Lender and broker executives are keenly interested in how today’s mortgage consumers are engaging with technology, so they’ll likely be pouring through RateHub.ca’s new Digital Money Trends Report.
Based on RateHub user data and opinion surveys, this new report yields fresh data on mortgage search habits. Among other things, it finds that:
Canadians use mortgage-related keywords in search engines more than 700,000 times per month
142,600 of these are rate-related, which shows there’s more on people’s minds than just the lowest rate
28,600 searches are related to mortgage brokers
“RBC” is the most popular bank-related mortgage search topic with 72,000 hits a month
“Dominion Lending Centres” is the most popular brokerage-related search at 6,600 searches
Two-thirds of rate-site users are male and between 26 and 45 years old
The report profiles what kind of mortgages people are hunting for online. Not surprisingly, 5-year fixed rates continue to be the most researched product; 42% of all RateHub.ca searches were for 5-year fixed mortgages.
Notably, variable rate searches reached a four-year high last year. 42% of all RateHub.ca user requests in 2015 were for variable rates, up from 15% in 2012.
RateHub says this implies that Canadians expect interest rates to remain low over the medium term, and that they are looking to take advantage of the lowest rates in the market to combat rising housing prices.
In this author’s experience, it’s also reflective of the type of mortgage holders who visit rate sites—typically a greater mix of well-qualified and well-educated borrowers who can better handle rate risk. It also speaks to today’s broader awareness of the historical out-performance of short-term and variable-rate mortgages.
Only 1 in 5 of its users’ searches were for non-5-year terms
Less than 1% of requests in 2015 were for 10-year fixed terms, down dramatically from 13% in 2012. It would help if lenders priced more aggressively on 10-year terms, but 10-years are disproportionately expensive to fund/securitize and manage (since borrowers can escape after five years with just a 3-month interest penalty).
“The majority of our customers are a younger demographic, they are skeptical about the products offered by their primary financial institution, and they are accustomed to comparison shopping online like they do with travel, through sites like Kayak or Expedia online,” said Alyssa Furtado, Founder and CEO of RateHub.ca. Being rate-driven, tools like RateHub.ca have worried some in our business. They believe that rate sites will de-emphasize personalized advice and drive down commissions. That has indeed happened, but not to a great degree (so far). Mind you, rate sites are still early in the adoption curve.