Reducing Mortgage Loans: Why Variable Rates Won’t Wait for the Bank of Canada to Start Rising


Welcome to the latest edition of Mortgage Rundown, a quick look at the real estate finance landscape in Canada from a mortgage strategist Robert mclister.

Variable mortgage rates are so low it’s almost like lenders are bribing you to get one.

At 1.35% or less on uninsured mortgages, the nation’s lowest variable rates available are up to 127 basis points lower than five-year fixed rates. This is the widest fixed-variable divergence since 2011. (There are 100 basis points in a percentage point.)

Most don’t expect floating rates to rise until the next Bank of Canada rate hike, which financial markets are currently anticipating in March.

But the unprecedented discounts we’ve seen are already starting to decline. Some of Canada’s largest lenders, like the Royal Bank of Canada, for example, have reduced discounts by up to 15 basis points in recent weeks. This translates to about $ 2,000 in additional interest over five years on a typical $ 300,000 mortgage.

This is because it is becoming more and more expensive for lenders to finance a variable rate mortgage. Without getting into the weeds too much, when interest rate volatility increases – as it has – it becomes more expensive for banks to lend.

At the same time, yields on bankers’ acceptances, a very rough indicator of the core cost of financing a variable rate mortgage, have increased by about five basis points over the past eight weeks. This is normal when investors start to anticipate higher borrowing costs, and banks have now started to charge them at variable rates. Expect variable rate discounts to decline further before the first rate hike.

Like most other products, mortgages are determined by supply and demand. The unusual initial rate savings of today’s variables are a plump and juicy carrot for mortgages trying to keep their payments low. Some lenders are taking advantage of this demand to slightly improve their profit margins.


If you plan to get a new adjustable rate mortgage before April, don’t wait too long to lock in your discount to the prime rate. You can do this three to four months before the scheduled closing date, depending on the lender.

The rates on the default insured variables – which apply to homebuyers with a down payment of less than 20% – are an interesting exception: the prime rate discount for the lowest insured variable rate has actually increased in recent weeks. .

Online brokers in provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario are still offering insured variables at record rates as low as 0.87 percent. These insured rates use a different source of finance and these lenders have not yet had to raise their prices.

Keep in mind that most of the best insured deals offered by brokers are Variable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), not Variable Rate Mortgages (VRMs). Unlike VRMs, ARM payments increase when the prime rate increases. But it also ensures that you pay more principal with each payment, reducing your mortgage balance faster. With a variable, your payment is usually adjusted upward on renewal to ensure that the mortgage is paid off based on your original amortization.

Lowest mortgage rates announced nationwide

1 year fixed 2.44% RBC 1.99% The True North
2 years fixed 2.08% eHOME Scotia 1.99% Radius Financial
3 years fixed 2.18% eHOME Scotia 2.13% eHOME Scotia
4 years fixed 2.33% eHOME Scotia 2.28% eHOME Scotia
5 years fixed 2.54% Mandarin 2.24% Marathon
10 years fixed 3.30% National premiere 2.79% Nesto
variable over 5 years 1.34% Several 0.99% HSBC
HELOC 2.35% Mandarin N / A N / A

The rates shown in the table are from providers who lend in at least nine provinces and advertise the rates on their websites. Insured rates apply to those who buy with less than 20% down payment or to those who transfer a pre-existing insured mortgage to a new lender. Uninsured rates apply to refinances and purchases over $ 1 million and may include rate premiums applicable to lenders.

this and that

  • The bond market is now anticipating about seven 25 basis point rate hikes from the Bank of Canada over the next 24 months, starting in March, according to Refinitiv Eikon.
  • Inflation just climbed to a new 18-year high of 4.7% in October. But companies like Capital Economics argue that “there are still few signs of sustained inflationary pressures” that would push the Bank of Canada to accelerate its rate hike schedule.
  • Scotiabank continues to dominate uninsured mortgage rates. Through its eHOME division and subsidiary Tangerine, Scotia announces the lowest two to five year fixed and variable rates available nationally. Scotiabank is clearly trying to get ahead of its competitors from the Big Six banks by capturing customers who don’t like to negotiate.
  • Based on the average price of homes in Canada – now $ 716,585 according to the Canadian Real Estate Association – the minimum down payment would be 31% higher to buy a home with a mortgage, compared to just 12 years ago. month.
  • If you use a mortgage broker, chances are you are using one of the two largest mortgage brokerage companies in Canada, Dominion Lending Centers Inc. (DLC) or M3 Group. These industry titans control four out of five mortgages and are fighting an uphill battle to consolidate the brokerage industry and beat the other in terms of scale. So far, DLC appears to be winning with $ 75 billion in mortgages funded in the 12 months ended September 30. M3 reported $ 67 billion in funded mortgages over the same period.

Robert McLister is an Interest Rate Analyst, Mortgage Planner and Contributing Editor for The Globe and Mail. You can follow him on Twitter at @RobMcLister.


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