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Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs Mortgage Pre-Approval vs Mortgage Approval

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Buying & Selling Tips

Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs Mortgage Pre-Approval vs Mortgage Approval

What are the differences between each stage of the mortgage process?
By Kara Kuryllowicz September 18, 2019

In early 2019, several Canadian banks launched digital apps that offer home buyers easy, hassle-free mortgage pre-qualification in 60 seconds or less. Sounds great, right?  The problem is many consumers believe a mortgage pre-qualification is a lot like a mortgage pre-approval or mortgage approval. As a result, prospective home buyers and sellers are left expecting the financial institution associated with the app to lend them hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite the fact they simply keyed their names, addresses, contact information and gross income into various online fields.

Getting Mortgage Approval

“Every week, as many as 40% of my new clients come to me because they’ve just bought a home and discovered that mortgage pre-qualification is meaningless and that they do not have the financing required for the purchase,” says Tracy Valko, owner and principal broker of Dominion Lending Centres Valko Financial Ltd., and a director at Mortgage Professionals of Canada.

Let’s get real: A mortgage pre-qualification gives the financial institution warm leads (names, contact information, purchasing timeline) and tells consumers how much money a financial institution might loan them. There is no way any financial institution will actually lend consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars just because they spent 45 seconds with the company’s mortgage pre-qualification tool.

Lenders do everything they can to ensure the borrower will repay the loan. A mortgage pre-approval looks at how an individual manages his/her money to determine that person’s creditworthiness. The next step is the mortgage approval which assesses that specific person’s ability to repay a loan of a certain amount at a set interest rate on a particular home.

“Always get a mortgage pre-approval before you start searching for a home and have a mortgage approval in place before you waive your financing condition on the offer – back out of a deal after it’s firm and you could be sued by the seller.” says Valko. “A mortgage pre-approval will tell consumers and their realtors what they can realistically afford to buy.”

Let’s further define the terms consumers need to fully understand before they commit to a real estate agent and start shopping for a home.

What is Mortgage Pre-Qualification?

It takes less than 60 seconds because it requests only the most basic information, whether it’s submitted to an online app or a financial representative. Mortgage pre-qualification never requires supporting documentation that proves the consumer actually has a full-time job, is paid a weekly salary and has earned a good credit score. At best, a mortgage pre-qualification can provide a very loose, broad estimate of a consumer’s home-buying power based on the consumer’s unverified data. Because the consumer typically inputs the information into an online tool, it takes just seconds for the software, not an experienced, professional underwriter, to pre-qualify a consumer for a mortgage.

If consumers notice and bother to read the apps’ fine print or legal disclaimers, they’ll likely see a statement like this one: “This is not a mortgage approval or pre-approval. You must submit a separate application for a mortgage approval or a mortgage pre-approval and a full credit report.”

In other words, they’re not actually promising you a dime, let alone enough the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll likely need to buy a home anywhere in Canada.

What is Mortgage Pre-Approval?

In general, it will take two to five business days to investigate an individual’s financial circumstances and the risk that a person might represent to the lender. The underwriter will need the basics, such as name, address and contact information in addition to detailed data on their income, assets (e.g. stocks, RRSPs, property, vehicles, savings), liabilities (e.g. debt, loans, mortgages) and their credit rating and report as well as the available down payment. Supporting documentation may be required to prove any or all of the above.

Unlike a pre-qualifying app, lenders’ underwriters may request a letter of employment, a Notice of Assessment, pay stubs, or T4 for the two most recent years as well as documentation indicating the down payment is available. The lender or mortgage broker will also require the consumers’ permission to pull credit scores and credit reports from organizations such as Equifax.

Your credit score, typically 300 to 800+, is based on feedback from lenders who confirm that you do or don’t pay your bills in full and on time every month. The credit report includes your name, address, social insurance number and date of birth as well as your credit history, for example, your debts and assets and whether you’ve ever been sent to collection or declared bankruptcy.

“Lenders want to know how well or how poorly you manage your money and will be looking for patterns of insufficient, late and missed payments,” says Valko.

A mortgage pre-approval is generally valid for up to 120 days at a specific interest rate unless the consumers’ circumstances change, for example, employment status, down payment, or income. For example, a consumer may not realize it, but their probationary status with a new employer, whether it’s three, six or 12 months, does matter to lenders. Likewise, a move from a salaried to a contract or self-employed position will also be seen as a higher risk.

“I’ve had clients believe they were full time, salaried employees, then discover they’re still on probation when we start underwriting,” says Valko. “An electrician client left his full-time salaried position to work independently and didn’t realize it negated his mortgage pre-approval, which was based on the guaranteed weekly paycheck versus the sporadic earnings associated with self-employment.”

What is Mortgage Approval?

This is the big one. Once consumers have identified the homes they want to purchase, they need mortgage approval to buy that specific home. Lenders assess the age and condition of the homes and consider comparable homes to confirm the price being paid is fair and market value. The mortgage approval is valid until the closing date unless the buyers’ circumstances change.

“Only the mortgage approval accounts for property specifics, such as taxes or condo fees, so give your underwriter/lender time to ensure the numbers previously used are still valid and that the property is acceptable to the lender,” says Valko.

If you’re serious about the home search and purchase process, skip the mortgage pre-qualification apps. Instead, take the time and make the effort to get mortgage pre-approval, then find the home suits you best, then get mortgage approval to close the deal. Then? Enjoy your new keys.

Source: REW.ca –  Kara Kuryllowicz September 18, 2019

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When You Might Need an Alternative Lender Mortgage

 

The majority of homeowners are blissfully unaware of alternative mortgages. They presume everyone is entitled to sub-3% mortgage interest rates, with no fees of any kind.

But there is a growing, significant percentage of borrowers who need a different type of mortgage financing solution. Sometimes there is no choice. That is why the alternative lending market (B-lenders) is so important to the overall health of the mortgage industry and, indeed, our economy.

Could this happen to you? Who would you turn to if your bank turned you down for a mortgage? How would you know if you are being given the straight goods, or being sold a bunch of baloney?

Plan BIf your primary financial institution (bank, credit union, trust company) refuses you a mortgage, you need to source a mortgage broker who can explore alternative financing options for youhopefully with a B-lender solution. And if that doesn’t work out, then there are numerous private mortgage lenders, too.

Most mortgage brokers are very comfortable working with A-lenders like banks, credit unions and monoline lenders, such as MCAP. And, in recent years, a growing number have expanded their businesses to provide alternative and private lending solutions. Be sure to select a professional who is experienced with these types of specialized products when you are in the market for a non-traditional mortgage.

Mortgage brokers have access to numerous alternative mortgage lenders (B-lenders) who offer excellent solutions above and beyond the traditional branch-based lenders, including:

  • Expanded debt-service ratiossome alternative lenders will allow GDS and TDS ratios as high as 50%, and are not constrained by 35/42 or 39/44 ratios, as traditional lenders usually are. In fact, if the loan-to-value ratio is low, they can get really creative. (For example, Haventree Bank will allow 60/60 when the LTV is under 65%)
  • Tolerant of damaged credit historiesthey will reserve their lowest rates for those with high credit scores (720 and above, sometimes less) but, at the same time, may entertain your mortgage application with a score as low as 500 or even lower.
  • Receptive to forms of income that traditional lenders cannot consider, such as Air BnB income, commission income, tips and contributory income from spouses not even on title. And most are more relaxed in their approach to self-employed borrowers.

Suppose for you the door is closed to banks and all A-lenders. How did you get here? Reasons typically include one or more of the following:

  • Cannot pass the mortgage stress test: inability to meet maximum debt-service ratios.
  • Low credit scores: could be too many late payments, balances too high on credit facilities, collections and liens, or even a consumer proposal or bankruptcy.
  • Non-traditional income: could be commissioned or rely on tips and work in a cash-based business. May even be irregular part-time income. Or perhaps you rent out rooms in your home, or have Air BnB income, foster care income, disability income, child tax benefits, etc. Do you buy, renovate and sell houses, and the capital gains are your only income? You could even own “too many properties.” (Yes, that can be a thing!)
  • Self-employed: you could be a business owner with lots of expense deductions and low reported taxable income. Or maybe you have been self-employed only a short timefewer than the two years A lenders prefer to see.

How long will it take to graduate back to A-lending?

The length of time you remain in an alternative lending product will vary based on your unique situation, but the ideal timeframe is one to two years. As such, most alternative mortgages are offered as one or two-year terms. There are some lenders who offer three and even five-year terms, but this is much rarer.

There are some borrowers who remain in this space for the long haul. It is unlikely they will ever qualify for a mortgage with an A-lender because of credit and/or income issues and that’s ok. They are grateful there is a reasonable cost alternative.

What added costs come with alternative mortgages?

Interest rate

Your interest rate will be a bit higher than those offered by an A-lender. These days, they mostly range from 3.99% to 5.99%. I don’t have the stats, but it feels like a large percentage of these are in the narrower range of 4.24% to 5.24%.

And the lowest rates are typically for a one-year term, with the two-year term coming in a touch higher.

Here are some sample payments to illustrate the impact of different mortgage rates. The difference is not as much as people expect.

  • $300,000 at 2.99% with a 30-year amortization = monthly payments of $1,260
  • $300,000 at 3.99% with a 30-year amortization = monthly payments of $1,425
  • $300,000 at 4.99% with a 30-year amortization = monthly payments of $1,600

Lender fees

Most of the time, your lender will charge a one-time fee of 1% of the loan amount.

Brokerage fees

alternative lender feesWith mortgages arranged with A-lenders, your mortgage broker is paid by the lender at no extra cost to you. This is less the case with alternative mortgages, mainly because the shorter the mortgage term, the less the compensation, yet the workload is at least the same and often more intense.

Therefore, when sourcing an alternative mortgage for you, your mortgage broker will often charge a brokerage fee. They should be upfront about this exact charge early on in the process. The amount varies from broker to broker and from loan to loan. Factors brokers consider are:

  • The complexity and level of effort they anticipate is involved to fund your mortgage.
  • The size of your mortgage. The smaller your mortgage, the larger the fee may seem as a percentage of the loan amount, and the larger the mortgage, potentially the smaller the fee may seem as a percentage of the loan amount.

If you are buying a property, lender and brokerage fees come from your pocket. If you are refinancing, they are deducted from the mortgage advance, if there is enough equity to do so.

All fees and costs must be disclosed properly to you according to your provincial regulator’s rules. Lender and broker fees are paid on your funding date

Other fees

As with most mortgages, you can expect to pay for an appraisal, solicitor and title insurance.

Some lenders charge annual administration or “maintenance” fees of a few hundred dollars, and they typically charge a renewal fee if you accept one of their renewal offers. There is not a one-size-fits-all formula applied when calculating renewal fees.

Monthly property tax administration fees can also be charged (less than $5 per month).

Alternative lenders are a safe route

In the Q1 broker lender market share figures, alternative lenders Home Trust Company and Equitable Bank together held more than 13% of broker market share.

Alternative lenders are not to be feared or disparaged. They serve a very useful role in the mortgage industry and are a terrific midpoint between a bank-issued mortgage and a private lender solution.

When a mortgage borrower does not even fit into the world of alternative lenders, your mortgage broker will need to source a private mortgage solution for you. I will explore this option in future articles.

Source: CanadianMortgageTrends.ca – Ross Taylor

 

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Latest in Mortgage News: Stress-Test Rate Drops After a Year of No Change

 

The benchmark posted 5-year fixed rate, which is used for stress-testing Canadian mortgages, fell yesterday in its first move since May 2018.

The Bank of Canada announced the mortgage qualifying rate drop to 5.19% from 5.34%. This marks the first reduction in the rate since September 2016.

The rate change came as a surprise to most observers, since it’s based on the mode average of the Big 6 banks’ posted 5-year fixed rates. And there have been no changes among the big banks’ 5-year posted rates since June 21.

As reported by RateSpy.com, the Bank of Canada explained today’s move as follows:

“There are currently two modes at equal distance from the simple 6-bank average. Therefore, the Bank would use their assets booked in CAD to determine the mode. We use the latest M4 return data released on OSFI’s website to do so. To obtain the value of assets booked in CAD, simply do the subtraction of total assets in foreign currency from total assets in total currency.”

If that sounds convoluted, RateSpy’s Rob McLister tells us this, in laymen’s terms: “What happened here was that the total Canadian assets of the three banks posting 5.34% fell much more than the total Canadian assets of the three banks posting 5.19%. The 5.19%-ers won out this week,” McLister said.

Of the Big 6 banks, Royal Rank, Scotiabank and National Bank have posted 5-year fixed rates of 3.19%, while BMO, TD and CIBC have posted 5-year fixed rates of 5.34%.

“It’s one of the most convoluted ways to qualify a mortgage borrower one could dream up, McLister added. “It’s almost incomprehensible to think random fluctuations in bank assets could have anything to do with whether a borrower can afford his or her future payments.”

In his post, McLister noted the qualifying rate change means someone making a 5% down payment could afford:

  • $2,800 (1.3%) more home if they earn $50,000 a year
  • $5,900 (1.3%) more home if they earn $100,00 per year

Teranet Home Price Index Continues to Record Weakness

Without seasonal adjustments, the monthly Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index would have been negative in the month of June. Thanks to a seasonal boost, however, the index rose just 0.5% from the year before.

Vancouver marked the 11th straight month of decline (down an annualized 4.9%), while Calgary recorded its 11th monthly decline (down 3.8%) in the past 12 months.

“These readings are consistent with signals from other indicators of soft resale markets in those metropolitan areas,” the report said.

But while Western Canada continues to grapple with sagging home sales and declining prices, markets in Ontario and Quebec are already posting increases following weakness in the first half of the year.

Prices in Toronto were up 2.8% vs. June 2018, while Hamilton saw an increase of 4.9% and London was up 3.3%. The biggest gains continue to be seen in Thunder Bay (up 9.2%), Ottawa-Gatineau (up 6.3%) and Montreal (up 5.4%).

Don’t Expect Housing Market to Catch Fire Again

Don’t hold your breath for another spectacular run-up in real estate as seen in recent years, say economists from RBC.

“A stable market isn’t a bad thing,” noted senior economist Robert Hogue. “This is sure to disappoint those hoping for a snapback in activity, especially out west. But it should be viewed as part of the solution to address issues of affordability and household debt in this country…It means that signs indicating we’ve passed the cyclical bottom have been sustained last month.”

Home resales in June were up marginally (0.3%) compared to the previous year, which Hague says provides “further evidence that the market has passed its cyclical bottom.”

Meanwhile, the national benchmark home price was down 0.3% year-over-year in June, “tracking very close to year-ago levels.”

Hague says these readings are good news for policy-makers, who he says want to see “generally soft but stable conditions in previously overheated markets.”

Source : Mortgage Broker News – STEVE HUEBL  

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How rising interest rates are squeezing homeowners

Mortgage holders on tenterhooks as they prepare for Bank of Canada’s next rate announcement Oct. 25

Gerry Corcoran is bracing for Oct. 25. That’s when the Bank of Canada will make its next interest rate announcement, on the heels of two consecutive rate hikes. Corcoran said he can’t afford a third.

“A lot of us with variable rate mortgages are on pins and needles because we’re like, ‘Are we going to get hit again?'”

‘It’s kind of smacked my finances around a little bit.’– Gerry Corcoran, new homeowner

Corcoran, 38, signed the mortgage for his two-bedroom condo in Stittsville back in June.

Two weeks later, on July 12, the Bank of Canada announced a rate increase of .25 per cent, the first increase in seven years. It was followed by a second .25 per cent increase in September.

As someone with a variable rate mortgage, Corcoran says those small rate hikes have had a sizeable impact. He estimates they’ll cost him about $65 per month.

While it’s a cost he says he can absorb, as a new homeowner Corcoran only has a few hundred dollars a month in disposable income. It’s also meant he’s had to put on hold his plan to enrol in his employer’s matching RRSP program until next year.

“It’s kind of smacked my finances around a little bit,” he said. “It hurts.”


 


Gerry

‘A lot of us with variable rate mortgages are on pins and needles because we’re like, ‘Are we going to get hit again?” (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Homeowners in ‘panic mode’

After years of record-low interest rates, people in the mortgage business say they’ve been waiting for this other shoe to drop.

Erin MacDonell, a mortgage agent with Mortgage Brokers Ottawa, says she saw a spike in calls after the rate hikes. Many callers were eager to buy — or refinance their mortgages — before rates went up again.

“People are in a little bit of a panic mode,” MacDonell said.

But even if interest rates continue to climb, she says a new federal “stress test” will help mortgage holders weather the changes.

Erin MacDonell, mortgage agent, ottawa mortgage brokers

Mortgage agent Erin MacDonell says calls from both potential buyers and homeowners looking to refinance spiked when the Bank of Canada announced a rate increase in July. (Ashley Burke/CBC Ottawa)

Under the safeguard introduced last October, a borrower had to be approved against a rate of 4.64 per cent for a five-year loan — even though many lenders are offering much lower rates. That rate is now 4.84 per cent.

The test applies to all insured mortgages where buyers have down payments that are less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.

“No one should be struggling too, too much,” MacDonell said.

Instead, she predicts future rate hikes will simply mean “people won’t be qualifying for as big of a house as they maybe wanted in the past.”

Gerry Corcoran says despite being forced to tighten his belt, buying was still the right choice for him.

“At the end of the day, even with mortgage and condos fees, I am still paying less to own this place than [I’d pay] to someone else to rent it.”

Source: Karla Hilton · CBC

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New financing rules could drive more consumers into more volatile mortgages

Proposed changes to mortgage rules may force some consumers to consider more volatile variable rate mortgages in order to qualify under a strict stress test proposed by Canada’s banking regulator.

Guidelines published by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in July, which the agency is now receiving feedback on, would change the qualifying rules for uninsured mortgages in Canada — a less regulated segment of the market made up of consumers who have down payments of 20 per cent or more.

The rules under consideration would force consumers to qualify for loans based on the rate on their contract plus 200 basis points, a move that might lead some people into shorter term loans that have lower rates and are therefore easier to qualify for.

“It could be one of the unintended consequences,” said Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets Inc., about the changes. Tal believes OSFI will modify its proposal before it is finalized and one of the factors under consideration could be how the rules might discourage Canadians from locking in their rates.

Rob McLister, the founder of ratespy.com, said the potential impact of the changes can be seen when examining the current yield curve, which shows longer term rates are still much higher. As an example, with the prime rate now 3.2 per cent and the average discount on a five-year variable rate mortgage around 65 basis points, that means those consumers would have to qualify based on a rate of 2.55 per cent plus 200 basis points or 4.55 per cent.

 

“Generally, the variable will be cheaper. Maybe the one-year or two years (even more so). We have people who can’t qualify because of 10 basis points. I think it will force at least 10 per cent of uninsured borrowers to look at shorter-term rates that have more risk,” said McLister, who notes the average five-year fixed rate mortgage is more like 3.19 per cent.

Those consumers looking for the safety of a five-year rate would end up having to qualify based on 5.19 per cent with the 64 extra basis points meaning they could get a larger loan by borrowing at short-term rates.

The Bank of Canada has raised its overnight lending rate twice in the last two months and may do so again in October. Such hikes, which affect variable-rate products that are tied to prime, are part of the risk that comes with a floating rate product.

CONVENTIONAL BORROWER

McLister said a typical conventional borrower would qualify for a home that’s about six per cent more expensive by choosing a lower more volatile variable, one- or two-year rate instead of a “safer” five-year fixed.

That assessment was based on latest median household income from Statistics Canada, average non-mortgage debt, a 30-year amortization and a 20 per cent down payment

The OSFI changes fly in the face of previous government policy, which had tried to entice people into longer-term products by making the qualifying easier.

Consumers with less than 20 per cent down on a mortgage and their loans backed by Ottawa already must qualify based on the five-year Bank of Canada qualifying rate of 4.84 per cent. That rule change was made in October, 2016 but previously those high-ratio borrowers could use the rate on their contract if they were locking in for five years or longer.

Robert Kavcic a senior economist with Bank of Montreal, said households in Toronto — currently facing rapidly declining sales and an average price correction of almost 25 per cent from the April peak, can withstand more rate increases but he agrees people on the fringe may turn to shorter-term money to get into the housing market.

“I think the goal is to make sure people can pay higher rates two or three years down the road,” said Kavcic.”It does sound like there is more caution (about proposed changes) given what is happening in the Toronto market.”

Source: Financial Post – Gary Marr gmarr@postmedia.com

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Home sellers struggling with closing complications after big chill hits market

Realtor Peggy Hill, of Keller Williams, said house closings have been stalling since the end of June. Barrie home prices may not be as high as some closer to the city, but the drop has been precipitous.

Formerly frenzied buyers are reconsidering purchases made in the heat of the market.

Barrie teacher Cheryl O’Keefe doesn’t know how she would have survived the stress-induced sleepless nights of July had school not been out for the summer.

O’Keefe is among Toronto region homebuyers and sellers who got caught in the spring real estate downturn.

When the sale on her house finally closed a month past the originally agreed-upon date, it was the end of an expensive nightmare for O’Keefe.

Others who sold their homes in this year’s once frenzied real estate market, are still struggling to complete their transactions.

Lawyers, realtors and mortgage brokers report a surge in calls from distressed sellers whose buyers purchased in the heat of the market, only to find that the subsequent drop in the home’s value is more than the cost of walking away from a deposit.

Others, who bought unconditionally, have discovered they can’t get the financing to meet their purchase obligation. In some cases, the bank appraisal has come in at a value below what a purchaser agreed to pay, leaving the buyer scrambling to make up the difference.

O’Keefe’s real estate agent, Peggy Hill of Keller Williams, says closings have been stalling since the end of June. Barrie home prices may not be as high as some closer to the city, but the drop has been precipitous.

“Our average price for a home in Barrie is $471,822 for July. In March it was $570,199. We’re talking about a $100,000 difference,” she said.

That is still $40,000 above the average price of July 2016. But back then, 208 of the 260 homes listed sold. “This July we have 201 sales so the sales are still there but with 683 active (listings),” said Hill. “That’s the real picture.”

The GTA-wide picture is similar. When the regional market peaked in April, the average home price — including every category from condos to detached houses — was $919,449. By July, it had fallen to $746,216, although prices were still up 5 per cent year over year.

There were 9,989 sales among 11,346 active listings in July of 2016, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board. This July, listings soared to 18,751 listings, with only 5,921 sales.

O’Keefe had lived in her bungalow for only about two years when she decided to sell it in February, about the time property prices were peaking. Her basement apartment was standing empty and she wanted to downsize.

The real estate frenzy in Barrie mimicked Toronto’s and most of the 43 showings of O’Keefe’s house were, in fact, people from Toronto.

Like many homes at the time, O’Keefe’s sold in about a week for more than the listed price. The buyer put down a $25,000 deposit and requested a longer-than-usual four-month closing date of June 28.

“That was fine. It just gave me more time to do what I had to do,” said O’Keefe.

What she had to do was find a new home for herself in the same fiercely competitive market. She lost a couple of bidding wars and turned her back on a century home she loved because she knew it would go at a price she could never justify.

When she happened on an open house that fit her needs, O’Keefe bought it with a May 28 closing — a month ahead of when her own home sale was to be finalized. She arranged bridge financing to cover both mortgages for that month.

It all looked good on paper. But as the spring wore on, O’Keefe grew uneasy. The buyers of her house had not requested the usual pre-closing visit. Usually, excited new owners want a look around.

O’Keefe got her realtor to call. No response.

A week from closing, she had still heard nothing. At 4:50 p.m. on closing day, her lawyer talked to the purchaser, who admitted he was having difficulty with the closing.

By then, O’Keefe had been living in her new place a month and was paying two mortgages.

She agreed to extend the closing to July 14. When that didn’t happen, O’Keefe agreed to a second extension to July 31. The date came and went. Finally on Aug. 2, her lawyer called to say the buyer closed.

“Every step of the way everything that could be a headache has been a headache,” she said.

O’Keefe’s realtor says that so far, in her office, even problematic closings have been finalized. But some have been disappointing.

“There have been deals where we’ve had to take less commission. The seller had to take less money to make it close because at that point they’re euchred.

“It’s usually $40,000 to $50,000 because of our price point. In other areas I know it’s in hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Hill, referring to areas such as Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Aurora, also hard hit by the market’s downward slope.

Some buyers have requested extensions on new home purchases because their old places didn’t sell, said Hill.

“That’s understandable,” she said. “In March, you wouldn’t dare go in with an offer conditional on the sale of a home. The problem is, in April, when all hell broke loose, everybody started putting their houses on the market fearing they had missed the top.”

Many have arranged bridge financing and moved on. But others haven’t been as fortunate, said Toronto lawyer Neal Roth.

He has been getting about five calls a week since mid-May from home sellers struggling to close on transactions.

“There is this horrendous domino effect going on where people in the spring were rushing into the market for a variety of reasons, committing to prices that in some instances were well beyond their means,” he said.

Most of his callers represent one of two scenarios.

First, there’s someone paid $1.5 million for a house that has since become worth $1.4 million, so they want to get out of the purchase.

“The other type of person says, ‘The bank promised me 60 per cent financing. Now that I’m at $1.5 million I should still get the same 60 per cent, not realizing that you have to come up with the 40 per cent of your own cash, or that the bank said 60 per cent when you were at $1.2 million, not $1.5 million,” said Roth.

While he thinks some sellers got greedy and some buyers should have been more careful, he hasn’t encountered anyone who got caught playing the property market.

“They’re all average people. None of them have been speculators as far as I know,” he said.

It’s not uncommon for mortgage brokers to hear from home buyers struggling with financing, said Nick L’Ecuyer of the Mortgage Wellness Group in Barrie

“But what we’re getting now is people who are in sheer turmoil. They don’t know what to do at all,” he said.

Some sellers, who planned to use their equity to put down 20 per cent or more on another home, don’t realize they can’t get bridge financing from a bank if they don’t have a firm purchase agreement on their old house.

Then there’s the hard truth that the house they’re selling isn’t likely to go for as much as they expected earlier in the year.

They can put down just 5 per cent and apply for a government-insured mortgage, but that’s more complicated and costly, said L’Ecuyer.

The Appraisal Institute of Canada doesn’t have statistics on the number of lender-commissioned appraisals that come in short of the agreed-upon price of a home.

But based on anecdotal accounts, it’s happening more now in the GTA, said institute CEO Keith Lancastle.

“Any time you go into a situation where you make an abrupt change from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market — where you see a slowdown for whatever reason — you can encounter this situation,” he said.

The role of an appraiser is to provide an unbiased opinion of a property’s value at a given point of time.

“A heated market does not automatically translate into a true market value. When you take away the heat, all of a sudden it settles down into something that is perhaps more reflective of what true market value is,” said Lancastle.

He says he’s still surprised by how emotional what is routinely now a million-dollar home buying experience can be.

“It’s arguable that mortgage lending should not be underwriting that emotion and that notion of a sober second thought is really important, not only for the purchaser, but also for the lender,” he said.

Buyers tempted to walk away from a deposit need to realize that they may still face a lawsuit, says L’Ecuyer. If you bought a house for $500,000 and decided to forfeit the deposit, and the seller gets only $450,000 from another buyer, you can be sued for the difference, he said. There is also the possibility of being sued by a realtor who isn’t getting a commission, and for additional legal and carrying costs.

Roth said there are people who don’t even realize that when they back out of a sale, their deposit is automatically lost.

O’Keefe believes that because she priced her home on the low side, it hasn’t lost any value. “You start talking to people and this is happening to so many,” she said. “I’m lucky that my house closed.”

Source: Toronto Star – 

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De-mystifying mortgage penalties

Research has shown that over 83 per cent of people break their mortgages early, resulting in their incurring hefty mortgage penalties that sometimes far exceed the annual interest on a mortgage. People break their mortgages early for several reasons, including relocation, the end of a marriage relationship, loss of a job, to take equity out to invest elsewhere and for many other reasons. A mortgage penalty is a fee built into the contract to prevent or make it difficult for you to break the mortgage, in addition to compensating the provider for the loss of interest income. Different mortgage providers calculate the penalty in different ways, which is why it is always a good idea to shop around before settling on one particular provider. Also crucial is ensuring that you read the fine print before signing the mortgage document, so that you have an idea of the penalties (if any), that you are likely to incur in the event that you break the mortgage.
How mortgage penalties are calculated
Traditionally, banks and other lenders have used two main methods to calculate mortgage penalties. This means that in the past, you were assured of paying a standardised penalty depending on which method the bank used. As a rule, you could then expect to pay the greater sum calculated under the following methods:
The three month interest method: Here, you basically calculate the interest due on your next three mortgage repayments and pay the three month total.
Interest Rate Differential (IRD): The IRD is calculated by multiplying your mortgage balance by the difference between your original mortgage interest rate and the current interest rate that the lender can expect to charge upon reselling the mortgage.
The first method has typically been applied on variable rate mortgages, while fixed rate mortgages would use the ‘higher amount’ rule where they pick the larger sum depending on which method is used to calculate the penalty figure. However, with the advent of new mortgage lenders with cheaper interest rates and friendlier lending terms, banks have taken steps to reinforce their customers; including changing the way the IRD is calculated. Today, for instance, you may find that your prepayment penalty is calculated in the following ways:
  • Using posted rates as opposed to discounted ones, which significantly increases the penalty.
  • Basing their penalty calculations around a variety of factors including bond rates.
  • Rounding off to the next longest remaining mortgage term, and many others.
What this means for you as a customer is that your mortgage penalty is likely to be extremely high, or you may find yourself stuck with your current mortgage provider in order to avoid incurring an exorbitantly high penalty. Unfortunately, unless you are an insider in the mortgage industry, you may also find yourself unable to calculate the rate personally, forcing you to rely on the formulas that your lending partner has come up with. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid finding yourself in this situation or at least significantly reduce the penalty you pay to your mortgage lender.
How to protect yourself from high penalties
Whether you are just starting to shop around for a mortgage or are looking to offload a current one in favour of a friendlier option, the following strategies can help you avoid paying a hefty penalty:
  1. Read your mortgage contract thoroughly: Take time to completely go through your contract before signing the document. Ensure you find out exactly what penalty you will be expected to pay in case you decide to break your contract early. Ask your mortgage agent to clarify how the penalty will be calculated and if possible, have a lawyer or other mortgage professional go through the document with you. Make sure to seek clarification on terms you do not understand and ensure that you are clear about any other costs associated with breaking your mortgage early. Ensure to read the fine print and only sign when you are completely satisfied with the terms of the mortgage.
  1. Understand, and take advantage of pre-payment clauses: Pre-payment clauses allow you to pre-pay up to 20 per cent of the balance of your mortgage annually without incurring a penalty. Pre-paying your mortgage allows you to significantly reduce the amount of your mortgage so that you can decrease the penalty you have to pay for breaking the contract. In addition, you can often take advantage of the end and beginning of a calendar year to double your prepayment in order to bring the mortgage balance down even further. For example, you could pay the first instalment at the end of December, and the other as soon as the financial year begins in January. Pre-payment allowances can vary from lender to lender so ensure you understand what options you have.
  1. Ensure that the contract allows you to break your mortgage: One of the most crucial things to look out for before signing the mortgage contract is whether the lender will allow you to break the contract early. Some lenders have clauses built into the contract prohibiting you from breaking it early and ensuring that you pay a very hefty penalty in the event that life circumstances force you to break it unintentionally. Sometimes, these types of “restrictive” mortgage products can come with lower rates. These lower rates are to make up for the fact you can’t break the mortgage early! These lower rates can be tempting, but without having a complete understanding of the mortgage product and it’s restrictions, they can lead to an unfortunate surprise down the road should you decide to break your mortgage early.
  1. Enlist the help of the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments Office: While IRDs remain unregulated for now, consumers with valid complaints may still enlist the help of the OBSI office if they feel that their penalties are too punitive. If you have been unable to successfully negotiate a reduction of the mortgage penalty with your mortgage lender, you can get some help from the OBSI, and even get part of the penalty reimbursed if the office rules in your favour.
  1. Learn how to calculate the penalties yourself: Educate yourself about how the various penalties are calculated in order to avoid situations where your mortgage lender rips you off because you are uninformed. As a rule of thumb, variable rate mortgages will use the three-month interest method, while fixed term mortgages will use the IRD. If you are still unsure on how to go about it, contact a trusted mortgage professional who will be happy to help.
Taking out a mortgage is a great way to get a place to call a home or premises to conduct your business. However, changes in life circumstances, the desire to move somewhere else, or simply wanting to access additional equity can force you to break your mortgage contract early, resulting in hefty penalties from your mortgage lender. Canadian mortgage laws are yet to regulate how the mortgage penalties are calculated, which means that many people find themselves at the mercy of mortgage providers as far as penalties are concerned.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from hefty penalties or at least significantly reduce the amounts you pay upon breaking your mortgage. With a little research, you should be able to discover the methods that work best for you. A mortgage loan will likely be the biggest debt you incur in your life and it’s very important to ensure you have a good understanding of the mortgage product’s terms and conditions. Most importantly, ensure to work with a trusted mortgage professional who can help explain the terms of your mortgage commitment to you, and address your concerns about the associated penalties should you decide to break the mortgage down the road.

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage.

Source: WhichMortgage.ca – By Dan Caird  24 March, 2017

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