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Consolidate debt pay less interest

Want to pay off debt? Pay less interest!

Consolidate debt pay less interest

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!”

Good debt and Bad debt - Credit Debt Loan Mortgage

Good debt and Bad debt…. do we Canadians recognize the difference?

Good debt and Bad debt - Credit Debt Loan Mortgage

I saw this article from earlier this year about Good debt and Bad debt.  Canadian Personal debt levels have now surpassed $2.21 trillion.  That’s a big number, should we be concerned?  I started to wonder how much of this is Bad debt?  Let’s take a closer look at these stats. Continue reading “Good debt and Bad debt…. do we Canadians recognize the difference?”

Debt Consolidation Tip: Pay less interest!

Collateral ChargeThe beginning of the year is typically tough financially for most of us. Holiday bill payments, RRSP contributions, property tax bills, etc. And, if you’re self-employed, you probably have to make some sort of business tax or corporate tax payment. If December is the Holiday Season, then January and February feel like a hangover!

Banks and credit card companies love this time of year because this is when we’re most likely to carry a balance, forcing us to pay those crazy interest rates that range from 9% to 24%.

But, wait! Before you get too depressed, there may be a better option. There’s a less expensive way to manage your debt.

Continue reading “Debt Consolidation Tip: Pay less interest!”

What’s the TRUE Impact of Policy Changes on the Canadian Mortgage Market?

Boc Mortgage Rule Impacts, Dec 2018

It’s certainly not what the Bank of Canada (BoC) is claiming!

The BoC recently released a document detailing what it believes to be a positive report on the Canadian Mortgage Market, but this article clearly shows how out of touch our government is.

The BoC is applauding their statistics… yet, these numbers show that the government appears to be measuring affordability as a multiple of one’s income – and not by the proven, standard method of debt servicing ratios. This is very odd and, quite frankly, I find it absurd.

Continue reading “What’s the TRUE Impact of Policy Changes on the Canadian Mortgage Market?”

Credit counselling, Consumer proposal or Bankruptcy… Which option is most favourable?

Debt Image, March 2018

A couple in their 30s contacts me for a mortgage. They want to buy a new home. She’s a high school teacher and he’s a computer firm manager. Incomes are good. I check their credit.

Let’s stop here for a minute… If they have good credit, an approval is simple and we can provide the clients with several mortgage options.

But let’s assume that this couple ran into some debt and credit issues three years ago… and they made three different choices about how to resolve those credit problems: 1) Credit Counselling; 2) Consumer Proposal; or 3) Bankruptcy. I want to take you through each scenario and show you how long each of these three options affects your ability to finance a home. I bet the results will surprise you! Continue reading “Credit counselling, Consumer proposal or Bankruptcy… Which option is most favourable?”

Considering a Second Mortgage? It can save you money!

Home Finances

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 sort 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 “Considering a Second Mortgage? It can save you money!”

World Debt clock comparison… How’s Canada doing compared with the world?

Debt.  It’s a popular topic.  Personal debt. Govt debt. Corporate debt.  Back in 2013, I published an article comparing Canada’s debt with the rest of the world.  Back then, like today, there was so much negative news being written about our so-called high personal debt level.   I thought I’d turn the tables on the govt and see how they were doing.

Here we are, 2018 and  five years later.  We’re supposedly experiencing fantastic economic times.  Lowest unemployment in 40 years according to the Dec 2017 job report.  Things are so good that we can increase minimum wage by over 30% in Ontario and other Provinces.  We must really be doing great, right? Scorecard time…

The logical conclusion, or the simple math equation is with GOOD TIMES OR A STRONG PROSPEROUS ECONOMY = LOWER NATIONAL DEBT…. Consumers are expected to lower their personal debt levels.  Isn’t the govt supposed to lower or work on eliminating our national debt?  One would think so. Let’s find out… Continue reading “World Debt clock comparison… How’s Canada doing compared with the world?”

Rates are going up… for now… is this the end of low rates?

 Next Wednesday will be the first Bank of Canada meeting date to set the Target rate, which directly affects Bank Prime rate and Variable rate mortgages. It’s almost a certainty that the Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz, will raise the rates.

POSITIVE DATA MEANS HIGHER RATES

There’s been too much positive economic data lately. Low unemployment levels (5.7%, the lowest since the ’70s), higher spending by consumers, slightly higher inflation (2.1%), record level stock market. We’ve also seen some comments and posturing by the Bank of Canada Govr that suggests we should expect a 0.25% increase.

Bond yields have also been moving steadily upward. Yup, we should expect a rate hike. And depending on how the market reacts to this, we could possibly see another rate hike at the next Bank of Canada meeting on March 7th.

BUT WAIT, IS THIS THE END OF MORTGAGE RATES IN THE 3.00%’s?

Continue reading “Rates are going up… for now… is this the end of low rates?”

Review your mortgage NOW! Next year may be too late.

It’s begun.  The message is starting to sink in.  The new mortgage rules could eliminate 15% of Canadians from qualifying for a mortgage after January 1st, 2018.  The mad rush has started as mortgage inquiries are up significantly.

WHO WILL BE AFFECTED?

  • Anyone that has a mortgage renewal in next 12 to 20 months.
  • Anyone thinking of buying in the next 12 months.
  • Anyone that is needs or is thinking of refinancing their mortgage in the next 12 months.
  • Rental property owners.  Yes, you too.
  • Future retirees with lots of home equity (newsflash..the new rules don’t take into consideration how much equity you have in your home.. your net worth is also irrelevant… it’s all about how much income you earn and declare…)

All of these borrowers will be affected.  If you’re not getting the message, anyone with a mortgage should be getting a review done NOW.  Don’t wait until next year.  You may not qualify for a mortgage.

EXPECT HOME SALES TO SPIKE UP TEMPORARILY Continue reading “Review your mortgage NOW! Next year may be too late.”

OSFI announces strictest mortgage rules ever… what you need to know.

HARDER TO QUALIFY WITH 50% DOWN THAN WITH 5% DOWN.. DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?

October 2016, our Federal govt announced a number of new mortgage rules including the infamous new ‘stress test’ for all insured mortgages.  Mortgage default insurance is required for all mortgages greater than 80% loan to value.  You have to qualify at the bank posted 5 yr fixed rate, which is usually around 1.75% to 2.00% higher than your actual rate, and with a maximum amortization of 25 yrs max.

These ‘rules’ were brought in last year to protect us from ourselves.   To ensure we could handle any large interest rate hikes at renewal time.  Sort of like big brother watching over us to make sure we don’t borrow more than we can afford. (btw, we already had lending rules in Canada.  Our mortgage arrears were and still are at record low levels.   Seems like our Banks, credit unions and other lenders are doing a pretty good job of lending.  Is more govt intervention necessary?  Most experts say no.)

Today, Jeremy Rudin, OSFI Superintendent, joined the party…. well, more like rained all over ever Canadian homeowner’s party (current and future).   OSFI, not wanting to be left out, announced they would impose more mortgage rule tightening for all mortgages that were UNDER 80% loan to value.    Again, to protect us from ourselves just in case interest rates should sky rocket at your renewal time.   Here’s a summary of the changes and how they will impact consumers, homeowners, and the real estate market:

  • A new minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages.  The ‘stress test rate’ will be your contract rate + 2.00% or the 5 yr posted fixed rate, whichever is greater.(that’s right, your may have to qualify at a higher rate than those with insured mortgages above 80% loan to value.. how does that make sense?)
  • Federally regulated financial institutions must establish and adhere to appropriate Loan to value limits that are reflective of risk and updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve (yeah, I’m not quite sure what this one means either.. stay tuned)
  • Federally regulated financial institutions are prohibited from arranging with another lender a mortgage, or combination of a mortgage and other lending products, in any form that circumvents the institution’s maximum Loan to value ratio or other limits in its residential mortgage underwriting policy. (this has dire consequences for those that won’t meet this historic new ‘stress test’.. effectively, the govt is telling you to not buy a home if you don’t fit in this new shrinking qualifying box…. or sell your home if you need to access the equity..)

 

HOW THIS AFFECTS YOU

  • buying with less than 20% down payment, no effect.  You already have a ‘stress test’.
  • buying with more than 20% down and you’ll have to pass a tougher test, that’s right, a tougher test than those with less than 20% down.  (Make any sense to you?  me neither.)
  • around another 15% of homeowners will NO longer qualify for a mortgage regardless of it being a purchase or if you wanted to refinance.
  • expect rental, condos or houses to become way more expensive as demand will spike.
  • we’ll see a spike in real estate sales from now until Jan 1st as homebuyers will scramble to get in prior to the new rules taking effect.
  • most credit unions are provincially regulated and for now, won’t be affected..  (that could change if the provinces amend their rules)

 

POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO DISCOURAGE HOME SPECULATORS BUT ENCOURAGE HOME OWNERSHIP

If you want to discourage speculators, make them hold the property for 5 or 7 years.  Bring in a declining speculation tax for anyone that sells a non-owner occupied home in less  than 5 years.  Reward those that hold real estate for longer periods.  You’ll have less transactions.  Encouraging longer holding times, more rental units on the market and higher vacancies.  More rental supply will also resolve high rents.  Bring back more realistic mortgage qualifying guidelines.  Encourage and promote buying investment properties.

A year ago, the Federal govt made several rule changes that effectively made it more expensive and difficult for consumers to borrow.  The list of changes was so long that most Canadians didn’t bother to react because it didn’t affect them that day.  But as we are seeing now, more consumers are experiencing reduced access to mortgage money.   They can’t refinance their mortgage.  They can’t draw on their built up equity in their homes.  It’s only when you need to borrow do you realize the extent of the changes.  Each and every one of us will be impacted.   These new policies will only make home ownership more difficult.  It will also slow our economy.

Perhaps the credit unions can pick up the slack and help …  stay tuned.. there will be more to share on these changes.     One thing is for certain.  You need to speak with an experienced Mortgage broker to understand what your options are.  It’s almost impossible to go it alone.. and you don’t have to.  Mortgage Brokers work for you, not the Bank.  They have access to dozens of competing lenders.

Your best interest is my only interest.   I reply to all questions and I welcome your comments.  Like this article?  Share with a friend.

Steve Garganis 416 224 0114 steve@mortgagenow.ca

Banks pass on rate hikes but not the savings.. Shame on the BANKS!

On January 2015, the Bank of Canada cut the prime rate by 0.25%.  But the BIG SIX BANKS didn’t cut the Prime rate as they normally do.  Instead, they waited a week… tried to justify why they couldn’t cut the rate… and finally caved in and cut it.. but ONLY by 0.15%.

That’s right, they pocketed the remaining 0.10%.  And in case you haven’t heard, the BIG SIX BANKS have been posting record profits, year after year after year after year after year.   In 2016, the 5 most profitable corporations were:

  1. RBC
  2. TD
  3. SCOTIABANK
  4. BMO
  5. CIBC

Continue reading “Banks pass on rate hikes but not the savings.. Shame on the BANKS!”

Long term contracts have a price… nothing has changed from 2010

Originally posted in 2010…. some things never change..  enjoy and beware.

Here’s a great article written by consumer advocate, Ellen Roseman.  She points to different industries where signing in for the long term protection can be very costly and expensive.

Ever wanted to change cell phone providers?  How about internet providers?  Move your investments or rrsps?  Cancel that hydro or gas contract because you moved?

And how about mortgages?  When interest rates started heading downward about 12 months ago, thousands of borrowers in fixed rate mortgages wanted to get out of their higher rates and start benefitting from the record low interest rates we have been seeing.

But they were shocked to hear of unbelievably high early prepayment penalties… the example Ellen uses is about a $46k penalty on a $530k mortgage with a major bank…  I’ve seen dozens and dozens of situations like this.

Beware of long term mortgages… with the average person moving or refinancing about every 3 years, choosing a 5 year fixed rate term is usually not the best option.  It could cost you more than you think… always seek professional advice from a reputable mortgage broker before selecting your mortgage.

(Just a personal note… It sure would have been nice to see some mortgage relief given to the average homeowner during the recession.   CMHC used to cap their penalties to 3 months interest but removed this cap in 2000…quietly, all financial institutions are free to charge a higher penalty…and they all do.. the longer the term, the greater the penalty…)

Your best interest is my only interest.   I reply to all questions and I welcome your comments.  Like this article?  Share with a friend.

Steve Garganis 416 224 0114 steve@mortgagenow.ca

Debt diversification vs Debt consolidation…who wins?

debt

ONLY IN CANADA

Attention:  Bankers, close your ears.. we don’t want you to hear this.  Credit card balances, lines of credit, car loan, student loan, home reno loan, personal loan..   If you have one or more of these and you own a home, you’re probably losing money by paying a higher interest rate.  In many cases, $thousands are lost and overpaid each year.   And your Banker is laughing and recording Record profits!!

It’s surprising how many of us have some, or all of these debts… and ALSO a house with lots of equity.  Yet, as Canadians, we somehow think it’s better to separate our mortgage from other debts.  We somehow think it’s good to pay down our mortgage but then rack up other debts.  This attitude has puzzled me for years.

check out this chart for one client.. tell me if this looks familiar: Continue reading “Debt diversification vs Debt consolidation…who wins?”

Marital splits… woman seem to be at higher risk when it comes to finances.

 

Stack of Coins and Bride and Groom Wedding Cake DecorationsThey say about half of all marriages end up in divorce.  In Canada, it’s around 48%.  In the U.S., it’s around 53% according to Stats Canada.  You’ve probably heard these stats before.

But what happens when a couple splits and all the financial matters were being handled by just one spouse?  In most cases (but not all), it’s the woman who is left with no knowledge of money matters.    Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of marital splits and in an overwhelming majority of cases, the woman is left in the dark when it comes to finances (that trend is changing as today’s women are becoming more financially astute..  good for them.. let’s continue that trend).

There is HOPE and HELP.   Here are some things you can do to take charge of your finances before or after a marital split: Continue reading “Marital splits… woman seem to be at higher risk when it comes to finances.”

Mortgage tricks… and treats!

halloween-moneyHappy Halloween! And before the kids knock on your door.. just thought I’d send a quick mortgage trick and trick..

TRICK..  ‘Stress Test’ for mortgage qualifying.  The Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, blindsided Canadian Banks, Financial Experts and consumers when the govt introduced mortgage rules making qualifying even tougher.  The new rules mean consumers must qualify at the posted bank 5 year fixed rate.

TREAT... The reality of the new mortgage rules is that it’s not going to affect that many.  One of Canada’s biggest mortgage lenders told me, confidentially, that over 95% of their portfolio would easily pass the new stress test.  The REAL devil here is the Canadian Press.  Unfortunately, they are making this latest change sound like a death-blow for the real estate market.  Gauging my own clients profiles, I would say that even fewer than 5% would be affected.

If you’ve followed my site, you’ll know I’m a huge Variable rate advocate.  More than 90% of my clients have been in a Variable rate product.  And guess what?  They’ve always been able to qualify using the posted 5 yr fixed rate.

The govt wants to slow the housing market and property value increases.  I agree, we don’t want to see house prices continue unsustainable increases.   Not sure this latest change is the correct move.  Perhaps, this rule could have apply for higher priced homes only..?   Exclude homes less than $600k or $700k? Just a thought..   I’m also unsure the lack consultation or input from industry experts, was a wise move.  More open discussion is needed.  Just my opinion..

Happy Halloween.

Your best interest is my only interest.   I reply to all questions and I welcome your comments.  Like this article?  Share with a friend.

Steve Garganis 416 224 0114 steve@mortgagenow.ca

Tax Free Savings Accounts should be 2nd on your list

There are over 10million TFSA accounts in Canada according to this article in the Financial Post.   Wow, it’s great to see that level of savings….

But hold on…..is this the right strategy for those of us with a mortgage?    Well, if you have a mortgage on your principal residence and the interest is not tax-deductible, then I think it’s NOT the right strategy.

For most of us, the interest on a residential mortgage is not tax deductible (I say for most of us because if you rent out part of the home or use it for your business then you may be able to claim a tax deduction).

Take those after-tax $$dollars and pay your mortgage first before putting them into a TFSA… reduce the amount of non-deductible debt and then focus on a TFSA….   If you own an investment property, then this strategy may vary slightly…. but for most of us, let’s get rid of that mortgage first…

And yeah, for those higher income earners looking to diversify, then sure.. A TFSA makes sense.  But for most Canadians, I would suggest getting rid of the mortgage is a better strategy.

Your best interest is my only interest.   I reply to all questions and I welcome your comments.  Like this article?  Share with a friend.

Steve Garganis 416 224 0114 steve@mortgagenow.ca

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