Author Topic: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE  (Read 1965 times)

lekhaka

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A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« on: December 17, 2020, 05:01:56 PM »
Summary:

I can pay for a house in cash.
But I think it would be better to finance the payment instead.
Lenders don't like the fact that I have assets now instead of income later.

Details:

Being FIRE'd with ~1million networth, I can sell some of my stocks to buy a house, but if there were any way to finance that at like <5% interest, instead of a lump sum payment, surely that would be the better choice right? Since I expect to comfortably make more than 5% return on the unspent money while paying off the loan. Given that normal people seem to get mortgage interest rates way lower than 5% I thought this would be a piece of cake.

But after asking around a couple places, I keep getting a response of "your taxable income is too low for us to offer the mortgage". Yeah, my taxable income is low because all my investment income that is tax-sheltered doesn't get counted. My actual investment income more than covers my mustachian-lifestyle expenses and networth is growing only ever faster since I'm past the financial escape velocity. So I personally have no doubt I can pay for the loan but it seems that lenders aren't convinced. Yes, I've already told the brokers I worked with to look into mortgage programs that evaluate me based on assets more than income. They just come back saying even those programs need to see more income, and their hands are tied.

I live in Canada. Any advice from fellow mustachians on this? Is there some magic word I need to say to get them to look at me the right way? Or do I just have to wait some more years to be a multi millionaire before I can get a loan?

SwordGuy

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2020, 08:19:55 PM »
I went thru the same problem last winter here in the US.    In the US, the government buys mortgages from the lenders if they meet certain criteria.   

Most people make a living via a paycheck so that's what most lenders know.  But there are rules for what kind of assets are needed to support a mortgage of a given size.   I had to dig around on the government websites to learn the rules (a lot of very boring and detailed reading) and then set up a routine withdrawal to "provide" the necessary income according to those rules.   The lender was too clueless to tell me what to do even though I had instructed them to do so on (literally) day one of the loan process.  Once I set up the income stream their software said, "Okey-dokey!" and we moved forward with a loan.  As soon as the loan was issued and the property purchased, I shut off the routine withdrawals.   

Had I known this, I would have done this 3 months before I went looking for a house so the money would show up as routine as a paycheck in my bank statements.  Would have made my life simpler!

I'll wager that there are similar Canadian guidelines, though they may be set by each lender vs the government.

Here's an article I found looking for "asset based mortgages in Canada":

https://www.richardsmortgagegroup.ca/can-i-get-a-mortgage-canada#income


Hope this helps!

lekhaka

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2020, 11:40:16 PM »
Thanks for sharing, SwordGuy, it's very helpful. Do you happen to know the name of the rule/law that your routine withdraw had to comply to? I'd like to research that more and find the Canadian equivalent for it.

SwordGuy

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2020, 07:01:53 AM »
Thanks for sharing, SwordGuy, it's very helpful. Do you happen to know the name of the rule/law that your routine withdraw had to comply to? I'd like to research that more and find the Canadian equivalent for it.

No, I didn't see such a thing.   I don't remember the EXACT formula that the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac agencies used.   But it was in this pattern, so I expect it would be similar in Canada.  (Canada being even more sensible in general!)   So, here's an EXAMPLE formula that's NOT correct other than the concept of how it works.

Look up the value of the stocks and bonds on the last statement.   Just use 70% of that amount to account for drops in the market.    Divide the remainder by N months (36 is a vague re-memory).  That's the max you can use to support "income" for mortgage payment.   This was calculated BY ACCOUNT, not by total holdings.   

Example:  $200,000 in an account.   70% of that is $140,000.   Divide by 36 months = $3,888.88 per month the account is capable of supporting.  However, the money doesn't have to be withdrawn on a monthly basis.  It can be withdrawn quarterly, semi-annually or annually.  I had already withdrawn around $15,000 in early January, so I arranged for  another $15,000 to be auto-withdrawn every six months.   I happened to have an inherited account that's managed by a someone I had met (as opposed to some faceless person on the phone at mega-corp), so I asked them to write a letter confirming a routine withdrawal of $15,000 every six months was in effect.  Have no idea whether I could have gotten mega-corp to write such a letter.  If you have the money already showing up in your bank account regular as clockwork on a monthly basis for a couple of statements before you borrow the money, I expect the entire process would be easier.

Again, I don't remember whether it was 70% or 75% or 80%, nor do I remember whether it was 36 months or 48 or 60.    You would have to look it up anyway, as would anyone in the US as the rules could change at any time.


lekhaka

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2020, 10:50:44 PM »
Ah I see. Thanks for the details.

What makes me shake my head is the absolute inefficiency of this appraisal system. No actual business should operate on such faulty assumptions when they can calculate your actual financial risk (since they ask for your account statements, which would be sufficient information). And yet...... well I wouldn't hold my breath on any expectation that the Canadian system is any more sensible here lol.

daverobev

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2020, 09:24:37 AM »
All I've heard is "find a good mortgage broker". It's certainly possible, but the rate will likely be higher.

The banks just aren't geared up for it because it is so rare that people want to do it.

One option, depending on your ratios, would be to put most of your stocks with Interactive Brokers and then just borrow as a margin loan. But you absolutely want to make sure there is no chance of a margin call before doing so.

Wintergreen78

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2020, 08:16:05 PM »
Thanks for sharing, SwordGuy, it's very helpful. Do you happen to know the name of the rule/law that your routine withdraw had to comply to? I'd like to research that more and find the Canadian equivalent for it.

No, I didn't see such a thing.   I don't remember the EXACT formula that the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac agencies used.   But it was in this pattern, so I expect it would be similar in Canada.  (Canada being even more sensible in general!)   So, here's an EXAMPLE formula that's NOT correct other than the concept of how it works.

Look up the value of the stocks and bonds on the last statement.   Just use 70% of that amount to account for drops in the market.    Divide the remainder by N months (36 is a vague re-memory).  That's the max you can use to support "income" for mortgage payment.   This was calculated BY ACCOUNT, not by total holdings.   

Example:  $200,000 in an account.   70% of that is $140,000.   Divide by 36 months = $3,888.88 per month the account is capable of supporting.  However, the money doesn't have to be withdrawn on a monthly basis.  It can be withdrawn quarterly, semi-annually or annually.  I had already withdrawn around $15,000 in early January, so I arranged for  another $15,000 to be auto-withdrawn every six months.   I happened to have an inherited account that's managed by a someone I had met (as opposed to some faceless person on the phone at mega-corp), so I asked them to write a letter confirming a routine withdrawal of $15,000 every six months was in effect.  Have no idea whether I could have gotten mega-corp to write such a letter.  If you have the money already showing up in your bank account regular as clockwork on a monthly basis for a couple of statements before you borrow the money, I expect the entire process would be easier.

Again, I don't remember whether it was 70% or 75% or 80%, nor do I remember whether it was 36 months or 48 or 60.    You would have to look it up anyway, as would anyone in the US as the rules could change at any time.

Thanks for posting this. I havenít been working the last few years, but am planning to go back to work soon. I may buy a house. What you posted is in line with the research I had done, but it is good to see it confirmed. I was wanting to use my assets as an additional income stream, just for the purpose of the loan qualification to be sure that my DTI qualifies me for the lowest rate possible.

Iím aggravated that it is by account. Iím planning to pull my down payment from my taxable account,  but that is also the account Iíve been pulling my expenses from the last few years. Iím not going to start withdrawing from my retirement accounts, just to boost my income for the loan qualification.

I will have my income from the job, which will be enough to comfortably cover all my expenses, but Iíll need to wait either 2 months or 6 months (not sure based on my research so far) before I can count that toward a mortgage qualification.

lekhaka

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2020, 02:45:06 AM »
All I've heard is "find a good mortgage broker". It's certainly possible, but the rate will likely be higher.

The banks just aren't geared up for it because it is so rare that people want to do it.

