Welcome to the October issue of my monthly newsletter!
This month’s edition looks at same-lender renewal rates and improving your credit score. Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback regarding anything outlined below.
Thanks again for your continued support and referrals!
Mortgage Renewals with the same lender are on the rise, but should you just sign on the dotted line? Your mortgage broker has answers
If you’re in a mortgage that’s coming up for renewal in the coming months and you’re considering just staying with your current lender, you wouldn’t be alone.
According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Residential Mortgage Industry Report released in the summer, in 2018, the number of mortgage renewals with the same lender increased by 16 per cent over the previous year.
The report suggested one of the factors that may have contributed to large increases in loan renewals with the same institution are the tighter approval criteria. In other words, people are worried they may not qualify for a new mortgage if they switch lenders, so they’re staying put.
You’ll remember in the fall of 2017, OSFI, (the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions) the agency that regulates the financial industry, announced tighter rules on mortgages. The biggest change related to uninsured mortgages, or homebuyers with 20 per cent or more for a down payment. These people are now required to go through a “stress test” or qualify using a minimum qualifying rate.
The changes came a year after a similar stress test was introduced for insured mortgages.
If the tighter mortgage rules still have you stressed as you face a mortgage renewal, the CMHC report noted the approval rate for same lender renewals remained stable at 99 per cent. Renewals are not specifically subject to the new stress test and are more likely to meet current lender criteria, the reported noted.
So, does that mean you should just automatically renew your mortgage with the same lender when your term is up? Not necessarily. You need to reach out to a mortgage professional to get the best advice.
For starters, most lenders, especially the big banks, will send you a renewal letter when there’s about three months left on the term. Sometimes that letter could come with six months left. Typically, the lender will offer you a rate at that time and all you’ll have to do is sign at the bottom line to roll over your mortgage.
But beware, lenders often offer a higher rate than a new client because they’re hoping the ease of renewal will keep you from seeking out a new lender and lower rate.
In some cases, it may be best to just sign and roll over your mortgage. There are a few things to consider. If you decide to change lenders, you’ll basically have to go through an approval process again. That entails getting all your documents, lawyer’s fees and appraisals.
You’ll have to ask yourself, is it worth the effort to save a few basis points off your rate, or a few hundred dollars over a term to make the switch?
For some it won’t be. But, if a switch can lead to saving thousands of dollars, it would certainly be something to consider. While everyone’s situation is different, the larger the mortgage, the bigger the savings will be if you can find a lower rate.
Often, homeowners will just use a bank their parents recommend for their first mortgage. But they might find themselves not happy with the service or terms of the mortgage and may just want to switch to a different lender as the mortgage comes up for renewal.
If that’s a situation you find yourself in, you have options, and a mortgage broker can help you make the best decision.
Improving your credit score isn’t as hard as you think
If you’re credit challenged but want to get into the housing market, it can be a tough road to hoe. But improving your credit to a point where a lender will give you a chance, is very doable.
First, I won’t bore you with the detailed minutiae of credit scores. Basically, what you need to know is a score above 680 puts you in a good position to get financing, while below will make it tough and improvement is needed.
Your credit score tells lenders some basic stuff about your credit: How long you’ve had credit, your ability to pay back that credit and how much you owe. And so your credit score is affected by how much debt you’re carrying in regards to limit, how many cards or tradelines you have and your history of repayment.
If you’re a young person and new to the world of credit, consider the 2-2-2 rule to help build up your credit. Lenders want to see two forms or revolving credit, like credit cards, with limits no less than $2,000 and a clean history of payment for two years. It’s also good to note, a great credit score will also include keeping a balance on all those cards at any given time below 30 per cent of the limit.
To ensure your score stays in playoff form, make sure to pay off any collections, like parking tickets, and correct any old or incorrect reporting on your credit score by contacting Equifax to have it removed. Some people also forget their credit cards have an annual fee and fail to pay them off too.
This cannot be stressed enough, if you want to keep or attain a good credit score, you have to pay your credit cards or tradelines on time regardless of whether you owe $1 or $1 million.
There is a tendency when things get really bad to consider declaring bankruptcy or a consumer proposal. A consumer proposal is a formal, legally binding process to pay creditors a percentage of what is owed to them.
You really want to avoid these two options. Instead, there are companies out there that will perform the same function and negotiate your debts, but it won’t impact your credit or carry the stigma of bankruptcy or a consumer proposal.
Lastly, if you already own a home and have some equity, but you’re still drowning in credit debt, consider refinancing your mortgage. Sure, you might not get the great rate you have now or you might get dinged for breaking your mortgage early, but using the equity in your home to get rid of high interest credit payments could keep more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
Seal Out the Cold:
In winter, reduce the heat lost from your home or workplace by getting rid of drafts around windows, doors, baseboards and outside wall openings. Windows can account for a large part of heat loss in a building. Upgrade them if they are too old. Window insulators can help keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. Insulate power outlets and other sockets using foam pads – this is really important if the walls are not properly insulated.
DID YOU KNOW...
When you’re buying your first house, negotiating for the mortgage can seem like the least fun and most complicated part of the process. But having no experience making one of life’s biggest purchases doesn’t mean you’re destined to pay the bank’s listed rate. I will work on your behalf with multiple lenders to ensure you receive the best mortgage product and rate catered to your unique needs – whether it’s your first or fifth mortgage.