8 Nov

4 Common Financial Mistakes Every Small Business Owner Should Avoid

General

Posted by: Paula & Al Roberts

Every entrepreneur and business owner will make a few financial mistakes during their journey. Those who aren’t savvy in accounting often overlook the need to brush up on their financial IQ. Truth is, these little financial errors can lead to some serious cash flow problems if you aren’t careful. Here are four financial mistakes you can easily avoid so you can protect your bottom line.

Late payments
Nobody is fond of paying bills. We tend to put them off until the last minute for short-lived peace of mind. This applies to all business owners when it comes to both your account payables and receivables.
When billing your clients, it’s common to give them an extended window of time to make payments so you can foster more sales. While your clients may appreciate the flexibility this can seriously cripple your cash flow. I generally suggest giving your clients no longer than 14 days to pay an invoice. If you’re providing quality goods and services they should have no problem paying you within this time window.
When it comes to paying your own bills, it’s important to follow the same principles above. This is especially the case if you’re operating off borrowed money. Paying an invoice late may result in a few unhappy emails, but when it comes to paying off your debts you need to always be on time. Even one missed payment can severely harm your credit score.
The best way to stay on top of these is to use an online payments solution that offers online invoicing and accounting features. This way all of your bills are organized and can be accessed anywhere at anytime.

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30 Oct

5 SIMPLE STEPS TO OWNING YOUR OWN HOME

DOWN PAYMENT

Posted by: Paula & Al Roberts

Often, the route to owning your own home can seem like a trip to the moon and back. Really though, it comes down to five key steps:

1 – Manage your credit wisely.
If there is one thing that will gum up the purchase of that perfect home, it’s an unwise purchase or extra credit obtained. Keep your credit spending to a minimum at all times, make every payment on time and most of all pay more than the minimum payment. Remember that if you just make the minimum payment on your credit cards, chances are you will still be making payments 100 years from now.

2- Assemble a down payment.
At first glance, the challenge of finding a down payment can seem insurmountable. In fact, you just need to consider all the sources for down payment funds. yes, you will have saved some but remember you can also, in some situations, use RRSP funds, grants ( BC Home Equity Partnership for example ) and non traditional sources like insurance settlements, severance and of course, gifted funds from a family member. Don’t forget that you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve had the funds on deposit for up to 90 days and also that you have an additional one and a half percent of the mortgage amount for closing costs.

3- Figure out how much you can afford.
It’s at this point that most people usually stop and scratch their heads. Some even try and tough it out, using the raft of online calculators to figure it out, but new mortgage rules can make even that a challenge.
If you talk to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist ( like me! ) though, they can help you figure it out and even go as far as getting you a “pre-approval” from a financial institution. This can give you the confidence you need to actually start looking around. Read More

20 Jan

Tips to Repair, Increase and Maintain Your Credit

General

Posted by: Paula & Al Roberts

6 Tips on How to Repair, Increase and Maintain Your Credit

6 Tips on How to Repair, Increase and Maintain Your CreditCredit scores are like report cards for grown‐ups. The score you get ranges from 300 to 900. Your score indicates your creditworthiness to potential lenders, banks, landlords, insurance companies, and even to some employers. The higher your score the better.

1. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

Make an inquiry once a year, twice is much better. If you are planning on purchasing anything that requires a credit check, keep track of your credit. This is something that is 100% in your control. As a consumer you have ability to make a soft/consumer inquiry to Equifax as many times as you want without it affecting your score. Here is a link to Equifax. If something doesn’t look right, contact the creditor immediately. Don’t wait to report an incorrect or fraudulent transaction. Is there an outstanding collection? If so, deal with it immediately, and by that I mean pay it. Then argue to get your money back. Do not leave this on your credit report hoping that it will disappear. No matter what, the collection will not be removed until it’s paid unless taken to litigation. Once dealt with, it will still take months to recover the points lost and 6 years to fall off your credit report.

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19 Jan

Be Aware of Allowable Sources of Down Payments

General

Posted by: Paula & Al Roberts

Be Aware Of Allowable Sources Of Down Payments

Be Aware Of Allowable Sources Of Down PaymentsIn Winnipeg, MB, Jackson and Hailey have been living in a rental home for more than three years. They liked this rental home so much; they asked the landlord if they could buy this house. The landlord agreed to sell the property for $300,000 to Jackson and Hailey. On August 1, 2015, the landlord as “seller” and the tenants as “buyer” signed the agreement (Offer to Purchase). They deposited $5,000 with the agreement and the possession date was August 31, 2015. If Jackson and Hailey put 5% down, then they need $15,000 as a down payment PLUS 1.5% for the closing costs of the house – 1.5% of $300,000 would be $4,500. To buy this home, Jackson and Hailey need $15,000 + $4,500. Altogether, they need $19,500.
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15 Jan

The Big Short – Not a Canadian Story

General

Posted by: Paula & Al Roberts

The Big Short – Not a Canadian Story

The Big Short – Not a Canadian StoryMany Canadians, particularly those in Vancouver and Toronto where real estate is spoken of like a sport, will gravitate to the film The Big Short over the coming weeks. It is an adaptation of an excellent book written in 2010 by Michael Lewis. As a Canadian Mortgage Broker who read the book when it came out to better understand the differences between the two countries’ mortgage markets, I was into a theatre within the first few days of its release.

Short version:

Ryan Gosling is the only significant Canadian content in this film.

