12 Apr

7 Step Checklist to the Home Buying Process

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

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

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

Step 2: Strategize, Define Your Budget and get Pre-Qualified
Unless you can afford to buy a home, cash in hand, you are going to need a mortgage.
You need to get pre-qualified, which should not be confused with the term pre-approved.
The big difference is that no approval is ever given by a lender until they have an opportunity to examine the property that you wish to purchase. The bank may love you… but they also must love the property you want to buy.
Pre-qualifying will focus on gathering documentation to prove the information on your mortgage application including credit, debt load, income/employment, down payment etc.
Mortgage brokers will make sure you get a great mortgage rate. Just as important as rates are the terms of your mortgage which should include:
• prepayment options (10-20%)
• penalties
• portability
We also discuss what type of mortgage fits your current situation
• fixed vs variable?
• life of the mortgage (amortization) 25 or 30 years etc.
• payments – monthly, semi monthly, accelerated bi-weekly

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

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

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

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

Step 7: Get the Keys
On the closing day the documentation for your home purchase will be filed at the land titles office by your solicitor. Typically, the possession date is 1 or 2 days later, giving time for the money (down payment & mortgage) to get to the home seller. On possession day you set up a time to meet with your realtor to get the keys.
Congratulations you’re done – you now own your home!!
Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… I’m only a call away.

Thanks to Kelly Hudson at DLC for the list!

10 Apr

Income Qualified

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

There are several different ways a borrower can qualify for a mortgage when it comes to their income. One of the most common ways is known as income qualified. All of the following methods of employment income are under the income qualified umbrella:

1) Annual salary income employees
2) Full time employees working guaranteed weekly hours
3) Part time employees working guaranteed weekly hours
4) Auxiliary/On-call employees with 2-yr history at same employer
5) Commission Sales who have 2-yr history in same job/industry
6) Employees earning gratuities who have claimed over 2-yr history
7) Contract employees with 2-yr history at job/industry
There are a couple more types of employment that may fall into this category, but for the most part, these are the types of borrowers whose mortgage application is going to be done using income qualifying.

When it comes to the first 3, a borrower’s income is paid by a business in which they generally do not have any interest/ownership in. This means, an human resources representative or a supervisor can write a letter of employment stating the weekly guaranteed hours, the guaranteed hourly pay rate, the start date, and the employee’s position. The lender will then use this letter, a most recent pay stub, as well as verbally confirm the letter with the employer to verify a borrower’s income. This is how a borrower who works guaranteed hours or salary has their income verified and qualified on a mortgage application.

For numbers 4 to 7, lenders and mortgage brokers will verify and qualify a borrowers income a little differently. Because an employer does not guarantee hours or income, we need to see that there has been at least a 2-year history making the same amount. This 2-year history will usually need to be with the same employer and will need to be documented on your personal income tax returns to the Canadian Revenue Agency. The income amount on your line 150 of your T1 General Tax Returns for the past 2 years are added together and then divided by 2. The amount you get is the income you are allowed to use on your mortgage application and this is then verified by a letter of employment stating you have in fact been an employee there for more than 2 years, your are currently working there, your position, as well as a pay stub showing year-to-date income that is comparable to your 2-year average given the month you are in.

The same process would be used for those who earn over time or bonuses, claim tips, or work part time with two jobs. If you have any questions, let me know, I’m here to help!

Thanks to DLC contributor Ryan Oake for this info!

14 Mar

3 “Rules” of Lending- What Banks Look at When You Apply for a Mortgage

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson


Buying a home is usually the biggest purchase most people make and there are a lot of factors to consider. My job is to provide you with as much information (as you can handle!!) so you can make the best decision based on your particular situation.

The 3 “rules of lending” focus on determining the maximum size of mortgage that can be supported by your provable (what you paid taxes on) income.

You need to consider two affordability ratios:

Rule #1 – GROSS DEBT SERVICE (GDS) Your monthly housing costs are generally not supposed to exceed 36-39% of your gross monthly income. Housing costs include – your monthly mortgage payment, property taxes and heating. If you are buying a condo/townhouse, the GDS will also include ½ of your strata fees. The total of these monthly payments divided by your “provable” gross monthly income will give you your Gross Debt Service.
Mortgage payments + Property taxes + Heating Costs + 50% of condo fees / Annual Income

Rule #2 – TOTAL DEBT SERVICE (TDS) Your entire monthly debt payments should not exceed 42-44% of your gross monthly income This includes your housing costs (GDS above) PLUS all other monthly payments (car payments, credit cards, Line of Credit, additional financing, etc.). The total of all your monthly debts divided by your “provable” gross monthly income will give you your Total Debt Service.
Housing expenses (see GDS) + Credit card interest + Car payments + Loan expenses / Annual Income

What about the other 56% of your income?? This is considered to be used up by ‘normal’ monthly expenses including: taxes, food, medical, transportation, entertainment etc.)

