At Mortgage Architects, we recognize that many homeowners may be looking for guidance around mortgage financing.
At Mortgage Architects, we recognize that many homeowners may be looking for guidance around mortgage financing. We are committed to updating you - our customers - on the current climate and how the recent COVID-19 developments may impact your mortgage, now or in the future.
Homeowner Need to Know
This can be a difficult time for a homeowner as many families are self-isolating or are in quarantine due to the virus. This can result in loss of monthly income and financial instability, which can cause stress and concern about your home and mortgage.
We have compiled the following information from our partners to keep you informed as to some of the recent developments surrounding mortgages, as well as what lenders are doing to help mitigate financial strain during this difficult time.
Here are a few important considerations for homeowners and potential homeowners to keep in mind during this time:
- Mortgage application turnaround time may be an upwards of 15 days in some cases given the current climate and growing developments.
- If you require an appraisal, there can be issues that could delay or prevent access of the appraiser into the home. Lenders are being proactive and exploring policy options to help circumvent this as best they can.
- Don’t forget this situation is new to our mortgage brokers and lenders as well as the rest of us, so they are being cautious yet innovating to overcome any issues.
- Rush transactions will be met with challenges.
The Stress Test
In lieu of this growing situation, OSFI has announced that it is suspending all consultations, including those regarding changes to the proposed B-20 benchmark rate. In addition, the Minister of Finance postponed the announced April 6, 2020 qualification change for insured mortgages. In short, until further notice, the Bank of Canada posted 5-year rate (which has dropped from 5.19% to 5.04%) will continue to be used for mortgage qualification.
Renter Need to Know
If you are renting in Canada currently, you may be facing some uncertainties about your future amid the COVID-19 pandemic - especially with the start of a new month on the horizon.
Provincial governments are currently rolling out plans to help renters during this time:
British Columbia: The B.C. government has imposed a moratorium on residential evictions. In addition, they will be providing renters with up to $500 per month for the next four months to help you manage your rent payments. Premier John Horgan also announced a provincial freeze on rental increases during this time. Click here to learn more about how B.C. is supporting renters.
Alberta: Alberta currently is considering a short term stay on eviction enforcement but no plan has been made as of yet.
Manitoba: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has postponed all hearings for non-urgent matters to avoid evictions resulting from non-payment of rent. In addition, any rent increases scheduled to take effect on April 1 or later are being suspended.
Ontario: Ontario has suspended eviction orders resulting from non-payment of rent until further notice. Further plans are in development.
Quebec: Has suspended most eviction hearings amid COVID-19.
Nova Scotia: Has banned evictions resulting from non-payment of rent.
Prince Edward Island: Has banned evictions resulting from non-payment of rent.
Northwest Territories: Has banned evictions resulting from non-payment of rent.
If you are currently struggling to make your rent payments due to job or income loss caused by COVID-19, there may be additional options available to you ( scroll down to Section 4: Additional Financial Measures for more information ).
What Can You Do?
If you find yourself facing financial difficulties as a result of job loss or income reduction during this time, it can be overwhelming and may leave you feeling stressed and unsure of what the next steps are.
To make it easy, we have put together simple steps you can do to help resolve your financial difficulties and ensure you can focus on more important things such as your family and your health.
- Cut Down on Costs
For anyone that is currently out of work due to COVID-19 or has found themselves at reduced hours, it is a good idea to look at your finances for ways to cut down on non-essential costs. Some ideas for reducing your monthly expenses include taking a look at streaming services, your phone data plan and gym memberships which can add up.
- Talk to Your Mortgage Professional
Your Mortgage Architects mortgage brokers are working hard to stay on top of all information surrounding the development of COVID-19 as well as the responses from Bank of Canada and the Ministry of Finance to ensure the most up-to-date and accurate information to assist you. They can help explain the options available to you and provide further understanding as to how this situation may affect your interest rates and mortgage payments.
- Contact Your Credit Card Companies and Lenders
Many families and individuals cannot afford to lose their income, or even see it decrease. If you are in debt or living paycheck to paycheck, you may already find it difficult to make bill payments. Unfortunately, missing these payments can have long-term negative effects. Before it gets to this point, it is a good idea to contact your lenders, banks or credit card companies to see if there are options.
- Find alternatives
Whether you are temporarily laid off, let go of your company or do not have enough sick days to cover your time at home.
- You can try these alternatives if you are out of work due to COVID-19 and in need of financial assistance.
- Employment Insurance (EI) might be an option. Services Canada has reduced the wait period and is currently offering EI assistance to individuals affected by the virus. Click here to learn more.
- Have skills you can utilize online? While you’re off work or in quarantine, consider freelancing. Websites such as UpWork and Freelancer.com have jobs from across the globe from accounting to website development.
- Stay Informed
Information is power and the more information you have at your disposal as this situation develops, the better prepared you will be to manage your household and finances. We will be providing updated information right here on our website as this situation develops.
We understand that along with financial hardships, many individuals are also experiencing a drastic toll on their mental health with regard to COVID-19. For any individuals that are currently managing mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc), please be sure to check with your mental health professional during this time if you are experiencing an increase in your symptoms.
In addition to your regular care, the Canadian Mental Health Association is working hard to continuously update their website with resources related to pressures, anxiety and other stressors in the midst of this pandemic. For more information, please visit their website here. They also have a 24/7, toll-free crisis line at (833) 456-4566.
Some other programs that may assist you and help reduce the mental and emotional burden of this situation can be found below.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP): This dedicated program is providing the following:
- 24/7 confidential access to professional support to help employees manage stress, anxiety, grief, financial concerns, and much more.
- Employees and managers can connect to get support by phone, video, or chat anytime, anywhere.
- Vast library of online resources for coping with trauma, building resiliency, self-care, managing change, and more.
- Manager consultations to support leaders in dealing with sensitive workplace situations.
First Access: This program provides global support for unique needs and for organizations who are not EAP clients. Some of the features they offer are:
- Counselling and traumatic event support to address unique needs worldwide
- Allows organizations - even those without a formal EAP in place - to access support services, as needed, to ensure timely and effective issue resolution
Stay Safe - and Wash Your Hands!
Remember during this time to practice proper hand-washing procedures and minimize your contact with other people to ensure that you are not unknowingly contracting or passing along COVID-19. We can overcome this, together!