22 Oct



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As a self-employed person myself, I was happy to hear that CMHC is willing to make some changes that will make it easier for us to qualify for a mortgage.
In an announcement on July 19, 2018, the CMHC has said “Self-employed Canadians represent a significant part of the Canadian workforce. These policy changes respond to that reality by making it easier for self-employed borrowers to obtain CMHC mortgage loan insurance and benefit from competitive interest rates.” — Romy Bowers, Chief Commercial Officer, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. These policy changes are to take effect Oct. 1, 2018.

Traditionally self-employed borrowers will write as many expenses as they can to minimize the income tax they pay each year. While this is a good tax-saving technique it means that often a realistic annual income can not be established high enough to meet mortgage qualification guidelines.
Plain speak, we don’t look good on paper.

Normally CMHC wants to see two years established business history to be able to determine an average income. But the agency said it will now make allowances for people who acquire existing businesses, can demonstrate sufficient cash reserves, who will be expecting predictable earnings and have previous training and education.
Take for example a borrower that has been an interior designer with a firm for the past eight years and in the same industry for the past 30 years, but just struck out on his own last year. His main work contract is with the firm he used to work for, but now he has the ability to pick up additional contracts from the industry in which he has vast connections.
Where previously he would have had to entertain a mortgage with an interest rate at least 1% higher than the best on the market and have to pay a fee, now he would be able to meet insurance requirements and get preferred rates.

The other change that CMHC has made is to allow for more flexible documentation of income and the ability to look at Statements of Business Professional Activity from a sole-proprietor’s income tax submission to support Add Backs of certain write-offs to support a grossing-up of income. Basically, recognizing that many write-offs are simply for tax-saving purposes and are not a reduction of actual income. This could mean a significant increase in income and buying power.

It is refreshing after years of government claw-backs and conservative policy changes to finally see the swing back in the other direction. Self-employed Canadians have taken on the burden of an often fluctuating income and responsible income tax management all for the ability to work for themselves. These measures will help them with the reward of being able to own their own home as well.

Kristin Woolard


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

17 Aug

Mortgage Moment: When Life Gives you Lemons…


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We all do it. Even I fall guilty to it at times. It’s really a part of Human Nature…and really what fun is life without it?

What exactly are we talking about? Dreaming. We make grand plans and lay them out with the utmost care. We write them out, daydream about them, and (hopefully) we make them come true! There is nothing wrong with doing this…not a single thing! However, as many of you know, rarely do the dreams and plans we lay out stay on course as we would like them to.

This holds true many times for mortgage clients. We find that many times, what they initially come to us with when they are being pre-approved, rarely is the same less than 3 years later (There’s a reason 6 out of 10 Canadians break their 5-year term mortgage early).

Recently, we had just this happen with one of our clients. A young, working professional couple, found themselves in a difficult situation when one of them was injured and went on long-term disability leave.

Their income took a significant drop due to this and their cash flow was of course, negatively impacted. They relied (as many people do) on credit cards and at one point also took out a line of credit. They were able to make minimum payments each month on their loans and debts, but the problem sat with the interest rates. They kept getting higher and the debt they carried wasn’t being reduced.

Basically, life had handed them some lemons.

At this point, they felt they were left with one option: seek private funding. The problem with this was fear of losing their home if they approached their lender. The interest rate quoted by the private lender was less than that on their credit cards, but still higher than what was reasonable. The couple felt that seeking to obtain a second mortgage would be the best-case scenario. However, with a rate of 10% plus a lender fee of up to 6% of the loan amount and a 1 year term with renewal fee of 1% for total amount borrowed, this was not at all ideal!

This is where we stepped in and decided to make some lemonade! Here is how the story played out once they came to see us:

  1. We were able to use the income received from disability and refinanced their existing mortgage
  2. We consolidated the credit card and line of credit debt at a rate of 2.35% in doing so we reduced their current monthly payments by $1500 with an annual savings of $18,000! Or $90,000 over five years!

