1 Nov

Credit Reports: You’ve Scored! But Are You Playing the Game?

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

For most people, your personal credit score and how a credit score is calculated are complete mysteries. How can you be expected to play and be successful if you aren’t even told the rules of the game? There are things borrowers can do to improve their score so they can access better mortgage products and save thousands of dollars, or qualify for their wonderful home when they otherwise might have trouble. Let’s stick handle through just some of the key things you should know about managing your credit score.

Amount owed and utilization accounts for 30% of your score. There are a lot of people that end up with high balances on their credits cards and struggle to meet the payments each month. If they manage to pay off their credit cards without seeing a mortgage broker to consolidate their debts, often the immediate response is to close the accounts. A better response is to cut up the cards and delete the numbers from your computer and devices and keep the accounts open. You want any remaining outstanding balances to be less than 75% of your total combined credit available, and if they are less than 35%, even better, because this keeps your utilization of available credit low and increases your credit score. Types of credit and the number of different credit products accounts for 10% of the score, so this is another reason you want to keep those accounts open. Cell phone providers are now reporting to the agencies that publish credit scores as well.

In some parts of the world where credit products are not well established, a borrower’s credit is evaluated based solely on how they have managed payments on their cell phone bills. It’s important to pay your cell phone bills on time; we’re all busy, so setup automatic payments to ensure a payment is not missed. My last word of advice for today is to monitor your credit score by purchasing your own credit report each year for about $25 so you know your score and to ensure the report is accurate. This will help you stay within the boundaries of the game.

There is a lot more to managing a credit score than I can get into in this short blog. If you would like to know more, contact me or your local Dominion Lending mortgage broker. We can provide advice to help you manage your credit score and put you in a better position to qualify for a mortgage with better rates. Know the rules of the game, plan ahead for your home financing, and play SMART.

Todd Skene

Dominion Lending Centres – Mortgage Professional
Todd Skene is the founder of DLC Home SMART Mortgage with DLC Pilot Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC.

29 Aug

Mortgage Strategies: Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

While most people start off their mortgage search by going after the lowest rate, what they are really after is the mortgage with the lowest cost. Then again, the majority of borrowers in Canada end up with a mortgage that is not the lowest rate nor the lowest cost. Strike 1!

Whether borrowers realize it or not, what is often more important to them is a mortgage with the lowest risk. So they end up with 5-year fixed mortgage that has a constant payment, which is usually not the lowest risk mortgage at all. Strike 2! Time to bring in a mortgage broker like myself or your local Dominion Lending broker to be the pinch hitter and go to bat for you.

There are 4 and only 4 mortgage strategies, and everything fits within these 4 strategies: Lowest Cost, Lowest Risk, Maximum Flexibility, and Lowest Payment. Expert investors think about financial transactions in these terms, and you should think about your mortgage in these terms too. Consider them like the 4 bases of a baseball diamond, you need to touch on every one of them to complete a home run. A mortgage broker like me or your local Dominion Lending Centres broker can help you prioritize your mortgage strategy based on your current financial goals, life situation, and risk tolerance, and the potential for various scenarios that could affect you over the term of the mortgage. You can’t achieve all 4 mortgage strategies together, there are trade-offs, but through strategic mortgage planning we can help guide you through the strategic options, help you determine the best strategy for you, and find the best mortgage products that fit your strategy.

So next time you are planning your mortgage, make sure to cover all 4 bases by thinking about The 4 Mortgage Strategies: Lowest Cost, Lowest Risk, Maximum Flexibility, and Lowest Payment, and get a mortgage broker like myself or your local Dominion Lending Centres broker to help you. Now that’s a Grand Slam!

Todd Skene

Dominion Lending Centres – Mortgage Professional
Todd Skene is the founder of DLC Home SMART Mortgage with DLC Pilot Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC.

27 Aug

Need an Appraisal – 7½ Tips for Success

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Do you need to get a current value of your property? Then you are going to need an appraisal.

Banks and other lending institutions want to know the “current” market value of your home before they consider loaning money on the property. An appraiser checks the general condition of your home and compares your home to other similar homes which have recently sold in order to define a comparable market value for your home.

Here are 7½ tips that can help you get top current market value.

Short version – Prepare your home as if it was going to be sold!!

Long version… If a picture is worth a thousand words, think what kind of story the pictures from your home are telling?

