27 Jan

Upgrading Your Home: Refinance Plus Improvements Mortgage Option


Posted by: Peter Puzzo


Purchase Plus ImprovementsWhen it comes to mortgages and renovations it is important that you have your financing in place before you take the sledgehammer out of the garage! Lenders do not like coming into play halfway through a renovation. Planning is essential to ensure you will have enough funds to cover the renovation costs.

Did you know there are mortgage products available that may help you with the costs of renovations above the 80% loan-to-value refinancing rule? The Refinance Plus Improvements Mortgage is a great way to incorporate the costs of improvements into your mortgage.

Here’s a list of typical Refinance Plus Improvements Guidelines:

1. The improvement funds above the 80% loan-to-value mark for the current as-is market value of your home will be held back by the lender until your renovations are complete.

2. Lending value is based on an Appraisal that states the As-Is Complete Value

3. You will need quotes upfront for the proposed improvements

4. You may need additional funds to pay deposits to contractors

5. Do not start demolitions before an Appraisal is done

6. Funds available are typically limited to 20% of the current appraised value up to $40,000 (ask a mortgage broker about other mortgage options if you require more funds)

7. Renovations typically will need to be completed within 90 days from the date the mortgage completes

8. You must meet the lender’s credit and debt servicing requirements

Stay on Budget and on Time by Following these 5 Simple Steps:

1. Finalize the design before you start!

2. Contact Suppliers to make sure that they have the materials you have chosen in stock or that they can be delivered quickly

3. Obtain quotes from 2 or more reputable contractors

4. Apply and secure any permits that are required before your mortgage completion date

5. Give your contractor a deadline to ensure you don’t go over the allotted time to complete the improvements

Start the renovation planning by contacting your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional first!


Kathleen Dediluke


Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Kathleen is part of DLC Integrity Mortgage BC based in Nanaimo, B

20 Jan

Summary Of The New Mortgage Market


Posted by: Peter Puzzo


Summary of the New Mortgage MarketThere have been a lot of changes in the mortgage market over the past few months so many Canadian’s plans regarding homeownership may have shifted quite a bit from last year.

First, new qualification rules came to pass in October where even though actual contract rates are sitting at about 2.79% all Canadians have to now qualify at the Bank of Canada Benchmark rate of 4.64% to prove payments can still be met when rates go up in the future. That has taken about 20% of people’s purchase power out of the equation.

The second round of rules were implemented at the end of November with the government requiring banks to carry more of the cost or lending having to do with how they utilize mortgage insurance and the level of capital they have to have on reserve. This means it is more costly for banks to lend so they are passing some of that cost to Canadians.

We now have a tiered rate pricing system based on whether you are “insurable” and meet new insurer requirement to qualify at 4.64% with a maximum 25-year amortization (CMHC, Genworth, Canada Guaranty are the 3 insurers in Canada) or are “uninsurable” where you may have more than 20% down but can’t qualify at the Benchmark rate or need an amortization longer than 25-years to qualify or are self-employed so can’t meet traditional income qualification requirements. Canadians who are uninsurable will be charged a premium to their rate of anywhere from 15-40bps. So your rate would go from 2.79% to 2.94% at the very least.

Then in BC there was the announcement of the BC HOME Partnership Program (BCHPP) in January. We have finally had some clarification on how this works but the benefits are not as grand as the BC Government would like them to appear.

The BCHPP is a tool to assist First Time Homebuyers supplement their down payment by the government matching what they have saved up to 5% of the purchase price. While this may help some clients bring more money to the table we have to factor a payment on that “loan” into the debt-servicing mix so they will actually qualify for less by way of a mortgage. They have more of a down payment but can not get as high a mortgage so it’s very close to a wash.

Lastly, as of mid-January, CMHC announced they are increasing mortgage insurance premiums on March 17th. Genworth and Canada Guaranty are likely to follow. The insurance premiums are based on a percentage of the mortgage amount requested and how much you have to put down. For people with 5% down the premium will go from 3.60% to 4.00% and if you want to take advantage of the BCHPP program the premium will go from 3.85% up to 4.5%

What does this all mean? Overall it is more costly and more confusing to get a mortgage today than we have seen in many years. With the complexity of the new mortgage market, now more than ever buyers need someone with extensive knowledge to help them sort through their options – such as your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional.

If we can be of assistance to you or someone you know, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Kristin Woolard


Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Kristin is part of DLC National based in Port Coquitlam, BC.

11 Jan

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Shopping For A Mortgage


Posted by: Peter Puzzo


5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Shopping For a MortgageAvoid these 5 common mistakes, and you will have no problem getting your mortgage faster, more efficiently, and with a clear understanding of the process:

1. Thinking banks are the first and best place to go for a mortgage

Mortgage brokers can often beat the bank rates by using different lending institutions. The bank is limited to one lender, but if you use a mortgage broker, they have the option to shop for you with multiple lenders to find you the best product.

2. Not knowing your credit score

Your credit score is a HUGE factor in your mortgage application. The first thing lenders look at is your history and your score—then from there they build your file.

You should know where you stand because so much of your lending availability is tied to your credit score. In mere minutes, a mortgage broker can help you obtain a copy of your credit report, and go through it to ensure the information is correct.

3. Shopping with too many lenders

When you shop from institution to institution you will have your credit score pulled multiple times. Lenders typically frown upon this and it may interfere with your mortgage application. If you go to a mortgage broker though, your score is pulled ONE time only.

4. Not keeping your taxes up-to-date

Plain and simple: If you are self-employed or the mortgage application is requiring a 2-year income average to qualify (utilizing overtime wages and/or bonuses) and you haven’t filed your taxes and kept them up to date, you cannot get a mortgage. Lenders will ask for your notice of assessment if your tax filings are not up to date, and you will not get your mortgage until they are filed properly and a Notice of Adjustment from the latest year it is received.

5. Not understanding that the real estate market you qualify in TODAY will adjust in the future.

Rates may be at an all-time low right now, but new rules, government regulation, and changes when you are up for renewal can change the circumstances. You must be able to carry your mortgage payment at a higher rate or with new laws imposed.

Remember, securing a mortgage isn’t always about getting the best deal. It’s about getting a home you want and establishing yourself as a homeowner. That means not overextending yourself and taking your qualifying amount to the maximum. Leave some breathing room because no one knows what the future may hold!

But one thing’s for sure – you should contact a mortgage professional at Dominion Lending Centres!

Geoff Lee


Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Geoff is part of DLC GLM Mortgage Group based in Vancouver, BC.

6 Jan

Canada Shows Unexpected Strength With Job Surge and Trade Surplus


Posted by: Peter Puzzo


Canada's Jobs Report Dwarfs ForecastsDecember’s jobs report was unambiguously strong showing employment gains of 53,700 (0.3%), the result of gains in full-time work. Finally, for the first time this year, full-time jobs outpaced part-time. The unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage points to 6.9% as more people entered the labour force. This is evidence that the economy may be absorbing the slack that’s kept interest rates near record lows.

Full-time positions rose 81,300 in December from the previous month, the biggest gain since March 2012, and even after taking away 27,600 part-time jobs, the total employment gain of 53,700 shattered the economist forecasts for a small decline.

For 2016 as a whole, employment grew by 1.2%, compared to a growth rate of 0.9% in 2015. Payrolls rose by 214,000 last year, the fastest December-to-December growth since 2012.

Quebec and British Columbia posted job gains in December, while there was little change in the other provinces. In 2016, BC recorded the fastest employment growth rate among the provinces for the second consecutive year, up 3.1%. The gains were evenly split be tweet full- and part-time work and spread across many industries.

In another report, Canada’s trade balance returned to surplus in November for the first time since September 2014, moving from a $1.0 billion deficit in October to a $526 million surplus in November. Exports rose 4.3% on the strength of increased exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products as well as record exports to countries other than the US. Imports were up 0.7%, mainly on higher imports of energy products.

The data may signal Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz’s long-awaited economic revival is finally on solid ground. Poloz has stressed ahead of his Jan. 18 rate decision that there is still plenty of slack in the job market which may be adding to divergence with a recovering US economy.

The job gain made the fourth quarter the best since 2010 and turned 2016 into a breakout year from some of the slowest hiring since World War II. The trade surplus means struggling energy and manufacturing companies may contribute to growth aided by debt-fueled consumer spending on houses and cars.This would be just in time to help offset what is likely to be a slowdown in housing in Canada this year in the wake of federal government mortgage initiatives to tighten mortgage credit conditions.

Provincial Unemployment Rates in December In Descending Order (percent)
(Previous months in brackets)

 Newfoundland and Labrador        14.9 (14.3)
— Prince Edward Island                        10.7 (10.8)
— New Brunswick                                      9.4   (8.7)
— Alberta                                                        8.5   (9.0)
— Nova Scotia                                            8.3   (8.0)
— Quebec                                                       6.6   (6.2)
   — Saskatchewan                                         6.5   (6.8)
— Ontario                                                       6.4   (6.3)
— Manitoba                                                   6.3   (6.2)
— British Columbia                                   5.8   (6.1)
US Payrolls Rise As Wages Increase The Most Since 2009
US non-farm payrolls rose 156,000 in December. While below economists forecast, this was a solid gain pointing to an economy at close to full employment. The jobless rate ticked up to 4.7% as the labour force grew. Worker shortages have become more prevalent in the US, putting upward pressure on wages. The job market will continue to boost consumer spending in 2017.


According to Bloomberg News, the latest payrolls report brought the advance for 2016 to 2.16 million, after a gain of about 2.7 million in 2015. The streak of gains above 2 million is the longest since 1999, when Bill Clinton was president.

Among the details of the December report, the participation rate, which shows the share of working-age people in the labor force, increased to 62.7%, from 62.6%. It has been hovering close to its lowest level in more than three decades largely as a result of demographic changes.
Some measures of labor-market slack showed improvement. Americans who are working part-time who would rather have a full-time position fell to 5.6 million.The underemployment rate — which includes part-time workers who’d prefer a full-time job and people who want to work but have given up looking — dropped to 9.2% from 9.3%.

Bottom Line: There is little doubt that the Fed will continue to hike interest rates this year. The Trump administration takes office on January 20 and has promised to cut taxes, increase spending on infrastructure and cut regulations. This fiscal stimulus will likely boost economic activity in 2018 and lead to higher budget deficits. The bond markets have already sold off in anticipation of such moves, pushing mortgage rates higher in Canada.


Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.