24 Jun

Your First Mortgage Renewal


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

A lot can change in a year when it comes to mortgages. These changes can provide great opportunities for mortgagees to refinance their mortgage at the time of renewal in order to save money.

Unfortunately, most people are under the impression that once they sign on the dotted line they are locked into their mortgage agreement for the specified term. One study found that a staggering 70% of people simply renew their mortgage every year without even looking into other options! Refinancing can give you the leverage to make your mortgage more affordable.

Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for your first mortgage renewal and save thousands of dollars!

1. Plan in Advance

Mortgage renewals are mailed out months before the renewal date. This gives you plenty of time to shop around for the best rate. Many mortgage professionals recommend a 4-6 month window to negotiate because that’s how long a lender may guarantee a discounted rate. By planning ahead you could find yourself a rate significantly lower with another lender or have a nicely discounted rate to fall back on.

2. Do Your Research

Mortgage research isn’t a one-time process you perform when buying you first home, it’s a topic you should revisit each year. The reason for ongoing research relates to the changes that occur in the marketplace. It is important to keep up-to-date with mortgage trends so you don’t get swindled into a higher rate than you deserve. The key thing to avoid when shopping for a new rate is signing with a bank’s posted rate. These rates are usually the highest the bank charges and all that extra interest will accumulate quickly, adding thousands to your mortgage total. Take the time and know what trends are doing so you can recognize a good rate when it comes along.

3. Don’t Avoid the Switch

Some mortgagees are scared to switch lenders because of hidden fees and the paperwork that may be involved with the process. If you do your research and start early enough there is no reason to avoid switching your mortgage lender. When you make a switch at renewal time there is usually no monetary penalty. Switching allows you to take advantage of lower rates and save you money, so take the plunge if you find a better deal with a different lender!

4. Negotiate on Everything

Most people only negotiate the interest rate when they’re applying for or renewing a mortgage, but all variables are open to discussion! Make sure you know the importance of the amortization period, fixed versus variable rates, and payment schedule flexibility so your negotiation power is up to its full potential. All these variables can help reduce your payments, interest rate, and overall payment period.

5. Work with a Professional

Some mortgagees find all this information rather overwhelming and some simply don’t have the time to do the necessary research. If you find yourself fitting into one of these two categories then work with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional. These brokers work for you and will handle all the shopping and negotiations required to make your mortgage more manageable.

Whether you decide to work with a professional or not make sure to do some research for yourself. It’s always a good idea to have the basic knowledge fully understood before jumping into one of the biggest purchases of your life.

If you are ever unsure of any specifics, call Dominion Lending Centres to clarify. We are always happy to help guide you through the process!


Pam Pikkert

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Pam is part of DLC Regional Mortgage Group based in Red Deer, AB.

18 Jun

Divorce and What Can Happen With the Mortgage


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

When tough times put stress on families sometimes the end result is divorce. While no one ever wants to see this happen sometimes it is inevitable. Recently, CMHC changed the rules about how much a house can be refinanced for, they have set the limit at 80% of the property value so that refinances would no longer fall under the insured mortgages. What they also did was set some guidelines for couples who are divorcing.

When a partnership in a home is being dissolved, that partnership can be a marriage, common law relationship or simply two owners of a property, it is now considered a sale. This means that the existing mortgage will most likely be paid out or in some cases one of the spouses can assume that mortgage and possibly increase the amount. Most likely it will mean that one spouse will purchase the home from the other. Here’s the difference when we are in this situation, the home can be purchased with just 5% down payment again as it doesn’t fall under the refinance rule.

One other thing to consider under the divorce rules is child support. As many parents have learned lately, child support and section 7 spousal support are liabilities for many lenders. So if you do have a $2,000 a month support payment, then that is the same as having a $2,000 dollar car payment. Not all lenders are looking at that the same, some have allowed us to reduce the yearly incomes by the amount of child support. The biggest difference here is of course that the reduction allows you to qualify for more mortgage, it’s just a matter of knowing which lenders work the system which way and a skilled mortgage broker will know the difference.

