22 Mar

New Credit Reporting and What It Says About You


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

New credit reporting and what it says about you and your spending habits may make all the difference between you buying a home now or later.

When home buyers contact me to apply for a mortgage, I always review their credit report with them along with the rest of their application, before they start looking at homes with a Realtor. If there are any issues with the credit history we can determine the reason, the next course of action and how it will impact financing a purchase.

There is a lot of valuable information in a credit report which provides an overview for lenders about your ability to borrow money. Consistent late payments, collections and bankruptcy have the biggest impact on lowering your score. Running a high balance or over your limit on your credit cards will also drive your credit score down. Scores range from 300-900 and a difference in score by as little as 50 points says a lot to a lender about you as the borrower. For example, a score of 550-599 represents 21% of delinquencies while a score of 600-649 only 11%. Delinquency rates are defined as those who have late payments beyond 90 days. If your score falls from one bracket to the lower bracket with late payments or collections, the difference can affect the interest rate you can receive or, worse yet, if you can qualify for the mortgage amount you need.

The most recent software update for the credit bureau reporting system has added some features which could have a significant impact on reporting. The new reports, which were released in early 2015, show three credit scores and one overall score.

The first score ranks based on open credit and balance to limit ratio. So if you have lots of open credit and your balances are low or reasonable the score is higher. High balances or over limit on all credit cards will drop your score.

The second score ranks based on late payments and collections over $250. If your late payments are beyond 90 days, your score will drop dramatically.

The third score ranks based on the number of third party collections in the last 3 years and the oldest revolving credit. So if you have outstanding parking tickets or an unpaid gym membership that you forgot about — they will come back to haunt you.

These individual scores were created to show specific behaviour by a borrower and if the credit score is trending up or down. This can give the lender an indication of a chronic issues with a potential borrower or if they are consistent with their credit usage.

With mortgage payments, lines of credit, auto loans, credit cards and even cell phone bills now reporting on the credit report,  consumers have to be diligent with spending and paying bills on time.

I recommend to all my clients to keep your credit report clean — after all, it is your identity.

Establish at least two trade lines of a minimum of $2,000. One credit card and one personal line of credit for example.

Maintain lower balances (< 65%) on all lines of credit or credit cards.

Make payments a few days before they are due to ensure you are always on time

If you get a parking ticket, fight it and lose – pay the bill and don’t let it go to collection.

Look at your credit report annually and certainly 3-6 months before making any major purchase such as a car or home. To view your own credit report visit www.equifax.ca.


Pauline Tonkin

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

17 Mar

How To Maximize Your Cash Flow While Increasing Your Net Worth By Having a Mortgage Plan


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Interest rates are only one of many features that should be looked at when you are applying for a mortgage. But all things being equal, the interest rate may be more important than you think.

I was reviewing mortgage options with a client and the only thing they were interested in was the mortgage rate. There was no concern about all the other conditions that could end up being quite costly and since I could only offer him what he considered a small reduction, the client said “the bank’s rate was only a little higher and I feel more comfortable leaving everything I have with my bank for such a small difference.” What was the difference? I will get to that in a minute.

The mortgage renewal form you get in the mail is another cautionary note. I have had clients send me a copy of their renewal form. So far, in every case the renewal rate was higher than what I was currently able to get them. The last one I saw was .25% higher than what I could offer.

According to a recent Maritz/CAAMP survey, clients who used the services of a Mortgage Broker benefited with an interest rate .045% lower than those that dealt directly with their lenders.

So what does this fraction of a percentage mean for you? Let’s look at a $500,000 mortgage at 2.64% compared to 2.84%. That is only .2% or, to look at it a different way, it is about $50 a month or $600 a year savings by taking the 2.64% mortgage.

Here are a few options to increase net worth.

  1. You take the 2.64% rate and you invest the $600 a year into a growth mutual fund that averages 10%. Even though over the years, as your mortgage goes down, the savings may not be as great, you make up the difference and keep investing that $600 a year for the next 30 years. That is a small difference, but in 30 years it has added up to over $100,000 in your tax free savings account.
  2. You take out the 2.84% and say I like my bank and I am comfortable with the bank making the extra money and increasing their bottom line off my mortgage.
  3. With interest rates being so low, you could look at increasing your cash flow by stretching out your amortization and lowering your payment. Then you take the extra cash flow and invest it with your financial adviser in your tax free savings account.
  4. If you have extra equity in your home and have not contributed to your Tax Free Savings Account, consider refinancing and topping up your TFSA. As of 2016, the accumulative amount you can contribute is $51,000 per person 19 years or old in BC. So that would be $102,000 per couple. Invest that $102,000 and get an 8% return, you end up with $698,544 tax free money after 25 years and you paid back the mortgage and interest payments. If rates stayed the same throughout the 25 years at 2.69%, the whole $139,906 would be paid back. So you make a tax free profit of $558,638 by freeing up some capital to invest. Your total cost is $37,906 in interest.

There are many details to a mortgage and the rate is just one of them. Any of us here at Dominion Lending Centres would be happy to review your future mortgage needs to make sure you are maximizing your mortgage to your benefit.


Kevin Bay

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

10 Mar

New to Canada and Establishing Credit


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

When you are new to Canada and establishing credit, deciding on the best way to create a good credit history can be difficult.

You need a good credit rating in Canada if you are planning to rent or buy a home, buy a car or borrow money. By taking some important first steps to get your financial matters in order, you can establish a solid foundation for future credit worthiness.

The first steps when you are new to Canada and establishing credit are:

  • Open a chequing and savings account with a local bank or credit union
  • Get a cell phone through one of the local providers. Your payments on that account will report to the credit bureau.
  • Apply for a secured credit card. Even if you start off with a limit of $500 you can always increase it at a later date. Pay some of your regular monthly bills (such as your cell phone or cable bill) through this credit card so you can start to show consistent repayment behaviour.
  • Aim to establish a minimum of $2,000 credit limit with two credit cards or a loan and credit card. Lenders and the credit bureau consider two years of active credit use as a good foundation for credit worthiness.

I recommend you check your own credit report on an annual basis or within six months of making any major purchase. Visit www.Equifax.ca for more information.

For more information on establishing credit and managing your money visit www.mymoneycoach.ca.

Buyer Beware

There are many options available to people needing credit and some of them will get you into financial trouble if you are not careful. There are companies offering alternatives to credit cards. They often advertise online, by phone or flyers through the mail. They offer to provide loans that will help borrowers establish good credit. These programs all sound good until you look closely at the numbers. For more details, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.


Pauline Tonkin

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

8 Mar

The Power of Prepayment Options


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Do you have a Mortgage Action Plan (MAP)? If not, it’s time to plan your road MAP to mortgage free living. Every lender provides options, but very few take advantage of them. These mortgage benefits are called PREPAYMENT OPTIONS. The three most common prepayment options are: adjust the frequency at which the payments are made (weekly, semi-monthly, bi-weekly, monthly and accelerated), increase the monthly payment amount (there is a maximum monthly percentage) and lump sum (or balloon, also a maximum percentage of the original mortgage balance) payment. Make sure you know how to utilize them to the fullest and what your maximum amounts are. Don’t feel obligated to maximize the prepayment options but at the very least make extra payments, your retirement savings will thank you later.

Only 32% of all mortgage borrowers exercise their contractual right to make significant efforts to accelerate repayment, including taking one or more of the following actions in the past year:

  • 16% have voluntarily increased their monthly payments.
  • 15% have made a lump sum (balloon payment) contribution to their mortgage.
  • 6% have adjust or increased their payment frequency.

The Power of Prepayment Options The Power of Prepayment Options

Monthly Increase Payment

If choosing an accelerated bi-weekly repayment schedule does not work for your plan, then maybe you might be able to consider adding an extra principal payment to your regular monthly mortgage commitment. The graphic below illustrates how the principal amount is reduced when utilizing the monthly increase prepayment option. By adding $100 to your monthly mortgage you can save $10,729 in interest and reduce the life or the mortgage by 5.9 years.

The Power of Prepayment Options

My Personal Scenario

You are likely asking yourself right now, so what does Michael’s road MAP look like. Well, I’m happy to share that with you. My current lender allows me to increase my monthly payments by 15%, make a annual lump sum payment of 15% (of the original mortgage balance) and/or double up my contractual minimum monthly commitment. I have elected to exercise my contractual right to utilize the 15% monthly increase to the maximum. My monthly contractual payment is $2,074.98. By maximizing the 15% monthly increase my adjusted payment is $2,386.23 which is an extra $311.24 per month. If I had decided to only make the minimum monthly payments of $2,074.98 then the life of my mortgage would be 25 years remaining at the end of this current term (maturing July 2017). However, with the extra payment of $311.24 per month I’ve effectively reduced the life of my mortgage to (currently) 21 years 2 months, even less when it matures in 17 months. If I were to keep maintaining the same course of action as above for the entire life of the mortgage the revised amortization would be reduced from 30 years to 15 years 9 months saving me $114,827.94 in interest.

Why not join the 32%ers elite club?! The contribution can be minimal and usually unnoticeable on a day-to-day basis, the pay-off is years sooner though. The power of making extra payments is overwhelming. Ask any mortgage professional at Dominion Lending Centres how to increase your equity position. Your bank account will thank us later.

Michael Hallett

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

8 Mar

Single Ladies Buying Homes


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that a greater number of women are now taking the reigns when it comes to home purchases. There’s a growing trend among single women – and, more precisely, professional single women – who are becoming independent homeowners. While many of them may be putting off marriage, they’re not waiting around for Mr Right before taking the plunge into homeownership.

It’s believed that around 20% of homebuyers in North America are single women based on a 2011 report released by the US National Association of Realtors. Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies also released a report that said single women are buying in record numbers.

There’s no equivalent data for Canada, but an abundance of anecdotal information has led to the creation of shows like HGTV’s Buy Herself, which follows single women making their first real estate purchases.

Women are looking for ways to become financially independent, and investing in real estate and building equity for themselves are ways to invest in their future – building financial security.

Women are taking advantage of historically low interest rates and recognizing homeownership is often more affordable than renting.

Seeking expert advice

One of the amazing things about women looking to invest in real estate is that they’re getting more advice before they make the decision to enter the market. They’re seeking out mortgage experts and real estate agents, and building a plan for the perfect entry into the market. They’re making lists of areas in which they’re interested in purchasing, itemizing amenities they would need in their ideal neighbourhoods, ensuring they have all the facts around closing costs and fees associated with making the purchase, and securing a mortgage.

Buying a home is likely one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make in your lifetime, and can feel overwhelming. That’s why working with a professional mortgage agent, real estate agent, home inspector and so on is essential. You’ll be working with these professionals closely – possibly for months – so interactions should feel comfortable, and they should be knowledgeable and responsive even to the smallest question.

The more prepared you are, the smoother the experience will be so do a little research on your own over the Internet to get a good idea of what types of properties and areas are of interest to you. Make a list of questions to ask your mortgage agent or realtor – and keep it on hand so you can add to it as more questions arise.

Interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in history and they have nowhere to go but up. Industry professionals believe that as rates begin to rise, they’ll continue to rise for some time. There has never been a better time for women to make the decision to get into the real estate market to find the perfect place to call home and we here at Dominion Lending Centres can help!


Alim Charania

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

4 Mar

How to Choose the Right Mortgage Term


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Understanding the terms of the mortgage are paramount in choosing the mortgage product that is right for your particular and unique situation. What is the difference between term and amortization? Are terms all the same for every lender? What are the differences of terms from lender to lender? These are just a few of the questions we receive at Dominion Lending Centres when speaking with our clients. In order to gain understanding on “choosing the right mortgage term’, one has to understand the basics.

Amortization – This is different than “the term” of the mortgage. Amortization is usually offered in increments of 25 years, 30 years, and even 35 years. Amortizing a loan is scheduling payments, usually of consistent payment amount, that will pay off the loan in the agreed upon time period. However, in Canada, the lender will agree to loan money to the consumer only for a portion of the amortization period called “the term”.

The Term – Lenders usually offer term contracts for anywhere from month to month up to 10 year terms. Most commonly, consumers will enter into a 5 year contracted term with the lender. But on occasion, 4 year, 3 year and even 2 year terms can offer lower interest rates. In today’s market, where the economy is in a slump, the lower rate terms are attractive to many consumers. However, in order to qualify for the lower interest rates with lesser years (e.g. 3 year contract) the consumer has to be able to debt service at the Bank of Canada benchmark rate (currently 4.64%). This means the lender will punch in all the numbers and see if you can afford this same mortgage if the rate was 4.64%.

Debt Service – Debt servicing is what the lender does to determine if your income justifies the mortgage you want as well as takes into account all the debt (and sometimes the credit) you have. Another name for this is Total Debt Servicing. Essentially, the lender wants to know if you can afford a mortgage and they have calculations that will determine if you can afford the mortgage.

Credit Score – Credit is another important factor in choosing a mortgage. The lender always looks at the consumer’s credit history to see if they have managed their credit well. If your credit score is low due to a life event that was beyond your control and it is a reasonable explanation, the lender will consider your situation. But that consideration doesn’t always result in a mortgage. In fact, your credit score is one of the most important aspects of life that ONLY YOU can manage.

Timing – It’s been said that 70% of mortgages break before the 5 year term is up. This is an important thing to consider when choosing a term. If you feel you are going to sell within the next 4 years then it is important to look at 3 year term options. If you choose a 5 year term and you think you are going to sell in 3 years, you need to realize there are penalties to break a contract term early.

Penalties – Breaking a contract results in penalties. Early breakage can result in thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars. Depending on whether you are in a variable rate or a fixed rate, the amount of penalty you pay to break a mortgage will certainly keep you up at night. It’s important to know what the penalty to break your mortgage will be before entering into a contract term.

Clients tend to think that there is an overall BEST term product on the market. But there isn’t! Every individual has needs that are unique to their situation. Claiming there is an ideal mortgage term is like saying the most beautiful colour is blue. Just like everyone has their favourite colour, everyone has an individual mortgage term that works best for them and we here at Dominion Lending Centres can help!


Geoff Lee

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional