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Your Inside Scoop on Canadian Mortgages and Lenders

We’ve done the leg work regarding the top Canadian mortgage lenders to give you the inside scoop to make mortgage shopping in this tricky market easy-peasy.

What is a Mortgage?

A mortgage is a type of loan often given by a lender to a borrower to buy a home or other property. Since the loan is secured against the property, it allows the lender to take possession of the property if the borrower defaults on the loan (doesn’t repay the loan on time). Normally, a mortgage is a loan for a large dollar amount and is paid off over many years.

What is a Mortgage Lender?

Mortgage lenders are institutions or people providing loans to buy or sell properties. Mortgage lenders require approvals that differ depending on the institution. There are various types of financial institutions that may act as mortgage loan holders with differing regulatory requirements. Mortgage loan conditions are established by borrowers’ credit history, employment ratio, and debt-to-income ratio.

Let’s Review Mortgage Basics

Interest rates are the percentage that the borrower pays to their lender for the privilege of borrowing their money.

An amortization period is a process of spreading out a loan into a series of fixed payments. The loan is paid off at the end of the payment schedule.

Scheduled payments otherwise known as fixed payments are the monthly payments required that are listed individually by month for the length of the loan.

Principal repayment comes after the interest charges are applied; it’s the remainder of the payment goes toward paying off the actual monies borrowed. Often called the mortgage principal or principal amount, this is the amount borrowed whether through a conventional mortgage lender in Canada, online mortgage lenders, a private lender, or other mortgage lenders.

Interest expenses can be defined as a portion of each scheduled payment going toward interest. This is calculated by multiplying your remaining loan balance by your monthly interest rate.

A mortgage application form with a calculator and pen.


Unlike mortgage banks that lend directly to the applicant, mortgage brokers act as intermediaries between applicants and potential lenders and can be trusted. A mortgage broker can offer advice and guidance on loan types.

A licensed mortgage broker is a cornerstone of the mortgage industry and often has relationships with one or more mortgage lenders. They differ from mainstream financial institutions who generally have mortgage advisors in that they have a wider assortment of mortgage lenders and alternative lenders as opposed to being able to offer only the bank’s catalogue of products as is the case with a mortgage advisor. This allows mortgage brokers to obtain unique rates and solutions that otherwise wouldn’t exist for a few applicants. A mortgage broker is generally paid their commission after borrowers and lenders enter into an agreement.

Fixed Rate Mortgages, fixed mortgage or FRM, is a type of mortgage where the interest rate remains constant for the entire term of the mortgage; This is unlike variable mortgages. However, similar to variable rate mortgages, with fixed mortgage rates the monthly payments remain the same for the entire period of the loan.

An adjustable-rate mortgage or ARM, as opposed to fixed mortgage rates, is a loan with an interest rate that will fluctuate over the lifespan of the loan reflecting changes in the current interest rates. Payments made by the borrower will change periodically, should the interest rates rise or fall.

A variable rate mortgage or variable mortgages are the ones in which the interest rate to which the borrower, regardless of which of the mortgage lenders in Canada that you chose, is subject may change periodically during the term of the mortgage. Unlike a fixed mortgage, with variable mortgage rates, the borrower’s monthly payment will remain the same. With variable mortgage rates, a borrower could end up paying more or less towards the principal of your mortgage depending on the interest rates.

CMHC stands for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and it is a Crown corporation. According to National Housing Act, CMHC’s mandate is to: “promote housing affordability and choice, to facilitate access to, and competition and efficiency in the provision of, housing finance, to protect the availability of adequate funding for housing at low cost and generally contribute to the well-being of the housing sector in the national economy.”

To further the goals of economic stability and housing affordability, borrowers can purchase CMHC insurance or elect for a CMHC-approved lender. Depending on their credit score and deposit amount, some borrowers may be required to have an insured mortgage.

The mortgage stress test in the most basic of explanations is a methodology that the government requires mortgage lenders to perform to assess if you’ll still be able to pay your mortgage should there be interest rate fluctuations. It provides rules that mortgage providers use to calculate if you qualify for a mortgage and how much you can borrow.

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Reverse mortgages are a type of mortgage loan, secured against the residential property, that enables the mortgage borrower, through the mortgage amount, to access the full appraisal value of the property. Typically promoted to senior homeowners, these mortgages don’t require monthly mortgage payments but mortgage borrowers are still responsible for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

Reverse mortgages in the Canadian mortgage market allow older people to immediately access the equity in the home they have built up in their homes and defer payment of the loan until they die, sell, or move out of the home. Because there are no required mortgage payments on a reverse mortgage, the interest is added to the loan balance each month.

Terms refer to the time period in which you will be legally required to renew a mortgage agreement. The mortgage term is the period of time that the mortgage agreement at your agreed interest rate is in effect. The amortization period is the length of time it will take to fully pay off the amount of the mortgage loan amount, both the principal and the interest costs.

A closed-end mortgage commonly referred to as a closed mortgage is a restrictive type of mortgage. Closed mortgages are limited in that can’t be prepaid, renegotiated, or refinanced without paying breakage costs or other penalties to the mortgage lender.

A Bit About Blended Mortgages

In our comparison of lenders, blended mortgages are a great option for those seeking low mortgage rates. With a mortgage refinance, a borrower may depend on credit score and payment history, leverage the equity in your home allows you to get the loan without the risk of prepayment penalty. You can combine current mortgage interest rates with new interest rates to get a blended interest rate. It will fall into the middle of these rates.

Blended mortgages offer an excellent way in which to find cheaper rates without worrying about penalties. Some of the lenders don’t give bundled mortgages.

Mortgage Term Length

Mortgage term lengths could be 10 years or greater. Do your research and compare mortgage rates as well as durations.

Different loans have varying interest rates because interest rates in mortgages vary based on yields of bonds of similar maturities. In the case of government bonds, the rate will be determined using the yield of the bonds over 10 years. When you finish a loan term, you may refinance the mortgage. Moreover, a new mortgage is required after the term ends.

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Short Term Mortgages

A short-term mortgage is a mortgage with a typical period of 6 months or three years. With some mortgage lenders in Canada, renegotiating means a higher rate of interest will occur and the rate will follow the current market mortgage rate much more closely than previously. A practical application of this in residential mortgages is when a borrower requires a loan to cover the period of time between a purchase closing date and the closing date of their sold home.

Long Term Mortgages

Long-term mortgages, ranging from 10 years, provide greater confidence that their rate is guaranteed over a longer period. In the coming months, there will be fewer interest rates and less stress on the renewal of mortgages. A long-term mortgage can be repaid today. If you keep your mortgage rates fixed longer you can get a better mortgage rate. The longer the loan the greater the risk the mortgage rate will drop.

Canada’s Most Popular Mortgage: The 5-Year Fixed Income Mortgage

With mortgage rates in Canada, 5-year fixed-rate mortgages are the dominant mortgage with nearly 60% of the outstanding mortgages. The 5-year fixed mortgage rate has become popular as the CMHC uses the Bank of Canada’s 5-year benchmark rate for the stress tests.

Canada vs. USA Mortgage Terms

Whether speaking about a fixed rate mortgage or otherwise, Canadian mortgage loan durations can be much shorter than in US mortgages. The most common U.S. mortgage is the 30-year fixed loan that does not have to be renewed. It marks a major break from the Canadian loan market, where most homeowners expect to renew their rates frequently.

Online Mortgage Lenders

The most common mortgages that we get are from the largest national banks. For decades, the bricks and mortar banks of the United States and the world have served as financial staples and a great way to get the right mortgage interest rates in Canada. Internet banking has the tendency of offering better rates than traditional banks due to lower overhead costs. It’s possible to transfer these savings to the customers. When looking for an online mortgage lender you might consider Equitable Bank.

Best Mortgage Lender for “friends and family” Mortgages:

Most Canadians need assistance to get financed or purchase their first house by looking at relatives or friends; Some even get a portion of their downpayment from family and friends. Whether an Although a first-time home buyer may have a good credit score, they may have too limited personal finance history to establish an adequate minimum credit score; for this reason, they may not get the attention of the best mortgage lenders or their most attractive mortgage rates.

