In case you missed it, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced this week that adjustments to the “Stress Test” are coming on April 6th. While the government says the change will make the stress test qualifying rate more responsive to market conditions, what does that really look like?
On the bright side, this new qualifying rate will probably be lower by around 0.30%. This will increase the amount of a house one can buy by around 5%.
Example… $500k increases to $525k.
On the dark side, this isn’t really making a whole lot of difference. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but I’d like to point out the shortcomings of his announcement. It’s purely political. They said they would do something and I guess, technically they did. But it really has no significant impact.
Some great stats just came out in Genworth’s regional risk reports. Here are a few of the highlights.
As expected, Ontario’s housing market has been very healthy and active and has been picking up steam over the last 2 years.
Alberta’s economy has been hit hard over the past 3 years due to the inability to bring its biggest resource, oil and gas, to the market. We’ve all read and heard about the pipeline debacle. However, the housing market is rebounding as is shown in the stats. Let’s hope action is taken to get our western Canadians some positive changes.
For years, we’ve been told to pay our mortgage bi-weekly. Magically, it will pay your mortgage off faster. Hmm, let’s put that to the test.
(SPOILER ALERT!) Around 10 years ago, I wrote an article showing some simple but effective math to explain this. I’m constantly getting emails from my readers asking me what they should do. Obviously, a topic worth taking another look at.
Let me also say, there is merit to paying bi-weekly… I’ll explain further on.
HISTORY OF BI-WEEKLY PAYMENTS
Back in the mid-’90s, there was a huge marketing blitz by the Big Banks that promoted making bi-weekly payments instead of the traditional monthly payments. The sales pitch was that you could save huge amounts of money and pay your mortgage off much faster, shaving 4 or 5 years off your amortization. Sound familiar? While offering some benefit, BI-WEEKLY PAYMENTS DON’T SAVE AS MUCH AS YOU MIGHT THINK!
You’re two years into your mortgage term. You’ve got a great rate, or so you thought? But now you aren’t sure. With so much talk about record low interest rates, you begin to question. Maybe there’s a better deal out there? Did you choose the right product and lender? Has your mortgage advisor or broker contacted you during those two years? Does this sound familiar?
We’ve all heard of buyer’s remorse. That’s when you make a purchase, only to regret spending the money days or weeks later. I’m seeing a lot of people second-guessing their mortgage decision recently. And I have news for you… RELAX! There is a way to check to and see if you made the right choice, and better still, there is a way to see if you can do better today.
Rental properties are a secure long-term investment. Note the emphasis on “long-term”.
Check out any seven-year period over the past 50 years (anyone who has read this news site knows that I always recommend buying and holding for at least seven years). Property values have almost always risen.
Sure, the last five or 10 years have seen fantastic appreciation in almost every part of Canada. But, let’s leave capital appreciation out of the equation for now.
Why aren’t we talking about rental income? Or, how about the equity growth through your mortgage being paid down each year?
RENTAL INCOME IS UP, UP, UP!
Part of what makes rental properties attractive is that rent rises with inflation (or even higher, in many cases, as we have seen in urban markets like Toronto and Vancouver). This is how you create your own pension or retirement income!Continue reading “Real estate may not be sexy, but…”
Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “second mortgages”? For some, it could be that shady-looking character in a smoke-filled pool hall… guys with gold chains and a baseball bat nearby. Maybe you’re thinking of someone in financial trouble? Or, perhaps it’s just someone who doesn’t want to pay outrageous costs and penalties to refinance their existing mortgage.
The mere mention of second mortgages conjures up all sorts of images. Most of them, negative. For many, a second mortgage can be a last-resort solution during a financial crisis. For several others, it can be an opportunity to save money. That’s right, to save money.
Sure, second mortgages carry a higher interest rate than first mortgages, but they can also serve a purpose. One of those purposes can be to save you money. Yup, I said it again. There are some new trends emerging with today’s new mortgage products that are forcing consumers to seek other options. Two of these trends are INFLATED PREPAYMENT PENALTIES and NO FRILLS MORTGAGES! Continue reading “When a Second Mortgage makes good financial sense.”
It’s not a new concept but it is one that is worth remembering and so I will repeat it. If you want to pay off debt, start by paying less interest.
January is usually a tough financial month for most of us. Holiday bill payments, rrsp contributions, property tax bills and if you are self-employed, you probably have to make some sort of business tax or corporate tax payment. If December is the Holiday Season, then January feels like a hangover!
Banks and Credit Card companies love this time of year because this is when we will normally carry a balance and have to pay those crazy interest rates that range from 9% to 25%. Wait, before you get too depressed, there could be a better option. There’s a less expensive way to manage your debt.Continue reading “Want to pay off debt? Pay less interest!”
New year, new home? It’s a good time to take another look at the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP).
If you’re planning to buy your first home anytime soon, you may be able to take advantage of a helpful federal government program. This enables you to withdraw money you’ve already contributed to your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and use it towards anything related to your home purchase, including your down payment, closing costs or real estate fees.
But, the key is that the funds must be in your account at least 90 days before you can withdraw them under the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP).
You can withdraw up to $35,000 ($70,000 per couple) from your RRSPs tax- and interest-free to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or a related person with a disability.
Having worked on 8,000+ mortgage applications at this stage in my career, I’ve witnessed my share of separations and divorces. While I have shared a financial and personal perspective on marital splits in the past, it is always worth revisiting for those out there that are going through these life changes now or in the future.
You’ve heard the stats: 1 out of every 2 marriages fails. Actually, I think the number of failed marriages is even higher now. Wait, let me rephrase that. A marital split is not a failure. I think that’s old-world thinking. A marital split is usually a positive move for all parties involved – for the spouses who are no longer in love and the kids who don’t have to see an unhappy married couple.
Marital splits can be a very emotional and difficult time in one’s life – especially when there are kids involved. There’s always one parent who wants to keep the house because the kids grew up there or have friends there or it’s just more familiar to them.
That’s right, I’ve said this before, and will say it again.
Our lifecycle goes something like this… Go to school. Find a job (and work hard for 40 years). Fall in love. Get married. Save money. Buy a house. Start a family. Retire on enough pension or savings. Enjoy the results of your hard work. Live in your house until death. Leave the house for your kids.
This is how most of us envision a normal lifecycle. But how often does this really happen? How many people really live happily ever after? What’s the big deal about tapping into home equity to fully enjoy life?
The annual State of Homebuying in Canada report noted that 56% of all purchasers were first time buyers in 2018. This dropped to 47% in 2019.
The tightening of mortgage rules which has been taking place over the last 4 years is certainly having an effect. The never ending rule changes were intended to slow home sales and prices. But like most government interventions, its had the opposite effect.
Contrary to media reports about our ‘record personal debt levels’, it’s extremely prudent to ensure you have access to emergency money.
The line of credit popularity that took place in the ’90s wasn’t a bad thing. It allowed us to borrow at low rates to invest or spend as needed. Many successful investors have been doing this for decades. Borrowing to invest makes smart financial success. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
We’re seeing more reasons for Canadians to get a secured line of credit now: Age; Income; and Qualification.
Is choosing a mortgage as easy as booking a trip or trading a stock? Let’s find out!
Sure, you can book a flight online or buy a stock through the web. But, can you really choose the right mortgage product on your own? Can you really find the absolutely lowest cost mortgage financing option? I’ll bet some consumers can. I’ll also bet the vast majority cannot. There’s a steady stream of horror stories, on this news site and others, that show just how costly and financially dangerous it is to be in the wrong mortgage product, with the wrong lender.
Mortgage rates fell by about 1% since January of this year. That rate drop has created a surge in real estate sales across Canada, with September and October seeing a greater than average number of real estate transactions. We also saw consumers taking advantage of these low rates by refinancing their mortgages early.
The Five-Year Government of Canada bond yields have been going up and down like a yo-yo over the last three months, with a low point being 1.13% and a high of 1.58% just this past week. This uncertainty/volatility forced financial institutions to raise their interest rate by about .2% to .3%. Having said that, interest rates are still very low. In my discussions with the major lenders, they are all telling me that it’s busier than usual for home purchases and refinance purposes. Continue reading “Important week for mortgage rates could cost or save you thousands.”
The internet is great for researching information, ratings and even advice. With so much available data, it’s hard to decide which is accurate, reliable or even truthful.
Take this site for example. If this is your first visit then you may not be aware of all my credentials nor how accurate my information or recommendations are.
You’re probably making a decision right now. That’s how fast we decide today. I’ve either got your attention or I don’t. Hello to those that continue, or farewell and thanks for stopping by to those that are leaving. (By the way, stick around, you may find this useful). Continue reading “Information vs advice. Why is it free?”
Part 2 of 2…. In Part 1, we examined rental properties and how they can be a great way to reduce your taxes, build net worth and create an income stream. Part 2 looks at Interest payments. Interest payments are a big part of our personal expenses. Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce your interest costs.
Death and taxes, the only two things that are certain in life. You’ve heard this one before. I think there is a third thing that can be just as stressful, ‘interest payments’ (before this article becomes too depressing, I’m going to share some things that will help to reduce our interest costs and minimize our taxes). Continue reading “Death, taxes and interest payments! Part 1 of 2.”
I wrote that back in 2006. Since then we have seen some provincial governments step in with laws to help protect unsuspecting homeowners. You can also purchase Title insurance or an alternative method of protection.
A couple of years ago, Toronto police said a woman used fake ID to get a $300,000 mortgage. The unsuspecting homeowner only discovered a mortgage had been fraudulently registered on their home when they received mortgage documents in the mail.
This is not a new scam. It’s happened many times in the past. Here’s a big one from 2010 that involved $140million and hundreds of people. This one was huge. Most are not this big or elaborate. It’s the smaller ones, like the recent one for $300,000, that are more common place.
If I gave the option of choosing between two cell phones, which would you choose? Both phones had similar specs and were identical in almost every way… except PHONE one came in a nicely gift wrapped box with a bow on it. PHONE two came in a brown paper bag but was less expensive and also had slightly better options.
Most of us would choose PHONE two right? Wrong! When it comes to mortgages, most of us are focusing too much on the beautiful gift box and not paying enough attention to the contents. They say around 47% of all mortgages go through a BANK and 39% go through a Mortgage Broker. Broker share is up, but not enough in my opinion.
When it comes to mortgages, historically the BIG SIX BANKS have been charging higher rates than what can be had from MORTGAGE BROKERS. (see Bank of Canada study ‘competition in the Canadian mortgage market). And their inflated prepayment penalty calculations are now infamous (typical BIG SIX BANK penalties are around 4 times higher than other lenders). Continue reading “Are you looking at the beautiful box or what’s inside?”
Last week, Stephen Poloz, the Bank of Canada Governor, kept the Prime Rate as is during the 6th of their eight scheduled meetings for 2019. TheCurrent Target rate is 1.75%. (Bank Prime rate is derived from this rate. Today’s Bank Prime rate is 3.95%. Over 99% of time, when the Target Rate is cut, the Banks will reduce the Bank Prime Rate by an equal amount).
This was a very calculated decision that has politics written all over it. While the rest of the world banks have been cutting rates to combat a looming recession due to growing global trade wars and slowing global economies, our Government did nothing. Apparently, the Canadian economy is ‘resilient’. The next Bank of Canada meeting is set for October 30, 2019. Oh, and there’s a Federal election on Oct 21, 2019. Yeah, this has politics written all over it.
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) program is a Shared Equity plan that came into effect Sept 2nd (just before an election, what coincidence). The program was created to stimulate new home construction and to fill a lack of housing supply.
I’ve never seen more competition with mortgage rates in my 30-year career than I have in the first five months of 2019!
Rates are under 3%!
On May 10th, a new jobs report was released by the federal government showing 106,000 new jobs created in the month of April. This blew away all expectations. And, the reaction was immediate, including higher mortgages being imminent and a bull stock market on the horizon… and yet, this didn’t happen. Continue reading “A Rate War on Canada Day?”