31 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

First time home buyers look to their families, the media and the Internet for all their information on how to buy a home. As a result, they know that they need 5% of the total home purchase price to buy the home of their dreams. While this is true, there are a few things that family may not tell you or they may not be aware of.

Putting down as much as you can afford is a great idea. We have all heard that mortgage rules are tightening, the economy in Alberta is down and lenders are being a lot more selective in who they give mortgages to. What you may not have heard is that the mortgage insurers – CMHC, Genworth Financial and Canada Guaranty – are also looking at lenders more carefully before approving mortgage default insurance. They are looking closely at employment, credit and how likely you are to stop paying your mortgage. While 5% is the minimum, if you have a few late payments from your college days or a collection from a cellphone company on your credit report, they will think twice about giving you an approval. However, if you put 10% down they will look at your differently. Putting twice the minimum down payment shows commitment. It shows that you have “skin in the game” and are less likely to default on your mortgage. If they are reluctant to approve your mortgage, a higher down payment can sway their decision.

The second advantage of a larger down payment is lower monthly payments. Let’s face it, when you get into a home, your paid off car will eventually need to be replaced and you will now have car payments and repairs chipping away at your monthly income. If you are newly married, child care expenses, baby furniture and starting an RESP will come up. You may be able to afford higher monthly payments, but you will be better off down the road if you have lower payments.

The third advantage is a lower CMHC premium rate. The bigger your down payment, the lower the risk to the mortgage insurer and the rate that they charge you. With 5% down you must pay 3.60% on the mortgage balance. On a home purchase of $350,000 this comes out to a premium of $11,970.

10% down results in a lower premium of $7560 and if you can make a 20% down payment you can avoid mortgage default insurance and pay $0.

Why a Big Down Payment is Better

Finally, the bigger your down payment the smaller your mortgage balance is to start. As a result you will save lots of money over the term of your mortgage.

A 5% down payment will result in a payment over 25 years of $115,381 of interest. 10% down lowers this to $108,042 and 20% down lowers this to $93,786.

In other words, if you can come up with a 20% down payment you will save over $21,000 in interest over the term of your mortgage. This is based on today’s historically low interest rates. I’m sure that sometime over the next 25 years rates will go up to the 5.79% that people were paying 6 years ago and they could go higher.

In conclusion, if you have a chance to put more money down on the purchase of your new home, you should consider it. You can save BIG TIME money by doing so. If you need more advice, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres office.

30 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Because the top secret formula has never been released there are common myths that are floating around about the ones credit score, here are the top 5.


Actually, cancelling healthy active cards or accounts hurts more as all of the payment history is lost along with the type of credit granted. The average Canadian has 10 credit sources, having more does not hurt as long as you pay on-time. Along with paying on-time you should observe the rule of maintaining a balance at no more than 75% of the limit, but less is best. Applying for new credit every week will lower your score more.


Remember to keep your balances low and manageable. The credit bureau only receives reports regarding your balances and payments. Making your payments on-time builds your credit history strength and score.


These providers only check your credit to determine creditworthiness. They don’t report your payment history to the bureau. On the flipside, they only report when you DON’T pay. The other organizations that only report upon default are municipalities and ICBC. Pay your traffic tickets and bylaw infractions.


There are two types of inquiries, soft and hard. A soft inquiry occurs when you pull your own credit report. Credit card companies also pull soft inquiries when marketing pre-approval offers. A hard inquiry happens when submitting a loan or credit card application. A hard inquiry is one that is triggered by the applicant. Soft inquires do not affect the credit score. A consumer can pull their own credit score as many times as they wish without repercussions. Hard inquires affect the score slightly. These inquires are included in the calculation done for credit scoring. Recording the number of inquires a consumer has on the credit report allows potential lenders to see how often a consumer has applied for new credit. This can be a precursor to someone facing credit difficulty.

Too many inquiries could mean that a consumer is deeply in debt and is looking for loans or new credit cards to bail themselves out. Another reason for recording inquires is identity theft. Hard inquires not made by you could possibly be an identity thief opening accounts in your name. Inquires are required to remain on the credit report for at least a year. Hard inquires remain on the report for two years. Soft inquires only appear on the report that you request from the credit bureaus and will not be visible to potential creditors. Hard inquires appear on all credit reports. All inquires disappear from the report after two years. Only individuals with a specific business purpose can check your score. Creditors, lenders, employers and landlords are some examples of approved business people. The inquiry only appears on the credit report that was checked.


Creditors are always willing to work with you if there is a late payment. If notified in a timely manner a late payment can be easily removed, just don’t make a habit of it. Some is better than none.

29 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Home renovation shows are very popular today and are one of our favorite shows to watch. These shows are not only entertaining but tend to lead you to think how easy and quickly is to renovate your home. And we know that viewers enjoy the shows more when they are filmed in Canada as you recognize certain landmarks or streets which you see often when you watch shows like “Love it or List it Vancouver” and “Game of Homes”. However, the television shows are not realistic, highly edited and can mislead people on the renovation process.

Despite this we have become more knowledgeable about design and we definitely want the latest interior finishes and stylish open interiors that we see on television shows. Having said that, homeowners really need to understand what all the important factors should be considered when thinking a home renovation.


Most home renovations shows do not talk about the financing aspect of the renovation. Before you commit to a renovation project, meet with a Mortgage Expert at Dominion Lending Centres to help you assess your financial situation. Every person’s financial needs and options are unique. When asked, most people say they are financing their renovation with a line of credit. While you are only required to make payments on the interest only, many people are under the impression that they can manage paying the interest and go ahead with the renovations. The danger with using this type of financing is that eventually the principal has to be paid and you end up paying huge interest costs.

A HELOC “home equity line of credit” will give you a lower interest rate… if you currently have one. If you don’t, you will need to have at least 35% of equity in your home to qualify for one (based on the current mortgage rules by the Bank Act). Currently, you can refinance up to 80% of the value of your home for a mortgage based on the appraised value. With today’s historical low interest rates, you will end up paying a higher interest rate on a line of credit or HELOC, and you are unlikely to pay down the principal compared to a lower interest rate with a closed mortgage where you pay principal and interest, saving you thousands in interest. Another thing to consider if you are unable to pay off the debt quickly is that you might be better off to refinance your mortgage. It might be more beneficial to get a one to five year locked mortgage below 3 per cent by saving interest up front and using your lender’s pre-payment privileges. If you currently have a fixed rate mortgage, find out what would be your penalty for paying it out early, it might still be worth it to refinance.

The budget:

On television, the designer has $80,000 to renovate an entire main floor including the kitchen and finish the downstairs basement. The question is – are those numbers realistic? The reality is that we, as viewers, are not aware what has been factored into those numbers by the television producers such as design fees, permits, labour, material costs, promotional giveaways, etc.

In order to have a realistic budget for your renovation, do research before you commit. Some people get set in a specific number set in their mind without knowing what is involved in the total scope of the renovation. It is critical in this step to work with a professional renovator as it will reduce surprises. Homeowners need to take responsibility for the renovator they select and for doing their homework. As a general rule, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. So don’t automatically go for the lowest price.

A professional renovator will work with you to create a detailed budget and timeline for your project so you know what to expect. Once you start selecting materials it is a good idea to take the budget with you to ensure you stay within your budget. There are times that homeowners run out of money midway through the project because they made too many changes along the way or ended up selecting more expensive materials.


On television, renovations are completed within a few short weeks. The homeowners come in and are mesmerized by the transformation. The reality is that sometimes it can take up to eight weeks just for the kitchen cabinets to get built. Before you start your renovation, prepare a timeline with a renovator so you know what to expect.

By doing this, you will have an exact idea how long it will take to do the tasks and therefore plan accordingly. Also, it’s important to remember that quality, professional renovators aren’t necessarily available right away. Some are booked months in advance, depending on the project. In order to stay on track, materials have to be bought ahead of time and certain items could be out of stock. It might take additional time to get them or in some cases replace them. It is important to remember that even fast projects still take a few months, while bigger projects can take up to a year to complete. Therefore, you need to be prepared.

Design and planning:

On most of the renovation shows you have the interior designer come into the home with their assistants and an iPad and start moving walls and design the new space within minutes without consulting the clients. Most clients are not going to allow the designer take free reins without their input.

In real life, renovations can be boring compared to television. The reason is that there is no excitement because every step of the process is well planned. When it comes to structural changes in the home, such as moving walls, doors, windows or adding additions a structural engineer may be required in order to obtain a permits. A renovator needs to plan for these type of engineering costs and time delays in order to complete the project.

Summary, when you do your own renovations it may not have all the excitement that you have seen on the television shows but we do know this. When you take into consideration the above factors, you will be happy with the end result. One, which despite the time, effort and money, you will be proud to come home to.

26 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

The two most frequently asked questions I get are:

1. What are your best rates?

2. What is the difference between fixed and variable rates?

Question #1 is actually more complicated than question #2. Why? Because rates are not the only thing you should be looking at when deciding what mortgage product to contract to. Recently, a client brought us a product that had a 1.99% fixed rate for a 5 year fixed term. This was extraordinary, and we did our due diligence to see what the product was all about. We found out that the term was 5 years and the interest rate was fixed at 1.99%…..for the first 6 months. Then it went up to the posted fixed rate of 3.15% for the remainder of the term. Not nearly as stellar as it appeared. Rule of thumb: If it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true! Make sure you know what your mortgage product entails. It is in your best interest to find out all the hidden costs behind the mortgage product that you don’t see up front.

Which leads us to question #2, What is the difference between fixed and variable rates?

Fixed Rates For the bank, this is a lower risk. It is usually higher than a variable rate. It remains constant or fixed for the term of the mortgage which means that your payments remain constant for the term of the mortgage. This rate is based on typical rates that are being offered by banks at the time the client enters into the mortgage contract. It’s a lot like “gas wars”. When you see gas stations that are in close proximity lower and raise their prices based on what the gas station across the street is doing, you see that these gas stations are competing with one another. It’s the same with banks. They watch each other’s prices and react to what’s going on “across the street”.

Variable Rates This is a higher risk rate for the bank. It is harder to qualify for this rate, which means the bank allows less debt in your financial profile compared to qualifying for a fixed rate. A variable rate can change during the term of the mortgage which means your actual mortgage payment can either increase or decrease during the term of the mortgage.

A variable rate is also a higher risk for the client as rates can go up which directly affects your payment amount. The last 15 years has seen rates generally decrease and clients that have taken advantage of the variable rate have not seen an increase in mortgage payments. But that’s not to say that it can turn at any time. Historically, we are at the lowest rates that we’ve seen but no one has a crystal ball.

Variable rates are quoted as Prime minus a certain amount or Prime plus a certain amount. What does this mean? Variable rates are based on the Bank of Canada, a governing institution for all Canadian banks. The Bank of Canada sets the benchmark for interest rates, based on inflation. Generally speaking, if the economy needs to be stimulated and is in a state of deflation, interest rates along with the Canadian dollar are lower. If the economy needs to be slowed down and is in a state of inflation, interest rates are higher along with the Canadian dollar. Currently, the benchmark rate for the bank of Canada is 2.5%. But most banks have adopted 2.7% as its Prime rate, basically because 2.5% is just too low for the bank. Thus, a bank might offer you Prime minus 0.2% (2.7% – 0.2% = 2.5%). Remember, the Bank of Canada reviews its benchmark rate about 8 times a year. Depending on the state of the economy, they may raise or decrease the benchmark rate which will affect your variable rate.

An example:

You enter into a contract rate of Prime – 0.2% (2.5%). 18 months later, there is a surge in foreign investment into the country which stimulates the economy. The Bank of Canada reviews its benchmark rate and decides to raise the benchmark rate to 2.75%. Your bank follows suit and raises its Prime rate from 2.7% to 3%. Your contracted rate for your mortgage is still Prime – 0.2%. But instead of 2.5% you are now paying 2.7%. Your mortgage payment will also go up to reflect the new rate.

For more information about fixed and variable rates please a mortgage professional at Dominion Lending Centres. We’d be pleased to answer any questions you have.

25 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Every mortgage is unique. Would the advertised/online RATE work for everybody? It’s hard to say, until your documents fulfill all the conditions for that rate. Sometimes there are challenges to getting the approval of the mortgage. Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals try their best to find solutions to those challenges because they have a business relationship with more than ONE lender, they WORK FOR YOU, and they try their best to earn your business.

I want to share my experience when I bought my first existing home two decades ago and how a Real Estate agent helped me at that time. We decided to have a newly built home and at one “show home”, a Real Estate agent gave me his business card. After a couple of days, I phoned that Real Estate agent to get more guidance to sign a contract with a builder.

We met with him and discussed our priorities. He provided us the price and compared features of “show homes” in different neighbourhoods in the city. Also, he mentioned about the future growth of the particular vicinity in our area. After our first meeting with him, we were so impressed that he would negotiate on behalf of us, and he assured us that he would bring the price down as much as he could.

We started going with him to see more “show homes” and we liked one that was within our price range. He started “negotiating” with the representative of a builder. He went back and forth, and finally, our offer got accepted, and that Real Estate agent saved us $3,500.

If that Realtor  did not meet us at the “show home” we wouldn’t have had the chance to negotiate or signed the contract with a builder at the asking price and saved $3,500 at that time.

I had to pay a 10% down payment at that time since I did not PLAN my mortgage and did not realize that my income would be an issue. Always check with a mortgage professional to receive unbiased advice for your mortgage financing needs. If you are a “First Time Home Buyer” and thinking of buying a home in the very near future, START PLANNING your mortgage with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional. By doing this, you will have knowledge of allowable income and down payment for the mortgage financing. You will also realize what credit is and why it is so important in this process.

At Dominion Lending Centres, we will plan your mortgage by focussing your short and long term goals and also show you how to pay off your mortgage faster than you think. You will have access to the very best products and rates available across Canada. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

24 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

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.

23 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Despite headline-grabbing stories about million-dollar houses pushing home ownership out of reach in Canada’s large cities, there’s still plenty of opportunity for first-time buyers in certain segments of the Canadian real estate market, says Dominion Lending Centres Chief Economist Sherry Cooper.

Single-family home prices have been surging in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, but that’s driven largely by a shortage of land: You practically need to knock down an older home in order to build a new one. It’s the supply-demand story, Cooper says. Land for single-family homes is in short supply while demand is strong, driving double-digit price increases.

But that’s not the case in the condo market, where prices have not been escalating as quickly. Condos, and housing in those parts of Canada where the land supply is not an issue, are still an affordable option.

“There are differences in the housing market depending on the sector and the region,” she says. “For example, condo prices in Toronto are rising at single-digit rates. Part of that is because there has been a dramatic increase in construction, so that the supply of condos is increasing very sharply.”

At the same time, retiring boomers are often helping their children buy homes. Aid from mom and dad coupled with the increase in supply, has resulted in the rate of home ownership rising.

“We are in a sweet spot in demand for housing right now because in Canada, the growth in the number of first-time buyers — roughly aged 25 to 35 — is at a relatively high level. It’s stronger than what we have seen since the baby boomers came of age. First-time homeowners are still out there buying and in fact they represent roughly 30 per cent of new home sales, even in Toronto and Vancouver,” she says.

“What’s different is that it now takes two incomes to buy a home rather than one, as it was way back when, and also your first home may well be a condo and it may well be far from the city centre and it may well be quite small.” But the reality is that low interest rates have helped to make housing more affordable.

“But once you get in the door, there’s the whole notion that house prices will rise and you will have greater equity to move up next time around,” she adds.

These differences between single-family housing markets and multi-family housing markets need to be recognized by governments in their attempts to make housing more affordable, Cooper says. Housing and construction are key strengths in the Canadian economy right now, and government intervention — like the B.C. government’s move to increase the property tax for expensive homes — needs to be carefully weighed.

“You don’t want to dampen what has been a very significant component of economic growth.”

22 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

In a nutshell, a CHIP mortgage or “reverse” mortgage is a mortgage that is secured by the client’s principal residence and as long as one of the client’s lives in the house, it never has to be repaid, not even the interest. “CHIP” stands for “Canadian Home Income Plan” by the way; however the lender who does these types of mortgage in Canada is called Homequity Bank.

It is probably easiest to explain using an example: Let’s assume a husband and wife aged 70 and 69 respectively live in a home that has been appraised at $500 000 and has no mortgage on it right now. Based on the value and their ages, CHIP would allow them to borrow up to $195 495 against the house. They do not have to take the full amount and can in fact choose a monthly income supplement. For example they could choose $50 000 in a lump sum and then $1 000 per month for the next 140 months.

So long as one of the applicants remains in the house, they never have to make a payment. If one of the spouses moves to a retirement home and the other stays in the house, they still don’t have to make any payments. Snowbirds also qualify……so long as the house remains your primary residence.

Here are some of the “requirements”:

  • Minimum age 55 for all applicants
  • Must be principal residence (no rentals)


Common questions:

1. Does the bank own my house? No, this is registered against the title of the home the same as any other mortgage. The “bank” cannot force the sale of your home provided one of the applicants still resides in it.

2. Will the equity disappear in my house? CHIP mortgages are designed to limit the risk of the mortgage amount exceeding the value of the home. Your home is still increasing in value and the CHIP mortgage is only a portion of the value of your home so in most cases, the equity in your home continues to increase.

3. What is the cost to set up a CHIP mortgage? There is a fee ranging from $995 to $1495 to set up the original mortgage, plus you must pay for an appraisal and a lawyer to register the mortgage. This is clearly explained in the application process so you will be fully aware of all costs prior to setting up the mortgage.

4. What if I have an existing mortgage? A CHIP mortgage can still be set up however you must pay off the existing mortgage with the funds advanced. This is a common strategy for those who are about to retire and don’t want to make mortgage payments anymore.

If you have any other questions, please contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

19 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

There has been much hand-wringing about the overheated housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto. Accelerating price gains in the past year are indicative of a buying frenzy, especially in Vancouver, which is clearly unsustainable. New listings are way down, new supply is constrained, and buyer euphoria seems to be suggestive of panic fear of missing out — all of which has made housing less affordable and far out of reach of most middle-class households.

Housing affordability is a hot-button political issue, so it is not surprising that the B.C. government, facing an election in less than a year, has felt compelled to do something to dampen the fervor. Time will tell how impactful the new tax will be, but one thing is certain: Housing in Metro Vancouver will remain unaffordable for most households.

RBC estimates that owning a single-detached home in the Vancouver area would require 120 per cent of a typical household’s income. In other words, unless the buyers have access to a huge downpayment (thanks, let’s say, to Mom and Dad), it is out of reach. Even condos are too expensive for average earners in Vancouver.

In the Toronto area, owning a single-detached home is also a stretch — eating up roughly 72 per cent of typical household income — but condo ownership is still reasonably viable for many, requiring about 37 per cent of average household income.

But this is really no different than many other global cities. Average earners typically can’t afford to buy a home in San Francisco, New York, London or Sydney, and there is nothing government can do to change this. Scandinavian and some other European governments built subsidized housing in metro areas, but it is doubtful that Canadians are willing to pay the kind of taxes that would require. Besides, land shortages in Vancouver and Toronto are part of the problem.

Increasing housing supply through changes in land use restrictions might help at the margin, but density and greenspace markedly impact the quality of life. Public transportation pressures are already endemic to Vancouver and Toronto and densification along major public transit routes is already underway.

As we have seen, it is politically enticing to blame the affordability problem on foreigners. They don’t vote in Canada, so they are easier to tax. Other countries have done it. For example, the U.K., Hong Kong and New Zealand have imposed capital gains taxes on foreign-owned properties that are not a primary residence. Australia has limited foreign purchases to newly constructed or renovated homes, and Switzerland sets quotas for personal-use only purchases.

Canada could also impose a tax on property flipping by foreigners (or anyone else) — say a capital gains tax on properties sold within two years of purchase. Or we could penalize foreign owners of vacant properties that are not properly maintained.

The fact is, as other countries have seen, this might take some of the steam out of the markets, but it will not make housing affordable for average earners in Vancouver. It just won’t.

Notably, there are early signs that the red-hot markets are cooling, at least a bit. Resales have slowed in the past few months, and housing starts have picked up. Boomers are downsizing and much more of that will come over the next decade. I believe house price inflation will slow in the next year, which should encourage many who are thinking of selling to put their properties on the market. So while housing in Vancouver and Toronto will remain expensive, the pace of appreciation is likely to slow.

Will prices fall enough to make them affordable? No. Even if prices fell 30 per cent, it would simply take them back to where they were a year or so ago. Over-extended first-time homeowners would continue to make their payments as long as they don’t lose their jobs, because Canadians don’t walk away from their homes.

18 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

A short time ago Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) changed the rules on how much down payment buyers have to have in place to buy a home worth more than $500,000. The new rules stated that you have to have 5% on the first $500,000 and 10% on the remaining balance up to $999,999. After that point they require 20% but that’s another article altogether.

With the recent changes, they also allowed for the use of 100% offset should the home have a legal suite. This was great news for some parts of the country as housing costs increased over the million dollars in prices in Vancouver and Toronto. Does it have much effect on other parts of the country?

Recent numbers would say no. With housing prices in the west decreasing just about everywhere else but Vancouver, the average Canadian first time buyer will not likely apply for a mortgage that is in this price range. The idea of wanting the big home as the first home is something that first time buyers will not be doing. Even in the Vancouver markets, the buyer for the million plus property is most likely a move up buyer.

I look at my own nephews and nieces and they have bought closer to their lifestyles. My niece in Vancouver, who is a single young professional, chose more the loft style home and while living in 400 sq ft. is foreign to most of us, it is a choice she had to make to be in downtown Vancouver and able to walk to work.

Probably where we have seen the biggest impact of these new rules is in Ft McMurray, AB. While prices are down  in Ft McMurray, there are still a lot of homes that are in the $850,000 to $900,000 range – most built during the boom times with full legal suites.

I recently had a file that was in the $900,000 price range with a full legal suite. While the clients had the required down payment of 5% and 10% on the balance of the mortgage, the lender decided they wanted 20% down on the property even though CMHC had said yes to the mortgage. I’m sure this is happening in more than one location across Canada especially in areas where the prices have been fluctuating up and down over the last few years.

With ever changing markets and regulations, be sure to get advice from your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before you buy your dream home.