Legalized Marijuana and the Canadian Housing Market

Blog Posts David Cooke 17 Oct

October 17th will be an important day in Canada’s social history. It’s the day when we are going to have legalized marijuana across the country. We will be the second major country in the world to do this. How does this affect mortgage brokers like myself? When someone comes to me to obtain financing for a home purchase and the sellers have disclosed that they smoked pot in the house or grew a few plants , how will this affect their home purchase?

A few years ago, someone disclosed that their home had been a grow-op six years previously and their home insurance company cancelled their policy citing safety issues. I could see this happening with both lenders and mortgage default insurers like CMHC, Genworth and Canada Guaranty. A recent article by a member of the Canadian Real Estate Association suggested that both lenders and insurers might ask for a complete home inspection. It was suggested that sellers who have grown a few plants might want to get a head of a problem and have an inspection before they list the property. If there are any issues of mold or electrical systems that are not up to code, they can remedy this and have a quick sale.

I contacted both CMHC and Genworth Canada to find out if any policy changes are in the works. CMHC told me that there’s nothing planned beyond what is already on the books. If there’s been a grow operation it needs to be inspected and remediation done before they will insure. Genworth says that nothing has been announced as of yet. Any changes will result in an official announcement to all brokers.
Mortgage brokers may want to call their realtor referral partners and discuss this with them to see if local real estate authorities have any changes planned. If nothing else it will be good to touch base with your realtors to find out how the market is in your area.

If you are thinking about smoking pot in your home or want to grow a few plants , contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional first to find out if this could affect your house value or sale in the future.

The Pros and Cons of Co-Signing for a Mortgage

Blog Posts David Cooke 2 Oct

If you keep up on the news you know that qualifying for a mortgage is getting tougher and tougher. Someone who would have sailed through the application process 10 years ago could find themselves declined for a mortgage today.
Often I find applicants can afford the monthly payments but they can’t prove that their income is stable. If they waited another 6 months to a year, they could but they would miss out on a great opportunity to buy a home now. Buyers who have recently switched jobs, receive overtime or get a portion of their income from tips are the people who need co-signers to make the deal work. A strong co-signer can be more persuasive to a lender than offering to put more money down.

I also have found that people with “thin” credit are being asked for co-signers. These are applicants who have one credit card but no car loans or other credit facilities showing on their credit bureau report. Often they are recent university graduates who recently started work.
Rick Bossom, an accredited mortgage professional with Bayfield Mortgage Professionals in Courtenay, British Columbia, says that it’s an alternative to lenders just turning the deal down in cases where the borrowers are just on the edge of qualifying.

“They’re close but they just need a little bit more and that’s why the co-signing thing would come up. It’s not like they’re really, really bad, they’re just not quite there.”

What does a co-signer do? Their job is to continue payments in the event that the main applicant(s) default on the mortgage. In essence, they are saying that if you skip out on the payments, they will take up the slack.
As a result, lenders want to have co-signers on the application just as if they would be living in the home and making the mortgage payments. If they have mortgage payments of their own, they have to show that they can financially afford to pay both mortgages and any other monthly obligations that they may have like car payments.

One thing that surprises primary applicants as well as their co-signers is the amount of information required from the co-signers. They will have to provide an employment letter, recent pay stub, a credit bureau report at a minimum. If they are self-employed company income documents will also be required.
It’s always best for the primary applicant to have a conversation with the co-signer or co-signers to inform them of this in advance. The co-signers should also be aware that this will tie up their credit for the term of the mortgage. If they are planning on buying a vacation home or making a large purchase, they may be declined based on their financial obligation to your mortgage.

However, there is one feature that banks don’t tell you about but your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional will tell you. There’s the ability to remove the co-signer from the mortgage after 12 months of successful on time mortgage payments. Co-signers don’t have to stay on the mortgage for the whole term.

Make sure that you mention that you are interested in taking your co-signer off the mortgage in a year and your mortgage broker can pick a lender who will allow this. It’s really nice to be able to remove your co-signer and thank them for their help without tying up their credit capacity for 5 years.

 

A CHIP Success Story

Blog Posts David Cooke 20 Sep

A few years ago, I met with my Home Equity Bank representative. He was trying to encourage me to go visit my financial adviser referral partners to offer the Chip Reverse Mortgage product. I explained that I did not know anyone who had a reverse mortgage so it was hard to promote to financial advisers or anyone.

I asked him to tell me a success story and he came back with a great one that ticked most of the boxes. A couple in their mid-70s had met with a financial adviser to go over their portfolio and financial situation. They wanted to sell some of their investments to get a little cash.

What the adviser saw troubled him. The couple had about $200 a month left over after they paid for their bills and groceries. What’s more , they were driving a 20-year-old car, their home needed repairs and they hadn’t been on a vacation in years. It was a classic case of house rich, cash poor.

The adviser contacted Home Equity Bank and they appraised the house. The couple were eligible for $200,000 based on the value of their home. They took this money and the adviser invested a little more than half in funds that would provide them with $1100 a month in income. They took $25,000 and bought a new car, did some repairs to their home and took a vacation. They took the balance and used it to help out their grandchildren with university with tuition. With one move, they were able to increase their cash flow, make their home more comfortable, do repairs, enjoy their retirement and help out family.

Now that it’s fall and the spring home-buying rush is over, perhaps it’s time for you Dominion Lending Centres mortgage brokers out there to see if you can help out another segment of the population. Contact your financial adviser partners, your certified Seniors Real Estate Specialists and past clients with elderly parents. There are a lot more people out there that could use your help.

Your mortgage broker is here to help

Blog Posts David Cooke 31 Aug

For many people in Canada, they are first-time home buyers. Or if they are new to Canada, it’s their first home purchase in a new country. They may not be aware of the rules and guidelines. It’s the job of your mortgage broker to make you aware of what is expected from you to avoid disappointment.

Mortgage Documentation
90-day bank statements – It’s important to make your clients aware that they need 90 days of bank statements to show they have saved the funds needed for the down payment and closing costs. Closing costs vary by province, so it’s important to let out-of-province buyers know exactly what the costs are in their new home. I like to explain that the 90-day statements is meant to prevent money laundering. A few years before this law was enacted, gangs would find an elderly couple and offer them the down payment funds asking only to be allowed to grow a few plants in the basement.

Some people are very private and don’t want you to know how much they spend on lottery tickets. They will blank out everything on the statement except for the down payment funds entering the account. This will not be accepted by lenders and is a big red flag for them.
Another problem that can arise with statements is if the clients print them online. As a security precaution, many banks allow printouts but they remove the name and/or account number from the statements. The easiest thing to do is to have them go into a branch and ask for a printout and have it stamped by a teller.

Employment Letters- Many small employers will give a hand written employment letter. This is acceptable but a letter written on company letterhead is better. The letter should state the name of the employee, their job title when they started with the firm, if they are full or part time and what their gross annual income is. If there’s an overtime or bonus component to their pay, this should be clearly explained and how much of their gross is straight salary.

After the Mortgage is approved
It is important for home buyers to know that while the mortgage has been approved they need to avoid doing anything to change their financial situation before possession day. That means they should not quit their job, buy lots of new furniture or a car. Lenders will often check the credit bureau a few days before possession day to see if there’s been any changes. If the debt ratios are out, the mortgage could go sideways. Taking a few minutes to explain this is prudent but it also shows you care. Dominion Lending Centres mortgage brokers are not big banks, we are people who live in the community and we want to see our clients in homes and living happy lives. It matters to us.

What happens when your credit card account is closed

Blog Posts David Cooke 29 Aug

I have been working in the mortgage industry since 2005. I have had all sorts of clients over the years. Every once in a while I get someone who has a car loan , a couple of credit cards but there’s a collection from a credit card, a dentist or some other creditor. When I ask why this has not been paid, I am told that they had a dispute with this firm and they are not going to be pushed around. The client doesn’t care if the account is sent to collection, they won’t pay it just on principle.

While I admire people who stick to their guns, they are on a slippery slope and things will not work out well for them. Sometimes they think that because the account is closed they don’t have to pay anymore. This is totally wrong.

CREDIT SCORES WILL DROP
As the creditor has reported your late or missing payment, your score goes down with the credit reporting agencies every month until you get to 120 days late or the creditor closes the account. However, they may send your account to a collection agency who will add their fees to the account and threaten or harass you. While you may not owe the money to your original creditor, they have sold the debt to someone else. You still owe your original amount and probably more with interest accruing every month.

Something that most people do not realize is that this refusal to pay an account means that you won’t get a mortgage or any new credit lines until the problem is resolved. The longer you hold out, the more likely that you will need to use a B lender for your next mortgage and car loan. I have seen car loans with 26% interest and mortgage with 16% interest over the years.
My advice is don’t ignore the problem. Get it resolved as soon as possible. I know that you want to stick to your guns but it’s going to end up costing you a lot of money. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker near you.

Toys and buying a home

Blog Posts David Cooke 23 Aug

In 2005, I was asked to do a pre-approval by a couple hoping to buy a home. I went through the application with them and pre-approved them for $320,000. They were astounded. They told me that their bank told them that they were qualified to a maximum of $260,000. They wanted to know how I could get them more money. I looked at their credit reports and quickly found the answer.

I pointed out to them that they both had $10,000 unsecured lines of credit. They said that the bank had offered this to them several years ago but they had not used them. The zero balances confirmed their story. What they didn’t know was according to the bank’s rules, they had to consider these lines of credit as being fully utilized. The bank considered them as each carrying $300 in monthly payments that did not exist. My lenders took a zero balance as being a zero balance and I was able to get them more money and more house.

Last year I had a young man who wanted to buy a new home. He was very surprised when I told him he couldn’t afford it according to the new stress test rules. The reason being, he had a $950 a month truck payment. The only solutions available were to sell the truck, or negotiate a new payment plan by stretching out the payments for another year.

The moral of the story is that it’s important to let clients know that other debts outside of their mortgage can affect how much house they can qualify for, and that buying a vehicle or new toys like a trailer or boat before going to see their local mortgage broker, can be a costly mistake. Your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can help you through the whole home buying process but you need to have them involved early in the process. Our job is to make people’s dreams come true and we do it a lot better than the banks.

Mortgage brokers have solutions

Blog Posts David Cooke 20 Aug

A lot of people are getting stressed out by Canada’s new mortgage stress test. In the past, if you had a good sized down payment (ie 20%) someone with a low income could purchase a home even if they did not meet the debt level guidelines for insured mortgages of 32/40 . Later this was changed to 35/44 which made life even easier but – no more.

What is a person with a low income, good credit and a good down payment supposed to do now?

Here’s a solution – get a roommate. If you purchase a home with a friend who is going to share the other bedroom of your condo or take over the basement, the rules do not allow you to include the rent. But there are plenty of homes out in the market with a legal basement suite, a duplex or perhaps a granny suite over the garage. As long as the income portion of your property is zoned for a rental portion, you can claim a portion of the rent as income and qualify for more house.

There are certain minimum guidelines for lenders  – they usually want a separate entrance, kitchen and washroom. They may ask for a separate hot water tank as well. Lenders will credit 50% -85% of the rent towards your annual income. Don’t worry , your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker knows the rules and can guide you through the process.  Calling us can get you into a home faster than you thought possible.

A tailor-made solution for some borrowers

Blog Posts David Cooke 10 Aug

Recently, two of my lenders came out with new products – Interest only mortgages. We have had these available from private lenders for many years but at much higher interest rates. They are useful for real estate investors and people who have consolidated debts and need six months to a year to get back on their feet. These new mortgages are not meant to be short term solutions but they are meant to be used for a minimum of two years and preferably for five years.
So who in their right mind would want a mortgage for five years where the principal doesn’t go down?

1- real estate investors- some investors are looking for cash flow; this is a perfect product for them. They want to keep monthly payments to a minimum so that they ca use the extra cash to buy other properties, or for income to live on. They will eventually sell the properties for a lot more cash when they are ready to retire.

2- Seasonal workers- Lobster fisherman, lumberjacks , oil patch workers and workers in the trades who have to go back to school every year for three years are the people who this product works for. During spring break-up when the oil patch closes for several weeks , the bills don’t stop coming. Working with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker you can design a mortgage to help you through the periods when there’s no income coming in. The best strategy for you may be to step up the mortgage as interest only and then have the broker calculate what a normal amortizing mortgage payment for you would be. During your period of no income, you pay the minimum payments and then when you get back to work, you bump your payment up to normal or even slightly higher to make up for the shortfall.

These interest only mortgages are available with a variable rate, a fixed rate , a variable interest only plus a fixed amortized rate or a combination of any of the above rates. This allows you and your broker to customize mortgage payments to make the best mortgage for your particular situation. It’s like a tailor-made suit. It’s exactly what you need. Contact your local DLC mortgage broker for more information .

5 Reasons why every realtor needs a mortgage broker at their open houses

Blog Posts David Cooke 23 Jul

Realtor Safety – While we do not have the safety issues that realtors experience south of the border, there have been incidents involving female realtors being assaulted or feeling uncomfortable being alone with strangers walking around the house.

Property Safety – Did you know that when a realtor is holding an open house they are liable for any losses or damage to the property? It’s pretty easy to have one person distract the agent upstairs while their partner runs off with the flat screen TV or the silverware. Another person in the property discourages theft and can make the realtor feel safer.

Snagging new clients – sometimes people show up at open houses without any preparation. They may like a home but they have no idea whether they could afford it. Enter the mortgage broker- by being on the premises you can quickly pre-approve these prospective buyers giving the realtor an opportunity for a quick sale and to double end the deal.

Third Party Feedback – sometimes visitors are reluctant to say anything negative about a property to a realtor but are more open with their financial partner. The realtor can benefit from both the mortgage broker’s opinion and anything that they hear from visitors.

Programs that can help sell a home – some municipalities offer subsidized down payments for first time home buyers, others offer tax incentives . If a prospective buyer comments on the worn carpeting or the lack of a garage, it’s a good time for the mortgage broker to mention Purchase Plus Improvements programs available. The realtor may be aware of the programs but unaware of the program rules. The realtor will be really happy to have a mortgage broker find a solution to one sales objection and help them sell the house.

 

5 Tips on how to get out of debt and into your own home

Blog Posts David Cooke 21 Jun

The Shocking Impact of Consumer Debt Payments and How To Overcome This Significant Home Ownership BarrierTo get out of debt, you need a plan and you need to execute that plan. That’s why I’ve created this simple, five-step, get-out-of-debt checklist that can help you leave that financial burden behind you.

As you work on your plan, you’ll need to make all necessary adjustments to your budget along the way so you don’t overspend and slide back into debt. Plus, if you don’t have an emergency fund, consider setting some money aside in savings beforehand.

Keep this checklist someplace where you’ll see it often (like your refrigerator door ), and make it your goal to check a task off the list each day (or each week), depending on how quickly you want to become debt-free.

1- Make a list
Take all your bills and put them in a chart that includes: the name of creditor, interest rate, balance, minimum monthly payment. Figure out how long it will take you to pay the balance down to zero. Many credit card statements now feature this.

2. Lower your rates
This is easier than you think. Call up each of your credit card companies starting with the ones with the highest interest rates and ASK them to lower your interest rate. You can tell them that other credit cards are offering lower rates and you wanted to let them keep your business. They won’t give you an answer on the phone but you should receive a letter with a new lower rate within a couple of weeks. Another possible solution is a balance transfer. Often a credit card company will allow you to transfer your balance from another card to theirs and they charge you 0% for 6 months. They assume that you will see zero being added and will spend more. Show them that you are disciplined and keep paying the balance down as if it was still at 19%. Consider getting a debt consolidation loan. If you have a home with equity you can often get a very good rate and clear up all your debts. Often you can get these loans at considerably less than your credit cards. Once again, keep your monthly payments up as if you were still paying a credit card of 19% interest and your balance will go down quickly.
Next contact your car loan company. If you have been paying your loan on time they may lower your rates. Now you are ready to tackle the utility companies. In Alberta the gas/electric companies really want your business. You can often get a better rate just by threatening to switch. This also works with cellphone companies. They often have better plans than the one you are on but will only offer it when you say you are going to leave.

3. Get your Number
What is the amount you need to pay off all your debts? Now that you have a number in mind you can set a goal. Can you pay this off in six months? 12 months? two years?
Get your credit score number. How much does it have to improve before you can qualify to buy a house? Check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker for help getting this.

4. Make a plan
What will be your target debt? Is it the credit card balance with the highest interest rate? The lowest balance? Set a short term goal to pay one card off in a manageable amount of time. One down and three to go sounds better than tackling all the debt at once. Pay each debt off one by one. Does your community library offer debt counselling financing planning courses? Consider signing up for one.

5 – Monitor your progress
How quickly are the debts coming down? Is your credit score going up? It should if the debts are coming down.
Do you have to adjust your plan to make your deadlines? Don’t be discouraged. Large companies make plans and set budgets and then adjust them quarterly based on how the previous three months performance was.
Stick with your plan and if you show some self-discipline you can achieve your goals in time. Finally, tell your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker what your goal is and what your timeline is. They will be happy to help you along the way. Nothing makes them happier than to tell people like you that they are approved for home financing.