How much does it cost to sell your home?

If you’re selling your home, be sure to budget for the added costs involved. That way you’ll be ready when the time comes to close the deal.

Is your starter home becoming a tight fit for your growing family? Are you longing for a bigger kitchen or more closet space? Is the commute to your new job taking so long that you’re thinking of moving closer? Do you want to downsize after 30 or 40 years at the same address? Or upsize to make space for your elderly in-laws?

Should you downsize your home in retirement?

You may be selling your home for the first time, or for the first time in a very long time. Either way, you may not be ready for all the costs involved in making the sale. That’s especially important if you’re using the money from the sale to buy another home. Here are some expenses to prepare for:

How much commission do realtors charge?

These can run anywhere between 3% and 7%, depending on where you live and what you negotiate with your agent. A 4% real estate commission on a house that sells for $500,000 will set you back $20,000. In a hot market, you may be able to avoid this fee by selling your own home. But it’s still wise to hire an appraiser (starting at around $400) to put a value on your home. You’ll also need a real estate lawyer to draw up the paperwork.

Should you sell your own home?

How much will you pay in legal fees when you sell your home?
Budget for at least $1,500. It could be more if your deal is complex.

How much does home staging cost?

What will it take to make your home appeal to potential buyers? If you were selling 30 years ago, tidying up and painting would probably have been enough. Today, if you look at real estate listings, you’ll see that sellers do a lot more. Painting, yes, but also moving out most of your furniture and even renting art. The cost can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on how much fixing up your place needs. You may be able to save by doing the staging yourself. But prepare to pay for things like storage space. Some real estate agents provide staging as part of their services.

How much is land or property transfer tax?

If you’re buying a new home, land transfer tax can easily be a significant expense. The tax is a percentage of the purchase price of the home. It varies by city and province, ranging from .1% to 2.1% of the total property value.

How much does it cost to move?

Your bill will depend on where you’re moving and how much stuff you have to shift. But you’ll likely need to factor in at least a few hundred dollars for moving expenses. That is, of course, unless you have your own truck and friends who will work for pizza and beer.

Do you need mortgage protection insurance?

Are you taking on a bigger mortgage? Make sure your mortgage protection insurance (life insurance and critical illness insurance) will cover your additional needs. And be sure to update your homeowner’s insurance policy. If your new home is bigger than your old one, be prepared for your home insurance premiums to increase.

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Registered retirement income fund (RRIF)

Convert your savings into flexible retirement income
Access your money when you need it, for whatever you need it for in retirement.

What is a RRIF?
It’s like a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) in reverse. An RRSP helps you save for retirement through annual contributions. A RRIF does the opposite, requiring you to take minimum annual withdrawals from your savings to help fund your retirement.

How does it work?

  • Convert your RRSP to a RRIF at any time, before Dec. 31 of the year you turn 71.
  • Choose how you’ll invest your money.
  • The government determines the minimum amount you must take out each year.
  • However, you have flexibility on how much you withdraw over the minimum amount and when you’ll receive it.
  • All your RRIF withdrawals are taxable as employment income.
  • Use our handy calculator to see how much income you’ll get from your retirement savings.

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Opinion of Chief Macro Economist Frances Donald

Frances Donald – Chief Macro Economist

I try not to focus on headlines, but rather on economic data itself. That being said, inflation will take the mainstage for many years to come and I am happy to share my opinion:

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We are not big believers in material inflation: in general, we expect U.S. inflation to stabilize in the 2%-3% range over a multi-year period. However, we believe the market will become particularly concerned about rising inflation in the coming weeks. First, there will be a second-derivative turn in most inflation metrics as base effects drop out of year-over-year price levels. Second, there is a clear reflationary impulse evident in the commodities complex. Third, a weaker USD will support some mild inflation. Fourth, we’re seeing price levels creeping higher in several components that contribute to the measurement of inflation, in particular in segments that have been expose to supply chain disruptions and ongoing pressures in health care costs. Fifth, the Fed’s widely expected announcement in August/September that it will target 2% inflation “more symmetrically” —meaning it’ll tolerate a persistent overshoot of 2% inflation—will exacerbate this concern.

Market Implication: A stagflation scare may tactically push up nominal U.S. yields to the upper end of their recent range, particularly at the long-end. We expect various forms of assets with inflation protection qualities, like gold, to continue to do well. Longer-term, we don’t foresee a prolonged period of reflation, but we recognize there could be tactical opportunities for the reflation trade.

