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When "Green" is not "Green"

Mike De Sousa

I feel a bit like a band wagon jumper writing about the "green revolution" that we have heard so much about over the past few years but understand little about what's really going on with our environment.  One major observation that I have had is that "Green" is big business!

From my order of organic fair trade coffee in the morning, to my home baked organic bread, I must admit that I try and go green whenever I can.  But what for?  I have come to the realization that I try and be "green" just because I can.  I mean, why choose to pollute when I can prevent my immediate surroundings from being polluted?  Why eat chemically altered food, when I have the choice to do otherwise?  Why waste money in my business by throwing out scrap paper when I have the choice to write on the other side of the scrap?  The point that I am trying to illustrate is that I choose to be "green" because it's what I "want" to do, not because I expect profits from my customers by being this way.

Where exactly am I going with this?  Hang in there.

I own a mortgage brokerage and financial coaching business.  We help clients sort through all of the mental "garbage" & obstacles banks will put clients through, get better mortgage deals and options, and try our very best to provide an exceptional level of customer service that our competitors cannot achieve.  I tend to really notice all of the "little things that make a BIG difference" when it comes to being a better business each day.  I also notice what the banks and other mortgage brokers advertise out to the marketplace.

One of these offerings is TD Canada Trust's offer of The Green Mortgage which gives the customer back 1% of their mortgage amount if they spend money on Energy Star products during the first 6 months of getting their mortgage. The rate the client will get on the mortgage will be "up to 1% off the posted rates". TD will also donate to their Friends of the Environment fund a whopping $100! I was first very intrigued in this offering and thought about educating myself about this really cool offering from TD Canada Trust.

When "green" is not "green"

The discount offered on this type of mortgage is 1% off their posted rates.  At the time of this writing, that would be 5.25% (posted is at 6.25% for a 5 year fixed rate) for a "Green Mortgage".  However, at the wholesale level, I can provide my customers a TD Canada Trust mortgage priced at 4.79% for a "non-Green mortgage".

Here are the facts:  On a $200,000 mortgage, the Green Mortgage will cost $49,213 in interest based on a 25 year amortization with monthly payments.

On the Non-Green Mortgage, the interest cost drops to $44,790 over those same 5 years.  That's a $4423 DIFFERENCE!  It would COST THE CUSTOMER and extra $4423 to be "green".  However, TD Canada Trust offers "up to" 1% back for being "green".  Well on $200,000, that's "up to" $2000.

Let's do some math:  $4423 - $2000 = $2423 in extra interest costs to YOU for being "green"...hmmm...oh yeah, but TD is donating $100 to the Friends of the Environment Fund or are YOU indirectly providing the donation based on the extra $2423 in profit TD just made because you chose to be "green"?

The only "green" I can summize in this "green" mortgage scenario is the "green" we find in money!  This is an example of big business exploiting the pure intentions of the customer who just wants to do their part in helping the environment.  This is also a lesson to the consumer that just because a company claims to be "green" does not mean that it is good for you!  Those President's Choice chocolate chip cookies are organic, but should you eat the whole box?

Thanks for reading!

Mike De Sousa and Mindy Small

Your London, Ontario Mortgage Brokers at Dominion Lending Centres Forest City Funding FSCO# 10671