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Calculating your mortgage penalty…

Todays market is bringing alot of questions about whether you should consider refinancing your mortgage for a better rate.  There are many different reasons people might re-negotiate their current mortgage.   You may be considering using some of the equity in your home you have built up and use it to buy a rental property,  Make and RRSP contribution or investment, pay off some high interest rate debt or just renegotiate your current rate for a better more competitive rate and lower monthly payment.

Below are some ways in which you can get a good idea on what kind of penalty you may be faced should you want to refinance your current mortgage.  Again these are used simply as a guideline and are in no way exact.   The lending institution you are currently dealing with will give you the exact amounts relating to your specifac situation.

Calculating Payout Penalties & Interest Rate Differentials (IRD)

Many closed mortgages include a clause stating that the payout privilege on the mortgage will be a three-month interest penalty, or interest differential, whichever is greater.

For the calculations below,  using the following scenario:
  • $300,000 remaining on the mortgage
  • 3 years into a 5-year fixed term at 5.5%
  • Today’s interest rate: 3.5%

We’ll just be using the simple interest amount – the actual amount of the penalty could be a little less than the amount quoted in the examples.

Three Month Interest Penalty :

Mortgage Balance X Interest Rate X 3 months

Plugging in the variables above, we would get:

=   $300,000   X   0.055    X   0.25                (5.5% = 0.055,  3/12 = 0.25)

= $4125.00 would be the 3 month interest penalty

Now we have to calculate the interest differential – and that’s where penalties can be quite substantial – especially since interest rates have dropped considerably lately.

Interest Differential Penalty:

Current Mortgage Balance  X Interest Rate Differencial  X Time remaining

=$300,000 X 0.02  X 2

(0.02 = 2% which is the difference from 5.5%-3.5%, and 2 years left in term)

=$12,000.00 would be the Interest Differential Penalty

In the example above, the bank would then use the Interest Differential Penalty since that amount is the greater of the two. Remember that the way banks calculates their penalties sometimes is a mystery to me and can be greater than the figures above so make sure you ask.

Please remember that its not always about RATE,  although important,  there are other important steps you need to take into consideration when considering paying a penalty and shopping for a mortgage.  Let a mortgage expert, put strategic steps and the right product in place that will ultimately make sure its in your best interest to pay a penalty and that your saving money.

I would also invite you to take a look at this link.  I am part of a community of mortgage brokers that created a forum to get our best ideas together a create a simple and educational strategy  showcased here on this website.    A program I implement with all my clients, wherever they are in the mortgage process.  Its a program created in mind to help consumers pay more attention to their mortgage and implement simple easy steps to save thousands of dollars.   When was the last time  your bank phone you up at any time to show you how to save money on your mortgage.  I think i know the answer…..Please click the link and learn something valuable  today then contact me to get started.

http://www.moneyinyourmortgage.com/af/194/lisaalentejano/about

I am a licensed mortgage broker with years of financial experience,  able to help you with your mortgage  any where in Canada and Alberta. Remember my services are free and never should you feel there is any obligation.   So please pick up the phone and contact me directly I would love to hear from you 1-888-819-6536. If your more comfortable with email please feel free to email me your questions at lisa@mortgageplayground.com

Expert, unbiased advice is what i offer to all of my clients.

Author, Lisa Alentejano

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Renewing and refinancing mortgages is saving Canadians big bucks

Canadians saved $2.7-billion in the past year renewing or refinancing their mortgages and the betting money among consumers seems to be that interest rates are not going up any time soon, according to a new survey.

The Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals says 37% of Canadians opted for a variable rate mortgage in the last year, pushing up the overall percentage of Canadians floating with prime — and vulnerable to Bank of Canada rate hikes — to 31%.

But the group maintains Canadians are not overexposed to a potential rising rate environment with the survey finding 84% say they could handle a rate increase that boosted their mortgage payments by $200 per month. The average amount of room Canadians say they could afford on top of their current costs is $750 per month.

“Overall, our survey paints a picture of Canadians generally and homeowners in particular as very focused on their finances,” said Jim Murphy, president of CAAMP. “They are planning ahead, aggressively paying down their mortgage in advance of any economic jolt.”

Government policy that cracked down on refinancing rules may also be having an effect on the market. Earlier this year Ottawa tweaked the rules on refinancing, restricting consumers to 85% debt on the value of their home, down from 90%.

CAAMP said Canadians have become conservative about taking equity out of their home with 10% of mortgage holders doing so in the last year, a drop from 40% a year earlier.

“There is no need for policy makers to introduce new measures that would reduce housing activity,” said Mr. Murphy, his comments clearly aimed at suggestions the market needs even more governance and tighter measures such as increased minimum downpayments.

It’s clear Canadians are enjoying the low interest rate environment that CAAMP says lowered the average mortgage rate to 3.92% from 4.22%. The effect is that among the 1.35 million mortgage borrowers who renewed or refinanced in the past year, the savings was $2.7-billion.

“Some people are coming out of 5% plus mortgages and saving a lot of money,” says Rob McLister, editor of Canadian Mortgage Trends. Someone with a $500,000 mortgage going from 5% to 3.29% with 20-year amortization could save almost $40,000 in interest over a five-year term, he says.

Mr. McLister is seeing a growing line of people looking to break a mortgage and willing to pay the interest penalty.

CAAMP said 32% of Canadians reported making some sort of change to their mortgage in the past year with almost two-thirds of those people saying they were refinancing or renewing their mortgages. Among those who renewed, 78% got a rate reduction.

 

Canadians who are looking for that better rate appear ready to shop around with 21% of respondents who renewed or refinanced their mortgages in the last year saying they switched lenders.

Mortgage rates continue to be at or near all-time lows with a flatter yield curve reducing the steep discount on variable rates and making locking in more attractive. The website ratesupermarket.ca says the best variable rate product on the market now is 2.48% while a five-year fixed rate closed mortgage is now as low as 3.19%.

“What you are facing is whether you lock in today and know what my rate will be for the next five years or go variable and gamble,” says Mr. McLister. “There is risk there.”

Sal Guatieri, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets, said the savings are positive because it is putting extra money in the pockets of Canadians. “I almost expect more people to jump into variable given the long-term interest rate environment looks so benign,” says Mr. Guatieri.

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Mortgage Rates – How to protect yourself when they increase – Video message!

Heres a video I personally did on how to take a proative approach to protect and prepare yourself with rising interest rates in the future and save thousands of dollars! Click below to view video

Inflation Hedge Strategy - Learn to protect yourself from rising rates

Lisa Alentejano

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Is it time to lock in your mortgage?

Do you lock in your mortgage or not?

Heres an interesting article on things to consider when locking in  your mortgage or at least considering renewing your mortgage for a better rate.  Lots of things to look at when rates are at an all time low.  You can imagine consumers are taking a good look at their mortgage and where they want to go with it. Small differences in rates can save  you thousands over the longer term.  As most of us have a mortgage for years, take advantage of at least looking at your current mortgage and consider whether making a change could be beneficial.   As always any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at 1-888-819-6536.

The gap between short-term and long-term rates has shrunk enough that it might be time for anyone renewing a mortgage to consider locking in.

Moves last week by the major banks to reduce the discount on variable-rate mortgages comes as the discounts for long-term mortgages have gotten as steep as they have ever been.

“What seems to be happening is they are focusing their attention on fixed rates. We are starting to see some aggressive competition on four-and five-year products,” says Gary Siegle, a mortgage broker and Invis Inc. regional manager in Calgary.

How aggressive? Try as much as 190 basis points. A five-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a posted rate of 5.39% is now being offered for 3.49%.

For whatever reason, the four-year, fixed-rate mortgages are being priced even more aggressively.

Mr. Siegle says he can lock consumers into a four-year, fixed mortgage for as low as 3.09%.

The discounting comes as variable-rate products, linked to prime, have become more expensive. Short-term money has become more expensive in the bond market, forcing banks to reduce discounts.

The banks traditionally move their prime rate with the Bank of Canada rate. With no flexibility there and existing customers getting huge discounts based on old deals, banks are forced to raise rates for new loans as short-term money gets more expensive.

The trend began in April when FirstLine Mortgages, a subsidiary of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce known for its low rates, cut its discount on variable rates.

Others banks were slow to follow, hoping to make money on volume. But refinancings have dried up under tougher mortgage rules and sales have slowed, creating the need to tighten profit margins on variable-rate products.

Today, the discount on a variable-rate mortgage is about 55 basis points off the prime rate of 3% – in other words, 2.45%. Compare that to 3.09% on a four-year mortgage and the premium to lock in is not that much.

“This gap is about as narrow as it goes,” says CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal. “It reflects a flat yield curve, which makes it difficult to make money in this business.”

Mr. Tal says variable-rate mortgages tend to be more attractive when there are inflation expectations not yet expressed in short-term rates. This time, he says, the bond market is depressed, anticipating recession, and that has shrunk spreads dramatically.

The one thing keeping people in short-term money is the sense that there is no urgency to move because the U.S. Federal Reserve Board has pledged not to raise rates for two years, which also effectively ties the hands of the Bank of Canada.

“We know the five-year rate is attractive, but we also know short-term rates are not raising,” Mr. Tal says.

What does that mean on a practical, dollars-and-cents basis?

Let’s use the Canadian Real Estate Association’s 2011 average sale price forecast of about $360,000 and assume a 20% down payment and a $288,000 mortgage.

At 2.45%, your monthly mortgage payment based on a 25-year amortization would be $1,282.98. At 3.09%, your monthly payment rises to $1,376.28.

But even at the gap, you would pay about an extra $7,000 in interest to lock in over four years.

Ultimately, the $7,000 amounts to an insurance policy. You get payment certainty for four years, but at a price.

If rates climb 200 basis points on your variable-rate mortgage, it could cost you $22,000 more in interest over four years. The reality is that rates wouldn’t jump at once and, therefore, increases would likely be gradual.

Moshe Milevsky, the York University finance professor who wrote the oft-quoted study that variable-rate mortgages do better than fixedrate mortgages 88% of the time, said if you start thinking about it like insurance, it comes down to your risk tolerance.

“There are people who pay a lot for protection on their portfolio; there are people who pay a lot for life insurance,” Prof. Mr. Milevsky says. “If the premiums are low enough, you might say, ‘Sure, I’ll pay.’ But if you have a tight budget, every basis point counts, and it might not be worth it.”

To me, he still has the ultimate answer for the tough decision whether or not to lock in.

“I still don’t get why more Canadians don’t split their mortgage,” Prof. Milevsky says. In other words, locking in half of the mortgage and floating with prime on the other half.

“When is a bank going to come to the realization Canadians hate making this choice?”

He’s right. Even with rates this low and the gap between short-term and long-term rates this narrow, it is still a tough call

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Why I paid $10,000 to break my mortgages

Why I paid $10,000 to break my mortgage

Tara Walton/Toronto Star  By Bryan Borzykowski |

Last September, my wife and I started scouring the city for a new house. We were living in a cozy bungalow, but with a growing kid and another on the way, we decided it was time to move.

Buying a new house is, of course, expensive, so I wanted to do whatever it took to reduce my costs. Most of the fees couldn’t be avoided, but there was one costly payment I desperately wanted to steer clear from: The mortgage penalty charge.

I had just over 12 months left on my five-year mortgage term, which meant that I either had to break my mortgage or stay with my current lender by transferring my mortgage to my new house. The latter option would have allowed me to avoid the fee. However, my lender couldn’t give me the best interest rate.

The new lender, a bank, was offering a variable rate of 2.25 per cent, a much lower rate than my old lender was willing to offer. I calculated that over the term I’d be better off paying the fee and taking the lower rate.

It was going to cost me $10,000 to break my contract. It felt like an unnecessary cost — I paid my lender so much in interest over the four years, why would I have to cough up so much cash?

I asked my broker to see if the lender would waive the fee, even though I was using a new lender for my next house, but they didn’t. Peter Veselinovich, vice-president of banking and mortgage operations at Investors Group, isn’t surprised. “The charge isn’t negotiable,” he says.

While the penalty may seem like an arbitrary sum, it’s not a cash-grab, he says.

The lender takes mortgage funds from money invested in GICs and other products and then it pays investors interest on those investments.

The idea is to match a five-year mortgage with a five-year GIC, so investors can get paid back at the same time as the mortgage comes due.

If a mortgage is broken, the lender needs to come up with money to fill the gap between the investment coming due and the mortgage ending. Hence the fee. The lender then takes that lump sum and invests it, so it can pay investors back when its GIC comes due.

The penalty is calculated two ways: you either pay 90 days of interest or what’s called an interest-rate differential, which is a penalty based on your old rate and a new rate based on a shorter term.

For example, let’s say you wanted to exit your 5 per cent five-year term with three years left to go. The lender would look at the current three-year term rate, which, say, is 3 per cent, and then charge you interest on the difference, 2 per cent, for 36 months. The sum also depends on how much money you still owe the bank.

However it’s calculated, the payment can be huge.

Darick Battaglia, a mortgage broker and owner of Dominion Lending Centres’ Barrie location, says that while it may seem as though people have to empty their bank account to pay the penalty, ultimately, by paying the lower rate, they’re getting that money back in mortgage savings.

Whether you’re moving houses, or just want to break a mortgage to take advantage of a lower interest rate, people often pay the penalty so they can free up more disposable income.

“It can help people get into a better financial position, because they have more disposable income,” says Battaglia. “They may find that it’s better to invest that money in an RRSP.”

If you’re moving, there are strategies to help reduce the penalty or even not pay it at all.

Almost all mortgages allow people to put a certain percentage of money down on a house every year; I was allowed to pay 20 per cent of my balance every 12 months.

In some cases, lenders will allow you to designate the first 20 per cent — it could be less or more depending on your lender — of the proceeds of a sale of a house towards the prepayment in order to pay down the outstanding balance and so reduce the mortgage penalty.

Battaglia has dealt with many lenders who refuse to honor this type of arrangement. They want two checks: one for the prepayment and one to pay off the mortgage.

My own lender refused to let me make one payment; I had to borrow money from my broker, who paid my prepayment three days before closing. I had to pay him back with some of the proceeds of the sale. It was a major hassle. But I did save about $1,500.

Some lenders will eat the fees themselves to retain the business. Again, most want the money. Battaglia says that some banks — he’s seen this happen with Scotiabank and TD — will waive the fee as long as you extend your term. He often uses the penalty as a negotiating tool.

“I’ll tell a lender I’m shopping around and while we’d like to keep a client’s business with your company, what can you do on the penalty?” he says. “A lot of times the penalty gets reduced or it’s paid off by the lender.”

Porting a mortgage to a new house is another way to avoid the fee.

Let’s say you have $100,000 left on a mortgage with a 4 per cent rate, but you need $200,000 more for the new house. The bank will give you the additional money at the new rate, which could be 3 per cent. You’d keep the same term or extend it and now you’d pay a blended rate, in this case 3.5 per cent on $300,000.

“There are no penalty costs, because you’re still honouring the original contract,” says Veselinovich.

Most people will have to open their wallet when they break a mortgage.

Fortunately, you can avoid paying administration fees that the lender will charge you. It’s not necessarily a big cost — Veselinovich says people get charged between $75 and a few hundred dollars — but why pay more money than you have to?

“These fees should be readily negotiable based on your past performance and your relationship with the lender,” he says.

While I did get my penalty reduced by making a prepayment before closing, I still had to write a cheque for about $8,000. It was painful at the time, but now that I’m in my new house, paying a new mortgage at a much lower rate, I don’t think about the penalty anymore.