Planning on buying a house in Winnipeg sometime in the near future? If so, you’ll probably need some financial help to afford the purchase.
That’s where mortgages in Winnipeg come into the picture. Mortgages have given countless Canadians the chance to own a home that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford without some financial assistance.
There are a variety of different types of mortgages out there, and the best one for you will depend on your specific situation. That’s why it’s important for you to be familiar with the different types of home loans available so you can commit to one that best suits your needs.
Let’s dig deeper into how to apply for a mortgage in Winnipeg and help you get familiar with your options.
If you’re looking to apply for a mortgage, avoid these common application mistakes.
Mortgage Insurance Rules in Winnipeg
Before we get into the different types of mortgages available, let’s discuss mortgage insurance rules. You likely already have some form of insurance, whether it’s life insurance or car insurance. But when it comes to mortgages, there’s a unique type of insurance policy that must be taken out if you put forth less than a 20% down payment on the home.
Known as mortgage default insurance, this type of insurance is unique in that the borrower is the one who pays the bill, but it’s the lender who is actually covered.
Mortgages with less than a 20% down payment made are riskier for lenders. With a higher loan-to-value ratio – which means you take out a bigger loan amount relative to the value of the property – your lender is placed at greater risk. If you ever default on your loan payments, there will be less equity in the home to work with.
And if your lender is ever put in a position to have to sell the home after the borrower defaults, there is less to recoup. That’s why mortgage default insurance exists, and if you plan to put less than 20% down on your home, you will have to pay extra every month in insurance.
That said, you can always pay that insurance fee upfront rather than rolling it into your monthly mortgage payments. Either way, you’ll still have to pay. The only way to avoid this extra payment is by putting at least a 20% down payment towards the home purchase.
Tips For Saving Your Down Payment Funds
A down payment is a hefty sum of money. And depending on the price you pay for your home, that number can fluctuate quite a bit. The current median price for a home in Winnipeg is around $313,000.
So, if you were to put down 20%, that would translate into a down payment amount of $62,600. That’s a great deal of money that would be tough to come up with at the last minute.
Even if you were to put down a 5% – which is the minimum amount allowed for a conventional mortgage – that would equate to $15,650. Even this amount can be tough to come up with without some sort of savings effort in place.
Considering the amount of money you need to come up with for a down payment to buy a house – as well as all the closing costs that come with a home purchase – it’s wise to start saving as early as possible so you have enough to get approved for a mortgage in Winnipeg.
Here are some tips to help you start saving for a down payment:
- Set up a separate savings account that is dedicated to your down payment
- Commit to setting aside a certain amount or percentage of your income to put into your down payment savings account
- Set up automatic fund transfers every month so that the money is automatically transferred into your savings account without you having to do anything
- Borrow from friends or family
- Borrow from your RRSP account through the First-Time Home Buyers Plan (HBP)
- Reduce your spending
- Sell some of your unused assets
- Pay down as much of your current debt as possible to free up cash to save for your down payment
What Credit Score Do You Need to Get a Mortgage in Winnipeg?
Before you secure a mortgage, you need to apply and get approved first. As you would expect, lenders don’t lend out huge sums of money to just anyone.
They will want to make sure that applicants are financially capable of making regular mortgage payments. Otherwise, lenders risk being put in a position to deal with defaulted mortgages and foreclosures.
As such, your lender is going to want to scope out various aspects of your financial profile, including your credit score.
Your credit score is a three-digit number that estimates how likely you are to make your debt payments. Lenders use it to determine your creditworthiness and how healthy your financial profile is. Your credit score will play a key role in whether or not your lender will approve you for a home loan.
Credit scores in Winnipeg range from 300 to 900 (for more information about credit score ranges, click here). As you might expect, a higher credit score means that your financial profile is healthy. It usually means you’ve been responsible with your bill payments, your debt is under control, and your accounts are in good standing.
On the other end of the spectrum, a low credit score usually means you’ve missed bill payments in the past, have accounts that are in disarray, have mounting debt, or have had black marks in the past, such as consumer proposals or bankruptcies.
