We’ve been home owners for 12 years. After being long-time renters in Toronto, we followed up our wedding with the predictable purchase of our first house.
It was a 1,200 square-foot semi-detached in an up-and-coming neighbourhood. It didn’t have a driveway, parking or closets — the house was built in the 1920s, after all — but it had good bones, a quaint backyard and a huge mulberry tree that bloomed beautifully every summer and gave us deep purple berries.
Then it became home to our firstborn child.
There are a lot of memories tied up in that little house. It was our first real taste of adult responsibility. Our first baby nursery. The K Man’s first steps. There was DIY decorating. There were dinner parties.
It was ours and we loved it.
But figuring out how to budget for home ownership and the road to mortgage approval was a huge wake-up call. We knew, literally, nothing.
Down payment — how much would we need? CMHC insurance — what’s that? How much could we afford each month? What are the advantages of fixed and variable mortgages? Amortiza-huh?
So many questions. And I’m hella grateful we started asking them long before we fell in love with a dream house that was simply out of our price range.
Thankfully, we had very involved parents and friends who’d already taken the mortgage plunge. Turning to friends and family for financial advice was just step one; we knew we needed to rely heavily on professionals to help us seal the deal.
But when our bank told us we could afford a house in the $575k+ range (this was A LOT back in 2007 and would have gotten us a detached home in a pretty decent neighbourhood in Toronto), I froze with fear.
When we finally whittled down what that could mean in monthly mortgage payments — even spread across a 30-year period — it was so astronomical that I still break out into a cold sweat just thinking about what that number would have meant at the time: no more Sunday morning brunches, no more random shopping sprees and certainly no more holidays for the foreseeable future.
Looking for answers, I turned to a “How Much Can I Borrow?” calculator. We didn’t bank with Tangerine back then at all (it wasn’t even called Tangerine yet, in fact!), but I found this tool through a quick online search, and it was so enormously helpful that it led me straight to the mortgage calculator.
These two tools were the single-most important pieces of information we used in our house hunt.
I think it’s really important to pause briefly right now and reiterate that THIS IS A TRUE STORY. No kidding — we legitimately used these very tools wayyyy back in 2007 and they were the foundation of our first mortgage!
That mortgage, my friends, was nowhere near $575k, either. When the tools did the math for us, we very quickly figured out that we were much more comfortable in the $350k range because maintaining our lifestyle was really important.
And that’s when we started looking and ultimately found our first home. That darling semi with the mulberry tree in the back.
I’d be lying if I said those two handy tools didn’t give Tangerine an edge. In the end, it was top-of-mind when we finally needed a mortgage. The simplicity of having a tech-friendly, always-on option for this self-sufficient control freak who worked long hours and needed flexibility was also a definite plus. Having one of the most competitive interest rates in the market helped, too, of course.
Since Tangerine is a digital bank, you don’t need to set up appointments at a branch to meet with anyone, and there’s always someone available to you to answer questions around the clock. (But, hey…for those of you who still want face-to-face meetings, there are Tangerine Cafés in key markets across Canada where you can access experts in person.) Tangerine Café associates can also put you directly in touch with a Mortgage specialist.
Whenever we needed customer support, Tangerine was there — at our convenience, 24/7 — on the phone or through an online chat with a real human. For mortgage guidance or help, you can speak directly with a Mortgage specialist Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-568-2190.
Did you know…?
- A Tangerine mortgage rate is guaranteed for 120 days. Plus, if Tangerine posted rates change during the 120 days, you automatically get the lower rate
- You’ll get dedicated support. Once you’ve applied, you get a personalized Mortgage Account Manager to help you every step of the way
- There are flexible prepayment options. Each year you can make lump-sum prepayments for up to 25 per cent of your original mortgage amount and increase your regular payments by up to 25 per cent of your original mortgage payment. On any payment date!
- Your Tangerine mortgage is portable. If you happen to move, you can take your mortgage with you penalty-free at your current rate, term and loan amount, as long as the mortgage amount stays the same (I can vouch for this firsthand)
- You’re in safe hands with a Tangerine mortgage. In the event of a life change, for example: if ever you need to refinance to get more money out, if you require a lower payment or if you need to port your mortgage but need a higher amount, Tangerine can blend your mortgage rate to avoid a penalty
Still looking for more mortgage info?
Tangerine has a helpful “borrowing” section on its Forward Thinking blog, with dedicated articles specific to bigger purchases — like home-buying — that you might want to poke through.
If this is your first home purchase, you probably have MANY more questions. My advice is to talk to your trusted loved ones, use the online calculators, be realistic about what you can afford, and then call in the pros at a financial institution to talk you through the rest.
Happy home hunting!
DISCLAIMER: Tangerine compensated me for this post. All anecdotes and opinions are my own. With more than two million Clients and close to $40 billion in total assets, Tangerine is Canada’s leading direct bank and it empowers Canadians to make smarter decisions with their money.