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Home buying during the pandemic prompted by historically low mortgage rates

Throughout 2021, Canadians remained undeterred by the sky-high home prices, limited inventory, fierce competition and the ongoing global pandemic in their desire to own a home. Spurred by record low mortgage rates, would-be home buyers kept the housing market burning hot.

Click below to jump to a different section of Ratehub.ca's 2021 Digital Money Trends Report:

2021 DMTR Mortgage survey findings

Increasing popularity of variable-rate mortgages

One of the most striking developments since the beginning of 2020 has been the increase in popularity of variable-rate mortgages. With fixed rates climbing for the first time since the onset of the pandemic and continuing to rise, variable-rate mortgages are looking like an increasingly attractive option for Canadian home buyers and homeowners. 

Rate requests to Ratehub.ca for variable-rate mortgages increased by over 40% year over year from 2019 to 2020, and saw a further increase of nearly 50% year over year from 2020 to 2021.

 

That said, the majority of rate requests to Ratehub.ca are still for fixed-rate mortgages, although decreasingly so over the last two years. Fixed-rate requests accounted for over 68% of total rate requests made to Ratehub.ca in 2021, a 14% decrease from 2020 and a 31% decrease from 2019.

High home prices and low rates have encouraged more Canadians to leverage the equity in their homes. HELOC requests accounted for slightly more than 14% of total rate requests made to Ratehub.ca in 2021, a 55% increase from 2020.

House-hunting during the pandemic spurred by low mortgage rates

Canada’s red hot housing market has been the subject of countless media stories of late, and about 33% of Canadians have gone house-hunting during the pandemic. There were a number of reasons that prompted them to look for a new home, chief among them being historically low interest rates. Of this group, 15% were motivated to look for a new home based on a change in working circumstances during the pandemic. With the ability to work from home, many consumers are considering leaving costly, densely-populated urban areas for the more affordable suburbs.

Canadians expect home prices to continue to rise in 2022

Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the housing market, a majority of Canadians across the nation believe that home prices will continue to rise in 2022. Almost two-thirds of Canadians believe that housing prices will rise in 2022. 

 

Interestingly, in Quebec, only 54% believe that home prices will continue to rise in 2022. This is somewhat unexpected, as Quebec’s housing market has seen similar record-breaking numbers as the rest of Canada. 

Tips for buying a home in 2022

With both fixed and variable rates set to rise in 2022 as the pandemic recovery continues, here are a few expert tips on buying a home: 

  • Calculate your affordability and budget – Before you start looking at homes, it's best to have a realistic budget so you can shop for a home within your price range.  The type of home you can afford is not just determined by your down payment and mortgage size - you also need to factor in other expenses such as taxes, title insurance, legal fees and closing costs . To easily figure out the maximum purchase price you can afford and the amount of cash you will need, use Ratehub.ca's Mortgage Affordability Calculator.
  • Increase your down payment if possible The larger your down payment, the better. Because there are laws that determine the minimum down payment you can put down, the larger your down payment, the greater your maximum affordability. Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the less you'll have to borrow, meaning you'll pay less interest over time. The size of your down payment also affects the amount of mortgage insurance you may need to pay.  
  • Get a pre-approval A mortgage pre-approval allows you to know the mortgage amount a lender will actually permit you to borrow. Furthermore, it allows you to put a rate hold on the mortgage rate at the time of your pre-approval and holds that rate for you for up to 120 days. This allows you to house-hunt with peace of mind and allows you to quickly make an offer once you've found a home that suits you. The rate hold protects you from rate increases should rates go up during your rate hold period. Should rates go down, lenders will usually offer the lower rate available.
  • Shop for the best rate Before actually applying for a mortgage, shop around to see what the best mortgage rates available are. You can apply with multiple lenders and then decide which one to proceed with once you have compared the rates and terms each are willing to give you. Better yet, you can consult with a mortgage broker, who can quickly provide you with the best offers from different lenders and guide you through the application process, all at no cost to you.

Click below to jump to a different section of Ratehub.ca's 2021 Digital Money Trends Report:

For more information on Ratehub.ca's 2021 Digital Money Trends Report and survey methodology, click here.