Moving to YYC: How to buy ASAP

Moving to Calgary and Buying a Homes As Soon As Possible

This is a common question, and as usual, the way the banks / lenders want things done is exactly the opposite of what works in real life, for real people, like you.

You Want: To buy a home in Calgary, move the family in, get settled and then start the new job – RIGHT! That makes the most sense.

The Lenders want:

  • You to have 1 full-cycle payslip BEFORE then will fund your mortgage and
  • You to be completed the 90 day probation if you have a probationary clause in your new employment

Why?

PAYSLIP: The first full-cycle pay-slip – meaning 2 full weeks of pay – critically needs to match your employment letter / job offer at 40.00 hours; or whatever it is that you are guaranteed for pay. If it does not match, then your income is not guaranteed, and the lenders want to see guaranteed pay.

39.97 hours is not 40.00 hours; it means the 40 hours is not guaranteed and the lenders often decline to fund your mortgage.

PROBATION: In Alberta, you can be let go for no reason in the first 90 days of employment – even if you are NOT on probation. It does not matter if there is/not a reason, it is the law.

Obviously, if you just moved here, bought a home and are let go, the odds of you moving back are high. And the bank is left in the risky position of losing money on the home or making an early CMHC claim. Which is why they want to see either: NO probation, or a shortened & completed probation period, or a completed probation period.

Work-Arounds:

  • Workaround 1: We recommend and often see new employees specifically asking for no or short probation periods. You are taking the risk moving here, the employer is often willing to waive the probation – which can be the key to speeding a home purchase.
  • Workaround 2: Depending on how your math works out, you may be able to carry 2 mortgages at 1 time. There are 2nd Home Programs that can work for situations like this, but again, the math is different for everyone.

How to make the move as smooth as possible

The smoothest way to buy a home when relocating is to start the job first. Ask for the employer to waive or shorten the probation period. Then rent, stay with friends, or anything that works for the first 2 or 3 weeks. Then when you have a full-cycle pay slip you can buy a home that works for you and take possession as soon as possible is a much smoother transaction. Otherwise you are “trying to push a rope up a hill” and the bank’s don’t like that at all.

We see issues with people buying too soon all the time. Forcing the system often backfires on new home owners. The resulting brain damage is not worth trying to do the transaction backwards in the eyes of the banks.

Mark Herman; top Calgary Alberta Mortgage Broker, with best rates

Newly increased fees for home buyers – comments

The new fees are not that big a deal. It will add a bit but not much. All the news is just noise by the press looking to turn out an easy article. Below are my comments that will be in the Calgary Sun this week.

Mark Herman, top Calgary Alberta mortgage broker for home purchase mortgage and renewal mortgages.

The additional $1,925 added to mortgage costs ends up costing an extra $8.81 a month for a $450k purchase – the average home price in Calgary – with 5 per-cent down on the maximum 25 year amortization.

“This really should not be that big a deal in the overall picture. We’re talking about the most expensive purchase most people make. An extra $2450 should not be a deal breaker. If it is, the buyers should really second think their continued ability to afford a home, especially if you consider that interest rates are at all-time 115-year lows. A rate increase, even back to what is considered the theoretical minimum of 4 pre-cent for the 5-year fixed, closed mortgage, should be considered more than this minor cost increase.”

For an average home at $450,000, the new increases with the budget for land title registration cost AND the new CMHC insurance premium for 5% down – from 3.15% to 3.6%:

The increase in the CMHC fee goes to $15,390 from $13,466 or an increase of $1,925.

The increase in the land title registration cost – attached – is an extra $525.

Total increase is $2,450 or 0.5% total increase in the costs to buy a home with 5% down payment.

Really not a big deal when you consider:

  • Alberta does not have a 1% property transfer tax like B.C. and Ontario
  • The cost for registration and land titles was cut by Ralph Klein years ago and has not increased since
  • Buying a home for almost half a million dollars has only increased by 0.5% and
  • Mortgage rates are at, and continue to hold at, now record lows; most mortgage broker rates are 2.69% for a full featured, 5 year mortgage with all the bells and whistles.

Fee increases may cause sticker shock for potential Calgary homebuyers

Fee hikes in Thursday’s provincial budget will add more than $1,000 to the cost of buying an average home in Alberta …

… The province said several real estate-related fees will increase effective July 1. Among the announced changes, the transfer/title creation flat fee rises from $50 to $75, while the variable fee will jump from $1 to $6 for each $5,000 in home value. Mortgage registration fees are to increase the same amount.

On a $450,000 mortgage, that would mean an increase from $140 to $540 for each.

“Unfortunately, these fees are assessed at the end of the real estate transaction and so are not included in the purchase price of the house, nor can they be rolled into the mortgage, so homebuyers will need to come up with that extra cost,” Copeland said.

Corinne Lyall, president of the Calgary Real Estate Board, said the government has kept fees low for some time. This is the first time since 2011 that the flat fee for property and mortgage registrations has increased.

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

Twitter.com/MTone123

Downtown living the ‘new normal’

This is more support for central/ down town  condos in Calgary supporting their prices as more people move to the core to avoid the commute.

Mark Herman, Calgary Alberta mortgage broker


Downtown living the ‘new normal,’ report says

Employers move to urban cores to attract qualified workers, retail follows.

Homeowners choosing urban living over suburbia is a key trend in Canada’s real estate market and is helping drive both retail and commercial development in city cores, according to a report. …

“Younger workers in particular — though not exclusively — continue to flock to the urban core, preferring to work where they live, rather than take on long commutes,” the report says.

Members of the millennial generation are not the only ones giving up the more generous living space of suburbia for downtown living. Baby boomers with empty nests and the generation following the millennials, which the report calls “Generation Z,” are also joining the trend …

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/downtown-living-the-new-normal-report-says-1.2815490

Calgary – #1 for Real Estate Investment

Once again, Calgary has been ranked as the top real estate investment market in the country followed by Edmonton by the Real Estate Investment Network Ltd.

In its Top Alberta Investment Towns report, REIN said that Alberta’s economy has come out on top after a few years of economic turbulence.

The report identifies towns and regions poised to outperform other regions of the province over the next three to five years.

And none is better than Calgary.

“After a couple of roller-coaster years, Calgary is back on a roll. The return of jobs to the city, as well as greatly reduced office vacancy rates show us that the city’s short slump has come to an end,” said the report. “Recording a GDP growth of three per cent in 2011, and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, it’s no wonder Calgary is sitting as one of the top places in North America for property investors. When you combine the economic fundamentals, the population growth, and a burgeoning provincial economy, it is easy to see why so many businesses and people have come to call the city home.

“The market is hot. With the pressure on the resale housing market, there is similar pressure on the rental market. Inventory has dropped for rental accommodations while monthly rents have increased. Real estate investors and real estate agents are reporting that rental listings are being pounced on. Savvy investors purchasing units and advertising them for rent upon close are receiving calls from anxious tenants wanting to see the unit before the investor has possession and/or has done any improvements to the property. Rental sites are reporting difficulty in compiling statistics become some communities have nothing for rent.”

REIN said housing affordability will begin to be an issue in Calgary, with rents increasing and a high average sale price. But when you look at that price versus average income it shows that other cities in Canada have a much larger problem on their hands.

“Calgary has the long-term economics to support long-term market strength while other cities do not,” said REIN.

The Top Alberta Investment Towns ranked in order are: Calgary, Edmonton, Airdrie, Red Deer, St. Albert, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Okotoks, Leduc, Sylvan Lake and Lacombe.

The report said Airdrie has been one of the fastest growing communities in the province.

“Its proximity to the economic engine of Calgary and the growth of the surrounding economy will push the physical and economic growth limits of the city in the next decade,” said REIN.

“With increasingly easy access to many areas of Calgary via the ring road as well as the growth of job centres in and around the city, Airdrie property owners should continue to feel upward pressure on both rents as well as home prices. As affordable housing becomes a growing problem in Calgary, Airdrie will benefit from lower average house prices. As the office centre of the west, Calgary may offer employment opportunities that Airdrie does not, but much of the labour force will turn to Airdrie as a place to call home.”

REIN’s top Canadian investment cities ranked in order are: Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, Airdrie, Kitchener and Cambridge, Red Deer, St. Albert, Waterloo, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Halifax.

According to a research note by Scotia Economics, Alberta remains a key economic engine for Canada, with the highest provincial real GDP growth rate forecast for 2012 and 2013 at 3.4 per cent and 3.0 per cent respectively.

“The economy is growing strongly with contributions from consumer spending, business investment, particularly in the oilsands, and exports, which is encouraging given the strong Canadian dollar and soft global demand,” it said. “Provincial government spending also will continue to support growth, albeit at a slower pace than over the decade prior to the recession.”

In the second quarter of 2012, Alberta had a year-over-year population growth rate of 2.5 per cnet, the highest in the country.

“At this juncture, the federal government’s recent tightening of mortgage and home equity financing standards appears to have had a limited impact on Alberta’s housing market,” said Scotia Economics. “It continues to be supported by strong employment growth, significant wage gains and ongoing resource development.”

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

More problems with collateral mortgages

Here is more bad news on collateral mortgages.

People refuse to sign a 3 year cell phone contract but then for some reason have no problem in losing every  single thing you have ever made and be sued into bankruptcy by your bank for taking one of these mortgages. Again, we do not offer them but TD, Scotia, ING, and RBC have them as STANDARD. I would rather take a new 3 year cell phone contract!

Beware the pitfals of collateral mortgages

By Mark Weisleder | Sat Jul 30 2011

When you apply for a mortgage, you usually just ask about the term, amount, interest rate and monthly payment. Not many people understand the difference between a conventional mortgage and a collateral mortgage. Yet many banks are now asking borrowers to sign collateral mortgages — and it could result in them being tied to this bank, for life.

With a normal conventional mortgage you bargain for a set amount, rate and amortization. Say the property is worth $250,000 — you bargain for a $200,000 loan, at 3.5 per cent, a five-year term/25-year amortization, payments of $998.54 per month.

A conventional mortgage is registered against the property for $200,000. If all the payments are made on time, the mortgage is renewed on the same terms every five years and no prepayments are made, the balance is zero after 25 years.

Should another lender decide to lend you money as a second mortgage, there is nothing stopping them from doing so, subject to their own guidelines. Under normal circumstances the principal balance on a conventional mortgage goes only one way, down. In addition, banks will accept “transfers” of conventional mortgages from other banks, at little or no cost to the consumer.

A collateral mortgage has as its primary security a promissory note or loan agreement and as “backup,” a collateral security, being a mortgage against your property. The difference is that, in most cases, the mortgage will be for 125 per cent of the value of the property. In our example, the mortgage registered will be for $312,500. But you will only receive $200,000. The loan agreement will indicate the actual amount of the loan, interest rate and monthly payments.

The collateral mortgage may indicate an interest rate of prime plus 5-10 per cent. This will permit you to go back to this same bank and borrow more money from time to time, without having to register new security. The lender will offer you a closing service, to register the mortgage against your property, at fees that will be cheaper than what a lawyer would charge you. Sounds good so far, doesn’t it?

However, this collateral loan agreement has different consequences, which are usually not explained to the borrower.

 • Most banks will not accept “transfers” of collateral mortgages from other banks, so the consumer is forced to pay discharge fees to get out of one mortgage and additional fees to register a new mortgage if they move to a new lender. Thus the bank is able to tie you to them for all your lending needs indefinitely because it will cost you too much to move.

 • Lenders may be able to use the collateral mortgage to offset any other unpaid debts you have. Offset is a right under Canadian law that says a lender may be able to seize equity you have in your home, over and above the mortgage balance, to pay, for example, a credit-card balance, a car loan, or any loan you may have co-signed that is in default with the same lender. In essence any loans you may have with that lender may be secured by the collateral mortgage. Nobody goes into a mortgage thinking about default, but “stuff” happens in people’s lives and 25 years is a long time.

 • Let’s say your house value is $200,000. A collateral first mortgage registered on the property is $250,000. The amount owing on the mortgage is $150,000. If you were to need an additional $20,000, but the lender declines to lend it for any reason, then practically speaking you won’t be able to approach any other lender. They will not go behind a $250,000 mortgage. Your only way out would be to pay any prepayment penalty to get out of the first mortgage and pay any additional costs to get a new mortgage.

 • Let’s say your mortgage is in good standing but you default under a credit line with the same bank. The bank could in most cases still start default proceedings under your mortgage, meaning you could lose the house.

 • Some lenders are offering collateral mortgages in a “negative option billing” manner. Unless you are informed enough to say you want a conventional mortgage, you will be asked to sign documents for a collateral mortgage.

I spoke with David O’Gorman, the president and principal mortgage broker with MortgageLand Inc. He tells me it is his duty under the law to ensure the “suitability” of any mortgage he arranges for a consumer.

He would be hard pressed to justify the recommendation of this type of collateral first mortgage to any consumer, without disclosing both verbally and in writing the points listed above, and he believes the consumer should have their own lawyer review everything before they sign.

Lending money to people without proper explanation of the consequences is wrong. The banking regulators need to look into this practice and stop it. In the meantime, do not sign any mortgage document without discussing it first with your own lawyer.

New Canadian Mortgage Rules are Possible

Below is a commentary on the possible new rules for Canadian mortgages. Anyone looking at buying with 5% down (which is about 80% of our clients) or using a 30 year amortization (75% of our clients) should look at buying sooner than later.

Comparing New Amortization & Down Payment Rules

Government mortgage restrictions instituted from 2008-2011 have not achieved their goal, suggests Desjardins’ Senior Economist Benoit Durocher.

He wrote this on Thursday: “…The third series of [government mortgage rules] was announced nearly a year ago now, and we must conclude that the tightening introduced to date has not
slowed the market enough.

Under these conditions, it is likely, and perhaps even desirable, that the federal government will shortly announce a fourth series of measures to further limit mortgage credit.”

It almost sounds like Durocher has some inside info.

He adds: “Among other things, the government could be tempted to once again raise the minimum down payment on new loans (it went from 0% to 5% in October 2008).”

Many believe a down payment increase would have a more chilling effect on home prices than the other option being talked about: a reduction in the maximum amortization from 30 to 25 years.

The difference in impact would depend, however, on the degree of rule changes.

For example, raising the minimum down payment from 5.0% to 7.5% (a possibility that’s been discussed) would require that entry-level homebuyers come up with $8,700 more on a typical Canadian home purchase. For most, that’s not totally out of reach.

A five percentage point increase to the minimum down payment is a somewhat different story. Requiring 10% down equates to $34,780 on an average home. That’s beyond the means of a sizable minority of first-time buyers.

First-time buyers are essential to home price stability. They account for 1/2 of unit demand according to Altus Group research. While the latest data suggests that average down payments are somewhere around 30% (an estimated $104,000), first-time buyers put down far less.

That means stricter down payment rules could potentially hurt home values at the margin, if other things are held equal.

In terms of amortization, a government-imposed reduction—from 30 to 25 years—would lower a typical family’s maximum purchase price by roughly 9%. (That’s based on today’s 5-year fixed rates, normal qualification guidelines, median incomes, and average consumer debt.)

To put this in perspective, a reduction in amortization from 30 to 25 years would cut a typical buyer’s maximum possible purchase price by ~$31,000 (again, based on an average income, average debt, a 5% down payment, etc.).

Fortunately, most people don’t need a 30-year amortization to buy a home. Despite 41% of homebuyers choosing extended amortizations, the majority could have qualified with a standard 25-year mortgage. (That said, this doesn’t mean that cutting amortizations across the board is justified. Well-qualified borrowers deserve a carve-out in the rules because they utilize extended amortizations for legitimate cash-flow management purposes. But that’s a topic for another day.)

Couple retires in Rimbey home built from 30 steel shipping containers

This is cool.
Containers are built to ISO 9000 standards so they are all the same and made to the same standard. Neat.

The Glennon family’s retirement home might just look like a stack of shipping containers of all different colours from the outside.

But once it’s complete, it will be a sprawling, 5,000-square-foot, four storey building — two levels above ground, a walkout basement and another level below — with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a games and media room, garage and workshop, and two enclosed decks.

A massive garden with a potato crop, chickens, and a trout pond, will surround the residence on the eight-hectare property just outside Rimbey, about 180 kilometres north of Calgary.

And the shipping containers won’t be visible forever — the plan is to cover the exterior with stucco.

“It’s just going to look like a regular home,” said homeowner Bill Glennon.

Except most regular homes aren’t made of Sea-Can shipping containers — and the Glennon’s might be the only one in North America built with the containers from the footings all the way up to the roof, he said.

After years of touring show homes, checking out homes on the market, and attending home and design shows, Glennon said he never found anything he liked under $1 million.

By chance, his wife Roseann spotted a newspaper article about a shipping container home several years ago, which sparked their interest.

Putting his construction abilities to work, the former scaffolder and carpenter started drawing up plans to build his own home out of 30 shipping containers, each weighing about 5,000 kilograms with a load capacity of about 30,390 kilograms.

Besides being “really tough,” the containers are economically sound and structurally practical, Glennon said, though it can be a challenge to cut and grind materials, he added.

The couple, in their late 50s, started excavation in September 2009. A month later, 30 containers were shipped from Calgary to their property for a cost of about $3,000 per container.

Ever since, the couple and their 19-year-old daughter Kala, with help from Glennon’s brother Bruce and sister Colleen, have been hard at work welding, putting in the insulation and roof truss system, painting, installing weeping tile, lighting, and tending to the garden.

The family also hopes to live “off the grid completely” and has installed energy efficient windows, a wind generator, a 4.8-kilowatt solar panel system. A solar hot water heater, which will be their main source of heat, will come later, Glennon said.

The wooden interior walls will be insulated for extra warmth, though the fact that much of the home is underground means it will be fairly easy to heat in the winter, he added.

“Right now, we’re trying to insulate the outside, and we’re still waiting for the concrete to be poured on the roof, backfill the garage, and get some plumbing in,” Glennon said last week. “We’ve got a long ways to go.”

Glennon declined to disclose the exact cost to build the entire structure, though he offered that it works out to about $125 per square foot.

He indicated he hoped to have the entire exterior finished by next spring.

The long-term goal is to convert the residence into a bed and breakfast. After all, the Glennons already receive enough guests — both friends and strangers — driving in to catch a glimpse.

“We’ve got a lot of people come up from Calgary just to see it,” he said. “They think it’s pretty incredible.”

Canadians still looking towards Alberta for employment

Comment – all the in-migration is what caused the home prices to boom form 200k to 400k in 6 months in 2006 and 2007. This is all happening again right now – as noted below.

The outcome will not be prices going to 600k but well priced homes will move quickly and there will be upward price pressure until most of the excess inventory is moved.

Alberta continues to be a draw for people in other parts of the country.

And that’s good news because in recent months there has been more talk about looming labour shortages in the future.

According to Dan Sumner, economist with ATB Financial in Calgary, 4,720 Canadians relocated to Alberta during the second quarter of 2011, largely unchanged from the 5,275 that moved here during the first quarter. But Alberta is on pace for about 20,000 net-interprovincial migrants in 2011, which if achieved will be the highest annual pace for net interprovincial migration since 2006.

Sumner says the largest net migration gain in the second quarter was from Ontario. Alberta was by far the largest benefactor of net-interprovincial migration in the country with Saskatchewan in second place gaining only 1,239 net migrants.

“Interprovincial migration can be a difficult variable to predict; however, with the unemployment rate lower in Alberta, wages higher, housing prices relatively affordable and the provincial economy expected to grow among the fastest in the country, it’s hard to imagine that more Canadians won’t be calling Alberta home over the near future,” adds Sumner.

“While more skilled workers is essential for the continued development of Alberta’s economy, it also puts pressure on social and institutional resources. As a former premier of this province once stated, ‘when people move to Alberta, they don’t bring their schools and hospitals with them’.”

Calgary house prices to get burst of energy

House prices to get burst of energy

Where oil goes, so goes Calgary.

As much as we like to say the city isn’t as dependent on black gold for its health and prosperity, the fact is, we are.

With oil prices regaining strength and with hiring happening in the oilfields, the economy is beginning to strengthen — and it’s pulling consumer confidence along with it.

A real estate axiom says that when the economy is good, the pace of home sales at the higher end of the market increases.

People in those income brackets aren’t likely to buy if there is an indication the economy is headed south.

“That’s probably true,” says Norb Park, managing broker with Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “The business-minded are probably saying the economy is heading in the right direction, the oilpatch is in good shape, so this isn’t a bad time to deal.”

Resale housing statistics from the Calgary Real Estate Board tend to agree.

From the start of the year to the end of August, 948 homes priced at $700,000 and more changed hands, up from 779 for the same eight-month period in 2010.

In August, sales in that price range totalled 104 compared with 67 for the same month a year ago.

“There’s a mindset that when oil is doing well, then the economy must be good,” says Park. “That, in turn, increases consumer optimism — and right now, people are feeling positive.”

But not all of us can afford homes that expensive.

Matter of fact, nearly 50 per cent of single-family homes sold this year and last were priced between $300,000 and $450,000.

“With Calgary’s energy sector slated to grow, it is expected to lift the city’s employment, income and in-migration — and in turn help contribute to growth in the resale market,” says Sano Stante, president of the Calgary Real Estate Board. In-migration refers to the migration of people to the city.

“We expect price growth to improve as we approach the end of 2011 and move into 2012,” he says, adding the market is seeing a boost in sales at both ends of the market.

“Improving economic conditions, coupled with affordability and price stability, has given Calgary a boost in buyers for upper-end homes and entry-level condos,” he says.

CREB also reports the average price for single-family resale homes reached $468,051 by the end of August, a one-per-cent increase compared to last year.

Taking a page from the RBC affordability reports, Stante says: “When looking at Canada’s major cities, Calgary is one of the most affordable regions for homeownership in the country. Buyers are benefiting from improved selection at all price ranges in the market.”

The single-family home market had 1,106 sales in August, an increase of 28 per cent when compared to the same month last year — which, by the way, was the lowest for August since 1994.

Sales of 9,485 for the start of the year to the end of August are 10-per-cent higher than the same period last year.

Condo sales totalled 468 units in August 2011, with a year-to-date total of 3,885 — similar to levels recorded in the first eight months of 2010.

PACE QUICKENING

Just like the sale of used single-family homes, the pace is also quickening for resale condos.

As of the end of August, 834 units sold at prices below $200,000, well up from 596 for the same eight-month period in 2010, says the Calgary Real Estate Board. But condo prices continue to remain one per cent lower than last year’s figures with an average price of $288,167 for January to August.

mhope@calgaryherald.com

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Alberta repeat home buyers moving on to larger homes

Alberta repeat home buyers moving on to larger homes

This article is EXACTLY what we have been hearing over the last 6 months.
CALGARY — Repeat home buyers in Alberta are moving on to larger or more luxurious homes, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The TD Canada Trust Repeat Home Buyers Report said Albertans are the most likely in the country to feel they compromised on the layout and features of their current home and are not willing to do so again in their next house hunt.

The report, which surveyed Canadians who recently bought or intend to buy a home that is not their first, found that 59 per cent of Alberta repeat buyers are moving on to larger or more luxurious homes. And even though many are upgrading, they are among the least likely to need a mortgage to finance the purchase (58 per cent versus 69 per cent nationally).

“If you are moving because you want more room or certain features in your home, a renovation could be an option to save the expense of moving by making your current home work for you,” said Jessy Bilodeau, Mobile Mortgage Specialists, TD Canada Trust.

The TD Canada Trust Repeat Home Buyers Report found that seven-in-10 Alberta repeat buyers were moving earlier than they expected (40 per cent) or had no intention of moving but now find themselves on the house-hunt again (30 per cent). The number of people intending to buy a home that is not their first in the next two years increased 21 percentage points over 2010 (84 per cent versus 63 per cent in 2010).

The large majority of Albertans (84 per cent) plan to sell their current home before buying a new one. More than one-in-five (22 per cent) say market conditions played a factor in their decision to buy another home and 69 per cent expect to sell their home at or above asking price, said the report.

“The reality is that it’s still a buyers’ market, and homes need to be priced correctly to sell,” said Bilodeau.

Albertans are more likely this year to say they are keeping their current home as a rental property (46 per cent versus 25 per cent last year) or that they will stay in their current home and the new home will be a rental property (41 per cent versus 25 per cent last year).

 

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald