ACCESSING YOUR HOME’S EQUITY TO INVEST

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 30 Apr

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!

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

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 26 Apr

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.

Courtesy of Terry Kilakos – AMP – North East Mortgages based in Ville Ste-Laurent, QC

THE FAMILY PLAN PROGRAM EXPLAINED

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 25 Apr

Genworth Canada, one of the three mortgage default insurers in Canada, offers a program called Family Plan. It provides you with a solution which only requires a 5% down payment to take advantage of its unique solutions to family problems.

In the past, I have used this with clients who want to purchase a home for their child or children who are going to a post-secondary educational institution in another city. Why pay high rent in residence or in a run-down over-priced rental property near the college when you can purchase a property? There are a number of advantages to owning the property your child is living in.

1- you control the maintenance and upkeep for the property ensuring a safe environment for your child.
2- You are allowed to purchase a property with 2 units – this allows you to collect rent and lower the total cost for you. You should be able to write off any renovations or improvements you make to the property- check with your accountant first.
3- when your child graduates you can sell the property for a profit , helping you to recover some of the costs for your child’s education.

Elderly Parents
If you want to find a safe and comfortable place for your parents to live, buying a property such as a condominium apartment or town home may be a solution for you. Often parents are retired on fixed income and can’t get a mortgage . Now you can help.

Providing a Home for an Adult Entrepreneur
So your adult child has decided to start their own business and they want a home. The problem is that you need to show 2 years of successful business financials to prove you can afford mortgage payments. This program allows parents to provide a home for their child right now. An exit strategy can be for them to take over the mortgage payments and then get the next mortgage term in their own name a few years down the road.
As you can see, Genworth’s Family Plan is a very useful program that can help out in a number of different situations. Let’s face it families are unique and we need programs like this to provide solutions to our problems and challenges.

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

STOP THE AGEIST STEREOTYPE

General Darick Battaglia 24 Apr

As a society, we are continually evolving in our acceptance of past stigmas. But while we are evolving, why is ageism still so prominent and accepted. And what can we do to shine a light on this issue?

Overrepresentation of an underrepresented cohort

A recent research study with Brainsights reveals that many of us don’t know how to properly address the Canadian 55+ demographic. In fact, since only 6% of the advertising workforce is 50+, this cohort is highly misinterpreted causing many people to completely miss the mark when advertising or communicating with them. But why is this important? Firstly, this demographic is continuing to grow and is now the largest demographic in Canada (with 11 million Canadians falling into this segment), secondly a Yale University research found that older people with positive perceptions of aging lived seven-and-a-half years longer than those with negative perceptions. Knowing how to properly engage with Canadians 55+ not only make us feel better about aging ourselves, it can also help us live longer.

We’ve heard you loud and clear

Brainsights, in partnership with HomeEquity Bank, analyzed the brain activity of more than 300 Canadians, with an equal split between Canadians under 55 and over 55. These individuals were then showed 117 pieces of video content, including ads targeted at Canadians 55+, news clips, movie trailers etc. Their brain waves were recorded, measuring levels of attention, emotional resonance, connection and encoding.
This research reveals four key actions we can all take to bust the age bias.

1) Old Age Stereotypes alienate Canadians 55+
The media portrays Canadians 55+ as frail and helpless. The reality is, Canadians are living longer and healthier lives than ever before, and Canadians over the age of 55 are just as lively and adventurous as someone in their 30s. We all need to start viewing this cohort as vibrant, educated and enthusiastic.
2) Don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia
Many of the communications targeted at the Canadian 55+ demographic tend to focus on what lies ahead. But research shows that nostalgia can be very powerful especially for Canadians 55+. In fact, ads tagged with nostalgia as a theme worked well overall for the 55+ segment, driving 11% greater attention, 9% greater emotional connection, and was 13% more memorable than the average. Canadians 55+ may be experiencing anxiety or stress of not knowing what lies ahead, but nostalgia can give a sense of comfort by providing certainty and familiarity.
3) Positive recollection
Canadians 55+ have an inherent desire to leave the world in a better place, and they do so through the transfer of knowledge to their children. Leaving a legacy for future generations leads to a 27% increase in attention, 42% increase in connection and 31% increase in encoding. Canadians 55+ like to feel like they made a difference in the world and specifically in the knowledge they leave behind to their children. It’s this type of content that they connect best with.
4) Digestible chunks can go a long way

Science proves that as we age, we require more cognitive resources to process information. So, while the 55+ group likes information, it needs to be presented in smaller chunks. This may require multiple conversations or giving older Canadians time to digest what they heard. Sometimes written in an email can be better than spoken on the phone, since it provides time to review and digest the message.

In summary
By measuring the brain waves of both Canadians over and under 55, we now understand how we can all improve the way we communicate. Through this research study, HomeEquity Bank has also raised awareness to emphasize the prevalence of ageism and that Canadians are not just looking to retire in silence, but rather, retirement is a time to live a vibrant and active lifestyle in the home they love!

Why this matters to us
HomeEquity Bank is a proud partner of Dominion Lending Centres. As a 100% Canadian company working for aging Canadians, HomeEquity Bank has been in business for over 30 years as advocates for the Canadian 55+ demographic. They have been working to not only help empower the 55+ demographic, but they are always at the forefront of pushing back against stereotypes of aging. They are passionate about our aging demographic and what is needed in order to live a well-deserved retirement. It is through this, that they commissioned this research with Brainsights to further understand our aging demographic.
HomeEquity Bank is a proud partner of CARP, a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of Canadians as we age. Under this partnership, HomeEquity Bank is now officially endorsed and recommended by CARP as a trusted financial solution during your retirement years. As a special offer, CARP members can receive a cash rebate of up to $250 on a home appraisal. Contact your DLC mortgage broker to find out more about this special offer.

Courtesy of Sue Pimento
HomeEquity Bank – Vice President, Referred Sales, Eastern Canada

SPRING IS HERE, MAKE SURE YOU’RE COVERED BY FLOOD INSURANCE

General Darick Battaglia 18 Apr

The sun is coming out, and the snow is disappearing. You know what that means: it’s flood season.

And because flood season is upon us, it’s time to make sure you’re covered.

What you need to do is ask specific questions. When you call your insurance company, you should say ‘I want to know, do I have flood insurance, yes or no?’ And if the answer is yes, then ask ‘To what am I covered? How much am I covered?

It’s also important for you to ask for details on what is covered by your insurance plan. Things like whether acts of God or sewer backups are covered are important to know. Otherwise, you’re going to end up in a situation where a flood—knock on wood—and you’re not going to be covered.

There are also online resources that can give you an idea not just of what to do if there’s a flood, but where in your area may be prone to flooding.
You can look at provincial government websites, there’s a whole bunch of different places where you can go and get information about flood zones, and what you can do, and how to better prepare yourself and get yourself educated.
These government website often also offers advice on what to do to prepare yourself for flooding, as well as what to do once a flood has arrived.

We do more than just mortgages. We have a team that gets you from start to finish when purchasing your home—and this includes insurance.

Courtesy of Terry Kilakos – AMP – North East Mortgages based in Ville Ste-Laurent, QC

FLAT YIELD CURVE. BEST NEWS, OR BORROWER BEWARE?

General Darick Battaglia 17 Apr

A Flat Yield Curve
In our post entitled A Flat Yield Curve, we discussed the implications of a flat yield curve. At the time of the post, early summer 2018, rates were rising. The reverse seems now to be true, with rates recently softening, however the results are similar, a flat yield curve.

Typically a yield curve (returns one could expect on Government debt instruments) is positively sloped. That is to say that longer term yields, and by extension interest rates, are higher than shorter term yields and rates.

Why is this so?
Why? In simple terms, investors tying up their funds for an extended period, take on an extra element of risk, vs. short term investors. The risk is the uncertainty facing an investor. Economic conditions, namely monetary policy, inflation, and the general state of both the global and national economy, are difficult to predict in the short term, let alone for a period of years into the future. The result is a higher yield typically available to an investor for a longer term. Hence, a positive sloping yield curve.

At times over the past decade, the gap between short and long term yields have pushed as high as four percentage points, or 400 basis points in investment speak. Earlier this week, the difference was hovering around 10 basis points. Flat as a pancake.

What are the implications?
What are the implications of a flat yield curve, or even an inverted one (where long term yields dip below short term yields)? Quite possibly nothing at all, however inverted yield curves have historically occurred right before every single North American economic recession. Do they predict recessions, or do they simply accompany recessions? The jury is still out on that.

What are the implications for borrowers? Again, it likely depends on your investment strategy. If you are a buy and hold investor, perhaps consider going long with your debt. In absolute terms, rates are low by historical measures. You will not be penalized at today’s rate levels, for seeking a longer term for your debt.

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

INCOME QUALIFIED

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 9 Apr

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.

Courtesy of Ryan Oake – AMP – DLC Producers West Financial based in Langley, BC.

SOURCE OF FUNDS

General Darick Battaglia 5 Apr

Over the past several years, investigators have been working on an ongoing investigation relating to criminal money laundering in Canada. Looking at B.C. alone, billions of dollars have been laundered through B.C. casinos by criminal organizations and parked in high end B.C. real estate over the past decade or more.

With government citing limited resources and a lack of funds available to conduct a proper investigation, criminals have been able to manipulate and take advantage of the Canadian and B.C. legal system for years and it is now finally coming to light the impact it has had on our economy, most notably our real estate market.

One of the measures the government implemented several years ago to help crack down on this was sourcing the funds people were using for the down payment on their home purchases. Lenders are required by the federal and provincial government to collect a minimum of 30 days of transaction history for every bank account where money comes from to help complete a purchase on real estate. Most lenders are still requiring 90 days and they are also required, by the government, to source any large deposits above $1,000 that are unrelated to employment income.

If you have e-transfers and transfers between your own accounts within the 90 day period, the lender will require a 90 day history of the account in which funds were deposited from. That means, if you have a savings account reserved just for a down payment, but you put $1,000 a month in there from your chequing account, brought in $5,000 from a TFSA, and put in $3,000 in cash all before you wrote an offer on a home, a lender is going to want to see 90 day history of your savings, your chequing, and your TFSA account as well as an explanation on where the $3,000 cash came from.

Most people find this frustrating and rightfully so, you are handing over personal information over a long period of time. However, due to the extreme affect money laundering has had on our economy, these rules are likely not going anywhere. When preparing your down payment, be prepared that the lender will be required to collect a 90 day history of every account you have where money is coming from to help cover your down payment. This is not because the lender feels like it, this is because the government regulators who review the loans the banks give out need to see that the lender verified the money was legitimate.

Also, with your T4’s and Notice of Assessments usually going into lenders, if you are just starting a new job and were making $20,000 a year while in school and now have $150,000 in savings for your down payment a year out of school, the lender is allowed to ask for a full year history because your income does not justify the savings you have.

Be prepared! Lenders are required to source down payment funds and with more and more news coming out every month on money laundering, the rules may only get more rigid.

Courtesy of Ryan Oake – AMP – DLC Producers West Financial based in Langley, BC

7 STEPS TO BUYING A HOME

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 4 Apr

It’s important to understand the home buying process, so here’s a 7-step checklist.

Step 1: Down Payment
The hardest part to buying a home is saving the down payment (a gift from the Bank of Mom & Dad also works).
• For purchases under $500,000 minimum down payment is 5%.
• Buying between $501-999,000 you need 5% on first $500,000-PLUS 10% down payment for anything over $500,000.
• Buying a home over $1 million you need 20% down payment.

For any home purchases with less than 20% down payment, you are also required to purchase Mortgage Default Insurance.

Step 2: Strategize, Define Your Budget and get Pre-Qualified
Unless you can afford to buy a home, cash in hand, you are going to need a mortgage.
You need to get pre-qualified, which should not be confused with the term pre-approved.
The big difference is that no approval is ever given by a lender until they have an opportunity to examine the property that you wish to purchase. The bank may love you… but they also must love the property you want to buy.
Pre-qualifying will focus on gathering documentation to prove the information on your mortgage application including credit, debt load, income/employment, down payment etc.

Mortgage brokers will make sure you get a great mortgage rate. Just as important as rates are the terms of your mortgage which should include:
• prepayment options (10-20%)
• penalties
• portability
We also discuss what type of mortgage fits your current situation
• fixed vs variable?
• life of the mortgage (amortization) 25 or 30 years etc.
• payments – monthly, semi monthly, accelerated bi-weekly

Step 3: Set Your Budget
Keep in mind that just because you’re pre-qualified for a certain amount of mortgage, doesn’t mean you can actually afford that amount. Prepare your own monthly budget to be sure.
Typically, your total home payments (including mortgage, property taxes, strata fees & heat) should not exceed 32-39% of your gross (pre-tax) income.

Step 4: Find the Right Property – Time to Engage a Realtor
Once you have been prequalified for a mortgage, based on your budget… you need to find a realtor.
Selecting the right real estate agent is a very important step in the home buying process. When you work with an agent, you can expect them to help you with many things, including:
· Finding a home
· Scheduling tours of homes
· Researching the market, neighbourhood and home itself
· Making and negotiating your offer to purchase, and counter-offers
· Providing expert advice on home buying
· Handling the offer, gathering documentation and closing paperwork
I recommend interviewing at least three realtors. You will quickly decide who has your best interests in mind. Do you want to deal directly with a realtor who’s going to work with directly when you go home hunting, or do you want to deal with a BIG name realtor, who has buyers & sellers realtors working under them? There are advantages to each – you need to decide what is the best fit for your situation.
Get referrals for realtors from friends and family… OR ask me, I have a group of realtors that I know and trust.

Step 5: Mortgage Approval
Once you have found the property you would like to call home, your mortgage broker will send your mortgage application and property information to the lender who is the best fit for your situation, based on your input.
If the lender likes your financial situation and the property, they will issue a “commitment” letter outlining the terms of the mortgage. The lender will send you a list of documents, so they can verify and validate all the information you told them on the mortgage application.

Step 6: Time for the Solicitor (Lawyer or Notary)
Once the lender has reviewed and approved all your mortgage documentation and the property documentation, your file will be sent to your solicitor (in B.C. you can use a lawyer or notary). They will process all the necessary title changes and set up a time for you to meet, review mortgage documents and sign.

Step 7: Get the Keys
On the closing day the documentation for your home purchase will be filed at the land titles office by your solicitor. Typically, the possession date is 1 or 2 days later, giving time for the money (down payment & mortgage) to get to the home seller. On possession day you set up a time to meet with your realtor to get the keys.
Congratulations you’re done – you now own your home!!

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be!

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

WE’RE NOT JUST A MORTGAGE COMPANY

General Darick Battaglia 2 Apr

Well, it finally happened. I was meeting with a financial advisor today and they looked at my business card and asked “Why does it say Dominion Lending Centres and not Dominion Mortgage Company?”

I have been waiting 7 years to hear this question. I had an answer all ready for today. I said “that’s because we are not just a mortgage company, we’re a lending company. This provided me with a segue into a conversation about how we do equipment leasing, factoring and cash advances.

I meet plenty of small business owners who are trying to build their business and also buy a home. In one case, the business owner had opened a machine shop. He bought $100,000 or more of equipment. As he did not have a long established business, lenders insisted that he put the loans in his own name. As a result, he had lots of business loans outstanding and was still showing little income. As he had incorporated, we were able to free up his credit by having DLC Leasing purchase the equipment and he leased it back. This provided a good tax break his accountant liked and it freed up his personal credit, which I liked.

Long story short , Dominion Lending Centres is a small/ medium business owners best friend.
We can help you get into a house where other companies see obstacles. If you are in a situation like this, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional and get some help.

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