Your mortgage broker is here to help

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 31 Aug

For many people in Canada, they are first-time home buyers. Or if they are new to Canada, it’s their first home purchase in a new country. They may not be aware of the rules and guidelines. It’s the job of your mortgage broker to make you aware of what is expected from you to avoid disappointment.

Mortgage Documentation
90-day bank statements – It’s important to make your clients aware that they need 90 days of bank statements to show they have saved the funds needed for the down payment and closing costs. Closing costs vary by province, so it’s important to let out-of-province buyers know exactly what the costs are in their new home. I like to explain that the 90-day statements is meant to prevent money laundering. A few years before this law was enacted, gangs would find an elderly couple and offer them the down payment funds asking only to be allowed to grow a few plants in the basement.

Some people are very private and don’t want you to know how much they spend on lottery tickets. They will blank out everything on the statement except for the down payment funds entering the account. This will not be accepted by lenders and is a big red flag for them.
Another problem that can arise with statements is if the clients print them online. As a security precaution, many banks allow printouts but they remove the name and/or account number from the statements. The easiest thing to do is to have them go into a branch and ask for a printout and have it stamped by a teller.

Employment Letters- Many small employers will give a hand written employment letter. This is acceptable but a letter written on company letterhead is better. The letter should state the name of the employee, their job title when they started with the firm, if they are full or part time and what their gross annual income is. If there’s an overtime or bonus component to their pay, this should be clearly explained and how much of their gross is straight salary.

After the Mortgage is approved
It is important for home buyers to know that while the mortgage has been approved they need to avoid doing anything to change their financial situation before possession day. That means they should not quit their job, buy lots of new furniture or a car. Lenders will often check the credit bureau a few days before possession day to see if there’s been any changes. If the debt ratios are out, the mortgage could go sideways. Taking a few minutes to explain this is prudent but it also shows you care. Dominion Lending Centres mortgage brokers are not big banks, we are people who live in the community and we want to see our clients in homes and living happy lives. It matters to us.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

Is easy money coming to an end?

General Darick Battaglia 30 Aug

In a previous post, I discussed interest rates and their effect on real estate values. I argued that they did indeed alter buyer perceptions, and consequently value and price. But what about absolute interest rate levels? Is easy money coming to an end?

Many lack any experience of high interest rates
In a June 5, 2017 Globe and Mail article entitled Remember When: What have we learned from the 1980’s and that 21% interest rate?, author Richard Blackwell quotes CIBC World Markets deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal “We have a generation of Canadians who have never experienced high, or even rising, interest rates,”. He goes on to say “For them, those extremely low interest rates are a given.” Are interest rates likely to test those levels in the future? Likely not, for a host of reasons. First, inflationary pressures seem not to be as prevalent. Yes, you could argue there is price volatility, and a quick trip to the local gas station will confirm that opinion. However globalization seems to have had a positive impact over the past several years. The article states that “Low-priced imports from developing countries have helped keep domestic prices down, and that situation is not likely to change significantly in the next while.” Second is the shifting demographics in Canada, baby-boomers are aging and downsizing and exiting the housing markets. Demand for funds, while still robust, is tapering off.

Is easy money coming to an end?
If inflationary pressures are generally in check, and aging baby boomers are inevitably curtailing spending, are we in for an extended period of low interest rates? Not so fast. In a recent Reuters article entitled Tide about to turn for markets as easy-money decade comes to an end, authors Sujata Rao and Dhara Ranasinghe suggest that “While markets reached dizzying heights during the easy-money era, that flood will dry up the the end of the year. For the first time since 2011, the central banks are expected to suck out more cash in 2019 than they pump in.”

Implications for Property owners
If the era of low interest rates is ending, what will rising rates mean for for commercial real estate buyers? One of the most important considerations in real estate acquisition is cash flow, both current, and anticipated. The absolute level of interest rates, and consequently mortgage rates, speak directly to the performance of commercial real estate. Why? Because of the direct impact on the present value of future cash flows. Your cash flow after debt repayment is eroded by increasing interest rates, and strangled by absolute high interest rate levels. High interest rates lessen future cash flows, which lowers the value of the asset.

Historically inflation rate increases often happen in tandem with interest rate increases. Inflationary pressures seem not to be in evidence, at least not to the degree as we’ve seen previously. One interesting byproduct however, is that while property owner cash flow may erode, inflationary pressures often do increase the value of hard assets. So while increasing interest rates and inflationary pressures erode cash flows, savvy investors often turn to real estate as it has an uncanny ability to whether the storm of inflation.

Courtesy of Allan Jensen – AMP – DLC The Mortgage Source based in Ottawa, ON.

What happens when your credit card account is closed

General Darick Battaglia 29 Aug

I have been working in the mortgage industry since 2005. I have had all sorts of clients over the years. Every once in a while I get someone who has a car loan , a couple of credit cards but there’s a collection from a credit card, a dentist or some other creditor. When I ask why this has not been paid, I am told that they had a dispute with this firm and they are not going to be pushed around. The client doesn’t care if the account is sent to collection, they won’t pay it just on principle.

While I admire people who stick to their guns, they are on a slippery slope and things will not work out well for them. Sometimes they think that because the account is closed they don’t have to pay anymore. This is totally wrong.

CREDIT SCORES WILL DROP
As the creditor has reported your late or missing payment, your score goes down with the credit reporting agencies every month until you get to 120 days late or the creditor closes the account. However, they may send your account to a collection agency who will add their fees to the account and threaten or harass you. While you may not owe the money to your original creditor, they have sold the debt to someone else. You still owe your original amount and probably more with interest accruing every month.

Something that most people do not realize is that this refusal to pay an account means that you won’t get a mortgage or any new credit lines until the problem is resolved. The longer you hold out, the more likely that you will need to use a B lender for your next mortgage and car loan. I have seen car loans with 26% interest and mortgage with 16% interest over the years.
My advice is don’t ignore the problem. Get it resolved as soon as possible. I know that you want to stick to your guns but it’s going to end up costing you a lot of money.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

Buying a home as a new Canadian

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 24 Aug

Canada is made up of hundreds of thousands of people, and while some did not start here, they have made it their home. Buying a home, especially when you are new to Canada can be mind boggling, BUT, we have a mortgage for you!
The New to Canada Program is designed to help new Canadians purchase their first home sooner and become established faster.
What are the qualifications for this program?
Firstly, you must have immigrated or relocated to Canada within the last 3 to 5 years to qualify for the New to Canada Program. You must have proof that you have been working full time in Canada for at least 3 months and that you are not on probation with your employer. The lender will require a letter of employment from your employer with your salary and employment status. Copies of your valid work permit or landed immigrant status card (front and back) will also be a requirement.
Down payment is a minimum of 5% and at least 5% of the funds must come from your own savings and be verifiable with 3 months worth of bank statements from a Canadian Bank. Some lenders will allow the 5% to be a gift from an immediate family member and a gift letter from the lender will be required. Please speak to your broker in advance when a gift is being used. That way we can provide you with information for monies coming from other countries and ensuring you are following all the banking rules and regulations. With a minimum of 5% down payment you will need default insurance, and that can be provided by Canada Guaranty, Genworth or CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing). Each of these insurers offer programs that will work with the lender.
The lender will need to see your credit bureau and, as you are new to Canada, you may be just starting so we will require an international credit report from your country of origin. Just starting up your credit, we can assist you with that by providing valuable information to get you ready for the road to home ownership. You can obtain an International or U.S. Bureau by contacting Equifax and they will point you in the right direction. Your international credit report is taken into consideration by the lender as it will show that you are a responsible borrower and have kept your accounts in good standing. We would advise that a letter of recommendation from your current bank be done as that is also very helpful in the process. If you cannot provide an international credit bureau, the lender will ask you for to confirm your good standing by providing 12 months history of bills that must be paid on time (rent, utilities, cable or insurance premiums).
Working with your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional will provide you with options and answers to your questions. Our advice is always free, we are here to help you make home ownership a reality.
Remember, when looking for your home, use a professional to assist with not just financing but the search as well. Realtors are great negotiators and can also help you determine your requirements in a home, “needs vs wants”. Do you need to be close to schools, public transportation, etc?

Courtesy of Karen Penner – AMP – DLC Jencor Mortgage Corporation based in Calgary, AB.

Toys and buying a home

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 23 Aug

In 2005, I was asked to do a pre-approval by a couple hoping to buy a home. I went through the application with them and pre-approved them for $320,000. They were astounded. They told me that their bank told them that they were qualified to a maximum of $260,000. They wanted to know how I could get them more money. I looked at their credit reports and quickly found the answer.

I pointed out to them that they both had $10,000 unsecured lines of credit. They said that the bank had offered this to them several years ago but they had not used them. The zero balances confirmed their story. What they didn’t know was according to the bank’s rules, they had to consider these lines of credit as being fully utilized. The bank considered them as each carrying $300 in monthly payments that did not exist. My lenders took a zero balance as being a zero balance and I was able to get them more money and more house.

Last year I had a young man who wanted to buy a new home. He was very surprised when I told him he couldn’t afford it according to the new stress test rules. The reason being, he had a $950 a month truck payment. The only solutions available were to sell the truck, or negotiate a new payment plan by stretching out the payments for another year.

The moral of the story is that it’s important to let clients know that other debts outside of their mortgage can affect how much house they can qualify for, and that buying a vehicle or new toys like a trailer or boat before going to see their local mortgage broker, can be a costly mistake. Your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can help you through the whole home buying process but you need to have them involved early in the process. Our job is to make people’s dreams come true and we do it a lot better than the banks.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

Mortgage brokers have solutions

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 20 Aug

A lot of people are getting stressed out by Canada’s new mortgage stress test. In the past, if you had a good sized down payment (ie 20%) someone with a low income could purchase a home even if they did not meet the debt level guidelines for insured mortgages of 32/40 . Later this was changed to 35/44 which made life even easier but – no more.

What is a person with a low income, good credit and a good down payment supposed to do now?

Here’s a solution – get a roommate. If you purchase a home with a friend who is going to share the other bedroom of your condo or take over the basement, the rules do not allow you to include the rent. But there are plenty of homes out in the market with a legal basement suite, a duplex or perhaps a granny suite over the garage. As long as the income portion of your property is zoned for a rental portion, you can claim a portion of the rent as income and qualify for more house.

There are certain minimum guidelines for lenders – they usually want a separate entrance, kitchen and washroom. They may ask for a separate hot water tank as well. Lenders will credit 50% -85% of the rent towards your annual income.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

A tailor-made solution for some borrowers

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 10 Aug

Recently, two of my lenders came out with new products – Interest only mortgages. We have had these available from private lenders for many years but at much higher interest rates. They are useful for real estate investors and people who have consolidated debts and need six months to a year to get back on their feet. These new mortgages are not meant to be short term solutions but they are meant to be used for a minimum of two years and preferably for five years.
So who in their right mind would want a mortgage for five years where the principal doesn’t go down?

1- real estate investors- some investors are looking for cash flow; this is a perfect product for them. They want to keep monthly payments to a minimum so that they ca use the extra cash to buy other properties, or for income to live on. They will eventually sell the properties for a lot more cash when they are ready to retire.

2- Seasonal workers- Lobster fisherman, lumberjacks , oil patch workers and workers in the trades who have to go back to school every year for three years are the people who this product works for. During spring break-up when the oil patch closes for several weeks , the bills don’t stop coming. Working with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker you can design a mortgage to help you through the periods when there’s no income coming in. The best strategy for you may be to step up the mortgage as interest only and then have the broker calculate what a normal amortizing mortgage payment for you would be. During your period of no income, you pay the minimum payments and then when you get back to work, you bump your payment up to normal or even slightly higher to make up for the shortfall.

These interest only mortgages are available with a variable rate, a fixed rate , a variable interest only plus a fixed amortized rate or a combination of any of the above rates. This allows you and your broker to customize mortgage payments to make the best mortgage for your particular situation. It’s like a tailor-made suit. It’s exactly what you need.

Courtesy of David Cooke – AMP – DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

Want to Buy Rural Property? 6 Things to know before you buy!

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 9 Aug

Living in the country has extreme appeal for some people. Space, peace and quiet, big home, big yard, place to raise your family… the list goes on. If you are considering buying a rural home, there are a number of things to consider, not the least being how different it is to get a mortgage.

When lenders are considering your mortgage file it’s always about managing risk. Higher risk, higher rates. The risk that you’ll pay them back as agreed and they don’t have to seize the asset and sell it to recoup their investment.
• Mortgage lenders don’t really want to own your property, because foreclosing on your property means it will take time and effort to get the homeowner off the property, list it for sale, then actually get it sold where they can finally get (some of) their money back.
• With rural properties, depending on remoteness of location and condition of the property, it could take months to sell when compared to the quicker sale for a home in an city where there is much more demand.

Mortgage lenders don’t like waiting years to get their money back on a non-performing loan, so they have implemented special rules related to rural properties to reduce their risk.

A rural property, for most lenders and their home appraiser, includes only one house, the garage and 10 acres in the valuation, any additional buildings will not be considered. This policy applies to both conventional and insured mortgages.

Here are 6 things to think about before plunking down your hard-earned cash on a country home.

Hire a real estate agent knowledgeable about rural properties and local zoning laws. The names of the zones and the related details are determined by each local government so there may be variation between communities throughout each province.

Many lenders will not mortgage properties that are zoned agricultural.
• Why? Lenders are all about risk.
o If you buy a rural property and you default on your mortgage, the process of foreclosing on an agricultural property is very different and difficult for lenders. Taking a farm away from a farmer means taking their livelihood away, so the government has implemented many obstacles to prevent this.
• Provided you are not planning to grow crops or raise animals for sale, financing a home in the country can be similar to financing an urban home.

Water & Septic – In order to live in a house, you need to be able to drink the water and flush the toilet. In the country you need to take care of these yourself. When buying, if you are not on municipal water, your water will probably come from a well.
• Many lenders will ask for a potability and flow test for the well because a house without water is very hard to sell.
• Chances are your sewerage may be in a septic tank. You need to have the septic system inspected by a qualified septic inspector. At a minimum, ask the homeowner to agree to a warranty clause in the agreement that the system has been in good operating condition and it will remain that way until closing.
• Both the well equipment and septic system can be very expensive to repair or replace. Thus, when you buy in a rural location, be sure you include these with your conditions.

Land – most lenders will mortgage a house, one outbuilding and up to 10 acres of land, anything above this amount will not be considered in the mortgage.

Appraisal – Your lender will want to see an appraisal to ensure the value of your land. The appraised value may come in lower than expected, because rural properties do not turn over as quickly as city properties.
• Be prepared for the inspection to cost more than it cost you in the city, since the appraiser needs to travel farther to see the property.
• If you LOVE the place and have to have it, be ready to have to come up with the difference between the selling price and the appraised value of the property.

Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) – If there’s a wood stove or wood-burning fireplace, you make want to make your offer conditional on receiving a satisfactory WETT inspection report, which confirms the safeness and correct installation of the wood-burning unit.

Buy (or Check Into) Title Insurance – Many buyers don’t realize that farmland, particularly larger, more remote tracts of land, may have been used as a dump-site for toxic chemicals.
• Buying title insurance, or checking the title for the specific property, will let you know if the property has been listed as a toxic dump-site, or a hazardous waste site.
• Your insurance company may insist on a copy of title insurance before they agree to issue a policy.

House/Content/Fire insurance – Lenders want to ensure you have insurance in place to protect their investment. If you can’t get insurance – it has the potential to be a serious problem, since your mortgage company may not advance the closing funds.
• Living in the country is nice, however you are also far from fire hydrants and fire stations, you will pay more for home insurance.

Courtesy of Kelly Hudson – AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Richmond, BC.

The 3 Steps that take you from Pre-Approval to Your New Home

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 8 Aug

Picture this: You’ve finally been able to put away enough for a down-payment on your dream home. It’s taken you five years of diligent saving, but you did it! You have also been diligently working on improving your credit score and paying off debts and are at a place of financial stability. So, first of all, KUDOS TO YOU! Second…now what do you do? Here are the 3 steps that will take you from browsing new homes to getting the keys to your new place.

STEP 1: PRE-APPROVAL

This should actually be the step BEFORE house-hunting. Visiting your broker to get pre-approved is the first step anyone looking to buy a home should do. When you meet with your broker for the first time they will:

Have you fill out an application (or you might be able to fill out one online)
Pull your credit
Determine what your maximum purchase price will be.

Be aware that you will also be asked for additional information and documents when you visit your broker to apply, including a letter of employment/pay stub, down payment verification, 2 years notice of assessment, T4’s, a void cheque, and a number of other potential documents (click HERE to see our article outlining what you might be asked for).

Once you are pre-approved it’s house hunting time for you! The benefit to having this done BEFORE you start looking is that you can work with your realtor to find properties within that price range.

When you do find just the right home for you, it’s on to step 2…

STEP 2: APPROVAL

If you were able to provide the bulk of the paperwork for your pre-approval, then it will be smooth sailing from here! You may have to supply a few pieces of updated information (such as an updated paystub or bank statement) but otherwise it’s up to your mortgage broker and lender to do the hard work at this point.

Your application will be re-assessed, and the lender will take a look at the property you are purchasing. Once the lender confirms that the property aligns with their guidelines it is sent off to the mortgage default insurer for approval. At this point, make sure that you do not remove the financing condition until all the lender conditions are met.

Now that you have final sign-off and are waiting for the final conditions to be met, it’s on to step #3.

STEP 3: FINAL STEPS

Your broker will notify you once the conditions have all been met, and the lender will send the paperwork over to the lawyer’s office. The lawyer will take a few days to go through the mortgage and prepare it for your final sign off. When you go, you will be asked to present:

Void Cheque
2 forms of ID
Balance of the down payment in the form of a bank draft

On the day of funding, the lender will send the funds to the lawyer who sends them to the seller’s lawyer who upon receiving the funds will give you the all clear.

All that’s left is to hand you the keys to your new home!

As one final step, keep asking questions at each stage of the mortgage process. You should check in with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker if you have any questions along the way-they are happy to guide you through the process of not only getting a mortgage but also having a mortgage too!

Courtesy of Geoff Lee – AMP – DLC GLM Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC.

My First Home-Our House Magazine

General Darick Battaglia 2 Aug

We all remember our firsts. Our first day of school, our first bicycle and our first love. It’s no different for our first home. And I remember mine like it was yesterday.
I bought my first home shortly after turning 19 in the late 1980s. It was a single-family home in the River Springs neighborhood of Port Coquitlam B.C. I paid $83,600. I took advantage of a government program at the time that let me use my RRSPs to come up with part of the down payment. I also needed two roommates to help make the mortgage payments, so it ended up feeling a bit like a frat house. Being a typical starter property for the time, all the homes on the quiet cul-de-sac were like little Hobbit houses, scrunched together.
But I sure was proud of my little home. I kept my yard in great shape; the driveway was always swept, and I filled the house with plants and hosted dinner parties.
Even as a teenager, I couldn’t wait to buy my first home. Not only did I want to impress my mother, but I figured home ownership would give me a sense of independence and accomplishment.
A year later, I decided to sell. Not because I’d grown tired of the home, but prices had skyrocketed in the area. I sold the home for $113,000. Not too bad for one year. I figured the property value had risen so quickly, I was never going to make that kind of money again. The house today is probably worth 10 times what I originally paid.
I’m often asked, when is a good time to buy? We know the last few years, especially here in B.C. and in Southern Ontario, home prices have really taken off. And in recent months a cooling off period appears to have set in. Watching the markets closely can make a prospective buyer question the right time to jump into the market.
I’d say it was the best time 10 years ago, it’s the best time now and it will be the best time in 10 years from now.
I believe everyone should make an investment in their first home as soon as they possibly can.
You have to pay for shelter anyway, and home ownership is the best form of forced savings.
So if you decide to take the plunge into home ownership this year for the first time, enjoy it. I can tell you first hand, it’s something you’ll never forget.

Courtesy of Gary Mauris – Dominion Lending Centres – President and CEO – Dominion Lending Centres in Port Coquitlam, BC.