24 Feb

Credit Challenged Borrowers


Posted by: Michael Hallett

In today’s economic climate of tighter credit requirements and increased unemployment rates taking their toll on some Canadians, there’s no doubt that many people may not fit into the traditional banks’ financing boxes as easily as they may have just a year ago. Your best solution is to consult with me first to help you get your credit repaired quickly or if you face a longer road to credit recovery. Either way, there are solutions to every problem.

If you have some equity built up in your home and still have a manageable credit score, for instance, you can often refinance your mortgage and use that money to pay off high-interest credit card debt. By clearing up this debt, you are freeing up more cash flow each month.

In the current lending environment, with interest rates at an all-time low, now is an ideal time for you to refinance your mortgage and possibly save thousands of dollars per year, enabling you to pay more money per month towards the principal on your mortgage as opposed to the interest – which, in turn, can help build equity quicker.

Following are five steps you can use to help attain a speedy credit score boost:

1. Pay down credit cards. The number one way to increase your credit score is to pay down your credit cards so you’re only using 30% of your limits. Revolving credit like credit cards have a more significant impact on credit scores than car loans, lines of credit, and so on.

2. Limit the use of credit cards. Racking up a large amount and then paying it off in monthly instalments can hurt your credit score. If there is a balance at the end of the month, this affects your score – credit formulas don’t take into account the fact that you may have paid the balance off the next month.

3. Check credit limits. If your lender is slower at reporting monthly transactions, this can have a significant impact on how other lenders may view your file. Ensure everything’s up to date as old bills that have been paid can come back to haunt you.

Some financial institutions don’t even report your maximum limits. As such, the credit bureau is left to only use the balance that’s on hand. The problem is, if you consistently charge the same amount each month – say $1,000 to $1,500 – it may appear to the credit-scoring agencies that you’re regularly maxing out your cards. The best bet is to pay your balances down or off before your statement periods close.

4. Keep old cards. Older credit is better credit. If you stop using older credit cards, the issuers may stop updating your accounts. As such, the cards can lose their weight in the credit formula and, therefore, may not be as valuable – even though you have had the cards for a long time. You should use these cards periodically and then pay them off.

5. Don’t let mistakes build up. You should always dispute any mistakes or situations that may harm your score. If, for instance, a mobile phone bill is incorrect and the company will not amend it, you can dispute this by making the credit bureau aware of the situation.

If, however, you have repeatedly missed payments on your credit cards, you may not be in a situation where refinancing or quickly boosting your credit score will be possible. Depending on the severity of your situation – and the reasons behind the delinquencies, including job loss, divorce, illness, and so on – I can help you address the concerns through a variety of means and even refer you to other professionals to help get your credit situation in check.  

17 Feb

Changes to New Mortgage Insurance


Posted by: Michael Hallett

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced changes to mortgage insurance rules this morning, which are set to come into force on April 19th, 2010.

This means the government will adjust the rules for government-backed insured mortgages as follows:
1. Instead of qualifying borrowers using a 3 year fixed rate, we will now be required that all borrowers meet the standards for a 5 year fixed-rate mortgage even if they choose a mortgage with a lower interest rate and shorter term. This initiative will help Canadians prepare for higher interest rates in the future.
2. The government has lowered the maximum amount Canadians can withdraw in refinancing their mortgages to 90% from 95% of the value of their homes. This will help ensure home ownership is a more effective way to save.
3. Borrowers will also be required a minimum down payment of 20% for new mortgages for purchases on non-owner-occupied properties.
At this point in time there were no changes to down payment requirements or length of amortizations for owner-occupied residences. If you are considering a real estate purchase, make sure you are well aware of the borrowing guidelines. If you have any questions, give me a call 604 616 2266.
15 Feb

50/50 Mortgage


Posted by: Michael Hallett

Hybrid mortgages – also known as 50/50 mortgage products – include an equal mix of fixed-rate and variable-rate components within your single mortgage. This means you get the best of both worlds – the security of fixed repayments with the flexibility of a variable rate.

Although there was a time in recent years when mortgage experts considered a variable-rate mortgage as the obvious choice to save mortgage consumers money over the long term, with fixed rates remaining near historic lows, a 50/50 mortgage may be a great alternative for you.

In essence, since it’s extremely difficult to accurately predict rates over the long term, a 50/50 mortgage offers interest rate diversification, which can help reduce your level of risk.

If you opt for a 50/50 product, half of your mortgage is locked into a five-year fixed rate and half is at a five-year variable rate. You can lock in your variable-rate portion at any time without paying a penalty. As well, each portion of the 50/50 mortgage operates independently – like two separate mortgages – yet the product is registered as only one collateral charge.

The 50/50 mortgage product is well-suited to a variety of borrowers, including those who:

– Would normally go fully variable but are afraid prime rate is at its bottom

– Aren’t comfortable being locked into a fully fixed rate

– Can’t decide between a fixed or variable mortgage

– Savvy first-time homebuyers

Some features of the 50/50 mortgage include:

– 20% annual lump-sum pre-payment privileges

– 20% annual payment increase ability

– Portability (the option to transfer your existing loan amount to a new property without penalty)

As the 50/50 option is a fairly new offering, according to a recent study by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP), 5% of Canadian mortgage holders have 50/50 mortgages compared to 28% with variable-rate mortgages and 68% with fixed-rate mortgages. But many experts believe the 50/50 mortgage is quickly

10 Feb

How Is Your Credit Profile Created?


Posted by: Michael Hallett

There are two major credit reporting agencies in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion. An account with usually both these credit reporting agencies is created when a consumer applies for credit. The creditor (bank, Credit Card Company, department store, etc.) would report this transaction to the credit reporting agency, thus creating the consumer’s account, and continues to send reports as long as the consumer has credit with them. There are very few situations in which the extension of credit to a consumer does not result is a report going to the credit reporting agencies.

The credit reporting agencies then track all the credit information reported to them and thus create the consumer’s credit profile. The credit information collected reflects the amount of credit an individual has accumulated, minimum amount of payments, the regularity of payments, any missed payments, credit judgements against them, etc. The credit report also lists their employer, or if self employed,occupation, address, date of birth and social insurance number, who has extended the credit, to whom the consumer has requested credit from, and often any former names (aliases).

Beacon Score

The assessment of the consumer’s credit worthiness by the credit reporting agency is based on statistics and various calculations that are translated into a credit score. Equifax calls their score a “Beacon Score”, while TransUnion calls their score an “Impercia”. A credit score is a risk assessment. It is a prediction of the consumer’s probability or likeliness to default on a debt over a 2 year period. The lower the credit score, the higher the risk of default. Since Equifax is used most commonly, I will refer primarily to the Beacon score. A beacon score can range from 300 to 850. Creditors usually interpret the score as follows:

680 – 850 : good to superior credit

600 – 679: average to good credit

570 – 600: below average credit

Below 570: poor credit

There are 5 main factors that influence the beacon score:

1. Payment History: typically contributes 35% of the score;

2. Amount of credit outstanding: same as above, about 35% of the score;

3. Length of credit: approximately 15% of the weight in a score;

4. Number of new credit enquiries: approximately 10% of the score;

5. Types of credit sought: about 10% of the score.

It is important to note that a high beacon score and relatively new credit profile may not necessarily lead to a credit approval. The creditor may not view the short period of credit history as sufficient evidence of the consumer’s ability to handle debt repayment.

Remember this is a working document and you repair any bad credit over time. Don’t have too many credit cards or credit inquiries as this will work against your credit profile. When you’re in the process of purchasing a new home and applying for a mortgage it is vital to put most or all purchase ON HOLD, until after the funding date. If you have any doubts, please ask me!

5 Feb

Vancouver Real Estate Hits Peak; Regional Sales Level Off


Posted by: Michael Hallett

VANCOUVER — Metro Vancouver house prices reached a new peak level in January while the overall pace of sales across the Lower Mainland eased off the torrid pace seen in December, according to reports from the region’s real estate boards. In Metro Vancouver, the benchmark price for a single-family home, the average price for typical homes sold, hit $788,499, some 20 per cent above January a year ago, when prices were still falling during the economic downturn, and two per cent above the previous peak of $771,250 in May of 2008.

In the rest of Metro Vancouver within the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s territory, house prices are still below their previous peaks. While the bounce-back has been rapid, Tsur Somerville, a real estate expert at the University of British Columbia, said the new highs are less concerning given that mortgage rates remain at near record lows. “That carrying cost and monthly mortgage payment is still down [from peak levels],” Somerville, director of the centre for urban economics and real estate at the Sauder School of Business at UBC, said in an interview. Somerville added that with overall sales cooling a bit in January compared with last December’s high level, the rate of price growth is likely to slow as well. Sales across the Lower Mainland in January eased off their December pace.

In Metro Vancouver, realtors recorded 1,923 sales through the Multiple Listing Service in January, which was more than double the number of sales in the same month a year ago, but off almost 24 per cent from the pace of sales in the previous month. In the Fraser Valley, realtors saw 981 sales through the Multiple Listing Service in January, off 22 per cent from December, but still more than double the number of sales from the same month a year ago when markets across the Lower Mainland had nearly ground to a halt. “Sales are not declining,” Somerville added. “But we’re slowing the rate of [sales] growth to something that makes more sense.” He said January’s sales, while below 2005 levels, the region’s peak year for transactions, the month was still on par with 2006 and 2007, which were busy years on the region’s historical scale.

Somerville guessed that some of this year’s reduction in sales may be Olympic-influenced. Condo owners who are renting their properties out for the Games are more reluctant to list them for sale until the event is over.

Homeowners put 5,147 properties on the market in January, which was 139 per cent more than were listed in December, and was 39 per cent higher than in January 2009. Sellers listed 2,941 properties for sale in January, a near doubling from the number of new listings put up for sale in December.

The benchmark price for a Fraser Valley single-family home, the average value of typical homes sold, hit $500,931 in January, up almost 11 per cent from the same month a year ago, but still slightly below peak levels.

Lower Mainland real estate markets saw prices jump again in January, in some locations beyond previous peak levels to new records. Below are some year-over-year examples of benchmark prices, which are average prices for typical homes sold.

Metro Vancouver Price Point

Single family: $$788,499 +20%

Townhouse: $482,478 +13%

Condominium: $385,487 +15%

Fraser Valley Price Point

Single family: $500,931 +11%

Townhouse: $317,719 +8%

Condominium: $243,470 +10%

Source: Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

3 Feb

The HST – it’s coming July 1, 2010!


Posted by: Michael Hallett

Whether you like it or not, the Harmonized Sales Tax is going to be implemented on July 1, 2010. Here are some keys points for what you need to know if you are a home buyer.

The federal and provincial government will combine the 7% PST and 5% GST into one 12% HST. Generally, if you are planning to buy a new home, the GST rules that currently apply to residential property will also apply under the HST of July 1, 2010.

The good news for home buyers of new detached, attached and condominium apartment may be eligible for the New Housing Rebate if you buy, as your primary residence a:

  • New home with land or
  • New home with leased land or
  • New mobile or floating home or
  • Home you buy through shares in a housing co-op or
  • Home constructed or substantially renovated (more than 90% by the owner who is the general contractor.


The maximum home price had been $400,000.00 to be eligible. In October 2009, the Real Estate Board asked the government to raise this amount to $700,000.00. The government compromised and has raised the threshold to $525,000.00 for a maximum rebate of $26,250.00. Homes costing more than $525,000.00 will be eligible for a flat rebate of $26,250.00.

For more information on this and various other housing related issues, go to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, www.rebgv.org.

1 Feb

Happy 4th Birthday, DLC


Posted by: Michael Hallett

Prior to officially launching Dominion Lending Centres on January 27th, 2006, Gary Mauris and Chris Kayat, the founders, flew under the radar for more than a year while they researched all the active mortgage brokerage models in Canada, the US and Australia.
They discovered a gap in the Canadian marketplace for a national mortgage brokerage brand that reached out to consumers as competition for the banks. No other brokerage was advertising on a national level, and no one was using an advertising fund to help bring them to a national level of awareness. As well, the trailer fee model was not being embraced to enable brokers to have a residual stream of income that would help sustain them upon retirement.
Once others in the industry heard about Dominion Lending Centres and two guys running the company who had never been in the business before, they said the model would never work. How could you get a bunch of brokers to pay into a national advertising fund when they only cared about themselves on a local level? Oh, these guys will just start up this company so they can try to make big bucks in a sale, the competition said. They’ll hire anyone with a heartbeat, others said…
And through it all, DLC’s Head Office team heard every possible excuse the competition could make as to why we simply wouldn’t succeed. Still, we knew the model would work – all the while, Gary and Chris said Dominion Lending Centres would not settle for anything less than becoming the number one mortgage brokerage in the country!
And, guess what – we have not only managed to succeed but, in 2009, Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professionals funded more mortgage volume than any other brokerage in Canada!
It’s thanks to the top-notch mortgage professionals who have believed in DLC and what the company stands for as well as a head office team second-to-none that supported Gary and Chris’ vision and sealed the deal for DLC’s success!
But the hard work is not over! We must always continue evolving and improving to ensure we remain on top – and offer the very best value proposition to our mortgage professionals, consumers and lenders!
In celebration of our fourth birthday today, let’s look at some of the accomplishments Dominion Lending Centres has achieved within its first four years:
– In 2009, took a leadership position in Canada based on submissions as per Filogix
– Experienced 47 consecutive months of growth
– Grew from 0 to $8 billion in funded volume in 4 years
– Expanded from 0 to 1,600+ agents in 4 years
– Ranked 23rd on the PROFIT HOT 50 list of emerging growth companies – which appeared in the October 2009 issue of Profit Magazine – with 485% revenue growth over a 24-month period (2006-2008)
– Grew to include 135 franchises across Canada with more than 225 street front locations
-Our National Advertising Campaign (1st such ad fund created within the Industry, where the agents pay into it monthly like RE/MAX) aired 7,300 commercials in 2009 and made 170 million viewer impressions – including commercials on the finales for American Idol and Survivor with 11 million viewers watching
– DLC and our agents have been awarded Best National Newcomer Firm (DLC), Best Branding (DLC), AMP of the Year, Best Newcomer Broker, and one of our agents, was awarded Canada’s Top 50 Broker for 2008 (released in 2009 by CMP)
– Most successful white label branded mortgage line offering the best upfront and residual income in the industry
– DLC is number one in origination volume at several national Canadian lenders
Thank you for your continued support and devotion to DLC and this fabulous industry. Here’s to many more successful years together!