Challenges in raising enough funds for a down payment may also deter a first-time home buyer from getting the best mortgage rates in Canada.

Without family or friends for assistance with either the mortgage amount or the down payment, CMHC rules may dictate that borrowers get an insured mortgage through a CMHC-approved lender. Whereas folks with a higher down payment may have access to multiple lenders when a borrower is required to get mortgage insurance their pool of lenders may decrease significantly.

The changes in market conditions also play a role in resulting in the high costs associated with buying homes today. Family living arrangements could be nontraditional or perhaps multigenerational living arrangements. Whatever happens, the mortgage is easy to buy since it can allow four people to buy the same home. Not all people need to have their homes and only a few owners are necessary. It’s becoming a much better choice for Canadian citizens who have previously struggled with acquiring their homes themselves.

Credit Unions

A major difference between a national bank and a member credit union is their member’s ownership. Credit union members essentially own the credit union and the credit union serves as the primary banking service, including how they pay their original mortgage payment, for its members. Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations and all revenues generated are either returned by members or invested in local communities, such as Meridian Credit Union or Libro Credit Union.

Different Rules for Different Types of Lenders

Meridian Credit Union- many credit unions for that matter- can qualify as alternative lenders when compared to a national bank and therefore have historically had less rigid rules and regulations whether looking at a fixed mortgage or one with a variable mortgage rate. Credit unions are typically controlled in Canadian provinces, but a new federal bill has been introduced over the past few years to make them federally regulated.

Monoline Lenders

Monoline lenders are primarily aimed at lending solutions. It is generally not considered a bank because it doesn’t have traditional deposits and also has no central branch. Monolines lenders are focused on lending money to customers. Monoline lending companies can be incorporated, as well as MICs and publicly listed agribusinesses. Monoline lending companies offer comparable rates to A- lending firms. Although there are some lenders in this category that can offer competitive rates, there’s still an important fact to consider.

An A-Lender

Typically called ‘prime’ mortgage lenders, these are the big six Canadian banks providing the most competitive mortgage terms. These banks usually have stricter lending standards due to their desire to find applications that represent the least risk level and have the greatest level of economic security – so, the best rates. A-Lender primarily focuses on federally-regulated chartered banks and credit unions, with provincial regulation.

Private Mortgage Lenders

Private mortgage lenders or private lenders for short can be individuals who loan private funds to other individuals who set out to provide private financing and the terms for their loan application. Private lenders are also free to determine what the approval procedure is for them to offer money to a borrower.

Private lending services come in various forms that can include friends or family members or a business focusing exclusively on private lending. Private loan companies can decide on their own rates because they are not regulated by any other financial institution.

Small Bank Lenders

Canadian banks have their registered branches licensed under the Bank Act, 1991. Some of these banks are federally registered but they also have smaller assets and customers than the big six banks such as RBC and TD. Despite small Canadian banks generally being found across Canada some are more active within certain provinces such as Canadian Western Bank in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Currently, there are 82 federally regulated banks in Canada, including 35 domestic banks.


Some people who have strong credit histories can no longer afford to get a mortgage by using A-Lender loans. In this case, prospective buyers may be approved by B-Lenders to take out mortgages. B Lenders are often more flexible in granting approvals.

Alternative Mortgage Lenders

Standard mortgages as well as preferred mortgage rates offers from the biggest banks and others have specific criteria for eligibility. Alternative mortgage lending companies are different from traditional mortgage lending firms and may help you get a loan even when you do not meet the requirements to get a conventional home loan.

What’s a Monoline Lender?

Examples are private lending institutions such as banks – mortgage lenders – credit unions, monoline lenders (those lenders that only offer one product, in this case, their expertise is in mortgage rates), and small banking.

Best Mortgage Lender for Low Fixed Rates: Meridian Credit Union

One major question about mortgages is which is better for you? Although there are many pros and cons a person weighs as they choose fixed mortgage rates. However, the main variable is the measure of affordability; this is particularly tied to your mortgage rate. Of course, a part of taking part in protecting yourself is a conscious effort towards achieving a good price. Fixed-rate loans differ from lenders, but the type and level of interest on them will depend on your individual situation.

Best Mortgage Lender for People Who Want to Pay Down Quickly: Tangerine

Nobody wants a huge debit hanging around their neck. This can be particularly true depending on your mortgage rate and subsequently monthly mortgage payments. Most folks are of the mindset that if they could pay off their house quicker and not pay a penalty, then you should. This assumes your agreement allows you to do so.

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Closed Mortgages May Have Penalties

Many closed mortgages have specific rules regarding prepayments for your mortgage and the amount that you can pay every year as an extra. This can be frustrating when you can repay your debt more easily.

Generally, mortgage lenders give you more time to repay your mortgage than other types of loan lenders. A very good lender for this is Tangerine.

Best Mortgage Lender for Those with Poor Credit Scores: Merix Financial Services

Getting a mortgage rate can be a challenge for people who struggle to find a good credit rating. Some lenders have lowered standards or requirements compared to A-Lenders. While some lenders still don’t require a minimum credit rating. A word to the wise though, read the fine print! Sometimes these loans come with a steep interest rate.

Your Down Payment

The downpayment reduces loan-to-value (LTV). If you have a large down payment, you could get lower rates for a home mortgage if your down payment is large enough that your risk would be lower. However, it can be avoided by taking a down payment in a certain range i.e. between 5% and 20%.

Choosing a Mortgage Term

The loan term should also be considered along with other factors. A mortgage can be costly to a borrower if repaid before a loan term ends. If the loan is renewed, you may be able to avoid re-mortgage fees. Short mortgage terms are best when considering selling your house or refinancing your mortgage. It is also possible that your mortgage rates may not go as far as you think.

How Do I Qualify for a Mortgage?

When you trying to get the best rates, it’s important to take into consideration basic requirements to obtain mortgage approval. How do I qualify for a mortgage? A good credit report- If you are eligible for mortgages you need a credit rating of at least 680. Prospective loan companies may be looking to use your credit score for a number of reasons.

Choosing a Mortgage Lender

Choosing a lender is a balance between the need and the likelihood of getting approved. A loan is a significant investment that can be very difficult to find the right lender. Our mortgage experts can help you find your best loan options based on your goals and situation. Tell us some key factors that you should consider when selecting an investment bank.

Tell Me the Impact of Mortgage Rates in Canada

Canada offers numerous different forms of mortgage. In most cases, each mortgage can offer three different rates depending on what the rate is these mortgage rates may impact the rate changes in time. The mortgage rate will depend on certain factors your mortgage broker will consider. Keep documents if you are considering purchasing a home.

A young couple showing their keys to a realtor in a new home.


Historical Canadian Mortgage Rates

Looking up past mortgage rates can help you identify which types of mortgages attract higher rates. This helps people understand where our current economy is at and its impact.

Factors That Can Affect Your Personal Interest Rate

You must know that the best loan amount will vary according to your individual credit profile. Some things can affect what mortgage rate you qualify for. In addition to refinancing, a person may also consider a home equity line (HELOC).

A Few Last Words…

Although when he said, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Shakespeare’s words were, and often still are sage advice, if you must be a borrower, understanding all the terms in the fine print before you sit down to sign is equally sage. This Insider’s guide is an essential tool so keep it close at hand when negotiating in today’s marketplace.

About the Author

Heather McDowell is a mother and a REALTOR®. Heather has spent most of her real estate career selling residential real estate, and its leasing and has dealt with the additional complexities of the cottage, timeshare and rural properties, and condominiums. She has dabbled in new construction and is expanding her portfolio to include commercial sales and leasing. Heather is also a dedicated volunteer for both the local women’s shelter and a national hospice organization and is an emerging playwright. Heather describes her focus as diversifying real estate content that not only addresses national matters but explores those issues unique to each province and territory. You can contact Heather at or find her on socials at: Facebook – LinkedIn – Instagram –  

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