Is Your Mortgage Portable?

General Kris Krawiec 29 Dec

Selling your current home and moving into a new one can be stressful enough, let alone worrying about your current mortgage and whether you’re able to carry it over to your new home.

Porting enables you to move to another property without having to lose your existing interest rate, mortgage balance and term. And, better yet, the ability to port also saves you money by avoiding early discharge penalties.

It’s important to note, however, that not all mortgages are portable. When it comes to fixed-rate mortgage products, you usually have a portability option. Lenders often use a “blended” system where your current mortgage rate stays the same on the mortgage amount ported over to the new property and the new balance is calculated using the current interest rate.

With variable-rate mortgages, on the other hand, porting is usually not available. As such, upon breaking your existing mortgage, a three-month interest penalty will be charged. This charge – which can be a surprising $1,500-$4,000 penalty at closing – may or may not be reimbursed with your new mortgage.

Porting Conditions

While porting typically ensures no penalty will be charged when you sell your existing property and buy a new one, some conditions that may apply include:

  • Some lenders allow you to port your mortgage, but your sale and purchase have to happen on the same day. Other lenders offer a week to do this, some a month, and others up to three months.
  • Some lenders don’t allow a changed term or force you into a longer term as part of agreeing to port you mortgage.
  • Some lenders will, in fact, reimburse your entire penalty whether you are a fixed or variable borrower if you simply get a new mortgage with the same lender – replacing the one being discharged. Additionally, some lenders will even allow you to move into a brand new term of your choice and start fresh.
  • There are instances where it’s better to pay a penalty at the time of selling and get into a new term at a brand new rate that could save back your penalty over the course of the new term.

While this may sound like a complicated subject, your mortgage professional will be able to explain all of your options and help you select the right mortgage based on your own specific needs.

Making Your Mortgage Interest Tax Deductible

General Kris Krawiec 29 Dec

For US homeowners, mortgage interest is automatically tax deductible. But for Canadians, the write-off is not so straightforward. In order to make your mortgage interest tax deductible, homeowners must be able to prove that the money is being reinvested and is not being used for personal expenses.

A properly structured mortgage-centric tax strategy has several key elements – the most important of which is a multi-component, readvanceable mortgage or line of credit.

It’s best to have a single collateral charge with at least two components – usually a fixed-term mortgage and an open line of credit that can track and report interest independently. This is absolutely essential under Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) rules and guidelines.

Second, the strategy must employ conservative leverage-investment techniques – which is why a financial advisor must be involved in order to comply with federal regulations. The financial advisor should be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who is experienced in leveraged investing, and able to actively monitor a homeowner’s portfolio on an ongoing basis.

Homeowners who opt for a tax-deductible mortgage interest plan make their monthly or bimonthly mortgage payments the same way they would when making any type of mortgage payment. The payments go towards reducing the principal amount of the mortgage and are then moved over to the line of credit as the mortgage is paid down. But in order to be tax-deductible, the funds must then be transferred to an investment bank account, which can be done automatically by your CFP.

Once the money is in an investment bank account, it can be reinvested and the money becomes tax deductible. Essentially, the homeowner is borrowing from the paid portion of the mortgage for reinvestment purposes.

On average, a typical 25-year mortgage can become fully tax deductible in 22.5 years.

If you have a rental property, you can also use this tax-reduction strategy even further. When you receive your rent, you can then use the funds to help pay down your personal mortgage. Once paid, the rental funds move to the line of credit and are then transferred to the investment bank account. They are then used to pay down the mortgage on the rental property. Using this method, it is possible to have your mortgage interest become fully tax deductible in only 3.5 years.

The ideal client

Ideal borrowers for an advanced mortgage and tax strategy are typically professionals or other high-income earners who have a conventional mortgage (have at least 20% of the cost of the home to put towards a down payment) and have built up substantial equity.

As high-income earners, their total debt-servicing ratio will be quite low and they will have excellent credit (700+ Beacon scores). These borrowers are financially sophisticated homeowners that are keenly interested in establishing a secure financial future and comfortable retirement. They also have good investment knowledge.

The risks

The financial benefits of tax-deductible mortgage interest are indisputable and justify the risks to the right borrower. That said, a problem can arise if a homeowner spends the funds as opposed to reinvesting them. As well, any tax refunds have to flow through the investment cycle in order to realize the benefits of paying down the mortgage as quickly as possible – and making as much of the interest payment as possible tax deductible.

Short-term financial risk is liquidity risk (sometimes referred to as cash flow risk). Cash flow risk addresses the possibility that interest rates will sharply drive up the cost of borrowing at the same time as markets falter, resulting in a negative client monthly cash flow for a brief period of time.

This short-term risk is typically only prevalent in the first two to four years because, after this period of time, the homeowner has stockpiled enough equity through annual tax refunds that other liquidity options exist and the risk is fully mitigated.

Liquidity risk varies widely based on the balance sheet strength of the homeowner. Highly qualified homeowners are easy to manage as these borrowers have no difficulty meeting the short-term cash flow demand should the need arise.

Beware of Mortgage or Title Fraud

General Kris Krawiec 3 Dec

In a time where identity theft and Ponzi schemes are plastered across the daily news, the last thing you want to worry about is yet another way to lose your hard-earned money.

But as a homeowner, you need to be aware of crimes on the rise known as mortgage fraud and real estate title fraud.

Mortgage Fraud

The most common type of mortgage fraud involves a criminal obtaining a property, then increasing its value through a series of sales and resales involving the fraudster and someone working in cooperation with them. A mortgage is then secured for the property based on the inflated price.

Following are some red flags for mortgage fraud:

  • Someone offers you money to use your name and credit information to obtain a mortgage
  • You are encouraged to include false information on a mortgage application
  • You are asked to leave signature lines or other important areas of your mortgage application blank
  • The seller or investment advisor discourages you from seeing or inspecting the property you will be purchasing
  • The seller or developer rebates you money on closing, and you don’t disclose this to your lending institution

“Straw Buyer” Scheme

Because of the recession, more people are desperate and eager to find a way to hang onto their homes. A couple was recently arrested in Canada after duping 100 families looking for help to avoid foreclosure in the US.

Another term for mortgage fraud is the “straw” or “dummy” homebuyer scheme. For instance, a renter does not have a good credit rating or is self-employed and cannot get a mortgage, or doesn’t have a sufficient down payment, so he or she cannot purchase a home. He/she or an associate approaches someone else with solid credit. This person is offered a sum of money (can be as much as $10,000) to go through the motions of buying a property on the other person’s behalf – acting as a straw buyer. The person with good credit lends their name and credit rating to the person who cannot be approved for a mortgage for his or her purchase of a home.

Other types of criminal activity often dovetail with mortgage fraud or title fraud. For example, people who run “grow ops” or meth labs may use these forms of fraud to “purchase” their properties.

The Fallout for Lenders

Fortunately (for you, at least), mortgage fraud typically hurts the lender the most.

Canadian precedents have been set in which banks are held responsible for mortgage fraud. The BC Court of Appeals recently ruled that “the lender – not the rightful property owner – is the one out of luck in a fraudulent mortgage scheme” and that lenders “must ensure their mortgages are valid by taking steps to ensure that the registered owner obtained title to the property legally.” The same conclusion was made by the Ontario Courts a couple of years ago.

Banks, as you can imagine, aren’t too thrilled about this trend. Royal Bank of Canada recently sued a former bank employee over an alleged mortgage fraud scheme.

Title Fraud
Sadly, the only red flag for title fraud occurs when your mortgage mysteriously goes into default and the lender begins foreclosure proceedings. Even worse, as the homeowner, you are the one hurt by title fraud, rather than the lender, as is the case with mortgage fraud.

Unlike with mortgage fraud, during title fraud, you haven’t been approached or offered anything – this is a form of identity theft.

Here’s what happens with title fraud: A criminal – using false identification to pose as you – registers forged documents transferring your property to his/her name, then registers a forced discharge of your existing mortgage and gets a new mortgage against your property. Then the fraudster makes off with the new home loan money without making mortgage payments. The bank thinks you are the one defaulting – and your economic downfall begins.

Following are ways you can protect yourself from title fraud:

  • Always view the property you are purchasing in person
  • Check listings in the community where the property is located – compare features, size and location to establish if the asking price seems reasonable
  • Make sure your representative is a licensed real estate agent
  • Beware of a real estate agent or mortgage broker who has a financial interest in the transaction
  • Ask for a copy of the land title or go to a registry office and request a historical title search
  • In the offer to purchase, include the option to have the property appraised by a designated or accredited appraiser
  • Insist on a home inspection to guard against buying a home that has been cosmetically renovated or formerly used as a grow house or meth lab
  • Ask to see receipts for recent renovations
  • When you make a deposit, ensure your money is protected by being held “in trust”
  • Consider the purchase of title insurance

 

It’s important to remember that if something doesn’t seem right, it usually isn’t – always follow your instincts when it comes to red flags during the home buying and mortgage processes.

Revenue Properties

General Kris Krawiec 19 Nov

Examining revenue property options

Given the current national credit-crunched lending environment and the slowing real estate market – which has shifted to a buyers’ market – coupled with lower interest rates, now is an ideal time to invest in the purchase of revenue property.

After all, although the real estate market slowdown has seen prices drop and interest rates dip, rental income has not wavered – making now an optimal time to start building your revenue property portfolio or continue adding to your existing list of properties.

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, the key is to work with a mortgage professional who is an expert in this niche and can provide you with a wealth of knowledge and ongoing information that will help you make informed investment decisions and feel at ease throughout each purchase.

I offer an invaluable service to real estate investors because, if the mortgages on your investment properties are not set up properly from the on-set of each venture, you will not be able to get future financing – a necessity for continuing to build your portfolio of revenue properties.

I am an experts in dealing with real estate investors and understand that a portfolio approach must be taken to ensure future financing for those looking to purchase revenue properties. I will ask you in detail about your specific property investment goals and develop a game plan for the next five or 10 years based on these goals.

I can work with you in order to determine where you currently stand in terms of your real estate goals, where you need to be to meet those goals and the steps involved to get you there.

Keep in mind, however, that your plan should be revisited with your mortgage professional at least annually to ensure you’re still on track.

A team of experts

I am a mortgage professional who specializes in helping clients acquire revenue property I also partner with other investment property experts, including real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, insurance agents and contractors, to name a few, which enables me to provide valuable information to you through this knowledge network.

By forming ties with other trusted experts, I am able to provide you with a one-stop shop for meeting all of your real estate investment needs.

I can also help direct you to other organizations that will offer you further insight into your real estate investment needs. If you join groups such as the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) or even a local Rental Owners and Managers Society (ROMS), for instance, you can receive a wealth of added knowledge catered to your revenue property needs.

While REIN can provide market insight and investing tips through years of experience, ROMS helps with credit checks for potential tenants, keeps you abreast of changes to the Residential Tenancy Act and other topics/concerns often faced by landlords.

So before you begin building your revenue property portfolio, ask me your mortgage professional what I can do to cater to all your real estate investment needs.

Why Use a Mortgage Professional

General Kris Krawiec 3 Nov

There are generally two ways to get a mortgage in Canada: From a bank, or from a licensed mortgage professional.

While a bank only offers the products from their particular institution, licensed mortgage professionals send millions of dollars in mortgage business each year to Canada’s largest banks, credit unions, and trust companies … offering their clients more choice, and access to hundreds of mortgage products!

As a result, clients benefit from the trust, confidence, and security of knowing they are getting the best mortgage for their needs.

Mortgage professionals work for you, and not the banks; therefore, they work in your best interest. From the first consultation to the signing of your mortgage, their services are free. A fee is charged only for the most challenging credit solutions, and it’s especially under those circumstances that a mortgage professional can do for you what your bank cannot.

Whether you’re purchasing a home for the first time, taking out equity from your home for investment or pleasure, or your current mortgage is simply up for renewal, it’s important that you are making an educated buying decision with professional unbiased advice.

Single Ladies Buying Homes

General Kris Krawiec 3 Nov

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that a greater number of women are now taking the reigns when it comes to home purchases. There’s a growing trend among single women – and, more precisely, professional single women – who are becoming independent homeowners. While many of them may be putting off marriage, they’re not waiting around for Mr Right before taking the plunge into homeownership.

It’s believed that around 20% of homebuyers in North America are single women based on a 2011 report released by the US National Association of Realtors. Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies also released a report that said single women are buying in record numbers.

There’s no equivalent data for Canada, but an abundance of anecdotal information has led to the creation of shows like HGTV’s Buy Herself, which follows single women making their first real estate purchases.

Women are looking for ways to become financially independent, and investing in real estate and building equity for themselves are ways to invest in their future – building financial security.

Women are taking advantage of historically low interest rates and recognizing homeownership is often more affordable than renting.

Seeking expert advice

One of the amazing things about women looking to invest in real estate is that they’re getting more advice before they make the decision to enter the market. They’re seeking out mortgage experts and real estate agents, and building a plan for the perfect entry into the market. They’re making lists of areas in which they’re interested in purchasing, itemizing amenities they would need in their ideal neighbourhoods, ensuring they have all the facts around closing costs and fees associated with making the purchase, and securing a mortgage.

Buying a home is likely one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make in your lifetime, and can feel overwhelming. That’s why working with a professional mortgage agent, real estate agent, home inspector and so on is essential. You’ll be working with these professionals closely – possibly for months – so interactions should feel comfortable, and they should be knowledgeable and responsive even to the smallest question.

The more prepared you are, the smoother the experience will be so do a little research on your own over the Internet to get a good idea of what types of properties and areas are of interest to you. Make a list of questions to ask your mortgage agent or realtor – and keep it on hand so you can add to it as more questions arise.

Interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in history and they have nowhere to go but up. Industry professionals believe that as rates begin to rise, they’ll continue to rise for some time. There has never been a better time for women to make the decision to get into the real estate market to find the perfect place to call home. 

Advice for credit challenged clients

General Kris Krawiec 3 Nov

In today’s economic climate of tighter credit requirements and increased unemployment rates taking their toll on some Canadians, there’s no doubt that many people may not fit into the traditional banks’ financing boxes as easily as they may have just a year ago.

Your best solution is to consult your mortgage professional to determine whether your situation can be quickly repaired or if you face a longer road to credit recovery. Either way, there are solutions to every problem.

Mortgage professionals who are experts in the credit repair niche can help credit challenged clients improve their situations via a number of routes. And if the situation is beyond the expertise of a mortgage professional, they can help you get in touch with other professionals, including credit counsellors and bankruptcy trustees.

If you have some equity built up in your home and still have a manageable credit score, for instance, you can often refinance your mortgage and use that money to pay off high-interest credit card debt. By clearing up this debt, you are freeing up more cash flow each month.

In the current lending environment, with interest rates at an all-time low, now is an ideal time for you to refinance your mortgage and possibly save thousands of dollars per year, enabling you to pay more money per month towards the principal on your mortgage as opposed to the interest – which, in turn, can help build equity quicker.

Following are five steps you can use to help attain a speedy credit score boost:

1) Pay down credit cards. The number one way to increase your credit score is to pay down your credit cards so you’re only using 30% of your limits. Revolving credit like credit cards seems to have a more significant impact on credit scores than car loans, lines of credit, and so on.

2) Limit the use of credit cards. Racking up a large amount and then paying it off in monthly instalments can hurt your credit score. If there is a balance at the end of the month, this affects your score – credit formulas don’t take into account the fact that you may have paid the balance off the next month.

3) Check credit limits. If your lender is slower at reporting monthly transactions, this can have a significant impact on how other lenders may view your file. Ensure everything’s up to date as old bills that have been paid can come back to haunt you.

Some financial institutions don’t even report your maximum limits. As such, the credit bureau is left to only use the balance that’s on hand. The problem is, if you consistently charge the same amount each month – say $1,000 to $1,500 – it may appear to the credit-scoring agencies that you’re regularly maxing out your cards.

The best bet is to pay your balances down or off before your statement periods close.

4) Keep old cards. Older credit is better credit. If you stop using older credit cards, the issuers may stop updating your accounts. As such, the cards can lose their weight in the credit formula and, therefore, may not be as valuable – even though you have had the cards for a long time. You should use these cards periodically and then pay them off.

5) Don’t let mistakes build up. You should always dispute any mistakes or situations that may harm your score. If, for instance, a cell phone bill is incorrect and the company will not amend it, you can dispute this by making the credit bureau aware of the situation.

If, however, you have repeatedly missed payments on your credit cards, you may not be in a situation where refinancing or quickly boosting your credit score will be possible. Depending on the severity of your situation – and the reasons behind the delinquencies, including job loss, divorce, illness, and so on – your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional can help you address the concerns through a variety of means and even refer you to other professionals to help get your credit situation in check.

Using Home Equity to Finance Cottage Improvements

General Kris Krawiec 7 Aug

With interest rates sitting at “emergency” levels – low rates never before seen by your parents and even your grandparents – now is an ideal time to tap into the available equity in your home or cottage to fund your renovation or landscape needs. But these rock-bottom rates won’t be available forever – the Bank of Canada estimates fixed mortgage rates will likely begin to rise this summer.

As a cottage owner, you understand the importance of maintaining your cottage and property to ensure it ages well with the times. But you also know that it can be daunting when you think about all of the ongoing costs for renovations and maintenance required to keep your cottage to your liking – especially if you also own a primary residence.

The good news is, if you have built up equity in your primary residence or even your cottage, refinancing your mortgage is a cost-effective way to have funds available for upgrades to your home away from home.

One refinance strategy that mortgage consumers often use involves extending their amortization period – to a maximum of 30 years (with no age discrimination on this product) – so they can lock into an excellent fixed rate for their mortgage and renovation expenses.

In addition to setting you up with a new lower mortgage payment, your mortgage professional can also find a lender that offers the most flexible prepayment privileges.

If you choose to refinance, it’s important to note that there may be penalties for paying out your existing mortgage loan prior to renewal, but these penalties will be offset by a lower interest rate and, at the same time, you can access extra money to put towards your cottage renovations.

By refinancing, thanks to lower interest rates, even though you’re taking on more debt, you can pay your mortgage off faster. Most mortgage products, for instance, include prepayment privileges that enable you to pay up to 20% of the principal (the true value of your mortgage minus the interest payments) in lump sum payments per calendar year. This will also help reduce your amortization period (the length of your mortgage), which, in turn, saves you money.

Some lenders also allow consumers to pay anywhere from an extra 20% of their monthly mortgage payment to up to double the payment.

Using a line of credit

Another option to enable you to access funds for cottage renovations is to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on your primary residence. Although HELOC interest rates are lower than credit cards or other high-interest means of accessing funds, a refinance at today’s low rates is your best option.

A HELOC is a good tool for those who know they want to renovate their cottage in the future but do not know exactly when they want to make the improvements. In other words, a HELOC enables you to access equity on an add-needed basis and you only pay interest on the portion of the HELOC that you use. Another benefit is that you can pay the HELOC off at any time without a penalty.

There are also combination mortgage products available that enable you to have a portion of your mortgage in a fixed interest rate and another portion as a HELOC, which mean the HELOC can be used as a rainy day fund.

By using a HELOC to fund renovations, etc, the savings are substantial versus using a credit card or loan. Just the comparison of paying 3.25% interest with a HELOC compared to 18% for a credit card or loan clearly shows the HELOC advantage.

The other savings is seen in your monthly repayment of the debt. With loans or credit cards, the minimum is typically 3% of the total balance, whereas with the HELOC you’re only paying interest on the loan.

For instance, a $50,000 credit card balance with a 3% monthly payment means $1,500 must be paid each month. With the interest-only payment on the HELOC, you’re only required to pay $135 per month.

If your primary residence does not have enough equity for a refinance or HELOC but your cottage does, you still have options depending on whether your cottage is a vacation property (year-round with road access) or seasonal.

Financial institutions will lend on year-round property up to a maximum loan to value (LTV) of 95% (which means you will only have to have 5% equity remaining in your second home).

Most mortgage financing products are available for year-round cottages as long as the property is in good shape and is marketable. Your lender will want to know they will easily be able to sell your property if you do not continue paying your mortgage or HELOC.

When looking to access home equity, it’s best to speak to your mortgage broker to find an option that suits your unique needs.

Mortgage Product Comparison

Product

Amount

Interest Rate

Amortization

Monthly Payment

HELOC

$200,000

3.25%

25 Years

$541.67 (interest only)

5-Year Variable-Rate Mortgage

$200,000

2.00%

25 Years

$846.90

5-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage

$200,000

$3.89%

25 Years

$1040.15

 

The Smith Manoeuvre: A Canadian mortgage tax-deductible plan

General Kris Krawiec 7 Aug

Canadian homeowners do not enjoy the same mortgage interest deduction that their neighbours to the south do. Fortunately, the Smith Manoeuvre is a powerful financial method that gradually restructures the largest non-deductible debt of your lifetime (your mortgage) into a deductible investment loan.

Additionally, you’ll receive increased annual tax refunds, reduce years off your mortgage, and increase your net worth – all using legal methods reviewed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Method
The Smith Manoeuvre does not happen overnight; it takes years to complete. Follow these steps to convert your non-tax-deductible mortgage interest into tax-deductible debt.

Step 1 Liquidate all existing assets from non-registered accounts and apply it towards a down payment for the next step.

Step 2 Obtain a re-advanceable mortgage from a reputable financial institution, which allows you to pay down the mortgage and increase the credit limit (HELOC) simultaneously.

Step 3 Withdraw the HELOC portion of your mortgage to invest in income-producing assets like preferred dividend paying shares or exchange traded funds (ETFs). Your HELOC limit increases with every regular mortgage payment applied, which allows you to invest the newly available money.

Step 4 When completing your tax return, deduct the annual paid interest amount from your HELOC.

Step 5 Apply the tax return and investment income (dividends, rent, etc.) against your non-deductible mortgage and invest the new HELOC money available.

Step 6 Repeat steps 3 to 5 until your non-deductible mortgage is paid off.

Consider the following example:

Tyler buys a house for $400,000 with a $300,000 mortgage at 3.25 per cent amortized over 25 years. His annual salary is $80,000 with a marginal tax rate of 38 per cent and an annual merit increase of 1 per cent. He currently has no investments, so his net worth is $100,000. His annual mortgage payments total $17,500. Tyler can afford the following amounts to pay his mortgage and invest (out of pocket cash).

•Year 1: $19,600
•Year 5: $20,600
•Year 10: $22,100
•Year 15: $23,900
•Year 20: $26,000
•Year 25: $27,100

Let’s examine the following three long-term scenarios (all assume a 4 per cent investment annualized return)

Scenario 1 – Divert annual surplus cash to increase mortgage payment, thus paying it off sooner and then start investing all available cash.

Scenario 2 – Divert surplus cash to invest annually and pay regular mortgage payment.

Scenario 3 – Apply the Smith Manoeuvre, diverting surplus cash into mortgage payments and then immediately re-borrowing from the re-advance-able mortgage at a rate of 4 per cent After 25 years:

Scenario 1 – Tyler will own his home free and clear after 22 years and will use the remaining three years investing all his annual available cash into investments. Waiting this long impedes his investments from growing year-after-year and his net worth totals $604,000 ($400,000 home plus $204,000 investment portfolio).

Scenario 2 – Although more time consuming than scenario 1, because Tyler now must ensure he receives an average annualized 4 per cent return on his investments over 25 years instead of 3, Tyler’s investment portfolio will be $10,000 more than scenario 1. The benefits of compounding are the reason for this.

Scenario 3 – Tyler will no longer have a mortgage after 22 years, just like scenario 1, but he will have a $300,000 tax-deductible investment loan. Despite borrowing the money to invest, Tyler begins year one with an investment portfolio approximately equal to year five of scenario 2, which compounds his returns greatly. In year 10, his investments are worth the same as year 20 of scenario 2. His tax refunds increase annually to the point where he receives approximately $4,000 more annually in the last few years. The higher starting investment amount, coupled with compound returns and increased tax refunds to offset the interest charges of the HELOC portion of the re-advance-able mortgage (investment loan) allow him to invest higher amounts sooner. Even though he’s paying more interest than both other scenarios, his net worth after 25 years equals $641,000.

The Benefits
The Smith Manoeuvre has many benefits. For starters, your net worth will increase (as per example above) assuming you can maintain the same annualized return in your investments as your borrowing rate. Your tax refunds will continually get larger, year after year, as the interest on your investment loan is tax-deductible. Finally, mortgage debt is a fact-of-life, so why not apply the Smith Manoeuvre, pay your mortgage off faster and transfer the debt into a tax-deductible format? Well, there are some risks.

The Risks
As with any investment plan, there are risks. The Smith Manoeuvre doesn’t decrease your debt; it simply transfers it from a common mortgage, which isn’t tax deductible in Canada. In order to do this, you must follow the correct steps and tax forms to setup a re-advance-able mortgage to use as an investment loan. If you don’t, the CRA could invalidate your application and the primary benefit of the Smith Manoeuvre will cease to exist. In order for your net worth to increase, you must have a solid investment plan that will yield you more than your borrowing rate. In the example above, the borrowing rate and investment annualized return were both 4 per cent; however, even if the annualized return falls a half-per cent to 3.5 per cent, Tyler’s net worth of scenario 3 will only be $6,000 more the next highest scenario (1). At 3 per cent, the Smith Manoeuvre will be the worst of all three scenarios by over $12,000. So as you can see, the rate of return is definitely important.

Who should do it?
Canadians who own 25 per cent of their home should qualify for a re-advance-able mortgage. Good candidates for the Smith Manoeuvre are people who are comfortable servicing ‘good’ debt, want to maximize tax returns and understand leveraging their real estate assets to increase their net worth. Home owners that like to ‘set-it and forget-it’ should not consider this manoeuvre as it requires a solid financial investment plan, with regularly schedule performance checks to ensure you’re getting and maintaining an annualized return above your borrowing rate.

Those interested in pursuing the Smith Manoeuvre should obtain a copy of the book titled Is Your Mortgage Tax Deductible – The Smith Manoeuvreby Fraser Smith. After reading it, consult a licensed financial adviser familiar with it who gives free consultations and evaluations as final outsiders check to ensure it is suited for your wealth strategy.

The Bottom Line
The Smith Manoeuvre is the simple legal concept of “after every mortgage payment you make, you borrow the principle amount and re-invest it.” For those that understand that their debt level will not decrease – and are comfortable monitoring and maintaining investment returns – the Manoeuvre can greatly increase your net-worth.

 

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/mortgages/the-smith-maneuver-a-canadian-mortgage-tax-deductible-plan/article12059456/

The Trouble with Debit Cards

General Kris Krawiec 21 Jul

We live in a society of instant gratification. Unlike our parents or grandparents – who saved up for larger purchases – we are often tempted to splurge on bigger-ticket items simply because we have a debit card in hand when we head out “window shopping”.

And aside from overspending thanks to the advent of debit cards, consumers are also more likely to dip into overdraft, which ends up costing more thanks to fees and interest that banks charge whenever you spend more than you have in your account. 

Basically, a debit card works like a cheque. The only difference is that every time you use it, you’re immediately taking money out of your account. That’s why when you overdraw it’s like bouncing a cheque – only worse because, unlike cheques, you probably don’t keep a record of every debit card purchase you make.

You may even make a bunch of small purchases before you realize you’ve spent more than you have. So before you pay for that coffee or lunch purchase with your debit card, make sure you have enough money in your account to cover it. 

Revert to using cash for daily expenses

Cash controls spending, plain and simple. Using cash to pay for everyday purchases such as coffee, transit, lunch and magazines alerts you to the idea that you’re actually spending real money. You just don’t get the same cautionary sense when you haul out plastic, be it a debit or credit card.

There’s a distinct cognitive event that happens when you handle money – it’s called awareness. Over the counter goes the five dollar bill and back comes a loonie, a dime, two nickels and four pennies.

Did you just add up the change above to determine how much money you have left? Did you think about what that purchase could have been? You see, you are much more conscious of this imaginary purchase than if you had paid with plastic. 

Now, add in the awareness of the bills left in your wallet and you become attuned to your temporary wealth, or lack thereof. At the end of the day, what encourages or cautions many consumers about spending is knowing where you stand from a financial perspective. That’s why cash can help control spending. Using cash to pay for everyday purchases alerts you to the idea that you’re actually spending real money.

By allotting yourself a weekly cash allowance for entertainment and everyday expenses – such as that daily morning coffee or weekly movie – you are building a budget around what you can spend on these purchases. And once the money in your wallet has been spent, you have to ensure you fight the urge to withdraw more cash or resort back to using your debit card.

Be realistic about what you typically spend on these items in a week. If you routinely eat out for lunch or stop at Tim Hortons for coffee, count that as well. If you think you’re spending too much on these items, you can then decide to find a less expensive alternative, such as brown-bagging your lunch or making your own coffee.

Let’s say, for instance, that you start the week off with $50 in your wallet and you began to spend it on your purchases. You will see $50 turn into $40, $40 turn into $25, $25 turn into $15 and so on. Every time you look into your wallet, you will see what’s left over from your original $50 and be aware of how quickly your money is being spent. This alone can make you think twice before making a purchase.

If you have any questions concerning budgeting, contact me directly Kris Krawiec Mortgage Agent 416-845-3745 kkrawiec@dominionlending.ca