When your mortgage comes up for renewal, your lender will send you a letter suggesting you renew at their current offer. If you do, you’ll be renewing your mortgage with your eyes closed!
This is your moment of opportunity to negotiate the best possible deal, either with your current lender or with a new one. Do you know if the same lender remains your best choice? If you don’t, you aren’t alone.
At the end of 2011, Manulife Bank of Canada released the results of their latest consumer debt survey. They found that two-thirds of homeowners (65 per cent) did not compare products from several different lenders to make sure they were getting the best deal the last time their mortgage came up for renewal. Twenty per cent stayed with their current lender and did not negotiate, while 45 per cent stayed and negotiated but did not shop the market. Interestingly, the youngest age group surveyed (30-39) were the most likely to shop around (41 per cent) but also the most likely to stay with their current lender and not negotiate (24 per cent). This age group is in the most hectic period of balancing work and children, which often causes things to be left to the last minute and it’s easier to follow the path of least resistance.
You could save a considerable amount of money if you renew at a lower rate. A half percent difference on a $225,000 mortgage with a 20 year amortization can mean over $5,200 in interest savings over five years. Wouldn’t it be better to put that amount towards reducing your mortgage principal?
You also need to consider that your mortgage needs may have changed. This may be a good time to roll your high-interest credit cards and other debt into your mortgage to get one lower payment, boost your cash flow and save on interest costs. Or you may want to take some equity out for renovations, a second property or for investing.
Keep in mind that there are some administrative details and costs when switching your mortgage to another lender, but don't let this discourage you from finding out more. It doesn’t cost you anything to investigate your options or get a second opinion. When you switch your mortgage to a new lender, you will go through an approval process similar to when you took out the original mortgage. You can either assign your existing mortgage or you can apply for a new one should you want to borrow a larger amount to consolidate your high interest debt or complete some renovations.
Your lender may charge a discharge fee, and you may need to pay legal and appraisal fees if you are getting a completely new mortgage instead of switching your existing one. At that point, you should assess if the money you will save by switching to a better interest rate offsets those costs. The cost for you mortgage life insurance may also change. You won’t have to pay for your mortgage broker’s service (oac) because the lender selected pays compensation for the services and mortgage solution provided to you.
If a renewal is in your financial future, bring your renewal notice to a mortgage broker four months prior to your renewal date. There are some great options out there and they can help you look around.