Second Mortgage / Debt Consolidation Mortgage

General Michael Atkinson 20 Sep

Getting out of debt can be a stressful process. There are so many avenues to explore and the real challenge is finding the right solution to your specific needs. Many Canadians get into this situation due to an unforeseen life event (loss of your job, health issues, family health complications, etc.) and can no longer qualify traditionally for a new mortgage.

If you own your home and want to access the equity, us Mortgage Broker’s at Dominion Lending Centres have a few different products that could be the perfect solution to your circumstance.

Typically, the best solution would be to refinance your existing mortgage to consolidate your debt. However, if you can no longer qualify and need to access the equity in your home, a Second Mortgage may be a perfect fit for you.

We have access to many private lenders that won’t look at your credit or income, they strictly lend on the equity in your property. For this specific solution to work, you will need to have at least 20% equity in your home. To determine the true market value of your property we would order an appraisal. Once the appraisal is completed, we can get you a second mortgage for up to 80% of that value. It’s an easy and quick process and I’ve seen the lenders issue funds into your pocket in as early as two weeks.


To find out if this is a good solution for you, feel free to give me a call at 778-554-4556 and we can discuss your specific circumstance and find the best (and cheapest) solution.


Thanks for reading.

New CMHC Premiums go into effect today

Mortgage Tips Michael Atkinson 17 Mar

  • CMHC’s standard mortgage loan insurance premiums will be changing as follows:
Loan-to-Value Ratio Standard Premium (Current) Standard Premium (Effective March 17, 2017)
Up to and including 65% 0.60% 0.60%
Up to and including 75% 0.75% 1.70%
Up to and including 80% 1.25% 2.40%
Up to and including 85% 1.80% 2.80%
Up to and including 90% 2.40% 3.10%
Up to and including 95% 3.60% 4.00%
90.01% to 95% – Non-Traditional Down Payment 3.85% 4.50%
Down payment between 10% and 14.99%
Loan Amount $150,000 $250,000 $350,000 $450,000 $550,000 $850,000
Increase to Monthly Mortgage Payment $4.94 $8.23 $11.52 $14.81 $18.10 $27.98

Based on a 5 year term @ 2.94% and a 25 year amortization

Down payment between 15% and 19.99%
Loan Amount $150,000 $250,000 $350,000 $450,000 $550,000 $850,000
Increase to Monthly Mortgage Payment $7.06 $11.75 $16.46 $21.16 $25.86 $39.96


Keep in mind that to avoid paying the CMHC premiums in most cases, you will need to put 20% down.

Collateral Charge Mortgages

General Michael Atkinson 1 Mar

Collateral Charge – What you need to know

If you own your home, or are searching for your first home, I’m sure many of you have heard about this term at some point. I wanted to make a blog post dedicated to the topic to hopefully shed some light on what they are, and why you should avoid them.

As per the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada web site, this is the definition of a collateral charge:

A type of mortgage whose features may include the ability to potentially borrow additional funds, subject to your lender’s approval, without the need to discharge your mortgage, register a new one and pay legal fees. If you want to switch your existing mortgage to a different lender at the end of your term, note that other lenders may not accept the transfer of your mortgage. This means you may need to pay fees to discharge your mortgage and register a new one in order to change lenders.

Looks great from the outside, right? You can refinance at no extra cost? Perfect! Before we go any further, I want to give some quick facts about collateral charge mortgages:

    • They are used by most of the big banks and some of the credit unions.
    • Most mono-line lenders* don’t register the mortgage as a collateral charge
    • If you have a collateral charge mortgage with the same bank that all of your debts are with, and for some reason fall behind on your payments, they can send your property into foreclosure to recover the debts (this is HUGE! I recommend all of my clients to have their mortgage as a standalone product with a specific lender for this very reason)

*Mono-line lender – A lender that only focuses on mortgages

Now lets weigh the pro’s and con’s of a Collateral Charge Mortgage:


  • With some institutions, you can register the charge up to 125% of the value of the property (You buy a property for $200,000 , you can register the charge on title up to $250,000 even though the property isn’t worth that much at this time)
  • Can refinance your existing mortgage with little to no fee’s involved (some lenders will charge a small $500 fee for doing the refinance)


  • Your home becomes a direct collateral to all of your debts (if you bank with the institution where your mortgage is)
  • You are stuck with this lender even at renewal time unless you want to pay fee’s to switch to a different lender

What do I suggest to my clients?
I like to sit down with my clients and discuss a 5 year plan. What is your goal in the next 5 years? Do you plan on making any extra payments? Will you want the option to switch lenders to take advantage of a better rate at the end of your term?

In few cases, a collateral charge will make sense for my client. If that is the case, I will place them in one. However in most cases, a mono-line lender is superior as they don’t register as a collateral charge and usually offer an overall better product.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please feel free to give me a call on my cell at 778-554-4556.

Have a great weekend!

The Nature of Pre-Approvals

General Michael Atkinson 1 Mar

Many clients think that once they are pre-approved, they can write an offer on a house without a subject to financing clause on their real estate contract. However, this is a big misconception about pre-approvals.

Going through the pre-approval process in itself is very important. It allows me to sit down with you and take a look at the big picture. I have calculators that allow me to input your income, assets, and liabilities, and it lets us know what you qualify for based on lending criteria at all of the major banks.

When I do a pre-approval for a client and submit it to a lender, it is nothing more than a rate hold for 90-120 days. Most lenders don’t underwrite pre-approvals as they take a lot of resources for them and typically don’t turn into a real purchase. In fact, less than 10% of pre-approvals turn into live deals (reasons being; the client goes with a different lender at a lower rate, they decide now is not the time to buy, they lose their job, or can’t find the property that they want etc.).

I can understand that most people are reluctant to write an offer on a property because they are not 100% guaranteed financing. Although this is desirable, the fact remains that the lender still has to review every related document to the purchase prior to giving the final OK (these documents include the Appraisal(s), Contract of Purchase and Sale, Property Disclosure Statement, updated bank statements etc.). This is true for every lender that I can think of.

Aside from all of these concerns, the lender still needs to approve of the property. Is there an age restriction on the property, is it on leased land, is the roof falling apart, is the property a former grow-op, is the economic life of the dwelling too short to meet the lenders guidelines, the list goes on and on.

All I ask is that you take away from this article is that perhaps you are pre-approved; but the property may not be approved. It’s best to talk to a seasoned mortgage expert to find out about all of your options, and so that they can address any concerns that you may have.

Thanks for reading.

Michael Atkinson

Using an RRSP loan for a down payment

General Michael Atkinson 1 Mar

I’ve read a few articles recently that talk about RRSP loans and potentially using the tax refund towards a down payment on a home. From the sounds of it, this seems like a great idea! You get to contribute to your RRSP’s, pay less tax, get a big refund, and then have money to put towards a down payment on a home. However in some cases, this may not be ideal. Getting a sizable loan with a monthly payment may hinder your ability to qualify for a mortgage.

Let’s look at some numbers to further explain.

Let’s speculate here and say you have $30,000 of RRSP room to contribute. You get a loan for $30,000, at Prime + 2%, amortized over 10 years. This works out to a monthly payment of $316.00. You are in a 30% tax bracket, so when you file your taxes you get $9,000 back on your tax refund.  You also have an additional $6,000 saved up on your own for a down payment.

In total with the tax refund, you have $15,000 to put down. Since the minimum down payment you can put is 5%, that limits us to a home worth $300,000. To qualify for a home worth $300,000, given the fact that you now have a monthly RRSP loan payment of $316.00 (whereas previously you didn’t have any debt), you will need to make $51,000 annually.

If you didn’t have that loan payment and could save up the $15,000 on your own, or get it gifted from a family member, you would only need to make $42,000 a year to qualify for a $300,000 home.

If you’re a first time home buyer, you can use up to $25,000 of your RRSP money towards a down payment as well, but you have to repay it over the next 15 years and it has to be locked into the RRSP for 90 days prior to withdrawal.

In the end, it depends on your situation to determine if this would be a good idea or not. If your income is high enough to qualify for both loans and are willing to take on an additional monthly payment, than this could be a perfect fit for you. If you’d rather save up the full down payment on your own to avoid that additional monthly payment, then you may want to steer clear of this method altogether.

I suggest speaking to your Mortgage Broker to discuss these options to see if it would be a good fit.

If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call at 778-554-4556.

Thanks for reading.

Understanding your Credit Score

General Michael Atkinson 1 Mar

How does the Credit/Beacon Score number work?

·         This three digit number is a statistical formula that takes your personal credit information from your credit report
·         Scores range from 300 – 900
·         The ‘Beacon Score’ is branded by Equifax
·         Everything counts: age, address, phone number, dependents, length of employment with same employer
·         Inquiries = 10% (kept on record for 3 years)
·         Length of credit history = 15%
·         Might want to keep trades that have a long and positive history
·         Employer on credit bureau
·         Equifax charges customer for electronic delivery but not via mail
·         Bad debt stays on for 7 years

How is your score determined?

Payment history: Roughly 35% of the total score

·         Account payment information on specific types of accounts including: credit cards, retail accounts, loans, finance company accounts, mortgage, etc.
·         Presence of adverse public records (bankruptcy, judgments, suits, liens, wage attachments, etc.), collection items, and delinquency.
·         Severity of delinquency and amount past due on delinquent accounts or collection items
·         Time since past due items, adverse public records (if any), or collection items (if any)
·         Number of past due items on file
·         Number of accounts paid as agreed

Amounts owed: Roughly 30% of the total score

·         Amount owing on accounts
·         Amount owing on specific types of accounts
·         Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases
·         Number of accounts with balances
·         Proportion of credit lines used (proportion of balances to total credit limits on certain types of revolving accounts)
·         Proportion of installment loan amounts still owing

Length of credit history: Roughly 15% of the total score

·         Time since accounts opened
·         Time since account activity

New credit: Roughly 10% of the total score

·         Number and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account
·         Number of recent credit inquiries
·         Time since recent account opening(s), by type of account
·         Time since credit inquiry(s)
·         Re-establishment of positive credit history following past payment problems

Types of credit used: Roughly 10% of the total score

·         Number of (presence, prevalence, and recent information on) various types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage, consumer finance accounts, etc.)

How to read the Nine Point Credit Rating Scale?

·         R0 Too new to rate, approved but not used.
·         R1 Pays (or paid) within 30 days of billing; pays account as agreed.
·         R2 Pays (or paid) in more than 30 days, but not more than 60 days, or one payment past due.
·         R3 Pays (or paid) in more than 60 days, but not more than 90 days, or two payments past due.
·         R4 Pays (or paid) in more than 90 days, but not more than 120 days, or three or more payments past due.
·         R5 Account is at least 120 days overdue, but is not yet rated 9.
·         R7 Making regular payments under a consolidation order or similar arrangement.
·         R8 Repossession (indicate if it is a voluntary return of merchandise by the consumer).
·         R9 Bad debt, placed for collection

How to Improve your Credit Score?

The best way to improve your credit score is to make consistent minimum (or more) monthly payments for your credit cards, loans, mortgages etc.

If you have unused credit cards, I would suggest closing them, but make sure that you have at least 2 active tradelines (credit cards, lines of credit, etc.) and that they have been open for a minimum of 2 years. When qualifying for a mortgage, lenders look at your 2 year payment history as this gives an accurate description of your payment habits.

How to correct inaccurate information on credit bureau Equifax Canada?
CALL: 1-800-465-7166 between 8:00am and 5:00pm ET

Did you know?

·         I can help finance clients with bad or no credit if they have enough down-payment
·         I can help homeowners pay off high interest credit cards with equity loans
·         I will obtain exceptions from the banks for a client with imperfect credit history as long as their score is within the guidelines
·         I advise clients with bruised credit history to improve their score and qualify for a mortgage to get best rates and products

Need more information or have any questions? Call me directly on my cell at 778-554-4556, or send me a direct email at Continue reading

Going Subject Free

General Michael Atkinson 1 Mar

I wrote an e-mail out to a client today about going subject free, and figured I should turn it into a blog post. With the amount of people wanting to go subject free these days, I feel the public should be aware of how it may affect their financing.

“Going subject free is a completely different ball game. While yes, you are pre-approved, but what about the property?

To put things in perspective, I had clients recently go subject free on a property in the lower mainland. Once the offer was accepted and we got an appraisal, we found out that the property was on a floodplain (a property on a floodplain means that it could flood under heavy rain or if the nearby river gets extremely high). We had a lender lined up to fund the mortgage, but once the lender found out it was a floodplain property, they no longer wanted to fund the mortgage. We had to find another lender in a short time frame that didn’t have a problem with the property being a flood plain. This put tons of extra stress on the clients, as they couldn’t back out of the contract (without losing their deposit, or worse) due to there being no subjects on their offer. In the end we got it done, but due to it being subject free there was no protection for the buyer, so the stress levels were fairly high.

Another story from a different broker… His clients went subject free on a condo in Vancouver. Once the offer was accepted and they got an inspection, they found out that the building was a leaky condo. There are 0 lenders that will lend on a property that is a leaky condo (unless the work has been 100% re-mediated, and in this case it wasn’t). In this particular case, the clients ended up losing their deposit because they couldn’t find a lender (the deposit was $20,000). When going subject free on a condo or a townhouse, we really need to do our due diligence and make sure the property is 100% OK. We have to dig deep through the strata minutes and Form B to make sure there is nothing wrong with the complex. If there is the slightest concern with the property, we may have a hard time getting financing.

I don’t recommend going subject free due to the potential risk of losing your deposit (or worse) if we can’t find a lender because of the property.

That being said, it’s completely up to you if you want to go subject free. Yes, in order to secure a place in the current market most people are being forced to go subject free, but it does come with substantial risk. If you are certain the only way to get a specific property is by going subject free, feel free to send me over every document related to the property and I’ll do my best to comb through the documents for any potential issues. Please keep in mind however that there is never 100% certainty that the property will be approved. The lender still has to review every document and make sure that the property meets their lending guidelines.”

I’m sure you’re wondering, what should we look for with the property that will make it tough to get financing? I’ve compiled a list below to give you an idea, however the complete list is significantly longer.

Property Red Flags:
Self-managed stratas
Commercial-zoned properties – C1 thru C8 zonings are ineligible with nearly all lenders (CD-1 is not commercial; many high-density areas in greater Vancouver will have this zoning)
Age-restricted properties greater than 19+ – 19+ is a case by case exception.
Condos with ongoing assessments or incomplete repairs
Live/work or heritage zoning
Log or floating homes
Post-tension cable or condo conversions
Rental pools
Resort areas – Sun Peaks, Big White, Apex, Hemlock, Kicking Horse, etc.
Rent-to-own deals
Past grow-ops… even though the property has been remediated
Purchases closing outside of 120 days
PDS references to vermiculite insulation, asbestos, water leaks, septic system failures, non-potable water, large special assessments within the past five years etc.

​Thanks for reading.

Fixed vs Variable Mortgage Products

General Michael Atkinson 17 Feb

Over the past year, I constantly get asked: “What’s the difference between a fixed rate and a variable rate?” I want to shed the light here on the differences between the two, and hope to give you a better understanding of both of them.


Fixed Rate: Your interest rate stays the same throughout the length of the term, thus being percieved as the “safe” way to go.

Variable Rate:  Just like it sounds – the interest rate is predicted by the Bank of Canada’s prime lending rate and can change up to 8 times a year. The variable portion is guaranteed by the lender to be either a premium or discount of the prime interest rate.

Let’s confirm a few facts about the Variable rate.

The interest rate cannot, and will not, spike randomly. There are 8 Bank of Canada meeting’s per year to determine whether to increase, decrease, or keep the prime rate the same.

The interest rate or your payments will not ‘double overnight’. It is very unlikely that the prime rate will change more than .25% at any of these BoC meetings. Is hasn’t changed since September 2010.

Statistically speaking, over the past 40 years, Canadians that enter into a variable rate always come out ahead. Those locking into a fixed rate generally end up paying more interest and less principle of their mortgage.

Prepayment Penalties

Most people overlook this portion of their mortgage, as they are only concerned about getting the best interest rate.

Statistically speaking, 6 out of 10 Canadians will break their mortgage at an average of 38 months into their 60 month term. 

In the case of a 5 year fixed term, the mortgage penalties are generally 3% of the mortgage balance. On a $100,000 mortgage, that is roughly $3,000.

A variable rate mortgage has much lesser penalties. Generally speaking it is 3 months of interest as a penalty. On average, they are about .70% of the mortgage. Given my example above, this equates to about $700 on a $100,000 mortgage.

There are many reasons why people break their mortgage. Divorce, spousal seperation, employement change, health issues, a variety of social issues, or desirability to leverage equity intheir property.

The short version is that clients currently in five-year fixed rate mortgages with 2-3 years left in their term are being hit with a prepayment penalty five times higher than clients in variable rate mortgages.  This after paying a higher interest rate all the way along as well.