Money & Career

5 things you need to know about mortgages

5 things you need to know about mortgages

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Money & Career

5 things you need to know about mortgages

People have been buying houses for centuries, so you may think it's easy to get a mortgage. Unfortunately, you can't just walk into a bank and say, "I want to buy a house so give me a loan." The process can take a while and it can be complicated. Here are five things you may not know about the mortgage process.

1. It's about the income
This may seem obvious, but you have to make money to get a mortgage. The more money you make, the more you can afford. A lot of people are surprised when they're rejected because of income, especially first time homebuyers.

Some people think that their salary will increase every year, so they'll have plenty of money for the payments. Unfortunately, the bank doesn't care what will happen next year. You need enough cash now to buy that place.

2. Amortization periods have dropped
You'll also need to be making more money now than you did just a few months ago. The government of Canada reduced amortization periods from 30 years to 25 years, which means you can't stretch out that monthly payment –therefore reducing the amount – any longer. You now need to earn more money or put more money down to get that dream home.

3. You can get longer terms
Generally, mortgage terms are five years – after that time, you'll likely have to refinance at a different interest rate. You can, however, get longer terms, such as seven or even 10-year rates. You'll end up paying more per month – the longer the term the higher the interest rate – but you'll be able to hang on to those terms for a long time. That's attractive in today's low interest rate environment. A lot of institutions are offering low 10-year rates; if rates rise over the next decade you could end up paying a lot less than if you had to agree to a new rate in five years.

Page 1 of 2 -- Just how important is your credit history when you're trying to secure a mortgage? Find out on page 2.4. Your credit history really matters
Mortgage lenders will take a hard look at your credit history. If you have none -- maybe you only recently started using a credit card -- then there's a good chance you won't get a loan. If you have bad credit, then you might also get denied or you'll be asked to pay a higher interest rate.

It's a good idea to check your credit before buying; if your credit score is low, work at getting it higher before buying a house.

5. Weekly payments are better than monthly
The actual dollar value that you'll pay your lender each month is pretty much the same whether you pay once a week or once a month. Yet weekly payments can reduce your amortization period by months, if not years. Why? First of all there are two extra payments if you pay weekly.

But the biggest advantage is that you're paying off interest faster. There's less time for interest to accumulate -- seven days versus about 30. The less interest you pay, the faster you can pay off your mortgage.

Every homeowner should want to pay down his or her mortgage as quickly as possible. If you know more about the process, there's no reason you can't find ways to clear your balance sooner rather than later.

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Money & Career

5 things you need to know about mortgages