A Game-Changer for Homebuyers and Homeowners

Bank of Canada's Interest Rate Announcement on January 24, 2024: A Game-Changer for Homebuyers and Homeowners


Sunny Kaler

1/26/20242 min read

In a pivotal move on January 24, 2024, the Bank of Canada held its overnight lending rate steady at 5%. This decision, signaling a potential shift in the monetary policy, could have profound implications for the real estate market, especially for first-time homebuyers and those looking to renew their mortgages.

Throughout 2023, the Bank of Canada's rate adjustments were primarily driven by persistent inflation. These changes have been closely monitored by Canadians, as they directly influence the lending rates of banks, including mortgage rates.

The steady rate has led economists, including those at TD Economics, to anticipate a rate cut as early as Spring 2024. This expectation is based on several factors, including cooling core inflation (excluding food and energy) and sustained high shelter inflation. Despite these trends, there's a growing consensus that a rate cut could mitigate the risks of a deepening recession if interest rates remain high for an extended period.

Such a cut would mark the first since the early COVID-19 pandemic days, creating a nuanced communication challenge for the Bank of Canada. This is particularly relevant in managing household inflation expectations, which are already elevated and often overshadow housing cost pressures.

For over two years during the pandemic, the Bank of Canada maintained its overnight lending rate at 0.25%. However, in response to rising inflation and global events like the Ukraine war, the rate was incrementally raised to 5% by July 2023, where it has since remained.

What does this mean for homeowners and prospective buyers? A potential rate cut could imply lower mortgage rates, enhancing affordability and possibly stabilizing or even reducing home prices. This is crucial for homeowners whose mortgages are up for renewal soon and might face higher rates than when they initially secured their loans.

TD's Mortgage Prime Rate, a variable annual interest rate used to determine variable-rate mortgages, is directly influenced by the Bank of Canada's overnight lending rate. Thus, any changes in the latter could affect homeowners with variable rate mortgages or those renewing fixed rate mortgages.

Natasha Struminikovski, Associate Vice President, Homebuyers Journey at TD, emphasizes the importance of early planning and seeking advice in navigating the evolving market. As interest rates fluctuate, they impact home and rent prices, which in turn affect affordability. Historically, low interest rates have correlated with increased property demand and higher prices, and vice versa.

In conclusion, while the Bank of Canada's decision to maintain the rate at 5% might appear static, it potentially sets the stage for future rate cuts. This could bring relief and new opportunities for both current and aspiring homeowners in Canada, making it a critical time to stay informed and prepared for the changing landscape of the real estate market​​.