As I’m sure many of you have heard, for the first time in 7 years the Bank of Canada has raised its key lending rate by 0.25%, which ultimately impacts variable rate mortgages & lines of credit, as prime rate will go up accordingly. This increase comes at a time when Canada is experiencing the lowest inflation level in nearly 20 years & in that sense, this move breaks from tradition. It is clear the Bank of Canada wants to raise rates pre-emptively to try claw their way out of this ultra low rate environment they have created & regain some ammo while they can before another slowdown hits the economy.
What does this mean to you? With the exception of one instance in the late 80s, the variable rate has always been a cheaper path than the 5 year fixed. While you do have the option to “lock in” to a fixed rate, you would be doing so into a higher rate & payment than you have currently.
Those riding the variable rate train have benefitted from some of the lowest interest rates in Canada’s history over the past 9 years. While, psychologically, a rate increase can drive many to panic, keep in mind that a 0.25% increase in rate translates to $12 / month for every $100k of mortgage (amortized over 25 years). In 2010 prime rate rose to 3%, remained there for 4½ years then dropped to 2.7%.
One of the greatest benefits of a variable rate mortgage is exit strategy as the penalty to break the term is just 3 months of interest. Under that light, a fixed rate mortgage can often be riskier path. If there is any uncertainty over the remainder of your term, this is something I urge you to weigh heavily.
There is no shortage of uncertainty in our world right now, both politically & economically. Central banks around the world find themselves in the extremely difficult position of needing to unwind their balance sheets & raise interest rates at a time when core measures are not exactly strong. The deflationary headwinds outweigh the tailwinds in my view so until there are greater reasons for optimism, my advice is to stay the course.
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch.