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Understanding market volatility: it's a part of investing!

You may have heard the terms “bull market” and “bear market” batted around. What do these terms really mean, and do they affect your investments?

 

A bull market is a period of time when stock prices are on the rise. These are the times when the markets give a 20 per cent return for a number of years in a row. A bear market is when stock prices fall for a sustained period of time. The fear and uncertainty of a bear market is what makes most people nervous about investing in market-based products. Bear and bull markets, along with in-between periods of less dramatic ups and downs, are a normal part of investing.

The markets have seen some pretty dramatic fluctuations over the past few decades. Market volatility is not an unusual experience. In fact, severe short-term volatility happens regularly - about every two years or so.

While there is no way to completely protect your money from this volatility, you can put a plan in place to moderate the impact. Think back to when you put your savings plan into place. Your advisor helped you to create your plan based on your long-term goals and expectations. You considered your hopes for the future, your comfort with investing and even market volatility.

 

No one can predict what the markets will do tomorrow, but remember to keep a few points in mind.

Asset allocation

Your advisor may have walked you through the asset allocation process to build your plan. This process includes selecting a mix of investments to diversify your portfolio and help minimize risk and maximize return. It's designed to help cope with market volatility.

 

Dollar cost averaging

Investing a set amount of money on a regular basis, such as through a monthly savings plan, can offer you more buying power. When the markets are down, your regular contributions purchase more units when prices are low. When prices rise, you'll purchase fewer units at the higher price. The result—the average cost per unit could end up being lower.

Before you make any decisions about your investments, talk to your Sun Life Financial advisor.

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Using Your RRSPs To Buy A Home - The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP)

The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw funds from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability. You can withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year.

Your RRSP contributions must remain in the RRSP for at least 90 days before you can withdraw them under the HBP, or they may not be deductible for any year.

Generally, you have to repay all withdrawals to your RRSPs within a period of no more than 15 years. You will have to repay an amount to your RRSPs each year until your HBP balance is zero. If you do not repay the amount due for a year, it will have to be included in your income for that year.

 

Before applying to withdraw funds under the HBP you must meet the following conditions (as quoted on CRA site):


•You have to enter into a written agreement to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself, for a related person with a disability, or to help a related person with a disability buy or build a qualifying home. Obtaining a pre-approved mortgage does not satisfy this condition.
•You have to intend to occupy the qualifying home as your principal place of residence no later than one year after buying or building it. If you buy or build a qualifying home for a related person with a disability, or help a related person with a disability buy or build a qualifying home, you must intend that that person occupy the qualifying home as his or her principal place of residence.
•You have to be considered a first-time home buyer.
•In all cases, your repayable HBP balance on January 1 of the year of the withdrawal has to be zero.

 

Repaying your withdrawals:


Over a repayment period of no more than 15 years, you have to repay to your RRSPs the amounts you withdrew under the HBP. Generally, for each year of your repayment period, you have to repay 1/15 of the total amount you withdrew, until the full amount is repaid to your RRSPs or PRPPs. Your repayment period starts the second year following the year you made your withdrawals.

To make a repayment under the HBP, you have to make contributions to your RRSPs or PRPPs in the year the repayment is due or in the first 60 days of the following year. Once your contribution is made, you can designate all or part of the contribution as a repayment under the HBP.

 

Example:


In 2011, Robert withdrew $6,000 from his RRSPs to participate in the HBP. Robert's repayment for 2013 is $400 ($6,000 ÷ 15).

In 2013, Robert contributes $8,200 to his RRSPs. Robert could deduct the full amount as an RRSP contribution on line 208 of his 2013 income tax and benefit return because his notice of assessment for 2012, shows that he has an RRSP deduction limit of $11,000 for 2013. However, he knows an HBP repayment is required.

Therefore, Robert files Schedule 7 with his 2013 income tax and benefit return and records his $8,200 RRSP contribution on line 245. He designates $400 of this amount as an HBP repayment on line 246 of Schedule 7. Robert deducts the remaining $7,800 as an RRSP contribution on line 208 of his 2013 income tax and benefit return.

 

The HBP can be an effective way to own your own home. Please ensure to speak to a financial advisor for assistance and consult a licensed account when filing your repayments.

 

 

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Heating With Wood

With the kind of winter we’ve been having this year; more and more people are looking into having a woodstove or pellet stove installed. Here are a few things to consider:


If you are purchasing a house with a fireplace or woodstove, you can expect to have your insurance company request a WETT inspection to ensure that the appliance was installed within the manufacturer’s specifications and that the chimney is in good repair. The cost of a WETT inspection will fall on the homebuyer and will cost anywhere from $150 - $300 depending on the unit.


Insurance is concerned about good wood heat safety, and making your system safer ensures you the best possible premium for your insurance. Call your insurance representative to review your coverage and inform him or her when you make any changes. This includes adding or changing a wood stove, modifying a chimney – anything that may influence the safety of your system. Your insurance representative will want to know if your unit is certified by Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada (ULC) or the Canadian Standard Association (CSA). Many insurance companies will refuse to insure your home if the stove is not certified.


Insurance companies will want to make sure that you keep your wood burning system in top shape by having a qualified, preferably WETT certified professional clean and inspect your system each year. Not only will it keep your insurance company satisfied, it will ensure the safety of your system and your family.


Mark Carruthers is a Registered Insurance Broker with Pioneer Insurance Brokers in Kitchener, Ontario. mcarruthers@pioneerinsure.com

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Home Searching for Pets Too!

