Mortgage Basics

Different Types of Lenders in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

Different Types of Lenders in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide
Written by
  • Ashley Howard
| 29 September 2023
Reviewed, 29 September 2023

Table of contents

    When securing a mortgage in Canada, there are different types of lenders to consider. Understanding the distinctions between these lenders is critical for borrowers who may not qualify or are seeking alternative options compared to what traditional banks or lenders may offer. 

    In this post, we will explore the various types of lenders in Canada and delve into the pros and cons of each. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, looking to refinance, or facing financial challenges, this guide will provide valuable insights to help you decide which option is right for you.

    Key Takeaways

    • A lenders are traditional lenders that have strict lending criteria and offer competitive mortgage interest rates to those who qualify. 
    • B and private lenders offer alternative lending solutions for those who may not meet the strict equity or income-qualified lending criteria with A lending. 
    • Some lenders will have access to both A (prime) and B (alternative) lending solutions.

    A Lenders: Traditional Lending Sources

    A lenders, also known as prime lenders, are traditional lending sources that could include banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. These lenders typically have stringent qualification criteria and offer low interest rates. Most A lenders are subject to federal regulations and stress tests, which determine a borrower’s ability to afford mortgage payments based on the five-year average posted interest rate of 5.25% or a rate two percentage points above the offered rate, whichever is higher. 

    Note: Credit Unions are not regulated by their provincial mortgage regulator and may not be required to subject all their borrower’s mortgages to the stress test.

    Qualification Criteria

    To qualify for a mortgage with an A lender, borrowers must meet certain eligibility criteria, including:

    A Lender Pros and Cons

    Pros of A Lenders:

    • Lowest interest rates: A lenders often offer lower interest rates than other lenders.
    • Established institutions: A lenders are well-known financial institutions with a long history of serving borrowers.
    • Access to additional financial products: Most A lenders can provide a range of financial services, such as credit cards and savings accounts, which can be convenient for borrowers.

    Cons of A Lenders:

    • Stringent qualification criteria: A lenders have strict requirements for credit scores, income, and employment history, making it difficult for some borrowers to qualify.
    • Limited flexibility: A lenders may have less flexibility when accommodating unique financial situations or property types.
    • Longer approval process: The approval process with A lenders can be time-consuming due to the stringent regulations and documentation requirements.

    B Lenders: Alternative Mortgage Options

    B lenders, also known as subprime lenders, offer mortgage options for borrowers who do not meet the qualification criteria of A lenders. B lenders include financial institutions, mortgage investment corporations (MICs), and alternative lenders. These lenders focus on borrowers with higher equity or net worth, non-traditional or self-employed income sources, or unique financial circumstances. 

    Mortgage Options for B Borrowers

    B lenders provide a range of mortgage options tailored to the needs of B borrowers. These options may include:

    • Subprime mortgages: Subprime mortgages are designed for borrowers who need to qualify on higher debt-to-income (GDS and TDS) ratios.
    • Second mortgages: B lenders can also provide second mortgages on top of existing mortgages, allowing borrowers to tap into their home equity.
    • Alternative income verification: B lenders may accept alternative income sources, such as self-employment, grossed-up (corporate) or rental income, for qualification purposes.

    B Lender Pros and Cons

    Pros of B Lenders:

    • Greater flexibility: B lenders have more flexibility when it comes to qualification criteria, allowing borrowers with higher debt ratios or unique financial situations to secure a mortgage.
    • Faster approval process: Compared to A lenders, B lenders often have a quicker approval process, allowing borrowers to secure financing in a shorter timeframe.
    • Access to a wider range of properties: B lenders may be more willing to finance properties that do not meet the strict criteria of A lenders, such as unique or unconventional properties.

    Cons of B Lenders:

    • Higher interest rates: B lenders typically charge higher rates than A lenders to compensate for the increased risk associated with lending to borrowers with higher debt-service ratios or non-traditional income sources.
    • Shorter loan terms: B lenders may offer shorter loan terms, which could result in higher monthly payments compared with longer terms offered by A lenders.
    • Limited options for refinancing: B borrowers may face challenges as they are limited by refinancing as a renewal option to switch to  A lenders.

    Note: Incorporated individuals receive the biggest benefit with B lending guidelines as they will be able to qualify with the untaxed income left in their corporation.

    Private Lenders: Flexibility Beyond Income

    Private lenders, or syndicate lenders, are individuals or entities that provide mortgage financing without the strict regulations imposed by A and B lenders. Private lenders are often high-net-worth individuals or businesses specializing in private lending. They offer flexible non-income qualified (NIQ) financing options and can consider borrowers with unique financial circumstances or properties that may not meet the criteria of traditional lenders.

    Benefits of Private Lending

    Private lending offers several benefits for borrowers, including:

    • More flexible qualification criteria: Private lenders focus primarily on the equity in the property and the borrower’s ability to repay the loan (or considering there is enough equity to recoup losses), allowing for more flexibility in qualification criteria.
    • Fast approval process: Private lenders can offer quick approval and funding as it’s mostly done over the phone without the need to complete tedious paper or virtual applications, which can benefit borrowers who need financing urgently.
    • Creative financing options: Private lenders can structure mortgages in unique ways, such as interest-only payments or flexible repayment terms tailored to the borrower’s needs.

    Note: The biggest downside of working with a private lender is that they typically offer mortgage terms shorter than a year and may not offer renewal options. Private lending should be taken as a short-term solution with an exit strategy in place.

    How Private Lending Works

    Private lending involves a direct agreement between the borrower and the private lender without the involvement of traditional financial institutions. Private lenders assess the value and equity of the property and evaluate the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. The terms of the loan, including interest rates and repayment terms, are negotiated between the borrower and the lender.

    Choosing the Right Lender: Factors to Consider

    When selecting a lender, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure the best fit for your financial situation and goals. 

    Credit Score and History

    Different lenders have different credit score requirements. If you have a lower credit score, you may need to explore options with B lenders or private lenders who are more lenient.

    Income and Employment Stability

    Traditional lenders typically require stable employment and documented income. If you are self-employed or have non-traditional income sources, B or private lenders may be more accommodating.

    Property Type and Condition

    Certain lenders may have restrictions on financing specific property types, such as rural properties or fixer-uppers. Ensure that the lender you choose is willing to finance the type of property you are interested in.

    Interest Rates and Terms

    Compare interest rates, terms, and repayment options offered by different lenders. Consider both short-term and long-term affordability when assessing the suitability of a mortgage product. When looking at short-term solutions, always have an exit strategy mapped out.

    The Application Process: What to Expect

    Applying for a mortgage with non-traditional lenders involves a slightly different process than A lenders. Here’s what you can expect:

    Documentation Requirements

    Non-traditional lenders may require different documentation compared to A lenders. Prepare to provide proof of income, tax returns, bank statements, and other relevant financial documents.

    Appraisal and Property Assessment

    The lender will assess the value and condition of the property to help determine the amount of financing you can secure.

    Approval and Closing

    Once your application is approved, the lender will provide you with a mortgage commitment outlining the terms and conditions of the loan. Ensure that you carefully review and understand these terms before signing.

    Common Misconceptions about Non-Traditional Lenders

    There are several misconceptions surrounding non-traditional lenders. Let’s address some of these misconceptions:

    Myth 1: Non-Traditional Lenders Charge Exorbitant Interest Rates

    While it’s true that non-traditional lenders typically charge higher interest rates compared to A lenders, these rates are justified by the increased risk they take on when lending to borrowers with lower credit scores or unique financial circumstances.

    Myth 2: Non-Traditional Lenders Only Serve Borrowers with Bad Credit

    Non-traditional lenders cater to a wide range of borrowers, including those with good credit who may not meet the strict criteria imposed by A lenders or those seeking more flexible financing options.

    Myth 3: Non-Traditional Lenders Lack Regulation and Oversight

    While non-traditional lenders may have less regulatory oversight compared to A lenders, reputable private lenders and B lenders often adhere to industry best practices and ethical lending standards.

    Tips for Working with Non-Traditional Lenders

    If you’re considering working with non-traditional lenders, here are some tips to keep in mind:

    • Do your due diligence: Research and compare different lenders to ensure they are reputable, licensed, and have positive customer reviews. Look for transparency in their loan terms and customer service.
    • Seek professional advice: Consult with a mortgage broker or financial advisor specializing in non-traditional lending to help you navigate the process and find the best lender for your needs.
    • Review loan terms carefully: Read and understand the terms and conditions of the loan before signing any agreements. Pay attention to interest rates, repayment terms, prepayment penalties, and any additional fees.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I know which type of lender to choose for my mortgage?

    The type of lender for your mortgage will depend on your income, credit score, the type of property you want to finance, how much down payment you can afford, and how much flexibility you want with your mortgage.

    Which lenders offer better mortgage rates?

    A lenders generally offer the best mortgage rates because there is less risk to lenders with highly regulated traditional mortgage solutions. B and private lenders will price in the additional risk of lending when offering you a mortgage rate, resulting in higher rates.

    Can an A lender also be a B lender?

    Some A lenders will also have a B lending division and can be considered A and B lenders. They are able to do this through a separate arm of their mortgage business, allowing them to offer a B lending solution to applicants who do not meet the requirements for their A lending.

    Final Thoughts 

    When securing a mortgage in Canada, borrowers have various options beyond traditional A lenders. B lenders and private lenders offer alternative financing solutions for individuals who may not meet the strict criteria imposed by A lenders. 

    Non-traditional lenders can provide flexible and tailored mortgage options, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, self-employed, or facing financial challenges. Remember to thoroughly do your research, seek professional advice, and carefully review all terms and conditions to ensure you choose the right lender and mortgage solution for your unique circumstances.Are you looking for a lending solution that meets your needs? Reach out to us to see how you can compare and save on your mortgage today.