Lot owners stranded by snapped up Yukon Housing mortgages

In just 30 days, home buyers snapped up a year's worth of Yukon Housing mortgages -- leaving some financially strapped lot owners in the lurch.

In just 30 days, home buyers snapped up a year’s worth of Yukon Housing mortgages—leaving some financially strapped lot owners in the lurch.

Marco Marjanovic and wife Meaghan couldn’t get bank financing, but purchased their Whitehorse Copper lot after receiving assurances Yukon Housing would cover their mortgage in the spring.

“Now we’re stuck with a lot—and no financing,” said Marjanovic.

Geoff Sicotte and several friends entered the lottery for Whitehorse Copper lots knowing they probably wouldn’t be able to afford a bank-financed mortgage.

“But Yukon Housing said, ‘Oh, no worries, you just come to us in the spring and you can get a mortgage with us and everything will be OK,” said Sicotte.

Yukon Housing has a yearly budget of $6 million to provide people who can’t get bank financing with up to a $360,000 mortgage. Applicants still require a good credit history and steady income.

“I don’t want to say that the programs are cancelled, per se, but the home-ownership programs are now fully committed,” said Ron MacMillan, president of Yukon Housing.

A program to provide financing to builders of green homes has also run dry.

In early November, Yukon Housing was forced to turn away applicants after its 2008 budget was exhausted.

Mortgage hopefuls were told to wait until April 1, when they would have a shot at the next budget cycle.

“We will honour all applications to date, and there will be more to come in the new fiscal year,” said Premier Dennis Fentie on November 5.

“The spring comes around, and everybody’s trying to get mortgages from them and they kept saying, ‘Just wait ‘til April, just wait ‘til April,” said Sicotte.

Claiming they were being “led on” by Yukon Housing, both applicants saw their 60-day grace periods expire.

“We were waiting on Yukon Housing, and they kept pushing the dates back, pushing the dates back,” said Marjanovic.

Only a few weeks later, both applicants were told that, due to popularity, mortgage funding had run dry.

“(Lot buyers) were told, ‘Come in after the budget is tabled. We’ll have more money and we can get you on your way to building your new home,’” said Liberal MLA Gary McRobb in the legislature on Monday.

“Instead, they were informed last week these programs are not available.”

“The money has been there,” said Jim Kenyon, the minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corp. “The budget is tapped out. We have more money available in the future that will come up as we move along, but at the moment the program is tapped out.”

No promises or reassurances were made to individual property owners, said MacMillan.

“If individual owners have issues to discuss with the housing corporation, we will certainly discuss it with them,” he said.

As a stop-gap solution, Marjanovic and his wife plan to throw up a 650-square-foot dwelling on their Whitehorse Copper lot; the minimum size for a country residential lot.

“We’re going to live in it for three years, and during that time pay off our land,” said Marjanovic.

With clear title to the land, the couple expects to have a better time at the bank.

Sicotte hopes to explain the situation to the territorial government’s lands branch—which sold him the lot—and relinquish his land without a financial penalty.

Sicotte has $20,000 committed to the lot as a downpayment.

“Luckily I haven’t done much work on (my lot), other people have put $20,000 into starting their driveways expecting to get this mortgage in the spring,” he said.

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com