10 Nov

What is Title Insurance? Why Do You Need It?


Posted by: Kelly Hudson

When you are buying a home, you need to make a lot of decisions in a short time.  Regardless of how prepared you are, there are a lot of moving parts and it can feel overwhelming.

When you use mortgage financing to purchase a Canadian residential property, your lender will almost always require you to buy title insurance to cover the original mortgage amount.

You will have a Title Insurance discussion with your lawyer or notary just before your mortgage finalizes, when you are signing your final mortgage documents.

In the past, lenders required clients to provide a survey certificate, which is more expensive (combined it with a lawyer’s opinion of title), which is more costly and is also getting harder to find these days.

  • If a copy of the survey was not available, clients would have to pay for a new survey to be done. In some communities, this could cost $1,000 or more.

Over the years, this requirement has changed. Now, most lenders in BC require title insurance for all properties in lieu of a survey certificate.

Title insurance is generally purchased at the time your mortgage closes. In BC, for purchases under $1 million, title insurance costs approximately $200-250.

  • You can purchase a personal portion of Buyers Title Insurance as well, to insure your title for the full amount of your purchase price, this will cost you about $150+ (for a $500,000 home).

Title Insurance is a one-time cost that is usually included in your final closing costs.

What is title insurance and why is it important?

Title insurance is designed to protect the lender (and you, should you buy the personal Buyer Title Insurance policy) against title fraud and potential defects relating to the title of your home.

Some of the risks that title insurance protects you against include:

  • Title insurance protects lenders (and buyers) from financial loss due to defects in a title to a property.
    • A one-time fee paid for title insurance covers pricey administrative fees for deep searches of title data to protect against claims for past occurrences.
  • An unforeseen defect in your title ownership.
  • Negligence or errors made by your lawyer relating to title risks.
  • The most common claims filed against a title are encumbrances or judgments against property including outstanding lawsuits, back taxes, unpaid utilities, mortgages, or condo/strata maintenance fees – these are known as liens.
  • Incorrect signatures on documents, as well as forgery and fraud
  • Survey or records errors.
  • A pre-existing outbuilding that must be removed because it encroaches on a neighbouring property.
  • The gap period between when a property purchase is finalized or closed and when the title is officially registered with the government.

If an innocent homeowner is defrauded through transfer of their title and the fraudster who then takes out a mortgage and takes off with the money, then the lender now bears the risk of loss. This could make the small cost of Title Insurance worth it for you in BC.

If you are considering the purchase or refinance of a home, consider title insurance.  Talk to your Real Estate lawyer/Notary to understand the benefits of Title Insurance for your situation.

Please Note:  Please not make any decisions about buying or making changes to your title insurance policy without obtaining advice from a lawyer. I can explain the concepts and highlight some key areas to consider, however my expertise is in mortgages. 😊

Mortgages are complicated… you need to engage an expert!!!   Give me a call and let’s discuss a mortgage that works for you (not the bank)!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Expert
DLC – Canadian Mortgage Experts
Mobile 604-312-5009  



13 Oct

Mortgage Penalties – Ouch… How Much??

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Kelly Hudson

Buying a home is both exciting and nerve wracking!  Everyone’s home purchasing situation is different, based on the 4 strategic priorities that every mortgage needs to balance:

  • lowest cost
  • lowest payment
  • maximum flexibility
  • lowest risk

The details in the mortgage contract can far outweigh the rate being offered.

When looking at a mortgage – Interest rates are very important, but even more important are the terms of the mortgage contract.

When I talk to mortgage clients – I explain the terms of the mortgage including the penalties associated with breaking a mortgage prior to the maturity date.

No one signs a 5-year mortgage contract expecting to need to break their mortgage.

Regrettably, life happens and 60% of homeowners, break their mortgage before it matures! 

The penalty for breaking a fixed rate mortgage is usually the greater of 3-months’ interest, or the Interest Rate Differential (IRD)whichever is higher!!!

In some cases, when your mortgage is very close to maturity, the 3-month interest penalty will be higher, but otherwise the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty tends to be much higher than 3-months interest.

Variable rate mortgages usually use the 3-month interest penalty.

  • Some variable mortgages offering lower rates, however, will use an IRD or, in some instances, are closed (you cannot break them) without a bona fide sale of the property.
  • This is also the case for some niche fixed rate mortgage products.

With the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty, there can be vast differences from one lender to another.

The IRD penalty is typically based on 4 things:

  1. The principal balance of the mortgage at the time you break it.
  2. The difference in the interest rate of the original mortgage and the rate the lender WOULD charge for the term closest to the remaining time on the mortgage
    • i.e. if there are 21 months left on your mortgage, the lender will most likely use their 2-year term interest rate as the comparison rate.
  3. The number of months remaining in the mortgage term.
  4. The discount off the posted rate the lender gave you
    • i.e. posted rate for 5 year fixed 5.29% when you got your mortgage
      • The rate you got from the lender was 5.29% less 3.0% Discount = 2.29%
      • The lender will use the discounted 3.0% when calculating the IRD

Penalties for breaking your mortgage.  Please check out this GREAT 3 minute video from the Globe & Mail explaining how Banks calculate mortgage penalties for both Variable & Fixed mortgages and how banks squeeze even more money out of their clients by giving discounts off their inflated posted rates  VIDEO Drawing Conclusions: How much does it cost to break a mortgage?

Check out my BLOG Fixed vs. Variable Rate Mortgages – Pros & Cons

When mortgage shopping, you need to consider the interest rate, along with the terms of the mortgage including:

  • Confirm if there are prepayment privileges, or if it is a totally closed mortgage (except for a bona fide sale)
  • Pre-payment privileges (10%, 15%, or 20%)
    • Can you prepay throughout the year OR only on the anniversary date of your mortgage? Miss the anniversary date… too bad… so sad!
  • How your lender calculates their Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalties when breaking a mortgage

More information about mortgage penalties

·        Bank charges $30,000 mortgage penalty to woman forced to sell home due to pandemic June 1, 2020

·        When it comes to mortgage break penalties, big banks are often the worst Globe & Mail Nov. 14, 2019

  • Variable – 3 months interest approximately 0.5-1% of outstanding balance
  • Fixed – Interest Rate Differential (IRD) – Banks/Credit Unions as much as 4-5% of outstanding balance based on their (inflated) posted rates

When you get a mortgage, no one thinks about breaking a mortgage and the penalties.  Being educated about all aspects of a mortgage, can make a huge difference to your bottom line.

Let’s have a chat and find a mortgage that works for you, not the bank!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Expert
DLC – Canadian Mortgage Experts
Mobile 604-312-5009  



18 Aug

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) – Good or Bad??? Mostly it depends on your financial discipline …


Posted by: Kelly Hudson

More and more Canadians are using the equity in their homes as an ATM. The most common options are Lines of Credit (LOC) and Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Line of Credit 

A line of credit is an agreement by a financial institution (lender) to loan money to a borrower up to an agreed upon maximum. Interest is charged on the money that is withdrawn from the line of credit. i.e. if you have a Line of Credit for $10,000 and have borrowed $1,000 you only pay interest on the amount of money you have borrowed. 

Typical rates for a LOC are Prime plus 2-4%

The actual rate available to a borrower will vary depending upon several factors including:

  • general credit worthiness
  • security/collateral provided
  • borrowing/repayment history
  • employment
  • other products/services with that lender

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a secured form of credit. The lender uses your home as a guarantee that you’ll pay back the money you borrow.  A HELOC resembles a second mortgage but functions like a credit card.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a form of loan that lets you borrow money against the equity in your home. Unlike a traditional mortgage, most HELOC’s are not constructed to fit a pre-determined amortization, although regular, interest payments are required by most lenders.

HELOC borrowers should recognize that, over time, these products can also significantly add to consumer debt loads, since the revolving nature of HELOCs can also lead to greater persistence of outstanding balances.

  • Financially disciplined borrowers elect to repay their outstanding HELOC balances over a shorter period relative to the average amortization of a typical traditional mortgage.

A HELOC can be a worthwhile investment when you use it to improve the value of your home. However, when you use it to pay for things that are otherwise not affordable with your income or savings, it can cause problems for people who lack financial discipline, become a bad debt.

Typical HELOC rates are Prime + .50-1% (depending on your agreement, your lender may be able to change the rate at anytime)

People choose HELOCs primarily for three reasons:

  1. They want a cheap source of readily available cash, should they need if for renovations, investing, education, emergencies, or personal use.
  2. They want an interest-only payment (the lowest payment you can get since you don’t have to pay off any principle).
  3. They want a mortgage with no penalty if they make big prepayments i.e. sell their home or change lenders.

Calculating a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

As per the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), a HELOC can give you access to a maximum of 65% of the value of your home.

  • If you have a mortgage, your mortgage loan balance + your HELOC cannot equal more than 80% of your home’s value. (i.e. 65% HELOC + 15% mortgage = 80%)

HELOCs have a few disadvantages:

  • Your interest costs can soar when interest rates increase.
  • The revolving nature of a HELOC makes it very easy to get into debt and stay in debt if you are not financially self-controlled.
  • Making just interest-only payments can keep you indebted for many years beyond a traditional mortgage, since you do not have to make payments on the principle of the loan.

More information regarding HELOC’s:

  • 22% of borrowers get HELOC’s (source: CAAMP).
  • In 2014 the average HELOC was approved for $135,000 (source: CAAMP).
  • 9% of HELOC borrowers max them out
    • that includes people who use them as mortgage substitutes (source: CAAMP).
  • Most HELOC’s are collateral charges, which means you usually must pay legal or appraisal fees to change lenders.
  • HELOC’s can have two types of payments, depending on the lender:
    • Floating payments: This is where your payments increase, and decrease based on a benchmark of some sort (most commonly prime rate).
    • Fixed payments: This is where the lender keeps your payment the same for the entire term. If prime rate goes up, you pay more interest and less principal, and vice versa. In most cases, your payment must at least cover the interest due—or the lender will raise the payment.

The biggest challenge with using a HELOC instead of a mortgage, is that most people pay the interest only. By paying interest only, you have the lowest payment, BUT then “life happens” and you do not put any money on the principle to lower your debt.

With a traditional mortgage you pay both principle and interest, so every payment you make lowers your principle, and ultimately you pay off your mortgage.

HELOC’s are inherently riskier products, given their revolving nature and persistence of debt balances.

Using a home equity line of credit HELOC to buy your home.

While home equity lines of credit can provide people with low interest rates and flexible lending terms, “there’s more to this arrangement than meets the eye,”

Buying a house with a home equity line of credit has benefits that a mortgage doesn’t offer.

  • No prepayment penalty: The payment schedule on a line of credit is more flexible, so you can pay your mortgage off without incurring penalty fees. With a traditional mortgage, you may incur fees when you pay more than a certain percentage of the loan amount.
  • Readvancable: when you pay down the HELOC you can borrow the money again and again.

There are approximately 3 million HELOC accounts in Canada with an average outstanding balance of $70,000

Can you pass the HELOC knowledge test?

Despite Canadians’ confidence in their knowledge about how their secured line of credit works, the majority seemed fuzzy on the details.  When you use your home as collateral, the bank has legal rights to your property, and you cannot close on a sale of that home without paying back that loan.

For example, of those who said they did have a home equity line of credit:

  • 57% did not know that when you take out a HELOC the financial institution lending the money puts a mortgage on the borrower’s home.
  • 58% did not know that taking out a HELOC when they already have a mortgage on their home means that the lending institution places a second mortgage on the home, OR modifies the original mortgage to capture all the equity in the home;
  • 69% did not know that having a HELOC could negatively affect their credit rating or future loan applications.
  • 83% of survey respondents did not know that when they pay off and close their home equity line of credit, any credit card consolidated under this line of credit may be cancelled and not available for future use.
  • 62% did not know that having a home equity line of credit could negatively impact their ability to take out a loan or mortgage with another financial institution.
  • 58% did not know that when they take out a line of credit, their home becomes the bank’s security for any credit card debt, other loans they have with that bank, or any other loans they have co-signed.

HELOC’s for some can be a dangerous trap because they tend to spur people to spend more, which leaves them with more combined debt than someone without a HELOC.

Without understanding all the implications of this type of borrowing, consumers could risk their future credit or run into issues when they sell or refinance their home.

Here are a couple articles that may answer some of additional questions (or create some new questions!!) regarding HELOC’s.

·        Borrowing against home equity

·        Home Equity Loans: What You Need to Know

Let’s discuss a mortgage that works for you (not the bank)!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Broker
Canadian Mortgage Experts

22 Jul

Can You Port Your Mortgage??? Maybe… Maybe Not!


Posted by: Kelly Hudson

What is Porting a Mortgage? 

Porting is when you move your mortgage from your current property to a new property.

People do it when they buy a new home, want to preserve their current interest rate, OR avoid a penalty for breaking the mortgage early.  BLOG Mortgage Penalties – Ouch… How Much??

What many people don’t realize is that if you decide to port your mortgage, it is like starting from the square 1 on your mortgage. It requires a complete re-qualification for everyone on the mortgage, meaning a whole new application, all new employment documentation, a fresh credit check and a new appraisal.

Your mortgage is portable, right?

Most lenders claim their mortgages are portable, however porting is so complex these days that it has become one of the more over-rated mortgage features.

Let me explain:

  1. You don’t have enough income to qualify for the mortgage
    • If you don’t have enough provable income (i.e. your income has fallen since you last got approved), you could have a problem.
    • If you become self-employed after your mortgage funds, but don’t have the required two years of tax returns showing sufficient earnings. BLOG Self Employed??  Here’s What You Need to Know About Mortgages
  2. Your debt ratios are too high (you’re spending too much of your income on mortgage & debts)
    • If your monthly debt load and housing obligations have grown too large (more of your gross monthly income is needed to finance your home & debts), you’ll be declined.
      • In January 2018 the federal government implemented a Stress Test. Whichever is the highest is how you must qualify for a mortgage.
      • Qualify at the Chartered Bank Benchmark Rate (Government Rate) which fluctuates (currently 4.94%).
      • OR the contract rate your lender gives you PLUS 2% i.e. 2.99% + 2% = 4.99%
        • Since 4.99% is the highest – that would be the stress tested rate.
    • If you have to qualify for a mortgage at a rate about 2% higher than the lender is giving you, your buying power decreases by about 20%.
  3. The new home purchase date doesn’t match up with the selling of your current home
    • If the purchase of your new home closes after the lender’s porting deadline.
      • Typically, Lenders allow 30-90 days to port your mortgage from Property A to Property B (a few allow up to 365 days).
      • It can be difficult to get the closing dates of your current and new home to fall within porting deadline.
  4. Your new property doesn’t qualify
    • Lender may LOVE you, but they need to LOVE the new property as well.
    • Many lenders have changed criteria on investment, leasehold, age-restricted, remediated grow-op properties, building flaws, co-ops, etc.
  5. Your credit score has fallen
    • The lender will look at your current credit score.  If you no longer meet the lender’s minimum credit score (typically 680+), porting your mortgage may not be an option.
      • OR if the lender allows you to port, you will pay a higher interest rate.
  6. You need more money
    • If you are upgrading your home, you will probably need a bigger mortgage.
    • Some lenders will only port the exact same dollar amount.
      • That means you may have to come up with the difference if you buy a more expensive home, or break your current mortgage.
    • Please note that for lenders that allow a bigger mortgage, applying for more money while porting (a.k.a., a “port and increase”) could reduce your negotiating power because the existing lender knows you don’t want to pay a penalty to leave.
      • Your current lender does not have to be competitive, since you are “stuck with them” so you don’t want to pay the penalty for breaking your mortgage.
  7. You’ve got a variable-rate mortgage
    • Your lender may not port its variable-rate mortgages (many don’t), you may have to break it and pay a penalty.
      • Some lenders will require you to convert your variable mortgage to a fixed rate before porting… typically you wouldn’t get the best rate.
      • If your mortgage has a home equity line of credit (HELOC) component, note that some lenders refuse to port HELOCs.
  8. You can’t get bridge financing
    • If your take possession of your new property before the sale completes on your old property, you need to “bridge” the down payment until you get the cash from your sale.
      • The problem is, not all lenders offer bridge financing. If yours doesn’t, and you need it, and you can’t get it elsewhere, you may have to break the mortgage.
  9. The property is outside the lending area
    • Some lenders have very restrictive lending areas.
      • i.e. If you’re with a credit union, you generally can’t port out of the province.
      • Many other smaller lenders have restrictions on rural properties, especially if the mortgage is not mortgage default insured.
  10. You want to keep your current maturity date
    • Some lenders require you to get a brand new 5-year term when you “port” your mortgage to a new property.
      • A 5-year term “could” lock you in longer than you’d prefer at a worse rate than you like.

Forewarned is forearmed. Understanding the pros & cons of mortgage portability can save you a lot of stress.

The bottom line:  Mortgages are portable (in theory).  However, in practice over 60% of people can not port their mortgage.

Any questions?  Give me a call and let’s discuss a mortgage that works for you (not the bank)!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Expert
DLC – Canadian Mortgage Experts
Mobile 604-312-5009


15 Jun

Everything You Need to Know about Mortgage Default Insurance

First Time Home Buyer

Posted by: Kelly Hudson

Home buyers say the #1 obstacle to home ownership is saving enough for a down payment.

When you buy a home, your best option is a 20% or higher down payment. For many Canadians, a 20% down payment is not affordable.

What can you do if you don’t have the cash for such a big down payment? You can apply for mortgage default insurance.

How much money do you need for a down payment?  

The minimum amount you’ll need for your down payment based on the purchase price of your home
Purchase price of your home      Minimum amount of down payment
$500,000 or less
  • 5% of the purchase price
$500,000 to $999,999
  • 5% of the first $500,000 of the purchase price
  • 10% for the portion of the purchase price above $500,000
$1 million or more
  • 20% of the purchase price

In Canada, mortgage insurance is required federally on high-ratio mortgages (a down payment of less than 20%). This insurance, which protects the bank/lender in case the borrower defaults, gives lenders the flexibility to offer home buyers with low down payments the same low interest rates they would offer to home buyers with bigger down payments.

In Canada there are only three Canadian mortgage default insurance providers: Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corp. (CMHC), Genworth and Canada Guaranty They all have the same sliding scale, the larger your down payment the less insurance you pay.

CMHC is a federal Crown corporation, while both Genworth and Canada Guaranty are private insurers.

As a borrower, your lender selects the mortgage insurer, not you. Each mortgage insurer has their own criteria for evaluating the borrower and the property, and they decide whether or not your mortgage can be insured. Therefore, it’s possible that your lender may approve your mortgage application, but the mortgage insurer won’t. In that case, you won’t be able to get a mortgage unless your lender decides to try another insurer. Since there are only 3 insurers in Canada – 3 strikes and you’re out!  

How Mortgage Default Insurance works:

Mortgage insurance premiums are based on the amount of the mortgage. The smaller your down payment, the more expensive the mortgage default insurance. The premium is generally rolled into the mortgage but can be paid upfront as part of the closing costs.

  • If the insurance premium is added to the mortgage amount, then you pay interest on the total amount borrowed, including the mortgage default insurance premium.
Down Payment Premium on Total Loan
15% – 19.99% 2.80%
10% – 14.99% 3.10%
5% – 9.99% 4.00%

If you stop making payments, the mortgage default insurer would protect your lender from financial losses. If you have mortgage insurance for the property, the lender can make a claim against the policy and the mortgage insurer will pay the lender.  However you are still responsible for repaying any balance remaining to the insurer.

In other words, if the sale of the property isn’t enough to cover the balance of the mortgage owing to the lender, you don’t get off scot-free, your lender or insurer are able to come after you personally for the remainder of the balance.

Mortgage Default Insurance Exceptions:

  • Investment properties are not eligible for mortgage insurance; consequently, you will need a minimum 20% down payment to buy.
  • The longest amortization period for an insured mortgage is 25 years.
  • Homes over $1 million are not eligible.
  • Even if you have more than a 20% down payment, there are some situations when your lender may require you to get mortgage insurance (depending on the location, type of property, etc.).

Why is mortgage default insurance necessary?

Mortgage default insurance offers a benefit to the home buyer. Without mortgage default insurance, lenders would charge much higher interest rates, since you are higher risk than someone with more than 20% down payment. Even though you pay mortgage default insurance, you benefit from paying less interest on the total mortgage amount.

When you buy a home, your best results will come when have a minimum 20% down payment, check out my BLOG 5 GREAT Reasons To Provide a 20% Down Payment when Buying a Home

If you can’t save a 20% down payment, then mortgage default insurance could allow you to buy your home.

Would you like more information regarding mortgage default insurance?

Give me a call and let’s discuss a mortgage that works for you (not the bank)!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Expert
DLC – Canadian Mortgage Experts
Mobile 604-312-5009

21 May

Buying a rental property? What you need to know about Rental Add-Back vs Rental Offset


Posted by: Kelly Hudson

Add-backs and offsets are two different methods for accounting for the rental income from an investment property.

If you are considering purchasing a rental property, understanding how add-backs and offsets work, is important when qualifying for your next mortgage.

Please note that regardless of the method used, lenders do not use 100% of the rental income, typically they use around 50%.

Rental Add-Back

Many lenders use the add-back method to account for the rental income on investment properties.

This means is that they will add a percentage of the rental income to the rest of your income. This will be used to calculate your ability to make payments on the rental mortgage and your other debts, hence the term add-back.

For example, if rent is $2000 a month ($24,000 per year) and the lender allows 50% add- back, therefore $12,000/year. An additional $12,000 income will not make a big difference to the amount of mortgage you can qualify for

Additional Mortgage available with $12,000 rental income (rule of thumb is 4-5 times) = $48,000-60,000 additional mortgage affordability

Rental Offset

In contrast, a Rental offset approach gives you more bang for your buck, since you can use a percentage of the rental income to offset (subtract from) your rental expenses.

A lender will typically use 50% of the rental income to offset the mortgage Principle, Interest and Tax mortgage payments (PIT).

Therefore, if your rental property earns you $2,000 per month, and the lender will allow for 50% offset i.e. $1,000 to offset (subtract from) the PIT payment.

To see how this works, let’s assume PIT payments equal $1,200. Since you earn $2,000 in income, and the lender uses a 50% rental offset rule, you deduct $1,000 from the $1,200 PIT payment.

Therefore, only the $200/month difference must be covered by your other income.

With Rental add-back – the whole PIT $1200 for the rental property must be covered by your income (including the $12,000 rental income with 50% Add-back).

The bottom line is, it is very difficult to qualify for financing on rental properties using the 50% add-back rule, especially in areas like Vancouver or Toronto which have higher home prices.

Regrettably, there is no standard with lenders regarding Rental income. Some lenders use Rental Add-Back while others use Rental Offset rules.

To overcome this financing obstacle, you need to work with your mortgage broker to decide which lender(s) have the best rental options for your situation.

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… Engage an expert!

Give me a call and let’s discuss a mortgage that works for you (not the bank)!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Expert
DLC – Canadian Mortgage Experts
Mobile 604-312-5009

11 Mar

4½ Types of Home Ownership – Freehold, Leasehold, Strata or Cooperative

Home Ownership

Posted by: Kelly Hudson

In general, there are four common types of property ownership in Canada: Freehold, Strata, Co-Operative and Leasehold with advantages and disadvantages to each of the type.  Therefore it’s important for home buyers to know the differences between the different types of property ownership when they’re shopping for a new home.

Freehold Property Ownership Freehold is the most common type of property ownership in Canada.

It’s what we traditionally think of as property ownership; you own the building and the land it sits upon.  A freehold interest (also known as a fee simple) is the more precise term for what we ordinarily refer to as “ownership” of a home

You own the building and grounds it rests upon for an indefinite period of time and have full use and control of the land and buildings on it, subject to any rights of the Crown, local land use bylaws and any other restrictions in place at the time of purchase.  You have the freedom to make changes to building and yard (subject to zoning, bylaws and permit limitations) and are responsible for cost and maintenance.

Most single-family homes are freehold.

Strata Property Ownership Most condo and townhouse developments are strata properties. Single-family detached home strata properties are rare, but they do exist.

When you buy a strata property, you have strata title with full ownership of all the interior elements of your unit, you also share ownership of common property that exists within the strata. Oftentimes this shared common property includes parking, hallways, amenity rooms, gym space, laneways, and the building’s entrances and exits.

As a strata owner, you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your unit but the costs of looking after the common property are covered by monthly fees charged to every owner.

These strata/condo fees are proportional to the size of your unit; if you own a large two-bedroom unit you’ll pay more than someone living in a small bachelor suite.

As strata properties are comprised of a number of people sharing common spaces, there are rules and bylaws that govern how those spaces can be used. There may also be rules that regulate what you can do in your own private space so it doesn’t have an adverse impact on your neighbours, or the common spaces owned by everyone.

These rules are set by a council of owners that is elected by owners in the strata. The council is also responsible for the strata corporation that is set up to administer the strata. They set budgets, hire contractors, adhere to maintenance schedules, get repairs done, deal with complaints and infractions of the rules and bylaws.

 Co-op Property Ownership is similar to owning a unit in a strata.

In the cooperative form of ownership, each owner owns a share in a company or cooperative association which, in turn, owns a property containing a number of housing units. Each shareholder is assigned one particular unit in which to reside.

But instead of owning the interior of your own unit and sharing ownership of common property, owners in a co-op each own a share of the corporation that actually owns the building or complex. That share ownership then gives you the right to occupy a unit within the co-op, provided you don’t break any of the co-op’s rules and you pay your housing charges on time.

As you are not buying into the actual real estate when you purchase a co-op, you’ll require a different kind of financing from your lender called a share loan.  It works much like a mortgage except your share in the co-op is the loan’s collateral, instead of the property.

Like a strata, all owners in a co-op share the expense of repairs and maintenance through monthly fees.

Owners in a co-op must follow rules and regulations set and administered by a co-op board which is elected by members of the co-op.  The co-op board also has the power to approve or reject prospective new members, which must comply with provincial human rights legislation.

Leasehold Property Ownership You would own the actual building or unit, but would rent or lease the land itself for a set period of time and there are varying lease terms.

Living in a leasehold property is like living on borrowed time.  Leasehold interests are frequently set for periods of 99 years, but regardless of the length of the original term, you will only be able to purchase the remaining portion. Of course, the shorter the remaining portion, the less you, or the person who eventually purchases from you, will be willing to pay for the leasehold interest.

When you buy a leasehold property, you own the building but the property on which your home sits is owned by somebody else who has leased it back to a builder or developer. Typically, those leases last for 99 years. When the lease expires, the property’s owner could choose to renegotiate the lease to current market rates. Or they could reclaim the property as their own for redevelopment after buying out owners at fair market value.

There are 3 types of leased land: government (federal, provincial or municipal), First Nation reserve land and private companies/individuals can also own leasehold land.

Most developers prepay the cost of leasing the land, then incorporate that into the selling price of their projects. If they didn’t do that, then you’ll be paying rent on top of your mortgage payments, strata fees and taxes. And you won’t be protected from periodic adjustments to reflect the current value of the land.

While most properties appreciate over time, a leasehold property can actually depreciate, especially as the lease gets close to expiring. That uncertainty over a property owner’s future plans for their property can make it more difficult to get financing for a leasehold property. The lender could require a larger down payment, or it could be amortized over a shorter period of time.

Despite their uncertainty, leasehold properties can be a good option for property ownership, especially if they’re still early in the lease period. They can be cheaper than freehold properties or offer better value in desirable neighbourhoods. But the uncertainty that comes with leasehold can make them a poorer investment than other types of property ownership.

Leasehold interests can become particularly risky real estate investments as they approach the end of their lease, as the owner of the property can choose to resell the leasehold interest, redevelop the land entirely, or leave the area vacant.

Before you put too much effort in buying leasehold, find out how long the head lease is; most Financial Institutions require it be a minimum of 5 years longer than the amortization of the mortgage loan.

Co-owning a Property – There is another option for property ownership, called co-owning. It is becoming a viable option for some families who’ve been priced out of owning a home.

Co-ownership is when two or more owners enter into a legal agreement to own a single piece of property. Usually co-ownership involves family members, such as parents and grown offspring, who may share the same home or live autonomously in separate dwellings like a house and laneway house.

Co-ownership agreements are complex documents, with plenty of legal protections to safeguard both parties in the agreement as well as the lender financing the mortgage. If co-ownership is an option, you need to engage a lawyer experienced in constructing such agreements.

Information on obtaining a mortgage for Leasehold or Cooperative Ownership 

Typically, you will find your Mortgage Lender more cautious about financing Leasehold and Cooperative property as they are considered a riskier type of collateral and may come with a higher mortgage interest rate and/or higher down-payment.

Speak to your Mortgage Broker to obtain more information.

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… Engage an expert!  Give me a call and let’s discuss a mortgage that works for you (not the bank)!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Expert
DLC – Canadian Mortgage Experts
Mobile 604-312-5009

8 Jan

BC Property Assessment vs Home Appraisal


Posted by: Kelly Hudson

What is BC Assessment?

It’s January and people in BC have started receiving their property assessments.

BC Assessment is a provincial Crown corporation that values all real estate property in British Columbia. Every year, BC Assessment sends property owners a Property Assessment Notice telling them the fair market value of their property as of July 1 the prior year (July 1, 2019).

To see the most recent assessment for a property, click on the link BC Assessment and type in the address.

The real estate market is the single biggest influence on market values. Market forces vary from year to year and from property to property. The market value on an assessment notice may differ from that shown on a bank mortgage appraisal or a real estate appraisal because BC Assessment’s appraisal reflects the value as of July 1 of the previous year, while a private appraisal can be done at any time.

Use your BC Assessment as a starting point for the value of the property your planning your home purchase… Do not rely on BC assessment for the exact value of the property you’re considering purchasing.  Markets in BC can change quickly both increasing and decreasing in value depending on the area.

What is a Home Appraisal?

An appraisal is a document that gives an estimate of a property’s current fair market value.

Often there is no connection between BC Assessment and appraised value.  This is why lenders want an appraisal – an independent evaluation of the property’s value at this moment in time.

Primarily home appraisals are completed at the request of a lender.   Lenders want to know the value of a property in the current market before they are willing to lend against the home.

The appraisal is performed by an “appraiser” who is typically an educated, licensed, and heavily regulated third party offering an unbiased valuation of the property in question, trained to render expert opinions concerning property values.

When an appraisal is done, consideration is given to the property, the home, its location, amenities, as well as its physical condition.

Appraisals may also be required when an owner has less than 20% down payment and needs mortgage default insurance.

Who pays for the Home Appraisal?

Typically, the borrower pays the cost of the appraisal, and upon completion, the appraisal goes directly to the lender (does not go into the home buyer’s hands).

I know it sounds odd, but brokerages, lenders and appraisers cannot just show the buyer the appraisal on a property, even though the borrower paid for it.

  • Think of an appraisal as an administrative fee for finding today’s current value of the property

You need a Home Appraisal since the lender doesn’t want to lend on a poor investment and the appraisal helps the buyer decide if the property is worth what they offered (especially in hot markets like Vancouver & Toronto).

  • What if you offered $475,000 and the home appraisal came in at $450,000?

 Why don’t you get a copy of the appraisal?  The appraiser considers their client to be to the lender (the reason the appraisal was ordered).  The lender has guidelines for the appraisal, and the appraiser prepares his report according to those parameters.

The lender is free to share the appraisal with the borrower, but the appraiser cannot share it.  This is because the lender is the client… NOT the borrower!!  It doesn’t matter who pays for the appraisal.

Sometimes an appraisal can come in lower than the purchase price, causing angry calls to the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), and the answer they give is: the Brokerage or Lender is the client of the appraiser, and as such has ownership of the report.

One of the main reasons the buyer pays for the appraisal, is that if the mortgage doesn’t go through, the lender does not want to be on the hook for paying for the appraisal and not getting the business.

Lenders are also aware that home buyers could take the appraisal and shop it around with other Lenders to try and get a better deal.

It is rare for Lenders to share the report. With most appraisal companies, the appraisal may be provided after the closing of the mortgage transaction and must have the lender’s approval.

After the funding of your mortgage, some mortgage brokers may offer to refund your appraisal fee.

While a lender does not have to release the entire appraisal, there are some pieces of information that remain the personal property of the buyer, and PIPEDA legislation guarantees them access to that. However, any information on the report that does not relate to the property itself (such as the neighboring properties or other data about the community) would come off the report before the lender provided it.

Some other reasons for getting an Appraisal:

  • to establish a reasonable price when selling real estate
  • to establish the replacement cost (insurance purposes).
  • to contest high property taxes.
  • to settle a divorce.
  • to settle an estate.
  • to use as a negotiation tool (in real estate transactions).
  • because a government agency requires it.
  • lawsuit

Getting your home ready for an Appraisal:

The appraiser report involves a report including pictures of the home and property with the appraiser’s value of the property, along with a short summary of how that information was derived.

BLOG Need an Appraisal – 7½ Tips for Success 

Most lenders have an approved appraiser list which requires appraisers to have the appropriate designation. Lenders tend to reject appraisals that are ordered directly by property owners.  Lenders want the appraisal to be ordered by the broker or the lender, primarily to avoid potential interference from the property owner.

Home Appraisal Costs

Appraisal costs do vary.  Most home appraisals start around $350 (plus tax) but they can go much higher depending on how expensive the home is, location, complexity of the appraisal and how easily the appraiser can access comparable data.

BC Assessment vs appraised value: lenders want an appraisal – a professional, independent evaluation of a homes value, at this point in time!

Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be… Engage an expert!

Give me a call and let’s discuss a mortgage that works for you (not the bank)!

Kelly Hudson
Mortgage Expert
DLC – Canadian Mortgage Experts
Mobile 604-312-5009