Incoming Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz is already getting advice from a C.D. Howe economist urging him to raise his overnight rate, but brokers are staying on message suggesting he should leave well enough alone.
“I think it's too late to raise rates, though it will have to happen eventually,” says Paolo Di Petta
, a broker with EQRON Mortgage. “I think efforts would be better focused on providing possible tax incentives for people who aggressively pay down their mortgage. This would probably do wonders in reducing the fallout of a future rate hike.”
That’s not what the right-leaning CD Howe is asking for.
Its report written by economist and former special adviser to the central bank Paul Masson, states that after five years of super-low interest rates, it is time to “take the anemic economy off its meds,” citing years of low rates contributing to asset bubbles in housing and risk-taking and inefficient investments.
For Di Petta, he sees any increase in rates as hurting brokers who deal almost exclusively in clients who refinance.
“In terms of helping or hurting brokers, it will only hurt those who built a book on serial refinancers,” says Di Petta. “The industry is bound to shrink now that the boom is over, but good brokers will always have solutions for their clients.”
“Kilted Broker” Jackson Middleton says a rate hike will hurt homebuyers, but is necessary to grow the economy.
“A steady rate increase might make it tougher for Canadians to qualify for a mortgage in the short term, but long term, I believe it will be better for our economy as a whole,” says Middleton, the principal broker of Saskatchewan First foundation. “I will trade short-term pain for long-term sustainability any day. Bring on the rate increases!”
And it won’t just be the clients who will feel the pinch either, Middleton points out.
“Now, will this hurt brokers and our businesses? You bet it will!”
Drew Donaldson, executive vice president of Safebridge Financial Group, agrees that rates do need to rise – but that the timing needs to be right.
“There are multiple factors at play here and it is not just housing,” says Donaldson. “The jobs report has been bleak and we need to get the economy moving again before raising rates quickly. The government has made many mortgage rule changes, which have basically had the same effect as if rates rose 1 per cent since the lows. I agree we need to get rates up eventually to help out our pensioners and retirees, but the timing has to be right and not rushed.”
Taking a glass half-full approach, Donaldson points to the benefits of higher fixed rates in the long term.
“Don’t forget when fixed rates rise most penalties get smaller, which means more opportunities will pop up to refinance to various terms, in my opinion,” he told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.
Laura Sauve, a mortgage agent with Centum One Financial Group, has seen clients more affected by loan to value restrictions than low interest rates.
“I have found that record low interest rates have not driven mortgage purchasers as much as one would think. Not to mention severe refinance restrictions make it nearly impossible for homeowners to take advantage of these low rates,” says Sauve. “For instance my client with zero debt, beacon mid 700s and job tenure of over six years could not refinance his 3-year-old mortgage to take advantage of low rates because of the LTV restrictions. It’s not a fair playing field for mortgage-holders, that’s for sure.”
Masson does concede that raising rates may increase the value of the Canadian dollar and set back exports, but adds a stronger U.S. economy should offset any downside for the Canadian manufacturing sector with a strong Loonie.