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19 September 2008

The Hamilton Spectator's Reader's Choice Awards

This year Lisette Amalfi Harris and OAC Mortgages Inc have been nominated for The Hamilton Spectator's Readers' Choice Awards.

Voting begins Thursday, September 18th; ending Thursday, September 25th at

This is Lisette's first nomination in the Spec Reader's Choice. She was nominated for...

Favorite Mortgage Business

Favorite Mortgage Broker

It would be an honour if you could take a minute, and give Lisette your vote! If Lisette is not your favorite this year, hopefully she will be in the future!

Thank you!

Costs Associated with Closing a Home

Your mortgage isn't your only expense when buying a home.

In fact, there are several closing costs that you must pay before you can take possession of your house (to "take possession" means the home is now legally yours).

Appraisal fee: This is the cost for a professional to come to your property and assess its value. Your mortgage lender or mortgage default insurer may require an appraisal to determine whether the selling price is reasonable for that market.

GST: You must pay the Goods and Service Tax (or Harmonized Sales Tax) on a newly constructed or substantially renovated home. Resale homes do not require a GST payment. Some of this can be recovered with the GST/HST rebate for new or substantially renovated homes.

Home inspection fee: This covers the cost of a professional inspection of your home. Hiring an inspector is voluntary but recommended for resale homes, and usually costs $400-$600.

Property Insurance: Since your lender has a large stake in your home, they will often require you to purchase insurance against fire and weather-related damage. It is also a good idea for you to purchase 'contents' insurance to protect your valuables.

Land Transfer Tax: This is a tax charged to buyers in most provinces, usually based on the purchase price.

Legal costs: This includes fees charged by your lawyer or notary for services such as conducting a title search, drafting a title deed and preparing the mortgage, and registration fees. This will cost over $500.

Mortgage default insurance: High-ratio mortgages (those with less than 20% down payment) generally require mortgage default insurance. The cost is usually added to the mortgage, and ranges from 1.00% to 3.25% depending on the amount of your down payment.

Mortgage Life insurance: Special insurance coverage to cover the cost of your mortgage in the event of death or severe illness is available from most lenders.

Moving expenses: Costs will vary, depending on whether you do it yourself, rent a truck, or hire professional movers.

Prepaid taxes, utility bills and other charges: Any previous owner may have prepaid some bills before the closing date, which you will have to reimburse them for. All taxes, utility bills, and other charges incurred after the closing date become your responsibility.

Utilities: Most utility companies charge for hooking up your services and replacing any previous owner's name with your name on the bill.

Land Transfer Tax Refund (First Time Homebuyers)

Land Transfer Tax applies to all transfers of land in Ontario.

First-time homebuyers may be eligible for a refund of all or part of the tax.
  • For agreements of purchase and sale entered into before December 14, 2007, the refund only applies on the purchase of a newly constructed home.
  • For agreements of purchase and sale entered into after December 13, 2007, the refund applies to all homes, whether newly constructed or resale.
How much is the Refund?

The maximum amount of the refund is $2,000. If the refund is claimed at time of registration, it may offset the land transfer tax ordinarily payable. If not claimed at registration, the refund may be claimed directly from the Ministry of Revenue. No interest is paid on this refund.

Who Qualifies?

To claim a refund, you:

1. must be at least 18 years of age;
2.must occupy the home as your principal residence within 9 months of after the date of transfer; and
3. cannot have owned a home, or an interest in a home, anywhere in the world.

In addition:

1. your spouse cannot have owned a home, or an interest in a home, anywhere in the world while being your spouse; and
2. in the case of a newly constructed home, you must be entitled to a Tarion New Home Warranty.

How Do I Apply?

Qualifying taxpayers may claim an immediate refund at time of registration in one of two ways:

1. If registering electronically, by completing the required statements under the "explanation" tab of the electronic affidavit.
2. If registering on paper, by filing an Ontario Land Transfer Tax Refund Affidavit For First-Time Purchasers of Eligible Homes at the Land Registry Office.

What is the application deadline?

Applications for a refund must be made within 18 months after the date of the transfer.

If application was not made at registration and the tax was paid, qualified purchasers may apply for a refund by completing an Ontario Land Transfer Tax Refund Affidavit For First-Time Purchasers of Eligible Homes and send it to the ministry.

For full details on the refund program, please see Ontario Tax Bulletin LTT 1-2008 Land Transfer Tax Refunds for First-Time Homebuyers.

Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program

Down-payment assistance of up to $7,262 for low to moderate-income individuals and families who want to purchase a home.

Applicants must be...

1. First-time homebuyers over the age of 18 with a combined household income of no more than $55,900.
2. The home to buy must be located in the city of Hamilton and priced at or below $185,500.

To apply call:

Marcel Leclerc
Halton Heritage Realty Inc.
905-522-2222 ext. 25

Robert Kronas
R. Kronas Real Estate Brokerage

How to Fix Errors on Your Credit Report

Mortgage lenders give their best rates to customers with the highest credit scores. But what if your credit score is low because of errors on your credit report? The best way to prevent this is to check your report regularly—especially when you’re thinking about buying—and correct any errors.

Here’s how:

1. Order your credit report.
Since there are two main credit agencies in Canada—Equifax and TransUnion—it’s wise to check with both. You can get a free credit report by mail or in person. Or you can download one immediately for a fee. Visit or for details.

2. Examine the report.
Circle any items you believe are incorrect.

3. Contact the credit agency.
There’s often a form on its website which you can use to provide details. Return the form by registered mail along with all necessary documents. It’s also a good idea to contact the creditor whose item is in dispute.

4. Request a revised credit report.
The credit agency will investigate, contact your creditors to verify information, and revise your report as necessary.

Not only can checking your credit report potentially increase your credit score, it can also detect and prevent any attempts to steal your identity. As your mortgage advisor, remember that I’m always here to help with any questions you might have about your credit or your mortgage.

Lisette Amalfi Harris, AMP
Senior Mortgage Consultant/Owner
Mortgage Alliance o/a OAC Mortgages Inc
(905) 529-1199
TF: (877) 529-1199

Your Credit History

Each time you pay a bill (for your credit card or for a monthly service such as your telephone or electricity), you are establishing a credit rating for yourself. A credit rating is a number or score that banks, mortgage companies, and other lending businesses use to assess your level of financial responsibility.

Paying your bills on time every month, contributes to having a good credit rating. If you miss payments, or are often late making your payments, your credit rating is probably not as good, and money lending institutions will consider this when you apply for a loan. Numerous factors contribute to your overall credit score, such as outstanding debt, payment history, severity and frequency of derogatory credit information, and the amount of credit you use compared to what you have available.

Also important is the length of your credit history, which for many immigrants, only begins after entering Canada.

To begin to establish a credit history:

Open an individual savings or chequing account in your name. From this account, your deposits, withdrawals, and transfers will demonstrate that you can handle money efficiently and responsibly.

Applying for a smaller loan demonstrates responsibility, and will positively affect your credit rating over a longer term, once you demonstrate that you can make timely and consistent payments.

Other forms of credit include department store and gasoline credit cards. These are generally easier to obtain than major credit cards and, if used responsibly, can also serve to enhance your credit rating.

In short, there is no quick way to establish credit. It is much better to go slowly and develop a strong credit record than to apply for too many credit cards or a loan that is larger than you can handle. Mortgages are long-term commitments, so appreciate that lenders will need proof of longevity and consistency.

Your Credit Rating...

It is a good idea, and your right as a consumer, to know exactly what your credit rating score is, even if you always pay your bills on time.

You can get a copy of your credit report, and if you find any mistakes in the report, can arrange to have these corrected. A company or person other than yourself can also find out your credit rating score, but only with a good reason (for example, you want them to lend you money) and if they ask your permission first.

In Canada, Equifax Canada and TransUnion are the two major credit rating companies and will give you a copy of your credit history and overall credit rating score, usually for a fee.

Mortgage Alliance Oac Mortgages

As a registered franchise of the Mortgage Alliance Network, we have a number of mortgage professionals who can bring you the choice, convenience, and counsel you need to get the RightMortgage®. Working with over 40 lenders (some offered exclusively through brokers) we'll provide unbiased guidance in your mortgage decision.

We are legislated by the Ministry of Finance FSCO and our brokerage license is 10928.

We are dedicated to educating our clients about their mortgage! We want you to be well informed and comfortable with the mortgage you have and the options available to you. This blog is intended to offer information, updates, current mortgage products and current rates.

Please provide your feedback and let us know if there is anything else we can provide to help you in your mortgage process.