The Difference between a Rate-Hold and a Pre-Approval Mortgage Certificate

General Lora Holmstrom 6 Oct

First, let’s start with a definition of each.

Mortgage Terminology

Rate-Hold: a rate-hold is simply that. The financial institution holds a rate for a specific term and for a certain number of days. In Canada we typically hold rates for 120 days. You must close your mortgage on or before that date to secure the held rate. In addition, in the event that rates go up over that period of time you don’t have to worry, you have your rate guaranteed. If rates lower, then your rate lowers as well.

Pre-Approval: if you are house shopping then a pre-approval can help you shop with confidence. A pre-approved mortgage certificate outlines how much you qualify for and will also hold a rate for you. Unlike just the rate hold, a pre-approval is looked over by an underwriter working for the particular financial institution. The underwriter will look at all the data provided in the application, along with a credit history report, to determine credit worthiness. If the underwriter has not been given upfront documentation, for example employment and down payment information, then the pre-approval will come back with “conditions”. Essentially saying, yes, based on the info you provided we are ready to extend credit to you once you satisfy the following conditions. This can also be called pre-qualification.

Should you wish with absolute surety that you will not be denied credit, then it is best to submit your paperwork upfront.

In our fast paced society clients receive rate-holds, not pre-approvals. So please make sure you know what you are getting based on what you need.

Almost done. If you are putting less than 20% down on your home you will have to obtain mortgage insurance from CMHC or Genworth. Both of these institutions will not look at your file unless it is a “real deal”, and they can sometimes over-rule an approval from the financial institution. I’ve completed many mortgage transactions and while I have not seen this many times, it has happened if you are in the higher risk category, for example, your employment is just less than one year or credit history is not very long. If you are not in the higher risk category, then a pre-approval should give you the confidence to look for a house without worry.

Remember to always place a financial clause in your agreement of purchase and sale. Give yourself the time and the peace-of-mind.

By: Sandra Tisiot