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Published December 30, 2023
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11 minutes

Scotiabank Mortgage Review 2024

Scotiabank primarily offers standard residential mortgages at rates that are in line with other Big Six banks. But it does provide a few unique products for Canadian home buyers to choose from.

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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.

    Scotiabank mortgage key features
    Scotiabank mortgage types
    • 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.

    Pros

    • 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.

    Cons

    • 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?

    A Scotiabank mortgage may be best suited for borrowers looking for a fully digital mortgage experience who also appreciate the option of getting personalized advice when needed. 

    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

    Mortgage variety

    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:

    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. 

    Rate types

    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.

    Mortgage fees

    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 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:

    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.

    TangerineRBC MortgageRocket Mortgage
    Lender typeOnline-only bankBig Bank lenderMortgage broker
    Service areaNationalNationalNational
    In-person service?NoYesNo
    Ease of applicationEasy (online)Easy (online, phone, in-person)Easy (online)
    Mortgage varietyAverageAverageAbove average

    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:

    How Scotiabank calculates your mortgage payment

    Like most lenders, Scotiabank will consider the following when calculating your monthly mortgage payment:

    Example:


    Frequently asked questions about Scotiabank mortgages

    What are the current mortgage rates at Scotiabank?

    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.

    How long does Scotiabank take to approve a mortgage?

    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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