Bank of Canada Interest Rate Cut: 5 Ways Consumers May Be Affected
The Bank of Canada surprised financial markets bycutting its key interest rateby 0.25 per cent on Wednesday.
Here are five ways the central banks move will affectCanadian consumers:
1. Cheaper mortgages for some, but not all
This is good news if youre a variable-rate mortgage holder, said Penelope Graham, editor at RateSupermarket.ca.
Variable-rate mortgages are determinedby the prime interest rate, which is in turn linked tothe overnight interest rate the Bank of Canada just lowered.
It remains to be seen just how much [the banks] are going to cut the prime rate, but it will be cut, said Graham.
As of Thursday morning, none of the big banks had trimmed their prime rates.
TD Bank said Thursdayithad decided not to cut its prime rate, a decision that was carefully considered and is based on a number of factors, with the Bank of Canadas overnight rate only being one of them.Royal Bank of Canada said it is considering the impact of the central banks rate cut, but is not changing its mortgage products at this time. Scotiabank told CBC Newsit had not yet made a decision on whetherto cut its prime rate.
Our decision regarding our prime rate is impacted by factors beyond just the Bank of Canadas overnight rate, said MohammedNakhooda, a spokesman for TD Bank. Not only do we operate in a competitive environment, but our prime rate is influenced by the broader economic environment, and its impact on credit.
Holders of fixed-rate mortgages, of course, wont enjoy an immediate cut in monthly payments. Canadians taking out a new fixed-rate mortgage or renewing their old one right now could see rates edge down. Fixed mortgage rates are linked to long-term government bond yields. Those bondyields have already begun to fall in light of the Bank of Canadas interest rate cut.
Graham warned Canadian home buyers that what goes down, must come up.
When rates do eventually go up, when the economy recovers, [mortgageholders] are going to see their monthly debt servicing costs go up, said Graham. If they cant handle that, they could see themselves underwater on their mortgages.
2. Borrowing on lines of credit, credit cards
Like variable-ratemortgages, interest rates for lines of credit are generally tied to a banks prime interest rate, which is usuallytied to the Bank of Canadas overnight rate. That means Canadians borrowing money througha line of credit maysee their borrowing costs to come down,depending on whether their bank cuts its prime interest rate.
Canadians hoping for a break on their credit card bills, though, are out of luck.
Your credit card interest [rate] is actually a stated amount, explained Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Bank. So when the Bank of Canada cuts rates or raises rates it doesnt have an influence on them.
As with mortgages, Canadians shouldnt necessarily take further advantage of cheaper borrowing costs just because they can.
CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal sees a potential risk to the Canadian economy if Canadians start racking up even more debt.A credit-fuelled spending spree is something that the Bank of Canada would like to avoid, saidTal.
Our debt-to-income ratio, at 165 per cent, is relatively high, said Tal. Thats a risk that the Bank of Canada is taking.
3. The loonie flies south
The Canadian dollar fell dramatically against a variety of major currencies as soon as the Bank of Canada made its announcement, and that means Canadians immediately have lesspurchasing power abroad. Thats bad news for snowbirds with homesin the U.S., or any Canadian planning an international trip.
If Canadians are wondering when to transfer money to a foreign bank account, they can try to take advantage of short-term volatility inexchange rates, according toKarlSchamotta, director of foreign exchange research at CambridgeMercantile Group.
Typically exchange rates do not follow a nice linear trend, saidSchamotta.Theres certainly potential to harness any gains that might occur over the coming months, but at the same time its very important to look at that overall backdrop and understand that the Canadian dollar is likely to remain depressed for a long period of time.
How long could thelooniefly so low?Schamottasees a clue inthe Bank of Canadas own outlook, which says lower oil prices will have an unambiguously negative effect on the Canadian economy for 2015 and beyond.
What were looking at here is a relatively bearish outlook for interest rates and for growth in Canada for at least a one- to two-year period here, and that is likely to keep the Canadian dollar contained, saidSchamotta.
That negative outlook could turn more positive, addedSchamotta, if some kind of geopolitical shock causes oil prices to surge once again.
4. No immediate effect on auto loans
Auto loans tend to be fixed-rate, not variable-rate. That means the Bank of Canadas interest rate cut wont have an immediate effect on auto financing, according to Canadian Auto Dealers Association chief economist Michael Hatch.
I dont think that tomorrowautomotive consumers are going to wake up necessarily to easier or harder financing conditions, said Hatch. Its going to remain par for the course.
Still, Hatch didnt rule out cheaper auto financing in the near future.Its a very competitive [interest rate]environment out there.It could well happen in the next few months, going into the spring selling season.
5. A bad time for savers
If you enjoy interest generated from a traditional savings account, the Bank of Canadas move isbad news for those returns.
We saw when the Bank of Canada cut interest rates during the last recession that interest rates on savings accounts went down almost linearly with the decline in the Bank of Canada overnight rate, said Randall Bartlett, senior economist at TD Economics.
Theres not going to be a massive change, but at the same time ifyoure notearning much interest before, youre going to be earning less interest now, added Bartlett.
This could be a good time for savers to think about changing their strategy, said Bartlett.
As interest on things like savings accountsand government debt comes down, at the same time it does provide incentives for people to invest in other types of assets that have higherreturns, said Bartlett. Things like stocks, ETFs, mutual funds tend to benefit from rate cuts as businesses take advantage of cheaper credit to make investments that could improve their share prices down the line.
Toronto index stopped trending down in January
In January the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price IndexTM rose 0.3% from the previous month, a tic higher than the historical average for January and a second consecutive monthly increase. However, only four of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed showed gains the first time since January 2016 that a rise in the Composite Index has had so little breadth. It was due mainly to a second straight monthly jump of the index for the important Vancouver market (1.2% in January on the heels of 1.3% in December). The Toronto index rose 0.2%, the Victoria index 1.0% and the Montreal index edged up 0.1%. All the other component indexes were down on the month: Hamilton (0.2%), Ottawa-Gatineau ( 0.2%), Edmonton (0.3%), Calgary (0.3%), Halifax (-1.0%), Winnipeg (1.1%) and Quebec City (2.0%). For Montreal, it was a 13th monthly increase, and for Hamilton it was a fifth decrease in a row. The rise of the Toronto index was the first in six months. The raw (unsmoothed) Toronto index  on which it is based was up for a third consecutive month. The firming of the smoothed index is due entirely to condo dwellings. The smoothed index for non-condo units fell in January for a sixth straight month, bringing its cumulative decline to 9.6%.
Click here for full release. https://housepriceindex.ca/2018/02/toronto-index-stopped-trending-down-in-january/
2018 CMHC Prospective Home Buyers Survey
In October 2017, CMHC surveyed 2,507 prospective home buyers on-line. Respondents were all prime household decision-makers who intend to purchase a new home within the next two years, including approximately 1,500 First-Time Buyers, 500 current owners, and 500 previous owners.
The survey results highlight that:
First-Time Buyers and Previous Owners share the same top motivator to purchase a home: they want to stop renting. Improved accessibility (physical obstacles and barriers) and investment opportunity were also noted as top motivators across all groups. Changes to mortgage regulations and concerns about possible future interest rate increases were not among the top motivators.
Over four-in-ten First-Time Buyers and Previous Owners say they would delay their home purchase if they were not able to find their ideal home, with a fairly similar proportion saying they would be willing to compromise on the size of the home and location.
The majority of future home buyers intend to obtain a mortgage to finance their home purchase, with First-Time Buyers showing higher incidence compared to Previous Owners and Current Owners.
Across all future home buyers groups, more than six-in-ten say they are likely to have a financial buffer in case their expenses change in the future. Furthermore, the majority of future home buyers, especially Current Owners, agree that they feel confident they have the necessary tools and information to manage their mortgage and debt load.
Among all groups, the two most common actions completed one to two years prior to the purchase of a home were saving for a down payment and determining what type of home to buy. On the other hand, in the last three months before purchasing, about two-in ten of prospective buyers pre-qualify for a mortgage.
About one-in-four prospective home buyers stated that they would be very likely to consider delaying their purchase in the event of an increase in interest rates.