Mortgage Rates make Vancouver Housing more affordable!

Every day we read about how challenging it is to afford a home in Vancouver, and while prices are high, types of available housing are broad and mortgage rates are doing their part to maximize your purchasing power. Without having to compromise any privileges 5 year fixed rates are as low as 2.89%, which equates to payments under $1900/mth for a $400,000 mortgage. Families can qualify for slightly over 6 times their gross annual income and the quick factor for borrowing at this rate is $4.67/$1000 financed.

Talk to your Mortgage Advisor today about the choices and purchasing power for you and your clients.

Bank of Canada Holds interest Rate At 1% – Again

The Vancouver Sun, July 16, 2014

Central bank’s rate has now been steady for almost 4 years.

Canada’s central bank decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at one per cent today, the same level it has been at for almost four years.

The Bank of Canada announced in its latest policy decision on Wednesday that it will keep its target for the overnight rate — the yardstick against which most consumer loans are based — steady at one per cent.

  • Fed minutes show rift in how to signal interest rate shift
  • ANALYSIS: Don’t rely on central bankers to fix the economy
  • THE CURRENT: Stephen Poloz on inflation, economic recovery and running the Bank of Canada

Although most economists were expecting no change in the rate, the choice of wording is often closely scrutinized to see if the central bank is leaning toward a rate hike or a cut, if and when it does decide to act.

Instead of suggesting rate hikes are in the offing, the bank softened its tone and suggested it’s in no hurry to hike rates if and when it chooses to act.

“The bank is neutral with respect to the timing and direction of the next change to the policy rate, which will depend on how new information influences the outlook and assessment of risks,” the bank said.

The bank’s use of the word “neutral” was a new and strategic addition to the rate decision, but in an accompanying document, called the monetary policy report, it is clear the bank thinks we’re in a brave new world where interest rates will be much lower than we’re used to, for much longer.

“We are still a long way from home,” Bank of Canada chief Stephen Poloz said. “Our economy has room
to grow. And, when we do get home, there is a growing consensus that interest rates will still be lower than we were accustomed to in the past.”

Bank of Canada predicted in 2012 higher rates by 2014

The Canadian dollar initially dropped on the news, but by the time the bank’s full 23-page accompanying report was fully digested by the market, the loonie was back where it was before — a little below 93 cents US.

Despite the care to remain neutral, there were a few indications that the bank’s overall outlook has become a bit more pessimistic. The bank shaved a tenth of a percentage point off of its GDP growth projections for the near term — to 2.2 and 2.4 per cent, this year and next.

“Consequently, the economy is expected to reach full capacity around mid-2016, a little later than anticipated in April,” the bank said.

Job market woes

If and when the economy does return to normal — whatever that means — it’s not likely to be a sharp, upward bounce, Poloz said at a press conference discussing the report.

“The process is more like a healing process than one that turns like an elastic band,” Poloz said of what he expects an economic recovery to look like.

The bank also noted that job growth in Canada has slowed this year, with an average of just 6,000 new jobs created every month in 2014.

There are also 100,000 fewer people in the prime work age group of 25 to 54 who are employed or looking for work today than there were six months ago, the bank noted.

“Continuing labour market slack is also reflected in subdued increases in wages,” the bank said.

Slowing job growth and stagnant wages aren’t a recipe for economic growth, which explains why the bank’s tone turned a little more pessimistic. Some private-sector economists agree with that view.

“We think it will take much longer than 2016,” Capital Economics economist David Madani said. “Overall, the bank’s latest policy statement supports our view that interest rates will have to remain low for longer than the consensus view.”

One ray of sunshine in the bank’s report Wednesday is that it expects to see a “soft landing” in Canada’s housing market, and also expects household finances to stabilize as debt levels come back to a more sustainable level. That’s good news for the overall economy, as it should lead to theoretically higher consumer spending.

CMHC report highlights slip in refinances, new policies

Canadian Real Estate Magazine – November 29, 2011

CMHC report highlights slip in refinances, new policies

Refinances remain down from pre-mortgage rule changes introduced this spring, according to a Q3 report from CMHC — highlighting further easing in consumer demand for debt.

“Homeowner Refinance activity initially fell by nearly 40 per cent (in the second quarter) and by the end of September was approximately 25% below the pre-implementation levels for an overall year-over-year decrease of 31%,” says the Crown corporation in a Q3 report released Tuesday.

CMHC, and the mortgage industry, as a whole, has also seen a significant slowdown in new purchase activity, according to the quarterly report.

The decline in market activity as well as changes to mortgage lending rules resulted in an 11% drop in insured volumes for the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2010, according to the Q3 CMHC report.

That slowdown in the rate at which consumers took on new debt may actually be a good thing: “The level of household debt remains a concern but there are encouraging signals,” said CMHC.

Still, critics of the government remain concerned that this spring’s mortgage rule changes – specifically, the reduction in loan to value maximums on refinances – have unfairly limited the options of homeowners struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“It’s a repeat of what we saw when the government increased the down payment requirements for CMHC insurance on rental properties,” Curtis Cannon, a sub-mortgage broker with TMG The Mortgage Group in Prince George, B.C. “By decreasing its maximum loan-to- the government is basically saying, ‘We’re out of the refinance business.’ That’s regrettable because CMHC seems to have forgotten what they’re there for – to put and help keep Canadians in their homes.”

Earlier this year the Crown corporation announced that its insurance activity for refis fell 40 per cent for the quarter ended June 30, compared to “pre-implementation levels.” Moreover, the report adds, that activity has “continued to remain around this level.”

That translates into bad news for homeowners, who through no fault of their own, need to pull equity out of their homes in order to cover debts racked up by a death in the family, divorce and/or illness, said Cannon, concerned the government has abdicated its responsibility to aid those Canadians in its move to keep consumers from “using their homes like an ATM.”

