A bank that may not be familiar to you

Blog Posts David Cooke 27 Mar

Quiz time! Who is the largest non-bank mortgage originator in Canada with over $100 billion dollars in mortgages under administration? Answer – First National Financial Corporation. If you’ve never heard of them before, don’t feel bad. The only way to get a First National mortgage is through the broker channel. They do not have any branches anywhere in Canada. How did First National become #1?
Service – First National are fast. They will accept your application, underwrite it and if approved you will get a response within 4 hours. The industry average is 24 hours. Mortgage brokers use First National for clients who have very good credit salaried income and need an approval or pre-approval quickly.

Another nice feature of First National is that they will provide pre-approvals. Many lenders do not want to spend the time and money to provide these but First Nat have always provided pre-approval that are underwritten. What this means is that an underwriter has reviewed your application and if everything in it is straight forward they foresee no problems with an approval for the specified amount of money.

Additionally, if the home you are purchasing is 5 years old or older, a First National mortgage may be for you. They offer Echelon Home System Warranty Program. This is a warranty on your electrical, heating and cooling systems as well as your plumbing. Most hot water tanks have a 6 year warranty. After that it can cost you $20 a month for a warranty program with your utility company. Echelon is free for the first 12 months and then it costs you only $17 a month. Any calls you make for repair work have a $50 call fee but everything else is covered by the warranty. Imagine your hot water tank breaking down on Sunday afternoon. In addition to paying a service call fee of probably $100 you would be paying time and a half for weekends. The tank alone could be $800+. It’s worth it.

Finally, First National introduced something new in fall 2018, a second mortgage. If you have a need for funds for renovations or something else substantial and you are part way through your First National mortgage term you can now obtain a second mortgage. No need to break your mortgage and incur penalties. When your first mortgage term ends, the second mortgage is rolled over into your first mortgage so you don’t have two different expiration dates for your mortgage. This is unheard of for a non-bank to do.
Remember, you can only get First National through the broker channel. Be sure to ask your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional if this would be a good mortgage for you.

When Death Strikes Suddenly

Blog Posts David Cooke 20 Mar

Recently I was finishing up a mortgage with a young couple who had just had a beautiful baby girl. I brought up the topic of mortgage and life insurance as well as getting a will written up. The response from the husband was that it was such a morbid topic and a real downer when they were excited about their new home.

The fact is that people, even young people die from car accidents, cancer, and even accidental drownings while on vacation. It’s a topic everyone avoids but it needs to be addressed, particularly when you are taking a major financial step like buying a home. What would happen to your spouse if you died suddenly with your mortgage not paid off?

I spoke to a major Canadian mortgage company about this topic.
I asked if the surviving spouse would be kicked out of the house. “ When someone dies who was on our mortgage we want to know right away . We ask for a copy of the death certificate so that we can take them off title. We will let the mortgage run it’s term if payments are being made on time. Many surviving spouses receive a life insurance policy and can pay off the mortgage or at least keep up the payments. We will renew the mortgage if payments are up to date. However, should the surviving spouse want to refinance the mortgage they would have to re-qualify for it.”

So what can you do to make life easier for your family should you die with a mortgage on your home? The easiest option is to have sufficient life insurance to ensure that they can keep up payments or to pay off the mortgage. Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professionals all offer MPP (Mortgage Protection Plan), a life insurance policy that pays off the mortgage in full in case of the death of the policy holder. The payments never go up because the mortgage balance is going down as the insured person gets older.

Another option is term insurance or whole life insurance. Speak to your favourite insurance broker about this.
Finally, if the surviving spouse is 55 or older, and they can’t afford to maintain the mortgage, a reverse mortgage may be the solution. No payments are made on the principal unless you decide you want to. When the widow(er) moves out the sale of the home pays off the mortgage and interest.

While it can be a “downer” to talk about death and disability, a responsible home purchaser needs to have the conversation with their Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional at the time of their purchase, refinance or renewal. The sudden death of a family member causes enough grief for the survivors, why add to their misery. As the old commercial used to say “Why wait for spring, do it now”.

March is Fraud Prevention Month

Blog Posts David Cooke 19 Mar

You may have seen advertisements warning you to be aware of phishing schemes and other scams. In the past week, I have received fraudulent emails claiming to be Shaw Cable, RBC and even the FBI. These are easy to spot because of mistakes in the letterhead, spelling mistakes and formal language that would fit in well in the 19th century. What is not as well-known is mortgage fraud. Fraudulent mortgages cost lenders every year. These losses result in higher costs and interest rates for consumers – so fraud ends up costing all of us money. What types of fraud should you be aware of?

Fraud for Shelter  – this is when an applicant gives false information concerning their income or job status in order to obtain a mortgage to buy a home. While they may plan on paying off the mortgage in full this is still fraud. Another form of fraud is when you sign a declaration at the lawyer’s office saying that you will be living in the property when you have no intention of living there.
Fraud for Profit – a friend says they know someone who needs to buy a house now but their credit won’t be satisfactory for another 3 or 4 months. They ask you to say you are the buyer and provide your credit history in exchange for $5,000 for your trouble. The problem for you the “straw buyer” is when they flip the home and run off with the profits leaving you on the hook for a mortgage and having to deal with legal authorities as well.
Foreclosure Fraud – a fraudster approaches a homeowner who is in financial trouble with a debt-consolidation scheme that involves the owner paying an upfront fee and signing over title to the home to the fraudster.
• the home owner receives cash from the fraudster to address immediate bills and remains in the home paying “rent” or “consolidated debt payments” to the fraudster
• the fraudster pockets all of the owner’s payments and ignores bills and taxes, which leads to debt-collection procedures against the owner
• the fraudster may re-mortgage or sell the property to an accomplice, leaving the owner without the property title, homeless and still in debt

Title Fraud – This is when someone forges your identity and either sells your property or takes out a mortgage on the property. Buying title insurance for a home under $500,000 can cost you between $50 and $175 and covers any legal fees you have to pay to regain your property.

If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker near you.

Brokers make a Difference

Blog Posts David Cooke 5 Mar

While many people will go to their bank to obtain a mortgage or line of credit, they often feel betrayed by their favourite bank if their application is rejected. One big advantage that we have over banks is that we can send underwriter notes along with the application. Our questions and speaking at length with the borrower give us insight that the underwriter will never get from the facts and figures on the application.
A while ago, I had an application at a lender for a young man who wanted to buy his first home.

He worked in the construction trades and his income history was up and down over the past 3 years. He needed overtime to support his application and the two year average wasn’t there.

I went back with 3 years of Notices of Assessments, his recent pay stubs and pleaded the case for my client. The underwriter finally asked for an exception based on my confidence in the client. She trusted my judgement and the mortgage was approved.
This leads me to the idea that underwriter notes are very important and can mean the difference between an approval and a decline. If you have a chance, ask your underwriter how they like their notes; in point form or in paragraphs. Do they prefer emails or phone calls?

When a successful mortgage broker writes notes they start by stating what product they are asking for and giving their contact information. I put my contact info at the top of the notes and at the bottom so they don’t have to go searching for it if they have a question or need clarification. I then state what my client is trying to do; purchase their first home, refinance, a renewal or if it’s’ a switch, that they want to benefit from lower interest rates.
I then list the areas I want to highlight: Income, credit, property, down payment and start with their weakest link first and explain their situation. I had a client who had her down payment in a joint account with her father in Japan. I started with that knowing that a paper trail would be important. If the credit score is low, is it due to a past illness, divorce or job loss? I tell the underwriter right away. As a result, underwriters trust me and have given my clients a second look or asked for an exception. Finally, I finish up by summarizing the strong points in the file and thanking them for their consideration of my file.

I never yell or give my underwriters a blast if they decline a file. I will, however, ask why the file was declined so that I can better prepare my client for the disappointment and plan on how we can remedy the situation. Just as a FYI, a manager at a major bank told me that at one bank he worked for after hitting the send key he received a simple message back – either APPROVED or DECLINED with no explanation. Now who do you think mortgage clients should deal with? A bank or a broker?