Bank or Mortgage Broker? Bank or Mortgage Broker? Mortgages are like vehicles. A bank is similar to the brand, Ford or Toyota for example. How long you have a mortgage before it’s time to renew is like the model, a Fusion or Camry. The rate is similar to the car’s paint color, and the mortgage benefits such as prepayment privileges and portability are like the car’s benefits; 4-wheel drive, hatchback, four doors instead of two, etc. A bank is like a sales person at a Ford or Toyota dealership. He or she know everything about every car on their lot; engine size, warranty, all available colors, and their fuel ratings. He or she can match any car to your needs and lifestyle, as long as it’s sold at their lot. But what if they don’t have the most fuel efficient car? What if you don’t like the design or you need four doors and a trunk and all they have is two doors and a hatchback? Are you still going to buy from that dealership just because you went there first? No, you’re going down the street to check out the Chevrolet, maybe even BMW, Mazda, or the new Chrysler dealership. That sales person doesn’t want you to go buy from another lot down the street, but you are buying to satisfy your needs, not the dealership’s needs of selling their own cars. Now imagine a dealership that sold every single make and model of vehicle. Imagine you could choose one of their sales people, and have them work only for you. They know just as much or even more about every make and model, they do all the research for you and tell you what you need to look for, they ask you the important questions; they have your best interest. That is a mortgage broker, your own personal expert. Now, you may not need a personal expert to buy a car. But what about mortgages? Is a 0.10% lower interest rate a lot? Or will a 20% prepayment privilege instead of 10% be more advantageous? Can you switch lenders and move your mortgage? $15,000 or $5,000 penalty? How is it calculated? Fixed or variable? Is a collateral charge good or bad? 2-year term or 5-year? Big bank or monoline lender? How about credit unions? The list goes on. So, a bank or Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker? Put it this way; would you buy from the first dealership you visit or hire an expert?
Bi-Weekly Payment Workaround
Most of us know that changing your mortgage payment from monthly, or semi monthly, to an accelerated bi-weekly payment instantly reduces your standard 25 year amortization by 2.58 years with today’s rates. (If you didn’t know that, you’re likely not working with the mortgage professionals at Dominion Lending Centres).
Sometimes, however, an accelerated bi-weekly payment option might not be available to you. Either the lender does not offer it as an option with that particular product, or they may not allow you to set it up if the accelerated payment knocks your qualifying ratios out of line. Although these situations are rare, they do come up from time to time. Here’s a workaround for those that might find themselves in this situation.
Open up a separate chequing account from which ONLY your mortgage payment will be withdrawn.
Then, from the account where your paychecks are deposited, set up an automatic transfer from this account, to your new chequing account. The automatic transer will be every two weeks and for half of the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. This is the amount that your accelerated bi-weekly payment would equal out to.
Throughout the year you will continue to automatically transfer exactly half of your monthly payment into your new chequing account, every two weeks. Then, those two months each year where you receive your paycheck three times in one month, you will also transfer half of your mortgage payment into the new account three times this month. When your monthly payment is withdrawn by your lender, there will be a half monthly payment remaining in your new account. This will happen twice throughout the year, leaving you with one full monthly payment remaining in your new chequing account. This is the accelerated effect.
Once per year, take this remaining balance in your account and apply it as a lump sum towards your mortgage, which most mortgages allow you to do. This lump sum goes directly towards your principal balance, interest free, thus reducing your amortization the same as anaccelerated bi-weekly payment would have.
It may not seem like much, but imagine no mortgage payments for the next two and a half years. Feels good, doesn’t it?!
25 May 2016
Life Happens, Let Your Home Help
Sometimes “life happens”, and when it does, your home can be your savior if you have accrued some equity in it. Maybe you’ve been out of work, run up your credit cards and driven your credit rating into the ground. Perhaps, you’ve decided to leave the job you hate and venture out into the world of owning your own business. Whatever it may be, the equity in your home can help.
I recently helped a client who had maxed out her high interest credit cards due to not being able to work for a couple of years, and the credit card debt had lowered her credit score substantially. She was now back to work as a self employed consultant earning a good income, but the $1,000 monthly interest payments she was paying was seriously eating at her cash flow and not reducing the principal she owed. Dead money!!
Luckily for her, she had great equity in her condo, so I was able to provide her with an Equity Take Out Mortgage. The mortgage lender I chose was able to loan her money based on the strength of her property and the low loan to value of the mortgage based on her equity, NOT her income or credit score.
Here are the numbers:
Mortgage Amount $75,000
Rate: 4.75% (due to low credit score and equity take out)
Monthly Payments: $425.59
Savings per month: $574.41
In this case, my client was able to pay off her credit card debt and had a fair amount of money left over to invest in her business and her future.
In the end, she was very happy to be able to get her finances and business back on track, and start her life anew!
By working with me, a licensed mortgage broker who has access to a variety of lenders and products, we were easily able to find a great solution to a “life happens” scenario.
If you would like to learn more about how the equity in your home can help you, contact your nearest Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.
How To Maximize Your Cash Flow While Increasing Your Net Worth By Having a Mortgage Plan
Interest rates are only one of many features that should be looked at when you are applying for a mortgage. But all things being equal, the interest rate may be more important than you think.
I was reviewing mortgage options with a client and the only thing they were interested in was the mortgage rate. There was no concern about all the other conditions that could end up being quite costly and since I could only offer him what he considered a small reduction, the client said “the bank’s rate was only a little higher and I feel more comfortable leaving everything I have with my bank for such a small difference.” What was the difference? I will get to that in a minute.
The mortgage renewal form you get in the mail is another cautionary note. I have had clients send me a copy of their renewal form. So far, in every case the renewal rate was higher than what I was currently able to get them. The last one I saw was .25% higher than what I could offer.
According to a recent Maritz/CAAMP survey, clients who used the services of a Mortgage Broker benefited with an interest rate .045% lower than those that dealt directly with their lenders.
So what does this fraction of a percentage mean for you? Let’s look at a $500,000 mortgage at 2.64% compared to 2.84%. That is only .2% or, to look at it a different way, it is about $50 a month or $600 a year savings by taking the 2.64% mortgage.
Here are a few options to increase net worth.
- You take the 2.64% rate and you invest the $600 a year into a growth mutual fund that averages 10%. Even though over the years, as your mortgage goes down, the savings may not be as great, you make up the difference and keep investing that $600 a year for the next 30 years. That is a small difference, but in 30 years it has added up to over $100,000 in your tax free savings account.
- You take out the 2.84% and say I like my bank and I am comfortable with the bank making the extra money and increasing their bottom line off my mortgage.
- With interest rates being so low, you could look at increasing your cash flow by stretching out your amortization and lowering your payment. Then you take the extra cash flow and invest it with your financial adviser in your tax free savings account.
- If you have extra equity in your home and have not contributed to your Tax Free Savings Account, consider refinancing and topping up your TFSA. As of 2016, the accumulative amount you can contribute is $51,000 per person 19 years or old in BC. So that would be $102,000 per couple. Invest that $102,000 and get an 8% return, you end up with $698,544 tax free money after 25 years and you paid back the mortgage and interest payments. If rates stayed the same throughout the 25 years at 2.69%, the whole $139,906 would be paid back. So you make a tax free profit of $558,638 by freeing up some capital to invest. Your total cost is $37,906 in interest.
There are many details to a mortgage and the rate is just one of them. Any of us here at Dominion Lending Centres would be happy to review your future mortgage needs to make sure you are maximizing your mortgage to your benefit.
How To Pay Off Debt Faster – 25 Secret Tips Your Banker Doesn’t Want You To Know
1. Make a double mortgage payment whenever you can. Doing this once a year can shave over 4 years off the mortgage! Sometimes you can skip a payment later on too…if you really, really need to. Try not to. If your payment is $2,000 a month, four years of no payments is $96,000!!
2. Increase frequency of payment. For Example going from monthly to bi-weekly accelerated can shave over three years off your mortgage! $2,000, three years of no payments is $72,000!!
3. Increase your payment. For example a one-time 10% increase can shave 4 years off the mortgage. That’s $96,000! Imagine if you bumped the payment 10% every year from the get go!!! You would be mortgage free in 13 years! Start to finish! Can’t do it? How about 5% every year….you would be mortgage free in 18 years! How about increasing the payment by the amount of your annual raise?
4. Lump sum payments…same idea…mortgage is gone way faster! Even just one payment a year equivalent to 1 monthly payment will give you similar results as #2 above! How about using your annual work bonus?
5. Renegotiate whenever rates drop to save interest and pay mortgage faster! Generally a good idea however *Caution* get independent professional advice (a cost benefit analysis) to make sure it makes sense for you at that time. I can help. A 1% reduction on a $300,000 mortgage will save $250 a month…times 5 years…that’s $15,000!!
6. Keep your credit rating high for best rate. Always pay on time. Never let payments slip past their due date. Always keep balances low in relation to credit limits on credit cards, lines of credit, etc. 50% or less is best even if you pay the balances in full every month. What generally reports to the credit bureau is the statement balance each month. So if your credit limit is $3000 and you are running $3000 a month through the card each month (to collect all those points you never spend or can’t use in blackout periods) and paying in full, it will look like you are maxing out your credit limit and your credit score will drop accordingly.
7. Increase your mortgage! Yeah I know sounds backwards! Do it to roll in your credit cards, line of credit, car loan etc for a better rate and a set payment plan. Oh you say you don’t want to extend the repayment period of that stuff by rolling it into your mortgage or you have a low or promo rate credit card (those never end well) I agree! Then keep the total payment amount the same but pay it in one neat monthly payment to the increased mortgage.
8. Make an RRSP contribution and use the refund to pay down your mortgage.
9. Go variable rate with your mortgage but keep payments as if fixed rate. Variable rates usually win out over fixed rates. By paying a higher payment you will pay off the mortgage faster. It’s also a buffer in case the rate rises above the fixed rate for short periods of time. *Caution* variable rates are not for everyone. Get independent professional advice to find out what is best for you. I can help!
10. Take your mortgage with you when you change properties to avoid penalty or higher rate on a new mortgage. This is called “porting”. Make sure that your mortgage has this feature. It is not widely known and could save you a ton of dough.
11. Set up auto savings every paycheque, even $10, when it reaches the amount of one mortgage payment, apply it to the mortgage. This concept goes nicely with #4 above.
12. Unhook from the money drip…stop paying with your fancy points credit or debit card. Way too easy to overspend! Go old school, go off the grid…PAY CASH, it works!
13. Don’t ever buy on layaway, you know, six months don’t pay schemes. You think…No problem I’ll just pay it in six months, it will be okay. Yeah right!
14. Downsize your house. Two good friends and clients of mine, having followed many of the tips here, are in great shape except they have a six bedroom house! Two people, six bed house – go figure! They are nearly debt free so no biggy, but can you say the same? Circumstances change, make the adjustments along the way!
15. Don’t want to move? Convert the basement/rooms to rental and use the income to pay down debt.
16. Convert your mortgage to tax deductible. If you are self-employed, own rental property or have investments, this is likely possible. I won’t go into details here, just ask me how.
17. Have a payment priority.
18. Pay off the highest interest rate first.
19. If you have tax deductible loans, pay them off last, slowest. Pay the non-tax deductible loans first and fastest.
20. Pay off ugly debt first. Stuff like credit card purchases.
21. Payoff bad debt next. Stuff like car loans, boat loans. Things that depreciate in value.
22. Pay off good debt (or shall I say “not so bad debt”) last. Stuff like mortgages, investment loans. Things that hopefully appreciate in value.
23. Buying a car? Finance it if you have to, don’t lease! *Exception* If you are self-employed it might make sense.
24. You have $20,000 in a secret bank account for a rainy day fund and $20,000 owing on a line of credit. Seriously? The bank account is paying you next to nothing (which is taxable income to boot) and the line of credit rate is way higher (and not tax deductible). You know what to do. You can keep the line of credit open and on standby for rainy day funds. Make it the secret line of credit that you have but never use.
25. Give your Banker more money. No really. Keep enough in your chequing account to meet the minimum requirement to waive your service charges. My bank charges $10 a month for 25 transactions and nothing, zero, zilch, zip if I keep $2,500 in the account. Let’s see $10 x 12 is $120 a year to pay off debt. I’d have to earn 5% with the $2,500 in my savings account to come out ahead. No brainer here. Oh yeah, if you need more than 25 transactions a month…see #12 above.
26. #26? BONUS TIP and MOST IMPORTANT. Let’s face it, you’re not the Government and you’re not a Bank, you can’t run deficits forever and you won’t get a bailout….stop procrastinating already! See 1 through 24 above and take action now!
Sidenote: *Caution* beware of some too good to be true ultra-low rate mortgages. These “no frills” mortgages are often loaded with restrictions like pre-payment limitations, fully-closed terms, stripped-out features, or unusual penalties. You really need to compare product to product. If you’re not looking at what you’re giving up, you may regret it in the future. This alone could prevent you from taking advantage of tips #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 16 and 22!
Difference Between Fixed and Variable Rates
The two most frequently asked questions I get are:
1. What are your best rates?
2. What is the difference between fixed and variable rates?
Question #1 is actually more complicated than question #2. Why? Because rates are not the only thing you should be looking at when deciding what mortgage product to contract to. Recently, a client brought us a product that had a 1.99% fixed rate for a 5 year fixed term. This was extraordinary, and we did our due diligence to see what the product was all about. We found out that the term was 5 years and the interest rate was fixed at 1.99%…..for the first 6 months. Then it went up to the posted fixed rate of 3.15% for the remainder of the term. Not nearly as stellar as it appeared. Rule of thumb: If it is too good to be true, it is too good to be true! Make sure you know what your mortgage product entails. It is in your best interest to find out all the hidden costs behind the mortgage product that you don’t see up front.
Which leads us to question #2, What is the difference between fixed and variable rates?
Fixed Rates For the bank, this is a lower risk. It is usually higher than a variable rate. It remains constant or fixed for the term of the mortgage which means that your payments remain constant for the term of the mortgage. This rate is based on typical rates that are being offered by banks at the time the client enters into the mortgage contract. It’s a lot like “gas wars”. When you see gas stations that are in close proximity lower and raise their prices based on what the gas station across the street is doing, you see that these gas stations are competing with one another. It’s the same with banks. They watch each other’s prices and react to what’s going on “across the street”.
Variable Rates This is a higher risk rate for the bank. It is harder to qualify for this rate, which means the bank allows less debt in your financial profile compared to qualifying for a fixed rate. A variable rate can change during the term of the mortgage which means your actual mortgage payment can either increase or decrease during the term of the mortgage.
A variable rate is also a higher risk for the client as rates can go up which directly affects your payment amount. The last 15 years has seen rates generally decrease and clients that have taken advantage of the variable rate have not seen an increase in mortgage payments. But that’s not to say that it can turn at any time. Historically, we are at the lowest rates that we’ve seen but no one has a crystal ball.
Variable rates are quoted as Prime minus a certain amount or Prime plus a certain amount. What does this mean? Variable rates are based on the Bank of Canada, a governing institution for all Canadian banks. The Bank of Canada sets the benchmark for interest rates, based on inflation. Generally speaking, if the economy needs to be stimulated and is in a state of deflation, interest rates along with the Canadian dollar are lower. If the economy needs to be slowed down and is in a state of inflation, interest rates are higher along with the Canadian dollar. Currently, the benchmark rate for the bank of Canada is 2.5%. But most banks have adopted 2.7% as its Prime rate, basically because 2.5% is just too low for the bank. Thus, a bank might offer you Prime minus 0.2% (2.7% – 0.2% = 2.5%). Remember, the
Bank of Canada reviews its benchmark rate about 8 times a year. Depending on the state of the economy, they may raise or decrease the benchmark rate which will affect your variable rate.
You enter into a contract rate of Prime – 0.2% (2.5%). 18 months later, there is a surge in foreign investment into the country which stimulates the economy. The Bank of Canada reviews its benchmark rate and decides to raise the benchmark rate to 2.75%. Your bank follows suit and raises its Prime rate from 2.7% to 3%. Your contracted rate for your mortgage is still Prime – 0.2%. But instead of 2.5% you are now paying 2.7%. Your mortgage payment will also go up to reflect the new rate.
For more information about fixed and variable rates please a mortgage professional at Dominion Lending Centres. We’d be pleased to answer any questions you have.
First Time Home Buyers – Planning and Negotiations Will Save You Time and Money
Every mortgage is unique. Would the advertised/online RATE work for everybody? It’s hard to say, until your documents fulfill all the conditions for that rate. Sometimes there are challenges to getting the approval of the mortgage. Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals try their best to find solutions to those challenges because they have a business relationship with more than ONE lender, they WORK FOR YOU, and they try their best to earn your business.
I want to share my experience when I bought my first existing home two decades ago and how a Real Estate agent helped me at that time. We decided to have a newly built home and at one “show home”, a Real Estate agent gave me his business card. After a couple of days, I phoned that Real Estate agent to get more guidance to sign a contract with a builder.
We met with him and discussed our priorities. He provided us the price and compared features of “show homes” in different neighbourhoods in the city. Also, he mentioned about the future growth of the particular vicinity in our area. After our first meeting with him, we were so impressed that he would negotiate on behalf of us, and he assured us that he would bring the price down as much as he could.
We started going with him to see more “show homes” and we liked one that was within our price range. He started “negotiating” with the representative of a builder. He went back and forth, and finally, our offer got accepted, and that Real Estate agent saved us $3,500.
If that Realtor did not meet us at the “show home” we wouldn’t have had the chance to negotiate or signed the contract with a builder at the asking price and saved $3,500 at that time.
I had to pay a 10% down payment at that time since I did not PLAN my mortgage and did not realize that my income would be an issue. Always check with a mortgage professional to receive unbiased advice for your mortgage financing needs. If you are a “First Time Home Buyer” and thinking of buying a home in the very near future, START PLANNING your mortgage with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional. By doing this, you will have knowledge of allowable income and down payment for the mortgage financing. You will also realize what credit is and why it is so important in this process.
At Dominion Lending Centres, we will plan your mortgage by focussing your short and long term goals and also show you how to pay off your mortgage faster than you think. You will have access to the very best products and rates available across Canada. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Top 8 Benefits of Using a Mortgage Broker
When shopping for a mortgage, many home buyers enlist the services of a Mortgage Professional. There are several benefits to using a Mortgage Broker and I have compiled a list of the top 8:
1. Saves you time – Mortgage Brokers have access to multiple lenders (over 50!). They work with lenders you have heard of and lenders you probably haven’t heard of. Because their relationship with lenders is ongoing, Mortgage Brokers know what is available in mortgage financing and will be able to advise you on what your lending options are without all the leg work that you would have to do in order to find a small percentage of information that a Mortgage Broker already has in hand.
2. Saves you money – Mortgage Brokers, if they are successful, have access to discounted rates. Because of the high volume that they do, lenders make available discounted rates that are not available directly through the branch of the lender that you go to.
3. Saves you from becoming stressed out! – It can be very daunting to find a mortgage. A Mortgage Broker takes on that stress for you. Your Mortgage Broker will make sure all the paperwork is in place. They will keep in good communication with you so that you know what is going on with your mortgage and will keep you up to date with any complications so that there are no surprises.
4. Gives you access to lenders that are otherwise not available to you – Some lenders work exclusively with Mortgage Brokers. In these circumstances, the layman does not have access to these lenders and, therefore, does not have the option to use discounted rates and mortgage products that these lenders offer.
5. Services are free – Mortgage Professionals are paid by the lender and not by you. This is not a disadvantage to you. A good Mortgage Broker will ALWAYS have the best interest of the client in mind because if you, as a client, are happy, you will go tell your friends about the service you’ve received from the Mortgage Professional you work with. Mortgage Professionals rely on referrals, which means that if you are a happy customer, and you got the best deal available, you will tell your friends and family about them which will result in referrals and potential future business.
6. Take on every challenge – As Mortgage Professionals, we see every scenario out there and work to make sure that every client knows what is available to them for financing options for a mortgage. Damaged credit and low household income might be a deterrent for the bank, but a Mortgage Professional knows how to approach the lender and has the relationship to make sure every client has a plan and strategy in place to make sure there is a mortgage in their future.
7. The Mortgage Brokerage industry is monitored by governing bodies – Nowadays, as Mortgage Brokers, it is extremely important to have principles and values that are based on the best interest of the client. In fact, in order to become licensed, the Mortgage Professionals need to be well versed in the ethical and upstanding values that are outlined through the Financial Institutes Commission, a provincial governing body that is a watchman for this industry. FICOM’s mandate is to make sure every Mortgage Broker walks in integrity and in the best interest of their client.
8. The Mortgage Broker has a better understanding of what mortgage products are available than your bank – Interestingly, a Mortgage Broker has to be licensed and cannot discuss mortgages with you unless they are licensed. This is unlike the bank who can “internally train” their staff to sell the specific products available from their bank. The staff at your bank do not have to be licensed Mortgage Professionals.
While this is not an exhaustive list on the benefits of using a Mortgage Professional, it is compelling to see the benefits of using a Mortgage Professional rather than putting a mortgage together on your own.
At Dominion Lending Centres, we have an excellent rapport with the lenders we introduce our clients to. Our customer service is reflective of our relationship with our lenders. We are always professional and we always make sure our clients know every viable option they have for mortgage financing.
Top 10 Things to Consider Before Your Mortgage Matures
1. Have you explored all your options. Once you receive your mortgage renewal statement, there is nothing easier than signing on for another term, heck 70% of everybody that received them from their current lender just signs over thousands of dollars. This may make sense in some cases, but your family and financial situation may changed over time. I can look for opportunities that may meet or exceed your current expectations.
2. Are you comfortable with your current payments. If your monthly payments are barely letting you break even each month then it might be time to reduce payments. On the other hand, if you are earning more income then why not pay down your mortgage faster and save thousands in interest over time. Have you reviewed your prepayment options?
3. Do you need cash flow for other things. Your priorities may have changed since you purchased the home. Things like your child(s) post secondary education, planning a career change or a major purchase may now be front and centre. With ‘today’s’ current market, there may now be access to additional equity in your home that can be used for other purposes.
4. Can you handle fluctuating rates. Some homeowners are comfortable with the ebb and flow of interest rates and some are not. It is best to base your decision on your personal situation and not what you read in the daily news. I can help you decide on a fixed or variable rate mortgage options, but ultimately it’s your decision.
5. Will you sell soon. If so, consider a shorter term mortgage that has flexible manageable terms if you decide to sell your home.
6. Are you thinking of a major renovation. Upgrades can increase the value of your home but the cost of having the work done can tie up a lot your money. Make sure to allow for ample finances to complete.
7. When do you want to be ‘mortgage-free.’ Increasing your payments will raise your monthly expenses now, but you will ultimately save thousands on interest in the long term. A mortgage-free lifestyle could be just around the corner.
8. Could you use your home equity to fulfill other goals. Refinancing a mortgage can be one way to free up cash you need for other things, which could even include purchasing another property.
9. Have your insurance needs changed. If your home equity has increased, there may not be the need for default insurance anymore.
10. Are you getting the best rates and terms. In a competitive mortgage environment your good credit history can make refinancing your mortgage work to your advantage. Dominion Lending Centres analyzes mortgage markets daily to ensure you don’t miss any money saving opportunities.
The Benefits of a Mortgage Broker
The next time you’re looking for a mortgage for that new house or you’re up for renewal on your existing mortgage, think about using a mortgage broker – their services are free and they offer you an abundance of choices the banks simply can’t compete with.
Mortgage brokers have access to a vast array of lenders – up to 200+ institutions, including the big banks – which enables these professionals to negotiate the best possible mortgage products and rates on your behalf. In comparison, if you approach your bank with a mortgage request, they can only offer you a narrow choice – namely, their own products.
Mortgage brokers do their homework on available mortgage products and keep themselves abreast of any new products, or changes to existing products, to ensure they find the best mortgage to fit your specific needs.
Unlike the banks, mortgage brokers can also cater to self-employed borrowers as well as those who have suffered credit blemishes due to life experiences such as divorce or illness. Brokers will listen to your story, whereas the banks have a very narrow view of what fits into their financing box – and this is unnegotiable.
If you’re thinking of buying a home, Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals can find the best mortgage rate and term for your unique situation.
Top Reasons for Using a Broker:
1. Choice – access to multiple financial institutions
2. Costs – using a broker is free and they can negotiate lower rates for you
3. Knowledge – brokers stay up-to-date on available products and services
4. Flexibility – mortgage products are even available for the self-employed or those who have credit blemishes