19 Mar

What Is a “Monoline” Lender?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

What usually follows once someone hears the term “Monoline Lender” for the first time is a feeling of suspicion and lack of trust. It’s understandable, I mean why is this “bank” you’ve never heard of willing to loan you money when you’ve never banked with them before?

In an effort to help you see the benefits of working with a Monoline Lender, here is some basic information that will help you understand why you’ve never heard of them, why you want to, and the reason they are referred to as lenders, not banks.

Monoline Lenders only operate in the mortgage space. They do not offer chequing or savings accounts, nor do they offer investments through RRSPs, GICs, or Tax-Free Savings Accounts. They are called Monoline because they have one line of business- mortgages.

This also plays into the reasons you never see their name or locations anywhere. There is no need for them to market on bus stop benches or billboards as they are only accessible through mortgage brokers, making their need to market to you unnecessary. The branch locations are also unnecessary because you do not have day-to-day banking, savings accounts, investment accounts, or credit cards through them. All your banking stays the exact same, with the only difference of a pre-authorized payments coming from your account for the monthly mortgage payment. Any questions or concerns, they have a phone number and communicate documents through e-mail.

Would it help Monoline Lenders to advertise and create brand awareness with the public? Absolutely. Is it necessary for them to remain in business? No.

Monoline Lenders also have some of the lowest interest rates on the market, the most attractive pre-payment privileges, and the lowest pre-payment penalties, especially when compared to a bigger bank like CIBC or RBC. If you don’t think these points are important, ask someone whose had a mortgage with one of these bigger banks and sold their property before their term was up and paid upwards of $12,000 in penalty fees. An equivalent amount with a Monoline Lender would be anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 in fees.

Monoline Lenders are not to be feared, they should be welcomed, as they are some of the most accommodating and client service-oriented lenders around! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.


Ryan Oake

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

1 Mar

4 Signs You’re Ready For Homeownership


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

While most people know the main things they need to buy a home, such as stable employment and enough money for a down payment, there are a few other factors that may help you realize you’re ready, perhaps even earlier than you thought!

As a mortgage broker, it is my job to ensure that each one of my clients is getting the best service I can provide. Part of this means educating as much as possible when it comes to buying a home, which is why I’ve put together a list of 4 signs that may tell you that you are ready to become a homeowner.

You should have more funds available than the minimum of a down payment
This one may seem obvious, but it’s something that people may not realize until they actually think about it. It’s very difficult to afford a home if you only have enough money for a down payment and then find yourself scrambling for day-to-day living after that.

If you have enough money saved up (more than the minimum needed for a down payment), you may be ready to start house-hunting.

Your credit score is good
This might seem obvious at first glance, however, if you don’t have a good credit score, chances increase that you could be declined altogether or stuck with a higher interest rate and thus end up paying higher mortgage payments. If you have a less-than-optimal credit score, working with a mortgage professional can help you get on the right track in the shortest time possible. Sometimes a few subtle changes can bump a credit score from “meh” to “yahoo” in a few short months.

Breaking the bank isn’t in your future plans
Do you plan on buying two new vehicles in the next two years? Are you thinking of starting a family? Are you considering going back to school?

Although you may think you can afford to purchase a home right now, it’s extremely important to think about one, two, and five years down the road. If you know that you aren’t planning on incurring big expenses that you need to factor into your budget anytime soon, then that’s something that may help you decide to buy a home.

You are disciplined
It’s easy to say, “it’s a home, I’m going to have it for a long time so I may as well go all-in!”. While that would be nice, that’s rarely the case!

You must have a limit that you’re willing to spend. Sitting down with a mortgage broker or real estate agent and analyzing your finances is crucial. It’s important that you know costs associated with buying a home and what the maximum amount is that you can afford without experiencing financial struggles. IMPORTANT: This is not the amount that you are told is your max!

This is the amount that you calculate as your max based on your current monthly budget and savings plan. It’s quite frequent where I have clients tell me that their max budget is, say, $1200 and then when I run the numbers they could actually be approved for much more. Low and behold suddenly these guys are looking at homes that are hundreds of dollars a month higher than their initial perceived budget. It is up to you (with my help or pleading, when necessary) to reel things back in and make sure that you aren’t getting into something that affects the long-term livelihood of a well thought out budget or savings plan.


These are just four signs that you may be ready to purchase a home. If you’re seriously considering buying or selling, talking with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker, such as myself, can help put you on the right path to a successful real estate transaction.


Shaun Serafini

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Shaun is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Excellence based in Lethbridge, AB.

21 Feb

RRSP – Use home buyers’ plan (HBP) more than once


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Under the home buyers’ plan, a participant and his or her spouse or common- law partner is allowed to withdraw up to $25,000 from his or her RRSP to buy a home. Before 1999, only the first- time home buyers are permitted to buy a home under this plan. Now a person can take an advantage of HBP plan more than one, two, three, four or more times as long as the participant in this plan fulfills all other conditions. The house can be existing or can be built.

Are you a first – time home buyer?
You are considered a first-time home buyer if, in the four year period, you did not occupy a home that you or your current spouse or common-law partner owned. The four-year period begins on January 1st of the fourth year before the year you withdraw funds and ends 31 days before the date you withdraw the funds.
For example, if you withdraw funds on March 31, 2018, the four-year period begins on January 1, 2014 and ends on February 28, 2018.
If you have previously participated in the HBP, you may be able to do so again if your repayable HBP balance on January 1st of the year of the withdrawal is zero and you meet all the other HBP eligibility conditions.
Qualifying home – a qualifying home is a housing unit located in Canada. This includes existing homes and those being constructed. Single-family homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, mobile homes, condominium units, and apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings all qualify. A share in a co-operative housing corporation that entitles you to possess, and gives you an equity interest in a housing unit located in Canada, also qualifies.

Repayment of withdrawal amount into RRSP
Generally, you have up to 15 years to repay to your RRSP, the amounts you withdrew from your RRSP(s) under the HBP. However, you can repay the full amount into your RRSP(s)
Each year, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will send you a Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) statement of account, with your notice of assessment or notice of reassessment.
The statement will include:
• the amount you have repaid so far (including any additional payments and amounts you included on your income tax and benefit return because they were not repaid);
• your remaining HBP balance; and
• the amount you have to contribute to your RRSP and designate as a repayment for the following year.

If you have any questions contact a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional near you.


Gurcharan Singh

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Gurcharan is part of DLC Canadian Anderson Financial Mortgage Team based in Winnipeg, MB.

20 Nov

10 things NOT to do when applying for a mortgage – buying a home or refinancing


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Have you been approved for a mortgage and waiting for the completion date to come? Well, it is not smooth sailing until AFTER the solicitor has registered the new mortgage. Be sure to avoid these 10 things below or your approval status can risk being reversed!

1. Don’t change employers or job positions
Any career changes can affect qualifying for a mortgage. Banks like to see a long tenure with your employer as it shows stability. When applying for a mortgage, it is not the time to become self employed!

2. Don’t apply for any other loans
This will drastically affect how much you qualify for and also jeopardize your credit rating. Save the new car shopping until after your mortgage funds.

3. Don’t decide to furnish your new home or renovations on credit before the completion date of your mortgage
This, as well, will affect how much you qualify for. Even if you are already approved for a mortgage, a bank or mortgage insurance company can, and in many cases do, run a new credit report before completion to confirm your financial status and debts have not changed.

4. Do not go over limit or miss any re-payments on your credit cards or line of credits
This will affect your credit score, and the bank will be concerned with the ability to be responsible with credit. Showing the ability to be responsible with credit and re-payment is critical for a mortgage approval

5. Don’t deposit “mattress” money into your bank account
Banks require a three-month history of all down payment being used when purchasing a property. Any deposits outside of your employment or pension income, will need to be verified with a paper trail. If you sell a vehicle, keep a bill of sale, if you receive an income tax credit, you will be expected to provide the proof. Any unexplained deposits into your banking will be questioned.

6. Don’t co-sign for someone else’s loan
Although you may want to do someone else a favour, this debt will be 100% your responsibility when you go to apply for a mortgage. Even as a co-signor you are just as a responsible for the loan, and since it shows up on your credit report, it is a liability on your application, and therefore lowering your qualifying amount.

7. Don’t try to beef up your application, tell it how it is!
Be honest on your mortgage application, your mortgage broker is trying to assist you so it is critical the information is accurate. Income details, properties owned, debts, assets and your financial past. IF you have been through a foreclosure, bankruptcy, consumer proposal, please disclose this info right away.

8. Don’t close out existing credit cards
Although this sounds like something a bank would favour, an application with less debt available to use, however credit scores actually increase the longer a card is open and in good standing. If you lower the level of your available credit, your debt to credit ratio could increase and lowering the credit score. Having the unused available credit, and cards open for a long duration with good re-payment is GOOD!

9. Don’t Marry someone with poor credit (or at lease be prepared for the consequences that may come from it)

So you’re getting married, have you had the financial talk yet? Your partner’s credit can affect your ability to get approved for a mortgage. If there are unexpected financial history issues with your partner’s credit, make sure to have a discussion with your mortgage broker before you start shopping for a new home.

10. Don’t forget to get a pre-approval!
With all the changes in mortgage qualifying, assuming you would be approved is a HUGE mistake. There could also be unknown changes to your credit report, mortgage product or rate changes, all which influence how much you qualify for. Thinking a pre-approval from several months ago or longer is valid now, would also be a mistake. Most banks allow a pre-approval to be valid for 4 months, be sure to communicate with your mortgage broker if you need an extension on a pre-approval.


Jennifer Fuentes

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Jennifer is part of DLC Gold Financial Services based in Langley, BC.

2 Nov

How to Get a Mortgage After Bankruptcy


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Bankruptcy is always the last resort-and it’s never easy or comfortable. However, sometimes it is the only option to turn to when life throws you something unexpected. The lasting impression it can have on one’s financial profile though can be overwhelming.

If you have bankruptcy in your past, don’t fear-we have 6 steps to take to help get you back on track and qualifying for your mortgage!

Step 1: Get official discharge quickly.
The quicker you are discharged from your bankruptcy, the quicker you can start rebuilding your credit. This starts with finding a good bankruptcy trustee. You can contact the BBB or Chamber of Commerce to find out recommendations, but we can also provide you with connections to complete your discharge in the shortest time possible.

Step 2: Review your most recent credit score.
You will need to pull from Equifax and TransUnion Canada. They are the two governing credit bureau organizations that manage credit reports in Canada. Look over both reports carefully and make sure there are no surprises and that your debts have been paid off completely. As a general guideline, getting a credit report yearly is a good rule of thumb. You’re managing your credit-if you see a mistake on the report it is up to you to follow the steps to get the mistake corrected.
If you find a mistake, you do have the right to dispute or explain ‘situations or mistakes’ to your bureau. Contact the credit reporting agency immediately and ask about their dispute resolution process. If you still do not agree with an item following the agency’s investigation, visit this link for TransUnion or this link for Equifax to find out how you can add an explanation statement to your report.

Step 3: Re-establish your credit
Mortgages are much easier to get with good credit. You will want to start to rebuild your credit as soon as you possibly can. To do this you will want to open up 2 tradelines (credit cards) through a secured institution such as Capital One, Home Trust, Peoples Trust, etc. They start with putting as little as $500 down with your credit being based on your deposit. Next, follow the 2-2-2 rule. This means you will want to keep those 2 lines of credit with a max limit of $2000 for 2 years. Keeping in mind that you must pay your bill on time each month (even if it is just the minimum payments).

Step 4: Pay any outstanding taxes to revenue Canada
This is probably one of the most important things to remember when you are getting a mortgage! If your taxes are unpaid then there is nothing we can do to help! You won’t qualify for any mortgage until any owing debts to Revenue Canada are paid off.

Step 5: Start Saving!
With all of the mortgage regulations in place now it is important to understand how much you will need to save to put down on a home. This will vary from person to person and situation to situation. Your personal history, credit score, etc. will have an effect on this as well. There are literally 100’s of ways that you can start saving money. Remember, every little bit helps!

Step 6: Put budgeted savings into an RRSP for the down payment
One of the easiest ways to make money on your savings, is to keep them in an RRSP fund. If you are a first-time home buyer in Canada you can borrow up to $25,000 from your RRSP’s to use towards the down payment on your new home. The beautiful thing about keeping it in an RRSP fund is the larger tax refund you will receive—for every $1,000-dollar contribution you will get $400 back! Now that’s smart saving!

In addition to these 6 steps, we recommend that you keep all bankruptcy documents on hand. Even though your bankruptcy has been discharged, the lender which you are applying for a mortgage with may ask you to provide a copy of the statement of discharge, along with copies of the bankruptcy papers. Keep them safe and on hand as this is a key piece of information to help you get a mortgage faster and easier.

Declaring bankruptcy is one of the life events that no one wants to face. But if that is part of your history, a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist will walk you through the mortgage process and go above and beyond to make sure that you acquire the mortgage you are looking for!

Geoff Lee

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

31 Oct

5 Simple Steps to Owning Your Own Home


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Often, the route to owning your own home can seem like a trip to the moon and back.

Really though, it comes down to five key steps:

1 – Manage your credit wisely.
If there is one thing that will gum up the purchase of that perfect home, it’s an unwise purchase or extra credit obtained. Keep your credit spending to a minimum at all times, make every payment on time and most of all pay more than the minimum payment. Remember that if you just make the minimum payment on your credit cards, chances are you will still be making payments 100 years from now.

2- Assemble a down payment.
At first glance, the challenge of finding a down payment can seem insurmountable. In fact, you just need to consider all the sources for down payment funds. yes, you will have saved some but remember you can also, in some situations, use RRSP funds, grants ( BC Home Equity Partnership for example ) and non traditional sources like insurance settlements, severance and of course, gifted funds from a family member. Don’t forget that you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve had the funds on deposit for up to 90 days and also that you have an additional one and a half percent of the mortgage amount for closing costs.

3- Figure out how much you can afford.
It’s at this point that most people usually stop and scratch their heads. Some even try and tough it out, using the raft of online calculators to figure it out, but new mortgage rules can make even that a challenge.
If you talk to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist ( like me! ) though, they can help you figure it out and even go as far as getting you a “pre-approval” from a financial institution. This can give you the confidence you need to actually start looking around.

4- Figure out what you want.
You’ll want to make a list of things your new home has to have and what the neighbourhood has to have. Things you want to think about are the things that are important to you now; is there access to a dog park? Is there ensuite laundry? Divide the list into things you can’t live without and things you’d like to have. It’s way easier to look when you know what you want to look at.

5- Look with your head, buy with your heart.
The final step is, with the help of a realtor, look at properties that meet your requirements. Yes, the market is a little frenzied at the moment, but remember, if your perfect property is sold to someone else, the next perfect property will soon appear.

When you do finally buy, chances are, you’ll buy with your heart. My sister Noona moved to London some years back and after settling in, decided to buy. Her list was fairly lengthy, one of the key elements was being able to walk to work. In a market similar to what we face now, she found a property that met most of her requirements. In the end though, she bought with heart, mostly because of the view from the balcony.

The decision which home to buy is a tricky thing, it should be made with your head and heart. Deciding, while balancing what you think and feel, really is rocket science.

I know that this may seem to be an oversimplification but really, the thing that complicates the process is your own emotions – all of the stress that comes along with making a life change can make the process challenging.

Jonathan Barlow

Dominion Lending Centres – Mortgage Professional
Jonathan is part of DLC A Better Way based in Surrey, BC.

29 Sep

Paperwork You MUST Keep


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

As a mortgage professional there are things I wish more people were aware of which is why we are going to take a look into the paperwork we all need to hold onto to avoid frustration or even a decline when applying for a mortgage. Each of the following is taken from real life observations of everyday folks just like you and I.

1. Separation Agreement – When you apply for a mortgage one of the first questions we ask is marital status. If your answer is separated or divorced then the banks are going to want to see the official document. They are seeking to ensure that you do not have any alimony or child support payments which will make it difficult to pay the mortgage. The legal system only keeps these documents for 7 years after which you will not be able to get a copy. Your marital status is reported on your tax return which can trigger the request for this documentation long after it seems relevant.

2. Proof of Debts paid– Keep all records of debts you have paid! Here are three real world examples.
a) Client A has paid off her mortgage, receives verification from the bank and promptly destroys the paperwork at a mortgage burning party just like on the commercial. Due to a clerical error the debt as paid is not reported to land titles so the mortgage remains vested against the property adding additional steps when she goes to get a new loan.
b) Client B pays out his truck loan in full and receives a letter stating this. Due to a clerical error the interest accrued shows a small outstanding balance. The client believes all is well while the small debt quickly hits a written off status on the credit bureau and he is declined for a mortgage three years later.
c) Client C settles with a collection agency on a debt gone bad – The debt is not reported as paid to the credit agencies and the ‘ongoing’ bad debt causes a large drop to her score and she pays higher rates than she should. The collection agency has since gone out of business and there is no record of the payment to be found.

