FIXED VERSUS VARIABLE INTEREST RATES

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 28 Feb

Fixed Interest Rates

This is usually the more popular choice for clients when it comes to deciding on which type of interest rate they want. There are many reasons why, but the most unsurprising answer is always safety. With a fixed interest rate, you know exactly what you are paying every month and you know that the amount of interest being charged for the term of your mortgage will not increase and it will not decrease. Fixed interest rates can be taken on 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, as well as 7 and 10-year terms. Please note, term is not meant to be confused with amortization. When you have a 5-year term but a 25-year amortization- the term is when your mortgage is up for renewal, but it will still take you the 25 years to pay off the entire debt. The biggest knock on fixed interest rates when it comes to mortgages, especially 5-year terms, is the potential penalty. If you want to break your mortgage and pay it out, switch lenders, take advantage of a lower rate, or anything like this and your term is not over, there will be a penalty. With a 5-year term, a fixed rate penalty can be anywhere from $1,000- $20,000 or more. It all depends on the lender’s current rates, what yours currently is, the length of time remaining on your term, and the balance outstanding. The formula used is called an IRD (interest rate differential) and the penalty owed will either be the amount this formula produces or three month’s interest- which ever is greater. Fixed interest rates, especially 5-year terms can be the most favourable. They are safe, competitive interest rates that you will not need to worry about changing for the term of your mortgage. However, if you do not have your mortgage for the entire term, it could hurt you.

Variable Rate Interest

The Bank of Canada sets what they call a target overnight rate and that interest rate influences the prime rate a lender offers consumers. A variable rate, is either the lender’s prime lending rate plus or minus another number. For example, let us say someone has a variable interest rate of prime minus 0.70. If their lender’s prime lending rate is 5.00% in this example, they have an effective interest rate of 4.30%. However, if for example the prime rate changed to 6.00%, the same person’s interest rate would now be 5.30%. Written on a mortgage, these interest rates would look like P-0.7. Variable interest rates are usually only available on 5-year terms with some lenders offering the possibility of taking a 3-year variable interest rate. When it comes to penalties, variable interest rates are almost always calculated using 3-months interest, NOT the IRD formula used to calculate the penalty on a fixed term mortgage. This ends up being significantly less expensive as breaking a 5-year term mortgage at a fixed rate of 3.49% with a balance of $500,000 will cost approximately $15,000. That is if you use the current progression of interest rates and broke it at the beginning of year 3. A variable interest rate of Prime Minus 0.5% with prime rate at 3.45% will only cost $3,800. That is a difference of $11,200. You can expect to pay this kind of amount for the safety of a fixed rate mortgage over 5-years if you break it early.

Which one is best?

It completely depends on the person. Your loan’s term (length of time before it either expires or is up for renewal) can be anywhere from a year to 5 years, or longer. A first-time home buyer typically has a mortgage term of 5 years. Within those 5 years, the prime rate could move up or down, but you won’t know by how much or when until it happens. Recently, variable rates have been lower than fixed rates, however, they run the risk of changing. With fixed interest rates, you know exactly what your payments will be and what it will cost you every month regardless of a lender’s prime rate changing. If you go to the site www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/bank-lending-rate you can see the 10-year history of lender’s prime lending rate. Because lenders usually change their prime lending rate together to match one another (except for TD), this graph is a good representation. As you can see, from 2008 to 2018, the interest rate has dropped from 5.75% to 2.25% all the way back up to 3.45%. Canada has had this prime lending rate since 1960, and in that time it has seen an all-time high of 22.75% (1981) and all-time low of 2.25% (2010). Whether you want the risk of variable or the stability of a fixed rate is up to you, but allow this information to be the basis of your decision based on your own personal needs.

Courtesy of Ryan Oake, AMP – DLC Producers West Financial

HOW THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY BECAME GREEN

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 27 Feb

When I started working as a broker in 2005, the mortgage industry and the financial industry in general weren’t very eco-friendly. Let’s face it. When someone buys a home, there’s a paper trail. Starting with the mortgage pre-approval which can run four pages, the Offer to Purchase, which is another 12 pages, income documents, notices of assessment, appraisal, and MLS listing condo documentation to add to the pile of paper. Often you would end up with a stack of paper 50-60 pages high. I needed a copy, the lender needed a copy and then my broker needed to keep a copy on file for seven years. I found that I was going to Staples and buying a case of 5,000 sheets of paper every year. I recall going to my broker’s office and seeing the admin assistant struggling to find a place to put another big box of files as the storage room was full.
What a difference a few years makes. Lenders started to accept documents in PDF format, saving us from faxing them, while brokers and lenders started to use secure servers to store the documents and the paper pile dropped for me from 5,000 sheets a year to less than 500. With photo scanning apps on phones, I expect that the paperwork will continue to shrink.
However, there are other signs of greening in the financial sector. Products like CMHC’s Purchase plus Improvements allow us to encourage our clients to change their windows and doors for more energy efficient ones, adding insulation and putting the renovations into their mortgage. In addition, if the repairs result in an Ener-guide reading of more than 82, or if they buy a new Built Green Canada home, they can qualify for a 15% rebate in their mortgage default insurance premiums.
We may not be building windmills or using solar power, but the Mortgage Industry has definitely become greener in the past decade.

Courtesy of David Cooke, AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages

WHAT IS A COLLATERAL MORTGAGE?

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 26 Feb

A collateral mortgage is a way of registering your mortgage on title. This type of registration is sometimes used by banks and credit unions. Monoline lenders, on the other hand, rarely register your mortgage as a collateral charge – which is an all-indebtedness charge that allows you to access the equity in the home over and above your mortgage, up to the total charge registered.

What this means is that you may be able to get a home equity line of credit and/or a readvanceable mortgage, or increase your mortgage without having to re-register a mortgage. This is a real benefit to you in some cases because re-registering your mortgage can cost up to a thousand dollars.

However, there are some negatives to having a collateral mortgage.

First and most glaring – because it is an “all indebtedness” mortgage – it brings into account all other debts held by that lender into an umbrella registered against your home. This means that your credit cards, car loans, or any related debt at your mortgage’s institution can be held against your home, even if you’re up to date with your mortgage payments.
Secondly, if you want to switch your mortgage over to a different lender, they may not accept the transfer of your specific collateral mortgage. This means you’ll need to pay additional fees to discharge the mortgage and register a new one.
And lastly, collateral mortgages make it more difficult to have flexibility to get a second mortgage, obtain a home equity line of credit from a different institution, or use a different financial instrument on your home. This is because your collateral mortgage is often registered for the whole amount of your property.
To recap, collateral mortgages give you the flexibility to combine multiple mortgage products under one umbrella mortgage product while tying you up with that one lender. While this type of mortgage can be a great tool when used correctly, it does have its drawbacks.

Courtesy of Eitan Pinsky, AMP – DLC Origin Mortgages

6 REASONS TO GET A HOME INSPECTION BEFORE YOU BUY

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 23 Feb

In an active housing market sometimes buyers are urged by their realtors to make an offer with no conditions. As a mortgage broker this always makes my heart skip a beat. I know from experience that financing can go sideways and you need to be sure it’s in place before removing conditions.
Another item that should not be forgotten is a house inspection. You may have a good eye for décor but house inspections are not for amateurs. We have all heard, “Never judge a book by its cover” so why would you make the most important purchase in your life without checking it out? This may be the best $300-$500 you ever spent. Here’s why.

#1 – It provides an out for the home buyer.
Sometimes hidden structural issues like a cracked foundation or saggy beams can mean expensive repairs. If the price can’t be re-negotiated then you have a way to walk away from an expensive mistake.
A few years ago I had a client who I preapproved for a mortgage. He found the perfect house in south east Calgary and made an offer which was accepted. He then ordered a house inspection while I arranged the mortgage. The inspector came back and told my client that there were 10 things he could see in the house that indicated that it had been used as a grow op. My client used this to break the contract and went on to buy another home without any problems.

#2 – Revealing illegal additions or improper renovations
If the DIY seller wired the house improperly or used sub-standard materials your home insurance could be null and void if you had something happen in the future. The home inspector for my first home noticed that the indoor outdoor carpet in the master bedroom had been glued to the hardwood, something that resulted in a multi-day project we were not counting on.

#3 Safety and Structural issues
Inspectors go up into the attic , and down into the farthest reaches of the basement and can spot things like mold, holes in the chimney, improper wiring or improperly vented fans.

#4 – Aiding in the planning for future maintenance expenses
Unless the home is brand new you will need to replace a number of things; water heaters last 6-10 years, roofs about 20 years , furnaces about 25 years. . The report will include an estimate on the remaining life for each of these expensive items which will give you time to save for their eventual replacement.

#5 Bargaining power
If you find something that will cost a considerable amount to replace or repair you can go back to the seller’s agent and ask for a reduction in the price. A leaky roof may cost $3000 to replace. Perhaps the seller would split the cost with you? It’s worth asking.

