Shaoteng Li is a Senior Economist in the Financial Stability Department at the Bank of Canada. He is an applied microeconomist with research interests in industrial organization, household finance, and banking. Shaoteng Li received his Ph.D. in economics from Queen’s University.
This paper looks at the role mortgage brokers play in helping borrowers generate quotes and qualify for credit. We find that, on average, borrowers that engage with a mortgage broker pay lower interest rates. However, in about 15% of cases, borrowers are steered towards longer amortizing mortgages than they would have chosen absent a broker. Since mortgages with longer amortization have higher total interest costs over the entire life of the mortgage, this steering is expensive.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian financial institutions offered debt-relief programs to help borrowers cope with job losses and economic insecurity. We consider the low take-up rates for these programs and suggest that to be effective, such programs must be visible and easy to use.
Repeated interactions between borrowers and lenders create the possibility of dynamic pricing: lenders compete aggressively with low prices to attract new borrowers and then raise their prices once borrowers have made a commitment. We find such pricing patterns in the Canadian mortgage market.