Fixed mortgage rates have been falling precipitously in recent weeks, as the cost of financing those loans has gotten cheaper. Banks and other lenders get the money that they loan out in mortgages by borrowing it themselves on the bond market, and the yields on five-year bonds have been falling since May 2018.
What’s bad news for some is good news for others, and Canadian mortgage-holders are the unexpected beneficiaries of some of the gloom that’s hovering over Canada’s economy.
That’s because cheaper financing costs are allowing the banks to cut their mortgage rates to try to entice borrowers. CBC News reported in January that Royal Bank cut its five-year posted rate to 3.74 per cent, a move that rivals were expected to match.
Royal Bank has since cut that rate two more times, first by 10 basis points on March 1 and then by another 15 basis points on March 13. The bank’s five-year fixed rate is now at 3.49 per cent, and other lenders are indeed following suit.
TD Bank currently has a special five-year fixed rate of 3.49 per cent. Smaller lenders are even lower. Dominion Lending Centres is offering 3.29 per cent locked in for five years, while HSBC Canada has a special five year of 3.24 per cent at the moment.
Yield on 5-year government debt has dipped below 1.5%, its lowest level since 2017
A five-year Government of Canada bond was yielding just 1.45 per cent on Monday. That’s the first time the figure has been below 1.5 per cent since the summer of 2017.
Last week, the yield curve on long-term lending versus short-term inverted, a rare event that has an uncanny knack for predicting recessions. (For a longer explanation on what an inverted yield curve means, read this.)
Bond yields are heading lower largely because investors think the prospects for the economy are looking dim, so they expect interest rates to start moving lower.
Lower bond yields are generally “not a good sign from an economic standpoint,” says Janine White, vice-president of rate comparison website, Ratesupermarket.ca, “but it’s great for mortgage borrowers.”