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Bank of Canada

Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come

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Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come

 

Bank of Canada

The Bank of Canada held its target for the overnight rate at 1.75 per cent on Jan. 9, where it has been since October 2018, and is lowering its growth forecast this year for Canada and around the world.

After raising the rate three times last year, some experts expected the Bank would do so again, either in late 2018 or early this year.

So, what does this latest non-action mean, and what can Canadian consumers expect in the coming months?

“The Bank gave several reasons for its decision to keep rates steady,” says Rubina Ahmed-Haq, personal finance guru and Homes Publishing columnist. “This includes lower oil prices, a weaker outlook for the global economy and Canada’s economy slowing more than expected.

Weaker investment

“It was a surprise that market pessimism did not come up,” she adds. “Despite stock market volatility making headlines for the last two months, there was no mention of the wild swings investors have been experiencing. The Bank did talk about weaker consumer spending and housing investment. This could be because of Canadian investors watching their portfolios and not feeling as confident in their spending.”

Sill, Ahmed-Haq says, the Bank remains very rosy on Canada’s economy, noting it has performing well overall. In its statement, the Bank says, “Growth has been running close to potential, employment growth has been strong and unemployment is at a 40-year low.” But still not enough to raise rates at this time.

Energy sector a concern

“The energy sector has been a concern for the Bank for some time now, but there seems to be a new focus on the housing sector, especially on the impact of mortgage guidelines changes and the five rate increases that have happened in the past 18 months,” James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and President of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage, told Homes Publishing.

Ahmed-Haq and Laird agree we should still expect higher rates in the coming months.

“The policy interest rate will need to rise over time into a neutral range to achieve the inflation target,” says Ahmed-Haq.

Rate hikes to come

Forecasters are now predicting two rate hikes this year, is down from earlier predictions of as many as three rates hikes in 2019.

“The Bank’s moderated outlook in the last two announcements has caused bond yields in Canada to drop lower than any point in 2018,” says Laird. “However, we are yet to see a corresponding decrease in mortgage rates. We would advise consumers to keep a close eye on mortgage rates in coming weeks.”

 

Highlights from the Bank’s announcement

  • Bank of Canada maintains target for overnight rate at 1.75 per cent
  • Canadian economy performing well overall
  • Employment growth strong
  • Unemployment rate at 40-year low
  • Canadian consumption spending and housing investment weaker than expected
  • Housing markets adjusting to municipal and provincial measures, new mortgage guidelines and higher interest rates
  • Household spending to be dampened by slow growth in oil-producing provinces
  • Real GDP growth forecast at 1.7 per cent for 2019
  • Growth of 2.1 per cent forecast for 2020

 

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Debt

Paying down debt a top priority in 2019

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Paying down debt a top priority in 2019

Debt

It may be a new year, but not necessarily a happy one for everyone. A new CIBC poll finds paying down debt is the top financial priority for Canadians in 2019. Almost a third (29 per cent) say they’ve taken on more debt in the past 12 months, citing day-to-day expenses as the key reason for piling up debt.

“Debt weighs heavily on Canadians, so it’s no surprise that Canadians continue to put debt concerns at the top of their list of priorities each year,” says Jamie Golombek, managing director, CIBC Financial Planning and Advice. “Debt can be a useful tool for achieving long term goals such as home ownership or funding education, but if you’re turning to debt to make ends meet, it may be time for cash-flow planning instead.”

Key poll findings:

  • Canadians say their top sources of debt are: credit card (45 per cent), mortgage (31 per cent), car loan (23 per cent), line of credit (22 per cent), personal loan (11 per cent)
  • 28 per cent say they have no debt
  • Top concerns are rising inflation (64 per cent), low Canadian dollar (34 per cent), and rising interest rates (31 per cent)

While two-in-five (39 per cent) Canadians worry that they’re forsaking their savings by focusing too much on their debt, the vast majority still (84 per cent) believe that it’s better to pay down debt than build savings. This poll finding comes as Statistics Canada recently reported that the average Canadian household owes $1.78 for every dollar of disposable income, even as the pace of borrowing continues to slow.

“There’s rarely enough money to do everything, so it’s critical to make the most of the money you earn by prioritizing both sides of your balance sheet – not debt or savings, but both,” says Golombek. “It boils down to trade-offs, and balancing your priorities both now and down the road. The idea of being debt-free may help you sleep better at night now, but it may cost you more in the long run when you consider the missed savings and tax-sheltered growth.”

Tips to make your money go further in 2019 

  • Write down your income and expenses for a three-month period to determine if your cash flow is positive, neutral or negative
  • Make a plan. If you’re cash-flow positive, use the extra cash to pay off high-interest debt – not your mortgage – first. Use the surplus to build long term savings in an RRSP or TFSA, and if you have kids, put away a little extra in an RESP. If your long-term savings are on track, consider increasing your mortgage payments. If you’re cash-flow neutral or negative, look for ways to cut expenses or lower interest by consolidating debt at a lower rate
  • Automate your plan. Time your savings or debt-repayment plan with your payroll. Putting money directly to your goals right off the top can help you both achieve your goals and get by with less
  • Review and prioritize your goals. You likely have many goals competing for your wallet. Meet with an advisor to build a financial plan that gets you on track to achieving what’s important to you today and the many years ahead

Source: CIBC

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Where are interest rates headed in 2019?

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Where are interest rates headed in 2019?

The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates five times since July 2017. As of the Oct. 24 announcement, the overnight lending rate is 1.75 per cent and prime at commercial banks is 3.95 per cent.

Higher rates means money is getting more expensive to borrow and if you have a variable mortgage rate your monthly payments have gone up.

In its latest announcement the Bank of Canada indicated the various reasons they raised rates. This included the finalized trade agreement that replaces NAFTA called the United States Mexico Canada Agreement or USMCA.

In its press release after the announcement the Bank states that the USMCA agreement will help “reduce trade policy uncertainty in North America, which has been an important curb on business confidence and investment.” The trade agreement was the biggest roadblock for the Bank to raise rates. This was evident when they held rates steady for the several past announcements while the U.S. Federal Reserve continued to hike its benchmark rate. Although not always the case, in most instances, if the Fed raises rates, Canada does as well.

The Bank also points to a solid global economic outlook as a reason to hike rates. Here at home it says “The Canadian economy continues to operate close to its potential and the composition of growth is more balanced… Real GDP is projected to grow by 2.1 per cent this year and next before slowing to 1.9 per cent in 2020.”

After the announcement, Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes noted that the BoC statement shows, “Policymakers are clearly upbeat on the outlook, and assuming the economy doesn’t face any big speed bumps, expect rates to continue to push higher at least through early 2019.”

BMO economics predicts three rates hikes in 2019. In January, April and July.

So as rates are expected to rise, what costs can Canadians expect to go up?

Mortgages

Anyone with a variable mortgage rate or any loan with a floating rate, like a line of credit, is already seeing their costs rise. Commercial banks usually hike rates as soon as the Central Bank does. If you have a variable rate mortgage on your condominium, you may want to inquire about fixing your rate today. If you’re worried about your affordability, by fixing your rate you will know how much your payments will be for the remainder of the term.

Savings rates

One of the positives of a higher rates is we get better return on the money we’re putting away. This includes money we have in our savings account. Fixed income rates will rise as well and banks are able to offer a higher rate of return on any money you invest with them.

Stronger dollar

A rate hike almost always means our currency gets stronger. This can be great for Canadians travelling abroad as you get more money during currency exchange. But a stronger dollar can spell trouble for companies trying to export their goods and services. The stronger dollar makes it more expensive for any foreign buyer.

Life could cost thousands more

A report by Environics Analytics released after the October rate hike reveals in the long run the interest rate hike could cost Canadians thousands. They say, so far, the effects of higher rates has been limited to short-term debt and variable rate debt. But when fixed rate debt starts to catch up life will get more expensive. They say “the true long-term effect of these interest rate hikes will be approximately $2,516 a year per household or 5.0 per cent of discretionary income.”

The sense from economists is interest rates are expected to rise going into 2019. If you’re concerned you need to stress test your finances, calculate how much your debt would cost if rates were 2 or 3 percentage points higher. If you find that might be unaffordable make the changes now to prepare for what seems to be inevitable.

Rubina Ahmed-Haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney

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Mortgage Rates web

Interest rate hikes may not cost you as much as you think

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Interest rate hikes may not cost you as much as you think

Mortgage Rates web

By Wayne Karl

When the Bank of Canada announced an interest rate hike  on Oct. 24 – and within hours all of Canada’s major banks followed suit in hiking their prime lending rates – consumers largely groaned.

All of CIBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, RBC Royal Bank and BMO Bank of Montreal almost immediately issued virtually the same statement, word for word: “(Insert bank name here) announced that it has increased its prime lending rate by 25 basis points from 3.70 per cent to 3.95 per cent, effective Oct. 25, 2018.”

Yes, the numbers, too, are identical.

BoC had already raised its influential overnight rate target three times since July 2017, to 1.5 per cent from 0.75 per cent, and now this most recent hike to 1.75 per cent, while hinting that further increases are likely.

For mortgage holders, though, the increases may not cost you as much as you fear.

Fixed rates

The majority of Canadian mortgage holders are on fixed-rate products, which is why a more moderate pace of rate increases likely won’t impact the market significantly, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

Nearly half of existing mortgages in Canada will come up for renewal in 2018, according to a data release from CIBC Capital Markets. However, despite having to renew their mortgage in a rising interest rate environment, a borrower with a five-year mortgage rate may be able to get a better deal on their mortgage renewal today than when they entered the housing market five years ago.

According to calculations from mortgage rate comparison website  Ratehub.ca:

The best five-year fixed rate in September 2013 was 3.29 per cent. With that rate, a borrower with a $400,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years would have had a monthly mortgage payment of $1,953 over the last five years.

If that same borrower renewed their mortgage at today’s best five-year fixed rate of 3.19 per cent, their monthly mortgage payment would decrease by $17 per month to $1,936.

“Canadians who require a new mortgage in coming months should lock in a fixed rate as soon as possible,” says James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial. “This includes those who are purchasing a home, and homeowners whose mortgage is coming up for renewal.

“Remember that, on average, mortgage providers will offer their existing customers a discount of 0.25 per cent off their posted rate on a renewal. However, there may be more competitive rates out there. Be sure to shop around online or use a mortgage broker to negotiate the best rate for your renewal.”

Laird says borrowers should begin shopping around 120 days in advance of their renewal date in order to negotiate a competitive mortgage rate.

A rising interest rate environment could put downward pressure on home prices, he says, but upward pressure will come from predicted economic growth, lack of housing supply, immigration and first-time homebuyers.

Variable rates

“Borrowers should expect variable rates to perfectly correlate with Bank of Canada rate increases,” Laird says. “Variable rate mortgage holders should also be prepared for several increases to their interest rate in coming months and, with general interest rates in Canada on the rise, fixed rates will rise as well. However, those currently in fixed rates have nothing to worry about until their next mortgage renewal date.”

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Toronto fall cityscape Web

GTA housing market correction coming to an end, ReMax says

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GTA housing market correction coming to an end, ReMax says

Toronto fall cityscape Web

by Wayne Karl

Get ready for a busy GTA housing market this fall and into 2019, as the recent correction is coming to an end – especially for single-detached homes – according to a new report from ReMax Integra, Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region.

Following a strong summer market, demand for detached homes is on the upswing, as active listings fall and average prices begin to rebound, the realty firm says.

The supply of detached homes listed for sale has gradually declined, after peaking in May, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board. Average price in the nine TREB markets has been battling back from trough levels that were reached as early as July of 2017 in Durham Region to as recently as February of 2018 in the Central Core.

GAINING MOMENTUM

“We expect momentum to build moving into the traditional fall market, and the trend to continue throughout the remainder of the year,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax Integra, Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. “The worst is now behind us. Pent-up demand will be a factor in the coming months, as homebuyers – many of whom delayed their purchasing plans – are entering the market.”

Despite some softening in sales activity, condo prices have continued to climb throughout 2018, with the year-to-date average price (January to August) now $548,103, seven per cent ahead of 2017 levels. During the same period, average price for a detached home in the GTA has come down 11 per cent to $1.01 million. The differential – $623,288 versus $464,729 – has many buyers thinking that if they stretch their budget, they can buy a detached home, Alexander says. Condo townhouse values were on par with year ago levels ($569,103 versus $571,463), while semi-detached homes were down just three per cent year-over-year.

First-time buyers of single-detached homes in the $600,000 to $900,000 range are leading the charge, ReMax says. Since June, this segment has reported a 22-per-cent increase in year-over-year sales. Inventory at this price point in the 416 area is low, potentially prompting buyers to expand their search into the 905, where supply and price options are more plentiful.

The luxury market is also beginning to firm up, with a 16-per-cent increase in sales of single-detached homes priced at more than $2 million in July and August, compared to the same period in 2017.

416_monthly_avg_price

“It’s been a real roller coaster for single-detached properties in the GTA over the past 32-month period,” says Alexander. After reaching peak levels in early 2017, market-cooling tactics such as Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan in April, the federal government’s mortgage stress test expansion in October of 2017, and the Bank of Canada’s interest rate hike in January of 2018 created a great deal of uncertainty in the market.

Many financial experts, however, expect another interest rate hike, possibly as early as the next Bank of Canada announcement on Oct. 24, or the following one on Dec. 5.

“There’s no question that the threat of higher interest rates has propelled more buyers into the GTA housing market in recent months,” Alexander told Homes Magazine. “We suspect that small, incremental hikes will be absorbed, especially in the short-term, as buyers take advantage of detached housing values that are off peak levels.

“While the October 2016 stress test for high-ratio mortgages had little impact on the market, the same can’t be said for subsequent interventions,” says Alexander. “Conditions had changed. Inventory levels reached their lowest point in October 2016, which contributed to a notable uptick in sales and pricing between October and May 2017. The introduction of the Fair Housing Plan set the wheels of correction in motion.”

The run-up in detached housing values between January 2016 and peak levels in early 2017 was unprecedented. The highest appreciation was noted in the city’s west end, where the average price had climbed 60 per cent in the 14-month period, rising from $763,327 at the start of 2016 to $1.22 million in March of 2017.

DURHAM, SIMCOE & DUFFERIN COUNTIES

Durham Region, Simcoe County and Dufferin County also experienced serious gains in just over a year, with prices climbing 55 per cent, 52 per cent and 59 per cent, respectively. The average price of a detached home in the central core, home to the most expensive properties in the GTA, rose 48 per cent, jumping from $1.68 million in January 2016 to $2.5 million in February 2017. Peel Region, the city’s east end, York and Halton Regions all reported increases ranging from 38 to 47 per cent over the one-year period.

“The pace was simply unsustainable,” says Alexander. “While government intervention appeared heavy-handed at the time, in retrospect, the measures put in place served to cool down a wildly overheated market.”

Since then, buyers have cautiously re-entered the market, with many taking advantage of lower, post-correction detached property values. By the end of August 2018, homes in the more-affordable West and East Districts were back on the rise and within striking range of those average prices reported during the same period in 2017. Detached housing values in the city centre – the target of investors throughout 2016 and early 2017 – have been climbing, albeit at a more moderate pace, particularly north of Hwy. 401.

905_month_ave_price

In the 905 areas, recovery is moving at a slower pace, but as inventory levels decline, detached housing values are expected to appreciate. In particular, Brock (Durham Region) and Essa (Simcoe County). Burlington, Halton Hills, Brampton, Orangeville and Scugog are all showing promise in detached home price growth.

“After an extended period of housing market inertia, the floodgates are breaking open,” says Alexander. “Upward movement in detached housing values and the threat of additional interest rate hikes in the future are prompting homebuyers to get off the fence and into the market. Rising consumer confidence, job security and an economy firing on all cylinders should continue to support healthy home-buying activity in the GTA for the remainder of the year and into 2019.”

Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing Group. wayne.karl@homesmag.com

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Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz says rate cut remains on table

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Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz says rate cut remains on table

Financial Post

The Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said January 28 he’s prepared to cut interest rates if new U.S. protectionist measures derail the Canadian economy.

The Bank on January 18 held its trendsetting overnight interest rate at 0.5 per cent, as expected, citing U.S. and global economic uncertainties and continued slack in the Canadian economy.

http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/stephen-poloz-says-rate-cut-remains-on-table-sends-high-flying-loonie-into-a-swoon

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