Moncton Real Estate Developer Opened A Theatre Company - Canadanewsmedia
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Moncton Real Estate Developer Opened A Theatre Company

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MONCTON – Real-estate developer Cyril Johnston believes that theatre can be an economic driver, so he decided to open RoundHouse Productions, a theatre company that will present its first show next week at the Empress Theatre.

Johnston, the company’s president, says the idea had been a subject of discussion for a few months prior to its incorporation on February 1.

“It’s a project that a few of us have been talking about for a long time,” he said.

He named the company RoundHouse Productions because of Moncton’s history as a railroad town. Plus, he liked the name, and his office is located near an old roundhouse.

Johnston says his wife, Andrea, has been involved in the decision of beginning the company. They both own Colston Properties, a real-estate developer of commercial and industrial properties.

“Having a business background has helped tremendously in terms of the business-oriented tasks of setting up a theatre company,” he said.

The couple also have a theatre background. Johnston has worked for companies in New Brunswick – such as Saint John Theatre Company and Collective Theatrics in Fredericton – and Ontario for about seven years. They decided to take some time off from theatre to raise their children.

“When the children were old enough to be on the road is when we really got more active in the theatre world,” he said.

Johnston says turning the idea into a reality wasn’t that difficult because of his theatre network in Moncton, and because he and his wife have the necessary skills to make the project come forward.

“I knew that if we put together a good framework and were able to give the creative people, the director, the light people, the actors, the support that they needed, then people would be very enthusiastic about coming on board,” he said.

The Tingley Group of RBC Dominion Securities is the main sponsor for the company’s first show, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Other sponsors include Cox & Palmer, Cheers, Heritage Developments Limited, Roadway Systems, Cushman & Wakefield, Incolor, and Newco Construction, who has also built some set constructions.

Johnston says all the sponsors were enthusiastic about contributing to the show.

“Every single person we asked was on board immediately. We had a budget of what we were hoping to get through sponsorship, and we achieved that, and I’m sure we could’ve gotten more if we had asked,” he said.

It also struck him that the sponsors shared his view of looking at theatre as an economic driver.

“The sponsors really seemed to understand the importance of theatre in terms of both the vibrancy in the community and in terms of what it can offer, in terms of helping develop a community economically,” he said.

The company’s board of directors chose the show because it’s well-known as a novel and had a good theatre adaptation.

“It’s one of the most wonderful things I have ever read, and I think audiences are going to enjoy this tremendously,” he said.

Johnston says the show is a small one, with around 20 people in the cast – without including the staff at the Empress Theatre – and a budget in the low five-figure range.

He believes Moncton – and New Brunswick overall – is lagging in terms of having theatre as an economic driver, compared to other Maritime provinces, such as Prince Edward Island.

“In the town of North Rustico, they have professional theatre running every night, all summer long, and that attracts an enormous number of people over the course of the summer to that community. Victoria-by-the-Sea attracts a large number of people to that community as part of the overall vacation experience,” he said.

Johnston believes a true summer experience could be developed in Moncton and New Brunswick, where people can reliably go and expect to see good theatre.

“Our group obviously is a long way from being able to offer that, but that’s something that I would like to see developed in this area over time, where people who live here and people who are traveling here have this as something on their radar that they would like to do while they are in the area,” he said.

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Blackstone raises $20.5 billion for largest ever real estate fund

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U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc said on Wednesday it has raised the largest ever real estate fund, amassing $20.5 billion to be invested in property assets around the world.

Large buyout firms such as Blackstone have been attracting a lot of capital from investors seeking higher returns not available in public markets.

The capital ready to be deployed has swollen to over $2 trillion, according to data provider Prequin, driving up asset prices and deal making activity.

Blackstone said in a statement the fund, named Blackstone Real Estate Partners IX (BREP IX), has already made its first investment: the purchase of U.S. industrial warehouse properties from Singapore-based logistics provider GLP for $18.7 billion.

The deal, in which BREP IX co-invested with other Blackstone funds, was announced in June and is expected to close in coming weeks, the company said.

Blackstone is the world’s largest alternative asset manager and one of the biggest property investors, with $154 billion in real estate assets under management. (Reporting by Chibuike Oguh; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Real estate lessons to live by Pattie Lovett-Reid

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Real estate lessons

Disclaimer: I’m not a real estate expert but I am a real estate junkie.

I’ve often thought about the many ways there are to make money – and there are many. Throughout the years, we have created side hustles, worked hard at our jobs, built an investment portfolio and we have bought and sold a lot of real estate.

We love real estate, and over the past 25 years, we have bought and sold six principle residents and six recreational properties. The majority of our housing transactions made money, and we broke even on a couple. There have also been lessons learned along the way.

Here are a few.

1. Listen to the experts. They are qualified in their field so believe them when they say location sells. Try not to be the most expensive house on the street and don’t let your emotions drive your buying or selling decisions.

2. Don’t fall in love with your assets, or in this case, your home. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions financially and that may mean selling the family home. Your assets will never love you back but your family will.

3. When selling, don’t be greedy. If your home isn’t selling, it is priced too high. Listen to what prospective buyers are silently telling you as they move on and check out the next listing.

4. Get your home ready to sell as soon as you move in. Life has a funny way of throwing you a curve ball when you least expect it. Curb appeal matters but the inside likely matters more. This is where you live. Keep it neutral and up to date. Look at your home as a prospective buyer would.  Small changes can yield big financial results.

5. Avoid concentration risk. Don’t put all your money in the real estate basket.

6. Take the time to save up the down payment. Consider all-in and all-out costs such as insurance, appraisals, real estate, moving, land transfer costs and the dreaded unknown repairs. There will always be something that requires your financial attention.

7. Don’t buy beyond your means. I’ve been there and it isn’t fun. No one wants to be 100 per cent house poor. You aren’t expected to be flush with cash when you are new homeowner but you also don’t want to live life worrying about the next mortgage payment each month.

8. Buy low and sell high. Even if you love real estate you are always scouting out new opportunities, this investment mantra still must hold true.

9. Focus on your stage of life. Do you really want to be building your dream home for your family as your children head off to university or are beginning to build their own lives under their own roof? Just because you want your family there doesn’t mean they will be. Buy for reality not dreams.

10. Put in offers earlier in the week. You are more likely to have less competition and more likely to get a deal if you do. Everyone is out   looking on the weekends. Don’t follow the herd mentality.

11. Take advantage of the capital gains exemption on your principle residence. This is one of the best tax-savings opportunities to create wealth I know.

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B.C. Real Estate Association forecasts lower mortgage rates in 2019

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The cost of borrowing for a home is predicted to get a little cheaper this year.

That’s according to the latest mortgage rate forecast from the B.C. Real Estate Association.

“The average contract rate for 5-year mortgages has declined about 30 basis points from its peak in 2018, reaching 3.44 per cent in March,” the BCREA states in a two-page report. “Unfortunately, this still means a stress test rate of 5.44 per cent, even for the highest quality borrowers.”

However, the association points out that if five-year bond yields remain at the current level, “a 5-year qualifying rate of under 5 per cent should follow suit.”

The contract rate refers to the interest percentage listed on the face of a note or a bond.

The qualifying rate refers to a lender’s determination of what a borrower can afford. This takes into account a person’s income, debt obligations, utility, and living costs, as well as the amortization period and mortgage rate.

The qualifying rate is forecast to fall to 4.99 percent in the second quarter and 4.84 percent in the third quarter, before rising to 4.99 percent in the fourth quarter.

“While there is an outside chance of a rate cut from the Bank of Canada, our baseline is for the Bank to remain on hold for 2019,” the BCREA states. “Therefore, we are forecasting no change in the prime rate, from which variable rates are discounted.”

The BCREA predicts that the qualifying rate will rise to between 5.14 percent and 5.34 percent in 2020.

Metro Vancouverites carry large debt loads

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Metro Vancouver leads the country in the ratio of liabilities to annual income at 242 percent.

The mortgage debt-to-interest ratio in this region is 178 percent, which is three times the figure in St. John, New Brunswick, which has the lowest rate in the country.

CMHC released this chart in December, showing that Metro Vancouver residents, on average, have the highest debt-to-income ratio in the country.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

In October 2017, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions announced that the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of two figures:

* the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada;

* or the contractual mortgage rate plus two percent.

This meant that many homebuyers could not take out as large a mortgage, reducing the value of what they could afford to purchase.

That, in turn, is one of the factors cited in the monumental slowdown in the Metro Vancouver housing market in 2018.

The BCREA report questions whether these new mortgage stress-test rules can continue to apply to Canadians with more than 20 percent in home equity.

That’s because the association maintains that they “will be stress tested at a rate much higher than what we estimate as a long-run equilibrium mortgage rate”.

“Given the disruption caused in Canadian housing markets by the stress test at the presently lower rates, the stress test is not likely to be sustainable in the long-run as currently constituted,” the BCREA declares.

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