One Stop Mortgage Corp Blog


Simple Advice to Avoid Buying the Wrong Home

April 13, 2017

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Saving money over time

The funny part about the things we want in life is sometimes they just don’t line up with the things we need

If you’re a regular here on the One Stop blog, then you’ve probably dabbled in the real estate market before. Whether it’s buying, renting, or selling, chances are you have some experience with moving into or out of a new home. And if you have some experience, you know this market throws curveballs when you least expect it. 

Too broad? 

Ok, try this: if you don’t ask the right questions when pondering one of the biggest purchases of your life, then you’re not going to get the right answers. 



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5 Easy Last Minute Tax Tips to Keep You Sane

April 6, 2017

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Saving money over time

The funny thing about telling people not to panic is that this is then inevitably the first thing they do. Telling people not to panic indicates there is something to panic about. 
So this year, it’s ok to panic. 
Why? Well, you’ve procrastinated once again and tax time is here. The time to relax and chill is over, it’s time to get your taxes done!
I’m half-joking, but the reality is the government doesn’t care how stressed you are. So no matter what state you’re in - utter contentment or full-blown hysteria, here are a few tips to finish your taxes off for another year. 


1. Get Organized

I’ve found the best way to get started is to build an organized work space first and foremost. You’re going to have a million different numbers in your head, so clear your mental and physical space and collect all the documents you’ll need to get this done. 
From your T4 to your mortgage statements to your credit card bills, it’s handy to have everything ready to go. 


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Why You Should Never, Ever Skip a New Home Inspection

March 31, 2017

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Saving money over time

“I can’t actually see past the plastic sheet blocking off the basement any more, but I know it’s a mess down there.”

That’s a friend of mine telling me about the result of a disastrous discovery in his basement this winter. 

Beyond that plastic sheet and into the basement - a place where the family is not supposed to go for any reason - lies a basement in shambles. What started as a routine search for black mold - a search that wasn’t supposed to yield anything - has turned a beautiful new home into a liability. 

“It’s awful,” my friend told me. “Here we are in this awesome new place, and not only can we not enjoy half of it, but the half we are living in doesn’t feel like we should be.”

The family has been told there’s no danger to stay in the house, but that hasn’t alleviated their concerns. Would you stay? 

At least they’re finally getting professional advice.


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4 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Pay Fewer Taxes in Canada

March 24, 2017

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Saving money over time

First off let me apologize - if you’re reading this at the end of March, then it’s probably too late to make significant changes that will impact how much you’re going to be taxed this year. But you already knew that, right? There’s no quick fixes in the financial world. 

Sure, if you get yourself organized you can save money on accountant’s fees or simply by recognizing what you already owe. In other words, the damage is done. 

So while taxes are at the top of your mind, let’s look forward to next year. How are you going to minimize the damage when it comes time to pay your 2018 taxes?


1. Put your Money in a TFSA

A couple weeks ago we talked about the TFSA advantage in Canada, but it deserves repetition. A lot of income earners in the lower mainland - scratch that, everywhere in Canada - have a nasty habit of watching their earnings grow without doing anything. Sure, it’s nice to see that number go up - but you can maximize your income if you invest in a tax free savings account. 


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Self Employed? 4 Tips to Stay Sane at Tax Time

March 17, 2017

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Saving money over time

Self Employed? 4 Tips to Stay Sane at Tax Time

It’s the end of March, the days are getting longer and the birds are chirping. We lost an hour of our lives a couple weekends ago. 

There’s no sense in avoiding the inevitable any more.

It’s time to clean out the garage. 

Oh, and taxes! We don’t have any garage cleaning tips for you because we’re a mortgage and finance blog. Sorry!

What we can help you with is that one night you dedicate to finishing your taxes.  
And yeah, sure, maybe it’s also the night you start your taxes. That’s ok too. No matter how you attack it, if you’re a subcontractor or you’re self employed, the more organized you are the smoother the process will be. But whether you’ve spent time keeping yourself organized throughout the year or you’re going to spend time doing that now, you’re going to need to buckle down and get the job done. 


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4 Ways to Wrap Your Brain Around the TFSA Advantage in Canada

March 10, 2017

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Saving money over time

In a lot of ways, tax free savings accounts have become the optimal jumping off point for Canadians who want to kickstart their savings. Hey, it’s never too early to get started, and everyone likes the sound of tax-free, right?

Absolutely right.

It’s really fairly cut and dry. With a TFSA, Canadians can deposit an annual dollar limit ($5,500 in 2017). We can also contribute extra if we invested less than the maximum in the year previous. So, if you contributed $4,500 in 2016, you’ve got an extra $1,000 to invest this year.

The best part is you don’t have to pay taxes on the interest or any income you earn on your investment. Withdraw the money and you won’t be hit with a fee. Awesome, right? RRSP’s, on the other hand, are tax deductible.

So, you’ve got a TFSA secured and ready to go - now what?


1. Contribute Steadily

The most important tip is to contribute in small amounts over time. Instead of aiming for one large lump sum payment, set up an automatic transfer so you don’t have to think about it.


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3 Common Budget Mistakes Everyone Needs to Knock Off

March 3, 2017

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Saving money over time

There was a box of old receipts I used to sit and watch swell from week to week back when I first started out as a subcontractor. The box sat right beside me at my desk, so it’s not like its consistent growth could have come as much of a surprise. 

Yet I ignored the box. Not “shrug it off, I’ll get to it tomorrow” ignored - I’m talking complete voluntary oblivion as to the box’s purpose. My eyes could see it, but that box of random receipts might as well have been invisible because my conscious brain seemed to block it out like a solar eclipse. 

Ignoring tedious responsibilities is a rite of passage we’ve all succumbed to once in awhile. Whether you’re a freelance writer, a tradesperson, or a mortgage broker, chances are you’ve procrastinated once or twice when you should have been taking action. 

Fact is you’re just putting off the inevitable. 


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3 Ways to Simplify Your Personal Budget (& Save Some Cash)

February 24, 2017

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Saving money over time

In our business, we work with a lot of incredibly intelligent people who know the financial world inside and out. From mortgages to personal investments to renovation loans, we’ve dug deep into the world of financing more times than we can remember.

And still, the following is a surprising revelation: as soon was you mention the word diversify in a space reserved for financial tips, people automatically think of investing.

And sure, diversifying your investments is an interesting, important, and pretty cool topic.

However, more people should be diversifying their personal finances on a regular basis.

Here’s how and why.


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Saving Money After a Money-Spending Year

February 17, 2017

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Saving money over time

When you’ve been working your way through a couple provinces, living in different places along the way and encountering new challenges, you’re bound to learn a few things about the way the real estate world works. 

Now, I leave all the real expertise to the gang in the office at One Stop - I just write about their world the way I see fit. 

One thing I’ve learned about moving, buying homes, and borrowing money, is that it’s rarely a constant steady flow of cash going out.  And that’s a good thing. 

When you start to grow up (I’m still waiting for this to happen to be honest - aren’t we all?), you’re a lot more likely to spend large chunks of money all at once. 

Last year I bought a house...

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Why Are You Waiting to Renovate Your House?

February 10, 2017

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Building a Home

I love a good fixer-upper. 

A few years ago, when I bought my house I was excited and eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work. It’s not like there was a ton to be done, either - floors, paint, kitchen cabinets, bathroom…

Wait, this is turning into quite the list. 

Turns out that my initial excitement after signing the bill of sale paled in comparison to my desire to relax and enjoy my new surroundings. 

So why did I wait to renovate my house?

Sheer laziness. Oh yeah, and I was out of money.


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3 Secrets You Need to Discover Before Building a House

February 3, 2017

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Building a Home

There are a few areas in life where secrets just don’t work. Marriage, your job, marriage again, and real estate. 

Let’s leave the marriage section to the experts and talk about the wonderful world of buying and building homes. We’ve worked with tons of people, unfortunately, over the years who have been burned by nasty secrets in the buying, selling, renting, or borrowing process. 

Why I remember like it was yesterday when I discovered the utility bill in my college apartment would skyrocket come November because the windows were so poorly sealed. So that’s why the rent was so cheap! Well, it sure wasn’t worth it. 

When you’re buying a home, secrets will always rear their ugly heads at some point, - hopefully it’s early enough to help inform your decision-making process. 

And when you’re building a house? There are lots of options for home builders, but no matter where you’re putting down roots, no home owner should suffer because they didn’t dig deep enough to uncover secrets regarding location or builder reputation. 

So let’s start there. 


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Moving this Spring? 3 Reasons to Build a House Instead of Buy

January 27, 2017

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Building a Home

Alright, full disclosure: we’ve been talking about the longer days and milder temperatures in the lower mainland here on the blog for a couple weeks now. These are the dog days of winter whether you’re splashing through the puddles of Vancouver or trudging through the snow of the prairies. 

But no matter where you are, if this is the year you’re picking up and moving to a new home, then it’s time to start considering your options. 

One option people have been taking advantage of for years is building a house instead of buying. Building isn’t for everyone, particularly if you’re on a timeline that simply doesn’t allow you to spend the time and energy on blueprints and builders.

But if you’ve got the will, there’s a way. 


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The Ultimate Distinction to Make When You’re House Hunting

January 20, 2017

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Holiday Bonus

I have a confession to make - I selfishly wanted to be the first to inform you that spring is almost here! It’s the end of January, and in the lower mainland that means temperatures should start rising as the days start to grow a little longer. 

Alright, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, it is still January, but this has been a chillier-than normal winter in Vancouver and I’m pretty sure we’ve all had enough. So what’s the next best thing to actually kicking our feet up on the patio and soaking up the sun? 

Dreaming about it. There’s hope on the horizon! Literally!


Get a Head Start

For plenty of people in the lower mainland, the end of January signals the start of prime house hunting season. Mainly professionals working in the mortgage or realty industry, but if spring 2017 is your turn to buy and move into a new home, then you’re right there with us!

We always believe in getting a headstart. We talk about finances a lot here on the blog, and so much of our budget depends on getting a head start with the planning process and then taking as much time as you need to pay something off or make a big decision. 

Well, fewer decisions are bigger than buying a new home. 


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4 Hard Financial Questions to Ask About 2017

January 13, 2017

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Holiday Bonus

It’s the start of another new year! And with the birth of a new year comes new beginnings, new opportunities, and new questions. Questions like ‘where did all my money go last year?’ and ‘did I spend too much on gifts this Christmas’ and ‘how on Earth am I going to get my beach body ready for the summer?’

These are all valid questions. The problem a lot of us face when January rolls around is we’re overloaded with questions regarding our physical health, our financial well-being, and our overall peace of mind. It’s tough to devote enough mental energy to every pressing issue.

And you know what? That’s ok. You might not have all the answers you want, but no one has all the answers. 

The key is to ask the right questions. Asking questions helps you focus on the things that really matter. 

Like your money. And your waistline. 

So while you’re counting calories for the next month before you hit the gym, hit yourself with some of these important financial questions to get a better idea of your outlook in the year to come. 


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3 New Year's Resolutions for a Healthy Financial Outlook in 2017

January 9, 2017

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Holiday Bonus

By now the tree has been removed, decorations put away for another year, and the brave march has begun toward checking off that peskiest of New Year’s Resolutions: yep, the one involving all those holiday treats. It’s a brave new year and there’s no doubt you’re ready to tackle new challenges while improving on the ones to which you’re already committed. 

So let’s keep this train going. 

Everyone wants to lose weight. We all want to cut back on things like alcohol or junk food. And, perhaps the most popular of resolutions, we all want to live life to the fullest this year. 

But does that carpe diem attitude need to cost money in 2017? 

It sure can, but it doesn’t have to. It’s up to you. We're always talking about ways we can stretch our dollar, but the reality is that if you truly want, wait, need to save money this year, then you’ll make it happen out of necessity. 
With that in mind, here are our choices for the best resolutions driven to maximize your financial health in 2017. 

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5 Normally Expensive But Common New Year’s Resolutions You Can Cheap Out On

December 30, 2016

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Holiday Bonus

Ah, New Year’s. A time of new beginnings and new hope for the prosperous year to come. It’s a great time to dedicate yourself to new resolutions that will make big impacts on your health and happiness.

The problem arrives when you try to pay for these resolutions.

No matter what the resolution is, it always seems like we’re forced to dig deep into our pockets if we want to make any truly important changes. Moreover, the annual tightening of the purse strings that usually happens in late January sabotages even the best of intentions.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to stick to your resolutions without adopting a payment plan that will take until next New Year’s to pay off.

1. Lose Weight

The mother of all New Year’s resolutions is losing weight.


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An Old Christmas Cliche About Money That’s Bang On

December 23, 2016

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Holiday Bonus

When it came time to brainstorm ideas for this year’s Christmas post, I hesitated once I found an idea I really liked. Why? Well, I think half of you will eagerly nod in agreement, while the other half roll their eyes before taking another swig of eggnog.

Both reactions are good!

But I’m nervous about letting the cat out of the bag at this point - I’ve got another 500 words or so to go before I’m willing to let you in on a poorly-kept secret.

So to get us into the proper spirit for this amazing cliché, first let’s take a quick look back at the different stages of the calendar year and how they’ve impact our wallets.


1. Winter

Way back in January and February we were all eager to jump headfirst into another year. Our children were on the back half of the school year, and we were gritting our teeth beneath the dark clouds of another soggy lower mainland winter.

And then a whole bunch of other tough stuff happened in the world in 2016, and suddenly our problems, our bills, our mortgages, didn’t seem that difficult in comparison.

First quarter, check.


2. Spring & Summer

Those thoughts of not taking things for granted quickly evaporated once the rain let up and the sun came out. Why?


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Done Shopping? Time to Build a Budget for Holiday Fun

December 18, 2016

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Holiday Bonus

By now I hope you’ve had the chance to recuperate from another exciting holiday shopping season. You’ve moved on to bigger and better things, like wrapping presents, cleaning the house, and making plans with family and friends.

Oh wait, you’re not done shopping? Well, you can still read this post - think of it as inspiration to finish up.

The holidays are expensive, but it’s not only the shopping that adds up. Food, drinks, travel - all these things can put a huge dent in our credit card bills before the stroke of midnight on New Years’ Eve.

But it’s important to unwind over the holidays, right? We all want to spend some time in a faux reality absent of our regular responsibilities at home and at work. We’ve earned it!

The problem is that while you’re wining and dining beneath the twinkling stars of the dark winter’s night, your ability to pay off your spending habits won’t stay on holidays forever.

So how do we mitigate the damage?


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The Credit-Saving Process to Follow With Each Dollar You Spend This Christmas

December 10, 2016

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Holiday Bonus

It’s a busy day in the mall, which makes sense considering it’s mid December. Although it’s always busy when you’re shopping in the lower mainland, that’s just kinda the way it goes around here.

Depending on how you feel about crowds, you might be feeling a little bit of anxiety as you navigate through the masses. Hopefully you’ve written out a list and you’re checking it twice so you can make it through the mall in one piece.

Except there’s always that one item that catches your eye. We’ve all been guilty from time to time of indulging and picking something up for ourselves while we’re supposed to be shopping for others. It’s just too easy to justify. It’s alright, you tell yourself - I’ve earned it.

Well, through the confusion of the busy shopping centre and the enticement of everything on display, it’s easy - too easy - to lose track of your purchases.


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Ready for Christmas Shopping? How to Stretch Your Holiday Bonus

December 5, 2016

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Holiday Bonus

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!



Riiggghhht? Let’s think about this for a second.

On the one hand, Christmas trees decorate every store window and crowded mall parking lots. Fake snow gently graces flashy displays drawing your eye to everything except the price tag. Cheerful patrons push through crowds of overzealous shoppers determined to get this over and done with.

Alright, I think I’ve covered both sides of the Christmas argument already. While we all love the time off and the opportunity to share some cheer with family and friends, the holidays are a stressful time both for you and your wallet.

Here’s a confession: I love shopping. I like spending money and I like having new stuff. Plus, I like buying new stuff for other people. Seeing their faces light up on Christmas morning or at a 20$ and under Secret Santa party is one of the highlights of the year for me.

But when I say I like spending money, I should clarify: I like spending small amounts of money. So how can we stretch our holiday bonus this year?


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3 Ways to Laugh Intimidation in the Face When You’re Mortgage Hunting

Nov 26, 2016

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Home Renovations

If you’re here, that means you’re probably on the prowl for a new home. Before you do that, you need a mortgage. Before you do that, you need to know how much you can afford. Before you do that …

Look, there’s a lot of moving pieces involved in buying a home, and that’s what usually intimidates people to the point of procrastinating for years or staying out the real estate game all together.

Whoops, referring to real estate as a game probably isn’t helping.

It’s an event. A circumstance. A hurdle.

And the best way to get past your fears?


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Danger! From House Poor to Poor Work-Life Balance in a Flash

Nov 19, 2016

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Home Renovations

It’s financial literacy month in Canada and for the past few weeks we’ve been talking about ways to build a blueprint for financial stability in your house.

No, that blueprint doesn’t include debt shaming, nor does it include restricting yourself to a budget so tight you’d think you were up to your eyeballs in debt.

And hey, maybe you are, and there are a lot of different reasons why that might be the case, but there’s also several different tactics you can use to deal with it. Starving yourself and cutting back on some of life’s small, inexpensive pleasures (like fancy daily coffees, for example), isn’t necessarily a longterm fix.

Note: if you find yourself under extreme stress due to your finances, just know you’re not alone. If you just want to talk about it, give us a call, we’ll steer you in the right direction.

Financial literacy isn’t just about building budgets and counting pennies on all your receipts. Sure, managing your money and accounting for what goes out vs what comes in is important, but being financially literate is deeper than that. Think of the grassroots viewpoint of your financial state. What are you paying for? What can you afford? What do you need in your life?


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Why the Cold November Rain is Actually the Best Thing For Your Money Saving Woes

Nov 14, 2016

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Home Renovations

Before you pick up a pen can you do the entire neighbourhood a favour? Get your jack-o-lantern off the front stoop and into the compost bin. Forgot about it, didn’t you? It’s ok, it happens. In fact, November is a month where it’s easy to forget a lot of things. It’s ironic, because it’s the month we recognize Remembrance Day. Giving silent thanks to our fallen soldiers comes with the recognition that we’re free to make choices, to live the way we’d like, and to raise our families how we see fit.

Our freedom is something we often take for granted.

Wait, actually, it’s more accurate to say that our freedom is something we forget.

We occasionally forget to pay our bills (I have one on my desk that’s been staring me in the face for a week), we forget to pack our lunch, and we forget to make healthy food choices. We all have a lot going on, from family to work to everything in between. This Remembrance Day, remind yourself of the choices you’ve been empowered to make because of the sacrifices of our nation’s soldiers.

One of our favourite pastimes is making decisions with the turn of another calendar year. New Year’s creeps up on us all, so I’m here to remind you that the time to publish your New Year’s resolutions is now, not January 1st. Why?


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Why the Time is Now to Write Down Your New Year’s Resolutions

Nov 4, 2016

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Home Renovations

Before you pick up a pen can you do the entire neighbourhood a favour? Get your jack-o-lantern off the front stoop and into the compost bin. Forgot about it, didn’t you? It’s ok, it happens. In fact, November is a month where it’s easy to forget a lot of things. It’s ironic, because it’s the month we recognize Remembrance Day. Giving silent thanks to our fallen soldiers comes with the recognition that we’re free to make choices, to live the way we’d like, and to raise our families how we see fit.

Our freedom is something we often take for granted.

Wait, actually, it’s more accurate to say that our freedom is something we forget.

We occasionally forget to pay our bills (I have one on my desk that’s been staring me in the face for a week), we forget to pack our lunch, and we forget to make healthy food choices. We all have a lot going on, from family to work to everything in between. This Remembrance Day, remind yourself of the choices you’ve been empowered to make because of the sacrifices of our nation’s soldiers.

One of our favourite pastimes is making decisions with the turn of another calendar year. New Year’s creeps up on us all, so I’m here to remind you that the time to publish your New Year’s resolutions is now, not January 1st. Why?

Mid November represents a lull in the year for many people. School is humming along for your children and work usually slows down (hopefully). On January 1st? Just the opposite. The only real resolution people make after New Year’s is to lay off the alcohol and food, since that’s all we’ve been focused on for two weeks at that point. Consider the year you’ve had and the choices you’ve made. Maybe your resolutions will still involve weight loss, but now’s the time when you can be a little more realistic about your goals.


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Why Halloween is a Realtor’s Best Friend

October 31, 2016

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Home Renovations

Have you ever found yourself back at the office during non-work hours? It’s kind of a fun feeling, no? Being around your regular work habitat without any tasks begging for your attention?

What if you don’t work in an office? The first thought that always comes to my mind in the discussion about cool offices are ship captains. If you spend your days ferrying people to and from the lower mainland, then you probably know a lot about boats. I’d bet you have some pretty cool information you could share with the layman on a fishing trip or casual excursion out on the water in a smaller boat.

Well, that’s what Halloween is like for realtors.


Subject Matter Expertise

We work with a fantastic group of experienced realtors on a daily basis, and it’s always interesting to get their insight when Halloween rolls around.

