so with a lower principal balance.

And that will help you keep your payments down. Thanks Pete, some good advice. In the Business Centre, I'm Russell Byth.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quick Facts About Edmonton Alberta Canada

Some things you probably never knew about Edmonton, Alberta:
  • The name "Edmonton" is a Latinized version of a Saxon word meaning "Happy Hamlet,” and was used to honour the home of HBC governor James Winter Lake who was from Edmonton, England.

  • The city's population stands at 782,439 people as of April 2009; while Edmonton’s metropolitan population is more than a million people.

  • Edmonton is the gateway to a land of majestic mountains, pristine lakes, historic rivers and northern adventures and northern industries of oil, gas, lumber and mining. Edmonton is located on the TransCanada Yellowhead Highway, a route that offers the easiest and most scenic drive across western Canada.

  • The city of Edmonton began as a North West Company fur trading post in 1795.

  • During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 prospectors and adventures travelled by rail to Edmonton and then began the long overland journey to the Yukon. Edmonton became the last supply centre on route.

  • Edmonton is Alberta’s capital city. The Legislature is an iconic building of grand architecture where people flock to wade in or skate on the outdoor ponds.

  • Edmonton’s Waste Management Centre of Excellence has one of the world’s highest standards in recycling, composting and minimizing landfill. The Clover Bar facility diverts 60per cent of its solid waste, the highest diversion rate across Canada.

  • Edmonton won the 2009 Corporate Knights Sustainable Cities Ranking for the large city category.

    There's more at the EEDC

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Now is the season to be charitable.

With the holidays around the corner ( I know I am pushing it!) there is never a better time to give back. Coming out of an recession is hard on everyone's pocket books and sometimes it is most obvious during the holidays.

There are so many great charities to take part in. I have been invited via Facebook to Wrap Harder which sounds like a lot of fun.

Another one via the news Stuff a bus - the Edmonton Food Bank hopes to raise 240,000 kg of food. That's right about $90,000 or a bus full of food!

A great idea. I hope to do all I can here. Canadian Feed The Children Best Gift Ever is a great program where you can donate in someones name.

The gifts range from about $15 dental care for a child in a developing country to a $2000 new school. There are all price ranges in between. My husband and I are doing this for each other.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Look out technophobes! Changes in real estate.

Some of you know that I 've lived in Japan for about a decade now. The one thing that is constant here is change. Sometimes if I don't go downtown for a month buildings have changed.

Japan leads in new technology. The coolest thing is a square called a QR code that can go anywhere (clothing tags, drink cans, business cards) it acts like a bar code when scanned with a cell phone. The cell phone owner may be led to a website or can pay for the product using the code.

That technology reminds me of this:

"The listing-sheet box may be going the way of the $150,000 house.

You know the box. It's affixed in front of homes for sale and holds brochures or sheets of paper with the property's asking price, listing details and the realtor's business card.

It's being replaced, or superseded in importance, by a 21st-century- technology version that takes advantage of younger homebuyers' love of text messaging.

Vancouver-based RealtyText is the latest text-messaging service to move into Edmonton. The company plans to move into Calgary as well.

After launching in Edmonton two weeks ago, it now has more than 20 realtors subscribing to the service allowing them to upload their listings to the system and add a special code to their for-sale signs, says president George Haddad.

Customers who see a home can punch the number on the sign into their phone. "All the information about the property comes up within seconds on their phone, including photos," Haddad says."

Read the full article here.

Funny Tenant Complaints

These are hilarious. You will definitely get a few laugh out loud guffaws. They are all from different sources on the net and are only as dirty as your mind and bad grammar. From the REIN site.

Complaints from Renters

1. I want some repairs done to my oven as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

2. The neighbor’s 18 year old son is continuously banging his balls against my fence. Not
only is this making a heck of a noise, but the fence is now sagging in the middle.

3. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is running away from the wall.

4. I wish to report that tiles are missing from the roof of the outside toilet and I think it
was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

5. I request your permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

6. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared.

7. Would you please send a man to repair my spout, I am an old age pensioner and need it

8. I want to complain about the farmer across the road. Every morning at 5:30 his cock
wakes me up and it's getting too much. Its all right when my husband is on day-shift,
but when he's on back-shifts or nights I get it several times a week from Mr. Docherty
next door and at my age it's too much.

9. The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and

10. Our kitchen floor is very damp, we have two children and would like a third, so will you
please send someone to do something about it.

11. The toilet seat is cracked - where do I stand?

12. I am a single woman living in a downstairs apartment and would be pleased if you could
do something about the noise made by the man I have on top of me every night.

13. Please send a man with a clean tool to finish the job and satisfy the wife.

14. I wish to lodge a complaint against my neighbor in 211. When I get undressed at night I
can see him looking in my window with binoculars. Do I need to pull down my own

15. When I'm in the shower I turn on the water and I get hot. Could some nice repairman
fix my pipes so I don't always get hot?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

From Backburner to Stovefront

Lots of good quick reads in your mid month update. Take a few moments to reflect on how businesses are using this downturn to set up labour contracts and align future projects.

This is very similar to 2002 and around the Kyoto Accord time when the market was full of fear and FULL of deals. Although I think we're a ways off from a full recovery, you can clearly see the strength and backbone to Alberta's economy.

Managing your current investments and and adding new ones at this time, will have you smiling in 2012 onwards as the economy begins to shine again.

Canada's Tar Sands Are The Future Of Oil Production: Total

By Michel Viatteau (AFP) – 11.13.09, MONTREAL

"The era of oil gushing from ground wells is over and can only be replaced by costly and complex refining of deposits such as Canada's oil sands to satisfy rising global energy needs, said a senior oil executive. Pressed about the high cost of oil sands extraction and attacks by environmentalists worried about its contribution to global warming, Jean-Michel Gires, president of French-based Total's Canadian subsidiary, told AFP he is optimistic specifically about the future of Canada's oil sands development." GRAB THIS STORY

Keyera to Spend $58M in Edmonton Area

Edmonton Journal, 13th November 2009

EDMONTON - Imperial Oil’s $8 billion Kearl oilsands project has generated a long-term deal with Keyera Facilities Income Fund to provide diluent transportation, storage and loading services in the Edmonton area. READ MORE HERE

Suncor Budgets $5.5 Billion for 2010

International Business Times, November 13th 2009

Suncor Energy Inc, Canada's biggest oil company, said on Friday it is budgeting C$5.5 billion ($5.23 billion) for capital spending in 2010 and will restart construction on its Firebag Stage 3 oil sands project. Suncor, which dominates Canada's oil sands region following its C$22.7 billion acquisition of Petro-Canada in August, will use C$1.5 billion for growth project funding at its oil sands operations and C$4 billion in sustaining existing operations. FULL ARTICLE

As you can see from the articles selected in your mid-month update, the big plans for Edmonton and Alberta continue. Many will wait until they see the economy in full recovery while the smart money continues to pick up the deals now.

"I shall make the most of all that comes: And the least of all that goes." - Sara Teasdale

I appreciate all your calls and emails. I'm looking forward to helping you put together your next deal.

Thank you,

Todd and Danielle Millar-

To get our free bi-weekly newsletter with great information on the Alberta real estate market, Alberta economy and Canadian real estate investor tips Click Here

Friday, November 13, 2009

In-migration to Alberta to continue.

"Meanwhile, according to ATB Financial economist Dan Sumner, the average Albertan spent more per capita on retail items since 2004 than people from any other province, yet in 2008 the average Albertan saved 13.7 per cent of disposable income, compared to a national average of 3.8 per cent. The reason for this discrepancy is that Albertans have had greater disposable income than people in other provinces, with high incomes and lower taxes. That will attract young people from Central Canada."

