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Mortgage Rate Outlook Panel

Our panel of mortgage experts share their views on Canadian mortgage rate trends each month by answering this question: What is your outlook for Canadian mortgage rates over the next 30-45 days?

December 2009 Overall Summary

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Although 40% of our panel members think fixed rates will begin to creep up this month, there is a stronger argument that they will remain unchanged in the short term. There is uncertainty about whether or not recent fluctuations in bond yields will result in increased fixed rates. With some lenders still hungry for business, and banks likely to maintain caution, expect fixed rates to stay as they are for the time being.

60% of our panel members believe that variable mortgage rates will remain unchanged following the Bank of Canada announcement on December 8th and over the next 30-45 days. However, increased competition and a push for market share by the big lenders may cause mortgage providers to offer further discounts to prime.

This Month's Panelists

Dan Eisner - President, True North Mortgage

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The recent events in Dubai will keep rate increases in check in the short term. I predict we will continue on a flat trajectory into 2010.

Prime won't be moving lower but I do expect to see the discounts off of prime increasing resulting in lower rates. Banks are hungry for business and pressure from RBC and BMO is moving the market.

George Hugh - President, Taurus Mortgage Capital

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The appetite for fixed rate mortgages is on the increase as borrowers realize that 5 year fixed rates around 4% are a steal when compared to historical levels. The downward pressure on rates is being driven by strong lender demand for residential mortgages ahead of a potential market slowing in the second half of Fiscal 2010. Don't expect rates to fall too much below current levels over the next 45 days.

Any discussions surrounding variable rate mortgages are most likely to include the words cheap and affordability. There is no denying it that with the Prime rate at 2.25% the cost of home ownership is at an all time low. The Bank of Canada is highly unlikely to change the overnight rate at the next meeting on Dec 8th. If you are looking to go variable, make sure to stay in touch with the market as rates could start turning towards the later end of Fiscal 2010.

Gregory Klump - Chief Economist, CREA

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Dr. Ian Lee - Program Director, Carleton University

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While the demand for fixed rate mortgages has been strong, reflecting the strong real estate market in Canada with its V shaped recovery, nonetheless the economy as a whole has most certainly not seen a V shaped recovery and indeed remains weak. Moreover, the economy in the US remains weak with its numerous problems of skyrocketing government deficits, uncertainty over financial reregulation, high unemployment and a housing market that has not recovered.

Finally, the Canadian real estate affordability index (mortgage payment divided by average monthly income) is back to where it was before the recession, suggesting a cooling down of demand for real estate. For these reasons, I do not foresee an increase in fixed rates over the next 30 days.

The Bank of Canada is not expected to change the bank rate over the next 30 days. As demand for real estate starts to soften as supply and demand come into balance (see the excellent analysis by T-D Economics: Resale Housing Outlook, Dec. 1, 2009), there may be some discounting of variable rates in the short run, as overshooting the market with this product is easy to recover through adjustment - which is why the product is called variable.

Jim Tourloukis - President, Verico Advent Mortgage Services

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We have seen a significant drop in bond yields over the past month, as much as 35bps (basis points) at the 5 year end of the yield curve. This puts the yield down to a multi-year low and we don't think the bond yields will drop further. Mortgage rates have fallen in step with the bond yields with some lenders offering 5 year fixed mortgages as low as 3.69%. I think this is the bottom.

With core CPI at 1.8%, below the target of 2.00% and total CPI at 0.1%, we don't see the Bank of Canada raising rates anytime soon.

Garth Turner - Author, Former MP

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Borrowers should expect mortgage rates to be in a narrow band for the next 60 days because the federal government is paralyzed with a growing economic quagmire on its hands. Unemployment is rife, growth is non-existent other than for artificial stimulus, the world is sinking into debt and there's no way emergency interest rates will be lifted un

Some people tell me they think rates will stay low for years, like in Japan. Pray that does not happen. If it did, we would have a slow real estate melt on our hands, since low rates would result from no inflation which would result from no economic growth or income gains. You only get to have emergency rates during an emergency.

In short, this is a time to (a) lock in, (b) pay down debt as fast as you can and c) come back here to find out exactly when to take out your vulture costume.