By Daniel Johnson
Canadian mortgage owners are feeling the squeeze of increased borrowing costs, but despite challenges, few are looking to sell, according to several mortgage brokers.
The Bank of Canada hiked interest rates for a sixth consecutive time at its October meeting, increasing its key benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 4.25 per cent.
Faced with heightened borrowing costs, some mortgage owners are apprehensive about their looming renewal. A survey, conducted by RATESDOTCA and BNN Bloomberg, found that 53 per cent of mortgage owners are concerned that their payments will rise during renewal.
Due to the higher costs, 38 per cent of respondents said they would cut back on spending and nine per cent said they would rely on their savings. Only two per cent of individuals said they plan to sell their home.
To put it in perspective, Ratehub.ca used an example of a person who put a 10 per cent down payment on a $500,000 home in November of 2017. The example had a five-year fixed rate of 2.69 per cent amortized over a 25-year period. Upon renewal, the mortgage payment would have increased by 21 per cent, to $445 per month.
Here is a look at the trends mortgage brokers are seeing across the country:
RENEWALS IN TORONTO
The median price of a single-detached home in Toronto was $1,200,494 in the third quarter of 2022, down 6.9 per cent from the previous year, according to The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
James Laird, co-chief executive officer of Ratehub.ca and president of CanWise Mortgage Lender, said it was clear rates would rise earlier this year. Laird is based out of Toronto and said many clients continue to be on top of their mortgage renewals to either “break early or extend their term.”
“The moment they’re within 120 days, which is how long we can generally hold rates for, they’re talking to us and getting rates locked in to protect against any future rate increases,” Laird said in a phone interview on Oct. 27.
Despite payment increases for those looking to renew their mortgage, Laird said he is not seeing people being forced to sell.
Leah Zlatkin, a mortgage broker working in Toronto and expert with LowestRates.ca, said some clients are having a harder time shopping around.
“What I’m typically seeing from clients who are up for renewal is that they’re having a harder time qualifying in some cases if they’re trying to switch to a different lender,” she said in a phone interview on Oct. 28.
Zlatkin said challenges could arise for a variety of reasons, including the fact that people are being stress tested at higher levels.
The stress test shows financial institutions that a buyer can afford their home, even if interest rates climb higher. The test requires lenders to use the higher value of 5.25 per cent or the buyer’s actual rate plus two per cent.
“In some cases, people are qualifying at like 7.59 per cent, things like that. So that means that you qualify for less money,” Zlatkin said.
But, Zlatkin said she is seeing people choose to take a new mortgage.
“The trends that I’m actually seeing are that people are taking a new mortgage at a different lender with a longer amortization in order to qualify for their mortgage amount,” she said.
RENEWALS IN VANCOUVER
According to an Oct. 4 release from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price for all residential properties in Vancouver was $1,155,300 in September, marking a 3.9 per cent year-over-year increase.
Eitan Pinsky, team lead and owner of Vancouver-based Pinsky Mortgages, said in a phone interview Oct. 28 that many clients he works with are generally opting for a variable rate mortgage over a fixed rate.
“Very few people are asking for the five-year fixed rates because their expectations are that the rates are going to decrease. And when they renew in two or three years, they’re going to be able to lower rates,” Pinsky said.
“So we’re advising some clients who have the ability to withstand a short-term increase in payment to go with a variable because their locked-in ability is there and then they can lock in for a rate in the mid-fours.”
RENEWALS IN HALIFAX
The average residential real estate price was $498,895 for the Halifax-Dartmouth region in September, marking a six per cent increase from the previous year.
Clinton Wilkins, mortgage broker and team leader at Clinton Wilkins Mortgage Team in Halifax, said in a phone interview some people are choosing to ride out their mortgage as long as possible.
Additionally, some are choosing not to do a simple renewal and are looking at other options, Wilkins said.
“Clients are choosing to do a transfer to another financial institution and maybe get a better rate. But I think what we’re seeing more so is clients are choosing to do a refinance at renewal and extending their amortization,” he said.
Wilkins said many homeowners are choosing to extend their amortization to 25 or 30 years, to bring down their overall borrowing cost as they wait for inflation to move closer to the Bank of Canada’s two per cent target.
Joe Baldwin, a client of Clinton Wilkins Mortgage Team, recently renewed his mortgage and said he will be facing higher payments.
Baldwin added that he will be able to “absorb” the heightened costs as he is the owner of a few rental properties, but the increase certainly “hurts the bottom line a bit.”
RENEWALS IN CALGARY
The median sale price for a single-detached home in Calgary rose to $572,000 in the third quarter of 2022, according to CREA. This marked a 13.3 per cent increase from the previous year.
Dan Eisner, chief executive officer of True North Mortgage, who is based out of Calgary said some clients who are looking to renew are sometimes caught off guard by the increase in payments.
“We do see a number of clients who are having their mortgage come up for renewal. They’re a little surprised and a little shocked by the new higher rates,” Eisner said in a phone interview on Oct. 27.
Eisner said higher-income clients can shop around to look for the best rate, but this isn’t a possibility for everyone.
He added that some clients have to remain with their current provider because they can’t qualify with a new one.
“So whatever lender they are with they’re kind of stuck with, which could lead to a slightly higher rate than they would otherwise prefer,” he said.
Source: BNN Bloomberg