You just got a mortgage. Now what?

Written by Mustapha Maynard. Posted in Mustapha's Blog

Mortgages are a funny thing. On the one hand they allow you to become a home owner without saving up enough money to purchase the home outright, which is a really good thing. On the other hand, even at today’s really low interest rates, as they are amortized over a really long time (most of the time 25 years), they can cost you a lot more money in the long run. With the government tightening mortgage qualification, chances are securing your most recent mortgage wasn’t a painless process.
So now that you finally have a mortgage, and you’re a home owner, the first thing you should do is figure out how to get rid of your mortgage! Here are 4 ways you can do that!

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 into 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.

Unless you opted for a “no-frills” mortgage, 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. The more money you can pay down when you first get your mortgage the better, as it has a compound effect, meaning you will pay less interest over the life of your mortgage.
Also, by voluntarily increasing your mortgage payment, it’s kinda like signing up for a long term forced savings plan where equity builds in your house rather than your bank account.

Again, unless you have a “no-frills” mortgage, you should be able to make bulk payments to your mortgage. 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 will be eligible.

As your mortgage payments are withdrawn from your account regularly, it’s easy to simply put your mortgage payments on auto-pilot, especially if you have opted for a 5 year fixed term. Regardless of the terms of your mortgage, it’s a good idea to give your mortgage an annual review. There may be opportunities to refinance and lower your interest rate, or maybe not, but the point of reviewing your mortgage annually, is that you are conscious about making decisions regarding your mortgage.

If you have any questions about your mortgage, how to get a mortgage, or how to get rid of the mortgage you have, please don’t hesitate to contact me today

What’s on your bucket list?

Written by Mustapha Maynard. Posted in Mustapha's Blog

What’s on your bucket list?
Your bucket list includes all the goals you want to achieve, and the life experiences and
dreams you want to fulfill. It’s often viewed as a “to‐do” list for the golden years of
retirement, but your bucket list can also include items that you can fulfill now or in the near
future. Financial resources are often needed to knock items off your list, which is why your
mortgage should always be a top focus. Your mortgage is the cornerstone of a sound
financial plan, and can help you take control of your financial future so you’ll be better able
to achieve all that is on your list.
Here are some tips to help you do just that!
 Speed up your mortgage paydown. Try to find a way to use your prepayment
privileges every year… at least once. Tax refund, financial gift, small inheritance… or
just being more disciplined with your savings.
 Deal with high interest debt. If your credit card balance is more than you can pay off
in the next few months – and especially if you have other loans – then you need to start
a paydown plan. The right debt consolidation strategy could save you thousands and
put you on the right financial path.
 Sharpen your focus at renewal. When your lender sends you a letter saying it’s time
to renew… then it’s time to get an expert second opinion. Make sure you’re getting the
best deal possible!
 Renovating over relocating. The right renovation might be all it takes to turn the
house you’re in, into the home of your dreams. It is almost always less expensive to
renovate than to relocate! There are great financing options available if that’s what’s in
your future this year!
 Take care of your credit. It’s so important to have good credit behaviours so you
always qualify for the best mortgage rate. Pay your bills on time. Don’t let your credit
accounts exceed 30% of the credit available. Before you cancel any credit cards, get
advice. And don’t apply for a store card just to save on your purchase that day!
 Choose low‐interest debt. Whatever your need might be – funding education, a large
purchase, investments, renovations, or paying down debt, your mortgage might be your
most cost‐effective financing option.
 Don’t leave money on the table. If you bought your first home last year, you may be
able to take advantage of the $5,000 non‐refundable Home Buyer Tax Credit amount,
which provides up to $750 in federal tax relief. Not sure if you qualify, ask!
 Separation or divorce? Your home can be the asset that gives you both a fresh start.
And if one of you wants to keep the marital home, there are some great mortgage
options available!
 Mortgage checkup. Get one every year, no matter where you are in your mortgage.
Your car gets taken in for regular servicing; shouldn’t your financial future get the same
kind of attention?
When you take responsibility for your life and your finances, you can achieve all that is on
your bucket list. Your mortgage is a key component, and I’m here to help make sure it will
get you where you want to go!

Time to renew your mortgage? Here’s how to walk away with a better deal

Written by Mustapha Maynard. Posted in Mustapha's Blog

21 days: that’s how much notice your lender has to give you legally before your mortgage renewal date.

The news may come months earlier in the mail or by email, but when it does arrive remember you and your mortgage broker have the power. This is your chance to shop around and find a lower interest rate.

When you receive your notice of mortgage renewal, your lender will make it easy for you to simply renew at a predetermined rate.

Keep in mind, this is the rate your lender prefers and is almost never the best deal for you. Even if the deal looks decent, that mortgage product may not be the best fit for you in the long run.

If you review your mortgage documents, you’ll know exactly when you’re due to renew. Don’t wait for your lender to let you know so you’ll have lots of time to find the best deal; call your mortgage broker several months before the deadline.

Brokers like Mortgage Architects often have access to mortgage products not available directly to consumers. We hunt down the best deal and put several of the best options on the table, including offers from your existing mortgage lender. You’ll get unbiased advice from a qualified professional, and calling us could save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest in the long run.

Get those fees paid for

If you do change mortgage lenders, you may be looking at some extra costs. Your old and new lenders may want to charge you administration fees and transfer costs. Remember, lenders want your business. Ask your broker to negotiate with the new lender to cover the costs of switching.

New mortgage, new choices

Your mortgage renewal period is a chance for you to make key changes to your mortgage agreement, as well as finding a better deal. Consider these factors:

  • Can your budget support larger mortgage payments (especially if you’ve secured a cheaper interest rate)? If so, consider increasing your regular payment amount to pay off your mortgage quicker and with less interest.
  • Do you want to change how often you pay? For example, changing your monthly payment to payments every two weeks can save you interest in the long run.
  • Do you want to make lump sum payments? If so, make sure you’ll face minimal extra fees when making prepayments.

Remember if you don’t respond to your lender by your renewal date your mortgage may be automatically renewed; likely at a rate that’s good for your lender’s bottom line, not yours.

Get the best deal and the best advice possible when renewing your mortgage – contact me today.

CMHC Releases Results of Its House Price Analysis and Assessment Framework for Canada and Major Markets

Written by Mustapha Maynard. Posted in Mustapha's Blog

Results from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) House Price Analysis and Assessment (HPAA) framework were released today indicating that overall, housing markets in Canada remain broadly consistent with underlying demographic and economic factors such as employment and interest rates. Nevertheless, a modest amount of overvaluation is observed, meaning that house prices are slightly higher than what the underlying factors would suggest

“CMHC is committed to expanding the availability of information about Canada’s housing markets. This knowledge will ultimately contribute to a stronger housing finance system,” said Evan Siddall, President and Chief Executive Officer of CMHC. “The HPAA adds to CMHC’s efforts to identify, and where appropriate, fill significant data and information gaps.”

The HPAA is a comprehensive framework that is designed to assess housing market conditions by taking into consideration the economic, financial and demographic drivers of housing markets. The use of multiple indicators of housing conditions, which incorporate various data sources and prices measures, provides a robust picture of overall housing market conditions. The results released today include those for the national market as well as 8 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) — Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Québec and Halifax.

“At the national level, other than a modest amount of overvaluation, we do not detect the presence of other risk factors such as overheating, price acceleration, and overbuilding,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist. “Risk of overvaluation is most evident in Montreal and Quebec, but the trend is improving. A modest risk of overvaluation is also present in Toronto, Calgary and Halifax. Across the 8 CMAs examined, there is no overheating or acceleration.”

“There is however a cautionary note with respect to overbuilding in Toronto and Montreal. The number of units under construction is elevated in these centres. This could develop into overbuilding if these units are completed but not sold. To mitigate this risk, builders will need to hit the appropriate balance in channeling new demand between units that are currently under construction but not sold and units that are in the planning stage,” noted Mr. Dugan.

This is the first phase of information being released as part of the HPAA Framework. Additional, market-specific analysis will be released as available, with future reporting taking place on a semi-annual basis starting in Q1 and Q3 of 2015. Updates will also be available as part of CMHC’s Housing Market Outlook which will be published in Q2 and Q4 in 2015.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC continually works to increase the amount of available data and analysis on the housing market.

CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of high quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.

Don’t Forget to Budget for Hidden Pre-Construction Condos Costs

Written by Mustapha Maynard. Posted in Mustapha's Blog

Don’t Forget to Budget for Hidden Pre-Construction Condos Costs


By Andrew Harrild,


One way first-time homebuyers are getting into the Canadian real estate market is by buying pre-construction condos; this is especially true in the Toronto condo market, but we see it in Halifax too. These brand new, never-before-lived-in condos are sold before the building is even finished, which gives buyers time to save more money and get their mortgage financing together. Unfortunately, when the closing day on a pre-construction condo arrives, there may be a number of additional fees that pop up, and they’re not exactly cheap. If you’re thinking of buying a pre-construction condo in Halifax, here are four extra costs you should be prepared to budget for:


1. Pre-Construction Condo Finishes


Have you walked through a model suite for a pre-construction condo building? They are gorgeous – mostly because they include the top upgrades and highest quality finishes. Well, you might be surprised to find out that what you see in the model suite isn’t what you’ll be getting in your unit. Many developers switch out the beautiful finishes you were expecting with finishes they describe as “of a similar standard”. To ensure you know what you are getting with your unit, read the fine print in the “features and finishes schedule”. If you want to make any upgrades, be prepared for the costs (and your budget) to go up.

2. Pre-Construction Condo Material Changes


On a similar note, the developer could also make a few material changes that you may not expect – and they could either help or hurt your budget. For example, the floors they planned to use may have been discontinued and the new floors may be cheaper – that’d be great, if it lowered your overall costs. However, the opposite could also occur and you may have to pay the developer for any additional material costs they need to buy. To avoid this altogether, make sure you are aware of what counts as a material change. You should consult a real estate lawyer (which means you’ll need to pay legal fees) before you decide to buy a pre-construction condo.

3. Pre-Construction Condo Development Charges


One of the more expensive charges to watch out for is development charges. On closing day, builders will often pass on these additional charges, such as utility connections and landscaping fees, to the buyer. These development charges can add up to between $5,000 and $20,000 – on top of the purchase price of your condo – and must be paid in order to register the title in your name. In your contract, make sure these costs are capped, and read the fine print of the contract (with your lawyer’s help) to ensure the developer can’t get around the cap. (Note that these charges are extra costs that only apply to pre-construction condos – you’d never see them in a resale condo transaction.)

4. Taxes on Your Pre-Construction Condo


When you buy a pre-construction condo in Nova Scotia, you may have to pay HST on the purchase price. This all depends on whether or not the developer includes it in the purchase price – some do and some do not – so it’s important to get clarification, as the numbers add up fast. For example, the HST on a $300,000 pre-construction condo in Halifax would amount to $45,000 (HST is 15%). The good news is you may be eligible for a partial rebate. In Nova Scotia, you can fill out a few forms to claim an 18.75% rebate (to a max of $3,000) of the HST amount you had to pay upfront.

Now, none of this is to say you shouldn’t buy pre-construction condos or other property types – we simply want all buyers to be aware of the additional costs that come with doing so, so you can save more and have a cushion in your budget for them. If you’re considering buying a pre-construction condo in Halifax, make sure you have a good mortgage broker and real estate lawyer on your side, and that you do your research, read the fine print, save extra money and ask developer’s some tough questions. Good luck!



Who’s Better? The Bank or the Broker

Written by Mustapha Maynard. Posted in Mustapha's Blog

The broker works for you.  The bank doesn’t.The right mortgage is a critical factor determining long-term savings. The value of a professional mortgage broker comes from having someone who objectively works for you and is not limited to mortgage product offerings from one source; like a bank.

Advice on choosing the right mortgage option considers interest rate, payment privileges, payment penalties, long term savings and much more.

Take a look at the differences between my services & the bank’s services

You never have to worry about a better mortgage on the market – you will have it.  I work to find you the best solution. Call me today!