Don’t get burned in the red-hot real estate market

Timely tips for first-time homebuyers

Real estate is hot, hot, hot. Just ask anyone trying to buy a home in Vancouver or Toronto. The Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index was up 0.5% in January from December. The rise matched the largest January increases in the index, set in 2003 and 2010. Home prices were up in seven of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed by Teranet. And the composite index rose above 200 in January, signalling that home prices in the 11 markets as a whole have doubled since June 2005. READ MORE

How to tell if your advisor is delivering value

Five key questions to ask

Horizons ETF Management, a leading Canadian provider of exchange-traded funds, recently announce that it will be cancelling the Advisor-class units (that is, units that pay a fee to advisors who recommend them) on its Canadian-listed exchange-traded funds (ETFs). That press release of itself didn’t attract a lot of attention, and was mostly of interest to commission-based advisors. But in fact, it’s a symptom of some pretty earth-shaking changes going in in the world of wealth management. READ MORE

Stocks and bonds and RRSPs, oh my!

Proper asset diversification is key to long-term investment success

With recent stock market uncertainty and fluctuating bond yields, many investors are wondering whether the tried-and-true principles for stock and bond allocations in an RRSP portfolio still hold. For example, bond funds, like the iShares Universe Bond Index ETF (TSX: XBB), are believed to have lower volatility ratings than stock funds, yet bond prices have recently fallen as yields have risen. And the solid returns from equity funds like the iShares Core S&P/TSX Capped Composite Index ETF (TSX: XIC) over the past couple of years have recently begun to flag. What’s an RRSP investor to do? READ MORE

$1 million in assets, but concerned about cash

Robyn Thompson is regularly featured in The Toronto Star’s “Money Makeover” series by Deanne Gage. Money Makeover takes a look at Mary Lou, a 65-year-old widow with a portfolio valued at more than $1 million.

She is uncertain about how much income to withdraw from her investments to meet her lifestyle expenses, but also last her through her golden years.

RRSP limits and investments

How much you can contribute, what you can invest in

Among the most common questions financial advisors are asked at this time of the year are, “How much can I contribute to an RRSP?” and “What can I invest in?” Registered Retirement Savings Plans are still the best individual tax deferral vehicle available for retirement savings, so it makes sense to review the contribution limits and qualified investments. READ MORE

Avoid these three wealth destroyers in 2017

Common investment errors can hit your portfolio hard

Investors who sold out of equities after Brexit and again just after the Trump election victory quite possibly lost money last year, even though the big stock market indices turned in strong gains. Turns out they fell into one of the most common investment pitfalls. Here’s a quick guide to three of the most common investing mistakes and what you can do to avoid them in 2017. READ MORE

Your New Year’s financial resolution

Take stock of your entire financial situation

The beginning of the New Year is often a time to turn a new financial leaf: make a budget; pay down debt; save more. That’s all commendable, but these good intentions are mostly forgotten by, say, mid-February. A better idea is to take stock of your entire financial situation. Review what’s important and prioritize the items you need to take action on. Here’s a guide to help you get started. READ MORE

When does portfolio rebalancing make sense?

Skewed asset allocation can change your risk profile

Q – I believe that my investment portfolio is fairly well balanced, with about 60% in equities and 40% in fixed income assets. I do trade from time to time, but generally I stick to a buy-and-hold strategy. But with the recent surge in equities and selloff in bonds, would you recommend rebalancing now? And how often do you recommend rebalancing? – S.D. READ MORE

Are segregated funds worth the cost?

More popular with older, risk-averse investors

Many investors, especially those facing retirement, are often offered so-called “segregated” funds by their financial advisors as a way to participate in the stock market while guaranteeing their principal. Although a segregated fund might hold a portfolio identical to its non-segregated counterpart, its fees are typically much higher, while returns tend to be lower. Does it make sense to invest in seg funds? READ MORE