Category Archives: #mortgagesmadesimple

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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The Benefits and Risks of Co-Signing for a Mortgage

 

Thanks to tighter mortgage qualification rules and higher-priced real estateparticularly in the greater Vancouver and Toronto areasit’s not always easy to qualify for a mortgage on your own merits.

You may very well have a great job, a decent income, a husky down payment and perfect credit, but that still may not be enough.

When a lender crunches the numbers, their calculations may indicate too much of your income is needed to service core homeownership expenses such as your mortgage payment, property taxes, heating and condo maintenance fees (if applicable).

In mortgage-speak, this means your debt service ratios are too high and you will need some extra help to qualify. But you do have options.

A co-signer can make all the difference

A mortgage co-signer can come in handy for many reasons, including when applicants have a soft or blemished credit history. But these days, it seems insufficient income supporting the mortgage application is the primary culprit.

We naturally tend to think of co-signers as parents. But there are also instances where children co-sign for their retired/unemployed parents. Siblings and spouses often help out too. It’s also possible for more than one person to co-sign a mortgage. A co-signer is likely to be approved when the lender is satisfied he/she will help lessen the risk associated with loan repayment.

Under the microscope

When you bring a co-signer into the picture, you are also taking their entire personal finances into consideration. It’s not just a simple matter of checking their credit.

Your mortgage lender is going to need a full application from them in order to grasp their financial picture, including information on all properties they own, any debts they are servicing and all of their own housing obligations. Your co-signer will go through the wringer much like you have.

What makes a strong co-signer?

The lender’s focus is mainly centred around a co-signer’s income coupled with a decent credit history. Some people think that if they have tons of equity in their home (high net worth) they will be great co-signers. But if they are primarily relying on CPP and OAS while living mortgage free, this is not going to help you qualify for a mortgage.

The best co-signer will offer strengths you currently lack when filling out a mortgage application on your own. For instance, if your income is preventing you from qualifying, find a co-signer with strong income. Or, if your issue is insufficient credit, bring a co-signer on board who has healthy credit.

Co-signer options

There are typically two different ways a co-signer can take shape:

  1. The co-signer becomes a co-borrower. This is like having a partner or spouse buy the home alongside a primary applicant. This involves adding the support of another person’s credit history and income to the application. The co-signer is placed on the title of the home and the lender considers this person equally responsible for the debtif the mortgage goes into default.
  2. The co-signer becomes a guarantor. In this scenario, he/she is backing the loan and vouching you’ll pay it back on time. The guarantor is responsible for the loan if it goes into default. Not many lenders process applications with guarantors, as they prefer all parties to share in the ownership. But some people want to avoid co-ownership for tax or estate planning purposes (more on this later).

gifting moneyNine things to keep in mind as a co-signee

  1. It is a rare privilege to find someone who is willing to co-sign for you. Make sure you are deserving of their trust and support.
  2. It is NOT your responsibility to co-sign for anyone. Carefully think about the character and stability of the people asking for your help, and if there is any chance you may need your own financial flexibility down the road, think twice before possibly shooting yourself in the foot.
  3. Ask for copies of all paperwork and be sure you fully understand the terms before signing.
  4. If you co-sign or act as a guarantor, you are entrusting your personal credit history to the primary borrowers. Late payments hurt both of you, so I recommend you have full access to all mortgage and tax account information to spot signs of trouble the instant they occur.
  5. Understand your legal, tax and even your estate’s position when considering becoming a co-signer. You are taking on a potentially large obligation that could cripple you financially if the borrower(s) cannot pay.
  6. A prudent co-signer may insist the primary applicants have disability insurance protecting the mortgage payments in the event of an income disruption due to poor health. Some will also insist on life insurance.
  7. Try to understand upfront how many years the co-borrower agreement will be in place, and whether you can change things mid-term if the borrower becomes able to assume the original mortgage on their own.
  8. There can be implications with respect to your personal income taxes. You may accumulate an obligation to pay capital gains taxes down the road. This should be discussed this with your tax accountant.
  9. Co-signing impacts Land Transfer Tax Rebates for first-time homebuyers. The rebate amount is reduced based on the percentage of ownership attributed to the co-signer.

Tips from a real estate lawyer

broker tipsWe spoke with Gord Mohan, an Ontario real estate lawyer, for unique insights based on his 22 years of experience.

“The cleanest way to deal with these situations is for the third party (which is typically a parent) to guarantee the main applicant’s mortgage debt obligation,” Mohan says. “This does not require the guarantor to appear on the title to the property, and so it prevents most later complications.”

Following are five key suggestions from Mohan:

  • Co-signers should seek independent legal advice to ensure they fully understand their obligations and rights.
  • All parties should have updated wills to address their intentions upon death and give their executor clear direction with respect to their ownership.
  • Many co-signers try to minimize future tax impact by opting for 1% ownership and having a private agreement that the borrowers will indemnify them or make them full owners if there is a tax bite down the road.
  • Some co-signers try to avoid future tax consequences completely by having their real estate lawyer draw up a “bare trust agreement”, which spells out that the co-signer has zero beneficial interest in the property.
  • A bare trust agreement can come in handy for the Land Transfer Tax (LTT) rebate,enabling the co-signer to apply for a refund from the Ministry of Finance – LTT bulletin.

Source – Canadian Mortgage Trends – ROSS TAYLOR 

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Everything you need to know about CMHC’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

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The federal government wants to make home ownership more affordable for young people and to do that it’s introducing the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) this September. The $1.25 billion program, announced as part of the March federal budget, involves the government buying equity stakes in homes purchased by qualified home buyers, allowing for smaller mortgages that will keep monthly payments lower.

But how will the plan work? Below, we break down all the key details and take a look at who this new program is right for.

How the FTHBI works

The program will be administered by Canada’s housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), which will pay 5% of the purchase price for an existing home, and up to 10% for the value of a new home, in exchange for an equity stake. Once the homeowner sells, they’re obligated to repay the CMHC.

The fine print includes the following:

  • To qualify, you must be a first-time home buyer.
  • Buyers must have a down payment of at least 5% of the total purchase price, up to 20%.
  • The household’s income must be under $120,000, and the mortgage and incentive amount together can’t be more than four times the household income.
  • Only insured mortgages will be eligible, meaning this will be restricted to those with a down payment worth less than 20% of the purchase price.
  • Buyers will not be exempt from federal “stress test” regulations (a mandatory mortgage qualification using the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the customer’s mortgage interest rate plus 2%)

Who is this for?

The program is for purchasers looking for a starter home but aren’t able to afford the monthly payments needed for a mortgage below $500,000. To qualify for mortgages in the $400,000 – $500,000 range, the household income would have to be close to six figures. Buyers would have to be willing to give up at least 5% of the value of their home to the federal government in exchange for lower monthly payments.

As an example, a couple earning up to the household income cap of $120,000 with a down payment of 5% on a new home would be entitled to an additional $48,000 provided by CMHC, as below:

Couple earning $120,000
$480,000 total purchase
-$24,000 down payment
-$48,000 matched by CMHC (10% for a new home)
= $408,000 mortgage

As both the household income and total purchase price are capped under the program, it’s worth noting that buyers with good credit and low debt might actually be able to borrow more money than the FTHBI would allow.

In this scenario, “the program forces you to buy less home than you otherwise would be able to. Whether consumers are disciplined enough to take part of that or not is the real question,” says Paul Taylor, president and CEO of Mortgage Professionals of Canada.

Buyers in the program will also want to consider the future value of their home over time. Is the neighborhood likely to increase in value? With a 5-10% equity stake in the home, CMHC will be along for the ride, both in the case of depreciation or appreciated value of the home.

“Vancouver North Shore is a great example. Now, it’s very much an outlier but if you bought the home in 1986 for $250,000 it’s probably worth $4 million now,” says Taylor.

Comparing markets

The most expensive home you can buy would be about $565,000 a government official told the CBC, which all but disqualifies purchases of detached homes or upscale condos in downtown Vancouver and Toronto. For example, the average home price in the Greater Toronto Area as of May 2019 was $838,540, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

CMHC acknowledged earlier this year that the average home in these markets won’t be within reach.

“It may not be a condo in Yaletown or a house in Riverdale, but there are options in both metropolitan areas to accommodate this program,” CMHC said in a press release in April. “In fact, around 23% of transactions in Toronto are for homes under $500,000 and 10% in Vancouver.”

This means that potential buyers will want to be comfortable living in the outer suburbs like Langley or Surrey in Vancouver, or Brampton and Mississauga in Toronto.

Recent residential listings for $472,000 (the average price for a home in Canada) 
*Compiled using listings found on Realtor.ca during the week of May 26th

Downtown Toronto Less than 30 listings
Downtown Vancouver Less than 100 listings
Calgary More than 600 listings
Winnipeg More than 2,000 listings

The program would seem to favour first-time buyers in smaller cities across Canada, at least when comparing options for buyers that tend to want to live in large cities downtown.

What you get for $490,000-$505,000

While this program can get you property up to $565,000 if you put the maximum down payment allowed for an insured mortgage (about 19.99%), we expect many who use this program will have the minimum 5% down payment and are looking to get into the property market sooner with help from the CMHC.

Based on that idea, we’ve compiled a look at some properties you can get in four major housing markets in Canada in the $490,000 to $505,000 price range. Take a look.

In Toronto: No houses listed but one-bedroom condos are available, typically 600-1,000 sq feet. Condos have more rooms and additional bathrooms as you get away from the city core. There is almost no supply below $300,000.

Here’s an example of what you might be able to get in the downtown core (one bedroom) in that price range.

 

 

In Vancouver: No houses listed but one-bedroom condos are available, typically 600-1,000 sq feet. More rooms and additional bathrooms as you get away from the city core.

Here’s an example of what you might be able to get (one bedroom).

In Calgary: You can find listings for two-bedroom bungalow houses downtown, along with two-bedroom condos over 900 square feet.

Here’s an example.

In Winnipeg: Limited supply at this price range. Detached houses are available however, with two-plus stories and multiple rooms. Large condos over 1,000 sq feet are available closer to a $300,00 price point.

Here’s an example.

Listing photos courtesy of Realtor.ca.

Source – LowestRates.ca –  Mike Winters on June 17, 2019

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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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A first-time buyer’s guide to choosing a mortgage plan that’s right for you

I used to think I had a pretty good understanding of mortgages — you contribute a downpayment (a minimum of five percent of the property value if you’re in Canada) and someone (usually a bank) lends you the rest. If you fail to pay your mortgage back, your lender can take your house away. Ouch.

When I started looking into buying a cottage, I realized my mortgage knowledge fell seriously short (by the way, the cottage is the inspiration behind our brand new newsletter called The Ladder, about the climb on and up the property ladder). Early on, I jumped on an online calculator and immediately had a lot of questions. How can these interest rates vary so wildly? What is a fixed versus variable mortgage? What does amortization mean? If I put down less than 20 percent will terrible things happen to me and everyone I love? They don’t teach this stuff in school and I learned there is no one-size-fits-all mortgage plan that will work for everyone.

Photo: Romain Toornier 

Enter Matt Yakabuski, an Ontario-based mortgage broker — here to break it all down and help you, me, all of us— understand the variables to help pick the best mortgage plan. If you’re Oprah, or just won the lottery — feel free to stop reading. Everyone else, buckle in!

And if you’re curious, I’ll be sharing more about my cottage mortgage in the next newsletter, landing in your inbox on Wednesday, April 3rd — sign up here!

Um, where do I get a mortgage?

Mortgages usually come from either a bank or a broker.

Think of your mortgage broker as your personal mortgage shopper — they are provincially licensed professionals who have access to multiple lenders, including all of the major banks. They will listen to your needs and goals, analyze the numbers, help you through the qualifying process and find a mortgage product that fits just so.

“Online, you’ll get an idea of what the rates are generally, but they vary based on the downpayment amount, the location, your credit, your income and more. No two deals are alike, no two clients are alike, no two properties are alike,” says Yakabuski.

Banks are trusted, federally regulated lenders that can only access and offer you their own rates and products. You can also get a mortgage from a credit union (an increasingly popular option ever since the mortgage stress test was introduced) or a non-traditional Mortgage Investment Corporation. MICs are typically used by Canadians who have not qualified with traditional lenders and are willing to gobble higher interest rates to get into the property game.

Photo: CreditRepairExpert

How do I qualify for a mortgage?

To qualify for a mortgage, you have to prove to your lender that you can afford it and have a steady stream of income to keep up with payments. They will take a look at your income before taxes, living expenses, your credit score and all of the debts you carry. They will also look at your downpayment amount and the terms of your mortgage.

“Your debt servicing ratio is the main measure we use to qualify people for their mortgage,” says Yakabuski. “Depending on your credit score, you’re allowed to put a maximum of 44 percent of your total income towards debt servicing. This covers your mortgage, your property tax, credit card bills, car loans and any lines of credit.” If your debt eats up more than 44 percent of your income, you won’t be approved by traditional lenders.

Will I pass the mortgage stress test?

As of January 1st, 2018, you also have to pass the mortgage stress test — a calculation used by federally regulated lenders to determine if homebuyers can keep up with their mortgage payments if interest rates were to rise. If you can demonstrate that you can withstand your mortgage at the Bank of Canada’s benchmark qualifying rate (at 5.34 percent at the time of writing) or your interest rate plus two points — whichever amount is greater — you pass.

The mortgage stress test has reduced purchasing power by just under 20 percent. But as Yakabuski puts it, “If interest rates do go up, you know you can afford it.”

Photo: adventures_of_pippa_and_clark/Instagram

Should I take the biggest loan I can get?

Your lender will tell you the maximum loan you can qualify for (and they can help you find ways to increase that amount). But the maximum isn’t necessarily the loan you should take.

“Instead of my clients asking me what they can afford, I ask them what they’re comfortable spending on a monthly basis on their mortgage, property tax, heat, hydro, that kind of thing. And then we’ll work backwards,” explains Yakabuski.

Everyone has different comfort levels. “Some people are conservative and some people just want to hit their maximum,” he says. In the end, it all comes down to budgeting and making sure you don’t completely wipe out your bank account and end up house poor. If you have to beg your in-laws to cover the closing costs, can’t afford to hire movers or even get the nice coffee beans you like — you may want to consider getting less house than you can actually qualify for, but more financial freedom.

Photo: mandimakes/Instagram

Finding the “best rate” is not as easy as it looks

You may have seen a low rate on a website or on the window at the bank, but not every rate is for you and you have to read the fine print. There are rates for refinancing, rates for rental properties, rates if you’re putting more than 20 percent down (uninsured) and rates if you’re putting less (insured), and on and on.

“Your friend who got a 2.49 percent interest rate six months ago, sorry to say — that’s just not available today — and even if it was, it doesn’t mean you could have gotten it. If you find a rate that seems like a much better deal than everywhere else, there’s probably a reason for that,” explains Yakabuski.

For example, restricted mortgages, which often have lower rates but inflict painful penalties if you break them and prohibit you from refinancing elsewhere before your term is up. “If I sell you a restricted mortgage and then in two years, you have to sell the property, I don’t want to say, ‘Sorry, your penalty is going to be triple the amount of a regular penalty because it was a restricted deal.’ Anyone who is looking out for your best interest is going to take into consideration the portability of the mortgage.”

Photo: James Bombales

How long should my term and amortization be?

The term you choose will have a direct impact on your mortgage rate and how long you’re locked in to the rate, lender, and various terms and conditions of your mortgage product.

“A shorter term length has historically proven to have a lower interest rate. Right now, not so much,” explains Yakabuski. Terms can range from six months to 10 years. “Most people choose a five-year because it’s often the longest term for the best rate.”

Your mortgage amortization period is the length of time it will take you to pay off your entire loan. In Canada, the maximum amortization period is 35 years — but you’ll only have access to this timeframe if you’re putting down more than 20 percent. If you’re putting down less than 20 percent and have an insured mortgage, the maximum amortization period is 25 years.

If you go with a longer amortization period, you will have smaller monthly payments, but keep in mind: you’ll pay more in the long run in interest over the life of your mortgage.

Depending on your mortgage commitment, lenders will only allow you to pay so much extra towards a mortgage before they start penalizing you. How’s it’s calculated depends on the product you’re in and what lender you’re with, but in many cases you will have the opportunity to make lump-sum payments towards your mortgage, to double up payments or to increase the payment amount.

“I suggest taking the highest amortization possible, but if you have the affordability to pay more, make sure you do,” says Yakabuski. “Even with a longer amortization, you effectively could pay at the rate of a 15- or 20-year amortization, saving you thousands of dollars in interest by paying the principal off that much quicker. But should your financial situation change, you could scale back your payments all the way to the 25-year if you have to.”

Photo: James Bombales

Should I get a fixed or variable mortgage?

Fixed mortgages mean the rate you settle on will be your rate for the entire term of your mortgage. A variable rate is going to fluctuate based on what the prime rate is doing (at the time of writing, it’s currently sitting at 3.95 percent). If the prime rate goes down, your rate and payment will go down and vice versa. With a variable rate, there is often an opportunity to save money, but you have to be comfortable with some risk.

Choosing the right strategy often comes down to flexibility. Many Canadians default to a five-year fixed rate mortgage, but if there’s a possibility you may be moving on before then, the penalty for breaking the term can get costly, whereas a variable mortgage will cost you three months of interest.

“Variable is a good option because they traditionally have a lower interest rate and you have flexibility should you need to get rid of it quicker with the smallest penalty possible,” says Yakabuski.

Should I go for an open or closed mortgage?

Let’s say you come into a large inheritance and want to pay off your mortgage in full or you unexpectedly have to ditch your property before the term is up.

With a closed mortgage, you cannot repay, renew or renegotiate before the term is up without incurring penalties. With an open mortgage, you can do all of the above without penalty — but the interest rates are often much higher.

“I rarely recommend an open mortgage, even when people say they’re going to flip the property,” says Yakabuski. “The reason is because an open mortgage right now has an interest rate of about six percent (all open terms are variable). Whereas the interest on a closed, variable mortgage is, let’s say, three percent less. If you’re going to sell the place inside two, maybe three months, then open makes sense. But if you’re going to keep it for four months plus, generally the three-month interest penalty on breaking a closed, variable mortgage can save you thousands in just six months.”

Photo: alyssacloud_/Instagram

Now for the fun part — finding a home

Before you even start looking at properties, it’s important to get your finances in order so you can crunch the numbers when you do find places you like. You’ve saved for a downpayment, qualified for a loan and have chosen a mortgage plan that is right for you. You’re officially a mortgage badass and it’s time to start house hunting. You’ve got this.

Source: Livabl.com –  

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What are the Best Mississauga Neighbourhoods to Invest in?

 

Source: Insauga.com – by Kim Kubath on October 29, 2017

With property values steadily escalating in Mississauga, it makes sense that investors (from all over) are interested in buying up valuable pieces of real estate. While the entire city is generally a good investment, each neighbourhood is different and some will suit different investor needs.

So, if you want to purchase an investment unit, which neighbourhoods are best and why?

Basically, Mississauga is a fantastic city to purchase an investment unit in. Amenities are growing, transit is abundant, and you can get more for your money compared to more expensive cities like Toronto.

Neighbourhoods close to transit (highways, GO Bus and Train,and MiWay) are great places to start and Meadowvale and Clarkson are examples of this. Investment units vary from mature detached houses to semis and towns. There are lots of amenities (such as shopping) in these areas and they are also family friendly, offering great schools and parks.

Churchill Meadows and Hurontario and East Credit (south of Derry in the Heartland area) also offer lots of amenities, parks and schools, with newer detached, semi, and town homes. These homes make good investment units as they tend to have more space for basement apartments (which are common in these neighbourhoods).

City Centre is another good area to invest in, especially if you are looking to purchase a condo. Whether it is one of the brand new buildings or an established one, City Centre offers a first time investor an opportunity to get into the market on a more modest budget (one bedroom or two bedroom units are significantly more affordable than a house). City Centre also attracts a greater variety of renters, including families, students and single professionals. Amenities and transit are also at the doorstep, making it an attractive location for a larger variety of renters.

Now, if you want to purchase a home or unit to live in, other considerations are important.

Mississauga is currently seeing record prices in all neighbourhoods. I often tell my clients that any neighbourhood in this city is worth purchasing in, but I think it is important to determine what must-haves suit you most.

If you are looking for great schools and parks, then Erin Mills, East Credit/Hurontario and Churchill Meadows are popular and family oriented. Streetsville and Lorne Park have also traditionally been great neighbourhoods to live in given their charm and consistently increasing market values.

If you want to invest in more expensive neighbourhoods, it’s good to look at Lorne Park, Mineola, Erindale (Mississauga Road), Port Credit and Streetsville. If you want to spend less, more affordable neighbourhoods include Malton, Cooksville, Sheridan, Meadowvale and Clarkson.

If you want to invest in a more affordable neighbourhood, you could be making a wise decision.

Malton, for example, offers close proximity to Toronto. As an investor looking to get into the rental market, these areas offer opportunities to purchase homes that are still more affordable than other neighbourhoods in the city. Some investors want to buy homes that need renovations and then sell them for profit, while other investors want to rent the property for several years.

Where do you invest if you want to rent your place out indefinitely?

Areas close to transit and amenities are key for having good tenant turnover. City Centre, East Credit, Cooksville, Meadowvale and Lisgar all provide these features. City Centre is walking distance to all major conveniences and at the moment, due to Sheridan College, has many interested students looking for rental units.

Investors may also want to stay tuned to developments with the incoming LRT. At the moment, there are many residents relying on transit in Cooksville and the LRT will provide another option for these commuters. It will be a benefit to property owners and potential landlords alike.

If you want to invest in Mississauga, there really are no bad neighbourhoods—you just have to choose the one that best suits your needs.

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