12 Feb

Getting the most out of your RRSPs

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Posted by: John Panagakos

It’s that time of year again. The taxman is coming and you will have to file your taxes. For many, it’s the time to take a large sum of money and dump it into your RRSP contribution to reduce your taxes. But is it the best way to handle the investment? It may be too late for last year, but starting this spring, try taking a different approach. Instead of putting in one big chunk at the end of the year, have your RRSP contribution come out on a monthly basis. If you have it set up to come out automatically, you’re going to hate it for the first three or four months, but after a while you won’t realize it’s happening.

Besides being a forced savings plan for your retirement, RRSPs can be a big help for first-time homebuyers. First-time homebuyers can utilize up to $25,000 worth of RRSPs for a down payment on a home. They have 15 years to pay it back and can defer payments for the first two years. Utilizing your RRSPs toward a down payment makes perfect sense. That said, if you’re lucky enough to not need it, don’t use it.

Depending on the mortgage broker you speak to, they’ll tell you nearly half of first-time homebuyers use their RRSPs to help cover their down payment.

You also might not know that you could have been a homeowner previously and still be considered a first-time homebuyer. Under the federal government’s Home Buyers’ Plan, you are considered a first-time home buyer if, in the previous four-year period, you did not occupy a home that you or your current spouse or common-law partner owned. So if you’ve been renting for a few years but want to get back into the market, using your RRSPs is an option.

As always, it’s best to connect yourself with a great financial planner that understands what your goals are and is working in your best interest. As a mortgage broker I can also lend a hand if you have mortgage related RRSP questions.

3 Jan

Making 2018 Your Turnaround Year!!

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Posted by: John Panagakos

It’s become a bit of a cliché to talk about resolutions at the start of the New Year. You’re going to be inundated with pitches to exercise more, “eat right” or pick up a new hobby. These resolutions start out with the best of intentions but ultimately most of us can’t manage to keep them. Within a few days or weeks, we’re back to our old habits. Perhaps only a psychiatrist knows why we can’t keep our resolutions. While giving up the sweets might seem like an impossible task, getting into some good financial habits at the start of the year is easier than you think. And there is no better time to look at what you might be doing right and perhaps wrong when it comes to your finances and make a change to see a more prosperous 2018. These are by no means brand new ideas but rather tried and tested concepts worth considering.


  • Set and write down your financial goals for the year. Having these goals written down will help you stay on task. Review them as often as you need to.
  • Review your household budget. Sometimes we get caught off guard by just how much money we’re spending every month. Take a good look at those expenses, and if there are a few items you can cut, go for it. Everyone has something they spend their money on they think they can’t live without. But being fiscally responsible takes some discipline.
  • Pay down your credit cards. Credit can be a great thing. It helps get you out of a bind when you need it, or help with an important purchase you can pay for later. But having too much credit-card debt can hurt in the long run. Try to pay off as much of your credit-card debt as you can. Every little bit helps.
  • Plan for an annual review day. That means sitting down with your accountant, financial planner, even your mortgage broker to see where you are with your finances. Can you pay a little more for your mortgage? Is there a new government policy or an investment that you haven’t heard about from which you could benefit? Financial professionals are up to speed on all the latest options and can advise you accordingly.
  • Be realistic. We’re constantly squeezed between the things we want to buy and the bills we have to pay. You’re not likely going to go from zero to hero financially in a month, but taking a few easy steps, making good choices and chipping away at your debt will start to pay off. 


These are just some basic tips to follow. With so many experts and places to look for financial advice, there’s really no excuse not to use the turn of the calendar to get started.

20 Dec

What Else Did the Finance Department Change on October 17th?

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Posted by: John Panagakos

As the dust is settling on the major changes to the mortgage qualifying rate and it is back to work as usual, some Canadians are starting to realize that there were some other significant changes that affect us all.

Starting this year you must now declare which property is your principal residence. There will be a form with your tax return that you must fill out. The purpose of this of course is to make sure that the house flippers of the world pay their fair share of income tax on monies earned by buying and selling homes. This will also affect foreign owners, when they sell property in Canada, even though a family member may have lived in it, they will now pay capital gains. They are closing some rather large loopholes in the system where many people have taken unfair advantage.

Another point that was probably missed by most is that if you have a home with a legal suite, when you sell the home you will have to pay capital gains on the portion that is rental. Many of these suites collect rent that is never reported to CRA and people avoid taxes by just pocketing the money. For many years now if you collected rent but didn’t report it on your taxes then you were not allowed to use it as income to apply for a mortgage.

This may also open up another legal/accounting question for parents that co-sign on their children’s mortgages. In Alberta at least when you co-sign you are usually on the mortgage and on title. Will it mean that when that home is sold will there be legal and tax ramifications when the home is sold.

***This article was written by Len Lane, part of DLC Brokers for Life based in Edmonton, AB.***

If you are like most people, then you have lots of unanswered questions.  I’d be more than happy to answer your questions.  Give me a call and I’ll be able to shed light on these gray areas and remember, as your mortgage broker I am here to save you money and get you on the right path to financial freedom.

18 Oct


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Posted by: John Panagakos


October 2016 the Ministry of Finance passed rules which are still having effect one year later. Higher qualification and new bank capital requirements have split the industry into two segments.  Those who qualify for mortgage insurance and those who don’t.

Mortgages that qualify for mortgage insurance are basically new purchases for borrows who have less than 20% down and qualify at the Bank of Canada Benchmark rate.  The current benchmark rate is 4.89%.  Clients who don’t qualify for mortgage insurance are basically everyone else.  People with more than 20% down payment and people who have built up more than 20% equity in their homes, don’t qualify for mortgage insurance.  It will be clients such as these which will be impacted by the mortgage rule changes coming.

The biggest difference we are seeing is two levels of rate offerings. People who qualify for mortgage insurance by one of the three insurers in Canada (CMHC, Genworth and Canada Guaranty) are being offered the best rates on the market. People who don’t qualify, cost the banks more to offer mortgages due to the new capital requirements and are offered a higher rate to off-set that cost.

But even more alarming, rumblings about another round of mortgage rule changes coming.   People who have been disciplined in saving or building equity will need to qualify at 2.00% higher than what they receive from their lender.

In the first round of changes in 2016 we saw affordability cut by about 20% for insured mortgages.  This new round of changes will have much the same impact on the rest of mortgage borrowers.

The mortgage default rate in Canada is less than 1/3 of a percent. We Canadians simply make our mortgage payments. So where’s the risk?

These new qualification rules are intended to protect us from higher rates when our current terms come to an end.

***This ariticle was written by Kristin Woolard part of DLC National bassed in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

The impact of mortgage rule changes coming  January 1, 2018 will be felt by everyone.   My word of advice to anyone contemplating a refinance to meet current goals or planning on purchasing?  Contact me today to find out what your best options are before your window of opportunity is closed.