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Conventional vs. high-ratio mortgages: which is cheaper?

If you’re new to the world of mortgages, you’re probably unaware that there are two different types: high-ratio and conventional mortgages.

A high-ratio mortgage is when the down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. As a result, you have to buy mortgage default insurance. In Canada, there are three mortgage default insurance providers: the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canada Guaranty, and Sagen (formerly known as Genworth Canada).

A conventional mortgage is when the down payment is 20% or more of the purchase price. On a home that costs $350,000, that means your down payment is at least $70,000.

While mortgage interest rates in Winnipeg are usually lower when you get a high-ratio mortgage, the total costs including interest will often be higher because you’re also required to purchase mortgage default insurance. Of course, you’ll pay less interest if you get the best mortgage rates in Winnipeg.

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

DateAverage Conventional RateAverage High Ratio Rate
04/20 2.88%2.48%
05/20 2.60%2.28%
06/20 2.53%2.05%
07/20 2.49%1.99%
08/20 2.39%1.99%
09/20 2.04%1.89%
10/20 1.97%1.83%
11/20 1.83%1.72%
12/20 1.85%1.68%
01/21 1.75%1.65%
02/21 1.71%1.49%
03/21 2.14%1.74%

Last Updated: April 1, 2021

Fixed rate vs. variable rate mortgages: which is cheaper?

You should compare mortgage rates in Winnipeg before shopping for a home. That will help give you an idea of what you can afford if you qualify for the lowest mortgage rates in Winnipeg. You’ll also need to decide if you want a fixed or a variable rate mortgage.

Fixed mortgage rates in Winnipeg (and in Canada for that matter) don’t change during the mortgage term, which is often five years. On the other hand, variable rate mortgage rates will usually change if the Bank of Canada increases or decreases the overnight rate. Typically, the term on a variable rate mortgage is also five years.

Although variable mortgage rates in Winnipeg and across Canada are usually lower than fixed rates, there’s been a reversal over the last year. While variable and fixed rates are currently about the same, fixed rates are slightly lower than variable rates.

Here’s an overview of the average 5-year mortgage rates in Manitoba (including Winnipeg):

5-year fixed vs. 5-year variable mortgage rates in Manitoba

04/20 2.23%2.77%
05/20 2.00%2.50%
06/20 2.02%2.32%
07/20 1.98%2.31%
08/20 1.97%2.33%
09/20 1.81%2.02%
10/20 1.77%1.96%
11/20 1.84%1.79%
12/20 1.78%1.77%
01/21 1.62%1.75%
02/21 1.50%1.63%
03/21 1.50%1.93%

Last Updated: April 1, 2021

Factors that affect your Winnipeg mortgage rate

Today, mortgage rates in Winnipeg are quite low. But there are a variety of factors that can affect whether or not you’ll be able to qualify for the cheapest mortgage rates in Winnipeg. Read below to find out what lenders are looking for when they calculate your mortgage for a Winnipeg home.

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Typical mortgage amount in Winnipeg

With the average price of a single-family home in Winnipeg priced around $300,000, the typical mortgage amount will be $240,000 if you make a down payment of 20% (or $60,000). However, the cost of the mortgage will actually be much higher because of the interest you’ll need to pay over the amortization period.

If you’re unable to make a 20% down payment, you’re required to get mortgage default insurance. Typically, the insurance premium is added to the mortgage. As a result, your mortgage will be higher than what you originally expected.

In the event you make a 5% down payment on a $300,000 home, you will have a mortgage of $285,000. But when you add the 4% insurance premium to the mortgage, your total mortgage will be $296,400. That’s not including the provincial sales tax (PST) on the insurance premium you’re required to pay in Manitoba.

Winnipeg housing market and home prices

“Stable” is probably the defining word when it comes to Winnipeg real estate. Benchmark prices for single-family homes have inched up over the last five years, but gains have been modest compared to other major cities in Canada. As of December 2020, the benchmark price for a single-family home in Winnipeg is $297,700.

Many forecasters, including the CMHC, see Winnipeg home prices edging higher in the next couple of years as a flood of first-time buyers enters the market.

Home sales jumped 44% in December 2020 compared to the year-ago period, according to the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board. There were also increases in prices in terms of the types of homes that sold.

The average selling price of a detached home was $342,289 in December 2020, an increase of 8.2%. The average selling price of an attached home rose 1.4% to $284,400. And the average selling price of a condo increased 2.5% to $235,339 in December 2020.

Winnipeg closing costs and land transfer tax

Many homebuyers are surprised to learn there are additional expenses called closing costs when buying a home. Expect to spend an additional 3% to 4% of the purchase price on these.

These are some common closing costs:

In Manitoba, there’s also a land transfer tax and a $104 registration fee you need to pay to the provincial government that make up part of your closing costs. The tax rate is applied on a sliding scale as follows:

That means you need to pay a land transfer tax of $3,720 on a $300,000 purchase.


Information for first-time home buyers in Winnipeg

When comparing bank mortgage rates, Winnipeg buyers may feel a bit overwhelmed. If that’s too much of a hassle, you might want to get a broker to compare mortgage rates in Winnipeg on your behalf. The good thing is you don’t need to pay for their services because the lender pays them. Keep in mind that the broker doesn’t lend to you, it finds a lender for you.

The mortgage rates that a Winnipeg broker finds are often better than what your financial institution offers because a number of lenders are competing with each other to get your business. While many believe that being a loyal bank customer for many years will help you get the best rate, that’s not entirely true. In some cases, the bank may match or beat what other lenders offer.

There are also some tax credits first-time buyers can use.

First, there’s the home buyers’ amount, which is formerly known as the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit. This $5,000 non-refundable tax credit can be used by first-time buyers as well as persons with disabilities when they purchase a new home.

Second, there’s the GST/HST New Housing Rebate. Tax is included in the purchase price of new homes and this credit allows you to recover the GST. The rebate can be used on either a home that’s purchased from a builder as well as a home you build yourself.

Your questions about Winnipeg mortgages, answered.

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

There’s a lot of jargon related to mortgages and it can be confusing. Here’s a quick overview of a mortgage term and the amortization period:

The length of the mortgage you get is called the term. The most common term is five years, but it can range from six months to 10 years. When the term is about to end, you have the option to stick with your current lender or find a different lender if you think you can find a better rate. It’s common to have a number of mortgages from multiple lenders over your lifetime.

The length of time you have to pay off your mortgage is called the amortization period, which is usually 25 years. It’s possible to get a mortgage with an amortization of 15 or 20 years, which will increase your mortgage payment and reduce the amount of interest you pay. You can also get a mortgage that has an amortization of 30 or 35 years, but you have to make a down payment of at least 20%.

What’s the difference between an open mortgage vs. a closed mortgage?

When looking at the current mortgage rates, Winnipeg buyers will likely notice there’s a significant difference between rates on closed and open mortgages.

Closed mortgages will usually have a lower interest rate. Of course, there’s always a catch. In this case, there are restrictions when you have a closed mortgage. There may be restrictions on how many mortgage prepayments you can make every year and the amount you’re allowed to prepay. There will also be a large financial penalty if you pay off your mortgage before the term is up. You should review these restrictions before you take on a mortgage.

Open mortgages have higher interest rates, but without the restrictions that come with a closed mortgage. You can make prepayments whenever you want, you aren’t restricted to how much of a prepayment you can make, and you can pay off the entire mortgage without having to pay a penalty at any time.

If you’re buying a home in Winnipeg, a comparison of mortgage rates will show you how much of a difference there is between rates on open and closed mortgages.

How much does it cost to live in Winnipeg?

Tourism Winnipeg promotes the town as a "bustling cosmopolitan city with plenty of small town charm and a proud Aboriginal heritage." The city is also home to the world class Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Canada's oldest ballet company, the Winnipeg Royal Ballet. Residents and visitors alike can also enjoy the many impressive visual arts collections housed in the city.

Winnipeg is also an inexpensive place to live compared to Canada’s larger cities. The average price of a home in Winnipeg is less than one third the cost as Vancouver or Toronto. That makes living in Winnipeg quite affordable.

Even the cost of renting in Winnipeg is lower than most cities. The average monthly rent in Winnipeg was $1,107 in 2020, according to the CMHC. That’s less than what renters pay every month in Toronto ($1,523), Vancouver ($1,508), Ottawa ($1,358), Calgary ($1,195), and Edmonton ($1,153). However, it’s higher than the average monthly rent in Saskatoon ($1,078), Regina ($1,061), Montreal ($891), and Quebec City ($854).

Winnipeggers have it pretty good when it comes to commuting. Only 2.3% of drivers in the city spend 60 minutes or more commuting to work compared to 11.1% of Torontonians and 7.7% of Vancouverites, according to Statistics Canada. Also, annual car insurance rates were much lower for Manitobans in 2020. They paid an average of $1,140 a month compared to $1,528 a month for Ontarians and $1,832 a month for British Columbians.

How much does getting a lower interest rate matter in Winnipeg?

Besides getting the best home mortgage rates, Winnipeg buyers should also look at these when choosing a mortgage:

Prepayment privileges: You’re usually allowed to make extra mortgage payments when you have a closed mortgage, but the amount may vary. For instance, you might be allowed to pay up to 10%, 15%, or 20% of the original mortgage amount once a year.

Mortgage penalty: You will have to pay a fee when you break a closed mortgage early. This penalty is often charged when you refinance or switch lenders before the term ends. The penalty can be thousands of dollars depending on when during the term you break the mortgage.

Porting your mortgage: When you sell your home and move to another home, you may be able to take your mortgage with you. This essentially transfers your mortgage from one property to another. Your mortgage payments will be the same, the interest rate won’t change, and you can avoid paying a huge mortgage penalty.

Your questions about, answered.

How are mortgage rates determined on works to bring you the best mortgage rates from 75+ banks and brokers across Canada, including Winnipeg. 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 Winnipeg. 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.

Is it safe to get a mortgage online?

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. 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 Winnipeg, but across the country.

How do I know I’m getting the lowest rate?

We have a strong selection of lenders on 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.

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