Ask Janet: Banking questions

I bought a condo with my boyfriend in March 2006. Now my family needs me to purchase a single-family home. How do I qualify for another loan? How long do I have to wait until I get equity on the condo that I can use to buy another property?

Qualifying for another loan is a matter of demonstrating that you have the creditworthiness to take on the additional debt. That will require that you file an application with a mortgage lender, who will take into account your income and financial commitments, credit and employment history, and other factors.

As you know, one of those factors might be whether you have equity in other property. Unfortunately, if you bought that condo in March 2006, it’s unlikely that you’ve gained any equity since then. Payments on a relatively new mortgage tend to go mostly to interest, so you’ve probably not paid down much of the principal of the condo loan. Although it may be a good time to acquire more real estate while prices are depressed, you may not be in the right financial position to do so, but you won’t know without discussing your needs with a lender.

I am returning home in November 2008. Should I take all of my funds with me as traveller’s checks or should I leave them in my account and withdraw them by transfer?

Leave your money in your current account for safety. There are many ways you can access your funds now, which makes this a convenient method for banking. Go to your bank and explain your situation.

In advance of your arrival or soon after, choose the local bank you will want to use and request that your old bank wire the funds to the new bank. This process will ensure that you have access to your funds and that you can securely move your money from one bank to another with minimal risk. Another consideration may be a conversion rate if you are withdrawing U.S. dollars from one account and depositing the local currency in the new account. Your timing for the transfer and the currency rate at the time will impact the money you’ll have. You will want to do this when it is most favorable to you.

Janet James is the manager of sales and customer service at Fidelity. Janet is a 21-year veteran in the banking industry with accreditations and comprehensive experience in customer service management, Mutual Funds, SPVs and corporate administration experience. She can be reached for questions at 949-7822 ext. 2215 or at [email protected] .

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