1 Jun

Fixed Versus Variable Interest!

General

Posted by: Raymond Ng

Hey folks this is a great topic and a powerful read from one of my colleagues… check it out. Raymond

Fixed Versus Variable Interest!

Fixed Interest Rates

This is usually the more popular choice for clients when it comes to deciding on which type of interest rate they want.

There are many reasons why, but the most unsurprising answer is always safety. With a fixed interest rate, you know exactly what you are paying every month and you know that the amount of interest being charged for the term of your mortgage will not increase and it will not decrease.

Fixed interest rates can be taken on 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 5-year, as well as 7 and 10-year terms. Please note, term is not meant to be confused with amortization. When you have a 5-year term but a 25-year amortization- the term is when your mortgage is up for renewal, but it will still take you the 25 years to pay off the entire debt.

The biggest knock on fixed interest rates when it comes to mortgages, especially 5-year terms, is the potential penalty. If you want to break your mortgage and pay it out, switch lenders, take advantage of a lower rate, or anything like this and your term is not over, there will be a penalty. With a 5-year term a fixed rate penalty can be anywhere from $1,000- $20,000 or more.

It all depends on the lender’s current rates, what yours currently is, the length of time remaining on your term, and the balance outstanding. The formula used is called an IRD (interest rate differential) and the penalty owed will either be the amount this formula produces or three month’s interest- which ever is greater.

Fixed interest rates, especially 5-year terms can be the most favourable. They are safe, competitive interest rates that you will not need to worry about changing for the term of your mortgage. However, if you do not have your mortgage for the entire term, it could hurt you.

Variable Rate Interest

The Bank of Canada sets what they call a target overnight rate and that interest rate influences the prime rate a lender offers consumers. A variable rate, is either the lender’s prime lending rate plus or minus another number.

For example, let us say someone has a variable interest rate of prime minus 0.70. If their lender’s prime lending rate is 5.00% in this example, they have an effective interest rate of 4.30%. However, if for example the prime rate changed to 6.00%, the same person’s interest rate would now be 5.30%. Written on a mortgage, these interest rates would look like P-0.7.

Variable interest rates are usually only available on 5-year terms with some lenders offering the possibility of taking a 3-year variable interest rate.

When it comes to penalties, variable interest rates are almost always calculated using 3-months interest, NOT the IRD formula used to calculate the penalty on a fixed term mortgage. This ends up being significantly less expensive as breaking a 5-year term mortgage at a fixed rate of 3.49% with a balance of $500,000 will cost approximately $15,000. That is if you use the current progression of interest rates and broke it at the beginning of year 3. A variable interest rate of Prime Minus 0.5% with prime rate at 3.45% will only cost $3,800. That is a difference of $11,200.

You can expect to pay this kind of amount for the safety of a fixed rate mortgage over 5-years if you break it early.

Which one is best?

It completely depends on the person. Your loan’s term (length of time before it either expires or is up for renewal) can be anywhere from a year to 5 years, or longer. A first-time home buyer typically has a mortgage term of 5 years. Within those 5 years, the prime rate could move up or down, but you won’t know by how much or when until it happens.

Recently, variable rates have been lower than fixed rates, however, they run the risk of changing. With fixed interest rates, you know exactly what your payments will be and what it will cost you every month regardless of a lender’s prime rate changing.

If you go to the site www.tradingeconomics.com/canada/bank-lending-rate you can see the 10-year history of lender’s prime lending rate. Because lenders usually change their prime lending rate together to match one another (except for TD), this graph is a good representation.

As you can see, from 2008 to 2018, the interest rate has dropped from 5.75% to 2.25% all the way back up to 3.45%.

Canada has had this prime lending rate since 1960, and in that time it has seen an all-time high of 22.75% (1981) and all-time low of 2.25% (2010) (tradingeconomics.com). Whether you want the risk of variable or the stability of a fixed rate is up to you, but allow this information to be the basis of your decision based on your own personal needs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker.

Ryan Oake

Ryan Oake

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional

30 May

How to Navigate The Mortgage Rate Wars

General

Posted by: Raymond Ng

How to Navigate The Mortgage Rate Wars

You may have heard that rates are changing, and that is true. They don’t call it war for nothing and you need an expert by your side!

Think of mortgage brokers as your loyal soldiers. What we are seeing is exactly what we anticipated when prime rate goes up and discounts go down. Confused? Don’t be, variable rates are based on prime and both Bank of Canada Prime and Bank Prime are different.

What the new discount means is what it means – they anticipate prime to go up higher.

With current regulations, borrowers qualify for more mortgages on a variable rates! This is a shift from the previous policy where more Canadians were having to take fixed rates to qualify for the most.

These new discounts on new mortgages getting taken out there discount is lower off of the bank’s prime rate- this does not apply to an existing mortgage

Did you notice earlier I said the bank’s prime rate, you would think they are all the same… right?

This is not the case. In November of 2016 one Canadian lender broke the trend of their counterparts and raised their internal prime to immediately impact their existing customers by adding to their amortization. This discount below was for new clients they increased the discount so it looked bigger.

It’s important to note – each lender has unique criteria to be met to get these offers: some only for purchases, some only with switches, some only certain amortizations, and some only certain property types. The list goes on!

Remember your broker shops all these lenders without bias, while protecting your credit score to assist you in finding the best one. It’s important that we evaluate the following criteria with these lenders- here is an example of three lenders:

Lender one

  • Bank has a higher Prime than anyone else
  • No change to payment
  • Increases amortization  which can put into effect a trigger clause- cash call in on mortgage or forced pre-payment and other costs such as appraisal at your expense
  • Not portable
  • Does have a 12 month penalty payback if getting a larger mortgage at new rates! Best one!
  • Have to go to branch to lock in and then be subject to their IRD (usually 3-5% of balance pending where you are in your term).
  • Based on history this lender is generally the first to raise their rates and last to decrease

 

Lender two

  • Prime rate consistent with all lenders
  • Change to payment so amortization doesn’t increase
  • NO trigger clause
  • Have to go to branch to lock in and face large IRD between 3-5%
  • Not portable but will refund you within 6 months if the mortgage is larger and will get rate available at that time

 

Lender three

  • Prime consistent with all lenders
  • Change to payment so amortization doesn’t increase
  • NO trigger clause
  • lender will pay back penalty within 3 months of getting a larger mortgage with them
  • your mortgage expert can assist you with lock in
  • If you lock in they have the lowest penalties in the country to break your mortgage in the future, generally 1-1.5% of the balance

With seven-in-10 mortgages breaking before the term is over, this should be weighted very carefully.

Let me demonstrate the following:

A mortgage that gets locked in with first or second lender above at $500,000, by the third year the cost to break a mortgage will be between $15,000 and $25,000. With the third lender the cost would be between $5,000 and $7,500.

What to do with this info?

These new wars apply to new mortgages. If you have a mortgage with a discount less than .50, a renewal upcoming, looking at accessing your equity for home renovations or to consolidate debt and you have a variable rate, it may be time to run the numbers to see if taking a new variable rate mortgage is beneficial for you. One of the significant benefits of having a VRM is to get out at any time with only three months interest penalty (unless a restrictive product was taken for a better rate or had a sale only clause).

As you can see we have only scratched the surface in terms of the differences. There are many other differences and mainly you have to consider as a consumer, do you want to be calling a bank branch and play Russian roulette with the education level and sales goals of the person who guides you through deciding what to do with your biggest asset? Or would you rather have a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional who is in the front lines proactively guiding you and assessing the economic factors to give you personalized advice based on their experience and knowledge of the mortgage industry.

Depends on what you value most!

Angela Calla

Angela Calla

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional