Are you on the lookout for a new home? Even amid a pandemic, the demand for new homes remains steadfast.

According to a recent report from Statistics Canada , housing prices often fall during times of uncertainty. But, during the COVID-19 pandemic, new home prices have increased 1.3% in the first six months. Why? Because now more than ever, there’s an increased demand for larger homes with:

  • more space for a home office,
  • more space for remote learning or home schooling, or
  • more space to accommodate other family members.

But regardless of the economic climate, anyone looking to purchase a new home needs to consider getting a mortgage. This is where it helps to have the benefit of professional advice and careful research.

“The excitement of buying a home is sometimes overwhelming,” says Kirk Bacon, chairman of the Mortgage Broker Regulators’ Council of Canada (MBRCC).

“We advise people to do their homework ahead of time,” Bacon said. “Meet with a mortgage broker prior to writing an offer. If you’re only meeting with someone after you’ve made an offer, then you’re under the gun. You have a short timeframe to make a decision.”

Here are four mortgage rules everyone must know before making an offer on a home:

1. Don’t buy more house than you can afford

You can qualify for a mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5% of the purchase price. That’s provided you purchase mortgage loan insurance from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. But a mortgage that pays for 95% of the purchase price isn’t for everyone.

Think carefully about your ability to manage the monthly mortgage payments, even as rates rise in the coming years. You’ll also have to think about the stability of:

  • your job,
  • your spouse’s or partner’s job, and
  • your relationship with your spouse or partner.

Your personal situation ought to dictate how much mortgage debt is right for you.

2. Find a good mortgage broker

Bacon recommends asking around. “Word-of-mouth referrals are always a good place to start,” he says.

But he also strongly recommends asking questions, such as:

  • Are you licensed as a mortgage broker?
  • Who do you represent?
  • How are you compensated?
  • What services do you provide?

3. The answer to fixed vs. variable mortgage depends on you

Variable-rate mortgages are usually a better deal over the long term. But this is a highly personal decision, and the answer may have as much to do with your own financial situation (not to mention peace of mind) as it does dollars and cents. If your mortgage keeps you up at night, it’s not right for you.

4. Read your mortgage contract carefully

As obvious as this sounds, not everyone actually does it.

Just because you’ve used a broker doesn’t mean you can turn on the autopilot. At the very least, ask your broker questions about:

  • fees and penalties,
  • payment options,
  • interest rates and
  • the renewal process.

Think about getting mortgage protection insurance

While you’re arranging your mortgage, think about safeguarding your investment with the right insurance. 

Mortgage protection insurance, which combines term life insurance and critical illness insurance, can help:

  • financially protect your family and
  • cover your mortgage payments if you become ill or die.

With mortgage protection, critical illness insurance gives you a one-time payment you can use for your mortgage or other expenses as you choose. And life insurance pays a tax-free amount to your chosen beneficiary (the person who receives the payment) when you die. The payment can cover more than just the mortgage and your beneficiaries can use the money for any reason.

  • Get a quote today. Want to apply for your life or critical illness insurance online? You can, with Sun Life Go insurance. Get a quote here.

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