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Refinancing Could be the Key to a Lighter Debt Load

This is an article that was published with the Cambridge Times on October 1, 2017, featuring our very own, Tracy Valko:   Tracy Valko of Dominion Lending Centres in Kitchener, Ontario, reminds homeowners that the solution to non-mortgage debt could be a lot closer to home than they think. Equifax Canada, which provides consumers credit bureau information, says that non-mortgage debt has risen 3.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2017- which is alarming, because household debt in Canada is already at al all-time high and many people are living paycheque to paycheque to make ends meet. However, if you’re having trouble making minimum payments on credit cards and other loans, the solution may be your mortgage equity.  If you’ve owned your home for some time, or even if you’re a relatively new home-owner and your property has increased in value substantially, you might be able to tap into …
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Time to Lock in a Variable Rate Mortgage?

Approximately 32 per cent of Canadians are in a variable rate mortgage, which with rates effectively declining steadily for the better part of the last ten years has worked well. Recent increases triggers questions and concerns, and these questions and concerns are best expressed verbally with a direct call to your independent mortgage expert – not directly with the lender. There are nuances you may not think to consider before you lock in, and that almost certainly will not be primary topics for your lender. Over the last several years there have been headlines warning us of impending doom with both house price implosion, and interest rate explosion, very little of which has come to fruition other than in a very few localized spots and for short periods of time thus far. Before accepting what a lender may offer as a lock in rate, especially if you are considering freeing …
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Credit Scores: Here’s what you need to know

The interest rate you pay on loans for every major purchase you make throughout your lifetime depends on various factors, and is dependent on your creditworthiness – everything from the mortgage on your home to your car loan to your line of credit. And, given today’s ever-changing mortgage requirements and rising interest rate environment, your credit score has become even more important. Your first step towards credit awareness and wellbeing is to know where you stand. Request a free copy of your credit report online from the two Canadian credit-reporting agencies – Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada – at least once a year. This will also help verify that your personal information is up to date and ensure you haven’t been the victim of identity fraud.   Newly established credit If you’re new to credit, you may wonder why your credit score pales in comparison to your friend’s. Payment history …
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Bank of Canada Rate Change: Here’s what you need to know

As a home owner, or someone who is looking at purchasing a home, you’re probably wondering what today’s announcement from the Bank of Canada really means.  Today, for the first time in 7 years, the key interest rate was increased by a 1/4 percent, setting the rate at 0.75%.  This directly changes the Prime lending rate, which Banks and Mortgage Lenders use to set their rates. It’s no secret that the housing market here in Canada has been hot. In the Waterloo Region alone we have seen prices increase month over month by over 30%, according to the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS®. Since the Bank of Canada has held the key interest rate for so long, it is only natural that in a strong economy this rate would eventually increase.  Current mortgage rates have been affected by the market as well: rates have been inflated because of market pricing, and …
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Make Your Voice Heard About Affordable Homes

As you may know, the government has made changes to the rules and regulations around qualifying for mortgage financing last year. We are very proud that Tracy has joined forces with Mortgage Professionals Canada, attempting to drive positive change for Canadians. If you have been affected by these changes in any way, now is your time to speak up! www.tellyourmp.ca is a simple and easy way to express your concerns to those who need to hear it most. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, or looking to refinance – make your voice be heard!  

Thinking about putting in a firm offer? Make sure you read this first.

The market is constantly changing these days, so if you asked me about affordability just a few weeks ago, I would have had a different answer, as the seller’s market has quickly shifted to a buyer’s market – for now, anyway. The key difference is that the inventory of available houses on the market in the Kitchener-Waterloo area – and many other places across the province – has kicked into high gear. This spring, many first-time homebuyers were quickly being priced out of the market due to multiple bidding scenarios that saw houses sell well over their asking prices. This was not an ideal situation for any buyer – let alone first-time buyers on a particularly tight budget. And while affordability was going by the wayside just a few weeks ago, so too were having a condition of financing and a home inspection included in the purchase offer. Weighing the …
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Mortgage Pre-approval is Not What You Expect

Although going through the pre-approval process is more important than ever, the actual term ‘pre-approval’ is often misleading. It really addresses just a few variables that may arise once in the middle of an actual offer. The pressure in many markets has never been greater to write a condition-free offer, yet due to recent changes to lending guidelines by the federal government, the importance of a clause in the contract along the lines of ‘subject to receiving and approving satisfactory financing’ has also never been greater. (There are variations to be discussed with your Realtor around the specific wording of such clauses.)

Renting vs. Buying – A Question Everyone is Asking

By Caroline Harvey In today’s crazy real estate market it is, without a doubt, tougher for first-time buyers to hop into the market and purchase their first home. Some would suggest to keep renting until the market cools to prevent paying inflated prices.  Others would say to take your savings and invest in real estate now because the market will continue to grow and become hotter and hotter in the coming years. First-time buyers, like all buyers have a wish list. This will almost always include a typical detached home with an attached garage, in a lovely family neighborhood similar to what they grew up in – somewhere they can raise a family and live for 20 years.  These types of properties are hard to attain on your first purchase, and in today’s market especially, concessions will likely have to be made. It is never a bad idea to invest …
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Effect of foreign buyer tax still uncertain

On April 21, Toronto became the second Canadian city to implement a ‘foreign buyer tax’. The impact that the 15 per cent tax on residential real estate will have on the market remains to be seen. The fact remains that Toronto’s residential real estate supply remains at a 37-year low, and economics 101 taught us that reduced supply results in increased prices. Trying to tackle the problem of rapidly rising house prices from the demand side is popular when it is a method that primarily impact ‘other people’, especially outsiders who we grant less of a right to real estate ownership. Understandably we favour locals, or at least a definition of ‘local’ that resonates with voters. Vancouver was first to this approach in August of 2016, although the results remain unclear. The stats on the impact were skewed as many of the transactions set to close in the months following …
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Playing with “house money”

How much of the current record-setting price gains in several Ontario and BC markets are self perpetuating? That is, ‘I just got paid $100,000 over asking, so now I too will pay $100,000 over asking…’ After all it is ‘found money’ – easy come easy go. For those of you smart enough to avoid the casino, you may not be familiar with the term house money. This describes a players winnings, gambling with said winnings – with the house money rather than their own. Of course it is actually the players money, it is in their hands not the ‘houses‘, but it arrived easily and quickly and thus no deep attachment has formed – unlike with hard earned and slowly built up savings. And we humans often take bigger chances with ‘found money’. The effect can be seen in stock markets as well. Strong market performance will change an individuals …
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