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Navigating the Mortgage Maze: How Transactional Insurance is Changing the Game

In today's real estate landscape, the chasm between insured and uninsured mortgage rates has grown wider than ever before. Surprisingly, this divide has given rise to a unique scenario where low-ratio borrowers can often secure better deals by purchasing transactional insurance and opting for a default-insured mortgage rather than settling for higher uninsured rates. This phenomenon has transformed the dynamics of the mortgage market, prompting borrowers to explore new strategies to maximize their home financing options.


Unlocking the Mortgage Rate Hierarchy:

For those not well-versed in the nuances of Canada's mortgage rates, there exists a clear hierarchy: insured rates, insurable rates, and uninsured rates, ranked from most to least affordable. Think of transactional insurance as a backstage pass to the world of lower mortgage rates. By proactively purchasing this insurance, low-ratio applicants can gain access to the most attractive interest rates.


Intriguingly, there are scenarios where borrowers benefit from paying for insurance themselves instead of opting for insurable rates, where the lender takes care of insurance arrangements. The feasibility of this strategy hinges on several factors, including:

  1. The Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio: This approach is most effective for LTVs ranging from 65.01% to 75%.

  2. Borrower's Location: Regional disparities in the insured-uninsured rate gap can influence the decision-making process.

  3. Shopping Around: Diligent rate-shopping can reveal cases where purchasing insurance translates into substantial savings, particularly for borrowers who explore various mortgage providers.

  4. Mortgage Term: Typically, for terms less than five years, recouping the cost of transactional insurance may not occur within a single term, necessitating consideration of renewal periods.

Broker Jim Tourloukis of Advent Mortgage Services emphasizes the importance of tailored assessments for each borrower, noting that while the spread might not immediately justify the insurance premium, it could become advantageous in subsequent terms.

Why the Gap Exists:

The wide gulf between insured and uninsured mortgage rates is influenced by a multitude of factors. Mike Schilling, CEO of Community Savings Credit Union, offers insights into the driving forces behind this disparity. Lenders take into account wholesale spreads, capital availability, liquidity positions, credit risk, and yield curves when pricing insured versus uninsured mortgages.

Mortgage Insights

One significant factor contributing to the widening insured-uninsured mortgage spread is demographic targeting. Lenders are eager to attract younger customers, especially first-time homebuyers, with the aim of fostering lifelong relationships. Offering discounts on smaller mortgages is one way to entice this demographic, as it lays the foundation for a lifetime of financial transactions.


Community Savings Credit Union, known for its competitive rates, attributes its strategy to a long-term perspective and strong balance sheet performance. While insured rates are primarily funded through securitization, uninsured loans rely heavily on deposits, highlighting the influence of capital availability on lending decisions.


Schilling believes that the current trend of a wide insured-uninsured spread may eventually diminish. As lenders seek to refine their offerings, more may choose to cover the cost of transactional insurance for borrowers, enhancing the competitiveness of low-ratio rates.

Furthermore, Community Savings Credit Union operates through a broker channel, though rates offered there tend to be slightly higher. Schilling outlines three reasons for this:

  1. Higher Broker Compensation: Brokers receive more substantial compensation, impacting the rate differential.

  2. Non-Retention with Broker Mortgages: Brokered mortgages often have lower retention rates.

  3. Diminished Cross-Selling Opportunities: The ability to cross-sell other financial products may be reduced in brokered deals.

In conclusion, the mortgage landscape is evolving, and borrowers have newfound opportunities to optimize their financing decisions. Transactional insurance has emerged as a game-changer, allowing low-ratio borrowers to bridge the gap between insured and uninsured rates. As market dynamics continue to shift, it's imperative for borrowers to stay informed and collaborate closely with mortgage professionals to make informed choices tailored to their unique situations.

Ready to make the most of your mortgage options? Contact me today! I'm here to help you navigate the mortgage landscape and find the best solution tailored to your needs. Reach out now for expert advice and personalized guidance.


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