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When it comes time to apply for a mortgage, many Canadians automatically look to their bank. While these traditional lenders offer a variety of mortgage products, they’re not the only source for home loans.

Borrowers who can’t qualify for a mortgage with their bank due to strict lending criteria may want to look to private mortgage lenders in Canada. Let’s take a closer look at private mortgage lenders to help you decide whether they’re a better option for you when applying for a mortgage.

Key Points

  • Private mortgage lenders are individuals or companies that lend money to borrowers in an effort to earn a return.
  • In Canada, private mortgage lenders are not federally regulated, so their loan criteria are less strict compared to traditional lenders.
  • Borrowers with bad credit can get approved for mortgages with private lenders.
  • In exchange for easier loan requirements, private mortgage lenders typically charge higher interest rates.

What Are Private Mortgage Lenders In Canada?

A private mortgage lender is an individual or company that lends out its own money. In Canada, these lenders are often referred to as B lenders or subprime mortgage lenders. Because they don’t fall under the same regulatory framework as regular mortgage lenders, they can offer mortgages to Canadians who can’t pass the stress test or who have bad credit scores.

Types Of Private Mortgage Lenders

  • Individuals. These private mortgage lenders are simply individuals who lend out their money in hopes of gaining a return.
  • Mortgage Investment Corporations. This involves a group of investors who pool their funds and can lend to multiple people who meet their lending criteria.
  • Syndicate – This involves a group of investors who pool their funds for a single borrower or on a case-by-case basis.

Types Of Mortgages Private Mortgage Lenders Offer

Private mortgage lenders offer many of the same loan products that you’d get from traditional big banks, including the following:

First Mortgages 

If you need to finance the purchase of a home, you’ll usually need a mortgage. These are secured loans repaid in regular installments, plus interest until the end of the amortization period

Second Mortgages

Your first mortgage is the primary lien against your home that takes precedence over all other mortgages you might take out. A second mortgage, on the other hand, is second in line to be repaid. 

That means, if the home is sold or you default on your mortgage payments, the first mortgage will be the first to be paid off before the second mortgage. For this reason, second mortgages are a little riskier for lenders. As such, these mortgage lenders in Canada will likely charge a higher interest rate. 

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Types Of Mortgages You Can Get With A Private Mortgage Lender In Canada?

Private mortgage lenders may offer various mortgage products including first mortgages, bad credit mortgages, second mortgages and mortgage refinancing.

Second Mortgages 

If you’re looking to tap into your home equity, there are a plethora of private mortgage lenders you can choose from. If you’re someone with bad credit or low income, you can still access your home equity through private mortgage lenders like Alpine Credits. They base their approvals on the amount of equity in your home, not your credit or income. 

Moreover, private mortgage lenders like Alpine Credits often provide approvals within 24 hours or less. You can also get a quote to see how much you qualify for without hurting your credit score. 

Bad Credit Mortgages

A bad credit mortgage is one that is designed to help borrowers with poor credit scores obtain a mortgage. A traditional mortgage requires a good credit score for approval. If you’re unable to get approved for a conventional home loan because of sub-par credit, a bad credit mortgage may be an option. 

Keep in mind, however, that these mortgages often come with higher mortgage interest rates.

Mortgage Refinancing

Refinancing your mortgage involves replacing your current mortgage with a new home loan. The most common reason to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate to save money, though refinancing can also be an option to change other loan terms or shorten the amortization period. 

Banks Vs. Private Mortgage Lenders

How do private mortgage lenders differ or compare to banks? Let’s take a look at certain features of each and see how they compare to one another:

BanksPrivate Mortgage Lenders
FeesLower feesHigher fees
Interest RateLower interest rates compared to private lendersHigher interest rates than banks, which can range from 6% – 20%+, depending on the property and economic environment
TermsLonger terms (from 1 – 5 years)Shorter terms (typically 1 year)
Borrowing AmountUp to 80% of your home’s valueUp to 85% — 95% of the home’s value
Application ProcessMore stringent approval process that requires high income and credit scoreEasier application and approval process
Credit score requirementGood credit score of at least 660 requiredFair to poor credit accepted

Private Mortgage Lender Borrowing Requirements

Banks place a lot of weight on a borrower’s credit score when determining whether to approve a mortgage application. A credit score tells lenders how likely a borrower is to make their payments on time.

Borrowers with low credit scores may have trouble getting approved for a mortgage from a conventional bank. On the other hand, private lenders don’t put as much emphasis on a credit score when reviewing a mortgage application. That said, they do look at other factors and may have more stringent requirements in other areas to assess risk, such as:

Property Value 

One of the most important factors that private lenders use to assess a mortgage application is the home itself. Ideally, the home should be in good condition and must be appraised by a professional. Lenders will want to make sure their funds are going toward a secure asset in case you default on the mortgage, especially if you have low credit.

Income And Debt-To-Income Ratio (DTI)

Your income will need to be high enough to cover your mortgage payments and all other financial obligations you have. Your lender will assess your income and level of debt to ensure you can afford to pay your mortgage. In general, lenders prefer a DTI ratio of 44%, however, some may still accept higher amounts.

Down Payment

Private lenders typically require borrowers to have a down payment of at least 15% to 20%. The higher the down payment, the better, as it will increase your approval odds and reduce your monthly mortgage payments. 

Equity (For Refinancing)

Private lenders might let you refinance up to 85% in loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. For instance, if your home is currently appraised at $500,000, you can refinance up to $425,000. The exact amount will ultimately be up to the individual lender. 

Can New Immigrants Get A Mortgage Through A Private Mortgage Lender?

New immigrants may have more difficulty getting a mortgage in Canada because of the following:

  • Limited/no credit history. New immigrants to Canada typically have limited or no Canadian credit history. This can make it much more difficult for them to get approved for a mortgage with a conventional lender. Credit bureaus like Equifax and TransUnion only gather credit data within Canada, so anyone with foreign credit would have to build Canadian credit from the ground up.
  • Limited/no employment history. Further, new immigrants will have a limited employment history in Canada. Conventional banks typically require a much higher down payment amount for borrowers who don’t have at least two years’ worth of Canadian employment history.

This is where private lenders can help. The hurdles that newcomers to Canada might face when applying for a mortgage can be avoided when applying with a private mortgage lender, as the criteria to get approved are slightly different than what big banks typically require. 

As long as applicants meet the above-mentioned criteria for private lenders — including a healthy income and higher down payment — they’ll have a higher chance of approval. 

Can A Self-Employed Person Get A Mortgage Through A Private Mortgage Lender?

One of the lending requirements needed to get approved for a mortgage with a conventional bank is at least two years of employment to prove a steady stream of income. For a salaried employee, this is typically not an issue. However, self-employed individuals might find this requirement difficult to meet, especially when their income fluctuates from year to year. 

Fortunately, private lenders make it easier for self-employed borrowers to get approved for a home loan. As long as the applicant can show some sort of proof of income that can support loan payments, there’s a higher chance of mortgage approval with a private lender. 

Do You Need Mortgage Default Insurance With Private Mortgage Lenders?

Mortgage default insurance covers the lender in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan. However, the borrower is the one responsible for paying the premiums, even though it’s the lender who is covered. 

Conventional mortgages require mortgage default insurance if the down payment is less than 20%, in which case the mortgage would be considered ‘high ratio’. Because of the higher risk for the lender to loan out a high percentage of the property’s value, mortgage insurance can protect the lender. 

Since private mortgage lenders are often not regulated by the government, mortgage default insurance is typically not an option. But other insurance criteria are still required, such as homeowners insurance to cover the property against damage from a fire or other natural disasters.

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Pros Of A Private Mortgage Lender

There are a few important benefits of private lenders, particularly when it comes to meeting stringent mortgage criteria. 

Fast Approvals

Applying for a mortgage from a private lender is much faster and easier compared to conventional lenders because they’re not required to follow the same set of stringent regulations that banks do. You may be able to get approved in as little as 48 hours after your application has been submitted.

Accepts All Types Of Credit

While higher credit scores are always best, lower scores may be accepted by a private lender. As such, you may have an easier time getting approved for a mortgage from a private lender than you would through a traditional bank.

Less Stringent Loan Requirements

Conventional lenders require borrowers to meet a list of strict lending requirements for approval, which can be tough for self-employed applicants or those with non-traditional ways of verifying their income. On the other hand, private lenders place more weight on other lending criteria, such as home equity, making it easier to qualify.

No Mortgage Stress Test

The mortgage stress test only applies to federally regulated lenders, like banks. Private mortgage lenders are not federally regulated, so they don’t have to put their clients through the stress test. This makes it easier for you to get approved for a mortgage, since you don’t have to qualify at a higher interest rate.

No Mortgage Default Insurance

Since private lenders are unable to get coverage through mortgage default insurance, you won’t have to worry about paying this extra expense.

Personalized Service

With a private lender, you receive a much more personalized service. The mortgage specialist you work with will ensure they know all the ins and outs of your situation so that they can provide the best options.

Freedom Of Choice

One of the best things about a private mortgage is that you choose who you want to work with. Often people who decide to go with a traditional lender simply have to work with the only bank that will approve them. This can feel limiting and like you have no say in the process. There are more options available for those who choose private mortgages.

Cons Of A Private Mortgage Lender

There are also a few drawbacks to consider before applying: 

High-Interest Rates

Private mortgage lenders generally work with higher-risk borrowers, for example, those with bad credit or those who can’t pass the mortgage stress test. In exchange for this higher risk, private lenders charge a higher interest rate than conventional lenders, making these loans more expensive. 

High Fees

Private lenders charge separate fees to secure their investment. As such, you’ll likely pay higher fees to take out a mortgage with a private lender compared to a traditional lender.  

When Should You Choose A Private Mortgage Lender?

Private mortgage lenders are great alternatives to more traditional lenders if you have poor finances or are struggling with bad credit. If one of the cases below fits your current mortgage situation, then you may want to consider working with a private lender:

  • You have bad credit
  • You’re self-employed
  • You have non-traditional income
  • You require more lenient payment terms
  • Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is too high
  • You want to obtain a second mortgage to finance a renovation
  • You wish to buy a unique property

Things To Do When Working With Private Lenders

If you choose the right private lender, one that you’ve heard good things about and that has the right credentials, working with them will be similar to working with a traditional lender. Private lenders want to work for you and with you to get the home loan you need. 

If you’re considering working with a private mortgage lender, consider the following:

  • Ask questions. When meeting with a private lender, ask as many important questions as you can to find out what they offer and if they can provide what you need based on your situation. They will be more than happy to answer all questions you have and ease any of your concerns.
  • Be prepared. Do your research, check for online reviews, and make sure the private lender you choose is the best fit for you and your mortgage needs. Have a good understanding of your finances and know what you’re willing to accept and what you won’t accept.
  • Understand the costs. A mortgage comes with fees and extra costs, no matter who you choose to borrow from. The best thing you can do for yourself is to know what those fees are before you decide.

Bottom Line

Private mortgage lenders in Canada make it possible for borrowers with different credit backgrounds to get approved for a mortgage that may not be possible through the traditional lending route. If you have a low credit score or don’t have conventional employment verification that traditional banks may require, you might have better luck with a private mortgage lender. 

Private Mortgage Lender FAQs

How much home equity can I borrow through a private mortgage lender?

Conventional banks allow you to borrow up to 80% of your home’s value. But with private mortgage lenders, you can often borrow more. Some private lenders let you borrow as much as 90% of the property’s value, but 85% is more common.

How long does the underwriting process take?

A mortgage from a private lender can take as little as a couple of days to get approval, compared to weeks that are typical with a traditional bank.

Can I get a mortgage with a private mortgage lender if I have bad credit?

Yes, private mortgage lenders often work with bad credit borrowers who have trouble getting approved for a home loan through a conventional lender. Unlike banks, private mortgage lenders care more about other factors, such as your income and the amount of equity you have in your home.

What is a collateral charge mortgage?

A collateral charge is a way to secure a mortgage against your home. Unlike a regular mortgage, a collateral charge mortgage allows the lender to lend you more money after closing without the need for you to refinance. This is because you’ve already been approved for the extra money.

Note: Loans Canada does not arrange, underwrite or broker mortgages. We are a simple referral service.

Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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