29 Jun

SETTING UP YOUR HELOC

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A HELOC, or, Home Equity Line of Credit, can be one of the greatest gifts you give yourself. Borrowing money against your home as you accumulate equity through a shrinking mortgage or an increasing property value- something almost many people in the Vancouver and Toronto markets can relate to.

With all this increasing value and home appreciation, people are looking to cash in and utilize this new-found money. Unfortunately, one of the first things people think to do is sell! This can be counter-intuitive because you may of just sold your house for $150,000 more than what you bought it for last year, but you are now stuck buying a house that has gone up $100,000, $150,000, possibly $200,000 in the same amount of time.

So what can you do?

Open up a HELOC. You can do this separately through a second lender, move your mortgage over to one of the big banks like Scotia and enter a STEP, or utilize Manulife’s new Manulife One mortgage product. As you pay down your mortgage and accumulate equity in your home, you unlock the ability to spend money on a line of credit that is secured against that same equity you have built up in your home.

Let’s say you bought a pre-sale condo for $225,000. Two-years later it is worth $375,000. If you have that mortgage set-up with a HELOC component, you could potentially have $100,000 available to you on a line of credit if you qualify. What could you do with $100,000 where you are making interest only payments? Buy a rental property that breaks even or better yet has positive cash flow. You can build equity in a second home while someone else pays the mortgage through rent.

Don’t want to buy an investment property? Maybe you want to invest in stocks or funds where the expected return is more than the interest you are paying? Maybe you need to do renovations? Planning a wedding? Travelling? The list goes on.

Setting up a HELOC for yourself can open up many doors, all without having to give up your property and pigeon hole yourself into over-paying for someone else’s! Call a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional today to see if you qualify for a Home Equity Line of Credit.

By Ryan Oake

28 Jun

TOP 5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING YOUR NEW HOME

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Building a new home – It’s something that many couples dream of. It can be an exciting, stressful, joyful, crazy time period that many walk away from saying “never again” or “bring on the next one!” We scoured the internet and sorted through our own experiences to bring you the Top 5 things to consider when you are building a new home.

1) It’s All In The Numbers

Just like house-shopping, building a home from the ground up requires you to know what you can afford. Most house plans offer a cost to build tool (usually for a nominal fee) to give you an accurate estimate of construction costs based on where you’re building. The numbers include the costs of construction, tax benefits, funds for the down payment and slush account, and other related calculations.

Once you have determined what you can and are willing to spend, meet with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker to discuss how much you wish to borrow for your home.

Renovations and the actual building portion aside, we often are asked on what a mortgage looks like for an unbuilt home. This is where a “construction” mortgage comes into play. The budget you give your broker should include your hard and soft costs as well as the reserve of money you plan to have set aside in case you run into unexpected events.

It’s this initial budget that a lender will determine how much you qualify for.

For example, based on the lender loaning up to 75% of the total cost (with 25% down):

Land purchase price (as is) Total soft and hard costs Total Cost (as complete)

$200,000

$400,000

$600,000 x 75% = $450,000 available to loan

Keep in mind, the lender will also consider the appraised value of the finished product. In this example, the completed appraised value of the home would have to be at least $600,000 to qualify for the amount available to loan. The appraised value is determined before the project begins.

As well, the client will have to come up with the initial $150,000 to be able to finance the total cost of $600,000. A down payment of $150,000 plus the loan amount of $450,000 = the total cost of $600,000.

2) Choose a Reputable Builder

Builders are a dime a dozen, but not all of them are qualified or will be the right one for your project. Careful research is needed when determining who will be the head contractor of your home-building project. Alternatively, one of the best ways to find your perfect contractor is by asking friends and family who have gone through the process. Another great source is your mortgage broker! They often have many industry connections to some of the most qualified contractors and builders. Ask them if they know of anyone—we can almost guarantee they can will have at least one or more referrals for you.

3) Build a Home for Tomorrow

It can be tempting to personalize your home to the tenth degree—after all you are building it to meet your unique, customized wants and needs. However, keep resale value and practicality at the back of your mind at all times. Life can often throw a few curve balls that lead to you-for one reason or another-having to place the home for sale. If that time should ever come, you want to be able to appeal to all buyers easily and not have to hold the house longer than necessary. Ask yourself if the features you are putting into your home will appeal to others and if the features suit the neighborhood you are building in as well.

4) Go Green!

Now more than ever before energy efficient upgrades are easy to add to your home. When you are in the design stages, selecting energy efficient appliances, windows, HVAC systems, and more can save you money in the long run and may also make you eligible for certain grants and discounts. For example, the CMHC green building program rewards those who select energy efficient and environment friendly options.

5) Understand the Loan

As a final note, once construction is done it’s crucial to understand how a Construction Mortgage Loan repayment works. To make it easier, we have a list of points that you should know:

Construction loans are usually fully opened and can be repaid at any time.
Interest is charged only on amounts drawn. There are no “unused funds.”
Once construction is complete and project completion has been verified by the lender, the construction mortgage is “moved over” to a normal mortgage.
A lender will always take into consideration the marketability of a property. They will look at
not only the location based on demographic but also the location based on geography. For instance, a lot that is in a secluded area where no sales of lots have occurred in the last five years and mostly consisting of rock face may not be a property that they are willing to lend on.

Depending on the lender, you may have a time frame within which you need to complete construction (typically between 6 and 12 months).
There are a lot of things to consider when you build a home but a few things that can keep you on track and on budget are to have a solid plan in place, work with a builder you trust, build a strong team around you that can be there from start to finish, and to do your research. Once you have decided to build, call your DLC agent—they can help you get the ball rolling and can guide you to the first step of breaking ground on your new home.

By Geoff Lee

27 Jun

4 SMART FEATURES THAT WILL BOOST THE VALUE OF YOUR PROPERTY

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People have a lot of different ideas on how they want their home to look. Some want a modern look while others like traditional cottages. But one thing that more and more people want is smart technology in their homes. This adds value and desirability to your home making it easier to sell for the asking price.

In a recent survey, 35% of first time home buyers put smart technology as a priority in their home purchase.
What is a smart home? A smart home is a residence that uses internet-connected devices to enable the remote monitoring and management of appliances and systems, such as lighting and heating.

Smart thermostat – Is a thermostat that can be controlled remotely by your smart phone and will eventually learn your heating and cooling patterns. You can turn up the A/C in the summer from your office and the house will be cool by the time you get home. These features are convenient but they also help you save money on home heating and cooling costs.

Connected Lights – allow you to turn on or dim lights at different times of the day. Combined with a Smart thermostat they can help you to save half your average energy costs.

Smart Locks – these are really cool ! You can program your front door to unlock when guests arrive using Bluetooth or WiFi or some smart phones.

Wireless Security – We have all seen photos of burglars stealing packages from the front door of a home , or perhaps you have seen the TV ad of the lady at the spa who can see 2 unsavory looking guys at her front door and speaking to them and scaring them off. You may have seen the YouTube video of a house that caught fire in Ft. MacMurray and the firefighters extinguishing the blaze. The home owners were able to watch this from a hotel room in Edmonton. Check with your insurance company, you may qualify for a large discount in your rates by having this home security.

Finally, not only is your home more desirable and comfortable, but this is achievable in both new and existing homes. Speak to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker about having these additions to your home added to your mortgage either with a Purchase/Refinance Plus Improvements or a HELOC. They can advise you on the best options for your particular needs.

By David Cooke

26 Jun

REVERSE MORTGAGE – SOME COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS

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The words reverse mortgage carry some negative connotation. What does it really mean? What makes reverse mortgage different than a regular or demand mortgage in Canada? There are no payments required if 1 applicant lives in the home. Payments can be made if they wish, they are truly optional.

