Mortgage refinancing – paying out an existing mortgage in full and taking out a new mortgage either with the same lender or a new lender – has never made more sense. Historic-low interest rates, which most experts insist are here to stay despite Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney’s repeated suggestions to the contrary, and fierce competition among lenders for a dwindling pool of borrowers have made for an opportune time for refinancing.

Those considering refinancing their homes are likely to receive one of two pieces of advice:  wait a bit longer as the mortgage rates continue to fall; or now is the right time to go for a complete refinancing plan.

“We highly recommend refinance now than later, as the only way for the interest rates to go is up,” says Marcus Arkan, CEO and principal broker of Syndicate Mortgages Inc., in Toronto.  “If the rates went any lower, that would be an indicator of an economic crisis.”

Calgary-based Laura Parsons, mortgage expert, Bank of Montreal, agrees. “Certainly, rates are near historic lows, but rates are bound to climb eventually,” she says. “Locking into a fixed rate can provide added peace of mind in the face of potential interest rate hikes.”

According to a BMO survey, Canadian homebuyers want payment certainty for as long as possible. The majority (65 per cent) are looking to lock in at a fixed rate to take advantage of low interest rates while they are available.

However, mortgage refinancing is a big financial decision and must only be taken after carefully considering pros and cons. Parsons says it’s important for homeowners to research all available options.

“There could be a better-suited mortgage available to fit your current or future needs,” she says. “For example, if you have had a variable-rate mortgage but are looking for payment certainty and rate protection, you may want to consider moving to a fixed rate.”

This also provides mortgage seekers an opportunity to review their current financial situation and look at repayment options accordingly.

“Choosing a shorter amortization can save thousands in interest over the life of the mortgage,” says Parsons.

And while they’re at it, borrowers might want to test how far they can stretch their budget. After all, interest rates are bound to eventually increase.

“Stress-test your mortgage at a higher rate,” says Parsons. “[Make] sure you will be able to afford your mortgage payments when interest rates rise.”

Finally, two recent factors need to be considered before making any decisions. Some homeowners may find the value of their home has depreciated as house prices in Canada continue to fall. As well, says Arkan, borrowers will now be “obliged to agree to the new terms that will be influenced by the recent mortgage policy changes.”

Homeownership in Canada: A love story

We’ve all heard of people getting the “seven year itch” when it comes to a monogamous relationship, but a new study commissioned by the ComFree network, the largest commission free real estate network in Canada, reveals that we may have a wandering eye when it comes to our homes as well. In fact, one in four (28 per cent) homeowners report getting the urge to move about every five years. Another 14 per cent get that itch at least once a year and five per cent say the urge to move strikes them as often as every week.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) of Canadians believe that a home says a lot about a person and must reflect their personal style and image. Women were more likely to hold this true than men (74 per cent versus 65 per cent); but the home isn’t always where the heart is. Three in ten Canadians (29 per cent) say a home is just something that provides them with shelter.

“Canadians are in a love triangle,” said real estate expert Martin Rygiel, real estate expert and manager the ComFree network. “We should be in love with our home, given the magnitude of the expense and how much time we spend there. Yet many homeowners seem to have a timeline on the relationship with their homes and begin to notice the chips in the paint or the fact that the up-and-coming neighbourhood actually means a lack of services. But while the process of buying and selling one’s home may be more reminiscent of a love story, an important financial decision such as this should not be taken lightly.”

Our reasons for moving on

While homeowners overwhelmingly said that merely wanting a change (50 per cent) was enough to facilitate a move in the past, there are a number of other reasons that are prompting postal code changes:

  • Family size increase (marriage, kids etc.) – 42 per cent
  • Job relocation – 37 per cent, but much higher in Alberta – 53 per cent
  • Family size decrease (divorce, death, empty nest etc.) – 20 per cent
  • Retirement – 18 per cent
  • Came into more money – 14 per cent
  • Home was in need of renovations – 14 per cent

Nearly a third of Canadian homeowners (35 per cent) said that they love their neighbourhood, but wish they could change their house. This is particularly apparent for first time homebuyers (39 per cent). And a similar percentage of the population (33 per cent) said they wish they could change their house, but they love their neighbours.

While some homeowners will update their homes regularly, for those who do not want to invest the time, energy and money into renovations, moving may be the better option. Canadians who are unsure as to whether or not they are ready for a move, can take a short quiz to help guide their decision. And for those who have already made the decision to move, a step-by-step checklist is available, outlining important timelines and reminders to make the process seamless.

“I saved over $20,000.00 by selling commission free,” said Satu Repo-Hendsbee from London, who sold her house through Commonsense Network brokerage, part of the ComFree family. “This did not mean doing it alone – they were with me every step of the way, from marketing my home with the use of great photos to advising me on the closing documents. The free legal advice was an outstanding feature of the service.”

The ComFree network works with Canadians wishing to sell their home and empowers them to sell without paying huge commission. When selling through the ComFree network, the seller controls every aspect of the process, can easily communicate with interested buyers, which saves time and realizes great savings in commission.

“Homeowners acting on their urge to move every five years could be getting themselves into turbulent waters financially, if they’re not careful,” said Rygiel. “Over a span of sixty years, moving every five years would equate to as much as $180,000 in money spent on commissions. Savvy Canadians have recognized that a commission free alternative can be like a personal finance life raft.”

About the Research

The ComFree study was conducted by Harris/Decima from August 9 through August 19, 2012 via teleVox, the company’s national telephone omnibus survey. A total of 2,006 Canadians were surveyed, of which 1,514 are homeowners. A sample of this size has a margin of error of +/- 2.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively, 19 times out of 20.

About the ComFree Network

The ComFree network offers Canadian homeowners a professional, honest and innovative service to assist them through the sale of their property, so they can do it in a smart, effective and profitable way.

Since its initial launch in 1997, more than 120,000 homes have been sold through The ComFree network, be it through its FSBO operations or, since January 2012, through Commonsense Network brokerages in Ontario and Alberta, saving Canadians $1.5 billion in commissions.

Homeownership in Canada: A love story

We’ve all heard of people getting the “seven year itch” when it comes to a monogamous relationship, but a new study commissioned by the ComFree network, the largest commission free real estate network in Canada, reveals that we may have a wandering eye when it comes to our homes as well. In fact, one in four (28 per cent) homeowners report getting the urge to move about every five years. Another 14 per cent get that itch at least once a year and five per cent say the urge to move strikes them as often as every week.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) of Canadians believe that a home says a lot about a person and must reflect their personal style and image. Women were more likely to hold this true than men (74 per cent versus 65 per cent); but the home isn’t always where the heart is. Three in ten Canadians (29 per cent) say a home is just something that provides them with shelter.

“Canadians are in a love triangle,” said real estate expert Martin Rygiel, real estate expert and manager the ComFree network. “We should be in love with our home, given the magnitude of the expense and how much time we spend there. Yet many homeowners seem to have a timeline on the relationship with their homes and begin to notice the chips in the paint or the fact that the up-and-coming neighbourhood actually means a lack of services. But while the process of buying and selling one’s home may be more reminiscent of a love story, an important financial decision such as this should not be taken lightly.”

Our reasons for moving on

While homeowners overwhelmingly said that merely wanting a change (50 per cent) was enough to facilitate a move in the past, there are a number of other reasons that are prompting postal code changes:

Family size increase (marriage, kids etc.) – 42 per cent
Job relocation – 37 per cent, but much higher in Alberta – 53 per cent
Family size decrease (divorce, death, empty nest etc.) – 20 per cent
Retirement – 18 per cent
Came into more money – 14 per cent
Home was in need of renovations – 14 per cent

Nearly a third of Canadian homeowners (35 per cent) said that they love their neighbourhood, but wish they could change their house. This is particularly apparent for first time homebuyers (39 per cent). And a similar percentage of the population (33 per cent) said they wish they could change their house, but they love their neighbours.

While some homeowners will update their homes regularly, for those who do not want to invest the time, energy and money into renovations, moving may be the better option. Canadians who are unsure as to whether or not they are ready for a move, can take a short quiz to help guide their decision. And for those who have already made the decision to move, a step-by-step checklist is available, outlining important timelines and reminders to make the process seamless.

“I saved over $20,000.00 by selling commission free,” said Satu Repo-Hendsbee from London, who sold her house through Commonsense Network brokerage, part of the ComFree family. “This did not mean doing it alone – they were with me every step of the way, from marketing my home with the use of great photos to advising me on the closing documents. The free legal advice was an outstanding feature of the service.”

The ComFree network works with Canadians wishing to sell their home and empowers them to sell without paying huge commission. When selling through the ComFree network, the seller controls every aspect of the process, can easily communicate with interested buyers, which saves time and realizes great savings in commission.

“Homeowners acting on their urge to move every five years could be getting themselves into turbulent waters financially, if they’re not careful,” said Rygiel. “Over a span of sixty years, moving every five years would equate to as much as $180,000 in money spent on commissions. Savvy Canadians have recognized that a commission free alternative can be like a personal finance life raft.”

About the Research

The ComFree study was conducted by Harris/Decima from August 9 through August 19, 2012 via teleVox, the company’s national telephone omnibus survey. A total of 2,006 Canadians were surveyed, of which 1,514 are homeowners. A sample of this size has a margin of error of +/- 2.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively, 19 times out of 20.

About the ComFree Network

The ComFree network offers Canadian homeowners a professional, honest and innovative service to assist them through the sale of their property, so they can do it in a smart, effective and profitable way.

Since its initial launch in 1997, more than 120,000 homes have been sold through The ComFree network, be it through its FSBO operations or, since January 2012, through Commonsense Network brokerages in Ontario and Alberta, saving Canadians $1.5 billion in commissions.