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Archive for the ‘Market Commentary’ Category

Should We Worry About a US-Style Housing Meltdown?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

This is an article by Benjamin Tal, one of CIBC’s top economists who answers this question. I found it to be a great write up that expresses the differences between the US and Canadian housing economies.

“House prices in Canada will probably fall in the coming year or two, but any comparison  of the American market of 2006 reflects a deep misunderstanding of the credit landscapes of the pre-crash environment in the US and today’s Canadian market.

The Canadian housing market has more distinguishing attributes that separate it from the pre-crash US market. Yes, the debt-to-income ratio in Canada just broke the American record set in 2006, but comparing the three years heading into the US crash to the past three years in Canada reveals that the debt-to-income ratio in Canada has been rising at half the speed seen in the pre-crash US market. Even more important than the amount of debt is its quality. The distribution of the credit score in Canada has not changed dramatically in the past four years. That is very different than the experience seen in the US in the four years heading into the recession.

In the US an astonishing one-third of mortgages taken out in 2005 and 2006 were in negative equity position, and more than half had less than 5% equity. In Canada, the negative equity position is nil, and only 15-20% of new originations have an equity position of less than 15%.

In a final analysis, not all is well in the Canadian housing market. Home prices are overshooting their fundamentals, mainly in large cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. The recent slowing in sales activity will probably be followed by price adjustments in many cities across the country. But the Canada of today is very different than a pre-recession US. Therefore, when it comes to jitters regarding a US-type meltdown here at home, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Bank of Montreal BMO 2.99% Rate Special – Explained by Vancouver Mortgage Broker Rowan Smith

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Transcript of Video Blog:

Hi everybody. It’s Rowan Smith with the Mortgage Centre. I want to address Bank Montreal’s 2.99 percent offer that’s on the market and to explain some of the restrictions that people need to be aware of, some of the fine print. First off, yes, it’s one of the lowest rates historically ever offered, but it comes with some restrictions such as you can only have a 25 year amortization. Now, many people don’t think that this is a problem because they think I only want a 25 year amortization anyway and across a lot of Canada that is still absolutely the practice. Read the rest of this entry »

35 and 40 Year Mortgages – Recent Updates

Friday, September 30th, 2011

In this video, I look at who is still offering 35 or 40 year amortizations and explain some recent changes in the market place.

Video Transcript:

Hi, everybody. It’s Rowan Smith from the Mortgage Center. It’s been a while since my last post and I wanted to provide an update on a couple of things that I get constant questions about in our market place.

Back in April when the changes the government handed down took effect it got rid of what most people thought would be all of the 35 and 40 year amortizations. So the question is, is a 35 or 40 year amortization still available? Short answer, yes. Now, the longer answer is a little more complicated… Read the rest of this entry »

Mortgage Changes – March 18 Deadline – Amortization Changes

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Transcript of Video:
Coming soon!

Beware Armchair Critics!

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Transcript of Video Blog:

Hi, everybody. It’s Rowan Smith with the Mortgage Centre. I want to talk today about being aware of armchair critics.

A lot of times a client will come to me with a very unique situation like a very hard to do file, and I have to pick and choose very carefully as to which lender will approve it. I go out and get the approval. Maybe the completion date isn’t for a month or two down the line.

In between the time I get the completion and the time I get the approval, I keep getting questions from the client that are odd because I feel like they’re being guided by somebody else, let’s say, “Well, my friend said that they got such and such a product”, or, “My mom said I should only be going with an open mortgage”, or, “My dad said that fixed rates are much lower now, and I should be getting a lower rate.”

All of that may be true for them in their exact situation. You don’t have their situation. That’s why, mortgage brokers are in business is because we know how to look at each individual borrower and set them with a lender and a product that’s the best for their situation. That’s a key point — the best for their situation.

If someone is self-employed and doesn’t declare any income and doesn’t have a great credit score but they have a sizable down payment, not every bank will do that. Not every bank will want that deal.

So if someone got a fantastic deal through Royal Bank, six months ago, has very little bearing on what we can get for them today and what we can get for this different borrower today.

I’m making mention of this because I had a recent situation where a client used to be a Realtor many years ago back in the ’80s and was complaining to me about why they couldn’t use a vendor take-back mortgage.

I’m going to cover that in a separate blog post which is going to follow in a couple of days, but the bottom line is what used to work in the ’80s doesn’t really work now. Especially, this fellow was from the U.S., so stuff that applies in the U.S. markets doesn’t apply here.

The bottom line to this whole post is be careful who you’re getting that information from. Your mortgage broker, myself, is an accredited mortgage professional. I have the AMP designation, which is the highest designation that you can get in Canada when it comes to mortgage origination.

I’ll help you look at your individual situation and get you the best possible deal based on that. I get paid essentially the same no matter where that mortgage goes. There might be small variances, but it’s not enough that it’s going to sway me one way or another.

Besides, I have a fiduciary duty to look out for you and your financial best interests. If I don’t give you the best possible deal and you can just walk in and get a better deal somewhere else, nobody would use me. So of course I’m going to be looking to get you the best deal I possibly can for your situation.

For the Mortgage Centre, I’m Rowan Smith.

Top 5 Things NOT To Do After Writing An Offer

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Transcript of Video Blog:

Hi everybody, it’s Rowan Smith with The Mortgage Centre. I’m going to do a little top five list. These are top five things not to do once you’ve written an offer.

OK, so number one. Do not write an offer and leave on vacation. Now there’s a couple of catches to this, OK?

You can do it. But during the subject removal period I’m going to need you here. Your Realtor is going to need you here to sign things, review documents.

So don’t write an offer and expect to be able to leave town during the subject removal period. Especially do not be gone during the closing period.

Because you have to be here to sign in front of a lawyer, especially if you’re buying property in British Columbia. So you’ve got to be here.

Now if you’ve got two months from the time you write an offer to the time your completion is, feel free to be out of town for part of that time.

I mean everyone’s got work and business obligations. And they may want to take a vacation. That’s fine. But just keep those vacations coordinated with the home buying process. It’s a big item. So vacations are a very important thing.

Number four. Do not transfer your dollars around for your down payments. People will often be in an effort to be helpful to me, they will transfer dollars from their ING account into their CIBC checking. From that TD savings into their CIBC checking. From their RSP into their checking.

The problem is, then I get a copy of that checking account statement, and it looks like you got a whole bunch of money just flew into the account.

So what I end up having to do is document every large deposit on there. That means I have to get the ING, the TD account, the RSP account, and the CIBC checking account. I’ve got to get it all to track where every dollar is. It’s a lot easier to just leave the funds where they are.

And once we’ve got the down payment accepted by the lender, then you can move them around.

Number three is, do not buy lots of new things, especially on credit. And I’m referring to people that will gloat and they’ll get excited about buying their home. And so they’ll go to The Brick and they’ll buy a whole bunch of furniture on a “do not pay plan.”

And then they’ll go to Best Buy and they’ll buy appliances and all this type of thing. Do not do that.

Wait until you’re in the home. If you incur additional debt before the closing date and the bank finds out about it, they can pull that approval. Because you may not qualify even though you can afford, you may not qualify for that new debt in addition to the debts you already had.

Now this is even if those debts are going to be paid out prior to the completion with the sale of an old home. Just check with me first. Be very careful about buying new items.

Number two. And this is the most common one that I see of buying new items, is do not buy a new vehicle. Those vehicles, especially vehicle leases, have massive payments, or can have massive payments. And it can throw the debt servicing and your ability to qualify for the mortgage. Again, completely out of line.

So before you go do that, get your mortgage completely finalized. Have the approval ready. Have it instructed to the lawyer’s office, and then you can start shopping for a new vehicle. I still don’t recommend buying it until after you’ve purchased the new place, just to avoid any challenges.

And lastly, the number one that I consistently get that blows me away is, do not quit your job. From the time you write that offer until the time you move in you have to be prepared to stay in your line of work.

Now things happen. Sometime companies sell off divisions. You get transferred. Other times you may just get fired. That’s life.

But the reality is that you also will have a lot of choice in these cases many times. And there’s no need to quit your job right during that period of time.

So from the time you write that offer to the time you complete, stay on your job. Stay the course. What you do after you’re in the property is up to you. And life takes many changes and it’s unpredictable.

