WHY WE CHOSE A MORTGAGE BROKER – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 11 Oct

Lindsay Austin and her husband never imagined they could get a home with a lakefront view. Their real estate journey began in 2012, when the couple purchased their first place, a townhome in Kelowna B.C. with the help of a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage broker. By 2017, they were ready for something bigger and better. So the couple reached out again to their mortgage broker, who was there to lend a hand. After months of searching, the couple found their home. A one-acre property just outside the city overlooking Okanagan Lake. They purchased the home for $618,000 and moved in just before the summer.
“It’s rural, a little out of town. It’s exactly what we need,” Austin said, noting her mortgage broker was patient and right by their side as they spent months searching for the right place.

Q: Why did you choose a mortgage broker?
A: We got connected with our broker in 2011. At the time, being our first home, we were financially lost. We were new to the market and my mom said reach out and try. And it just made the process so simple. She’s a one-stop-shop. She collects all of our information once, and I have this touch point and this person who I can trust. My brother and sister-in-law just went through the process, and they had appointments at all sorts of banks, and they sit down and do this and that, and then they do it again with another stranger. Our broker was able to get our information streamlined and out to all of the available lenders and get us the best rates and just simplify it for us. I think that was so key. She made the first process in 2012 so smooth and so easy for us. It wasn’t even a question that we would go with her again because it was so easy the first time.

Q: How was it working with a mortgage broker?
A: It was fantastic. I can say her customer service was so high, and she was always looking at every option. Even with the changes (to mortgage rules) in the last couple years, I’m sure mortgage brokers have had to learn a bunch of new things. She was such a good communicator, and it’s so easy having just one touch point.

Q: What advice would you give someone in your situation?
A: Ask lots of questions, and your mortgage broker will have all the answers. That’s their job and that’s why they make it so nice and easy. Ask lots of questions and be totally honest. Those, along with communication, and you’ll have a very pleasant experience.

Courtesy of JEREMY DEUTSCH – Communications Advisor

Rent, Own, or Do Both?

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 21 Sep

There are generally three different situations you can find yourself in when it comes to living situations; living with parents, renting, or owning.

A lot of the times the first decision someone will need to make is whether they buy a home to live in, buy a home to rent to someone else, or buy a home to live in while also renting out a portion of it. There are lots of pro’s and con’s to both. Below are some of the numbers and things to consider when looking at each of them.

Buying with The Intention to Rent
Buying a property for the purposes of renting it out to someone else comes with different qualifying criteria and different mortgage product options. The following are some of the important points to consider:

The minimum down payment required is 20% of the property price and this down payment must be from your own savings. It cannot be gifted from someone else.
Only a portion of the rental income can be used for the qualifying of how much of a mortgage you can afford to borrow. Some lenders only use 50% of the income and add it to yours. Others may look at taking 80% of the rental income and subtracting your expenses which can have a much higher impact on how much you can afford.
Interest rates usually have a premium on them when the mortgage is for a rental property compared to a mortgage being requested for a property someone plans on living in. This premium can be anywhere from 0.10% to 0.20% on a regular 5-year fixed rate.

The following is a typical scenario you can expect to qualify for in a rental situation:

$450,000 purchase price
$90,000 down payment (20%)
$360,000 mortgage
$1,665 monthly mortgage payment

$1,400 in monthly rental income
$66,500 a year in income
$0 month in consumer debt payments

Buying with The Intention to Own
Buying with the intention of living in the property as your primary residence is the most common and the guidelines are well known:

5% minimum down payment from own resources or from gifted funds coming from an immediate family member.
Insurance premium for having less than 20% as a down payment
Lowest interest rates available for high ration purchases of home becoming owner occupied (Loan-to-value of more than 80%)
If first time home buyers, you may be able to utilize grants and avoid property transfer taxes which you will not receive on the purchase of a rental.

The following is a typical scenario you can expect to qualify for in an owner-occupied situation:

$450,000 purchase price
$22,500 down payment (5%)
$444,600 mortgage
$2,039.63 monthly mortgage payment

$97,000 a year in income
$300 in monthly debt payments

Buying with The Intention of Both

Owner-occupied properties with a rental are really the best of both worlds. Only issue is, it needs to be a self-contained suite. Therefore, second bedrooms in town-homes or condos do not qualify. It is typically only detached homes with rental suites that are allowed but the rate premiums and minimum down payments fall under the owner-occupied side. Below is a typical scenario you could expect with this kind of purchase:

$1,000,000 purchase price
$100,000 down payment (10%)
$927,900 mortgage
$4,256 monthly mortgage payment

$1,200 in monthly rental income
$175,000 a year in income
$750 month in consumer debt payments

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

A CHIP Success Story

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 20 Sep

A few years ago, I met with my Home Equity Bank representative. He was trying to encourage me to go visit my financial adviser referral partners to offer the Chip Reverse Mortgage product. I explained that I did not know anyone who had a reverse mortgage so it was hard to promote to financial advisers or anyone.

I asked him to tell me a success story and he came back with a great one that ticked most of the boxes. A couple in their mid-70s had met with a financial adviser to go over their portfolio and financial situation. They wanted to sell some of their investments to get a little cash.

What the adviser saw troubled him. The couple had about $200 a month left over after they paid for their bills and groceries. What’s more , they were driving a 20-year-old car, their home needed repairs and they hadn’t been on a vacation in years. It was a classic case of house rich, cash poor.

The adviser contacted Home Equity Bank and they appraised the house. The couple were eligible for $200,000 based on the value of their home. They took this money and the adviser invested a little more than half in funds that would provide them with $1100 a month in income. They took $25,000 and bought a new car, did some repairs to their home and took a vacation. They took the balance and used it to help out their grandchildren with university with tuition. With one move, they were able to increase their cash flow, make their home more comfortable, do repairs, enjoy their retirement and help out family.

Now that it’s fall and the spring home-buying rush is over, perhaps it’s time for you Dominion Lending Centres mortgage brokers out there to see if you can help out another segment of the population.

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

First Time Mortgages: Expectations Vs. Reality

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 19 Sep

First-time homebuyers are one of our favourite clients! It’s great to work alongside them and teach them the in’s and out’s about real estate, owning a home, and helping them cross “homeownership” off their bucket list. One thing that we find though, their expectations are often not aligned with reality. We are always honest with our clients about the reality of the situation, but we thought it would be helpful to clear up a few of those “expectations”.

1. Expectation: They have enough saved for their down payment

Reality: This seems to be the first “shocking” point to many first-timers. It’s also one of the most heartbreaking ones to explain to them too. Many times, they have saved for several years and come in with what they think is a sizable down payment…but, in reality, it’s less than what is needed. They will often have their sights set on a home that is well out of their price range. They have also potentially failed to account for stress-testing measures. As a general rule of thumb, 5% is the minimum on a property with a purchase price of less than $500,000. However, 20% or more is the ideal in order to avoid your mortgage being classified as a high-ratio mortgage and require mortgage insurance.

2. Expectation: Once you have the down payment you are all set!

Reality: There are many different costs associated with moving, buying a home, and other fees that many first-time buyers may not be aware of. A few fees to consider include:

• Legal Fees
• Property Transfer Fees
• Moving Costs (moving van, moving crew)
• Appraisal fee
• Searches and Title Insurance
These will total approximately 1.5-2% of purchase price.

3. Expectation: Costs will stay the same when going from renting to owning a home.

Reality: This is not true in most cases. Many people forget to account for the day-to-day and general upkeep associated with home ownership. These can include repairs on the home, insurance, property taxes, extra utility costs, etc. This is why we always encourage first-time buyers to sit down and look at their budget and “practice” the strains and additional costs. This allows you to see if you are truly ready financially for home ownership and also alleviates stress down the road.

4.Expectation: We qualified for (blank) amount of dollars—let’s use all of it.

Reality: This is rarely a recommended or smart decision. Pick a price range that you are comfortable house shopping for that would allow you to accommodate things like home renovations, upgrades, and updates. Looking at homes that still fit your needs but may just need a little more work can significantly decrease the amount you are borrowing. If you are open to different options when house-hunting, you can save money in the long run.

These are just four examples of how a first-time mortgage holders’ expectation are rarely the reality. However, there are other areas that we find they may have questions in or not be aware of. The mortgage industry is one that is forever changing, and it can be difficult to stay on top of all of the changes!

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

Mortgage Switches and Transfers

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 13 Sep

Mortgage switches and transfers are becoming one of the more popular sources of revenue for certain lenders which means great incentives for borrowers as the banks and financial institutions fight for your business.

When your mortgage is up for renewal, your lender will typically send you a letter either 6-months or 120 days before your mortgage matures. When it is up for renewal and matures, you will need to commit to a new term and commit to a new interest rate. Most of the time, the bank’s offer is in the letter they send, and you circle your choice and mail it back; simple and quick.

But what happens when your lender isn’t offering you their lowest rate? Or is hoping you just circle one of the options and don’t look into the other options that are out there and available to you?

Most lenders will allow you to finance up to $3,000 back into your mortgage balance for legal fees, admin fees, and costs associate with moving from your current lender to them. With the move being cash free, you can take advantage of very low rates offered to new potential clients in order to win their business.

The mortgage amount (other than the $3,000 for costs) will need to remain the same though. When you change the mortgage amount, you are refinancing your mortgage, which moves you into a new category and changes the process as well as the different interest rates that are available to you.

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

The Real Estate Bug

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 11 Sep

The Real Estate Bug is something slowly starting to creep it’s way into the demographic of people in my social circle. Some, not all, are beginning to move on from their “Travel Bug” brought on from graduating high school or post-secondary and onto The Real Estate Bug.

The Real Estate Bug doesn’t mean you are out writing offers on homes, nor does it mean you are about to buy your 4th pre-sale. You might not even be able to buy for another two to three years. It is instead the simple feel of being excited about the idea of owning a home soon and preparing yourself to take that leap.

More and more, people are beginning to reach out to find out what they can afford. They may be three months into their job or five years into their job. Savings have just started, or they have enough to make a down payment in the next couple weeks. Whatever the situation, younger people are becoming more interested in real estate because they know their time to buy is fast approaching.

If you don’t believe me, have a look at the scenarios below. This will show you just how much income you’ll need to afford a typical 1-bedroom condo:

Scenario 1
$300,000 purchase price
$30,000 down payment
$278,370 mortgage

Income: $65,000/yr or $31.25/hr

Scenario 2
$385,000 purchase price
$38,500 down payment
$357,241.50 mortgage

Income: $80,000/yr or $38.46/hr

Scenario 3
$450,000 purchase price
$45,000 down payment
$417,555 mortgage

Income: $91,000/yr or $43.75/hr

Now some of you reading this might be shocked at some of the income numbers thinking “how the heck am I going to buy a place when I make half of what is required?” Let me ask you this… Are you renting with someone? What is their income? Are you in a relationship? Could two of you share a 1-bedroom? Could you afford a 2-bedroom and rent out a room to help with your mortgage? Are parents able to co-sign to supplement income?

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

Subject Free Offers; Still Risky!

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 7 Sep

The majority of my clients have stellar qualifications: established careers and businesses, excellent credit ratings, solid down payment funds, etc. They are truly awesome individuals who will almost certainly receive mortgage financing without a hitch.

Almost certainly.

With multiple offers, bidding wars, and over-asking-price bids now common as far afield from Vancouver proper as Port Coquitlam and beyond, clients find themselves, in the heat of the experience, contemplating a subject-free offer.

But there’s often an unanticipated hitch: the property itself.

A client would be hard pressed to find a Realtor to write an offer without a ‘subject to inspection‘clause, and for good reason. Similarly, a client should be hard pressed to find a Mortgage Broker advising an offer without a ‘subject to financing‘ clause.

This is because no banker or Broker can give a client 100% assurance of financing without factoring in the actual specific property details. Until an appraisal is reviewed and approved, the application is not complete. And there are some properties that some lenders simply will not lend against.

There are the obvious examples that lenders tend to exclude;

Properties containing Asbestos, Aluminium wiring, Underground Oil tanks
Re-mediated former grow-ops
Re-mediated drug labs.

There are also less obvious ones;

live-work units
row-homes (attached non-strata properties)
properties smaller than 450 sq ft
properties on lease land, Government, First Nations, or Private.

Regarding the appraisal process, there is more than simply the valuation question to be answered. In fact, valuation is rarely the challenge in our market, as many properties ‘auto-approve’ when the value is below $750,000. (This is not true of ALL properties below $750,000 by a long shot; many lenders condition all strata properties for instance for a full appraisal no matter the purchase price.)

What is being looked at other than value in the appraisal report?

A key complication is a little thing called ‘Remaining Economic Life or REL’ (as opposed to the ‘physical life’) of the home. This refers to how long this specific house is likely to remain standing on this property under the current care it is receiving.

Perhaps we have an otherwise perfectly habitable home for decades to come ─ lots of remaining ‘physical life’. The problem is that lenders are looking for remaining ECONOMIC life rather than the remaining physical life. The question is not “How long can that house be standing there?” it is “How long does it make economic sense for that house to be standing there given current market conditions?”

There may be a problem if it is located in a neighbourhood where many of the older homes are being purchased to be demolished and replaced with multimillion dollar homes. That leaves the purchase looking like a speculative land play or potential knock-down. As such, the remaining economic life is perhaps 15 years or less stated in the appraisal report.

Or maybe the property is a ramshackle house in a state of disrepair. It looks like the bargain of the age on paper, and perhaps the purchaser is a contractor planning to bring the home back into a wonderful state of repair. However the appraisal must view the current remaining economic life of the home ‘as-it-sits’ not ‘as-is-planned’. We have seen homes like this with REL as short as five years.

What is this ‘Remaining Economic Life’ exactly?

Economic life is the total period of time which the improvements (house/buildings) contribute to the overall property value. The total economic life of a typical Lower Mainland home is generally accepted to be 65 years. Economic life and physical life can differ widely and physical life usually exceeds economic life. Renovations and updates can increase a property’s physical and economic life, and poor maintenance can shorten it. Increases in land value can also have a negative impact on remaining economic life. As older homes are torn down to make way for new ones, it makes less economic sense to keep the older one standing.

REL is the estimated time period which the improvements continue to contribute to property value. An appraiser estimates REL in part by interpreting the economic conditions, attitudes and reactions of buyers in the market.

The REL is calculated by subtracting the Effective Age from the Total Economic Life.

Economic Life – Effective Age = Remaining Economic Life

For example:

A 40-year-old home that has had substantial renovations may have an effective age of 30 years.

65 years – 30 years = 35 years Remaining Economic Life (REL)

How lenders view Remaining Economic Life (REL)

Few lenders will lend on a home with a remaining REL of less than 15 years. Also, the effective amortization will be set at the REL minus five years, which drives payments sky high, and often leaves client unable to qualify for such large mortgage payments should they even want to sign on for them.

Clients can run the risk at this point of their own awesomeness being part of the undoing of the mortgage approval. Clients with significant liquid assets and strong incomes buying a smaller, older home on the street of newly built monoliths will be viewed as most likely planning to knock the home down and build a new one.

The immediate thought: ‘But the land value alone… ’

Lenders are not in the business of writing conventional AAA-rate mortgages on properties that will be torn down. Instead this is viewed as ‘speculative’ or ‘investment/business’ lending with which come undeniably greater risks. Wherever one finds greater profits there are greater risks. Lenders price accordingly, which is why land/construction financing carries higher rates and additional fees.

