10 May

The Rate Debate.

General

Posted by: Tessa Parascak

The Rate Debate.

One of the first questions that potential buyers want answered is: “What is your interest rate?”

It is easy to think that this is the most important question, but there is a lot more to your mortgage contract than just the rate. And so, the rate debate continues!

The rate debate is a hot topic in the mortgage world. Not just the rates itself, but the importance of the rate versus other factors in the mortgage – such as terms and penalties. As a borrower, it can be easy to get caught up in one thing but, if you’re not paying close attention, ignoring other factors could cost you in the long run.

Before we get into these other factors, let’s talk rate. While not the only factor, it does continue to be an important decision criteria with any mortgage product. The interest rate is the percentage of interest you are paying on the principal loan; lower interest rates means more money to the mortgage and who doesn’t want that?

VARIABLE VS. FIXED

There are two types of mortgage rates: variable-rate and fixed-rate. A fixed-rate is just that – a fixed amount of interest that you would pay for the term of the mortgage. A variable-rate, on the other hand, is based off of the current Prime Rate, and can fluctuate depending on the markets.

Fixed rates are typically tied to the world economy where the variable rate is linked to the Canadian economy. When the economy is stable, variable rates will remain low to stimulate buying.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage: First-time homebuyers and experienced homebuyers typically love the stability of a fixed rate when just entering the mortgage space. The pros of this type of mortgage are that your payments don’t change throughout the life of the term. However, should the Prime Rate drop, you won’t be able to take advantage of potential interest savings.

Variable-Rate Mortgage: As mentioned, variable-rate mortgages are based on the Prime Rate in Canada. This means that the amount of interest you pay on your mortgage could go up or down, depending on the Prime. When considering a variable-rate mortgage, some individuals will set standard payments (based on the same mortgage at a fixed-rate), this means that should Prime drop and interest rates lower, they are paying more to the principal as opposed to paying interest. If the rates go up, they simply pay more interest instead of direct to the principal loan. Other variable-rate mortgage holders will simply allow their payments to drop with Prime Rate decreases, or increase should the rate go up. Depending on your income and financial stability, this could be a great option to take advantage of market fluctuations.

BEYOND RATES

When considering your mortgage, other considerations such as penalties can be important factors for deciding on a mortgage product. If you have two competing products, say 1.65% interest fixed-rate and a 1.95% interest variable-rate, it seems as though it is a pretty easy decision. But, what about the ability to make extra payments? And what are the penalties?

It is easy to think that nothing will change throughout your 5-year mortgage term, so you probably haven’t even considered the penalties. However, when looking at the fixed versus variable rate mortgage, penalties can be quite different. Where variable rates typically charge three-years interest, a fixed rate mortgage uses an Interest Rate Differential (IRD) calculation.

Given that nearly 70% of fixed mortgages are broken before the term ends, this is an important variable. Fixed-rate mortgages are typically okay when the penalty is your contract rate versus the Benchmark rate. However, when penalties are based on the Benchmark rate (sometimes called the Bank of Canada rate), it is typically much higher than your contract rate, resulting in greater penalties.

In some cases, penalties for breaking a fixed mortgage can sometimes be two or three times higher than that of a variable-rate. While the interest rate is lower, lower penalties are sometimes best should anything happen down the line.

CONVENTIONAL VS. HIGH-RATIO MORTGAGE

Another consideration beyond just the interest rate, is whether or not you will be obtaining a conventional or a high-ratio mortgage. Whenever possible, it is recommended to put 20 percent down payment on a new home. This results in a conventional mortgage. However, as not everyone is able to do this, many buyers will end up with a high-ratio mortgage product.

So, what does this mean?

High-ratio mortgages need to be insured by either Genworth Financial, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), or Canada Guaranty. This is due to the Bank Act, which will only allow financial institutions to lend up to 80 percent of the homes purchase price WITHOUT mortgage default insurance. Insurance on the mortgage is important to protect the lender should you default on your payments, leaving the insurer to deal with the borrower.

The difference between conventional and high-ratio mortgages is that high-ratio mortgages require insurance, which results in an insurance premium. This is added to and paid along with the mortgage, but is an important factor when considering your monthly payments. These premiums are based on the loan to value (LTV), which is the amount of the loan versus the value of your home.

