9 Jun

Summer Backyard Reno Ideas

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

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:

  1. Revive 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.
  2. Generate Your Own Zen Space: 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!
  3. Relax with Water Sounds: 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Create Your Perfect Pathway: 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.
9 Jun

Thinking of Moving? Tips for Selling in Today’s Market

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

The housing market continues to favor sellers as we move into the summer months. If you’re thinking of selling, this is a great time to do so! Not only will your home likely be listed on the market for a shorter period of time, but most sellers are currently receiving multiple offers on their sale. This is due to the increasingly high demand for housing with limited homes currently available on the market.

However, even in a seller’s market, there are some things you can do to help improve your chances of selling your home and getting the best offer! Here are some tips for selling your home in a seller’s market:

List Your Home on a Friday

Depending on the location, Friday is typically the best day of the week to put your home up for sale. Most individuals have weekends free or can take Friday’s off early should they be interested in a home for sale! Be sure to include multiple photos of the home in your listing, or even a virtual tour video if possible, to get your listing off on the right foot.

Offer Limiting Showings

Another good strategy for maximizing your offers in a seller’s market is to limit your showings. Restricting the hours and days that you show your home will allow you to have multiple buyers touring at the same time, which tends to create quiet competition as the buyers know other individuals are interested.

Lower the Sale Price

While not always necessary, lowering the sale price can make your home even more attractive to potential buyers. If you get multiple buyers interested, it will leave some wiggle room for buyers to bid over the asking price.

Make the Most of a Bidding War

If you do end up with a bidding war on your home, you will want to make the most of it. Firstly, always inform buyers of the competition and encourage stronger offers. Secondly, respond to one offer with a counteroffer and set the others aside until you get a response. Thirdly, accept the best offer.

However! Keep in mind that the highest offer might not always be the best one. Some things to keep an eye out for that are conducive of a ‘strong’ offer include: a cash offer, a large down payment, few to no conditions and a flexible moving date.

If you’re looking to sell this year, make sure you utilize a top realtor who can help you navigate the current market settings so that you get the most out of your home! And don’t forget to reach out to your mortgage professional for all the information around moving and how that affects your mortgage.

9 Jun

New to Canada?

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

Canada has seen a surge of international migration over the last few years. With all these new faces in town wanting to plant roots in this great country, it’s a good time to review some of the details surrounding mortgages and how individuals new to Canada can qualify to be homeowners.

Check out some details below on how to get your first mortgage in Canada!

If you are already a Permanent Resident or have received confirmation of Permanent Resident Status, you are eligible for a typical mortgage with a 5% down payment – assuming you have good credit.

If you have limited credit, or have not yet qualified for Permanent Residency, there are still options! In fact, there are several ‘New to Canada’ mortgage programs through CMHC, Sagen™ and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance. Please note, for these programs you will typically require a valid work permit is valid up to 3 months post-purchase date.

To qualify for these New to Canada programs, you must have immigrated or relocated to Canada within the last 60 months and have had three months minimum full-time employment in Canada.

  • For 90% credit, a letter of reference from a recognized financial institution OR six (6) months of bank statements from a primary account will be required.
  • If you are seeking credit of 90.01% to 95% you need an international credit report (i.e: Equifax) demonstrating a strong credit profile OR two alternative sources of credit (i.e.: hydro/utilities, telephone, cable, cell phone or auto insurance) demonstrating timely payments (no arrears) for the past 12 months

Depending on your residency status and credit history, another option are alternative or private lenders as well who can fund your mortgage.

If you are unsure of your options or want to make sure you get the best mortgage product possible, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As a dedicated mortgage professional, I have access to dozens of lender options, which will allow me to find you the best options. I would love to set up a virtual appointment to discuss your financial history, goals and the mortgage process.

3 May

Home Security Tips

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

Looking for some tips to improve your home security?

While there are many things you can do, the security you choose will depend on your comfort level and preferences.

Check out these ideas below to help get you started!

  • Reinforce the windows on your first floor with window stops
  • Use deadbolts instead of spring-latch locks.
  • Frost the windows on your garage to avoid wandering eyes.
  • Install motion-detector lighting outdoors to shine a light on potential intruders.
  • Keep your shrubbery short to avoid giving intruders hiding places.
  • Install security sensors in any detached buildings, like a garage or pool house.
  • Install door reinforcement hardware on any outward facing doors.
3 May

Dreaming of a Home Away From Home?

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

If you are dreaming of your very own vacation home, there are ways to make it happen! Let me walk you through your options.

When it comes to taking on a vacation property, you will need to have a minimum down payment of 5% of the purchase price. If you are purchasing a non-winterized vacation home, or will not have year-round access, then you will be required to put down 10%.

You must also have sufficient credit score to qualify if not putting 20% down. In addition to the down payment, you will also need to pass the stress-test and prove that you can financially carry the mortgage of your existing live-in home and your new vacation home.

When purchasing a vacation home or property, most lenders will allow you to borrow money against the equity you have in your current home and use it as a down payment for a second home. This is done through mortgage refinancing, which means getting a re-evaluation on your home and then redoing your mortgage based on the current value. This will allow you to tap into the equity your home has built over the years, and pull out the extra funds for a down payment on your secondary property. Keep in mind, when using some of your current equity, it will increase the principal amount and the interest payments on your mortgage as the mortgage is now refinanced at a higher amount.

Another option to unlock your home equity is through a line of credit or a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit). This option allows you to borrow money using the equity in your property, with the property as collateral. A HELOC serves as a revolving line of credit to allow the borrower to access funds, as needed, letting you utilize as much (or as little) equity as required. In Canada, you are able to borrow up to 65% of your home’s value using this method. However, keep in mind, your HELOC balance AND current outstanding mortgage cannot exceed 80% of your home’s value when added together.

If you are ready to purchase a vacation property, I would love to help review your financial situation! I would be happy to take a look at your current mortgage, equity and review your options to help you find the best fit. The keys to success are right around the corner with a little bit of expert advice.

3 May

Reverse Mortgages and What to Know

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

For many Canadians who are looking to retire but currently facing high debt load and ongoing expenses, as well as reduced income, it can be a challenge. This is where the reverse mortgage can help!

This product is also a great option for anyone wanting to assist their elderly parents.

Instead of selling the home and moving them to a care home or assisted living, a reverse mortgage is a terrific way to access the equity in the home, month by month, to pay for in-home and ongoing care costs.

The goal of the reverse mortgage is to allow Canadians over 55 years to tap into the equity of their home, which assists in comfortable financial living. With a reverse mortgage, however, borrowers are not required to make regular payments. This allows them a considerable inflow of cash, without having to pay off what they owe! The only time payment will be required is when you sell or move out of your home.

Reverse mortgages are designed to allow you to access up to 55% of your home’s equity, thereby allowing you to convert your home equity into cash. This can be done as either a one-time lump sum payment, or you can choose to structure it to receive monthly payouts. Beyond being able to cash in on your home’s equity, a reverse mortgage has additional benefits including:

  • No monthly mortgage payments
  • No income or credit qualifications
  • Very low / little paperwork required
  • Title and ownership of property remain in homeowner’s name
  • Flexible options to break term early if needed
  • Penalty waived in the event of death or care home placement to preserve the estate

If you are struggling financially, or want to have a little extra equity on hand to pay off existing debts, gift money to family, expand your quality of life or simply increase your investment portfolio, contact me today! I would be happy to discuss the possibility of a reverse mortgage in further detail with you and ensure it is the best product to suit your needs.

4 Apr

Gardening To-Do List!?

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

Calling all green thumbs and outdoor lovers, there are a few things you can do this April to get started on your garden and ensure it is looking its best for the seasons ahead! Check out my tips below.

Enjoy!

  1. Work the Soil: Start adding compost and working your soil so it is ready for planting as the weather warms up.
  2. Start Sowing: Plant hardy annuals, herbs and wild flower seed outdoors (such as annuals, biennials and perennials) for Spring and early Autumn and vegetable seeds (hardier options include onions, spinach, and lettuces).
  3. Get Other Plants Ready Indoors: If you want to get ahead of the season, you can also start planting warmer weather half-hardy annuals and Summer vegetable seeds indoors (such as beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, zucchini, squash) and transplant them as it warms up in your outdoor space.
  4. Weed Prevention: Putting preventative measures in place for weeds during late Winter/early Spring is a great way to keep your garden looking clean all season.
  5. Pest Control: Start thinking about potential issues you may have in your gardens and be ready to manage pests in advance. Did you know? Potato slices catch wireworms around the edges of the veggie patch and you can protect carrots with row cover against rust worm as a place to start.
4 Apr

Purchase Plus Home Improvements?

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

When it comes to shopping for your perfect home, it can be hard to find the exact one ready to go! In fact, most homes come with flaws of a sort whether it is old paint or flooring, outdated fixtures or perhaps more extensive repairs are needed. While some buyers have no issues dealing with these deficiencies in a home or perhaps do not consider them dealbreakers, other house hunters might.

If you are looking into a home that requires improvements, there is a mortgage product known as Purchase Plus Improvements (PPI). This type of mortgage is available to assist buyers with making simple upgrades, not conduct a major renovation where structural modifications are made. Simple renovations include paint, flooring, windows, hot-water tank, new furnace, kitchen updates, bathroom updates, new roof, basement finishing, and more.

Depending on whether you have a conventional or high-ratio mortgage, if it is insured or uninsurable, and which insurer you use, the Purchase Plus Improvements (PPI) product can allow you to borrow between 10% and 20% of the initial property value for renovations.

The main difference between a regular mortgage and a purchase plus home improvements program is the need for quotes. As part of the verification process, your mortgage professional and the lender will need to see a quote for the work that is planned for the improvements. The quotes will provide us with the cost and plan details required to secure the final approval.

The lender will release the full funds directly to the lawyer with instructions to hold onto the portion for improvement  costs until the renovations are completed. You would need to pay the contractor and then, once the renovations are complete, and the lender has approved and waived the holdback, the lender will allow the lawyer to release the additional funds.

To get started with this type of mortgage program, the first step is reaching out to myself to understand how this mortgage product would apply to your application and specific situation, as based on your existing mortgage. Understanding what you qualify for and the types of improvements that can be included in the financing, will help you better understand which potential houses might work great for you and how much financial room you have for improvements.

4 Apr

Have You Had Your Mortgage Check-Up?

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

Spring is a great time to consider doing an annual mortgage check-in!

Organizing a quick mortgage review each year can help provide peace of mind and ensure you’re on-track your future goals while still ensuring you’re able to manage the monthly payments.

With interest rates on the rise, a mortgage check-up is a great opportunity to review your current situation and potential options, including taking a look at your current mortgage rates and terms. For instance, perhaps now is a good time to consider locking in your variable rate mortgage to a fixed term?

This is also a great time to look at your payment frequency for potential savings, such as moving to an accelerated bi-weekly plan versus monthly (or vice versa if you are finding it difficult to meet your current payments). On the other hand, if you have extra savings you want to put on your mortgage, this is a good time to review your pre-payment privileges to do an annual lump-sum payment of 15-20%, or increase your monthly payment amount to get your mortgage paid off more quickly!

Overall, your annual mortgage check-up is a great opportunity to touch base and discuss any life changes, your current situation and future goals to ensure that your mortgage continues to work for you and you have peace of mind all year long. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me any time to book your check-up!

3 Apr

Considering taking a fixed instead of variable? Here is why you shouldn’t.

General

Posted by: Mike Hattim

There has been a lot of buzz around increasing interest rates which have left many home owners worrying about whether they should lock in their current variable rates now to avoid future increases; and has left current home buyers wondering if they should take a fixed rate instead of the variable.

Here is my opinion on the matter.  First, mortgage news is not entertaining or sexy so in order for all these media sites to generate their clicks, they need to make it sound scary or life changing so they use their headlines to make things sound far worse than it actually is.

Since early 2020 we have had a ‘break’ in interest rates due to the pandemic we have all had to deal with but it was inevitable and hopeful that things would go back to how it was. In January 2020 the prime rate was at 3.95% and had drastically dropped to 2.45% and held there for 2 years and has recently increased to 2.70%.

But now that rates are increasing, what is it we should expect?  Well in order to think realistically we must look at the facts.  The last time the prime rate was as high as 4% was in 2008, which was 14 years ago.  The highest the prime rate has been in the last 12 years was 3.95%.  Think about this when you start to worry about the prime rate going up to 4%, 5%, 6% in a short period of time and understand there is no data to validate your concern.

Now, could the prime rate increase above 3.95% within the next 5 years.  Sure.  It is possible but unlikely.  My prediction is we will see the prime rate reach between 3.50% and 4.00% and hold steady for a while over the course of the next 2 – 5 years.

So……what should you do?  If you’re purchasing a home today your options for fixed rates will range approximately between 3.79% and 3.99% and your variable rate options will range between 1.60% to 1.85%.  In most cases you are already starting out almost 2% lower with your variable rate VS fixed rate, giving you a running start in savings before the gradual and expected prime rate increases over the term of your mortgage.

The math speaks for itself and the risks involved are not nearly as bad as the media has perceived it to be.

This chart shows all the prime rate movements between 2010 and 2022.  For any questions please contact me to discuss.