7 Apr

GRIM REAPER BE DAMNED! HOW “LIVING GIFTING” KEEPS THE GRIM REAPER AT BAY

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Sorry Mr. Reaper, we’ve just figured out another way to delay your death grip! Research shows that giving an inheritance to another person while you’re alive – a concept known as “living gifting” – not only feels good, it can promote better physical and mental well-being and even help you live longer.

Health researcher and best-selling author, Stephen G. Post, summarizes it nicely:

“A remarkable fact is that giving, even in later years, can delay death. The impact of giving is just as significant as not smoking and avoiding obesity.”

Still not convinced? Here are 5 Powerful reasons to consider giving an early inheritance:

1. We Are Living Longer – According to Statistics Canada, for a 65-year old couple there is a one-in-two chance that one of them will reach the age of 92. Do your children really need an inheritance when they are in their mid-to-late 60’s?

2. Pay Down Their Mortgage – Let’s say mom & dad gave their son $200,000 to pay down his existing mortgage. A $200,000 gift, amortized over 25 years, is really worth over $340,000 when you factor in the interest he’ll be saving. And paying down the son’s mortgage will lower his monthly mortgage payments, providing extra cash-flow to start saving for his retirement or university education for his children. The mortgage professionals at Dominion Lending Centres can help with a variety of mortgage options.

3. Time Value of Money – Money that is available today, is worth more than the same amount in the future, due to its earning capacity. Of course, if the money doesn’t earn anything, then this principal does not hold true. Using the above example, let’s say the son invested the $200,000 gift with a conservative 5% target rate of return over 25 years. Using a 25% marginal tax rate, that $200,000 gift is really worth $502,033 – even after deducting income taxes!

4. Save on Probate – In Ontario, the value of the estate is reduced by an encumbrance against the property. In the above example, if the parents took out a mortgage, or a reverse mortgage, to give their son a $200,000 gift, then that debt reduces the value of the estate, which will result in the estate paying less in probate fees (the taxes you pay on the settling of an estate).

5. Create Lasting Memories – After you are gone, the actual dollar amount you leave to your children will soon be long forgotten. What your children will remember is the time they spent with you. So, the next time you suggest a family trip to Disneyland, or a weekend getaway, and they tell you “let’s do it next year when we’ll have enough saved”, if you have the means, consider booking the trip as part of an early inheritance. Create lasting memories while your health allows you to, because after all, “Procrastination is the thief of time” – Charles Dickens

4 Apr

BANKS & CREDIT UNIONS VS MONOLINE LENDERS

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Banks & Credit Unions vs Monoline Lenders

We are all familiar with the banks and local credit unions, but what are monoline lenders and why are they in the market?

Mono, meaning alone, single or one, these lenders simply provide a single yet refined service: to fulfill mortgage financing as requested. Banks and credit unions, on the other hand, offer an array of other products and services as well as mortgages.

The monoline lenders do not cross-sell you on chequing/savings account, RRSPs, RESPs, GICs or anything else. They don’t even have these products and services available.

Monolines are very reputable, and many have been around for decades. In fact, Canada’s second-largest mortgage lender through the broker channel is a monoline lender. Many of the monoline lenders source their funds from the big banks in Canada, as these banks are looking to diversify their portfolios and they ultimately seek to make money for their shareholders through alternative channels.

Monolines are sometimes referred to as security-backed investment lenders. All monolines secure their mortgages with back-end mortgage insurance provided by one of the three insurers in Canada.

Monoline lenders can only be accessed by mortgage brokers at the time of origination, refinance or renewal. Upon servicing the mortgage, you cannot by find them next to the gas station or at the local strip mall near your favorite coffee shop. Again, the mortgage can only be secured through a licensed mortgage broker, but once the loan completes you simply picking up your smartphone to call or send them an email with any servicing questions. There are no locations to walk into. This saves on overhead which in turn saves you money.

The major difference between a bank and monoline is the exit penalty structure for fixed mortgages. With a monoline lender the exit penalty is far lower. That is because the banks and monoline lenders calculate the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty differently. The banks utilize a calculation called the posted-rate IRD and the monolines use an IRD calculation called unpublished rate.

In Canada, 60% (or 6 out of every 10) households break their existing 5-year fixed term at the 38 months. This leaves an average 22 months’ penalty against the outstanding balance. With the average mortgage in BC being $300,000, the penalty would amount to approximately $14,000 from a bank. The very same mortgage with a monoline lender would be $2,600. So, in this case the monoline exit penalty is $11,400 less.

Once clients hear about this difference, many are happy to get a mortgage from a company they have never heard of. But some clients want to stick with their existing bank or credit union to exercise their established relationship or to start fostering a new one. Some borrowers just elect to go with a different lender for diversification purposes. (This brings up a whole other topic of collateral charge mortgages, one that I will venture into with another blog post.)

There is a time and a place for banks, credit unions and monoline lenders. I am a prime example. I have recently switched from a large national monoline to a bank, simply for access to a different mortgage product for long-term planning purposes.

An independent mortgage broker can educate you about the many options offered by banks and credit unions vs monolines.

