portable mortgage

Variable Mortgages Are Not Portable!

Variable mortgages up to late summer of 2011 were very attractive due to the large discount off prime at that time (prime less 0.75%).  Many homeowners and real estate investors took advantage of getting a variable mortgage on their home or real estate investment properties.  The mortgage product is portable and assumable which means the homeowner or real estate investor can port (transfer) the mortgage to a new home as long they qualify and it's done within a certain period of time between selling one property and buying another (typically 90 to 120 days). As for being assumable, the mortgage can be taken over by the buyer should they qualify.There is a catch however when porting a variable mortgage.  Unless the exact mortgage amount is transferred over to the new property, lenders will reset the rate to whatever the market rate is at that time.  Here is an example, let's say the borrower got a variable mortgage at prime-0.75% and the balance at the time of moving is $250,000. They are buying a home which will require the mortgage amount to increase to $300,000.  The borrower can consider 2 options:

  • Port the mortgage of $250,000 and obtain a line of credit for the difference, in this case $50,000 in order to maintain the prime-0.75% on the variable mortgage
  • Obtain a new $300,000 variable mortgage at today's rates (prime-0.1% to prime+0.1%) with the same lender without incurring a penalty

In the above case, it's clear that keeping the mortgage at prime-0.75% is a wise option.  It's important to understand the fine print of the mortgage and and discuss the available options with your mortgage professional.

As for the blog post title, yes variable mortgages are portable, but with a catch!

To discuss your personal mortgage financing situation, please contact me.

2 Factors That Can Affect Your Home Value

Toronto and GTA's real estate values have increased significantly over the last 10 years.  The prices continue to increase as the global economy struggles to emerge out of the slowdown since late 2008.  There are 2 factors that can negatively affect the housing market in Toronto, GTA as well as Canada: Interest rate and/or unemployment spike.

1/ Interest Rate Spike

For the last 3 years, Canadian homeownerns and real estate investors have enjoyed historically low interest rates which have resulted in record sales and prices.  Interest rates have remained low to stimulate consumer spending and promote GDP growth.  As Canadians reach record debt levels (approximately $1.50 of debt to $1 earned), Canadians are running out of steam for further debt accumulation. Many Canadians have fixed mortgages in the 3.3%-3.8% and variable mortgages at the prime minus level.

In order to save the global economy from a depression, governments around the world took on aggressive stimulus (printing money) since late 2008 which will result in high inflation sometime in the future.  As inflation becomes the primary objective of governments, interest rates will have to rise to control and moderate inflation.  Canada is already experiencing high inflation numbers, however the Bank of Canada is choosing to keep its benchmark rate low due to the uncertainty originating out of Europe.

A spike in interest rates would effect Canadians since mortgages will renew at higher interest rates and unsecured loans would cost more.  Based on August 2011 data, the affordability index in Toronto for 2 storey homes and bungalows is at 61.4% and 51.9% respectively (http://goo.gl/8rK5B). If one assumes that an income earner is taxed at 40%, it means that in order to buy a 2 storey or bungalow in Toronto, 2 incomes are required. Condos are a more affordable option in Toronto at 34.2%.

A spike in interest rates which diminish the ability of many to qualify for a mortgage especially insured since qualification is based on posted rates.  Demand would therefore be reduced since less buyers can qualify for a mortgage.

The main point to take away from this post is to have a plan regarding mortgage/debt paydown and plan to renew ones mortgage at a 6% level.  For more information, click here.

My next post will discuss unemployment spike.

What's Happening To Variable Mortgages?

What Was That Lender's Name Again?

Mortgage brokers promote dealing with 20 or more lenders.  However, many homeowners only recognize the big 6 banks they have seen on street corners.  So who are these other lenders that brokers promote?In Canada, approximately 25% of homeowners use the services of a mortgage broker.  These lenders are Canadian owned and operated, but choose to fund their mortgages through the broker channel to cut overhead costs on "brick and mortar".  Afterall, having full-time salaried employees with benefits cost money, not to mention the costs of operating a bank branch.  Due to the reduction of expenses for the "non-bank" lenders, they tend to pass on the savings to borrowers through lower rates.

What are The Risks of Dealing With Non-Bank Lenders?

There is a mis-conception, especially after the financial credit crunch in late 2008, that borrowers will lose their homes if the mortgage is funded by a non-bank lender.  This is absolutely not true.  The risk is assumed by the lender since they are the ones giving out their money with the understanding the borrower will repay the mortgage on time.  Also, keep in mind these lenders function under the Canadian Government rules and laws.

Why Should I Choose a Non-Bank Lender Over A Bank?

You don't have to.  A non-bank lender is an option that is presented by your mortgage professional to consider.  Other important factors to consider when choosing a lender are:

  • How is the mortgage penalty calculated?
  • If I decide to lock in, do I get the posted or discounted rate (typically 1.5% difference)?
  • What features are built into the mortgage (pre-payment, increased payment, portable, assumable...)?
  • What are the fine print terms that I should be aware of?
  • Who & how will my mortgage be managed? Afterall, getting a mortgage is one thing but working with someone who will oversee the mortgage and optimize it to reduce overall interest is another skill (click here for inflation hedge mortgage strategy)

Bottom line, if you pay your mortgage on time no on will take your home away!  This is Canada afterall.

To discuss your personal mortgage financing situation, please contact me.

Why Ultra Low Mortgage Rates Are Not Good?

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We have experienced low mortgage rates since the financial credit crisis in late 2008.  The purpose of the low rates is to stimulate consumer spending which will result in economic growth and recovery out of the recession.  In the last few weeks, there have been talks regarding the European debt crisis and how similar it looks like the 2008 credit crisis.  It started with Ireland and Greece, which are considered small economies in Europe. The credit crisis talks have shifted to Spain and Italy which are large economies.  As Germany and France continue to bailout their Euro zone counterparts, they accumulate more debt.  There were talks last week that France is in financial trouble which resulted in a stock market sell off among other bad economic news.  The bottom line there is a storm brewing in Europe which will come to fruition sooner or later.  This uncertainity has resulted in bond yields dropping to historic lows which will result in lower fixed mortgage rates.

There are now possibilities the Bank of Canada might hold or even consider cutting its benchmark rate (which sets prime rate) to stimulate the Canadian economy just in case Canada gets dragged into a slowdown due to what's happening in US & Europe.  This means continued low rates for the foreseeable future.

So What You Might Ask?

The concern with even lower interest rates, is creating more demand in the Canadian real estate market.  This is good news for first time home buyers since the affordability requirements will drop, however, more bidding wars might result (I can only comment on Toronto's real estate market since this is where I conduct my business) and some would lose out.  Canadian household debt is already at an all time high and taking on further debt could result in an unpleasant consequences for all (http://goo.gl/zzcDH).  The lower rates will pull the future demand into the present and leave a void in the future.  The other concern is Canadians getting used to these low mortgage rates and not plan for higher interest rate environment when mortgages renew in a few years from now.

Finally, taking on debt with a responsible plan to pay if off can be a good thing. However, taking on debt and not planning for higher interest environment will have dire consequences.

To discuss your personal mortgage financing situation, please contact me.

 

Are Mortgage Interest Rates Dropping?

My Commentary On What The Bank Of Canada Said Today

Where Is Prime Rate Going?

Is That The Best Rate You Have?

Best-mortgage_rate

In today's competitive mortgage market, there is lots of "lowest interest rate" and "best mortgage rates" advertising in the media. I even saw a jeweler offering mortgages!!  Is the best rate really what's best for one's situation?

Asking for and making a decision strictly on lowest rate is similar to someone walking into a financial planner's office and asking for the lowest MER mutual fund.  Mortgages are investments and need to be chosen based on where the economy is currently, what's expected to happen with interest rates over the next few years (inflation, job creation and global factors), personal and financial situation and borrower's risk tolerance. The fine print of the mortgage such as compounding, prepayment priviliges, increased payments, portability, assumability and how the penalty is calculated are important features to be understood upfront prior to commiting to a mortgage product.  It's unfortunate that homeonwers have been programmed to get the lowest rate, set the payment and not look at the mortgage till renewal time. There are significant opportunities in optimizing the mortgage to reduce the amortization and build significant equity in a shorter period of time if the mortgage is managed properly by a professional.

The next time you are in the market for a mortgage whether you are buying a home or an investment property, renewing, or refinancing, please email me to send you a checklist of factors to consider in choosing what's right for you and your family.

Please contact me should you have any questions regarding your mortgage.

Why Having A Portable Mortgage Can Save You Money?

For the past few years, we have enjoyed historically low fixed rates (3.4% - 4%).  Many homeowners have taken advantage of these rates and locked in for a 5 year term.  As the economy has stabilized and is in a growth mode, fixed rates have started and will continue to increase as more jobs are created and inflation picks up pace.

What is a portable mortgage?

A portable mortgage allows the homeowner to move the mortgage with them to their new home as long as they qualify (good income & credit). This feature saves the homeowner thousands of penalty dollars by avoiding the need to break the mortgage.

Personal and family situations from having a family, moving due to a new job or moving to a bigger home may happen within 5 years.  Having a portable mortgage is important to avoid paying a penalty.

The next time you are about to get a mortgage whether you are a first time home buyer or acquiring an investment property, ensure your mortgage is portable.

To discuss your personal mortgage or answer questions regarding mortgage financing, please contact me.