Guest post by BMO Mortgage Specialist, Kelly Sullivan.
In January 2011, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the following amendments to the minimum standards for the mortgage insurance guarantee framework:
In plain English, what this means is that the maximum mortgage period is to be reduced from 35 to 30 years and, when refinancing, the maximum amount you can borrow is to reduce from 90 to 85% of your property’s value.
There is, however, a time-limited exception to these rules. If you have an agreement that’s approved by your bank prior to March 15, 2011, you can still obtain a 35 year mortgage or borrow up to 90% of your property’s value.
Whether or not it’s a good idea to borrow the maximum amount or to refinance over the maximum period will depend on your circumstances.
If you are having toilet troubles – and I mean in the literal sense – there are some easy and affordable steps you can take to try to fix it yourself, before calling in a plumber.
There are an abundance of YouTube videos that illustrate how to fix a toilet; some of the videos are great, many more are crap (no pun intended). Here are a few videos that do a good job at explaining how to fix common problems. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, leave a comment to let us know what toilet troubles you’re having and we’ll do our best to help you out!
If you have a leaky toilet, this video will teach you how to replace a damaged seal:
This next YouTube video will show you how to fix a toilet that won’t stop running:
And finally, this DIY toilet repair video will teach you how to fix a toilet that has a leaky flapper valve:
If you don’t like average – you’ve got our attention.
We’re looking for someone who shares our obsession.
Ensuring that every customer gets to experience the thrill of happiness.
At Martell Home Builders, we believe that people are more important than churning out houses – and to build a tribe of raving fans you must consistently create an experience that customers can’t wait to talk about.
As our Customer Experience Representative – you’re one of the first and last people they’ll remember.
So aside from being organized, and a little intuitive – you’ve got to love people.
If we’re a fit – your best friends will likely agree you consistently demonstrate the following:
Average doesn’t work here. Never has, never will.
If you’re still nodding your head in interest, we want to hear from you!
Some key responsibilities of this position include:
There are a few skills we’re looking for:
We thank you in advance for applying but only those selected for an interview will be contacted.
Competitive Salary & Benefits:
Based on demonstrated ability and experience.
Travel/Training (as required).
The preceding job description has been designed to indicate the general nature and level of work performed by employees within this classification. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job.
Of course you are! If you think you or someone you know have what it takes to be a part of the MHB team, send your resume to email@example.com. Please understand that we will only be responding to those who we’re interested in chatting further with.
If you’re sick of all the bloody snow we’ve had lately and you want to give your poor blistered paws a rest, even for one day, then check out our Facebook promotion. If you win, we’ll come and clear your driveway of all this horrible white stuff. Here’s what you need to do:
2. Take a photo of why you’re the most worthy person to have your driveway ploughed and post it on our Facebook page. (If you don’t want to take a photo, you can get out your crayons and draw us a picture.)
3. Be creative and make us laugh. Bonus points if we find ourselves ROFL.
Deadline for new entries is Tuesday, February.15, 2011. The winner will be chosen by the MHB team and announced the next day (Wednesday, February.16, 2011).
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’re probably familiar with the controversy over internet metering or usage-based billing (UBB) for bandwidth. Currently, small ISPs are able to “rent” bandwidth on an unlimited basis from the large service providers. However, a recent decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) permits those large companies to switch to a UBB system when providing that bandwidth to the smaller ISPs. OpenMedia.ca has launched a Stop the Meter campaign claiming:
This means we’re looking at a future where ISPs will charge per byte, the way they do with smart phones. If we allow this to happen Canadians will have no choice but to pay MUCH more for less Internet. Big Telecom companies are obviously trying to gouge consumers, control the Internet market, and ensure that consumers continue to subscribe to their television services.
These Big Telecom companies are forcing small competing ISPs to adopt the same pricing scheme, so that we have no choice but to pay these punitive fees.
This will crush innovative services, Canada’s digital competitiveness, and your wallet.
The campaign has certainly drummed up some support and, to date, more than 400,000 people have signed the petition. Government seems to have listened too. According to reports, the CRTC has announced that it will review its decision after Industry Minister Tony Clement stated that government would overrule the decision if the CRTC did not do so voluntarily. That said, the battle may not be won. According to the Vancouver Sun, CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein stated:
I would like to reiterate the commission’s view that usage-based billing is a legitimate principle for pricing Internet services,” he said. “We are convinced that Internet services are no different than other public utilities, and the vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users. For us, it is a question of fundamental fairness. Let me restate: ordinary users should not be forced to subsidize heavy users.
On one hand, we’ve become used to almost unrestricted access and, let’s face it, who wants to see their internet bill increase? On the other hand, increased bandwidth use means increased infrastructure costs, and that has to be paid for somehow. It really boils down to a matter of how we want the costs to be shared. Should costs be shared out equally with everybody paying the exact same amount, irrespective of how much bandwidth they use? Or is von Finckenstein correct in saying “ordinary users should not be forced to subsidize heavy users”?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Co-author of The NOW Revolution talks about us in an interview with SocialMediaExaminer.com.
Michael Stelzner, the Executive Editor and founder of SocialMediaExaminer.com, recently interviewed Jay Baer, the founder of Convince & Convert and co-author of the new book The NOW Revolution. Here’s a summary of what the book is about (taken from the book’s website):
“Every customer is a potential reporter, and every employee is a potential spokesperson. Business has changed more in the past three years than in the prior 30. But it’s not a threat, it’s an opportunity. The NOW Revolution shows you how. This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, it outlines how you can retool your organization to capitalize on real-time business. Learn the seven shifts that make your company faster, smarter, and more social, each explained with case studies, useful tips, and actionable implementation advice.”
So, why are we telling you about this? Because the interview is full of awesomeness about us (not that we want to toot our own horn)! Here’s a snippet from the interview:
Mike: This is pretty mind-blowing. Talk to me about a story in particular, or a business that you discovered in the process of writing the book that might be doing this right. Is there any particular business that stood out in the process of crafting this book?
Jay: Almost every example in the book is of a small- or medium-sized business. I would say 90% to 95% of the examples in the book are purposely from small- and medium-sized businesses because we didn’t want to write a book for Ford or IBM.
One that I like best is Martell Home Builders. They’re in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. The owner is Pierre Martell, a young guy. They’ve been in the homebuilding business for four years, and while the Canadian homebuilding market hasn’t had the catastrophic declines that we’ve had in the U.S., it certainly hasn’t been an easy road.
When Martell first started out, they had to rely quite heavily on realtors to bring in prospects and help them drum up interest for their houses. That first year, 92% of all of their sales were through realtors, so they were paying commissions, and commissions in Canada are higher even than they are in the U.S.
Pierre decided that they ought to tell their own story, instead of having realtors tell their story. “He was prodded along by his brother, Dan Martell, who is actually the CTO of Flowtown, a company I think you’re familiar with, and some of your readers and listeners may be as well. Dan said, “You’ve got to get on this social media train,” and convinced him to do it.
Mike: Sure, the rationale was, “If we can sell a house without a commission, we just take most of that money and return it to the company,” right?
Jay: Precisely. They started telling stories about the organization in a really fantastic blog, and the blog isn’t really about them at all. It’s about winterizing tips and what you can do in New Brunswick, so it’s really fun marketing—it’s “unmarketing,” as Scott Stratten would call it. Pierre has a very successful Twitter account where he just talks about relevant issues and helps people and does it in a very authentic and natural way.
But then they do some crazy stuff. This is the one that really blew us away. Their foremen, who are actually out there helping customers and building houses, all have GPS tracking devices in their work trucks, so if you’re a customer of Martell’s and you ask, “Where is the guy? He’s supposed to come over here and fix my ceiling,” or whatever, you can dial up the web page and see where his truck is at any time.
They have completely adopted this 2.0, storytelling, authentic, executional approach, and two years later, they went from 92% of their deals through realtors to 12% of their deals through realtors and a 300% increase in sales.
Mike: Just so I understand, they decided to go ahead and blog and create outstanding content that was going to be really valuable to their community—their prospective buyers, if you will—and probably an even larger audience. A lot of people found great value in that, and some of them said, “I want to learn more about these guys,” and that’s how it got started as far as getting the word out?
Jay: Yes, everybody just comes directly to the company.
Mike: And then they employed some really cool full transparency: “If you want to know where we are, this is where we are.”
Jay: Yes, because you’re talking about a huge purchase, and the psychology of homebuying is you’re always nervous. So what they’ve done is humanize the company. They’ve reduced the perception of risk by putting together all these tracking mechanisms and date guarantees, and you can find your foreman, so they’ve created humanization.
As a result, what they have now are direct sales—people come in and say, “I don’t need to hear any more. I want to buy a house from you because I believe in your company.”
One of the success metrics they use is the time to close a sale. When you’re trying to sell a house, it can be hours and hours, and Pierre says that it used to take them three or four hours, sometimes as many as eight hours. He said their new record from somebody walking in the office to signing a house agreement is 35 minutes.
Mike: Their blog has probably enabled them to build a lot of trust with people before they even get to the point of purchase.
Jay: They’re already sold when they walk in the door.
To read the entire interview, click here.
Which is your favourite?
How cool is that? Jay mentions our post Top 24 Things to Do to Get Your Home Ready for Winter in the interview, which got us wondering: which MHB blog post is your favourite? Leave a comment to let us know! Also, we would love to hear any requests you have for future blog posts!
Follow us on Twitter (if you’re not already!)
Pierre Martell: @martellhomes
Mike Stelzner: @smexaminer
Jay Baer: @jaybaer