The Ultimate Guide to Navigating the Mortgage Application Process To Purchase Investment Properties in Canada

The Ultimate Guide to Navigating the Mortgage Application Process To Purchase Investment Properties in Canada

If you're considering expanding your investment portfolio to include real estate, knowing how to navigate the mortgage application process is crucial. This guide is specifically tailored for Canadians like you who want to take that path. From determining eligibility preparing finances, to understanding the appraisal process, this article aims to provide an in-depth and straightforward walkthrough. Let's shine a light on the essentials and avoid common pitfalls, helping you secure the best possible mortgage for your investment property. 

Table of Contents - The Ultimate Guide to Navigating the Mortgage Application Process To Purchase Investment Properties in Canada

  • Determining your eligibility for a mortgage on an investment property
  • Preparing your finances for a mortgage application
  • Getting your documents for a mortgage application
  • Understanding the different types of mortgages available for investment properties
  • Exploring the down payment requirements for investment property mortgages
  • Understanding the role of credit scores in mortgage applications
  • Understanding the appraisal process for investment properties
  • Common mistakes to avoid when applying for an investment property mortgage
Knowledge is power, and getting a mortgage for an investment property does not have to be a complicated process. This guide provides a roadmap to acquiring the keys to your next investment.


Determining Your Eligibility for a Mortgage on an Investment Property 

When deciding if you're eligible for a mortgage on an investment property in Canada, you can expect lenders to scrutinize your financial background more rigorously compared to when you apply for a residential mortgage. 

So, what do lenders look for? Here are the key things: 

  1. Income: Your ability to repay the loan primarily depends on your income. You must provide proof of regular income through employment, self-employment, pensions, or rental income. Some lenders may also consider the potential rental income from the investment property. However, lenders typically only view a portion of this income.
  2. Net Worth: Lenders often require a certain amount of net worth, which is the total value of your assets after subtracting liabilities. This assures that you can absorb potential financial setbacks.
  3. Experience: If you already own one or more investment properties, lenders may view this positively because it suggests you are experienced in property management.
  4. Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR): Lenders will look at the DSCR, which compares the property's net operating income to the total debt service. In other words, it shows whether the property's income will cover the mortgage payments. A DSCR of 1.0 or more is generally viewed as acceptable. Not all lenders use the DSCR approval method, so speaking to the LendCity team for your mortgage pre-approval is essential.

Your Credit History 

Your credit history is critical to a lender's assessment. Your credit report provides a snapshot of how well you manage your debts. Late payments, high credit card balances, or bankruptcy can all negatively affect your ability to secure a mortgage. Therefore, before you apply, ensure that your credit report is accurate and reflects positively on you. 

We recommend visiting or contacting Equifax to check your credit to get your current report.

Preparing Your Finances for a Mortgage Application 

Once you know your eligibility, the next big step toward purchasing your investment property involves getting your finances in order. This stage is crucial to streamline the mortgage application process and requires meticulous attention to detail

If in doubt, schedule a call with our team here for assistance.

Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (TDS) 

The debt-to-income ratio - called TDS - is a critical factor that lenders use to assess your ability to manage monthly payments and repay borrowed money. It simply compares your gross monthly income and your monthly debts. Ideally, most lenders prefer a TDS below 44%. To work this out: 

  1. Identify your total monthly income before tax.
  2. Add up your monthly debts (e.g., credit card payments, car loans, student loans, etc.).
  3. Divide your total monthly debts by your total monthly income.
  4. Multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.

 Improve Your Credit Score 

Improving your credit score can significantly enhance your chances of securing a mortgage loan with favourable terms. You can pay your bills on time, reduce your outstanding debts, or avoid new credit inquiries to improve your credit score. 

 Save for a Down Payment 

Investment properties usually require a larger down payment compared to residences. Start saving to make at least 20% of the property’s price as your down payment. This will reduce your mortgage amount and give lenders a greater assurance of your ability to repay the loan. 

 Consider Additional Expenses 

Besides the initial investment, consider the additional costs associated with owning an investment property. This can include property taxes, home insurance, maintenance costs, and potential property management fees. 

Preparing your finances well in advance can simplify the mortgage application process and smooth the path to owning an investment property.

Getting Your Documents for a Mortgage Application 

After assessing your financial situation, you must gather and prepare essential documents. These will dive into your financial details and help lenders ascertain your potential as a borrower. This stage requires a meticulous approach. Missing out on a document can delay the process, so it's crucial to be thorough and precise. 

Reach out, and we can send you a custom list of documents needed for your application.

Proof of Income 

Your lender would want to ensure you have a steady income stream. Documents necessary to validate your income include: 

  • Paystubs: Recent paystubs from a month or two can substantiate your current earnings.
  • T4 Slips or Income Tax Returns (T1 General): These provide a comprehensive view of your annual income.
  • Employment Letter: A recent letter confirming your position, tenure, and salary may be needed.
  • Additional Income Documents: If you earn money from other sources like investments, rent, or side jobs, these should be documented.

Proof of Assets 

If you've got personal assets, your lender will need this information. You might get asked for: 

  • Bank Statements: This verifies your savings and regular financial transactions
  • Investment Statements: If you have assets in the form of investments, you need to document these as proof.
  • Real Estate Assets: Include documents that show properties you own.
  • Additional Assets: If you have other assets like vehicles or valuable collections, document them.

Proof of Liabilities 

The mortgage lender needs a clear picture of your existing financial obligations. Provide details of all your liabilities, which can include: 

  • Credit Card Statements: These statements highlight your pending dues and payment habits.
  • Outstanding Loan Documents: Document these if you are repaying any loans.
  • Child Support or Alimony Payments: Your lender must know if you are legally obligated to make these payments.

In summary, preparing your documents for a mortgage application in Canada requires a clear snapshot of your income, assets, and liabilities. Ensure all documents are up-to-date and ready for submission to smooth your application process.

Understanding the Different Types of Mortgages Available for Investment Properties 

In Canada, multiple mortgage options are available for potential buyers of investment properties. Each type of mortgage presents its unique benefits and drawbacks based on the investor's financial condition, investment goals, and risk tolerance. Understanding these options enables you to make informed decisions and select the best mortgage. 

Standard Variable Rate Mortgage (VRM) 

Under a VRM, the interest rate fluctuates according to the Bank of Canada's benchmark rate, making it somewhat unpredictable. Your repayments can rise or fall based on how the interest rates change. While this can potentially allow for lower payments if rates drop, it can also mean higher payments if they increase. 

Fixed Rate Mortgage 

This type of mortgage offers the certainty of steady payments over the fixed term, usually for 1, 3, or 5 years (Although more terms are available, the 5-year fixed is the most common). The interest rate is set at the start of the period and does not change regardless of whether market rates rise or fall. This can stabilize budgeting but may leave you paying more if rates decrease. 

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) 

With an ARM, the interest rate adjusts periodically, typically every month, quarter, year, or three years. Rate adjustments are pegged to a reference interest rate. You benefit from lower costs if interest rates fall, but your costs could surge when interest rates rise. 

Interest Only Mortgage 

In an interest-only mortgage, you must pay only the interest on the loan for a specified period, which depends on the amortization you select. This can lower your initial payments but increase them later when you repay the principal on top of the interest. Also worth noting is that interest-only loans may require 35% down or more.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) for Investment Properties 

A HELOC allows you to tap into the equity of your existing property and use it to purchase your investment property. This line of credit comes with a variable interest rate and requires you to pay for the interest each month at the very least. 

A standalone HELOC is only available with 35% down. However, if you also group the line of credit with a small mortgage, you can borrow up to 80% of the home's value.

Remember, selecting the right mortgage type for your investment property is critical and depends on various factors, including your financial readiness, risk tolerance, current and expected future income, and overall investment strategy. Consult with LendCity to understand your options and make an informed decision.

Exploring the Down Payment Requirements for Investment Property Mortgages 

When applying for a mortgage for an investment property in Canada, the down payment requirement is typically higher than a primary residence mortgage. This is primarily due to the increased risk perceived by the lenders. Consequently, understanding these requirements is crucial in planning your investment. 

Minimum Down Payment 

In Canada, the minimum down payment for an investment property is 20% of the property's purchase price. This substantial initial investment is central to protecting lenders if the borrower defaults. Investment properties are considered higher risk, prompting lenders to request a larger up-front risk mitigation strategy.  Depending on your application, the lender may require more than 20% down.

Sources of Down Payment 

As you plan to meet the down payment requirement, remember that these funds can come from various sources, such as savings, home equity from another property, or even a gift from a family member. It's worth mentioning that only some lenders allow borrowed sources for a down payment.

The Effect of Down Payment on Mortgage Features 

The size of your down payment can significantly affect the remaining mortgage terms. A higher down payment generally means a lower loan-to-value ratio, which could result in better interest rates, lower monthly payments, and potentially a lower CMHC premium if your down payment is less than 20%. CMHC Fees are only payable on Insurable Rentals or Commercial Properties. Regular conventional mortgages with no CMHC have no fee. Therefore, putting more money down initially can help lower your long-term costs.

Understanding the Role of Credit Scores in Mortgage Applications 

The credit score is a significant factor that Canadian mortgage lenders consider when approving a mortgage application for an investment property. It provides lenders with a detailed snapshot of how you have handled credit. High credit scores indicate a lower risk for the lender, which might result in more favourable loan terms. 

Importance of Credit Score 

A high credit score indicates good financial health and a history of responsible credit use. This significantly boosts your mortgage application, as lenders prefer borrowers with excellent debt repayment habits. This is particularly so when applying for a mortgage for an investment property, which already carries a higher risk than a primary residence mortgage. 

How it Affects Your Mortgage Terms 

A higher credit score can lead to more favourable mortgage terms. For instance, you may qualify for lower interest rates, saving significant money throughout the mortgage. Remember, though, while a good credit score enhances your mortgage prospects, it's not the only factor that lenders consider; other aspects like income and debt-to-income ratio also play a critical role.

Understanding the Role of Credit Scores in Mortgage Applications 

Impact of a Low Credit Score 

Let's dive deeper into the implications of having a low credit score. A less-than-stellar credit score can make getting a mortgage on investment property harder. More often than not, lenders view borrowers with low credit scores as risky investments. That means they might be less willing to approve your application, or they could impose higher interest rates and more restrictive loan terms to offset their risk. Many lenders set a bare minimum credit score for rental properties. If your score is below the lender's minimum, then they will not be able to approve you.

Influences of a High Credit Score 

Conversely, maintaining a high credit score can make the mortgage application process a breeze. Lenders are more inclined to trust borrowers with a history of financial responsibility. If your credit score is in the upper echelons, you have a better chance of securing a larger loan with a lower interest rate and more negotiable terms. 

Boosting Your Credit Score 

Improving your credit score might seem a daunting task, but rest assured, it's entirely possible. Here are some tactics to consider: 

  • Pay bills on time: This is the simplest yet most effective way to boost your credit score. Make it a habit to pay all your bills before the due date.
  • Leverage credit utilization strategies: Your credit utilization ratio, which is the proportion of your credit limit you're using, should ideally be below 30%. High utilization can negatively impact your credit score. A quick trick is that if your utilization is high, you can increase your credit limits to lower the overall utilization.
  • Limit credit inquiries: Every time you apply for credit, lenders perform a hard inquiry on your credit profile. Numerous hard inquiries can lower your credit score, so limiting credit applications is best.
  • Monitor your credit report: Regularly checking your credit report can help you spot errors, which you can then dispute to have them removed. This practice can potentially boost your credit score.

Remember that improving your credit score is not an overnight process, but consistent efforts can make a significant difference over time. Remember, a higher credit score translates to better mortgage terms for your investment property.

Understanding the Appraisal Process for Investment Properties 

Understanding the appraisal process for your investment property is vital, as it directly impacts your mortgage eligibility and terms. The objective is to determine your property's fair market value, which can affect your down payment, loan-to-value ratio, and interest rate. Let's dive deep into this crucial process. 

Ordering the Appraisal 

The first step is for your lender to order the appraisal, typically after your loan application has gone through initial approval. Lenders generally have a pool of independent appraisers they work with for this purpose. Do not order the appraisal yourself; your lender may not work with that appraiser.

The Appraiser’s Visit 

The appraiser will visit the property and carry out a detailed inspection. They'll check features such as the size, condition, function, and quality of the property. They then compare these factors with similar properties in the vicinity that were sold recently to estimate the value. 

Appraisal Report 

After the visit, the appraiser will compile all the collected information into a detailed appraisal report. This includes their professional opinion on the market value of the property. The lender then uses this report to decide on your mortgage application. 

Post-Appraisal 

If the appraised value is less than the asking price, you may need to increase your down payment or re-negotiate the asking price. If the value is higher, it could work in your favour, making it easier to secure financing. 

Avoiding Appraisal Problems 

Avoiding problems with an appraisal starts with realistic expectations and knowledge about the property's condition. Be proactive, attend the appraisal, and provide any information to help the appraiser make an accurate assessment. If you get a low appraisal, you can see about disputing the appraisal to help bring up your value. Also, your lender may allow you to order and pay for a 2nd appraisal if they agree that the report is incorrect.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for an Investment Property Mortgage 

When applying for a mortgage on an investment property, some common pitfalls can significantly hamper your prospects. Understanding these mistakes can help you boost your chances of securing the best possible mortgage. 

In all cases, honesty is the best policy. If you tell us exactly what your scenario is, often there is a solution. But if we are unaware of the challenge, it's hard to help!

Rushing the Application Process 

Failing to plan appropriately for a mortgage application can have adverse impacts. Skipping due diligence, like understanding your credit score or not getting pre-approval, can lead to undesired outcomes. Take your time to understand all the requirements, gather the necessary documents, and think through all aspects of the mortgage process. 

Keeping a High TDS Ratio 

Remember, your Debt-to-Income ratio (TDS is crucial for lenders. A high TDS can make you seem like a risky borrower and may lead to rejection or unfavourable terms in your mortgage. Aim to keep your debts low and have a solid income for best results. 

Overlooking Property Appraisal  

Property appraisal is a critical component of an investment property purchase. It estimates the property's market value and determines how much mortgage you can secure. Underestimating this process or choosing an inexperienced appraiser could mean missing out on a fair valuation, negatively affecting your mortgage terms. 

Not Anticipating Additional Expenses 

Investment properties come with additional expenses like maintenance costs, tax payments, insurance, etc. Failing to factor in these expenses can disrupt your financial planning and make your investment less profitable than expected. 

Ignoring Credit Health 

One of the essential elements of a mortgage application is your credit score. Ignoring this until the last minute or failing to take measures to improve it can severely limit your borrowing options and the favorability of your terms.

Wrapping Up 

Applying for a mortgage for an investment property in Canada involves several crucial steps. This comprehensive guide has walked you through these steps in detail. To summarize: 

  1. Assess Your Eligibility: Evaluate your financial standing, credit history and debt-to-income ratio (TDS).
  2. Prepare Your Finances: Ensure you have a solid credit score, significant savings for the down payment, and are prepared for additional expenses.
  3. Get Documents in Order: Collate all necessary documents, such as proof of income, assets, and liabilities.
  4. Understand Mortgage Types: Understand the various mortgage options available to investors. This includes standard variable rates, fixed rates, adjustable rates, interest-only mortgages and home equity lines of credit (HELOC).
  5. Down Payment Requirements: Understand precisely how much down payment is necessary and identify potential sources to procure it from. Also, grasp how your down payment can affect the features of your mortgage.
  6. Role of Credit Scores: Learn how your credit score can influence your mortgage application and terms, and take steps to increase it.
  7. Appraisal Process: Know the appraisal process for investment properties and how to avoid potential pitfalls.
  8. Avoid Common Mistakes: Avoid typical errors, like rushing the application process, keeping a high TDS ratio, overlooking property appraisal, underestimating additional expenses, and ignoring credit health.

Remember, the purchase of an investment property represents a significant financial commitment. Yes, it may seem daunting at times, but understanding each step of the application process and preparing accordingly can make it easier and significantly increase your chances of approval. Always consult with a mortgage broker or financial advisor before making any decisions.