29 Jul

NEW RULE CHANGES FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED

First-Time Buyers

Posted by: Cody Rowe

As a self-employed person myself, I was happy to hear that CMHC is willing to make some changes that will make it easier for us to qualify for a mortgage.
In an announcement on July 19, 2018, Romy Bowers, CCO of CMHC made the following statement:

“Self-employed Canadians represent a significant part of the Canadian workforce. These policy changes respond to that reality by making it easier for self-employed borrowers to obtain CMHC mortgage loan insurance and benefit from competitive interest rates.” — Romy Bowers, Chief Commercial Officer, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

These policy changes are to take effect Oct. 1, 2018.

Traditionally self-employed borrowers will write as many expenses as they can to minimize the income tax they pay each year. While this is a good tax-saving technique it means that often a realistic annual income can not be established high enough to meet mortgage qualification guidelines.
Plain speak, we don’t look good on paper.

Normally CMHC wants to see two years established business history to be able to determine an average income. But the agency said it will now make allowances for people who acquire existing businesses, can demonstrate sufficient cash reserves, who will be expecting predictable earnings and have previous training and education.
Take for example a borrower that has been an interior designer with a firm for the past eight years and in the same industry for the past 30 years, but just struck out on his own last year. His main work contract is with the firm he used to work for, but now he has the ability to pick up additional contracts from the industry in which he has vast connections.
Where previously he would have had to entertain a mortgage with an interest rate at least 1% higher than the best on the market and have to pay a fee, now he would be able to meet insurance requirements and get preferred rates.

The other change that CMHC has made is to allow for more flexible documentation of income and the ability to look at Statements of Business Professional Activity from a sole-proprietor’s income tax submission to support Add Backs of certain write-offs to support a grossing-up of income. Basically, recognizing that many write-offs are simply for tax-saving purposes and are not a reduction of actual income. This could mean a significant increase in income and buying power.

It is refreshing after years of government claw-backs and conservative policy changes to finally see the swing back in the other direction. Self-employed Canadians have taken on the burden of an often fluctuating income and responsible income tax management all for the ability to work for themselves. These measures will help them with the reward of being able to own their own home as well.

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Written by:

KRISTIN WOOLARD
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
17 Jun

MAKING SMARTER DOWN PAYMENTS

First-Time Buyers

Posted by: Cody Rowe

Mortgage Insurance Premiums. Many people know what they are- an extra cost to you the borrower. But not many people realize how they are calculated. Understanding the premium charges and how they are calculated will help lead you to making smarter down payments.

5%- 9.99% down payment of a purchase price is a 4% premium
10%- 14.99% down payment of a purchase price is a 3.10% premium
15%- 19.99% down payment of a purchase price is a 2.8% premium
So, that means with a $300,000 purchase price and a $30,000 down payment (10%), you would have a 3.10% premium added to your mortgage, making your total mortgage amount $270,000 + $8,370 for $278,370 total. The $8,370 being 3.10% of your original $270,000 mortgage.

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Now let’s say you have a down payment potential of $60,000 and have the income to afford a $350,000 purchase price but you found one for $325,000. Using your entire $60,000 down payment (18.46%), your new mortgage amount would be $272,420, where $7,420 of it represents the mortgage insurance premium.

But what if you change that $60,000 (18.46% down payment) to say $48,750 and have a down payment of exactly 15%? Well, your premium is still the exact same as it would be with an 18.46% down payment because your premium is still 2.8% of the mortgage amount. That means you will now save $11,250 (difference in down payments), while only paying $7,735 in premiums (an increase of $315).

I don’t know about you, but if someone told me I could put $11,250 less down and it would only change my insurance premium by $315, I am holding onto that money. You now have more cash for unexpected expenses, moving allowance, furniture, anything you want. You can even apply it to your first pre-payment against your mortgage and pay the interest down while taking time off your loan. Obviously if cash is not an issue, putting the full $60,000 would be better seeing as you are borrowing less and paying less interest. However, if cash is tight, why not hold onto it and pay that difference over the course of 25 years?

Reach out to us when it comes to structuring your mortgage request with a bank. It is small little things like this that make all the difference.

Written by:

RYAN OAKE
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
3 Jun

4 SIGNS YOU’RE READY FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP

First-Time Buyers

Posted by: Cody Rowe

While most people know the main things they need to buy a home, such as stable employment and enough money for a down payment, there are a few other factors that may help you realize you’re ready, perhaps even earlier than you thought!

As a mortgage broker, it is my job to ensure that each one of my clients is getting the best service I can provide. Part of this means educating as much as possible when it comes to buying a home, which is why I’ve put together a list of 4 signs that may tell you that you are ready to become a homeowner.

You should have more funds available than the minimum of a down payment
This one may seem obvious, but it’s something that people may not realize until they actually think about it. It’s very difficult to afford a home if you only have enough money for a down payment and then find yourself scrambling for day-to-day living after that.

If you have enough money saved up (more than the minimum needed for a down payment), you may be ready to start house-hunting.

Your credit score is good
This might seem obvious at first glance, however, if you don’t have a good credit score, chances increase that you could be declined altogether or stuck with a higher interest rate and thus end up paying higher mortgage payments. If you have a less-than-optimal credit score, working with a mortgage professional can help you get on the right track in the shortest time possible. Sometimes a few subtle changes can bump a credit score from “meh” to “yahoo” in a few short months.

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Breaking the bank isn’t in your future plans
Do you plan on buying two new vehicles in the next two years? Are you thinking of starting a family? Are you considering going back to school?

Although you may think you can afford to purchase a home right now, it’s extremely important to think about one, two, and five years down the road. If you know that you aren’t planning on incurring big expenses that you need to factor into your budget anytime soon, then that’s something that may help you decide to buy a home.

You are disciplined
It’s easy to say, “it’s a home, I’m going to have it for a long time so I may as well go all-in!”. While that would be nice, that’s rarely the case!

You must have a limit that you’re willing to spend. Sitting down with a mortgage broker or real estate agent and analyzing your finances is crucial. It’s important that you know costs associated with buying a home and what the maximum amount is that you can afford without experiencing financial struggles. IMPORTANT: This is not the amount that you are told is your max!

This is the amount that you calculate as your max based on your current monthly budget and savings plan. It’s quite frequent where I have clients tell me that their max budget is, say, $1200 and then when I run the numbers they could actually be approved for much more. Low and behold suddenly these guys are looking at homes that are hundreds of dollars a month higher than their initial perceived budget. It is up to you (with my help or pleading, when necessary) to reel things back in and make sure that you aren’t getting into something that affects the long-term livelihood of a well thought out budget or savings plan.

Conclusion

These are just four signs that you may be ready to purchase a home. If you’re seriously considering buying or selling, talking with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker, such as myself, can help put you on the right path to a successful real estate transaction.

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Written by:

SHAUN SERAFINI
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Shaun is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Excellence based in Lethbridge, AB
16 Apr

How Emotional Homebuyers Can Lose Out On The Best Deals

First-Time Buyers

Posted by: Cody Rowe

 

Buying a home is a financial decision, but also an emotional experience.

Before we’ve explored every room, we often start imagining our new lives there. Where our furniture will go. The parties we’ll host in the open-concept living-dining space. The mornings we’ll spend at the breakfast bar overlooking the garden or skyline… When a home speaks to us emotionally, the fear of missing out on it can set in fast.

That’s especially true in a real estate market where multiple offers and bidding wars are common, where a financing condition can put you at a disadvantage, and where prices are at all-time highs.

According to the 2017 Genworth Canada Homeownership Study, 60% of first-time buyers were worried they might miss out on the “perfect” house. That can lead emotional homebuyers to act against their own best interests by, for example, forgoing important conditions, or paying more than they had budgeted.

There’s no need to lose the dream — you will host those parties — but you’ve got to take emotion out of the deal, and these strategies will help.

Assemble your entire team before looking at any property.

That means: interview experienced real estate agents with expertise on your desired neighbourhoods; consult a financial advisor to help determine how homeownership fits into your other goals (a wedding, saving for a child’s education, retirement planning, etc.) and establish a budget including “what-if” scenarios, such as a layoff or maternity leave; connect with us to help you secure a pre-approval, explain your options, and answer your questions here. You may be able to achieve homeownership sooner than you think. Find out how

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Get the names of 3 home inspectors. Call and introduce yourself now.

Many emotional homebuyers forego the inspection process in an effort to make their bid more competitive. That’s a risk. With 3 recommended inspectors on speed dial, you should be able to get a qualified professional to visit a property the day you want to make an offer. Your real estate agent is one source of referrals, or check with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors.

Don’t visit properties outside your price range.

Best-case scenario, you’ll walk away deflated. Worst-case scenario? You’ll bid on something you can’t comfortably afford. Stick to your homeowner budget (likely to be higher than renting, since it includes property taxes/maintenance fees, utilities, etc.) and practice living on it for a few months before you decide to make a purchase.

Focus on the things you CAN’T see.

The efficiency of the heating and cooling systems, the age of the roof, the state of the electrical… these matter most when it comes to deciding if a home is a good financial deal. Hardwood floors, quartz counter tops, and stainless steel appliances can be seductive, but they shouldn’t be a priority.

Surprise repairs and upgrades to fundamentals — like a furnace on its last legs, plumbing that isn’t to code, or uninsurable knob-and-tube wiring — could sink your budget. And if problems have been covered up, you might just have to rip out those magazine-worthy finishes and details.

There is no disputing that buying a home is a massive financial decision as well as an emotional experience. But minimizing emotions throughout your homebuying experience is a heads-up move that will ultimately benefit you.

For more tips on what you should know before you purchase a home visit www.homeownership.ca

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Written by:

MARC SHENDALE
Genworth Canada – Vice President Business Development
6 Mar

How to Turn Your Tips Into Real Estate Gold

First-Time Buyers

Posted by: Cody Rowe

Times have changed in Canada.

Serving and bartending are now sought-after positions that can allow the right person to create a career in the restaurant industry with pay similar, if not better than bank advisors, bookkeepers or construction workers

There is one question a lot of servers and bartenders have on their minds….

Is it possible to turn your cash tips, into real estate gold?

This can be difficult for one reason…

Because your tips may fluctuate you are treated like you are self-employed.

Don’t fret though!

That’s why we created this list of “must-do’s” for servers, and bartenders to use when planning for that property purchase….

Tip #1 – Start Claiming Your Tips!

Let’s be honest here.

A LOT of you will not claim your tips as part of your income when tax season comes.

If you want to qualify to buy a home, you need to have PROVEN income to be approved for a mortgage.

The more you make on paper, the more you qualify for.

Now how do you remember what you made each month?

Here’s a simple strategy to stay organized….

  • Buy an agenda, a calendar or download a calendar app
  • Write down what you make in gratuities every shift along with your hours
  • Add up your total tips for each month and write the total at the bottom of each month

Tip #2 – Only Make 2 Deposits a Month

Do you make a lot of small deposits at your bank? Stop that!

Here’s why…

Lenders will confirm your income is by having looking at bank statements to confirm deposits of a steady paycheck.

If you have 10 – 20 deposits a month, this is a nightmare for banks to confirm and appears inconsistent in their eyes.

Here’s a good rule of thumb:

Deposit your tips ONLY when you deposit your paycheck.

Tip #3 – Find Out Your Average Net Gratuity Per Shift.

We want to make your income appear as consistent as possible.

We can do that by calculating your Average Net Gratuity Per Shift and explaining that in your Job Letter.

[Note: If you want to see what that looks like, feel free to download and use our FREE Job Letter for Servers & Bartenders]

 

Job Letter for Servers & Bartenders

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Speak to your General Manager, and request to have this included in your Job Letter.

Tip #4 – Talk with Your Mortgage Broker BEFORE You’re Ready to Buy

A strong relationship with your Dominion Lending Mortgage Advisor can be one of your most valuable partnerships in real estate.

Set up this relationship early in the process before you start house shopping so you can get started on things like…

  • Fixing blemishes on your credit bureau
  • Establishing better credit history and boosting your score
  • Finding out what you’re pre-approved for.
  • Grants and programs you may be eligible for.
  • Saving for a down payment.

We hope these tips have helped pave a road for you.

Know a server or bartender? They need to know this so make sure to tag them when you share this.

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1 Mar

TOP 5 THINGS MILLENNIALS SHOULD KNOW WHEN BUYING REAL ESTATE

First-Time Buyers

Posted by: Cody Rowe

 


 

There are 9 million Millennials in Canada, representing more than 25 percent of the population. Born between 1980 and 1999, the eldest are in the early stages of their careers, forming households and buying their first homes. Buying a home is a daunting process for anyone, but especially so for the first-time home buyer. This is the largest and most important financial decision you will ever make and it should be done with the appropriate investment in time and energy. Making the effort to be financially literate will save you thousands of dollars and assure you make the right decisions for your longer-term financial security.

1. Don’t rush into the housing market–do your homework: learn the basics of savings, credit and budgeting.

Lifelong savings is a crucial ingredient to financial prosperity. You must spend less than you earn, ideally saving at least 10 percent of your gross income. Put your savings on automatic pilot, having at least 10 percent of every paycheck automatically deducted. Money you don’t see you won’t spend. Contributing to an RRSP, at least enough to gain any matching funds your employer will provide, is essential. The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an ideal vehicle for saving for a down payment and now you can contribute as much as $10,000 a year.

You also need to establish a good credit record. Lenders want to see a record of your ability to pay your bills. As early as possible, get a credit card and put your name on cable, phone or other utility bills. Pay your bills and your rent in full and on time. Do not run up credit card lines of credit. The interest rates are exorbitant and the only one who benefits is your bank. Keep your credit card balances well below their credit limit.

Do a free credit check with Equifax every six months to learn your credit score and to see if there are any problems. Equifax tracks all of your credit history, which includes school loans, car loans, credit cards and computer loans.  Equifax grades you based on your responsible usage and payments.

Budgeting is also essential and it is easier than ever with online apps. You need to know how you spend your money to discover where there is waste and opportunity for savings. The CMHC Household Budget Calculator helps you take a realistic look at your current monthly expenses.

2. Make a realistic projectory of your future household income and lifestyle and understand its implications for choosing the right property for you.

Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

Millennials are likely relatively new to the working world. Lenders want to see stability in employment and you generally need to show at least two years of steady income before you can be considered for a mortgage.  This also applies if you have been working for a few years in one career and then decide to change careers to something completely different. Lenders want to see continuous employment in the same field. If you are self-employed, it is more challenging, and you need professional advice on taking the proper steps to qualify for a mortgage.

Assess the stability of your job and the likely trajectory of your income.

Millennials will not follow in the footsteps of their parents, working for one employer for forty years. In today’s world, no one has guaranteed job security. Take a realistic view of your future. Will your household income be rising? Will there be one income or two? Are there children in your future? Will you remain in the same city? The answers to these questions help to determine how much space you need, the appropriate type of residence, its location and the best mortgage for you.

Financial planning is key and it is dependent on your goals and expectations.

3. This is not a Do-It-Yourself project: build a team of trusted professionals to guide you along.

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You need expert advice. The first person you should talk to is an accredited mortgage professional. There is no out-of-pocket cost for their services. Indeed, they will save you money.

These people are trained financial planners and understand the ever-changing mortgage market. Take some time with them to understand the process before you jump in and find your head spinning with all the decisions you will ultimately have to make. They will give you a realistic idea of your borrowing potential. Before you fall in love with a house or condo, make sure you understand where you stand on the mortgage front. Mortgages are complex and one size does not fit all. You need an expert who will shop for the right mortgage for you. There are more than 200 mortgage lenders in Canada and they will compete for your business.

It is a very good idea to get a pre-approved mortgage amount before you start shopping. This is a more detailed process than just a rate hold (where a particular mortgage rate is guaranteed for a specified period of time). For a pre-approval, the lender will review all of your documentation except for the actual property.

There is far more to the correct mortgage decision than the interest rate you will pay. While getting the lowest rate is usually the first thing on every buyer’s mind, it shouldn’t be the most important. Six out of ten buyers break a five-year term mortgage by the third year, paying enormous penalties. These penalties vary between lenders. The fine print of your mortgage is key and that’s where an expert can save you money. How the penalty for breaking a mortgage is calculated is key and many monoline lenders have significantly more consumer-friendly calculations than the major banks.[2] A mortgage broker will help you find a mortgage with good prepayment privileges.

The next step is to engage a real estate agent. The seller pays the fee and a qualified realtor with good references will understand the housing market in your location. Make sure the property has lasting value. Once you find the right home, you will need a real estate lawyer, a home inspector, an insurance agent and possibly an appraiser. Make any offer contingent on a home inspection and remediation of significant deficiencies.

4. Down payments, closing costs, moving expenses and basic upgrades need to be understood to avoid nasty surprises.

Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

The size of your down payment is key and, obviously, the bigger the better. You need a minimum of 5 percent of the purchase price and anything less than 20 percent will require you to pay a hefty CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium, which is frequently added to the mortgage principal and amortized over the life of the mortgage as part of the regular monthly payment.

Your lender will want to know the source of your down payment. Many Millennials will depend on the largesse of their parents to top up their down payment.

The down payment, however, is only part of the upfront cost. You can expect to pay from 1.5-to-4 percent of the purchase price of your home in closing costs. These costs include legal fees, appraisals, property transfer tax, HST (where applicable) on new properties, home and title insurance, mortgage life insurance and prepaid property tax and utility adjustments. These amount to thousands of dollars.

Don’t forget moving costs and essential upgrades to the property such as draperies or blinds in the bedroom.

5. Test drive your monthly housing payments to learn how much you can truly afford.

Affordability is not about how much credit you can qualify for, but how much you can reasonably tolerate given your current and future income, stability, lifestyle and budget. Most Millennials underestimate what it costs to run a home, be it a condo or single-family residence.

The formal qualification guidelines used by lenders are two-fold: 1) your housing costs must be no more than 32 percent of your gross (pre-tax) household income; and, 2) your housing costs plus all other debt servicing must be no more than 40 percent of your gross income.

Lenders define housing costs as mortgage payments, property taxes, condo fees (if any) and heating costs.[3] But homes cost more than that. In your planning, you should also other utilities (such as cable, water and air conditioning), ongoing maintenance, home insurance and unexpected repairs. Taking all of these costs into consideration, the 32 percent and 40 percent guidelines might well put an unacceptable crimp in your lifestyle, keeping in mind that future children also add meaningfully to household expenses and two incomes can unexpectedly turn into one.

The best way to know what you can afford is to try it out. Say, for example, you qualify for a mortgage payment of $1400 a month and adding property taxes and condo fees might take your monthly housing expense to $1650.  A far cry from the $500 you pay now to split a place with 3 roommates. Start making the full payment before you buy to your savings account and see how it feels. Do you have enough money left over to maintain a tolerable lifestyle without going further into debt?

Keep in mind that this is not a normal interest rate environment. Don’t over-extend because there is a good chance interest rates will be higher when your term is up. Do the math (or better yet have your broker do it for you) on what a doubling of interest rates five years from now would do to your monthly payment.  A doubling of rates may be unlikely, but it makes sense to know the implication.

Do Your Calculations Look Discouraging?

If so, here are some things you can do to improve your situation:

Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

Pay off some loans before you buy real estate.

  • Save for a larger down payment.
  • Take another look at your current household budget to see where you can spend less. The money you save can go towards a larger down payment.
  • Lower your home price — remember that your first home is not necessarily your dream home.

Footnotes:

[1] I would like to acknowledge and thank the many mortgage professionals of Dominion Lending Centres who made contributions to this report.

[2] People break mortgages because of job change, decision to upsize, change neighbourhoods, change in family status or refinancing. The last thing you want to discover is that discharging a $400,000 mortgage 3.5 years into a 5-year term is going to cost you $15,000.

[3] Lenders now also assess your qualification compliance if interest rates were to rise meaningfully, a likely scenario in this low interest rate environment.

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DR. SHERRY COOPER
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.