One of the Toronto talk radio stations run by redneck, Tea Party wannabe, reactionary fundamentalist knuckle-draggers (aren’t they all?) asked me to debate yesterday. Sadly for my opponent, I was on an airplane. Thus, I did not meet Kerri Lynn McAlister.
At least that’s who I was told would be the intended foil to my renting-is-actually-okay position. Until I got off that plane, first in Montreal, afterwards in Nova Scotia, I had no idea who KLM is. Then I read the Toronto Star. There she was.
“Kerri Lynn McAllister was shocked last month to receive notice of an almost 10% increase — $150 a month — on the downtown condo she and her boyfriend had been renting for $1,625,” a large article – syndicated in a number of dailies this week – detailed. “She was even more surprised to find out the hike — three times what’s allowed for most apartments under provincial rent controls — was perfectly legal.”
My first thought was that KLM must have been born in the far north country and raised by beavers. New-build condos have been exempt from Ontario rent control for years. Why renters shoehorned into all those concrete boxes would not know this is remarkable on its own. Can they not spell ‘google’?
The story had a central theme: renters are victims. Screwed. And the investors who own those condos are the screwees.
“Downtown condo realtor Andrew la Fleur estimates condo rents in the core have jumped 10 to 15 per cent just in the last year because of the perfect storm now hitting Toronto’s downtown… La Fleur calls the ability to impose rent hikes of anywhere from $50 to $5,000 a month an investors’ secret weapon. ‘Wow. Let that sink in for a minute,’ he says in a recent blog.”
Of course, as I’ve proven time and again, reality is something quite different. Most investor-landlords are lucky to break even on their condos, usually in negative cash flow because market rents simply can’t cover financing, condo fees and taxes – let alone give a return on invested equity. In other words, someone like KLM renting a unit for $1,625 is being subsidized by the delusional twit who actually owns the place, even with a mortgage at sub-3%. They’re also avoiding the looming disaster of a condo market meltdown – a story now getting almost daily coverage.
How could a smart young professional not figure this out? Unless she has zero real estate knowledge?
As I walked through the airport, powered up my phone and checked out the latest anguished comments to this tormented blog, I suddenly realized who Kerri Lynn McAlister really is. She’s a plant.
This is no dumbass, hitchhiked-in-from-Kenora, gee-whiz babe. She’s a seasoned online marketer, media groupie and one of the key executives for a growing company that flogs mortgages – none of which was revealed in the newspaper article, but pointed out by readers here.
For the record, this woman is Chief Marketing Officer for RateHub.ca, which makes all its money from click-through referrals to mortgage providers. She has also worked in marketing and communications at Calum Ross Mortgage. RateHub’s bio points out the obvious talent KLM has exhibited for getting attention: “As the team’s master marketer, she’s always looking for new ways to increase the company’s presence, both online and off. She’s on almost every social networking site you can think of, so look her up! Just be prepared to read tweets about marketing, travel, fashion, The Bachelor, and everything in between.”
There’s more: “Kerri-Lynn is frequently quoted in the press on topics related to both the mortgage industry and successful marketing tactics. She has appeared in publications such as The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s Magazine and the Toronto Star.”
Wait. There must be a mistake. How could Kerri-Lynn have been featured in a Star story about how bad renting is when she’s appeared in the same publication as a real estate and mortgage expert? Did the reporter know this and unethically suppress it? Or did she unprofessionally fail to research? Huh? I’m so confused.
As it turns out, KLM is also a newspaper writer and industry spokesperson.
Check out this comment she made to Maclean’s magazine on fixed vs variable home loans. Does this sound like an ingénue?
Actually, variable rates are generally less attractive right now compared to fixed rates. Typically, variable rates follow the direction of the target interest rate set by the Bank of Canada; however, while the target rate has remained unchanged for over a year, variable mortgage rates have risen. This is because banks have reduced the discounts they offer on the prime lending rate. A few months ago five-year variable rates could be found at a discount of -0.95 per cent to the (3.0 per cent) prime rate but now are closer to -0.25 per cent on the prime rate (2.75 per cent), or at a premium-to-prime (3.1 per cent) with the big banks. Comparing this to a fixed rate of the same term duration, the spread between them is very small. Or, put another way, there is a very small premium to pay for the security of a fixed rate. Variable rates with shorter terms (one-three years) are actually higher than their fixed counterparts right now.
And is that level of knowledge consistent with the pouty post she made on her Facebook page?
I’m going to be on the radio tomorrow… I agreed to this before I read all the hater comments on the Star article. I would like to point out I never complained about the premium I pay for living downtown. I was crying over the fact I thought I was protected by rental regulations.
Well, come to your own conclusions. But I’d say this is just another great example of an industry which is as out-of-control as it is unregulated. Stick it in the file with the yellow helo over White Rock full of fake realtors, the rented Lawn Asians outside new condo sales offices or the Van marketing employees impersonating buyers from China in front of TV cameras.
This should tell you much.