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Debt Servicing – How to Calculate It (Instructional)

Transcript of Video Blog:

Hi everybody, it’s Rowan Smith with The Mortgage Center. We’re going to try something a little different this week, and we’re going to cover something that’s very commonly requested of me, which is details on debt servicing, what is it, and how to calculate it.

So there’s two main ratios that the lenders use when they’re calculating debt servicing. The first is GDS for gross debt service, and the second is TDS for total debt service. Gross debt service or GDS, which is the first ratio we look at includes your principal, interest, taxes and heat, and what we’re trying to do is a find a percentage of your gross income that this equals.

So principal and interest is effectively your payment, so whatever your payment is plus taxes and heat. A good rule of thumb is that GDS should not exceed 35%. I mean, yes, there’s exceptions to this, but that’s a good base-line if you’re trying to figure a rough equivalent of what you can afford.

Total debt service on the other hand includes not only principal interest, taxes and heat, but also any other debt payments or obligations. Now not everything is included in there, and we’ll get to that later, but all debt payments. A good rule of thumb is that TDS should not exceed 42%.

Exceptions up to 44% and beyond are available, depending on someone’s credit score and the particular program that we’re using and applying for. Of course the amount of down payment you have also plays into this, so it’s important to know exactly what rule you’re working at before you go in and apply for something.

So let’s go through GDS, we’ll actually look at how to calculate it. This is a scenario, the common scenario that you see. Someone has an e-mortgage payment that’ll work out to $2,500 a month, and that couple makes $120, 000 a year, combined, both of their jobs, so $10,000 a month. Property taxes are $3, 600 per year, that works out to $300 per month, and heat is $100 at most lenders.

There’s a few that’ll use $85, some of that will use less, that’s conned over. It’s not a big difference, $100 should be used for roundness. Strata fees on the townhouse they’re buying are $330 per month. Now currently, banks only use 50% of the strata fees to count towards GDS and TDS, you have to remember that when you’re working through it. If it is a strata property, meaning an apartment, townhouse, condo, something like that, and there are fees, then only 50% of those are used.

So here’s the calculation. You make $2,500 payment, plus $300 taxes, plus $100 heat and $165 strata fees equals $3,065. $3,065 divided by the $10,000 monthly income, as expressed as a percentage, is 30.65% gross debt service, or GDS, which is within my 35% guideline I gave you. So based on GDS, yes this would be approved.

TDS is a little bit different, similar but different. Same scenario, same payments and all that. The only difference is that last line there, since the client has a $300 per month car payment, and those $8,000 in credit card debt. So here’s the calculation, and I want to note here, for credit cards, most banks use 3% of the amount owing to determine what we’re payment will be. So in this case, $8,000, 3%, $240 will count towards TDS per month. You notice I like to convert everything to monthly numbers, because that tends to be how most people run their budgets, so it’s how I do that.

$2,500 mortgage payment, plus $300 taxes, $100 heat, $165 strata fees, plus the $300 car payment and $240 equals $3,605 per month counted towards their $10,000 income. $3,605 divided by $10, 000 equals 36.05% TDS, total debt service. Again, it’s within my range of 42% that I gave you. So the two ratios to keep in mind are GDS and TDS, 35, 42 respectively. There are exceptions, but for now those are important.

A couple of notes on TDS. People often say to me, “Well wait, if I’ve got monthly bills, what about my cable bill and my cell phone bill?” No. Cable bills, cell phone bills, telephone or Internet bill are not included. Other things not included in monthly RSP contributions, but the loans are; car insurance, house insurance, repairs and maintenance to property and income taxes.

Now you may say, “Well wait, a lot of those are really important expenses, things that I have to pay for” but that’s why we only use 42% or 44% of the TDS calculations. The other 56% to 58% are for those other expenses that everybody else pays. Some things that must be included in TDS and that often people wish were not: child support payments, alimony or spousal support payments, any other loan, credit card, line of credit or monthly debt obligation, car lease payments. If you’re making another year on account, then a year of payment may count towards TDS.

Now it’s a lot of numbers. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call. I’m happy to run through your situation for free. Everybody’s is different, and it takes some experience to know what numbers actually have to be included, what are not included. So again, for The Mortgage Center, I’m Rowan Smith.

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