Pay off Mortgage Early

4 methods to pay off your mortgage early

Some homeowners are eager to get out of mortgage debt early. The reasons range from the psychological pressure of being indebted to slashing interest payments.

For retirees, paying off your home loan early can help you increase your cash flow. This is especially beneficial when you transition into a fixed income.

For some folks, getting rid of debt is a stress relief, more than a financial strategy. These homeowners might not like the emotional and mental impact of owing money.

And, finally, by paying down your mortgage ahead of time you will reduce the amount of total interest you pay on your loan. This can be a substantial savings. The bigger the loan and the more time you pay on it, the more interest you’ll owe. You can check Bankrate’s Mortgage Payoff Calculator to see how much you can save by settling your mortgage early.

Whatever your reason, we have strategies that can help you achieve your goal.

4 methods to pay off your mortgage early

Paying off debt early is a feasible goal if you have a budget, extra cash and an early-payoff plan of action. Here are four ways homeowners can get rid of mortgage debt and own their house outright.

1. Make extra payments

There are two ways you can make extra payments that will speed the paying-off process. The first way is to split your monthly mortgage payment in half and make bi-weekly payments instead. By doing this, you’ll end up making the equivalent of 13 months of mortgage payments instead of 12. This tactic might be easy for some homeowners because it’s barely noticeable in the monthly budget.

You’ll want to speak with your lender about whether they accept bi-weekly payments, some might not. In this case, it’s up to you to set aside those bi-weekly payments, but you’ll make them in one shot each month. The benefit of that extra annual payment is still there, but without the convenience of the bank allowing monthly payment splitting.

The second approach is to pay more each month to chip away at the principal faster, which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. For instance, let’s say your 30-year mortgage is $250,000 and your interest rate is 4 percent. If you make an additional $100 monthly payment to the principal balance of your loan, you’ll shave off four years and $27,957 from your mortgage.

This can be a better tactic than refinancing as it doesn’t lock you into a payment. So, if for some reason, you can’t add more to your monthly mortgage payment you won’t be penalized.

If you go this route make sure to check with your lender that the payments will be applied in the correct way to reduce the principal, not prepay the interest. You’ll also want to make sure they understand the extra payment is not for the next month’s mortgage payment.

2. Refinance your mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage to pay it off early only makes sense if you can get a lower interest rate. Keep in mind, there are fees associated with refinancing so you want to make sure the savings cancels out the cost of refinancing.

Refinancing into a shorter-term loan, such as going from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage, can also help bring down your interest rate while putting you on the path to early payoff. Use Bankrate’s mortgage calculator to compare payments and total interest between 30-year and 15-year terms here.

3. Recast your mortgage

Mortgage recasting is different than refinancing because you get to keep your existing loan, you just pay a lump sum toward the principal and the bank will adjust your amortization schedule to reflect the new balance. This will result in a shorter loan term.

One major benefit to recasting is that the fees are significantly lower than refinancing. Usually, mortgage recasting fees are just a few hundred dollars. Plus, if you have a low interest rate, you get to keep it. On the flip side, if you have a high interest rate, refinancing might be a better option.

4. Make lump sum payments toward your principal

An alternative to recasting is to make lump-sum payments to your principal when you can. Homeowners who get large bonuses or those who inherit money or sell valuable items, might choose to use the extra cash to pay down the principal. Since VA and FHA loans can’t be recast, lump-sum payments might be the next best thing. Also, you’ll save yourself the bank fee for recasting.

With some mortgage servicers, you must specify when extra money is to be put toward principal. Check with your servicer if you are unsure how additional payments will be applied.

Young Woman with Face Mask at Office

How technology will empower real estate’s new normal amidst COVID-19

In Ontario, the government is gradually reopening the economy, allowing facilities from retail stores and parks to open with restrictions to prevent COVID-19 spread. Premier Doug Ford hasn’t set hard deadlines for things to go back to normal completely, but over the next few weeks, people are expected to slowly return to their offices — with caveats.

“If there are two words that will characterize the post-pandemic world, it would be behavioural change,” says Ram Srinivasan, managing director of consulting at JLL Canada.

JLL recently wrote a guide on how companies can plan for office re-entry, covering issues like how to reconfigure the office to accommodate social distancing, and using technology as part of this strategy.

Bridging the gap with technology

Srinivasan notes that workflows and ecosystems could look “radically different” in the future. “For example, during the pandemic, we are seeing increased demand for virtual site visits,” Srinivasan says. JLL itself uses Blackbird, a London-based provider of cloud computing solutions, to facilitate these visits. “Even before the pandemic, at JLL we had been making strategic investments in these areas to support our clients and transactions professionals and this is likely to only accelerate once the ‘next normal’ arrives,” Srinivasan says.

The pandemic has put more of a spotlight on the tech abilities of companies, who are either seeing the benefits of their technology platforms or finding gaps in their capabilities.

“The environment we find ourselves in now will prompt a rethink across every sphere, from smarter workplaces and buildings to smarter communities and cities,” says Srinivasan.

How work will change

Srinivasan anticipates that there will be more investment in virtual collaboration tools, but because people are social creatures, workspaces that take a hybrid approach that allows for both face-to-face interaction and virtual working is the most likely scenario, he says.

Remote working technology, robotics for health screening, Internet of Things technology, and unmanned vehicles will become more important for replacing some human interaction.

Commercial office spaces will feel an impact even as COVID-19 restrictions are gradually lifted. A four to six-phase re-entry process is likely for most companies, Srinivasan says, but some workers may not even return with those phases.

In JLL’s published guide, the firm notes companies could consider incorporating more touchless technology, redrawing floor plans and limiting desk sharing. Companies can also use technology to monitor access and occupancy on their floors to control the density of spaces.

“Space demand will evolve as the pandemic response evolves and we move into a next normal ecosystem,” says Srinivasan. “There are several forces at play here, but there are two that impact space demand significantly. The workforce could be more open to remote work in the future. At the same time, social distancing norms could mean workspaces that are not as densely packed.” Both strategies would be responsible strategies for shaping office demand, Srinivasan notes.

Regardless of how the COVID-19 situation evolves, integrating digital technology will only continue to accelerate with commercial real estate operators and office spaces.

“As always, the most adaptable will thrive in the next normal,” Srinivasan says.

Author: Jessica Galang

Simple steps you can take to prepare for a recession amid coronavirus.

The fast-spreading new coronavirus has health authorities recommending that Canadians prepare a COVID-19 emergency kit. But they may also want to have an emergency fund.

With stock markets and oil prices plummeting to record lows, some economists are expecting a recession. RBC, for example, recently updated its economic forecast to predict Canada will experience a brief economic downturn before bouncing back somewhat in the latter months of the year.

While the bank is still optimistic that the economic pain will be generally short-lived, RBC warned of job losses in industries that have been particularly exposed to the virus-led disruption:

So what can Canadians do to soften the potential blow to their bottom line?

Perform a financial reality check

The first step is assessing your financial vulnerability. Income, says financial planner and best-selling author Shannon Lee Simmons, is “the most important piece.”

If you do, you’ll want to calculate how much money you’re eligible to receive through EI. If you’re a freelancer or business owner, try to estimate how much lower your income could go as work slows, says Lee-Simmons, founder of the New School of Finance.

Next, calculate how much money you’d need to get by until you found a new job or business went back to normal, she adds.

There are likely many ways in which you’d be able to cut back expenses in a lean time, said Robb Engen, a financial planner and author of the popular money blog Boomer and Echo.

For example, if your monthly revenue takes a dive, you may want to put contributions to your retirement account on hold, he says.

Go through your current budget and see which line items you could drop if you had to, Engen suggests. You’ll find you can probably do away with some of your current subscription services.

This is also a good time to review your monthly bills and see if you can lower any of them, he adds. For example, could you get a better deal on your cell phone plan or your home and auto insurance?

“Even if you could save yourself $20 a month on one of those recurring expenses, that’s $240 in the year.”

A few of those savings could buy you some flexibility during a spell of unemployment, said Engen.

They could also help you beef up or establish an emergency fund, he added.

Build an emergency fund

Engen recommends having at least three months’ worth of living expenses stashed away in a bank account. Having access to a home-equity line of credit (HELOC), is simply not enough, he adds.

While HELOCs, which have relatively low-interest rates and flexible repayment terms, can be a source of funds in a crunch, they shouldn’t be your first and only resource in tough times, Engen said.

Ideally, your emergency fund would allow you to ride out the rough patch without racking up any more debt, he said.

Debt payments

Paying down your high-interest debt is even more important than having rainy-day savings, according to Engen. Paying 20 per cent interest on your credit card carryover balance is what Engen calls a “hair on fire emergency.”

“You should get rid of that as soon as possible.”

Then if your income dips in a recession, at least you’ll have some room to borrow again, if you absolutely need it, he said.

But ramping up your debt payments isn’t always a good idea. Canadians with student loans are better off focusing on beefing up their emergency fund, Lee-Simmons says.

Government student loans are relatively cheap, she notes, and borrowers who can’t keep up can apply for repayment assistance.

If you lose your job, you can put your loan payments on hold and use your emergency fund to help carry you through without piling on more expensive credit card debt, she argues.

Buying a house

The flip side of the coronavirus upheaval is very low-interest rates. Financial market turmoil has pushed down the cost of borrowing, including for mortgages. Both five-year fixed rates and variable rates are currently hovering around an eye-watering 2.6 per cent, according to rates-comparisons site

If you’re in the market for a new home, this means you can now get a larger mortgage and buy a bigger house. But it also means you could easily become overstretched financially, Lee-Simmons says.

“Make sure that you buy a home you can afford and ensure that you can … put money into emergency savings once you’re in the house so that if there is a recession and you lose your job, you can make ends meet.”

Having a baby

A new mouth to feed will undoubtedly add to your budget, but Lee-Simmons says that’s no reason to let the economy dictate when to start or grow your family.

“There is no magic amount of money or income level that you need in order to be able to afford a kid,” she says.

“People make it work with a lot and people make it work with a little.”

For those approaching retirement

The gyrations of financial markets in the past few weeks have been bad enough to make anyone with money in the stock market feel sick.

For investors with a broadly diversified portfolio and a long time horizon, the advice is often to do nothing at all. With no need to withdraw funds, they can afford to wait out the market crash.

For those approaching retirement, though, it’s a different story. If you’re going to need to draw on your investments in the not-so-distant future, you need a plan to protect your portfolio from market declines, Engen says.

He recommends having enough to cover at least five years’ worth of expenses in a mix of bank deposits and cash-like investments.

Engen suggests putting one or two years’ worth of expenses in a savings account. In addition, investors can cover another three to five years with a so-called “ladder” of Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs).

GICs work like a special kind of deposit. Usually, investors lend the bank their savings for a set number of months of years and receive interest in return. With GICs you are guaranteed to get your principal back, which makes them one of the safest investment options out there.

If you need $20,000 to live on in addition to government retirement benefits and any pension you may be getting, here’s how a GIC ladder would work. You’d put $20,000 in a one-year GIC that would return principal and interest after a 12-month period. You’d put another $20,000 in a two-, three-, four- and five-year term GIC as well. Each year, the maturing GIC will provide for your cash-spending need.

The rest of your portfolio could be in a mix of stocks and bonds. Every year, you can draw from the bonds to buy a new five-year GIC. You can draw from your equity holdings to replenish your bond investments when the stock market is having a better year, Engen says.

“The nice thing about this kind of bucket approach is that you can ride out a period of volatility because you have … years’ worth of spending in more secure, guaranteed investments.”

Sylvane’s Top 10 Spring Cleaning Tips for 2020

Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning your home. Spring cleaning is important for everyone, particularly if you’re an allergy sufferer. You owe it to yourself and your family to enjoy a clean that’s more than dirt-deep. Think allergen-deep.

And you don’t have to dread spring cleaning. Just follow our top 10 spring cleaning tips and tricks for allergy sufferers:

1. Make a Schedule

Scope out your home: What areas need the most work? Where do you skip during routine cleaning? Those are the best places to start. Regardless of where you start, having a plan for when you’re tackling each room will keep you focused on the task at hand.

Our printable room-by-room Spring Cleaning Checklist can help. 

2. De-clutter

Decluttering makes you more efficient and keeps you organized. But more than that, clutter has psychological influences. It signals to your brain that work isn’t done. Studies have shown that a disorganized home adds to your stress level. The scientific implications of inhaling dust – combined with the psychological stress of coming home to a pile of unsorted laundry or cluttered desk – can take a toll.

Set aside some time to:

  • Organize your closets
  • Dust and organize your office
  • Look through that dreaded junk drawer

You may be surprised how fresh you feel after you eliminate unnecessary stress from your life.

3. Always Work from Top to Bottom

When you think about how to spring clean your home, it’s important to start from the ceiling down. This will force debris downward and keep you from having to re-dust or re-clean your space. If you have a vacuum with an extension hose, use it to get cobwebs and dust from your ceilings and fans first.

Then dust your furniture and other items before vacuuming all the dust and debris off your floors. It will save you time.

4. Use a HEPA Vacuum

Is your vacuum ready for spring cleaning? Finding the right vacuum is one of the most important parts of spring cleaning. Remove more than just dust and build-up when you vacuum. A high-quality HEPA vacuum catches particles you can’t even see. It traps pet dander, allergens and all household particles in your home.

It’s one of the best spring cleaning supplies you can arm yourself with. Using a vacuum with HEPA filtration will remove dirt and dust, but it will also remove allergens and impurities from your air.

You’ll see this suggestion on just about every spring house cleaning list.

If you don’t have a HEPA vacuum, look for one with attachments, like dusting brushes and crevice tools, and hoses that can be used to clean any location.

These tools make it simple to clean ceiling fans, cobwebs in corners, furniture, pillows, and tight spaces like behind furniture. Be sure to move your furniture too (or at least vacuum under it).

5. Think Green When You Spring Clean

You want to start spring off on a clean note, so don’t expose yourself to chemicals and toxins. A steam cleaner is one of the best green products for spring cleaning. It can be used to clean your microwave, tile, hard floors, kitchen appliances, bathrooms, and even outdoor areas.

Since steam cleaners only use hot water vapor, they are a 100% natural and chemical-free cleaning solution. But keep in mind – not everything can be steam cleaned.

If you don’t have a steam cleaner, one of the best natural combinations for cleaning is white distilled vinegar, baking soda, and water. These ingredients are affordable, non-toxic, and have worked for ages when it comes to cleaning.

See our top spring cleaning products for allergy-sufferers. They’ll clean your air, floor and furniture without a single chemical.

6. Walls and Windows Need Love too

People almost always clean their floors, but they typically forget about walls and windows. Not all dust settles on the floor and other surfaces. Just use a damp towel to wipe down walls and blinds (starting from the top). Remove and wipe down the window screens outside.

When it comes to the actual window, we don’t suggest using chemical cleaners. A steam cleaner with a squeegee is a great way to clean windows.

7. Don’t Be Scared of the Kitchen and Bathroom

Don’t fear cleaning your bathroom! Review our full list of spring cleaning tips to quickly hit these trouble areas. Here are a few common trouble areas:


  • Wipe down your cabinets.
  • Go through your pantry and refrigerator. Wipe down the shelves, and throw away any old items.
  • If you have stainless steel appliances, be sure to use gentle cleaners or a steam cleaner to avoid scratching or other issues.


  • Change your shower curtain.
  • Go through your cosmetics drawer or medicine cabinet and throw away any expired items.

Consider installing or upgrading to a new bathroom fan. Replacing an existing fan or adding a new one can help to ensure your bathroom remains in top notch condition. They are great for ventilating moisture during showers and removing odors/vapor removal. Depending on the unit you select, it may even come with built-in lighting, automatic operation, and other user-friendly features.

8. Don’t Forget About Your Air

Replacing furnace and HVAC filters is one of the most important and overlooked parts of spring cleaning. In fact, replacing a standard filter with a more robust one with a high MERV rating will help keep you healthier as you enter spring.

It will catch smaller, irritating particles. Air conditioner ducts build up dust during winter, and upgraded filters catch unwanted particles so they don’t enter your space. It’s an inexpensive way to make sure you’re breathing clean, healthy air.

The best way to ensure healthy spring air void of allergens, indoor chemicals or odors is with an air purifier. If anyone in your home suffers from allergies or wakes up stuffy during allergy season, adding an air purifier to his/her bedroom will help.

9. Have Severe Allergies? Protect Yourself.

Cleaning will more than likely unsettle all the winter dust on furniture and fixtures. If you suffer from allergies or are using heavy-duty cleaners, be sure to read the labels. For safe spring cleaning, wear rubber gloves, masks, scarves and even hairnets. Protective clothing will help guard against skin irritations and allergic reactions.

10. Let Spring Cleaning Set a New Tone

If your space feels dark and heavy, you can make small changes to help make it light and fresh for spring. Adding new colorful pillows or art are great ways to change up your space. Replacing items like bedding, towels, table linens, and even window treatments are other ways to transform your rooms for spring and warm weather ahead.

In Summary

Follow these spring cleaning tips to make your season change a breeze. Top tips include make a schedule, start by de-cluttering, always work top-to-bottom and don’t forget about cleaning your air.

Tips for selling your home in a buyers’ market

In this market, sellers need to be realistic about the price they set

Any home will sell if the price is low enough but that’s of little comfort to people trying to sell their homes during a buyers’ market.

In this market, sellers need to be realistic about the price they set. Forget about last year’s property tax assessment or what homes in their neighbourhood sold for during the last two years, as those valuations are long gone.

Instead, to prevent overpricing your home in a slumping market, base your list price on active comparable sales not recently sold homes.

I like to underprice my property to make it stand out. Next, I give my home, inside and out, a thorough clean. An unkempt house and/or landscaping gives the impression that you haven’t been maintaining the house properly and that there could be other issues.

If need be, hire a professional to do a deep clean. This means cleaning such things as the inside and outside of all your appliances, restoring your grout, and getting rid of any unpleasant smells.

Presenting in best light

At this time, I wouldn’t recommend doing a major renovation. We are nearing the end of spring so you should be listing your home as soon as possible before we hit the slow summer months. Instead, work with what you have but present it in its best light by using a professional photographer.

You may also want to consider hiring a home stager or borrowing some furniture, paintings and the like, to make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

Painting and doing some minor renovations are a must. In a hot market, buyers are willing to look past imperfections like chipped tiles or a broken bannister but not in a slow market.

Don’t give the buyers any excuses to grind down your selling price. Clean, paint and fix what you can — as my handyman friend is fond of saying “do your best and caulk the rest.” A fresh layer of caulk around your moldings in the kitchen or bathroom does wonders.

If, after a couple of months, your property is receiving little or no interest from buyers then it might be time for a change. Consider pulling your listing and re-listing with another Realtor.

If you did your part by setting a realistic price, making yourself available for showings, and taking the time to clean/paint/stage your home, then the problem is likely due to the valuation/appraisal or marketing — which is the Realtor’s responsibility.

I’ve only replaced my Realtor once in my life and it wasn’t easy. He was a great guy who spent a fair amount of time and money to market my home but for whatever reason it didn’t work.

When you are trying to sell your home, which for most people is their largest financial asset, it’s okay to put your needs before those of your Realtor’s.

My top takeaways for sellers

  • Many of my recommendations seem like common sense, but so many sellers fail to adhere to them. All the cleaning, painting and repairing pays major dividends in the long run. Do not underestimate the importance of first impressions.
  • When choosing a Realtor be selective. Don’t make the mistake of choosing the realtor who says they can get the most money for your home. Have them justify their appraisal and grill them on their marketing strategy. They also need strong negotiation skills.
  • Be accessible for short-notice viewings — particularly in the first two weeks after listing.
  • Consider every offer. Even if you believe an offer is too low it doesn’t mean you have to accept it. But I would still try to negotiate.


Mark Ting

Top 10 tips from the best mortgage brokers in Canada

Are you looking to refinance your mortgage? Looking to consolidate debt? Searching for a HELOC? Then you’ll want to read this article. We picked the brains of the best mortgage brokers in Canada. We asked them for their top tips when shopping for a loan product, and they certainly delivered.

Home transactions such as second mortgages, investment property purchases, HELOCs, and refinancing, are the largest financial decisions you will likely ever make. By reading this article, you’ll be better prepared the next time you’re looking to make such a decision.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 tips from CMI’s top brokers.

It’s not just about the lowest rate

Finding the ideal mortgage product isn’t just about finding the one with the lowest rate. While the mortgage product with the lowest rate may be the best mortgage for you, it’s no guarantee. It’s important to consider other factors like prepayment, mortgage penalties, and portability, which we’ll discuss below.

This is particularly true for second mortgages and investment properties. Your interest rate is really just one piece of the puzzle, and may not even be the most important.

Not all prepayments are created equal

Is your goal to pay off your mortgage or HELOC as quickly as possible? Then you’ll most likely want a product with generous prepayment privileges. Prepayments are extra payments you’re able to make above and beyond your regular mortgage payments without incurring a mortgage penalty.

Some lenders are more generous than others. For example, some lenders will let you prepay 20 percent of your loan balance as a lump sum on any of your regular mortgage payment dates throughout the year, while others will only let you prepay 10 percent once a year on your anniversary date.

If this is important to you, you’ll want to choose a lender with more flexible prepayments.

Consider loan penalties

When you’re refinancing a mortgage or buying an investment property, probably the last thing on your mind is mortgage penalties, but by ignoring penalties you could be making a big mistake.

Most Canadians choose five-year fixed-rate mortgages for their safety and security, but did you know that they often to come with the highest mortgage penalties of all? The big banks tend to have the highest penalties of all.

If you think there’s a chance you could break your mortgage, it could be worth choosing a mortgage with a slightly higher rate and lower penalties.

Read the fine print on portability

Do you think there’s a chance you could sell the property during your mortgage term? Then you’ll want to choose a mortgage that’s portable. With a portable mortgage, you can take your mortgage with you without incurring a high mortgage penalty when buying a new property.

But be sure to read the fine print. Some portability clauses are more generous than others. Don’t just assume you can port your mortgage end of story.

Standard or collateral charge

When choosing a loan product, make sure to ask if it comes with a standard or collateral charge. A first or second mortgage with a collateral charge means that you may be able to take out a home equity line of credit later on, however, it makes it tougher to move your mortgage when it comes up for renewal.

Because of that, your lender is less likely to offer you its best mortgage rates upon renewal. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for before signing on the dotted line.

Don’t forget to budget for closing costs

When buying a property, don’t ever forget to budget for closing costs. Closing costs include land transfer tax, real estate lawyer fees, and home inspection. Contrary to popular belief, your bank won’t typically cover them, you’re responsible for them. The same goes for HELOCs, you will likely be expected to pay for an appraisal.

Budget up to four percent on closing costs. If you’re buying a $500K home, you should set aside up to $20K for closing costs.

Don’t put your mortgage application in jeopardy

When applying for a mortgage, don’t do things to put your application in jeopardy. Examples of things that can hurt your mortgage application and even cause it to be declined, include quitting your job in the middle of the application, or making big purchases on your credit card or taking out an auto loan.

Those most likely will affect your income and credit, two major factors lenders look at when considering your application.

Shop around with a mortgage broker

Your local bank branch can be a good first step, but if you want to do your due diligence, be sure to shop around with a mortgage broker. A broker can shop the market for various mortgage products on your behalf, saving you time and money, along with protecting your credit score.

Consider monoline lenders

You might hesitate to use a lender outside the big banks. But by considering monoline lenders, you could save yourself thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan product, not to mention pay a less costly mortgage penalty if you end up breaking your mortgage down the line.

Shop around at your renewal date

Last, but not least, be sure to shop around with a mortgage broker when your mortgage comes up for renewal. By simply signing on the dotted line, you’re potentially leaving thousands of dollars in savings on the table.

There you have it, our top tips from the best mortgage brokers in Canada. Now, next time you shop for a mortgage, you’ll be a savvier consumer.

17 December 2018 / by

‘Sell before you buy’ is the new housing market battle cry


It’s spring, but the real estate market in much of Canada has yet to exit hibernation.

Home sales in Metro Vancouver for the month of March plummeted to the lowest level since 1986, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. Activity in Alberta and Saskatchewan was more than 20 percent below its 10-year average for the month, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) said. In Toronto, sales volumes were flat.

Granted, there are still signs of life in some parts of the country. Sales in Quebec and New Brunswick, for example, were well above average.

But many Canadians who need to sell a house this year will likely meet unfamiliar market conditions — those of a slow-moving housing market. Real estate agents, meanwhile, are dusting off their playbook from a decade ago, before the housing craze began.

So what does it take to sell your house in these conditions?

Curb your price expectations

The first step to get your home sold in this kind of market is to think hard about your pricing strategy.

In Vancouver, where the April housing market is looking a lot like March, real estate agent Steve Saretsky says buyers should price ahead of the market.

There were less than 1,800 recorded transactions in the Greater Vancouver area last month, CREA numbers show.

“If you want to be one of the few houses that sell, you have to set the market, not react to it,” according to Saretsky.

Given the current downward price trend in the city, that means a home that may be worth $1.4 million today may have to be priced at $1.375 million he said.

Know that the spring housing market isn’t everything

Many people believe the best time to put their home on the market is somewhere between March and June. That’s understandable since the spring is when most buyers start house hunting, said Romana King, director of content at, an online real estate marketplace. The common wisdom is that parents, in particular, are keen to seal a deal by the start of the summer to be able to resettle the family in time for the start of the school year in September, she added.

The spring is often when you should list your home if you want to sell it fast, according to King.

But if you want to sell a home for top dollar, you’re not necessarily selling it the quickest,” she added.

When Zolo analyzed housing transaction data going back around 15 years in both Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, it found that there was often a price premium for sellers who listed in the fall. Your home may remain on the market for longer but net you a higher offer in the end, King said.

King also cautioned against reading too much in some of the larger estimates, like Whistler’s $250,000 premium for April listings. Those are areas that have seen significant volumes of new buildings added to the local housing supply over the past decade. Newer homes tend to sell for more so that can skew averages, King said.

‘Sell before you buy’ is a thing again

Some agents are advising some clients to sell their home before they commit to buying a new one.

These days, the market for sellers is “a bit less predictable” than it has been in the recent years, Pasalis said. People who buy first are typically under pressure to sell quickly so they can free up cash to finance their new home. That means “they don’t always have the luxury to be patient with the marketing of their home,” he added.

Typically, selling first makes sense if you’re in a buyer’s market, King said. When buyers have the upper hand, selling is the difficult part. Vice versa, once you’ve cleared that hurdle, finding a new home should be relatively easy, King noted.

Her rule of thumb is to sell before you buy in a buyers’ market and buy before you sell in a hot market that favours sellers. A balanced market is always a bit of a toss-up, she said.

But figuring out what market you’re in requires some legwork, she cautions.

“Work with your agent to determine which kind of market are you working in for your particular property [type] and neighbourhood,” she said.

And keep in mind that if you’re changing neighbourhood or transitioning from, say, a house to a condo, the conditions of the market you’re selling in may be different than those of the market you’re buying in, she added.

Longer closing times and conditional offers are back

If your plan is to house hunt only after you’ve accepted an offer on your home, you may want to make sure that you can find and take possession of your new place before you lose ownership of your old property, King cautioned. This means the closing time — the period between when an offer is accepted and when ownership is transferred — needs to be longer on the property you’re selling than on the property you’re buying.

Closing times as short as 30 to 60 days have become the norm, but in a slower housing market, there’s nothing wrong with telling a buyer that you’re going to need 90 to 120 days, according to King.

If you’re buying first, consider submitting an offer that is conditional on you being able to sell your home. In a sellers’ market, such conditions may scupper the deal. But that is less and less the case in a slow market, according to King.

“In the last 10 years these conditions disappeared … because everyone was rushing to try and get into the market,” she said.

Now, though, she added, they’re making a comeback.

De-personalize your home and punch up your curb appeal

If you’re showing the house while still living in it, you and your agent won’t be able to stage it the way you would if you had moved out. But you should still de-clutter and de-personalize your space, according to King.

Ideally, your home should be a “blank canvas” in which other people — your prospective buyers — can see themselves living, she said. Your job as a seller is to enable that fantasy.

That means things like family photos, children’s artwork pegged to the fridge, and knickknacks from your trip to Mexico that only mean something to you have to disappear, King said.

And creating a blank slate may also mean repainting your walls white — or some mainstream-trendy shade of light gray, she added.

Another kind of sprucing up you should invest in if you’re selling a house, rather than a condo, is improving your curb appeal, King said. Things like hiring a gardener to fix up your front yard or filling up the cracks in your driveway pay off, she added.

What to do if your home isn’t selling

If your “for sale” sign has been sitting on your lawn for a while with no sign of the dream offer you were expecting, there are usually two main courses of action. One is reducing your asking price, the other is re-listing at a later date.

If you’re getting few showings and no strong offers, “that’s usually a good clue that the issue may not be your list price, but rather the current market conditions,” Pasalis wrote in a recent blog post. If you can hold out for a few months, it may be a good idea to postpone selling until the market picks up.

But if you realize your pricing wasn’t realistic, you should look at reducing your ask “sooner rather than later,” Pasalis told Global News.

Most sellers are inclined to do so only gradually, but a series of small reductions of $10,000-$15,000 won’t cut it if your price is significantly out of whack, he said.

At the end of the day, Saretsky mused, “you’re only worth what you sell for.”

“Everybody wants to get a little bit more than their neighbour did. But if you can keep your emotions in check, that’s going to serve you well.”

Coaldale Mortgage - Market Update January 2017

Lethbridge & Coaldale Market Update – January 2017

Being Lethbridge and Coaldale mortgage professionals, the team at Mortgage Worx is consistently monitoring the housing market performances of each town and its surrounding communities.

In doing so, we can confidently provide our clients with the best advice and services possible when it comes to getting a mortgage.

Per the Lethbridge Real Estate Board Association, home sales in December 2016 were just under what they were in December 2015. Last month there were 126 units sold, a 2.6% decrease from the same month last year in Lethbridge.

For the 12-months of 2016, home sales in Lethbridge reached a nine-year high thanks to a 1.2% jump from what 2015 sold.

The average home sold for $262,265 in December 2016, a small decrease of 1.7% from the same time last year, while the average selling price for a home in all of 2016 experienced a 1.3% increase to $266,801.

Looking at Coaldale specifically, the average price that a residential home sold for in 2016 was $269,110, a drop from the $287,065 average recorded in 2015. Also falling was the number of total home sales as they dropped from 165 units to 148 units year-over-year.

The number of listings in Coaldale stood at 266 units for all of 2016, a number that was slightly higher than the 249 we saw in 2015. The average sale-to-list price fell from 65% in 2015 to 55% in 2016.

However, the number of new listings for all property types in Lethbridge equalled 135 units last month, the exact same as December 2015.

Overall, the number of residential months of inventory was 8.4 months at the end of December 2016, up minimally from the 8.2 months we had in December 2015. This number is calculated by taking the number of homes for sale on the market and determining how long it would take for them to sell based on the current pace of sales.

Although there were no major changes in the area in December, we can expect things to start to ramp up once again as we get further into 2017. With oil prices on the rise and a new season upon us, it wouldn’t be surprised to see sales increase over the coming months.

If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in the area, consulting a Coaldale mortgage broker from Mortgage Worx is a great way to ensure that you get the right deal for your situation.

We are here to help people Lethbridge and the surrounding areas find the right financial plan suited for their needs. For more information, reach out to us today!




Fort MacLeod Mortgage

3 Great Reasons To Use A Mortgage Broker

As Fort MacLeod mortgage professionals who have been helping people in the city and its surrounding areas find the perfect mortgage for years, our team is constantly asked numerous questions.

Questions regarding what exactly we do as mortgage brokers, how we differ from a direct lender and how much a broker costs are all concerns we see on a frequent basis.

To help answer some of these questions and ease your mind when faced with the decision of whether to work with a mortgage broker, we’ve compiled a short list of three reasons why you should use a broker when it’s time to get a mortgage.

  1. More Options

At Mortgage Worx Inc. – The Mortgage Centre, we have access to more than 30 of the nation’s top lenders in which we use to find you the best rate.

This means that we can talk to different lenders to see what they can offer you. We negotiate with these lenders on behalf of you to find the lowest rates we can. On the other hand, banks normally just have a couple of options for clients as they can only offer what that specific bank carries.

Using a broker and shopping through the network of lenders that we have relationships with, our team will provide you with increased options so you can ultimately get the mortgage package that best fits your unique situation. These lenders will battle for your mortgage, and this is something we use to our advantage to get you a lower rate!

  1. Save Time and Money

Working with a Fort MacLeod mortgage broker like one from Mortgage Worx can save you and your family a considerable amount of time and money. A broker is an intermediary between you and the lender, saving you valuable time that you may otherwise have had to spend shopping yourself around to different lenders. A broker is essentially a one-stop shop for your mortgage needs.

A broker can also potentially save you thousands of dollars by negotiating lower rates with lenders, something that may not be possible if you were to approach a lender on your own.

  1. Brokers Work For You

Finally, mortgage brokers work for you! Our team is not employed by the banks or any other lender. In fact, all our advice and recommendations we make are done with all of your best interests in mind.

Additionally, a broker’s service is generally free to you! When a lender agrees to take on your mortgage, that lender will compensate the broker that helped you. This is extremely beneficial to you as you are not charged a broker fee!


If you’re considering buying a home, refinancing a mortgage or consolidating debt, contacting one of our Fort MacLeod mortgage professionals is a great first step to ensuring you get the right deal.

Located in Lethbridge, we are happy to serve Lethbridge, Fort MacLeod and its surrounding communities. For more information on how we can help, contact us today!


Lethbridge Mortgages - Buying a home

Are You Really Ready To Buy A Home?

Buying a home is a big step in a person’s life and there are many factors that must be considered before you can sign any agreements and move into your new space.As Lethbridge mortgage professionals, the team at Mortgage Worx Inc. – The Mortgage Centre deal with many first-time homebuyers on a consistent basis and are able to help clients evaluate whether or not they are truly ready to buy a home.

With interest rates experiencing some favourable lows over the past year, many first-timers are eager to enter the homebuying market. However, taking advantage of good interest rates shouldn’t be the main reason you decide to purchase a home.

There are many reasons why you may or may not be prepared to purchase a home and our team has identified some of these for you to review before taking the plunge.

Know what you can afford

This applies to a down payment and your overall mortgage amount. Before speaking with a mortgage broker or agent you should have a general idea of how much money you can contribute towards a down payment on a home.

As of February 2016, the minimum amount for a down payment on new insured mortgages increased to 10% for part of the home price for homes above $500,000 while those under $500,000 stayed at 5%. Typically, the majority of people choose to pay a down payment of 20% as anything under this amount requires the purchase of mortgage default insurance.

A Lethbridge mortgage broker at The Mortgage Centre can help you determine how much you can afford to put on a down payment as well as how much you can afford to pay monthly towards a mortgage so that you’re not breaking the bank right off the bat.

Don’t purchase based on anticipated income increases

Some homebuyers anticipate a future promotion or hike in their annual income and therefore believe they can buy a more expensive home. This is something to avoid doing for obvious reasons.

Not only do expected promotions or new job hiring’s go as planned, but there is also the potential for career changes. Things can change quickly and this is why you should never purchase a home driven by the expectation that you will be making more money in the future and can thus afford to get a higher-priced home.

You plan on staying for awhile

Purchasing a home is a big deal and a serious process, so if you’re not planning on staying at a home for at least 5 years, it might not be the right time to purchase. There are many people who purchase homes and end up moving within 5 years, however it’s wise to buy a lower-priced home that you feel you could sell quickly if needed should you not envision staying in it for a long time.

Set money aside for unexpected costs

Plumbing repairs, a broken air conditioner, a new roof and faulty electrical units. These are just some of the things you can expect to repair or replace if you stay at a home long enough.

In the case of such events occurring, having an amount of cash set aside strictly for these unexpected occasions can help you in the long run. This will undoubtedly bring you peace of mind and limit any stress caused by these events without throwing a wrench into your monthly budget.


By considering these factors, you should have a better idea as to whether or not you are actually ready to buy a home.

As we mentioned, the purchase of a home is a big deal. If you’re considering buying a home, talking with one of our Lethbridge mortgage professionals can help you get an advantage and ensure you are being looked after properly. Contact us today to learn more on how we can help with the homebuying process!