November 26, 2015

Rates, shmates (orig.posted Feb.11.2015)

NOV 26, 2015

When artists email me about mortgages, and there have been a lot of you lately, the first question (often prompted by one or both of your parents) is:

Can you get me the lowest rate?

The Coles notes response is: YES

The 900 page, unabridged response is: YES, I can get you the best rate for YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION.

The difference between those two answers is subtle but important. Rates are NOT the only factor to consider when you are preparing to jump into the property game.

•Mortgage Rates are directly connected to a mortgage product
•That product must be the best for your situation
•Everyone’s situation is DIFFERENT

Take cell phones, for example. The lowest RATE out there might be $9.99 a month, but the PRODUCT is a rotary dial flip phone, no data, no texting, and no incoming calls.

Mortgages are exactly the same: Sometimes the lowest RATE puts you with a mortgage PRODUCT that is just as archaic as your Dad’s first car phone that you plugged into the lighter jack.


In our current financial climate, however, we are facing a boon of awesome rates paired with fantastic mortgage products. BUT, and there is always a BUT, you and your financial situation need to qualify.

Yes, your neighbour’s brother in law’s cousin SAYS he has the lowest rate but, again, what is the product that goes with his flip-phone mortgage?

When I am scoping out a rate + product out of the 30(+) lenders available to me, there are many things to take into consideration that will affect what you qualify for:

•Income (and type: salary, contract, self-employed, stated income)
•Credit score
•Down Payment
•Previous Bankruptcies

These factors are the tip of the iceberg for qualifying. What you may not realise is, when I’m scoping out your options, conditions and roadblocks tend to pop up that indicate that we might have to take a different route.

Some clauses include:

•Must quick-close in 45 days (there will be a 90 day close % rate, and a 120 day close % rate)
•No Self Employed or Stated income deals (generally, we know which lenders to avoid)
•No pre-approvals
•No rural properties
•Credit score above 680
•Must have minimum 5% of own funds for down payment
•No rentals
•Conventional deals only (20% down payment)
•High Ratio, insured mortgages only (less than 20% down payment)
•Live deals only
•25 year amortisation only
•No 15% top-ups to net income

And the list goes on.

If you don’t meet just one of those conditions, it’s back to searching (and, p.s., that’s what I’m here for.)

When it comes to PRODUCTS, you and I also need to consider your future options:

•If I refinance in 5 years at a different lending institution, what are my EXIT fees?
•Is this a STANDARD mortgage or a COLLATERAL mortgage?
•If I want to put a lump sum on my mortgage, what are my pre-payment privileges?
•If I have a growing family, can I extend my mortgage if I buy a bigger house?
•Is this product portable? Can I take it with me to my new condo in the middle of my 5-year term?

Again, the list goes on, but THIS is why the 900 page, unabridged answer is so important for YOU, especially if YOU are an artist.

We work in such an abstract and creative world, we forget that when it comes to finances, more specifically YOUR FINANCES, there aren’t any shades of grey. Your numbers go into an algorithm and come out as a profile. It won’t look like anyone else’s (which is the only artistic aspect of the process).

I’m only scratching the surface on this topic but, I sincerely hope this helps when the time comes to get you suited up with hundreds of thousands of dollars (run away screaming!!!) to buy your first home.

Thanks for reading!

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November 21, 2015

What do you mean, I'm the grownup? (orig. posted April 2012)

NOVEMBER 21, 2015

If you see this as my status update it usually means that I am facing a GROWN UP SITUATION that I’d rather PRETEND is not happening. Over the past 12 months, it has usually meant that I was making lifestyle decisions on behalf of a loved one, leading to my final conclusion that:

Growing up is not as fancy as I once thought it would be.

Turns out, my grown up universe of music, costumes, and fun gigs, is currently being combined with real life decisions not previously indicated in my score.

Parents, AGING Parents

There are no rules on how to do things RIGHT;
how to make things FLOW without any BUMPS or BRUISES,

How does this specifically apply to you, the young artist hitting the big time?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but I’m very grateful that I followed my gut instinct and prepared ahead. I could not have predicted what would be on the other end of my preparations but, I guess, that’s the point.


As you are saving, and making sure that your money is growing, please
have an undeniably uncomfortable conversation about: YOUR PARENTS’ WISHES for managing THEIR MONEY and THEIR QUALITY OF LIFE if they are UNABLE TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR THEMSELVES.

The conversation with
my mom went a little something like this:

• ME: Do you still have debt?
MOM: I don’t know. (that is code for YES, a LOT.)

• ME: Have you updated your WILL?
MOM: Noooooo, I don’t THINK soooooo..... (that is code for NO. Most recent: 1974)

• ME: Power of Attorney for property, Health you have any of these so that I can legally make decisions if you are no longer able?*

MOM: Stop asking me questions! (also code for NO)

After a lot of
“discussion,” these legal updates were updated. If * the time ever came, decisions could be made based upon written requests, and not emotional guesswork by me, or the province.


Probably the hardest subject to broach, due to the myriad of conflicting information, is the topic of inheriting parental debt. An hour with a financial expert or your lawyer could potentially make life much easier for everyone simply by having confirmation about
what goes where, and who will be responsible for what when the time comes.

Clearing parental debt with the aid of a financial trustee may be something to investigate if needed; lessening the chance of finances becoming a burden down the road. It also helps take you out of the financial equation.

Family + money can end in tears. Let someone else manage it so that you can put your energy into the care and well-being of your loved one. As well, a saving plan for future move(s) and related expenses means that there will be a better chance of maintaining the best possible living situation for everyone.


WHERE and HOW do they want to live if it ever gets to the point that they need more daily assistance than first predicted, (p.s. you can’t predict this) and how will THEY / YOU pay for it?

Nobody wants to have this conversation but, if push comes to shove, and the decisions need to be made within 24 hours
(under the strain and emotional stress that poor health and family situations may foster) you’ll be glad you did.


I am a 
catch 22 by being an only child. On one hand, it’s easier because there’s no question about what will happen with finances, health, and living situation for her. On the other hand: I am THE decision maker, signature signer, and faxer of all things where did I put that silly rulebook? 

If you have siblings (and/or aunts and uncles etc.), having a group discussion with your parents about:

WHO can best manage WHAT?

It may create an 
easier transition for everyone. At this point, I would advise passing around some food. Money talk (can) get people riled up, or so I’ve heard. Having something to shove into their pie hole ( ie: pie ) can’t hurt.

Admittedly, a big topic but, I write about what I
know, and this is what I know, about 20 years sooner than predicted.

Thanks for reading.

Now go get some pie, talk to your people, and get’er done.


Since this blog post, I have moved my mom 3 times within 18 months and I have had to put into play the
financial trustee, power of attorney, and health directives. All of these papers gave me the power to say yes for my mom, and, in the case of her living situation, I was also able to say no.

The province wanted to put her into the sketchiest home in Winnipeg, on Donald St. (the equivalent to Queen and Sherbourne in Toronto) and, if I hadn’t had power of attorney, it would not have been my choice, especially since I don’t live in Manitoba and these directives are coming from me, one province over. We waited it out and now she’s in a beautiful, new facility across from Assiniboine Park where her friends take her over to see Ballet in the park and the symphony. Is it glamorous? Absolutely not. Is it the best we could do? YES. She’s safe, well liked, well cared for, and I only feel guilty ALWAYS.

Now, I make decisions about wheelchairs and seat belts (SEAT BELTS!!!) pureed food, a visiting volunteer dog from St.John Ambulance (her name is Montana), making sure her hair is cut, nails are done, and that she’s wearing ALL of her jewelry ALL of the time (those who know my mom know how important this is).


Because this is a topic that everyone will face in some form or another and, in my mind, 
an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care.

November 12, 2015

Rental Role Model

NOVEMBER 12, 2015

This fall has been (thanks to your kind referrals) a whirlwind of clients & hopeful homeowners at Cardinal Mortgages.

•All artists
•Some successful buyers (new keys!)
•Some on hold (to be continued)
•Some going back to the drawing $ board (tax prep)

One of my surprise success stories was supposed to be in the “on hold” category. After my initial meeting with Mimi in August (we’d been emailing since February) it was clear that she was:

•A super savvy $ saver

•An Organised, thoughtful planner
•And a “Get out of my way, world, I’ve got a goal!”

...kind of client.One of the main points for her property goal was that there had to be some form of RENTAL INCOME on the other end of the purchase. She was prepared and not spooked by the task in front of her. She wasn’t in a hurry either - there would be no money wasted, there would be a house where she would live, rent out the basement or top floor, no insurance premium, and if it meant saving more, well that’s what she would do.(Can I get an AMEN?!) We were scheduled to chat 5 months later at the end of January 2016 with a little more singing money in hand. (Whoot! You go girl!)

A few weeks later, however, we were on the phone about a sweet, 410 sq.ft bachelor, work-live loft located in Leslieville’s highly sought after iZone building. It would be a 100% rental opportunity, totally NOT the original plan, that she would view at 4 pm that day (!)

I quickly set her up with a real estate agent who I knew had a long history with that particular we soon found out...was also the SELLING agent. Weird, I know, but it turned into a huge advantage for both seller and buyer in the end.The TIMELINE of the deal looked a little something like this:

•Viewed condo
•Coffee talk about condo + numbers the next day
•Gathering of HER most recent tax documents
•GROSS income (line 162) looked AMAZING!
•NET income, after deductions (line 150) amazing enough until *ugh* one new doc appeared in my inbox: a tax re-assessment (good for tax purposes, bad for home buying) turned plan "A" upside down.


I could only use her NET income (line 150) for a straight up rental mortgage (self-employed or not) and the re-assessment to her taxes the previous year had lowered her NET income just shy of what we needed. #swearing

•Cue a co-signer to support her NET income (enter money savvy $ tenor)
•Gather all of HIS documents
•Give them the go-ahead to make a bid
•Bid accepted (with 5-day financing clause)
•Send in their application to Lender #1
•Lender #1 refused property (not enough square footage)

•Immediately send in application to lender #2 & #3 (I believe in backup plans)
•Approved by both lender #2 & #3 (if condo passes appraisal conditions)
•Meet all of their insanely DIFFERING financial conditions: YES (bloody miracle, people!)
•Order 2 appraisals, one for each lender
Appraisals won’t be until the following week (gah! 5-day financing clause is ticking away)
•Ask real estate agent on for extension on financing clause (10days... in TORONTO!)
•Accept lender #2’s commitment

•Start emailing friends to find my clients’ a tenant needed to close the deal 
•Appraisal STILL not done
•Found a tenant for them in less than 24 hrs. Yup. Full-service mortgage agent, folks!
•Ask real estate agent for ANOTHER 5-day extension to the financing clause because the appraisals STILL aren’t in YET (total, 15 days financing) I told you the dual agency of the real estate agent would come in handy. WIN/WIN
•Appraisals FINALLY in

•Accept Lender #2’s offer (sign)
Sleep well at night
•Day 15 of financing clause - Lender #2 - after clients have already signed off financing waiver - tell me there was a human error on their end and they were adding a $6000.00 insurance premium charge onto the mortgage (!!!)
Have mini heart attack

•Remember back up plan (yes!)
•Accept Lender #3’s offer, slightly higher rate, $10 more a month = $600 over 5 years, we’re ok with that, no other charges

•Everyone takes a deep breath.

•Officially get a good night’s sleep.

•Obtain MORE documents including lease from new tenant
•Sign MORE documents

•Mimi & Chris go to lawyer (SIGN, even more, papers)

•Mimi & Chris get keys


I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a nail biter with the lenders being fussy about this petite condo in the BEST location, not to mention the delays of the appraisals (out of our control) and then the last hiccup by lender #2 (who fully admitted their $6000.00 error - but STILL didn’t budge.)

Why did I want you to read all of that?

1. Because real estate is not cut and dry. Our first conversation will sound nothing like our final conversation. If you can handle that, you’ll get keys.

2. Because (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) after putting only 20% down on this condo, Mimi’s renter(s) will pay off the remaining 80%

Her first nest egg will be paid for by someone else.

Why I left that particular sentence to the end of the blog makes no sense, it should be the opening line but, I want readers to see that she fought for this. She saved like a rock star. She was persistent, undaunted by all of the roadblocks and, in 30 years, she’ll have hundreds of thousands of dollars in her pockets because she made a small down payment on 410 square feet of cement and windows.


If it hadn’t been for that re-assessment on her taxes, bringing her income down (on paper), she would also have done it ON. HER. OWN. Without a co-signer. That’s pretty freakin’ jazzy, my friends.

That’s what I call A RENTAL ROLE MODEL.

Thanks for reading AND did share this post, right? : D