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Alberta brokers favouring variable mortgages over fixed rates as Bank of Canada raises rates

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WATCH: Mortgages will be the biggest impact many Canadians face from the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hike, with a bigger chunk of payments being used on interest rather than principal. As Craig Momney explains, many also worry the cost will prevent them from even owning a home. – Jun 1, 2022

Variable mortgage rates are again on the rise as the Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate on Wednesday to 1.5 per cent.

However, for first-time homebuyer Bryce Ellert, the hike doesn’t come as a concern, at least not just yet.

“We locked in our mortgage rate about a month and a half ago when they were a little bit lower, so you know, we’re still looking pretty good,” Ellert said.

Read more: Here’s what it takes to buy a home in Canada’s ‘soul-crushing’ housing market

Ellert moved his wife and business, Furnace Fellas, from Saskatchewan to Calgary last year. With a baby on the way, they then took the biggest step of their lives and purchased their first home last month.

His worry then was the short period of time homes remained on the market along with the rising cost.

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“We didn’t think we were ever going to afford something and we kind of had the fear of missing out,” he said.

Ellert is not alone.

According to a recent Chartered Professional Accountants study, about half of Canadians who don’t own a home believe they never will, while the remaining 50 per cent still have hope.

However, 90 per cent of the total people surveyed say the rising interest rates are a major concern.

Quantus Mortgage Solutions owner and broker Paul Bojakli said despite the rise in variable rates, he still favours them over a fixed mortgage.

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“Today’s a perfect example,” says Bojakli.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls asking, ‘should I lock in?’ And my answers the same, no,” he said. “Ride it out, the payment is still lower. In some cases, it’s two per cent lower.”

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According to Bojakli, variable mortgage rates currently sit at 2.8 per cent. That’s compared to a five-year fixed rate that could vary between 4.29 and 4.99 per cent.

Bojakli says when qualifying buyers, brokers will anticipate rate hikes from the Bank of Canada — calculated using the stress test — which shows what an applicant can afford to buy up to 5.25 per cent.

“You’re there. You’re positioned already for those increases, but keep in mind that it is going to get more expensive to maintain your home,” said Bojakli who anticipates the rising rates will cool off the housing market.

Read more: As inflation surges, Canadians find creative ways to save, cut costs

However, A-Team ReMax First realtor Tom Albrecht said he’s already seen the market cool off a bit earlier this year, but added it remains hot with the low inventory.

In Calgary, prices remain high with the average house in May selling for $596,500.

“There are various factors to determine values in the long run, and interest rates are one of them,” Albrecht said.

“Oil prices are another, and those two factors are in very different places right now.”

Albrecht doesn’t expect today’s announcement from the BOC will overly influence Calgary’s market.

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“The impact of today’s hike, sometimes it gets busier at the start and then two, three, four months later, is when we start to see demand come off,” Albrecht says.

“We have seen it slow down the last month or so, but that’s because of announcements that happened three or so months ago.

“It’ll be a process, it just takes time,” he concluded.

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