3. Bankruptcy/Orderly Payment of Debts – As with the separation agreement, the trustee will only keep a copy for 7 years. When you apply for a mortgage, the bank will want to ensure they were not affected by the bankruptcy and also to determine if there was a foreclosure. Even though this information is supposed to fall off the credit report that is not always the case.

4. Child Maintenance – whether paying or receiving child support, you will want to keep all correspondence in regards to this to ensure you are receiving the appropriate credit for monies paid or have been given all the money you were supposed to have received.

Emotionally you have valid reason to want each of these documents so far away from you but realistically you are likely to need them at some point. There are a number of online services such as Dropbox or Google Drive where you could scan these to yourself and save them digitally. Alternatively, you could spend a small amount of money on an accordion style file folder and go old school with actual paper copies of all of the above applicable to your situation.

If you have any questions, please contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

Pam Pikkert

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

25 Sep

Bridge Financing – How Does It Work?


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Rarely in life do things go as planned, especially in real estate.
In a perfect world, when buying a new home, most people want to take possession of their new house before having to move out of the old one. This makes moving a lot easier and allows you time for painting or renovations prior to moving into your new home.

Where it gets complicated; most people need the money from the sale of their existing house to come up with the down payment for the new house!!
This is where bridge financing comes in.

Bridge financing allows you to bridge the financial gap between the firm sale of your current home, and the firm commitment to purchase your new home.

Bridge financing allows you to access some of the equity in your existing property, which you can use towards the down payment on the new property you are buying.
Where many people get confused is that in order to secure bridge financing, you must have a firm sale on your existing house. That means all subjects have been removed!!
If you haven’t sold your home, you won’t get the bridge financing, because there is no concrete way for a lender to calculate how much equity you have available and if you can afford your new home.

For most people, unless you can qualify and pay for two mortgages, you should always sell your existing home before purchasing a new one. Why?
• With today’s property values constantly changing, you won’t know how much money you have until you sell your home. Your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it NOW! Past sales and future guesses don’t count!
• You need the proceeds from your existing home to help pay for your new home’s down payment, renovations, moving costs and (if required) how much mortgage you qualify for.

If you have sold your existing home but your closing date is after the closing date of the new property you just purchased, then bridge financing is your best option:
• Your new lender must allow for bridge financing (not all banks allow bridge financing as an option). Your mortgage broker can work with you to find a lender who offers bridge financing.
• Bridge financing costs more than your traditional mortgage (i.e. Prime + 2-4% plus an administration fee).
• Typically bridge loans are restricted to 90 days.
What happens if I don’t sell my home?
Banks will not provide you with a bridge loan if you don’t have a firm sale agreement for your home since the loan can’t be open-ended. If you don’t have a firm selling date you may need to consider a private lender for the bridge loan.

Private Financing

If you have purchased your home and it is closing and your existing home has not sold, then you may have to take out a private loan:
• This option is expensive and is based on you having enough equity in your current property to qualify.
• Typically, private financing comes with a high interest rate 7-15% plus an upfront lender fee + broker fee. These amounts will vary based on your specific situation, such as time required for loan, loan amount, loan to value, credit bureau, property location, etc.
• Private financing is expensive, but it could be cheaper than lowering the purchase price of your existing home by tens of thousands of dollars to sell your existing home quickly.

Your bank doesn’t do this type of financing. You must use a specialized mortgage broker who has access to individuals that lend money out privately.
Bridge financing & private financing are solutions when your buy and sell days don’t work.

Don’t waste your time trying to sort all this out on your own. Give a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist a call and let’s figure out what your best option would be.

Kelly Hudson

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

19 Sep

Mortgage Basics – Types of Insurance


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

In part one of this two-part series, we will look at the types of insurances you will hear about during the mortgage process. Sometimes it is a good idea to revisit the basics when looking at a complex thing like a mortgage. There can be misunderstandings which crop up. The mortgage process can be very stressful as you wait for some anonymous entity to decide whether or not you are able to buy the home of your dreams. It is no wonder that things can get missed. Fear not! We will take a look at some of the basics so you can avoid things best avoided.

