FIXED VERSUS VARIABLE INTEREST RATES

General Kristine Rosalin 28 Feb

 

Fixed Interest Rates

This is usually the more popular choice for clients when it comes to deciding on which type of interest rate they want. There are many reasons why, but the most unsurprising answer is always safety. With a fixed interest rate, you know exactly what you are paying every month and you know that the amount of interest being charged for the term of your mortgage will not increase and it will not decrease. Fixed interest rates can be taken on 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, as well as 7 and 10-year terms. Please note, term is not meant to be confused with amortization. When you have a 5-year term but a 25-year amortization- the term is when your mortgage is up for renewal, but it will still take you the 25 years to pay off the entire debt. The biggest knock on fixed interest rates when it comes to mortgages, especially 5-year terms, is the potential penalty. If you want to break your mortgage and pay it out, switch lenders, take advantage of a lower rate, or anything like this and your term is not over, there will be a penalty. With a 5-year term, a fixed rate penalty can be anywhere from $1,000- $20,000 or more. It all depends on the lender’s current rates, what yours currently is, the length of time remaining on your term, and the balance outstanding. The formula used is called an IRD (interest rate differential) and the penalty owed will either be the amount this formula produces or three month’s interest- which ever is greater. Fixed interest rates, especially 5-year terms can be the most favourable. They are safe, competitive interest rates that you will not need to worry about changing for the term of your mortgage. However, if you do not have your mortgage for the entire term, it could hurt you.

Variable Rate Interest

The Bank of Canada sets what they call a target overnight rate and that interest rate influences the prime rate a lender offers consumers. A variable rate, is either the lender’s prime lending rate plus or minus another number. For example, let us say someone has a variable interest rate of prime minus 0.70. If their lender’s prime lending rate is 5.00% in this example, they have an effective interest rate of 4.30%. However, if for example the prime rate changed to 6.00%, the same person’s interest rate would now be 5.30%. Written on a mortgage, these interest rates would look like P-0.7. Variable interest rates are usually only available on 5-year terms with some lenders offering the possibility of taking a 3-year variable interest rate. When it comes to penalties, variable interest rates are almost always calculated using 3-months interest, NOT the IRD formula used to calculate the penalty on a fixed term mortgage. This ends up being significantly less expensive as breaking a 5-year term mortgage at a fixed rate of 3.49% with a balance of $500,000 will cost approximately $15,000. That is if you use the current progression of interest rates and broke it at the beginning of year 3. A variable interest rate of Prime Minus 0.5% with prime rate at 3.45% will only cost $3,800. That is a difference of $11,200. You can expect to pay this kind of amount for the safety of a fixed rate mortgage over 5-years if you break it early.

Which one is best?

It completely depends on the person. Your loan’s term (length of time before it either expires or is up for renewal) can be anywhere from a year to 5 years, or longer. A first-time home buyer typically has a mortgage term of 5 years. Within those 5 years, the prime rate could move up or down, but you won’t know by how much or when until it happens. Recently, variable rates have been lower than fixed rates, however, they run the risk of changing. With fixed interest rates, you know exactly what your payments will be and what it will cost you every month regardless of a lender’s prime rate changing. If you go to the site www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/bank-lending-rate you can see the 10-year history of lender’s prime lending rate. Because lenders usually change their prime lending rate together to match one another (except for TD), this graph is a good representation. As you can see, from 2008 to 2018, the interest rate has dropped from 5.75% to 2.25% all the way back up to 3.45%.  Canada has had this prime lending rate since 1960, and in that time it has seen an all-time high of 22.75% (1981) and all-time low of 2.25% (2010). Whether you want the risk of variable or the stability of a fixed rate is up to you, but allow this information to be the basis of your decision based on your own personal needs. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

BANK BROKER VS. MORTGAGE BROKERS | HERE’S THE SCOOP

General Kristine Rosalin 27 Feb

Ask any mortgage broker and they can tell you that there are a handful of misconceptions that the public has about working with a mortgage broker. From questioning their credentials (we all are regulated and licensed with in our own province, and are constantly re-educating ourselves) to assuming that the broker does not have access to the same rate as the banks (we do in fact—plus access to even more lending options) mortgage brokers have heard it all!

With the recent changes to the B-20 guidelines taking full effect as of January 1, 2018 the mortgage landscape is changing and we firmly believe in keeping our clients educated and informed. With these changes, there have been a number of misconceptions that have come to light regarding mortgage professionals and their “limitations” and we felt it was time to address them:

Myth 1: Independent Broker’s don’t have access to the rates the banks do.

Fact: Not true. Brokers have access to MORE rates and lenders than the bank. The bank brokers only have access to their rates-no other ones. A mortgage professional has access to:

• Tier 1 banks in Canada
• Credit Unions
• Monoline Lenders
• Alternative Lenders
• Private Lenders

This extensive network of lender options allows brokers to ensure that you are not only getting the sharpest rate, but that the mortgage product is also aligned with the client’s needs.

Myth 2: The consumer has to negotiate a rate with a lender directly.

Fact: Not true at all! Your mortgage professional will shop the market to find the best overall cost of borrowing for the client. Broker’s will look at all angles of the product to ensure that the client is getting one that will suit their unique and specific needs. Not once will the client be expected to shop their mortgage around or to speak to the lender. This is different from the bank where you are limited to only their rates and are left to negotiate with the bank’s broker—who is paid by the bank!

Myth 3: A Broker’s goal is to move the mortgage on each renewal.

Fact: A Mortgage Broker’s goal is to present multiple options to consumers so they can secure the optimal product for their specific and unique needs. This entails the broker looking at more than just the rate. A broker will look at:
• Prepayment options
• Costs of borrowing
• Portability
• Penalty to break
• Mortgage charges

And more. If the Broker determines that the current lender is the most ideal for their client at the time of renewal, then they will advise them to remain with that lender. The end goal of renewal is simple: provide clients the best ongoing, current advice at the time of origination and at the time of renewal

Myth 4: The broker receives a trailer fee if the client remains with the same lender at renewal.

Fact: This is on a case-to-case basis. At times, there is a small fee given to the broker if a client opts to renew with their current lender. This allows for accountability between the lender, broker, and customer in most cases. However, this is not always the case and the details of each renewal will vary.

Myth 5: If a Broker moves a mortgage to a new lender upon time of renewal then the full mortgage commission is received by the broker, allowing the broker to obtain “passive income” by constantly switching clients over.

Fact: Let’s clarify: If a client chooses to move their mortgage at renewal after a broker presents them with the best options, then it is in fact a new deal. By being a new deal, this means that the broker has all the work associated with any new file at that time. It is the equivalent of a brand-new mortgage and the broker will have to do the correct steps and work associated with it.

A second point of clarification-although the broker will earn income on this switch, the income (in most cases) is paid by the financial institution receiving the mortgage, NOT the client.

Myth 6: It costs a client more to renew with a mortgage broker.

Fact: Completely false. Clients SAVE MONEY when they work with a mortgage broker at . A broker has access to a variety of lenders and can offer discounts that the bank can’t. Additionally, most mortgage brokers offer continuous advice and information to their clients. Working with a broker is not a “one and done” deal as it is a broker’s goal to keep their clients informed, educated, and well-versed as to what is happening in the industry and how it will affect them. When you work with a broker instead of the bank, you not only get the best mortgage for you, but you also have access to a wealth of industry knowledge continuously.

Mortgage Brokers are a dedicated group of individuals who work directly for the client, not the lenders or the bank. Brokers are problem-solvers, advisors and honourable individuals. We work hard to give our clients the best that we can in an industry that constantly is evolving and changing.

If you have any misconceptions or questions about working with a broker-I’m happy to answer them and help you with your mortgage, your renewal, and everything and anything in between.

WHAT IS A COLLATERAL MORTGAGE?

General Kristine Rosalin 26 Feb

A collateral mortgage is a way of registering your mortgage on title. This type of registration is sometimes used by banks and credit unions. Monoline lenders, on the other hand, rarely register your mortgage as a collateral charge – which is an all-indebtedness charge that allows you to access the equity in the home over and above your mortgage, up to the total charge registered.

What this means is that you may be able to get a home equity line of credit and/or a readvanceable mortgage, or increase your mortgage without having to re-register a mortgage. This is a real benefit to you in some cases because re-registering your mortgage can cost up to a thousand dollars.

However, there are some negatives to having a collateral mortgage.

  • First and most glaring – because it is an “all indebtedness” mortgage – it brings into account all other debts held by that lender into an umbrella registered against your home. This means that your credit cards, car loans, or any related debt at your mortgage’s institution can be held against your home, even if you’re up to date with your mortgage payments.
  • Secondly, if you want to switch your mortgage over to a different lender, they may not accept the transfer of your specific collateral mortgage. This means you’ll need to pay additional fees to discharge the mortgage and register a new one.
  • And lastly, collateral mortgages make it more difficult to have flexibility to get a second mortgage, obtain a home equity line of credit from a different institution, or use a different financial instrument on your home. This is because your collateral mortgage is often registered for the whole amount of your property.

To recap, collateral mortgages give you the flexibility to combine multiple mortgage products under one umbrella mortgage product while tying you up with that one lender. While this type of mortgage can be a great tool when used correctly, it does have its drawbacks. If you have any questions, give me a call.

RRSP – USE HOME BUYERS’ PLAN (HBP) MORE THAN ONCE

General Kristine Rosalin 22 Feb

Under the home buyers’ plan, a participant and his or her spouse or common- law partner is allowed to withdraw up to $25,000 from his or her RRSP to buy a home. Before 1999, only the first- time home buyers are permitted to buy a home under this plan. Now a person can take an advantage of HBP plan more than one, two, three, four or more times as long as the participant in this plan fulfills all other conditions. The house can be existing or can be built.

Are you a first – time home buyer?
You are considered a first-time home buyer if, in the four year period, you did not occupy a home that you or your current spouse or common-law partner owned. The four-year period begins on January 1st of the fourth year before the year you withdraw funds and ends 31 days before the date you withdraw the funds.
For example, if you withdraw funds on March 31, 2018, the four-year period begins on January 1, 2014 and ends on February 28, 2018.
If you have previously participated in the HBP, you may be able to do so again if your repayable HBP balance on January 1st of the year of the withdrawal is zero and you meet all the other HBP eligibility conditions.
Qualifying home – a qualifying home is a housing unit located in Canada. This includes existing homes and those being constructed. Single-family homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, mobile homes, condominium units, and apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings all qualify. A share in a co-operative housing corporation that entitles you to possess, and gives you an equity interest in a housing unit located in Canada, also qualifies.

Repayment of withdrawal amount into RRSP
Generally, you have up to 15 years to repay to your RRSP, the amounts you withdrew from your RRSP(s) under the HBP. However, you can repay the full amount into your RRSP(s)
Each year, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will send you a Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) statement of account, with your notice of assessment or notice of reassessment.
The statement will include:
• the amount you have repaid so far (including any additional payments and amounts you included on your income tax and benefit return because they were not repaid);
• your remaining HBP balance; and
• the amount you have to contribute to your RRSP and designate as a repayment for the following year.

If you have any questions call me.

PRE-SALES- SAFE OF NEW RULES?

General Kristine Rosalin 21 Feb

The best part about pre-sales, especially for first time home buyers, is it allows you to reserve a unit for the cost of a deposit and have a significant amount of time to get everything in order. You can save money while renting or living at home, arrange a mortgage that best suits your needs, take advantage of higher income if your employer has scheduled raises, cash in on property appreciation without making a mortgage payment, a lot of good things.

The main drawback however, is of course, time itself. Anyone who has had a signed a pre-sale contract prior to January 1st, 2018, with a closing date sometime in the next year or two, will know what I am referring to.

Back in the fall of 2016 we had our first stress test introduced which lead to only 20% down payment applicants being able to qualify at a 5-year fixed contract rate. With people qualifying at a 5-year fixed rate, they were able to potentially borrow more money, leading to a lot of people saving up or getting gifted down payments for their pre-sale condos.

Well, fast forward from Fall of 2016 to Winter of 2017, and yet another stress test was introduced, this time, removing the ability for anyone to qualify at their 5-year contract term- regardless of down payment size. For several months, it was not made clear by the government how pre-sale contracts were going to be treated when they were signed before January 1st 2018 with a closing date after January 1st, 2018.

The good news is, lenders have the ability to grandfather in those contracts signed prior to the new stress test, which was enforced January 1st, 2018.

This was important for those who just barely qualified for their mortgage on a pre-sale with 20% down and a qualifying rate equal to their contract rate. The reason why is because if someone was qualified at 3.20% and was just barely approved but now had to qualify at an interest rate of 5.14% (current BoC Benchmark), they would have to sell their contract to buy because they no longer could afford to close.

It is relief for anyone, that pre-sale properties are being grandfathered in for these new changes and will allow those who have paid their deposit to hold on to their contract to purchase. Pre-sales are a way of the future and it is important for the experience to be a pleasant one! If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional near you.

THE ROLE OF THE INSURER IN A MORTGAGE

General Kristine Rosalin 20 Feb

Any time a down payment for the mortgage is less than 20%, it is required that the mortgage must be insured thru an Insurer. Why does this mortgage need to be insured, who provides this type of insurance, what does this insurance mean, who is the beneficiary, how much does this insurance cost? All these questions need to be addressed when your down payment is less than 20%.
To start, we need to know certain terms.
High Ratio Mortgage – Also known as insured mortgage is any mortgage where the down payment is less than 20%, also defined where the loan to value ratio is more than 80%.
Conventional Mortgage – Any mortgage where the down payment or equity is 20% or more and in other words the loan to value ratio is less than 80%.
There are three companies in Canada that provide this type of insurance, Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, Canada Capital and Genworth.
The insurance is needed to provide flexibility to buyers in Canada to purchase a property with as little as 5% down payment at the same time the lender is the beneficiary as it protects them in case the borrower defaults on the loan.
The insurance premium is paid once as a lump sum at the time of the purchase of the property and can be added to the mortgage. Premium amount depends upon the down payment and the insurer and can be anywhere from 1.8% to 4.5% of the borrowed amount.
Since insured mortgages are less risk to the lenders, they in turn can offer lesser and more attractive interest rates and mortgage terms.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this insurance is NOT the same as Mortgage Life Insurance. In your life insurance, the beneficiary is the person who you select to be; usually a family member so in case anything happens to you then your family is protected, and your mortgage loan is paid off. But in High Ratio Mortgage Insurance the lender is protected in case the loan defaults.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call me.

CANADIAN HOME SALES SLIDE IN JANUARY LED BY GREATER GOLDEN HORSESHOE

General Kristine Rosalin 17 Feb

It is no surprise that housing activity slowed in January following a pulling-forward sales surge as homebuyers hurried to purchase before the mortgage rule changes in 2018. The January 1 implementation of the new OSFI B-20 regulations requires that uninsured mortgage borrowers be stress-tested at a mortgage rate 200 basis points above the contract rate at federally regulated financial institutions.

Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that housing activity retreated to the lowest monthly level in three years in January. Sales were down in three-quarters of all local markets, including virtually all major urban centres. Many of the larger declines in percentage terms were posted in Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) markets, where sales had picked up late last year following the announcement of tighter mortgage rules coming into effect in January.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 2.4% from January 2017 and stood close the 10-year average for January. Sales came in below year-ago levels in about half of all local markets, led by those in the GGH region. By contrast, sales were up on a year-over-year (y-o-y) basis in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, the Okanagan Region, Edmonton, Montreal, Greater Moncton and Halifax-Dartmouth.

According to the CREA President Andrew Peck, “The piling on of yet more mortgage rule changes that took effect starting New Year’s Day has created homebuyer uncertainty and confusion. At the same time, the changes do nothing to address government concerns about home prices that stem from an ongoing supply shortage in major markets like Vancouver and Toronto. Unless these supply shortages are addressed, concerns will persist.”

New Listings Fall Sharply

The number of newly listed homes plunged 21.6% in January to reach the lowest level since the spring of 2009. New supply was down in about 85% of all local markets, led by a sizeable decline in the GTA. Large percentage declines were also recorded in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, the Okanagan Region, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London and St. Thomas, Kingston and Ottawa, closely mirroring the list of markets that saw the most significant sales declines in January.
With new listings having fallen by more than sales, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 63.6% in January compared to the mid-to-high 50% range to which it held since last May.

A national sales-to-new listings ratio of between 40% and 60% is generally consistent with a balanced national housing market, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers’ and sellers’ markets respectively. That said, the balanced range can vary among local markets.

Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with its long-term average, a little over half of all local markets were in balanced market territory in January 2018. The ratio in many markets moved one standard deviation or more above its long-term average in January due to large declines in new supply.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

Price gains have slowed considerably on a y-o-y basis in the GTA, Guelph, and Oakville-Milton; however, home prices in the former two markets remain above year-ago levels (GTA: +5.2% y o-y; Guelph: +10.9% y-o-y; Oakville-Milton: -1.2% y-o-y). Monthly prices in these markets have shown signs of stabilizing in recent months after having climbed rapidly in early 2017 and subsequently retreated.

Calgary benchmark home prices were down slightly (-0.5% y-o-y), as were home prices in Regina and Saskatoon (-4.9% y-o-y and -4.1% y-o-y, respectively).

Benchmark home prices rose by 7.2% y-o-y in Ottawa (led by an 8.1% increase in two-storey single family home prices), by 5.2% in Greater Montreal (led by a 6.2% increase in in two-storey single family home prices) and by 7.5% in Greater Moncton (driven by an 11% increase in one-storey single family home prices). (Table below).

IMPROVING YOUR CREDIT SCORE

General Kristine Rosalin 15 Feb

Your credit score is a big factor when you apply for a mortgage. It can dictate how good your interest rate will be and the type of mortgage you qualify for.

Mortgage Professionals are experienced helping clients with a wide range of credit scores so we can find you a mortgage product even if your credit is far from perfect.

The good news about your credit score is that it can be improved:

  • Stop looking for more credit. If you’re frequently seeking credit that can affect your score as can the size of the balances you carry. Every time you apply for credit there is a hard credit check. It is particularly important that you not apply for a credit card in the six months leading up to your mortgage application. These credit checks may stay on your file for up to three years.
  • If your credit card is maxed out all the time, that’s going to hurt your credit score. Make some small monthly regular payments to reduce your balance and start using your debit card more. It’s important that you try to keep your balance under 30% or even 20% of your credit limit.
  • It’s also important to make your credit payments on time. People are often surprised that not paying their cell phone bill can hurt their credit score in the same way as not making their mortgage payment.
  • You should use your credit cards at least every few months. That’s so its use is reported to credit reporting agencies. As long as you pay the balance off quickly you won’t pay any interest.
  • You may wish to consider special credit cards used to rebuild credit. You simply make a deposit on the card and you get a credit limit for the value of that deposit. They are easy to get because the credit card company isn’t taking any risks.

Call me if you have any questions.

WHAT’S AN ACCEPTABLE DOWN PAYMENT FOR A HOUSE?

General Kristine Rosalin 14 Feb

Ask people this question and you will get a variety of answers.  Most home owners will say 10% is what you should put down. However, if you speak with your grandparents, they are likely to suggest that 20% is what you need for a down payment.

The truth is 5% is the minimum down payment that you can make on a home in Canada. If you are planning on buying a $200,000 home then you need $10,000.

It all can be explained by the creation of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing corporation (CMHC) by the Canadian government on January 1st, 1946. Before this time, you needed to have 20% down payment to purchase a home . This made home ownership difficult for many Canadians. CMHC  was created to ease home ownership. This was done by offering mortgage default insurance. Basically what CMHC does is it guarantees that you will not default on your mortgage payments. If you do, they will reimburse the lender who gave you the mortgage up to 100% of what the homeowner borrowed. In return lenders allow you to purchase a home with a smaller down payment and a lower interest rate.

CMHC charges an insurance premium for this service to cover any losses that may occur from defaulted mortgages. This program was so successful that CMHC lowered the minimum down payment to 5% in the 1980’s.

However, if you have little credit history or some late payments in the past they may ask you to provide 10% instead of the tradition 5% if they feel there is a risk that you may default at some time.

You should also be aware that the more money you put down, the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. You also can save thousands in mortgage default insurance premiums by putting 20% down.  At this time,  home buyers who put 5% down have to pay a fee of 4% to CMHC or one of the other mortgage default insurers to obtain home financing. On a $400,000 home this is close to $16,000.

If you can provide a 10% down payment the insurance premium falls to 3.10% and if you can provide 20% it drops to zero.  While 20% can seem like an impossible amount to save, you can use a combination of savings, a gift from family and/or a portion of your RRSP savings to achieve this figure. The best recommendation that I can make is to speak with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional to discuss your options and where to start on your home buying adventure.

6 HOME PURCHASE CLOSING COSTS

General Kristine Rosalin 7 Feb

 

When you purchase your home, there are 6 additional costs to account for. They include:

  • Home Fire and Flood Insurance
  • Title Insurance
  • Legal Fees
  • Adjustments
  • Land Transfer Tax
  • GST

Here’s an overview of what you can expect.

Home and Fire Insurance. Mortgage lenders will require a certificate of fire insurance to be in place by the time you take possession of your home. The amount required is generally at least the amount of the mortgage or the replacement cost of the home. This cost can vary on the property size and extras being insured, as well as the insurance company and the municipality. Home insurance can vary anywhere from $400 per year for condos to $2,000 for large homes.

Title Insurance. This is a one-time fee of about $150 and it protects you against any issues, defects or fraud on your title. Your lawyer or notary helps you purchase this.

Legal Fees. Thirdly, you are required to pay legal fees. Your lawyer or notary will charge you anywhere from $700 to $1,000 to help with your purchase. There are also fees to register your title with the municipalities. All told, you’re looking at around $1,000 to 1,300, after tax.

Adjustments. An adjustment is a cost to you to pay the seller back for prepaying any property tax or condo fees on your behalf. Simply put, if you take possession in the middle of a month, the seller has already paid for the whole month and you must pay the seller back for what they’re not using.

Land transfer tax. Land transfer tax, or property transfer tax (PTT) as it’s known as in British Columbia, is a fee that is charged to you by the province. First-time home buyers are exempt from this fee if they are purchasing a property under $500,000. All home buyers are exempt if they are purchasing a new property under $750,000.

In British Columbia, the PTT is 1% on the first $200,000 of purchase and 2% thereafter. However, if the property being purchased is over $2,000,000, then it is 3% on any value over $2,000,000.

GST. GST is only paid on new construction purchases. GST is 5% on the purchase price. However, there is a partial GST rebate on properties under $450,000.

Please don’t hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional for your home financing and mortgage needs.

12