By Avenue Living Asset Management for the Summer 2023 Raintree Report
The past year has been punctuated with announcements of rising interest rates, as the Bank of Canada (BOC) redoubled their efforts to combat inflation with successive rate hikes. The latest, in July, brought the overnight rate up by 25 basis points to 5%, its highest since early 2001. Changes in interest-rate policy can have wide-ranging effects throughout the economy, and for real estate investors, it’s vital to interpret the different outcomes between long-term and short-term rates. Understanding the inversion of the yield curve — where long-term interest rates are lower than short-term rates — can help well-prepared property owners mitigate risk.
Understanding the Yield Curve
During the period of rising interest rates, there has been a notable difference between prime-based borrowing rates and bond-based borrowing rates in Canada. While the prime rate has experienced significant increases (from 2.7% in March of 2022 to 6.95% in June of 2023), the Canadian 10-year bond rate has remained relatively stable over the same period. Whereas retail borrowing is often based on prime, commercial borrowing is traditionally based on long-term government bonds. Therefore, well-managed commercial borrowers will generally be less impacted — as compared to retail borrowers — by the recent rise in interest rates. One of the many upsides to indirect real estate investment through entities such as REITs is that investors are able to benefit from the relationships and knowledge of a team of experts. By indirectly investing in real estate, everyday investors can take advantage of bond-based borrowing rates through a strategic asset manager, without becoming a commercial borrower themselves.
With the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) setting lending rates at a spread over the 10-year bond, those who have access to bond-based borrowing for long-term decisions have been in a more favorable position since the beginning of 2022. A visual representation of these trends can be observed in Figure 1.