Canadians aren’t strangers to shopping around for a better deal.

In fact, nearly two-thirds have swapped their main grocery store for one with lower prices in the past year, according to a recent report from Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab. But when it comes to mortgages — typically one of the biggest expenses anyone will have in their lifetime — it’s a very different story. More than 60% of Canadian mortgage holders aren’t consulting a broker before renewing or refinancing, suggests a new survey from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“Some people go on and just sign whatever is provided to them,” says Alex Leduc, CEO and Lead Broker at Perch, a tech-forward digital brokerage.


Not shopping around puts future homebuyers, and existing owners, at risk of spending thousands more per year than they need to. In extreme cases, not shopping around for a better rate could even cost someone their home. When their mortgage comes up for renewal, a borrower may find that they can’t afford the new monthly payments.

“Getting the second opinion can help you avoid a big mistake,” says Leduc.

A good second opinion can save you a lot of stress — and also put money back in your pocket. But it’s important to take the right approach when seeking one. To make sure all your bases are covered, here are five tips to help you get the best second opinion on a mortgage:

Lock In Your Rate

Before shopping around, you need to know where you stand. Rate-comparison websites are great for managing expectations, but they don’t necessarily reflect what you can actually obtain in reality.

If you’re an existing borrower, lock in your current rate as a bargaining chip. “A rate lock is free insurance, because if rates go down, you get the lower rate, and if rates go up, you’ve at least locked in that rate. Really, you have nothing to lose,” Leduc explains.

If you’re seeking out a new mortgage, Leduc recommends having your pre-approval in-hand. “You’ve got that one approval that you can rely on, and then you can go out and really shop it around and see if you can do better,” he says, estimating Perch is typically able to save borrowers 30 basis points on their mortgage rate. (That’s $300 a year for every $100,000 in your outstanding loan balance, or $2,400 on an $800,000 loan.)

Give Yourself Time (...As Much Of It As Possible)

Don’t hold off on shopping around. Once you have your pre-approval, or your lender sends you a renewal offer, start reaching out for a second opinion.

“If you wait too long to get a second opinion, there might be a bunch of costs incurred to switch that you weren’t planning on,” says Leduc.

If borrowers don’t communicate their plans to switch lenders in time, the bank can hit them with massive penalties.

Get Varied Opinions

Second opinions aren’t all created equal. Getting a second opinion is great, but if you approach multiple similar lenders, you’re going to get similar advice.

“Be careful of the illusion of a second opinion,” warns Leduc. “For example, if you go to one big bank and another big bank, you’re going to get pretty much two identical options — so I would always advise people to go to at least one bank and one broker.”

Remember — The Lowest Rate Isn’t Everything

Saving money is one of the main advantages of getting a second opinion on your mortgage, but there are other things to consider. “A lot of people get hyper-focused on the lowest rate, but sometimes it might be a terrible fit for what you’re actually trying to do,” says Leduc.

For example, you may get a lower rate with a 10% downpayment than you would by putting up 20%, but you’ll pay more in the long run. The lower downpayment requires CMHC insurance, and you’ll be on the hook for more interest over a longer amortization period.

Use The Best Tools For The Job

Borrowers today have access to unprecedented tools, and they should take advantage of them. Take AI, for example — which is a tool Perch leans into.

Using algorithms, Perch can exhaust all the possibilities for potential borrowers to help them score a deal. “If you’re trying to compare mortgages, we can actually see what’s the best offer that day that fits your situation,” says Leduc. “We can underwrite somebody 10,000 times in under 10 seconds.”

Meanwhile, the platform’s online pre-approval process is painless. Users just need to sign up, create a quick profile, and provide a handful of important documents, such as a paystub as proof of income. From there, an experienced mortgage advisor will review the application and provide a pre-approval amount, all in about 20 minutes or less.

“Everybody here has 10-plus years in the mortgage space," says Leduc. "So, you’re getting really senior-level experience for every application."

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