Spruce Grove Mortgage Broker: Krista Rumberg
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My Best Advice For Improving Your Credit

Someone recently asked me about the best credit advice I could give.

I thought after being a mortgage broker for 14 years I certainly have some best practices about finances and credit I could write about. One of the biggest things I have learned is money, finance, and credit are concepts that a lot of people know nothing about. Here are some things you may find useful.

One of the biggest questions is, how do I improve my credit score or how do I keep it high?

Most Canadians have a credit score between 650 – 680. Anything over 700 is considered excellent and anything under 620 is considered poor credit.

The two biggest factors that drive that score are:

  • Credit utilization or how much of your available credit are you using. I have found that your credit score stays higher if you are only using 50% of your available credit. Therefore, if you pay off a credit card, keep the card open (exercise self discipline and don’t use it) with a zero balance to maintain a high score
  • The other significant factor is payment history. This means do you pay on time? You need to pay at least your minimum payment ON TIME or better yet pay it in full, ON TIME.

Keep your credit limits high and balances low.

Cell phones and mortgages now report to the credit bureau. If you are looking for a great way to start your teenager in establishing credit, put their cell phone in their own name.  Your mortgage also reports to the credit bureau. There is ZERO tolerance in lending for late mortgage payments. Credit bureaus hold history for about 7 years. That’s longer than the average marriage!  If you need to default on something don’t pick your mortgage.

Keep your credit limits high and balances low.

If you are someone who struggles with temptation, I recommend freezing you card into the middle of an ice cream bucket filled with water. This way the card is accessible in an emergency but its going to take a considerable amount of effort to access. Delete the memory of your card number on your computer.

It’s very important to establish credit in your own name.

I have an Aunt who lost her husband after being married for over 50 years. In addition to not knowing how to fill the car with gas she also had zero credit on her own. Everything was in her husband’s name. There she was 70+ years old trying to establish credit on her own and learn how to bank. Her questions were simple. How does the money go from my bank account to the gas station? Does someone run the money over? I know this is an extreme case but do yourself a huge favour and get a credit card on your own name and take an active role in understanding and doing your banking. When I say get a credit card in your name, I do not mean a supplementary card that your husband/wife is the primary applicant.

You need to be the primary card holder even if your limit starts at $500… get started.

Can we talk about consumer proposals and bankruptcies? Sometimes bad things happen to good people and sometimes people are just financially irresponsible and make poor choices. I think the biggest struggle is the moral one. A consumer proposal combines all your debts and your creditors are paid a small percentage of the overall debt. The individual who files the proposal along with a trustee reviews income and liabilities and a payment schedule is set. You make your payments over a period of several years. You get to maintain your registered investments like RRSP’s and often your home, if your debt excluding the mortgage is less than $250,000. When your payments are all paid back you become discharged and the consumer proposal reports to your credit bureau for 3 years after discharge. When you claim bankruptcy, your creditors don’t get paid anything and you don’t make payments. You don’t get to maintain your home or any assets and it will stay on your credit bureau for 6 years after discharge. From a mortgage stand point a consumer proposal is viewed very similarly to a bankruptcy and very frowned on by potential mortgage lenders. You need two years of PERFECT re-established credit to qualify for a mortgage after both consumer proposal and bankruptcy. Here are a couple websites that may provide some help, Romans Debt Solutions Inc. and The Credit Counselling Society.

I have some pretty strong opinions on what I deem to be poor choices on managing your finances.

Don’t make these poor choices:

  • Don’t buy an RV or a boat with 20-year or more amortization – you won’t keep it for 20 years and you will have negative equity and quite frankly if you need to amortize a purchase like this over 20 years you can’t afford it. Don’t buy it.
  • Don’t buy a vehicle with a balloon payment at the end. Don’t ever put yourself in a situation that when you sell the vehicle you will owe more than it’s worth. I strongly feel the government needs to step in a ban this garbage.
  • If you have credit card debt make sure you are paying it back significantly more than the minimum payment. Remember that credit card interest starts at the moment of purchase (when you have a balance owing) and compounds DAILY. So that means you are paying interest on interest on interest, etc. and the balance grows every day. Now that thing you bought because it was on sale but you couldn’t afford isn’t a very good deal.

Here are a few things that I deem to be good financial choices:

  • Use a broker when ever possible – general insurance broker, life insurance broker, mortgage broker, stock broker. A broker has a license to broker the product they are selling so they are likely specialized and have a variety or products for you to choose from that best fits your needs.
  • Pay your property taxes on your own. Don’t include them in your mortgage payment. Three times I have received frantic calls from clients – their tax account slipped thru the cracks and didn’t get paid by the lender.  If you don’t pay your property taxes for three years the municipality has the right to commence foreclosure proceedings. And they do! The TIPPS program is free from most municipalities and they will deduct it monthly from your bank account or you can pay in full on June 30 every year. In addition, when your mortgage comes up for renewal it’s way easier to change lenders if your tax account isn’t attached to your mortgage.
  • Use the clauses in your mortgage contract in your favour. Your mortgage likely has a portability clause (unless you have a no-frills mortgage). This means that if you want to change homes, you can port or move your existing mortgage from one home to the next. There are some rules surrounding this but this is an awesome clause that avoids paying the mortgage penalty in the event of a move. Use your prepayment privileges. Depending on your lender you can increase your mortgage payment from 10% to doubling up your payment. In addition, you can lump sum your mortgage up to 20% of the loan amount. These additional funds go directly to your principle and can save you thousands of dollars in interest and take years off your mortgage.

 

Because I have a mortgage brokering license,

I will expand on why you want to use a mortgage broker over your bank.

What’s the difference?

Brokers have a license which allows them to access mortgage funds from all sorts of lenders. This is great for you, as it creates a competitive rate environment. A mortgage broker gets paid a percentage of your loan amount from the lender and gives you the best discounted rate for your situation. Your banks mortgage specialist is a bank employee and they only offer their banks mortgage. They can be knowledgeable on that banks individual mortgage products but they get paid more if they give you a higher rate. Keep in mind a mortgage shouldn’t always be about rate. You have to look at the terms of the mortgage. The big 5 banks mortgage penalties strongly favor the bank where the monoline lenders have consumer friendly mortgage penalties. RBC, BMO, CIBC, TD, Scotia, and ATB all have mortgage specialists. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a bank mortgage specialist refers to themselves as a broker. They are not – they don’t have a brokering license and they only offer their employers mortgage.  Keep in mind your mortgage broker can often offer you one of the big 5 bank’s mortgages too – some exceptions apply.

Your banks mortgage specialist is a bank employee and they only offer their banks mortgage.

Stay away from a collateral mortgage clause attached to your mortgage. Better yet ask if your mortgage has one? Don’t be surprised if your personal banker at your branch doesn’t have a clue what it is… but keep asking until you get the answer. There are some minor perks of a collateral charge but the risk far outweighs the gain. A collateral charge on your mortgage allows your lender to extend secured credit to you easier and with less risk to them. On the downside a collateral charge makes it more expensive and difficult to move your mortgage to a new lender on renewal and the biggest risk of all… in the event of default on any trade line extended as a result of your collateral mortgage, your bank can FORESLOSE on your home because of the defaulted trade. In some cases with a line of credit there is no option except to collateral charge but I highly recommend asking for a STANDARD mortgage charge. The power of a collateral charge mortgage may be best described by what happened to one borrower.

The parents had a collateral charge clause on their mortgage (nobody ever told them what this was nor did they know it was in the fine print of their mortgage paperwork). They held all their banking with “their bank”- credit cards, line of credit and in this case a car loan they co-signed for their son. The son was in an auto accident and the car was written off and not covered by insurance and for whatever reason the son stopped making the car payments. The bank started foreclosure proceedings on the parents’ home to recover the loss on the car loan.

You never know what can happen in your life, loss of job, sickness, etc that can impact your finances. I think the last thing you need to do is put your family home at risk.

There are many things that I covered here…and many I did not. This post could literally be 10 pages long.

Hopefully the tools above help you in your journey.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

What is Collaborative Divorce?

I am a Collaborative Divorce Alberta Association professional that works with people through the association is helping find collaborative ways to separate and divorce.

Not all separations are “nasty” and sometimes people find that they need to go their own ways from each other. Through the collaborative divorce process there are professionals that have the same goal as you. They want to help you and your spouse reach a fair divorce settlement, based on your priorities and without the potentially huge expenses and stress associated with a settlement reached in court.

How can I help?

In the process of separation and divorce I work with families and their finances to keep family homes through spousal buyout and/or find mortgages that suit them in their new homes. We work together to find what is the best options for everyone.

It’s imperative to examine your finances to determine if you can comfortably afford to buy out your spouse. If you’ve decided to remain in your matrimonial home, but the mortgage payments, taxes, monthly bills and upkeep push you to your financial limit, the stress that this will put you under may not be worth staying put – even for the sake of keeping something constant in your children’s lives.

As a mortgage specialist who works with divorcing couples, I’ve adopted three key priorities to ensure I serve every client to the best of my ability, including:

  1. Operating with integrity by always ensuring my clients receive the best mortgage product and rate to meet their unique needs – both now and over the long term.
  2. Providing solutions, support and answers while navigating unchartered territory such as separation/divorce, which ultimately leads to financial independence.
  3. Keeping a positive outlook regardless of the situation at hand to help keep clients in a positive frame of mind while they complete their separation/divorce and split the matrimonial home.

Please contact me if you have any questions and I also encourage you to check out Collaborative Divorce Alberta Association for further resources.

Mortgage Broker Spruce GroveMortgage Broker Spruce Grove

Retirement With A Mortgage

There’s a chance you read the title to this article and thought “I’m a long way off from retirement”. That’s okay, chances are you know someone (maybe parents or relatives) who could use this information, feel free to pass it along.

If you find yourself in the position thinking about retirement and what options you have with your mortgage, you’ve come to the right place. As an independent mortgage broker, I can provide you with many more options than a traditional bank. You might be closer to retirement than you think, and a good mortgage can certainly help you along the way.

Although it’s ideal to have your mortgage paid off by the time you retire, that isn’t always possible. Especially in today’s economy. More and more Canadians are carrying mortgage debt into retirement, how well they do it relies on the options they have!

Let me outline some options you have:

Standard Mortgage Financing

Standard mortgages work if you’ve got a steady income, decent credit, and equity in your home. There is no reason you shouldn’t qualify for standard mortgage financing. This usually comes at the lowest interest rate and best terms. Even if you’ve already retired, some lenders use pension and retirement income to support your mortgage application.

Reverse Mortgage Financing

A reverse mortgage allows Canadian homeowners 55 years and older to borrow money from their home with no proof of income, no credit check, and no health questions. A reverse mortgage is a fabulous mortgage solution that has helped thousands of older Canadians to enhance their lifestyle.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A line of credit secured to the equity you have in your home is an excellent tool to allow you to access money when you need it, but not pay interest if you don’t. A lot of Canadians like the idea of rolling all their expenses and income into one account.

To figure out which option is best suited to you, contact me directly. Together we can assess your financial situation, put together a mortgage plan, and then see it through.

Questions on your mortgage, or want to compare your mortgage to what is currently available? Please email me.

Mortgage Broker Spruce GroveMortgage Broker Spruce Grove

4 Things You Can Do To Pay Your Mortgage Faster

Although getting a mortgage is exciting as it allows you to become a homeowner, a mortgage is, in fact, a lot of debt. So if you have a mortgage, your goal should be to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Here are four things you can do to help pay off your mortgage for good!

 

1. Accelerate your payments.

Making the change from monthly payments to accelerated bi-weekly payments is one of the easiest ways you can make a difference to the bottom line of your mortgage. Most people don’t even notice the difference.

A traditional mortgage splits the amount owing to 12 equal monthly payments. Accelerated biweekly is simply taking a regular monthly payment and dividing it in two, but instead of making 24 payments, you make 26. The extra two payments really accelerate the pay down of your mortgage.

2. Increase your regular mortgage payments.

Chances are you have the ability to increase your regular mortgage payment by 10-25%. This is a great option if you have some extra cash flow to spend in your budget. This money will go directly towards paying down the principal amount owing on your mortgage and isn’t a prepayment of interest.

3. Make a lump sum payment.

Depending on your lender and your mortgage product, you should be able to put down anywhere from 10-25% of the original mortgage balance. Some lenders are particular about when you can make these payments, however, if you haven’t taken advantage of a lump sum payment yet this year, you should be eligible.

4. Review your options regularly.

As your mortgage payments are withdrawn from your account on a set schedule, it’s easy to put your mortgage payments on auto-pilot, especially if you have opted for a longer term. This is why an annual review is a good idea, there may be opportunities to refinance and lower your interest rate.

The point of reviewing your mortgage annually is that you are conscious about making decisions regarding your mortgage and that you ensure you’ve always got the best mortgage for you!

Questions on your mortgage, or want to compare your mortgage to what is currently available? Please email me.
Mortgage Broker Spruce GroveMortgage Broker Spruce Grove

Is RIGHT NOW A Good Time To Buy?

Is RIGHT NOW a Good Time To Buy A Home?

If you’ve been thinking about buying a new (to you) property for whatever reason, the doom and gloom of the media might cause you to question a little; is right now a good time to buy?

Well…. what if that is the wrong question?

 

Inevitably, one media source will report that housing prices are ready to skyrocket, while at the same time, another news outlet will raise the alarm to brace for the inevitable housing crash of 2019.

The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to know for sure what’s going to happen with the housing market. Even when you check with the local experts, it’s hard to know what is going to happen next week, let alone in years to come. And “advice” from friends doesn’t usually pan out all that well. Instead of basing your buying decision on external market factors, consider asking yourself:

Is now a good time for me to buy a property?

When you stop looking at the market or opinions from others to determine your timing, and instead, examine your reasons for buying a property, the picture becomes much more clear. Here is a tidy list of things you should consider when thinking about buying a property. Although they are subjective, they are things you can control.

  • Does buying a new home now put me in a better financial position?
  • Do I feel comfortable with my current employment status?
  • Do I make enough money now to afford a new home and still be comfortable?
  • Have I saved enough money for a down payment?
  • What is the intended purpose of the property? Is it reasonable?
  • Is there any scenario where I might have to sell quickly and potentially lose money?
  • Do I want to buy, or am I feeling some pressure that if I don’t buy now, I might never be able to?
  • Am I scared that if I buy now, the market will crumble the second I do?

If you’d like someone to walk you through the process and outline your financial options, please get in touch to see what buying a property looks like for you.

 

Questions on your mortgage, or want to compare your mortgage to what is currently available? Please email me.

Mortgage Broker Spruce Grove Mortgage Broker Spruce Grove

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