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What If I Don’t Have the Full Down Payment?

Raising a down payment can be the trickiest part of buying in Vancouver’s hot market – but some programs may help. As seen in REW.ca

Q: I really want to put in an offer on a condo, but I haven’t raised the full down payment amount yet? Do I have any options?

A: The minimum down payment required is 5 per cent of the purchase price of the home you are buying – if you are employed. For those who are self-employed, it will depend if you are qualifying based on what you are declaring on your income tax then it will be 5 per cent, and at least 10 per cent if you are self-employed and qualifying with an “estimated” gross income instead of the income showing on your tax return. And if you want to avoid paying mortgage default insurance, you need to have at least a 20 per cent down payment.

However, there are programs available that enable you to use other forms of down payment when you don’t have the full down payment.

  • RRSPs: If you are a first-time home buyer,income-report you can use up to $25,000 from your RRSP without paying any personal taxes. However, you will have to repay any amount withdrawn from your RRSP for down payment of a home purchase.
  • Gift from a family member: You can get money gifted from a parent, child or sibling to go towards the down payment. The lender will ask that the person that is giving you the gift signs a letter stating that the funds are a gift and are not to be repaid.
  • Borrowed down payment: You can borrow from a line of credit, get a loan or use your credit cards to complete your down payment. However, in order to qualify, you still have to be within the Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio. The TDS ratio measures your total debt obligations (including housing costs, loans, car payments and credit card bills). Generally speaking, your TDS ratio should be no more than 44 per cent of your gross monthly income.

Once you have raised the full down payment and made your offer, you will still need solid advice on which mortgage is best for you. By working with a mortgage expert, you have access to multiple lenders including banks, credit unions and other lenders that only work with brokers, which will ensure that they can find the best mortgage for your individual needs.

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Coming out on top. Improve your chances, and reduce your stress, in a multiple offer situation.

As seen in the Metro Vancouver New Home Guide   .

Whether you are a first time buyer, looking at buying a bigger house or downsizing, if you are looking at buying an investment property it is important to be prepared. This spring a sellers’ market is in full swing, which is more noticeable in certain areas of the Lower Mainland. With historically low interest rates, buyers are making the jump into homeownership, because for many, their mortgage payments will be less than what they are paying in rent. It is certainly a great time to get into the market. However, in a sellers’ market buyers find themselves in competition with other buyers to purchase a home.

House in the hands of the man on a background of blue skyBuying a home can be exciting but having to compete for a home can add a bit more stress. In this case, a property’s asking price and what the property will sell for is quite different, and in most cases the selling price will be well above and beyond the listed price.

When a homebuyer goes into a multiple offer situation, they are less in control. As a buyer, you need to prepare yourself in doing work upfront and with the understanding that you might not get the property in the end.

During multiple offer situations, the seller is not obligated to negotiate or accept any of the offers. The seller has the liberty to choose the best offer to negotiate and they will accept the offer that best reflects their needs. While price is important, that will not be the only factor they consider. They will also look at things such as subject conditions, completion and possession dates.

Here are some things you can consider and help you feel more in control of the situation when going into multiple offer situations:

  • Get pre-qualified by a Mortgage Expert – One of the most imortgage_pre_approval_300mportant aspects of buying a home is knowing how much you qualify for. You will know what you are comfortable paying on a monthly basis but also what is the highest amount you can offer. While you might have been qualified, the lender still have to approve the property you are buying.
  • Prepare and have all your documentation ready – It is important that you provide your Mortgage Expert will all the documentation the lender is going to require upfront. Especially since time will be of essence, you don’t want the added stress of getting documentation when you are in the middle of negotiations and during the subject condition period.
  • Having the right real estate agent – It is critical that you have an agent that has your best interest in mind. As a buyer it is not your job to seal the deal, it’s your agent’s responsibility to know what is your limit and respect that. Don’t let your agent try to upsell you on the price and encourage you to go above your budget. It’s their job to research comparable properties in the area and advise you, but you are the one that makes the final decision. After all, it’s your money.
  • Set your boundaries – Onhome & calclatorce you set your budget, stick to it. Determine how exactly how much you can go over if you end up in multiple offers. Don’t get sucked in by emotion and peer pressure because in the end it can end up costing you a lot more money.
  • Consider doing a home inspection ahead of time – The buyer could consider your offer more readily if it doesn’t include a “subject to inspection” clause.
  • Be flexible – Winning a multiple offer situation might be as easy as agreeing to the seller’s conditions such as closing dates, buying the property “as is” or even tightening the subject removal dates. This is important if the seller has already bought another property and is anxious to moving on. By agreeing to make the transaction as easy as possible could mean winning over a more generous offer. When buying a property “as is” and limiting the subject conditions (such as requesting that a missing knob or floor tile be replaced) might work in your favour too. If your agent is aware of any information about the seller’s situation and if you can be flexible in any way, take advantage of this opportunity that might help you get your offer accepted.
  • first_time_buyers_480Write it down – Perhaps you might want to write a quick letter to the seller explaining who you are and why you want to buy their home so much. Buying and selling a home is an emotional time for everyone, especially if the seller has lived in that home for a long time and raised their family there. Sometimes, it’s not about the highest offer but it can certainly also be about an emotional connection. Even though your offer might be lower than the others, some sellers might feel a strong connection to your story and decide that it’s not about the money but about someone who will really appreciate a great home!
  • Know when it is time to walk away – Multiple offer situations can be stressful and sometimes listing agents strategically set the price of the home below market value to start a multiple offer situation. Make sure you stand firm.

Buying your home is about a great investment and you have to be smart about it. In the end, it’s about being comfortable on what you are paying a month and happy with the decisions you make. After all it’s about finding a home that will be a great place to start building equity and creating memories.


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Fraud Alert #2: How Title Fraud Works – and How to Protect Against It

In the second of a two-part series on fraud, we explain real estate title fraud and how to protect your home. As seen in REW.ca

Last time, we discussed mortgage fraud and “straw buyer” schemes and the red flags that come up when they happen. This time we are taking a look at an even more insidious type of fraud, where the red flags are hard or even impossible to spot until it’s too late.

identity theft 2Title Fraud

When you purchase a home, you purchase the title to the property. Your solicitor registers you as the owner of the property in the provincial land title office.

Unlike with mortgage fraud, during title fraud, you haven’t been approached or offered anything – this is a form of identity theft.

This occurs when your personal information is collected and used by someone identifying themselves as you. There are several ways criminals can steal your identity without your knowledge, which includes:

  • dumpster diving;
  • mail box theft;
  • phishing; and
  • computer hacking.

Sadly, the only red flag for title fraud occurs when your mortgage mysteriously goes into default and the lender begins foreclosure proceedings. Even worse, as the homeowner, you are the one hurt by title fraud, rather than the lender, as is often the case with mortgage fraud.

Here’s what happens with title fraud. A criminal – using false identification to pose as you – registers forged documents transferring your property to his/her name, then registers a forced discharge of your existing mortgage and gets a new mortgage against your property. Then the fraudster makes off with the new home loan money without making mortgage payments. The bank thinks you are the one defaulting – and your economic downfall begins.

The following are widentity-theftays you can protect yourself from identity theft:

  • Ensure you keep personal information confidential when on the internet or phone until you know who are dealing with, how it will be used and if it will be shared with anyone.
  • Only carry minimal information and identification in your wallet, don’t have your social insurance card with you.
  • Check your credit report regularly. You can get them free when you request them from the Equifax and Transunion when they mail them to your home. If you notice anything suspicious, contact the credit bureau right away.
  • Check your financial, bank and credit card statements regularly for any inconsistencies and unknown charges.
  • Consider obtaining a title insurance policy, as title insurance protects against many title risks associated with real estate transactions.
  • Check your mailbox for mail on regularly, if not every day.
  • Shred and destroy any financial and personal identification documents, as well as any unsolicited credit card applications rather than just simply throwing them away.
  • If you don’t receive your bills or other mail, follow up with your creditors.
  • If you receive credit cards that you didn’t apply for or if you did apply for them and didn’t receive them.
  • Contact your mortgage lender first if you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments.

ACE_Identity-Theft-Prevention2014_webThe following are ways to protect yourself from title fraud when purchasing or refinancing a home:

  • Make sure you work with a licensed real estate agent who is familiar with the area you are interested in buying. Select to work with someone that can provide trusted referrals and check on them.
  • Check listings in the community where the property is located – compare features, size and location to establish if the asking price seems reasonable.
  • Always view the property you are purchasing in person – don’t buy without seeing it first.
  • Beware of a real estate agent or mortgage broker who has a financial interest in the transaction.
  • Ask for a copy of the land title or go to a registry office and request a historical title search.
  • In the offer to purchase, include the option to have the property inspected and appraised.
  • When giving a deposit when purchasing a property ensure the funds will be held “in trust” with a solicitor or a real estate agency and not directly with the seller.
  • Insist on a home inspection to guard against buying a home that has been cosmetically renovated or formerly used as a grow house or meth lab.
  • Ask to see receipts and permits for recent renovations.
  • Consider the purchase of title insurance.
  • Review and make sure you are comfortable with the terms and conditions with the mortgage commitment letter or approval.
  • Review the “cost of borrowing disclosure statement” and be aware of any additional fees or charges. Ask questions if you are not sure.
  • Know and understand what you are signing. If you have questions, ask. If you are not comfortable or something is not right, do not sign the documents.
  • You might want to consider using your own solicitor for legal advice if you are asked to use the same lawyer as the seller.


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Fraud Alert #1: What Happens with Mortgage Fraud – and Why You’re Not Safe

In the first of a two-part series on fraud, outline the red flags for mortgage fraud. As seen in REW.ca

Nowadays, with the amount of information that is shared on the internet and social media, identity theft and Ponzi schemes are happening regularly. Homeowners are taking the necessary steps to protect one of their largest investments, which is their home.

The last thing you want to worry about is yet another way to lose your hard-earned money. But as a homeowner, you need to be aware of crimes on the rise, known as mortgage fraud and real estate title fraud.

In this first part, we will look at mortgage fraud and “straw buyer” schemes.

trap,  catch

Mortgage Fraud

Some borrowers may think that providing false documents and making false statements is not a big deal. However, the Criminal Code clearly states that obtaining funds, including mortgages, by providing false information is a crime.

The most common type of mortgage fraud involves a criminal obtaining a property, then increasing its value through a series of sales and resales involving the fraudster and someone working in cooperation with them. A mortgage is then secured for the property based on the inflated price.

Here are some red flags for mortgage fraud:

  • Someone offers you money to use your name and credit information to obtain a mortgage.
  • You are encouraged to include false information on a mortgage application.
  • You are asked to leave signature lines or other important areas of your mortgage application blank.
  • The seller or investment advisor discourages you from seeing or inspecting the investment property you are purchasing.
  • The seller or developer rebates you money on closing, and you don’t disclose this to your lending institution.

“Straw Buyer” Schemes

Another kind of mortgage fraud is the “straw” or “dummy” homebuyer scheme. For instance, a renter does not have a good credit rating or is self-employed and cannot get a mortgage, or doesn’t have a sufficient down payment, so they cannot purchase a home. They, or an associate, approach someone else with solid credit. This person is offered a sum of money (can be as much as $10,000) to go through the motions of buying a property on the other person’s behalf – acting as a straw buyer. The person with good credit lends their name and credit rating to the person who cannot be approved for a mortgage for a home purchase.

Other types of criminal activity often dovetail with mortgage fraud. For example, people who run “grow ops” or meth labs may use these forms of fraud to “purchase” their properties.

It’s important to remember that if something doesn’t seem right, it usually isn’t – always follow your instincts when it comes to red flags during the home buying and mortgage processes.


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Frequently asked questions when buying a home

As seen in the Metro Vancouver New Home Guide.

What do lenders look at when qualifying me for a mortgage?

Most lenders look at the following factors when determining whether you qualify for a mortgage:

  • Income
  • Debts
  • Employment History
  • Credit history
  • Value and marketability of the property you wish to purchase.

How much can I qualify for when buying a home?

Conceptual image - percent growth

Conceptual image – percent growth

In order to determine the amount for which you will qualify, there are two calculations that are used. The first is your Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio. GDS looks at your proposed new housing costs (mortgage payments, taxes, heating costs and strata/condo fees, if applicable). Generally speaking, this amount should not be more than 35% – 39% of your gross monthly income. For example, if your gross monthly income is $4,400, you should not be spending more than $1,716 in monthly housing expenses. Second, your Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio is calculated. The TDS ratio measures your total debt obligations (including housing costs, loans, car payments and credit card bills). Generally speaking, your TDS ratio should be no more than 42% – 44% of your gross monthly income. The GDS and TDS will depend on your credit. Keep in mind that these numbers are prescribed maximums and that you should strive for lower ratios for a more affordable lifestyle. Before falling in love with a potential new home, you may want to get pre-qualified by a Mortgage Expert. This will help you stay within your price range and spend your time looking at homes you can reasonably afford.

How much money do I need for a down payment?

The minimum down payment required is 5% of the purchase price of the home when you are an employee. When you are self-employed it will depend if you are qualifying based on what you are declaring on your income tax then it will be 5% and at least 10% down payment when you are self-employed and qualifying with an “estimated” gross income instead of the incoming showing on your income tax return. In order to avoid paying mortgage default insurance, you need to have at least a 20% down payment

If I86809937 don’t have the full down payment amount, what can I do?

There are programs available that enable you to use other forms of down payment, such as from your RRSPs, or a gift from a parent, child or siblings. Also, you can borrow the down payment from a line of credit, loan or credit cards. However, in order to qualify you still have to be within the TDS ratios as mentioned above.

What else do I have to pay to purchase a home?

You will have to pay for the closing costs. The lenders require you to have in your bank account at least 1.5% of the purchase price (in addition to the down payment) strictly to cover closing costs. You must have this amount but it doesn’t mean you are going to spend it. The following are some of the closing costs:

  • Legal costs
  • Property tax adjustments
  • Strata/ condo fee adjustments (if applicable)
  • Cost to register property in land title office, etc.

What would be my mortgage payments?

Monthly mortgage payments vary based on several factors, including: the size of your mortgage; whether you are paying mortgage default insurance; your mortgage amortization; your interest rate; and your frequency of making mortgage payments.

What is better a fixed or variable rate mortgage?Discount

The answer to this question depends on your personal risk tolerance. For instance, you are a first-time homebuyer and/or you have a set budget that you can comfortably spend on your mortgage, it’s smart to lock into a fixed mortgage with predictable payments over a specific period of time. If your financial situation can handle the fluctuations of a variable rate mortgage, this may save you some money over the long run.

What is the best interest rate that I can get?

Your credit score plays a big part in the interest rate for which you will qualify,as the riskier you appear as a borrower, the higher your rate will be. Rate is definitely not the most important aspect of a mortgage, however, as many rock-bottom rates often come from no frills mortgage products. In other words, even if you qualify for the lowest rate, you often have to give up other things such as pre-payments and portability privileges when opting for the lowest-rate product. Remember not to focus on the lowest interest rate but on finding the best mortgage with the most favorable terms and rate. While you might end up having a lower rate, it can end up costing you thousands of dollars of unnecessary costs in the long run.

What credit score do I need to qualify?

Generally speaking, you are a prime candidate for a mortgage if your credit score is 680 and above. The higher you score the better, as you will have more options and advantages. These days almost anyone can obtain a mortgage, but the key for those with lower credit scores their options will be more limited and interest rates could be higher. But don’t worry consult a Mortgage Expert to see how they can help you in obtaining a mortgage.

What happens if my credit score isn’t great?

There are several things you can do to boost your credit fairly quickly. Following are five steps you can use to help attain a speedy credit score boost:

  1. Pay down credit cards. The number one way to increase your credit score is to pay down your credit cards so they are below 50% of your limits.
  2. Limit the use of credit cards. Racking up a large amount and then paying it off in monthly installments can hurt your credit score. If there is a balance at the end of the month, this affects your score.
  3. Check credit limits. If your creditor is slower at reporting monthly transactions, this can have a significant impact on how other lenders view your application.
  4. Keep old cards. Older credit is better credit. If you stop using older credit cards, the issuers may stop updating your accounts. Use these 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. If, for instance, a cell phone bill is incorrect and the company will not amend it, you can dispute this by making the credit bureau aware of the situation.

To get more details about these and other questions you might have, give us a call and we will be able to analyze your personal situation and provide you with more information so you can make an informed decision on buying your home.


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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.