The Bank of Canada held the interest rate at 5% on September 6, 2023. Cold comfort for the homeowners who find themselves already struggling to maintain their mortgage payments. With interest rates so high a new trend in homeownership is emerging – infinity mortgages.
What is an infinity mortgage?
Simply put: an infinity mortgage is when your monthly interest is more than your monthly payment. The result is a ballooning loan amount.
How does a mortgage fall into the infinity category?
Given the high interest rates many variable rate homeowners have opted to fix their payments while the rates continue to fluctuate. Instead of locking in at a high rate, these homeowners are betting that the rates will come down and their payments along with them. In the meantime, if what they are paying per month is less than the interest they are accruing, they slip into what is now called an infinity mortgage – thanks to the little infinity symbols that are appearing next to the years of amortization on bank statements.
Another way that mortgages are falling into infinity is through increasing amortization. Although the longest amortization in Canada is currently 30 years, some homeowners are seeing amortizations rise dramatically due to infinity mortgages. What might have started out as a regular 25-year amortization would have crept upwards with the slow build-up of interest being added to the loan.
Can infinity end?
If you find yourself in such a situation, don’t despair! These mortgages end with the end of your loan term. Once your loan comes up for renewal, your amortization will reset – but you will likely have to make a much higher mortgage payment every month than you do now to prevent the infinity cycle from happening again.
Your best option is to bite the bullet and to make the higher monthly payment right away. If you are unable to find extra money from somewhere, then you should use the time when you are in an infinity mortgage situation to look for ways to come up with extra money to meet your monthly payments or to build up a hefty down payment for when your loan does come up for renewal. If you are able to pay down some money towards the principal then you would be refinancing on a lower amount resulting in less interest and lower monthly payments.
It is not possible to predict exactly when interest rates will start coming down again. So, it is best to plan for rates to remain high for the medium-term. If you are prepared, then you will be better positioned for when rates do come down. And, you will be better able to handle any future rate hikes as well.