Have you been working with real estate deals financed using syndicated mortgages? If so, it may be time to re-evaluate.

Syndicated mortgages are investments where a developer finds several private lenders to invest money in a property, instead of getting a loan through a bank.

Syndicated mortgages have been linked to mortgage fraud, including more than 120 people in the Greater Toronto Area who allegedly lost millions during a syndicated mortgage deal in 2017, as reported by the CBC.

In February of 2018, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) issued $1.1 million in fines as part of a settlement with four mortgage brokerage companies involved with syndicated mortgages tied to real estate projects for Fortress Real Developments Inc. and revoked five broker licenses.

The Government of Ontario has created new regulations to hopefully minimize these types of occurrences. As of July 1, 2018, provincial regulatory changes to syndicated mortgage transactions in Ontario are in effect under the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders, and Administrators Act. Under the new rules, non-qualified syndicated mortgages will have to comply with expanded requirements.

What is a qualified syndicated mortgage?

Let’s first look at what counts as a qualified syndicated mortgage:

  • Negotiated or arranged through a mortgage brokerage.
  • Secures a debt obligation on a property that is used primarily for residential purposes, includes no more than a total of four units, and (if used for both commercial and residential purposes) includes no more than one unit that is used for commercial purposes.
  • At the time the syndicated mortgage is arranged, the amount of debt it secures, together with all other debt secured by mortgages on the property that have priority over, or the same priority as, the syndicated mortgage, does not exceed 90% of the fair market value of the property relating to the mortgage, excluding any value that may be attributed to proposed or pending development of the property.
  • Limited to one debt obligation whose term is the same as the term of the syndicated mortgage.
  • The rate of interest payable under it is equal to the rate of interest payable under the debt obligation.

A syndicated mortgage that secures a debt obligation incurred for the construction or development of property is not qualified.

What’s changing?

As of July 1, 2018, mortgage brokerages dealing with non-qualified syndicated mortgages (anything not complying with the list above) will be required to:

  • Collect and document specific information related to a potential investor’s or lender’s financial circumstances, needs, objectives, risk tolerance, and level of financial and investment experience using a new FSCO form.
  • Undertake and document a suitability assessment, using specific criteria, for each potential investor or lender using a new FSCO form.
  • Collect and document expanded disclosure information using a new FSCO form. This includes information regarding the property appraisal and, in the case where the borrower is not an individual, the borrower’s financial statements.
  • Observe a $60,000 limit on non-qualified syndicated mortgage investments over a 12-month period for investors or lenders who are not part of a ‘designated’ class of investors and lenders. The regulation defines the designated classes of investors and lenders as those that have already met higher income and asset tests.
  • Report written complaints received by the brokerage related to non-qualified syndicated mortgages to FSCO’s Superintendent of Financial Services within 10 business days of receiving the complaint.

What real estate sales professionals can do

If you are aware of a deal being financed with a syndicated mortgage, do your due diligence. Make sure that it’s compliant with the above regulations.

You can also independently verify the property value. For example, our GeoWarehouse tools make it easy to validate that information and more.

View the full text of the new FSCO regulations here: https://www.fsco.gov.on.ca/en/mortgage/Pages/smi-amendments.aspx

With the FSCO cracking down on syndicated mortgages, it’s more important than ever to exercise due diligence. GeoWarehouse can help.

Learn more about how our tools can help detect mortgage fraud. Visit www.geowarehouse.ca.

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