Low Rates Help Short-term Affordability

mortgage-affordabilityThe ability to afford a house depends on lots of factors, not the least of which are mortgage rates.

In fact, the Bank of Canada’s rate hike campaign (when it comes) could “dominate all other factors determining affordability,” according to RBC economist, Craig Wright.

Earlier this year, economists predicted that we’d see higher rates starting this fall. Their forecasts have now shifted to mid-2012.

As a result, Wright says: “…The postponement of interest rate increases…might extend the upward momentum in (home) prices in the coming quarters.”

This temporary reprieve from rate hikes could reduce pressures on home ownership costs in the short term, he suggests, but potentially exert “some negative force on affordability” down the road (due to possible home price increases resulting from rate-driven demand).

“By and large, the share of household budgets, taken up by the costs of owning a home at current market values, remains close to historical norms,” adds Wright, while noting Vancouver is a big exception. “Vancouver’s housing market is without a doubt the most stressed in Canada and is facing the highest risk of a downturn.”


RBC issues its affordability readings quarterly. They measure the percentage of gross income needed to pay mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes on “typical” homes across Canada.

Here’s a prior related story:  RBC’s Affordability Measure – Affording a House Today

Rob McLister, CMT

  1. so, we haven’t signed on the dotted line for our mortgage yet, but we currently have the papers for Prime minus 0.9 (2.1) for a 5 year variable rate with RBC. However we’ve just been offered the 2.99% 4 year fixed with them. stick to the VRM?

  2. Thanks for the reply. The RBC mortgage specialist that we are working with didn’t really discuss which was better for us.
    We are both in secure jobs, this is our first purchase and we bought well within our affordability. We were initially planning on taking the 2.1% rate and setting our mortgae payments to be as if the rate was 4% to pay it down quicker. At that time though we were offered a 5 year fixed at 3.65%. But with the new 4 year 2.99%, we are even more unsure now. Thanks.

  3. So let me see if I have this straight:
    You’re about to make what will probably be the biggest purchase in your life, for the first time ever, you’re not getting your needs and questions addressed by your banks so called “Mortgage Specialist” but yet your still giving them your business?
    If ever there was a case study for what a local and reputable independant mortgage brokers can do for a home buyer in exchange for their business, YOU’RE IT!

  4. I’m assuming you’re a broker, banker… So explain to me why I would go for one when they seem to exude immaturity and arrogance like you do? You’re like an off duty cop that refuses to help stop a crime…
    Obviously this guy is in a bind and is unsure. I’m actually in the same situation. So here is your choice. You can continue to thumb your nose at the guy and say ‘nyah nyah, you don’t have a broker’ or you can give him a quick couple things to consider when deciding between fixed and variable, with the caveat that next time he really needs a broker to do an exhaustive analysis…

  5. Your right, frustrations foreshadow the simple advice that anyone buying a home should review their circumstances directly with a trusted, competent and professional mortgage advisor. If who your dealing with doesn’t measure up, find another advisor who does.
    I am not a broker or affiliated. My background is banking operations management. Still, I don`t advocate nor is it my place to advocate for either banks or brokers. IMO, both have their own merits for differing reasons. Good luck with your purchase, Doug

  6. I want to pay cash for a house in Canada but been told the prices are going bto drop so I should wait.How much will the prices drop by the end of 2012.

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