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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bank of Canada Rate Announcement





  • Good morning

    As you know, your variable rate mortgage, line of credit and/or student loans are all based on the Prime Rate and here is your personal update from me on the recent Bank of Canada announcement on changes to their Overnight Rate which in most cases impacts your Prime Rate.

    At 10:00 am EST, Wednesday January 22nd, 2014 the Bank of Canada again did what we expected them to do … they continued to maintain their overnight rate. What this means to you is that once again the prime rate on your mortgage, line of credit or student loan will not change and remains at 3.00%. This is fabulous news but don’t forget to make the most of the low payments you still have, as the rate will increase in the future. If you haven’t done so already, give me a call and we can chat about helping you get set up with a great GIC, Tax Free Savings Account, or Retirement Savings Plan as your payments continue to remain low. So did you, or someone you know, blow their budget over the holiday season and have started to get those dreaded credit card bills in and the reality is starting to sink in... let me help you get back on track with a review of your financial situation which might be a savings plan, credit counseling or debt consolidation to pay off high interest loans or credit cards. If you would like to chat about some budgeting and saving strategies – let me know as I would be happy to assist.

    Here is an excerpt of the announcement from the Bank of Canada and what they had to say about their decision today:

    “Inflation in Canada has moved further below the 2% target, owing largely to significant excess supply in the economy and heightened competition in the retail sector. Global growth is expected to strengthen over the next two years with the US leading this acceleration, aided by diminishing fiscal drag, accommodative monetary policy and stronger household balance sheets. The improving U.S. outlook is affecting global bond, equity, and currency markets. Growth in other regions is evolving largely as projected. In Canada, growth improved in the second half of 2013. However, there have been few signs of the anticipated re-balancing towards exports and business investment. Stronger U.S. demand, as well as the recent depreciation of the Canadian dollar, should help to boost exports and, in turn, business confidence and investment”.

    Based on this news, the Bank still does not expect to increase their rate in the foreseeable future with any change most likely to occur late 2014 or even not until 2015! Remember, that any increase to the prime rate since 1992 has only been by 0.25% at any ONE time, so you won’t see a large significant increase all at once.

    Fixed rates dropped just slightly since the last announcement to around 3.39% to 3.59% for a five year fixed term.

    Based on this recent announcement, and the anticipation that the prime rate will still remain low for a while now, unless you feel otherwise, I’d recommend that you remain with your current variable rate product as the interest is lower than a fixed term rate right now. However, if having a fixed payment is important to you, call me so I can calculate what your new payment would look like and also if it is suitable for you. The next announcement on any change to the prime rate is March 5th, 2014 at which time
    I wonder if I can ask a favour – this is a great time for first time home buyers who are thinking of purchasing in the Spring to start with a pre-approval plan now to get them on track and save unnecessary interest. Also if you hear a friend or family member talk about going thru a financially tough time – maybe I can help with some budgeting and debt consolidation options for them. In either of these cases, would you mind passing my contact information on to them – this is very much appreciated.
  • David Cooke - your Calgary mortgage broker 
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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hybrid Mortgages - What are they?



Back in the 80's when interest rates were going up , a popular investing strategy was to go long and short. That's to say, you would take half your investments and lock  them in bonds at the 5 year rate and half in the one or two year rate. The idea is that you can never time exactly when rates will be at their peak or bottom so it's best to have half your investment in short term and half in long term. 
    Hybrid mortgages – also known as 50/50 mortgage products – include an equal mix of fixed-rate and variable-rate components within your single mortgage. This means you get the best of both worlds – the security of fixed repayments with the flexibility of a variable rate.

Although there was a time in recent years when mortgage experts considered a variable-rate mortgage as the obvious choice to save mortgage consumers money over the long term, with fixed rates remaining near historic lows, a 50/50 mortgage may be a great alternative for you.

In essence, since it’s extremely difficult to accurately predict rates over the long term, a 50/50 mortgage offers interest rate diversification, which can help reduce your level of risk.

If you opt for a 50/50 product, half of your mortgage is locked into a five-year fixed rate and half is at a five-year variable rate. You can lock in your variable-rate portion at any time without paying a penalty. As well, each portion of the 50/50 mortgage operates independently – like two separate mortgages – yet the product is registered as only one collateral charge.

The 50/50 mortgage product is well-suited to a variety of borrowers, including those who:
·         Would normally go fully variable but are afraid prime rate is at its bottom
·         Aren’t comfortable being locked into a fully fixed rate
·         Can’t decide between a fixed or variable mortgage
·         Savvy first-time home buyers

Some features of the 50/50 mortgage include:
·         20% annual lump-sum pre-payment privileges
·         20% annual payment increase ability
·         Portability (the option to transfer your existing loan amount to a new property without penalty)

As the 50/50 option is a fairly new offering, according to a recent study by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP), 5% of Canadian mortgage holders have 50/50 mortgages compared to 28% with variable-rate mortgages and 68% with fixed-rate mortgages. But many experts believe the 50/50 mortgage is quickly gaining momentum. David Cooke is a senior mortgage broker at Dominion Lending Centres Westcor in Calgary. For more information contact him here.
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Monday, January 20, 2014

Budgeting Towards Home Ownership




Transitioning from renter to homeowner is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make throughout your lifetime. It can also be a stressful experience if you don’t plan ahead by building a budget and saving prior to embarking upon home ownership.

Budgeting is a core ingredient that helps alleviate the stress associated with money issues that can sometimes arise if you purchase a home without knowing all of the associated costs – including down payment, closing expenses, ongoing maintenance, taxes and utilities.

The trouble is, many first-time homeowners fail to carefully think about their finances, plan a budget or set savings aside. And in this society of instant gratification, money problems can quickly escalate.

The key is to create a realistic budget based on your goals. Track your spending and make your dollars go further by sticking to your budget once it’s in place. Budgeting offers a step-by-step formula for figuring out how to best save your hard-earned money to invest in home ownership.

Start by listing your household income, then your household expenses, and review your spending habits. All of this can be done on a pad of paper or on a computer spreadsheet.

Keeping receipts for everything that you purchase will enable you to accurately keep track of where your money is going each month so that you can review and make necessary changes to your plan on an ongoing basis.

Examine all areas of your life from entertainment to the type of food you buy, where you buy your food and clothes, and how and where you travel. Also look at your spending personality and make necessary adjustments. Are you a saver, a splurger, a spontaneous shopper or a hoarder? Become smarter with your money and avoid impulse buying.

If you find you’re spending a lot of money in one area, such as entertainment for instance, set aside a reasonable amount each month and prepare to stop spending money in this area once your budget has been exhausted.

Budgeting provides you with the opportunity to re-evaluate your needs and wants. Do you really need the magazine subscriptions, the gym membership and all the other things you may spend money on each month? Although everyone needs some “me time” to wind down, could you not get that by taking a walk or reading a good book you borrowed from the library?

If you can set your budget solidly in place before you head out home or mortgage shopping, you will be far more prepared to purchase your first home.

Following are three top tips to help you prepare for the purchase of your first home:
1.      Set up a savings account. You can deposit a predetermined amount into this account each pay period that you will not touch unless it’s absolutely necessary. This will enable you to put money aside for a down payment and cover closing costs, as well as address ongoing home ownership expenses such as maintenance, taxes and utilities.

2.      Save up for big-ticket items. As you accumulate money in your savings account, you will be able to also save for specific purchases to help furnish your home – avoiding the buy now, pay later mentality, which can have a negative impact on your credit when you’re seeking mortgage financing.

3.      Surround yourself with a team of professionals. When you’re getting ready to make your first home purchase, enlist the services of a licensed mortgage professional and a real estate agent. These experts are invaluable to you as you set out on the road to home ownership because they help first-time buyers through the home purchase and financing processes every day. They will be able to answer all of your questions and set your mind at ease. A mortgage professional has access to multiple lenders, and can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know exactly what you can afford to spend on a home before you head out house hunting, while a real estate agent will be able to match your needs with a house you can afford. Both parties will negotiate on your behalf to ensure you get the best bang for your buck. And, best of all, these services are typically free. They will also be able to refer you to other reputable professionals you may need for your home purchase, including a real estate lawyer and home appraiser. If you have any questions contact David Cooke, your Calgary mortgage broker via http://davidcooke.ca

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Collateral Versus Standard Charge Mortgages



With some lenders moving towards collateral charge mortgages, it’s important to understand the differences between a collateral and a standard charge mortgage.
The primary difference is that a collateral charge mortgage registers the mortgage for more money than you require at closing. For instance, up to 125% of the value of the home at closing with TD Canada Trust or 100% through many credit unions, instead of the amount you need to close your transaction (as is the case with a standard charge mortgage).
The major downside to a collateral mortgage becomes evident at your mortgage renewal date. For borrowers who want to keep their options open at maturity and have negotiating power with their lender, this isn’t the best product feature because collateral charge mortgages are difficult to transfer from one lender to another.
In other words, if you want to change lenders in order to seek a better product or rate in the future, you have to start from the beginning and pay new legal fees, which range from $500 to $1,000. With a standard charge mortgage, in most cases, the new lender will cover the charges under a “straight switch” in order to earn your business.
In addition, with a collateral charge, it could be difficult to obtain a second mortgage or a home


equity line of credit (HELOC) unless your home significantly appreciates in value.
Lenders offering collateral charge mortgages promote the benefit that it makes it easier and more cost effective to tap into your equity for such things as debt consolidation, renovations or property investment. There’s no need to visit a lawyer and pay legal fees – the money is available as your mortgage is paid down. Yet, if you read the fine print, you may still have to re-qualify at renewal.
A standard charge mortgage gives you the ability to move to another lender at renewal should you want to without incurring legal fees, and many borrowers find it more beneficial to keep their options open. If you need to borrow more with a standard charge mortgage, you have the option of a second mortgage or a HELOC, which also enables you to take money out as your mortgage is paid down.
Navigating through the mortgage process alone can be tricky. Working with a mortgage professional who has access to multiple lenders will help ensure you receive the product and rate catered to your specific needs.
As always, if you have any questions about the information above or your mortgage in general, I’m here to help!

for more information contact me via my .http://davidcooke.ca