HOW TO NAVIGATE THE MORTGAGE RATE WARS

General Kristine Rosalin 31 May

You may have heard that rates are changing, and that is true. They don’t call it war for nothing and you need an expert by your side!

Think of mortgage brokers as your loyal soldiers. What we are seeing is exactly what we anticipated when prime rate goes up and discounts go down. Confused? Don’t be, variable rates are based on prime and both Bank of Canada Prime and Bank Prime are different.

What the new discount means is what it means – they anticipate prime to go up higher.

With current regulations, borrowers qualify for more mortgages on a variable rates! This is a shift from the previous policy where more Canadians were having to take fixed rates to qualify for the most.

These new discounts on new mortgages getting taken out there discount is lower off of the bank’s prime rate- this does not apply to an existing mortgage

Did you notice earlier I said the bank’s prime rate, you would think they are all the same… right?

This is not the case. In November of 2016 one Canadian lender broke the trend of their counterparts and raised their internal prime to immediately impact their existing customers by adding to their amortization. This discount below was for new clients they increased the discount so it looked bigger.

It’s important to note – each lender has unique criteria to be met to get these offers: some only for purchases, some only with switches, some only certain amortizations, and some only certain property types. The list goes on!

Remember your broker shops all these lenders without bias, while protecting your credit score to assist you in finding the best one. It’s important that we evaluate the following criteria with these lenders- here is an example of three lenders:

Lender one

  • Bank has a higher Prime than anyone else
  • No change to payment
  • Increases amortization  which can put into effect a trigger clause- cash call in on mortgage or forced pre-payment and other costs such as appraisal at your expense
  • Not portable
  • Does have a 12 month penalty payback if getting a larger mortgage at new rates! Best one!
  • Have to go to branch to lock in and then be subject to their IRD (usually 3-5% of balance pending where you are in your term).
  • Based on history this lender is generally the first to raise their rates and last to decrease

 

Lender two

  • Prime rate consistent with all lenders
  • Change to payment so amortization doesn’t increase
  • NO trigger clause
  • Have to go to branch to lock in and face large IRD between 3-5%
  • Not portable but will refund you within 6 months if the mortgage is larger and will get rate available at that time

 

Lender three

  • Prime consistent with all lenders
  • Change to payment so amortization doesn’t increase
  • NO trigger clause
  • lender will pay back penalty within 3 months of getting a larger mortgage with them
  • your mortgage expert can assist you with lock in
  • If you lock in they have the lowest penalties in the country to break your mortgage in the future, generally 1-1.5% of the balance

With seven-in-10 mortgages breaking before the term is over, this should be weighted very carefully.

Let me demonstrate the following:

A mortgage that gets locked in with first or second lender above at $500,000, by the third year the cost to break a mortgage will be between $15,000 and $25,000. With the third lender the cost would be between $5,000 and $7,500.

What to do with this info?

These new wars apply to new mortgages. If you have a mortgage with a discount less than .50, a renewal upcoming, looking at accessing your equity for home renovations or to consolidate debt and you have a variable rate, it may be time to run the numbers to see if taking a new variable rate mortgage is beneficial for you. One of the significant benefits of having a VRM is to get out at any time with only three months interest penalty (unless a restrictive product was taken for a better rate or had a sale only clause).

As you can see we have only scratched the surface in terms of the differences. There are many other differences and mainly you have to consider as a consumer, do you want to be calling a bank branch and play Russian roulette with the education level and sales goals of the person who guides you through deciding what to do with your biggest asset? Or would you rather have a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional who is in the front lines proactively guiding you and assessing the economic factors to give you personalized advice based on their experience and knowledge of the mortgage industry.

Depends on what you value most!

FIXED VERSUS VARIABLE INTEREST!

General Kristine Rosalin 25 May

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) (tradingeconomics.com). 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, don’t hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker.

A FEW REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE

General Kristine Rosalin 23 May

Five-year fixed mortgage rates continued their upward march last week as the five-year Government of Canada (GoC) bond yield they are priced on hit its highest level in seven years. Meanwhile, five-year variable-rate discounts deepened, further widening the gap between five-year fixed and variable rates.

When I started working in the mortgage industry in 2005, variable rate mortgages saved you more money than fixed rate mortgages 95 out of the past 100 years. First time home buyers were worried about what their home costs would be and avoided variable rate mortgages (VRM’s) because of the risk of rates going up higher than the fixed rate, but experienced home owners often took a VRM at mortgage renewal time.

However, in the past 5 years, most people have gravitated towards fixed rates because the gap between fixed and variable rates was small enough that the cost of uncertainty outweighed the potential reward for most borrowers.

Once again , the gap is widening. While fixed rate mortgages are going up due to the bond yield, variable rate mortgages have moved in the other direction.  Two years ago a VRM would be offered at Prime rate + .20%,  but later it reverted to Prime – .30% . In recent months, rates have dropped even further with some lenders offering Prime -1.0% !  You now have a choice between a 5-year fixed rate of 3.44-3.59% depending on the lender and a variable rate with a discount that calculates out to 2.45% . With a gap this large, it’s worth considering if you are risk tolerant enough to have a VRM.

Even if you are skittish, you can ask your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker to notify you if rates are going up and switch you to a fixed rate if they go above a certain percentage. Will your bank do that for you? I don’t think so. Be sure to have this discussion with your broker when your mortgage comes up for renewal or if you are considering a home purchase.

5 WAYS YOU CAN KILL YOUR MORTGAGE APPROVAL

General Kristine Rosalin 17 May

So, you found your dream home, negotiated a fair price which was accepted. You supplied all the needed documentation to your mortgage broker and you are waiting for the day that you go to the lawyer’s to sign the final paperwork and pick up the keys.

All of a sudden your broker or the lawyer calls to say that there’s a problem. How could this be? Everything has been signed and conditions have been removed. What many home buyers do not realize is that your financing approval is based on the information the lender was provided at the time of the application. If there have been any changes to your financial situation, the lender is within their rights to cancel your mortgage approval. There are 5 things that can make home financing go sideways.

1 Employment – You were working for ABC company as a clerk for 5 years making $50,000 a year and just before home possession you change jobs. The lender will now ask for proof that probation for this new job is waived and new job letters and pay stubs at the very least. If you change industries they will want to see more proof that you are capable of keeping this job.
If your new job involves overtime or bonuses of any kind that vary over time, they will ask for a 2 year average which you will not be able to provide.
Another item that could ruin your chances of getting the mortgage is if you decide to change from an employee to a self-employed contractor just before possession day. Even though you are in the same industry, your employment status has changed . This is a big deal killer.

2. Debt – A week or two before your possession date, the lender will obtain a copy of your credit report and look for any changes to your debt load. Your approval was based on how much you owed on that particular date. Buying a new car or items for the new home need to be postponed until after possession of your new home.
Don’t be fooled by “Do not pay for 12 months” sales campaigns. You now owe this money regardless of when the payments start. Don’t buy a new car and don’t buy furniture for the new home. This will increase your debt ratio and can nullify your financing.

3. Down payment source – And yet again I reiterate that the approval is based on the initial information you have provided. You will be asked at the lawyer’s office to verify the source of the down payment and if it is different than what the lender has approved, then you may be in trouble. For example, you said that you were going to save the funds and then at the last minute Mom and Dad offer you the funds as a gift. There’s no problem accepting the gift if the lender knows about it in advance and has included this in their risk assessment, but it can end a deal.

4. Credit – Don’t forget to make your regular credit card payments. If your credit score falls due to late payments, this can kill your financing. If you have a high ratio mortgage in place which required CMHC insurance, a lower credit score could mean a withdrawal of their insurance once again , killing the deal.

5-Identity Documents – This can be a deal killer at the lawyer’s office. The lawyer is required to verify your identity documents and see that they match the mortgage documents. Many Canadians use their middle names if they have the same name as their parent. Lots of new Canadians adopt a more Canadian sounding name for their day-to-day lives but their passports and other documents show another name.

Be sure to use your legal name when you apply for a mortgage to avoid this catastrophe . Finally, keep in touch with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional right up to possession day. Make this a happy experience rather than a heartbreaking one.

WHAT IS A REFINANCE?

General Kristine Rosalin 7 May

Refinancing a home is one of those things where people understand what it is but have trouble explaining how it works. To put it simply, refinancing your home allows you to access the equity you have built up, by changing the mortgage amount.

Let’s say you bought a $300,000 condo and you paid 20% ($60,000) as your down payment and had a mortgage of $240,000. Over the next 4 years, you continue making payments and pay down the $240,000 you owed and now that amount is only $230,000. Your mortgage is up for renewal in a year, but you want to do some renovations and you need to access the equity in your home- this is where a refinance could come into play.

What this means is you will get an appraisal of your current home and submit that to a lender. Let’s say your $300,000 condo is now worth $350,000 and you owe $230,000. You have built up an additional $60,000 in equity ($350,000 – $230,000 owing – $60,000 initial down payment= $60,000). You have a mortgage of $230,000 on a home worth $350,000, therefor your equity in the home is $120,000.

To access that $120,000, you can refinance your mortgage. So let’s say you want to go back and take $50,000 from the $120,000 you have built up. Your new mortgage would go from $230,000 to $280,000, and that $50,000 is going to go from the lender to you. You are borrowing money from the lender, but adding that money back on top of your mortgage.

This is why people will refinance their home to make larger purchases. The bank will lend you the money now and get it back in the future, plus interest, because it is being added to the mortgage.

This is just one way people are able to use their home to access cash. Other ways people can do this, especially if they are looking to complete renovations, is through home equity lines of credit, collateral charges, and purchase plus mortgages. Knowing this before you buy can be extremely beneficial, that is why it is important to work with a qualified Dominion Lending Centres broker!

FIXED RATES ARE ON THE RISE. ARE YOU READY?

General Kristine Rosalin 1 May

With the Bank of Canada holding rates steady this April, the same is not the case for the bond market, which impacts fixed rates.
In every interest-rate market there are many factors leading to and increase and we are hoping to provide a little bit of clarity on what is happening and what it means to you and your loved ones.
At this time, we see fixed rates increasing as the bond market increases, and our economists anticipate two more Bank of Canada increases of prime rate by the end of 2018.
Why do we note this information and how does it relate to you?

If you are in a variable rate, you will want to:
1. Review your lock-in options. Knowing it’s unlikely the prime rate will reduce and fixed rates are on the rise, there could be a sweet spot to review your options now.
2. If you decide not to lock in, it’s time to review your discount to see if a higher one can be obtained elsewhere.

Locking in won’t be for everyone, especially if you are making higher payments and your mortgage is below $300,000, which most people fit and will continue on that path. Locking in will be up to a 1% higher rate than you are likely presently paying.
If however rates raising another 50 basis points this year and knowing you can likely lock in below 4% now is most attractive to you, this may be your time. The next announcement from the BOC on Prime Rates is May 30th 2018

If you are in a fixed rate:
1. If you obtained your mortgage in the last year, stay put.
2. If you are looking to move up the property ladder or consolidate debt, get your application in to us ASAP so we can hold options for up to 120 days.
3. If you are up for renewal this year or know someone who is, secure your options now with us as we keep a watchful eye on the market.

Please do not hesitate to call me, so I can help ensure you or a loved one is on the right path in our ever changing market.