A BRIDE AND A MORTGAGE BROKER – OUR HOUSE MAGAZINE
Dominion Lending Centres’ leading lady in the new national commercial campaign has a few questions of her own. As a young Canadian looking to get into the housing market, Laura Steponchev has a candid Q&A with one of our pro’s.
You could say Laura Steponchev is a pretty typical Canadian millennial. The aspiring actress moved to Toronto from Regina five years ago to pursue her career. And over the years, she’s moved around quite a bit. Steponchev lived on her own for a while, and loved it, but paying the bills was tough and she needed to be more reasonable. She got a roommate, but he moved in with his fiancé, and she moved out of that condo and into an old house in Greektown with four other roommates. She eventually met her boyfriend, and they soon moved in together. The couple decided they wanted a place of their own, so they moved into his parents’ house in the ‘burbs.
“Living with your partner comes with its own troubles, but living together with your inlaws – that’s a whole new ballgame,” she said.
Steponchev wants to get into the market, but she’s got a lot of questions.
Our House Magazine teamed up with Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker to answer some of those questions and help Steponchev on the path to homeownership.
Q. I understand that first-time homebuyers are granted a five-per-cent down payment – I am not a first-time buyer any more. What am I looking to save for a down payment now?
A. First-time homebuyers are not the only ones who can purchase a home with as little as five per cent down. As long as the home you are purchasing will be your residence, you can still put only five percent down. But all lenders and mortgage insurers (CMHC, Genworth and Canada Guaranty) will want you to have an additional 1.5 per cent of the purchase price to ensure you can cover closing costs such as legal fees, Property Transfer Tax, Land Title registration etc.
Q. What’s the minimum down payment you would recommend to have before looking?
A. As long as you have the minimum five per cent down and 1.5 per cent of the purchase price for closing costs, that’s all a lender and mortgage insurer will want you to have. However, I recommend having a bit more as a buffer against unexpected costs. Remember, with a move there are utility hook-up costs, moving costs, home inspection and so on. Having an additional $5,000 above your down payment and lender-required 1.5 per cent will help make it a smoother move.
Q. What kinds of interest rates are we looking at?
A. Rates will vary day-to-day, but we are still at almost historical lows right now, and they are on the rise. Rates are offered and guaranteed for a period of time called a term. Terms can vary from one to 10 years with some lenders and are priced according to each individual lender’s pricing structure.
The most popular are five-year fixed and five-year variable. Where right now we see five-year fixed rates as low as 3.04 per cent and five-year variable rates as low as 2.36 per cent for qualified applicants, be aware that it is not all about rate. Some of the more appealing lower rate offerings come with additional terms that may not work for you, such as higher penalty structures or bona fide sale clauses that could have you stuck if you want or need to pay out your mortgage mid term.
As always, it is advisable to speak with an experienced mortgage broker to find out more about the terms of any rate offering to make sure you know all the implications that could apply to your situation.
Q. Realistically, what should our budget be?
A. Conservatively, the government has said that 35 per cent of your combined annual gross income should be enough to cover property expenses (mortgage payment, property taxes, condo fees, heating costs), and 42 per cent of your gross annual income needs to be enough to cover the property expenses plus any other credit payments (loans, credit cards, lines of credit).
In reality, every person’s situation is different, so, before you decide to take the leap into home ownership, it is a good exercise to detail your current budget to get a starting point for what supports a comfortable lifestyle. Be sure to include a savings plan into that monthly budget, not only for retirement but you will likely have maintenance costs with your new home or you may want to do some updating.
Now replace your rent payment with property costs (detailed above) and see how your monthly cash flow will be. Is it comfortable, or would you be pinched? Ultimately, it is no fun to be house rich and cash poor, so, if you would feel pinched, it might be an idea to downsize your purchase price to a more realistic level.
Q. In this economy and as a millennial, we’re told that owning a home is a very distant reality (especially due to that darned avocado toast).
Are our dreams of owning our own place just that – dreams?
A. Not at all! In my experience, millennial’s are very determined when they set their sights on a goal and really just need enough information to formulate a realistic plan. If a home purchase is in your future, my recommendation is to get in touch with a mortgage broker and start building that plan – sooner rather than later.
You may already be qualified and just don’t know it, or there may be tips and tricks you are unaware of that could bring that dream closer sooner. Or it may be that it could take you a year or two to get into a really strong position to enter the market. You just won’t know until you try.
I can tell you personally, it is a very satisfying professional experience when I work with clients from dream to reality, not matter how long it takes. It’s an exciting experience every time!