General Beata Wojtalik 25 Jun


Quiz time! Who is the largest non-bank mortgage originator in Canada with over $100 billion dollars in mortgages under administration? Answer – First National Financial Corporation. If you’ve never heard of them before, don’t feel bad. The only way to get a First National mortgage is through the broker channel. They do not have any branches anywhere in Canada. How did First National become #1?
Service – First National are fast. They will accept your application, underwrite it and if approved you will get a response within 4 hours. The industry average is 24 hours. Mortgage brokers use First National for clients who have very good credit salaried income and need an approval or pre-approval quickly.

Another nice feature of First National is that they will provide pre-approvals. Many lenders do not want to spend the time and money to provide these but First Nat have always provided pre-approval that are underwritten. What this means is that an underwriter has reviewed your application and if everything in it is straight forward they foresee no problems with an approval for the specified amount of money.

Additionally, if the home you are purchasing is 5 years old or older, a First National mortgage may be for you. They offer Echelon Home System Warranty Program. This is a warranty on your electrical, heating and cooling systems as well as your plumbing. Most hot water tanks have a 6 year warranty. After that it can cost you $20 a month for a warranty program with your utility company. Echelon is free for the first 12 months and then it costs you only $17 a month. Any calls you make for repair work have a $50 call fee but everything else is covered by the warranty. Imagine your hot water tank breaking down on Sunday afternoon. In addition to paying a service call fee of probably $100 you would be paying time and a half for weekends. The tank alone could be $800+. It’s worth it.

Finally, First National introduced something new in fall 2018, a second mortgage. If you have a need for funds for renovations or something else substantial and you are part way through your First National mortgage term you can now obtain a second mortgage. No need to break your mortgage and incur penalties. When your first mortgage term ends, the second mortgage is rolled over into your first mortgage so you don’t have two different expiration dates for your mortgage. This is unheard of for a non-bank to do.
Remember, you can only get First National through the broker channel. Be sure to ask your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional if this would be a good mortgage for you.



General Beata Wojtalik 24 Jun


We have seen a return of the buyers’ market and many people are asking, how long will this last? While some renters without a down payment might be asking, how can o put a plan in place to own?

With the cost of living so high, and student debts coming out of school, many consumers question how they’re going to come up with a down payment for a home.

Here are some ways you can get it done.

  • Decide how much you can save and pick a plan that works for you:  a) A 36-month plan saving $700/month will get you $25,200 (you will need about $2,000 for closing costs if you qualify as a first-time homebuyer) b) A 24-month plan savings $600/month for $14,400
  • Get a gift from a family member
  • Borrow the down payment, or a portion (which may also help with credit building)
  • A combination of all of the above

For those of you that want to partner with government for down payment and profit of home ownership, a new government program can be a helpful tool provided it stays past the October election. https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/nhs/shared-equity-mortgage-provider-fund

You might me reading this and thinking, ‘yeah right, that is not reality.’ Or for some people, you know it might just be exactly what will help them move forward.

Perhaps you have graduated from school and your parents don’t charge you rent. Imagine if you could put one of your paycheques every month aside and try living within those means and budgeting accordingly.

Or say you have a partner and one of you just started work in a specific trade and the other’s paycheque went towards the “home purchase plan.”

Also, if you are within the qualifications to buy, you will be earning a combined household income of $125,000-plus per year, so taking those funds right from your paycheque into your RRSP will have additional tax benefits too where you can use the refund for closing costs or amp up your down payment.

Here’s an example of how this worked for a lab technician and chef with a two-year old daughter.

They did a combination plan as they moved up to Canada from the U.S. two years ago, both got stable jobs and had no outside debt. They were paying $1700 a month rent. They used a $10,000 line of credit they took to put into investment to help establish Canadian credit. After getting the line of credit and placing it into a safe investment, they:

  1. Set up an RRSP and placed $600 a month on the loan and $700 a month into their RRSP.
  2. Now this family is used to having a cash outlay of $3,000 per month which will be the actual expectation they have for when they buy a home.
  3. With this plan, they take a mortgage for a test drive, save money on taxes, establish a great credit score and worked away toward their goal.

Are there holes in the plan? Yes, home prices may go up, there was interest on the loan they paid and they may have to adjust or modify their plan. Their employment can change, however, this practice will only benefit them no matter what life brings their way and there is a sense of empowerment when you have a plan and can see how you can get there.

Do you or someone you care about want to know how they can be set up with a multifaceted plan to help them move forward with a goal of owning a home?



General Beata Wojtalik 24 Jun


In the past, we had banks (bank as a catch all for credit unions and trust companies) and Mortgage Brokers.

Writing mortgage applications is extremely difficult; there are a lot of moving parts in a mortgage. Because of this, banks employ mortgage specialists whose sole role is to provide mortgage advice.

On the other hand, previous to 20 years ago, a Mortgage Broker’s main job was to get financing when a bank declined a borrower’s application. Basically, Mortgage Brokers were a borrower’s last resort: “if you can’t get financing from the bank (RBC, TD, Scotia, etc.), come speak to me.” This is generally why we see older generations having never used mortgage brokers – they didn’t have a need.

But, there have been many changes over the decades. In most cases, Mortgage Brokers can provide better interest rates for most mortgage applications. This is specifically due to wholesale lenders.

But, when it comes to prime (bank or Monoline Lenders) financing, Mortgage Brokers find they are sometimes at a disadvantage when banks make “exceptions” to regulatory mortgage rules. Mortgage Brokers are sometimes held to a higher standard because all of our files are picked at with a fine-toothed comb.

For example: in 2016/7 CIBC, which does not procure mortgages from Mortgage Brokers, underwent a mortgage audit. The regulator found that every single one of the 50 mortgages audited failed their audit… and CIBC hardly even got a slap on the wrist. As an side, remember when banks would provide financing for foreign students with no income? Yeah… that was primarily CIBC!

Notwithstanding, Mortgage Brokers (by definition) have access to many different types of lenders and are not beholden to the employer institution. Non-prime lenders can lean more heavily on a specific property and less so on the strict guidelines that the government requires.

Long story short, Mortgages Brokers have access to many different lenders, but in come cases, a bank specialist can get something done that a Mortgage Broker cannot do due to the bending mortgage rules. Notwithstanding, in 99% of cases, if all rules are followed (which are being more strictly enforced since 2018), Mortgage Brokers have more access and more complete solutions to bank specialists.



General Beata Wojtalik 24 Jun


Some home improvements provide more of a payback when you sell the house down the road.

Here’s a list of the four home improvements which will provide the biggest payback when you sell.

  1.  Adding square footage – while this can be a very expensive project, adding to the size of a house can re-coup between 50-83% of your initial investment. Putting a bonus room on top of your front facing garage increases the square footage without having to enlarge the foundation.
  2. A deck addition – adding a deck makes a house feel larger and allows you to enjoy your backyard during the warmer months. Typically you can get between 65-90% of your investment back .
  3. Re-modeling the kitchen – one of the most important rooms in the house is the kitchen. A well done project will get you between 50-120% back when you sell the house but remember not to over-do the project. A million dollar kitchen in a $500,000 home won’t be fully appreciated by future buyers.
  4. A bathroom addition – the second room buyers check out is the bathroom. While re-modeling a bathroom will recoup a lot of the renovation costs adding a second bathroom to a one bathroom home is huge. Many home owners find that they get between 80-130% of the cost of the project.

If you are thinking about buying a home or renovating your present home, speak to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional about how they can help you to finance any of these projects in your mortgage and pay low interest rates.


Housing Market Continues Slow Recovery in May: CREA

General Beata Wojtalik 18 Jun

Housing Market Continues Slow Recovery in May: CREA

National home prices just about kept pace with inflation in May, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

Property prices increased 1.8% to $508,000 year-over-year, or $397,000 when you exclude two of Canada’s most expensive cities: Toronto and Vancouver. The benchmark price, which many consider to be a more accurate reflection of the “typical” home, remained stable at $624,400, rising under 1%.

CREA is concerned that the stress test, where borrowers must qualify at 2% higher than their contract rate, is crushing market demand.

“The mortgage stress test continues to present challenges for homebuyers in housing markets where they have plenty of homes to choose from but are forced by the test to save up a bigger down payment,” says Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist. “Hopefully, the stress test can be fine-tuned to enable homebuyers to qualify for mortgage financing sooner without causing prices to shoot up.”

But prices are growing in most markets across the country, save the Western provinces.

Cities like the Greater Vancouver Area, the Fraser Valley, Calgary, Edmonton and Regina were all down compared to May 2018. But markets in Ontario and the Eastern provinces posted price gains, with the exception of Barrie, a commuter city just north of Toronto.

Furthermore, the decline in British Columbia is almost certainly a temporary blip, since benchmark prices are up at least 57-80% from five years ago. That’s still an annual increase of about 10-15%.

In fact, the only cities showing a decline from five years ago are in the prairie provinces, which have been hurt by low oil prices and a glut of inventory from overbuilding when times were good.

The only clear consequence of the stress test is that it’s pushing buyers into less-expensive and denser living situations, such as apartments. As has been the case since the lending rules were tightened in January 2018, apartments and townhouses have outpaced detached homes in terms of price growth.

For example, home prices rose 8% year-over-year in Ottawa, led by a 12% increase in townhouse prices. And while overall prices rose just 2% in Greater Moncton, apartment prices are up 16%.

For more data on this month’s national housing situation, check out the infographic below:

CREA may home prices



General Beata Wojtalik 18 Jun


Statistics released late last week by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that national home sales increased in May. Together with monthly gains in the previous two months, activity in May reached its highest level since early last year when the new B-20 stress testing was introduced. While last month’s home sales stood 8.9% above the six-year low posted in February 2019, this latest uptick has only just returned May’s sales level to its 10-year historical average (see chart below). Nationwide, sales were up 1.9% month-over-month, and relative to a year ago, sales rose 6.7% marking the biggest year-over-year gain since the booming summer of 2016.

Sales were up in only half of all local markets, but that list included almost all large markets, led by gains in both the Greater Vancouver (GVA) and Greater Toronto (GTA) areas. There were encouraging bursts of activity in Victoria, Calgary and, to a lesser degree, Edmonton. Resale activity was up 24% from April in Vancouver, Victoria posted a 10% gain, and Calgary resales rose 6.6% month-over-month.

These are early signs that the cyclical bottom has been reached in that region of the country. Market conditions are still soft, though. Property values remain under downward pressure for now with the MLS Home Price Index down from a year ago in May in Vancouver (-8.9%), Calgary (-4.3%) and Edmonton (-3.7%). That said, the rate of decline moderated in Calgary and Edmonton, which is a further sign that these markets are stabilizing.

New Listings
The number of newly listed homes edged downward by 1.2% in May. With sales up and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 57.4% in May compared to 55.7% in April. Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with the long-term average, almost three-quarters of all local markets were in balanced market territory in May 2019.

There were 5.1 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of May 2019, down from 5.3 in April and 5.6 months back in February. Like the sales-to-new listings ratio, the number of months of inventory is within close reach its long-term average of 5.3 months.

Housing market balance varies significantly by region. The number of months of inventory has swollen far beyond long-term averages in Prairie provinces and Newfoundland & Labrador, giving homebuyers in those parts of the country ample choice. By contrast, the measure remains well below long-term averages for Ontario and Maritime provinces, resulting in increased competition among buyers for listings and fertile ground for price gains.

Home Prices

MLS® HPI data are now available on a seasonally adjusted basis in addition to the actual (not seasonally adjusted) figures. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI edged down 0.2% in May 2019 compared to April and stood 1.4% below the peak reached in December 2018.

Seasonally adjusted MLS® HPI readings in May were up from the previous month in 12 of the 18 markets tracked by the index; however, home price declines in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia contributed to the monthly decline in the overall index. Markets where prices rose in May from the month before include Victoria (0.5%), Edmonton (0.2%), Saskatoon (0.4%), Ottawa (0.7%), Niagara (0.2%), Oakville (0.8%), Guelph (0.5%), Barrie (3.6%), Montreal (0.5%) and Greater Moncton (0.5%), with gains of 0.1% in the GTA and Regina. By contrast, readings were down from the month before in the GVA (-1.0%), Fraser Valley (-1.1%), the Okanagan Valley (-1.3%), Calgary (-0.1%) and Hamilton (-0.7%), while holding steady on Vancouver Island outside Victoria.

Trends continue to vary widely among the 18 housing markets tracked by the MLS® HPI. Results remain mixed in British Columbia, with prices down on a y/y basis in the GVA (-8.9%), the Fraser Valley (-5.9%) and the Okanagan Valley (-0.7%). Meanwhile, prices edged up 1% in Victoria and climbed 4.7% elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Among Greater Golden Horseshoe housing markets tracked by the index, MLS® HPI benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in Guelph (+5.7%), the Niagara Region (+5.4%), Hamilton-Burlington (+3.4%), Oakville-Milton (+3.4%) and the GTA (+3.1%). By contrast, home prices in Barrie and District held below year-ago levels (-6.1%).

Across the Prairies, supply remains historically elevated relative to sales and home prices remain below year-ago levels. Benchmark prices were down by 4.3% in Calgary, 3.6% in Edmonton, 3.9% in Regina and 1.3% in Saskatoon. The home pricing environment will likely remain weak in these cities until demand and supply return to better balance.

Home prices rose 8% y/y in Ottawa (led by a 12.2% increase in townhouse/row unit prices), 6.3% in Greater Montreal (led by a 7.6% increase in condo apartment unit prices), and 2% in Greater Moncton (led by a 15.9% increase in apartment unit prices). (see Table 1 below)

Bottom Line: The Bank of Canada is counting on a rebound in economic activity in the current quarter and believes growth will accelerate further in Q4 and 2020. That should keep the Bank on the sidelines for some time. Currently, the markets are expecting the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates in July and to continue to do so in 2020. Indeed, President Trump is lobbying hard for rate cuts. It is unlikely that the Bank of Canada will follow the Fed unless the trade war with China worsens. Political pressure is mounting on the administration to reduce trade tensions. Trade uncertainty is the only thing right now that would derail the Canadian recovery.





























Street Capital Finally Finds its White Knight

General Beata Wojtalik 18 Jun

Street Capital Finally Finds its White Knight

After a year of searching for urgently needed growth capital, Canada’s sixth-biggest broker channel lender got the boost it required. Street Capital Group has agreed to be bought by RFA Capital.

The deal will take Street private. RFA is acquiring all shares for $0.68, a 36% premium over Friday’s closing price and about 1-times book value (a meaningful premium to where larger peers like Home Trust and Equitable Bank are trading today).

RFA started considering a Street acquisition last summer, RFA Managing Partner, Ben Rodney says. They formally started the process with BMO (Street’s investment banker) in January. The deal then presumably got an initial blessing from banking regulator OSFI since it’s involved in all planned bank acquisitions.

street capital logoPending the acquisition closing, RFA wants to take the combined entities from $6 billion a year in originations to $10 billion. “We have the funding in place to do that,” says Rodney.

RFA will inject $50 million of equity on day one. That should make OSFI happy, given many had questioned Street’s long-term viability after its stock price slid to half a buck.

But that’s the past. The future is brighter, for three reasons:

  1. Street will get $5 billion in new funding
    • The funding will principally be for prime insured and uninsured mortgages. Not long ago, Street was completely out of the market on uninsured pricing due to an absence of willing investors.
    • It will also be used to ramp up Street’s non-prime lending. Rodney says, “Street doesn’t have efficient non-insured funding right now.” These new funds will “significantly increase the Street Solutions [alternative lending] business.”
    • The source of this funding is 100% Canadian institutional investors, says Rodney. Much of it comes from very high net worth investors who are patient long-term capital.
    • RFA will also “ramp up” Street’s deposit business and “diversify the channels we obtain those deposits (from)…,” Rodney said. Someday it will likely launch direct-to-consumer deposits, but we get the sense that is well down the road.
  2. Street will get new products
    • We hear that, in time, the plan is to add a new HELOC, better refinance options, and an ultra-competitive “Value” (low-frills) mortgage product, among others. (Ideally, they’ll also consider competitive 1- to 4-year prime uninsured fixed terms, a market that’s been corned of late by big banks.)
  3. Street will offer better pricing
    • “Expect to see more competitive rates,” Rodney said. And that’s not just PR talk. The lender he runs now, RFA Mortgage Corporation, is a highly efficient operator that has the lowest 5-year fixed rate in Canada.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity before us with RFA as our capital partner,” Street Capital Bank CEO Duncan Hannay told CMT. “This brings new strength to the broker channel…We’ll combine the benefit of a bank balance sheet to support non-prime lending with a scale originator in prime.”

Being a Small Bank: Burden or Advantage?

Naysayers may question the deal, citing the extreme regulatory and expense burden of running a schedule I bank. We asked Rodney how RFA would ensure a good ROI given that burden. “The way we are recapitalizing the structure and utilizing technologies to create efficiencies in the bank will allow us a competitive advantage,” he said.

“We are fixing the balance sheet,” he said, adding that “scale will cover the regulatory cost.”

Other facts of note:

  • Rodney says RFA hasn’t decided yet if it will keep the name (Street Capital Bank of Canada) and run with a multi-brand strategy (like MCAP and RMG, for instance), or rebrand and consolidate both lenders.
  • There are no plans to replace Duncan and Street’s senior management team, Rodney said.
  • The deal is expected to close in the fall. Someone could always try to top RFA’s bid for the company and Street would be compelled to review such offers. But that’s less likely now, given the $4 million penalty Street would have to pay RFA for backing out, the need to win OSFI’s pre-approval, and the fact that RFA’s 68 cents-per-share offer is amply fair (relative to peer valuations), according to analysts like NBF and Raymond James.



General Beata Wojtalik 18 Jun


When the Bank of Canada decided this month to keep its benchmark interest rates stable at 1.75%, it signalled the weakening economy makes it unlikely a rate increase is anywhere on the horizon.

Inflation is not where it should be, we’re not in a deflation mode right now, but inflation is under control and there’s no real need for them to raise interest rates.

Because many of the economic indicators are pointing downward, this puts the bank in a position where it can’t raise rates. This makes refinancing a more attractive option for some homeowners this year.

A lot of economists are saying that Canada is heading back into another crisis, which is an indicator that rates may drop again. This new norm will probably stay around for a little while, but rates will eventually go up. And when it goes up, people have to be obviously prepared for it.

So, for now, homeowners shouldn’t worry too much about a sudden jump in rates. While this may be a new normal, if the economy begins a turnaround, they should be ready or a bump in rates, but I don’t think it’s going to happen the next couple of years.

Usually, Canada’s economy runs almost parallel to that of our southern neighbour’s. However, the two economies seem to have gone their separate ways lately.

There’s a divergence right now that is going to occur between the Canadian and U.S. economies. When people talk about the U.S. sneezing and Canada catches a cold—this is not what’s happening right now. There’s a divergence in the interest rates. Where in the States rates are going up, in Canada, rates cannot go up because of the way our economy is actually going.

The news isn’t all positive for Canadian homeowners though. Read our recent blogs on why too many Canadians are now ineligible for mortgages and why Montrealers in particular will see their municipal tax bills rise in the coming years. If you have any questions about mortgages, contact your nearest Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.



General Beata Wojtalik 18 Jun


Buying a home is usually the biggest purchase most people make and there are a lot of factors to consider. Our job is to provide you with a much information (as you can handle!!) so you make the best decision based your particular situation.

The 3 “rules of lending” focus on determining the maximum size of mortgage that can be supported by your provable (what you paid taxes on) income.

You need to consider two affordability ratios:

Rule #1 – GROSS DEBT SERVICE (GDS) Your monthly housing costs are generally not supposed to exceed 36-39% of your gross monthly income. Housing costs include – your monthly mortgage payment, property taxes and heating. If you are buying a condo/townhouse, the GDS will also include ½ of your strata fees. The total of these monthly payments divided by your “provable” gross monthly income will give you your Gross Debt Service.
Mortgage payments + Property taxes + Heating Costs + 50% of condo fees / Annual Income

Rule #2 – TOTAL DEBT SERVICE (TDS) Your entire monthly debt payments should not exceed 42-44% of your gross monthly income This includes your housing costs (GDS above) PLUS all other monthly payments (car payments, credit cards, Line of Credit, additional financing, etc.). The total of all your monthly debts divided by your “provable” gross monthly income will give you your Total Debt Service.
Housing expenses (see GDS) + Credit card interest + Car payments + Loan expenses / Annual Income

What about the other 56% of your income?? This is considered to be used up by ‘normal’ monthly expenses including: taxes, food, medical, transportation, entertainment etc.)

Rule #3 – CREDIT RATING Everyone who will be on title to the property will need to have their credit run. Your credit bureau is important because it shows the lenders how well (or not) you have handled credit in the past. This gives them an indication of how you will handle credit in the future, and will you be a good risk and make your mortgage payments as promised. If you handle credit well, you will have a high Credit Score and get the best interest rates from the banks/lenders. If you have not handled credit well, and have a poor credit score, you will either be charged a higher interest rate or your application will be declined.

If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.



General Beata Wojtalik 18 Jun


If you are thinking about purchasing a home in the near future, here are some reasons you may consider buying a condo apartment or town home. You should also be aware there are some cons as well.


  1. They are relatively inexpensive. As your footprint is small and you share exterior walls with others, the cost for a condo is often far lower than owning a single-family dwelling.
  2. No shoveling or painting. Most maintenance costs are covered in your monthly condo fees as are large repairs such as roofing and hallway carpeting.
  3. Amenities. Often condos have a pool or gym which is included in your condo fees.
  4. Security. for seniors and single women this is a big concern. Living in a building which a locked front door in addition to your own unit door is a big plus.
  5.  A sense of community. Often condo boards have an annual picnic or event where you can meet your neighbours. This helps to develop a sense of community.


  1. Restrictions on pets. How you can paint your front door or what you can do to your balcony can see like restrictions on your lifestyle . Be aware of these restrictions by reading the condo documents in advance.
  2. Maintenance may not be done when you would like for it to be done. Major projects may be delayed if the condo board has not allowed for large expenses and this may result in a large special assessment payment. Be sure to read over the section of your documents that covers the reserve fund.
  3.  Condo fees may go up higher than you can afford over the years. This is a particular concern to owners on fixed incomes.

Be sure to speak to your favourite Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before you go house hunting to get expert advice on how to proceed.