5 Feb

Banks vs Credit Union – A Who’s Who in Borrowing

General

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

Banks and Credit unions are often grouped together into one category under “financial institutions”. While they may have several similarities in terms of financial service offerings, in the world of mortgages the banks and credit unions have little in common. As mortgage professionals, we work with both of them and are well versed in the differences between the two. To start with, we will first need to look at the definition of each institution.

A BANK

A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits, lends money and transfers funds. They are listed as public, licensed corporations and have declared earnings that are paid to stockholders. A key point: they are regulated by the federal government-Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

A CREDIT UNION

Credit unions also deposit, lend and transfer funds. However, after that, we run into some differences between the two. Credit Unions have an elected Board of Directors that consist of elected members from their community. They are local and community-based organizations and unlike the banks, they are not federally but Provincially regulated.

Now that we have to clear definitions, we are going to focus on just one of the differences between the two: Who they are regulated by. Credit Unions are not regulated by OSFI therefore, they are not always subject to the mortgage lending rules imposed by the federal government (at least not right away). Take for example the recent changes to the B-20 guidelines. Since Credit Unions are not classified as a Federally Regulated Institution, they currently do not need to comply with the implications listed in the new rule changes. What does this mean for the consumer? Let’s walk through an example.

Say you have a dual income family with a combined annual income of $85,000. The current value of their home is listed at $700,000 and they have a mortgage balance of $415,000. Lenders have agreed to refinance to a maximum amount of 80% LTV (loan to value). That gives us a total of $560,000 minus the existing mortgage and you have $145,000 available provided you qualify to borrow it.

Now let’s put the Bank and the Credit Union toe-to-toe:

Difference between Bank and Credit Union when Refinancing

That means you are able to qualify for $105,000 LESS with the bank when refinancing!

Take the same scenario listed above and let’s apply it to purchasing:

Difference between Bank and Credit Union when Purchasing a Home

Again, you have a reduced amount of $105,000 towards the purchase of your new home.

A few disadvantages to Credit Unions that you should be aware of:

  • You cannot port your mortgage out of province
  • With the introduction of the new B-20 guidelines, there has been an increased demand for Credit Unions. This increasing demand has led to higher rates and sometimes these are not the most competitive for the client. Working with a broker can ensure that you receive the best rate and product for your situation.
  • Credit Unions also have a typically lower debt qualification ratio for how much house you can afford and how much debt you can carry

With those considerations, there are limitations to what Credit Unions are able to offer you. As always, working with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional is one of the best ways to ensure you are not only getting the sharpest rate, but also the best product for you and your unique situation. Give us a call today-we would love to talk to you about your options and how we can help you.

Written By: Geoff Lee, Dominion Mortgage Group

26 Jan

What is a Property Assessment vs a Home Appraisal?

General

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

It’s the time of year when many homeowners are getting their property assessments.

The real estate market is the single biggest influence on market values. Market forces vary from year to year and from property to property. The market value on an assessment notice may differ from that shown on a bank mortgage appraisal or a real estate appraisal because an assessment’s appraisal reflects the value at a different time of the year, while a private appraisal can be done at any time.

Use your Assessment as a starting point for the value of the property your planning your home purchase… Do not rely on a provincial assessment for the exact value of the property you’re considering purchasing. Markets can change quickly both increasing and decreasing in value depending on the area.

What is a Home Appraisal?
An appraisal is a document that gives an estimate of a property’s current fair market value.

Often there is no connection between a provincial assessment and appraised value. This is why lenders want an appraisal – an independent evaluation of the properties value at this moment in time.

Primarily home appraisals are completed at the request of a lender. Lenders want to know the value of a property in the current market before they are willing to lend against the home.

The appraisal is performed by an “appraiser” who is typically an educated, licensed, and heavily regulated third party offering an unbiased valuation of the property in question, trained to render expert opinions concerning property values.

When an appraisal is done, consideration is given to the property, the home, its location, amenities, as well as its physical condition.

Appraisals may also be required when an owner has less than 20% down payment and needs mortgage default insurance.

Who pays for the Home Appraisal?
Typically, the borrower pays the cost of the appraisal, and upon completion, the appraisal goes directly to the lender (does not go into the home buyer’s hands).

I know it sounds odd, but brokerages, lenders and appraisers cannot just show the buyer the appraisal on a property, even though the borrower paid for it.

Think of an appraisal as an administrative fee for finding today’s current value of the property
You need a Home Appraisal since the lender doesn’t want to lend on a poor investment and the appraisal helps the buyer decide if the property is worth what they offered (especially in hot markets like Vancouver & Toronto).

Why don’t you get a copy of the appraisal? The appraiser considers their client to be the lender (the reason the appraisal was ordered). The lender has guidelines for the appraisal, and the appraiser prepares his report according to those parameters.

The lender is free to share the appraisal with the borrower, but the appraiser cannot share it. This is because the lender is the client… NOT the borrower!! It doesn’t matter who pays for the appraisal.

Sometimes an appraisal can come in lower than the purchase price, causing angry calls to the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), and the answer they give is: the Brokerage or Lender is the client of the appraiser, and as such has ownership of the report.

One of the main reasons the buyer pays for the appraisal, is that if the mortgage doesn’t go through, the lender does not want to be on the hook for paying for the appraisal and not getting the business.

Lenders are also aware that home buyers could take the appraisal and shop it around with other Lenders to try and get a better deal.

It is rare for Lenders to share the report. With most appraisal companies, the appraisal is only provided after the closing of the mortgage transaction and must have the lender’s approval.

After the funding of your mortgage, some mortgage brokers will refund the appraisal fee or sometimes the lender may agree to reimburse the cost of the appraisal.

While a lender does not have to release the entire appraisal, there are some pieces of information that remain the personal property of the buyer, and PIPEDA legislation guarantees them access to that. However, any information on the report that does not relate to the property itself (such as the neighboring properties or other data about the community) would come off the report before the lender provided it.

Some other reasons for getting an Appraisal:

  • to establish a reasonable price when selling real estate
  • to establish the replacement cost (insurance purposes).
  • to contest high property taxes.
  • to settle a divorce.
  • to settle an estate.
  • to use as a negotiation tool (in real estate transactions).
  • because a government agency requires it.
  • lawsuit

Getting your home ready for an Appraisal:
The appraiser report involves a report including pictures of the home and property with the appraiser’s value of the property, along with a short summary of how that information was derived.

9 tips for high value home appraisals

Most lenders have an approved appraiser list which requires appraisers to have the appropriate designation. Lenders tend to reject appraisals that are ordered directly by property owners. Lenders want the appraisal to be ordered by the broker or the lender, primarily to avoid potential interference from the property owner.

Home Appraisal Costs
Appraisal costs do vary. Most home appraisals start around $350 (plus tax) but they can go much higher depending on how expensive the home is, complexity of the appraisal and how easily the appraiser can access comparable data.

Are you thinking of buying a home? As you can tell there is lots to discuss, call me today to have a chat!

Written by: Kelly Hudson, Dominion Lending Centres

18 Dec

What Is A Cash Back Mortgage?

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

WHAT IS A CASH BACK MORTGAGE?

Every once in a while, a bank will advertise a cash back mortgage. It sounds great but there are a few things to consider.
When you purchase a home, you may find that you need some extra cash. You may want to renovate, purchase some furniture, or start on building a fence or landscaping.. Fortunately, some Canadian lenders offer mortgages that give you a cash back rebate when you take out your mortgage.
With a cash back mortgage, your lender advances you a cash lump sum when your mortgage closes. The most common sum you receive is 5% of your mortgage amount, but it’s possible to get between 1% and 5% depending on the lender you choose. Note that you receive these funds when the mortgage closes. The funds cannot be used for your down payment, however if you borrowed your down payment you could use the funds to pay back the loan.
This sounds like a great idea but there are some down sides to this type of mortgage. First- you will pay about 1.5% higher interest rate for the duration of the mortgage term. Usually this is a five-year term and if you take a look at how much extra interest you are paying you will find that it takes you five years to pay this sum back to the lender.
Another point to consider is that Canadians move on average every three years. What if you have to break the mortgage? In that case, you owe the lender the usual three months interest or Interest Rate Differential (IRD) as well as the balance of the cash back balance. This could be a very pricey move. If your lender allows it , it’s best to port your mortgage to your new home to avoid the double hit of the penalty and paying the cash back.
A cash back mortgage is a great option but it’s not for everyone. Be sure to tell your mortgage broker if it’s at all possible that you will have to move before your mortgage term is over so that he or she can advise you on what your penalties would be. If you have any questions, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

Written by David Cooke, Dominion Lending Centres

13 Nov

You Just Got a Mortgage. Now What?

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

YOU JUST GOT A MORTGAGE. NOW WHAT?

Mortgages are a funny thing. On the one hand they allow you to become a home owner without saving up enough money to purchase the home outright, which is a really good thing. On the other hand, even at today’s really low interest rates, as they are amortized over a really long time (most of the time 25 years), they can cost you a lot more money in the long run. With the government tightening mortgage qualification, chances are securing your most recent mortgage wasn’t a painless process.
So now that you finally have a mortgage, and you’re a home owner, the first thing you should do is figure out how to get rid of your mortgage! Here are 4 ways you can do that!

ACCELERATE YOUR PAYMENT FREQUENCY
Making the change from monthly payments to accelerated bi-weekly payments is one of the easiest ways you can make a difference to the bottom line of your mortgage. Most people don’t even notice the difference.
A traditional mortgage splits the amount owing into 12 equal monthly payments. Accelerated biweekly is simply taking a regular monthly payment and dividing it in two, but instead of making 24 payments, you make 26. The extra two payments really accelerate the pay down of your mortgage.

INCREASE YOUR MORTGAGE PAYMENT AMOUNT
Unless you opted for a “no-frills” mortgage, chances are you have the ability to increase your regular mortgage payment by 10-25%. This is a great option if you have some extra cash flow to spend in your budget. This money will go directly towards paying down the principal amount owing on your mortgage, and isn’t a prepayment of interest. The more money you can pay down when you first get your mortgage the better, as it has a compound effect, meaning you will pay less interest over the life of your mortgage.
Also, by voluntarily increasing your mortgage payment, it’s kinda like signing up for a long term forced savings plan where equity builds in your house rather than your bank account.

MAKE A LUMP SUM PAYMENT
Again, unless you have a “no-frills” mortgage, you should be able to make bulk payments to your mortgage. Depending on your lender and your mortgage product, you should be able to put down anywhere from 10-25% of the original mortgage balance. Some lenders are particular about when you can make these payments, however if you haven’t taken advantage of a lump sum payment yet this year, you will be eligible.

REVIEW YOUR OPTIONS REGULARLY
As your mortgage payments are withdrawn from your account regularly, it’s easy to simply put your mortgage payments on auto-pilot, especially if you have opted for a 5 year fixed term. Regardless of the terms of your mortgage, it’s a good idea to give your mortgage an annual review. There may be opportunities to refinance and lower your interest rate, or maybe not, but the point of reviewing your mortgage annually, is that you are conscious about making decisions regarding your mortgage.

If you have any questions about your mortgage, how to get a mortgage, or how to get rid of the mortgage you have, please don’t hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

written by Michael Hallett, Dominion Lending Centres

13 Nov

4 Common Financial Mistakes Every Small Business Owner Should Avoid

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

4 COMMON FINANCIAL MISTAKES EVERY SMALL BUSINESS OWNER SHOULD AVOID

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.

Forgetting to have an emergency fund
Every successful entrepreneur will probably tell you that hindsight is 20/20 and foresight is … well you just never know what’s going to happen. Every business will have to pivot and there will always be unexpected hurdles. That being said, it’s absolutely imperative that you have your contingency plan, especially when it comes to finances. I recommend that every business owner has a three-month emergency fund at least.
You should start putting money away into your emergency fund as soon as the cash comes in. No matter the size of your business you should learn the art of bootstrapping and staying lean. The more money you put away, the more you’ll force yourself to get by with what you have. The majority of startups fail due to the lack of or misuse of capital. Having an emergency fund gives you a bit more runway when disaster strikes.

Failing to separate business funds from personal funds
This is one of the most common and dangerous pitfalls in small businesses. Small business owners often put their lives on the line for their business, literally. This is a big no-no. When starting a business it’s important to immediately separate your personal finances from your business finances. If you’re like any other entrepreneur it’s going to take more than one go to be successful. That being said, you definitely don’t want a failed business to tarnish your financial reputation.
Start by opening up a business bank account and apply for a business credit card to keep track of expenses. Make sure you’re only using your business credit card for business expenses and vice a versa. Failing to separate the two can also lead to complications around balancing accounts, filing taxes, measuring profits and even setting clear financial goals. Do yourself a favor and avoid mixing these expenses.

Spending too much time on non-cash-generating activities
It’s a given that you most likely won’t see an ROI on every activity you do when running a business. That being said, it’s important to distinguish which ones have the highest chance of eventually generating some cash flow. When it comes to time tracking and time management, it’s important to pay close attention to your productivity levels.
Everyone has 24 hours in a day, some decide to work smarter than others and that’s why they become successful. Know that time is your most valuable asset and treat it as such. Remember, it’s okay to say no or to turn down meetings that you know provide little to no value for your business. There’s no need to take or be present on every phone call either. Being able to identify what brings true and tangible value to your business is a key to success.
Try your best to follow the 80/20 rule. There are likely three to four activities in your business that generate the most cash. Once you identify these activities, create a habit of spending 80 percent of your time doing these tasks and save the rest of your time for other miscellaneous jobs. If you’re able to get really disciplined around this strategy, it will surely pay off.
It takes years of practice to improve your financial literacy. Although most lessons in finance are learned the hard way, it’s important to learn them nonetheless. Take note of these four common financial mistakes and do your best to avoid them. Contact Dominion Lending Centres Leasing if you have any questions.

written by Jennifer Okkerse, Dominion Lending Centres
27 Sep

Avoiding “Sticker Shock

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

AVOIDING “STICKER SHOCK” WHEN IT COMES TO MORTGAGE RENEWAL

Imagine that, a few years from now, the time has come to renew your mortgage.

Several years back, you got a $350,000 at the then great rate of 2.24%. Your mortgage payments are $1522 per month.

Because we are now in what the financial brainboxes call “ an escalating rate environment “ – normal people just say rates are going up – when you open your renewal notice you might encounter the same feeling you get when you look at the price of a car you like.

When you actually do look at the renewal notice, you see that the remaining balance on your mortgage is now $294,662, the new ( very competitive rate ) is 3.25% and that the new payment is $1668, actually $150 dollars a month MORE than you were paying previously. You think “WHAT THE….???”

This type of sticker shock is a new sensation to an entire generation of Canadians. Brokers are fond of talking about the fact that rates had not moved in 7 years but we rarely talk about the fact that rates have been trending down for more than twenty years and chances are, if you’ve had a mortgage for any time during that period, the payment at renewal has always been lower than when you started out.

‘Well, what’s to be done’, you ask? ‘How do I avoid “sticker shock”?

The key to avoiding that sinking feeling is to increase your payment slightly every year. You can find out how much to increase it during your Annual Mortgage Review. By increasing your monthly payment by even 2% a month, you can potentially avoid that sinking feeling – and pay off your mortgage even faster!

But wait; “Annual Mortgage Review? Qu’est-ce que c’est”, you ask.

An annual mortgage review, done with either your mortgage provider’s representative or your own mortgage representative ( i.e. your friendly Mortgage Professional) is just a quick check up to discuss what the current balance is, how things are going and do a quick review of your early payment privileges, increased payment privileges and potential prepayment privileges.

Its best to have these annually because , well, the average human needs to be shown the same information seven times to learn it – save time and start today. If you have any questions, please contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist.

Blog written by Jonathan Barlow,  DLC A Better Way

27 Sep

Bank of Canada Rate Change – Should I Lock In?

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

BANK OF CANADA RATE CHANGE – SHOULD I LOCK IN?

This month, the Bank of Canada increased their lending rate for the 2nd time in as many months. The changes in the Prime Lender Rates means that those with a variable mortgage rates will have seen that their mortgages rates adjusted alongside the changes to Prime Rate. For those of you with variable rates, the first thing that probably crossed your mind was “should I lock in?”

Even though your interest rate may have increased, it does not mean that you should immediately lock into a fixed rate mortgage. An associate from B.C, Dustan Woodhouse had this to share about the increase:

“If your discount from Prime (now 3.20%) is 0.50% or deeper – then the variable rate product remains a really great place to be.

If your discount from Prime is 0.25% or less, then depending on which lender you are with you may consider converting to a fixed rate, BUT…

Keep in mind the penalty to prepay (i.e. refinance or sale of property) a variable early is ~0.50% of the mortgage balance, whereas if in a (4yr/5yr or longer) fixed rate mortgage the penalty can be closer to 4.5% of the mortgage balance ***depending upon which specific lender you are with and how long of a term you lock in for.

It is usually to the lenders greater benefit that you lock into a fixed rate, rarely is it to your own benefit.”

I could not have summarized it any better myself, so I won’t try.

So what should you do?
The first thing that you should be doing is avoiding the immediate draw or feeling of “I need to lock in”. There are several different aspects of your mortgage and personal financial situation that should be considered prior to locking in. There are many questions to ask yourself prior to locking in and most of which the lenders are unlikely to ask you. Your lender is re-active, not pro-active – you need to be pro-active. And sometimes being pro-active results in no action being taken at all.

Simply because the Bank of Canada increased interest rates twice, this does not immediately mean that they will do it again. There are many economic factors outside of their control that will impact their decisions regarding future potential increases.

Presently, the key is not to react quickly. If you have questions about your specific situation and how the increase may impact you, feel free to give Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist a call to chat about things in more detail. Allow us the opportunity to ask the questions that need to be asked prior to making a quick switch.

Food for thought…
Back in 2010 rates increased 0.25% three times, and that sat stagnant for nearly five full years before two 0.25% decreases back downward.

In other words the last time Prime was pushed as high as it stands today, it sat there for five full years. And was then cut.

The next Bank of Canada meeting is October 25, 2017.

Blog written by Nathan Lawrence, Dominion Lending Centres

7 Sep

Thinking About Putting In a Firm Offer? Make Sure You Read This First

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

THINKING ABOUT PUTTING IN A FIRM OFFER? MAKE SURE YOU READ THIS FIRST

The market is constantly changing these days, so if you asked me about affordability just a few weeks ago, I would have had a different answer, as the seller’s market has quickly shifted to a buyer’s market – for now, anyway.

This spring, many first-time homebuyers were quickly being priced out of the market due to multiple bidding scenarios that saw houses sell well over their asking prices. This was not an ideal situation for any buyer – let alone first-time buyers on a particularly tight budget.

And while affordability was going by the wayside just a few weeks ago, so too were having a condition of financing and a home inspection included in the purchase offer.

Weighing the no condition of financing risks 

Going in firm (with no conditions) on an offer to purchase is incredibly risky for numerous reasons.

In a state of panic during multiple bidding scenarios, many homebuyers opt to take the no conditions route in the hopes that it lands them the home of their dreams. What it often does instead, however, is land them in hot water. Once a firm offer has been accepted by the seller, the purchaser is bound to that contract, which means they can end up in a lot of legal trouble if they can’t secure financing on that property by the agreed upon closing date.

On the flip side, if a purchaser places a condition of financing within the purchase offer, they have time after the offer is accepted to arrange the mortgage. If they’re unable to arrange financing by a specific date noted in the contract, they can simply walk away from the deal with no repercussion.

It’s important to note that lenders loan money based on appraised values, not on the selling price.

What happens if I forego a home inspection? 

When things go wrong with a house, they can prove extremely expensive – especially when pertaining to the home’s structural integrity. After all, a home inspection looks at much more than the mere cosmetics of a property that can be seen through an amateur’s eye.

Home inspectors are professionals who look at homes every day and know the ins and outs of pretty much anything that could go wrong with things such as the roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing and so much more.

And, on the financing side, foregoing an inspection can also prove risky. What you may not know is that lenders don’t only lend based on the borrower’s financial situation, but also based on the conditions of the property that you want to purchase. It’s part of a lender’s due diligence to ensure the property is livable and worth the amount of money that you’re willing to spend.

The safest move is to consult with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before making any offers to ensure your bases are covered and you’re not bound to a contract you simply can’t fulfill.

Blog written by Tracy Valko, Dominion Lending Centres

14 Aug

The Role Of A Mortgage Broker

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

THE ROLE OF A MORTGAGE BROKER

The Role of a Mortgage BrokerBuying a home is a big step – a big, very exciting, potentially stressful step! How can you take the hassle out of the equation and keep your buying experience super positive? Easy… Surround yourself with a team of experienced professionals!

Many experienced realtors insist on starting your financing first, that’s where your Mortgage Broker comes in.

What is a Mortgage Broker? A Mortgage Broker is an expert in real estate loans that acts as a match-maker between home buyers looking for money and lenders with funds available to borrow. A broker will collect information from you about your employment, income, assets, loans and other financial obligations as well discuss your current budget, spending patterns and goals in order to get a thorough understanding of where you’re at and where you’d like to be. From here they assess the strengths and any weaknesses in your application and can advise on potential suitable financing options and any next steps you might need to take in preparing yourself for loan approval.

Talking with a Mortgage Broker before you start shopping is helpful for a number of reasons:

  • You’ll develop a well-founded expectation of the price range and payments that you can afford.
  • You’ll have a chance to address any potential gaps in your application for financing BEFORE you’re in a time crunch to meet deadlines for closing.
  • Sellers may take your offer more seriously when you tell them you’ve been pre-approved for your financing putting you in a better position to negotiate (price, possession date, inclusions, other terms, etc).
  • You and your Mortgage Broker will begin to compile your documentation so that your application is ready to go when you find the perfect home, leaving your mind free to start arranging furniture in your new place.

So why use a Mortgage Broker rather than your bank?

A Mortgage Broker has access to loans from a wide range of lenders. That means that you have more potential places to get approved, AND can take advantage of best products, top programs and lowest pricing!

A Mortgage Broker must complete a series of courses and pass the corresponding exams prior to obtaining a license to sell mortgages. In order to maintain that license a Broker must uphold the highest standards of moral, ethical, and professional conduct – including ongoing education and training.

A Mortgage Broker working with multiple lender options means that they truly SHOP for the best programs and rates for you based on comparisons and choices and don’t simply sell you the limited products they have to offer through a single bank source.

Mortgage Brokers work EXCLUSIVELY in mortgages so they are mortgage product specialists rather than banking generalists. Brokers deal with real estate transactions involving deadlines and conditions everyday as part of their job. They understand the urgency of meeting these commitments to ensure a successful transaction for everyone involved.

Learn more by contacting your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today!

 written by Mandy Reinhardt, DLC A Better Way,  Medicine Hat
30 Jul

How Credit Affects Your Loan Approval

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Sharlene Scott

HOW CREDIT AFFECTS YOUR LOAN APPROVAL

When you apply for a loan, lenders assess your credit risk based on a number of factors. Your credit score, as well as the information on your credit report, are key ingredients in determining whether you’ll be able to get financing and the rate you’ll pay. To get approved for a loan and to pay a lower interest rate it’s important that your credit report reflects that you’re a responsible borrower who pays their debts on time with a low risk of defaulting.

Credit Report vs. Credit Score
To start with, it’s important to understand that your credit report and your credit score are two separate things.

Credit Report – Your credit report contains information detailing your credit history. Sources include lenders, utility companies and landlords. This information is compiled by one of two major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax and TransUnion) that try to create an accurate picture of your financial history. Credit files include information such as:
• Name, address and social insurance number
• Types of credit you use
• When you opened a loan or line of credit
• The balances and available credit on your credit cards and other lines of credit
• Information about whether you pay your bills on time
• Information about any accounts passed to a collection’s agency
• How much new credit you’ve opened recently
• Records related to bankruptcy, tax liens or court judgments
Errors on your credit report can reduce your score artificially. In fact, 1 in 4 consumers have damaging credit report errors. Therefore, it’s important to stay up-to-date on your credit report history. If there is an error, you should dispute it and get it removed as soon as possible. Last year, 4 out of 5 consumers who filed a dispute got their credit report modified, according to a U.S. study by the Federal Trade Commission.

Credit Score – Your credit score is the actual numeric value extrapolated from the information in your credit report. A credit-reporting bureau applies a complex mathematical algorithm to the information in your credit file to create your numerical credit score.
Beacon is the most widely known credit scoring formula in Canada and is used by many creditors. Your FICO score can range from 300 to 850, with under 400 being very low and 700+ putting you in the healthy range. Your credit score is meant to give potential lenders an idea of how big of a financial risk you are. The higher your score, the less likely you are to default or make late payments and the more likely you are to be approved for financing.
Your score is based most strongly on three factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%) and how long you’ve had credit (15%).

What Are They Used For?
Lenders glance at your credit score to determine your credit risk. Most traditional lenders have pre-set standards. If your credit score is within a certain range, they’ll offer you certain credit terms. If you don’t fall within their approved range, then you may be denied. Most banking institutions will only approve a loan if the client has a credit score of at least 640. A score of 700, however, gives you a much better chance at gaining approval at most lending institutions and at reasonable rates.
As far as interest rates are concerned, banks use an array of factors to set them. The truth is they are looking to maximize profits for themselves and shareholders. On the other hand, consumers and businesses seek the lowest rate possible. A commonsense approach for getting a good rate would be having the highest credit score possible.
It’s important to note that if you apply for a loan, the lender will most likely pull your credit score through what is commonly called a “hard inquiry” on your credit, which slightly lowers your credit score. Therefore, it’s important to know your credit score ahead of time, fix any errors, and apply for loans which you have a good chance of being approved for.

Things You Can Do to Improve Your Credit Score

1. Check your credit report for errors – While the credit agencies do their best to keep your record free of errors, they can make mistakes. It’s important to check your credit report at least once a year — consumers are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months — to ensure all of the information is correct. Each agency may have slightly different information and, consequently, may have errors another credit report doesn’t.
2. Set up payment reminders – Making credit payments on time is one of the biggest contributing factors of your credit score. It may be helpful to set up automatic payments through credit card or loan providers so you don’t forget to pay when payment is due.
3. Reduce the amount of debt you owe – Stop using your credit cards. Use your credit report to make a list of all your accounts and check recent statements to determine how much you owe on each account and what interest rate they’re charging you. Then create a payment plan to lower or eliminate the debt you still owe.

How Dominion Lending Centres Can Help
Many businesses need financing to start or expand. Although your credit score is only one component of your lender’s decision, it’s an important one. If you have a low credit score and are unable to secure financing through a traditional bank, DLC Leasing will be able to get you approved with our team of lenders. When the bank says no, our team will still say yes with flexible terms and interest rates.

Written by Jennifer Okkerse, Dominion Lending Centres – Director of Operations, Leasing Division