A mortgage in its simplest form is a contract. It has terms, conditions, rights and obligations for you and the lender. When you sign on the dotted line, you are agreeing to those terms for the length of time laid out in the contract. However, sometimes life throws us an unexpected event that brings around the need to make key decisions and changes. One of these changes, for whichever reason, might be needing/wanting to break your mortgage contract before the end of the term. Can you do that? What are the penalties? Let’s take a look!
To answer the initial question of can it be done, the answer is yes. Most mortgage lenders will allow this provided they receive compensation. Compensation is known as an Interest Rate Differential or IRD. When you started your fixed rate mortgage you had a rate of xx.x%, but the best they can lend to someone else right now is 1% less, so they want the difference. Seems fair, right? However, like most contracts, the fine print tells the true tale. The method in which the IRD is calculated is what borrowers should be aware of.
Let’s examine a few different calculations that can be used for IRD.
Method “A” -Posted Rate Method – Generally used by major banks and some credit unions
This method uses the Bank Of Canada 5 year posted rate to arrive at the formula to calculate the penalty. It also considers any discounts you received. These are the ones you will commonly see on their websites or when you first walk into the Bank or Credit Union. Now, rarely does anyone settle on that rate-there is a discount normally that is given. This gives you the actual lending or contract rate. When this method is used, you will be required to pay the greater of 3 months interest or the IRD. What that looks like is:
Bank of Canada Posted Rate for a five-year term: 4.89%
You were given a discount of: 2%
Giving you a rate of 2.89% on a five-year fixed term mortgage.
Now you want to exit your contract at the 2-year point, leaving 3 years left. The posted rate for a 3-year term sits at 3.44%. The bank will subtract your discount from the posted 3-year term rate, giving you 1.45%. From there your IRD is calculated like so:
2.89%-1.45% =1.44% IRD difference x3 years=4.32% of your mortgage balance.
On a mortgage of $300,000 that gives you a penalty of $12,960.
For most, that is a significant amount that you will be paying! It can equate to thousands and thousands of dollars, depending on the mortgage balance remaining. So what other methods are use? Let’s take a look at the second one.
Method “B”-Published Rate Method – Generally used by monoline (broker) lenders and most credit unions
This method is more favourable as it uses the lender published rates. Generally, these rates are much more in tune with what you will see on lender websites and appear to be much more reasonable. Again, let’s look at an example.
Your rate: 2.90%
Published rate: 2.60%
Time left on contract: 3 years
Equation for this: 2.90%-2.60%=0.30% x3 years=0.90% of your mortgage balance. A much more favourable outcome. On a $300,000 mortgage that would equate to only $2,700.
The above two scenarios operate under the idea that the borrower has good credit, documented income, and a normal residential type property. It is also a fixed rate mortgage, not a variable one. For variable rates, if the contract needs to be broken, generally the penalty will be a charge of 3 months interest, no IRD applies.
So, if you do find yourself in a position where you need to end your contract early get in touch with a mortgage broker to review your options. To avoid any surprises all together though, it is advised to consult with a mortgage professional right from the start. We are committed to ensuring that you make an educated decision when selecting a lender. Yes, we want to get you the best rate, but we also want to make sure you are taken care of.
Have more questions about Interest Rate Differentials and how they are calculated? Give us a call! We would be more than happy to speak with you and help you better understand the fine print on your mortgage.
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