30 Jul

But I’m Only a Co-signor!

General

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

You have a family member that doesn’t qualify for a mortgage on their own and needs a co-signor. Since you’re a nice person, and of course would like to see your son/daughter/parent/sibling in a better position, you agree to co-sign for the mortgage.

If I had a dollar for anytime I’ve heard the phrase “but I’m only co-signing right, they can’t come after me for the money or touch my house?” I’d be rich!

There are many common myths around co-signing. Here’s only a few and the truths associated with each one…

  • I’m only co-signing for my family member to get the mortgage and that I won’t have to ever make payments. False: You are equally responsible for making the payment on the mortgage. If the borrowers default, you will be required to pay.
  • I can’t be sued for non-payment since it’s not my mortgage. False: The lender has all legal collection methods available to them to collect payment from you, including obtaining judgment in court and possible garnishment of wages and bank accounts.
  • The bank can’t take my house if the borrower loses theirs. False: As per the second myth above, judgment action can also involve seizure and sale of any of your assets including and not limited to your own home.
  • I’m only a co-signor or a guarantor so I’m protected from not having to pay. False: Whether you are the borrower, co-signor, or guarantor, you are fully responsible for the debt.
  • Co-signing on this debt won’t affect my ability to obtain credit in the future. False: Not only will you legally have to declare the co-signed debt when you apply for credit, but also most lenders in Canada are now reporting to the credit bureau and it will appear when you apply. Either way, the mortgage payment must be factored into your debt service ratio.
  • Since this is only a five-year term, I am automatically released from this mortgage in five years. False: Regardless of term, you remain on the mortgage until it is paid in full or released only with approval from the lender.

Here’s a few tips and questions to ask before agreeing to co-sign on a mortgage…

  • Know the borrowers’ situation. What is there credit like? Are they drowning in debt? Why exactly is a co-signor required?
  • Is there an exit strategy to have your name released and how long will that take?
  • Add your name to title of the property so that the borrower cannot add a second mortgage to it. This is an asset that you have an interest in and therefore should protect it.
  • Get independent legal advice about your obligations as a consignor.
  • Be prepared to make the mortgage payments of the borrower doesn’t.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no to co-signing if it doesn’t feel right.

 

Knowledge of the borrowers situation, your obligations, and potential ways to protect yourself (and of course setting emotions aside) is the best advice for anyone co-signing. And if you have any questions, please contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

29 Jul

How Credit Affects Your Loan Approval

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

When you apply for a loan, lenders assess your credit risk based on a number of factors. Your credit score, as well as the information on your credit report, are key ingredients in determining whether you’ll be able to get financing and the rate you’ll pay. To get approved for a loan and to pay a lower interest rate it’s important that your credit report reflects that you’re a responsible borrower who pays their debts on time with a low risk of defaulting.

Credit Report vs. Credit Score
To start with, it’s important to understand that your credit report and your credit score are two separate things.

Credit Report – Your credit report contains information detailing your credit history. Sources include lenders, utility companies and landlords. This information is compiled by one of two major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax and TransUnion) that try to create an accurate picture of your financial history. Credit files include information such as:
• Name, address and social insurance number
• Types of credit you use
• When you opened a loan or line of credit
• The balances and available credit on your credit cards and other lines of credit
• Information about whether you pay your bills on time
• Information about any accounts passed to a collection’s agency
• How much new credit you’ve opened recently
• Records related to bankruptcy, tax liens or court judgments
Errors on your credit report can reduce your score artificially. In fact, 1 in 4 consumers have damaging credit report errors. Therefore, it’s important to stay up-to-date on your credit report history. If there is an error, you should dispute it and get it removed as soon as possible. Last year, 4 out of 5 consumers who filed a dispute got their credit report modified, according to a U.S. study by the Federal Trade Commission.

Credit Score – Your credit score is the actual numeric value extrapolated from the information in your credit report. A credit-reporting bureau applies a complex mathematical algorithm to the information in your credit file to create your numerical credit score.
Beacon is the most widely known credit scoring formula in Canada and is used by many creditors. Your FICO score can range from 300 to 850, with under 400 being very low and 700+ putting you in the healthy range. Your credit score is meant to give potential lenders an idea of how big of a financial risk you are. The higher your score, the less likely you are to default or make late payments and the more likely you are to be approved for financing.
Your score is based most strongly on three factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%) and how long you’ve had credit (15%).

What Are They Used For?
Lenders glance at your credit score to determine your credit risk. Most traditional lenders have pre-set standards. If your credit score is within a certain range, they’ll offer you certain credit terms. If you don’t fall within their approved range, then you may be denied. Most banking institutions will only approve a loan if the client has a credit score of at least 640. A score of 700, however, gives you a much better chance at gaining approval at most lending institutions and at reasonable rates.
As far as interest rates are concerned, banks use an array of factors to set them. The truth is they are looking to maximize profits for themselves and shareholders. On the other hand, consumers and businesses seek the lowest rate possible. A commonsense approach for getting a good rate would be having the highest credit score possible.
It’s important to note that if you apply for a loan, the lender will most likely pull your credit score through what is commonly called a “hard inquiry” on your credit, which slightly lowers your credit score. Therefore, it’s important to know your credit score ahead of time, fix any errors, and apply for loans which you have a good chance of being approved for.

Things You Can Do to Improve Your Credit Score

1. Check your credit report for errors – While the credit agencies do their best to keep your record free of errors, they can make mistakes. It’s important to check your credit report at least once a year — consumers are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months — to ensure all of the information is correct. Each agency may have slightly different information and, consequently, may have errors another credit report doesn’t.
2. Set up payment reminders – Making credit payments on time is one of the biggest contributing factors of your credit score. It may be helpful to set up automatic payments through credit card or loan providers so you don’t forget to pay when payment is due.
3. Reduce the amount of debt you owe – Stop using your credit cards. Use your credit report to make a list of all your accounts and check recent statements to determine how much you owe on each account and what interest rate they’re charging you. Then create a payment plan to lower or eliminate the debt you still owe.