Credit Cards Help You Get a Mortgage

Do credit cards help you get a mortgage ? Most financial folks say having credit cards (which you pay off) are good to help build your credit score and thus help you get a mortgage. This is true, but far too often this idea is used as a sales pitch for credit cards.

Does  the Credit Limit on every credit card you have counts against you for your mortgage?

The person we dealt with at our bank did a credit check on us, when we applied for our mortgage and gave us a report that looked like this.

do credit cards help you get a mortgage

Shackled to Credit

  • Credit Card 1 Balance $0  Credit Limit $1000
  • Store Credit Card 1 Balance $0  Credit Limit $2000
  • Credit Card 2 Balance $0  Credit Limit $2500
  • Store Credit Account 1  Balance $500  Credit Limit $5000  (we were buying a couch on a zero % interest deal)

We were then informed we had been OK’d for a mortgage balance of $X , taking into consideration my income, and our down payment. We were then informed that the real balance they would allow us to borrow would be lower.

$X - ( $1000 + $2000 + $2500 + $5000 )

The explanation given was the calculation done needed to include the potential debt load I might add with those extra debt vehicles. This made sense to me, and we got our Mortgage.

There are reports that this potential debt load is no longer being considered by some vendors? How could any sane lender not take this into consideration?

Question for Readers

Did your lender ask about credit cards, also did the credit cards count against your mortgage loan level ? I have had differing answers from different folks.


Employee Discount Scam

Employee Discount, What Does it Mean?

I note one of the major banks is now offering Employee Rate Mortgages, attempting to entice you to move your mortgage over to their bank, with the promise of the same kind of discounts or lower rates that you would only receive if you were an employee of said bank. This continues on from the automobile manufacturers (specifically Ford) that offers Employee Rate discounts on their cars, but what kind of discount are you really getting?

RBC even touts these discounts when trying to entice new employees:

Whether you are looking to arrange a loan or buy a home, employee banking benefits can help you reach your financial goals. You’ll have access to valuable discounts on a wide range of banking, investment and insurance services, including reduced mortgage rates and reduced home and auto insurance rates.

These must be amazing discounts, and they are willing to give any person who walked in off the street the exact same “employee enticing” savings that they offer to their new hires ? That is amazing, but if they are giving you the same “insiders” rate that they give their own employees, weren’t those same folks taxed on that “benefit”?

Employee Discount

The Employee Discount Scam

No, this has little to do with the employees of RBC, and more to do with car financing marketing schemes from the Automobile industry. The Mortgage business is becoming quite cut-throat, so this is RBC attempting to differentiate themselves from their competitors by cloaking a better deal with the promise of it being an “insider’s deal” (thus assuredly the best deal you could possibly get).

What is next? I can see the marketing scheme already,

If you can find a better mortgage deal, you bring it to us and we will match that deal!

No, wait, that is precisely how the Mortgage business currently works.

Given our finance minister’s laissez faire attitude towards the banking industry lately, we may see more interesting “marketing schemes” introduced to entice us to move our hard earned cash to another banking institution.

Changing banks is fine, but make sure you get a good deal when you do it.


Who Cares About Debt I Only Pay 2% on my Mortgage

That was the gist of a comment left on my post Let’s Define Debt Free (which you might have seen yesterday on my Twitter Feed).

Interesting point of view that I don’t agree with for a lot of reasons, but mostly because rates are not going to stay this low for that much longer, but even with that aside, I have never been a big fan of borrowing money to make money.

I lived through the dog days of the 90’s in the High Tech World, where our CEO attempted to rationalize how for every dollar that Nortel borrowed they made $3 back, it never really made a lot of sense to me at the time, and at the end of it, maybe I was correct in my assumption that this didn’t make any sense. I realize that most businesses do have to borrow to get on their feet, but to continuously borrow without paying off debt has always seemed rather fool-hardy to me.

Yes, I could have made a crass comment about how one "poke" from debt could deflate this balloon

Yes, I could have made a crass comment about how one “poke” from debt could deflate this balloon

Getting back to the statement of why should I pay off debt when I can make more money investing, depending on what you are investing in, how long do you think the gravy train will last? If you have a Mortgage at 4% that you are simply paying down as needed, but you are investing that extra money in the Market currently, you most likely are ahead of the game (i.e. making more than 4% back on investments), but are you sure that is going to last, and are you taking your profits?

This is my other concern, I had many colleagues and friends who were “on paper” millionaires, but never took their profits (and jumped to the wrong conclusions). Many folks did one of the following:

  • Never took out their profits, and they kept thinking that the bubble would keep growing (it didn’t).
  • Borrowed against perceived profits, using their stock as collateral for loans to either buy oversized houses or extravagant vacations, those loans were called when those stocks went bust.
  • Fiddled while Rome burned (i.e. didn’t get out because they kept thinking things would get better) (yes I was very guilty of that too).
  • Sold, took their profits, but then invested in even riskier stocks (remember Pets Inc., or Groceries to the Door?). Some of those risky stocks burned through cash and then just shuttered the windows.

These are some of the reasons I am paranoid about Debt (yes I said paranoid) and feel it is a much better “investment” to pay it down, than invest in anything else.


The Principal is always Your Pal

Last week I wrote a very flawed post about What would Happen if Interest Rates doubled. Luckily my sharp-eyed commenters called me on it.

First point, like in school the PrinciPAL in your Mortgage is your Pal, not principle, as I originally wrote it. Someone commented how would anyone take me seriously if I was unable to discern the difference, I pointed out as the “Clown Prince of Personal Finance” respect isn’t really that high on my list.

The other major blunder I made was in my spreadsheet. Let’s have a look at my first assertion from my mortgage table. What’s wrong here:

Payment Number Principal Interest Payment Principal Payment
1 $250,000.00 -$833.33 -$486.26
2 $249,513.74 -$831.71 -$485.31
3 $249,028.43 -$830.09 -$484.37

Take a look at the PrinciPAL payment column, somehow my weird calculations have the amount you pay down on the principal each payment, decreasing, which is just SO wrong (even wronger than saying Principle of your Mortgage (in my subtle opinion)). What was wrong with me? I don’t usually screw up that many things in one article (that often).

The mistake I made was relying on the Excel PPMT() function to figure this out, instead of doing a simple calculated version on the basis of the Interest payment from IPMT()

Principal Payment = Monthly Payment – Interest Portion
Principal Payment  = $ 1319.59 –  $ 831.71 = $487.88  (for Month 2) (it got Month 1 right)

So really what this should have looked like was:

Payment Number Principal Interest Payment Principal Payment
1 $250,000.00 -$833.33 -$486.26
2 $249,513.74 -$831.71 -$487.88
3 $249,025.86 -$830.09 -$489.51

Thus the table for the end of the 5 year term would look like:

56 $220,700.69 -$735.67 -$583.92
57 $220,116.76 -$733.72 -$585.87
58 $219,530.89 -$731.77 -$587.82
59 $218,943.07 -$729.81 -$589.78
60 $218,353.29 -$727.84 -$591.75

More importantly the overpayment option now looks much better too:

Payment Number Principal Interest Payment Principal
37 $231,433.88 -$771.45 -$548.15 -$610.00
38 $230,275.73 -$767.59 -$552.01 -$610.00
39 $229,113.73 -$763.71 -$555.88 -$610.00
40 $227,947.85 -$759.83 -$559.77 -$610.00
41 $226,778.08 -$755.93 -$563.67 -$610.00
42 $225,604.42 -$752.01 -$567.58 -$610.00
43 $224,426.84 -$748.09 -$571.50 -$610.00
44 $223,245.34 -$744.15 -$575.44 -$610.00
45 $222,059.90 -$740.20 -$579.39 -$610.00
46 $220,870.50 -$736.24 -$583.36 -$610.00
47 $219,677.15 -$732.26 -$587.33 -$610.00
48 $218,479.81 -$728.27 -$591.33 -$610.00
49 $217,278.49 -$724.26 -$595.33 -$610.00
50 $216,073.16 -$720.24 -$599.35 -$610.00
51 $214,863.81 -$716.21 -$603.38 -$610.00
52 $213,650.43 -$712.17 -$607.42 -$610.00
53 $212,433.00 -$708.11 -$611.48 -$610.00
54 $211,211.52 -$704.04 -$615.55 -$610.00
55 $209,985.97 -$699.95 -$619.64 -$610.00
56 $208,756.33 -$695.85 -$623.74 -$610.00
57 $207,522.59 -$691.74 -$627.85 -$610.00
58 $206,284.74 -$687.62 -$631.98 -$610.00
59 $205,042.77 -$683.48 -$636.12 -$610.00
60 $203,796.65 -$679.32 -$640.27 -$610.00

Remember, it’s OK to point out my mistakes, but don’t be a comment troll about it either. Thanks to Michael James for pointing out the folly of my arithmetic.