When to review your estate plan

It’s easy to think you can put off changes to an estate plan – the plan doesn’t even take effect during your lifetime. But it’s important to react in good time because many changes call for strategies best implemented sooner rather than later. Also, you make estate planning changes now for the same reason you made a will and purchased life insurance: to benefit your loved ones if you pass away prematurely.

Life changes calling for a review

Typically, you should review an estate plan whenever a new situation arises that potentially calls for an update. But if several years have passed without looking over your plan, it’s a good idea to conduct a review anyway.

Keep in mind that although a will is central to estate planning, much more is involved. Assets could be distributed outside of the will, through such means as life insurance and registered savings plans. Certain family situations may call for the establishment of a trust. Estate planning also includes powers of attorney for both financial matters and personal care. And you may require tax planning to help preserve the value of estate assets.

Here are key financial and life changes that are reason to review your estate plan.

Change in appointed individuals

In the process of estate planning, you name individuals as beneficiaries, attorney (for power of attorney), executor and possibly trustee. If your executor, alternate executor, trustee or alternate trustee passes away, moves out of province or is no longer capable or interested, you’ll need to name a replacement. You may also find that your estate has become more complex to administer, now requiring the services of a corporate executor.

If a beneficiary suffers a serious illness or disability, you may consider establishing a trust. You may also wish to add beneficiaries, such as grandchildren.

Marital or family status changes

You have quite a few changes to make in the event of separation or divorce, or a new marriage or common-law relationship. There’s the larger picture of revising the financial aspect of your estate plan and the details of changing beneficiary designations – from your will to a life insurance policy. If you’re newly married with a blended family, you may want to explore estate planning strategies to help provide for your new spouse and children from a previous marriage. You also need to update your will and estate plan upon the birth or adoption of a child, and may need to make changes when a child reaches the age of majority.

Developments in your financial life

There’s no need to update your will and estate plan every time there’s a routine change in your net worth. But you should review your plan if a major change affects distributions from your estate or calls for a new tax strategy. Such changes include receiving a significant inheritance, purchasing vacation or rental income property or any major business-related change – buying or selling a business, or deciding to hand over the business to your children.

If assets appreciate considerably, you may need to implement a tax strategy to manage capital gains tax payable by your estate. Also, consider digital assets. Assign your executor or another person the responsibility for online financial accounts and their passwords, any digital content on websites and social media, and related digital property.

If you’re in retirement and plan to leave a large balance in your registered retirement savings, without a spousal rollover opportunity, you may need to plan how the estate will cover the tax liability.

Changing distribution of assets

A variety of scenarios may arise when you want to change the way you allocate estate assets among beneficiaries. For example, say that vacation property was to be handed down to both children, but now one child moved out of province. Perhaps one child will inherit the property, and the other child will be made beneficiary of a permanent life insurance policy. Another example is if you decide to make a charity one of the beneficiaries of your will.

The timing of distributions can change. Instead of giving a beneficiary one lump sum, you might now have reason to make smaller distributions over time.

Help with your review

You’ll make many of these changes with us, and others with your lawyer, but please feel free to contact us to discuss any or all possible changes to your estate plan.

Unknowns – Known and Unknown

The world is full of surprises or unknowns, some of which we can anticipate, while others are harder to foresee. “Known unknowns” are uncertainties and issues of which we are aware, but do not know the outcome. An example is this year’s U.S. presidential election. “Unknown unknowns” are events that we do not expect or have never happened before, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new set of known unknowns. We know the virus exists, but do not know when and how the economy will recover, how many people will be infected, when a vaccine will be available, and how safe and effective the vaccine will be. The significant support to economies and capital markets from central bank interventions and government spending have eased some of these concerns. Just as we have not yet won the war against the virus, the long-term effects of its economic consequences remain to be seen.

Quantitative easing in the time of COVID-19

Quantitative easing (the increase of money supply in the economy from central banks) is not a new tool. It was first designed to combat the global financial crisis in 2009. From 2009 to 2015, the U.S. Federal Reserve injected $3.5 trillion into the economy, which led to asset inflation. To avoid a dramatic economic shock, the Fed retracted these measures very slowly. Over the course of approximately four years, the money supply shrank by about $0.8 trillion.

