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4 Things to Consider Before Refinancing Your Home

With Covid still lingering and the fact that some of us have lost some income, resources or even lost your job and/or your business has been affected financially, Sherry has some great tips about re-financing and how you can avoid some common traps.

I want to stress how important it is that if you re-finance a property that you know what you are doing and what the pros and cons are. Every time you re-finance you set the clock back as well. There are many articles out there so check some reliable and reputable sources so that you understand what re-financing your home means. 

If you are struggling with your financials, I highly recommend you reach out to Sherry and get some information and maybe some help. Sometimes just having someone else make you accountable to look at and review your money is all you need. But if you need more she is available to outline her services and pricing given each individual person’s or family’s financial situation. She is great at what she does. 

I also can easily provide some contacts for your local lending institutions if you are not sure where to turn. You can also change lenders but you must know the costs of moving your mortgage if you are not satisfied with your current lender. Having some knowledge before you meet with your financial institution will go far in understanding your situation and what is best for your lending needs and concerns. It can feel overwhelming and knowledge is power so do yourself a favour and do some research first.

Here are Sherry’s tips:

Our money is very emotional. Add in some debt and it gets even more emotional. Top the emotions off with high interest debt, low mortgage rates, and the rising value of homes, and you could have the perfect recipe to save yourself a good chunk of money with a home refinance that includes your debt OR it could be a recipe for disaster!! 
Listen, I’m not trying to scare the crap out of you, but I want you to make this decision with all of the factors that come into play today and in the future! I want your home to be your sanctuary and not a financial burden, so I am sharing with you four things you NEED to consider when exploring a refinance.

 #1 – The cost to refinance. What fees will you be incurring to refinance. Make sure you fully understand what it is costing you. If your mortgage expert is not clearly explaining this to you, it may be time to look for a new expert! You need to have someone in your corner that you trust and that is giving you all of the details. Listen to your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, find someone new to help you. You don’t have to stay with your current lender, there are lots of options out there. It is also possible that you will find a lender that may cover some or all of these costs for you!

#2 – The interest numbers. Mortgage rates are very attractive right now. From a numbers perspective, you may have the potential to reduce your interest costs, maybe even a significant amount, if you have high interest debt AND equity in your home. This obviously depends on your specific situation and is another way that your mortgage expert should be guiding you. Don’t just look at the interest %, a lower percentage over a longer period of time (if you extend the payoff date of your mortgage) may not be a savings at all.

#3 – The new payment schedule. If you can save yourself on interest, that’s great, but you also need to be able to make the payments. If you are feeling strapped each month now, it’s time to take a hard look at your numbers and make sure that you can make the new payments work. If you are rolling in some other debt, don’t assume that everything works, you have to actually crunch the numbers!

#4 Your future spending habits. Okay, here is the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR to consider. If your credit card and LOC debts have been slowly creeping up over the months and years, you are NOT READY to refinance. You are spending more than you make! First, you need to change your habits and get your spending under control. A refinance to ‘take care’ of your high interest debt is not the answer. If you think it is, you will be right back where you are now in 6 months or a year. If you keep refinancing every few years, adding in your other debts and extending the length of your mortgage, your payments will keep getting higher as the value of your home increases. You will eventually get to the point where you can’t make your payments and then guess what? You lose your house, you either have to sell it or it gets foreclosed on because you can’t make the payments and then you’re screwed! I don’t want that for you. I want you to take control of your money and really get your shit together to start growing your wealth! I know that is what you want too!

If you see yourself in #4, it is time to get to work. You need a budget; you need a plan for your money every month so you can make some serious changes. You need to focus on making changes to your spending habits. As you make changes to your spending habits, this should translate into your debt trending downwards and your savings growing. Do this for at least 6 months before you even consider a refinance!

There is so much information out there from various financial experts and random internet strangers, that it can feel very overwhelming and can translate into you doing nothing. If you are not sure where to start to make the changes you know you need to with your money, I have a tool that can help you. How about a free budget template that will do all the number crunching for you? Happy budgeting my friend!