So there is no way that anybody can fault you if you lose your job two months down the road. Or you quit and transfer into a new role to get a pay increase or whatnot.

So there it is. The top five things not to do when you’re buying a home.

For The Mortgage Centre, I’m Rowan Smith.

Fixed and Variable – A Definition

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

In this video, I look at what fixed and variable mortgages are as a refresher for past viewers or of my first time buyers.

Transcription of Video Blog:

Hi, everybody. It’s Rowan Smith from the Mortgage Centre.

I want to talk today about fixed or variable. Specifically, I want to define what they are so that when someone is telling you they got a fixed rate at a certain percentage or variable rate at another that you understand what exactly they’re saying so that you can compare apples to apples.

A fixed-rate mortgage is just that. The rate is fixed for the life and the length of your term. If you got a three-year term, and it’s at 3.25, you pay 3.25 throughout the entire term. If it’s a five-year term, and it’s 4.25, you pay 4.25 for the entire term. It does not matter if interest rates go up or go down; your rate is fixed, and your payment is fixed.

A variable-rate mortgage, conversely, is one where the payment fluctuates according to some other interest rate, usually prime rate. Prime rate is dictated by the Bank of Canada and the banks that match or try to follow very closely their prime rate.

Now if you have a prime-rate mortgage, the best available in the market that I have today, it’s prime minus 0.55. Prime rate is 2.25; that means a net rate of 1.7. So 1.7% on a variable versus, say, 4.25 on a five-year fixed. So variable has a substantial savings. However, your payment can and will rise if prime rate goes up.

There are different types of variable. There’s variable capped, where there’s a limit to how high it can go. Before that, you won’t be get getting 1.7. You’ll probably be getting closer to 3% in today’s markets.

You’re going to give up something in terms if you want more security. Whether it be a fixed rate or a fixed payment, you’re going to pay a higher rate.

I’ve seen several ads, and I saw one institution run an ad where what they had was on their whiteboard out front of their institution. It said, “Five years, 1.75.” Of course, clients are calling me saying, “My bank’s advertising 1.75.”

What they don’t put on that sign is it’s a variable. Now you can guarantee that it’s going to be below the fixed rate that I’m quoting if you’re getting a variable rate, because variable rates are generally lower. But they do have that upside risk that your payment could rise.

So there it is: fixed and variable. For the Mortgage Centre, I’m Rowan Smith.

Suggestions on Blog Posts Anyone?

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Anyone have any suggestions for blog posts you’d like to see me do? Just ask in the comments section, or email me at smith.rowan@mortgagecentre.com and I’ll get something put up for you.

Transcription of Video Blog:

Hi everybody, it’s Rowan Smith from the Mortgage Centre. I wanted to do a blog today to ask for your input on what type of articles and issues you’d like me to address.

So if you have any ideas or suggestions, or any topics you’d like me to cover, anything ranging from how the banks treat income to the differences between commercial properties and residential properties, former marijuana grow ops, anything to do with construction financing, or anything alone those lines, please drop me an email or respond to this video in my Youtube channels and let me know and I’ll get something put up right away for you.

CMHC Rule Changes in Effect TODAY

Monday, April 19th, 2010

April 19th, 2010 is the date, and the new mortgage rule changes go into effect today.

Our office did a presentation to 50 realtors and clients last week, and below are the three videos that came from it where the changes are discussed at much, much greater length than previously.

Enjoy!

Transcription of Video Blogs (All 3)

PART 1

Wayne: I want to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to this presentation. As you are all aware, there have been multiple changes that have taken place in the mortgage financing business over the last couple of weeks and most of it is taking place this Monday. Thus, the reason for this seminar. From my point of view, these are probably the most changes in a very short period of time since I’ve been brokering, which is over 15 years now. We hope that this presentation will give you a better understanding of the changes so that you can modify your business plans accordingly, if necessary.
We are doing this presentation in three segments, but we encourage you, if you have any questions during the presentation to just raise your hand. I’ll bring the microphone over and you can ask your questions, rather than waiting until the end of the presentation.

At this time, I would like, if you haven’t, maybe to turn your cell phones to silent mode so that we don’t get interrupted. We’re ready to get started, and first up will be Maury. So Maury, take it away.

