Tuesday, February 16, 2010

That might work, ... if ...

The Feds have announced some changes. If everyone sees them for what they are -- and what the Feds say they are -- they should be good. They should slow you down if you were about to do something silly. But they shouldn't stop you or seriously restrict you in doing what you want to do in real estate.

The first and major change requires. you to "qualify" for your mortgage at the five-year fixed rate. So you qualify by "pretending" that you are getting a mortgage at say 4.7% (whatever the 5 year rate du jour is). Then you go ahead and grab that juicy 2.5% variable rate.
This is kind of like your government protecting you against yourself. Might make our FoxNews-watching neighbours scream "socialism" and go a little crazy. But might also make you thank them if your variable rate starts up in a year or two.

Next up, is a new limit on the maximum amount you can refinance to. It's still early and I need more details on this one, but here's what I THINK they are up to. You can still go 95% mortgage when you buy a house. But, when your mortgage comes up for renewal, you have to get to at least 10% equity/90% mortgage. Why?
They are trying to encourage building up a safety cushion of equity. Presumably they are also discouraging a few folks who have lots of equity but are tempted to borrow back the whole wad in order to "buy themselves something frilly". For example, say you think it's time to buy some stocks or a snazzy cottage, etc. -- Well, fine, just don't risk absolutely everything on some delusion that interest rates will nudge zero forever and real estate will go endlessly and uninterruptibly up. ("Uninterruptibly"???)

Third is the one that I hope won't turn into one of those things that shows up in the headlines with the explanation continued on page 6. Headline: MINIMUM 20% DOWN"... page 6: "if you are buying a place for speculation/investment/rental income". In other words for 95% of you, it doesn't change anything.

First take. If I screwed it up, you can tell me. Or I'll post clarifications, corrections and apologies later.

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