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To use or not to use a General Contractor - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article we discussed the pros and cons of hiring a general contractor. For those who would rather be their own project manager this article discusses the pros and cons of going that route: Pros Greater control over the job site and the work that is done. Essentially you are the boss. You can directly manage the workflow to suit your own needs. You can either accelerate or slow down the process. Cost savings from not using general contractor. This can range from 15 to 25 percent. You can be as detailed as you want to be in terms of designs and specifications. Costs of labour and materials will be transparent as the process is open. General contractors will often not pro

To use or not to use a General Contractor- Part 1

If you are doing a property re-model you’ll need to decide whether you want to use a general contractor to manage your project or to take on the role of project manager yourself. In order to assist in your decision below are some pros and cons of using a Good General Contractor. Pros The contractor will have the experience and skill set to pre-empt issues and reduce rework. They can efficiently handle the day to day logistics of the job site, and ensure tasks are done on a timely basis. They will have a solid network of sub-trades who are vetted. The challenge of finding good sub-trades should not be underestimated. They’ll have sufficient insurance to cover the project. They can help keep

Are you addicted to Self-Help?

Have you been actively looking to improve in certain areas of your life, but making no progress? If you’re in this position you’re definitely not alone as there are millions of people who indulge in self-help, but at what point exactly would you consider yourself a self-help addict? The common pattern of self-help addicts is to read self-help concepts, attend seminars, and analyze concepts but it ends there with no action taken. In some cases they might get a temporary motivational boost while consuming self-help material and behavior changes for a short period while the excitement is high. When the excitement begins to diminish, they revert to their old behavior, and they are back lookin

Understanding and Managing Procrastination

When you delay a task to focus on something that is easier or more entertaining this can provide a sense of temporary relief. But, the task that you have to complete is still in the back of your mind and it will remain in the back of your mind and cause stress. The amount of stress that this can cause can be severe for the person that beats themselves up (i.e. lacks self-compassion). In a 2005 study a relationship was made between procrastination and both hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Below are 3 ways of managing procrastination: 1. Start your day by doing the Most Unpleasant Tasks First. If you tackle unpleasant tasks first, everything else in the day will seem relatively eas

8 Tenant Pre-screening Questions

The majority of tenant problems can actually be eliminated during the screening process. The very first step is pre-screening which is when you get an initial phone or email inquiry to rent your property. Below are some important questions you should ask before showings. You can save yourself valuable time and energy by pre-screening before you show a property. Below are 8 valuable questions you should ask before setting up a viewing: 1. What is your Reason for Moving? Though people will often filter their responses this question can still provide insight into issues that the tenant may have had with their previous landlord. Make notes as to the reason and if you call their current lan

7 Low Cost Upgrades for Maximizing Rental Income

In order to keep up the value of your property and keep your tenants satisfied investment in your rental property will be required time to time. Below are 7 hot tips that will help maximize property value and rents. Update hardware like handles, door knobs, and kitchen cabinet knobs. These are relatively cheap improvements that are visually appealing. Combine this with painting your old kitchen cabinets and a counter-top upgrade and that old kitchen could be completely revitalized. Steam Clean Carpet, Tile, and Grout Lines. There are professional services that can do this for you or you can rent the machine at your local hardware store. Lighting upgrades such as nice track lighting, dimm

Credit Fundamentals for Investors

While having good credit is not necessary to invest in Real Estate it certainly makes it a lot easier. Your credit report is maintained by credit reporting agencies of which there are two in Canada, Transunion and Equifax. What everyone should know is that they have the right to look at their credit report for free, but if they are looking for their credit score a small fee will apply. The four sections to your credit report are: Personal identification and potentially employment information. Record of companies that have recently asked for your credit report. Payment history for accounts that reported your credit balance. Information on collections, judgments, or bankruptcies. As far as u

Top 3 Property Management Tips

For many people looking to get into Real Estate property management is one of the biggest deterrents. It is amongst the top reasons many people never start and so many people quit. Below are 3 property management tips for landlords: 1. Screen Tenants Carefully and have a standardized application process to evaluate tenants. There are numerous templates available online. These are okay to use but ensure both your application and lease documents are compliant within the jurisdiction that you operate. Hence, you may have to make some alterations to these forms. Furthermore, by having a standardized process you avoid the risk of potentially asking screening questions that could land you i

Humble Leadership

Humility is often seen as a weakness in business, but the reality is humility and weakness have nothing to do with each other. In fact, humility actually requires a significant amount of inner strength in order to welcome and accept criticism, as well as to see ones limitations. Humility provides reflectiveness and reflectiveness provides clarity; and clarity helps to avoid excessive self-focus. The arrogant person believes they know all that is needed to know. By having humility of being a “student” not always a “master” this helps a person to learn and grow, and become a more competent leader. Below are four ways to evaluate a leader’s humility: Is the leader able to handle criticism

How to Survive the Real Estate Game

To survive in the Real Estate game long term can be a daunting challenge. It requires the attributes of patience, persistence, and discipline, which is at odds with the instant gratification culture of today. There are many people who have tried investing in Real Estate and failed. Below are 3 common pitfalls that new Real Estate Investors make: 1. Prioritizing Location over Cash Flow The term location, location, location is said often in the Real Estate Business. While location is a very important consideration, do not prioritize it over cash flow. None of us have a crystal ball to look into the future and if the market goes south you want to be able to weather the storm, and not pay

Getting Burned by your Heat Bill?

Is your heating bill becoming increasingly expensive? Generally there are two areas to look at. Firstly, look at the efficiency of your HVAC system including furnace, duct work, insulation, and thermostat. Secondly, look at heat loss factors coming from sources outside of HVAC system such windows & doors. Heat loss will prompt you to turn up their furnace to stay warm or result in the furnace having to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Below are a few suggestions to cut your heating bill. HVAC Systems Annual maintenance of your Furnace is required to maintain some warranties, and this will usually cost at least $100. A well-tuned furnace will not only reduce heating bil

What you need to know about Registered Retirement Income Funds

All Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) are required to be converted into Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) by December 31st of the year in which you turn 71. Some financial institutions will do the conversion automatically, as RRIF accounts can hold the same investments as an RRSP account. However, you do have the option to convert to an RRIF any time before then. The difference between an RRSP and RRIF is that an RRSP allows you to make contributions as long as you have the contribution room and withdrawals are optional. Meanwhile, with an RRIF contributions are not allowed and there are minimum mandatory withdrawals each year. The minimum withdrawal amount is equal to

5 Factors to Consider before Investing in RRSPs over TFSAs

The decision on whether to invest in RRSPs or TFSAs can be a tricky proposition. Most people don’t have enough money to maximize both contributions. RRSPs allow you to deduct your contribution from your income, which earns a tax refund. The entire amount including interest income is taxable when you take the amount out. Meanwhile the TFSA is the reverse. There are no tax deductions when you make a contribution, but you don’t pay any taxes on interest income when you take the money out either. Below are 5 factors to consider before investing in RRSPs over TFSAs: Tax Brackets: What will your tax bracket be at the time of retirement? Will it be higher than your current tax bracket? If s

Understanding CMHC Insurance for Multi-Residential Properties

The down payment requirement on multi-residential properties (5 units or more) is typically 25-30% of the appraised value. One method to reduce the down payment requirement is by getting a CMHC insurance. Under a CMHC mortgage you can pay as little as 15% down on a multi-unit investment property, and the insurance premium at a loan to value (LTV) of 85% is 4.5% of the loan amount. CMHC insurance premiums decrease if the LTV is less than 85% So for example, if you got a mortgage of $500,000 based on an LTV of 85% then your loan amount including insurance would be $522,500 [$500,000 x (1+4.5%)]. Therefore, in theory your actual loan to value including the premium could be more than the 85%

5 Ways to Improve Relationships in Life and Business

The need to belong and feel connected to others is one of the deepest human needs. In healthy relationships both parties feel appreciated and this results in better communication, team work, and overall business results. Below are 5 keys to building better relationships in life and business: Be positive. Have you ever had a friend that is always complaining about their problems and is consistently negative? While it’s important to be genuine and honest be aware a negative attitude is contagious and will push people away from you. Be candid and truthful. This is incredibly important for good long-term relationships. Even small lies can erode a relationship over time and damage your cred

Self-Talk like a Champion

Your self-dialogue can have a direct impact on your perception of the world. When you have a “set-back” in your life do you see the “set-back” as a problem, or as an opportunity for improvement? Do you take “bad news” as “bad news”, or do you take the “bad news” as a “challenge” to overcome? The difference between successful people versus unsuccessful people is often the words they select to describe such situations. The key is to select positive words that inspire you rather than pull you down. For example, if you can’t find a suitable investment property positive self-talk could include questions or statements such as: Let’s stay patient and we’ll find the right property. Are there inv

Is an Expense Ratio of 1% really 1%? What you need to know about Mutual Fund Fees.

The Management Expense Ratio (MER) on Mutual Funds is often misunderstood and its financial impact underestimated. It includes management fees, advertising/sales expenses, reinvestment fees, exchange fees, custodial fees, and administrative fees. Financial advisors will often quote fees of “only” 2 % or “only” 3 %, but what does this really mean? If you invest $100 then a fee of 2.5 % means the fund keeps $2.50. Now say that the fund performs at 6.5% and the interest generated is $6.50. In this case the management fee is actually 38.5% of the returns (i.e. $2.50/$6.50). Therefore, management fees of 1 % are actually closer to 15 % of your returns (i.e. (38.5% / 2.5%) x 100 = 15.4%). Th

Developing a Personal Mission Statement

Developing a personal mission statement is a way to focus yourself on the character you want to be, and what you want to achieve. It also helps to define the core values, which are parameters to work within while achieving these goals. Your mission statement should be constant such as a constitution of a country, which is the core principles that a nation uses as the basis for its domestic and foreign policies. Your personal mission statement will be the standard by which all things are to be evaluated and this can be helpful in the face of making both minor and major life altering decisions. For example, If your mission statement prioritizes home life first, this would be the basis on wh

Foreclosure Investing – Not as Profitable as You May Think

A foreclosure is when a bank or lender gains ownership or control of the right to sell a property in order to pay off the mortgage as well as legal fees, commission, property taxes etc. There are no warranties with a foreclosure sale and properties are sold in “as-is” condition. In Canada financial institutions also need to protect the owner’s equity and attempt to get fair market value under the Canadian Securities Act. So buying at a huge discount typically doesn’t happen like it does in the United States. Below are the steps in the foreclosure process: Bank is in communication with owner when mortgage payment is missed. If after 30 days bank does not receive the mortgage payment, lawyer

Is Buying a Home a Good Investment? Here is the Mathematical Proof.

This is not to bash home ownership. Relative to renting it’s often a better long term option and there is also an emotional component to home ownership. That said personal use property is not an investment and you should not stretch yourself financially to buy a bigger home. A home should be treated as an expense and the reason is due to carrying costs such as mortgage interest, maintenance costs, taxes, and insurance. In the long-run carrying costs are likely to meet or exceed the property appreciation (after inflation). Furthermore, unless you’re selling privately, closing costs will be at least 5 percent of the selling price if not slightly higher due to legal fees and miscellaneous cost

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