Five years ago I acquired a variable rate mortgage from CIBC. It was the cheapest rate I could find at the time. I was quite pleased with the rate but that mortgage term expired a couple of months ago. So I shopped around to see if I can find another good deal.
I expected my mortgage to become more expensive. Surely rates would have climbed over the last 5 years right?
But no. To my surprise I found a lender that offered me an interest rate that’s lower than my previous mortgage by 43 basis points. 😀 CIBC was not able to match this offer so I switched. The new financial institution I am with is not one of the big 5 banks in Canada. It is a lesser known company called National Bank.
I was paying 3.05% with CIBC. This was a variable rate 5 year mortgage at prime minus 0.40%. This was the best CIBC could do.
But my new mortgage with National Bank is only 2.62%. This is also a variable rate 5 year mortgage term. Except the rate is Prime minus 0.83%
A 0.43% difference in interest rates doesn’t sound like a lot. But my mortgage balance is around $193,000. So I will be saving roughly $4,000 over the next 5 years because I switched to a cheaper mortgage provider.
However there are costs associated with changing lenders. Appraisal costs $600, and legal documents from a notary public was $800 in my case. Luckily National Bank has a $750 rebate program for transferring over an existing mortgage. 🙂
In the end the cost of changing banks was worth the extra savings in my case.
Even though most Canadians are choosing fixed rate mortgage I still believe that variable rate is the way to go if you want to save money. The increase in fixed rate mortgages locked in by most home buyers this year is “seen as a response to rate hikes, and fear of higher rates in the future.” But critics have been calling for higher rates for over a decade. Yet rates haven’t actually gone up much. In fact, mortgage rates have dropped over the past 5 years as shown in my post today. That’s why we have to be informed of economic conditions so we can make our own financial decisions, instead of following others. 🙂
I have been a homeowner for almost 10 years. During this time my mortgage interest rates fluctuated from 2.3% to 3.2%. It doesn’t look like rates will climb significantly any time soon. Until we see increasing mortgage rates, I would expect Canadian housing prices to climb even higher.
Updated Sept 2021: After shopping around some more, I’m seeing Canadian mortgage rates have continued to drop since I initially wrote this post. What’s clear is that the big 5 banks are not as competitive, with brokers and smaller lenders offering lower rates with greater flexibility.
The bottom line, a mortgage is a mortgage and these days, pretty much every lender offers customer service by phone, email or live chat and an online portal where you can login and manage your mortgage payments. By being open to lenders that are not the big 5 banks, you stand to save a significant amount. Remember, you are borrowing money from the lender. Lesser known lenders are still highly regulated by the Canadian government.
Random Useless Fact:
30 years ago only 5% of the population admitted to being chronic procrastinators compared to 25% today. Some believe technological advances is the main cause of this change.