Rule #3 – CREDIT RATING Everyone who will be on title to the property will need to have their credit run. Your credit bureau is important because it shows the lenders how well (or not) you have handled credit in the past. This gives them an indication of how you will handle credit in the future, and will you be a good risk and make your mortgage payments as promised. If you handle credit well, you will have a high Credit Score and get the best interest rates from the banks/lenders. If you have not handled credit well, and have a poor credit score, you will either be charged a higher interest rate or your application will be declined.

Want to know what your mortgage qualification amount is based on these factors?

Set up a mortgage review phone call with me, where I can determine what your affordability ratios are, strategies to improve them if you want/need to qualify for more mortgage and an overall mortgage pre-qualification amount!

23 Jan

Buying Your First Home? These Tips Will Save You Time and Money

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

So you’re wanting to buy a new home? It’s definitely an exciting time! First question, are you prepared?!
We all know big-item purchases are scary. It’s expensive, you are fully committing to this household – there is no turn backing without that pricey consequence. I totally get it.
The ultimate first-step is to do your research. You are going to want to find out the essentials before you start hunting for those pretty houses listed on Pinterest!
Let’s start here.

Credit History
• How many credit cards do you currently have under your name?
• Do you pay your bills on time?
• How many loans do you currently have?
If you own a credit card or have a loan with an established bank, you have credit history. This information is then transferred into a financial summary known as a credit report.

Credit Report
Your credit report states these vital pieces of personal information (DO NOT let other people in on your personal finances. This should be a given by now!)
• first and last name
• home address
• social security number (SIN)
• credit cards
• loans
• how much money you owe
• whether or not you pay your bills on time
All this ‘credit’ talk is important because it allows lenders to determine IF they will lend you money. Your lender, whoever you choose to go with, will be on your credit situation right away. The sooner you know what is on your credit, the better!
As for your credit score, it’s best to only have it checked once as having multiple credit checks by different lenders can cause it to change. Mortgage planners like myself only need to initially do a credit check once, which we can then use for all the lenders, saving you from multiple checks which could hurt your score.

Employment
It is important to have a steady income and also proof of employment for the last two years. Any changes to your employment have to be explicitly explained. Gathering these documents ahead of time can save headaches later.

Down payment
In Canada, you need to show a 90-day history of the down payment to prove you have not borrowed the money. We will need to see any movement of that money within the 90 days, so its best not to move it around. You are allowed to get a gift from family for the down payment but this money must not be repayable and we will need a letter from that gift giver explaining that!

Consult Your Wish List
It’s good to know what you want in a home if you can do it realistically. Buying a house for two? Thinking of expanding your family? You need to consider what life will look like down the road before you commit and sign that paper. Nothing would be worse than to move into a house that eventually ends up being too small because a couple of kids came into the picture or in a similar situation those grown-up kids come back home from college, university – you get the picture.
It’s also reasonable to think about factors in your dream home such as maintenance, renovations, the longevity of your stay, etc. Cover all bases, it is way better to be safe than sorry.

Finding a Broker
Who should you use to find the best mortgage for you? I think a Broker (like me), especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. There are many lenders in Canada and a broker will be able to sort through all your options.

Finding a Realtor
When it comes to a realtor, you want someone reliable. Makes sense right? A couple of ways you can find out whether or not a certain realtor is legit is by doing some online research:
• Do they have a website/social media accounts? Go check it out!
• Double-check if their licence is registered and legitimate
• Look up their client feedback/disciplinary comments against them
• Check out their current listings – price range, are they a busy/relaxed business?
• Send them an e-mail with any questions! Do they have the appropriate knowledge?

Feeling better about buying that first Home? That’s exactly what I like to hear. If you have any other questions, call me today on 604.725.1607 or email jordan@citywidemortgage.ca

8 Nov

How to Get a Free Copy of Your Credit Bureau

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

Think of your credit score as a report card on how you’ve handled your finances in the past. A credit score is a number that lenders use to determine the risk of lending money to a given borrower.

There is always someone willing to lend you money however, higher risk = higher rates!

Step 1 for good credit – you need to know your credit history
• In Canada there are 2 credit bureaus – Equifax and TransUnion.
• You can receive a FREE copy of your credit report from both Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada once a year
• You can pay Equifax or TransUnion for a digital copy, which is much faster, BUT you have to pay, which sucks.

I recommend you order a copy of your credit report from both Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, since each credit bureau may have different information about how you have used credit in the past.

Ordering your own credit report has no effect on your credit score.
• Equifax Canada refers to your credit report as “credit file disclosure”.
• TransUnion Canada refers to your credit report as “consumer disclosure”.

Once you have obtained your free credit report, check it for errors:
• Are there any late payments that have been erroneously attributed to your credit history?
• Are the amounts owing in your credit report accurate?
• Is there anything missing on your credit bureau
o Sometimes the credit bureau has more that one file with your name, which can be merged, but it takes time.

If you find any errors on your credit report, you need to dispute them with your credit bureau.

How can I get a copy of my credit report and credit score?

There are two national credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. You should check with both bureaus.

Credit scores run from 300 to 900. The higher the number, the greater the likelihood a request for credit will be approved.

The “free-report-by-mail” links are not prominently displayed, since credit bureaus would love to sell you instant access to your report and credit score online.

Equifax, the instructions to get a free credit report by mail are available here.

For TransUnion, the instructions to get a free credit report by mail are available here.

The bottom line: when it comes to financing your life, through credit cards, mortgages, car loans or any other kind of debt – your credit score has a BIG impact on what kind of terms you can negotiate.

Keeping an eye on your credit score is important — if there’s a problem or an error, you want to know and have time to fix it before you apply for a loan. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call at 604.725.1607 or email jordan@citywidemortgage.ca.

Thanks to DLC’s Kelly Hudson.

6 Nov

Should You Be Paying Your Mortgage Down Aggressively

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

Last year a third of mortgage holders in Canada chose to pay their mortgages aggressively, which is to say they paid more than the amount required. And the numbers were higher for those who bought their properties after 2013.

Instinctively it would make sense to pay off your mortgage as quickly as you can, to reduce your debt and to build up more equity in your home in case you wanted to borrow against it.

But this isn’t always the case.

When does paying your mortgage aggressively make sense?

Canwise Financial President James Laird identified three kinds of people for whom an aggressive payment plan would be prudent.

The first are people who have mortgages with a high interest rate, since any additional payments (also known as prepayments) go towards reducing the principal. This will lower payments faster and puts you in a better negotiating position when the time comes to refinance.

The second kind are people with access to a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), which can be used as their emergency fund. In that case, the money you’d otherwise put away for unexpected purchases might as well go towards your mortgage.

The third group are people uncomfortable with other investment vehicles like stocks and bonds. The big positive to paying a mortgage down aggressively is that it entails zero risk. And it’s better than letting the money sit under the mattress.

Renee Dadswell, Mortgage Trainer at Mortgage Professionals Canada and a mortgage agent at The Mortgage Station, added one more category of people well-suited to aggressively paying down their mortgage: those with refinanced mortgages where the money was used to purchase items with a shorter lifespan, like a car. “You don’t want to be paying for the car 15 or 20 years later when you don’t even own it anymore,” says Dadswell.

When does paying your mortgage aggressively not make sense?

“If you have a super low rate, don’t rush to pay it back,” Laird recommends. “It’s cheap money. Take advantage of it.”

Another instance where paying a mortgage down aggressively would be unwise is when the property in question is a rental property or houses a home-based business. “A portion of the interest (on rental properties and homes with home offices) are tax deductible,” says Dadswell. “In these cases, aggressive payback could have very negative tax effects.”

A third argument against an aggressive mortgage payback plan is if you can find another investment that gives you a better return. “If you put $100,000 into your 3.00% mortgage, you save $3,000 next year,” says Laird. “If you made a 5% return on that $100K instead, you could put that $3K towards your mortgage next year and still have $2K left over.”

How could you pay your mortgage more aggressively?

Like with anything else, how your money goes out should be a function of how it comes in.

If you’re a salaried employee and just got a significant pay raise, you could choose to increase your regular payments and direct that extra money towards the principal.

If your extra money comes to you as a year-end bonus or an owner’s dividend, you could choose to make a yearly lump-sum payment towards the principal.

Note that many full-featured mortgages come with flexible prepayment options that allow the borrower to increase their monthly payments by up to 100%, and allow for annual lump sum payments of up to 25% (though typically between 10-20%).

Either way, Dadswell offers this word of caution: “The goal of living in a house is to enjoy it and make memories in this home. If your budget is so tight that you cannot enjoy the house as a home, you will regret the purchase,” she said.

“A mortgage will most likely be your largest debt,” says Laird. “The payment schedule will inform the rest of your financial life, from your monthly budget to RRSP/RESP planning to how much you can save.”

Both Laird and Dadswell agree that a consultation with a mortgage broker and your financial planner should happen before putting an aggressive mortgage payback plan in place.

“You’ll get the right perspective on your goals and how putting more towards your mortgage will impact those goals,” says Laird.

And when you’re contemplating having less money in your pocket at the end of the month or year, the right perspective is a good thing.

Canadian Mortgage Trends

30 Oct

4 Key Things You Need to Know About a Second Mortgage

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

Many homeowners are vaguely aware of the fact that you can take out a second loan on your home. You hear your friends mention it or perhaps a family member close to you has gone through the process—but do you truly know what it means to take out a second mortgage? We have taken all the questions we get asked about second mortgages and compiled it into four key points. They can be useful when you require extra funds for debt consolidation, CRA payouts or money in a hurry.

A SECOND MORTGAGE IS BASED ON THE EQUITY IN YOUR HOME
The total loan amount that the second mortgage lender will offer you will depend on the equity that has been built up in your home. Second mortgages allow you to access up to 95% of the equity you have in your property. For instance:

House Value $850,000
95% LTV (maximum mortgage amount) $807,500.00
First Mortgage $550,000.00
Amount Available Through Second $257,500.00

INTEREST RATES WILL VARY AND BE HIGHER THAN YOUR FIRST MORTGAGE
This is because when a lender agrees to a second mortgage, they are taking a higher risk as he gets second priority in case of default. With that being said, we have options and solutions such as working with private lenders that can help you obtain a reduced rate and the right product for your mortgage situation. Typically, you can expect an interest rate of 6.95%-19.95% with lender and broker fees included.

YOUR PAYMENT CAN BE AS LOW AS INTEREST ONLY PAYMENTS
One of the advantages of selecting to use a second mortgage is the fact that the payments are attractive. You can pay interest only payments or you can also select to pay the interest plus the principle loan amount. You can work with your mortgage broker to discuss options and what would work best with your situation.

THERE ARE ADDITIONAL FEES TO CONSIDER
Since we want to have you understand ALL the fees associated, it is important to know that setting up a second mortgage will require you to pay: *note dollar amounts are approximations

An appraisal fee to assess the value of your home: $300
Legal fees to set it up: $2,000
Lenders & Broker fees: 1-5%

Second mortgages are a great option for many and may be a better solution than a refinance or a Home Equity Loan (HELOC). If you are interested in learning more or want to find out if a second mortgage is right for you, talk to me and I can guide you through the process from start to finish!

12 Oct

Cash Back and Decorating Allowances on New Build or Pre-Sale Purchases

Latest News

Posted by: Jordan Thomson

As the market shifts, developers will increase their incentives to buyers with cash back and decorating allowances on new build or pre-sale purchases. It is very important to review those options with your real estate agent representative and vital to consult with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker. Although these offers may seem attractive, they can impact your financing and could cost you thousands of dollars.

Before you write a contract on a new build or pre-sale, ensure you have set up your team including a real estate agent and mortgage broker. Always consult with them to ensure you have sound advice. Do not rely solely on the developer’s sales representative.

What happens when you sign a contract on a pre-sale?

When you visit the sales centre for the pre-sale and decide to write a contract you have a rescission period where you can back out of the purchase. The contract you sign is drafted by the sales centre and once you remove any conditions, you are locked into the purchase. Therefore it is essential you have your real estate agent with you at the time of signing or at a minimum, they review the contract. It is in your best interest you fully understand the terms, the disclosure statement, what you are buying, schedule to build, GST, deposit schedule and any incentives.

Once you remove any conditions, the deposit is paid to the developer and a schedule set for all other deposits till the building is complete. Those total deposits are typically 20% of the purchase price. That is money you will not receive back if for any reason you are unable to proceed with the purchase. Some contracts allow assignment to another buyer, but those must be approved by the developer and may come with restrictions. Your realtor can guide you on these matters.

How Will Cash Back or Decorating Allowances Impact Your Purchase?

When the market slows, developers will use incentives such as cash back and decorating allowances on new build or pre-sale purchases as a strategy to increase sales. Regardless if this is a cash back or a rebate for decorating, it will have an impact on the purchase price for the lender on the financing. This is a common misconception among buyers and even realtors who do not understand the process from a financing perspective.

For example: A purchase price plus GST is $800,000. The developer is offering a $20,000 decorating allowance. The lender will automatically deduct the $20,000 from the purchase price. Your new purchase price will be $780,000 for financing purposes. This does not change the actual purchase price. You still have to pay the developer $800,000 for the home. The lender will lend on the $780,000 only. Therefore you must pay in cash at the time of funding the $20,000 difference.

The developer has sold you the idea you are receiving decorating upgrades of $20,000. You are receiving the value of that allowance BUT make no mistake you are paying for it.

If the incentive is a cash back amount in the above example, you will receive the cash back from the developer at the time of completion. However, the lender will still only offer financing on the lower value minus the cash back amount.

Thanks to DLC’s Pauline Tonkin for this info.

10 Oct

Fixed Rate Mortgage: What Lenders You Should Do It With and Why

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Jordan Thomson


FIXED-RATE MORTGAGE: WHAT LENDERS YOU SHOULD DO IT WITH AND WHY

25-year amortization or 30 years? Insured or Uninsured? With an A Lender or B Lender? These are just a few of the questions people have to decide on when they are pursuing a mortgage. But the biggest question of all: Fixed Rate or Variable Rate?

With the instability of the market, and the Bank of Canada’s continuous rate hikes, many people now are flocking towards a fixed rate mortgage over a variable rate. What this means is that they are choosing to essentially “lock in” at a rate for the term of their mortgage (5 years, 10 years, 1 year…you name it). Now there are benefits to this…but there are also disadvantages too.

For example, did you know that 60% of people will break their mortgage by 36 months into a 5 year term? Whether it’s due to career changes, deciding to have kids, wanting to refinance, or another reason entirely, 60% of mortgage holders will break it.

And just like any other contract out there, if you break it, there is a penalty associated with it. However, there is a way to avoid paying more than is necessary. This applies directly to a fixed rate mortgage and we can help you decide what lenders you should go with.

If you have a FIXED RATE MORTGAGE:
There are two ways your penalty will be calculated.

Method #1. If you are funded by one of the Big 6 Banks (ex. Scotia, TD, etc.) or some Credit Unions, your penalty will be based on the bank of Canada Posted Rate (Posted Rate Method) To give you an example:

With this method, the Bank of Canada 5 year posted rate is used to calculate the penalty. Under this method, let’s assume that they were given a 2% discount at their bank thus giving us these numbers:

Bank of Canada Posted Rate for 5-year term: 5.59%
Bank Discount given: 2% (estimated amount given*)
Contract Rate: 3.59%

Exiting at the 2-year mark leaves 3 years left. For a 3-year term, the lenders posted rate. 3 year posted rate=3.69% less your discount of 2% gives you 1.44%. From there, the interest rate differential is calculated.

Contract Rate: 3.59%
LESS 3-year term rate MINUS discount given: 1.69%
IRD Difference = 1.9%
MULTIPLE that by 3 years (term remaining)
5.07% of your mortgage balance remaining. = 5.7%

For that mortgage $300,000 mortgage, that gives a penalty of $17,100. YIKES!

Now let’s look at the other method (one used by most monoline lenders)

Method #2:
This method uses the lender published rates, which are much more in tune with what you will see on lender websites (and are * generally * much more reasonable). Here is the breakdown using this method:

Rate when you initially signed: 3.24%
Published Rate: 3.34%
Time left on contract: 3 years

To calculate the IRD on the remaining term left in the mortgage, the broker would do as follows:

Rate when you initially signed: 3.24%
LESS Published Rate: 3.54%
=0.30% IRD
MULTIPLY that by 3 years (term remaining)
0.90% of your mortgage balance

That would mean that you would have a penalty of $2,700 on a $300,000 mortgage.

That’s a HUGE difference in numbers, just by choosing to go with a different lender! Knowing what you know about fixed rate mortgages now, let a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker help you make the RIGHT choice for your lender. We are here to help and guide you through the mortgage process from pre-approval onward!

Thanks to DLC’s Geoff Lee for this info