2 Jan

New Year Resolutions for Your Home

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

Your finances aren’t the only thing that has room for new resolutions in 2023! Consider these great ideas to make your home feel brand new come January:

Purge Your Space

While most people think about purging when Spring comes around, the end of the year really is no better time. While cleaning your home is common around the holidays, purging takes that a step further. Make it part of your New Year’s resolution to purge your home of all the things you don’t need. It may seem daunting at first, but most of the decisions are already made. Look around your home and really catalogue those items you didn’t use in 2022 (or 2021!) and make it your resolution to finally get rid of them. Go room-by-room to ensure the purging remains manageable and you get the most out of the process!

Donate What You Can

Following up on purging your home, this is a great time to donate old items. While purging, make two piles – one for garbage and one for items to donate. During this time of year, those in need can use your help the most! So, while you’re purging, reconsider tossing out old items and instead donate them to someone who would benefit.

Make Sure You Are Safe & Sound

A clean house is only half the battle – you also need a safe one! While your home is going to look fresh and organized after you’ve finished purging old items from the year, now you will want to put some effort into ensuring safety. Check fire detectors and fireplaces, as well as investigate radon and carbon monoxide also (the hardware for these tests are not particularly expensive). This is a good time to check ventilation as well!

Shrink Your Bills (and Your Carbon Footprint)

Some people think the only way to “go green” these days is buying a hybrid car – but your home is a great place to cut energy too! Everything from switching off the lights when you leave a room, to dialing down your air conditioner and heating, to installing LED bulbs and energy-saving showerheads or toilets, can help you save in the long run and ensure your home is more energy efficient for the New Year!

Plan Out Home Improvement Projects

Heading into 2023 is a super fun time to plan out future home improvement projects! They don’t even have to be on the docket for 2023, but this is a great time to re-evaluate your home for any changes or additions you want to make in the coming years – and to start saving for them now.

Written by DLC Marketing Team

 

26 Dec

5 House Hunting Mistakes to Avoid

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

Buying a home is one of the largest investments you will ever make! In order to make your home hunting experience the best it can be, there are a few key mistakes to avoid and be aware of before you start your journey:

  1. Not Getting Pre-Approved: One of the most important aspects of buying a home is the mortgage application and approval process. No matter what type of home you are looking for, you will need a mortgage. One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to the home-buying process is NOT getting pre-approved prior to starting your search. Getting pre-approved determines the actual home price you can afford as it requires submission and verification of your financial history to ensure the most accurate budget to fit your needs.
  2. Not Setting or Following a Pre-Determined Budget: Another mistake that people make when home-hunting is not setting, or following, a pre-determined budget. It can be tempting to start looking at the top of your budget, or even slightly over, but when you consider closing costs and the long-term financial responsibility of home ownership, it is best to avoid maxing yourself out. Getting pre-approved will help determine what you can afford, as well as making an appointment with your mortgage broker to determine your financial situation and the best options for you now, and in the future.
  3. Not Hiring a Real Estate Agent: Your mortgage broker and your real estate agent are two of the most important members of your homebuying A-Team! In today’s competitive real estate market, it can be very difficult to acquire property without the help of a realtor. One reason is that realtors can provide access to properties that never even make it to the MLS website! They can also gain access to information about homes that may come onto the market, before a listing is even signed. Most importantly though, a realtor understands the ins-and-outs of the home buying process and can tell you how to be successful in your endeavors to purchase a home by guiding you through the process from the first viewing to having your bid accepted.
  4. Focusing Too Much on Aesthetics: While we understand that bad interior design can really affect the perception of the home, you don’t want to be blindsided by it. At the end of the day, aesthetics can always be updated! Giving up the perfect price or location or size for a few aesthetic details (such as paint color, flooring, or even outdated appliances or light fixtures) is one of the biggest mistakes people make! Most homes have incredible bones that only need some minor tweaks to become your perfect space.
  5. Not Thinking Ahead: What you want and need in a house today, could be very different from what you want and need in a house in the future. It is important to be able to look ahead – are you planning on having children? Are your parents getting older and in need of a retirement space? These are things that are good to take into consideration when buying a new home. Buying a home isn’t a permanent decision as you can always sell your home later on if it doesn’t work for you in the future, but it is almost always easier to plan ahead so you can grow with—and not out of—your home whenever possible.

If you are looking to purchase a new home, whether your first space or a step-up from your current living situation, I would be happy to help! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to set up a virtual appointment and discuss your mortgage options, pre-approvals and everything you need to know BEFORE you get started.

 

Written by DLC Marketing Team
19 Dec

Home Security Tips

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

Your home is your biggest asset and it is important to protect it. When it comes to the various areas in your home, some key points for security are your windows, doors and exterior of your home.

We have put together some top tips to help get you started and avoid any unwanted attention!

Securing Windows

  • Reinforce the windows on your first floor with window stops.
  • Make sure you keep your windows locked at night or when you go out.
  • Frost the windows on your garage to avoid wandering eyes.
  • Consider adding window sensors for an added layer of protection.

Securing Doors

  • Change out the locks whenever you move into a new home.
  • Use deadbolts instead of spring-latch locks.
  • Install door reinforcement hardware on any outward facing doors (including sliding doors).
  • Consider installing a video doorbell to help you see who is at the door whether you’re home or out.

Exterior Security

  • Install motion-detector lighting outdoors to shine a light on potential intruders.
  • Keep your shrubbery short to avoid giving intruders hiding places.
  • Install security sensors in any detached buildings, like a garage or pool house.
  • Maintain any trees and shrubbery to ensure a clear view.

Interior Security

  • Install a home security system or a security camera.
  • Password protect your Wi-Fi network.
  • Always leave a few lights on at home, even when you’re out.
  • Secure your smart devices within your home and beyond, including your phone.
Written by DLC Marketing Team
12 Dec

What to Know Before You Sell Your Home

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

So, you are ready to sell your home! Whether you are up or down-sizing, selling your home can feel like a large undertaking – that’s where we come in. To help make this process as smooth as possible, we have put together a list of a few things to know before you sell:

Improve Your Curb Appeal

When it comes to selling your home, first impressions matter. If a potential buyer pulls up to see overgrown weeds, clogged gutters or cracked concrete, they may have a negative first impression of the home, making it harder to impress them once they are inside. Attending to landscaping and any outdoor maintenance or repairs will go a long way in making your home more appealing. A pressure wash and new coat of exterior paint can also do wonders to give your home a facelift!

Get Rid of Clutter

In addition to updating your homes curb appeal prior to sale, you also want to ensure that you are de-cluttering your space. Removing personalized photos, collectables, memorabilia and other Knick knacks will help open things up and allow potential buyers to envision their own belongings in those spaces. While major renovations are not necessary, a fresh coat of paint and managing any minor repairs will also help to ensure the best first impression!

Set a Reasonable Asking Price

One of the most important aspects for the successful sale of your home is to price accordingly. Even though it can be difficult, when selling your home it is vital to avoid emotional decisions or anchoring your listing price to your home’s previous value.

Choose the RIGHT Real Estate Professional

A real estate agent can help you maximize the sale of your home by working to get you the best asking price and help you walk through the sales process. Once you have a realtor in mind, it is best to conduct an interview to ensure they are the right fit for the job and that their interests align with yours.

Understand the Costs

Before you get to the point of reviewing a purchase offer, you should have a reasonable understanding of potential gains (or losses) within your acceptable price range.

To do this, you need to understand the costs of selling your home, which include:

  • Real estate sales commissions
  • Closing fees
  • Title charges
  • Transfer and recording charges
  • Additional settlement charges, if applicable
  • Debt obligations related to existing mortgages

If you’re looking to sell your home and need mortgage advice, please reach out to me at Info@ClarissaYap.com to assist you with your next steps!

 

Written by DLC Marketing Team

 

5 Dec

Facts About Using a Guarantor

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

In the mortgage world, a “guarantor” is someone who guarantees the mortgage on behalf of the mortgage holder in the case that the mortgage holder cannot pay back the loan.

Typically, a guarantor is used in a situation where the buyer has damaged or poor credit history or they lack sufficient income to qualify for the value of the loan. Adding a guarantor can help get these types of files approved as this allows the lender to know they will be paid back should the mortgage holder default.

*It is important to  note that a guarantor is not the same as a co-signer.

Below are some key facts about guarantors and what makes them different from a co-signer:

  1. The guarantor must be a spouse or immediate family member. This is not necessary for a co-signer who could be a friend or distant family member.
  2. A guarantor typically does not have their name on the title of the property but it will be on a mortgage. In the case of a co-signer, the name is typically on both the title of the property AND the loan.
  3. Guarantors cannot qualify for their own mortgage or large loans if they are responsible for guaranteeing a different loan.
  4. There is heightened risk on the side of the guarantor as they are responsible for the entire amount of the loan should the borrower default. In order to qualify, they must meet the requirements for credit check, income, liabilities and assets. Any potential guarantor should seek legal advice before signing for the loan to ensure they understand the contract.

Whether you want to be a guarantor for someone else’s mortgage, or you need one for your own, be sure to contact me at Info@ClarissaYap.com before making any decisions. I’ll be more than happy to help you review your options and explain the terms of the agreement or simply answer any questions you may have.

 

Written by DLC Marketing Team

28 Nov

When Higher Rates Can be Better

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

When it comes to getting a mortgage, there is a common misperception that a low rate is the most important factor. However, while your rate does matter for your mortgage, it is not the only component to consider.

If you’re looking to get a mortgage, these are some other important factors that you should look at beyond simply the interest rate:

Term: The length of time that the options and interest rate you choose are in effect. A shorter term (5 years) allows you to make changes to your mortgage sooner, without penalties.

Amortization: The length of time you agree to take to pay off your mortgage (usually 25 years). This determines how the interest is amortized over time.

Payment Schedule: How often you make your mortgage payments. It can be weekly, every two weeks or once a month and will affect your monthly cashflow differently depending on your choice.

Portability: An option that lets you transfer or switch your mortgage to another home with little or no penalty when you sell your existing home. Mortgage loan insurance can also be transferred to the new home.

Pre-Payment Options: The ability to make extra payments, increase your payments or pay off your mortgage early without incurring a penalty.

Penalty Calculations: Where variable rates typically charge three-months interest, a fixed rate mortgage uses an Interest Rate Differential (IRD) calculation. This can add up quite quickly! In fact, in some cases, penalties for breaking a fixed mortgage can sometimes be two or three times higher than that of a variable-rate.

Variable versus Fixed: For fixed-rate mortgages, the interest rate does not fluctuate over time. For variable-rate mortgages the interest rate fluctuates with market rates, which can be great when rates drop but not so great when rates are rising.

Open versus Closed: An open mortgage is similar to pre-payment options, allowing you to pay off your mortgage at any time with no penalties. A closed mortgage, on the other hand, offers limited to no options to pay off your interest in full despite often having lower interest rates.

When considering your mortgage, the above components all have a part to play in your overall mortgage as well as your homeownership experience.

It is easy to think that a low-interest rate is good enough, sign on the dotted line… but you may be overlooking important options such as portability, which allows you to switch your mortgage to another property should you choose to move. Or pre-payment options, which give you the choice to make additional payments to your mortgage. Without looking deeper at your mortgage, you may find yourself being forced to pay penalties in the future because you wanted to make a payment or a change to your mortgage structure. In some cases, agreeing to a higher rate to have more options and flexibility is better in the long run than the savings received from a lower rate.

Before agreeing to any mortgage, reach out to me at Clarissa.Yap@dominionlending.ca to review the contract, as well as your future goals and any potential concerns you have to ensure that you get the best mortgage product for YOU.

 

Written by DLC Marketing Team
21 Nov

So, You Want To Be A Landlord?

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

Are you dreaming about owning a rental property and making some extra income each month? Before diving into becoming a landlord, there are some things you should know from the advantages and disadvantages to some tips when it comes to buying a rental property.

Advantages of Owning a Rental Property

If you’re looking to purchase a property for rental and become a landlord, you are likely already aware of some of these advantages, but just in case, some benefits to this include:

  • Earning additional regularly monthly income
  • Allows you to continue to build home equity in the property(s) that you rent
  • Ability to deduct certain items from your gross rental income such as mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, property management fees and utilities.

Disadvantages of Owning a Rental Property

As with any investment, there are also some disadvantages to owning a rental property, which are important to consider before you make the leap. These can include:

  • Responsibility of maintaining the rental property and managing your tenant(s)
  • Rental income is taxable and must be included on your income tax. Depending on the value of the extra income, it may push you into a higher tax bracket.
  • Unexpected expenses and issues may crop up over time. It is ideal to budget 2% of the purchase price of your property for potential repairs. You’ll also want to keep some money aside should your tenant leave and you need to cover a few months to find a new tenant.
  • If you choose to sell the rental property in the future, it will be subject to capital gains tax.

What to Know BEFORE You Buy

Before getting started, it is important to calculate the cost of your investment (purchase price and closing costs), as well as consider maintenance amounts (approximately 1% of the property value for the year) and compare to current rental prices to be sure it is a profitable investment before purchasing. In addition, note the following:

  • The minimum down payment required is 20% of the purchase price, and the funds must come from your own savings; you cannot use a gift from someone else. Another option is to utilize existing equity in your primary residence and refinance for the cash to purchase your rental or investment property. Be sure to factor in funds for closing costs, potential repairs and maintenance in your amount.
  • Only a portion of the rental income can be used to qualify and determine how much you can afford to borrow. Some lenders will only allow you to use 50% of the income added to yours, while other lenders may allow up to 80% of the rental income and subtract your expenses.
  • Interest rates usually have a premium when the mortgage is for a rental property versus a mortgage for a home someone intends on living in. The premium can be anywhere from 0.10% to 0.20% on a regular 5-year fixed rate.

Final Tips on Becoming a Landlord

If you’ve decided to move forward with getting a rental property and becoming a landlord, here are some tips to consider:

  • Don’t forget about insurance! Ensure you have proper coverage for a rental situation and to cover any unforeseen events.
  • Educate yourself on what it means to be a landlord in your province from tenant laws to rental responsibilities.
  • Do your research on rental rates and locations before you choose to buy so that you are aware of where the market is at when it comes to potential earning power.
  • Choose the right mortgage for your rental property. Your mortgage broker can help you with this!
  • If you’re looking to run multiple rental properties, consider hiring a property manager who can be a go-between with you and the tenants.

With the right purchase price and rental costs per month, a rental property can be a great way to supplement income. If you’re looking to purchase an investment property, be sure to reach out to me at Clarissa.Yap@dominionlending.ca to discuss your options and understand what is required.

 

Written by DLC Marketing Team

 

14 Nov

5 Tips to Reduce Heating Costs

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

When it comes to the winter season, it can be easy to go overboard when it comes to heating – but there is a better way! With a little awareness – and the right preparation – heating your home this winter won’t have to cost you a fortune. To help you save, we have put together a few helpful tips to reduce heating costs:

  1. Inspect Your Heat Sources – Regardless of whether you rely on a fireplace, gas or baseboard heating, it is always a good idea to have all heat sources inspected for efficiency.
  1. Check Your Fireplace – It is recommended to keep your fireplace damper closed, unless there is a fire burning. Otherwise, it is the same as having your window wide-open during the winter! For those of you with a fireplace you never use, now might be a good time to plug and seal the chimney to keep warm air from escaping.
  1. Manage Your Thermostat – As tempting as it is to turn your heat all the way up in the winter, proper thermostat management will help you save costs in the long run. A thermostat with a timer is a great option to help you save this winter. Turn it on earlier so the room heats up in time for use, instead of cranking the heat when you need to get warm quickly and have it turn off 30 minutes before bed or before leaving the home. If you find you are chilly at night, a safely positioned space heater and closed door is a far more inexpensive choice.
  1. Close The Door – To keep your heating system from working too hard, close doors when rooms are not in use. This prevents heat transfer in and out of vacant rooms, and will ensure the space you’re currently using remains warm and cozy.
  1. Be Mindful of Drafts – Checking for drafts is another important way to reduce heating costs. If you notice any issues, using a weatherstrip or caulking to seal doors and windows is a relatively inexpensive fix that can have a huge savings impact on your heating bill.

Written by DLC Marketing Team
7 Nov

What to Know about Porting Your Mortgage

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

When it comes to getting a mortgage, one of the more overlooked elements is the option to be able to port the loan down the line.

Porting your mortgage is an option within your mortgage agreement, which enables you to move to another property without having to lose your existing interest rate, mortgage balance and term. Thereby allowing you to move or ‘port’ your mortgage over to the new home. Plus, the ability to port also saves you money by avoiding early discharge penalties should you move partway through your term.

Typically, portability options are offered on fixed-rate mortgages. Lenders often use a “blended” system where your current mortgage rate stays the same on the mortgage amount ported over to the new property and the new balance is calculated using the current interest rate. When it comes to variable-rate mortgages, you may not have the same option. However, when breaking a variable-rate mortgage, you would only be faced with a three-month interest penalty charge. While this can range up to $4,000, it is much lower than the average penalty to break a fixed mortgage. In addition, there are cases where you can be reimbursed the fee with your new mortgage.

If you already have the existing option to port your mortgage, or are considering it for your next mortgage cycle, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Timeframe: Some portability options require the sale and purchase to occur on the same day. Other lenders offer a week to do this, some a month, and others up to three months.
  2. Terms: Keep in mind, some lenders don’t allow a changed term or might force you into a longer term as part of agreeing to port you mortgage.
  3. Penalty Reimbursements: Some lenders may reimburse your entire penalty, whether you are a fixed or variable borrower, if you simply get a new mortgage with the same lender – replacing the one being discharged. Additionally, some lenders will even allow you to move into a brand-new term of your choice and start fresh. Keep in mind, there can be cases where it’s better to pay a penalty at the time of selling and get into a new term at a brand-new rate that could save back your penalty over the course of the new term.

To get all the details about mortgage portability and find out if you have this option (or the potential penalties if you don’t), contact me today for expert advice and a helping hand throughout your mortgage journey!

Written by DLC Marketing Team
31 Oct

Getting a Mortgage After Bankruptcy

General

Posted by: Clarissa Yap

If you have had to declare bankruptcy, you may be wondering what is next.

Bankruptcy is not a financial death sentence. In fact, there are a few things you can do after declaring bankruptcy to help reset your financial status and get a mortgage in the future.

While there is no wait requirement to apply for a mortgage after bankruptcy, it is important to allow your credit time to heal in order to ensure approval.

The first step to rebuilding your credit is getting a secured credit card. If you are able to show that you are responsible with this credit card by paying your balance in full each month and not overspending, it will help to improve your credit score.

Once you’ve re-established your credit, you can apply for a mortgage. What type of mortgage you can apply for, and whether or not you qualify, will depend on a few factors, such as: how long ago you declared bankruptcy, the size of your down payment, your total debt-to-service ratio (how much debt you are taking on compared to your total income) and your loan-to-value ratio (loan value versus the property value).

Depending on this, you will have three options for your future mortgage loan:

Traditional or Prime-Insured Mortgage

This is a traditional mortgage, which will typically offer the best interest rates. To apply for this type of mortgage after bankruptcy the following requirements apply:

  • Your bankruptcy was 2 years, 1 day previous
  • You have one-year of re-established credit on two credit items (credit card, car lease, loan).
  • You have a minimum down payment of 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% for any additional amount over that
    • You have mortgage insurance – required for all down payments under 20%
  • You have a total debt-to-service ratio of 44% maximum
  • Your loan-to-value ratio is 95% minimum

Subprime Mortgage

This type of mortgage falls between a traditional and private mortgage, meaning you qualify for more than private but not enough for a traditional loan. To apply for this type of mortgage:

  • Your bankruptcy was 3 – 12 months prior
  • You have a total debt-to-service ratio of 50% maximum
  • Your loan-to-value ratio is 85% minimum

Private Mortgage

If you don’t qualify for a traditional or subprime mortgage, you have the option of looking into a private mortgage. Typically, your interest rate will be higher on a private mortgage but there is no waiting period after bankruptcy and the requirements are as follows:

  • You have a down payment of 15% of the purchase price
  • You have obtained a full appraisal
  • You have paid a lender commitment fee – typically 1% of the mortgage value
  • Your loan-to-value ratio is 80% minimum

If you have previously declared bankruptcy and are now looking to start over and apply for a mortgage, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for expert advice and to review your options today!

Written by DLC Marketing Team