One option, depending on your ratios, would be to put most of your stocks with Interactive Brokers and then just borrow as a margin loan. But you absolutely want to make sure there is no chance of a margin call before doing so.

Hmmm you've reminded me of this. I thought of this before when interest rates were higher. Checking again now, seems like covid got margin interests for my investment broker down to 3.7% which is reasonable! Of course the problem is that this rate isn't locked in like a mortgage. Definitely need to do more research before going this route.

Another downside to this strategy is that it enforces a low risk tolerance due to the fact that you presumably don't ever wanna be margin called on that huge debt. Probably gonna result in moving a bunch of assets into lower risk territory and therefore lower gains.

Although this got me thinking of a related contingent strategy: if you buy a house with margin debt, maybe it would be easier to refinance that into a "normal" mortgage later down the line? Maybe this is a hack to get your foot in the door? I am an absolute noob in RE (this would be my first home purchase) so I have no idea how this feasible this refinancing plan is. Veterans chime in? :)

vand

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2020, 09:24:41 AM »
This isn't really that surprising.
Banks don't really care about your assets.

They just won't underwrite a loan unless you have either self-employed or employed income.

Same here in the UK and, I imagine, everywhere.

Stasher

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2020, 11:29:07 AM »
Not gonna happen and sucks.
I am a fellow Canadian who is FIRE'd for 4 years now. I make a tiny little bit from some freelance side hustles and draw dividends from my RRSP. My expenses are extremely low so I keep my income low as no sense taking what I don't need. My wife still works but isn't a huge income. She is now at a bank working so we tried to take our mortgage there as it came up for renewal at my existing bank.

We tried everything including help from the manager to try and push the new mortage through, even said I would transfer all my retirement accounts to that bank. My mortgage owing is about 40% of the value of the house and I have a very large FU Stash as someone who has FIRE'd would. Didn't matter to them, my TDSR ratio was too high and the did not approve.

Stupid part was I think logged onto my phone banking app and renewed my current mortgage with one button click, didn't need to talk to anyone or send in any documents. So basically I won't be changing banks and will keep renewing my current mortgage. Getting a new/different home down the road will only happen when I start taking sizeable RRSP income or I sell this current home and with equity pay for new home fully in cash.

Society is really built up to keep us working
« Last Edit: December 21, 2020, 11:31:01 AM by Stasher »

lekhaka

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2020, 09:47:56 PM »
I dunno if it's a conspiracy to keep us working...I'll attribute it first to low demand. It's still stupid from a business point of view though. I think using assets as more collateral (in this case, up to full value of the loan) is clearly less risky than betting on average joe to keep his surplus income for the next 30 years.

SwordGuy

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2020, 07:42:17 PM »
Under the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, I had to convert assets into a regular income stream that gave me a qualifying income.   Just having the assets to pull from "as needed" wasn't good enough.

Now, here's the really important point.   I only needed that income stream UNTIL THE LOAN WAS APPROVED AND ISSUED.  The day after that, I could cancel my income stream and that's the end of it.

In my case, I didn't actually take out any extra money for an income stream.  I took out money to pay off a credit card I had used to fund some rental property renovations.   I just claimed that money was part of a semi-annual income stream and set up the 2nd half of the semi-annual income stream to pay out 6 months later.   The loan was finalized about 2 1/2 weeks after I withdrew the renovation repayment money and I immediately cancelled the future income stream.  (I didn't need it.)

Had I known the rules and been looking to move instead of just finding our dream home by happenstance, I would have set up a monthly income stream 2 months before I went looking for homes.   That would have given me a 2 bank statement look back to hand to the lender to review.   2-3 months later I would have found a home and gotten it financed.   At that point, I would have taken my 4-5 month's withdrawals and sent them back to Vanguard.   There's nobody checking that you actually spend that income -- I just had to have it.

I really expect the same approach would work in Canada.  The CIBC.com website refers to Gross Debt Service (GDS) and Total Debt Service (TDS), which are the ratios between your housing expense to your gross income or your total debt expenses to your income, respectively.

I wager if you learn what ratios they want to see and set them up ahead of time as I discussed earlier, you'll be most of the way there.

I found this on the same cibc.com website:

"The following are definitions of some of the sources of income specified in your application:

Employment income (gross): your income from your job, before taxes
Pension: a sum of money paid regularly as a retirement benefit
Investment: income from a property or another possession acquired for future financial return or benefit
Rental: income yielded from rental property
Bonus, commission, tips: a sum of money (or the equivalent) given to an employee in addition to the employeeís usual compensation
Disability support: a payment made to someone who has become disabled and is unable to work
Workerís Compensation: annuity payments required by law to be made to an employee who is injured or disabled in connection with work
RRIF: Registered Retirement Income Fund
Alimony, child support: a support paid by one spouse to financially support the other spouse or children
Car allowance: payment given towards transportation, usually when necessary for work"

So, they clearly recognize investment income.   There may be special rules for how much can be taken out of the account balance per year.  I haven't found that yet.   But a quick check with this calculator tells me the income requirements for someone who has no debt and makes a good sized downpayment aren't that onerous. 

https://www.cibc.com/en/personal-banking/mortgages/calculators/affordability-calculator.html

Wintergreen78

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2020, 07:51:35 PM »
Iím planning to pull cash each month to build up my down payment. Iím expecting those monthly withdrawals will qualify as an income stream.

Seadog

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2020, 08:41:51 AM »
To me it's a symptom of a broken economy when people with assets and who are demonstrably more financially responsible are regarded more negatively.

I went through the same thing at 22 trying to get a points credit card after graduating university, since I wanted to take time off to travel I hadn't even looked for a job. A mustachian since before it was a thing, I had close to 6 figures in savings due to scholarships, living at home, and several well paying engineering co-ops.

Didn't matter.

"What's the issue? Even if I max out the card, I can pay it off 15 times over. I'm not going to get a CC and then just blow through my money" as if it was the most natural thing in the world along side not cutting off my own arm. "Oh, you'd be surprised". No I wouldn't. I'm perfectly aware there are plenty of financial retards out there, but no 22 yo gets to this point unless they're good with money. Because if I was the sort to blow through $80k, I would have blown through $50k a year ago when I only had that, or 30k a couple years before that. There are two kinds of financial people out there. Those who spend less than they make and save, they basically have perpetually increasing net worths, and the opposite, who perpetually head towards zero, or if not bankruptcy. It should be obvious that I'm the former.

Didn't matter.

It was frustrating as hell that my '30k millionaire' friend with a negative net worth but a job was considered less of a financially risk than me. Finally after dealing with several people they agreed provided they could "freeze" 5k of my assets, which was fine since I needed to keep 5k in the account to avoid fees.

As a slight aside I always also found it disgusting that at least in Canada, if you put 5% down on a house, you get a better mortgage rate than if you put down 50%. The reason being that the 5% DP requires mortgage insurance, which is backed by the tax payers. It's literally a no lose deal for the bank. The fact that interest rates can be so disjointed for your ability to repay and the real risk you present is amazing.

Debt and perpetual work seems to be the name of the game, and if you don't want to play by those rules they'll try and make life hard.

SwordGuy

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2020, 06:29:20 PM »
To me it's a symptom of a broken economy when people with assets and who are demonstrably more financially responsible are regarded more negatively.

I went through the same thing at 22 trying to get a points credit card after graduating university, since I wanted to take time off to travel I hadn't even looked for a job. A mustachian since before it was a thing, I had close to 6 figures in savings due to scholarships, living at home, and several well paying engineering co-ops.

Didn't matter.

"What's the issue? Even if I max out the card, I can pay it off 15 times over. I'm not going to get a CC and then just blow through my money" as if it was the most natural thing in the world along side not cutting off my own arm. "Oh, you'd be surprised". No I wouldn't. I'm perfectly aware there are plenty of financial retards out there, but no 22 yo gets to this point unless they're good with money. Because if I was the sort to blow through $80k, I would have blown through $50k a year ago when I only had that, or 30k a couple years before that. There are two kinds of financial people out there. Those who spend less than they make and save, they basically have perpetually increasing net worths, and the opposite, who perpetually head towards zero, or if not bankruptcy. It should be obvious that I'm the former.

Didn't matter.

It was frustrating as hell that my '30k millionaire' friend with a negative net worth but a job was considered less of a financially risk than me. Finally after dealing with several people they agreed provided they could "freeze" 5k of my assets, which was fine since I needed to keep 5k in the account to avoid fees.

As a slight aside I always also found it disgusting that at least in Canada, if you put 5% down on a house, you get a better mortgage rate than if you put down 50%. The reason being that the 5% DP requires mortgage insurance, which is backed by the tax payers. It's literally a no lose deal for the bank. The fact that interest rates can be so disjointed for your ability to repay and the real risk you present is amazing.

Debt and perpetual work seems to be the name of the game, and if you don't want to play by those rules they'll try and make life hard.

I truly felt your pain last Dec/January when we worked towards getting financing for our new house after we had retired.

Dudes, look at our multiple 401K balances?  You know what the contribution limits are, so it's a mathematical guarantee we've been saving a good chunk of money for decades.   If we just had a big pile of cash in the bank it would be possible we were a lottery winner and would squander that cash in short order -- but we've literally proven we are savers.   Didn't matter.

We had enough in our accounts to buy the house for cash 3 1/2 times.   Given that we've already proven we're savers by nature,  where's the risk?    It's certainly less than some working stiff that depends on a job!   Didn't matter.

We had not set up a routine distribution from our retirement accounts -- just the required minimum distributions on 2 of the 6 retirement accounts we had that were subject to it.    So, clearly we hadn't needed any of that money to get by with.   So, clearly, we've got the ability to draw money as needed and we've shown no propensity to run out of it quickly.   Didn't matter.

I was starting on social security the same month we were getting the mortgage and that new income stream would be just a few hundred dollars less than our total mortgage payments for the year.    So, clearly, we could pay for it out of our new income.  Didn't matter.

Our only debt was our personal residence and would be sold, worst case, within a year of us moving out, which would free up almost enough to pay the new mortgage just from that.  Didn't matter.

We owned 7 other houses free and clear, and carrying costs were low even if they never rented.   Didn't matter.   Actually, this one did matter, but to the negative.   I made a point of having a paper loss each year as we refurbished a new property so this actually made it harder. 

The only thing that mattered (other than having no debt other than our current mortgage and our current income streams) was turning our assets into a large enough income stream according to the combined Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae guidelines for using assets for mortgages.   And the people I was dealing with didn't know how to do it but thankfully I looked it up and the software they used did know how.  That's what it took.

Common sense doesn't apply for the most part.   In the USA, it's the rules that matter.

jpdx

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2020, 01:57:19 AM »
The only thing that mattered...was turning our assets into a large enough income stream according to the combined Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae guidelines for using assets for mortgages.

Can you elaborate on how to execute this? I'm in the same boat, except I'm looking to to refi.

Wintergreen78

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #16 on: December 27, 2020, 10:19:21 AM »
Hereís one of the articles I found when I started looking into this. Basically, it recommends you set up regular withdrawals for a couple of months ahead of when you plan to apply for the loan. Then you can use records of those withdrawals to show ďregular incomeĒ.

https://blog.massmutual.com/post/how-to-get-a-mortgage-during-retirement

Iím planning to talk to a real estate agent soon and ask them for recommendations for mortgage brokers. Iím a couple months away from making a decision and Iím not on a fixed schedule, so Iíve got options if this approach doesnít work for me.

SwordGuy

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #17 on: December 27, 2020, 01:32:58 PM »
The only thing that mattered...was turning our assets into a large enough income stream according to the combined Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae guidelines for using assets for mortgages.

Can you elaborate on how to execute this? I'm in the same boat, except I'm looking to to refi.

The 2nd post in this thread has my link to your answer.

BicycleB

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2020, 10:25:13 PM »
Under the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, I had to convert assets into a regular income stream that gave me a qualifying income.   Just having the assets to pull from "as needed" wasn't good enough.

Now, here's the really important point.   I only needed that income stream UNTIL THE LOAN WAS APPROVED AND ISSUED.  The day after that, I could cancel my income stream and that's the end of it.

In my case, I didn't actually take out any extra money for an income stream.  I took out money to pay off a credit card I had used to fund some rental property renovations.   I just claimed that money was part of a semi-annual income stream and set up the 2nd half of the semi-annual income stream to pay out 6 months later.   The loan was finalized about 2 1/2 weeks after I withdrew the renovation repayment money and I immediately cancelled the future income stream.  (I didn't need it.)

Had I known the rules and been looking to move instead of just finding our dream home by happenstance, I would have set up a monthly income stream 2 months before I went looking for homes.   That would have given me a 2 bank statement look back to hand to the lender to review.   2-3 months later I would have found a home and gotten it financed.   At that point, I would have taken my 4-5 month's withdrawals and sent them back to Vanguard.   There's nobody checking that you actually spend that income -- I just had to have it.


I like the posts about how to show the income stream under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines! Thanks, @SwordGuy.

On topic re Canada: Good luck to the OP, let us know whether you determine you are able to show income - and why.

jpdx

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2021, 11:49:36 PM »
Hereís one of the articles I found when I started looking into this. Basically, it recommends you set up regular withdrawals for a couple of months ahead of when you plan to apply for the loan. Then you can use records of those withdrawals to show ďregular incomeĒ.

https://blog.massmutual.com/post/how-to-get-a-mortgage-during-retirement


The article (which is excellent) mentions you can use either regular withdrawals or assets to qualify. Does anyone know the pros and cons of each strategy?

Seadog

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Re: A Canadian can't get mortgage after reaching FIRE
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2021, 06:36:00 AM »

I truly felt your pain last Dec/January when we worked towards getting financing for our new house after we had retired.

Dudes, look at our multiple 401K balances?  You know what the contribution limits are, so it's a mathematical guarantee we've been saving a good chunk of money for decades.   If we just had a big pile of cash in the bank it would be possible we were a lottery winner and would squander that cash in short order -- but we've literally proven we are savers.   Didn't matter.

We had enough in our accounts to buy the house for cash 3 1/2 times.   Given that we've already proven we're savers by nature,  where's the risk?    It's certainly less than some working stiff that depends on a job!  Didn't matter.

We had not set up a routine distribution from our retirement accounts -- just the required minimum distributions on 2 of the 6 retirement accounts we had that were subject to it.    So, clearly we hadn't needed any of that money to get by with.   So, clearly, we've got the ability to draw money as needed and we've shown no propensity to run out of it quickly.   Didn't matter.

I was starting on social security the same month we were getting the mortgage and that new income stream would be just a few hundred dollars less than our total mortgage payments for the year.    So, clearly, we could pay for it out of our new income.  Didn't matter.

Our only debt was our personal residence and would be sold, worst case, within a year of us moving out, which would free up almost enough to pay the new mortgage just from that.  Didn't matter.

We owned 7 other houses free and clear, and carrying costs were low even if they never rented.   Didn't matter.   Actually, this one did matter, but to the negative.   I made a point of having a paper loss each year as we refurbished a new property so this actually made it harder. 

The only thing that mattered (other than having no debt other than our current mortgage and our current income streams) was turning our assets into a large enough income stream according to the combined Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae guidelines for using assets for mortgages.   And the people I was dealing with didn't know how to do it but thankfully I looked it up and the software they used did know how.  That's what it took.

Common sense doesn't apply for the most part.   In the USA, it's the rules that matter.

I once had that exact conversation with a prospective landlord. "What? You don't have a job?" they said with a with a raised brow and the side eye. "Am I missing something? That's a good thing isn't it? Someone with a job needs the money, and could lose it. How would they pay the rent? Someone who doesn't have a job has to have their money making days largely behind them, and must be more or less set for life."