18 Dec

Do You Know About the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Buying your first home is often the largest financial commitment you will have made and just coming up with the down payment is a difficult task for many! Then there are the legal fees, property transfer fees, disbursements and all those other costs that can really add up, creating a huge dent in your finances!

To help offset these costs for first time home buyers, the Federal Government created the First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit (HBTC) to assist home buyers with the costs associated with purchasing their home.

Who is Eligible?

The HBTC applies to first time homebuyers who intend to occupy the home as their principal residence no later than one year after acquisition. To be considered, a first time home buyer, neither the individual nor the individual’s spouse or common law partner will have owned  another home in the year of the home purchase or in the four preceding calendar years.

Special rules apply for the purchase of homes that are more accessible or better suited to the personal needs and care of an individual who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit. In these cases, the HBTC can be claimed even if the first time homebuyer criteria is not met.

How Much is the Tax Credit?

The $5,000 non-refundable tax credit provides up to $750 of federal tax relief. It is based on a down payment of $5,000 and is calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate (15%) x $5,000 = $750.

The individual’s spouse or common law partner may claim any unused portion of an individuals HBTC. When two or more eligible individuals jointly purchase the home, the credit may be shared but cannot exceed $750.

If only one individual is eligible to claim the tax credit, the percentage of that individuals ownership of the home can be used. ie. 50% of $750= $375

Also note, it is up to the applicant to ensure that they can provide documentation for the purchase transaction and that they meet the applicable eligibility requirements, should the CRA require proof.

For more information, you can visit the Department of Finance Canada website.

Here at Dominion Lending Centres, we are always happy to provide advice and help you with the financing of your first home!


Jordan Thomson

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

17 Dec

Co-Signor or Guarantor For a Mortgage?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

If a buyer can’t obtain a mortgage due to poor credit, employment history, lack of down payment or income — most lenders will consider lending if there is someone to act as co-signor or guarantor for a mortgage. The two options provide different requirements.

Co-signer or guarantor for a mortgage, which is best? People often use the terms guarantor and co-signer interchangeably, but they have very different responsibilities and rights. A co-signor is basically a co-owner – he/she is registered on the title and is equally responsible for payments (although it’s often a given that the co-signor will not make the payments). A guarantor, on the other hand, personally guarantees payments will be made if the original applicant defaults, but he has no claim to the property because he/she is not on title.

Lenders require a co-signor or guarantor for a mortgage for different reasons. A co-signor is used when you need to support income. If the original applicant’s qualifying ratio doesn’t meet the lender’s standards, a co-signor is required to bridge the income gap. A co-signor, because their name is also on the title, must sign all of the mortgage documents and can expect to remain on title until the applicant qualifies for the mortgage on his or her own. Or, in the case of two spouses, the co-signor might remain on title indefinitely. Keep in mind that removing someone from the title involves legal fees.

A guarantor is usually called upon if the applicant qualifies by income, but has a slight credit blemish or has yet to establish credit. It’s also an option for couples where one spouse is an entrepreneur and they don’t want to risk losing the house should the business go bankrupt — they simply keep that person’s name off the mortgage.

Guidance for guarantors
A guarantor has to be stronger financially than a co-signor because they promise to carry the entire debt should the homeowner default. As a result, guarantors are carefully scrutinized, undergo a credit check and must also disclose assets, liabilities and income.

Therefore, it’s important for guarantors to know all of the circumstances of the person they’re acting for and be confident the applicant will make the payments. Before signing, all guarantors should seek advice from a lawyer who is independent of the real estate transaction.

It’s also smart to secure creditor insurance in case things go wrong. The applicant and guarantor should discuss collateral or come up with a repayment plan up front should the guarantor be called on to cover the debt.

To learn more, listen to my radio interview on CKPM– click the link below:

What happens when you co-sign or become guarantor on a mortgage?

When a guarantor wants out
Some lenders offer early release policies that free the guarantor from obligation (usually after 12 months) if the borrower is up-to-date with payments and has established good credit. Sometimes a guarantor can remain under obligation for several years.

Before agreeing to act on behalf of an applicant, guarantors need to evaluate the time commitment they’re willing to make. If, for example, they want to buy their own home in a few years or take on any major debt, such as a car or boat, they may not qualify because of their guarantor status.

Regardless of whether you wish to be a co-signor or guarantor, for a mortgage you should always consult your mortgage professional at Dominion Lending Centres and a lawyer before acting.


Pauline Tonkin

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

16 Dec

This vs That – Volume 3


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected and that can be seen as a single work of art or as three individual pieces. I pulled this definition from WIKIPEDIA. I wouldn’t quite go as far to say this series was ‘work of art,’ the only thing I did find comparable with the meaning was this could be read as a series or they can stand alone separately. Anyway, you can read Volume 1 here and Volume 2 here to complete the trilogy of mortgage terminology.

Consumer Proposal vs Bankruptcy

A consumer proposal is a formal, legally binding process that is administered by a bankruptcy trustee. The trustee will work to develop a plan or an offer to pay creditors a percentage of what is owed, or extend time you have to pay off the debt…or both. The concept of personal bankruptcy in Canada is to assign or surrender everything you own to a Trustee in exchange for the elimination of your debts. This is governed by federal law, the law is designed to permit an honest but unfortunate debtor to obtain relief from his or her debts while treating creditors equally and fairly with a fresh start. Debt must be insolvent; a minimum of $1,000 owing and able to meet ones debts as they are due to be paid. You may be entitled to an automatic discharge from personal bankruptcy in 9 months, the minimum time set by the Court to be bankrupt, provided you have never been bankrupt before and you complete various duties and responsibilities.

Monoline Lenders vs Chartered Banks

A monoline lender is a mortgagee that only processes mortgage applications; mono is the numerical prefix representing anything single, meaning one. Monoline lenders do not have other products that they cross sell and try to bundle with their mortgage product, they only provide financing solutions. Most monolines back-end insure or securitize their mortgages instead of keeping them on their balance sheet. This allows them to sell the asset to an investor. Monoline lenders are quite restrictive because they are back-end insured by CMHC, Canada Guaranty or Genworth therefore, their tolerance for exceptions on the debt service ratios is extremely limited.

Chartered banks are quite the opposite. They are a full-service financial portal offering everything from savings/chequing accounts, to investment opportunities to personal loans and of course mortgage financing. Their mortgage lending services are always cross-sold with other in-house banking products. Another major difference to mention is how each entity calculates the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty.

Monoline lenders utilize the PUBLISHED RATE METHOD and banks use the POSTED RATE METHOD. Be sure to have the mortgage provider explain the IRD penalty calculation in detail. The different calculations can amount to a difference of thousands of dollars. Monoline lenders typically offer more competitive rates from the start, as their overhead and operating costs are substantially lower than Banks. These lower operating costs are passed onto the consumer as an interest savings. Banks will usually match the rate if challenged, but it’s not profitable.

Conventional vs High Ratio Mortgage

These are two terms that Mortgage Brokers and bankers use to categorize two types of mortgages, ones that require mortgage insurance and ones that do not. For a mortgage file to be deemed conventional, the borrower must demonstrate that they can put a minimum of 20% of the purchase price or 20% of the market value down. Mortgages that fall into the high ratio category are utilizing 19.99% down payment or less to a minimum of 5%. These mortgage applications require a third party to insurance to protect against future potential default. The most recognizable mortgage insurer is CMHC but there are 2 other privately operated organizations called Canada Guaranty and Genworth.

HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) vs LOC (Line of Credit)

Similar but different, both being securitized by the subject property. The HELOC is described as a multi-segmented mortgage product utilizing various types of mortgages; variable, fixed and line of credit product all registered against title as one charge. For example if one had a $300,000 HELOC product they could slice it up into three different segments, each totaling $100,000. A LOC is a single segment standing on its own as a charge against the title. Both allow for easy access to funds at any given time. A LOC is a great mortgage vehicle for someone in the growth stage of the financial cycle, which can be defined as young families with kids in school buying their first home that may require some renovations. As the mortgage consumer progresses into stage two and three of their financial life cycle, one may want to convert the LOC into a standard mortgage with structured payment amortized over a period of time.

Home Inspection vs Home Appraisal

I often come across clients that use these terms incorrectly, referring to the appraisal as the inspection and vice versa. An inspection is the careful examination or scrutiny of the subject property with the main purpose to uncover defects. An appraisal is used to determine the market value of real estate to lend against. This process involves comparing historical sales of the same product to the subject property.

Reverse Mortgage vs Standard Mortgage

A Reverse Mortgage is a mortgage product that allows any home owner 55 years or older to borrow money against the value of their property. It can be deemed a financial planning tool to assist with retirement or assisting loved ones with their own personal finances. The mortgage payments are 100% deferred until they die, sell or move. Simply put, a standard mortgage is the opposite of the a reverse mortgage. Standard mortgage products require a principle and interest payment on a regular frequency; monthly, weekly, bi-weekly or semi-monthly. Over time the equity or ownership stake will shift from the lender to the deed holder.

As always, if you are looking for help with your mortgage, we here at Dominion Lending Centres would love to chat with you!


Michael Hallett

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

11 Dec

Are Canadians Saving Enough For Retirement?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Many Canadians think of retirement as a time filled with vacations, getaways to the cottage and spending more time on hobbies and interests. However, there are many other factors to consider when thinking about retirement savings. More and more Canadians are forgetting about some key obstacles that may change their perspective on what they actually need to save in order to retire comfortably.

Life Expectancy

Canadians are underestimating their life expectancy. Along with many societal advancements, health care technology has been one of the most improved areas in recent years. As a result, people are more aware of their health conditions, taking better care of themselves and thus, seniors are living longer.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian males have an average life expectancy of 79 and females an average of 83. In 2000, the average life expectancy for males was 77 and females 82. On average, there is an increase of about 2-3 years on the average life expectancy of Canadian male and female every decade.

Knowing this, seniors now have to save more for their retirement than their predecessors. 4 in 10 Canadians age 55+ say there is a serious risk that they will outlive their retirement savings. While an additional 40% will still be in debt after the age of 65, according to The Vanier Institute for the Family.

The Rise of Long Term Care Cost

According to benefitscanada.com, Baby Boomers currently account for 33% of the population and 14% of Canadians are over the age of 65. Based on today’s demographics and trends, by the year 2036, 25% of the population will be over the age of 65. And according to Statistics Canada, in 2036, one in ten Canadians will require long-term care by the age of 55, three in ten Canadians by the age of 65 and five in ten by the age of 75.

Seniors requiring long-term care will incline in the next couple decades, and with that, the cost of long-term care will also be on a steady climb. Based on inflation for health care services reported by Statistics Canada, the inflation rate of long-term care costs per year since 2010 is an average of 3% per annum.

Young Adults living in the Parental Home

Is your 20-29 year old still living at home? According to the 2011 Census Report, 42.3% of over 4 million young adults between the ages of 20-29 either never left the parental home or they returned home after living elsewhere. More and more young adults are still living with their parents as a source of emotional or financial support. Some of the reasons include cultural preferences, cost of housing, aspirations for higher education or the struggles of unemployment.

These and many other factors can help you determine how much you need to save in order to live a comfortable retirement life. It is also important to understand your options when it comes to financial security. Seniors who are at least 55 years of age, and who own a home, are eligible for a reverse mortgage.

With a reverse mortgage, you can access up to 55% of the value of your home, while maintaining the ownership, never having to move or sell. There are no payments required and you can receive your tax-free cash in monthly installments, in a lump sum or a combination of both. The best part is, the loan from the reverse mortgage does not have to be repaid until the borrower passes away or moves/sells their home. You can now live comfortably knowing that this is an option for you.

Contact Dominion Lending Centres to find out what you can access from your most secure investment, your home!


Yvonne Ziomecki

HomEquity Bank – Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales

4 Dec

A Broker’s Life – What You Think I Do and What I Really Do!


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

The primary purpose for producing this piece was to try and demystify the job of a Mortgage Broker. By now everybody that has a mortgage has heard about Mortgage Brokers. Whether they have decided to use the services of one is a completely different topic altogether. Having said that, the market share of borrowers ‘using their banks’ still swings in their favour at a staggering 70%. I’m excited to be part of the push for equal or greater market share…but let’s get back to the topic at hand.

This idea came to me while I was speaking to a colleague of mine about a recent file she was working on. It was a difficult one with multiple layers and barriers to mitigate before a lender would accept it. In the end, she got the ‘file complete’ status that we as Brokers all seek. At the end of the process the client was very grateful, but admittedly said that he was really unsure what she as a Mortgage Broker really does. This is where the idea was born.

What Do You Think I Do?

Here’s what a quick Facebook poll unveiled after posing this question: In my quest to write fun and sometimes ‘different’ mortgage content for my blog, I want to ask my NON-mortgage broker friends on Facebook a simple question. What do you think I do? Everybody has a different opinion of what Brokers really do. I knew there would be some fun jabs, but here is what was sourced.

  • You lay with your feet up on the couch watching sports all day…answering the phone when it rings.
  • You sit around, drink coffee, wait for the files to roll in then hit the pub for afternoon drinks…
  • Laundry, cleaning, cooking, napping
  • Match potential homebuyers with the mortgage product that best fits their needs. And you do this by knowing what your customer’s wants/needs are and being aware of what programs are available and which company offers them.
  • A fellow broker replied with an image, which I felt was very appropriate. It was the Dos Equis XXX actor with a caption that read “I don’t always make it rain, but when I do, it’s usually rolls of quarters.” Some friends think I sell cash.
  • Broker on Wall Street juggling multiple phones on-the-go!

Further to the crowd-based outsourcing, I also found another image online that made me chuckle and thought it was appropriate for this piece as well. I summarized the image into 4 points below. As individuals, we all have our own sphere, people that we look up to and depend on, whether it’s for advice or friendship. All of those individuals have opinions. And the more I thought about the graphic I found, the more it made sense as I’ve had these very conversations with these people in my life as to what I do.

  • My friends think all I do is go from one party to the next, trying to drum up business.
  • My mom still thinks I work on cases (no, I’m not a lawyer), sitting in a boardroom having cerebral conversations with other high level executives.
  • The general public thinks I am a slippery car salesman, wearing 70s clothes and a pinky ring while dangling a cigar from my month.
  • My clients (might) think that all I do each day is sit back and calculate my future commission cheques.

What I Really Do!

Mortgage Brokering is the career path I chose six years ago. At the time I made the decision to pursue Brokering I thought it was a job. I know now that is an incorrect statement, it’s a lifestyle that I live. It’s not a regular 9AM-5PM-Monday-to-Friday-with-5-weeks-of-vacation-and-employer-double-up-RRSP-contributions-a-year-job. It’s much more complex than that. For starters, I have to be ‘on’ and engaging all the time. I don’t power down because the moment I do I could miss an opportunity and opportunities don’t always come around in the same shape. I have a duty to my next client to be:

  • up-to-date on all the current real estate market data,
  • changing lender interest rates (and why),
  • economic influencers that trigger the market,
  • constantly changing lender guidelines,
  • know how to structure a file when it lands on my desk, quickly and efficiently.

Right now I’m fairly certain that all my Broker friends are nodding their heads agreeing with me.

Creating an exceptional experience for that one client could mean one or more referrals from that very client in the future. A referral is the ultimate testimonial. Each client is treated like they are the only one I am working with at that present time.

As Mortgage Brokers, we all operate our businesses differently. I have chosen a business model where most of my business flows from professional referral sources; accountants, financial planners, lawyers, realtors, bank representatives, property managers, stock brokers, developers, professional recruiters, home insurance providers, commercial brokers and so on. These professionals are key to my success as I have positioned myself as a resource. One that can assist with every aspect of a mortgage transaction and beyond. I am able to connect people.  They are all people I share a common thread with – we KNOW, LIKE and TRUST one another. This is the basis for a natural flow of referrals. You’re likely asking yourself, “why am I bringing this up”? The answer is because this is what ‘I DO.’ I get to know the people I work with on a personal level to form a friendship. If there is no friendship, just personal monetary gain, then there will not be a long lasting business relationship. I have seen a couple of referral sources come and go over the years, where personal gain was the only thing top of mind for the other party. Needless to say, we are not working together anymore. The act of getting to know someone is quite simple, just ask questions then sit back and listen. Take that information and store it – I guarantee you it will become very handy in the future.

