What is a Mortgage Guarantor?

This Page's Content Was Last Updated: October 23, 2023
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What You Should Know

  • Borrowers who are unable to get approved for a mortgage may be approved by adding a guarantor to their application.
  • A guarantor guarantees that the monthly payments will be made, providing security to the lenders.
  • Unlike a cosigner, a guarantor is not listed on the title of the purchased property.
  • A guarantor is usually used when the primary borrower meets the income requirements but has some credit-related issues.
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What Is a Guarantor Mortgage?

Mortgage Guarantor Infographic

Despite saving for years to buy a home in Canada, most Canadians have to take a mortgage to be able to afford a home. In the current scenario, where high home prices and high mortgage rates have compounded unaffordability, it has become increasingly difficult to get mortgage approval. Some homebuyers may require help in qualifying for a mortgage, and that’s where a mortgage guarantor could lend a hand. A guarantor could help homebuyers meet the lending requirements despite having low credit scores or inadequate income.

A guarantor mortgage is a mortgage in which a guarantor signs a guarantee document as a part of the mortgage agreement. The guarantor reduces lender risk by agreeing to make the mortgage payment if the primary borrower defaults on the loan. A guarantor is usually liable for making the payments only after the lender has exhausted all other collection avenues. Oftentimes, a guarantor helps secure a mortgage for borrowers who have a good income and are capable of making payments but cannot be approved due to other reasons, such as credit problems.

When Do You Need a Guarantor for a Mortgage?

Guarantors can often help get mortgage approval for borrowers who are capable of making their monthly payments but need aid due to the following reasons:

  • Low credit scores: Some borrowers may be rejected only because of their low credit scores. Oftentimes, this may be because the borrower is new to Canada or has insufficient credit history as they are young. Such borrowers may be easily approved by adding a guarantor to the application.
  • Not enough down payment: Some borrowers may have a good income but not enough saved for a down payment. In such a case, a lender may approve the borrower with a lower downpayment if the guarantor has a very strong financial background or is offering collateral for security.
  • Self-employed: Self-employed individuals often find it difficult to qualify for a mortgage as they don’t have regular pay stubs to show a consistent income. In such a situation, a guarantor with a stable income can help the borrower get approved for a loan.
  • Not approved for the desired amount: Some individuals may qualify for a conventional loan but not for the amount they are looking to borrow. They might be able to qualify for a higher mortgage amount by adding a guarantor to the mortgage.

Having a guarantor may also help some primary borrowers bargain the rate of interest on their mortgages.

Mortgage Guarantor Vs. Co-Signer

Both a mortgage co-signer and a guarantor are responsible for your debt if you fail to make payments; however, there are a few key differences between the two. The table below outlines the key differences between a guarantor and a co-signer.

Added to the mortgage agreement but is not listed on the property’s title.Added to the mortgage agreement and is also listed on the property’s title.
Required to sign the guarantee document.Required to sign all the mortgage documents.
Does not have any right over the property.Has partial ownership of the property.
Typically liable for the debt when the primary borrower falls into default, and the lender has no other means of recourse left.Responsible for any payments missed by the primary borrower.
Generally used when the primary homebuyer has a relatively strong application but needs a slight boost.Usually required when the primary homebuyer has a weak application requiring significant aid.
Not all lenders allow a mortgage guarantor.Most lenders allow a mortgage cosigner.
Payment defaults may or may not affect the guarantor’s credit scores.Payment defaults will have an impact on the cosigner’s credit scores.

A guarantor is usually added to applications where the primary borrower meets the income requirement but has credit issues. Meanwhile, a cosigner is usually required for applications where the primary borrower fails to meet income requirements, often because they don’t have adequate documents to prove their income. Guarantors usually need to have a better financial standing than a co-signer.

What are Joint Mortgages?

Joint mortgages also involve multiple parties but differ from a guarantor or a cosigner arrangement. In a joint mortgage, all the borrowers are co-owners of the property and are equally responsible for making the mortgage payments. In a joint mortgage, the financial resources of multiple individuals are combined to qualify for a mortgage. Meanwhile, guarantors and co-signers take responsibility for the mortgage payments only to help the principal borrower qualify.

Who Can Be a Guarantor on a Mortgage?

A mortgage guarantor is usually a spouse, parent, or immediate relative who is willing to take responsibility for the mortgage payments when the primary borrower fails to make the payments. For example, parents may become guarantors for their kids’ mortgages, or a sibling may agree to be a guarantor for a mortgage taken by their sibling. A person has to meet some requirements to qualify as a guarantor. The general eligibility requirements for becoming a guarantor are

  • Age - They should have reached the age of majority in their province of residence.
  • Residency - They must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. A lender may require a guarantor to have lived in Canada for a certain period of time to be eligible.
  • Credit Score - They must have a good credit score (usually 650+) and a clean credit history. A guarantor with a credit report that has delinquencies or derogatory marks may not be approved.
  • Income and Job - They must have a stable job and an income that is enough to cover the mortgage payments in case the primary borrower fails to make payments. In some cases, the lender may approve a guarantor with an insufficient income but a substantial net worth.
  • Own a home - Some lenders also require the guarantor to own a house in Canada to ensure they have an established residency in Canada.

A lender typically runs a credit check on the guarantor to ensure the creditworthiness of the guarantor. In addition, the guarantor also has to provide their financial information to the lender, including their income, assets and existing debt.

Process of Getting a Mortgage Guarantor Approved

If you cannot get approved for a mortgage by yourself, a lender may suggest you get a guarantor or a co-signer based on your situation. The following steps can help you get a guarantor for your mortgage application:

1. Find a Guarantor: The first and foremost step is to find someone who is willing to sign your mortgage agreement as a guarantor. This person should be a close friend or a relative with whom you must share mutual trust. The person should have a sound financial background and must be willing to help you. You should also ensure that they are aware of the risks of becoming a guarantor.

2. Find a Lender: The next step is to find a lender that allows a guarantor. While many lenders accept a guarantor, there are some lenders that do not allow for guarantor-backed mortgages. You will have to research different lenders and talk to them about making a mortgage application backed by a guarantor. Alternative lenders generally offer subprime mortgage solutions. You should ask the lenders about the different interest rate options offered by them and inquire if the rate will be different if a guarantor is a part of the agreement.

3. Submit the Mortgage Application and Documents: Once you find a lender and a guarantor, you will have to complete all the paperwork and submit it. You will also have to submit your guarantor’s financial documents along with your mortgage documents to prove their eligibility. Documents that are typically submitted include identification documents, paystubs, bank statements, proof of assets, and any other documents that can help prove the financial ability of the guarantor. The lender will use these documents to approve or reject the guarantor.

4. Get the Guarantee Document Signed: Once the guarantor is approved, they will have to sign the guarantee document that legally binds them to repay the mortgage if the primary borrower fails to do so.

Risks of Becoming a Mortgage Guarantor

Mortgage Guarantor Image

While becoming a guarantor for a loved one may help them get a mortgage, it may pose some risks for you. Listed below are the risks you should consider before becoming a guarantor for someone.

  • Payment Liability: You may have to make loan payments on behalf of the borrower if they fail to do so. In case of the death of the primary borrower, the liability to repay the loan may fall upon you if the borrower does not have mortgage life insurance or if the policy does not cover you.
  • Credit Risk: Some lenders report the mortgage on the guarantor’s credit report. In such a scenario, your credit score may be affected if the primary borrower misses payments. You may face issues qualifying for a mortgage for yourself if you are guaranteeing someone else’s loan. You should talk to the lender beforehand about their credit report policy before signing as a guarantor.
  • Personal Relationships: Your personal relationships may be strained if the primary borrower fails to make payments and you have to cover their loan. A guarantor doesn’t have any rights over the property, so you may end up being liable to pay for a home that you don’t have any rights over. You must take this fact into account before agreeing to be a guarantor for someone.
  • Loss of Assets: Some lenders may require a guarantor to provide collateral to approve the borrower. In such a case, you may end up losing the assets you provide as security if the principal borrower fails to repay the mortgage, and you aren’t in a position to cover it either.

Questions to Ask Before Becoming a Mortgage Guarantor

If someone has asked you to be a guarantor for them, asking the following questions can help you decide whether or not you should agree to be the guarantor.

  • Why does the applicant need a guarantor to get a mortgage?
  • Is the borrower capable of paying the mortgage back themselves?
  • Do you trust the borrower to make payments on time?
  • Are you willing to make payments if the borrower fails to do so?
  • Do you have the financial capacity to make the mortgage payments should the primary borrower fail to do so?
  • Will you have to provide collateral to help secure the mortgage?
  • Will your relationship with the borrower be soured if you have to make payments on their behalf?
  • Will the lender allow you to be released from the mortgage if the primary borrower’s financial situation improves?
  • Will the mortgage be reported on your credit file?
  • Can you face issues in securing a loan for yourself in future if you agree to be a guarantor for someone else?
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Removing a Guarantor From a Mortgage

In general, a guarantor is released from a mortgage only when the primary borrower is able to assume the mortgage on their own merit. If the primary borrower’s financial situation improves, they can request the mortgage lender to remove the guarantor from the mortgage. It is likely that the primary borrower will have to refinance the mortgage or qualify for a new mortgage in this situation. There may be additional fees for the process of removing a guarantor.

Bottom Line

A guarantor can help boost the mortgage application of individuals who meet most of the lending criteria but are not qualified due to some issues. A guarantor is usually a parent, spouse or close relative who is willing to help you by guaranteeing the mortgage payments. That said, being a guarantor is a legal liability, and one must carefully consider the pros and cons of becoming a guarantor before agreeing to be one.

The calculators and content on this page are provided for general information purposes only. WOWA does not guarantee the accuracy of information shown and is not responsible for any consequences of the use of the calculator.