Canada has become one of the most expensive countries to live in. We’ve known for years that Canadians pay some of the highest wireless prices in the world.
But now, a new study conducted by HuffPost Canada has revealed that Canadians are subjected to even higher mortgage rates than other developed nations. We’re exceeded only by countries like the United States and Australia.
While fixed-rate terms go for as low as 2.39 per cent presently, it’s a rate that is still deemed higher than other European nations. The United Kingdom’s fixed-rate mortgage, for example, sits at a remarkable 1.65 per cent, while France enjoys a 1.39 per cent interest rate.
In Finland, the rate dips below one per cent at 0.96 per cent and Germany has an unbelievably low rate of 0.5 per cent. However, while German rates may still seem affordable, their lending policies are extremely stringent. A typical down payment on a German home is 40 per cent, which leads many citizens of the country towards renting rather than owning their primary residence.
Some of the lowest fixed-rate products are offered by Japan (0.37 per cent), Belgium (0.1 per cent), and Denmark (-0.5 per cent).
Despite Canada’s high rates, consumers don’t appear to be deterred. In fact, this past June, Canada’s household mortgage credit grew by 5.2 per cent month-over-month. It’s actually ballooned by 96 per cent during the past 17 years, according to Statistics Canada. While the median mortgage debt of Canadian families increased from $91,900 in 1999, this figure has increased to $180,000 by 2016.
For Toronto families, the debt is even worse. People are left with little money to do much other than stay in and enjoy their home. In fact, the Royal Bank of Canada recently revealed that one in four Canadian homeowners identify as “house poor.” This term describes the trend in which Canadians spend more than 30 per cent of their income on mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes and maintenance.
Add high interests rates to this picture and it’s easy to understand why there are higher numbers of delinquency rates. Global News predicted the trend of Canadians drowning in mortgage debt last year due to the rising rates.
But despite these cautionary tales, people keep buying homes. Now the Canadian mortgage debt has grown again – up at a rate of 3.7 per cent annual. The nation currently has $1.57 trillion total worth of mortgage debt. Could the dream of homeownership perhaps be the wrong dream? Some millennials think so.
Recently, Dave McKay, president of the Royal Bank of Canada, said interest rates could be effected dramatically by “rising geopolitical risks and trade tensions.”
“This uncertainty is manifesting itself in downward trends in global interest rates,” McKay told the Financial Post.
The silver lining of living in Canada is that our financial institutions have put measures in place to ensure would-be homeowners can afford the house they want. The amendment to the B-20 guidelines means that consumers have to plunk down at least 20 per cent or more.
“While there are risks to the outlook, current economic conditions in our core North American geographies remain solid, with unemployment near multi-decade lows and a continued resilience in the Canadian manufacturing sector,” says McKay.
These words could bring cold comfort to Canadians who have little option but to just pay the rate as it stands. Unless, of course, they are willing to move to Belgium.