Homeowners can afford interest rate hike

REM Dec 13, 2010

Canadian homeowners are comfortable with their mortgage debt, have significant home equity and could withstand an increase in their mortgage interest rate, according to the sixth Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market report from the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP).

Among the findings of the report:

-  Eighty-four per cent of Canadians with mortgages are able to afford at least a $300 increase in their monthly mortgage payments.

 -  One in three (35 per cent) mortgage holders have either increased their payments or made a lump sum payment on their mortgage in the last year.

 -  Eighty-nine per cent of Canadian homeowners have at least 10 per cent equity in their homes and 80 per cent have more than 20 per cent equity.

 -  Overall home equity is at 72 per cent of the total value of housing in Canada; for homeowners who have mortgages, equity level averages 50 per cent.

-  As of August 2010, there was $1.01 trillion in outstanding residential mortgage credit in Canada, an increase of 7.6 per cent from last year.

“Canadians are being smart and responsible with their mortgages,” says Jim Murphy, president and CEO of CAAMP. “They are building equity in their homes and making informed, long-term mortgage decisions. The survey results speak to the strength of our mortgage market, especially when compared to the United States.”

The CAAMP report says most Canadians agree that buying a home is a good long-term investment and are focused on their mortgages to support that investment.

Many mortgage holders are making voluntary additional payments: 16 per cent have increased monthly payments during the past year, 12 per cent have made lump sum payments, and seven per cent did both.

The report says Canadians are exercising caution when taking out their mortgages, with a majority choosing a fixed rate (66 per cent). A five-year fixed-rate mortgage remains the most popular option in Canada. Despite the fact that variable rate mortgages have become much less expensive compared to fixed rates, the majority choice is still fixed rates: this decision is based on people’s individual assessments of risk, not just the cost difference, says CAAMP.

Most of the people who have low tolerances for increased payments have fixed-rate mortgages. By the time their mortgages are due for renewal, their financial capacity will have expanded and their mortgage principal will have been reduced.

The report also says Canadians have been able to negotiate better than posted mortgage interest rates. For five-year fixed rate mortgages arranged in the past year, the average rate is 4.23 per cent, which is 1.42 points lower than typical, advertised rates. Of the 1.4 million Canadians who renewed their mortgage in the past year, 72 per cent were able to renegotiate a decreased rate: on average, rates are 1.09 percentage points less than the rates prior to renegotiating.

Canadians’ home equity is “impressively high,” says CAAMP. Among homeowners who have mortgages, the average amount of equity is about $146,000, or 50 per cent of the average value of their homes.

The amount of equity take-out in the past year is unchanged from last year with around one in five homeowners, or 18 per cent, taking equity out of their home, at an average of $46,000. The most common purpose for equity take-out is debt consolidation and repayment (45 per cent) followed by home renovations (43 per cent), purchases and education (19 per cent) and then investments (16 per cent).

Michael Rauser

Michael Rauser

CENTURY 21 Sun Country Realty
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