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Conventional vs. high-ratio mortgages: which is cheaper?

If you use a Montreal mortgage calculator, the first numbers you’ll enter are the home’s price and your down payment amount. Based on the size of your down payment, there are two types of mortgages: conventional and high-ratio.

A high-ratio mortgage is when the buyer’s down payment is less than 20% of the home’s purchase price. When this happens, it’s mandatory for the buyer to purchase mortgage loan insurance from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Also known as CMHC insurance, it protects the lender if you stop making your mortgage payments.

With a conventional mortgage, the buyer’s down payment is at least 20% of the home’s purchase price. Conventional mortgages don’t require CMHC insurance.

Conventional 5-year fixed mortgage rates vs. high ratio 5-year fixed mortgage rates in Quebec

DateAverage Conventional RateAverage High Ratio Rate
04/20 2.78%2.55%
05/20 2.72%2.49%
06/20 2.71%2.49%
07/20 2.70%2.50%
08/20 2.68%2.50%
09/20 2.67%2.49%
10/20 2.28%1.95%
11/20 1.89%1.63%
12/20 1.87%1.56%
01/21 1.85%1.54%
02/21 1.85%1.54%
03/21 1.96%1.84%

Last Updated: April 1, 2021

Fixed rate vs. variable rate mortgages: which is cheaper?

You’ll also need to choose between a variable rate or a fixed rate mortgage for your Montreal home.

With fixed rate mortgages, the interest rate stays the same for the entirety of your mortgage term, whether it’s six months or 10 years. Fixed rates are for consumers who want the predictability of fixed monthly mortgage payments, and don’t want to worry about changing interest rates. The tradeoff for that stability is that fixed mortgage rates are generally higher than variable rates.

Variable rates can change over the course of the mortgage term. Variable rates are based on the prime rate set by your lender, which in turn is based on the overnight lending rate set by the Bank of Canada. If the prime rate goes up, so does your mortgage rate. Variable mortgage rates are expressed as prime plus or minus a spread. For example, prime -0.5%. So if the prime rate is 2%, your interest rate will be 1.5% (2% - 0.5%).

Here’s a look at 5-year fixed mortgage rates vs. 5-year variable mortgage rates in Quebec over the last year:

5-year fixed vs. 5-year variable mortgage rates in Quebec

04/20 2.12%2.67%
05/20 2.19%2.62%
06/20 2.17%2.64%
07/20 2.19%2.62%
08/20 2.13%2.60%
09/20 2.05%2.62%
10/20 1.83%2.09%
11/20 1.70%1.77%
12/20 1.68%1.71%
01/21 1.70%1.69%
02/21 1.70%1.72%
03/21 1.37%1.92%

Last Updated: April 1, 2021

Factors that affect your Montreal mortgage rate

There are a few different factors lenders look at when deciding whether or not to approve your mortgage application, and whether they can offer you the lowest mortgage interest rates in Montreal.

Read More

Typical mortgage amounts in Montreal

The size of your mortgage will depend on where you live, your down payment and your mortgage interest rate. The benchmark price for a detached home in Montreal is $471,900 as of November 2020, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. For a buyer with a 20% down payment ($94,380), the mortgage would be $377,520. This amount doesn’t include interest paid over the lifespan of the mortgage, which depends on the mortgage interest rate.

Remember: if your down payment is less than 20%, you’re required to buy CMHC mortgage insurance. This will increase the cost of your mortgage and the amount of interest you’ll pay. CMHC insurance premiums depend on the size of your down payment. Your mortgage insurance premium can be paid as a lump sum, or added to the cost of your mortgage.

Montreal’s housing market and home prices

Montreal is still a relatively affordable housing market compared to other major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, but prices are going up. Benchmark prices for single-detached family homes in Montreal increased from $392,400 to $471,900 between November 2019 and November 2020.

Other forms of housing, such as townhomes and apartments also saw increases. The average price of a townhouse in Montreal reached $435,500 in November 2020 (up 13.2% year over year), and the average price of an apartment reached $323,400 (up 12.4%).

