Lower Than Prime Rate?

"Lower than prime," you heard someone say. Like most Canadians, you were probably first skeptical and then confused. We tend to think of the prime
lending rate as the invisible "floor" of lending rates. The very best customers can get very close to that floor. It is theoretically possible, we reason, to actually be ON the floor, but not possible to be below it.

Nevertheless, Canadian lenders offer mortgages at prime minus 0.5% to even minus 0.7%. So the floor isn’t the lowest you can go. There’s something under the "floor".

The rate known as "prime" has been the popular benchmark for lending in Canada. When business reporters talk about interest rate movement, they usually talk about what's happening with prime. But there are other benchmarks in money rates, though they are typically for use by professional money managers. The most significant of these is the Banker’s Acceptance rate.

While "prime" is a set rate which is offered to a lender's best customers, the Banker’s Acceptance is the rate which financial institutions use to lend money to one another. And it’s typically well below the prime rate. Look for the "Money Rates"section of your favourite newspaper, and you can compare Prime with the Banker’s Acceptance rates for yourself. "Interesting," you think, "but why does it matter?" Well, as new lending institutions begin to offer a slate of innovative new loan options, a new mortgage has emerged that is based on the Banker’s Acceptance rate: offering a mortgage rate of 1% over the 3-month Banker’s Acceptance.

If you compared the rock-bottom prime-based variable mortgage rate – prime less 0.5% to 0.7% – with the new adjustable BA-based rate, you would find that the BA-based rate would have delivered significant savings over the past several years, as rates were dropping. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the BA-based rates have historically been considerably lower than prime.

Secondly, the prime rate tends to be "stickier" in an environment where rates are falling. Often, the more fluid, market-based BA rates deliver the rate change more quickly.

Any variable- or adjustable-rate mortgage is an excellent option when interest rates are either dropping or stable. Not surprisingly, they’ve been a very popular choice in the past few years. There are some rumblings now that rates may begin to increase, but flexible-rate mortgages still remain an excellent choice for those looking to save some interest.

As always, you should consult with a mortgage professional to find the mortgage that suits your personal financial needs. An independent mortgage broker can provide you with information on a broad range of mortgage options from a wide variety of lending institutions, so you can compare features and options at a glance.

And remember, it’s worth taking some time to look beyond prime and explore what’s "under the floor" in mortgage options!

For more information contact Laurie Baird
Consultant, Mortgage Intelligence Inc.
Phone (250) 862-1802 Fax (250) 712-0209

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Head and Laurie Baird help busy families find mortgage solutions. Together they have more than 45 years of experience in the mortgage industry.

With today’s increasingly complicated mortgage rules, Tracy and Laurie spend time getting to know the people they work with and help them to better understand the mortgage process. They support their clients before, during, and after their mortgage is in place.

Tracy and Laurie work closely with their clients, offering advice and options. With access to more than 40 different lenders, Tracy and Laurie are able to assist with residential, commercial, and reverse mortgages in order to match the needs of their clients with the right mortgage package.

They work closely with their clients to find the right fit, and are around to provide support for years down the road!

Contact them at 250-862-1806 or visit www.okanaganmortgages.com

Visit their blog at www.okanaganmortgages.com/blog


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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