Click to Watch/Read Interview With Jen Whightman – Kelowna Mortgage Broker

Jody Miller: A great day to be here with Jenn Wightman mortgage broker extraordinaire. She’s actually done a mortgage for me, did a fantastic job. She’s done a mortgage for multiple mortgages for a lot of my clients. They’ve always liked her. They said she does really good work. She’s kind of on top of all the details and easy to work with. So, I thought it’d be a good time to talk to her about mortgages, borrowing money, how it works. So, Jenn Wightman thanks for coming in today. 

Jenn Wightman: Thanks for having me.

Jody Miller: Kind of fun to talk to you and right from the start, I guess like the word mortgage broker, what is that? What does a mortgage broker — kind of give us a little bit overview of what that is and what you do for people?

Jenn Wightman: So, mortgage brokers are independent, licensed people like myself and we help clients find the best lenders and rates for them. You don’t represent one specific lender or bank. We have a variety that we use and choose from depending on each person’s needs.

Jody Miller: Okay. So, that’s what’s always been helpful for me dealing with Jenn especially there’s times like as an independent contractor because I’m not working at sunrise or working for a mill. It’s a little bit harder to qualify. There’s a lot of paperwork that they want, Jenn will say to me, I need all this paperwork. I’ll send her all the documents or I’ll even get my accountant to send them to her because he’s already got everything on file. And then she’ll call me and say, yeah, we’ve got everything you need. Here’s what you can qualify to spend. So, the next thing is for us to be kind of outside of the box and we’re not going to just check all these boxes. Jenn’s going to find the right lender for us, right?

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. Every bank or lender has their own set of guidelines or a box that they want their clients to fit within. And so a mortgage broker can sort of step back, look at all the boxes and find the one that’s best for you, where you fit because not every lender is going to give you an approval. It’s just the nature of the way it is.

Jody Miller: Yeah. Well, it’s been good working with you. You’ve been say here’s some options. So, working with this lender, working on this mortgage, here’s what your payments are going to be. When was it rental property? So, you’re actually able to get like kind of specific to a rental property. I don’t know exactly how it was structured, but I mean, the lender liked it and it was good for me too, right?

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. And especially in a situation like a rental property, everyone handles rents like incoming rent differently. So, some handle it more favorably and which can help you qualify for more.

Jody Miller: One thing we’ve talked about a little bit back and forth, just the word approval pre-approvals hasn’t come up yet, but I think we should talk to it. So, when people are getting approved, they’re not necessarily like just able to go buy a place right away. It just means they’re in good standing to purchase, but with a pre-approval there’s more to it. So Jenn, can you speak to that preapproval and tell us a little bit about what that is.

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. So, I think pre-approvals are a bit misleading because people think, oh, I’m pre-approved I can go buy anything in that price range.

Jody Miller: So, you can’t?

Jenn Wightman: You can’t. But I think a better term would be pre-qualification. So, 50% of any mortgage application would be you as an individual or a couple of whomever is applying for the mortgage and then 50% of that is the property. So, we can pre-qualify you based on your income and all of your documentation for a certain mortgage amount, but there’s an unknown when we do a prequalification, which is what house are you going to make an offer on? So, once you have made an offer on a property, then we can look at the whole package together because I’ve had lots of situations where our lender would be like, yes, we’re happy to lend a mortgage to this specific person, not necessarily on property.

Jody Miller: And is there some reasons why the property wouldn’t work out? So, I mean, my understanding is I want to buy a house, I’m approved to spend X amount of dollars. Why would it not work out? Like what would the issue be that they don’t want to lend on that property?

Jenn Wightman: And there’s so many, it could be anything, it could be zoning. It could be a structural issue, a foundation issue. It could be a previous grow-up. I don’t want to say that.

Jody Miller: Yeah. And something that like, I know, like you would see this quite often and even back and forth, and we do deals on strata properties. So, specifically on condos, there’s a lot that goes into them. The maintenance is there money into contingency reserve fund, all these different factors. And sometimes they’re like a pending lawsuit or litigation against that property. So, those are things I know when we’re doing a mortgage application or when we’re doing a approval on a purchase and you’re dealing with the mortgage, you’ll actually ask me for the form B letter and sometimes for like meeting [inaudible 00:04:17] and everything. So, who wants those and why would that impact being able to buy or not buy?

Jenn Wightman: So yeah, every lender wants to review strata documentation and that’s just to ensure that strata is being run well. So, they want to make sure that there’s not some unforeseen repair that needs to be done on the building. And there’s not funds in the reserve for it, because if there isn’t, that could mean a big cost to each homeowner which may or may not be able to come up with the funds to do a larger current property.

Jody Miller: Right on. And that’s probably what I’ve always seen in what we understand that kind of what we’re getting at here is, the bank wants to like what they’re lending the money on. And if they don’t like it and they go, Hey, we might not be able to sell this. This could be an issue. This could have some long-term problems. If there’s even contamination on a big site, on an acreage, whatever it is. Or it could just be a house where they have some issues because there was an oil tank, it doesn’t matter. They want to know that they’re happy to lend on that. And until we have that subject satisfied, we’ve got to know that the bank has given it like a go ahead or a stamp of approval. So, is that ultimately what the preapproval is like, there’s the person and there’s the property. 

Jenn Wightman: Definitely. Yeah. So, prequalification, we’re really only looking at the person. So, there’s a big unknown, which is the property. And we can say you’re qualified for this, but we can’t get you an actual approval until you have an accepted offer and if the bank has reviewed everything.

Jody Miller: So, talking about approvals, pre-approvals, properties, all that type of stuff. I guess the big thing in here is when people are going to be buying something, they’re going to meet with a mortgage broker, with a banker, with the lender, or whoever’s representing the lender, which could be Jenn in this case. When is the right time for them to meet with you? Do you want to be like very far in advance or just right before they want to buy as a couple of weeks enough? When is the best time for them to actually sit down with you and talk about getting their approval in place?

Jenn Wightman: So, I think it’s never too early to plan. So, I’d say as soon as you are ready or seriously considering looking for a property, that would be a good time to get a pre-approval. Sometimes we don’t know where we stand, you’re going to want to buy a house is that now, is that two years from now? It’s a good time to sit down and make a plan and have a path to get you your first homework to get you with the property that you want.

Jody Miller: Yeah, for sure. And on that path, I mean, I’ve had clients who it’s like a yellow brick road. They just walked down it and they buy a house. It’s all done in a matter of weeks and everything’s super easy. There’s other people, they find out their credit isn’t very good. Maybe there’s some other things they need to save up some money. There’s other stuff they need to deal with before they can actually purchase. Or maybe they haven’t been at their job long enough and they just need to have that job for one year before they can actually, is that right? Like what does somebody need in terms of job letters, things like that?

Jenn Wightman: So, again every job is different and it’s specific to your income. So, if you’re getting overtime and bonuses, a good rule of thumb is a two year average. If you have a pretty straight salary job, it’s really just as long as you’re not on probation, we can make it work. If you’re self-employed, you’re going to need a two year average. So, it’s all very specific to the individual, but two years is a good benchmark I would say, but we can, a lot of times do a much better.

Jody Miller: Okay. So, the sooner the better to met with Jenn, if you’re thinking about buying at some point, I mean, it could be two years out. She’s happy to meet with you and just get things started. The main thing I think people that I meet and especially with some people that are kind of embarrassed is they just have a poor credit rating or they think they do. They don’t really know for sure, but they’ve been delinquent on some of their bills. Maybe they had some issues in the past with paying the loans. The ideal thing is meet with Jenn. They’re not going to judge you because they see credit all day every day, they see people with three leased vehicles and it cost them $3,000 just in vehicle payments. Like you see that type of stuff all the time, right? But you can guide them as to what to do to be in a better place.

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. No, I think that like we’ve seen it all. There’s absolutely no judgment. And a lot of times it’s credit [brews? 00:08:00] for very reasonable reasons, a breakdown of a relationship or illness or loss of job. So yeah, we can absolutely guide anyone who has some brews credit on where it needs to be and tips and steps we can give them, to get them where it needs to be so they can buy a house.

Jody Miller: Awesome, so you’re more like, I would say almost more of a consultant where you can work on the big picture. If they’re not ready to buy it tomorrow, you can get them in a place where they will be ready to buy in the future maybe it’s the near future. Maybe it’s a few years away, but you’ll give them a path.

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. I find, especially with most clients I meet with who aren’t sure it’s the unknown, right? I don’t know. Are we ever going to qualify for a mortgage? And it’s so overwhelming. And then I usually find, once we sit down and we’ve gone through everything and they have a path, it’s like, whoa, this is a lot better than we thought. I would say, most people will leave feeling it’s better than they thought. I mean, because there’s a plan. As soon as you have a plan it’s more manageable.

Jody Miller: Yeah. And that’s what I find most of the time is when my clients meet with a banker and meet with the broker, they come away they’re more excited because they feel like, okay, we’ve done step one. We have that pre-qualification in place. Now let’s go look at the property. So, the market right now has been so busy so hot, at least for the last six months, if not the last few years minus a couple of glitches here and there. People just want to be very aggressive and get the house and if there’s a multiple offer, they don’t want to have to compete. They want to just say, here’s my best offer. We’re going to go in with no subjects. We’re going to make a cash offer. And that’s okay if you have the cash. And hopefully if you’ve done your due diligence ahead of time, but what are your thoughts, Jenn? I mean, if somebody wants to do that, they’re borrowing money. What do you think about somebody actually doing a cash offer? A no subject offer when they do need financing?

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. So, I don’t recommend that ever. And I think for reasons we’ve already spoke about because half of it is the property. So, I always tell clients, unless you’re fully prepared to pay cash for the property, you need to have a subject for financing. Because no matter how strong your income is, how much you have saved at the end of the day, if the bank isn’t a fan of the property or there’s something in the strata documents, or there’s something that they’re unwilling to lend on, you could be in a situation where you’ve given a deposit and are on the hook and you have to come up with the cash.

Jody Miller: So, when you start thinking about buying a house, you’re probably going to be online. You’re going to be in your bank. You’re going to see rates that are posted all the time. They’re going to be low. Some are a little bit higher. Some might be a variable, some are a fixed rate. There’s all these different details, but you’ll see these low rates. And I just assume there’s probably a few banks that you would recommend people deal with or is there one bank that offers the best rates?

Jenn Wightman: No, I, I think it’s not one size fits all mortgages.

Jody Miller: I knew that I just wanted to ask the question. Clearly there’s lots of lenders out there and yeah.

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. And there’s lots of lenders out there. Not all mortgages are created equal. There’s so many parts of a mortgage and in terms of a mortgage that you want to make sure you have the one that’s the best fit for you and not necessarily the lowest rate. I mean, obviously we want to have the lowest rate and that’s what we’re all shopping for. But sometimes the lowest rate that you see online is a very restricted mortgage and you can’t get out of it for five years and things change in five years. A lot of things change, transfer of a job or relationship changes, whatever. So, I think you want to make sure that whatever mortgage you’re getting, you fully understand the terms and conditions of it. And not just look at the one number. I think that that’s where if you put your blinders on, you can get yourself into some sticky situations.

Jody Miller: Definitely. And that’s what I’ve seen is people will go in myself, included at a very low rate. It’s good if you don’t plan on moving, but as soon as something changes, if you want to get over that mortgage, the penalty can be big, like really big. Or if you have cash back mortgage, you can be on the hook to repay all that cash even if you’re only two days out of the five-year term. So, yeah just know what you’re getting into and that’s where your mortgage broker or your banker is really going to go through all the details and tell you why it’s a good fit or maybe what your options might be that you want to look at. So, talking about mortgage rates and just mortgage details, probably the two most common words are going to be fixed rate or variable rate. There’s a couple other words, but when you hear fixed and variable fixed just means that you’re going to be on a fixed term for a certain amount of time usually five years. Variable means the rate can change. Can you speak to that a little bit more Jenn, just tell us what variable of fixed and how that one might work better for someone else?

Jenn Wightman: So, there’s fixed and variable rates and then there’s like a fixed close terms. So, both the fixed and variable rate can be a closed five-year term. So, the term wouldn’t change, but the rate would. So if you locked in, let’s say 2.35% right now that would be your rate as a five-year fixed. Or you can have a variable, which is based on the banks prime lending rate and it can fluctuate. So, they both have their pros and cons. There’s not one that’s better than the other. It really depends on you and your situation.

Jody Miller: Yeah. With fixed a variable like personally, I’ve just always done fixed because it’s easy. I know my payment. I don’t think about it. If the rates go up or down, that’s just what I’ve decided. You know what? I’ve got a low rate. I’m good with it. I do know all kinds of people. They watch everything very carefully or they might be in touch with their broker regularly and they want to make sure that they’re paying the least amount of interest. It doesn’t matter. They just want to be on that variable. And if rates start to go up, they can talk to you about locking in. Is that right? 

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. So, I think that the great thing about fixed is sort of what you said. You can set it and forget it. You can pick your five-year rate and you don’t have to think about it again for five years until your mortgage comes up for renewal. Variable is a little bit different and it can adjust with the change in prime rates. And that means your payment can adjust. So, for cashflow purposes, if you want to know what your payment’s going to be for five years, and you don’t want to have to think about it and it’s not going to change, fixed is sort of your jam. But if you’re watching things and you’re on top of rates and you’re paying attention to what’s going on, variable is a great option. And I think long-term, you can save some money with variable, but there is a little bit of risk with it too. So, there’s no right answer.

Jody Miller: Yeah. That’s great. And talking about kind of long-term saving money. The best thing that you can do for yourself is just to get yourself in a position to pay your mortgage down quicker. Some people that might go from 24 years to 22 years, some people have done it in 15 that I know, there’s a lot of ways to do it, but ultimately it’s a pretty simple thing to do. So, can you speak to us about just how you could pay that mortgage down faster?

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. There’s lots of ways to do it. The easiest is to make prepayments so like a lump sum payment on your mortgage and every mortgage has prepayment privileges we call them. So, you can put down a certain amount every year. You can also increase your payment frequency to like a bi-weekly payment, which means you end up making an additional months worth of payments every year, just based on 26 payments or you can increase your payment amount. So, even just bumping your payment up amount by a hundred dollars that a hundred dollars is going right against principal and just eating down at the length of your mortgage amortization.

Jody Miller: And as much as I think that it’s a great idea to pay your mortgage off sooner or earlier, there’s other people, I think the opposite and because their rates are low, they’re paying very low interest. They want to use that money towards investments. They might want to put that money towards buying another rental property. Everybody has a different idea of what they want to do with their money, but if you want to pay your mortgage off quicker, there’s ways to do it and you’ll barely notice it. One of the most satisfying things for myself, I’m sure for Jenn too, is just working with people who haven’t bought a house before, known as first time home buyers. And when you’re working with those people, it’s just exciting because maybe it’s somebody like a newlywed couple, a single guy who’s been working at north saving his money, just wants to buy a property for the first time. It’s awesome when you can give them the keys to the house and they’re like in the market. But before they meet with me, it makes more sense than a first time home buyer sits down, meets with someone like Jenn with their bank and just knows how much can they spend, what are the details of the mortgage? And can they even get a mortgage? So, it makes sense that a buyer’s going to meet with you first before they meet with me?

Jenn Wightman: Yeah, definitely. I love working with first time home buyers too. It’s exciting. Buying a first home was exciting. I mean, we’ve been there and there’s nothing like that excitement. And I think it’s also scary. It’s like the biggest purchase of your life and it can be very scary. And I think that’s the great thing about a broker and that’s something I love about it is I can really walk you through it. And like first time home buyers, like, do I get more questions? A hundred percent. Am I getting texts at nine o’clock at night as they’re like laying in bed going like, what about this? For sure I do. And I feel like that’s the level of service that we can give because I’m not walking away from my desk at five o’clock. And I can answer your questions when they’re on your mind. And yeah, I love that part of the process and I feel like I get the best feedback from clients who are first time home buyers feeling like I understand it. Thank you. You really helped guide me through it.

Jody Miller: Yeah. And that’s ditto. I mean, definitely where I feel. It’s just we’re dealing with them a lot. We do get a lot of late night texts and emails and all the rest, but at the end of the day you’re just making sure that they’re comfortable and that they’re in a good place that they want to move forward with everything. I don’t know if this would come up to anybody, but I mean, one thing that people are wondering, like how does a mortgage broker get paid? If they’re going to go to the bank and they’re going to borrow money, they’re not really worried about how the banker gets paid, but because you’re going to meet with them, there’s going to be a fair bit of time involved. I believe that the lender actually is going to pay you when it’s all done?

Jenn Wightman: Yeah, I get that question quite a bit. And I think it’s because you don’t know, right. You’re engaging my services. You probably get the same thing like, do I have to pay you when I’m shopping with a realtor? So yes, it’s no cost to the clients. Obviously not approved credit unless we have to go to like a private lender, but the banks and lenders pay mortgage brokers just based on a finder’s fee. So, it’s not reflected in your rate. It really has no impact on you as a buyer. 

Jody Miller: Okay. No, that’s interesting. And that’s the best thing. I mean, whether you’re first time home buyer or you bought 10 houses before, or you just haven’t bought in quite a while because you’ve been in the same home for 20 years, you can meet with us, consult with us and we’ll just help you get it set in the right direction and answer your questions so that when the time is right, you can make your move and do it relatively easily because your funds and everything will be ready to go.

Jenn Wightman: Yeah. And I think by meeting with us ahead and having everything set up, it makes it go much more smoothly. I mean, no one likes, so we’ve made an offer now we’re going to meet with a banker or a mortgage broker and that’s when things get really tense and stressful because you’re trying to do it all very quickly. 

Jody Miller: Yeah, yeah. Be prepared. Have your offer include a financing subject unless you’re prepared to pay cash. That’s probably the big thing that we’ve learned. And when you do sit down with Jenn, she’ll talk a little bit more detail about the words that we talked about today, whether it’s amortization, fixed rate, variable, you might not pick it all up from this video, but when you do talk to her, she can actually show you how that works in person. So, I’m glad everybody was here to watch the video with us.

Jenn Wightman: Thanks for having me. 

Jody Miller: Yeah. No, it’s fun. Jenn is always fun to meet with. So take the time to sit down with her, grab a coffee, and I think she’ll help you out.


Jody Miller

Personal Real Estate Corporation

Royal LePage Kelowna

Independently Owned & Operated


1-1890 Cooper Road,

Kelowna, BC, V1Y 8B7

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