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5 Things You Need to Know About Buying Your First Home


With interest rates at a historical low now may be the perfect time to buy your first home.  However buying a home is a big investment and a big expense.  It’s most likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your life.

If you’re in the market to buy a new home keep these nine things in mind to ensure you get a good deal on your mortgage as well as pay a fair price for your home.

Always get a pre-approval from your bank

As a financial planner this is always where I advise clients to start the home buying process. Visit your local bank branch, talk to a mortgage specialist and ask for a pre-approval.  This will give you an idea of the mortgage loan amount that the bank will approve and it gives you a starting point to begin the shopping process.

A real estate agent can work wonders

When buying your first home a good place to find local listings is via MLS.com.  You’ll be able to get an idea of the homes available in your preferred neighbourhood within the price range of the mortgage pre-approval from your bank.  However working with a real estate agent can greatly speed up the process.  Very often they get the inside scoop about new properties coming onto the market.

Only counter offer if you’re sure

Sometimes your first offer is not accepted by the seller, don’t worry this is normal.  It doesn’t mean you can’t buy the house, all it means is the transaction is now open for negotiation.  Talk to your real estate agent and decide if you want to make a counter offer.  Don’t overbid for a home just because you want it, trust me there are other homes out there.

Always negotiate the interest rate and fees

A lot of people walk in to their bank, apply for a mortgage and accept the conditions as is.  This is a huge mistake – trust me I know.  Everything is negotiable when it comes to mortgages from the interest rate to the inspection and notary fees.  You’ll never know unless you ask.

Shop around for home insurance

Owning a home comes with responsibility and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  I’m sure you don’t want to move in to your new home and have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional expenses when an unfortunate event happens such as a theft, fire or flood.

When it comes to buying your first home keep these tips in mind to help make the process as simple as possible.  Don’t forget to always ask questions, because the more information you have the better the decision making process will be.

Tahnya Kristina, CFP


Photo from Pixabay

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Generate New Sales: Mark Borkowski

Its your call: How to generate new sales prospects.

Humor me for a second. Think back to the last deal you closed and ask you, “Who was the decision maker I had to reach and influence? How did I do it?”

The reason I asked you to think about that is because there will always be someone you will need to contact and influence to get the next deal and the one after that and all the deals you could ever possibly close in one lifetime. Your success doesn’t just happen. You make it happen, and it all begins with prospecting.

Prospecting is nothing more than the art of speaking with people who might do business with you, and engaging them in a meaningful conversation so that they will want to see you and talk further. Let’s not make it any more complicated than that. At the end of the day a telephone sales call is only a conversation between two people.

Make a list of everyone you just identified. It doesn’t matter if you need to speak with fifty people or only one; your focus is on precision not volume.

Once you have the names write down the main issues facing each person on that list. The reason I’m suggesting that is because you will have to address their issues, not yours.

If you start your conversation rambling on about your products and services you will sound like you’re selling something. When you talk about their issues you hit their Greed Glands which address what’s in it for them. Retirees are not waking up in the morning wanting financial products. (It would be nice.) They are, on the other hand, concerned about the rising cost of living.

Once you’ve worked out what you want to say you will have to get the person on the phone. The objective of your call list is not about making calls. Many financial advisors base their lists on volume, in other words the more names on the list the better because if they don’t contact someone there are plenty more to call. What happens with this approach is that most people end up leaving a lot of money on the table, missing up to 75% of their opportunities, simply by not contacting people. A call is not a commodity. It’s precious.
It would be nice if we were mind readers and knew where our biggest opportunity was, but we don’t so we have to speak with everyone. Your objective is to book appointments.

So whether you have twenty people to call or only one, get them on the phone. All of them. Without exemption.
Leaving a voice message doesn’t count. That only fools you into thinking you contacted someone when in fact all you did was leave a voice message. The easiest way is to ensure that you connect with your prospects is to simply find out when they are in, and then call at that time.

By planning your calls and your message you stay in control.
Once you get your prospect on the phone you will have the opportunity to speak for all of about thirty seconds at which time you will either ask for an appointment or ask a qualifying question. From the time you introduce yourself to the time you ask for an appointment there are less actually than thirty words. Make each word count. The words you speak paint images in people’s minds and you have complete control over what those words are.

Twice as important as what you say will be how you say it. Speak slowly and send the message that what you have to say is important. It’s so important that you will take a minute before the call to focus on how you can make the prospect’s life better, and that will bring out the passion in your voice.

At the end of each call you will either be sitting there with an appointment or you won’t. Either way self-assess to either see what you did well so that you can do it again on the next call, or look at where you need to improve.

If a call does not work out for whatever reason figures out if it was they or you. If there was something you could have done better, make sure to take correction action for the next call and then reward yourself for learning from your mistakes. When you consistently self-assess you stop repeating the same mistakes, and when that happens your performance benchmarks rise as like gravity.
By making yourself more effective you ensure that your next deal will be more successful than your last.

