A mortgage investment corporation or MIC is an investment and lending company designed specifically for mortgage lending (primarily residential mortgage lending) in Canada. Owning shares in a mortgage investment corporation enables you to invest in a company which manages a diversified and secured pool of mortgages. Shares of a MIC are qualified investments under the Income Tax Act (Canada) for RDSPs, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs, or RESPs. Mortgage investment corporations are generally provincially registered and licensed, with the management of the mortgage fund under the direction of provincially licensed mortgage brokers and real estate agents.
A MIC mortgage portfolio can include everything from small second mortgages on residential property to commercial and development mortgages on new projects. Every investment is typically based on a thorough investigation of the property. A typical MIC loan (ideally) should never exceed a specified percentage (typically from 60% to 85%) of the current value of the property. Compare this to a conventional bank’s willingness to routinely loan 80% of the value of the property and sometimes even 100%. MIC’s investment strategies vary considerably, as do their rates of return on invested capital. Recent MIC’s have generated returns between 6% and 12% for investors, however, returns vary based not only on the investment strategy of the specific MIC but also on the nature of the investment share itself. Some MIC shares are designed to be held for a period as short as a year, and other MIC shares require the investor to hold them for a longer period, up to 10 years in some cases. Yields typically increase when the hold periods are longer, and are lower for shares that are immediately liquid after a short hold period such as one year.
MIC’s are organized for investing in pools of mortgages. Profits generated by MICs are distributed to its shareholders according to their proportional interest. The mortgages are secured on real property, often in conjunction with other forms of security, such as personal and corporate guarantees, general security agreements and assignments of material contracts, such as insurance policies, prepared by lawyers for the MIC.