Category Archives: young families

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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4 things credit unions do that make banking with them better

On a scale of one to 10, how much do you like financial advisors?

Be honest…

Unsurprisingly, you’re not the only one. It turns out a lot of millennials have a” negative perception of financial advisers,” according to a millennials and wealth management report by Deloitte.

It also points out that word-of-mouth and personal recommendations significantly influence around 50% of millennials. Yep, they’re more likely to “consult peers and media” instead of using a financial adviser and those who do use an advisor are likely to cross-check the facts using external sources.

So you could say that there’s a sense of distrust felt by youth in Canada when it comes to banking. If you have to question your bank that much, maybe it’s not the one for you. Banking should be easy because you don’t need any unnecessary stress factors in your life.

Luckily, you have another option (no, not carrying cash on you 24/7) – banking with a credit union. These financial institutions act in the interest of their members and work to make things better in your local community (without the drab financial advisor spiel).

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of four lovely things credit unions do.

They’re involved with the community

Credit unions understand that most young families in Ontario are dealing with large amounts of debt ranging from credit cards to student loans, and mortgages. Understanding the impact of heavy debt loads on the future of young people, credit unions want to step in and help any way they can. Aside from helping with debt management, they’re also involved in grassroots programs in their communities. Credit union staff members volunteer thousands of hours each year to help local non-profits and community initiatives. And they also help their communities thrive by hiring locally, keeping their members’ dollars local, and reinvesting their profits back in the local area. 

They’re environmentally friendly

Given the very nature of their cooperative model, it should come as no surprise that over the years, many credit unions have been recognized as Canada’s Greenest Employers. In fact, Ontario’s credit unions have made environmental performance a key part of their growth strategy, and are engaged in a full spectrum of operational improvements. But it doesn’t end there, they also have social and environmental finance innovations aimed at improving every aspect of their operation – from carbon neutrality and paperless banking to responsible investing, assistance for green start-ups, and social enterprise.

They help individuals, local businesses, and charities

The act of charity is centered around helping people in need. And since credit unions strongly believe in helping people, it’s only natural that they’re involved in a variety of charitable endeavours. From local sponsorships, to grants, bursaries, and even financial literacy blogs, credit unions are pretty much dedicated to helping everyone. They also support local community events and non-profit organizations through donations. When several provinces were suffering from floods earlier this year, multiple credit unions across Canada rallied to donate $150,000 to the Red Cross at a moment’s notice.

They offer tailored financial advice

Credit union staff ensure products are tailored to the specific financial needs of each customer. This means you’re not going to hear about investment portfolio options when you simply want to set up a savings account (unless you want to). Irrespective of your current financial situation, credit unions can help you tackle debt, save for a large purchase, or plan for a stress-free retirement. With the expertise to provide financial guidance to help their members build a strong foundation for their future, it’s no wonder that more and more Canadians are switching to credit unions. Will you?

Source: DailyHive.com – Daily Hive Custom ContentDec 11, 2017 

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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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In it for the right reasons: Rent-To-Own

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca – by Neil Sharma 16 Oct 2017
A Calgary-based social enterprise that helps families attain homeownership using the rent-to-own model has arrived in the GTA, where affordability has reached crisis level.

Homeowners Now purchases homes its clients choose, rents it to them, and then gives them exclusive rights to purchase it if they choose at the conclusion of the agreement’s terms. According to Dale Monette, Homeowners
Now’s managing director, the organization works on its clients’ behalf to help them save for eventual ownership and augment their credit scores.

“Our mission is to help as many Canadians get into homeownership as possible by using the rent-to-own transaction structure, which allows them to rent a property for a certain amount of time with the option to buy at the end, kind of like leasing a car,” he said, adding that the company did its due diligence before entering the Toronto market, where its services are badly needed.

Homeowners Now is partnered with the North American Private Assets Corporation (NAPAC), which provides financing. NAPAC is regularly approached by real estate investors who use similar rent-to-own structures, but regularly turns them down. However, it approached Homeowners Now because it believes that the nascent company – which was registered in 2015 but investing with this structure since 2011 – is in it for the right reasons.
Moreover, Homeowners Now has a 100% success rate in helping renters achieve homeownership.

“NAPAC got in touch with us,” said Monette. “They’ve been approached by two dozen rent-to-own companies over the years, but they noticed these companies weren’t in it for the right reasons. We mostly deal with people who don’t have major credit issues – although we deal with them too – and that have good incomes but need that extra boost. Most of the time they’re young families.”

Entrepreneurs are particularly maligned by the current mortgage rules, and Monette says they also comprise part of Homeowners Now’s clientele.

But families for whom money is precarious receive particular care and attention by Homeowners Now. Monette recounted a story in which a client’s gas bill was mixed up and unpaid for to no fault of their own. Homeowners Now stepped in and lent them around $2,500 interest-free to be repaid in 25 installments. Another client had a broken dishwasher, washer and dryer, and Homeowners Now granted them half of the money to replace the appliances.

“Because we’re a social enterprise, whenever a client gets into strife, we help,” continued Monette. “If this client misses a rent payment, they default, but we genuinely want to help.”

GTA residents, specifically, could benefit from this rent-to-own structure. Homeowners Now only entered the market a month ago, but it already has three clients and about 75 applicants. Its goal is to oversee 15 projects a month by the end of 2018.

“What we’re seeing in the Greater Golden Horseshoe is a lot of people are moving further out while a lot of newcomers are arriving,” said Monette. “A lot of people might only have $15-20,000 in savings and that usually falls short of a down payment. There’s a huge need for individuals to get into the market as quickly as possible before being priced out of the market.”

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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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