“I don’t think that the new refi rules are good, at least not across the board in that the difference between accessing a LTV of 85% instead of 90%  may force someone who is in a tough situation out of their home,” said Cannon.

Why use a mortgage broker?

Globe & Mail, November 10, 2011

Buying her first house and getting her first mortgage was an overwhelming experience for Roslyn Judd.

She had signed a deal to buy a new house, she had put down her deposit, and she was pre-approved for a mortgage. Now she had to sign a final deal with her bank to lend her hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I had never applied for a mortgage before and I found that [to be] the most intimidating part of the home-buying process, so I was procrastinating,” she says. “I think it was the enormity of the money that you are asking somebody to lend you.”

Then a friend in the building where she works suggested she check out her company’s website, RateSupermarket.ca to compare mortgage rates and talk with one of the mortgage brokers featured on the site.

So she did, and her mortgage broker was able to get her a deal with a seasoned lender whose rate was much better than what her bank had offered.

“It was the best because it was so personal,” she says. “It was like someone was holding your hand all the way through the process.”

Rona Birenbaum, a certified financial planner with Caring for Clients in Toronto, recommends all her clients seek the help of a mortgage broker when it comes time to buy a house, or refinance or renew a mortgage.

“It’s the most efficient way to get the best-priced and best-structured mortgage,” she says. “Bottom line.”

“So rather than shopping at multiple financial institutions and negotiating with each financial institution and arm wrestling them to give you the best deal, it’s one phone call and they do the rest for you.”

Vancouver mortgage broker Jessi Johnson says a mortgage broker can help you with all aspects of a mortgage, from figuring out how much you can truly afford, to determining the best mortgage product for you, to finding ways to save you money and pay off your mortgage faster.

In addition, you should expect your mortgage broker to review your mortgage a few times a year to see how you can pay it off faster, whether it’s still the right product for you, and if it’s still competitive. “It’s very rare that you’re going to get that service from a bank,” he says.

For people who are inexperienced with negotiating, who aren’t sure what the best mortgage product is for them or have a less-than-stellar credit rating, they can save time, money and hassle by using a mortgage broker, says Ms. Birenbaum.

“For the average person who would maybe not feel comfortable negotiating, who might feel as though they are not in the position to ask for a better rate, they definitely will [save],” she says. “A half per cent over a 20-year mortgage, is tens of thousands of dollars. It could be potentially huge money.”

But those interested in using a mortgage broker need to do some research, says Ms. Birenbaum.

The brokers she recommends are people with whom she has developed a professional relationship, and she knows they will do a good job because they’ve worked with her clients.

“There’s a wide range of experience, qualifications and quality in this particular industry,” she says. “So reputation and experience are extremely important.”

People ask their financial adviser to recommend a mortgage broker, or they can turn to others who recommend their broker.

Mr. Johnson says you should look for someone with several years experience, who is licensed, and has the title AMP – accredited mortgage professional.

Mortgage brokers are regulated provincially so you can check with your provincial regulator on the website for the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals. The organization also has an online directory that can help your search for a broker.

“Like every industry there are rookies, so be careful when researching your broker, get a good idea about their experience before proceeding,” he suggests.

Many brokers now do the bulk of their work online, Mr. Johnson says, and that’s not an issue as long as there’s enough communication with the client either via e-mail or over the phone – and their online application process is secure.

“To be honest, the majority of our clients don’t leave their living room, and I don’t blame them,” he says.

If a broker asks for a retainer of any sort or any payment made out to them personally, that should be a warning sign, Ms. Birenbaum says.

Mortgage brokers are paid their fee by the lender, not by the person who is using the mortgage broker’s service, says Mr. Johnson. “There’s no cost for the client.”

Be aware though, whether you’re doing a new mortgage, a refinancing or renewal, to ask whether there are any legal or appraisal fees, he says. Legal fees for a new mortgage can be about $1,000, but sometimes a lender may cover both legal and appraisal fees; you just have to ask.

Right now, one of the big questions for those looking for a mortgage is whether to go for a fixed or variable mortgage, says Mr. Johnson. While historically variable mortgages have had better rates than fixed mortgages, that’s not necessarily the case right now.

“Any time the fixed and variable rates are very close I do recommend going fixed and they are close right now,” he says. Up until recently about 90 per cent of the mortgages he arranged were variable, but now more are fixed.

My Real Estate Listing Site gets Launched

Origin Mortgage Advisors are working to help their best referral partners promote their newest real estate listings with a digital listing that can be easily shared and found online. It also doesn’t hurt for each listing to become its own unique URL, improving the Google rankings and other search engine optimization. In addition each listing has links back to current mortgage rates and demonstrates to prospective buyers their monthly payments and income required for qualifying based on varying down payments.

Each web page can be custom designed to display a photo of the home together with links to virtual tours, floor plans, photo arrays and blogs to name a few. These links always go back to the realtors main website. The ability to share these web pages on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter is as simple as one click of a button. If you are looking at new and improved means to promote your real estate listings, expand their reach, and provide prospective buyers with details on the ease of acquiring the home through mortgage terms, you should check out this new website at www.myrealestatelistingsite.com and if you like what you see talk to your Mortgage Advisor about getting your profile set up on this exciting new site.

Blue Chips Climb 272 Points

Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2011

Stocks jumped and blue chips staged their biggest percentage gain in more than a month, as investors bet that efforts will be taken to stem Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 272.38 points, or 2.5%, to 11043.86, clawing back more than one-third of last week’s losses. The measure leapt to an early triple-digit gain, gave back almost all of it midsession and then moved higher in the afternoon. The action follows the Dow’s biggest weekly point drop since October 2008, spurred by worries of a Greek default and turmoil in global markets.

