Calgary Area Manager for Mortgage Specialists with BMO
Laura Parsons is the Calgary area manager for mortgage specialists with Bank of Montreal. She recently took some time to chat with CREBNow about how oil prices have affected the lending market, what borrowers should know about low rates and what the Calgary Stampede means to the city.
CN: How has the current economic climate, particularly in oil-rich Alberta, affected the lending market?
LP: I understand that it has caused some concern to certain clients, but people are managing through this. This is a cyclical event and if you look back you will see we have managed through this in the past. Alberta has other industries –lumber, agriculture, tourism – and attracts our fair share of immigration. We are known to have the highest incomes in Canada.
Households have savings and have made a concerted effort to reduce debt. And the low interest rates have supported quicker repayment of debt. We encourage renters to get on the Getting Started Program where we help you establish a price range, review your spending and get you on a strategy to help address any concerns – one being we get you used to a mortgage payment while you save for your down payment.
CN: What should borrowers know about low rates?
LP: Understand your mortgage and the benefits of the low rate. In a lot of cases, a mortgage payment is equal or just above what most are paying in rent.
Ask lots of questions as it is more important to know and understand the long-term effect of your choices. This is the biggest purchase of your life, and you need to know all your options and programs available to you.
CN: Best tip when picking a mortgage? When picking a lender?
LP: Seeking advice from a skilled mortgage specialist that will provide guidance and is knowledgeable on what is available from government programs, programs offered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Genworth and CGI to our own products. Know the programs available to you. Ask questions, get a second opinion, read your documents and don’t sign anything until you fully understand everything.
CN: What, if anything, do you think is Calgary’s best-kept secret?
LP: Calgary is still such a friendly place and we have so many green spaces with a view of the mountains. I love that we have special areas in Calgary that highlight culture.
The arts and our hospitality during Stampede is very special in that the city comes together to celebrate our history and we share that spirit with our guests. Many of my out-of-towners have confirmed that we have so much to offer a visitor and they feel so welcome here in Calgary.