The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Canadians into a financial reckoning. One recent poll of 1,500 Canadians found two-thirds would be in (or already were in) a “severe financial crisis” due to job loss or income reduction. A full 30% said they would skip credit card payments if they absolutely had to. No one wants to be in the situation of having to choose between their mortgage and credit cards, or, for that matter, any other monthly essentials, so let’s take a look at one strategy that may help “crisis-proof” your finances.
One of the advantages of homeownership is the ability to tap into the equity you’ve put into your home. A second mortgage, third mortgage or reverse mortgage all allow you to borrow money at interest rates lower than what you’d pay on a credit card or unsecured line of credit.
Used correctly as a short-term solution that is part of a longer-term strategy, these types of mortgages can help homeowners get out of debt sooner.
Here’s a quick overview of three mortgage options and how they may work for your needs.
A second mortgage lets you borrow money using your home equity as security. To qualify for a second mortgage, a homeowner must have at least 20% equity in their home and can borrow up to 80% of the home’s appraised value. (Equity is the difference between your home’s appraised worth and what you owe on your existing mortgage. Your home equity increases as you pay down your mortgage, and/or as the value of your home goes up.)
A second mortgage exists independently of the first mortgage. Expect interest rates to be a bit higher, too. You’ll be making payments on both mortgages concurrently. Most second mortgages have terms of between 3 and 18 months.
Use your second mortgage to consolidate and pay off high-interest consumer debt, or for a major investment like post-secondary education or home renovations. When your primary mortgage is up for renewal, you should use this opportunity to pay off your second mortgage by rolling it into your primary mortgage.
This strategy reduces the amount of interest you pay on your debt load, improves your credit score by lowering your debt-to-income ratio, and will get you better mortgage rates when it’s time to renew your primary mortgage.
For homeowners over age 55, a reverse mortgage can provide an additional income stream to augment retirement savings or work income. If you have a mortgage remaining on your home, you’ll have to use your reverse mortgage funds to pay it off. The remaining funds can be used to cover your debts, or, for that matter, fund home improvements, investments, post-secondary education for your children or grandkids or other priorities.
Second mortgages, third mortgages and reverse mortgages aren’t for every situation, but used correctly, could help you save thousands of dollars in interest, get debt-free faster, and stay on track with your financial goals.
Want to learn more? Reach out to 8Twelve’s team of skilled mortgage professionals. You can trust your 8Twelve Mortgage Strategist to help you get the best mortgage for your needs.