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Borrow-Happy New Mortgagors

Credit application FBPeople who apply for mortgages are up to three times more likely to seek additional credit in the 12 months that follow.

That stat comes from TransUnion Financial Services, which ran a study a few months back surveying U.S. mortgage applicants with a prime or better credit rating.

(Side note: TransUnion didn’t report any Canadian-specific data in this survey, but it’s a fair bet that things aren’t drastically different up here.)

The finding is important because “it quantitatively confirms the conventional wisdom,” said Ezra Becker, co-author of the study and senior vice president of research and consulting for TransUnion. The report also found that mortgage applicants were:

  • 50% more likely to open a credit card over the next 12 months following their mortgage inquiry
  • Up to three times more likely to seek a car loan compared to overall consumers.

This proclivity to borrow (more) is partly why lenders covet mortgage borrowers. Such customers are ripe for cross-selling and in the broker space, probably no one does that better than Scotiabank. Hopefully TD and other deposit-taking lenders in our channel take the same opportunity to offer financial services promos to new broker-referred clients. And for all the brokers who complain about branch signings, think about how much you’d complain if banks deemed our channel unprofitable (because of insufficient cross-sell opportunity) and pulled out entirely.

TransUnion’s study also found something else somewhat curious. Credit card spending actually rises just before a mortgage is about to be paid off. In fact, in the month prior to discharge, consumers were found to increase credit card spending up to three times the level they spent just six months earlier.

“A long held assumption among lenders is that new mortgage applicants spend less on their credit cards prior to their mortgage closing event – either to ensure their credit picture does not change or simply because they anticipate spending more once they move into their new home,” said Charlie Wise, VP at TransUnion and study co-author. “Our research indicates that millions of consumers actually increase their card spending in the months before the new mortgage origination. Whether it’s to purchase furnishings or make updates to their existing property, many consumers who move increase their spending before moving into their new residence.”