Pre-Approvals & Pre-Qualifications

Mortgage Advice Mustapha Maynard 30 Jan

Throughout the mortgage and home buying process, there are many steps and many checkpoints a buyer will need to complete before they can move on to the next one. A buyer will not be able to close on a purchase if they do not have a lawyer. Financing conditions need to be lifted after confirmation from a mortgage broker that a file is broker complete. A buyer should never write an offer on a home until they have a realtor working for them. Most importantly, a buyer should never be looking at property they are considering buying until they have been pre-qualified and pre-approved.

Now, one thing we need to make clear- pre-qualified and pre-approved are two different things. Pre-qualified is when someone completes a mortgage application with a mortgage broker or a bank representative and is told how much they can afford. Pre-approved is when someone has written confirmation from a lender stating they are willing to lend based on what is stated in an application and the applicant’s current credit history.

The difference?

Pre-qualifications are based solely on the knowledge and experience (sometimes even opinion) of a broker or bank rep. A pre-approval on the other hand is backed by the lender actually willing to give you the money. When someone says they are pre-qualified, that means they have taken an application with a mortgage broker or bank and in broker or bank rep’s opinion, they can afford “x” amount on a home. A pre-approval is a written letter from a lender stating based on applicants current credit history, declared income on application and current assets, we will lend “x” amount pending confirmation everything stated in the application is verifiable and the property meets all lender requirements.

As you can probably tell, one can be more reliable than the other, especially if you are working with a mortgage broker or bank rep that is inexperienced in the industry. Pre-approvals also usually come with a rate hold. What a rate hold does is guarantee you the interest rates that lender is offering today for a certain amount of time (usually 120 days), and if you put an offer on a place within that time period, they will give you that previous rate even if they went up. If rates go down, they will allow you to access the lower interest rate as well.

You must always get yourself pre-qualified before you begin looking at homes so you know what you can afford. Once you have and you are actively looking, it is very important you try and get a pre-approval before you write an offer. It will give you that extra confirmation your application is acceptable, and protect you against interest rate increases while you look.

If you require a pre-qualification, pre-approval, or want to speak with someone about your current situation, please give a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional a call.

FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS!!

General Mustapha Maynard 29 Jan

Your First Home. What a THRILLING thing that is to think about!! One of the best parts about our job is helping individuals purchase their first home. We know that the process can seem daunting at first, but we have an in-depth understanding and knowledge of what steps are required to make the process go smoothly. Follow these and you will be turning the key into your new home before you know it.

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1. Find a Fantastic Mortgage Broker
Finding a mortgage broker who can help with your pre-approval process can allow you to determine the price point of home you can really afford. Finding a mortgage broker right off the bat can also give you an advantage over working with your bank:

  • Mortgage Brokers work for you, not the bank or lender
  • They have access to multiple lenders and are not limited to one single product
  • They are an expert in the field. They focus on mortgages and mortgages alone!

2. Get Comfortable With The Numbers
There are two numbers that all first-time homebuyers should keep in mind: 39 and 44. These two numbers can help you budget and determine what you can truly afford when looking to purchase a home. Why 39 and 44? Here’s why:

  • A maximum of 39% of your total income can go towards your housing costs. This will cover your mortgage payment, property tax payment, heating costs, and strata fees.
  • A maximum of 44% of your total income can go towards your housing costs and total debt payments. This will include ALL housing costs and all debt repayments (credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc.)

Now, here are a few other key numbers that can help you in your house hunting:

3. Know What Your Down Payment Needs to Be
You know the numbers, now let’s look at what you need to know about the down payment itself. First, if you have less than 20% down payment your mortgage will be insured and have insurance premiums added to your mortgage. If you are considering putting the minimum down, that would be 5% if the property is worth $500,000 or less. A down payment of 10% is required for any amount over $500,000. Here’s a quick example of what this looks like:

Purchase Price of $600,000

5% of $500,000                                   $25,000

10% of $100,000                                             $10,000

Total Down Payment:                                   $35,000

4. Take Advantage of The RRSP Home Buyers Plan
The Canadian government’s Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) allows for first time home buyers to borrow up to $25,000 from you RRSP for a d own payment, tax-free! You are able to combine this with your partner if you are both first time home buyers you can both access the $25,000 from your RRSP for a combined total of $50,000. Certain qualifications do apply for you to use this plan, we have laid them out here for you to review.

5. Don’t Forget About the Closing Costs!
This is one so many people overlook! Closing costs are something that can add up quickly when you are purchasing a home. Here is an approximate breakdown of the funds you will need:

  • Legal Costs: $1000
  • Title Insurance: $200
  • Appraisal: $350
  • Property Transfer Tax: Pending on purchase price

An additional few facts on property tax for you to consider:

This is an approximation of what your closing costs may be, but it is always good to budget for them beforehand.

6. Have your Documents Ready to Roll
Mortgages = paperwork! There are a number of documents that you will need to have to give to your mortgage broker. This will vary depending on your employment situation and where your down payment is coming from, but here is a general list you can follow:

  • Most Recent paystub
  • Letter of Employment
  • NOA’s (2 years)
  • T4’s (2 years)
  • Down payment verification—up to 3 months of bank statements
  • Contract of Purchase and Sale (Your realtor will provide this)
  • Property Disclosure Statement (Realtor will provide)
  • if you are self-employed you may also have to show:
    o T1 Generals
    o Articles of Incorporation
    o Financial Statements

7. Start Working on Your Credit Score
Yes, your credit score does directly impact your ability to get a mortgage. Lender’s want to see that you can responsibly manage credit and debt repayment before loaning you a large sum of money to purchase a home. Your credit score will be a determining factor in the terms and rate associated with your mortgage.

Just what impacts your credit score? Good question! Here are a few things:

  • Late payments will lower your score
  • Collections, judgements, consumer proposals, bankruptcy this will lower your score
  • Exceeded limits on credit cards
  • Ideally, you will be able to show a minimum of 2 active and current trade lines
  • The longer your trade line is, the better increase in your score!
  • Lenders also like to see a minimum of $2,000 limit on your credit cards.

Understanding and using this knowledge can help make your first home buying experience a great one! Once you have gone through the pre-approval process with a mortgage broker the fun part begins! Upon you receiving your preapproval, you can begin the house hunting. From there, you can put an offer on your dream home (yay!) Once your offer is accepted, we go through the mortgage process with you and then it’s moving day for you!

This is an exciting time for first time homebuyers—we enjoy getting to help our clients go from start to finish and helping them get the keys to their first ever home. If you have questions or are looking to find out just how much you will qualify for you can check out our mortgage calculator OR you can reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional directly!

The Tale of The Forgotten Money Great Read!

General Mustapha Maynard 22 Jan

Ever wonder what happens to bank accounts that are inactive, forgotten about and left unclaimed? The answer to that question is that you probably haven’t. I know the thought of it never really crossed my mind and I bet that would be the case for most Canadians.

My initial thought was “Seriously? Who forgets they have money or investments sitting at a bank?” However, the numbers actually speak for themselves and I bet you will be a bit blown away.

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At any given time, the Bank of Canada holds approximately $740 million of unclaimed money. You read that right….

$740 MILLION!!

This is money that at one time was held in a Canadian Financial Institution and went unclaimed. Those funds are eventually transferred to the Bank of Canada for safe keeping. The number caught my attention, so I did some digging.

It is not uncommon for funds to go unclaimed and when you think about it, it makes sense. Maybe there was a death and family members did not have a full picture of their loved one’s financial holdings or maybe there was no family to step in. Maybe there was a volunteer group, organization or business that had funds sitting somewhere, but they ceased operations and these accounts were lost or forgotten about.

Here are the highlights on what happens to the money.

  • When an account or investment remains inactive for a period of 10 years and reasonable efforts have been made to contact the rightful owner, those funds are then transferred to the Bank of Canada at the end of the year.
  • The Bank of Canada then takes control over those funds. Interest is earned and paid on the funds held over the next 10 years or until the funds are claimed by the rightful owner or beneficiary.
  • The Bank of Canada retains those funds for 30 years if the balance is less than $1,000.
  • If the balance is greater than $1,000 then the Bank of Canada retains those funds for 100 years!
  • If the funds are not collected by the rightful owner (that includes estates or beneficiaries) within those designated time frames listed above, then funds become the property of the Receiver General of Canada.

Here is the good news! The Bank of Canada has an online database that you can search and its quite simple to use. The data base retains any funds that have yet to be collected and remain in their possession. Once a claim has been made, approved and a payout processed, that information is removed from the data base. Therefore, when you search the database anything that shows up is still in the possession of the Bank of Canada. The Data base shows the account owners name, the institution the funds came from along with branch address (if available), and the amount being held by the Bank of Canada. A simple search I conducted showed balances as low as $2.00 up to $10,000-plus.

If you have some time, CLICK HERE and take a few minutes to search the names of your loved ones that have previously passed away, see what comes up. If you run a business or community organization, search those as well. Just remember that the funds will not show up in this database until the original account has been inactive for less than 10 years. For more information about the database and how to process a claim, CLICK HERE to visit the database information page on the Bank of Canada’s website.

7 things every self-employed individual should know — Before you apply for a mortgage

General Mustapha Maynard 21 Jan

Self-employed individuals are quickly becoming one of the most common clients that we handle. Daily we have successful business owners come into our offices who enjoy the perks of being an entrepreneur. One of these includes fantastic write-offs that allow them to bring their income down to a low tax bracket.

However, this benefit can also mean that the same business owner may have a hard time qualifying for a mortgage all because their income is significantly reduced on paper… how frustrating ‘eh? But these savvy business owners know that there is advanced planning that is involved in being able to qualify for conventional financing. Back in 2015, Statistics Canada reported that there were about 2.7 million people self-employed in Canada… which is an astounding 14% of the total population of Canada! What does that stat mean? Two things:

 

1. That being self-employed is a more than viable way of earning income in today’s world.
2. That 14% may not fit into the conventional lending “box”

The Conventional Lending Box
To fit into this box, self-employed individuals must meet certain qualifications. For example, they must be able to provide:
>Two most recent years of personal tax returns
>Two most current years Notice of Assessments
>Two most current years financial statements
>Statement of Bank Account Activity
>Investment Income Statement
>Photo ID

Now, the one area that raises a red flag in the above is the tax returns. As we previously mentioned, their income claimed on the return itself might be significantly different than their actual income. Tax deductions related to business often reflect meals, rental spaces, credit card interest etc. The result is that the income the self-employed business owner shows on their tax return is a significantly lower figure than what their actual take home pay is. However, the conventional lending box requires income to justify the mortgage. So how do we pull this off?

The Unconventional Lending Box
Now please keep in mind that “unconventional” in this box just means that as a self-employed individua,l you are going to work with a Mortgage Broker to find an alternative to allow you to show that you can justify the mortgage. There are several well-known and consistently used pieces of advice that we would like to pass along to you:

1. If you are organized and planning (think 2 years out) you can plan to write off fewer expenses in the two years leading up to the property purchase. Yes, you will pay more personal taxes. However, your income will be higher, and it will be easier to qualify you for the mortgage amount you are seeking.
2. Set up your finances through a certified accountant. Many lenders want to see self-employed income submitted through a professional rather than doing it yourself. The truth is that the time you spend doing your own taxes will not be nearly as efficient both financially and time-wise as a professional. Make sure that you discuss with them what your goals are so that they can set up your taxes properly for you!
3. Choose your timing carefully. If you are leaving for an extended holiday within the two years before purchasing, your two-year average income may fluctuate. Plan your vacations and extended trips away with income in mind.
4. Consider using Stated Income. You have the option to state your income. This is based on you being in the same profession for 2+ years before being self-employed. The lender looks at the industry and researches the mean income of someone in that profession and with your experience. You will be required to provide additional documents such as bank statements, showing consistent deposits and other documentation may be asked of you to show your income.
5. Avoid Bankruptcy at all cost…. or if you do declare bankruptcy have all your discharge papers on hand to present to the lender and ensure you have two years of re-established your credit.
6. Mortgage Brokers can state income with lenders at the best discounted rates. But if you do not qualify with A lenders using stated income, then a broker will work with you to utilize a B Lender who are more lenient but may come with higher interest rates and applicable lending and broker fees.
7. Last but not least, if A or B lenders don’t fit, private financing can be looked at as an alternative option in order to get you into the market and offer a short-term solution to improve credit or top up your reporting income. Then you and your broker can refinance into an A or B lender at that time. Just keep in mind that private lending will have a higher rate associated with it , with lender and broker fees added on as well, if you choose to go with this option.

So, to all of our self-employed, hard-working, determined individuals, take heart! You can qualify for the mortgage you want, it just takes a little more planning to get everything in order. Keep in mind to that every lender has different guidelines as to how they view self-employment. Working with a Dominion Lending Centres broker leading up to your property purchase can help you ensure you get the mortgage you want.