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Majority of baby boomers would opt for semi-retirement if employers only allowed: poll

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The majority of working baby boomers would stay on the job longer if employers allowed them to shift into semi-retirement — but most workplaces don’t provide that option, a new survey suggests.

With unemployment in Canada at record lows and a labour shortage poised to hit critical levels when boomers hang up their hats, semi-retirement could be one way to help manage that crisis.

Since working longer puts more money in people’s wallets when they do retire, that increased spending power would benefit the economy as well.

Conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of staffing agency Express Employment Professionals, the poll found that 76 per cent of Canadian baby boomers respondents said they’d opt for a flexible work schedule if allowed, while 60 per cent would choose reduced hours with reduced benefits.

The online survey of 500 Canadian workers aged 54 to 72 suggests a disconnect between the willingness of the enormous baby boomer cohort to stick around during the labour shortage, and a lack of options for those who’d like a gradual exit from the workplace.

The survey also found that 56 per cent of respondents said they’d like to transition to a consulting-style role, if given the opportunity.

Yet only 30 per cent of the boomers surveyed said their employer offered any sort of semi-retirement option. Additionally, only 36 per cent said their employers had ever brought a former employee out of retirement.

Teresa Pitman says she’d welcome part-time work when she approaches retirement. She’s pictured here with two of her 10 grandchildren: Dexter, left, and Walter, right. (Alison Lee photo)

Teresa Pitman, who works full time as a communications co-ordinator for Family and Children Services of the Waterloo Region, says she’d welcome a semi-retirement arrangement when she’s ready to scale back. 

“I would like to be able to work here part time, and I think that I will continue to have something to contribute,” she said. “I really like the people here that I work for and that I work with. It would be really good to be able to keep that relationship going … but without it being full time.”

Rethinking all-or-nothing retirement

If Pitman wasn’t working full-time, perhaps her hours would be flexible enough to avoid poor road conditions, she says, like the blizzard she drove through on her way to work Friday. 

Her top priority: Spending time with her 10 grandchildren.

“I’d love to have the flexibility to be more available to them,” she said.

Employment experts say we may want to rethink our all-or-nothing definitions of retirement.

Jessica Culo owns several Express Employment franchises in the Edmonton area and is the Canadian spokesperson for the company, which also has locations in the U.S. and South Africa. 

Even though Alberta is still recovering from the provincial recession of 2016 and 2017, she says, even employers there can’t ignore the potential problems posed by a significant increase in retirements in as little as two years from now.

“We all know what it’s like to be in an applicant-short market: It’s expensive, it’s not fun, it inhibits growth,” Culo said. “The leaders of organizations have got to have that foresight.” 

Jessica Culo, of Express Employment Professionals, says baby boomers are willing to mentor younger staffers, but in most cases the structures and practices are just not in place to facilitate that. (Express Employment Professionals)

Putting in place semi-retirement arrangements that could help with the labour shortage will require “being more creative on the side of the employers,” she said.

That could mean allowing older staff members to work flexible hours, a shortened workweek, shorter shifts or working remotely to cut commuting time. It could also include transitioning people into consultancy roles to work on a project basis.

Making room for mentoring

Culo says all of those tools could help address another critical aspect of boomer retirement that the survey highlighted: ensuring critical knowledge doesn’t walk out the door when they do.

Only 40 cent of respondents say they’ve passed at least half of the knowledge required for their positions on to younger staff members, and 51 per cent don’t believe their employers have adequate succession plans.

Culo says boomers are willing to mentor — 82 per cent of poll respondents said as much, in fact — but in most cases they’re not doing it. “Probably because there aren’t really systems or practices or processes that allow for that.”

Rosemary Venne, an associate professor of business at the University of Saskatchewan, says ‘flexibility is not something that employers are good at.’ (University of Saskatchewan)

Part-time workers and consultants could slide nicely into mentoring and training positions, she says, but it may take a mind shift on behalf of management.

“It may mean adding to your overhead by payrolling someone to take on that purely mentorship role.”

In many cases, it won’t even have occurred to employers to extend people’s time at work through semi-retirement, says Rosemary Venne, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business who specializes in human resources and demographics.

“Flexibility is not something that employers are good at,” she said.

Partial retirement is such an ideal thing because more and more of our self-concept is tied up in work. To give that up when you retire is difficult for some people.– Rosemary  Venne , University of Saskatchewan

A 2011 paper she penned with celebrated demographer David Foot, the author of Boom, Bust and Echo, explained that too little attention has been paid to the impact of increasing life expectancy on retirement policies.

The paper — entitled “The long goodbye” — made the case for partial retirement schemes that remove barriers to going part-time, such as pension disincentives.

That makes sense when you consider that in 1965, when the retirement age was set at 65, the average life expectancy was 71.9 years. Today average life expectancy in Canada is around 80 for men and 84 for women.

Keeping a hand in work can be good for emotional health and life satisfaction as well.

“Partial retirement is such an ideal thing, because more and more of our self-concept is tied up in work,” Venne said. “We’ve increased our educational attainment. To give that up when you retire is difficult for some people.”

In some ways, Teresa Pitman is the ideal retiree. She has spent long portions of her career as a freelancer, and as the author of 18 books about baby care, she can turn to her writing career to keep her busy, engaged and sharp.

“I have writing that I’m quite confident that will always continue. But I do know people a bit older than me who are sometimes a little bit at sea. Their life had been organized around work. I just see that they’re not quite sure what to do with themselves.”

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Real Estate

Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation

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If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips

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The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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