30 Jan

How Do Mortgage Brokers Help?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

The most important strategy that a home buyer could ever have is putting together a team of Real Estate professionals to help them make the wisest decisions in regard to the biggest purchase they will ever make; a property purchase. It is so very important to align yourself with a Realtor who has excellent property and market knowledge; an Accountant who understands the tax implications of buying a property, a House Inspector who knows what weaknesses to look for in the structure of a property, a Lawyer/Notary who has experience in property purchase contracts…

…and, of course, a Mortgage Broker who knows what products / offers are available and who can get you the best terms and sharpest rate available.

While one can simply go to their bank and get a mortgage (if they qualify), is it really the wisest decision to have that conversation with the financial officer at the bank without really knowing the ins and outs of what terms and conditions of a good mortgage should be?

Mortgage Brokers are meant to be professionals that reduce the stressful task of putting a mortgage application together and finding the best home for your mortgage. A good Mortgage Broker will explain all your loan options and suggest the programs that could be financially beneficial. When you go to the bank and speak with that same financial officer, they will only be able to provide you with information related to their bank. Simply put, they only know the products offered by the bank they work for and are not about to try and suggest other products offered by other banks, even if that is a better option for you.

Busy Mortgage Brokers that work for a successful mortgage arranging company have access to discounted rates that are not available anywhere else. Because of the sheer volume of mortgages that a busy company arranges, Mortgage Brokers are given better rates that you can’t find on your own. Since the Mortgage Broker is arranging mortgages every day, they know what products are available and they are aware of the sharpest rates being offered.

Reputable Mortgage Brokers have your best interest in mind FIRST! A good Mortgage Broker understands that if you are happy as a client under their direction, then you will likely refer your friends and family back because you have had a successful and satisfying outcome with your mortgage arranging experience. Mortgage Brokers rely on referrals and although they continue to market their services, referrals remain the bread and butter for a Mortgage Broker.

Mortgage Brokers are available and flexible with meetings and appointments. They are not confined to an immovable roster but work with you on your time. Generally, people are busy, and time is a valuable commodity. Mortgage Brokers will arrange a time to speak with you at your convenience, so that you don’t have to take time off work and loose wages, or wait two weeks for an appointment with your bank’s financial advisor and miss out on a time sensitive purchase.

Mortgage Brokers advise their clients on how to make their financial profile look favourable forto the lender. Financial coaching is part of the overall value that you will receive from a Mortgage Broker. Advising you on how to use your credit and what to avoid in the preapproval process is all part of what a good Mortgage Broker does for their clients.

Mortgage Broker services are FREE! The lender pays a commission to the Mortgage Broker and the client ends up with the best possible mortgage at no cost for the arrangement. The Mortgage Broker will pull your credit only once and will approach several lenders with that same “pulled” credit bureau…. yet another way a Mortgage Broker helps their client’s and protects their clients best interests.


Geoff Lee

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

29 Jan

Title Insurance Can Be Your Best Friend When Purchasing Real Estate


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Nearly everyone will buy a home and, in fact, most people will buy several, moving up from one to another more desirable home.  Each time they buy a home, the buyer‘s realtor will request a Real Property Report from the seller’s Realtor.

A Real Property Report (RPR) is a legal document that clearly illustrates the location of significant visible improvements relative to property boundaries. It takes the form of a plan or illustration of the various physical features of the property, including a written statement detailing the surveyor’s opinions or concerns. It can be relied upon by the buyer, seller, the lender and the municipality as an accurate assessment of the improvements on the property.

But what happens if the RPR is old, or even unavailable? The new buyer can’t be confident that the location of improvements (buildings) are within the property boundaries and that there are no encroachments from adjacent properties that they are unaware of. Knowledge of these things can help to protect buyers from potential future legal liabilities resulting from problems related to property boundaries and improvements.

Because of this, many realtors suggest the use of Title Insurance to protect their buyers from unknown defects in the title of the property causing financial loss. Title protection will protect a buyer from costs associated with:

  • Title Fraud
  • Survey and title issues and/or defects
  • Challenges against your ownership

It will also cover you against title defects that have occurred in the past, prior to you purchasing the home.

Title insurance will not expire as long as you own the home.

