10 Jul

BANK OF CANADA MAINTAINS OVERNIGHT RATE AND RAISES 2019 FORECAST

General

Posted by: Alejandra Sanchez

The Bank of Canada held the target overnight rate at 1.75% for the sixth consecutive decision and showed little willingness to ease monetary policy, as stronger domestic growth offsets the risk of mounting global trade tensions. There has been ongoing speculation that the Bank of Canada would be pushed into cutting interest rates by the Fed. I do not believe the Bank will let the US dictate monetary policy when the Canadian economy is clearly on the mend. To be sure, trade tensions have slowed the global economic outlook, especially in curbing manufacturing activity, business investment, and lowering commodity prices. But the Bank as already incorporated these effects in previous Monetary Policy Reports (MPR) and today’s forecast has made further adjustments in light of weaker sentiment and activity in other major economies.

The Governing Council stated in today’s press release that central banks in the US and Europe have signalled their readiness to cut interest rates and further policy stimulus has been implemented in China. Thus, global financial conditions have eased substantially. The Bank now expects global GDP to grow by 3% in 2019 and to strengthen to 3.25% in 2020 and 2021, with the US slowing to a pace near its potential of around 2%. Escalation of trade tensions remains the most significant downside risk to the global and Canadian outlooks.

The Bank of Canada released the July MPR today, showing that following temporary weakness in late 2018 and early 2019, Canada’s economy is returning to growth around potential, as they have expected. Growth in the second quarter is stronger than earlier predicted, mostly due to some temporary factors, including the reversal of weather-related slowdowns in the first quarter and a surge in oil production. Consumption has strengthened, supported by a healthy labour market. At the national level, the housing market is stabilizing, although there remain significant adjustments underway in BC. A meaningful decline in longer-term mortgage rates is supporting housing activity. The Bank now expects real GDP growth to average 1.3% in 2019 and about 2% in 2020 and 2021.

Inflation remains at roughly the 2% target, with some upward pressure from higher food and auto prices. Core measures of inflation are also close to 2%. CPI inflation will likely dip this year because of the dynamics of gasoline prices and some other temporary factors. As slack in the economy is absorbed, and these temporary effects wane, inflation is expected to return sustainably to 2% by mid-2020.

Bottom Line: The Canadian economy is returning to potential growth. “As the Governing Council continues to monitor incoming data, it will pay particular attention to developments in the energy sector and the impact of trade conflicts on the prospects for Canadian growth and inflation.” With this statement, Governor Poloz puts Canadian rates firmly on hold as Fed Chair Jerome Powell signals openness to a rate cut as uncertainty dims the US outlook.

The Canadian central bank is in no hurry to move interest rates in either direction and has signalled it will remain on hold indefinitely, barring an unexpected exogenous shock.

2 Jul

TOP 5 THINGS MILLENNIALS SHOULD KNOW WHEN BUYING REAL ESTATE

General

Posted by: Alejandra Sanchez

Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

When we talk about buying a property, there are 9 million Millennials in Canada, representing more than 25 percent of the population. Born between 1980 and 1999, the eldest are in the early stages of their careers, forming households and buying their first homes. Buying a home is a daunting process for anyone, but especially so for the first-time home buyer. This is the largest and most important financial decision you will ever make and it should be done with the appropriate investment in time and energy. Making the effort to be financially literate will save you thousands of dollars and assure you make the right decisions for your longer-term financial security.

  1. Don’t rush into the housing market–do your homework: learn the basics of savings, credit and budgeting.

Lifelong savings is a crucial ingredient to financial prosperity. You must spend less than you earn, ideally saving at least 10 percent of your gross income. Put your savings on automatic pilot, having at least 10 percent of every paycheck automatically deducted. Money you don’t see you won’t spend. Contributing to an RRSP, at least enough to gain any matching funds your employer will provide, is essential. The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an ideal vehicle for saving for a down payment and now you can contribute as much as $10,000 a year.

You also need to establish a good credit record. Lenders want to see a record of your ability to pay your bills. As early as possible, get a credit card and put your name on cable, phone or other utility bills. Pay your bills and your rent in full and on time. Do not run up credit card lines of credit. The interest rates are exorbitant and the only one who benefits is your bank. Keep your credit card balances well below their credit limit.

Do a free credit check with Equifax every six months to learn your credit score and to see if there are any problems. Equifax tracks all of your credit history, which includes school loans, car loans, credit cards and computer loans.  Equifax grades you based on your responsible usage and payments.

Budgeting is also essential and it is easier than ever with online apps. You need to know how you spend your money to discover where there is waste and opportunity for savings. The CMHC Household Budget Calculator helps you take a realistic look at your current monthly expenses.

  1. Make a realistic projectory of your future household income and lifestyle and understand its implications for choosing the right property for you.
Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

Millennials are likely relatively new to the working world. Lenders want to see stability in employment and you generally need to show at least two years of steady income before you can be considered for a mortgage.  This also applies if you have been working for a few years in one career and then decide to change careers to something completely different. Lenders want to see continuous employment in the same field. If you are self-employed, it is more challenging, and you need professional advice on taking the proper steps to qualify for a mortgage.

Assess the stability of your job and the likely trajectory of your income. Millennials will not follow in the footsteps of their parents, working for one employer for forty years. In today’s world, no one has guaranteed job security. Take a realistic view of your future. Will your household income be rising? Will there be one income or two? Are there children in your future? Will you remain in the same city? The answers to these questions help to determine how much space you need, the appropriate type of residence, its location and the best mortgage for you.

Financial planning is key and it is dependent on your goals and expectations.

  1. This is not a Do-It-Yourself project: build a team of trusted professionals to guide you along.

You need expert advice. The first person you should talk to is an accredited mortgage professional. There is no out-of-pocket cost for their services. Indeed, they will save you money.

These people are trained financial planners and understand the ever-changing mortgage market. Take some time with them to understand the process before you jump in and find your head spinning with all the decisions you will ultimately have to make. They will give you a realistic idea of your borrowing potential. Before you fall in love with a house or condo, make sure you understand where you stand on the mortgage front. Mortgages are complex and one size does not fit all. You need an expert who will shop for the right mortgage for you. There are more than 200 mortgage lenders in Canada and they will compete for your business.

It is a very good idea to get a pre-approved mortgage amount before you start shopping. This is a more detailed process than just a rate hold (where a particular mortgage rate is guaranteed for a specified period of time). For a pre-approval, the lender will review all of your documentation except for the actual property.

There is far more to the correct mortgage decision than the interest rate you will pay. While getting the lowest rate is usually the first thing on every buyer’s mind, it shouldn’t be the most important. Six out of ten buyers break a five-year term mortgage by the third year, paying enormous penalties. These penalties vary between lenders. The fine print of your mortgage is key and that’s where an expert can save you money. How the penalty for breaking a mortgage is calculated is key and many monoline lenders have significantly more consumer-friendly calculations than the major banks.[2] A mortgage broker will help you find a mortgage with good prepayment privileges.

The next step is to engage a real estate agent. The seller pays the fee and a qualified realtor with good references will understand the housing market in your location. Make sure the property has lasting value. Once you find the right home, you will need a real estate lawyer, a home inspector, an insurance agent and possibly an appraiser. Make any offer contingent on a home inspection and remediation of significant deficiencies.

  1. Down payments, closing costs, moving expenses and basic upgrades need to be understood to avoid nasty surprises.
Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

The size of your down payment is key and, obviously, the bigger the better. You need a minimum of 5 percent of the purchase price and anything less than 20 percent will require you to pay a hefty CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium, which is frequently added to the mortgage principal and amortized over the life of the mortgage as part of the regular monthly payment.

Your lender will want to know the source of your down payment. Many Millennials will depend on the largesse of their parents to top up their down payment.

The down payment, however, is only part of the upfront cost. You can expect to pay from 1.5-to-4 percent of the purchase price of your home in closing costs. These costs include legal fees, appraisals, property transfer tax, HST (where applicable) on new properties, home and title insurance, mortgage life insurance and prepaid property tax and utility adjustments. These amount to thousands of dollars.

Don’t forget moving costs and essential upgrades to the property such as draperies or blinds in the bedroom.

  1. Test drive your monthly housing payments to learn how much you can truly afford.

Affordability is not about how much credit you can qualify for, but how much you can reasonably tolerate given your current and future income, stability, lifestyle and budget. Most Millennials underestimate what it costs to run a home, be it a condo or single-family residence.

The formal qualification guidelines used by lenders are two-fold: 1) your housing costs must be no more than 32 percent of your gross (pre-tax) household income; and, 2) your housing costs plus all other debt servicing must be no more than 40 percent of your gross income.

Lenders define housing costs as mortgage payments, property taxes, condo fees (if any) and heating costs.[3] But homes cost more than that. In your planning, you should also other utilities (such as cable, water and air conditioning), ongoing maintenance, home insurance and unexpected repairs. Taking all of these costs into consideration, the 32 percent and 40 percent guidelines might well put an unacceptable crimp in your lifestyle, keeping in mind that future children also add meaningfully to household expenses and two incomes can unexpectedly turn into one.

The best way to know what you can afford is to try it out. Say, for example, you qualify for a mortgage payment of $1400 a month and adding property taxes and condo fees might take your monthly housing expense to $1650.  A far cry from the $500 you pay now to split a place with 3 roommates. Start making the full payment before you buy to your savings account and see how it feels. Do you have enough money left over to maintain a tolerable lifestyle without going further into debt?

Keep in mind that this is not a normal interest rate environment. Don’t over-extend because there is a good chance interest rates will be higher when your term is up. Do the math (or better yet have your broker do it for you) on what a doubling of interest rates five years from now would do to your monthly payment.  A doubling of rates may be unlikely, but it makes sense to know the implication.

Do Your Calculations Look Discouraging?

If so, here are some things you can do to improve your situation:

  • Pay off some loans before you buy real estate.

    Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

    Top 5 Things Millennials Should Know When Buying Real Estate

  • Save for a larger down payment.
  • Take another look at your current household budget to see where you can spend less. The money you save can go towards a larger down payment.
  • Lower your home price — remember that your first home is not necessarily your dream home.

Footnotes:

[1] I would like to acknowledge and thank the many mortgage professionals of Dominion Lending Centres who made contributions to this report.

[2] People break mortgages because of job change, decision to upsize, change neighbourhoods, change in family status or refinancing. The last thing you want to discover is that discharging a $400,000 mortgage 3.5 years into a 5-year term is going to cost you $15,000.

[3] Lenders now also assess your qualification compliance if interest rates were to rise meaningfully, a likely scenario in this low interest rate environment.

2 Jul

THE PREDATORY LENDING SURGE IS HERE

General

Posted by: Alejandra Sanchez

mortgage

mortgage

As we’ve been reporting for months on our North East blog, instead of protecting many homeowners, the federal government’s restrictive mortgage rules are pushing people out of the safe mortgage market, and into the arms of secondary lenders.

By pushing people to the alternative lending market, they’re being pushed away from the safe harbour of high-quality lenders and into a less regulated and higher-interest area of the market.

To be clear: federal government policies are producing the opposite result of what the stated intention of the policies were.

What’s happened is the new rules, particularly the stress testing, have begun excluding many responsible Canadian homeowners who had previously qualified for mortgages, so many are unfortunately trying their luck with alternative lenders; either to handle their entire mortgage (highly inadvisable), or to top up a down payment.

In a recent paper for CIBC, economist Benjamin Tal says the data in Ontario shows people are increasingly looking to the alternative market for their mortgages.

“Over the past two years, mortgage originations provided by alternative lenders rose by a cumulative 27% while originations in the market as a whole fell by 11%,” Tal said in his report.

In pure dollar figures, he said the alternative mortgages now account for 7% of the market, up from 5% just two years ago.

This trend is worrying because desperate homeowners are seeking relief from these lenders, who will tell them they are suddenly able to qualify for a mortgage. There is, of course, a catch.

What these homebuyers may not realize is why they’re being accepted for those loans.

First, the alternative lenders tend not to be so strict when applying the stress test, because they don’t have to be. Regulation is looser on the alternative market, so by letting debt-to-income ratios climb much higher, it makes it easier for people to qualify for a mortgage. The catch is that by letting those ratios go higher, the homeowners are taking on more risk.

And more risk means lenders need to get something from consumers to make it worth their while. So, they’ll charge higher interest rates. They’ll tack on fees. They’ll add clauses to your mortgage that make it difficult—and costly—to refinance or get out of your mortgage.

Instead of paying in the 3% range, you’ll find yourself paying rates closer to 6%. Over the life of a mortgage, that’s thousands and thousands of extra dollars you’re flushing down the toilet, just on interest.

Someone who’s been denied a mortgage offered by a large bank or another first-tier lender and has been able to find a mortgage elsewhere may be relieved to be in their new home. But they’re sitting on a growing pile of toxic debt.

Things get even worse when homeowners find themselves on the private market.

Consider someone who’s been turned down for a traditional mortgage, and turned down again for a mortgage on the alternative market. Instead of paying that 6% on for an alternative mortgage, you’ll be looking at rates comparable to credit cards; in the double digits, sometimes as high as 21%.

To make matters worse, you’ll be trapped. These private lenders often set the value of your house much higher than anyone else would, essentially locking you in with them. Even if you’re able to turn your financial circumstances around, there’s no way you can refinance a loan for a property worth less than the mortgage is valued.

Until the government changes direction, consumers on the edge of the primary market are just going to have to wait a bit longer to build their nests, lest they get themselves into real trouble.

If a reputable broker is telling someone their file doesn’t work, there’s probably good reason for it. People aren’t turned down for mortgages because a bank or a broker doesn’t want their financing. They’re being turned down for specific reasons.

The whole purpose of these rules, like the enhanced stress test, was to keep people from taking on toxic debt. And what the rules are doing in practice is placing those marginal homeowners in a situation much worse than what they’re being protected from.

2 Jul

What is a CHIP Reverse Mortgage?

General

Posted by: Alejandra Sanchez

INCOME TODAY. YOUR HOME FOR A LIFETIME.

It’s where you raised your family and built your memories. When something means this much to you, it can be hard to think about the challenges. But challenges do exist.

If you’re like many Canadians, you’ve spent much of your life working hard and diligently making your mortgage payments. Yet now that you need income the most, there’s a good chance the bulk of your net worth is locked up as equity in your home. Fortunately there’s a solution. By choosing the CHIP Reverse Mortgage, you receive income in your lifetime while retaining full control of the place where you rest your head.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW CHIP REVERSE MORTGAGES WORK


Security. Ownership. Flexibility – CHIP Reverse Mortgage

The CHIP Home Income Plan, now called a CHIP Reverse Mortgage, was created by HomEquity Bank, a Schedule 1 Canadian Bank. It was founded 30 years ago as an annuity based solution addressing the financial needs of Canadians who want to access the equity of their top asset – their home.


 

A SECURE SOURCE OF INCOME

Simply put, a CHIP Reverse Mortgage is a loan secured by your home with a big difference. With CHIP, you do not have to make any payments interest or principal for as long as you or your spouse live there. All you have to do is keep your property in good maintenance, pay your property taxes and property insurance.

DESIGNED WITH HOMEOWNERS IN MIND

At your stage of life, excessive risk is the last thing you need. That’s why we specifically designed the CHIP Reverse Mortgage to be financially sound. You maintain full ownership of your home. And we guarantee you’ll never owe more than the fair market value at the time it is sold, so you can rest assured your CHIP Reverse Mortgage will never be a burden to your heirs.

A CANADIAN SOLUTION

The CHIP Reverse Mortgage was created for the express purpose of helping Canadian homeowners. It is recognized by all of our country’s major banks (and many small ones) as well as credit unions and financial planners.

CHIP Reverse Mortgage

2 Jul

4 HOME IMPROVEMENTS THAT WILL PAY YOU BACK

General

Posted by: Alejandra Sanchez

Some home improvements provide more of a payback when you sell the house down the road.

Here’s a list of the four home improvements which will provide the biggest payback when you sell.

  1.  Adding square footage – while this can be a very expensive project, adding to the size of a house can re-coup between 50-83% of your initial investment. Putting a bonus room on top of your front facing garage increases the square footage without having to enlarge the foundation.
  2. A deck addition – adding a deck makes a house feel larger and allows you to enjoy your backyard during the warmer months. Typically you can get between 65-90% of your investment back .
  3. Re-modeling the kitchen – one of the most important rooms in the house is the kitchen. A well done project will get you between 50-120% back when you sell the house but remember not to over-do the project. A million dollar kitchen in a $500,000 home won’t be fully appreciated by future buyers.
  4. A bathroom addition – the second room buyers check out is the bathroom. While re-modeling a bathroom will recoup a lot of the renovation costs adding a second bathroom to a one bathroom home is huge. Many home owners find that they get between 80-130% of the cost of the project.

If you are thinking about buying a home or renovating your present home, speak to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional about how they can help you to finance any of these projects in your mortgage and pay low interest rates.