4 Apr

ADVICE FOR SINGLE HOMEBUYERS

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Advice for Single Homebuyers

More than a third of first-time homebuyers in Canada are single. If you’re thinking of joining this group, here’s what you need to do and know before jumping into homeownership.

Study the market.

Identify neighbourhoods you want to live in and check to see how much properties in that area are selling for.

Next, figure out how much you can afford. Remember to include estimates for property tax, utilities, insurance and any other expenses you don’t pay as a renter (condo fees, for example). Start with this calculator.

Assemble your team.

A home purchase should involve financial, legal and real estate professionals. Before first-time homebuyers start exploring properties, they should get a copy of their credit report (www.equifax.ca) and examine it closely.

If there is a history of missed or late payments, both of which can bring your number down, start a plan to change your standing by making regular payments on time. (Caution: there is no quick fix for a credit report; beware of companies that offer to change or “fix” yours for a fee.)

If you don’t already work with a financial advisor, consider booking a meeting with one. Reviewing your entire financial picture—debts and assets, insurance and investments, as well as budgets—is something that a professional can help you understand and offer strategies to improve.

Ramp-up savings.

Pare back expenses before making a home purchase. Why? Finalizing the deal on homeownership will include one-time expenses (closing costs and land transfer taxes, for starters) that need to be paid before move-in day. Homeownership will also bring new on-going expenses (such as property tax and utilities).

Subtract what you currently pay for housing from the estimated cost of living in the new home. Put the difference in a high-interest savings account. Here is a test: if you can make that payment every month, then you likely can afford the home you have your eye on. For tips on creative ways to save for a down payment go to read:

Consider help from family.

According to a recent Genworth Canada First-Time Homeownership Survey, first-time homebuyers in Toronto and Vancouver tend to have higher down payments than buyers in other parts of the country. That is due partly to larger savings of buyers in those areas, but also to larger gifts and loans from family.

A gift or loan from family can be a great help, but this is an arrangement that shouldn’t depend only on a hug and a handshake. Consider drawing up a contract spelling out the specifics of the deal.

How much money is being provided? Does it need to be paid back and, if so, when? If your family member will be sharing the home with you, how much will each of you be putting towards regular expenses, the down payment, or the closing costs? In whose names will the utility bills be set up, and whose name will be on the property title?

Hire a lawyer to do this paper work. That doesn’t have to involve many billable hours, especially if, before meeting the lawyer, you have an open conversation with your family and agree on answers to the above.

Another avenue worth exploring is the Genworth Canada Family Plan, which is meant to help another family member get into a home for a variety of reasons, including a parent who wishes to help an adult entrepreneurial child buy a home, or a parent helping to buy a home for an adult child at a post-secondary educational facility. With the Family Plan it’s important to note that the individual occupying the home must be on title to the property along with the co-applicant. This is not intended for use as a secondary dwelling. The down payment must be from their own resources, so gifts are ineligible.

Protect yourself

Although 35% of first-time homebuyers are buying on their own, many will partner up later.

If you start a relationship and allow another person to move into your home, that person may eventually have legal rights in relation to your home. How does that happen? If you live together long enough, you and your partner may become common-law spouses and that may trigger rights and responsibilities for you both.

When do you and your partner go from couple to common-law? The amount of time you spend living together is the main determining factor and varies from province to province.

How can first-time homeowners protect themselves? With an honest conversation about expectations and specific responsibilities. The main question is what will happen to the home if you split up? Consider a cohabitation agreement (again, with the help of a lawyer) to cover everything you agree to verbally.

Make sure to also outline the nitty-gritty details of day-to-day finances: how will you split the regular bills and when will they be paid? Which one of you will be responsible for making sure those payments are made on time? If there is a major expense, such as a roof repair or furnace replacement, will you both contribute?

For more tips on creative ways to save for a down payment go to www.homeownership.ca and speak with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

3 Apr

More Rates Now Hinge on Credit Scores

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

 


Never before has your credit score had such an impact on your mortgage rate.

Ever since the banking regulator (OSFI) jacked up capital requirements on default insurers, and linked its capital formula to credit scores, more and more securitizing lenders have:

a) set different rates for different credit score ranges; and/or

b) raised their minimum credit scores for given mortgage products.

At some lenders, borrowers with, say, a 640 credit score are offered rates that are 1/4 point worse than someone with a 750 score. Many retail channel lenders set their internal discounts based on credit scores as well.

On conventional mortgages, the magic number seems to be 720. On scores below that, lenders’ extra insurance costs start climbing more meaningfully, and some of them pass that through to borrowers.

It all means that we as an industry are going to have to better educate our clients about this trend—because, according to a recent TransUnion poll, many folks don’t get it.

Over half (56%) of credit card holders say they don’t even understand how their credit score is compiled.

And 4 in 10 borrowers don’t grasp the importance of making more than their minimum monthly payments.

Cardholders who pay more than the required minimum each month are less risky borrowers in general. And that shows up in their credit scores. And, while the credit bureaus don’t disclose their exact scoring algorithms, those formulas seem more sensitive than ever to debt utilization and payment timeliness.


Sidebar: 88% of Canadians regularly pay more towards their revolving debts than the minimum requirement.