28 Apr

Renovating May Make More Sense Than Buying


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

If you’re finding your family has grown out of your current home or your house could use a makeover to better fit your changing needs, renovating is a great option to examine. Instead of putting your home on the selling block and heading out shopping for a new home right away, it may be worth considering using some of your home equity to renovate so you can remain at your current address.

The first consideration is whether your home can be adjusted to meet your needs. Is your lot big enough for an addition? Will your foundation handle the weight of an extra floor? Does the tired look of your home require a major overhaul? Will the renovations add value to the home?

Plan out the changes you’d like to make and speak to professional renovators to seek several quotes before making your decision.

Next, depending on the complexity of the project, you have to decide if it’s worthwhile for you and your family to live in a construction zone for several weeks or even months while improvements are being made to your home.

Finally, unless you have a lot of money saved up, you have to weigh your finances to determine what makes the most financial sense to you and your family in the long run.

Weighing your finances

Now is a great time to think about making renovations to your existing home to create your dream home. With mortgage rates still sitting at historic lows, it makes sense to use some of your home equity to put towards renovations that could help you remain in the house you love, in the neighbourhood you desire that’s close to work, school and amenities to which you’ve grown accustomed.

Other possibilities include a home equity line of credit (HELOC) – where you can access money as required for each stage of your renovation – or even a construction mortgage may be your best bet. The key is to talk to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional who has access to multiple financial institutions and products to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

It’s important to weigh the renovation costs with the potential for your home to increase in value as well.

Moving can also be quite expensive. Possible costs to consider when moving include:

* real estate fees (upon selling your existing home)

* legal fees

* property transfer tax

* moving expenses

* decorating the new home

* mortgage penalty

Other considerations

The decision between renovating and upgrading to a new house is not solely financial. You should also consider your time, energy and peace of mind.

Each choice has advantages and disadvantages. When determining the best option for you and your family, consider the pros and cons of both renovating your existing home and moving to a new home.

By taking into account what you want to do, why you want to do it, the costs of the renovations and upgrades, and the value of your renovated home in relation to other homes in your neighbourhood versus the costs of buying a new home, you can determine which option is best for you.


Alisa Aragon

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

18 Apr

The Amortization Effect


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

Each year from 2008 through 2010 the Federal Government reduced the maximum amortization as follows:

Purchases with less than 20% down –from 40–35 years, then 35- 30 and finally 30–25 years where it remains today.

Purchases with 20% or more down were cut from 40–35 years, and then from 35 – 30 (*certain lenders still offer 35 years to specific applicants).

Any risk within the real estate sector can most accurately be measured by the amount of equity in a property. Thus the focus on the purchases with less than 20% was more extreme, and logical.

The following table demonstrates the effect reducing the amortization by five years had at each point, an increasingly powerful effect. It essentially cancelled out the interest rate drops.

Today’s buyers do not qualify for radically higher mortgages thanks to lower rates, anyone who suggests otherwise has perhaps forgotten about the amortization effect. The final move from 30 years to 25 years has the same effective impact as a 1% interest rate increase.

Mortgage          Rate      AM                      Payment

$100,000              4.49        40                           446.26
$100,000              4.14        35                           449.08
$100,000              3.49        30                           447.09
$100,000              2.49        25                           447.47

Today’s buyers putting less than 20% down with a maximum amortization of 25 years at 2.49% basically qualify for the same amount of money as they did back in 2008 at 4.49% with a 40 year amortization.

Few clients are aware of this, and many Brokers are not either.

The next time you hear somebody saying that ‘today’s low rates have allowed borrowers to qualify for too much debt’ you will know better.

Interest rates are not quite the key driver behind the current boom in prices; interest rates play a role, but it is a much smaller one that people realize as the lower rates have been largely neutralized by shorter amortizations.

Perhaps the most important point of all to take away from this is that as interest rates rise the Federal Government will almost certainly extend amortizations back out, in turn negating the impact of rising rates.

Food for thought.


Dustan Woodhouse

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

15 Apr

Private Mortgages Can Improve Your Financial Well-Being!


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

A private mortgage can improve your financial well-being and using a reputable mortgage agent/broker will advise when it is suitable for your circumstances to enter into a private mortgage. Your mortgage agent will also advise a financial action plan to refinance you down the road to return to the prime lending marketplace.

Here are the facts on mortgage lending and when to use a private mortgage:

There are several types of mortgage loans in Canada including first mortgages, second mortgages and lines of credit. As we all know, these are available through well- known prime lending institutions like banks, credit unions, trust companies and independent financial institutions that only deal in mortgages to qualified borrowers.

There are also the institutional “alternative” lenders that have all the products mentioned above, however, they loan their money to individuals who do not meet prime lending guidelines. These loans would be considered “riskier” due to the fact that the borrower may not be able to prove income and may have challenged credit which will not meet the prime lender’s guidelines. These institutions often charge lender fees and higher interest rates. Institutional alternative mortgage lenders are most often used as a temporary solution that alleviates an immediate situation that once resolved, the mortgage is moved to a “prime” lending institution. Often times the alternative lenders restrict their lending areas, loan to value and credit and income criteria.

When a borrower doesn’t meet the alternative lender’s lending criteria, a private mortgage can be arranged for a temporary solution, just like the alternative lender. Investors/Lenders are usually individuals or private corporations, Self-Directed RRSP program lenders, who loan their own personal/corporate funds; believing investment in real estate is stable and want to earn a higher return on their money than they can make at their financial institution. These investors will take a more personal approach to the loan and are ready to hear your story, (usually with a sympathetic ear) and assess the amount of risk that they are being asked to take on. Income and credit is reviewed, but with less stringent guidelines than the alternative lenders. Again, lender fees and possibly brokerage fees will be charged.

Consider this scenario to explore why a private mortgage can work for you.

You worked for the same company for 10 years, they went bankrupt and shut down, it took you 9 months to find another job, but in the meantime, you used up all your savings as your EI payments weren’t enough. Your payments are behind on your $40,000 worth of debts which cost $800 monthly, and you owe $10,000 in property taxes and to CRA. Your house is worth $300,000, your current mortgage is $175,000, you need $50,000 to pay it all off plus $4,000 (estimated) to set up of a second mortgage including legal fees. It makes sense to retain your 2.25% first mortgage in order to give you time to restore your credit history and income. Therefore, a private second mortgage suits the situation. A second mortgage of $54,000 with interest only payments at 11% will cost you $484 monthly, creating a savings of $316 monthly plus CRA and the property taxes are paid off.

Some other reasons to borrow private funds.

  • purchase property where you don’t qualify with more “traditional” lenders
  • pay off/consolidate debts into your property
  • renovate your home
  • pay for medical expenses
  • supplement your first mortgage
  • improve cash flow
  • pay off debts to CRA or property taxes
  • pay for your children’s post-secondary education

Yes, private mortgages do have higher rates and fees, however, your mortgage agent is obligated to ensure that all parties to the transaction are fully aware of the costs going in and will provide the reason behind choosing a private mortgage. Your mortgage agent will outline why you don’t qualify for a prime or institutional lender at this time and review the financial benefits of entering into a private mortgage. Your mortgage agent will also explain the exit strategy to pay off the private mortgage down the road with the goal to get you back into the prime lending market.

Ask your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker if a private mortgage is right for you!


Anne Martin

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

13 Apr

Top 10 Things to Consider Before Your Mortgage Matures


Posted by: Jeff Parsons

1. Have you explored all your options. Once you receive your mortgage renewal statement, there is nothing easier than signing on for another term, heck 70% of everybody that received them from their current lender just signs over thousands of dollars. This may make sense in some cases, but your family and financial situation may changed over time. I can look for opportunities that may meet or exceed your current expectations.

2. Are you comfortable with your current payments. If your monthly payments are barely letting you break even each month then it might be time to reduce payments. On the other hand, if you are earning more income then why not pay down your mortgage faster and save thousands in interest over time. Have you reviewed your prepayment options?

3. Do you need cash flow for other things. Your priorities may have changed since you purchased the home. Things like your child(s) post secondary education, planning a career change or a major purchase may now be front and centre. With ‘today’s’ current market, there may now be access to additional equity in your home that can be used for other purposes.

4. Can you handle fluctuating rates. Some homeowners are comfortable with the ebb and flow of interest rates and some are not. It is best to base your decision on your personal situation and not what you read in the daily news. I can help you decide on a fixed or variable rate mortgage options, but ultimately it’s your decision.

5. Will you sell soon. If so, consider a shorter term mortgage that has flexible manageable terms if you decide to sell your home.

6. Are you thinking of a major renovation. Upgrades can increase the value of your home but the cost of having the work done can tie up a lot your money. Make sure to allow for ample finances to complete.

7. When do you want to be ‘mortgage-free.’ Increasing your payments will raise your monthly expenses now, but you will ultimately save thousands on interest in the long term. A mortgage-free lifestyle could be just around the corner.

8. Could you use your home equity to fulfill other goals. Refinancing a mortgage can be one way to free up cash you need for other things, which could even include purchasing another property.

9. Have your insurance needs changed. If your home equity has increased, there may not be the need for default insurance anymore.

10. Are you getting the best rates and terms. In a competitive mortgage environment your good credit history can make refinancing your mortgage work to your advantage. Dominion Lending Centres analyzes mortgage markets daily to ensure you don’t miss any money saving opportunities.


Michael Hallett

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional