Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

Mortgage stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from the onus of paying a mortgage, or instalments, that are higher than 30% of the total family income.

You can do the math and see if your mortgage consumes more than or let’s say one-third of your total family income. However, there are exemptions. High net worth individuals who aren’t really under any financial stress and whose two-third incomes would be a fortune don’t really fall into this classification. For others, the average families with ordinary homes, mortgage stress is a reality.

How do you know that you are experiencing mortgage stress?

The math alone would not be sufficient. It is very possible that despite paying more than 30% of your income towards your mortgage, you would be doing fine. It is also possible that paying 25% of your income towards your mortgage can get you severely stressed. What it boils down to eventually are the symptoms. What stresses you may not stress someone else.

Let us consider some realities.

Are you consistently thinking of the mortgage you pay? Are you perennially under duress that you have to pay the instalment? Are you compromising on a whole lot of things, perhaps including some humble purchases to continue paying your mortgage? If any of these realities are a part of your life, then you are experiencing mortgage stress.

The reason why 20% to 30% of income is considered the threshold while approving mortgages is the belief of experts over the decades that such an amount can be conveniently put aside and paid by an individual or family. What is not accounted for in such calculations are fluctuations, personal obligations or liabilities that emerge after evaluation the mortgage application when there may not be any debts or astounding financial dependence and many such possible circumstances that can squeeze every cent of the remaining income of an individual or family.

From medical problems to a growing family, professional troubles to untoward developments at home, there can be numerous factors contributing to mortgage stress. Homeowners should consider strategizing their finances to avert mortgage stress. Homebuyers should do the math properly before signing up for a mortgage which can lead to unnecessary and undesirable stress.

The mortgage industry is unlikely to work in favour of individual homebuyers or families that own homes. It is eventually upon every individual to make the right choices.


As always, we recommend speaking with your YFG lending specialist when determining the right amount for you to be spending on your mortgage – They are the experts after all!