29 Nov

MORTGAGE PRE-APPROVAL IS NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT (I CALL IT A “RATE HOLD”)

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Although going through the pre-approval process is more important than ever, the actual term ‘pre-approval’ is often misleading. It really addresses just a few variables that may arise once in the middle of an actual offer.

The pressure in many markets has never been greater to write a condition-free offer, yet due to recent changes to lending guidelines by the federal government, the importance of a clause in the contract along the lines of ‘subject to receiving and approving satisfactory financing’ has also never been greater. (There are variations to be discussed with your Realtor around the specific wording of such clauses.)

Often clients are reluctant to write the initial offer on a property without feeling like they are 100 percent pre-approved, an understandable desire. The risk is that many clients then falsely believe they have a 100 percent guarantee of financing, and this is not at all what a pre-approval is.

A lender must review all related documents, not just the client’s personal documents, but also those from the appraiser and the realtor as the property itself must meet certain standards and guidelines.

The pre-approval process should be considered a pre-screening process. It does involve review and analysis of the client’s current credit report, it should also include a list for the client of all documents that will be required in the event that an offer is written and accepted. Ideally, your Mortgage Broker will review all required documents in advance, but few lenders will review documents until there is an accepted offer in place.

Clients should come away from the initial process with a clear understanding of the maximum mortgage amount they qualify for along with the various related costs involved in their specific real estate transaction. Equally as important; a completed application allows the Mortgage Broker to lock in rates for up to 120 days.

Why won’t a lender fully review and underwrite a pre-approval?

  • Lenders do not have the staff resources to review ‘maybe’ applications – they have a hard enough time keeping up with ‘live’ transactions.
  • The job you have today may well not be the job you have by the time you write your offer. (ideally, you do not want to change jobs while house-shopping)
  • If more than four weeks pass then most of the documents are out of date by lender standards, and a fresh batch needs to be ordered and reviewed with the accepted offer.
  • The conversion rate of pre-approvals to ‘live transactions’ is less than 10 percent, and this alone prevents lenders from allocating resources to reviewing pre-approvals.

It is this last point in particular that makes it so difficult to get an underwriter to completely review a pre-approval application as a special exception. Nine out of ten times that underwriter is spending their time on something that will never actually happen.

The bottom line is that a client’s best bet for confidence before writing an offer is the educated and experienced opinion of the front-line individual with whom they are directly speaking, Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker. Although this individual will not be the same person that underwrites and formally approves the live transaction when the time comes, they likely have hundreds of files worth of experience behind them. That experience is valuable.

It is due to the disconnect between intake of application and actual lender underwriting a live file that having a ‘subject to receiving and approving satisfactory financing’ clause in the purchase sale agreement is so very important.

Without a doubt, the most significant factor in recent years which has undermined clients preapprovals is the relentless pace of government changes in lending guidelines and policies. Change implemented not only by the Government also by the lenders themselves. It is very easy to have a pre-approval for a certain mortgage amount rendered meaningless just a few days later through changes to internal underwriting guidelines. Often these changes arrive with no warning and existing pre-approvals are not grandfathered.

So, while it is absolutely worthwhile going through the pre-approval process before writing offers, and in particular, before listing your current property for sale it is most important to stay in constant contact with your Mortgage Broker during the shopping process.

Be aware that aside from the key advantage of catching small issues early and securing rates a pre-approval is NOT a 100 percent guarantee of financing.

If more than four weeks pass then most of the documents are out of date by lender standards, and a fresh batch needs to be ordered and reviewed with the accepted offer. The conversion rate of pre-approvals to ‘live transactions’ is less than 10 percent, and this alone prevents lenders from allocating resources to reviewing pre-approvals.

24 Nov

MORTGAGES AND PAPERWORK

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Paperwork-it’s a fact of life. You need it and we as mortgage professionals also need it. Below is a list of must-have documentation BEFORE you start going through the mortgage approval process.

Personal Information
This will be the basic information we require to start your mortgage process. It will include your age, marital status, and number and age of kids. For this first step, a divorce/separation agreement if you are going through a divorce or were previously divorced will also be required.

Employment Details
Your employment details will require more paperwork than your basic details. This will include:

  • Proof of income (T4 slips, job letter, paystubs, and/or personal income tax returns – T1 Generals)
  • Notice of Assessments from the last two years

If you are self-employed then you will also need to provide any incorporation documents, financial statements and submit full personal tax returns (T1 Generals) as well as a CRA Notice of Assessment (NOA) for both the corporation as well as you personally. If you don’t have these documents on hand or can’t find them, we highly recommend using a document service like Easy NOA. We have had clients use them with fantastic results and no hassle on your end. Check them out by visiting their website – easynoa.ca.