Ideally, of course, the divorce never happens but one way around child support being paid is joint custody where it is shared 50/50 and no liability is forced upon either spouse allowing them to maximize their purchasing power as the start their new lives.

What also needs to be considered is that this needs to be done in writing, separation agreements are legal binding documents that tell the lenders what your responsibility is to the other partner in the divorce. We have also had situations where a statutory declaration saying that you have no responsibility to the other partner has been sufficient especially in cases of common law separations.

So many in’s and out’s to be considered when embarking on dividing your households and of course we here at Dominion Lending Centres would always advise legal counsel first and then talk to your mortgage brokers about what is required for the mortgage process.


Len Lane

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

13 Jun

Accelerated Bi-Weekly vs. Bi-Weekly Payments


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

When signing your mortgage commitment letter you will have to choose your payment frequency. If your goal is to re-pay your mortgage as quickly as possible, then you need to understand how different payment options will affect your repayment schedule.

So what are your options?

In general, most lenders will offer the borrower the option to decide which repayment schedule fits best with their lifestyle. The options include monthly, semi-monthly, bi-weekly, accelerated bi-weekly, weekly and accelerated weekly payments. Let’s use some simple math to determine which payment frequency will assist you in paying back your mortgage in the shortest time possible.

For the purposes of this exercise and to keep things simple, let’s use $100,000 as our mortgage amount. We’ll use a 5 year fixed rate at 2.54% with a 25 year amortization period and interest being compounded semi-annually.

Increasing your payment frequency doesn’t mean shortening your amortization.

As you can see from the table above, choosing to pay your mortgage more frequently doesn’t result in reducing your amortization schedule. The key to reducing your amortization is to make sure you choose an accelerated re-payment schedule.

We are going to focus on Accelerated bi-weekly vs. bi-weekly payments but the same principle can be applied to accelerated weekly payments as well.

By accelerating your repayment schedule, you reduce your amortization by 2.5 years.

Okay, we’ve just determined that accelerating your mortgage payments will reduce your amortization and the interest you pay. How does accelerated bi-weekly vs bi-weekly result in more principle being repaid?

It’s important to think of your payments as a stream of income for the mortgage lender. Mortgage payments are comprised of principal and interest payments. The interest is calculated based on your outstanding principal balance, meaning once the interest has been paid, the remainder of your payment is used towards paying down your principal balance.

By choosing an accelerated repayment schedule, the monthly payment is divided by 2 (bi-weekly) or by 4 (weekly). There are 52 weeks in a calendar year so if you make 26 bi-weekly payments, you are in effect paying your Lender the equivalent of 13 months of payments per year compared to 12 months payments with all non-accelerated repayment schedules.

This accelerated repayment of principal is what shortens your amortization.

13 monthly payments ÷ 26 = accelerated bi-weekly payment

Example: ($449.96 per month x 13 months) ÷ 26 = $224.98 accelerated bi-weekly payment

With a non-accelerated or regular payment plan, the Lender takes 12 months worth of payments and divides this by either 26 or 52 to come up with the bi-weekly (or weekly) payment. With this adjusted payment, the Lender still receives a stream of income of 12 monthly payments per year, so there is no additional principal available to accelerate the amortization.

12 monthly payments ÷ 26 = regular bi-weekly payment

Example: ($449.96 per month x 12 months) ÷ 26 = $207.67 regular bi-weekly payment

So now you know why choosing accelerated bi-weekly vs. bi-weekly payments results in 1 extra month of payments per year, which in turn shortens your amortization.

I always recommend this to anyone who can afford the increase in payment but I understand this option isn’t right for everyone. Another option to help shorten your amortization is to increase your payments, meaning more principal paid.

When you’re choosing your next mortgage, make sure you discuss payment options with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional that align with your overall goals for repaying your mortgage.


Brent Shepheard

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional