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MonthOctober 2012

Bridge Loans…your bank hates them but they can be a great financial tool when buying….

Bridge loans are short-term loans that bridge the gap between two different closing dates.  More commonly used when an existing homeowner sells their home, and buys another home, with two different closing dates.   But bridge loans have become a very popular way to take possession of that new home while it’s empty for 2 or 3 weeks to allow for renos.   Best of all, it’s really inexpensive!

In the past, most homebuyers would have their selling and buying dates match.   It’s always been a bit of a juggling act as you have to pack your moving truck and unpack it, all in less than a day.   Somehow, everyone manages to get it done… but you talk about one of the most stressful days in your life….moving ranks right up there!   Throw in some kids, maybe a dog, and a house full of stuff and you have a real chore on your hands….

More buyers are taking a more relaxed approach.   Bridge Loans are gaining in popularity.. It allows for a more relaxed move over a 2 or 3 day period… or in the case of renos, maybe 2 or 3 weeks.    It’s certainly less stressful and could even save you money if you are doing a bigger reno…(contractors could end up charging you a little more if they have to deal with a family living in the house during renos).

Let’s take a look at one example on how much Bridge Financing works and what it costs…

In this example we’ll use a couple that sold for $400k.   Closing is November 1.   There is an existing mortgage of $250k.    They bought another house for $600k.   Closing is November 22.  They will spend $50k in renos for a new kitchen and bathroom.   They want a $450k mortgage to cover renos, closing costs and take out some money for personal use.   Here’s how the Bridge loan works:

  • Bridge loan amount would be $150k… we calculate this by taking the Purchase price ($600k) less the new mortgage amount ($450k).
  • Rate of interest will vary but it’s around Prime plus 2.00% (today’s prime rate is 3.00%).
  • Lender admin fees range from $250 to $500.
  • Legal fees vary depending on Lender and Lawyer… $200 to $400.
  • Interest costs are $20.55 per day.  Total interest would be $287.70.
  • Overall total cost of the Bridge Loan would be between $737 and $1200 depending on your lawyer’s legal fees and Lender admin fees.

Some qualification, limitations and risks when getting a Bridge Loan.

  • Bridge Loans are only offered by the mortgage provider for your new home.  It’s a product most Banks don’t like to offer as there is really no profit for them.  They get nervous about the possibility of your existing home not closing.   There is some exposure and risk to the Bank… it’s limited but it’s there.
  • Your lawyer will be required to provide an undertaking to register a mortgage if the sale of your existing home collapses (that’s not a common occurrence but it can happen).
  • Speaking of sales… you must have entered into a firm sale on your current home to qualify for a Bridge Loan.
  • Lenders will only offer a Bridge Loan equal to the down payment required for your new home.  This amount cannot be greater than the equity remaining in your current home.
  • There is also the option of obtaining Private Lender bridge financing but this is more expensive and should only be considered as a last alternative.

Standing back and looking at the big picture, I think most of us would be happy to pay $700 to $2,000 for sake of being able to have an empty house for 2 to 4 weeks to do a clean up or reno, etc.

If you need more info on how Bridge loans work or need help with a situation, call me anytime.  Always happy to help.

Steve Garganis

416 224 0114

CMHC flawed data? Or is this just a shock value article?

 The Globe and Mail’s Grant Robertson and Tara Perkins wrote a shocking article entitled “Potentially flawed data used by banks and lenders bump up house prices”.   Wow, that headline is sure to get a lot of attention.  I mean that’s a really serious allegation. Let’s continue…

They claim to have documents that quote “confidential statements from banks, appraisers and mortgage insurers show rising worry over the use of a database operated by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The documents suggest the data are flawed and help push home prices up.”

But keep reading this article… and tell me if you see any substance to this allegation.   The article goes on to explain that CMHC has been using an automated evaluation system called EMILI, since 1996 that can determine house values.   They also say CMHC will order appraisals when they deem necessary.   They even quoted an appraiser that says the system is flawed… So this article must be right… after all, it’s in the Globe and Mail!!

I read this article a few times over, to try and find any real facts to suggest that CMHC is using flawed data….  but I came up empty.   Did they make any mention of how many times the EMILI system was used over the past 16 years?  Or how many instances this system produced a wrong property valuation?  How about how many appraisals were required when EMILI couldn’t support a value?  What about the $$ losses that CMHC has incurred due to incorrect property valuation using EMILI?   NO.. no data provided… Just a reference to some document that raised concerns about the EMILI system.   My guess is that any losses were limited or we would have heard a lot more about it….

Folks, this article is another example the media using shock value to get you reading… This is the type of ‘water cooler talk’ that causes us to panic, to make mistakes.   We tend to flock to the negative… bad news travels faster than good news…it’s human nature.     Last night, when I saw this article, there were 62 comments…. as of this morning, when I wrote this article, there were over 300.

I want you to read these comments.… full of angry people… all celebrating the possible scandal of a flawed property valuation system…  Hooray!  There’s a scam…banks, and homeowners got ripped off!  Let’s celebrate!!… The attitudes were disturbing…  Hey, I want to associate with positive people.. not pessimists…  If this is the audience that the Globe is attracting, then maybe we should rethink where we get our information from.

Sensationalism is a dangerous thing.  Let’s continue to take emotion out of it… Let’s make sure we look at facts and clearly separate our opinions.   Buying a house for personal use or as an investment needs to be given careful consideration.   You’ve heard me say that real estate should be a 7 year investment.   History shows us that this is how long it takes to amortize the expenses involved with buying and selling a home.   It’s also how long it takes to go through an up and down economic cycle.    Real Estate isn’t about making a quick buck.

Interest rates are at historical, all-time lows… Have you seen any articles about this lately?   Not many… but that’s because it’s lost it’s shock value.  This won’t grab your attention. But’s true… and for most of us, it still makes good financial sense to buy a house.

Make decisions based on fact… based on your own personal circumstances… based on what works for you… based on what your goals are…based on professional advice…

As always, I welcome your comments and questions… If you have any questions about mortgages or mortgage related issues, please free to contact me.

Steve Garganis

416 224 0114

Mortgage Life insurance… what’s this all about?

You’ve bought a house… you’re arranging the mortgage financing… and now your broker or banker starts talking about life insurance or mortgage life insurance…..   sound familiar?   Choosing the wrong coverage could cost you dearly.

Today, we’ll clear up some things very important but often overlooked subject.

Does anyone really enjoy talking about life insurance?  I don’t, but we must understand what this product is all about…and why you shouldn’t just waive the coverage.

Life insurance and mortgages go hand in hand.   After all, for most of us a mortgage is the biggest debt we’ll ever have.   And if you should exit this world before that mortgage is paid off, the only thing you want to leave behind are good memories, not a big mortgage payment.

Mortgage Life Insurance or Creditor Insurance as it’s more commonly known with the finance world, is insurance that covers your mortgage balance as of the time of death.    This is not my favorite insurance product but it does have it’s place and it can be used temporarily by most of us.   Here are some good and bad points about the product:


  • it’s group insurance, meaning it’s easier to qualify for as there are less questions asked.
  • coverage can be instant, as of the mortgage approval.
  • it’s good short term coverage until you get a more comprehensive analysis done.  (I can’t tell you how many clients took this insurance temporarily but continue with the policy for years…. we all love to procrastinate when it comes to insurance).
  • for smokers or those in less than great health or poor lifestyles, this could be a good option.
  • this insurance can be cancelled at any time.


  • your coverage decreases as you pay the mortgage down… but your premiums remain the same.
  • it’s more expensive than most other forms of life insurance such as term policies.
  • speaking of term insurance, your coverage remains the same throughout the 10, 15 or 20 year term that you choose, making this a more enviable product.
  • mortgage life products are not underwritten at the time of application but only at time of death… and your claim can be denied even if you had been paying the insurance premiums for years…
  • your BANK loves mortgage life insurance.   At renewal, when you’re 5+ years older, they will use this against you to get you to sign their renewal… meaning you may not be able to shop for the best mortgage rates!   (Don’t think the BANKs don’t know this.. as a former banker, we were encouraged to use this sales tactic).


Take the mortgage life insurance, speak with your insurance advisor, get your needs reevaluated, get better coverage elsewhere if possible, then cancel the mortgage life insurance..  Yes, in other words, use mortgage life insurance as a temporary coverage…. And please get your insurance needs looked once in a while.. at least every 5 years.

If you have any comments or if you need help finding a reputable insurance advisor, call me.   I’m always happy to help.

Steve Garganis

416 224 0114



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