Click here to join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates as they happen. Unsubscribe any time.

Hybrid Mortgages Catching On

mortgage-rate-diversification Investors like to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket. But this philosophy has been slow to catch on in the mortgage market.

94% of people still choose either fixed or variable rates, says CAAMP. Very few choose a combination of both.

That may be changing, if yesterday’s RBC/Ipsos Reid poll is right.

According to RBC, 40% of prospective homebuyers (people who plan to buy in the next two years) intend to take out a hybrid mortgage. That compares to 32% in last year’s survey.

These stats are a little hard to grasp given CAAMP’s recent mortgage survey. It suggests only 6% of Canadians have actually chosen a hybrid mortgage in the last year. However, Ipsos Reid’s Sean Simpson, says: “I would account for the difference by saying that one is an outlook while the other is retrospective.”

Simpson notes that, “Looking forward to the next two years, there is much more uncertainty in the direction of interest rates.” He says that Hybrids are, therefore, becoming more attractive since they let people capitalize on low rates while retaining an element of security.

Based on what an RBC spokesperson told us, hybrids may be catching on fast. In terms of the number of new buyers choosing hybrids, RBC says: "We have been trending similar to the survey results over the last quarter."

Marcia Moffat, head of Home Equity Financing at RBC, adds: "As consumers begin to learn about the benefits of mortgage diversification, we're seeing more homebuyers gain a better comfort level with adding floating rate mortgage options."

From our own anecdotal observations, that appears to be the case. We’re not seeing anywhere close to 32-40% of borrowers choose hybrids, but there’s been a noticeable increase in hybrid mortgage inquiries compared to last year.

The academic research supports hybrids as well. Dr. Moshe Milevsky–Canada’s most quoted mortgage researcher—says: “Nobody can truly predict how rates will move over a five-year period. It’s just that simple.”

He, therefore, believes hybrids are a good form of mortgage risk management. “People should strongly consider mortgages that are part fixed and part floating,” he told us last year. Interest rate diversification benefits borrowers just like it benefits investors who buy portfolios of stocks.

Of course, if history is a guide, well-qualified borrowers may save more money by simply choosing an ultra-low variable rate, or a 1-year fixed. But not all borrowers are in the same boat. Homeowners with only moderately strong personal “balance sheets,” can’t afford to dismiss the concept of risk management. 

Many moderately-strong borrowers will, in fact, assume the risk of putting 100% of their mortgage in a variable rate. These folks will probably never realize the value of rate diversification/risk management unless the “worst case” materializes…and then it’s usually too late.


Sidebar:  Here’s a partial list of lenders who currently offer hybrid mortgages:

  • ATB Financial
  • Canadiana Financial
  • HSBC
  • Laurentian Bank
  • Merix Financial
  • National Bank
  • RBC
  • Scotiabank
  • Various credit unions

If we forgot any major ones, let us know and we’ll add them to the list.

This list does not include all lenders that offer readvanceable mortgages.  Readvanceable mortgages often include a fixed portion and line of credit (LOC) portion. That technically makes them a form of hybrid mortgage as well, assuming that part of the mortgage is put in the LOC.