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.
Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1 ¾ per cent
The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent.
The Bank Rate is correspondingly 2 per cent and the deposit rate is 1 per cent. The global economic expansion continues to moderate, with growth forecast to slow to 3.4 per cent in 2019 from 3.7 per cent in 2018. In particular, growth in the United States remains solid but is expected to slow to a more sustainable pace through 2019. However, there are increasing signs that the US-China trade conflict is weighing on global demand and commodity prices.
Global benchmark prices for oil have been about 25 per cent lower than assumed in the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR). The lower prices primarily reflect sustained increases in US oil supply and, more recently, increased worries about global demand. These worries among market participants have also been reflected in bond and equity markets.
The drop in global oil prices has a material impact on the Canadian outlook, resulting in lower terms of trade and national income. As well, transportation constraints and rising production have combined to push up oil inventories in the west and exert even more downward pressure on Canadian benchmark prices. While price differentials have narrowed in recent weeks following announced mandatory production cuts in Alberta, investment in Canadas oil sector is projected to weaken further.
Largest portions of household budgets go to shelter and transportation
Shelter remained the largest budget item for households in 2017, at 29.2% of their total consumption of goods and services. Spending on transportation, the second-largest expenditure category, accounted for 19.9% of total consumption, followed by food expenditures at 13.4%.
Households spent an average of $18,637 on shelter, up 3.4% from 2016. Included in this total was an average of $16,846 paid for principal residence (which includes rent, mortgage payments, repairs and maintenance costs, property taxes and utilities) and an average of $1,791 for other accommodation, such as hotels and owned secondary residences.
In 2017, two out of every three Canadian households owned their home, and more than half of homeowners had a mortgage. Homeowners with a mortgage spent an average of $25,904 on their principal residence, compared with $9,642 for homeowners without a mortgage and $13,499 for renters.
Canadian households paid $12,707 for transportation in 2017, up 6.7% from 2016. They spent an average of $11,433 on private transportation, which includes the purchase of cars, trucks and vans, as well as their operating costs. Households, on average, spent $2,142 on gasoline and other fuels in 2017, up 9.8% from 2016, reflecting the 11.8% annual average increase in gasoline prices. Spending on public transportation, which covers public transit, taxis, intercity buses, trains and air fares, remained relatively unchanged at $1,274.
In 2017, 84.0% of households owned or leased a vehicle. Vehicle ownership was highest in rural areas (94.9%) and lowest in cities with a population of at least one million residents (79.0%).