The price increases in Montreal last year can largely be attributed to an increase in sales volume between 2019 and 2020. In November 2020, the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers reported 5,343 properties sold, an increase of 32% from the same time last year.

Single-family homes in the Montreal area take an average of 37 days to sell, compared to 44 days for condominiums.

Montreal closing costs and land transfer tax

It’s usually advised to budget 1.5% of the home’s purchase price to cover closing costs (not including the down payment). Closing costs may include:

Home buyers in Montreal pay both provincial and municipal land transfer taxes on property they purchase.

Quebec’s land transfer tax is charged on all properties in the province. The tax is indexed to the province’s consumer price index, so the tax increases every year.

For homes in Montreal, there’s an additional municipal land transfer tax. Here’s how it works:

For example: For a home outside of Montreal that costs $600,000, you would pay $7,448.50 in land transfer tax. For a $600,000 home within Montreal, you would pay $7,863 in land transfer tax.


Information for first-time home buyers in Montreal

Brokers vs. bank mortgage rates in Montreal: A mortgage broker is a licensed professional who can search for and negotiate the lowest mortgage rates for prospective homebuyers. While banks can only sell their own mortgage products, brokers can shop around at multiple lenders to give buyers a range of different mortgage rates. Brokers will find you the best rate and walk you through the entire mortgage application process, but they don’t provide the mortgage itself — ultimately, that will come from a financial institution. Whether you’re house hunting in Toronto or a more affordable city like Montreal, broker mortgage rates tend to be more competitive than bank rates — especially because Montreal happens to have the highest concentration of mortgage brokers in Quebec.

However, it’s also possible to negotiate with a bank if you have a strong existing relationship. Sometimes banks will give customers a discount on their regular posted mortgage rates for consolidating their bank accounts, credit cards, investments and mortgage all in one place, but you’ll have to handle the negotiations yourself.

Tax credits: When purchasing a home, there are a number of tax credits you may be eligible for. Some of these might include:

First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit: This is a $5,000 non-refundable federal tax credit designed to help buyers manage the closing costs of purchasing a new home. This credit is applicable across Canada.

Quebec First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit: Since 2018, Quebec has offered its own provincial tax credit for residents who are first-time homebuyers. The maximum credit is $750, calculated by multiplying $5,000 by the rate for the lowest personal income bracket for the year, which is currently 15%.

The Federal Home Accessibility Tax (HATC) for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities: This non-refundable tax credit allows you to claim up to $10,000 in renovation expenses. This credit is applicable country wide and is available for homeowners who are aged 65+ before the end of the tax year or who have a disability.

Home insurance: There’s no law that says you have to get home insurance, but most lenders in Canada will require you to obtain a home insurance policy as a condition of approving your mortgage. Since a home is likely your most expensive asset, you’ll want to protect it. Home insurance protects your home from a number of unexpected incidents that could cause damage to your property, as well as the contents of your home and personal liability.

Your questions about Montreal mortgages, answered.

What’s the difference between a mortgage term and an amortization period?

Mortgage term: A mortgage term is the length of time you’re committed to a particular lender and mortgage rate. The most popular mortgage term in Canada is five years, though terms can range from six months to 10 years. If you still have money to pay off at the end of your term, you can renew your mortgage at a new rate.

Amortization period: The amortization period is the length of time it will take you to fully pay off your loan’s principal, plus the interest. In other words, amortization is the total lifespan of your mortgage. In Canada, the maximum amortization period is 35 years. If your down payment is less than 20% of the total price of the home and you’re required to purchase CMHC mortgage insurance, your maximum amortization period is 25 years.

The most common type of mortgage in Canada is one with a five-year term with a 25-year amortization period. Once the amortization period ends and you’ve paid off your mortgage (and interest costs) in full, you officially own your home outright.

What’s the difference between an open mortgage vs. a closed mortgage?

In addition to choosing rates and terms, Montreal buyers will also need to decide between two types of mortgage payment structures: open or closed.

Open mortgage: As the name suggests, an open mortgage is more flexible. Open mortgages typically have a shorter term (up to five years), and can be paid off in full at any time during the term without penalty. However, open mortgage interest rates are usually variable, and tend to be a little bit higher. You might choose an open mortgage if you want to make additional or increased mortgage payments, pay off the mortgage early, or move to a different home in the near future.

Closed mortgage: A closed mortgage requires you to make regular payments on a fixed schedule for the entire term. While there’s less flexibility, you’ll typically pay lower interest rates. If you want to refinance, renegotiate or pay off your closed mortgage before the term is up, you’ll be charged a penalty. Some lenders will allow you to make accelerated payments up to a certain amount each year, but make sure you read the fine print carefully — every lender has its own terms and conditions around closed mortgage prepayments.

How much does it cost to live in Montreal?

Montreal is a vibrant city: it’s bilingual, has four universities, a European ambiance, rich cultural heritage and big city charms. It’s Quebec’s largest city, and Canada’s second largest by population. Even with home prices going up, Montreal has a relatively cheap cost of living compared to other major cities. In addition to finding the lowest mortgage rate, there are a few things to consider if you’re moving to Montreal.

The cost of living in Montreal will vary whether you’re a homeowner or renter, or a driver, transit commuter or cyclist. Luckily, Montreal is known for being bike friendly and its robust transit system. However, it’s also an urban island with a lot of traffic congestion. As a dense urban area, Montrealers pay some of the highest auto insurance premiums in Quebec. However, Montreal auto insurance rates are lower compared to other major urban centres such as Toronto or Vancouver, and Quebec has the lowest average car insurance rates compared to other provinces.

Quebec residents pay the highest provincial tax in Canada because the provincial government funds a number of services for residents such as generous parental leave, low-fee childcare, community healthcare clinics known as CLSCs, post-secondary pre-university vocational colleges (CEGEP), and university tuition subsidies. However, Quebec residents also pay the lowest amount of federal taxes, and receive a 16.5% reduction on their federal tax rate.

How much does getting a lower interest rate matter in Montreal?

Securing a low mortgage rate for your Montreal house is one great way to save money on your mortgage. However, it’s one of many things you can do to increase the overall affordability of your mortgage. Some of these features might include prepayment privileges and portability.

Prepayment privileges: If you want the option to make additional mortgage payments or pay off your mortgage in full before your term is up, it’s important to raise the issue before you sign your contract. Some banks and brokers will offer different prepayment terms, depending on whether you have an open or closed mortgage. A prepayment privilege allows you to pay off your mortgage early without having to pay an additional fee.

Penalties: If you want to move to a new house or need to refinance, you’ll have to break your mortgage. Depending on your contract, you could be required to pay thousands of dollars in penalties. While you may wind up with a lower rate if you go with a different lender, it’s important to look at the fine print to know what you’re getting into.

Portability: One way to avoid these penalties is to negotiate a portable mortgage. This means that if you move, you can transfer your mortgage to a new home and combine it with an additional mortgage loan.

Your questions about, answered.

How are mortgage rates determined on works with 75+ banks and brokers to bring you cheap Montreal mortgage rates from lenders across Canada. We work with our partners to obtain their best deals and offers, and then we let them compete for your business. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and in minutes you’ll be provided with today’s mortgage rates for Montreal. There’s no obligation, but you can choose to speak with our broker partner to secure your best rate and see if you're eligible for more savings.

Is it safe to get a mortgage online?

Yes, it’s safe — you no longer need to visit a bank branch or mortgage broker’s office in person to apply for a mortgage. It’s becoming increasingly common for Canadians to apply for mortgages online. only works with reputable, trustworthy financial institutions. Your credit score won’t be affected and your information is secure. We don’t share your information with anyone unless you want to connect with a mortgage broker. We take care of the heavy lifting by comparing the market for you and can connect you with the best mortgage lenders not only in Montreal, but across the country.

How do I know I’m getting the lowest rate?

We have a strong selection of lenders on including the big banks and many independent providers and we’re adding more lenders all the time. This ensures we’re always delivering you a competitive rate. Even if you’re not ready to commit to anything, you can use our site as a starting point for research (it’s totally free, and you’re under no obligation).

The better informed you are, the more likely you'll negotiate a better deal for yourself. And, really, that’s what we care about the most.

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