Soapboxes, Popcorn and Credit Cards. Oh My!
By my count, on a random Thursday night, as I have a glass of wine and some microwave popcorn for supper, there have been about 9 sweeping regulatory changes in the Canadian mortgage market since 2007.
Lets go back to 2007.
At that time, I was in love forever, I wore a size 26 pair of jeans and my Canadian Blue Chips were pulling in a lazy 15% return, all while I was trying to figure out what was going on in Lost. (What exactly was the black smoke monster? Did they ever really ever circle back to that?) Speaking of smoke, all of this went up in it.
That same year, I left my cush bank gig for the rock n roll lifestyle of a mortgage broker because I was promised endless sandwiches and the ability to cuss whenever I wanted. And here I am. Exactly 10 years later. Truly, the sandwiches and profanity are the only constants in this market. Everything else is flipped and reversed.
There are probably a couple of changes in how your mortgage is qualified that we should address. So, let me just lay this out for you:
Firstly....you kind of need a paper trail and reasonable track record of the income that you earn over a legit period of time that would lead someone to the logical conclusion that you can afford a payment on a big thing like a whole entire house.
I knowbanks are assholes. But lets just devils advocate this one.
If you have a salary or guaranteed base hours and that can be confirmed by your employer, we can use that to determine how much of a mortgage payment you can afford by the banks guidelines. If you have any fluctuating income, are self-employed or working on a contract basis, youre going to need to show a two-year track record of how thats been playing out. Or, youre going to need to pony up a more sizable down payment to mitigate the possibility of a dip in your earnings.
Does that really seem so unreasonable? Youre buying a WHOLE ENTIRE HOUSE!
Second...ifyou have credit card debt, or lines of credit which are readvancible*, we are going to assign, on your mortgage application, a completely fictitious, super-high payment that you dont contractually, morally or reasonably ever have to pay and will effect the price of the home the banks determine that you can afford by their guidelines. (And when I say super-high, I mean James Franco super-high.) Oh and by the way, youre completely screwing your credit!
*Readvancible means that its not a loan that you would make set payments on over a predetermined amount of time until its paid. Rather, its a credit limit, like a credit card or line of credit.
And I have a serious beef on this point.
When it comes to your credit card debt and how its required to be appropriated on your mortgage application, the banks blame the feds who regulate the banks. The feds wag their fingers at the consumers who misuse the credit limits. The credit limits are glad-handed by the banks to anyone with a pulse. The banks blame the feds and the feds blame us and the banks blame
You get where this is going, right? To Bullshitsville! Thats where.
Take control. If you are holding credit card debt or balances on lines of credit, you are putting undue pressure on your capacity to carry a mortgage. You may have some interest-only, easy-street, payment arrangement written in blood on your 20% annual interest contract. However, the banks are assigning a very large, made up payment for the purpose of qualifying a mortgage. (The same bank that said Hey! Here! Have this interest-only, easy-street credit card! Youve made it, Cuz! Drinks for everyone!) And then you cant qualify for your mortgage.
This is a thing. Its happening.
And not to kick you while youre down but if you are holding more than 50% balance on your credit card, in relation to the overall credit limit, your credit score is abysmal. This is true. Call your handy dandy mortgage broker. We see credit reports by the dozen, on the daily. And we can help. We have access to the whole puppetshow. We know where all the strings are. And when I say we, I actually mean more specifically me. I can help. Its pretty much my lifes work.
On a side note, its been 10 years for me as a mortgage broker this month. This is a tough industry. So, I think that makes me officially biker-gang badass. And Im celebrating with wine and microwave popcorn.
Like a black smoke baller.
A good credit report and credit score are important factors in determining whether or not you will be approved for a mortgage. Here are some simple steps you can take to maintain a good credit history, and improve your chances of being approved.
What is a Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that illustrates your financial health at a specific point in time. It also serves as an indicator of your financial past, and how consistently you pay off your bills and debts. This is one of the factors mortgage professionals consider in qualifying you for a mortgage.
How to Check Your Credit Score
To find out your credit score, contact Canadas two credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada at www.equifax.ca and TransUnion Canada at www.transunion.ca. For a fee, these agencies will provide you with an online copy of your credit score as well as a credit report a detailed summary of your credit history, employment history and personal financial information on file. You can also obtain a free copy of your credit report by mail. If you find any errors in your report, notify the credit-reporting agency and the organization responsible for the inaccuracy immediately.
If You Do Not Have a Credit Score
Its important to begin building a credit history as early as possible. You can begin to build one by applying for and responsibly using a credit card. Your financial institution or mortgage professional can help.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Demonstrating your ability to manage credit is key to maintaining a good credit score. There are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score. These include: Always pay your bills in full and on time. If you cannot pay the full amount, try to pay at least the required minimum shown on your monthly statement. Pay off your debts (such as loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc.) as quickly as possible. Never go over the limit on your credit cards, and try to keep your balances well below the limits. Reduce the number of credit card or loan applications you make. Once your credit score has improved, work with your mortgage professional to obtain a mortgage that works for you.
Find Out More
To find out more about credit scores and reports, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website and download or request a free copy of their guide, Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score. This guide provides practical, straightforward information on how to obtain and understand your credit report and score, as well as how to build and maintain a good credit history.
CMHC’s 2017 Mortgage Consumer Survey
In March 2017, CMHC completed an online survey of 3,002 recent mortgage consumers, all prime household decision-makers who had undertaken a mortgage transaction in the past 12 months. Sixty-five percent had undergone a mortgage renewal, 15% had refinanced their mortgage, and 20% had purchased a home with mortgage financing (11% First-Time Buyers and 9% Repeat Buyers). CMHC has conducted this survey since 1999. It is the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind in Canada.
The Home Buying Process
Sixty-four percent of First-Time Buyers indicated they were renting before purchasing, and 34% lived with family.
Wanting to buy their first home (37%) and feeling financially ready (31%) were the most important reasons First-Time Buyers gave for purchasing a home in the past year. Low interest rates was the most important reason noted by Repeat Buyers at 33%.
Fifty-three percent of buyers were aware of the latest mortgage qualification changes, and 19% noted that it impacted their purchase decision. For example, 11% of buyers said they increased their down payment, 6% purchased a smaller home, 5% purchased in a dfferent location, and 3% delayed their purchase.
Buyers interact with a wide variety of people, and are most likely to consult a real estate agent (72%), or look to a family member or mortgage lender for advice (both at 57%). Forty-one percent reported interacting with a mortgage broker. Of all interactions, real estate agents were noted as most valuable.
Seventy-one percent of First-Time Buyers accessed savings for their down payment, while 18% received a gift from a family member.
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