You can expect population growth in Alberta to continue at a steady pace. The article goes on to state that real estate is not where people will be investing in the futue.

I know that with a statement like the one above and all people generally needing a place to live - real estate will be the way to go for me. I invest in other things sure but as far as being able to control my own investments I want tangible real estate.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alberta's Oilsands- the future of oil production

The days of oil rigs pumping furiously are coming to an end. Unconventional sources of oil require more manpower to get the oil out of the ground.

What does oil have to do with real estate?

Imagine if your investment property was near the next big oil reserve, workers from around the world were going there to live and work for the next few decades. Tenants were willing to pay top rents because the economy was booming and they were making oil dollars.

Alberta is that place, with vast oil sands that hold a proven 175 billion barrels of recoverable oil, second only to Saudi Arabia. The most impressive part is that Alberta has only just begun; experts say oil sands production can be sustained for at least 400 years.

"These are ambitious projects, very big projects, and thus very expensive," he said in a telephone interview from Calgary, Alberta -- Canada's oil capital.

"It's clear that cost is a problem," he conceded. "But it's also an important deposit -- several billion barrels of oil in the ground -- while more conventional sources of oil that would be relatively easier to extract are either drying up or are inaccessible to international firms such as Total."

"The price of energy is not going to collapse," despite downward pressure from a spiralling global economy, Gires predicts.

"To justify our massive investments in the oil sands, we're looking at what the world will look like in 2020, 2025 or 2030," he said.

"In the long run, despite all of the efforts to boost energy efficiency and develop alternative energy sources, the planet's appetite for energy ... will mean additional oil production will be welcomed and we'll find buyers for our output."

Think of the long-term, not an economy that in coming out of a recession but as the world starts to recover and the demand for oil increases - rents, property values will again increase. Maybe not like 2007 in Alberta but steady consistent growth that makes investors happy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tatsuya Ichihashi arrested.

This news made my day and probably the day of every single expat living in Japan.

The prime suspect in the murder of Lindsay Hawker, Tatsuya Ichihashi, has been caught at a ferry terminal in Osaka Japan.

It was an insult to her, her family and the shame of Japan that this guy escaped barefoot in a foot chase in 2007 . His ludicrous "getaway" was made in front of a slew of police officers who were investigating the apartment where her body was found. The fact that he lost his backpack with all his money and clothes while escaping but was able to remain in hiding for 2 years is unbelievable.

I am so happy for her family that perhaps finally closure can come to them.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Radio for the soul

I was reading Dr. Demartini's Count Your Blessings. It's a really good self-help book for being appreciative of what you have even the bad things.

Once you can do this you'll notice your health getting better. For example the man with crippling arthritis never being willing to "stand" or "bend" to his employer's will. Does mental health affect physical health? You bet.

Anyway I'm getting off-track. I wanted to share the free digital radio station listed on the back of the book. is free for anyone. It's inspirational talk radio featuring top Hay House authors (like Dr. Demartini).

Some programs where a little much for me - I still don't believe in crystals but I found other programs very uplifting.

So give it a try!

How to keep investment real estate profitable in any economy.

Wherever your real estate investment is located—provided you bought it at the right price and terms—there are many ways to keep your property profitable. If you analyze your real estate, update and improve your investment team, review your long- and short-term investment plans and stay focused on the end result; your real estate portfolio will be a rock solid fortress that can weather any storm.


The first and most important thing is to carefully analyze your portfolio.

  • What properties are doing well?
  • Are there properties that are slowly leaking dollars like a dripping tap?
  • If so how can you fix them?

If you don’t know the hard numbers on your properties, then you are risking everything that you have worked for. Keep your budgets in line and carefully evaluate every purchase and renovation. Once you have a better idea of where you stand, you can start to recession-proof your properties. First, your customers are your tenants, so learn how to keep them happy and decrease vacancies. For example:

  • Provide Internet or free cable
  • Give lease incentives or rewards for rents paid on time, or even the best garden.

Increase your revenue by adding rental units to your properties or other moneymaking add-ons like renting garages separately, extra parking spaces or coin-op laundry facilities. You can also refinance your mortgages with longer amortizations, increase rents where reasonable or rent your properties furnished.

Evolve and involve your team

  • Is your property management up to par?
  • Are you getting discount rates for a big portfolio?
  • If you have few properties are they being managed in a way that will help you grow your portfolio?
  • Are their rates competitive and are they keeping your property in excellent resale condition?

Streamline your team. I don’t mean fire everybody and do it all yourself, but rather make your team out of the best players available in your area. Once you have the all-star team, get their input and advice, use their knowledge and experience to protect and improve your assets and your position in the market. Accountants can help you lower your taxes, lawyers can protect your assets, bookkeepers keep you aware of money liquidity and property management can up the cash output of your investment property.

Be aware

Be aware of longer-term trends and statistics. Don’t get caught up in the moment—especially when making decisions. There are both positive and the negative things that are happening in headlines. Take both sides into account and be realistic as you evaluate what’s really going on. Review your business plan both short-term and the long-term and adjust it as necessary. Don’t knee-jerk react, but also don’t drift back and forth without any solid goal in site. Have multiple investment strategies all with a clear exit in place.

This is not the first economic downturn the world has seen nor will it be the last. What is important is to mind your business and your properties to make them profitable no matter what comes your way.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Predicting Fixed Mortgage Interest Rates -Garth Chapman

After scanning over my blog I realize we are on a lot of great mailing lists. Getting news from industry leaders is crucial to staying on top in any business. It's what separates savvy investors from "flying by the seat of my pants" investors.

One mailing list we are so grateful to be on is Garth Chapman's of Jencor Mortgages and Remasoft. Garth is a wonderful mentor to us and has helped us streamline our investments to both our and our joint venture partner's benefits. He knows real estate investing from all angles, as a successful investor, from developing a software system specifically for investors and as a mortgage broker.

An excerpt from his last mail-out:

"Here is a nice simple explanation of how fixed mortgage rates are tied to bond rates – and how to predict when they might be headed up or down.

Canadian 5 yr bond yields -.03bps to 2.73. The spread, based on the MERIX 5 yr rate published of 4.34% is 1.61. Just as a reminder, the floor and ceiling rates suggest the “comfort zone” (currently between 1.35% and 1.55%) where lenders want the spread to be.

If the “Rate Barometer” (which is the spread between the fixed 5 year rate and the 5 year bond yield) stays within the floor and ceiling range, then you likely won’t see a rate change. If the spread, dips below the floor for extended periods (over a week), then expect a rate hike.

And likewise, if the spread remains above the ceiling rate, expect a rate drop in the near future.

The yield, rate of return on your bond, can be read through a yield curve, which is the pattern of yields on bonds. This increase in bond yield is something to watch.

If the bond yield continues to go up, the spread will continue to shrink and this could be a trigger for interest rates to rise. Ideally lenders are looking for a spread between 1.35 and 1.55."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Time Management Ninja Mom

My son is getting bigger everyday. He's sprouted two teeth and loves to crawl all over the furniture. My worries have gone from, "Why is he crying all the time?" to "Why is he so quiet... What's he up to?"

As babies become toddlers they stop sleeping so much - 16 hours a day becomes 10 or less. What does that mean for a work at home mom? I've got to become a time management ninja. I'm not there yet. I can still be distracted by when I should be doing the books or I'll get stuck in the internet pit of time wasting when I should be doing paperwork.

How do successful business moms do it? How do you teach your child everything he needs to know before kindergarten and still put in the 9,10,11, 15 hours days that the home office requires? Luckily my husband is a fantastic cook so he covers the kitchen.

I found one great blog, I'm sure there are hundreds but I really like the ideas in this one.

For example:

2. There’s a sewing book that is titled “Five, Ten, Fifteen Minutes to Sew” and the premise is that you divide your sewing into tasks that will take that long to do. When you have five minutes, grab something from the five minute list and so on. This technique is brilliant for work at home mums. For those moments when you don’t have enough time to work on your high priority tasks, know what you need to do that will take only a few minutes. Or can be picked up for a few minutes and then put back down. Filing, writing lists, planning posts, can all be done in short spurts of time.

It's pure genius! I've already started to do this and my twitching eye has calmed down considerably.

Check out more of this award winning Australian Blog

Monday, November 02, 2009

Will a Rising Canadian Dollar Help Homeowners?

I'm on Peter Kinch's mailing list because you never know when you'll need a top quality mortgage broker and you can never get enough insight into mortgage interest rates.

Here is a recent mailout:

In case you missed it the following is a copy of the interview between Peter Kinch and Russell Byth that aired Sunday, November 1st on News 1130

There's been a lot of talk recently about Canada's economic recovery and a key component of that recovery has been record low interest rates. So, does an economic recovery spell the end of low rates for homeowners?

On the line with me is best selling author, Peter Kinch with Dominion Lending Centres. Pete, what are your thoughts?

Well Russ, there's no question that the Bank of Canada used 'Emergency Rates' to kick start the economy and once again we've seen that the housing market was at the heart of that recovery.

So once the Central Bank feels the recovery is in full swing, will they start to raise rates?

Technically yes - in fact, the Central Bank's main mandate is to keep inflation at about the 2% level. If inflation is below 2% they keep rates low to stimulate the economy and if it's above 2% they raise rates to cool it off.

But in spite of signs that we are in a full recovery, inflation is still below 2%.

That's right and mainly thanks to the strength of the Canadian dollar. In fact, the Bank of Canada is quite concerned that if the Loonie continues to gain on the US Greenback it could dampen Canada's recovery, which will serve to keep inflation below the 2% mark, thus resulting in the Central Bank continuing to keep the Prime rate low for now.

But in the meantime Russ, remember that the long term rates are governed by the bond markets and they are starting to factor in a recovery - so we will likely see a slight rise in the long term rates over that same period.

Thanks Pete, something to keep an eye on. In the business centre, I'm Russell Byth.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Easter in December

Last week, actually about 10 days ago I went shopping. I was looking for a gift for my friend's daughter's birthday. I walked into this very stylish downtown mall and was greeted by... Christmas music!

Throughout the shops you could hear the jing-jing-jingling of the coming festive season. For a second, I was lost in thought thinking"Wow where did November go?"
only to be brought back to reality when I spotted all the Halloween decorations.

That's right, Xmas music - Halloween decorations.

It pays to be prepared. I read an article today about the increasing rate of business bankruptcies in the USA. Many commercial leases were being broken as the companies went under and were unable to fulfill their contracts. But at the same time there are temporary businesses looking for quick profits during the holiday booms. One such costume rental company in Edmonton is open for 2 weeks before Halloween and for a few days after.

Savvy commercial landlords offered short term leases to opportunistic business folk who only intend on riding the seasonal wave. What a sweet marriage for the two businesses. Many seasonal companies have trouble finding space to lease for the short term and these landlords were able to solve their problems and at the same time recoup some loses.

Here are the two lessons that I gleaned from my trip to the mall.

#1 It pays to prepare. Work your plan solidly. If that means buying an investment property, get out there and start your research now. The added knowledge will give you power when you are ready to buy.

#2 Look for solutions in would-be problems. The commercial property owners weren't happy about losing leases to bankrupt clients - but they looked at the challenge and rose to the occasion by meeting new client's needs.

In a world that is always two holidays ahead, make sure your business solutions aren't Easter in December.

"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in." Napoleon Bonaparte I appreciate all your calls and emails. I'm looking forward to helping you put together your next deal.

Thank You,
Todd and Danielle Millar

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