Two weeks ago, we talked about a PR release from the six big banks that they’ll help you with up to six months of mortgage payment deferrals. Reaching your bank may be a challenge as Scotiabank alone has been receiving around 80,000 calls a day to at least inquire about payment relief, according to one of their spokespeople.
As predicated, the rules and criteria are still evolving. One RBC employee stated that they were “changing by the hour” in a CBC interview. With that in mind, this is what appears to be happening now:
You may be able to defer your full mortgage payment for up to six months. It appears all the banks have a notice on their website to point out that your interest will continue to accrue. You are not getting a pause button, just an extension.
The bank will add the interest you are not paying with the deferral and adding it to the principal owing. In other words, if you have a $300,000 mortgage and take six deferrals, that $4,500 in interest is added to what you owe. You will then be paying interest on top of interest since your balance went from $300,000 to $304,500. The increase in your balance will now give you a higher payment when your renewal comes up. You’re adding the skipped interest to the next 15, 20 or 25 years.
As we talked about two weeks ago, the banks aren’t out one cent – in fact, they’ll make a profit on your deferrals. But for those who need the breathing room and help, it’s probably not the time to look gift horse in the mouth…
It is not an automatic approval. A former Bank of Montreal manager was asked to supply a new full credit application to see if he qualified. But the BMO wouldn’t actually tell him what the new approval criteria was! A few days ago, a CIBC customer with mortgage and line of credit was on hold for 11-hours and 5-hours the next day only to be told by their call centre that there was nothing they can do for her. So much for the press release that the banks would “work with Canadians.”
Yes, they will update their information on you first. It’ll take them one second to look at your credit score. Internally, they’ve set a number: If you’re below that, you will not qualify as they deem you too high a risk for a deferral – whether that’s your mortgage, credit line or credit card. They’ll want to know if you’re temporarily laid off or not likely to go back to work. And they’ll look at your other debt levels off your credit bureau report. In other words, it’s not just a quick call and you’re done.