Overnight Index Swaps

There are no shortage of predictions as to how when rate cuts start and how deep they go but the most objective predictor is typically “The Market”. Overnight Index Swaps (OIS) essentially trade debts and equity at an agreed upon rate of interest. But in doing so, they’re predicting or anticipating the next moves of the Bank of Canada (BoC) to set those rates. And the path the OIS market is predicting for the BoC right now is 0.25% rate cuts in:

  • April
  • June
  • September
  • October
  • December

That’s a total of 1.25% off the BoC overnight rate by the end of 2024. Which is excellent news for the housing market. And though we never want to get too far ahead of ourselves, some outfits like Capital Economics are calling for as much as a 2% cut by the BoC.

We talk a lot about pent up demand for housing and how it’s expected to come off the sidelines as we gain confidence in/start to see interest rate cuts. Ipsos conducted a poll in December that shows just how much prospective home buyers and sellers decisions are impacted by higher interest rates. 73% of those surveyed said “higher interest rates have me on the sidelines for now and I won’t buy or sell as a result.” Everyone in Real Estate and Mortgages have talked about pent-up demand over the last 18 months. This survey puts an actual number that shows the significance of just how much of an impact these higher rates have had. But what happens as we start to see rate cuts in the coming months? Certainly a share of that 73% will find more confidence to enter the market. The window to buy without significant competition may be closing and closing quickly.

Which leads us into spring and the market we might expect. 2023 saw a spring market that was stronger than the 10 year average. And that was with fixed interest rates that were still approaching 5%. Most borrowers opted for shorter term fixed rates in the ~4.85% range in the spring of 2023. And where do we sit today? On average, fixed rates of all terms are about 0.5% higher today than the same time last year. But as we get closer to the inevitable first cuts, it’s likely that fixed interest rates will see some more downward pressure. And it is quite possible that we will see the same levels we saw one year ago.

So where does all this leave us? “The Market” (OIS) is almost never wrong about the direction of rates. And while they’re not as good with timing or magnitude of moves, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the next move(s) are going to be downward. And as confidence grows into certainty, it’s fair to expect a good sized portion of that 73% to wade into the market and test the waters. The prescription here is to get prepared. Though there is much less urgency with rate holds in a declining rate market, there’s much higher urgency in having a quality pre-approval and knowing numbers and limits. Because when things turn, they turn quickly.

And hey – if you want to grab a coffee and talk  Reach out and let’s connect!

All the best in 2024!

Joan Wolf

[email protected]
Office: 250-869-0101
Cell: 778-231-0308