If there's one headline that's dominated the negative news stories of the past several years it's been the price of housing in Vancouver. As the markets become less affordable, more and more families have hitched their wagons south (not west), and made a home in Sunny Tsawwassen.
Lisa Manwaring, a mortgage broker in Tsawwassen for the past 15 years and owner of the local Southwest Mortgage franchise, says there are still great deals to be had here.
"It's an interesting time in that we're seeing young families who, two years ago, said 'we're never going to leave our townhome.' Now a detach is within their realm."
With single-family homes dropping in price due to new federal rules brought into place to restrict purchases from foreign buyers, a dual-income household can still get into the market, adds Lisa.
But even if you can't afford a detached home, there are plenty of multi-family options, condos and townhomes which are all still quite competitive and affordable.
Finding the place you want to live isn't always the hard part. Securing the financing to buy the property is often the tricky part. That's where a certified mortgage broker comes into play.
"Our job is to shop the market for you," says Lisa. "We save you a lot of time and money."
One big misconception is that brokers work for the banks. Most don't. They work with lenders, which include banks, to find the best possible rate. Lisa says one of the main reasons banks work so closely with brokers is that the banks know that mortgage brokers are the most affordable way to secure borrowers.
"We're always going to act in the best interest of the client. We know what the best rate is. You don't have to play the old car salesman game."
Lisa says it's not just about the best interest rates either. Each property or home is unique and the opportunity for each client is unique. Mortgage brokers have access to lenders beyond the big banks and can secure loans for people in a variety of financial circumstances.
"You can be self-employed. You can own a float home. You can get leased land. Don't give up because a bank said no. There's somebody else out there who can help you out."
If you've been turned down by a bank, that may be because of new rules handed down by the federal government that came into effect in January of this year. Commonly refered to as a "stress test," the rules require banks to ensure buyers can manage a minimum qualifying rate equal to or greater than the Bank of Canada's five-year benchmark rate or their contractual rate, plus two percentage points.
This type of lending changes were put into effect to ensure the housing market does not experience a downturn as borrowers default on rising interest rates.
With 16 years experience as a banker before she began her career in mortgages, Lisa has a good deal of knowledge on how banks work. She may have stayed in the banking industry, but in 2003 she became a mother for the first time.
"That's what brought me to brokering, simply because I needed a job with a lot more flexible hours. I didn't want to do the banker's house with a baby at home."
A resident of Tsawwassen since she was a child, Lisa is happy living and working in a small community. Although her business is getting people to move here, she's not surprised the town remains a hidden gem.
"Tsawwassen is a neat little place. I think what keeps people from coming here is they assume it's so far away. But this is a really cool community. We've got beachfront here, great schools, great parks. There's still that small town feel here. This is a lovely place to raise a family."
Southwest Mortgage is located at Unit 2, 1359 56th Street, across from View Crescent. Continue under the building arch and find outdoor parking on the curve, or underground parking behind The Waterford.