30 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

As we truck along in 2017, Mortgage Brokers and Lenders are adjusting to the new risk based mortgage rate pricing that came into play after the Finance Minister changed Government backed mortgage default insurance regulations in late 2016.

Lenders often choose to pay for mortgage default insurance on mortgages where the borrower was not required to pay it themselves. This method protects a lenders book of business against credit loss, helps them package more secured mortgages together to sell to investors and reduces the amount of capital they are required to maintain. This method in the mortgage industry is called back-end insuring.

The changes have limited the mortgage profiles that lenders are allowed to insure using Government backed insurers. Essentially the Government is intentionally passing on the risk to Lenders by implementing stricter insurance qualifying guidelines and limiting mortgages that can be insured to what they consider lower risk “inside the box” mortgages.

The onus is now on the lender to absorb more costs if a borrower defaults. In the end costs are passed on to borrowers by lenders applying higher rates to less secured mortgages.

If you’re looking for a mortgage in today’s market your circumstances may not fit “inside the Box” and be an insurable mortgage profile and your mortgage rate may be higher. The following is a short list of what insurers have limited their guidelines to:

25 year maximum amortizations
Must qualify by using a rate stress test
Maximum Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS) of 39% (shelter expenses)
Maximum Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS )of 44% (all liabilities)
No refinances
No single unit rentals
Purchase price must be less than $1 Million
As you can see the insurer’s list is limited making Dominion Lending Centre’s lender connections and mortgage solutions more important than ever! Our Mortgage Brokers have a vast amount of mortgage options available to cover “outside the box” uninsurable mortgage profiles. Whether your refinancing, you need an amortization over 25 years, want to buy a single-unit rental or more we have a mortgage for that!

Contact a DLC Mortgage Broker to get started on your mortgage approval today!

By Kathleen Dediluke

29 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

With low rate offerings over the past several years and a struggling economy, some homeowners chose to lock into a longer term mortgage even if the interest rate was a bit higher. If you are one of those people who feel stuck in a high rate 10 year fixed mortgage you may be wondering if you have options. The answer is YES.

Let’s consider the case of Dan and Anita who own a home and refinanced their mortgage 8 years ago into a 10 year term. They wanted to consolidate their high interest credit cards and their mortgage into one lower monthly payment and be secure with that monthly payment for as long as possible.

The news was painting a picture of doom and they wanted to take advantage of the “record low” rate of 5.25% for 10 years. Over the past few years they have watched the shorter term rates for 5 year term mortgages continue to drop to under 3% and they feel they may have made a poor decision. But since they feel they are stuck in a high rate 10 year fixed mortgage with the potential of a high penalty to get out of the mortgage they have chosen to stick it out. The monthly payments are $1,644 which they can afford but the potential of payments at under 3% for the remaining 5 years would be $1,304 (based on the remaining amortization) which is hard to pass on.

A friend told them to talk to her mortgage broker to see what real options they had. After talking to the broker they learned the penalty for terminating a 10 year mortgage after 5 years is only 3 months interest or $1,200 in their case (and legal fee of about $600). Dan and Anita were stunned they had missed this in the fine print of their mortgage agreement. And to top if off this policy is determined by law and not by the lender. This was great news for the happy couple. The broker also ran numbers to show them how they could further take advantage of the lower interest rate and increase their monthly payments to pay off their mortgage faster.

By increasing the payment by 20% – which was still lower than what they were paying before and paying bi-weekly instead of monthly, they lowered their interest costs by $20,000 over the next 5 years and reduced their amortization from 25 years to 12 years!

The morale of this story is, if you are stuck in a high rate 10 year fixed mortgage and you are close to the 5 year mark, you should talk with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker (I and see what options you have to save yourself some money on your mortgage. What would you do with a savings of over $20,000?

By Pauline Tonkin

28 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Every year since October 2008 it’s become more and more difficult to obtain a mortgage. The government claims to be casting a safety net over the Canadian housing industry via stiffer mortgage regulations. What do you need to know to help prepare yourself for a home purchase, refinance, debt consolidation, or even a simple renewal? Well the biggest item I cover on a daily basis is preparation.

It can take a client weeks or months to find the confidence to connect with a Mortgage Professional once they feel confident that they ready to obtain that next mortgage. Any Mortgage Professional worth their salt will be able to guide their clientele to prepare them properly for the mortgage.

Typically most people think they need to prepare themselves most for their first purchase, however preparing for each mortgage these days is more critical today than ever before. When Canadians finally make that call, they want a step by step process to solve their solutions in an easy manner, but are seldom prepared to proceed.

During my regular daily routine, I follow up with my clients with gentle reminders to send me the requested documentation list. Having done this for ten years, the process is quite similar for almost each individual even though the main list of documentation remains the same.

We all want to take short cuts to get to the finished product, but in the end, the banks and lenders have become governed so much so that the short cuts are almost non-existent therefore, preparing the proper document package is essential to an essential mortgage. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently in an interview I watched on Facebook, we need to stop taking and thinking about short cuts. There aren’t any to success.

What I’m getting at here is that when your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional provides you with a mortgage document checklist, please don’t take it for granted, please follow each and every step carefully.

In general, the most common documents required are dependent on what you do for work. So if you are an employee, then the most recent paystub, and an updated employment letter along with the most recent two years of T-Slips (whether they are T4’s from employer’s, T5’s and pension slips), T1 Generals -the entire document (the documents your accountant prepares to submit to Canada Revenue Agency), Notice of Assessments (the form you receive back from CRA after your file is completed). Then there will be the verification of down payment via 90 days of bank statements, any mortgage statements, property tax assessments and the list can go one. The most common mistake is providing a mix and match of the above documents to try and piece together your income story. Depending on how your income is structured, we may be able to provide you with a near pre-qualification but lenders are being more adamant of having the documentation upfront, so that they are using their time, along with the mortgage insurer’s time. As a rule of thumb, the cleaner the file, the easier it is to underwrite and make a proper decision.

Common mistakes include, missing pages from tax documents, poorly written, unsigned, undated, missing info on employment letters (handwritten ones draw huge red flags), cut off pages from documents, out dated items(paystubs and employment letters over 30-60 days is pretty much null and void these days).

You may not know how to prepare yourself, but that’s also what we are for. We are essentially mortgage guidance counsellors to help prepare you for mortgage success, but if we are trying to obtain a mortgage via shortcuts, you’ll be upset with how the process goes.

We all used to have more leeway with mortgage documentation, but it’s clear the government is having banks and lenders scrutinize every mortgage more carefully now than ever before. And the banks and lenders have to oblige as they will be audited, if they don’t pass audits, then they lose out. And if they lose out, we lose competition. Yes this is the new normal, yes it’s tiring, no we don’t like it either, but it’s our new reality. And realistically, is gathering a few extra documents really that bad? Mortgages are not a given right and earned more so than ever before in our recent history.

Our job is to help you prepare for the mortgage, sometimes it will take one meeting, sometimes it’ll take weeks or months, even years depending on your own personal financial situation. But we can provide the recipe to help you prepare, but it’s up to you to do the cooking.

By Jean-Guy Turcotte

27 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Every homebuyer eagerly anticipates closing day. With the home purchase process completed, ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer – you!

Closing date is negotiated as a condition of sale. You’ll typically have several weeks between the date that your agreement to purchase (sales contract) is signed and your closing date.

During that time, you and your real estate team will work to ensure that all the conditions of the sale are met so you can take possession on the agreed-upon date.

But what happens if a home sale falls through and you are unable to close?

Reasons why a home sale could fall through

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of purchase agreements close as expected. But the most common reasons why a sale may fall through are the following:

The homebuyer fails to qualify for a mortgage.
The homebuyer makes an offer to purchase a home based on the condition that they can sell their existing property first – and fails to do so.
The homebuyer’s lender appraises the property at a value significantly lower than the agreed-upon purchase price. If the buyer can’t make up the shortfall from savings or the seller won’t lower the price, the buyer can no longer afford the property.
There are title insurance or home inspection surprises. If a title report shows claims against the property or if a home inspection reveals serious flaws, it will jeopardize the sale.
The homebuyer gets cold feet, changing his or her mind for any reason.
TIP: The best way to reduce the odds of failing to close on a home you want is to get mortgage pre-approval from the mortgage professionals at Dominion Lending Centres before you start house hunting.

Avoid making an offer on a potential money pit by scheduling a pre-sale inspection.

Your home sale falls through. Now what?

If you ever experience a sobering “it’s just not gonna happen” moment, contact your REALTOR® immediately.

If appropriate, they will send the seller’s agent a mutual release form, which releases both parties from the purchase agreement. As the buyer, you will endeavor to get your sales deposit back, and the seller is free to sell the home to someone else.

Problems arise if the seller refuses to sign the mutual release form.

Who gets the deposit?

If the seller refuses to sign the mutual release form, your deposit, which is held in a trust account, remains in trust until it is released by court order.

A disgruntled seller may decide to sue for damages that result from the failed purchase agreement. For example, they may end up selling the property to another buyer for less, resulting in a financial loss.

Or let’s say they purchased a home conditional on the sale of their existing home, and because you backed out, they either fail to close on that home or they must take out bridge financing to save the sale. They’ll probably want compensation for the extra costs and hassle.

While failure to close is an uncommon occurrence, it causes headaches for both buyers and sellers. Try avoiding it by getting mortgage pre-approval before you start house hunting, and by booking a pre-sale home inspection.

Most important, hire a real estate team. These experts can use their experience and professionalism to guide you through your sale, managing any bumps along the way.

By Marc Shendale

26 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

If you’re looking to buy a new home, one of the most difficult things can be putting together a down payment for the mortgage. So how much do you really need to put together before you can get into the home of your dreams? Let’s take a look at some of the different options, with their various pros and cons.

0% Down – A Thing of the Past?

If you’ve been in the housing market before, you might remember a time when banks offered extremely inexpensive mortgage options, including the “zero down payment” mortgage. Although these types of mortgages were extremely attractive for obvious reasons, you may remember a something called the Great Recession of 2008. The unfortunate downside to these mortgages was that far too many unqualified buyers were opting into mortgages they could not realistically afford. When these people defaulted en masse, it led, in part, to the collapse of the housing market. As a result, Canadian legislators moved to implement safety measures preventing such high-risk mortgages from being so freely available.

As a result, if you’re looking to buy a home through a federally-regulated lender, you will be required to make a minimum 5% down payment. On the other hand, most major credit unions do still offer zero down mortgages, primarily aimed at lower income families getting into the housing market for the first time. The benefits of this are obvious, requiring less money up front, but what are the downsides? The biggest drawback to this kind of mortgage is the high interest rate. Most of these plans carry an interest rate up to 150% higher than mortgages with 20% or more down. This interest can add up very quickly, in addition to mandatory insurance required for any mortgage with below 20% down. The cost over time of both these high interest rates and insurance can become daunting expenditures, dramatically reducing the attractiveness of these mortgages.

Mid-Range Down Payments – 20% Down

In the Canadian housing market, 20% down is a bit of a milestone. If you put together less than 20% for a down payment, you will be required to also purchase default insurance, a pricy addition your regular mortgage payments. However, if you have 20% or more, you will be exempt from this burden. Common wisdom dictates that, in the long run, you will save a substantial sum of money if you can put together at least 20% for a down payment, as it will reduce your monthly payments substantially.

If you fall somewhere between 0% and 20% in terms of your ability to put together a down payment, you might want to look into the climate of your housing market. For example, when moving into a very popular housing market, where prices are increasing at a fast pace, it could be more expensive to wait until you have a larger down payment, as the prices will increase at a rate which negates the benefits you’d receive by not having to pay insurance. In a mellower housing market, you may be better off saving up and avoiding the higher interest and insurance premiums of a lower down payment mortgage, since the cost of housing will not be likely to climb so quickly.

Whatever your specific situation, it helps to have professionals look into it with you and crunch the numbers to make sure that you’re making the best decision for you!

35% Down Payment – The Ideal Mortgage?

Further conventional wisdom dictates that if a 20% down payment is good, 35% must be even better. The importance of 20% is, of course, that the CMHC insurance is no longer required, but what if you’re situated so that you can afford an even larger down payment? Simply put, the more money you’re able to commit up front to a home, the less expensive it will be in the long run. Not only will you have less to pay off, but you will qualify for even more appealing interest rates. With lower interest rates and no insurance to worry about, the overall cost of your home will be substantially lower and you will be finished paying off your home far more quickly than if you were to put down the minimum.

Of course, not everyone is so situated that they can afford to put down 20-35% on a home. It’s important to note that, although there are benefits, a princely down payment is not required to get into the housing market. If you are a first-time buyer or belong to the low-to-mid income class, there are options available for you as well.

What’s truly important is to be able to take a frank, honest look at your finances, be clear about what you can and can’t afford, get professional assistance when needed, and do the math on what you’re getting yourself into. Buying a home should be an exciting experience, and it can be, provided you put in the necessary footwork! The mortgage professionals at Dominion Lending Centres are happy to help.

By Tracy Valko

23 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Oh Canada; Our home and Native Land.
The land of opportunity.

You’ve arrived in a new country with hopes and dreams. If you’re an immigrant like me, one of these dreams is to own a home, and what better way to put down roots.
The first thing you want to do is open a bank account and start building credit as soon as possible with a credit card. Fortunately, there are also programs to help new Canadians purchase their first home and make it easier for your family to become established in Canada.
The new to Canada program will assist you with getting into home ownership sooner than you think.

Here is a list of documentation required:
• Valid work permit or verification of landed immigrant status
• Income Confirmation: You will need to provide proof that you have been working full time in Canada for at least three months. Proof of income through either an employment contract and pay stubs
• Proof of down payment: The total down payment will vary based on the final purchase price. The down payment can come from your own savings or it may be possible for your family to provide you with a gift. CMHC will insure newcomers with permanent resident status with as little as five per cent down, while non-permanent residents must have a 10 per cent down payment to purchase a home
• Purchase and Sale Agreement

A good credit history is important, however, as a newcomer, you may provide alternative credit supporting documentation.

Two (2) alternative sources of credit demonstrating timely payments (no arrears) for the past 12 months. The two alternative sources required are:
• Rental payment history confirmed via letter from landlord and bank statements
• One other alternative source (hydro/utilities, telephone, cable, cell phone and auto insurance) to be confirmed via letter from the service provider or 12 months billing statements

Buying a home in Canada is a big step. A Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can assist you with all the details.

Welcome to Canada, the great White North.

By Alison Lopes

21 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

This is the third part of a series by Pam Pikkert of things the average mortgage professional wished people knew so that they would not be held back by inadvertent missteps.

The next installment in the things we wished people knew series is targeted at the self-employed. This intrepid group of risk takers are entrepreneurial and help keep the economy moving but all too often we meet with these people and have to give news we would rather not give. So let’s look at what we wish they knew.

1. Surround yourself with professionals. You are the expert in your field without a doubt, but that doesn’t translate to being able to do it all.
Having a knowledgeable book keeper and a well-qualified accountant can save you a fortune in tax deductions and time lost. They are in your corner come tax time and heaven forbid through an audit by the CRA. Their job is to know the ins and outs of taxes so that you can put your focus on growing your business.
A lawyer is also invaluable. They will protect you against loopholes you didn’t know to look for in contracts.
Mortgage professionals are also a must. A Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage professional can help you with your home, a rental portfolio if you plan to diversify and commercial lending when you are ready.

2. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The lending landscape in Canada has totally shifted in the past few years. Long gone are the days of simply stating what you earn without any verification of such and being offered a mortgage with little money down and low rates. If you choose to write off as much of your income as possible to avoid as much taxes as possible, then you will pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage

3. You have to keep your affairs up to date. That means getting the accountant prepared financials, filing your annual returns and most importantly paying your taxes. If you have a large outstanding tax balance, you are going to find it nearly impossible to get a mortgage. Taxes trump mortgage in order of who gets paid first so there are no prime or near prime lenders out there who will lend to you until these are paid.

4. The magical number in the mortgage world is 2. You have to have a 2-year history of self-employment with accompanying documentation to be able to proceed with the mainstream lenders in most cases. You also need 2 types of credit each with at least a $2,000 limit to keep your credit strong. Be aware of how debt may affect your purchasing ability. A large credit balance and a high vehicle payment will dramatically affect your ability to purchase a home. That $13,000 line of credit or a $400 vehicle payment will each decrease your purchasing power by $100,000.

The bottom line is this, make sure that you use your whole team. If you are wanting to buy a home within a couple of years then before you go fully self-employed or purchase that new truck or write off all the income you can, talk to your mortgage professional to ensure you are not inadvertently putting your home ownership goals on hold.

By Pam Pikkert

20 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Most working Canadians have an income range in the middle class.
This income class includes teachers, firefighters, plumbers, engineers, nurses, construction managers and chefs – workers from across the economic spectrum. They provide and consume the bulk of services that keep society afloat, driving economic growth and investment with every purchase.
The middle class also has great challenges. Wages have been stagnant and the cost of housing and everyday goods puts a squeeze on the average budget, leaving six out of 10 Canadians living paycheque-to-paycheque with most accumulating debt.
In part, this has to do with everyday life and the growing demands on our set of unique challenges. However, we need to “control the controllables” and be smart and strategic to get ahead.

Here are some tips to keep your economic future on the right path:
1. Spend within your means.
Most people keep a balance at months end on their credit cards and lines of credit – some out of necessity, but some by choice because they want to keep up with the Joneses or fill an emotional void. If you are trying to get ahead financially, ask yourself what your plan is to get rid of that debt? It should not be something that is with you to carry over a balance. It’s time to assess your lifestyle and how you are using your home equity and the market to your advantage if you own a home. Holding the debt is a costly mistake- most debts outside a mortgage range from more than five per cent to 19 per cent. Credit is an important part of life and you need it. The biggest life hack is to pay it in full every month with an auto setup payment – this one strategy saves costs, debt and stress.

2. Emergency fund is a must.
Ask yourself this, what would happen right now if your car broke down, your house need a new roof, or you lost your job? Most Canadians would have to go to credit cards or lines of credit.
You need six months of expenses put aside, period. If you don’t have this you will begin a cycle of debt. There are ways to do this automatic withdrawal into an account from your paycheque or when your mortgage renewal is up.

3. Giving your retirement a raise and start in high school.
Consider how long wages have felt stagnant while the cost of everything goes up. When you are young and your wages go up, increase your retirement contribution. Get compound interest working for you. Time is your friend. By saving a percentage automatically by paying yourself first, your investment grows your options. There are tax free savings accounts and RRSP’s that will begin the foundation of your financial future. It should start from the moment you get your first job, then when you fast forward through your 20s to 50s, your investment doesn’t have to be as large. Life will throw you enough challenges at that time to deal with, and you already have time and compound interest working for you, and you are in front of it, not chasing to catch up.

4. Relying on RRSP’s, OAS and CPP.
Contributing to tax advantaged products are one component of investing, but they have restrictions. Also, government future income plans are always going to be changing. Having a proactive mortgage and finance plan will allow you to get your assets working for you, so you can have multiple streams of income. Being self-sufficient is empowering, then if and when the other options are still available and advantageous, they are a bonus and you are in control based on your proactive abilities.
5. Spending too much on depreciating assets.
The average Canadian spends $570 a month on a new car payment. This can go up to as much as $1,400 per month- that’s just for the car, not insurance, gas, or maintenance. The problem is that it’s a depreciating asset. To put it into perspective, that range in payment takes away qualification for a whopping $150,000 to $400,000 in mortgage amount qualification. So for someone in the middle class who intends to buy a home, which is an appreciating asset, the car payment should be the absolute lowest priority, and should be avoided whenever possible. Think of the power you could have saving that kind of money or having it in an income-generating asset.

6. Having a will and keeping it current.
Your will should include your up-to-date investments, insurance policies, real estate and family gems. With life happening so quickly, it’s easy to have a few stages fly by, but then things can get messy. You don’t want your hard earned money in the hands of anyone but whom it’s intended for.

It’s never a bad idea to speak to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist if you have a question.

By Angela Calla

19 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

I’ve heard brokers say more than once that mortgages are a commodity, by definition a commodity is a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type. That doesn’t sound like mortgages to me.

While the core product is always the same, money lent that is secured by real estate, the nuances of a mortgage can vary a lot. When we look at what the client is looking to do with that property and what their life style is composed of, we have to be sure that we aren’t just placing them for the sake of placing them in a mortgage. We have a duty to the client to make sure that even though they are looking for that lowest rate that it doesn’t tie them into a mortgage they can’t get out of in a reasonable manner. I recently had a client whose parent had gotten a mortgage on a property that the kids were living in with the idea that down the road when the kids had some money they would buy the house from Mom and Dad. Problem was that when I read the original commitment the bank representative had not explained that the sale had to be arm’s length sale; sorry kids you need to move out.

By some standards the comparison for commodities that a barrel of oil is a barrel of oil, when as an Albertan I already know that the heavy crude from Fort McMurray sells for a discount because while it is needed to toughen up the Texas oils, they just don’t need as much of it. By mortgage standards the same applies, if the rate is lower than the market there has to be a reason. The reasons can range from as simple as the yearly buy down is only 10% instead of 20% and range up to the office doing it pays their staff a salary and they use the extra money to buy down the rate. Regardless of the reason we still need to make sure the product we recommend to our clients fits their needs and plans for the future. And if you have any questions, please contact you local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

By Len Lane

16 Jun



Posted by: Mike Hattim

You’ve seen the real estate shows that dramatize the buying of a home and the star TV Realtor says “hey, let’s offer this price and have them pay you a $5,000 closing cost bonus”. Or, the real estate listing that offers a “decorating bonus of $3,500”. In both examples, the vendor (seller) is offering additional money as an incentive to buy their home.
While at first, the bonuses and offers seem great, you should know that unless you are paying cash for the house (ie: not getting a mortgage for the purchase), they are worth nothing in the end.
Let’s use the following example of a purchase price of $300,000 with a “decorating bonus” of $5,000. The seller accepts your offer and written into the purchase and sale agreement is the bonus of $5,000. When you get a mortgage, your lender also gets a copy of your agreement. When the lender reviews it, they will adjust your purchase price to $295,000. The reason for the adjustment makes sense when you are actually paying a net price of $295,000 for the property ($300,000 minus the value of the bonus of $5,000 = $295,000). The lender cannot use a purchase price of $300,000 since you are not paying the full $300,000 for the house after receiving the bonus from the seller.
Many buyers are surprised when this happens and are not often told of this by their Realtor, and unless explained by their lender or Mortgage Broker, will have a big surprise on closing when they must come up with an additional $5,000 out of their own pocket (since the lender has reduced the value of the property) then will receive the money back from the vender on closing, thus making it a net zero gain.
When paying cash, the above example doesn’t apply as there is no mortgage lender involved and you would pay $300,000 for the house and receive $5,000 on closing. Whether you were arranging a mortgage or not, the net outlay of cash is $295,000. The only difference with a mortgage is that you must pay the difference on closing up front to get the bonus.
It should also be noted, that with purchases of homes that include items of value that wouldn’t normally be included with a home such as a boat, large riding lawn mower, or even furniture, your lender can request that the purchase price of the home be reduced by the value of the item (since lenders won’t mortgage boats or furniture).
So, the next time you hear “closing cost bonus”, “decorating bonus”, “early closing incentive”, be aware that if you are mortgaging the property, your initial down payment will be increased by the amount of the bonus. My advice: just make the purchase price what you want to pay for the property. Don’t make it complicated with closing bonuses.

It’s always best to talk to a dedicated Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional in your area.

By Sean Binkley