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The Big Story: Protecting clients from themselves

The new mortgage rules have clients juggling their monthly debt payments to qualify, but there's real danger in getting too creative, say brokers.

Video transcript below:

Jemima Codrington, Mortgage Broker News
Jemima Codrington:  The new mortgage rules are meant to protect consumers, but now they need brokers to have them navigate this new landscape.  Hi, I’m Jemima Codrington and welcome to the Big Story on Mortgage Broker News.
 
Credit may be tight but opportunities still abound in the market.  Brokers are in a unique position to be able to advise home buyers on how to make the most of this situation.
 
Michael Marini:  Dominion Lending Centres
Michael Marini:  Brokers can educate clients in terms of the current market conditions.  And in Toronto we’ve got escalating rental prices and lowering resale prices.  There is a great opportunity for investors, there is a great opportunity for first time home buyers to buy, because they can buy at lower prices and actually afford a property cheaper than they can rent right now.  We have got multiple offers on rental properties and an increasing number of supplier properties in the resale market.  So there is great opportunity today for purchasers.
 
Jemima Codrington:  Strategies such a debt restructuring help home buyers maximise the amount of money that they can borrow.  However, the more money one borrows the greater the risk of overextending oneself.  
 
Richard Samuels, Obsidian Mortgage Corp.
Richard Samuels:  I believe there has to be a real true discussion amongst the brokers and the clients.  Brokers not only have to help the client in just buying a home, but the job should be really based around making sure that they can afford the liabilities around a home and find that mortgage product that fits that client.  The kind of situation where a guy has 20% on a $500,000 home, but if that 20% is his only 20% and his income is questionable at best, a $500,000 may not be the right answer for this person.  He needs a $200,000 condo and as agents and brokers fiduciary responsibility being what it is, we have to have these discussions with our clients, make sure that we are on top of it.
 
Michael Marini:  The dangers in restructuring your client’s debt are that you may open up room for them to accumulate more debt or maybe they didn’t eliminate the debt, maybe they had a parent off the debt and they still owe the money back.  So if you open up someone’s debt and the level of debt that they can obtain, we could put ourselves in a position of what happened in the US crisis, where people are trying to re-absorb debt later into their mortgages and prices fall and they can no longer afford the property, they can no longer afford the debts, they are forced to sell in a market where they can’t sell their property because they owe more than what they have in assets.
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    It’s becoming a broken record. Consumer debt levels rise and there are calls for the government to tighten mortgage lending. The latest rumour involves the lowering of the maximum amortization from 30 to 25 years. Many brokers disagree with the idea, suggesting 30-year amortizations are largely used to free up cash each month, money often better spent paying down high-interest debt. In addition to amortization rumours, some lenders have recently cut or altered their products for business for self and new immigrants. Some brokers think this may be short-sighted, while others say the industry will adapt, like it has always done. On today’s Big Story, we spoke to James Robinson of The Mortgage Centre-Mortgage Watch Inc., John Panagakos of Dominion Lending Centres-Home Financial Inc. and David Smith of Oriana Financial. Find out on today’s The Big Story, on MortgageBrokerNews.ca TV, your home for industry news, opinion and analysis.

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