31 Aug

Building a New Home? Completion vs. Draw Mortgages


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

If you are considering building a new home, then you need to be educated on the difference between draw and completion mortgages. When you meet with a builder, there is tons of terminology and information you should be aware of so you are properly covered.

Completion mortgage means that the builder does not expect any funds until you take possession of your new home. Before the building process begins, you will have to go to your mortgage professional to get your application verified for the build to start. The benefits of this option are that you don’t have to put down any payments before you take possession, you can add upgrades to the mortgage, and the lender doesn’t require all final information from you until 30 days before you take possession. During this build process you will want to take extra care of your finances to ensure nothing changes, which could put your initial approval in jeopardy. Any changes that could possibly change your financial position and your credit should be discussed with your mortgage professional. This can include things like switching jobs, buying a car, and taking out any new loan.

A draw mortgage is preferred by home builders because it allows them to receive portions of funds during predetermined stages of the build process. To obtain a draw mortgage, the beginning process is the same and you will have to go to your lender to be verified for the build to begin. The benefits of this option are that the builder is able to manage their cash flow, inspectors are sent to verify stages of development are met, and funds sent to the builder are handled through a lawyer. There are some extra costs associated with this option though. Inspections will incur a cost upon each stage met and interest payments may be incurred as well. You also do not have the option to add upgrades throughout the build process with a draw mortgage as the first advance sets the loan in stone.

As always, if you would like to discuss draw and completion mortgages in preparation for your new build contact us at Dominion Lending Centres! We are happy to help you figure out your financial future.


Alim Charania

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

28 Aug

A Reverse Mortgage – What is it and is it right for you?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

As the average age of our Canadian population gets older (according to Employment and Social Development Canada, our country currently has over 5 million people over 65 years old), it is no doubt that you or your loved one may be faced with growing concerns about the ability to live life without financial constraints or difficulties. It may be mounting medical expenses or the limitations of living within a fixed income, or carrying debt load into retirement.

On the other hand, it may be the time to enjoy travelling or helping out grandchildren with university tuition, even the purchase of a home in sunnier climes. Perhaps it’s time to enjoy an active retirement and downsize into a smaller home!

Whatever the situation may be, a Reverse Mortgage might just be the perfect fit for you to find that extra income you hold in your home.


A Reverse Mortgage is a loan secured against the value of your home.

Unlike a loan or a regular mortgage, with this type of mortgage, you are not required to make payments. You only repay the loan when you move or sell your home.

A Reverse Mortgage is a means for homeowners, aged 55 years or older, to access a portion of the stored value in their home to use today while still retaining ownership. In effect, converting the equity to cash, which can be received in a lump sum payment, regular payments or a combination of the two.


  • Payments from a reverse mortgage are tax-­â€free income.
  • There are no payments to make as long as you or your spouse lives in your home. The principal and interest are only due when your home is either sold or you move out..
  • The freedom to eliminate monthly payments can be a benefit for stretched budgets.
  • You can repay the loan at any time.
  • If the investment market takes a downturn, a reverse mortgage could fill the gap until your investments stabilize or reach maturity.
  • The amount you owe can never exceed the value of your property.

Advantages of Revers Mortgages Continued…

* You and your beneficiaries will not be responsible for any shortfall if interest rates increase and housing values drop.

* Interest paid on the reverse mortgage is tax deductible if the proceeds were used to earn investment income


Mr. and Mrs. Walsh 82 and 78 years old, found that the townhome they were in no longer suited them as Mr. Walsh has deteriorating health and was having trouble managing the stairs. They were ready to find a nice little condo to settle into.


Mr. and Mrs. Walsh had some concerns, as, now that they were on pensions, they were unable to qualify for the difference they needed. They owned a $400,000 townhouse with a $250,000 mortgage.


Sold their current home for $400,000.

Purchased a $230,000 condo with a $125,000 down payment, proceeds of which were from the sale.

They got a $105,000 CHIP Reverse Mortgage on the new property to cover the difference.

  • No income
  • No credit requirements and most of all no payments for as long as they live in their home
  • If one partner passes away, nothing changes
  • Provides them with complete control over their home and with peace of mind and living life on their terms!

There are some out of pocket costs associated with setting up this type of mortgage (Appraisal and legal advice) with the set up fees coming out of the proceeds of the loan. The interest rate is a bit higher than if you were purchasing a home but still competitive with variable or fixed rate options available.

Unlocking the value in your home with a Reverse Mortgage may just be the answer to bring you peace and security in your financial health. As always, get professional advice from Dominion Lending Centres so we can help you determine whether or not this product is right for you!


Jordan Thomson

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

27 Aug

What is a “Gifted” Down-Payment?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

A “Gifted” Down Payment is very common for first time buyers. Essentially, a buyer’s family member (usually very nice, warm and loving parents) will offer up money to go towards the down payment. Often this is done because their son or daughter doesn’t quite have enough funds saved up for the full 5% down payment. Or, because they want to make sure their child has enough money to make up 20% for a down payment to avoid CMHC premiums.

All that is required for documentation is a signed Gift Letter from the parents, which simply states that the money does not have to be re-paid, and a snapshot of the son or daughter’s bank account showing that the gifted funds have actually been transferred.

A gifted down payment is viewed as an acceptable form of down payment by almost all lenders. Talk to your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional to make sure that your lender accepts “gifts” as an acceptable down payment.


Jeff Ingram

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

26 Aug

Purchase Plus Improvements


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

With 80% loan-to-value being the maximum you are now able to refinance your property, property for values increasing at a slower rate, and 25 years being the maximum amortization on high ratio deals, it’s not as easy as it once was to simply refinance and pull some money out of a home when it’s time for some upgrades.

In addition to the above, it seems that many of the new homes being developed lack a decent sized yard for the average family to live in and enjoy. Many of my clients are facing the dilemma of buying a new home with all the bells and whistles, but a lackluster yard or, purchase an older home with a yard that their kids and pets can enjoy, but face the reality of having to upgrade or renovate the home they purchase.

The Purchase Plus Improvements mortgage is a great option for many people in this situation. They get credit for the increased home value right off the bat, they get their money at a great interest rate, and they get to complete the upgrades right away and live in the home they really want!

Here’s how the program works:

* The amount allowed for improvements is typically 10% -20% of the purchase price, or up to $40,000 maximum. The money is to be used for “improvements” or “upgrades”, not necessary repairs like leaks or structure issues. It also must be for something that adds value to the home, not a chattel like appliances.

* You need to get quotes for the cost of the improvements that you wish to complete. Add the amount of the quote(s) to the purchase price, and this becomes the “value” of the home that the lender considers. The down payment is now based on this new higher value as well.

* The mortgage is funded based on the contractual price, but the money to be used for improvements is held at the solicitor’s office until the work is complete.

* The work can be done by yourself or a company/contractor, but sweat labor is not something that can be reimbursed for. If you do the work yourself, only the cost of the materials is released. If a contractor or company does the work, simply provide the invoice and they will be reimbursed directly for the full amount.

* An inspection report from an appraiser is required when all is done so the lender can confirm that the said work was completed and is of good quality.

* If the final costs end up being less than expected, the left over money is applied back against the mortgage.

This program is available at the best rates, both fixed and variable, and may help to make it easier for you to decide which home is best for your family.

Think this program might work for you or someone you know? Call your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker for further details!


Jeff Ingram

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional


*** FYI – Home Improvements of $15,000 or less do not require a follow-up inspection.

26 Aug

The 10 Dont’s of Mortgage Closing


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Okay, so here we are… we have worked together to secure financing for your mortgage. You are getting a great rate, favourable terms that meet your mortgage goals, the lender is satisfied with all the supporting documents, we are broker complete, and the only thing left to do is wait for the day the lawyers advance the funds for the mortgage.

Here is a list of things you should NEVER do in the time between your financing complete date (when everything is setup and looks good) and your closing date (the day the lender actually advances funds).

