How to Choose a Mortgage That’s Right for You

CMHC’s Homebuying Step by Step guide has the answers you need to your mortgage financing questions.Congratulations! You’ve decided to begin your search for a new home, or perhaps you’ve already found the home of your dreams and are ready to make an offer. It’s now time to consider your mortgage options. But with so many different choices available, how can you select the right kind of mortgage for your needs?

To help you make an informed decision, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following answers to some of the most common questions Canadians have about choosing a mortgage:

What is the difference between conventional and high-ratio mortgages? A conventional mortgage is a loan for up to 80 per cent of the purchase price (or market value) of a home. With a conventional mortgage, the buyer supplies a down payment of at least 20 per cent, and mortgage insurance is usually not required. If your down payment is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price, however, you will typically need a high-ratio mortgage. High-ratio mortgages normally have to be insured (by CMHC, for example) against payment default.

What are fixed, variable or adjustable interest rates? When you choose a mortgage, you have to decide whether you want the interest rate to be fixed, variable or adjustable. A fixed rate is locked-in for the entire term of the mortgage. With a variable rate, the payments remain the same each month, but the interest rate fluctuates in accordance with the overall market. For adjustable rate mortgages, both the interest rate and the mortgage payments vary based on market conditions. Talk to your lender to find out which option is right for you.

Should I choose an open or closed mortgage? With a closed mortgage, you pay the same amount each month for the entire term of the mortgage. Closed mortgages can be a good choice if you want a fixed payment schedule, and you don’t plan on moving or refinancing before the end of the term. An open mortgage allows you to pre-pay a lump sum or even the entire loan at any time without a penalty. An open mortgage can be a good choice if you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, or if you want the flexibility to make lump sum payments.

What about the term, amortization and payment schedule? The term is the length of time (usually from six months to 10 years) that the interest rate and other conditions of your mortgage will be in effect. Amortization is the period of time (such as 25 or 30 years) over which your entire mortgage debt will be repaid. Lastly, the payment schedule sets out how frequently you will make payments on your mortgage — usually either monthly, biweekly or weekly.

For more information or a free copy of CMHC’s Homebuying Step by Step guide, or for information on any other aspect of owning, maintaining or buying a home, visit our Web site at www.cmhc.ca or call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642. As Canada’s national housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been a source of objective, reliable housing expertise for more than 60 years.