28 Jun

PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Every year since October 2008 it’s become more and more difficult to obtain a mortgage. The government claims to be casting a safety net over the Canadian housing industry via stiffer mortgage regulations. What do you need to know to help prepare yourself for a home purchase, refinance, debt consolidation, or even a simple renewal? Well, the biggest item I cover on a daily basis is preparation.

It can take a client weeks or months to find the confidence to connect with a Mortgage Professional once they feel confident that they ready to obtain that next mortgage. Any Mortgage Professional worth their salt will be able to guide their clientele to prepare them properly for the mortgage.

Typically most people think they need to prepare themselves most for their first purchase, however preparing for each mortgage these days is more critical today than ever before. When Canadians finally make that call, they want a step by step process to solve their solutions in an easy manner but are seldom prepared to proceed.

During my regular daily routine, I follow up with my clients with gentle reminders to send me the requested documentation list. Having done this for ten years, the process is quite similar for almost each individual even though the main list of documentation remains the same.

We all want to take short cuts to get to the finished product, but in the end, the banks and lenders have become governed so much so that the shortcuts are almost non-existent, therefore, preparing the proper document package is essential to an essential mortgage. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently in an interview I watched on Facebook, we need to stop taking and thinking about shortcuts. There aren’t any that lead to success.

What I’m getting at here is that when your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional provides you with a mortgage document checklist, please don’t take it for granted, please follow each and every step carefully.

In general, the most common documents required are dependent on what you do for work. So if you are an employee, then the most recent paystub, and an updated employment letter along with the most recent two years of T-Slips (whether they are T4’s from employer’s, T5’s and pension slips), T1 Generals -the entire document (the documents your accountant prepares to submit to Canada Revenue Agency), Notice of Assessments (the form you receive back from CRA after your file is completed). Then there will be the verification of down payment via 90 days of bank statements, any mortgage statements, property tax assessments and the list can go one. The most common mistake is providing a mix and match of the above documents to try and piece together your income story. Depending on how your income is structured, we may be able to provide you with a near pre-qualification but lenders are being more adamant of having the documentation upfront, so that they are using their time, along with the mortgage insurer’s time. As a rule of thumb, the cleaner the file, the easier it is to underwrite and make a proper decision.

Common mistakes include missing pages from tax documents, poorly written, unsigned, undated, missing info on employment letters (handwritten ones draw huge red flags), cut off pages from documents, outdated items(paystubs and employment letters over 30-60 days is pretty much null and void these days).

You may not know how to prepare yourself, but that’s also what we are for. We are essentially mortgage guidance counselors to help prepare you for mortgage success, but if we are trying to obtain a mortgage via shortcuts, you’ll be upset with how the process goes.

We all used to have more leeway with mortgage documentation, but it’s clear the government is having banks and lenders scrutinize every mortgage more carefully now than ever before. And the banks and lenders have to oblige as they will be audited, if they don’t pass audits, then they lose out. And if they lose out, we lose competition. Yes this is the new normal, yes it’s tiring, no we don’t like it either, but it’s our new reality. And realistically, is gathering a few extra documents really that bad? Mortgages are not a given right and earned more so than ever before in our recent history.

Our job is to help you prepare for the mortgage, sometimes it will take one meeting, sometimes it’ll take weeks or months, even years depending on your own personal financial situation. But we can provide the recipe to help you prepare, but it’s up to you to do the cooking.

26 Jun

KEEPING YOUR ECONOMIC FUTURE ON THE RIGHT PATH

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Most working Canadians have an income range in the middle class.
This income class includes teachers, firefighters, plumbers, engineers, nurses, construction managers and chefs – workers from across the economic spectrum. They provide and consume the bulk of services that keep society afloat, driving economic growth and investment with every purchase.
The middle class also has great challenges. Wages have been stagnant and the cost of housing and everyday goods puts a squeeze on the average budget, leaving six out of 10 Canadians living paycheque-to-paycheque with most accumulating debt.
In part, this has to do with everyday life and the growing demands on our set of unique challenges. However, we need to “control the controllables” and be smart and strategic to get ahead.

Here are some tips to keep your economic future on the right path:
1. Spend within your means.
Most people keep a balance at months end on their credit cards and lines of credit – some out of necessity, but some by choice because they want to keep up with the Joneses or fill an emotional void. If you are trying to get ahead financially, ask yourself what your plan is to get rid of that debt? It should not be something that is with you to carry over a balance. It’s time to assess your lifestyle and how you are using your home equity and the market to your advantage if you own a home. Holding the debt is a costly mistake- most debts outside a mortgage range from more than five per cent to 19 per cent. Credit is an important part of life and you need it. The biggest life hack is to pay it in full every month with an auto setup payment – this one strategy saves costs, debt and stress.

2. An emergency fund is a must.
Ask yourself this, what would happen right now if your car broke down, your house needs a new roof, or you lost your job? Most Canadians would have to go to credit cards or lines of credit.
You need six months of expenses put aside, period. If you don’t have this you will begin a cycle of debt. There are ways to do this automatic withdrawal into an account from your paycheque or when your mortgage renewal is up.

3. Giving your retirement a raise and start in high school.
Consider how long wages have felt stagnant while the cost of everything goes up. When you are young and your wages go up, increase your retirement contribution. Get compound interest working for you. Time is your friend. By saving a percentage automatically by paying yourself first, your investment grows your options. There are tax-free savings accounts and RRSP’s that will begin the foundation of your financial future. It should start from the moment you get your first job, then when you fast forward through your 20s to 50s, your investment doesn’t have to be as large. Life will throw you enough challenges at that time to deal with, and you already have time and compound interest working for you, and you are in front of it, not chasing to catch up.

4. Relying on RRSP’s, OAS and CPP.
Contributing to tax-advantaged products are one component of investing, but they have restrictions. Also, government future income plans are always going to be changing. Having a proactive mortgage and finance plan will allow you to get your assets working for you, so you can have multiple streams of income. Being self-sufficient is empowering, then if and when the other options are still available and advantageous, they are a bonus and you are in control based on your proactive abilities.
5. Spending too much on depreciating assets.
The average Canadian spends $570 a month on a new car payment. This can go up to as much as $1,400 per month- that’s just for the car, not insurance, gas, or maintenance. The problem is that it’s a depreciating asset. To put it into perspective, that range in payment takes away qualification for a whopping $150,000 to $400,000 in mortgage amount qualification. So for someone in the middle class who intends to buy a home, which is an appreciating asset, the car payment should be the absolute lowest priority and should be avoided whenever possible. Think of the power you could have saving that kind of money or having it in an income-generating asset.

6. Having a will and keeping it current.
Your will should include your up-to-date investments, insurance policies, real estate and family gems. With life happening so quickly, it’s easy to have a few stages fly by, but then things can get messy. You don’t want your hard-earned money in the hands of anyone but whom it’s intended for.

It’s never a bad idea to speak to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist if you have a question.

12 Jun

INDUSTRY TERMS EXPLAINED

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Many of us will remember the television show, Mork and Mindy.

Imagine that you have just moved to Canada and you overhear a conversation, “ I was watching NBC and they said that the FBI arrested a criminal at IGA.”

You probably wouldn’t understand what they said because we all use acronyms. We often replace the long descriptions for many organizations, institutions and government bodies with the initials or short forms in conversations. The show was based on Mork, an alien, misunderstanding terms, expressions and common traditions that we have in our society. It made for a funny show but it’s not so funny if you are new to Canada or want to make the largest purchase in your life.

Imagine this same person speaking to a realtor or a mortgage broker when they started using abbreviations for words used in their industry. As a public service to any of you who may have recently arrived from a foreign county or another planet, I am going to define a few expressions that we all take for granted.

 

AMORTIZATION – How long you have to pay off the mortgage on a home. Typically in Canada you have 25 years. In Japan it can be 99 years. Payments are spread out equally over the specified time period. If they were not, you would have huge payments in the first few years and very small ones in the last 6 months of your mortgage term.

DOWN –  short for down payment. A deposit of 5% minimum is required for a home purchase.

FLEX DOWN – a borrowed down payment program, where the repayment of the loan is included in the debt calculations.

PULL – “He pulled my credit before the loan approval “ – a pull is a credit bureau report inquiry.

TRADE LINES –  a trade line is a credit card or cellphone account, a loan or mortgage that appears on your credit report.

DEROGS – short for derogatory, referring to late payments on your credit report.

20/20 – refer to your ability to repay 20% of the mortgage balance or increase your payment by 20% without incurring a penalty.

MIC – short for a Mortgage Investment Corporation – a group of investors who will lend you the money for a mortgage if a traditional lender will not due to unusual circumstances.

TERM – although mortgages have 25 year amortizations, Canadians traditionally take terms of 1- 5 years and then renegotiate their mortgages. 1-5 years is the TERM.

DEFAULT – failing to pay your mortgage on time puts your mortgage into DEFAULT

FORECLOSESURE – If your mortgage is in default you can make your payments up or the lender will put your home in FORECLOSEURE and you will lose your home.

OPEN MORTGAGE – a mortgage where you can pay out the mortgage at any time during the term.

CLOSED MORTGAGE –a mortgage where you have agreed to pay the lender for a specified period of time . If you wish to terminate the mortgage, a penalty will have to be paid.

PIT – principal, interest and taxes – an amount used to calculate how much you can afford to pay monthly on your home.  Often heat is also included in this calculation (PITH) .

HIGH RATIO – a mortgage where the buyer has less than 20% for the down payment and needs to pay CMHC fees to insure it.

CONVENTIONAL – a mortgage where the buyer has 20% or more down payment or equity in their home.

While I have not covered all the terms you may encounter I hope that I have covered most of them.

If you find yourself talking to a mortgage broker who is using business expressions you should feel free to remind them that you are not in the industry and would like to the terms explained. Any broker worth their salt will be very happy to explain these terms to you. There are many Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals who are more than happy to answer your questions.

5 Jun

“MR. MORTGAGE BROKER, PLEASE GIVE ME THE BEST RATE!”

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

In the past, it was easy to give our clients the best mortgage rate available. Unfortunately, new government regulations have created a fragmentation of interest rates that make “giving you our best rate,” more complex.
It’s important to distinguish between what is “insurable” and “uninsurable.” An “insurable” mortgage is approved at 25 years amortization and at a higher rate than what a borrower would actually be paying (called the qualification rate – at time of this article, it is 4.64%). An uninsurable mortgage is any refinance, mortgage on rental properties, mortgages approved at 30 years amortization, and properties worth more than $1 million.
Below is some information that outlines which scenarios allow you to get the best interest rate available, and what type of lender can provide these rates.
Please note: I am assuming average to above average credit in the scenarios below.

Best Rates – Monoline Lenders
Insured Mortgages
• On all purchases with less than 20% down payment, insurance is mandatory
• On purchases with 20% down payment or more, insurance may also be obtained
The absolute best rates are for mortgages that are insured by one of the three Canadian mortgage insurance companies: CMHC, Genworth or Canada Guarantee. When your mortgage is insured, the insurance company steps in to pay your monthly mortgage payments to the lender if you don’t pay. An insured mortgage is inherently a lower risk for the lender than a mortgage that is not insured.

Great to Best Rates – Monoline Lenders
Insurable, low loan to value Mortgages
• You have a large down payment
• Your mortgage is for a purchase on a property under $1 million in value
• Your mortgage is approved at 25 years amortization at 4.64%
When your mortgage can be insured, Monoline lenders take it upon themselves to insure your mortgage for you, making the mortgage less risky to them so that they can provide you with the lowest rates. However, insurance costs for lenders increase with mortgage loan to value. This increase in insurance cost is transferred to you, the borrower, providing you with slightly higher interest rates.

Good to Great Rates – Banks and Credit Unions
Uninsurable Mortgages or insurable, high loan-to-value Mortgages
• On refinances
• On mortgages that require 30-years amortization
• On mortgages where properties are over $1 million in value
For uninsurable mortgages, our normal go-to lenders have higher interest rates because they are forced to insure their mortgages, making them pass the extra costs to you, the borrower. On the other hand, banks and credit unions are not required to insure their mortgages, making them the best fit for higher loan-to-value mortgages.

Good Rates – Monoline Lenders, Banks, and Credit Unions
Rental properties and stated income
• Rental properties
• Stated Income
Most lenders will increase your interest rate on rental properties because they see these mortgages as having a higher risk than ones on owner occupied homes. Also, lenders may also increase interest rate for self-employed individuals who need to prove a higher income than what they have stated on their tax returns.

Highest Rates – Private Lenders
Mortgages that cannot be approved through regular lenders
• Stated Income B Side
• Equity Mortgages
When a stated income cannot be insured, lenders increase their interest rate to offset the risk of someone who cannot prove their income. An equity mortgage is one where a client has down payment or equity but no income shown. Lenders look at these files as having the highest risk.

Call a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today to see how we can help you get the best interest rate on your mortgage so you can buy your dream home!