How much are home owners betting on the past being repeated into the future?
King says roughly two out of three mortgages underwritten this year have been for a variable rate term, compared to a typical 25 to 30 percent share. She says this is part of a larger trend of homeowners opting for variable rate mortgages.
“Over the past decade or more, rolling a variable rate mortgage from month-to-month has consistently been less expensive than a fixed mortgage rate. In essence, a generation of homeowners has experienced nothing but declining rates and lower monthly interest payments,” she says.
“This expectation will be hard to change.”
As evidence of the damage a low-interest rate policy causes, King says we only need to look at the U.S. real estate bubble.
“The U.S. homeowner was lured down a very similar path by the Federal Reserve at the turn of the century. Indeed, in late 2000 the spread between a 1-year ARM [adjustable rate mortgage] and a 30-year conventional mortgage was as narrow as 30bps…households did not start to sour on ARMs until 2004 when the Fed finally started to raise the funds rate. By that time longer term mortgage rates were also on the rise and moving out of the affordability reach of many U.S. homeowners.”
As for Canada, King believes a 2-percent rise in interest rates will push a fixed rate mortgage beyond the reach of the average home owner.
From the article ‘Canada’s House of Cards‘ on BNN.