Canadians who are renewing their mortgage or buying a home are increasingly concerned about their ability to qualify for the mortgage they need, and are considering alternatives to traditional lenders as a result. 

Nearly half, or 47 per cent, said they are concerned about being able to qualify, with 16 per cent saying they are very concerned. Those were the results of the latest BNN Bloomberg and RATESDOTCA survey, which was conducted by Leger. Responses were collected between March 17 and 19t, with 1,527 adult Canadians being surveyed.  

The most concerned group are those buying or renewing in the next 12 months, with 70 per cent saying they were worried about qualifying. Meanwhile, 60 per cent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 are concerned.  

Mortgage rates have surged in the past year in what has been one of the fastest rate increases in decades. Many lenders are now offering mortgage rates anywhere from 4.59 per cent to 5.55 per cent, depending on the type and term, according to the latest data from RATESDOTCA.  

That compares to the record low rates seen during late 2020 and early 2021, when both variable and fixed-rate mortgages fell below two per cent.  

That increase has made the average mortgage payment more expensive and eroded affordability, even as home prices in many Canadian cities have fallen in the past year. Data from the Canadian Real Estate Association shows that the national average home price in December 2022 was $626,318, down 12 per cent from the end of 2021. 

At the same time, RBC’s Housing Affordability Measure shows that due to higher interest rates, it actually costs more now to service the average mortgage than it did a year ago. Canadians are now required to spend, on average, 62.7 per cent of their income to cover the costs of home ownership, which is the worst level on record.  

It’s no surprise then that many are exploring options beyond traditional lenders to afford a mortgage or to ensure they qualify for a renewal.  

Nearly one-third, or 29 per cent, said they are considering alternatives. That includes 12 per cent who are asking friends or family for money, and 11 per cent who are considering private lenders. The latter often includes significantly higher interest rates, are not regulated, and are often only intended to be used for short-term loans.

Alternatives to traditional lenders can also include credit unions, however. Credit unions, which often have mortgage rates similar to traditional lenders, are provincially regulated, meaning they are not required to disqualify borrowers if they fail the federal mortgage stress test.  

The stress test requires a borrower to be able to show that they can afford a mortgage rate of either 5.25 per cent or the interest rate negotiated, plus two per cent — whichever one is higher.  


An online survey of 1527 Canadians aged 18+ was completed between March 17th and 19th , 2023 using Leger’s online panel. This sample is subsequently filtered to 666 homeowners with a mortgage or those who plan to purchase a home within the next year.
No margin of error can be associated with a nonprobability sample (i.e., a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 1527 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.5 %, 19 times out of 20 while a probability sample of 666 respondents would have a margin of error of ±5%, 19 times out of 20.

BNN Bloomberg has teamed up with RATESDOTCA to take the pulse of Canadians every month on key pocketbook issues as we strive to better understand how households are navigating COVID-19. This is the latest instalment in monthly special coverage.