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?

JIDD Happens

Blog Posts David Cooke 27 Feb

You may have heard people say “s@@t happens. In the mortgage broker world, JIDD happens. These are unexpected events that can turn a happy homeowners’ life upside down. JIDD consists of:

Job Loss – often unexpected and with no time to save for emergencies, things get ugly pretty quick. E.I. payments can run out leaving you with the option of buying food for the family or paying your mortgage.

Illness – Cancer treatments can be so hard on a person that even if it’s only a 5 minute radiation treatment, you are left feeling unable to work for the rest of the day. Short term disability plans usually top out a 75 per cent of your average salary. However, when you’re ill, your bills don’t drop by 25 per cent. In fact, they often increase due to extra medication, medical equipment rentals etc.

Death – one of the borrowers dies leaving the other person to pay out the mortgage by themselves on one income.

Divorce – once again one income where there were two and often expensive legal fees and bills that get forgotten in a tangle of emotions and a spouse moving out.
While you can find a job again or get over an illness, often there’s a period of time when you need to catch up on your bills and this is when people fall behind in their mortgage payments.

What should you do if you are in one of these situations?
Call all your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional and tell them what has happened. Let them know as soon as possible. They will look up your mortgage and let you know who the lender is and who your mortgage was insured with. They can guide you through the process of contacting the lender and insurer to see how they can help you out.
What can CMHC, Genworth or Canada Guaranty do for you? Depending on your circumstances they will allow you a forbearance which is a temporary mortgage payment deferral. They also may change your mortgage amortization lengthening it to lower your payments. They may also take your missed payments and just tack them on to your mortgage balance without a penalty. All these options are available but you have to contact your mortgage professional in order to get the ball rolling. JIDD happens but you’re not alone.

Tax Rebates for Homeowners

Blog Posts David Cooke 20 Feb

It’s getting to be that time of year when we are collecting our tax receipts to file taxes and hopefully get a nice cheque back from CRA.

1st time homebuyer’s Tax Credit
If you purchases a home in 2018 don’t forget to apply for the $5,000 tax credit. This could result in up to $750 in cash back in your pocket. In order to qualify you must have purchased a home in 2018. It must be registered in your name or your spouse’s. You and your spouse can not have owned a home in the previous four years. What that means is if you owned a home 5 or 6 years ago you would qualify as a first time homebuyer because of the amount of time you had been renting and not a homeowner. Homes include mobile homes, modular and floating homes.

GST/HST New Housing Rebate
This rebate is for people who built a home during 2018 and they can apply for a tax rebate. However, they can also qualify if they owned a home and did major renovations such as adding an addition to a home.
Granny Suites – you may also qualify for this rebate if you converted a non-residential building into a residential property. That means that if you turned your garage or barn into a granny suite for you or a family member you can claim the rebate.
Co-op Shares – if you purchased shares in a housing co-op for you or a relation to live in as your primary residence , the rebate can also be claimed.

Land Transfer Tax Rebate
If you live in Ontario, B.C. or PEI you also may qualify for a fist time homebuyers rebate on the land transfer tax and for the city of Toronto you can apply for a $3,725 municipal land transfer tax rebate. Put it all together and there’s a lot of money available for first time homebuyers if they know they qualify. Be sure to check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional to see if you do qualify.

3 Reasons why your Realtor would like you to have a garage

Blog Posts David Cooke 15 Feb

Your realtor will be happy to list your property and sell it for you. However, if you have a garage, they will be much happier. Why?

Here’s the reasons why realtors prefer to sell homes with garages:

1 – Homes with a garage, attached or detached sell faster and for more money, usually $20-30,000 more.

2 – Curb appeal – a house with a garage looks cleaner and neater than a house with a driveway or parking pad. Once again, it’s easier to sell.

3 – Clutter storage – If you’ve lived in your house for 20-plus years you probably have a little too much stuff. Putting one piece of furniture in the garage from each of the main rooms makes the house look more spacious and – it’s easier to sell.
If there are several homes like yours for sale and none of them have a garage, here’s an idea. Instead of lowering the asking price on the house by $20,000, ask your realtor if building a new garage would help sell the property. Depending on city permits and your local renovation market, you could build a garage in two weeks and sell your house quickly.
Speak to your favourite Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional about a Refinance plus Improvements mortgage to get that garage built.

