Category Archives: first time buyers

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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Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive: Everything You Need to Know

The FTHBI is here. Learn how it can save you money on your first home purchase.
By Kara Kuryllowicz September 5, 2019

For the first time in years, Canada’s first-time buyers have a reason to feel optimistic. September 2, 2019, marked the launch of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s all-new First-Time Home Buyers Incentive (FTHBI), a financial incentive designed to help middle-class Canadians buy their first property.

 

The Perfect Time for the FTHBI

The timing for the FTHBI couldn’t be better. Beyond the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive itself, there are three key real estate factors that actually favour all buyers as we head into 2019, not just first-timers. Fixed mortgage rates remain at an all-time low. Most markets across the country are balanced or even a little soft. And maybe best of all (and as discussed in this recent Fall Trends article) buyers typically don’t buy homes in the lead-up to a federal election, giving first-time buyers some added leverage as markets slow before October 21.
“The First Time Home Buyer Incentive will reduce the monthly mortgage for your first home by up to $286,” says Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. “This will help up to 100,000 families across Canada to buy their first home.”

 

How Does the FTHBI Work?

In effect, the FTHBI reduces their monthly mortgage payment without increasing the amount they need to save for the down payment. First-time buyers can finance a portion of their purchase through a form of shared equity mortgage with the Government of Canada. Home buyers will still have to pass the B-20 stress test and have mortgage pre-approval and mortgage approval.

“No doubt, some first-time buyers will benefit, and we’ll have to wait and see just how many families it affects,” says Paul Taylor, President and CEO, Mortgage Professionals Canada, Toronto.

 

Who Qualifies for the FTHBI 

  1. A combined household income of less than $120,000
  2. The insured mortgage and incentive cannot be more than four times the participants’ qualified annual household income
  3. Incentive is 5% on a resale or existing home
  4. Incentive can be either 5% or 10% on a newly constructed home
  5. Interest-free incentive
  6. No payments are due on the incentive until the home is sold or at 25 years
  7. The incentive can be repaid in full at any time without penalties (repayment must be in a lump sum of the current % valuation of the home.)
  8. The incentive must be repaid after 25 years, or when the property is sold, whichever comes first
  9. At 25 years, or resale, the homeowner repays 5 or 10% of the home’s value at that time rather than the amount received from CMHC (if the home lost value, the owner and CMHC share the loss and conversely, both parties benefit if the home increased in value)

 

For years now, unaffordable, astronomical properties have been getting all of the attention. In reality, those homes co-exist with some reasonably-priced, affordable homes in the very same cities, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Of course, those homes may be smaller apartments, older homes and/or in less desirable neighbourhoods, but they’re out there and may be perfectly suited to first-time buyers and their families.

 

The Financial Impact of the FTHBI

“CMBA is in favor of the FTHBI because by sharing equity with the government, first-time home buyers in specific segments are able to reduce the cash required for their weekly or monthly payments,” says Vancouver-based Rob Regan-Pollock, senior mortgage broker, Invis Inc., and co-chair of the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association. “It’s another tool in the quiver for mortgage brokers and agents that are helping first-time home buyers earning less than $120,000 annually get into markets where they can purchase a home for under $500,000.”

Let’s look at the financial impact the FTHBI would have on a family buying a $200,000 and a $500,000 home.  With a 5% or $10,000 ($20,000 total with FTHBI) down payment on a $200,000 home, the buyers will save $114 a month or $1,372 a year. If they put $25,000 down ($50,000 with FTHBI) on a $500,000 home, they’ll reduce their monthly payments by $286 a month or $3,430 annually.

Now that you know exactly how the FTHBI could help you achieve your dream of home ownership, you can start planning your future to take advantage of the upcoming federal election, the staggeringly low fixed rate interest and softer markets in various regions of Canada.

Source: REW.ca – By Kara Kuryllowicz September 5, 2019

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First-Time Home-buyer Lessons

 

My husband and I bought our first home three years ago, and I’ll admit we made some mistakes along the way.

Here are 5 hard lessons we learned as first-time homebuyers.

1. We bought a very old house. Before we bought the home, we had it inspected by a reputable home inspector. In his report, he suggested that we have the house’s foundation assessed by an engineer. But we didn’t do that. Why? We were in too much of a rush to buy the house.

Lesson? Pay attention to the inspection report. After living in the home for about a year and a half, I called an engineer who told us a foundation wall had to be replaced–and soon. It wasn’t cheap.

2. Our agent told us that upping our offer by a few thousand dollars would only mean an extra $40, $50 or $60 a month on our mortgage. It doesn’t sound like much, but if interest rates go up spending thousands more on our home will hurt.

Lesson? Once you figure out your maximum price, stick to it. This is one thing we actually did well. In the end our offer was accepted at the price we were willing to pay, but upping our bid could’ve made paying the mortgage a lot tougher.

3. When you’ve been a renter for most of your life, it’s a shock to suddenly find yourself responsible for repairs. We hired a roofer who did a really bad job, and we had to pay another roofer to do the work a second time. Then I had to go to small claims court to try getting my money back from the first one.

Lesson? Shop around before hiring a contractor. I should have paid more attention to a couple of negative online reviews. You can also look up court decisions online to see if other customers have had problems.

4. We were able to put a 20% down payment on our home and had about $10,000 set aside for closing costs, taxes, home insurance and other expenses. It wasn’t enough.

Lesson? Set money aside, then set some more aside. You also need to budget for the unexpected. In the first year, we spent several hundred dollars on a new sump pump after our crawl space flooded. Last year, we spent a few hundred dollars on an exterminator for mice.

5. This past winter, while our foundation wall was being dug up and replaced, I called a real estate agent to talk about possibly putting our house up for sale. I was pretty fed up with the seemingly unending problems and stress. The good news was that our home had gone up in value and we could make a profit. Though we’ll stay put for now, at least we have an exit plan–as long as the housing market stays strong.

Lesson? Have an exit plan. Hopefully these hard-earned lessons can help you become homeowners. Or maybe decide to remain renters. Good luck!

 

Source: Tangerine.ca – by Dominique Jarry Shore Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

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12 home inspection issues buyers can leverage to negotiate the sale price

Photo: James Bombales

Waiving a home inspection is like purchasing a used car on Craigslist without taking a look under the hood — you’re likely to run into issues down the road. A new survey from the online home improvement marketplace, Porch, reveals that 86 percent of home inspections uncover one or more problems that need to be addressed. While hiring a home inspector will set you back about $377 on average, their expertise could save you from buying a lemon or shelling out thousands of dollars in future repairs.

Prospective homebuyers can use the information provided by a home inspector to negotiate a lower sales price, accounting for the cost of repairs or replacing a feature altogether. Of the 1,000 individuals surveyed by Porch who hired a home inspector, 37 percent submitted a revised offer with help from their real estate agent, saving an average of $14,000 off the listing price of their new home. That’s no small chunk of change!

Here we examine the most-flagged home inspection issues buyers can use to negotiate the best sale price.

Photo: James Bombales

1. Roof – flagged in 19.7% of reports

Roofs with asphalt or cedar shingles have an average lifespan of 20 years whereas metal roofs only need to be replaced every 50 to 75 years. Your home inspector will look for signs of water damage, mold or algae, and take note of any sagging or missing shingles.

2. Electrical – flagged in 18.7% of reports

If you’re looking to purchase a home built prior to the 1950s, you’ll want to inquire about its electrical wiring. Knob-and-tube wiring, which was popular from the 1880s to the 1940s, can cause electrical shocks and fire. Other issues to take note of include exposed wiring, ungrounded wire receptacles and paint on electrical outlets.

Photo: James Bombales

3. Windows – flagged in 18.4% of reports

While broken windows are a pretty obvious spot, your home inspector may conduct a simple test to check for air leaks. However, there’s no guarantee the home owners will agree to repair the window seals — some consider this cosmetic, rather than structural.

4. Gutters – flagged in 16.9% of reports

Your home inspector will want to make sure the gutters are in good working condition, assessing their size, any damage, and how far water is directed away from the house.

Photo: James Bombales

5. Plumbing – flagged in 13.6% of reports

Plumbing problems can quickly add up, costing an unsuspecting homeowner thousands of dollars. With a flashlight in hand, your home inspector will scan for potential leaks, polybutylene piping, DIY projects gone wrong, tree root damage, and more.

6. Branches overhanging roof – flagged in 13.3% of reports

Having an old-growth tree in your front yard might seem like a selling point, but it can actually cause a lot of damage if not properly maintained. Branches can rip off roof shingles, leaves can pile up and clog up your gutters, and heavy limbs can come crashing down into your living room.

Photo: James Bombales

7. Fencing – flagged in 12.6% of reports

Home inspectors will evaluate the condition of a fence that lines the property. But again, this is one of those “choose your battles” situations. Are you willing to risk losing out on your dream home because a few pickets have gone missing? Probably not.

8. Water heater – flagged in 12.2% of reports

While a rickety fence may be no big deal, a busted up water heater certainly is. Home inspectors check for things like water leaks, sediment buildup, corrosion on the pipes, and low water pressure.

Photo: James Bombales

9. Driveways, sidewalks, patios, entrance landing – flagged in 11.9% of reports

Cracks in your driveway or patio are pretty much inevitable. That being said, you’ll want the home inspector to ensure water isn’t seeping into those crevices. If major issues do turn up, you may be able to seek compensation for those repairs.

10. Air conditioning – flagged in 9.9% of reports

According to the Porch survey, most homebuyers negotiate only $500 for AC repairs, but the actual costs are much higher — think thousands of dollars, not hundreds.

Photo: James Bombales

11. Exterior paint – flagged in 9.6% of reports

If the house was constructed before 1979, your inspector will likely conduct a lead paint test. Additionally, if the exterior paint is peeling, some lenders (like the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs) will not approve the loan due to concerns over health and safety.

12. Foundation issues/cracks – flagged in 8.9% of reports

Home inspectors can look for obvious signs of foundation problems like cracks in basement walls, damaged bricks and uneven floors. If you and your home inspector suspect the problems are serious, you may want to bring in an engineer. But consider it money well spent — foundation fixes can cost $10,000 or more. Gulp.

Source: Livabl.com –  

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Fed unveils First-Time Home Buyer Incentive in Barrie

Fed unveils First-Time Home Buyer Incentive in Barrie 

A federal official unveiled Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive in Barrie, ON last week.

Adam Vaughan, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of families, children, and social development, said that $1.25 billion has been allocated for the program over the next three years. The program, which will begin on September 2, is expected to reduce monthly mortgage payments required for first-time buyers without increasing the amount they need to save for a down payment.

“Housing affordability is a major issue and a major concern for families,” said Vaughan. “This region has become one of the most expensive in the world and the prices of downtown Toronto are starting to echo up into communities like Barrie, and the success of Barrie itself is also having an impact on housing values and land costs.”

The program will be available to first-time home buyers with qualified annual household incomes of up to $120,000. Under the incentive, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will provide up to 10% on the purchase price of a new build and 5% on a resale.

Source: Mortgage Broker News – by Duffie Osental 31 Jul 2019

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The Cost of Selling Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent

Everybody likes to save a little money. So when Rossana was ready to sell her condo a few years ago, she figured she could save some cash by selling it herself — without using a real estate agent. After all, her property was in a hot real estate market and she thought: “How hard could this be?”

Rossana, a busy mother of one, had become overwhelmed juggling her daily responsibilities in addition to managing her rental condo. She had grown tired of being a landlord and dealing with a revolving door of tenants — so when the family currently renting it was moving out, she decided that it was time to sell.

In hopes of saving some money, Rossana chose to sell her condo herself instead of working with a real estate agent. She thought: How hard could it be? She figured it would be easy to just hire a company that charges a flat fee to photograph the condo for her and advertising the property online. After all, she could handle the rest of the details herself. Right?

What she quickly discovered was that this approach didn’t work.

Missed Opportunities

“I found the service I used was not the best,” Rossana says. First, she says the service might have turned off potential buyers with unprofessional photos, “Honestly, I could have done a better job if I had done it myself.”

Second, when it came to marketing her property, Rossana says the marketing plan wasn’t aggressive enough to expose her condo listing to a large population of potential buyers. “My condo just didn’t get the same visibility if it would have had on MLS.”

Her condo was not widely promoted, and the service she used was not authorized to advertise on Realtor.ca (also known as MLS), which is many Canadians’ first stop when starting their home search.

Low Buyer Confidence

Rossana found buyers who had real estate agents wouldn’t come to view her property since she was selling it herself. “I think they lacked confidence that the sale would go through, or that it would be a complicated process because I didn’t have an agent.”

While she wasn’t getting a great deal of interest, Rossana still had to be on-site for open houses over the weekends. “I was living at the other end of the city at the time, so the commute was terrible. It was so much work, but I wasn’t getting much traction.”

Less-than Attractive Offers

When offers did get presented, they were far below the listing price. Plus, agents came in very confident with their clients’ offers, and Rossana didn’t feel she had the experience to handle these types of negotiations.

“I felt people were trying to take advantage of me, because I was trying to sell on my own. And I didn’t have the full picture of the market. I didn’t have the background to stand up to those low offers.”

Making the Decision to Hire an Agent

After more than five weeks of trying to sell the property on her own, Rossana decided to list her home with a professional real estate agent, after getting a referral from a friend.

“I immediately saw the difference in having a real estate professional in my corner,” Rossana recalls. “She offered staging, took really nice photos, and her level of professionalism was so impressive. And when there was an offer coming in, she was able to negotiate on my behalf.”

In the end, Rossana sold her condo — about two weeks after hiring an agent — and for a price she was very happy with.

“I really underestimated the amount of time an effort needed to sell a home myself. For anyone looking to sell their home, I highly recommend working with a real estate professional.”

Reasons to Use a Real Estate Professional

Rossana’s experience is a valuable tale for those thinking of taking a DIY approach to selling a home. While there is a cost to selling with a real state agent in the form of commission, the cost to sell without one may be greater.

Here are five benefits to working with a real estate agent:

  1. Market Knowledge. Rossana’s real estate agent knew what comparable condos in her neighbourhood had sold for, and the inventory on the market at the time. This enabled her to have an informed perspective on a reasonable listing price and acceptable end selling price.
  2. Visibility and Presentation. From professional staging to high quality photos, Rossana’s real estate agent presented her home in a highly attractive manner that was appealing to potential buyers. And because she could list the property on Realtor.ca, those looking for properties online could browse the photos and features of Rossana’s condo 24/7.
  3. Administration and Coordination. One of the things that Rossana underestimated was the time commitment required to sell a home privately. Her real estate agent took care of all the showings and open houses, allowing Rossana to be completely hands off until it came time to review an offer.
  4. Professional Real Estate Networks. As an established agent, Rossana’s real estate agent could connect with others working with buyers in the neighbourhood, and present the property to those in her network, further widening the net of potential purchasers.
  5. Negotiation Skills. Rossana’s real estate agent had significant experience negotiating deals and was in a great position to get Rossana the best possible price for her condo — Rossana didn’t have to do any of the negotiating herself.

Thinking about selling your home? Let Rossana’s story be a reminder of the benefits to working with a real estate professional.

Not sure how to find one or what to look for in a real estate professional? Discover Seven Things to Look for in a Real Estate Professional for some valuable tips.

Source: RoyalBank.com – By Diane Amato February 19, 2019
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The 7 Most Common Mistakes Home Buyers Make

 

1
Not Getting Pre-Approved Before You Shop

The more experience you have with buying real estate, the more you’ll learn about the complicated process. Between the confusing terminology and the logistics of buying a house, it’s all-too-easy to make the wrong move or wind up in an unwise investment. If you’re a first-time home buyer, skip the buyer’s remorse by learning about some of the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them. To find out what not to do, we reached out to Tracie Rigione and Vicki Ihlefeldthis link opens in a new tab, Vice Presidents of Sales at Al Filippone Associates/William Raveis Real Estate in Fairfield, Connecticut, to get their best advice.

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