All high-ratio mortgages are regulated to have mortgage insurance, but some homeowners with a conventional mortgage may choose to pay for mortgage insurance to get a better rate.

SMART QUESTIONS TO ASK

To ensure you understand your mortgage contract, and how it could affect you now and in the future, we have compiled a few smart questions to ask before you sign.

  1. What is my interest rate? Can I qualify for a better one?
  2. Do you recommend fixed or variable-rate?
  3. What are the penalties for breaking my mortgage?
  4. Are there any pre-payment penalties?
  5. Will I require mortgage insurance? If so, what are the premiums?
  6. What will my monthly payment be?
  7. Is my mortgage portable?

These are just a few examples of good questions to ask. It is important to do your own research and be diligent with any contract you are signing. Contacting a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker today can help ensure you understand what you are agreeing to, and that you are getting the best mortgage product for you!

Written By My DLC Marketing Team.

25 Mar

The Credit Challenge.

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Tessa Parascak

The Credit Challenge.

For most people, credit score isn’t something you spend much time thinking about. Especially if you are someone who is making good money and paying all your bills on time. When you are in that boat, it feels pretty good! But, when you miss a payment or you struggle to pay all those credit cards, lines of credit and even your mortgage, it can feel like a sinking ship.

This is especially true if you’re credit challenged, but are looking to get into the housing market. Improving your credit is the best first step to getting a lender to give you a chance and fortunately, it is very doable!

why does credit score matter?

The reason your credit score is so important is because it tells lenders the basic story surrounding your credit. It essentially indicates whether or not you are a “good investment” by relaying how long you’ve had credit, your ability to pay back that credit and how much you currently owe. Your credit score is affected by how much debt you’re carrying in relation to limits, how many cards or tradelines you have and your history of repayment.

If you are considering getting your first mortgage, keep in mind that a credit score above 680 puts you in a good position to get financing, while a score below that will make it tough and improvement is needed.

CREDIT REPORTS

To ensure your credit score remains in good form, it is important to take a hard look at your credit report and review your credit score for any old or incorrect information. If you find any errors, contact Equifax to have them corrected or removed. Another big factor includes paying off any collections (such as parking tickets or overdue bills).

CONSIDER THE 2-2-2 RULE

If you’re a young person and new to the world of credit, consider the 2-2-2 rule to help build up your credit. Lenders typically like to see 2 forms of revolving credit (i.e. credit cards) with a limit of no less than $2,000 and a clean history of payment for 2 years.

It is important to note, a great credit score means keeping a balance on all those cards at any given time, below 30 percent of the overall limit. For a card with a limit of $2,000, this means having no more than $600 of it in use. It is also a good idea to check if your credit card requires an annual fee and make sure you are paying that off too.

If you’ve been advised to get a couple credit cards but have locked them in a vault where only a sorcerer’s spell can access them, you’re going down the wrong path. The goal is not just to have credit but to show potential lenders that you know how to use it responsibly!

rock bottom credit

When things get really bad, there is a tendency for clients to consider declaring bankruptcy or a consumer proposal. Bankruptcy is a legal process where an individual or entity can seek relief from some or all of their debts when unable to repay them. A consumer proposal is a formal, legally binding process to pay creditors a percentage of what is owed to them.

The truth is, it is best to avoid these two options. Instead, there are companies out there that will perform the same function with regards to negotiating your debts – but it won’t impact your credit or carry the stigma of bankruptcy or a consumer proposal.

CONSIDER REFINANCING

If you already own a home and have some equity, but you are still drowning in credit debt, consider refinancing your mortgage. While you might not get the same great rate you have now, or might get dinged for breaking your mortgage early, using the equity in your home can be a great way to get rid of high-interest credit card payments and consolidate debt to keep more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

keeping your score in-tact

Once you have your credit score where you want it, it is important to maintain that score. You can do this by ensuring you never use more than 30% of your available credit and that you pay your bills each month, and on time. Even if you can only pay the minimum amount due, it is important to be making those payments and recognizing the requirements.

