IntelliMortgage Review - Is a DIY Mortgage Right for You?

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Our Intellimortgage review will give you a heads up on what this service is all about.

If the HGTV-driven acronym DIY can apply to building a deck or renovating your kitchen, IntelliMortgage’s Rob McLister and Deon Yu believe that surely the same principles can be applied to setting up your own mortgage.

A DIY mortgage is essentially a strategy for choosing the best mortgage for your specific situation from amongst the huge number of choices that Canadian lenders offer. If this sounds like a daunting task, the good news is that McLister and Yu provide the tools to make it a lot easier.

The two co-founders of IntelliMortgage have been in the mortgage field in some form or fashion for several years. You might recognize Rob’s name as someone who occasionally writes on mortgage-related issues for The Globe and Mail, as well as the owner of my favorite place to go for Canadian mortgage-related content: In other words – these guys know their stuff.

Benefits of a DIY Mortgage

When it comes time to inquire about a new mortgage or the end of a mortgage term is approaching, most people simply go to their local bank or the bank they currently have their mortgage with and ask them what their new rate will be before signing on the dotted line. It’s amazing to think that while most people will put in hours and hours scouring car lots for their next vehicle, and then hours more negotiating with a car salesman, they’ll simply sign the first mortgage offer that is put in front of them. I’m not sure whether this phenomenon is due to our collective reluctance to engage with material we don’t know very well (mortgage terms and concepts) or whether we are just oblivious to how much money can be saved over the length of a mortgage just by doing a few minutes of research.

Related: Mortgage Broker vs Bank Mortgage Specialist?

While most homeowners remain unaware of all the great mortgage tools available online, many have begun to comparison shop by quickly looking up the rates of their competitors using search engines or rate comparison sites. This is a great first step when it comes to familiarizing yourself with the mortgage industry and some of the options that are available; however, McLister and Yu have taken the concept of mortgage comparison to a whole new level.

How Much Can You Save With IntelliMortgage?

The concept behind IntelliMortgage and its Mortgage Builder tool is relatively straightforward. You determine what the best mortgage option is for you and then simply input the specifics of this option into the easy-to-use online form. The Builder then searches over 50 of Canada’s leading lenders to find the best deal for you. Because IntelliMortgage cuts referral rates to the absolute bone (as opposed to the commissions received by many mortgage brokers) they are confident there is no better way to look for a mortgage option within Canada.

“Depending on the term, IntelliMortgage marks down its rates at least 10-20 basis points. That’s versus discretionary bank rates and standard broker rates, both of which already reflect savings off of advertised rates. Our average mortgage size is currently $362,700. So, mathematically, we estimate our customers save about $1,700 to $3,400 over five years, compared to the typical borrower,” says McLister.

Not bad for less than an hour of your time.

Is a DIY Mortgage Right for Me?

According to McLister:

“While not mandatory, a DIY mortgage shopper should ideally have gone through the mortgage process before. That way he/she knows what to expect and what questions to ask. There’s less advice with a DIY mortgage so it’s geared primarily to well-qualified borrowers who enjoy self-guided online research. We find a large number of our clients have self-directed investing accounts as well. They tend to be independent educated consumers who feel confident in their abilities to weigh financial variables. Of course, folks occasionally do have questions that they can’t answer on their own, so we’re always there to support DIY’ers via live chat, phone or email.”

Long story short, it helps if you know a few of the basics around the whole idea of what a mortgage is, but it’s not absolutely essential. If you’d be willing to learn how to change your own oil in order to save $20, why not learn about DIY mortgages and save thousands?

If you’ve never really thought much about mortgages beyond their connection to owning a home, IntelliMortgage can help with that as well. McLister states that,

“Our interface is also built to educate consumers on what matters with a mortgage. For example, the Mortgage Builder teaches you what a readvanceable mortgage is, why discounted penalties are important, and why extra time to port matters. These are features that can have a significant economic impact, depending on your scenario. But they’re features that folks might not consider, had we not highlighted them during the mortgage building process.”

Related: How To Port A Mortgage

If you want a mortgage that cuts your interest rate to the bare minimum and ensures your mortgage has all the features you want – and none that you don’t – while ultimately keeping more of your money in your pocket, then it’s certainly worth the time to take a look at IntelliMortgage and their Mortgage Builder.


Kyle is a high school humanities teacher by day, and freelance personal finance author by night. He has been published in academic journals, and has also co-authored the book "More Money for Beer and Textbooks". In his free time Kyle likes to limp up and down a basketball court and pretend to be a tough guy in a boxing ring.

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