8 Jan

Bank of Canada Rate Change – Should I lock in?

General

Posted by: Kimberly and Cindy Walker

This month, the Bank of Canada increased their lending rate for the 2nd time in as many months. The changes in the Prime Lender Rates means that those with a variable mortgage rates will have seen that their mortgages rates adjusted alongside the changes to Prime Rate. For those of you with variable rates, the first thing that probably crossed your mind was “should I lock in?”

Even though your interest rate may have increased, it does not mean that you should immediately lock into a fixed rate mortgage. An associate from B.C, Dustan Woodhouse had this to share about the increase:

“If your discount from Prime (now 3.20%) is 0.50% or deeper – then the variable rate product remains a really great place to be.

If your discount from Prime is 0.25% or less, then depending on which lender you are with you may consider converting to a fixed rate, BUT…

Keep in mind the penalty to prepay (i.e. refinance or sale of property) a variable early is ~0.50% of the mortgage balance, whereas if in a (4yr/5yr or longer) fixed rate mortgage the penalty can be closer to 4.5% of the mortgage balance ***depending upon which specific lender you are with and how long of a term you lock in for.

It is usually to the lenders greater benefit that you lock into a fixed rate, rarely is it to your own benefit.”

I could not have summarized it any better myself, so I won’t try.

So what should you do?
The first thing that you should be doing is avoiding the immediate draw or feeling of “I need to lock in”. There are several different aspects of your mortgage and personal financial situation that should be considered prior to locking in. There are many questions to ask yourself prior to locking in and most of which the lenders are unlikely to ask you. Your lender is re-active, not pro-active – you need to be pro-active. And sometimes being pro-active results in no action being taken at all.

Simply because the Bank of Canada increased interest rates twice, this does not immediately mean that they will do it again. There are many economic factors outside of their control that will impact their decisions regarding future potential increases.

Presently, the key is not to react quickly. If you have questions about your specific situation and how the increase may impact you, feel free to give Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist a call to chat about things in more detail. Allow us the opportunity to ask the questions that need to be asked prior to making a quick switch.

Food for thought…
Back in 2010 rates increased 0.25% three times, and that sat stagnant for nearly five full years before two 0.25% decreases back downward.

In other words the last time Prime was pushed as high as it stands today, it sat there for five full years. And was then cut.

The next Bank of Canada meeting is October 25, 2017.

5 Jan

Mortgage changes are coming—are you prepared?

General

Posted by: Kimberly and Cindy Walker

We know – more changes?! How can that be! With this ever-changing landscape, mortgages continue to get more complicated. This next round of changes is predicted to take affect this coming October 2017 (date not yet available). These new rules contain three possible changes, the most prominent being the implementation of a stress test for all uninsured mortgages (those with a down payment of more than 20%). Under current banking rules, only insured mortgages, variable rates and fixed mortgages less than five years must be qualified at a higher rate. That rate, of course, is the Bank of Canada’s posted rate (currently 4.84%, higher than typical contract rates). Going forward, it will be replaced by a 200-basis-point buffer above the borrower’s contract rate. (source)

The other proposed changes include:
• Requiring that loan-to-value measurements remain dynamic and adjust for local conditions when used to qualify borrowers; and
• Prohibiting bundled mortgages that are meant to circumvent regulatory requirements. The practice of bundling a second mortgage with a regulated lender’s first mortgage is often used to get around the 80%+ loan-to-value limit on uninsured mortgages.
These two proposed changes are minor, and would only affect less than 1% of all mortgages in Canada. The main one, the stress testing, will have a far greater impact.

Why is this happening?

You may recall that the stress test requirements were announced by OSFI in October of 2016. This rule followed a long string of new rules that occurred in 2016. At the time, they primarily affected First Time Home Buyers and those who had less than 20% down to put towards a home. Now, those who are coming up to their renewal date or wishing to refinance may find that this will have an impact on them. They may not qualify to borrow as much as they once would have due to the stress testing implication. For example:

A dual-income family with a combined annual income of $85,000.00. The current value of their home is $610,000.00.

Take off the existing mortgage amount owing and you are left with $145,000.00 that is available in the equity of the home provided you qualify to borrow it.

Current Lending Requirements

Qualifying at a rate of 2.94% with a 25-year amortization and with a combined annual income of 85K you would be able to borrow $490,000.00. Reduce your existing mortgage amount of 343K and this means that you could qualify to access the full 145K available in the equity in your home.

Proposed Lending Requirements

Qualify at a rate of 4.94% with a 25-year amortization and with a combined annual income of 85K you would be able to borrow $400,000.00. Reduce your existing mortgage amount of 343K and this means that of the 145K available in the equity in your home you would only qualify to access 57K of it. This is a reduced borrowing amount of 88K.

They have a mortgage balance of $343,000.00. Lenders will refinance to a maximum of 80% LTV (loan to value). The maximum amount available here is $488,000.00

As you can see, the amount this couple would qualify for is significantly impacted by these new changes. Their borrowing power was reduced by $88,000-a large sum of money!

With the dates of these changes coming into effect not yet known, we are advising that clients who are considering a renewal this fall do so sooner rather than later. Qualifying under the current requirements can potentially increase the amount you qualify for—and who wouldn’t want that?

For more information on how these changes affect you specifically, or to refinance your mortgage, get in touch with your local Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional-they are well-versed in these changes and are ready to help you navigate through the complexities!

4 Jan

35% Down… The New Conventional Mortgage?

General

Posted by: Kimberly and Cindy Walker

If you’re looking to buy a new home, one of the most difficult things can be putting together a down payment for the mortgage. So how much do you really need to put together before you can get into the home of your dreams? Let’s take a look at some of the different options, with their various pros and cons.

0% Down – A Thing of the Past?

If you’ve been in the housing market before, you might remember a time when banks offered extremely inexpensive mortgage options, including the “zero down payment” mortgage. Although these types of mortgages were extremely attractive for obvious reasons, you may remember a something called the Great Recession of 2008. The unfortunate downside to these mortgages was that far too many unqualified buyers were opting into mortgages they could not realistically afford. When these people defaulted en masse, it led, in part, to the collapse of the housing market. As a result, Canadian legislators moved to implement safety measures preventing such high-risk mortgages from being so freely available.

As a result, if you’re looking to buy a home through a federally-regulated lender, you will be required to make a minimum 5% down payment. On the other hand, most major credit unions do still offer zero down mortgages, primarily aimed at lower income families getting into the housing market for the first time. The benefits of this are obvious, requiring less money up front, but what are the downsides? The biggest drawback to this kind of mortgage is the high interest rate. Most of these plans carry an interest rate up to 150% higher than mortgages with 20% or more down. This interest can add up very quickly, in addition to mandatory insurance required for any mortgage with below 20% down. The cost over time of both these high interest rates and insurance can become daunting expenditures, dramatically reducing the attractiveness of these mortgages.

Mid-Range Down Payments – 20% Down

In the Canadian housing market, 20% down is a bit of a milestone. If you put together less than 20% for a down payment, you will be required to also purchase default insurance, a pricy addition your regular mortgage payments. However, if you have 20% or more, you will be exempt from this burden. Common wisdom dictates that, in the long run, you will save a substantial sum of money if you can put together at least 20% for a down payment, as it will reduce your monthly payments substantially.

If you fall somewhere between 0% and 20% in terms of your ability to put together a down payment, you might want to look into the climate of your housing market. For example, when moving into a very popular housing market, where prices are increasing at a fast pace, it could be more expensive to wait until you have a larger down payment, as the prices will increase at a rate which negates the benefits you’d receive by not having to pay insurance. In a mellower housing market, you may be better off saving up and avoiding the higher interest and insurance premiums of a lower down payment mortgage, since the cost of housing will not be likely to climb so quickly.

Whatever your specific situation, it helps to have professionals look into it with you and crunch the numbers to make sure that you’re making the best decision for you!

35% Down Payment – The Ideal Mortgage?

Further conventional wisdom dictates that if a 20% down payment is good, 35% must be even better. The importance of 20% is, of course, that the CMHC insurance is no longer required, but what if you’re situated so that you can afford an even larger down payment? Simply put, the more money you’re able to commit up front to a home, the less expensive it will be in the long run. Not only will you have less to pay off, but you will qualify for even more appealing interest rates. With lower interest rates and no insurance to worry about, the overall cost of your home will be substantially lower and you will be finished paying off your home far more quickly than if you were to put down the minimum.

Of course, not everyone is so situated that they can afford to put down 20-35% on a home. It’s important to note that, although there are benefits, a princely down payment is not required to get into the housing market. If you are a first-time buyer or belong to the low-to-mid income class, there are options available for you as well.

What’s truly important is to be able to take a frank, honest look at your finances, be clear about what you can and can’t afford, get professional assistance when needed, and do the math on what you’re getting yourself into. Buying a home should be an exciting experience, and it can be, provided you put in the necessary footwork! The mortgage professionals at Dominion Lending Centres are happy to help.

4 Jan

Another big year for Fraser Valley real estate

General

Posted by: Kimberly and Cindy Walker

SURREY, BC – The Fraser Valley housing market had its second highest selling year on record in 2017, with total MLS® transactions and dollar volume sold behind only 2016’s unprecedented level of activity.

The Board’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) processed 22,338 sales in 2017, 7.3 per cent less than the record of 23,974 sales set in 2016. The total dollar volume of MLS® sales was $15.7 billion, coming out slightly beneath 2016’s record setting total dollar volume of $16.2 billion.

Of the total transactions for the year, 5,198 were townhouses sold and 6,183 were apartments, together representing over half of overall market activity for the region. This was also the highest total annual sales for apartments in the Board’s history.

“Much of the market’s momentum through 2017 came from the incredible shift in demand to attached-style homes, particularly in our larger communities,” remarked Gopal Sahota, President of the Board.

“While prices continued to see slight gains month-to-month, a lot of our attached inventory remained affordable and an excellent option for consumers of all types.”

For inventory, a total of 32,651 new listings were received by the Board’s MLS® system, the third highest in the Board’s history after 2016 (34,768) and 2008 (35,651).

Last month the Board processed 1,344 sales, the second-most transactions for a December on record in the Fraser Valley. December inventory finished at 3,818 active units, with a total of 1,277 new listings entering the market throughout the month.

Sahota adds, “All year, supply levels remained below where we’d like them to be, and that has put a tight grip on inventory and pressure on the pace of the market. This is still a challenging market for many consumers.

“However, if you have your finances in order, and the support of a local REALTOR® who fits your needs, you’ll be in the best position to make a move in 2018 and find success.”

HPI® Benchmark Price Activity

  • Single Family Detached: At $976,400, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley increased 0.4 per cent compared to November 2017, and increased 14.2 per cent compared to December 2016.
  • Townhomes: At $513,100, the Benchmark price for a townhouse in the Valley increased 1.5 per cent compared to November 2017, and increased 23 per cent compared to December 2016.
  • Apartments: At $388,600, the Benchmark price for an apartment in the Valley increased 3.2 per cent compared to November 2017, and increased 40.5 per cent compared to December 2016.

Full package:
http://www.fvreb.bc.ca/statistics/Package201712.pdf

4 Jan

10 things NOT to do when applying for a mortgage – buying a home or refinancing

General

Posted by: Kimberly and Cindy Walker

Have you been approved for a mortgage and waiting for the completion date to come? Well, it is not smooth sailing until AFTER the solicitor has registered the new mortgage. Be sure to avoid these 10 things below or your approval status can risk being reversed!

1. Don’t change employers or job positions
Any career changes can affect qualifying for a mortgage. Banks like to see a long tenure with your employer as it shows stability. When applying for a mortgage, it is not the time to become self employed!

2. Don’t apply for any other loans
This will drastically affect how much you qualify for and also jeopardize your credit rating. Save the new car shopping until after your mortgage funds.

3. Don’t decide to furnish your new home or renovations on credit before the completion date of your mortgage
This, as well, will affect how much you qualify for. Even if you are already approved for a mortgage, a bank or mortgage insurance company can, and in many cases do, run a new credit report before completion to confirm your financial status and debts have not changed.

4. Do not go over limit or miss any re-payments on your credit cards or line of credits
This will affect your credit score, and the bank will be concerned with the ability to be responsible with credit. Showing the ability to be responsible with credit and re-payment is critical for a mortgage approval

5. Don’t deposit “mattress” money into your bank account
Banks require a three-month history of all down payment being used when purchasing a property. Any deposits outside of your employment or pension income, will need to be verified with a paper trail. If you sell a vehicle, keep a bill of sale, if you receive an income tax credit, you will be expected to provide the proof. Any unexplained deposits into your banking will be questioned.

6. Don’t co-sign for someone else’s loan
Although you may want to do someone else a favour, this debt will be 100% your responsibility when you go to apply for a mortgage. Even as a co-signor you are just as a responsible for the loan, and since it shows up on your credit report, it is a liability on your application, and therefore lowering your qualifying amount.

7. Don’t try to beef up your application, tell it how it is!
Be honest on your mortgage application, your mortgage broker is trying to assist you so it is critical the information is accurate. Income details, properties owned, debts, assets and your financial past. IF you have been through a foreclosure, bankruptcy, consumer proposal, please disclose this info right away.

8. Don’t close out existing credit cards
Although this sounds like something a bank would favour, an application with less debt available to use, however credit scores actually increase the longer a card is open and in good standing. If you lower the level of your available credit, your debt to credit ratio could increase and lowering the credit score. Having the unused available credit, and cards open for a long duration with good re-payment is GOOD!

9. Don’t Marry someone with poor credit (or at lease be prepared for the consequences that may come from it)

So you’re getting married, have you had the financial talk yet? Your partner’s credit can affect your ability to get approved for a mortgage. If there are unexpected financial history issues with your partner’s credit, make sure to have a discussion with your mortgage broker before you start shopping for a new home.

10. Don’t forget to get a pre-approval!
With all the changes in mortgage qualifying, assuming you would be approved is a HUGE mistake. There could also be unknown changes to your credit report, mortgage product or rate changes, all which influence how much you qualify for. Thinking a pre-approval from several months ago or longer is valid now, would also be a mistake. Most banks allow a pre-approval to be valid for 4 months, be sure to communicate with your mortgage broker if you need an extension on a pre-approval.

2 Jan

What Happens When a Home Sale Falls Through?

General

Posted by: Kimberly and Cindy Walker

Every homebuyer eagerly anticipates closing day. With the home purchase process completed, ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer – you!

Closing date is negotiated as a condition of sale. You’ll typically have several weeks between the date that your agreement to purchase (sales contract) is signed and your closing date.

During that time, you and your real estate team will work to ensure that all the conditions of the sale are met so you can take possession on the agreed-upon date.

But what happens if a home sale falls through and you are unable to close?

Reasons why a home sale could fall through

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of purchase agreements close as expected. But the most common reasons why a sale may fall through are the following:

  • The homebuyer fails to qualify for a mortgage.
  • The homebuyer makes an offer to purchase a home based on the condition that they can sell their existing property first – and fails to do so.
  • The homebuyer’s lender appraises the property at a value significantly lower than the agreed-upon purchase price. If the buyer can’t make up the shortfall from savings or the seller won’t lower the price, the buyer can no longer afford the property.
  • There are title insurance or home inspection surprises. If a title report shows claims against the property or if a home inspection reveals serious flaws, it will jeopardize the sale.
  • The homebuyer gets cold feet, changing his or her mind for any reason.

TIP: The best way to reduce the odds of failing to close on a home you want is to get mortgage pre-approval from the mortgage professionals at Dominion Lending Centres before you start house hunting.

Avoid making an offer on a potential money pit by scheduling a pre-sale inspection.

Your home sale falls through. Now what?

If you ever experience a sobering “it’s just not gonna happen” moment, contact your REALTOR® immediately.

If appropriate, they will send the seller’s agent a mutual release form, which releases both parties from the purchase agreement. As the buyer, you will endeavor to get your sales deposit back, and the seller is free to sell the home to someone else.

Problems arise if the seller refuses to sign the mutual release form.

Who gets the deposit?

If the seller refuses to sign the mutual release form, your deposit, which is held in a trust account, remains in trust until it is released by court order.

A disgruntled seller may decide to sue for damages that result from the failed purchase agreement. For example, they may end up selling the property to another buyer for less, resulting in a financial loss.

Or let’s say they purchased a home conditional on the sale of their existing home, and because you backed out, they either fail to close on that home or they must take out bridge financing to save the sale. They’ll probably want compensation for the extra costs and hassle.

While failure to close is an uncommon occurrence, it causes headaches for both buyers and sellers. Try avoiding it by getting mortgage pre-approval before you start house hunting, and by booking a pre-sale home inspection.

Most important, hire a real estate team. These experts can use their experience and professionalism to guide you through your sale, managing any bumps along the way.