Written by my DLC Marketing Team

22 Feb

5 Reasons to Invest in a Home Inspection.

General

Posted by: Tessa Parascak

5 Reasons to Invest in a Home Inspection.

While home inspections might not be the most exciting part of your home buying journey, they are extremely important and can save you money and a major headache in the long run.

In a competitive housing market, there can sometimes be pressure to make an offer right away without conditions. However, no matter how competitive a market may be, you should never skip out on things designed for buyer protection – such as a home inspection.

You may have a good eye for décor and love the layout of your potential new home, but what is under the surface is typically where headaches can lie. We have all heard the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover” so why would you make the most important purchase in your life without checking it out?

In fact, there are five reasons that a home inspection might just be the best $300-$500 you ever spend.

it provides an “out”

When buying a new house, it is always best to avoid taking chances. While a house may look great on the surface, hidden structural issues such as cracked foundation or roof damage can easily turn into expensive repairs. A home inspection can help reveal any large and/or hidden issues, which can often provide an ‘out’ for the buyer.

If you find something that will cost a considerable amount to replace or repair you can go back to the seller’s agent and ask for a reduction in the price. A leaky roof may cost a few thousand to replace. Perhaps the seller would split the cost with you? It’s worth asking. If the price cannot be re-negotiated if issues come to light, then it is best to just walk away on the basis that the home will cost you too much in the long run.

confirms safety and structural integrity

Another benefit of having a home inspection is not only to find issues, but also to confirm structural integrity. During an inspection, the inspector will review everything from the attic to the furthest reaches of the basement and will look for things like mold, holes in the chimney, saggy beams or improper wiring.

reveal illegal additions or installations

Similarly to determining any safety and structural issues, home inspections can also reveal hidden additions or DIY installations that may cause trouble down the road. If the seller wired the house improperly or used substandard materials, it not only could cost you big in the future but it could even null and void your home insurance should something happen!

forecast future costs

A home is an ongoing expense, much like a car. Unless it is brand new, there will be regular maintenance and updates required to replace things when they become old and inefficient. For instance, water heaters typically last for 6-10 years, the life of a good roof is around 20 years, while furnaces can last up to 25 years. The home inspection report will include an estimate on the remaining life for each of these big-ticket items, which will give you a heads up on future expected costs and provide you time to save for their eventual replacement.

peace of mind

Finally and perhaps most importantly, getting a home inspection is important for your own peace of mind. A home is a huge investment, and one that you will be paying off for 20 or 30 years. It is much easier to feel good about your investment after you have gone through a home inspection and you know that the house is safe and that you won’t run into any surprise problems down the road. While a home inspection isn’t free, peace of mind is priceless and a few hundred bucks is worth it!

Written by My DLC Marketing Team.

25 Jan

Renting Vs. Buying: What You Need to Know!

General

Posted by: Tessa Parascak

Renting Vs. Buying: What You Need to Know!

When it comes to the Canadian housing market, there are lots of options for where to live! From renting an apartment to owning a single-family home, it all comes down to where you see yourself living and what you can afford! The beauty is, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to renting versus buying but let’s break down the pros and cons of both and hopefully help you to decide which is best for you!

why do people rent?

One of the most common answers to this question is affordability. Most people rent because they believe it is cheaper than owning a home. This can be true in some cases, but there are also times when monthly rent costs are higher than monthly mortgage payments. Of course, there are also cases where rent is far more affordable than buying, especially when you factor in the cost of a down payment and maintenance on a home you own, rather than one you rent. Affordability is fairly dependent on an individual’s situation, but it is not the only decision factor for choosing to rent.

Another reason individuals may choose to rent is that they simply aren’t sure where they want to live, or maybe they cannot find a place that fits their needs. If you are new to an area, you may want to rent in the meantime so you can get to know the neighbourhoods and determine which area is the right fit for you. In some cases, you simply may be unable to find a home that is affordable to buy in the area you want or within a reasonable commute from your work.

For individuals who travel a lot for work or like to be free-floating, renting can be the perfect option but if you simply believe buying a home to be out of the question, it is time to take a hard look at your options because it may not be so far fetched!

pros and cons of renting:

To help you decide if renting is right for you, we have put together a little list of pros versus cons to help you see if it is the right fit.

Pros of Renting Cons of Renting
Less maintenance
Fewer repairs
Lower upfront costs
Short-term commitment for people unsure of where they want to plant roots
Protection from potential decrease in property values
Monthly payments may increase
Potential for being evicted / lease renewal not being approved
Paying to someone else’s mortgage instead of building your own equity
Requiring permission to paint or remodel

why do people buy?

According to the most recent data, Canada boasts an overall homeownership rate of 67.8%. Even for those Canadians aged 35 and under, more than 40% of households own their own homes. This is quite an impressive statistic! So, let’s look at why people choose to buy.

One of the main reasons that people choose to buy a home is to have the stability and peace of mind of owning the place you live. This means you are not at risk of being put in a situation where the landlord wants to move their parents into the basement suite and you have to leave or having to deal with increased costs if you go to renew a lease agreement.

For others, the benefit to buying comes in building up equity and ensuring that nest egg for your future. When you choose to rent, you are paying into someone else’s mortgage and into their future but when you work towards buying your own home, suddenly all that money you invested is going to your future instead. This is an extremely important aspect to consider in today’s age when many are having trouble with the idea of saving for retirement.

Now I get it, you may be thinking “if I can’t afford to retire, how can I afford to buy a house” but if you can afford to pay the high cost of rent in today’s market, then home ownership isn’t as far out of reach as you think. This is especially true if you buy a two-story home and rent out the basement, giving you ample living space upstairs but also additional income to pay your mortgage.

pros and cons of buying:

To further show the benefits and costs to buying, we have broken down some pros and cons to help you to determine if this is the right path for you.

Pros of Buying Cons of Buying
Freedom to renovate or modify your home as you wish
You are building up equity in a safe, secure investment as you pay down your mortgage
Potential for additional income if you have a rental suite
Stability and peace of mind from being in control of your investment and owning the place where you live
The risk of losing your home value when you sell
Responsibility for all ongoing costs, including mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, insurance and maintenance
Monthly payments can increase if interest rates go up at renewal time
Possibility of unexpected and potentially costly repairs

to rent or buy, that is the question!

Did you know? 4 in 10 households spend more than 30 per cent of their pre-tax income on rent, which is above the commonly accepted affordability threshold.

The latest National Bank report revealed that monthly mortgage costs for median-priced condos was higher than the average monthly rent for a similar unit in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria and Hamilton. At the same time, monthly mortgage payments were lower than rents in Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Ottawa. While this data does not include suburbs, it shows a staggering difference between mortgage payments and rent payments.

If someone can rent for $900 a month or pay a mortgage of $1200 a month, it may seem like a no brainer but it is important to remember that paying rent does not build equity! However, if you are unsure of where you want to live or cannot find a suitable and affordable home with a close enough commute to work, renting may be your only option. This is where checking listings and discussing with a real estate agent may open doors and where a mortgage broker can come in handy to help you determine if purchasing a home is viable in your near future.

yes, you can buy!

The reality is that in the long run, homeowners often fare financially better than renters because homeownership enables forced savings that accumulate over the years, growing into a sizeable nest egg.

If you are unhappy renting or really prefer the idea of owning your own home, you CAN. It is time to stop assuming you cannot make the leap from renting to buying – all you need is the right information and the right preparation!

To determine if you are able to purchase a home, a good place to start is the My Mortgage Toolbox app from Dominion Lending Centres. This app is perfect for seeing what you can afford. Using the app to calculate minimum down payments and monthly mortgage costs can help you to get a good picture of the financial landscape and your options. Looking at your budget and evaluating your current rent costs and other monthly expenses can also help you to determine your affordability bracket.

Some other things to consider before buying include:

  • Your credit score – do you have good financial standing to be approved for a mortgage?
  • Your savings – do you have any money put away for a downpayment? If not, do you have wiggle room in your budget to start saving?
  • Your time – do you have the resources to maintain a home from the yard to any necessary repairs?

