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 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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5 Surprising Facts & Money Saving Tips

There’s something about September that signals a fresh start. It’s a perfect time to get serious about saving money on your mortgage. So get out your notebook: here are five surprising mortgage facts that can save you money over the long term!

Fact #1: Your credit score matters even more
Lenders are beginning to review client files prior to renewal, which means if your credit score has slipped, you may be offered a higher rate at renewal, even if you have never missed a payment. Regardless of where you are in your mortgage term, it is very important to always pay your bills on time, use only 30% of your credit limits, and monitor your credit score regularly.

Fact #2: Refinancing is still one of the best ways to get debt under control
If you’re holding too much high-interest debt and you have enough equity, consolidating all of it into a low-interest mortgage can save you thousands in interest, lower your monthly payments, boost your cash flow, and eliminate the stress of multiple debt payments. It can also improve your credit score!

Fact #3: Interest-only mortgages are once again available for those with more than 20% equity in their homes
While not a product for everyone, this can be a great financial strategy for those who want to minimize their mortgage payments to free up cash flow for other uses like investing, business needs, post-secondary education, maternity leave or other life situations. Lump sum payments can be made when the time is right for principal paydown.

Fact #4: Variable mortgages are popular
While fixed rates are higher today than they were a year ago, many lenders are offering exceptionally low rates on their variable rate mortgages. In addition to offering the ability to save on interest, a variable mortgage can be significantly less expensive if you need to get out of your mortgage later.

Fact #5: Insured mortgages get the best rates
If your mortgage is not insured, it’s possible that you weren’t eligible for the best rates available at that time. Some uninsured mortgages can now be switched at renewal to a new lender that will offer an insurable rate, a move that could offer huge savings. Not sure if your mortgage is insured or not? We can find that out for you.

If you have any questions about your current mortgage strategy, are thinking of refinancing, or getting closer to renewal, get in touch. We’re here to help you, your family and friends understand which mortgage facts are the most important at any given time. Contact the team at MiMortgage.ca at 1.866.452.1100 to speak to an expert or apply now.


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How to get a kitchen with your new mortgage

Canadians know that a smart home renovation can both increase their property value, and improve the way they live in their home. Putting a renovation on your high-interest credit card can wipe out the value you’re adding, and create months – or years – of financial stress. Good news, there is a better way. You may be able to get that new kitchen (or bathroom, backyard etc.) through your mortgage, typically your most cost-effective way to finance. Here’s how we can help:

PURCHASE Plus Improvements: Perfect for those looking at buying a fixer-upper, a Purchase Plus Improvements Mortgage covers the sale price of the home, plus the cost of any renovations that will increase the value of the property, up to $40,000. Then you can look at financing up to 95% of this future post-reno value. If you’ve found a house with “great bones” that can be renovated into the home of your dreams, then this is the mortgage that can make those dreams come true.

REFINANCE Plus Improvements: Tailor-made for those that don’t have enough equity to refinance, the Refinance Plus Improvements Mortgage allows you to finance up to 80% of the improved value of your home once the up to $40,000 in home improvement renovations are completed. Your lender will advance the total mortgage, pay off your existing mortgage, and instruct the solicitor to hold back the amount for the improvements. Once the lender is satisfied the renos are complete, the solicitor is instructed to release the funds for the renos. There are options we can discuss for carrying your expenditures until the funds are released. Should you have more than 20% equity in your current home, you may be able to simply do a conventional refinance and take out the equity you need.

It’s almost always better to protect your savings, keep large expenses off your credit card, and simply access funds through your mortgage. The team at MiMortgage.ca can even help structure a mortgage with features to help you pay your project off faster – for more savings. There are several steps required to complete these types of mortgages and our experts would be happy to review the process with you. Let’s make your dream a reality!

 


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Wow. All these mortgage renewals!

Is your mortgage coming up for renewal this year? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, there’s an unprecedented spike in the number of mortgages renewing in 2018! If you’re one of them, then you’ve got a perfect opportunity to potentially save thousands of dollars. Get in touch with the team at MiMortgage.ca at 1.866.452.1100 to speak to an expert now. Together we can review what your current lender is offering, and also look at the marketplace to see if it makes sense for you to take your mortgage elsewhere.


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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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Low-Interest Credit Card for Homeowners.

9.9% interest plus earn reward points! If you typically carry a credit card balance, you can reduce your interest by 50% or more with our Centra Gold Card. By paying less interest each month, you can work towards becoming debt free sooner. Plus you earn reward points that translate into 1% cash back on your purchases.* Let’s discuss how this card can help you save money during your mortgage years and keep your credit sharp! Contact the team at MiMortgage.ca at 1 866 452-1100 for more information.

*REWARDS: Eligibility for rewards and/or account credit is subject to the terms and conditions of the Collabria MySelect Rewards and Cash Rewards programs. For full terms and conditions, visit http://www.collabriacreditcards.ca/webres/File/Rewards Terms/RTC-0415-FCG – MySelect Rewards Terms and Conditions.pdf. The Collabria Mastercard is issued by Collabria Financial Services Inc. pursuant to a license from Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard and the Mastercard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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For 2018: Ten mortgage tips you won’t get from your bank

More new mortgage rules come into effect January 1, which will make it trickier to negotiate a mortgage for many Canadians. But with a little expert advice, we can help ensure you have a happy new year that keeps you on the path to prosperity for the coming year and beyond.

  1. That “best” 5-year rate? It probably isn’t. Fact is, a “best rate quote” is now meaningless, because mortgage pricing is now based on multiple factors. Everything depends on your personal situation. That’s why we start with an in-depth assessment, and then review a broad range of lenders and products for the best fit for you.
  2. Going variable and long may pay off. If you have over 20% equity, you may want to consider a 30-year amortization mortgage. Benefits can be significant and outweigh any rate premium – more purchasing power, easier mortgage qualifying, and lower payments to boost cash flow or to allow you to divert cash to build a savings buffer or use for investing. Taking a variable-rate mortgage could also improve your mortgage qualifying, then you can lock in later. Let’s discuss if these strategies might work for you.
  3. The devil is in the details. You can save thousands by making sure you get a mortgage that has a fair prepayment penalty and will also treat you fairly at renewal. Don’t end up paying exorbitant fees or be forced to take a high rate at renewal. Look deeper than rate.
  4. High-ratio insurance costs more, except when it doesn’t. While counter intuitive, lenders offer the best rates to borrowers who need mortgage insurance because they have less than 20% down. So even if you have more than 20% down and don’t need mortgage insurance, it may actually be worth purchasing. You’ll get a lower rate and better options at renewal. We can run the numbers and see if it makes sense for you.
  5. At renewal, insured mortgages are gold. Lenders love insured mortgages. If you have one, be sure to check out the competitive landscape at renewal. If you aren’t sure if your mortgage is insured or not, we can find out.
  6. No company paycheque? Start building your case. If you are self-employed, get in touch now for advice on mortgage planning for the future. We will advise you on what documentation and information you’ll need so that we can build a strong case on your behalf for lenders.
  7. Does a collateral mortgage make sense? A bank collateral mortgage is registered for more than the value of the home at closing. It can be difficult to transfer and you may find yourself locked in with that bank. Always get a second opinion!
  8. Let renters help pay your mortgage. A home with a rental suite could help you become a homeowner in that neighbourhood you love, or help you offset mortgage payments in the house you’re in.
  9. Keep good credit habits. The best rates go to borrowers with the best credit scores. Keep up good credit habits: pay your bills on time, never let your debt exceed more than 30% of your limit, and don’t be tempted to apply for store cards “to save on your purchase today”.
  10. Let’s keep a dialogue going. Wherever you are in your homeownership journey, a great conversation at any time can identify all the ways you can save thousands of dollars in interest and fees during your mortgage years.

New year. New rules. New chance to review your mortgage and wealth-building options. Get in touch with the experts at MiMortgage.ca at 1 866 452-1100 now, for a review of your situation.