The Process of Obtaining a Second Mortgage In Ontario


A second mortgage is an additional mortgage taken out on a property that already has a mortgage. In order for the property to qualify for a second mortgage, it has to have a built-in equity. The borrowing limit for a second mortgage is typically determined by several factors, including the appraised value of your home, the outstanding balance on your initial mortgage, your credit history, the ability to make the required payments, and your overall financial stability.

How Second Mortgages Work

A second mortgage will be secured on a property title. This will be registered as a separate charge on the property title and will not affect an existing mortgage in any way. Due to the higher risk for the lender, a second mortgage usually carries a higher interest rate. These types of mortgages can be set up as a home equity line of credit (HELOC), a home equity loan or just a regular mortgage. A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that allows you to borrow up to a certain amount over a set period, while a home equity loans and regular second mortgages provide a lump sum of money that you repay in fixed payments. Borrowing amounts are typically lower than your first mortgage, and interest rates are higher to compensate lenders for the risk associated with the mortgage being in second position, which increases the risk to recover their funds if the borrower defaults.

When considering lending, the first thing lenders look at is the equity you have in your home. The more equity you have, the more you might be able to borrow. This is because your equity serves as security or collateral for the lender and the idea is that the more of your home you own, the less risky the loan is for the lender, and the more they might be willing to lend you.

Why Consider a Second Mortgage?

The Benefits of Second Mortgages

Second mortgages offer several potential advantages for homeowners. One of the primary benefits is the ability to access a large loan sum, which can be up to 80% of your home equity. This is more than you can typically borrow on other traditional loans. Despite the higher interest rates associated with second mortgages, they can still be more affordable than unsecured lending or other forms of credit, such as credit cards. This makes second mortgages a viable option for those looking to consolidate debt, make home improvements, or invest in another property. If you use a second mortgage to consolidate debt and help you meet other financial commitments on time, this could potentially improve your credit score.

Moreover, second mortgages provide more flexible payment terms. In some cases, you may have the option to only pay the interest, making monthly payments lower. This flexibility can be particularly beneficial for homeowners who are facing temporary financial difficulties or those who are planning to sell their property in the near future.

Scenarios Where a Second Mortgage Might Be a Good Option

There are several scenarios where taking out a second mortgage might be a good option. For instance, if you need money for big expenses like home renovations, a second mortgage can provide the necessary funds. Renovating your home not only improves your living conditions but also adds to the house’s financial value, making it a worthwhile investment.

Second mortgages can also be a good option if you’re looking to consolidate debt. By consolidating high-interest debts into a second mortgage, you can potentially lower your monthly payments and save on interest over time.

Another scenario where a second mortgage might be beneficial is when you’re considering investing in another property. A second mortgage can provide the down payment for the investment property, potentially leading to a significant return on investment in the long run.

Some homeowners take out a second mortgage as a short-term solution when they are preparing to sell their house. The funds from this second mortgage are often used to make necessary repairs or upgrades that can enhance the home’s appeal and potentially increase its market value. Once the house is sold, the proceeds are typically used to pay off both the first and second mortgages.

In a down payment shortfall during real estate purchases, a second mortgage can act as a helpful tool when the first mortgage amount doesn’t fully cover the purchase price, even after applying the down payment. This situation often occurs in transactions involving high-value properties or when the buyer’s initial down payment is not enough. However, it’s important to note that the first mortgage lender must be notified about the intention to place a second mortgage on the property. Their approval is key as it ensures they are aware of the additional financial obligation tied to the property. This step is a legal necessity and promotes transparency and trust among all parties involved in the transaction. Thus, a second mortgage can be an effective strategy to address the financial shortfall in property purchases, provided it is carried out with the necessary permissions and careful consideration.

Other uses include paying off collections or liens, mortgage arrears on the first mortgage, improving cash flow due to temporary income setbacks, property tax arrears, income tax arrears, business start-up or expenses, investments, educational expenses, trips, vehicle purchases, and on and on, the list of uses is endless.

It’s important to note that while second mortgages can provide financial relief in these scenarios, they also come with risks. Therefore, it’s important to carefully assess your financial situation and consider all possible outcomes before taking out a second mortgage.

Potential Risks and Challenges of Second Mortgages

While second mortgages can provide homeowners with access to additional funds, they also come with certain risks. One of the main drawbacks of second mortgages is the higher interest rates and fees compared to first mortgages. This is due to the increased risk for the lender, as they are second in line to recoup their funds if the borrower defaults. If a borrower defaults on their mortgage payments, the first mortgage lender has priority in recovering their funds.

To safeguard themselves from late payments or arrears, some lenders often establish a reserve from the initial mortgage amount. This means that they withhold some of the mortgage money. This reserve is kept in a separate account, that is not accessible to the borrower. Regular mortgage payments are then drawn from this reserve, ensuring that payments are always made on time. This strategy provides a buffer for the lender, securing their investment and mitigating the risk of payment defaults.

How to Mitigate These Risks

Mitigating the risks associated with second mortgages involves careful planning and consideration. Here are some strategies:

  1. Evaluate Your Financial Situation: Before considering a second mortgage, assess your financial standing, including your credit score, income stability, and existing debt. This will help you determine whether you can afford the additional mortgage payments. The last thing you want is to get a temporary influx of money, and then struggle to keep up with the increased monthly payments.
  2. Understand the Terms: Make sure you fully understand the terms of the second mortgage, including the interest rate, repayment schedule, and any penalties for late or missed payments.
  3. Consider the Total Cost: Remember to consider the total cost of the mortgage, including interest and fees, closing costs, not just the monthly payments. This will give you a clearer picture of the financial commitment you are making. This is where the APR disclosure comes in place.
  4. Seek Professional Advice: It’s always recommended to seek advice from a mortgage broker. They can provide you with personalized advice based on your specific circumstances.
  5. Have a Repayment Plan: Ensure you have a solid plan for repaying the loan. This could involve setting aside a certain amount of your income each month specifically for mortgage repayments.
  6. Exit strategy: If the second mortgage was issued by an alternative or private lender, there is always the possibilities that they may need their money, and not renew the mortgage at the end of the term. In cases like that it is advisable to have an exit strategy, meaning how to repay them on the end of the term. If the borrower did not have the funds to pay off the lender in full when the mortgage matures, the most common ways are either through a sale of the property, or by refinancing with another lender.

By taking these steps, you can mitigate the risks associated with second mortgages and make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals.

The Process of Getting a Second Mortgage

Before you decide to take out a second mortgage, it’s important to understand the process involved. You may need to obtain authorization from your first mortgage lender, as your mortgage contract may contain a clause that protects the lender’s interest in such situations. It’s also advisable to consult with a mortgage broker to understand the most affordable options based on your credit score, income, and property.

Obtaining a second mortgage in Ontario involves several steps:

  1. Determine Your Budget: Before you start the process, it’s important to determine how much you can afford to borrow. This involves assessing your income, expenses, and existing debt.
  2. Find a Mortgage Broker: A mortgage broker can guide you through the process and help you find the best rates and terms for your second mortgage.
  3. Gather Your Documents: You’ll need to provide several documents during the application process. These include proof of income, tax information, list of assets and debts, bank statements, and all of your first mortgage documents.
  4. Working With a Lender: Once you’ve started working with a mortgage broker, they will take over the process in completing the application, finding a lender, applying on your behalf, and guiding you through the steps until closing.
  5. Get An Appraisal: Most lenders will require an appraisal to confirm the value of your home, and to protect their investment. Appraisals are a more formal process that verifies your homes value, which helps lenders determine exactly how much they’re willing to lend you.
  6. Closing: Once everything is done up to this moment, a final step is for a lawyer to do the legal work, and disburse the mortgage funds.

Required Documentation and Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a second mortgage in Ontario, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility criteria. These include:

  1. Credit History: Some lenders may require a certain credit score to qualify you for a second mortgage, while others typically private lenders, may be more flexible and not have stringent requirements on credit.
  2. Stable Income: Similar to the credit, some lenders will want to see proof of a stable income to ensure that you can make the monthly payments, while others may not be concerned about your income as long as there is enough equity in the property being mortgaged.
  3. Home Equity: You’ll need to have at certain amount of equity in your home. Equity is calculated by subtracting the remaining balance on your existing mortgage from the total value of your home. For example, if a second mortgage lender will finance up to 80% of the homes value, and the first mortgage balance is at 65% of the value, that means you may be able to get a second mortgage for the remaining difference of 15% of the home’s equity. If we use an example of house that is valued at $700,000, the 15% will amount to $105,000 in second mortgage.
  4. Debt Servicing Ratios: Some lenders will use debt servicing ratios to determine your qualifications, while other will be more flexible and only consider the equity in the property. As we progress through this list, we are seeing a pattern of equity being the most important factor in this type of financing. What that means is that even if we worked with a prime lender that was offering second mortgages, and the credit, income and ratios were in line with the lenders guidelines, but the equity was insufficient, then the second mortgage will not be approved, or if it was approved it will be for a lower amount.

In terms of documentation, when dealing with an institutional lender you’ll need to provide complete personal information, such as full name, contact and residence information, your Social Insurance Number, a proof of employment and income, tax documents, all of your first mortgage documents, and possibly your bank statements. When it comes to alternative and private lenders, the list of requirements is shorter and more flexible.

Factors Influencing Second Mortgage Rates in Ontario

Several factors influence the interest rates of second mortgages in Ontario. Here are some key determinants:

  1. Equity in the Home: The amount of equity you have in your home significantly impacts the interest rate of your second mortgage. More equity usually results in lower interest rates.
  2. Loan-to-Value Ratio: The loan-to-value ratio, which is the ratio of your loan to the appraised value of your property, also affects the interest rate. A lower loan-to-value ratio often leads to lower interest rates.
  3. Credit Score: Your credit score also plays a role in determining the interest rate of your second mortgage. A higher credit score can help you secure a lower interest rate.
  4. Income: Your income and ability to make monthly interest payments can also influence the interest rate of your second mortgage.
  5. Property Type and Location: The type and location of your property can impact the interest rate. For instance, lenders may offer lower rates for properties located in urban areas compared to rural areas.
  6. Market Conditions: Broader economic conditions and monetary policy also play a role in determining second mortgage rates.

It’s important to note that these rates can vary significantly from lender to lender, as well as from the other factors mentioned. Therefore, potential borrowers should have their mortgage broker thoroughly research and compare rates from different lenders before deciding on a second mortgage.


Obtaining a second mortgage is a process that requires detailed steps and thorough due diligence. At Ltd, we can assist with research on what the second mortgage marketplace is currently offering to borrowers, and provide helpful advice and guidance on the process of getting a second mortgage. Contact us today for a free consultation! For any questions or further assistance, feel free to reach out to us via our website or call us at (519) 252-9665.

Please note that this information is current as of the time of writing and is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be relied upon as financial advice. Always consult with a mortgage professional for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

This article was brought to you by Ltd., a licensed mortgage brokerage. Our licensing status with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) can be confirmed through this link.

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