21 Oct

High interest debt.


Posted by: Danielle King

If you, like so many other Canadians, have high-interest credit card debt, department store debt, line of credit debt or other outstanding payments, now may be the ideal time to refinance your existing mortgage and consolidate it all into one simple payment at the lowest rates of all time. I will guide you every step of the way! I’ll soon have you living comfortably in your new home or existing home.  
Call me direct today at 280-4616 or email danielleking@dominionlending.ca

Danielle King | Mortgage Professional
Tel: 709-280-4616
18 Nov

10 Best-Kept Secrets for Buying a Home


Posted by: Danielle King

HGTV has compiled a list of the 10 Best-Kept Secrets for Buying a Home to help borrowers get the most out of their money.

Buying Secret #10: Keep Your Money Where It Is It’s not wise to make any huge purchases or move your money around three to six months before buying a new home. You don’t want to take any big chances with your credit profile. Lenders need to see that you’re reliable and they want a complete paper trail so that they can get you the best loan possible. If you open new credit cards, amass too much debt or buy a lot of big-ticket items, you’re going to have a hard time getting a loan.

Buying Secret #9: Get Pre-Approved for Your Home Loan There’s a big difference between a buyer being pre-qualified and a buyer who has a pre-approved mortgage. Anybody can get pre-qualified for a loan. Getting pre-approved means a lender has looked at all of your financial information and they’ve let you know how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Being pre-approved will save you a lot of time and energy so you are not running around looking at houses you can’t afford. It also gives you the opportunity to shop around for the best deal and the best interest rates. Do your research: Learn about junk fees, processing fees or points and make sure there aren’t any hidden costs in the loan.

Buying Secret #8: Avoid a Border Dispute It’s absolutely essential to get a survey done on your property so you know exactly what you’re buying. Knowing precisely where your property lines are may save you from a potential dispute with your neighbors. Also, your property tax is likely based on how much property you have, so it is best to have an accurate map drawn up.

Buying Secret # 7: Don’t Try to Time the Market Don’t obsess with trying to time the market and figure out when is the best time to buy. Trying to anticipate the housing market is impossible. The best time to buy is when you find your perfect house and you can afford it. Real estate is cyclical, it goes up and it goes down and it goes back up again. So, if you try to wait for the perfect time, you’re probably going to miss out.

Buying Secret # 6: Bigger Isn’t Always Better Everyone’s drawn to the biggest, most beautiful house on the block. But bigger is usually not better when it comes to houses. There’s an old adage in real estate that says don’t buy the biggest, best house on the block. The largest house only appeals to a very small audience and you never want to limit potential buyers when you go to re-sell. Your home is only going to go up in value as much as the other houses around you. If you pay $500,000 for a home and your neighbors pay $250,000 to $300,000, your appreciation is going to be limited. Sometimes it is best to is buy the worst house on the block, because the worst house per square foot always trades for more than the biggest house.

Buying Secret #5: Avoid Sleeper Costs The difference between renting and home ownership is the sleeper costs. Most people just focus on their mortgage payment, but they also need to be aware of the other expenses such as property taxes, utilities and homeowner-association dues. New homeowners also need to be prepared to pay for repairs, maintenance and potential property-tax increases. Make sure you budget for sleeper costs so you’ll be covered and won’t risk losing your house.

Buying Secret #4: You’re Buying a House – Not Dating It Buying a house based on emotions is just going to break your heart. If you fall in love with something, you might end up making some pretty bad financial decisions. There’s a big difference between your emotions and your instincts. Going with your instincts means that you recognize that you’re getting a great house for a good value. Going with your emotions is being obsessed with the paint color or the backyard. It’s an investment, so stay calm and be wise.

Buying Secret #3: Give Your House a Physical Would you buy a car without checking under the hood? Of course you wouldn’t. Hire a home inspector. It’ll cost about $200 but could end up saving you thousands. A home inspector’s sole responsibility is to provide you with information so that you can make a decision as to whether or not to buy. It’s really the only way to get an unbiased third-party opinion. If the inspector does find any issues with the home, you can use it as a bargaining tool for lowering the price of the home. It’s better to spend the money up front on an inspector than to find out later you have to spend a fortune.

Buying Secret #2: The Secret Science of Bidding Your opening bid should be based on two things: what you can afford (because you don’t want to outbid yourself), and what you really believe the property is worth. Make your opening bid something that’s fair and reasonable and isn’t going to totally offend the seller. A lot of people think they should go lower the first time they make a bid. It all depends on what the market is doing at the time. You need to look at what other homes have gone for in that neighborhood and you want to get an average price per square foot. Sizing up a house on a price-per-square-foot basis is a great equalizer. Also, see if the neighbors have plans to put up a new addition or a basketball court or tennis court, something that might detract from the property’s value down the road. Today, so many sellers are behind in their property taxes and if you have that valuable information it gives you a great card to negotiate a good deal. To find out, go to the county clerk’s office. Sellers respect a bid that is an oddball number and are more likely to take it more seriously. A nice round number sounds like every other bid out there. When you get more specific the sellers will think you’ve given the offer careful thought.

Buying Secret #1: Stalk the Neighborhood Before you buy, get the lay of the land – drop by morning noon and night. Many homebuyers have become completely distraught because they thought they found the perfect home, only to find out the neighborhood wasn’t for them. Drive by the house at all hours of the day to see what’s happening in the neighborhood. Do your regular commute from the house to make sure it is something you can deal with on a daily basis. Find out how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other services. Even if you don’t have kids, research the schools because it affects the value of your home in a very big way. If you buy a house in a good school district versus bad school district even in the same town, the value can be affected as much as 20 percent.

HGTV More from Buying & Selling: 20 Best-Kept Secrets Filed under: Home Buying, Home Staging, Remodeling

20 Feb

Spending problem? Blame it on your brain


Posted by: Danielle King

Just because you are financially literate does not mean you make the right decisions. The problem may not be what your brain knows. The problem may actually be your brain.

The importance of retirement planning is understood, especially as we are in the midst of RRSP season; but we are genetically compelled to live in the present, to indulge, and to soothe ourselves with shopping. So the Financial Post’s Melissa Leong asked neuroeconomists to help us overcome our instincts by providing solutions to four savings challenges.

Problem: You feel no urgency to save for the future.

Saving for retirement will maximize your quality of life in the long term — but people are focused on what makes them happy now. “Saving doesn’t do much for your happiness,” says Michael Norton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of the upcoming book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. “Having more money in the bank isn’t highly correlated with being a happier person but the more debt you have, the less happy you are.”

Trick your brain: Put a (personal and aged) face to retirement.

“To people estranged from their future selves, saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now,” U.S. researchers said in a 2011 study. But in the absence of a time machine, how do you connect with your future self?

Scientists showed people aged renderings of themselves and found that they were willing to allocate about 30% more of their paycheques to retirement than those who had not seen their “future selves.”

“It’s almost like an imagination aid to give people something to grasp onto and make them realize: One day you will be in retirement. That person who will ultimately end up being you, is dependent on the choices you make now,” says Hal Hershfield, one of the lead authors of the study and a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Based on their research, Merrill Edge, which is a division of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, just came out with a tool called Face Retirement that will age you virtually. Or try a hypothetical exercise where you imagine your future self; for example, write a letter to 65-year-old you.

“Even just the act of sitting down and thinking about this self is more than what we do 99% of the time,” Mr. Hershfield says.

Problem: Your superpower is that you feel no pain when you spend.

When people see a product they want, say a new tablet or a pair of shoes, it triggers the nucleus accumbens, the so-called sex and money area of the brain. This patch of tissue is active when humans receive a reward, whether drugs, or money, or food.

However, when people are shown the price tag of the product, it stimulates a part of the brain known as the insula, which is associated with pain such as smelling disgusting odours. Where spenders and tightwads differ is how often they experience activity in the pain-processing centre. “For spendthrifts, it’s like the brakes in the car don’t work,” says Scott Rick, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, and one of the authors of the study, Tightwads and Spendthrifts.

Trick your brain: Look at the alternatives.

Research on opportunity cost shows spendthrifts respond to being reminded of what else they can spend the money on. For example, people were 20% less willing to buy a $15 DVD if the option to “not buy” was described as “keeping money for other purchases.” In another experiment, the choice to buy a 16-gigabyte iPod touch over a 32GB iPod doubled when accompanied by the phrase: “leaving you $100 in cash.”

“Tightwads are not sensitive to this. For spendthrifts … it’s like news to them,” Mr. Rick says.

Problem: You get distracted by day-to-day living and forget long-term goals.

We’re hard-wired to act on impulse and we enjoy the euphoria (the burst of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens) when we buy. “People talk about when they buy something, they feel good about it. That becomes a powerful drug, a motivator to keep spending the money,” says Lee Anne Davies, president of Agenomics.ca, which offers information on aging, health and wealth.

Trick your brain: Get peer pressure.

In a study of Chilean entrepreneurs, those who reported weekly to a self-help peer group deposited 3.5 times more often into their savings account, and their average balance was almost twice that of those not receiving peer pressure. The Harvard Business School working paper that discussed the finding noted that feedback in the form of text messages was also effective.

For help, Ms. Davies pointed to online tools such as ImpulseSave, which allows you to transfer money with a text message and shares your progress via social media, or SaveUp which encourages you with rewards. “These companies are coming up with social media approaches to get that same drug-like feeling from saving.”

You might consider looking to your spouse for peer support but there’s a caveat. “Tightwads and spenders tend to marry each other — fatal fiscal attraction,” Mr. Rick says. “But we also found it was bad news. The more they’re different, the more they fight about money.”

Problem: You can’t save because you’re drunk on credit.

Buying with your credit card isn’t just a problem for shopaholics. “For tightwads, they turn into spendthrifts when they’re using credit. With cash, they look like themselves,” Mr. Rick says. “For spendthrifts, none of it’s painful. It could be gold bars.”

Trick your brain: Ditch the plastic and pay off the card with the highest interest.

Studies show that people’s instinct is to pay off credit cards with the smallest balance rather than the cards with the highest interest because it feels good to “pick low-hanging fruit,” says researcher Cynthia Cryder.

But her advice is to “pursue a path that is the most motivating.”

“If closing the account makes you allocate an extra $100 to your debt, close the account,” the assistant professor of marketing at Washington University says. “However, if you want to be as efficient as possible, allocate funds to the highest interest rate account after minimum payments are met.”

Melissa Leong | Financial Post

14 Jan

Good reasons to use a Mortgage Professional \ Broker


Posted by: Danielle King

Owning a home is usually on a list of lifetime goals. And new home buyers usually have a lot of questions. Some worry about coming up with the down payment, some aren’t sure about their credit scores, others are self-employed, and already know that it can be challenging to get credit at all. These concerns and any other questions home buyers have can be answered by mortgage brokers. In fact, mortgage professionals are valuable resources who are often overlooked simply because they are not connected to a bank.

In some regions, there is still a perception that brokers are last resort lenders. In fact, mortgage brokers have access to most lenders, including the banks, and are uniquely qualified to assist clients get into the best mortgage products.

Using mortgage brokers save valuable time for clients by eliminating the need to visit a variety of lenders and fill out multiple applications. Our hours are generally the client’s hours and we can be mobile, which can certainly benefit busy families.” This is a key reason clients will benefit from working with mortgage brokers are “Brokers take time to listen to a client and do what’s in their best interest, not only for the short term but will look at the whole picture 5, 10 years down the road.

Mortgage broker are continually focused on the industry and keep up-to-date on changes. “We are truly experts on all things mortgage-related. However, our expertise is not limited to mortgages. We understand our local real estate markets. We also understand credit issues and ways to improve credit scores, with the end result of helping clients achieve their dream of home ownership.

5 Nov

Understanding your Credit Report


Posted by: Danielle King

Understanding your Credit Report

As credit has become more and more abundant in our society, your credit report, and thus your credit rating, has become more important in your daily life. Your credit rating affects all aspects of your financial activities when it comes to borrowing money. Your credit rating also has the ability to affect the job you get, the apartment you rent, and even the ability to open a bank account.

Your credit report itself is simply a listing of all of your mortgage and consumer debt. Here in Canada, the two main credit reporting agencies are Trans Union and Equifax. Both agencies have a credit history file on anyone who has ever borrowed money. Every time you borrow money, or make a payment on a loan or credit card, the lender then reports the information about the transaction to these two agencies. In addition to credit information, you will also find liens and judgements on your credit report as well as your address and possibly your work history. The accumulation of all of this information is called your credit report.

The information on your credit report varies based on your creditors and what they have reported about you. Potential lenders and others, such as employers, view your credit history as a reflection of your character. Whether we like it or not, our financial habits have a lot to say about the way in which we choose to live our lives.

The credit score, or beacon score, is a number which gives mortgage lenders an idea of your lending risk. Credit scores range from 300 to 900, the higher your credit score the better. The mortgage products and interest rate that you will qualify for are often determined by your credit score.

One thing that many people do not know is that you have the legal right to obtain a copy of your credit report. A mortgage professional can help you obtain a copy of this report and go through it with you to verify that all of the information is true and correct.

The good news is that your credit report is a working document. This means that you have the ability over time, to repair any damaged credit and increase your credit score.

22 Oct

Fixed mortgages win over variable: Good read from the Vancouver Sun


Posted by: Danielle King

As the federal government warned it may again tighten mortgage rules, a Bank of Montreal economist says fixed mortgages “clearly trump” variable mortgages in today’s economy.

There are two reasons for the change of heart by Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO: the intense competition among lenders and the economic recovery in the U.S.

“While we have in the past supported going variable, and even though short-term rates are likely to remain low this year, current offers on long-term mortgage rates and the recent shift in bond market sentiment tilt the balance heavily in favour of locking in at this stage,” wrote Porter in a report, Time to Say Goodbye to Variable.

The report coincides with BMO offering two low-rate mortgage options, a 2.99 five-year rate and a 3.99 10-year rate, both of which are limited to 25-year amortization and limited prepayment options. Many other lenders have followed suit, offering low-rate mortgages, sometimes with more flexibility.

Porter said in his report that historically, 84 per cent of the time since 1975, borrowers with variable rates saved money over those who took fixed rate mortgages. The late-’70s were the exception, with higher variable rates than fixed rates, followed by skyrocketing interest rates in the early 1980s. When asked if he is predicting something similar might happen in the coming years, Porter said, “No, but there might be a very pale imitation of that.”

In Vancouver, because real estate prices are so high, a fixed-rate mortgage can help people sleep at night, said Jennifer Muench, BMO’s vice-president of personal banking in Vancouver.

“When you go from variable to fixed, what it really does is give you peace of mind,” she said. “If you are in a situation where you have high costs for your mortgage payments, knowing exactly what your payments will be over a five or 10-year period is huge.

” Banks have also reduced the discount offered on variable rates in recent months, which means variable and fixed rates are very similar. Porter said it’s “next to impossible to predict” what will happen with those discounts if and when interest rates go up.

The Bank of Canada is unlikely to raise rates until next year, Porter said, but added he expects the overnight rate, which is one per cent now, to raise to about four per cent within four years.

Meanwhile, the federal government, dealing with signs of an overheated property market, is ready to tighten mortgage insurance rules again if necessary, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Thursday.

Flaherty also chided bank executives for asking the government to impose more restrictions, noting the banks are the entities that offer mortgages.

Canada’s banking regulator, trying to curb risks posed by record-high levels of household debt, said this week it wanted lenders to be more transparent about their mortgage businesses.

Flaherty has imposed tougher requirements for government-backed mortgages three times since 2008.

“With respect to tightening up the mortgage insurance market we’ve done it three times … and we watch, we monitor the market, and if we have to tighten it some more we will,” he told reporters. “The new housing market produces a lot of jobs in Canada so there’s a balance that needs to be addressed. I’d like the market to correct itself, quite frankly, if it can.”

Since 2008, Flaherty has lowered the maximum amortization period for new mortgages to 30 years from 40 years, raised minimum down payments required to qualify for government insurance, and required all borrowers to qualify for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage to get insurance.