30 Jan

Are you in a Variable Rate Mortgage? Me too…

Latest News

Posted by: Jen Lowe

ARE YOU IN A VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE? ME TOO.

Are you in a Variable Rate Mortgage? Me too.

If you’re in a fixed rate mortgage, this news does not impact you. Mind you ‘impact’ is too strong a word to use for the subtle shift that occurred Jan 17, 2018.

Short Version

The math is as follows:

A payment increase of ~$13.10 per $100,000.00 of mortgage balance. (unless you are with TD or a specific Credit Union, in which case payments are fixed and change only at your specific request)

i.e. – A mortgage balance of $400,000.00 will see a payment increase of ~$54.40 per month

Personally, we are staying variable, for a variety of reasons…

Long Version

Qualification for variable rate mortgages has been at 4.64% or higher for some time. This required a household income of greater than $70,000.00 for said $400,000.00 mortgage .

Can 99% of said households handle a payment increase of $54.40 per month? Yes.

Will 99% of households be frustrated with this added expense? Yes.

Ability and annoyance are not the same thing.

Have these households enjoyed monthly payments up to $216.80 lower than those that chose a fixed rate mortgage originally? Yes.

Are 99% still saving money over having locked into a long term fixed from day one? Yes.

Should I lock in?

A more important question is ‘why did we choose variable to start with’? And this may lead to a critical question ‘Is there any chance I will break my mortgage before renewal’?

The penalty to prepay a variable mortgage is ~0.50% of the mortgage balance.

The penalty to prepay a 5-year fixed mortgage can increase by ~900% to ~4.5% of the mortgage balance. A massive increase in risk.

There are many considerations before locking in, many of which your lender is unlikely to discuss with you. It’s to the lenders advantage to have you locked into a fixed rate, rarely is it to your own benefit.

At the moment decisions are being made primarily out of fear. Fear of $13.10 per month per $100,000.00

What about locking into a shorter term?

Not a bad idea, although this depends on two things:

Which lender you are with as policies vary.
2. How many years into the mortgage term you are.

If your net rate is now 2.95%, and have the option of a 2-year or 3-year fixed ~3.00% – this may be a better move than full 5-year commitment.

Do not forget the difference in prepayment penalties, this is significant.

Bottom line – Know your numbers, know your product, stay cool, and ask your Dominion Lending Centres Broker.

These are small and manageable increases.

P.S.

It was a bit disappointing to see logic and fairness fail to enter the picture, after the last two Federal cuts to Prime in 2015 of 0.25% each the public received cuts of only 0.15% each time.

Every single lender moved in unison, not one dropped the full 0.25%.

Amazingly, not a single lender saw fit to increase rates by the exact same 0.15% on the way back up. Every lender has instead increased by 0.25% – a full 100% of the increase passed on to you, the borrower.

Not cool man, not cool at all.

We share all the pain of increases, and get only part of the pleasure of decreases.

I am disappointed by this, not surprised, but disappointed.

11 Dec

Is it Time to Lock in A Variable Rate Mortgage?

Latest News

Posted by: Jen Lowe

IS IT TIME TO LOCK IN A VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE?

Approximately 32 per cent of Canadians are in a variable rate mortgage, which with rates effectively declining steadily for the better part of the last ten years has worked well.

Recent increases triggers questions and concerns, and these questions and concerns are best expressed verbally with a direct call to your independent mortgage expert – not directly with the lender. There are nuances you may not think to consider before you lock in, and that almost certainly will not be primary topics for your lender.

Over the last several years there have been headlines warning us of impending doom with both house price implosion, and interest rate explosion, very little of which has come to fruition other than in a very few localised spots and for short periods of time thus far.

Before accepting what a lender may offer as a lock in rate, especially if you are considering freeing up cash for such things as renovations, travel or putting towards your children’s education, it is best to have your mortgage agent review all your options.

And even if you simply wanted to lock in the existing balance, again the conversation is crucial to have with the right person, as one of the key topics should be prepayment penalties.

In many fixed rate mortgage, the penalty can be quite substantial even when you aren’t very far into your mortgage term. People often assume the penalty for breaking a mortgage amounts to three months’ interest payments, which in the case of 90% of variable rate mortgages is correct. However, in a fixed rate mortgage, the penalty is the greater of three months’ interest or the interest rate differential (IRD).

The ‘IRD’ calculation is a byzantine formula. One designed by people working specifically in the best interests of shareholders, not the best interests of the client (you). The difference in penalties from a variable to a fixed rate product can be as much as a 900 per cent increase.

The massive penalties are designed for banks to recuperate any losses incurred by clients (you) breaking and renegotiating the mortgage at a lower rate. And so locking into a fixed rate product without careful planning can mean significant downside.

Keep in mind that penalties vary from lender to lender and there are different penalties for different types of mortgages. In addition, things like opting for a “cash back” mortgage can influence penalties even more to the negative, with a claw-back of that cash received way back when.

Another consideration is that certain lenders, and thus certain clients, have ‘fixed payment’ variable rate mortgages. Which means that the payment may at this point be artificially low, and locking into a fixed rate may trigger a more significant increase in the payment than expected.

There is no generally ‘correct’ answer to the question of locking in, the type of variable rate mortgage you hold and the potential changes coming up in your life are all important considerations. There is only a ‘specific-to-you’ answer, and even then – it is a decision made with the best information at hand at the time that it is made. Having a detailed conversation with the right people is crucial.

It should also be said that a poll of 33 economists just before the recent Bank of Canada rate increase had 27 advising against another increase. This would suggest that things may have moved too fast too soon as it is, and we may see another period of zero movement. The last time the Bank of Canada pushed the rate to the current level it sat at this level for nearly five full years.

Life is variable, perhaps your mortgage should be too.

As always, if you have questions about locking in your variable mortgage, or breaking your mortgage to secure a lower rate, or any general mortgage questions. contact me at j.lowe@dominionlending.ca

23 Oct

New Mortgage Changes Decoded

Latest News

Posted by: Jen Lowe

NEW MORTGAGE CHANGES DECODED

This week, OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) announced that effective January 1, 2018 the new Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures (Guidelines B-20) will be applied to all Federally Regulated Lenders. Note that this currently does not apply to Provincially Regulated Lenders (Credit Unions) but it is possible they will abide by and follow these guidelines when they are placed in to effect on January 1, 2018.

The changes to the guidelines are focused on
• the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages
• expectations around loan-to-value (LTV) frameworks and limits
• restrictions to transactions designed to work around those LTV limits.

What the above means in layman’s terms is the following:

OSFI STRESS TESTING WILL APPLY TO ALL CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGES

The new guidelines will require that all conventional mortgages (those with a down payment higher than 20%) will have to undergo stress testing. Stress testing means that the borrower would have to qualify at the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada (currently at 4.89%) or the contractual mortgage rate +2% (5 year fixed at 3.19% +2%=5.19% qualifying rate).

These changes effectively mean that an uninsured mortgage is now qualified with stricter guidelines than an insured mortgage with less than 20% down payment. The implications of this can be felt by both those purchasing a home and by those who are refinancing their mortgage. Let’s look at what the effect will be for both scenarios:

PURCHASING A NEW HOME
When purchasing a new home with these new guidelines, borrowing power is also restricted. Using the scenario of a dual income family making a combined annual income of $85,000 the borrowing amount would be:

Current Lending Guidelines

Qualifying at a rate of 3.34% with a 25-year amortization and the combined income of $85,000 annually, the couple would be able to purchase a home at $560,000

New lending Guidelines

Qualifying at a rate of 5.34% (contract mortgage rate +2%) with a 25-year amortization and the combined annual income of $85,000 you would be able to purchase a home of $455,000.

OUTCOME: This gives a reduced borrowing amount of $105,000…Again a much lower amount and lessens the borrowing power significantly.

REFINANCING A MORTGAGE

A dual-income family with a combined annual income of $85,000.00. The current value of their home is $700,000. They have a remaining mortgage balance of $415,000 and lenders will refinance to a maximum of 80% LTV.
The maximum amount available is: $560,000 minus the existing mortgage gives you $145, 0000 available in the equity of the home, provided you qualify to borrow it.

Current Lending Requirements
Qualifying at a rate of 3.34 with a 25-year amortization, and a combined annual income of $85,000 you are able to borrow $560,000. If you reduce your existing mortgage of $415,000 this means you could qualify to access the full $145,000 available in the equity of your home.

New Lending Requirements
Qualifying at a rate of 5.34% (contract mortgage rate +2%) with a 25-year amortization, combined with the annual income of $85,000 and you would be able to borrow $455,000. If you reduce your existing mortgage of $415,000 this means that of the $145,000 available in the equity of your home you would only qualify to access $40,000 of it.

OUTCOME: That gives us a reduced borrowing power of $105,000. A significant decrease and one that greatly effects the refinancing of a mortgage.

CHANGES AND RESTRICTIONS TO LOAN TO VALUE FRAMEWORKS (NO MORTGAGE BUNDLING)

Mortgage Bundling is when primary mortgage providers team up with an alternative lender to provide a second loan. Doing this allowed for borrowers to circumvent LTV (loan to value) limits.
Under the new guidelines bundled mortgages will no longer be allowed with federally regulated financial institutions. Bundled mortgages will still be an option, but they will be restricted to brokers finding private lenders to bundle behind the first mortgage with the alternate lender. With the broker now finding the private lender will come increased rates and lender fees.
As an example, we will compare the following:
A dual income family that makes a combined annual income of $85,000 wants to purchase a new home for $560,000. The lender is requiring a LTV of 80% (20% down payment of $112,000.00). The borrowers (our dual income family) only have 10% down payment of $56,000.. This means they will require alternate lending of 10% ($56,000) to meet the LTV of 20%.

Current Lending Guidelines
The alternate lender provides a second mortgage of $56,000 at approximately 4-6% and a lender fee of up to 1.25%.

New Lending Guidelines
A private lender must be used for the second mortgage of $56,000. This lender is going to charge fees up to 12% plus a lenders fee of up to 6%

OUTCOME: The interest rates and lender fees are significantly higher under the new guidelines, making it more expensive for this dual income family.

These changes are significant and they will have different implications for different people. Whether you are refinancing, purchasing or currently have a bundled mortgage, these changes could potentially impact you. We advise that if you do have any questions, concerns or want to know more that you contact me at j.lowe@dominionlending.ca for further info!

23 Mar

A Summary of the Recent Mortgage Changes

Latest News

Posted by: Jen Lowe

SUMMARY OF THE NEW MORTGAGE MARKET

Summary of the New Mortgage MarketThere have been a lot of changes in the mortgage market over the past few months so many Canadian’s plans regarding homeownership may have shifted quite a bit from last year.

First, new qualification rules came to pass in October where even though actual contract rates are sitting at about 2.79% all Canadians have to now qualify at the Bank of Canada Benchmark rate of 4.64% to prove payments can still be met when rates go up in the future. That has taken about 20% of people’s purchase power out of the equation.

The second round of rules were implemented at the end of November with the government requiring banks to carry more of the cost or lending having to do with how they utilize mortgage insurance and the level of capital they have to have on reserve. This means it is more costly for banks to lend so they are passing some of that cost to Canadians.

We now have a tiered rate pricing system based on whether you are “insurable” and meet new insurer requirement to qualify at 4.64% with a maximum 25-year amortization (CMHC, Genworth, Canada Guaranty are the 3 insurers in Canada) or are “uninsurable” where you may have more than 20% down but can’t qualify at the Benchmark rate or need an amortization longer than 25-years to qualify or are self-employed so can’t meet traditional income qualification requirements. Canadians who are uninsurable will be charged a premium to their rate of anywhere from 15-40bps. So your rate would go from 2.79% to 2.94% at the very least.

Then in BC there was the announcement of the BC HOME Partnership Program (BCHPP) in January. We have finally had some clarification on how this works but the benefits are not as grand as the BC Government would like them to appear.

The BCHPP is a tool to assist First Time Homebuyers supplement their down payment by the government matching what they have saved up to 5% of the purchase price. While this may help some clients bring more money to the table we have to factor a payment on that “loan” into the debt-servicing mix so they will actually qualify for less by way of a mortgage. They have more down payment but can not get as high a mortgage so it’s very close to a wash.

Lastly, as of mid January, CMHC announced they are increasing mortgage insurance premiums on March 17th. Genworth and Canada Guaranty are likely to follow. The insurance premiums are based on a percentage of the mortgage amount requested and how much you have to put down. For people with 5% down the premium will go from 3.60% to 4.00% and if you want to take advantage of the BCHPP program the premium will go from 3.85% up to 4.5%

What does this all mean? Overall it is more costly and more confusing to get a mortgage today than we have seen in many years. With the complexity of the new mortgage market, now more than ever buyers need someone with extensive knowledge to help them sort through their options – such as your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

If we can be of assistance to you or someone you know, please do not hesitate to contact us.