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What does it mean to co-sign for a mortgage?

What Does It Actually Mean To Co-sign For a Mortgage?There seems to be some confusion about what it actually means to co-sign on a mortgage and you know that where there is confusion, your trusted mortgage professional seeks to offer clarity. Let’s take a quick look at why you may be asked to co-sign and what you need to know before, during, and after the co-signing process.

So why are you being asked? Last year there were two sets of changes made to the mortgage world which can likely explain why you are receiving this request in the first place.

The first occurred early in 2016 whereby the overall lending standards were increased in regards to an individual’s management of their credit and the resulting responsibility of Canada’s financial institutions to ensure they are lending prudently. We have seen an increase in requests for co-borrowers to help strengthen applications when credit or job stability is an issue.

The second happened just in October. A new ‘stress test’ rate applies which has especially impacted borrowers with less than 20% down. They must qualify at a rate of 4.64% though their actual interest rate is much lower. This has decreased affordability for many which means they could be looking for a co-borrower to increase how much home they can qualify for.

If it was me, I would ask questions as to exactly why the applicant needs a co-borrower. If it is a credit issue then you need to assess if that an acceptable risk. If it is a matter of not enough income, you need to assess that instead. What is the exit strategy for you all from this joint mortgage?

What can you expect? You will be required to complete an application and have your credit pulled. As you are now a borrower the banks will ask you for all the documentation that the main applicant has already provided. This can include but will not be limited to:

  • Letter of employment
  • Paystubs
  • 2 years Notice of Assessments, Financial Statements and complete T1 Generals
  • Mortgage statements on all properties you own
  • Bank statements if helping with the down payment
  • Property tax bills
  • Lease agreements
  • Divorce/separation agreement

So you get the idea. You are now a full applicant and will be asked for a whole bunch of paperwork. It is not just a matter of saying yes. Once the application is complete and all conditions have been met with the mortgage, you will have to meet with the lawyer as well.

What do you need to be aware of?

  1. This is now a monthly liability according to the world. You will have to disclose this debt on all your own applications going forward. It can affect your ability to borrow in the future
  2. Each lender is different in their policy as to how soon you can come off the mortgage. Familiarize yourself with this. Are you committing to this indefinitely or only for a couple of years?
  3. Mortgages report on the credit bureaus so you could be adversely affected if there are late payments
  4. If the main applicant cannot make the payment for whatever reason, you are saying that you will. Make sure your budget can handle that for a few months.

A few things you may want to consider if you do agree to co-sign:

  • Ask for an annual statement to be sent to you as well on both the mortgage and the property taxes.
  • Consider a joint account for mortgage payments so that you can check in every so often to ensure all payments are being made on time
  • Talk about life insurance! If the worst occurs, then at least have enough of a policy in effect, with yourself as the beneficiary, to cover a year of mortgage, taxes and bills so that you are not hit with an unexpected series of expenses until the property sells.

So though you just want to help your loved one into their dream home, you are all better served if you know exactly what you are getting into and are prepared for the contingencies. We here at Dominion Lending Centres are ready to help!

 

Why you should speak to your broker before you sell your home

Why You Should Speak To Your Mortgage Broker Before You Sell Your HomeWhile many people will speak to a mortgage broker before buying a home, few people call a mortgage broker before selling a home. Calling could save you thousands of dollars and many sleepless nights.

Why? Brokers understand mortgages and ask the right questions. How long do you have remaining in your present mortgage? Do you know if it’s portable to a new property? Have you heard of increase and blend? A mortgage broker can help you to anticipate a penalty to break your present mortgage and see if porting or taking your mortgage to your new property is a good idea. Need more money? Blend and Increase will allow you to increase your mortgage amount and blend the old rate with the present day rate and save you thousands in penalties.

If you are at the stage in life where you have children leaving for university and you are down-sizing, perhaps a line of credit might be useful for helping to pay tuition and dorm fees.

While you may like your home it may need a new roof. Most home buyers do not want a fixer-upper and will discount your selling price to account for this. It may be easier to get the price you want and sell faster if you replace the roof, furnace or whatever is old yourself. The problem is that you are saving money for a down payment. Your mortgage broker can come to the rescue with a line of credit, either secured or unsecured which can be paid out with the home sale. In short, “we’ve got a mortgage for that!”.

   

Advice for Single Homebuyers

More than a third of first-time homebuyers in Canada are single. If you’re thinking of joining this group, here’s what you need to do and know before jumping into homeownership.

Study the market.

Identify neighbourhoods you want to live in and check to see how much properties in that area are selling for.

Next, figure out how much you can afford. Remember to include estimates for property tax, utilities, insurance and any other expenses you don’t pay as a renter (condo fees, for example). Start with this calculator.

Assemble your team.

A home purchase should involve financial, legal and real estate professionals. Before first-time homebuyers start exploring properties, they should get a copy of their credit report (www.equifax.ca) and examine it closely.

If there is a history of missed or late payments, both of which can bring your number down, start a plan to change your standing by making regular payments on time. (Caution: there is no quick fix for a credit report; beware of companies that offer to change or “fix” yours for a fee.)

If you don’t already work with a financial advisor, consider booking a meeting with one. Reviewing your entire financial picture—debts and assets, insurance and investments, as well as budgets—is something that a professional can help you understand and offer strategies to improve.

Ramp-up savings.

Pare back expenses before making a home purchase. Why? Finalizing the deal on homeownership will include one-time expenses (closing costs and land transfer taxes, for starters) that need to be paid before move-in day. Homeownership will also bring new on-going expenses (such as property tax and utilities).

Subtract what you currently pay for housing from the estimated cost of living in the new home. Put the difference in a high-interest savings account. Here is a test: if you can make that payment every month, then you likely can afford the home you have your eye on. For tips on creative ways to save for a down payment go to read:

Consider help from family.

According to a recent Genworth study first-time homebuyers in Toronto and Vancouver tend to have higher down payments than buyers in other parts of the country. That is due partly to larger savings of buyers in those areas, but also to larger gifts and loans from family.

A gift or loan from family can be a great help, but this is an arrangement that shouldn’t depend only on a hug and a handshake. Consider drawing up a contract spelling out the specifics of the deal.

How much money is being provided? Does it need to be paid back and, if so, when? If your family member will be sharing the home with you, how much will each of you be putting towards regular expenses, the down payment, or the closing costs? In whose names will the utility bills be set up, and whose name will be on the property title?

Hire a lawyer to do this paper work. That doesn’t have to involve many billable hours, especially if, before meeting the lawyer, you have an open conversation with your family and agree on answers to the above.

Another avenue worth exploring is the Genworth Canada Family Plan, which is meant to help another family member get into a home for a variety of reasons, including a parent who wishes to help an adult entrepreneurial child buy a home, or a parent helping to buy a home for an adult child at a post-secondary educational facility. With the Family Plan it’s important to note that the individual occupying the home must be on title to the property along with the co-applicant. This is not intended for use as a secondary dwelling. The down payment must be from their own resources, so gifts are ineligible.

Protect yourself

Although 35% of first-time homebuyers are buying on their own, many will partner up later.

If you start a relationship and allow another person to move into your home, that person may eventually have legal rights in relation to your home. How does that happen? If you live together long enough, you and your partner may become common-law spouses and that may trigger rights and responsibilities for you both.

When do you and your partner go from couple to common-law? The amount of time you spend living together is the main determining factor and varies from province to province.

How can first-time homeowners protect themselves? With an honest conversation about expectations and specific responsibilities. The main question is what will happen to the home if you split up? Consider a cohabitation agreement (again, with the help of a lawyer) to cover everything you agree to verbally.

Make sure to also outline the nitty-gritty details of day-to-day finances: how will you split the regular bills and when will they be paid? Which one of you will be responsible for making sure those payments are made on time? If there is a major expense, such as a roof repair or furnace replacement, will you both contribute?

For more tips on how to purchase a home, call us directly or drop us a line via out call request tab here on the site.

   

Banks & Credit Unions vs Monoline Lenders

BANKS & CREDIT UNIONS VS MONOLINE LENDERS

Banks & Credit Unions vs Monoline Lenders

We are all familiar with the banks and local credit unions, but what are monoline lenders and why are they in the market?

Mono, meaning alone, single or one, these lenders simply provide a single yet refined service: to fulfill mortgage financing as requested. Banks and credit unions, on the other hand, offer an array of other products and services as well as mortgages.

The monoline lenders do not cross-sell you on chequing/savings account, RRSPs, RESPs, GICs or anything else. They don’t even have these products and services available.

Monolines are very reputable, and many have been around for decades. In fact, Canada’s second-largest mortgage lender through the broker channel is a monoline lender. Many of the monoline lenders source their funds from the big banks in Canada, as these banks are looking to diversify their portfolios and they ultimately seek to make money for their shareholders through alternative channels.

Monolines are sometimes referred to as security-backed investment lenders. All monolines secure their mortgages with back-end mortgage insurance provided by one of the three insurers in Canada.

Monoline lenders can only be accessed by mortgage brokers at the time of origination, refinance or renewal. Upon servicing the mortgage, you cannot by find them next to the gas station or at the local strip mall near your favorite coffee shop. Again, the mortgage can only be secured through a licensed mortgage broker, but once the loan completes you simply picking up your smartphone to call or send them an email with any servicing questions. There are no locations to walk into. This saves on overhead which in turn saves you money.

The major difference between a bank and monoline is the exit penalty structure for fixed mortgages. With a monoline lender the exit penalty is far lower. That is because the banks and monoline lenders calculate the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty differently. The banks utilize a calculation called the posted-rate IRD and the monolines use an IRD calculation called unpublished rate.

In Canada, 60% (or 6 out of every 10) households break their existing 5-year fixed term at the 38 months. This leaves an average 22 months’ penalty against the outstanding balance. With the average mortgage in BC being $300,000, the penalty would amount to approximately $14,000 from a bank. The very same mortgage with a monoline lender would be $2,600. So, in this case the monoline exit penalty is $11,400 less.

Once clients hear about this difference, many are happy to get a mortgage from a company they have never heard of. But some clients want to stick with their existing bank or credit union to exercise their established relationship or to start fostering a new one. Some borrowers just elect to go with a different lender for diversification purposes. (This brings up a whole other topic of collateral charge mortgages, one that I will venture into with another blog post.)

There is a time and a place for banks, credit unions and monoline lenders. I am a prime example. I have recently switched from a large national monoline to a bank, simply for access to a different mortgage product for long-term planning purposes.

An independent mortgage broker can educate you about the many options offered by banks and credit unions vs monolines.

   

STARTLING GAP BETWEEN THE LIFESTYLE EXPECTATION AND REALITY OF CANADIANS 40+

STARTLING GAP BETWEEN THE LIFESTYLE EXPECTATION AND REALITY OF CANADIANS 40+

Startling Gap Between the Lifestyle Expectation and Reality of Canadians 40+Over the last few years, we have seen many retired Canadians outliving their retirement savings and requiring a financial solution to help them live the rest of their retirement. In the media alone, there is a constant outpouring of articles relating to retirement planning, preparing enough savings for retirement, as well as numerous articles around when to tap into your CPP. For many retirees and those approaching their retirement, these articles are a reminder of how to prepare and what to anticipate. However, Canadians continue to struggle with their finances in their retirement years.

Many Canadians are entering their retirement years with debt and underestimating the amount they need to save for retirement. In a recent national survey of Canadian homeowners, 40+, that we commissioned, we found there is a large gap between the lifestyle expectations of those Canadians studied and the reality. In fact, a startling 69% of Canadians researched expressed confidence that they have sufficient funds to retire, however 43% of retirees studied have debt including a whopping 35% of Canadians 75+. While 78% claim to have savings and investments, a full 40% have less saved than $100,000. That means, the majority (53%) of Canadian homeowners 40+ have either no or less than $100,000 in savings to carry them through retirement!

The study further goes on to show that a significant portion (82%) of those studied, reported that having the ability to stay in their homes during retirement is very important and 69% value their home equity as an important asset in their retirement plans.

This study also enabled us to question the familiarity of the reverse mortgage product. More than half of the respondents claimed that they were familiar with reverse mortgages, and among those who would consider a reverse mortgage, 50% of them said that the main reason for considering a reverse mortgage is to supplement their income.

Many respondents wanted reassurance that they would continue to own their own home without ownership being transferred to a third party. (yes-customers continue to own their own home!) The respondents also felt more at ease knowing that banks and other secure financial institutions offered the CHIP Reverse Mortgage (they do!) and if the solution was recommended by financial professionals (it is!).

This study is a reminder of how important it is to continue to raise awareness to the reverse mortgage product. Canadians prefer to age in place, are carrying debt and have inadequate savings, but many are directed to solutions that don’t give them the opportunity to live in their homes without the need for monthly mortgage payments. Reverse mortgages are a smart and comprehensible solution for Canadians planning their retirement. We are certified CHIP experts, give us a call to see how we may be able to help you!

   

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