17 Oct

Mortgage renewals with the same lender are on the rise, but should you just sign on the dotted line?

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

If you’re in a mortgage that’s coming up for renewal in the coming months and you’re considering just staying with your current lender, you wouldn’t be alone.
According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Residential Mortgage Industry Report released in the summer, in 2018, the number of mortgage renewals with the same lender increased by 16 per cent over the previous year.
The report suggested one of the factors that may have contributed to large increases in loan renewals with the same institution are the tighter approval criteria. In other words, people are worried they may not qualify for a new mortgage if they switch lenders, so they’re staying put.
You’ll remember in the fall of 2017, OSFI, (the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions) the agency that regulates the financial industry, announced tighter rules on mortgages. The biggest change related to uninsured mortgages, or homebuyers with 20 per cent or more for a down payment. These people are now required to go through a “stress test” or qualify using a minimum qualifying rate.
The changes came a year after a similar stress test was introduced for insured mortgages.
If the tighter mortgage rules still have you stressed as you face a mortgage renewal, the CMHC report noted the approval rate for same lender renewals remained stable at 99 per cent. Renewals are not specifically subject to the new stress test and are more likely to meet current lender criteria, the reported noted.
So, does that mean you should just automatically renew your mortgage with the same lender when your term is up? Not necessarily. You need to reach out to a mortgage professional to get the best advice.
For starters, most lenders, especially the big banks, will send you a renewal letter when there’s about three months left on the term. Sometimes that letter could come with six months left. Typically, the lender will offer you a rate at that time and all you’ll have to do is sign at the bottom line to roll over your mortgage.
But beware, lenders often offer a higher rate than a new client because they’re hoping the ease of renewal will keep you from seeking out a new lender and lower rate.
In some cases, it may be best to just sign and roll over your mortgage. There are a few things to consider. If you decide to change lenders, you’ll basically have to go through an approval process again. That entails getting all your documents, lawyer’s fees and appraisals.
You’ll have to ask yourself, is it worth the effort to save a few basis points off your rate, or a few hundred dollars over a term to make the switch?
For some it won’t be. But, if a switch can lead to saving thousands of dollars, it would certainly be something to consider. While everyone’s situation is different, the larger the mortgage, the bigger the savings will be if you can find a lower rate.
Often, homeowners will just use a bank their parents recommend for their first mortgage. But they might find themselves not happy with the service or terms of the mortgage and may just want to switch to a different lender as the mortgage comes up for renewal.
If that’s a situation you find yourself in, you have options, and a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can help you make the best decision.

Courtesy Jeremy Deutch – Communications Advisor

19 Sep

FIXED RATES OUTWEIGHING VARIABLE

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

We are currently in a very unique situation when it comes to 5-year fixed and 5-year variable interest rates. For the first time in almost a decade, the lowest 5-year fixed interest rate is more than 0.30% lower than the lowest available variable interest rate for new mortgages. For some, their current variable rate is 0.80% higher than what a new 5-year fixed interest rate could be.

Why is this important?

Variable mortgage penalties are only equivalent to 3 month’s interest. On a $400,000 mortgage with a net variable rate of 3.10%, the penalty would only be $3,100 ($775 per $100,000 of mortgage debt).

What are the savings to switching to a lower rate?

The following is an excerpt from an email we have sent several clients recently. The numbers have been adjusted from their originals to protect clients.

$2,152.76 current monthly payment
$437,857.16 current outstanding balance
4 years and 0 months remaining on term and 24 years and 0 months remaining on amortization

$3,800 approximate penalty to break mortgage including discharge fee (legal fees and appraisal covered)

$2,061.88 new monthly payment on 5-year fixed rate
$437,857.16 new outstanding balance
4 years and 0 months remaining on term and 24 years and 0 months remaining on amortization

$90.88 savings per payment

Interest paid with current lender for remainder of term: $50,847.29
Principal paid with current lender for remainder of term: $52,485.19
Remaining balance at end of term: $385,371.97

Interest paid with new rate for remainder of term: $44,025.53
Principal paid with new rate for remainder of term: $54,944.71
Remaining balance at end of term with new rate: $382,912.45

For $3,800, this client has the potential to save almost $6,800 in interest, save $90.88 a month, while at the same time owing less on their total balance at the end of their term.

Now, this might not be for everyone. Variable, as you know, can go up and down. Locking into a 5-year fixed rate also takes away your ability to get out of your mortgage for only 3 months interest penalty compared to staying in a variable rate. For some people, maintaining the variable for an opportunity of having that rate drop below current 5-year fixed rates is worth waiting too.

There is no right or wrong decision. It is how you want your monthly payments structured and how much risk you want to allow for, both in rate variances and potential penalties.

To find out what kind of savings you could see with moving your variable rate into a fixed rate, please, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today.

 

Courtesy of Ryan Oake – AMP – DLC Producers West Financial based in Langley, BC.

3 Sep

RENT-TO-OWN EXPLAINED

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

In some markets, it can take a long time to sell a property. An option available to some sellers is the Rent-to-Own sales method.

If you have someone interested in purchasing your property but they can’t obtain a mortgage either because they don’t have a down payment saved or their credit score is too low, this can be way to purchase a home. Usually the agreements run for 2 – 3 years.

A sales agreement is signed which states what the tenant and future owners are going to pay as rent while they save up a down payment and /or improve their credit score. The agreement has to state how much of their monthly payment is going towards the down payment. They also have to be paying market rents. In addition, the agreement must state that if the deal is cancelled the purchasers will get their down payment funds returned to them.

The reason that this must be stated in the agreement is that the mortgage insurers like Genworth and CMHC stipulate these terms must be in the agreement before they will approve a mortgage.
What are the pros and cons of this type of an agreement? The pros are that the tenants will maintain the property and not abuse it as they want to purchase it. The seller gets steady income while the buyer is saving for the purchase. The con is that as the price is determined in advance – radical changes to the local housing market may mean that the purchaser will get a great deal at the end of the agreement or walk away if the market drops significantly.

If you are considering this option, consult with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before you sign an agreement. They can determine if it will be valid with the mortgage companies and insurers before you’ve spent a cent.

 

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Jencor Mortgages in Calgary, AB

29 Aug

MORTGAGE STRATEGIES: TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME!

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

While most people start off their mortgage search by going after the lowest rate, what they are really after is the mortgage with the lowest cost. Then again, the majority of borrowers in Canada end up with a mortgage that is not the lowest rate nor the lowest cost. Strike 1!

Whether borrowers realize it or not, what is often more important to them is a mortgage with the lowest risk. So they end up with 5-year fixed mortgage that has a constant payment, which is usually not the lowest risk mortgage at all. Strike 2! Time to bring in a mortgage broker like myself or your local Dominion Lending broker to be the pinch hitter and go to bat for you.

There are 4 and only 4 mortgage strategies, and everything fits within these 4 strategies: Lowest Cost, Lowest Risk, Maximum Flexibility, and Lowest Payment. Expert investors think about financial transactions in these terms, and you should think about your mortgage in these terms too. Consider them like the 4 bases of a baseball diamond, you need to touch on every one of them to complete a home run. A mortgage broker like me or your local Dominion Lending Centres broker can help you prioritize your mortgage strategy based on your current financial goals, life situation, and risk tolerance, and the potential for various scenarios that could affect you over the term of the mortgage. You can’t achieve all 4 mortgage strategies together, there are trade-offs, but through strategic mortgage planning we can help guide you through the strategic options, help you determine the best strategy for you, and find the best mortgage products that fit your strategy.

So next time you are planning your mortgage, make sure to cover all 4 bases by thinking about The 4 Mortgage Strategies: Lowest Cost, Lowest Risk, Maximum Flexibility, and Lowest Payment, and get a mortgage broker like myself or your local Dominion Lending Centres broker to help you. Now that’s a Grand Slam!

Courtesy of Todd Skene – founder of DLC Home SMART Mortgage with DLC Pilot Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC.

20 Aug

RAISE YOUR CREDIT SCORE IN 3 MONTHS

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

While people often think of mortgage brokers when they are first time home buyers, we can help people in a variety of different ways.
Recently Garrett LaBarre of Calvert Home Mortgages in Calgary shared a success story with brokers. He had a client referred to him by a mortgage broker who had a conundrum. She was paying her credit card balances on time month after month, but couldn’t get them paid down due to the high interest rates. As a result, she had a 567 credit beacon score. Her bank would not refinance her mortgage or offer her a debt consolidation loan. She was stuck.
The solution was to use some of the equity in her home to pay off the credit card debt and lower the payments to a more manageable monthly. Even though her mortgage interest rate was higher than a regular lender, it was a lot lower than a credit card rate and it was amortized over 30 years.
The result was that within three months this client had her credit score jump from 567 to 769!
What an amazing result. Now there’s one more person who knows that mortgage brokers can do things that the banks can’t do.
If you have a challenging story, be sure to contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional for help.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Jencor Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

25 Jul

4 WEIRD THINGS LENDERS ASK FOR

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

A number of times I have had people who wonder why they need to provide so much documentation when it comes to arranging a mortgage. Besides an employment letter, you are usually asked to provide a pay stub and your most recent Notice of Assessment (NOA) to prove income. “Why do they need all 3, doesn’t the employment letter satisfy this condition?” I am often asked. No, is the short answer.

A pay stub shows your current income and shows how much you have made year to date. This will also show overtime or any special allowances you receive such as a northern living allowance. This confirms or sometimes does not agree with your employment letter. The employment letter shows what you are going to make this year and your NOA shows what you made in the past. It also shows that you do not owe taxes to the government. This is important to lenders because they don’t want the government to put a lien on your property ahead of their mortgage claim on title.

Your realtor will provide an offer to purchase and sale agreement, so why do they ask for a MLS listing sheet? While the purchase agreement shows the financial agreement and what is included with the house, the MLS describes the size of the house and lot as well as the amount paid for municipal taxes and the size of each room. This allows the lender to establish whether you have a fair market price for your new home.

Finally, a lender will ask for a 90-day bank statement to show your down payment money. The reason they ask for this is due to Canadian money laundering laws which need to show the source for all funds and that you have been saving the funds over the past 3 months. If you get an inheritance, you will need to show documentation that this is the source of your sudden wealth.
Be sure to contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before making an offer on a home. He/She can tell you exactly what documents you will need in advance and make the home buying process go much easier.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Jencor Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

17 Jul

FORECLOSURE, BANKRUPTCY, CONSUMER PROPOSAL & CREDIT COUNSELING

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

The Canadian Bankers Association’s latest report on mortgage delinquency shows that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita of all the provinces. The national average shows that .24% of home owners are having difficulty paying their mortgage. Saskatchewan is more than triple that at .80% with next in line Atlantic Canada at .51% and then Alberta at .46%. At first glance these numbers seem relatively small until you note the fine print that “delinquency” in this report only represents those homeowners that are more than 3 months behind.

I thought that I would take the time to go over the mortgage ramifications of foreclosure, bankruptcy, consumer proposal and credit counseling.

Foreclosure
This is when the mortgage has gone unpaid to the point that the bank is forced to take back the security for the mortgage which is the home. First of all, the bank doesn’t want to have to do this. Non-payment of the mortgage for an extended period of time forces their hand. The foreclosure process is different in every province. Saskatchewan has the most difficult foreclosure process for the bank and gives the homeowner many chances to catch up and stop it. This process can take months to work through for the bank to take possession of the home to be able to sell it to recover their losses. The long-term effect on a client that goes through foreclosure is permanent. A record of the foreclosure is placed on each clients’ credit report. Unlike a bankruptcy or consumer proposal that are eventually removed, the foreclosure stays on their credit report for life. What that will mean is that when they want to eventually purchase a home again, they will more than likely require at least 20% down payment.

Bankruptcy & Consumer Proposal
Both bankruptcy and consumer proposal are administered through a licensed insolvency trustee. Typically, every creditor that you have debt with will participate in the process. This includes student loans and arrears with Canada Revenue Agency.
If you have gone through either of these insolvency actions, the mortgage industry sees them as them as the same thing. What is most important after either of those is to get back up on the credit horse and walk before you run. Canadians that swear off debt of any kind after insolvency are better known as lifelong renters. Never having a credit card or loan again is certainly fine until you apply for a mortgage to buy a home. Banks and mortgage lenders want to see that you can walk with small amounts of credit before running with hundreds of thousands in a mortgage. Once discharged from either a bankruptcy or consumer proposal obtaining a credit card should be your very first step. The next thing to do is advise both Canadian credit reporting agencies that you were discharged. You may be required to send documents related to the insolvency. It is a good idea to keep all your paper work from this process in a safe place for at least 10 years.

Credit Counseling
Credit counselling could be a viable option for those that are keeping up with their debt payments but need help in making a household budget to get out of debt faster. For those that have fallen behind on their debts and 1 or more have gone into collection status, credit counselling may not be the answer. There are 2 distinct differences between working with a credit counselor and a licensed insolvency trustee.
1. Student loans and debts to Canada Revenue Agency cannot be addressed within credit counseling.
2. If the credit counseling requires debt negotiations and/or payment arrangements, some of your creditors may decline to participate. This leaves debts outside of the credit counseling arrangement that you must address on your own. It’s a little like having 2 flat tires on your car and only 1 spare. The spare may work well to fix one flat but your car still isn’t roadworthy.

Courtesy of Kevin Carlson – AMP – DLC The Mortgage Firm based in Regina, SK.

12 Jul

5 WAYS YOU COULD USE A CHIP REVERSE MORTGAGE

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

Reverse mortgages are continuing to grow as a retirement solution for Canadians 55+. Homeowners 55+ are unlocking their home equity for tax-free funds that improve their cashflow and pay-off higher interest loans. Consider your own financial needs. Do any of these 5 common scenarios sound familiar?

1) You have missed a payment/made a late payment.
Credit card payments can become a vicious cycle; you make monthly interest payments and elongate the process of chipping away at that debt. Alleviate the stress of credit card debt by consolidating smaller loans with a reverse mortgage at a much lower interest rate. By consolidating your debt with a reverse mortgage, you can eliminate the stress of having to make monthly payments towards your loan and in turn, free up your monthly income.

2) You have asked to skip a payment or are accessing your investments earlier than you’d like.
If your debt has led to missing payments or touching your RRIF or retirement accounts, consider using a reverse mortgage to unlock up to 55% of your home equity. This way you can pay off debts while your investments keep working for you.

3) You want to start crossing things off your bucket list, yet can’t afford to.
Maybe your dream is to purchase a second home like a cottage, take a vacation, or even just dine out or attend the theatre regularly. A reverse mortgage can improve your retirement lifestyle by supplementing your monthly income without affecting your OAS and pension.

4) You want to financially assist your aging parents/kids/grandkids.
As the sandwich generation, you’re caring both for kids and aging parents. That can place huge financial stress on a household. A reverse mortgage can give both you and your aging parents financial independence and the ability to help your kids/grandkids pay for their education or even assist with a down payment for their home.

5) You are facing unexpected expenses.
Maybe it’s a leaky roof or a flood in your basement. Or you might have to renovate your home, allowing you to stay in your home long term. A reverse mortgage gives you quick access funds to pay for unplanned expenses without worrying about making any payments until you move or decide to sell your home.

If any of the above examples resonate with you, the CHIP Reverse Mortgage from HomeEquity Bank could be a great solution. Choose to receive funds as a lump sum or a monthly advance, depending on your needs. Your DLC Mortgage Broker can tell you more!

Courtesy of Eric Bisaillon
HomeEquity Bank – Executive Vice President, Referred Sales and Partnerships

10 Jul

20 TERMS THAT HOMEBUYERS NEED TO KNOW

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you will make.

It’s common for a first-time homebuyer to be overwhelmed when it comes to real estate industry jargon, so this BLOG is to help make some of the jargon understandable.

To help you understand the process and have confidence in your choices, check out the following common terms you will encounter during the homebuying process.

1. Amortization – “Life of the mortgage” The process of paying off a debt by making regular installment payments over a set period of time, at the end of which the loan balance is zero. Typical amortizations are 25 years or if you have over 20% down payment – 30 years.

2. Appraisal – An estimate of the current market value of a home. A property is appraised to know the amount of money that a lender is willing to lend for a buyer to buy a particular property. If the appraised amount is less than the asking price for the property, then that piece of real estate might be overpriced. In this case, the lender will refuse to finance the purchase. Appraisals are designed to protect both the lender and buyer. The lender will not get stuck with a property that is less than the money lent, and the buyer will avoid paying too much for the property.

3. Closing Costs – Costs you need to have available in addition to the purchase price of your home. Closing costs can include: legal fees, taxes (GST, HST, Property Transfer Tax (PTT) etc.), transfer fees, disbursements and are payable on closing day. They can range from 1.5% to 4% of a home’s selling price.

4. Co-Signer – A person that signs a credit application with another person, agreeing to be equally responsible for the repayment of the loan.

5. Down Payment – The portion of the home price that is NOT financed by the mortgage loan. The buying typically pays the down payment from their own resources (or other eligible sources) to secure a mortgage.

6. Equity – The difference between the price a home could be sold for and the total debts registered against it (i.e. mortgage). Equity usually increases as the mortgage is reduced by regular payments. Rising home prices and home improvements may also increase the equity in the property.

7. Fixed Interest Rate – a fixed mortgage interest rate is locked-in and will not increase for the term of the mortgage.

8. Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS) and Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS)
a) GDS – Typically mortgage lenders only want you spending a maximum 35-39% of your gross income on your mortgage (principle & interest), property taxes, heat and 50% of your strata fees.
b) TDS – typically, lenders want you spending a maximum 39-44% of your gross income on your GDS – PLUS any other debt obligations you have (credit card debt, car payments, lines of credit & loans).

9. High-ratio mortgage / Conventional Mortgage – a high ratio mortgage is a mortgage loan higher than 80% of the lending value of the home. A conventional mortgage is when you have more than 20% down payment. In Canada, if you put less than 20% down payment, you must have Mortgage Default Insurance (see below) and your mortgage affordability (GDS & TDS) is “stress tested” with the Bank of Canada’s qualifying rate (currently 4.64%).

10. Interest Rate – This is the monthly principal and interest payment rate.

11. Mortgage – A legal document that pledges property to a lender as security for the repayment of the loan. The term is also used to refer to the loan itself.

12. Mortgage Broker – A professional who works with many different lenders to find a mortgage that best suits the needs of the borrower.

13. Mortgage Default Insurance – Is required for mortgage loans with less than a 20% down payment and is available from Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corp. (CMHC) or 2 other private companies. This insurance protects the lender in case you are unable to fulfill your financial obligations regarding the mortgage.

14. Open / Closed Mortgage
a) An open mortgage is a flexible mortgage that allows you to pay off your mortgage in part or in full before the end of its term, because of the flexibility the interest rates are higher.
b) Closed mortgages typically cannot be paid off in whole or in part before the end of its term. Some lenders allow for a partial prepayment of a closed mortgage by increasing the mortgage payment or a lump sum prepayment. If you try and “break your mortgage” or if any prepayments are made above the stipulated allowance the lender allows, a penalty will be charged.

15. Pre-Approval – A lender commits to lend to a potential borrower a fixed loan amount based on a completed loan application, credit reports, debt, savings and has been reviewed by an underwriter. The commitment remains as long as the borrower still meets the qualification requirements at the time of purchase. This does not guaranty a loan until the property has passed inspections underwriting guidelines.

16. Refinance – Refinancing is the process of replacing an existing mortgage with a new one by paying off the existing debt with a new, loan under different terms.

17. Term (Mortgage) – Length of time that the contract with your mortgage including interest rate is fixed (typically 5 years).

18. Title – The documented evidence that a person or organization has legal ownership of real property.

19. Title Insurance – Insurance against losses or damages that could occur because of anything that affects the title to a property. Insurance Title insurance is issued by a Title Company to insure the borrower against errors in the title to your property.

20. Variable Rate Mortgage or Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) – A variable mortgage interest rate is based on the Bank of Canada rate and can fluctuate based on market conditions, the Canadian economy. A mortgage loan with an interest rate that is subject to change and is not fixed at the same level for the life of the loan. These types of loans usually start off with a lower interest rate but can subject the borrower to payment uncertainty.

Courtesy of Kelly Hudson – AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Richmond, BC

9 Jul

5 MORTGAGE TIPS TO HELP YOU AFFORD A HOME

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Robert McCaw

Buying a home is more difficult now than ever—and this is not news to anyone! No matter where you live, the recent stress testing measures, increase in housing prices in major cities, and continued increase of the cost of living all combine to make home ownership a daunting task. But we do want to offer some help and solutions for young families looking to get into the market as we truly to believe it’s not impossible and have helped many families do just that!

1. Take a step outside of the downtown core. Typically, property right in the heart of the city is more expensive due to the location and the continued demand. Stepping out to one of the outlying suburban areas can offer more affordable options and can also lend you with an increased inventory of properties within your price point.
2. Consider finding a rent to own property. A Rent to Own (RTO) property can allow you to rent a property while subsequently saving up for a down payment.
3. Talk to a mortgage broker. Speaking with a broker and going through a pre-qualification process can help you by allowing you to see the areas in which you will need to improve to help make you more attractive to lenders. This can include things such as:
a. Increasing your credit score
b. Decreasing your overall debt or consolidating your current debt.
c. Looking at increasing your overall income options and the ways in which you can do that.
4. Consider using a co-signor(s) for your mortgage to start with. One solution we have found that works well for certain clients is having a co-signor(s) on the mortgage with a planned exit strategy to remove them once the client’s personal income increases or they are able to qualify for the mortgage on your own (ex. By paying down debts and/or improving their credit score). This solution is situation specific, so speak to your broker for more details.
5. Save, Save, and Save some more. We know this is common sense but speaking with a financial advisor can help show you ways in which you can save and make your money work for you. We can happily recommend a few as can your mortgage broker.

We know that the state of real estate can seem overwhelming and depressing at times. Keep in mind though that not all hope is lost, and you do have options available to you! Remember the “dream” of the white picket fence detached home is not for everyone…now more than ever multi-family properties such as townhouses and condos are offering more and more amenities and beautiful properties for less. The bottom line is considering all your options and work with a dedicated broker who can help you reach your goals—whatever they might be!

 

Courtesy of Geoff Lee, AMP, DLC GLM Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC