Yard Appeal Ideas for The Biggest ROI.

General Leslie Morris 22 Apr

Summer is the time to get outside and enjoy your yard. To help you make the most of your space, I have broken down some of the top yard appeal ideas with the biggest ROI giving you the most bang for your buck and increasing your home’s equity and curb appeal at the same time!

  • Embrace Sustainable Landscaping: Incorporating native plants, drought-resistant foliage, and xeriscaping techniques not only reduces water consumption but also creates an eco-friendly landscape. Consider installing a rain garden or a drip irrigation system to conserve water and enhance the natural beauty of your yard.
  • Install Outdoor Structures: Adding functional outdoor structures like pergolas, arbors, or gazebos can provide shade, define spaces, and add architectural interest to your yard. These structures can serve as focal points and create inviting outdoor living areas for entertaining or relaxation.
  • Upgrade Your Lawn: A lush, well-maintained lawn instantly elevates the appearance of your yard. Invest in professional lawn care services, aerate and overseed to fill in bare patches, and regularly fertilize and water your lawn to keep it healthy and green. Consider alternatives like artificial turf for low-maintenance options.
  • Incorporate Water Features: Incorporating a water feature such as a fountain, pond, or waterfall adds visual interest, tranquility, and a sense of luxury to your yard. The soothing sound of running water can create a serene ambiance and attract wildlife, enhancing the overall appeal of your outdoor space.
  • Enhance Privacy: Increase the comfort and enjoyment of your yard by enhancing privacy with strategic landscaping, fencing, or screening options. Planting tall hedges, installing lattice panels, or adding trellises with climbing plants can create secluded areas and block unsightly views while adding beauty and greenery to your yard.

By implementing these additional ideas alongside the ones you’ve already outlined, you can transform your yard into a welcoming oasis that not only enhances your enjoyment but also offers a significant return on investment.

Tips to Improve Your Credit Score.

financial Leslie Morris 25 Mar

One of the important factors in home ownership is understanding things like your credit score.  Some people don’t pay much attention to this metric until they begin the mortgage discussion! However, you will find that your credit score is one of the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage at the best rate – and with the most purchasing power.

Credit scores range from 300 to 900, the higher your credit score the better. Ideally, you should be aiming for a credit score of 680 for at least one borrower (or guarantor), especially if you are putting under 20% down. If you are able to make a larger down payment of 20% or more, then a score of 680 is not required.

This score is based on spending habits and behaviours including:

  • Previous payment history and track record of paying your credit accounts on time is the number one thing that your credit score considers.
  • Your current level of debt and whether you’re maxed or not is the second most important factor.
  • How long you have had your credit in good standing is the third most important factor.
  • Attaining new credits is the fourth factor and can be a red flag if you’re opening several credit cards, accounts, or loans in a short period.
  • Your credit mix is the final aspect of your credit score to determine whether you have a healthy mix of credit cards, loans, lines of credit, etc.

If you want to improve your credit score, you can! It is a gradual process, but it is well worth it. Here are some tips to help you get started!

  1. Pay Your Bills: This seems pretty straightforward, but it is not that simple. You not only have to pay the bills, but you have to do so in full AND on time whenever possible.  Paying bills on time is one of the key behaviors lenders and creditors look for when deciding to grant you a loan or mortgage. If you are unable to afford the full amount, a good tip is to at least pay the minimum required as shown on your monthly statement to prevent any flags on your account.
  2. Pay Your Debts: Whether you have credit card debt, a car loan, a line of credit, or a mortgage, the goal should be to pay your debt off as quickly as possible. To make the most impact, start by paying the lowest debt items first and then work towards the larger amounts. By removing the low-debt items, you also remove the interest payments on those loans which frees up money that can be put towards paying off larger items.
  3. Stay Within Your Limit: This is key when it comes to managing debt and maintaining a good credit score. Using all or most of your available credit is not advised. Your goal should be to use 30% or less of your available credit. For instance, if you have a limit of $1000 on your credit card, you should never go over $700. NOTE: If you find you need more credit, it is better to increase the limit versus utilizing more than 70% of what is available each month.

  4. Credit and Loan Application Management: Reduce the number of credit card or loan applications you submit. When you submit too many credit card applications, your credit score will go down, and multiple applications in a short period can do more damage. Your best to apply for one or two cards and wait to see if you are accepted before attempting further applications.

If you have questions about your credit score, don’t hesitate to reach out to a DLC Mortgage Expert today! Whether you simply want to check your score or find out how you can improve it, our door is always open.

Amortization Options

financial Leslie Morris 29 Feb

Your mortgage amortization period is the number of years it will take you to pay off your mortgage. Depending on your choice of amortization period, it will affect how quickly you become mortgage-free as well as how much interest you pay over the lifetime of your mortgage (a longer lifetime equals more interest, whereas a shorter lifetime equals less interest but also bigger payments).

Amortization Benchmarks
Let’s start by looking at the mortgage industry benchmark amortization period. This is typically a 25-year period and is the standard that is used by the majority of lenders when it comes to discussing mortgage products. It is also typically the basis for standard mortgage calculators. While this is the standard, it is not the only option when it comes to your mortgage amortization. Mortgage amortizations can be as short as 5 years and as long as 35 years!

Benefits of a Shorter Amortization
Opting for a shorter amortization period will result in paying less interest overall during the life of your mortgage. Choosing this amortization schedule means you will also become mortgage-free faster and have access to your home equity sooner! However, if you choose to pay off your mortgage over a shorter time frame, you will have higher payments per month. If your income is irregular, you are at the maximum end of your monthly budget or this is your first home, you may not benefit from a shorter amortization and having more cash flow tied up in your monthly mortgage payments.

Benefits of a Longer Amortization
When it comes to choosing a longer amortization period, there are still advantages. The first is that you have smaller monthly mortgage payments, which can make home ownership less daunting for first-time buyers as well as free up additional monthly cash flow for other bills or endeavors. A longer amortization also has its advantages when it comes to buying a home as choosing a longer amortization period can often get you into your dream home sooner, due to utilizing standard mortgage payments versus accelerated. In some cases, with your payments happening over a larger period, you may also qualify for a slightly higher value mortgage than a shorter amortization depending on your situation.

Let’s Chat!
We would be happy to help with the decision for the amortization that best suits your unique requirements and ensures you have adequate cash flow. However, it is important to mention that you are not stuck with the amortization schedule you choose at the time you get your mortgage. You can shorten or lengthen your amortization, as well as consider making extra payments on your mortgage (if you set up pre-payment options), at a later date.

Ideally, you are re-evaluating your mortgage at renewal time (every 3, 5, or 10 years depending on your mortgage product). During renewal is a great time to review your amortization and payment schedules or make changes if they are no longer working for you.

If you have any questions or are looking to get started on purchasing a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to a DLC mortgage expert today!

How do you Measure Your Financial Growth?

financial Leslie Morris 11 Sep

If you are reading this you probably have a keen interest in improving your financial situation — but how are you going to measure your progress?

The easiest way is by setting and achieving a goal. This could be short-term and focused, like wiping out a credit card debt. On the other hand, it could be a long-term goal like burning the mortgage five years ahead of time after twenty years of scrimping and saving.

Achieving either of these goals is a great accomplishment, but they may not tell the whole story. The problem with both of them is they are independent from all of the other factors that affect your financial standing. What if the value of the house you just paid off has dropped 20% over the last year, or you eliminated one credit card balance only to see another card or line of credit head in the opposite direction?

No single metric tells the whole story of your financial progress. Paying yourself first and diligently putting $300 from every paycheque into your RRSP will definitely help you hit your retirement goals. However, you also need to monitor the growth from investing your RRSP as well as any other assets that are contributing to your retirement fund and ensure the total value is steadily tracking towards your goal.

Cash flow is another common measure of financial progress. Tracking your income and expenses helps you understand how much money you have available after covering your costs. Positive cash flow is a surplus that can be used for saving, investing, or paying down debt — but it doesn’t measure how effective you were at putting that cash surplus to work. You may think you are making progress, but if you let the cash sit in a bank savings account instead of a GIC in your TFSA, then you actually made comparatively poor progress.

If you want to keep it simple and look at only one metric to get a holistic view of your financial health, measuring your net worth can provide you with valuable insights. It’s an easy-to-understand concept that will help you analyze your financial health and overall progress towards your financial goals.

Calculating your net worth isn’t all that difficult and although it represents only a snapshot in time, the main advantage is that it provides a comprehensive snapshot. It takes into account all of your assets (such as cash, investments, real estate, and valuable possessions) and subtracts your liabilities (such as debts and loans). Monitoring your net worth forces you to be aware of all your financial accounts and can help you make more informed decisions about your spending, saving, and investing habits.

As you work to increase your assets and reduce your liabilities, your net worth should show positive growth. This signifies that you’re making smart financial decisions and accumulating wealth over time. Seeing your net worth increase can be motivating and reinforce positive financial behaviors. On the flip side, if you notice a decline, it can signal that you need to reevaluate your financial decisions and make necessary adjustments.

Monitoring your net worth helps you understand how effectively you’re building wealth. Although the market value of assets such as stocks or real estate fluctuate, comparing your net worth to previous periods can still help you evaluate the effectiveness of different financial strategies you’ve implemented. This allows you to refine your approach and make changes as needed.

Your net worth is an essential factor in assessing your retirement readiness. It helps you determine if you’re on track to maintain your desired lifestyle during retirement and whether you need to adjust your savings and investment strategies. It can also influence your estate planning decisions. It’s important for determining how you want your assets distributed after your passing and for considering strategies to minimize potential estate taxes.

There are lots of ways to measure financial growth and no one method is perfect, but keeping an eye on your net worth is a relatively easy task that will do wonders for your motivation — why not give it a try?

Do you need title insurance for a new-build home?

mortgage Leslie Morris 28 Feb

The housing supply shortage is one of the top issues in Canada’s real estate market. To address it, cities like Calgary are seeing a massive boom in new-build housing.

New construction offers many advantages, like more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. Their titles can also feel less risky to transfer. After all, if the land was previously vacant, there’s no chance of unpermitted work from a previous owner causing losses for new buyers.

But did you know that new builds carry most of the same title and off-title risks as existing homes? Here’s why.

the home may be new, but the land isn’t

Even unimproved land belongs to someone. The land for the new construction may have changed hands several times before the developer bought it. Every transfer of the land can add defects to the title. Those defects can cause losses for the people who buy homes built on that land. On top of that, both the municipality and the developer might make a mistake or miscommunicate, which can end up causing a problem with the property.

Here are just some of the issues that can cause losses for owners, even on new constructions:

  • Zoning mistakes, which can happen on either the municipality or the developer side.
  • Setback agreements the developer didn’t know about, which results in homes built too close to the road.
  • Pre-existing liens, for example from property tax still owed by the previous owner.
  • Errors in the registration of the title.
  • Pending legal action against the property that the developer didn’t know about.
  • Builders’ liens, if the developer wasn’t able to fully pay a supplier or contractor.

subdivisions can add extra complications

When an owner buys a property in a subdivision, they’re getting the title to that specific property. But all the land in that subdivision would have been under one original title before it was parceled out. The problem is, if someone has a claim against that original title, every property in the subdivision could be subject to it.

If the land for the subdivision was assembled from existing properties, that can add complications to the title of the assembled land. Those issues can then impact the new properties parceled out of that assembled land.

The developer could also make mistakes setting the property lines in a subdivision. If that happens, or if there are issues with the Real Property Reports/surveys conducted for any of the properties, the owners of those properties could have to deal with the consequences down the road.

how can title insurance help alberta’s new housing starts?

Title insurance is a great solution for new construction because it can cover homebuyers for the risks associated with all properties, risks introduced by subdividing land, and even title fraud. A title insurance policy protects the insured for as long as they have an interest in the property. It also works as a better closing solution than Western Conveyancing Protocol alone, or gap-only insurance.

Builders help with some of the risks of new construction by issuing a Real Property Report to the owner. It’s a useful document, but it has a limited scope and doesn’t offer owners any recourse if an issue comes up. It also becomes obsolete if an owner puts up a new exterior structure, like a fence or a deck. A title insurance policy covers the outside elements of a property as well as the home itself, which means it still provides protection to future buyers if the current owner adds structures.

post construction endorsement

FCT offers more protection on new construction with our Post Construction Endorsement. It advances the policy date by one year for 14 covered risks, including encroachments, work orders and zoning bylaw violations.

That means the policy covers any later improvements to the property the developer had contracted for before the closing date. Owners can take possession of their new-build home knowing that FCT is here to help handle surprises down the road.

Enjoy more protection for new-build home purchases with a residential title insurance policy from FCT.

4 Key Things to Know about a Second Mortgage

financial Leslie Morris 8 Feb

A second mortgage is a mortgage that is taken out against a property that already has a home loan (mortgage) on it. Generally people take out second mortgages to satisfy short-term cash or liquidity requirements, have an investment opportunity or to pay off higher-interest debts (such as credit cards and student loans) that a second mortgage might offer.

If you are considering a second mortgage for any reason, here are a few key points to keep in mind:

Second Mortgages and Home Equity: Your second mortgage and what you can qualify for hinges on the equity that you have built up in your home. Second mortgages allow you to access between 80 and 95 percent of your home equity, depending on your qualifications.

For example, if you seeking 95% Loan-to-Value loan (“LTV”):

House Value = $850,000
95% LTV (maximum mortgage amount) $807,500
less: First Mortgage ($550,000)
Amount Available Through Second Mortgage $257,500

Second Mortgages and Interest Rates: When it comes to a second mortgage, these are typically higher risk loans for lenders. As a result, most second mortgages will have a higher interest rate than a typical home loan. There is also the option of working with alternative and private lenders depending on your situation and financial standing.

Second Mortgage Payments: One advantage when it comes to a second mortgage is that they have attractive payment factors. For instance, you can opt for interest-only payments, or you can select to pay the interest plus the principal loan amount. Work with your mortgage broker to discuss options and what would work best for your situation.

Second Mortgage Additional Fees: A second mortgage often comes with additional fees that you should be aware of before going into the transaction. These fees can vary widely but often are a percentage of the mortgage. Other fees to consider include appraisal fees, legal fees to set up the second mortgage and any lender or broker administration fees (particularly with alternative or private lenders).

Second mortgages are a great option for many homeowners and, in some cases, may be a better solution than a refinance or a Home Equity Loan (HELOC). If you are interested in learning more or want to find out if a second mortgage is right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me today.

Refinancing Your Home

General Leslie Morris 12 Feb

When it comes to our debt, it may seem very difficult to pay it off. Equifax Canada, which provides consumer credit bureau information, reported that in the second quarter of 2017, non-mortgage debt has risen 3.3 percent. This is already a problem as many people throughout Canada are already struggling to make ends meet. Some people find themselves living paycheck to paycheck and they are unable to afford to pay off their debt.

If you are struggling to pay off your debts, it may be worth it to try and consolidate all of your debt into one payment. One of the best methods to do this is exclusive to homeowners in Canada. The Canadian Government allows homeowners to be able to borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of their home, minus the remaining balance on the mortgage. If you have paid a portion of your home’s mortgage off or if your home has just increased in value, then this method is a good way to get the money you need to pay off your non-mortgage debt off.

The method of consolidating your debt into your mortgage can help you to only have one interest rate payment for your debt instead of multiple payments at different rates. Consolidating them are a great way to get a handle on your debt.

This method is useful for things such as renovations that need to be made on your home or emergency repairs that cost more than you anticipated. For home renovations, this can actually add equity to your home and make your investment even better.Refinance-your-home

However, if you would rather pay off your debts than consider refinancing your mortgage. Your mortgage interest rate will more than likely be lower than any of the interest rates that your other debts are under. This can also save you money in the immediate future as you will not be spending as much when it comes time to make your payments.

One word of caution about this method is that it can be tempting to spend the available credit that you now have after freeing yourself from debt. If this happens then you will be in further debt than you were before you refinanced your mortgage and freed yourself from debt.

Another benefit to refinancing your mortgage is that you will have the option to change your mortgage rate from fixed to variable or back. This is a great thing if the market is favourable for one way or the other and you don’t have the ability to change that on your own.

Refinancing your mortgage is something that can be a great financial move if done right. If it helps to reduce your mortgage payment, shortens the term of your loan, or helps you out of your debt then it can be a wonderful decision to make. However, if you aren’t careful you could end up landing yourself into more trouble. Consider your financial situation and see if refinancing your home is a worthy move.

Renting vs Buying a Home

General Leslie Morris 2 Feb

In today’s market, there is an ever increasing worry about the price of homes. Getting a home is looking to be more expensive and many first-time buyers are worrying about making the big purchase. The question of whether it is better to try and buy something now or wait it out and remain a renter until the market cools down is on many people’s minds. Some people would argue that taking your savings and investing into the market now is the best thing to do as the market is probably going to continue to increase. Others would argue that it isn’t worth it to break into the market now and that it is going to be forced to cool down soon. Making that decision is something that you must make on your own but there are some things to consider.

One of the main things to consider about purchasing your own home is that once you purchase your home, it is yours. There is no longer a landlord that you must deal with, there isn’t the uncertainty that you may be forced to move because of a decision your landlord made. If there are any renovations that you want to do or if you want to do any work on your home, you are free to do whatever you want.
mortgage broker
The next thing that you must consider is that eventually, you can stop paying for your home once you purchase one. While a mortgage can last 25-30 years, you will always have to pay rent. Once you finish paying off your mortgage, the money you spent on the mortgage is yours to do whatever you want to do. If the idea of eventually paying off your home and no longer needing to spend money on it is appealing, it may be worth it to invest in a home now.

A home is one of the better things that you can use to build equity. Paying your mortgage on time is a very good indicator to potential lenders that you can pay your debts on time. The home itself is also a great source of equity and you can lend against it if need be. This equity can help you finance your next home or a potential financial investment.

However, there are some things that some people might not realize about owning a home. Once you own a home, you are bound to the property. If your job has an opportunity that requires you to move, you may not be able to move if you are bound to paying off your home. Your home ties you down and if you are someone who craves freedom, then having the freedom to move is great.

When it comes down to your decision over renting or purchasing your home, it is a highly personal one. There are benefits and downsides to both decisions. Purchasing a home is something that requires thought and is a significant financial decision. If you feel ready for it, then seeking out a good broker is a proper first step.

3 Mortgage Terms You Should Know

General Leslie Morris 20 Jan

When we deal with our mortgages, there are three terms that we all come across: prepayment, portability, and assumability. They look like words we recognize, but in the finance world, they’re different than what you might think. So let’s go over them.


A prepayment is the payment of a bill or expense that settles the account before it becomes due. The nice thing about mortgage prepayments is that they allow you to pay off your principal faster meaning less future interest and faster total repayment.

Prepayments are something to ask your broker about because each lender is different. You might want to make an increase on your prepayments meaning you pay a little more each week or month depending on your payment schedule. You can also make a lump sum payment. Maybe you got a holiday bonus from work or a cash gift from a relative. You can throw that on your mortgage and get your debt paid quicker.


Portability means that you can sell your home and take your mortgage to a new home. One thing to remember about portability is that we can’t decrease the mortgage but we can increase it (often through a second mortgage or mortgage extension). Portability gives you the flexibility of being in control of where you mortgage is going and not having to break your mortgage every time you move.

Moving a mortgage to a new property avoids annoyances like discharge fees, legal costs, and the very real possibility of incurring a higher interest rate. Portability allows you to keep your (presumably good) interest rate for its full term rather than having to break and pay penalties halfway through.


An assumable mortgage allows a mortgage and its terms can be transferred from the current owner to a buyer. By assuming the previous owner’s debt, the buyer can avoid having to obtain their own mortgage.

Assuming a mortgage happens most often with parents and their children. Say your parents have a mortgage and you move into that house. Rather than you going out and getting a new mortgage and making your parents pay discharge fees, you can assume their existing mortgage. All you have to do is apply. One thing to note is that you still need to be approved on the mortgage’s remaining balance by a financial institution just like you would on any other mortgage.