Advice to tips and advice to improve your finances and long term goals


The new mortgage rules in Canada - What you need to know

 Monday, May 14, 2018     unknown     Financial Health Real Estate Market Buying and Selling

At the beginning of this year, new tighter mortgage rules were put out by The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). This has made it more difficult for some homebuyers to get mortgages this year. 

The new rules have stricter qualifying criteria as the requirement for a mortgage stress test is now extended to all homebuyers. Even borrowers with a down payment of twenty per cent or more now face a stress test, as has been the case since January 2017 for applicants with smaller down payments who require mortgage insurance. This is aimed at limiting the amount of debt that Canadians and financial institutions take on.

So what is the stress test? It means that financial institutions would use either the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the customer's mortgage interest rate plus 2 per cent - whichever is higher. This is to ensure that borrowers’ housing expenses compared to their income remain below a certain threshold even if rates rise. Financial institutions look at the size of the loan compared to the price of the house as well as credit scores.

For some first-time homebuyers these stricter mortgage lending rules mean you might need to rent for longer before you can buy a home. Or you might need to consider getting a co-signer to qualify under these stricter rules. This may cause others to have to settle for a less expensive home than they would have qualified for in the past, and some people may choose to wait and save up for a larger down payment.

Are you a first-time homebuyer? Get in touch to discuss how I can help you on your journey to home ownership! Call me at (905)330-5201 or by email at mariongoard@kw.com


Getting pre-approved is more important than ever

 Monday, November 20, 2017     unknown     Financial Health Real Estate Market Buying and Selling

PreApproval

With interest rates on the rise and many housing policy changes over the past year, it's more important than ever for first-time home buyers to have their mortgage pre-approval in hand when beginning the search for a new home.

There are a few reasons why getting pre-approved is so important as you begin the journey towards home ownership. For one, it takes the guesswork out of house hunting! There's no sense in viewing and falling in love with a home you can't afford. You can streamline the process and keep only true contenders in the running when you are aware how much you can afford to spend on your new home. Another reason to get pre-approved is that it shows that you're a serious buyer. Both real estate sales persons and sellers will recognize that you have done your homework and are truly ready to buy. In fact, having a pre-approval in hand may give you negotiating power over another buyer who has not been pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will also help things move along quicker and smoother during a negotiation. It will allow you to act fast when placing an offer on a home. By getting pre-approved you have started the application process for the mortgage. They will provide you with a pre-approval letter, though it is important to remember that this is not a guarantee of financing. Most realtors will still recommend that you include a condition on financing in any offers you submit.

What is a mortgage commitment letter? A little more in-depth than a mortgage pre-approval, a mortgage loan commitment letter means that a full mortgage application was taken, the loan has passed through underwriting and the borrower was approved. A commitment letter is a document that lets everyone in the real estate transaction (real estate sales persons, sellers, etc.) know that the lender is prepared to take on a loan that will cover the cost of a home.

The simple step of getting pre-approved will make your home buying experience run smoother.


Is condo living right for you?

 Monday, September 25, 2017     unknown     Financial Health House and Home

CondoLivingBuyers have plenty of choice when it comes to choosing the type of home they will buy. You can purchase new from a builder, or shop around for a resale townhouse, single family home or condominium.

The latter is an excellent option for first-time buyers, young professionals and retirees or those looking to downsize. That's not to say that all condos are affordable. A spacious unit in a well-appointed building can easily boast a price tag well into the millions with monthly maintenance fees approaching $1,000 per month.

Whatever your price range, there are a few things to consider and research before settling on a condo purchase.

The first factor to consider is those condominium fees. Possibly one of the great mysteries of homeownership, these fees can turn an outright purchase into what seems like a rental, with monthly payments to factor into your budget for as long as you live at that address. If you have never paid condo fees before and the concept has you running scared, take a few minutes here to understand what they are and what they cover:

• The cost of keeping common spaces (elevators, indoor and outdoor gardens, lobbies and hallways, etc.) clean and in good working order.

• The upkeep of amenities such as fitness rooms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, theatre rooms, spas and party rooms.

• Snow removal, roof repair and insurance.

You'll also want to think about the building's amenities. Before you move into a condo, decide whether its in-house bells and whistles are perks you'll use often enough to warrant the fees you'll be paying for them each month.

A final consideration is the condo corporation's status certificate. A status certificate is a prospective condo owner's first look into the financial health of their potential investment. This comprehensive report gives all the details on the current fees that owners' pay, any large fee increases that may be on the horizon and any liens or arrears owed by particular owners. Financial statements are also a part of the status certificate and will show the trends in expenditures and receipts of the past, and provide comparisons of a corporation's actual and expected costs. To get your hands on a condominium's status certificate, you must submit a written request to the condo board's management company, plus a $100 fee. They have 10 days, as required by law, to provide the certificate.


Save money AND pay down your mortgage faster

 Monday, July 17, 2017     unknown     Financial Health House and Home Real Estate Market

MortgageEven homeowners who do all their homework before buying are occasionally surprised by how quickly the many expenses of home ownership add up each and every month. But rest assured; if you stick to your budget and make a few sacrifices here and there, it is possible to save money and maybe even pay off your mortgage a few years early!

Mortgages are compounded with hundreds of payments to slowly reduce both your principle loan as well as interest charges, so you can expect interest-heavy payments for the first five to seven years as your bank makes lending you all that money worth their while. But there are ways to pay down your mortgage faster and save money in the long run!

Bi-weekly is best - Opting for an accelerated biweekly payment schedule will not only allow you to make 26 payments a year, it will also reduce both your interest rates and principle amount faster. Lenders may charge you an additional fee, but this is money well spent.

Round it up – Did you know that a hypothetical increased payment of $1,000 instead of $830 could save up to $48,000 over the course of the mortgage? That's nearly eight years of payments! Ask your lender if this is an option for you.

Make a lump payment – If you get an annual bonus or consistently receive a substantial income tax return, consider using the windfall as a lump payment at the time of your mortgage renewal or sooner if your lender allows it.

When it comes to saving money, it's common to have difficulty during your first few years of homeownership as you adjust to the added expenses. But it can be done. Here are a few simple ideas to help you cut back:

  • Online grocery shopping. How many times do you walk into a grocery store with nine or ten items on your list and leave with a cart full? Instead, do your shopping online and simply drive to the store to pick up your order – no more impulse buying! Check your local retailers to see if the service is offered.
  • Make your own lunch and coffee every day.
  • Use public transportation if available
  • Install a programmable thermostat to save on energy bills

What do you know about renting to own?

 Monday, May 8, 2017     unknown     Financial Health House and Home Buying and Selling

Rent to Own

Renting to own, also known as a lease option, is another choice in today's real estate market. Traditionally, if you were looking to purchase a home, you would save 20 percent of a home's cost for a down payment and get a mortgage up front from a financial institution.

That option may be challenging if you have a bruised credit history, or you don't have an adequate down payment, if you are new immigrants with little or no credit history or are self-employed.

Renting to own means you can save for a down payment while actually living in the house you want to buy. Usually, a portion of the monthly rent is set aside toward the down payment and there is often a significant deposit as well. At the end of two to four years, the down payment is collected and the renters apply for a mortgage.

Although it sounds like a win-win, there are pitfalls to watch for. Your monthly rental costs, due to the down payment portion, will usually be substantially higher than a regular rental. If you're a renter in this kind of arrangement and you must break the agreement, you risk losing your deposit and the monthly savings in order to walk away. That could mean the loss of tens of thousands of dollars. If you still don't qualify for a mortgage at the end of the rental period, you may have to walk away from the home and from your money too. If you're late on a monthly payment, you could be evicted, forfeiting your cash.

As with any contract that involves large amounts of money, make sure you obtain legal counsel before you sign on the dotted line. Make sure your investment is protected and that there is a clause for breaking the rental agreement that won't break you!