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Common mortgage broker questions

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A mortgage broker is a licensed professional who helps you connect with lenders and find the best mortgage offer based on your financial situation and goals. According to the 2021 CMHC Consumer Survey, 42% of Canadians arranged their mortgage through a mortgage broker and the top reason for doing so was to get a better rate.

Some of the specific tasks that mortgage brokers assist with are:

  • Helps with your mortgage pre-approval and mortgage application
  • Negotiate with lenders on your behalf to find the best mortgage rate and terms suited for your situation
  • Access to more lenders and products, as well as provides a higher chance of getting a mortgage for complex scenarios
  1. Mortgage pre-approval and mortgage application

Mortgage brokers can be a useful service for those who don’t have the time to call around and comparison shop with multiple lenders. They can be particularly helpful to those who are first-time home buyers or new to Canada, and are unfamiliar with the mortgage application process. More complex deals such as a real estate investor owning multiple properties or someone who is self-employed is also best handled through a mortgage broker. Their job is to help you through your mortgage pre-approval process (which sets your strategy from the beginning) and submit your mortgage application to the right lender to help you close on your mortgage. They will convey details of your mortgage, like the terms, conditions, penalties and prepayment flexibility. Luckily with online mortgage brokers, the process is faster and easier than ever before, since the applications can all be done online.

  1. Low mortgage rates based on your financial situation

Based on your financial situation and goals, your mortgage broker can help you find the best mortgage rates available to you. With access to all lenders’ rates and requirements, digital mortgage brokers can help you save time by comparing the different mortgage rates between lenders and work with you to build a strategy that fits your unique situation, or where you can compare the latest mortgage rates yourself.  

  1. Negotiate with lenders on your behalf

Mortgage brokers will compare mortgage rates from multiple lenders on your behalf and can ask lenders to match lower interest rate offers. You are more likely to get a better deal from certain lenders with a mortgage broker when they are the ones negotiating for you. That’s because they do large volumes with that lender and you benefit from the discounted pricing that broker gets access to. In addition to that, certain brokers will “buy down” the rate, meaning they cut their commission to get you an even lower rate.

  1. Access to more lenders and higher chance of getting a mortgage 

With complex borrowing scenarios, you’ll have a better chance of obtaining a mortgage with a mortgage broker since they have access to more lenders, including alternative or private lenders who will only deal with brokers. Banks have a very specific list of things they look for when approving a mortgage and unfortunately a lot of Canadians don’t fit that profile. If you are in a special financial situation where banks will not provide you with a mortgage, the broker can work with private lenders to get your deal funded.

Although mortgage brokers and real estate agents are both licensed professionals in the real estate industry and often work together on a deal, their specific duties are very different. A real estate agent helps you buy or sell a property, while a mortgage broker will help you secure financing relating to the property you are buying or already own.

Mortgage Brokers Real Estate Agents
Helps buyers and lenders connect Helps buyers and sellers connect
Helps their clients find the financing for their property Helps their clients with submitting a purchase offer or with reviewing offers when selling
Advises on financing strategy Advises on bidding strategy or listing price

There are thousands of licensed mortgage agents or brokers in Alberta and not all of them deliver the same level of service. It’s important to do lots of research when looking for a mortgage broker in Alberta and before agreeing to work with them. You can take a look at online reviews that past clients may have left for them or check out their social media pages and website. Most importantly, you want to ensure that they are qualified, reliable and legitimate.

If you’re looking for a mortgage broker in Alberta, the regulating body is the Real Estate Council Alberta (RECA). On their website, they maintain a list of all licensed mortgage professionals that you can use to validate someone is licensed. Working with a licensed professional not only ensures a minimum level of education, but also protects you if things go awry. One of many reasons would be that licensed agents are required to carry errors & omissions insurance (it’s like doctors having insurance for malpractice), which enables you to claim damages if the mortgage agent or broker was found to be in the wrong.

You can also confirm Canadian Mortgage Broker Licenses in other provinces: It’s important to ensure that your Alberta mortgage broker you’ll be working with is legitimate. After all, they will be helping you with the biggest purchase of your lifetime. Another great way to gauge if they would be a good fit is to browse their website for reviews from past clients and their social media.
RECA is the Real Estate Council of Alberta. They are an independent governing body for Alberta’s real estate brokerage, mortgage brokerage and property management licensees. They are committed to the public by setting, regulating and enforcing standards for those in the industry in Alberta as well as protecting consumers. Mortgage brokers in Alberta must meet RECA’s standards to enter the industry.
It can be stressful when looking for a mortgage broker in Alberta. You want to make sure you are both aligned on your goals and that they have your best interest in mind. Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether you should work with a mortgage broker in Alberta:
  • How are they with communicating?
You want to have a mortgage broker that you can communicate with effectively and will respond to your questions or concerns within a reasonable time. You also want to make sure you are aligned with the channels of communication and when you should expect responses by. The last thing you want is to be waiting around for a long time for them to respond and potentially miss out on opportunities.
  • How quickly can they get things done? 
The real estate market is fast paced where listings and offers happen 7 days a week, so every minute counts. You will want to know how quickly your mortgage broker can get things done so you don’t miss out on making an offer or getting your deal closed on time.
  • Are they approachable and knowledgeable?
This is important as you want to ensure that your mortgage broker can effectively work with you and your realtor in order to get things done effectively. Especially for complex deals, you also want to make sure that your mortgage broker has the skills necessary to properly structure the right deal for you.
  • Are they service oriented?
You want to feel like a top priority to your mortgage broker which can make a huge difference when it comes to working and communicating with them. You’ll feel more comfortable and at ease when your mortgage broker provides you with the support and care you want.

You should always ask plenty of questions to your mortgage broker before you commit to a mortgage offer. However, it is equally important that you are honest with your mortgage broker and answer all their questions truthfully, as the more they know about your financial situation, the better they can advise and assist.

Your mortgage is most likely going to be the biggest debt of your lifetime, so it’s crucial for you to understand exactly what mortgage you are signing up for. Some questions to ask your mortgage broker are:

  • How do I get pre-approved for a mortgage?

Getting pre-approved is important and will help you understand your purchasing power and the maximum you can afford. This will also introduce you to all the steps involved in getting your mortgage approved as there are important factors that will come into play, such as your income, employment, credit score, down payment amount and more.

  • How does the mortgage approval process work?

Mortgages take time to obtain so knowing the timeline and the necessary steps will help to avoid unexpected delays. With a trusted mortgage broker, they can help keep you informed and on track.

  • Is a fixed or variable rate mortgage better?

The right option for you will be a mixture of personal preference and the current economic environment, since mortgage offers can change as often as each day and the value of each option can differ. When you open an account with Perch, our tools help break down the economic value of either option and you’ll also be able to consult your dedicated mortgage broker to come up with a strategy that’s right for you.

  • Are there ways I can save on interest?

There are several ways you could potentially save on interest such as having a larger down payment if you can afford it, or choosing a mortgage offer with flexible prepayment terms. Shop around with your mortgage broker to see what other ways you can save.

  • Are there any prepayment privileges or penalties?

You can find lenders with good prepayment privileges so you can pay off your mortgage faster, however, you should be aware of any penalties if you break your mortgage early. Your mortgage broker will be able to provide you with all of these details before you sign.

  • What closing costs should I budget for?

Closing costs are often overlooked and forgotten about until the closing date. You will want to budget for land transfer taxes, home inspections, lawyer fees and more, so your closing can go smoothly.

  • Are there limitations to breaking the mortgage?

Your mortgage broker will know whether there are any limitations of the mortgage, such as the ability to switch lenders or refinance during your term. Knowing this information can help you determine which mortgage terms to look for (or avoid), depending on what you will want to do in the future.

Mortgage brokers work for their clients rather than the bank or other lenders, which means it’s in  their best interest to ensure you are always happy throughout the entire process. If a client funds a mortgage with that lender, they are paid a commission (also known as a finder’s fee) by the lender or mortgage provider. Most mortgage brokers in Alberta do not charge a service fee to the borrower, however it is best to clarify this before working with them.

If you’re thinking about becoming a mortgage agent in Alberta, here are some of the requirements you will need to fulfill:
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a Canadian high school diploma or equivalent
  • Complete the Mortgage Associates Program outlined by the RECA
  • Find employment and work with them to complete your licensing application
You will need to complete the Mortgage Associates Program in one year from start to finish, which consists of two courses. The first course is The Fundamentals of Mortgage Brokerage and is offered by RECA. The second course is The Practice of Mortgage Brokerage and is offered by the AMBA. In Alberta, there is a strong emphasis on work experience as a mortgage associate, so once you have completed the MAP, you are required to work for at least two years before you can apply to be a licensed mortgage broker with RECA.

There are many differences between working with a mortgage broker or getting a loan from the bank directly. One huge difference between working with a bank and mortgage broker is that banks are only able to offer their own products, while a mortgage broker has access to multiple lenders and different mortgage rates. Here are some differences between working with a mortgage broker and a bank:

Mortgage BrokerBank
Access to multiple mortgage products from a wide variety of lendersAllow you to consolidate your services and possibly offer discounts for bundling products
Possibly offer mortgage rates not available on the marketOnly have the ability to offer their own mortgage products
Provide personalized, independent adviceMay offer a discount on their posted mortgage rates, which you will be responsible for negotiating on your own
Will help you negotiate for a better rateBank mortgage specialists are not required to be licensed
Must be licensed and are required to take continuing education to upkeep their license 

Looking to buy a home, refinance or renew your mortgage? Connect with a Perch Mortgage Advisor today to discuss all of your options. You can also sign up for a free Perch profile and instantly compare hundreds of mortgage rates available to you, all with a few clicks.

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