22 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

It is matter of fact that life can be much unexpected. Perhaps you have been hit hard by this economic downturn or maybe an illness or even just plain old mismanagement has left you with a series of late payments on your credit. No use crying over spilt milk so to speak. So, let’s look at what to do to repair your credit after such an event.

There are three main scenarios we most often see in conjunction with damaged credit:

1. Regular late payments. All types of credit providers report to the credit agencies about you and your repayment history. Cell phones, credit cards, student loans, vehicle or personal loans, lines of credit, and of course your mortgage. You are assigned a credit rating based on if your payments are made on time, if you are at or near limit on your credit cards and a variety of other things. Often the descent into bruised credit starts by missing a payment here and there. Of course the more late payments you have, the more leery a new lender will be to extend you additional credit. If you had a rough patch like this, then the best thing to do is catch up ASAP and do not let it happen again. Lenders will want to see that you have recovered financially and you now mange yourself well. The magic number is 2. They want to see 2 years of perfect repayment on at least 2 credit facilities. After the damage was done, it is imperative that you not have another late payment on anything including your cell phone. It is also a good idea to save some money so they can see you have a fallback position if you lose your job. Finally, keep your credit cards at no higher than 75% of the available credit. It can be a sign of financial distress if you are maxed out.

2. Orderly payment of debts (OPD) – This program is entered into voluntarily by people who need further help. These agencies will meet with you to assess your situation and determine a repayment plan with your creditors. They make calls on your behalf and negotiate for you which will stop the collection calls you may have been receiving. Interest rates are negotiated down and you are set up on a repayment plan to pay your creditors every cent you owe based on your income. Your credit bureau will reflect that you have opted for the OPD which means you have to do some work to be considered for lending later on. Again, the magic number is 2. You need to have 2 credit facilities reporting pristine for 2 years once the OPD reports as complete. At that point many lenders will consider you for mainstream lending. You may have to start with a secured credit card or 2 or a vehicle with a higher interest rate to get back on track.

3. Bankruptcy – In this scenario, you have gone through the formal bankruptcy process which involves a trustee and the court system. Your debt obligations were negotiated down to a fraction of what they were and you have paid out that amount as per your agreement. Two years after you show as formally discharged with 2 years of established credit on 2 credit facilities you will once again be eligible for mainstream lending. Without those criteria you may find yourself paying a higher rate for a mortgage or other loan.

A few extras I would like to point out: If you have ANY late payments after the OPD or bankruptcy, you will likely be turned down for a mortgage at best rates. The lenders will allow that life threw you sideways, but it is up to you to show them it will not happen again. If there was a foreclosure in your past, you are not likely to get any financing for a mortgage unless you are willing to pay some very high interest. Finally, there are companies out there who advertise that they can fix your credit for a fee. Be very cautious in your dealings with them. They can be very expensive and the credit reporting agencies are on record reporting there is NO quick fix for credit issues. Do your due diligence before entering into an agreement with anyone telling you they can fix your credit.

21 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

The true cost of mortgage penalties is a common concern and complaint among homeowners so it seems reasonable to review it once again.

Due to the sometimes complex calculations the banks use to determine this amount – consumers have been left in the dark when trying to make a decision on whether the cost of refinancing early is worth it or not. Recent changes and more to come will regulate the banks to provide more information up front and over the life of your mortgage on penalty costs. As a broker I always discuss the true cost of mortgage penalties with my clients to ensure we work with lenders that have best options for penalties if ending the term is a possibility for any reason.

I recently discussed the true cost of mortgage penalties, blending rates and provided comparisons in one of my To Finance and Protect video blogs. 

In the example I provided the three possible options for a penalty.  First, three months interest.  Second, interest rate differential (IRD).  Third, the difference between IRD calculations by the bank and other lenders.  Almost all of the major banks have a different IRD calculation than other lenders which can more than double and in some cases triple the penalty.  Knowing the exit cost of your mortgage is an important part of the decision in choosing a lender and many people don’t realize this until it is too late.

The majority of long-term fixed-rate mortgage holders terminate or change their mortgage before their term is up. In fact, the average five-year mortgage lasts only three to four years. Penalties apply in only a minority of these cases, but for those who are affected, they can substantially raise your overall borrowing costs

Note: The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/resources/publications/mortgageLoan/RenewMortgage/RenewMortgage-3-eng.asp#Breaking) is doing a noble job encouraging clarity with mortgage penalties. In 2013, I went a step further by requiring banks to provide: annual information to help consumers calculate their penalty, written penalty statements upon request with clear calculation explanations, and access to exact prepayment penalty quotes by phone.

To discuss your early renewal or refinance options, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

20 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

I’ve actually had clients ask me that question! The business of life often gets in the way and we don’t always do our homework when it comes to our financial obligations. Before they know it, clients start getting e-mails from their lender and their broker reminding them that it’s time to renew their mortgage… “Wow, dear, has it been 5 years already? Our bank is offering us 2.99% for 5 years! What a difference from our old mortgage at 3.79%. Let’s sign now and lock it in because who knows what the future holds.”

The friendly mortgage broker they had dealt with five years ago calls to remind them that she may be able to get them a better rate than what their bank is offering and also review their financial situation and help them make some adjustments. Yes, time is of the essence and there’s paperwork involved which is a pain but consulting their mortgage broker may save them a lot of money in the long run.

I had a client recently who not only saved a whopping $8,000 on a new 5-year term but also lowered his monthly payments. And the moral of the story? You snooze, you lose. So don’t snooze (or lose!) – contact your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today!

20 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

When shopping for a mortgage, many home buyers enlist the services of a Mortgage Professional. There are several benefits to using a Mortgage Broker and I have compiled a list of the top 8:

1. Saves you time – Mortgage Brokers have access to multiple lenders (over 50!). They work with lenders you have heard of and lenders you probably haven’t heard of. Because their relationship with lenders is ongoing, Mortgage Brokers know what is available in mortgage financing and will be able to advise you on what your lending options are without all the leg work that you would have to do in order to find a small percentage of information that a Mortgage Broker already has in hand.

2. Saves you money – Mortgage Brokers, if they are successful, have access to discounted rates. Because of the high volume that they do, lenders make available discounted rates that are not available directly through the branch of the lender that you go to.

3. Saves you from becoming stressed out! – It can be very daunting to find a mortgage. A Mortgage Broker takes on that stress for you. Your Mortgage Broker will make sure all the paperwork is in place. They will keep in good communication with you so that you know what is going on with your mortgage and will keep you up to date with any complications so that there are no surprises.

4. Gives you access to lenders that are otherwise not available to you – Some lenders work exclusively with Mortgage Brokers. In these circumstances, the layman does not have access to these lenders and, therefore, does not have the option to use discounted rates and mortgage products that these lenders offer.

5. Services are free – Mortgage Professionals are paid by the lender and not by you. This is not a disadvantage to you. A good Mortgage Broker will ALWAYS have the best interest of the client in mind because if you, as a client, are happy, you will go tell your friends about the service you’ve received from the Mortgage Professional you work with. Mortgage Professionals rely on referrals, which means that if you are a happy customer, and you got the best deal available, you will tell your friends and family about them which will result in referrals and potential future business.

6. Take on every challenge – As Mortgage Professionals, we see every scenario out there and work to make sure that every client knows what is available to them for financing options for a mortgage. Damaged credit and low household income might be a deterrent for the bank, but a Mortgage Professional knows how to approach the lender and has the relationship to make sure every client has a plan and strategy in place to make sure there is a mortgage in their future.

7. The Mortgage Brokerage industry is monitored by governing bodies – Nowadays, as Mortgage Brokers, it is extremely important to have principles and values that are based on the best interest of the client. In fact, in order to become licensed, the Mortgage Professionals need to be well versed in the ethical and upstanding values that are outlined through the Financial Institutes Commission, a provincial governing body that is a watchman for this industry. FICOM’s mandate is to make sure every Mortgage Broker walks in integrity and in the best interest of their client.

8. The Mortgage Broker has a better understanding of what mortgage products are available than your bank – Interestingly, a Mortgage Broker has to be licensed and cannot discuss mortgages with you unless they are licensed. This is unlike the bank who can “internally train” their staff to sell the specific products available from their bank. The staff at your bank do not have to be licensed Mortgage Professionals.

While this is not an exhaustive list on the benefits of using a Mortgage Professional, it is compelling to see the benefits of using a Mortgage Professional rather than putting a mortgage together on your own.

At Dominion Lending Centres, we have an excellent rapport with the lenders we introduce our clients to. Our customer service is reflective of our relationship with our lenders. We are always professional and we always make sure our clients know every viable option they have for mortgage financing.

13 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

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.

13 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

The next time you’re looking for a mortgage for that new house or you’re up for renewal on your existing mortgage, think about using a mortgage broker – their services are free and they offer you an abundance of choices the banks simply can’t compete with.

Mortgage brokers have access to a vast array of lenders – up to 200+ institutions, including the big banks – which enables these professionals to negotiate the best possible mortgage products and rates on your behalf. In comparison, if you approach your bank with a mortgage request, they can only offer you a narrow choice – namely, their own products.

Mortgage brokers do their homework on available mortgage products and keep themselves abreast of any new products, or changes to existing products, to ensure they find the best mortgage to fit your specific needs.

Unlike the banks, mortgage brokers can also cater to self-employed borrowers as well as those who have suffered credit blemishes due to life experiences such as divorce or illness. Brokers will listen to your story, whereas the banks have a very narrow view of what fits into their financing box – and this is unnegotiable.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals can find the best mortgage rate and term for your unique situation.

Top Reasons for Using a Broker:
1. Choice – access to multiple financial institutions
2. Costs – using a broker is free and they can negotiate lower rates for you
3. Knowledge – brokers stay up-to-date on available products and services
4. Flexibility – mortgage products are even available for the self-employed or those who have credit blemishes

6 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Not long ago, someone contacted us wishing to refinance their mortgage. They presently held a mortgage from one of the big banks. When this homeowner originally obtained her mortgage, the bank offered her a discounted rate of 2.99%. It matured in July of 2016, however, when they contacted us at Dominion Lending Centres, they wanted to refinance to improve their cash flow because of recent major renovations. The mortgage was over $600,000.

At first thought, an Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty might seem to be so small because of the effective rate of 2.99%, that only a 3 month penalty would apply to break their existing mortgage. Wrong. Because the rate for the original mortgage was discounted from 4.64%, 4.64% was used when calculating the IRD penalty. So, instead of paying $5,157 dollars, the client was told they had to pay over $23,000 in order to break their mortgage with the bank.

A mortgage broker-channel lender, and there are many, uses the contract, or effective rate, when they calculate the IRD penalty on fixed rate mortgages, unlike the banks. Because they use the actual contract rate, the penalty would have been the lower one in the example above. An amortization scenario would determine if breaking the existing mortgage would be worth it by seeing the crossover point in time for making up the difference in savings. In the case above, it was not worth breaking, and the client had to wait until their mortgage matured.

The banks have, in recent years, implemented a new way of registering mortgages to assist in these situations. They often now register the loan as a collateral charge loan rather than a mortgage. This allows the bank to refinance the home loan on a house without a penalty if the client needs extra cash in the future. The disadvantage to this is that in order to break the loan agreement, even at maturity, the client either has to pay a lawyer or title insurance company to help break the loan agreement, costing approximately $600-$1000. Aware of this, at renewal, the bank can price the renewal rate accordingly, as they are aware that the client must pay this fee in order to leave the bank.

When purchasing a home or renewing or refinancing, it pays to ask details about pre-payment privileges and the costs associated with discharging your mortgage before the maturity date, as well as how the loan is going to be registered, ie. as a regular mortgage or a collateral charge loan.

1 Apr



Posted by: Mike Hattim

We all want the best. For instance, a Ferrari is way better than a minivan. It’s faster, sleeker and much more prestigious. But what if you have three children and drive to hockey every Saturday and need the extra space? All of a sudden that minivan is looking much more appealing. Then when you factor in the higher costs associated with maintaining every single aspect of that Ferrari? That minivan is downright shiny.

This theory applies to your mortgage too. I’ll admit there is something reassuring about a brick and mortar building which you can visit up to seven days a week and be greeted by a friendly clerk who helps you do whatever it is you need to do. But consider for a moment if the value you placed on that building were misguided. That the prestige many of us place on being with a major bank for our mortgage is not quite what we thought. What if in making the choice to deal with your bank you doomed yourself to higher costs and hidden clauses? All of a sudden your Ferrari of a bank seems less appealing.

Let’s look at a few of the unexpected costs you can be hit with:

1. Payout penalties – there is no standard on how lenders charge this penalty if you break the mortgage. Your mortgage is a contract and you will have to pay a fee to get out early. I have seen these range from $3,500 to $18,000 on the same exact mortgage with the only difference the lending institution. Life happens and you may end up needing out early due to a marital break down, a job loss or other life event. I would also caution that some of the crazy low mortgage rates out there come with an additional penalty. You could be charged 2.75% of the principle PLUS the regular penalty.

2. Prepayment privileges – Did you know that some lenders do not apply your extra payments right away? It’s very true. They hold the funds in a separate account where they generate and keep the interest gains while you miss out on the full benefit you are striving to achieve.

3. Interest compounding periods – Did you also know that some lenders compound interest on a Home Equity Line of Credit monthly? Einstein identified compound interest as the 8th wonder of the world and stated that those who know how to use it properly will benefit greatly. This monthly calculation difference over that of a semi-annual will cost you more in the long run.

4. Collateral mortgages – A collateral mortgage is where the lender registers on the title that you owe them more than you actually do. The benefit is that you can borrow additional funds down the road if you so choose without having to visit a lawyer as there is no change to the title of the property. The downside is that these mortgages are much harder to switch out a new lender at renewal which could leave you with a higher than market best rate. Your other borrowing such as for a vehicle or credit cards can now be tied to your mortgage through the nasty fine print. Depending on the lender, you may be required to pay out all of the borrowing associated with the mortgage if you sell. This can leave you in a poor position when you go to buy again with less than you thought as a down payment.

5. Porting Policies – Some of the banks have strange policies. For example, one has a policy where you keep the current mortgage as is and any new funds are taken in a new term at a new rate with a new renewal. That leaves you never able to move your mortgage to a new lender without incurring some penalty. You are stuck potentially not being able to get the best rates which costs you greatly.

All I’m saying is this: ask questions before you sign. Lots of questions. Know if you are opting for a

Ferrari when what you really need is the flexibility, extra leg room and lower costs of the minivan. At Dominion Lending Centres, we can help find the right mortgage and the best rate – give us a call!