Secrets for building your credit

Blog Posts David Cooke 15 Aug

Over the years, I have come across all sorts of people who have had no idea what their credit score is. Some of them have declared to me that they have great credit only to find that they had poor credit scores or a number of late payments. I have also had people tell me that they had lousy credit only to find that they had a very respectable credit score. People do not know anything about credit and need an expert to help them to build their credit.

When you ask the two major credit reporting agencies, Equifax and Trans Union how they score credit, they give you a vague idea but no idea on how to quickly up your score.

Perhaps you have seen this pie chart that shows how they score different activities I have found out recently that people have higher scores that they had previously and this is due to more emphasis on what you owe now as opposed to your payment history.

Here are some things I have observed over my 12 years of being a mortgage broker.

1- Credit card balance. If you have a credit limit of $1,500 and your balance is at $1,450 you are losing 25-30 points. Having a balance of $0 or using less than 50% of the limit adds points. If you pay the minimum balance you may go over your limit. If you are over your credit limit by $1 you will lose 35 points !

How do you quickly get your score up in this situation? Call your credit card company and tell them that you have a large purchase coming up. Ask them to increase your limit to $2,500. They won’t give you a decision over the phone but often within a week you will receive notification that your balance has been increased. You now have an extra 25 points with one phone call. You can also ask them to lower your interest rate so that you can pay your balance down quicker. Most people don’t realize that credit card companies will do this. You can also move your credit card balance over from a high interest department store card at 26% to a lower interest bank card at 9.95%.

2- Types of credit used – credit agencies want to see proper usage of revolving credit ( i.e.: credit cards) and installment credit (i.e. car loans) . They also want to see that you have over $2,500 in available credit. You probably have a credit card but you may not have an installment loan showing on your credit report. You don’t have to buy a car to get this showing on your report. Consider getting a $1,000 RRSP loan from your bank. Why? Well, $1,000 is a substantial loan. Your bank or credit union will be more willing to lend you money for an RRSP that you may buy from them than they would lending you the money for a gambling junket to Vegas.
The RRSP loan is a win/win for you. Besides increasing your credit score and thickening your credit file you will get a tax refund at the end of the year which can be used towards your down payment. 90 days after you open your RRSP you can use the money towards your down payment under the Home Buyers Program up to a maximum of $25,000.

Credit history – don’t close the old credit card you got in university just because you aren’t using it.
Chances are that this card is still reporting month after month that you have credit with them and that the balance for that month is $0. Finally this brings me to my best tip for building credit.

Payment History – Recently I had a young client who wanted to renew his mortgage. When I obtained his credit report I was surprised to see that he had a 900 credit score. This is the highest score possible and usually it is reserved for older people with 20+ years of credit history. When I asked him how he managed this he told me that the only thing he does differently is that he checks his credit card balance every week and pays it off to $0. I knew that people who paid bi-weekly often had higher scores from having more payments showing in their history but this was the first time I had ever heard of someone paying weekly. I am not certain if it’s the number of payments, the fact that the balance is $0 so many more times or a combination of the two factors.
Recently, using these techniques I was able to raise a client’s credit score by 60 points in one month.

If you want to buy a home and you suspect your credit is weak, your first call should be to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker. They can check and make suggestions to get your credit score up and to get you into a home a lot sooner than you could do this on your own.

Five things to think about when you buy a rural property

Blog Posts David Cooke 3 Aug

After several years as a home owner, my friend was set to buy the home of his dreams. He always wanted to own an acreage outside of town. He had visions of having a few animals, a small tractor and lots of space.

As a person with experience buying homes he felt that he was ready and that he knew what he was getting into. Wrong. As soon as you consider buying a home outside of a municipality there are a number of things to consider, not the least being how different it is to get a mortgage.

Zoning – is the property zoned “residential”, “agricultural” or perhaps “country residential”?
Some lenders will not mortgage properties that are zoned agricultural. They may even dislike country residential properties. Why? If you default on your mortgage the process of foreclosing on an agricultural property is very different and difficult for lenders. Taking a farm away from a farmer means taking their livelihood away so there are many obstacles to this.
If you are buying a hobby farm, some lenders will object to you having more than two horses or even making money selling hay.

Water and Sewerage – if you are far from a city your water may come from a well and your sewerage may be in a septic tank. A good country realtor will recommend an inspection of the septic tank as a condition on the purchase offer. Be prepared for the inspection to cost more than it cost you in the city. Many lenders will also ask for a pot ability and flow test for the well. A house without water is very hard to sell.

Land – most lenders will mortgage a house, one outbuilding and up to 10 acres of land. Anything above this amount and it will not be considered in the mortgage. In other words, besides paying a minimum of 5% down payment you could end up having to pay out more cash to cover the second out building and the extra land being sold.

Appraisal – your appraisal will cost you more as the appraiser needs to travel farther to see the property. It may also come in low as rural properties do not turn over as quickly as city properties. Be prepared to have to come up with the difference between the selling price and the appraised value of the property.

Fire Insurance – living in the country can be nice but you are also far from fire hydrants and fire stations. Expect to pay more for home insurance.

Finally, if you are thinking about purchasing a home in a rural area, be sure to speak to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker before you do anything. They can often recommend a realtor who specializes in rural properties and knows the areas better than the #1 top producer in your city or town.