BMO 2.99% No Frills mortgage needs another look.

It’s January 25, 2012… that’s the original deadline date issued by BMO for their NO FRILLs 2.99% 5 year fixed rate mortgage.   Since announcing that 2.99% rate, BMO has reportedly been flooded with calls and applications.  And rightfully so.  That’s the lowest advertised 5 yr fixed rate in history.  (we need to say thank you to BMO… they woke up the competition and the competition answered.. we have seen competitive offers from the non-bank lenders… no restrictions or limitations…   This is great news for the consumer.)

This product has also drawn some criticism…There was an interesting articles asking if this product was too good to be true….  click here to see what The Toronto Star thinks.

Let’s look at the restrictions and limitations more closely…    If you are 100% certain about the next 5 years in your life, your job, your health, your family’s health, then this may be a great product for you…. But if you look at the stats, we, as Canadians, on average refinance or change mortgages every 3 years…  With that in mind, the product can be very costly for the unsuspecting borrower….read on and I’ll explain…

I’m not too concerned with the limited prepayment privileges.   The biggest potential risk to borrowers is the inability to refinance outside BMO should they experience some financial problems in the next 5 years.   If a borrower runs into financial problems and needs to take the mortgage elsewhere, because they won’t qualify for a BMO refinance,  they can’t do it.  The mortgage can only be paid out if the house is sold…

An an even bigger problem is the BIG SIX penalty calculation…. let’s say you can somehow refinance in 2 or 3 years with BMO, or you do sell the house and are not porting the mortgage… well, now you must deal with a penalty calculation that makes you pay for the original discount you received at the time of the original mortgage….   And LOOK OUT…This is where we have seen penalties of 6, 9, 12, 14 and even 16 months worth of interest being charged by the Banks to get out of a mortgage..(click here to see how banks calculate their penalties).  (hey, Federal Government, didn’t you promise to standardize mortgage penalty calculation 2 years ago??… when is that going to happen?))

And if you need more money added to your mortgage, what assurance will you have that BMO or any other BIG SIX bank, will give you a good rate or a discount on those new monies?   None… they certainly won’t have to, given your penalty to exit would be higher than other non-bank lenders…    This subject is not talked about very much by the media or by the banks… We will be commenting on this further in future posts….  (hey, how about CIBC and that class action lawsuit over mortgage penalty charges??… I’ll be making some comments on this soon).

Here’s some advice… seek out Lenders that have better penalty calculations... they are out there… they just aren’t as obvious as the Big Six Banks… talk to a mortgage broker and get some comparisons…  you might be surprised to know that competitive rates exist without having to give up your future options…

BMO’s No-Frills 2.99% mortgage offer is not ground breaking…just another trap by the Big Banks..

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT…. 5 years fixed No-Frills mortgage for 2.99% by BMO….wow, can you believe it?    Well, don’t get too excited…  At CanadaMortgageNews.ca we  give you the straight talk…  and guess what, No-Frills mortgages aren’t anything new…

I’m giving a BIG THUMBS DOWNS to this product… and you should too…

I’ve had access to these products in the past and we still have access to them….  but I have NEVER recommended it to any of my clients….  the limitations can be too costly and any potential savings can easily be eaten away with prepayment penalties, fees and the inability to even exit the mortgage…. That’s right, you can’t exit the mortgage in many cases…  read on, I’ll explain more..

Make sure you understand how the rates are calculated

Before you start thanking BMO and putting your arm around the banker’s back, you should understand that rates have been inflated for several months… they should actually be much lower…..

Fixed mortgage rates are closely priced to the Govt of Cda bond yields.   5 year Bond yields have been below 1.50% since Nov 1….and have been hovering at around 1.30% since Dec 1.   Historically, the best discounted rates are between 1.25% and 1.50% above the bond yields….  That means fixed rates should be at around 2.80%…. Okay, let’s add in a premium for some market uncertainty….  That doesn’t explain why 5 yr Fixed mortgage rates have not been below 3.29%?

Well, I think Canadians are smart enough to know why the savings hasn’t been passed down to them….  yup, Banks are just maximizing their profits…  And now, this past week, we saw an announcement that BMO was announcing a special low rate…  5 years fixed for 2.99% …  WOW, that does sound great…doesn’t it?    Well, maybe not… let’s take a closer look before giving this product the ‘thumbs up’.

A closer look at BMO’s NO-Frills 2.99% special

There are too many limitations to this product…

-maximum amortization is 25 years.   your prepayment privileges is reduced to and annual lump sum payment of 10% of the original principal balance and you can only increase your payment by 10%.

-90 day rate hold instead of the usual 120 day rate hold.

-you cannot payout this mortgage prior to maturity unless through a bona fide sale…

-you can only refinance the mortgage with BMO and not with any other lender before maturity…. this will all but eliminate your ability to negotiate the rate… a huge loss for borrowers….  ( you can take your mortgage with you if you move to another house but if you need more money, you will have to negotiate the rate… do you really think BMO will give you the best rate at that time???).

-BMO’s penalty calculation… the BIG SIX banks have the worst penalty calculation formula in Canada.   This is one of the biggest kept secrets in the industry… If you had to pay your mortgage early, for any reason.. or if you had to refinance, you would be hit with a penalty calculation that could break your savings account…  That’s because the BIG SIX banks use a formula that makes you pay for your mortgage discount, for the entire term of the mortgage… read this article on how they do it…. don’t get caught having to pay a 10, 12, 14 month interest penalty….  (just worked out a mortgage penalty for a client.. if they stayed with RBC, they would have to pay a penalty of $7,000, if they went with one of our wholesale lenders, they would only pay $2,000.  this penalty calculating formula is similar to BMO).

By the way, the competition has responded and bettered BMO’s offer

There is some good news to BMO coming out with this product…  just as we are writing this, we see that a big lender has come out with a 4 year fixed rate of 2.99% with NO restrictions or limitations…  For us, that eliminates BMO’s Low rate special as a serious competitor in the mortgage market.  But thank you, BMO, for pushing the Lenders…

My advice, stay away from these No Frills mortgage…   speak with your mortgage broker and get full disclosure on this and other products before making any decisions that could end up costing you dearly…

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