A property with a habitable home standing on it is unquestionably easier to market and sell ─ and thus recover the loan balance from ─ should the lender have to step in and take over. And foreclosure is the last thing any Canadian lender wants to contemplate.

It will take on average 18 months of no payments before a lender has gained control of and sold a property through the foreclosure process. And at the end of it said lender must seek out the defaulting client and write them a cheque for the remaining equity that was in the property, all the while honouring the original interest rate in most cases.

It is nothing like the US system at all. (which is a wonderful thing for us)

So lenders avoid any whisp of risk, preferring security. Ideally in the form of a habitable home on a lot that is going to look decades from now much as it does today.

Clients would be wise to also minimize risk, by either writing offers that contain a ‘subject to inspection’ and a ‘subject to financing’ clause, or by having a detailed conversation with a skilled Broker well in advance of writing a subject-free offer.

Courtesy of Dustan Woodhouse – AMP – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Coquitlam, BC

4 Mortgage Steps to Overcoming High Consumer Debt

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 6 Sep

Client success stories are what make our job WORTH IT (We think most mortgage brokers would agree). So, with this in mind, we are sharing a recent client’s story that allowed them to not only purchase the home they wanted, but also pay down their own debt.

Mortgage Problem:

We had a young couple with two young children come to us looking to buy a detached home with a rental suite. They had several thousand dollars of consumer debt they had yet to pay off, and very little funding for the down payment. The husband was employed, and his wife ran a small business from their home. Their combined income was average, but with their significant amount of debt they weren’t sure they would be able to buy their dream home.

A close friend recommended that they visit a mortgage broker, and instantly we were able to see how we could help them not only find the down payment funding, but also help them pay down their debt.

Mortgage Solution:

Step 1: By the numbers.
First up, we looked at the numbers we would be working with to make this happen.

Purchase price of dream home: $600,000
Requested Mortgage Amount: $570,000
Loan to Value: 95%
Credit Score: 699 and 768

Step 2: Collect documentation.
For this particular mortgage we collected:
● Lease agreements for two suites (loft and basement)
● Notice of assessment and T1 generals from the last two years
● Standard income documentation for full-time employment
● Confirmation of self-employment for the last two years

Step 3: Calculate the total debt services ratio.
We took the above numbers and worked with them to present a debt service ratio that started out as 47.74% and brought it down to 42.5%

Step 4: Share the mortgage solution!
The down payment was provided by the parents and the rental income from the subject property was used. All their remaining debts were paid with $25,000 cash back from the lender who also provided an interest only payment Line of Credit to cover both the mortgage and consumer debt.

Our clients were thrilled to be able to purchase their dream home and to have their consumer debt under control. We are proud to be able to help couples like this to make their dreams become a reality, and really, all it took was 4 simple steps to get them into their home!

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

Bridge Loans

Mortgage Tips Darick Battaglia 5 Sep

If you have ever sold your home in order to help with the purchase of your next home, chances are you have heard of bridge financing. Bridge financing is an option available to homeowners if they find themselves in a little bit of a pinch when it comes to two different completion dates.

A situation where a bridge loan or where bridge financing can be useful, is when you put an offer on a home you plan on buying with a completion date for the first of the month. However, in order to purchase this new home you need the money you’ll receive from the sale of your current home. What do you do if it closes at the end of the month, 30 days after you are supposed to pay someone for their home with these proceeds?

A lender can offer you bridge financing, where they will advance you your down payment as a separate loan for up to 30 days, some 90 days or more on exception. This allows you to close on the new property, pay the seller, and keep the contract to sell your place 30 days later where the proceeds from your sale will pay out the bridge loan instead of being used to pay the seller directly.

You will need to have accepted offers on both the property you plan on buying as well as the one you are selling with financing conditions removed as well as enough funds to cover the deposit. In some circumstances, you may be able to borrow the deposit from another source if that was also supposed to come from the proceeds of the sale of your current home.

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

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.