Not long ago, someone contacted us wishing to refinance their mortgage. They presently held a mortgage from one of the big banks. When this homeowner originally obtained her mortgage, the bank offered her a discounted rate of 2.99%. It matured in July of 2016, however, when they contacted us at Dominion Lending Centres, they wanted to refinance to improve their cash flow because of recent major renovations. The mortgage was over $600,000.
At first thought, an Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty might seem to be so small because of the effective rate of 2.99%, that only a 3 month penalty would apply to break their existing mortgage. Wrong. Because the rate for the original mortgage was discounted from 4.64%, 4.64% was used when calculating the IRD penalty. So, instead of paying $5,157 dollars, the client was told they had to pay over $23,000 in order to break their mortgage with the bank.
A mortgage broker-channel lender, and there are many, uses the contract, or effective rate, when they calculate the IRD penalty on fixed rate mortgages, unlike the banks. Because they use the actual contract rate, the penalty would have been the lower one in the example above. An amortization scenario would determine if breaking the existing mortgage would be worth it by seeing the crossover point in time for making up the difference in savings. In the case above, it was not worth breaking, and the client had to wait until their mortgage matured.
The banks have, in recent years, implemented a new way of registering mortgages to assist in these situations. They often now register the loan as a collateral charge loan rather than a mortgage. This allows the bank to refinance the home loan on a house without a penalty if the client needs extra cash in the future. The disadvantage to this is that in order to break the loan agreement, even at maturity, the client either has to pay a lawyer or title insurance company to help break the loan agreement, costing approximately $600-$1000. Aware of this, at renewal, the bank can price the renewal rate accordingly, as they are aware that the client must pay this fee in order to leave the bank.
When purchasing a home or renewing or refinancing, it pays to ask details about pre-payment privileges and the costs associated with discharging your mortgage before the maturity date, as well as how the loan is going to be registered, ie. as a regular mortgage or a collateral charge loan.