Homeowners are feeling the impact of elevated interest rates, real estate experts say, though the Bank of Canada’s latest rate hold will not raise mortgage payments for those with variable or fixed products.

The Bank of Canada elected to hold its key policy rate at five per cent on Wednesday for a fourth consecutive meeting, the highest level in 22 years. 

Daniel Vyner, principal broker at DV Capital, told BNNBloomberg.ca that from the perspective of many mortgage owners, a rate hold is better than a rate hike – but it will still weigh on borrowers.

“Don't underestimate the impact of a Bank of Canada rate hold in an elevated interest rate environment, especially on those who entered the real estate market and budgeted for homeownership at lower rates and mortgage payments,” he said in a Wednesday interview. 

Ratesdotca real estate expert Victor Tran said interest rate changes impact anyone with a lending product that is tied to prime rates, including people with a variable rate mortgage or line of credit.

Since the Bank of Canada held rates on Wednesday, there will be “no impact,” he said. 

“The good news is anyone holding a variable rate mortgage will just have their payment remain as is. No increase or decrease,” he told BNNBloomberg.ca on Wednesday. 

Looming renewals

Even without another hike on Wednesday, Vyner said elevated interest rates will eventually impact fixed-rate mortgage owners in the form of payment hikes at renewal.

Alana Riley, head of insurance mortgages and banking solutions at IG Wealth Management, said in a statement that higher interest rates will continue to weigh on households. 

“Keeping an elevated prime rate does continue to burden household cash flow for Canadians with variable-rate mortgages, HELOCs (home equity line of credit) and unsecured lines of credit,” she told BNNBloomberg.ca. 

James Laird, co-CEO of Ratehub.ca and president of CanWise mortgage lender, had a similar perspective. 

He highlighted that mortgage owners with either a variable-rate product or a HELOC “will be disappointed that there were not hints as to when they can expect the first rate cut.” 

Popular mortgage products           

Many first-time home buyers are partial to fixed-rate mortgage products because of the “certainty and stability” they provide, Tran said.

“Most first-time homebuyers are not risk takers. They want to know what they're going to be paying every month,” he said.

But Tran said other individuals coming up for renewal may be partial to variable products with the hope that interest rates will decline at some point this year. 

“They're hoping to catch the lower rates as they come back down. Eventually, that rate will get to a point where it's going to be lower than current fixed rates,” he said. 

Vyner said he is seeing a “change of sentiment toward variable rate mortgages,” with some still having a preference for shorter-term fixed mortgages. In the current environment, he said many believe variable products will “outperform a mid to long-term fixed rate mortgage.”