22 Aug

MORTGAGES ARE LIKE COFFEE?

General

Posted by: Deb White

The most common question we get for mortgages is “what is your best rate?” Now imagine we walked into our local coffee shop and asked “what is your best price?” Doesn’t happen. There are all kinds of different coffees and lots of ways to make them. The same goes for mortgages.

Getting a coffee at the lowest price is usually not going to get you the coffee that meets your needs. You want quality beans, flavour, extra features like a shot of caramel, maybe make it a macchiato, froth on the top, an alternative milk option, and the list goes on.

The same goes for mortgages. Lowest rate mortgages may come with a lack of portability, the inability to make extra payments, and they may lock you into a good rate today without the flexibility for better rates in the future. They may be the lowest rate without the lowest monthly payment amount, they may be for term lengths that are too long and have significant penalties when the mortgage needs to be broken.

The lowest rate mortgage may be collateral charge mortgages that allow a bank to foreclose on your property because you were delinquent on your credit card payments while you went on an extended vacation in Europe and forgot to keep track while you were having so much fun drinking coffee at a popular little hole in the wall café in some small ancient village. The 4 strategic priorities that every mortgage needs to balance are lowest cost, lowest payment, maximum flexibility, and lowest risk.

So the next time you need a mortgage, treat it like your coffee order, don’t ask for the best rate, ask how you can get the best mortgage that meets your needs.

8 Aug

4 WEIRD THINGS LENDERS ASK FOR

General

Posted by: Deb White

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.

 

1 Aug

CREDIT REPORTS: YOU’VE SCORED! BUT ARE YOU PLAYING THE GAME?

General

Posted by: Deb White

For most people, your personal credit score and how a credit score is calculated are complete mysteries. How can you be expected to play and be successful if you aren’t even told the rules of the game? There are things borrowers can do to improve their score so they can access better mortgage products and save thousands of dollars, or qualify for their wonderful home when they otherwise might have trouble. Let’s stick handle through just some of the key things you should know about managing your credit score.

Amount owed and utilization accounts for 30% of your score. There are a lot of people that end up with high balances on their credits cards and struggle to meet the payments each month. If they manage to pay off their credit cards without seeing a mortgage broker to consolidate their debts, often the immediate response is to close the accounts. A better response is to cut up the cards and delete the numbers from your computer and devices and keep the accounts open. You want any remaining outstanding balances to be less than 75% of your total combined credit available, and if they are less than 35%, even better, because this keeps your utilization of available credit low and increases your credit score. Types of credit and the number of different credit products accounts for 10% of the score, so this is another reason you want to keep those accounts open. Cell phone providers are now reporting to the agencies that publish credit scores as well.

In some parts of the world where credit products are not well established, a borrower’s credit is evaluated based solely on how they have managed payments on their cell phone bills. It’s important to pay your cell phone bills on time; we’re all busy, so setup automatic payments to ensure a payment is not missed. My last word of advice for today is to monitor your credit score by purchasing your own credit report each year for about $25 so you know your score and to ensure the report is accurate. This will help you stay within the boundaries of the game.

There is a lot more to managing a credit score than I can get into in this short blog. If you would like to know more, contact me or your local Dominion Lending mortgage broker. We can provide advice to help you manage your credit score and put you in a better position to qualify for a mortgage with better rates. Know the rules of the game, plan ahead for your home financing, and play SMART.

25 Jul

WHAT IS A MORTGAGE “REFINANCE” AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME?

General

Posted by: Deb White

Refinancing a Home is one of those things where people understand what it is but have trouble explaining How it works. To put it simply, refinancing your Home allows you to access the equity you have built up, by changing the mortgage amount.

Let’s say you bought a $300,000 condo and you paid 20% ($60,000) as your down payment and had a mortgage of $240,000. Over the next 4 years, you continue making payments to pay down the $240,000 you owed and now that amount is only $230,000. Your mortgage is up for renewal in one year however, you want to do some renovations and you need to access the equity in your Home—this is where a refinance could come into play.

What this means is you will get an appraisal, or in simpler terms an evaluation, of your current Home and submit that information to a lender. Let’s say your $300,000 condo is now worth $350,000 and you owe $230,000. You have built up an additional $60,000 in equity ($350,000 – $230,000 owing – $60,000 initial down payment= $60,000). You have a mortgage of $230,000 on a Home worth $350,000, therefore your equity in the Home is $120,000.

To access that $120,000, you can refinance your mortgage. So let’s say you want to go back and take $50,000 from the $120,000 you have built up. Your new mortgage would go from $230,000 to $280,000, and that $50,000 will be transferred from the lender to you. You are essentially borrowing money from the lender while also adding money back on top of your mortgage.

This is why people will refinance their Home to make larger purchases. The bank will lend you the money now and get it back in the future, plus interest, because it is being added to the mortgage.

This is just one way people are able to use their Home to access cash. Other ways people can do this, especially if they are looking to complete renovations, is through home equity, lines of credit, collateral charges and purchase plus mortgages.

Knowing this information before you buy can be extremely beneficial. That is why it is important to work with a qualified HomeHow mortgage specialist. Contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today for more questions about refinancing!

11 Jul

5 MORTGAGE TIPS TO HELP YOU AFFORD A HOME

General

Posted by: Deb White

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 do 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:

  •  Increasing your credit score
  • Decreasing your overall debt or consolidating your current debt.
  • 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!

20 Jun

3 “RULES OF LENDING” – WHAT BANKS LOOK AT WHEN YOU APPLY FOR A MORTGAGE

General

Posted by: Deb White

Buying a home is usually the biggest purchase most people make and there are a lot of factors to consider. Our job is to provide you with a much information (as you can handle!!) so you make the best decision based your particular situation.

The 3 “rules of lending” focus on determining the maximum size of mortgage that can be supported by your provable (what you paid taxes on) income.

You need to consider two affordability ratios:

Rule #1 – GROSS DEBT SERVICE (GDS) Your monthly housing costs are generally not supposed to exceed 36-39% of your gross monthly income. Housing costs include – your monthly mortgage payment, property taxes and heating. If you are buying a condo/townhouse, the GDS will also include ½ of your strata fees. The total of these monthly payments divided by your “provable” gross monthly income will give you your Gross Debt Service.
Mortgage payments + Property taxes + Heating Costs + 50% of condo fees / Annual Income

Rule #2 – TOTAL DEBT SERVICE (TDS) Your entire monthly debt payments should not exceed 42-44% of your gross monthly income This includes your housing costs (GDS above) PLUS all other monthly payments (car payments, credit cards, Line of Credit, additional financing, etc.). The total of all your monthly debts divided by your “provable” gross monthly income will give you your Total Debt Service.
Housing expenses (see GDS) + Credit card interest + Car payments + Loan expenses / Annual Income

What about the other 56% of your income?? This is considered to be used up by ‘normal’ monthly expenses including: taxes, food, medical, transportation, entertainment etc.)

Rule #3 – CREDIT RATING Everyone who will be on title to the property will need to have their credit run. Your credit bureau is important because it shows the lenders how well (or not) you have handled credit in the past. This gives them an indication of how you will handle credit in the future, and will you be a good risk and make your mortgage payments as promised. If you handle credit well, you will have a high Credit Score and get the best interest rates from the banks/lenders. If you have not handled credit well, and have a poor credit score, you will either be charged a higher interest rate or your application will be declined.

If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

13 Jun

THINKING ABOUT RENOVATING?

General

Posted by: Deb White

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a closer look at how a Refinance Plus Improvements mortgage can get you the extra cash you need to get your renovations completed.

The Standard Refinance

An everyday refinance allows the home owner to access up to 80% of the fair market value of the home. The value is typically determined by a Market Appraisal on the home. Here is how it would look:

Current Appraised Value of the home: $250,000.00
Max New Mortgage Amount: $200,000.00 ß 80% of present value
Your current Mortgage Balance: $190,000
Equity Available to you for the renovations: $10,000.00
*Note: some of the equity will cover closing costs (it is a new mortgage after all, so a new registration and fund advance needs to happen. If you are breaking a current mortgage, there could be a pre-payment penalty as well)

The remaining equity can be used towards your improvements. But what happens if it’s not enough to cover the improvement costs? You’re now stuck with either making sacrifices to your dream reno, covering the additional costs out of pockets, use a higher interest line of credit or not doing the renovations at all. None of which are a great options.

The Refinance Plus Improvements Mortgage

Here is how the Refinance Plus Improvements mortgage can make all the difference.

For argument sake, let’s assume for a moment that the home owner is thinking about renovating their kitchen and main bathroom. These are in no way a small improvement. They are quite significant improvements…new flooring, cabinets, counter tops and paint in the kitchen along with a full gut and renovation in the main bathroom.

After sitting down with a Mortgage Broker to determine mortgage affordability, the home owners next step is getting estimates for the renovations. After having multiple contractors quote on the work, the home owner settles on a contractor that has quoted $20,000.00 for the job (Labour and materials costs, all in, turn key project). Let’s also assume for a moment that the renovations are going to increase the value of the home by $30,000.00 (side note: Kitchen and Main Bathroom Renovations can have the biggest impact on the value of a home). Here is how it would look:

Refinance Plus improvements:

Current Home Value: $250,000.00
Post Renovation Home Value: $280,000.00
New Max Mortgage Amount: $224,000.00
Your Current Mortgage Balance: $190,000.00
Equity Available for the renovations: $34,000.00
See the difference? The refinance plus improvements in this scenario can get the home owner access to an additional $24,000, far exceeding the improvements planned for home. No sacrifices required. No unsecured higher interest financing required. No need to tap into personal savings. Just a nice new mortgage with a low interest rate and one simple payment.

If you have questions about how a refinance plus improvements mortgage can make all of the difference with your renovations plans, please feel free to connect with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you. We are always happy to chat mortgage strategy with you while at the same time shopping the market and rates on your behalf!

Happy Renovating!

6 Jun

5 THINGS TO AVOID BEFORE CLOSING ON YOUR NEW HOME

General

Posted by: Deb White

1. Change your job. You were qualified for your mortgage financing based on your income, years at the job and the understanding that you were there for a while. Changing jobs should be put off until after possession day.

2 – Changing your name. Make sure that your identification and your name match. Do not change from John Smith to J. Michael Smith during this critical time.

3- Make any large purchases. Put off buying new furniture for your future home or a new car. The debt ratios were calculated based on your present debt obligations. It can also be bad to pay off any existing accounts. Some lenders want you to have some cash in the bank for a rainy day. They may have given you an approval with this in mind.

4- Switch banks or move money to a different institution. This may not sound like much but a paper trail to show your down payment source and the automatic withdrawal forms for your mortgage payments are all set up. You can change them after the house sale closes.

5 – Don’t miss any payments on credit cards or loans you already have. Lenders often pull another credit report a few days before closing. If you’ve missed a payment on your Visa card, it could mess up your home purchase big time.
Finally, check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional if you are unclear about anything between the time when you receive your approval and possession day.

23 May

WHO PAYS YOUR MORTGAGE BROKER? NOT YOU!

General

Posted by: Deb White

If you’re looking to get a mortgage and considering a mortgage broker, there’s a good chance you’re wondering about how much the service costs.

Good news! Clients looking to get a standard residential mortgage pay no fees to the broker.

On standard residential mortgages, it’s 100% free for the clients. We’re paid by the bank or by the lending institution that we give the mortgage to.

But it’s not the only advantage a broker can bring you. When you’re shopping for a mortgage at a bank, they’re only able to offer you something from their stable of products. A broker, however, is able to shop at different banks to get you the best product for your needs.

If you don’t fit in the bank’s box of products, then you don’t get the mortgage. When you go to a mortgage broker, the mortgage broker has access to every lender on the market and is able to sell you basically everything to find a solution that makes the most amount of sense for you.

Because they’re able to shop around, in many cases the broker is able to find you a better rate on your mortgage.

In addition, mortgage brokers are licensed professionals covered by provincial governing bodies that looks out for you, the consumer. In many cases, the person you’re dealing with at the bank is just a salesperson, without any requirement they be licensed.

So, if you’re in the market for a new home, try a mortgage broker. It’s the safer, smarter choice for your mortgage. We’d encourage you to shop around, then get in touch with us for a no-obligation chat with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

16 May

ACCESSING YOUR HOME’S EQUITY TO INVEST

General

Posted by: Deb White

To tap into your home’s equity, it all starts with refinancing your home. If you own a home, the equity you have built up in it is one of the most valuable assets you have available to you. It is also much more accessible than taking out a large loan. In many cases, home equity

loans and lines of credit can offer you a lower interest rate as compared to other types of loans while providing you with access to credit for investment purposes. You can view an excellent comparison of loans here.

Often times we see clients who refinance in order to:

• Renovate their home
• Purchase a secondary property for investment purposes
• Debt consolidation
• Business Development
• Assisting their children’s post secondary education
• Financing thru a “life event” such as illness

In this particular article, we are going to highlight the value of utilizing your home’s equity to reinvest in other investments such as:

• rental properties
• stocks
• bonds
• mutual funds
• RRSP’s
• RESP’s

The first question that people ask is how much can I borrow? Generally speaking, you can borrow up to 80% of the appraised value of your house. For example, if your home value of $650,000 assuming one qualifies, they can access up to 80% of $650,000 which would be $520,000, if their current mortgage is $450,000 they may be able to get a home equity line of credit for $70,000 (totaling $520,000)

Working with your mortgage broker, you can go through the refinance and approval process if this is something you are interested in accessing. It is always a good idea to consult with your broker and understand the personality of your mortgage—there may be limitations of how much equity you can access and the conditions relating to the refinancing. There are also potential costs associated with this type of refinance including:

• Penalties to break your mortgage
• appraisal fees
• title search
• title insurance
• legal costs

Keep in mind that these potential costs can be rolled within your new loan amount and will not be “out of pocket.”
Now, if you have been approved and are utilizing your home equity for one of the above investments (after speaking to your financial planner/advisor first) and can expect to see a higher rate of return than the interest you are paying to borrow the money, then it is worth considering. We emphasize that you should always proceed with caution and get advice from sound professionals before choosing to invest your hard-earned money.

We have found that this type of investing works extremely well for many and is a safer and less risky way to access funds for further investment purposes. We recognize that this option may not be suitable or comfortable for some, but it is a viable way to capitalize on the equity sitting in your home and make it work for you! If you have questions or are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.