Which house on your block attracts the most attention? Either positive or negative?

This is all a realtor thinks about when they walk through residential neighbourhoods.

Would my client like this place? What about that one? Ooh, that house has a nice clean yard, I know a client looking for this exact setup.

So on Halloween, it’s like a free product knowledge gathering trip up and down the block.

That’s why Halloween is a realtor’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily enjoy the work.


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3 Crucial Curb Appeal Steps to Take Before Halloween

October 24, 2016

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Home Renovations

It’s the most exciting day of the year! No, it’s not tax deadline day 2016 (that sure was exciting, wasn’t it?) - it’s Halloween! Not only is All Hallow’s Eve the best time of year to get your kids all cranked up on sugar and chocolate, it’s also a super secret way to show off your home to potential buyers in your area.

Who among us hasn’t strolled through the neighbourhood after dinner admiring the curb appeal of our neighbours’ homes? Well, think of Halloween as an easy way to either catch a fortuitous visitor to your front step, or merely as a means to test your home’s curb appeal. After all, a house admired by your peers - moms and dads dreading the impending sugar crash guaranteed to hit a couple hours later on - is a house you can be proud of too.


Step 1. Deal With The Leaves

The fall conditions here in the lower mainland are strikingly different from those in Edmonton, Alberta where I grew up. Can you imagine shovelling snow right now? For our readers in Northern Alberta and beyond, I’m sorry for bringing this up.

But at least snow has some visual appeal. Leaves? Nuh uh.

Hidden treat: rake your leaves into a couple gigantic piles and plant Halloween decorations inside. I recommend zombie arms.


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Halloween Is Close! Will Trick or Treaters Avoid Your Home Like the Plague?

October 14, 2016

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Home Renovations

It’s a fun and frightening time of year for little ghosts and goblins throughout Vancouver, but it’s even more frightening for their parents. We’re all a pillowcase filled with candy away from a real-life nightmare that will leave us all scarred for life.

Yes, I’m talking about a sugar rush.

But before we have to worry about the repercussions from our children scarfing down a year’s worth of candy in one night, someone in your house is probably going to stick around home on the 31st to hand out treats and hopefully avoid tricks. Halloween is one of the coolest and most unique traditions of the year, but if you’re thinking about selling your home, it’s also a sneaky way to test your home’s value.

And Halloween is all about being sneaky.


Just How Much Curb Appeal Does Your Home Have?

I have terrifying memories of trick or treating at houses that belonged in horror movies. And no, that’s not a good thing. I love a good scare as much as anyone, and children dressed up in superhero costumes aren’t scared by much, but if a child legitimately avoids your home like the plague? Then you’ve either gone overboard on the decorations, or your house’s curb appeal leaves something to be desired.

People are going to be walking by your house for a few hours on the 31st, so it’s a great chance to put your home to the test.


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Why The Fall is the Best Time of Year to Go House Hunting

October 11, 2016

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Home Renovations

This morning I stepped outside to let the dog out and I was greeted with a bittersweet environment. The trees were green and the sky was clear with just a little bit of mist descending from the peaks of Burnaby Mountain. It was absolutely gorgeous - the mixture of the scenery and the crisp air was instantly refreshing.

But the dog didn’t follow me outside.

It’s cold today!


The Reality of Nature

The lower mainland has a fantastically liveable climate, but there’s no question that when the leaves start to fall in the autumn months, the humidity in the air has a significant bite. It’s fresh and pretty outside, but that frigid air seems to climb right into your bones, even though it’s only a couple degrees colder than it was yesterday.

It’s not that bad - after all, I grew up in Edmonton and the dog eventually followed me outside - but it’s enough of a reminder that no matter where you live, you’re going to be faced with cons as well as pros.


Summer House Hunting

Did you spend any time perusing the housing market in the summer?

Everything looks and feels perfect beneath the heat of the bright summer sun. Every patio can be upgraded, every outdoor space can be enjoyed, and every window offering natural light is a...


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3 Big Questions to Ask When You’re Hunting for a Mortgage

Sept 30, 2016

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Home Renovations

There’s a brief moment of bliss between choosing to purchase a new home and the moment you realize all the steps that are required to get the keys. There’s no way to sugarcoat it - getting a mortgage requires some time and effort, although it doesn’t have to be complicated.

When we first hear from new clients looking for a mortgage, we ask questions. We dig deeper to make sure we can find the right fit. This works on our end, but today I thought we’d remove some of the stress of finding a mortgage through a little knowledge and a lot of empowerment.

You’ve got the power to guide the process, you just need to ask the right questions.


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3 Ways to Save Money During the Annual Silly Season

Sept 23, 2016

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Home Renovations

How can you tell the silly season has arrived?

Well, for our neighbours in Edmonton and Calgary, you can count on the leaves not only shifting from green to red, orange, and yellow, but the fact the ground is blanketed by a sheen of frosty dew each morning is an easy tip off as well.

Here in Vancouver, the traffic starts to calm down a little bit - alright that’s not true at all. People are busier than ever all over the country adjusting to new schedules surrounding school for the kids and extra responsibilities for the adults.

So now that we know without a doubt how to recognize the annual silly season that takes hold every year around mid September, what does it mean?

It means winter is coming. It also means expenses are coming.


1. Cooking at Home

We’re all about saving money here at One Stop, and there’s nothing that contributes more to a frugal budget while also adding some....


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A Vital Step You Can't Miss in the Borrowing Process

Sept 16, 2016

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Home Renovations

A couple weeks ago I missed a payment. I know, I’m on here preaching constantly about the value of paying off bills and credit card debt as soon as possible.

But you know what? I completely forgot. With the action surrounding back to school season and gearing up for another busy winter, I must have missed a notification or an automated reminder telling me to pay up.

Fortunately it’s an easy mistake to correct quickly, but for someone who takes these types of payments quite seriously, this is an embarrassing, frustrating mistake.

How do I justify it?

I don’t. But sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes things get missed.


Our Brains Would Rather Ignore Our Finances

When life gets busy and you’re having fun it’s easy to miss the things you’d rather not think about anyways.

  1. Car payments
  2. Mortgages
  3. Utility bills


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How to Invest Your Money When You Have None

Sept 9, 2016

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Home Renovations

Does anyone else remember staring at the piggy bank on the shelf when they were a kid? Mainly how it was slowly collect dust from week to week?

Sure, maybe you had an allowance of 25 cents a week like I did (no, this wasn’t the 1940’s), but I learned the hard way that when you’re obsessed with comic books and ice cream then those earnings go out the door as quickly as they come in.

Well, as an adult, not much has changed, except cool things like ice cream and 5 cent candies have been replaced by vehicle and credit card payments. It all still goes out as quickly as it comes in.

So how do we build a savings plan into our lives when everything is accounted for?


Treat Your Savings Like a Bill

When we work on exit strategies with our clients, we help them set up payment plans so everything is structured and scheduled. Want to save money on your own? Commit to the plan. Whether you’re investing in mutual funds or your RSP, set up a recurring payment plan and stick to it.

The real benefit of paying into your investments like they’re bills is pretty soon you’ll forget you’re actually holding on to money that’s not spoken for. When it comes to bills like utilities and vehicles, you’re generally not getting that money back.

With investments, however, you will eventually.


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4 Simple Cures for Financial Stress

August 26, 2016

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Home Renovations

For a lot of our customers in the lower mainland, in Edmonton, Calgary, and throughout the areas of BC and Alberta we serve, the most natural state of consciousness when it comes to your financial situation is stress.

Actually, that’s not confined strictly to One Stop customers. No matter where you are in the world, what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, stressing over your finances is a lot easier than not stressing.

Here’s the truth: it’s a minuscule percentage of the population that doesn’t need to worry about their money. Heck, even the people who don’t need to worry still do so.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about you.

When was the last time you felt truly comfortable with the state of your financial affairs? Hard to remember? Well, I’m here to tell you that the best way to avoid thinking about money is to, wait for it, think about your money.


1. Prioritizing

Everything in our lives requires varying levels of concentration. The idea for this post began when I started thinking about the thousands of lower mainland students...


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That Blissful Feeling When You Haven’t Spent Money in Weeks

August 19, 2016

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Home Renovations

It’s the middle of the summer here in the lower mainland and from wherever you might be reading. These are the real dog days of summer - the pace slows down, we spend more time reading, relaxing, and simply living.

And for a lot of us, it’s a time of relative low spending.

Sure, we still have responsibilities requiring our attention. Paying the bills early, keeping the car gassed up, and picking up groceries. (Seriously, we need food again? How much do these people eat?)

However, aside from those expenses, it’s nice to sit back and bask in the glory that is an inactive wallet.


Summer Renovation Projects

The idea for this post was actually born earlier in the summer. I was hard at work on renovations and I told myself I’d write about how great it felt once the project was over and done with for a few weeks.

Turns out that feeling is even nicer than I expected.


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5 Expenses to Prepare for When September Rolls Around

August 12, 2016

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Home Renovations

As I started working on this post, I briefly considered making a wide-sweeping statement about my audience (you, reading this post) or painting everyone with just one brush. Today I wanted to talk about the expenses that are laying in wait just around the corner, but the simple truth is that there’s no way to list all the different circumstances affecting the lives of all our readers.

Sure, we do all have a couple things in common when it comes to summer spending habits:

  1. We probably spent too much money this summer
  2. Our lives will change at least a little bit in September
  3. We’re probably sad to see the summer end*


That last one comes with an asterisk because if you’re the parent of a preteen, you’re probably thrilled that school is almost here!

So let’s start with that one, since it’s the most obvious.


1. Back to School!

While you’re jumping up and down with glee, your children and your wallet are cringing. A couple weeks ago we talked about a few ways to save money

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The Top 4 Types of One Stop Success Stories

August 5, 2016

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Home Renovations

Most people have a standard explanation when prompted for their line of work. “What do you do?” usually results in a casual explanation of one’s industry or daily responsibilities. I’ve always wondered about that exchange; why are we selling ourselves short when we explain our career path?

With that in mind, I was thinking about the work here at One Stop. Working in the mortgage industry means its easy to fall into the same trap. “I’m a mortgage broker,” or “I arrange home equity loans”, and “debt consolidation.”


That’s usually where the conversation stops, right?

Well, while we might cover those corners of the mortgage market, it’s a lot more important to talk about the why and the who as opposed to halting on the what.

On twitter, we share weekly success stories that describe the people behind the business. Who they are, where they’re from, and why they’re looking for funding.

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Save On These Two Back to School Expense by Starting Early

July 29, 2016

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Home Renovations

So, this week’s post and last week both deal with pretty harsh realities: the end of summer and the corresponding horror that is the back to school season.

Horror for students only, mind you. It’s pure paradise for parents, right?

Well, yes and no.

Back to school is a double-edged sword for parents everywhere. On one hand, your children aren’t going to be lying around the house all day craving attention and stimulation. So that’s a bonus.

On the other hand, children grow like weeds, so you need to prepare for a financial hit. We trust you’ve budgeted everything out responsibly.

What are your kids going to need when they head back to school?


It might be easy to find back to school clothes if your children didn’t care what they wore to school, but we all know that this simply isn’t reality. Nope, kids want the latest fashion trends because they want to keep up with their peers.

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4 Ways to Cut Down On Your Summer Expenses

July 22, 2016

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Home Renovations

It’s right around this point in the summer that people start slowing down a little bit. Wedding season is dying down (hopefully), backyard BBQ ’s have run their course, and if there was a vacation to be had, it’s over and all we’re left with is reality.

Cold, empty-pocketed reality.

While you’re counting your credit card bills and gas receipts, you’re probably ready to put what little money you have left in your freezer where it will be safe.

The problem is that life goes on in all it’s penny-pinching glory. Here are a few ways to slow down your high-rolling ways before school starts in September while also feeding yourself.


1. Stay Home On Friday Night Like Everybody Else

Instead of taking in a night out on the town complete with expensive dinners, expensive movies, and real expensive drinks, just spark up the ol’ Netflix and grill up some of your famous burgers. Summertime entertainment comes with a price tag, but if you’ve got a comfy living space at home that everyone can enjoy, then spend some more free time doing nothing. Sounds amazing, right?


2. Watch Your Grocery Bill

I’m guilty of overspending when it comes to shopping for groceries, mostly because I’m lazy and there’s a million other things I’d rather be doing. Things that probably cost money!

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Part 3: How to Enjoy the Pacific Northwest This Summer

July 15, 2016

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Home Renovations

There’s nothing like the feeling of cruising on a coastal highway with the windows rolled down, the music blaring, and the soft sea breeze rapping lightly on your skin.

Especially when you have one of those cars with movies and headphones built right into the seats so the kids are satisfied, too. We didn’t have anything like that back in the day, did we? No, we settled for a book or good ol’ fashioned looking out the window.

This is the third part in a series of posts about inexpensive summer holidays.

Well, now we actually enjoy looking out the window. From the scenic highways north of Squamish, BC and all the way down to the quirky city of Seattle, there’s no shortage of roads, both literal and figurative, to explore in the Pacific Northwest this summer.

So come along with us on a summer road trip to end all summer road trips: from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver to Seattle and all the way up to Whistler and beyond.



Once you’ve cleared the border, the drive from BC through the northwestern-most point of the USA feels like a jailbreak. Tall trees, clear highway (well, maybe it’s not clear, but it will be fast), and plenty of stops along the way for snacks.

One of my favourite spots on the way to Seattle is Anacortes and Hidalgo Island. The southern tip of this stretch is actually an island of its own, Whidbey Island, a secluded getaway home to plenty of vacation and retirement homes. We found a cheap house to rent for a weekend last summer that was right on the ocean.

Though truth be told, we spent a lot more time simply watching the water instead of actually swimming in it.



Two or three hours from Vancouver (depending on the border) rests the city of Seattle. I use the word rests because Seattle feels like someone simply laid it out over the rocky hills and inlets of the pacific northwest. It’s a busy city, but if you can find a hotel downtown that’s near the water, then you won’t have any real reason to drive around once you’ve arrived.

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One Simple Tip to Use a Line of Credit Responsibly

July 08, 2016

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Home Renovations

As the rain and dreary grey skies of the lower mainland winter subsided a couple months ago, so too did the attitudes and motivations of the inhabitants of all the various types of dwellings in the region.

People with large detached homes began to emerge from their winter’s sleep. Condo owners opened their windows to a bright new future and the spring sun. Acreage dwellers initially got excited, then worried about the amount of work facing them, then excited again when they remembered how good it would all look upon completion.

Yes, everyone is happy that summer is finally here. For a lot of people, however, the only thing that’s not happy is our wallets.

Summer is expensive.


Why Do We Spend Money in the Summer?

During the winter we get caught up in different activities like sports or school events. It’s easy to get exhausted both physically and mentally - we desire less activity and we find fewer things to spend our money on.

When summer rolls around, however, the world kicks into fast gear. Family events, summer entertainment, renovations, new clothes, summer vacations - the list goes on and on.

Why, in the last three months I’ve bought a new vehicle and renovated an entire floor of my home - literally, we ripped out the carpet and installed vinyl floors (on our own, of course, to save money, not to say anything of saving sanity). We were smart about our purchases, but these things still add up.

And truthfully, the easiest way to cover the expenses was with a small line of credit.


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Part 2: Road Trip! 4 Ways to Save Money on Your Summer Vacation

July 4, 2016

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Home Renovations

Summer has arrived! School is finishing up for the kids and hopefully you’re gearing up to take a well-earned vacation.

There’s lots of options out there, but whether you live here in the lower mainland or out east in Edmonton, Calgary, or beyond, there’s a special Canadian tradition that I intend to take full advantage of this summer.

The summer road trip.

This is the second part in a series of posts about inexpensive summer holidays.

There’s nothing better than rolling the windows down, pumping some tunes, and setting out to explore a portion of our beautiful country. Plus, embarking on a road trip for summer vacation makes it easy to keep your trip in check budget-wise.

Here’s how to save a few extra bucks when you’re out on the road this summer.


1. You’re Already On It: Driving Instead of Flying

I never really understood why people take expensive flights to hot climates in the summer - it was 30 degrees in the shade in Vancouver yesterday! So the mere fact that you’re using your time off to take a road trip means you’re already saving money on some well-earned R & R.


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Part 1: 3 Ways to Enjoy a Cheap & Amazing Vacation This Canada Day

June 24, 2016

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Home Renovations

I knew I’d fallen asleep because the sun was much closer to the horizon than it should have been. I was laying on the banks of a chilly glacier lake in Montana’s Waterton National Park. Apparently the three-hour trek had taken its toll on my mates as well, because they were fast asleep on the rocks beside me.

This is the first part in a series of posts about inexpensive summer holidays.

I remember taking my time to relish the moment. Compared with a busy city, this little slice of paradise was relatively untouched. The still waters of the lake let me drift off to another reality, though in truth, there was nowhere else I’d rather have been.

And the good news is that it hardly cost anything to get there.


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Why the Definition of Discretionary vs. Disposable Income Doesn’t Actually Matter

June 17, 2016

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Home Renovations

Whenever a traditional statement or phrase undergoes a structural shift in how it’s presented, I automatically lend a curious ear.

When I was in high school, we were often taught about the value of disposable income. Depending on the type of job, let’s say Job X, you secured after university, you were likely to have X amount of disposable income. With Job Y, Y disposable income would be guaranteed. Make sense?

Yeah, it barely made sense then either. We were told to set our sights on the amount of money we’d be able to throw away at the end of the day and then fill in the career blanks afterward.

Discretionary income essentially uses the same meaning as disposable income. It’s the amount of money we have to spend after paying for necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. It’s what we spend on vehicles. Furniture. Restaurants. The problem with disposable income is that it paints people into a corner. We live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth - the income we spend on exploring the mountains or the ocean isn’t disposable. It’s not as if we were ever throwing this money away.


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The Pros & Cons of DIY Summer Renovation Projects

June 10, 2016

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Home Renovations

It always starts with such a burst of enthusiastic ambition. When it comes to summer renovations, nothing teases our aesthetic taste buds more than perusing well-decorated show-rooms and professional designs in the living room, bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. “I can have floors that look like this!” Of course you can, but there’s a large chunk, an important detail, that’s usually not included in finished room samples: the work involved.

Pro: Cost.
The biggest reason to take care of your summer renovations is the cost. When you’re on a budget but desperately in need of new laminate flooring or a fresh paint job, it’s easy to justify the cost of the materials because the biggest cost is the labour required, which you’re avoiding. If you can finish the job on your own, you’ll save plenty.

Con: Work.
But, you have to finish the job own your own. As you’ll shortly discover, contractors who’ve made a living installing drywall, framing basements, or tiling bathrooms make that living for a reason. It can be hard, intricate, skilled work, and there’s no guarantee the finished product will look anything like the vision in your head.


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Thinking of Doing the Landlord Thing? Be Careful!

June 3, 2016

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Calgary Landlord mortgages

I know exactly where I was when I received the call. No, it wasn’t a call about a family member’s failing health or a natural disaster, so there’s perspective to be applied here, but it was still an expensive call.

The call informed me of over $10,000 in damage in my rental property back in my hometown. I’d moved away a couple years previous, and everything had gone smoothly with my first tenant.

Now, the current tenant had left a window open in the middle of winter (in Edmonton), a pipe froze, broke, and had caused an estimated 10K in damages to my condo and the one on the floor below.

What followed was a two year nightmare dealing with insurance companies, condo boards and, yes, the police.

Because of course, after flooding the building and failing to pay rent for 3 months, the tenant refused to leave.

Like I said, a nightmare.


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4 Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Business

May 27, 2016

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4 Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Business

The reasons why people choose to go into business for themselves are as vast as the range of business-related expenses you’ll soon incur to help out when tax season rolls around.

  1. You’re following your dreams
  2. You’ve got a unique product or service to sell
  3. You inherited the family business
  4. It’s your only option

Starting a business is a magical, life-changing event. We work with plenty of self-employed contractors, restaurant owners and entrepreneurs looking for funds to kickstart their business. We love to help during this important stage of starting a business.

Part of getting your company off the ground is asking the right questions before you quit your job in a blaze of glory.


Questions such as:

1. What Are the Pros & Cons?

Running your own company because you want to set your own hours could come back to bite you. Sure, it’s great to be your own boss, but you might be surprised to learn that your new boss is more demanding than any boss you’ve ever had.


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The 1 Secret Ingredient to Improve Your Credit

May 20, 2016

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The 1 Secret Ingredient to Improve Your Credit

Every week over at the One Stop twitter channel we share three success stories. These stories range from people who obtained funds to purchase a home to retirees looking for travel money to small business entrepreneurs.

Every situation is different. Some people are in a financial crunch because of a sudden illness. Others are up to their eyeballs in payments from credit cards, vehicles and yes, their homes.

When we share the success stories, one of the first things people look at is the credit scores of the individuals involved. It’s a cycle: weak credit leads to a lack of control over large purchases, but it’s often large purchases and failing to keep with up with the payments that leads to bad credit.

Well, there’s a secret ingredient to improve your credit that we preach to our clients all the time.

But first, what are a couple not-so-secret credit-improving ingredients?


Pay Your Bills

Whether it’s taxes, your phone bill or your mortgage, if a bill comes through the door, the best way to deal with it is to deal with it.



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How To Get Over A Difficult Date With a Collections Agency

May 13, 2016

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How To Get Over A Difficult Date With a Collections Agency

Have you ever been so bogged down with debt that every phone call makes you quiver with anxiety? Living in fear of a collection agency’s phone call is no way to operate, but it’s an unfortunate reality people are forced to deal with when financial problems rear their ugly head.

Financial difficulty is a dark cloud that looms over every aspect of your life when you’re subjected to its shadow. Behind on bills, payments or falling into a deep rut of poor credit can happen for a massive range of reasons.

  1. Sudden illness
  2. Loss of employment
  3. Family responsibilities


These are only a couple that we deal with on a regular basis. Regardless of the reason for financial difficulty, nervously awaiting that first call from collections is agonizing.

Whew, heavy material today on the blog. It’s not our intention to cast a shadow on what promises to be a beautiful summer here in the lower mainland, but for people avoiding that phone call, it doesn’t matter how bright the sun shines outside.


Accept Responsibility

If a collections call is around the corner, then the first step to getting past this unfortunate reality is...


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The 5 Key Benefits of a Tax Free Savings Account for the Self Employed

May 06, 2016

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The 5 Key Benefits of a Tax Free Savings Account for the Self Employed

Here at One Stop, a good chunk of our customers are cut from the freelance cloth. We work with general contractors, restauranteurs, and entrepreneurs from every walk of life. Their work is demanding, with long hours and the toughest boss imaginable.

The boss looking back in the mirror each morning.

We have a lot of admiration for people who choose the self employed lifestyle, so we do our best to help when reality inevitably sets in.

You see, it’s not all perks like setting your own schedule and choosing a wage you want to make - you have to put in the prerequisite work to qualify for those perks.

One major disadvantage, or advantage, depending on your perspective, of being self employed comes during tax season. Employees in Canada are docked a certain amount from their pay cheques every week to cover federal and provincial taxes, not to mention your CPP. So at the end of the fiscal year, employees have some work to do to organize their taxes, just not nearly as much as the workload of a subcontractor.

If you’re self employed, the month of April was probably spent organizing receipts and expenses. Expenses incurred as a result of one’s business can be written off. It takes a lot of extra work, but the more eligible expenses uncovered, the less the freelancer will need to pay the government.

Enter the TFSA.


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Interview with David Babalucco Senior Tax Manager at Rolf Benson Tax Firm Part 2

April 29, 2016

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Interview with David Babalucco Senior Tax Manager at Rolf Benson Tax Firm Part 2

Today we publish part two of our interview with David Babalucco, a senior tax advisor at the firm Rolf Benson. David is a busy guy this week - wait, this quarter - but he was nice enough to offer us some insight into the life of a tax manager and some of the tips we can use throughout the year to stay organized.

Here’s part two:

Kelvin: Do you have a particular type of client you’re focused on? What are some of the common aspects of your more successful clients?

David: I do, the bulk of my clientele are owners and managers of businesses which are usually incorporated. With that usually comes personal, corporate and estate planning, so while I’m working with companies, there’s still personal distinctions. The more successful clients are motivated and creative. Some are stronger on one side while some are stronger on the other. They may be motivated but lack creativity.


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Interview with David Babalucco Senior Tax Manager at Rolf Benson Tax Firm Part 1

April 22, 2016

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Interview with David Babalucco Senior Tax Manager at Rolf Benson Tax Firm (part 1)

When it comes to your career, at what point in the year do you hit the home stretch? When does your job count the most and stand do the best for the most people?

For people working in the tax industry, the stretch from the beginning of March until the end of June is kind of like the lead-up to Christmas.

“Well, I wouldn’t say Christmas necessarily.” That’s David Babalucco, a senior tax advisor with the firm Rolf Benson.

“It’s the busiest time of year, so it does have that in common with Christmas. It’s important to approach the stretch with a game plan.”

David was generous enough to offer up some of his time (during a point in which he has basically none to give), so I caught up with him to get some tips and tricks for tax season.


Kelvin: It’s a challenging time of year on your side of the table. What are some of the key elements you need to cross off your clients’ lists?

David: You bet, it is challenging, but it’s really like the rock star part of the year for tax accountants. This is what it all comes down to, the compliance deadlines, personal deadlines, trust and corporate deadlines...


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4 Realities of Buying a Home in Edmonton

April 15, 2016

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4 Realities of Buying a Home in Edmonton

We’re based in Vancouver, East Van specifically, but here at One Stop, we’re proud to business all over Western Canada. From Richmond to Powell River, Cranbrook to Lethbridge, Red Deer to Edmonton, we’re helping more and more people buy homes, consolidate their debt, and make large purchases every year.

One of our hottest markets last year was the city of Edmonton. Edmonton is an interesting place - located in the middle of Alberta, it’s within driving distance of one of the most important energy hubs anywhere in the world: Fort McMurray. However, with the downturn in the cost of oil in the past year, more and more people are finding themselves out of work and in search of solutions.

Once the economy straightens out, Edmonton is poised for another boom as workers once again flock to the oil-rich sands of Northern Alberta. So whether you’re buying a home in Edmonton for work or family, it’s important to paint a clear picture of Alberta’s capital city.


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Why Do Foreign Investors Choose Vancouver?

April 8, 2016

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Why Do Foreign Investors Choose Vancouver?

“As a market, Vancouver is a mash-up. She is the focus of much international attention but the local market finds this unsettling.”

That’s Sonny Wong in an article for BC’s chapter of the Huffington Post. For Mr. Wong, it’s important for people working in the real estate industry as well as its partners to understand the reasons for the influx of Asian investment in Vancouver before the local populace condemns the rising cost of a single family home.

It’s an unfortunate refrain that’s just a little bit embarrassing for a multicultural country like Canada, but the fact is that buyers from China purchased about one third of Vancouver’s housing inventory in 2015, and local buyers are casting blame as prices soar.

Let’s take a step back for a second. If you could live anywhere in the world, what would your list of priorities look like?


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4 Free & Easy Ways to Organize Your Taxes

April 1, 2016

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There’s something about the spring that makes everything seem so much more relaxed when compared with the rest of the year.

Is this just a natural byproduct of the longer days, the extra sunlight, and the warm grass between our toes?

Sure, that’s part of it, but want to know the real reason we feel better in the spring?

Because we do more.

We walk more. We spend more time engaging in physical activity outside. Aside from recreation, we also do more things around the house. We clean, we arrange, we organize. Getting stuff done might not sound exciting, but the feeling of accomplishment we receive when the work is done is worth it.

Taxes are a big hurdle, no question about it. But instead of worrying about your taxes this spring, think about how good you’ll feel once they’re checked off your list.

Here’s a couple ways to make the process more seamless than ever this year.


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4 Reasons Why Chinese Investment in the Lower Mainland is a Good Thing

March 24th, 2016

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4 Reasons Why Chinese Investment in the Lower Mainland is a Good Thing

There’s a lot of debate on the airwaves regarding investment in Vancouver these days, and rightfully so. Whenever the conversation surrounds money and investment, people are naturally going to be passionate about their opinion.

“The notion that foreign capital, especially absentee foreign capital, is to blame for Vancouver’s high house prices is by now established popular wisdom.”

That’s Andrew Coyne in an article for the Vancouver Sun written in January of 2016.

While Coyne acknowledges the conditions that have fed this belief - soaring house prices that see the average value of a detached home in Vancouver exceed $1.2 million - he believes offshore investment truly only affects homes in the supreme high end of the value spectrum, and not the entire market.

With that in mind, here’s four reasons why we believe in the benefits of foreign investment in the lower mainland.

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3 Unnecessary Hoops Foreign Investors Have to Jump Through

When you go out for lunch with the team at your office, does the conversation usually circle right back to subjects relating to work, even though you specifically went to a different location in an attempt to switch things up?

Happens to us too.

You can imagine the scene earlier this week when we ventured to our favourite lunch spot in East Vancouver, the world famous Tacofino Commissary on Hastings. Sure, we started off talking about sports and our kids, but sure enough, within a few minutes we were engaged in a heated debate about foreign investment.

(Stay tuned for next week’s post: Why Chinese Investment is Actually a Good Thing for Vancouver.)

We believe strongly in introducing new revenue into the lower mainland economy. It’s where we live, it’s where we eat lunch, and it’s where our friends and family stand to benefit from the increased cash flow.


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5 Ways to Make the Most of Spring Renovation Projects

Keep your eyes closed so you don’t ruin the surprise. Just one second, I’ll open the door to the yard, watch your step. I know your nose probably knows what’s going on, but just wait a moment longer. Now, breathe in deeply - exhale, and - open your eyes…

Spring is here!

Birds are chirping, each day is longer than the one before it, and the earth is a warmer, happier place to be!

So now what? Renovate? Good idea!

Spring is the most popular time to renovate because the entire planet is being reborn. Grass is growing, flowers are blooming - it’s natural to want to create something special inside your house while the magic unfolds outside your house.

Plus, it’s a lot nicer to haul drywall inside while the sun is shining.

Here are a couple tips to make your renovation project legendary.


What Are Your Goals?

Before you hammer your first nail, it’s important to have a firm grasp on why you’re renovating. Whenever you’re spending money, it’s a good idea to be on the same page because costs always fluctuate over the lifespan of projects such as these.


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6 Realities of Life in the Lower Mainland

We all have stories of financial hardship. The discrepancies from case to case are the circumstances by which we’re subjected to those hardships. Family illness, falling behind on bills, job loss.

You know what? You’re not alone. If you live in Vancouver or in the area, you live next to someone else who’s had to find a creative way to make ends meet. That’s a reality we’re affecting all of us.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Here’s a few more common elements with which everyone living on BC’s southwest coast faces:


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Picture yourself driving along one of British Columbia’s picturesque highways - which is easy because they’re all picturesque. We live in one of the most beautiful corners of the planet. British Columbia is built on nearly one million square kilometres of forest, mountain and open plain. We’re fortunate if we call any spot of real estate in BC home.

One of the great things about our province is the choice available to us when it comes time to set down roots. And even once we do set down those roots, the journey is free to continue anywhere through BC.

The lights and action of one of Canada’s largest cities? Vancouver has you covered. A blue collar community built on the construction, forestry, and manufacturing? Prince George is the city for you. A quiet life filled with all the outdoors has to offer? Try Nelson, Enderby or any one of a hundred locations nestled on the edge of civilization.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you have choices. The key is to prioritize what’s important to you.

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3 Ways for Subcontractors to Maximize their Salary

It was staring me right in the face.

Sharp wheels, a firetruck red body and more power than I’d ever need. Slick chrome trim and a gorgeous sunroof. No room in the back for kids, but who cares? This was for me. I’d earned it.

Sound familiar? Subcontractors are often subjected to impulse shopping because their earning is inconsistent. It’s tough not to feel entitled to a reward after a particularly gruelling month that ends in a big pay-day. We work hard for our money, we deserve a treat every now and then, right?

The problem is the money doesn’t always flow so easily. With every hill there’s probably going to be a valley, and for people working in trades associated with the oil and gas industry - electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters - not to mention people working in the offices of these trades, the market is fluctuating. Your income will fluctuate, too.

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Love the Home You're In, Or Find a New One

There’s the Christmas holidays, back to school expenses and all the other major points during the year that can be stressful and busy for people all over the lower mainland - truly, all over the world.

But Valentine’s Day is still one of the most cherished points on the calendar because it reminds us of what we have and where we want to be.

The things you love the most are often contained under one roof. Your partner, your family, hey, maybe even a dog or two. There’s nothing that compares to the feeling you get when you walk through the door at the end of the day into your castle. Or townhouse, sure, that works too!

The point is that your home means more to you than anything else, because it contains that which is most precious.



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One of our most important functions here at One Stop is helping people move on from debt. Whether you’re purchasing a home, a new vehicle or combining your bills into an easy payment, everyone wants to remove themselves from debt at some point.

This isn’t always an easy task. There are lots of details to consider, things you’re not told when you enter debt for the first time.

We do a weekly blast of social media posts entitled Success Stories, where we celebrate the true stories of our clients who have overcome a challenge to get something they need or want.

Why, just last week we helped a single mom in Edmonton finish building a home for herself, her children and her parents. Oh, and she needed a new vehicle, too. We accomplished this by using her existing equity to make the new mortgage a reality.

So now what? What are the next steps?


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Is Winter the Best Time to Buy a New Home?

Picture yourself moving into a brand new home.

Or a used home, that works too - but new for you. If you’ve found something with good bones, you can grace your home with your personal touches. Paint, furniture, maybe a couple renovations here and there. This all involves a lot of moving to and from your new home.

Which isn’t realistically an enjoyable process during the winter. Here in the lower mainland you’re bound to be pelted with rain, but for our friends in Northern BC and Alberta, the realities of moving during the winter are much harsher.

This all results in one of the most important factors for winter house-hunting: less competition.

Bidding wars on houses are much more common during the spring and summer months when it’s easier and more pleasant to get out and shop. People also know their yards look better and their curb appeal is up during the summer, so the tendency during the winter is to price homes competitively in order to sell quicker.


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The future is here, and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the workplace.

Remote work.

Skilled contractors.

Independent consultants.


As the workplace tightens its budgets in 2016 in the face of North America’s dwindling oil production, companies are going to look for creative new ways to reduce overhead costs while maximizing their business interests.

What does that mean for you?

If you ever thought about starting your own business or joining the sub-contracting world, now might be a good time to think about it seriously. Technological advancements and online work have taken a quantum leap forward in the past three years, and if the trend continues, more people will soon be reaping the benefits of working for themselves.

So why doesn’t everybody do it then?

Well, working for yourself isn’t without risks. If you’re already working remotely or on a for-hire basis, then chances are you’ve made some mistakes. And nothing hurts more than a screw-up involving money, be it yours or a client’s. A sub-contractor who makes an error doesn’t have a corporate support structure to back them up and help fix the problem.

You’re on your own.

With that in mind, here are 3 tips to adopt this year to keep your finances healthy and, hopefully, finish the year with a bit more than you start with.


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No matter where you are, who you are or what your personal financial situation is, chances are you’d probably be alright with finishing 2016 with more in your pocket than you have right now. It’s easy to look at the results we want in life.

The tricky part is forming the plan to take us down that road.

  1. How much money did you spend in 2015?
  2. What did you spend that money on?
  3. How will your past affect your future?


That last one is a loaded question, but when you consider your history with your money, it’s a lot easier to focus on what you’re good at while trimming out the bad parts.

There are plenty of lists all over the place telling you how to spend your money in the year to come, but we believe that before you can do that, first you need to define the things that are going to cost you.


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It’s 2016 and the New Year’s resolutions are in full effect! We’re eating better, exercising and we’re well on our way to achieving our goals of losing weight and fitting into that pair of jeans that have been collecting dust in the closet for the past few years.

Now the trick is to keep the program going as the calendar turns over to February. There’s no doubt we’ll be tempted by food, the couch and the natural ebb and flow of our busy lives.

So how do we resist the urges to fall back into old routines?

We remind ourselves of the payoff at the end of the day.

That payoff is easy to see when it comes to resolutions based on losing physical weight. We’ve got good news: losing financial weight comes with tangible results as well. And while trimming your financial profile might not result in fitting into an old pair of jeans, it will nevertheless go a long way toward creating a new, healthier outlook for a new year.

So how do we do it?


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time flies

The sun is about to rise on a brand new year. With the sunrise comes new goals, new ambitions and new desires.

And yes, many of those desires will cost money. There are things we want in life and things we need, and the reality is that both sides of the equation will put a dent in your wallet.

You know what doesn’t cost money? The time you spend with your family. The time you spend improving your own lifestyle, whether that means strapping on some running shoes or eating more salad. It can even mean the energy you spend improving your emotional outlook on the world around you.

The first step in shaping your attitude to face another year and all the ups and downs you know will come (as well as some of the unforeseen circumstances) is setting new resolutions for a new year.

Here are four suggestions for a financially healthy 2016.


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time flies

Picture yourself during the holidays. Imagine the perfect setting. Who are you with? Where are you? For most of us, the holidays are about sipping drinks and eating treats surrounded by friends and family.

Oh, and maybe there’s a nice car in the driveway.


We All Like Things

Family get-togethers and gatherings of well-wishers go a long way toward reminding us what truly matters in life: our health and happiness and that of our friends’. The problem is that for the other 50 weeks throughout the year, our happiness is often tied to the things we own - our house, our car, our home theatre system and so on.

Well, collecting all those things is possible, but maybe just not all at once.

This is still a blog about spending money wisely, after all, so as much as we’d love to live in a dream world where we can afford everything we want, it’s not reality. So, how do we give ourselves all those neat toys we see in the window?


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time flies

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Which is both good and bad. Good because it means you’re having fun, bad because it’s tough to remember all the important details.

And for most of us, the end of 2015 signals the end of old chapters and the start of something new, something that will be even better if we can remember those details.

Ask yourself:

  1. how much money did you spend in 2015?
  2. did you use your income wisely?
  3. how can you improve your spending habits in 2016?

The key to improving our control on our money is to understand how we’re using that money.


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I’m a big believer in spending money smartly. Instead of cramming into the mall on the 15th of December, for instance, all my shopping is done. I attacked my list in a swift 2 hour excursion on Wednesday morning last week. I kept my spending down too - I only bought gifts for my immediate family, plus one $20 knick-knack for a secret santa party.

But now, for me, the key is to truly maximize my gift-savings. Last year it wasn’t so pretty; I was so proud of my frugality when it came to shopping that I totally blew my budget on all the other expensive holiday elements.

Elements like…


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“Oh wow, look at all that. Did you finish all your christmas shopping today?”

“Well, define finish.”


“If you’re referring to myself, then yes, I think I might be done buying gifts for myself. As for everyone else on my list, well…”

One of the biggest reasons I don’t enjoy shopping is that I always get stuck in some store or another shopping for myself. Christmas is the worst possible time for this bad habit, as every window-ad and sparkling mid-mall kiosk is adorned with targeted marketing that seems to know exactly what I want.

And thus, shopping outings descend into a total self-serving nightmare. Plus, I have to go back to the mall later to actually buy presents for my family.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. The holidays are an easy excuse to let your budget run out of control, but it’s something you’ll regret big-time in 2016, especially when tax season rolls around.

Here are a few tips to keep your holiday spending in check.


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Imagine yourself in a few weeks gathered around the fire, your family and friends relaxing comfortably around you as you reflect on the year that was and the year to come.

Oh yeah, you’re going to have to pay taxes in a couple months. Can’t this just be the end of 2015?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have taxes and debt on your mind this holiday season?

We all dread tax season, but it’s even more time-consuming for business owners, sub contractors and the self-employed. Hopefully you’ve been keeping track of your receipts and expenses throughout the year, but if you haven’t, the last couple weeks of November are a great time to get organized.



Do What you Can Now Instead of Putting it Off

Once the holidays come and go you’re going to get busy. Sure, you’re busy now, gearing up for the holidays, but being busy creates momentum. You know how sometimes you start with cleaning the bathroom and before you know it you’ve cleaned the whole house?


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Imagine finally making a decision on a new car for you and your family. Well, it’s primarily for you, but your family will benefit from it as well.

It’s in good condition, it will fit everyone, it’s good on gas and it will make a big difference. Plus you should be able to get a little bit of money for your old vehicle. Yep, it’s a good situation, you just need to get a small loan to buy it, which should be easy enough because you’ll have no problem with the payments.

Everything is going fine at the bank until they tell you the bad news. You were late on your taxes last year and as a result your credit rating is preventing you from securing the loan.

It’s a frustrating situation. Often we’re plagued by the problems of our past even though we’ve grown up and moved on. If you’ve ever neglected credit card bills (or bills of any kind) or defaulted on a loan, then you’re in danger of having poor credit follow you around even though your current financial status is happy and healthy.



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Last week we talked about the ominous spectre of debt and how, when you think about it, like most childhood monsters, debt can’t really harm you if you have a firm handle on how to defeat it. Debt such as mortgages and loans intended to pay off home renovations or invest in small businesses is considered good debt. Good debt can give you a kickstart when you need it and it can give you leverage as you get older.

But there are times when bad debt creeps up and threatens to overwhelm.

Good debt, bad debt, it all comes back to monthly payments, right? Money in vs money out. We’ve all been in a situation at some point in our lives when we simply didn’t have enough to cover ourselves, and we’re left owing more than we actually have.


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While you’re walking around this Halloween with your little ghost or goblin, you might be spooked by something watching you and following along in the shadows.

No, it’s not a monster.

It’s debt.

From the time we graduate from high school through our twenties and into our high-earning years, debt starts to pile up and follow us around. From mortgages to loans to credit cards, debt is a reality we all face.

And that’s not even taking into consideration the circumstances life throws at us, such as illness, taxes or sudden unemployment.

But the truth is we don’t have to be afraid any more. The monster can stay in the shadows.


Good Debt vs Bad Debt

“Good debt helps you generate income and increases you net worth.”

That’s Lisa Smith over at Investopia. For Lisa, acquiring debt is a necessary element of adult life because it improves us. Things like education and certifications required by certain careers cost money up front, but they make us more qualified to earn more later on.

Small business owners use debt to kickstart their companies. Entrepreneurs eventually want to make money, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

And what about living? Unless you’ve received a large inheritance, taking on a mortgage is the only way to buy a home and provide for your family. There’s nothing wrong with owing money when you’re living a comfortable life within your means.


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Here are One Stop we get to work with small business owners all the time, and it’s always a rewarding interaction. We’re inspired on a daily basis by the passion, ingenuity and sheer resilience of these entrepreneurs.

Because let’s face it, running your own business isn’t always a day at the beach.

…Unless your office is on a beach. But even in that situation, a paddleboat rental shop or a miniature golf course owner is going to encounter challenges that are impossible to prepare for.


1. Failing Equipment

Have you ever heard the term “hard on equipment”? Maybe I’m just having a hard time forgetting my time working on an irrigation crew during university, but there was always one guy who was hard on the equipment. Things constantly broke when he was using them. Maybe he wasn’t to blame, but after multiple incidents it had to have been more than just coincidence. And no, that ‘one guy’ wasn’t me. *looks around nervously*

Equipment breaks. New machines will be required, and it’s tough to plan...


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cash only payment

The easiest way to learn more about a company’s goals?

Ask them. The answer normally given, however?

Sell more.

Every business’s main goal is to sell more to more people. Make more product, sell more product and bring in more cash.

Well, life isn’t that simple and running your own business certainly isn’t either. One of the key aspects of a growing business is the niche in which they operate. It’s tempting to cast a wide net in the hopes of catching as many customers as possible, but often that results in a watered down service that doesn’t make much of an impact with anybody.

Narrow your audience based on your unique talents. It’s better to have a big impact with a small group of people than striking out with a large group of people.

With that in mind, here are 5 other key building blocks of a growing business...


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cash only payment

Things happen.

If that’s not the most over-reaching statements ever mentioned, it’s definitely close to one of them.

But it’s true. Our financial situations are often in flux as we navigate life, work and all the challenges with which we’re faced. We see different situations all the time, some that are difficult, some that are natural. Situations such as:

  1. illness
  2. layoffs
  3. retirement
  4. renovations
  5. buying property
  6. behind in property taxes


All of these instances require quick cash flow injections, but it’s not as simple as heading to the bank, signing a couple things and walking out cash-in-pocket.

Here’s our short 3-step process for securing a private loan...


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cash only payment

In this day and age it’s almost unheard of that people, companies or institutions would be flocking away from an electronic system. Automated electronic processes used by companies in Alberta and BC could include scheduling, invoicing or simple payment processing from clients and customers.

But moving away from electronic payment systems is exactly what’s happening for many small businesses all over North America.

According to Mark Leger at the Globe and Mail, businesses adopting this gutsy procedure are placing their faith in customer loyalty.

Once considered a manoeuvre for companies who wanted to collect income under-the-table to avoid taxes is now being employed by entrepreneurs, small businesses and family operations looking to save expenses in any way they can.

Switching to cash only is just another way to do that.


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Navigating the small business landscape isn’t a hobby - it’s a lifestyle. Deciding to pursue a small business path, either as an entrepreneur or an investor requires just as much attention to detail as it does passion for a company or product.

And the other major element it requires?

Money. Capital. Financing.

Often the difference between life and death for a small business comes in the form of a cheque. The source of the income can vary, but when a company needs production costs covered or support to hire staff to make production possible in the first place, a healthy investment is the lifeblood of success.


Alternative financing is gaining steam in the small business sector. Here’s why:


When Flexibility is Required

“One of the most obvious and common answers is that businesses seek financing when they're faced with an unexpected opportunity or challenge that requires quick capital.”

That’s David Sederholt over at Sederholt says that...


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Being self-employed requires a lot of planning, a bit of risk and a little creativity. But there’s no substitute for actually getting out there and doing it - being your own boss.

Here at One Stop Mortgage Corp. we work with self-employed people all the time because it can be hard to get a loan or mortgage when you don’t have regular income from an employer. Starting there, here are a couple other pros and cons of taking the self-employed plunge.

Pro: Following Your Passion

Anyone given the opportunity to work in a field in which they’re passionate will choose that job every time. Self-employed people still need to work for a living, but they work in a field they love. Doing work you enjoy...


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Last week I sat down with Sergio Spadavechia to learn more about the origins of One Stop and how he and his brother Saverio developed their own careers. This week, in part 2 of our interview, Sergio explains how those beginnings helped formulate a specific business identity.

The crux of that identity? Human interaction free of automation. You see, it’s easy for a bank to turn the other way in the face of unusual circumstances, such as sub-contractors, self-employed people and those facing real-life situations that cause income to fluctuate.

KC: Name a couple of the external factors, the factors beyond someones control, that can affect personal finances.

SS: The ability to attain money from a bank or institution is affected by your income and your credit stability mainly, but then there are factors that affect those factors. Unforeseen circumstances can come into play any time...


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“We started as Budget Mortgage back in 1994 when I had what I call the day of reckoning. We needed to find a niche that would serve our clients and we did.”

That’s Sergio Spadavecchia, who along with his brother Saverio started One Stop Mortgage Corp. over 20 years ago. I stole a couple minutes of Sergio’s time to learn more about One Stop’s origins and how the team has developed over the years.


KC: Tell me a bit more about your journey through the mortgage industry.

SS: Prior to starting One Stop my experience was in underwriting with First City Trust a leasing company and with RBC - Canadian Airlines in their credit card division for about 6 months. We believed our niche was to become a private lender but at the time it wasn’t about a plotting a career, it was about creating...

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Imagine bringing in a healthy pay-cheque every two weeks from a steady employer while also having the flexibility to find work elsewhere. 

You’re a contractor.

Plenty of Canadians work as contractors in various sectors. Carpenters, cabinet makers, plumbers, electricians - most people who build new homes or work on home renovations have worked as contractors at some point in their careers. Tradespeople working in the oil and gas industry enjoy the flexibility of sub-contracting because the future is theirs to control.

Unless it’s not.

Sub-contractors are a significant portion of our business, and we’ve learned a lot about the pros and cons of the contractor’s life over the years.

It’s a challenging lifestyle, but done properly, it can be rewarding. The key is to understand the challenges and be prepared for them. Here are four challenges unique to the world of sub-contracting.


1. Qualifying for a Mortgage

Convincing the bank to lend you money to buy a new home when you don’t have guaranteed income is tricky. First...

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Falling Mortgage Rates

The Bank of Canada cut its prime interest rate a couple weeks ago and the virtual water cooler has been dominated by talk of it ever since.

Who’s been affected by the cut?

  1. Mortgage brokers
  2. Equity lenders
  3. Homebuyers
  4. Home sellers


People who need to borrow money or wish to invest will experience a change in the cost of borrowing or investing.

Most homebuyers are thrilled because of what the rate cut represents, however, since rates are already at such historically low levels, the savings when buying a home won’t be all that substantial. Monthly mortgage payments, however, will eat up a bigger chunk of principal rather than interest for homeowners with variable rate mortgages.

Selling a home will get a boost as well because buyers are motivated to take advantage of the low rates. Since prices in Vancouver are driving millennials away from the market, the rate cut might entice them to stay.

What does this all mean for brokers and lenders on the other side of the fence?


What Attracts Customers?

Despite the rate cut, the only bank to announce a lower prime lending rate was Toronto Dominion. Some banks believe since we’re still ...

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Mark Chala

“The feeling that you’ve provided someone with a solution, a key to continuing their life however they choose - that’s the ultimate reward.”

That’s Mark Chala, one of One Stop’s senior Mortgage Brokers. Mark is a firm believer in taking charge of your circumstances and using special tools to get to where you want to be.

And for Mark, it’s ok (in fact, it’s natural) to encounter some bumps along the way.


Kelvin: How did you get into the industry?

Mark: I actually started when I was still a teenager helping my family with their lending business. I officially started working as a broker in 2006 with a company called Spectrum Canada with the ultimate goal of coming to One Stop. We did business with One Stop and I built a relationship with Serge, so it was a good fit here...


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home inspection

Here at One Stop we like to be as transparent as possible when brokers refer clients our way. Because, after striking a deal to buy a house, renovate a house or make a large purchase, there’s nothing worse than looking back at your documents and wondering where your money is going.

Most equity-based lenders require proof of equity to some point. “If you own your home, you’ll qualify.” That sort of thing.

However, it’s a little more complicated than that. If you’re looking for a second mortgage or trying to buy something outside of the traditional ‘first home’, or you’re a mortgage broker having trouble finding funding for a client, we can help. Here’s how...


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home inspection

It’s easy to find examples of people who’ve made a decent return on their investment in the real estate industry.

But it’s probably just as easy to find someone with a horror story or two to share.

While you’re deciding on whether or not you should buy a home or a condo to renovate, rent out or live in and flip, it’s important to look at both sides of the issue to find out if it’s theright course of action for you.

Here are five things I wish I knew before I started investing in the Canadian condo market.


1. How the Length of the Mortgage Term Would Affect Me

I intended to live in my first condo investment while renovating, but we were actually able to finish early. Nice, right? The problem was ...


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home inspection

Let’s take a look at two scenarios to find out which one sounds more familiar for you.

Scenario 1.

Searching online, you’ve found a beautiful house that fulfills every item on your checklist. It’s close to work, it’s in a nice neighbourhood, it has more bedrooms than you thought you wanted and it’s even got a nice, big balcony. Oh yeah, and it’s beautiful, too!

The price looks reasonable as well, you’re sure you’ll be able to afford it, so you call a mortgage broker so you can buy your dream house.

And a couple things happen:


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home inspection

We all get swept up in the waves of impulse from time to time.

Ever seen a bright red car from the street and imagined yourself behind the wheel?

Well, the same emotion takes hold of us when we’re shopping for a new home. Buying a home is a step that will put a roof over your head, it’s your new basecamp, the place from which your life’s important upcoming decisions will be made.

It’s a big step. And it’s a lot harder to get it right than it is to get it wrong.


Picturing Yourself in the Drivers Seat

The best realtors and mortgage brokers do a good job of tempering our excitement while we’re shopping. They encourage us to think about the elements of the new home...


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home inspection

No one wants negative information to follow them around, especially when they’re looking for a new home. According to most reports, seven years after documentation of negative credit information is the standard frame of time before that information is removed.

While good information can last forever, good information isn’t what creditors and debt collectors are looking for. Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada keep track of your debts according to different factors such as the type of debt (house, car, loan) and where you live.

So you’ve got some bad credit. Maybe you missed a payment...


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home inspection

Picture yourself at work. Perhaps you’re at work right now reading about mortgages instead of doing your job. That’s cool, just imagine yourself if you are working.

How do you attract more business? Through advertising? Marketing? Social media?

No matter what took you use to find new clients, the reality is that very few clients stick with people who don’t treat them properly.

And then they tell all their friends.

The key to finding and retaining business is how much you help people, how much of a difference you make in their lives.

When it comes to mortgage brokers, these values are crucial.


1. Dedication

When you’re dealing with a person’s finances it’s vital to go above and beyond to find the best possible deal. Truthfully, “above and beyond” doesn’t exist, it’s standard protocol.


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home inspection

Whether you’re buying a car, a new pair of shoes or a three bedroom townhouse, getting advice you trust is a crucial step in the process. Sure, those three items have different impacts on your life, but you wouldn’t buy a pair of basketball shoes endorsed by a hockey player, would you?

It’s important to ask questions and build a relationship with the people helping you buy a new home. After all, these people are helping you make a decision that will have an impact for a long time.

1. Mortgage Broker
Your broker is responsible for setting you up with a deal that’s both manageable and allows you to take the next step in your life. A mortgage broker knows the intimate details of your financial situation and will broker a deal to suit your needs.

2. Real Estate Agent

The best real estate agents know their clients better than their clients know ...


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home inspection

The day is here! You’ve secured a mortgage that’s suitable for you and your family, you made an offer and got a great deal on a new home built in the decade of neon, big hair and dirty dancing.

Like, a great deal.

Wait, perhaps the deal is a little too great.

As is often the case, whenever something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

There’s a lot of things you can discover during the home inspection process after the offer is accepted. Some of these things might cause tears of joy, some might just cause tears.

To prepare for the waterworks, here’s 5 things a home inspector might tell you.

1. You Need a New Furnace or Hot Water Tank

“I can’t believe we got such a good deal!”


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good debt or bad debt

Sometimes in life you come across things that just don't make sense. On the surface, the distinction between good and bad debt falls in that discussion. All debt is bad, right?

Well, it might not be fun to pay off our debts, but without debt we wouldn’t have homes, vehicles or post-secondary education. No, the results of this type debt are good, it provides with things we can use.

However, there is debt that exists that can be harmful.

Laurie Campbell is the CEO of Credit Canada Debt Solutions, and she’s seen it all as Canada’s debt rises. The proud owner of a single credit car she pays off each month, Campbell teaches people to be smart with their money and exercise financial restraint.


Living Within Our Means

Institutions such as Campbell’s are helping people cope with their debt, but often this is a last resort once bankruptcy looms on the horizon. What can we do before it gets to that point?


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client questions

Success! You’ve scoured the market, your broker has set you up with a sweet deal, and you’re finally ready to make an offer and move into the house of your dreams!

…except that you’re not. It’s easy (and understandable) to get excited when you find a home that checks off all the boxes on your list - the problem is that we aren’t immediately aware of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Enter the home inspector, the one responsible for reaffirming all that excitement or potentially tearing it all down.

Finding the Right Home 

When you’re shopping for a home it’s important to weigh the elements you can


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client questions

Last week we talked about the value of taking your time to make a decision on buying a new home. Instead of jumping into a decision you’re not entirely sure of, sometimes it’s a better plan to step back and take more time to build up your down payment.

This week we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of saving money. We all want to save more, and sometimes we need to save more if we’re to get into that condo we’re dreaming about.

The problem is that often we exhaust all our energy worrying about the future instead of living in the present.

The Elusive Work-Life Balance
Ask yourself:

  1. Do I work too much?
  2. What am I working for anyways?
  3. When I save enough money, will I be able to cut back my hours?


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client questions

There are plenty of reasons why the timing might not be right to buy a new house, new townhouse or new condo. Family and relationships have a notorious reputation for getting in the way of our timelines (which isn’t a bad thing!).

Sometimes our budgets just aren’t ready to commit to taking on a mortgage, and that’s ok too. It’s important to be prepared when it comes time to sign on the dotted line.

The good news is that there are a few things you can do in the meantime so that when the time comes you’re completely ready, willing and able to purchase.

1. Boost Your Credit 
The state of your credit matters when your mortgage broker is looking for a lender. Boosting your credit score will make it easier for your broker to get the funds you want (and therefore the home you want).

Pay down your credit cards, diminish your debt and keep...


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client questions

If you’re looking for a new home this spring, chances are something wasn’t quite right with your old home.

Makes sense, right?

Maybe you didn’t have enough space for your growing family. Perhaps you had too much space because your kids are moving out. Or it could just be that you didn’t like the area in which you were living.

Sometimes, big changes in our lives force us to face reality and move somewhere that’s more suitable.

With that in mind, here are three areas you might need to compromise on as you search for your next home base.


1. Location

In most cities moving further away from the downtown core means a bigger bang for your buck. Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary are no exception to this rule.

Potential compromises: central location vs square footage.


2. Number of Rooms

Keeping your budget in mind, you might have to sacrifice certain in-house amenities if you don’t want to break the bank...


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client questions

Moving is … well there’s not many nice things one can say about moving. If you’ve moved a lot then you know the feeling: picking up boxes, walking around with boxes, stacking boxes …

Wait, what? You haven’t been using boxes?

Ok, let’s back up. Moving isn’t such a bad thing if you’re doing it right. There’s no need to put yourself through extra hardship because you’re not organized well in advance.

Here are 3 simple moving tips that will make your move go much smoother than you ever thought it could.

  1. Start Early

    Instead of waiting until the morning of your move (like I once did), take at least 3 weeks prior to organize and set things aside. Sure, your life will be disrupted, but this disruption can actually lead to excitement if you allow it. Think about it, every time you look at that stack of boxes in the corner you’ll be reminded you’re off to bigger and better things!

    Which brings us to our next point...


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No one wants to be house-poor.

client questions

Sure, while we’re shopping the market it’s easy to see ourselves living in homes that may be just a touch out of our reach. “Well make it work,” you say. “I’ll work overtime.”

Imagining yourself in homes like these is borderline unfair - stop torturing yourself! The point of upgrading your home isn’t to work harder or longer to pay for it, the point is to put yourself and your family somewhere comfortable where you can enjoy life.

Lenders use a pretty simple formula for calculating a buyer’s preferred debt-to-income-ratio. In short, your debt should account for no more than ...


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Life circumstances can impact your mortgage...

client questions

Going through the mortgage process is actually fairly simple if you go in armed with some knowledge first. Everyone has a different backstory that contributes to their mortgage, their rates, their payments and their term.

The circumstances in your life have an impact on your mortgage.

  1. Do you already own property?
  2. Do you have other debts, like a vehicle or student loan?

Owning property or other large assets counts as collateral against a loan and makes it easier to secure your mortgage, however, elements like recurring debt might hold you back from borrowing a huge number. It’s the lender’s responsibility is to ensure you can handle the mortgage ...


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The Best Possible Financial Situation...

client questions

At One Stop, our mission is simple: to get our clients into the best possible financial situation under their current circumstances.

So, what works for one person may not work as well for another.

And that’s ok. It’s all about the future, right?

With that in mind, it’s important to put yourself in a position to enjoy your future.

Long Term Mortgage

A mortgage term is the length of time before the conditions of the deal can be renegotiated. A long term mortgage is generally any deal over three years in length. Long term mortgages offer stability in payments, but...


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Mortgage Term and a Healthy Mortgage

client questions

Every mortgage is different. There are a lot of moving parts. It’s important to put all those parts into the right place by the time your mortgage is signed and delivered so you’re comfortable with your payments as well as the term of your mortgage.

So, how does the term of your mortgage affect you?

First of all, the mortgage term simply refers to the length of time you agree to abide by the terms of the contract with the lender.


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What are the first 3 questions clients ask you?? Q&A with Mark Chala

client questions

What are the first 3 questions clients ask you?

It’s usually pretty consistent, the questions I get, but I always make sure to fully understand my client’s situation first before getting too far into the answers. Everyone is different, so I treat every deal differently.

That being said, here are the common questions I get asked:

What type of mortgage is right for me? People want to know if they should use a variable rate or fixed...


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How Closely Do Mortgage Brokers Work With Real Estate Agents? Q&A with Chris Novy

home staging

Mortgage brokers work very closely with their respective real estate agents. 

To ensure the highest level of client satisfaction, it’s crucial both the mortgage broker and real estate agent stay in close communication during the entire mortgage application and purchase process. 

The better the communication is from both sets of hands, the more likely the client will be satisfied once they’re in their new home.


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3 Budget-Friendly Staging Keys to Get Your House Ready for the Market 
Weekly Q&A with Mark Chala


home staging

Selling your house doesn’t have to be stressful. Sure, it’s a process, but if you take care of everything on your end, everything that’s in your control, then you’re more likely to sell quicker. 

House staging is a helpful tool in getting your house sold quickly. The catch though is that people often go overboard and spend more on staging than they get in return on the sale. 

Here’s 3 ways to stage your house without reaching too far into your wallet. 

1. Pictures Tell the Story

Most buyers won’t give your property a second thought without accompanying photos. And no, snapping pics for a half hour in whatever the current state of your home is in doesn’t count. 


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Variable or Fixed? What Type of Mortgage is Best For Me?

MARCH 17, 2015

Follow us on Twitter @OneStopMtgCorp.


Variable or Fixed? What Type of Mortgage is Best For Me?
Weekly Q&A with Mark Chala


choosing a mortgage broker

The most important aspect of choosing the mortgage type that best suits you is to understand that it’s always based on individual circumstance. That’s why both types of mortgages still exist - some people are better suited with variable mortgages and some are better off with a fixed rate.

Both have their advantages. Fixed rates offer stability in your monthly payments. Variable mortgages are a bit riskier, but you’re often better off in terms of monthly payments because the rate is usually lower.

Usually. It’s not a guarantee, but as we talked about last week, when the Bank of Canada determines variable rates, the number moves in accordance with the Bank’s key interest rate.

So, what’s best for you?

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How Are Mortgage Rates in Canada Determined?

MARCH 09, 2015

Follow us on Twitter @OneStopMtgCorp.


How Are Mortgage Rates in Canada Determined?
Weekly Q&A with Mark Chala


choosing a mortgage broker

There are two main types of interest rates attached to mortgages, variable and fixed rates.

When it comes to variable interest, there is a path to get to the final number. Your mortgage rate, the homeowner, is determined by the key interest rate of commercial banks. That number is determined by the Bank of Canada’s key interest rate.

So, an individual’s mortgage is increased or decreased when the Bank of Canada’s key interest rate fluctuates. The Bank of Canada’s rates will fluctuate in an effort to control inflation and keep the country’s supply and demand in check.

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