29 Jul

Tips to Create a Monthly Budget.

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

One of the quickest ways to take back control of your finances and understand where your money is going is to create a monthly budget. This will help you get a snapshot of your income compared to your spending, and provides an avenue to review outgoing costs and determine areas for improvement to help you increase your monthly cashflow or just feel less stressed!

Step 1: Calculate Your Income

The very first step to creating any budget is determining your income – knowing exactly how much money do you bring in, per month, is important to understanding what you have available to spend. Remember to focus on NET INCOME versus gross salary as thinking you take home more than you do can lead to overspending and failed budgets.

Step 2: Track Your Spending

Once you have determined your income, you will want to take a look at your spending. Reviewing and categorizing all your monthly bills can help you breakdown exactly where your money goes and your priorities to see where changes can be made.

To start, first list out your fixed expenses – these are things like car payments, loans, rent or mortgage costs that do not change on a monthly basis.

Next, you will want to take a look at your variable expenses – things like groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. and determine your average spend. This is typically the area where people are able to cut back.

Step 3: Set Realistic Goals

Realistic goals are vital for long-lasting financial health. It is important to determine what you cannot live without and where you can cut costs or scale back on spending.

Ideally, when it comes to your monthly budget, you want to consider the 50/30/20 rule, which applies the following:

  • 50% of your spending is for NEEDS such as rent or mortgage payments, car payments, utilities and groceries
  • 30% of your income goes to WANTS such as shopping, vacations, streaming services, etc.
  • 20% of your income goes to SAVINGS OR DEBT such as emergency funds, retirement, child’s education and/or credit card payments

Step 4: Make a Plan

Once you have your goals set, you can now make a plan to tackle your financial position and ensure a healthy cashflow each month.

There are a few different ways you can plan to handle your monthly budget. For some, setting realistic spending limits for each category works well. For others, taking a look at the importance of the items on their expenses list and re-prioritizing can free up funds.

Step 5: Adjust Your Spending

Now that you have determined how much money you bring in per month and what you spend it on, you can take a look at adjusting your spending to ensure you remain on budget. Taking a look at any wants is a great place to cut out frivolous spending beyond a reasonable amount.

This is also a great time to review your fixed expenses. Perhaps you can save money by getting a better interest rate on your mortgage or changing your payment schedule for your loan.

Be sure to connect with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage expert before making any changes!

Step 6: Stay on Track

Lastly, once you’ve tracked all your spending and income and determined your monthly budget, you will want to stay on track. Tracking your budget on a monthly basis is important to catch any changes in your spending habits. As well, it is a good idea to conduct an annual review and take into account any increase in expenses or wages that may require shifts in your overall plan.

Remember! A healthy, well thought-out budget is key to financial freedom and comfort.

26 Jan

First-Time Home Buyer.

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

Being on the path to purchasing your first home is one of the most exciting and most rewarding moments in life! While people don’t always dream of the perfect mortgage, we do grow up thinking of a white picket fence and our dream home. Even if you imagined your dream home as a 6-bedroom mansion, we all have to start somewhere!

Regardless of whether you’re buying an apartment, townhouse, rancher or two-story family house, there is nothing quite like your first home. Not only is it an amazing accomplishment and a great sense of freedom and security, but buying your first home is also a great step into the real estate market and can provide you equity and a leg-up towards future expansion.

are you ready to own a home?

Before you jump on in, there are some things you should ask yourself. As amazing as it is to be a first-time home buyer, it is important to remember that this is likely the largest financial decision you will ever make. There are a few questions you can ask yourself to make sure you’re ready to take this incredible leap!

  1. Are you financially stable?
  2. Do you have the financial management skills and discipline to handle this large of a purchase?
  3. Are you ready to devote the time to regular home maintenance?
  4. Are you aware of all the costs and responsibilities that come with being a homeowner? Let’s find out!

COSTS OF HOME OWNERSHIP:

There are two major costs of home ownership – let’s make sure you’re ready to take it on!

Upfront Costs: The initial amount of money you need to buy a home, including down payment, closing costs and any applicable taxes.

Ongoing Costs: The continued cost of living in a home you own, including mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utility bills, condominium fees (if applicable) and routine repairs and maintenance. It is also important to keep in mind potential major repairs, such as roof replacement or foundation repair, that may be needed now or in the future. In addition, if you choose a property that is not hooked up to municipal services (such as water or sewer) there may be additional maintenance costs to consider.

buying your first home

If you’ve decided to take the plunge, you now need to start by figuring out what you can afford. Fortunately, there are all kinds of calculators and tools available. A great place to start is the free My Mortgage Toolbox app which can help you find a mortgage broker in your area. A mortgage broker is a great alternative to traditional banks and can help you find the best rate in the market, as well as save you time by doing the leg work for you!

Regardless of whether you choose a mortgage broker or traditional bank, the first step begins with your down payment.

SECURING YOUR DOWN PAYMENT

If you are ready to get your first mortgage, you will need a down payment. The minimum down payment on any mortgage in Canada is 5 percent but putting down more is beneficial whenever possible as it will lower the amount being borrowed. However, if you can only afford the minimum that is perfectly okay! Just remember, if you are putting down less than 20 per cent to purchase your home, default insurance will be mandatory to protect the investment.

Ideally, individuals looking to purchase their first home will have built up a nest egg of savings that they can apply towards a down payment. However, we know this is not possible for everyone so if you don’t have it all saved, don’t worry! Besides being a vital savings plan for retirement, RRSPs can be a great resource for first-time home buyers and can be cashed in up to $25,000 individually towards a down payment. In fact, most mortgage brokers will tell you nearly half of all first-time buyers use their RRSPs to help with the payment. Those first buyers who choose this option will have 15 years to pay it back and can defer these payments for up to two years if necessary. Always remember though, deferring a payment can increase the time to pay off the loan and you will still owe the full amount!

Another option for securing your down payment is a gift from a family member, typically a parent. All that is required for this is a signed Gift Letter from the parent (or family member providing the funds) which states that the money does not have to be repaid and a snapshot showing that the gifted funds have been transferred.

MORTGAGE PRE-QUALIFICATION

The first step to realizing the dream of owning your first home is pre-qualification. This process provides you with an estimate of how much you can afford based on your own report of your financial situation. The benefit of this is that it sets the baseline for a realistic price range and allows you to start looking for that perfect home within your means! Now this process is not a mortgage approval, or even a pre-approval but it helps to establish your budget. You must supply an overview of your financial history (income, assets, debt and credit score) but the real requirements come with the pre-approval process where you submit your actual documentation.

MORTGAGE PRE-APPROVAL

This is the meat of the pre-purchase process and determines the actual home price you can afford. The difference between this and pre-qualification is that pre-approval requires submission and verification of your financial history to ensure the most accurate budget to fit your needs.

Pre-Approval can help determine:

  • The maximum amount you can afford to spend
  • The monthly mortgage payment associated with your purchase price range
  • The mortgage rate for your first term

Not only does getting pre-approved make the search easier for you, but helps your real estate agent find the best home in your price range. Temptation will always be to start looking at the very top of your budget, but it is important to remember that there will be fees, such as mandatory closing costs, which can range from 1 to 4% of the purchase price. Factoring these into your maximum budget can help you narrow down a home that is entirely affordable and ensure future financial stability and security.

While getting pre-approved doesn’t commit you to a single lender, but it does guarantee the rate offered to you will be locked in from 90 to 120 days which helps if interest rates rise while you are still shopping. If interest rates actually decrease, you would still be offered the lower rate. Another benefit to pre-approval is that, when it comes time to purchase, pre-approval lets the seller know that securing financing should not be an issue. This is extremely beneficial in competitive markets where lots of offers may be coming in.

PROTECTING YOUR PRE-APPROVAL

  • Refrain from having additional credit reports pulled once you have been pre-approved
  • Refrain from applying for new credit, closing off credit accounts or making large purchases until after the sale is complete
  • Be prepared to show a papertrail – any unusual deposits in your bank account may require explanation. Also if your down payment comes from savings, the bank will want 90 days of statements to ensure the funds are accounted for.

FINANCING APPROVAL

You’re almost there! Financial approval is the last step to getting your mortgage and buying your first home! You will need to keep in mind that just because you are pre-approved, it doesn’t guarantee that the final mortgage application is approved. Being entirely candid with your home-buying team throughout the process will be vital as hidden debt or buying a big ticket item during your 90-120 day pre-approval can change the amount you are able to borrow. It is best to refrain from any major purchases (such as a new car) or life changes (such as changing jobs) until after closing and you have the keys to your new home!

In some cases, pre-approval may not be guaranteed for reasons outside of your control. For instance, if the home was appraised below the purchase price, is a heritage home or has safety issues like asbestos, the lender may deny financing. Find a realtor that will be your advocate while showing you homes and always utilize an appraisal and inspection from foundation to roof to ensure that you do not encounter any hidden roadblocks!

CLOSING DAY

Phew, you made it. Closing day is one of the most exciting moments where all the house hunting and paperwork really pays off! It is on this day that you will want to make use of your lawyer or a notary.

To complete the process of closing the sale, your lender gives your lawyer the mortgage money. You would then pay out the down payment (minus the deposit) and the closing costs (typically 1 to 4% of the purchase price). From there, the lawyer or notary then pays the seller, registers the home in your name and gives you the deed and the keys!

Congratulations, you are now a home owner!!

10 Jan

Find Your Perfect Home Type.

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

When it comes to finding your perfect home, there are so many more options for potential homeowners! From a single-family dwelling to a townhouse to a modular home, the choices are seemingly endless. But, before you start widening your search, let’s take a look at what makes these home types different – and which one is perfect for you!

Not surprisingly, almost half (53.6%) of Canadian households occupy the classic single-family detached house. In a distant second are condominiums with over a quarter of homeowners (27.9%) opting for this type of home (especially in metropolitan areas such as Toronto and Vancouver). Next come duplexes at 5.6%. The remaining homeowner choices are other housing options, such as semi-detached houses, mobile or modular homes and other single-attached dwellings such as urban infill homes, which come in at 12.9%.

So, which of these options is right for you!? Let’s take a look starting with the most popular option.

Single-family detached

This is a single-family, stand-alone house that sits on its own lot and is the most common type of home you will find. As these are detached dwellings, they provide more privacy with less noise from neighbors. They also tend to be larger dwellings (complete with a yard!) which gives you the space and freedom to really make it your own. Due to the popularity of these homes, there is often high demand in them which can drive up selling prices. In some cases, this can lead to bidding wars and houses that sell for well over the asking price.

Single-family, Semi-detached

These homes are suitable for a single family and are typically attached to another house on one side. When compared to single-family detached homes, their semi-detached cousins are often more affordable to both buy and maintain. With this affordability does come somewhat less privacy and protection from noise due to the shared walls on one side. However, these homes typically have separate entrances and retain most of the privacy of a fully detached home.

Duplex

These are considered structures with two single-family units on separate levels. These are great options for individuals looking to reduce home purchase and carrying costs – live in one unit, rent the second! This type of home also provides unique flexibility for older families, giving you the option to move adult children or aging parents into the second unit as needed.

As expected, these units offer less privacy than a single-family detached home and can sometimes have increased noise through the floor or ceiling.

Townhouse or Row house

Another popular home option are townhouses or ‘row houses’ as these are a row of single-family homes, which are connected on both sides to the next home (excluding the end unit, which is only connected on one side). Townhouses typically have private yards but, in some cases, it may be freehold or condo-style with shared ownership rights and responsibilities.

Due to the nature of these homes, they are typically more affordable than detached or semi-detached homes and also easier to maintain. Similarly, to duplexes however, these home types have less privacy and may have noise from shared walls. There are also monthly maintenance or strata fees to consider for the unit.

Condominium

These are low- or high-rise buildings containing multiple apartment units. These units are individually owned, with shared ownership rights and responsibilities over the building and the common area. Condos are excellent starter homes for single adults, or couples, as they are affordable and require minimal maintenance. Some buildings even have shared amenities, such as a fitness center or swimming pool or party room.

Always check for these amenities and if you would be interested in using them. If not, why pay for them? In this case, you might be better off finding a condo with less amenities and lower strata fees. Additional considerations for condos are that these are typically much smaller than detached or semi-detached homes and there is generally more noise (depending on your buildings structure and soundproofing) and less privacy due to common areas.

Modular or Mobile home

Growing in popularity are modular homes, which are prefabricated homes delivered to a home-site for installation. These homes are owned by the individual, while the land it sits on could be rented or owned outright. Similar to modular homes, are mobile homes such as campers and RVs.

These types of homes are highly affordable and extremely flexible; if you relocate, you can sell the mobile home with the property or keep the home and relocate it! As these are less common and somewhat newer home types, there is less resale demand than other housing types and they are much smaller than a detached or even a condominium. If renting land in a mobile home community, there are also those costs to consider.

Carriage house or Urban infill

A carriage house is located on the periphery of a single-family detached house. Similarly, are urban infill homes which are a modern solution to crowded cities whereby existing space in established residential or commercial areas has been repurposed to maximize density and reduce urban sprawl.

These homes are unique in that they are often located in interesting, urban environments and have their own character when compared to other homes. They are also generally less expensive than a single-family detached home and some of the other types on our list. That said, there is potential for noise pollution if you are in a busy location. Due to the size, there is also limited inventory and limited or non-existent yard space. But if you’re looking for something affordable and unique, these are perfect for you!

Finding the right home to suit your needs means considering your lifestyle and budget now, as well as where you’ll be a few years down the road. Want more information or need help deciding the best option for you? Contact me to learn more about your options when it comes to buying and owning a home.

2 Dec

Budgeting for the Holidays.

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

Be mindful with money this season! Along with holiday joy come holiday bills, to avoid a sleigh-size tab, plan ahead to save money and maximize the payoff.

ORDER ONLINE Avoid getting stuck in the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers by ordering gifts online from your laptop or phone. The time you save can be put towards spending more time with friends and family.

BE THRIFTY Start early and keep an eye out for special sales. Many retailers have Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to help you get a jumpstart on holiday shopping. Get inspired with coupons and get into the routine of flipping through flyers delivered to your home and online

TRUST YOUR BUDGET It keeps you on track during the rest of the year, so why not lean on it now? Starting the season with a plan and a maximum spending limit will help alleviate stress while shopping. There are plenty of free budget-tracking apps that connect right to your bank accounts and can be pulled out of your pocket for reference at any time – especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed at the mall.

GET CRAFTY Everyone appreciates the handmade touch in a gift, and DIY-ing this holiday can help you save money. There are wonderful options that can be found online, even for beginners. Examples include homemade wreaths, body scrubs, and fun photo scrapbooks that can be done alone or in a group, and you’ll end up with a gift that money can’t buy. If you’re not sure where to find these clever and cost-effective ideas, Pinterest is a great place to start.

GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME Instead of buying gifts, spend quality time with your friends and family while you give back to others. Sharing the experience and splitting the cost of hosting a dinner for a family in need will offset the cost of spending money on each person and double the amount of joy spread during the holidays. It feels good to pay in kind.

HOSTING A PARTY?

Think ahead: Start thinking about your ingredients early and keep an eye out for sales on nonperishable goods. By beating the holiday rush, you can afford more goodies for less.

BE RESOURCEFUL Hosting a large gathering? Ask each of your guests to bring a dish. This cost effective tip will act as conversation starter too.

EARN REWARDS A number of retailers offer cards where you can earn points toward future purchases, including entertainment.

CHOOSE WISELY Your time matters, so spend more of it with your guests and less of it in the kitchen. Pick a short and easy recipe that won’t cost a lot to make. Prepare as much as you can the morning or day before for a smoother hosting experience.

9 Nov

Renewing Your Mortgage!

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

Did you know? Close to 70 percent of mortgages never make it to the end of their term! This means that, for a variety of reasons, homeowners are ending their mortgages early. However, that still leaves a solid 30 percent of home buyers who keep their mortgage until the term is up and it is time to renew!

If you are not planning to move in the near future and are happy with your current mortgage, you are likely one of the 30 percent who will renew once the term ends. So what does this process look like?

When it comes time to renew your mortgage, most lenders will send you a renewal letter when there is around 3 months remaining on your term. While nearly 60 percent of borrowers simply sign and send back their renewal without ever shopping around for a more favourable interest rate, this is actually the best time to check out your options.

Most standard terms are 5-year terms and, with that much time having passed since signing, the market rates could be very different once the term is up! Despite this, lenders tend to provide higher rates on renewals versus new clients as they are hoping that the ease of renewal will prevent you from seeking out new rates. However, shopping around for a better rate is not as difficult as it sounds – especially with the help of a mortgage broker – and it could end up saving you a couple hundred dollars a month (depending on your situation)! Ideally, you should be keeping track of your own mortgage term end date as shopping for a new rate between four and six months before your expiry will ensure you are able to find the most affordable option for you.

After shopping around, you may find that your bank is actually offering a great rate – in which case you can simply submit the renewal! But if you are able to seek out a lower rate, we promise you will thank yourself for putting in the effort to find out! As another point of interest, renewal time is also a great time to make an extra payment on your mortgage, if you are able!

Beyond renewing your mortgage, home owners also have the option to transfer or switch the mortgage. This can be done any time during the term of the mortgage but may have penalties associated with breaking the mortgage before the term is up. Transfering to another lender is generally done to get a better rate, but you will need to go through the entire mortgage process again – including the ‘stress test’ – which makes shopping around at renewal time an even smarter option.

If your mortgage is coming up for renewal and you want to find out what lower rates may await you, contact your local mortgage professional! They can help you find the best option for where you are at in your life now and help you to ensure future financial success.

12 Oct

Stay Fit This Fall With At-Home Exercises That Get Results!

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

Fitness trainer Mandy Gill puts a twist on everyday movements to build and maintain strength

You may have curtailed your outdoor exercise during the dark days of autumn, but you can still stay active indoors. The key to staying fit and strong is to switch up classic movements by challenging the body with a slight bit of shock. This will not only bring faster results, but add a new level of fun fitness to your everyday routine. With every one of these movements, learn the proper form to ensure safety first. Then you can start adding weight until the exercise is challenging for you. As you add weight, your core will get stronger and more defined.

Find more at mandygill.com.

JACKNIFE SIT-UPS

Grab a soup can or dumbbell… even a dog toy that provides a bit of weight! Lie on your back with the weight in your right hand. Bring your right hand to your left foot while keeping both limbs straight and have them meet in the midline area of your body. I like to use the cue ‘hold your pee’ to keep your core engaged. Slowly lower the right hand and left foot back to the ground while keeping both limbs straight again. If required, use a slight bend in your legs as an easier modification. Repeat with control for 10 reps, then switch weight to your left hand and meet it with the right foot for 10 reps. Remember to ‘hold your pee’! You do want abs, right?

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps, on the left then on the right

STRAIGHT-LEG WEIGHTED SIT-UPS

Grab a soup can, dumbbell, medicine ball or weighted plate for this exercise. Lie on your back (I suggest using a yoga mat or towel). Bring the weight overhead for more of an intensified sit-up, or at your chest for a bit less resistance. With your legs straight out in front of you, or with your legs bent for an easier modification, begin by drawing your belly button towards the floor and?making sure your lower back isn’t creating a space between it and the floor. Perform a sit-up by rolling up, and then slowly lowering yourself to the ground. The sit-up and sit-down part are equally important to maintain control and proper form.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps

DUMBBELL SQUAT TWISTS

It’s time to spice up your everyday squat. With weights in either hand as an option, begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Balance is on your heels and engage your hamstrings (the muscles at the backs of your upper legs near your glutes). Lower into a squat, keeping your chest upright and bum no further than an inch past your knees (any further down from this and you lose all tension). Stand up from the squat and keep your glutes squeezed while bringing up your left knee towards the right elbow. You will feel a crunch in your core and the need to remain balanced—this is good! Put the left foot back to the floor, go into a squat, and bring the right knee towards the left elbow. Repeat (and smile).

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps, alternating sides every rep

BICEP CURLS

This movement is great to do with dumbbells or a resistance band. First, hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Let your arms hang down at your sides with your palms forward. Engage your core, stand tall, and keep your knees in a very slight bend. Curl both arms upward until they’re in front of your shoulders. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down. If you’re using a resistance band, follow the same steps and simply put tension on either side of the band in a ‘pull apart’ motion.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps

RUNNING MAN (OR WOMAN)

A workout wouldn’t be complete without cardio! Begin standing with your right leg forward and left leg back, similar to the start of a lunge. Place your left hand slightly touching the ground while maintaining a straight back. I don’t want to see any rounded or dipped backs. While keeping your body in a strong stance, spring upwards bringing your left knee towards your chest and right foot slightly off the ground. You’ll notice balance will be key to getting that right foot off the ground. Softly land the right foot and bring the left leg back into a lunge position. If the slight hop off the floor is too challenging, simply raise the left knee into your chest and keep the right foot grounded. Repeat on the same side for 10 reps, then switch.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 reps, on the left then on the right

16 Sep

10 Mortgage Mistakes

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

10 great things to keep in mind when you are looking into being approved for a mortgage!

Whether it is your first house or you’re moving to a new neighborhood, getting approved for a mortgage is exciting! However, even if you have been approved and are simply waiting to close, there are still some things to keep in mind to ensure your efforts are successful.

Many homeowners believe that if you have been approved for a mortgage, you are good to go. However, your lender or mortgage insurance provider will often run a final credit report before completion to ensure that nothing has changed. Changes in your credit usage and score could affect what you qualify for – or whether or not you get your mortgage at all.

To avoid having your mortgage approval status reversed or jeopardizing your financing, be sure to stay away from these 10 mortgage mistakes:

1. BEEFING UP YOUR APPLICATION

This is not a time to try and ‘beef up’ your financials; you must be honest on your mortgage application. This is especially true when seeking the advice of a mortgage professional, as their main goal is to assist you in your home buying journey. Providing accurate information surrounding your income, properties owned, debts, assets and your financial past is critical. If you have been through a foreclosure, bankruptcy or consumer proposal, disclose this right away as well. We are here to help!

2. GETTING PRE-APPROVED

With all the changes and qualifying requirements surrounding mortgages, it is a mistake to assume that you will be approved. Many things can influence whether or not you qualify for financing such as unknown changes to your credit report, mortgage product updates or rate changes. Getting pre-approved is the first step to ensuring you are on the right track and securing that mortgage! Most banks consider pre-approval to be valid for four months. So, even if you aren’t house-hunting tomorrow, getting pre-approved NOW will come in handy if a new home is in your near future.

3. SHOPPING AROUND

One of the biggest mistakes people make when signing for a mortgage is not shopping around. It is easy to simply sign up with your existing bank, but you could be paying thousands more than you need to, without even knowing it! This is where a mortgage broker can help! With access to hundreds of lenders and financial institutions, a mortgage professional can help you find a mortgage with the best rate and terms to suit YOUR needs.

4. NOT SAVING FOR A DOWN PAYMENT

Your down payment is a critical part of homeownership and a useful financial tool that you should utilize when purchasing a home. A down payment reduces the overall amount of financing you need and increases the amount of equity right from the start. Down payments also show the bank you are serious. In Canada, the minimum down payment is 5% (with mortgage insurance), with the recommended being 20% if possible.

5. CHANGING EMPLOYERS OR JOBS        

As employment is one of the most important factors that determines whether or not you qualify for financing, it is important not to change employers if you are in the middle of the approval process. Banks prefer to see a long tenure with your employer, as it indicates financial stability. It is best to wait for any major career changes until after your mortgage has been approved and you have the keys to your new home!

6. APPLYING OR CO-SIGNING FOR OTHER LOANS

Applying for additional loans or financing while you are currently in the midst of finalizing a mortgage contract can drastically affect what you qualify for – it can even jeopardize your credit rating! Save any big purchases, such as a new car, until after your mortgage has been finalized.

Also, just as applying for new loans can wreak havoc on a mortgage application, so can co-signing for other loans. Co-signing signifies that you can handle the full responsibility of the debt if the other individual defaults. As a result, this will show up on your credit report and can become a liability on your application, potentially lowering your borrowing power.

7. AVOIDING CREDIT MISSTEPS

As mortgage financing is contingent on your credit score and your current debt, it is important to keep these things healthy during the course of mortgage approval. Do not go over any limits on your cards or lines of credit, or miss any payment dates during the time your finances are being reviewed. This will affect whether or not the lender sees you as a responsible borrower.

Also, although you might think an application with less debt available to use would be something a bank would favor, credit scores actually increase the longer a card is open and in good standing. Having unused available credit and cards open for a long duration with a good history of repayment is a good thing! In fact, if you lower the level of your available credit (especially in the midst of an application) it could lower your credit score.

8. HAVING TOO MUCH DEBT

Credit card debt is on the rise and overuse of lines of credit can put you at risk for debt overload. Large purchases such as new truck or boat can push your total debt servicing ratio over the limit (how much you owe versus how much you make), making it impossible to receive financing. Some homeowners have so much consumer debt that they aren’t even able to refinance their home to consolidate that debt. Before you start considering a new home, make sure your current debt is under control.

9. LARGE DEPOSITS

Just as now is not the time for new loans, it is also not the time for large deposits or “mattress money” to come into your account. The bank requires a three-month history of all down payments and funds for the mortgage when purchasing property. Any deposits outside of your employment or pension income will need to be verified with a paper trail – such as a bill of sale for a vehicle, or income tax credit receipts. Unexplained deposits can delay your mortgage financing, or put it in jeopardy if they cannot be explained.

10. MARRYING INTO POOR CREDIT

Having the financial talk before getting hitched continues to be critical for your financial future. Your partner’s credit can affect your ability to get approved for a mortgage. If there are unexpected financial issues with your partner’s credit history, make sure to have a discussion with your mortgage broker before you start shopping for a new home.

If you are currently in the midst of a mortgage application, or are looking to start the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional today to ensure that you do things the RIGHT way to succeed with your home purchase.

2 Sep

All About Reverse Mortgages!

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

While there are many different mortgage options out there, there is one type of mortgage available for seniors: a reverse mortgage. This article will be your comprehensive guide to reverse mortgages, what they bring to the table, and how they may be beneficial.

What is a reverse mortgage?

The simplest explanation for this is that it is a type of mortgage loan that is available only to homeowners 55 years old and above. In essence, it lets them convert part of the equity that is in their homes into cash.

Initially, this was a product that was created with the idea of helping retirees with limited income stay in their homes. This is achieved by using the accumulated equity in their homes to cover health care and basic living expenses. When it comes to reverse mortgage proceeds, there is no limitation or restriction on how the proceeds can be used.

It is called a reverse mortgage because instead of making monthly payments to a lender – like a traditional mortgage – the lender makes payments to the borrower.

With this type of mortgage, the borrower isn’t required to pay back the loan until the home is sold, vacated, or everyone on the title passes away. So long as the borrower lives in the home, they are not required to make monthly payments towards the loan balance. However, there is still the matter of remaining current on property taxes, HOA dues where applicable, and homeowners’ insurance.

Knowing the basics of reverse mortgages

Knowing the different types of reverse mortgages can be beneficial when it comes to making the selection that fits you best. We will get into each kind in detail. There are a few details, however, that lenders will generally look for. These are:

  • Your age as well as the age of your spouse if they are listed on the title of your house
  • Where you live
  • The condition of your home, its type, and its appraised value

A good rule of thumb to consider is that the older you are and the more equity you have in your home, the more money that you could get. This is, of course, impacted by current market trends, so keep that in mind. You could even use the money from the reverse mortgage to do this.

If there is a remainder left, you can use it for a wide range of things like:

  • help with regular bills
  • cover healthcare expenses
  • pay for home repairs or improvements
  • repay debts

There is a lot of flexibility when it comes to how you spend your loan, making it one of the more versatile options out there.

If you want to learn the plain facts on reverse mortgages, there are a number of great resources available online, including information from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

How to access the money from a reverse mortgage

There are a couple of ways to get access to the money from your loan. This can be achieved by either taking the money in a one-time lump sum, for starters. It can also be taken in an upfront portion with the rest over time.

Generally, it’s good to ask your lender what the options are. There may also be restrictions and fees, so be aware of those as well. You also must pay off and close any outstanding loans or lines of credit tied to the home.

Single-purpose reverse mortgage

This is the kind of mortgage that is offered by provincial, local, and nonprofit agencies. Not only that, but it is considered to be the least expensive process. The municipality or agency specifies the reason for this type of mortgage, and that will be its only use.

Homeowners can use the proceeds from this type of mortgage only to pay for a specific lender-approved item. The proceeds can cover property taxes or necessary repairs to the home. Whereas home-equity loan proceeds can be used for any purpose, the lender restricts how single-purpose proceeds can be used.

The difference here is that, with a home equity loan or line of credit, there is a monthly payment. With a single-purpose loan, there is no need for repayment until the home’s ownership changes, the borrower moves to a different residence, or passes away. It can also become due if the homeowners’ insurance on the property lapses or the city condemns the property.

The reason to go with his type of mortgage is that the homeowner can expect to pay far less in interest and fees. This differs greatly from a home equity conversion or proprietary reverse mortgage. While there is no need to make a payment until it is due, fees, interest, and mortgage insurance can reduce the amount that the homeowner can borrow.

Pros and cons of a reverse mortgage

After all of that, you may still be wondering whether or not a reverse mortgage is the best idea. Like anything else in life, it comes with its own set of pros and cons involved. This makes it worth considering and looking further into.

Let’s start with the good news first.

THE PROS

This type of mortgage can be a very powerful source of income for older individuals. It can be for those who need to increase their retirement income or take on a big household project. Since the largest asset that most retirees have is their home – and it is likely paid off – this allows for an increase in income without increasing monthly payments. It is a great way for retirees to stay in their homes.

Not only that, but it can be highly beneficial because it requires no payment. That is until ownership of the home changes hand, the home is vacated or condemned, or the borrower passes away. It is the quickest and easiest path to substantially more income for a retired person who may not otherwise have that kind of access to additional funds.

THE CONS

Generally speaking, the interest rates tend to be much higher than most other types of mortgages out there. It is also worth considering that the equity in your home could go down. Combined with interest on your loan adding up, it could create quite the gap.

While you won’t need to repay the loan until you pass or sell the home, paying the loan and interest in full will fall on the shoulders of your estate. Not only that, but it must be repaid within a specific period of time.

The general costs associated with this type of mortgage also tend to be much higher. While there is certainly greater flexibility in how you get and spend your money, it comes at a cost, literally.

The verdict

Ultimately, it is up to you to determine if the benefits offset the higher cost and burden of repayment that falls on your estate. Getting the money from your loan, as well as what you can spend it on, is perhaps one of the most flexible mortgage options out there. This is especially true for seniors.

It also provides much-needed income for those retirees who may not have adequate funds for retirement. This shortfall can happen for a lot of reasons, and it is common for retirees to exceed their expected retirement life.

Weighing the pros and cons is essential regardless of the loan type. A reverse mortgage has all the potential to be beneficial to seniors in need of funds and provides greater flexibility for acquiring and spending that money.

27 Jul

Home sales continue their descent in June

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

Wow has it been a crazy Spring and Summer market. Rising prices, low rates and everything is moving at the speed of light. Nice to see that the market is starting to slow a bit. Check out this great article below from our very own Economist. Its a great read.

Canadian Home Sales Continued Their Slowdown in June.

Today the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released statistics showing national existing home sales fell 8.4% nationally from May to June 2021, marking the third consecutive monthly decline. Over the same period, the number of newly listed properties fell 0.7%, and the MLS Home Price Index rose 0.9%, a marked deceleration from previous months.

Activity nonetheless remains historically high, but in contrast to March’s all-time record, it is now running closer to levels seen in the first half of 2020. While sales are now down a cumulative 25% from their peak, and below every other month in the last year, June transactions still managed to set a record for that month (see chart below).

For the second month in a row, sales were lower in every province. The steepest drops were in B.C. (-14.6% m/m) and the Atlantic provinces (down a combined 9.8% m/m). In Ontario, sales fell 9.0% m/m. They posted a much smaller 1.9% m/m drop in Quebec.

June’s decline was helped along by stricter stress test rules implemented at the beginning of the month. We expect these rules to continue to weigh on demand in the near term, although the amount of tightening this time around (+46 bps) pales in comparison to early 2018 (+220 bps), the last time the rules were changed.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in June 2021 was up 13.6% on a year-over-year basis.

“While there is still a lot of activity in many housing markets across Canada, things have noticeably calmed down in the last few months,” said Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA. “There remains a shortage of supply in many parts of the country, but at least there isn’t the same level of competition among buyers we were seeing a few months ago.”

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes edged back a slight 0.7% in June compared to May. In contrast to the past year’s synchronicity in demand and supply trends, the little-changed national new supply figure in June reflected a mixed bag of results, with about half of local markets seeing gains – welcome news for frustrated buyers.

The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 69.2% in June 2021, the lowest reading since last August. That said, the long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 54.6%, so it remains historically high; although, it has been steadily moderating since peaking at 90.8% back in January (see chart below).

Based on a comparison of sales-to-new listings ratio with long-term averages, more than half of all local markets were in balanced market territory in June, measured as being within one standard deviation of their long-term average. The was a significant shift compared to most of the past year which saw a majority of markets well into seller’s market territory.

There were 2.3 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of June 2021, up from 2.1 months in May and up from an all-time record-low of just 1.8 months in March. That said, it is still very much in sellers’ market territory. The long-term average for this measure is a little over 5 months.

Home Prices

The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) rose 0.9% month-over-month in June 2021, continuing the trend of decelerating month-over-month growth that began in March. That deceleration was initially seen more so on the single-family side; although, that trend is now also playing out in the townhome and apartment segments.

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up 24.4% on a year-over-year basis in June. Based on data back to 2005, this was another record year-over-year increase; although, given how price growth took off in July of last year, this June 2021 reading may end up being the peak for year-over-year growth.

Looking across the country, year-over-year price growth is averaging around 20% in B.C., though it is lower in Vancouver and higher in other parts of the province. Year-over-year price gains in the 10% range were recorded in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while gains are closer to 15% in Manitoba. Ontario is seeing an average year-over-year rate of price growth in the 30% range, however, as with B.C., gains are notably lower in the GTA and considerably higher in most other parts of the province. The opposite is true in Quebec, where Montreal is in the 25% range and Quebec City is in the 15% range. Price growth is running a little above 30% in New Brunswick, while Newfoundland and Labrador are in the 10% range.

Bottom Line

Since peaking in March, home sales are down 25% from the inferno levels early this year, but demand is still historically strong. Despite the steep pullback, seasonally adjusted sales are roughly 18% above pre-pandemic trends. When the economy opens fully and immigration resumes, the underlying fundamentals for housing demand will rise, especially as university students return to campus living, and adult children move into their own nests.

Sales activity will continue to gradually cool over the next year, but it will take higher interest rates to soften the housing market in a meaningful way.

Condo sales in markets such as Toronto and Vancouver have picked up from their pandemic lows in recent months. This is the polar opposite of what happened earlier in the pandemic, when sales of relatively expensive detached units dominated, raising average prices. Moving forward, if condos consume a rising share of the overall sales pie (perhaps through strong demand for these units, slowing sales of detached houses, or some combination of both), compositional effects could continue to weigh on average prices.

 

Published by DLC Chief Economist Dr Sherry Cooper

15 Jul

Are You Ready for Home Ownership?

General

Posted by: Matt Dunstone

Are You Ready for Home Ownership?.

While most people know the main things they need to buy a home, such as stable employment and enough money for a down payment, there are a few other factors that may help you realize you’re ready – perhaps even earlier than you thought! In fact, there are four main things that can help you determine if you are ready for home ownership:

You Can Afford Your Down Payment AND Ongoing Costs

It is easy for potential homeowners to get wrapped up in focusing on having enough money for the down payment and then forget about afterwards. It is important that you are not only financially able to afford the down payment, but that you can manage the monthly mortgage payments and ongoing maintenance as well. My Mortgage Toolbox app from Dominion Lending Centres has some great calculators to help you determine what you can afford on a monthly basis before you get in too deep. If you have enough funds in the bank for a down payment and are able to manage the monthly costs associated with the size and price range of home you would need, then you may be ready to start house-hunting!

You Have Good Credit

As most people know, credit score plays a major role in qualifying for financing to purchase a home. If you have a good credit score, which should now be at least 680 to qualify, then you have nothing to worry about! However, if your credit score is below this, it is more likely that you will be paying higher interest rates (and therefore have higher payments), or that you could be denied all-together. Before you begin your home buying journey, it is vital to have your credit score in order to ensure you can get the best mortgage product and rates. Working with a mortgage professional can help you get on the right track in the shortest time possible. Sometimes all that’s needed are a few subtle changes, or debt consolidation, to improve your credit score within a couple months.

No Other Large, Upcoming Expenses

Do you plan on buying two new vehicles in the next two years? Are you thinking of starting a family? Are you considering going back to school? Although you may think you can afford to purchase a home right now, it is vital to be honest about your future plans. What does your life look like in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? If you know that you aren’t planning on incurring big expenses that you need to factor into your budget anytime soon, then that’s something that may help you decide to buy a home.

Your are Disciplined

One of the most important factors for purchasing a home is budgeting. You have to know what you can afford – and stick with it! It is easy to be tempted by a gorgeous 6 bedroom home or a backyard pool or private community, but at what cost? If going all-in is going to leave you scrambling each paycheck or derail any plans of future financial stability, it is worth rethinking. Understanding what you NEED in a new home, versus what you WANT, is a good step towards determining what you’re looking for and planning a budget that suits your needs so that you can continue to live comfortably.

These are just four signs that you may be ready to purchase a home. If you’re seriously considering buying or selling, talking with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional can help ensure you have the best experience when it comes to buying a home!

Written by my DLC Marketing Team