No Surprises Here: The Bank of Canada Hiked Rates By Only 25 bps, Signalling a Pause

Latest News Gabriel Da Silva 25 Jan

 

As expected, the Bank of Canada–satisfied with the sharp decline in recent inflation pressure–raised the policy rate by only 25 bps to 4.5%. Forecasting that inflation will return to roughly 3.0% later this year and to the target of 2% in 2024 is subject to considerable uncertainty.

The Bank acknowledges that recent economic growth in Canada has been stronger than expected, and the economy remains in excess demand. Labour markets are still tight, and the unemployment rate is at historic lows. “However, there is growing evidence that restrictive monetary policy is slowing activity, especially household spending. Consumption growth has moderated from the first half of 2022 and housing market activity has declined substantially. As the effects of interest rate increases continue to work through the economy, spending on consumer services and business investment is expected to slow. Meanwhile, weaker foreign demand will likely weigh on exports. This overall slowdown in activity will allow supply to catch up with demand.”

The report says, “Canada’s economy grew by 3.6% in 2022, slightly stronger than was projected in October. Growth is expected to stall through the middle of 2023, picking up later in the year. The Bank expects GDP growth of about 1% in 2023 and about 2% in 2024, little changed from the October outlook. This is consistent with the Bank’s expectation of a soft landing in the economy. Inflation has declined from 8.1% in June to 6.3% in December, reflecting lower gasoline prices and, more recently, moderating prices for durable goods.”

Short-term inflation expectations remain elevated. Year-over-year measures of core inflation are still around 5%, but 3-month measures of core inflation have come down, suggesting that core inflation has peaked.

 

 

The BoC says, “Inflation is projected to come down significantly this year. Lower energy prices, improvements in global supply conditions, and the effects of higher interest rates on demand are expected to bring CPI inflation down to around 3% in the middle of this year and back to the 2% target in 2024.” (the emphasis is mine.)

The Bank will continue its policy of quantitative tightening, another restrictive measure. The Governing Council expects to hold the policy rate at 4.5% while it assesses the cumulative impact of the eight rate hikes in the past year. They then say, “Governing Council is prepared to increase the policy rate further if needed to return inflation to the 2% target, and remains resolute in its commitment to restoring price stability for Canadians.”

Bottom Line

The Bank of Canada was the first major central bank to tighten this cycle, and now it is the first to announce a pause and assert they expect inflation to fall to 3% by mid-year and 2% in 2024.

No rate hike is likely on March 8 or April 12. This may lead many to believe that rates have peaked so buyers might tiptoe back into the housing market. This is not what the Bank of Canada would like to see. Hence OSFI might tighten the regulatory screws a bit when the April 14 comment period is over.

 

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

OSFI leaves mortgage stress test unchanged

Latest News Gabriel Da Silva 15 Dec

OSFI leaves mortgage stress test unchanged

Canada’s banking regulator confirmed today it will leave the mortgage stress test for uninsured mortgages unchanged.

In its annual review of the minimum qualifying rate (MQR) used by federally regulated lenders, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) said the MQR has provided a margin of safety to mortgage borrowers and has better prepared them in dealing with rising rates over the course of the year.

“This margin of safety made it easier for Canadian homeowners to continue to pay their mortgages and stay in their homes when rates started rising,” Tolga Yalkin, Assistant Superintendent at OSFI, said during a media call.

He added that the MQR is one of the reasons residential mortgage defaults remain near historic lows.

“In an environment characterized by sustained high inflation, rising mortgage interest rates, and potential risks to borrower incomes, it’s prudent that lenders continue to test borrowers for adverse conditions,” he said.

While today’s decision was expected, there have been growing calls for OSFI to revisit how the mortgage stress test is applied. With interest rates for uninsured mortgages⁠—those with a down payment of at least 20%⁠—nearing 6%, it means new borrowers at federally regulated lenders must prove they can afford payments based on an interest rate of nearly 8%.

OSFI was asked if there’s a concern that the more challenging qualification conditions may drive more homebuyers who are otherwise qualified at today’s rate to alternative lenders, which generally come with higher mortgage rates.

“When we consider the basis of the MQR, we’re really looking at the risks to the financial institutions that we regulate,” Yalkin said, “ultimately with the aim of protecting borrowers and creditors and their interests and rights.”

OSFI to launch B-20 consultation process in January

OSFI also announced that it will launch a consultation process on its Guideline B-20, which governs mortgage underwriting practices and procedures.

“Part of us issuing the consultation document is to seek perspectives from stakeholders on a wide range of debt serviceability measures and the options that may exist and the nuances in terms of their application,” Yalkin said.

OSFI said it will seek input from stakeholders on a variety of considerations relating to debt serviceability measures prior to issuing revised guidelines later in the year.

OSFI was asked if revisions to the guidelines could include how the stress test is applied to existing homeowners that are wanting to switch lenders.

“When we do launch this consultation, although we have some thoughts on how to proceed, we definitely are open to a range of perspectives that stakeholders may have to offer,” Yalkin said.

Mortgage Professionals Canada is one such stakeholder that has been in calling for changes to how the stress test is applied.

“Mortgage Professionals Canada has advocated for the removal of the stress test on mortgage transfers, renewals and switches, provided that there is no change to the principal, by highlighting the disadvantages to consumers in a high rate environment, as well as other measures that will help ease the cost burden to Canadians in this high-interest, high-inflation environment,” said MPC president and CEO Lauren van den Berg. “We will continue to consult with OSFI and other stakeholders to ensure our industry is heard during this review process.”

The Bank of Canada Slowed the Pace of Monetary Tightening

General Gabriel Da Silva 27 Oct

 

The Governing Council of the Bank of Canada raised its target for the overnight policy rate by 50 basis points today to 3.75% and signalled that the policy rate would rise further. The Bank is also continuing its policy of quantitative tightening (QT), reducing its holdings of Government of Canada bonds, which puts additional upward pressure on longer-term interest rates.

Most market analysts had expected a 75 bps hike in response to the disappointing inflation data for September. Headline inflation has slowed from 8.1% to 6.9% over the past three months, primarily due to the fall in gasoline prices. However, the Bank said that “price pressures remain broadly based, with two-thirds of CPI components increasing more than 5% over the past year. The Bank’s preferred measures of core inflation are not yet showing meaningful evidence that underlying price pressures are easing. Near-term inflation expectations remain high, increasing the risk that elevated inflation becomes entrenched.”

In his press conference, Governor Tiff Macklem said that the Bank chose to reduce today’s rate hike from 75 bps last month (and 100 bps in July) to today’s 50 bps because “there is evidence that the economy is slowing.” When asked if this is a pivot from very big rate increases, Macklem said that further rate increases are coming, but how large they will be is data-dependent. Global factors will also influence future Bank of Canada actions.

“The Bank expects CPI inflation to ease as higher interest rates help rebalance demand and supply, price pressures from global supply disruptions fade, and the past effects of higher commodity prices dissipate. CPI inflation is projected to move down to about 3% by the end of 2023 and then return to the 2% target by the end of 2024.”

The press release concluded with the following statement: “Given elevated inflation and inflation expectations, as well as ongoing demand pressures in the economy, the Governing Council expects that the policy interest rate will need to rise further. Future rate increases will be influenced by our assessments of how tighter monetary policy is working to slow demand, how supply challenges are resolving, and how inflation and inflation expectations are responding. Quantitative tightening is complementing increases in the policy rate. We are resolute in our commitment to restore price stability for Canadians and will continue to take action as required to achieve the 2% inflation target.”

Reading the tea leaves here, the fact that the Bank of Canada referred to ‘increases’ in interest rates in the plural suggests it will not be just one more hike and done.

 

 

Monetary Policy Report (MPR)

The Bank of Canada released its latest global and Canadian economies forecast in their October MPR. They have reduced their outlook across the board. Concerning the Canadian outlook, GDP growth in 2022 has been revised down by about ¼ of a percentage point to around 3¼%. It has been reduced by close to 1 percentage point in 2023 and almost ½ of a percentage point in 2024, to about 1% and 2%, respectively. These revisions leave the level of real GDP about 1½% lower by the end of 2024.

Consumer price index (CPI) inflation in 2022 and 2023 is anticipated to be lower than previously projected. The outlook for CPI inflation has been revised down by ¼ of a percentage point to just under 7% in 2022 and by ½ of a percentage point to about 4% in 2023. The outlook for inflation in 2024 is largely unchanged. The downward revisions are mainly due to lower gasoline prices and weaker demand. Easing global cost pressures, including lower-than-expected shipping costs, also contribute to reducing inflation in 2023. The weaker Canadian dollar partially offsets these cost pressures.

The Bank is expecting lower household spending growth. Consumer spending is expected to contract modestly in Q4 of this year and through the first half of next year. Higher interest rates weigh on household spending, with housing and big-ticket items most affected (Chart below). Decreasing house prices, financial wealth and consumer confidence also restrain household spending. Borrowing costs have risen sharply. The costs for those taking on a new mortgage are up markedly. Households renewing an existing mortgage are facing a larger increase than has been experienced during any tightening cycle over the past 30 years. For example, a homeowner who signed a five-year fixed-rate mortgage in October 2017 would now be faced with a mortgage rate of 1½ to 2 percentage points higher at renewal.

 

 

Housing activity is the most interest-sensitive component of household spending. It provides the economy’s most important transmission mechanism of monetary tightening (or easing). The rise in mortgage rates contributed to a sharp pullback in resales beginning in March. Resales have declined and are now below pre-pandemic levels (Chart below). Renovation activity has also weakened. The contraction in residential investment that began in the year’s second quarter is projected to continue through the first half of 2023, although to a lesser degree. House prices rose by just over 50% between February 2020 and February 2022 and have declined by just under 10%. They are projected by the Bank of Canada to continue to decline, particularly in those markets that saw larger increases during the pandemic.

Higher borrowing costs are affecting spending on big-ticket items. Spending on automobiles, furniture and appliances is the most sensitive to interest rates and is already showing signs of slowing. As higher interest rates work their way through the economy, disposable income growth and the demand for services will also slow. Past experience suggests that the demand for travel, hotels, restaurant meals and communications services will be impacted the most. Household spending strengthens beginning in the second half of 2023 and extends through 2024. Population growth and rising disposable incomes support demand as the impact of the tightening in financial conditions wanes. For example, new residential construction is boosted by strong immigration in markets that are already particularly tight.

Governor Macklem and his officials raised the prospect of a technical recession. “A couple of quarters with growth slightly below zero is just as likely as a couple of quarters with small positive growth” in the first half of next year, the bank said in the MPR.

 

 

Bottom Line

The Bank of Canada’s surprising decision today to hike interest rates by 50 bps, 25 bps less than expected, reflected the Bank’s significant downgrade to the economic outlook. Weaker growth is expected to dampen inflation pressures sufficiently to warrant today’s smaller move.

A 50 bps rate hike is still an aggressive move, and the implications are considerable for the housing market. The prime rate will now quickly rise to 5.95%, increasing the variable mortgage interest rate another 50 bps, which will likely take the qualifying rate to roughly 7.5%.

Fixed mortgage rates, tied to the 5-year government of Canada bond yield, will be less affected. The 5-year bond yield declined sharply today–down nearly 25 bps to 3.42%–with the smaller-than-expected rate hike.

Barring substantial further weakening in the economy or a big move in inflation, I expect the Bank of Canada to raise rates again in December by 25 bps and then again once or twice in 2023. The terminal overnight target rate will likely be 4.5%, and the Bank will hold firm for the rest of the year. Of course, this is data-dependent, and the level of uncertainty is elevated.

 

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

Bank of Canada Will Not Be Happy With This Inflation Report

Latest News Gabriel Da Silva 19 Oct

 

Canada’s headline inflation rate ticked down slightly last month to 6.9%, but measures of core inflation remain stubbornly high, and food prices hit a 41-year high. Lower gasoline prices were primarily responsible for the decline in inflation in the past three months. Bond markets sold off on the immediate release of the data this morning, taking the 2-year yield on Government of Canada bonds to over 4%. This is the last major data release before the Bank of Canada’s policy rate announcement next Wednesday, October 26, which puts the potential for a 75-bps hike back in play. At the very least, the Bank will take the overnight rate up 50 bps to 3.75%, but I wouldn’t rule out another 75-bps move. Judging from experience, we may see a nod in that direction by Governor Macklem before the Governing Council meets.

Excluding food and energy, prices rose 5.4% year-over-year (y/y) in September, following a gain of 5.3% in August. Prices for durable goods, such as furniture and passenger vehicles, grew faster in September compared with August. In September, the Mortgage Interest Cost Index continued to put upward pressure on the all-items CPI Canadians renewed or initiated mortgages at higher interest rates.

Monthly, the CPI rose 0.1% in September. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI was up 0.4%.
Average hourly wages rose 5.2% on a year-over-year basis in September, meaning that, on average, prices rose faster than wages. The gap in September was larger compared with August.

In September, prices for food purchased from stores (+11.4%) grew faster year-over-year since August 1981 (+11.9%). Prices for food purchased from stores have increased faster than the all-items CPI for ten consecutive months since December 2021.

Contributing to price increases for food and beverages were unfavourable weather, higher prices for essential inputs such as fertilizer and natural gas, and geopolitical instability stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Food price growth remained broad-based in September. On a year-over-year basis, Canadians paid more for meat (+7.6%), dairy products (+9.7%), bakery products (+14.8%), and fresh vegetables (+11.8%), among other food items.

 

 

 

Bottom Line

Price pressures might have peaked, but today’s data release will not be welcome news for the Bank of Canada. There is no evidence that core inflation is moderating despite the housing and consumer spending slowdown. The average of the Bank’s favourite measure of core inflation remains stuck at 5.3%. Combined with the Governor’s recent harsh rhetoric, the high probability that the Fed will hike rates 75 bps at the next Federal Open Market Committee Meeting and the weak Canadian dollar, there is no doubt the Bank will increase their overnight policy target to at least 3.75%, and could well go the full 75 bps to 4.0% next week. I would bet that they will not quit there, with further hikes to come in December and next year by central banks worldwide.

The Government of Canada yield curve is now steeply inverted, reflecting the widely held expectation that the economy is slowing. The prime rate will increase sharply next week, increasing variable mortgage rates again. Fixed mortgage rates will rise as well, but not by as much, continuing a pattern we’ve seen since March when the Bank of Canada began the current tightening cycle. We are unlikely to see a pivot to lower rates in the next year as inflation pressures remain very sticky.

 

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

Inflation Cooled Again in August, But Higher Rates Still Coming

Latest News Gabriel Da Silva 21 Sep

 

Canada’s headline inflation rate cooled again in August, even a bit more than expected. The consumer price index rose 7.0% from a year ago, down from 7.6% in July and a forty-year high of 8.1% in June, mainly on the back of lower gasoline prices.

The CPI fell 0.3% in August, the most significant monthly decline since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI was up 0.1%, the smallest gain since December 2020. The monthly gas price decline in August compared with July mainly stemmed from higher global production by oil-producing countries. According to data from Natural Resources Canada, refining margins also fell from higher levels in July.
Transportation (+10.3%) and shelter (+6.6%) prices drove the deceleration in consumer prices in August. Moderating the slowing in prices were sustained higher prices for groceries, as prices for food purchased from stores (+10.8%) rose at the fastest pace since August 1981 (+11.9%).

Price growth for goods and services both slowed on a year-over-year basis in August. As non-durable goods (+10.8%) decelerated due to lower prices at the pump, services associated with travel and shelter services contributed the most to the slowdown in service prices (+5.5%). Prices for durable goods (+6.0%), such as passenger vehicles and appliances, also cooled in August.

In August, the average hourly wages rose 5.4% on a year-over-year basis, meaning that, on average, prices rose faster than wages. Although Canadians experienced a decline in purchasing power, the gap was smaller than in July.

Core inflation–which excludes food and energy prices–also decelerated but remains far too high for the Bank of Canada’s comfort. The central bank analyzes three measures of core inflation (see the chart below). The average of the central bank’s three key measures dropped to 5.23% from a revised 5.43% in July, a record high. The Bank aims to return these measures to their 2% target…

 

Bottom Line

Price pressures might have peaked, but today’s data release will not derail the central bank’s intention to raise rates further. Markets expect another rate hike in late October when the Governing Council of the Bank of Canada meets again. But further moves are likely to be smaller than the 75 bps-hikes of the past summer.

There is still more than a month of data before the October 25th decision date. The September employment report (released on October 7) and the September CPI (October 19) will be critical to the Bank’s decision. Right now, we expect a 50-bps hike next month.

 

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

 

 

First Time Home Buyers Guide

Mortgage Tips Gabriel Da Silva 20 Sep

 

Let Us Be Your Guide Through The Mortgage Process.
When you work with us, we’ll pair you with an experienced agent to take you step-by-step through the mortgage process. You’ll receive personalized, one-on-one service designed to get you across the finish line.

 

Notable Terms.
Mortgage Term: The length of time that you’re locked into your rate and conditions.

Down Payment: Any down payment less than 20% requires mortgage default insurance. Over 20% is considered a conventional mortgage, which doesn’t require insurance.

Mortgage Type: An open mortgage allows the borrower the option to pay off all or any of the balance owing on the mortgage at any time, without a penalty but tends to come with a higher interest rate.

Mortgage Rate: You’ll choose either a fixed or variable rate mortgage. Variable rates are often lower but involve more risk, as your payments may fluctuate with the rate set by the Bank of Canada. Fixed rates mean you are locked in for a term and your monthly mortgage payment is set in advance.

Amortization: The number of years it takes to repay your entire mortgage loan amount, based on a fixed payment schedule. Most lenders offer 25-year amortizations.

Closing Costs: Don’t forget about closing costs. Lenders typically like to see that you have at least 1.5% of the purchase price to cover these costs.

Mortgage Stress-Test: Federal regulations have made qualifying for a mortgage a little tougher. Regardless of the low rates offered, you’ll need to qualify to ensure that if mortgage interest rates go up, you’ll still be able to afford your payments.

 

Looking for your First Mortgage? There are Programs and Rebates to Help.

THE HOME BUYERS’ PLAN (HBP)
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the HBP allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSPs tax-free to put toward buying your first home. The HBP allows you to pay back the withdrawn funds within a 15-year period.

THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER INCENTIVE
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive helps people across Canada purchase their first home. The program offers 5% or 10% of the home’s purchase price to put toward a down payment. You pay back the same percentage of the value of your home when you sell it or within a 25-year window.

 

The Mortgage Financing Process.
The number one question for someone new to the mortgage process is “what does this process entail?”. The following is a simple outline to give you an idea of the process and help you understand what to expect as you embark on your home buying journey!

STEP 1 – BE PREPARED
Having the following information on hand before meeting with your mortgage professional will help them determine what you qualify for and help them determine the best mortgage product for you:

Contact information for your employer and your employment history
Proof of address and your address history
Government-issued photo ID with your current address
Proof of income for your mortgage application
Down payment proof (amount and source)
Savings and investments proof
Details of current debts and other financial obligations

STEP 2 – GET PRE-APPROVED
One of the best things any potential homeowner can do when starting the home buying process is to get pre-approved. Mortgage pre-approval requires submission and verification of your financial history and can help you determine your price range, understand the monthly mortgage payment associated with that price range and provide the mortgage rate for your first term.

It is important to note that pre-approval does not mean that a lender has fully reviewed your documentation and you may still need the approval of a mortgage insurer. However, it does have a lot of benefits that can give you a “leg-up” in your search!

BENEFITS OF PRE-APPROVAL
Getting pre-approved not only makes the search easier by helping to determine your price range and budget, but pre-approval also guarantees the interest rate for 90-120 days while you search for that perfect home. Plus, the rate will automatically be adjusted down with any market reductions. Another benefit to pre-approval is that, when it comes time to purchase, pre-approval lets the seller know that securing financing should not be an issue. This is extremely beneficial in competitive markets where lots of offers may be coming in.

Quick Tip: Being entirely candid with your home-buying team throughout the process will be vital! Hidden debt or buying a big-ticket item during your 90-120 day pre-approval can change the amount you are able to borrow. It is best to refrain from any major purchases (such as a new car) or life changes (such as changing jobs) until after closing and you have the keys to your new home!

STEP 3 – HIRE A REALTOR
In today’s competitive real estate market, it can be very difficult to acquire property WITHOUT the help of a realtor. One of the reasons realtors are integral to the home buying process is that they can provide access to properties that never even make it to the MLS website. Realtors also gain access to information about homes that may come onto the market before a listing is even signed.

Most importantly though, a realtor understands the ins-and-outs of the home buying process and can tell you how to be successful in your endeavors to purchase a home by guiding you through the process from the first viewing to having your bid accepted.

STEP 4 – SHOP THE MARKET & MAKE AN OFFER
Once you have found the property that meets your needs, you’ll put in an offer that’ll be accepted or countered. This may go back and forth until you reach an acceptable price with the vendor.

STEP 5 – OFFER IS ACCEPTED
Once your offer is accepted with the condition of financing, you will need to do a few things to finalize the sale:

Ask for a realtor intro between your mortgage professional and realtor.
An appraisal may be required, which will be determined and arranged by your mortgage professional.
Send in any remaining documents required for financing (income confirmation, down payment confirmation, etc).
Arrange a home inspection.
Receive the lender’s approval on property and final approval letter.
STEP 6 – REMOVE CONDITIONS
At this point, your financing is in place and you’re ready to proceed with the purchase of the property.

STEP 7 – LAWYER’S OFFICE
You’ll be asked to provide any money that’s to be used as your down payment, which is not already on deposit with your realtor. Typically, you’ll go in 1-2 days prior to the completion date.

 

DLC-FCF

 

Understanding Mortgage Trigger Points

Mortgage Tips Gabriel Da Silva 6 Sep

 

As we move into the Fall market, there are some important things you should be aware of.

While inflation has now likely peaked, we will still be dealing with the repercussions from these heightened levels for a while before things balance out. As inflation is corrected, we are also seeing home prices moving back to normal post-pandemic era.

However, we are still anticipating some final rate hikes from the Bank of Canada coming into the fall.

With that in mind, now is an important time to discuss what this means for your mortgage – specifically in regards to trigger points. Another increase in rates on the horizon will put many variable-rate borrowers near their mortgage trigger points – even for fixed payments.

While static payment variable-rate mortgages are not designed to fluctuate with prime, the reality is that a mortgage payment consistent of two components: your principle and your interest. With the existing rates and subsequent increases expected in the fall, the amount paid towards principle has decreased with an increase in the amount of interest on a static mortgage. For instance, if you are paying $2000 a month on your mortgage, only $200 might be going towards the principle with the rest covering interest. An additional increase to the interest rate, means that your interest portion will spike again and may actually exceed your total payment. When this occurs, it is called hitting your trigger rate.

You can calculate your own trigger rate with the following formula: (Payment amount X number of payments per year / balance owing) X 100) to get your trigger rate in percentage.

If you have reached your trigger rate, don’t panic. You are certainly not alone and there are options:

  1. Adjust Your Payment: Firstly, you may choose to adjust your payment amount to ensure that you still have some going towards your principal balance.
  2. Review Your Amortization Schedule: Consider switching your amortization schedule from 20-year to 25-year which would be ideal if you already have equity in your home. However, if you’re already at your maximum amortization for your lender (i.e. 30-year mortgage), you would need to increase your payment.
  3. Switch to a Fixed-Rate Mortgage: Many borrowers are now choosing to opt for a fixed-rate mortgage to avoid the issue of increased interest and trigger rates. Keep in mind, depending on your mortgage product, you may face penalties if you switch your mortgage mid-term. Be sure to discuss any mortgage changes with me before going ahead.
  4. Pay Off Your Mortgage: The final option that is always there is for you to pay off your mortgage entirely. Though don’t fret if this is not possible!

While I understand words like “inflation” and “trigger rates” can be scary, as a dedicated mortgage professional I am here for you. I would be happy to discuss any concerns you have or help explain in more detail how these changes may impact your mortgage and what your options are.

 

Gabriel Da Silva
Dominion Lending Centres – FC Funding
Commercial & Residential Mortgage Agent
Lic.# 10671
Independently owned and operated
www.DLC.mortgage
416.587.3787

 

Understanding Insurance

General Gabriel Da Silva 2 Feb

Not all insurance products are created equal.

One of the most common mistakes homeowners and potential homeowners make is that they hear the word “insurance” and just assume they have it! Well, you might have one kind of insurance, but you might be missing coverage elsewhere.

It is important to understand all the different insurance products to ensure you have proper coverage.

 

 

 


To help you get a better understanding of the insurance, below are the four main insurance product options you will encounter and what they mean:

Default Insurance: This insurance is mandatory for homes where the buyer puts less than 20% down. In fact, default insurance is the reason that lenders accept lower down payments, such as 5% minimum, and actually helps these buyers access comparable interest rates typically offered with larger down payments.

Default insurance typically requires a premium, which is based on the loan-to-value ratio (mortgage loan amount divided by the purchase price). This premium can be paid in a single lump sum, or it can be added to your mortgage and included in your monthly payments.

In Canada, most homeowners know of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which is run by the federal government, and have used them in the past. But did you know? We also have two private companies, Sagen Financial and Canada Guaranty, who can also provide this insurance.

Home (Property & Fire) Insurance: Next, we have another mandatory insurance option, property and fire coverage (or, home insurance, as most people know it by). This is number two on our list as it MUST be in place before you close the mortgage! It is especially important to note that not all homes or properties are insurable, so you will want to review this sooner rather than later.

In addition to protecting against fire damage, home insurance can also cover the contents of your home (depending on your policy). This is important for anyone looking at purchasing condos or townhouses as the strata insurance typically protects the building itself and common areas, as well as your suit “as is”, but it will not account for your personal belongings or any upgrades you made. Be sure to cross-check your strata insurance policy and take out an individual one on your unit to cover the difference.

One final thing to consider is that you may not be covered in the event of a flood or earthquake. You may need to purchase additional coverage to be protected from a natural disaster, depending on your location.

Title Insurance: Another insurance policy that potential homeowners may encounter is known as “title insurance”. When it comes to lenders, this insurance is mandatory with every single lender in Canada requiring you to purchase title insurance on their behalf.

In addition, you have the option of purchasing this for yourself as a homeowner. The benefit of title insurance is that it can protect you from existing liens on the property’s title, but the most common benefit is protection against title fraud. Title fraud typically involves someone using stolen personal information, or forged documents to transfer your home’s title to him or herself – without your knowledge.

Similar to default insurance, title insurance is charged as a one-time fee or a premium with the cost based on the value of your property.

Mortgage Protection Plan: Lastly, we have our mortgage protection plan coverage. This is optional coverage, but one that any agent can tell you is extremely important. The purpose of the mortgage protection plan is to protect you, and your family, should something happen. It acts as a disability and a life insurance policy in regards to your mortgage.

Typically, when you get approval for a mortgage, it is based on family income. If one of the partners in the mortgage is no longer able to contribute due to disability or death, a mortgage protection plan gives you protection for your mortgage payments. However, most homeowners don’t realize that if they buy one of these policies through their financial advisor, life insurance agent or bank, the policy will not be able to move with them to a new lender.

As your mortgage professional, I have an exclusive opportunity with this product through Manulife. This means that, if you purchase a Manulife Mortgage Protection Plan with me, you are protected for the life of your mortgage. You do not have to stay with the same lender! If you move, your protection ports with you instead of other similar products where the plan is specific to that lender. In those cases, should you want to switch lenders, you would need to re-qualify for your mortgage protection plan – possibly at higher rates!

If you have any questions about mortgage insurance or what are the best options for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me! I would be happy to take a look at your existing plan and discuss your needs to help you find the perfect coverage to suit you and your family.

Bank of Canada Still Sees Low Rates Until 2023; Financial Markets Disagree

General Gabriel Da Silva 21 Mar

 

The Bank of Canada delivered welcome news for variable-rate mortgage holders today when it stood by its expectation of no rate hikes until early 2023.

“We remain committed to holding the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2 percent inflation target is sustainably achieved,” reads the BoC statement released following its rate decision. “In the Bank’s January projection, this does not happen until into 2023.”

In its decision, the Bank left its key overnight rate unchanged at 0.25%, where it’s been for the past year.

Despite the economy proving “more resilient than anticipated” during the second wave of the pandemic, resulting in a stronger near-term outlook, the Bank noted there remains “considerable economic slack and a great deal of uncertainty about the evolution of the virus and the path of economic growth.”

As a result, in addition to keeping interest rates low, the Bank said it will maintain its current bond-buying pace of at least $4 billion each week, which it says will continue until the recovery is “well underway.”

Also known as Quantitative Easing, this program has helped keep fixed mortgage rates lower than they otherwise would be. The Bank’s large-scale asset purchases keep upward pressure on bond prices, resulting in lower yields, which lead fixed mortgage rates.

The program has largely achieved its objective of keeping borrowing costs lower for households and businesses for much of the past year, but a recent surge in yields in late February has led to a sustained increase in fixed mortgage rates. Five-year fixed rates are now about 20 to 30 basis points higher than they were just weeks ago.

The Bank indicated in January that it would begin to reduce the pace of bond purchases if growth was in line with its expectations. A number of analysts have suggested that tapering could begin as early as April.

Financial Markets at Odds with BoC’s 2023 Rate-Hike Call

Despite the BoC sticking to its script that it foresees the overnight rate remaining unchanged for the next two years, financial markets see rate hikes closer on the horizon.

As of today, OIS prices tracked by Bloomberg imply about a 40% chance of a 25-bps rate hike by year-end. That could result in today’s prime rate of 2.45% rising to 2.70% and immediately boosting borrowing costs for variable-rate mortgage holders. However, markets are still largely expecting the first rate hikes to begin by mid-to-late 2022.

Bond traders see two to three BoC rate hikes by 2024, resulting in prime rate rising by 50 to 75 bps.

“That kind of monetary tightening is nothing to panic over,” writes RateSpy’s Robert McLister, noting it would be “historically modest” for a rate-hike cycle following a recession. Historically, rates have risen about 200 basis points from their lows in previous policy-tightening cycles.

He adds that those who already have a variable rate could still enjoy another full year of a near-record low prime rate, or “maybe 2+ years if you’re lucky.”

Should the BoC be Worried About Runaway Inflation?

The Bank also touched on the strong 9.6% growth in GDP recorded in the fourth quarter, adding that it now expects Q1 GDP growth to be positive rather than the contraction originally forecast.

Indeed, strong economic growth prospects have been largely responsible for the recent run-up in bond yields, which are driving fixed rates higher. The BoC warned that CPI inflation is likely to move to the top of its 1-3% target band over the next few months, but added that the expected rise “reflects base-year effects from deep price declines in some goods and services at the outset of the crisis a year ago.”

“We expect the BoC will look through a largely energy-driven increase in headline inflation in Q2, but note that risks are tilted to the upside as the economy re-opens with the potential for demand to outpace supply in some sectors,” writes Josh Nye of RBC Economics. “Our base case, though, assumes headline inflation will slip back below 2% by the end of this year and that underlying inflation won’t be sustained at the BoC’s 2% target until 2022.”

TD senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said there are two reasons why inflationary pressures haven’t yet forced the Bank to revisit its level of monetary support through QE.

“One, a more resilient Canadian economy implies less scarring from the pandemic, which suggests growth can be stronger without becoming inflationary. This offers room for the Bank to maintain monetary stimulus at its current level,” Thanabalasingam wrote.

“Two, even while some areas of the economy are outperforming, others are struggling. Over 500,000 workers have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, and until these Canadians find new opportunities, inflationary pressures are likely to be modest.”

 

Steve Huebl  

March 10, 2021

 

Bond Yields Surge, Mortgage Rates Rising in Response

General Gabriel Da Silva 23 Feb

 

Canadian bond yields hit their highest level since April in recent days, and a number of lenders have responded by starting to raise some of their mortgage rates.

CMLS, MCAP and First National were among the non-bank lenders to increase at least some of their rates, with their broker rates rising 10-30 bps.

The 5-year bond yield, which leads fixed mortgage rates, closed at 0.67% on Monday, a 10-month high. As funding costs rise, lender margins get squeezed to the point they can no longer absorb the increase without passing it on to borrowers.

What’s Driving Yields Higher?

There are a number of domestic factors contributing to the run-up in bond yields, but much of the impact is coming from south of the border, according to Dave Larock of Integrated Mortgage Planners.

“The current surge in bond yields is really a U.S. story, with GoC bond yields taken along for the ride…” he writes. “Simply put, the recent run-up is a response to the growing consensus belief that U.S. inflationary pressures will rise more quickly than previously expected.”

North of the border, sentiment is largely positive on the expectation that COVID-19 vaccines will finally spell the end of the pandemic and its restrictive lockdown measures. Not to mention, the economic impact of the Government of Canada’s own proposed $100 billion of post-pandemic stimulus spending.

Will Mortgage Rates Continue to Rise?

Nothing is certain, of course. Bond yields also jumped back in November 2020 on news of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine proving effective in trials, which caused some at the time to suggest rates would start rising. Instead, they continued to fall, right up until last week.

“For my part, I continue to believe that the current run-up in bond yields will be temporary, and it is worth remembering that nothing goes up or down in a straight line,” Larock wrote. But he also acknowledged rates won’t remain low indefinitely.

“The only thing that has been holding lenders back is stiff competitionno one wants to be the first to move higher,” he said. “Regardless, the dam will break very soon.”

Rob McLister, founder of RateSpy.com and mortgage editor at RATESDOTCA, sees this rise in yields as more sustained, saying mortgage rates have “turned the corner.”

“Expect further hikes,” he wrote, noting that bond yields have soared roughly 30 bps since February 1. “There’s still no sign of increases from the big guns (major banks), but if this yield climb persists, it’s just a matter of time [that they will follow].”

How Should Mortgage Shoppers Respond?

For those with a mortgage closing in the next few months and who are considering a fixed mortgage, the experts offer two words of advice: lock in.

“It’s rate-hold time if you’re closing a mortgage between now and the end of June (since most rate guarantees last only 120 days or less),” McLister said.

“Some lenders will milk their current low rates for all they’re worth in order to keep the volume flowing…But don’t bet on that lasting long…unless there’s a further derailment of our economy, which is possible, but less probable the further we get into 2021.”

For those leaning towards a variable rate, those aren’t currently at imminent risk of rising, since they are priced based on prime rate, which rises or falls depending on the Bank of Canada’s overnight target rate movements.

At its last rate decision in January, the Bank of Canada said its overnight target rate of 0.25% will likely remain unchanged until 2023, providing assurances to borrowers that now is still a good time to purchase a home.

Another point to remember is that, despite any small to moderate increases in the 5-year fixed rate, Larock notes that borrowers will still have to qualify based on the government’s 4.79% mortgage stress test.

“So, an increase in real rates won’t have any impact on the amount they can actually borrow,” he wrote. “If you’re in the market for a mortgage today, the usual tips apply. If you will want a fixed rate, which is likely, lock in a pre-approval to guard against rising rate risks.”

 

Steve Huebl

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