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CategoryMortgage Products

Another US Govt shutdown… could mean lower mortgage rates for Canada.

debt ceilingRemember the U.S. Debt ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011?   Panic was an understatement.   That story dominated headlines for close to 2 months.   Stock markets dropped, but mortgage rates dropped, too.  In fact, fixed wholesale mortgage rates dropped 0.50% in the months leading up to the Debt Ceiling deadline, from June to August….  And continued to drop another 0.70% into 2012.

Mortgage rates hit all-time lows in the fall of 2011 and just kept right on dropping.  We hit our the all-time low in May 2013 before rates jumped almost 1.00% to our present 3.69%.  (This is for 5 year fixed mortgages.  Variable rates did not budge… Bank Prime rate has changed since Sept 2010…that’s important to remember as I will explain later) Continue reading “Another US Govt shutdown… could mean lower mortgage rates for Canada.”

Time to look at Variable Rates again.

Variable rate mortgage

With fixed rates up around 0.60% over the last 4 weeks (currently at around 3.49%.. there are some lower rates but these come with conditions so we are using the more widely available rate) we must again take a look at Variable rates.   Today’s best Variable rate product is sitting at around Prime less 0.40% … there’s even a few promotional Variables at Prime less 0.50% for qualified applicants.   But for this article we will stick with Prime less 0.40%.  That’s 2.60% today.  We are almost at that 1.00% spread that I like to see.

Two years ago, the best Variable rate was at Prime less 0.75% with the option to lock into the BEST discounted fixed rate at any time (this option is important, don’t ever settle for a variable product that doesn’t have this clause).   And 5 years ago, we had Variable rate products as low at Prime less 0.90%. Continue reading “Time to look at Variable Rates again.”

So-called “Best Rate sites” are put to the test with shocking results.

which mortgageThere’s been a surge of ‘Best Rate’ sites popping up… Chances are, you’ve probably seen one or more of their online ads…   You know the ones…‘shopping’ for the Best mortgage rates in Canada’ and ‘comparing Canada’s mortgage brokers for the best rate”.   It does sound great… and it seems to be getting lots of attention… Even the media are covering and quoting these sites…  And although I like that these sites promote how Mortgage Brokers can offer great rates, I’ve noticed some disturbing trends that you need to watch out for.

“I JUST WANT THE BEST RATE”

You say you want the ‘best rate’?  Really?  Or do you want to pay the least amount of money on your mortgage?   I’ll bet it’s the latter.  Make no mistake, these two things are very different and I’ll prove it.  But let’s face it, the rate gets everyone’s attention.. Most people don’t want to hear anything beyond that.. until they get burned for $$thousands on the mortgage later on.

Now what if I told you that 80% of my clients were paying a rate of 1.35% during 2009 and 2010, would that get your attention?   Of course.  And it’s true.  80% of my clients were in a Variable Rate mortgage based on my recommendations….and almost all of them didn’t panic and lock into a fixed rate (like the BIG SIX BANKS wanted them to)…they stayed in those products based on my specific advice recommending they not lock into a Fixed rate….    That’s called being in the right product at the right time.  My average client saved $6,000 during that time. Continue reading “So-called “Best Rate sites” are put to the test with shocking results.”

BMO’s 2.99% No Frills mortgage is back… and so is our warning to stay away from it!

thumbs downBmo wide So you’re shopping for a mortgage… and you see 2.99% advertised by BMO.. and you think, Wow, that’s a great rate!!… but is it really that great?   And is it really a great mortgage product?

Well, first, what if I told you there was a lower rate out there?   And what if I told you there was a lower rate without the restrictions and limitations of BMO’s NO FRILLS mortgage?

Ok, now that I got your attention, let’s continue…We saw this same product and rate advertised last year, in January 2012.   BMO promoted their NO FRILLS, oops,  I’m sorry, they want us to call it a ‘low-rate’ mortgage (guess that sounds better).   There was a buzz in the air.  My phone rang off the hook and my inbox was full of emails asking what this was all about. Continue reading “BMO’s 2.99% No Frills mortgage is back… and so is our warning to stay away from it!”

Scotiabank closes ING Direct mortgage broker division… but who cares?

Scotia and ING In an email sent to Mortgage Brokers today, ING announced they will close the Mortgage Broker division February 16, 2013.   My first reaction was one of sadness.  In the mid 2000’s, ING was a strong Lender and partner with Mortgage Brokers.   They offered some great products, competitive pricing, a fair prepayment penalty calculation and had an excellent team of employees, including their senior management.

Yes, I was sad to hear they would close the Broker division… But then I asked myself how much would this affect me?  my clients? How much business was I referring to ING these days?  The answer soon made me realize that there isn’t any reason for sadness.    I soon realized that since they made the switch to registering all their mortgages as a collateral mortgage charge, back in December 2011, I all but completely stopped recommending them to my clients. Continue reading “Scotiabank closes ING Direct mortgage broker division… but who cares?”

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

steve@mortgagenow.ca

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:

THE GOOD

  • 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.

THE BAD

  • 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).

HOW TO BENEFIT

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

steve@mortgagenow.ca

 

 

Mortgage Broker vs. Mortgage Specialist

Getting calls on this topic once again so I thought I’d clear the air on this very important topic.   So what’s difference?   They both arrange mortgages…. and both can offer advice and product select, right?  WRONG!!!.   The differences are a plenty….I’ll cover the more relevant ones here.

I’ll start with the a quote from a recent Bank of Canada study that tells the story very clearly: “… borrowers who use a mortgage broker pay less, on average, than borrowers who negotiate with lenders directly.”   click here for the entire study.

I can probably stop writing after that statement but I wanted to point out a few more things:

  • A Specialist works for one Bank or a single Lender.    They are employees of the Bank or Lender.   They can only offer you one brand of products.
  • A Broker is independent.  They are not employees of any Bank or Lender.  They can offer products from several different Lenders.
  • More Lenders competing for your business means betters terms and rates.
  • A Specialist isn’t required to be licensed to arrange mortgages.   There are no standards for educational requirements (although most Lenders do provide some in-house training).   
  • A Broker must successfully complete a Provincially regulated Broker course and continue to maintain their good status to keep that license.
  • A Broker can provide unbiased advice.  They work for you, the borrower.

Look, you wouldn’t ask Burger King who makes the best burgers and expect them to say Harvey’s?   So why would you ask a Bank Mortgage Specialist to tell you which Lender has the best mortgage product for you?   Enough said.

Banks and Lenders are great suppliers of money, but they can’t give unbiased advice.  They can only offer you their products…and they will try to charge the highest rate possible…  but that’s okay.  They are a business.  And they will always try to maximize the profit for their employer, the Bank.

If you would like to compare mortgage products and rates, call your Mortgage Broker.

Don’t have one?, then call me.  I’d be happy to help.

Steve Garganis

416 224 0114

HELOC’s capped at 65% but some exceptions still apply..

Earlier this month marked the beginning of the end of 80% loan to value HELOCs.   Several Banks and of the Financial Institutions began to cut back the maximum LTV from 80% to 65% as per OSFI’s regulations.   But there are a few loopholes in the new rules….

  • The good news is that existing HELOC clients don’t have to worry.. these changes don’t apply to them.  OSFI is allowing them to keep their HELOCs at 80%….
  • Only OSFI regulated Financial Institutions are affected… Provincially regulated FI’s aren’t affected… Credit Unions don’t fall under OSFI’s rule…  there are still some Credit Unions offering HELOCs to 75% and even 80% loan to value.
  • Some of the Banks are still offering a combination of a HELOC and a mortgage of up to 80% ltv as long at you have at least 15% of your balance in an amortized payment schedule, and not interest only payments.

There is more good news… The BIG SIX BANKS can’t offer you an 80% LTV HELOC but the credit unions can… Maybe Canadians will start to seek other Lenders……They may finally discover that there much better options out there.   Watch for the Credit Unions to take a chunk out of the BIG SIX BANK mortgage pie.

Not sure where you fit in?   Call me for details.

Steve Garganis

416 224 0114

Scotiabank to buy ING….how will this affect you?

Earlier this month, ING Groep, the Dutch financial services giant, announced they were looking to sell their Canadian and UK operations in order to raise cash.   ING received a $10billion euro bailout from the Dutch govt during the 2008 Financial crisis and they want to start paying it back.

It didn’t take long to find a buyer for the Canadian operations.  Scotiabank will buy the Canadian division of ING for around $3billion.   The press release hinted at some good news for the Canadian public.  Scotiabank will continue to run ING as a separate entity.  For mortgage clients, this is mainly good news…. but we do have some concerns… Continue reading “Scotiabank to buy ING….how will this affect you?”

2.89% 5yr fixed rates are available… but are those offers legit…?

You’ve heard the saying, “there are no free lunches”…. or “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is”.…  I’m not sure how these sayings got started but they probably came from a bad experience…  My favorite is, “the problem with things that are free, is that they cost too much”.…   These sayings can be applied to most things in life…   including your mortgage.

Recently, I’ve seen a growing number of websites and radio ads offering these so-called “great mortgage products” at 2.99% and now 2.89% for 5 yrs… A number of readers have asked me if these offers are legit?  Here’s what I tell them…. Hope you find this useful…

In short, the rates are real but the product offerings come with too many strings attached for my liking….. things like the rates are for CMHC insured mortgages only… or the rates are only held for 30 or 60 days….you can’t pay the mortgage off for the first 3 years…. limited prepayment privileges…..prepayment penalties are far higher than other mortgages….you lose your ability to negotiate a rate if you have to refinance the mortgage.

These product have, and can, end up costing you more in the end.   This is why you won’t see me promoting or advertising these rates.

A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT THESE PRODUCTS ARE ABOUT

In trying to capture market share, some Lenders have created products with slightly lower rates… Ok, I like that part of it…. BUT, they come with inferior terms and restrictions…… and this is where you could end up paying big time, on the back-end of these mortgages.    You’ve seen my previous articles about $20k, $25k, and $30k in mortgage penalties….. This is what makes these products and other NO FRILLS mortgages a bad option…and why I refuse to endorse them.

Let’s face it, the first thing most of us look at is the price… If I said you can buy and iPad for $200, or a 65″ Plasma TV for $500, you would keep listening… In the case of mortgages, we look at rate… 2.89%….  But hopefully, you keep asking questions.  9 times out of 10, you would probably find out there is a catch….. Maybe you have to buy something else, or the make and model is older or of a very poor quality, or the sale was only for a limited time, or it’s a refurbished model, etc….  You get the picture…

In most cases, those offers are just bogus.   The headlines are there to catch our attention… They want to entice you…to get you in the front door or to make that phone call, or to click that link on your computer….The seller is hoping that either 1 out of 10 will not ask too many questions and take the product… or they will shift you into another product… The old bait and switch….  That’s how most of this type of advertising works.  It’s a numbers game…

And it isn’t any different with mortgages.  But the problem with mortgages is that we are talking about a very complex financial product.  A mortgage is a loan agreement, a legal contract that will bind you for 5 years, in most cases.   The loan is secured by your house.  Think about that… You are putting up your home as security… you better understand all the terms, obligations, limitations, restrictions, privileges….. most importantly, look at how much it will cost you to exit this product.

Here’s where I have a BIG problem with these flashy ads….  in most cases, the borrower doesn’t even know what questions to ask…  They can’t get all the required info in order to make an informed decision.     We saw a great example of this earlier this year when BMO offered their 2.99% NO FRILLS mortgage… only, they didn’t market it that way… they called it a Low-rate mortgage…   Quite a play on words.  They made it sound like they were doing us a favour by pushing people into these mortgages… but as my readers know, the limitations to this product can and will prove costly for a large number of borrowers….  which is why I gave that product a huge thumbs down.

For those seeking my opinion and advice, I suggest you take a good hard look at these offers…. ask questions…. you’ll probably end up being part of the “9 out of 10 group” that asked too many questions and saved themselves from a mortgage disaster.

Should you need my help or advice, feel free to contact me anytime.   steve@mortgagenow.ca or 416 224 0114.

Steve

More dumb Bank ads.. but they won’t fool us.

Are you watching the Stanley Cup playoffs?  Year of the underdogs…  I’m a huge hockey fan and although my favorite teams are out of it, I’m still watching… and I’m still willing to put up with the commercials… but some of these ads are rubbing me the wrong way.

Like most TV ads, the truth can be exaggerated…  Take the Old Spice commercial…  “I will have big muscles and cool hair”…. have you seen that one?   My son loves it… makes me laugh too….

But when we’re dealing with something more important, like your money and your mortgage, the truth shouldn’t be cryptic….   The ‘BIG SIX BANK’ ads, bother me… I’ll explain. 

A few years ago, during the Olympics, RBC hit us with a commercial that showed a young couple searching for homes.. Their RBC mortgage rep recommended they split their mortgage “part variable and part fixed…  to save money.”  Remember that one?  click here to view it.   I strongly criticized this product and the so-called advice because it didn’t make sense to break up the mortgage…. Fast forward to today…. My criticism was well justified….Anyone that listened to my warnings would have saved money… Anyone that took this RBC product lost out… Clearly, that was NOT the right product to ‘save money’.

This year it’s BMO….We can’t seem to escape these ads.   How does it go again? .. A young couple are shopping for a home, walk through the bedroom and into the closet, when they magically appear in the BMO BLUE ROOM with a BMO Banker…

They want to pay their mortgage faster…   Have no fear, the BMO Banker is here to the rescue with their pearls of wisdom…  The Banker says, “we can help…by restructuring your payments and getting you into a low-rate fixed mortgage, you’ll pay your mortgage off sooner“…  Wow!  That’s GREAT!!   The young couple are excited… Cue the music!!

Now let’s decode this cryptic message…   ‘restructuring your payment’….  What could the Banker possibly mean?   No mystery folks… It means you must increase your payments.  Yes, that’s all it means…There is only one way to pay your mortgage faster…. increase your payments or make at least one lump sum payment annually… click to here to read about the bi-weekly payment myth.

The Banker continues and says ‘…..getting you into a low-rate fixed mortgage, you’ll pay your mortgage off sooner’.   This must be some magical product… it sounds great…!    Uh, no.. guess again.  Let me give you the straight goods…… BMO refers to their NO FRILLS mortgage as their ‘low-rate mortgage’.   That’s quite misleading if you ask me.   So once again I am issuing a STRONG WARNING.    For the record, this is probably the worst mortgage product you could ever take, in my opinion.  It’s just slick marketing…

You can’t pay the mortgage out for 5 years, without selling your home…..meaning you can only refinance with BMO but there is no obligation for BMO to give you the any future discount, let alone the best discount…..you have limited prepayment options…… and let’s not forget, the infamous BIG SIX Bank penalty calculation….we’ve seen how this one has cost borrowers $20k, $30k and even $40k in penalties!.. click here to read more about how BIG SIX Banks calculate penalties.

The Banks have deep pockets and spend hundreds of $$millions on ads…  It’s up to the little guys, like me, to tell it like it is…  Hey, I won’t promise you good looks and cool hair, but I can promise you to tell it like I see it… There are better mortgages available… Better terms, rates, privileges and options and ultimately, these better options will SAVE you money on your mortgage.   That’s our goal… to pay the least amount of money to own our homes.   Don’t get fooled by a flashy low rate… Rate is important but it isn’t everything.   These aren’t opinions, these are facts.  Just do some research or speak with an unbiased professional.  Speak with a Mortgage Broker.

As always, let me know if I can help… and feel free to send this article to someone you think could benefit from it…

Steve Garganis

steve@mortgagenow.ca

416 224 0114

Govt to cut Secured lines of credit to 65% loan to value…

Thursday’s speech by OSFI head, Julie Dickson, at the Toronto Board of Trade, indicates it’s a done deal.  Secured lines of Credit will be capped to a maximum 65% of the value of your home.  “…the guideline does set out some firm rules that all institutions will need to adhere to – specifically that home equity lines of credit – or HELOCS – can have a loan to value ratio no greater than 65%….”

WE’RE MAKING SOME CHANGES…. I MEAN, WE ARE PROPOSING SOME CHANGES…

It was only a few weeks ago that OSFI issued a Draft B-20 guideline, a guideline that is filled with radical changes to mortgage lending rules and policies.    It was supposed to be up for discussion, with a May 1st deadline…. So much for discussion…. it appears the decision was made already according to Ms. Dickson’s speech today…. here’s a copy of that speech… April 5 2012 remarks by Julie Dickson.

90%, 80% AND NOW 65%???… WHEN DOES IT END?

Remember 2007?  It was just a few years ago that CMHC was offering 100% loan to value, interest only payment mortgages.  Back then it was good to borrow at these levels…. And HELOC’s could be had for up to 90% LTV.  Over the past few years, the govt has tightened up mortgage rules in an attempt to reduce access to credit.    Mortgages were amortized for 40 years, then cut back to 35 and now 30 years..  But now the govt believes they need to step in again and limit access to your equity by reducing the Loan to Value limit to just 65%….   I looked back to some historical lending policies and couldn’t find a time when the govt ever imposed a limit of just 65%.   It is unheard of! And it’s going to have a big effect.

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

OSFI is finding a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.   I don’t think they realize that Banks have pushed borrowers into lines of credit for years now, as a way of providing easier access to the equity in their homes.    Canadians aren’t buying new TVs or new cars or other luxury items… they are using the equity to improve their net worth by buying investments.   Why is this a bad thing?   Are our defaults up?  NO!  Then what is the problem….?

WHO WILL THIS AFFECT AND HOW?

If you are a self-employed person and ever tried to get a business loan from the Bank, then you know how difficult it can be to get an approval… but even if you do, the repayment terms and interest costs could be a hard stop.   End result is that business idea could remain just that… an idea that never got launched.   One of the more popular alternatives was to access cheap money by borrowing, against the equity in your home.  Mortgages can be great but if you need to borrow, repay and borrow again, then a mortgage can have costly registration fees and penalties.  But through a HELOC,  the repayment terms are great and it’s also a much lower rate of interest than any business credit facility.

Borrowing to invest isn’t anything new.  A HELOC allows you to access YOUR equity at preferred rates.   How about buying a second home or a rental property?  You could use the equity in your home to help with the purchase and HELOCs give a separate accounting which makes reporting to Revcan much easier.

How about borrowing for your child’s education?   Are we going to force Canadians to refinance their mortgages in order access cheap money?   I’m sure the BIG SIX Banks will love to see you break your mortgage and pay their infamous penalties.

END RESULT

Get ready, because you are about to see us pushed into higher interest, unsecured lines of credit (oh yeah, there wasn’t any mention of reviewing these lending policies… that’s because NONE exist!).

Which debt would you pay last…. a mortgage, a secured line of credit or a credit card or unsecured line of credit?    Obviously, it’s the unsecured debts would be last on our list… we will always pay for the roof over our heads…. which is why the defaults are still very low and within very acceptable levels.

We are going to see many Canadians discouraged from investing.. they won’t want to go through the trouble of borrowing with a mortgage…  Congratulations OSFI, you’ve made borrowing more expensive….you’ve made investing for our future tougher than it has to be.

The WINNERS… the BANK…. The LOSERS… you and me, the average Canadian…!

Mortgage wars end?…only for the BIG SIX Banks…

March 29th, 2012 is going to be remembered as the day when the BIG SIX Banks ended their Mortgage War.   Well, at least for now.  Rates are up around 0.50% at Retail Branches of the BIG SIX  Banks.  (don’t worry, Mortgage Broker rates haven’t gone up that much and are lower than any of the so-called discounted or special rates advertised by the BIG SIX Banks.)

In what was an unprecedented, public fight for your mortgage, the BIG SIX Banks pulled down their pants and showed how low they can really go with their rates.   We saw BMO come out with their 2.99% NO FRILLS mortgage… ( a product we wouldn’t recommend to anyone due to it’s restrictions, limitations and penalty calculations).    Unfortunately, too many borrowers don’t look beyond the rate and have signed on for this product..   They will have to deal with the consequences in the years to come.

RBC fired back with a pretty good rate of 2.99% for 4 years… It didn’t have the restrictions or limitations but it still had that unfair penalty calculation.   RBC also took some public shots at the BMO product, through the media and their own website.   It was great to see some real competition take place among our BIG BANKS.    There is always a winner in this war.   You the borrower.

TD, Scotiabank, National Bank and CIBC all followed with a similar 4 year fixed rate at 2.99%.   But they still had that same penalty calculation formula I absolutely don’t like.

Canadian lenders appear to be extremely slow to pass on changes in the Bank Rate to their customers.”  Anyone remember that quote?  That’s a direct quote from the Bank of Canada review entitled ‘Competition in the Canadian Mortgage Market’.

Here’s another one from the same report “borrowers who use a mortgage broker pay less, on average, than borrowers who negotiate with lenders directly”.

The good news about all this rate war stuff is that we saw even better mortgage products being offered through the Mortgage Broker channel.  Remember these quotes the next time you are shopping for a mortgage.

The Star reports BMO suggests it’s time to lock into fixed rates…. well, maybe..

I had a discussion with The Toronto Star’s Susan Pigg about Fixed and Variable rates.  Click here to read my comments in this article.

In short, BMO Captial Markets says it’s time to lock into a Fixed rate…. Well maybe, but I would caution anyone that had a BMO variable rate mortgage to think twice about locking into BMO’s well publicized 2.99% 5 year NO FRILLS mortgage.   This product has limitations and restrictions that make it impossible to get out of the mortgage without selling your home.   There are better options out there…  you can get a great rate without sacrificing your options and privileges.

You also have to factor in the infamous BIG SIX BANK penalty calculation.  We’ve written about this before.  This could cost you dearly should you wish to refinance or have to pay the mortgage out before maturity.   We have seen numerous cases of Bank prepayment penalties adding up to 12, 14, 18 and 20 months worth on interest.  That’s right, 20 months worth of interest.   Don’t get held hostage by your mortgage provider.

If you have a Variable Rate mortgage that is price at Prime less 0.50% or lower, I would stick with it…  If you are higher than this or if you mortgage is coming up for renewal, then you should consider a Fixed Rate mortgage…  And the only reason to consider Fixed rates is because they are priced so close to what a Variable rate could be had for today…  Best Variable is around Prime less 0.25%… that’s 2.75%.  Best 5 yr Fixed  with ALL FRILLS is around 3.19%…

But before you make any decision, please speak with an unbiased advisor, like a mortgage broker…. Find out which product is right for you…  Everyone is different and we all have different needs.  There are so many unadvertised specials these days….  Your Mortgage Broker can access these products and  also help explain the differences in penalty calculations and why this should be looked at more closely, even it you don’t think penalties apply to you…

 

OSFI’s latest proposals will affect every mortgage and line of credit..

Earlier this week we saw a draft guidelines proposed by Brock Kruger from  The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.  Yes, more tightening of mortgage and secured real estate lending……  To put this in plain language, the proposal will affect almost everyone… it will change how mortgages and secured lines of credit are offered….. in shorty, I think this plan is trying put out a fire that doesn’t exist.  There is no need for the changes.

Draft B-20 just goes too far…..   they target mortgages but also Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC).    Most of the media coverage on this has been somewhat neutral.. but finally we have seen one reporter question these proposed changes.  This article by Peter Foster in the National Post was great…   He questions why we need any more changes when our mortgage and banking system is the envy of the world….  There is no emergency, no arrears problem, nothing to indicate our mortgage lending policies are overly generous.

It should be noted that non-bank lenders will not be affected by this… leaving them as a potential winner if these guidelines become policy…

Here’s a link to the entire 18 page draft.

SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED CHANGES:

Cash back mortgages could disappear.. currently, one could get a mortgage for 95% of the purchase price at Bank posted rates and then get a 5% cashback.  The cashback can be used as the down payment.  ( I don’t see many reasons for applicants to buy with no money down so this isn’t a big issue for me)

-homes would have to be appraised at renewal timethis is just crazy… can you imagine if your property value dropped and the bank asked you to pay down your mortgage at renewal time or even worse, call in your mortgage?  What’ s OSFI trying to do.. force everyone to take a 10 yer fixed rate mortgage?   They have already made Variable Rate mortgages harder to qualify for…. what’s the matter, they don’t want us to pay less interest?  

HELOC’s would have to be amortized meaning NO MORE INTEREST ONLY PAYMENTS...  this one will affect more households and business owners than the OSFI probably realizes… businesses use their homes to finance businesses… that’s been going on for decades… but they aren’t borrowing with no assets.. remember, they are putting up their homes as collateral.. if we start to make it even more difficult for self-employed to obtain financing, this will affect the economy almost immediately.  But how about the 2nd or 3rd time buyer in their 30’s or 40’s that wants to tap into their equity for investments… ?  Are we going to eliminate all interest only payment facilities?  

-HELOC’s maximum would be reduced from 80% to 65% loan to value of your house…. and let’s not forget that just a few years ago we could have obtained up to 90% loan to value through CMHC insured products. Again, just another crazy idea and very radical change in just a few years… where is OSFI taking us?

mortgages would require tighter debt servicing guidelines including fewer exception approvals by your lender…

Mr. Kruger, your intentions may be honorable, but you are not being practical or realistic.   Why have you introduced these proposals?   To reduce access to credit?   To make it more difficult for Canadians to tap into their home equity?   To make it tougher to buy a house?     Whatever you think these changes might do, I can tell you, as a 22 year mortgage industry veteran and industry insider, that these proposed changes will just shrink our economy, force us to take longer fixed rate products resulting in even higher mortgage penalties for the Banks…  It will force us to tap into our credit cards and unsecured, higher interest credit facilities.… It will force business owners to pay more for raising capital… it will discourage investors….

Give this one a rethink… you are searching for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

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