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Steel tariffs may lift when USMCA signed, new Mexican foreign minister says

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The U.S. is expected to lift its steel and aluminum tariffs when a new North American trade deal is signed, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister said Monday.

Marcelo Ebrard spoke to reporters following talks today with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in Ottawa. Seven secretaries-designates from incoming Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government were meeting with their Canadian counterparts.

Freeland confirmed the pair discussed the tariffs. She said she’d “love them to be lifted today” but did not directly answer a question put to both ministers about when they expect the Americans to drop their 25 per cent levy on steel and 10 per cent levy on aluminum products.

U.S. President Donald Trump and other members of his administration have spoken of the tariffs being useful leverage in trade negotiations, as well as a good source of government revenue. But now that a revised U.S.–Mexico–Canada trade agreement has been reached, the Americans have made no commitments about when the tariffs could end, or what the criteria would be for ending them.

“I think that might occur when the agreement is signed,” Ebrard said in Spanish. He did not say why he believes that to be the case.

The USMCA is expected to be signed Nov. 30 — the earliest possible date, according to the U.S. Congressional timetable, following a required 60-day period from the date its text was posted (Oct. 1). That’s also the last day current Mexican President Enrique Peña ​Nieto is in office.

Peña ​Nieto’s ministers presided over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and although the incoming government has said it will honour the terms negotiated, all parties have said they’d like the deal to be signed before Lopez Obrador’s government is sworn in Dec.1.

Suggestions that the Trump administration wanted to hold a symbolic three-country ceremony for the USMCA earlier than late November have been rebuffed by both Canadian and Mexican officials, who have insisted their focus is on getting the tariffs lifted first.

Mexico’s secretary-designate of foreign affairs Marcelo Ebrard joined Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland for a press conference following their meetings. He told reporters he expects U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs to be lifted before the revised North American trade deal is signed Nov. 30. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Freeland have both said talks to lift the tariffs are on a “separate track” from the USMCA negotiations.

Freeland repeated that Canada sees the tariffs as “unjustified and illegal” according to international trade rules, and is challenging them at both the World Trade Organization and through NAFTA’s existing dispute settlement provisions.

While she wasn’t as definitive as Ebrard, Freeland did say that it’s “quite reasonable” to think that there’s momentum building in favour of lifting the tariffs between the North American trading partners.

Both Freeland and Ebrard denied the suggestion that signing on to the final USMCA text under current circumstances made it easier for the U.S. to use national security as justification for future tariffs.

The Mexican delegation is touring Montreal, Toronto and Guelph, Ont., for meetings with provincial governments and various private-sector representatives. In addition to Ebrard, the future secretaries for interior affairs, economy, environment, energy, finance and agriculture are also on this tour.

The group met privately with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later Monday afternoon.

Lopez Obrador won Mexico’s July 1 election with 53 per cent of the popular vote. His party —​ Morena, the National Reconciliation Movement — is a left-leaning social democratic movement with nationalist economic policies. It formed a coalition with a leftist workers’ party and the evangelical (socially conservative) ‘social encounter party’ to win power.

While it has backed away from extreme nationalist positions, Lopez Obrador’s platfom focused on populist appeals: empowering the underprivileged, alleviating poverty and violence and eliminating corruption among the political and business elites that Lopez Obrador called Mexico’s “mafia of power.”

The incoming administration is expected to pay particular attention to the needs of rural Mexicans, making potentially transformative changes in sectors like agriculture.

Tensions remain over steel

Canada’s relationship with the outgoing Mexican administration became fraught in the final weeks of NAFTA talks, as Mexico agreed to a bilateral deal with the Americans in August that put Canada under pressure to sign on before the end of September.

The new USMCA trade deal attempts to preserve the integration of North American automotive supply chains, including its integrated steel industry.

A week ago, Mexico’s outgoing economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo telephoned Freeland to express frustration over new surtaxes Canada is about to levy on $200 million worth of two kinds of Mexican steel exports.

Mexico believes that Canada’s decision to impose emergency safeguards on energy tubular (pipeline) products and wire rod undermines its argument that its steel exports are fairly priced, despite differences in labour standards and wages across the three countries.

Mexico’s outgoing economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo expressed frustration over Canada’s decision to apply a surtax to two products representing 20 per cent of Mexico’s global steel exports, at a time when both countries are trying to persuade the U.S. to lift other steel tariffs. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

The U.S. has demanded export quotas from Canada and Mexico in return for the removal of the tariffs, something Freeland has appeared to rule out, despite other reports suggesting the industry was being consulted on what kind of restrictions it could accept.

In an interview with CBC News last weekend, Freeland said two countries want to move their bilateral relationship “beyond the NAFTA talks” and get “off on the right foot.”

She told Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio’s The House:“As far as we know, Canada is the only country that this Mexican team is coming to meet with, and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming them.”

Freeland characterized Mexico’s incoming government as progressive and said it had strong ties with civil society groups in Canada.

On Monday, Ebrard said in Spanish that he hoped the two countries would turn over a new page in the history of their bilateral relationship. In addition to trade issues, the pair discussed cannabis legalization, climate change policies and the protection of human rights.

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11-Step Guide to Buying A House

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

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

1. Decide to buy a home

Make sure you are ready both financially and emotionally!

2. Get Pre-Approved

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

3. REALTOR® Consultation

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

4. Start Your Search

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

5. Current Market Conditions

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

6. Make an Offer

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

7. Negotiate

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

8. Accepted Offer

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

9. Subject Removal

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

10. Official Documents

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

11. Move In!

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

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

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

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

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

You Might Choose to Rent If…

…You Invest What You Save

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

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

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

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

…You Have Rent Control, aka the Urban Holy Grail

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

…You Have a Mobile Lifestyle

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

…You’re on a Tight Budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do you recommend buying a revenue property?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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