There’s something magical about summer and no matter where you live in Canada, backyard BBQ season is the perfect opportunity to spend a little time with family and friends. Nothing says party vibes more than food on the grill and summer drinks flowing. Whether you live in a country house, a suburban townhome or a city condo, gather your crew and these few essentials:
- Good Eats: To have the most success with your backyard party, you must pre-plan! Take a few hours the night before and meal prep. This includes planning an easy menu with bite size snacks, easy salads and flavour packed options to keep your guests satisfied. And don’t forget to make sure the barbecue has plenty of propane!
- Cold Drinks: Depending on your guests, you can either have a cooler full of pop and water. If it is a more adult affair, add a little alcohol to the mix! Boozy lemonades or spiked ice teas are pretty easy to make and very fun to drink. Craft beer, ciders or chilled white wine are other fun options for a hot day!
- Did Someone Say Desert? If you’re planning an all-day affair, you might want to keep some quick and easy desserts or snacks on hand for the evening. Homemade ice cream bars, fruit kabobs or a veggie platter, or even a couple bags of kettle chips can make great options for any peckish guests. And as the sun sets, you can break out the marshmallows and get your S’mores on in front of the fire!
- Decor & Ambiance: For suburban hosts, your backyard party would include a sitting area, maybe umbrellas to offer some shady spots and some water fun! But, if you find yourself in smaller city digs, that doesn’t mean your party still can’t be one for the ages. Consider throw pillows, paper patio lanterns and plastic glassware which are all affordable and easy to find to help create that perfect party space!
- Choosing Your Tunes: While music can set the ambiance, you need to know your guests. It’s not easy to pick a playlist that will appease all ears, but streaming services like Spotify and Apple iTunes have plenty of mixed playlists that should do the trick.
- Entertainment: Backyard games such as a bocce ball set, Frisbee and even a football can keep the fun and competition going for hours! If you’re looking for a more chill hang, consider setting up a card table or some board games for those who want to partake.
- For the Kids: If your party involves kids, you’ll want to keep the food simple and easy to eat with hands, so burgers, hot dogs, chips and some watermelon are the way to go. You’ll also want to keep them occupied with simple games or more active options such as a soccer ball, mini trampoline or a sprinkler to run through and keep them cool. When daylight starts to fade, you can set up a backyard movie or camp-out with some tents to settle the night down. It never hurts to tire the young ones out so the grownups can have some chill time for themselves!
- Other Considerations: Depending on the temperature and time of day for your party, you might want to remind guests to bring sunscreen, hats and/or bug spray to make sure their visit is as comfortable as possible!
When conventional lenders (such as banks or credit unions) deny mortgage financing, it can be easy to feel discouraged. However, it is important to remember that there is always an alternative!
If you’re seeking a mortgage, but your credit score is damaged in some way and big institutions won’t lend you the money, you’ll find yourself in what’s commonly referred to in the industry as the “Alternative-A” or “B” lending space.
Much like the A Lender space (big banks, credit unions, etc.), there are various companies which operate in the B lending space. Alternative lenders cater to individuals who lack a strong credit history, or a guaranteed income (recent immigrants, or the self employed, for instance). As a result, these lenders generally have lower entry qualifications, which are offset by higher interest rates.
Why is alternative lending necessary?
- CRA arrears
- Income issues such as non-traditional income as with self-employed borrowers
- Credit issues such as low credit score, credit arrears, current mortgage or even bankruptcies
- Unexpected liens on title
- Foreclosure situations
- Unique financing needs/opportunities
Beyond B-lenders are another alternative, which are known as Private or Unregulated lenders. These could just be individuals with money who are looking to invest. They are not regulated by any agency, and their rates and fees could be quite high.
These lenders are not required to stress test mortgage applicants, but many will abide by lower qualification rates. As a result, getting approved for a loan through an alternative or uninsured lender can be much easier than going through a traditional bank or credit union. Again, it is vital to pay close attention to the deal an unregulated lender offers. Lower qualification rates tend to come with baggage in the form of high interest rates or penalties.
Considerations for Alternative Mortgages Due to the “B” Lender space, it is important to take a good look at the conditions for these mortgage products to ensure that you won’t get trapped with rates you can’t afford.
Before considering an alternative mortgage, there are a few things you should ask yourself:
- What issue is keeping me from qualifying for a mortgage today?
- How long will it take me to correct this issue and qualify for a mortgage?
- How much do I currently have available as a down payment?
- Am I willing to wait until I can qualify for a regular mortgage, or do I want/need to get into a certain home today?
If you are someone who is ready to go ahead with an alternative mortgage due to a bruised credit score, or you don’t want to wait until you’re able to qualify with a traditional lender, these are five questions you should ask when reviewing any alternative mortgage product:
- How high is the interest rate?
- What is the penalty for missed mortgage payments? How are they calculated? What is the cost to get out of the mortgage altogether?
- Is there a prepayment privilege? For example, are you able to avoid penalties if you give the lender a higher mortgage payment once a month?
- What is the cost of each monthly mortgage payment?
- What does it look like when it comes to renewal?
When it comes to the alternative lending space, things can get a bit murky. If you are struggling to obtain an A-Lender mortgage, I would be happy to discuss your options with you and help you source an alternative.
You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need to be one of the uber rich or make six figures to have a second property. You just need to have knowledge, determination and financial planning!
If you are purchasing a secondary property with the intention to rent, here are a few extra things to know:
- The minimum down payment required is 20% of the purchase price, and the funds must come from your own savings; you cannot use a gift from someone else.
- Only a portion of the rental income can be used for qualifying and determining how much you can afford to borrow. Some lenders will only allow you to use 50% of the income added to yours, while other lenders may allow up to 80% of the rental income while subtracting your expenses. This can have a much higher impact on how much you can afford.
- Interest rates typically have a premium on them when the mortgage is for a rental property versus a mortgage for a home someone intends on living in. The premium can be anywhere from 0.10% to 0.20% on a regular 5-year fixed rate.
- If you do eventually want to sell this property, do note that it will be subject to capital gains tax. Your accountant will be able to help you with that aspect if you do decide to sell in the future.
Prior to taking on a secondary property, you will need to have your down payment in order (whether from savings or home equity) based on the minimum requirements, and also have sufficient credit score to qualify. In addition to the down payment, you will also need to pass the stress-test and prove that you can financially carry your existing mortgage and the new application.
If you are looking to purchase a rental property, give me a call before you start. I would love to help review your financial situation, current mortgage and equity, and help you make a plan. The keys to success are right around the corner with a little bit of expert advice!
With summer underway, it might be time to consider a backyard upgrade! These don’t have to be luxurious or expensive, but a couple tweaks can give your yard a facelift and make your outdoor space feel brand new! Check out my backyard renovation ideas below:
- Reviving Your Deck: You don’t necessarily have to tear it down and start over to have a fresh deck. Chances are the structure is in good shape. A remodel job featuring new decking, rails and stairs can save a ton of money over a full rebuild.
- Creating a Peaceful Area: If you enjoy spending time in your yard or on your deck, but are finding that nosey neighbours, traffic noise or barking dogs are impacting your serenity, don’t fret! A privacy fence is a great option to replace sections of your existing railing and make your deck more private, quiet and comfortable!
- Watch Your Step! Another great way to give your backyard a quick makeover is to add a practical walk path. Gravel is the easiest to handle and the least expensive option. While it looks less formal than brick or stone, it can be complemented with a stone or flower border for that extra appeal.
- Did Someone Say Water Feature?! If you have space in your yard for a unique water feature, such as a fountain, pool, artificial waterfall – or even a cute pond! – this can make your space feel that much more magical.
- Set the Mood: When it comes to setting the mood for your backyard space, proper lighting can go a long way. From string lights to lanterns or path lighting, the options are endless (and affordable!) allowing you to create the perfect summer escape.
As a first-time buyer, I am here to give you some tips on homebuyer mistakes to be on the lookout for so you can avoid them for the best experience possible!
Thinking You Don’t Need a Real Estate Agent
You might be able to find a house on your own, but there are still many aspects of buying real estate that can confuse a first-time buyer. Rely on your agent to negotiate offers, inspections, financing and other details. The money you would have saved on commission can be quickly gobbled up by a botched offer or overlooked repairs.
Going With The First Real Estate Agent You Find
As much as not having a real estate agent can be a disadvantage, having the wrong one can also make the process more difficult. You don’t want to get halfway into house-hunting before realizing your real estate agent is wrong for you. Ideally, you want to source an agent from a friend or family referral. However, if you are stuck or looking for more options, I would also be happy to provide some referrals as your mortgage professional.
Getting Your Heart Set on a Home Without Doing Your Homework
The house that’s love at first sight may not always be what it seems, so it is important to keep an open mind. If you jump in too fast you may be too quick to go over budget or you might overlook a potential pitfall. Taking the time for proper inspections, budget comparisons and long-term family planning can go a long way in ensuring your first home is the right home!
Committing to More Than You Can Afford
This is one of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers can run into, but to ensure your future financial security it is imperative to truly consider your budget. You don’t want to sacrifice retirement savings, an emergency fund or potential holiday for mortgage payments. You need to stay nimble to life’s changes and overextending yourself could put your investments—including your house—on the line.
Fixating on the Lowest Interest Rate
A reasonable interest rate is important, but not at the expense of heavy restrictions and penalties. Make a solid long-term plan to pay off your mortgage and then find one that’s flexible enough to accommodate life changes, both planned and unexpected. I would be happy to discuss all of your mortgage options with you to ensure that you get the best overall mortgage product with an affordable rate that suits YOU!
Choosing a Fixer-Upper Simply for the Cheaper Listing Price
That old character home may have loads of potential, but it is vital to be extra diligent during the inspection period. What will it really cost to get your home to where it needs to be? Negotiating a long due-diligence period will give you time to get estimates from contractors in case you need to back out.
Diving Into Renovations as Soon as You Buy
Whether or not you choose a fixer-upper or simply want to update some things in your new home, it is important not to rush into them. While renovations may increase the value of your home, overextending your credit to get upgrades done fast doesn’t always pay off. Take time to make a solid plan and the best financial decisions. Living in your home for a while before renovating will also help you plan the best functional changes to the layout.
Not Researching the Neighbourhood
It may be the house of your dreams, but annoying neighbours or a nearby industrial zone can be a rude awakening. Spend some time in the area before you make an offer and talk to local business owners and residents to determine the pros and cons of living there.
Opting Out of Mortgage Insurance
Your home is your largest investment and it is imperative that you protect it. Mortgage insurance not only buys you peace of mind, it also allows for more flexible financing options. Plus, it allows you to take advantage of available equity to pay down debts or make financial investments. If you are ready to search for your first home, don’t hesitate to reach out to me today for expert advice, referrals and mortgage solutions that are right for you!
As you may have heard, the Bank of Canada recently changed the stress test rules as of June 1, 2021. With these changes, now both insured and uninsured mortgage borrowers will be subject to a stricter stress test when qualifying for their mortgage.
The new qualifying rate on uninsured mortgages – where the down payment is 20% or more – is now the contracted rate plus two percentage points or 5.25%, whichever is higher.
This means that any buyer whose down payment on a home is one-fifth of the purchase price or higher must show they can afford the mortgage payments if the interest rate was two percentage points higher than what the bank is offering, or the new five-year benchmark rate per the Bank of Canada.
Overall, the implementation of these tougher stress test rules will reduce buying power by roughly 4-5% for borrowers. To help illustrate how this change affects you, consider the following scenario with $100,000 gross income:
The previous stress test at 4.79% would give this individual the ability to borrow $469,530 (based on good credit score with max GDS/TDS qualifications at 39/44%). Now, with the current scenario of 5.25% stress test rate, the they can now only borrow $448,880 (based on good credit score with max GDS/TDS at 39/44%). This is a difference of $20,650 which reduces your home options.
To ensure you are searching in the right price range and budgeting accordingly, it is important to consider this stress test change. If you are looking to purchase your first home or move, please don’t hesitate to contact me today for a better understanding of the rules and what you qualify for.
It’s the season of outdoor parties and a summer BBQ is the perfect way to enjoy time with friends and family! For some tips on how to make this year’s BBQ your best one yet, check out my list below:
- Set the Mood: String up fairy lights, plug in a radio with some of your favourite tunes in the background, put out a lawn rug and throw a fresh table cloth over your outdoor dining area. A few quick items can really spruce up the yard and make it feel ready for guests!
- Put Out Snacks: This may seem like a no brainer, but having a table filled with fun ‘grazing’ snacks can help stave off any stress about perfectly grilling your meals! Try a veggie and dip tray, fruit shish kabobs or cured meats and cheeses.
- Have Drinks on Hand: Set up a table with pitchers of fun summer drink concoctions (alcohol optional!) or consider filling a kiddie pool or wheelbarrow with ice to keep those beers chilled all afternoon.
- Choose Your Mains: It can be easy to get carried away grilling steaks, fish, chicken, hot dogs, burgers – you name it! For a more successful party, choose two options. Maybe you go with hot dogs and veggie burgers, or perhaps fish and chicken. Choose items that cook well on the BBQ together and suit the tone of your get-together.
- Don’t Forget to Play! If you’re hosting an adult-only BBQ, setting up a table for a card game can be a great way to pass the time and get in some laughs. If you have children in attendance, consider setting up a lemonade stand or fill up some water balloons for an extra splash!