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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?

May 2014 Overall Summary

May will bring flowers - but there's no growth in store for the Canadian cost of borrowing. Stable bond yields and a competitive spring market lead to status quo for fixed mortgage rates in the short term. Variable mortgage rates, however, aren't to change until 2016 as exports and inflation remain below the Bank of Canada's forecast.

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The busy spring buying season is in full swing, prompting lenders to stay competitive with their rates, as Canadian buyers snap up homes in droves. This is supported by stability among government bond yields, which have not fluctuated enough to warrant any pressure placed on fixed rates in the short term.

Central interest rates won't rise until 2016, according to the Bank of Canada's top man himself, Stephen Poloz. Lower-than-expected export activity and steep retail competition continue to depress inflation growth, the required driver behind a potential rate rise. Lowering rates isn't likely, as the Bank feels credit is cheap enough - household debt levels continue to grow amid such accessible borrowing costs.

This Month's Panelists

Ron Butler - Mortgage Broker at Verico Butler Mortgage

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The bond market is status quo so there is no clear indication that today's extremely low fixed rates need to move up. There is also no compelling reason to think they will go down. Eighteen years as a mortgage broker informs my belief that, historically, mortgage lenders like to fight for "purchase" business during prime real estate season in March, April and May. As the end of May rolls around, lenders prefer to improve on their margins. So the closer we get to June, barring bond gyrations, I believe higher fixed rates may start to appear.

On the variable rate side, a standard "no increase" continues for the long foreseeable future.

Dan Eisner - President, True North Mortgage

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Bond yields have been very stable over several days despite the recent increase in the Canadian Dollar. As a result, we don't expect to see mortgage rates change in either direction. The recent CMHC regulation changes won't hurt regular Canadians' ability to get mortgage financing, but it will reduce the ability of those Canadians that are a little over stretched or undercapitalized.
The structural changes in the last few years in this industry has led to a transition of power from the consumer in the pre-2008 years to the banks in the post-2008 years to the banking regulators in the current time period. Consumers must play by the ever changing rules set out by the regulators.

We will have to see a sustained recovery in the U.S. economic situation before we start seeing the Banks change their variable rates. As a result, we don't foresee any changes to the variable rates in the next while.

Will Dunning - Chief Economist, Mortgage Professionals Canada

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For five-year fixed rate mortgages, a key factor is movements in yields for five-year Government of Canada bonds. Since February, those yields have made small changes from day to day, but they have basically moved sideways. Looking forward, economic conditions in North America are gradually improving. This means that sometime soon bond yields are likely to start increasing, but at only a gradual pace. As a result, I expect that mortgage rates may rise a bit during the coming month (perhaps five to 10 basis points). Looking farther out, I expect that there will be more slight rises. But, the total amount of rise we see over the next six months or so should not be very large (less than one-half of a percentage point): the Canadian and U.S. economies are still not ready to absorb large increases. Even if we saw a large rise in rates, I wouldn't expect it to last for very long.

These rates depend on what the Bank of Canada expects about future inflation rates. The recent weakening of our dollar is now resulting in a rising inflation rate for Canada: the many goods we import are rising in price because of the weaker dollar. But, the Bank of Canada is likely to view this as a temporary event that does not justify any change in the base interest rates that it controls.

Dr. Ian Lee - Program Director, Carleton University

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The five-year Canada bond is bouncing around in a very narrow margin while economic conditions remain subdued rather than virile and robust. Governor Poloz trenchantly captured the issues in his latest April speech: Canada's hot – and not – economy, where noted resources and the regions producing those resources are hot while non-energy exports are not hot, producing a lukewarm economy (my words – not Poloz).

Governor Poloz is predicting low but "total inflation will rise in the next few quarters" due to rising cost of energy. And then the Governor stated, "it should be clear that we are still a long way from home, as it will take until early 2016 to get underlying inflation back up to 2 per cent"... And, when we do get home, there is a growing consensus that interest rates will still be lower than we were accustomed to in the past - both because of our shifting demographics and because, after such a long period at such unusually low levels, interest rates won't need to move as much to have the same impact on the economy".
This certainly suggests to me that we will not see a central bank hike until 2016.

Kelvin Mangaroo - President of RateSupermarket.ca

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The mortgage rate spring shakeup came again this year with the popular four- and five-year fixed rates dropping to below 3 per cent. Canadian bond yields have been relatively stable lately, so pending an unforeseeable economic event spurring investors into action, there's no reason to believe yields will put pressure on fixed rates this month. As well, with the busy spring season under way, competition-driven lenders are unlikely to hike their fixed rate offerings.

The onus is on forecasted improvements to the export industry and business investment to propel inflation to its required benchmarks. While a stronger U.S. economy has led the way for tepid improvement, growth remains below expectation. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has also voiced his doubts for short-term movement, stating central rates should remain unchanged until 2016, in an address made in Saskatoon in late April. As a result, variable mortgage rates should not see much movement in the short term.