5 Sep

The Bank of Canada’s Monetary Policy Report and it’s Impact on You


Posted by: Marie Tean

Published by FCT

August 27, 2021

The Bank of Canada’s Monetary Policy Report and its Impact on You.

The Bank of Canada (BoC) released its latest Monetary Policy Report (MPR), and the outlook is optimistic. With the economy re-opening, vaccinations on the rise, and supply chains finding relief from the bottleneck they’ve experienced, the future looks promising.

What impact does the MPR have on you? What are the implications for mortgages? Let’s take a look at some areas of particular interest.


While the economy may be starting to rebound, it hasn’t made a full recovery yet. To get back to pre-pandemic levels will take time, and the road may be winding. For that reason, the bank is maintaining its key policy rate at 0.25%. The historically low rate, which has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic, will only be raised when the economy can bear the weight of higher interest.

The BoC stresses that it takes time for monetary policy actions to affect the economy. They state that policy usually takes six to eight quarters for their full effects to be felt, so it’s always a question of playing the long game.

The MPR forecasts that the economy will grow by around 6% in 2021. This means that while the economy grew at a slow rate during the first half of the year, it’s anticipated that consumers are ready to start spending more, especially with COVID restrictions being lifted to various degrees nationwide.

While employment has been recovering, the rate has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic levels. That factor, coupled with the price of gasoline and the cost of services rising as business return, led the BoC to state that inflation will run at or above 3% through the year. The rate is projected to ease to the bank’s target of 2% in 2022, rising again then settling to the target rate by 2024.

Finally, the central bank currently purchases federal bonds at a rate of about $3 billion per week. These purchases are a means to help lower the rates on mortgages and businesses loans. Because these bonds have a guaranteed return on investment, they provide assurance for the federal government that they can balance their books with lower mortgage rates. That is, they will continue to see a return on investment, even if they aren’t recovering extra money from mortgages. The purchase of bonds will be reduced to $2 billion per week, as economic conditions have improved since the start of the pandemic.


The good news for homebuyers is that with the Bank of Canada’s rate remaining at 0.25%, mortgages will continue to be low for the next while. If you’re looking to get a new mortgage or to refinance your current one, now is a great time to do so. You’ll be able to take advantage of the incredibly low interest rate, securing it for your next term. This is assuming, of course, that you’re able to pass the stress test, if it applies to your purchase.

If you currently hold a variable rate mortgage, it could be time to think about locking in at a fixed rate. While the interest rates will stay low for the next while, they are destined to rise. While this may not happen until 2022, you don’t want to be caught unaware by rising interest.

When interest rates do rise, homeowners will feel the effects across the country. While cities like Toronto and Vancouver already have higher real estate prices, places like Montreal and Halifax are witnessing increasing prices as well. This, coupled with the high demand for real estate brought on by the pandemic, means that home buyers are taking out bigger loans to pay for their homes. When the mortgage rate increases, people who have more costly mortgages will have to pay more in monthly costs. In some cases, the increase in interest might make mortgage payments unendurable.

Be advised: The housing market remains competitive, and with the workforce returning, more individuals could be looking to purchase a home. If you are considering buying a home, take time to carefully calculate what you can afford for a down payment and how much of a mortgage you can handle. Knowing what you can safely afford when all your expenses are taken into account ensures that you only look at properties that are within your reach.


As the rise in interest rates are inevitable, here are a few tips to help you ready yourself for the event.

  • If you are currently paying your mortgage on a monthly schedule, consider changing your payment plan to a bi-weekly one as soon as you can afford to do so. By doing this, you’ll be putting more money towards the principal of your mortgage and less to the interest.
  • Set up a dedicated account and start saving any extra money that you can. Most mortgage contracts allow for a lump-sum payment at certain times. When your time comes, apply any extra money that you have to the principal of your loan. This way, you’ll reduce the principal you have left to pay, in turn lowering the amount of interest you have to pay as well. When the mortgage rates inevitably rise, you won’t feel the effects as much as you would if you had a greater principal remaining.

Remember, the BoC states that policy actions take time, and that policies must be forward looking. When thinking about your mortgage and loans, you should be considering the future as well.

Think of ways to save money on your mortgage both in the present and in the future. Speak with your mortgage broker or lender, as they may have advice about how to lower the cost of your repayments. If you’re in the market for a new home, consider the inevitable rise in interest rates when calculating what you can afford to spend on a home. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re house poor, or even worse, having to foreclose on your mortgage.

Are you currently paying off a mortgage or looking at getting a new one? Let us know your experiences in the comments.

This is intended to be used as general information only and does not constitute financial advice. Please do your due diligence before making any financial decisions.

5 Sep

Are e-signatures in Real Estate Transactions Here to Stay?


Posted by: Marie Tean

Published by FCT
September 2, 2021

The pandemic has changed the way we do business. Between home offices and ZOOM meetings, our daily engagements have felt a seismic shift. While some of these changes are temporary fixes, others could prove to be the new normal.

If you’ve bought or sold a property in the last year, you’ll recognize some of these changes right away. From virtual open houses and appointment-only viewings to online meetings with banks and lawyers, you might question if you’ll ever personally meet any of the people you’ve been doing business with.

One of the biggest changes in the management of real estate transactions is that you don’t always have to provide a “wet,” or physical, signature. Instead, in a lot of cases, you can provide an e-signature to act as your legally binding agreement.

While e-signatures have been used in real estate transactions for years, since the start of the pandemic, their use has increased exponentially. “Prior to COVID, I would guess that I was using e-signatures 60-70% of the time” notes Ronald Francis, a real estate broker with 22 years of residential experience, “now it would be at least 90%, maybe 95%.”

A spokesperson from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), observes that the introduction of e-signatures to mortgage documents had been in the works, but was pushed to implementation with the pandemic. “At the onset of the pandemic,” he states, “we rapidly shifted our priorities and launched an e-signature solution that could be leveraged by our mortgage specialists. The use of e-signatures has accelerated steadily ever since.”

Mark Weisleder, a senior partner and notary public at Real Estate Lawyers.ca LLP, points out that while the pandemic resulted in a rapid shift in how business was handled, the change was almost inevitable. “Already, a year or two before the pandemic, things were moving in that [the e-signature] direction,” he comments.

To see the real estate industry’s confidence in e-signatures, look no further than Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)’s partnering with DocuSign, an electronic signature management program. While this partnership began before the pandemic, it demonstrates how the industry was prepared for the shift.

Adopting e-signatures into real estate transactions has had numerous advantages for the industry. Mark Weisleder observes, “I think [the government] did realize that the electronic signature in many ways is more secure, and there’s a record of it, even more so than a hand written signature”. With the digital footprint they leave behind, it’s much easier for e-signatures to be authenticated, and easier for witnesses to be verified.

During the pandemic, e-signatures have also allowed real estate agents, mortgage brokers and lawyers to stay at the forefront of health and safety. RBC notes “to help keep our clients and employees safe, we encourage our mortgage specialists to recommend the use of e-signatures, eliminating the need for in-person interactions as much as possible. Currently, the majority of our mortgage documents are signed using our e-signature capability.”

The use of e-signatures has made the process of buying and selling a property much smoother. In the past, individuals would have had to meet with a number of individuals to sign various formal documents, driving from meeting to meeting as they put ink to a seemingly endless stream of papers. “[The] advantages are obvious,” says Ronald Francis, “stay in [your] home office, send documents for signature and receive them in matter of minutes.”

It’s important to note that not all provinces have fully incorporated the practice. Jeff Kahane of Alberta’s Kahane Law Office comments that “[e-signatures are] not permitted in real estate documents that need registration at land titles. We need video signed documents to be sent back to us (originals) for land titles submission. In Ontario and BC things are different and contracts have been signed electronically for a while […] here a transfer needs wet ink.”

Ephraim Fung of British Columbia’s Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP in B.C. similarly notes that “section 2(4) of the Electronic Transactions Act (British Columbia) provides that documents registered in the B.C. Land Title Office to create or transfer interests in land cannot be signed with e-signatures. These documents need to be signed with wet ink and witnessed by a lawyer or notary public.”

That’s not to say that a change to the industry isn’t coming in the near future. RBC notes “the recent shift may also expedite some regulatory changes regarding e-signatures on registration documents as some provinces still require a wet signature.”

Mark Weisleder echoes the sentiment that present circumstances have pushed technological adaptation forward in a way that might not otherwise have been possible. “This is where I’ve seen the pandemic actually move things along in a very positive way, which might have taken, frankly, years,” he observes.

With how easy e-signatures have made handling transactions, it’s not surprising that Ronald Francis and others feel that “e-signatures are here to stay”. With individuals able to sign documents on their own time and with minimal disruption, the adoption of the technology will continue once the pandemic is behind us.

The efficiency of e-signatures is not lost on Mark Weisleder. “The use of e-signatures has also enabled our law firm to complete an entire real estate closing without ever seeing a buyer or seller, and making sure everything is completely safe,” he notes.

Not only do e-signatures allow for a more streamlined flow of business, but they also help to reduce the possibility of errors in document signing. By clearly directing consumers to what lines of a document need signatures, there’s less chance of missed or incorrectly placed signatures. This allows transactions to be completed faster and with less confusion.

Beyond the benefits to consumers, RBC notes that e-signatures have additional advantages. “There is also an environmental benefit since we’re able to significantly reduce the amount of paper required to complete an application and eliminate the greenhouse gasses associated with travel relating to signatures.”

Ephraim Fung observes that in B.C., “In response to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the B.C. courts and Land Title Survey Authority have released practice directives and policies that make remote/video witnessing of land title documents possible.”

This evolution is a positive step forward, while still maintaining strict security measures. Fung continues, “these policies require parties to B.C. real estate transactions to go through stringent checks and balances to ensure their identities are properly verified. Additionally, practitioners must submit sworn affidavit evidence concurrently with any remotely witnessed land title document for review by the Land Title Survey Authority, prior to the land title documents being accepted for registration.”

While the pandemic has presented the industry with many challenges, it has also driven real change. “We’re very pleased at the way that we’ve been able to use technology, as lawyers… it has helped to keep the industry going during difficult times,” says Mark Weisleder.

The relative ease with which the real estate industry has integrated e-signatures shows a significant shift in thinking. While the pandemic may have forced the industry to integrate the technology sooner than anticipated, it’s a welcome change that won’t be going away any time soon.