Congratulations to the 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award Winners!

So here’s a little about me: growing up, it was just me and my mom. My mom had many struggles to contend with on a daily basis as a single parent but on top of that was breast cancer in her early thirties, a good ‘ol dose of family drama, and the not so great coping mechanism of alcohol. So yeah, you could consider me a latchkey kid.

Home was less than stable and didn’t always feel safe. For me, a “carefree” childhood was an enigma similar to a unicorn. This made everything that much more challenging; staying focused at school, having a social life, creating a sense of self.

I ended up excelling at school and doing all right in the friends department but it would take a long time before I had a semblance of a sense of self. Heck, I’m still working on it!

That’s why I am in love with SOS Children’s Villages and a proud supporter of SOS Children’s Village BC. They work with children who are orphaned, abandoned or neglected. They give these children the opportunity to build lasting relationships within a family. Their family approach is based on four principles: Each child needs a mother, and grows up most naturally with brothers and sisters, in his or her own house, within a supportive village environment.

Their Vision is beautiful:

EVERY CHILD BELONGS TO A FAMILY
Family is the heart of society. Within a family each child is protected and enjoys a sense of belonging. Here, children learn values, share responsibilities and form life-long relationships. A family environment gives them a solid foundation on which to build their lives.
EVERY CHILD GROWS WITH LOVE
Through love and acceptance, emotional wounds are healed and confidence is built. Children learn to trust and believe in themselves and others. With this self-assurance each child can recognise and fulfil his or her potential.
EVERY CHILD GROWS WITH RESPECT
Each child’s voice is heard and taken seriously. Children participate in making decisions that affect their lives and are guided to take a leading role in their own development. The child grows with respect and dignity as a cherished member of his or her family and society.
EVERY CHILD GROWS WITH SECURITY
Children are protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation and are kept safe during natural disaster and war. Children have shelter, food, health care and education. These are the basic requirements for the sound development of all children.

~From SOS Children’s Villages International website.

This organization, both internationally and locally, does great work and improves the lives of so many children. Recently, the 2014 Hermann Gmeiner Award was handed out to two individuals who were cared for in their program as children, and who have distinguished themselves in terms of their social, cultural, athletic or career accomplishments. Their stories are inspiring and put my own in perspective.

Congratulations to the winners, Maya Dhal and Deepak KC, to the 100 finalists and 279 nominees.

And a standing ovation to SOS.


I am passionate about helping others create a place they can feel comfortable, safe and call home. Call me to discuss how we can get you that home.

For more information on SOS Children’s Villages BC please see their website.

To donate, click here.

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Video

The computer says no

Q: Excuse me, do you have any ice?

A: “You mean the frozen kind?”

Yes, this was an actual exchange of words I had with a Big Box Store cashier a couple of years back when I was out frantically trying to find ice for my clients on the day of their wedding when the person responsible for bringing the ice came empty handed (in my previous life I was a wedding planner).

This exchange stuck with me as the perfect example of how some people possess critical thinking skills, and others, well, do not. This can also be said for good customer service, creativity, tenacity, resourcefulness, and many other skills and characteristics that are often important in service type roles; some people have them, some people don’t.

It’s possible that the employee just had a momentary brain fart. Or they were so thrown off by my really random question that the neural connections of their brain couldn’t compute faster than the speed at which the words came out of their mouth.

Either way, this is not the type of individual you want to be dealing with when you are: applying for a mortgage, applying for a loan, doing your taxes, setting up a business, or if you have a nut allergy and they are the one confirming there are no nuts in the dish you are about to order.

When the answer matters, you want to pose the question to someone who can think beyond the box. Too many people receive a “no” when in fact, with some additional information or a little creativity, the answer could have been “yes” (*cough* what happens at banks *cough*).

This is why it sometimes seems to my clients that I make magic happen. I turn “no” into “yes” and between you and me, I have a ton of fun while I’m doing it.

So I leave you with this clip. If this has been your experience, call me.

Clip: Little Britain – The Computer Says No

Oh yeah? Well my Dad could beat up your Dad!

Remember when that was the go-to phrase to end the one-upmanship on the playground? The little sentence thrown in the face of your opponent as a last ditch effort to win the fight? And the general comeback? “Oh YEAH?? Well, mnaw” (or some equally lame variation).

Well that’s what’s going on with the mortgage rate “wars” that are happening right now. It’s all talk and not a lot of follow through. Don’t get me wrong. I’m loving the low rates and its great for clients that the lenders keep trying to out-do each other but rates are not the be all and end all to a mortgage.

Often times, borrowers are fixated on their mortgage rate because it’s the one aspect of their home financing they know to ask about; it’s concrete and what is most predominantly advertised. But it’s important to look beyond just the rates to the bigger picture surrounding what’s significant when it comes to your specific mortgage needs.

For example, if we put into real terms the difference between 2.99% and 3.04%, it works out to an additional $2.66 in your monthly payment per $100,000 of your mortgage. Over the course of a five-year term, this culminates into just $159.60 per $100,000. Say what??!

So, while “no-frills” mortgage products typically offer a lower interest rate (like our 2.99% example) when compared with many other available products, the lower rate is really its only perk. A one trick pony so to speak.

The biggest problem with looking at rate alone is that you may end up paying thousands of dollars in early payout penalties if, for instance, you opt for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage and then decide to move before the five years is up. Yes, you read that right. So you get that great job promotion and now you need to move so you have to break your “no-frills” mortgage because you can’t transfer it to your new home and you get dinged up the wahzoo to do it. But don’t worry, you’ve invested that $159.60 you saved in some magical investment vehicle that pays you a 200% return so you’ll at least be close to breaking even. No? Oh…you spent it on shoes? Well, that’s unfortunate.

No-frills mortgage products won’t let you take your mortgage with you if you purchase another property before your mortgage term is up – portability is not an option with this product. Portability is an important option that could save you money over the long term. For example, if that dream home is within your reach before your mortgage term is up and rates have risen (which they have a tendency to do over a five-year period) you get the house AND keep your existing low rate. Cha-CHING!

This no-frills, rock-bottom, fire-sale type of product is usually a good option for those who also have zero plans to take advantage of prepayment privileges that will help pay down their mortgage faster – such as lump-sum payments, double or increased payment frequency, or general extra payments for those times when you won a fistful of cash at bingo.

Essentially, this product is only ideal for borrowers who a) are certain then will not be moving before the end of their term; b) won’t be in a position to put any extra money on the mortgage or c) property investors who need a low fixed rate and aren’t concerned with making lump-sum payments. Oh, and d) those borrowers interested in saving the above-noted $159.60/year over anything else.

It’s understandable why these products are appealing. I don’t fault you. I will hunt out a deal like no other. I have bins of clothes for my 8 month old ranging in sizes from now ‘til college because I can’t pass up a bargain. But it’s important to remember that, like fashion trends, a lot can change over the course of five years – or whatever term you choose for your mortgage. You could get transferred, find a bigger house, have babies, change careers, etc. Five years is a long time to be anchored to anything. At least with an out-of-fashion outfit it can be re-purposed as a Halloween costume. Your mortgage, not so much.

The thing is, you can still get great mortgage savings without giving up the perks of traditional mortgages. And there are still many other ways to earn your discounts. A mortgage shouldn’t be a clearance-item-impulse-buy-that’s-one-size-too-small-but-that-you-will-fit-into-eventually-once-you-lose-those-5 lbs-but-you-never-do-and-it-just-sits-in-your-closet…

Remember, you are borrowing money from someone who is in the business of making money off of this transaction. If they are not making it on the rate they are sure as heck going to make it somewhere else, or at the very least prevent you from taking your good rate and running. They’ll get their pound of flesh out of you somehow. That’s why it’s essential to discuss with your mortgage broker the full details surrounding the small print behind the low rates.

So there!

Consider me the Gynecologist of Mortgages

Men joke it’s probably the best job in the world. Women simultaneously hope for, and dread getting, a good-looking one. I’m talking Gynecologists. The poke-ologists. The docs that get on up in your business.

As a woman who has been there, done that, I can tell you it’s a bit nerve racking being on such display. It feels vulnerable, uncomfortable and a little on the embarrassing side. I mean, I don’t spend a lot of time taking inventory down there so to have someone else poking around goes outside of my comfort zone. When I run through the appointment in my mind I see laughter, pointing and perhaps worst of all the knowing tsk, tsk look of disapproval. I cower as much as I can with my knees practically up by my shoulders.

So in anticipation of the big day there is a lot of primping, priming and worrying. Heck, I’ll probably even get a pedicure. But inevitably I’m somewhat disappointed each time.

The doc doesn’t care. Most of the time they are chatting away about something else or to someone else; going about their business as if it routine and just the usual. No laughter or judgment. Quick and mostly painless.

And that is because they are a professional. It is their job. For them, it IS routine, the usual, and just a way for them to help you stay healthy. They’ve seen it all and it is all normal. No big deal.

So consider me the Gynecologist of Mortgages.

I’m not here to judge your finances. It doesn’t matter to me how much money you do or don’t have, if you’re sitting on a nest egg or up to your eyeballs in debt. I’m here to help you. If you’re in debt, let me help you manage it, create a plan and get out of it. If you have money to burn, let me help you invest it wisely to get the most bang for your buck.

Whether you have a mortgage or think at some point, some time, you’d like to own a home, send me an email or give me a call and we’ll set up an appointment for a mortgage health check. I promise I’ll be gentle.