Never make changes to your financial situation without first consulting me. Changes to your financial situation before your mortgage closes could actually cause your mortgage to be declined.

So without delay, here are the 10 Don’ts of Mortgage Closing… inspired by real life situations.

1. Don’t quit your job.

This might sound obvious, but if you quit your job we will have to report this change in employment status to the lender. From there you will be required to support your mortgage application with your new employment details. Even if you have taken on a new job that pays twice as much in the same industry, there still might be a probationary period and the lender might not feel comfortable with proceeding.

If you are thinking of making changes to your employment status… contact me first, it might be alright to proceed, but then again it might just be best to wait until your mortgage closes! Let’s talk it out.

2. Don’t do anything that would reduce your income.

Kind of like point one, don’t change your status at your existing employer. Getting a raise is fine, but dropping from Full Time to Part Time status is not a good idea. The reduced income will change your debt service ratios on your application and you might not qualify.

3. Don’t apply for new credit.

I realize that you are excited to get your new house, especially if this is your first house, however now is not the time to go shopping on credit or take out new credit cards. So if you find yourself at the Brick, shopping for new furniture and they want you to finance your purchase right now… don’t. By applying for new credit and taking out new credit, you can jeopardize your mortgage.

4. Don’t get rid of existing credit.

Okay, in the same way that it’s not a good idea to take on new credit, it’s best not to close any existing credit either. The lender has agreed to lend you the money for a mortgage based on your current financial situation and this includes the strength of your credit profile. Mortgage lenders and insurers have a minimum credit profile required to lend you money. If you close active accounts, you could fall into an unacceptable credit situation.

5. Don’t co-sign for a loan or mortgage for someone else.

You may have the best intentions in the world, but if you co-sign for any type of debt for someone else, you are 100% responsible for the full payments incurred on that loan. This extra debt is added to your expenses and may throw your ratios out of line.

6. Don’t stop paying your bills.

Although this is still good advice for people purchasing homes, it is more often an issue in a refinance situation. If we are just waiting on the proceeds of a refinance in order to consolidate some of your debts, you must continue making your payments as scheduled. If you choose not to make your payments, it will reflect on your credit bureau and it could impact your ability to get your mortgage. Best advice is to continue making all your payments until the refinance has gone through and your balances have been brought to zero.

7. Don’t spend your closing costs.

Typically the lender wants to see you with 1.5% saved up to cover closing costs… this money is used to cover the expense of closing your mortgage, like paying your lawyer for their services. You might think that because you shouldn’t take out new credit to buy furniture, you can use this money instead. Bad idea. If you don’t pay the lawyer… you aren’t getting your house, and the furniture will have to be delivered curb side. And it’s cold in Canada!

8. Don’t change your real estate purchase contract.

Often times when you are purchasing a property there will be things that show up after the fact on an inspection and you might want to make changes to the contract. Although not a huge deal, it can make a difference for financing. So if financing is complete, it is best practice to check with me before you go and make any changes to the purchase contract.

9. Don’t list your property for sale.

If we have set up a refinance for your property and your goal is to eventually sell it… wait until the funds have been advanced before listing it. Why would a lender want to lend you money on a mortgage when you are clearly going to sell right away (even if we arranged a short term)?

10. Don’t accept unsolicited mortgage advice from unlicensed or unqualified individuals.

Although this point is least likely to impact the approval of your mortgage status, it is frustrating when people, who don’t have the first clue about your unique situation, give you unsolicited advice about what you should do with your mortgage, making you second guess yourself.

Now, if you have any questions at all, I am more than happy to discuss them with you. I am a mortgage professional and I help my Dominion Lending Centres clients finance property every day. I know the unique in’s and out’s, do’s and don’ts of mortgages. Placing a lot of value on unsolicited mortgage advice from a non-licensed person doesn’t make a lot of sense and might lead you to make some of the mistakes as listed in the 9 previous points!

So in summary, the only thing you should do while you are waiting for the advance of your mortgage funds is to continue living your life like you have been living it! Keep going to work and paying your bills on time!

Now… what about after your mortgage has funded?

You are now free to do whatever you like! Go ahead… quit your job, go to part time status, apply for new credit to buy a couch and 78″ TV, close your credit cards, co-sign for a mortgage, sell your place, or soak in as much unsolicited advice as you want! It’s up to you!

But just make sure your mortgage has funded first.

Also it is good to note, if you do quit your job, make sure you have enough cash on hand to continue making your mortgage payments! The funny thing about mortgages is, if you don’t make your payments, the lender will take your property and sell it to someone else and you will be left on that curbside couch.

Obviously, if you have any questions, please get in touch with us here at Dominion Lending Centres!


Michael Hallett

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

26 Aug

That “Discounted Rate” May Not Be So Discounted, After All!


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Not long ago, someone contacted us wishing to refinance their mortgage. They presently held a mortgage from one of the big banks. When this homeowner originally obtained her mortgage, the bank offered her a discounted rate of 2.99%. It matured in July of 2016, however, when they contacted us at Dominion Lending Centres, they wanted to refinance to improve their cash flow because of recent major renovations. The mortgage was over $600,000.

At first thought, an Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty might seem to be so small because of the effective rate of 2.99%, that only a 3 month penalty would apply to break their existing mortgage. Wrong. Because the rate for the original mortgage was discounted from 4.64%, 4.64% was used when calculating the IRD penalty. So, instead of paying $5,157 dollars, the client was told they had to pay over $23,000 in order to break their mortgage with the bank.

A mortgage broker-channel lender, and there are many, uses the contract, or effective rate, when they calculate the IRD penalty on fixed rate mortgages, unlike the banks. Because they use the actual contract rate, the penalty would have been the lower one in the example above. An amortization scenario would determine if breaking the existing mortgage would be worth it by seeing the crossover point in time for making up the difference in savings. In the case above, it was not worth breaking, and the client had to wait until their mortgage matured.

The banks have, in recent years, implemented a new way of registering mortgages to assist in these situations. They often now register the loan as a collateral charge loan rather than a mortgage. This allows the bank to refinance the home loan on a house without a penalty if the client needs extra cash in the future. The disadvantage to this is that in order to break the loan agreement, even at maturity, the client either has to pay a lawyer or title insurance company to help break the loan agreement, costing approximately $600-$1000. Aware of this, at renewal, the bank can price the renewal rate accordingly, as they are aware that the client must pay this fee in order to leave the bank.

When purchasing a home or renewing or refinancing, it pays to ask details about pre-payment privileges and the costs associated with discharging your mortgage before the maturity date, as well as how the loan is going to be registered, ie. as a regular mortgage or a collateral charge loan.


Daniel Lewczuk

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

19 Aug

An Interesting Move Regarding Rental Property Financing


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

For those looking to purchase rental properties, the minimum down payment has historically been at 20% for some time, and so it remains. In years gone by, this down payment money had to be proven to have originated from the buyers own resources, it could not be gifted.

In the case of an owner occupied purchase, the down payment can be (and often is) gifted from a directly related family member.

The big news from one of our key lenders at the start of July was an announcement that they would now allow gifted down payment (only from a related family member) to be applied to rental property purchases as well.

The credit score is a key focus with applicants scoring 740 and higher being eligible for 80% financing on investment properties with no mortgage insurance premium, no fees, and no higher than market rates.

For those with a credit score below 740, the down payment must be increased to 25% in order to avoid the mortgage insurance premium, although if the client opts to pay the mortgage insurance premium, then 80% financing is possible.

The 740 credit score relates only to the down payment amount, even for clients with a score under 740 the gifted option remains available.

This is a program designed to enable the smaller investor to pool resources with other family members and get into the Real Estate market. It opens the door of opportunity for many who have otherwise been locked out of buying additional properties.

Contact Dominion Lending Centres for full details on this exciting new program.


