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2014 CMHC Mortgage Consumer Survey

2014 CMHC MCSCMHC’s Mortgage Consumer Survey is one of the best looks at mortgagor behaviour because, unlike most other industry surveys, it focuses only on recent borrowers.

And those recent borrowers are telling us something interesting. Despite fierce direct competition from lenders, consumers are increasingly doing business with brokers. Brokers have picked up market share in 3 out of 4 mortgage categories tracked by CMHC.

In addition to that stat, we’ve gone through this year’s report and pulled out all the other good stuff. If you’re pressed for time, check out the “must-read” data that’s highlighted in red. (The comments in italics are ours.)


2014 Mortgage Activity

Of recent mortgage consumers:

  • 55%: renewed their mortgage
  • 23%: purchased a home with mortgage financing
  • 22%: refinanced their mortgage


Online Mortgage Gathering

  • 78% of mortgage consumers looked to online information sources to gather information about mortgage options and features. (It seems unlikely that 22% of mortgage shoppers would not have researched mortgages online. Some surveys have found that only 10% don’t research mortgages on the net. Assuming CMHC’s stat is correct, it would be fascinating to know who these 22% were. As a group, it’s a near certainty they paid higher rates and/or got less flexible mortgage products than online mortgage shoppers.)
  • Of that 78% above:
    • 60% went to lender websites
    • 25% visited broker websites
    • 16% went to both
  • 73% of those who went online used a mortgage calculator.
    • 66% used a calculator to determine mortgage payments.
    • 35% used a mortgage comparison calculator.
    • 32% used a mortgage affordability calculator. (How many used a mortgage stress test calculator to check their payments with a 200-300 bps rate hike? Probably far too few.)
  • 40% of users rated blogs as being “very useful.”
  • 22% of online mortgage consumers used social media to gather information about mortgages.
    • That compares to 14% in 2013
    • Facebook is the most widely used social media platform


Mortgage Process

  • 52% of recent buyers contacted at least one lender to learn about mortgage options.
  • 41% contacted at least one broker.
  • 2.9: The average number of lenders contacted.
  • 2.0: The average number of brokers contacted.
  • 4.6 weeks: The average amount of time it took those using a broker to finalize their mortgage.
  • 2.9 weeks: The average amount of time it took those using a lender to finalize their mortgage. (We asked CMHC why the broker/bank difference was so great. Spokesperson Karine LeBlanc attributed it to a more extensive consultation process (e.g., brokers provide more lender and product options) and to the fact that brokers deal with more buyers than renewers. Banks dominate the renewal market and renewing clients generally requires less time to arrange their mortgage.)


Broker share and use

Broker share is on the rise in most segments.

  • 48% of mortgage originations among first-time buyers are handled by mortgage brokers.
    • Versus 49% in 2013
  • 40% of mortgage originations among repeat buyers are handled by mortgage brokers.
    • Versus 34% in 2013
  • 32% of mortgage originations among refinancers are handled by mortgage brokers.
    • Versus 26% in 2013
  • 23% of those renewing used the services of a mortgage broker.
    • Versus 17% in 2013. (This number has been uptrending since 2010 when it was 13%.)
  • 2.4 offers from different lenders were presented by brokers.
    • Half of broker clients felt that this number is about right
    • 30% of broker clients would have preferred to receive more offers for their consideration
  • 67% reported that their broker made a recommendation about which offer to accept. (Whether they follow them or not, almost all clients want a recommendation. It’s hard to imagine a mortgage originator not providing one and still charging normal rates.)
    • 89% of borrowers accepted the recommendation
    • 74% of recent buyers are generally satisfied with their experience using a broker
    • 47% “totally agreed” that they are satisfied. (The same percentage as lenders. This leaves over half of mortgage consumers ripe for the picking by competitors.)


Lender Loyalty and Channel

  • 84% of renewers remained loyal to their existing lender.
  • 60% of mortgage consumers who switched lenders used a broker.
  • 54% of first-time buyers arranged their mortgage with their primary financial institution. (So many mortgage clients want a one-stop financial shop and most pay a rate premium for this privilege.)

In deciding on whether to switch:

    • 40% cited rate as their primary reason.
    • 60% cited interest rates as either the primary or secondary reason for switching or staying.
    • 40% cited convenience as either the primary or a secondary reason for staying.
    • 52% cited existing relationships.


  • 83% of recent buyers are satisfied with their lender.
  • 47% “totally agreed” that they are satisfied.



  • 59% of renewers renewed before the scheduled date.
    • 61% of these renewed within three months of the scheduled date
    • 15% renewed four to six months out
    • 10% renewed more than six months before schedule. (The longest that brokers can hold good rates is for 120 days. This gives lenders an edge if they can get consumers to consider renewing more than 120 days before maturity. Doing so prevents the client from locking in a great rate elsewhere and giving themselves a free option.)
  • 56% cited avoiding a perceived increase in rates as the main reason for renewing early.
  • 18% said they renewed early because their mortgage professional convinced them it was the right decision.


Advice from Mortgage Professionals

  • 50% said the advice they received was “very useful.” (Successful mortgage advisers don’t provide expendable information. Brokers and lender reps who give merely average mortgage guidance are a commodity and should expect to lose customers, especially to rate discounters.)
  • CMHC found that providing clients with useful advice on mortgage strategies can increase the proportion of those who are totally satisfied with their mortgage professional by up to 70%, while also increasing the likelihood of repeat business by as much as 55%.


Customer follow-up

  • 51% of mortgage consumers who used a broker were contacted by their mortgage professional following their mortgage transaction.
  • 35% who used a lender were contacted.
    • Most post-transaction follow-up occurs within one week to one month after the mortgage transaction is completed.
  • 60%: The increased likelihood of repeat business as a result of post-transaction contact.

Types of follow-up contact mortgage consumers would have considered useful:

  • Advice on long-term mortgage financial strategies
    • 29% of lender clients
    • 32% of broker clients
  • Housing market information
    • 15% of lender clients
    • 27% of broker clients
  • Information on how to manage financial difficulty
    • 15% of lender clients
    • 23% of broker clients
  • Investment opportunities
    • 15% of lender clients
    • 23% of broker clients

(Tips on leveraging home equity to build net worth are still fan favourites.)

Survey background: CMHC’s survey was conducted online and polled 3,584 recent mortgage consumers who were the prime decision makers. The survey took place in March and April 2014 and was limited to those who have had a mortgage transaction in the preceding 12 months. CMHC has conducted this survey since 1999.

Rob McLister, CMT (email)