With low mortgage rates, can you afford to buy?
With banks lowering their five-year interest rates to a record low this week, many people are considering whether or not it's the right time to buy a new home.
But while interest rates may be remarkably low, housing prices in B.C. are at an all-time high.
While some people believe the Vancouver housing market is due for a pricing correction in the next few years, home buyers should still be very cautious and need to determine if they can really afford the high prices of the houses themselves.
The only reason some properties seem affordable right now is because of those record low rates. If the mortgage rates go back up in five years -- and you have to refinance that mortgage -- those home prices may not look so attractive because the payments are going to skyrocket.
For instance, a $600,000 mortgage with a rate of 2.99 per cent will have a monthly payment of $2,836, on a 25-year amortization period.
If the rate goes up to five per cent that means the mortgage payment is now $3,489.63 –$653.23 more each month.
Finally, if the rate goes up to seven per cent the monthly payment will be $4,202.49. That's $1,366.09 more each month than you would be paying if you locked in today.
There are many great mortgage affordability calculators online that weigh your income against debts and current lending rates to show you how much you'll pay each month if you lock in with a certain rate.
Related: CMHC calculator
If you're thinking about buying, go online and plug in your finances using today's rate, and then again using what the rate might get to in the future -- to get a realistic idea of what you could be paying in the future.
House prices in Metro Vancouver, where a two-storey home averaged $1.1 million last year, are expected to rise 2.8 per cent by the end of 2012, according to Royal LePage.