23 Jan

5 MISTAKES FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS MAKE

General

Posted by: Deb White

Buying a home might just be the biggest purchase of your life—it’s important to do your homework before jumping in! We have outlined the 5 mistakes First Time Home Buyers commonly make, and how you can avoid them and look like a Home Buying Champ.

1. Shopping Outside Your Budget
It’s always an excellent idea to get pre-approved prior to starting your house hunting. This can give you a clear idea of exactly what your finances are and what you can comfortably afford. Your Mortgage Broker will give you the maximum amount that you can spend on a house but that does not mean that you should spend that full amount. There are additional costs that you need to consider (Property Transfer Tax, Strata Fees, Legal Fees, Moving Costs) and leave room for in your budget. Stretching yourself too thin can lead to you being “House Rich and Cash Poor” something you will want to avoid. Instead, buying a home within your home-buying limit will allow you to be ready for any potential curve balls and to keep your savings on track.

 

2. Forgetting to Budget for Closing Costs
Most first-time buyers know about the down payment, but fail to realize that there are a number of costs associated with closing on a home. These can be substantial and should not be overlooked. They include:

  • Legal and Notary Fees
  • Property Transfer Tax (though, as a First Time Home Buyer, you might be exempt from this cost).
  • Home Inspection fees

There can also be other costs included depending on the type of mortgage and lender you work with (ex. Insurance premiums, broker/lender fees). Check with your broker and get an estimate of what the cost will be once you have your pre-approval completed.

3. Buying a Home on Looks Alone
It can be easy to fall in love with a home the minute you walk into it. Updated kitchen + bathrooms, beautifully redone flooring, new appliances…what’s not to like? But before putting in an offer on the home, be sure to look past the cosmetic upgrades. Ask questions such as:

  1. When was the roof last done?
  2. How old is the furnace?
  3. How old is the water heater?
  4. How old is the house itself? And what upgrades have been done to electrical, plumbing, etc.
  5. When were the windows last updated?

All of these things are necessary pieces to a home and are quite expensive to finance, especially as a first- time buyer. Look for a home that has solid, good bones. Cosmetic upgrades can be made later and are far less of a headache than these bigger upgrades.

4. Skipping the Home Inspection
In a red-hot housing market a new trend is for homebuyers to skip the home inspection. This is one thing we recommend you do not skip! A home inspection can turn up so many unforeseen problems such as water damage, foundational cracks and other potential problems that would be expensive to have to repair down the road. The inspection report will provide you a handy checklist of all the things you should do to make sure your home is in great shape.

5. Not Using a Broker
We compare prices for everything: Cars, TV’s, Clothing… even groceries. So, it makes sense to shop around for your mortgage too! If you are relying solely on your bank to provide you with the best rate you may be missing out on great opportunities that a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can offer you. They can work with you to and multiple lenders to find the sharpest rate and the best product for your lifestyle.

16 Jan

PAYMENT FREQUENCY

General

Posted by: Deb White

One of the decisions you will need to make before your new mortgage is set up, is what kind of payment frequency you would like to have. For many, sticking to a monthly payment is the default, however, different frequencies may end up saving you less interest over time.

Monthly Payments

Monthly payments are exactly as they sound, one payment every month until the maturity date of you mortgage at the end of your term. Took a 3-year term? You will make 36 payments (12 payments a year) and then you will need to renegotiate your interest rate. 5-year term? You will make 60 payments.

$500,000 mortgage

3% interest rate

5-year term

$2,366.23 monthly payment

 

$427,372.90 remaining over 20 years

$69,346.70 paid to interest

$72,627.01 paid to principal

 

Semi Monthly

Semi-monthly is not bi-weekly. Semi monthly is your monthly payment divided by two. That means, you are making 24 payments every year, but each payment is slightly less than half of what the monthly payment would of been.

$500,000 mortgage

3% interest rate

5-year term

$1,182.38 semi monthly payment

 

$427,372.99 remaining over 20 years

$69,258.59 paid to interest

$72,627.01 paid to principal

 

Bi-Weekly

Bi-weekly, you are not making 2 payments every month. With 52 weeks in a year, you are actually making 26 payments, 2 more than semi-monthly (2 months a year you make 3 bi-weekly payments). The interest paid and balance owing are slightly less than the others, but mere cents. You will still need to make payments for another 20 years.

$500,000 mortgage

3% interest rate

5-year term

$1,091.38 bi-weekly payment

 

$427,372.36 remaining over 20 years

$69,251.76 paid to interest

$72,627.64 paid to principal

 

Accelerated Bi-Weekly

Just like regular bi-weekly, you are not making 2 payments every month. With 52 weeks in a year, you are actually making 26 payments, 2 more than semi-monthly. However because this is accelerated, the payment amount is higher.

$500,000 mortgage

3% interest rate

5-year term

$1,183.11 accelerated bi-weekly payment

 

$414,521.40 remaining over 17 years 4 months

$68,325.70 paid to interest

$85,478.60 paid to principal

 

You have increased your yearly payment amount by $2,384.98, $11,924.90 over 5-years. That extra $11,924.90 has decreased your outstanding balance at the end of your mortgage term by $12,850.96 because more of your payments went to principal and less went to interest. Also, you will now have your mortgage paid off more than 2.5 years earlier.

The same option is available for accelerated weekly payments which will shave another month off of time required to pay back the whole loan as well. If you can afford to go accelerated, your best option is to do so! Especially in the early years where a larger portion of your payments are going towards interest, not paying down your principal.

If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

7 Jan

PRINCIPAL & INTEREST

General

Posted by: Deb White

 

Principal and interest are the two components that make up a mortgage payment. Principal is the portion of your payment that goes towards paying down the outstanding balance of your mortgage. Interest is the other portion of your payment which goes directly into the pockets of your lender and does not contribute to paying down your mortgage balance.

What some people may not realize is that a compounding interest rate (what the majority of all mortgages are) is weighted differently depending on how many years you have left on your mortgage.

If a young couple were to purchase their very first home, lets say $500,000 for example, and they had a $100,000 down payment, their mortgage would be $400,000. If they had today’s interest rates, their mortgage would be around 3%, compounded semi-annually, over 25 years with their interest rate re-negotiable every 5-years if they keep the same term. Assuming they were able to get 3% for the entire 25-years, their monthly payments would be $1,892.98 a month for the life of their mortgage.

Their first payment however is not $1,892.98, with 97% of it going to paying down the $400,000 balance and 3% going towards interest. The very first payment would actually be broken down as $993.81 of interest and $899.17 going towards paying down the principal balance of $400,000.

Now, it wont stay like this forever, the very last payment before the first 5-year term is up would be broken down as $854.62 going towards interest and $1,038.36 of the $1,892.98 going towards paying down the principal. It wouldn’t be until year 10 where the interest portion dips below $500.

If you can, any pre-payments you make each month will directly pay down the principal balance outstanding. This will also in turn, allow for less interest to be charged as interest is always calculated based on the current balance outstanding. In the later years, it may not be as advantageous, but in the first 5-10 years, it can be extremely beneficial.

If you want to see the break down of principal and interest portions inside your own mortgage, feel free to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

7 Nov

BUILDING A REAL ESTATE PORTFOLIO

General

Posted by: Deb White

More and more Canadians do not have a defined benefits pension plan. Companies are moving away from this model due to the expense of maintaining enough in the fund to pay out until the employee and survivors die. Those who are self employed also do not have pensions beside the Canadian Pension Plan.
What can you do if you fall into this category? How do you save enough to have a comfortable retirement? The answer is, build up your own investments through a real estate portfolio.

In order to purchase a revenue property you need 20% down payment . This can be a huge sum to save and you could get discouraged as you see property prices rising. There is a legal work around that is an open secret that realtors and other property investors have used for years.

Purchase a starter home with a 5% down payment. While you are living in the property, it is considered as your primary residence and any increase in value is tax free. Start from Day 1 to save for your next home. You may purchase a condo as the prices are usually less than most detached homes in Canadian cities. When you have saved 5% or if your present home has increased enough in value that you have more than 20% in equity you can remove that extra equity with a line of credit or by refinancing your home you can now purchase a larger home. Now you move to House #2 and rent out House #1.

You are now on your way to building a real estate portfolio. If you repeat this every 3 to 5 years in 20 years you’ll have a portfolio of 4 or more rental properties Is this for everyone? No, if you aren’t handy and if you don’t want the expense of hiring a property management company you cold end up spending your free time on maintenance of several homes.

Talk to your financial advisor or accountant first and then meet with your local Dominion Lending Centre mortgage professional. We can provide answers to your real estate financial needs.

31 Oct

MORTGAGES 101 – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MORTGAGES

General

Posted by: Deb White

Mortgage [ˈmôrɡij] NOUN
With a residential mortgage, a home buyer pledges his or her house to the bank. The bank has a claim on the house should the home buyer default on paying the mortgage. In the case of a foreclosure, the bank may evict the home’s occupants and sell the house, using the income from the sale to clear the mortgage debt.

Mortgages in a Nutshell
Since homes are expensive, a mortgage is a lending system that allows you to pay a small portion of a home’s cost (called the down payment) upfront, while a bank/lender loans you the rest of the money. You arrange to pay back the money that you borrowed, plus interest, over a set period of time (known as amortization), which can be as long as 30 years.

When you get a mortgage loan, you are called the mortgagor. The lender is called the mortgagee.

How Do You Get a Mortgage?
The companies that supply you with the funds that you need to buy your home are referred to as “lenders” which can include banks, credit unions, trust companies etc.

Mortgage lenders don’t lend hundreds of thousands of dollars to just anyone, which is why it’s so important to maintain your credit score. Your credit score is a primary way that lenders evaluate you as a reliable borrower – that is, someone who’s likely to pay back the money in full WITHOUT a lot of hassle. A score of 680-720 or higher generally indicates a positive financial history; a score below 680 could be detrimental, making you a higher risk. Higher risk = higher rates!

How Mortgages Are Structured
Down payment: This is the money you must put down on a home to show a lender you have some stake in the home. Ideally you want to make a 20% down payment of the price of the home (e.g., $60,000 on a $300,000 home), because this will allow you to avoid the extra cost of Mortgage Default Insurance which is mandatory with all down payments of less than 20%.

Every mortgage has three components: the principal, the interest, and the amortization period.

Mortgages are typically paid back gradually in the form of a monthly mortgage payment, which will be a combination of your paying back your principal plus interest.

  1. Principal: This is the amount of money that you are borrowing and must pay back. This is the price of the home minus your down payment
    taking the above example, purchase price $300,000 minus $60,000 down payment to get a mortgage (principal) of $240,000.
  2. Interest rate: Lenders don’t just loan you the money because they’re nice guys. They want to make money off you, so you will be paying them back the original amount you borrowed (principal) plus interest—a percentage of the money you borrow.The interest rate you get from the lender will vary based on: property, lender, credit bureau, employment and your personal situation.
  3. Amortization means life of the mortgage, or how long the mortgage needs to be, in order to pay off the complete loan (principal) plus interest. Mortgage loans have different “amortizations,” the two most common terms are 25 & 30 years.Within the life of the mortgage (amortization) you will have a Term. The length of time that the contract with your mortgage lender including interest rate is set up (typically 5 years). After your term completes, you can renew your mortgage with the same lender or move to a new lender.

WHEN TO GET A MORTGAGE

First Step: connect with a Mortgage Broker for a mortgage before you start hunting for a home. You need to know what you can afford – especially with all the new government regulations.

Ideally you need a mortgage pre-approval, which an in-depth process where a lender will check your credit report, credit score, debt-to-income ratio, loan-to-value ratio, and other aspects of your financial profile.

This serves two purposes:

  1. It will let you know the maximum purchase price of a home you can afford.
  2. A mortgage pre-approval shows home sellers and their realtors that you are serious about buying a home, which is particularly crucial in a hot housing market.

Types of Mortgages
How do you figure out which mortgage is right for you? Here are the 2 main types of home loans to consider:

  1. Fixed-rate mortgage:This is the most popular payment setup for a mortgage. A fixed mortgage interest rate is locked-in and will not increase for the term of the mortgage.
  2. Variable rate mortgage aka Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM) A variable mortgage interest rate is based on the Bank of Canada rate and can fluctuate based on market conditions and 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 term. These types of mortgages usually start off with a lower interest rate but can subject the borrower to payment uncertainty.

How to Shop for a Mortgage?
Use a mortgage broker, a professional who works with many different lenders to find a mortgage that best suits the needs of the borrower.

Brokers specialize in Mortgage Intelligence, educating people about mortgages, how they work and what lenders are looking for. Everyone’s home purchasing situation is different, so working with us will give you a better sense of what mortgage options are available based on the 4 strategic priorities that every mortgage needs to balance:

  • lowest cost
  • lowest payment
  • maximum flexibility
  • lowest risk

Most Canadians are conditioned to think that the lowest interest rate means the best mortgage product. Although sometimes that is true, a mortgage is more than just an interest rate. You can save yourself a lot of money if you pay attention to the fine print, not just the rate.