Here is a brief number summary to give you the full recap:

Value of the Home: $525,000

Requested Mortgage Amount: $420,000

Loan to Value: 80%

Income Documentation:

  1. Letter of employment and pay stub
  2. Letter from insurance company detailing disability payments and confirmation of deposit into current bank account.

Credit Score: 746 & 676

Total Debt Service Ratios: 41%

Mortgage Solution: All debts were paid with proceeds from their 5-year variable-rate mortgage with a 30-year amortization. The annual savings was MORE THAN $18,000!

 We helped this couple get back on track and allowed them to keep on dreaming! We understand that life rarely will stay on course and go just as you picture it, but there is often a creative solution that can help you get back on track. If life has handed you a few lemons and you aren’t sure where to start, visit a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker—they can make some of the best lemonade!

Geoff Lee


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

10 Aug



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Recently, two of my lenders came out with new products – Interest only mortgages. We have had these available from private lenders for many years but at much higher interest rates. They are useful for real estate investors and people who have consolidated debts and need six months to a year to get back on their feet. These new mortgages are not meant to be short term solutions but they are meant to be used for a minimum of two years and preferably for five years.
So who in their right mind would want a mortgage for five years where the principal doesn’t go down?

1- real estate investors- some investors are looking for cash flow; this is a perfect product for them. They want to keep monthly payments to a minimum so that they ca use the extra cash to buy other properties, or for income to live on. They will eventually sell the properties for a lot more cash when they are ready to retire.

2- Seasonal workers- Lobster fisherman, lumberjacks , oil patch workers and workers in the trades who have to go back to school every year for three years are the people who this product works for. During spring break-up when the oil patch closes for several weeks , the bills don’t stop coming. Working with your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker you can design a mortgage to help you through the periods when there’s no income coming in. The best strategy for you may be to step up the mortgage as interest only and then have the broker calculate what a normal amortizing mortgage payment for you would be. During your period of no income, you pay the minimum payments and then when you get back to work, you bump your payment up to normal or even slightly higher to make up for the shortfall.

These interest only mortgages are available with a variable rate, a fixed rate , a variable interest only plus a fixed amortized rate or a combination of any of the above rates. This allows you and your broker to customize mortgage payments to make the best mortgage for your particular situation. It’s like a tailor-made suit. It’s exactly what you need. Contact your local DLC mortgage broker for more information .

David Cooke


Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
David is part of DLC Clarity Mortgages in Calgary, AB.

3 Aug

Grande Prairie tax rates vs Canada’s hottest Metro Centres


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Property Taxes in Canada’s hottest markets vs Grande Prairie

I’m sure you’ve all heard the rumours… Grande Prairie’s property tax rate is one of the highest in Alberta. Recently a very interesting article by Ephraim Vecina has been going around “Property taxes in Canada’s hottest metropolitan markets”. So I thought I would add some local flavour to this article.

When qualifying for a mortgage, the cost of carrying the property is included. This means local rates for electricity, heat, condo fee’s and property taxes all affect how much house you qualify for.

A smaller property tax is less money you pay each month, and also potentially an extra 10,000 or 20,000 on the amount of mortgage you can buy.


Here’s a quick summary of our local tax rates:

Property tax on a 1,000,000 home in Grande Prairie: 1.2864% ($12,864.50) at 1.2% our property taxes are definitely higher than in a lot of large centres. There is hope though. If you choose to live in the County of Grande Prairie: 0.4043% ($4043.6) your tax rates are a 1/3 of what you pay in the city.

                                     Town of Sexsmith: 0.7465% ($7,465.70)

                                     Clairmont : County tax rates 0.404% ($4,043.6)

                                      Peace River 1.2004%($12,049.3)

                                     Calgary: 0.65% ($6,500)

Edmonton: 0.8686% ($8,686.90)

You can find out the tax mill rate of any municipalty your intertested in living in by calling your local town council, and asking.

                                     Local tax Comparision by Jillian Napen 03 Aug 2018

Property taxes in Canada’s hottest metropolitan markets

Property taxes in CanadaIn a new report, real estate information portal Zoocasa compared the property tax rates of the nation’s hottest metropolitan housing markets, along with the widely varying economic fundamentals that underline these figures.

“Home buyers often focus on the home price when considering affordability, but often overlook the carrying costs such as property taxes, which can be a significant on-going expense,” Zoocasa noted as the motivation for the study.

Amid widespread concerns about housing costs and interest rates, Canadian home buyers have access to multiple locales of relative affordability – but these places are not necessarily those where property taxes are the lowest, Zoocasa stated.

Read more: Sudden price decline comes with great danger – MPC

Comparing the rates for each market as of July 2018, the cities with the lowest property taxes on a home assessed at $1 million are as follows:

  • Vancouver, British Columbia – 0.24683% ($2,468 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Abbotsford, British Columbia – 0.51300% ($5,130 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Victoria, British Columbia – 0.52035% ($5,204 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Kelowna, British Columbia – 0.52605% ($5,260 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Toronto, Ontario – 0.63551% ($6,355 in tax vs. a $1M home)

Meanwhile, the markets with the highest property tax rates were:

  • Saint John, New Brunswick – 1.78500% ($17,850 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick – 1.42110% ($14,211 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • London, Ontario – 1.35082% ($13,508 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Hamilton, Ontario – 1.26196% ($12,620 in tax vs. a $1M home)
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba – 1.24871% ($12,487 in tax vs. a $1M home)
25 Jul

Homes For Heroes


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A Calgary-based charitable foundation is set to break ground on a first-of-its-kind development aimed to help Canadian veterans, one tiny home at a time.

If Dave Howard had his way, the tiny home community project he has planned to help house homeless military veterans in Calgary would be in every major city across Canada.
As the president and co-founder of Homes for Heroes Foundation, a non-profit society, his idea is actually a pretty simple one. Take roughly 20 or 30 tiny homes, about 300 square feet in size, put them together on a small piece of land in the city and offer services like counselling and resources to help these war heroes get back on their feet.

Howard’s vision took a big step forward this spring when Homes for Heroes Foundation announced the first-of-its-kind community would soon break ground in Calgary’s Bridgeland community, on sub-leased land from the Canadian Institute for the Blind.

The first village will feature 20 tiny homes, a resource centre, and community gardens. Each tiny home will also include a memorial plaque in honour of a Canadian soldier who lost their life serving in Afghanistan.
The project for Howard is the culmination of a dozen years of charitable involvement in helping veterans in his community. And it’s definitely personal.

He became dedicated to the plight of veterans after an overnight stay with his estranged grandfather, a former Navy member. At the time, his grandfather was sleeping on a coach in a 200 square-foot room, having battled alcoholism once he returned to civilian life. While Howard explained his grandfather worked his way up to be president of a major company, he came back from service suffering from shell shock and fell all the way to the bottom because of alcohol.

Howard discovered his grandfather, who by this time was a security guard for the building of the company he was formerly president, had resorted to eating dog food out of can, and it shook him to the core.
“I realized there needed to be something done differently for veterans that are living in poverty and to help them get out of that.”
So 12 years ago, Howard started the Canadian Legacy Project which was tasked with advocating for Canadian veterans and creating programs to improve their lives.
The organization then partnered with Murray McCann and McCann family Foundation, a charity that funds a number of initiatives including the Field of Crosses Memorial Project and the placement of 500 crosses in a park on Memorial Drive, near downtown Calgary. Out of that partnership came Homes for Heroes.

Howard said they started looking at was being done for the veterans struggling to return to civilian life, and there wasn’t much. There were scattered facilities, but he found none that were offering full support services.
That’s when the two organizations came up with the idea of a community of tiny homes. As Howard explained, when veterans get accepted into the community, they’ll go through a detailed needs analysis and be provided counselling to help them get back to civilian life. The eventual goal is to have them get back to work and into a more permanent housing solution. Calgary-based The Mustard Seed will manage the social services, while residents will pay about $500 a month rent to live in each unit. Howard noted the rent will help cover the cost to maintain the community.

He said these 300 square foot units will have all the amenities of a larger home, but are also the perfect size for someone coming off the streets.
“The idea is for them to have their own space that is significant enough to have guests over but it’s also part of a community,” Howard said, adding he believes the problem of homeless veterans could be solved within six years with this type of community.

There are an estimated 2,500 homeless veterans in Canada, and another 160 in Calgary. However, Howard believes the number is much higher suggesting most veterans don’t like to self-identify out of pride and fear of losing what benefits they might have.
There are plans for a second community in Calgary and also one in Edmonton. The first project is expected to cost about $2 million to build and another $500,000 in a trust to keep the community operating in the future. Much of the funding comes from private companies including a $1.5 million donation from ATCO, an Alberta-based energy and logistics company.

Howard is confident the model could work across the country and he’s hoping to eventually see two tiny communities helping veterans in each major city across Canada. And he’s urging municipalities across the country to take note of the model, noting cities would only need to lend a portion of unused land for a few years. The communities can be erected and then dismantled in only a few short months.
“It is an answer to a lot of other issues,” he said. “This can fit a lot of demographics and I think municipalities would be wise to look at it and say ‘we should be doing this.’”

The project is drawing praise from local organizations that work with veterans, including Calgary’s Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund.
John Rathwell, the general manager of the poppy fund and veteran’s food bank, believes the model will be successful in helping veterans get back on their feet.
“Veterans are a proud sort, no veteran I know likes to ask for help,” he said. “This assistance, giving them a place of purpose and even training and support within their own peer groups… can help them move on whether it be through job counselling, mental and physical issues, and just giving them a sense of belonging.”
“This place will be important because it will now be a place they can call their home,” Rathwell said. “They were living on the streets where nobody knew or cared who they were and they’ll be able to take pride and help regain their self-esteem and be able to successfully transition back into civilian life.”

Jeremy Deutsch


Communications Advisor

More Posts – Website

25 Jul

Northern Alberta Tiny Home Finance


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Tiny Homes  and getting them financed in Northern Alberta

Now I’m a big fan of the tiny home movement. I think that simple lifestyle, so minimalist is… very tempting. The only real problem is that there is a disturbing lack of tiny home developments up here in Northern Alberta!

Our House Magazine (which we give away free at our office in Downtown Grande Prairie) recently ran an article on a new tiny home development and charity in Calgary. “Tiny Homes for Heroes”

I’ve posted the article on another blog for today, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get a tiny homes community going here in Grande Prairie too!

The Challenge of Financing a tiny home

Financing a tiny home has some challenges. Here in Canada, most Tier A lenders (The big banks) want a single family home to be a minimum of a 1000 square feet, before lending. Lenders assume a smaller home is a cheaper, older home, with few upgrades.

So how are people getting tiny homes built if financing is so difficult?

Option 1 – Start a charity

Well, this is what our friends in Calgary did. Tiny homes, the 200-300 square feet version’s are fairly cheap to build. Fundraising enough money to build several little homes in a community format work’s well, and a normally sized plot for one home can support several tiny homes. This option is hard for most of us dreaming minimalist though. I want to live in a tiny house…. not just help build them!

Option 2 – Buy Raw Land and Start your own tiny home community

Most city’s have these pesky things called bylaws. They tell us the minimum size our house should be, what the proper ceiling height is, and how large windows need to be for fire code. For our safety, or so that all of the homes look nice and uniform… these bylaws make it difficult to find a place to build your tiny house!

Some developers and tiny home enthusiast’s have gotten around this by declaring their plot of land mobile home parks. If a tiny home is built on a trailer, different bylaws apply that are more favourable to a small home. Why build just one tiny home, when you can build a community?

Option 3 -The Easiest Financing Method

Grande Prairie’s rental market has less than 1% Vacancies right now. (July 2018)  A carriage house is a garage with living quarters, and that is something we can finance or refinance into your existing mortgage. So maybe you just design a garage that can be easily converted into a tiny home!

