Tag Archives: young buyers

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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Homebuyers to get new mortgage incentive, Home Buyer’s Plan boost under 2019 budget

Homebuyers to get new mortgage incentive, Home Buyer’s Plan boost under 2019 budget

 

 

 

WATCH: Federal budget 2019: Incentives for first-time home buyers, skills training

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Can’t afford to buy a house? The government may take on part of the cost.

That is the gist of the boldest proposal that Budget 2019 puts forth to help more middle-income Canadians fulfill their homeownership dream.

Under the new CMHC First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation would use up to $1.25 billion over three years to help lower mortgage costs for eligible Canadians.

 

The money would go to first-time home buyers applying for insured mortgages. Borrowers would still have to pony up a down payment of at least five per cent of the home purchase price. On top of that, though, they would receive an incentive of up to 10 per cent of the house price, which would lower the amount of their mortgage.

For example, say you’re hoping to buy a $400,000 home with the minimum required five per cent down payment, which works out to $20,000. With the new incentive, you could receive up to $40,000 through the CMHC. Now, instead of taking out a $380,000 mortgage, you’d need to borrow only $340,000. This would lower your monthly mortgage bill from over $1,970 to less than $1,750.

The incentive would be 10 per cent for buyers purchasing a newly built home and 5 per cent for existing homes. Only households with an annual income under $120,000 would be able to participate in the program.

Watch: Finance Minister Bill Morneau presented the 2019 federal budget in the House of Commons Tuesday.


Home owners would eventually have to repay the incentive, possibly at re-sale, though it’s unclear yet how that would work.

Also, mortgage applicants still have to qualify under the federal stress test, which ensures that borrowers will be able to keep up with their debt repayments even at higher interest rates.

However, the incentive would essentially lower the bar for test takers, as applicants would have to qualify for a lower mortgage.

On the other hand, the amount of the insured mortgage plus the CMHC incentive would be capped at four times the home buyers’ annual incomes, or up to $480,000.

This means the most expensive homes Canadians would be able to buy this way would be worth around $500,000 ($480,000 max in insured mortgage and incentive, plus the down payment amount).

The government is hoping to have the program up and running by September.

Home Buyer’s Plan gets a boost

As was widely anticipated, the government would also enhance the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP), which currently allows first-time buyers to take out up to $25,000 from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to finance the purchase of a home, without having to pay tax on the withdrawal. The budget proposes raising that cap to $35,000.

The new limit would apply to HBP withdrawals made after March 19, 2019.

New measures would encourage more borrowing, possibly drive up home prices

Economists said the new CMHC incentive and the enhanced HBP would encourage Canadians to take on more debt, stimulate housing demand, and possibly push up housing prices.

“It’s a different kind of borrowing,” David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said of the CMHC incentive.

And with a home-price limit of around $500,000, the program is unlikely to help middle-class millennials buy homes in Vancouver and Toronto, where average property values are far higher, said TD economist Brain De Pratto.

 

Those taking advantage of the higher HBP limit, on the other hand, would have to keep in mind that the government is not extending the program’s repayment timeline, said Doug Carroll, a tax and financial planning expert at Meridian.

Home buyers must put the money back into their RRSP over 15 years to avoid their HBP withdrawal being added to their taxable income. Now Canadians will have to repay a maximum of $35,000 – instead of $25,000 – over the same period, Carroll noted.

In general, the economists and financial experts Global News spoke to saw the budget as being focused on demand-side housing measures, rather than policies that would encourage the construction of new homes.

And while the budget does earmark $10 billion over nine years for new rental homes, it does not propose major tax breaks for homebuilders.

Tax incentives proved to be an effective way to stimulate residential construction in the past, said Don Carson, tax partner at MNP.

“They really drove supply,” he said.

Source: Global News –

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How Much You Need to Earn to Buy a Home in America Today

Seven years after the U.S. housing market bottomed in February 2012, the market has staged a dramatic recovery. U.S. housing prices are now about 11 percent higher than their 2006 peak, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index data.

National Averages

While that surge in home prices is great for homeowners, it’s made it difficult for homebuyers, particularly younger buyers in large cities where the real estate market is hottest.

To make matters worse, rising interest rates have pushed mortgage rates higher than they’ve been in years, creating yet another obstacle for buyers. HSH.com recently compiled a list of the most- and least-affordable U.S. metro housing markets. The list incorporates median housing prices, interest, taxes and insurance payments and is ranked by the salary a homebuyer would need to afford the average home in each market.

On a national level, the salary needed to comfortably afford a home is $61,453, according to HSH.com. That estimate is based on an average mortgage rate of 4.9 percent on a median home price of $257,600. That average home price is up 3.95 percent from a year ago. The average monthly mortgage payment is around $1,433.

Least Affordable Markets

Of course, some markets are much pricier than the national average. The following are the top five most expensive housing markets:

San Jose, California

  • Median home price: $1.25 million
  • Year-over-year change: -1.5 percent
  • Monthly payment: $5,946
  • Salary required: $254,835

San Francisco, California

  • Median home price: $952,200
  • Year-over-year change: +3.5 percent
  • Monthly payment: $4,642
  • Salary required: $198,978

San Diego, California

  • Median home price: $626,000
  • Year-over-year change: +2.6 percent
  • Monthly payment: $3,071
  • Salary required: $131,640

Los Angeles, California

  • Median home price: $576,100
  • Year-over-year change: +4.1 percent
  • Monthly payment: $2,873
  • Salary required: $123,156

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Median home price: $460,300
  • Year-over-year change: +2.6 percent
  • Monthly payment: $2,491
  • Salary required: $106,789

Most Affordable Markets

If these numbers are enough to make the average American earner dizzy, there are also plenty of metro housing markets around the country that are much more affordable. The following are the five most affordable cities to buy a house, according to HSH.com:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Median home price: $141,625
  • Year-over-year change: +4.9 percent
  • Monthly payment: $878
  • Salary required: $36,659

Cleveland, Ohio

  • Median home price: $150,100
  • Year-over-year change: +6.9 percent
  • Monthly payment: $943
  • Salary required: $40,437

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Median home price: $161,000
  • Year-over-year change: +5.3 percent
  • Monthly payment: $964
  • Salary required: $41,335

Memphis, Tenessee

  • Median home price: $174,000
  • Year-over-year change: +4.3 percent
  • Monthly payment: $966
  • Salary required: $41,400

Indianapolis, Indianapolis

  • Median home price: $185,200
  • Year-over-year change: +7.4 percent
  • Monthly payment: $986
  • Salary required: $42,288

Millennials Getting Burned

In addition to paying higher prices for homes, a recent survey by Bankrate suggests that millennials are being too hasty about jumping into the market. One in three millennials under the age of 35 own a home, but 63 percent of those young homeowners admitted to having regrets about the home they purchased.

The biggest source of buyer’s remorse for millennial homeowners is underestimating the amount of hidden costs associated with owning a home. Insurance costs, property taxes and closing costs can add up to between 2 and 5 percent of the total value of the home, but many buyers don’t consider these fees when shopping for homes.

Homeowners should also set aside at least 1 percent of the value of the home each year for repairs and maintenance, according to HGTV.

In addition to paying too much, nearly 1-in-5 (18 percent) of millennial homeowners regret not buying a larger house.

 

Source: News Republic – March 11, 2019 

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4 problems with Canada’s mortgage stress tests that are hurting homebuyers and the economy

Photo: James Bombales

Economic researcher Will Dunning has a problem with the mortgage stress test the federal government imposed about a year ago.

Actually, he has four.

Last January, the Canadian government expanded its standard stress testing, which requires borrowers to qualify at a higher mortgage rate than they are signing on for. Before that, it only applied to insured mortgages. Mortgage insurance is needed if a homebuyer can’t muster a downpayment of 20 percent or more, so previously, those who could managed to sidestep stress testing.

Dunning, who describes himself online as an “iconoclastic economist” outlines what he says are four significantly harmful shortcomings of the stress testing.

1. The stress test ignores potential income growth

“The tests fail to consider the income growth that will occur by the time mortgages are renewed” — that’s Dunning’s first issue, as outlined in his latest study.

The point of the stress test is to makes sure borrowers are up to the task of making higher mortgage payments upon renewal, typically five years from signing on. So federally regulated lenders now need to make sure all borrowers can afford to pay the higher of the Bank of Canada’s qualifying rate or the contract rate plus two percentage points.

Problem is, this method ignores rising incomes. Borrowers’ ability to make interest payments in five years is based on incomes today. Dunning notes that over the past five years, incomes have grown a cumulative 11.6 percent on average.

2. It’s also bad for the economy

“They have negative consequences for the broader economy,” Dunning says, summing up his second issue.

BMO suggests that the pace of residential construction has been slowing down as a the mortgage stress test has taken a bite out of homebuying activity. In fact, Canadian home sales were down 4 percent in January on a year-over-year basis, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association, which chalked up at least some of the decline to the stress tests.

Dunning estimates that Canada will lose 90,000 to 100,000 jobs when the labour market fully adjusts to the slowdown in starts.

3. Ditto for long-term best interests of Canadians

“They prevent Canadians from pursuing their long-term best interests,” says Dunning as his third strike against the current test. After all, a mortgage is really “forced savings,” he says. Sure, in the short term a roughly 60-percent portion of mortgage payments are going towards interest, and initially renting is usually the cheaper option.

But that changes over time. “Rents increase; for home ownership, the largest element of costs (the mortgage payment) is fixed (usually for the first five years). The total monthly cost of renting will rise more quickly than the cost of owning.”

4. Housing supply problems are going to intensify

Back to that slowdown in housing construction. Job losses aren’t the only negative consequence of less home construction taking place. “Suppressed production of new housing will worsen the shortages that have developed,” Dunning warns.

Dunning says construction needs to speed up, not slow down, to meet demand. The country’s population has been increasing at a rate of 1.25 percent annually for the past three years, above the long-run average of 1.1 percent.

“Long-term, the stress tests will add to the pressures that Canadians are already experiencing in the housing market.”

Source: Livabl.com –  

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A first-time buyer’s guide to understanding Canada’s mortgage stress test

Photo: James Bombales

Livabl is here to help you understand the housing market. With this comprehensive explainer, our aim is to give you a 360-view of this important issue that has been affecting the market.

For prospective homebuyers, there are several financial hoops to jump through on the way to property ownership: growing a healthy downpayment, securing a preapproval, and finding a home that fits within budget, to name a few. Yet, even with years of financial planning, the dream of homeownership can quickly come crashing down if one cannot jump through the hoop that trips up first-time and repeat buyers alike: the mortgage stress test.

In January 2018, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, a federal watchdog and the sole regulator of Canadian banks, implemented the Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures guideline — otherwise known as B-20. Under B-20, all new and renewing homebuyers who opt for a regulated mortgage lender are subject to a mortgage stress test, which evaluates the borrower’s ability to afford residential mortgage payments against higher interest rates. OSFI says that this policy protects Canadian homeowners from excessive debt and unaffordable mortgage payments.

“The stress test, which is one component of our B-20 guideline, is a safety buffer that ensures a borrower does not stretch their borrowing capacity to its maximum, leaving no room to absorb unforeseen events,” says OSFI in a statement to Livabl. “Borrowers across Canada face different risks that could impair their ability to pay their mortgage: changes to income, changes to expenses, changes to interest rates.”

However, the mortgage stress test does not affect everyone equally. In Canada’s most expensive markets, such as Toronto, where the average price of a home is expected to surpass $820,000 in 2019, buyers have been disqualified for mortgages by the test based on high down payment requirements. Meanwhile, in cheaper real estate markets, such as Regina, the RBC reports real estate prices fell in the third quarter of 2018. Yet, as the job market remains stagnant in some cities, meeting the income standards to pass the stress test creates a provincial disadvantage.

“The one downside is that it’s made it harder for some buyers to get into the market because what they can spend on a home now is a lot lower than what it was a year or two ago before the stress test,” says John Pasalis, Founder and President of Toronto-based brokerage Realosophy.

In other cases, desperate buyers are opting to avoid the stress test altogether by choosing to work with private lenders, who are not federally regulated by OSFI and offer much higher interest rates. Some have questioned the financial stability of the market with this increased presence of higher interest rate lenders.

“People are going to private lenders, and that brings on other risks,” says mortgage broker Elan Weintraub. “It brings on economic risks because if people are paying $4,000 a month for a private lender mortgage payment, they can’t go to restaurants, they can’t buy clothes, they can’t spend money on other things.”

If you’re a first-time buyer, don’t stress about the stress test. We turned to mortgage and real estate professionals to help answer key questions about the test.

Photo: CafeCredit.com

What does the stress test do?

All Canadian buyers are required to take the mortgage stress test, but how you are tested depends on the size of your down payment.

If you have a downpayment of less than 20 percent of the home purchase price, your mortgage is automatically insured. With the added insurance premiums, your payment rates are increased up to 4 percent higher. Insured mortgages will be tested between the interest rate offered by the regulated mortgage lender — typically, one of the top five banks of Canada — against the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year mortgage rate (5.34 percent as of February 2019).
Those with uninsured mortgages and down payments greater than 20 percent, will be have their current rate tested, plus a two percent point increase, against the five-year bank rate. To pass the stress test, the calculated interest rate must meet the Bank of Canada’s qualifying rate or the contracted rate plus two percentage points, whichever is higher. For example, if your lender offers an interest rate of 2.99 percent for your uninsured mortgage, plus two percentage points, your calculated interest rate would need to meet the Bank of Canada’s minimum qualifying rate of 5.34 percent, since it is the greater of the two.

The mortgage stress test will consider elements such as your gross income, debt and expenses. A mortgage qualifier calculator can give you an idea how much income and down payment amount you’ll need to pass, but Pasalis recommends speaking with a mortgage broker before you begin the process.

“In the past, you could just go on some mortgage calculator and try to estimate yourself,” he says. “But with stress tests and all of these new mortgage rules, you want to go to a mortgage broker for them to tell you, in theory, what you qualify for, because that kind of really sets your expectation of what you can afford to spend on a home.”

Does it matter if I choose a variable or fixed-rate mortgage?

If you wish to secure a fixed-rate mortgage, the stress test may dash those hopes.

Fixed-rate mortgages are typically priced higher than variable-rate mortgages, as variable-rate payments fluctuate with interest rates and a higher proportion of a mortgage payment goes to principal. These higher fixed-rates can limit your options when applied to the stress test. As Weintraub describes, borrowers looking at a fixed-rate of 3.69 percent with an uninsured mortgage, plus two percentage points, wouldn’t qualify against the Bank of Canada’s rate.

“There are some clients who are so tight they can’t have a 5.69 [percent] stress test, they need a 5.34 [percent] stress test, so they have to get the variable rate even if they want fixed,” says Weintraub. “If you make a lot of money you can have both options, but if you have a very tight file, you might only have the option of variable.”

I want to change mortgage lenders. Will I have to retake the stress test?

A common criticism of the stress test is its tendency to trap borrowers with their current lenders. Buyers who purchased their home prior to the stress test are still required to participate. For those who won’t pass, it means staying with the same mortgage lender to avoid disqualification.

“Imagine that you want to renew your mortgage but you technically don’t qualify under the new stress test. You’re technically handcuffed with that same lender,” says Pasalis. “They can charge you eight percent interest and you can’t do anything about it.”

While OSFI ensures that the stress test, “contributes to public confidence in the Canadian financial system,” Weintraub questions whether this element of the policy benefits the market overall.

“If the bank knows the borrower cannot leave, how competitive are they going to be with their rates?” he says. “Some of my lowest interest rates are when their mortgage is expiring and I can move them to a new lender. But if they don’t pass the stress test, they’re basically forced to stay with their current lender, which doesn’t make sense.”

Photo: PlusLexia.com

Can I avoid the stress test?

If you’re a nervous test taker and want to sit out, then you do have the choice to not take the stress test — but at a cost.

The mortgage stress test does not apply to unregulated mortgage finances companies, called MFCs. While provincially regulated, these lenders operate in the private market, which makes loan approvals easier to obtain, but at higher rates. Weintraub suggests that an MFC lender should be reserved for short-term loan options.

“If you’re a first time buyer dying to buy a place and you go to a private lender, I don’t necessarily know if that’s the right solution,” says Weintraub. “I think private lenders are meant for very short term solutions, to help someone in a very specific situation, and then to get out of that situation ideally in 12 months or less.”

Pasalis says that MFCs tend to take on riskier borrowers, so higher interest rates compensate for that liability. But these higher payments, Weintraub says, can push new buyers into being house poor.

“It’s meant to be a stop gap, it’s not meant to be a long-term, sustainable way to borrow money, because it’s very expensive,” he says.

What happens if I fail the stress test?

Flunking the stress test is not the end — you can always retry later with a higher down payment or increased income. Weintraub says that the Bank of Mom and Dad could be available for some buyers looking for a mortgage co-signer or a boost in down payment funds. However, he recommends evaluating whether homeownership is truly worth it if this is the case.

“I would say that buying is not for everyone and sometimes we get into this whole, ‘I need to buy, I need to buy,’ mentality,” says Weintraub. “But there are certain situations where renting is a great option.”

While there has been increasing pressure for OSFI to provide policy relief for those in expensive markets, they remain firm on preventing “relaxed mortgage underwriting standards.” Pasalis says that there is always future potential for first-time buyer relief, but overall, exceptions to a national policy are unlikely to be made for individual market conditions.

“They can’t craft out different policies for Vancouver and Toronto and by municipalities,” he says. “I think the market will adjust to it.”

Source: Livabl.com –   

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Mortgage Leads From Facebook Messenger? Believe It.

 

Nine out of 10 mortgage professionals can’t generate good quality leads from the web. Are you one of them?

If you want to grow your mortgage business, you have to steadily and consistently generate good quality prospects and leads. However, the landscape is changing rapidly and moving in a direction where conventional marketing is becoming less effective at generating qualified and engaged prospects that you can turn into mortgage deals.

There’s both a huge problem and an even bigger opportunity here, depending on how you look at it. Smart brokerages will capitalize on this change in market behaviour and take advantage of it for significant growth.  Others will ignore it, and continue marketing themselves the way they’ve always done it, and risk being left behind.

With all the powerful tools we implement in our marketing and all the money we spend to get our message in front of the right people, we still fall far short of meeting people where they are and giving them what they need the way they want it.

But there has been no other option up to this point. Text-based email open rates continue to decline as inboxes are flooded with noise. And it isn’t slowing down.

  • Average open rate across industries: 20.8%
  • Average click rate across industries: 2.43%

 

People are shifting how they do everything from accessing music and media to searching for and purchasing products. It’s all going mobile through apps.

People are using their smartphones and tablets more than ever to search for and consume media, information, education, and to search for, research and purchase products and services.

And they’re using apps to do it instead of browsers.

Mobile More Prevalent Than Ever

  • People today have two times more interactions with brands on mobile than anywhere else—including TV, in-store, etc. (Google, 2017)
  • 80% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies with mobile sites or apps that help them easily answer their questions. (Google, 2018)
  • 94% of respondents in a Facebook survey (of one million people) have a smartphone on hand while watching TV. (Facebook, 2018)
  • During TV shows, viewers paid attention to mobile 28% of the time, and during TV ads, they paid attention to mobile more than half the time. People ages 18–24 looked at their smartphones 60% of the time during TV ads, and people ages 45 and over did so 41% of the time (Facebook, 2018)

I hope it’s becoming clear that mobile is the future of the mortgage business and marketing online. Now, let’s look at how people are using their mobile devices.

Spam filters are becoming more strict and almost too good at restricting access, to the point where your content may not be seen by your prospective clients.

The experience is broken. When you click a link you have to leave your email client and move to another application to view the content. On top of that, people have become wise to text-based email marketing and are less responsive to it.

NBC News, 2018

What are They Doing on Their Mobile Devices?

Consumers are using apps on their mobile devices significantly more than web browsers to get things done.  And social media apps and messaging apps are at the top of the list.

It’s clear that people want an instant, seamless, frictionless experience that meets them where they are and gives them the power to do it their way. Apps give them that.

  • Apps account for 89% of mobile media time, with the other 11% spent on websites. (Smart Insights)
  • Users spend on average 69% of their media time on smartphones (Comscore, 2017)
  • In 2017, 95.1% of active Facebook user accounts accessed the social network via a mobile device (Statista, 2018)

Your customers are on Facebook and Facebook Messenger where it’s easier to reach them and get their attention.

What is Facebook Messenger & Why Should I Care?

Messenger is Facebook’s messaging platform and application. Think text messaging, but through Facebook and 100 times more powerful and better.

And 1.2 billion people use it monthly on both desktop through browser and on mobile through dedicated apps.

And everyone who interacts through Facebook Messenger has a Facebook profile, which means they can be targeted by ads.

Most importantly, this is a messaging app that people use to communicate with friends and family regularly so they’re very comfortable using it.  And it’s how they want to communicate.

So if that’s the case, wouldn’t it make sense to tap into that channel if you could?

Well you can, and it’s one of the best marketing decisions you can make, if you make it soon.

Why Use Facebook Messenger as a Marketing Channel?

Statistics show Facebook Messenger is a channel you should pay attention to.

  • Over 2 billion messages are sent each month between people and businesses. If you think Facebook Messenger is only for people and not brands, you’re wrong. (Inc)
  • 260 million new conversations are started daily. These are not just new threads between people, but between people and businesses too. This number will only grow. (Inc)
  • Messaging apps surpassed social networks in monthly active users sometime in 2015 according to a report on Business Insider.
  • Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users. That is more users than Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram combined. (Inc)
  • Messenger adds 100 million new users every five to six months. Facebook Messenger hit 1.3 billion users in September 2018. (Inc)
  • 64% of monthly Facebook users use messenger. (DMR, 2018)
  • Users have 7 billion conversations on Messenger every day. That’s over 2.5 trillion conversations every year. For comparison, Snapchat users send 3 billion photos per day. (Inc)

One of the Best Marketing Opportunities

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with businesses without interacting with a human (Gartner).

Commerce is moving that way, whether you adopt it or not.

This tool and channel allows you to communicate with customers the way THEY want: one-to-one, on their phones or tablets, whenever is convenient for them.

It keeps your customers within the safety of Facebook and removes friction and barriers from the process, making it easier to move the relationship forward faster.

And, most importantly, Facebook Messenger marketing creates conversations, not leads. You don’t need a complex funnel when you interact with customers the way they want.

The result is a better experience for the customer and that translates to a better first impression of your brand, which leads to a whole host of benefits for both you and your clients in the long term.

So… let’s talk about what you would actually get out of Facebook Messenger marketing if you decided to implement it for your mortgage business.

Messenger Marketing – What’s in it for My Mortgage Business?

(Search Engine Journal, 2018)

1) Generates a conversation, not a lead.

In every other type of marketing you can do for your mortgage business, you’re never in an active conversation with the prospect in real time throughout the marketing process.

Marketing is meant to drive people to the conversation and make that conversation happen. Although, it can take a while. It’s never instant. Facebook Messenger makes this possible.

Now imagine this scene for a minute:

What if when you were watching a TV commercial, you could just walk up and press a button on the screen during the commercial and a conversation started right there between you and a person from that company?

That is exactly what happens with Facebook Messenger marketing. The customer clicks the ad and the conversation starts. The moment they click, they’re in an active dialogue with you and your brand.

That means you get to talk to them the moment they’re most interested in what you’re offering.

2) It gives the customer the simplest path to getting their problem solved without confusion.

It feels natural to them, so their guard comes down. Every time you have to leave one app for another to get something done, the friction reduces the likelihood you will turn them into a customer.

Most sales and marketing funnels are comprised of landing pages in one tool, a website on another platform, text-based email marketing in another tool, analytics in another tool…you get the picture.

That means that the user is going to have to figure out how to navigate through landing pages and multiple emails and website pages to finally get to the point where they can take the next step.

The image below is a comparison of a customer’s experience through a conventional landing-page funnel versus a Facebook Messenger funnel experience.

  • Each dot represents a touch.
  • Each red arrow represents a change from one software, app or device to another throughout the process.

The entire conversion process can take place almost entirely within Messenger. It’s a straight path to a solution.

That means prospects trust your brand faster and convert into a qualified lead and customer faster.

3) It’s automated, but not too much.

Once the user clicks the ad, they go directly to Facebook Messenger where the conversation is handled automatically by a Messenger bot.

A “bot” is simply a software version of a robot that you program to converse with users through Facebook Messenger just like a person…well, almost.

This means that your virtual assistant (the bot) is having a conversation behind the scenes with your prospective client, qualifying them, giving them more resources, gathering information about them, getting them interested and ready to talk to someone.

Then that prospect is handed over to the business to take over by phone or a scheduled appointment.

All of the lead generation and prequalification happens automatically.

4) Open up a channel four times more effective than email to communicate with your prospective customer whenever you want.

For someone to get value from what you send them, they have to consume it/access it/find it.

Facebook Messenger has an 80% open rate compared to text-based email with only 24%. Facebook Messenger has a 56% response rate compared to text-based email with less than 3%

Using Messenger Marketing in your Mortgage Business

Marketing is becoming harder and more expensive. People aren’t listening to channels like email and phone calls like they used to. They’re migrating to apps on their mobile devices to search for your services and products and do everything else.

With this huge shift in consumers to mobile, you need to have a strategy that focuses on reaching them there and engaging with them the way they want to do it – through apps like Facebook Messenger.

Let me ask you two quick questions.

1) Is your mortgage business positioned to take advantage of the mobile channel and channels like Facebook Messenger marketing rather than get left behind?

And…

2) Do you want to continue to generate leads that are getting more and more expensive by the day that hardly ever turn into conversations, let alone customers?

If your answer is “No” to either or both of the above questions, Facebook Messenger marketing could be the solution you need. If you want to explore this form of marketing for your mortgage business, or you have some questions, let’s connect and talk. Feel free to email me directly at javed@empression.ca

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends – Javed S. Khan 

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How couples can save for a downpayment and stop arguing about money

According to a poll by the Bank of Montreal, 68 percent of Canadian couples surveyed cited fighting over money as a top reason for divorce, ahead of infidelity. Buying a home together only raises the stakes — bank accounts are merged, couples are collectively preparing for the biggest purchase of their lives and are budgeting together to chip away at a downpayment.

Octavia Ramirez is the founder of Paper & Coin — a financial coaching company that helps Millennials reach their personal finance goals. “Money can be a huge stressor in relationships. So why not get ahead of the problem?” she says.

Photo: Paper and Coin 

The finance pro is uniquely qualified to help couples. Since getting married, Ramirez has never once fought about money with her husband. “Obviously, I enjoy finances but it’s taken years of practice to get here,” she tells Livabl.

It all comes down to communication and understanding your partner’s unique worldview — especially when it comes to money. Dr. Katelyn Gomes (Ph.D., C.Psych), a clinical psychologist with CBT Associates, echoes this: “We each have unique personal histories that define our values, rules, dislikes and assumptions for living in and viewing the world — including how we spend money, save money, even what’s important in the home you purchase.”

Octavia Ramirez and Dr. Katelyn Gomes spill their tips for communicating about finances and, in turn, making your partnership even stronger.

Photo: James Bombales

1. Work together as a team by joining your accounts

“I often see couples not working together as a team by splitting their expenses. This divides your efforts and can interfere with what you’re trying to accomplish,” Ramirez explains.

When it comes to buying a home, Ramirez makes a case for joining your bank accounts, “When my husband and I get paid, it all goes into the same checking account and we move the money accordingly. We don’t treat it as my money, your money. Consider that both of your incomes together are the grand total.”

When couples put their savings into separate accounts, they also diminish their returns. “Splitting your accounts is a democratic way of doing things, but you won’t get as much bang for your buck that way,” she says.

Ultimately, if you’re in a serious committed relationship, be in a serious committed relationship. “If you divide things based on your separate incomes, it gives the person who makes more a leg-up versus feeling like you’re equally respected in the relationship,” says Ramirez.

Ultimately, you will both be living in the house together. If one person makes considerably less, going 50/50 can potentially lead to selling yourself short — and building resentment long-term.

Photo: Paper and Coin

2. Agree on your collective goals, then make a transparent budget

Ramirez often hears her clients explain that they have budgets — in their head. “It’s important to have a shared document that communicates your budget and spending at a glance.”

Before putting numbers into a Google spreadsheet, agree on your short-term and long-term financial goals with your partner. Working towards homeownership? Start by determining the cost of the house you want to buy, then work backwards to see how much you will need to save each year to make it happen.

“Once you know how much you’ll have to save in the year ahead, go back month-by-month and see what areas of your budget can be cut or if you can increase your income to reach that goal,” explains Ramirez.

Even if it means passing on your yearly vacation and doing a staycation, instead.

Octavia and Will Ramirez. Photo: Paper and Coin

3. Have regular budget meetings with your partner

Once you’ve set your budget and are tracking your expenses and spending, set monthly or bi-monthly meetings to stay on track.

“Getting a downpayment together is a huge accomplishment. It’s a long-term process and there are occasionally going to be slip-ups in your savings efforts. It’s important to come back together regularly to remind yourself of your ‘why’. Maybe you didn’t reach your goal one month. Don’t dwell on it for too long, and instead decide together to get back on the saddle,” says Ramirez.

Dr. Katelyn Gomes explains, “We have this tendency to incorporate comments from our partners using faulty or unhelpful interpretations. These are known as cognitive distortion and it includes things like mindreading, jumping to conclusions, catastrophizing or thinking of the worst-case scenario. When we think our partners opinion, wants or needs don’t align with our lens it can lead to difficulties in communication, clashes or arguments.”

When you keep the lines of communication open over your spending habits, it creates an opportunity to have the necessary dialogue to avoid miscommunications or jumping to conclusions.

“Whether it’s contentious or not, just showing up to have that conversation is really important to keep couples on the same page,” explains Ramirez.

Photo: Paper and Coin

4. Save for an emergency fund

To avoid major money stress down the line, Ramirez recommends having an emergency fund in place: “Before you buy a house, prioritize saving three to six months of expenses in advance. If you break up or someone loses a job, you won’t risk going into extreme debt while you figure out your next move.”

5. Stay in the loop, even if you aren’t handling the finances

If you’re the one to handle the finances, Ramirez recommends letting your partner in on exactly what’s going on — whether it’s your insurance policy, the status of the car payments, how much interest you’re paying on the mortgage, or how much credit card debt each person has brought into the relationship.

“Because I enjoy finances, there’s a temptation to not keep my husband in the loop,” says Ramirez. “But even when I handle everything, I always debrief him after. He knows the passwords for the bank accounts and where things go, so he can take over at any point. Having everything on the table encourages you to trust each other.”

Source: Livabl.com –  

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