Mortgage Basics

What do you need to know about mortgages in the context of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

What do you need to know about mortgages in the context of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?
Written by
  • Gregory Saget-Rudd
| Mar 19, 2020
Reviewed, Oct 11, 2023

Table of contents

    Naturally, we, at nesto, are deeply concerned about the Coronavirus, as are you. We have asked everyone from our team to work from home, and though we remain 100% operational, we understand that this particular time may generate many questions and concerns for homeowners and those looking for a mortgage.

    We have started to gather the information that may help you navigate mortgages and home ownership in this time of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. We will update this post as new information becomes available, so please check back regularly to see the latest information.

    We’ve divided this post into sections depending on the various situations.

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    You’re looking for a mortgage

    Due to many factors, rates from the lenders are changing rapidly with less notice than we are used to and in some cases, no notice at all. If you’re in the market for a mortgage (whether a new mortgage for a purchase, a renewal or to refinance), it’s worth staying up to date on the situation, especially if you haven’t yet locked a rate in.

    In this environment, considering there’s no cost or obligation involved, we are recommending that everyone in market secure a pre-approval rate while they home shop. You can start the process here with us.

    For those with a renewal around the corner, you can take the same steps to protect yourself as future home buyers should. You can secure an interest rate with a competing lender up to 120 days prior to your renewal date, giving you a chance to get a better offer.

    You’re closing a mortgage soon

    Social distancing, isolation, quarantines and self-quarantines due to the Coronavirus mean that the final steps of closing your mortgage can be disrupted, as they require signing documents with a lawyer or notary in person. This may impact you if you are due to finalize your mortgage in the coming weeks.

    A few notaries and lawyers are reaching out to the concerned parties (e.g. buyer and seller for a purchase) to see if they are willing to push back the purchase date until health risks are no longer an issue. If you can afford to, this may be a great solution. And you can reach out yourself to offer this possibility if it hasn’t been suggested yet. Make sure you speak with your mortgage professional before any decision is made to avoid any risks to your financing. 

    We are also looking at other options and what is being done elsewhere to find solutions, and will keep our users informed. One example is a law firm from Ontario conducting closing appointments completely by video conference, with a witness present of course. Another lender is exceptionally allowing digital signatures on legal documents previously required to be signed in person with the lawyer/notary as the witness. Hopefully other lenders will follow suit.

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    You already have a mortgage

    We don’t want you to worry about your payments if you’re financially impacted by COVID-19.

    For homeowners affected by income loss, your current lender might have one or more of these

    options for you:

    • Skip a payment feature
    • Defer a payment exception
    • Take special payment arrangements
    • Amend the amortization
    • And many more

    your online mortgage portal before calling (but we have attached a list of phone numbers for many lenders below if you need them).

    Important note: Skip a payment or deferred payments are not “deleted” payments. They are pushed back to be paid at a later date and interest still accrues.

    A note on mortgage servicing

    With many would-be borrowers across Canada racing into home ownership to take advantage of today’s low rates, existing borrowers opting to refinance, and those facing financial difficulties looking to enter the assistance programs, lenders have never been so busy at this time of year. While they are 100% operational with eligible staff working from home, their turn around times are generally slower than we are used to.

    As mentioned previously, we recommend checking the features of your online mortgage portal where possible, but if you do need to reach out to your lender by phone, here are the contact details for a number of lenders across the country.

    Lender Phone #
    ATB 1-800-332-8383
    B2B 1-800-263-8349
    Bank of Montreal 1-877-895-3278
    Bridgewater 1-866-243-4301
    Chinook Financial 403-934-3358
    CIBC 1-800-465-2422
    CMLS Financial 1-888-995-2657
    Connect First 403-520-8000
    Equitable 1-866-407-0004
    First Calgary Financial 403-736-4000
    First National 1-888-488-0794
    Haventree 1-855-727-0051
    Home Trust 1-855-270-3630
    HomeEquity Bank 1-866-331-2447
    HSBC 1-888-310-4722
    ICICI 1-888-424-2422
    Manulife 1-800-268-6195
    Marathon 1-855-503-6060
    MCAP 1-866-809-5800
    Merix 1-877-637-4911
    National Bank 1-888-835-6281
    Optimum 1-866-441-3775
    RFA 1-877-416-7873
    RMG 1-866-809-5800
    Royal Bank 1-800-768-2511
    Scotiabank 1-800-472-6842
    Servus 1-877-378-8728
    Street Capital 1-866-683-8090
    TD 1-888-720-0075

    We’ll be keeping this post updated as things evolve, so please come back and check for any changes.

    Until then, stay safe!

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