An exceptional Mortgage Broker is also an exceptional story teller. All my clients have their own unique individual story and it’s up to me to tell that story to the audience – the potential lender we are pursuing. The ultimate goal throughout the application process is simple, minimize the stress level of the borrower and complete the task quickly with comprehensive updates along the way. This is done by structuring the file accordingly, providing detail. I must admit I’ve got the process dialed. It’s so good that I have quite honestly surprised myself a few times on a few difficult files. I put a lot of pressure on myself to tell a seamless story.

Providing an abundance of detail helps to break down the barriers of entry, this being access to the lenders financing. My goal at the start of the application process is to receive an approval without receiving a call or an email from the lender’s underwriter. When I accomplish that, then I have done my job successfully. It’s quite simply the easiest part of the process. All I have to do is answer questions about the property, income source, down payment source and credit history – just 4 things!

All lenders have a different appetite for risk – knowing how to mitigate and answer those risk questions is all part of managing this business. Once this is all tabulated then the financing is guaranteed, right? One would assume (never assume…you know the saying) that ‘a mortgage is a mortgage,’ WRONG! Every mortgage file is different. In my short 6 year tenure, I’ve never seen one file that is exactly the same as a previous one. There are definitely elements of one that might be similar, but this business does not have a template. The round hole, square peg scenario happens a lot in this business. It’s up to me to shave down the edges of the square peg to squeeze it into the round hole. There are definitely ones that come together easier than others, but there are also files that consume my day, even multiple days. Again, I can sense my Broker friends nodding their heads.

The most important role ‘I do’ through the application process is to assume the position of an Educator. I entered this business knowing that I wanted to learn from my mistakes in the past. As a first time mortgage consumer, I had relied on my bank to advise me accordingly, to educate me and to help me make the right decision. Instead, I got what would work best for the bank’s shareholders. Knowing what I know now, I don’t think they did their job. I should have done my own research and asked the right questions. I learned the hard way. From day 1 (August 30, 2009), I vowed to provide as much information to my clients as needed to help them make an informed and educated decision. One that would benefit them and their family, not the lender. Knowing that my clients are advised correctly provides me the confidence in knowing they will instruct me on the path they would like to follow.

Processing mortgage files is just a half of what I do. Of course the other side is marketing. How does the saying go? – ‘you gotta spend money to make money.’ To generate business or potential clients, I have to get out and meet with as many people as possible and let them know what I do. I try to attend as many networking events as I possibly can. Heck, I even attend industry functions and conferences, as you never know when a Broker-to-Broker conversation will lead to placing the ‘next’ file or an unforeseen opportunity. The glamorous life of a broker also involves endless coffee meetings and luncheons, along with relentless periods of time spent on the phone with clients and lenders. I am constantly building the fortress around me. I have made a conscious effort to always utilize the same suppliers; lender(s), lawyer, appraiser. By maintaining focus on a select few it can sometimes pay in spades. At times this business presents strict or short timelines where having a solid relationship is key. If I need to place a rush on a file or ask for an exception or need some legal advice I know I have someone that I can rely on. If not, these calls usually end with ‘sorry I’m too busy..’ or ‘who is this..’ or a flat out ‘no.’ It’s not what you know, but who you know in this small world of Brokering. Building solid, reliable relationships is vital for survival in this business.


So, what do I do as a Mortgage Broker?

I strive to build long lasting relationships with my referral partners, clients and providers. I structure intricate applications by telling detailed stories about one’s past, present and future. I am dedicated to providing the best options to fit one’s current lifestyle and future long term goals through education. I share ideas and experiences about my mortgage practice, what has worked and what has not. I am continuously planting seeds like a farmer, never knowing when I will be called on. I work for the client, not the lender. What do I really do?

I am a connector! I connect my clients with the correct financing as well as connecting them with other real estate related professionals…and I’m looking forward to working with you!


Michael Hallett

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional