Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | December 13, 2010

Porting a Mortgage

There are always a lot of things to remember when packing up and moving house. You want to gather all your treasured and valuable possessions and make sure they arrive at the new place in one piece.

According to the recent TD Canada Trust 2010 Repeat Home Buyers Report, as well as packing up their worldly goods, one-third of home buyers also take their mortgage with them when they move house.

Before deciding if it is a good idea to port your existing interest rate and terms and conditions to the new place, mortgage advisors say, check rates and penalties and ask yourself how long you plan to stay in your new home.

“If you’re going to live there for the remaining term of your existing mortgage then it makes sense [to port] because you save yourself the penalties,” says Farhaneh Haque, mobile mortgage specialist, TD Canada Trust, Toronto. “You want to consider the cost of the penalty in real dollars versus the savings on the interest rate on the new property if the rate [you would get on a new mortgage] is lower. If you save more than the penalty that you pay today, then financially it makes sense for you to bite the bullet now and move into the new mortgage taking it at the current rate.”

Ms. Haque says if today’s rate is not lower, then it makes sense to take your existing mortgage with you rather than pay penalties and a higher rate of interest on a new deal.

Next question is how much equity do you have, and will you need more than your current mortgage to buy the new residence.

Advisors say check the details of your mortgage but that many lenders will do what is known as “blend and extend.”

“Say, today you have a $250,000 mortgage at 3.59% over 35 years, you’re going to be able to maintain that portion of your mortgage,” says Karen Blomquist, mortgage specialist with Mortgage Intelligence in Calgary. “Let’s say rates go up to 7%. Rather than renegotiating a brand new mortgage of say $350,000 at 7% … they’ll take the $250,000 at the 3.59% that you are enjoying today and then they’ll take the additional $100,000 and put it at the new rate and do a combination rate overall.”

Ms. Blomquist says you can look at the rate on your five-year deal as an insurance policy against future higher rates. She says if your mortgage is insured, say with Genworth, then check how much of a top-up fee you need to pay for the new portion of the loan.

Advisors recognize that taking your mortgage with you may not be the best option for everyone.

“If you were to move in a couple of years when rates may be higher, then I can see [porting being a good option], but right now we’re dealing with people that are still with the 5.89% and 6% rates,” says Della Dwyer, a mortgage broker with Invis in Barrie.

Ms. Dwyer says she would rather see these clients pay the penalty to get out of their higher rate mortgages so she can secure them a new deal with a lower rate. She says that it is really only those people with mortgages from the last couple of years who will likely have a rate lower than that prevailing today.

Ms. Haque says factor in life changes such as maternity or retirement and check how much it would cost to release more home equity. She says check the hard cost of moving a mortgage versus potential savings.

“Most mortgages are portable but they’re not all created equal. Are there going to be any fees that I have to pay when I port this over? How do you figure out what the new rate is when you’re adding more money?” says Ms. Blomquist. “Look at the fine print.”

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