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Why It’s Important To Keep Our Educational Borders Open

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By Jen E. Clarke, executive director, One To World

Corporate conversations around improving diversity and inclusion have become more critical in recent years, fueled by the charged political atmosphere of the Me Too movement, athletes taking a knee, border barriers and more. Less prominent, but critically important still, is the threat to a boundary that’s not as visible: the “open borders” in education that have historically allowed for some of the brightest minds to enrich our campuses.

I know this because the organization I lead, One To World, has served international students, Fulbright scholars and international educators for the past four decades at more than 65 colleges and universities in the New York metropolitan area. Every day, we spearhead programs that bring unofficial global ambassadors into American schools, homes and workplaces.

What the U.S. has to offer is unique — not just world-class academic programs, but also the freedom inherent in the experience of studying at our nation’s campuses. However, with the recent twists and turns in immigration and foreign policy, there’s a real concern that the U.S., while aiming to be “great again,” is becoming less competitive in the international higher education market, in which it previously had the pole position. 

It is this concern that led me to join the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion as a signatory, to add our organization’s unique mission of fostering intercultural exchange to the broader campaign of workplace acceptance. Addressing global differences at schools and campuses can set the foundation for employees and executives to be more culturally sensitive and open.

High-quality higher education and the dynamism of the New York City region have made the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut the biggest magnet for international students, with New York alone drawing over 100,000 annually to its renowned institutions.

But in 2016, for the first time in over a decade, international student enrollment in the U.S. began declining. Between the fall of 2017 and 2018, new enrollments of international students were down by 5.5 percent at the graduate level across the nation, according to the 2018 “Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange” issued by the Institute of International Education. At the undergraduate level, new enrollments were down 6.3 percent across the U.S. during that same period. We are concerned that this decline will only continue.

Currently, thousands of international scholars in the New York City area are pursuing degrees in science, math and other STEM-related fields of studies, even as fewer Americans are selecting these career paths.  These STEM paths give birth to innovation, new discoveries and advances that will transform economies. In fact, some of the best-known start-ups were founded by international students: SpaceX, Eventbrite, WeWork and Stripe, to name just a few.

Included in the ranks of international scholars are the elite Fulbright grantees from around the world. Each year, the New York area draws over 800 of these international talents, who have overcome rigorous, highly competitive stakes to be chosen to represent their countries at our institutions. They join their American classmates in pursuing traditional, as well as leading-edge degrees, ranging from business and law, to integrated digital media and robotic software engineering.

Following their studies, many Fulbrighters will return to their hometowns to take up leading roles in government or the private sector. One To World is designated by the Department of State as the official coordinator of Fulbright programs in the New York area, and I can tell you that the Fulbright scholars  arrive full of enthusiasm to embrace their academic goals, and also to build bridges between their home countries and the American communities beyond their campuses.

We set up informal dinners inside homes for them; bring them into New York’s leading boardrooms, to our elite military institutions, like West Point; and into public school classrooms. They and other international students are unofficial ambassadors to American K-12 students, peers, professionals and families. And vice versa.

This was the intent of Senator J. William Fulbright when he founded the educational exchange program after World War II. He believed that creating a tipping point of people who had actually visited each other’s countries and experienced one another’s cultures would prevent future conflicts.

One To World has witnessed the benefits of these cultural exchanges directly. We know international students increase global fluency on our campuses, are a potential source of top talent for global and American firms and contribute to the economic health of local businesses and the cities in which they reside.

Without having more welcoming policies toward international visitors, including students, we risk losing this important resource and “soft power” abroad. Other countries are dangling more attractive visa regulations, offering after-graduation work options and financial assistance. Meanwhile, the U.S. is implementing travel bans and stricter visa requirements with longer processing times, making it harder for students to come with ease.

For all of these reasons, we’re concerned to see classroom seats being filled by fewer and fewer international students. Closing off the educational borders will only serve to cut us off from becoming more culturally competent, make our world a little less compassionate and rob us of diverse knowledge and connections.

Last week, I joined our academic partners in celebrating International Education Week, which included the inaugural International Education Day at the United Nations. It’s a welcome annual spotlight, and in these uncertain times, especially meaningful to us, as it gave us an opportunity to advocate for open educational borders before a global audience.

Diversity and inclusion has often  been thought about in the context of the American experience. But with technology shrinking the world into one global village, we believe that real inclusion must embrace cultures from all over.

The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion was spearheaded by PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan.

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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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