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Home Renovations: Reality Television vs. Actual Reality

Millions love watching home reno shows – but how easy is it to do (and fund) such projects in real life? As seen in REW.ca

Home renovation shows are very popular today and are one of our favorite shows to watch. These shows are not only entertaining but tend to lead you to think how easy and quick it is to renovate your home. And we know that viewers enjoy the shows more when they are filmed in Vancouver as you recognize certain landmarks or streets, which you see often when you watch shows like Love it or List it Vancouver and Game of Homes. However, television shows are unrealistic, highly edited and can mislead people on the renovation process.

It’s true that we have become more knowledgeable about design and we definitely want the latest interior finishes and stylish open interiors that we see on television shows. But homeowners really need to understand all the less entertaining but very important factors involved in a home.

The Financing86800398 (2)

Most home renovations shows do not talk about the financing aspect of the renovation – that’s not considered “sexy” enough for TV. But it is one of the most important aspects of your project – how are you going to pay for it?

Before you commit to a renovation project, meet with a mortgage expert to help you assess your financial situation. Every person’s financial needs and options are unique.

When asked, most people say they are financing their renovation with a line of credit. While you are only required to make payments on the interest only, many people are under the impression that they can manage paying the interest and go ahead with the renovations. The danger with using this type of financing is that eventually the principal has to be paid and you end up paying huge interest costs.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) will give you a lower interest rate… if you currently have one in place. If you don’t, you will need to have at least 35 per cent of equity in your home to qualify for one (based on the current mortgage rules by the Bank Act).

Currently, you can refinance up to 80 per cent of the value of your home for a mortgage based on the appraised value. With today’s historical low interest rates, you will end up paying a higher interest rate on a line of credit or HELOC, and you are unlikely to pay down the principal compared to a lower interest rate with a closed mortgage where you pay principal and interest, saving you thousands in interest.

Another thing to consider if you are unable to pay off the debt quickly is that you might be better off to refinance your mortgage. It might be more beneficial to get a one- to five-year locked mortgage below three per cent by saving interest up front and using your lender’s pre-payment privileges. If you currently have a fixed-rate mortgage, find out what would be your penalty for paying it out early, it might still be worth it to refinance.

The BudgetBudget-Cost

On television, the designer often has some budget like $80,000 to renovate an entire main floor including the kitchen and finish the downstairs basement. The question is – are those numbers realistic? The reality is that we, as viewers, are not aware what has been factored into those numbers by the television producers such as design fees, permits, labour, material costs, and promotional giveaways, etc.

In order to have a realistic budget for your renovation, do research before you commit. Some people get a specific number set in their mind without knowing what is involved in the total scope of the renovation. It is critical in this step to work with a professional renovator as it will reduce surprises. Homeowners need to take responsibility for the renovator they select and for doing their homework.

A great source for proven renovators builders is an association such as The Greater Vancouver Home Builder’s Association (www.gvhba.org). As a general rule, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. So don’t automatically go for the lowest price.

A professional renovator will work with you to create a detailed budget and timeline for your project so you know what to expect. Once you start selecting materials it is a good idea to take the budget with you to ensure you stay within your budget. There are times that homeowners run out of money midway through the project because they made too many changes along the way or ended up selecting more expensive materials.

The Tim3d-character-and-question-mark-eline

On television, renovations are completed withi
n a few short weeks. The homeowners come in and are mesmerized by the transformation. The reality is that sometimes it can take up to eight weeks just for the kitchen cabinets to get built.

Before you start your renovation, prepare a timeline with a renovator so you know what to expect. By doing this, you will have an exact idea how long it will take to do the tasks and therefore plan accordingly.

Also, it’s important to remember that quality, professional renovators aren’t necessarily available right away. Some are booked months in advance, depending on the project. In order to stay on track, materials have to be bought ahead of time and certain items could be out of stock. It might take additional time to get them or in some cases replace them. It is important to remember that even fast projects still take a few months, while bigger projects can take up to a year to complete. Therefore, you need to be prepared.

consultation-photo

The Plans

On most of the renovation shows you have the interior designer come into the home with their assistants and an iPad and start moving walls and design the new space within minutes.

In real life, renovations can be boring because every step of the process is well planned. When it comes to structural changes in the home, such as moving walls, doors, windows or adding additions, a structural engineer may be required in order to obtain a permits. A renovator needs to plan for these type of engineering costs and time delays in order to complete the project.

So when you do your own renovations, it may not have all the excitement that you have seen on the television shows – but we do know this. As long as you take into consideration the above factors, you will be happy with the end result. One that – despite the time, effort and money involved – you will be proud to come home to.

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What Happens When Financing Falls Through?

If your mortgage approval is rescinded at the last minute, your purchase could be in jeopardy. Here’s how to fix it. As seen in REW.ca

Q: I’m buying an old house, and the offer subject to financing. But what happens if the bank doesn’t approve the house and my financing falls through at the last minute?