Long Version:

This is an American tale about an American debacle that takes place due to American finance policies. A tale, a debacle, and policies vastly different from anything we have happening in Canada. As with most things Canadian, our finance system is in fact far more conservative and quite sedate. It is as solidly built, resilient, and popular as Mr. Gosling himself.

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5 Mar

10 Most Commonly Asked Mortgage Questions

General

Posted by: Paula & Al Roberts

1. What’s the best rate I can get?

  • Your credit score plays a big part in the interest rate for which you will qualify, as the riskier you appear as a borrower, the higher your rate will be. Rate is definitely not the most important aspect of a mortgage, however, as many rock-bottom rates often come from no frills mortgage products. In other words, even if you qualify for the lowest rate, you often have to give up other things such as prepayments and porting privileges when opting for the lowest-rate product.

 

2. What’s the maximum mortgage amount for which I can qualify?

  • To determine the amount for which you will qualify, there are two calculations you’ll need to complete. The first is your Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio. GDS looks at your proposed new housing costs (mortgage payments, taxes, heating costs and 50% of strata/condo fees, if applicable). Generally speaking, this amount should be no more than 32% of your gross monthly income. For example, if your gross monthly income is $4,000, you should not be spending more than $1,280 in monthly housing expenses. Second, you will need to calculate your Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio. The TDS ratio measures your total debt obligations (including housing costs, loans, car payments and credit card bills). Generally speaking, your TDS ratio should be no more than 40% of your gross monthly income. Keep in mind that these numbers are prescribed maximums and that you should strive for lower ratios for a more affordable lifestyle. Before falling in love with a potential new home, you may want to obtain a pre-approved mortgage. This will help you stay within your price range and spend your time looking at homes you can reasonably afford.

 

3. How much money do I need for a down payment?

  • The minimum down payment required is 5% of the purchase price of the home. And in order to avoid paying mortgage default insurance, you need to have at least a 20% down payment.

 

4. What happens if I don’t have the full down payment amount?

  • There are programs available that enable you to use other forms of down payment, such as from your RRSPs, a cash-back product, or a gift.

5. What will a lender look at when qualifying me for a mortgage?

  • Most lenders look at five factors when determining whether you qualify for a mortgage: 1. Income; 2. Debts; 3. Employment History; 4. Credit history; and 5. Value of the Property you wish to purchase. One of the first things a lender will consider is how much of your total income you’ll be spending on housing. This helps the lender decide whether you can comfortably afford a house. A lender will then look at your debts, which generally include monthly house payments as well as payments on all loans, credit cards, child support, etc. A history of steady employment, usually within the same job for several years, helps you qualify. But a short history in your current job shouldn’t prevent you from getting a mortgage, as long as there have been no gaps in income over the past two years. Good credit is also very important in qualifying for a mortgage. The lender will also want to know that the house is worth the price you plan to pay.

 

6. Should I go with a fixed- or variable-rate mortgage?

  • The answer to this question depends on your personal risk tolerance. If, for instance, you’re a first-time homebuyer and/or you have a set budget that you can comfortably spend on your mortgage, it’s smart to lock into a fixed mortgage with predictable payments over a specific period of time. If, however, your financial situation can handle the fluctuations of a variable-rate mortgage, this may save you some money over the long run. Another option is to opt for a variable rate, but make payments based on what you would have paid if you selected a fixed rate. Finally, there are also 50/50 mortgage options that enable you to split your mortgage into both fixed and variable portions.

 

7. What credit score do I need to qualify?

  • Generally speaking, you’re a prime candidate for a mortgage if your credit score is 680 and above. The higher you can get above 700 the better, as you will qualify for the lowest rates. These days almost anyone can obtain a mortgage, but the key for those with lower credit scores is the size of the down payment. If you have a sufficient down payment, you can reduce the risk to the lender providing you with the mortgage. Statistics show that default rates on mortgages decline as the down payment increases.

8. What happens if my credit score isn’t great?

  • There are several things you can do to boost your credit fairly quickly. 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 they’re below 70% 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 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. Use these cards periodically and then pay them off. 5) Don’t let mistakes build up. 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.

 

9. How much will I have to pay for closing costs?

  • As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that you put aside at least 1.5% of the purchase price (in addition to the down payment) strictly to cover closing costs. There are several items you should budget for when it comes to closing costs. Property Transfer Tax is charged whenever a property is purchased. The tax will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but I can help with the calculation. GST/HST is only charged on new homes, and does not affect homes priced at less than $400,000. Even homes that exceed the price threshold are only taxed on the portion that exceeds $400,000. Certain conditions may apply. Please contact you lawyer/notary for more detailed information. Your lawyer/notary will charge you a fee for drawing up the mortgage and conveyance of title. The amount of the fee will depend on the individual that you use. The typical cost is $900. If you’re purchasing a single-family home, you’ll need to give your lender a survey certificate showing where the property sits within the property lines. Some exceptions are made, however, on low loan-to-value deals and acreage properties. A survey will cost approximately $300-$350, but the lender will often accept a copy of an existing survey. Other costs include such things as an appraisal fee (approximately $200), title insurance and a home inspection (approximately $350).

10. How much will my mortgage payments be?

  • Monthly mortgage payments vary based on several factors, including: the size of your mortgage; whether you’re paying mortgage default insurance; your mortgage amortization; your interest rate; and your frequency of making mortgage payments. You can view some useful calculators to find out your specific mortgage payments: www.dominionlending.ca/mortgage-calculators