2 Mar

4 SIGNS YOU’RE READY FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

4 SIGNS YOU’RE READY FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP

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!

As a mortgage broker, it is my job to ensure that each one of my clients is getting the best service I can provide. Part of this means educating as much as possible when it comes to buying a home, which is why I’ve put together a list of 4 signs that may tell you that you are ready to become a homeowner.

You should have more funds available than the minimum of a down payment
This one may seem obvious, but it’s something that people may not realize until they actually think about it. It’s very difficult to afford a home if you only have enough money for a down payment and then find yourself scrambling for day-to-day living after that.

If you have enough money saved up (more than the minimum needed for a down payment), you may be ready to start house-hunting.

Your credit score is good
This might seem obvious at first glance, however, if you don’t have a good credit score, chances increase that you could be declined altogether or stuck with a higher interest rate and thus end up paying higher mortgage payments. If you have a less-than-optimal credit score, working with a mortgage professional can help you get on the right track in the shortest time possible. Sometimes a few subtle changes can bump a credit score from “meh” to “yahoo” in a few short months.

Breaking the bank isn’t in your future plans
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’s extremely important to think about one, two, and five years down the road. 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.

You are disciplined
It’s easy to say, “it’s a home, I’m going to have it for a long time so I may as well go all-in!”. While that would be nice, that’s rarely the case!

You must have a limit that you’re willing to spend. Sitting down with a mortgage broker or real estate agent and analyzing your finances is crucial. It’s important that you know costs associated with buying a home and what the maximum amount is that you can afford without experiencing financial struggles. IMPORTANT: This is not the amount that you are told is your max!

This is the amount that you calculate as your max based on your current monthly budget and savings plan. It’s quite frequent where I have clients tell me that their max budget is, say, $1200 and then when I run the numbers they could actually be approved for much more. Low and behold suddenly these guys are looking at homes that are hundreds of dollars a month higher than their initial perceived budget. It is up to you (with my help or pleading, when necessary) to reel things back in and make sure that you aren’t getting into something that affects the long-term livelihood of a well thought out budget or savings plan.

Conclusion

These are just four signs that you may be ready to purchase a home. If you’re seriously considering homeownership, buying or selling, talk with us we can help put you on the right path to a successful real estate transaction.

 

Courtesy of Shaun Serafini, Dominion Lending Centres.

20 Feb

14 KEY POINTS EVERY CUSTOMER SHOULD KNOW

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

Jennifer Koop, Mortgage Agent DLC Huntsville Getting the Banks Competing For Your Mortgage Business

1 – I shop the best rates and products from 90 different Banks, Credit Unions and Trust Companies including: TD Bank, Scotia, Tangerine, and many others.

2 – My services are free as the bank pays me a finder’s fee. The Industry is changing and banks now have to compete for business, so they value our referrals.  Keep in mind, they spend millions of dollars operating their many branches, plus internal staffing and layers of management, so they can afford to offer deep discounts for the business we bring to them.

3 – Isn’t it time the Banks compete for your mortgage business? You wouldn’t get just one opinion from one doctor if your physical condition were in question…why get just one opinion when your financial condition  is going through the most significant transaction of its life?

4 – Your bank very rarely gives you the best rates and products. Most homeowners renew their mortgage every four or five years automatically, so they rarely receive the best rates and programs.  Since Dominion Lending Centres sends lenders millions of dollars of new business each month, they always offer us the deepest discounts which I pass that on to you – whether you are purchasing, refinancing or renewing.

5 – Our application process is simple and quick. I’ll just take a little info and send it electronically to the lenders that I feel are the best fit for your situation; I should have some feedback later that day or the next!

6 – One of my best benefits is I’m available on your terms! Isn’t it frustrating when a bank takes several days to get back to you, and then you have to make your way through their endless voice mail boxes?

7 –  I take one credit bureau only and forward it to all the lenders!
Many people inadvertently disqualify themselves from getting the best rate when they are shopping for a mortgage. When multiple banks pull a credit bureau, your Beacon score drops every time, sometimes eliminating the chance for the best mortgage or a mortgage at all!

8 – There’s a mortgage product available for almost everyone now. When a person’s situation isn’t ideal, there’s usually a story about why; maybe they changed jobs, maybe they went through a divorce or another life-altering event and their credit was affected.  It is my job to tell your story to the lender that will qualify you.

9 – I appreciate your business. I sincerely appreciate your business and want to do a good job for you because I want all your family and friends business in the future!  (Has any bank employee ever told you that?)

10 – I am a certified Expert.  Most bank employees are not certified and only know about their own bank’s products and do not know and cannot advise you to go to another lender where you can get qualified. You wouldn’t go to your G.P. if you needed a specialist. Deal with a mortgage expert specializing in mortgages from all lenders.

11 – I work for you, not the banks. I don’t get paid unless I fund your  mortgage with a lender that is giving you the product you need and I have no interest in getting the lender more interest on your mortgage, as the higher the interest, the lower the amount I can qualify you for; clearly I work in your best interests, not the lender’s.

12 – Rate Protection. If the rates drop before you close you automatically get the lower rate and if rates go up you have the lower rate locked in. The last time you got pre-approved for a mortgage at a bank, did you get a commitment letter? Did they offer you a rate protection like the one I can secure for you?

13 – Commitment Letter Every-time. I provide a commitment letter every time so you can relax and be confident your mortgage financing is in place!

14 – A mortgage broker is no longer the “lender of last resort”! Actually we are becoming the first choice of the educated borrower.

For more information on how you can get the best mortgage for your specific needs, call or email:

Jennifer Koop,
Mortgage Agent
Dominion Lending Centres

Tel: 705-349-0502 | Jennifer@cottagecountrymortgage.ca | www.cottagecountrymortgage.ca

17 Jan

BANK BROKER VS. MORTGAGE BROKERS | HERE’S THE SCOOP

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

BANK BROKER VS. MORTGAGE BROKERS | HERE’S THE SCOOP

Ask any mortgage broker and they can tell you that there are a handful of misconceptions that the public has about working with a mortgage broker. From questioning their credentials (we all are regulated and licensed with in our own province, and are constantly re-educating ourselves) to assuming that the broker does not have access to the same rate as the banks (we do in fact—plus access to even more lending options) mortgage brokers have heard it all!

With the recent changes to the B-20 guidelines taking full effect as of January 1, 2018 the mortgage landscape is changing and we firmly believe in keeping our clients educated and informed. With these changes, there have been a number of misconceptions that have come to light regarding mortgage professionals and their “limitations” and we felt it was time to address them:

Myth 1: Independent Broker’s don’t have access to the rates the banks do.

Fact: Not true. Brokers have access to MORE rates and lenders than the bank. The bank brokers only have access to their rates-no other ones. A mortgage professional has access to:

• Tier 1 banks in Canada
• Credit Unions
• Monoline Lenders
• Alternative Lenders
• Private Lenders

This extensive network of lender options allows brokers to ensure that you are not only getting the sharpest rate, but that the mortgage product is also aligned with the client’s needs.

Myth 2: The consumer has to negotiate a rate with a lender directly.

Fact: Not true at all! Your mortgage professional will shop the market to find the best overall cost of borrowing for the client. Broker’s will look at all angles of the product to ensure that the client is getting one that will suit their unique and specific needs. Not once will the client be expected to shop their mortgage around or to speak to the lender. This is different from the bank where you are limited to only their rates and are left to negotiate with the bank’s broker—who is paid by the bank! We don’t know about you, but we would much rather have a broker negotiate on our behalf. Plus, they are FREE to use (see myth #6)

Myth 3: A Broker’s goal is to move the mortgage on each renewal.

Fact: A Mortgage Broker’s goal is to present multiple options to consumers so they can secure the optimal product for their specific and unique needs. This entails the broker looking at more than just the rate. A broker will look at:
• Prepayment options
• Costs of borrowing
• Portability
• Penalty to break
• Mortgage charges

And more. If the Broker determines that the current lender is the most ideal for their client at the time of renewal, then they will advise them to remain with that lender. The end goal of renewal is simple: provide clients the best ongoing, current advice at the time of origination and at the time of renewal

Myth 4: The broker receives a trailer fee if the client remains with the same lender at renewal.

Fact: This is on a case-to-case basis. At times, there is a small fee given to the broker if a client opts to renew with their current lender. This allows for accountability between the lender, broker, and customer in most cases. However, this is not always the case and the details of each renewal will vary.

Myth 5: If a Broker moves a mortgage to a new lender upon time of renewal then the full mortgage commission is received by the broker, allowing the broker to obtain “passive income” by constantly switching clients over.

Fact: Let’s clarify: If a client chooses to move their mortgage at renewal after a broker presents them with the best options, then it is in fact a new deal. By being a new deal, this means that the broker has all the work associated with any new file at that time. It is the equivalent of a brand-new mortgage and the broker will have to do the correct steps and work associated with it.

A second point of clarification-although the broker will earn income on this switch, the income (in most cases) is paid by the financial institution receiving the mortgage, NOT the client.

Myth 6: It costs a client more to renew with a mortgage broker.

Fact: Completely false. Clients SAVE MONEY when they work with a mortgage broker at . A broker has access to a variety of lenders and can offer discounts that the bank can’t. Additionally, most mortgage brokers offer continuous advice and information to their clients. Working with a broker is not a “one and done” deal as it is a broker’s goal to keep their clients informed, educated, and well-versed as to what is happening in the industry and how it will affect them. When you work with a broker instead of the bank, you not only get the best mortgage for you, but you also have access to a wealth of industry knowledge continuously.

Mortgage Brokers are a dedicated group of individuals who work directly for the client, not the lenders or the bank. Brokers are problem-solvers, advisors and honourable individuals. We work hard to give our clients the best that we can in an industry that constantly is evolving and changing.

We encourage you to reach out to your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional if you have any misconceptions or questions about working with a broker-we are happy to answer them and help you with your mortgage, your renewal, and everything and anything in between

Thank you Geoff Lee, Dominion Lending Centres for writing this article.

18 Dec

THE EASY OPTION ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

THE EASY OPTION ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST

For those of us looking for mortgage financing options for our first or next home, the prevailing attitude is, ‘easiest is best’.

For most of us, myself included, applying for any type of financing is a stressful event; its always easier to, when you’re in your local branch, to strike up a conversation with an account manager and when they say, “Sure, I can help you with that”, to just treat that help as your only option.

On the outside, most mortgages are pretty much the same ( they’re not, but that deserves a separate discussion ), right? Anyway, if you can just walk in and walk out with a pre-approval, why not just do that?

Well, lets look at what you really want to get out the financing;

Let’s say you’re self employed ( not a stretch, really) and have, a couple of years ago started your own small business. Your spouse is also self employed, but works as an independent contractor, in IT, for example.

Initially qualifying for financing might be a bit of a struggle, but you rely on your banks’ mortgage specialist to get you the financing option you need. Of course, they come through in the end and a few months later, you’re happy in your new home and you’re happy you’ve started a relationship with someone who can help.

On the business front, its good news as well. Your small business grows and grows and in about three years down the road, you’ve got a new contract that you won’t be able to fulfill without some financial help.

When you approach the bank, you’re told time and again that, in spite of your great ‘relationship’, what you need doesn’t meet their lending guidelines and they can’t or won’t help you grow your business.

You leave the financial institution thinking, “I deserve better than this” and you’re right, you absolutely do.

Part of my role as a Mortgage Professional is to not only find the right mortgage but also try and anticipate what you might need in the future. I always recommend a lender that you can have a meaningful relationship with, if that’s what is needed.

A Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist will give you options and recommendations, as well as a clear explanation of why they’re recommending one over another. That’s a promise.

Thank you Jonathan Barlow, Dominion Lending Centres, for writing this article.

13 Dec

RETURNING TO THE ‘A-SIDE’ OF MORTGAGE FINANCING

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

 

 

RETURNING TO THE ‘A-SIDE’ OF MORTGAGE FINANCING

Every year Canadian families are caught in unexpected bad circumstances only to find out that in most cases the banks and the credit unions are there (to lend you money) only in the good times, not so much during the bad times.

This is where thousands of families have benefited over the years from the services of a skilled mortgage broker that has access to dozens of different lending solutions including trust companies and private lending corporations. These short-term solutions can help a family bridge the gap through business challenges, employment challenges, health challenges, etc.

The key to taking on these sorts of mortgages is always in having a clear exit strategy, which in some cases may be a simple as a sale deferred to the Spring market. Most times the exit strategy involves cleaning up credit challenges, getting consistent income back in place and moving the mortgage debt back to a mainstream lender. Or as we would say in the business an ‘A-lender’.

The challenge for our clients, and for us as mortgage brokers, over the past few years, arguably over the past nine years, has been the constant tinkering with lending guidelines by the federal government. And the upcoming changes of Jan. 1, 2018 represent far more than just ‘tinkering’.

This next set of changes are significant, and will effectively move the goal posts well out of reach for many clients currently in ‘B’ or private mortgages. Clients who have made strides in improving their credit or increasing their income will find that the new standards taking effect will put that A-lender mortgage just a little bit out of reach as of the New Year.

There is concern that the new rules will create far more problems than they solve, especially when it seems quite clear to all involved that there are no current problems with mortgage repayment to be solved.

Yet these changes are coming our way fast.

Are you expecting to make a move to the A-Side in 2018?

It just might be worth your time to pick up the phone and give your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist a call today.

We’re here and ready to help.

Thank you to Dominion Lending Centre’s Dustan Woodhouse for writing this article

15 Nov

You’re in Control with Mortgage Advice and Options

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

ADVICE AND OPTIONS MEAN YOU’RE IN CONTROL

Today, you and your spouse go looking for a new home. You’re excited because after years of scrimping and saving, you can finally afford your own place.

You’ve engaged a realtor and he’s called you to say that he’s found your new home. You visit the property and while its not perfect, your realtor insists that this is the home for you. He says there’s nothing else available that’s better suited and urges you to make an offer. He mentions at one point that he’s actually the owner of the property he’s showed you. You make an offer at the price he suggests and, hey presto, the offer is accepted!

You move in at the end of the month, happy that you’ve at least got a roof over your head.

It all sounds pretty unbelievable, doesn’t it? You can’t really imagine doing that, can you?

Let’s look at a similar scenario; one where you make a very similar choice.

A month or two earlier, you casually mention to your mum and dad that you’re going to start looking for a home. They’re both pleased and proud – they ask about your mortgage financing – and recommend you go see their account manager at Big Blue Blank.

Like most Canadians, you prefer going to the dentist over applying for credit, so after you meet with Cal from Big Blue, you’re pleased and relieved when he calls you later that day to say you’ve been pre approved for financing at a fixed rate. He’s even guaranteed the rate for 90 days! When you end up buying that not so perfect home, the mortgage is in place in a blink of an eye.

This time, the whole scenario is way more familiar, isn’t it? Why is the second scenario any more acceptable than the first?

A Mortgage Brokers’ value proposition is based upon the ability to offer independent advice about multiple products provided by multiple lending partners.

How we demonstrate that proposition is by providing both advice and options; advice on not only obtaining the right financing, but also repayment strategies and strategies to handle a changing interested rate environment.

By combining options on rates, terms, repayment privileges and to minimize penalties, we provide you with the one thing you didn’t get in either of the two scenarios – informed choice.

Dealing with a broker, any broker, gives each of us back something we are always looking for; control.

As always, if you have any questions or need help contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

 

Thank you to our own Jonathan Barlow, Dominion Lending Centres, Mortgage Professional for writing this article

10 Nov

4 COMMON FINANCIAL MISTAKES EVERY SMALL BUSINESS OWNER SHOULD AVOID

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

4 COMMON FINANCIAL MISTAKES EVERY SMALL BUSINESS OWNER SHOULD AVOID

Every entrepreneur and business owner will make a few financial mistakes during their journey. Those who aren’t savvy in accounting often overlook the need to brush up on their financial IQ. Truth is, these little financial errors can lead to some serious cash flow problems if you aren’t careful. Here are four financial mistakes you can easily avoid so you can protect your bottom line.

Late payments
Nobody is fond of paying bills. We tend to put them off until the last minute for short-lived peace of mind. This applies to all business owners when it comes to both your account payables and receivables.
When billing your clients, it’s common to give them an extended window of time to make payments so you can foster more sales. While your clients may appreciate the flexibility this can seriously cripple your cash flow. I generally suggest giving your clients no longer than 14 days to pay an invoice. If you’re providing quality goods and services they should have no problem paying you within this time window.
When it comes to paying your own bills, it’s important to follow the same principles above. This is especially the case if you’re operating off borrowed money. Paying an invoice late may result in a few unhappy emails, but when it comes to paying off your debts you need to always be on time. Even one missed payment can severely harm your credit score.
The best way to stay on top of these is to use an online payments solution that offers online invoicing and accounting features. This way all of your bills are organized and can be accessed anywhere at anytime.

Forgetting to have an emergency fund
Every successful entrepreneur will probably tell you that hindsight is 20/20 and foresight is … well you just never know what’s going to happen. Every business will have to pivot and there will always be unexpected hurdles. That being said, it’s absolutely imperative that you have your contingency plan, especially when it comes to finances. I recommend that every business owner has a three-month emergency fund at least.
You should start putting money away into your emergency fund as soon as the cash comes in. No matter the size of your business you should learn the art of bootstrapping and staying lean. The more money you put away, the more you’ll force yourself to get by with what you have. The majority of startups fail due to the lack of or misuse of capital. Having an emergency fund gives you a bit more runway when disaster strikes.

Failing to separate business funds from personal funds
This is one of the most common and dangerous pitfalls in small businesses. Small business owners often put their lives on the line for their business, literally. This is a big no-no. When starting a business it’s important to immediately separate your personal finances from your business finances. If you’re like any other entrepreneur it’s going to take more than one go to be successful. That being said, you definitely don’t want a failed business to tarnish your financial reputation.
Start by opening up a business bank account and apply for a business credit card to keep track of expenses. Make sure you’re only using your business credit card for business expenses and vice a versa. Failing to separate the two can also lead to complications around balancing accounts, filing taxes, measuring profits and even setting clear financial goals. Do yourself a favor and avoid mixing these expenses.

Spending too much time on non-cash-generating activities
It’s a given that you most likely won’t see an ROI on every activity you do when running a business. That being said, it’s important to distinguish which ones have the highest chance of eventually generating some cash flow. When it comes to time tracking and time management, it’s important to pay close attention to your productivity levels.
Everyone has 24 hours in a day, some decide to work smarter than others and that’s why they become successful. Know that time is your most valuable asset and treat it as such. Remember, it’s okay to say no or to turn down meetings that you know provide little to no value for your business. There’s no need to take or be present on every phone call either. Being able to identify what brings true and tangible value to your business is a key to success.
Try your best to follow the 80/20 rule. There are likely three to four activities in your business that generate the most cash. Once you identify these activities, create a habit of spending 80 percent of your time doing these tasks and save the rest of your time for other miscellaneous jobs. If you’re able to get really disciplined around this strategy, it will surely pay off.
It takes years of practice to improve your financial literacy. Although most lessons in finance are learned the hard way, it’s important to learn them nonetheless. Take note of these four common financial mistakes and do your best to avoid them. Contact Dominion Lending Centres Leasing if you have any questions.

 

Thank you to Jennifer Okkerse, Dominion Lending Centres – Director of Operations, Leasing Division for writing this article.

 

7 Nov

The New Normal – Mortgage Guidelines

General

Posted by: Jennifer Koop

THE NEW NORMAL

’Tis the season… this was no surprise here! The latest round of mortgage guidelines has been announced by OSFI, or Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. As of January 1, 2018, all conventional or uninsured mortgages will have to qualify at the Bank of Canada 5-year fixed rate or the contractual rate + 2%, whatever is greater.
What does this mean? Nothing for anyone wanting to renew or buy real estate with less than 20% down.
But anyone wanting to access their equity might just have to consider a slightly lower amount. And those wanting to purchase real estate with 20%+ down may need to adjust their expectations or relocate their search area.
Regardless of your scenario, there will still be options to exercise.
Next question on many people’s minds is how this will affect prices. Based historical data, I predict that there will be very little decrease in prices. Most people thought the ‘bubble’ was going to explode. Most comments were, “It just has to, how can prices continue to increase?” Well guess what… prices have continued to increase. Some market segments will experience a slight softening, but nothing drastic.
Here is a list of changes issued by OSFI since 2006. Did any of them bring prices down?

2006
Maximum amortization 40 years
100% financing, 0% down payment

2008
Maximum amortization 35 years
Maximum 95% financing, minimum 5% down payment required

2011
Maximum amortization 30 years
Refinance maximum 85% of the market value

2012
Maximum amortization 25 years
Refinance maximum 80% of the market value
If mortgage insurance is required, then the maximum purchase price of the owner-occupied home is $1,000,000

2015
Minimum down payment – 5% of the first $500,000 and 10% on the portion remaining

2016
Qualification rate increases to Bank of Canada benchmark rate for all insurable files (less than 20% down)

2017
Conventional (20% down or greater) stress test increases to contract rate plus 200 basis points (2%) or the Bank of Canada benchmark rate, whatever is greater

2018
What will happen in 2018?

There is no need to slam your fist on the panic button. This is simply the new normal for mortgage finance consumers. The sun will still rise in the east and set in the west. The earth will continue to rotate in a counterclockwise direction. People will still buy and sell real estate. Those consumers with available equity will still have access to it and borrowers will still renew existing mortgages. If you are receiving or buying into “the world is ending” type information, please look away… it’s wrong and misleading.
Nothing changes.
If you are worried about things you cannot control, stop it! If you are going to put any energy into something, I would recommend building a bulletproof personal borrowing profile. More than ever it’s vitally important to have AAA credit, minimal-to-zero consumer debt and strong reliable income and savings. If you start with that, I can assure you everything will be OK!
If you have any plans to become an active mortgage consumer, start looking at your options now as some lenders will adopt the new rules before January 1, 2018. If you have any questions, feel free to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

Thank you to Michael Hallett Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional for writing this piece.