28 Nov 2018

Variable Rate? To Lock In Or Not?

This post applies if you are taking a new mortgage, whether it’s for a purchase, refinance, or renewal. The variable remains the main contender.

But what about all the economists saying if you are currently in a variable rate mortgage then you should rush to ‘lock in’?

You mean the economists that are employed by profit driven shareholder owned institutions that directly benefit from your locking-in (banks) via instantly increased profit margins and massively higher (up to 900% higher) prepayment penalties that 2/3 mortgage holders will trigger?

A bit biased, that crowd.
Also they are generalists, they’re not specialists.

But what about independent real estate experts?

While these experts may have their finger on the pulse of many facets of the real estate market, many remain totally unaware of how exactly mortgage prepayment penalties are calculated, and just how likely you are to trigger them.

Also generalists, are unaware of many nuances of mortgage products.

So what’s my game?

I’ve never really had game, so to speak. And I don’t stand to profit from your locking in, or from your staying variable. In fact as I type this on a stunning day I’m wondering just what I’m doing in my office at all.

I’m just a Mortgage Broker offering an opinion. An opinion that reflects my personal policy, an opinion shaped through 25 years of experience with my own mortgages, an opinion based on 11 years of experience with 1,673 client’s mortgages.

I’ve seen a few things, mortgage specific things.

I’ve watched 2/3 of my clients break their mortgages and trigger penalties. Almost every single one of them a small and relatively painless penalty thanks to staying variable.

But what about these rising rates?

If you are currently in a Prime -.65% to Prime -1.00% variable then to lock-in would be to inflict an immediate rate hike on yourself that might take the government another 12-18 months to pull off… if they pull it off.

Stay variable.

If you are in a Prime -.35 or shallower mortgage, we should discuss restructuring that into a Prime -1.00% mortgage and reducing your rate by .65% or more.

Staying variable.

My crystal ball says yes, perhaps another two or three 0.25% hikes through 2019, but at that point the odds favour (heavily) an economic contraction that will in turn trigger a corresponding reduction in interest rates.

It is my theory, and that of others smarter than I, that the fed is pushing rates up aggressively to beat said economic contraction, because they want to have the tool of ‘reducing interest rates’ back in their toolbox when the rainy days come. And we are overdue for stormy economic times. And when those times arrive it will not be prudent to be locked-in.

In short, life is variable – your mortgage should be as well. If you have any questions, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today.

Dustan Woodhouse

Dustan Woodhouse

Dominion Lending Centres - Accredited Mortgage Professional
Dustan is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Coquitlam, BC.

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