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.

9 May

How to Improve your Credit Score

General

Posted by: Deb White

When applying for any sort of loan, one of the most important metrics a lender is going to look at is your credit score.

But what really is a credit score, who keeps track of it, and most importantly, how can you improve yours?

There are a few simple ways to keep your credit score in good shape.

First off, prioritize paying your bills on time. Missing payments on your credit cards, lines of credit and so on, can have a very negative impact on your score.

You can spend an entire lifetime building up for good credit. All it takes is one mistake to negatively impact you.”
Second, try to keep your credit cards at no more than 65% of their limit. This is the sweet spot that credit scorers are looking for.

Thirdly, you should avoid the “free credit score” services out there because they’re just looking to sell you credit, or sell your information to someone who does.

When you’re looking for credit, what they’re going to ask you is, ‘What are you looking for credit for?’ And you’re going to say, ‘Well, I’m looking to get a mortgage, or I’m looking to get a car loan.’ And then what they’re going to do is they’re going to sell your information to banks and mortgage brokers and people out there who are able to supply you with credit.

Instead, what you should do is go directly to the credit scoring companies. They’re required by law to give you your credit information directly, without affecting your score. TransUnion offers an online form, found here. Equifax has multiple types of credit reports you can order here.

You also want to try to limit the number of credit inquiries by different lenders. When you’re shopping around at different banks, the number of inquiries can add up as each bank makes an inquiry to see what they can offer you.

But as a mortgage broker, we have access to multiple lenders all at once.

You could effectively come see a mortgage broker, get one inquiry done, and that inquiry is good for 20 financial institutions, As opposed to having to go directly to every bank. If you have any questions, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

26 Apr

INCOME QUALIFIED

General

Posted by: Deb White

Will your Income Qualify you for a Mortgage?

There are several different ways a borrower can qualify for a mortgage when it comes to their income. One of the most common ways is known as income qualified. All of the following methods of employment income are under the income qualified umbrella:

  1. Annual salary income employees                                                                        
  2. Full time employees working guaranteed weekly hours
  3. Part time employees working guaranteed weekly hours
  4. Auxiliary/On-call employees with 2-yr history at same employer
  5. Commission Sales who have 2-yr history in same job/industry
  6. Employees earning gratuities who have claimed over 2-yr history
  7. Contract employees with 2-yr history at job/industry

There are a couple more types of employment that may fall into this category, but for the most part, these are the types of borrowers whose mortgage application is going to be done using income qualifying.

When it comes to the first 3, a borrower’s income is paid by a business in which they generally do not have any interest/ownership in. This means, an human resources representative or a supervisor can write a letter of employment stating the weekly guaranteed hours, the guaranteed hourly pay rate, the start date, and the employee’s position. The lender will then use this letter, a most recent pay stub, as well as verbally confirm the letter with the employer to verify a borrower’s income. This is how a borrower who works guaranteed hours or salary has their income verified and qualified on a mortgage application.

For numbers 4 to 7, lenders and mortgage brokers will verify and qualify a borrowers income a little differently. Because an employer does not guarantee hours or income, we need to see that there has been at least a 2-year history making the same amount. This 2-year history will usually need to be with the same employer and will need to be documented on your personal income tax returns to the Canadian Revenue Agency. The income amount on your line 150 of your T1 General Tax Returns for the past 2 years are added together and then divided by 2. The amount you get is the income you are allowed to use on your mortgage application and this is then verified by a letter of employment stating you have in fact been an employee there for more than 2 years, your are currently working there, your position, as well as a pay stub showing year-to-date income that is comparable to your 2-year average given the month you are in.

The same process would be used for those who earn over time or bonuses, claim tips, or work part time with two jobs. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

19 Apr

WHEN DEATH STRIKES SUDDENLY

General

Posted by: Deb White

Be prepared!

Recently I was finishing up a mortgage with a young couple who had just had a beautiful baby girl. I brought up the topic of mortgage and life insurance as well as getting a will written up. The response from the husband was that it was such a morbid topic and a real downer when they were excited about their new home.

The fact is that people, even young people die from car accidents, cancer, and even accidental drownings while on vacation. It’s a topic everyone avoids but it needs to be addressed, particularly when you are taking a major financial step like buying a home. What would happen to your spouse if you died suddenly with your mortgage not paid off?

I spoke to a major Canadian mortgage company about this topic.

I asked if the surviving spouse would be kicked out of the house. “ When someone dies who was on our mortgage we want to know right away . We ask for a copy of the death certificate so that we can take them off title. We will let the mortgage run it’s term if payments are being made on time. Many surviving spouses receive a life insurance policy and can pay off the mortgage or at least keep up the payments. We will renew the mortgage if payments are up to date. However, should the surviving spouse want to refinance the mortgage they would have to re-qualify for it.”

So what can you do to make life easier for your family should you die with a mortgage on your home? The easiest option is to have sufficient life insurance to ensure that they can keep up payments or to pay off the mortgage. Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals all offer MPP (Mortgage Protection Plan), a life insurance policy that pays off the mortgage in full in case of the death of the policy holder. The payments never go up because the mortgage balance is going down as the insured person gets older.

Another option is term insurance or whole life insurance. Speak to your favourite insurance broker about this.

Finally, if the surviving spouse is 55 or older, and they can’t afford to maintain the mortgage, a reverse mortgage may be the solution. No payments are made on the principal unless you decide you want to. When the widow(er) moves out the sale of the home pays off the mortgage and interest.

While it can be a “downer” to talk about death and disability, a responsible home purchaser needs to have the conversation with their Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional at the time of their purchase, refinance or renewal. The sudden death of a family member causes enough grief for the survivors, why add to their misery. As the old commercial used to say “Why wait for spring, do it now”.

David Cooke

12 Apr

TRANSFERS AND SWITCHES

General

Posted by: Deb White

Looking to get a lower interest rate on your current mortgage? A transfer/switch may be an option.

Transfer/Switches are when you opt to transfer your mortgage to a new lender in order to take advantage of a lower rate. A transfer/switch does not include additional money to the existing mortgage balance owing, your mortgage amount will remain the same, however lenders will allow you to increase the mortgage up to $3,000 to cover legal costs, possible appraisal fees and if applicable, penalty fees – more on that below.

*Note: If you do require new money or funds (more than $3,000.00) this would then be considered a refinance.

There are two scenarios where you would utilize a Transfer Switch:

1. When your mortgage term is up, and the mortgage is renewing with your existing lender. If you choose to transfer/switch your mortgage at renewal you will not have to pay a penalty. You will still need to qualify and there may be legal and appraisal costs associated with the transfer/switch, just as you would with a new mortgage. However, many lenders offer you the option to include the legal and appraisal fees into you new mortgage and some lenders may cover these costs for you.
2. The second scenario you may choose to do a transfer/switch is when you are in the middle of the term of your mortgage. The only reason you would do this is to take advantage of a lower rate which means a lower monthly payment. This would have to make sense financially for you to do as you will have a penalty associated with breaking the current mortgage.

If your mortgage is up for renewal, or if you are considering a transfer/switch in light of recent rate changes, a mortgage broker can assist you in making the right decision. Similar to when you first financed your mortgage, having a broker assist you gives you:

A DEDICATED INDIVIDUAL SHOPPING FOR YOU:
Reputable brokers have your best interest in mind first!

Your mortgage professional will shop the market to find the best overall cost of borrowing for the client. Broker’s will look at all angles of the product to ensure that the client is getting one that will suit their unique and specific needs. Not once will the client be expected to shop their mortgage around or to speak to the lender.

ACCESS TO THE BEST RATES & PRODUCTS
A mortgage professional has access to:
• Tier 1 banks in Canada
• Credit Unions
• Monoline Lenders
• Alternative Lenders
• Private Lenders

This extensive network of lender options allows brokers to ensure that you are not only getting the sharpest rate, but that the mortgage product is also aligned with the client’s needs.
Now, a few details that you should know before you transfer/switch your mortgage:

YOU WILL HAVE TO SUPPLY DOCUMENTS
Just like when you went through the process the first time, you will have to supply documents to the new lender in order to transfer/switch.

YOU MAY HAVE TO PAY OUT CERTAIN COSTS
As mentioned above, there costs associated with your transfer/switch. If your mortgage is up for renewal and you are opting to transfer/switch these may include admin and legal fees. If you are opting to transfer mid-term to take advantage of a lower rate with a different lender, these may include your penalty and legal/admin fees. However, many lenders will offer up to $3,000 financed into your mortgage to assist in covering these if applicable

YOU WILL HAVE TO QUALIFY UNDER CURRENT REGULATIONS
With a transfer/switch, you are required to pass any and all regulations and stress testing measures may be applicable, however If you are looking at a transfer/switch and your previous mortgage funded prior to November 30, 2016 old mortgage rules apply (no stress test is required). This means
• You are grandfathered in previous under mortgage rules
• You can qualify at the contract rate rather than the stress test of contract rate plus 2% or the benchmark rate (currently at 5.34%)
• In simple terms: no stress testing required.

Before you consider moving, you should run through the numbers with a broker and ensure you qualify.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR PENALTY
If you are switching/transferring mid-term a penalty will apply to your mortgage. To find out what that penalty will look like, we encourage you to speak to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker and have a clear understanding of what you will be paying out. If you are up for renewal and are looking to transfer, you will not have to pay a penalty and may or may not have the aforementioned fees associated with setting up the new mortgage with a new lender.

Remember, a broker is there to work with you to determine if a transfer/switch is right for you and to help you establish which lender will give you not only the best rate, but the most suitable mortgage product too!

Geoff Lee

5 Apr

WHAT IS AN UNINSURABLE MORTGAGE?

General

Posted by: Deb White

Not all mortgages are insurable.

With the mortgage rule changes in recent years, lenders have had to make some adjustments to their rate offerings.

There are different tiers and rate pricing based on the following 3 categories:

1) Insured – a mortgage that is insured with mortgage default insurance through one of Canada’s mortgage insurers, CMHC, Genworth or Canada Guaranty. A mortgage insurance premium based on a percentage of the loan amount is added to and paid along with the mortgage.
2) Insurable – a mortgage that may not need mortgage insurance (20% or more down payment) but would qualify under the mortgage insurers rules. The client doesn’t have to pay an insurance premium but the lender has the option to if they choose.
3) Uninsurable – a mortgage that does not meet mortgage insurer rules such as refinances or mortgages with an amortization longer than 25-years. No insurance premium required.

Insured mortgages are the safest type of mortgage loan for the banks and the most cost-effective way of lending mortgage money, so clients seeking or in need of an insured mortgage will get the best rate offering on the market. Insured as well as Insurable mortgages can be bundled and sold as Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) meaning banks can get that money back quickly so they can lend more out. While Insured mortgages get the best rates, Insurable mortgages are typically a close second. If a mortgage is Uninsurable that means the banks have to lend their own money and have to commit to that loan for the full term at least. This makes it a more expensive loan for the bank, so they pass the cost on to the consumer as a premium on the rate – typically 10-20 basis-points.

While there are rumours that the Government may start to allow refinances and 30-year amortizations to be insured again, no formal announcements are expected in the next few months.

In the meantime, consumers looking to tap into the equity they’ve built (consolidation, investment, home renovations) or wanting to keep their payments as low as they can (30-year amortization) are paying the price.
If either a refinance or a longer amortization is something you are considering, it’s wise to have a free analysis of your mortgage done so you can make an informed decision. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres broker near you.

Kristin Woolard

29 Mar

RENOVATING? CONSIDER A REFINANCE PLUS IMPROVEMENTS

General

Posted by: Deb White

A Refinance Plus Improvements can make a big difference! Read on.

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!

Nathan Lawrence

22 Mar

NUTS & BOLTS OF THE FEDERAL 2019 BUDGET | WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW!

General

Posted by: Deb White

First time home buyer? Read on!

On March 19, the Federal Government announced the official 2019 budget. One major topic on the discussion table (and one we were all holding our breath for) was the discussion of affordable housing in Canada. So just what happened on “Budget Day?” Here are the highlights of the 2019 Federal Budget:

MORTGAGE INDUSTRY RELATED:

CMHC First Time Home Buyers Incentive Plan

-This would give first time home buyers the ability to share the cost of buying a home with CMHC
-For existing homes – the incentive would provide up to 5% (funding/equity sharing) of the PURCHASE PRICE
-For newly constructed homes the incentive would provide up to 10% (funding/equity sharing) of the PURCHASE PRICE
-Funding/Equity sharing means that CMHC would cover a percentage of the purchase price

Example:

  • 400K purchase price, 5% down payment (20K), AND 5% CHMC shared equity mortgage (20K), the size of the insured mortgage would be reduced from 380K down to 360K, which would lower the monthly payment amount for the first time home buyer

To qualify for the program:

  • 120K max household income
  • Cannot borrow more than 4x their annual household income – making max purchase price approx. 505K
  • 100k household income would mean max 400K mortgage in order to use this program.

HOME BUYERS PLAN RRSP INCREASE

An increase of the previous $25,000 for RRSP withdrawal amount through the Home Buyers Plan to $35,000.

These were the only two key changes that came out of the Federal Budget (so far). It provides minimal assistance for First Time Home Buyers, especially in a market like Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, who have home prices well above the 505k purchase price limit. However, it could provide assistance to those looking to purchase condos or townhomes or in more rural areas. One area that will remain the same for the mortgage industry is the continued B-20 stress testing measures (which have recently come under fire).

The predicted start time is Fall 2019 for these guidelines. We will keep you updated on any new additions or changes as the information becomes available. If you have any mortgage related questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

Geoff Lee

15 Mar

MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENTS

General

Posted by: Deb White

Read on for information on minimum down payments!

Are you looking for that new dream home, or anything that will get you out of your current rental property so you can officially become a homeowner?

If so, what is the minimum amount you are required to put down?

Below are three different purchase price categories. Each one has their own minimum down payment requirements and we have included some important notes to also consider at those prices.

| $1-$500,000 | Minimum 5% Down Payment |

  • The lowest amount you need as a cash down payment for a purchase up to $500,000 is only 5% of the purchase price.
  • For a $300,000 home, this would be $15,000.

| $500,001 – $999,999 | Blended Down Payment |

  • The minimum down payment if your purchase price falls in this category is 5% on the first $500,000 and 10% on the remainder up to a million dollars.
  • For a $650,000 purchase price, you would be required to put down $25,000 (5% on amount up to $500,000) and $15,000 (10% of the amount above $500,000 [$150,000 in this case]) for a total minimum down payment of $40,000. This would be a 6.15% down payment.

| $1,000,000 + | Sliding Scale |

  • 20% requirement on entire amount up to $1,250,000 and 50% down payment on amount over $1,250,000 subject to a 75% loan to value.
  • A $1,100,000 purchase price would be a minimum down payment of $220,000 (20%).
  • $1,350,000 purchase price would require $250,000 (20% on $1,250,000) plus an additional $50,000 (50% of amount above $1,250,000 [$100,000 in this case]).
  • Some lenders may make different exceptions depending on the strength of an application but, for the most part, the sliding scale information above is quite accurate.

There you have it! The three most common sized purchase prices and their required minimum down payment. Please keep in mind that almost all lenders will require you to have an additional 1.5% of the property value available in cash to cover all closing costs which may include, for example, lawyer fees, property transfer tax, and insurance. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

Ryan Oake