If buying a home to live in is out of the question due to the availability in your area or cost of homes close to work, another option is to consider an investment opportunity. Maybe you cannot afford to buy in the area you want so you rent in order to keep your commute short and be in a neighbourhood you love. However, you can still reap the equity benefits by investing in a vacation or rental property which would give you the necessary nest egg and help you feel more secure about your future financial situation. You could keep the investment property as long as you want! If you end up finding the perfect home in your area down the line, you could always sell your investment property and take the earnings for a down payment on the right home – or keep it as an extra security blanket!

Regardless of whether you choose to continue renting or make the leap to owning your own home, the most important factor is your financial security. What works for your friend or your parents may not work for you – and that is okay! However, educating yourself and looking into all the options will ensure that, at the end of the day, you are in the best situation for yourself.

Written by My DLC Marketing Team.

4 Oct

Choosing Your Mortgage Broker.

General

Posted by: Tessa Parascak

Choosing Your Mortgage Broker.

There is a little doubt that the biggest purchase of your life will be your home. When embarking on your homeownership journey, having the right support and information will make all the difference. Fortunately, a mortgage broker can help!

With access to more than 230 lending institutions including big banks, credit unions and trust companies, mortgage brokers are experts in mortgages. These connections allow them familiarity with a vast array of available mortgage products, and also ensures that the advice they offer is unbiased. Unlike banks focused on signing you for profit reasons, a mortgage broker is a third-party service who gets paid no matter which bank they sign you with. This means they can provide the best rate AND unbiased advice because they are focused on helping you achieve your dream.

It is estimated there are nearly 20,000 mortgage professionals in Canada. With so many choices, it is important to find a mortgage broker who works best FOR you.

With so much information at your fingertips on any given broker, it is easier to help narrow down the search. Especially with tools like the Dominion Lending Centres exclusive My Mortgage Toolbox app. Available on Google Play and the iStore, My Mortgage Toolbox makes it easy for potential homeowners to find a mortgage broker nearest them!

“The idea behind My Mortgage Toolbox was to make it simple for Canadians to manage the mortgage process by putting all the information they need into the palm of their hand,” noted Gary Mauris, Founder and CEO of Dominion Lending Centres.

Some features available through this application include a variety of calculators to help clients determine:

What they can afford
The minimum down payment required
Closing cost estimates
Total monthly ownership costs
Click here to download the app today!

While online tools and apps can give you pretty good insight into a potential broker, there are a few other things you might also want to consider to help make that decision a little easier.

While it is never a bad idea to go with an established professional with an abundance of clients and years of experience, you should also open to considering newer, hungrier brokers who are striving to make their mark in the mortgage space. At a busy firm, it is easy for you to feel like a small fish in a big pond, especially with a smaller portfolio, whereas a smaller brokerage can likely provide you more attention.

While brokers spend a lot of their time neck-deep in mortgages and tend to use industry jargon, a professional broker will understand if you are a first time homebuyer and will do their best to explain the terms and the process to you. Understanding is vital in your homeownership journey so make sure to seek out a broker who is going to keep it simple for you and be honest, allowing you to understand exactly what you’re getting in your mortgage.

Ultimately, it comes down to the mortgage product but don’t be blinded by interest rates. It is important that your broker explains everything to you from term conditions to penalties, as well as why you qualified for the rate you need. It is also important to use caution if a broker is selling you on a rate and making promises to pay for fee; this is a red flag. If they say they’re going to pay for everything, they’re desperate for anything.

Of course, the rate matters, but the characteristics of your mortgage matter more and could end up costing you in the long run. You want a broker who’s going to listen to you and ask you about your needs and future goals. What are your plans five or ten years from now? Why are they so important to you as an individual? When looking at any mortgage product, consider that nearly 70 percent of mortgages are broken within three years. Even if you’re sure of today, life happens and tomorrow could be different. Therefore, you must consider the penalties for ducking out of your mortgage earlier and you should know if it is portable.

The best mortgage brokers in the business will make sure all of your bases are covered, and you’re fully aware of what you’re signing onto. The right broker will make the process easier for you, whether it’s buying your first home, shopping for a better rate, or even jumping into investment properties. No matter what stage of life you are in, we’ve got a mortgage product – and a broker – for that!

Written by My DLC Marketing Team