25 Jul

Financial Advice that Never Gets Old


Posted by: Clarissa Yap

It’s difficult to find timeless advice in the ever-changing world of personal finance but these five are about as close as you can get.

1. Start small and start early with investing
Only around 5% of Canadians under 25 have a TFSA, which means 95% have already missed out on 7 years of compounded returns. Starting small could be as little as $100 month… and starting early means now! Invest what you can and don’t think a $100 monthly will never amount to anything.

Investing $100 month at 5% for 47 years (age 18 to 65) will give you $68,754 more than someone who did the same starting from age 25. Time really is money when it comes to compounded returns, so get started as soon as possible.

2. Make more or spend less?
Our advice is to do both, but there are limits on how much income you can generate and cutting back on expenses has a bigger impact on your bottom line. If you’re lucky, you may find some expenses you could easily do without, like that lightly used gym membership or seldom watched 200-channel cable package.

A part-time job or side hustle isn’t a bad idea, but you will spend more time working and less time enjoying life. Don’t forget that any extra income is fully taxable — you might need to earn $10 in order to get the same result as a $7 spending cut.

3. Re-evaluate your wants and needs.
A 1200 sq ft bungalow was the standard for most families in the early 1970’s. These days, houses are now over 2000 square feet on average and come with plenty of high-end finishes. Lifestyle creep is not limited to our housing needs and now influences what we drive, how often we eat out, and where we go for vacation. Being able to satisfy your wants later in life will only come from making smart spending decisions on your needs earlier in life and freeing up the cash to start saving and investing.

4. Understand credit and debt.
131 months! That’s how long it takes to pay off a $1000 credit balance paying the minimum amount — and it will cost you almost $1000 more in interest charges! Many people carry a credit card balance and are blissfully unaware of just how much it is costing them each month. Car loans are another area where the financing costs add up to a lot more than most people realize.

The key is to be knowledgeable about your debt. Track what you owe and how much that debt is costing you as well as any alternatives that may lower that cost. For example, refinancing your mortgage or drawing on home equity to pay off higher interest loans or credit cards.

5. Get financially literate.
Managing your money has become more difficult as we have a lot more spending, saving, and investing options, but we also have access to a lot more information and tools to help us. For example, diving into the real impact of those investment fees on your mutual funds (it’s a lot!) can easily be investigated online in just a few minutes.

Written by DLC Marketing Team
18 Jul

3 Advantages of a Pre-Approval


Posted by: Clarissa Yap

While getting pre-qualified can give you a ballpark estimate on what you can afford, getting pre-approved is where the real magic happens.

Mortgage pre-approval means that a lender has stated (in writing) that you do qualify for a mortgage and what amount, based on submitted documentation of your current income and credit history.

A pre-approval usually specifies a term, interest rate and mortgage amount and is typically valid for a brief period of time, assuming various conditions are met.

There are three benefits to pre-approval including:

1. It confirms the maximum amount you can afford to spend

Not only does getting pre-approved make the search easier for you, but helps your real estate agent find the best home in your price range. Temptation will always be to start looking at the very top of your budget, but it is important to remember that there will be fees, such as mandatory closing costs, which can range from 1 to 4% of the purchase price. Factoring these into your maximum budget can help you narrow down a home that is entirely affordable and ensure future financial stability and security.

2. It can secure you an interest rate for 90-120 days while you shop for your new home

Getting pre-approved doesn’t commit you to a single lender, but it does guarantee the rate offered to you will be locked in from 90 to 120 days which helps if interest rates rise while you are still shopping. If interest rates actually decrease, you would still be offered the lower rate. Another benefit to pre-approval is that, when it comes time to purchase, pre-approval lets the seller know that securing financing should not be an issue. This is extremely beneficial in competitive markets where lots of offers may be coming in.

3. It lets the seller know that securing financing should not be an issue

Lastly, pre-approval lets the seller know that you are able to make the purchase. This can be very helpful in competitive markets where lots of offers may be coming in, as it helps to inform the seller that you’re a sure thing versus other potential bidders who may not have pre-approval.

Keep in mind, once you get your pre-approval, you will want to make sure not to jeopardize it. Until your mortgage application and sale is completed, be sure you don’t quit or change jobs, buy a new car or trade up, transfer large sums of money between bank accounts, leave your bills unpaid or open up new credit cards. You do not want your financial or employment details to change at all until you have closed on the new mortgage.

If you have any questions or want to get your pre-approval started today, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional!

Written by DLC Marketing Team
11 Jul

Simple Home Technology Upgrades


Posted by: Clarissa Yap

It’s an excellent time to be alive if you’re an early adopter of technology; it’s slightly less excellent if you’re a well-meaning-but-late-anyway adopter (like myself). The breakneck pace of technological innovation can easily leave you behind the curve, with new startups, apps, and devices appearing on an almost daily basis. Trying to catch up to the pack can be daunting and expensive even if you’re willing to get with the times. On the other hand, if you’re not interested in having the newest, shiniest toys, you’re likely wondering—what’s the point anyway?

The good news is: you’re not at a disadvantage if you’re late to the tech-savvy party. There are quick, reasonably-priced steps you can take to bring your home a step closer to the future. Here are four upgrades you can acquire right away, in order of practicality and ease of integration.


Oh yes, we’re starting off with real cutting-edge stuff here: clearly, combination power outlets are the most electrifying innovation to hit the market in recent years! I know this is a pretty tame entry point, but I’d argue the practicality makes up for the lack of sizzle. If you’ve owned an electronic device in the past twenty years, you likely have firsthand knowledge of the annoyances that come with charging the things. Not only do you need to have the right cable, you also need an appropriate adaptor, and all that comes before finding a free (and conveniently located) power outlet to plug into.

The USB (Universal Serial Bus) standard for connections, communication, and power supplies has been around and in use worldwide since 1996. Some companies do their own thing with proprietary cables just because they can, but there are almost no brands that bypass the USB connector altogether. Given their ubiquity, it was only a matter of time before they appeared on power outlets themselves. In one neat package, wall outlets with USB charging ports have solved the adaptor and free socket issue. You still need a compatible cable, but those are a lot easier to come by and less annoying to cart around. Plus, dedicated USB ports mean you aren’t required to unplug other devices, which is a big plus when you have multiple users who all need a charge.

These combo outlets go for as low as $30 per piece, and are fairly easy to install even with no experience!


There’s a good chance that either you or someone you live with talks to their phone/watch/tv/magic speaker box thing already. A large majority of the technologically-inclined have embraced Alexa, Google, Siri, or Cortana, and are happily integrating them into their homes. Basic smart home setups are getting more affordable by the minute, and you likely own at least three of the foundational pieces already (smartphone, digital assistant, smart TV).

Which brings us to upgrade option number two: “smart” appliances. If you’re already on your way to having a connected home, why not consider upgrading to appliances with smart home functionality? At best, you can enjoy a greater degree of convenience and control; at worst, you’ll have a feature that you can safely ignore if you so choose. The fact is, smart functionality will likely become standard issue sooner or later. Even big-ticket appliances like fridges, dishwashers, washing machines have begun to include wifi-connectivity and apps that let you monitor and control how they operate remotely.

Digital assistants are here to stay, so why go out of your way to avoid them? While compatibility isn’t generally an issue, certain appliances work best when paired with specific assistants, so we recommend getting ahead of the problem and planning for the ecosystem you might like to have.

Obviously, we’re not saying you should toss out all your stuff right this second just to get with the times. Rather: whenever you reach a natural point for upgrading in the home renovation or sales process, give some careful thought to acquiring a smart appliance.


Smart locks, like the smart appliances mentioned above, are also part of the Internet of Things, but they get their own category because of how useful they are.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who have lost their keys at least once, and liars. We’re all familiar with timeless questions like “Where on earth are my keys?” and “Uh oh, did I lock the door?”. Traditionally, this meant upending your house until you find them in your pocket or suffering in mild annoyance till you get back home. However, the modern answer is: who cares? You have a smart lock!

What exactly is a smart lock? It’s an evolution of the traditional mechanical lock, using electronics to allow for keyless entry. Smart locks are easy to install, and either replace or upgrade the existing locking devices on your doors. Once that’s done, you can wirelessly unlock your door with a smartphone, combination code or key fob.

To be clear: while there are some security benefits to using smart locks (such as logs that list every time your door was opened, etc.), they’re not necessarily more secure than a standard lock. Really, you’d be upgrading for the convenience they provide, and an improvement to your quality of life. Features like remotely locking or unlocking your door, temporary access codes for guests and digital assistant integration all make the switch worthwhile. Moreover, almost all smart locks can still be unlocked with a traditional key as a failsafe (in case of power outages or depleted batteries).

It’s a small change for your home and the closest thing we have to futuristic Star Trek doors that swoosh open. It’s hard to find a downside here!


For those of you trying to be more eco-friendly, there’s a simple argument to be made for installing electric vehicle chargers in your home: pretty soon, you’re going to need one. While Tesla may have shot the idea of electric cars into the mainstream, plenty of car manufacturers read the writing on the wall and developed their own electric cars. It’s no longer a question of if electric will replace internal combustion engines, but when. Fossil fuels are a finite supply, and a new wave of ecological awareness will likely move the world away from dependence on them. The future of automotive technology is electric, and it’s easier than ever to join the revolution.

Electric vehicles (EVs) rely on high-powered chargers to refuel and are consequently most common among people living in or very close to major cities. Drivers have to plan around access to chargers when they’re away from home, although we’re trending towards increasing EV charger infrastructure. However, until these charging stations become as common as (or replace) conventional gas stations, folks will still rely heavily on their own homes to get a full charge for day-to-day use.

So how does this fit it into the home upgrade conversation? Admittedly this is the most speculative of our recommendations, but here’s the gist of it: if we assume either you or the people you know are soon going to be driving electric vehicles, it makes sense to start planning for the means to support them. Powerful EV chargers for the home aren’t exorbitantly expensive at the moment, are reasonably straightforward to install, and will serve as a source of convenience or potential income.

Charger systems are currently available in plug-and-play or integrated models, which differ in terms of price, portability, and power. Plug-and-play chargers are less expensive, very easy to install (you literally just plug them in), and can move with you if you change homes. Integrated chargers offer faster and more powerful charging, but are fixed once installed and come with a higher price tag. In either case, many provinces offer hundreds of dollars in incentives to folks purchasing EV chargers, which makes the price range a lot more palatable!


Fortunately for those of us frantically running behind the curve, we’re still a good number of years away from having truly crazy things like robot assistants/housekeepers that will need their own docking cradles or flying cars. Our recommendations above aren’t from the bleeding edge of tech development, but they don’t need to be. They’re practical, accessible upgrades that could improve your life with minimal intrusiveness. Though we’re looking ahead to the future, there’s no time like the present for the technologically-tardy!

Written by DLC Marketing Team
4 Jul

Purchase Plus Improvements Mortgage


Posted by: Clarissa Yap

When it comes to shopping for your perfect home, it can be hard to find the exact one ready to go! If you are looking into a home that requires improvements, there is a mortgage product known as Purchase Plus Improvements (PPI). This type of mortgage is available to assist buyers with making simple upgrades, not conduct a major renovation where structural modifications are made. Simple renovations include paint, flooring, windows, hot-water tank, new furnace, kitchen updates, bathroom updates, new roof, basement finishing, and more.

Depending on whether you have a conventional or high-ratio mortgage, if it is insured or uninsurable, and which insurer you use, the Purchase Plus Improvements (PPI) product can allow you to borrow between 10% and 20% of the initial property value for renovations. Additional insight on how the qualifying structure works can be found in the table below:

Type Requirement
Uninsurable $40,000 or 10% of the “initial” value of the property, whichever is less
CMHC Insurable Can exceed $40,000 but not 10% of the “as improved” value of the property.
Sagen™/Canada Guaranty Insurable Can be 20% of the “initial” value of the property but the improvement amount cannot exceed $40,000

The main difference between a regular mortgage and a purchase plus home improvements program is the need for quotes. As part of the verification process, your mortgage professional and the lender will need to see a quote for the work that is planned for the improvements. The quotes will provide us with the cost and plan details required to secure the final approval.

Working with your realtor, your mortgage professional will help guide you through the final approval process, which works as follows:

  1. Find a home
  2. Apply and get approved for a Purchase Plus Improvements mortgage
  3. Get firm quotes on the improvements
  4. Get an appraisal for the estimated as-is and as-improved value of the property.
    • This will be ordered by your lender or broker and quotes are typically reviewed by the appraiser.
    • Note: If you are putting less than 20% down payment on the purchase, often only a final inspection is required to confirm the work on the quotes has, in fact, been done.
  1. Close the purchase
  2. Depending on your down payment, the lender may provide up to:
    • 80% of the as-improved value, less the cost of improvements (if on an uninsured mortgage)
    • 95% of the as-improved value, less the cost of improvements (if on a default-insured mortgage)
  3. Start the improvements
    • The initial advance of funds will be up to 95% of the approved value of the property minus the improvements. You will usually have to pay a portion of the improvements upfront via savings, credit card, personal line of credit, parental funds, etc.
  4. Notify the lender when the project is complete
    • At this point, an inspector/appraiser will confirm the work has been completed to the specifications agreed by the lender
    • Once the lender verifies the inspection report, the balance of funds is advanced.

If you have questions about how a Purchase Plus Improvements Mortgage could work for you or are considering taking this route for your next home, please do not hesitate to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional for expert advice!

Written by DLC Marketing Team