Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Did You Buy a Home in 2015? Want to Save Money this Tax Season???

Hey everybody! This is one of those opportunities that I love in my job where I get to be the bearer of excellent news, and I love that!

For those of you who bought a home for the first time in 2015(or even for some of you who weren't first-timers), there could be some big tax savings coming your way when you file your 2015 tax return. Make sure to discuss all the options with your tax professional or accountant, but the basics are as follows:

-Eligible first time home buyers who purchased a home in 2015 can claim an amount of $5,000 on your 2015 tax return. This in turn could lower your taxes due or result in a larger refund. Either way, it's a win-win if you qualify so make sure to ask about it when filing this year.

-Eligible persons who purchased a home in 2015 and qualify for the disability tax credit, or those purchasing a home for the benefit of family who is eligible for the disability tax credit may also qualify to claim the same $5,000 amount. You do not have to be a first time home buyer to qualify for this amount under this disability credit program.

If you're interested in the details, check out the official CRA page here:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/nwsrm/txtps/2016/tt160120-eng.html

For those who haven't bought yet, or are thinking about purchasing in 2016, make sure you look into the RRSP Home Buyers Program, which allows eligible first time home buyers the opportunity to access their RRSP savings without paying tax on the amounts withdrawn. Details on this program can also be found at the link above.

If you are able to plan your purchase to combine these two great government programs, you could stand to save yourself a whole bunch of money while getting your first foothold on the property ladder!

***This article is intended for informational purposes only. Please refer to your tax professional or the official CRA guidelines to determine eligibility or for the most up-to-date information. CRA guidelines are subject to change at any time.***

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Friday, 15 January 2016

Caulking: When, Where, and Why

Mike Holmes: OK, holiday relaxation is over and it's time to pull out the caulking gun

Caulking is a project most homeowners will do themselves at some point, so it's no surprise I often get questions like "Do I caulk my toilet? What about the sink? Do I caulk around the kitchen cabinets?" Since the number of indoor jobs rise as outdoor temperatures drop, let's talk about what should and shouldn't be…

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Income Confirmation: 101

While I'm no king of analogies, I'd like to think that applying for a mortgage is a bit like being a lion in the circus. Not because of the abundance of clowns ;), but because you're a majestic beast being forced to jump through many hoops by the lion-tamer(the lender) so that you can have a tasty treat at the end(your mortgage). While the number of hoops and the height may vary, the one which is almost universal for all mortgage applications is known as:

Income Verification

Income qualification is the process by which your Mortgage Broker, and in turn your lender, attempt to verify both the amount and the long-term sustainability of your income. If you do not have enough income to make your payments in a timely fashion, it becomes quite a bit more difficult to get a mortgage approval(*note I said 'more difficult', not to be confused with impossible!). Due to constantly increasing instances of fraud and misrepresentation, it can be more difficult now than ever to verify and confirm your income.

Fraud

2015 played host to some well-publicized mortgage fraud, thanks to a few bad eggs ruining it for the rest of us who work hard and remain ethical and honest in our businesses. As a result, the qualification and verification processes to obtain a mortgage have become more stringent and demanding. It is more important now than ever before to make sure you have a Mortgage Broker on your side who can help you navigate the process and explain the steps along the way.

Together, we will go through both your current earnings as well as your historical income to determine the best documentation to verify how much you are paid. This depends on factors such as your length of employment, how you are paid(hourly, salary, commission, etc.), or whether you are self-employed.

Employees

When you are an employee, it becomes somewhat easier to verify your income since you are being paid by a third-party source. Depending on your income type(salary, hourly, commission, tips, etc.) you may need only some or all of the following documents:
  • Letter of employment from your employer
  • Recent paystubs
  • Your latest 2 years Notice of Assessment(CRA tax document)
By using all or a combination of these documents, we can verify your length and place of employment, your average earnings, and whether or not you are likely to continue earning this amount. Having an average of your past years income(NOAs) helps to establish your average earning potential, regardless of how your pay is calculated. It also helps to show a track record and whether your income is increasing or decreasing.

Self-Employed

Those who are self-employed often find themselves under more scrutiny when verifying income, and the reason is quite simple: If you  own the business, you are the one in charge of writing your own paycheque. In light of this, lenders want to confirm not only your income but also the income of the company. No matter the business you're in, you must be able to show that your earnings are reasonable in relation to the company's earnings. Income for those who are self-employed can be established by some or all of the following:
  •  Your latest 2 years T1 General tax returns(CRA tax documents)
  • Your latest 2 years financial statements for your company
As always there can be exceptions to these rules and some lenders may ask for more or less documentation than others. Another important point is to consider the risk of your application overall. What is your 'loan-to-value', or the percentage of mortgage vs. the property value. If this is more than 80%, you can bet lenders will want to verify your income beyond any doubt. Also take into account your credit score, have you been late or missed any payments? Do you or have you had any accounts in collections? All these things can contribute to a 'riskier' mortgage application and may signal the lender to do more due diligence with your particular application.

If you'd like to know more about how to verify your income, or how much income you might need to qualify for your dream mortgage then give me a call any time! I can be found online at www.ryanWsmith.ca or 'Like' my Facebook Business Page to keep up-to-date.

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Monday, 11 January 2016

2015 - Recap

Hey everyone, Happy 2016! I've been taking some time the last week to recap and review how my 2015 went, and to sum it up it was excellent!

Last year saw the culmination of years spent dreaming, reading, researching, and learning turn into a realized goal: become a successful mortgage broker. Changing gears and pointing my career in a new direction has been terrifying at times, but ultimately rewarding in so many ways.

I have my clients to thank for the joy that you give me in doing my job. As with most things in my life, I give 110% when I am here and you support me with your smiles when the job is done and everything goes according to plan. Even when our best-laid plans are derailed I know I can count on that sense of achievement that comes from seeing a file through to completion, whether that be a new home, a refinance of your current home, or an expansion of your real estate investments. These are all substantial parts of your lives and I'm grateful to be a part of them with you!

In my personal life, 2015 brought plenty of great things as well. A great year with my fiance, a new home, and lots of good times spent with family and friends! A ton of hard work and effort behind the scenes went in to making the good happen, and I can't thank my future wife and my friends and family enough for supporting me when it came time to put in work.

2016 will bring many more adventures and I'm eagerly awaiting them all: Our wedding in September(with tropical honeymoon to follow!), and the massive renovation going on in our new home. In amongst all this I look forward to more enjoyable times with family and friends, and specifically to spending more time with my brother who has come back to Kamloops to pursue a new chapter in his own life.

Thanks 2015, you were good to me!
Here's to an even better 2016!

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