Pattie Lovett-Reid: 5 questions to ask when shopping for a mortgage
When you look at your lifetime expenses, few will be bigger than your mortgage. And yet for many, there still continues to be a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the major expense.
You find yourself asking: Fixed or variable? Am I getting the best rate possible? What if I want to re-negotiate my mortgage, make a prepayment or anything else that might pop up? Not understanding the details of your mortgage could cost you thousands of dollars unnecessarily each year.
According to LowestRates.ca, close to 40 per cent of Canadians surveyed didn’t know that bank mortgages are negotiable. Clearly, the banks aren’t about to advertise this fact; however, never lose sight that they do want share of your wallet. And if you are a good-standing customer with other products and services, you are likely will get a better deal than the posted rate if you ask for it.
Here are a few questions to ask your banker when doing a little mortgage shopping:
1. Is the rate you're quoting me the lowest I can possibly get, given my track record as a customer and my mortgage preferences?
2. If I find a lower rate for a similar product elsewhere, will you match it?
3. How long will the you hold my rate for?
4. What are the penalties if I want to re-negotiate my mortgage should rates go lower?
5. How much and when can I make extra payments each year?
These are important questions given your mortgage payment can eat up a large portion of your monthly living costs. You owe it to yourself to secure the lowest mortgage rate possible, and that requires doing a little homework, asking the tough questions, and standing up for yourself.
Ratehub.ca reminds us that like shopping for a car or a plane ticket, there is also a “best time of year” to secure a mortgage. Based on historical data, the best five-year fixed and variable rates are between April and July. In other words – right now. The second most competitive time frame occurs between October and December.
One last thought: Securing the mortgage isn’t always just about the rate. It is key, but there may be other bells and whistles that you need to consider such as portability, amortization, renewal strategies and extra costs such as processing and legal fees. Once again, a little due diligence can lead to huge cost savings.