6 Dec

SOLE PROPRIETORS

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

Sole proprietors are individuals who run their own business and do not have it set up as a corporation or partnership. The biggest difference between them and a corporation is that a sole proprietor does not have a separation between their business and themselves. This means that when taxes are filed, all costs that are essential to the operation of the business are tax deductible on the individual’s tax return. For example, an electrician who operates as a sole proprietor may earn $80,000 a year in income. However, costs such as materials, vehicle expenses, office space, or marketing (to name a few), are subtracted from the gross income- $80,000 in this case.

If those costs added up to $15,000 in a fiscal year, that sole proprietor really only earns $65,000 of income in the eyes of the lender. That is because the amount they are taxed on is the net income of $65,000 not the gross business income of $80,000. When submitting an application for a sole proprietor, you can either use a 2-year average of the net business income (income qualified) or state the income (stated files) based on a history of earnings and the businesses write-offs/expenses.

Majority of the time, we take the previous two years of income reported on line 236 of the T1 Generals, add them together, and divide that by two. If a business earned $80,000 of gross income and $65,000 of net income in year 1, and then $90,000 of gross income and $70,000 of net income in year 2, their income in the eyes of the lender is $67,500 ($65,000 + $70,000 = $135,000/2 = $67,500). There is an opportunity to “gross up” the 2-year average by 15%, but that requires a closer look at what the business has claimed as write-offs for their business expenses. A gross-up of 15% on $67,500 of income would equal $77,625.

Operating a business as a sole proprietor is a small cost when comparing it to a corporation, the main reason being there is only one tax return prepared for both the business and the individual. The down side, an individual must pay income tax at the personal tax rate on the entire net income, whether they required all that income or not.

A corporation on the other hand, pays income tax at a different tax rate lower than the personal tax rate. That way, an individual only needs to take the income out of the corporation that they need, decreasing the amount of income tax they pay on their personal tax return (if money is left inside the corporation).

If you are a sole proprietor and are curious to know what kind of mortgage amount you can qualify for, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

RYAN OAKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

29 Nov

5 THINGS NOT TO DO BEFORE CLOSING ON YOUR NEW HOME

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

1. Change your job.  You were qualified for your mortgage financing based on your income, how long you’ve been there, and the understanding that you will remain there for a while. Changing jobs should be put off until after possession day.
2 – Changing your name. Make sure that your identification and your name match. Do not change from John Smith to J. Michael Smith during this critical time.
3- Make any large purchases. Put off buying new furniture for your future home or a new car. Your approval was calculated based on your present debt obligations. It can also be bad to pay off any existing accounts. Some lenders want you to have some cash in the bank for a rainy day. They may have given you approval with this in mind.

4- Switch banks or move money to a different institution. This may not sound like much but a paper trail to show your down payment source and the automatic withdrawal forms for your mortgage payments are all set up. You can change them after the house sale closes.
5 – Don’t miss any payments on credit cards or loans you already have. Lenders often pull another credit report a few days before closing. If you’ve missed a payment on your Visa card, it could mess up your home purchase big time.
Finally, check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional if you are unclear about anything between the time when you receive your approval and possession day.

DAVID COOKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

22 Nov

CORPORATIONS AND MORTGAGES

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

For self-employed clients, incorporation is a popular business structure we tend to encounter. Having a corporate structure to your business allows for effective separation between the individual and the business.

If you own your business and have it set up as a corporation, that corporation is essentially its own person. They have their own income through business revenue and have their own expenses required to carry out that business – marketing costs, material costs, office space, etc.

When a corporation files taxes, they pay a lower tax rate than the personal income tax rate and only pay taxes on the net business income. The reason an individual might do this is that they do not need every dollar they earn to maintain their lifestyle. For example, if a corporation earns $150,000 and has expenses of $50,000 they pay taxes on $100,000 at the small business tax rate. If they only need to pay themselves $50,000 to maintain their lifestyle, they only pay personal income tax on the $50,000, the other $50,000 remains inside the corporation as retained earnings. If a sole proprietor earns $150,000 and has expenses of $50,000, they pay the personal income tax rate on $100,000, regardless of how much of that $100,000 they actually need.

When it comes to qualifying for a mortgage, a lender can look at the business income or the personal income they pay themselves. Adding the net business income or the personal income from year 1 and year 2 and dividing it by two is the income a lender will associate with that borrower. Keep in mind though this will also be affected if there is more than one shareholder. To find out how your income would be viewed by a lender if you have your business set up as a corporation, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

RYAN OAKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

15 Nov

WHAT’S YOUR BEST RATE?

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

You know, there used to be a time when I could give you a quote over the phone and I wouldn’t have to worry about being too far out. Today is a totally different story. Here are some of the variables that come into play:

1. What’s your credit score? A 700 FICO score is the new 650 for many lenders as their investors demand better quality borrowers.
2. Where is the property located? Rural areas are getting harder to finance.
3. Is it an insured file, are you putting less than 20% down payment?
4. Is it insurable? Are you putting down more than 20% on the purchase while being able to qualify under the stress test?
5. Is the loan to value going to be 65% or less? You get the same rate as the guy with 5% down and have to qualify with the same criteria.
6. Are you looking to refinance or buy a rental? Sorry, but both are uninsurable. You would have to qualify under the stress test and you would have to pay a slightly higher interest rate.
7. So, how about your employment; have you been on your job or at least in the same industry for the last 2 or more years?
8. Down payment requires a 90-day statement of where it has been kept, please be sure that it was in a bank as anything else seems to be picked to death. Lately, larger gifts have required that the giftor confirm that the money was in their account. God forbid they should have won it at a casino as they will want the print out from the cage boss, especially in B.C.
9. How fast is your file closing? There are usually “quick close” rates for insured files.

As you can see, there are a lot of things that come into play when determining what your best rate could be. Hopefully, anyone who gives you a rate over the phone has asked you at least some of these questions. The best rate today is more about what fits your situation but the old adage of who, what, where and how still apply. Once we have asked the questions, we have to audit the answers to make sure it’s the best fit for your situation. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

LEN LANE

Dominion Lending Centres – Mortgage Professional

8 Nov

ACCESSING YOUR HOME’S EQUITY TO INVEST

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

To tap into your home’s equity, it all starts with refinancing your mortgage. If you own a home, the equity you have built up in it is one of the most valuable assets available to you. It is also much more accessible than taking out a large loan. In many cases, home equity loans and lines of credit can offer you a lower interest rate as compared to other types of loans while providing you with access to credit for investment purposes. You can view an excellent comparison of loans here.

Often times we see clients who refinance in order to:
• Renovate their home
• Purchase a secondary property for investment purposes
• Debt consolidation
• Business Development
• Assisting their children’s post-secondary education
• Financing thru a “life event” such as illness

In this particular article, we are going to highlight the value of utilizing your home’s equity to reinvest in other investments such as:
• rental properties
• stocks
• bonds
• mutual funds
• RRSP’s
• RESP’s
The first question that people ask is how much can I borrow? Generally speaking, you can borrow up to 80% of the appraised value of your house. For example, if your home value of $650,000 assuming one qualifies, they can access up to 80% of $650,000 which would be $520,000, if their current mortgage is $450,000 they may be able to get a home equity line of credit for $70,000 (totalling $520,000)

Working with your mortgage broker, you can go through the refinance and approval process if this is something you are interested in accessing. It is always a good idea to consult with your broker and understand the personality of your mortgage—there may be limitations of how much equity you can access and the conditions relating to the refinancing. There are also potential costs associated with this type of refinance including:
• Penalties to break your mortgage
• appraisal fees
• title search
• title insurance
• legal costs
Keep in mind that these potential costs can be rolled within your new loan amount and will not be “out of pocket.”
Now, if you have been approved and are utilizing your home equity for one of the above investments (after speaking to your financial planner/advisor first) and can expect to see a higher rate of return than the interest you are paying to borrow the money, then it is worth considering. We emphasize that you should always proceed with caution and get advice from sound professionals before choosing to invest your hard-earned money.

We have found that this type of investing works extremely well for many and is a safer and less risky way to access funds for further investment purposes. We recognize that this option may not be suitable or comfortable for some, but it is a viable way to capitalize on the equity sitting in your home and make it work for you! If you have questions or are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

GEOFF LEE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

1 Nov

PRE-APPROVALS & PRE-QUALIFICATIONS

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

Throughout the mortgage and home buying process, there are many steps a buyer will need to complete in a very specific order. A buyer will not be able to close on a purchase if they do not have a lawyer. Financing conditions need to be lifted after confirmation from a mortgage broker that a file is broker complete. A buyer should never write an offer on a home until they have a realtor working for them. Most importantly, a buyer should never be looking at a property they are considering buying until they have been pre-qualified and pre-approved.

Now, one thing we need to make clear: pre-qualified and pre-approved are two different things. Pre-qualified is when someone completes a mortgage application with a mortgage broker or a bank representative and is told how much they can afford. Pre-approved is when someone has written confirmation from a lender stating they are willing to lend based on what is stated in an application and the applicant’s current credit history.

The difference?

Pre-qualifications are based solely on the knowledge and experience (sometimes even opinion) of a broker or bank rep. A pre-approval, on the other hand, is backed by the lender actually willing to give you the money. When someone says they are pre-qualified, that means they have taken an application with a mortgage broker or bank and in broker or bank rep’s opinion, they can afford “X” amount on a home. A pre-approval is a written letter from a lender based on the applicants’ current credit history, declared income on the application and current assets, we will lend “X” amount pending confirmation everything stated in the application is verifiable and the property meets all lender requirements.

As you can probably tell, one can be more reliable than the other, especially if you are working with a mortgage broker or bank rep that is inexperienced in the industry. Pre-approvals also usually come with a rate hold. What a rate hold does is guarantee you the interest rates that lender is offering today for a certain amount of time (usually 120 days), and if you put an offer on a place within that time period, they will give you that previous rate even if they went up. If rates go down, they will allow you to access the lower interest rate as well.

You must always get yourself pre-qualified before you begin looking at homes so you know what you can afford. Once you are actively looking, it is very important you try and get a pre-approval before you write an offer. It will give you that extra confirmation your application is acceptable and protect you against interest rate increases while you look.

If you require a pre-qualification, pre-approval, or want to speak with someone about your current situation, please give a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional a call.

RYAN OAKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

25 Oct

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

When applying for any sort of loan, one of the most important factors a lender is going to look at is your credit score.

But what really is a credit score, who keeps track of it, and most importantly, how can you improve yours?

There are a few simple ways to keep your credit score in good shape.

First off, prioritize paying your bills on time. Missing payments on your credit cards, lines of credit and so on, can have a very negative impact on your score.

You can spend an entire lifetime building up for good credit. All it takes is one mistake to negatively impact you.
Second, try to keep your credit cards at no more than 65% of their limit. This is the sweet spot that credit scorers are looking for.

Thirdly, you should avoid the “free credit score” services out there because they’re just looking to sell you credit, or sell your information to someone who does.

When you’re looking for credit, what they’re going to ask you is, ‘Why are you looking for credit?’ And you’re going to say, ‘Well, I’m looking to get a mortgage, or I’m looking to get a car loan.’ And then they’re going to sell your information to banks and mortgage brokers and people out there who are able to supply you with credit.

Instead, what you should do is go directly to the credit scoring companies. They’re required by law to give you your credit information directly, without affecting your score. TransUnion offers an online form. Equifax has multiple types of credit reports you can order.

You also want to try to limit the number of credit inquiries by different lenders. When you’re shopping around at different banks, the number of inquiries can add up as each bank makes an inquiry to see what they can offer you.

But as a mortgage broker, we have access to multiple lenders all at once.

You could effectively come to see a mortgage broker, get one inquiry done, and that inquiry is good for 20 financial institutions, As opposed to having to go directly to every bank. If you have any questions, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

TERRY KILAKOS

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

18 Oct

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN A HOME PURCHASE AGREEMENT

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

While a home purchase agreement may seem simple and straight forward, there are many differences that you can encounter that can be a big surprise to first-time homebuyers. While you expect the date of possession and the full purchase price to be outlined in the agreement, other items should be included that you may not be aware of.

New builds vs existing homes

If you are buying a newly constructed home, there are quite a few differences compared to what you get in an existing home.
Legal fees – often home builders will include the legal fees in the purchase price. You should be aware that the law firm that will provide the service is the builder’s lawyer. Should a legal dispute develop, they will take the side of the builder and you will have to find your own independent legal counsel. In fact, if you can afford it, you should consider getting your own lawyer. The $1,200 savings could end up costing you more in the long run.
You should be aware that the show home that you have visited usually has numerous upgrades. I know that when I purchased my first new home I assumed that the bathroom rough-ins in the basement were standard, only to find out later that this was an upgrade. Retrofitting plumbing pipes is a costly venture.
You should also be aware that landscaping, fences and window coverings are usually not included in the purchase price. Double check to see if the triple-pane windows on the show home are standard or an upgrade. Hardwood floors and basement development are usually an upgrade as well.

Existing homes

When you are buying an existing home, you will find that the window coverings, fences and landscaping are included in most cases. The window coverings should be included in the offer to purchase contract.
Something that may look like it’s supposed to be there but the seller may want to take with them is the hot tub and storage shed. Don’t assume that these items are included. The legal fees are never covered in an existing home sale.

Finally, from a mortgage standpoint, you should be aware that if you are purchasing an acreage or a large property with several outbuildings, your mortgage lender will cover the cost of the home plus one outbuilding and up to five acres of land. If there’s a garage, barn and workshop usually the garage will be included in what the mortgage company will cover but not the smaller outbuildings. Check with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before you make an offer on a property like this.

DAVID COOKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

11 Oct

5 REASONS WHY REALTORS WANT YOU TO HAVE A PRE-APPROVAL

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

You’ve decided that you want to buy a home. You call up a realtor to show you a listing and the first question they ask is “How much are you pre-approved for?” Many realtors will refuse to book home viewings until they can confirm that you are pre-approved. Why?

1- It shows that you are seriously committed to a home purchase. I have been told stories by realtors of people booking a series of homes to see and then being dropped off at McDonald’s to be picked up by another realtor to see some more homes. A smart realtor is going to ensure that their time isn’t being wasted.

2.- People have an idea of how much home they can afford just based on their own personal budget. Sometimes this amount is way off. The stress test along with loans, alimony or child support payments or high condo fees can make the amount of house you can afford a lot less than you would expect.

3- Surprises on your credit report. Many times home buyers haven’t checked their credit report before house hunting. An unpaid bill or a dispute with a contractor may result in a lien or collection showing on your credit. There may even be something from a person with a similar name. It’s important to make sure your credit is clean and that it is yours and not someone else’s.

4 –Income issues. A lot of people run out to get a new home when they receive a promotion at work. If the promotion includes a pay hike, is it salary or are they relying on overtime? Mortgage rules demand a two-year history for commission income, overtime or self-employed income. This can also curtail how much you qualify for.

5A – Credibility of the realtor.  When a realtor makes an offer on a home for you, they are not only investing their time and the listing agent’s time but their reputation. Making offers that will not result in a firm sale hurts their reputation in the industry. Trustworthiness and reputation are very important to realtors as they are guiding you in the largest purchase you make in your lifetime.

5B- Negotiating Strength.  In a situation where there are competing offers on a property, the seller’s agent will encourage the seller to take the offer that is backed by a pre-approval over another offer that does not have a pre-approval to support it. Your chances of getting your dream home are greatly increased with it.

My one recommendation is that you take the time to contact your favourite Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker and get pre-approved. It will save everyone time as well as disappointment.

DAVID COOKE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

4 Oct

7 STEPS TO BUYING A HOME

General

Posted by: Derek Vandall

It’s important to understand the home buying process, so here’s a 7-step checklist.

Step 1: Down Payment
The hardest part of buying a home is saving the down payment (a gift from the Bank of Mom & Dad also works).
• For purchases under $500,000 minimum down payment is 5%.
• Buying between $501-999,000 you need 5% on first $500,000-PLUS 10% down payment for anything over $500,000.
• Buying a home over $1 million you need 20% down payment.

For any home purchases with less than 20% down payment, you are also required to purchase Mortgage Default Insurance.

Step 2: Strategize, Define Your Budget and get Pre-Qualified
Unless you can afford to buy a home, cash in hand, you are going to need a mortgage.
You need to get pre-qualified, which should not be confused with the term pre-approved.
The big difference is that no approval is ever given by a lender until they have an opportunity to examine the property that you wish to purchase. The bank may love you… but they also must love the property you want to buy.
Pre-qualifying will focus on gathering documentation to prove the information on your mortgage application including credit, debt load, income/employment, down payment etc.

Mortgage brokers will make sure you get a great mortgage rate. Just as important as rates are the terms of your mortgage which should include:
• prepayment options (10-20%)
• penalties
• portability
We also discuss what type of mortgage fits your current situation
• fixed vs variable?
• life of the mortgage (amortization) 25 or 30 years etc.
• payments – monthly, semi-monthly, accelerated bi-weekly

Step 3: Set Your Budget
Keep in mind that just because you’re pre-qualified for a certain amount of mortgage, doesn’t mean you can actually afford that amount. Prepare your own monthly budget to be sure.
Typically, your total home payments (including mortgage, property taxes, strata fees & heat) should not exceed 32-39% of your gross (pre-tax) income.

Step 4: Find the Right Property – Time to Engage a Realtor
Once you have been prequalified for a mortgage, based on your budget… you need to find a realtor.
Selecting the right real estate agent is a very important step in the home buying process. When you work with an agent, you can expect them to help you with many things, including:
· Finding a home
· Scheduling tours of homes
· Researching the market, neighbourhood and home itself
· Making and negotiating your offer to purchase, and counter-offers
· Providing expert advice on home buying
· Handling the offer, gathering documentation and closing paperwork
I recommend interviewing at least three realtors. You will quickly decide who has your best interests in mind. Do you want to deal directly with a realtor who’s going to work with directly when you go home hunting, or do you want to deal with a BIG name realtor, who has buyers & sellers realtors working under them? There are advantages to each – you need to decide what is the best fit for your situation.
Get referrals for realtors from friends and family… OR ask me, I have a group of realtors that I know and trust.

Step 5: Mortgage Approval
Once you have found the property you would like to call home, your mortgage broker will send your mortgage application and property information to the lender who is the best fit for your situation, based on your input.
If the lender likes your financial situation and the property, they will issue a “commitment” letter outlining the terms of the mortgage. The lender will send you a list of documents, so they can verify and validate all the information you told them on the mortgage application.

Step 6: Time for the Solicitor (Lawyer or Notary)
Once the lender has reviewed and approved all your mortgage documentation and the property documentation, your file will be sent to your solicitor (in B.C. you can use a lawyer or notary). They will process all the necessary title changes and set up a time for you to meet, review mortgage documents and sign.

Step 7: Get the Keys
On the closing day, the documentation for your home purchase will be filed at the land titles office by your solicitor. Typically, the possession date is 1 or 2 days later, giving time for the money (down payment & mortgage) to get to the home seller. On possession day you set up a time to meet with your realtor to get the keys.
Congratulations you’re done – you now own your home!!

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… speak to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker!

KELLY HUDSON

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional