Your Home Buying Team

Purchasing a home is likely to be the largest investment you will ever make, and that means that it is very important you have a team of professionals working with you throughout the entire process. Here are the key players you will need.

More and more clients are discovering the benefits of utilizing the services of a professional Mortgage Broker to help them secure financing for their homes. Why is this? It is simple really.

The banks are filled with a lot of great people who are knowledgeable, friendly and do good jobs. The challenge is that they are employees of the bank. That means that their first responsibility is to look out for the best interest of their employer. It also means that they can only offer you a single line up of products.

As a CENTUM Mortgage Choice Broker I have access to many different lenders, some that are simply not available to the consumer except through the services of a mortgage broker. That means that you, as my customer, have greater choice and can truly customize your home financing. It also means that generally I have access to lower rates. More choice and better rates = win for you!

Do you have to pay me for my service? Mortgage brokers always get paid by the lender so our service to you is offered without charge. In some rare cases however there may be a broker fee, but if that ever happens your broker will always explain that to you upfront so that you can make an informed decision.  This is usually only in the cases of second, third or private mortgages.

Your Professional Team

Real Estate Agent

A Realtor is an integral part of your home ownership experience. Their job is to find you a home, write the contracts, negotiate on your behalf, and to provide you with important information about the home and the community. They can provide you with details that would take you hours of research, or you may not have access too, and can help you make an informed decision about your purchase.

If you would like to know more about a real estate agent’s ethical obligations, visit the Canadian Real Estate Association’s website at or call your local real estate association.

The Lawyer/Notary

You need a lawyer to protect your legal interests, such as ensuring the property you are thinking of buying does not have any building or statutory liens or charges or work or clean-up orders associated with it. He or she will review all contracts before you sign them, especially the Offer to Purchase. Having a lawyer involved in the process will give you peace of mind and ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. Law associations can refer you to lawyers who specialize in real estate law.

Lawyer fees depend on the complexity of the transaction and their experience. For instance, if you are buying a condominium, you will want a lawyer experienced in condominium transactions.

Remember that a lawyer:

  • Should be a licensed full-time lawyer. 

  • Should be local and understand real estate laws, 
regulations and restrictions. 

  • Should have realistic and acceptable fees. 

  • Should be able and willing to explain things in plain 

  • Should be experienced with condominiums (if you are 
purchasing a condominium). 

The Insurance Broker

                  An insurance broker can help you with your insurance needs, including property insurance and mortgage life insurance. Lenders insist on property insurance because your property is their security for your loan. Property insurance covers the replacement cost of your home, so premiums may vary depending on its value. 
We also recommend that you consider obtaining mortgage life insurance. This provides coverage for your family if you die before your mortgage is paid off. As a CENTUM Mortgage Choice Broker we can offer you the benefit of Mortgage Protection Plan offered through Manulife Financial. We also have disability insurance available in the event that you are injured and as a result cannot meet your mortgage payment obligations. If you are interested in finding out more information on MPP, please do not hesitate to ask. 
Be careful not to confuse property or life insurance with mortgage loan insurance, which may be required for high-ratio mortgages. 


The Home Inspector

You should consider having any home you are thinking of buying—whether it is a resale home or a brand new home—inspected by a knowledgeable and professional inspector. An inspection by a home inspector is a visual inspection.

The home inspector’s role is to inform you about the property’s condition. The home inspector will tell you if something is not functioning properly, needs to be changed or is unsafe. You will also be informed of repairs that need to be made and maybe even where there may have been problems in the past.

Every inspection should include a visual assessment of at least the following:

  • Foundation
• Doors and windows
• Roof and exterior walls
• Attics
• Plumbing and electrical systems (visible) • Heating and air conditioning systems
• Ceilings, walls and floors
  • Insulation (where visible)
• Ventilation
• Septic tanks, wells or sewer lines (if qualified)
• Any other buildings such as a detached garage
• The lot, including drainage, slopes and vegetation
• Overall opinion of structural integrity of the buildings • Common areas (condominium/strata or co-operative)

Home inspector fees are generally in the $500 range and depend on the size and condition of the home.  If you don’t know where to start when it comes to building your team don’t worry, I can point you in the right direction! 


IMG_2894 Chris Turcotte, Owner/Broker

 Office: (204) 727-2177

 Cell: (204) 720-4002


2015 Westman Wedding Expo

Being asked to blog first for the Westman Wedding Expo makes me aware of a common question readers might ask:

Why is Brandon’s only Mortgage Brokerage a part of a wedding show anyway? 

I like to think of it this way; you’re going to the Westman Wedding Expo because you want to plan for your wedding.  You want to see all the exhibitors, their services and you’ve got questions!  This is YOUR day and it’s got to be perfect and you’re going to the experts to make sure it ends up that way.  Well, buying your first home as a married couple is JUST as important.  In fact, for most people, it’s the single most important purchase in your lives so why not have THOSE professionals there too?

But who should use a mortgage broker?  What exactly do they even do?  Why don’t I just go to the bank for my mortgage?  All good questions, so now I have a few of my own:

– Would you rather keep more money in your pocket and not in a lenders pocket from higher interest rates?

– Do you want options on your mortgage that suit your particular needs, not just the one type of mortgage being offered by your lender?

– Do you want the flexibility of getting your mortgage done on your schedule, not banking hours?

If you answered yes to any of those questions then you and one of our 10 local mortgage brokers should talk.  As mortgage brokers, all we do are mortgages.  We don’t open accounts, do car loans, mutual funds, etc.  We’re the very best at mortgages because it’s our only focus.  Getting you the best product to meet your specific needs and saving you money is our only priority.  So drop in and have a coffee from our coffee bar, shoot us an email, give us a call or contact us through our website to chat about how we can help.  You’ve went to all the right people for your wedding and now its time to make sure the next step of your lives together goes just are perfect.

As an added bonus to the blog, our first commercial just came out of production and is ready for the world!  Give it a quick watch, it’s sure to give you a chuckle or two! 

For more information on the 2015 Westman Wedding Expo here in Brandon, Mb, visit the official website HERE. Hope to see you all there!


What Affects Your Credit?

Lately I have run into a lot of people who have had some “innocent” issues with their credit. Things that they really had no idea was going to affect them negatively when it comes to buying a house. I thought maybe a little refresher on what will affect your credit would be in order.

1) Payment history – This is one of the most important things to keep on top of. Paying your bills on time is so important. I recently had a young couple looking to buy a house. We got them approved to buy their house but the deal ended up falling apart (they didn’t sell their current house and the offer expired). Just over 2 and half months later, they found a new house for $30,000 less, should be a slam dunk but I had to pull new credit reports, as they have to be pulled within 3 months of your possession date to be up to date. His credit score dropped below the insurer’s guidelines. After reviewing the report, the only difference on his credit report is that he had been late on one payment in the last couple months. That was enough to put it below guidelines and I had to decline their financing. They didn’t realize something so small could cost them their house. Nothing can be done to fix a late/missed payment except for time passing.

2) Debt Load – Do you have a lot of debt? Things like high balances on your credit cards, credit cards being maxed out or several different credit cards with outstanding balances on them can really pull down your credit score. Even if you make all your payments on time, having a credit card that is maxed out or has gone over the limit, never looks good to lenders. At least this category is one that can adjust your score by paying down your debt as soon as possible.

3) The length of time you’ve had credit – Your credit history is another important factor. Typically lenders like to see at least 2 different trade lines (credit cards, loans, line of credits) for at least 2 years! Having a credit card for only a few months, even when paid on time, doesn’t give the lender a very good idea of how you can maintain debt long term. It’s not terribly hard to keep up with your bills for a couple month, but a couple years can be another story. If you have a credit card that you really don’t use anymore, as long as there is no annual fee to keep it open, then just let it sit there. Having a card, in good standing, for a long period of time, always looks good and helps boost your credit score.

4) Applying for new credit – every time you apply for some type of credit, your score can take a hit. Too many inquires (credit report being pulled) in a short period of time can affect your score in a negative way. For example, car shopping! This is a big one. Each dealership you visit will pull a credit report. Every time your credit is pulled, it shows up on your credit report. This is one of the advantages of working with a mortgage broker when shopping for a home. We pull your credit report only once and then submit it to different lenders. There aren’t multiple checks done on your credit.

5) Variety in your credit – By variety, I mean having a mix of different types of credit, credit cards, line of credit, car loans, and personal loans. By having a variety of different types of trade lines, it can improve your score and allow lenders to see how you handle different types of payments.

Hopefully some of these tips can help you work on your credit score so you have an easier time when it comes to purchasing your home. I am always here to help if you have any questions.

Naomi 1

 Naomi Hamm, Mortgage Broker & Partner

 Office: (204) 727-2177

 Cell: (204) 724-7290



CENTUM Mortgage RenewalLow budgets and a lack of time can put a dent in the fun of summer traveling, without doubt. But just because you can’t go far doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Lovingly called a “staycation” by some, we call it being a tourist in your own city. Here are eight ways how to do it. 

Head to any hotel or motel lobby or welcoming centre

Find one of those brochure kiosks in a local hotel or motel lobby, and take home a few for local attractions or activities that grab your attention, especially the ones that seem like something you wouldn’t normally pay attention to. Ask someone behind a desk for what they recommend to tourists who have one day to spend in your city or town. And then be sure and call and ask if there’s a discount for locals or residents (you’d be surprised to learn how many places offer discounts like that!). 

Get a friend to show you around like you’re a tourist

Call up a friend you know who usually loves showing visitors around town and ask them to take you to some of their favorites places that make the city you live in special! They may take you to a place you would have never thought about visiting. 

Move through it differently than you usually do

Consider taking a tour on a bus (Hop On Hop Off Tour) or some other form of transportation. You’ll see your city with fresh eyes when learning about interesting points and fun historical facts. 

Take cheesy photos of yourself in front of tourist spots

That well-known statue in your town square. A view from the park downtown. The famous graffiti. Your city’s welcoming sign. Even if you’ve already seen a lot of your city’s tourist spots, embrace the cheesiness of visiting them again by taking photos of yourself in front of them.

Grab a meal at the most touristy restaurant in your town 

Get the dish they swear they’re the best at making and that your city’s known for. Revel in its tasty (or greasy) glory. But also take a look around when you get there. A lot of the touristy spots actually have cool history to them, with old photos decorating the walls and stories about your town waiting to be discovered.

Do something outdoors that only your city can offer 

Is your neck of the woods known for fly fishing? Do it. Your city the home to the world’s largest urban bat colony? See it. Tons of farms open their “doors” during particularly lovely parts of the seasons? Take advantage! Is there a public fountain or water feature that you can take the kids to? Have fun! Chances are there’s something outdoorsy your city does well and promotes to tourists; discover it.

Cheer on a local sports team 

You can go to a game, or even find a popular sports bar to watch a game on a TV, surrounded by passionate locals and tourists alike. It’ll give you a good feeling of the spirit of your city. 

Embrace a bit of history 

Depending on the size of your city, there might be a museum that illustrates an exciting part of your hometown’s history that might be worth checking out. Think about stopping and reading any roadside markers with interesting historical facts. And check to see if your city has any historical collections at local libraries – sometimes you can find a whole collection of cool photos showing what your city looked like years ago. 


Purchase Plus Improvments Mortgage

Found a home that is almost perfect you, if only the kitchen was updated or the bathroom had new fixtures? Now you can update the house in your price range to make it the home of your dreams with the purchase plus improvements program. By allowing you to add the cost of your renovations to your mortgage, your dream home is closer than you think. 


Source: Genworth

Top Five Home Renovations That Increase Property Value


Looking to increase your homes property value? Here are five of the best renovations you can do to your home to increase property value. These five renovations can sometimes have a return on investment 5-6x what they cost.

#5 Flooring

Flooring is one of the most important aspects of your house. You will see an immediate rise in property valuation with the installation of hardwood floors. Existing hardwood floors that you can refinish are ideal as they are less costly to restore and in higher demand than new flooring materials. For the bathroom, tile will always be in demand and retain value exceptionally well.

#4 Fixtures

Kitchens often look tired and dated, in large part due to old fixtures. Replacing or updating cabinet hardware, light fixtures, countertops and faucets will result in an immediate increase in your home’s value. This small, but effective upgrade will also revitalize the entire home. Pot lights are in high demand in open concept style homes.

#3 Bathroom

The bathroom is the second most important room in the home in terms of valuation. If you can add a three-piece bathroom to a home with only one full bathroom, you will see a dramatic rise in the market value of your home. While you should never compromise bedroom space for a bathroom, try sneaking one in dead space in the home. Scott managed to fit in a 3-piece bathroom under a staircase – the width of the room measured just 44 inches. As an added tip, use glass for the shower to make the bathroom feel more spacious.

#2 Kitchen

Kitchens are the single most important room in the home relating to valuation. The kitchen can make a significant difference in the value of your home. As such, it is crucial that you invest in having a modern, fresh and desirable kitchen. Modern cabinetry, under cabinet lighting and new appliances will all significantly increase the value of your home on the market. To save on cost without compromising construction and desirability, look at options like Ikea cabinets as opposed to custom cabinetry.

#1 An Income Suite

No surprise, but the single biggest way to increase the value of your home is to build an income suite within the property. Whether this is converting your basement into a rental, or another floor in the home, an income property will increase your home’s worth. The main reason for this is that it covers a portion, or sometimes all of your mortgage payments, and results in your home being cash flow positive – which creates real wealth that can supplement your income.


Source: Genworth

This Video is Worth $3500

As mortgage brokers, it is our job to provide our clients with the best product to fit their home buying needs. This includes saving them the most money possible. Our broker, Chris Turcotte, explains how making sure you get the best rate possible, can save you substantially in the long run.

Five Steps to Selling Your First Home

"For sale" real estate signBuying your first home is a big step. But selling that first home is just as big a step. While it is exciting to be moving on to another home, or a new adventure in life, there’s still a lot to consider when it comes time to sell.

I’ve talked to enough people about selling that first home to understand it can be a stressful experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Follow these basic 5 steps to selling your first home, and you’ll be well on your way.

1 – Secure pre-approval for a new mortgage. I’ve talked about the importance of gaining pre-approval before you start shopping for a home here before. Not only is it a courtesy to your real estate agent that will save the both of you countless hours, it allows you to actually shop within your means. Do this before you as soon as you know you’re serious about shopping for a new home. You won’t be sorry.

2 – It’s important to know your costs. This was true when you bought your home, and it’s still true. Factoring in costs like lawyer fees, land-transfer tax, and mortgage insurance before you close your deal with definitely save you some headache and last minute stress.

3 – Choose the right time to sell. If you feel it’s time to move, plan accordingly, and don’t just jump headfirst into the housing market. In the end, the best time of year to sell comes down to your own needs, but there is certainly an advantage to listing your home in the spring, rather than the late fall or the dead of winter. Give it some thought, and plan to sell strategically if you can.

4 – You’ve made it this far, now make sure your home is ready for sale. There are easy ways to prepare your home for showing, but you need to make sure that it’s ready for that. If you have renos you haven’t finished, get them done before listing. When you’re ready to sell, it’s time to de-clutter the inside of your home, and spruce up the outside. A few small touches here and there can go a long way to convincing a would-be buyer that your home is the just right for them.

5 – Now that your home is ready for sale, it would be ideal for you to sell your house before buying a new one. This isn’t always possible, but the benefits are that you won’t be stuck with two-mortgages if your home doesn’t sell immediately, and you won’t be faced with a tight schedule.

Of course, there are a lot of intricacies involved with selling any home, whether it’s your first or your fifth. If you have any questions about the process, and about pre-approval or costs in particular, give us a call. We’re happy to help you through buying your next home, from step one and beyond.

At CENTUM we are always Looking out for your best interest.

IMG_2894 Chris Turcotte, Owner/Broker

 Office: (204) 727-2177

 Cell: (204) 720-4002