2 Apr

Why Are Mortgage Rates Rising?

Latest News

Posted by: Ayashah Kothawala

Why Are Mortgage Rates Rising?

Over the past month, the Bank of Canada has lowered its overnight rate by a whopping 1.5 percentage points to a mere 0.25%. Many people expected mortgage rates to fall equivalently. The banks have reduced prime rates by the full 150 basis points (bps). But, since the second Bank of Canada rate cut on March 13, banks and other lenders have hiked mortgage rates for fixed- and variable-rate loans. That’s not what happens typically when the Bank cuts its overnight rate. But these are extraordinary times.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted everything, shutting down the entire global economy and damaging business and consumer confidence. No one knows when it will end. This degree of uncertainty and the risk to our health is profoundly unnerving.

Most businesses have ground to a halt, so unemployment has surged. Hourly workers and many of the self-employed have found themselves with no income for an indeterminate period. All but essential workers are staying at home, including vast numbers of students and pre-school children. Nothing like this has happened in the past century. The societal and emotional toll is enormous, and governments at all levels are introducing income support programs for individuals and businesses, but so far, no cheques are in the mail.

In consequence, the economy hasn’t just slowed; it has frozen in place and is rapidly contracting. Travel has stopped. Trade and transport have stopped. Manufacturing and commerce have stopped. And this is happening all over the world.

What’s more, the Saudis and Russians took advantage of the disruption to escalate oil production and drive down prices in a thinly veiled attempt to drive marginal producers in the US and Canada out of business. This has compounded the negative impact on our economy and dramatically intensified the plunge in our stock market.

Many Canadians are now forced to live off their savings or go into debt until employment insurance and other government assistance kicks in, and even when it does, it will not cover 100% of the income loss. The majority of the population has very little savings, so people are resort to drawing on their home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), other credit lines or adding to credit card debt. Businesses are doing the same.

The good news is that people and businesses that already have loans tied to the prime rate are enjoying a significant reduction in their monthly payments. All of the major banks have reduced their prime rates from 3.95% to 2.45%. So people or businesses with floating-rate loans, be they mortgages or HELOCs or commercial lines of credit, have seen their monthly borrowing costs fall by 1.5 percentage points. That helps to reduce the burden of dipping into this source of funds to replace income.

So Why Are Mortgage Rates For New Loans Rising?

These disruptive forces of Covid-19 have markedly reduced the earnings of banks and other lenders and dramatically increased their risk. That is why the stock prices of banks and other publically-traded lenders have fallen very sharply, causing their dividend yields to rise to levels well above government bond yields. As an example, Royal Bank’s stock price has fallen 22% year-to-date (ytd), increasing its annual dividend yield to 5.31%. For CIBC, it has been even worse. Its stock price has fallen 30%, driving its dividend yield to 7.66%. To put this into perspective, the 10-year Government of Canada bond yield is only 0.64%. The gap is a reflection of the investor perception of the risk confronting Canadian banks.

Thus, the cost of funds for banks and other lenders has risen sharply despite the cut in the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate. The cheapest source of funding is short-term deposits–especially savings and chequing accounts. Still, unemployed consumers and shut-down businesses are withdrawing these deposits to pay the rent and put food on the table.

Longer-term deposits called GICs, which stands for Guaranteed Investment Certificates, are a more expensive source of funds. Still, owing to their hefty penalties for early withdrawal, they become a more reliable funding source at a time like this. As noted by Rob Carrick, consumer finance reporter for the Globe and Mail, “GIC rates should be in the toilet right now because that’s what rates broadly do in times of economic stress. But GIC rates follow a similar path to mortgage rates, which have risen lately as lenders price rising default risk into borrowing costs.”

To attract funds, some of the smaller banks have increased their savings and GIC rates. For example, EQ Bank is paying 2.45% on its High-Interest Savings Account and 2.55% on its 5-year GIC. Other small banks are also hiking GIC rates, raising their cost of funds. Rob McLister noted that “The likes of Home Capital, Equitable Bank and Canadian Western Bank have lifted their 1-year GIC rates over 65 bps in the last few weeks, according to data from noted housing analyst Ben Rabidoux.”

The banks are having to set aside funds to cover rising loan loss reserves, which exacerbates their earnings decline. An unusually large component of Canadian bank loan losses is coming from the oil sector. Still, default risk is rising sharply for almost every business, small and large–think airlines, shipping companies, manufacturers, auto dealers, department stores, etc.

Lenders have also been swamped by thousands of applications to defer mortgage payments.

Hence, confronted with rising costs and falling revenues, the banks are tightening their belts. They slashed their prime rates but eliminated the discounts to prime for new variable-rate mortgage loans. Some lenders will no doubt start charging prime plus a premium for such mortgage loans. Banks have also raised fixed-rate mortgage rates as these myriad pressures reducing bank earnings are causing investors to insist banks pay more for the funds they need to remain liquid.

An additional concern is that financial markets have become less and less liquid–sellers cannot find buyers at reasonable prices. The ‘bid-ask’ spreads are widening. That’s why the central bank and CMHC are buying mortgage-backed securities in enormous volumes. That is also why the Bank of Canada has started large-scale weekly buying of government securities and commercial paper. These government entities have become the buyer of last resort, providing liquidity to the mortgage and bond markets.

These markets are crucial to the financial stability of Canada. Large-scale purchases of securities are called “quantitative easing” and have never been used before by the Bank of Canada. It was used extensively by the Fed and other central banks during the 2008-10 financial crisis. When business and consumer confidence is so low that nothing the central bank can do will spur investment and spending, they resort to quantitative easing to keep financial markets functioning. In today’s world, businesses and consumers are locked down, and no one knows when it will end. With so much uncertainty, confidence about the future diminishes. The natural tendency is for people to cancel major expenditures and hunker down.

We are living through an unprecedented period. When the health emergency has passed, we will celebrate a return to a new normal. In the meantime, seemingly odd things will continue to happen in financial markets.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

10 Mar

Mortgage renewals with the same lender are on the rise, but should you just sign on the dotted line?

General

Posted by: Ayashah Kothawala

Another MASSIVE benefit of using a Jencor mortgage advisor is for renewals of your existing mortgage. Even if I didn’t place you with that mortgage I can always advise you on the best renewal options. I totally agree with my colleague Jeremy below so check out this great article on mortgage renewals

Mortgage renewals with the same lender are on the rise, but should you just sign on the dotted line?

If you’re in a mortgage that’s coming up for renewal in the coming months and you’re considering just staying with your current lender, you wouldn’t be alone.
According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Residential Mortgage Industry Report released in the summer, in 2018, the number of mortgage renewals with the same lender increased by 16 per cent over the previous year.
The report suggested one of the factors that may have contributed to large increases in loan renewals with the same institution are the tighter approval criteria. In other words, people are worried they may not qualify for a new mortgage if they switch lenders, so they’re staying put.
You’ll remember in the fall of 2017, OSFI, (the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions) the agency that regulates the financial industry, announced tighter rules on mortgages. The biggest change related to uninsured mortgages, or homebuyers with 20 per cent or more for a down payment. These people are now required to go through a “stress test” or qualify using a minimum qualifying rate.
The changes came a year after a similar stress test was introduced for insured mortgages.
If the tighter mortgage rules still have you stressed as you face a mortgage renewal, the CMHC report noted the approval rate for same lender renewals remained stable at 99 per cent. Renewals are not specifically subject to the new stress test and are more likely to meet current lender criteria, the reported noted.
So, does that mean you should just automatically renew your mortgage with the same lender when your term is up? Not necessarily. You need to reach out to a mortgage professional to get the best advice.
For starters, most lenders, especially the big banks, will send you a renewal letter when there’s about three months left on the term. Sometimes that letter could come with six months left. Typically, the lender will offer you a rate at that time and all you’ll have to do is sign at the bottom line to roll over your mortgage.
But beware, lenders often offer a higher rate than a new client because they’re hoping the ease of renewal will keep you from seeking out a new lender and lower rate.
In some cases, it may be best to just sign and roll over your mortgage. There are a few things to consider. If you decide to change lenders, you’ll basically have to go through an approval process again. That entails getting all your documents, lawyer’s fees and appraisals.
You’ll have to ask yourself, is it worth the effort to save a few basis points off your rate, or a few hundred dollars over a term to make the switch?
For some it won’t be. But, if a switch can lead to saving thousands of dollars, it would certainly be something to consider. While everyone’s situation is different, the larger the mortgage, the bigger the savings will be if you can find a lower rate.
Often, homeowners will just use a bank their parents recommend for their first mortgage. But they might find themselves not happy with the service or terms of the mortgage and may just want to switch to a different lender as the mortgage comes up for renewal.
If that’s a situation you find yourself in, you have options, and a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can help you make the best decision.

Jeremy Deutsch
Communications Advisor
3 Mar

Building a Real Estate Portfolio

General

Posted by: Ayashah Kothawala

Building a Real Estate Portfolio

More and more Canadians do not have a defined benefits pension plan. Companies are moving away from this model due to the expense of maintaining enough in the fund to pay out until the employee and survivors die. Those who are self employed also do not have pensions beside the Canadian Pension Plan.
What can you do if you fall into this category? How do you save enough to have a comfortable retirement? The answer is, build up your own investments through a real estate portfolio.

In order to purchase a revenue property you need 20% down payment . This can be a huge sum to save and you could get discouraged as you see property prices rising. There is a legal work around that is an open secret that realtors and other property investors have used for years.

Purchase a starter home with a 5% down payment. While you are living in the property, it is considered as your primary residence and any increase in value is tax free. Start from Day 1 to save for your next home. You may purchase a condo as the prices are usually less than most detached homes in Canadian cities. When you have saved 5% or if your present home has increased enough in value that you have more than 20% in equity you can remove that extra equity with a line of credit or by refinancing your home you can now purchase a larger home. Now you move to House #2 and rent out House #1.

You are now on your way to building a real estate portfolio. If you repeat this every 3 to 5 years in 20 years you’ll have a portfolio of 4 or more rental properties Is this for everyone? No, if you aren’t handy and if you don’t want the expense of hiring a property management company you cold end up spending your free time on maintenance of several homes.

Talk to your financial advisor or accountant first and then meet with your local Dominion Lending Centre mortgage professional. We can provide answers to your real estate financial needs.

David Cooke
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
13 Sep

Bruised Credit And Need A Mortgage?

General

Posted by: Ayashah Kothawala

Many people think that their credit score will hold them back from obtaining a mortgage. For some, they may have work to do on their debt beforehand, but sometimes people believe their credit is poor, only to find that it isn’t as bad as they thought. It pays to seek help from a Jencor Mortgage Advisor to find out where you stand.

What is bruised credit and how does it impact your ability to obtain a mortgage?

Mortgage lenders use your credit reports to evaluate risk by looking at your repayment history to see how responsible you are with credit. Although a 790-beacon score and zero late payments in the last three years is ideal for all lenders, bruised credit means something slightly different to some lenders. So, what is bruised credit? It can be a result of many circumstances including, late payments on loans, collections & judgements, bankruptcy, consumer proposal or credit counselling, late payments on your mortgage, foreclosure & even identity theft. Traditional mortgage lenders and insurers will not commonly approve applications with credit histories that show challenges with borrowing in the recent past. The good news is that there are still options with alternative mortgage lenders with a minimum down payment of 20% to 30%. With these mortgages, you will be paying higher interest rates, usually for two years, while you rebuild your credit. We can then transition you into a regular mortgage.

Rebuilding credit takes time…

There are some things you can do which will bring your score up substantially in one swoop, but normally it takes time to rebuild. Here are some of the basics to improve your credit:

  1. Have at least two credit accounts reporting to your credit report besides cell phone bills, school loans or mortgages. Use your credit cards every month, even just one purchase monthly and pay it in full before the due date. The credit limits should be at least approximately $2000 each.
  2. Always pay all your debts on time – making even the minimum payment on time, is better than making a larger payment late. If need be, reach out to the account holder and make payment arrangements. Never ignore a payment and hope for the best.
  3. No Late mortgage payments – these are extremely detrimental to you obtaining a mortgage.
  4. Do not max out your credit. Use less than 50% of your limits and never go over the limit. Going over limit impacts your score immediately and severely, and even when you bring it back in line, it still has a lingering effect on your score.
  5. Do not apply for too much credit and do not cancel existing credit – both these actions will negatively impact your score – yes, you would think that cancelling existing credit would help, but by doing so, you are reducing the overall credit available to you and therefore immediately increasing credit usage. Also, by cancelling credit, you might be cancelling a credit card that you have held the longest and longevity of credit has an impact on your rating.
  6. New loans, such as car loans will have an immediate negative impact on your score – so do not obtain a new car loan if you are thinking about obtaining a mortgage. Because of the size of the loan, your credit usage increases substantially.
  7. Do not let anything go to collections – even though some utilities, rental payments, gym memberships and the like, do not report to your credit bureau, when they go to collections, they will be reported.
  8. Ensure that everything on your report is correct. If not, you must take steps with the creditor or the reporting agency (Equifax or TransUnion) to correct them.
  9. In some cases, if you already own your home, there may be an opportunity to consolidate debt into your mortgage and improve your credit.

Don’t be defeated; get advice, get back on track!

Ultimately, how each item impacts your score, depends on how it interacts with everything else on your report. One late payment, for some with long-held credit and very little past delinquencies, will have less of an impact than for someone with bruised credit or someone with new credit.

If you have bruised credit, don’t write off your dream of home ownership. Contact your Jencor Mortgage Advisor who can advise you on the necessary steps to obtain the mortgage you need.