Purchasing a property can oftentimes be an intimidating and overwhelming process to navigate – especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. With so many factors to consider, feeling comfortable when making this leap is no easy feat! The fact of the matter is, buying a home will be the biggest purchase of your life, in so many aspects.
Perhaps one of the most important steps in the homebuying process is to first find a financial institution that you can trust to guide you through the transaction. For the majority of Canadians, that decision always seems to boil down to one of the big five banks. However, did you know that credit unions are another equally viable option available for mortgage lending and financial planning?
So – What are credit unions?
Credit unions – mostly – are provincially regulated financial institutions that offer the same products and services as banks. The key differentiator is that at a credit union, you’re not just a customer, you’re a member-owner. As a member, you have democratic say in how your credit union operates, and your financial needs are always placed first. At a bank, profits always benefit the shareholders, whereas, at a credit union, profits benefit you, the member. In 2020, Canada’s credit unions gave back an estimated 4.3% of their pre-tax profits to community donations and sponsorships, and $191.2 million to their members through dividends and patronage.
How can credit unions help?
Choosing to bank with a financial institution that will prioritize your needs is especially important when it comes to homeownership. Credit unions understand the challenges associated with buying a home and always work to protect the financial interest and future of their members. All deposits (registered and non-registered) are well-insured by robust deposit insurance protection frameworks, and in some cases, protection is even higher than the banks.
Impressively, Canada’s credit unions recorded the lowest rate of mortgages in arrears in 2021 at 0.13%.
Credit unions and caissespopulaires are among the largest lenders to homeowners, accounting for a total of 17.2% of mortgages across the country, yet many Canadians are still unaware they exist as an option. In 2020, credit unions provided $131 billion in residential mortgages to members across the country, helping millions of Canadians in all regions achieve their financial goals. And when the COVID-19 crisis first escalated last spring, credit unions never ceased to support their member base. They quickly offered various financial relief measures to help offset the new challenges brought on by the pandemic. During the peak of the crisis, credit unions provided over 80,000 mortgage deferrals and reduced or eliminated interest rates on credit cards and other loans to help lessen the burden of unexpected financial stresses.
Canada’s credit unions work for the best interest of their members. When purchasing your first home, consider going to a local credit union, where you own your financial goals, not the other way around.