27 Oct

Time to Lock In a Variable Rate Mortgage?

Latest News

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

 

 

Approximately 32 per cent of Canadians are in a variable rate mortgage, which with rates effectively declining steadily for the better part of the last ten years has worked well.

Recent increases triggers questions and concerns, and these questions and concerns are best expressed verbally with a direct call to your independent mortgage expert – not directly with the lender. There are nuances you may not think to consider before you lock in, and that almost certainly will not be primary topics for your lender.

Over the last several years there have been headlines warning us of impending doom with both house price implosion, and interest rate explosion, very little of which has come to fruition other than in a very few localized spots and for short periods of time thus far.

Before accepting what a lender may offer as a lock in rate, especially if you are considering freeing up cash for such things as renovations, travel or putting towards your children’s education, it is best to have your mortgage agent review all your options.

And even if you simply wanted to lock in the existing balance, again the conversation is crucial to have with the right person, as one of the key topics should be prepayment penalties.

In many fixed rate mortgage, the penalty can be quite substantial even when you aren’t very far into your mortgage term. People often assume the penalty for breaking a mortgage amounts to three months’ interest payments, which in the case of 90% of variable rate mortgages is correct. However, in a fixed rate mortgage, the penalty is the greater of three months’ interest or the interest rate differential (IRD).

The ‘IRD’ calculation is a byzantine formula. One designed by people working specifically in the best interests of shareholders, not the best interests of the client (you). The difference in penalties from a variable to a fixed rate product can be as much as a 900 per cent increase.

The massive penalties are designed for banks to recuperate any losses incurred by clients (you) breaking and renegotiating the mortgage at a lower rate. And so locking into a fixed rate product without careful planning can mean significant downside.

Keep in mind that penalties vary from lender to lender and there are different penalties for different types of mortgages. In addition, things like opting for a “cash back” mortgage can influence penalties even more to the negative, with a claw-back of that cash received way back when.

Another consideration is that certain lenders, and thus certain clients, have ‘fixed payment’ variable rate mortgages. Which means that the payment may at this point be artificially low, and locking into a fixed rate may trigger a more significant increase in the payment than expected.

There is no generally ‘correct’ answer to the question of locking in, the type of variable rate mortgage you hold and the potential changes coming up in your life are all important considerations. There is only a ‘specific-to-you’ answer, and even then – it is a decision made with the best information at hand at the time that it is made. Having a detailed conversation with the right people is crucial.

It should also be said that a poll of 33 economists just before the recent Bank of Canada rate increase had 27 advising against another increase. This would suggest that things may have moved too fast too soon as it is, and we may see another period of zero movement. The last time the Bank of Canada pushed the rate to the current level it sat at this level for nearly five full years.

Life is variable, perhaps your mortgage should be too.

As always, if you have questions about locking in your variable mortgage, or breaking your mortgage to secure a lower rate, or any general mortgage questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

 

Approximately 32 per cent of Canadians are in a variable rate mortgage, which with rates effectively declining steadily for the better part of the last ten years has worked well.

Recent increases triggers questions and concerns, and these questions and concerns are best expressed verbally with a direct call to your independent mortgage expert – not directly with the lender. There are nuances you may not think to consider before you lock in, and that almost certainly will not be primary topics for your lender.

Over the last several years there have been headlines warning us of impending doom with both house price implosion, and interest rate explosion, very little of which has come to fruition other than in a very few localized spots and for short periods of time thus far.

Before accepting what a lender may offer as a lock in rate, especially if you are considering freeing up cash for such things as renovations, travel or putting towards your children’s education, it is best to have your mortgage agent review all your options.

And even if you simply wanted to lock in the existing balance, again the conversation is crucial to have with the right person, as one of the key topics should be prepayment penalties.

In many fixed rate mortgages, the penalty can be quite substantial even when you aren’t very far into your mortgage term. People often assume the penalty for breaking a mortgage amounts to three months’ interest payments, which in the case of 90% of variable rate mortgages is correct. However, in a fixed rate mortgage, the penalty is the greater of three months’ interest or the interest rate differential (IRD).

The ‘IRD’ calculation is a byzantine formula. One designed by people working specifically in the best interests of shareholders, not the best interests of the client (you). The difference in penalties from a variable to a fixed rate product can be as much as a 900 per cent increase.

The massive penalties are designed for banks to recuperate any losses incurred by clients (you) breaking and renegotiating the mortgage at a lower rate. And so locking into a fixed rate product without careful planning can mean significant downsides.

Keep in mind that penalties vary from lender to lender and there are different penalties for different types of mortgages. In addition, things like opting for a “cash back” mortgage can influence penalties even more to the negative, with a claw-back of that cash received way back when.

Another consideration is that certain lenders, and thus certain clients, have ‘fixed payment’ variable rate mortgages. Which means that the payment may at this point be artificially low, and locking into a fixed rate may trigger a more significant increase in the payment than expected.

There is no generally ‘correct’ answer to the question of locking in, the type of variable rate mortgage you hold and the potential changes coming up in your life are all important considerations. There is only a ‘specific-to-you’ answer, and even then – it is a decision made with the best information at hand at the time that it is made. Having a detailed conversation with the right people is crucial.

It should also be said that a poll of 33 economists just before the recent Bank of Canada rate increase had 27 advising against another increase. This would suggest that things may have moved too fast too soon as it is, and we may see another period of zero movement. The last time the Bank of Canada pushed the rate to the current level it sat at this level for nearly five full years.

Life is variable, perhaps your mortgage should be too.

As always, if you have questions about locking in your variable mortgage, or breaking your mortgage to secure a lower rate, or any general mortgage questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage advisor.

 

Thank you to DLC’s Tracy Valko for compiling this info!

 

20 Oct

New Mortgage Changes Decoded

Latest News

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

 

 

This week, OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) announced that effective January 1, 2018 the new Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures (Guidelines B-20) will be applied to all Federally Regulated Lenders. Note that this currently does not apply to Provincially Regulated Lenders (Credit Unions) but it is possible they will abide by and follow these guidelines when they are placed in to effect on January 1, 2018.

The changes to the guidelines are focused on
• the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages
• expectations around loan-to-value (LTV) frameworks and limits
• restrictions to transactions designed to work around those LTV limits.

What the above means in layman’s terms is the following:

OSFI STRESS TESTING WILL APPLY TO ALL CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGES

The new guidelines will require that all conventional mortgages (those with a down payment higher than 20%) will have to undergo stress testing. Stress testing means that the borrower would have to qualify at the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada (currently at 4.89%) or the contractual mortgage rate +2% (5 year fixed at 3.19% +2%=5.19% qualifying rate).

These changes effectively mean that an uninsured mortgage is now qualified with stricter guidelines than an insured mortgage with less than 20% down payment. The implications of this can be felt by both those purchasing a home and by those who are refinancing their mortgage. Let’s look at what the effect will be for both scenarios:

PURCHASING A NEW HOME
When purchasing a new home with these new guidelines, borrowing power is also restricted. Using the scenario of a dual income family making a combined annual income of $85,000 the borrowing amount would be:

Current Lending Guidelines

Qualifying at a rate of 3.34% with a 25-year amortization and the combined income of $85,000 annually, the couple would be able to purchase a home at $560,000

New lending Guidelines

Qualifying at a rate of 5.34% (contract mortgage rate +2%) with a 25-year amortization and the combined annual income of $85,000 you would be able to purchase a home of $455,000.

OUTCOME: This gives a reduced borrowing amount of $105,000…Again a much lower amount and lessens the borrowing power significantly.

REFINANCING A MORTGAGE

A dual-income family with a combined annual income of $85,000.00. The current value of their home is $700,000. They have a remaining mortgage balance of $415,000 and lenders will refinance to a maximum of 80% LTV.
The maximum amount available is: $560,000 minus the existing mortgage gives you $145, 0000 available in the equity of the home, provided you qualify to borrow it.

Current Lending Requirements
Qualifying at a rate of 3.34 with a 25-year amortization, and a combined annual income of $85,000 you are able to borrow $560,000. If you reduce your existing mortgage of $415,000 this means you could qualify to access the full $145,000 available in the equity of your home.

New Lending Requirements
Qualifying at a rate of 5.34% (contract mortgage rate +2%) with a 25-year amortization, combined with the annual income of $85,000 and you would be able to borrow $455,000. If you reduce your existing mortgage of $415,000 this means that of the $145,000 available in the equity of your home you would only qualify to access $40,000 of it.

OUTCOME: That gives us a reduced borrowing power of $105,000. A significant decrease and one that greatly effects the refinancing of a mortgage.

CHANGES AND RESTRICTIONS TO LOAN TO VALUE FRAMEWORKS (NO MORTGAGE BUNDLING)

Mortgage Bundling is when primary mortgage providers team up with an alternative lender to provide a second loan. Doing this allowed for borrowers to circumvent LTV (loan to value) limits.
Under the new guidelines bundled mortgages will no longer be allowed with federally regulated financial institutions. Bundled mortgages will still be an option, but they will be restricted to brokers finding private lenders to bundle behind the first mortgage with the alternate lender. With the broker now finding the private lender will come increased rates and lender fees.
As an example, we will compare the following:
A dual income family that makes a combined annual income of $85,000 wants to purchase a new home for $560,000. The lender is requiring a LTV of 80% (20% down payment of $112,000.00). The borrowers (our dual income family) only have 10% down payment of $56,000.. This means they will require alternate lending of 10% ($56,000) to meet the LTV of 20%.

Current Lending Guidelines
The alternate lender provides a second mortgage of $56,000 at approximately 4-6% and a lender fee of up to 1.25%.

New Lending Guidelines
A private lender must be used for the second mortgage of $56,000. This lender is going to charge fees up to 12% plus a lenders fee of up to 6%

OUTCOME: The interest rates and lender fees are significantly higher under the new guidelines, making it more expensive for this dual income family.

These changes are significant and they will have different implications for different people. Whether you are refinancing, purchasing or currently have a bundled mortgage, these changes could potentially impact you. We advise that if you do have any questions, concerns or want to know more that you contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist. They can advise on the best course of action for your unique situation and can help guide you through this next round of mortgage changes.

Thanks to DLC’s Geoff Lee for this great info!

19 Oct

Self-Employed? Here’s What You Need to Know About Mortgages

Latest News

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

 

 

Why, why, why it is so challenging for entrepreneurs to obtain a mortgage in Canada?
If you’re among the 2.7 million Canadians who are self-employed, regrettably your income is not as easy to document as someone who’s traditionally employed.

Since 2008, mortgage regulations in Canada have made it more challenging for those who work for themselves to qualify for a mortgage due to tighter restrictions on “stated income” loans. In 2012, Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) introduced Guideline B-20, which requires federally regulated banks to evaluate applications for residential mortgages and home equity lines of credit with more scrutiny. These rulings made it more challenging for the self-employed to prove income.

Here’s what Self-Employed home buyers need to know:

1. Most self-employed are motivated to decrease their earnings to avoid paying tax through legitimate expenses and personal deductions.
-Therefore, much of one’s self-employed income does not show up on paper.

2. I’m sorry… but you can’t have your cake and eat it too! If you choose to write off as much of your income as legally possible to avoid paying taxes, claiming low take-home pay, you will end up paying a higher interest rate on your mortgage.
– i.e. home buyer is a tradesperson, they earn $70,000/year and legitimately write off their business expenses to $40,000/year on Line 150 of their tax return. Lenders use income from Line 150… not gross income to determine affordability.
– Some lenders allow you to “gross up” your declared taxable income (as opposed to stated income) by adding up to 15%.
– i.e. if your declared income on your Notice of Assessment (NOA) is $40,000, the lender could add 15% for a total of $46,000. In most cases this doesn’t really help the business owner, as their income is still too low to qualify for the mortgage they want.

3. The new mortgage rules mean the assessment of a self-employed applicant’s income has become far more rigorous. Lenders now analyze the average income for the industry a self-employed candidate works in, and study the person’s employment history and earnings in the field. Their stated income should be reasonable, based on:
– industry sector
– type of business
– length of time the operation has been in business

4. Work with professionals. You need to hire a qualified book keeper and a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). Their job is to know the ins and outs of taxes so that you can put your focus on growing your business.
– You need to keep all your financial affairs up to date. That means getting the accountant prepared financials, filing your annual tax returns and most importantly paying your taxes. Government always gets first dibs on any money. Lenders won’t be interested in you haven’t paid your taxes.
– I recommend having a discussion with your CPA. Let them know that you want to buy a home. Come up with a budget of what income you need to be able to prove on your tax returns.

Suggestion: you could choose to pay more personal income tax this year, to push your line 150 income up and help you qualify for any mortgage transactions you hope to make. Please note: most lenders will want to see 2 years history, to prove consistency in earnings.

5. For self-employed borrowers, being able to document income for the past 2-3 years gives you more lending options. Some of the documents your lender may request include:
– Credit bureau (within 30 days of purchase)
– Personal tax Notice of Assessment (NOA) for the previous two to three years.
– Proof that you have paid HST and/or GST in full.
– Financial statements for your business prepared by a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).
– Contracts showing your expected revenue for the coming years (if applicable).
– Copies of your Article of Incorporation (if applicable).
– Proof that you are a principal owner in the business.
– Business or GST license or Article of Incorporation

6. If you have less than 20% down payment, Genworth is the only option of the 3 mortgage default insurers that still has a stated income program.

Self-employed home buyers, who can document proof of income, can generally access the same mortgage products and rates as traditional borrowers.

Tips for self-employed applying for a mortgage to ensure the process goes smoothly:

1. Get your finances in order. Pay down your debt!!
– Every $400/month in loan payments lowers your mortgage eligibility by $100,000
– Every $12,000 in credit card debt lowers your mortgage eligibility by $100,000
– Do you see a theme here? Pay down your debt! Resist buying/leasing a new vehicle or taking on any additional debt prior to buying your home

2. 3 “Rules of Lending” what Banks look at when you apply for a Mortgage in Canada
– Debt-service ratios are a major factor in a loan-approval assessment based on your provable income (Line 150 – what you paid taxes on)
– Maintain good credit. Solving the Puzzle – 5 factors used in determining your Credit Score
– Consider a larger down-payment.
– If you run into difficulty qualifying on your own, consider having someone co-sign for your mortgage. Would a Co-Signer Enable You to Qualify for a Mortgage?

3. Have two to three years’ worth of your self-employed supporting documentation available so your mortgage broker can work with you to set up your Mortgage Preapproval.

4. Be consistent and show stability. Lenders prefer self-employed borrowers who work in a business that’s established and have expertise in that field.

What happens if the banks still don’t want you for a conventional mortgage?

Many high net worth business owners with low stated incomes turn to private mortgage lenders for financing, since they can’t prove their income.
It is difficult to navigate which lenders specialize in self-employed mortgages. Using a mortgage broker has obvious advantages, since mortgage brokers have access to multiple lenders and have a broad knowledge of the mortgage market.

If you want more information and to know your options, send me an email at jordan@citywidemortgage.ca. I’m happy to help!

 

Thank you to DLC’s Kelly Hudson for this great info!

5 Oct

New Drastic Mortgage Rules in 2018?

Latest News

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

Most if not all of you may have heard about the proposed new mortgage restrictions contemplated by the Feds. This is ANOTHER set after last years drastic changes governing insured mortgages.

This time around they are going to implement a “stress test” to uninsured mortgages (those with more than 20% down). Borrowers will have to qualify at the contract rate PLUS 2%. So for example if the 5 year fixed rate is at 3%, clients would have to qualify based on 5%. Just like the measures last year this will reduce the clients qualifying amount by about 20%!

Rest assured this is coming! And despite the Feds taking “consultation” for the past few months I always felt this assured to happen.

Now based on this article, http://business.financialpost.com/news/fp-street/we-clearly-see-the-potential-risks-osfi-to-finalize-new-mortgage-criteria-this-month, it appears these new rules will be in force in the next couple of months. Most likely January 2018.

 

One major note! PRE-APPROVALS WILL NOT PROTECT you from these rule changes. 

I suggest you work quickly with your realtor or clients in anticipation of upcoming change!

 

Over the past 2 years we have seen the MOST DRAMATIC tightening of mortgage rules in the past 20+ years in this industry. In fact, there have been and will be many other “behind the scenes” tightening in underwriting standards.

 

Hopefully, you find this information useful. If you or your clients wish to discuss in more detail do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Jordan Thomson

Mortgage Planner

604.725.1607 | jordan@citywidemortgage.ca