Welcome to our Mortgages FAQ page. Here are the most common asked questions when it comes to mortgages. If you have a question that’s not answered we’d be happy to hear from you!
To determine ‘affordability’ you will first need to know your taxable income along with the amount of any debt outstanding and the monthly payments. Assuming it is your principal residence you are purchasing, calculate 32% of your income for use toward a mortgage payment, property taxes and heating costs. If applicable, half of the estimated monthly condominium maintenance fees will also be included in this calculation.
Second, calculate 40% of your taxable income and deduct all of your monthly debt payments, including car loans, credit cards, lines of credit payments. The lesser of the first or second calculation will be used to help determine how much of your income may be used towards housing related payments, including your mortgage payment. These calculations are based on lenders’ usual guidelines.
In addition to considering what the ratios say you can afford, make sure you calculate how much you think you can afford. If the payment amount you are comfortable with is less than 32% of your income you may want to settle for the lower amount rather than stretch yourself financially. Make sure you don’t leave yourself house poor. Structure your payments so that you can still afford simple luxuries.
A home inspection is a visual examination of the property to determine the overall condition of the home. In the process, the inspector should be checking all major components (roofs, ceilings, walls, floors, foundations, crawl spaces, attics, retaining walls, etc.) and systems (electrical, heating, plumbing, drainage, exterior weather proofing, etc.). The results of the inspection should be provided to the purchaser in written form, in detail, generally within 24 hours of the inspection.
A pre-purchase home inspection can add peace of mind and make a difficult decision much easier. It may indicate that the home needs major structural repairs which can be factored into your buying decision. A home inspection helps remove a number of unknowns and increases the likelihood of a successful purchase.
A minimum down payment of 5% is required to purchase a home, subject to certain restrictions. In addition to the down payment, you must also be able to show that you can cover the applicable closing costs (i.e. legal fees and disbursements, appraisal fees and a survey certificate, where applicable).
Regardless of the amount of your down payment, at least 5% of it must be from your own cash resources or a gift from a family member. It cannot be borrowed.
Lenders will generally accept a gift from a family member as an acceptable down payment provided a letter stating it is a true gift, not a loan, is signed by the donor. Where the mortgage loan insurance is provided by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the gift money must be in your possession before the application is sent in to CMHC for approval.
Mortgages with less than 20% down must have mortgage loan insurance provided by CMHC, Genworth Financial Canada or Canada Guaranty.
Mortgage loan insurance is insurance provided by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a crown corporation, Genworth Financial Canada or Canada Guaranty, approved private corporations. This insurance is required by law to insure lenders against default on mortgages with a loan to value ratio greater than 80%. The insurance premiums, ranging from 0.50% to 3.75%, are paid by the borrower and can be added directly onto the mortgage amount. This is not the same as mortgage life insurance.
A conventional mortgage is usually one where the down payment is equal to 20% or more of the purchase price, a loan to value of or less than 80%, and does not normally require mortgage loan insurance. If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, you will generally require a high-ratio mortgage with mortgage loan insurance.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your bankruptcy, generally some lenders would consider providing mortgage financing
First and foremost, you have to make sure you have enough money for a down payment – the portion of the purchase price that you furnish yourself.
To qualify for a conventional mortgage you will need a down payment of 20% or more. However, you can qualify for a low down payment insured mortgage with a down payment as low as 5%.
Secondly, you will require money for closing costs (up to 2.5% of the basic purchase price).
If you want to have the home inspected by a professional building inspector – which we highly recommend – you will need to pay an inspection fee. The inspection may bring to light areas where repairs or maintenance are required and will assure you that the house is structurally sound. Usually the inspector will provide you with a written report. If they don’t, then ask for one.
You will be responsible for paying the fees and disbursements for the lawyer or notary acting for you in the purchase of your home. We suggest you shop around before making your decision on who you are going to use, because fees for these services may vary significantly.
There are closing and adjustment costs, interest adjustment costs between buyer and seller and (depending on where you live) land transfer tax – a one-time tax based on a percentage of the purchase price of the property and/or mortgage amount.
Finally, you will be required to have property insurance in place by the closing date. And you will be responsible for the cost of moving.
Remember, there will be all kinds of things you’ll have to purchase early on – appliances, garden tools, cleaning materials etc. So factor these expenses into your initial costs.
The length of mortgage terms varies widely – from six months right up to 25 years. As a rule of thumb, the shorter the term, the lower the interest rate the longer the term, the higher the rate.
While four or five year mortgages are what most home buyers typically choose, you may consider a short-term mortgage if you have a higher tolerance for risk, if you have time to watch rates or are not prepared to make a long-term commitment right now.
Before selecting your mortgage term, we suggest you answer the following questions:
- Do you plan to sell your house in the short-term without buying another? If so, a short mortgage term may be the best option.
- Do you believe that interest rates have bottomed out and are not likely to drop more? If that’s the case, a long mortgage term may be the right choice for you. Similarly, if you think rates are currently high, you may want to opt for a short to medium length mortgage term hoping that rates drop by the time your term expires.
- Are you looking for security as a first-time home buyer? Then you may prefer a longer mortgage term, so that you can budget for and manage your monthly expenses.
- Are you willing to follow interest rates closely and risk their being increased mortgage payments following a renewal? If that’s the case, a short mortgage term may best suit your needs.
Needless to say, you’ll have financial responsibilities as a home owner. Some of them, like taxes, may not be billed monthly, so do the calculations to break them down into monthly costs. Below you will find a list of these expenses.
The Mortgage Payment
For most home buyers, this is the largest monthly expense. The actual amount of the mortgage payment can vary widely since it is based on a number of variables, such as mortgage term or amortization.
Property tax can be paid in two ways – remitted directly to the municipality by you, in which case you may be required to periodically show proof of payment to your financial institution; or paid as part of your monthly mortgage payment.
In some municipalities, these taxes are integrated into the property taxes. In others, they are collected separately and are payable in a single lump sum, usually due at the end of the current school year.
As a home owner, you’ll be responsible for all utility bills including heating, gas, electricity, water, telephone and cable.
Maintenance and Upkeep
You will also have to cover the cost of painting, roof repairs, electrical and plumbing, walks and driveway, lawn care and snow removal. A well-maintained property helps to preserve your home’s market value, enhances the neighbourhood and, depending on the kind of renovations you make could add to the worth of your property.
A longer-term mortgage is worth considering if you have a busy life and don’t have time to watch mortgage rates. Our 4, 5 and 7-year mortgages let you take advantage of today’s rates, while enjoying long-term security knowing the rate you sign up for is a sure thing.
If you want to keep your mortgage flexible right now, you can explore a shorter-term mortgage that usually allows you to take advantage of lower rates and save.
The interest rate on a fixed-rate mortgage is set for a pre-determined term – usually between 6 months to 25 years. This offers the security of knowing what you will be paying for the term selected.
A mortgage in which payments are fixed for a period of one to two years although interest rates may fluctuate from month to month depending on market conditions. If interest rates go down, more of the payment goes towards reducing the principal; if rates go up, a larger portion of the monthly payment goes towards covering the interest. Most open variable rate mortgages allow prepayment of any amount (with certain minimums) on any payment date, up to a maximum total amount per year.