1. Mortgage Default Insurance – There are three mortgage default insurance providers in Canada. CMHC, Genworth and Canada Guaranty. If you are purchasing a home with less than 20% down you will have to be approved by both the lender and the default insurance provider for the loan. They are looking at your credit, employment stability and the property itself to make their decision. If you default on the mortgage, the bank or mortgage provider is made whole on any shortfall. The cost is a set amount based on how much you are putting down and will be added to your mortgage so you do not have to worry that you need to come up with extra funds for it. As of today based on a standard borrower the premiums are shown in the following table though it is an important note that the premiums are higher in certain cases.
LTV Ratio Premium Rate
Up to 65% 0.60%
65.01% – 75% 1.70%
75.01% – 80% 2.40%
80.01% – 85% 2.80%
85.01% – 90% 3.10%
90.01% – 95% 4.00%

2. Title Insurance – This is required on most mortgages these days. The cost is around $250 and will be collected from you at the lawyer’s office. Title insurance is often used instead of a Real Property Report as it is quicker and less expensive. If for example, the garage on your new home had been constructed offside of where it should be, it is the responsibility of the title insurance to make it right. This could happen by getting the city to allow it or in the worst case, to cover the cost to move the garage.

3. Home Insurance – You have a legal responsibility to make sure you have property insurance. This protects you against things like fire, flood or theft. You will be required to provide verification of the insurance when you meet with the lawyer. You will probably want to do a bit of research before choosing your company. Not all insurance policies are equal and a truly awful time to find that out is after a horrible event.

4. Life Insurance – You will be offered life and disability insurance with your mortgage. Most of us assume that we have sufficient coverage through work but the protection of your family and their home should be given serious consideration. You are not obligated to accept the insurance provided to you but please factor the cost of sufficient coverage into your budget when you are thinking of buying your home. A few things to consider:

– The younger you are when you get insurance the cheaper it is.
– If you leave your current employer or get laid off and have developed a health concern it can be problematic to find affordable if any coverage.
– If you choose the insurance from the mortgage lender or bank you may find yourself tied to them indefinitely if you experience a change in your health. This could mean higher rates at renewal.
– Disability is the number one reason for foreclosure in Cana which goes to show that it can and does happen too many of us.
And there you have the four types of insurance which will be discussed around your mortgage. If you have any questions, please contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

Pam Pikkert

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

13 Sep

Gather Your Mortgage’s Down Payment


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

For many people, saving enough for a down payment on a house is not an easy task. (You can’t rely on finding One-Eyed Willy’s treasure like they did in the Goonies movie, either!) Once you have an idea as to how much you can afford on your home, relative to your salary and monthly costs, it’s time to get that down payment! For a starter home, a 5% down payment is often enough.

Your down payment can come from several sources, including your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or a gift from immediate family, such as parents or grandparents.


The TFSA lets you save your extra cash for just about anything — including a new house— without paying any tax on the growth within the account or on withdrawals. Since the TFSA was introduced in 2009, it’s estimated that only around half of Canadians have opened one, so be sure to start yours today. Should you use your TFSA for your down payment, you pay no taxes on the withdrawal.

There are many clever ways to make the TFSA and RRSP work together to improve your wealth. Generally, RRSPs are a good choice for longer-term goals such as retirement, while TFSAs work better for more immediate objectives, such as a house down payment.


With the federal government’s Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), you can use up to $25,000 of your RRSP savings ($50,000 for a couple) to help finance your down payment on a home. To qualify, the RRSP funds you’re using must be on deposit for at least 90 days. For first-time home buyers, taxes are not paid on withdrawals of your RRSP and the repayment period starts the second year after the year you withdrew funds.

Gifted Down Payment

A Gifted Down Payment is very common for first time buyers. 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 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) premiums.

If you put down 20% or more on your down payment, it can all be from a gift. If you put down less than 20%, part of the money can be a gift, but part must come from your own funds. This minimum contribution varies by loan type. You can only use gift money on primary residences and second homes.

All that is required for documentation is a signed Gift Letter from the parents, which states that the money does not have to be repaid, 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 a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist to make sure that your lender accepts “gifts” as an acceptable down payment.

Max Omar

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Max is part of DLC Capital Region based in Edmonton, AB.