A: If your financing falls through at the last minute, we would advise to get an extension on your subject removal date and not remove subjects until your financing is in place.

When you put an offer to purchase a home, you are saying that you will be buying the home provided all the conditions are fulfilled prior to you giving a deposit. Those conditions are commonly refer to as “subject,” such as subject to inspection, review of the strata minutes, financing, etc. During this time you will do your due diligence along with your real estate agent and mortgage expert via the lender. Prior to putting an offer, you would have been pre-approved or pre-qualified. While the lender might have approved you, they have still not approved the property you are purchasing.

Once you have an accepted offer the lender will issue a commitment letter agreeing to approve your mortgage provided you can fulfill the financing conditions. Some of these conditions include income confirmation, source of down payment, appraisal (if required), and approval of property such as property disclosure statement, strata minutes, Form B, etc. It is critical that the lender reviews and approves all of these documents before removing subjects. There has been cases where the lender has no issues with the borrowers but has issues with the property and therefore will not approve the financing.

When you work with a bank you only have one option, but when you work with a mortgage expert because we have access to multiple lenders if one lender doesn’t approve the mortgage, then we are able to go to another lender. This will save time and stress to the client. We have seen many situation in which the lender is not comfortable with the property so, in order to get financing with other lenders, an extension of one or two days is required to ensure all financing conditions are fulfilled and the client feels comfortable in removing subjects.


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Do I Really Need Mortgage Pre-Approval Before House-Hunting? – conclusion

Mortgage pre-approvals are often recommended for would-be homebuyers – but there are exceptions to every rule. As seen in Rew.ca

Q: I’m beginning my search for a new home. Is it really necessary to get pre-approved for a mortgage first, especially with interest rates going down?

A: Last month we explained the difference between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage. We often recommend that buyers get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified) before they start house-hunting, to put them in the best possible position when that perfect home comes up. But of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

preapproved1Whether you get pre-approved or not, it’s very important to figure out how much you can afford to pay before you start looking. Most home buyers have a rough idea of how much they would feel comfortable paying every month on their mortgage. However, there is no quick and dirty way to translate that monthly payment into a specific maximum mortgage amount. Other factors have to be taken into consideration such as down payment amount, closing costs, mortgage default insurance, property taxes, strata fees (if applicable) and heating costs. And you might be qualified to borrow more or less than you think, depending on your income, debts and credit history.

As discussed last time, obtaining pre-approval on a mortgage can offer advantages, particularly in terms of locking in a great rate for up to 120 days. However, it isn’t always advantageous, depending on the situation.

For example, we recently had a client who had a considerable sum to put as a down payment on a new home. With the price range he was looking at, the loan to value (LTV) ratio would have been close to 50 per cent. As previously mentioned, the most important thing is what you are comfortable paying on a monthly basis, not what you qualify for. This client wanted to keep his payments only a little bit above what he had been paying in rent. He had a great job and income, so he would have been able to qualify for a lot more. He had no credit card debt, no loans or lines of credit but had an established credit history.

Therefore, in this case, we didn’t get him pre-approved, because we knew there would be no problem getting him a great mortgage when the right time came. But we did do an in-depth analysis of his financial situation so he would know what his mortgage payment would be on the price range he was looking at, and also the maximum amount he would qualify for so he would have a wider price range to work with if necessary.

In addition, as interest rates were going down, there was no need to lock in a rate from a lender. However, if we had noticed that interest rates would be moving up again during his house hunting, we would have obtained a pre-approval. As mortgage experts, we do a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure we have the best options for our clients and provide them with the best mortgage available.

It is also important to remember that getting pre-approved doesn’t mean that your mortgage has been fully approved. The final approval is given once you have an accepted offer, your application has been submitted to the lender, and the lender has received and approved all the outstanding financing conditions outlined in a commitment letter.

Purchasing a home can be an emotional and time-consuming process as you want to make sure you find the right home for your needs. Knowing what you qualify for is critical when you start working with your real estate agent, as it shows you are a well-qualified buyer who is serious about purchasing a home. In fact, some agents won’t even show properties to buyers who haven’t talked to a mortgage expert or bank.

Talk to a mortgage expert to find out how much you qualify for and get you started on the road to homeownership.


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The Bank of Canada drops the key interest rate. How does this change will impact me?

It was a huge surprise to everyone when the Bank of Canada announced yesterday that it is cutting its key interest rate by 0.25% to 0.75% from 1.00%.  There hasn’t been a movement upwards on downwards in the key interest rate in over 4 years.

The big question is – What impact is this change going to have on me?

Cheaper mortgages for clients that have variable or adjustable mortgages:
Since variable and adjustable rate mortgages are determined by the prime interest rate and are linked to the overnight interest rate of the Bank of Canada. This will also be dependent on each individual lender if they reduce their own prime interest rate.  Current mortgage holders with fixed interest rates, will not see a change on your monthly payments. However, people that are taking a new fixed rate mortgage or renewing their old one right now could see the interest rates come down. The reason being that fixed mortgage rates are dependent on the bond market.  The bond market have already started to come down of the change in the interest rate by the Bank of Canada.

Unsecured and secured lines of credits:
Similar to the variable and adjustable mortgages, unsecured and secured lines of credit are normally linked to the bank’s prime interest rate which is linked to the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate. Which means that if you are borrowing money from a line of credit your cost of borrowing will come down. Again, this will be dependent whether or not the bank cuts their prime interest rate.

There was a huge drop on the loonie:
With yesterday’s announcement on the drop of the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate it affected the Canadian dollar as it had a huge drop.  This means that if you are looking a shopping in the States or planning an international trip it is going to cost more.

Saving accounts:
By the Bank of Canada changing the overnight rate it will affect the interest you will get from having money in a traditional savings account. There won’t be a huge change but if you are not earning much interest before you will be earning even less.  Perhaps it might be worth it to explore other options.
Is your mortgage coming up for renewal, you are thinking of refinancing or looking at purchasing a new home? We will be pleased to help you explore your options based on your individual needs.  After all, it is not about the mortgage, it’s about a strategy that is going to help you save time and money in the long run especially when interest rates start going up!


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What it means to you with the increase in mortgage premiums from CMHC?

On Friday, CMHC (Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation) announced that it will be increasing its mortgage insurance premiums for homeowners and 1-4 unit rental properties premium effective May 1, 2014.

Homebuyers is Canada are required by law to purchase mortgage insurance when they put less than 20% down payment on the purchase price of the home. The homeowner is required to pay for the insurance in case they default on their mortgage and it is a protection for the lender. The increase to the premium will be an average of about 15% more to insure mortgages. This premium is added to the mortgage amount and it is paid throughout the life of the mortgage (amortization period). The increase in premium will affect any purchases that occur on or after May 1, 2014.

There majority of the insurance is provided by CMHC and there are two private insurers to include Genworth Financial and Canada Guarantee. Genworth Financial followed suit by increasing its’ premiums on Friday and most likely Canada Guarantee will do the same.

Prior to the announcement, the premium ranged between 0.5% to 2.75%. As of May 1st, the premiums will range from 0.6% to 3.15%. The premiums charged depend on the amount of the down payment. With a 5% down payment the new premium will be 3.15% and 2.40% for a 10% down payment.

For example, prior to the announcement with a $400,000 home purchase and a 5% down payment the insurance premium would be $10,450. After May 1st, the premium would increase by $1,520 which would translate to $7.29 more per month with a 25 year amortization and a 5 year, fixed rate of 3.09%.

To read more about the CMHC announcement 

As always, we would be pleased to answer any questions you might have.


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Financial Literacy presentation for adults & the entire family (ages 12 & up)!

You are invited to a complimentary presentation on Financial Literacy for adults & the entire family (ages 12 & up)!

November is Financial Literacy month!

You don’t have to look very far to read an article in the newspaper or watch a segment in the news talking about the lack of education when it comes to teaching youth and adults the basics about Financial Literacy.

We will be hosting an educational presentation on Financial Literacy for adults and the entire family (ages 12 and up)! While the topic of Financial Literacy can be dry, dull and boring this presentation was designed to be an incredibly powerful program that will both educate and entertain. This presentation will provide some good information about the understanding of money management and investing. The presentation is based on the EnRiched Academy  program that was endorsed by Jim Treliving and Bruce Croxon from the Dragon’s Den.

We will be covering the following topics:

  • Understanding how money works and where most North Americans are financially
  • Money myths and misconceptions
  • Why some people, including high earners, never get around to saving money & how to avoid the pitfall
  • How important is to create the habit of saving money as early in life as possible
  • The power of saving 10% of what you can earn and more
  • The magic behind compounding interest and how it works
  • How to systemize your savings and where to put your money for maximum wealth building
  • How credit cards, credit score and credit card interest work
  • What happens if you only make minimum payments or neglect to pay your credit card on time
  • 6 steps to having an A+ credit score
  • What “Good Debt” and “Bad Debt” are and what makes the difference
  • Your personal brand and how it can have an impact on your future

Dates: 

Saturday, November 2nd from 10 am to noon at Collingwood Neighbourhood House located at 5288 Joyce Street, Vancouver (room A multi-purpose room on the main level).

Saturday, November 16th from 10 am to noon at the Fleetwood Community Centre located at 15996 – 84th Avenue, Surrey (room 3).

For more details and to register, please:

Email: aaragon@dominionlending.ca or jaragon@dominionlending.ca

Call: 778.893.0525 or 604.931.9000

Reserve your spot today as space is limited.

You don’t want to miss this great event!