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Re/Max Real Estate Centre: From “desperation” to No. 1 office | REM

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June 2019 will mark the 20th year of David Medeiros’ and Delio Oliveira’s partnership as co-founders of Re/Max Real Estate Centre, an Ontario firm named Canada’s No. 1 Re/Max brokerage for the most closed transactions in 2017.

But when the duo ventured into their business in 1999, they weren’t sure how far they’d get. Back then, both Medeiros, 30, and Oliveira, 33, were experienced Realtors and top agents within Re/Max at its Cambridge, Ont. office. They thought they had what it would take to launch their own brokerage business. When they resigned in June to firm up their partnership, their manager warned they would go bankrupt by Christmas.




Today, their company has offices in 16 locations across the province with 734 agents and counting.

Medeiros admits that getting to this point was a tall order. In the nascent stages of their business, they struggled to operate their brokerage with few clues about the level of detail required to run one. In their first year together, they sold real estate, ran the brokerage and recruited non-stop, he says.

“We had no administrative background and we didn’t realize how much capital it would take. The hardest was to recruit agents,” says Medeiros, “because we were two young guys with a new office, so agents doubted us.”

And yet, their company went from 25 to 75 agents within the first 12 months.

Medeiros followed a meandering path to real estate. At 14 he spent his summer and Christmas holidays and March break working at a Brampton construction firm, alongside his cousin who was a lead hand. At 18 he went to college. General Motors’ diesel division in London, Ont. was his next port of call. A few years later, he joined his family’s specialty grocery business in Cambridge. In short order, a family friend introduced him to the real estate business.

At the age of 10, Oliveira immigrated to Canada with his family from Azores. He worked at a company in Cambridge making vinyl for the automotive industry. Eventually, he too joined the promise of the real estate industry.

The pair met at the Re/Max office in Cambridge, where their careers took off.

Louise Stephens
Louise Stephens

Medeiros credits his staff and managers at Re/Max Real Estate Centre for the company’s success. Their broker and manager, Louise Stephens, joined the company in 2014 after 25 years in real estate sales and management, and was nominated Manager of the Year for Re/Max Ontario/Atlantic region in November 2017. She quickly followed it up by bagging the Manager of the Year award for all of Canada in the same year.

In 2014, Stephens got the green light to initiate a new training and mentoring program to benefit Realtors at all levels. “They allowed me the freedom to develop the ‘90-day Commit to Success Challenge’ – an in-house program for new and seasoned Realtors that includes one-to-one coaching, lead generation training, open discussions and accountability,” says Stephens. The program has rolled out across all 16 of their locations, training upwards of 500 agents. “It helped with not only being able to set those agents on their path to success, but also created a huge cultural synergy where agents from different and diverse markets were working with each other,” she says.

The creation of their training program was a defining moment in Stephens’ career, and one of the key differentiators that makes Re/Max Real Estate Centre stand apart from its competitors.

Over the years Medeiros has seen the real estate industry evolve in leaps and bounds. But between then and now, the change that has affected the real estate business the most, he believes, is the impact of technology.

“Back then there used to be MLS books. There was no such thing as social media. Prospecting was done through door knocks and print ads,” he says.

Today, buyers understand pricing well. They are equipped with most of the knowledge they need. “The quality of service has to be that much better,” he says.

Re/Max Real Estate Centre has invested heavily in staff and social media management over the past five years. Most recently, it launched Broker Bay – a cloud-based appointment and scheduling software that acts as a repository of all and any real estate information.

In addition to the 90-day training program, the brokerage is spearheading another coaching program. Realising the potential of video marketing in the industry, the company houses three in-house video studios.

Re/Max Centre’s agents have embraced video. The company plans to house studios in 10 of their 16 locations. “We don’t just give them a space and a green room and ask them to shoot their own video. We help them to get a good-quality video out,” says Medeiros. Then they help agents market that video via social media.

As the company grows on a steady trajectory, Medeiros says his people personality is the perfect yin to Oliveira’s matter-of-fact yang.

“Oliveira is special because his training and systems enable him to sell over 100 houses a year,” he says. While Medeiros is the go-to man for nurturing relationships, agents turn to Oliveira, the company’s broker of record, to tap into his how-to knowledge for dealing with buyers, conducting listings presentations, attending an inspection and understanding lawyers or mortgage brokers.

“He has a lot of systems in place that we can now duplicate and pass on to our agents,” says Medeiros.

Averaging one new location every year since it was formed, Re/Max Real Estate Centre has plans to expand to five new locations within the foreseeable future. Their success indicates that brick-and-mortar brokerages aren’t going out of style any time soon.  Looking back at the naysayers in their past, Medeiros says, “We used the discouragement then as a good motivator. We did what we had to do out of desperation. We knew we had to make it work.”

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Real Estate

5 ways to reduce your mortgage amortization

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Since the pandemic hit, a lot of Canadians have been affected financially and if you’re on a mortgage, reducing your amortization period can be of great help.

A mortgage amortization period is the amount of time it would take a homeowner to completely pay off their mortgage. The amortization is typically an estimate based on what the interest rate for your current term is. Calculating your amortization is done easily using a loan amortization calculator which shows you the different payment schedules within your amortization period.

 In Canada, if you made a down payment that is less than the recommended 20 per cent of the total cost of your home, then the longest amortization period you’re allowed to have is 25 years. The mortgage amortization period not only affects the length of time it would take to completely repay the loan, but also the amount of interest paid over the lifecycle of the mortgage.

Typically, longer amortization periods involve making smaller monthly payments and having a much higher total interest cost over the duration of the mortgage. While on the other hand, shorter amortization periods entails making larger monthly payments and having lower total interest costs.

It’s the dream of every homeowner to become mortgage-free. A general rule of thumb would be to try and keep your monthly mortgage costs as low as possible—preferably below 30 per cent of your monthly income. Over time, you may become more financially stable by either getting a tax return, a bonus or an additional source of income and want to channel that towards your principal.

There are several ways to keep your monthly mortgage payments low and reduce your amortization. Here are a few ways to achieve that goal:

1. Make a larger down payment

Once you’ve decided to buy a home, always consider putting asides some significant amount of money that would act as a down payment to reduce your monthly mortgage. While the recommended amount to put aside as a down payment is 20 per cent,  if you aren’t in a hurry to purchase the property or are more financial buoyant, you can even pay more.

Essentially, the larger your down payment, the lower your mortgage would be as it means you’re borrowing less money from your lender. However, if you pay at least 20 per cent upfront, there would be no need for you to cover the additional cost of private mortgage insurance which would save you some money.

2. Make bi-weekly payments

Most homeowners make monthly payments which amount to 12 payments every year. But if your bank or lender offers the option of accelerated bi-weekly payment, you will be making an equivalent of one more payment annually. Doing this will further reduce your amortization period by allowing you to pay off your mortgage much faster.

3. Have a fixed renewal payment

It is normal for lenders to offer discounts on interest rate during your amortization period. However, as you continuously renew your mortgage at a lower rate, always keep a fixed repayment sum.

Rather than just making lower payments, you can keep your payments static, since the more money applied to your principal, the faster you can clear your mortgage.

4. Increase your payment amount

Many mortgages give homeowners the option to increase their payment amount at least once a year. Now, this is very ideal for those who have the financial capacity to do so because the extra money would be added to your principal.

Irrespective of how small the increase might be, in the long run, it would make a huge difference. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is about $2,752 per month. It would be in your best interest to round it up to $2,800 every month. That way, you are much closer to reducing your mortgage amortization period.

5. Leverage on prepayment privileges

The ability for homeowners to make any form of prepayment solely depends on what mortgage features are provided by their lender.

With an open mortgage, you can easily make additional payments at any given time. However, if you have a closed mortgage—which makes up the larger percentage of existing mortgages—you will need to check if you have the option of prepayments which would allow you to make extra lump sum payments.

Additionally, there may also be the option to make extra lump sum payments at the end of your existing mortgage term before its time for renewal.

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Mortgage insurance vs. life insurance: What you need to know

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Your home is likely the biggest asset you’ll ever own. So how can you protect it in case something were to happen to you? To start, homeowners have a few options to choose from. You can either:

  • ensure you have mortgage protection with a life insurance policy from an insurance company or
  • get mortgage insurance from a bank or mortgage lender.

Mortgage insurance vs. life insurance: How do they each work?  

The first thing to know is that life insurance can be a great way to make sure you and your family have mortgage protection.

The money from a life insurance policy usually goes right into the hands of your beneficiaries – not the bank or mortgage lender. Your beneficiaries are whoever you choose to receive the benefit or money from your policy after you die.

Life insurance policies, like term life insurance, come with a death benefit. A death benefit is the amount of money given to your beneficiaries after you die. The exact amount they’ll receive depends on the policy you buy.

With term life insurance, you’re covered for a set period, such as 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. The premium – that’s the monthly or annual fee you pay for insurance – is usually low for the first term.

If you die while you’re coved by your life insurance policy, your beneficiaries will receive a tax-free death benefit. They can then use this money to help pay off the mortgage or for any other reason. So not only is your mortgage protected, but your family will also have funds to cover other expenses that they relied on you to pay.

Mortgage insurance works by paying off the outstanding principal balance of your mortgage, up to a certain amount, if you die.

With mortgage insurance, the money goes directly to the bank or lender to pay off the mortgage – and that’s it. There’s no extra money to cover other expenses, and you don’t get to leave any cash behind to your beneficiaries.

What’s the difference between mortgage insurance and life insurance?

The main difference is that mortgage insurance covers only your outstanding mortgage balance. And, that money goes directly to the bank or mortgage lender, not your beneficiary. This means that there’s no cash, payout or benefit given to your beneficiary. 