14 Aug

Who Does Your Banker Work For?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

It may seem an odd question with a very obvious answer but you would be surprised how few people consider this question when approaching their bank for mortgage advice. When you deal with a bank employee or a mobile mortgage representative (also a bank employee), you need to know that their primary responsibility is to look out for the bank’s best interest. Banks are morally and legally obligated to provide the best return for their shareholders. This can present an issue, especially if you are seeking “unbiased” mortgage advice. As one of our clients recently found out, dealing with a bank isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

In 2009, when the clients approached their bank’s “Mortgage Specialist” to explore their refinancing option, the Specialist had them approved for what they considered to be a good rate with good terms. The clients happily signed their mortgage documents and went on their way happy with their new terms. If that was the end of the story I wouldn’t be writing this blog, however, that was not the case.

This year the clients decided to sell their home and move up to a larger house that could accommodate their growing family. After consulting a realtor, they phoned their bank to find out what options were available to them. The rate and terms offered by the bank were not competitive with current market offerings so the clients asked what the cost to buy out their mortgage would be. After using the bank’s online calculator, they figured their prepayment penalty would be in the $5300 range. Needless to say, the clients were completely floored when the bank representative told them their penalty would be in the neighbourhood of $22,000.

After several moments of shock, the clients asked the representative how this could be. The answer they received was that their “Specialist” had provided them with a “Discounted” rate on their last refinance and because of that they were penalized an additional 1.85% in their penalty calculation which accounted for the additional $16,000+. In the end, the additional penalty did not leave the client with enough equity in their home to sell and purchase a new property.

So that “great rate” that the clients received from their “Specialist” resulted in a considerable amount of hardship down the road. So the next time you go to your bank for mortgage advice, it would be prudent to consider who your banker works for…and then come to Dominion Lending Centres!


Jason Humeniuk – Dominion Lending Centres

10 Aug

A Pre-Approval is not Really a Pre-Approval


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

A Pre-Approval Is Not Really a Pre-Approval

A pre-approval is not really a pre-approvalThere is a misconception out there that once you’re pre-approved, you’re good to go. A pre-approval simply means that based on your CURRENT income, expenses, down payment and credit you SHOULD be able to get fully approved once you find the right property (this is the first half of the equation). Many places won’t even pull a credit check (which is extremely important) and will just run a basic mortgage calculator and say “everything looks good” but that doesn’t mean anything. You leave thinking great, I’m pre-approved!

I always recommend that people put in a “subject to financing” clause with their realtor when they are putting in an offer to protect them each and every time. Here’s why:

You could be pre-approved but the lender still doesn’t know which property you’re purchasing (that’s the other half of the equation). Let’s say you find the house of your dreams (well within the maximum price that the mortgage broker went over with you) but we find out that the house was a former grow op. In this case, very few lenders will even look at this (even if it’s been fully remediated and there’s a stamp from the city saying it’s all good) and if they do, they’ll usually require a substantial down payment and further air quality testing that you must pay for as mould spores can grow behind walls and become airborne years later. Yes this is an extraordinary example but it can also happen where a bidding war has bid up the price and the best offer (yours) has been accepted. The lender sends in their appraiser to determine the value of the property and it may come in at a lower value than your accepted offer and so you’d have to come up with more money for a down payment (which you weren’t prepared for or don’t have).

If you have a “subject to financing” clause in your agreement, then you have a way out and can look for another property with no issue at all. If you don’t have a “subject to financing” clause at all and you’ve already given your deposit to the realtor (because you were under the impression that you were going to be approved), then you’re out of luck and will be stressed out and scrambling to find a lender that will help you out, even though you were technically “pre-approved”.

So in summary, always put in a “subject to financing clause” as that’s the only protection you have. This is much cheaper than forfeiting your deposit (and facing potential legal action from the seller) should you want to cancel your contract after the agreement has been made.

Better yet, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional and have them do a proper pre-approval and have you fully prepared for what most likely will be the largest purchase in your life!


by, Joe Cutura, Dominion Lending Centres