Ellen Roseman: Mortgage tips in an uncertain market
- April 28, 2010 9:16 AM |
- By Ellen Roseman
Ellen Roseman is a business writer at the Toronto Star.Home buyers are out in force this spring, hoping to get into the real estate market before interest rates start shooting up.
Last week, the Bank of Canada eliminated its promise to keep rates steady until June 30, clearing the way for an earlier rate hike. Many economists expect one by June 1.
Mortgage rates are already rising, however. That's because lenders use the bond market, not the Bank of Canada's overnight rate, in pricing long-term loans.
Also, Ottawa has introduced new lending rules that make you qualify for a five-year rate, even if you're getting a variable rate mortgage or a fixed rate for one to four years.
This rule applies to home buyers with insured mortgages whose down payment is less than 20 per cent. But most big banks now use the qualifying rate (as it's called) for conventional mortgages as well.
Does it make a difference? Absolutely. Some borrowers may find their income has to be about 25 per cent higher than it did before.
Here's an example. If you were taking out a $250,000 mortgage at a variable rate, you could have qualified for a rate of 3.84 per cent before April 19. This assumes a 5 per cent downpayment and 35-year amortization.
Today, lenders will demand you qualify with a rate of 6.1 per cent, which is what they currently charge for five years.
Some smaller lenders have said they will not be qualifying conventional mortgages with the five-year posted rate. Instead, they'll measure borrowers against a lower rate, such as a three-year fixed, the current standard.
Here's my advice if you're taking out a mortgage or renewing in the next few months.
One, consider locking in for the next few years. And if you still want to float, watch the mortgage rates carefully and get ready to lock in if you see lots of upward movement.
Two, hedge your bets. Many banks offer a mortgage that combines fixed and floating rates. Some let you divide up your mortgage into terms of one to five years.
Finally, shop around at both banks and smaller lenders. And use a mortgage broker who's skilled at negotiating and can get you a better rate than you can get on your own.
- Andrew Wahl (19)
- Andrew Willis (13)
- Bob LeDrew (10)
- Dan Noel (1)
- David Baskin (18)
- David Berman (1)
- David Colman (14)
- Deborah Yedlin (29)
- Duncan Stewart (29)
- Ellen Roseman (90)
- Jacqueline Drew (10)
- Jim Bray (25)
- Jim Jubak (6)
- John Gilchrist (4)
- Kelly VanBuskirk (6)
- Kira Vermond (73)
- Loraleigh Kovacik (9)
- Michael Hlinka (183)
- Peter Vincent (16)
- Pierre Battah (1)
- Todd Hirsch (1)
All News blogs
- Kira Vermond: Resolutions for Work
- New Year, new you. At least that's what you're shooting for in 2012 at your workplace. This is the year that you're going to ditch your wallflower ways, speak up in meetings and take the initiative.... Continue reading this post
- Ellen Roseman: Air Miles-Use them or lose them!
- If you're collecting Air Miles, you now have only five years to use them. And if you don't redeem in time, you'll lose them.... Continue reading this post