Sitting on the Fence May Hurt your Wallet

Posted by JoAnne Purcell on Friday, November 2nd, 2018 at 3:00pm.

We originally published this article in June 2018, however, with the recent interest rate increases by the Bank of Canada we thought it would be prudent to publish it again. Please note that the interest rates and calculations in the article are those that were in effect in June 2018. Since then, the qualifying rate has remained at 5.34%, however the best 5 year contract rate available has increased to 3.59% - meaning that while you still qualify for the same mortgage amount today as in June, the monthly payment in the examples has increased by $42/month. These rates are on approved credit and are subject to change without notice.  


Maybe you’re thinking “if I wait a while longer in this market, home prices will go down and be more in my favor as a buyer”. That might be true for the prospective buyer who can pay cash for the home and doesn’t need a mortgage. If you need any amount of financing on the purchase, the increase in interest will still affect your monthly payment.

Consider the following scenarios A and B:

You’re a first time buyer currently paying 1,500/month rent, you have $20,000 saved for down payment, and earn $78,000/year salary. A house you’d like to buy has a market value of $400,000 today in 2018. Let’s say the market value of the same house decreases 5% to $380,000 in 2019. What a deal, right? At first glance yes, the cost of the same home is $20,000 less. How could that be bad for you, the buyer?

First, consider whether you still qualify to buy this house even though the price is lower.

  • Scenario A: Using the current qualifying rate in 2018 of 5.34%, your $78,000/year income just qualifies for a mortgage of $380,000, plus $20,000 down. You could have this home today for $400,000 and your monthly payment is $1,950/month using a 3.39% contract rate.
  • Scenario B: You decided to hold off thinking house prices will go down. Fast forward to mid-2019, and assume the same house is now at $380,000, and qualifying rate has risen to 6.49%. You now qualify for a mortgage amount of only $350,000, and with your $20,000 down you can buy a home for $370,000. You no longer qualify for that house! Instead, you find a house for $370,000 and your monthly payment is 2,013/month using an estimated 4.49% contract rate ($63 MORE per month for less house).

Second, consider the fact that while in Scenario A you started paying into your home equity today, in Scenario B you were renting and paying 1,500/month that you won’t see again. It’s a good thing the house cost $20,000 less, because you threw $18,000 in rent away during the same period.

Third, what if you are looking at buying a detached starter home now but in a year you don’t qualify for a detached home and you have to consider purchasing a condo? In this case, on top of the higher mortgage payment, you now will be looking at having to pay condo fees which will again increase your costs.

This doesn’t mean you should buy the most expensive home you can qualify for. At SmartBuyCalgary our goal is to help you “Buy Smart”. Our purpose here is to demonstrate whether there is or is not a benefit to postponing home ownership.

For example, look at the cumulative effect of paying 4.49% vs. 3.39% interest for 5 years.

  • At today’s interest rate of 3.39% and a mortgage amount of $380,000 your monthly payments are going to be $1,950. Over the 5 year term of your mortgage you pay $54,911 to principle and $62,103 in interest.  
  • In the scenario where rates are 4.49 in 2019, for the same mortgage amount of $380,000 your monthly payment would be $2,185. Over 5 years you would pay $48,286 towards your principle and $82,822 in interest.

Only you don’t qualify to buy that house anymore.

  • More likely, you are buying something smaller and your mortgage amount is $350,000, the monthly payment is going to be $2,013, Over the 5 year term of your mortgage you will pay only $44,474 towards your principle and $76,283 in interest.

If you are not in a position to buy at all right now – in other words you’re “off the fence” - this information will still help you plan as you prepare to jump the fence. If you are “on the fence” – thinking of buying but holding off – this information will hopefully give you fresh perspective on the old question, when is the right time to buy?

The right time is now – and the data backs that up. Give us a call or send us a message, because we’d love to help you. It is what we do!  Joseph and JoAnne Purcell 403-612-5298 or 403-519-1167


Based on an article published by Mortgage Broker News (link to full article below), the Bank of Canada current lending rate is 1.75% and experts predict we will see this increase to 2.5 to 3.5% by the end of 2019.  That is and increase of .75% to 1.75% to our current Prime Lending rate of 3.95%.  

Bank of Canada rate increase article.


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