Mortgage Intelligence

Oshawa's Mortgage News Desk!


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Fixed or Variable-Rate Mortgage?

If you are rate shopping, you’ll notice that the lowest available rate will be for a variable mortgage, which is why we’re often asked “what does variable mean and how is it different from a fixed-rate mortgage?”

With a variable mortgage, your mortgage rate will move in conjunction with your lender’s Prime lending rate, which in turn tracks the Bank of Canada’s benchmark rate, and will typically be quoted as Prime minus a specified percentage. It can be difficult to predict our economic future so you won’t know for sure what kind of rate ups and downs might be ahead of you.

With a fixed-rate mortgage, your payments are fixed for the term of the mortgage, which offers stability.  Fixed-rates are usually better suited to first-time buyers or those who haven’t owned a home for a very long period. Ask yourself these questions: Do you like or need to know exactly what your payment is going to be over a longer period of time? Do you want to avoid the need to consistently watch rates? Do you have less than 20% down? If you answered “yes” to all or most, a fixed-rate mortgage could be the better choice for you.  

A variable-rate mortgage is best suited to people who have a flexible budget and can tolerate slightly more risk. Ask yourself these questions: Do you watch market conditions? Can you handle any rate increases that could increase your payment? Do you have more than 20% equity in your home? If you answered “yes” to all or most, a variable-rate mortgage might best suit your needs. Most variables allow you to exercise an option to “lock in” a fixed rate at any time for the remaining portion of your mortgage term or longer. You can also set up your payments at what they would be if you took the higher rate, which helps you pay down your mortgage faster, and creates a financial buffer for you if rates rise later.  

If the uncertainty of a variable rate is going to give you sleepless nights, you’re in good company. Many Canadians prefer the certainty of a fixed-rate mortgage. They know exactly how much they will pay over the term of their mortgage, and they can plan accordingly… with no financial surprises. However, lower-rate variable mortgages with a strong Prime minus offer give you the potential to save a lot on interest. And, if your circumstances change and you need to get of out of your mortgage, you will appreciate the lower penalty to get out of a variable versus a fixed-rate mortgage.  

Your best option is to get professional and personalized advice. The team of experts at MiMortgage.ca would be happy to help you determine which option is best suited to your needs. Contact us at 1.866.452.1100 to speak to an expert now.


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Eight tips you won’t get from your bank in 2019

If you’ve got a mortgage – or plan to get one this year – you probably know that it’s more complicated than it used to be just a few short years ago. That said, we have many tips and strategies that can help you get the mortgage you need, tweak the one you have, or help you plan for renewal. Here are our top eight:

  1. To get the best deal, you need options. When you go to your bank, you’re talking to one lender. Their best deal might not be THE best deal. It’s also difficult to qualify at a bank if you are self-employed, have past credit issues or finding the stress test a challenge. Credit unions, alternative and private lenders are increasingly helping people get into new homes or refinance their mortgage.
  2. Best-rate quotes are often meaningless. Mortgage rule changes have thrown mortgage pricing up in the air. Your actual rate depends on a whole slate of factors, which is why you can only get an accurate rate quote after an in-depth assessment of your personal situation.
  3. The devil is in the details. People tend to focus on rate, but you can save thousands by making sure you get a mortgage that has fair penalties, allows you to prepay, and ensures you will also be treated fairly at renewal. Don’t end up paying exorbitant fees, or be forced to take a high rate at renewal.
  4. An insured mortgage might be a smart move. If your mortgage is “uninsured” and you want to switch to a new lender for a better rate at renewal, that lender will qualify you using a “stress test”, which may affect your ability to move your mortgage, and giving your lender no incentive to offer you the best rates. It’s possible that you can switch your mortgage to a lower-rate insurable mortgage that has more flexibility.
  5. A 30-year amortization can give you wiggle room on cash flow. A longer amortization (20% or more in equity required) allows you to minimize your mortgage payments and free up cash flow for uses like investing, business needs, post-secondary education, maternity leave, home maintenance, or other life situations.  You can keep your payments at a shorter amortization and only use this flexibility if the need arises.
  6. Monitor your credit score. The best rates go to borrowers with the best credit scores. Lenders are also paying closer attention to any warning signals that clients may have trouble paying their mortgage. If your credit slips and your lender feels your risk has increased, you may be offered a higher rate at renewal.
  7. A rental suite can be a sweet mortgage helper. A home with a rental suite could help you buy a single-family home instead of a condo, get you into that neighbourhood you love, or help you offset mortgage payments in the house you’re in so you can become mortgage free sooner or have the freedom to channel money into other areas.
  8. Plug your biggest money leak. If debt is choking your cash flow and you have enough equity in your home, you may be able to move that debt to your lower-rate mortgage and save thousands. Using home equity to pay down debt is one of my specialties!

It’s a New year. A New chance to make sure your mortgage strategy is working for you and helping you build wealth. Get in touch with the experts at MiMortgage.ca for a review of your situation.  Contact us at 1.866.452.1100 to speak to an expert now!


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Financial comfort & joy!

Contact the team at MiMortgage.ca at 866.452.1100 to speak to an expert now!


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Fixed or Variable-Rate Mortgage?

If you are rate shopping, you’ll notice that the lowest available rate will be for a variable mortgage, which is why we are often asked “what does variable mean and how is it different from a fixed-rate mortgage?”

With a variable mortgage, your rate will move in conjunction with your lender’s Prime lending rate, which in turn tracks the Bank of Canada’s rate, and will typically be quoted as Prime minus a specified percentage. Unless you have an economic ouija board, you won’t be able to predict what kind of rate ups and downs might be ahead of you.

With a fixed-rate mortgage, your payments are fixed for the term of the mortgage, which offers stability. Fixed-rates are usually better suited to first-time buyers or those who haven’t owned a home for a very long period. Ask yourself these questions: Do you like or need to know exactly what your payment is going to be over a longer period of time? Do you want to avoid the need to watch rates? Do you have less than 20% down? If you answered “yes” to all or most, a fixed-rate mortgage could be the better choice for you.

A variable-rate mortgage is best suited to people who have a flexible budget and can tolerate slightly more risk. Ask yourself these questions: Do you watch market conditions? Can you handle any rate increases that could increase your payment? Do you have more than 20% equity in your home? If you answered “yes” to all or most, a variable-rate mortgage might best suit your needs. Most variables allow you to exercise an option to “lock in” a fixed rate at any time for the remaining portion of your mortgage term or longer. You can also set up your payments at what they would be if you took the higher rate, which helps you pay down your mortgage faster, and creates a financial buffer for you if rates rise later.

If the uncertainty of a variable rate is going to give you sleepless nights, you’re in good company. Many Canadians prefer the certainty of a fixed-rate mortgage. They know exactly how much they will pay over the term of their mortgage, and they can plan accordingly… with no financial surprises. However, lower-rate variable mortgages with a strong Prime minus offer give you the potential to save a lot on interest. And, if your circumstances change and you need to get of out of your mortgage, you will appreciate the lower penalty to get out of a variable versus a fixed-rate mortgage.

Your best option is to get professional and personalized advice. The team at MiMortgage.ca would be happy to help you determine which option is best suited to your needs. Contact us at 1.866.452.1100 to speak to an expert now.


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Why Variable Rate drops are creating a surge in activity

This Spring we’re seeing lenders getting aggressive with their pricing for variable rate mortgages: a sign that lenders are fighting for market share, making it a great time to be shopping for a mortgage!

First a reminder of the difference between fixed vs variable.  Fixed rates are often well suited to first-time buyers or those who haven’t owned a home for long because they want to know with absolute certainty what their payment will be for a set number of years.  A variable mortgage has an interest rate that will move in conjunction with your lender’s Prime rate, which in turn tracks the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate, and will be expressed as “prime minus x percent.”  If the Bank of Canada raises or lowers its rate, then you’ll likely see that reflected in your mortgage payment.

Right now, lenders are shaving off those variable rate mortgage offers: creating some of the best rates we’ve seen in many months. Consider the advantages:

  1. Save big on interest. It’s true that your payments could go up if the Bank of Canada’s rate starts to move up. But it would have to go WAY up to wipe out the savings you’d get from some of the current deep “prime minus” variables being offered right now.
  2. Build a buffer. You can set up your payments at what they would be if you took the higher fixed rate, which helps you pay down your mortgage faster, and creates a financial buffer for you if rates rise later.
  3. Easier to get out. If your circumstances change and you need to get out of your mortgage – a situation that happens more frequently than people anticipate — you will appreciate the lower penalty to get out of a variable vs a fixed mortgage. You could save thousands!
  4. Lock in later. Most variables allow you to exercise an option to “lock in” a fixed rate at any time for the remaining portion of your mortgage term or longer.

We’ve even got clients breaking their existing mortgages to take advantage of this sudden crop of very low variable rates being offered right now.

However variable rates are not for everyone. But the possibility of big savings is out there right now, and it won’t last forever. Get in touch with the team at MiMortgage.ca at 1.866.452.1100 and we can review the numbers to see if it’s something you should be taking advantage of.


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What is the Qualifying Rate?

You’re probably aware that there have been many mortgage rule changes over the last several years, and you’re almost certainly affected whether you’re an existing homeowner or first-time buyer. These rules are designed to ensure a sable long-term housing market, and to make sure Canadians can handle their debt should rates begin to rise.

As a result of the rule changes, lenders must ensure that you can handle payments at a certain qualifying rate. That rate will vary depending if your mortgage is high ratio (less than 20% equity/downpayment), or conventional (more than 20% equity/downpayment). The qualifying rate will be higher than the rate of your actual mortgage: a situation that some may find frustrating. But rest assured that your actual payments will be based on the lower mortgage contract rate that we negotiate for you.

Qualifying Rate for High Ratio Mortgages

The Department of Finance introduced the qualifying rate for high ratio mortgages in 2010. The high-ratio qualifying rate is a 5-year rate published every week by the Bank of Canada. The Bank surveys the six major banks’ posted 5-year rates every Wednesday and uses a mode average of those rates to set the official benchmark rate. Your lender is required to use this rate to calculate debt service ratios when reviewing mortgage applications for all insured high-ratio mortgages.

Qualifying Rate for Conventional Mortgages

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) implemented a new “stress test” or qualifying rate for conventional mortgages that went into effect January 1, 2018.  This requires federally regulated lenders to qualify all new conventional mortgages at whichever rate is higher: the benchmark rate (described above), or your actual contracted mortgage rate plus 2%.  An interesting outcome is that this qualifying rate is often higher than the rate used when qualifying high-ratio mortgages where there is less equity or downpayment.

Why the difference? One reason is simply because these rules were implemented by two different government bodies.

While mortgages have become more complex, this doesn’t mean that Canadians can’t get into their dream homes, consolidate debt, take out equity, or buy a second property. It just means that if you have an upcoming new mortgage need, we should discuss your plans as early as possible. We have access to many lenders that aren’t federally regulated and strategies that you can employ to improve your credit and ensure you are in the best situation possible when you need financing. We are here to help you so please get in touch with the experts at MiMortgage.ca at any time.


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Six reasons why a second mortgage can be a smart move

Every month, you put money against your mortgage. Over the years, thanks to all those payments (and a healthy increase in home values), you’ve built up some equity. Way to go! Sometimes, we want to be able to tap into that equity. But new mortgage rules have made it harder to refinance a mortgage. No surprise, then, that we’re seeing a jump in second mortgage financing. Here are six reasons why a second mortgage might be a smart move for you too:

  1. A second mortgage can be a great way to access available equity without having to break your first mortgage.
  2. Ability in some cases to refinance up to 85 per cent loan to value.
  3. Second mortgage interest rates can be significantly less than credit cards. You can use the second mortgage to pay off your high-interest credit card debt, which will clean up any bruised credit and get you in a better position to qualify for the best rates later.
  4. Ability to use this lower-cost financing as you see fit – pay off debt, renovations, cash flow for your business, an investment, tuition, wedding, trip, or other major expenditure.
  5. That second mortgage can help you complete your purchase if your downpayment is a little short of what you need.
  6. A second mortgage is often easier to qualify for than a secured line of credit.

The value you’ve built up in your home is a wealth-building tool, and usually the best place to borrow funds when you need them. That’s why – for a growing number of financially savvy Canadians – a second mortgage can be a smart move! Get in touch with an expert at MiMortgage.ca to find out if this is the way forward for you.