Getting a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Mortgage Tips Trish Pigott 31 Mar

We recommend getting a pre-approval to have the best success with your mortgage. This can be done through us, to ensure that you get the best mortgage product FOR YOU; from the best rate to the best term agreement.

Benefits of Getting a Pre-Approval

While getting pre-approved might sound boring (and you might be asking ‘why can’t I just get approved instead!?’), there are many benefits that make searching for your perfect home that much easier.

  • Pre-approval helps to confirm your budget (Quick Tip: Don’t forget about the closing costs! These range from 1 to 4% of the purchase price and should be factored into your budget)
  • Pre-approval guarantees your rate for up to 120 days. This protects you from any increases in interest rates while you are shopping (phew!)
  • Pre-approval gives confidence to both you and the seller, knowing that financing should not be an issue

What to do After You’re Pre-Approved

You should note that nothing is fully approved until an accepted offer is presented to the lender and signed off on. To ensure that the rates and terms are guaranteed upon final financing, we recommend the following.

  • Refrain from having additional credit reports pulled after your pre-approval
  • Refrain from applying for new credit, closing accounts or making large purchases until after the sale is complete
  • Be prepared to show a paper trail – any unusual deposits in your bank account may require an explanation

Once you have qualified for a pre-approved mortgage, you are ready to start searching for your perfect home. It’s important to stick to your budget! You went through a lot of effort to get everything prepared, so don’t look at anything over your budget (even if that house has a REALLY great pool!). Send us a message if any questions pop up along the way – just click here. We’re here for you!

5 Tips for Home Staging

Home Tips Trish Pigott 24 Mar

Selling your home depends on many factors. Most importantly, it relies on the feeling it exudes when a potential buyer walks through the door. You want to make them feel welcomed and at ease. This is why home staging is so important. Although the thought of it may be overwhelming, it could help your home move quickly and for top dollar. Some realtors may even offer this service as part of their package, but if not, you can do it yourself with a little inspiration. For starters, we suggest the 3 D’s: depersonalize, declutter and decorate. Then when you’re ready, you can consider some of the DIY home staging tips below.

1. Use your resources

Can you think of an interior designer or realtor within your network? Invite them over to view the home in person and pick their brain. They may be able to direct you to local businesses that offer furniture rentals or moving services

2. Revive your rooms

Take a true and critical look at your place. Does the kitchen look outdated? Are there stains on the upholstery? Does the bathroom look worn out? Making a few changes can help freshen things up.

If your kitchen cabinets darken up the room, consider painting them. You can also update their hardware with something new for the finishing touch. Doing these updates yourself is a great alternative to replacing the cabinets, as it is much more cost-effective.

In the living room, do your rugs and window treatments pass the cleanliness check? If they are old and dirty, it’s best to get them cleaned or replaced.

Next, check out the bathroom(s). Take a look around at the sink and tiles. Re-applying the grout and caulking can make the room look fresh and clean.

3. Change your layout

If your space seems small and crowded, it is likely that you have accumulated too much furniture over the years. Consider donating, selling or storing larger items that you may want to keep for your next home. You can work with virtual room planners to help visualize the best placement for current furniture or future purchases.

Let the home’s unique characteristics do the talking. Is there leaded glass in the living room or vaulted ceilings in the entryway? Keep the curtains pulled back to showcase your gorgeous windows and use decor that accentuates the height in the room. A fresh coat of paint in a warm yet neutral colour can work like magic.

4. Boost your appeal

Ensure the entryway of the home is clean and has a nice doormat. If it’s on the larger side, a pair of outdoor chairs and side table would be a great addition. The property should smell nice when you walk in, but not overly fragrant.

While staging, try to showcase all of the possible amenities that the house can provide. It could be a nursery set up in a small bedroom, or a work from home desk in a multipurpose bedroom. Give potential buyer(s) options of how they can use the space. If your house has an awkward empty space, create a designated “drop zone” for day to day things like keys, mail and device charging.

5. Accentuate your aesthetic

Do you want your home to make a statement? While the safe and neutral choices for paint schemes are welcomed, so are splashes of colour in accessories. Bold hues in accent furniture or throw blankets are great options. Think of a theme and roll with it for select items throughout the home. This is the time to get creative with artwork as well.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to sell to a specific demographic, it’s best to avoid overly themed staging. Test your styling limits by mixing metallics and materials. An office space with leather chairs can be styled with a sheepskin rug and shiny lamp. Mix and match textures, colours, patterns and light until it feels just right.

It’s ready to sell!

Now that you have an idea of what your home needs, it’s time to get started with your home staging! You will feel relief as you begin to declutter. Letting go of things that no longer serve you and likely won’t serve others can be freeing and purposeful at the same time. Good luck on this next step!

Should You Rent or Buy?

General Trish Pigott 22 Mar

When it comes to the Canadian housing market, there are lots of options. From renting an apartment to owning a single-family home, it all comes down to where you’d like to live and what you can afford. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether you should rent or buy, but we’ve broken down the pros and cons of both below.

Why Do People Rent?

One of the most common answers to this question is affordability. Most people rent because they believe it is cheaper than owning a home. This can be true in some cases, but there are also times when monthly rent costs more than monthly mortgage payments. Of course there are also cases where rent is far more affordable than buying. Affordability is fairly dependent on an individual’s situation, but it is not the only deciding factor for choosing to rent.

Another reason you may choose to rent is that you simply aren’t sure where you want to live. If you’re new to an area, you may want to rent until you get to know the neighbourhoods and determine which area is the right fit for you. In some cases, you may not be able to find a home that is affordable in the area you want to buy.

For people who travel a lot for work or like to be free-floating, renting can be the perfect option.

Pros and Cons of Renting

To help you decide if renting is right for you, we have put together a list of pros and cons:

Pros of Renting Cons of Renting
Less maintenance
Lower upfront costs
Short-term commitment if needed
Protection from decreasing property values
Monthly payments may increase
Potential for being asked to leave
Not building your own equity
Requiring permission to paint or remodel

Why Do People Buy?

According to the most recent data, Canada boasts an overall homeownership rate of 67.8%. Even for those Canadians aged 35 and under, more than 40% of households own their own homes. This is quite an impressive statistic! So, let’s look at why people choose to buy.

One of the main reasons that people choose to buy a home is stability and peace of mind. This means you are not at risk of the landlord asking you to leave (in accordance with residential tenancy terms).

For others, building equity is a very strong benefit. When you choose to rent, you are paying someone else’s mortgage, but when you work towards buying your own home, that money is invested into your own future. This is an extremely important aspect to consider if you are finding saving for retirement a challenge.

Pros and Cons of Buying

To further show the benefits of buying, we have broken down some pros and cons below:

Pros of Buying Cons of Buying
Freedom to renovate or remodel as you wish
Building up equity
Additional income with a rental suite
Stability and peace of mind
Coming up with a downpayment
Responsible for mortgage, property taxes, insurance & maintenance
Interest rates can increase
Possibility of unexpected costly repairs

So, Should You Rent or Buy?

The reality is that in the long run, homeowners often fare financially better than renters because homeownership enables forced savings that accumulate over the years through property equity. If you are unhappy renting or really prefer the idea of owning your own home, just know it’s possible! All you need is the right information and the right preparation.

Some other things to consider before buying include:

  • Your credit score – Do you have good financial standing to be approved for a mortgage?
  • Your savings – Do you have any money put away for a downpayment? If not, do you have wiggle room in your budget to start saving?
  • Your time – Do you have the resources to maintain a home?

Regardless of whether you choose to rent or buy, the most important factor is your financial security. What works for your friend or your parents may not work for you – and that is okay! However, educating yourself and looking into all the options will ensure that, at the end of the day, you are in the best situation for yourself. This is where talking with a real estate agent and mortgage broker can help you to determine if purchasing a home is viable. If you’re not ready to reach out but want to know if homeownership is an option, you can use our My Mortgage Toolbox app. It will calculate the minimum down payment needed and what your monthly mortgage costs might look like.

Financial Independence for Kids

General Trish Pigott 18 Mar

Financial independence is a critical skill for future success that your children will not learn anywhere else. Not only does financial literacy help your children have more success in life, but it allows them to move out sooner and avoids delaying retirement. As much as parents want to help their kids, it should not be done at the jeopardy of your own future. In fact, when it comes to teaching your children about money, there is no better time to start than now! So, how do you teach your children about money?

