Canadian mortgage rates on the rise

Mortgages (Creative Commons).
Mortgages (Creative Commons). (Creative Commons)

Some of Canada’s major banks are starting to raise mortgage rates. RBC, Scotia Bank and TD have all increased some of their mortgage rates in the last month and RBC announced a second hike last week.

Everyone breathe.

For RBC, the four-year closed-rate mortgage is moving up 10 basis points to 3.39 per cent, five-year increase by 20 basis points to 3.6 per cernt, the seven-year by 20 basis points to 3.99 per cent, the 10-year is moving up by 30 basis points to 4.29 per cent.

When mortgage rates increase, homeowners, or those ready to buy, are often fearful, with reason.

However, it’s not all bad. Hopefully, we can get a little bit of perspective on the recent rise in Canadian mortgage rates.

These are still really good rates

In November 2008, the monthly average mortgage rate for a conventional five-year mortgage in Canada was 7 per cent. Since the 2008 crash, we’ve been a bit spoiled with artificially low mortgage rates. A five-year closed rate of 3.69 per cent is still low, historically speaking.

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Rising mortgage rates are a double-edged sword

Rising mortgage rates are a signal of a stabilizing economy in North America, which we’ve all been rooting for since 2008. A stabilizing economy means increases in employment, incomes and hopefully stock markets. These are good things that should help families offset the effect of mortgage hikes.

These are very small hikes

The largest increase announced is 30 basis points on the RBC 10-year closed mortgage. That’s three tenths of a percent. We aren’t talking full percentage swings over night. Small rises in mortgage rates can be a signal of upward trends, but at least they give home owners time to speak with their mortgage specialist and lock down a rate that allows them to sleep at night.

Most mortgage rates are set by banks

Mortgage rates are set by each individual bank, based on supply and demand. Banks who have not yet raised rates may hold off on a rate increase to see how their competitor’s decisions plays out.

How to survive a mortgage rate hike

  1. Purchase a home you can afford, even when rates rise. The bigger your mortgage, the more effected you are.
  2. Aim to have a 20 per cent down payment to ensure that you’re not over leveraged.
  3. Start paying down consumer debt to free up additional cash flow for your household.
  4. Sit down with a mortgage specialist and ask for a rate hold, which you can always cancel if you need to or lock in a historically low rate.
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