To get approved for a mortgage in Winnipeg, you’ll need to have a credit score of at least 650 to 680. Any score less than this will make it much more difficult to get approved for a conventional mortgage. Of course, other factors come into play that determine how high your credit score needs to be to secure a home loan, such as your:
- Debt load
- Type of mortgage you’re applying for
But generally speaking, a credit score in the high 600s is necessary for conventional mortgage approval.
What Options Do You Have If You Have Bad Credit?
As already mentioned, a conventional mortgage will require a credit score of at least 650 to 680. But what if your credit score is less than that? What mortgage options are available for bad credit consumers?
While you might not have much luck securing a conventional mortgage with a bad credit score, there are alternative bad credit mortgages in Winnipeg that you may be able to get approved for.
Bad credit lenders work with consumers who don’t have the credit needed to get approved for a traditional home loan with the bank. In this case, rather than focusing so much on your credit score, alternative bad credit lenders look at other factors, such as your income, most recent payment history, down payment amount, and debt load.
Otherwise, you may find some help getting approved for a mortgage with bad credit with a cosigner. If you can find someone with a strong credit profile who would agree to cosign your mortgage with you, you may have a better chance of getting approved despite your credit score. In this case, your cosigner would have to assume the mortgage payments if you ever default on your home loan payments.
Of course, you can always take measures to improve your credit score if time is on your side. It may take some time, but adopting the following habits can help give your score the boost it needs to get approved for a conventional mortgage:
- Pay all your bills on time
- Don’t max out your credit cards
- Make more than your minimum credit card payments
- Keep old credit accounts open
- Don’t close any accounts that still have a balance left on them
- Pay down your debt
- Take out a secured credit card and use it responsibly
Types of Mortgages Available in Winnipeg
It’s important to understand the different types of mortgage products available before you apply for one.
Conventional mortgages – A minimum down payment amount of 20% of the purchase price of the home and a decent credit score is required to be approved for a conventional mortgage. Because of the high down payment amount, you will be able to avoid mortgage default insurance.
High-ratio mortgages – If you cannot come up with at least 20% for your down payment, the loan will be considered a high-ratio mortgage. A minimum of a 5% down payment and mortgage default insurance payments are required for this type of mortgage.
Fixed-rate mortgages – Lenders charge interest on the loan amount they give out, which is how they make their money. The rate you are charged with a fixed-rate mortgage will not change over the term of the mortgage. Since the interest rate remains stable, this type of mortgage is easier to budget for.
If you expect rates to increase in the near future, locking in a fixed-rate mortgage may be the best way to go.
Variable-rate mortgages – Rather than remaining the same throughout the term of the mortgage, the interest rate associated with a variable-rate mortgage will go up or down at various intervals. They attract borrowers because the rate during the introductory period is usually less than that of a fixed-rate mortgage.
With a closed variable-rate mortgage, the payment amount won’t change regardless of whether the interest rate changes or not. With an open variable-rate mortgage, on the other hand, the payment amount will fluctuate as the rates change in order for the interest-principal ratio to stay the same.
This type of mortgage is great for those with an appetite for risk or who plan to sell before the introductory term ends. They’re also great if rates are expected to decrease at some point in the near future.
Closed mortgages – A closed mortgage comes with a prepayment limit, which means you can only pay a certain amount toward the original mortgage principal balance each year to avoid an early prepayment penalty fee.
Open mortgages – An open mortgage allows you to make any early prepayment amount toward paying off your balance without incurring any penalty fees.
Second mortgages – Also referred to as a home equity loan, a second mortgage allows you to use the equity that you’ve already built up in your home to be used to cover any large expenses. Your home’s equity is equal to the value of your home minus any outstanding balance you still owe on your mortgage.
Bridge loans – If you’re selling a home and buying another, you could find yourself in a situation where there’s a gap between closing dates. Rather than get stuck paying two mortgages, you may want to look into a bridge loan. Lenders who offer these loans provide a sum of money to cover this gap between the two transactions.
Concerned about passing the mortgage stress test? Click here.
Hidden Costs of Buying a Home in Winnipeg
In addition to your mortgage payments, there will also be closing costs that you’ll be responsible for paying upon closing of your real estate transaction, as already mentioned. It’s important to know what these costs are in order for you to save up enough to cover them.
Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere between 2% to 5% of the purchase price of your home in closing costs, which can include the following:
- Down payment
- Mortgage interest
- Property taxes
- Property insurance
- Land transfer taxes
- Moving fees
- School taxes
- HST (if you’re buying a newly constructed home)
- Condo fees (if applicable)
- Home inspection
- Underwriting fees
- Lawyer fees
- Title insurance
- New furniture
For a more detailed look at the hidden costs of buying a house, check out this article.
Mortgage Pre-Approval in Winnipeg
Before you apply for a mortgage in Winnipeg, you may want to consider getting pre-approved first. A pre-approval letter is essentially a promise from your lender that you can be approved for a certain loan amount at a specific interest rate based on your current financial situation. Pre-approvals are only good for a certain amount of time, after which they expire.
It’s important to note that being pre-approved for a mortgage doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get final approval. Only after an offer on a home has been accepted and the final approval process begins will you know for certain that you can secure a mortgage.
That said, if you agree to buy a home before the pre-approval expires, nothing in your financial life has changed, and the appraisal comes in at the same value as what you agreed to pay for the home, approval is almost imminent.
Though not required, mortgage pre-approval can be extremely helpful and useful before you start the house-hunting process. Here are some reasons why going into an offer with a pre-approval letter in hand is recommended:
- It can help you determine how much you can afford in a home purchase
- You’ll appear more financially capable and competitive in the eyes of the seller
- The final mortgage approval process will move along faster
Compare Different Mortgage Products Before You Commit to One
Before you settle on any one particular mortgage product and lender, be sure to do a little comparison shopping first. Look at the following factors before deciding which route to take:
- Interest rate
- Prepayment options
- Amortization period
- Early payment penalties
Mortgage Payment Options
Obviously, the loan amount you take out will need to be paid back to the lender in full at some point. Like most other types of loans, a mortgage will need to be repaid in installments. That means you’ll make regular payments toward the end goal of fully repaying the entire loan amount.
You have options in terms of how frequently you prefer to pay. The option you choose will depend on what you prefer and what your lender is willing to offer you. Here are the types of loan payment frequencies that are available:
- Monthly – This is the most popular choice among borrowers and requires payments to be made once a month.
- Weekly – You’ll make one payment every week until the loan amount is fully repaid.
- Semi-monthly – You’ll make two payments every month for a total of 24 payments in a year.
- Bi-weekly – You’ll make one payment every two weeks for a total of 26 payments in a year. This will translate into two extra payments each year compared to semi-monthly payments.
How long should you amortize your mortgage for? Find out here.
Mortgage Amortization Periods 101
An amortization period refers to the total amount of time that you have to fully repay your loan. By the end of the amortization period, your mortgage amount will need to be completely paid off.
Don’t confuse the amortization period with the mortgage term, as the latter refers to the amount of time that you are legally obligated to pay your mortgage payment amount to your current lender at the current interest rate and terms of the contract. Once the term expires, you’ll have to renew your mortgage if it’s still not paid off.
A longer amortization period will give you more time to pay your loan off, which means your mortgage payments will be smaller. However, this also means that you’ll be stuck with your mortgage for longer and will pay more in interest overall.
A shorter amortization period allows you to pay off your loan a lot faster, which means you can get rid of those mortgage payments sooner and pay less in interest overall. But that also means every mortgage payment will be higher than they would be with a longer amortization period.
Looking to Apply For a Mortgage in Winnipeg?
If buying a house is on your agenda sometime soon, you’ll want to start looking at securing a mortgage. At the very least, getting pre-approved would be a great start. To help get the process moving, contact Loans Canada today to help put you in touch with the right lender who can offer you the ideal mortgage product for you.