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CategoryConsumer Debt

New Mortgage rules… let’s make it an annual event!

The Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, announced some changes to Canada’s mortgage rules that come into effect March 18, 2011…… these rules apply to hi-ratio insured mortgages… those with less than 20% down payment….

-The maximum amortization is reduced to 30 years from 35 years.

-The maximum loan to value available for refinancing your home is 85%, down from 90%.

-Secured lines of credit (or HELOC’s Home Equity Lines of Credit)  will not longer be insured meaning the maximum loan to value will now be 80%.

Click here for the official government announcement.

Not the first time for mortgage rule changes.

This is becoming an annual event with the Government:

In 2008, the Govt reduced 40 year amortizations to 35 years, eliminated the 100% loan to value mortgages and the interest only mortgages.

In 2010, the Govt brought in some of their biggest changes yet…borrowers would have to qualify for variable rate mortgages or short term mortgages at Bank posted rates…Self employed individuals would now have to qualify with traditional income verification if they were in business for more than 3 years…. Refinancing would be capped at 90% loan to value, down from 95% loan to value… and investment properties or rentals would require a 20% down payment…

(By the way, the govt also announced they would be standardizing mortgage prepayment penalties… we STILL haven’t seen any announcement… Mr. Flaherty, you want to help Canadians?  Change the mortgage penalty calculations!)

Has the govt gone too far?

Apparently, rising personal debt levels are the driving force behind these changes… The govt wants to make sure we don’t borrow more than we can afford…. But with mortgage defaults well under 1.00% (that’s extremely good), why would the govt pick on mortgages?   After all, wouldn’t any Financial Advisor recommend that you consolidate your high interest credit cards, lines of credit, car loans, student loans and other personal debts into a LOWER RATE product?

Why isn’t the government making changes to loans, unsecured lines of credit, credit cards….?   All these products have higher rates of interest and higher rates of default.   Think about this for a minute… we are making it harder for Canadians to take lower interest rate products (mortgages)… Where will they go?   Yes, that’s right… directly to the higher interest rate products…. Credit cards, loans, etc….  (I think I might buy some Bank stock today… or any other financial institution that offer credit cards or loans.)

So let’s see if I’m getting this straight…. we want to stimulate the economy and spending so we’ll keep interest rates low… but we are concerned about rising personal debt levels so we’ll make it tougher to get a mortgage (even though mortgage defaults are extremely low)… but we’ll keep those high interest rate loans, credit credits, etc as is…..  Is this making sense to anyone?

We’ll be sharing more on this latest announcement in the coming weeks…

Debt consolidation… it’s not a dirty word

What’s the first thing you think of when someone says ‘debt consolidation’?  Trouble… or, you can’t pay your bills…cashflow problems… We probably all think there is some financial problem..

Sure, that’s the popular reaction…and who can blame us for thinking that way with the recent media hype about Personal Debt concerns…  One day we have an article saying that Personal Debt levels are high or increasing… The next day, Canadians are conservative and managing our debts well.  This flip-flop would confuse anyone.  click here for some articles from earlier this year.

But debt consolidation can actually be a good thing most of the time…  And that time is now.  You’ve heard of ‘buy low and sell high’… Well in credit, you ‘borrower when rates are low to save high amounts of money’…

With record low interest rates it makes sense to borrow….If you own a home, have some equity and have some non-mortgage debt, such as credit cards, a car loan, a student loan, a line of credit, etc…  These debts probably carry a higher rate of interest than what you could get through a mortgage…  Debt Consolidation is a smart thing….paying less interest puts money in your pocket.

Here’s a good calculator to figure out how much you can save…DEBT CONSOLIDATION CALCULATOR.

Use these rates for comparison…Mortgage rates are well under 4.00% today… a 5 year fixed rate is somewhere around 3.59% and Variable rates are around 2.25%…  compare this with 12% to 18% credit cards, 6% lines of credit, 7% car loans, etc… Rolling these debts into a mortgage is not a bad thing, it’s a smart thing.   Paying less interest just makes good financial sense.

And as always, speak with someone who knows and understand financial matters… talk with a qualified Mortgage Broker or Financial Planner….

Uncover the hidden equity in your home

Turn on the TV, listen to the radio, read a newspaper or talk to someone at the office water cooler.   What are we hearing?  ‘House prices fall’….  ‘Mortgage rates are going up’…

Okay, are you ready to hear some good news?   Let’s talk about what’s really happening and how YOU can benefit.

Firstly, house values are actually stable according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).  The article goes on to say that House sales may cool this fall due to a robust Spring market and that house prices may fall.  Hey, that’s okay.. we don’t want to see a runaway market… but that should trigger us to do something now.   Take advantage of these incredibly low rates.

Interest Rates are at historical lows and yet I don’t see much news coverage about that…did you know that a 5 year fixed rate can be had for around 3.69% and in some cases even better for qualified borrowers….   Variable rate is also great… 2.30% is an excellent rate…. and Economists are forecasting for no real increases until the Spring…

REFINANCE WHEN RATES ARE LOW

It’s really no secret…. you’ve heard of buy low and sell high?… well, with interest rates it’s ‘borrow when rates are low and get rid of high interest rate debt’….. This is the best time to borrow money. Here’s how you can benefit….

Let’s suppose your situation looks like this:

  • have a house worth $350,000
  • a mortgage balance of $200,000 @ 5.00% with payments of $1,100/mth.
  • credit cards $8,000 @ 12.00% with payments of $240/mth
  • a line of credit $10,000 @ 6.00% with payments of $300/mth
  • car loan of $15,000 @ 6.00% with payments of $480/mth
  • you want to invest some money into rrsps or resps or some other GOOD investment for $20,000….
  • your monthly payments total $1,640.

Here’s what you could be doing:

  • increase your mortgage by up to $80,000 to $280,000
  • pay off all that debt and take the extra funds (up to $47,000) and invest or use as you require
  • your payment based on today’s 5 year fixed rate of 3.695 would be $1,427/mth
  • your payment based on today’s Variable rate of 2.30% would be $1,227/mth

Your cashflow would actually improve and you would put money in your pocket.

This is just one example of how you could benefit… we all have different needs and different situations…get your finances analyzed by a qualified Mortgage Broker.   See how you could benefit….It’s a great time to borrow…

Bank of Canada rate up by 0.25% and personal debt levels down.

BANK OF CANADA RATE UP

July 20th, 2010….an interesting day.  This was the 5th of 8 scheduled Key Interest Rate announcements… No real surprises… the Key rate went up by 0.25%…. the second increase this year…

The new Bank Prime rate is now 2.75%.    Variable rate borrowers will see a 0.25% increase in their mortgage rate… but don’t feel too bad… your mortgage is probably just over 2.00%….. that’s much lower than even the lowest 5 year fixed rate mortgage of 3.69% which was being offered mid last year….and recent reports are calling for a very slow and gradual interest rate hike…click here for the latest.

PERSONAL DEBT LEVEL DOWN

Remember the reports about the high personal debt levels that Canadians had?  We were spending like fools… according to many “Experts”… And bank on May 13, I questioned these reports….

Now we are seeing that Canadian Personal Debt levels are down….Come on… we didn’t change overnight.. we  have just been taking advantage of these record low rates to invest or spend wisely…and what’s wrong with that?..  see the latest stats…


Personal Debt levels are now better? Happy Canada Day!

Remember those reports in the media about how our Personal Debt levels were rising at an alarming rate?  There was huge concern that we were borrowing more than we should… that we could be headed for trouble…. The Bank of Canada warned about rising household debt levels….

And remember on May 13th, I reported that this needed a closer examination… that perhaps our debt levels were higher than other G20 countries for other logical reasons…..maybe we are borrowing at these record rates to invest, to do other practical things…??

Well, oddly enough, a new report from the CIBC states that Household credit is softening… we are not running wild and spending like drunken sailors….  The sky isn’t falling… hooray!

Happy Canada Day!

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