In the world of mortgages, lenders seldom set foot on the property before making a loan decision.

Instead, they rely on their trusted list of approved appraisers. All a lender usually gets is the appraiser’s pictures of your property and their comments about how your home was appraised.

Tip #1 – Clean up. The appraiser is basing the value of your property on how good it looks. Before the appraisal, prepare your home as if you’re selling it. Clean and declutter every room, vacuum, and scrub. Do whatever you can to make your home as presentable as possible.
Tip #2 – Pay attention to curb appeal. An appraisal is all about first impressions. And the very first one the appraiser gets is when they walk up to your property. Spend an hour or two making sure the outside of your house, townhouse or condo is warm and welcoming.

Tip #3 – The appraiser must be able to see every room of the home, no exceptions. Refusal to allow an appraiser to see any room will be noted in the appraisal can be a game stopper. There are times when it is not appropriate for the appraiser to take pictures of certain things and appraisers and lenders understand this, but refusal to grant access could kill your deal.

Tip #4 – Make a list of upgrades and features. It’s important that the appraiser is made aware of any updates you’ve made, especially those which are hidden, like new plumbing and electrical. If possible, give the appraiser this list. That way they have a reference as to what has been updated and how recent or professional that work was done.

Tip #5 – If you need to spend to update, be prudent. Many people think “bathrooms and kitchens” are the answer for getting high prices on home value. They aren’t. First, consider that kitchen and bathroom remodels can be some of the priciest reno costs. For that reason, it may be more prudent to spend a bit of money, for just a bit of updating. Paint, new flooring, new light or plumbing fixtures don’t break the bank, but can provide a dramatic impact and improve your home’s value.

Tip #6 – You know your neighbourhood better than your appraiser does. Find out what similar homes in your neighbourhood have sold for. Your property might look like one down the street, but if you believe the value of your property is worth more, let them know why.

Tip #7 – Lock up your pets. I’m sure most appraisers like pets, but some may be put off by your cat rubbing against their leg or the dog barking or following them around.

Tip #7½ – One last tip – don’t annoy the appraiser with questions and comments and follow them around. Instead, simply be prepared to answer any of their questions and, if you do have concerns or queries, wait until they’ve completed their viewing of the property, then ask.

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… Engage a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage expert!

Kelly Hudson

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Kelly is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Richmond, BC.

20 Jun

4 Home Improvements that will pay you back

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Some home improvements provide more of a payback when you sell the house down the road.

Here’s a list of the four home improvements which will provide the biggest payback when you sell.

  1.  Adding square footage – while this can be a very expensive project, adding to the size of a house can re-coup between 50-83% of your initial investment. Putting a bonus room on top of your front facing garage increases the square footage without having to enlarge the foundation.
  2. A deck addition – adding a deck makes a house feel larger and allows you to enjoy your backyard during the warmer months. Typically you can get between 65-90% of your investment back .
  3. Re-modeling the kitchen – one of the most important rooms in the house is the kitchen. A well done project will get you between 50-120% back when you sell the house but remember not to over-do the project. A million dollar kitchen in a $500,000 home won’t be fully appreciated by future buyers.
  4. A bathroom addition – the second room buyers check out is the bathroom. While re-modeling a bathroom will recoup a lot of the renovation costs adding a second bathroom to a one bathroom home is huge. Many home owners find that they get between 80-130% of the cost of the project.

If you are thinking about buying a home or renovating your present home, speak to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional about how they can help you to finance any of these projects in your mortgage and pay low interest rates.

David Cooke

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
David is part of DLC Jencor Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

28 May

6 ways to get a down payment

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

When is it time to think about saving for a down payment? I would say about a year before you think about buying a home. While that’s ideal in today’s world, we often do not have much time to save for a down payment. Sometimes your landlord is planning on retiring and wants to sell the property. How do you get a down payment?

