online mortgage

Navigating Canada’s online mortgage maze

Approaching the process with skepticism
Thursday, September 7, 2023
By Alan Harder

Canada’s online mortgage landscape can be rife with deceptive tactics and misleading promises. Websites often evade essential specifics. People might spend hours researching only to realize they learned nothing about the lenders, their policies, restrictions, or qualifying guidelines. It can be a classic bait and switch: teasing with low rates but not providing the needed information to assess its value. So, what’s really going on?

Why it’s so difficult to research online

There may be an assumption that mortgage comparison sites are allies, working to get uncover the best deal. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. In reality, many of these sites function more like marketing agencies. Their primary objective isn’t to offer the most accurate rates or detailed information. Instead, they’re laser-focused on obtaining peoples contact details, getting them on the phone, and selling. Anything outside of this objective is secondary.

Techniques used 

Method 1: Only advertising a ‘rate.’

Imagine visiting a realtor’s website expecting to see property listings, but all it says is “the price of a house starts at $800,000, contact me to learn more.” It’s perplexing and frustrating. The mortgage industry is guilty of a similar tactic. Rate tables are often presented without the necessary details. It’s analogous to seeing the price of a home without knowing its location, size, or condition. Important specifics like mortgage features, restrictions, penalties, and lending requirements are conspicuously missing. Most of the time, these rates are for high-ratio purchases, which may not even apply.

Method 2: The illusion of choice

Imagine navigating a digital real estate platform, lured by the promise of numerous property choices. Various realtors boast ‘houses starting at $800,000’ or ‘condos from $400,000’. Initially, it feels like a realm of endless possibilities. But on closer inspection, a different story unfolds. Many realtors quote a slightly different price on identical properties, making it evident that the expansive choice was just an illusion. It’s like reading a book with the same chapter disguised under different titles.

This deception mirrors the mortgage world, where different sites showcase identical mortgage rates, falsely presenting them as varied offers. Their aim? To overwhelm consumers with an illusion of diversity, nudging them to commit without proper market research.

To navigate these tactics, consumers must dig deeper, comparing and validating to discern the true extent of available choices.

Method 3: The form to nowhere

A common trick these sites employ is the “estimate my rate” button. It promises to calculate a rate tailored for the individual. After entering all the details and spending time answering their questions, people are led to believe that one last step remains: providing their name and contact information. But instead of the promised rate, they are met with a barrage of calls and emails trying to sell services.

Being aware of these techniques is the first step in ensuring you don’t fall for them. If something seems too good to be true in the online mortgage world, it probably is. Educate yourself, ask questions, and approach the process with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Alan Harder is a co-founder of, a pioneering platform that consolidates mortgage rates directly from Canadian lenders instead of third-party mortgage brokers. With a commitment to transparency and empowerment, RateFilter aims to streamline the research process, allowing Canadians to make informed decisions when comparing mortgage rates.

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