How To Build Your Credit

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 22 Jun

Having a good credit score and credit history will play an important part when applying for any type of credit, such as personal loans, credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. Many people who have a very short credit history and are trying to build or repair their credit are often faced with the dilemma that you need credit to get credit. There are things that you can do to help you along though, and our Alberta mortgage broker team is here to help.

Open a Bank Account

This is probably the first, and most important step toward building your credit. When you open a bank account, you are getting your foot on the ladder towards a better credit score. We suggest having one checking account and one savings account. If you do have a checking account, you need to be careful and make sure none of your checks bounce or that it doesn’t become overdrawn. This is especially important in the early days of building your credit. The purpose here is to show lenders that you are responsible when it comes to handling your debts. 

Getting Bills In Your Name

When lenders review your credit history, they will look for accounts that are in your name, including things like electric, phone and gas accounts, as well as a lease on an apartment. Again, it’s really important that you don’t miss payments or make payments late with these accounts because they will impact your credit in a negative way. 

Stable Employment and Residence History

Another two areas that lenders will review are your residence history and employment history, especially if you haven’t yet built up credit. What they are looking for is steady employment and residency. If you seem to be going from one job to the next over a short timeframe or have a long period where you have been unemployed, it can be a red flag. It’s the same for your residential history. If you seem to be moving around a lot and switching jobs, it can seem as if your situation is too unstable.

Apply For Gas and Store Cards

Once you get your credit history going, you can try to apply for a gas or store card. You’ll find a lot of major stores that have their own lines of credit, such as Target, Macy’s, and JC Penny. It’s a bit easier to get approved for this type of card in the beginning, than a major credit card. Many gas stations offer their own line of credit as well. However, you need to check that these lines of credit are being reported to the credit bureau. If they aren’t, it defeats the whole purpose of building your credit and they aren’t worth applying for. 

Secured Credit Cards

Once you have built up your credit a bit, have shown your situation is stable and that you are able to deal with your credit responsibly, you can try to apply for a major credit card, such as a Visa or Master card. If you aren’t able to get approved for these, you should talk to your lender or bank to see if they have a secured credit option that you can qualify for. The amount of credit you get on these matches what is in your bank account. 


Qualifying for loans will help with building your credit history faster. Loans tend to be based on your annual salary and you have to make sure that you don’t miss or be late on making your repayments. Otherwise, it will have a negative impact on your credit score.

It’s isn’t impossible to build up your credit, but it does take some patience and work. The most important thing to remember is to always make your payments on time each month. This goes a long way in showing how responsible you are with your debt and credit.

If you want more advice on building up your credit, give our Alberta mortgage broker team a call today for more helpful tips. 


Mortgage Rates Explained

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 9 May

Mortgage Rates Explained

The world of mortgage rates can seem like a minefield to many people. How do you get the best rate from your Alberta mortgage broker? First, we need to understand what a mortgage rate is.

Definition of Mortgage Rate

Basically, the mortgage rate refers to the interest that you pay for the money you have borrowed. It’s a fee charged for the use of that money borrowed. The interest rate, or mortgage rate, can be a fixed rate mortgage, adjustable rate mortgage, or variable rate mortgage. Whatever this rate is will have a substantial impact on the amount being paid back every month.

How Are Mortgage Rates Set?

It’s mainly the housing market that sets the mortgage rate, alongside the Bank of Canada and other large banks’ influence. One of the most influential is the residential mortgage bond market. So, the higher the yield of mortgage bonds, the higher the mortgage rate.

Regarding the types of mortgages, it is usually the fixed rate options that have the higher interest rates. This is down to a fixed rate locking in a particular rate of interest that cannot be increased throughout the mortgage’s term, regardless of a rise in mortgage rates. Also, longer-term mortgages tend to have a higher rate of interest than shorter-term mortgages.

Fixed, Adjustable, and Variable Rates

A fixed rate mortgage, as explained earlier, locks in a specific interest rate for the entirety of the mortgage term. The benefit with this option is that there will be no surprise changes should the interest rates suddenly shoot up. However, should they drop lower than your fixed rate, you may end up paying more than you would with the lower market rate.

An adjustable rate mortgage means that both the interest rate and mortgage payment amount will vary based on the conditions of the housing market. You generally start with a lower rate of interest that will change after a period, for example 5 years. This is a good option if you plan on moving before that 5 year period is up.

A variable rate mortgage means your mortgage payments and interest rate fluctuates depending on the housing market. This one is considered a bit risky because you can end up paying more if the interest rates shoot up. Your Alberta mortgage broker may start you off with a low rate for taking the risk. This is an option that isn’t always viable for those who are on a strict budget though. Your Alberta mortgage broker can guide you on the best option for your situation.

Conventional and High-Ratio

Conventional mortgages are those where the buyer has paid at least 20% of the homes purchase price and the lender pays 80%. A high-ratio mortgage comes into play when you make less than the 20% down payment of the value of the home. This means that the lender covers up to 95%. A high-ratio mortgage requires insurance against any payment defaults, but the interest rates tend to be lower.

Open and Closed Mortgages

Closed mortgages mean you pay the same amount every month for the entire mortgage term. This is a good choice if you need a fixed payment schedule and you don’t plan on moving or refinancing your mortgage before the mortgage term ends.

With an open mortgage, you can make a lump sum payment at any given time, and it can be paid off before the term without being charged a penalty. Open mortgages are a good option for those who plan to sell their homes in the near future, or who want to have the flexibility of making large lump sum payments. These mortgages tend to have a higher interest rate than a closed mortgage.

There are many options where mortgage loans are concerned. Speaking with an Alberta mortgage broker means you will get a deal that suits your needs and situation.

5 Things Your Broker Wishes You Knew

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 7 Feb

Beginning the Grande Prairie mortgage application process can feel overwhelming for any first time home buyer. So, to help you get started, your local mortgage broker, Gert Martens with Dominion Lending Centres, has listed 5 things every broker wishes you knew before starting the mortgage process.


#1: Don’t Quit Your Current Job

Most brokers prefer their clients to be with their current employer for at least two years. This is so the broker knows they have a stable income and can afford to make payments towards their mortgage every month. So, to avoid your application being denied, make sure you stay at your current job until after you have closed on your home.


#2: Know The Rules On Making A Down Payment

To qualify for a Grande Prairie mortgage, you will need to pay at least 5% towards your down payment. A down payment is a certain percentage of your home’s overall value price and is due before you can close on your home. If you pay less than 20%, however, you will be required to pay for mortgage default insurance. This insurance is so the broker is protected in case the borrower fails to make a payment.


#3: Contact Your Broker For Everything

Your mortgage broker should be your main source of contact for everything. They are here to help assist you in the mortgage decision process and they can answer any questions you may have.


#4: Avoid Additional Large Purchases

Most new homeowners feel that since their house is new than everything else they own should be new too. However, you should avoid making additional large purchases during the application process. Your credit score largely impacts how much you will be able to borrow and what type of mortgage you could qualify for. Every time you make a large purchase, your credit score could be affected, which could ultimately impact the approval of your application. So, to avoid this from happening, try not to make any additional large purchases until after your mortgage has been approved and signed for.


#5: Be Organized With Your Finances

Owning a home is a major financial commitment, so make sure you are organized with your finances and have enough money in your savings to make payments on time every month. Also, be sure to review your current credit report so you can dispute any inaccuracies before you begin your application.


Contact Us

For more information on things your Grande Prairie mortgage broker wishes you knew or if you are interested in getting started on your application, please contact Gert Martens with Dominion Lending Centre at 780-933-0109.

Grande Prairie 2018 Market Update

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 11 Mar

As your local Grande Prairie mortgage broker, we are always up to date with the current market trends in order to provide you with the best rates. We keep informed with the market so you don’t have to.

According to Grande Prairie & Area Association of Realtors, the average multiple listing service (MLS) price for 2015 was about $320,000. By 2016, the price dropped to around $280,000 and slightly increased the following year to $285,000. The average MLS price for January 2018 was $296,151, which is a slight increase from the year prior. This small change in the market for Grande Prairie gives an opportunity for buyers to negotiate better deals. For all of Alberta, the average MLS price for January 2018 is $380,230, which suggests the high value and real estate popularity of Grande Prairie.

In January 2018, the number of units for home sales was 151, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. This is approximately a 33% increase from the year prior. Grande Prairie had one of the highest records for homes sales compared with Alberta as a whole, which only had a 7% increase from January 2017.

By January 2018, the residential dollar volume in Grande Prairie was listed at $44,718,773, and all of Alberta was $1,134,605,476.

The active home listings, however, has decreased by over 4.5% compared to the previous year. In comparison to the last ten years for active listings, Grande Prairie has dropped 13.6%.

It is important to stay informed on the areas you are looking to buy a home in. With the constant fluctuation in prices, the market is always changing.

For more information on the market change, please contact the Dominion Lending Center at If you have any questions on a Grande Prairie mortgage and types of home loans, or if you want to get started today, please call (780) 933-0109.

Grande Prairie Mortgage Lender – Fixed Rates Versus Variable Rates

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 11 Feb

As a Grande Prairie mortgage lender, I know that the many different options involved with home loans can make the mortgage process feel intimidating. Having to figure out the best mortgage with the best rate and term for your situation can seem like an impossible task.

While I am here to help you figure out the best mortgage options for your current financial situation, I understand that some people want to come to me with questions after they have found out a bit more about the process and the different options that are available to them.

Where mortgage rates are concerned, there will, of course, be slight variations of the current rate that may be offered by different lenders or financial institutions. In addition to these subtle differences, there are also large differences between the two most common types of interest rates.

A variable rate, sometimes referred to as an adjustable rate, is the most common type of interest rate in Canada. Variable rate mortgages are home loans with interest rates that change over time. These changes are made based on a set index that indicates what current base rates should be based on the market.

Borrowers who obtain a variable rate mortgage are usually given an initial interest rate that will remain unchanged for an agreed upon length of time. Once this initial period has come to an end, the interest rate is adjusted and the monthly payment is recalculated to reflect the change in interest rate. At this point, the interest rate, and therefore monthly payment, could go either up or down.

Variable rate mortgages provide borrowers with a limited ability to budget or plan their future expenses, as their rate has the potential to change on a yearly basis. Fixed rate mortgages, on the other hand, are home loans with interest rates that remain constant throughout the entire term of the loan. These types of mortgage rates allow for borrowers to confidently budget their finances, as their monthly payments will be the same for the life of their mortgage.

Borrowers who obtain a fixed rate mortgage, however, do run the risk of being locked into a rate that is much higher, should the market rate fall.

Because there are both advantages and disadvantages to fixed and variable rate mortgages, I can help you figure out which would be the best fit for your particular situation. Give me a call or fill out my secure online application to get your mortgage process started today!


Mortgage Broker – Mortgage FAQ

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 19 Dec

Having been an expert in the mortgage industry for some time, I find that I am asked quite a few of the same questions by nearly every client.

These frequently asked questions will vary slightly from client to client, but the general questions are still the same:

  •       Which mortgage product or loan is best for me?
  •       Should I go with a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage?
  •     Should I secure an open or closed mortgage?

While these are not the only mortgage related questions I get asked, they are asked more than most, which is why I have chosen to include them in this post and explain them a little bit below.

Asking the first question about mortgage products will not get you a very productive answer if you ask it too early in the process. The answer to this question will vary based the borrower – the smallest difference in circumstances can lead to big differences in loan options.

Before asking what mortgage loan is best for you, take some time to get to know your mortgage broker. Explain your situation and let them know your goals so they have a better grasp on your current finances and where you want to be in the future. Make sure to provide as much information as you can, because the more information you provide, the more specific your broker can get with her advice and with the options for your mortgage loan.

The answer to the second questions is quite similar to the first. Both fixed and adjustable rates can be great options depending on your particular situation. There are some reasons why a fixed rate mortgage may be better – think rising interest rates and long-term payment schedules – and there are some reasons why an adjustable rate mortgage may be better – think predictions of lower rates in the near future or plans to quickly re-sell your home.

The basic difference between an open mortgage and a closed mortgage is that with an open mortgage, the borrower may borrower more money from the lender at a later date. Of course, certain borrowing criteria must be met before the lender will agree to lend additional funds, but this can be a great option if you are hoping to be able to make upgrades to your home or finance another large purchase in the future. A closed mortgage, on the other hand, imposes restrictions on the borrower, often requiring some sort of fee for pre-payments or refinances, but can reward borrowers with a lower interest rate.

You may also be wondering about the term of your mortgage or about how your payments will work. If so, don’t hesitate to ask! Regardless of how many times I may have heard a question, I am always happy to answer it again, especially if it means helping my clients feel more confident about their mortgage process.





Grande Prairie Mortgage – How Does a Broker Help You?

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 7 Aug

As a Grande Prairie Mortgage broker, I am proud to offer my expertise and knowledge of the mortgage industry, while providing home financing solutions that are tailored to each of my client’s specific financial needs.

If you have never purchased a home before, or have only worked with a large financial institution for your previous home purchases, you may not be familiar with the benefits of having a mortgage broker in your corner.

Choosing to work with a mortgage broker, means you are choosing to have someone on your side who is working for you and no one else. I am different from a faceless financial institution because I pride myself on getting to know each and every client I work with. I enjoy building lasting relationships with my clients and I truly want the best for them.

My connections, through my business dealings in the past as well as the backing of Dominion Lending Centres, I am able to offer my clients the best mortgage products and services at the most competitive rates. As I mentioned before, I do all of the work for you!

I will shop your mortgage around until I find you the best rate.

I will negotiate rates and terms on your behalf.

I will get you approved for the mortgage that fits best with your financial needs.

Working with a mortgage broker can save you more than just money. On your own, all of this would take hours, if not days, of visiting different lenders and financial institutions and applying for different loans. I can save you time by handling all of the intimidating details for you.

If you are looking for a mortgage, choose a mortgage broker.

As a Grande Prairie mortgage broker, I am committed to helping you achieve your dream of affordable home ownership.

Give me a call today at (780) 933 – 0109 for more information or to set up your free mortgage consultation!




5 Signs You’re Ready To Stop Renting

Mortgage Tips Gert Martens 17 May

So you’ve gone through four different apartments in five years. You’re sick of moving, you’re sick of paying rent, and you’re sick of having landlords who can’t even be bothered to fix a leaky faucet until your lease is almost up. You’re making good money with a great job, and you’re thinking about settling down. The thought of taking out a mortgage and buying a home of your own has been sitting in the forefront of your mind for a while.

But how do you know when it’s time to buy your first home? True, the Canadian mortgage industry is going through some significant changes this year that effects all home owners (one of which involves a mortgage stress test for those putting less than a 20% down payment), making the fiscal responsibility of first time buyers much more important.

While you may not be able to buy that dream home you’ve been looking for as a first time buyer you don’t need to be intimated by the latest changes if you have everything in order.

But that can be hard to figure out. Whether you choose to hire a Mortgage Professional or not, it’s time to get out of your tiny rental apartment and into your first home, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 signs that indicate that you’re ready to stop renting – and to buy your first home.

You’ve Got Your Finances In Order (Seriously!)

Don’t ever lie to yourself about your financial standing if you’re looking to buy a house. That’s a one-way-street to ForeclosureVille – and nobody wants to go there.

If you’re thinking about buying a house, you have to be brutally honest about your financial situation. How much credit card debt do you have? Do you have outstanding student loans? Auto loans? Personal loans?

If you do have debt, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – but do you have enough money to keep making payments and tackle a mortgage and related expenses at the same time?

If you have more than a small amount of credit card debt, the answer to this question is probably “no”. Credit card debt is a sign that you’ve been stretching your finances to the limit already – and it’s going to be better in the long run if you focus on paying off your personal debts before taking out a long-term mortgage.

