Canadian banks raise some mortgage rates, lower others

Jessy Bains
·3 min read
Signing a contract (mortgage)
Signing a contract (mortgage)

For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian banks raised rates on fixed-rate mortgages.

TD Bank (TD.TO), National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), HSBC (HSBC), Royal Bank (RY.TO), Scotiabank (BNS.TO), and BMO (BMO.TO) made moves in response to a rising yield on the Canada 5-year bond.

Posted rates remain the same, but special rates that most clients end up paying ticked up between 15 and 25 basis points on 5-year terms.

“TD evaluates a number of factors when making changes to mortgage rates, including our funding costs and market conditions,” the bank told Yahoo Finance Canada.

Record low mortgage rates have helped fuel a record rally in house prices, and even with the increases remain historically low. Experts say the increases are unlikely to put a chill on the real estate market on their own. But it does mean buyers will have larger fixed mortgage payments they’ll have to budget for.

According to Ratehub.ca's mortgage payment calculator, a homeowner with a 10 per cent down payment on a $500,000 home, at a 5-year fixed rate of 1.39 per cent amortized over 25 years (total mortgage amount of $463,950) has a monthly mortgage payment of $1,831.

With a 15-basis point increase, their monthly mortgage payment has increased to $1,863. This will cost a homeowner $32 per month or $384 per year on their mortgage payments.

Bond yields move based on market conditions and they could continue to edge higher, meaning more fixed-rate increases to come.

“Fixed rates are increasing in response to higher than expected inflation in January,” said James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub.ca and President of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage

“If inflation continues to rise and as optimism builds around the vaccine rollout, Canadians should expect fixed rates to continue on their upward trend.”

Canada 5-year bond yield (Bank of Canada)
Canada 5-year bond yield (Bank of Canada)

Laird says if you’re buying a home and worry about fixed rates rising further or your lender hasn’t raised theirs yet, get an approval now because it will hold today's rates for 90 to 120 days

Banks drop variable rates

If you have a variable rate and want to lock in a fixed mortgage you can without paying a penalty.

Meanwhile, all of the banks that raised fixed rates lowered special variable-rate mortgages by between 10 and 20 basis points. The widening gap between fixed and variable mortgage rates makes variable a cheaper option.

For example, the new 5-year special fixed closed rate at RBC is up 20 basis points to 2.24 per cent while the 5-year closed variable drops 15 basis points to 1.60 per cent.

Variable-rate mortgages tend to move based on the Bank of Canada's overnight rate but lenders ultimately decide the rate offered to consumers.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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