Expert realtors on how to move up Canada's property ladder
Top real estate agents around Canada offer some advice on how to leverage your home in this red-hot market.
On average, Canadians save thousands of dollars per year by comparing rates with us.
Compare rates from Canada's top banks and brokers
Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Vancouver is considered one of the most livable cities in the world—it’s also one of the most expensive. Vancouver may have the priciest real estate in British Columbia (and all of Canada, for that matter), but it also boasts some of the lowest mortgage rates anywhere in the country.
To start, you’ll want to do a mortgage rates comparison for Vancouver. With a little help from LowestRates.ca, you can quickly compare those rates from more than 30 brokers and banks. It’s a free, no-obligation service. Just tell us what you want to do—buy, refinance, or renew—and how much you want to borrow. LowestRates.ca will show you the lowest Vancouver mortgage rates you might qualify for and connect you with the right broker in your area.
Before you compare average Vancouver mortgage rates on LowestRates.ca, you’ll need to choose what type of mortgage to apply for. There are two main types of mortgages based on how big your down payment is: conventional mortgages and high-ratio mortgages.
A high-ratio mortgage is where the homebuyer has a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price. In this case, the homebuyer is required to purchase mortgage insurance from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
A conventional mortgage means the homebuyer makes a downpayment of at least 20% of the home’s purchase price. With a conventional mortgage, you don’t need to purchase CMHC insurance.
Here’s a comparison of conventional mortgage rates vs. high ratio mortgage rates in Vancouver.
|Date||Average Conventional Rate||Average High Ratio Rate|
Last Updated: March 1, 2021
While searching for the cheapest mortgage rates in Vancouver, one of the main decisions homebuyers will need to make is whether to choose a fixed or variable rate mortgage.
While fixed and variable rates have been closer than ever on LowestRates.ca over the past year, there are some key differences to be aware of.
A fixed mortgage rate stays the same for the entirety of your mortgage term. Fixed rates aren’t affected by interest rate changes, and give home buyers the stability of fixed monthly payments. However, the tradeoff is that fixed mortgage rates are generally higher than variable rates.
A variable rate can change over the course of your mortgage term. Your lender will adjust their prime rate based on market conditions, including the overnight lending rate set by the Bank of Canada. If the prime rate goes up, so does your mortgage rate. If it goes down, your mortgage rate does too. Variable mortgage rates are expressed as prime plus or minus a spread. For example, prime -0.5%. So if the prime rate is 2%, your interest rate will be 1.5% (2% - 0.5%).
Last Updated: March 1, 2021
When deciding whether or not to approve your mortgage application (and the interest rate they’ll offer), lenders look at a few different factors.
Down payment: When you buy a home, you’ll need to pay a percentage of the purchase price up front. In an expensive city, the down payment amount is very important: it determines the size of your Vancouver mortgage loan, and factors significantly into determining your mortgage rate. The more you can afford to put down, the better—a larger down payment means you present less risk to lenders, and will likely be able to make your mortgage payments on time.
In Canada, federal mortgage rules require homebuyers to put down 5% to 20% of the home’s total sales price, depending on the price of the home. Here’s how it works:
If your down payment is less than 20% of the total price of the home, you’ll need to purchase mortgage insurance from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Debt service ratio: Besides your down payment, mortgage lenders also consider how much money you owe. They look at two different types of debt ratios:
Gross debt service ratio (GDS): GDS ratio is the percentage of your monthly household income that goes toward paying for housing. Your GDS ratio is calculated by adding up the cost of your mortgage, property taxes, heating costs and 50% of your condo fees (if applicable), then dividing it by your gross annual household income (gross means before taxes). According to CMHC guidelines for lenders, the maximum household GDS should be 35%.
Total debt service credit ratio (TDS): As the name suggests, your TDS takes into account housing expenses plus all other monthly expenses (credit card debt, loan payments, car payments, etc.), added up and divided by your gross annual household income. CMHC guidelines state that a household’s TDS ratio should be less than 42%, but some lenders may make exceptions for borrowers with high credit scores and stable incomes.
Credit score: Your credit score is a numerical representation of your financial trustworthiness, and is used by lenders to decide how likely it is that you’ll repay your debts on time. In Canada, credit scores range from 300 to 900. Your credit score is calculated by looking at factors including payment history, number of open accounts, length of credit history and total debt levels. Your score directly affects whether you’ll be approved for a mortgage and the interest rates lenders will offer. The higher your credit score, the more likely it is that lenders across Canada can offer the best mortgage rates for Vancouver.
Income: Lenders want to see stable employment and a reliable source of income, whether it’s from a salaried job, rental income or investments. They’ll look at the type of employment (full-time, casual, temporary or seasonal) and how long you’ve been employed for. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to show lenders three years of tax returns, your personal and business credit score, business articles of incorporation, proof of ownership, business or GST licence and other supporting documents for your business such as an income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet.
The size of your mortgage will depend on where you live, your down payment and your mortgage interest rate. The benchmark price for a detached home in Vancouver is $1,538,900 as of November 2020, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). For a buyer with a 20% down payment ($307,780), the mortgage would be $1,231,120. This amount doesn’t include interest paid over the lifespan of the mortgage, which depends on the mortgage interest rate.
Remember: if your down payment is less than 20%, you’re required to buy CMHC mortgage insurance. This will increase the cost of your mortgage and the amount of interest you’ll pay. CMHC insurance premiums depend on the size of your down payment. Your mortgage insurance premium can be paid as a lump sum, or added to the cost of your mortgage.
Even with low mortgage rates, houses in Vancouver are expensive. With the average detached home still selling for well over $1 million, purchasing even a modest home is difficult for many Vancouver families. Condos are also expensive in Vancouver, although they haven’t appreciated at quite the same pace as detached houses have.
According to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, benchmark prices for detached homes in the Greater Vancouver Area increased from $1,406,900 to $1,538,900 between November 2019 and November 2020.
Other forms of housing, such as townhomes and apartments also saw increases. The benchmark price of a townhouse in Vancouver reached $814,800 in November 2020, and the benchmark price of an apartment reached $676,500.
Vancouver’s housing market has been hot year after year. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reported 3,064 residential homes sold in November 2020, an increase of 22.7% from the same time last year.
Single-family detached homes in the Vancouver area take an average of 42 days to sell, compared to 34 days for apartments and 35 days for townhouses.
After buying the property itself, closing costs are the last expenses you need to pay to finalize the deal. It’s usually advised to budget at least 1.5% of the home’s purchase price to cover closing costs (not including the down payment). When buying a home in Vancouver, closing costs may include:
Closing costs may include:
When you buy a home in Vancouver, you’ll have to pay a provincial land transfer tax. In B.C. it’s called the Property Transfer Tax (PTT). Here’s how the marginal tax rate works:
|Purchase Price||Tax Rate|
For example: For a Vancouver home that costs $1.2 million, you would pay $22,000 in provincial land transfer taxes.
Foreign nationals and foreign corporations have to pay an additional 20% PTT, known as the “foreign buyers’ tax.” This tax applies to residential homes in Metro Vancouver and several other municipalities across B.C.
Mortgage term: A mortgage term is the length of time homeowners are committed to their lender and interest rate. When the term ends, you can renew your contract at a new rate. Mortgage terms can range from six months to 10 years in Canada, but the most popular term is right in the middle at five years.
Amortization period: The amortization period is the total amount of time it will take you to pay off your mortgage loan’s principal, plus the interest. In Canada, the maximum amortization period is 35 years. If your down payment is less than 20% of the total price of the home and you’re required to purchase CMHC mortgage insurance, your maximum amortization period is 25 years.
In addition to choosing a mortgage term, amortization period and between a fixed or variable rate mortgage, Vancouver buyers will also need to decide between two types of mortgage payment structures: open or closed.
Open mortgage: This type of mortgage is more flexible, and can be paid off in full without penalty at any time. Open mortgages usually have a shorter term (up to five years), but interest rates are usually variable and a little bit higher compared to closed mortgages. Open mortgages are usually for people who want to make additional or increased mortgage payments, pay off the mortgage early, or move to a different home in the near future.
Closed mortgage: This type of mortgage requires you to make fixed payments on a set schedule for the entire term. You’ll be charged a penalty if you want to refinance, renegotiate or pay off your closed mortgage before the term is up. However, closed mortgage interest rates are usually lower. Some lenders will allow you to make accelerated payments up to a certain amount each year. Every lender will have its own terms and conditions around prepayments, so it’s important to ask or look at your mortgage contract before signing.
Vancouver is diverse and cosmopolitan, with gorgeous coastal waterways and a rich urban fabric made up of superb dining, walkable neighborhoods, and many cultural amenities. Vancouver is often cited as one of Canada’s most bike-friendly cities, and is connected by the SkyTrain light rapid transit system.
Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, but there’s also no getting around it: it’s also one of the most expensive. Housing is the biggest line item when it comes to calculating the cost of living in Vancouver. In a vibrant city with lots to do, you’ll also need to consider how much you spend on things like restaurants, bars, shopping and outdoor activities.
The cost of living will also depend on whether you’re a driver, transit commuter or cyclist. Unfortunately, Vancouver is also an expensive place to drive: residents of B.C. pay the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Because it’s a major city with bad traffic congestion, Vancouver drivers can expect to pay more for car insurance compared to other cities.
If you’re house hunting in B.C., securing a low Vancouver mortgage rate is one great way to save money on your mortgage. However, it’s one of many things you can do to increase the overall affordability of your mortgage. Some of these features might include prepayment privileges and portability.
Prepayment privileges: A prepayment privilege allows you to increase the amount of your monthly mortgage payments, up to a certain percentage each year. This means you can pay off your mortgage earlier without having to pay an additional fee. Some banks and brokers will offer different prepayment terms, so it’s important to raise the issue before you sign your contract.
Penalties: If you need to break your mortgage, which you may need to do when you refinance or move, you may be required to pay thousands of dollars in penalties. While you may wind up with a better rate, if you choose to go with a different lender, it’s important to look at the fine print to ensure that it won’t cost you more than you’ll gain.
Portability: One way to avoid these penalties is to negotiate a portable mortgage. Porting a mortgage means taking the existing mortgage contract and interest rate you have for your current home and transferring it to the new one you want to buy. This means you don’t have to go through the mortgage application process all over again, and you don’t have to worry about paying penalties if you want to move in the middle of your mortgage term.
LowestRates.ca works with more than 30 banks and brokers to bring you Vancouver’s best mortgage rates from lenders in Canada and we’re adding new ones. We work with our partners to obtain their best deals and offers, and then we let them compete for your business. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and in minutes you’ll be provided with today’s mortgage rates for Vancouver. There’s no obligation, but you can choose to speak with our broker partner to secure your best rate and see if you're eligible for more savings.
Yes, it’s safe — you no longer need to visit a bank branch or mortgage broker’s office in person to apply for a mortgage. It’s becoming increasingly common for Canadians to apply for mortgages online. LowestRates.ca only works with reputable, trustworthy financial institutions. Your credit score won’t be affected and your information is secure. We don’t share your information with anyone unless you want to connect with a mortgage broker. We take care of the heavy lifting by comparing the market for you and can connect you with the best mortgage lenders not only in Vancouver, but across the country.
We have a strong selection of lenders on LowestRates.ca including the big banks and many independent providers and we’re adding more lenders all the time. This ensures we’re always delivering you a competitive rate. Even if you’re not ready to commit to anything, you can use our site as a starting point for research (it’s totally free, and you’re under no obligation).
The better informed you are, the more likely you'll negotiate a better deal for yourself. And, really, that’s what we care about the most.
Top real estate agents around Canada offer some advice on how to leverage your home in this red-hot market.
First-time buyers can be more prone to make mistakes because they don’t have as much experience.