Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Mobile & Modular Homes

Mobile and modular homes make up a large and steadily growing part of the housing market in Canada. In fact, these pre-fabricated homes made up more than 15% of the new housing created in 2014. That's too large a segment of the market to ignore!

With that in mind, I wanted to give some insight into the benefits and challenges of considering this type of real estate for your next home or investment property. Dollar for dollar, homes which are manufactured off-site may offer greater value for your investment. They can be custom-built to your specifications if desired, and then moved into place and installed at a site of your choosing. If you opt for a mobile home, you may even have the option of moving that home elsewhere later on if you desire. It is for this very reason that these types of properties can be more of a challenge to finance and there are some special considerations.

Due to the risk associated with these types of homes being anything less than permanent(remember, lenders hate risks!), you may expect some challenges when trying to obtain a mortgage. There are consistently fewer lenders who will accept these properties, and some who may charge a premium rate depending on the details. Pre-approvals can pose a challenge as well due to uncontrollables such as pad rent and/or strata fees varying widely from one property to the next. As you can imagine, a mobile or modular on it's own land will be treated differently from one in a park or strata-type community. It's important to have a Mortgage Broker you know and trust to help you navigate this decision.

Some important questions to as are:
  • Does this purchase include freehold land(define Freehold HERE), or is the land leased?
  • What type of foundation is the home on? Is it a concrete pad? Concrete crawlspace/basement? Wooden piers? Steel pilings? 
  • How is the home secured to this particular foundation?
  • Finally, is it truly a "Mobile" or a "Modular" home?(Read on to answer this question...)

Mobile vs. Modular

A mobile home is NOT the same as a modular home, and vice versa. The two types of homes can be best defined by looking at the differences rather than the similarities. Some of the differences are:

Mobile Homes generally:
  • Have a steel frame
  • Use 2x8 floor joists
  • Are built to CSA Standard Z-240(not building code)
  • Can be moved at a later date, after having been originally installed


Modular Homes:
  • Have a wooden frame
  • Use engineered floor trusses
  • Are built to CSA Standard A-277(Canadian national building code)
  • Are also held to BC Building code standards
  • Can NOT usually be moved after having been placed on-site
As you would imagine, lenders find modular homes to be the more preferred option of the two, but this is at the expense of higher initial cost and the inability to move the building later. Modular homes act, look, smell, and think more like a conventional home and if there's one thing mortgage lenders enjoy, it's convention!

While choosing to opt for a mobile or modular home may limit your choice of lenders, a well-trained Mortgage Broker can help you to find a lender who will suit your needs. It is in situations like these that the power of a good Mortgage Broker's lending network can really shine and help you find the best option for your dream property, no matter the construction type. There may be local Credit Unions and specialty lenders who will offer options to suit, or there could be opportunities to shop the big lenders if the property fits their criteria. When you're ready to discuss the options available, give me a call or visit my website to get a secure online mortgage application started!

And most importantly, as always, Ask Questions! Take the time to interview your chosen professionals when making the decision to purchase or refinance your home, it may very well be the single biggest investment of your lifetime. Are they educated in the niche you're interested in? Are they up-to-date? Are they professional, courteous, and ethical?

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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

RBC Posts Record Profits...

Congratulations(I think...) to one of Canada's largest financial institutions(I won't name names here...) on achieving "Record Profits" in 2015!

Considering this has been a particularly uncertain year economically, they've somehow managed to buck the trend and keep right on growing. It's no surprise given their aggressive marketing tactics and their STEEP incentives(Read: IRD calculation HERE) to retain loyal customers. In their defense, they also have an extremely diverse portfolio of businesses and assets to manage, which allows them to minimize their exposure and risk to the more volatile markets in Canada.

Now I'm not going to dumb this dialogue down to "We are getting ripped off by the banks" as @UncommonSenses so eloquently put it in the CBC News comments section, but is it not worth considering that if your bank is posting record profits then are they really your best deal?

As one of the major players in consumer finances and mortgages, this bank plays a role in setting the standards and should act as healthy competition to the other banks, credit unions, and lenders. This role is particularly crucial given their massive marketing power, and their influence over their existing clients. I keep track of their mortgage offers quite closely and while on the surface they may seem to provide competitive rates, there is always a dark side(Star Wars pun intended, 18 days to go!).

A great discussion of the drawbacks of a mortgage with the larger institutions can be found in This Article. What you need to know is that although the rates might be competitive, the terms and penalties are most likely not. And with a large number of homeowners considering moving or refinancing within their original mortgage term, the reality is that you need to consider the penalties. This could mean the difference of thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars later.

When you're ready to discuss whether or not your bank is a good fit for your mortgage, take Yoda's advice and give me a call. Let's start the discussion. Or visit my website today to fill out a secure online mortgage application to get started right now. There are plenty of alternatives to consider that will save you money!

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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Fixed or Variable, How Do I Know What's Right For Me?

Choosing which type of mortgage rate suits you best is a difficult decision that should require some deliberation. My first suggestion would be to sit down with me and we can go over the pros and cons of each, unique to your situation.

Barring that, here's some helpful advice which may help you narrow the choice down somewhat.

Robert Mclister is found of Intellimortgage Inc., and chief editor of Canadian Mortgage Trends. He has prepared an excellent set of questions to make the decision easier when making this tough choice.

  1. Can you manage a potential rate hike? According to a recent survey, 16 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to afford a 3-percentage point increase in interest rates, while roughly 27 per cent would need to review their budget. Another 26 per cent said they would be concerned, but could probably handle it. “We look at a client’s payment today, factor in amortization and make sure they can handle the potential increase, both during the term and at renewal,” he said. “If a client is set on a floating rate we also find ones with fixed payments, but a fixed payment doesn’t mean ‘risk-free’.”
  2. Do you have three months of savings put aside? Cash reserves enhance one’s ability to withstand higher rates. “The last thing you want is a soaring variable-rate at the same time as other budgetary stress, like a layoff, separation, illness, new baby or some other unforeseen expense.”
  3. Where will you be in five years? Clients who break a fixed-rate mortgage early, can face a steep interest-rate differential penalty. By contrast, terminating a regular variable-rate mortgage costs you just three months of interest. That’s a key consideration if you want refinance flexibility, may sell and rent or can’t port for some reason. In many cases, it’s more prudent to choose a three-year term.
  4. What’s the spread between a 5-year fixed and variable? The current spread is about half a percentage point, far below the long-term average. “That makes the relative cost of a fixed-rate certainty historically cheap,” McLister said. “But it also suggests that the market is expecting low rates to persist. Over the long run, variable rates have easily outperformed fixed rates, but one notable exception is when the spread is very small.” What’s the break-even point? There’s a point when a long-term fixed rate becomes cheaper than a variable rate. “Today, that would happen if prime rate shot up over three-quarters of percentage point,” McLister estimates. “If inflation becomes a threat, the Bank of Canada could easily take rates higher than that. That’s the risk.”  
For more, check out this article from Genworth Canada.

As you can see, there are plenty of arguments to be made for both options. What it really comes down to is your personal preference and your tolerance for risk. The defining question becomes this:

Are you able to sleep soundly at night, knowing the potential for rates to change if you choose a variable rate mortgage?

When you're ready to delve into these questions in more detail, visit me at my website, or fill out a secure online mortgage application HERE any time!

  • Can you manage a potential rate hike? According to a recent survey, 16 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to afford a 3-percentage point increase in interest rates, while roughly 27 per cent would need to review their budget. Another 26 per cent said they would be concerned, but could probably handle it. “We look at a client’s payment today, factor in amortization and make sure they can handle the potential increase, both during the term and at renewal,” he said. “If a client is set on a floating rate we also find ones with fixed payments, but a fixed payment doesn’t mean ‘risk-free’.”
  • Do you have three months of savings put aside? Cash reserves enhance one’s ability to withstand higher rates. “The last thing you want is a soaring variable-rate at the same time as other budgetary stress, like a layoff, separation, illness, new baby or some other unforeseen expense.”
  • Where will you be in five years? Clients who break a fixed-rate mortgage early, can face a steep interest-rate differential penalty. By contrast, terminating a regular variable-rate mortgage costs you just three months of interest. That’s a key consideration if you want refinance flexibility, may sell and rent or can’t port for some reason. In many cases, it’s more prudent to choose a three-year term.
  • What’s the spread between a 5-year fixed and variable? The current spread is about half a percentage point, far below the long-term average. “That makes the relative cost of a fixed-rate certainty historically cheap,” McLister said. “But it also suggests that the market is expecting low rates to persist. Over the long run, variable rates have easily outperformed fixed rates, but one notable exception is when the spread is very small.” What’s the break-even point? There’s a point when a long-term fixed rate becomes cheaper than a variable rate. “Today, that would happen if prime rate shot up over three-quarters of percentage point,” McLister estimates. “If inflation becomes a threat, the Bank of Canada could easily take rates higher than that. That’s the risk.”
  • - See more at: http://resourcecentre.genworth.ca/professional-perspective/fixed-vs-variable-the-age-old-question?utm_source=ho-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=issue5#sthash.S14nPAZs.d
  • Can you manage a potential rate hike? According to a recent survey, 16 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to afford a 3-percentage point increase in interest rates, while roughly 27 per cent would need to review their budget. Another 26 per cent said they would be concerned, but could probably handle it. “We look at a client’s payment today, factor in amortization and make sure they can handle the potential increase, both during the term and at renewal,” he said. “If a client is set on a floating rate we also find ones with fixed payments, but a fixed payment doesn’t mean ‘risk-free’.”
  • Do you have three months of savings put aside? Cash reserves enhance one’s ability to withstand higher rates. “The last thing you want is a soaring variable-rate at the same time as other budgetary stress, like a layoff, separation, illness, new baby or some other unforeseen expense.”
  • Where will you be in five years? Clients who break a fixed-rate mortgage early, can face a steep interest-rate differential penalty. By contrast, terminating a regular variable-rate mortgage costs you just three months of interest. That’s a key consideration if you want refinance flexibility, may sell and rent or can’t port for some reason. In many cases, it’s more prudent to choose a three-year term.
  • What’s the spread between a 5-year fixed and variable? The current spread is about half a percentage point, far below the long-term average. “That makes the relative cost of a fixed-rate certainty historically cheap,” McLister said. “But it also suggests that the market is expecting low rates to persist. Over the long run, variable rates have easily outperformed fixed rates, but one notable exception is when the spread is very small.” What’s the break-even point? There’s a point when a long-term fixed rate becomes cheaper than a variable rate. “Today, that would happen if prime rate shot up over three-quarters of percentage point,” McLister estimates. “If inflation becomes a threat, the Bank of Canada could easily take rates higher than that. That’s the risk.”
  • - See more at: http://resourcecentre.genworth.ca/professional-perspective/fixed-vs-variable-the-age-old-question?utm_source=ho-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=issue5#sthash.S14nPAZs.dpuf
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