Other Income Sources

  • Typically, this is a statement on your part, but the lender might ask for more documentation.
    This may include:
  • Pension documentation and information
  • Rental income property income documentation
  • Part-time work paystub with job letter
  • Child Tax Benefit documentation
  • Child/Spousal support documentation
  • Investment Income documentation
  • Disability income documentation

Documentation of current property
If you already own a property, you will need to have a copy of your current mortgage statement on your current property and a copy of last year’s property tax statement. You may also be asked to provide the current year, up to date property tax statement.

Keep in mind that every person’s situation is unique and this list only outlines the traditional documents required to pursue your mortgage. For example, if you receive child support you will need to have proof of that (i.e. copy of your separation/divorce agreement and the last three months bank statements showing the payment of the child support to you) or if you have experienced bankruptcy you will need to provide a list of debts paid off with a copy of your bankruptcies discharge papers.

Again, we know that sometimes things get lost or misplaced (we have been there too!). If you find yourself scrambling to find one of these documents or another document that your mortgage broker has requested, a service like Easy NOA can have it delivered to your inbox within 24 hours. Having these documents on hand in preparation for going through the mortgage approval process will make the entire experience run much smoother—and make it an enjoyable one! If you have any questions, give your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist a call.

22 Nov

DOCUMENTS YOU NEED TO QUALIFY FOR A MORTGAGE

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Being fully pre-approved means that the lender has agreed to have you as a client (you have a pre-approval certificate) and the lender has reviewed, approved ALL your income and down payment documents (as listed below) prior to you going house hunting. Many bankers will say you’re approved, you go out shopping and then they sorry you’re not approved due to some factor. Get a pre-approval in writing! It should have your amount, rate, term, payment and date it expires.

Excited!
Of course you are, you are venturing into your first or possibly your next biggest loan application and investment of your life.

What documents are required to APPROVE your mortgage?

Being prepared with the RIGHT DOCUMENTS when you want to qualify your mortgage is HUGE; just like applying for a job or going for a job interview. Come prepared or don’t get hired (or in this case, declined).

Why is this important?

You can have a leg up on the competition when buying your dream home as you can have a very short timeline (ie: 1 day to confirm vs 5-7 days) for “financing subjects.”
Think? You’re the seller and you know the buyer doesn’t have to run around finding financing and the deal may fall apart? This is the #1 reason deals DO fall apart. You will likely get the home over someone who isn’t fully approved and has to have financing subjects. The home is yours and nobody’s time is wasted.

If you just walked into the bank, filled an application and gave little or no documents, and got a rate – you have a RATE HOLD. This is NOT a pre-approval. This guarantees nothing and you will be super stressed out when you put an offer in, have 5-7 days to remove financing subjects and you need to get any or all of the below documents. That’s not fun, is it? Use a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist ALWAYS. We don’t cost you anything!

When you get a full pre-approval, you as a person(s) are approved; ie: the bank’s done their work of reviewing (takes a few days) to call your employer, review your documents, etc. All we have to do is get the property approved, which takes a day or two. Much less stress, fastest approval…faster into your home!

Here are exactly the documents you MUST have (there is NO negotiation on these) to get your mortgage approved with ease.
The keyword here is EASE.
Banks/Lenders have to adhere to rules, audit files and if you don’t have any of these or haven’t been requested to supply them…a big FLAG that your mortgage approval might be in jeopardy and you will be running around like a crazy person two days before your financing subject removal.

Read carefully and note the details of each requirement to prevent you from pulling your hair out later.

Here is the list for the “average” T4 full-time working person with 5-15% as their down payment (there is more for self-employed, and part-time noted below):

Are you a Full-time Employee?

  1. Letter of Employment from your employer, on company letterhead, that states: when you started, how much you make per hour or salary, how many guaranteed hours per week and, if you’re new, is there a probation. You can request this from your manager or HR department. This is very normal request that HR gets for mortgages.
  2. Last 2 paystubs: must show all tax deductions, name of company and have your name on it.
  3. Any other income? Child Support, Long Term Disability, EI, Foster Care, part-time income? Bring anything that supports it. NOTE: if you are divorced/separated and paying support, bring your finalized separation/divorce agreement. With some lenders, we can request a statutory declaration from lawyer.
  4. Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency for the previous tax filed year. Can’t find it? You can request it from the CRA to send it to you by mail (give 4-6 weeks for it though) or get it online from your CRA account.
  5. T4’s for your previous year.
  6. 90-day history of bank statement showing the money you are using to put down on your purchase. Why 90 days? Unless you can prove you got the money either from a sale of a house, car or other immediate forms of money (receipt required)…saved money takes time and the rules from the banks/government is 90 days. They just want to make sure you aren’t a drug dealer, borrowed the money and put it in your account or other fraud issues. OWN SOURCES = 90 days. BORROWED is fine, but must be disclosed. GIFT is when mom/dad give you money. Once you have an approval for “own sources” you can’t decide to change your mind and do gifted or borrowed. That’s a whole new approval.

Down payments
Own Sources: For example for “own sources”: if you are a first-time buyer and your money is in RRSP’s then, have your last quarterly statement for the RRSP money. If your money is in three different savings account, you need to print off three months history with the beginning balance and end balance as of current. The account statements MUST have your NAME ON IT or it could be anyone’s account. I see this all the time. If it doesn’t print out with your name, print the summary page of your accounts. This usually has your name on it, list of your accounts and balances. Just think, the bank needs to see YOU have money in your (not your mom’s or grandparents) account.

GIFT: If mom/dad/grandparents are giving you money…then the bank needs to know this as the mortgage is submitted differently (this is called a GIFT).

If you are PART-TIME employee?
All of the above, except you will need to bring 3 years of Notice of Assessments. You need to be working for 2 years in the same job to use part-time income. You can have your Full-time job and have another part-time gig…you can use that income too (as long as it’s been 2 years).

If you are Self Employed?

  • 2 years of your T1 Generals with Statement of Business Activities
  • Statement of Business Activities.
  • 3 years of CRA Notice of Assessments
  • if incorporated: your incorporation license, articles of incorporation
  • 90-day history of bank statement showing the money you are using to put down on your purchase

Going to the bank direct is such a big disservice to you. That is like walking into Ford and asking for a Mercedes or Toyota. As a broker: I am FREE! I work with ALL the banks and know ALL the rules. The bank you choose pays me to give you great service and a fantastic product. There are over 300 of them…so don’t sell yourself short.

15 Nov

I’VE NEVER HEARD OF THAT LENDER BEFORE

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

One of the benefits of working with an independent mortgage professional; compared to getting your mortgage through a single institution, is choice. And as there are even more mortgage rules coming into place January 1st 2018, now more than ever, having access to a wide variety of mortgage products is going to ensure you get the mortgage that best suits your needs.

Working with an independent mortgage professional will give you access to varying products from many different lenders, some of these lenders you may have never even heard of, but that’s okay. Sure, RBC, BMO, and CIBC, are more household names compared to say, MCAP, RMG, or Merix Financial, but as each lender has a different appetite for risk (there is always a risk when lending money) how do you know which lender is going to have the products that are going to be the best fit for you?

Typically the conversation develops into something like this: “I’ve never heard of this lender before, are they safe, I mean… I have no idea who they are”? And although that is a valid question, there is a simple answer. Yes.
Yes they are safe. All the lenders we work with are reputable and governed by the same regulator as the big banks. Ultimately, you have their money, they don’t have yours!
But let’s answer a few of the common questions often asked about these lenders accessed only through an independent mortgage professional.

Why haven’t I heard of any of these lenders?
Instead of spending all their money on huge marketing campaigns (like the Canadian big banks) which drives up the cost of their product, broker channel lenders rely on competitive products and independent mortgage professionals to secure new clients.

What happens if my lender gets purchased by another lender?
This actually happens quite a bit, however, it’s business as usual for you. Even if your mortgage contract gets sold, the terms of your mortgage stay intact and nothing changes for you.

What happens if my lender goes bankrupt or is no longer lending at the end of my term?
This would be the same as if the lender was purchased by another lender. The only difference is, at the end of your term, we would have to find another lender to place your next term. And as this is already good practice, it’s business as usual. Again, you have their money, they don’t have yours. The contract would stay in force.

Why don’t these lenders have physical locations?
Much like why you haven’t heard of these lenders, they save the money on advertising and infrastructure and instead focus on creating unique products to give their clients more choice. These lenders rely on independent mortgage professionals for awareness and compete on product, not public awareness.

