PINK SHIRT DAY 2017

General Darick Battaglia 31 Mar

My goodness, where has the time gone?! It seems like just yesterday that I updated you on the recent accomplishments of Bullying Ends Here but it has been almost two months. I’m not going to bore you with every specific detail (so much has taken place as always), but will share some of the highlights.

On February 22nd, Dave Teixeira and I traveled to Vancouver to meet with the Premier Christy Clark of BC and Travis Price to celebrate Pink Shirt Day. As seems our normal practice for this day, we entertained media requests, spoke about the work we are doing and met some inspirational people. There are a lot of people out there making some real positive change! Everyone seemed to LOVE our pink shirt (that we wear all year round).

During those three days in BC, I presented to 5 schools (over 3,000 students) across the Lower Mainland. The responses have been terrific with emails sharing positive feedback along with the following note;

“You came and talked to my school and I didn’t expect much because it’s a school presentation but you changed my life that day. I wanted to say thank you because after your speech, I changed my mind. That day I was going to go home and end it but you made me think twice and I wanted to say thank you because your speech in my school saved my life that night and I’ll forever be appreciative!”

If this isn’t enough evidence to show just how much of an impact we are having on our youth, then I’m not sure what it would take. My goal was always to help just one person and this email now puts our program at 43 lives saved!!! Of course we will never know the true impact the program will have on thousands of others.

With February and March combined, I have presented more than 25 times and reached another 15,000 students. I have spoken to adults and youth alike. April and May will be the last real push for the 2016/17 school year with presentations in BC, Alberta and all over Southern Ontario. The Ontario tour is over two weeks and will be 23 presentations in many cities. We expect to reach close to 20,000 youth. One of the highlights will be when I speak at my old high school on April 20th. This will certainly be an emotional day for me.

I should also share that in February, our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made a short message endorsing our program. You can find this on our website. We also released a three minute commercial sharing more of the program and what it consists of. As I said, so much is happening with so much more to come!

I hope everyone is doing well and getting ready for spring. We have been fortunate here in Calgary to have had spring arrive early. Now that I say that….

Be well and keep smiling. Together we will not only change lives, but SAVE them!

Courtesy of Tad Milmine – Founder, Bully Ends Here

THE GLASS HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 30 Mar

A sincere thank you to our regulators, Ministers, MP’s, etc. for your concern about my personal debt figures.

And thanks for channelling this concern into recent deep and drastic cuts to my personal (home financing) purchasing power. Although certainly chopping Canadian families’ ability to buy a home in today’s rising market by a whopping 20% in one abrupt move seems a tad aggressive. Especially considering the many prudent cuts and measures introduced since 2008 which were enacted with reasonable industry consultation and reasonable rollout periods.

Again, thanks for the attention and concern for my own debt levels.

Perhaps we should talk about yours though; after all our nation’s fiscal order is in your hands. And you seem to be paying a lot of attention to this debt-to-income topic. At least where it applies to my own household.

But how do things look for the federal government’s debt-to-income ratio?

Let’s have a peak at your (or our collective) “house’s” debt to income ratio. And since the metric does not factor in equity, net worth, savings, or any assets at all when applied to us, we’ll leave them equally absent from this conversation.

Federal Gross income: $291.2 Billion
Federal Gross Debt: $1.056 Trillion

This appears to be a 363% debt-to-income ratio.

Why that’s twice our individual household debt-to-income ratio.

Double!

2.17 times higher to be precise.

And isn’t my mortgage debt capped for complete payout at 25 or 30 years – the maximum amortization allowable. Tell us again about the actual amortization timeline of the current national debt.

To Infinity and Beyond!

I believe the effective amortization of the national debt is currently just a touch beyond 25 years, or even 30 years; currently it sits at something closer to infinity. As happens when one steadily spends more than they make.

Perhaps you can tell us about your plans to get our nation’s debt to income level reduced below 167% – since this is apparently a concerning number. And once it is below 167% feel free to talk to me about my own debt-to-income ratio.

As things stand you look a bit like that guy at the party with seven shots of rye in him lecturing us all on how we should never consume more than three shots. Yet we are all going to get up tomorrow and work hard, and we had better because for all your worrying about us we need to hustle every day to cover your own fiscal imprudence.

Perhaps it is time for an early night, some introspection, and some internal house cleaning.

Same rules (ought to) apply.

Courtesy of Dustan Woodhouse, AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts

DEBT-TO-INCOME: A MEANINGLESS METRIC

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 29 Mar

The human brain struggles with distinguishing between a real or imagined threat.

Is it a snake? Or just a shoelace?

One may kill us quick, and so we react fast and think it through later… or maybe never.

Is the often cited, rarely critiqued, ‘debt-to-income’ ratio a snake or a shoelace?

A killer lying in wait or a meaningless footnote?

Federal regulators, and most mainstream media, would have us believe that at 167% it’s an Anaconda slithering through our sheets while we sleep, readying to swallow each household whole.

Two key points often absent from the debt-to-income conversation:

1.      The average household debt figure is largely irrelevant to the financial success of our individual household(s)

2.      What is my own debt-to-income ratio? And am I worrying about it at, say, 500%?

Perceived Reality

If one were to stop a citizen on the street and ask them if they believe today’s low interest rates have allowed Canadians to borrow more money than they should have most would say yes.

If one were to stop a citizen on the street and ask them if they believe today’s low interest rates have allowed housing prices to rise too high too fast, most would say yes.

If on the heels of these two questions you then asked one more question: Should government step in and tighten regulations?

Most at this point with this context would say yes.

And these citizens would be wrong.

Also by “yes” what these citizens mean to say is “regulate my reckless neighbours – not me, I’m cool.”

Framing matters

Let’s ask a few more questions.

Would it sound reasonable to take on a $2,000 mortgage payment with a household income of $100,000?

Is it fair to say that the same $100,000 per year household income could support a $2,600 monthly housing payment?

Likely we are going to get a “yes” response to both of these questions. As indeed these numbers are reasonable by any measure.

Numerical Reality

The $2,000 per month payment represents a monthly payment at today’s interest rates on a $500,000 mortgage balance.

Ah but what if rates double you ask? What if indeed…

The $2,600 per month payment represents a monthly payment at double today’s rates (when that $500,000 mortgage balance comes up for renewal).

Readers quick with numbers can see where this is headed, this household with their $500,000 mortgage balance and a $100,000 household income has a debt-to-income ratio of 500%.

Are they freaking out, suffering desperate times, readying a kidney for sale?

Not at all.

To be fair they do have concerns about debt levels – your debt levels!

The 500% debt-to-income household has things under control; they know that ~$1,000 of that ~$2,000 payment is principle reduction, a forced savings plan. They also know that the ~$1,000 interest component per month (fixed for the next five years) is way less than what they were paying in rent last year, and unlike rent this expense will not rise for five full years…and their mortgage debt balance will be dropping steadily. (by ~$60,000 over the first five years).

How many renters will see a ~$60,000 increase in net worth over the next five years? (this amount assumes 0% movement in home prices)

Nonetheless citizens remain concerned. Concerned that today’s low rates have allowed you to borrow more than you should have – and as you know, you are A-OK.

Guess what, your neighbours are OK too.

They are OK with a 500% debt-to-income.

Although few in Canada actually have a debt-to-income ratio this high; in fact Bank of Canada research shows that just 8% of Canadians have a debt-to-income ratio above 350%.

The example used in this piece is in fact a complete outlier, and not at all the norm; we are far more conservative than even these comfortable figures.

Tomorrow we discuss houses, in particular – glass houses and those who reside in them.

Courtesy of Dustan Woodhouse, AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts

WHISKEY, WINE, AND WEAKNESS IN OTTAWA

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 28 Mar

ur Government has concerns about their role with CMHC — essentially a mortgage insurance company — a role in which taxpayers are technically liable for their clients’ actions and behaviour (despite current CMHC premium reserves on hand to withstand up to a 40% market devaluation).

These concerns were apparently part of justification used regarding recent significant changes to not only the amount of debt Canadians can access (~20% less mortgage money) but also just which companies Canadians can access mortgage debt through. Limiting exposure to potentially bad behaviour seems a common refrain in Ottawa these days.

But what about bad behaviour with regard to unsecured debt?

‘Not our problem’ they state. Citing their lack of guaranteeing unsecured debt as they do mortgage debt.

Let’s view this through the lens of an analogy using cars, booze, and sales tactics.

Instead of mortgage insurance let’s call it car insurance, and consider the sales process of two different types of car dealers.

Company #1 strives to maximize profits by giving away a six pack of wine coolers (a new credit card) and a 40oz bottle of whisky (an unsecured line of credit) with every car (mortgage) sold. They place these ‘extras’ right there on the passenger seat at the time of delivery. Easy access.

Now hey, you don’t have to open these products up, and they cost you nothing if left unused. After all you only pay for what you consume. The sales agent is directly compensated for upselling you on the use of said wine & whisky; in fact their annual bonus depends upon it.

Company #2 has no Whisky (unsecured debt) to offer you. Their business model is simply to place you the right car (mortgage) for you and that is it. Often at a sharper price, with a few more bells and whistles, and a vastly superior trade in value (prepayment penalties). They send you on your way with a smile and a wave. No follow-up to cross-sell you on multiple other tempting products, like the wine & whisky for example.

Admittedly not everyone is going to crack that bottle open and consume the entire thing during their first drive home. But it seems reasonable, at least it should be to the insurance company (The Federal Government) witnessing this sales process, that there ought to be some greater concerns about the increased claims from company #1 and perhaps some stiffer regulations and legislation may be in order – especially when the government’s own research shows that twice as many clients of company #1 (0.28%) get into trouble and make a claim is do clients of company #2 (0.14%).

Table 1-A: Characteristics of median mortgage borrowers 2013Q1–2016Q3

Traditional lenders (*1) Mortgage Finance companies (*2)
Credit score 739 742
90-day arrears rate (%) 0.28 0.14
Household income (annual) $80,912 $84,404
Loan-to-income ratio (%) 304 357
Total debt-service ratio (%) 35.3 37.2

*1. Banks and credit unions

*2. Based on mortgages in pools of National Housing Act Mortgage-Backed Securities as of 2015Q4

Sources: Department of Finance Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Bank of Canada calculations

Instead our government appears to see things differently.

When the government decided to enact stiffer regulations and restrictive legislation they called only on Company #1 for consultation, and interestingly the net result of said consultation and deliberation is a set of new regulations which threaten the very existence of Company #2.

Despite the research clearly indicating a more prudent approach to the business by Company #2 than that of their competition (Company #1).

Taking into account the relative youth of Company #2 (about a decade) vs the age of Company #1 (~150yrs) the variation of the equity (loan-to-income) held by each of its clients is more than reasonable and understandable. The narrow difference in total debt-to-service reflects the generally conservative nature of Canadians and further supports the prudent processes in place at Company #2.

Why is our government effectively trying to legislate Company #2 out of business?

Why is our government consulting only with Company #1 when the government’s own research demonstrates the people at Company #2 are doing twice as good a job when it comes to avoiding problem clients?

Food for thought.

Courtesy of Dustan Woodhouse, AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts

CONSUMER DEBT VS MORTGAGE DEBT

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 27 Mar

During a recent trip to our nation’s Capital with folks from Dominion Lending Centres and other mortgage groups, an Ottawa insider made an interesting comment: “We don’t care about consumer debt, because we don’t guarantee it.”

This comment was made in an effort to justify recent increased restrictions placed on borrowers taking out insured mortgages (i.e. backed by CMHC, Genworth, or Canada Guaranty – effectively the federal government) due to increasing concerns in Ottawa around the optics of “taxpayer backed” mortgages.

This use of such hot button language would be laughable if taxpayers understood a few key things about CMHC in particular:

1. It is incredibly profitable and has generated tens of billions of general revenue for the Federal Government over the years. (This is arguably one of the most profitable Crown Corporations ever created).
2. The actual numbers as to just what CMHC (taxpayers) are “on the hook” for. (see chart below).
3. The incontrovertible fact that the government will, should the need arise, bail out the privately-owned banks should they ever truly misstep and get into trouble – meaning all debt in Canada is truly government guaranteed when you get right down to it.

Consumer debt vs mortgage debt
Source: CMHC

What hit me as most stunning about such a laissez faire attitude towards consumer debt, setting aside the question of protecting consumers from themselves (got a pulse? No job? No established credit? No problem, here is a 14% car loan and a $20,000 credit card) was that the very people managing these “taxpayer guaranteed” mortgages cannot see the problem with a system in which the major banks approve the mortgage itself under strict guidelines and then the moment it is approved offer the newly leveraged client an additional $5,000 – $80,000 in unsecured credit “just in case” the new homeowners “need” new furniture, a new car, a vacation, etc.

How is that not a significantly relevant factor in the stability and security of the guaranteed mortgage product?

The real irony in this?

The Fed backs these mortgages through two sorts of lenders, and has arguably been creating policy to heavily restrict the competitive ability of one of the two channels. More tomorrow on just how misdirected the regulations being imposed are in their targeting of one supplier channel over another.

Courtesy of Dustan Woodhouse, AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts

Now Is the Time To Get Pre-approved For Your Mortgage!

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 17 Mar

So 2016 was an exciting year in the mortgage world! The problem is that we mortgage professionals really hate it when things get exciting in our world. Between the economy and the federally mandated mortgage rule changes and their ensuing fallout, it is now more important than ever to get a solid pre-approval in place. I am not just speaking to first time home owners either! Before you list your current home or refinance your mortgage or consider buying a rental, you need to make sure that you qualify under the new mortgage rules.

The biggest change by far was the increase to the mortgage qualifying rate. Basically, no matter which term you are selecting you will have to qualify at the Bank of Canada posted rate which is currently 4.64%. The mortgage rate you are given will be considerably less than this and will be based on whichever term you choose. The rationale is that there is no way rates were going to stay at 2.39% and all of a sudden a lot of people could be hit with a significant mortgage payment increases which could mean increased foreclosures. When you remember that our federal government is actually financially backing those mortgages through the mortgage insurers, they had a vested interest in keeping the housing market secure.

So the things you need to know:

1. Rates have climbed since the rule changes were announced, so if a new home is in your future get a rate hold in place so you are protected against further increases. Most are good for 120 days.

2. Make sure they are checking your credit and not just seeing how much you are qualified for based on your income. Can you imagine selling your home only to be told that you do not qualify for the financing on the next because of something on your credit bureau? It has happened, I assure you.

3. Given the variety of ways in which we all get paid, you also need to make sure your pre-approval is solid given your situation. For example, the mortgage lenders require a 2 year history on all variable income. That means if your income is commission, bonuses, overtime or shift differential then you will need a 2 year history of it before it can be used for the mortgage qualification.

4. Porting is an area which is slightly misunderstood. You will have to qualify for the mortgage under the new rules even if you are just moving the mortgage from A to B. Please refer back to the previous horror story of the people who had sold and then could not buy a new home.

5. Ironically, the changes now mean that if you are refinancing your home, there is a possibility that you will have a higher mortgage rate than someone putting 5% down. This is because the 5% down mortgage is insured while yours with the significant amount of equity is not making it a higher risk for the bank. If you are considering a refi you may want to do it sooner rather than later given the rate increases.

6. Rental properties have been heavily hit by the changes. Our economy means that fewer lenders are willing to consider these mortgages to start with and those that still are have upped the ante. Some have increased the minimum down to 35% from 20%. Others require a very strong net worth in liquid assets. If you have multiple properties make sure they are reporting on your taxes.

So that’s about that. A solid pre-approval from a qualified mortgage professional is a very good peace of mind strategy for both the new home buyer and those veteran buyers. When you’re ready to talk of if you need more information, the mortgage professionals at Dominion Lending Centres are here!

Courtesy of Pam Pikkert, AMP – DLC Regional Mortgage Group

Startling Gap Between the Lifestyle Expectation and Reality of Canadians 40+

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 16 Mar

Over the last few years, we have seen many retired Canadians outliving their retirement savings and requiring a financial solution to help them live the rest of their retirement. In the media alone, there is a constant outpouring of articles relating to retirement planning, preparing enough savings for retirement, as well as numerous articles around when to tap into your CPP. For many retirees and those approaching their retirement, these articles are a reminder of how to prepare and what to anticipate. However, Canadians continue to struggle with their finances in their retirement years.

Many Canadians are entering their retirement years with debt and underestimating the amount they need to save for retirement. In a recent national survey of Canadian homeowners, 40+, that we commissioned, we found there is a large gap between the lifestyle expectations of those Canadians studied and the reality. In fact, a startling 69% of Canadians researched expressed confidence that they have sufficient funds to retire, however 43% of retirees studied have debt including a whopping 35% of Canadians 75+. While 78% claim to have savings and investments, a full 40% have less saved than $100,000. That means, the majority (53%) of Canadian homeowners 40+ have either no or less than $100,000 in savings to carry them through retirement!

The study further goes on to show that a significant portion (82%) of those studied, reported that having the ability to stay in their homes during retirement is very important and 69% value their home equity as an important asset in their retirement plans.

This study also enabled us to question the familiarity of the reverse mortgage product. More than half of the respondents claimed that they were familiar with reverse mortgages, and among those who would consider a reverse mortgage, 50% of them said that the main reason for considering a reverse mortgage is to supplement their income.

Many respondents wanted reassurance that they would continue to own their own home without ownership being transferred to a third party. (yes-customers continue to own their own home!) The respondents also felt more at ease knowing that banks and other secure financial institutions offered the CHIP Reverse Mortgage (they do!) and if the solution was recommended by financial professionals (it is!).

This study is a reminder of how important it is to continue to raise awareness to the reverse mortgage product. Canadians prefer to age in place, are carrying debt and have inadequate savings, but many are directed to solutions that don’t give them the opportunity to live in their homes without the need for monthly mortgage payments. Reverse mortgages are a smart and comprehensible solution for Canadians planning their retirement. To learn more, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

chip-graphic

Courtesy of Yvonne Ziomecki, HomEquity Bank – Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Shopping For a Mortgage

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 15 Mar

Avoid these 5 common mistakes, and you will have no problem getting your mortgage faster, more efficiently, and with a clear understanding of the process:

1. Thinking banks are the first and best place to go for a mortgage

Mortgage brokers can often beat the bank rates by using different lending institutions. The bank is limited to one lender, but if you use a mortgage broker, they have the option to shop for you with multiple lenders to find you the best product.

2. Not knowing your credit score

Your credit score is a HUGE factor in your mortgage application. The first thing lenders look at is your history and your score—then from there they build your file.

You should know where you stand because so much of your lending availability is tied to your credit score. In mere minutes, a mortgage broker can help you obtain a copy of your credit report, and go through it to ensure the information is correct.

3. Shopping with too many lenders

When you shop from institution to institution you will have your credit score pulled multiple times. Lenders typically frown upon this and it may interfere with your mortgage application. If you go to a mortgage broker though, your score is pulled ONE time only.

4. Not keeping your taxes up-to-date

Plain and simple: If you are self employed or the mortgage application is requiring a 2 year income average to qualify (utilizing overtime wages and/or bonuses) and you haven’t filed your taxes and kept them up to date, you cannot get a mortgage. Lenders will ask for your notice of assessment if your tax filings are not up to date, and you will not get your mortgage until they are filed properly and a Notice of Adjustment from the latest year it is received.

5. Not understanding that the real estate market you qualify in TODAY will adjust in the future.

Rates may be at an all time low right now, but new rules, government regulation, and changes when you are up for renewal can change the circumstances. You must be able to carry your mortgage payment at a higher rate or with new laws imposed.

Remember, securing a mortgage isn’t always about getting the best deal. It’s about getting a home you want and establishing yourself as a homeowner. That means not overextending yourself and taking your qualifying amount to the maximum. Leave some breathing room because no one knows what the future may hold!

But one thing’s for sure – you should contact a mortgage professional at Dominion Lending Centres!

Courtesy of Geoff Lee, AMP – GLM Mortgage Group

Home Financing Solutions – Purchase Plus Improvements

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 14 Mar

Are you on the hunt for a new home but can’t find exactly what you are looking for? You’re not alone. House hunters experience this scenario every day. With real estate prices increasing you may not be able to buy your dream home the first go-round.

Think about buying a fixer-upper. There are many potential properties that you can put your own personal stamp on. Why not renovate something?

There is a mortgage product called Purchase Plus Improvements (PPI). With the PPI the lender is able to provide additional financing to improve the subject property. This type of mortgage is available to assist buyers with making simple upgrades, not conduct a major renovation where structural modifications are made. Simple renovations include paint, flooring, windows, hot-water tank, new furnace, kitchen updates, bathroom updates, new roof,  basement finishing, and more.

There are parameters to the PPI mortgage program:

  • Apply for up to a maximum of 10% of the as-improved market value
  • Utilize as little as 5% towards the down payment
  • At the time the application is submitted for approval the lender requires a construction quote to verify the work that is planned for the subject property
  • Renovation to be completed within 120 days
  • A third party (appraiser) must verify completion
  • One advance of the funds once the project is complete
  • Once the renovation is complete the lawyer would release the funds

PPI Scenario

Listed or Purchase Price: $450,000

Value of the Renovation: $45,000

As-Improved Value: $495,000 (new Purchase Price)

Maximum Borrow: $49,500 (10%)

Purchase Price: $495,000

Down Payment: $24,750 (5%)

Mortgage Amount: $470,250

Mortgage Insurance: $16,929

Total Loan: $487,179

Monthly Mortgage Payment: $2,146.17

For many, it is a daunting task to seek a mortgage plus a second type of financing to complete renovations, so why not opt for the PPI option?

If you are considering another form of financing for the renovation, some borrowers look for a line of credit, but is it really saving money and time? An interest-only payment on $49,500 is another $309.38 (based on 7.50%) which saves you $114.28 overall.

With all the different types of mortgages out there, be sure to contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional so we can explain how “we’ve got a mortgage for that”!

Courtesy of Michael Hallett, AMP – DLC Producers West Financial

How Your Credit Score Affects Your Purchase Price

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 13 Mar

Your Credit Score that the lenders use, not to be mistaken by the Credit Risk Score you see when you check your own credit, is one aspect of determining your borrowing power. The better your score, the length of established credit and your payment history the better when it comes to mortgage financing.

Let’s assume that all parts of an application are equal (available down payment, income, monthly liability payments etc.) except for the Credit Score. Established credit in this case would be any credit report that has at least 2 accounts reporting with a limit of $2,000 for 2 Years.

Comparing the credit profiles of Jane and John both who make a gross annual income of $50,000 the following would apply:

First Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS) is the combined shelter expenses (heat, property tax, half of condo fees & mortgage payment) in relation to the borrowers gross income. And Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS) is the GDS plus all other monthly debt liabilities in relation to the borrowers gross income.

Jane has a Credit Score over 680

  • GDS allowed is 39%
  • TDS allowed is 44%

John has a Credit Score between 600-679

  • GDS allowed is 35%
  • TDS allowed is 42%

Each year Jane may allocate $19,500 towards GDS and $22,000 towards TDS.

And each year John may allocate $17,500 towards GDS and $21,000 towards TDS.

Lets assume heat and property tax combined are $300/month. This means that Jane with her excellent credit can allocate $1,325 towards her mortgage payment and John can allocate $1,158 toward his mortgage payment.

Using the current Benchmark Qualifying Rate of 4.64% to qualify Jane may qualify for a mortgage of $236,066 and John may qualify for a mortgage of $206,313, a difference of$29,735.

As you can see there is quite the difference in mortgage amounts allowed under each credit rating. If you’re thinking of buying it’s best to consult a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker who will check your credit, help you determine your maximum mortgage amounts and if necessary help you make credit decisions that may improve your credit score and buying power.

Courtesy of Kathleen Dediluke, AMP DLC Integrity Mortgage

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