Category Archives: self employed buyers

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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How to read your mortgage documents

(Freeimages.com / Evan Earwicker)

A snapshot of typical mortgage documents and a few tips on what to watch out for

Thomas Bruner was a well-informed and financially savvy shopper. Thank goodness. Because his bank made errors in his mortgage documents. Big errors.

It was late 2015 and Bruner and his wife, Leslie, were in the process of selling their North York town-home to move into a larger upper beaches family home in the east end of Toronto. (We’ve changed names to protect privacy.) As a number-cruncher, Bruner knew how important it was to shop around for the best mortgage rate and was delighted to secure a five-year fixed rate of 2.49% with his current bank. To get that rate, he’d shopped around and negotiated hard with the bank representative at his local branch. But when the purchase of the home was closer to being finalized, Bruner was transferred to a bank mortgage specialist. That’s when the problems started.

A meticulous man, Bruner read every word of the 30-page mortgage document—some of it in small, fine print, and other sections bogged down with legal jargon. An hour later, Bruner emerged stunned. His bank had made a mistake. A big mistake. A mistake that added $100s to his monthly payments and tens of thousands in interest over the life of the mortgage.

Instead of 2.49%, they’d calculated his mortgage payments based on a rate of 2.99%. The bank had also changed the rate of payments from biweekly to monthly. If he’d signed the mortgage documents without reading the package, he would’ve paid more than $4,075 in extra interest payment,over the five year term*. That’s no small change. (*Assumes a $450,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years, interest calculated based on a five-year term.)

So, Bruner called the bank’s mortgage specialist. Rather than apologize and amend the error, the mortgage rep tried to argue that this was now the going mortgage rate—the best the bank could offer. Bruner was stunned, yet again. “I argued back,” he recalls, “explaining that we had locked in our rate during the pre-approval process. We were only 40-or-so days into the 90-day rate-hold guarantee.”

Screwed by the bank?

Bruner isn’t the only one to notice problems. According to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), errors made by the banks rank No. 4 in the top 10 reasons for customer complaints. However, when asked for specific statistics on the precise number of complaints lodged, and how many of these complaints directly relate to errors in mortgage documents, an OBSI spokesperson replied that they don’t release this information. Instead, the OBSI offers very pretty spiderweb and sunburst visual representations of customer complaints.

This lack of transparency prompts the question: How many other people have been screwed by a professional working in the real estate market? (Cue the wrath of every bank, mortgage broker, home inspector, insurance agent, realtor and renovator involved in this industry.)

Still, how many of us signed a document only to realize, after the fact, that there was an extra charge? Or found an error that’s in the lender’s favour? While reading every page of every legal document we sign is the smart, prudent thing to do, truth be told very few of us understand all of what’s written in an insurance contract, mortgage document or even a purchase and sale agreement.

To help, here’s a snapshot of typical mortgage documents and a few tips on what to watch out for—keep in mind every lender have their own versions of this document, so this is meant to be illustrative only.

 

To help you process the information, consider the following.

Look for key rates and terms

mortgage documents

The pink arrow points to the mortgage interest rate that you will be charged during the duration of the loan term. Check this. Even a 10 basis point change in the rate can add up over the long haul.

The green arrow points to the length of your amortization, expressed by the number of months. Check this. Some of the biggest mortgage document errors are in how long a loan is amortized for; while a cheaper monthly rate can seem appealing, this sort of error can tack on tens of thousands of extra interest costs over time. Above this amortization rate, is your term length—how long you’re committed to pay this lender, based on the rates and terms you’ve both agreed upon. The line should also state whether you’ve agreed to a fixed, variable or open mortgage. . The type of mortgage you agree to can have serious implications on the penalties you’re charged should you opt to make an extra payment, or break your mortgage agreement. For simplicity sake, a one year mortgage is expressed as 12 months, while a five-year mortgage term is expressed as 60 months and a 25 years amortization is expressed as 300 months.

 

The three numbers in the red box reflect the monthly mortgage rate you will pay (a mixture of principal plus interest), the monthly property tax you will pay to your bank (who will then make a payment on your behalf) and the total amount you will pay based on the addition of these two amounts. If you want to double-check your lender’s math, try Dr. Karl’s Mortgage calculator.

The orange arrow is how frequently you will make payments to your lender. Check this. Not only does payment frequency help reduce the overall interest you end up paying, but to make changes after you’ve signed your document can cost you an out-of-pocket fee.

The yellow arrow is the day you first get your money and the day the interest clock starts ticking. Pay attention to this. Some lenders will charge you a larger amount for the first payment of your mortgage to cover the interest that has accrued from the Advance Date to the day you make a payment against the outstanding loan. Some lenders don’t increase the first payment, but allocate a larger portion of this payment to pay off the outstanding interest. Either way, you want to be clear about what’s being charged, and when.

Don’t forget property taxes

Mortgage documents

Under the property taxes clause you will notice that the monthly sum added to your mortgage payment is an “estimate” based on the lender’s assessment of your annual property taxes. If you don’t want to pay your property tax monthly or you want to amend how much you pay you’ll need to negotiate this with your lender.

Loan prepayment privileges can make or break a penalty

mortgage documents

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about mortgage penalty fees. You pay these penalties to your lender whenever you break the negotiated terms of your loan contract. If you have an open mortgage, there should be no penalties for pre-payments or to pay-off the entire loan before the end of the negotiated term. If you have a variable-rate mortgage, you will be charged a penalty that’s equivalent to three months of mortgage payments, plus administrative fees. If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, you will be charged a fee that’s calculated using the Interest Rate Differential calculation. This calculation is different for every lender, but it can add up, quickly.

 

Planning a reno? Read the fine print

mortgage documents

Many homebuyers are shocked to learn that they can void their home insurance policy if they undertake home modifications or renovations without first notifying the insurance company and, typically, paying an additional premium. But did you know you can also void your mortgage loan contract—and prompt a lender to recall and cancel the loan—if you obtain a mortgage and don’t disclose intended construction, alterations or renovations to the home? Read your mortgage contract carefully to see exactly what must be disclosed.

Be prepared with documentation

mortgage documents

When reading your mortgage contract the lender will typically list the type of documents you are required to submit in order to verify the information you have provided. This will include pay-stubs, Notice of Assessments for your income tax, as well as additional loan or income verification. But don’t be surprised if your lender follows up with requests for additional documentation. Typically, they cover this off with a broad statement that notifies you that any information they request must be provided. A sample of this type of statement is above, in the red square highlight.

 

Check the accuracy of the payment frequency

mortgage documents

Do you have a plan to pay off your mortgage quickly? Part of that plan may include how often you pay your mortgage—the more frequent the payments, the more you pay and that means paying off the principal faster, which reduces the overall interest you pay for the loan. Every mortgage document will have an area where you can choose the frequency of payments. Be sure to check off your selection, as making change after the document is signed will cost you, as you can see below (in the red circle).

mortgage documents

Administrative fees to open and close a mortgage loan can add up. Ask for an amortization schedule—to verify how much of each payment is going towards the principal and how much is interest—and you’ll need to pay your lender. Want a mortgage statement? Fork out more money. Need to renew, you may be slapped with an additional fee. But the one that can be annoying, even if it is relatively minor, is the “Payment Change Fee” (highlighted in red). If there’s an error in your payment frequency in mortgage document you signed and you phone to make a correction, this lender will slap you with a $50 fee. Not your error, but it is your penalty. To avoid paying unnecessary fees, make sure to check your mortgage documents for inaccuracies.

 

Make sure you have insurance

mortgage documents

Did you buy a home but forget to shop for a home insurance policy? If your mortgage advance date arrives and you still haven’t been able to submit valid home insurance to your lender, expect a fee. For example, this lender charges $200 per month until you can provide evidence of a valid insurance policy for the home.

Other fees are deducted from the loan amount

mortgage documents

Did your lender ask for an appraisal on the home you want to buy? Don’t be surprised if you have to pay for that report (see highlights above). Plus, some lenders who require title insurance will deduct it from the total amount loaned to you; it’s only a few hundred dollars, but it can leave you scratching your head as to why you didn’t get your full mortgage-loan amount.

 

Where to go to complain

mortgage documents

Have questions or concerns about your mortgage documents? In your contract you should see a clause that clearly states how to get in touch with your lender or how to lodge a complaint. If this doesn’t work, and you’ve worked with a mortgage broker, contact the broker directly. They should work on your behalf to sort out any discrepancies with the lender. Finally, if your independent broker isn’t helpful or if you went through a bank to get a loan and you’re not getting anywhere, consider contacting the bank’s ombudsman. This is an independent role within a financial institution that’s tasked with addressing consumer complaints. If this fails, consider lodging a complaint with OBSI. But be warned: It can take up to nine months just to get an answer on a complaint, sometimes longer.

Scan the mortgage snapshot

mortgage documents

Finally, almost all lenders now provide a synopsis of all fees and terms in that back of your loan document. This doesn’t mean you should skip over the body of the document, but this summary is a great spot to start verifying if key terms, such as the mortgage rate and the length of amortization, is accurate. If not, mark it, and go back to your lender. Don’t be afraid to fight for what you agreed to. Bruner wasn’t.

Despite the reluctance by his bank’s mortgage specialist, Bruner eventually got the rate he was initially promised. One key component to his negotiations were the emails he’d kept. The correspondence was evidence of what Bruner was promised and made it hard for the bank to rescind the initial offer.

Source: Money Sense – by   October 31st, 2016

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Braving the Wilds as a Self-Employed Borrower

 

Self-employed – The fastest growing group of alternative borrowers, business for self-clients sometimes struggle to provide income verification that meets the conditions required by prime lenders. With 1 in 5 working Canadians now in business for themselves, this is an important segment that deserves extra consideration for your marketing efforts.

Amy De La Hunt, a writer and editor in St. Louis, gathered mountains of documentation last year to apply for a mortgage as a self-employed borrower.

She had several years of tax filings and contracts to establish a track record for her income. Then, midway through the process of buying a home in suburban Crestwood, she started a full-time job.

“Once I had only one pay stub from my full-time employer, then everything was like magic,” De La Hunt said. “It opened my eyes to how much easier it is.”

For all the benefits that being self-employed imparts, getting a mortgage is not among them.

Self-employed borrowers receive six loan quotes for every 10 received by people pulling down W-2s, according to a Zillow Mortgages analysis.

Lower credit scores are one of the primary factors, according to the analysis, which used a database that logs nearly 2 million loan requests a month.

Among self-employed workers, 47 percent have self-reported credit scores below 720, compared with 23 percent among those who are not self-employed. That’s despite the fact that self-employed borrowers report household incomes that are 81 percent higher and make larger down payments than those who are not self-employed.

Business vs. personal debt

The lower credit scores might not always be a reflection of a self-employed borrower’s ability to pay, said Staci Titsworth, regional mortgage sales manager for PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh.

Some business owners take out car loans and open credit card accounts in their own names, even though these are strictly for company use. That boosts the business owners’ debt volume, which can count against their credit score, Titsworth said.

Lenders can sort through situations like this, but it takes paperwork — on top of copious filings already required of self-employed borrowers (two years of personal tax returns with all schedules attached, plus two years of business tax returns for each business).

Loyal customers with a solid history of making loan payments are often incredulous at how much paperwork is required — and how inflexible the rules are, Titsworth said.

“It can be overwhelming for someone who’s successfully self-employed, who owns all these businesses and is a loyal bank customer, to hear us say we’re missing this one schedule from 2013. They’re like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” she said.

Some people will respond, “You can see I have enough cash to pay for this house; isn’t that good enough? And we have to say, ‘No, we need that paperwork,’” she added.

Keep calm & gather documents

The good news is that, at the other end, it’s entirely possible for many people who are self-employed to qualify for a mortgage.

“A lot of people think artists can’t ever buy homes, or that if you’re self-employed, you can’t buy a home — but we’re here and we each have our own studio and a weekend house,” said Linda Hesh, an artist in Hollin Hills, VA, who lives in a mid-century modern home with her husband, hand engraver Eric Margry.

They’ve been through the home financing and refinancing process many times. They found at the start that lenders wanted a larger down payment from them than from people who weren’t self-employed.

And then there’s the paperwork.

“You just have to do it; it’s going to be a lot of pages,” Hesh said.

She recommends finding a real estate agent who’s comfortable working with self-employed borrowers, because “they can be really helpful.”

So can staying calm, she said.

Source: Zillow.com – BY ON 19 DEC 2014

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Self-employed? Prepare for a long conversation with your mortgage broker

Getting financing isn’t as easy as it used to be, say mortgage brokers — and for the 15% of Canadians who earn money for themselves without a steady employer’s salary, it’s harder still.

If you’re self-employed and about to apply for a mortgage, be prepared for some serious form-filling. Getting financing isn’t as easy as it used to be, say mortgage brokers — and for the 15% of Canadians who earn money for themselves without a steady employer’s salary, it’s harder still.

“Back in the day, five years ago you could hold up three fingers and say ‘I promise I earn $100,000, and many lenders would take your word for it,” says Claire Drage, a senior mortgage agent with Mortgage Alliance in Greater Toronto. But things have changed, she warns. “It will take more paperwork, more documentation, more justification from the borrower on why they should be approved.”

Since 2008, the government has lowered the maximum amortization period from 40 to 25 years, and reduced the maximum gross and total debt service ratios to 39% and 44% respectively. Then, last October, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ B-20 rules put the underwriting practices of federally regulated financial institutions under scrutiny.

“Generally these changes have made for more rigorous review of documentation which does impact the self-employed borrower programs to a greater extent than salaried borrowers,” says Gary Siegle, Alberta-based VP of the Prairies for mortgage services firm Invis.

The self-employed often hinder themselves with creative accounting to lower their income. “They may have a different way of reporting all their income, reducing all their taxes as much as possible. Those are the ones that are more challenging,” says Daryl Harris, a broker at Verico One Link Mortgage & Financial in Winnipeg, and chair of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals. Those not reporting cash jobs also reduce their provable income, making it harder to get a mortgage.

 

“Even though you’re self-employed and you benefit from amazing tax breaks, and your personal income tax return is incredibly low, you still have to prove to the lender that you can afford to pay this mortgage back,” adds Ms. Drage.

For those that find it hard to prove their income, stated income programs are an option. Designed for those with less than three years’ business operation, it requires at least a 10% downpayment, and not all lenders support it. TD Canada Trust, for example, looks instead at documented income such as T1 financials, business financials, and notices of assessments.

Changing attitudes among lenders makes it more difficult for the self-employed to deal with top-tier banks, says Don Barr, president of Verico Select Mortgage in Victoria. “It is forcing a lot of stuff out of the ‘A’ business and into the alternative business,” he says. Alternative lenders, some of which are not federally regulated, may take a less rigid approach when assessing self-employed applicants. However, the trade-off is often a higher interest rate.

There are several things to remember when applying for financing:

• Loan-to-value matters. Offering a 10% downpayment will make the process far more difficult. They care more than ever about up-front equity.
• Keep up with your payments. Make sure that you are up to date with the CRA before applying to a lender.
• Be organized. Ensure that all your accounting and tax documentation is up to date, and that you are reporting
• Pay off your credit. Get those outstanding cards and lines of credit paid down before you let your lender score you.
• Be prepared to adjust your expectations. You may have to adjust your target price after talking to a lender.
• See if your lender will ‘gross up’ your income. Some lenders may add a percentage when assessing your taxable and/or non-taxable income to allow for business expenses you incur.

And above all, start early in the process, preferably with a pre-approval before you look for a home, because one thing’s for sure: you’ll be doing more hoop-jumping than you think.

Source: Danny Bradbury, Special to Financial Post |September 19, 2013 

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6 reasons to use a mortgage broker

6 reasons to use a mortgage broker

1. Choice: If you go directly to your bank, you will only be offered products from that financial institution. Mortgage brokers have relationships with several different lenders and are knowledgeable across each lender’s range of products.

2. Works for you: As small business owners, word-of-mouth makes or breaks mortgage brokers. Hence they are motivated to act in the clients’ best interests.

3. Skilled negotiators: Mortgage brokers’ skill and experience, combined with their relationships with lenders, help them negotiate rates that are often better than what borrowers could achieve on their own. That remains true even in this competitive environment.

4. Goal-orientated: Are you looking for the cheapest rate? Are you interested in paying off your loan sooner? Are you planning on buying another investment property? A mortgage broker will interview you to find out what you want out of your home loan and work to find the best product to suit your needs and home ownership goals.

5. Paperwork: Mortgage brokers help their clients complete and submit the mortgage application, as well as gather the documentation required by the lender.

6. Read the fine print: After you’ve received your loan approval, the mortgage broker can help you understand the document and conditions of the contract. As well, the broker can walk you through the next steps leading up to the closing of the mortgage transaction.

#MortgagesMadeSimple

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Brokers are beating the drum for BFS clients

Spreading the word about what brokers can do for clients hasn’t been easy – but there are ways to inform and educate, and in the process, build a book of clients.

“With all the new government regulations that have come out over the last few years, it has affected the self-employed the most,” says Bryan Guertin, principal broker for Mortgage Intelligence Oakville. “CMHC no longer insures stated-income mortgages and the other two insurance companies that still do have really tightened up with the qualifications. Many self-employed are finding out that their bank can no longer help them.”

His recent article in the Hamilton Spectator explains the many ways that brokers work with self-employed Canadians, such as freelancers, contractors and small business owners.

“The timing of this article is perfect,” Guertin told MBN. “We have to make these potential clients aware that there are other mortgage lenders out there that qualify them in a different way to make the numbers work.”

And although BFS clients sometimes end up paying a higher rate, there are ways to keep the numbers down; but it isn’t easy.

“Depending on the equity in their homes, some self-employed deals can be done at best rates,” says Guertin. “I have been a mortgage broker for over 40 years, placing BFS mortgages has always been easy, but we now find them tougher to place.”

The business-for-self client base is simply too large for brokers to ignore, and one that is tailor-made for brokers to engage, says Tom Hickey, VP Operations (Adjudication) for B2B Bank.

“The BFS segment in Canada is growing and represents about 18% of the workforce,” Hickey told MBN. “We see an opportunity to adapt to the changes in the workforce Canada is experiencing.”

And Guertin has seen first-hand his own BFS client base increase.

“In the past, approximately 40% of our transactions were BFS,” he says. “Now we are at 60%.”

Source: Mortgage Broker News Donald Horne | 28 Sep 2015

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Stated Income Simply Stated

Self-employment has been trending upwards in Canada in recent years. In its 2015 Spring Survey, CAAMP estimated that five per cent of home buyers worked for themselves.And it’s no wonder that the ranks of self-employed workers are growing. Apart from involuntary reasons like job dislocation, many choose self-employment for the lifestyle benefits, like making your own schedule, being able to work from home and deducting day-to-day expenses such as fuel, utilities, telecommunication and networking costs. That last point is a big one. It can be highly advantageous to earn, say, $100k per year, and then whittle it down with legitimate write-offs in order to achieve a much lower tax bracket.

The often-misconstrued disadvantage of being self-employed, however, is the challenge of getting a mortgage. After all, a key to borrowing is the ability to repay, which is linked to one’s earnings, usually provable earnings.

Fortunately there are programs in place from various mortgage lenders that can accommodate the unique circumstances of the thousands of self-employed buyers.

Accessing these lenders usually requires one to venture outside the normal borrowing channels—those being banks or trust companies. Although banks and other “A” lenders have their own self-employed lending programs and more favourable rates, borrowers often get bogged down with their paperwork requests, to the extent that many “business for self” applicants cannot meet all of the lender’s documentation requirements.

Fortunately, mortgage brokers have access to simple and easy alternatives provided by lesser-known private lenders. As one such lender, Magenta Capital Corp. offers a “no-doc” program (well actually it’s more of a “low doc” program) that makes life less cumbersome for self-employed borrowers.

The program requires only that clients provide their most recent NOA (notice of assessment) to prove their taxes are up to date. Unlike most banks and institutional lenders, Magenta doesn’t use the NOA to gauge income. It instead relies heavily on the property equity for its security, for which a standard appraisal is used to confirm the value.

At this point you may be thinking, ‘This seems a little too easy. The catch must be incredibly high interest rates and fees.’

The reality is that rates can be as low as 4.99% with a 1.5% fee (which is added to the loan amount). And, provided your credit rating is over 575, you can access up to 75% of your home’s value through this program. If your score is 650+, that goes up to 85%. Better yet, this can all be done with a 40-year amortization to keep your payments manageable until you can qualify for cheaper bank financing.

Lenders offering these sorts of low-document lending programs rely primarily on the borrower’s previous repayment history and the property itself. That’s important to keep in mind. It’s also essential that the property is located in a high density area—i.e., a city or its various suburbs.

If you have a legitimate self-employed business, an urban property and no worse than minor credit blemishes, remember that flexible stated income programs still exist. They can help you get in a home much sooner, even if you can’t prove income the traditional way.

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends – September 14, 2015  Guest Post 

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