The Fed is using this same tool to fight the economic consequences of the pandemic, but with unprecedented speed. In just three months, $3 trillion was added to the economy. In that same time, cash went from being king (when markets were volatile) to trash (as supply increased). While quantitative easing has inflated asset prices, it has consequences – in other words, new known unknowns.

It is not certain how long this situation will last. It is estimated that the Fed’s balance sheet will be extended to $10 trillion and, if the past is any guide, will take three decades to return to pre-pandemic levels. If that is the case, asset prices will remain elevated as cash is devalued (30 years is effectively permanent). Asset holders will benefit the most, while savers suffer. This could amplify another growing issue – the wealth gap, a problem central banks have ignored in the past. Can they continue to ignore it for the next decade or even three?

Forever indebted?

In addition to quantitative easing, another by product of this pandemic was government spending in the form of subsidies to individuals and businesses. These totalled approximately 15% of gross domestic product (GDP) in both Canada and U.S. The challenge is not the subsidies themselves, but that both governments were running deficits prior to this and the extra burden adds uncertainty to how the debts will be repaid. Raising taxes is an obvious solution but could further weaken the economy and is politically unpopular. The only other solution is higher debt and larger deficits for longer – so long that many will see it as permanent. Large debt balances are only affordable if interest rates are zero, and who is going to save at zero interest?

The “new” new normal

The term a “new normal” was created after the financial crisis to describe a world where money supply is above trend and interest rates are below normal. After this pandemic, we will enter a “new new normal” where money supply is likely to be even more above trend and rates are close to zero for a decade, or decades. The unknowns in economies and human behaviour will continue to evolve in the next several years. Over the long term, there are very good odds stock markets will broadly outperform bonds, as yields are so low. Over the short term, there will be a tug-of-war between those who believe we will return to the “new normal” established in 2009 and those who believe we are headed to the “new new normal”. Either way, there is sure to be volatility, opportunities and challenges.

Combine top 15 equity holdings as of June 30, 2020 of the Evolution 40i60e Standard portfolio with Alpha-style exposure:


The market developments

Dear friends,

I hope you are your family are continuing to stay well. I am writing to update you on some of the key economic, market and pandemic-related developments for the week.

Macroeconomic and market developments

  • The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide surpassed 15 million. The U.S. continued to struggle to contain the spread of the virus, with California taking over from New York as the state with the highest number of infections. Other global hotspots include Brazil and India. Restrictions on gathering and business activity continued to be relaxed in many regions of Canada based on low infection rates.
  • North American equity markets moved marginally higher as companies reported mixed earnings results and various coronavirus vaccine trials in the U.K., Germany and Canada reported continued progress, but fell later in the week as confidence in the economic recovery stalled.
  • The U.S. government said it was considering a program to provide unemployment assistance for workers for the rest of the year on a reduced basis. In Canada, the government extended wage subsidies for employers still struggling with the business impacts of the pandemic to the end of December.
  • The annual inflation rate in Canada was 0.7% in June, exceeding market expectations.

What does this mean for my investments?

The markets’ rebound from the depths of the mid-March pandemic-driven drawdown reflects optimism that businesses will continue to recover and that as a global society we will find ways to contain the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, government and fiscal support measures for households and businesses continue to provide a strong tailwind for many parts of the market, particularly equity and corporate bond markets. Nevertheless, economic activity remains below pre-pandemic levels and significant adjustments are still needed for many businesses to recover, presenting significant risks to the outlook.

Given recent unprecedented circumstances, it makes sense to remain true to your well-established investment plan that takes your goals and tolerance for risk into account, and to continue to invest using the expertise of professional investment managers. They have the knowledge and experience to take advantage of investment opportunities as they arise and limit risks that be unappreciated by the market as a whole.

In closing, I would like to remind you that my team and I are here to help. Should you have any questions about your investments, I would be happy to discuss them with you.


Michel Prévost

The market developments

Dear friends,

I hope you and your family are well and have had the chance to be outside to enjoy some summer weather. As we enter the fifth month of the global coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19 infection rates in many parts of Canada have slowed, and restrictions are gradually being lifted. Although it is likely to be many months before our lives and work resemble anything close to “normal,” the progress is encouraging.

Here is a brief update with some of the week’s developments and related thoughts.

Macroeconomic and market developments

  • North American equity markets continued move higher, with investors gaining confidence from coronavirus vaccine trial developments and improving employment and economic data as businesses in several regions re-opened.
  • The United States remained the country worst affected by COVID-19 globally, with some states such as Florida reporting record numbers of infections and deaths from the disease. As rates of infection remain controlled in most parts of Canada, the two countries agreed to extend the closure of the border for non-essential travel to August 21.
  • The Canadian dollar strengthened against the U.S. dollar as the Bank of Canada kept its key lending rate on hold at 0.25%. The central bank forecasts a 7.8% decline in Canadian GDP this year as a result of the pandemic shutdown and indicated that rates would remain low “for a very long time.”
  • Trade tensions between the U.S. and China heightened as President Donald Trump signed legislation to impose sanctions on China in response to its interference with Hong Kong’s autonomy.

How does this affect my investments?

Equity markets in many developed economies have recovered strongly in mere months since March’s pandemic-induced downdraft, despite uncertain economic conditions and many unknowns related to the virus itself. While the market recovery has been unpredictable, so too is it is impossible to know when the next downturn will occur. Studies, in fact, have shown that attempting to “time the market” by selling your investments before a downturn can be counterproductive, as investors often miss out on significant market gains after they have cashed out. Rather, adhering to a personalized long-term investment plan that reflects your objectives, such as the one we developed to meet your needs together, typically yields better results.

If you have any questions about your investment plans, I would be happy to discuss them with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 450-951-8787.


 Michel Prévost

The market developments

Dear friends,

I hope that you and your family are well. After a truly unique quarter for capital markets, I am writing to provide you with a brief overview of some key developments during that time, as well as some insight on what can be expected as we head into the next three months of the year.
While the first quarter of 2020 was dominated by anxiety surrounding the initial outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns and capital market declines, the second quarter demonstrated a remarkable bounce back in those markets – even with a resurgence of the virus in the U.S. and renewed lockdown measures.

The S&P 500 Index, a broad measure of U.S. equities, had its best quarter in over 20 years, gaining 19.95% (in U.S. dollars), while the Canadian S&P/TSX Composite Index gained almost 16% (in Canadian dollars) in the three months ending June 30. This was quite a recovery from the sharp declines by the end of Q1, bringing year-to-date returns to -4.04% (S&P 500) and -9.07% (S&P/TSX). Government bonds declined as both the Federal Reserve (the Fed) and Bank of Canada indicated rates would remain low for a lengthy period.

Energy prices rose as the economy began slowly re-opening and production cuts trimmed inventory, but not before prices fell below zero for the first time in history on April 20, ending the day at -US$37.63. This served as a microcosm of the quarter. While virus data, economic numbers and other headlines seemed bearish, markets remained optimistic and continued to climb.

Much of the market’s enthusiasm has been attributed to government and central bank intervention designed to support global economies. In particular, the U.S. Federal Reserve’s introduction of quantitative easing measures, emergency lending and purchases of corporate bonds and exchange-traded funds are believed to have played a vital part in this rise. The Bank of Canada matched the Fed’s willingness to purchase corporate bonds to assist credit markets, while indicating it believes the economy will return to growth in the third quarter. The Fed said it expects 5% GDP growth in 2021, and as for the support it has been providing to the system, Fed Chairman Jay Powell said the agency was, “not out of ammunition by a long shot.”
Headlines concerning vaccine progress and phased economic re-openings also seemed to support market moves to the upside. Promising vaccine data from various companies continued to be announced, while in early May the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Investors also weighed more negative developments as the quarter came to a close, but these had little impact on the markets’ recovery. These included escalating tensions between China and both the U.S. and India, rising infections in 37 U.S. states (with 50 per cent of states halting or rolling back their reopening plans), and data showing 31.5 million Americans collecting unemployment cheques as of mid-June. The Fed said it expects U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to shrink by 6.5% in 2020, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects global economic output to contract 4.9%. Ratings agency Fitch Ratings, meanwhile, downgraded Canada’s credit rating to AA+ from AAA to reflect the deterioration of public finances due to COVID-19.

If anything, the last two quarters have proven just how important it is to stick with a long-term, diversified plan to withstand market shocks. It would have been almost impossible to predict that shortly following the close of the first quarter, the S&P 500 would have the best 50-day period in its history and the Nasdaq (a stock exchange that includes the world’s primary technology and biotech giants) would reach new all-time highs. Had we chosen to change course and attempt to time the market, we may have missed out on this rapid recovery. I continue to believe that at times of great uncertainty, discipline and the ability to remove emotion from one’s financial decisions become an investor’s most valuable asset. These characteristics, combined with your trust in me to oversee your investment plan objectively, have allowed us to navigate that uncertainty in an effective manner.

As we begin the third quarter, there is no way of predicting how the markets will react, and whether monetary and fiscal support will outweigh future outbreaks of COVID-19 and any subsequent economic disruptions. What we do know is that volatility remains a distinct possibility, and that history shows continuing to stick to a well-constructed, long-term plan has been the right move. The chart below illustrates this point nicely.

In closing, I wish you and your family well and remind you that I am always happy to discuss your investment plans. If you have any questions, please contact me at 450-951-8787


Michel Prévost


The market developments

Dear friends,
I trust that all is well with you and your family. Below you will find a summary of this week’s market developments and some associated thoughts.

Market developments
• In a shortened week, North American equity markets rebounded from last week’s decline, weighing positive vaccine data from Pfizer and BioNTech against growing COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S.
• More than 50% of states decided to halt or reverse their reopening plans, as health officials expressed concerns about the continued spread of the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that he “would not be surprised” to see the daily number of new cases rise to 100,000 from the current 40,000. Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the pandemic is out of control and that “This is really the beginning.”
• U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jay Powell told Congress that businesses around the country opened sooner than central bank officials expected, leading to a rebound in some economic activity, but highlighted the challenge in keeping the virus in check.
• During the same testimony, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated the Trump administration’s goal is to pass another round of fiscal stimulus by the end of July. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package earlier in the week.
• Statistics Canada announced that real gross domestic product (GDP) by industry decreased 11.6% in April, and that building permits issued by Canadian municipalities bounced back 20.2% in May, following declines of 13.4% in March and 15.4% in April.
• U.S. jobs increased by 4.8 million in June, while weekly jobless claims totalled 1.4 million. Given the re-shuttering of activity in some regions, the July figures may see a reversal of the May and June gains.
How does this affect my investments?

The next few weeks may prove pivotal as to how the market reacts both to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the new government economic stimulus measures. While Canada seems to have contained its outbreak for the time being, how its southern neighbour handles the situation will have a significant impact on the country.

So far, the Fed has proven it is willing to use all of the tools at its disposal to mitigate the economic threats of the virus, and the markets’ strong recovery from their March lows are evidence of that. However, we cannot be sure that this support will have the same effect going forward as the pandemic escalates in the U.S. This is why it is important not to deviate from our plan, which was built to handle markets’ ups and downs.

I am always happy to discuss your investment plans. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 450 951-8787.

Michel Prévost


The market developments

Dear friends,

I hope all is well. Below you will find a summary of this week’s market developments and subsequent thoughts.

Market developments

  • North American equity markets proved volatile this week, reacting to increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections in 27 states and fears of new lockdowns and decreased economic activity. In particular, cases continued to soar in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) now expects global economic output to contract 4.9% in 2020, with U.S. output contracting 8.0% and Canadian output 8.4%.
  • Ratings agency Fitch Ratings downgraded Canada’s credit rating to ‘AA+’ from ‘AAA’ to reflect the deterioration of public finances due to COVID-19.
  • New Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said that Canada’s economy will take a long time to fully recover from lockdowns, requiring the central bank to continue purchasing government bonds to keep interest rates low indefinitely.
  • President Donald Trump said that a second stimulus bill was coming and would likely be announced in the next few weeks. Weekly jobless claims in the U.S. were 1.48 million, and real gross domestic product (GDP) contracted at an annual rate of 5.0% in the first quarter of 2020.

How does this affect my investments?

A resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the United States has caused investors to consider the implications of a second series of lockdowns, something many hoped would be unnecessary moving forward. As economic forecasts continue to show the damage caused by the pandemic, it is understandable that sentiment may turn bearish in the short term.

With that said, our decision to stick with our long-term plan even when markets hit their lows in March ultimately proved prudent, and my advice is to continue to do so, even when sentiment appears to change. The chart below serves to illustrate this point, demonstrating that often times when investors turn increasingly bearish, markets may be poised to move the other way.

I am always happy to discuss your investment plans. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (450) 951-8787.


Michel Prévost