Will DIY Mortgages Take Off in Canada? Many Say ‘Yes’

Picture this: You get up, grab a coffee and your laptop, and… apply for a mortgage. Online.

Maybe in the U.S., you say. But in Canada?

It’s looking more likely. And the game changer may well be Quicken, whose Rocket Mortgage product was advertised during this year’s Super Bowl. According to one Rocket client, you get actual approval in minutes online, including verification of credit, income and assets. It shaves off an estimated seven days from the process.

Rocket Mortgage and its competition have been around for a while, but the publicity gleaned by Quicken has given a huge boost to the U.S. DIY mortgage industry.

Will it come to Canada? Robert McLister, whose intelliMortgage company offers some degree of automation to Canadian rate seekers, notes in a recent article for Canadian Mortgage Trends, “The short answer is yes, in some shape or form, but likely not for a few years, minimum.”

Already several Canadian lenders have online portals for mortgage seekers. Some are more advanced than others, but what’s lacking here is what dramatically changed the U.S. mortgage application process – e-signing.

There are federal regulations around e-signatures that may be slowing down the adoption of e-signing here. As McLister says, “Certain Canadian lenders have been painfully slow in allowing brokers to submit e-signatures.” Without this “revolution,” it may take a while for Canadians to be able to complete the whole process of acquiring a mortgage online. But given Rocket’s successful takeoff, we may not have to wait too long.

The Tiny House Movement: Fad or Solution

You don’t have to be house shopping to know that “tiny” is very now. “Tiny” as in “tiny homes,” that is. TV shows, magazines, and the lifestyle sections of newspapers have been promoting the “small is beautiful” philosophy for months now. What’s it all about?

A tiny house or apartment is generally described as less than 400 square feet (37.16 square meters), and, according to Betsy Shiffman in Forbes, “While tiny apartments are hardly a new phenomenon… a new wave of tiny houses and micro apartments is targeted to people who can afford more.”

In the past, families in urban areas lived in tiny apartments because they couldn’t afford bigger. Today’s tiny home buyers go tiny because they want to.

As the CBC reports, one Canadian couple is delighted with their 175-square-foot Cape Breton “dream home.”

“We still have our favourite spots and our favourite everything…(It’s) not (as) much of a change (as) we expected it to be,” says homeowner Nicky Duenkel.

In the U.S., according to Collin Binkley of Associated Press, “Backers of tiny living say the movement is growing, and certain areas have become hotspots. Villages of little homes have popped up in cities like Portland and Seattle.”

However, a recent article in the Globe & Mail takes on the myth of happy tiny-home owners. “Are tiny homes really sustainable?”

The writer, Erin Anderssen, points to at least one poster family for the tiny housing movement: “They lasted 18 months before they decided it was ‘too small’ and moved into an apartment.”

That said, the movement remains popular across North America, especially with the millennial contingent.

And, interestingly, several urban areas are currently exploring the feasibility of tiny homes in the battle against homelessness.

Are tiny houses just another craze or might they represent a solution to an intractable urban problem? It remains to be seen.