Posts

Getting Over the Down Payment Hump

One of the largest barriers to entry into home ownership is saving enough cash for a down payment. Small every day expenses add up; and depending on the market you live in, rent may also be eating a significant portion of your income each month. You do have options; here are some ways you may be able to obtain the funds to put towards a home:

 

Save – Simple. Utilizing a Tax Free Savings Account, determine an amount to save each month that you believe is reasonable yet substantial enough to get you to your down payment goal. Set up automatic transfer into that accounts that line up with payday and bills.

Extra Income – Ever consider a side hustle or second job. Put 100% of this cash flow into your down payment.

Home Buyers Plan – Have money in your RRSP account? The Federal government will allow you to pull up to $35,000 from your RRSP account. Note, you have 15 years to return the funds back into your RRSP account.

Sell and Asset – If you have a valuable asset your willing to give up, sell it! Just make sure to establish a clear paper trail; get a receipt or signed bill of sale to legitimize the source of funds.

The Bank of Mom and Dad – This may or may not be possible. Parent may have built up some equity in their home they can access with a secured line of credit. If this is a gift, a signed gift letter stating so will be needed. If it is to be replayed, the payment must be included in your debt ratios used to qualify.

How Mortgage Brokers Get Paid

Firstly, here at Prime Mortgage Works, we do not charge any retainer or upfront fee for our services. Actually, you don’t pay any fee directly to us for our services, ever! Yes, 100% free, no pressures advise! We are licensed professionals and are governed by provincial bodies, who have you, the clients, best interest in mind.

 

The lender pays us, once your purchase or refinance has completed and you have received your mortgage funds. How do we choose which lender? We take into account many features of a mortgage and your specific needs and wants to advise on the BEST option for you.

 

But, rest assured that it is our mission to guide you through the entire financing process. We are always happy to answer any questions, anytime, whether you have just completed financing, or are three years into your term and considering accessing some of the equity in your home.

Utilizing the Equity in Your Home

Having been in your home for some time, steadily paying off you mortgage, you have subsequently been gaining equity. To access it, begins with refinancing. This is likely more accessible and at a lower cost than obtaining a loan not secured by your valuable asset – your home. For the most part, home equity loans and lines of credit hold lower interest rates and you can access up to 80% the appraised value of your home.

 

You can then utilize these funds to make investment with higher returns. You may plan to use the funds to make improvements on your home, increasing the resale price potential. Or you may plan to consolidate excising debt charging you a high interest rate, decreasing your debt load faster and increasing your monthly cash flow. Or you may want to pursue a business opportunity that will increase your future earning potential. The opportunities are plenty!

Insured, Insurable, Uninsurable?

Mortgage rate pricing is based much on insurance:

 

Insured mortgages are covered by mortgage default insurance through one of three insurers – CMHC, Genworth or Canada Guaranty. A premium is added to the mortgage amount. The amount is a percentage of the loan based on the loan to value ratio with a down payment of less than 20%. These mortgages are most favored by the banks and are reflected by the best rate offers.

 

Insurable mortgages do not necessarily require you to pay an insurance premium when you are providing a down payment larger than 20%. However, if the insurers rules allow, the lender has the option to obtain insurance them selves.

 

Uninsurable mortgages do not meet the insurers rules; such as refinances and mortgages with amortization longer than 25 years. So, no premium can be paid by either the borrower of the lender to obtain default insurance. The risk associated with these mortgages is passed onto the borrower via higher interest rates.

Refinance Plus Improvement Mortgage

A refinance plus improvements can help you finally complete those home renovations you have always wanted to do! A conventional refinance enables a homeowner to borrow up to 80% of the fair market value of their home.

So, the equity a homeowner can access would be the difference between 80% of market value and the amount they currently owe outstanding on their current mortgage. This equity can be used for improvement on the home. But what if you go out and get estimates for the total cost of the project from a contractor and this isn’t quite enough money for the renovation project?

Well, these improvements also have the added bonus of potentially increasing the value of the home! A Refinance Plus Improvements Mortgage considers the post renovation (higher) value of the home, and allows a homeowner to borrow up to 80% of this increased home value.

Get your hard hats ready, and start renovating today!

Don’t Forget About Closing Costs

You have saved enough for a down payment, found your perfect home, negotiated the purchase price and made an offer subject to financing, and have now gotten approved! You’re all set, the hard part is done, right? Not in reality, there are quite few other fees that need to be considered – closing costs.

Closing costs are often hidden and often overlooked one time expenses due on the completion date. A rule of thumb is to budget 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price to cover closing costs. However, other factor such as taxes, the type of home, or if it’s a new build can impact the amount you need to account.

Some fees that you are fairly guarantee to face:

  • Legal Fees: Your lawyer will explain all of the paperwork and make sure what you are signing is binding, legitimate, and all items agreed to have been met. In addition, you are liable to repay the lawyer for any searches, registrations, and incidentals – all due on the closing day.
  • Title Insurance: Most lenders will require title insurance as a condition to their mortgage, which protects from fraud, identity theft and forgery, municipal work orders, zoning violations and other property defects.
  • Fire/Home Insurance: Lenders also require fire/home insurance in place by the time of purchase completion, which covers replacement cost of the home.
  • Adjustments: When possession takes place mid month, and the seller has already paid fees such as taxes, utilities, and strata. So, the amount you owe is based on the portion of that month you will have possession and prorated on the date of completion.
  • Property Transfer Tax: First time home buyers are exempt if purchasing property under $500,000 and all home buyers are exempt if they are purchasing new property under $750,000. Property Transfer Tax is calculated as 1% on the first $200,000, 2% over $200,000 and 3% on any value over $2,000,000.
  • GST: Is not charged if someone has previously lived in the home, but charged on all new home purchases.

This list is not extensive, as each purchase has its own set of costs. As your broker, I make sure to explain each one and assure you are fiscally prepared.

 

 

Assessments and Appraisals

The value on an assessment notice may vary quite a bit from a mortgage or real estate appraisal. One reason for this may be the timing that the assessment was done; versus the appraisal just done reflecting the most recent value based on the current market conditions.

Home Appraisal

An appraisal provides you with a document outlining an estimate of a property’s current fair market value. Since an appraisal and an assessment are not definitively connected, most lenders will require as a condition, that an up to date appraisal be performed. Lenders use this valuation to base the size of mortgage they are comfortable lending.

Appraisers are highly regulated and provide unbiased valuations who take into consideration the property, home, location, conditions and many other external factors such as nearby amenities and access to public transportation. Some lenders will provide a list of approved appraisers they accept.

It is most often the borrower that is responsible for the cost of the appraisal, which upon completion will be sent directly to the lender. The lender is getting assurance that they are making a good investment for the value of the subject property.

Even though the borrower has paid for the appraisal, they are often now allowed to look at the report –although usually a consolidated version – until after closing. The appraiser performs the report following the parameters defined by the lender. It is the choice of the lender to allow the borrower he see the report. Reason for this strict access on the lenders part is to avoid the borrower taking the report to multiple lenders in search of the best deal.

Some lender may offer to refund the cost of appraisal after funding your mortgage.

Preparing for an Appraisal

  • Appraisals do include pictures of the exterior and interior of a property, so clean up and consider the curb appeal of your property.
  • Make sure to note all upgrades that you have done and the costs associated to assure they are not overlooked.

Look for any small repairs that may affect the value and make repairs before the appraisal is done; it is likely that the appraiser could over estimate the cost, thus having a significant effect on your value.

Downpayments

Depending on how much you have saved and whether you are being supported with a gift from the bank of mom and dad, what you are able to put towards a down payment will vary. In Canada, the minimum down payment is 5% of the purchase price, however there are also benefits to putting down over 20%.

Before the creation of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the minimum, 20% down was a major barrier to many Canadians wanting to purchase a home. To combat this barrier and encourage home ownership, CMHC began offering mortgage default insurance; if you default on your payments, they will reimburse the lender. They charge an insurance premium on mortgages offer by lenders with smaller down payment and lower interest rates. This premium, of course, covers any losses they may incur if a mortgage default does occur.

So, why put down a larger down payment? Your mortgage amount will be less, payments smaller, and less interest paid over the life of your mortgage. With a down payment over 20%, you will save money by not having to pay any mortgage insurance premiums. Between 5% and 20%, the more money down, the lower the insurance premium.

It is also important to make sure to account for closing and other unexpected costs, so completely draining your savings towards a down payment is not the best course of action.

Bank vs Credit Union Lenders

Both banks and Credit Unions are financial institutions that have similar financial offerings; however what they can offer in term s of mortgages are quite different. Banks are publicly listed and regulated by the federal government. Credit Unions on the other hand, are locally based organizations regulated by provincial government.

Because Credit unions are not regulated the federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, they are often not subject to the mortgage lending rules. Of course, Credit Unions do not come without any downside; as a result of their provincially based operations, they do not offer the ability to port a mortgage to a different province. Further, more qualification and lending flexibility may come at a price of higher interest rates.

It is important to consider your unique situation and needs and weight the pros and cons when comparing lenders.

Self Employed? Get Approved!

As a self-employed individual, taking advantage of write-offs that allow your income to be in a lower tax bracket may seem great. However, this may also hurt your ability to qualify for a mortgage. Lenders generally require two year of Tax Returns; two years Notice of Assessment; two years Financial Statement; statement of bank account activity; and investment income statement. Of note for those self-employed, Tax Returns will show a lower number than actual income, thus hindering them from qualifying based on income necessary to service the mortgage.

Our advice:

Think ahead. Two year prior to seeking a mortgage, make fewer write offs, and work to get your personal taxable income to a larger number.

Work with a certifies accountant, lender will be more inclined to consider financials prepared and submitted by a professional that will consider you financial goals of getting a mortgage.

If you want a mortgage sooner rather than later and haven’t planned for this when filing your taxes, you can use Stated Income so long as you have been in the same profession for at least two years before becoming self-employed. More documents will be required, including bank statements that prove consistent income.

Lastly, you may have to consider a B lender. B lenders will be more flexible in considering your income. Of course, this does come at a cost of a higher interest rate. But, once you have had time to increase your taxable income, in a few years, you may be able move to the A lender space.