Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why are Adjustable Rate Mortgage rates on the incease?

Please be aware that there is significant pressure to increase interest rates on Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

The current pricing environment of rates as low as Prime -.90% may not be available for much longer. Some ARMs in the market have already changed to Prime -.50%, a 40 bps increase and I would like to take this opportunity to explain what is happening in the markets today that has caused this shift in product pricing.

In layman's terms, what is happening?

Adjustable Rate Mortgages are typically priced according to the current 30-day Banker Acceptances (BA), which are a very common short-term money market investment, guaranteed by the banks. A lender funding adjustable/variable rate mortgages would typically borrow money through a 30-day Banker's Acceptance. The lender is then responsible for paying the yield (rate of return) to the investor who purchased the BA. This yield is the cost of funding mortgages ("Cost of Funds") to the lender.

So, what's happening to the BA yields?

This is where the story has become interesting over the past few months.

The failure of the U.S. subprime market worried money-market investors. In Canada, investors began to sell off investments creating a strain on the market. Those who remained demanded higher yields from the BA market as no one was sure as to how much of these BA's were used to finance U.S. subprime mortgages, or subprime mortgages here in Canada or other risky ventures. Everyone was asking the same thing: What's the risk exposure? A classic example of the market overreacting.

The resulting increase in BA yields increased the cost of funds for lenders who want to finance their Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Essentially it's costing lenders much more money now to finance ARMs than it did 60 days ago.

The following is a comparison of 30-day Banker's Acceptance yields over the past 60 days:

July 17, 2007: 4.54%
August 3, 2007: 4.60%
August 14, 2007: 4.75%
August 17, 2007: 4.92%
September 11, 2007: 4.98%
September 17, 2007: 5.04%

*Source: Bank of Canada (http://www.bank-banque-canada.ca/)

So, in 60 days we've seen the yield on 30 day BA increase 50 bps.

Now consider the interest rate earned by the lenders on an ARM at Prime - .90%. Today that interest rate is 5.35%. When you compare this to the current Cost of Funds at 5.04%, which doesn't include overhead, profit margin, one can see that it's only a matter of time before prices for ARMs need to change.

How long will this continue?

Are we seeing the end of the days of Prime - .90%? Perhaps for a while, until the money markets settle down.

The silver lining in all this is that due to Canada's continued economic expansion and the reality of an $80+ barrel of oil, our longer term bonds are in high demand. As a result, we might see some interest rate decreases on the fixed rate products.

If you wish further information on how to protect yourself against further increases in rates contact the Ontario Mortgage Team Professional nearest you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Bank of Canada keeps target for the overnight rate at 4 1/2 per cent

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 4 1/2 per cent. The operating band for the overnight rate is unchanged, and the Bank Rate remains at 4 3/4 per cent.

Near-term prospects for economic growth outside North America appear to be slightly stronger than anticipated in the July Monetary Policy Report Update (MPRU), while near-term economic prospects for the United States are weaker than expected. It now seems likely that the adjustment in the U.S. residential housing sector will be more pronounced and protracted, exacerbated by recent developments in financial markets. On balance, this implies weaker demand for Canadian exports than had been expected at the time of the July MPRU.

In Canada, total and core CPI inflation in July, at 2.2 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively, continued to be above the inflation target but generally in line with the Bank's expectations. The Canadian dollar has also largely traded in the range assumed in the July MPRU. At the same time, the pace of economic growth in the first half of this year was above the Bank's expectations. It now appears that the Canadian economy is operating further above its production potential than was estimated in July. Domestic demand remains robust, buoyed by a continuing strong labour market and higher-than-expected increases in home sales and prices. However, recent developments in financial markets have led to some tightening of credit conditions for Canadian borrowers, which should temper growth in domestic demand.
Against this background, the Bank judges that the current level of the target for the overnight rate is appropriate. However, there are significant upside and downside risks to the outlook for inflation. On the upside, there is a possibility that household demand in Canada could be stronger than anticipated, while on the downside the ongoing adjustment in the U.S. housing sector could be more severe and spill over to the U.S. economy more broadly. In addition, there is uncertainty about the extent and duration of the tightening of credit conditions in Canada and, hence, about the tempering effect this will have on growth in domestic demand.

The Bank will continue to closely monitor evolving economic and financial developments. A full update of the Bank's outlook for growth and inflation, including risks to the projection, will be set out in the Monetary Policy Report, to be published on 18 October 2007.

Information note:
The Bank of Canada's next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is 16 October 2007.