Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Did the mortgage market do what we thought it was going to do in 2014?

By Susan Ashton, BComm, AMP, TMG The Mortgage Group

As we all know, predictions and forecasts are all well and good but sometimes they fall short of what actually happens. While I might be able to predict, with some level of certainty, what is going to happen tomorrow, the longer the time frame, the harder it is to “hit the nail on the head”.

So let’s start with last December’s Globe and Mail article – Five Canadian Mortgage Market Predictions for 2014. I thought it would be fun and interesting to revisit this article and see how accurate it really was.

Keep in mind that Rob McLister of Canadian Mortgage Trends, the author of The Globe and Mail article, is one of the thought leaders when it comes to shooting straight from the hip about the mortgage industry and where’s it’s going. Here’s what he said would happen in 2014:

1. Prediction: New mortgage rules – Expect more rule tightening in 2014 designed to reduce mortgage risk for lenders, mortgage default insurers and the government. By definition, those rules will make it slightly harder to get approved for some mortgages and further slow the housing market.

What actually happened: Well, when it comes to new mortgage rules, we certainly saw lots of changes in 2012 and 2013, but fewer in 2014. We had CMHC cut their Self-Employed/Stated Income and Second Home products but there were no changes to the Genworth and Canada Guaranty (the two private insurers) products, so this hasn’t had a significant impact on approvals. We have seen lenders starting to change the way they view payments for debt servicing purposes on personal lines of credit. Where once we could use the actual interest–only payment, as long as it was proven, most lenders want us to use 3% of the outstanding balance. We still had a couple of lenders who would use the lower payment amount, but these last remaining lenders will discontinue this practice at the end of this year so I predict more restrictions in 2015 than we saw in 2014.

2. Prediction: Credit unions will steal market share – Since they’re provincially regulated, credit unions have more flexible lending guidelines than federally regulated banks. They’ll use that to their advantage in addition to marketing more heavily, both online and to mortgage brokers. We’ll also see some big mergers this year as credit unions seek out economies of scale.

What actually happened: Credit Unions are definitely increasing their market share. While I can’t say that I am using them more, they can do things that OSFI regulated lenders just can’t.  I expect it will take more time than one year to see Credit Unions really make a noticeable dent in market share.

3. Prediction: Stronger online player – A new online model is sacrificing commissions for volume. This trend will heat up competition industry wide, delivering greater mortgage discounts to all consumers.

What actually happened:
Some online brokers do compete on rate though the full service brokerage model remains alive and well. Your mortgage is more than just rate – it’s about getting the best product for your situation; it’s about getting the right advice for your situation and it’s about protecting your future.

4. Prediction: Hybrid mortgages will grow more popular – Economists and government officials have been warning us of higher rates for four years. So far they’ve been wrong, and now many consumers aren’t sure what to believe. More Canadians will hedge their rate bets with hybrid mortgages (part fixed and part variable).

What actually happened:  Hybrid mortgages are definitely talked about more, but I’ve found that clients want the stability of a fixed rate payment, or the advantage of the lower payment/rate that a variable offers. Mainly it’s the savvy, yet risk adverse, investors who talk hybrid mortgages. These products represent a great opportunity to speak with your mortgage associate about what is right for you.

5. Prediction: Consumer IQs will increase – For those in the mortgage industry who prefer an uninformed consumer, your days are numbered. Canadians will spend more time researching rate comparison websites, online mortgage forums, news portals, blogs, calculators and other online mortgage tools. They’ll become increasingly savvy about fine print like penalty calculations, rate blend policies and refinance restrictions.

What actually happened: Consumer IQs are most certainly getting higher. The Internet has brought about change and transparency in the industry, which has benefited consumers. The younger generation also educates themselves online prior to making any sort of purchase – another great thing for the industry. I love to work with clients who come into my office, armed with great questions with a goal of learning even more. The perfect client! This will only continue as the amount of available information grows.

So there it is. Rob McLister just released his predictions for 2015 in the Globe and Mail. Let’s see how well he predicts the market next year.

Stay tuned!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Here’s what we know about First-Time Homebuyers

In May 2014, the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) completed an on-line survey of 860 first-time buyers from across Canada. All who responded had taken a mortgage transaction in the previous 12 months and all were one of the prime decision-makers within their household for matters relating to housing finance and mortgages.

First-Time Buyers and Technology

  • The majority of First-time buyers (84%) went online when gathering information about mortgage options and features. Among these, more than half (55%) went to lender sites and one-third went to broker sites. First-time buyers showed a high likelihood of visiting a broker site (33%).
  • Overall, First-time buyers were much more active online compared to other mortgage consumers – they engaged in a variety of activities -- 80% used a mortgage calculator, 63% completing a financial self assessment, 42% either got pre-approved or filled an online form and 20% engaged in an online conversation.
  • Twenty-three per cent used mobile devices to access mortgage related information, however; desktops are still preferred by almost nine-in-ten.
  •  The use of social media as a tool when looking for a mortgage is increasing and was much more prevalent. In 2014, 40% of First-time buyers going online looked to social media when researching their mortgage options. This up from 28% one year ago. Social media used -- 58% used Facebook, and 38% used either online forums or blogs. Overall, online forums and blogs were found to be the most useful social media platforms for mortgage related information. Half of First-Time Buyers using online forums and 44% using blogs rated the information obtained through these platforms as “very useful.”
  •  Social media is starting to play a role in how first-time buyers interact online. About one-in-five using social media (21%) posted a review or rating of either a broker or lender and 30% used social media to find a referral to use a specific professional (i.e. broker, lender, real estate agent or other professional).
Homebuying Process

  • During the home buying process first-time buyers interacted with a variety of individuals. Seventy-nine per cent were in contact with a family member, 73% with a mortgage lender or a 72% with a real estate agent. Slightly more than half (55%) reported interacting with a mortgage broker.
  •  Overall, 60% of first-time buyers mentioned that they had concerns during the home buying process. The nature of the concerns or uncertainty stems mostly from unforeseen costs. Forty per cent reported they actually incurred unexpected expenses during the home buying process. Among those unforeseen costs, the most common were adjustments (40%), lawyer fees (36%) and land transfer taxes (30%).
Experience with Lenders and Brokers

  • Approximately four-in-ten (37%) of first-time buyers received a recommendation to use a specific mortgage professional. These recommendations came primarily from family members and real estate agents. Among those receiving a recommendation to use a specific lender, 37% came from a family member and 22% from a real estate agent.
  • Almost half (48%) arranged their mortgage through a mortgage broker.
  • Among those using a broker, 50% reported obtaining a mortgage with a lender other than the financial institution they were dealing with the most at the time.
  •  Seventy per cent were satisfied with their mortgage professional and showed a greater likelihood of using their broker again in the future.

The survey findings are positive indicators that consumers are increasing their knowledge about financial matters. Consumers who educate themselves about their financial options are able to make consistent, informed financial decisions and that will help them to achieve their goals.

The survey also makes clear that mortgage professionals are in a unique position to help educate consumers about their mortgage options and ways to pay off that mortgage sooner. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

It’s been all about elections

We seem to be living in an election merry-go-round. In Ontario we recently had our provincial election. Torontonians are living through a municipal election. Canadians are prepping for a federal election in 2015. The US seems to be in an election cycle every two years. And within our industry we just completed the CAAMP election.

I am ‘electioned’ out! I can tell you from the prospective of both a voter and a candidate that our elections are long – too long.

The CAAMP election started with some consideration and a formal nomination by the end of August. Then there was preliminary campaigning and discussions throughout the first two weeks of September and then there is the actual election - which is essentially a two-week window.

Campaigning is exhausting. It is in and of itself almost a full time job. There were two things that really impressed me during the CAAMP campaign.

  1. The level of engagement of voters was fantastic. I believe this will be recorded as one of the highest levels of voter turnout in recent years. Members were talking, debating, concerned, enthusiastic… you name it.
  1. The level of support I received from countless people throughout the industry. This election (at least in Ontario) seemed to cross-organizational boundaries. It really seemed to be one that put the industry first.  For our industry to be strong we must have a collective voice with our lender and supplier partners. To me that voice was reaffirmed in this election.

Though I initially wrote this post before the CAAMP election results were known, I can tell you that as a successful candidate I am eager to work with the Board and the Association to represent our incredible industry.  When we put our collective passion, commitment and talents into our industry we will all succeed immeasurably.

I wish everyone a terrific FALL season and hope to see many of you in Montreal in just a few short weeks.



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Talk of housing bubbles may be just hot air

The latest housing price statistics from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has created a buzz in the media and talks of bubbles and an overvalued housing market have resurfaced.  According to CREA, the average house price has risen 5% over last year.

What that number does not show, however, is the lowered house prices in many markets such as Saint John and Victoria, for example. The red-hot markets in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are skewing the average according to CIBC economists Benjamin Tal and Avery Shenfeld and more than one-quarter of the sales are now in cities where house prices are increasing by less than the current rate of inflation – approximately 2.10 percent in August of 2014.

The CREA stat is no reason to panic once the numbers are broken down. The majority of that price gain are for high-end homes in the most expensive cities in the country—Toronto and Vancouver, said Avery Shenfeld in a Globe and Mail article and in the “their urban cores, as opposed to lower-priced alternatives in the suburbs.”
Evan Siddall, CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) also sees no need to worry. Interestingly CMHC has a Housing Price Analysis and Assessment tool that gauges the housing market and takes into account the following:

  •  Overheating of demand in the market
  • Acceleration in prices
  • Overvaluation in prices
  • Overbuilding

The assessment of Canada’s housing market at the moment shows no immediate problems at the national level. Sidall was quoted as saying, “Our educated opinion is that growth in house prices in Canada will moderate.”

This opinion is shared by many in the industry. John Bordignon, EVP, Strategic Development at Paradigm Quest says it boils down to supply and demand. “Certainly low mortgage interest rates have fuelled some of the increase in activity,” he said. “However, when we analyze the market, we can see that the increased price in the high-end market are skewing the average and cannot be sustained simply because that same price appreciation is not occurring in the move-up market.”

At the high-end of the housing spectrum we have a seller’s market, he explained – more buyers then there are homes, which would naturally increase the price. However, tighter mortgage lending guidelines coupled with changes to mortgage insurance regulation have priced out first time home buyers, making it more difficult for the move-up market to move. Higher prices at the top-end may be also causing some affordability issues among those considering a move up.

“Eventually, those high-end prices should moderate – when there are no buyers, prices come down, which is happening to prices in the mid-range due to fewer first time buyers.”

The two stats that bode well for Canada’s housing market according to Bordignon are employment levels and low interest rates. “Corrections occur when unemployment rises, interest rates increase and house prices continue to rise. Here in Canada, we have stable employment levels and interest rates are still relatively low.

Despite the talk of bubbles, resale activity has been relatively stable over the past few years. Unit sales have fluctuated between 35,000 and 40,000 units per month according to a report by CIBC’s Benjamin Tal. Sales of units at the low-to-mid price range have fallen notably since 2010. Sales for the mid-to-high price range have risen modestly and sales for the upper end of the market have increased rapidly.

“In the Toronto market, for example, we see that the more expensive the property is, the faster its price rises,” Tal said. “A household that owned a single-detached property valued at say $600K and would like to move up, would have to pay extra not only for the jump in category, say $900K, but also for the fact that the price of the move-up property has risen faster than the price of their own property.”

Despite all the talk of the ups and downs of house prices, the mortgage lending market remains robust. Mark Kerzner, President of TMG The Mortgage Group has watched activity in housing market rise and fall for many years and although tighter regulations over the past few years have slowed activity somewhat, overall the market is healthy.

“We’ve had a low rate environment for many years now, and while fixed rates are poised to increase due to higher bond yields, ARM discounts are also increasing thereby making ARMS more attractive. We anticipate PRIME will likely stay low into the first half of next year as the Bank of Canada stays the course with its benchmark rate that’s still at 1%,” he said.

Kerzner also highlights the fact that the Canadian economy is healthy and affordability is in check despite the increased regulatory insight. “Qualified buyers are still able to access very low rates and lenders are offering a variety of mortgage products to suit the needs of more buyers,” he said.

“If we examine the current situation we see low interest rates, a housing market where the prices in most markets are stabilizing, a healthy economy that is growing and an inflation rate that is holding steady,” he said.

“The most important factor is your personal readiness.  A home is a long term investment and its value will fluctuate up and down over the course of your tenure in it. It is both a commitment and an achievement that reflects your aspirations and lifestyle, and offers a great deal of personal satisfaction, as well as financial stability.”

Yes, prices have increased in a few cities so it’s important to analyze what’s going on in your local market because all real estate is local. Mortgage rates and house prices will fluctuate but over the long term, homeownership is a sound investment that compares well with other investments. When you invest in mutual funds, the mantra for most is buy and hold. Similarly, your home is a buy and hold investment.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Hello Friends and Colleagues

Although post-Labour Day symbolizes an end to summer and the start of a new school year for millions of Canadian students and their families, there is also a sense of renewal and excitement as a new year settles in.

As my wife and I helped prepare our three kids for school last week, I was reminded of just how quickly time passes, as well as the sense of anxiousness with what lies ahead.

For me, this “new year” is even more significant than the one we typically welcome in the cold of winter on January 1st. 

New beginnings allow us to review and reaffirm our current path while, at the same time, they encourage us to adapt and adjust our habits as we add and pursue new goals.

During the past few weeks I have spent some time thinking and reminiscing about the state of our industry – and more specifically – the state of our national association. I have always felt very much connected to the mortgage brokerage industry in Canada, working as an executive with our lenders and as president of a national mortgage brokerage. I now feel compelled to seek your support to become a Director (ONTARIO) of CAAMP.

I remember the first CIMBL (predecessor of CAAMP) conference I attended nearly 15 years ago. As a newly-minted mortgage executive I recall the excitement, the enthusiasm and that sense that we were all learning and growing as an industry. I knew at that moment that this was a very special industry and it was an association I would admire.  It was a place where seasoned mortgage professionals would come together, share best practices and chart a course for the future.

It seems there has been considerable chatter lately about the role of CAAMP, the regional associations, and the overlap between them. Questions around the need for a national association coupled with discussions about a broker’s only association have also been on the table. This is healthy dialogue and I am pleased to see the level of engagement about our representation in our industry.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you the three key reasons why I continue to advocate for CAAMP:

  1. I welcome the fact that our association is inclusive of brokers, lenders and suppliers alike. I feel that mix actually makes our voice stronger with the folks we are lobbying in Ottawa.
  2. The fact that we share a board of directors to oversee this national association helps unify our day-to-day business interests. 
  3. The majority of members are aligned in seeking a very strong and growing broker channel in Canada. 

CAAMP has been very effective in many respects but is not perfect.  A few areas where I see that CAAMP must improve are:

Co-ordination with all industry associations:events, sponsorship opportunities, research, government relations, etc. Doing so will benefit not just members of the various associations, but the strength and voice of our industry as a whole

In addition, CAAMP has to be more responsive and approachable. It has to advocate the broker channel while improving its events and symposiums. CAAMP has to remain the best source for government and the media with respect to all-things-mortgages.

Over the years I have asked my teams, “What is the solution? Don’t just tell me your challenges; tell me the recommendations to fix them.”

At this point in my career, I feel I must get more involved. I want to be part of the solution.

I have been a member of our national association since 2001 and an AMP since 2007. On a personal level, I feel that CAAMP has provided me with an opportunity to connect with a large number of people across our industry over the years. The way I see it, ours is a very small, close industry and the opportunities to interact with our colleagues, suppliers, and competitors have proved priceless.

I appreciate your support and welcome your feedback, comments and questions.

Cheers to a “new year” and a new perspective.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Avoid common mistakes when purchasing a home

Young Canadians feel that housing is still a good investment, according to the 21st Annual RBC Home Ownership Poll. Nearly nine-in-ten (86%) of those aged 25-34 believe that owning a house or condo is a very good investment, up from less than eight-in-ten (78%) in 2013. Interest in purchasing has increased in nearly every region in the country from last year. This change in buying intention bodes well for the housing market and shows a renewed confidence in young buyers.

Those potential home owners named job stability and manageable debt levels as the reasons why they would consider buying. Among those likely to buy a home within the next two years, four-in-ten will be first time homebuyers.

The old adage “Buyer Beware” however, still holds true. Most homeowners admit to making at least one mistake when they purchased their home according to the last year’s RBC Home Ownership Poll. While owning a home is a dream come true for many, it can also be stress-laden if you find you’ve made an error.

Here are 10 mistakes to watch out for when you take the leap:

  1. Property needed work – a lot of it. Even with a home inspection, new homebuyers may get into a home and find it costs more than they expected to make improvements.  Don’t rush in, sit down and plan.
  2. Not having a bigger down payment.  Having a larger down payment can lower mortgage payments, which could help with the household budget.
  3. No Home Inspection. If you skip the step you might find the repairs needed may be astronomical, especially if you purchase an older home. An inspector will look at the overall foundation and structural features of the house, the plumbing system, will look for the presence of mould or pest infestations, check the heating and air conditioning, as well as the electrical system.
  4. Not budgeting for the increased costs. Consider all the costs involved and create a realistic budget.  There are monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, and utility bills. On top of that you’ll probably want to redecorate, buy new furniture etc. Plan your budget accordingly. 
  5. Not knowing the closing costs. Closing day is coming and you get the call from the lawyer to come in and sign the papers and, oh, bring a certified cheque or bank draft for X amount of dollars. WHAT? Yes, fees and disbursements. There’s the land transfer fee, the title fee, the lawyer’s fee, etc. Don’t get caught short.
  6. Forgetting about future needs. If you’re planning on having kids, shop accordingly.  
  7. Not getting a pre-approved for a mortgage. You won’t know what price range you can afford and what a lender will give you without a pre-approval. It’s easy, it’s free and absolutely necessary. If something turns up that may prevent you from purchasing, a mortgage professional can offer you solutions.  
  8. Falling love with a house. Fall in love with each other but not with a house. You will not listen to the advice everyone is giving you. You will ignore the obvious cracks in the foundation because it has 18ft. ceilings and that great stone fireplace you’ve always wanted. Beware of buyer’s remorse.
  9.  Not checking market value of neighbourhood. This can cause some purchasers to pay too much. Especially a home that has been upgraded to the max in an area that won’t keep its value – unless you plan to live there the rest of your life.
  10.  Focusing too much on interest rates. Don’t rush in to a market because the rates are low. And don’t focus on getting the lowest rate. Focus on the mortgage loan and term that works for you and your financial situation.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Director of Sales for TMG The Mortgage Group in Alberta & Prairie Regions

TMG The Mortgage Group is pleased to announce Dan Haight as Director of Sales for the Alberta and Prairies Regions. Haight comes to TMG with 20-plus years of financial and mortgage experience in the banking industry. In these management positions he was responsible for growing the mortgage teams, increasing mortgage volumes while working to strengthen existing and new business partnership opportunities. At TMG he will take on a similar role.

Working out of Calgary, Haight has developed a wide network of contacts and has developed relationships with top mortgage people, lenders, and referral partners.

His experience along with his respect for and commitment to the broker channel makes him a valuable addition to the TMG team.

His decision to join TMG came at a time when he was looking for a change both in his career and in his personal lifestyle. After meeting with Grant Thomas and Mark Kerzner, he made the decision to join TMG because he saw a company with quality individuals who had a great reputation in the industry.

“TMG has much to offer – excellent lender relationships, access to all levels of management, a great broker-friendly back office and a corporate culture that puts people first,” he said.

Mark Kerzner, President of TMG The Mortgage Group Canada Inc. has been impressed with Dan from the outset.  “I am thrilled he has decided to join the TMG team. He embodies the TMG values of professionalism, integrity, and putting the customer first. "

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Top Six Mortgage Features

Real estate is a still a hot commodity in most parts of the country, and it’s also a competitive market. Prices are rising and listings are in short supply. And everyone wants your business -- from realtors to mortgage lenders. Interest rates are low and competition among lenders to offer favourable rates is high.  However, it’s always a good idea to read the fine print of these” low rates” to see if they are the best rate for your situation.

Steve Nipius, TMG’s Deal Centre Manager has complied his Top Six Strategies to assist home buyers assess their mortgage offers to make sure they’re getting what they need. It’s important for consumers to understand what features are important to them before deciding on a lender based on interest rate alone.

Take a look at some of the features you might consider:
  1.  Blend and Extend. The introduction of the Benchmark qualification rate a few years ago has encouraged more lenders to offer this feature, whether on a refinance or a port and increase. For example, if your current lender doesn’t allow a change in the maturity date, then you’re locked into the remaining time left on the term.  While that’s not the end of the world, in a rising rate environment this can be extremely inconvenient. If you’re moving up, and buying at your maximum loan-to-value, you probably don’t want just a 1 to 2 year term and with the new benchmark rule, you may not even qualify.  If rates have dropped since the original mortgage you could run into the dreaded “Interest Rate Differential” (IRD) which might be too large and you can’t move.  Lenders that allow a blend and extend simply blend your current rate with the now current rate. 
  2.  Early Payout Penalty Calculation. Some chartered Banks are known for their extremely large IRD penalties. The wording in some other no-frills products refers to the payout penalty as the greater of 3% of the balance or IRD -- this would mean a $15,000 minimum penalty on a $500,000 mortgage. Some lenders also carry large re-investment fees. If you don’t know you’ll keep the mortgage for the entire term then make sure to read the fine print in your mortgage documents, especially as it pertains to the payout penalty.
  3.  Mortgage Registration. Is the mortgage registered as a non-standard charge, either a running account, or a collateral charge? If so, then it becomes almost harder to switch this mortgage out to take advantage of lower rates. Consider this scenario: If the lending institution knows you will have to incur $1,000 or more in possible costs, as well as put in the time and effort to complete a refinance with another lender, then there is little incentive to offer you best rates at renewal time when a small rate reduction might be enough to keep your business.   
  4. Pre-Payment Privileges. Is the lender offering 15/15, or 20/20?  That means allowing prepayments of 15 % or 20% annually on the outstanding balance of the mortgage.  Also, can these lump sum payments be made anytime per year or only at the mortgage anniversary? And how easy is it to make lump sum payments? Do you have to go into the branch, call a 1-800 number? Or can you simply go online and do it.  These are important factors to consider.
  5. Porting Features. This feature can vary from lender to lender. Read the fine print, especially if you know you might before the mortgage maturity date. 
  6. Online Access. All of the chartered Banks offer online access as do a number of mortgage banks, including First National and Street Capital. Generally online access allows you to see your balance, make additional lump sum payments, or make a payment increase. This can be a time-saving feature for tech-savvy consumers.
Yes, there is more to getting a mortgage than just rate. Talk to a mortgage broker first who can help you navigate the mortgage terms and who can help you find the best product for you needs.

Friday, July 25, 2014

TMG’s 24th Anniversary -- keeping it real

For twenty-four years, TMG The Mortgage Group has been quietly earning the respect of lender partners, the brokers who are part of the TMG family, and colleagues in the industry. As part of a very influential Western core group of broker advocates in the early 1990s, founders Grant and Debbie Thomas were instrumental in ensuring that Western brokers were properly recognized. Through their efforts, mortgage lenders such as Scotiabank to their business market.

Over the years, TMG has developed some of the best lender relationships in the industry, which stems from a corporate philosophy that lenders ought to be treated like customers.

Today, July 24, marks the 24th anniversary for TMG. With a network of nearly 800 mortgage brokers and agents nationwide, TMG has assisted hundreds of thousands of Canadians find the mortgage to best suit their financial needs. TMG operates on the premise that a mortgage broker provides the best value for consumers and has the knowledge and expertise to assist anyone seeking mortgage financing advice.

The Year was 1990

It was the year the Edmonton Oilers came back and Mario Lemieux couldn't. The economy turned its worst performance since the Second World War.

It was the time of Brian Mulroney and George Bush (Sr). One US dollar cost $1.17 Canadian. Caller ID systems were introduced and the Internet revolution began. Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years and Iraq invaded Kuwait.

It was a time of hot pants, mini-skirts, pre-ripped jeans, grunge art, Ninja turtles, head bands and sneakers. "Die Hard" was a box office hit and TV show "Cheers" won all of the Emmys.

TMG was formed

In its early years, the company operated as Kirk capital Corp. and opened its first franchise in British Columbia under London, Ontario-based “The Equity Centre,” led by industry pioneers Grant and Debbie Thomas. In 1997, Kirk Capital Corp. parted ways with that franchise network and changed its name to The Mortgage Group, becoming an independent privately-owned mortgage brokerage firm.

 “When we started, mortgage brokers had a bad rap and were considered as a last resort,” said co-founder Debbie Thomas. “I wanted to educate the public of the benefits of using a broker.”

Although the industry has made inroads into gaining market share, it’s still not enough. “We just have to keep sending our message out to consumers and make sure our brokers are well-trained.” Debbie’s goal has always been to instill confidence in consumers when dealing with brokers.

TMG has also attracted mortgage leaders from across the industry and across the country. Its regional sales leaders and vice-presidents are experienced and well-respected individuals who work directly with brokers in their regions to help them exceed their mortgage business goals.

 “TMG The Mortgage Group Canada Inc.  is a special company” said Mark Kerzner, President of TMG. “So much of our success is based on the relationships that we have developed over the years with our brokers, lenders and industry providers. We are continually looking to the future for ways of enhancing a broker’s value with an end consumer. At TMG we are on the right path.”

The company’s contribution has not gone unrecognized in the industry. In 2011, TMG was honoured with the Canadian Mortgage Award’s top award for Network Broker of the Year. In 2012, the company was named one of the Best Companies to Work for in BC. In that same year TMG was awarded with CAAMP’s Partners Excellence Award and Grant and Debbie received MBABC ‘s Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2013, the company won Employer of Choice at the Canadian Mortgage Awards and last year Grant and Debbie were inducted into CAAMP’s Canadian Mortgage Hall of Fame.

Yet, TMG is not a big, faceless company. Throughout the company’s growth, the brokerage has never lost its family-centred values. Indeed, it has maintained and reinforced its corporate family culture.
In the 14 years that Corrie Chenier has worked for TMG, she has watched the company grow from 40 brokers and a few staff to nearly 800 brokers staff. In all that time, she said TMG never lost its family values –it’s a place that Corrie calls home.

 “TMG is very family-oriented and we work quite well together as a team,” she said. “The culture here also promotes a high degree of professionalism and we do all we can to help our brokers succeed - from our marketing department to our regional managers – we are focused on their success.”

Branka Hayes, who works in payroll, has been with TMG for 10 years. She has glowing praise for the company that has made her feel a part of a larger family. The atmosphere has helped her in so many ways -- as the company grew, Branka experienced her own personal growth.

“We are treated so well – all of us feel the same way,” she said. “Whatever challenges we go through, this company is here to help us. And whenever I was in need, Debbie and Grant were totally present with me and what was happening in my life.”

Shanna Goldberg, Broker Services & Benefits Coordinator, who works out of the Toronto office, has been with TMG for just two years yet it feels like her extended family. She is about to go on maternity leave. “It feels a bit like losing a family member,” she said. “I kept asking Mark if there was some way I could still work while on leave,” she laughs. “But he reminded me that it was my family time.”

While within TMG, Grant and Debbie are seen as mentors, experts and leaders.  Within the mortgage industry, they are seen as entrepreneurs, advocates and pioneers. But always, at its core, TMG is one big family.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Job Posting -- Broker Support Coordinator

TMG The Mortgage Group – Broker Support Coordinator

Licenses or Registrations Required: 5-7 years in an administrative role, ideally in the financial industry, but not required
Location of Positions: Toronto, Ontario
Applicants may contact: Email shanna@mortgagegroup.com or fax 1.888.534.3706 by August 1, 1014

Job Description

Broker Support Coordinator:

Reports To
Mark Kerzner, President

Hours and Salary
* Full Time, Flexible
* 12 Month Contract, Maternity Coverage
* Competitive salary and benefits

Broker Support Coordinator is responsible for a wide variety of administrative duties in support of the President and other senior management members and teams. Duties include but are not limited to coordinating the hire and resignation process for all Ontario mortgage brokers, arranging travel plans for TMG management if required, meeting organization, scheduling appointments and drafting both internal and external correspondence. Strong customer service and interpersonal skills will be required as communication and client inquiry assistance will be a key component within this position. He/she is required to maintain confidentiality and professionally interact with employees, brokers, management and the public.

Job Duties

  • Provide direct administrative and office management support to all members of the executive team, and Ontario brokers as required and directed including but not limited to broker hires, resignations, terminations and team switches.
  • Coordinate logistics for all ON brokers including and not limited to setup and removal of multiple database, e-mail, distribution lists, mortgage origination, insurance, memberships and Equifax.
  •  Update daily rate sheets every morning.
  • Prepare travel schedules, book travel arrangements, and make reservations for senior management and executive staff if required.
  •  Coordinate logistics of executive team programs including meetings, seminars, workshops, special projects, and provincial events. This includes maintaining RVSP lists and coordinating all national sponsorships.
  • Prepare draft reports, background documentation, and research for President and Senior Managers
  • Coordinate office activities.
  •  Troubleshoot and/or escalate office administration and broker issues.
  •  Receive incoming mail.
  • Deposit Banking
  • Facilitate communication from department managers, business unit leaders, and project managers.
  • Complete expense reports, pay invoices, and other related duties.
  • Work with discretion regarding sensitive and confidential information
  • Provide employee assistance with registration processes
  • Other duties as assigned by management


  • Post-Secondary Diploma or University Degree in Business Administration, or relevant discipline, preferred.
  •  Secondary School Diploma required.
  •  5-7 years’ experience in an Administrative/HR role preferred.
  • Strong knowledge of office procedures and practices.
  •  Keen attention to detail.
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite (Outlook, Word, Excel, Power Point).
  • Experience in the finance industry preferred.
  • Data analysis skills required.
  • Basic research skills required.
  • Ability to develop and implement strategies.
  • Effective communication skills with individuals at all levels of the organization.
  • Superior telephone manners and strong interpersonal skills.
  • Proven organizational and time management skills.
  • Presentation skills required.

Work Conditions

  • Interacts with employees, various management levels and Ontario brokers and assistants

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Creating a competitive lending environment

The ongoing government policies that have intended to slow the housing market have certainly shown their desired effects over the past few years.  We have seen changes to amortizations, debt service ratios; reduction in the maximum amount Canadians can borrow to refinance their current homes from 85% to 80% loan-to-value, and limits on the maximum loan-to-value on HELOCs to 65%. The hardest hit was first-time homebuyers. And the most recent changes affected investors, those who purchase second homes, and the self-employed.

However, recent economic conditions suggest that mortgage activity will trend upwards for the near future as a modest rise in employment -- 1.2% in 2014 and 1.9% in 2015 according to CMHC’s most recent Housing Market Outlook -- and disposable income is projected to support housing activity.

House prices in many markets are still increasing and sales are healthy in most parts of the country. This is causing concern for Canada’s top banking regulator. Mark Zelmer, deputy superintendent of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), in a speech last week, focused on the continuing growth in household debt relative to income.

“I would not presume to claim that borrowers are acting irrationally or do not know what they are doing. But, by the same token, it is clear that the ability of the household sector as a whole to absorb major shocks is less now than it was a decade ago,” Zelmer said in a prepared speech.

Zelmer also said stress tests that show Canadian banks are prepared for a downturn, should not be viewed as overarching “safe harbours” because they are based on models and arbitrary assumptions. “Boards and senior management of financial institutions need to apply judgment in a forward-looking manner and not become too complacent in their capital planning exercises,” he said.

While the mortgage rule changes have created a tighter lending environment among the Big Banks, smaller institutional lenders are developing mortgage products to fill the void. Banks do carry a slight competitive edge in the market because they can cross sell to customers. However, smaller lenders are becoming more innovative with their product offerings, which is good news for consumers.

According to Paul Grewal, president of Street Capital Corporation, smaller lenders are continuously looking at different ways to provide a broader product line in order to differentiate itself from the competition.

“Market competition is always fierce and a healthy component of any industry. Although recent mortgage regulation changes have not reduced market competition as a whole, the industry is definitely changing.”
It’s not surprising that OFSI is speaking out now. The spring mortgage market is always a time of high competition and as a result, lower mortgage rates are being offered across the industry. “Competition is always beneficial to consumers -- more choice, more competitive pricing and more product selection are being offered,” Grewal said.

Street Capital is currently in the process of restructuring to become a bank, which will enable the lender to offer new products and services like credit cards and GICs through the mortgage broker channel. This, in turn, will help create a competitive environment for mortgage brokers who will be able to diversify their offerings to consumers.

Hassan Shaikh, Assistant Vice President, Investments, for MCAN Mortgage Corporation, agrees that innovation is key to ensuring a competitive environment that will benefit consumers.
“We, as lenders, have to bring something to the table; one factor might be competitive interest rates,” he said. “However, there are many factors.”

Some of the other factors are those that a consumer won’t see directly but will feel the effects. For example, Shaikh mentions turnaround times and relationship management as two important factors. A smaller lender is better able to move on mortgage transaction quickly, which has a distinct advantage for a certain type of client.

Also, by having built a strong relationship with an underwriter, a broker will have the added benefit of working with a processing team who will try to get an approval on the more difficult deals. This makes the broker invaluable to his client.

Overall, consumers are the beneficiaries of a competitive environment. The introduction of new mortgage rules was the genesis for change, and for a time, it looked as if the competitive environment had been eroded. The industry lost lenders; lenders eliminated many of their product offerings; and the pool of potential home buyers was reduced.

However, smaller lenders and new specialized lenders have stepped up to the plate and the industry is, once again, competitive. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

TMG National Breakfast Club Day – what a success!

By Mark Kerzner, President, TMG The Mortgage Group

In the early Fall of 2013, I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Germain, founder of Breakfast Club of Canada (http://www.breakfastclubcanada.org). Over the course of our meeting, Daniel shared his personal story with me -- to say I was touched was an understatement.  In his passion and commitment to helping others in a number of countries around the world, Daniel then focused his attention to his own backyard right here in Canada.

What surprised me during our conversation was that he was also ‘interviewing’ us (TMG) to ensure we were a suitable partner, with shared values. He asked a lot of questions about TMG -- our history and our people. I believe one aspect that may have impressed him was not only our desire to raise money for his organization, but also our interest in getting involved in the school communities across the country.

As soon as we ‘officially’ kicked off our national commitment to support Breakfast Club of Canada (BCC), TMG’ers were volunteering in local schools and raising money through regional events. As well, our passion for this organization has encouraged others in our small business community, including lenders, suppliers and customers, to get involved and give as well.  Within two months of launching our support for BCC we exceeded our first year fundraising objective.

On May 29, 2014, we  marked our first ever TMG National Day in the Schools where 10 teams from PEI to Victoria helped serve nutritious breaks and hand deliver ‘Smile Bags’ to participating students in some schools.  As president of TMG I am so proud of the level of engagement and am so excited to see how this initiative will continue to grow over time.

One in seven of our kids in Canada go to school hungry every day. For $1 we can feed one child. It’s that simple.

The volunteers of the Breakfast Club of Canada welcomes close to 130,000 kids every day.  Canada is the envy of the world. We live up to that adoration in the way we treat our own at home. 

On a personal level I want to thank John Charbonneau for introducing us to this amazing organization, which has given us the opportunity to give back in some small way.



Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rent vs. buy revisited

As house prices increase and affordability for first time home buyers looks as if it’s diminishing, the question of whether to rent or buy inevitably comes up. It’s a good question, especially in the current economy, but with no clear answer. 

Just ten years ago, the answer was simple – buy!  It had been the answer for much of the past twenty-five years.  Mortgage payments were relatively low; in many cases less expensive than renting, and a house was a solid long-term investment. But those were different times – for the most part, jobs were relatively stable, incomes rose steadily, unemployment rates were manageable,  home prices were not crazy and the real estate market was balanced, with the exception of a few corrections here and there.

Today, in many parts of Canada, house prices continue to rise. For one, housing starts are decreasing across the country, yet demand is still there – the result is higher resale pricing. A few months ago, affordability may have been an issue; however, we are now sitting at sub-3% fixed mortgages and variable rate mortgages as low as 2.4%.

If you’re considering buying, take a look at your current situation.  If you’re single – living in a high-priced market like Toronto or Vancouver and have a job with an average salary, it might make more sense to rent.  The basic rule is when a house costs more than 200 times the monthly rent it generates, it makes more financial sense to rent rather than own. In Toronto or Vancouver, for example, the prices of houses are 300 times the rent they would generate. If you rent a condo in Toronto for $1000, you’d be paying $1700 a month to buy it – that doesn’t include condo fees and taxes.  Not all markets are pricey but not all markets offer employment opportunities, so there’s the big trade.

 Families with children usually prefer owning a home even though it might cost them more. The stability of ownership and providing a good home for the kids becomes the deciding factor. Having two income-earners can make mortgage payments and housing costs more manageable. If commuting is not an issue, house prices just outside a major centre offer value – bigger houses for lower prices.

Aside from financial concerns owning a home is certainly an emotional issue. Most millennials grew up in families where home ownership was the cornerstone of every investment portfolio. But the economic realities today are far different.

But life is change and we are seeing those changes in the housing market and in the economy. Inflation hit 2% last week.  This is the benchmark the Bank of Canada uses to make its interest rate decision. Clearly, rate cuts are not likely. But a fixed-rate mortgage under 3% is something to consider.

Talk to your mortgage broker to help you decide if homeownership is right for you right now. If not, then, put a plan in place to get that home when you’re ready. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

So you got behind on that credit card payment. Or you were laid off for awhile and couldn’t keep up your car payments. Or that student loan is in arrears because it took you a while to get a job. Now your credit score is lower and you want to move on with your life – maybe buy a house or get a new car. Don’t underestimate the power of your credit score. It not only reveals to a lender if you’re a good credit risk, it’s also the basis for the interest rate you’ll pay. In today’s credit world, if your score is low you can still get a loan for a car or a home, but it will cost you. Lenders may charge extra fees and will certainly charge you a higher interest rate.  This is a costly proposition. However if you’re patient and persistent, you can improve your credit score in six to eight months. Here’s how:

  1. Pay bills on time: Pretty obvious, right? Late payments are the most common piece of negative information that appears on a credit report. Since payment history accounts for 35% of your total score, getting behind has a big impact. If nothing else, pay the minimum by the due date. By the way, any late payment will affect a credit score –cell phone bills, child support payments, etc.
  2. Keep balances low: If balances on your accounts equal more than 35% of the total credit available to you, it will actually hurt you. I know, it doesn’t seem right -- why have a credit limit of $1,000, let’s say, and only spend $350 of it? It’s all about proportion-- thirty per cent of your credit score is based on it.  A good credit risk is someone who doesn’t need credit. Go figure! TIP: For disciplined credit users: Call your credit card company and ask to increase the limit – this will decrease the proportion you’re using.
  3. Don't close unused accounts: The longer your credit history, the better. The length of time you’ve had credit is worth 15% of your total score. You get a star for each creditor you’ve had a positive history with –it’s proof that you’ve consistently paid on time. So don’t close older and unused accounts. Just put the cards away and forget about them.
  4. Only apply for credit when you need it:  It’s pretty common to walk into a store and get asked to apply for the store’s card to pay for your new purchase – the retailer will even offer you a special deal.  Think twice.  Opening new credit accounts or having your credit checked frequently will hurt your credit score temporarily. The reason? It looks like you’re going credit crazy. New credit determines 10% of your score. So try using an existing card for that purchase unless you know you won’t be applying for a mortgage or a car loan in the next few months.  
  5. Vary the credit used: Believe it or not, the types of credit you have accounts for 10% of your credit score. That means that having a car loan, a major credit card, a retail card and a mortgage can help your score.  But it’s not necessary to run out and apply for all that credit. (See item 4)
  6.  Correct mistakes in your credit report: Get a copy of your credit report from Equifax and Trans Union and make sure all the information is updated and correct. As you can imagine, these two agencies deal with millions of pieces of information on a monthly basis. Sometimes mistakes can happen, which can result in false credit scores, which can lead to you getting denied a loan or paying more in interest.  
  7. Separate accounts after divorce. Joint accounts are common in a marriage and once wed the info on each spouse’s credit report and their score will impact the other spouse.  If a couple divorces however, this creates a whole new set of challenges. A legal divorce does not absolve one or both from their financial obligations to their joint accounts. If both names are on the debt, it belongs to both spouses, married or divorced. 
  8. Avoid bankruptcy, if possible: This is bad news for your credit score, but it may be the only option. If you’re at this point, then your score has probably tanked anyway—some debts may have gone into collection. Bankruptcy is not a death sentence – there is life after one. It’s just going to take time to rebuild your credit. This will take a few years – there’s no quick fix – but it does give you a fresh start. Talk to a bankruptcy trustee. 
  9. Negotiate with creditors:  Your creditors are in the business of making a profit. If you’re not paying your bills, it impacts their bottom line.  Many of them can understand when financial challenges arise and you may be able to negotiate with them and come up with a solution that is mutually beneficial. Do this before you start missing payments.
  10. Be patient: No credit score calculation here. It takes time to repair a credit score and/or to build it up. Follow the steps outlined here and you’ll be on your way to a Triple AAA credit rating.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Is real estate a good investment? The long answer is yes

It seems it’s a tough world for Gen Y’ers – high student debt, shortage of jobs, living with parents longer, and now the dream of home ownership might have to wait. Yet, an RBC poll released early in April found that young Canadians see home ownership as a good investment and 41% of the respondents plan to buy. The poll also found that 86% of those aged 25-34 believe owning a house or condo is a solid investment, up from 78 % last year.

So is real estate still a good investment?  The RBC poll confirms that it might be, at least as far a millennials go.  “The increase in the number of those who feel the housing market is a good investment, as well as the number of those who intend to buy, really highlights that Canadians have no doubt in the strength of the housing market”  said Erica Nielson, RBC’s vice president of home equity finance, about the poll results.

Here’s how the results breaks down per province:
  • Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies saw the biggest surge in home-buying interest over last year
  • Ontario, 24% said they have intentions to buy this year, up from just 14% in 2013.
  • In Alberta, 28 % said they hope to buy this year, up from 22 % in 2013.
  • Atlantic Canada also saw some increase in buyer intentions.
  • In B.C. the percentage of those who are likely to buy a home has increased slightly, from one-in-five (20%) in 2013 to more than one-in-five (22 %) in 2014.
Interestingly, a discussion initiated by the Globe and Mail asking the question about real estate as an investment received a lot of attention. Those who answered do believe that a home is an investment that builds wealth in addition to it being a place to live.

Let’s take a closer look at that. Those who are pro a home as a good investment will point to the increase in resale prices over the past 10 years, which have increased more than 6% annually since 2000, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which is triple the inflation rate. This increase helped improve a household’s net worth, unless you were under the age of 35.

In February, Statistics Canada reported that the median net worth for families increased 78% from 1999 to 2012 on an inflation-adjusted basis, or about 4.5% a year. However, in households where the age of the highest earner was under 35, net worth grew just 8.6% in total, or about 0.6 per cent a year. Since inflation averaged 2.2 % over that period, as reported by Rob Carrick in the Globe and Mail, “those young-adult households actually lost net worth on what economists call a real basis.”

That’s not really a surprise since gains in net worth have been driven by real estate appreciation and those under 35 years of age have less equity in their homes. Can they catch up? Well, prices can’t rise indefinitely – so say many economists – so that may not be helpful when trying to make a sound financial decision.  However, there are a few hot markets in the country that might buck the trend.

For example, in Alberta, and especially in Calgary, real estate is a growth industry. Heather Manna, Managing Partner and Mortgage Broker at TMG Millennium Mortgage Group in Calgary says that real estate definitely is a good investment. “Over the last few months we have seen lenders loosen the reins on financing restrictions, which is making it easier to qualify a consumer who is in the market to purchase a new home,” she said. “This, combined with the low mortgage rates, continues to make real estate a great investment, whether you are buying to occupy the home, or purchasing for an investment.”

And why not invest in real estate, Manna asks? “Just like the stock market there will always be lows and there is always a correction. It’s about keeping well diversified and that includes having your home in your portfolio,” she said. “If you need a roof over your head, you might as well be paying your own mortgage down instead of someone else’s.”

There is also a shortage of listings in the Calgary market, which is upping the prices there. The rental market is also very tight with a 1% vacancy rate. “If not purchasing a property long term for your family, the rental market proves to be aggressive year-after-year for income earning potential or a retirement plan,” Manna added.

Granted, Calgary may be an exception, however there are similar hot markets in both B.C. and on the Prairies. Ontario and the Atlantic provinces have hot areas. Some economists say that prices will struggle to show any real gains in the next five to 10 years unless you happen to be in a hot market. But in some of those markets affordability is the real issue and young people are looking for help with larger down payments from their parents.

The hidden story for Gen-Y’ers is debt load. Statistics Canada says under-35 households owed $36.44 per $100 in assets in 2012, by far the highest of any age group. Purchasing a home adds to that debt load, not only with mortgage payments, but interest, property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. If there is a modest 5% drop in house prices, then a 5% down payment equity position is wiped out.

However, in a Globe and Mail article published on Wednesday, April 23, Will Dunning, chief economist of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) says he thinks that home prices have turned.

Using data from the CREA, he said that sales of existing homes rose last summer and peaked in the August-September period. Although here has been a slight rise during the past two months, he doesn’t see this as meaningful.

Dunning referred to the Teranet-National Bank home price index, which shows a very gradual increase in prices over the last while. “If you take the price index and seasonally adjust it, it shows a sharp pick-up in price growth around the time I would have expected it to have occurred, and “the last data point hints that on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the period of rapid growth has ended – when it should have.”

With prices stabilizing, low rates, larger down payments, real estate starts to look better, especially as a long-term investment, which it actually should be. There was a time when a couple would buy a house, live there, raise their family there, and then retire there, mortgage free. We may be coming into those times once again.

 The most important question to ask is, “am I ready?” Consider a home a long term investment -- its value will fluctuate up and down over time, but eventually you’ll be mortgage-free. It’s a big commitment, but it’s also a great achievement. Home ownership offers a great deal of personal satisfaction, as well as financial stability.

There is no right or wrong time to buy a house. Mortgage rates and house prices will fluctuate but over the long term, home ownership is still a sound investment. 

Ask yourself:
  •  Are you at the point in your life where the idea of home ownership is attractive and makes sense, both now and for the long term? 
  • Do you qualify for a mortgage, and how much? If you don’t know, talk to a mortgage professional.
  • Can you manage the mortgage payments as well as other expenses that may come along with home ownership, such as maintenance costs and higher insurance fees? 
  • Do you have a down payment?
  • Do you have a strategy to take advantage of this low interest rate environment to more aggressively pay down your mortgage and accumulate equity?
If you answered yes, then it’s the right time to invest in real estate.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Why BMOs rate cut is good news for everyone

By Mark Kerzner, President of TMG The Mortgage Group

Last week BMO announced a cut to its 5-year fixed mortgage rate to 2.99%. This really isn’t a surprise since this is the third Spring in a row that the banks have been cutting fixed rates as a way to kick start the lending season. In both 2012 and 2013, then Minster of Finance quickly spoke against the move. This time, however, we have a new Minister of Finance who has stated that he will stay out of the mortgage market.

And like the last couple of times, the rate cut has given the broker industry a higher profile among consumers.

The first time we saw this offer we might have thought it was a blip, the second year we may have thought it a coincidence. Now that’s it’s happened again, we can safely call it a trend – during the Spring market, pricing seems to get hyper competitive. This is good news for both the mortgage industry and for consumers.

When BMO first introduced a 2.99% fixed rate more than two years ago, we posted a blog titled, BMOs Slap in the Face. Dan Pultr, Vice President of B.C. wrote, “brokers are silently cheering because this additional publicity will bring a renewed focus to the mortgage market; and the more noise generated by the banks, the more questions and more phone calls we get from clients.  As mortgage professionals, one of our goals is to educate the consumer to ensure they make the very best decision when it comes to their mortgage." 

In March 2013, we again wrote an article about the competitive mortgage market in the wake of BMO lowering its rate, albeit briefly, to 2.99%.

Let’s take a closer look at BMO’s recent 5-year, low-frill special:

  •  It comes with a lower maximum amortization: 25 years max
  • There is less lump-sum pre-payment ability: 10% maximum per year
  • There’s a smaller payment increase option:  Up to 10%, once per year
  • It’s a locked term:  The low-rate mortgage is fully closed unless you sell the property, refinance (with BMO only), or early renew into another BMO mortgage. In other words, unless you sell, you're not leaving BMO for 5 years.
Combine that with the fact that BMO's interest rate differential (IRD) for early payout is one of the worst out there; consumers may not want to risk being caught should they sell or have to pay out early.

There is, however, one big difference with this year’s rate offer -- the market was already at or near the 2.99% level. In some respects the banks have lagged instead of led.

Once again, the positive aspect is that it raises awareness for the mortgage industry and helps brokers reinforce their value proposition.

The other positive, is that other lenders will likely follow suit and match BMO’s rate or even go lower, which is good news for  consumers. So, whichever way you look at it – BMO’s rate-cutting trend is a win-win situation.