The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index gained 26.52 points, or 2.3%, to 1162.95. The Nasdaq Composite was the laggard, gaining 33.46 points, or 1.4%, to 2516.69, after spending much of the day in negative territory. Trading volume was slightly above the recent average, with 4.55 billion shares changing hands in New York Stock Exchange composite volume.

Stocks closed near session highs following reports that a “special purpose vehicle” to help stem Europe’s debt contagion was in advanced development. Those reports followed a European Central Bank official’s endorsement of a more aggressive bailout plan and another official’s remark that the ECB can’t rule out an interest-rate cut.

“The market was in the mood to have a bounce, [even though] it’s just talk and more talk, a lot of supportive talk,” said Tony Norris, co-manager of the Wells Fargo Advantage International Bond Fund in London. “Unless we see more action, it’s going to be a very short respite.”

The financial sector was the strongest in the S&P 500, rising 4.4% in a reflection of easing European debt worries. J.P. Morgan Chase was the strongest blue chip, rising $2.06, or 7%, to $31.65, followed by Bank of America, which gained 29 cents, or 4.6%, to 6.60.

Technology stocks were the session’s underperformers. Apple lost $1.13, or 0.3%, to $403.17, after Wall Street analysts speculated that the company is planning iPad production cuts. Also weighing on the technology sector, Freescale Semiconductor Holdings lowered its quarterly sales outlook, adding to recent warning signs from chip companies. The stock fell 12 cents, or 1%, to 12.12.

Boeing advanced 2.50, or 4.2%, to 62.01, after the aerospace and defense company delivered its first 787 Dreamliner to Japan’s All Nippon Airways on Sunday.

Does the recent volatility in the markets indicate the death of equities? Paul Vigna makes a stop on Mean Street to discuss.

Amid this week’s volatile market activity and over economic uncertainty, are we seeing a replay of the 1930s. MarketWatch columnist Mark Hulbert explains.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Class B shares gained 5.72, or 8.6%, to 72.09. The company’s board approved a plan to buy back its stock, an indication that Chairman Warren Buffett believes the shares are undervalued.

Clorox lost 2.96, or 4.3%, to 66.44, after billionaire investor Carl Icahn withdrew his 11 nominees to replace the household-product company’s board after determining his plan to sell the company would be opposed by shareholders.

Eastman Kodak slumped 64 cents, or 27%, to 1.74, after the imaging company late Friday said that it borrowed $160 million against its credit line, which raised fears of a cash shortage.

MELA Sciences surged 1.75, or 55%, to 4.93, after the company received an approvable letter from the Food and Drug Administration for its MelaFind device, used to diagnose melanoma.

Macy’s added 1.70, or 6.6%, to 27.32. The retailer said it plans to add 4% more seasonal workers for this holiday season, bucking forecasts for sluggish retail industry hiring.

Odyssey Marine Exploration gained 20 cents, or 7.5%, to 2.86. The deep-sea exploration firm said it confirmed the identity and location of the British shipwreck SS Gairsoppa, which was carrying seven million ounces of silver when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1941. Odyssey will be able to keep 80% of the cargo.

In economic data, new-home sales fell for the fourth straight month in August. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s National Activity Index showed a weak reading for August.

Are you getting the most out of your RESP?

The Globe & Mail, August 30, 2011

Convinced that a registered education savings plan was the best way to save for her child’s future, Lisa Nabieszko opened one shortly after her daughter was born in 1999.

Twelve years later, Ms. Nabieszko says she has since had problems with the account, which has lost money in market downturns.
More related to this story

“I really believe in RESPs,” says the Toronto freelance consultant. “My big challenge was finding a place to move my RESP to … where my principal would be protected.”

RESPs, investment accounts to save for your kids’ college or university tuition, can be topped up by grants from the government and grow tax-free. They have been around in their current form since 1998.

Mike Holman, the author of The RESP Book and writer of the Money Smarts blog, says that since more kids with bigger accounts have started attending post-secondary education, withdrawing from RESPs has emerged as a major issue for parents. “When accounts were small, there was not enough money to cause problems. But people with larger accounts might run into tax issues,” he says.

Despite the 13-year run of RESPs, there is still plenty of confusion around how they work. Independent financial planner Rona Birenbaum says RESPs are popular with her clients, who don’t want their kids to graduate with the burden of debt.

Their appeal lies with not with their tax-sheltering aspect, but with the government grant. “When people understand that that they get a 20 per cent gift from the government,” she says, “it becomes a no-brainer.”

But many RESP investors think the money must be used solely for tuition, to pay for university or college, and that’s a huge source of confusion, says Ms. Birenbaum. In fact, as long as people can provide evidence that their child is enrolled in an eligible institution, the money can be used for any aspect of their support, including lodgings, books, technology needs or travel.

Parents, she adds, do not need to hang on to receipts: “The Canada Revenue Agency is not auditing every single expenditure they will make with money from their REPS. They acknowledge that parents will be responsible for using this money for a wide range of needs.”

Some investors don’t know that the last year to make an RESP contribution is when their child is 17, while others are under the mistaken impression that a contribution to an RESP will generate a tax refund for them, Ms. Birenbaum says. In reality, the government money is never in your hands – it goes straight into the RESP.

Other parents, like Ms. Nabieszko, struggle to figure out how to invest their RESP funds and where they can and cannot open an RESP account. “I would go to websites for different banks, try to find out who offers them and who did not. That became an exercise in frustration.”

Mr. Holman says most financial institutions offer RESP accounts, but others, including ING and PC Financial, do not.

His advice for parents is to make sure the RESP is invested in safe investments such as GICs, high-interest savings accounts, short-term bond funds and money-market mutual funds.

“When your child is young, it is okay to take on some risk and invest in stocks and mutual funds,” Holman says. “When the child is about to attend school, there is not enough time to make up any investment losses and the money should be invested in safe securities.”

When it comes to withdrawing, some of the money is taxable and some is not, Mr. Holman says, so parents should do their own research and consult a qualified adviser.

Other useful things to know are that withdrawals can be made before your child starts classes and that as long as he or she is still eligible for grants, you can continue to make contributions and receive grants in the RESP account, even while doing withdrawals.

Top four RESP misconceptions

1. RESP grants are only available for families with very low incomes
Wrong. The income thresholds for these grants are surprisingly high. If your family’s net income is $83,088 or lower, you might be eligible for additional RESP grants.

2. Only parents can open an RESP account for their child
In fact, RESP accounts can be opened by anyone, even if they are not related to the child. Permission from the parent is needed by the parent, though, for someone else to open an account.

3. RESPs are just for full-time college or university programs
Actually, RESPs can be used for a wide variety of trade or business schools. Part-time education is also eligible. Click here for a list of eligible institutions.

4. Contribution room is determined by birthday
Contribution room is actually determined by calendar year. If a child is born on the last day of 2010, they will be eligible for $500 of RESP grants for 2010. Once 2011 rolls around, they are eligible for another $500 of grants for 2011. The last day a child is eligible for an RESP grant is December 31st in the year during which they turn 17 years of age.

5. Siblings can only share RESP money in a family RESP
Not true. Siblings can share RESP money between individual accounts if the account subscriber is the same on both accounts.

Canadian banks shifting rate hike views into 2012

Financial Post, August 12, 2011

Canadian banks, which only last month expected the Bank of Canada to resume tightening this fall, are pushing rate hike forecasts into next year following some of the worst financial market turmoil since 2008.

RBC Capital Markets and BMO Capital Markets, both Canadian primary dealers, confirmed on Friday that they now see interest rates on hold until the second quarter next year.

They join TD Securities and Scotia Capital, who were early movers on seeing rate hikes in 2012 based on the deteriorating global economic and fiscal conditions. Other forecasters have also indicated their economic outlooks are under review.

“We just think that given the fact that inflation has receded, and the disappointing U.S. recovery and the fact that this financial market turmoil will likely hit growth temporarily, we just don’t see the bank moving this year,” said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Just three weeks ago, traders were pricing in higher odds of a rate increase this year, following unexpectedly hawkish language from the Bank of Canada.

A July 20 survey of primary dealers, institutions that deal directly with the central bank as it carries out monetary policy, showed most saw a rate hike in September or October.

The swings in the market, mixed economic data, and the twin debt crises in Europe and the United States were all factors behind changing forecasts.

Some forecasters were already leaning towards delayed rate hikes, but cemented their views after the U.S. Federal Reserve pledged on Tuesday to keep interest rates low for at least another two years.

Traders of Canadian overnight index swaps, which are based on expectations for the Bank of Canada’s main policy rate, have been more aggressive in their view of where the economy might be headed.

The swaps market has largely priced in odds of a 25 basis point rate cut later this year on mounting fears of a global slowdown. However, the odds have been pared back in recent sessions as stock markets rebounded.


While more economists now expect Canadian interest rates to stay lower for longer, few expect an outright cut. They warn this would send all the wrong signals for an economy that is growing, albeit slowly, and could hurt the central bank’s credibility.

“I don’t think the market pricing is wildly unreasonable. There is a far outside risk that the bank could cut in a real emergency whereas it’s very tough to see them raising rates,” said Porter, who expects interest rates to rise three times next year, once per quarter starting in the second.

RBC Capital Markets said late on Thursday in a report that based on current conditions, the priced-in rate cuts appear “wholly unjustified.”

“While the underlying domestic growth picture is little changed since the BoC initiated (and strengthened) its tightening bias — the prospective growth path has changed dramatically,” RBC said in the report.

“The bank also laid out a pretty clear criteria for acting upon this bias — a containment of the sovereign debt crisis, continued strong business investment and supportive net exports — these pre-conditions are far from being met at present and are unlikely to be in place before mid-2012.”

Vancouver Street Eats

Summertime is a great time to eat outside, except maybe this year because of our weather. Vancouver is fast becoming a great city with quality and variety in Food Carts and there are plenty of ways and means to find out from other eaters which carts are worth a visit and which ones are not.

Vancouver Street Eats is an open blog which shows reviews from patrons, photos of the food and locations of the carts right on a Google Map. Very handy in making culinary choices on a sunny summer midday.

Most of the carts are on Facebook and Twitter so finding out about their locations, if they change and/or any promotions they are having is easy. If you have to work and you can’t get outside just to play, at least get outside to eat!


Mortgage rates on the rise

July 4, 2011, Money

RBC Royal Bank and TD Canada Trust said Monday they will raise their benchmark five-year fixed-rate mortgage 15 basis points, to 5.54%.

Other banks are expected to follow suit, since the hike reflects rising bond returns in the wider market, which lift the costs of funds for all lenders.

Despite Monday’s news, mortgage rates are still lower than they were just three months ago, and way below historical norms. And lower promotional rates are available at most lenders, including RBC and TD.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney has held the key interest rate at 1% since last September, after lifting it from a rock-bottom 0.25%. The next rate decision is due out July 19, though most economists now expect the central bank won’t resume rate increases until at least September.

Canucks can still be deserving champions

The Montreal Gazette, June 15th, 2011

The first intermission of Game 6 was almost over. It was 4-0 Boston, the Garden

party was well under way, and a well-respected writer from a neutral city who’s honoured by

the Hockey Hall of Fame walked over and said:

“Let me ask you something. If the Canucks win Game 7, do you think they will deserve the Cup?”

It was such a surprising question, it took a while to figure out why it was asked, and a while

longer to come up with what, I’m sure, wasn’t much of an answer.

Deserve? Boy, that’s one complicated word.

It usually comes up around voting time for the NHL awards, or when the all-star teams are

announced, or when the league office mulls a suspension for an on-ice crime of some kind or


Where opinions are involved, “deserve” is debatable.

Where the Stanley Cup is concerned, it’s not.

If Henrik Sedin is being handed the Cup by Gary Bettman Wednesday night, or the early morning

hours on Thursday if it requires overtime – and why wouldn’t it? – it will be because the

Vancouver Canucks won one more game than anyone else in the playoffs after winning lots more

games than any other team in the regular season.

It will be because they stayed the course, when Sami Salo tore his Achilles last summer and

pieces of their defence were falling off with ridiculous regularity all season, and when Manny

Malhotra suffered his horrible eye injury in March, and when Ryan Kesler likely tore his groin

against San Jose, and when Dan Hamhuis fractured something or other hip-checking Milan Lucic

near the start of this series, and when Mason Raymond broke a vertebrae in his back on a rough

and awkward hit by Johnny Boychuk in Game 6 that the referees decided deserved no penalty and

the league decided deserved no supplemental discipline.

Would the Canucks deserve the Cup?

You know why the question was asked.

It’s because the Canucks have done a lot of it unimpressively, giving up more goals than

they’ve scored in these playoffs – they’re currently minus-7 – after being the No. 1 offensive

and defensive team in the regular season.

It’s because their power play, a bread-and-butter weapon in their march to the Presidents’

Trophy, has been firing blanks, and those who get the most minutes of power-play time are

bearing the brunt of the criticism for it. It’s because analyst Mike Milbury called the Sedin

twins “Thelma and Louise,” a proud moment for network sports television.

It’s because the Bruins have romped in all three games in Boston, while the Canucks have eked

out three one-goal nerve-wrackers at home, two of them 1-0 shutouts, the other requiring an

Alex Burrows overtime marker.

It’s because the argument has been made that, given a bounce or two, excluding Raffi Torres’s

goal with 18.5 seconds left in Game 1 and Burrows’ goal 11 seconds into overtime in Game 2,

the Bruins could have swept this series. And maybe that’s true.

It’s because of Burrows’s bite and Max Lapierre’s gesture and all the diving, and the

inability of the Sedins and Kesler to flex their offensive muscles, and the fact that Roberto

Luongo has been pulled four times in these playoffs, thrice lit up by the Bruins, and has

failed to match the sure-footed pluck and clutch goaltending of Boston’s Tim Thomas in this

series . . . and then crabbed about all the ink Thomas is getting.

Should a team that’s fallen so short on so many levels – big-game production, personal

comportment, class – and which is (so we hear) unloved by many in the Rest of Canada (though

sensational TV ratings argue otherwise) be given the hero treatment if they rebound from their

Boston embarrassments and win on Wednesday night?

And the answer, of course, is: why the heck not?

The Cup has been stolen before. The 1986 and ’93 Montreal Canadiens come to mind. Jacques

Demers was mightily ticked off to hear his ’93 team referred to as the weakest ever to win the

Stanley Cup. He should take it as a compliment.

That team won 10 straight overtime games in the playoffs. They were close to being down 2-0 in

the final to the L.A. Kings – with Games 3 and 4 in California – when the series turned on

Marty McSorley’s illegal stick. They rode Patrick Roy like a rented mule.

Did the Habs deserve it? Sure. So did the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, even though it took them

seven games to beat the No. 8-seeded Western team, Edmonton, in the final.

But this? This would be no theft, no bolt from the blue.

At the moment that they clinched the Presidents’ Trophy on March 31, while 14 other teams were

still angling for playoff spots, here is what the Canucks had to show for their season:

• Scored the most goals, allowed the fewest, had the biggest goal differential.

• Had the best home record, and the best road record.

• Were the best team five-on-five, on the power play, and on the penalty kill.

• According to the NHL, no team since the Original Six era (which ended in 1967) had led in

goals for and against, power play and penalty kill in the same season.

• They had the NHL’s top point-getter (Daniel would win the Art Ross) and top playmaker

(Henrik would lead the league in assists).

• They had the league’s winningest goaltender with 37 wins, even though Luongo stepped aside

enough times to make sure Cory Schneider got his 20 games in for the Jennings Trophy.

This was no accident, this Cup run.

It may have looked like one, lately, but there are no inexpensive trips to the Stanley Cup

final. Every player, every coach, every trainer, every equipment man pays a steep price.

If they win on Wednesday, will they deserve it? Damn right they will.

And if they lose, they’ll deserve that, too.

It’s not up for a vote. It’s whatever the final score says it is.

Canucks Stanley Cup bound, and have earned their chance to triumph

Vancouver Sun, May 25th, 2011

Unlike any team we have ever seen here

Even before Kevin Bieksa scored the biggest Canuck goal in 17 years, nearly 19,000 Vancouver fans were chanting: “We want the Cup!”

If you need to ask which one, you’re not from here. The Vancouver Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup final. And unlike the only other two times it happened, no one should be surprised.

A Canucks team that is not only deeper and better than any before it, but also convinced they deserve to have their names inscribed on Lord Stanley’s tureen, made it to the National Hockey League final with a 3-2 double-overtime win Tuesday over the San Jose Sharks that clinched the Western Conference title 4-1 in games.

“I don’t know if I can even describe what this represents,” Canucks chief operating officer Victor de Bonis, a Burnaby kid, said after a tonne of blue and green confetti rained down on players. “I watched the game from the stands, and the intensity and sheer passion for what everyone wanted was overwhelming. Sometimes, when you want something so badly, it has a way of working out.”

Like when Ryan Kesler, who appeared to suffer a leg injury earlier in the game, tipped in the tying goal with 13.2 seconds left in regulation time after a botched icing call allowed the Canucks to win an offensive-zone faceoff.

Like when Bieksa seemed to be the only player on the ice who saw Alex Edler’s shoot-in carom crazily off the glass and back to the blue line, where the defenceman from Grimsby, Ont., slapped it past a startled San Jose goalie Antti Niemi at 10:18 of the second overtime.

“It’s a bit surreal right now,” Bieksa said. “This is obviously something you work for your entire life. I kind of just saw [the puck] and shot it, and when it went in their goalie was looking behind the net. We’ll take that.”

Yes, they will.

The Canucks have endured more bad luck and inflicted more heartbreak than fans should be able to endure over the last four decades.

But as the motto goes: “We are all Canucks.” The marketing folks got that one pretty much right.

In many respects, this trip to the Stanley Cup final, unlike the ones in 1982 and 1994, is more satisfying and rewarding because the Canucks have made it there despite crippling pressure and expectations to do so.

They have made it there as front-runners, as favorites. The previous two visits provided a couple of months of unexpected magic. This one caps nearly a year of anticipation.

These Canucks have earned this opportunity.

It has been 96 years since Vancouver won a Stanley Cup, so let’s just assume if there was an easy way for the Canucks they’d have found it by now. They’ve been trying since 1970. Most of the guys who won the Stanley Cup in 1915 as the Vancouver Millionaires didn’t live to see the NHL come to town.

Even better than they’ve ever been, the Canucks still struggled to overcome a history of making it hard on themselves. It must be genetics.

They have the Presidents’ Trophy as regular-season champions. They have some of the best players on the planet. Some nights, they are invincible. But they always seem to be an act of God from catastrophe.

So when Kesler, one of those world-class players and arguably the Canucks’ best in this Stanley Cup tournament, pulled up lame on an otherwise innocuous shorthanded rush in the second period, a few seconds before the Sharks tied Game 5 on a double-deflection, we naturally assumed the worst. Maybe that’s our DNA. That’s what 40 years of Canucks hockey without a Stanley Cup has done to human evolution in British Columbia.

When goalie Roberto Luongo, otherwise brilliant, gambled and lost while diving for a loose puck, which allowed the Sharks a gift go-ahead goal early in the third period, it seemed, well, typical. This has always happened to the Canucks.

Until now.

Just as Alex Burrows scored in Game 7 overtime to sink the Chicago Blackhawks a month ago after the Vancouver had blown a 3-0 first-round series lead, the Canucks found a way on Tuesday.

They are unlike any Canucks team we’ve seen. Maybe their final prize will be, too.

Canucks back up their belief with classic overtime victory

Vancouver Sun – April 27, 2011

For most of four decades, we’ve been waiting for a goal like that. It’s hard to fathom there could be six more weeks like this.

The Canucks’ search for their first Stanley Cup continues after Alex Burrows blasted a rolling puck past goalie Corey Crawford at 5:22 of overtime Tuesday, lifting Vancouver to a 2-1 Game 7 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks and into the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs.

The Canucks have been there before, but never got there this way — this dramatically. This unexpectedly, after the defending champion Blackhawks had roared back from an 0-3 deficit to start the series and roared back Tuesday with a shorthanded tying goal late in the third period.

“It’s Game 7, exciting,” Canuck Ryan Kesler said after the team mobbed Burrows while Roger Arena shook with a deafening cheer. “We deserved this one. We believed.”

Not everyone did.

The Canucks were the best team in the National Hockey League’s regular season, winning the Presidents’ Trophy by 10 points. But after bolting to three straight wins against the Blackhawks, they looked like they’d be just the fourth team in Stanley Cup history to lose a seven-game playoff series with four straight losses.

Jonathan Toews, a Team Canada Olympic hero in this building just 14 months ago, tied it for Chicago on a shorthanded rebound with 1:56 remaining in regulation time and the Blackhawks had a chance to win in overtime when Burrows took a holding penalty 24 seconds into the extra period.

But Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, often criticized but seldom at fault in this series, made a season-saving stop on Patrick Sharp during the Blackhawk power play, and four minutes later Burrows was the hero.

The Canucks winger, who scored Vancouver’s first goal, had been stopped by Crawford on a third-period penalty shot and later shot high on a breakaway.

“This is awesome,” Canuck owner Francesco Aquilini said. “This is incredible. I’m really proud of these guys. For these guys to fight back like that is beyond words.”

Projected onto a giant banner hanging from the ceiling at Rogers Arena were the words: “This is what we live for.” The first round came close to killing us.

No Canuck team has been this good. But when Vancouver squandered its lead in the series and in Game 7, it seemed it would be just another spring of heartbreak and disappointment for hockey fans here.

That’s why Tuesday’s win seems so special, almost cathartic. The Canucks had a chance to collapse, but didn’t. They looked like they were beaten, but won. They overcame.

Not many Canuck teams have done that.

“What would have happened if we would have lost?” a hoarse Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “I don’t know. There were a lot of doubts around this dressing room from the outside. And I can see why. But I knew we’d be able to come back.”

The Canucks will open the next round at home against the Nashville Predators, likely on Thursday.

The Blackhawks, Stanley Cup champions who dawdled all season before suddenly finding inspiration and their game in the playoffs, went home defeated by the team whose season Chicago ended the last two springs.

“It was nothing personal,” veteran Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. “They were just a team that was in our way of getting to the Stanley Cup.”

For their first 20 years, the Canucks were not good, and for most of the last 20 they haven’t been good enough. Players have told us all season that this team is different, that these players are different.

And Tuesday, they backed up their words.

The Blackhawk series could launch the Canucks towards something great.

Toews said just a few days ago that no team wins the Stanley Cup without reaching a point of near-hopelessness, when victory seems almost impossible. But you overcome, and then you believe.

Maybe the Canucks reached that point when Toews scored shorthanded late in the third period.

This series wasn’t first vs. eighth. It was Stanley Cup champion against an arch rival whose fervent belief is that it was their time to succeed. Maybe the Canucks are right.

It has been 41 years since they entered the NHL, but they’ll be playing in May with momentum to match their talent and the conviction that this is their year.

“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves,” Burrows said. “I think it feels even better getting it done this way.”

‘Confident’ Canucks look forward to meeting Blackhawks

Vancouver Sun –  April 12, 2011

Confident but not cocky, the Vancouver Canucks sounded Tuesday like a team determined to exorcise its Chicago Blackhawk playoff demons.

The Canucks hope to start the process Wednesday when they meet the Blackhawks in the opener of their best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series at Rogers Arena.

“We’re a different team this year,” said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “I think mentally we have our emotions in check and physically we are a much better team. We were the best team in the regular season and we have found our chemistry. We feel like if we play our best game we’re a tough team to beat.”

On paper, the Canucks should be regarded as the clear favourites to beat the Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Canucks finished 20 points clear of the eighth-place Blackhawks as they won their first Presidents’ Trophy and coasted to the finish line of the NHL’s regular season.

But the Canucks do have some unpleasant history to overcome against a Chicago team that has sent them packing the past two seasons.

Coach Alain Vigenault thinks his team has learned some valuable lessons the past couple of seasons and is now ready to flourish on the playoff stage.

“I think if you learn from the past there’s a good chance the future will be different,” he said Tuesday. “We think we have proven a lot of things during the regular season about some of the experiences that we have learned in the past and now it’s our turn to go try and prove it in the playoffs.”

While respectful of the high-end talent on the Blackhawks, the Canucks believe they match up well against Chicago. Offensively, the two teams are pretty much a wash. Both score lots of goals.

But the Canucks would appear to have an edge in several key areas. Defensively, the Canucks are as deep and talented as any team in the NHL. And for the first time all season, they are healthy on the back end and will start the playoffs with three formidable defensive pairings in Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff, and Sami Salo and Keith Ballard.

In goal, Roberto Luongo is coming off a season he calls his best ever and will be facing a rookie in Corey Crawford.

The Canucks also seem to have a special teams edge. Both the Canucks (No. 1) and Chicago (No. 4) have excellent power plays, but Vancouver has a big edge when it comes to penalty-killing. The Canucks’ PK tied for second in the regular season, while the Hawks were 25th.

“We have been confident all year that no matter who we face we know we match up good against anybody in the league,” Luongo said after Tuesday’s practice. “What happened the last two years doesn’t translate to this year. I don’t think it gives them an advantage. It’s a clean sheet for both teams. We can’t be affected by what happened the last couple of years. That would only give us a crutch. We start with a fresh sheet, we’re confident in the guys that we have in this lockeroom. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing.”

The Canucks are attempting to keep things as low-key as possible as they prepare for the series. As crazy as it might sound, they are trying to treat these upcoming games like the 82 ones that preceded them.

“We are pretty composed,” said NHL scoring champion Daniel Sedin. “We talked a lot during the season about not getting too high or too low. It’s the same right now. We know we have a big game tomorrow, but it shouldn’t change the way we approach it or the way we play.”

“There is a little bit of anxiety and stuff for the first game, but it’s a good energy, I think, and we’re trying to make it seem as much like a regular game as possible,” added Bieksa. “We had a lot of success in the regular season and we want to maintain that and not build this up to be bigger than it is.”

For the most part, the Canucks have gone out of their way to sing the praises of the Blackhawks, repeatedly calling them the Stanley Cup champs.

But at least Bieksa was honest enough to say he still hates them, although the cast of characters has changed considerably since last season’s playoffs with the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager, Adam Burish and Brent Sopel now playing elsewhere.

“When you put that jersey on instant hate comes into this dressing room,” he said. “It’s a team that we want to beat badly.”

Hate but respect. Bieska was quick to mention the considerable challenges the Hawks’ top forwards present.

“They have some of the best one-on-one forwards in the league in (Patrick) Kane and (Jonathan) Toews and (Patrick) Sharp and (Marian) Hossa,” he said. “These are guys that are very skilled and they attack you with a lot of speed. It’s up to us to try and take away their speed in the neutral zone and not allow them to come flying in the zone and make moves on us. I know we’ve got a pretty good D corps, so there is going to be a lot of pressure on us to perform.”

There will be pressure on the whole Canuck team, pressure that comes with the expectations raised by their remarkable regular season. Their coach thinks they are ready to deal with that pressure and meet those expectations head-on.

“Obviously they have proven they can play on the big stage through the adversity, the challenges and the pressure that comes with winning four rounds to get your hands on the big prize,” Vigneault said of the Hawks. “We think we can do it and we are going to set out starting tomorrow to try and prove it. Our first opponent is the defending Stanley Cup champions. We worked all year long to finish first and we are getting the Cup champions. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Get a lock on mortgage rates

Vancouver Sun

Customers who are nearing the end of their fixed-rate term may be better off paying early exit penalties and securing a new deal

Even though there was a drop in some of this week’s fixed-rate mortgage products, some rates are expected to go up this year. Why the inconsistency between fixed and open rates? Fixed-rate mortgages follow bond yields, which have fallen recently. Variable rate mortgages reflect changes in the Bank of Canada’s prime rate, which is expected to rise.

There are ways to cushion the blow of rate hikes and make sure mortgage hikes are not a shock to your financial system.

“If the client is in a variable rate, which has the most fluctuation potential in the short term, I suggest they base their payments on a 4% fixed rate rather than making the lower payments based on today’s 2.25% variable rate,” says Gerri Vaughan, mortgage broker with Invis in Edmonton. “That way, they’re paying more towards the principal and they won’t have a payment shock when rates do start climbing.”

For clients who are already locked into a fixed rate, Ms. Vaughan says now is a good time to review their mortgage to work out if they should pay a penalty and renew early.

“It will really depend on what kind of pay-out penalty their existing lender is going to charge,” Ms. Vaughan says. “You have to look at those on a case-by-case scenario.”

Ms. Vaughan says borrowers who recently secured a low fixed-rate mortgage, and have a number of years remaining on their deal, are unlikely to benefit from an early renewal. However, customers who are nearing the end of their fixed-rate term may be better off paying early exit penalties and securing a new deal.

“Do an annual review of where things are with the mortgage. What are their plans over the next 12 months, are they planning to consolidate debt are they planning to do some renovations?” says Ernest MacDonald, a mortgage broker with Mortgage Intelligence in Halifax. “Does it make sense to renegotiate the mortgage now, to lock in low rates for the next five years, say?”

For clients considering buying a home within the next few months, the advice is get pre-approved.

“Even if they think they’re not buying for a few months most lenders will hold their rate for 120 days. If they’re locked in and rates shoot up, it protects them. If rates go down they always get the lower rate,” Mr. MacDonald says.

About 18% of respondents to a BMO Bank of Montreal survey last month said they would struggle to meet mortgage payment if rates rose. Ms. Vaughan says it is critical to be certain of your finances before contemplating homeownership.

“Be secure in your financial position and be comfortable that you’re going to have a job going forward,” Ms. Vaughan says. “The rates are good, the prices are good depending on where you are in Canada. It’s a good time to look at homeownership without overextending and being house poor; that’s no fun.”

Mr. MacDonald says having an overall financial plan is crucial.

“We’ve had pretty easy access to credit over the past 15 years. It has led to a lot of people not really knowing where all their dollars are going,” Mr. MacDonald says. “It really comes down to paying attention to where your money is going and being prepared if rates do go up.”

TIME SENSITIVE – Are you ready for the changes?

There are 3 significant changes happening in the mortgage industry this month.
But don’t worry, we are here to guide you ahead smoothly.

Changes happen March 18, 2011 –  Act Now!
Maximum Amortization for high-ratio loans has been reduced from 35 to 30  years.   Your monthly payment will increase  –  hence reducing your buying power. The example below shows how this could mean a $50,000 reduction in buying power:

Interest Rate : 4.04
Amortization 35 Yr
Mortgage Amount $600000
Monthly Payment  2,658.96

Interest Rate : 4.04
Amortization 30 Yr
Mortgage Amount $600000
Monthly Payment  2,866.71

Changes happen March 18, 2011 –  Act Now!
Maximum Loan to Value (LTV)  for refinances has been reduced from 90%
from 85%.   This means your Maximum Mortgage could be reduced.The example below shows how this could mean a $25,000 reduction in buying power:
Example 2

Refinances at 90%
Home Value of 500000
Maximum mortgage amount $450000
* plus high ratio insurance premium

Refinances at 85%
Home Value of 500000
Maximum mortgage amount $425000
* plus high ratio insurance premium

April 18, 2011
Elimination of government backing of insurance for Home Equity Lines of Credit.

Click here for more information.


Department of Finance Canada, Press Release, January 17, 2011

The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, and Parks the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources, today announced prudent adjustments to the rules for government-backed insured mortgages to support the long-term stability of Canada’s housing market and support hard-working Canadian families saving through home ownership.
“Canada’s well-regulated housing sector has been an прошлого, important strength that allowed us to avoid the mistakes of wholesale nba jerseys other countries and helped protect us from the worst of the recent global recesion,” said Minister Flaherty. “The prudent measures announced today build on cheap MLB jerseys that advantage by encouraging hard-working Canadian families to save by investing in their homes and future.”
“The economy continues to be our Government’s top priority,” continued Minister Paradis. “Our Government will continue to take the necessary actions to ensure stability and economic certainty in Canada’s housing market.”
The new measures:
– Reduce the maximum amortization period to 30 years from 35 years for new government-backed insured mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of more than 80 per cent. This will significantly reduce the total interest payments Canadian families make on their mortgages, allow Canadian families to build up equity in their homes more quickly, and help 5 Canadians pay off their mortgages before they retire.
– Lower the maximum amount Canadians can borrow in refinancing their mortgages to 85 per cent from 90 percent of the value of their homes. This will promote wholesale NBA jerseys saving through home ownership and limit the repackaging of consumer debt into mortgages guaranteed by taxpayers.
– Withdraw government insurance backing on lines of credit secured by homes, such as home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs. This will ensure that risks associated with consumer debt products used to borrow funds unrelated to house purchases are managed cheap NFL jerseys by the financial institutions and not borne by taxpayers.
Our Government’s ongoing monitoring and sound underlying supervisory regime, along with the traditionally cautious approach taken by Canadian financial institutions to mortgage lending, have allowed Canada to maintain strong and secure housing and mortgage markets.
The adjustments to the mortgage insurance guarantee framework will Welcome come into force on March 18, 2011. The withdrawal of government wholesale NFL jerseys insurance backing on lines of credit secured by homes will come into force on April 18,2011.
For more a information click here for today’s Globe & Mail article.
Posted on 17 Jan 2011