TORONTO – In a surprise set of findings from a Canadian Homeowner’s Association survey, almost all of the nation’s population that owns their own home is completely unaware what a mortgage is, despite having one.
“It’s like a fancy word for a promise,” says Kathy Sinclair, 23, who purchased her semi-detached three bedroom one month ago, “You know? The bank gives you money and then you mortgage them that they’ll get it back later and then they have to agree.”
Analysts who ran the survey have described the situation as confusing and “sad, so very sad”. When provided with examples of other simple financial instruments like RRSPs, tax-free savings accounts, or even stocks, most respondents simply shrugged and explained that those were things old people had.
“Of course I know what a mortgage is!” wrote Kyle Tisdale, 29, the bachelor owner of a two-bedroom townhouse, “where do you think I park my car every day?!”
Further explanations by survey participants of what mortgages are ranged among the following:
- “It’s the name of the man at the bank that gave me the money”
- “A mortgage on your home is like a roof. It’s just a technical word for the roof of your house”
- “It’s sort of a title you are allowed to put in front of your name once you own a house. As in my new name is Mortgage Jim Montgomery.”
- “I don’t think anyone really knows what a mortgage is. Just like God.”
- “A mortgage is just the French word for ‘house’. We have to use that because we live in Canada”
Attempts to explain to people the fairly basic concept has unfortunately been met with frustration. A recent project at CIBC where mortgage advisors were instructed to use hand puppets and small, friendly words to ensure people understood the potential consequences of defaulting on their mortgage caused confused anger and table-flipping at branches across Ontario. Three page pamphlet mailers about mortgages led to twelve arsons and at least three deaths.
“People are just really, really resistant to learning about the largest purchase of their lives for some reason. I think low interest rates means people just see it as free money,” said Beth Vanderhoff, the survey leader, “and that’s exactly what it is. Free money. A mortgage is simply free money! I don’t know why people just don’t get that.”