Buying Your First Home in 2017? – 7 Steps to Maximize Your RRSP Down Payment

General Tim Hill, MBA 28 Feb

 Are you thinking of buying your first home in 2017? If yes, contributing to your RRSP before the March 31 contribution deadline can help you increase your funds available for your purchase. Follow the 7 steps below so you can maximize your available funds to purchase your first home.

Step 1: Check to see if you fit all the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) requirements at If you do continue to the next step.

Step 2: Consult with your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker to review your credit and plan ahead so you are mortgage ready. Your broker will help you figure out what you qualify for as well as help you navigate all the first-time home buyer programs such as the new BC Home Owners Mortgage and Equity Program.

Step 3: Contribute to your RRSP to top it up to $25,000 (check your contribution room to confirm the maximum you can contribute) for each buyer. Contribute to the highest income earners RRSP first to maximize your tax refund. If you don’t have the cash to contribute, then it may be beneficial to borrow funds to contribute to your RRSP but talk to your mortgage broker first to ensure your credit is in line to do so.

Step 4: Do your taxes as soon as possible so you can get your tax refund in your bank account.

Step 5: If you didn’t maximize your RRSP to $25,000 put your tax refund into your RRSP (highest income earner first) to help reduce your taxes next year.

Step 6: Now that your funds are in your accounts review your options with your mortgage broker and let your RRSP contributions stay in your account for 90 days for the withdrawal to qualify under the HBP.

Step 7: Begin searching for your first home. Be sure to plan the closing date to be after the minimum 90 days required for the funds to be in your RRSP and allow time for funds to transfer out of your account.

Important 2017 Dates:

March 1 – the 2016 RRSP Contribution Deadline

February 20 – the first day you can file your 2016 income taxes

May 1 – the deadline to file your taxes if you are not self-employed

April 30 – all income taxes must be paid to CRA by all tax payers

June 15 – the deadline to file if you are self-employed

Good to Knows about the Home Buyers’ Plan:

  • Funds withdrawn from your RRSP before they have been in your account for 90 days are not eligible under the HBP and income tax will be withheld from the withdrawal
  • You can use your RRSP withdrawal for anything from you down payment, paying off debts, moving costs and more as long as you’re in a contract to purchase your first home
  • You must repay the withdrawal amount over 15 years starting the year following your withdrawal or pay tax on 1/15th of the amount withdrawn in tax years you do not pay it back.

Your Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional will help you plan to buy your first home. It’s never too early to start your mortgage application. Contact us today to get started!

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

Optimism For Future First Time Homebuyers

General Tim Hill, MBA 21 Feb

December 15th, the B.C. Provincial Government shared that it will begin offering financial assistance to B.C. first-time home buyers in regards to their down payment. They estimate that 42,000 new first-time home buyers will take advantage of this program over the next three years.

What the B.C. Government Will Provide: 

– A matched loan only to be used as funds for making a down payment on an eligible home

– Maximum available funds will be $37,500 or 5% of a home’s purchase price

-Maximum 25 years to repay

– 5 years of no required payments (includes no principal payments and no interest payments)

– This loan will be registered as a second mortgage on the newly purchased home

When This Program Begins:

– January 16th, 2017 applications will be accepted and this program expires March 31, 2020

To Qualify for This Program:

– Must reside in the home – Must be a First-Time Home Buyer (click here to see those qualifications)

– Property must remain principal residence for 5 years

– Property must cost less than $750,000 and not be used as a recreational or rental property

– Have resided in BC for at least 1 year

– Have a combined gross income of less than $150,000

– Have saved half the minimum down payment (2.5% of property’s purchase price)

– Have been pre-approved for a 1st mortgage before applying

Privileges of This Program:

– No prepayment fees (make lump sum payments or pay entire debt early at any time)

– No interest will begin accumulating until after the first 5 years have expired


Without this program, if you wanted to buy a $500,000 home for example, you would need a minimum down payment of $25,000 (5%) plus 1.5% for closing costs. With this program, the government will match a first-time home buyer’s down payment, up to 5% of the property’s value. So your $25,000 down payment can now be $12,500 because the government will lend you the remaining $12,500 (you still need 1.5% for closing costs).

If you originally wanted to make a 20% down payment and avoid insurance premiums, you can now do this with 15% of your own money down as the government will lend you the remaining 5%.

It is unclear the significance this program will have on housing prices and how it will affect demand here in BC- only time will tell us that. For right now though, future first-time home buyers can begin to feel very optimistic as the BC government has opened a door of opportunities for them, 3 months after CMHC’s news from October 2016 where they announced changes to qualifying requirements- affecting the majority of future first-time home buyers.

Below is a chart showing the steps a first-time home buyer must complete in order to successfully use this program in their future purchase. In order to become pre-approved with a lender, please contact your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional so we can begin that process (which is free).

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

Reading This Could Save You Thousands of Dollars!! (AKA How to renew your mortgage in 5 easy steps)

General Tim Hill, MBA 20 Feb

What is a mortgage renewal you ask?

Each mortgage has a set term which can vary from 1-10 years. Just before the end of your term you will receive an offer from your current lender and you have 3 options:

  1. Sign and send back as is.
  2. Check the market to make sure you are getting the best rate and renegotiate with your current lender
  3. Move the mortgage to a new lender.

Option 1 is not a very good idea in my opinion. The onus is on you to make sure you are being offered the best rate. Banks are a business like any other and they are seeking to make the highest profits they are able as to keep their shareholders happy. There is nothing wrong with that. That does mean however that you as a savvy consumer should take a few minutes to ensure you are being offered the best possible rate you can get.

Think of it as the sticker price on a vehicle at a dealership. The rate you are being offered is a starting point for discussion, not the final price. Let’s look at an example:

  • Mortgage of $300,000 with an amortization of 25 years.
  • Your offer is for 3.19% for a 5 year fixed = $1449.14/month and you will owe $257,353.34 at the end of the term
  • Best rate is 2.59% for a 5 year fixed = $1357.38/month and you will owe $254,372.59 at the end of the term

You would pay $91.76 less each month or $5505.60 over all 60 months and still owe $2,980.75 less.

So you need to ask yourself if you are OK handing that money over to the mortgage provider or if you would prefer to keep it yourself and I am pretty sure I know what your answer will be.

So here are the steps I mentioned to save yourself all that money.

  1. Receive the offer from the mortgage lender and actually look at ASAP so that you have enough time to make an informed decision.
  2. Research via the internet and phone calls to find out what the best rate even is.
  3. Phone your current lender and negotiate! OK, you are going to have to get downright assertive and that may be uncomfortable but when you compare your comfort to the thousands of dollars you could save, you will see that it’s worth it.
  4. If said lender will not offer you the rate then move the mortgage. You will have to provide paperwork and complete the application but if you keep in mind the example from above then I repeat, it’s worth it.
  5. Take a look at your budget and see if you can increase the payments to decrease the mortgage and save yourself even more as the overall interest costs decrease.

Keep in mind when that renewal notice arrives that you literally have the power to save yourself money and you are not obligated to accept the first offer which is presented to you and I truly hope you do not. If you need some more information, please do not hesitate to contact your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

What You Need To Know About No Frills Mortgages

Mortgage Tips Tim Hill, MBA 15 Feb

You’ve been offered an amazing rate and you just can’t believe how much you will save. You’re super excited and getting ready to go sign off on the papers when you randomly run into a mortgage broker and mention the deal you scored. The broker says to you that’s an awesome rate, any idea what the penalty calculation is if you need to refinance in the future?. Wait what…isn’t it the same as the last mortgage I had?

Maybe but maybe not. There are a lot of new mortgage products available on the market that offer lower rates while giving up other benefits. These mortgage options may have higher penalties, lower prepayment privileges or even worse they could have a bone fide sale clause.

I don’t blame a consumer for always thinking rate first. The industry as a whole is guilty of shoving rates in our face anytime they possibly can. It’s the easiest part of a mortgage to compare and easiest to advertise. But definitely not the most important part.

Being aware of all the terms and conditions is the key to finding your best mortgage option. You should be aware that there are mortgages that may come with one or more of the following terms:

* Sales only clause, meaning you may not be able to refinance your mortgage until your term is up

* A higher set pay out penalty. Meaning you may have to pay more than the standard 3 months interest or Interest Rate Differential penalty.

* Smaller prepayment options

* and more!

Always ask these 5 Questions when offered a mortgage:

1. How is the pay out penalty calculated if I break the mortgage?

2. Can I refinance with another lender before my term is up?

3. Is the mortgage registered as a Standard or Collateral charge on my land title?

4. What are my prepayment privileges?

5. Is the mortgage portable and assumable?

Bottom line is that knowing all the fine print is essential in making an educated mortgage decision. We never know what is going to happen in life and saving a little bit on your mortgage rate may cost you more in the long run.

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

Remediated Grow-Op: A Good Investment?

General Tim Hill, MBA 14 Feb

It is forever in discussion in the Lower Mainland – is a former grow-op home a good investment? Prices are often much lower than similar properties so at first glance it seems so. But the stigma will follow the property in perpetuity, unless it’s razed to the studs and rebuilt. If it’s been remediated that means it’s perfectly fine now, right? Not to the banks.

This is an era where lenders are being very conservative with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) clamping down on policies. Prior to the sweeping mortgage rule changes that came into effect in July 2012 there were at least a dozen lenders with products for remediated grow-ops. That list has now been whittled down to about 5 credit unions in BC and a handful of private lenders.

What you can expect from these offerings is that no matter how much you can put down or equity you have the credit unions are requiring mortgage insurance (CMHC or Genworth) so you will have the premium added to your mortgage and you can expect a 0.50-1.00% bonus added to the interest rate – not to mention an additional lender fee on top of all that in some cases.

While the price of that home may be much lower than comparable properties without the stigma it can cost you in other ways.

Lenders are being conservative with a view to the re-sale marketability factor. If the stigma will stay with that home forever, will there be many people willing to buy it if you decide to sell – or if that bank needs to foreclose and sell the house itself. Not to mention, with so few and costly financing options how many potential buyers will brave that process.

Buyers that acquired remediated grow-ops prior to July 2012 who are now coming up for renewal are finding themselves with very few options. A recent client was hoping to secure a better rate, consolidate some credit debt and lower their payments was forced to simply renew with their existing lender at a higher rate than the rest of the market and it was just too expensive to tap into his equity.

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

Things To Consider When Buying A Foreclosure

General Tim Hill, MBA 7 Feb

ForeclosureWhen bad things happen to good people sometimes the reality is they just can’t keep up with their mortgage payments. While Canadian mortgage defaults are amongst the lowest in the world at just 0.31%, foreclosure still happens.

In BC, if a lender forecloses on a homeowner they are required to give the borrower a 6-month Redemption Period – time granted to bring their mortgage up to date or find another lender. If at the end of this period the borrower is unsuccessful the foreclosing lender can ask for a Court-Ordered Sale. Once granted the property will be appraised and then listed by a realtor for sale at a price that will get the bank their money back in a reasonable amount of time. This usually translates into a lower asking price than if the seller that could hold out for the best the market has to offer.

If you have found a property in foreclosure listed at a great price there are a few things to consider before submitting an offer.

First, as soon as an offer is made and accepted a court date is set for about two weeks after. At court other parties can attend and make their offers and it can turn into a bidding war with the Court approving what they feel is the best offer.

Another point to consider is that you have to come to court with basically a condition-free offer. This means if you need financing to buy it you can only have one condition left on the mortgage approval – the Court accepting the offer. If you have less than 20% down and need mortgage insurance (CMHC) some lenders won’t take it to the insurer before your offer is accepted so your options may be limited somewhat. You have a much stronger bid if you have more than 20% to put down.

The rest of the financing conditions are pretty much exactly what to expect but again, all conditions need to be satisfied before presenting an offer. This means the cost of an appraisal and house inspection are upfront costs that may be a waste of money if you don’t get the property in the end.

Once the Court approves your offer the completion date is set usually for two weeks after that so you had also better be prepared for a hasty move if that proves necessary.

The last thing to note is that once the sale completes at lower than true market value you have now effectively established a new value for your place. Over the next 6-months or more likely a year an appraisal on this property will have its own sale price factored into its appraised value so if flipping is your game you could have a longer than normal investment period before seeing it’s true market value reflected.

Buying a foreclosure is a step up in the complexity of buying real estate so always seek the professional advice of a Dominion Lending Centres agent before jumping in.

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional 

What Does It Actually Mean To Co-Sign For A Mortgage?

General Tim Hill, MBA 3 Feb

pplThere seems to be some confusion about what it actually means to co-sign on a mortgage and you know that where there is confusion, your trusted mortgage professional seeks to offer clarity. Let’s take a quick look at why you may be asked to co-sign and what you need to know before, during, and after the co-signing process.

So why are you being asked? Last year there were two sets of changes made to the mortgage world which can likely explain why you are receiving this request in the first place.

The first occurred early in 2016 whereby the overall lending standards were increased in regards to an individual’s management of their credit and the resulting responsibility of Canada’s financial institutions to ensure they are lending prudently. We have seen an increase in requests for co-borrowers to help strengthen applications when credit or job stability is an issue.

The second happened just in October. A new ‘stress test’ rate applies which has especially impacted borrowers with less than 20% down. They must qualify at a rate of 4.64% though their actual interest rate is much lower. This has decreased affordability for many which means they could be looking for a co-borrower to increase how much home they can qualify for.

If it was me, I would ask questions as to exactly why the applicant needs a co-borrower. If it is a credit issue then you need to assess if that an acceptable risk. If it is a matter of not enough income, you need to assess that instead. What is the exit strategy for you all from this joint mortgage?

What can you expect? You will be required to complete an application and have your credit pulled. As you are now a borrower the banks will ask you for all the documentation that the main applicant has already provided. This can include but will not be limited to:

  • Letter of employment
  • Paystubs
  • 2 years Notice of Assessments, Financial Statements and complete T1 Generals
  • Mortgage statements on all properties you own
  • Bank statements if helping with the down payment
  • Property tax bills
  • Lease agreements
  • Divorce/separation agreement

So you get the idea. You are now a full applicant and will be asked for a whole bunch of paperwork. It is not just a matter of saying yes. Once the application is complete and all conditions have been met with the mortgage, you will have to meet with the lawyer as well.

What do you need to be aware of?

  1. This is now a monthly liability according to the world. You will have to disclose this debt on all your own applications going forward. It can affect your ability to borrow in the future
  2. Each lender is different in their policy as to how soon you can come off the mortgage. Familiarize yourself with this. Are you committing to this indefinitely or only for a couple of years?
  3. Mortgages report on the credit bureaus so you could be adversely affected if there are late payments
  4. If the main applicant cannot make the payment for whatever reason, you are saying that you will. Make sure your budget can handle that for a few months.

A few things you may want to consider if you do agree to co-sign:

  • Ask for an annual statement to be sent to you as well on both the mortgage and the property taxes.
  • Consider a joint account for mortgage payments so that you can check in every so often to ensure all payments are being made on time
  • Talk about life insurance! If the worst occurs, then at least have enough of a policy in effect, with yourself as the beneficiary, to cover a year of mortgage, taxes and bills so that you are not hit with an unexpected series of expenses until the property sells.

So though you just want to help your loved one into their dream home, you are all better served if you know exactly what you are getting into and are prepared for the contingencies. We here at Dominion Lending Centres are ready to help!


Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional