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But They Said It Was Portable…

The question most often asked: ‘Is my mortgage portable?’

The answer most often given: ‘Yes.’

This answer is increasingly wrong.

In reality you qualify to move ~80% of the balance… maybe.

If you are thinking of:

  • Moving (upsizing or downsizing)
  • Locking a variable-rate mortgage into a fixed-rate product

… you would be well served to keep reading.

The above question is incomplete. To be fair, you would have no way of knowing this. The person answering it should know better than to give you a one-word answer.

The proper question: ‘Do I need to re-qualify for my current mortgage to move to a new home?’

The proper answer: ‘Yes, your mortgage is portable, but only if you re-qualify under today’s new and more stringent guidelines.’

The person answering the portability question should only be your mortgage specialist. They alone can answer the question accurately, and only with a complete and updated application, along with all supporting documents to confirm the maximum mortgage amount under current guidelines.

Too many clients learn this lesson the hard way. They sell their existing property before speaking with their Mortgage Broker, and in some cases they also enter binding purchase agreements under the mistaken assumption they can just port their mortgage.

Key Point – Do not ask if your mortgage is portable (99% of them are). Ask if you currently qualify to move your mortgage to a new property.

Key Point – The federal government has created a dynamic in which there are two different qualifying rates for mortgage approvals. And the one used yesterday to get you into a five-year fixed rate mortgage is not always the same one that is used if you want to move that same mortgage to a new home down the street, even just one day later.

Key Point – One day into your five-year fixed mortgage, you are now subject to the stress test. In a nutshell, the stress test applies the higher qualifying rate and effectively reduces your maximum mortgage approval by ~20%.

Meaning that you may only be able to port 80% of the current balance to another property… just one day later.

So, what’s the fix?

The best fix – The government could add a simple sentence to their lending guidelines along the lines of ‘If a borrower qualified for their mortgage at the five-year contract rate at inception, then the borrower shall be allowed to re-qualify at that original rate when moving their mortgage to a new home.’

Currently this fix does not exist.

The current fix – Well it’s no big deal at all. You simply pay a penalty to break your current five-year fixed mortgage and then apply for a new five-year fixed mortgage. Said penalty amount? Typically, around 4.5% of the mortgage balance – i.e., a $14,000 penalty on a $300,000 mortgage balance.

Seems reasonable, right?

It’s entirely unreasonable. This is a horrible ‘fix’, because it is not a fix at all. If you bought with 5% down, and then a few months later were transferred to another province and had no choice but to move, this represents your entire down payment vanishing due to an oversight by the federal regulators.

If you have been personally caught in this ‘portability trap,’ it felt more like total devastation than it did ‘anecdotal’. And by all means you should make your voice heard. Share your story with via www.tellyourmp.ca


Where are Canadian Mortgage Rates Going in 2018?

2017 was a year of change for the Canadian Mortgage Market. With the announcement of the B-20 guideline changes requiring all insured or uninsured mortgages to undergo stress testing. In addition, the removal of mortgage bundling and the continued rate rises from the Bank of Canada have led to significant changes in mortgage rates.

This raises the question: what does 2018 hold? While we cannot be 100% certain, based on predictions and summarizing stats from various corporations, we are able to put together a strong prediction of what 2018 will hold.

The Real Estate Market

As a whole, the Canadian real estate market is expected to see a 5.3% drop in national sales due in large part to the new OSFI guidelines (CREA). With this, there is an expectation of minimal growth for home prices at just 1.9% vs. the 8.5% gain seen in 2017. This is due again to the heightened stress testing procedures.

In addition, the sales of condos and townhomes are expected to increase with new developments of multifamily complexes reaching an all-time high, and the demand for smaller, more affordable houses increasing.

So, what does that mean for home prices? CMHC predicts that the average home price is to increase from a range of $493,900-$511,300 in 2017 to a range of $499,400-$524,500 by 2019.

Essentially, the market is going through a period of increased demand for condos and townhomes, leading to potential price increases. In relation to the detached home market, there will be slight price increases, but nothing compared to the growth that was seen in 2016-2017. There is an ongoing trend for homebuyers based in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley to contentedly sit by the sidelines as they save up for a larger down payment before purchasing-further increasing condo ownership and driving demand for rental properties as well.

The Economy

The Canadian Economy has been growing and surging forward through most of 2017. In the four quarters from the second half of 2016 to the first half of 2017, the Canadian Economy grew on average each quarter by 3.6%. Further, despite a slight slowdown in the second half of 2017, there was a rise in employment Canada wide, posting the annual real GDP growth over 3% in 2017. It was a substantial year for the Canadian economy in 2017 and this growth was directly seen in the real estate and housing market.

As many are aware, to stabilize the economy and ensure balance remains, the Bank of Canada began raising interest rates in 2017 and has plans to continue to do so in 2018. This rise in interest rates serves to steadily and slowly stunt the growth of the economy in Canada. Coupled with the ongoing trade disputes, the Canadian economy is forecasted to slow overall, but will still post an above-trend 2.2% of growth in 2018.

The Mortgage Market

So, what does all of the above mean for the mortgage industry and its rates? Well, with the predicted increase in rates from the Bank of Canada it is safe to say that the mortgage rates will follow.

CMHC summarized that the expected interest rate increase over the near-term horizon will bump the posted 5-year mortgage rate to lie within 4.9% and 5.7% in 2018. For 2019 that number increases to 5.2%-6.2% range*

In layman’s terms, the rates are likely to continue to rise alongside the Bank of Canada’s increases. It is important to keep in mind that with planning and budgeting these rates can easily be taken on by the average consumer. A key thing to keep in mind is that a 0.25% rate increase works out to only $13.00/100k increase in your payment. Another fact is that every lender is different in how they will calculate this change. Your mortgage product is unique and may be affected differently than another.

Since the new changes have rolled out there has been a slight decline in consumer demand. As the changes continue to take effect and the potential for more rate increases continues, it becomes more apparent we will continue to see a shift in the mortgage and real estate market.

However, by choosing to work with a mortgage broker who has an in-depth understanding of the changes in the market, you will find the right product to suit your needs at a competitive rate.


Refinancing in 2018

Recently there were changes to the mortgage rules yet again, and one of the rule changes was regarding refinancing your home. At one point in the last 10 years you could refinance your home all the way back up to 95% of its current value, which in many cases has put that property what we call under water or upside down. Basically, real estate markets ebb and flow and if you refinanced to 95% when we were at the crest of a market wave then as markets rolled back you were underwater… clever huh.

Fast forward a few years and the government said ‘what a minute, that is dangerous’, and it was. Clients now had no options for that property except to keep it, hoping values came back or turn it into a rental and hope to break even. At this point the government now said you can only refinance your home to 80% of the value which of course meant you needed to have equity in the property of at least 20% to make a change. This was an insurable product for many of our monoline lenders at this point, so it was something that was competitive in the market.

Welcome to 2018 and today you can still refinance your home to 80% but the Office of the Superintendents of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and CMHC now say that as a lender you can no longer insure this product. What does that mean for the average consumer? First off, it means that lenders across the board are not offering the same rate for insured mortgages as they are for refinances. The point spread between insured and uninsured mortgages has grown to, on average, .30% higher for 5-year fixed rates and it is .55% higher for variable rates.

To add to this extra cost, the new rules of qualifying at 5.14% which is currently the benchmark rate, applies to all mortgages including refinancing. Overall, the changes make it tougher to refinance and forces Canadians to seek alternative options to take equity out of their homes. In many cases this will mean looking to the private sector at higher rates when they need that money. If you have any questions about refinancing, contact us for a no-charge, no-obligation consultation.


Making Smarter Down Payments

Mortgage Insurance Premiums. Many people know what they are- an extra cost to you the borrower. But not many people realize how they are calculated. Understanding the premium charges and how they are calculated will help lead you to making smarter down payments.

  • 5%- 9.99% down payment of a purchase price is a 4% premium
  • 10%- 14.99% down payment of a purchase price is a 3.10% premium
  • 15%- 19.99% down payment of a purchase price is a 2.8% premium

So, that means with a $300,000 purchase price and a $30,000 down payment (10%), you would have a 3.10% premium added to your mortgage, making your total mortgage amount $270,000 + $8,370 for $278,370 total. The $8,370 being 3.10% of your original $270,000 mortgage.

Now let’s say you have a down payment potential of $60,000 and have the income to afford a $350,000 purchase price but you found one for $325,000. Using your entire $60,000 down payment (18.46%), your new mortgage amount would be $272,420, where $7,420 of it represents the mortgage insurance premium.

But what if you change that $60,000 (18.46% down payment) to say $48,750 and have a down payment of exactly 15%? Well, your premium is still the exact same as it would be with an 18.46% down payment because your premium is still 2.8% of the mortgage amount. That means you will now save $11,250 (difference in down payments), while only paying $7,735 in premiums (an increase of $315).

I don’t know about you, but if someone told me I could put $11,250 less down and it would only change my insurance premium by $315, I am holding onto that money. You now have more cash for unexpected expenses, moving allowance, furniture, anything you want. You can even apply it to your first pre-payment against your mortgage and pay the interest down while taking time off your loan. Obviously if cash is not an issue, putting the full $60,000 would be better seeing as you are borrowing less and paying less interest. However, if cash is tight, why not hold onto it and pay that difference over the course of 25 years?

Consult with a mortgage professional when it comes to structuring your mortgage, it is the small details like this that can make all the difference!


Tips for your variable rate mortgage that could save you thousands

With changes to mortgage rules and interest rates on the rise here are some tips for your variable rate mortgage that could save you thousands.

Since 2009 the prime lending rate has shifted from a high of 6% down to 2% range remaining fairly level for the past few years before rising to a present day level of 3.45%. During that time, lenders have offered consumers high discount variable mortgage as low as 1.2% when rates were at their lowest, to current rates of 2.45 (depending on the lender and if the mortgage is insured or not).

Historically the choice of a variable rate mortgage over a fixed term has allowed borrowers to save in interest costs.

We recommend if our clients can qualify and it makes sense for their specific situation to choose variable only if they will take full advantage of the lower rate. By setting their payment to the equivalent of the 5 year fixed rate at the time, the difference in payment goes directly to principal pay down.

Every 10% increase in payment shaves three years off the amortization of a five-year term so every bit extra matters and can make a difference.

If your mortgage is maturing in the next 90-180 days, it is time to talk to a mortgage professional for tips for your variable rate mortgage that could save you thousands.

You may feel the pressure to lock in to a fixed rate after the recent increases in the prime lending rate. For some this may be an option. However, I have the same advice every time someone asks us this question: It depends on your situation and we need to do a review. Take the extra time to review the current rate, remaining term of the mortgage, the new offer, how that will impact payments and your plans for staying in your home, moving and/or if this is an investment property.

For example; a couple have a current balance of $300,000 on their mortgage with a variable rate at Prime minus .80% (2.65%). Current payments set at $703 bi-weekly. The mortgage matures in 24 months but they are considering to lock in for a new five-year term offered at 3.34%. New payments would be $739. They love their condo but not sure if they will stay or move in two years or not.

After a review of their mortgage we offer a second option. Keep the remaining variable rate mortgage in place for the remaining two years. Set payments at 3.34% or $739 bi-weekly.

They decided on this second option because:

  • In 24 months the savings on interest is $4,000 and their outstanding balance is $4,000 less than by staying in the fixed rate
  • They won’t be locked into a mortgage for another five years
  • If they choose to sell before the maturity date, the penalty on a variable mortgage is only three months interest, rather than interest differential being a much more expensive possibility with a fixed rate mortgage.
  • In two years they can either choose to stay with the same lender or move to another lender without penalty

With this strategy they don’t have to feel pressured into locking in today and they can continue to take advantage of the lower variable rate.

So if you are in a variable rate mortgage and not sure what to do, contact us for a free, no-obligation review to help you make the best decision to suit your needs.


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