Understanding Inflation Influence on Private Mortgage Borrowing

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If you are an aspiring homebuyer, you may be wondering how to best navigate our inflationary environment. While inflation can seep into almost every aspect of our lives, it can have a particularly potent impact on the private mortgage market. By impacting the supply and demand dynamics of the Canadian housing market, inflation can significantly shape mortgage lending rates. In this guide, we explore why lenders are hurt by inflation, how inflation affects banks, who is helped by inflation, does the government benefit from inflation, and beyond.

The Impact of Inflation on Mortgage Rates

In order to understand how inflation impacts private mortgage lending rates, you first must grasp the concept of inflation itself, which is essentially the rate of price increases over time. When prices rise, the purchasing power of money decreases, affecting your ability to buy goods and services with the same amount of money. While some inflation is considered healthy for an economy, excessive inflation can devalue currency, potentially leading to economic downturns or even currency devaluation.

The Bank of Canada plays a crucial role in managing inflation by targeting an annual inflation rate of 2%. Private lenders, however, are not immune to the effects of inflation. The rates they offer on mortgages are influenced by various factors tied to inflation. It's essential for borrowers to recognize that interest rates and inflation typically move in tandem, although there may be delays before borrowers feel the impact, particularly with fixed-term mortgages.

Another significant factor affecting mortgage rates during inflationary periods is the increased borrowing costs for lenders. As inflation rises, the money lenders borrow to fund mortgages becomes more expensive, leading to higher mortgage rates for borrowers. Additionally, lenders factor in the concept of real returns, adjusting mortgage rates to compensate for the erosion of future money value due to inflation. This often results in higher mortgage rates during periods of inflation.

Moreover, l enders may incorporate a "risk premium" into mortgage rates during inflationary times. Economic uncertainty associated with inflation can be perceived as risky by lenders, prompting them to raise mortgage rates above what is strictly necessary to cover inflationary effects. Understanding these economic considerations helps borrowers make informed decisions about mortgage borrowing during periods of inflation.

Strategies for Navigating Inflation-Driven Mortgage Decisions

Although you might not be able to influence current mortgage rates, there are steps you can take to protect yourself against the effects of inflation on your mortgage. Here are some useful tips to consider:

  1. Consider making additional payments towards the principal balance of your mortgage, as most mortgage agreements permit borrowers to do so up to a specified limit determined by the lender. With the possibility of rising rates, there is now added incentive to make extra payments, which can effectively reduce your outstanding mortgage balance. This not only aids in paying off the loan sooner but also minimizes the total interest paid over the loan term.
  2. Opt for a fixed-rate mortgage to lock in the current interest rates for the entirety of the loan term. Fixed-rate mortgages offer stability and predictability, shielding borrowers from potential future interest rate hikes. This is particularly advantageous during periods of increasing inflation when interest rates are prone to rise.
  3. Consider renewing your mortgage ahead of schedule , especially if you currently have a fixed-rate mortgage. Some lenders may offer early renewal options without imposing additional fees. While the renewed rate might be slightly higher than your initial rate, renewing early can help you avoid even steeper rate increases if you delay renewal.
  4. Evaluate the possibility of switching from a fixed-rate mortgage to a variable-rate mortgage during the renewal period . This strategy could result in savings if there's a notable disparity between the prevailing rates for variable and fixed mortgages. However, it's essential to weigh the risks associated with variable rates, including the potential for rates to increase over time.

Inflation's Role in Private Mortgage Financing

In private mortgage financing, inflation plays a significant role in shaping lending rates and borrower dynamics. It's important to recognize that private lenders operate differently from traditional banks and credit unions. Many of these alternative lenders collaborate with mortgage brokers and offer more lenient requirements. For instance, some private lenders are willing to approve loans for properties with at least 25% equity, providing more flexibility compared to conventional lenders.

Private mortgage lending rates are influenced by inflation peaks, among other factors. When inflation rises, the cost of goods and services increases, potentially making housing less affordable for families and individuals. Consequently, there may be a reduction in housing demand as affordability declines. In response to decreased demand, private lenders may adjust rates to remain competitive in a smaller borrower pool.

Additionally, changes in monetary policy, particularly interest rate adjustments by central banks, can impact private lending rates. Central banks often raise interest rates to combat inflation. Private lenders tend to follow these trends, adjusting their rates accordingly as interest rates increase. Understanding historical trends in central bank interest rate decisions provides insight into potential adjustments in private lending rates.

Another one of the distinguishing features of private lending is its tailored and flexible approach to lending. Private lenders can streamline processes and overlook flaws in borrowers' credit histories, offering financing options that may not be available through traditional lenders. This flexibility stems from the relatively lower level of regulation in the private lending industry compared to traditional financial institutions. In Ontario, private mortgage lenders operate under specific regulations outlined in the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, ensuring compliance with disclosure requirements and consumer protection legislation while allowing for a more customized lending experience.

Still unsure about your best options for a mortgage? Working with a Clover Mortgage broker one-on-one can provide you with more specialized and tailored advice than any of the guides we offer. Contact us today to get started with a free consultation.


How does inflation affect your mortgage?

Inflation can impact your mortgage in a number of different ways. Here are a few to consider:

  • Interest Rates: Central banks may increase interest rates to combat inflation by reducing the money supply or increasing borrowing costs. When interest rates rise, you may face higher monthly payments on your mortgage.
  • Purchasing Power: Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money over time. This means that the same amount of money will buy fewer goods and services in the future. However, for borrowers with fixed-rate mortgages, inflation can work to their advantage. As inflation rises, the real value of their mortgage debt decreases over time because they are repaying the debt with less valuable dollars.
  • Housing Prices: Inflation can lead to increases in housing prices. This can make it more expensive for borrowers to purchase homes and take out mortgages.
  • Income Growth: Inflation is often accompanied by increases in wages and salaries as employers adjust compensation to keep pace with rising prices. For homeowners with fixed-rate mortgages, this can make it easier to afford their monthly mortgage payments over time, as their incomes increase.

Is it good to borrow money during inflation?

Borrowing money during periods of inflation can be a good thing, depending on how you weigh the potential benefits and risks. One consideration is the impact of interest rates. During inflation, interest rates may rise. As such, you may want to assess whether borrowing now, potentially at lower rates, outweighs the risk of higher future borrowing costs.

Your answer may also change based on what you are borrowing the money for. For instance, borrowing to invest in assets that historically appreciate during inflation, such as real estate or certain stocks, might be advantageous. However, prudent risk assessment and financial planning are imperative, especially considering the potential for interest rate increases and income instability.

Moreover, you should consider the potential for income growth amidst inflation. In many cases, wages and salaries tend to increase to keep pace with rising prices. Borrowing with the anticipation of future income growth can make debt repayment more manageable over time. Nevertheless, borrowers must remain vigilant about their debt levels and repayment strategies, particularly if interest rates rise faster than expected. Additionally, the type of debt acquired plays a significant role: fixed-rate debt, like mortgages, offers some protection against inflation by allowing borrowers to repay loans with less valuable currency over time, whereas variable-rate debt exposes borrowers to fluctuations in interest costs.

Do mortgage rates follow interest rates?

Yes, mortgage rates typically follow changes in broader interest rates, although the relationship may not always be direct or immediate. Mortgage rates are influenced by various factors, with changes in the broader interest rate environment being one of the most significant.

Mortgage rates are closely tied to the yields on long-term government bonds, particularly the Government of Canada bond yields. The 5-year Government of Canada bond yield is often used as a benchmark for fixed-rate mortgage rates in Canada. When the yield on the 5-year GoC bond rises or falls, mortgage rates tend to move in the same direction, although not necessarily by the same magnitude or timing.

The Bank of Canada's monetary policy decisions also play a vital role in shaping interest rates, including mortgage rates. Changes to the Bank of Canada's key policy rate, known as the overnight rate, can influence borrowing costs throughout the economy, impacting variable-rate mortgages most directly.

Other factors, such as inflation expectations, economic indicators, investor sentiment, and global economic conditions, also impact mortgage rates. Lenders adjust mortgage rates based on these various factors to manage their own risks and maintain profitability.

Steven Tulman
Written By Steven Tulman
“Making the process of getting a mortgage an easy and enjoyable experience for every Clover Mortgage client!”