Review Your Attitude Towards Money

The first and most important thing is to examine your own attitude towards money. Are you a penny pincher? Frivolous spender? Do you buy on impulse, or take a long time to make a purchase? How much debt do you have? Your financial habits will shape your children’s. To ensure that you are setting them up for their best financial future, parents need to consider what messages they are sending with their own money habits.

Give Your Children an Allowance

Providing an allowance to your children (especially one in exchange for chores) is an age-old way of teaching your kids about money. A good guideline is $0.50 to $1.00 per year of your child’s age. For a 10-year-old, this would be $5 to $10 per week.

Teach Your Child to Save

If you are giving your child $10 per week in allowance for chores, encourage them to put even just $0.50 per week into a piggy bank. In six months, show them how much money they have saved and talk to them about why it is important, and what they can do with that larger amount now.

Encourage Kids to Think Before They Buy

While it’s hard to get a 10-year-old excited about an RRSP, there are other ways to help them plan ahead. One is to encourage them to think about their purchases before they commit. For example, if they saw a toy on TV they want, teach them about how advertisements are designed to make you want something. Then, ask them to wait a week – Do they still want it?

Involve Your Children in the Family Finances

It is more valuable than you might think to let your kids see and hear you discuss financial planning; let them be part of opening and paying bills, or planning vacations. Explain why you pay certain things and discuss affordable choices. This helps them be part of the conversation and will work to instill a sense of financial responsibility as they grow up.

Remember, you are the best example to your children about money. Don’t be afraid to share the ups and downs with them. Be patient with your kids, but don’t give up! The best thing you can do as a parent is to promote financial security and independence.

As always, feel free to reach out to us here with any questions about financial independence!

Tax Season is Upon Us

General Trish Pigott 15 Mar

As we get ready for the tax season, now more than ever you need to plan ahead.  This is especially crucial when it comes to self-employed borrowers. We’ve provided some insight below on how reporting your income can affect you as a home buyer or borrower.

Self Employed Borrowers

For self-employed people, banks will look at your past two years of taxable income on your tax returns.  If it is declining in the most current tax year, that is the amount that the bank will use. The two-year average is only used when you are in an increasing trend.  For example, if you show $50,000 of  net income in 2018 but in 2019 you only show $32,000, the banks will use $32,000 for your mortgage qualification. Alternatively, if you showed $32,000 in 2018 and $50,000 in 2019, then the bank will use $41,000 as the two-year average.  If you are a sole proprietor, we can increase that by 15% and use an income of $47,150.

If you are incorporated and take dividend income or T4 income, it will be different. However, banks will still use a two-year average if it’s an increasing trend. Similarly, if it’s declining, they will use the lower income.

Salaried and Hourly Employees
For salaried and hourly employees, banks will use your full-time or part-time guaranteed income.  You must have guaranteed hours in order for the bank  to use it.  If you are casual and working full-time hours your employer is required to confirm that you have guaranteed hours. Banks will require you to have been there for two years and will use the average income for qualifying.

Bonus and Commission Income

Banks will take this income into account for qualifying for a mortgage and again, will take the two-year average. If year two is declining, that is the amount they will use on your mortgage application.

Each application is unique and the best way to get qualified is for us to review your file.  We have lenders for all situations:

  • Self employed programs
  • High net worth programs
  • Medical professional programs
  • Equity-based products
  • Child tax income
  • Rental income

We will do everything we can when it comes to finding the best lender for your unique situation. Contact us today before tax season is in full swing.

Mortgage Refinancing 101

Mortgage Tips Trish Pigott 11 Mar

Mortgage refinancing refers to the process of renegotiating your current mortgage agreement. It allows you to pay off your existing loan and replace it with a new one that better suits your needs. When done properly, it can help reduce financial stress and get you back on track for your financial future.

Reasons to refinance:

  • Leverage large increases in property value
  • Use home equity for upgrades or renovations
  • Your kids are heading off to college
  • You’re going through a divorce
  • You want to convert your mortgage from fixed to variable (or vice-versa)

Additional refinancing benefits include:

1. Lower Your Interest Rate

One reason to refinance your mortgage is to get a better interest rate. As your dedicated mortgage professionals with access to several lenders, we can shop the market for you to see if there is a better mortgage product that fits your needs.

2. Consolidate Your Debt

From credit cards and lines of credit to school loans and mortgages, there are many different types of debt. Did you know that most types of consumer debt have much higher interest rates than your mortgage? Refinancing can free up cash to help you pay these off. While it may increase your mortgage, your overall payment could be lower.

3. Modify Your Mortgage

Have you come into some extra money and want to put it towards your mortgage? Or maybe you’ve heard interest rates are rising and want to lock in at a fixed-rate for security. Talking to a mortgage specialist (like us!) can help determine what the penalties of a change may be, and if it’s worth making before your term is up.

4. Utilize Your Home Equity

Your home’s equity is the difference between your property’s market value and the balance of your mortgage. If you need funds and have equity, you can refinance your mortgage to access up to 80% of your home’s appraised value in cash.


While refinancing can help you tap into 80% of your home value, it does come with a price. If you opt to refinance during your term, it is considered to be breaking your mortgage agreement and it could end up being quite costly.  It is always best to wait until the end of the mortgage term before refinancing. Make sure you’ve planned several months in advance so you have time to weigh your options before you need to renew.

In addition, refinancing can prevent you from qualifying for default insurance. This can limit your lender choice. Lastly, you’ll be required to re-qualify under the current rates and rules. This includes passing the “stress test” again to ensure you can carry the refinanced mortgage.

If you are wondering if mortgage refinancing is right for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today at 604-552-6190. We would be happy to review your current mortgage, financial goals and future plans, to help determine the best solution that fits your needs.

It’s Almost Time for Spring Cleaning

Home Tips Trish Pigott 4 Mar

Spring is just around the corner! While nobody enjoys spring cleaning, we can all appreciate having a fresh home.

We have provided some spring cleaning tips below to help you tackle your home and get it looking its best for the season ahead.

Create a Playlist

Everything is more fun with a great playlist! Not only is music great therapy, but it can make the cleaning process more enjoyable.

One Room at a Time

Everyone likes seeing their home all sparkly and fresh, but sometimes it can be an overwhelming process to get to that point. It is best to clean one room at a time. Start with the smallest one and work your way up to the larger, project rooms!

Declutter as You Go

Spring cleaning isn’t just about shining up the brass on the door and dusting; it is just as important to declutter. Before you start cleaning a room, go through the closets and cupboards to clear out anything that can be donated or discarded.

Think Green!

Start the season off on a fresh, clean note; don’t muddy that up with harsh chemical cleaners. In today’s eco-conscious world, there are many eco-friendly and safe alternatives to regular cleaners. For example, vinegar makes a great chemical substitute for the bathroom or kitchen, and a steam cleaner is great for tile, hardwood floors, appliances and some outdoor areas.

Don’t Forget The Fridge & Freezer

The best time to clean out your fridge and freezer is right before you do your grocery shop. Dispose of anything that is past its expiration date and any almost-empty items that you won’t use. Before you restock be sure to wipe down the interior of the fridge with disinfectant and a damp cloth. The same can be done for the freezer but you’ll have to defrost it first!

Clean Air Reduces Allergies

Replacing furnace and HVAC filters is one of the most overlooked parts of spring cleaning. Consider replacing your standard filter with a more robust one that has a higher rating. This is a healthier option that will catch smaller particles to ensure your home is void of allergens, chemicals and odors. Your allergies will thank you later!

Check Out Our Mortgage Toolbox App

Mortgage Tips Trish Pigott 4 Mar

Mortgage Toolbox App

Did you know that we have a mortgage toolbox app? 📲 It gives you access to premium tools to help plan your mortgage. Click here to download it today and have all things mortgage-related at your fingertips.  Available on the App Store and Google Play.

By using our mortgage toolbox app you can:

  • Calculate your total cost of owning a home
  • Estimate the minimum down payment you need
  • Calculate land transfer taxes and the available rebates
  • Calculate the maximum loan you can borrow
  • Stress-test your mortgage
  • Estimate your closing costs
  • Compare your options side by side
  • Search for the best mortgage rates
  • Email summary reports (PDF)
  • Use the app in English, French, Spanish, Hindi and Chinese