Manitoba mortgage FAQs answered

Manitoba’s hot property market is expected to continue through 2021, after a sellers’ market that brought price rises of over 4% in 2020.

Manitoba mortgage and home hunting

The pandemic has prompted many people to buy a home where their family can be comfortable and safe, with enough space to live, work and play. First-time buyers are taking advantage of record-low interest rates to get a mortgage, in some cases with payments more comparable to rent. Low interest rates also make for cheaper loans if they need to buy a fixer-upper (often the only option for first-time buyers in a hot market).

If you’re looking for a new home, you’re likely looking for a mortgage as well. You can book an appointment with an ACU mortgage expert, who knows the market and can guide you every step of the way.

If you’re not yet familiar with the steps to getting a mortgage in Manitoba, or it’s been a while since the last time you had to sign on the dotted line, you may have recently asked these questions:

  • How does a mortgage work?
  • How much of a down payment do I need?
  • How do I get a mortgage in Manitoba?
  • How long does it take to get approved for a mortgage?
  • Are mortgage pre-approvals important in Manitoba?
  • How do I qualify for a mortgage at the credit union?
  • What is a good credit score for me to get a credit union mortgage?
  • How has COVID-19 changed the Manitoba mortgage process?

To help you through the steps, we’ve compiled answers to these frequently asked Manitoba mortgage questions. Review them all or scroll to the answers you want first!

How does a mortgage work?

mortgage funding

Mortgages are loans used specifically to buy a home. You pay off the mortgage with regular payments (usually of principal and interest) over the amortization period of the mortgage. “Amortization” is the number of years it takes to pay off the mortgage, and payments can normally be made weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly.

A mortgage is secured against the value of your home. This means that, if you’re unable to make your payments, your home could be sold off to pay your debt. Amortization periods typically start at 25 years for first-time homebuyers, however, you’ll normally sign up for a five-year mortgage term. This is the length of time that your current mortgage contract will last, with the agreed conditions, such as the interest rate and flexibility to make prepayments.

After the mortgage term matures, you can either sign up for another term with the same lender or arrange a mortgage with a different financial institution.

Related: Buying or selling a home in a COVID-19 world

How much of a down payment do I need?

You will need to provide a down payment of at least 5% of the selling price of the home. Down payments can come from sources such as:

  • Your own savings, with statements to show this
  • Your RRSPs, through the Home Buyers’ Plan (up to $35,000)
  • A gift from a close family member, with a signed letter from them stating that the gift doesn’t have to be repaid
  • From the sale proceeds of an existing property

If your down payment is less than 20%, you’ll have to pay for mortgage loan insurance. The amount will depend on the size of your down payment—the more you can put down, the less you’ll pay.

Your ACU financial advisor can work with you to figure out the details, including mortgage loan insurance premiums and the down payment required.

Try this mortgage calculator from ACU, which can help you work out the costs.

How do I get a mortgage in Manitoba? 

Required Mortgage Documents Checklist

Mortgages are available from credit unions and other financial institutions. To get started, you usually have to fill out an application and provide supporting documents to help with your qualification. These include:

  • Official identification to prove who you are
  • Proof of income (usually two payslips plus T4s)
  • Tax returns (Notices of Assessment) if you are self-employed
  • Savings account/RRSP statements showing your down payment savings or a gift letter

Once your financial institution has all the necessary documents, they’ll start the process to approve your application.

Download ACU’s Required Mortgage Documents Checklist, which will help ensure that you have all the documentation required for the mortgage approval process with Assiniboine Credit Union.

How long does it take to get approved for a mortgage?

Mortgage approvals can be relatively quick, especially when you’re prepared with confirmation of your income, down payment and other key details. While the exact mortgage approval time is dependent on multiple factors, ACU advice experts will work with you closely to expedite the process and help you purchase your home. In some cases, ACU can have the whole process completed in a few hours!

ACU Manitoba mortgage pre-approval

For example, it may depend on the time of year you’re applying, as it can take longer in the busy months. Timeframes will also depend on specific steps required by your Manitoba mortgage lender and how quickly you can get all of the necessary supporting documentation together. If you have all your information and documents ready, that will speed up the process significantly.

If you’re only applying for a pre-approval at this stage, it could be much quicker. But be careful! Depending on the lender, pre-approvals can be little more than a promise to hold an interest rate for a specific time period. A pre-approval that has involved a higher level of underwriting (for example, requesting your pay slips and tax returns, running a credit check, etc.), is more likely to be honoured when it comes to closing on your new home. 

Are mortgage pre-approvals important in Manitoba?

During the pandemic, they’re essential. They not only help you to narrow down the price range of homes you can start viewing, but many realtors are now asking for a pre-approval before allowing any potential buyers to view a house.

Since realtors have to limit the number of people who view any property to serious buyers only, a pre-approval is your ticket in.

How do I qualify for a mortgage at the credit union?

Credit unions and other mortgage lenders are concerned with several key factors:

  • Your income
  • Your outgoing expenses, including debts
  • Your credit score
  • The home you hope to buy
  • Your down payment / closing costs

Mortgage lenders work out whether they believe you can afford a specific mortgage amount by using debt service ratios. These calculations start with your income, then look at how much your mortgage and other monthly expenses add up to. If the ratios are too high, you would have to look at buying a less expensive house.

home appraisal

Some lenders will want an appraisal on the home you’re buying, to make sure it’s worth what you’re paying for it. Your credit score will also play a part, with many lenders refusing mortgages to people with poor credit. You’ll also need to prove you have the necessary down payment, as mentioned above.

What is a good credit score for me to get a mortgage at the credit union?

While this depends on the lender, most financial institutions will accept a credit score of 720 or above. Some lenders want to see a score over 740, while others might accept a score as low as 680. Any lower than 680 and you may start to see interest rates go up.

If your score is lower than 600, you might find it a challenge to qualify for an affordable mortgage loan. Working with your ACU financial advisor, you’ll be able to learn the steps required to bring your score up to a range where you’ll start to qualify.

How has COVID-19 changed the Manitoba mortgage process?

Right now, you’re more likely to “meet” your mortgage specialist by phone or a video conference call. With COVID-19 safety protocols and social distancing, it’s become increasingly the norm to conduct mortgage meetings virtually. You’ll send your documents by email, rather than in person, and you may sign documents electronically. 

Help getting you started with your mortgage

ACU’s financial advisors can help get you started with a pre-approved mortgage and make the whole experience an easy one. Here’s how we can help:

  • Extremely competitive rates with a low five-year fixed mortgage interest rate (See this page for more details and the latest rates.)
  • Up to $800 of transfer fees covered
  • Our Assiniboine Credit Union mortgage experts know the local real estate market
  • We’ll be by your side every step of the way, from pre-approval to closing and beyond.

Book an appointment online today, or give us a call at 204.958.8588 (toll-free 1.877.958.8588). We’re looking forward to helping you secure your mortgage.

About James Burns

James Burns is a freelance writer and copywriter. With a background in journalism, financial services and marketing, he writes for a wide range of companies across the financial services spectrum. His articles and blogs provide financial advice and insights to both consumers and businesses.

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