30 Mar

How to Save with a Variable Mortgage.

General

Posted by: Amanda Walczyk

How to Save with a Variable Mortgage.

When it comes to mortgages, the age-old question remains: “Should I go with a variable or fixed-rate?”. To make an informed decision, it is important to look at the type of buyer and the historical trends.

When it comes to variable versus fixed-rate, it is important to understand what these mortgages are based off of. Fixed mortgages are so named as they are based on a fixed interest rate that is set for the duration of the term with fixed payments. On the other hand, variable-rate mortgages fluctuate with the Prime Rate. This can either mean fluctuations in your payment, or if you choose to have set payments, the interest portion of the payment.

In the last 10 years, the prime lending rate has gone from 2.50% to 3.95% and now sits at 2.45% as of January 2022. Due to recent events, these rates have seen even more of a downturn providing huge benefits to new borrowers looking to pay as little as possible.

While a variable-rate mortgage is linked to the Prime Rate, which could cause fluctuations, historically the choice of a variable rate mortgage over a fixed term has allowed borrowers to save in interest costs.

However, due to the uncertainty and potential fluctuations that can occur with a variable-rate mortgage, it comes down to the borrowers comfort. Some individuals have no wiggle room in their budget for potential changes in mortgage payments, or they do not like the uncertainty. For these clients, a fixed-rate would be the best choice.

On the other hand, clients who qualify for variable-rate mortgages have a unique opportunity to take advantage of lower interest rates. If you have a variable-rate mortgage, you can either set a fixed-payment so that, if the interest rate drops, it means you are paying more on your principal loan each month. Or, if you have flexible payments, you may see your monthly payments drop in accordance to decreases in the Prime Rate. However, since every 10% increase in payment can save three years off the amortization of a five-year term, having fixed payments provide extra benefits. After all, extra pennies towards the principle can help make a difference over the life of a 25 or 30 year mortgage.

Let’s look at the following example:

Amy and Jake have a balance owing of $300,000 on their mortgage with a variable rate at Prime minus .80%, (giving us 1.65%) with current payments set at $703 bi-weekly. The mortgage matures in 24 months but they are considering locking in for a new five-year term at 3.34%. New payments would be $739. As much as they love their home, they are considering a move in the next couple years.

When reviewing this mortgage, it is more beneficial for them to keep the remaining variable-rate in place for two years. However, if they set the payments based on 3.34% or $739 bi-weekly, this allows them to pay an extra $72 on their mortgage per month. In 24 months, the savings on interest is $4,000 and their outstanding balance is $4,000 less than by staying in the fixed rate.

Another benefit to variable-rate mortgages is that, if you choose to sell before the mortgage term is up, the penalty is typically only three months interest as opposed to much heavier interest rate differential (IRD) calculations used to determine fixed-rate mortgage penalties.

With this strategy they don’t have to feel pressure to lock-in today, plus they can continue taking advantage of the lower variable rate.

If your mortgage is maturing in the next 90-180 days and you’re not quite sure what to do, it is a good idea to contact a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional. Not only can they provide tips for your existing variable-rate mortgage to help save you money, but they can help you assess whether fixed-rate is right for you or if you should make the switch.

30 Mar

Power Up Your Finances!

General

Posted by: Amanda Walczyk

Power Up Your Finances.

Let’s face it, mere mention of the word “money” can make people shift in discomfort. In an era in which the veils are being lifted off many societal taboos, a shroud of shame hangs stubbornly over money talk – we’re taught to fear it, we’re taught it’s too complicated, and those are all messages meant to disempower.

It’s time to push past the taboo, and normalize talking about money. Disrupt it by talking about it – openly and frankly – with your partner, your friends, your family, and your colleagues. Speaking of partners, it’s important both parties are open with one another about their fears, feelings, and goals in regards to money. This is particularly important in opposite-gender households, where research shows that the male partner takes the financial lead in most homes.

stnce Senior Program Specialist, Sarah Zandbergen, has this to say about the hesitation to discuss finances with partners: “It can be difficult to bring up, no question, but if you’re sharing your life with someone, finances are bound to come up. A staggering statistic we came across in our research is that 90% of women will be the sole financial decision-maker in their family at some point in their lives. Knowing this, there is absolutely no excuse to defer ownership to someone else.”

Smash the stigma, and get radically transparent about your salary, your financial situation, your debts, your windfalls, and your savings goals.

And, hey, we get it – there’s a sense of comfort, albeit a false one, that comes with avoiding fiscal responsibility, because it temporarily absolves us of having to do anything, but remaining on the sidelines gives money a leg up on you. So if you want to be truly in control, increasing your knowledge about money, and how to save it, is a critical part of the confidence-building process

30 Mar

Understanding Your Mortgage Rate

General

Posted by: Amanda Walczyk


Staying Out of the Penalty Box.

When it comes to mortgages, it is easy to focus on the rates and your current situation, but the reality is that life happens and when it does, rates won’t be the only thing that matters.

First and foremost, the most important thing to remember is that a mortgage is a contract. That means that there is a penalty involved if the contract is ever broken. This is something that every homeowner agrees to when you sign mortgage paperwork, but it can be easy to forget – until you’re paying the price.

why break your mortgage?

You’re probably wondering why you would ever break your mortgage contract? Well, you might be surprised to find out that 6 out of 10 mortgages in Canada are broken within 3 years and there are typically nine common reasons that this happens:

  • Sale and purchase of a new home
  • To utilize equity
  • To pay off debt
  • Cohabitation, marriage and/or children
  • Divorce or separation
  • Major life events (illness, unemployment, death of a partner)
  • Removing someone from title
  • To get a lower interest rate
  • To pay off the mortgage

It is always important to think ahead when signing a mortgage agreement, but not everything can be planned for. In that event, it is important to understand the next steps if you do indeed need to break your mortgage.

calculating penalties

Typically, the penalty for breaking a mortgage is calculated in two different ways. Lenders generally use an Interest Rate Differential calculation or the sum of three months interest to determine the penalty. You will typically be assessed the greater of the two penalties, unless your contract states otherwise.

INTEREST RATE DIFFERENTIAL (IRD)

In Canada there is no one-size-fits-all rule for how the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) is calculated and it can vary greatly from lender to lender. This is due to the various comparison rates that are used.

However, typically the IRD is based on the following:

  • The amount remaining on the loan
  • The difference between the original mortgage interest rate you signed at and the current interest rate a lender can charge today

In this case, these penalties vary greatly as they are based on the borrower’s specific mortgage and the specific rates on the agreement, and in the market today. However, let’s assume you have a balance of $200,000 on your mortgage, an annual interest rate of 6%, 36 months remaining in your 5-year term and the current rate is 4%. This would mean an IRD penalty of $12,000 if you break the contract.

Ideally, you will want to be aware of what your IRD penalty would be before you decide to break your mortgage as it is not always the most viable option.

THREE MONTHS DIFFERENCE

In some cases, the penalty for breaking your mortgage is simply equivalent to three months of interest. Using the same example as above – balance of $200,000 on your mortgage, an annual interest rate of 6% – then three months interest would be a $3,000 penalty. A variable-rate mortgage is typically accompanied by only the three-month interest penalty.

paying the penalty

When it comes to making the payment, some lenders may allow you to add this penalty to your new mortgage balance (meaning you would pay interest on it). You can also pay your penalty up front.

Whenever possible, if you can wait out your current mortgage term before making a change to your mortgage, it is the best way to avoid being stuck in the penalty box. If you cannot avoid a penalty, do note that, while only calculators can be great tools for estimates, it is best to call your lender or mortgage broker directly for the accurate number in the case of determining penalties.

If you are unsure about getting the best penalty terms, reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker today! They can help you find the best mortgage product for you.

24 Mar

Refinancing Your Home.

General

Posted by: Amanda Walczyk

One of the best parts about life is that it is ever-changing. This is one of the reasons that mortgages are available on short-term contracts (such as the standard 5-year) so that you can adjust your mortgage over time to best suit your needs. However, in some cases you cannot wait until the term is up. In fact, roughly six out of ten homeowners with the standard five-year fixed rate mortgage break their terms within three years.

There are a variety of reasons to refinance your mortgage such as wanting to leverage large increases in property value or get equity out of the home for renovations. In some cases, you may be unable to wait until the term is up due to life events such as divorce, a new relationship, kids going off to college or needing to consolidate debt.

Before you refinance, it is important to understand that if you do this during your term you will be breaking your mortgage agreement and there are penalties that come with that. If at all possible, it is best to wait until the end of the mortgage term before refinancing.

If you cannot wait, it is important to understand how your lender is going to calculate the penalty if you break a fixed-rate mortgage. Canada’s big banks calculate mortgage penalties based on the discount you were given from the posted rate at the time that you signed your mortgage agreement. The bank firstly takes their new posted rate for whatever time you have left in your mortgage – if you break a five year contract on year three, this would be two years – and apply the same discount they first gave you. The difference between the two shows them the amount of interest they would lose for the rest of the term based on your current balance. This is what then becomes the penalty for breaking your fixed-year term and, in many cases, can be quite hefty. Other lenders such as credit unions and monolines will use the interest rate differential or a flat three-month interest penalty.

Beyond the penalties, there are a few other points to consider before refinancing:

  • You can tap into 80 per cent of the value of your home
  • You cannot qualify for default insurance which can limit your lender choice
  • You would have to re-qualify under the current rates and rules – including passing the “stress test” again

So what can you do? There is an option to sign a fixed rate for a shorter term, such as three years, or you can also consider a variable rate as the penalties for breaking these mortgages are much lower.

Talking to a mortgage broker about refinancing can provide you access to even greater rates and mortgage plans to best suit your needs and what you are trying to accomplish through your refinancing strategy.

BENEFITS OF REFINANCING

Regardless of why you are looking to refinance, it can come with a host of great benefits when done properly!

1.   A Lower Interest Rate

Depending on where you are in your mortgage term, you could refinance to get a better rate – especially when done through a mortgage broker. On average, a mortgage broker has access to 90 lenders and is able to find you the best rate versus traditional banks which only have access to their own rate.

2.   Consolidating Your Debt

When it comes to debt, there are many different types from credit cards to lines of credit to school loans to mortgages. However, many types of consumer debt have much higher interest rates than those you would pay on a mortgage. Refinancing can free up cash to help you pay out these debts. While it may increase your mortgage, your overall payments could be far lower and would be a single payment versus multiple sources. Keep in mind, you need at least 20 percent equity in your home to qualify.

3.   Modifying Your Mortgage

The beauty of life is that it is ever-changing and sometimes you need to pay off your mortgage faster or change your mortgage type. Maybe you came into some extra money and want to put it towards your mortgage or maybe you are weary of the market and want to lock in at a fixed-rate for security. It is always best to do this when your mortgage term is up, but talk to a mortgage specialist about potential penalties if waiting is not possible.

4.   Utilize Your Home Equity
One of the biggest reasons to buy in the first place is to build up equity in your home. Consider your home equity as the difference between your property’s market value and the balance of your mortgage. If you need funds, you can refinance your mortgage to access up to 80% of your home’s appraised value in cash!

If you are considering refinancing your home, or wondering if it is the best option for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional today for expert advice!