Taking the Guesswork Out of Adjustable Rate Mortgages
Next to critiquing the decorating taste of your home’s previous owner, playing the “adjustable mortgage game” may rank as one of the most popular (and least pleasant) pastimes of Canadian homebuyers.
Here’s how it works.
As you’re exploring your mortgage options, you review the long and steady slide of mortgage rates in Canada over the last decade and make the decision to go with an adjustable mortgage when you buy, at renewal or when refinancing. You’re now a player. Then you watch for clues about mortgage rate movement, trying to guess the perfect moment to lock in your mortgage. The objective of the game is to try to guess the bottom… and you won’t know it’s the bottom until it’s too late. In today’s low rate environment, we should acknowledge that most of the players are already winners; but it can still be a stress-inducing game.
One way to remove all of the guesswork is to consider a capped-rate adjustable mortgage, although there are only a few options available in the marketplace.
There is a unique adjustable mortgage that is not based on the Canadian Prime Rate (the usual benchmark) – but on what is known as the Banker’s Acceptance rate: a benchmark that is used for professional money managers. In effect, the BA rate, as its known, is the rate lenders charge one another.
Not surprisingly, it’s typically much lower than prime. In fact, the effective rate of this adjustable mortgage has been consistently lower than competitive variable or adjustable rate products based on Prime. A capped version is now available.
An adjustable rate mortgage with a cap offers unlimited downside rate movement, but also provides a guarantee that the rate will never rise more than a certain percentage higher than the starting base rate – no matter what happens to the lending rates.
The rate cap takes the guesswork out of the adjustable mortgage game. If rates continue to drop, your Mortgage rate also drops accordingly. But if rates begin to rise, you know that your own mortgage rate has a fixed ceiling. Imagine, no more worrying about when to lock in your mortgage, and no more second-guessing your decisions when rates go back down again. Of course, this kind of flexibility comes at a small premium over a regular adjustable-rate mortgage.
In the past several years, more and more Canadians have passed on the security of traditional fixed-rate mortgages for the savings potential of an adjustable rate. And in an environment of dropping rates, the adjustable rate choice has proven its value to homebuyers. With today’s rates among the lowest in memory, many homeowners continue to worry about whether or not they should lock in or not. After all, we don’t want to lose the flexibility of having our rate adjustable downward… but we’d also like to have it fixed upward.
If we had a crystal ball, we could make perfect decisions about our mortgage options, and we’d know how to secure the best rate. But a mortgage that passes on declining rates and has a rate cap on the upside can be the next best thing to seeing into the future. And the result is an adjustable mortgage game that the homebuyer is heavily favoured to win.
The House Team is commited to providing quality information to help people make informed decisions about their mortgage financing needs.
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