Traditional vs Collateral Mortgage in Canada

Traditional vs Collateral Mortgage in Canada

When choosing mortgages in Canada, the fine print can easily confuse you. I know you may be asking the common questions about payments, rates, and so on, but you probably will not bother about the difference between traditional vs collateral mortgage.

My two cents is that banks do not even want clients to know there is a difference between Traditional vs Collateral Mortgage.   The truth is that all mortgages are different, yet a good number of banks in Canada are registering clients to collateral mortgages without consultation. Having noted that, the main agenda of this post is to compare traditional and collateral mortgages. In other words, which of the two options is better?

The Basic Differences

Traditional mortgage has been around for more than three decades. This is the “common” mortgage with components such as amortization, repayment period, interest rate and terms.

Collateral mortgage is a bit different. In this case, the lender registers a charge for the value of your house. Charges can even go to 125% of the full value of the house. The argument the lenders give is that you do not have to register another mortgage when borrowing more money. Therefore, this mortgage mostly suits people who want to refinance without incurring legal costs.

Voluntary Disclosure Not Working

In 2014, the Canadian Finance Minister signed an agreement with several banks for voluntary disclosure of information regarding collateral mortgage. By Jan 31, 2015, the banks were supposed to be providing specific information to their clients.

Does this mean that we dump our conventional mortgages and join the collateral mortgage bandwagon? I do not think so.

The voluntary disclosure thing does not seem to be bearing any fruits. The last time I checked some of the bank websites, there was nothing to suggest the contrary.

The Handcuffs of Collateral Mortgage

Banks will never tell you in black and white that collateral mortgage is non-transferable, and thus disadvantageous to most borrowers. With the freedom of movement constrained, the collateral mortgage can be a trap.

Hypothetically, here is an example of Morgan who  recently went to his mortgage broker in Ontario with the following details:

  • His home is worth $400,000
  • Outstanding mortgage worth $30,000
  • Fully advanced line of credit worth $300,000
  • Total owed $330,000

Morgan seemingly did not understand that his mortgage came in two parts: a fixed mortgage worth $30,000 and a line of credit portion worth $300,000.

Another fact that was in fine print is that mortgage was registered against the full value, $400,000. The interesting thing is that the bank only gave him $330,000. Now Morgan is in deep trouble because no institution is ready to give him a mortgage.

The Old-Fashioned Way

I think traditional mortgage is still the preferable choice. After the mortgage term, you can easily transfer or switch to other banks in Canada very cheaply. In case you need a second mortgage registered on top of the original one, your lender will usually approve. If you wish, you can also shop for another lender and get the mortgage. Check our mortgage payment calculator to better assess what you can afford.

In Summary

What is your lender offering you? Look at all the details and ask all the questions. Despite the accessibility carrot that collateral mortgage lenders dangle, this type of mortgage has problems in offsetting unpaid debts, transferring the mortgage, among others. I would choose traditional mortgage anytime for its flexibility in terms of transferring and borrowing. You should too, if you do not have any plans of refinancing or getting equity from your property.