What Will It Cost to End My Mortgage Early?

Scott Allan
March 23, 2016

I get asked all the time by clients, agents, referral partners and even other mortgage brokers: how much does it cost to end a mortgage term early? The typical question is, “We have signed up for a five-year term and need/want to sell; how much will it cost to get out of it?”

More than half of all mortgages in Canada are closed early, with some stats showing that number approaching 70 per cent. People move, jobs change, owners cash out; life happens. “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is…” The 2015 Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investment (OSBI) Annual Report ranked mortgage prepayments penalties as the second most contentious banking issue in Canada, right after fraud. So OSBI’s statistics show that people complain to them about criminals assuming their identities and draining their savings accounts only slightly more than the penalty that accompanies leaving their mortgage early? Eyebrow-raising stuff.

So, how much does it cost? Well the answer is… There is no definitive answer. Lenders charge what they call “prepayment penalties” in two different ways: a three-month interest penalty or an Interest Rate Differential (IRD) penalty.

1. Three-month interest penalty. They ding you for the amount of profit they would have made in 3 months off of your mortgage. It’s not a full three months of mortgage payments, only the interest portion, not the part that would have paid down your principal. You will not find this formula at any of the Big Five banks, but some “monoline” lenders, those whose only business is mortgages, attempt to differentiate themselves by offering this approach.

2. Three-month interest or Interest Rate Differential penalty, whichever is larger. This is the most common method used by both the Big Five banks and monoline lenders. They will use scenario #1 above when it suits them (that is, they make more money), or they will use an IRD penalty when it earns them more, which is often the case.

So how does each system work?

1. Three-month interest penalty. For $500,000 at 2.79 per cent fixed for five years, your mortgage payment would be $2,312 per month. Depending on which period you are in, as the proportion of interest to principal paid lowers as they outstanding amount lowers, will determine how much your penalty is. The first payment is $1,175 to the principal and $1,137 for interest so we will use it and multiply it by three = $3,411

2. Big Bank IRD penalty. We must break the IRD down further because of the way big banks calculate it versus monoline lenders. Both use, as the name indicates, a change in the interest rate to calculate their prepayment penalty, but the Big Banks add a further wrinkle to the equation. Have you ever noticed that the rate on their website is way, way higher than the industry best or even what they would end up giving you if you sat down with them? I will calculate below the prepayment penalty for a mortgage that is broken after two years on a five-year mortgage term at 2.79 per cent fixed.



Approved interest rate


Posted interest rate at approval


Total discount given at approval


Current posted 3-year interest rate


Remaining mortgage term

3 years


You take the amount of the mortgage outstanding, $500,000, and multiply it by the approved interest rate, 2.79 per cent minus the current posted three-year interest rate, 3.79 per cent minus the discount at approval1.95 per cent and multiply all that by the remaining mortgage term, which here is three years.

$500,000 X [2.79% – (3.79% - 1.95%)] X 3 = $14,250

3. Monoline IRD penalty. Similar to the Big Bank IRP, except that you don’t calculate any discount from some fictional “posted rate” that no one ever actually pays. I will calculate below the prepayment penalty for the same mortgage, also broken after two years on a five-year mortgage term at 2.79 per cent fixed.



Approved five-year interest rate


Current three-year interest rate


Difference in approved vs. current


Remaining mortgage term

Three years


You take the amount of the mortgage outstanding, $500,000, and multiply it by the difference in the approved rate vs. the current 3-year rate, .30%,then multiply by the remaining mortgage term, three years.

$500,000 X .30% (or .0030) X 3 = $4,500

The best-case scenario is that you need to sell and plan to buy a new home right away, your mortgage broker had the foresight to choose a portable mortgage product for you, one that can be transferred from property to property, and you can simply “port” the existing mortgage over to the new property. You’ll pay some lawyer fees to switch the title, some paperwork if the value of the new home is higher or lower and you’re done.

The worst-case scenario is that you want to sell and don’t plan on buying right away. That’s when one of the scenarios above comes into play. As you can see from the calculations above, the Big Bank IRD penalty is $14,250, the monoline IRD penalty is $4,500 and the three-month interest penalty would be around $3,411. Some hefty variances and something to keep in mind when selecting your next mortgage.

Scott Allan
Scott Allan has been a mortgage broker with Centum Pacific Mortgages since 2014, and began his career in mortgages in 2011. He previously worked at the Homeowner Protection Office at BC Housing and the BC Ministry of Finance’s Financial Institutions Commission.