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Mortgage rates going up a little.. for now. What should you do?

Happy 150th Canada!  Mortgage rates are going up.  Hooray!  Ok, yes, I’m being sarcastic.

This isn’t the cheery message you wanna hear if you have a mortgage coming up for renewal soon. But, hold on.  What does this really mean?  It’s a great attention grabber.  And now that you’re reading, let’s cut through the bull!

It’s true.  Wholesale fixed mortgage rates have gone up.. around 0.15%.  Yup, that’s it.  Yet, reading all the media headlines would make you believe mortgage rates went up 1.00% or something like that!!   This just isn’t the case.   And Variable rates haven’t changed as of yet.. Mind you, we could see an increase of 0.25% on July 12.. That’s still putting most Variable rate borrowers at 2.25% and 2.40%.. That’s a ridiculously low rate.

Here’s what’s happening…We’ve seen the media take little snippets of the Bank of Canada Governor, Mr. Stephen Poloz’s comments and turn them into front page headlines.  Great for headlines but short of full disclosure.  Here’s a more complete picture. Continue reading “Mortgage rates going up a little.. for now. What should you do?”

Will Variable rates increase as Bank Prime drops?

where to invest  Here’s a warning to all….   Watch out for the BANKS to increase their Variable rate mortgage pricing.  History tells us that when the Bank of Canada lowers their Target Rate, and the Bank Prime falls, Variable rate mortgage pricing increases.

If you have a mortgage coming due in the next 4 months, speak with a mortgage broker to get you a rate hold immediately!

Today, you can get Prime less 0.65% on a Variable rate mortgage.  That’s 2.85% – 0.60% = 2.20%. THIS PRICE COULD DISAPPEAR!  2.20% is a great rate!   No one would argue that.  The BANKS are counting on you to be content with that 2.20% rate. On March 4th, the Bank of Canada meets again to set the Target Rate.  And all indications point to another 0.25% reduction.   Continue reading “Will Variable rates increase as Bank Prime drops?”

Variable or Fixed? an update on how to choose.

Variable rate mortgage

FIXED OR VARIABLE?

The debate over fixed vs variable never seems to end.   For the past 5 years, the Federal govt and the BIG SIX BANKS have been doing everything in their power to force us into choosing a 5 year Fixed rate.    The govt says it gives us security and protection against the anticipated interest rate hikes.   BANKS jumped on this bandwagon because 5 yr fixed is the most profitable mortgage product.. and with fixed rates hovering at 3.00% for the last 3 years, it’s been an easy sell.

On the surface, it’s not bad advice.    Fixed rates were supposed to go up.   The spread between Fixed and Variable has been less than 1.00% over the last 3 years.     My rule of thumb is that Variable rates should be 1.00% lower than 5 yr fixed in order to benefit from the possible rate fluctuations.   So naturally, 5 yr fixed was a better choice.

DO YOU TRUST YOUR GOVT AND YOUR BANK? Continue reading “Variable or Fixed? an update on how to choose.”

Unexpected job loss report and effect on mortgage rates.

unemployment Last week’s Employment Stats shocked everyone when we didn’t see the expected 14,000 new jobs created as Economists were expecting.  Instead, we got hit with a reported 46,000 jobs lost in December.    Economists aren’t always accurate with their forecasts (news flash) but they usually aren’t this far off either. We won’t look at why they miscalculated here, but I do want to look at the effects of this bad news on your mortgage.

EFFECT ON FIXED MORTGAGE RATES

Higher unemployment and job loss is never a good thing.  We’re not celebrating here.   But we need to understand how it affects our mortgage rates.     When it comes to rates, bad economic news is good news.    And we saw the effects almost immediately.  Bond yields dropped by around 0.15% to 1.73%, taking the pressure off Lenders to raise rates (fixed mortgage rates are priced closely to Govt of Cda bond yields).   This means fixed mortgages won’t go up anytime soon and could even fall should the bond yields remain at this level. Continue reading “Unexpected job loss report and effect on mortgage rates.”

Choose short term money for long term gains.

short termOnly recently has 5 year fixed rate become a product worth considering when it comes to paying the least amount of interest on your mortgage.   Studies prove that short term mortgage funds are the cheapest way to finance a house.. this includes Variable rate mortgages.

Historically, Variable rate and short term fixed rates have had lower rates than long term rates.   And yet, the BIG SIX BANKS, the Federal govt, and several popular finance experts have preached 5 yr fixed.  ‘You must take 5 year fixed so you know what your rate is.’   That’s a load of nonsense.   It’s true, that over the past 2 years, 5 yr fixed did make more sense given that the spread between Variable and Fixed was less than my target of 1.00%.  (I like to see a 1.00% spread between Variable and 5 yr fixed before recommending Variable).    Continue reading “Choose short term money for long term gains.”

Time to look at Variable Rates again.

Variable rate mortgage

With fixed rates up around 0.60% over the last 4 weeks (currently at around 3.49%.. there are some lower rates but these come with conditions so we are using the more widely available rate) we must again take a look at Variable rates.   Today’s best Variable rate product is sitting at around Prime less 0.40% … there’s even a few promotional Variables at Prime less 0.50% for qualified applicants.   But for this article we will stick with Prime less 0.40%.  That’s 2.60% today.  We are almost at that 1.00% spread that I like to see.

Two years ago, the best Variable rate was at Prime less 0.75% with the option to lock into the BEST discounted fixed rate at any time (this option is important, don’t ever settle for a variable product that doesn’t have this clause).   And 5 years ago, we had Variable rate products as low at Prime less 0.90%. Continue reading “Time to look at Variable Rates again.”

BMO Economist forecast no rate hikes til 2013

More good news…. interest rates are not expected to increase til 2013, according to Bank of Montreal.

Really no surprise here.  The global economy is not doing well.  But here in Canada, the economy is performing relatively well.   The only reason our stock market and Canadian $ are down is because of the uncertainty of the European debt crisis.

5 year fixed rates are hovering at 3.39%… and they are even lower for qualified borrowers…. Variable rates are at around 2.60%…  We are in record low territory.

Did you know a $300,000 mortgage will carry for as little as $1199/month?   Hey, if you’re paying $1400/mth for rent, then why not consider buying place of your own…  And for those that want off the stock market roller coaster, a rental property may just be what you need…  Best thing is to talk to a Mortgage Broker, crunch the numbers and see how it looks.   It’s probably easier than you think.

Setting us up for fewer rate drops and higher bank profit margins..

It’s becoming clear that the Banks and govt want us to boost Bank profit margins…. Yes, it’s true!   They want you and I to pay a higher interest rate so that the Banks can earn a higher profit

Let’s look at some facts…

-The Banks recently got together and increased their Variable rate pricing from Prime less 0.75% to Prime less 0% (the Bank websites are showing their variable rates at Prime less 0% but there are still places you can get Prime less 0.40%).   So why is that?  They tell us ‘profitability concerns’ is the reason…

-The best 5 year fixed rate on the web from any of the Big Six Banks is 3.99%… Yet, the 5 year govt of Canada bond yields are at 1.43% today…that’s a spread of 2.56%... historically, that spread is between 1.10% to 1.50%… (by the way, you can still get a 5 year fixed rate at 3.39% from reputable lending institutions).   The Banks are making a fortune these days on Fixed Rate mortgages.

– OSFI (Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) has now come out and said that they are concerned consumers will borrower more than they should because interest rates are so low… and because of this, they are urging Banks not to loosen their lending criteria, especially on Home Equity Lines of Credit…

Read the warning signs

If you read between the lines, we are being warned that tighter lending rules could be just around the corner for Secured lines of credit… I don’t think the govt needs to make any further changes to mortgage lending…both secured lines of credit and mortgages…  We have seen several rules changes over the past few years….  But  the message we are being fed is that Banks need to charge a higher rate of interest because consumers cannot be trusted to borrow wisely…

The reality is that interest rates should actually be lower than where they are today.   Cost of funds are down… so why can’t we just let consumers pay fair market interest rates?  It’s one thing to be told that interest rates are going up because of market conditions and cost of funds… but when I start hearing that Bank Profit concerns and consumer spending habits are issues, then I have to start questioning the motives.   This just sounds like another excuse to raise rates and charge the average consumer more…..Consumers beware…!

Some good news

There was some good news… and that is that US interest rates are forecast to remain low into 2013…. Canada usually follow the US very closely….Hey, let’s enjoy the low interest rates…. a $300,000 mortgage will carry from between $1200/mth and $1325/mth…what’s wrong with that?  Enjoy Canada… Enjoy.

School’s in for Bank of Canada

To all the kids…. including my son…..”Have a great year at school.. make it fun… make it count”.

Tomorrow is the 6th of 8 scheduled meetings for 2010 by the Bank of Canada…a time when they set the Target Rate or Overnight Rate, which directly affects the Bank Prime Rate and your Variable Rate Mortgage.

The original plan called for Mark Carney, Governor of Bank of Canada, to raise interest rates steadily over the next year or so by as much as 3.00%… but it’s become a little tougher to make that move.

Less than impressive economic news in the U.S., Canada and the rest of the world has given concern about a double dip recession…. raising the rates during a period of uncertainty is risky business.   Right now, experts are calling for a 60% chance of a rate hike but then a pause to see how this will affect the economy.

Longer term forecasts have been amended for more modest rate hikes in 2011….  all good news for Borrowers…  stay tuned as we continue to monitor the latest reports…

Bottom line, new Variable rate mortgages can be had for around 2.05% to 2.10%… so even a 1.50% increase would  beat out a 5 year fixed rate….

When should I lock in my Variable rate mortgage?

A thought on the minds of many, with all the talk of ‘Historical low fixed mortgage rates’ and ‘rising Variable rates’.   “When should I lock in my Variable rate mortgage?”

Here’s a quick suggestion and rule that I follow… We only want to lock in our Variable rate mortgage when we think Variable rates will go way up and for an extended period of time…

But we must also look at what we can lock into… if you are in a 2.10% Variable rate mortgage, would you lock into a 3.89% fixed mortgage rate?   I’m not sure I would…. I think it will take a few years before my Variable rate mortgage approaches today’s Fixed rate…..  why pay more today when you don’t have to?

For me, I can’t see Variable rate mortgages underperforming Fixed Rates over the 12 to 17 years that it will take us to pay our mortgage off.  Having said that, we are always evaluating the Market Trends and will adjust our strategies when needed.  A mortgage is a huge debt and deserves a solid strategy to retire this debt with the lowest cost.

Ultimately, it will come down to risk tolerance, your personal budget and what you believe will be the better strategy.  Consult your Mortgage Broker to better understand the differences.

By the way, you might be interested in knowing that certain Banks and Trust companies have recently started to pay us more to offer fixed rate mortgages over Variable rate Mortgages…Good Mortgage Brokers don’t let the compensation dictate which product they recommend.  They recommend what they believe is right for the client.

3 year fixed mortgage rates under 3.00%

Fixed mortgage rates are sitting at around 3.89% for a 5 year closed and 2.90% for a 3 year closed.  These are definitely attractive rates and are at or near historical lows…

Why?  The Bond market has dropped significantly over the past 3 months…. this has come as a surprise to many but not all…  The economic recovery isn’t as certain as we once thought… with mixed data coming out about our economy, this uncertainty will cause interest rates to stay low…

Once trend that has caught our eye is that lenders are now offering Mortgage Brokers a higher commission to sell a 3 year and a 5 year fixed rate product… and although that may attract more busy from some, I’m still recommending the Variable Rate mortgage, even though we get paid less.. it’s always about doing what’s in our client’s best interest.

Variable rate has been a proven winner over the past 25 years… I don’t think our economy is as strong as some would think….There has been improvement but we have a long way to go before we can say we are out… Hence the lower fixed mortgage rates… Variable rates will increase but it will be a slow, steady climb… with current Variable rates at 2.10%, Variable has a long way to go before it is not cost-effective.

Here come the calls to lock into a Fixed Rate

Last week we saw the Bank of Canada raise the Key Rate by 0.25% and the Banks quickly raised Bank Prime lending rate to 2.75%.  For those in a Variable rate mortgage, the question of whether to lock into a fixed rate is coming up again.

No surprise, the media has started the fear mongering and the so-called ‘Experts’ are suggesting that it’s time to lock into fixed rates, once again….  This article came out today and I’m not surprised that these ‘Experts’ have quickly jumped on the band wagon with talk of ‘rates hikes’ and ‘higher housing costs’ to get their name in lights…  click here and judge for yourself.

The real question is ‘how much does the Bank of Canada need to raise the Key Rate to control inflation and economic growth?’   And earlier this year, we reported on Ben Tal’s, Senior Economist with CIBC, forecast that the Bank Prime only needs to increase by no more than 3.00%….and that this is the most it should increase… but it will take around 2 years or longer to get there… if they get there at all….   click here for the full report.

So why would anyone lock into a mortgage at over 4.00% today, when they could enjoy rates of just over 2.00% and slowly see their rates rise?   If you know that answer, please share with me…

We all have different needs and there isn’t a ‘one size fits all mortgage’…  seek professional, unbiased advice…get a strategy in place…. monitor the market and stay informed and you’ll always make the right decision.

Are you one of these people?

Was reading this survey about First Time Home Buyers that TD Canada Trust did recently...

Thought the most interesting stat was that 3/4 of the people surveyed were opting for a Fixed Rate mortgage.   And in the same paragraph, the TD rep acknowledged that Variable Rate mortgages performed better… Does any of this sound familiar?

Here’s some more good news.. well, actually it’s bad news for the Stock Market and investor confidence but it’s good news for interest rates… The 5 year Canada Bond has dropped significantly…  We were at 2.33% at one point today… meaning 5 year fixed mortgage rates should really be hovering around 3.80%… but instead we are seeing best rates at around 4.29%…   WHY?  Pure profit taking by the Banks…

But don’t fret…this uncertainty means there is less chance for rates to increase and less chance they will increase significantly…. And for those in a Variable rate, rates of 3.80% and 4.29% are still too high….  Variable rate mortgage clients are enjoying 2.00% or better…   Enjoy the summer!

Expecting a June 1st rate hike

It seems like a rate hike is almost certain for tomorrow’s Bank of Canada meeting.. but we need to put this in perspective… The Bank of Canada has not raised rates since July 2007… and Mr. Carney has never raised the Target rate since he took his place as Governor…. (he should be a popular person among Canadian borrowers).

But let’s put it in perspective…even if the Variable rate doubles to 4.50% from it’s current 2.25%, we would still be in historically low interest rate territory when it comes to variable mortgage rates…

A 25bps or 50bps or even a 100bps increase should only slow the housing market and not kill it….. Remember, these are EMERGENCY RATES…. The Emergency is over.. and we should want it be over…  We should be happy that we’ve been able to enjoy these record low rates for so long…..  the sky isn’t falling…  we won’t be seeing rates of 9% or 10% or anything near that level…

Bank of Canada doesn’t change rate…for now.

No surprise, the Bank of Canada did not raise their key rate today, keeping it at 0.25%.   This rate directly affects the Bank Prime rate which is 2.25%.   But as so many Economists have forecast, this appears to be the end of the record low Mortgage rates.

But it’s not that bad… we have enjoyed record low rates (almost free money, some would say) for well over a year.. and they are only starting to climb.. we’ll be enjoying low rates Variable rates for some time yet…

In it’s press release, the Bank of Canada stated “the need for such extraordinary policy is now passing, and it is appropriate to begin to lessen the degree of monetary stimulus. The extent and timing will depend on the outlook for economic activity and inflation, and will be consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target.”

The big question on everyone’s mind is how fast and by how much will rates increase… Here’s what to look for when it comes to what affects Variable rates:

  • Inflation (the target rate is 2% and we are currently at 1.6%…if this increases then the Bank of Canada will want to increase the Bank rate)
  • unemployment (currently sitting at 8.2% if we have higher than expected unemployment then this also puts pressure to keep the Bank rate low
  • Canadian $ in relation to the $U.S.  (today, the Canadian $ jumped over $1.016 and a high $ is bad for Exports and Manufacturing….the higher the Bank Rate, the higher $ will usually increase)

Fixed rates are more volatile as they are affected by the Bond Market… The Bond Market seems to have priced in a 50bps increase by the Bank of Canada as Bond Yields increased by 0.126% to 3.19% at the time this article was written.   The Banks have increased Mortgage Rates by 0.85% over the past 3 weeks and should hold until the Bond yields increase to above 3.40% or 3.50%….Historically, the Banks want to earn a spread of around 1.20% and 1.30%.

Have a Variable rate mortgage at Prime +? renegotiate now and save.

With new variable rate pricing of Prime MINUS 0.45% and 0.50% available, this is probably a great time to break that mortgage and save some money…

Variable rate mortgages have penalties capped at no greater than 3 months interest… if you have a mortgage of Prime 0.25% or above, then you can save $thousands….   Call your Mortgage Broker for an analysis…

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