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In Canada, there are two main types of mortgage products homebuyers can secure when purchasing a home. These include the conventional mortgage contract and the high ratio mortgage contract. A conventional mortgage refers to a contract where the homeowners have put at least 20% of the home’s price towards a down payment. A high ratio mortgage refers to a contract where the homeowners have put less than 20% of the home’s price towards a down payment. Homebuyers with high ratio mortgages also need to purchase mortgage insurance from the CMHC, which often means that high ratio mortgage rates are slightly lower than conventional mortgage rates. A lender or broker can give you more insight into which type of mortgage will work best for you.

Conventional 5-year fixed mortgage rates vs. high ratio 5-year fixed mortgage rates in British Columbia

DateAverage Conventional RateAverage High Ratio Rate
04/20 2.82%2.51%
05/20 2.50%2.32%
06/20 2.38%2.23%
07/20 2.23%2.08%
08/20 2.10%1.93%
09/20 2.02%1.82%
10/20 1.90%1.75%
11/20 1.82%1.64%
12/20 1.86%1.66%
01/21 1.94%1.71%
02/21 1.67%1.49%

Last Updated: March 1, 2021

Fixed rate mortgages vs. variable rate mortgages. Which is right for you?

We did the math so you don’t have to. Our current 5-year fixed rate mortgages in B.C. now sit under 2%. While variable rates are typically lower than fixed rates, our variable rates have been neck-in-neck with our fixed rates over the past year. As of the time of writing, our fixed rates remain fractionally higher.

The bottom line is, comparing B.C. mortgage rates on could save you a lot of money. And, no matter whether you prefer a fixed or variable rate, you’re getting a great deal on

5-year fixed vs. 5-year variable mortgage rates in British Columbia

04/20 2.30%2.79%
05/20 2.15%2.42%
06/20 2.07%2.31%
07/20 2.00%2.16%
08/20 1.94%2.03%
09/20 1.83%1.93%
10/20 1.79%1.83%
11/20 1.76%1.73%
12/20 1.69%1.74%
01/21 1.68%1.83%
02/21 1.45%1.62%

Last Updated: March 1, 2021

Focus On

British Columbia’s housing market.

The housing market in B.C. has been booming for years. Prices in the highly-populated areas of the province can reach high heights, with the benchmark price of a home in Greater Vancouver being higher than $1 million.

Single-detached family home prices in B.C.


Last Updated: Feb. 3, 2021

Source: MLS Home Price Index

Single-detached family homes aren’t the only form of housing that has fluctuated in the B.C market over the past year.

Condo prices in B.C.


Last Updated: Feb. 3, 2021

Source: MLS Home Price Index

Townhouse prices in B.C. 


Last Updated: Feb. 3, 2021

Source: MLS Home Price Index 

Your British Columbia mortgage questions, answered.

Looking for mortgage info? Check out our Home Buyers Guide.

What’s the difference between a mortgage term and an amortization period?

Mortgage term: The mortgage term refers to the amount of time you’re locked into your mortgage contract. This includes the rate, lender and the contract’s terms and conditions. At the end of the term, you’ll be able to renew your mortgage contract at a new rate. Homeowners repeat this process until they pay off the principal of their mortgage. A mortgage term can vary in length from six months to 10 years, but the most popular term in Canada is 5 years.

Amortization period: The amortization period refers to the amount of time it takes to pay off the principal of your mortgage. In Canada, the maximum amortization period is 35 years. If your down payment is less than 20%, however, you’ll have been required to purchase mortgage insurance from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The maximum amortization period on insured mortgages is 25 years.

Variable or fixed: which one is best?

A major question you’ll face when searching for the best mortgage rate in B.C. is whether to go with a fixed or variable rate. But, what’s the difference? Essentially, a variable rate means that your rate is not fixed. Instead, the rate will be adjusted by your lender based on the market conditions. A fixed rate means that your interest rate doesn’t change until your mortgage term ends.

For just over a year (Jan. 2019 to Feb. 2020), B.C. fixed mortgage rates were lower than B.C. variable mortgage rates offered on This represents a shift from the previous year, when variable rates were generally lower than fixed rates. This has recently reversed itself, but we’ll regularly update this information to ensure you’re knowledgeable about any shifts in the market.

What factors determine my B.C. mortgage rate?

Home prices in B.C. are among the highest in Canada. Depending on the size of your down payment, this will factor significantly into how large your mortgage will be.

It’s important to note that, while the size of your down payment may signal to lenders how capable you are of making your monthly payments, there are other factors that also contribute to determining your mortgage rate. Keep reading to learn about each of these factors and how they contribute to the mortgage rate lenders are willing to offer you:

  • Your down payment: B.C. lenders will ultimately look at your down payment as the primary indicator of whether you’ll be able to pay back your mortgage loan. When it comes to your down payment, the more you can put down, the better.
  • Your debt service ratios: In addition to your down payment, B.C. lenders will also look at your debt service ratios when deciding what mortgage rate to offer you. These can be grouped into two categories:
  • Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS): Your GDS shows whether you earn enough money to afford your monthly housing costs. Housing costs include your mortgage, property taxes, heating and 50% of your condo fees (if applicable). The lender then divides the sum of these payments by your gross annual income. If the resulting percentage is less than 35%, your lender will feel confident that you can handle your monthly housing payments.
  • Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS): While your GDS ratio is calculated using your housing costs, your TDS is calculated using everything else. Your TDS ratio comprises your GDS ratio, plus any other monthly payments you have to make that are not related to housing. These could include credit card debt, loan payments and car payments. If the total, divided by your gross annual income, is more than 42%, your lender will be doubtful of your ability to make all your monthly payments.

How can I get the best mortgage rate in B.C.?

Shop around: While it can be tempting to take the first offer you receive, it’s important to shop around to get a sense of the mortgage market. You’d think the bank you’ve been with for 10 years would give you a great rate for being a loyal customer, but the opposite is sometimes true: they’re not worried about you leaving any time soon, so they don’t feel pressure to keep your business.

Reduce your other debts: B.C. lenders will often take other, non-housing debts into account when determining whether you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage. One way to show that you’re a safe bet (and secure a lower rate) is to lower your credit card and loan debt. These debts contribute to your total debt service ratio, as we explained above.

Use a broker: A mortgage broker will know the ins and outs of the local mortgage market better than the average bank employee. Plus, they’re not tied to one institution; they can show you rates from a bunch of different lenders. This also gives them a leg up when negotiating your mortgage contract with a lender. We’ll connect you to one when you compare quotes on our site.

How much does getting the best mortgage rate in B.C. matter?

The short answer to this question is, a lot. Getting a lower mortgage rate is a great way to save money on your mortgage. However, it’s not the only thing you can do to secure an optimal mortgage contract. There are other features to be on the lookout for that will help you get the most value out of your mortgage. Some of these features might include prepayment privileges and portability.

What if I want to pay off my mortgage early? Or break it?

Depending on the terms of your mortgage and the flexibility of your lender, you may or may not be able to pay off your mortgage ahead of schedule. Additionally, breaking your mortgage can be a real hassle. Here are a few factors that many people don’t consider when first signing the contract — an oversight which may wind up costing them a lot of money down the line.

  • Prepayment privileges: Before signing on the dotted line, prepayment privileges are something you should discuss with your lender. Not all banks and brokers offer the same prepayment terms, so it’s important to raise the issue.
  • Penalties: If, for whatever reason, you need to break your mortgage, you could pay thousands of dollars in penalties. Read the fine print. Breaking your mortgage because you found a lower rate may wind up costing more than you stand to gain.
  • Portability: One way to avoid these penalties is to negotiate a portable mortgage. This means that if you move, you can transfer your mortgage to a new home and combine it with an additional mortgage loan.

What else should I know about getting a mortgage in B.C.?

While many mortgage rules are consistent across Canada, there are some regulations determined at the provincial and municipal level.

Foreign Buyers Tax: Prospective homebuyers in B.C. should be aware of the foriegn buyer’s tax that was introduced in several regions in 2016, including Capital Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District, Metro Vancouver Regional District, Regional District of Central Okanagan and Regional District of Nanaimo.

The tax, which is contained in the Property Transfer Tax Act, imposes an additional 20% levy on foreign buyers looking to purchase property in B.C. This will only apply to you if you’re interested in purchasing a property in B.C. but don’t currently pay income tax there. You may be able to apply for a rebate later on if you live, work or study in the region.

Speculation and Vacancy Tax: If you’re shopping for an investment property in B.C., beware. The Speculation and Vacancy tax was implemented in the following regions: Capital Regional District (CRD), Metro Vancouver Regional District, City of Abbotsford, District of Mission, City of Chilliwack, City of Kelowna, City of West Kelowna and the District of Lantzville in 2018.

This tax aims to discourage housing speculation and prevent people from investing in properties that are then left empty in metropolitan areas. 99% of British Columbians are exempt from this tax. Check out the B.C. government’s website to learn more about whether either of these, or other, taxes apply to you.

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