As many of you already know, Canada just became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Of course, this historic moment in Canadian history has cannabis activists jumping for joy while others are not s-toked on the idea.
With legalization comes the realities of growing your own pot at home which already has Global News giving Canadians a step-by-step guide on how to do so properly and legally — sorry Manitoba and Quebec!
We always have clients contacting us for restructuring advice on their current mortgages. However, through our initial discussions, we have found out that some have started growing pot plants within their homes. Since this legislation is new to everyone, including the mortgage community, we had to do some research.
Prior to September 17, growing cannabis at home was a legal grey area. Mortgage wise, it was a red flag. Any home that has previously or is currently being used in the growing of cannabis was treated as a “grow-op” and as a result is NOT financeable.
grow-op: a concealed facility used for marijuana plantation.
Since legalization day on October 17, the federal government officially set a limit of four pot plants per household — NOT by person. This information DOES NOT have to be disclosed on a property disclosure UNLESS damage has occurred within the household because of cannabis cultivation.
Just as a FYI — ALL property owners should consult their realtor or lawyer about how to properly disclose when selling their household.
After talking to our local Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation representative (CMHC), she notified us that mortgage insurers are currently leaving lenders to create their own policies on how to deal with marijuana plants and their effect on existing mortgages. We contacted lenders about this ‘budding’ home-grown industry but were met with no answers.
This situation is certainly a waiting game and we’re all holding our breath waiting for the first move!
Let us share our advice.
If you are looking to sell your property or refinance your mortgage — get rid of those pot plants now!
Any home appraisal company can disclose in their report that cannabis is present within your home which could place your home on a list that DOES NOT foresee future sales or refinances.
It is your safest bet to keep your cannabis plant growth up to the licensed growers located across the country.
If you have any questions, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.
You may have already seen the more technical BANK OF CANADA RATE ANNOUNCEMENT on October 24th, or you may not have. The Coles Notes (the simplest version) are as such:
Global economy remains strong, the USMCA will reduce trading uncertainty
Canadian economy is balanced for the foreseeable 2 years
Household spending will increase, but backed by income growth
Housing activity across Canada is stabilizing
On October 24th the Bank of Canada did what we all expected, they increased the Overnight lending rate by 0.25% to 1.75%. This equated to a PRIME being increased by 0.25% to 3.95%. All variable rate mortgages and lines of credit utilize PRIME to calculate the current interest rate.
Now the BIG QUESTION, how do we as mortgage consumers respond?
No need to ask me, I will tell you. Variable, with no hesitation. I will stay the course by not pushing the panic button.
Because if I decide to move, re-finance, consolidate, leverage equity or to simply break the mortgage for any reason my penalty will only be 3 months interest. I also need to consider how much money I have saved over the term by utilizing a variable rate mortgage rather than a fixed. During my current mortgage the spread between variable and fixed is approximately 1%.
Real estate wealth is a long game, building net worth doesn’t happen overnight. Gains are not made in the short term. Just like other markets (stocks, bonds, mutuals, GICs RRSPs), there will be highs and lows.
What does this increase mean?
Dollarize it for your own personal consumption. For an increase of 0.25% the payment will go up $13 per every $100,000 borrowed. For some variable rate borrowers, the payment hasn’t even changed as the lender only adjusts the principal and interest allocation.
Now the question becomes, what do you do? Remain with variable or lock into a fixed. I recommend staying the course.
Thank-you Michael Hallett DLC Producers West Financial for this article
With the Bank of Canada in a mood to raise rates, it’s a similar feeling for the bond market, which impacts fixed rates. In every interest-rate market there are many factors leading to an increase and we are hoping to provide a little bit of clarity on what is happening and what it means to you and your loved ones. We tell you this in advance to be proactive to take care of you, as our mortgage family, so as you hear the news about the changes you have comfort we are here to lead with clarity.
At this time, we see fixed rates increasing as the bond market increases.
Why do we note this information and how does it relate to you?
If you are in a variable rate, you will want to:
Review your lock-in options by contacting us or your lender directly (every lender has different policies in allowing us to help or not). Knowing it’s unlikely the prime rate will reduce and fixed rates are on the rise, there could be a sweet spot to review your options now.
If you decide not to lock in, it’s time to review your discount to see if a higher one can be obtained elsewhere.
Locking in won’t be for everyone, especially if you are making higher payments and your mortgage is below $300,000, which most people fit and will continue on that path. Also if your discount is more than .6 below prime you may want to wait and watch the market. Locking in will be around a 1% higher rate than you are likely presently paying. If knowing you can likely lock in around 4% now is most attractive to you, this may be your time.
If you are in a fixed rate:
If you obtained your mortgage in the last year, stay put.
If you are looking to move up the property ladder or consolidate debt, get your application in to us ASAP so we can hold options for up to 120 days.
If you are up for renewal this year or know someone who is, secure your options now with us to weight out the savings prior to renewal with us keeping a watchful eye on the market.
Keep in mind that if you or someone you care about has an average mortgage of $350,000 and got it a few years ago at 2.49% now a qualified applicant can expect about 3.89% which is a payment increase of $254 dollars a month, so increasing your payment now will protect your equity, and you from future payment shock.
Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) for many years have been a way for Canadians to unlock equity in their homes and use the money for investing, paying for children’s education or quite simply lowering their monthly interest payments on high interest credit cards. This is all great if the property values remain steady, but if there has been a big upswing in value and the HELOC has been increased, here’s what can happen if the values start to reduce.
The bank can call a HELOC at any time meaning they can tell you that you have to pay it off which for most would mean refinancing the property and turning it all back into a mortgage.
The bank can freeze the HELOC meaning you can’t use it as they may see that your equity is no longer as large as it has been in the past.
And of course, they can raise the interest rate on the HELOC at any time, most Canadians enjoy the great rate of prime plus .50% or 1% on their HELOC but that can change at any time. The Banks can decide they want more and increase that percentage at any time, plus of course we are in a rising interest rate period and the bank of Canada will most likely increase prime at least three times in the next year. With prime currently at 3.70 per cent, your HELOC could easily be over 5% in the coming year.
A HELOC has to be used with some caution especially when using it for investing; a declining real estate market can easily wipe out any gains in equity and cause one or more of the above scenarios to occur.
A lot of people are getting stressed out by Canada’s new mortgage stress test. In the past, if you had a good sized down payment (ie 20%) someone with a low income could purchase a home even if they did not meet the debt level guidelines for insured mortgages of 32/40 . Later this was changed to 35/44 which made life even easier but – no more.
What is a person with a low income, good credit and a good down payment supposed to do now?
Here’s a solution – get a roommate. If you purchase a home with a friend who is going to share the other bedroom of your condo or take over the basement, the rules do not allow you to include the rent. But there are plenty of homes out in the market with a legal basement suite, a duplex or perhaps a granny suite over the garage. As long as the income portion of your property is zoned for a rental portion, you can claim a portion of the rent as income and qualify for more house.
There are certain minimum guidelines for lenders – they usually want a separate entrance, kitchen and washroom. They may ask for a separate hot water tank as well. Lenders will credit 50% -85% of the rent towards your annual income. Don’t worry , your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker knows the rules and can guide you through the process. Calling us can get you into a home faster than you thought possible.
This is usually the more popular choice for clients when it comes to deciding on which type of interest rate they want.
There are many reasons why, but the most unsurprising answer is always safety. With a fixed interest rate, you know exactly what you are paying every month and you know that the amount of interest being charged for the term of your mortgage will not increase and it will not decrease.
Fixed interest rates can be taken on 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, as well as 7 and 10-year terms. Please note, term is not meant to be confused with amortization. When you have a 5-year term but a 25-year amortization- the term is when your mortgage is up for renewal, but it will still take you the 25 years to pay off the entire debt.
The biggest knock on fixed interest rates when it comes to mortgages, especially 5-year terms, is the potential penalty. If you want to break your mortgage and pay it out, switch lenders, take advantage of a lower rate, or anything like this and your term is not over, there will be a penalty. With a 5-year term a fixed rate penalty can be anywhere from $1,000- $20,000 or more.
It all depends on the lender’s current rates, what yours currently is, the length of time remaining on your term, and the balance outstanding. The formula used is called an IRD (interest rate differential) and the penalty owed will either be the amount this formula produces or three month’s interest- which ever is greater.
Fixed interest rates, especially 5-year terms can be the most favourable. They are safe, competitive interest rates that you will not need to worry about changing for the term of your mortgage. However, if you do not have your mortgage for the entire term, it could hurt you.
Variable Rate Interest
The Bank of Canada sets what they call a target overnight rate and that interest rate influences the prime rate a lender offers consumers. A variable rate, is either the lender’s prime lending rate plus or minus another number.
For example, let us say someone has a variable interest rate of prime minus 0.70. If their lender’s prime lending rate is 5.00% in this example, they have an effective interest rate of 4.30%. However, if for example the prime rate changed to 6.00%, the same person’s interest rate would now be 5.30%. Written on a mortgage, these interest rates would look like P-0.7.
Variable interest rates are usually only available on 5-year terms with some lenders offering the possibility of taking a 3-year variable interest rate.
When it comes to penalties, variable interest rates are almost always calculated using 3-months interest, NOT the IRD formula used to calculate the penalty on a fixed term mortgage. This ends up being significantly less expensive as breaking a 5-year term mortgage at a fixed rate of 3.49% with a balance of $500,000 will cost approximately $15,000. That is if you use the current progression of interest rates and broke it at the beginning of year 3. A variable interest rate of Prime Minus 0.5% with prime rate at 3.45% will only cost $3,800. That is a difference of $11,200.
You can expect to pay this kind of amount for the safety of a fixed rate mortgage over 5-years if you break it early.
Which one is best?
It completely depends on the person. Your loan’s term (length of time before it either expires or is up for renewal) can be anywhere from a year to 5 years, or longer. A first-time home buyer typically has a mortgage term of 5 years. Within those 5 years, the prime rate could move up or down, but you won’t know by how much or when until it happens.
Recently, variable rates have been lower than fixed rates, however, they run the risk of changing. With fixed interest rates, you know exactly what your payments will be and what it will cost you every month regardless of a lender’s prime rate changing.
If you go to the site www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/bank-lending-rate you can see the 10-year history of lender’s prime lending rate. Because lenders usually change their prime lending rate together to match one another (except for TD), this graph is a good representation.
As you can see, from 2008 to 2018, the interest rate has dropped from 5.75% to 2.25% all the way back up to 3.45%.
Canada has had this prime lending rate since 1960, and in that time it has seen an all-time high of 22.75% (1981) and all-time low of 2.25% (2010) (tradingeconomics.com). Whether you want the risk of variable or the stability of a fixed rate is up to you, but allow this information to be the basis of your decision based on your own personal needs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker. firstname.lastname@example.org, 780-919-0475
What usually follows once someone hears the term “Monoline Lender” for the first time is a feeling of suspicion and lack of trust. It’s understandable, I mean why is this “bank” you’ve never heard of willing to loan you money when you’ve never banked with them before?
In an effort to help you see the benefits of working with a Monoline Lender, here is some basic information that will help you understand why you’ve never heard of them, why you want to, and the reason they are referred to as lenders, not banks.
Monoline Lenders only operate in the mortgage space. They do not offer chequing or savings accounts, nor do they offer investments through RRSPs, GICs, or Tax-Free Savings Accounts. They are called Monoline because they have one line of business- mortgages.
This also plays into the reasons you never see their name or locations anywhere. There is no need for them to market on bus stop benches or billboards as they are only accessible through mortgage brokers, making their need to market to you unnecessary. The branch locations are also unnecessary because you do not have day-to-day banking, savings accounts, investment accounts, or credit cards through them. All your banking stays the exact same, with the only difference of a pre-authorized payments coming from your account for the monthly mortgage payment. Any questions or concerns, they have a phone number and communicate documents through e-mail.
Would it help Monoline Lenders to advertise and create brand awareness with the public? Absolutely. Is it necessary for them to remain in business? No.
Monoline Lenders also have some of the lowest interest rates on the market, the most attractive pre-payment privileges, and the lowest pre-payment penalties, especially when compared to a bigger bank like CIBC or RBC. If you don’t think these points are important, ask someone whose had a mortgage with one of these bigger banks and sold their property before their term was up and paid upwards of $12,000 in penalty fees. An equivalent amount with a Monoline Lender would be anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 in fees.
Monoline Lenders are not to be feared, they should be welcomed, as they are some of the most accommodating and client service-oriented lenders around! If you have any questions, contact me TODAY TO GET STARTED - 780-919-0475 - Amy Wilson - yourmortgagegirl