No medical required and limited income and credit requirements.
Clients can receive up to 55% of the value of their home in tax free cash, depending primarily on their age, property type as well as location.

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS & OBJECTIONS:

I heard they were restrictive and bad for seniors.

Much of the negative press around reverse mortgages originated out of the U.S. The rates, fees, and restrictions are quite different from what is offered in Canada. The reverse mortgage providers in Canada follow the same chartered bank rules as other major lenders.

The bank will own my house.

This is only a mortgage; the title and deed remain in the client’s name. The owner will not be asked to move, sell, or make payments for as long as at least 1 applicant lives in the property.

I’ll lose all my equity.

The maximum the lender can finance is 55% of the value of the home. The average advance is more like 35% of the value, leaving ample equity to fall back on. If the real estate market increases at an average of about 2% to 2.5% per year over time, clients will find their home value increasing just as much over time as the balance owed.

The costs are too high.

The closing costs are the same as a regular mortgage, approximately $1,800, includes the appraisal and lawyer fee.

A line of credit is better and cheaper.

A line of credit is a great solution for someone with good credit, cash flow and most importantly someone with a regular income.

I paid off my mortgage, I don’t want more debt.

Leveraging money from your home is not debt. It’s the equity accrued over the duration of ownership. Only the interest is debt.

Why are the rates higher than a regular mortgage?

Other lenders can lend out money at lower costs. This is because they have other services to sell the client to help recoup their cost. The regular mortgages also require a regular repayment frequency; thus, the lender is constantly receiving funds back to re-lend.

I heard they have high penalties and you can’t get out very easily.

This is well suited for seniors looking to keep the reverse mortgage in place for 3 or more years. There might be other solutions for a timeline that is shorter. Penalties are always waived upon death of the last homeowner. Penalties are reduced by 50% if selling and moving into a care facility.

I don’t need money very much so it’s not worth it.

The newest program offered is called Income Advantage. It allows clients to access money on their own timeline, when they need it or a pre-determined auto-advance. Borrower only pays on the amount advanced. The minimum advance required is $25,000.

If you’d like to talk to see if a reverse mortgage is a good fit for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

By Michael Hallett

25 Jun

WHAT IS A “MONOLINE” LENDER?

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What usually follows once someone hears the term “Monoline Lender” for the first time is a feeling of suspicion and lack of trust. It’s understandable, I mean why is this “bank” you’ve never heard of willing to loan you money when you’ve never banked with them before?

In an effort to help you see the benefits of working with a Monoline Lender, here is some basic information that will help you understand why you’ve never heard of them, why you want to, and the reason they are referred to as lenders, not banks.

Monoline Lenders only operate in the mortgage space. They do not offer chequing or savings accounts, nor do they offer investments through RRSPs, GICs, or Tax-Free Savings Accounts. They are called Monoline because they have one line of business- mortgages.

This also plays into the reasons you never see their name or locations anywhere. There is no need for them to market on bus stop benches or billboards as they are only accessible through mortgage brokers, making their need to market to you unnecessary. The branch locations are also unnecessary because you do not have day-to-day banking, savings accounts, investment accounts, or credit cards through them. All your banking stays the exact same, with the only difference of a pre-authorized payments coming from your account for the monthly mortgage payment. Any questions or concerns, they have a phone number and communicate documents through e-mail.

Would it help Monoline Lenders to advertise and create brand awareness with the public? Absolutely. Is it necessary for them to remain in business? No.

Monoline Lenders also have some of the lowest interest rates on the market, the most attractive pre-payment privileges, and the lowest pre-payment penalties, especially when compared to a bigger bank like CIBC or RBC. If you don’t think these points are important, ask someone whose had a mortgage with one of these bigger banks and sold their property before their term was up and paid upwards of $12,000 in penalty fees. An equivalent amount with a Monoline Lender would be anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 in fees.

Monoline Lenders are not to be feared, they should be welcomed, as they are some of the most accommodating and client service-oriented lenders around! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

By Ryan Oake

22 Jun

IS YOUR LINE OF CREDIT KILLING YOUR MORTGAGE APPLICATION?

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Some of the last round of changes from the government regarding qualifying for a mortgage were that if you have a balance on your unsecured line of credit, then to qualify for mortgage the lenders require that we use a 3% payment of the balance of the line of credit.

Simple math is, if you owe $10,000 we have to use $300 as your monthly payment regardless of what the bank requires as a minimum. Given that the banks hand out lines of credit on a regular basis it is not uncommon for us to see $50,000 lines of credit with balances in the $40,000 range. That amount then means we have to use $1,200 a month as a payment even though the bank may require considerably less.

So what if it is a secured line of credit? Again we have clients telling us that they don’t have a mortgage only to realize they do have a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). A home equity line of credit by all definition is a loan secured by property, the actual definition of a mortgage.

Again, it’s something the bank will require little more than interest payment on because it is secured. The calculation here can also upset the calculation for your next mortgage, as what is required by many lenders is to take the balance of the HELOC. Let’s say the balance is $200,000 and you convert it to a mortgage at the bench mark rate, which today is 5.34% with a 25-year amortization. That without any fees today is equal to $1202.22 per month, so what in the client’s mind may be a $400 or $500 dollar interest payment for the purpose of qualifying will be almost three times higher.

This one change to supposedly safe guard the Canadian consumer has lately been the thing we have seen stop more mortgages than just about anything else. If you have any question, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional for answers.

Len Lane

21 Jun

5 TIPS ON HOW TO GET OUT OF DEBT AND INTO YOUR OWN HOME

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To get out of debt, you need a plan and you need to execute that plan. That’s why I’ve created this simple, five-step, get-out-of-debt checklist that can help you leave that financial burden behind you.

As you work on your plan, you’ll need to make all necessary adjustments to your budget along the way so you don’t overspend and slide back into debt. Plus, if you don’t have an emergency fund, consider setting some money aside in savings beforehand.

Keep this checklist someplace where you’ll see it often (like your refrigerator door ), and make it your goal to check a task off the list each day (or each week), depending on how quickly you want to become debt-free.

1- Make a list
Take all your bills and put them in a chart that includes: the name of creditor, interest rate, balance, minimum monthly payment. Figure out how long it will take you to pay the balance down to zero. Many credit card statements now feature this.

2. Lower your rates
This is easier than you think. Call up each of your credit card companies starting with the ones with the highest interest rates and ASK them to lower your interest rate. You can tell them that other credit cards are offering lower rates and you wanted to let them keep your business. They won’t give you an answer on the phone but you should receive a letter with a new lower rate within a couple of weeks. Another possible solution is a balance transfer. Often a credit card company will allow you to transfer your balance from another card to theirs and they charge you 0% for 6 months. They assume that you will see zero being added and will spend more. Show them that you are disciplined and keep paying the balance down as if it was still at 19%. Consider getting a debt consolidation loan. If you have a home with equity you can often get a very good rate and clear up all your debts. Often you can get these loans at considerably less than your credit cards. Once again, keep your monthly payments up as if you were still paying a credit card of 19% interest and your balance will go down quickly.
Next contact your car loan company. If you have been paying your loan on time they may lower your rates. Now you are ready to tackle the utility companies. In Alberta the gas/electric companies really want your business. You can often get a better rate just by threatening to switch. This also works with cellphone companies. They often have better plans than the one you are on but will only offer it when you say you are going to leave.

3. Get your Number
What is the amount you need to pay off all your debts? Now that you have a number in mind you can set a goal. Can you pay this off in six months? 12 months? two years?
Get your credit score number. How much does it have to improve before you can qualify to buy a house? Check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker for help getting this.

4. Make a plan
What will be your target debt? Is it the credit card balance with the highest interest rate? The lowest balance? Set a short term goal to pay one card off in a manageable amount of time. One down and three to go sounds better than tackling all the debt at once. Pay each debt off one by one. Does your community library offer debt counselling financing planning courses? Consider signing up for one.

5 – Monitor your progress
How quickly are the debts coming down? Is your credit score going up? It should if the debts are coming down.
Do you have to adjust your plan to make your deadlines? Don’t be discouraged. Large companies make plans and set budgets and then adjust them quarterly based on how the previous three months performance was.
Stick with your plan and if you show some self-discipline you can achieve your goals in time. Finally, tell your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker what your goal is and what your timeline is. They will be happy to help you along the way. Nothing makes them happier than to tell people like you that they are approved for home financing.

By David Cooke

20 Jun

THE RIGHT KIND OF DEBT

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Put yourself in a bank or lender’s shoes. Someone comes into your branch and asks you to politely loan them $300,000. You are a big bank, but $300,000 is still a lot of money. How do you ensure this person is going to pay back the money you loan them, on time, and in the right amount? Look at their record for borrowing other people’s money.

This is why taking on different kinds of debt when you are young is a good thing, but it must be within reason.

Credit Cards
Lenders want to see a minimum credit limit of $2,000 as well as the fact that you use your credit and pay it back on time. Don’t go overboard, even just purchasing your car’s monthly gasoline on your credit card and paying it off when your statement comes out should be enough, and the longer you do this, the better.

Car Loan
Banks love giving loans through car dealerships to first time borrowers. Why? Because if they treat you right, guess who you are going to go to when you are ready to ask for a mortgage loan. Getting an auto loan for a reasonable amount will truly help showcase your ability to a lender. Just try and make sure any car loans are completely paid off before applying for a mortgage!

Lines of Credit
Almost like leveling up from a credit card. You will get a much bigger credit limit, and have a much lower interest rate. Plus, the minimum payments are usually interest only, making it easier to manage. Using this to make a bigger purchase and making monthly payments can show your ability to manage debt.

I bet you’d feel a lot more comfortable loaning someone $300,000 if they have successfully managed debt on all three of these levels, rather than someone who came to you with only a chequing account to their name. If you have any questions, a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

By Ryan Oake

19 Jun

7 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DECIDE IF YOU SHOULD PURSUE A HELOC, REFINANCE OR SECOND MORTGAGE

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HELOC, Refinance or Second/Third Mortgages? Which one should you choose to go with? If you have decided to tap into the equity in your home, the three can seem to be interchangeable at times and for many consumers can be a difficult decision on which one to select. We have laid out seven questions to guide you through the decision, for your unique situation. We’ve also broken this down into three categories, Equity, Payment and Availability.

PAYMENT

1. HOW WILL I RECEIVE THE MONEY?
• HELOC: Home Equity Line of Credit-withdraw as needed
• Refinance: Lump Sum
• Private Second/Third Mortgages: Lump Sum

2. WHAT IS THE INTEREST RATE?
• HELOC: Prime Rate + premium 0.5%-1.5%
• Refinance: Best fixed or variable rate (dependent on what you and your broker decide)
• Private Second/Third Mortgages: 6.95%-19.95% typically with lender/broker fees

HOW IS THE INTEREST CALCULATED?
• HELOC: interest accrues on what you withdraw from your home’s equity.
• Refinance: interest accrues on the full loan amount that was taken out.
• Private Second/Third Mortgages: interest accrues on the full loan amount that was taken out.

3. WHAT IS MY PAYMENT?
• HELOC: You pay back the interest only, however, most banks will have a minimum rule so even if your HELOC value is $0 you will still have to pay a nominal fee each month.
• Refinance: You will pay the interest, plus the principle principal loan amount.
• Private Second/Third Mortgages: You can pay interest only payment or pay the interest plus the principle principal loan amount.

EQUITY

4. HOW MUCH EQUITY DO I NEED TO HAVE IN MY HOME IN ORDER TO ACCESS IT?
• HELOC: 20% minimum
• Refinance: 20% minimum
• Private Second/Third Mortgages: 5-10% minimum

5. HOW MUCH EQUITY CAN ACCESS?
• HELOC: You can access up to 80%
• Refinance: 80% of your home’s equity is accessible
o HELOC portion can be up to 65% of your home’s equity
o Mortgage portion must be 15% – as per Bank of Canada guidelines
• Private Second/Third Mortgages: 1st mortgage + 2nd/3rd mortgages up to 95% of home value

AVAILABILITY

6. ARE THERE FEES ASSOCIATED WITH IT?
• HELOC: No fees associated with it
o At times
 Appraisal fees
 Legal fees
• Refinance: Prepayment penalty of Interest Rate Differential or 3 months interest* depends on your current mortgage terms.
o At times
 Appraisal fees
 Legal fees
• Second/Third Mortgage: There are several fees associated with a second mortgage including:
• Appraisal fees
• Legal fees
• Lenders fees
• Broker Fees

***One final note on refinancing: With the new stress-testing you will have to qualify at a higher rate and you will also have to consider that lenders can no longer insure the product… meaning there are many different rates with different lenders.

Once you answer each of these questions and review your options, you can decide which one is best suited for your needs. You can also always call a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker and discuss it. DLC brokers are well versed in each of these options and can direct you towards the best option for your situation. We’ve seen a variety of situations with our clients and have helped each of them reach their goals.

By Geoff Lee

18 Jun

DEBT SERVICE ABILITY. A RENEWED LENDER FOCUS

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Debt Service Ability. A renewed lender focus it seems. As interest rates firm, valuations are impacted, and cap rates begin to firm. What about Debt Service Ability? It is becoming more apparent that property income, and more specifically net operating income available to service debt, has a significant and growing influence on the amount of debt available to a commercial property owner. This is increasingly evident with lender attitudes as well. Cash is King to your commercial lender, notwithstanding the relative amount of leverage on your asset.

What’s the Norm?
Loan amounts equivalent to 75% of property value or purchase price, while perhaps never the “norm” were certainly prevalent, and not at all unusual. It would appear that institutional lenders are signifying their reluctance to “reach” for loans. They are now more frequently capping their maximum exposure to 65% to 70% of property value or purchase price. The ability of the property to comfortably service the debt is of paramount importance.

Why the shifting focus?
Are there other factors at play here? Yes, Canadian lenders regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions are mandated to stress test their loans to individuals for personal mortgages. While not directly impacting commercial mortgage underwriting, institutional lenders, particularly those regulated federally, are working within a regime of increased oversight. There is a focus on both the quantum of, and absolute rates associated with consumer debt. It is perhaps no surprise that commercial lending is undergoing more focused attention as well.

Commercial lenders are also employing stress testing as an underwriting “best practice”. This stress testing can take many forms, ranging from determining the “break even” interest rate at time of loan approval (the increased rate levels which will still yield positive debt service coverage), to forecasting debt service coverage at loan maturity, at a rate higher than the contractual interest rate.

More generally, we have been operating in an extended period of low rates. Low single digit 5 year commercial mortgage rates have been with us for such a lengthy period now, that LTV considerations were often not of a significant concern from a loan underwriting perspective. This is now changing, with a renewed focus on the sufficiency of property cash flow.

What are the implications?
Mortgage lenders will be increasingly focused on debt service coverage in their underwriting processes. Borrowers should be aware that increased equity, or secondary debt may be required to secure real estate assets. The focus for income property owners has to be on maximizing Net Operating Income.

Understanding your property’s income generating capabilities, and maximizing every opportunity to grow and stabilize cash flow, will be your key to financing success in today’s increased interest rate environment.

By Allan Jensen