99 Year Mortgages and the Power of Amortization

Blog Posts David Cooke 13 Jun

Back in the late 80’s, the Japanese housing market came to a grinding halt. Homes were no longer affordable for your average Japanese consumer. The government came to the rescue with a novel idea: 99 year mortgages. You could buy a house, pay lower more affordable payments, your son or daughter would take over and pay the mortgage down and finally your grandchild at some time close to retirement age would finally pay off your mortgage.

Who would want to do this? This was a short term solution. In 2007, we had 40-year amortized mortgages which allowed a great number of people to buy homes who normally would have continued to rent. This created a housing boom, but it made the banks nervous and terms were cut back to 35 years, then 30 and finally back to where they were in 2005 at 25 years. While longer amortizations mean lower monthly payments, the flip side is that you end up paying a lot more interest over time.

Mortgage professionals use amortization as a tool to help their clients at various stages in their lives. Often we use the maximum 25 years to help people get into their first homes. The idea is to get them into home ownership regardless of the cost. Later when they renew we often suggest a shorter amortization if it’s possible.
For example, after paying down a mortgage for 5 years, a couple with a $300,000 mortgage renewing today would be offered a 20-year amortized mortgage with monthly payments of $1659. In 5 years the couple will have paid $40,356 in interest $59,214 in principal and have a balance of $240,785 left on the mortgage.
If the amortization was shortened to 17 years the payment would go up to $1,874.95, an increase of $215.95. but at the end of 5 years they would have paid  $39,365 in interest, $73,131 in principal and have a balance of $226,868.11. In addition, they would now only have 12 years instead of 13 years on their mortgage.

Now, if they are at a stage in life where their twins are going to be going to university or if they need to build a granny suite for aging parents, they may need to lower monthly payments in order to pay for renovations. If they have 20% equity in their home, they could extend their amortization to 30 or even 35 years with some lenders.
Now their monthly payment drops to $1,260 with a 30 year amortization.
And it drops to $1,149 with a 35 year amortization.

Amortization is only one tool that your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional can use to save you interest, help you to pay off your mortgage quicker or to lower your mortgage payments. Be sure to call and ask them for help.

6 ways to get a down payment

Blog Posts David Cooke 28 May

When is it time to think about saving for a down payment? I would say about a year before you think about buying a home. While that’s ideal in today’s world, we often do not have much time to save for a down payment. Sometimes your landlord is planning on retiring and wants to sell the property. How do you get a down payment?

Here’s a few ways to get a down payment for your home:

Save – it’s old fashioned but it works. Open a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and put a set amount into it. If you don’t have the discipline arrange for automatic deposits from your bank account. How much can you save $50 a week? That’s $2,600 in a year. Not enough. How about $200 a week?
Stay at the Mom & Dad Hotel – while your parents may not be able to help you with a down payment they often have a spare room that you can stay in. One year of not paying rent would make a good down payment even if you chip in for groceries.

Extra Income – get a second job and bank every cent from it. I know of many young people who have a day job and are servers on the weekends.

Home Buyer’s Plan – the federal government will allow you to pull up to $35,000 from your RRSP account. This goes for your partner. You could put down $70,000 between the two of you. These funds need to be returned to your RRSP over the next 15 years. This is a great quick source for a down payment.

Take out an RRSP Loan – borrow an amount that you need for a down payment as an RRSP. Hold the funds for 90 + 1 days and you can withdraw the funds. The cons are that you now have more debt and you have to wait for 90 days. Most sellers want a possession day sooner than that.

Sell an asset. I had a client sell his vintage Cadillac Fleetwood for a down payment. Be sure to get a receipt or to sign a bill of sale with the purchaser to show where the funds came from. Rare stamps or coins, another property or vehicle are all acceptable assets.

The Bank of Mom and Dad – This may be the easiest way to get a down payment or it may not. Most parents are nearing retirement and trying to save funds. There can be creative ways to get a down payment. They might set up a a secured line of credit and use the equity in their home. You could make the payments over the next few years. Note: these payments must be included in your debt ratios. If they decide to gift you the funds and make the payments themselves a gift letter is all that’s needed. They could sell their home and move into a granny suite in the basement or over the garage.

Before you start it’s always a good idea to speak to your favourite Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

3 things you may not know about cash-back mortgages

Blog Posts David Cooke 24 May

About twice a year, one of the big Canadian banks likes to run an advertising campaign for their cash back mortgages. These are mortgages usually with 5 year terms where you receive a certain percentage back in cash. The percentage varies from 1% to 5% in most cases. You can use these funds to build a fence, landscape, buy window coverings etc. The idea is to be able to pay for some things that you would not be able to as you put all your money into the down payment and closing costs and need some help to get started.

1- There are multiple lenders who have cash back mortgages. Don’t jump at the first one you see. They all have different terms and conditions.
2. You are really getting a loan on top of your mortgage. The interest rate is calculated so that by the end of the term you will have paid the lender back the money they gave you and a little bit extra. Sometimes this little bit extra may be twice as much as you got in cash back.
3 – The average cash back mortgage is a 5 year term. Most Canadians move every 30 months. Therefore when you break a cash back mortgage you have to pay a penalty as per usual but you also have to pay back a portion of the loan that they gave you. If you are 36 months into a 60 month mortgage, you have to pay them back 2 years’ worth or 40% of the cash back. Combined with the penalty this can be a hefty sum. In addition, there are some lenders who require you to pay back 100% of the cash back if you want to break the term.

Before signing for a cash back mortgage it’s better to discuss your needs with your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional. They can advise you on cash backs, line of credit, Purchase plus Improvements or Flex Down mortgages which may be better for your situation.

Going Long, 5 year + Mortgages

Blog Posts David Cooke 14 May

Recently, Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada stated that he felt that lenders and by offshoot, mortgage brokers, were not being creative in promoting mortgages for periods of longer than 5 years. He feels that the longer the term the less risk there is and people will be able to qualify for a renewal better after 10 years than after only 5 years.

Here’s what he does not realize. No one really wants a 10 year mortgage. Why? Because on average, Canadians move every 3 years. It may be within the same city or town but they move. Newly married couples buy starter homes. Three years later they often have one or two children and now they need more room. They move up to a bigger place. A few years down the road and they are making more money and they want an estate home. That’s the way Canadian’s lifestyles work.

I have been a broker since 2005. You know how many 10 year mortgages I have obtained for clients? One. No one is interested in that long a commitment. Back in 2006 when I arranged for my one and only 10 year mortgage, the couple wanted stability. Fair enough. They knew that with their government jobs they would not be moving for a long time. At the time, a 10 year commitment meant that the Interest Rate Differential was the most common form of getting out of these mortgages and they could be very expensive. A few years ago, the government mandated that after 5 years, the 3 month interest penalty would kick in for 10 year mortgages.

The thing is that most people find the Pros don’t out-weight the Cons on 10 year mortgages.

Let’see:

PROS – stability, Knowing that your mortgage payments will not go up for a decade while your income should go up making payments seem smaller over time. This would free up money for other things like vacations, investments and family expenses.

CONS – People move every 3 years on average and don’t want to go through the hassle of porting their mortgage or paying big bucks to break it. Many people also feel that rates are going to go lower and don’t want to lock in for such a long period of time. I checked rates and there are a number of lenders offering 10 year mortgages, the best rate at this time is 4.09%. The problem is that while that’s an amazing rate for a 10 year, most people see 5 year fixed and variable rates below 3% and they feel that over 4% is too much.

My suggestion is that if this interests you , speak to your Dominion Lending Centre mortgage professional and discuss your personal situation to see if this is an option that would benefit you.

5 Things NOT to do before closing on your new home

Blog Posts David Cooke 8 May

1. Change your job.  You were qualified for your mortgage financing based on your income, years at the job and the understanding that you were there for a while. Changing jobs should be put off until after possession day.
2 – Changing your name. Make sure that your identification and your name match. Do not change from John Smith to J. Michael Smith during this critical time.
3- Make any large purchases. Put off buying new furniture for your future home or a new car. The debt ratios were calculated based on your present debt obligations. It can also be bad to pay off any existing accounts. Some lenders want you to have some cash in the bank for a rainy day. They may have given you an approval with this in mind.

4- Switch banks or move money to a different institution. This may not sound like much but a paper trail to show your down payment source and the automatic withdrawal forms for your mortgage payments are all set up. You can change them after the house sale closes.
5 – Don’t miss any payments on credit cards or loans you already have. Lenders often pull another credit report a few days before closing. If you’ve missed a payment on your Visa card, it could mess up your home purchase big time.
Finally, check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional if you are unclear about anything between the time when you receive your approval and possession day.

The Family Plan Program Explained

Blog Posts David Cooke 25 Apr

Paper FamilyGenworth Canada, one of the three mortgage default insurers in Canada, offers a program called Family Plan. It provides you with a solution which only requires a 5% down payment to take advantage of its unique solutions to family problems.

In the past, I have used this with clients who want to purchase a home for their child or children who are going to a post-secondary educational institution in another city. Why pay high rent in residence or in a run-down over-priced rental property near the college when you can purchase a property? There are a number of advantages to owning the property your child is living in.

1- you control the maintenance and upkeep for the property ensuring a safe environment for your child.
2- You are allowed to purchase a property with 2 units – this allows you to collect rent and lower the total cost for you. You should be able to write off any renovations or improvements you make to the property- check with your accountant first.
3- when your child graduates you can sell the property for a profit , helping you to recover some of the costs for your child’s education.

Elderly Parents
If you want to find a safe and comfortable place for your parents to live, buying a property such as a condominium apartment or town home may be a solution for you. Often parents are retired on fixed income and can’t get a mortgage . Now you can help.

Providing a Home for an Adult Entrepreneur
So your adult child has decided to start their own business and they want a home. The problem is that you need to show 2 years of successful business financials to prove you can afford mortgage payments. This program allows parents to provide a home for their child right now. An exit strategy can be for them to take over the mortgage payments and then get the next mortgage term in their own name a few years down the road.
As you can see, Genworth’s Family Plan is a very useful program that can help out in a number of different situations. Let’s face it families are unique and we need programs like this to provide solutions to our problems and challenges. Be sure to call your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional for more information on how you can take advantage of this program.

What’s included in a home purchase agreement

Blog Posts David Cooke 16 Apr

While a home purchase agreement may seem simple and straight forward, there are many differences that you can encounter that can be a big surprise to first-time homebuyers. While you expect the date of possession and the full purchase price to be outlined in the agreement, there are items that you may not be aware should be included.

New builds vs existing homes

If you are buying a newly constructed home, there are quite a few differences between what you get in an existing home.
Legal fees – often home builders will include the legal fees in the purchase price. You should be aware that the law firm that will provide the service is the builder’s lawyer. Should a legal dispute develop, they will take the side of the builder and you will have to find your own independent legal counsel. In fact, if you can afford it, you should consider getting your own lawyer. The $1,200 savings could end up costing you more in the long run.
You should be aware that the show home that you have visited usually has numerous upgrades. I know that when I purchased my first new home I assumed that the bathroom rough-ins in the basement were standard, only to find out later that this was an upgrade. Retro fitting plumbing pipes is a costly venture.
You should also be aware that landscaping, fences and window coverings are not usually not included in the purchase price. Double check to see if the triple-pane windows on the show home are standard or an upgrade. Hardwood floors and basement development are usually an upgrade as well.

Existing homes

When you are buying an existing home, you will find that the window coverings, fences and landscaping are included in most cases. The window coverings should be included in the offer to purchase contract.
Something that may look like it’s supposed to be there but the seller may want to take with them is the hot tub and storage shed. Don’t assume that these items are included. The legal fees are never covered in an existing home sale.

Finally, from a mortgage standpoint, you should be aware that if you are purchasing an acreage or a large property with several outbuildings, your mortgage lender will cover the cost of the home plus one out building and up to three acres of land. If there’s a garage , barn and workshop usually the garage will be included in what the mortgage company will cover but not the smaller out buildings. Check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before you make an offer on a property like this.

We’re not just a mortgage company

Blog Posts David Cooke 2 Apr

Well, it finally happened. I was meeting with a financial advisor today and they looked at my business card and asked “Why does it say Dominion Lending Centres and not Dominion Mortgage Company?”

I have been waiting 7 years to hear this question. I had an answer all ready for today. I said “that’s because we are not just a mortgage company, we’re a lending company. This provided me with a segue into a conversation about how we do equipment leasing, factoring and cash advances.

I meet plenty of small business owners who are trying to build their business and also buy a home. In one case, the business owner had opened a machine shop. He bought $100,000 or more of equipment. As he did not have a long established business, lenders insisted that he put the loans in his own name. As a result, he had lots of business loans outstanding and was still showing little income. As he had incorporated, we were able to free up his credit by having DLC Leasing purchase the equipment and he leased it back. This provided a good tax break his accountant liked and it freed up his personal credit, which I liked.

Long story short , Dominion Lending Centres is a small/ medium business owners best friend.
We can help you get into a house where other companies see obstacles. If you are in a situation like this, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional and get some help.

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”.