Category Archives: Hi-Ratio Mortgages

What You Should Know About Collateral Charge Mortgages

 

I recently had clients who were refinancing their mortgage completely reject a very attractive offering from one of the big chartered banks.

Their reasoning? All of this bank’s mortgages are registered as collateral charges, and all of their online research into this topic spooked them completely.

Over the years, dozens of articles have been written on the topic of collateral mortgages, often tending to a negative bias. But as Rob McLister once said, and I agree with him, “collateral mortgages shouldn’t be portrayed as a supreme evil of the mortgage universe, when in fact they offer advantages to some.”

One can present persuasive arguments in favour or against collateral mortgages. But this client’s response compelled me to revisit the topic with fresh eyes and offer an updated perspective.

Mortgage loans are typically registered as a standard-charge mortgage or a collateral charge mortgage. So, let’s explore both types…

What Is a Standard Charge Mortgage?

A standard charge only secures the mortgage loan that is detailed in the document. It does not secure any other loan products you may have with your lender. The charge is registered for the actual amount of your mortgage.

If you want to borrow more money in the future, you’ll need to apply and re-qualify for additional money and register a new charge. There may then be costs, such as legal, administrative, discharge and registration fees.

If you want to switch your mortgage loan to a different lender at the end of your term, you may be able to do so by simply assigning your mortgage to a new lender at no cost to you.

Monoline lenders such as MCAP, First National Financial, CMLS and others default to standard-charge mortgages, unless offering a product such as MCAP Fusion (which has a re-advanceable HELOC component)

What Is a Collateral Charge Mortgage?

A collateral charge is basically a method of securing a mortgage or loan against your property. As explained here previously, “unlike a standard mortgage, a collateral charge is re-advanceable. That means the lender can lend you more money after closing without you needing to refinance and pay a lawyer.”

You can keep re-using this charge, and a new charge will only be required if you want to borrow more than the amount that was originally registered.

Most chartered banks offer both types of mortgages. A couple (TD Bank and Tangerine)  only register their mortgages as collateral charges.

Most chartered banks also offer a type of combination home financing, which consists of a mortgage component and a line of credit component. (Actually there could be several components.) For example, the Scotia Total Equity Plan (STEP) mortgage.

If you have a Home Equity Line of Credit, you have a collateral charge mortgage.

A collateral charge can be used to secure multiple loans with your lender. This means credit cards, car loans, overdraft protection and personal lines of credit could also be included.

Arguments people make in favour of collateral charge mortgages

1) If you wish to borrow more money during the term of your mortgage, you can tap into your home equity without the expense of a mortgage refinance. You can save legal fees. (This is assuming of course, your personal credit and income are sufficient to qualify for more money.)

2) If you have a mortgage and a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), it may be structured such that every time you make a mortgage payment, the amount you pay towards your principal balance is added to your HELOC limit. Large available credit, used wisely, is usually a good thing.

3) Collateral charges are often best suited to strong borrowers with lots of equity. They might readily access contingency funds at no cost down the road. This could be by increasing their mortgage loan amount or adding a home equity line of credit to the mix.

Ironically, our same clients who objected strenuously to the collateral charge actually fit this profile. After refinancing their current mortgage, they will still have $500,000 in equity left in their home. Who knows, down the road they may want a Home Equity Line of Credit or to increase their mortgage. If they register their mortgage today for more than its face value, they could avoid all refinancing costs at that time.

Arguments people make against collateral charge mortgages

1) Some people trash the collateral charge because there is often a cost to switching lenders at renewal. I think that’s overstated and no longer factual.

It’s so competitive out there, if you’re still considered strong borrowers, chances are someone is willing to eat the costs to move you.

Also, some lenders are now offering no-cost switch programs for collateral charge mortgages. That was not the case a few years ago, and the list of such lenders is growing.

And keep in mind the moment you wish to change any material aspect of your mortgage (for example, the amortization period or the loan amount), it is no longer considered a switch, but rather a refinance—so legal and appraisal costs are in play anyway.

2) Others argue you could be offered less competitive interest rates from your current lender at renewal than you will be from a new lender. Again, if you are a strong borrower, someone is going to offer you low rates, and your current lender, under pressure, will often match or beat competitive offers. For that reason I view this as less of a concern.

3) Some lenders register a collateral charge for more than the loan amount—to as much as 125% of the appraised value of your home. Some just do this by default and others may ask you to choose the dollar amount to be registered. The rationale being you will retain the benefits of your collateral charge, even as your home increases in value.

This is where you might pause to reflect.

If, down the road, your personal finances take a U-turn, or you no longer qualify for additional financing with your current lender, then you might find a high collateral charge impairs your ability to seek secondary financing elsewhere.

For example, we are presently working with two Ontario-based clients who need a private second mortgage, but the collateral charge registered against their home is roughly the same as the value of their home. Even if their current mortgage balance is very low, unless a private mortgage lender’s lawyer can cap the collateral charge at that lower balance, these homeowners will find alternate lender sources are unlikely to lend new money.

4) A collateral charge mortgage is not only a charge on your home, but can include other credit you have with that same lender. These lenders have a “right of offset,” meaning they can collect from the equity in your home on any financial products you have (or co-signed for) that are now in default.

There is also the potential that when asked to pay out the mortgage at the time you leave your collateral charge mortgage lender, they can also add in overdraft, credit card and line of credit balances. Resulting in less funds to you than you expected and may need.

That said, it is unclear how often this happens, if ever, to borrowers with spotless records.

Industry insider Dustan Woodhouse points out, “(Even) co-signing a credit card or car loan for somebody (who then stops making payments) carries a risk of a foreclosure action against your property as a remedy for what was perceived to be an unrelated debt.”

The Wrap

Collateral charge mortgages are here to stay. More lenders are adopting them and you should have a good understanding of what type of mortgage you are being offered. Most of the time, it probably will not matter much to you how your mortgage is registered.

For all the arguments about extra costs if you wish leave your lender at renewal, as long as your borrower profile is strong you should be able to avoid any incremental out-of-pocket costs.

But if you want to take a conservative approach, consider the following:

Choose a standard charge mortgage if it really bothers you, and if you have a choice of lenders.

Or, when given the option, just register the collateral charge mortgage for the actual face amount of the mortgage, rather than a much larger amount.

In closing, Woodhouse has some sage advice: “It is perhaps a key consideration that one should in fact not have all their banking, credit cards and small loans with the same institution as their mortgage…mortgage with Lender A, consumer debt/trade lines with Lender B, and perhaps any business accounts with Lender C.”

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends – ROSS TAYLOR  

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A first-time homebuyer’s guide to getting pre-approved for a mortgage

Many Canadians might want to start their homebuying journey by contacting a realtor and scoping out open houses, but their first step should actually start in a lender’s office. The mission: To get a mortgage pre-approval. In this process, a potential mortgage lender looks at your finances to figure out the maximum amount they can lend you and what interest rates are available to you.

Lisa Okun, a Toronto-based mortgage broker, recommends getting a pre-approval right out of the gates. “You need to understand the financing piece before you start shopping. Through the process of getting a pre-approval letter, you will also get your ducks in a row,” says Okun.

Make yourself house proud.

The key benefits to getting a pre-approval are that you’ll have a ballpark figure for the maximum mortgage you can qualify for and your lender can estimate your monthly mortgage payments. You’ll also be able to lock in an interest rate for up to 120 days. This means if interest rates go up in the months following your pre-approval, most lenders will honour the lower rate that they initially qualified you for.

That said, pre-approvals have some limitations. Okun breaks it all down here.

Photo: James Bombales

Let’s start with the basics. Where do you get a pre-approval?

Mortgages are available from several types of lenders like banks, mortgage companies and credit unions. If you’re getting a traditional mortgage, you can get pre-approved by one of Canada’s major banks or through a mortgage broker or agent. A bank will only be able to offer you mortgage products under their umbrella. Mortgage brokers and agents don’t actually lend the money directly to you. Instead, they arrange the transactions by finding a lender for you and then get a commission from the sale. Unlike a bank, brokers and agents have access to dozens of mortgage products.
Not all mortgage brokers have access to the same products, so it’s important to shop around, do your research, and compare interest rates and products before you settle on ‘the one’. Even half a percentage point can make a massive difference in the size of your monthly payments and the total interest you’ll pay over the life of your mortgage.

Photo: James Bombales 

Your pre-approval is not a guarantee.

With a pre-approval, your lender is approving you. With a final approval, they will be approving the property you intend to buy, along with ensuring your finances haven’t changed since you were initially given the green light.

“A lender is always going to reserve the right to approve you on a live transaction,” says Okun. “Let’s say someone’s credit score dropped in the six months that they were shopping. That could change things. Now, I may have to assess you at a lower debt servicing ratio.”

In addition to the possibility of your financial snapshot changing, the lender may not like the property you want to buy (remember, as the primary investor, it’s their house too). “If they believe they would have trouble unloading that property in the event of a default, they may not go for it,” says Okun. “For condos, many have minimum square footage requirements. If there’s an environmental issue, they may have concerns about that. Or if they decide that you overpaid for it, they might only be willing to finance the property to a certain amount. Then it’s up to the client to decide if they want to come up with the difference, or if they want to walk away from that property.”

Photo: Helloquence on Unsplash

What do lenders require for a pre-approval?

Whether you go to a bank,mortgage broker or agent, you will need to provide documentation that shows your current assets (whether it’s a car, a cottage, stocks, etc.), your income and employment status, and what percentage of your income will go towards paying your total debts.

Proof of employment

Your lender or broker may ask you to provide a current pay stub or letter from your employer stating your title, salary, whether you’re a full-time or part-time employee, and how long you’ve been with the organization.

If you’re self-employed, your lender will need to see your taxes from the last two years (Notices of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency). “Ideally, it’s going to show two years of working at the same business,” says Okun. “If you had one venture and then you abandoned it and you started something new, that’s not going to show as well as if you’ve had the business for three years and your income has steadily increased.”

If you are currently employed, this is not the best time to switch up your resume. “If someone is full-time employed and they just started in a new job, I can still use a job letter and paystub,” says Okun. “But ideally, I want it to say they’re not on probation. Not to say that would kill it but it’s a bit easier if they aren’t.”

If you’ve recently switched jobs, your lender may ask to see your tax returns from previous years to confirm that you’ve had continuous employment and have stayed within a relative income bracket.

Photo: James Bombales

Proof of downpayment

Your lender will want to have an understanding of how liquid your downpayment is. “I usually don’t ask for a history of the funds when we’re discussing pre-approval, but I will ask a lot of questions about where the funds are and how accessible they are,” says Okun. This could include details on whether you’re waiting for an inheritance or gifted funds, selling stocks or other investments, or corralling funds spread across multiple accounts.

Your lender should also have a conversation with you about closing costs, moving costs and ongoing maintenance costs to ensure you’re prepared for the total cost of owning the house you’re approved for.

Credit score

Before you meet with a lender to get a pre-approval, order a copy of your credit report and review it for any errors.

If you don’t have a good credit score, the mortgage lender may refuse to approve your mortgage, decide to approve it for a lower amount or at a higher interest rate, only consider your application if you have a large downpayment, or require that someone co-sign with you on the mortgage.

Your credit score will also have an impact on how much mortgage you qualify for. Lenders figure this out by looking at what percentage of your income will go towards your housing costs and total debts (including housing). If your credit score is higher, you are allocated the maximum percentage allowance, which means you get more house for your money. “If your credit score is above 680, the limit for your gross debt service ratio (GDS) is 39 percent and total debt service ratio (TDS) is 44 percent,” says Okun. More on that below.

Photo: James Bombales

Calculating your total monthly housing costs and total debt load.

Your gross debt service (GDS) ratio encompasses your monthly mortgage payments, property tax, heating and 50 percent of condo fees (if applicable). This is sometimes referred to as PITH (Principal, Interest, Taxes and Heating).

Your lender will also do a calculation called total debt service ratio (TDS) that determines what percentage of your income is going towards servicing your total debts (including the housing debts you’ll be taking on).

To calculate your TDS, add up PITH and every other debt you have including car loans, credit cards, lines of credit, student loans, etc. Then see how that stacks up against your income.

The guidelines state your GDS should be no more than 32 percent and your TDS should be no more than 40 percent. However, as mentioned above, if you have a fabulous credit score you can stretch this maximum to 39 percent for GDS and 44 percent for TDS.

You might be wondering how your lender can calculate your property taxes when there isn’t a property in question. To do this they set aside one percent of the forecasted purchase price. On a $600,000 property, this amount would work out to $6,000 a year. “It’s not going to be that much but that’s the calculation your lender will use,” says Okun. That’s why it’s a good idea to run the numbers with your lenders every time you find a property of interest so they reflect your actual affordability.

Photo: James Bombales

Levers you can pull if you aren’t pre-approved for the amount you want.

Maybe your affordability isn’t reaching as high as you’d like. In this case, there are a few levers you can pull. One option is to go with a “B lender” — an institution that offers a lower barrier to entry to qualify for their products. The only problem is that this can often be offset with higher interest rates and fees.

“There are B lenders that would have different debt servicing ratios, and will let us push those numbers a little bit further,” says Okun. “But you’re going to pay a higher interest rate and there’s going to be a one percent fee to do your deal with them.” Say your mortgage is $800,000. Prepare to be dinged at least $8,000. And it’s not just a one-time fee — if you have to renew, they’ll ding you again.

“There’s always a solution, but you have to ask yourself, ‘Is it worth it and how much is it going to cost?’” says Okun.

Another suggestion Okun shares is to add a cosigner. With an extra income, you’ll have access to a higher purchasing price. “You’re also going to be taking that person’s liabilities onto the application now, so they have to be a good applicant in terms of their debt,” she says.

You could also contribute more to your downpayment to ensure you’re putting down at least 20 percent. This will give you access to a 30-year amortization, instead of a 25-year (this is the amount of time you’re given to pay your mortgage back in full). “This stretches your loan over 30 years instead of 25 which changes the payment significantly,” says Okun. “That allows you to essentially afford more.” Another strategy is to pay off significant debts so they aren’t tipping your debt servicing ratios over the edge.

Where there’s a will (and a patient lender), there is often a way.

 

Source: Livabl.com –  

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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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Mortgages: A Brief History

Mortgages: A Brief History

​Fun facts on how mortgage loans have evolved through the years.

Taking on a mortgage is the most common way Ontarians can get a piece of the housing market – and has been for a long time. The mortgage industry dates back hundreds of years. But while the purpose of these loans has stayed the same, they’ve evolved from a simple repayment plan to a much more complex financial transaction.
Mortgages originated in England when people did not have the resources to purchase land in one transaction. Buyers would get loans directly from the seller – no banks or outside parties were involved. Unlike today, purchasers were not able to live on the land until the entire amount was paid. And, if they failed to keep up with payments, they would forfeit their right to the land as well as any prior payments they made to the seller.
By the 1900s most mortgages involved long-term loans where only monthly interest was paid while the borrower saved towards repayment of the original sum. Major world events, like the Great Depression of the 1920s and the two World Wars however, led to many borrowers being unable to repay even the interest on a property that was often now worth less than their original loan, and many lenders carrying a loan that was not secured by the value of the property.
This resulted in the introduction of long-term fully amortized mortgages that repaid some of the principal and some of the interest each month in a payment that was fixed for upwards of 25 years.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) was created in 1946 to administer the National Housing Act and today sells mandatory mortgage loan insurance when the buyer is putting less than 20 per cent down on the price of their new home. Mortgage loan insurance compensates lenders when borrowers default on their mortgage loans.
The rise of inflation in the 1970s altered mortgages into the products we know now. As interest rates climbed, lenders and borrowers found themselves locked into fully amortized loans that didn’t reflect interest rate changes. The creation of the partially amortized mortgage, which protects both lenders and borrowers from fluctuations in the market, mean that instead of 20- to 30-year terms, one, three or five-year terms amortized across 20 to 25 years have become a better option. Partially amortized mortgages are now one of the most common mortgage types in Canada.
Making the down payment for a mortgage easier to attain, the Home Buyer’s Plan, which allows Canadians to withdraw money from their Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) on a tax-free basis to buy a home, was introduced by the Canadian government in 1992.
On July 1, 2008, under the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006 [New Window], the Government of Ontario has required all businesses and individuals who conduct mortgage brokering activities in the province to be licensed with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). Mortgage brokers and agents play a big role in the mortgage process, with 51 per cent of first-time home buyers using their services according to a 2016 CMHC survey. Under the Act, all mortgage brokers and agents need to meet specific education, experience, and suitability requirements with the goal of increased consumer protection, competition and professionalism in the industry.
Mortgages have evolved from repayments that provided protection and benefits only for the landowner, to a system in which both the borrower and the lender can enter into the transaction with confidence.
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Why a 20% home down payment may not be worth it

Source: The Globe and Mail – Rob Carrick

Rob Carrick

It’s tough to feel financially prudent when buying a house these days.

That’s why an increasing number of first-time buyers are saving a down payment of 20 per cent or more. In doing so, they avoid having to buy mortgage default insurance which, in the case of a house price of $487,095 (the national average) bought with a 10 per cent down payment, would be 3.1 per cent or $13,590. This premium is generally added to the mortgage, which means more interest to pay.

It certainly sounds financially prudent to make a 20-per-cent down payment where possible, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, you may save money both now and in the future by making a slightly smaller down payment and taking on the cost of mortgage default insurance.

Listen up if you’re concerned about the new mortgage lending rules that were announced last week and will take effect on Jan. 1. When making a down payment of 20 per cent or more, the new rules require that you be able to qualify for a mortgage at the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada, or the original contractual rate plus two percentage points. An easier path to a mortgage may be to make a smaller down payment.

To even propose this seems bizarre. “The story has been that you’re just throwing money away with mortgage insurance,” said Mike Bricknell, a mortgage agent with CanWise Financial. What this thinking ignores is the way today’s mortgage market discriminates against people who make down payments of 20 per cent or more. They may pay a fair bit more for a mortgage than someone with a high-ratio mortgage (down payment of less than 20 per cent) both now and on renewal.

A lender dealing with a client who has a sub-20 per cent down payment can take comfort from the fact that the loan is covered by government-backed insurance that is paid for by the borrower. A conventional mortgage (20 per cent or more) can be insured as well, but by the lender. All in all, a high-ratio mortgage is preferable from the lender’s point of view and often results in a lower mortgage rate.

Mr. Bricknell has lately found that rates on five-year fixed rate mortgages are about 0.45 of a percentage point less for high ratio as opposed to conventional mortgages. Maybe your lender can do better than that. If not, consider this example of how a down payment less than 20 per cent can pay off.

We start with a $450,000 house and a buyer with a 20-per-cent down payment already saved. With a conventional mortgage amortized over 25 years, Mr. Bricknell figures this person could get a five-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.29 per cent. That means a monthly payment of $1,758.

Now, let’s see what happens when this borrower makes a 19-per-cent down payment. A smaller down payment means borrowing a bit more, and thus more interest over the life of the mortgage. Also, mortgage insurance will be required at a cost of $10,206. All of this nets out to a monthly payment of $1,743, with the mortgage insurance premium included. How is this possible? Mr. Bricknell said it’s because the high-ratio borrower gets a mortgage rate of 2.84 per cent.

There’s a stress test for high-ratio mortgages as well, but it’s marginally less onerous than it is for conventional mortgages because you only have to be able to handle the Bank of Canada benchmark rate, currently 4.89 per cent. Thus the high-ratio mortgage in Mr. Bricknell’s example would have a qualifying rate of 4.89 per cent and the conventional mortgage would be at 5.29 per cent (the client’s actual rate plus two percentage points).

The two mortgages outlined by Mr. Bricknell are pretty much a wash right now when compared on cost. Looking ahead, the high-ratio mortgage offers the potential for lower interest rates when it’s time to renew your mortgage. This assumes that lenders will continue to look more favourably at high-ratio mortgages.

Mortgage industry data show that even as house prices increased from the early 2000s through the past few years, the percentage of people making down payments of less than 20 per cent has declined to 39 per cent from 54 per cent. If the rationale for this is to save money and be financially prudent, a rethink is required. Depending on the rates offered by your lender, a slightly smaller down payment could save you money in the long run.

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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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CMHC explores cutting red tape for self employed borrowers

The national housing agency is exploring ways to make it easier for entrepreneurs and new immigrants to buy a home by cutting some of the red tape required to prove they can afford to pay the mortgage.

“Right now, under our mortgage insurance policies, you have to be able to document income to get mortgage insurance, to a level of specificity that discriminates against new Canadians, because they can’t do that,” Evan Siddall, the CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said in a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press.

“It discriminates against entrepreneurs, as well, because they can’t prove their income as well, so we’re looking at our own policies to try and make sure that there is more equity in our mortgage insurance programs,” he said.

Anyone who wants to buy a home in Canada without a down payment of at least 20 per cent of the purchase price is usually required to get mortgage loan insurance from the CMHC, which requires a smaller down payment of five per cent on a home worth up to $500,000.

A 10-per-cent down payment is required for the portion of the price over $500,000, with $1 million being the maximum property value allowed.

The mortgage insurance comes with a premium, which the lender will then pass on to the person buying the home.

Borrowers need to satisfy lenders they will be able to make their mortgage payments, which usually means providing proof of employment and a few pay stubs. But that can be tricky for people who just started their own business.

It can also be a barrier to those whose employment history has gaps for other reasons, such as having recently immigrated to Canada.

People who are self-employed, for example, usually need to provide notices of assessment for the previous two years. Their income is determined by averaging those two years, although the most recent year can be used if it has increased annually for at least four years.

They also need to have been doing the same type of work for at least two years.

Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said more flexibility would be welcome, especially for startups.

“If one starts a business or is self-employed, the lines between their personal and business finances are often quite blurry,” said Kelly.

“Often, their personal assets are required to get financing for the business. But then they also have a challenge getting financing on the personal side, because they don’t have the nice, clean letter of offer from an employer that is often quite convincing in these situations,” he said.

Any relaxation of the rules would naturally increase the risk. So Siddall said the agency is looking at how to manage that, including different ways to document income, and higher premiums.

“Can we charge for that risk? Better to charge that risk than not to make it available,” he said.

Jack Fiorillo, a broker with TMG The Mortgage Group in Woodbridge, Ont., said he expects the CMHC to be fairly conservative on this front.

“It will be a very small sandbox that CMHC will play in, probably at the beginning, and then maybe if once their risk appetite increases, maybe they can expand that box,” said Fiorillo.

He said he expects the potential change to make it easier for a relatively small number of self-employed people to get a mortgage, and they will likely have to pay higher interest rates.

The CMHC said it has been compiling data on how many would-be homeowners have their mortgage applications rejected for these reasons, but cannot disclose those numbers right now because it is based on conversations with commercial lenders.

“We are still doing research and development to move this forward,” CMHC spokesman Jonathan Rotondo said in an email.

Siddall said the Crown corporation has raised the idea with its board and expects to announce something within the next six months.

Source: The Canadian Press

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