Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

A huge thank you to all of my clients and referral sources for making 2015 my best year yet! It has been a pleasure getting to know you while helping you achieve your goals!

Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2016! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Five Reasons to use a Mortgage Broker

A while ago I started posting on 5 great reasons to use a broker and then I got busy and forgot all about it! Here is the list in its entirety, in case you needed yet another reason to choose working with a Mortgage Broker on your next renewal, refinance, or property purchase.


Friday, December 11, 2015

CHANGES TO THE MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT COMING...

As you have likely already heard on the news, earlier this morning the Finance Minister announced changes to the minimum down payment on houses valued over $500,000. Effective February 15th 2016, the minimum down payment for new insured mortgages will increase from 5 per cent to 10 per cent for the portion of the house price above $500,000 (NOT THE FULL PURCHASE PRICE). The move is an effort to curb the rising real estate prices in Toronto and Vancouver.  

For example, under the new rules, a buyer looking to purchase a home priced at $750,000 would need to have a minimum down payment of $50,000 which is calculated as follows: $25,000 (5% of $500,000) plus $25,000 (10% of $250,000). Prior to the rule change, the borrower could have purchased the same home with a total down payment of $37,500 (5% of $750,000). The new rule changes result in the purchaser having to put an additional $12,500 down on the property.

The change will NOT affect borrowers who have already entered into an agreement to purchase or build a home, or borrowers who enter an agreement before the February 15th 2016 deadline.


With any change, there is often a lot of misinformation that is spread. So, please share this important news with your friends, family and colleagues! If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your particular situation with me, please get in touch anytime! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why Mortgage Brokers are invaluable: Reason # 3 Personalized service

Your broker will work with you through every step of the purchase or refinance process. They’ll walk you through the application, help you to understand your options and answer your questions.

After all, your broker represents you and their success is dependent on your satisfaction.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why Mortgage Brokers are invaluable: Reason # 4


#4Your broker finds solutions that fit your needs
Your broker will help you navigate the confusing road map of rate types, mortgage options and terms to decide which solution is best for your circumstances and long- term plan.

Your broker takes the time to understand your financial needs and situation and avoid unnecessary risk.

And that can save you money.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Why Mortgage Brokers are invaluable: Reason # 5

From one of my lending partners, B2B Bank: "While we know your expertise and guidance can be invaluable, there are still a lot of home buyers and homeowners out there who may not understand what a mortgage broker can do to help them. And many don’t even know such a specialist exists! We’ve come up with five reasons (among many more!) to use a mortgage broker, that you can pass on to your clients looking to purchase or refinance a home. "

Reason # 5: Your Broker is your champion: Your broker negotiates with the lender on your behalf, manages obstacles, processes paperwork and hammers out the details. They’ll help simplify what can be an overwhelming experience and take your long-term plan into consideration.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Scotiabank wants to take you to the movies!



My lending partner, Scotiabank is offering 24 movie passes, or 24,000 SCENE points to borrowers that switch their existing mortgage from another financial institution to Scotiabank. New term must be 3 years or longer. Effective October 28, 2015 to February 29, 2016. Please contact me for more details!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Millennials: why you need a credit card



The only way to build credit is to use credit wisely. I sometimes come across younger adults who want to purchase a home but don't have a credit score because they have decided that it's best not to have any credit cards or loans. They were under the impression that they were doing themselves a favour by not getting into debt. The truth is, you need a credit score to do a lot of things today like rent an apartment, or get a cell phone. Eventually you may want to purchase a house and it's very hard for a lender to assess your credit worthiness if you have no proven history of managing credit. 
 
My best advice is to get a credit card and use it wisely. Pay it off, in full, every month. This way you are building credit but not paying outrageous interest charges. It's best to try to obtain a credit card as soon as you turn 18. This way you will have a strong credit profile by the time you want to purchase a home, and get approved for a mortgage. You are not doing yourself any favours by avoiding the use of credit altogether!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What happens to the house when you break up?

I don't often come across articles discussing the pros and cons of purchasing property if you are an unmarried couple. What happens in the event of a relationship breakdown? How would the property asset be divided etc? Read on...

Monday, July 20, 2015

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR VARIABLE RATE CUT

While the big banks may not be passing down all of the Bank of Canada's recent interest rate cut, most seem to be willing to part with at least 15% of it. So when can you expect to see these savings?

Depending on your lender, your mortgage rate may have already changed-or it will occur on a pre-scheduled variable rate adjustment date (likely next month). Your mortgage document will indicate how rate cuts (and increases) are approached.

Hopefully, you're planning on keeping your mortgage payments the same-or bumping them up-to pay down some additional principle. If you are, you may want to check with your lender to see whether you have to call in to do this. Sometimes they will automatically lower your payment along with the rate change-causing you to miss out on paying off additional principle.

If you have any other questions regarding this interest rate cut-or about your variable rate mortgage in general-please don't hesitate to give me a call. I'd be happy to help!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A rate cut cuts both ways

Earlier this morning, the Bank of Canada announced that it is cutting its key interest rate by 0.25%. The jury is out whether the country's financial institutions will also follow suit (in January the Bank of Canada cut it's rate by 0.25% but the financial institutions only reduced their prime rate by 0.15%).
Any change to the prime lending rate affects borrowers with a variable rate mortgage or home equity line of credit (not fixed rate mortgages as those are priced off of the bond market). 
While the rate cut is great news for borrowers there are pros and cons that come along with an announcement to drop rates. It signals that the overall economy is weak and the government is attempting to stimulate spending and borrowing. It also often has a direct impact on the housing market. Read more here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The elephant in the room

I just got off the phone regarding a deal for someone who was in their mid twenties, with zero credit history. Never had a credit card or a loan of any kind. Her Mom phoned me because her daughter was having a hard time getting a mortgage approved at another lender. The Mom was trying to co-sign but had another child, whom she had co-signed a car loan for, whose vehicle was repossessed several years ago because her child stopped paying the loan. Because of the repossession, the mother was unable to co-sign the mortgage for her other child. This is not a completely unusual story. I hear variations of this often enough.

My advice to parents is to empower your children with enough knowledge and confidence so they can navigate the financial world on their own, without needing a co-signer for major purchases. If they start building credit with a secured credit card, right at the age of 18, and manage it responsibly, they shouldn't need you to put your credit history at risk by co-signing a loan with them. Capital One offers a great secured card which can be used to build, or re-build credit.

Here is an article that is a couple years old but provides specific, detailed and accurate information on credit! As in the example above, I often come across potential clients who are inquiring on how they can get a mortgage without having any credit history, having never had a credit card or loan of any kind. While there are some provisions for individuals such as these, in general terms mortgage lenders ideally would like to see that a borrower has some credit history. The industry norm is two years on the credit bureau with at least two accounts reporting (FYI-cell phone bills do report). The system works like this; no one really wants to lend you money if you can't show a basic history of managing credit wisely. Would you lend money to someone that had no history of repaying a loan on time, as agreed? I probably would not. In addition to not being deemed as "credit worthy" by potential lenders, if you don't have a credit card in today's world, you are going to have a hard time doing very basic things like booking a trip, renting a car or going to a concert, let alone trying to buy a property.  Cash is no longer king. Access to credit is.

Having good credit will open doors for you and allow you to access better rates and borrowing opportunities. It's no longer a good reason to say "I never needed a credit card so I just didn't get one" or "I just didn't understand the system". The onus is on you, and me, to educate ourselves.  It is so important to foster a great credit history and protect it. Having poor credit will make you an easy target for terribly high interest car loans and credit cards etc. While these companies have their place in society and do help people to re-build their credit history after a bankruptcy, or consumer proposal, they are certainly less than ideal forms of credit.

The article also touches on something that's rarely discussed openly, our overall financial illiteracy and our hesitancy to discuss it openly with friends and family. This is something I don't fully understand, but maybe it's because I work in the financial services industry and recognize how this kind of information can empower people to take control of their financial lives. I am also privy to what's really going on behind the scenes and I can tell you, a lot of folks have no idea how credit works. I am happy to spend time explaining the credit reporting system and discussing ways one can increase their credit score. We can all learn so much from each other so why are we so hesitant to discuss something most people literally know nothing about? Maybe it's fear of embarrassment, or admitting we don't understand something that affects our lives so greatly, or the ego wanting not to feel shame at having made a few bad choices. There is no shame in asking questions and working on improving one's situation. No shame at all! I truly believe that if we all dropped the pretenses of being "perfect" and started discussing our financial lives more openly within our network of friends and family, we would be better off, and more knowledgeable, in the end. Companies that make money from our generally poor understanding of how the system works want us to stay financially illiterate because that's how they make money. That's the truth. Knowledge is power. Use your personal network to arm yourself!

This is such a detailed, in-depth article on credit; I hope it helps to empower you! If you have any questions at all about credit please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

50 Facts about Canada

How many of these did you already know? Wishing you, and your family, a fun-filled Canada Day!

Monday, June 8, 2015

DO YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND?

I heard something interesting the other day, that went along the lines of ‘if you’re financially well-off enough to save for an emergency fund, you likely don’t need an emergency fund’. I thought it was rather interesting, because—with all the things to save for today—emergencies tend to fall to the bottom of the list. This article in the Financial Post addresses this notion, asking ‘Why don’t Canadians have emergency funds anymore?’What do you think about emergency funds? Do you have one? Why/why not?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Breaking news: NDP cancels land title fee increases



I've had several deals in the last few weeks where the buyers were very concerned about avoiding the new fee increases to land transfers and mortgage registrations over at Alberta Land Titles. I just heard that the new NDP government is cancelling these fee increases. This is great news for anyone interested in purchasing a property in Alberta! Read more about it HERE.

*Correction: the statement was released by the NDP party on April 20th 2015 so my assumption is that this was a campaign promise and has not actually been put through yet. I will stay on top of this and keep you posted! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mortgage Tip of the Week...



As of April 1st, mortgages will be reported on credit reports. Previously they were not reported. This will be detrimental to anyone that has had any recent delinquencies on their mortgage as this information will now be readily available to new, potential mortgage lenders.
There are other changes coming to the credit bureau as well. Along with existing beacon scores (credit score), the credit report will also show the following items:
-BNI (Bankruptcy Navigator Index) which predicts the likelihood of the consumer filing a bankruptcy within the next 24 months
-CRP(Consumer Risk Predictor) which predicts the likelihood of a serious delinquency in the next 24 months
-ERS (Equifax Risk Score) which predicts the likelihood of a serious delinquency in the next 12 months
It's always a good idea to check your credit report annually to ensure accuracy. You can pull your own credit report at www.equifax.ca

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dramatic fee increases to real estate transactions coming soon...

The budget announcement last week was not kind to those looking to purchase a home. In its latest budget, the Government has significantly increased land title and mortgage registration fees. The good news is that the costs of purchasing a home are still extremely low when compared to other provinces as Alberta does not have a land transfer tax, which leaves home buyers on the hook for thousands of dollars in taxes. The bad news is that that some costs will rise to six times their current price. Prices rise on July 1st so, if you are thinking of purchasing a home, you may want to do it before the fees go up! Read more HERE.

Friday, February 6, 2015

MORE RATE CUTS IN OUR FUTURE?



It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago the question on everyone’s mind was “when is the Bank of Canada going to start hiking interest rates?” Now, the question is—when are they going to lower them again?

With the banks failing to pass on the complete 0.25% overnight rate cut to customers, many pundits—along with two of the big banks—are now predicting an additional rate cut from the Bank of Canada in March. To add to the excitement, if you’re into this sort of thing, bond yields continued their downward slide last week, causing many to predict a 2.5% five-year fixed rate in our future.

If you’re in the market for a new mortgage—or a renewal—please don’t be shy in reaching out to me. I’m keeping an eye on rates on a daily basis (along with the fine print), so I can point you towards the best mortgage products out there. When rates do drop, it’s important to apply for a rate hold as soon as possible—so you’ll be guaranteed a low rate (as well as a lower one, if they drop further) when you need it.