18 May 2016
Just a few years ago, a federally imposed limit on how much equity you could access via refinancing your home was tightened to 80% of value. The requirement to maintain a minimum 20% equity in your property has made refinancing for many people difficult. Those who only put 5% or 10% down must wait years to build up to the 20% minimum as it is.
Over the last two years, I have seen many clients with more than 20% home equity yet carrying higher consumer debt load seek a refinance to access equity, pay off or consolidate all of their consumer debt. Many clients just did not have enough equity to make this possible.
Fast forward to spring 2016 and we are seeing a sellers’ market leading to bidding wars and increased home valuations. This recent surge may be of benefit to similar existing homeowners that do not wish to sell.
A refinance does not make what we owe disappear. We are looking to move debt from bad (unsecured) debt to good debt where it is secured against an appreciating asset. We are looking to wipe the slate clean and get a fresh start! Having high usage of your credit limits is likely eroding your credit score, adding needless stress to your life and costing you more over time than is necessary.
The major benefits of a refinance are roping all expenses into one low interest debt, reducing your overall monthly interest cost yet most important for families is the monthly cash flow improvement! I often recommend that some of the monthly savings be added to the mortgage prepayments to accelerate the debt reduction while keeping some cash left in pocket for lifestyle enjoyment!
Many people with fantastic jobs and incomes simply get a bit too deep into multiple lines of credit, new car payments and credit cards. It happens all too quickly where people overestimate what they can comfortably afford. The focus of debt cost unfortunately has shifted where folks are not concerned about the total debt amount or payoff schedule, the determining factor seems to have evolved to whether they can handle the monthly payment; cars, toys, vacations all start to add up.
These groups of clients had been able to make all payments, yet the debt did not seem to be reducing year over year. Their options were second mortgages, private mortgages or refinance to the 80% max and still keep a pile of monthly consumer debt repayments. Ultimately, I had recommended that a few clients opt to sell their home to pay off the entire debt load, and put 5-10% down on a newer home. This was the only way to access more of their equity to pay everything off. The average monthly savings that I have seen for these groups of clients was between $1,000 – $1,600/month!
This is a prime time to reassess your current financial situation. If you owe significant amounts on credit cards, lines of credit or other consumer debts, there may be enough headroom in your equity to allow you to refinance. Another prime reason to consider a refi would be property improvements and renovations, where you may be accessing equity yet the added debt may be directly offset by the potential increase in property value.
Ultimately, it is best to consult with a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional first. Let the math and numbers show you whether it makes sense to make a change. Our job is not to sell you a mortgage. We offer solutions or strategies through showing the numbers in a way that may have not occurred to you before!
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Kris is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Surrey, BC.