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Impact of Bank of Canada Recent Rate Hikes On New Immigrants

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The aggressive interest-rate hikes by the Bank of Canada has severely impacted new immigrants landed in Canada during the last couple of year.

While it pauses its rate hike cycle, the Bank of Canada recognizes the unequal impact of its rate changes and is evaluating how different groups of the population are faring.

Younger generations and new immigrants are more likely to be heavily in debt or to have obtained huge adjustable-rate mortgages to fund costly properties during the COVID-19 real estate bubble.

Rising rates are also harming the almost 40% of Canadian residents who rent their houses.

The dramatic decline in affordability, which is a key barrier to young adult house ownership, is driving up rental rates for families fighting for scarcer homes as hundreds of thousands of immigrants join Canada each year.

Floating-rate mortgage holders and members of historically disadvantaged groups – Indigenous and coloured Canadians, as well as individuals with disabilities — are more likely to be struck harder by rising interest rates, according to a Bank of Canada poll released on Monday.

According to the most recent income distribution statistics from Statistics Canada, less wealthy persons saw their net worth suffer the most when borrowing prices rose.

Governor Tiff Macklem expects a 425-basis-point interest-rate hike in less than a year to limit spending and contain surging inflation.

Bank of Canada Rate Hikes History
Bank of Canada Rate Hikes

Meanwhile, Macklem’s own statements before the hiking cycle began affected the behaviour of borrowers like Jajodia.

The vast bulk of her and her husband’s adjustable-rate mortgage payments are now going towards interest, increasing the amortisation term for their Toronto-suburb property.

They relocated from Bombay to Canada’s financial centre in September 2020, when property prices began to rise fast as emergency low borrowing rates fueled demand amid restricted availability.

Afraid they would lose out after witnessing their immigrant friends enter the housing market during the boom, they purchased their first house in February 2022, paying roughly $1 million on a property an hour outside from downtown.

A month later, Macklem and his staff began raising loan rates, causing housing values to fall. Real estate prices in the Halton Hills region, which includes their Georgetown home, are now down 23% from their purchase price.

“We were all rushing because we wanted to get a better rate.” We didn’t expect interest rates to rise by more than 400 basis points.

“We hadn’t included it into our calculations,” Jajodia explained in an interview, adding that Macklem’s 2020 address promising “low rates for a long period” affected their thinking.

“I sincerely regret my decision.” There is nothing we can do. We’re just waiting for interest rates to fall.”

Analysts predict that with Macklem’s previous rise in January, which raised the benchmark rate to 4.5 percent, about two-thirds of variable-rate borrowers’ monthly payments will be transferred to interest rather than principle.

A large number of fixed mortgages are also scheduled to renew at considerably higher rates. In contrast to the United States, where many households enjoy the security of fixed terms in popular 30-year loans, many Canadians must renegotiate their rates every five years.

The Bank of Canada is well aware of the issue.

It established the Heterogeneity Laboratory in 2020 to “better comprehend the breadth of family experiences in the Canadian economy.” And officials from Macklem on down frequently admit that their rate increases are painful but essential.

“We know that the monetary policy tightening we’ve undertaken is hard on many Canadians,” the governor said in a Feb. 7 speech in Quebec City. “Unfortunately, there is no easy way to restore price stability. Monetary policy doesn’t work as quickly or painlessly as everyone would like, but it works.”

Source: Bloomberg

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