Mark Borkowski – is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile is a mid market M&A brokerage firm based in Toronto. Contact: www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com

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Confessions of a CFP: You may need an online bank


You may need an online bank this RRSP season.  I probably shouldn’t be telling you this because I’m a financial planner and in order to keep my job I need people to invest their money with me, but it’s true.  Before you completely dismiss the idea of banking online due to your fear of the internet, cyber space and anything online just take a few minutes and read all about the benefits of having an online bank.

Online banks go against everything I believe in when it comes to my professional life, but as an everyday consumer – who needs to invest in her RSP before the deadline – I have to tell you I’m a big fan.

The RSP deadline is March 2 – where will you be?

Hopefully you won’t be in line at your bank.  As the RSP deadline quickly approaches Canadians all across the country are calling their financial planners and visiting their banks to find the best possible rate for their RRSP contributions.

What if you didn’t have to go through the trouble of spending your lunch hour waiting in line at your bank and what if you didn’t have to sneak out of work early to make it to your bank before they close?

With online banks you can literally bank anywhere, anytime.  Even though the market closes at 4 p.m. and some banks close at 8 p.m. online banks are at your service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  That’s the first major advantage of using an online bank for your RRSP contribution – it’s convenient.

You don’t have time to make an appointment

Tangerine is a financial institution whose mission is to help clients live better lives, they aim to provide Canadians with the ability to bank where they want, how they want, and when they want.  Joe Snyder, Product Analyst, Tangerine Investments says “For the typical Canadian, the reality is that most of their banking needs can be done online, and better yet, on a mobile app.  (But) there are some clients whose needs probably require that face-to-face interaction due to a certain amount of complexity.”

With an online bank you can access your accounts and perform transactions from absolutely anywhere at any time.  This is especially convenient for people who work shifts or irregular hours.  With an online bank there’s no need to rearrange your schedule, all you have to do is tap on your mobile phone or click on your computer.  “I think the idea of having to physically fill out paperwork and visit a bank branch is one that will soon be outdated.  That being said, many Canadians also have decades-old relationships with their bank and feel a certain degree of loyalty to their primary financial institution.” says Snyder.

You want the best possible interest rate

Superior interest rates is the main reason why I recommend online banks to my clients (don’t tell my employer) and it’s the second major advantage of having an online bank.  When clients make an appointment with me they don’t always want my expert investment advice – sometimes they just want a good interest rate.

Andrew Schrage is an online entrepreneur and owner of the popular personal finance website Money Crashers.com.  According to Schrage online banking does have several advantages. “(You) can save time over having to make trips to a traditional bank, there’s easier access to your accounts, and you might be able to find better interest rates as well.”

Are you convinced?

Two major reasons why all Canadians don’t have accounts with an online bank are lack of personal service and fear of cyber space, but Tangerine is overcoming those fears one client at a time.  “I think the reality is that Canadians have indeed embraced online banking, as online functionality and mobile platforms continue to improve.”  Today Tangerine proudly serves almost 2 million clients across Canada with over 500,000 downloads of Tangerine’s mobile banking app.

When making your RRSP contribution this year keep in mind It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Just because you love your financial planner doesn’t mean you can’t also have an online bank and just because you made your RRSP contribution online to get the best interest rate doesn’t mean you still can’t have other accounts with another bank – or several other banks for that matter.


Tahnya Kristina, CFP


Photo from Flickr

Financial advertising, marketing and sales without the 56% google inefficiency.

Google admits that advertisers wasted their money on more than half of internet ads

By  http://qz.com/author/zwenerflignerqz/

Online advertising is a fickle thing. It accounts for 20% of the ad industry’s total spending, and over 90% of revenue for the internet giants Google and Facebook. That said, no one seems to have any idea whether it actually works.

That uncertainty reached a new high this week, as Google announced that 56.1% of ads served on the internet are never even “in view”—defined as being on screen for one second or more. That’s a huge number of “impressions” that cost money for advertisers, but are as pointless as a television playing to an empty room.

This is not a big revelation. The web metrics company ComScore reported last year that 46% of online ads are never seen. Spider.io, an ad fraud company acquired by Google in February, has pointed out that a large portion of ads are “viewed” only by robots, revealing that one botnet of 120,000 virus-infected computers viewed ads billions of times, running up the tab for advertisers without offering them the human eyeballs they sought.

Still, the acknowledgement by a heavyweight such as Google that ad viewability is a problem could shake up the industry by delaying possible IPOs of ad companies and requiring new ways for advertisers to gauge the effectiveness of their ads.

The nineteenth-century retailer John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.” In this case, it’s the obviously the half that pays for ads which are never seen, and now advertisers are looking for new tools to figure out which those are.

It’s worth noting that Google made this acknowledgement of the deficiency of the model it has profited richly from while also offering a new model to advertisers: In July it introduced its Active View product, which measures only viewed ads.