A picture is worth a thousand words.

Christine Fortin - Oct 01, 2020
Looking back at our article from the Spring/Summer newsletter where we spoke on “this time it is not different”. I feel for our long-term clients who have heard us regurgitate this before. However, as we fast forward 5 months since we penned the arti


Looking back at our article from the Spring/Summer newsletter where we spoke on “this time it is not different”. I feel for our long-term clients who have heard us regurgitate this before. However, as we fast forward 5 months since we penned the article – clearly this is information that bares repeating.

A picture is worth a thousand words:


Real Estate *up*date

When the fear around the current pandemic originally arose and the markets reacted, we said that one positive thing to come out of this would be a potential resurgence in the stalled real estate market of the last couple of years.

As rates moved down aggressively, some home owners were able to size up. We did expect that this would not start to show until late fall 2020/early 2021, as there would be more clarity around income and employment, and thus more ease for those wanting to make a move.

We are already seeing the heat up. Fueled by people realizing that WFH (work from home) will be a permanent part of their world in some way, they want to size up. Find a better WFH space. Perhaps have more land, a larger home. People were forced to pause and reconnect with family and realized that maybe the “house is the home” and they want to upgrade. People are willing to move further out from the city centre knowing that even if they do return to work at the office in some way – it won’t be full time and they are willing to put in a commute for a day or two a week.

The star in economic data has really been the Canadian housing data; particularly in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. There was no lack of bearish prognosticators early in the pandemic, but they have now been cast fully offside. Even the most hardened defenders of the market are suddenly looking timid on their calls, probably to the relief of bank stocks. In Toronto, sales were up a hefty 40.3% y/y from quite normal year-ago levels, leaving August as the strongest month on record after seasonal adjustment.

In Vancouver, sales jumped 36.6% y/y, with the level of activity now pushing to the highest since late-2017—recall that market was soggy heading into COVID. Montreal sales topped both, up 47% y/y. To be sure, listings are coming back onto the market at a solid clip, but not nearly fast enough to satiate heated demand. Prices in Toronto are up more than 11% from a year ago; Vancouver is up 5.3% (best since 2017); and the median single-family price in Montreal was up a cool 24%. So, the bizarro real estate recession continues, and the market ran even hotter in August. With pent-up demand still rolling out, we suspect sales will remain lofty into the fall and, if listings can’t keep pace, prices will push higher still.

One doesn’t know how long this will last. There are still many undercurrents in real estate. Meaning, not all real estate is up significantly. There is a shift from some of the very large homes that are occupied by boomer executives downsizing and the slowdown in foreign money arriving. So, although across the board there is positive movement, it is not applied uniformly across all areas.


A crucial part of your Estate Plan: A Letter of Wishes

In the spring we wrote about stress testing your estate plan during times like the pandemic. And in following with our estate planning theme we wanted to refresh you on the topic of having a letter of wishes, which can provide guidance to the executor of a will, or a trustee of a discretionary trust.

Often times a discretionary trust is created because the creator of the trust knows that the future is uncertain, and would like to provide the trustee with flexibility to meet the needs of the beneficiary in certain circumstances. In order to provide some further guidance to the trustee (or executor of a will), one can write a letter of wishes, which is a non-legally binding document outlining your general wishes of how you would like your estate to be handled. Since the document is not legally binding, it is extremely important to choose someone who you are confident will act in your best interests.

In the letter of wishes, the creator of the trust will share with the trustee (executor) their personal preferences and guidelines of estate distributions based on family history and personal preferences. Items often included are the following;

  • A suggested annual gift or monthly allowance to the beneficiary, depending on age.

  • Giving further description of legal words used in the trust agreement or will such as “Maintaining the beneficiary’s standard of living”.

  • Certain amounts that can be used for things like first homes, or education.

  • If / how much could be used to start a new business.

  • Preferred guardians, and preferences on how / where the children would be raised.

A letter of wishes may also be used to outline how gifts of sentimental value should be distributed, such as art work, jewelry, etc. It is important to note again however, that this is not a legally binding document, and these items should also be outlined in the will.

Finally, a letter of wishes can also be used to keep track of any advances of inheritance that have been given while the creator is still alive. If you would like to see an example template of a letter of wishes please click here for an example by Succession Matters. For a great and more in-depth article on this topic written by our ownNicco Bautista, please click here. If you would like further information on this, or guidance on creating your own letter of wishes, please reach out to our team.



Our last 5 months has not been what any of our team expected. Due Diligence Conferences and Our Council Conferences were cancelled, post-poned or now run virtually. Christine is a member of WPO (Women President’s Organization) and she was looking forward to the international conference taking place in her homeland, Montreal - also cancelled.

Since we communicated last, our office has allowed back 4 of 40 people. Clients and service providers will likely not be allowed access until next June. Right now, we have Spencer in 3 days a week, Sofia in 1 day a week and Christine in 1 day a week. And, our team never misses a morning virtual boardroom meeting. As mentioned in the last newsletter, as we are allowed more time in the office, Christine will permanently remain on work from home 2 days a week, conducting meetings virtually one day and the other day being a day to work on plans and investments.

Christine said early on (week 1) that we will never go back to where we came from. We are seeing this in all aspects of our life – and work from home has provided us all collectively with new outlooks. Clients have adapted and enjoyed virtual meetings requesting them on a more frequent basis even when social distancing is no longer required. We have continued to welcome new clients, especially now with the strife in the world. And it can work Avery well virtually!

Spencer and Christine have transitioned back to the gym in person and all is going smoothly – and most importantly, Christine and Sofia were able to get to the hair salon! Spencer and Christine had part 2 of their exam cancelled the day before writing in March. They were finally able to write in July and saw each other in person for the first time in 4 months! (and they both passed and are now Advanced Certified Investment Managers). Sofia will be writing the last exam this fall for her full licencing.

Over the summer, Sofia ended up going away with her family to Sun Peaks and got to experience all the area had to offer: wonderful lakes, hikes, mountain biking and wineries! Spencer was able to fit in a quick fishing trip and has just returned from a hunting trip at the baseof the Rockies. Christine and the family did end up making it to the Tyrrell museum. Christine and Kase did an annual mama/son trip to Whistler, and Christine also got away on a quick trip to the Naramata Bench with a girlfriend.