Do they really have better products?
Yes. Well, I guess we have to define what is meant by better products. If by better products you mean a variety of products that suit different individuals differently, then yes. Across the board, each lender has a different appetite for a different kind of risk. For example, while one lender might not include child tax income as part of your regular income, another might. While one lender might look favourably on a certain condo development, another might not. Each lender sees things a little differently. Knowing the products and preferences of each lender is what we do!

When it comes to mortgage qualification, some broker channel lenders are more flexible than others (or the banks) and offer different programs that cater to self-employed, people who are retired, own multiple properties, or rely on disability income. While as it relates to the features of the mortgage, different lenders offer many different features.

Some mortgages can be paid off at an accelerated pace with little to no penalty, some accommodate different payment structure, some products are set at a lower rate, but sacrifice flexibility.

At the end of the day, the goal should be to qualify for a mortgage that has the features that suit your individual needs. Regardless of which lender that is. If you would like to talk about your financial situation and see which lender best suits your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

14 Nov

UNDERSTANDING HOW BRIDGE FINANCING WORKS

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

Sometimes in life, things don’t always go as planned. This could not be truer than in the world of Real Estate.
For instance, let’s say that you have just sold your home and purchased a new home. The thought was to use the proceeds of the sale of your house as the down payment for the new purchase. However, your new purchase closes on June 30th and the sale of your existing house doesn’t close until July 15th—Uh-Oh! This is where Bridge Financing can be used to ‘bridge the gap’.

Bridge Financing is a short-term financing on the down payment that assists purchases to ‘bridge’ the gap between an old mortgage and a new mortgage. It helps to get you out of a sticky situation like the one above and has a few minimal fees associated with it.

The cost of a Bridge Loan is comprised of two parts. The first is the interest rate that you will be charged on the amount of funds that you are borrowing. This will be based on the Prime Rate and will vary from lender to lender. As a rule, you can expect to pay Prime plus 2.5%. The second cost to consider is an administration fee. Again, this will vary depending on the lender and can range from $200-$695.

The amount that you are able to borrow is easily calculated. The calculation looks like this:

Sale price
(less) estimated closing costs of 7%
(less) new mortgage of the purchase property

=Bridge Financing.

*Note: the closing costs included the expense of realtor commissions, property transfer tax, title insurance, legal fees and appraisal costs if applicable*

So that’s the cost side of things, now the next question is: how long? The length of time that you can have Bridge Financing is going to vary again from lender to lender as well as with what province you are in. For most, it is in the range of 30-90 days but there are some lenders that will go up to 120 days in certain cases.

Before applying for Bridge Financing, you must also have certain documents at the ready to present. These documents include the following:

1. A firm contract of purchase and sale with a copy of the signed and dated subject removal on the property that you are selling and the property that you are purchasing.
2. An MLS listing of the property being sold and purchased.
3. A copy of your current mortgage statement.
4. All other lender requested docs to satisfy the new mortgage on the upcoming purchase.

Once you have those documents, you can work with a qualified mortgage broker to apply for bridge financing. It is an important tool to understand and a great one to have in your back pocket for when life throws you one of those ‘curve balls’. You can have peace of mind knowing that if/when that situation arises, you are not without a strong option that can provide you with interim financing for minimal cost.

As always, if you have any questions about Bridge Financing or any questions about your mortgage (be it new or old) contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker. We are well-versed in all things mortgage-related and can help come up with creative, cost-effective solutions for you.

5 Nov

As a Mortgage Expert …

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

As a Mortgage Expert, I have historically built “Mortgage Plans” around every client’s “personal stress-test“, rather than by how an institution simply wants to lend our clients. How much the institution will lend a borrower may not always be a reflection of what my client’s budget can truly manage.
I feel it is very important to understand a borrowers personal financial ambition, expectations, obligations, and future goals first, before determining the appropriate budget or cash flow that resonates with them and their families.

As of January 1, 2018, the federal mortgage regulators are chiming in and are setting a new minimum qualifying interest rate for uninsured mortgages. This effectively means that any mortgage at 80% of the properties value or less, will now be subject to a new stress test. This new federal requirement is a personal budget hedge in the event that mortgage rates were to rise by about 2% in the next 3-5 years, which I personally feel is highly unlikely. If they did increase that dramatically, we would have much larger economic challenges to deal with, compared to simply making monthly mortgage payments.

Despite the fact that you may have 20% down payment or are refinancing to 80% loan to value or less, lenders will now have to calculate your mortgage payment as if your interest rate was at approximately 5%-6%, (even though today’s actual 5 year fixed mortgage rate can be as low as 2.99% on qualified, insurable purchases). Similar rules were already introduced in October 2016 for all buyers who did not have 20% downpayment. Simply put, this now means that there are no longer any mortgage underwriting advantages for buyers with a 20% down payment.

Now, moving forward, when applying for a mortgage, assets or cash wealth/equity really mean nothing. One must clearly demonstrate they can manage all of their monthly obligations should interest rates rise by about 2%, regardless of how large their down payment or equity position may be.
No exceptions.

I have estimated that in the GTA these new rules will affect 1-in-6 homebuyers.
For example, let’s look at a household with an annual income of $150,000 combined, annual property taxes of $5000, a heating cost of $100 monthly, amortized over 30 years with $0 unsecured debt and using a 5 year fixed rate of 3.59% for a refinance.
On November 5, 2017 that household can qualify for a maximum mortgage of $769,638.42.
As of January 1, 2018 that household can qualify for a maximum mortgage of $611,732.79.
Essentially, a haircut of $157,914.63 or a decrease of 20.51%.

Again, as your personal Mortgage Expert, my top priority is that my borrowers are 100% comfortable with their own “personal stress test” despite any federal mortgage rule changes.
Please remember that a mortgage lender is the supplier of funds, and not necessarily a neutral advisor. In general, they want to lend out as much money as possible rather than to address your “personal stress test“.

Plase feel free to reach out to me anytime to learn more about how to design the right mortgage plan for your own personal financial tolerance.

Chat soon,
Brad Lockey, Mortgage Expert
416-518-7476
mortgages@bradlockey.ca

2 Nov

The New “Mortgage” Normal

General

Posted by: Brad Lockey

’Tis the season… this was no surprise here!
The latest round of mortgage guidelines has been announced by OSFI, or Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
As of January 1, 2018, all conventional or uninsured mortgages will have to qualify at the Bank of Canada 5-year fixed rate or the contractual rate + 2%, whatever is greater.

What does this mean?

1) Nothing for anyone wanting to renew or buy real estate with less than 20% down.
2) But anyone wanting to access their equity might just have to consider a slightly lower amount. And those wanting to purchase real estate with 20%+ down may need to adjust their expectations or relocate their search area.
Regardless of your scenario, there will still be options to exercise.

The next question on many people’s minds is how will this affect prices?
Based on historical data, I predict that there will be very little decrease in prices. Most people thought the ‘bubble’ was going to burst. Most comments were, “It just has to, how can prices continue to increase?”
Some market segments will experience a slight softening, but nothing drastic.

Here is a historical list of changes issued by OSFI since 2006.
Did any of them bring prices down?

2006
Maximum amortization 40 years;
100% financing, 0% down payment;

2008
Maximum amortization 35 years;
Maximum 95% financing, minimum 5% down payment required;

2011
Maximum amortization 30 years;
Refinance maximum 85% of the market value;

2012
Maximum amortization 25 years;
Refinance maximum 80% of the market value;

2015
Minimum down payment – 5% of the first $500,000 and 10% on the portion remaining;
If mortgage insurance is required, then the maximum purchase price of the owner-occupied home is $999,999.99;

2016
Qualification rate increases to Bank of Canada benchmark rate for all insurable files (less than 20% down);

2017
Conventional (20% down or greater) stress test increases to contract rate plus 200 basis points (2%) or the Bank of Canada benchmark rate, whichever is greater;

2018
What will happen in 2018?

There is no need to slam your fist on the panic button. This is simply the new normal for mortgage finance consumers. The sun will still rise in the east and set in the west. The earth will continue to rotate in a counterclockwise direction. People will still buy and sell real estate. Those consumers with available equity will still have access to it and borrowers will still renew existing mortgages. If you are receiving or buying into “the world is ending” type information, please look away… it’s wrong and misleading.
Nothing changes.
If you are worried about things you cannot control, stop it!
If you are going to put any energy into something, I would recommend building a bulletproof personal borrowing profile. More than ever it’s vitally important to have AAA credit, minimal-to-zero consumer debt and strong reliable income and savings. If you start with that, I can assure you everything will be OK!
If you have any plans to become an active mortgage consumer, start looking at your options now as some lenders will adopt the new rules before January 1, 2018. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Brad Lockey
416-518-7476
mortgages@bradlockey.ca