by Chris O' Sullivan - cosullivan@mortgagwriters.ca

The answer to this question depends on one two things: One’s current financial situation and do you want to save on paying the interest part of the mortgage.

I will go over the different payment options available and provide a chart on how much a mortgage will cost you depending on the payment option you decide on.

The Monthly Mortgage Payment:

This is the most standard payment. You pay your mortgage once a month. This is the most expensive option, since you don’t save anything on interest fees. You will have 12 payments for the entire year.

Semi-Monthly Mortgage Payment:

This option requires two equal payments ( 50% on the monthly payment), which makes 24 payments for the entire year. This is a better option than the monthly payment. It will save you more on the interest payments.

Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payment:

This option requires the borrower to make mortgage payments every two weeks on the same day. You will pay a total of 26 payments for the year.  You make half the monthly payment every two weeks. So you will make 13 full payments for the entire year. This will save you a bit more on the interest then the semi-monthly option.

Accelerated Weekly Mortgage Payment:

This will give you slightly better interest rate savings then the accelerated bi-weekly payment option. You will make 52 payments per year. This results in an additional monthly payment for the year.

This chart will assume a mortgage of $200,000, for a 5 year fixed term at 3.39%, with amortization of 25 years.  Below are the different payment options and the savings associated with each from a monthly payment option.

 

Total Payments

Total Interest Paid

Time To Payoff Mortgage

Savings 

Monthly Mortgage Payment

$296,088

$96,088

300 months

(25 yrs.)

N/A

Semi-Monthly Mortgage Payment

$295,765

$95,765

300 Months (25 yrs.)

$323.00

Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payment

$283,606.59

$83,606.59

266 months

(22 yrs. and 2 months)   

$12,483.21

Weekly Mortgage Payment

$283,470.10

$83,470.10

266 months

(22yrs. And 2 months)

$12,619.71

 

This chart will assume a mortgage of $450,000, for a 5 year fixed term at 3.39%, with amortization of 25 years.  Below are the different payment options and the savings associated with each from a monthly payment option.

 

Total Payments

Total Interest Paid

Time To Payoff Mortgage

Savings 

Monthly Mortgage Payment

$666,200.36

$216,200.36

300 months

(25 yrs.)

N/A

Semi-Monthly Mortgage Payment

$665,471.25

$215,471.25

300 Months (25 yrs.)

$729.10

Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payment

$638,114.83

$188,114.83

266 months

(22 yrs. and 2 months)   

$28,065.52

Weekly Mortgage Payment

$637,804.92

$187,804.92

266 months

(22yrs. And 2 months)

$28,395.44

 

If you can, it is well worth to use a bi-weekly or weekly payment structure to pay down your mortgage.
Chris O'Sullivan
 
Chris O'Sullivan is a mortgage agent for The Mortgage Writers and can be reached at cosullivan@mortgagewriters.ca
 
 
 
  
Read full post

This is the question that I get most asked: Should I go with a fixed or variable mortgage?

In the past, when the spread between the variable and fixed rates were way farther apart, it was an easy answer, as long as the client didn’t mind their monthly payments fluctuating. I would always answer: Go with the variable.

This was because, historically, the variable has saved homeowners money more than 85% of the time. However, times have changed and the spread between the variable and fixed rates has become a lot closer, since banks are not discounting the variable rates as much,  the best variable now is prime – 0.35%, that equates to 2.65%. The best fixed rate right now for a five year term is 3.29%. The spreads have come closer primarily because banks are losing money on the variable side and are trying to direct borrowers to the fixed side with lower spreads.

So back to the question: Should I go with the variable or fixed mortgage?

With the fixed rate mortgage, homeowners lock in their mortgage for a period of time, the most popular being the five year fixed-rate mortgage. Since rates can arguably only go up from the rates we are at, it seems like a logical decision to go with a fixed mortgage.

The difference between today’s variable rate, which is 2.65% and the four year fixed, 2.99%, is a difference of 34 basis points or just over one rate hike.

This is a small difference to have the security knowing that you won’t have to pay more if rates were to rise.

Moshe Milevsky, professor at York University and an author of mortgage studies says that the savings that one may get from variable rates in the future will be a lot lower then what was once enjoyed.

However, a person’s circumstances should dictate if they should go with a fixed or variable mortgage. If a person can take on the fluctuation of monthly payments, then the variable is ok for them.

One must remember that a mortgage is only one piece of a person’s total financial plan.

However, if you are still struggling to decide which mortgage is right for you, these are the top considerations to think about:

1.     Your Financials

Since variable – rate mortgages take on more risk, a person needs to know whether they are able to take on a fluctuating variable – rate mortgage. A person’s income should be stable, their debt should be low, a person’s sensitivity to risk should be low, and any assets a person has, are able to be turned into cash if cash flow tightens.

2.     Spreads

This is the difference between the variable – rate mortgage and the fixed rate mortgage. When this difference tightens, the variable losses some advantage. When the spread is less than one percentage point and the economy is at the bottom of an economic cycle, like we are now, the fixed has a higher probability of outperforming. Today’s spread between a five year fixed and a variable mortgage is half a percentage point. Based on this, a fixed is likely to outperform.

3.     Breaking Your Mortgage Early

One bank study pegged the duration of a five year mortgage is 3.3 years. This is because people break their five year mortgage early to refinance, sell, divorce, or just change to a mortgage with a better rate. Penalties on variables tend to be less, only three months interest, compared to breaking a fixed rate mortgage. Penalties for breaking the fixed rate can be a lot more expensive because of lenders interest rate differential penalties. If there is a chance you will break your mortgage, a variable may cost you less.

4.     Flexibility

Variables give you the option of changing your mind and locking into a fixed rate option. However, a lender’s rate to convert is about a fifth to a half a percentage point above its best fixed rate.

5.     Alternatives

The five year fixed and the variable mortgages are not the only options; look at shorter fixed terms. Today, you can find a two year fixed rate at 2.49%, where most variables are at 2.7% - 2.90%. You can diversify risk by using a hybrid mortgage. This is part fixed and part variable.

6.     Knowing Your Rate

There is comfort to know what your monthly payments will be from month to month. Variable rate borrowers don’t have this comfort and may have to tolerate some anxiety if rates start to rise.

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Well, we finally have some details and insight for the 2011 housing market, and it's about to get tougher for new home owners, and even those currently in the market.

There have been significant announcements this week for everyone interesting in buying or selling a home.  Timing is everything, and it appears that once again, there will be some significant changes that you need to be aware of. 

Considering the forecast for the Calgary Housing market to start increasing in pricing, and the tighter mortgage rules that will be coming into force in 60 days, now might be a vital window for home owners that are currently considering a move.

It is especially urgent for homeowners who are currently wishing to sell their current homes and lock in a new mortgage rate on a newly purchased home.  With only 60 days to finalize before the new rates come into effect, it will be a challenge to get a home on the market and sold in time to take advantage of the current status.  The up side is that over the next two months, the market may get very fluid with those who need to take advantage of the current mortgage rules.

I received the following details from one of my mortgage specialists advising that there will be some major changes in how mortgages are approved. This is a significant tightening for those of you who are currently considering purchasing a new home.

1.       No more 35 year amortizations

 

As of March 18, 2011 all insured deals will be allowed a 30 year amortization. Any fully signed contracts whether it be a purchase or refinance committed to by CMHC on or before March 18 will be honoured over 35 years.  You cannot have an increase in price after this date - if you do, you will be subject to the 30 year amortization.

2.       Refinancing has been scaled back to 85%.

 

As of March 18th,  home owners will have access to 85% of the value of a home instead of the current 90%. This will affect  you as a  home buyer when you take equity out of your home for a down payment.  In this case, you won’t be able to get as much funding up front and your monthly  payments will be higher.

Current and potential buyers please note that the magic date is March 18th, 2011.

On a $450,000 purchase with 5% down, this would save you $200.00 per month in mortgage payments and your affordability increases by 3%.

For those who are considering a home purchase requiring an insured mortgage (less than 20% down payment), you will want to complete pre-approval and possession of home prior to March 18 2011.

If you are currently sitting on the fence as to whether or not to make your move it is important to understand that buying today will save you money in the long run. After March 18th, this window will be closed.

If you are currently considering a home purchase and would like to speak to a mortgage specialist, I have excellent resources who are very talented in obtaining financing.  Please feel free to call me at 403-399-0809 and I will put you in touch with someone who can assist you according to your current circumstances.

For further information on these changes, and the background associated, here are a few links you can visit:

The Harper Government Takes Prudent Action to Support the Long-Term Stability of Canada’s Housing Market

Backgrounder: Supporting the long-term stability of Canada’s housing market

CALGARY HERALD ARTICLE: FeDERAL GOVERNMENT TIGHTENS MORTGAGE RULES AGAIN

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Now might just be the best time to lock into a fixed-rate mortgage, especially for those homeowners on a tight budget, according to an expert broker.
 
The Bank of Canada hiked its overnight lending rate by 25 basis points Wednesday, and variable mortgage rate products offered through major lenders are expected to rise in step.
 
Despite Wednesday’s increase, variable rates -- hovering between 2.05% and 2.25% these days -- still offer savings compared to fixed-rate plans in the near term.
 
But there is an argument for locking into a fixed rate sooner rather than later, said Gary Siegle, a Calgary-based regional manager at Invis.
 
The rate for the popular five-year fixed mortgage has recently dropped to a commonly available 3.89% and is as low as 3.6% in some cases.
 
We haven’t seen rates this low in recent memory, Siegle said.
 
“There are lots of people out there who are saying: Why would you overlook the fact that we haven’t seen five-year rates this low in a long, long time?
 

“Why would you not take advantage of historic low interest rates?”

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear-cut, Siegle said.
 
Some people are choosing to overlook low fixed rates because the variable options are still cheaper and may be for some time.
 

However, mortgage holders do need to consider that variable rates do change eventually.

“And the direction everyone is predicting that they’ll go is up. It’s a question of how much and when,” Siegle said.
 

Floating rates have historically been the cheaper option over the entire life of a mortgage but not everyone can stomach the often dramatic swings in monthly expenses.

“It’s a question also of psyche,” Siegle said.
 
People who are generally nervous or who are on a tight budget might be better off locking in now, he said.
 

“Even though they are giving up that 1.25%, they are gaining a lot of peace of mind.”

Homeowners considering the switch to a fixed plan could look into whether there is penalty for switching mid-term, Siegle said.
 
Either way, both variable and fixed-rate mortgage holders can take advantage of current borrowing prices by paying down as much of the principal amount as quickly as possible. That way, as rates go up, total debt burden will be lowered come renewal time.
 

Whereas the central bank influences variable rates, the bond market influences fixed-rate mortgages.

The slower-than-expected economy has fuelled investor interest in the bond rally, pushing yields down and allowing banks to offer attractive fixed-rate products.

Read full post

Story courtesy of the Financial Post

Canada’s housing market is expected to cool off this year and next, but isn’t at risk of falling victim to a U.S.-style foreclosure crisis anytime soon, according to a new report by debt-rating firm DBRS Ltd.
 
DBRS said in the report that Canada will continue to fare well in comparison to its neighbour to the south when the Canadian housing market corrects itself and interest rates are tightened. That is because lending practices here are much more sound than in the U.S.
 
“The likelihood of us having the kind of situation they had in the U.S. is extremely low,” said Jerry Marriott, managing director of structured finance at DBRS . “It’s a combination of the lending practices prior to the peak in 2007 — they were more restrained, so there were better underwriting practices in Canada. We also think there are a number of factors in the Canadian market which have lent themselves to more prudent lending.”
 
Those factors includes less aggressive lenders in the market, as well as systems designed to keep people paying their mortgages.
 
Mr. Marriott said that a cooling effect is gradually taking hold in the housing market as credit availability begins to tighten, and the HST factors into home buying decisions in Ontario and British Columbia.
 
That means there’s a greater likelihood this year that there will be a correction in housing prices rather than a continued increase. Mr. Marriott said the DBRS expects the market to cool throughout the year and continue to cool into 2011. That echoes analysts expectations, who also expect prices to drop as well. A recent report by TD Bank predicts prices will fall by 2.7% in 2011.
 
“If you add up the factors you would look at as to whether there’s going to be further price increases or the potential for a correction, we don’t see there’s a lot of factors supporting further price increases,” Mr. Marriott said. “But there are a number of factors that show there might be some moderation in housing prices.”
 
That may bode well for potential buyers after a report by CIBC this week said that on average, Canadian home prices are currently 14% over their “fair” value — that represents about 1.5 million homes, or 17% of all dwellings.
 
The report also highlights that Canadian households continue to have a particularly high level of debt, something that the DBRS notes is part of an ongoing trend. But it tempers that by adding that household debt is not as worrying as some analysts have suggested.
 
“We think the measurement of household leverage is subject to a fair amount of interpretation,” said Mr. Marriott.
 
For instance, the debt-to-disposable income shows Canadians are generally more indebted than Americans — however, the report outlines that this doesn’t reflect certain differences between the two countries that affect income, such as the fact that the U.S. has lower taxes but that Americans pay more money toward their health-care bills.
 
“At the end of 2009, Canadian households remained financially less leveraged by 10% to 45% compared with U.S. households,” the report said. Overall, after adjustments, Canada had a household liabilities-to-total gross income ratio of 116.8% at the end of 2009, while the United States’s ratio was 161.5%.
 
But Canadian household debt is growing faster. Household liabilities increased by 29.5% in Canada between 2007 and 2009. In the use, household debt grew just 5.3% during the same period.
 

Overall, mortgage lending in Canada reached $958.8 billion at the end of 2009. That’s more than double the $414.1 billion ten years ago. When including home equity lines of credit, outstanding mortgage-related credit was more than $1 trillion.

Financial Post


Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/fp/story/2010/05/28/3081970.html#ixzz0qwjO67re
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OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tightened mortgage rules on Tuesday and, in doing so, may have taken the steam out of a housing market that had seen prices and sales activity rise rapidly over the last year.
 

For most consumers, the changes are unlikely to make it more difficult to get a mortgage but it could reduce the size of the mortgage an individual consumer can negotiate with a lender.
 

"The changes (he) announced today . . . will actually impact the experience that all Canadians have when they go into banks to get loans," said Craig Alexander, deputy chief economist at TDBank Financial Group.
 

Flaherty's changes apply to any mortgage backed by the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
 

But Alexander said the practical effect of any changes to the rules around CMHC-backed mortgages is that lenders tend to extend at least some of those provisions to all mortgages.
 

More than two-thirds of Canadians own their own homes, a record for home ownership.

In Alexander's view, that means those who qualified for a mortgage under the old rules should still be able to get one using Tuesday's announced regulations but they may not be able to borrow as much and, as a result, might have to look at buying slightly less expensive properties.
 

That trend — forcing consumers to look at less expensive properties — could end up softening the sharp year-over-year price increases that have been characteristic in many cities recently. The Canadian Real Estate Association says that in December, the average selling price of a home in Canada was a little more than $337,000, a jump of nearly 20 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier.
 

The change most likely to affect most borrowers will be a new credit test for any CMHC-backed mortgage.
 

Previously a lender wanted to ensure that a borrower could make the monthly payments of a three-year fixed-rate mortgage. Now, lenders will want to see that a borrower can afford a five-year fixed-rate mortgage — even if the borrower plans to take out a mortgage with different terms that could result in a lower monthly payment.

For example, a consumer might want to borrow $200,000, amortized over 20 years, at the low rate associated with one-year fixed-rate mortgage — about 2.65 per cent right now. A monthly payment on that mortgage would be about $1,035.
 

But the lender must now make sure that borrower could afford the rate for a fixed, five-year mortgage — something closer to 4.5 per cent. The monthly payment on that kind of mortgage would be about $1,260.
 

The lender must make sure the borrower has that extra few hundred dollars a month to spare, even if the borrower is signing up for the mortgage with lower monthly payments.

Or, to flip this scenario around, if a borrower is limited to making monthly payments of $1,035, that would be enough to borrow $200,000 on the one-year fixed rate mortgage rate of 2.65 per cent but would only be good enough to borrow about $165,000 for a five-year fixed rate. Under the new rules, the consumer, in this case, would be limited to borrowing just $165,000 even if the consumer could negotiate different and cheaper terms for the mortgage.
 

The end result is that some potential home buyers will not be able to borrow as much from the bank and will have to buy less expensive homes.
 

"At the margins this will affect affordability and, in turn, activity," said Gregory Kump, chief economist for the Canadian Real Estate Association.
 

Flaherty also said those who wish to refinance their mortgage can only borrow up to 90 per cent of the assessed value of their home, down from 95 per cent. The intent behind that rule is to prevent a homeowner from carrying a mortgage that is worth more than the home itself.
 

"The underlying message is that Canadians should be prudent in the obligations they take on because we can all expect that mortgage interest rates will rise over time,"said Flaherty.
 

Flaherty's new rules are likely to have their biggest impact on those who buy investment properties for the rental market. Investors will now have to put up 20 per cent of the purchase price instead five per cent in order to get a government-backed mortgage to buy any property that is not the lender's own residence.
 

"I just don't want CMHC and the Canadian people to be in the business of guaranteeing speculative mortgages," Flaherty said.
 

Flaherty kept the minimum down payment at five per cent for those buying the home they plan to live in.
 

"The measures that I've announced this morning will not affect the ability of a Canadian family to buy a house," Flaherty told reporters in Ottawa. "It will affect those who are speculating. It will affect those who want to remortgage their house and get what is in our view an excessive amount of cash out of the house."
 

Though the new rules go into effect April 19, lenders are likely to begin enforcing most of these measures immediately.
 

"On the one hand, we don't want to discourage Canadians from home ownership. On the other hand, we do want to discourage a tendency by some to use their homes as an ATM machine, the tendency by some to buy three and four condominiums, for example, by way of speculation," Flaherty said. "We have a healthy housing market in Canada, but we want to keep it healthy."
 

Flaherty's new rules
 

Finance MinisterJim Flaherty announced new restrictions Tuesday for any borrower who wants a mortgage backed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Though they officially go into effect April 19, experts say lenders will likely put them into place immediately:
 

1. All borrowers will have to be able to demonstrate that they could make the payments on a five-year fixed rate mortgage even if they end up choosing a mortgage, such as a variable rate mortgage, that would result in smaller monthly payments.
 

2. The maximum amount consumers can borrow to refinance their mortgages is being lowered to 90 per cent of the value of the home, down from 95 per cent.
 

3. Anyone who wants a government-insured mortgage to buy a home that they will not live in will have to come up with a down payment of 20 per cent, up from five per cent.
 

Source:Department of Finance


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by Chris O' Sullivan - cosullivan@mortgagwriters.ca

The answer to this question depends on one two things: One’s current financial situation and do you want to save on paying the interest part of the mortgage.

I will go over the different payment options available and provide a chart on how much a mortgage will cost you depending on the payment option you decide on.

The Monthly Mortgage Payment:

This is the most standard payment. You pay your mortgage once a month. This is the most expensive option, since you don’t save anything on interest fees. You will have 12 payments for the entire year.

Semi-Monthly Mortgage Payment:

This option requires two equal payments ( 50% on the monthly payment), which makes 24 payments for the entire year. This is a better option than the monthly payment. It will save you more on the interest payments.

Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payment:

This option requires the borrower to make mortgage payments every two weeks on the same day. You will pay a total of 26 payments for the year.  You make half the monthly payment every two weeks. So you will make 13 full payments for the entire year. This will save you a bit more on the interest then the semi-monthly option.

Accelerated Weekly Mortgage Payment:

This will give you slightly better interest rate savings then the accelerated bi-weekly payment option. You will make 52 payments per year. This results in an additional monthly payment for the year.

This chart will assume a mortgage of $200,000, for a 5 year fixed term at 3.39%, with amortization of 25 years.  Below are the different payment options and the savings associated with each from a monthly payment option.

 

Total Payments

Total Interest Paid

Time To Payoff Mortgage

Savings 

Monthly Mortgage Payment

$296,088

$96,088

300 months

(25 yrs.)

N/A

Semi-Monthly Mortgage Payment

$295,765

$95,765

300 Months (25 yrs.)

$323.00

Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payment

$283,606.59

$83,606.59

266 months

(22 yrs. and 2 months)   

$12,483.21

Weekly Mortgage Payment

$283,470.10

$83,470.10

266 months

(22yrs. And 2 months)

$12,619.71

 

This chart will assume a mortgage of $450,000, for a 5 year fixed term at 3.39%, with amortization of 25 years.  Below are the different payment options and the savings associated with each from a monthly payment option.

 

Total Payments

Total Interest Paid

Time To Payoff Mortgage

Savings 

Monthly Mortgage Payment

$666,200.36

$216,200.36

300 months

(25 yrs.)

N/A

Semi-Monthly Mortgage Payment

$665,471.25

$215,471.25

300 Months (25 yrs.)

$729.10

Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payment

$638,114.83

$188,114.83

266 months

(22 yrs. and 2 months)   

$28,065.52

Weekly Mortgage Payment

$637,804.92

$187,804.92

266 months

(22yrs. And 2 months)

$28,395.44

 

If you can, it is well worth to use a bi-weekly or weekly payment structure to pay down your mortgage.
Chris O'Sullivan
 
Chris O'Sullivan is a mortgage agent for The Mortgage Writers and can be reached at cosullivan@mortgagewriters.ca
 
 
 
  
Read full post

This is the question that I get most asked: Should I go with a fixed or variable mortgage?

In the past, when the spread between the variable and fixed rates were way farther apart, it was an easy answer, as long as the client didn’t mind their monthly payments fluctuating. I would always answer: Go with the variable.

This was because, historically, the variable has saved homeowners money more than 85% of the time. However, times have changed and the spread between the variable and fixed rates has become a lot closer, since banks are not discounting the variable rates as much,  the best variable now is prime – 0.35%, that equates to 2.65%. The best fixed rate right now for a five year term is 3.29%. The spreads have come closer primarily because banks are losing money on the variable side and are trying to direct borrowers to the fixed side with lower spreads.

So back to the question: Should I go with the variable or fixed mortgage?

With the fixed rate mortgage, homeowners lock in their mortgage for a period of time, the most popular being the five year fixed-rate mortgage. Since rates can arguably only go up from the rates we are at, it seems like a logical decision to go with a fixed mortgage.

The difference between today’s variable rate, which is 2.65% and the four year fixed, 2.99%, is a difference of 34 basis points or just over one rate hike.

This is a small difference to have the security knowing that you won’t have to pay more if rates were to rise.

Moshe Milevsky, professor at York University and an author of mortgage studies says that the savings that one may get from variable rates in the future will be a lot lower then what was once enjoyed.

However, a person’s circumstances should dictate if they should go with a fixed or variable mortgage. If a person can take on the fluctuation of monthly payments, then the variable is ok for them.

One must remember that a mortgage is only one piece of a person’s total financial plan.

However, if you are still struggling to decide which mortgage is right for you, these are the top considerations to think about:

1.     Your Financials

Since variable – rate mortgages take on more risk, a person needs to know whether they are able to take on a fluctuating variable – rate mortgage. A person’s income should be stable, their debt should be low, a person’s sensitivity to risk should be low, and any assets a person has, are able to be turned into cash if cash flow tightens.

2.     Spreads

This is the difference between the variable – rate mortgage and the fixed rate mortgage. When this difference tightens, the variable losses some advantage. When the spread is less than one percentage point and the economy is at the bottom of an economic cycle, like we are now, the fixed has a higher probability of outperforming. Today’s spread between a five year fixed and a variable mortgage is half a percentage point. Based on this, a fixed is likely to outperform.

3.     Breaking Your Mortgage Early

One bank study pegged the duration of a five year mortgage is 3.3 years. This is because people break their five year mortgage early to refinance, sell, divorce, or just change to a mortgage with a better rate. Penalties on variables tend to be less, only three months interest, compared to breaking a fixed rate mortgage. Penalties for breaking the fixed rate can be a lot more expensive because of lenders interest rate differential penalties. If there is a chance you will break your mortgage, a variable may cost you less.

4.     Flexibility

Variables give you the option of changing your mind and locking into a fixed rate option. However, a lender’s rate to convert is about a fifth to a half a percentage point above its best fixed rate.

5.     Alternatives

The five year fixed and the variable mortgages are not the only options; look at shorter fixed terms. Today, you can find a two year fixed rate at 2.49%, where most variables are at 2.7% - 2.90%. You can diversify risk by using a hybrid mortgage. This is part fixed and part variable.

6.     Knowing Your Rate

There is comfort to know what your monthly payments will be from month to month. Variable rate borrowers don’t have this comfort and may have to tolerate some anxiety if rates start to rise.

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Well, we finally have some details and insight for the 2011 housing market, and it's about to get tougher for new home owners, and even those currently in the market.

There have been significant announcements this week for everyone interesting in buying or selling a home.  Timing is everything, and it appears that once again, there will be some significant changes that you need to be aware of. 

Considering the forecast for the Calgary Housing market to start increasing in pricing, and the tighter mortgage rules that will be coming into force in 60 days, now might be a vital window for home owners that are currently considering a move.

It is especially urgent for homeowners who are currently wishing to sell their current homes and lock in a new mortgage rate on a newly purchased home.  With only 60 days to finalize before the new rates come into effect, it will be a challenge to get a home on the market and sold in time to take advantage of the current status.  The up side is that over the next two months, the market may get very fluid with those who need to take advantage of the current mortgage rules.

I received the following details from one of my mortgage specialists advising that there will be some major changes in how mortgages are approved. This is a significant tightening for those of you who are currently considering purchasing a new home.

1.       No more 35 year amortizations

 

As of March 18, 2011 all insured deals will be allowed a 30 year amortization. Any fully signed contracts whether it be a purchase or refinance committed to by CMHC on or before March 18 will be honoured over 35 years.  You cannot have an increase in price after this date - if you do, you will be subject to the 30 year amortization.

2.       Refinancing has been scaled back to 85%.

 

As of March 18th,  home owners will have access to 85% of the value of a home instead of the current 90%. This will affect  you as a  home buyer when you take equity out of your home for a down payment.  In this case, you won’t be able to get as much funding up front and your monthly  payments will be higher.

Current and potential buyers please note that the magic date is March 18th, 2011.

On a $450,000 purchase with 5% down, this would save you $200.00 per month in mortgage payments and your affordability increases by 3%.

For those who are considering a home purchase requiring an insured mortgage (less than 20% down payment), you will want to complete pre-approval and possession of home prior to March 18 2011.

If you are currently sitting on the fence as to whether or not to make your move it is important to understand that buying today will save you money in the long run. After March 18th, this window will be closed.

If you are currently considering a home purchase and would like to speak to a mortgage specialist, I have excellent resources who are very talented in obtaining financing.  Please feel free to call me at 403-399-0809 and I will put you in touch with someone who can assist you according to your current circumstances.

For further information on these changes, and the background associated, here are a few links you can visit:

The Harper Government Takes Prudent Action to Support the Long-Term Stability of Canada’s Housing Market

Backgrounder: Supporting the long-term stability of Canada’s housing market

CALGARY HERALD ARTICLE: FeDERAL GOVERNMENT TIGHTENS MORTGAGE RULES AGAIN

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Now might just be the best time to lock into a fixed-rate mortgage, especially for those homeowners on a tight budget, according to an expert broker.
 
The Bank of Canada hiked its overnight lending rate by 25 basis points Wednesday, and variable mortgage rate products offered through major lenders are expected to rise in step.
 
Despite Wednesday’s increase, variable rates -- hovering between 2.05% and 2.25% these days -- still offer savings compared to fixed-rate plans in the near term.
 
But there is an argument for locking into a fixed rate sooner rather than later, said Gary Siegle, a Calgary-based regional manager at Invis.
 
The rate for the popular five-year fixed mortgage has recently dropped to a commonly available 3.89% and is as low as 3.6% in some cases.
 
We haven’t seen rates this low in recent memory, Siegle said.
 
“There are lots of people out there who are saying: Why would you overlook the fact that we haven’t seen five-year rates this low in a long, long time?
 

“Why would you not take advantage of historic low interest rates?”

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t clear-cut, Siegle said.
 
Some people are choosing to overlook low fixed rates because the variable options are still cheaper and may be for some time.
 

However, mortgage holders do need to consider that variable rates do change eventually.

“And the direction everyone is predicting that they’ll go is up. It’s a question of how much and when,” Siegle said.
 

Floating rates have historically been the cheaper option over the entire life of a mortgage but not everyone can stomach the often dramatic swings in monthly expenses.

“It’s a question also of psyche,” Siegle said.
 
People who are generally nervous or who are on a tight budget might be better off locking in now, he said.
 

“Even though they are giving up that 1.25%, they are gaining a lot of peace of mind.”

Homeowners considering the switch to a fixed plan could look into whether there is penalty for switching mid-term, Siegle said.
 
Either way, both variable and fixed-rate mortgage holders can take advantage of current borrowing prices by paying down as much of the principal amount as quickly as possible. That way, as rates go up, total debt burden will be lowered come renewal time.
 

Whereas the central bank influences variable rates, the bond market influences fixed-rate mortgages.

The slower-than-expected economy has fuelled investor interest in the bond rally, pushing yields down and allowing banks to offer attractive fixed-rate products.

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Story courtesy of the Financial Post

Canada’s housing market is expected to cool off this year and next, but isn’t at risk of falling victim to a U.S.-style foreclosure crisis anytime soon, according to a new report by debt-rating firm DBRS Ltd.
 
DBRS said in the report that Canada will continue to fare well in comparison to its neighbour to the south when the Canadian housing market corrects itself and interest rates are tightened. That is because lending practices here are much more sound than in the U.S.
 
“The likelihood of us having the kind of situation they had in the U.S. is extremely low,” said Jerry Marriott, managing director of structured finance at DBRS . “It’s a combination of the lending practices prior to the peak in 2007 — they were more restrained, so there were better underwriting practices in Canada. We also think there are a number of factors in the Canadian market which have lent themselves to more prudent lending.”
 
Those factors includes less aggressive lenders in the market, as well as systems designed to keep people paying their mortgages.
 
Mr. Marriott said that a cooling effect is gradually taking hold in the housing market as credit availability begins to tighten, and the HST factors into home buying decisions in Ontario and British Columbia.
 
That means there’s a greater likelihood this year that there will be a correction in housing prices rather than a continued increase. Mr. Marriott said the DBRS expects the market to cool throughout the year and continue to cool into 2011. That echoes analysts expectations, who also expect prices to drop as well. A recent report by TD Bank predicts prices will fall by 2.7% in 2011.
 
“If you add up the factors you would look at as to whether there’s going to be further price increases or the potential for a correction, we don’t see there’s a lot of factors supporting further price increases,” Mr. Marriott said. “But there are a number of factors that show there might be some moderation in housing prices.”
 
That may bode well for potential buyers after a report by CIBC this week said that on average, Canadian home prices are currently 14% over their “fair” value — that represents about 1.5 million homes, or 17% of all dwellings.
 
The report also highlights that Canadian households continue to have a particularly high level of debt, something that the DBRS notes is part of an ongoing trend. But it tempers that by adding that household debt is not as worrying as some analysts have suggested.
 
“We think the measurement of household leverage is subject to a fair amount of interpretation,” said Mr. Marriott.
 
For instance, the debt-to-disposable income shows Canadians are generally more indebted than Americans — however, the report outlines that this doesn’t reflect certain differences between the two countries that affect income, such as the fact that the U.S. has lower taxes but that Americans pay more money toward their health-care bills.
 
“At the end of 2009, Canadian households remained financially less leveraged by 10% to 45% compared with U.S. households,” the report said. Overall, after adjustments, Canada had a household liabilities-to-total gross income ratio of 116.8% at the end of 2009, while the United States’s ratio was 161.5%.
 
But Canadian household debt is growing faster. Household liabilities increased by 29.5% in Canada between 2007 and 2009. In the use, household debt grew just 5.3% during the same period.
 

Overall, mortgage lending in Canada reached $958.8 billion at the end of 2009. That’s more than double the $414.1 billion ten years ago. When including home equity lines of credit, outstanding mortgage-related credit was more than $1 trillion.

Financial Post


Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/fp/story/2010/05/28/3081970.html#ixzz0qwjO67re
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OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tightened mortgage rules on Tuesday and, in doing so, may have taken the steam out of a housing market that had seen prices and sales activity rise rapidly over the last year.
 

For most consumers, the changes are unlikely to make it more difficult to get a mortgage but it could reduce the size of the mortgage an individual consumer can negotiate with a lender.
 

"The changes (he) announced today . . . will actually impact the experience that all Canadians have when they go into banks to get loans," said Craig Alexander, deputy chief economist at TDBank Financial Group.
 

Flaherty's changes apply to any mortgage backed by the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
 

But Alexander said the practical effect of any changes to the rules around CMHC-backed mortgages is that lenders tend to extend at least some of those provisions to all mortgages.
 

More than two-thirds of Canadians own their own homes, a record for home ownership.

In Alexander's view, that means those who qualified for a mortgage under the old rules should still be able to get one using Tuesday's announced regulations but they may not be able to borrow as much and, as a result, might have to look at buying slightly less expensive properties.
 

That trend — forcing consumers to look at less expensive properties — could end up softening the sharp year-over-year price increases that have been characteristic in many cities recently. The Canadian Real Estate Association says that in December, the average selling price of a home in Canada was a little more than $337,000, a jump of nearly 20 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier.
 

The change most likely to affect most borrowers will be a new credit test for any CMHC-backed mortgage.
 

Previously a lender wanted to ensure that a borrower could make the monthly payments of a three-year fixed-rate mortgage. Now, lenders will want to see that a borrower can afford a five-year fixed-rate mortgage — even if the borrower plans to take out a mortgage with different terms that could result in a lower monthly payment.

For example, a consumer might want to borrow $200,000, amortized over 20 years, at the low rate associated with one-year fixed-rate mortgage — about 2.65 per cent right now. A monthly payment on that mortgage would be about $1,035.
 

But the lender must now make sure that borrower could afford the rate for a fixed, five-year mortgage — something closer to 4.5 per cent. The monthly payment on that kind of mortgage would be about $1,260.
 

The lender must make sure the borrower has that extra few hundred dollars a month to spare, even if the borrower is signing up for the mortgage with lower monthly payments.

Or, to flip this scenario around, if a borrower is limited to making monthly payments of $1,035, that would be enough to borrow $200,000 on the one-year fixed rate mortgage rate of 2.65 per cent but would only be good enough to borrow about $165,000 for a five-year fixed rate. Under the new rules, the consumer, in this case, would be limited to borrowing just $165,000 even if the consumer could negotiate different and cheaper terms for the mortgage.
 

The end result is that some potential home buyers will not be able to borrow as much from the bank and will have to buy less expensive homes.
 

"At the margins this will affect affordability and, in turn, activity," said Gregory Kump, chief economist for the Canadian Real Estate Association.
 

Flaherty also said those who wish to refinance their mortgage can only borrow up to 90 per cent of the assessed value of their home, down from 95 per cent. The intent behind that rule is to prevent a homeowner from carrying a mortgage that is worth more than the home itself.
 

"The underlying message is that Canadians should be prudent in the obligations they take on because we can all expect that mortgage interest rates will rise over time,"said Flaherty.
 

Flaherty's new rules are likely to have their biggest impact on those who buy investment properties for the rental market. Investors will now have to put up 20 per cent of the purchase price instead five per cent in order to get a government-backed mortgage to buy any property that is not the lender's own residence.
 

"I just don't want CMHC and the Canadian people to be in the business of guaranteeing speculative mortgages," Flaherty said.
 

Flaherty kept the minimum down payment at five per cent for those buying the home they plan to live in.
 

"The measures that I've announced this morning will not affect the ability of a Canadian family to buy a house," Flaherty told reporters in Ottawa. "It will affect those who are speculating. It will affect those who want to remortgage their house and get what is in our view an excessive amount of cash out of the house."
 

Though the new rules go into effect April 19, lenders are likely to begin enforcing most of these measures immediately.
 

"On the one hand, we don't want to discourage Canadians from home ownership. On the other hand, we do want to discourage a tendency by some to use their homes as an ATM machine, the tendency by some to buy three and four condominiums, for example, by way of speculation," Flaherty said. "We have a healthy housing market in Canada, but we want to keep it healthy."
 

Flaherty's new rules
 

Finance MinisterJim Flaherty announced new restrictions Tuesday for any borrower who wants a mortgage backed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Though they officially go into effect April 19, experts say lenders will likely put them into place immediately:
 

1. All borrowers will have to be able to demonstrate that they could make the payments on a five-year fixed rate mortgage even if they end up choosing a mortgage, such as a variable rate mortgage, that would result in smaller monthly payments.
 

2. The maximum amount consumers can borrow to refinance their mortgages is being lowered to 90 per cent of the value of the home, down from 95 per cent.
 

3. Anyone who wants a government-insured mortgage to buy a home that they will not live in will have to come up with a down payment of 20 per cent, up from five per cent.
 

Source:Department of Finance


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