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Jamie Dimon, Steve Mnuchin And Wall Street CEOs Set To Attend Saudi Conference Despite Journalist’s Disappearance

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Even amid reports that agents for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman brazenly killed a Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post, some of the world’s richest and most influential business, media and political figures still plan to attend a Saudi-sponsored schmoozefest in Riyadh this month.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde plan to attend the event, the second annual Future Investment Initiative, scheduled for Oct. 23 through 25. It is a government-backed conference bankrolled by the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

On the agenda at what has been dubbed Davos in the Desert, after a similar gathering of elites every winter in Switzerland, are the sorts of topics beloved by the globe-trotting superrich. “Investing in transformation,” “technology as opportunity” and “advancing human potential” are listed as the conference’s broad themes. The real attraction, to be sure, is the promise of lucrative deals with the Saudi government.

HuffPost reached out to over a dozen companies and individuals set to speak at, sponsor or attend the conference. Only a handful, including The New York Times and The Economist (both media sponsors of the conference), said they had pulled out in light of recent events. CNN, Bloomberg and CNBC, also sponsors, later ended their involvement as well.

Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board and runs a consulting firm called Thrive Global, said through a spokeswoman she would no longer attend. (Huffington is no longer affiliated with HuffPost.) 

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced late Thursday evening that he would not be going. “I’m very troubled by the reports to date about Jamal Khashoggi,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “We are following the situation closely, and unless a substantially different set of facts emerges, I won’t be attending the FII conference in Riyadh.”

Mellody Hobson, the president of Ariel Investments, resigned from the FII advisory board on Thursday. Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and head of the Case Foundation, tweeted on Thursday that he would be putting his plans to attend on hold pending further information about Khashoggi. 

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Rob Lloyd, the CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, said that he was dropping out of the event, according to a report in Axios.

Fox Business Network — another media sponsors of the event — said they were monitoring the situation. Nikkei, a Japanese conglomerate that owns The Financial Times, did not respond to a request for comment, though the newspaper reportedly said it, too, was monitoring the situation.

In another change to the FII event, the section of its website listing the conference program removed the names of all executives participating in panels. It is unclear whether those executives still plan to attend.

Others didn’t respond to HuffPost’s queries, including investment firms Blackstone, BlackRock and TPG Capital; and former Gen. David Petraeus, currently the chairman of investment firm KKR. (See below for a list of attendees.)

It’s perhaps not surprising that so many companies are sticking with Saudi Arabia, since the White House has so far been unwilling to condemn Mohammed for human rights abuses, including the alleged killing of Khashoggi, who disappeared on Oct. 2. He was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and has not been seen in public since.

A senior Turkish official told The New York Times that a team of Saudi agents killed him and then dismembered his body with a bone saw. However, those reports have not yet been confirmed.

The Saudi government has reportedly been unhappy with Khashoggi’s columns, which were critical of the country’s recent policies.

The White House has so far given a muted response, with President Donald Trump saying he has discussed the case with Saudi leadership but little else. It’s unclear if the U.S. government plans to introduce any punitive measures against the Saudi government, with which Trump and his family have developed extensive ties in recent years.

Khashoggi’s alleged killing was predated by a string of rights abuses and warning signs of the Saudi government’s willingness to use violence. The FII is being held at the same Ritz-Carlton that Mohammed turned into a makeshift jail during a crackdown late last year, in which the government rounded up hundreds of political and business elites on thin corruption charges. After they were released, some detainees spoke of beatings and constant threats.

Mohammed’s crackdown went beyond his mass sweep at the Ritz, extending to human rights proponents and dissidents, including prominent women’s rights activists. In a bizarre incident last December, the Saudi government essentially kidnapped Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Saudi Arabia has fiercely contested any international pushback — for example, demolishing its relations with Canada over the summer in response to a fairly milquetoast Canadian statement on the arrest of human rights activists.

Then there is the brutal ongoing Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen, which is one of the deadliest facets of a civil war that has killed thousands of civilians. Saudi bombings have resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties. In August alone, a Saudi airstrike killed 40 young children after one of its U.S.-supplied bombs hit a school bus.

Here is a list of the individuals HuffPost has reached out to who are slated to attend the event:

  • David Bonderman, chairman and founding partner, TPG Capital
  • Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan Chase
  • Larry Fink, chairman and CEO, BlackRock Inc.
  • John M. Flint, executive director and group chief executive, HSBC Holdings PLC
  • Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund
  • Jean Lemierre, chairman, BNP Paribas
  • Kanetsugu Mike, president and CEO, MUFG Bank Ltd.
  • Steven Mnuchin, secretary, U.S. Treasury
  • Lubna S. Olayan, CEO and deputy chairperson, Olayan Financing Co.
  • David Petraeus, chairman, KKR
  • Jeremy Weir, executive chairman and CEO, Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd.
  • Stephen Schwarzman, CEO, Blackstone
  • Peter Thiel, partner, Founders Fund

Alexander Kaufman contributed reporting to this article.

This story has been updated to note that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Case Foundation chairman Steve Case, Virgin Hyperloop CEO Rob Lloyd, CNN and CNBC will not attend the Saudi conference.

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11-Step Guide to Buying A House

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Purchasing a home is likely going to be one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime, which is why it is so important to follow the right steps when starting on your home-buying journey to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly from start to finish!

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to buying a home, to help you get off on the right foot when it comes to buying a home. Click the download button below to download these steps in PDF form.

1. Decide to buy a home

Make sure you are ready both financially and emotionally!

2. Get Pre-Approved

Work with a mortgage broker or your bank. They will work with you on what you require to submit an application. Once approved, this will determine how much you can afford to spend on a home.

3. REALTOR® Consultation

Work with a RE/MAX agent to help guide you through the process. The right agent will discuss your price range, ideal locations, current market conditions and much more!

4. Start Your Search

Your REALTOR® will get you information on new homes that meet your criteria as soon as they’re listed. They’ll work with you and for you to ensure you find your dream home.

5. Current Market Conditions

Your experienced RE/MAX agent is a valuable resource as you consider different properties. They will be there when you have questions regarding the homes you’re interested in – they can tell you what is a good deal, and when to walk away.

6. Make an Offer

Your REALTOR® will help create your offer tailored to your needs including the right subject clauses down to the closing date that works best for you.

7. Negotiate

You may receive a counter offer but don’t be worried! RE/MAX agents will negotiate for you to ensure you get the best possible price for the house you love!

8. Accepted Offer

It’s crunch time! The next few weeks are busy as you need to schedule and remove every one of your subject clauses by the specified date. You’ll likely need to schedule an inspection, appraisal, financing approval, and several others. You will also need to provide a deposit to put down on the home. The deposit will be a pre-determined amount given in-trust to your REALTOR® to show the sellers you are committed to this home. Don’t worry, that money goes towards the purchase of said home if all goes well! This is a busy time but be sure to reach out to your RE/MAX agent if you have any questions or are unsure about next steps.

9. Subject Removal

Once you have completed all your subject clauses, and everything went smooth, it is time for you to sign on the dotted line and consider your new home to be yours (almost!).

10. Official Documents

You will need to provide your RE/MAX agent with your preferred lawyer or notary to have the official title transferred into your name. You will meet with the lawyer or notary in person to sign all the legal documents before you move in. This typically happens a few days before you take possession of your new home.

11. Move In!

Congratulations, you are officially a homeowner! The date pre-determined by you is your move-in day! You can now move into your new home. Your RE/MAX agent will be there ready and waiting to hand you the keys. Enjoy!

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Know When to Rent ‘Em, Know When to Buy ‘Em

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We’re told it’s always better to buy than rent. Everyone—from our parents to the banks to the government—encourages us to buy, buy, buy our homes.

But times have changed, and I dare say that these authority figures might be slightly out of touch. The jaw-droppingly high cost of real estate in big cities is encouraging millennials to rent instead of own, causing homeownership rates to drop. At 30 years old, 50.2% of millennials own homes versus 55% of baby boomers at the same age. As a millennial homeowner, I can’t help but wonder if I’m generationally displaced.

There’s an old misconception out there about renting that needs to be addressed. You’re not “throwing away your money” if you’re renting. While that familiar axiom might be true sometimes, there are plenty of circumstances in which it does actually make more sense to rent than buy.

You Might Choose to Rent If…

…You Invest What You Save

Renting tends to come with lower carrying costs than owning. Typically, all you’ll have to worry about paying as a renter is, well, the rent (clearly) and perhaps a share of utilities. This leaves you with extra monthly cash to invest, which can ultimately put you on even financial footing or better with a homeowner.

As always, there’s a familiar caveat here: You need to be financially disciplined for this strategy to pay off. One mistake I see a lot is that those who rent tend to fall prey to something called ‘lifestyle inflation.’ Rather than investing what they save as renters, they just rent nicer apartments, eat at fancier restaurants, and put more money into their wardrobe than their RRSP. But this money vacuum can be easily avoided by:

1. Budgeting to find out how much you have left over to invest each month after factoring out all your expenses, then;

2. Funneling that leftover money directly into your investments. Some robo-advisors, like Wealthsimple, allow you to do this automatically via pre-authorized contributions, which set recurring transfers from your chequing account into your investment portfolio, at whatever amount and interval you choose.

…You Have Rent Control, aka the Urban Holy Grail

Depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to benefit from the urban miracle known as rent control. That means your landlord can only increase your rent by the rate of inflation, which in turn keeps your cost of living way down and leaves you with more money to invest. In Canada, rent control is now implemented in most big cities like Toronto and Vancouver (although not in Montreal).

…You Have a Mobile Lifestyle

Renting makes it easier to move; if you’d like to relocate it’s usually as simple as giving your landlord 60 days written notice. But when you own a home you’re more tied down, and the obligation to be near your property may prevent you from chasing new adventures in faraway lands. I once turned down a fantastic job opportunity in Dallas, Texas for this very reason.

…You’re on a Tight Budget

Renting tends to be more affordable than buying in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver. I know, I know, renting is still unreasonably pricey in certain neighborhoods. But buying in those same areas can be arm-and-a-leg expensive.

When you rent, all you have to come up with is the first and last month’s rent; no need to scrimp and save to pull together a massive down payment on a house, which, incidentally, will take you two to four times longer to save than it did your parents.

And homeownership leads to a lot of other costs aside from mortgage payments. When you buy real estate, you’ll need to pay closing costs, which typically add up to between 1.5%–4% of the property’s purchase price and can include a home inspection fee, real estate lawyer fee, land transfer taxes, and homeowners insurance (sometimes you’ll have to fork over an entire year’s worth of home insurance as one lump sum).

There’s also the elephant in the room that nobody likes to speak about: repairs and maintenance. Homeowners are responsible for paying the big bucks for costly home repairs, such as a new roof and furnace, and are advised to set aside 3–5% of a home’s value toward home repairs and maintenance each year. Renters, on the other hand, can just call their landlord whenever they need repairs (provided the landlord actually picks up). Still, it’s important that tenants know their rights when renting to be aware of which fees do and don’t fall under their responsibility.

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A Montreal Real Estate Broker Answered 5 Qs About Buying A Property To Rent Out

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You’ve probably heard that Montreal’s real estate market is on fire. But how can you get in on the action? According to Alex Marshall, a local real estate broker, buying a property as an investment for the purpose of renting it out is a great way to go about it.

Marshall, who’s part of the Keller Williams Prestige team, sat down with us to explain why and how to purchase an investment property. These types of properties are also known as revenue properties.

Why do you recommend buying a revenue property?

Marshall used personal experience to highlight the advantages of owning a revenue property. He’s currently renting out the Saint-Henri loft he bought in 2010.

“Not only is my tenant paying off my mortgage, but I’m making a couple 100 bucks a month as well,” Marshall said.

Marshall was also able to take out a line of credit on the property, he said, and use the equity to buy an additional property.

“You actually don’t need to live in the property that you buy. I’m seeing clients who are in apartments with low rent [who] don’t want to move but have got the money right now … and are looking for smart ways to invest,” he said.

What are some tips to help people save up for a revenue property?

When Marshall was saving up to buy his first property, he said he worked a second job. 

“There’s a lot of value to having that side hustle … even if it’s at Subway or it’s at a landscaping company on Saturdays. It will add up significantly in the long run,” he said.

He gave the example of adding $5,000 to your annual income.

Marshall said you can qualify to borrow roughly four times your annual salary for a mortgage so $5,000 could actually provide you with an extra $20,000 of buying power.

“That might get you a second bedroom, that might get you a parking spot, that might get you a larger space,” he said.

The pandemic, Marshall said, has also helped some of his clients save extra funds.

“You can’t travel, you can’t go to the restaurant, you can’t go to the theatre, you can’t go to the bar. So a lot of people right now are finding themselves with almost a disposable income,” he said.

Marshall also recommends looking into Canada’s Home Buyers’ Plan program, which allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 — — tax-free — from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to put toward buying or building a qualifying home. 

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