6 Dec


Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

For those of us looking for mortgage financing options for our first or next home, the prevailing attitude is, ‘easiest is best’.

For most of us, myself included, applying for any type of financing is a stressful event; its always easier to, when you’re in your local branch, to strike up a conversation with an account manager and when they say, “Sure, I can help you with that”, to just treat that help as your only option.

On the outside, most mortgages are pretty much the same ( they’re not, but that deserves a separate discussion ), right? Anyway, if you can just walk in and walk out with a pre-approval, why not just do that?

Well, lets look at what you really want to get out the financing;

Let’s say you’re self employed ( not a stretch, really) and have, a couple of years ago started your own small business. Your spouse is also self employed, but works as an independent contractor, in IT, for example.

Initially qualifying for financing might be a bit of a struggle, but you rely on your banks’ mortgage specialist to get you the financing option you need. Of course, they come through in the end and a few months later, you’re happy in your new home and you’re happy you’ve started a relationship with someone who can help.

On the business front, its good news as well. Your small business grows and grows and in about three years down the road, you’ve got a new contract that you won’t be able to fulfill without some financial help.

When you approach the bank, you’re told time and again that, in spite of your great ‘relationship’, what you need doesn’t meet their lending guidelines and they can’t or won’t help you grow your business.

You leave the financial institution thinking, “I deserve better than this” and you’re right, you absolutely do.

Part of my role as a Mortgage Professional is to not only find the right mortgage but also try and anticipate what you might need in the future. I always recommend a lender that you can have a meaningful relationship with, if that’s what is needed.

A Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist will give you options and recommendations, as well as a clear explanation of why they’re recommending one over another. That’s a promise.

2 Nov

The New Normal

Latest News

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

’Tis the season… this was no surprise here! The latest round of mortgage guidelines has been announced by OSFI, or Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. As of January 1, 2018, all conventional or uninsured mortgages will have to qualify at the Bank of Canada 5-year fixed rate or the contractual rate + 2%, whatever is greater.
What does this mean? Nothing for anyone wanting to renew or buy real estate with less than 20% down.
But anyone wanting to access their equity might just have to consider a slightly lower amount. And those wanting to purchase real estate with 20%+ down may need to adjust their expectations or relocate their search area.
Regardless of your scenario, there will still be options to exercise.
Next question on many people’s minds is how this will affect prices. Based historical data, I predict that there will be very little decrease in prices. Most people thought the ‘bubble’ was going to explode. Most comments were, “It just has to, how can prices continue to increase?” Well guess what… prices have continued to increase. Some market segments will experience a slight softening, but nothing drastic.
Here is a list of changes issued by OSFI since 2006. Did any of them bring prices down?

Maximum amortization 40 years
100% financing, 0% down payment

Maximum amortization 35 years
Maximum 95% financing, minimum 5% down payment required

Maximum amortization 30 years
Refinance maximum 85% of the market value

Maximum amortization 25 years
Refinance maximum 80% of the market value
If mortgage insurance is required, then the maximum purchase price of the owner-occupied home is $1,000,000

Minimum down payment – 5% of the first $500,000 and 10% on the portion remaining

Qualification rate increases to Bank of Canada benchmark rate for all insurable files (less than 20% down)

Conventional (20% down or greater) stress test increases to contract rate plus 200 basis points (2%) or the Bank of Canada benchmark rate, whatever is greater

What will happen in 2018?

There is no need to slam your fist on the panic button. This is simply the new normal for mortgage finance consumers. The sun will still rise in the east and set in the west. The earth will continue to rotate in a counterclockwise direction. People will still buy and sell real estate. Those consumers with available equity will still have access to it and borrowers will still renew existing mortgages. If you are receiving or buying into “the world is ending” type information, please look away… it’s wrong and misleading.
Nothing changes.
If you are worried about things you cannot control, stop it! If you are going to put any energy into something, I would recommend building a bulletproof personal borrowing profile. More than ever it’s vitally important to have AAA credit, minimal-to-zero consumer debt and strong reliable income and savings. If you start with that, I can assure you everything will be OK!
If you have any plans to become an active mortgage consumer, start looking at your options now as some lenders will adopt the new rules before January 1, 2018.

29 Sep

Paperwork You MUST Keep

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

As a mortgage professional there are things I wish more people were aware of which is why we are going to take a look into the paperwork we all need to hold onto to avoid frustration or even a decline when applying for a mortgage. Each of the following is taken from real life observations of everyday folks just like you and I.

1. Separation Agreement – When you apply for a mortgage one of the first questions we ask is marital status. If your answer is separated or divorced then the banks are going to want to see the official document. They are seeking to ensure that you do not have any alimony or child support payments which will make it difficult to pay the mortgage. The legal system only keeps these documents for 7 years after which you will not be able to get a copy. Your marital status is reported on your tax return which can trigger the request for this documentation long after it seems relevant.

2. Proof of Debts paid– Keep all records of debts you have paid! Here are three real world examples.
a) Client A has paid off her mortgage, receives verification from the bank and promptly destroys the paperwork at a mortgage burning party just like on the commercial. Due to a clerical error the debt as paid is not reported to land titles so the mortgage remains vested against the property adding additional steps when she goes to get a new loan.
b) Client B pays out his truck loan in full and receives a letter stating this. Due to a clerical error the interest accrued shows a small outstanding balance. The client believes all is well while the small debt quickly hits a written off status on the credit bureau and he is declined for a mortgage three years later.
c) Client C settles with a collection agency on a debt gone bad – The debt is not reported as paid to the credit agencies and the ‘ongoing’ bad debt causes a large drop to her score and she pays higher rates than she should. The collection agency has since gone out of business and there is no record of the payment to be found.

3. Bankruptcy/Orderly Payment of Debts – As with the separation agreement, the trustee will only keep a copy for 7 years. When you apply for a mortgage, the bank will want to ensure they were not affected by the bankruptcy and also to determine if there was a foreclosure. Even though this information is supposed to fall off the credit report that is not always the case.

4. Child Maintenance – whether paying or receiving child support, you will want to keep all correspondence in regards to this to ensure you are receiving the appropriate credit for monies paid or have been given all the money you were supposed to have received.

Emotionally you have valid reason to want each of these documents so far away from you but realistically you are likely to need them at some point. There are a number of online services such as Dropbox or Google Drive where you could scan these to yourself and save them digitally. Alternatively, you could spend a small amount of money on an accordion style file folder and go old school with actual paper copies of all of the above applicable to your situation.

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.

22 Jun

Things Mortgage Professionals Wished the Self Employed Knew

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

This installment of the things we wished people knew series is targeted at the self-employed. This intrepid group of risk takers are entrepreneurial and help keep the economy moving but all too often we meet with these people and have to give news we would rather not give. So let’s look at what we wish they knew.

1. Surround yourself with professionals. You are the expert in your field without a doubt, but that doesn’t translate to being able to do it all.
Having a knowledgeable book keeper and a well-qualified accountant can save you a fortune in tax deductions and time lost. They are in your corner come tax time and heaven forbid through an audit by the CRA. Their job is to know the ins and outs of taxes so that you can put your focus on growing your business.
A lawyer is also invaluable. They will protect you against loopholes you didn’t know to look for in contracts.
Mortgage professionals are also a must. A Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage professional can help you with your home, a rental portfolio if you plan to diversify and commercial lending when you are ready.

2. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The lending landscape in Canada has totally shifted in the past few years. Long gone are the days of simply stating what you earn without any verification of such and being offered a mortgage with little money down and low rates. If you choose to write off as much of your income as possible to avoid as much taxes as possible, then you will pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage

3. You have to keep your affairs up to date. That means getting the accountant prepared financials, filing your annual returns and most importantly paying your taxes. If you have a large outstanding tax balance, you are going to find it nearly impossible to get a mortgage. Taxes trump mortgage in order of who gets paid first so there are no prime or near prime lenders out there who will lend to you until these are paid.

4. The magical number in the mortgage world is 2. You have to have a 2-year history of self-employment with accompanying documentation to be able to proceed with the mainstream lenders in most cases. You also need 2 types of credit each with at least a $2,000 limit to keep your credit strong. Be aware of how debt may affect your purchasing ability. A large credit balance and a high vehicle payment will dramatically affect your ability to purchase a home. That $13,000 line of credit or a $400 vehicle payment will each decrease your purchasing power by $100,000.

The bottom line is this, make sure that you use your whole team. If you are wanting to buy a home within a couple of years then before you go fully self-employed or purchase that new truck or write off all the income you can, talk to your mortgage professional to ensure you are not inadvertently putting your home ownership goals on hold.

8 May

Reading This Could Save You Thousands of Dollars!! (AKA How to renew your mortgage in 5 easy steps)

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

Reading This Could Save You Thousands of Dollars!!  (AKA How to renew your mortgage in 5 easy steps)

What is a mortgage renewal you ask?

Each mortgage has a set term which can vary from 1-10 years. Just before the end of your term you will receive an offer from your current lender and you have 3 options:

  1. Sign and send back as is.
  2. Check the market to make sure you are getting the best rate and renegotiate with your current lender
  3. Move the mortgage to a new lender.

Option 1 is not a very good idea in my opinion. The onus is on you to make sure you are being offered the best rate. Banks are a business like any other and they are seeking to make the highest profits they are able as to keep their shareholders happy. There is nothing wrong with that. That does mean however that you as a savvy consumer should take a few minutes to ensure you are being offered the best possible rate you can get.

Think of it as the sticker price on a vehicle at a dealership. The rate you are being offered is a starting point for discussion, not the final price. Let’s look at an example:

  • Mortgage of $300,000 with an amortization of 25 years.
  • Your offer is for 3.19% for a 5 year fixed = $1449.14/month and you will owe $257,353.34 at the end of the term
  • Best rate is 2.59% for a 5 year fixed = $1357.38/month and you will owe $254,372.59 at the end of the term

You would pay $91.76 less each month or $5505.60 over all 60 months and still owe $2,980.75 less.

So you need to ask yourself if you are OK handing that money over to the mortgage provider or if you would prefer to keep it yourself and I am pretty sure I know what your answer will be.

So here are the steps I mentioned to save yourself all that money.

  1. Receive the offer from the mortgage lender and actually look at ASAP so that you have enough time to make an informed decision.
  2. Research via the internet and phone calls to find out what the best rate even is.
  3. Phone your current lender and negotiate! OK, you are going to have to get downright assertive and that may be uncomfortable but when you compare your comfort to the thousands of dollars you could save, you will see that it’s worth it.
  4. If said lender will not offer you the rate then move the mortgage. You will have to provide paperwork and complete the application but if you keep in mind the example from above then I repeat, it’s worth it.
  5. Take a look at your budget and see if you can increase the payments to decrease the mortgage and save yourself even more as the overall interest costs decrease.

Keep in mind when that renewal notice arrives that you literally have the power to save yourself money and you are not obligated to accept the first offer which is presented to you and I truly hope you do not. If you need some more information, please do not hesitate to contact your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

27 Apr

10 First Time Homebuyer Mistakes

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

Ten Things In a Real Estate Transaction That Can Affect Your MortgageIf you’re on the hunt for your first home and want to have a smooth and successful home purchasing experience avoid these common first-time homebuying mistakes.

1. Thinking you don’t need a real estate agent

You might be able to find a house on your own but there are still many aspects of buying real estate that can confuse a first-time buyer. Rely on your agent to negotiate offers, inspections, financing and other details. The money you save on commission can be quickly gobbled up by a botched offer or overlooked repairs

2. Getting your heart set on a home before you do your homework

The house that’s love at first sight may not always be what it seems, so keep an open mind. Plus, you may be too quick to go over budget or may overlook a potential pitfall if you jump in too fast.

3. Picking a fixer-upper because the listing price is cheaper

That old classic may have loads of potential, but be extra diligent in the inspection period. What will it really cost to get your home where it needs to be? Negotiating a long due-diligence period will give you time to get estimates from contractors in case you need to back out.

4. Committing to more than you can afford

Don’t sacrifice retirement savings or an emergency fund for mortgage payments. You need to stay nimble to life’s changes, and overextending yourself could put your investments – including your house – on the line.

5. Going with the first agent who finds you

Don’t get halfway into house hunting before you realize your agent isn’t right for you. The best source: a referral from friends. Ask around and take the time to speak with your potential choices before you commit.

6. Diving into renovations as soon as you buy

Yes, renos may increase the value of your home, but don’t rush. Overextending your credit to get it all done fast doesn’t always pay off. Take time to make a solid plan and the best financial decisions. Living in your home for a while will also help you plan the best functional changes to the layout.

7. Choosing a house without researching the neighbourhood

It may be the house of your dreams, but annoying neighbours or a nearby industrial zone can be a rude awakening. Spend time in the area before you make an offer – talk to local business owners and residents to determine the pros and cons of living there.

8. Researching your broker and agent, but not your lawyer

New buyers often put all their energy into learning about mortgage rates and offers, but don’t forget that the final word in any deal comes from your lawyer. As with finding agents, your best source for referrals will be friends and business associates.

9. Fixating on the lowest interest rate

Yes, a reasonable rate is important, but not at the expense of heavy restrictions and penalties. Make a solid long-term plan to pay off your mortgage and then find one that’s flexible enough to accommodate life changes, both planned and unexpected. Be sure to talk your your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional to learn more.

10. Opting out of mortgage insurance

Your home is your largest investment so be sure to protect it. Mortgage insurance not only buys you peace of mind, it also allows for more flexible financing options. Plus, it allows you to take advantage of available equity to pay down debts or make financial investments.

11 Apr

Insured, Insurable & Uninsurable vs High Ratio & Conventional Mortgages


Posted by: Bonnie Barker

Insured, Insurable & Uninsurable ss High Ratio & Conventional Mortgages

You might think you would be rewarded for toiling away to save a down payment of 20% or greater. Well, forget it. Your only prize for all that self-sacrifice is paying a higher interest rate than people who didn’t bother.

Once upon a time we had high ratio vs conventional mortgages, now it’s changed to; insured, insurable and uninsurable.

High ratio mortgage – down payment less than 20%, insurance paid by the borrower.

Conventional mortgage – down payment of 20% or more, the lender had a choice whether to insure the mortgage or not.


Insured –a mortgage transaction where the insurance premium is or has been paid by the client. Generally, 19.99% equity or less to apply towards a mortgage.

Insurable –a mortgage transaction that is portfolio-insured at the lender’s expense for a property valued at less than $1MM that fits insurer rules (qualified at the Bank of Canada benchmark rate over 25 years with a down payment of at least 20%).

Uninsurable – is defined as a mortgage transaction that is ineligible for insurance. Examples of uninsurable re-finance, purchase, transfers, 1-4 unit rentals (single unit Rentals—Rentals Between 2-4 units are insurable), properties greater than $1MM, (re-finances are not insurable) equity take-out greater than $200,000, amortization greater than 25 years.

The biggest difference where the mortgage consumers are feeling the effect is simply the interest rate. The INSURED mortgage products are seeing a lower interest rate than the INSURABLE and UNINSURABLE products, with the difference ranging from 20 to 40 basis points (0.20-0.40%). This is due in large part to the insurance premium increase that took effect March 17, 2017. As well, the rule changes on October 17, 2017 prevented lenders from purchasing insurance on conventional funded mortgages. By the Federal Government limiting the way lenders could insure their book-of-business meant the lenders need to increase the cost. We as consumers pay for that increase.

The insurance premiums are in place for few reasons; to protect the lenders against foreclosure, fraudulent activity and subject property value loss. The INSURED borrower’s mortgages have the insurance built in. With INSURABLE and UNINSURABLE it’s the borrower that pays a higher interest rate, this enables the lender to essential build in their own insurance premium. Lenders are in the business of lending money and minimize their exposure to risk. The insurance insulates them from potential future loss.

By the way, the 90-day arrears rate in Canada is extremely low. With a traditional lender’s in Canada it is 0.28% and non-traditional lenders it is 0.14%. So, somewhere between 99.72% and 99.86% of all Canadians pay their monthly mortgage every month.

In today’s lending landscape is there any reason to save the necessary down payment or do you buy now? Saving may avoid the premium, but is it worth it? You may end up with a higher interest rate.

By having to wait for as little as one year as you accumulate 20% down, are you then having to pay more for the same home? Are you missing out on the market?

When is the right time to buy? NOW.

Here’s a scenario is based on 2.59% interest with 19.99% or less down and 2.89% interest for a mortgage with 20% or greater down, 25-year amortization. In this scenario, it takes one year to save the funds required for the 20% down payment.

  • First-time homebuyer
  • Starting small, buying a condo
  • 18.9% price increase this year over last

Purchase Price $300,000
5% Down Payment $15,000
Mtg Insurance Premium $11,400 (4% as of March 17, 2017)
Starting Mtg Balance $296,400
Mortgage Payment $1,341.09

Purchase Price $356,700 (1 year later)

20% Down Payment $71,340
Mtg Insurance Premium $0
Starting Mtg Balance $285,360
Mortgage Payment $1,334.40

The difference in the starting mortgage balance is $11,040, which is $360 less than the total insurance premium. As well, the overall monthly payment is only $6.69 higher by only having to save 5% and buying one year sooner. Note I have not even built in the equity that one has also accumulated in the year. The time to buy is NOW. Contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional so we can help!

10 Feb

RRSP’s For Your Down Payment??

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Bonnie Barker

Are you a first time home buyer and looking to use your RRSP’s as a down payment? Here’s a few things you need to know:

1. To use this program you must have not owned a home in the last 4 years but did you know that if your spouse owned a home previously and you didn’t live in the house then you may still qualify.

2. RRSP contributions need to be in the RRSP account for at least 90 days before they can be used. If you are a monthly contributor to the account then only the amounts there for more than 90 days can be used for down payment.

3. You can borrow money to put into an RRSP and have it be there 90 days to use for down payment. Using this method of acquiring the RRSP means that you must be sure of two things, one being that the lender is ok with you taking it out in 90 days. Secondly that it isn’t put into an account that will not have fees to take the money out, money market funds or simple 90 day term certificates shouldn’t cost you any penalty.

4. You can withdraw up to 25000 dollars from your RRSP to put down on a home. Locked in LIRA’s are not eligible for this program so make sure before you start down this path that you know what type of account you have your money located in at the bank.

5. You have to pay the amount you borrowed back to the RRSP account over the next 15 years. If you took 15000 dollars out you would need to repay $1,000 a year to the account. Failing to pay this money back may result in CRA taxing it as income.

6. You can contribute to your 2016 RRSP up until March 1st and receive a tax deduction for the contribution, this also applies if you borrowed the money to contribute. Theoretically you can also take the tax refund and apply it back to the loan or use it for your new home.

Contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional so we help you take advantage of this opportunity to enter the home owners market…We’ve got a mortgage for that!