Maury: OK. Can everybody hear me without this? That sounds all right. Yeah. OK, so what the hell’s going on? Well, hopefully today we’ll try and address these questions. Today, what we’re going to cover is a quick into and just making sure we understand the difference between high ratio and conventional because that is going to kind of set up explaining the changes and making sure when you know the changes apply and don’t.

There is a set of government mandated changes that we’re going to be going over. That will be followed by the insurers that have some changes that they will be setting up for some of their programs, specifically, self employed and rental programs. That’s pretty much going to wrap it up.

We’re going to have questions at the end, but also, as we’re going through to try and make sure that we’re covering each topic and it’s clear. If you have a question, please ask it when you have it.
So starting out here. The high ratio conventional, by definition, when a deal is defined as high ratio, whenever there is less than 20 percent down payment going into the deal.
This is the same definition at all banks.

When there is less than 20 percent, the deal has to be insured. It can be insured by any one of the three insurance companies we have in Canada. CMHC is by far the largest one used, but Genworth is second, and there is also AIG.

The bank typically decides. The bank usually develops a relationship with one or two of the insurance companies. They typically choose where the deal will best fit at the insurance company. They are all pretty much the same. The fees are the same. It’s pretty much lying to the client, for all intents and purposes, but there are three in Canada.

Then, conventional is when there is more than 20 percent in the deal. So just to do a broad category of high ratio and conventional.

We wanted to set that up because, the government mandated changes, these apply to all deals, at all banks, at all insurance companies when there is less than 20 percent down.

The first change is there is a new maximum amount someone can refinance their property to. So we’ll go over that more in a second here.

The second change is to help the banks. Insurance companies are going to determine the amount someone can qualify for, the amount of the mortgage, so this is changing.

The third change is there is a new minimum down payment requirement for a non owner occupied rental property.

There is one common misconception that is commonly asked about the changes is the new minimum down payment. If somebody is going to live on the property, there is no change to this. So if someone is going to buy a house and they’re going to live in it, there is no change. They can still buy with as little as five percent down.

The first change, the maximum refinance amount, it is, the limit now is 90 percent. So if someone has had a house, they’ve had it for a while. Maybe they’ve done rentals, they want to take equity out. They can now only go to 90 percent of the property’s value at the time that they want to do it. Before, it was 95 percent they could go up to.

This was more put in place to address some problems we’ve seen in the States, more than in Canada, where the market took property values up. People just refinancing every year and they weren’t really doing anything with the property, but kind of treating that house like a bank account. So it is to discourage this.

But in Canada, this product was not really used, they were never really taking, they might have been refinancing, but they were never taking it out to the max, for the most part, 95 percent. A change, but probably something that won’t affect most people.

This is a more significant change. This is the rate that is going to be used to determine how much people can qualify for a mortgage. There’s a couple of situations, so this is the first one.
If someone is going to be taking, or would like to take, a fixed rate mortgage of less than five years, a term of less than five years, or if they wanted any variable rate mortgage, this is what they have to do.

They have to qualify for the amount that they want using the Government of Canada benchmark posted rate.
Right now, it’s 5.85.? So I put “versus 3.85″ there because before today, someone could qualify for a variable rate mortgage using a much lower rate than they’re going to be forced to now.

If they want to qualify for a $500,000 loan and they want a variable rate mortgage, they’re going to have to try to qualify for the mortgage using that higher rate.

We’ll go into an example in a second, and you can see some numbers. So that’s the second case.

If someone says “Well, just forget it, I’m just happy with a five year fixed term, ” or “I’m going to take any term longer than five years with a fixed rate.” Guess what? You can use the rate, that’s the contract rate, the discounted rate, the rate that they’re actually going to get for their mortgage.

So clearly, you can see here, the point of using this higher rate, even though someone might be using a product that gives a lower rate, the government really wants to make sure that someone is going to be able to afford their payment over a significant amount of time.

Everybody knows we had record low rates, variable rates, like bottom basement, right? They’re only going to go up and there kind of wants to be some assurances in place that people are going to be able to afford their mortgage if it goes up two percent on a variable or if they have to renew in a year and rates have gone up. That they have comfort that they know that they are going to be able to make their payments at time of renewal.

I’ll give you an example. In this example, what we’re going to use is that we’re going to use someone that has a gross annual income of $60,000 per year. I used average property taxes amount, and I’m assuming they have no other debts, car loans, student loans, stuff like that.

The old max, meaning that 3.85 rate, so if someone was taking a very low rate mortgage or something, yesterday this person, or these two people or whatever it is could have qualified for a mortgage amount, not just a purchase price, but a mortgage amount of $439,000.

So if this person today says, “I still want a variable rate mortgage but I have to qualify for this thing under the new guidelines of 5.85.” They’re only going to be able to qualify for a mortgage for $342,000.
They can still have a variable rate mortgage, but the amount that they can get if they want a variable or a term less than five years is much lower. But then, there is some saving grace there. That if you say, “Forget it, I’ll take a five year fixed because then I qualify for it at the rate I am going to get.” They can qualify for a mortgage of $396,000.

So clearly, especially in Vancouver, there’s going to be a pressure, a funnel, I would say, to more people maybe taking a five year fixed. In order to qualify for the amount they need. It may not be a huge deal for a lot of people, there is a clear preference in Canada for five year fixed, but we all know that everybody doesn’t take a five year fixed.
This has just been how the numbers line up with the qualifications, so any questions on this one? [pause] No?

OK, so the last…

PART 2:

Maury: So the last change is the minimum down payment for rental properties. The new minimum down payment is 20 percent, and it was previously five percent.

So someone, if they qualified, had enough income, had enough rental income coming from the property, they could buy it. There were programs available for as little as five percent down. They did have a hefty, hefty insurance premium because the deal, of course, was insured, but it could be done.

So if that property was $500,000 before, obviously $25,000 minimum, and there will be the insurance but now, obviously, 20 percent of 500 is 100, so if they’re going to rent it out, they are going to need a much larger down payment.

This does not apply to second homes. There is a category of non owner occupied properties which are deemed as second homes. So a true second home, meaning you cannot count any rental income coming from it, in order to qualify for the mortgage.

This is not affected by this, you can still buy those. You don’t need to put 20 percent down. But if you need the rental income generated to qualify then you will need 20 percent down.

That is it. So the next section here, I will just turn over to Rowan.

Rowan: All right, so Maury covered what a conventional mortgage is and all of these changes that apply, as we have been talking about high ratio so the government mandated changes apply to things, there are three different changes; the investments, refinance, and the amount of down payment that is required.

However, just because that only applies to 80 percent financing or more, that less than 20 percent down, there’s actually more banks that are going to follow that all the way down the road. It doesn’t matter if you have 35 or 40 or 50 percent down, a lot of banks are still going to follow these new guidelines.

The reason is kind of complicated and involves how the banks raise their money in the markets and whatnot. But if they’re going to be doing that, you can see that these changes and there’s a lot of lenders that are going to be following that. I would say half or more.

It’s going to have a lot of impact for any loans of value, even though the mandated change only applies to 20 percent down or less.

So rental income changes, in Vancouver, this is huge. As we’ve heard, the percentage of properties, especially the condo market, is rentals. It’s definitely the most dramatic change, and ironically, this one isn’t even mandated. This is simply something that come down through CMHC and then all the other insurers have jumped on board with similar policies, not identical.

We have three different insurers we talked about. We’re not going to get into the specifics of who does exactly what type of product. But I can say that the rental industry is treated far less valuably than it was in the past.

Now this includes rental income from multiple different sources. You’ve seen on purchases, you see mortgage helper, you see in-law suites, you see nanny suites, it doesn’t matter what you call it.

If it’s a secondary suite within the property, if there is a second kitchen and as a rate they are bringing in revenue for this property, than that income is going to be treated far less favorably than it was.

It used to be that you could take a certain percentage of that income, say 80 percent is the number. OK, and we would go “You have got $1,000 in rent, you’ve got $800 we’re allowed to use. How much mortgage does that support?” The answer was like $180,000 or something. So right away the person qualified for $180,000 more just by virtue of having that suite in the property.

Well in Vancouver, we’ve got the whole authorized/unauthorized suite issue, right? And if something is authorized, can we use it? If it is unauthorized, can we use it? And the answers vary from insurer to insurer, so that’s something where the brokers have to know every one of the guidelines and rules for the different institutions.

