Got a small mortgage balance owing? Why you'll likely get a lousy rate.
Special to The Globe and Mail -PublishedSunday, Nov. 22, 2015 5:45PM EST -Last updatedMonday, Nov. 23, 2015 8:12AM EST
Picture this: You spend 15 or 20 years slaving to pay down your mortgage. Youve built up 80 per cent equity in your home and you have just five years left until its free and clear.
After all that effort, after all that built-up equity, you deserve the lowest mortgage rate around, right?
Perhaps, but thats not how it works in our mortgage market. The people rewarded with the lowest rates are the ones with big, fat six-figure mortgages, and there are two main reasons for it. The first one wont surprise you, but the second one might.
The No. 1 reason that lenders covet monster loans is profit. If youve got a giant mortgage, banks and credit unions figure youll have more assets to invest with them, more savings to rot in their 1-per-cent savings accounts, more purchases to put on their credit cards and credit lines, more appetite for insurance and so on.
Thats why its easier to grind down a banks mortgage specialist on a $700,000 loan than one for $70,000. (One exception is when you have a small mortgage, plus a large amount of non-mortgage business with that lender, and you threaten to leave them.)
Brokers are the same way. They earn commissions just like bankers. And the bigger the mortgage, the bigger the commission.
Thats why some of the best deals on rate-comparison websites say things such as: For mortgages of $300,000 or more. Mortgage minimums are becoming more and more common.
For most brokers, one $300,000 mortgage is better than doing six for $50,000. Of course, six $50,000 clients means six potential referral sources instead of one. But it also means exerting six times the effort to close those mortgages, and time is a scarce resource for brokers.
The second reason small-time borrowers do worse in the rate department is risk. Its one of the most counterintuitive things in the mortgage industry, but someone with a puny 5-per-cent down payment often gets a better rate than someone whos been pounding down his or her mortgage for decades.
Thats crazy, you may say. Isnt my mortgage less risky if I have a huge amount of home equity?
Technically, yes. But if youre dealing with a lender who sells mortgages to investors, thats not always reality. Mortgage investors prefer the safety of insured mortgages. Those are mortgages where an insurer, backed by the Government of Canada, guarantees to pay off the balance if the borrower defaults.
Theres a cost for this insurance, and when the mortgage is less than 80 per cent of the property value, the lender must typically cough up this fee. By comparison, when the loan-to-value ratio is more than 80 per cent, it is the borrower who pays that insurance premium. For lenders who sell their mortgages to investors, avoiding the cost of insurance lets them offer slightly lower rates usually about one-tenth of a percentage point lower.
Quick tip: If youre renewing a mortgage that you paid to insure, youve built up 20 per cent equity or more and youre switching lenders, provide your insurance policy number to your new lender or broker. Keeping your default insurance in force costs you nothing and gives you a wider selection of lenders and rates when you renew the next time.
So, where can diligent borrowers go for a deal on a mini-mortgage? Most people just renew with their existing lender. Saving one-tenth of a per cent interest on a $50,000 mortgage with a five-year term and amortization is only about $130. Unless you need to refinance or add a secured line of credit, the trivial savings dont offset the hassle of reapplying elsewhere, collecting your documentation, getting your home appraised (which you must often pay for), meeting with a lawyer or closing agent, paying your lenders discharge fee and so on.
None of this should stop you from trying to better your rate. At the very least, use competitors rate quotes as a bargaining chip, either with your existing lender or with a broker who doesnt have a mortgage minimum. And if you have loads of other business with your bank or credit union, definitely use that as leverage. There are always other lenders who would welcome all of your banking business with open arms.
Most First-Time Homebuyers Spending All They Can Afford
Millennials have made up a significant portion of homebuyers in recent years and based on the 2018 Mortgage Consumer Survey, they continue to do so, representing just under half (49%) of first-time buyer respondents. Although this is a decrease from 60% in 2017 and 58% in 2016, Millennials continue to influence and shape the homebuying and mortgage process.
Heres more of what we learned about Millennials and first-time buyers as a whole, powered by the 2018 Mortgage Consumer Survey.
What does the typical first-time buyer profile look like? Forty percent are married, 80% are employed full-time and about one-quarter (26%) have a household income between $60,000 and $90,000. A strong percentage of them were born outside of Canada, with 22% identifying as newcomers to Canada. Mortgage professionals can help meet the unique needs of newcomers with the support of CMHCs homebuying information which is available in 8 different languages.
The top 2 reasons first-time buyers bought a home: they wanted to get a first home and they felt financially ready. Although certain urban markets continue to exhibit high house prices and other barriers to entry, the survey found that 61% of first-time buyers bought a single-detached home. In fact, single-detached home was the top housing type purchased in all regions across Canada, except in British Columbia where condominium apartment was the most popular housing type.
The vast majority (85%) of first-time buyers spent the most they could afford on their home, compared to 68% of repeat buyers. This indicates that first-time buyers, including Millennials, may be stretching themselves financially to purchase their home. When it comes to the down payment, savings from outside an RRSP was the main source for first-time buyers. This suggest there is an opportunity to further educate first-time buyers about other options to help fund their down payment, such as the Government of Canadas Home Buyers Plan (HBP).
To get assistance with the mortgage process, first-time buyers contacted, on average, 2 brokers and 3 lenders. First-time buyer satisfaction levels with mortgage brokers and lenders remains high. However, mortgage professionals could further increase satisfaction levels by conducting more post-transaction follow-up and by providing clients with more information on closing costs, house purchase fees, interest rates, and steps involved in buying a home. CMHCs Step by Step guide is a valuable tool for mortgage professionals to share with homebuyers to ensure they feel confident throughout the entire homebuying process.
Bank of Canada increases overnight rate target to 1 ¾ per cent
The Bank of Canada today increased its target for the overnight rate to 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 2 per cent and the deposit rate is 1 per cent.
The global economic outlook remains solid. The US economy is especially robust and is expected to moderate over the projection horizon, as forecast in the Banks July Monetary Policy Report (MPR). The new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will reduce trade policy uncertainty in North America, which has been an important curb on business confidence and investment. However, trade conflict, particularly between the United States and China, is weighing on global growth and commodity prices. Financial market volatility has resurfaced and some emerging markets are under stress but, overall, global financial conditions remain accommodative.
The Canadian economy continues to operate close to its potential and the composition of growth is more balanced. Despite some quarterly fluctuations, growth is expected to average about 2 per cent over the second half of 2018. Real GDP is projected to grow by 2.1 per cent this year and next before slowing to 1.9 per cent in 2020.
The projections for business investment and exports have been revised up, reflecting the USMCA and the recently-approved liquid natural gas project in British Columbia. Still, investment and exports will be dampened by the recent decline in commodity prices, as well as ongoing competitiveness challenges and limited transportation capacity. The Bank will be monitoring the extent to which the USMCA leads to more confidence and business investment in Canada.
Household spending is expected to continue growing at a healthy pace, underpinned by solid employment income growth. Households are adjusting their spending as expected in response to higher interest rates and housing market policies. In this context, household credit growth continues to moderate and housing activity across Canada is stabilizing. As a result, household vulnerabilities are edging lower in a number of respects, although they remain elevated.
CPI inflation dropped to 2.2 per cent in September, in large part because the summer spike in airfares was reversed. Other temporary factors pushing up inflation, such as past increases in gasoline prices and minimum wages, should fade in early 2019. Inflation is then expected to remain close to the 2 per cent target through the end of 2020. The Banks core measures of inflation all remain around 2 per cent, consistent with an economy that is operating at capacity. Wage growth remains moderate, although it is projected to pick up in the coming quarters, consistent with the Banks latest Business Outlook Survey.
Given all of these factors, Governing Council agrees that the policy interest rate will need to rise to a neutral stance to achieve the inflation target. In determining the appropriate pace of rate increases, Governing Council will continue to take into account how the economy is adjusting to higher interest rates, given the elevated level of household debt. In addition, we will pay close attention to global trade policy developments and their implications for the inflation outlook.