Already ranked as one of the most unaffordable cities in the world, Vancouver's heated real estate market could get a further push, after the Bank of Canada cut the overnight lending interest rate to 0.75 per cent.
The rate had been at one per cent since September 2010 and the cut shocked markets on Wednesday. It will likely result in lower interest rates for variable rate mortgages, lines of credit and other loans that float with prime rates.
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"That should provide a nice little potential boost for the housing market, not just in Vancouver but the rest of British Columbia as well," said Bryan Yu, senior economist with Central 1 Credit Union.
But it depends how lenders respond to the Bank of Canada's surprise interest rate drop with changes to mortgage rates, said Yu.
He expects the rate cut will put "mild downward pressure" on fixed and variable mortgage rates, but not make big waves on the housing market.
"This doesn't change our outlook for Vancouver's housing market significantly," said Yu.
The credit union's recent B.C. housing outlook forecast the median detached house price would climb by four per cent in greater Vancouver — continuing to outpace growth in condo prices.
Small change in mortgage payments
Vancouver mortgage broker Michelle Byman said if lenders cut their rates, a quarter point change won't make a big difference.
"It will help people that are buying," said Byman. "But I don't think that's going to fuel anything more than what's already going on in the market."
On a $100,000, 25-year mortgage, lowering the rate from 3 per cent to 2.75 per cent would only cut someone's $473.23 monthly payment by $13, said Byman.
Even on a $500,000 mortgage, a quarter point drop would only mean paying $63 less per month, she said.
Byman said 2010 federal policy changes intended to turn down the heat on Canada's housing market affect the buyers she deals with.
In particular, the government requirement that borrowers qualify for the posted rate for a fixed five-year mortgage — even if that's higher than the rate they'll pay — limits how far buyers can extend themselves, said Byman.