Let me give you an example of how the new rules are going to take effect. We’re going to take the same example, say $60,000 average cost, clean credit, et cetera. So this is assuming a $1,000 basement suite. 680 to 515, so the old approval amount. In Vancouver, if you can picture East Vancouver, almost every home has a basement suite.

Picture Surrey, all these different areas. All these basement suites that we were previously able to bring into the mix. We can, but at a much lesser and more constricted treatment. That’s a 24 percent decline or reduction in how much somebody can qualify for based on that income. 24 percent is going to translate into an effect on how many buyers can afford properties in a particular price.

Now rental income, I was just talking about suites there, but it comes from multiple sources including three different ways, the basement suite, then you’ve got your rental property.

You’re living in your home, maybe you have a rental condo and it’s rented out. This third one is really where the rules are murky. That is going to be interesting to see how that plays out. When someone owns a home, especially a first time home buyer, they own their property, they want to upgrade to a new property, but they don’t want to sell the first one.

Maybe they’ve been there five years, they’ve built up significant equity, maybe the property can rent for a specific amount. So they want to get out of that property and move into a home. In that circumstance, that is where the treatment of that income for the old property is not really clear, the reason being is that they don’t have it at this point in time.

So if somebody has a rental property and they’ve had it for an extended period of time, the new rules actually favor those, that treatment of that income over all else, as long as the people are declaring it to pay tax on it. Going forward it will be far, far harder to qualify.

So you should declare it anyway because then you can offset your interest with a possible mortgage, so it makes sense to declare it but a lot of people still aren’t doing it. Is there any questions on the rental income or how this affects suites being authorized or unauthorized? That’s the rental income section.

I’m going to pass it over to Leah who is going to cover self employed.

Leah: All right, so pretty much all of us in this room are self employed so you can probably relate to this section as to how this is going to affect you specifically. Definitely clients who I encounter in Vancouver, a lot of self employed people.

Up until now, there has been a program called the Stated Income Program. Now, it’s exactly that, you are stating your income. And the reason that they have this is because in businesses, if you are a mechanic, you’re getting a lot of cash jobs.

Like us, we write off our cars, our cell phones, even part of our homes, and our rents, and our mortgage amounts. So because of this, banks and lenders, the insurers, even they understand that there is bit of a grey area. What exactly are you making at the end of the day because you have all these write offs?

So what they’ve done is they invented a program called the Stated Income Program. They’ve had this for quite some time and with this, traditional income verification is not necessary. You don’t have to show your D4s, what you’re simply doing is “I make $60,000 a year,” or whatever sounds reasonable.

Now with this, it isn’t that good to be true because you are going to have higher premiums with this which of course is more costs. You can’t just say that you sell coins or you collect bottle caps and you make over $100,000 a year. It does have to be reasonable.

How do they deem reasonable? Well, there are various amounts of things that leads me into where the changes are. Before they were a lot more lenient on what was deemed reasonable. Now they’re really focusing on different websites and economic studies and they’re going to ask you first, “What do you think you make?”

And then they’re going to look at what their stats tell them. If that seems to fall within their realm, they will deem it reasonable and they will accept it. Now the other change, and again, this is only for the Stated Income Program, the down payment has changed.

It used to be you only have to put down five percent, but it is now going to be a minimum of 10 percent down payment. That’s not to say that if you are self employed that you automatically have to pay 10 percent. It’s only if you decide to use the Stated Income Program.

With that being said, proving your income is always going to obviously stand up stronger with the lenders. So if you are able to, if you are properly declaring how much you make, and you’re paying taxes on that, you might if you are self employed, whatever it shows on line 150 on your tax returns, you actually get to add 15 percent of that back, to account for write offs. So if you’re able to, use proven income rather than stated income. You’ll save on your premiums and you’ll be able to put down a lower down payment down if you like.

As well, like Rowan mentioned, each insurer is a little bit different and so their internal policies are varying based on the amount of years you’ve been in the industry and the amount of years that you’ve actually been in your own business.

So that again is where…

PART 3:

Leah: …two years and maybe they’ve done it in their own business for 25 years. That is going to depend, or we’re going to have to then look at different insurers and we can send it to one insurer, but we can’t send it to another. So they do have differences of opinions on that.

So, this is actually a really short and sweet presentation. So, again, at this point, I will actually stop. Does anyone have questions on the self-employed program or anything that we’ve covered up until now? Yes.

Audience Member: Can we get a list of incomes which they will use for assessment?

Leah: Oh, of what they’re going to use? I don’t know. Are there websites that they can go to?

Maury: You mean when they’re looking at the reasonability test? They don’t really disclose that info to us. They have their own internal guidelines.

Leah: Yeah, because they’re really just going to state something in that, right?

Man 1: Isn’t it public knowledge?

Maury: Not really. No, they use a number of different sites that they look at. Let’s say somebody is a contractor, there’s a “range of most contractors in Canada” file. They can look at that information.

If someone says $250,000, they can look at that site and go, “Well, you know, by this they only made $60,000 or $70,000″ and that’s the number they’ll use. But I don’t believe that we have access to this.

Leah: Yeah.

Guest 1: For the States, it’s available free.

[crosstalk]

Leah: Yeah here it’s not so much.

Guest 1: If you guys want to know what a lot of business are making, we use labor market information. So you have an LMI or BC or for your province and you’ll find it probably, LMI.

Leah: LMI. It’s also important to know as well, one of the — which is on [inaudible 01:36] here — having a mortgage broker that you can go to and using as a resource. Because we deal with these, we can literally call up any one of our lenders right now and have a one-on-one conversation with them.

There is grey area. If you do have a contractor and maybe he really does make a crazy amount of income because he has so many people working for him or so many projects on the go, we’re able to have that relationship to somewhat tell the real truth of the situation.

If there is a good argument for it, there is always that possibility of things happening as well. So that’s really important to have a good relationship with your broker. Because you do speak to the lenders one-on-one every single day. So, leaving that into the to-do list-is there any other questions before we get on?

All right. So, first thing on your to-do list is definitely knowing your mortgage broker, especially for the Realtors in the room. You’re spending all of this time with your clients and to just say, “Go to your bank and take care of it on your own.” Not what I would encourage because with the banks, they have very tight regulations.

They also are out to make as much of an interest rate as possible. So, maybe your client won’t qualify for as much, or whatever the case may be. We’re actually able to handhold your client and insure that it’s getting done. Plus, we’re able to call you and we can tag team with you on the client to make sure that they’re getting us the paperwork that we need in the certain amount of time. Make sure that you get your approval deadlines on time.

Now, full disclosure of income and sources, this is more for clients. For those of you who are getting a mortgage yourself, you have to fully disclose not just what you make, but where the sources are coming from. There is, again, a lot of grey area in terms of income.

So, if you think you make $80,000 a year, because that’s what you made last year, it might not be. You may only make $60,000 because of a two-year average or based on your commissions and bonuses that aren’t going to qualify, or things of that nature. So, you need to not only disclose your income, but always your sources.

Prepare your documents early. If you go into the bank and ask for a pre-approval — which is actually the next point on here — if you’re approved, you’ll go into your bank and they’ll say, “Well, how much do you make? Do you have any payments?” So they’re taking things for face value and they’re basically saying, “Well, based on what you tell us, if all that is true, then you qualify for X amount.”

You go to a mortgage broker, then they’re not only going to ask you those question and take you for face value, but then they’re going to follow up on you and say, “OK, let’s start doing that paperwork together.”

And essentially what they’re doing is they’re going through the full approval process for you so that when you as a Realtor take your client or as a client you find that home of your dreams, and then you go to get approved and you realize, “Well, I thought I made this much.”

Or, “Oh, I thought I could get my paperwork together.” Or, “I thought I had this down payment. You mean I can’t use my credit card for my down payment?” Or whatever the case may be, you’re not going to have that disappointment of losing the property. So, get your documents before even looking at properties, get everything in order.

Then, again, confirming the pre-approval of the appropriate paperwork, a mortgage broker should go through all that for you. If you’re unsure what paperwork you are going to need, ask, and they will definitely let you know.

So, with that being said, are there any questions? Because we’re pretty much — we’re there. We’ve gone through all the requirements. Yes.

Woman 1: Are you still giving 120 days guarantee on the rate?

Leah: It depends on the lender. Some of them are 60, some are 90, some are 120; it’s all internal policy. So, yeah, depending on what the rate is, your broker can let you know at that time what the rate hold will be.

That’s something to note as well. If you want to get pre-approved, a lot of us brokers in the room here, we can do that on the phone for you, we can give you pre-approval of an amount. If you want to get an actual rate hold, you need to let us know because that actually takes a bit more of a process to go through.

We have to start actually choosing which lender you’re going to go with, and pre-approve you and give you that rate hold of 90 or 120 days. But, in general, for your pre-approval, we can tell you a number and to get going, but it’s different than a rate block.

Any other questions? You guys are all awesome! You know what you’re talking about now? All right. I guess we can — do you want to go ahead and close this up?

Wayne: Sure. The final thing I wanted to say, I guess, is for the Realtors out here or people who are sending their clients to the bank. I plug the mortgage brokerage industry with these new financing rules and things like that.

You really should have a broker as a first choice, but definitely a broker as a second choice. Just as a second opinion. The reason is, we didn’t want to make this too technical, but as we showed in an earlier slide, there were three insurance companies.

Realistically, not all the banks use all three. For example, very few lending institutions use AIG. They’re probably going to be disappearing off the map. So, when you need, say, a basement suite income or a self-employed program, there are variances from not only the institutional internal guidelines, but also with the insurance company.

I’ll give you a classic example — Scotiabank does use Genworth and Genworth does do illegal basement suites, which is great for Vancouver, but Scotiabank does not. So if you send your client to Scotiabank and that’s their home bank, and they want to purchase something — they’re going to qualify, basically, only on their income without any rental income.

If they want to buy something a little bit more expensive, you want a second opinion. And, as a broker, that’s where we come in and we can mix and match between the insurers and the lenders, we know what each one does.

We could, in a sense, get them a little bit more money to get into that dream home in Vancouver rather than, say, moving out to Burnaby — which is not a bad thing.

[laughter]

Wayne: So, I think that I would encourage you to use brokers to begin with because there’s 40, 50 different lenders and there’s all mix and match. But more importantly, if the client says, “Oh, I’ve been to see my bank, this is what they qualified me for,” but it doesn’t line up with what their expectations are, at least give one of the brokers in this room a call. Get a second opinion. We may be able to get them that little bit extra to get them into the home that they want. OK?

Other than that, we will be around if you have any further questions. Thank you all for coming and best of luck in the spring market.

Too Late To Get April 19 CMHC Mortgage Rules Changes?

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

I took more calls today than I could count asking, “Is it too late to get in under the old rules?”

The short answer is: “YES”

The reality is that lenders are swamped with applications from people that got them in within the last 7 days. They’ve been working around the clock to the mortgages submitted.

However, the first question I ask when I get this request is, “Do the changes even apply to you?”

The changes primarily affect investors, variable rates, and rental or self employment income. If this isn’t you, then rest easy. Otherwise, watch this video blog that explains it in greater detail.

Transcription of Video:

Hi everyone, it’s Rowan Smith with the Mortgage Centre.

Today is Friday, April 16th and a lot of people have called me today and said, “am I too late to get in on the old mortgage rules?”

And the first question I always ask them is, “What mortgage rules are you afraid you will be missing out on?”

In many cases people say to me, “well I want to refinance my house and take out some equity,” or they say, “I want to buy a place.”

I say to them, the three changes only affect three things. I guess technically, four things.

One, self employed people that can’t prove their income.

Two, investment properties.

Three, qualifying for variable rate mortgages.

Four, refinancing to 95 percent.

If none of that is you, then you don’t have to worry about the changes. However, for those of you that do fit into those categories, chances are, YES, if you are watching this video it is after or on April 16th, and it is too late.

Even though the laws change on April 19th, our ability to get you realistically approved and reviewed by the relevant parties (in time) is slim to none.

If you do have somebody in this situation, and you want to at least explore the option of perhaps getting it put before CMHC or one of the other mortgage insurers on Monday, please give me a call over the weekend. I’ll make myself available.

My name is Rowan Smith, for the Mortgage Centre.