21 Mar

Top 4 Reasons Why a Variable Rate Mortgage Can Put You Further Ahead

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Top 4 Reasons Why a Variable Rate Mortgage Can Put You Farther Ahead

The general consumer will be hard pressed when left to their own devices to shop on their own for their next mortgage, especially if they visit with one of the BIG banks. Typically they will talk about their most popular and profitable product, the 5 year FIXED rate mortgage. If you don’t know to ask for anything different, that is what they will recommend for you.

Working with a professional mortgage broker, the insight and value we can provide will help you not just get a mortgage, but build a personal home loan strategy to help you get farther ahead down the road, to better reflect you future needs and goals.

So here are the TOP 4 reasons why you need to look at a variable rate type mortgage product.

1) It’s always a cheaper interest rate: The current GAP between the Best in Market (BiM) fixed rate and BiM variable rate mortgage is a difference of = 0.60%— for the Average Canadian Mortgage Balance ($310K), that’s a savings of $159.57 that you don’t have to pay to the BANK for interest each month. Over the full 5 year term, you have saved over $9.5K in interest  – should nothing change in the prime rate (breaks down to just $29.70/month for every $100K borrowed).

2) It’s always a better monthly P+I repayment distribution which helps YOU pay down your mortgage loan balance quicker, and in effect, again pay less interest to the banks.

Variable Rate

So –  which product’s monthly payment do YOU want to pay for principal? 59.32% of the lower payment’s monthly amount to principal or 51.15% of the higher payment’s monthly amount to principal?

3) More flexible contract terms, and cheaper to get out of if you need to. To break this type of mortgage contract the penalty calculations are SIMPLE– just 3 months interest calculated on the balance remaining, for the term remaining.

The average Canadian will do something with their contracts after the 3 yr mark so if you owed $281K after 36months of this contract, then your penalty to break about $1,500.

Whereas the FIXED is a very complicated math equation, with fine print, and potential claw backs on the discounts given up from. In the opening contractual terms, you agreed to pay them the full interest of $38,612. After 36 months, you may have paid the majority of that to them, but they will want the rest to full term – it is this calculation that can be quite severe.

YOU can always do a SWITCH into the remaining term fixed as well, should you wish to take that route – with additional costs. Most VRMs are portable, meaning if you don’t need any new money for your next purchase. You can take that existing contract with you to your new property.

4) Banks are NOT going to increase your VRM payment severely…. MYTH— you will have a legal contract term outlining the math equations associated with the Bank of Canada overnight prime lending rate. Most banks have a similar prime. Right now, (as of the last announcement BoC announcement on September 19, 2015) prime is 2.50% and holding…. most internal bank prime rates are now 2.70%. The discount associated with their prime is what they are in control of for the mortgage variable rate offering… BUT once you sign your five year contract that math equation WILL NOT change in the term. The only thing that MAY change is the Federal Government’s Regulated BoC Prime lending rate, and that is capped to a max of a quarter of a point (0.25%) as to not trigger a negative effect in the larger economy. A 0.25% increase (or decrease as we have seen twice this year) for every $100K borrowed is just a change of $12.24/month, which is manageable. Most lenders take up to 90 days to do the administration to change your interest portion of your monthly payment, which gives you enough time to speak with your mortgage agent to help decide if you want to SWITCH to a fixed. (no costs to do that)

Since 2005, the Bank of Canada Rate hasn’t changed much. Back then, it was 2.50%, and lenders had same as their internal prime rate. The Federal Government promised to keep rates low, and from June 2007 to July 2009, they froze that rate to a ZERO increase. We have only seen two increases since then, bringing the prime up to 3.00%, and on December 2010, the Feds again froze the rate, which resulted in NO adjustments until January 2015, when they opted to DECREASE the rate by 0.25%, down to 2.75 and again a second decrease in July 2015 to where we are now. The September 19 announcement has said they will keep rates at a zero increase for some time to come.

Knowing it’s an election year, it’s not likely that the politicians are going to mess around with people’s money — they want their votes… and frankly after the election, whoever the new minister will be…. will take some time to get up to speed in their new duties of that portfolio… so don’t expect much change for the next year. This was reiterated by Dominion Lending Centres’ Chief Economist, Dr. Sherry Cooper, at our most recent conference.

Conclusion: Overall effect of using the variable rate contract is this:

More flexible product, with a lower monthly expected payment; better redistribution of that payment to principal, resulting in a lower end balance to renegotiate in five years time (should nothing happen to the Prime in that term) AND if you want to be conservative, and have a set payment for your household budget then… why not use the lower VRM product and make the FIXED payment.

EVERY additional dollar you put down per month – is now all principal – reducing our overall loan, and now reducing the overall interested they CAN charge you in term.

… or… better yet… why not set that monthly payment difference aside into a TSFA account, and once a year, make a decision to either invest it, or pay down your mortgage balance, or do both.

Working with Dominion Lending Centres is not just about shopping for the BEST rate… it’s understanding the variety of products that are offered, and how best they can assist you in your own goals.

15 Mar

Top 5 Questions To Ask Your Mortgage Lender Before Signing On the Dotted Line

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Whether you’re purchasing, refinancing or renewing; take the time, consult a broker, talk to the bank … saturate yourself in knowledge.
Knowledge is power, and knowledge is retaining equity when you sell.

Don’t lose equity to a discounted rate on your mortgage.

 

Top 5 Questions To Ask Your Mortgage Lender Before Signing On the Dotted Line

1. How the penalties are calculated if I break my mortgage early? Specifically, ask what rate they use to calculate the “interest rate differential”. Typically, if the lender has “posted rates” they use these to calculate the penalty. If this is the case, the penalty can be 3, 4 or even 5 times higher than a mortgage lender that does not have posted rates and uses them in their early payout penalty calculation. This one question can save you thousands of dollars!

2. Is this a “collateral” mortgage? Some lenders have recently started putting all of their mortgages into what is called a “collateral” charge. In the right situation, given significant equity in the home, this product can be very useful and advantageous. The disadvantage to this product however, is that you cannot “switch” it to another lender at maturity. You have to actually discharge this type of mortgage and re-register a new one with a new lender which will cost on average $1000 for legal fees and appraisal costs. Beware of lenders who do this, especially if your mortgage is high ratio because it is only useful if you have more than 20% equity.

3. Can I “blend and extend” my mortgage if I buy another house? Most variable rate mortgages cannot be “blended” however, typically the penalty to break a variable is 3 months interest. Some lenders have changed their policies (very quietly) – instead of allowing you to add new money to a mortgage in the event of a new purchase, they require you to pay the full penalty. Some clients have been caught off guard by sneaky lenders who don’t tell them this until only a few days before close, at which time it’s too late to switch lenders.

4. What happens to my life insurance if I switch lenders at the end of my term? This is a very commonly overlooked detail by those who take the insurance offered by their bank or lender. The challenge is that if you want to “switch” your mortgage to another lender at the end of your term, you have to re-apply for insurance. The downside to this is that you’ll be five years older, and if you have developed any health issues, you may not qualify for the insurance at all. Getting insurance that mortgage brokers offer stays in place for the whole time you have your mortgage, no matter who your mortgage lender is.

5. What happens at the end of the term (typically five years)? Will they offer you the best rate they offer their new clients, or will you have to negotiate for best rates at that time. Most banks know that clients likely won’t make the effort to negotiate the best rates. Working with an independent specialist will provide you with the most competitive rates, not only when you buy your home, but when it comes up for renewal. A qualified professional will make sure you have the best options available each time your mortgage comes due.

7 Mar

How To Avoid The 7 Biggest Mistakes Refinance Shoppers Make

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

 

How To Avoid The 7 Biggest Mistakes Refinance Shoppers Make

Whenever interest rates drop or housing values jump, a refinancing frenzy follows. Whether you are looking to trim your mortgage payments, eliminate credit card debt or renovate, experts say you should fully understand all the options available to you before deciding to refinance. Here are some common pitfalls that consumers can avoid when refinancing:

1. Check interest rates to see if your new rate will pay off the penalty for leaving your present mortgage. It is best to decrease your interest rate by at least .75% to 1%. This would save you $100.00 a month on a $150,000 mortgage.

2. Know what your costs are – Check with your bank to find out what the penalty would be for an early payout.. It may be 3 month’s interest or more.. Don’t tell them you are moving your mortgage or they will pass you on to a high pressure salesperson who will try to talk you into coming into the branch to discuss the issue. It’s easier to say you are thinking about paying out your mortgage early.

3. Be sure to compare apples to apples- Make certain the rate you were quoted over the telephone was for a similar product. Comparing 3 year rates at one lender to 5 year rates at another is like comparing apples to oranges.

4. Overvaluing your Home – pride of ownership sometimes overshadows our common sense. You may expect the value of renovations to be equal to the cost of labour and materials. While return on investment for new carpeting or new paint jobs is close to 100%, it can be as low as 15% for a granite entranceway. Some people use their tax evaluations which may be too high or too low. Consider checking with your realtor or someone who recently sold their home on your street.

5. Not considering future plans – getting locked into a 10 year fixed rate when your kids will be leaving for college in 3-5 years may not be a smart move. If you are planning on buying a vacation home or an investment property why not plan for it now? You might be able to get it sooner than you expect.

6. Don’t let low interest rates or catchy slogans stop you from shopping around. Often the lower rates come with unattractive conditions: they may not be portable to a new home, the interest rate may only be available in one province, or you may be tied to the mortgage unless you have a bonafide sale of the home.

7. Finally don’t go to your present bank first. If you don’t know the rates you won’t get the best rate. The major reason people go to their present lender is convenience. There is comfort in “being known” and a belief that they should receive special treatment. The reality is that all lenders are under pressure trying to process the unprecedented volume of refinances. They have to set priorities. And you would be a low one as they already have your loan. They may lower your present rate from 3.99% to 3.79% to pacify you but if you shopped around you might find that other lenders are offering 3.19% at this time.

In conclusion, be a good consumer. Consult with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional who can review the best options with you. We can help you make an informed decision on your finances.

 

4 Mar

The Shocking Impact of Consumer Debt Payments and How To Overcome This Significant Home Ownership Barrier

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

The Shocking Impact of Consumer Debt Payments and How To Overcome This Significant Home Ownership Barrier

Savings, market value and government guidelines are obvious obstacles but in my opinion, one topic that doesn’t get discussed in enough detail is consumer debt payments.

First a quick definition: Disposable income, is described as total personal income minus current income taxes. Essentially, your take-home-pay.

Here’s a “live” case study.

This consumer has $62,601 in non-mortgage debt or $0.86 for every dollar of disposable income. A model citizen by Canadian standards given StatCan’s most recent report reflected Canadians have $1.64 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.

The minimum payments currently required on this $62,000 debt is $1,878.03 per month. If this consumer chose to pay only the minimum payment requested on each monthly statement toward the repayment of this debt, it would take between 73 and 98 years to pay it all off. What will AMAZE you is by keeping unchanged the exact minimum payments required today, these debts could be totally paid in full between 39 and 50 months from now. Therefore, keeping the same payment every month from this point forward rather than paying the declining payment being requested on each statement is the key to paying the debt off faster. It’s remarkable to think you could pay it off this quickly given the average annual cost of borrowing of 16.794% which is actually even worse when annual credit card fees are added, making the effective annual cost of borrowing 21.054%. By the way, anybody getting this kind of return on your market investments at the moment? Hmmmm?

Now, watch this and take a deep breath. This same $1,878 per month would carry a mortgage principal of $410,513. Amazing buying capacity eh?…all tied up in a mere $62,600 in debt.

That’s right. If this consumer were debt free, it would be possible to save for a down payment with some simple strategies and a starter home (or condo more likely) is well within reach.

Now here’s a comparison for you.

Annual interest cost on this consumer’s debt is estimated at $8,975. Meanwhile the annual interest cost in the first year on a mortgage principal of $410,513 is $10,839. The difference is a mere $1,864 for the entire year. Wouldn’t you rather be a home owner paying interest on an appreciating asset?

Here’s my formula for eliminating the debt in this case study. My recommendations:

Stop using all cards, switch to cash only. Close all credit card accounts except two primary credit cards like a Visa or MasterCard. Write letters to all the other creditors requesting the accounts be closed and be sure to follow it up. Call the two credit card companies whose cards you are keeping and get them to give you their lowest rate available with no annual fee and no loyalty points. Nothing is for free! Use any savings remaining at the end of each month and apply it to the smallest debt owing until the debt is paid in full then use the freed up payment and apply it to the next smallest debt and so on.

There are a multitude of strategies that you can take here including paying highest interest debt off first, but I often find the former approach is usually more successful and you see the results faster. Every debt reduction plan should be designed specifically for the finances of the household and this is a good place to start.

The bottom line: don’t get distracted by the destructive effect of non-mortgage debt, get help to establish a plan with your mortgage broker and, as always…experience a strategy…not just a mortgage. We here at Dominion Lending Centres can help!