Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fixed or Variable? How About a 4 Year Fixed?!

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Currently there are big changes going on in the Canadian mortgage world.  We have discounts on the variable rates disappearing and the 5 year fixed is at an all-time low.  When we look at what is available right now, 2.75% on the variable and 3.39% available on the 5 year fixed, the decision on what to choose in my mind is obvious, the 5 year fixed.  Some people may still be stuck on the variable right now but is it really worth it?

Approximately 83% of the time through Canadian mortgage history the variable rate has proven itself to be the best deal over the fixed.  What I believe may happen in the next couple years is the 17% of the time that fixed is the best deal, is going to happen.

Now let's say you are still stuck on the variable.  There is another choice, it is the 4 year fixed rate.  Currently hanging around 3.09% makes it a really good deal.  You are protecting yourself from variable increases as well you are taking advantage of the low fixed position.  With the lower payment you can also decrease your amortization in order to pay down the mortgage faster, still with a reasonable monthly mortgage payment.

When you take into consideration that the average life of a 5 year term is around 3.6 years it is not necessary to take the long road with the higher rate.  With the Bank of Canada claiming they are not raising Prime until 2013, and remember the World economy is still uncertain, it may be longer.  Taking the 4 year term allows time to see what is going to happen as the Canadian mortgage world changes.  And if you do decide to break a 4 year term, the worst case usually will be a 3 month interest penalty.  If you have to take a small penalty to save thousands it is certainly worth it.

Well why not just take the variable then?  Remember, you usually do not get the banks best discounted rate when you switch from variable to fixed, a common calculation for this switch is Prime plus 1.00% or higher.  Right now that would put you at 4.00%, when the current five year rate is 0.70% below that it is not a good deal.  It is common to refinance when considering switching from variable to fixed, the small penalty saves you a lot of money.

To conclude, while in the middle of change it is best to take the road that will do the least damage if you make the wrong decision and having said that, the 4 year fixed is the best decision because you really can't lose.  It allows you time to wait and observe to see what the next trend will be.

Any questions or you want to talk to me about mortgages, feel free to contact me whichever way works best for you.

Ron Miller
YouTube Hamilton Broker


  1. That is so true Ron. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said "if you do decide to break a 4 year term, the worst case usually will be a 3 month interest penalty. If you have to take a small penalty to save thousands it is certainly worth it". I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!