MORTGAGE

What is a pre-approved mortgage?

It’s a written commitment from a lender that you will get a mortgage for a set amount at a set interest rate, locked in for 60 - 90 days, depending on the lender. The commitment is subject to a financial assessment and property appraisal. This service is always free and without obligation.

Why do it?

A pre-approved mortgage gives you an edge. Before you even start house hunting, you’ll know how much you can afford, your interest rate, and your monthly payments. With your financing already mapped out, you can concentrate on finding the right home in your price range.

A pre-approved mortgage shows you’re a serious buyer. In a situation where several people are bidding on the home you want, you may decide to offer the list price or over and beat out earlier offers.

Mortgage terms explained

Mystified by all the financial jargon used to describe mortgages? Here’s a quick overview of key terms to help you understand the language - and make the process clearer and easier.

Mortgage

A personal loan used to purchase a property. You pledge the property being purchased as security for the loan.

Down payment

The portion of the purchase price that you pay initially as a lump sum; the rest is financed by your financial institution. A down payment is generally between 5% to 25% of the purchase price.

Principal

The amount of your loan.

Interest

This is added to the amount you have borrowed to compensate the lender for the use of their money. Your mortgage is repaid in regular payments which are applied toward the principal and interest.

Term

The number of months or years the mortgage contract covers (typically six months to five years), during which you pay a specified interest rate.
Amortization


The number of years it will take to repay the mortgage in full. (This is usually longer than the term of the mortgage.) For instance, you may have a five-year term amortized over 25 years.

Equity

The difference between the value of your property and the amount you still owe on the mortgage.

Conventional mortgage

Offered to buyers who make a down payment of 20% or more of the appraised value or purchase price.

High ratio mortgage

Offered to buyers with a down payment of less than 25%. This type of loan must be insured against default by the federal government through an approved private insurer (the lender usually arranges this). The borrower pays a one-time insurance premium to the insurer (ranging from 0.5% to 3.75% depending on the size of the loan and value of the home; additional charges may also apply). The premium is usually added to the principal amount of the mortgage. If you default on your mortgage, the lender is paid by the insurer.

Fixed rate mortgage

Carries a set interest rate for a specific period of time (the term of the mortgage). The regular payment of the principal and interest remains the same throughout the term. The benefit of choosing this option is that you are protected if interest rates rise.

Open mortgage

Gives you the flexibility to make unlimited pre-payments or lock into a fixed term at any time. This loan’s interest rate changes periodically, and is tied to the prime rate.