HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’RE READY TO BUY HOUSE?

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 12 Feb

Here are 7 signs that you’re ready to buy your first home…

1. You have saved enough for the down payment
Most people think the biggest hurdle to overcome when buying a house is saving up a down payment. You normally need to save at least 5% of the purchase price as a down payment. This down payment shows that you have some of your own money invested in the house which gives the lender some comfort that you will protect your investment. Having the ability to save money is a great first sign you might be a future homeowner.
2. You have good credit
Having perfect credit isn’t a requirement to get approved for a mortgage in Canada. However, if your credit score is at least 650, your odds of getting approved are much higher. If your score is at least 620, you may qualify for a mortgage with as low as a 5% down payment. Lenders look at more than just your credit score. If you have not missed a single missed payment in the past 12 months this is a great sign that you’re more likely to qualify.
3. You can afford the mortgage payment
The amount of home you qualify for is tied to your debt to income ratio. It’s typically recommended to keep you spend no higher than 35% of your monthly income on housing related expense (Mortage, property tax and heating). If you’re renting a home, chances are that your mortgage payment will be close to what you’re paying in rent. Use our calculator to find out what your mortgage payment will be and how much you can afford. How much house can you afford calculator
4. You have steady employment
If you have been in the same job with the same employer for at least 1 year, you’re financially stable enough to have a mortgage. Having steady employment history is a good indicator that you’re ready to buy a house.
5. You don’t plan on moving to a new city anytime soon
We all dream of living somewhere different. Buying a house is better financially than renting, but only if you plan on staying put for 3 years. If you don’t have any immediate plans on changing cities, then buying is a great option for you. There’s a chance that home you buy today will increase in value in a few years. Buying a home is a great investment.
6. You have kids, or kids on the way
If you already have children, you most likely want to settle down into a nice neighborhood. Kids don’t like moving away from their school and friends, so buying a home makes the most logical sense. If you don’t have kids this doesn’t mean you’re not ready to buy a home, not at all.
7. You’re tired of renting
Renting is financially exhausting. You are basically paying someone else mortgage payment. You’re hurting your bank account and helping theirs. You might want to spruce your place up but as a renter, what’s the point. If you feel the need/want to upgrade your home, now is the time to buy. You will feel proud and a sense of accomplishment taking care of and improving your home. So, get your DIY skills ready.

Courtesy of Chris Cabel – AMP – DLC HomeHow Mortgage based in Calgary, AB.

GET TO KNOW TITLE INSURANCE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 7 Feb

Are you officially Mortgage Free? CONGRATULATIONS! That is a monumental milestone to achieve!

With that significant accomplishment, you should look at obtaining a Title Insurance Policy. What most people don’t realize is that when you had a mortgage, the lender will likely have had this in place for you. Once your mortgage is paid out in full the insurance is no longer in place. It is crucial that once your final payment is made that you, as a home owner, now get a policy.

What is Title Insurance? Good question!

Title Insurance protects you, the homeowner. It’s not like traditional insurance in that it does not ONLY cover things that might happen, but it also covers things such as property defects that have already occurred in the past.

A title insurance homeowner policy will cover:

Forgery – If someone forges your signature on a registered document that entitles them to sell or mortgage your home.
Duty To Defend – If you experience title risk, the policy will cover the legal fees and costs associated with restoring and protecting your title.
Lack of Building Permits – Prior to purchasing the home, if there were renovations performed without the proper building permits you may be required to remove or fix the structure.
Fraud – If someone fraudulently transfers your property without your consent.
Encroachments – If a structure built by a previous owner is outside the property boundaries, or if a neighbour builds a structure that is on your property.
Title Insurance offers you peace of mind if anything should happen to your property once you are the owner. It is relatively low cost, on average coming in at $200-$400. It is a one-time purchase and does not need to be purchased each year. More than reasonable right?

If you are still on the fence about obtaining title insurance, we’ve recently had a client who experienced title fraud:

A woman went to her bank to make a payment on a line of credit that was secured by a mortgage on her property. When she arrived, she was told that her $30,000 line of credit had been paid in full and that according to the lawyer who sent the funds, her house had been sold.

This left her quite perplexed, so she followed up with the land registry office. They confirmed the sale of the property for $350,000 and that a new mortgage was registered on the property for $325,000. The woman was stunned to find out that she had been the victim of a title fraud scheme—and that the fraudsters had collected $350,000 on the deal.

Thankfully, in the above case the woman was covered by a Title Insurance Policy which fully covered all her legal fees to remove the mortgage from title and rightfully transfer it back to her. Having the coverage saved her approximately $12,000 in legal fees, time, and stress.

Your home is a sizable investment and one you worked hard to purchase! Title Insurance can protect you and your property should there be anything that comes up. For the $200-$400 it costs, we feel that’s a low-price tag for peace of mind. Ready to get a quote? Let us help you by contacting Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional to set up your Title Insurance Policy!

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

WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CONSIDERING A REFINANCE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 6 Feb

Many of my clients and friends regularly ask me when or if they should consider a refinance. Here are 4 quick questions that I ask of them. The answer they give me, will very quickly tell me if we should be taking a deeper look at the mortgage refinance options available to them.

What do you believe the current value of your home is and what is the outstanding balance on your mortgage?
Have you ever heard your mortgage broker or banker talk about “loan to value”(LTV)? They are looking to determine what your outstanding balance of your mortgage is as a percentage of your property value. The reason we look at your LTV is because there are limits in Canada with respect to how large your mortgage can be based on the current value of your home. This gives your mortgage broker insight into how much equity or money you have access in the event that you were to refinance your mortgage.

What is the maturity date of your mortgage and your current rate/term length?
Understanding who your current lender is, what your maturity date is, and what your rate/term details are, will help your mortgage broker determine what type of penalty you might have for breaking your current mortgage contract. Knowing your rate will also give them the details they require to calculate the interest savings that you would receive from a refinance. When looking to refinance, your mortgage broker should be factoring these potential costs and overall interest savings into their overall benefits analysis when trying to determine if refinancing is the right option for you.

How is your household monthly cash flow impacting your short and long term financial goals?
Budget, budget, budget… this is one of those tools that we all know we should do, but it often gets very little of our attention each month. By understanding how much net income you have coming in each month and where that cash is going (cash flow) we can look at how a restructured mortgage could help. If you are finding that all of your money is disappearing each month and you’re having trouble getting by, a new mortgage can help restructure your monthly debt payments giving you some added breathing room. It is important to note that sometimes it is not about debt payments and it can be about high household expenses. Taking the time to assess your spending and cutting it back if necessary, might be enough to get you back on track. Check out our blog post on basic budgeting tips and tricks.

Looking at your outstanding debt, what are the current interest rates that you are paying and are you only making the minimum payments each month?
A quick snap shot of your current debt load, respective interest rates and monthly payments can give us some insight into how a refinance can save you interest. By understanding what your financial picture looks like and the amount of interest that you are currently paying to service that current debt, we can very quickly estimate how much interest you could save with a refinance. If you take a number of those high interest rate credit cards and roll them into a new, low interest rate mortgage, the savings can very quickly become quite substantial.

In closing, a refinance is a financial tool that can make a significant difference in your current financial picture. If you have reviewed the questions above and would like to take a closer look at your situation, there is never a better time than the present to make a change that will have a positive impact on your future.

Take the time to have a conversation with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker who can give you some insight into how a new mortgage could help you with a brighter financial future.

Courtesy of Nathan Lawrence – AMP – DLC Lakehead Financial based in Thunder Bay, ON.

POSTPONEMENT & STANDSTILL AGREEMENTS. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 1 Feb

Multiple Lenders are typical

Borrowers often have to access funding from more than one lender, to finance their operational requirements. For example, an operating company might have a day-to-day operating lender. They may also have a senior secured lender, a subordinated lender, and any number of unsecured lenders.

Real estate owners or developers often secure project financing from various lenders, often for specific purposes. For example, a condominium developer may source construction financing for the bulk of their projected costs. They may also secure a secondary tranche of “mezzanine” financing. This typically fills the gap between debt and equity requirements, as referenced in our post entitled The Capital Stack. What You Need to Know.

Intercreditor Agreements

Where multiple lenders are involved, Intercreditor Agreements are required, setting out the relative rights and priorities between them. The key purpose being to set out what happens in the event of a borrower default.

Why is this important for commercial real estate owners? Your lenders need certainty as to their relative rights, in relation to the various circumstances which may arise over the course of the financing. And as a property owner, you too need to know what your obligations are. What lender actions or responses can be expected in various circumstances.

Postponement and Subordination
The main provisions in an InterCreditor Agreement involving a commercial real estate project are typically a Subordination and Postponement. Typically for a lender in top or senior position (i.e. the First Mortgagee) will require any junior lender(s) to acknowledge that they rank behind the prior lender’s security interest in the property.

By signing the Postponement provision, the junior lender is acknowledging that the prior lender (often the 1st Mortgagee) has the right to be repaid first. In other words, the junior lender is agreeing that it cannot be repaid on its loan, until the prior lender’s loan is repaid.

Standstill Agreement
Not only is a junior lender obligated to postpone their security, they are most often also restricted in taking action in the event of a borrower default, without the senior or prior lender’s approval. In other words, they need to “stand still” and await the prior lender’s actions. Why? In the case of borrower default, the prior lender (typically the 1st Mortgagee) wishes to be in complete control of the situation. They do not want the subsequent lenders to commence mortgage enforcement actions of their own.

Your Take-Away
The important take-away for commercial real estate owners is to understand that sourcing multiple lenders to provide financing for your project is not unusual. In so doing, your lenders will negotiate Postponement and Standstill Agreements between themselves, often requiring Borrower acknowledgement as well.

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

CREDIT UNIONS – AN ALTERNATIVE LENDER

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 31 Jan

Credit Unions are often overlooked as a choice for your mortgage lender – but there are reasons why considering a Credit Union might be well worth your while.

One of the primary attractions for Credit Unions is that they are regulated provincially, so they are not restricted by the Federal regulations that banks and monoline lenders have to adhere to*.

*When purchases have down payments of less than 20%, all mortgage loans are required to have mortgage default insurance and therefore are still subject to federal guidelines of CMHC and other insurers.

In most cases Credit Unions have the advantage of not being federally regulated which has implemented strict guidelines for loans that includes rules loan documentation, income documentation and tight debt services ratios (how much you can afford).

Mind The Gap

The gap between federal and provincial rules do allow credit unions to compete on some products the banks are unable to provide. Credit Unions are able to offer competitively low interest rates for files that a bank or monoline lender would not be able to fund. In many cases, these files would go to private lenders whose interest rates are sometimes double those of the credit unions’.

An additional benefit of Credit Unions is that they have the ability to share in the dividends with their clients – which can ultimately lower your effective mortgage rate because you are getting cash back.

The Drawbacks
There are some cons when dealing with a Credit Union…often they don’t offer mortgages outside their lending areas so if you are with a smaller Credit Union you may not be able to port your mortgage (bring your mortgage to a new property) if you decide to move. This is a very important consideration. Life situations do change, and if you have to move before your mortgage term is up, you run the risk of having to pay some hefty penalties.

You may also be obligated to open an account at the Credit Union and in some cases maintain a balance where the mortgage amount is withdrawn from, which is a possible deterrent for some people. There are often additional conditions they sometimes require in order to obtain their very best rates.

Another Reason to Contact Your Mortgage Broker
As always, my advice is to contact your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker – to discuss all mortgage lender choices and find a lender that is the right fit for your personal needs. As a source of experienced and unbiased information about all types of lenders, your broker is the gateway to your perfect home mortgage.

Courtesy of Eitan Pinksy – AMP – DLC Origin Mortgages based in Vancouver, BC.

PRE-APPROVALS & PRE-QUALIFICATIONS

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 30 Jan

Throughout the mortgage and home buying process, there are many steps and many checkpoints a buyer will need to complete before they can move on to the next one. A buyer will not be able to close on a purchase if they do not have a lawyer. Financing conditions need to be lifted after confirmation from a mortgage broker that a file is broker complete. A buyer should never write an offer on a home until they have a realtor working for them. Most importantly, a buyer should never be looking at property they are considering buying until they have been pre-qualified and pre-approved.

Now, one thing we need to make clear- pre-qualified and pre-approved are two different things. Pre-qualified is when someone completes a mortgage application with a mortgage broker or a bank representative and is told how much they can afford. Pre-approved is when someone has written confirmation from a lender stating they are willing to lend based on what is stated in an application and the applicant’s current credit history.

The difference?

Pre-qualifications are based solely on the knowledge and experience (sometimes even opinion) of a broker or bank rep. A pre-approval on the other hand is backed by the lender actually willing to give you the money. When someone says they are pre-qualified, that means they have taken an application with a mortgage broker or bank and in broker or bank rep’s opinion, they can afford “x” amount on a home. A pre-approval is a written letter from a lender stating based on applicants current credit history, declared income on application and current assets, we will lend “x” amount pending confirmation everything stated in the application is verifiable and the property meets all lender requirements.

As you can probably tell, one can be more reliable than the other, especially if you are working with a mortgage broker or bank rep that is inexperienced in the industry. Pre-approvals also usually come with a rate hold. What a rate hold does is guarantee you the interest rates that lender is offering today for a certain amount of time (usually 120 days), and if you put an offer on a place within that time period, they will give you that previous rate even if they went up. If rates go down, they will allow you to access the lower interest rate as well.

You must always get yourself pre-qualified before you begin looking at homes so you know what you can afford. Once you have and you are actively looking, it is very important you try and get a pre-approval before you write an offer. It will give you that extra confirmation your application is acceptable, and protect you against interest rate increases while you look.

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

7 THINGS EVERY SELF-EMPLOYED INDIVIDUAL SHOULD KNOW — BEFORE YOU APPLY FOR A MORTGAGE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 21 Jan

Self-employed individuals are quickly becoming one of the most common clients that we handle. Daily we have successful business owners come into our offices who enjoy the perks of being an entrepreneur. One of these includes fantastic write-offs that allow them to bring their income down to a low tax bracket.

However, this benefit can also mean that the same business owner may have a hard time qualifying for a mortgage all because their income is significantly reduced on paper… how frustrating ‘eh? But these savvy business owners know that there is advanced planning that is involved in being able to qualify for conventional financing. Back in 2015, Statistics Canada reported that there were about 2.7 million people self-employed in Canada… which is an astounding 14% of the total population of Canada! What does that stat mean? Two things:

1. That being self-employed is a more than viable way of earning income in today’s world.
2. That 14% may not fit into the conventional lending “box”

The Conventional Lending Box
To fit into this box, self-employed individuals must meet certain qualifications. For example, they must be able to provide:
>Two most recent years of personal tax returns
>Two most current years Notice of Assessments
>Two most current years financial statements
>Statement of Bank Account Activity
>Investment Income Statement
>Photo ID

Now, the one area that raises a red flag in the above is the tax returns. As we previously mentioned, their income claimed on the return itself might be significantly different than their actual income. Tax deductions related to business often reflect meals, rental spaces, credit card interest etc. The result is that the income the self-employed business owner shows on their tax return is a significantly lower figure than what their actual take home pay is. However, the conventional lending box requires income to justify the mortgage. So how do we pull this off?

The Unconventional Lending Box
Now please keep in mind that “unconventional” in this box just means that as a self-employed individua,l you are going to work with a Mortgage Broker to find an alternative to allow you to show that you can justify the mortgage. There are several well-known and consistently used pieces of advice that we would like to pass along to you:

1. If you are organized and planning (think 2 years out) you can plan to write off fewer expenses in the two years leading up to the property purchase. Yes, you will pay more personal taxes. However, your income will be higher, and it will be easier to qualify you for the mortgage amount you are seeking.
2. Set up your finances through a certified accountant. Many lenders want to see self-employed income submitted through a professional rather than doing it yourself. The truth is that the time you spend doing your own taxes will not be nearly as efficient both financially and time-wise as a professional. Make sure that you discuss with them what your goals are so that they can set up your taxes properly for you!
3. Choose your timing carefully. If you are leaving for an extended holiday within the two years before purchasing, your two-year average income may fluctuate. Plan your vacations and extended trips away with income in mind.
4. Consider using Stated Income. You have the option to state your income. This is based on you being in the same profession for 2+ years before being self-employed. The lender looks at the industry and researches the mean income of someone in that profession and with your experience. You will be required to provide additional documents such as bank statements, showing consistent deposits and other documentation may be asked of you to show your income.
5. Avoid Bankruptcy at all cost…. or if you do declare bankruptcy have all your discharge papers on hand to present to the lender and ensure you have two years of re-established your credit.
6. Mortgage Brokers can state income with lenders at the best discounted rates. But if you do not qualify with A lenders using stated income, then a broker will work with you to utilize a B Lender who are more lenient but may come with higher interest rates and applicable lending and broker fees.
7. Last but not least, if A or B lenders don’t fit, private financing can be looked at as an alternative option in order to get you into the market and offer a short-term solution to improve credit or top up your reporting income. Then you and your broker can refinance into an A or B lender at that time. Just keep in mind that private lending will have a higher rate associated with it , with lender and broker fees added on as well, if you choose to go with this option.

So, to all of our self-employed, hard-working, determined individuals, take heart! You can qualify for the mortgage you want, it just takes a little more planning to get everything in order. Keep in mind to that every lender has different guidelines as to how they view self-employment.

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

5 REASONS WHY REALTORS WANT YOU TO HAVE A PRE-APPROVAL

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 18 Jan

You’ve decided that you want to buy a home and you call up a realtor to show you a listing and the first question they ask is “ How much are you pre-approved for?” Many realtors will refuse to book home viewings until they can confirm that you are pre-approved. Why?

1- It shows that you are seriously committed to a home purchase. I have been told stories by realtors of people booking a series of homes to see and then being dropped off at McDonald’s to be picked up by another realtor to see some more homes.

2.- People have an idea of how much home they can afford. Sometimes this amount is way off. Lines of credit, installment plans, alimony or child support payments or high condo fees can make the amount of house you can afford a lot less than you would expect.

3- Surprises on your credit report. Many times home buyers haven’t checked their credit report before house hunting. An unpaid bill or a dispute with a contractor may result in a lien or collection showing on your credit. There may even be something from a person with a similar name. It’s important to make sure your credit is clean and that it is yours and not someone else’s.

4 –Income issues. A lot of people run out to get a new home when they receive a promotion at work. If the promotion includes a pay hike, is it salary or are they relying on overtime? Mortgage rules demand a two-year history for communion, overtime or self-employed income. This also can curtail how much you qualify for.

5A – Credibility of the realtor. When a realtor makes an offer on a home for you, they are not only investing their time and the listing agent’s time but their reputation. Making offers that will not result in a firm sale hurts their reputation in the industry. Trustworthiness and reputation are very important to realtors as they are guiding you in the largest purchase you make in your lifetime.

5B- Negotiating Strength. In a situation where there are competing offers on a property, the sellers agent will encourage the sells to take the offer that is backed by a pre-approval over another offer that does not have a pre-approval to support it. Your chances of getting your dream home are greatly increased with it.

My one recommendation is that you take the time to contact your favourite Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker and get pre-approved. It will save everyone time and help avoid disappointment for everyone.

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

2018 IS IN THE BOOKS, HERE ARE THE Q4 NUMBERS!

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 15 Jan

2018 was a challenging year for the housing and mortgage market—new regulations, rate increases and more made it one of the toughest years for homeowners to qualify. Despite all this, there was still $45.3 billion in collective profits made by the Big Six Banks (Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank and TD Bank).

Profits for the big banks were up an average of 13% over last year, however their stock prices were down across the board. Here’s the key points from each of the 6 major banks.

What can we expect in 2019? In general, the banks are forecasting increased mortgage growth, but there are also lowered expectations of Bank of Canada rate hikes this year which could impact net interest margins negatively.

From the Big Bank reports there were areas that stood out:

1. BMO: predictions of increasing 1-2 bps per quarter, dependent on certain moves and choices required to do so. Source: BMO conference call
2. CIBC: RESL growth has slowed, but they are predicting an increase in their mortgage portfolio in line with where we see the overall market growth trending. Source: CIBC Conference Call
3. National Bank of Canada: 2018 completed their repositioning of their distribution model translating to higher levels of mortgage originations and renewals. They saw a year over year increase in amortizing HELOCS due to consumers choosing to lock in their rates. Source: NBC Conference Call
4. RBC: Increase in mortgage portfolio of 5% year over year, with a growth in the range of 3-5% for 2019. They feel they have a strong renewal rate in comparison to other banks. HELOC products have shrunk for RBC as clients at renewal looking to lock in our residential mortgage. Source: RBC Conference Call
5. Scotiabank: expecting increased margins supported by higher interest rates. Residential mortgages are also expected to grow at mid-single digits in 2019. Source: Scotiabank Conference Call
6. TD Bank: mid-single digit growth for their proprietary total real estate secured lending portfolio in 2019. They are expecting a rate of growth a little bit lower in the first half, but mid-single digits for the full year. Source: TD Conference Call.

Do you still have questions regarding the 2019 Mortgage Market or the Q4 wrap-up? Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals are well versed in the in’s and out’s of the mortgage market and would be happy to walk you through the full details.

Stat Sources: https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2019/01/q4-2018-bank-earnings-mortgage-morsels/

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

A SHIFTING MARKET… AGAIN

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 14 Jan

The recent data sure has changed the tone of rates in the coming months.

The prime rate – what variable rates are based on, while a few short weeks ago was expected to rise three times in the next 18 months now with the data on the slowing of the market and uncertainty in projects moving forward as expected, there are signs increases could be delayed until next spring.

The bond market- what fixed rates are based on, has dropped, which means rates (after the banks have hung on as much as possible ) should come down slightly.

What does his mean for borrowers? Let’s break it down per segment

1- Home buyers – more affordability due to the recent dip in prices – pending price category anywhere from 10-30%. Remember, working with an unbiased mortgage professional we do a full look back upon closing to ensure the lowest cost of borrowing.

2. Home sellers – price sharp if you want to sell or else no point in being on the market.
3. Renewals rejoice – payment shock shall be reduced upon renewal.
4. Those carrying debt outside of a mortgage ex: credit cards, car payments, lines of credit – now is your time to see how much money moving that debt into a new restructured mortgage will improve your cash flow. It’s the most effective strategy for protecting your credit.
The most constant theme in everything above: The market is always changing, yesterday’s news is exactly that. Aligning yourself with the front line experts who will help you with clarity in the ever-changing market. This is why while experts can give you the data on the current market – it’s always subject to change. The decisions a borrower makes is their responsibility to adapt to.

Courtesy of Angela Calla – AMP – f DLC Angela Calla Mortgage Team based in Port Coquitlam, BC