TORONTO – Samantha Brookes has been warning Canadians to take a close look at the clauses in their mortgage contracts for years, but her refrain has become a bit more prevalent in recent months.
Since the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ mortgage stress test was implemented in January, the founder of the Mortgages of Canada brokerage has seen “a huge influx” of Canadians who fail to qualify for a bank mortgage turning to alternative lenders that range from risky loan sharks to larger, more conventional companies like Home Trust.
While alternative lenders can provide a lifeline for Canadians who have run out of other financing options, Brookes said they come with pitfalls for those who don’t bother looking at the fine print.
“You need to read those contracts,” she said. “(With an alternative lender), the interest rates are higher, the qualifying rate is higher than if you were going with a traditional bank and they are going to charge one per cent of the mortgage amount (as a lender’s fee) for closing, so that means your closing costs increase.”
Alternative lenders tend to offer less wiggle room on their terms, so Brookes said that means you should pay special attention to another dangerous term she’s seen slipped into mortgage contracts: the sale-only clause.
It’s less common, Brookes said, but if left in, it