With life insurance, however, you get mortgage protection and more. Here’s how it works: every life insurance policy provides a tax-free amount of money (the death benefit) to the beneficiary. The payment can cover more than just the mortgage. The beneficiary may then use the money for any purpose. For example, apart from paying off the mortgage, they can also use the funds from the death benefit to cover:

  • any of your remaining debts,
  • the cost of child care,
  • funeral costs,
  • the cost of child care, and
  • any other living expenses. 

But before you decide between life insurance and mortgage insurance, here are some other important differences to keep in mind:

Who gets the money?

With life insurance, the money goes to whomever you name as your beneficiary.

With mortgage insurance, the money goes entirely to the bank.

Can you move your policy?

With life insurance, your policy stays with you even if you transfer your mortgage to another company. There’s no need to re-apply or prove your health is good enough to be insured.

With mortgage insurance, however, your policy doesn’t automatically move with you if you change mortgage providers. If you move your mortgage to another bank, you’ll have to prove that your health is still good.

Which offers more flexibility, life insurance or mortgage insurance?

With life insurance, your beneficiaries have the flexibility to cover the mortgage balance and more after you die. As the policy owner, you can choose how much insurance coverage you want and how long you need it. And, the coverage doesn’t decline unless you want it to.

With mortgage insurance through a bank, you don’t have the flexibility to change your coverage. In this case, you’re only protecting the outstanding balance on your mortgage.

Do you need a medical exam to qualify? 

With a term life insurance policy from Sun Life, you may have to answer some medical questions or take a medical exam before you’re approved for coverage. Once you’re approved, Sun Life won’t ask for any additional medical information later on.

With mortgage insurance, a bank or mortgage lender may ask some medical questions when you apply. However, if you make a claim after you’re approved, your bank may ask for additional medical information.* At that point, they may discover some conditions that disqualify you from receiving payment on a claim.

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5 common mistakes Canadians make with their mortgages

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This article was created by MoneyWise. Postmedia and MoneyWise may earn an affiliate commission through links on this page.

Since COVID-19 dragged interest rates to historic lows last year, Canadians have been diving into the real estate market with unprecedented verve.

During a time of extraordinary financial disruption, more than 551,000 properties sold last year — a new annual record, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Those sales provided a desperately needed dose of oxygen for the country’s gasping economy.

Given the slew of new mortgages taken out in 2020, there were bound to be slip-ups. So, MoneyWise asked four of the country’s sharpest mortgage minds to share what they feel are the mistakes Canadians most frequently make when securing a home loan.

Mistake 1: Not having your documents ready

One of your mortgage broker’s primary functions is to provide lenders with paperwork confirming your income, assets, source of down payment and overall reliability as a borrower. Without complete and accurate documentation, no reputable lender will be able to process your loan.

But “borrowers often don’t have these documents on hand,” says John Vo of Spicer Vo Mortgages in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “And even when they do provide these documents, they may not be the correct documentation required.”

Some of the most frequent mistakes Vo sees when borrowers send in their paperwork include:

  • Not including a name or other relevant details on key pieces of information.
  • Providing old bank or pay statements instead of those dated within the last 30 days.
  • Sending only a partial document package. If a lender asks for six pages to support your loan, don’t send two. If you’re asked for four months’ worth of bank statements, don’t provide only one.
  • Thinking low-quality or blurry files sent by email or text will be good enough. Lenders need to be able to read what you send them.

If you send your broker an incomplete documents package, the result is inevitable: Your mortgage application will be delayed as long as it takes for you to find the required materials, and your house shopping could be sidetracked for months.

Mistake 2: Blinded by the rate

Ask any mortgage broker and they’ll tell you that the question they’re asked most frequently is: “What’s your lowest rate?”

The interest rate you’ll pay on your mortgage is a massive consideration, so comparing the rates lenders are offering is a good habit once you’ve slipped on your house-hunter hat.

Rates have been on the rise lately given government actions to stimulate the Canadian economy. You may want to lock a low rate now, so you can hold onto it for up to 120 days.

But Chris Kolinski, broker at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based iSask Mortgages, says too many borrowers get obsessed with finding the lowest rate and ignore the other aspects of a mortgage that can greatly impact its overall cost.

“I always ask my clients ‘Do you want to get the best rate, or do you want to save the most money?’ because those two things are not always synonymous,” Kolinski says. “That opens a conversation about needs and wants.”

Many of the rock-bottom interest rates on offer from Canadian lenders can be hard to qualify for, come with limited features, or cost borrowers “a ton” of money if they break their terms, Kolinski points out.

Mistake 3: Not reading the fine print

Dalia Barsoum of Streetwise Mortgages in Woodbridge, Ontario, shares a universal message: “Read the fine print. Understand what you’re signing up for.”

Most borrowers don’t expect they’ll ever break their mortgages, but data collected by TD Bank shows that 7 in 10 homeowners move on from their properties earlier than they expect.

It’s critical to understand your loan’s prepayment privileges and the rules around an early departure. “If you exit the mortgage, how much are you going to pay? It’s really, really important,” Barsoum says.

She has seen too borrowers come to her hoping to refinance a mortgage they received from a private or specialty lender, only to find that what they were attempting was impossible.

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