#6 Peace of Mind
Finally, for your own peace of mind. When you have spent all your hard earned cash on a home and will be paying it off for 20+ years, it’s easier to sleep at night knowing that the house won’t come tumbling down on you or that you paid too much .
While an inspection cuts into your budget at a time when you need all the cash you can get, you will find it is money well spent. NOTE: If you live in an area where housing prices are rising quickly your appraisal may come in low as the property is appraised based on sales in the previous 90 days.

Courtesy of David Cooke, AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages

FORECLOSURE NOT AUTOMATIC ON DEFAULT

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 22 Feb

According to a recent case tried in the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Winters v Hunking, 2017 ONCA 909 as summarized by Scott McGrath of WeirFoulds LLP, Foreclosure is not automatic on default.

In an interesting article posted December 8, 2017 in Mondaq, Scott McGrath reminds us that the Court may have acknowledged the Lender was within their rights to commence foreclosure proceedings, but special circumstances “made such a foreclosure unjust in the circumstances”.

Special Circumstances an issue
The case involved a $350,000 mortgage granted to the Lender by Mr. Hunking. He made no payments on the mortgage, nor apparently did he pay his realty taxes. These facts were never in dispute, however a significant degree of sympathy was accorded the Mr. Hunking, the Appellant. It was established that he was illiterate and low income. According to his doctor he was also “severely mentally challenged”, with “significant cognitive impairment”. One might conclude that on the face of it, the Mortgagor was clearly in default, and the Lender was within their rights to exercise whatever remedies were available to them. The individual’s condition however, would possibly inform us as to why he did not respond to foreclosure proceedings.

Appeal Court Considerations
The lower court had refused to set aside the default judgement ordering foreclosure. The motion judge was not convinced that the facts were such as to persuade him to set aside the original order. The Court of Appeal took a different interpretation, raising a number of issues, including, importantly, that a Foreclosure action would prevent the mortgagor from accessing considerable equity in the property, thus providing the Lender with a windfall.

What is the take-away here? Quite simply that a foreclosure is not a guarantee. A sympathetic mortgagor may get the court’s sympathy, which could have significant implications for the lender.

Courtesy of Allan Jensen, AMP – DLC The Mortgage Source

RRSP – USE HOME BUYERS’ PLAN (HBP) MORE THAN ONCE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 21 Feb

Under the home buyers’ plan, a participant and his or her spouse or common- law partner is allowed to withdraw up to $25,000 from his or her RRSP to buy a home. Before 1999, only the first- time home buyers are permitted to buy a home under this plan. Now a person can take an advantage of HBP plan more than one, two, three, four or more times as long as the participant in this plan fulfills all other conditions. The house can be existing or can be built.

Are you a first – time home buyer?
You are considered a first-time home buyer if, in the four year period, you did not occupy a home that you or your current spouse or common-law partner owned. The four-year period begins on January 1st of the fourth year before the year you withdraw funds and ends 31 days before the date you withdraw the funds.
For example, if you withdraw funds on March 31, 2018, the four-year period begins on January 1, 2014 and ends on February 28, 2018.
If you have previously participated in the HBP, you may be able to do so again if your repayable HBP balance on January 1st of the year of the withdrawal is zero and you meet all the other HBP eligibility conditions.
Qualifying home – a qualifying home is a housing unit located in Canada. This includes existing homes and those being constructed. Single-family homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, mobile homes, condominium units, and apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings all qualify. A share in a co-operative housing corporation that entitles you to possess, and gives you an equity interest in a housing unit located in Canada, also qualifies.

Repayment of withdrawal amount into RRSP
Generally, you have up to 15 years to repay to your RRSP, the amounts you withdrew from your RRSP(s) under the HBP. However, you can repay the full amount into your RRSP(s)
Each year, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will send you a Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) statement of account, with your notice of assessment or notice of reassessment.
The statement will include:
• the amount you have repaid so far (including any additional payments and amounts you included on your income tax and benefit return because they were not repaid);
• your remaining HBP balance; and
• the amount you have to contribute to your RRSP and designate as a repayment for the following year.

Courtesy of Gurcharan Singh, AMP – DLC Canadian Anderson Financial Mortgage Team

SELF-EMPLOYED? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MORTGAGES

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 19 Feb

Why, why, why it is so challenging for entrepreneurs to obtain a mortgage in Canada?
If you’re among the 2.7 million Canadians who are self-employed, regrettably your income is not as easy to document as someone who’s traditionally employed.

Since 2008, mortgage regulations in Canada have made it more challenging for those who work for themselves to qualify for a mortgage due to tighter restrictions on “stated income” loans. In 2012, Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) introduced Guideline B-20, which requires federally regulated banks to evaluate applications for residential mortgages and home equity lines of credit with more scrutiny. These rulings made it more challenging for the self-employed to prove income.

Here’s what Self-Employed home buyers need to know:

1. Most self-employed are motivated to decrease their earnings to avoid paying tax through legitimate expenses and personal deductions.
-Therefore, much of one’s self-employed income does not show up on paper.

2. I’m sorry… but you can’t have your cake and eat it too! If you choose to write off as much of your income as legally possible to avoid paying taxes, claiming low take-home pay, you will end up paying a higher interest rate on your mortgage.
– i.e. home buyer is a tradesperson, they earn $70,000/year and legitimately write off their business expenses to $40,000/year on Line 150 of their tax return. Lenders use income from Line 150… not gross income to determine affordability.
– Some lenders allow you to “gross up” your declared taxable income (as opposed to stated income) by adding up to 15%.
– i.e. if your declared income on your Notice of Assessment (NOA) is $40,000, the lender could add 15% for a total of $46,000. In most cases this doesn’t really help the business owner, as their income is still too low to qualify for the mortgage they want.

3. The new mortgage rules mean the assessment of a self-employed applicant’s income has become far more rigorous. Lenders now analyze the average income for the industry a self-employed candidate works in, and study the person’s employment history and earnings in the field. Their stated income should be reasonable, based on:
– industry sector
– type of business
– length of time the operation has been in business

4. Work with professionals. You need to hire a qualified book keeper and a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). Their job is to know the ins and outs of taxes so that you can put your focus on growing your business.
– You need to keep all your financial affairs up to date. That means getting the accountant prepared financials, filing your annual tax returns and most importantly paying your taxes. Government always gets first dibs on any money. Lenders won’t be interested in you haven’t paid your taxes.
– I recommend having a discussion with your CPA. Let them know that you want to buy a home. Come up with a budget of what income you need to be able to prove on your tax returns.

Suggestion: you could choose to pay more personal income tax this year, to push your line 150 income up and help you qualify for any mortgage transactions you hope to make. Please note: most lenders will want to see 2 years history, to prove consistency in earnings.

5. For self-employed borrowers, being able to document income for the past 2-3 years gives you more lending options. Some of the documents your lender may request include:
– Credit bureau (within 30 days of purchase)
– Personal tax Notice of Assessment (NOA) for the previous two to three years.
– Proof that you have paid HST and/or GST in full.
– Financial statements for your business prepared by a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).
– Contracts showing your expected revenue for the coming years (if applicable).
– Copies of your Article of Incorporation (if applicable).
– Proof that you are a principal owner in the business.
– Business or GST license or Article of Incorporation

6. If you have less than 20% down payment, Genworth is the only option of the 3 mortgage default insurers that still has a stated income program.

Self-employed home buyers, who can document proof of income, can generally access the same mortgage products and rates as traditional borrowers.

Tips for self-employed applying for a mortgage to ensure the process goes smoothly:

1. Get your finances in order. Pay down your debt!!
– Every $400/month in loan payments lowers your mortgage eligibility by $100,000
– Every $12,000 in credit card debt lowers your mortgage eligibility by $100,000
– Do you see a theme here? Pay down your debt! Resist buying/leasing a new vehicle or taking on any additional debt prior to buying your home

2. 3 “Rules of Lending” what Banks look at when you apply for a Mortgage in Canada
– Debt-service ratios are a major factor in a loan-approval assessment based on your provable income (Line 150 – what you paid taxes on)
– Maintain good credit. Solving the Puzzle – 5 factors used in determining your Credit Score
– Consider a larger down-payment.
– If you run into difficulty qualifying on your own, consider having someone co-sign for your mortgage. Would a Co-Signer Enable You to Qualify for a Mortgage?

3. Have two to three years’ worth of your self-employed supporting documentation available so your mortgage broker can work with you to set up your Mortgage Preapproval.

4. Be consistent and show stability. Lenders prefer self-employed borrowers who work in a business that’s established and have expertise in that field.

What happens if the banks still don’t want you for a conventional mortgage?

Many high net worth business owners with low stated incomes turn to private mortgage lenders for financing, since they can’t prove their income.
It is difficult to navigate which lenders specialize in self-employed mortgages. Using a mortgage broker has obvious advantages, since mortgage brokers have access to multiple lenders and have a broad knowledge of the mortgage market.

Courtesy of Kelly Hudson, AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts

PRE-SALES- SAFE OF NEW RULES?

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 16 Feb

The best part about pre-sales, especially for first time home buyers, is it allows you to reserve a unit for the cost of a deposit and have a significant amount of time to get everything in order. You can save money while renting or living at home, arrange a mortgage that best suits your needs, take advantage of higher income if your employer has scheduled raises, cash in on property appreciation without making a mortgage payment, a lot of good things.

The main drawback however, is of course, time itself. Anyone who has had a signed a pre-sale contract prior to January 1st, 2018, with a closing date sometime in the next year or two, will know what I am referring to.

Back in the fall of 2016 we had our first stress test introduced which lead to only 20% down payment applicants being able to qualify at a 5-year fixed contract rate. With people qualifying at a 5-year fixed rate, they were able to potentially borrow more money, leading to a lot of people saving up or getting gifted down payments for their pre-sale condos.

Well, fast forward from Fall of 2016 to Winter of 2017, and yet another stress test was introduced, this time, removing the ability for anyone to qualify at their 5-year contract term- regardless of down payment size. For several months, it was not made clear by the government how pre-sale contracts were going to be treated when they were signed before January 1st 2018 with a closing date after January 1st, 2018.

The good news is, lenders have the ability to grandfather in those contracts signed prior to the new stress test, which was enforced January 1st, 2018.

This was important for those who just barely qualified for their mortgage on a pre-sale with 20% down and a qualifying rate equal to their contract rate. The reason why is because if someone was qualified at 3.20% and was just barely approved but now had to qualify at an interest rate of 5.14% (current BoC Benchmark), they would have to sell their contract to buy because they no longer could afford to close.

It is relief for anyone, that pre-sale properties are being grandfathered in for these new changes and will allow those who have paid their deposit to hold on to their contract to purchase. Pre-sales are a way of the future and it is important for the experience to be a pleasant one!

Courtesy of Ryan Oake, AMP – DLC Producers West Financial

IMPROVING YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 15 Feb

Your credit score is a big factor when you apply for a mortgage. It can dictate how good your interest rate will be and the type of mortgage you qualify for.

Mortgage Professionals are experienced helping clients with a wide range of credit scores so we can find you a mortgage product even if your credit is far from perfect.

The good news about your credit score is that it can be improved:

Stop looking for more credit. If you’re frequently seeking credit that can affect your score as can the size of the balances you carry. Every time you apply for credit there is a hard credit check. It is particularly important that you not apply for a credit card in the six months leading up to your mortgage application. These credit checks may stay on your file for up to three years.
If your credit card is maxed out all the time, that’s going to hurt your credit score. Make some small monthly regular payments to reduce your balance and start using your debit card more. It’s important that you try to keep your balance under 30% or even 20% of your credit limit.
It’s also important to make your credit payments on time. People are often surprised that not paying their cell phone bill can hurt their credit score in the same way as not making their mortgage payment.
You should use your credit cards at least every few months. That’s so its use is reported to credit reporting agencies. As long as you pay the balance off quickly you won’t pay any interest.
You may wish to consider special credit cards used to rebuild credit. You simply make a deposit on the card and you get a credit limit for the value of that deposit. They are easy to get because the credit card company isn’t taking any risks.

Courtesy of Tracy Valko, AMP – DLC Forest City Funding

THE ROLE OF THE INSURER IN A MORTGAGE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 14 Feb

Any time a down payment for the mortgage is less than 20%, it is required that the mortgage must be insured thru an Insurer. Why does this mortgage need to be insured, who provides this type of insurance, what does this insurance mean, who is the beneficiary, how much does this insurance cost? All these questions need to be addressed when your down payment is less than 20%.
To start, we need to know certain terms.
High Ratio Mortgage – Also known as insured mortgage is any mortgage where the down payment is less than 20%, also defined where the loan to value ratio is more than 80%.
Conventional Mortgage – Any mortgage where the down payment or equity is 20% or more and in other words the loan to value ratio is less than 80%.
There are three companies in Canada that provide this type of insurance, Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, Canada Capital and Genworth.
The insurance is needed to provide flexibility to buyers in Canada to purchase a property with as little as 5% down payment at the same time the lender is the beneficiary as it protects them in case the borrower defaults on the loan.
The insurance premium is paid once as a lump sum at the time of the purchase of the property and can be added to the mortgage. Premium amount depends upon the down payment and the insurer and can be anywhere from 1.8% to 4.5% of the borrowed amount.
Since insured mortgages are less risk to the lenders, they in turn can offer lesser and more attractive interest rates and mortgage terms.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this insurance is NOT the same as Mortgage Life Insurance. In your life insurance, the beneficiary is the person who you select to be; usually a family member so in case anything happens to you then your family is protected, and your mortgage loan is paid off. But in High Ratio Mortgage Insurance the lender is protected in case the loan defaults.

Courtesy of Asif Qureshi, AMP – Finevo Lending Group

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