Here’s a few ways to get a down payment for your home:

  1. Save – it’s old fashioned but it works. Open a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and put a set amount into it. If you don’t have the discipline arrange for automatic deposits from your bank account. How much can you save $50 a week? That’s $2,600 in a year. Not enough. How about $200 a week?
    Stay at the Mom & Dad Hotel – while your parents may not be able to help you with a down payment they often have a spare room that you can stay in. One year of not paying rent would make a good down payment even if you chip in for groceries.
  2. Extra Income – get a second job and bank every cent from it. I know of many young people who have a day job and are servers on the weekends.
  3. Home Buyer’s Plan – the federal government will allow you to pull up to $35,000 from your RRSP account. This goes for your partner. You could put down $70,000 between the two of you. These funds need to be returned to your RRSP over the next 15 years. This is a great quick source for a down payment.
  4. Take out an RRSP Loan – borrow an amount that you need for a down payment as an RRSP. Hold the funds for 90 + 1 days and you can withdraw the funds. The cons are that you now have more debt and you have to wait for 90 days. Most sellers want a possession day sooner than that.
  5. Sell an asset. I had a client sell his vintage Cadillac Fleetwood for a down payment. Be sure to get a receipt or to sign a bill of sale with the purchaser to show where the funds came from. Rare stamps or coins, another property or vehicle are all acceptable assets.
  6. The Bank of Mom and Dad – This may be the easiest way to get a down payment or it may not. Most parents are nearing retirement and trying to save funds. There can be creative ways to get a down payment. They might set up a a secured line of credit and use the equity in their home. You could make the payments over the next few years. Note: these payments must be included in your debt ratios. If they decide to gift you the funds and make the payments themselves a gift letter is all that’s needed. They could sell their home and move into a granny suite in the basement or over the garage.

Before you start it’s always a good idea to speak to your favourite Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

David Cooke

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
David is part of DLC Jencor Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

27 May

Zero Down Payment Mortgage–Does it Exist?

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Did you know that you can buy a home with ZERO down payment?? If a home purchase is your goal this year but you aren’t able to save up enough of a down payment, you may qualify for a low or zero down payment mortgage. One of our Lenders is offering a great zero down program.

What is a Flex-Down Mortgage?
A Flex-Down Mortgage is a mortgage product that has a flexible down payment amount. There is still a down-payment required, but it will vary based on the property value.

  • For a property valued under than or equal to $500,000, 5% down payment is required (sources available below)
  • For a property valued at greater than $500,000 and less than $1 million –5% down payment is required up to $500,000 with an additional 10% down payment on the portion of the home value above $500,000.

Flex-down mortgages can only be on first mortgages, not second or third or used in refinance situations. As noted above, the total property value has to be less than $1 million. This type of mortgage will also have insurance included with it—the premium will be lesser of the premium as a % of the total new loan amount or the premium as a % of the top-up portion additional loan based on the rates at that time.

Those that choose to go with this type of mortgage product will have to meet requirements, just like any other mortgage. There are a few specifications with this product:

  • You must show that you have standard income and employment verification papers
  • A credit score of 650 or higher is highly recommended
  • You must have no previous bankruptcies
  • Some lenders may still require you to have some of the down payment from your own resources

Those considering this type of mortgage are recommended to have very little debt and be able to accommodate the additional cost of higher mortgage insurance (due to the higher risk to the lender on this type of mortgage). Typically, the insurance premium would be 0.2% higher on a flex down mortgage.

How it Works
You can borrow your 5% payment from a Line of Credit or even a credit card. This can then be used for your down payment. You have to disclose this to the Insurer and it will be on the application that goes to the Lender.

This is perfect for someone just getting into a new high paying job or for someone who is renting and can afford higher monthly payments but would take forever to save up the 5% down payment. This type of mortgage product can be an excellent option if you don’t quite have enough for the down payment. Are you interested in learning more about this mortgage product? Contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional who can show you how a Flex mortgage can make the home of your dreams happen sooner than you think!

Geoff Lee

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Geoff is part of DLC GLM Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC.

21 May

Renovating? Consider a Refinance Plus Improvements

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Let’s take a closer look at how a Refinance Plus Improvements mortgage can get you the extra cash you need to get your renovations completed.

The Standard Refinance

An everyday refinance allows the home owner to access up to 80% of the fair market value of the home. The value is typically determined by a Market Appraisal on the home. Here is how it would look:

  • Current Appraised Value of the home: $250,000.00
  • Max New Mortgage Amount: $200,000.00 ß 80% of present value
  • Your current Mortgage Balance: $190,000
  • Equity Available to you for the renovations: $10,000.00

*Note: some of the equity will cover closing costs (it is a new mortgage after all, so a new registration and fund advance needs to happen. If you are breaking a current mortgage, there could be a pre-payment penalty as well)

The remaining equity can be used towards your improvements. But what happens if it’s not enough to cover the improvement costs? You’re now stuck with either making sacrifices to your dream reno, covering the additional costs out of pockets, use a higher interest line of credit or not doing the renovations at all. None of which are a great options.

The Refinance Plus Improvements Mortgage

Here is how the Refinance Plus Improvements mortgage can make all the difference.

For argument sake, let’s assume for a moment that the home owner is thinking about renovating their kitchen and main bathroom. These are in no way a small improvement. They are quite significant improvements…new flooring, cabinets, counter tops and paint in the kitchen along with a full gut and renovation in the main bathroom.

After sitting down with a Mortgage Broker to determine mortgage affordability, the home owners next step is getting estimates for the renovations. After having multiple contractors quote on the work, the home owner settles on a contractor that has quoted $20,000.00 for the job (Labour and materials costs, all in, turn key project). Let’s also assume for a moment that the renovations are going to increase the value of the home by $30,000.00 (side note: Kitchen and Main Bathroom Renovations can have the biggest impact on the value of a home). Here is how it would look:

Refinance Plus improvements:

  • Current Home Value: $250,000.00
  • Post Renovation Home Value: $280,000.00
  • New Max Mortgage Amount: $224,000.00
  • Your Current Mortgage Balance: $190,000.00
  • Equity Available for the renovations: $34,000.00

See the difference? The refinance plus improvements in this scenario can get the home owner access to an additional $24,000, far exceeding the improvements planned for home. No sacrifices required. No unsecured higher interest financing required. No need to tap into personal savings. Just a nice new mortgage with a low interest rate and one simple payment.

If you have questions about how a refinance plus improvements mortgage can make all of the difference with your renovations plans, please feel free to connect with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you. We are always happy to chat mortgage strategy with you while at the same time shopping the market and rates on your behalf!

Happy Renovating!

Nathan Lawrence

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Nathan is part of DLC Lakehead Financial based in Thunder Bay, ON.

9 May

Sole Proprietors

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Sole proprietors are individuals who run their own business and do not have it set up as a corporation or partnership. The biggest difference between them and a corporation is that a sole proprietor does not have separation between their business and themselves. This means that when taxes are filed, all costs that are essential to the operation of the business are tax deductible on the individuals tax return. For example, an electrician who operates as a sole proprietor may earn $80,000 a year in income. However, costs such as materials, vehicle expenses, office space, or marketing (to name a few), are subtracted from the gross income- $80,000 in this case.

If those costs added up to $15,000 in a fiscal year, that sole proprietor really only earns $65,000 of income in the eyes of the lender. That is because the amount they are taxed on is the net income of $65,000 not the gross business income of $80,000. When submitting an application for a sole proprietor, you can either use a 2-year average of the net business income (income qualified) or state the income (stated files) based on history of earnings and the businesses write offs/expenses.

Majority of the time, we take the previous two years of income reported on line 236 of the T1 Generals, add them together, and divide that by two. If a business earned $80,000 of gross income and $65,000 of net income in year 1, and then $90,000 of gross income and $70,000 of net income in year 2, their income in the eyes of the lender is $67,500 ($65,000 + $70,000 = $135,000/2 = $67,500). There is an opportunity to “gross up” the 2-year average by 15%, but that requires a closer look at what the business has claimed as write offs for their business expenses. A gross up of 15% on $67,500 of income would equal $77,625.

Operating a business as a sole proprietor is a small cost when comparing it to a corporation, main reason being there is only one tax return prepared for both the business and the individual. The down side, an individual must pay income tax at the personal tax rate on the entire net income, whether they required all that income or not.

A corporation on the other hand, pays income tax at a different tax rate lower than the personal tax rate. That way, an individual only needs to take the income out of the corporation that they need, decreasing the amount of income tax they pay on their personal tax return (if money is left inside the corporation).

If you are a sole proprietor and are curious to know what kind of mortgage amount you can qualify for, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

Ryan Oake

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Ryan is part of DLC Producers West Financial based in Langley, BC.

