Revisiting the Vendor Take-Back Mortgage

Published September 17, 2019 by Real Estate Leads

Nearly every reputable realtor will have long since established ties with a mortgage broker to whom they’ll recommend clients who are going to need financing assistance from a lender in place before they’re able to purchase a home. In much the same way it’s beneficial for a mortgage broker to understand the workings of real estate investment and transactions, it’s helpful for realtors to understand mortgages AND the history of ways people have found the means of financing homes in Canada.

As we always insist, being knowledgeable makes you more appealing to prospective real estate clients and furthers your reputation as a ‘good’ realtor in your locale. Finding new clients for whom you can flex your muscles in this regard is a challenge, but here at Real Estate Leads our online real estate lead generation system for Canada is a proven effective way to be fast-tracked towards meeting real people who are genuinely considering buying or selling a home in the near future.

What Is It?

A vendor take-back mortgage is a unique kind of mortgage where the home’s seller extends a loan to the buyer to secure the property’s sale. They’re also called seller take-back mortgages, and it’s true that both the buyer and seller can benefit if the circumstances are right. It creates the possibility that the buyer might be able to purchase property above their financing limit, and conversely the seller is potentially able to sell the property at or above asking price more quickly.

Born in the Days of High Interest Rates

Vendor take-back mortgages were common in Canada some 25 to 30 years ago, and the reason they were so frequently taken was because interest rates were sky-high back then compared to today. Vendor take-back mortgages were very common in the ‘80s and ‘90s when interest rates were well over 10% and sometimes even moving up to as high as 20% in the early 80s.

Some have suggested that the new B-20 mortgage stress test that’s been in place for a few years now might make vendor take-back mortgages start to become a ‘thing’ again. That might be so, but industry and broker experts say that would only be the case if applications have other qualifications that extend beyond the 200 extra basis points as they’re detailed in the B-20.

It’s true that sellers could benefit by having a vendor take-back mortgage as it could earn interest on money in ways standard lenders wouldn’t offer and in a more secure environment due to the financials being leveraged against real estate.

Industry consensus is that vendor tack-back mortgages be something of a fix for those lacking purchasing power due to the B-20 stress test, but we’ve been warned not to expect them to be resurfacing in the residential real estate market anytime in the near future. This is primarily attributable to the growth of private lenders and mortgage investment corporations, and then there’s the fact that sellers usually redirect finances earned from the sale of homes to purchasing new ones.

This, of course, is true of both inhabitant homeowners and property investors.

Tempered Enthusiasm

We can understand that vendor take-back mortgages are not as commonplace in the market today because people need money to purchase their own homes, but these types of mortgages would really only work well if that homebuyer was planning to exit the market sometime shortly thereafter.

On this, one industry expert was recently quotes as saying “If you sell your property and you have this equity on hand and you’re then unsure of what to do with it, it’s pretty common to then look to invest it with a mortgage company or lender.”

We’ll conclude today by mentioning that despite all these forewarnings and the fact that vendor take-back mortgages represent less than 1% of the traditional residential real estate market, they can be more appropriate in the commercial real estate sector. On the commercial side – where the rate of return is a bit more attractive for the investor – an operating business may also be part of the transaction and this changes the assumption of risk factor for the buyer.

Will vendor take-back mortgages ever return to the residential market? They may, but it’s unlikely they’ll ever be as commonplace as they were 20-plus years ago.

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