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Published May 3, 2023

First National Financial Mortgage Review 2023

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First National Financial at a glance

First National Financial is a non-bank mortgage lender providing residential, commercial and sub-prime mortgages via a network of mortgage brokers.

    First National Financial key features
    First National Financial mortgage types
    • One of Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lenders.
    • Offers a wide variety of commercial and residential mortgage options, including products for the self-employed, and Canadians with lower credit score.
    • Offers a secured credit card, the First National Home Equity Mastercard, that is backed with your home equity.
    • Clients can’t deal directly with First National but must go through a mortgage broker
    • Commercial & residential mortgages
    • Fixed-rate mortgages
    • Adjustable-rate mortgages
    • Closed and open mortgages
    • Conventional and insured mortgages
    • Property Plus Improvement mortgage
    • Refinances and second mortgages
    • Excalibur mortgage for poor credit or self-employed borrowers 
    • Investment property mortgages


    • Wide selection of both commercial and residential mortgages.
    • Unique mortgage products, like sub-prime mortgages and a credit card secured by home equity.
    • Prepayment options that could save you thousands over the course of your mortgage.


    • Can’t start an application or get pre-approval online, must contact a broker.
    • Excalibur mortgages aren’t available in all provinces or territories.
    • The Home Equity Secured Mastercard is only available in Ontario.

    First National Financial full review

    Established in 1988, First National Financial is one of the country’s largest non-bank lenders — sometimes referred to as B lenders — managing over $100 billion in mortgages. 

    First National Financial is headquartered in Toronto but it has several offices across Canada and provides mortgages throughout the country (though their subprime mortgages — known as Excalibur loans — are only available in a few provinces/regions). 

    Though First National Financial specializes in both commercial and residential mortgages, it does not work directly with consumers. Instead, interested borrowers must use a mortgage broker to apply for a mortgage from First National Financial. 

    The company has a wide variety of mortgage types, including loans for clients seeking to finance commercial real estate

    First National Financial offers commercial mortgages for senior homes, industrial, multi-family dwellings, retail, storage facilities, student housing, mixed use and even land development. 

    For residential borrowers, First National offers fixed, variable, 6-month open, conventional and insured mortgages, as well as mortgages for investment properties and for those who want to roll the cost of home improvement into their mortgage. 

    For eligible Ontario homeowners, First National Financial also has a secured credit card that works much like a HELOC — the credit limit is based on your available home equity.

    Finally, First National has some complementary mortgage programs. One is the no-cost First National home warranty. The policy provides up to $10,000 for eligible repairs for your first 12 months of home ownership. You can renew it after the first year for a fee. They also offer mortgage protection insurance (for a fee) that would help you pay off a mortgage in the event of an unexpected death or a severe accident or illness that prevents you from working.

    Who is First National Financial best for?

    First National Financial may be a good choice for anyone who is interested in the more competitive rate options of a non-bank lender, as well as those who might have difficulty qualifying for a traditional mortgage.

    If you’re a first-time home buyer with a low credit score, or a self-employed borrower, First National Financial offers home loan options, like the Excalibur mortgage, that may not exist at a traditional bank or credit union.

    First National Financial also has attractive rates and unique loan products for current homeowners who want cash-in on their home equity.

    However, because First National Financial does not engage in direct lending, you will have to use a mortgage broker to access their products.

    How to choose the right mortgage lender

    Selecting the right mortgage provider is a big decision. A mortgage is a large debt and you want to make sure that you’re getting the best deal possible. You’ll need to do some research, make a list of what’s important to you, and spend some comparing offers from the different types of providers.

    1. Decide your budget. It’s important to have an idea of how much mortgage you can comfortably afford, before talking with lenders. They may offer you more than you want to spend; it’s important to be ready for that conversation.
    2. Understand the different types of lenders: Mortgage providers include banks, credit unions, brokers like True North Mortgage, alternative lenders, and private lenders. Each has its pros and cons.
    3. Compare offers from three different lenders: To ensure you have a good idea of what’s out there, consider seeking mortgage pre-approval from a big bank, a broker and one other type of alternative lender.
    4. Don’t focus too much on rates. The interest rate is just one part of the mortgage equation. Yes, you want the most competitive rate possible, but it’s also important to weigh the reputation of the lender, the quality of customer service they provide, the types of loans they offer, the fees they charge, and the flexibility of terms they may offer.

    » LEARN MORE: Read our guide to choosing a mortgage lender

    How First National Financial calculates your mortgage payment

    Like most mortgage brokers and lenders, True North Mortgage lending partners will consider the following when estimating what the regular payment might be for your future mortgage:


    TOTAL MORTGAGE: $615,150

    » MORE: Use our mortgage payment calculator to compare different loan scenarios

    First National Financial feature overview

    Mortgage variety

    First National Financial offers a wider variety of commercial mortgages than other banks and brokers, including mortgages for multi-family buildings, senior and student housing and more. 

    Its residential mortgage selection includes fixed and variable mortgages, as well as a revolving credit line secured by your home’s equity

    First National Financial also offers a first mortgage that can accommodate the cost of planned home improvements, as well as mortgages for second homes or vacation properties. First National can also provide subprime mortgages to those with bad credit and mortgages for self employed people.

    Ease of application

    You can’t get pre-approved or apply directly to First National for a mortgage. First National products are only offered through mortgage brokers who have chosen to partner with the company. 

    That being said, you can fill out a form on the lender’s website and if a qualified broker exists in your area, they will contact you directly. The lender also makes it possible to ask questions, via a form on the site.

    Loan amounts and terms

    Based information available on First National Financial’s website, it isn’t possible to confirm an absolute minimum or maximum loan amount. Certain types of residential mortgages, however, appeared to be capped at a specific loan to value ratio

    Mortgage terms are available from six months to 10 years for closed, fixed rates (for conventional and insured mortgages), and at five years for conventional and insured variable rate mortgages. 

    For Excalibur mortgages, terms are contingent on the borrower’s credit rating and appear to max out at three years.

    Mortgage rate transparency

    First National’s website lists sample mortgage rates for both prime and subprime mortgage offerings. The company’s rate table shows rates for one-, two-, three-, four-, five-, seven- and 10-year fixed-rate mortgages, as well as five-year adjustable rates for loans of varying LTVs, and one-, two- and three-year rates for the Excalibur loan.

    It’s particularly useful to have posted rates for Excalibur loans, as some lenders choose to advertise only the best rates to attract clients and won’t show rates for people with less-than-ideal finances, which could be significantly higher. 

    The company website notes that rates can change without notice and that the best way to ensure you get the most accurate rates on a particular day is to contact them.

    » MORE: Learn about fixed vs variable-rate mortgages

    Rate types

    First National offers mortgages with both fixed (conventional and insured) and variable (conventional and insured) rates, as well as a 6-month open fixed-rate mortgage.

    Mortgage fees

    Tucked into the fine print of its “find a mortgage broker” form, First National states that the broker may be remunerated directly or indirectly from First National, i.e. broker fees are not charged to borrowers. 

    Additionally, the company claims there is no fee to move your current mortgage to First National financial, and that it will cover the costs of switching (such as appraisal and legal fees) up to $3,000. 

    First National offers several fee-free prepayment options for eligible mortgages, including:

    If you exceed these pre-payment allowances, you will be charged for any additional prepayments. Depending on your mortgage type, the prepayment penalty is equivalent to three months’ interest on the prepaid amount or the prepayment penalty is calculated as the greater of three months’ interest on the prepaid amount or an Interest Rate Differential (IRD) amount.

    Security and safety

    First National will likely gain access to your personal and financial information through a third-party, like a broker. However, the company notes that it takes your privacy seriously and utilizes physical, technological and organization controls whenever possible. The company’s Privacy Policy page states that you have the option of reaching out to First National’s Chief Privacy Officer with any concerns, and provides that contact information.

    Customer satisfaction ratings

    Based on NerdWallet analysis of satisfaction score on several customer review websites, it’s unclear whether First National Financial typically provides a satisfactory experience for most customers.

    Because First National Financial doesn’t provide mortgages directly to clients, your customer service experience will largely be provided by a broker. First National does state on its site that it prioritizes customer service and that you can contact them via phone, email or fax, as well as through the My Mortgage portal.

    First National Financial mortgage eligibility requirements

    To qualify for a prime mortgage with First National Financial, as with any lender or brokerage, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements. These include:

    For an Excalibur mortgage from First National Financial, the qualifications are different. Depending on your situation (whether or not you’re applying as self-employed), you may have to have had a credit history that is at least two years old and a strong downpayment. It’s unclear what the minimum credit score is for an Excalibur mortgage, but according to ‘recent closings’ listed on the company’s website, scores as low as 580 may be accepted.

    How to apply for a mortgage with First National Financial

    You must go through a broker to get a mortgage with First National, so there is no application information on the company’s website.

    However, you can begin the process by filling out a “Find a Broker” form on the website, providing personal information and contact details. 

    Expect to provide information and documentation to your mortgage broker, who will need to verify your income, credit score, savings, debt load, cost of the property you’re interested in and the amount of your down payment.

    Alternatives to First National Financial

    If First National Financial is not turning out to be a good option for you, you may find more customized mortgage rates with other lenders and brokers in Canada.

    RBC MortgageTrue North MortgageButler Mortgage
    Lender typeBig Bank lenderMortgage BrokerageMortgage Brokerage
    Service areaNationalNationalNational
    In-person service?YesYesYes
    Ease of applicationEasy (online, phone, in-person)Easy (online, phone, in-person)Moderately easy (start online, via phone, or by fax)
    Mortgage varietyAverageAbove averageAverage

    Frequently asked questions about First National Financial

    What is First National Financial in Canada?

    First National Financial is a non-bank mortgage lender that originates residential and commercial home loans via a network of mortgage brokers.

    How do I contact First National Financial?

    You can contact First National Financial by sending a message online, using your My Mortgage Account, or by calling 1-888-670-2111. You cannot apply for a mortgage directly with First National Financial, but will instead need to work with a mortgage broker.

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