8 Steps to Home Ownership

General Brandon Gervais 17 May

There’s nothing quite like stepping into your dream home for the very first time.

You have achieved your goal of homeownership! However, the journey from home seeker to home buyer can be challenging – unless you have a well-defined plan and guidance from the right professionals. As a mortgage agent, here’s how I will help you reach your objective:

STEP 1 GETTING TO KNOW YOU
In the discovery phase, we will discuss your situation, the essentials and “nice to haves” you’d like in your new home, and how long you plan to live there. Based on your desired move-in date, we’ll work out a timetable for your home-buying process.

STEP 2 BUILDING A BUDGET
I’ll help you create a monthly budget and then calculate a down payment and mortgage payments that fit into it. Together, we’ll also work through a financial check-up that considers how changes in income and expenses could affect your plan.

STEP 3 CUSTOMIZING THE SOLUTION
There are many different types of mortgages, and it’s important to select one that matches your current needs and preferences. I will ask you a series of questions that should help to reveal your priorities.

STEP 4 TESTING SCENARIOS
Together, we’ll try out different mortgage scenarios, and I’ll show you how changes in income, property taxes, condo fees, loans and other variables affect your maximum mortgage amount and mortgage payments. My goal is to make sure you can comfortably afford your mortgage.

STEP 5 ARRANGING PRE-APPROVAL
It’s a good idea to get pre-approval for a mortgage before you find your dream home and make an offer — that way, you can be confident that financing is available. I’ll walk you through the paperwork and guide
you towards the most suitable lender.

STEP 6 ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS
Now it’s time to get serious with a Realtor and view properties that fit your price range. If you have any questions along the way, be sure to give me a call.

STEP 7 SEALING THE DEAL
I’ll work closely with your Realtor & Notary to make sure everything is in place for the closing. That’s the day you pay your down payment and get the keys to your new home.

STEP 8 IT’S TIME TO MOVE IN!
From start to finish, the plan we develop together will see you through the home-buying process. Even after you’ve settled into your dream home, we’ll periodically review your current situation to determine if we need to make any alterations to your original mortgage plan

Who pays your mortgage broker? Not you!

General Brandon Gervais 13 May

If you’re looking to get a mortgage and considering a mortgage broker, there’s a good chance you’re wondering about how much the service costs.

Good news! Clients looking to get a standard residential mortgage pay no fees to the broker.

On standard residential mortgages, it’s 100% free for the clients. We’re paid by the bank or by the lending institution that we give the mortgage to.

But it’s not the only advantage a broker can bring you. When you’re shopping for a mortgage at a bank, they’re only able to offer you something from their stable of products. A broker, however, is able to shop at different banks to get you the best product for your needs.

If you don’t fit in the bank’s box of products, then you don’t get the mortgage. When you go to a mortgage broker, the mortgage broker has access to every lender on the market and is able to sell you basically everything to find a solution that makes the most amount of sense for you.

Because they’re able to shop around, in many cases the broker is able to find you a better rate on your mortgage.

In addition, mortgage brokers are licensed professionals covered by provincial governing bodies that looks out for you, the consumer. In many cases, the person you’re dealing with at the bank is just a salesperson, without any requirement they be licensed.

So, if you’re in the market for a new home, try a mortgage broker. It’s the safer, smarter choice for your mortgage. Get in touch with me for a no-obligation chat.

What is your best rate?

General Brandon Gervais 9 May

One of the most common questions asked in the mortgage industry is. What is your best rate? You would automatically think this is a pretty easy question to answer, but I can assure you it’s not quite that simple. Today is a totally different market, here are some of the variables that come into play when quoting your best rate.

1. What’s your credit score? A 700 FICO score is the new 650 for many lenders as their investors demand better quality borrowers.

2. Where is the property located? Rural areas are getting harder to finance.

3. Is it an insured file, are you putting less than 20% down payment?

4. Is it insurable? Are you putting down more than 20% on the purchase but it can qualify under the stress test, currently 5.34%?

5. Is the loan to value going to be 65% or less? You get the same rate as the guy with 5% down and have to qualify with the same criteria.

6. Are you looking to refinance or buy a rental? Sorry, both are uninsurable and have to qualify at 5.34% but you have to pay a higher interest rate.

7. So how about your employment; have you been on your job or at least in the same industry for the last 2 or more years?

8. Down payment requires a 90-day statement of where it has been kept, please be sure that it was in a bank as anything else seems to be picked to death. Larger gifts lately have required the gifter to show the money was in their account. God forbid they should have won it at a casino as they will want the print out from the cage boss.

9. How fast is your deal closing, as there are quick close rates usually for insured deals.

10. While supposedly everyone is to be able to qualify at 44%TDS and 39% GDS, it’s not always the case as CMHC is still in some instances lower than a 680 FICO score and is wanting the client to be qualified at the old standard of 42% and 35%, which again cuts back the qualifying amounts.

As you can see what’s your best rate has a lot of things come into play today and anyone who gives you a rate over the phone has hopefully asked you at least some of these questions. The best rate today is more about what fits your situation but the old adage of who, what, where and how still apply. Once we have asked the questions, we have to audit the answers to make sure it’s the best fit for your situation. If you have any questions, contact me at 289-682-7633 or by email at bgervais@dominionlending.ca.

5 THINGS NOT TO DO BEFORE CLOSING ON YOUR NEW HOME

General Brandon Gervais 8 May

1. Change your job. You were qualified for your mortgage financing based on your income, years at the job and the understanding that you were there for a while. Changing jobs should be put off until after possession day.

2 – Changing your name. Make sure that your identification and your name match. Do not change from John Smith to J. Michael Smith during this critical time.

3- Make any large purchases. Put off buying new furniture for your future home or a new car. The debt ratios were calculated based on your present debt obligations. It can also be bad to pay off any existing accounts. Some lenders want you to have some cash in the bank for a rainy day. They may have given you an approval with this in mind.

4- Switch banks or move money to a different institution. This may not sound like much but a paper trail to show your down payment source and the automatic withdrawal forms for your mortgage payments are all set up. You can change them after the house sale closes.

5 – Don’t miss any payments on credit cards or loans you already have. Lenders often pull another credit report a few days before closing. If you’ve missed a payment on your Visa card, it could mess up your home purchase big time.
Finally, check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional if you are unclear about anything between the time when you receive your approval and possession day.

How to pick the best mortgage for YOUR situation

General Brandon Gervais 1 May

Most Canadians are conditioned to think that the lowest interest rate means the best mortgage product. Although sometimes that is true, a mortgage is much more than just an interest rate. You can save yourself a lot of money if you pay attention to the fine print for the total cost of your mortgage.

In order to pick the best mortgage, you need to understand your options. This comes with mortgage intelligence, understanding how mortgages work and the pros and cons of the various options.
Once you’ve selected the type of mortgage, then you’ll need to shop for the most competitive option available to you and that means making some decisions based on your specific situation including:

• Are you planning to move in the next 5 years
• Will your family be growing/shrinking?
• Will your employment change and if it does will you need to relocate?
• Would thousands of dollars in penalties impact you if you need to break your mortgage?
• What types of debts do you have? Credit cards? Car loan? Student loan? Line of Credit?

Why do all this work? Because it will have a direct impact on your bottom line. A mortgage is made up of two parts—the principal and interest—you need to pay attention to how and when these parts get paid down. Ideally, you want to minimize your interest payments and maximize the principal payments.

New Government Stress Test Jan. 1, 2018 – whichever is the highest is how you must qualify for a mortgage.
• Qualify at the Chartered Bank Benchmark Rate (Government Rate) which fluctuates (currently 5.34%)
• OR the contract rate your lender gives you PLUS 2% i.e. 3.69% + 2% = 5.69%
• Since 5.69% is the highest – that would be the stress tested rate.
What this means to you is… if you have to qualify for a mortgage at a rate about 2% higher than the lender is giving you, your buying power decreases by about 20%.
To pick the best formula for your situation, you’ll first need to understand some of the factors that impact how much interest you’ll pay for your mortgage loan.

Understanding these 6 mortgage terms will help you make the best decision for your situation

Amortization

Amortization is a fancy word that means the “life of your mortgage” OR how long it takes to pay off your mortgage if you paid your mortgage for “X” years. The amount of your mortgage loan repayment is calculated based on a length of time you agree to pay off that debt. In Canada, the standard amortization period is 25 years.

• For a 30-year amortization you need a 20% or higher down payment
Picking the best mortgage is not just about qualifying for the mortgage. The amortization period is integral in the best mortgage decision because it will decide how much or how little interest you will pay during the life of the mortgage loan.
• The longer the amortization period (25 years vs 30 years) the more interest you will pay.
• Therefore, a shorter amortization period will lower your overall cost of borrowing BUT you must be able to afford the higher payments.
Once you’ve decided on your amortization, you will need to decide how frequently you would like to make your mortgage payments. Every mortgage payment (consisting of both interest and principal) will help reduce your principal (the amount of money you borrowed) and eventually reduces the overall interest you pay on this loan.
• Monthly, bi-monthly, accelerated bi-weekly or weekly mortgage payments.

Term

In the 1980’s mortgage interest rates were as high as 22%. Interest rates can change over time therefore, lenders don’t want to negotiate a 25-year loan at 4% interest if the interest rates go up to 10% in 5 years. To avoid the risk, lenders break your mortgage amortization into smaller terms.

• The term is shorter than the amortization period and locks you into your pre-negotiated rates during that time.
• The length of term you choose (most Canadians choose 5 years) will depend partly on if you think interest rates will rise or fall. Typical terms are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 & 10.

About 3-6 months before your current term matures, your current lender usually sends you a renewal notice with options on rates for the various terms they offer (typically 1 to 10 years).
Once you get your renewal notice, you need to contact your mortgage broker to ensure you’re choosing the best option for your situation.

Closed Mortgage

A closed mortgage usually offers the lowest interest rates available.
Closed mortgages cannot be paid off before the end of its term without triggering a penalty. Some lenders allow for a partial prepayment of a closed mortgage by increasing the mortgage payment or a lump sum prepayment.

• If you try and “break your mortgage” or if any prepayments are made above the stipulated allowance the lender allows, a penalty will be charged.

Open Mortgage
An open mortgage is a more flexible mortgage that allows you to pay off your mortgage in part or in full before the end of its term without penalty, because of the flexibility the interest rates are higher.

• The interest rates for an open mortgage are typically 3-4% higher than a closed rate mortgage.
• i.e. a home buyer could pay 6.99% for a 5-year open mortgage vs. 3.99% for a five-year closed mortgage.
If you plan to sell your home soon or expect a large sum of money, an open mortgage can be a great option. Most lenders will allow you to convert from an open to a closed mortgage at any time (and switch you to lower rates).
Fixed mortgage – you have the same payment for the term of the mortgage

Variable mortgage – the mortgage rate and your monthly payments will vary depending on the Bank of Canada rate (Prime)

Fixed rate:
• Pro – you would have the same mortgage payment for the entire term of the mortgage
• Your mortgage payments are not affected by Bank of Canada Rate or Canadian Bond Yield
• Think of fixed rate as an insurance policy – you pay a premium to guarantee “fixed” rates for the balance of the term

• Pro – can port a fixed mortgage
• Con – higher interest rates
• Con – MUCH higher penalties if you need to break your mortgage (can be 4-5% of outstanding balance with Banks/Credit Unions)
• 60% of home owners, break their mortgage before it matures!
• Conclusions: How much does it cost to break a mortgage?

Variable rate:
• Pro – lower rates than the Fixed Rate – you would pay less now that you would for a Fixed Rate mortgage
• Pro – Penalty for breaking is 3 months interest (about 0.5-1% of outstanding balance).
• Pro – you can lock into a fixed rate mortgage (assuming your mortgage is in good standing) at any time, based on the amount of time remaining on your mortgage and the current posted rates.
• i.e. If you have a 5-year variable mortgage and you want to move to Fixed after 2 years, you would lock into the lenders current 3 year fixed posted rate
• Con – Cannot port a variable mortgage
• Con – Mortgage payments will increase/decrease based on the Bank of Canada rate – currently 1.75% and the lenders prime rate = Prime is currently 3.95%
• Bank of Canada meets 8 times a year
• Every 0.25% increase with the lender Prime rate will cost you an extra $13/$100,000 borrowed. i.e. $300K mortgage = will be about $39/month more/less

The best way to decide on the best mortgage is to contact your friendly neighbourhood Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker. Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… Engage an expert!