Interest rates are down – should you break your mortgage?
Tuesday Feb 23rd, 2021
The pandemic is causing many of us to re-evaluate our finances. If you are thinking of renegotiating your mortgage to take advantage of a lower interest rate, be aware that this could mean having to break your mortgage contract.
If you break your mortgage contract you may have to pay a fee, called a prepayment penalty.
Before breaking your mortgage, make sure the benefits outweigh the costs. Far too many homeowners who have broken their mortgage contracts have been shocked by penalties amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, or other fees required to complete the transaction.
Know the costs
Every mortgage contract contains different terms and conditions. Federally regulated financial institutions must provide you with key information in a box at the beginning of the mortgage agreement, including information about any penalties and fees that will apply if you break your mortgage contract.
As a consumer, you have the responsibility to read your mortgage agreement and understand the penalties and fees associated with breaking your mortgage contract. Call your financial institution to speak to a knowledgeable person for detailed information on prepayment penalties or check out the prepayment penalty calculator available on their website.
Consider other options
Some mortgage lenders may allow you to extend the length of your mortgage before the end of its term to take advantage of a lower interest rate. With this option, you don’t have to pay a prepayment penalty. Lenders call this option the blend-and-extend, because your old interest rate and the new term’s interest rate are blended. Keep in mind that you may need to pay administrative fees.
Depending on the cost to break your mortgage, it may be best to wait until the end of its term and shop around for a new contract that provides a lower interest rate or more flexibility.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides unbiased and fact-based information on mortgages you can count on. You can learn more about the costs of breaking your mortgage at canada.ca/money.
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