7 Reasons Why You Need a Garage

Blog Posts David Cooke 13 Feb

Besides the obvious advantage of not having to go lug your groceries into the house in the rain, sleet or snow, there are a number of less obvious but important reasons to consider buying a home with a garage or building it sooner rather than later.
2- I just had $3,200 worth of hail damage repair done to my car from leaving it out in the driveway for 5 minutes one day. A garage protects your car from damage due to falling branches, flying debris like garbage can lids, drones and other hazards. The average vehicle price in Canada is now $38,000. Don’t you want to protect your investment?
3- Your car is more comfortable to enter as a garage keeps the car from reaching high temperatures or bitterly cold ones. In fact, cars warm up faster in the winter when they are in a garage.
4- Your car will last longer and look nicer longer. In addition to flying debris, UV rays can crack the vinyl on your dashboard, dry and crack leather upholstery, and by having engine oil and coolant warmer prevents internal damage to your engine.
5- Insurance companies love garages. Besides keeping your car safe, they prevent falls from ice and you drive off with better visibility for driving. You will save on car insurance as a result.
6- As your car isn’t as hot in the summer or as cool in the winter, you will save on gas by not having to use the A/C or heating as much.
7. Curb appeal – realtors say that a house with no cars in the driveway look larger and cleaner than listings with vehicles. You can sell your home faster and for more money with a garage. A house with a parking pad in back just does not look as nice as one with a garage.
If you want a garage at the home you are considering purchasing, you can add this to your mortgage as a Purchase Plus Improvements mortgage. If you already own a home and want a garage, ask your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional about Refinance Plus Improvements. With all these reasons for having a garage, why not get one now?

A New Year and a New Opportunity for You

Blog Posts David Cooke 24 Jan

If you have been reading the news lately, you will know that the new stricter mortgage rules have resulted in more people than ever postponing purchasing homes. Sales have dropped across the country.

As a result of these events, the rental market is booming with rents going up everywhere. The average rent in Toronto now is $2300. This has created an opportunity for Canadians who want to buy a home and for those who already own but are concerned about qualifying when their present mortgage comes up for renewal.

Secondary suites are being encouraged in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. In Calgary, the city council has investigated basement suites and now wants to encourage higher density to prevent urban sprawl by allowing more other housing options like carriage homes. Carriage homes are suites built above or beside a detached garage. There are companies like Calgary Carriage Homes who specialize in building these units.

Being able to add the rental income from a suite to your income may allow you to purchase a home this year when prices are depressed rather than waiting another year or two or longer to get into your own home. You can either buy a home with a secondary suite already in place or build one. The program for building a suite is called Purchase Plus Improvements. It is available through multiple lenders and mortgage insurers.
If you are presently a homeowner and interested in increasing your income, the program you need is called Refinance Plus Improvements. The rules for these programs can be explained to you by your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker.

The rules on zoning, and building suites can be found on your city government website. If you decide you want to proceed be sure to make your first call to your DLC mortgage broker.

5 Reasons why Realtors want you to have a Pre-approval

Blog Posts David Cooke 18 Jan

You’ve decided that you want to buy a home and you call up a realtor to show you a listing and the first question they ask is “ How much are you pre-approved for?” Many realtors will refuse to book home viewings until they can confirm that you are pre-approved. Why?

1- It shows that you are seriously committed to a home purchase. I have been told stories by realtors of people booking a series of homes to see and then being dropped off at McDonald’s to be picked up by another realtor to see some more homes.

2.- People have an idea of how much home they can afford. Sometimes this amount is way off. Lines of credit, installment plans, alimony or child support payments or high condo fees can make the amount of house you can afford a lot less than you would expect.

3- Surprises on your credit report. Many times home buyers haven’t checked their credit report before house hunting. An unpaid bill or a dispute with a contractor may result in a lien or collection showing on your credit. There may even be something from a person with a similar name. It’s important to make sure your credit is clean and that it is yours and not someone else’s.

4 –Income issues. A lot of people run out to get a new home when they receive a promotion at work. If the promotion includes a pay hike, is it salary or are they relying on overtime? Mortgage rules demand a two-year history for commission income, overtime or self-employed income. This also can curtail how much you qualify for.

5A – Credibility of the realtor.  When a realtor makes an offer on a home for you, they are not only investing their time and the listing agent’s time but their reputation. Making offers that will not result in a firm sale hurts their reputation in the industry. Trustworthiness and reputation are very important to realtors as they are guiding you in the largest purchase you make in your lifetime.

5B- Negotiating Strength.  In a situation where there are competing offers on a property, the sellers agent will encourage the sells to take the offer that is backed by a pre-approval over another offer that does not have a pre-approval to support it. Your chances of getting your dream home are greatly increased with it.

My one recommendation is that you take the time to contact your favourite Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker and get pre-approved. It will save everyone time and help avoid disappointment for everyone.

3 Things for every Homeowner to do in January

Blog Posts David Cooke 11 Jan

As we enter the New Year, there are a few things that we should all think about as homeowners.

1 – Replace your furnace air filter – if you read over the instructions for your furnace you will know that you are supposed to either clean or replace your furnace filter. We are three months into the heating season so a replacement now will last you until spring.

2 – Put a copy of your last pay stub for last year with your house papers & keep an eye out for your annual mortgage statement – put this statement in with your house papers along with your last pay stub.

3 – Check all your credit card balances before they are due – as the holiday season has just ended , you may have spent more money than you have in your bank account. If there’s a shortfall between what you can pay and what you owe you will now be stuck with a credit card balance with an interest rate of 19-25%.
There’s a solution. If you have enough equity in your home, you can apply through your mortgage broker for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This is a readvanceable account and should have an interest rate of closer to 4% . Remember you still owe this money but it’s a lot easier to pay off a balance when the interest compounds at 4% rather than 25%.
Contact your favourite DLC mortgage broker and ask them if you qualify for this money saving option. The first thing that your broker will ask you is for a mortgage statement and your last pay stub from last year which you will have easily at hand. Now there are just a few more steps and you are on the way to getting your holiday debts into a manageable situation . Dominion Lending Centres providing solutions to Canadians.

4 Reasons why Mortgage Brokers are Better than Banks

Blog Posts David Cooke 23 Nov

I am often asked if it’s hard to compete with the banks. While they may offer competitive rates at times, right now we have much better rates than the banks. However, we have certain advantages which allow us to blow them out of the water most of the time.

  1. More Choice – banks are limited to around 5 products that they can offer you. They will try to fit you into one of their products even if the financial institution next door has a better one for you. Brokers have access to banks, credit unions, trust and mortgage companies as well as private lenders.
  2. Better Representation – Brokers are your champions bankers are employees. They put their employer first . They won’t offer you the best rates unless you are a good negotiator. Brokers are licenced by provincial organizations and have to follow a code of ethics which requires that we put the consumer first. We also negotiate the best rate, terms and conditions for you. If you need to break the mortgage before the end of the term, we can assist you with that and perhaps help you to avoid paying a penalty.
  3. More Benefits – If you are moving into a home that is more than one year old, you probably do not have a home warranty. Brokers have 3 lenders who offer home warranties, which can cover repairs to the plumbing, heating and electrical systems with a small deductible. Two of the lenders even offer this as a complimentary service for the first year while the third lender offers it for the length of the mortgage. As Dominion Lending Centre brokers, we also have discounted rates for moving services and boxes from a large national moving company .
  4. Better Protection – I saved the best for last. We offer portable mortgage life and disability insurance.

It may not sound like much but we have the same coverage as the banks offer with one important difference – portability. While we take care to place you with a good lender, circumstances change and lenders may not offer favourable terms on renewal. If you try to leave a bank after developing a condition like high blood pressure or having a heart attack, you will have to re-apply for insurance coverage and may be denied. There are hundreds if not thousands of unhappy bank clients who are stuck paying high interest rates because they are forced to stay with a lender. Broker insurance gives you the independence to move from lender to lender depending on who is willing to offer you the best rates and terms. This may not sound like much to you now but it’s a real game changer for anyone who knows someone who have had this happen to them.

Is it difficult to compete with the banks? No – we have them beat hands down.