Navigating the real estate world can be tricky. The timing doesn't always line up. You might find the perfect new home, but what if you haven't sold your current one? This mismatch is a common challenge, especially for seniors aiming to downsize. So, what can you do if you're eager to buy but your old house hasn't sold? Enter bridge financing. This tool "bridges" the gap, allowing you to to move forward and buy your next home without having to wait to sell your current home.

In this article, we'll dive into how bridge financing can simplify the downsizing transition for seniors in the housing market.

Key Takeaways

  • Bridge financing provides a solution for buying a new home before selling the old one.
  • Costs associated with bridge loans include interest rates and administrative fees.
  • Qualifying for a bridge loan requires specific documentation.
  • Reverse mortgages offer an alternative for tapping into home equity.
  • Expert guidance, like that from RetireBetter, can simplify the process.

Downsizing for Seniors

Many seniors look to downsize for a simpler lifestyle. Maybe it's a smaller home with less maintenance, or perhaps it's about being closer to family. Whatever the reason, downsizing is a big step, and the financial side can be daunting. 

That's where bridge financing can help. It's a solution tailored to ensure that the transition from a larger home to a smaller one is smooth, even if the sale of the old home takes time.

Learn More: The Pros & Cons of Downsizing

Understanding Bridge Financing

So, what is bridge financing? Bridge financing is a short-term loan that helps you buy your new home before selling the old one. It uses the equity of your current home to help with the purchase of the new one, ensuring you don't miss out on a good opportunity. It's like having a safety net, ensuring that even if there are delays in selling your old home, your plans to move into a new one aren't derailed.

How Bridge Loans Work

Here's an example to make bridge financing easier to understand:

Let's say a senior wants to move from a spacious family home worth $600,000 to a cozy condo priced at $300,000. They want the condo now, but the family home hasn't sold. If there's still a $200,000 mortgage on the family home, that means they have $400,000 in equity. A bridge loan can cover the $300,000 for the condo, allowing them to buy it right away. Once the family home sells, they can pay off the bridge loan. By using this concept of a bridge loan, seniors can transition seamlessly into their new home, without the stress of waiting for their old home to sell.

Documents Required for Bridge Financing

Securing a bridge loan isn't just about equity and financial health. Lenders require specific documentation:

  • Proof of the sale agreement of the current home.
  • Purchase agreement of the new property.
  • Recent mortgage statements.
  • Proof of home insurance.
  • A statement of assets and liabilities.
  • Credit history and score.

While this may seem unnecessary for a short-term loan, all banks still need to do their due diligence before approving your bridging loan. Effectively the banks will want to see that you would be able to qualify for the loan if the sale were never to happen.

What Are the Costs of Bridge Financing?

As you can imagine, bridging loans in Canada aren't free. Bridge financing usually comes with interest rates similar to a personal line of credit, often Prime + 2-3%. Plus, lenders will usually charge one-time administrative fees. Expect administrative costs between $300-$500, and sometimes legal fees. 

And remember, if you don't have a firm sale date for your old home, you might need a pricier lender because the major lenders typically will only provide a bridge loan when there is a firm selling date of your home. It's essential to factor in these costs when considering bridge financing.

Bridge Financing vs Home Equity Lines of Credit

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) may be worth considering for a short-term loan option instead of getting bridge financing.

The main issue with using a HELOC instead of a bridge loan will be getting approved for a large enough HELOC—remember, you will need to have sufficient income and a good credit score to qualify for a large HELOC.

The other issue with using a HELOC is that monthly payments will be necessary, whereas they will not be required for a bridge loan.  This extra monthly payment responsibility for a HELOC can be difficult for many people.

Challenges for Seniors

Bridge financing sounds great, but it's not always easy for seniors. Why? Well, many lenders will require for you to have a reasonable income to qualify for the bridge loan, even if you’re planning on paying off the loan with the sale of your home. This income qualifying requirement can be tough for those retired homeowners on a pension. Plus, the costs can add up, especially if you go with a more expensive lender. It's crucial to weigh the pros and cons and consider if it's the right fit for your situation.

Reverse Mortgages: Another Option

There's another tool for seniors: reverse mortgages loans. Reverse mortgages in Canada are loans specially designed for homeowners over the age of 55.  

Here are the key points of how reverse mortgages work:

  • All homeowners must be over 55 years
  • No monthly mortgage payments are required
  • You can receive the funds lump sum or in installments
  • Loan is based on your age and your principal residence value, not income or credit

The CHIP Open Reverse Mortgage offered by HomeEquity Bank is a special reverse mortgage that is designed specifically for seniors who are looking to downsize.  

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The CHIP Open Reverse Mortgage can be paid off in six months without penalties and allows retired homeowners to borrow up to 55% of the value of their existing home. 

The funds from a CHIP Open Reverse Mortgage can be used for any purpose, including renovations of the current home to get it ready for sale, or closing costs on the new home.

Learn More: How Reverse Mortgages Work in Canada

Bridge Financing vs. Reverse Mortgages

Both options have their perks. Bridge loans are quick fixes and are great for immediate moves where there is a firm sale date. Bridge loans can become dependent on your credit, your income and your documents being satisfactory.  They may not be renewable beyond 120 days.

Reverse mortgages, especially short-term ones, may be more flexible than traditional bridge loans: they do not require any purchase and sale documents, plus they are not dependent on your credit or your income and can be easily renewed beyond 180 days.

Learn More: How to Downsize with a Reverse Mortgage

How Mortgage Brokers Can Help

Feeling overwhelmed? 

Mortgage brokers, especially ones who specialize in reverse mortgages like RetireBetter, can guide you. They simplify things, ensuring you get the best rates and solutions tailored for you. With their expertise, the complexities of bridge financing and reverse mortgages become easier to navigate.

Wrapping Up

The world of real estate, with its bridge financing and reverse mortgages, might seem complex. But with the right tools and guidance, seniors can navigate it with ease, making downsizing a breeze. 

Whether it's understanding the costs involved or choosing between bridge financing and a reverse mortgage, being informed is key.


1. How does bridge financing help with downsizing?

It lets you buy your new, downsized home before selling your old one, using the equity from your current home.

2. Are there other options besides bridge financing?

Yes! Reverse mortgages, especially short-term ones, are another way to tap into your home's equity. Home Equity Lines of Credit can also be considered.

3. Which lenders offer reverse mortgages in Canada?

HomeEquity Bank and Equitable Bank are the only two major banks that offer reverse mortgages in Canada.  

RetireBetter is a preferred partner with both of these lenders and also has access to other smaller regional lenders that offer loans similar to reverse mortgages.