So your mortgage got declined

Brush yourself off and make your next move with this essential guide to alternative lending options

If you’re thinking of getting a mortgage, you’ve probably done some research to see what’s required for approval. But what happens if you don’t meet all the requirements? Welcome to the world of alternative lending…


These mortgage offerings are geared towards a borrower who needs a lender to work with them in a “common sense” way that meets both the borrower’s needs and the alternative lender’s rules and guidelines. There is a lot of material available about the typical mortgage product that comes with best rates, reasonable payout penalties and flexible pre-payment privileges. However, there seems to be limited information on the alternative lending products  – unless one knows where to look, of course. Don’t be discouraged by a decline – plan your next move with this essential guide to your alternative lending options.

Everyone is a bit alternative

There are multiple avenues you can take to get a mortgage approval and it’s important to pick the one that’s right for you. You can go directly to your bank branch where you have been doing business for many years, meet with one of the bank’s mortgage specialists or go through an independent mortgage broker. It’s likely all of these channels offer some kind of alternative. If you have been declined and they don’t offer, be sure to ask for a referral. Before you accept “No” for an answer, make sure you have explored all of your mortgage options. This may be the time to seek out a mortgage professional who not only has experience in alternative lending but has the connections, too.

Alternative lending is different than private lending

Private lenders are usually one individual or a group of individuals that have pooled their funds together for the purpose of mortgage lending. Alternative lenders tend to be larger corporations with multiple mortgage funding channels, including some banks as well. My suggestion is – if you find yourself having to go with a private lender, be sure you are with a reputable private lender as there are fewer government bodies monitoring the actions and practices of the private lenders. It could make sense to have a broker help you (who will charge a fee) versus sourcing out your own private lender unaided. The DIY approach may be less expensive at first, but it could cost you much more in the end, especially if you aren’t fully aware of their guidelines and if you ever default on even just one payment.

Alternative lenders make more exceptions

This is one of their most attractive features; it’s basically the point of going through an alternative lender. To qualify you for a mortgage, prime lenders have a box they like the borrower to fit in. This is where alternative lenders differ from their prime counterparts. Whether it’s bruised credit, limited income history or a unique downpayment source, alternative lending is available for the out-of-the box borrower. In exchange for relaxed requirements, don’t be surprised if you’re charged a higher interest rate and a fee which may be added to the mortgage, both of which should be quite reasonably priced.

Payout penalties may differ

Most lending commitments feature two payout penalty calculation options: 3 months simple interest, based on your outstanding mortgage balance, or the interest rate differential – whichever is the greater. Interest rate differential (IRD) is calculated on your outstanding mortgage balance, the time left in your term, as well as, the difference between your existing rate and the best rate available at the time you break your term. Alternative lenders differ in that a mortgage through them may include additional fees should you choose to end your term prematurely. Avoid any surprises by fully understanding the potential payout penalties that may come with your alternative mortgage.

Terms and products offered by alternative lenders

The majority of alternative lenders offer one to five year terms and some even have variable rate options. I find that the majority of borrowers choose to take terms of three years or less, which minimize the possibility of having to incur a payout penalty. The shorter terms encourage transition rather than permanence. In other words, if you’re getting charged a higher interest rate, it’s a good idea to have an exit strategy so you’re not paying more forever. The ideal scenario would be to improve on whatever forced you out of the prime lending market in the first place. That way, you can eventually refinance with a prime lender who has more favourable terms.

Property is key for alternative lenders

When it comes to alternative lending, the collateral for the mortgage is one of the most important components of whether you do or don’t qualify – the collateral being the subject property and land. Given these lenders are making exceptions in the requirements for the borrowers, they tend to be more reliant on the strength of the property. The property has to be in prime condition and located in a marketable city centre, or at least very close to one.

Alternative lenders ask for less documentation


An alternative lender will work with you on document requirements such as employment and down payment confirmation, while at the same time meeting their rules and guidelines. Basically, you will still be expected to show you can make the mortgage payments and can also document where your down payment came from so it conforms to Canadian money laundering guidelines. Your favourite mortgage professional should be able to advise you of what documentation is required for each of the different lenders.


If you’ve been declined for a mortgage, an experienced mortgage professional can help make the process pain-free by ensuring you’re educated about your other options. They can also help you strategize an effective exit plan to get you back to your best rates.


If you’re looking for an experienced mortgage broker, contact The Mortgagegirl at 780.433.8412 or Stay in the loop by following on Twitter @mortgagegirlca.


Mortgage Girlby Mortgage Girl
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Run by Jackie Woodward, the “original Mortgage Girl”. Licensed under TMG The Mortgage Group