1. What mortgage term is best for me?
- Selecting the mortgage term that’s right for you can be a challenging proposition for even the savviest of homebuyers, as terms typically range from six months up to 10 years. The first consideration when comparing various mortgage terms is to understand that a longer term generally means a higher corresponding interest rate. And, a shorter term generally means a lower corresponding interest rate. While this generalization may lead you to believe that a shorter term is always the preferred option, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes there are other factors – either in the financial markets or in your own life – that you’ll also have to take into consideration when selecting the length of your mortgage term. If paying your mortgage each month places you close to the financial edge of your comfort zone, you may want to opt for a longer mortgage term, such as five or 10 years, so that you can ensure that you’ll be able to afford your mortgage payments should interest rates increase. By the end of a five- or 10-year mortgage term, most buyers are in a better financial situation, have a lower outstanding principal balance and, should interest rates have risen throughout the course of your term, you’ll be able to afford higher mortgage payments.
2. Is my mortgage portable?
- Fixed-rate products usually have a portability option. 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 rate. With variable-rate mortgages, however, porting is usually not available. This means that when breaking your existing mortgage, a three-month interest penalty will be charged. This charge may or may not be reimbursed with your new mortgage. While porting typically ensures no penalty will be charged when you sell your existing property and buy a new one, it’s best to check with your mortgage broker for specific conditions. Some lenders allow you to port your mortgage, but your sale and purchase have to happen on the same day, while others offer extended periods.
3. If I want to move before my mortgage term is up, what are my options?
- The answer to this question often depends on your specific lender and what type of mortgage you have. While fixed mortgages are often portable, variable are not. Some lenders allow you to port your mortgage, but your sale and purchase have to happen on the same day, while others offer extended periods. As long as there’s not too much time between the sale of your existing home and the purchase of the new home, as a rule of thumb most lenders will allow you to port the mortgage. In other words, you keep your existing mortgage and add the extra funds you need to buy the new house on top. The interest rate is a blend between your existing mortgage rate and the current rate at the time you require the extra money.
4. What steps can I take to help ensure I don’t become a victim of title or mortgage fraud?
- The best way to prevent fraud is to be aware of how it’s committed. Following are some red flags for mortgage fraud: someone offers you money to use your name and credit information to obtain a mortgage; you’re encouraged to include false information on a mortgage application; you’re asked to leave signature lines or other important areas of your mortgage application blank; the seller or investment advisor discourages you from seeing or inspecting the property you will be purchasing; or the seller or developer rebates you money on closing, and you don’t disclose this to your lending institution. Sadly, the only red flag for title fraud occurs when your mortgage mysteriously goes into default and the lender begins foreclosure proceedings. Even worse, as the homeowner, you’re the one hurt by title fraud, rather than the lender, as is often the case with mortgage fraud. Unlike with mortgage fraud, during title fraud, you haven’t been approached or offered anything – this is a form of identity theft. Following are ways you can protect yourself from title fraud: always view the property you’re purchasing in person; check listings in the community where the property is located – compare features, size and location to establish if the asking price seems reasonable; make sure your representative is a licensed real estate agent; beware of a real estate agent or mortgage broker who has a financial interest in the transaction; ask for a copy of the land title or go to a registry office and request a historical title search; in the offer to purchase, include the option to have the property appraised by a designated or accredited appraiser; insist on a home inspection to guard against buying a home that has been cosmetically renovated or formerly used as a grow house or meth lab; ask to see receipts for recent renovations; when you make a deposit, ensure your money is protected by being held “in trust”; and consider the purchase of title insurance.
5. How do I ensure I get the best mortgage product and rate upon renewal at the end of my term?
- The best way to ensure you receive the best mortgage product and rate at renewal is to enlist your mortgage broker once again to get the lenders competing for your business just like they did when you negotiated your last mortgage. A lot can change over a single mortgage term, and you can miss out on a lot of savings and options if you simply sign a renewal with your existing lender without consulting your mortgage broker.