What a difference a year makes. The housing market has taken a sharp turn since the spring of 2022 — and a series of rate hikes mean that even six months ago those looking to renew a mortgage were in a very different place. It’s made first-time buyers hesitant to jump in, and those in starter homes are putting off plans to make a move or refinance.
But Senior Financial Advisor Rene Owen from Island Savings says it’s not all bad news.
“For people looking to buy, the market is a little less stressful, thankfully! Buyers are able to keep subjects on their offers, avoid bidding wars, take their time and feel confident in their decision.”
Typically, when interest rates go down, housing prices go up. So, if you find the home you want now, it may not make sense to wait – especially if you’re selling a starter home at the same time.
“When purchasing a new home, it’s tempting to focus on the increased interest rates. But if you’re also purchasing a single-family home for $750,000 that was selling closer to $900,000 at its peak, your savings will far outweigh any additional interest costs when the market improves,” Owen says.
“The other thing to remember is that — depending on your needs — we can explore options for a more flexible rate down the road, including shorter terms, refinancing and blend-and-extends,” Owen says.
Personalized mortgage solutions, tailored to your needs
With the mortgage stress test and higher rates, you may be concerned with how much you will qualify for. But Owen says that advisors attuned to local needs – with flexible tools at their disposal — can often find a creative, personalized solution to your mortgage needs.
“We’ll work hard to help you get the home you want. Local lenders understand the value of your assets and employment, and weigh more than just numbers when looking at mortgage options.”
Not everyone on Vancouver Island lives in a suburban single-detached home, and a good advisor should feel comfortable thinking outside the box. If you’re considering a tiny home on your own property, a mobile home on leased land or an old farmhouse, a savvy lender may still be able to help you qualify for a mortgage.
Owen remembers working with one member who’d been declined a mortgage from a larger lender because the people reviewing the application weren’t overly familiar with the Duncan area and decided it was too rural to take the risk.
“Because we’re so immersed in each of our Island communities, we know Duncan’s position in the Cowichan Valley. We recognize those small businesses on your letter of employment, so it doesn’t have to go through three levels of approval. I can call up our lending office, let them know the situation, and say, ‘How can we make this work?’”
Homebuyers are more savvy than ever— where does an Advisor fit in?
Thanks to a wealth of information online, Owen says the members she meets are far more educated than ever before — and that’s a good thing. They know about interest rates and the market, know what they’re looking for and may have used an online mortgage calculator to get a sense of what they can afford. On the flip side, today’s digital landscape is awash with misinformation that can lead borrowers astray.
“You’re making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, and it doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. A 30-second clip you found on social media might offer great advice for one specific situation, but sometimes it’s inaccurate or may not tell the whole story—what rate are they using, what payment system, what property type, what financial goals do they have for five, 10 or 15 years from now? Working with an Advisor gives you a holistic sense of your financial picture and helps you discover your unique needs. Having those specifics helps you make the most informed decision.”
Even after you’ve signed your mortgage contract, your Advisor will continue to look out for you.
“The homebuying journey goes far beyond a mortgage— it’s about building a strong financial foundation for years to come. Whether you are buying your first home or taking the next step in your homeownership journey, an Advisor ensures your mortgage integrates with your full financial picture, helping you continue to work towards your family’s long-term financial goals.”
Learn more at islandsavings.ca/borrow/mortgages.