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HSBC Bank Canada is Canada’s seventh-largest bank. It’s been serving clients across the country for 40 years.
As of December 2020, HSBC Canada had more than $117 billion in assets under management and more than 130 branches in operation.
In the mortgage space, the bank continues to make gains on its other big-bank competitors. It is easily the most overtly aggressive bank when it comes to mortgage pricing, and it has been for the past four years.
In recent years, HSBC has made a name for itself as a spirited competitor to the established Big 6 banks.
In December 2020, for example, HSBC became the first Canadian bank in history to offer a mortgage rate under 1.00%. That rate—0.99% for a high-ratio insured 5-year variable mortgage—was still in effect as of early April 2021.
It also set record lows with its 5-year fixed rates, including rates for high-ratio and uninsured purchases, and refinances.
HSBC began its market-leading strategy in mid-2017. Since then, its online-focused client-acquisition strategy has led to considerable growth in the bank’s mortgage book, a spokesperson confirmed.
Similar to the Big 6 banks, HSBC Canada offers a variety of mortgage rate products. These include posted rates, special rate offers and discretionary rates.
As mentioned above, HSBC’s headline-grabbing special rate offers have often blown its competition out of the water.
But aside from those limited-time rate deals, the rest of the bank’s posted rates reflect standard everyday low pricing. In fact, its advertised rates are often the lowest in the country for any Canadian bank.
But if you’re ultra well-qualified, don’t let that stop you from asking for a better rate. Like most large banks, the best rates are sometimes not advertised publicly. They’re only available to top-quality borrowers who aren’t afraid to haggle for a good deal. These are known as discretionary rates. Requesting “discretionary pricing” can sometimes (not always) help you secure lower interest costs.
But luckily for average borrowers and those not trained in the art of negotiation, HSBC typically puts its best foot forward by advertising its lowest mortgage rates on its website.
HSBC Canada has a standard offering of mortgage products, not too different from those available from the country’s large banks.
It features fixed, variable and hybrid mortgage products, which come with a flexible 120-day rate hold as well as 20% lump sum and 20% payment increase prepayment features.
One thing we love about its variable products are that they’re fully open after just 36 months. That means you can break the mortgage without a 3-months’ interest charge anytime in year four or five. Only one other lender in Canada has this flexibility that we’re aware of.
Most HSBC mortgage rates are advertised based on a 25-year amortization, although a 30-year amortization is often available at a rate approximately 10 basis points higher.
Its mortgage products are available in most provinces across the country.
If you move, HSBC gives you 60 days to port your mortgage to a new home without penalty.
One of the main knocks against HSBC mortgages is the potential costly interest rate differential (IRD) penalty on fixed-rate mortgages. We won’t bore you with the math, but suffice it to say HSBC’s fixed-rate mortgage penalties can be 2-3 times larger than some competitors depending on rates at the time you break the mortgage.
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be a useful tool for borrowers who need quick access to a large sum of cash, secured against the equity in their home.
Common uses for HELOCs include consolidating higher-interest debt, financing a home renovation, investment purposes or simply as an easily accessible emergency fund.
With HSBC’s Home Equity Line of Credit (“Equity Power Mortgage”), borrowers can access up to 80% of the value of their home. Up to 65% can be through a revolving line of credit, and on this 65% portion:
Unfortunately, unlike big banks like RBC, TD and Scotiabank, HSBC’s Equity Power Mortgage (HELOC) is not auto-readvancing. That means the line of credit limit does not automatically increase as you make principal payments on the mortgage portion. For this powerful feature, you must go elsewhere.
If you’re interested in getting a mortgage from HSBC, there are several ways to start the process.
Mortgage shoppers can contact HSBC online and either start a pre-approval process, speak to a live agent or book an appointment.
For those who want to visit a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll have to first use the HSBC’s branch locator to see if there’s one in your area. HSBC’s branches are mainly limited to large and medium-sized cities.
After reaching out to the bank, you will be put in touch with a bank advisor who will assist with your application.
Most mortgage shoppers working with a mortgage broker cannot access HSBC’s mortgage products since the bank deals with only a small number of brokers at the time this is being written. However, in 2021 HSBC may start selling mortgages through many more brokers, we hear.
Unlike other mortgage lenders that charge higher mortgage rates for a pre-approval, HSBC offers them at a low cost with no fees or obligation. This allows mortgage shoppers to know how much they qualify for before committing to a formal mortgage application.
For more on pre-approval costs, see:Why Are Mortgage Pre-Approval Rates Rarely the Lowest Rates?
You can find a variety of helpful mortgage calculators on the bank’s website to aid your mortgage research.
HSBC’s mortgage calculators can help you:
HSBC's mortgage calculators are available here.
Like all financial institutions in Canada, HSBC maintains its own prime lending rate, upon which its variable and floating rates are calculated.
While HSBC’s prime rate generally moves in lock-step with those of the Big 6 banks, its prime rate is not included in the formula that sets the national prime rate.
Click here to see Canada’s current prime rate.