Mortgage News: Trick or Treat?

halloween pumpkinsThere’s been so much news affecting mortgage lending, home equity and ownership in the last few weeks, it’s hard to decide what to share first! Here’s a blog chock-full of “must reads” to spice up your day – and your Halloween!

Ready for some mortgage lending advice you can sink your teeth into? Talk to Tracy! Whether you’re new to Canada, a first time home-buyer or interested in mortgage re-financing, Tracy can help!

OSFI Unveils New Stress-Test Rules.

October 17, 2017: Canada’s banking regulator unveiled the final changes to its mortgage underwriting standards that will further tighten lending standards and affect borrowers and lenders alike.

The most wide-reaching change announced by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is the establishment of a new minimum qualifying rate, or “stress test,” for borrowers making a down payment of more than 20% of the home’s value. Previously, stress test requirements only applied to insured mortgages (those with down payments of less than 20%) and most variable mortgages and terms less than five years. Read the article…

3 [Incredible] Reasons Canadian Mortgage Rates Will Never Hit 5%.

Adam Button, Chief Currency Analyst and Managing Editor of ForexLive.com says, “High borrowing rates are a relic. Canadian regulators may soon force borrowers to qualify at interest rates two percentage points above the contract rate. With many posted mortgage rates now approaching and even surpassing 3.00% (depending on the term), this means borrowers will soon need to show they can afford payments based on rates of 5.00%+.” Read the article…

What You Need to Know about the Equifax Data Breach.

A few weeks ago, Equifax, one of the three main credit reporting companies, said that a major data breach exposed Social Security numbers and other important information of millions of people. The breach affected about 143 million in the United States, as well as some people in Canada and the United Kingdom, but Equifax didn’t provide a number. Hackers had access to the data between May and July, Equifax said. The company discovered the hack on July 29 and publicly announced it more than a month later on Thursday. Here’s what else you need to know about the breach: Read the article…

Your Credit Reports Matter!

Credit reports may affect your mortgage rates, credit card approvals, apartment requests, or even your job application. Reviewing credit reports helps you catch signs of identity theft early.

Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company so that you can ensure that the information on all of your credit reports is correct and up to date. You can view your credit reports for free at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

More Than Ever…

Never before have mortgage rules been so confusing – yet strategies so critical as they are today. Talk to Tracy Irwin, Mortgage Broker about all your mortgage needs.

Tracy’s Trails…

September was an incredibly busy month for Tracy with fundraising and planning activities with the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton.

Butterfly Release in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day – check out the video https://www.facebook.com/suicidepreventionhamilton/videos/117947038926023

Ride Away Stigma lineupRide Away Stigma – a bike ride to encourage open discussion on mental health and illness and remove the associated stigma. Raising funds for the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton, focusing on education, training, community awareness and engagement, stigma reduction and advocacy. This work is critical to fostering help seeking, reducing stigma and building hope in our communities. Learn more…

Genevieve and MattRunning for Rachael – A run or walk to support mental health awareness programs for youth, stigma reduction and fosters help seeking behaviour. The funds are used for school-based grants that fund student led mental health initiatives. Over the past three years, 36 Hamilton schools have been funded. Running for Rachael honours Tracy’s husband Sid’s daughter, who died by suicide 10 years ago. Pictured here are Genevieve (Rachael’s sister) and her husband Matt who came up with the idea for the run.

And “Last but (certainly) not Least”… Tracy is working hard to keep up with training for the Road 2 Hope half marathon on November 5th. Her reluctant running buddy is her son, Nathan (who we know is not a runner, but he is a wonderful son)!

 

 

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Mortgage News: Be Wise or Beware!

Five Easy-to-Avoid Pitfalls When Buying a Home

expert trapWith nearly 700,000 homes purchased in Canada each year, there’s no shortage of stories about the unanticipated pitfalls that can present themselves for home buyers.

Doing your research, planning ahead, not rushing through the process, and relying on the advice of experts, like Tracy Irwin – Mortgage Broker is key to making a successful purchase.

Before you start the home buying process, learn from these Common Mortgage Pitfalls. Then connect with Mortgage Broker, Tracy Irwin for expert advice so you don’t get trapped!

More Mortgage Reads:

Life in the Fast Lane

vehicle damageTracy’s Travels

One day in early June, Tracy learned to accept bad news with good. She was hit by a driver going through a red light. Thankfully, Tracy wasn’t seriously hurt and had two weeks to get in shape before her trip to Iceland.

As an aside, Matt Poort at PV&V Insurance and Novex were excellent in dealing with my claim. How often can you say that?

Tracy Irwin Suzuki Midnight Run

From Tracy’s Travel Journal:  Later in June, our trip to Iceland started with the Suzuki Midnight run (starts at 9 pm). I had to modify my run from the half marathon distance to the 5k distance but totally thrilled that I could run three weeks after my accident. Beautiful course http://www.marathon.is/midnight-run.

I’m not sure exactly why every vacation has to include a race, but there you go. It’s so good for the soul!

 

Scenic Iceland!

Incredible vistas, beautiful scenery, stunning waterfalls and vastly different topography. We travelled the entire ring road and know where we would like to go when we come back.

Interesting tidbit, Sid’s mother was a Canadian born and of Iceland decent. Sid’s great-great grandfather emigrated from Iceland in 1875 from Patreksfjörður.

We visited the original homestead and visited with relatives along the ring road. Everyone is related in Iceland! Population is only 330,000 with 60% of the population living in Reykjavík.

Joyful July

We celebrated granddaughter Mila’s Christening.

She’s 6 months old and getting cuter by the minute, don’t you think?

 

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Hello? Is Anyone Listening to Home Owners?

Voice Your Concerns with “Tell Your MP”

woman with megaphoneAs consumers, we often feel that our voices are not heard.  It has been more than six months since federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced significant new rules for mortgage insurance and eligibility requirements. Through the government’s ongoing defense of these changes, members of Mortgage Professionals Canada, like Tracy Irwin, continue to advocate for consumers and the mortgage broker channel. Mortgage Professionals are seeing firsthand that many consumers are frustrated with and affected by the impacts of these new rules.

Well, not anymore! To assist consumers in making their voices heard by government, Mortgage Professionals Canada has launched a new campaign to share those consumer frustrations with Members of Parliament (MPs) via a new website: www.tellyourmp.ca. Learn more…

New rules to compel Ontario Home Buyers to Provide More Citizenship Information

Regulatory changes requiring home buyers in Ontario to provide comprehensive information regarding their citizenship and place of residence took effect on April 24, as the province inaugurates the Prescribed Information for Purposes of Section 5.0.1 Form.  Read more…

There has never been a better time to talk to Mortgage Broker Tracy Irwin about your next move. Whether you’re ready to take equity out of your home, refinance, buy for the first time or last, separated/divorced, self-employed, or a newcomer to Canada, Tracy has access to hundreds of mortgage lending/loan products that will help open the doors to your future. Best of all? Tracy’s fees are paid by the lender – not you! Talk to Tracy today.

Tracy Treks

MS Volunteer BadgePaying It Forward…
After unrelenting days of rain in May, the clouds parted and the sun shone on the MS Walk at Confederation Park. Tracy says she loved being an MS Volunteer and was proud to cheer and encourage everyone along the route. Tracy watched in awe as many courageous people walked with the help of canes, walkers and in wheelchairs. Consider volunteering or donating to this incredible cause.

El CampeonHills in Florida?
Tracy’s recent getaway to Florida included playing golf at one of Florida’s Historic Golf Courses and Trails, El Campeón. Designed in 1917 by George O’Neil, and located a golf ball’s throw outside Clermont, this is the only place in Florida where there are hills. (Just not in this picture)

 

exterior of Howey MansionSide Tracked…  
Tracy, Sid and friends were cycling in Howey-in-the-Hills and discovered an open house at Howey Mansion. They learned the fascinating history of Howey Mansion and how this historic home has been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Browse the pictures and learn what’s behind Howey Mansion.

 

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How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage Rate

two things that affect your mortgage rateWhen the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) increased capital requirements on default insurers – and linked its capital formula to credit scores* – many securitizing lenders have opted to do two things:

Thing One:  set different rates for different credit score ranges – and / or

Thing Two:  raise their minimum credit scores for mortgage products

*A credit score is a tool used by credit grantors to determine your ability to repay your debts.  The information on your credit report is compared and evaluated against other consumer credit reports which gives you a credit score ranging from 350 (highest credit risk) up to 800 (lowest credit risk).  A higher score means you are less likely to make late payments or default on the credit extended to you.

For some lenders, borrowers with, for example, a 640 credit score, are offered rates that are 1/4 point higher than someone with a 760 score. On conventional mortgages, the magic number seems to be 720, according to mortgage columnist, Robert McLister. On scores below that, lenders’ extra insurance costs start climbing and some of them pass that on to borrowers.

New Credit Score Lending Trend Requires Client Education

More than half (56%) of credit card holders admit they don’t understand how their credit
score is calculated. Forty percent don’t grasp the importance of making more than their
minimum monthly payments. Cardholders who pay more than the required minimum each month are less risky borrowers in general, something that is reflected in their credit scores.

How Your Credit Score is Calculated

The guidelines used in determining your score include:

  • payment history – paying your bills on time is the single most important factor in
    obtaining a high credit score.
  • how much debt you carry– keep your credit cards low to keep a high credit score.
    Your outstanding balance should be less than 65% of your credit limit.
  • length of established credit – the longer you have had the credit cards, the higher
    your score.
  • applications for new credit  – a high number of credit inquiries will lower your
    score.
  • your credit mix – open only credit accounts that you intend to use on a regular
    basis.

Knowing how your credit score is determined can help you manage your debts to optimize your rating. Do you know your credit score? Do you know how to get your credit score? Want to learn more about how your credit score affects your borrowing potential? Talk to Tracy Irwin today!

Family Fun

collage of Dean, Lyla and MilaOh it’s been a busy few weeks with family and friends.

Check out these keepers.

(Only a devoted grandmother, like Tracy would touch a tarantula on purpose!)

Hamilton’s Winter Wonderland

Tracy snapped this stunning photo during an informal 10K run down at the Hamilton Waterfront Trail near Cootes Paradise. (How’d she get the geese to pose so nicely?)

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Is Home Ownership Still Within Reach?

New Mortgage Rules?

Last week, we saw the beginning of the hearings in Ottawa on the new mortgage rules. The Mortgage Centre worked long and hard on a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Tracy wants to share it with you. Download the submission here: Mortgage Centre Feb2017 SubmissionCommittee.

What was within reach for many – home ownership – is no longer attainable. This has a direct and immediate impact on the economy at the local, regional and national level. The housing market represents roughly 13% of Canada’s GDP, so the impact is quite significant. Housing has been one of the major contributors to economic growth in recent years.

Although we appreciate and share the government’s concern regarding the debt levels of Canadians, mortgage brokers across Canada were surprised by the extensiveness and immediacy of mortgage rule changes announced October 3rd 2016, which had significant impacts on thousands of people. As Canadians, we all have the responsibility to ensure our voices are heard and the powers to be hear them loud and clear!

Wish you had an interpreter to make sense of new and pending mortgage rules? You do! Tracy Irwin is an experienced and knowledgeable Mortgage Broker ready to help you navigate the terrain of home ownership.

Watch the 15 minute video summary from nearly four hours of testimony on January 30th here: https://youtu.be/JtIu5JNsvpE

Annual Report Reveals “New Normal” for Young Canadian Homebuyers

Each year, Mortgage Professionals Canada conducts research that focuses on trends in the housing and mortgage markets, consumer attitudes, as well as interpretations of government policies related to mortgages and housing designed to assist members better understand and serve their customers. Among the trends analyzed in the report by Chief Economist, Will Dunning, the reports reveals “Rental income and housing affordability represent a “new normal” for young Canadians”. Read the Report: Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada.

Canadian Housing Health Check

Recently released by RBC Economics Research, the Canadian Housing Health Check provides an assessment of key indicators of Canada’s housing market that are deemed to offer early warning of potential imbalances. Here is a graphical depiction of the current situation in Canada.

Four Time Nana

Tracy’s son, Nathan and his wife, Nicole are excited to announce the arrival of their first child, a daughter, Mila Rae, weighing 7 lbs 12 ozs, born on January 21st at 8:28 pm.

Life is perfect when you’re sleeping, isn’t it?

Tracy’s Boxing Day Challenge

Here’s Tracy, ready to run the YMCA Boxing Day 10 Miler Run (16k for those who prefer metric).

The race started at 11 am and despite the drizzle and rain, it was a great run!

(Tracy’s not sure if the shot of Sambuca after Christmas dinner was such a great idea, but she definitely got the job done!)

Liberty for Youth

Tracy started a 10k race on January 24 on the indoor track at the David Braley Athletic Centre at McMaster University, in support of Liberty for Youth. Unfortunately, she had no idea how many laps it would take to run 5K and had to be convinced (rather forcefully – lol!) to switch to a distance of 10K. According to Tracy, “50 laps around an indoor track is really tough. I’d rather run outside any day! This was a really great cause”. Most of us would give up after 1 lap, let alone 50!

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Ontario Helping First-Time Homebuyers!

Doubling the Rebate on Land-Transfer Tax

Portrait Of Extended Family Group In ParkOntario is doubling the rebate on the land-transfer tax for first-time homebuyers to $4,000, but is increasing the same tax on homes that sell for over $2 million. The government says half of first-time buyers won’t pay any land-transfer tax to the province, while the half-percentage point increase on homes over $2 million will affect less than one per cent of the population. Read The Canadian Press article.

More Really Good Reads

Canada’s National Housing Strategy

Thousands of Canadians shared their views, insights and concerns about Canada’s housing during public consultations from June to October 2016. The consensus is clear. Canadians want a National Housing Strategy that will support healthier families and build stronger communities and better housing for all. Find out more about what it means for you. https://goo.gl/X96dlw

Why Trudeau’s Tighter Mortgage Rules Are Likely Canada’s Last

In a recent Bloomberg article, Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge said Canadians should worry more about the supply of homes than the demand. “It’s not very complicated: there’s a supply curve, there’s a demand curve. If you restrict that supply curve then don’t be surprised by high prices,” said Dodge. Read more at: https://goo.gl/tHP4yN

Looking for help with mortgage refinancing or new/resale home mortgage financing? Need a new home ownership strategy? Contact Tracy Irwin, Mortgage Broker for your confidential, no obligation consultation today.

Tracy on a Tight Rope?

Tracy in Squamish BCIt’s a bird, it’s a plane. Nope. It’s a bridge that Tracy and Sid crossed in Squamish, British Columbia during a recent family visit. In 31 days there were only 2 days of sunshine – and guess who managed to catch one of them! Tracy and Sid took the sea to sky gondola and hiked along mountain trails, describing their adventure in one word. Breathtaking.

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Will You Pass the Mortgage Rate Stress Test?

home mortgage health check up A doctor may prescribe a stress test to safeguard your health by monitoring breathing, blood pressure and heart rhythm.

The Department of Finance is prescribing one to protect the financial security of Canadians and support the long-term stability of the housing market in Canada.

A Stress Test Example

Under the new rules, a five year fixed rate mortgage at 2.39% must be “stress tested” by qualifying at the Bank of Canada posted rate (4.64% as of Oct 19, 2016).

Currently insured mortgages with a term of less than 5 years, and/or a variable rate mortgage had to qualify on the Bank of Canada rate. Starting November 30, 2016, this requirement will also be extended to low ratio mortgage insured mortgages.

How does this affect a home buyer with less than 20% down payment?

The biggest effect will be on the amount that the home buyer will be able to qualify for. Previously, the borrower qualified at the lender contract rate. Now the home buyer must qualify at the Bank of Canada rate.

The bottom line

The net result is an approximate 20% reduction in the amount of mortgage money available.

How does this affect a home buyer with a down payment of 20% or more?

There is no significant impact anticipated for home buyers placing 20% or more down.

Do I still have the option to refinance my home?

Yes, home owners will still have the ability to refinance up to 80% of the value of their property. Specifics may differ from lender to lender.

Restricted insurance for low-ratio mortgages

Mortgage loans that lenders insure for conventional mortgages will be required to meet the eligibility criteria that previously only applied to high ratio mortgages. That means that there will most likely be higher costs for lenders with these loans. The question is, will those costs be passed along to you, the consumer and how much? Stay tuned for more updates about this change.

How Tracy Irwin can help

Now more than ever home buyers will rely on mortgage brokers like Tracy Irwin for their guidance and expertise in navigating these regulatory changes. The greatest value a mortgage broker can provide is the knowledge of the lending environment and in choosing which Lender is best suited for your needs. Book a complimentary consultation with Tracy Irwin today.

Learn more about these regulatory changes and how much home you can afford. Download the mortgage-rule-update-oct-21_16 today.

September’s Run-away Ride-away Weekend

Tracy Irwin running for RachaelSaturday, September 24

It was a busy weekend for Tracy. First up was Running for Rachael, a 10k run on the Hamilton waterfront to help raise funds for suicide prevention and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

The mission of Running for Rachael is to encourage discussion about youth mental health and illness and remove the associated stigma. Funds are raised for the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton for school-based mental health grants that foster help seeking, reduce stigma and promote mental health awareness. Learn more about Running For Rachael.

Ride Away Stigma starting lineSunday, September 25

Next up was the 50k Ride Away Stigma at the Dundas Driving Park, Dundas.

Our very own Tracy Irwin was the Coordinator for the 3rd Annual Ride Away Stigma event focused on raising funds so that, as Ride Away Stigma founder & cyclist, Danielle Berman shared, “No one should ever suffer behind closed doors for fear of judgment, humiliation, or damage to reputation. It is now my mission to help remove the stigma associated with mental illness and to encourage open discussion about it. I want to help others feel comfortable seeking help and to find their voice when all seems lost.” Learn more about Ride Away Stigma.

Total funds raised this weekend $20,000

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Banks Feel the Heat from Regulated Lenders!

The Globe and Mail Got it Wrong!

feeling the heatThree weeks ago, while we were all enjoying the hot and humid days of summer, The Globe and Mail reported that “unregulated lenders” now own a 15% share of Canada’s mortgage market, according to a Finance Department memo it obtained.

“Unregulated?” Not a chance. Virtually all prime non-bank lenders are regulated and must conform to:

  • Federal regulations that apply to the banks providing their funding
  • Federal regulations that apply to insurers providing their default insurance and securitization
  • Provincial regulations applying to mortgage brokerages, administrators, etc.

Non-deposit-taking lenders must also withstand the regular audits and scrutiny of their OSFI-regulated bank funders and investors. At the end of the day, this puts them under a microscope that’s just as intense as the major banks, if not more so.

This increase in Canada’s mortgage market share is great news. It means Canadian’s are waking up to the opportunities offered to them by non-traditionally regulated lenders. They and their mortgage broker partners are overwhelmingly responsible for keeping rates and prepayment penalties down, and that keeps more money in Canadians’ pockets. Ready to up-size, downsize, refinance or renovate? Talk to Tracy today.

Meet the Parents

family picture

Who doesn’t love a family get-together? Tracy and Sid are smack-dab in the middle of this happy snap featuring the Stacey clan.

 

New Baby on the Way

ultrasound picture

Tracy’s son, Nathan and Nicole are thrilled to announce their first child will be making his/her debut at the end of January 2017.

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The Next Generation of Homebuyers

2016 Spring Consumer Report by Mortgage Professionals Canada

first time home buyersTwice a year, Mortgage Professionals Canada releases survey results on the state of the residential mortgage market in Canada. This time around, the focus was on The Next Generation of Homebuyers.

The report delves into the behaviours and attitudes of Canadians under the age of 40 who don’t currently own a home but expect to own in the future – a group for which very little has been reported on until now. Read the report.

The most startling statistic we discovered was 74% of Next Gens admit they have at best only a “partial” understanding of the services mortgage brokers provide. Wow! If you’re a parent, help educate your Next Generation offspring by forwarding this newsletter. If you’re a Next Gen planning to own a home in the next 5 years – let’s talk!

Meet Tracy’s New BFF

Tracy Irwin and Nala, Siberian HuskeyIntroducing Nala, Tracy’s new Grandpup and BFF (best furry friend)!

Pictured here at 14 weeks, Nala is a beautiful Siberian Husky with tons of energy. After a 5K walk on the Dundas Valley Trails, Nala is ready for her next adventure.

(We’re not sure who will tire out first!)

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The 5 Most Important Questions to Ask When Applying for a Mortgage

five, ten, fifty dollar billsWhether you’re buying your first or fifth home – feel like a rookie or mortgage master, today’s fast-paced real estate market coupled with low interest rates have many thinking, “what have we got to lose?” The answer is a lot! Save yourself time, money and heartache by asking these 5 questions when you’re applying for financing.

1. What payment options are offered?

For example, biweekly or accelerated payments will allow you to pay down your mortgage faster.

2. What prepayment privileges are available?

Ask about lump sum payments and what percentage? Are they only available on the anniversary date? How about increased payments – what percentage? Is there a double up feature?

3. Is my mortgage portable?

Specifically, can you transfer your mortgage balance to a new property without penalties?

4. How does the qualifying process work?

Will the lender blend and extend to a new term (qualifying with contract rate) or will you have to blend to your existing term (qualifying with benchmark rate)? This is very important because if the contract rate today is 2.79% but the benchmark rate is 4.64%, you may have to break the mortgage and pay penalties!

5. How is my prepayment penalty calculated?

This is a very important discussion to have. The bank’s calculation method is much higher than non-bank lenders and the calculations themselves differ between lenders.

At the end of the day, you want to know you’re making the right decision based on ALL the available information. Leave nothing to chance. That’s why having a professional Mortgage Broker, like Tracy Irwin, in your corner is the best option for peace of mind today AND tomorrow. Contact Tracy today!

It’s a Family Affair…

Tracy, Sid and VanessaCherry Blossom Run
Tracy ran the 10 mile (16km) Cherry Blossom Run in Washington D.C. on April 3rd featuring 50 mph winds (80k) wind gusts. According to Tracy, “the 20,000 people running must have created a human shield; I didn’t find the winds all that bad despite the dire warnings. The route along the Potomac River was beautiful and included some especially hardy cherry blossom trees still holding onto their blooms”.  Tracy ran with husband, Sid and sister-in-law Vanessa.

picture of lovely LylaGranddaughter Lyla
A beautiful picture of the newest addition to Tracy’s family, granddaughter Lyla.

Perfect in every way.

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