7 in 10 Homeowners Say They Could Weather Higher Monthly Payments


Despite the prospect of higher interest rates ahead, nearly three-quarters of mortgage holders say they could handle a rise in monthly payments.

This is just one of many new insights included in Mortgage Professionals Canada’s latest State of the Housing Market report, which provides a current snapshot of mortgage consumer attitudes, expectations and home-buying behaviour.

While a majority of borrowers generally seem well-positioned to handle higher rates, some are already struggling with their payments, and more would depending on the size of the payment increase.

About 6% of mortgage-holders say they are currently struggling to make their payments and an additional 23% would have difficulty if their payments increased 10% or less.

The recent run-up in house prices, along with rising rates, are impacting Canadians’ views towards homebuying. The survey found less than a third of Canadians (29%) think now is a good time to buy a home in their community—the lowest share recorded in the survey’s history.

Having said that, 90% of current homeowners say they are happy with their decision to buy a home.

And with recent headlines about investors making up a growing share of recent home purchases, the survey asked homeowners to assign a weighting to how much of their home is a place to live vs. an investment. On average, respondents assigned a 77% weighting of their home as a place to live (up two points from 2020), while they consider 23% an investment (down two points).

“Canadian homes are therefore generally purchased for suitability first, with investment return a secondary consideration,” the report noted.

Mortgage broker clients reported higher satisfaction

The survey found Canada’s broker channel market share holding steady at around 30%, with a higher share among first-time buyers (37%).

Satisfaction with the homebuying process was also higher among mortgage broker clients.

A large majority (85%) said they were satisfied with the services they received from their broker compared to 78% of bank clients. Broker clients (51%) were also more likely to be “very satisfied” with the competitiveness of their mortgage rate compared to bank clients (37%).

“Mortgage brokers’ excellent satisfaction scores are unsurprising when considering the variety and versatility of lenders they represent, and their ability to assist Canadians with different incomes and employment structures,” Mortgage Professionals Canada President and CEO Paul Taylor told CMT.

“Understanding the products and offerings of multiple lenders means mortgage brokers will generally always have access to the most appropriate and cost-effective product for any borrower’s needs and lifestyle,” he added.

For a deeper dive into the results, we’ve extracted the most relevant findings by category below…

Interest rates

  • 66%: The percentage of mortgage holders that currently have a fixed mortgage rate
    • 74% of these borrowers have always had a fixed rate
    • 15% locked in from a variable rate more than 12 months ago
    • 8% locked in from a variable rate within the past 12 months
  • 26%: The percentage of borrowers with a variable-rate mortgage
    • This is up from 21% in last year’s survey
    • 45% of these borrowers have always had a variable-rate mortgage
    • 33% switched from a fixed rate more than 12 months ago
    • 20% switched from a fixed rate within the past 12 months
  • 4% reported having a “hybrid” mortgage, which is part-fixed and part-variable
  • 64% of respondents expect interest rates to rise (up from 52% in 2020)
    • 22% expect interest rates to rise “dramatically” (up from 7% in 2020)

Home prices

  • $647,036: The average purchase price for a home bought within the last two years
    • This is up 20.5% from the average purchase price of $536,822 reported in last year’s survey
  • $500,491: The average purchase price among first-time buyers
  • 56% of respondents expect house prices in their community to continue to rise, while 26% expect prices to increase “dramatically”
    • Four years ago, just 10% of respondents expected prices to rise dramatically

Down payments

  • 24%: The average size of the down payment made by first-time buyers in the past two years in relation to the purchase price, or an average down payment amount of $120,545
  • 46%: The average down payment size among all buyer types, or an average of $297,476
    • This is up from 30% in 2020

Down payment sources

For purchases made over the past two years, respondents were asked to indicate the percentage of their down payment that can be attributed to each of the following sources:

  • 55%: Personal savings
  • 12%: Gifts from parents or other family members
    • 19% for those between the ages of 18 and 34. Regionally, those most likely to rely more heavily on gifted down payments are those in B.C. (19%) and Alberta (13%)
  • 8%: RRSP withdrawal
  • 5%: Loan from parents or other family members

Working with mortgage professionals

  • 30%: Percentage of mortgage holders who used the services of a mortgage broker in 2021
    • Those in Alberta (38%) and Ontario (35%) were most likely to work with a broker
    • First-time buyers (37%) were also more likely to use the services of a mortgage broker
  • 56% of mortgage holders used the services of a bank
  • 85% of broker clients were satisfied with the service they received vs. 78% of bank clients
    • 51% of respondents who used a mortgage broker were “very satisfied” with the competitiveness of their mortgage rate vs. 37% of those who received their mortgage from a bank

Mortgage product selection

  • 13%: Percentage of mortgage holders who considered only rate when choosing their mortgage
    • This is down from 15% in 2020
  • Non-rate factors that borrowers considered when choosing their mortgage include:
    • 33%: Whether it was fixed or variable
    • 32%: Their familiarity and comfort level with the lender
    • 28%: They payment frequency
    • 25%: The advice of the mortgage professional they were working with
    • 23%: The amortization period
    • 20%: Prepayment options
    • 16%: Access to the lender’s other financial products
    • 12%: Recommendation or advice from a friend
    • 10%: Reputation of the lender

Mortgage affordability

  • 6%: Percentage of borrowers who are currently struggling to make their payments
  • 23%: The additional percentage who would struggle if their payments increased 10% or less

Use of HELOCs

  • 32%: Percentage of homeowners with a mortgage who also have a home equity line of credit (HELOC)
  • 70%: Percentage who currently have a HELOC balance of $10,000 or more
  • $38,000: The average HELOC balance
  • 79%: Percentage of HELOC holders who say they are comfortable with their loan-to-value ratios (unchanged from 2020 and 2019)

Here are the top uses for those funds:

  • 33%: Used for renovations
  • 29%: To pay down debt
  • 24%: To invest elsewhere
  • 17%: For another major purchase, such as education or a car

Prepayments

  • 30%: The percentage of mortgage holders that are paying more than their minimum mortgage payments
    • This is up from 28% in both 2020 and 2019

Refinancing

  • 65%: Percentage of borrowers who have not considered refinancing early
  • 8% of borrowers have refinanced within the past year
  • 10% are considering refinancing early
  • 13%: The percentage of those refinancing who paid a penalty to break their mortgage contract early (up slightly from previous years)
  • $4,280: The average penalty paid when refinancing a mortgage

Renewals

  • 37% of mortgage holders expect to renew their mortgage in the next two years
  • 57% expect to renew within the next three years
  • 48% of borrowers reported “significantly” negotiating their new rate upon renewal
  • 16% said they negotiated their rate “slightly”
  • 37% said they accepted the first offer that was provided to them

Consumer sentiment

  • 90%: The percentage of homeowners who are happy with their decision to buy a home
  • 3% regret their decision to buy a home
    • Of those who regret their decision to buy, size is the most-cited reason, followed by location, responsibility and layout

Homebuying intentions

  • 31%: Percentage of non-owners in Canada
  • 32% of non-owners expect to purchase a primary residence within the next two years (vs. 18% of current owners)
    • Among those ages 25 to 34, 36% expect to purchase a home in the next two years
  • 18% of non-owners have no intention of ever buying a primary residence (down 10 points from 2020)

Homebuying preferences

  • 30%: Percentage of first-time buyers who cite income generation as an important factor when purchasing a home (vs. 20% of all homebuyers)
  • 29% of broker clients are likely to value income generation vs. 23% of bank mortgage clients
  • 11% of owners either rent or plan to rent an area of their home
    • 19% say this is out of necessity to afford their housing costs



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