Broker fears that growth in collateral mortgages could darken their business horizons have come true, said one broker, pointing to his own impaired capacity to service clients.
“We’re saying 'no' more often now than we did in the past, and I can think of no less than six people since last year that we’ve simply had to turn away because there was nothing we could do for them,” David O’Gorman, broker/owner of MortgageLand Inc. in Markham, Ont., told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “It’s because they’ve signed up for a collateral mortgage with the banks, and have pledged all their equity to that bank. It makes it all but impossible for a second lender to come behind and provide a second mortgage or refinancing or even for a homeowner to switch lenders at renewal.”
Last fall, O’Gorman and other brokers raised the specter of a loss of business stemming from collateral mortgages when one of the major banks announced all new home loans would be secured by promissory note and backed by collateral – usually a first or second lien on the property. That supporting charge can be for as much as 125 per cent of the value, although, doesn’t, in fact, mean the borrower will have access to all those funds.
The collateral charges allow lenders to switch up the interest rate on a loan and lend more money to qualified borrowers after closing, without the client incurring additional legal costs. There is, however, a downside: they also limit the borrower’s ability to shop around for a new lender at renewal or to win refinance or to take out a second mortgage at another institution.
Most mono-lines and banks – as well as the private lenders O’Gorman deals with – refuse to accept the transfer of collateral mortgages, forcing homeowners to pay additional fees to register a new conventional or collateral mortgage in order to move the loan from the lending institution.
The consequences for homeowners are tremendous, said O’Gorman, who wrote to Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty last November, outlining his concerns. He also challenged the motives of the bank industry, now prepared to extend its collateral mortgage portfolio.
“Lending money to people, with ‘different to the norm’ conditions and increasing the borrower’s exposure to significant loss, all the while flogging a cheap closing service, enticing the borrower to go without the opportunity of having an independent legal opinion of the documents they are signing, just plain stinks,” he wrote in the two-page letter. “We will have to wait awhile for a decision by a judge crushing the ‘one-sidedness’ of these contracts. In the meantime a significant number of consumers will make ill-informed decisions, unless consumers and/or bank regulators take action.”
A policy advisor for Flaherty did contact O’Gorman for a brief discussion, although the broker doubts the matter will move beyond that initial outreach. He’s more certain about potential negatives for the broker channel as banks continue to shift to collateral mortgages, used to help them retain clients for the full life of the mortgage and not just the first five-year term.
“This is all going to end when mortgage brokers are all working for the banks and they’ve eaten up all the business,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca, echoing the sentiments of more than 30 comments posted on the site last fall. “I’ll still make a living, but I’m also concerned about making sure that people are treated fairly.”