The downside is your sharing your lot, but you get to live in a tiny home, and have rental income! Later on, if you find the tiny home lifestyle isn’t as grand as you thought, you can always move back into the main house. Or move your kids into the tiny home.

Option 4 – Lobby our city hall representatives to make zoning exceptions for tiny homes

One day maybe! Now Calgary and Vancouver each have several bylaws designed to allow tiny homes in various communities throughout these two cities!

In the meantime, give our office a call to discuss options that may work for you!

Jillian Napen

Tiny Home Enthusiast, and Office Manager at Dominion Lending Centres
Ht Mortgage Group, 101 10001 100 ave Grande Prairie
July 25, 2018


1 May

Quick Intro- Jodi Scotton Grande Prairie Mortgage Agent


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Jodi Scotton Grande Prairie Mortgage Broker

Jodi has been helping families get their dream homes for over 10 years now. Previously Jodi was a Scotiabanker, and this industry insider knowledge will walk you through purchasing or refinancing your next home, easily and seamlessly.

“I grew up in Peace River, moved to Grande Prairie in 2014, this is my market. I understand what it’s like living in the peace and getting financing up here in Northern Alberta. With my expert advice I’ll make your home purchase simple.

My husband Dale and I have been married for 10 years with our beautiful little Izzy. I always look forward to warm Summer Months when we can spend time outside having BBQ’s and fires with family and friends.

I look forward to meeting with you and your family, giving you the ability to buy your newest dream home.”

Give Jodi a call today, and walk into your dream home tomorrow!  

2 Apr

Daina Stringer – April 2018 Spring Clean here in Grande Prairie

Daina Stringer

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Daina Stringer, our mortgage associate of the week gives us mortgage tips for spring in Grande Prairie:

Jill – Daina springs just around the corner, have you been noticing an increase in people looking for mortgages?

Daina –Yes!! We definitely have. Spring is always a good time to start looking.

Jill – Well any tips for people here in Grande Prairie who are looking to purchase a home this spring? What can they do to make everything go smoothly?

Daina –Save for your down payment, pay down debt and file your taxes to make your financing a smooth process.

Jill – Any big plans for spring this year? Ready to clean all that clutter?

Daina- No big plans since this is a busy time of year for those of us in the mortgage industry, but it is a great time to paint that room, clean up your yard or simply do some Spring cleaning.

Daina Stringer Dominion Lending Centres HT Mortgage Groups associate of the week! She makes moving in the spring easy, so give our office a call today to start your spring move!

Our office: 780-513-6611
Daina’s Cell: 587-343-1612

26 Mar

Chanele discuss’s Fixed vs Variable mortgage rates

Chanele Langevin

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This week Chanele Langevin is our broker of the week here in Grande Prairie at the Dominion Lending Centres HT Mortgage Group. Here she is to answer your questions!

Should I go with a Fixed Rate or a Variable Rate on my mortgage?

Well, let’s talk about each type of mortgage in a little more depth.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a fixed rate mortgage?

Your interest rate and your mortgage payments won’t change until it’s time to renew your mortgage. The security and comfort of knowing your payments won’t change is valuable to many people. That said, you will likely pay a slightly higher premium to enjoy that peace of mind and, in the event of contract disruption, your penalties may be steeper.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a variable rate mortgage?

The interest rates offered by variable rate mortgages are typically lower; however, there is no guarantee that your rate won’t change. Therefore, you might save money on interest but that’s not a certainty as rates are unpredictable. That said, keep in mind that your interest rate can often be locked at a fixed rate at any time during your term.

Essentially, your choice to lock in a fixed rate or gamble and take the chance to save thousands of dollars in interest is a personal preference. Your main concern should be: how comfortable am I with uncertainty, and what does my budget allows if the rate floats?

And that is why we’re here! We guide and inform our valued customers so you get the best mortgage product for your family’s needs.

Chanele Langevin, Mortgage Agent
Dominion Lending Centres Ht Mortgage Group
101 10001 100 Ave
Grande Prairie, AB