Nathan Janzen has always been in the business of helping people.
Over nearly two decades in financial services he’s learned a lot about everything from residential financing to small-business loans, commercial buy-outs and agriculture equipment financing, but the bigger lesson was more personal.
“Working for banks allowed me to reflect on who I want to be and who I want to represent,” Nathan says.
He realized he cared most about the financial wellbeing of his clients, and didn’t like the pressure to cross-sell chequing accounts and credit cards. Now that he’s self-employed as a mortgage broker, he works for you — not the bank.
Make a date with your mortgage broker
Nathan says the first step of any home purchase is a visit with your mortgage broker. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or already own a home, you don’t want to fall in love with a property only to have the application process fall through.
“It’s always good to know where you stand and know what’s possible.”
With that in mind, Nathan shares three tips to empower borrowers and simplify the application experience:
1. Know your budget – Dig into your finances and get a solid sense of your monthly income and expenses to help you decide what kind of monthly payment you’re comfortable carrying.
“Don’t forget to include things like property taxes, heating costs and, potentially, strata fees when making your budget,” Nathan says.
2. Know your credit score – It’s a good idea to review your credit report annually to make sure there are no surprises. Some clients assume their credit’s fantastic but discover a long-forgotten event is affecting their rating. By checking your score annually, you’ll have a good sense of where you stand and won’t be scrambling for extra documentation at the last minute.
“Many people don’t realize that you can call and talk with the credit provider if an item is reporting incorrectly on your credit report or even ask for forgiveness on one-off late payments. All of which can improve your score,” Nathan says.
When buying his first house years ago, Nathan learned of a reporting error that was affecting his credit score. His credit report included a chequing account that a financial institution forgot to properly close.
“If I’d checked my credit earlier, my home purchase wouldn’t have been delayed.”
3. Know your documents – Knowing who to ask and where to look for documents takes time, so Nathan recommends organizing your paperwork before you start house hunting. “It may take time to figure out whether the documents you need are hiding in a filing cabinet or an email,” Nathan says.
It’s less stressful to track down documents from your accountant, employer, filing cabinets and emails before your dream house hits the market.