30 Apr

Pre-Approvals & Pre-Qualifications

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Throughout the mortgage and home buying process, there are many steps and many checkpoints a buyer will need to complete before they can move on to the next one. A buyer will not be able to close on a purchase if they do not have a lawyer. Financing conditions need to be lifted after confirmation from a mortgage broker that a file is broker complete. A buyer should never write an offer on a home until they have a realtor working for them. Most importantly, a buyer should never be looking at property they are considering buying until they have been pre-qualified and pre-approved.

Now, one thing we need to make clear- pre-qualified and pre-approved are two different things. Pre-qualified is when someone completes a mortgage application with a mortgage broker or a bank representative and is told how much they can afford. Pre-approved is when someone has written confirmation from a lender stating they are willing to lend based on what is stated in an application and the applicant’s current credit history.

The difference?

Pre-qualifications are based solely on the knowledge and experience (sometimes even opinion) of a broker or bank rep. A pre-approval on the other hand is backed by the lender actually willing to give you the money. When someone says they are pre-qualified, that means they have taken an application with a mortgage broker or bank and in broker or bank rep’s opinion, they can afford “x” amount on a home. A pre-approval is a written letter from a lender stating based on applicants current credit history, declared income on application and current assets, we will lend “x” amount pending confirmation everything stated in the application is verifiable and the property meets all lender requirements.

As you can probably tell, one can be more reliable than the other, especially if you are working with a mortgage broker or bank rep that is inexperienced in the industry. Pre-approvals also usually come with a rate hold. What a rate hold does is guarantee you the interest rates that lender is offering today for a certain amount of time (usually 120 days), and if you put an offer on a place within that time period, they will give you that previous rate even if they went up. If rates go down, they will allow you to access the lower interest rate as well.

You must always get yourself pre-qualified before you begin looking at homes so you know what you can afford. Once you have and you are actively looking, it is very important you try and get a pre-approval before you write an offer. It will give you that extra confirmation your application is acceptable, and protect you against interest rate increases while you look.

If you require a pre-qualification, pre-approval, or want to speak with someone about your current situation, please give a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional a call.

Ryan Oake

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Ryan is part of DLC Producers West Financial based in Langley, BC

6 Apr

Source of Funds

General

Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Over the past several years, investigators have been working on an ongoing investigation relating to criminal money laundering in Canada. Looking at B.C. alone, billions of dollars have been laundered through B.C. casinos by criminal organizations and parked in high end B.C. real estate over the past decade or more.

With government citing limited resources and a lack of funds available to conduct a proper investigation, criminals have been able to manipulate and take advantage of the Canadian and B.C. legal system for years and it is now finally coming to light the impact it has had on our economy, most notably our real estate market.

One of the measures the government implemented several years ago to help crack down on this was sourcing the funds people were using for the down payment on their home purchases. Lenders are required by the federal and provincial government to collect a minimum of 30 days of transaction history for every bank account where money comes from to help complete a purchase on real estate. Most lenders are still requiring 90 days and they are also required, by the government, to source any large deposits above $1,000 that are unrelated to employment income.

If you have e-transfers and transfers between your own accounts within the 90 day period, the lender will require a 90 day history of the account in which funds were deposited from. That means, if you have a savings account reserved just for a down payment, but you put $1,000 a month in there from your chequing account, brought in $5,000 from a TFSA, and put in $3,000 in cash all before you wrote an offer on a home, a lender is going to want to see 90 day history of your savings, your chequing, and your TFSA account as well as an explanation on where the $3,000 cash came from.

Most people find this frustrating and rightfully so, you are handing over personal information over a long period of time. However, due to the extreme affect money laundering has had on our economy, these rules are likely not going anywhere. When preparing your down payment, be prepared that the lender will be required to collect a 90 day history of every account you have where money is coming from to help cover your down payment. This is not because the lender feels like it, this is because the government regulators who review the loans the banks give out need to see that the lender verified the money was legitimate.

Also, with your T4’s and Notice of Assessments usually going into lenders, if you are just starting a new job and were making $20,000 a year while in school and now have $150,000 in savings for your down payment a year out of school, the lender is allowed to ask for a full year history because your income does not justify the savings you have.

Be prepared! Lenders are required to source down payment funds and with more and more news coming out every month on money laundering, the rules may only get more rigid. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

 

Ryan Oake

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Ryan is part of DLC Producers West Financial based in Langley, BC.