Got a small mortgage balance owing? Why you'll likely get a lousy rate.
Special to The Globe and Mail -PublishedSunday, Nov. 22, 2015 5:45PM EST -Last updatedMonday, Nov. 23, 2015 8:12AM EST
Picture this: You spend 15 or 20 years slaving to pay down your mortgage. Youve built up 80 per cent equity in your home and you have just five years left until its free and clear.
After all that effort, after all that built-up equity, you deserve the lowest mortgage rate around, right?
Perhaps, but thats not how it works in our mortgage market. The people rewarded with the lowest rates are the ones with big, fat six-figure mortgages, and there are two main reasons for it. The first one wont surprise you, but the second one might.
The No. 1 reason that lenders covet monster loans is profit. If youve got a giant mortgage, banks and credit unions figure youll have more assets to invest with them, more savings to rot in their 1-per-cent savings accounts, more purchases to put on their credit cards and credit lines, more appetite for insurance and so on.
Thats why its easier to grind down a banks mortgage specialist on a $700,000 loan than one for $70,000. (One exception is when you have a small mortgage, plus a large amount of non-mortgage business with that lender, and you threaten to leave them.)
Brokers are the same way. They earn commissions just like bankers. And the bigger the mortgage, the bigger the commission.
Thats why some of the best deals on rate-comparison websites say things such as: For mortgages of $300,000 or more. Mortgage minimums are becoming more and more common.
For most brokers, one $300,000 mortgage is better than doing six for $50,000. Of course, six $50,000 clients means six potential referral sources instead of one. But it also means exerting six times the effort to close those mortgages, and time is a scarce resource for brokers.
The second reason small-time borrowers do worse in the rate department is risk. Its one of the most counterintuitive things in the mortgage industry, but someone with a puny 5-per-cent down payment often gets a better rate than someone whos been pounding down his or her mortgage for decades.
Thats crazy, you may say. Isnt my mortgage less risky if I have a huge amount of home equity?
Technically, yes. But if youre dealing with a lender who sells mortgages to investors, thats not always reality. Mortgage investors prefer the safety of insured mortgages. Those are mortgages where an insurer, backed by the Government of Canada, guarantees to pay off the balance if the borrower defaults.
Theres a cost for this insurance, and when the mortgage is less than 80 per cent of the property value, the lender must typically cough up this fee. By comparison, when the loan-to-value ratio is more than 80 per cent, it is the borrower who pays that insurance premium. For lenders who sell their mortgages to investors, avoiding the cost of insurance lets them offer slightly lower rates usually about one-tenth of a percentage point lower.
Quick tip: If youre renewing a mortgage that you paid to insure, youve built up 20 per cent equity or more and youre switching lenders, provide your insurance policy number to your new lender or broker. Keeping your default insurance in force costs you nothing and gives you a wider selection of lenders and rates when you renew the next time.
So, where can diligent borrowers go for a deal on a mini-mortgage? Most people just renew with their existing lender. Saving one-tenth of a per cent interest on a $50,000 mortgage with a five-year term and amortization is only about $130. Unless you need to refinance or add a secured line of credit, the trivial savings dont offset the hassle of reapplying elsewhere, collecting your documentation, getting your home appraised (which you must often pay for), meeting with a lawyer or closing agent, paying your lenders discharge fee and so on.
None of this should stop you from trying to better your rate. At the very least, use competitors rate quotes as a bargaining chip, either with your existing lender or with a broker who doesnt have a mortgage minimum. And if you have loads of other business with your bank or credit union, definitely use that as leverage. There are always other lenders who would welcome all of your banking business with open arms.
Canadian home sales edge higher in March 2019
Home sales via Canadian MLS Systems edged up 0.9% in March 2019 following a sharp drop in February, leaving activity near some of the lowest levels recorded in the last six years.
There was an even split between the number of markets where sales rose from the previous month and those where they waned. Among Canadas larger cities, activity improved in Victoria, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Oakville-Milton and Ottawa, whereas it declined in Greater Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, London and St. Thomas, Sudbury and Quebec City.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity fell 4.6% y-o-y to the weakest level for the month since 2013. It was also almost 12% below the 10-year average for March. That said, in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, sales were more than 20% below their 10-year average for the month. By contrast, activity is running well above-average in Quebec and New Brunswick.
It will be some time before policy measures announced in the recent Federal Budget designed to help first-time homebuyers take effect, said Jason Stephen, CREAs President. In the meantime, many prospective homebuyers remain sidelined by the mortgage stress-test to varying degrees depending on where they are looking to buy. All real estate is local, and REALTORS remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future, added Stephen.
5 ways to help stop the sniffles this allergy season
(NC) Spring has sprung again and while the warmer weather is definitely a welcome change, the return of itchy eyes and a constantly dripping nose may not be.
Its estimated that 25 per cent of Canadians are affected by seasonal allergies, and depending on what you are allergic to, allergy season may not just affect you in the spring but could also linger right up until the first frost in the fall.
This spring, try to avoid the discomfort by getting to the bottom of what is causing your allergies before they start. Here are five tips to help you get ahead of your symptoms:
Check the pollen forecast: Be on top of this as it can change daily and really affect your symptoms. If youre planning on exercising, go to the gym or exercise inside on warm, windy days.
When you are outside, protect yourself: Wear sunglasses or a hat not only do they look good and block the sun, they also help keep pollen off your body and out of your eyes.
Cover up when being active outside: If you are doing outdoor activities like cutting the lawn or gardening, consider wearing a mask or scarf to cover your nose and mouth.
Protect yourself from pollen: We carry a lot of pollen into the home with us. Wash your bedding more frequently during spring, summer and fall; keep your windows closed and remember your pets can track pollen into the house, too.
Find the right product: Speaking to your local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist can be your first line of defense. They can help assess your symptoms and recommend an over-the-counter medication or product. If this isnt enough to kick your symptoms, your pharmacist can write you a prescription for a medication in all provinces excluding British Columbia and Ontario. If your symptoms are more severe, pharmacists in B.C. and Ontario can work with your doctor to make sure you have the right treatment option for you.