31 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Buying a home is financial decision, but also an emotional experience.

Before we’ve explored every room, we often start imagining our new lives there. Where our furniture will go. The parties we’ll host in the open-concept living-dining space. The mornings we’ll spend at the breakfast bar overlooking the garden or skyline… When a home speaks to us emotionally, the fear of missing out on it can set in fast.

That’s especially true in a real estate market where multiple offers and bidding wars are common, where a financing condition can put you at a disadvantage, and where prices are at all-time highs.

According to the 2017 Genworth Canada Homeownership Study, 60% of first-time buyers were worried they might miss out on the “perfect” house. That can lead emotional homebuyers to act against their own best interests by, for example, forgoing important conditions, or paying more than they had budgeted.

There’s no need to lose the dream — you will host those parties — but you’ve got to take emotion out of the deal, and these strategies will help.

Assemble your entire team before looking at any property.

That means: interview experienced real estate agents with expertise on your desired neighbourhoods; consult a financial advisor to help determine how homeownership fits into your other goals (a wedding, saving for a child’s education, retirement planning, etc.) and establish a budget including “what-if” scenarios, such as a layoff or maternity leave; find a DLC mortgage broker to help you secure a pre-approval, explain your options, and answer your questions here. You may be able to achieve homeownership sooner than you think. Find out how

Get the names of 3 home inspectors. Call and introduce yourself now.

Many emotional homebuyers forego the inspection process in an effort to make their bid more competitive. That’s a risk. With 3 recommended inspectors on speed dial, you should be able to get a qualified professional to visit a property the day you want to make an offer. Your real estate agent is one source of referrals, or check with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors.

Don’t visit properties outside your price range.

Best-case scenario, you’ll walk away deflated. Worst-case scenario? You’ll bid on something you can’t comfortably afford. Stick to your homeowner budget (likely to be higher than renting, since it includes property taxes/maintenance fees, utilities, etc.) and practice living on it for a few months before you decide to make a purchase.

Focus on the things you can’t see.

The efficiency of the heating and cooling systems, the age of the roof, the state of the electrical… these matter most when it comes to deciding if a home is a good financial deal. Hardwood floors, quartz counter tops, and stainless steel appliances can be seductive, but they shouldn’t be a priority.

Surprise repairs and upgrades to fundamentals — like a furnace on its last legs, plumbing that isn’t to code, or uninsurable knob-and-tube wiring — could sink your budget. And if problems have been covered up, you might just have to rip out those magazine-worthy finishes and details.

There is no disputing that buying a home is a massive financial decision as well as an emotional experience. But minimizing emotions throughout your homebuying experience is a heads-up move that will ultimately benefit you.

For more tips on what you should know before you purchase a home visit www.homeownership.ca.

By Marc Shendale

29 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Life can definitely throw some challenging financial situations your way. As mortgage professionals, we can provide solutions and strategies during or after these challenging times in order to get you back on track. We have access to banks, trust companies and mortgage companies that specialize in this transitional period to help you move forward with the best mortgage plan for you. We protect your credit by negotiating with multiple lenders to find a solution for you.

If you have never owned a home and have had a consumer proposal, the good news is that you are already accustomed to the discipline of saving money every month. Should you choose to continue to grow your savings, those funds can then be put toward a down payment and re-establishing credit.

If you own a home already, there are lenders that will help you refinance and pay out your proposal earlier in order to accelerate your transition period.

After bankruptcy, different lenders will issue mortgages based on the amount of time since you were discharged, the amount of down payment on a purchase and/or the current equity in your home if your already own. Lenders then price their rates based on these aspects of your application.

At Dominion Lending Centres, we look forward to learning about your journey while protecting your credit and guiding you through the best strategy on a moving forward basis.

By Angela Calla

28 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

If you happen to be going through, or considering a divorce or separation, you might not be aware that there are mortgage products designed to allow you to refinance your property in order to buyout your ex-spouse.

For most couples, their property is their largest asset and where the majority of their equity has been saved. In the case of a separation, it is possible to structure a new mortgage that allows you to purchase the property from your ex-spouse for up to 95% of the property’s value. Alternatively, if your ex-spouse wants to keep the property, they can buy you out using the same program.

Here are some common questions about the spousal buyout program:

Is a finalized separation agreement required?
Yes. In order to qualify, you will be required to provide the lender with a copy of the signed separation agreement. The details of asset allocation must be clearly outlined.

Can the net proceeds be used for home renovations or to pay out loans?
No. The net proceeds can only be used to buy out the other owner’s share of equity and/or to pay off joint debt as explicitly agreed upon in the finalized separation agreement.

What is the maximum amount that can be withdrawn?
The maximum equity that can be withdrawn is the amount agreed upon in the separation agreement to buy out the other owner’s share of property and/or to retire joint debts (if any), not to exceed 95% loan to value (LTV).

What is the maximum permitted LTV?
Max. LTV is the lesser of 95% or Remaining Mortgage + Equity required to buy out other owner and/or pay off joint debt (which, in some cases, can total < 95% LTV). The property must be the primary owner occupied residence. Do all parties have to be on title? Yes. All parties to the transaction have to be current registered owners on title. Solicitor is required to do a search of title to confirm. Do the parties have to be a married or common law couple? No. The current owners can be friends or siblings. This is considered on exception with insurer approval. In this case, as there won’t be a separation agreement, there is a standard clause that can be included in the purchase contract that outlines the buyout. Is a full appraisal required? Yes. When considering this type of a mortgage, it is similar to a private sale and a physical appraisal of the property is necessary. If you have any questions about how a spousal buyout mortgage works, please contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional. Be assured that our communication will be held in the strictest of confidence. By Michael Hallett

25 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Why is it important for you to have a mortgage manager? Reaching your financial goals is attainable!

There are some things to consider before securing your mortgage:
Is there a potential of you buying an investment property or a vacation home? Are you considering scaling up or downsizing? Do you think you might move or port your mortgage or retire within the next five years? All these scenarios come into play when setting up your mortgage.

If you had $500,000 cash to invest, how often would want your financial advisor to review your investments?

Why is it different when you are $500,000 in debt with your mortgage?

Why not have an active mortgage broker looking after your $500,000 debt?

Active financial advisors aim to grow your net worth by investing wisely.
Active Mortgage brokers will help you grow your net worth by reducing your debt and growing your asset base. You will cover only half of the prosperity equation without a mortgage broker.

Consider this: your bank’s main goal is to make money for the bank. This is understandable as they are in business to make money. As reported, banks make billions of dollars every quarter, in part, thanks to you. On the flip side, a mortgage brokers is an advocate for you and their main goal is to get you the best mortgage to meet your goals. This comes in many forms, not just the interest rate, although it is important there are other areas that could cost you more money in the long run.
An active mortgage broker can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.
Most mortgages are set up on a five-year term. A lot can happen in five years.

Changes in life happen. You are forced to move, or you would like to move to a bigger home, down size, buy an investment home a recreational property, or take equity out to buy a business or perhaps retire.
Mortgage rules continually to change. What worked last year may not work this year. It is important to review your situation with your mortgage broker before making any major decisions with your current mortgage.
Being in the right mortgage may be the difference between being able to buy that investment property or recreational property. It may be the difference of paying a $3,000 penalty or an $18,000 penalty to close out you mortgage.

Remember, it is not getting a mortgage that is important, it is getting the right mortgage that will help you meet your future goals.
When it comes to your renewal time it is important to once again review your options with your mortgage broker.
Your current lender may not have the best rate or option for you at renewal time as there are many lenders and there are many options to choose from. At renewal time, you can change lenders with no penalty. Renewal time is also a good time to take extra equity out of your home to pay off debt, for investment purposes or to pay for that new kitchen you wanted.

I have called many clients well before their mortgage is due when I recognized it would save them thousands of dollars to refinance early. Moves like this help clients pay down their mortgage faster, provide extra cash flow for investments, and provide funds for renovations or a down payment on an investment property.
Having someone manage your mortgage can be a great benefit for you and your family.
If you currently do not have an active mortgage manager, a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker would be happy to become your mortgage manager.

By Kevin Bay

24 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Cap Rates are one of the key metrics in commercial real estate investment analysis. In very simple terms, its the ratio of rent paid by your tenants, to the price/value of the building. An important barometer on the current state of the market, cap rates are inversely related to value. As the price/value goes up, the cap rate decreases. Falling prices infer the inverse is true.

In our post entitled Cap Rates and Property Valuation. Understanding the Variables. we shared that high demand and well located properties, consistently sought after by potential investors, tend to command a lower cap rate. Similarly, low cap rates are typically seen with commercial properties leased on a long term basis to strong tenants. Perhaps a nationally recognized retailer, a major financial institution, or perhaps a governmental agency or department. Investor risk in such situations is low, and a sales price reflective of a low cap rate would be expected.

Conversely, a property that is perhaps not as well located, not as well leased, or which may be classified as a specialty use property, would command a higher cap rate. They are perceived to involve higher owner/investor risk. Okay, so far so good.

What About Risk?

What does the recent, and seemingly on-going cap rate compression, tell us about risk?

Those schooled in appraisal and valuation methodology, the writer included, have long been taught that increases in property income are a major driver of value, and consequently of lower cap rates. Furthermore, cap rates reflect the risk free return plus a risk premium, less the growth in long term rental income.

So if rental income is stagnant, as it is in many locations, then would lower cap rates not infer that investors are repricing their attitude towards risk? Or are we mispricing risk in the market?

Can We Expect Longer Term Rental Growth?

The components which enter into an assessment of the relative risk of a real estate investment of course include financing costs. These costs are directly related to bond yields, as Government Bonds often are held to be the “risk free” investment alternative for institutional lenders. Bond yields are at historically low levels. So if cap rates are continuing to fall, have investors become immune to risk? Or are investors perhaps betting on longer term rental income growth?

I am starting to think that there is a continued bifurcation in the market. Off shore investors have a different take on “risk free” investing it seems. They are often larger players, likely have greater access to less expensive funding, and perhaps more importantly, have a longer term investment horizon.

The market does not however, differentiate between local and offshore buyers. Cap rates reflect buyer sentiment. In this increasingly global marketplace, domestic investors are of necessity on the same playing field with larger off shore investors. The result seemingly is a continued cap rate compression. By some accounts this reflects an absence of a risk premium, or at the very least, a difference of opinion as to what constitutes risk. And speaking about risk, the upside on interest rates is very real…..but that’s for another post.

By Allan Jensen

23 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

If you have a mortgage, chances are unless you win a lottery (cha-ching $$$) you’ll be doing a mortgage renewal when your current term has finished.

While most Canadians spend a lot of time, and expend a lot of effort, in shopping for an initial mortgage, the same is generally not the case when looking at mortgage renewals.

So what is a mortgage renewal?

Mortgages are amortized* over a set term* which can vary from 1-10 years.

About 6 months before the end of your term, your current lender will suddenly become your “Best Friend” showering you with attention and trying to entice you with early renewal offers… Please, please, please Mortgage borrower, sign here on the dotted line to renew… it’s sooo easy!!

You have 3 options

Sign and send back as is (don’t do it, really I mean it… don’t do it!!)
Check the market to make sure you are getting the best rate and renegotiate with your current lender
Talk to a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Expert and together we can discuss the best options available for your situation.
Lenders know that 80% of people will sign their renewal forms, because it’s easy. Banks & Lenders are a business and as such they want to make the highest profits to keep their shareholders happy. As an educated consumer, you need to take the time to ensure you are being offered the best possible rate & terms you can get. Remember all those hours of research you did regarding lenders and mortgage rates when you were buying your first home?

Yes, signing the renewal document is easy, however, it’s in your best interest to take a more proactive approach. Money in the lenders pocket comes directly out of your pocket… so its time to get to work!

5 steps to save you money on your mortgage renewal

Receive the renewal offer from your current mortgage lender and examine immediately, which gives you enough time to make an informed decision.
Do your research via the internet and phone calls to find out about current rates.
Phone your current lender and negotiate!
If your lender will not offer you a better rate then it’s time to move your mortgage. YES, you will have to complete a mortgage application and gather documentation, just like you did for your original mortgage.
Take a look at your budget and see if you can increase the amount of your mortgage payments above the mandatory payments and save money by paying off your mortgage quicker.
Your mortgage is one of your biggest expenses. For this reason, it is imperative to find the best interest rates and mortgage terms you possibly can.

As you can tell there is lots to discuss about mortgage renewals

By Kelly Hudson

22 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

There was an article reprinted in the National Post recently about an Australian millionaire’s opinion on millennials not being able to afford a home because they’re wasting money on avocado toast, at $22 per plate. The article was quickly mocked but it was an interesting article on two fronts: 1) the irresistible urge for avocado toast and 2) the importance of budgeting.

In no way is this a critique on millennials themselves, but a reminder for all to understand how spending money today, may prevent us from saving for tomorrow.

The comments arose from a TIME interview with the millionaire about how he did not spend his money on avocado toast and $4 coffee, multiple times a day, when he was young. Surely times have changed since said Australian millionaire was young and he had other priorities at the time – which may not have included avocado toast. However, what he is trying to drive home, is the importance of budgeting.

For those that are trying to save money for a down payment on their first home, it is important to think about living within your means. Perhaps those trips to the coffee shop and Sunday brunches could be fewer per month to help save a few hundred dollars a month.

If you are spending an average of $4 per coffee at your local café on your lunch hour or coffee break at work, that could add up to approximately $80 per month. For many, those coffees are added to their credit cards where only the minimum payment is made at the end of the month. As such, those $80 per month have increased to more than 99$ at a 24% interest rate (and continues to compound over the months you carry your balance). For those few who pay off their credit card before the end of the month, even saving an extra $80 per month can add up to a pretty solid down payment on a home over months and years.

Today, we are more prone to instant gratification and those coffees and avocado toasts may seem like harmless frivolities that don’t amount to much. However, every little bit counts when planning for your future. I often tell people that today’s non-essential purchase is a hindrance to their future home which helps puts things into perspective for them – and serves as a catalyst to saving.

Budgeting is essential when looking to buy your first home. This includes looking for a home and mortgage solution that work best within your monthly budget. For example, if you are earning $4,000 per month, it would be ill-advised to have mortgage payments that nears $2,000. Perhaps a starter home is all you need which will allow you to invest in your home, grow your equity and then use that for your next home in a few more years. Do you need that 2,500sq foot home right away, or can you live in a 800sq foot home for a few years before moving into a bigger place?

Making the right financial decisions can be difficult for many families. As a mortgage broker I have seen many people struggle trying to buy their first home and invest for their future. Luckily, though, I have also been able to work with them to find mortgage solutions that make sense for their very personal financial situations.

Should you need help securing a mortgage for your first home, please contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.. In the meantime, ease up on the avocado toasts and $4 coffees.

By Max Omar

21 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to have money to do more of the things you love? To be able to have the freedom to pursue things you truly enjoy, especially in your Golden Years? Enter in a CHIP Reverse Mortgage! A Reverse mortgage is a simple and sensible way to unlock the value in your home. This mortgage product can tap into your home’s equity and turn it into cash to allow you to enjoy life on your terms.

A CHIP Reverse Mortgage is a loan secured against the value of the home. With this type of mortgage product, you are not required to make regular mortgage payments. Instead the loan is repaid only when the homeowners no longer live in the home. Keep in mind that there are conditions with this. The homeowner is required to keep the property in good condition and keep up to date on property taxes and insurance.

There are also other qualifications an applicant must meet in order to qualify for this type of mortgage.

Homeowners must be age 55 or older
You must reside in your home/residence for 6 months out of the year
If the title of the property is registered to more than one person, you must be registered as joint tenants, not just as tenants in common. The difference between these two types of shared ownership is what would happen to the property when one of the owners passes on. If the property is joint tenants, the interest of a deceased owner automatically gets transferred to the remaining surviving owner. If it is tenant in common the deceased tenant’s property interest belongs to his or her estate.
Although you do not need to have an income to qualify for the borrowed amount as there are no payments required, you will have to stay up to date on paying the property taxes, fire insurance and strata fees (if applicable). The income you have coming in will have to be enough to adequately cover those associated fees.
Now for the big question you are all asking: How much can I borrow?

Well, to answer this there are factors that contribute to the total value. First, your age is a determining factor for this mortgage product. Essentially, the older you are the more you will qualify to borrow. The second factor is in direct relation to the details of your property. For instance, a detached home will qualify to borrow a higher amount than say a condo or townhome. The final factor to consider in this is the maximum amount that can be accessed through a CHIP Reverse Mortgage. The max amount is set at 55%. So, if your property is worth $1,000,000 and you are looking to qualify for the maximum amount, that would give you a mortgage of $550,000. If accessing 55% Loan To Value is not high enough there are private lending options that will consider increasing the Loan To Value up to 65%.

An easy way to take all three of those factors into consideration is to visit www.chipadvisor.ca and enter in your details. This can give you a rough idea of what the maximum amount is that you will be able to receive through a CHIP Reverse Mortgage.

One final note is to consider the costs associated with a CHIP Reverse Mortgage. Yes, there are no required payments due while you are living in your home. However, you should expect the following costs to be associated with this product:

1. An appraisal of your property will be required with an approximate cost of $300.
2. There will be legal costs associated which will be around $1495.00 This amount can be included in the mortgage funds and does not need to be paid out of pocket.
3. Independent legal advice is required on all CHIP Reverse Mortgages. The approximate cost will be $600. However, this again can be included in the mortgage funds and does not need to come out of your pocket.
4. Mortgage Penalties may incur if you are breaking the term of your mortgage.

In the 1st year it is 5% balance of the funds owing
In the 2nd year it is 4% balance of the funds owing
In the 3rd year it is 3% balance of the funds owing
In the 4th year and beyond it is 3 months interest penalty
If you are deceased, no penalty
If you are selling to move to a nursing home the penalty fees will be reduced by 50%.

In closing, a CHIP Reverse Mortgage product is a unique product that can be very powerful and useful for a certain demographic. It can allow you tap into the funds that you need while allowing you to remain in your family home. We have seen clients use their home’s equity for a variety of things from supplementing their pension income, to paying off debts and helping out family without depleting their current savings. It offers unique benefits that may just be right for you.

If you are interested or want to learn more, contact your certified Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker today and they can give you the details that will relate to your unique situation.

By Geoff Lee

21 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

1. Not consolidating high interest debt into low interest mortgage.
2. Paying “fees” to get the lower rate
3. Not looking at their long term forecast
4. Taking a 5 year rate when 3-4 years can be cheaper
5. Having their mortgage with a lender that has high penalties and restrictive clauses.

Not consolidating high interest credit or vehicle loans in their mortgage. I hear this often “I don’t want to use the equity in my home” or “I can pay it off”. Many times when people end up with debts is due to inefficient budgeting and understanding what your income is and your debt payments are. There are many folks where monthly payment is the driving factor in their monthly budget. Making minimum payments can take you YEARS to pay off. Soon after people get mortgages, they are buying that new car at 0% interest and $600 month payments, then the roof or hot water tank goes and they put another $15,000 on credit, then someone gets laid off and boom…can’t make all the payments on all those debts that it took a 2 income family to make. It’s a true reality. Let’s look at an example:

Paying Fees to get the lower rate.
Dear rate chasers…they catch up with you somewhere. Nothing comes for free. Let’s face it, you go to the bank and their goal is to make money! A lender that offers you a 4.49% with a $2500 vs a 4.64% with no fee and you think “yes, score what a great rate!” Hold your coins… as you could be walking away poorer as the banker didn’t run the bottom line numbers for you. Chasing rates can cost you more money in the long run.

Your $500,000 mortgage was offered with two rates for the business for self guy who needed a mortgage where they didn’t look at the income so much: 4.49% and $2500 fee and $4.64% no fee. Lets see what it really looks like for a 2 year mortgage.

$502,500 (built in th $2500 feel) 4.49% – payments $2778 per month – $479563 owing in 2 years
Total payments: $66672
$500,000 (no fee) 4.64% – payments $2806 per month – $477634 owing in 2 years
Total payments: $67344.

Wait? So by taking the lower rate with the fee means I owe $1929 MORE in 2 years and only saved $672 in overall payments?

The long term financial planning side.
I counsel many of my clients to take 2-3 year year terms for a variety of reasons. Better rates, lower payments, capitalizing on the equity in your home to pay off a car loan or upcoming wedding. Did you know the average homeowner refinances every 3 years of a 5 year term and pays a penalty?

Taking a 5 year when 3 and 4 year rates might be a better option. Many times the 2-4 year rates can be significantly lower than the 5 year rates. Remember, the bank wants money and the longer you take the term, the more they make. True, many folks prefer or fit the 5 year terms, but many don’t. Worrying about where rates will be in 3-5 years from now should be a question, but not always the guiding factor in you “today” budget.
Here is an example of a $450,000 mortgage and what the difference in what you will owe on a 3 year term.

2.34% – payments are $990 every two weeks = $402,578 owing in 3 years
2.59% – payments are $1018 ever two weeks = $403,604 owing in 3 years.
Your paying $28 MORE every two weeks ($2184 total) and owe $1026 MORE in 3 years. Total LOSS $3210! Planning is key. Stop giving away your hard earned money!

Mortgage monster is in the penalties you pay when you fail to plan.
Since many families today are getting in with 5-10% as their downpayment.
If you got your mortgage with many of the traditional banks you know and your current mortgage is $403,750 and you need to break your mortgage (ie refinance to pay off debts) 3 years into the contract you potential penalty could be $12,672! Ouch. vs going with a mortgage broker who can put you with a lender that has similar rate you penalty would be significantly different – almost $10,000 dollars different!

Get a plan today! If you have any questions, please contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

By Kiki Berg

17 Aug



Posted by: Mike Hattim

There have been a dizzying number of changes to the mortgage rules over the last six or seven years. The red hot markets in Toronto and Vancouver coupled with increased household debt and concerns over the risk to the Canadian tax payer through CMHC have caused the federal government to step in repeatedly. Here are a few of the changes we have seen.

Maximum amortization from 40 years to 25 years.
Mortgages must qualify on the stress test rate which is currently 4.84%.
Homes over $500,000 need 10% down on any amount over that threshold.
Homes over $1,000,000 are not eligible for mortgage insurance.
Refinances can no longer be guaranteed by mortgage default insurance.
Foreign buyers faced additional restrictions.
Home Equity Lines of Credit are maxed at 65% of the property’s value.
Refinances are maxed at 80%.
All outstanding credit cards and lines of credit have to be included at a 3% repayment.
Increased mortgage default insurance premiums.
This list could go on but these are some of the major ones. Recently the powers that be have announced another round of proposed changes which, if history holds true, we would anticipate to come into existence in October of this year.

The overall indebtedness of Canadian households through Home Equity Lines of Credit is a concern which may signal a further set of limitations to this type of mortgage.
There is consideration being given to a risk sharing model between the mortgage insurers and the banks. At the present time if you were to default on your mortgage the lender has the assurance that the default insurance will make them whole. Going forward this may not be the case.
How could you be affected? There will likely be an increased level of scrutiny applied to mortgage applications. If your credit is blemished or less than perfect you could face higher rates or be shut out of buying a home. They will likely also want to see savings beyond just the down payment and closing costs.

The fact of the matter is that if a bank has an increased risk overall they are going to certainly be more selective in who they lend their money to. The days of the best 5 year rate for everyone may be a thing of the past.

Currently there are lenders in Canada who charge slightly higher rates and make allowances for damaged credit, short self-employment tenure or other issues a borrower may be facing. Though these companies have nowhere near the loose lending guidelines in the U.S. which led to the melt down, the government would like all lenders in Canada to abide by the same guidelines and looking at ways to bring this into reality.
We will have to wait and see if these or other changes are actually implemented. It is fair to say that until the government is satisfied the housing sector no longer poses a threat to the economy, it will remain at risk of further changes. Long story short, if you are considering purchasing then you may want to proceed sooner rather than later. Rates have risen recently and there is uncertainty over the future of mortgages. Call a well-qualified Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today for assistance.

By Pam Pikkert