We are just recovering from a punishing recession in which millions of jobs were lost and portfolios were decimated by a market downturn. Across the border, home owners are defaulting on their mortgages in record numbers because they loaded up on mortgage debt at teaser rates and are unable to make mortgage payments when the rates reset at a much higher level. Therefore, it is surprising to read that many Canadians refuse to learn from recent experience and are loading up on long amortization, variable-rate mortgages at record low interest rates. The Globe and Mail reported today that mortgage brokers are doing brisk business as many first-time home owners rush in to take advantage of today’s (probably temporary) low rates:
It’s these buyers who have raised fears of a bubble, negotiating mortgages at historic lows, opting for 35-year terms and making small 5-per-cent down payments to keep monthly outlays down and put previously unaffordable homes within their reach.
“They are taking advantage of things that are a lot more attractive initially but they could find themselves in a position where they couldn’t afford their mortgage if rates start to go up,” Mr. Averbach says.
This report comes in the wake of a recent interview The Toronto Star conducted with Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada:
Aceto said he is so concerned about the market that he has instructed staff to advise customers not to go with longer-term amortizations if they can help it. More than 50 per cent of all mortgages in Canada this year were amortizations longer than the standard 25 years, says Aceto.
As a result, the lender said he is worried that some consumers are biting off more than they can chew.
Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it. Those who ignore very recent experience are just being stupid.