What If: Your Mortgage Rate Doubled ?

So while I was ruminating about what would happen if Mortgage Rates increased violently, I came up with a very interesting exercise to try out for those with mortgages that allow them to make over payments when they wish.

If I assume that current mortgage rates can be achieved at around 4% annually, using the PMT command in most spreadsheets, you can do a very quick comparison to come up with the following simple table.

Interest rates 4.00% 8.00%
Years of Mortgage 25 25
Amount of Mortgage $250,000.00 $250,000.00
Monthly Payment $1,319.59 $1,929.54

Given Canadian mortgage rules are a bit different, and interest rate calculations are not quite right, let’s just use these numbers as an interesting basis for our model.

The question is, can you afford if your mortgage rate suddenly doubled when you had to renew your mortgage? Maybe it’s time to find out if you can. From the above simple table, the difference is about $610 a month, so why not simply increase your Mortgage payment to that amount for a period of time? Maybe experiment and try it for 6 months to see whether you can live with this extra pay out, and if you can, then continue to pay this for the rest of your term, thus lowering your principal?

What might this cause? So at the end of your first five year Term your mortgage schedule for the last few payments might look like:

Payment No
Principal Interest Payment Principal Payment Overpayment
56 $224,613.20 -$748.71 -$436.88
57 $224,176.32 -$747.25 -$436.03
58 $223,740.29 -$745.80 -$435.18
59 $223,305.11 -$744.35 -$434.34
60 $222,870.77 -$742.90 -$433.49

So after five years you will have paid off about $27,000 from your mortgage, a good start, but then if interest rates have somehow jumped to 8% your monthly payment now are $600 more (ouch). (by the way I used the iPMT and pPMT spreadsheet functions for those calculations).

What would happen if at the start of year 3 of your term you started making a $610 overpayments on your loan, what might the end of your 5  year term look like?

Payment No. Principal Interest Payment Principal Payment Overpayment
37 $233,077.61 -$776.93 -$453.34 -$610.00
38 $232,014.26 -$773.38 -$451.28 -$610.00
39 $230,952.99 -$769.84 -$449.21 -$610.00
40 $229,893.77 -$766.31 -$447.15 -$610.00
41 $228,836.62 -$762.79 -$445.10 -$610.00
42 $227,781.53 -$759.27 -$443.04 -$610.00
43 $226,728.48 -$755.76 -$440.99 -$610.00
44 $225,677.49 -$752.26 -$438.95 -$610.00
45 $224,628.54 -$748.76 -$436.91 -$610.00
46 $223,581.63 -$745.27 -$434.87 -$610.00
47 $222,536.75 -$741.79 -$432.84 -$610.00
48 $221,493.91 -$738.31 -$430.81 -$610.00
49 $220,453.10 -$734.84 -$428.79 -$610.00
50 $219,414.31 -$731.38 -$426.77 -$610.00
51 $218,377.54 -$727.93 -$424.75 -$610.00
52 $217,342.79 -$724.48 -$422.74 -$610.00
53 $216,310.05 -$721.03 -$420.73 -$610.00
54 $215,279.32 -$717.60 -$418.73 -$610.00
55 $214,250.59 -$714.17 -$416.72 -$610.00
56 $213,223.87 -$710.75 -$414.73 -$610.00
57 $212,199.14 -$707.33 -$412.73 -$610.00
58 $211,176.41 -$703.92 -$410.75 -$610.00
59 $210,155.66 -$700.52 -$408.76 -$610.00
60 $209,136.90 -$697.12 -$406.78 -$610.00

Interesting, isn’t it? Now you are $13,000 farther into your principal, and when the bank comes back to figure out your new 5 year term, you end up with the following:

Interest rates 8.00%
Years of Mortgage 20
Amount of Mortgage $209,136.90
Monthly Payment $1,749.30

Your monthly payment is actually lower than it would have been, and in fact if you kept up your $1930 monthly payments, you’d still be paying off the principal of your loan by about $185 a month (more than you would normally), not a bad thing either.

Anybody thinking of trying this idea out?


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