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Do Your Golden Years Include Mortgage Payments?

Seniors mortgage The prospect of still having a mortgage to pay off past age 65 is a growing reality for Canadian homeowners, according to a new survey.

RBC’s latest Housing Snapshot poll found that over half of Canadians expect to be servicing their mortgage after the age of 55, while 27% foresee carrying mortgage debt beyond age 65.

Perhaps most startling, a full one-third of respondents aged 55 or older said they still have 16 or more years left on their mortgage term. It’s safe to assume many of those individuals won’t be celebrating their retirement party at 65.

Homeowners are not without good intentions, however. The poll found 72% of Canadians with mortgages “expect” to be mortgage-free before the age of 65.

Here are some other notable stats from the report:

  • An overwhelming majority of Canadians (96%) say a low interest rate is the most important feature when choosing a mortgage
  • Flexible payment options (88%) is the second most important feature. But only 50% say flexible payment options are “very important” vs. 87% who ranked low rates as being “very important”
  • Convinced that interest rates will remain stable over the next year, Canadians have been increasingly attracted to variable-rate mortgages. As of October, 29% indicated they were interested in a variable, compared to 19% in Q1 of this year (that number may drop with variable discounts shrinking)
  • Fixed rate mortgages have also seen heightened appeal among consumers. 46% indicated interest in fixed mortgages, compared to 40% in Q1 of this year.
  • Curiously, interest in using a hybrid mortgage (one that’s part fixed and part variable) has “declined significantly” says RBC (25%, compared to 41% in Q1 of this year).
  • On an encouraging note, the number of mortgage-free Canadian homeowners increased slightly in the fourth quarter, to 41% from 38% in the first quarter. This is the highest level since 2006.
  • A majority of Canadians (55%) expect interest rates to remain the same or decrease over the next six to 12 months. Only 26% think rates are likely to rise more than 1% during that same period.

“Though many Canadians expect interest rates to stay the same over the next year, they should still keep in mind that it’s important to build some wiggle room into your budget to prepare for any extra costs or future rate increases,” said Claude DeMone, director of Strategy for Home Equity Financing at RBC.

It’s hard to argue with that because we all know how fast rates can defy expectations.

Steve Huebl, CMT