Canada’s biggest banks saw the slowest growth in their domestic mortgage books in more than two years as interest-rate hikes cooled the country’s housing market.

The value of mortgages in the domestic businesses at Canada’s six largest banks totaled $1.36 trillion in the fiscal fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, up 1.6 per cent from the previous three months. That was the slowest quarter-over-quarter growth since 2020’s second fiscal quarter, when the onset of COVID-19 briefly brought home sales to a near standstill.

The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates by 3.5 percentage points since March in one of the most aggressive hiking cycles in its history. That has sent Canadian home prices down 10 per cent from their peak and slashed the number of sales.

That’s a sharp turnaround from the previous year, when rock-bottom interest rates sent home prices surging and made mortgages the top money-maker for big banks. The housing-market slowdown is just now showing up in the results at Canada’s banks, which control about three-quarters of the mortgage market, and they expect the deceleration to continue. 

Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest lender by assets, increased its domestic mortgage book by 9.8 per cent in the last fiscal year. Chief Executive Officer Dave McKay said on the firm’s earnings call last week that he expects growth in the “mid-single digits” this fiscal year amid rising interest rates.