In some cases, the lender will also request title insurance under a loan policy. This allows them to feel comfortable after releasing the funds, and many lenders will accept title insurance in lieu of an up-to-date RPR.  As a result, the loan policy can save you time and money. If the lender requires a lender policy as a part of your agreement, the lawyer or notary will order a Loan Policy as a part of your closing.

Because the title can be used in lieu of the RPR and reduce the need for some legal searches, this again will save time and money making the Title Insurance a request that many realtors will suggest to their buyers.

For more information contact your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

James Leigh

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

27 Jan

How to Successfully Kill Your Financing Approval


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Here is where you are currently sitting. You have successfully found your dream home. Negotiated like a true champion and kept your calm through the back and forth with the seller. Provided the endless supply of paperwork required by your lender to meet the financing condition. Set up all the things required for the big day, like scheduling the myriad of people to move your furniture, get your Internet set up and making sure your home is warm and toasty. Then you get a call from your mortgage specialist to the effect of “Houston, we have a problem.” Today we are going to look at the most common ways people unwittingly kill their mortgage approval and leave themselves in the lurch.

First thing to note is this, your financing approval is based on the information the lender was provided at the time of the application. Any, and I do mean any, changes to your financial picture are grounds for the cancellation of the approval. It’s actually in the commitment you have signed.

1. Employment – Not all employment is considered equal by the lender and insurers like CMHC. Self Employed, commissioned, part time, overtime, and bonus are all examples of income types where we must have a two year average to satisfy everyone involved, proving that you will have enough income to support the mortgage.

For example, Bob accepts a position with a new company after his financing condition is met. He has negotiated well and knows that the income will exceed what he made previously. The problem is that now Bob will be paid a base plus a bonus component where he was previously salaried. Until there is a 2 year history, the bonus income cannot be used and the mortgage approval is cancelled.

The other consideration is that most new employment comes with a probationary period which can be up to 1 year. Lenders will not use probationary employment which will likely lead to a cancellation as well.

A really important thing to note here is that lenders are calling at the time of approval and again just before funding to verify the employment information provided.

2. Debt – Again, the approval is based on the debt load you had on the day of the mortgage application. Any changes can cause a cancellation. The following are the most common:

* New vehicle – Often comes with a large monthly obligation

* Do not pay for 12 months – We know you are eager to fill your new home with furniture and that you don’t have to pay for 12 months, but this is a new debt obligation and the lenders have to include a payment for it

* Increase to credit card balances – this can change your affordability ratios too much

3. Down payment source – And yet again I reiterate that the approval is based on the initial information you have provided. You will be asked at the lawyer’s office to verify the source of the down payment and if it is different than what the lender has approved, then you may be in trouble. For example, there are lenders who will allow you to use a line of credit for the down payment. Not all of them do and even if yours is one of them then the lender is still obligated to inform the mortgage insurer and their investors of the change to the source. This leaves you at risk at the last minute of your mortgage being declined.

4. Credit – Even if you do not increase your debt load, you also need to make sure you keep your credit as strong as it was when you were approved. Make all payments on time. This includes cell phones. And be careful about allowing anyone to pull your credit. Too many inquires can be an indication of money troubles as you search for new credit facilities. You could see a substantial drop to your credit score which can…?? You know the answer, kill your mortgage approval.

There you have it. You are now fully aware that your mortgage approval is a delicate thing which requires proper care and keeping during that period between approval and funding. Make sure you take good care of yours. Have a great day everyone.


Pam Pikkert

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

25 Jan

Top 5 Questions To Ask Your Mortgage Lender Before Signing On the Dotted Line


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

1. How the penalties are calculated if I break my mortgage early? Specifically, ask what rate they use to calculate the “interest rate differential”. Typically, if the lender has “posted rates” they use these to calculate the penalty. If this is the case, the penalty can be 3, 4 or even 5 times higher than a mortgage lender that does not have posted rates and uses them in their early payout penalty calculation. This one question can save you thousands of dollars!

2. Is this a “collateral” mortgage? Some lenders have recently started putting all of their mortgages into what is called a “collateral” charge. In the right situation, given significant equity in the home, this product can be very useful and advantageous. The disadvantage to this product however, is that you cannot “switch” it to another lender at maturity. You have to actually discharge this type of mortgage and re-register a new one with a new lender which will cost on average $1000 for legal fees and appraisal costs. Beware of lenders who do this, especially if your mortgage is high ratio because it is only useful if you have more than 20% equity.

3. Can I “blend and extend” my mortgage if I buy another house? Most variable rate mortgages cannot be “blended” however, typically the penalty to break a variable is 3 months interest. Some lenders have changed their policies (very quietly) – instead of allowing you to add new money to a mortgage in the event of a new purchase, they require you to pay the full penalty. Some clients have been caught off guard by sneaky lenders who don’t tell them this until only a few days before close, at which time it’s too late to switch lenders.

4. What happens to my life insurance if I switch lenders at the end of my term? This is a very commonly overlooked detail by those who take the insurance offered by their bank or lender. The challenge is that if you want to “switch” your mortgage to another lender at the end of your term, you have to re-apply for insurance. The downside to this is that you’ll be five years older, and if you have developed any health issues, you may not qualify for the insurance at all. Getting insurance that mortgage brokers offer stays in place for the whole time you have your mortgage, no matter who your mortgage lender is.

5. What happens at the end of the term (typically five years)? Will they offer you the best rate they offer their new clients, or will you have to negotiate for best rates at that time. Most banks know that clients likely won’t make the effort to negotiate the best rates. Working with an independent specialist will provide you with the most competitive rates, not only when you buy your home, but when it comes up for renewal. A qualified professional will make sure you have the best options available each time your mortgage comes due.


Brian Mill

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

20 Jan

6 Tips on How to Repair, Increase and Maintain Your Credit


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Credit scores are like report cards for grown‐ups. The score you get ranges from 300 to 900. Your score indicates your creditworthiness to potential lenders, banks, landlords, insurance companies, and even to some employers. The higher your score the better.

1. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

Make an inquiry once a year, twice is much better. If you are planning on purchasing anything that requires a credit check, keep track of your credit. This is something that is 100% in your control. As a consumer you have ability to make a soft/consumer inquiry to Equifax as many times as you want without it affecting your score. Here is a link to Equifax. If something doesn’t look right, contact the creditor immediately. Don’t wait to report an incorrect or fraudulent transaction. Is there an outstanding collection? If so, deal with it immediately, and by that I mean pay it. Then argue to get your money back. Do not leave this on your credit report hoping that it will disappear. No matter what, the collection will not be removed until it’s paid unless taken to litigation. Once dealt with, it will still take months to recover the points lost and 6 years to fall off your credit report.

2. NEVER Miss a Minimum Payment

Because this attributes to 35% of your overall score, delinquencies have the biggest negative effect on your credit score. If you have overdue bills, make the necessary arrangements with your creditors. They would much rather work with you than file collections against you. If you can’t pay it all back, it’s better to pay some.

3. Don’t Close Unused Credit Card Accounts

Got a credit card that you have had ten years and hardly use? Keep it. It takes 12 years of history with the same specific card in good standing to crack 800 and enter that top 2% tier of quality credit. Cancelling a card can actually lower your score. Keep the old cards and only use them occasionally so the issuer doesn’t stop reporting your information to the credit bureaus. Having a long credit history helps increase your score. Don’t jump around to credit providers. Most ‘large’ providers have several different products. There is likely one that will fit your needs.

4. Never Max Out Your Credit Cards

A good rule of thumb when considering building your credit is to keep the balance at or below 30% of the limit. Furthermore, a balance of 50% of the limit will maintain existing levels and over 75% will start to decrease it. NEVER exceed the limit, by even a $1.

5. Don’t Look For More Credit

Don’t shop around for credit or open several credit accounts in a short period of time. It raises alarms at credit bureaus and financial institutions, especially when you don’t have a long‐established credit history. Work with your existing creditors, as there is more relevant history. They are more likely to work with you, especially if you are looking to resolve some credit hardship(s). Always ensure you give your permission before allowing a credit check.

6. Rule of 2

Ideally, you want to have 2 sources of credit solely in your own name for a minimum of 2 years with at least a $2,500 credit limit. This would be either 2 credit cards or one credit card and a line of credit. Ensure this is in addition to any joint accounts. Joint credit is only reported to the primary credit holders credit bureau and will not have any positive effect on the co-account holder.

If you ever have questions about your financial situation or want to discuss your credit score, please contact Dominion Lending Centres.


Michael Hallett

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

14 Jan

Financial Check-Up


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Welcome to your free financial check-up, discussing 5 key factors to assist you in ensuring you are on the right track to a solid financial future.


Ensuring you are using credit wisely will pave the way to making sure you have options available to you if or when you need them. One thing we can all do is check our credit report on a regular basis – at least once each year – so you know where you stand and whether your credit score has been compromised in any way, especially through fraud. You can contact Equifax at 1-800-465-7166 or go to the website at www.equifax.ca for more information.

There are many people who believe that it is more responsible to not use credit at all but, in fact, if you don’t have any credit accounts reporting to the credit bureau, financial institutions have no way of knowing how responsible you are with credit and you will likely be turned down if you need a loan or credit card in the future.

Making payments on time is critical to maintaining a good credit score but also keeping your account balances below 75% of the maximum limit is another way of boosting your credit score. If you have multiple accounts, spreading the balances evenly among them using balance transfer methods can help to bring some accounts in line.

It’s wise to pay off your higher interest credit accounts first but that decision needs to be balanced with whether to pay down the higher-payment accounts.


The old adage, “10% of the money you earn should be tucked away into savings” is a good one. Although it may be difficult to be disciplined enough, if you “pay yourself” every month, the savings will start to build and you may find you don’t need to rely on credit to handle those unexpected expenses.

I personally have a monthly allotment that I transfer to my savings account the same day each month. I have a reminder in my phone to physically do the transfer and it is built into my budget as if it were another utility payment I have to make.

Taking advantage of a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a great way to earn higher interest on your savings as opposed to the low rate you are paid for a standard bank savings account. If your TFSA is managed by a Financial Planner you can see very good returns on your investments. Any money earned within your TFSA is tax-free and can be withdrawn at any time.


Part of the savings picture is, of course, planning for retirement. If you can, work an RRSP contribution into your budget as soon as possible so you will be much further ahead when you want to put your feet up and enjoy.

I follow my Financial Planner’s recommendations when it comes to how much I contribute each year. As I am self-employed, the amount I contribute each year varies but I always make a contribution.

Contributing to an RRSP also gives you a tax break at the end of the year and you can use your tax return money to put towards paying down your mortgage or put it towards a vacation. Both of those are win-win scenarios.


Being the largest loan most Canadians will ever have, your mortgage deserves attention and regular check-ups. Choosing the right mortgage structure for you and taking advantage of today’s historically low rates, can put you on track to huge savings.

Take a look at your debt-structure. If you are making high monthly payments on high-interest loans and/or credit cards, you could easily restructure your circumstances by refinancing your credit accounts into your home. In most cases, this reduces the amount of interest you are paying overall and lowers your monthly payments. At the same time, if you take advantage of an accelerated payment structure (bi-weekly or weekly) and bump up your minimum required payment by the 15-25% that your institution allows, you can pay down your principal and be mortgage free much sooner!

In today’s mortgage climate, if you currently have a mortgage rate anywhere over 4% you should do yourself a favour and have me do a Free Mortgage Analysis for you so you can see apples to apples whether there are any financial advantages to breaking your existing mortgage for a better rate. When you can see the costs vs. benefits in black and white, the answer as to whether to refinance will be crystal clear.


Making sure you have adequate insurance is essential in protecting yourself and your family in the event of a crisis or emergency. Whether it be home, health, life or disability insurance, it is always a good idea to review all of your insurance coverage at least once a year to make sure you are fully covered.

Mortgage insurance is a great idea but most clients benefit more from having independent mortgage insurance coverage as opposed to taking the insurance coverage offered by the institution that has your mortgage. The average Canadian makes a change to a mortgage every 38-42 months, you may have to re-apply for the same coverage at an older age and higher premiums. If your mortgage insurance is through a company that is independent of the bank, you would have the ability to keep the coverage and premium you initially had even if moving your mortgage to another institution at a better rate works better for you.

Another way to go is Term Life Insurance. Securing a policy that will cover all costs and pay out all obligations should anything happen to you will give your family peace of mind in the worst circumstance.

Critical Illness Insurance offers protection should you become affected by one of the approved conditions and is often paid in a lump sum amount once you have survived the specified waiting period. It gives you the assurance that the costs of a serious medical condition, as well as living expenses, will be covered.

Wrap Up

I recommend talking to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional to make sure you make the best decision on all insurance needs.

I hope you have found some value in the information provided. As always, I recommend seeking out the experts and gaining knowledge before making any important decisions that will affect your future.


Kristin Woolard

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional