29 Jul

4 WEIRD THINGS LENDERS ASK FOR

General

Posted by: Alan J. Nicholas

A number of times I have had people who wonder why they need to provide so much documentation when it comes to arranging a mortgage. Besides an employment letter, you are usually asked to provide a pay stub and your most recent Notice of Assessment (NOA) to prove income. “Why do they need all 3, doesn’t the employment letter satisfy this condition?” I am often asked. No, is the short answer.

A pay stub shows your current income and shows how much you have made year to date. This will also show overtime or any special allowances you receive such as a northern living allowance. This confirms or sometimes does not agree with your employment letter. The employment letter shows what you are going to make this year and your NOA shows what you made in the past. It also shows that you do not owe taxes to the government. This is important to lenders because they don’t want the government to put a lien on your property ahead of their mortgage claim on title.

Your realtor will provide an offer to purchase and sale agreement, so why do they ask for a MLS listing sheet? While the purchase agreement shows the financial agreement and what is included with the house, the MLS describes the size of the house and lot as well as the amount paid for municipal taxes and the size of each room. This allows the lender to establish whether you have a fair market price for your new home.

Finally, a lender will ask for a 90-day bank statement to show your down payment money. The reason they ask for this is due to Canadian money laundering laws which need to show the source for all funds and that you have been saving the funds over the past 3 months. If you get an inheritance, you will need to show documentation that this is the source of your sudden wealth.
Be sure to contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before making an offer on a home. He/She can tell you exactly what documents you will need in advance and make the home buying process go much easier.

By David Cooke

23 Jul

FORECLOSURE, BANKRUPTCY, CONSUMER PROPOSAL & CREDIT COUNSELING

General

Posted by: Alan J. Nicholas

The Canadian Bankers Association’s latest report on mortgage delinquency shows that Saskatchewan has the highest per capita of all the provinces. The national average shows that .24% of home owners are having difficulty paying their mortgage. Saskatchewan is more than triple that at .80% with next in line Atlantic Canada at .51% and then Alberta at .46%. At first glance these numbers seem relatively small until you note the fine print that “delinquency” in this report only represents those homeowners that are more than 3 months behind.

I thought that I would take the time to go over the mortgage ramifications of foreclosure, bankruptcy, consumer proposal and credit counseling.

Foreclosure
This is when the mortgage has gone unpaid to the point that the bank is forced to take back the security for the mortgage which is the home. First of all, the bank doesn’t want to have to do this. Non-payment of the mortgage for an extended period of time forces their hand. The foreclosure process is different in every province. Saskatchewan has the most difficult foreclosure process for the bank and gives the homeowner many chances to catch up and stop it. This process can take months to work through for the bank to take possession of the home to be able to sell it to recover their losses. The long-term effect on a client that goes through foreclosure is permanent. A record of the foreclosure is placed on each clients’ credit report. Unlike a bankruptcy or consumer proposal that are eventually removed, the foreclosure stays on their credit report for life. What that will mean is that when they want to eventually purchase a home again, they will more than likely require at least 20% down payment.

Bankruptcy & Consumer Proposal
Both bankruptcy and consumer proposal are administered through a licensed insolvency trustee. Typically, every creditor that you have debt with will participate in the process. This includes student loans and arrears with Canada Revenue Agency.
If you have gone through either of these insolvency actions, the mortgage industry sees them as them as the same thing. What is most important after either of those is to get back up on the credit horse and walk before you run. Canadians that swear off debt of any kind after insolvency are better known as lifelong renters. Never having a credit card or loan again is certainly fine until you apply for a mortgage to buy a home. Banks and mortgage lenders want to see that you can walk with small amounts of credit before running with hundreds of thousands in a mortgage. Once discharged from either a bankruptcy or consumer proposal obtaining a credit card should be your very first step. The next thing to do is advise both Canadian credit reporting agencies that you were discharged. You may be required to send documents related to the insolvency. It is a good idea to keep all your paper work from this process in a safe place for at least 10 years.

Credit Counseling
Credit counselling could be a viable option for those that are keeping up with their debt payments but need help in making a household budget to get out of debt faster. For those that have fallen behind on their debts and 1 or more have gone into collection status, credit counselling may not be the answer. There are 2 distinct differences between working with a credit counselor and a licensed insolvency trustee.
1. Student loans and debts to Canada Revenue Agency cannot be addressed within credit counseling.
2. If the credit counseling requires debt negotiations and/or payment arrangements, some of your creditors may decline to participate. This leaves debts outside of the credit counseling arrangement that you must address on your own. It’s a little like having 2 flat tires on your car and only 1 spare. The spare may work well to fix one flat but your car still isn’t roadworthy.

By Kevin Carlson

22 Jul

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN A HOME PURCHASE AGREEMENT

General

Posted by: Alan J. Nicholas

While a home purchase agreement may seem simple and straight forward, there are many differences that you can encounter that can be a big surprise to first-time homebuyers. While you expect the date of possession and the full purchase price to be outlined in the agreement, there are items that you may not be aware should be included.

New builds vs existing homes

If you are buying a newly constructed home, there are quite a few differences between what you get in an existing home.
Legal fees – often home builders will include the legal fees in the purchase price. You should be aware that the law firm that will provide the service is the builder’s lawyer. Should a legal dispute develop, they will take the side of the builder and you will have to find your own independent legal counsel. In fact, if you can afford it, you should consider getting your own lawyer. The $1,200 savings could end up costing you more in the long run.
You should be aware that the show home that you have visited usually has numerous upgrades. I know that when I purchased my first new home I assumed that the bathroom rough-ins in the basement were standard, only to find out later that this was an upgrade. Retro fitting plumbing pipes is a costly venture.
You should also be aware that landscaping, fences and window coverings are not usually not included in the purchase price. Double check to see if the triple-pane windows on the show home are standard or an upgrade. Hardwood floors and basement development are usually an upgrade as well.

Existing homes

When you are buying an existing home, you will find that the window coverings, fences and landscaping are included in most cases. The window coverings should be included in the offer to purchase contract.
Something that may look like it’s supposed to be there but the seller may want to take with them is the hot tub and storage shed. Don’t assume that these items are included. The legal fees are never covered in an existing home sale.

Finally, from a mortgage standpoint, you should be aware that if you are purchasing an acreage or a large property with several outbuildings, your mortgage lender will cover the cost of the home plus one out building and up to three acres of land. If there’s a garage , barn and workshop usually the garage will be included in what the mortgage company will cover but not the smaller out buildings. Check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before you make an offer on a property like this.

By David Cooke

16 Jul

SHOULD YOU PAY DOWN YOUR MORTGAGE ASAP?

General

Posted by: Alan J. Nicholas

One of the top questions we get asked: Should I pay down my mortgage as fast as possible? In theory, this makes sense. The faster you pay it down, the faster you get out of debt, right? For many people that is the case and it does make sense often times to take this route. After all—your home is truly an asset and can be used as an investment piece itself!

However, in certain situations, there are some cases where paying off your mortgage right away doesn’t make sense. Every person’s circumstances are different, and, in many cases, it DOES make sense to pay down your mortgage when you have funds available.

We cannot emphasize enough that there are numerous factors to consider before paying down any sizable debt (your mortgage included). Each person must make the choice that is right for them and consult with professionals who can help them make the right choice based on their current circumstances. With that in mind, today, we are going to highlight some considerations as to why you may consider not paying down mortgage:

You have a super low mortgage Rate
If you locked in at a great rate and have low interest on your mortgage, take advantage of it! Pay it back as you can but do not feel pressure to go above and beyond your monthly mortgage payment if it is not an option for you. We would advise in this instance, to speak with your financial planner or accountant to find out what your strategy is for debt repayment.

Having a solid plan can help set you up for future success and help you focus on paying down debts that have the highest interest amount first, thereby lowering the overall debt load you are carrying and paying out each month. We can definitely recommend some fantastic accountants and financial planners if you are on the lookout for one!

The Property is a rental or investment property or houses a home-based business
This may be a consideration for some people as a portion of the interest (on rental properties and homes with home offices) are tax deductibles. In these cases, aggressive payback could have a downside in relation to your tax right offs.

Again, this is an instance where an accountant’s guidance can direct you towards the best option. For some, the tax break is significant and for the circumstances, it makes sense to keep the payments as they are. For others, it would make more sense to increase the payment as the interest is minimal Talk to a professional to get the best advice on this particular area and consider all your options.

You have a better investment opportunity
If you have an opportunity that will give you a higher return on your investment, consider taking that avenue vs. paying down your mortgage. For example, if you put $100,000 into your 3.00% mortgage, you save $3,000 next year but if you made a 5% return on that $100,000 instead, you could put that $3,000 towards your mortgage next year and still have $2,000 left over.

With that said, there are many instances when an investment may seem excellent on paper, but in reality, is not ideal. Always seek advice from a professional first before making a financial decision.

These are just 3 examples of times it doesn’t make sense to pay down your mortgage right away. Ultimately though, you should consider what choice will be the right one for you. There are many instances where paying down your mortgage does make sense. As a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker, we are here to inform you of every option available to you and advise you on what we feel is the best course of action. We can work with you and your financial advisors/accountants to determine when and if paying down your mortgage is a good option for you—but at the end of the day, the decision is yours!

11 Jul

5 mortgage tips to help you afford a home

General

Posted by: Alan J. Nicholas

Buying a home is more difficult now than ever—and this is not news to anyone! No matter where you live, the recent stress testing measures, increase in housing prices in major cities, and continued increase of the cost of living all combine to make home ownership a daunting task. But we do want to offer some help and solutions for young families looking to get into the market as we truly to believe it’s not impossible and have helped many families do just that!

– Take a step outside of the downtown core. Typically, property right in the heart of the city r is more expensive due to the location and the continued demand. Stepping out to one of the outlying suburban areas can offer more affordable options and can also lend you with an increased inventory of properties within your price point.

– Consider finding a rent to own property. A Rent to Own (RTO) property can allow you to rent a property while subsequently saving up for a down payment.

– Talk to a mortgage broker. Speaking with a broker and going through a pre-qualification process can help you by allowing you to see the areas in which you will need to improve to help make you more attractive to lenders. This can include things such as:
Increasing your credit score.
Decreasing your overall debt or consolidating your current debt.
Looking at increasing your overall income options and the ways in which you can do that.

– Consider using a co-signor(s) for your mortgage to start with. One solution we have found that works well for certain clients is having a co-signor(s) on the mortgage with a planned exit strategy to remove them once the client’s personal income increases or they are able to qualify for the mortgage on your own (ex. By paying down debts and/or improving their credit score). This solution is situation specific, so speak to your broker for more details.

– Save, Save, and Save some more. We know this is common sense but speaking with a financial advisor can help show you ways in which you can save and make your money work for you. We can happily recommend a few as can your mortgage broker.

We know that the state of real estate can seem overwhelming and depressing at times. Keep in mind though that not all hope is lost, and you do have options available to you! Remember the “dream” of the white picket fence detached home is not for everyone…now more than ever mutli-family properties such as townhouses and condos are offering more and more amenities and beautiful properties for less. The bottom line is considering all your options and work with a dedicated broker who can help you reach your goals—whatever they might be!

10 Jul

INCOME QUALIFIED

General

Posted by: Alan J. Nicholas

There are several different ways a borrower can qualify for a mortgage when it comes to their income. One of the most common ways is known as income qualified. All of the following methods of employment income are under the income qualified umbrella:

– Annual salary income employees
– Full time employees working guaranteed weekly hours
– Part time employees working guaranteed weekly hours
– Auxiliary/On-call employees with 2-yr history at same employer
– Commission Sales who have 2-yr history in same job/industry
– Employees earning gratuities who have claimed over 2-yr history
– Contract employees with 2-yr history at job/industry

There are a couple more types of employment that may fall into this category, but for the most part, these are the types of borrowers whose mortgage application is going to be done using income qualifying.

When it comes to the first 3, a borrower’s income is paid by a business in which they generally do not have any interest/ownership in. This means, an human resources representative or a supervisor can write a letter of employment stating the weekly guaranteed hours, the guaranteed hourly pay rate, the start date, and the employee’s position. The lender will then use this letter, a most recent pay stub, as well as verbally confirm the letter with the employer to verify a borrower’s income. This is how a borrower who works guaranteed hours or salary has their income verified and qualified on a mortgage application.

For numbers 4 to 7, lenders and mortgage brokers will verify and qualify a borrowers income a little differently. Because an employer does not guarantee hours or income, we need to see that there has been at least a 2-year history making the same amount. This 2-year history will usually need to be with the same employer and will need to be documented on your personal income tax returns to the Canadian Revenue Agency. The income amount on your line 150 of your T1 General Tax Returns for the past 2 years are added together and then divided by 2. The amount you get is the income you are allowed to use on your mortgage application and this is then verified by a letter of employment stating you have in fact been an employee there for more than 2 years, your are currently working there, your position, as well as a pay stub showing year-to-date income that is comparable to your 2-year average given the month you are in.

The same process would be used for those who earn over time or bonuses, claim tips, or work part time with two jobs. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

By Ryan Oake

5 Jul

TECHNOLOGY IN MORTGAGES AND REAL ESTATE

General

Posted by: Alan J. Nicholas

Technology is already playing a huge role in the mortgage industry. In the past, mortgage applications had to be physically taken by hand and faxed in (what’s fax anyways?!)… It may soon by possible, with technology’s help, for borrowers to be able to fill out their own application and send it, along with all supporting documentation, straight to lenders without a mortgage professional’s help – kind of scary.

On the Realtor side, there is DocuSign, Realtor.ca, Zillow, and a host of other technology driven solutions that help Realtors be more efficient in their business. However, just like in mortgages, it’s coming to a point where buyers and sellers may see value in going to discount brokerages such as Redfin.

Let’s first look at the mortgage side.

Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage in the States started out as an online-only mortgage application tool. The promise is faster service, with little headache, and everything done “from the comfort of your own home.”

In Canada, Scotiabank just rolled out their eHOME Mortgage application. RBC has had a Pre-Qualification Application for a year and TD rolled out their Digital Mortgage Application in early 2019.

Our own parent mortgage company, Dominion Lending Centres, brought out their “My Mortgage Toolbox” application for Mortgage Brokers to use, and other Broker houses are fast on the trail. All lenders are trying to capitalize on a Millennial’s and Generation Z’s comfort level with providing their personal information to a computer system.

The promise with all of these digital tools is to make a borrower’s mortgage journey easier, and with how technology is progressing, this digital experience is going to keep getting better and better.

Unfortunately, as with any process change, problems arise…

The first and most glaring issue with the digital mortgage experience is that because mortgages are complex, with timelines to follow and anxiety to manage, borrowers are continually requesting human interaction to answer their questions. Rocket Mortgage’s own website now advertises being able to chat online with a specialist right up front.

Secondly, although digital applications promise speed and ease of use, all mortgage files still have to have “eyes” on an application. We’re not there yet (nor will we be for the foreseeable future) where humans do not have to touch mortgage applications for final approval. This human requirement means that a mortgage file must wait in queue to be approved.

Lastly, if any file has the slightest hiccough and doesn’t conform to exactly what the computer systems need to see, an expert will have to be called in during the process to troubleshoot. As an aside, the “experts” who look at these files are salaried individuals; more on that later.

All-in-all, technology alone is not changing the mortgage market.

On the Realtor side, the biggest issue with using Redfin, or relying too much on technology driven companies, is that the Realtors who work there are most likely going to be sub-par… Yeah, I said it… Just like 1% and 2% Realty, if someone is working for half the commission, they are, by nature, not going to be as good or competent as someone who prides themselves on working for their due.

Additionally, I firmly believe that in life, we get what we pay for. The best advisers and salespeople will gravitate to where they are better compensated. Salaried individuals and discount mortgage and real estate professionals will invariably move to become independent if they are any good. If they are just so-so, bad at their jobs, or are just happy to provide the bare minimum in service, they stay and let someone else hunt for business – see the “more sinister” reason for technology and apps below.

Technology as a Benefit:
There are ways that technology is being used for the benefit of borrowers.

The first is that in our hyper connected world, a borrower’s credit, income, and down payment can all be verified at the touch of a button. Mortgage Brokers can already pull someone’s credit bureau in seconds, and there are also services to allow us to get 3-months of bank statements for down payment verification with a client’s permission. The last step is to have our systems validate income by way of a national employer registry or by other means. In the States, this is done through their IRS and the credit bureau companies and it will come to Canada in the future. All of this means that a borrower can get firm approvals more efficiently (not having to download bank statements, get employment letters, etc.) and it will allow the professionals more time to provide advice and cater to the client’s needs.

The second benefit to borrowers is that the new applications are now able to receive documentation, communicate on application status in real time, and much more, all in one easy-to-use platform. It’s incumbent on the professional to make sure that their technologies and systems are properly integrated to provide a seamless, but better, mortgage experience for their clients.

To recap, technology will be playing a larger and larger role in how mortgages are obtained in the years to come, and in order to thrive in the 2020s, Mortgage Brokers and Realtors are going to have to use technology to the best of their abilities. The marriage between human interaction (building rapport) and providing a seamless experience through leveraging technology should dominate our thinking!

By Eitan Pinsky