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Jun 3, 2024reading time icon5 min

Mortgage traps : everything you need to know

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Katarina LacosteKatarina Lacoste
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Mortgage traps : everything you need to know
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Navigating the world of mortgages can feel like swimming through a sea of unfamiliar terms and options. From open versus closed mortgages to fixed or variable interest rates, and from amortization periods to prepayments and penalties, the choices can be overwhelming. It's easy to fall into traps when you lack extensive knowledge in this field. 

Even if your mortgage lender is an expert who can offer you a seemingly suitable and personalized package, it's crucial to remember that their interests ultimately align with their company.

Let's explore 5 common traps you might encounter when seeking a mortgage! 

1. Early repayment 

Did you know that making early repayments on your mortgage could sometimes result in financial penalties? Therefore, it's important to be cautious when considering early repayment, as it could end up costing you thousands of dollars. 

One option to avoid these penalties is to choose an open mortgage. While this type of loan allows you to make early repayments without restrictions, it often comes with higher interest rates.  

Alternatively, some financial institutions offer options for prepayment or increasing monthly payments, regardless of the type of mortgage you have. These options can allow you to pay off your mortgage faster without incurring penalties. 

In any case, it's essential to carefully evaluate the pros and cons to determine which offer suits your needs best. 

Woman analyzing financial documents

2. Mortgage tranches 

Some financial institutions provide customers with mortgage options structured in tranches, also known as mixed-rate terms. These terms might involve: 

  • The initial two years at a variable rate.
  • The following three years at a fixed rate.

It's important to note that with this type of agreement, you're typically unable to seek better deals between the different tranches.  

While mixed-rate mortgage terms can offer flexibility and advantages for some, they can also pose restrictions. Over time, some customers may end up paying more interest compared to traditional mortgage terms. 

3. Non-standard mortgage terms 

While some financial institutions may offer unique mortgage terms to differentiate themselves, it's essential to approach such offers with caution, as they often come with underlying motives.  

For instance, your bank might offer you a non-standard 65-month mortgage term when you apply for a mortgage during the annual period of lowest interest rates, such as spring. 

However, it's crucial to understand the potential consequences of such a term. Once this initial period ends, you'll likely find yourself renewing your mortgage during a less favourable time, in autumn, when interest rates tend to be less competitive and higher.  

This timing could leave you at a disadvantage when renegotiating your mortgage, potentially resulting in increased costs over the long term. 

Two people taking notes and making calculations

4. Mortgage life insurance 

When applying for a mortgage, your financial institution might encourage you to consider additional products like mortgage life insurance.  

However, it is important to know that mortgage life insurance is typically not obligatory. Despite its apparent importance, it's wise to evaluate whether it's truly necessary. You might already have similar coverage through your existing life insurance plan or via insurance provided by your employer. 

Furthermore, if you opt for mortgage life insurance through your lender, the premium is often rolled into your loan payments. Consequently, you end up paying interest on the premium at the same rate as your mortgage. 

Given these factors, it's prudent to shop around and compare mortgage life insurance options from various financial institutions to secure the best possible package with favourable terms and conditions. 

Someone signing a document

5. Incentive measures 

If you're embarking on your mortgage search and feeling unsure about which lender to choose, it's worth noting that some financial institutions may try to win you over with enticing incentives. These incentives can come in various forms, such as: 

  • Reimbursement of notary and appraisal fees
  • Cashback mortgages
  • Temporary discounts on interest rate, and so on.

However, it's essential to understand that in the realm of finance, nothing truly comes for free. Before accepting such offers, it's crucial to carefully consider all their implications. While you may initially perceive these incentives as advantageous and enjoy immediate benefits, in the long run, you may find yourself: 

  • Paying more interest
  • Taking longer to pay off your mortgage
  • Facing higher monthly payments.

Are you looking for a mortgage?

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