Scotiabank mortgage at a glance
Scotiabank is one of Canada’s largest mortgage lenders. As a federally-regulated financial institution, it abides by Canada’s strict mortgage qualification guidelines, but it also serves recent arrivals to Canada and the self-employed, groups who may struggle to find mortgages at A lenders.
- Available in all Canadian provinces and territories.
- Offers a modest selection of variable and fixed mortgage rates.
- Provides residential mortgage and renewal services.
- Offers a home equity line of credit product, the Scotia Total Equity Plan (STEP).
- Provides a full-service online mortgage portal, Scotiabank eHome.
- Fixed-rate mortgages.
- Variable-rate mortgages.
- Convertible mortgages.
- Open and closed mortgages.
- Mortgages for secondary properties.
- Home equity lines of credit.
- Mortgage renewals.
- With over 900 Scotiabank branches, getting face-to-face mortgage advice shouldn’t be difficult.
- Offers mortgages to borrowers with non-traditional income sources, like commission earners and the self-employed.
- Scotiabank eHome allows you to get pre-approved, find a home and get a mortgage using a single online tool.
- Doesn’t publish discounted rates and its annual percentage rates (APRs) aren’t prominently displayed.
- Applicants with a lower credit score may find it difficult to get approved.
Scotiabank mortgage full review
Founded in 1832, the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) is one of Canada’s oldest and most recognizable financial institutions. What started as Halifax’s first public bank has grown into an international banking heavyweight with locations across the Americas, the U.K. and Asia.
Scotiabank is among the largest of Canada’s Big Six banks and a major player in the country’s mortgage market. In the third quarter of 2023, Scotiabank’s Canadian mortgage portfolio was $294 billion.
Overall, Scotiabank offers a mix of mortgage products that’s similar to its Big Six competitors. Fixed, variable and convertible mortgages are all on the menu, as are open and closed options. Scotiabank also provides mortgages to some recent arrivals to Canada and self-employed borrowers.
For homeowners who may need access to further capital while paying off their mortgages, Scotiabank offers the Scotia Total Equity Plan, a HELOC product that allows borrowers access to up to 80% of their home’s value.
Who is a Scotiabank mortgage best for?
Many lenders allow borrowers to apply for a mortgage pre-approval online, but Scotiabank’s eHome portal also allows for actual mortgage applications. The bank’s Home Financing Officers are available to assist with the process.
Scotiabank mortgage feature overview
Scotiabank’s mortgage offerings are generally in line with those available at other traditional Canadian lenders.
The bank’s largest sub-set of products are its closed, fixed-rate mortgages, which have terms of one to 10 years. Scotiabank also has open and closed five-year variable-rate mortgages, as well as a closed three-year variable-rate mortgage.
Borrowers looking for short-term lending solutions have a few options at Scotiabank: six-month and one-year open fixed-rate mortgages, and a closed convertible product.
Ease of application
Through its eHome mortgage hub, Scotiabank attempts to offer a fully digital mortgage experience that doesn’t require visits to an actual branch. Barring any hiccups, you should be able to get pre-approved, apply for and manage your mortgage all in one place. (Note that you aren’t able to use eHome if you’re applying with more than one other co-borrower, or if you’re attempting to switch mortgages in Quebec.)
Getting started with the eHome process might take a little longer if you’re not a Scotiabank customer, as the bank will need to collect some basic personal information from you. Once you’ve opened your eHome account, you can begin the mortgage process. Scotiabank even estimates how long each application might take:
- Mortgage pre-approval: 20 minutes.
- Mortgage application: 25 minutes.
- Switching a mortgage to Scotiabank: 25 minutes.
You don’t have to apply for a mortgage online. If you’d rather speak directly to a Scotiabank Home Financing Advisor, you can request either a telephone or in-person meeting through the bank’s website or by calling 1-877-303-8879.
Amounts and terms
Scotiabank doesn’t appear to have a maximum mortgage amount. Its loan terms range from six months for its convertible mortgage product to 10 years for a closed, fixed-rate mortgage. Its variable-rate mortgages are available in three- and five-year terms.
Mortgage rate transparency
Scotiabank isn’t entirely upfront about its mortgage rates. The bank makes its posted rates for every product available publicly, but it doesn’t publish its discounted mortgage rates.
That may be because Scotiabank’s discounted rates are made available to the bank’s mortgage broker partners. Not posting discounted rates even though they’re available can also give customers the impression that they’re getting a uniquely sweet deal during rate negotiations.
If you’re discussing your mortgage options with Scotiabank, be sure to ask if you’d be offered a lower rate if you apply through a broker.
Scotiabank offers both fixed and variable mortgage rates. With the exception of its two short-term options, Scotiabank’s fixed-rate mortgages are all closed. Its variable-rate mortgages are offered as either open or closed.
Fees are an area where Scotiabank could improve on transparency. The bank does not provide any public information regarding additional fees you may incur during the mortgage process. Finding the annual percentage rates associated with Scotiabank’s various mortgage products requires digging into the fine print on the bank’s website.
Scotiabank does, however, provide a rather helpful document that explains how prepayment penalties work and how they are calculated. Depending on the details of your mortgage, you can generally prepay 10-20% of your principal each year and increase your monthly payment by the same amount without triggering a prepayment penalty.
Security and safety
Scotiabank has several processes in place to protect your accounts and personal information, including encryption, firewalls and multi-step identity verification. Scotiabank’s fraud prevention tactics cover not only its website and mobile app, but its automated banking machines, telephone banking and its debit and credit cards.
Scotiabank requires you to read its privacy agreement before you can start the online mortgage application process. The agreement is thorough and straightforward and explains how the bank uses your personal information, why your information is collected and the instances when the bank might use automated decision making. It also provides instructions for refusing or withdrawing your consent regarding the use of your personal information.
Customer satisfaction ratings
It’s difficult to gauge how satisfied Canadians are with Scotiabank as a mortgage provider. Customer review websites can be helpful, but keep in mind that the reviews aren’t verified and may not accurately reflect the average option of Scotia customers; for example, unhappy customers may be overrepresented in these reviews. Nevertheless, these sites are one way to learn about possible downsides to consider.
- Scotiabank had a Trustpilot rating of 1.2 out of 5 possible stars based on 850 customer reviews, at the time of this writing. The most recent reviews contained feedback about a number of Scotia’s products and services, not just mortgages.
- Scotiabank received 1.17 out of a possible 5 stars, according to more than 115 customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau website, at the time of this writing. Scotiabank is not accredited by the BBB itself. Like Trustpilot, the reviews were not exclusively about Scotia’s mortgages.
- Scotiabank’s mobile banking app has a rating of 4.7 out of a possible 5 stars from users on the Apple App store and Google Play store, although it received several one-star reviews in the fall of 2023. The app’s description does not mention the ability to apply for or manage a mortgage.
Scotiabank mortgage eligibility criteria
Because it’s a federally regulated financial institution, Scotiabank’s lending criteria will generally be quite strict. The interest rate and loan amount you’re offered will be based on your finances, but before you get that far in the process, Scotiabank will need to evaluate your:
- Credit score: Chartered banks like Scotiabank typically don’t lend to borrowers with lower credit scores. A credit score of 680 or higher is worth aiming for.
- Credit history: Having several established credit accounts in good standing, and no recent negative marks on your credit report, will help you get approved.
- Income: The amount you earn and how predictable your income is are both important factors.
- Down payment amount: You need to provide at least 5% of a home’s value as a down payment if it’s worth $500,000 or less. For homes worth between $500,000 and $999,999, you need 5% of the first $500,000 and 10% of the amount above $500,000.
- Debt service ratios: Your gross debt service ratio must not exceed 39%. Your total debt service ratio must not exceed 44%.
- Employment history: You generally have to show lenders that you’ve been consistently employed for at least two years.
How to apply for a mortgage with Scotiabank
You can start the mortgage process online, over the phone or in person at a Scotiabank branch, although the bank says approval times can be reduced if you apply through its eHome portal.
Whether you’re applying for a pre-approval or a mortgage, you’ll need to provide financial details related to your income, debt and assets. You’ll also have to grant Scotiabank permission to carry out a hard credit check, which can temporarily lower your credit score.
If you’re self-employed, you may be asked to provide additional documentation so Scotiabank can fully assess your finances and ability to repay a mortgage.
Alternatives to a Scotiabank mortgage
Scotiabank is just one of many Canadian mortgage lenders. If the product you need isn’t available at Scotiabank, there are other Big Six banks, credit unions and B lenders you can turn to.
You can also consider reaching out to a mortgage broker and asking for help in finding a better deal on your home loan.
|Big Bank lender
|Ease of application
|Easy (online, phone, in-person)
How to choose the right mortgage lender
Selecting the right mortgage lender is an important decision. Not only do you want to get the best mortgage rate, you’ll also want to align with a lender whose products, terms and conditions align with your financial needs.
To do all that, it’s helpful to do each of the following:
- Understand the different types of lenders: Mortgage providers include banks, credit unions, alternative lenders, and private lenders. Each has its own pros and cons.
- Compare offers from multiple lenders: Don’t commit to a mortgage from Scotiabank or any other lender until you have a solid idea of what constitutes a good current mortgage rate.
- Don’t focus solely on rates. The interest rate is important, but it’s just one part of the mortgage equation. It’s also important to consider a lender’s reputation, the types of loans they offer, any fees they charge, and how much prepayment flexibility you’ll have.
How Scotiabank calculates your mortgage payment
Like most lenders, Scotiabank will consider the following when calculating your monthly mortgage payment:
- Home price: the amount you agree to pay for a home.
- Down payment: how much you can afford to pay upfront on your home purchase.
- Amortization period: the total time it takes you to pay off your mortgage.
- Mortgage term: how long your mortgage contract will be in effect.
- Payment frequency: how often you’ll make mortgage payments.
- Mortgage interest rate: the amount a lender charges you to borrow its money; expressed as a percentage of the loan amount.
- Property taxes or title transfer fee: an annual fee based on your property value; not all mortgages are set up to include these fees.
- Mortgage default insurance: an extra cost you’ll pay if your down payment is less than 20%.
- Home price: $650,000
- Down payment: $58,500 (9%)
- Amortization period: 25 years
- Mortgage term: 5 years
- Payment frequency: Monthly
- Mortgage interest rate: 5.5%
- Mortgage insurance: $23,660
Frequently asked questions about Scotiabank mortgages
Scotiabank’s current mortgage rates are generally in line with those offered by other Big Six banks. You could score a lower mortgage rate at Scotiabank by working with a mortgage broker. A broker may be able to negotiate a lower rate at Scotiabank by taking a smaller commission.
Mortgage approval times will vary depending on how busy Scotiabank’s Home Financing Advisors are and how you apply. Using Scotiabank’s eHome online hub may speed up the process. But borrowers impact approval times, too. Not providing the documentation Scotiabank requires to properly assess your finances will delay the process.
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