Your credit score should also be a consideration – the better your credit the easier it will be to obtain a loan from your lender but every lender will have different requirements.   If you’re credit score is low or non-existent it could be worth saving for a few more years in order to raise your score and secure a better long-term rate on your mortgage.

You’ve Saved Enough Cash To Put Down A Beefy Down Payment

Down payments are a huge part of real estate. We won’t go into the math here, but putting down a large, 20% down payment can save you literally tens of thousands of dollars when buying a house, as compared to a 10% or lower down payment.

The recent changes to the Canadian mortgage industry now include a “stress test” for any buyer putting down less then 20% of the home up front. This is to determine if the borrower can afford to pay back the loan against a five year fixed 4.64% loan.

Despite the changes buyer still need to consider additional costs such as mortgage insurance, closing costs, taxes, repairs, furnishings and more when purchasing a new home.

Can you really handle all that if you can’t handle a large down payment? If the answer is “No”, you’re probably not ready to stop renting just yet.

You Can Afford Your Monthly Mortgage Payments – And Unexpected Expenses

Being a homeowner is expensive. Like, really expensive. It may seem like your mortgage payment is comparable to the rent you’re paying now, but you’re not factoring in:

  • Property tax
  • Homeowner’s Association Fees, if applicable
  • Home insurance
  • Potential home repairs and maintenance
  • Water, sewer, garbage, electric bills, or whatever other utilities may be covered by your current landlord

Altogether, these fees can often double your mortgage plus the principal you pay every month. If you put down a small down payment on a home that’s much bigger than you can afford, you may find yourself struggling to keep your head above water.

As a rule, your monthly payment should be no higher than 25% of your monthly take-home pay, including insurance and taxes. If you can’t afford that, you’re not ready to buy the home that you’re considering.

You’re Ready To Settle Down – For Real

Are you in a job that you’re going to keep for years? Decades, even? Do you have a plan for the next 5 years? Are you done moving between provinces and cities?

If the answers to these questions are “yes”, you may be ready to settle down and purchase a home. Buying a home is a long-term investment – so if you sell your home within a few years, chances are you won’t even cover your closing costs.

When you buy a house, you’re making a commitment to settle down. It doesn’t have to be forever – but it should be more than a couple years. So take some time, and truly consider whether you’re really ready to make the commitment of time, money, and resources required to settle down and purchase a home.

You Can Fix Things – Or Pay Someone Who Can

Here’s the thing about owning a home. Things go wrong – a lot. Furnaces break. Air conditioners conk out in the middle of summer. Chimneys mold, rot, or break. Pipes leak, air ducts snap, wood rots, toilets need to be replaced, appliances fail. And there’s no landlord or service hotline to call when these things happen – as a homeowner, you’ll be responsible for your own home.

If you’re handy, you can save a lot of money by doing basic repairs and maintenance yourself. But many of us are not – we wouldn’t know the difference between PVC pipes and HDPE pipes even if you slapped us upside the head with one – so you have to factor repair and maintenance costs of your home into your budget.

The joy of fixing broken things is a huge part of home ownership. You’ll never expect these issues – but you should always be prepared for them. If you can’t afford to pay for repairs and maintenance work on top of your mortgage, fees, principal, and other debt, you may not be ready to buy a home.

Don’t Let Us Scare You! If You’re Ready, Now Is A Great Time To Buy!

We’re not trying to scare you off from taking a mortgage out – far from it! The Canadian real estate market is strong, and still bouncing back from the 2007-08 financial crisis, so now is a great time to get a great rate on a fantastic new home.

We’re simply asking you to think about your situation. Buying a new home and taking out a mortgage isn’t a step that should be taken lightly – it’s likely to be the single biggest investment that most of us ever make in our lives!

So take the time to work through this article, and be honest with yourself. Do you have your finances in order? Have you got enough for a big down payment? Are you ready for unexpected expenses? Are you going to (finally!) settle down in one place? And can you handle upkeep, repairs, and other unexpected home ownership costs?

If your answers to these questions is “yes”, congratulations! You’re ready. And if you answer “no” to any of these questions, you may want to hold off for a year or two, and then re-evaluate your situation.