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One Downward Retail Trend That’s Not All Amazon’s Fault





Working a retail job was once a rite of passage for teenagers. It was stitched so deeply into the fabric of adolescence that stores were the obvious setting for period cult movies (Think: “Clerks” and “Empire Records”).

And working retail didn’t just come with decent wages. Some jobs also offered invaluable social currency. Getting hired at Abercrombie & Fitch during the late ’90s and early aughts, for example, meant you were inarguably conventionally pretty.

But after the year 2000, employment rates among teenagers ― and in the retail space in particular ― started to drop, steeply, according to a report released last year by Pew Research Center. While employment figures are usually tied to the health of the economy, recessions weren’t the key driver of the decline. Neither was the rise of Amazon or e-commerce. Fewer teens now work over summer break mostly because for many, it’s not worth it. They also have better things to do: They take summer courses, get internships or volunteer to support organizations and communities in need, experts say. 

Up until 2000, about half of 16- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. worked some sort of job over the summer, according to Pew. By 2017, that figure dropped to a third of teens. The retail space has seen some of the more dramatic declines among young people. In July 2000, more than 2 million teens had retail jobs. In July 2017, just over 1.3 million teenagers did ― marking a 35 percent decline.

Retail is no longer as alluring as it once was. Wages began to stagnate in the early ’80s and are no longer keeping in step with inflation, said Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, a group that advises retail brands. Because middle management jobs have been drastically reduced, it’s much more difficult to get promoted in the retail space, he added.

“Retail ― as a career ― made sense for a young person to pursue,” Stephens said. “That’s no longer the case.”

In July 2000, more than 2 million teens had retail jobs. In July 2017, just over 1.3 million teenagers did ― marking a 35 per

g-stockstudio via Getty Images

In July 2000, more than 2 million teens had retail jobs. In July 2017, just over 1.3 million teenagers did ― marking a 35 percent decline.

Employment among teens changed dramatically in 1991 when, the economy recovered from a recession, but employment rates for this demographic didn’t, as it had in years past, Pew noted in its report. A number of economic and sociological factors that affected teen employment had taken hold and remain in place today. 

For one, there’s more competition for low-skill, entry-level jobs. Baby boomers are retiring later and taking jobs in retail and service industries that were once reserved for teenagers. Teens are also competing with young, underemployed college graduates and immigrants, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And the jobs themselves have changed as well. Stores have cut back on sales jobs, and now hire more employees to help in the backroom, in warehouses and with logistics to keep up with the online ordering demand, said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger Grey, a job placement firm. 

“There are still jobs,” he noted. “They’re just different jobs.”

Teenagers, in general, are also getting paid less, which is factoring into their decision-making. In 2014, the median hourly wage for teens was $8.43, down from $9.09 in 2002, according to BLS. So, even though college tuition costs have skyrocketed in recent years, teenagers have found that part-time work won’t make that much of a dent in their mounting debt, according to the BLS. Many, instead, are opting to apply for financial aid, tax credits or deductions. More parents are borrowing to pay college tuition, too.

Young people are also motivated to volunteer for causes they care about in order to try and change the world around them.

After her sophomore year of high school, Alanna Miller, now 18, spent her summer working at T.J. Maxx. But the Dallas-Fort Worth teen said her priorities shifted dramatically last winter when she was assigned to research the issue of universal background checks for firearms for her debate team. Miller has grown up in an era of mass shootings and has been undergoing routine lockdown drills since kindergarten. 

When Miller learned about the grassroots movement Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America as part of her debate research, she decided to join the group’s youth chapter, Students Demand Action, as a local leader. 

When she was hired to work at a retail store called Beauty Brands last summer, she decided to delay her start date, so she could commit the entirety of June and July to volunteering for the organization. She said it was a sacrifice for her to give up the $10 an hour wages for that period of time, but she felt it was worth it. 

“It feels a little bit like a responsibility and also honor to do this work,” Miller told HuffPost. “I’ve seen changes in my community and there’s hope in that.”

During the school year, Miller balances her volunteer work with her sales job and academics.

Miller said volunteering has become a trend among her peers. So much so, that it’s considered an extracurricular just as much as, say, football and other more traditional high school activities. 

Growth in volunteering among U.S. teens coincided with the decline in summer employment. The percentage of teenagers who volunteer more than doubled between 1989 and 2005, from 13 percent to 28 percent, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. The organization released a new report in October, which found that 28 percent of teens between the ages of 16 and 19 volunteered last year, a figure that’s remained pretty steady since the organization started tracking rates in 2002.

This demographic is involved in a range of volunteer efforts; 43 percent fundraise or sell items to raise money for causes, and 33 percent mentor youth.

“This generation does more philanthropic work. They’re spending summers building houses in hurricane-stricken areas,” said Challenger. “It really helps on their college applications in a way that scooping ice cream at Dairy Queen doesn’t necessarily do.”

In addition to making a difference in their communities, young people also feel pressure to pursue opportunities that will spruce up their résumés for college and beyond. 

Mel Spiegel, 22, a recent graduate of Colgate University, spent every summer in college doing a combination of interning and volunteering. While on break each year, Spiegel had at least three internships and also budgeted time for volunteering with New York Cares, a nonprofit that facilitates both long- and short-term volunteer projects for New Yorkers. Before heading off to an internship, Spiegel would often prepare and serve breakfast at a soup kitchen in New York City.  

“Young people are more motivated now to give back than ever,” Spiegel said. “Our generation feels like we need to take action to change the status quo in our communities.”

Growth in volunteering among U.S. teens coincided with the decline in youth summer employment. The percentage of teenagers wh

Kir Siththi Thxng Chit / EyeEm via Getty Images

Growth in volunteering among U.S. teens coincided with the decline in youth summer employment. The percentage of teenagers who volunteer more than doubled between 1989 and 2005, from 13 percent to 28 percent, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Changes in school schedules and academic rigor also interfere with teenagers’ ability to work. The school year for many students starts before Labor Day, making it difficult for teens to commit to summer jobs. More young people take Advanced Placement courses and other classes to prepare for college.

Still, taking an unpaid internship over an hourly-wage gig remains a privilege for teens who can afford to forgo the steady extra income. For teenagers who do work over the summer, it’s unlikely they’ll be spending their days folding T-shirts or peddling jeans. They’re also not getting as many jobs in manufacturing or construction, which has declined among this demographic since 2000. There’s been a “modest” uptick in the number of teens who get jobs in the arts, entertainment and recreation. In 2017, 8.7 percent of teens worked in that industry, compared with 7.5 percent in 2000, according to Pew.

But the employment rate among teens isn’t going to increase anytime soon, experts say. By 2024, there should be an even lower teen participation rate in the workforce, according to BLS. 

“It’s a huge drop,” said Challenger of the decline in youth employment rates. “It’s not that teenagers are lazy. They’re making a rational choice that the world around them has changed.”

This is part of our five-story series spotlighting the current state of retail in America


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11-Step Guide to Buying A House





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





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





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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