Until recently, homeowners looked forward to renewing their mortgages as they were likely renewing at a lower rate and had several financial institutions competing for their business.
Consumers were negotiating from a position of power knowing they could leave without penalty if their demands were not met.
This is no longer the case as much of the negotiating power has shifted back to the financial institutions due to the expansion of the mortgage stress test.
When your mortgage is up for renewal, your financial institution will mail a letter stating the new term and interest rate of your mortgage. In most cases, you are not subject to the mortgage stress test and are simply signing the letter to renew your mortgage — easy.
The downside to signing the renewal letter is that you are giving up your ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, if a competitor offers you a better rate you want to accept, you will be subject to the stress test to re-qualify for your mortgage.
As of January 1, 2018, all home buyers, regardless of the size of their down payment are subject to the stress test. The purpose of the test is to assess a buyers’ ability to afford mortgage payments at higher interest rates.
Borrowers must qualify based on the greater of Bank of Canada qualifying rate or your contracted rate plus two per cent. It’s a federal initiative, so only banks must follow the new rules. However most provincial-run financial institutions, such as credit union, have voluntarily adopted the stress test’s higher standards.
If you fail the stress test, you will not be able to move your mortgage and will have to accept the rate your existing lender is offering. If you are confident that you can pass the mortgage stress test, go ahead and shop around.
Gather all of the competing offers and request your current lender match the rate and/or conditions. If they are unable to so, consider moving your mortgage if the discrepancy is large enough and the new lender is willing to absorb most of the start-up costs.
I would also suggest you speak to a mortgage broker as he or she can determine the competitiveness of your renewal offer and your likelihood of passing the stress test.
If it is determined that you can pass the stress test, a broker will lay out the various options so that you are able to make an informed decision.
My top 5 tips for someone renewing their mortgage:
I am often asked what term and type of mortgage I would recommend.
When rates were declining, my product of choice was a variable mortgage. However last year, as rates began to rise, I locked into a fixed seven-year mortgage. This was the right choice for me, but everyone’s circumstances are different, so find a good broker who can walk you through all your options.
This was our third property purchase and we have been using Harry’s expertise on all occasions with our mortgage needs. We have found Harry very professional, very thorough and when needed very discreet. He was able to put in action a plan that enabled us to improve our situation. He is non-judgmental and is able to make you feel comfortable and confident. He was very accurate with his paperwork and most importantly he did what he promised at all times.
Thank you again, Harry & Simran, you went above & beyond to help my parents and sister to secure a mortgage at an incredibly low rate. Your knowledge, along with your compassion and patience is above & beyond anyone else. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Harry is outstanding. He was responsive to our needs, he worked hard & fast on a time-crunch! We live in Shelburne and getting the paperwork to them and having to deal with the over the phone was extremely easy and he even came to a place of our convenience to get the paperwork signed. He got us an excellent rate and we are very pleased. If you are looking for someone to help with your mortgage he is your guy!
I am very pleased to write this note in appreciation of what Harry did for me recently. He struck me as a professional who is very knowledgeable and very resourceful. He was very helpful right from the time of our initial contact. I was having difficulty getting a mortgage due to my bruised credit but he reassured me that there is always a way. He’s very warm and friendly and this combined with his professionalism made me very comfortable and less anxious. The mortgage was approved without any difficulty or obstacles. During the process, he was always there, available 24/7 for any questions. Harry is a one-stop shop for anyone shopping for a mortgage.
Harry’s expertise, professionalism and exceptional customer service made my refinancing process timely and efficient. I had a fairly new job and had a challenging credit, Harry consistently provided me great advice on how I can bring up my score. Even after all this he made the deal happen with an A lender! I believe anyone who uses his services will quickly see the value he provides to his customers.