Wednesday, December 5, 2007

2007 CAAMP conference a success

Hi everyone: Just got back from the annual Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) Conference in downtown Toronto. About 2000 delegates were gathered together over the last few days to meet and renew old friendships, greet newcomers, hear from industry experts and motivational speakers and exchange ideas and best practices about how to serve their customers - THAT'S YOU !

The annual trade show and exposition also gives attendees the opportunity to visit the booths of the various industry participants: lenders, appraisers, technology companies, mortgage brokerages and much more to hear about new product developments and trends. And while we were all away, the Bank of Canada even dropped the prime rate ... how nice of them.

Watch for more news in the coming days from the trade show and conference.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Snowbirds: Protect your home while you're away

Break-ins, mortgage scams, theft of mail and identity, arson, flood ... almost makes you want to just stay home doesn't it ? Planning ahead is the key to protecting yourself against these types of problems.
Step 1 - read your home insurance policy. Check for statements regarding your home not going uninhabited for more than a few days. Make sure you have a trusted relative (I do this for my own parents), friend or most preferably a neighbour - since they are close enough not to make it difficult to do - drop in every 3 or 4 days while you are gone. Make a check-list for them to review on their visits. They should shovel snow from walkways and driveways not only for safety reasons but to make it look as if someone is home and collect flyers and deliveries so as not to leave clues that no one is home. The list should also include a review of the thermostat settings, basement for flooding, windows for breaks or signs of forced entry, lights on timers not burnt out, taps not dripping, all doors locked, checking phone messages ... this just gives you a start on what to include. It could keep your insurance company happy (check with them for instructions) and both you and your scheduled visitor have a "contract" of what is expected. Obviously a little gift on your return will be appreciated in return of the favour!
Step 2 - reroute your mail, cancel newspapers and periodicals. Avoid these tip off signs to burglars who watch neighbourhoods especially more established ones where they know/assume that the inhabitants are empty nesters or retirees more likely to travel for extended periods. This also helps cut down on mail theft which can lead to costly identity fraud and the ruin of your credit history and the hassle of being chased for bills that aren't yours. It may even prevent your home being stolen right out from under you.
Step 3 - and that brings me to title insurance. Even if you aren't away for an extended period of time, your identity can be stolen, title to your property searched and stolen before you know it. Ask your mortgage professional or contact us via this blog for information on coverage available for you.
Step 4 - I mentioned timers previously ... have a couple of lights - kitchen, bedroom for example - set on timers to go on and off to give the illusion of you being home as a deterrant to burglars. Look into sensors for external lights in the backyard above the door and in front of the house on the garage or front porch.
There are many other safety precautions you can take to ensure you have a worry free trip and no surprises when you return. Consult your insurance professional and your travel consultant for a more comprehensive list and advice.
And of course, while you're away don't forget to check our blog since we'll be here with more interesting and useful news for you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Canadian house prices continue to rise says 3rd quarter report

High consumer confidence, strong employment and stable interest rates led to healthy buyer demand which prompted average resale housing prices in all major markets to rise according to a recent survey released on the 3rd quarter by Royal LePage Real Estate Services.
Condos had the highest percentage rise to an average of $241,818 with 2-storeys moving to an average of $407,613 followed by bungalows to an average of $340,941. In spite of these lofty levels, recent Statscan reports cite that homeownership rates are the highest on record. Extended amortizations and interest only options are helping keep monthly carrying costs down at affordable levels. Check with your local mortgage professional to see what you qualify for or how to lower your monthly payments.
The strong loonie also has Canadians reviewing their holiday and retirement plans now that it is substantially cheaper to holiday or winter down in the southern United States. Real Estate agents in Florida and California among others are experiencing a spike in inquiries by snowbirds benefitting from the double whammy of higher Canadian dollars in their pockets and a slipping of real estate values in the US.
Numbers in from Toronto's MLS for September and October indicate that activity was up over 2006 levels in both months and will lead to a strong finish for 2007. In Pickering, overall activity was up 34%.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ontario housing market forecast

Ontario's economic growth will remain stable although predicted to lag behind that of the Canadian average. A narrowing of the gap between Eastern and Western Canada should ease the outflow of Ontarians heading west according to the latest quarterly report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Other highlights include: new heights in resale housing volumes, faster growth of existing home prices than inflation in the short run and finally continued above historical levels for for Ontario new home
Ted Tsiakopoulos, CMHC's Ontario Regional Economist says "Higher mortgage carrying costs and slower job growth in higher paying employment sectors in 2008 will shift demand towards the less expensive multi-family home sector. A tight resale apartment market combined with a backlog of apartment sales that have yet to commence will further support activity in the multi-family home sector."
For more information check CMHC's website.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Are you satisfied with your mortgage ?

Thanks to "good interest rates" and longer amortizations keeping monthly payments low, about 4 out of 5 of us are happy with our mortgage according to a recent poll of 2000 Canadians taken on behalf of CAAMP in late September/early October 2007. In just the last year, over 1/3 of the survey sample indicated they had already taken a longer amortization period than the til then "normal" 25 year period. Nearly 6 out of 10 said that more choice in options made them happy and 28% of respondents confirmed they had used the services of a mortgage professional. Surprisingly, of those who had taken out their mortgage in the last year, 43% of them used a mortgage professional. Respondents in Ontario and Quebec were positive about buying a house at this time.

Make sure you contact a mortgage professional when you are thinking about purchasing or refinancing in order to get the best unbiased advice to create a mortgage plan just for you.

That's all til next time and remember ... your mortgage matters.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The birth of the Mortgage Matters blog

Well hello and welcome to the Mortgage Matters blog - I'm your host Marshall Spencer, AMP and this is my initial post! I'll be using my 24 years of mortgage industry experience to help you navigate the world of mortgages here in Ontario and try to provide some useful tips and links to other resources too.

To introduce myself a little more, the AMP after my name stands for "Accredited Mortgage Professional" which is a designation earned through the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) formerly known as the Canadian Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders (CIMBL). Only by succesfully completing both mandatory and approved elective continuing education courses, meeting a requirement for experience in the industry and following a professional code of conduct and ethics is a member of CAAMP is eligible to use the AMP designation. It is something all consumers should ask about when dealing with a mortgage professional whether buying or refinancing.

CAAMP is a national organization which works to link together mortgage professionals across Canada - there are also several international members too!

In addition to being a CAAMP member for many years, I am also a member of the Independant Mortgage Brokers Association of Ontario (IMBA), a provincial body with much the same mandate as CAAMP and serve on their seminar committee. IMBA has also recently introduced a professional designation Certified Professional Mortgage Broker (CPMB) and Certified Professional Mortgage Agent (CPMA). When I'm not busy arranging mortgages, servicing the clients or mortgage agents I work with or blogging about mortgages, I hope to satisfy the requirements of the CPMB. I am strongly committed to professionalism and continuing education to keep serving the industry to the best of my ability.

I'm excited to bring my knowledge and experience into cyberspace and onto your monitor. Let's get ready to demystify mortgages, explain product benefits and compare their differences and how to get debt free faster. Look forward to the next time - bye for now. Don't forget ... your mortgage matters.

Marshall Spencer, AMP
Vice-President, Business Development
Real Mortgage Associates Inc.