Should brokers be able to charge cancellation fees?

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Three industry insiders give their views on this contentious issue.

Tony Piattelli (Mortgage specialist, Quantus Mortgage Solutions): 
“I don’t charge cancellation fees, so my initial response was, we shouldn’t. But in certain cases – if you’re doing a build or working with someone to repair credit – I do think you should be able to charge a fee.
 
With those files, there’s nothing to tie clients to us. There’s no thanks for the work we’ve already done. For a standard deal taking 30 or 60 days to go through, however, you don’t need cancellation fees.
 
There’s a differentiating factor that should be considered, particularly for those situations where there’s greater time investment on the part of the broker. People shouldn’t be getting access to our time and knowledge without some compensation.”
 

Andy MacDonald (Mortgage broker, Domus Financial Corporation): 
“Mortgage brokers have every right to be compensated for their services. By specifying an amount for liquidated damages – not a penalty or cancellation fee – in my closing documentation, I can be compensated for my services should the mortgage fail to close. I usually choose a nominal amount for the liquidated damages, demonstrating my goodwill toward the client.
 
I want the mortgage to close because I’ll be paid more if it closes than whatever I collect from liquidated damages. This simple clause solidifies the relationship with my client, and I almost never have to collect. When I provide a service, I expect to be compensated for it.”
 

Karen Boies (Mortgage planner, Dominion Lending Centres City Wide Mortgage Services ): 
“In some situations, I wish I could have charged a cancellation fee – for instance, when I’ve done all the work and the client chooses not to commit.
 
The first time it happened to me, I was helping a first-time buyer for more than six months. I got her approved with the rate, terms and conditions … [that] were best for her long-term plans. She signed off on the commitment but didn’t complete the mortgage with me. She took the commitment to her own bank, and they matched the rate.
 
Cancellation fees won’t stop this situation, but will prompt a conversation that might have the client thinking about their commitment to us.”
  
 
 
Taking back your time
Mortgage brokers lose income when clients back out of deals at the 11th hour. Many want to do something about this. The Mortgage Brokers Association of British Columbia (MBABC) is lobbying the provincial government to amend Section 5 of the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act. It prohibits advance fees, including cancellation charges. The MBABC argues brokers should be compensated for the time they invested in files prior to clients opting out. However, other industry players believe cancellation fees can leave a bad taste in clients’ mouths. They argue there’s more than enough business to go around – even when a deal falls through.
 
  • Bob on 2016-02-01 10:48:39 AM

    Here's an idea, if brokers want to be compensated for cancelled deals, how about banks/Financial institutions charge brokers for the deals that they don't fund and move to another lender?
    as the saying goes "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander"

  • Broker on 2016-02-01 11:19:36 AM

    MBABC is absolutely right to fight for the right to charge cancellation fees. FICOM is standing in the way of contract law for no good reason. Consumers sometimes get better deals with cancellation fee brokers. An informed consumer has the right to make that choice and not have the province make it for them.

  • Walid Hammami on 2016-02-01 1:19:25 PM

    Imagine a prospect that shops around and calls you on week ends and nights (because they work during the day) you give him all the best advise in the world you can afford. this prospect takes most of your time and detracts you from certain activities that you could benefit your business and health from (like business development activities, going to the gym etc...) He calls you after you got his deal approved and thanks you for you efforts but unfortunately he had to got with another broker/bank because they gave him a 50$ gift card with the same rate. Til next time buddy.

    Multiply that by another 30-40 prospects. And tell me how you feel about charging a penalty.

    After a few clients like that the broker will have a bad taste in his mouth. And will not act to his best when he meets a client, because he is fearful of the outcome. But once he knows he is protected, he will do all his best and will definitely help better his clients.

    You cannot take from the equation human nature. Believe me. The consumer is better served with cancellation fees.

  • Mike on 2016-02-01 1:33:33 PM

    Cancellation fees have to be disclosed properly and from what I see they are on a complicated form and consumers don't really know what they are signing. Plus if you are going to charge cancellation fee websites and advertising should not say your services are free. Be up front tell the client you are binding him in to this contract with a cancellation fee because you are lousy at doing your job and there is a good chance that someone will beat my rate. What consumer in their right mind would sign a cancellation fee documents if they fully understood it and knew that the banks and most brokers don't charge it.

  • Ron Butler on 2016-02-01 1:56:02 PM

    The consumer is actually best served by a service contract. If the mortgage broker cannot deliver the best rate or product as promised the broker pays the client some money, if the client takes the broker's commitment and just uses it as leverage to get a better deal from his existing lender, then the client should pay some money for the abuse of the brokers time and effort. If the purchase falls apart or the the appraisal fails or their is a title impediment, naturally the client pays zero. Very simple and most important very fair.

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