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Canadians Can Learn From Each Other

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 30 September 2003 00:00

Canadian media focus on high-end real estate deals and million-dollar homes, often ignoring the millions of moderate and mid-range real estate transactions taking place across Canada. This lopsided view may leave you feeling left out because you can't afford something grand. But real estate can help almost anyone realize grand dreams and goals when they stop daydreaming and act.

Here's one Canadian's real real estate story to illustrate how persistence is often the most important ingredient in success...

Even before Joanne Lowe made the leap from a deadline-driven advertising career to owner of The Big Stretch Yoga Centre , she saw the "no stress" side of many financial issues, including home ownership.

"RRSPs gave me the freedom to own a home, something I did not think about when I started with RRSPs," said Lowe who feels investing in Registered Retirement Savings Plans and real estate helped her transform her life. "It is just one of those things you wish you knew about earlier. Now when I look back, I think, ‘Gee, if I had just put a lump sum in and left it.' If I have kids, I'll be telling them about it."

Lowe received a unique RRSP education when she joined a small Toronto advertising agency in 1990 and worked for two major financial clients -- a mutual fund company and a leading bank.

"Even though it was boring the hell out of me, I learned a lot about RRSPs over the years," explained Lowe, who was happy to quit her job when an interest in yoga blossomed into a business idea.

Determined to self-finance her business, Lowe sold the condominium which she bought at 30 when she decided "it was time to act like a grown-up."

"I don't like to owe and I wanted to be clean and free and build my business on my own," she said, explaining why she didn't consider bank loans. "I owned a condo, which I could buy because I used the RRSP Home Buyers Plan . I made C$48,000 on the sale of the condo -- clear profit after lawyers and things like that."

One of Lowe's greatest struggles was finding good space for her yoga centre since many landlords were suspicious of yoga and some would not even show her their premises. This experience taught Lowe lessons about commercial leasing that she still employs.

"Always look around at properties, know what's out there and plan ahead," she says. "Negotiate leases early so that if it is not favourable to you, you still have lots of time to look around and find a new location."

Firmly committed to home ownership, Lowe started looking at condominiums as soon as her business began growing.

"I did look into buying a condo again around 2001 or so," she explains. "The first time that I explored it, I discovered that I wasn't ready yet, not necessarily financially, but also on ‘paper.' But I think it's a good exercise to look for a place and go through the process even if the timing isn't right and it doesn't work out at that time."

When Lowe was ready in 2002, her life had changed and, instead of solo condo buying, she was house shopping as a couple with two dogs. Finding the ideal house was easier than arranging the necessary financing, but persistence paid off.

"Even though we think we are amazing and upstanding citizens, what Steven and I realized [was] that we were held below ditch diggers in the eyes of the banks as we were both self-employed," she said, explaining that they were paying more in rent than the new mortgage and expenses would be, but couldn't get anywhere with the bank. "I think that because we knew what we wanted, we tried even harder and would not take ‘no' for an answer. We ended up getting what we wanted."

Persistence is the key to success in most things including real estate. Although mortgage brokers can often make financing easier, especially for self-employed buyers, and real estate buyer agents can clarify legalities, unless you get out there no one can help you achieve anything.

Lowe's yoga advice to relieve stress though out the process? Remember to breath.

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PJ Wade

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic speaker and author of 8 books and more than 1800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

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