5 Questions Every Borrower Should Ask

General Victor Anasimiv 4 Sep

As a mortgage borrower – particularly if this is your first time embarking upon homeownership – there’s no doubt you have a load of questions related to the mortgage process. Aside from the most common questions, such as those relating to mortgage rate, the maximum mortgage amount you’ll be able to receive, as well as how much money you’ll need to provide for a down payment, the following five questions and answers will help you dig a little deeper into the mortgage financing process.

1. Can I make lump-sum or other prepayments on my mortgage without being penalized? Most lenders enable lump-sum payments and increased mortgage payments to a maximum amount per year. But, since each lender and product is different, it’s important to check stipulations on prepayments prior to signing your mortgage papers. Most “no frills” mortgage products offering the lowest rates often do not allow for prepayments.

2. What mortgage term is best for me? Terms typically range from six months up to 10 years. The first consideration when comparing various mortgage terms is to understand that a longer term generally means a higher corresponding interest rate and a shorter term generally means a lower corresponding interest rate. While this generalization may lead you to believe that a shorter term is always the preferred option, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes there are other factors – either in the financial markets or in your own life – you’ll also have to take into consideration. If paying your mortgage each month places you close to the financial edge of your comfort zone, you may want to opt for a longer mortgage term, such as five or 10 years, so that you can ensure that you’ll be able to afford your mortgage payments should interest rates increase.

3. Is my mortgage portable? Fixed-rate products usually have a portability option. Lenders often use a “blended” system where your current mortgage rate stays the same on the mortgage amount ported over to the new property and the new balance is calculated using the current rate. With variable-rate mortgages, however, porting is usually not available. This means that when breaking your existing mortgage, you will face a penalty. This charge may or may not be

 

reimbursed with your new mortgage. Some lenders allow you to port your mortgage, but your sale and purchase have to happen on the same day, while others offer extended periods.

4. What amortization will work best for me? The lending industry’s benchmark amortization period is 25 years, and this is also the standard used by lenders when discussing mortgage offers, as well as the basis for mortgage calculators and payment tables. Shorter timeframes are also available. The main reason to opt for a shorter amortization period is that you’ll become mortgage-free sooner. And since you’re agreeing to pay off your mortgage in a shorter period of time, the interest you pay over the life of the mortgage is, therefore, greatly reduced. A shorter amortization also affords the luxury of building up equity in your home sooner. While it pays to opt for a shorter amortization period, other considerations must be made before selecting your amortization. Because you’re reducing the actual number of mortgage payments you make to pay off your mortgage, your regular payments will be higher. So if your income is irr egular because you’re paid commission or if you’re buying a home for the first time and will be carrying a large mortgage, a shorter amortization period that increases your regular payment amount and ties up your cash flow may not be your best option.

5. How do I ensure my credit score enables me to qualify for the best possible rate? There are several things you can do to ensure your credit remains in good standing. Following are five steps you can follow: 1) Pay down credit cards. This is the #1 way to increase your credit score. 2) Limit the use of credit cards. If there’s a balance at the end of the month, this affects your score – credit formulas don’t take into account the fact that you may have paid the balance off the next month. 3) Check credit limits. Ensure everything’s up to date as old bills that have been paid can come back to haunt you. 4) Keep old cards. Older credit is better credit. Use older cards periodically and then pay them off. 5) Don’t let mistakes build up. Always dispute any mistakes or situations that may harm your score by making the credit bureau aware of each situation.

Victor Anasimiv is your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker in the Comox Valley.

Skipping a Mortgage Payment?

General Victor Anasimiv 4 Sep

Some lenders are advertising the option of skipping a mortgage payment more often these days – one major bank even created a TV ad!

But unless this is your only option, it’s not recommended that you skip a payment because, like most ads that sounds too good to be true, this option is as well.

The banks want you to think they’re advertising the option to skip a payment to do you a favour. But it’s important to realize that lenders are in the business of making money. They’re not going to create an ad that doesn’t benefit them in the long run.

And it’s not like you can simply choose to skip any payment at will when you need it most. You actually have to prepay your mortgage in order to take advantage of this mortgage vacation option.

You can miss a regular mortgage payment as long as you have already prepaid that amount by doubling up any mortgage payment, increasing your mortgage payments or making lump sum payments. It’s important to know how much you can prepay each year before making extra payments – this varies from lender to lender.

And if you’re going through the trouble of prepaying your mortgage, you want to make the savings work to your advantage by actually paying your mortgage off quicker – not diminishing those savings by taking a mortgage vacation.

The number of eligible payments covered by your payment vacation will be based on a

 

combination of your prepaid amount and your current regular monthly mortgage payment. There is also typically a maximum payment vacation permitted per mortgage term, regardless of how much you have prepaid your mortgage.

Other considerations to think about when looking at the mortgage vacation option include:

  • Interest is capitalized (ie, interest is added to your outstanding principal balance)
     
  • Borrowers lose the benefit and interest cost savings of prepaying their mortgage once they use the mortgage vacation option

If you happen to already be in arrears on your mortgage, you can’t take advantage of this option.

It’s always important to read the fine print and ask questions when using a tool advertised by your lender. Better yet, speak to me, Victor Anasimiv your local mortgage professional as I can help advise you on your best options.

As a mortgage broker I offer independent, unbiased mortgage advice. I will ensure you have the right mortgage product, term and rate for your mortgage needs. 

As always, if you have any questions about the information above or your mortgage in general, contact Victor Anasimiv, who is your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker in the Comox Valley.

Home Renovations Maybe Easier Than You Think

General Victor Anasimiv 4 Sep

Since home refinancing has been limited to a maximum 80% of the value of your home, an increasing number of buyers are looking at Purchase Plus Improvements products to meet their home financing needs.

This may be an option worth examining if you would like to buy a new home that needs updating. Whether you’re purchasing a home that needs just a small renovation or a major redo, a Purchase Plus Improvements mortgage can help you transform an ordinary house into your dream home.

How Purchase Plus Improvements works
Purchase Plus Improvements programs enable you to obtain funding for the cost of the home purchase as well as the cost of the renovations – up to a maximum value of 95% of the total purchase price.

Conditions of the program include:

  • As a borrower, you must provide a list of improvements with quotes at the time of application. As a result, more time may be required for Subject Removal
 
  • The initial advance of funds at time of closing will be up to 95% of the approved value of the property minus the cost of improvements
  • The balance of the funds will be held in trust by the solicitor until completion of the approved improvements (time limits may be imposed), which is confirmed via:
    • An inspection report or
    • Confirmation from a certified appraiser or
    • An invoice from the contractor who completed the improvements
  • Usual sub-search and Construction Lien Act requirements are to be adhered to at the time of release of holdback
  • Some restrictions may apply depending on the lender

As always, if you have any questions about the information above or your mortgage in general, contact Victor Anasimiv, your Comox Valley mortgage broker.

Mortgage Options for Separating Couples

General Victor Anasimiv 4 Sep

Since most couples have a joint mortgage – one where both names are on the mortgage and title of the home – when separation or divorce proceedings get underway, many wonder what will happen with the home.

When the marriage comes to an end, there are two obvious options concerning the home: 1) sell the property and split the proceeds according to your agreement and go your separate ways; or 2) one person buys the other party out of the mortgage and the title of the property.

The first option is a straight-forward transaction where you put the house up for sale, sell and split the proceeds. The second option, however, is slightly more complicated.

The decision between the options is a personal one borne out of the specific circumstances of the parties involved. Perhaps there are young kids involved that need to stay in the house, the market is down and there will be a loss on the property that neither party can afford, one party can afford to buy the other party out, etc.

Once the decision is made, how do you go about buying the other person out of a mortgage?  Well, essentially, you’re refinancing your mortgage using a single income (the person who’s buying the other party out of the house) and qualification, versus the original purchase, which was based on joint income and qualification.

If you’re the one buying your partner out, the first step is to ensure that you can afford the mortgage payments.

 

This is imperative because the lender will ask for proof that you’re capable of covering the mortgage in order for you to apply on your own. In addition to covering the mortgage amount, you’ll have to come up with whatever dollar amount you have agreed on to buy the other partner out. This may come out of the equity in your home if it’s sufficient.

In essence, if you can afford the mortgage on your own, the most common means of buying out your partner post-separation and transferring title out of the joint name and into your name, is to refinance. I can help you through each step of this process. And although the maximum refinance on a home is 80% of the appraised value, given the unique circumstances surrounding separation, you can often refinance up to 95% of your home’s value.

If you’re not in a financial position to buy your ex-partner out of the house, and you agree to both stay on title and have payment arrangements, there’s one warning to be taken very seriously – just because one person is responsible for the payments (even with a court order), if the mortgage goes into default, both parties on the mortgage will be affected.

The most important piece of advice when dealing with a mortgage during a separation is to become informed. Know your options, talk to professionals about your options, and make an informed decision regarding your home and mortgage.

As always, if you have any questions about the information above or your mortgage in general, contact Victor Anasimiv, your Comox Valley mortgage broker.

 

Top 5 Mortgage Mistakes people make

General Victor Anasimiv 4 Sep

Here are the Top 5 Mortgage Mistakes people make when trying to secure financing for their home:

  1. Failing to choose the best product for their situation
  2. Automatically renewing their current mortgage with their existing lender
  3. Signing documents without reading them
  4. Taking it to the limit – running up credit
  5. Not planning for your mortgage application

Understanding how the mortgage process works and how lenders qualify your loan will help you avoid the above mistakes. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, contact Victor Anasimiv, who is your IslandMortgageSpecialsit.ca