Category Archives: young buyers

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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When you break up a year after buying a condo together

Should you let your ex buy you out of a mortgage?

Q: My son and his common-law partner bought a condo together in Vancouver last year—which has since gone up in value. The relationship did not last and she would like to buy him out as both their names are on title. Are you aware of the steps involved to legally proceed with a real estate buy out and is it a wise move from an investment point of view?

— Norma R.

A: Hi Norma. I’m sorry to hear that your son is in this position. Break-ups are hard and can be exasperated when a division of assets is necessary.

I’m assuming your fear is that if your son accepts a buyout from his ex, he may then be priced out of Vancouver’s hot property market.

To minimize the impact of future property price appreciation, he should take the money and buy his own condo or home.

Your fear—that by giving up ownership of the condo he misses out on future appreciation—neglects how difficult decisions can be with someone you choose to no longer build a future with. Just imagine it’s five years from now. Your son has met someone new and he is happy. Very happy. He wants to buy a place with his new love and asks his ex if she could buy him out of this condo. His ex, on the other hand, has just gotten out of another relationship; she is unhappy, bitter and feeling defensive. How well do you think your son’s request will be taken? Probably not all that well. Of course, things could work out totally different, but that’s just it, we don’t know. For that reason, I’m of the belief that it’s always a good idea for each part of a dissolved partnership to sever emotional, physical and financial ties. As soon as possible. Remember, it’s already hard to make unemotional decisions about what to do with an asset when hurt or regret or anger or disappoint lingers, never mind when years have passed and life has unfolded in unpredictable ways.

The dilemma, then, is how to make sure that both your son and his ex are treated fairly when splitting this asset. This should be relatively easy, as long as they agree to pay for some expertise. The first is to pay for an appraiser who specializes in divorce settlements. This appraiser will be able to provide a “fair market value” report—a snapshot of what the property is currently worth if it were sold in as-is condition on this specific day. This FMV report would give a price or price range that your son’s ex could take to the bank in order to obtain mortgage financing. She would then be responsible for paying your son half of the condo’s FMV. He can accept this money free and clear, as he doesn’t have to pay taxes since the condo was his principal residence.

As to your fear of losing out from an investment perspective, remember that he will be selling his portion of the condo to his ex and, if he chooses, buying a new condo in relatively similar markets. That puts him in a net-net position—what he gained in price appreciation on the sold condo will help with current, higher condo prices.

Finally, when it comes to the legal process please advise your son to pay a mediator or lawyer. A few hundred or even a few thousand spent on professional, unbiased advice is well worth the money spent. If he wants to focus on a quick resolution, look for a lawyer or mediator that specializes in uncontested divorces. These professionals realize that not everyone wants to battle over every cent in court and will work to find a fair, quick resolution. Also, by employing a legal professional you are assured that all the paperwork and documentation required to remove your son’s name from the property title and the mortgage documents will be complete and filed, leaving him free and clear to enjoy the rest of his life.

Source: MoneySense.ca – by   

 

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The best way to help your child buy a home – The complications and benefits of gifting funds to your son/daughter to buy a condo

Q: I am in the process of helping my daughter buy a condo, here is what we have done so far:

We signed the mortgage with her as primary and me as co-signer,  I will be giving her the down payment and she is going to be living there and she will be the one paying the mortgage and all expenses.

My question is what would be the best way to do this transaction looking it at both a legal and tax perspective. From the tax perspective: How should I arrange/declare that I am gifting her the down payment on this condo? And when do we claim the tax breaks for her as a first time buyer? Would that be at time of paying the lawyer for land transfer etc.? Also, I would like to still be able to have some room on my credit as to buy another property so we were thinking if her owning 90% of the condo and me keeping just 10% would work for this purpose. According to the lawyer, we both have to have some percentage assigned because we are both on the mortgage.

From a legal perspective, we are thinking about joint tenancy as the best way to protect the asset if one of us passes away unexpectedly.

My intention is really just to help her “fly on her own,” but with all the legal and tax implications, we’d really like to do it in the best way possible.

—Claudia

A: Hi Claudia. First, let me congratulate you and your daughter! It’s wonderful that you are in a financial position to help her with the purchase of her first property.

It appears you’ve given the current and future implications of this decision a great deal of thought.

I can only assume that your lawyer has asked for a percentage split on the property because you are co-signing the mortgage and because you are opting to have both you and your daughter on title as owners’ of the property.

This legal structure helps limit the amount of taxes you owe, as you can specify that your share in the property is nominal, say 10%. Just keep in mind that each joint tenant can gift or sell their portion of the property. That means, your daughter has the legal right to sell her 90% stake in the condo even if you don’t want or agree to the sale. It also means that you are exposing yourself to creditors, should your daughter file for bankruptcy or become a defendant in a lawsuit. Finally, the 10% that you own will not be sheltered under the principal residence exemption as this property is not your primary residence.

But there is a silver lining. The Canada Revenue Agency does not tax gifted money. That means if you opt to gift your daughter the entire down payment to purchase the condo neither you nor your daughter are required to pay tax on that gifted money. If, however, lenders find out that this gift is, in fact, a loan, this can seriously impact whether or not your daughter can qualify for a mortgage as all debts (even loans to family members) are included in debt ratios used to qualify borrowers for mortgages.

Finally, your lawyer or legal representative handling this real estate transaction will take care of the paperwork when it comes to the first-time home buyers’ tax credits and rebate. That said, ask your lawyer to confirm that your daughter won’t be exempt from these credits because you are on title. According to the CRA, a buyer is disqualified from claiming these credits if they’ve already owned a home or they lived in a home owned by their spouse or common-law partner now or in the last five years. While it seems remote that your daughter would lose eligibility to these credits, it’s still better to check now than find out the hard way.

Source: MoneySense.ca – Romona King, November 13th 2017

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Ownership: Joint tenancy, tenants in common and more

Source: MoneySense.ca – by 

Consider alternative ownership options when buying a home

As housing affordability recedes in the rearview mirror of Canada’s fast moving real estate market, it’s time to look at different housing ownership options.

Freehold interest

The term freehold is synonymous with ownership of a property. In a freehold interest, the owner has full use and control of the land and buildings on the property, subject to governmental rights as well as local by-laws.

Leasehold interest

When purchasing a leasehold interest, you are really purchasing the rights and ownership of a building or structure but not the rights or ownership of the land the property sits on. Homes built on Native Canadian or Crown land fall into this categories. Examples of this type of ownership can be found scattered throughout the Greater Vancouver Area.

While leasehold ownership can make owning your home far more affordable there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, you’ll want to determine whether or not the land-owner will more than likely renew the lease once the term expires? Also, if you do decide to vacate the land, does the contract allow you to move the building or must you relinquish all rights? You’ll also want to pay attention to whether or not the lease is fixed or variable. Just like mortgages, a fixed lease means the terms are locked in for the duration for the lease. So, if a leasehold is for 99 years, you or your heirs will not have to go through a review or renewal of the lease until 99 years have passed. A variable lease, on the other hand, will have periodic reviews within the leasehold agreement—the standards is once every 33 years on a 99-year lease.

You can buy a new leasehold contract or you can assume ownership of an existing one. For instance, a seller could list their 99-year leasehold for sale after living in the home for 20 years. This means you would be buying the lease and allowed to live in the home for the remaining 79 years.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s harder to find a lender that will offer a mortgage for this type of ownership—although, credit unions have historically offered favourable rates for leasehold interests.

Co-ownership

If you decide to purchase a property with friends or family this is informal co-ownership—an agreement of responsibility and use must be agreed upon by all those involved. Or you can buy into a co-operative, which is a formalized co-ownership of a building where you have exclusive use and rights to a specific unit.

If you are buying with family and friends you’ll want to pay attention to the type of ownership, and the are two basic types: joint tenancy and tenancy in common.

Joint tenancy is common for anyone purchasing with a spouse or partner. In this type of tenancy, when one of you dies the other becomes the sole owner. That’s because the entire ownership transfers to the surviving owner, without having to go through probate, under joint tenancy. That means neither owner can leave their portion of the property to a third party in their will.

Tenancy in common, however, is where each owner may have equal or different ownership shares in the property. As a result, one party may sell her share without the permission of others. In this type of co-ownership, there can be more than two owners, and the owners may sell their portion of the property to anyone, unless stipulations or restrictions are built into the ownership contract.

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Ten ways the new mortgage rules will shake up the lending market

THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

Source: The Globe and Mail – SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL

T-minus 76 days and counting until Canada’s banking regulator launches its controversial mortgage stress test. It’ll be squarely aimed at people with heavier debt loads and at least 20 per cent equity – and it will be a tide turner.

Given where Canada’s home prices and debt levels are at, this is easily the most potent mortgage rule change of all time. Here are 10 ways it’s going to shake up Canada’s mortgage market for years to come:

1. It’s like a two-point rate hike: Uninsured borrowers can qualify for a mortgage today at five-year fixed rates as low as 2.97 per cent. In a few months that hurdle will soar to almost 5 per cent. If you’re affected by this, you could need upward of 20 per cent more income to get the same old bank mortgage that you could get today.

2. Quantifying the impact: An OSFI spokesperson refused to say how many borrowers might be affected, calling that data “supervisory information” that is “confidential.” But at least one in six uninsured borrowers could feel the blow based on the Bank of Canada estimates of “riskier borrowers” and predictions from industry economists like Will Dunning. Scores of borrowers will be forced to defer buying, pay higher rates, find a co-borrower and/or put more money down to qualify for a mortgage.

3. Why OSFI did it: Forcing people to prove they can afford much higher rates will substantially increase the quality of borrowers at Canada’s banks. OSFI argues that this will insulate our banking system from economic shocks, and to the extent it’s correct – that’s good news.

4. A leap in non-prime borrowing costs: Many home buyers with above-average debt, relative to income, will resort to much higher-cost lenders who allow more flexible debt ratio limits. At the very least, more will choose longer amortizations (i.e., 30 years instead of 25 years) and take longer to pay down their mortgage. Non-prime lenders will also become pickier. Why? Because they’ll see a flood of formerly “bankable” borrowers getting declined by the Big Six. That could force hundreds of thousands of borrowers into the arms of lenders with the highest rates. If you have a higher debt load, weak credit and/or less provable income, get ready to pay the piper.

5. A safer market or riskier market? The shift to expensive non-prime lenders could boost mortgage carrying costs and overburden many higher-risk borrowers, exacerbating debt and default risk in the non-prime space. “We’re very aware of the potential migration risk [from banks to less regulated lenders],” Banking superintendent Jeremy Rudin told BNN on Tuesday. “It’s not something that would be a positive development.” If rates keep rising, non-prime default rates could spike over time. Albeit, keep in mind, we’re talking a single-digit percentage of borrowers here. The question people will ask is: Does growing debt risk in the non-prime mortgage market, combined with home price risk and a potential drop in employment and consumer spending truly lower banks’ risk?

6. Provincially regulated lenders win: Unless provincial regulators follow OSFI’s lead (if history is a guide, they won’t), it’ll be a bonanza for some credit unions. Many credit unions will still let you get a mortgage based on your actual (contract) rate, instead of the much higher stress-test rate. That means you’ll qualify for a bigger loan – if you want one. We could also see a few non-prime lenders charge lower rates to help people qualify for bigger mortgages, while tacking on a fee to mortgage for that privilege.

7. Trapped renewers: Lenders are thrilled about one thing: customer retention. As many as one in six people renewing their mortgage could be trapped at their existing bank because they can’t pass the stress test at another lender. And if a bank knows you can’t leave, you can bet your boots they’ll use that as leverage to serve up subpar renewal rates.

8. A short-term spurt: Expect a rush of buying in the near term from people who fear they won’t qualify after Jan. 1. The question is, how much of that short-term demand will be offset by people selling, as a result of the rule change’s perceived negative impact. In the medium term – other things equal – this is bearish for Canadian home prices. Period. That said, borrowers will likely adapt within two to five years. And prices will ultimately resume higher.

9. The stress test could change…someday: While few credible sources expect OSFI’s announcement to trigger a housing crash, the higher rates go, the more this will slow housing. Financial markets expect another rate hike by January, with potentially two to four – or more – to come. Mr. Rudin says OSFI may “revisit” the restrictiveness of the stress test if rates surge, but will the regulator act in time to prevent diving home values? That’s the trillion-dollar question. The good news is that rates generally rise with a strengthening economy, which is bullish for housing – for at least a little while.

10. Questions abound: Tuesday’s news will undoubtedly spark contentious debate over whether this was all necessary, given already slowing home prices, provincial rule tightening, rising rates and the fact that uninsured default rates are considerably lower than for people with less than 20 per cent equity.

OSFI says its responsibility is to keep banks safe and sound. Overly concerning itself with the side effects of its mortgage stress test is not its mandate, it claims. Well, in a few years we might be either congratulating OSFI, or asking if that mandate needs to change.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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New to Canada? Three tips to start your finances off right

New to Canada? Three tips to start your finances off right

Moving to a new country can be overwhelming but starting your finances off right can make all the difference as you build your new life.

 

As you begin your new life in Canada, here are three tips can get you headed in the right direction.

  1. Connect with resources that can help your family get settled.

There can be so much to do when you arrive in Canada—find a home, a job, schools, a bank—it can be hard to know where to start.

Scotiabank’s Newcomer Handbook gives you quick and easy access to things you need to know as you build a new life here. It’s available for free online and includes advice on:

  • 10 Things You Need to Know About Banking in Canada
  • Top 10 Tips for Settling in More Easily
  • Government Information and Assistance
  • Jobs and Careers
  • Health, Safety and Your Rights
  • Education and Training
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Embassies in Canada

After friends and family, a good place to begin when looking for a job is the Service Canada website as well as online job boards. If you need Canadian work experience, consider volunteering in your community.

The federal government also offers other newcomer support, to help get a language assessment and finding a language class, finding a place to live, signing up kids for school and learning about community services.

Your province is responsible for providing services like health care. All Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for public health insurance, which provides most services free of charge (health care in Canada is paid for through taxes). Information about your province’s health care program is available through the government of Canada website.

  1. Learn how to manage your money.

Building a relationship with a financial advisor at a bank in Canada is an important step in creating your new life. Start by visiting your local branch to open chequing and savings accounts and consider applying for a credit card. Your advisor can help you understand your needs and suggest the products that are right for you and your family. Check out the popular credit cards that the Scotiabank StartRightprogram has to offer. With more rewards than any other bank, you’ll be sure to find a card that meets your needs and rewards you in the process.

A credit card not only lets you charge purchases rather than pay cash, it also helps you establish a credit history in Canada. This will be crucial when you need to get a loan to start a business or buy a home. Banks learn a lot about your financial health by accessing your credit history and use it to decide whether they should lend you money.

More important information about credit history:

  • It’s your responsibility to review your credit report and ensure it doesn’t contain any errors
  • Try to pay your bills on time and in full to avoid a negative rating
  • Make sure you understand the terms and conditions
  • Never go over your credit limit
  • Make sure to contact local credit agencies if you need help managing debt
  1. Plan for your future.

Before long, you’ll find that you and your family have settled into your new life in Canada and will start thinking about buying a home or car, putting money aside for your children’s education and investing for your retirement. Having a financial plan is an important element to help you take control of your finances.

One of the first things you can do is evaluate your day-to-day cash flow and think about spending only on things you really need or value. Cutting a few dollars here and there from your daily expenses, even if it’s just $5 a day, can add up to big savings year over year. Where can you start? Cut out your daily luxury coffee, bottles of water, or lunch out once a week. If you saved and invested that daily $5, in 20 years you would have more than $50,000!1

A “Mapping Tomorrow” session with a Scotiabank advisor will go a long way in helping you achieve your unique goals in Canada. Want to learn more? Our expert advisors can offer practical advice and smart solutions to help you have the life you want in Canada.

Source: by Scotiabank  Learn more about Scotiabank’s StartRight Program.

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GTA’s hottest market outside of downtown Toronto

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth –  Neil Sharma

Mississauga has become the GTA’s largest condo hub after Toronto, and its torrid pace of residential, infrastructure and amenity development are conspiring to make it ripe for investment.

In tandem with the Places to Grow Act, Mayor Bonnie Crombie has recalibrated the city’s growth plan to quickly turn it into an urban hub. Mississauga’s city centre already has a dazzling skyline, and it’s expecting 23 new mixed-use condominium towers.

Major builders like Daniels, Amacon, Camrost and Solmar all have major projects going up there that promise to bring life to what’s been a sleepy downtown. However, without a crucial piece of infrastructure, some of these developments might never have been conceived.

“The timing is largely a result of the LRT breaking ground next year,” Crombie told CREW. “It is 20-kilometres long with 22 stops, beginning in Port Credit, and then looping around downtown where there will be four stops. It will pull into the transit terminal – the second-biggest in the GTA – then go into Brampton.”

The city centre in Canada’s six-largest city has long been built around Square One Shopping Centre, which just received a major facelift and extension, but there are newer arrivals. Sheridan College has two campuses in or near the city centre, with a third in planning stages, and University of Toronto Mississauga isn’t very far away, either. Apartment buildings in the area are being outnumbered by condos, and students will naturally rent them.
Over the next two decades, Peel Region is expecting 300,000 new residents and 150,000 jobs, of which 60% are projected to be in Mississauga.

Zia Abbas, owner and president of Realty Point, a brokerage that’s grown to 26 franchises in only two years, says the cost per square foot in Mississauga’s condos make investing there a no-brainer.

“The average of any new launch in downtown Toronto is around $1,000 (per square foot),” he said, “with the cheapest I’ve seen in Liberty Village starting around $850 to $900 per square foot before parking. In Mississauga it’s between $640 and $670, parking included.”

Abbas says the LRT will add substantial value to the city centre’s condo cluster, and added that Mississauga has other hot spots too, like Erin Mills and the Hurontario and Eglinton neighbourhood.

“Compared to downtown Toronto where eight out of 10 people rely on transit infrastructure, in Mississauga it’s five out of 10, I’d say.”

But as Crombie’s vision for an urban Mississauga materializes, that number could start rivalling Toronto’s.

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