Banks tend to concentrate on the 5 year fixed mortgage rate (since that’s the best option for them)… rates are important, however your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional will look at the total cost of the mortgage. Brokers will advise & explain mortgage options, help you understand the implications of your choice and help you avoid the pitfalls of choosing a mortgage based on rates alone.

26 Sep

4 COSTS TO CONSIDER AS A FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER

General

Posted by: Deb White

 

Oftentimes even the most organized and detail oriented first-time homebuyer can overlook some unexpected costs that come with the purchase of their new home. We are outlining 4 of the costs that we most commonly see overlooked by home buyers in hopes that we can better prepare you—and save you from a few surprises!

1. Closing Costs.

Congratulations! Your offer was just accepted on your new home, you’re one step closer to adding a major asset to your portfolio! We don’t want to shock or dampen the excitement of this moment. However, it’s important that you factor in closing costs right at the beginning of your purchase.

The best time to do this is before even applying for your pre-approval or making any offers on a home. Closing costs may include:
>insurance
>taxes (Land Transfer, Property, and others depending on what province you are in)
>legal/notary fees
>inspection/appraisal fees.

A general rule of thumb is to set aside 1.5% of the purchase price to account for the closing costs above. To plan ahead, consider speaking to a mortgage broker and your realtor. They can help you determine just how much you should set aside to accommodate those additional closing costs.

2. Utility Bills.
If you’ve gotten used to living in a small space, such as a condo or an apartment, you may be surprised how much more water, heat, and energy you consume in a larger space such as a detached home or a townhouse.

It’s important to prepare for these as you do not want to have a “surprise” when your bill arrives in the mail and it’s nearly double what you are used to spending!

Factoring in these bills is also crucial if you are going from renting to owning! Often times the landlord will cover a portion of your utility bills or your cable/internet depending on the contract you had with your landlord. Of course, once you are a homeowner, you are covering the entire cost! Ask family members, friends, even your mortgage broker or realtor what is a realistic cost for things such as cable and internet, water, heat, etc. You’d be surprised how fast they can add up!

3. Renovations and Updates.

Unless you bought a newly built, brand new home, there is undoubtedly going to be future renovations and updates that you will need to do on your home. They may not need to happen right when you move in, but sometimes the unexpected does happen and having money set aside can make a world of difference! When you have your home inspection completed, make a prioritized list of what will need to be fixed/updated first and set aside money each month for it.

In addition to the “must do” updates/renovations, new property owners may also want to make aesthetic improvements, whether they mean to reside there or not. Naturally, a homeowner wants to make the place feel more like their own, and investors want to add value their investment or make adjustments to make the asset more aesthetically pleasing.

4. Ongoing Maintenance
Home’s require maintenance—all the time! Ask any homeowner and they will tell you that there is always home maintenance in one form or another happening. A few common home maintenance costs may include:
• Gutter cleaning
• Roof repair/maintenance
• Drywall repair
• Furnace cleaning
• HVAC and Duct cleaning
• General plumbing and electrical fixes
Every home is different in regards to how much you should budget annually for regular maintenance. It will depend on the age of your home, square footage, climate in your region, and overall condition of your home.

In closing, property ownership shouldn’t be dampened by financial rules caused by lack of preparation. All of these costs, as well as additional other costs, are easy to plan ahead for and to ensure that you have budget set aside each and every single month to make sure that you stay on track. As a rule of thumb, the CMHC states that your housing costs including mortgage payment should not exceed 39% of your monthly income. Treat this number as a point of reference when you’re doing your budget and consider leaving room for the unexpected. It’ll give you peace of mind on the long run and allow you to actually enjoy your new home!

19 Sep

HELPING FAMILIES ONE AT A TIME

General

Posted by: Deb White

 

Every once in a while you get to help people out and make a real difference in their lives. Recently a couple was referred to me who wanted to renew their mortgage. The bank that they had been dealing with for over 20 years had offered them a 5 year fixed rate that was more than 1% higher than the going rate.

First I told them to accept the lender’s option for a 6 month open mortgage. While it had an interest rate twice as high as they usually pay, it’s open and we could switch them as soon as everything was done. I have had other lenders who automatically put people into a fixed rate 6 month mortgage if they did not hear back from the clients before the mortgage expired.

I was able to beat this rate without any difficulty, but I was wondering why they were offered such a high rate. On closer examination of their credit reports, I saw that in the three years since they had purchased their home, they had built up their credit card and line of credit debt up over $50,000. As a result, the debt ratios didn’t work with any lenders. Their lender knew this and decided to take advantage of the client and charge them a premium to renew.

What the bank was not counting on was a mortgage broker who doesn’t give up. Over the years, our brokerage has developed relationships with a variety of lenders. One of those lenders, a credit union, arranges RRSP loans for us. They were running a loan special with an interest rate of 4.95% for loans up to $50,000. I sent a copy of our application over to the credit union with my clients’ permission and they were able to consolidate $50,000 of the debt and lower the monthly payments by $500. In addition, they would be paying off all this debt in 5 years. Under the old 19% rate, it would take them 10-plus years to pay their credit cards.

Now I was able to arrange a loan and lower their payments by over $200 a month. As this took time to arrange the consolidation loan and then the mortgage switch approval, rates dropped again by another .10 basis points. I was able to get the mortgage rate lowered again saving the clients another $1080 over 60 months which paid for the higher interest rate they had for 2 months.

Now I have saved my clients $43,000 over the next 5 years. That was a good day. If you want to look at options for lowering your mortgage and credit debts be sure to speak to your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

29 Aug

NEED AN APPRAISAL – 7½ TIPS FOR SUCCESS

General

Posted by: Deb White

Do you need to get a current value of your property? Then you are going to need an appraisal.

Banks and other lending institutions want to know the “current” market value of your home before they consider loaning money on the property. An appraiser checks the general condition of your home and compares your home to other similar homes which have recently sold in order to define a comparable market value for your home.

Here are 7½ tips that can help you get top current market value.

Short version – Prepare your home as if it was going to be sold!!

Long version… If a picture is worth a thousand words, think what kind of story the pictures from your home are telling?

In the world of mortgages, lenders seldom set foot on the property before making a loan decision.

Instead, they rely on their trusted list of approved appraisers. All a lender usually gets is the appraiser’s pictures of your property and their comments about how your home was appraised.

Tip #1 – Clean up. The appraiser is basing the value of your property on how good it looks. Before the appraisal, prepare your home as if you’re selling it. Clean and declutter every room, vacuum, and scrub. Do whatever you can to make your home as presentable as possible.
Tip #2 – Pay attention to curb appeal. An appraisal is all about first impressions. And the very first one the appraiser gets is when they walk up to your property. Spend an hour or two making sure the outside of your house, townhouse or condo is warm and welcoming.

Tip #3 – The appraiser must be able to see every room of the home, no exceptions. Refusal to allow an appraiser to see any room will be noted in the appraisal can be a game stopper. There are times when it is not appropriate for the appraiser to take pictures of certain things and appraisers and lenders understand this, but refusal to grant access could kill your deal.

Tip #4 – Make a list of upgrades and features. It’s important that the appraiser is made aware of any updates you’ve made, especially those which are hidden, like new plumbing and electrical. If possible, give the appraiser this list. That way they have a reference as to what has been updated and how recent or professional that work was done.

Tip #5 – If you need to spend to update, be prudent. Many people think “bathrooms and kitchens” are the answer for getting high prices on home value. They aren’t. First, consider that kitchen and bathroom remodels can be some of the priciest reno costs. For that reason, it may be more prudent to spend a bit of money, for just a bit of updating. Paint, new flooring, new light or plumbing fixtures don’t break the bank, but can provide a dramatic impact and improve your home’s value.

Tip #6 – You know your neighbourhood better than your appraiser does. Find out what similar homes in your neighbourhood have sold for. Your property might look like one down the street, but if you believe the value of your property is worth more, let them know why.

Tip #7 – Lock up your pets. I’m sure most appraisers like pets, but some may be put off by your cat rubbing against their leg or the dog barking or following them around.

Tip #7½ – One last tip – don’t annoy the appraiser with questions and comments and follow them around. Instead, simply be prepared to answer any of their questions and, if you do have concerns or queries, wait until they’ve completed their viewing of the property, then ask.

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… Engage a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage expert!

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.