The loss of our little Grand Puppy Brutus this past weekend led me to change this weeks topic.
We always hear about the important factors which lead to the final decision of buying a certain home Location, Price, Condition.True enough these are quite often the major considerations, but not always. Here are some more that I have run into over the years:

-We need a sunny spot for Fluffy

-The deck’s too high Lilly can’t handle the steps

-The yard must be fenced for Butch to play safely in

-There are too many windows facing the street, Lassie will look out and bark all day

-We need a long hallway to throw toys down for Peppy to chase

-There are too many stairs for Delores our Pig

-We can’t have hardwood as Snoopy has long nails

-We can’t have dark carpet as Princess has white fur

-The kitchen is to close to the bedroom and Charlie my Parakeet will wake me too early

-The fence is not tall enough Jiggs will jump over it

-The back yard is too close to the river,  Maggie will fall in while chasing the squirrels

It just goes to show that location, price and condition aren’t everything and we as Realtors, with a heart have many more features to look for and consider.
May our little Brutus find just the right spot to sleep and play in his new home.  We will miss him

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Your smoke alarm may fail 55% of the time

Ionization versus Photoelectric smoke alarms


In 1977 around 22% of homes had at least one smoke alarm. By 2009 around 96% of homes have at least one alarm. However statistics have shown that although the total number of fires has been reduced, the actual fire death rate risk, i.e the number of deaths per 1000 fires, has not changed much during this time period.

 

The two main types of residential fires are:

 

1. Fast flame such as cooking fires

 

2. Smouldering fires where injuries are mostly from smoke inhalation.

 

Currently there are two types of smoke detectors available in the market place, Ionization and Photoelectric and there are very real differences in how different smoke alarms types perform in real world fatal fires.

 

Ionization type detectors are by far the most common and are probably present in about 95% of homes. They use a small amount of radioactive material to charge air. Particles in the air disrupt current flow and set off the alarm. They detect small particles best, less than 0.3 micron. Unfortunately significant research has shown that this type of detector responds too slowly to the smouldering fires responsible for most residential deaths. Since they are also notorious for nuisance tripping from cooking, shower steam etc. they are also more likely to be disabled. Statistics show that Ionization alarms can fail to adequately warn occupants about 55% of the time. This is because although they are good at detecting small, fast moving particles, they are poor at detecting large slow moving particles and relatively insensitive to colour and density changes.

 

Photoelectric alarms use an LED light source and sensor. Smoke particles in air scatter light into the sensor and set off the alarm. They detect large particles best; 0.5 micron and up.With photoelectric alarms the occupants will receive significant warning about 96% of the time.

 

Recommended safety upgrade – I recommend that ionization alarms regardless of age be relaced with photoelectric smoke alarms. Photoelectric alarms have been shown to be far more reliable in most real world fire scenarios. A mixture of both types in your home may be advisable but combination units are not recommended.

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Home Inspectors - Buyers Beware

I am a firm believer in Home Inspections, the Buyers Right to have a Home inspection and the value of a Good Knowledgeable Home Inspector. It is the Buyers right to choose their own Home Inspector.

 

However most home buyers do not know that currently in Ontario, anyone can call themselves a home inspector. This could pose a problem for Buyers who might base their decision to buy or sell a home on information they receive from an unregulated, unlicensed home inspector.

 

Home inspectors play an important role in the home buying and selling process. Professionals with this much influence should be licensed and have proper training to ensure consumers receive a consistent and standardized service.

The Ontario Real Estate Association is working with the Ministry of Consumer Services to improve consumer protection in the real estate marketplace by encouraging efforts to regulate the home inspection industry. In August 2013, a volunteer panel of experts reviewed home inspector qualifications in Ontario. The panel, comprised of members from home inspection associations, consumer advocates and real estate industry representatives, developed a report with 35 recommendations for the home inspection industry.

 

One of the main recommendations was to establish parameters for licensing the industry. Regulating the industry will help ensure homebuyers and sellers receive reliable, informative and professional advice when making one of the largest decisions of their lives.

 

It will take time for the Ministry to review the recommendations of the panel and decide if and how to bring forward legislation to establish qualifications for Home inspectors.

 

In the meantime, please ask your Trusted Realtor to suggest a few Home Inspectors that they have worked with in the past, and have been satisfied with their level of service and knowledge as well as their ability to communicate well any issues that may arise during the inspection of the home to the Buyers.

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Going away for the Holidays?

Going away for the Holidays?

 

Here are a few things that you should keep in mind if you’re planning on being away for the Holidays.


1. Arrange for a relative or neighbour to come into your house every 24hrs in the winter

 

2. Have the person checking your house run the water and flush the toilets

 

3. If you plan on being away for more than a week in the winter, it is recommended that turn off your main water supply. This doesn’t take the place of someone checking on the house, and don’t forget to let them know that you have shut the water off so that they don’t suspect a pipe-freeze

 

4. Ask a neighbour to put some garbage out in front of your house on garbage day

 

5. Have someone bring in flyers, newspaper and mail, or have your mail held for the time you’ll be away

 

6. Set timers to activate lamps in several rooms, especially those that can be seen from the front and back of the house

 

7. Arrange for someone to shovel your sidewalk and driveway if it snows

 

8. Offer your driveway to neighbours to park visiting cars


Remember anything you can do to make your house look occupied will be a deterrent to criminals and offer you peace of mind while you are away.

 

Mark Carruthers is a Registered Insurance Broker with Pioneer Insurance Brokers in Kitchener, Ontario.
mcarruthers@pioneerinsure.com

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Contributors

Jennifer Roth
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