See the full post on Sherry’s website:
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Current Mortgage Market Update – June 2020

Here is a review with some lending changes and a brief update with Amy Fleming a local TD Mobile Specialist serving Oxford County.  Some home owners are experiencing financial uncertainty and with the mortgage payments and possible lack of employment these past months  Amy has some helpful information to assist you with making your decisions with regards to how to navigate your options during this time. Please reach out to her direct for your more specific concerns about your own mortgage concerns.

Here is and update from Mobile Mortgage Specialist Amy Fleming :

A couple of good points with lending changes in general and with TD:

  • Bank of Canada Stress Test Qualifying Rate as dropped again. We now qualify all applications at a minimum of 4.94%. This helps put a little more buying power int the buyers’ hands.
  • We can now use some of the Canada Child Care Benefit (CCB) as part of an income source on applications provided the children are under the age of 13 and the annual amount does not exceed 15% of the annual employment income
  • Mortgage rates at all-time lows for both fixed and variable rate options

CMHC and federal government has requested we cautiously review all income and debt loads on all applications during COVID. Some temporary measures implemented include:

  • Confirmation of ongoing income or proof of return to work post-lay off by means of a recent paystub or letter of employment dated within the last 14 days
  • Cannot use EI/CERB income for those laid off or out of work due to COIVD-19
  • Extensive review for any clients who have currently utilized mortgage or loan deferrals
  • Review of profile sustainability with remaining savings after closing and existing debt loads. We need to show that the clients have something to fall back on should lockdown measures be re-instated.

TD COVID Changes:

  • All pre-approvals need to be requalified if completed prior to COVID-19 or if started in a retail branch or online channel. We requalify based on income and profile reasonability reviews mentioned above
  • All Purchase and pre-approval applications effective April 21st must be referred out to the Mobile Mortgage Specialist Channel
  • A continued review on the re-opening phases to see if we can ease restrictions for certain job sectors impacted heavily by COVID lockdown

A quick note about CMHC: At this point in time, despite rumours from a press conference where quotes were taken out of context, there are no plans for CMHC to discontinue 5% down payment mortgages. CMHC is carefully watching housing prices across Canada and household debt levels, currently hovering around $1.76 of debt for every $1.00 earned in income. If we see them climb into the $2.30 range and combined with a larger drop in home values/prices, they could review any and all options to reduce home owner risk. They will not immediately jump to removal of 5% down payment as they will then need to revamp the First Time Home Buyers Incentive program launched in 2019.

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Financial Guidance in Uncertain Financial Times

I first met Sherry Andrew when I hosted a unique open house here in town with a beautiful home I had for sale on Ingersoll Ave. I invited a local stager, lender, inspector and brought Sherry in to offer any budgeting help that potential Open House visitors may need. I went on to use her services for myself. As a busy agent it can be difficult to stay on top of your budget and the details of your business when you are hyper focused on the needs of your clients for buying and selling. She really helped me understand my spending for both personal and business. I was able to separate the two and be become better organized with my finances. I used her budget tips and continue to follow Sherry with all her helpful information. Sherry has offered some insightful tips to be mindful of your budget during the pandemic and beyond.  

I encourage you to reach out to her for any questions you may have or if you need help trimming your spending right now during this very unusual time we are in.

Her website:

We are over a month into so many changes related to the COVID-19 virus. It is impacting our lives in so many ways. A big impact for many of us, is the financial impact. Job loss, reduced hours, or loss of business for self-employed individuals has many of us worried about the future. Although there are many things out of our control, there are things we can do to reduce the financial impact to your household. Let’s dive into some proactive steps you can take!

The #1 financial tip at anytime really, but even more so now is to pay attention to your money. How much is coming in and where is it all going. When I start working with my one-on-one clients this is the most important step.

Action: Look back through your bank and credit card statements for a few months and identify where your money is going. Break it down on categories that make sense to you. A key area to focus on is what I call day-to-day expenses. Items that we purchase regularly and that the amounts can vary significantly (groceries, restaurants, misc spending—like Amazon). You must know where you are starting to identify areas you want to change.

The biggest impact to financial success, especially during uncertain times is to have a plan for your money each month. If you were going somewhere you had never been before, you would put the address your phone or your car to get directions to your destination. You would make sure you had a plan to get you there, yet so many people do not have a plan for their money each month. The word budget brings up thoughts of restrictions and no fun…ever. I believe the opposite, having a budget allows you to align your spending with your goals and dreams. If you have big plans to travel when the dust settles, you need to include it as part of your budget.

Action: You can probably guess what is coming…build a budget, or two. If your income has been impacted, I recommend building a ‘normal’ budget with your pre-COVID income and an emergency budget for right now. When I lost my job very unexpectedly in 2017, going through
our budget and cutting back everywhere we could allowed me to focus on building my business. Use the information you gathered above to start your plan. Use what works for you, it could be a notebook, a whiteboard or if you are a lover of spreadsheets, you could go sign up to receive my free budget template at

Some potential areas to reduce your expenses:
Where should I start?

  • Credit cards—call your credit card companies to request a reduction in your interest rate. Even before this pandemic, this is something my clients had success with, now credit card companies have even more option to help.
  • Communications bills—contact your communications providers and ask them what they can do for you to help to reduce your monthly bill. Using FB messenger is a great option if available, especially if you have kids running around making lots of noise. Our bill used to be over $400, it is now ~$250! Utility Bills—many of you may be working from home which will increase utility bills. Having your home office set up on a power bar that you can turn off or unplug at the end of the day will help. Unplugging anything that you aren’t using will also help. You’re not going to get rich doing this, but every little bit helps.
  • Insurance—if you are working from home, you can contact your insurance provider to check into options about reducing your car insurance premiums.
  • Grocery spending—Our hand is being forced in this category, being home so much makes this a great time to start meal planning. Planning out your meals for the next few weeks and shopping only once will help you spend less and give you the peace of mind to know you have a plan. If you are worried about expiry dates, lots of staples can be frozen, bread, milk and meat are all regulars in our freezers. If you’ve got kiddos at home, involving them in this process can be a great experience for them.
  • Online shopping—this is a category that is likely starting to add up these days. Being at home so much and increased stress and emotions can increase our urge to spend. To help keep you on track with your spending here are some tips:
    • Remove your credit card numbers, actually having to get up and get your card could be enough to make your rethink a purchase.
    • Unsubscribe from promotional emails, these used to be a trigger for me to spend. Now that they don’t hit my inbox, that temptation is not there.
    • Make a commitment to yourself, to have a cooling off period for online purchases. Waiting 24, 48, 72 hours, or even longer can help you to evaluate if you really do want to make the purchase. The higher an item costs, the longer I recommend the cooling off period should be.

If your income has stopped or is significantly reduced, contact your lenders to explore options.
They are here to help you. Deferring of payments or pausing interest can be a huge help to you. If you are looking into these options be sure to understand the full impact of these temporary deferrals.

Learn from this situation-and know that you don’t have to do it on your own. As we are all experiencing right now, life can throw you curve balls. If you feel unprepared right now, you can take action to be more prepared next time. Having your emergency savings in place can help to reduce your financial stress when the next curve ball comes. When I lost my job, we were not prepared financially and that scared the crap out of me. We made so many changes to our finances and today I am thankful that we have a cushion to help us in crazy financial times—like a pandemic!

If you need some guidance please reach out, you can drop me
an email at

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Overburdened with debt during COVID-19?

Julie Brenneman is a local Financial Mortgage Broker and owner of The Mortgage Centre-Hometown Financial. Julie has several offices in various cities and towns and has the ability to shop you the best rates as a broker specialist. She has a great local team at her home office located at 395 Dundas street who are helpful, friendly and dedicated to your mortgage needs. Julie is very involved in the communities she serves and has a great website and social media presence offering additional free information to Oxford County and surrounding areas.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get help with how you can defer your mortgage payments or if you need some refinancing advise, I would definitely give this blog a read and reach out to her direct for more information based on your personal situation. Several of my clients and other Real Estate Agents have put their trust in Julie and Hometown Financial.

Check out her website for more details at

During this time, debt can seem overwhelming, and trying to figure out how to spend your money wisely can be a challenge. We have come up with 5 ways to keep yourself afloat and relieve some stress.
1. Prioritize your Debts
Housing and related shelter costs should top the list on this one. Failing to pay your mortgage [if you haven’t deferred payments] during this time can result in foreclosure on the property. Most lenders do have programs in place to help support you during this time and allow a skip-a-payment option for the time being. Utilities are ranked up there as well, as you may accrue fees during this time. If you are facing financial hardship – contact your providers and see how they can help you out.
2. Consider Refinancing to Free up Some Cash
Refinancing now is another strategy to pay down high interest debt, or other bills and lump them into one mortgage payment that may save you hundreds of dollars monthly! You may have enough equity to pull out some extra cash as well to help you out while regular pay checks are not coming in. Consider talking to a mortgage professional (me) and see what your options are right now.

4. Talk to Your Credit Card Companies
Most companies are allowing deferred payments on more than just your mortgage. Reach out to your companies today to see if this is an option for you. Credit cards, lines of credit, personal loans and auto loans are all things you may be able to save on while you are off.
5. Talk to Your Auto Insurance Companies
Your auto insurance premium may drop as well if you are working from home or not working at all. As you are using your vehicle less and not using it for work travel, this may change the monthly/annual payment on your insurance. Talk to your insurance agent or company today and see what options you have.
6. Seek Advice From a Professional
There may be even MORE ways to save you money or help you out – consider talking to a professional financial advisor to see how they can guide you in the right direction. The government offers support in multiple different ways right now, and you may not be utilizing it to your full advantage.

If you are considering refinancing, or just need mortgage advice, feel free to reach out to me anytime at 519-539-6153.

Julie Brennerman, The Mortgage Centre
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Tips for listing your home

We all seem to have a bit of extra time on our hands right now, and we are staring at the walls around us – which is likely our homes.

What if you had planned on selling your home this season? Or what if you find yourself with the need for something to do …anything…to keep you busy. Either one needs an answer and that is invest time and some money into your home.

With budgets being carefully considered we put together a list of projects that are affordable and will increase the value of your home. We also invited Interior Designer Patrine Frey of Patrine Frey Creative Design to give us some tips.(

List of simple tasks to invest in:

  1. Paint fresh new colours ( neutrals best)
  2. Update cabinet hardware throughout house
  3. Street appeal matters – cleaning up the front lawn, placing coloured cushions on a chair or bench, hanging a seasonal wreath, clean driveway and sidewalk etc.
  4. New lighting or clean existing hanging lights.
  5. Updating the electrical covers and light switch covers throughout the house.
  6. Organizing linen closets and all closets to make them more organized and spacious.
  7. Wash the windows inside and out. Don’t forget the screens!
  8. Paint front door for a fresh new look

Another great idea is to tour your home and check off these tasks before selling:

  • updating the panel with an certified electrician and update the breaker labels if necessary
  • test the breakers
  • change out the furnace filter
  • clean out dryer vent inside the dryer and the venting outside
  • check the gas fireplace for the pilot light.
  • Make sure the attic is getting proper ventilation.
  • Turn A/C on to check its working.
  • Hard water can erode your faucets and shower heads so consider giving them a clean.

From our friend Patrine Frey

If Listing Your Home this Spring – Here are my thoughts!

Step 1
Emotionally detaching from your home may be difficult. It’s hard to realize your house is just a structure that will be filled by other people but you made it your home by living there. Your next house will be your next home.

Step 2
Lighting makes a huge difference in how a home looks to a prospective buyer. It’s really important to upgrade dated fixtures. Letting the light in for example really shows off your fixtures. You need to look at every room in your home and ensure the lighting is doing the work for you.

Step 3
Get all your paperwork ready regarding utility bills, renovations details, warranties, rental contracts etc. This will be important for your real estate agent as potential buyers will want to know the details of these.

Step 4
Start de-cluttering – one room at a time, starting with the bathroom.
Remove all toiletries you have visual. Put them in a basket & bring out when needed. Buy some white towels, put them in a basket, bring them out and hang them in place of your daily ones, for a showing or when photos are getting taken. Look around with a critical eye – would an upgrade of faucets make the space more appealing, is the space hyper-clean. Even if you can’t upgrade your bathroom make it super clean and with a minimalistic style, it will appear so much better.  A real quick fix is towel racks and toilet paper holders.

Step 5
The kitchen is the number one space most prospects are interested in. De-cluttering the countertops is so important. Only decorative items or two in these spaces. Do a spring clean inside the cupboards and wipe down the outsides.
Have a hard look at your appliances, are they good shape, are you keeping them? If you plan for these to be part of the sale then, they need to look great, no items stuck on the fridge.
Look at your facets could they be upgraded?  Could your kitchen walls use refresh paint? Always a neutral colour.
Is the floor in great shape? Are the counter surfaces in great shape? This space is where you could do a mini-renovation with a good return on investment. If you can manage it the best place to spend money is counters and floors.

Step 6
Living/dining rooms/great rooms
All of these spaces fall under the same view. It’s important that these spaces look spacious.
Remove extra furniture and furnishings, then leave what you believe is the “prettiest” and most useful. Take down personal pictures & the cluttered artworks.
Make sure the windows are clean and window treatments are in good shape.
Refresh walls with a neutral colour if needed.
Add fresh flowers as a decorative touch. Have a real discerning eye for the shape of the flooring. This is another space where an upgrade would return the investment.

Step 7
Every closet in the home must be de-cluttered. Every prospect opens closet doors. The storage space must look ample enough. So leave them half empty. You are moving so packing away what you do not need is smart.

Step 8
Your entrance to your home sets the tone for the buyer. They say a prospective buyer will form an opinion within 15 seconds of entering a home. You will want the initial reaction positive as soon as anyone enters. Make sure the space is open and clean – no clutter. The walls are freshened up with a neutral paint colour, the flooring is in excellent shape. The coat closet should be attractive & inviting. The lighting is bright & attractive.

Step 9
The lower level of your home, finished or unfinished needs to as de-cluttered as possible – the idea is to have the spaces as open visually as possible, the lighting perfect, the walls if painted in excellent shape. Flooring clean & I’m good repair. Remember prospective buyers will see your home first in pictures. What they are looking at is the space not your furniture, remember it is the shape of the structure that matters.

Step 10
The bedrooms – make sure the bed coverings are beautiful, simple & always made. Decorative pillows would be amazing. The bedrooms always look better with a made bed. The rest of the space only needs minimal furnishings, night stands & dressers cleaned off with only light fixtures or flowers. Windows clean & window treatments in excellent shape.  Lighting needs to be bright to show the space.

Step 11
The curb appeal matters. Take a real look from the street view of your home. Make sure your front door is in amazing shape, paint wise. The door handles are in good repair. Clean up your garden area, no matter what season. Your front door landing needs to be inviting, a simple pretty container plant is preferred, makes the space look uncluttered.
Your real estate agent will always be there to help you with getting for a home in selling shape. They may suggest a home stager, but always remember the professionals who you are working with are there to help you realize the best value for your home.

When you are ready to list, be sure to contact me for more help as we navigate this unprecedented time together. Also, check out my Virtual Services page on my website where I showcase how I showcase your property Virtually.