TSX/NYSE/PSE: MFC SEHK:945
Homeowners with a mortgage carry an average of $190,000 in mortgage debt
Four in 10 would struggle to make their mortgage payment within three
months of a job loss
Many homeowners having to choose between debt repayment and contributing
to retirement savings
Eight in 10 willing to cut back on discretionary spending to reduce
debt - but not on their phone or Internet.
WATERLOO, ON, June 16, 2015 /CNW/ - Canadian homeowners are taking
concrete steps to reduce their debt, with four in ten reporting that
they either made extra mortgage payments or increased the amount of
their mortgage payment in the past year, according to a new survey
released by Manulife Bank of Canada. On average, these homeowners with
mortgage debt paid down an average of $6,300 in the past year, with 18
percent making an extra lump-sum payment, 17 percent increasing their
regular payment, and five percent doing both.
According to the survey, 56 percent of homeowners indicated that they
reduced their debt in the past year, up from 51 percent a year ago,
while eight in 10 homeowners said that being or becoming debt-free was
among their top financial priorities.
"These results are encouraging," said Rick Lunny, President and Chief
Executive Officer, Manulife Bank of Canada. "Effective debt management
is absolutely central to long-term financial health, and clearly many
Canadians are taking advantage of the low-rate environment to reduce
Many homeowners appear willing to take additional steps to reduce debt.
About eight in 10 (79 percent) indicated they would be willing to cut
back on some of their discretionary spending if it meant they could be
debt-free sooner. For example, four in 10 would be willing to cut back
on dining out and daily coffee/snacks and a similar amount were willing
to reduce spending on entertainment such as movies, concerts and
sporting events. Interestingly, only two in 10 said they'd be willing
to cut back on phone, internet or cable services.
Despite the encouraging signals, debt remains a source of concern for
many homeowners. On average, homeowners who have a mortgage reported an
average of $190,000 in mortgage debt, ranging from an average of
$242,300 in Alberta to just $127,300 in Atlantic Canada.
"While household debt to GDP has fallen significantly in the US since
the onset of the financial crisis, it has been on a constant march
upward in Canada," said Megan Greene, Chief Economist, Manulife Asset
Management. "This private debt overhang poses a risk to Canadian
growth. It is positive news indeed that Canadians are finally looking
Average mortgage debt*
*Among homeowners with mortgage debt
The survey suggests that many Canadian homeowners may be poorly prepared
for a job loss. In the event that a primary income-earner lost their
job, one in six homeowners indicated they would struggle to make their
regular mortgage payment within just one month, and a further 27
percent would struggle to do so after three months.
The survey also found evidence that homeowners may feel that they have
to choose between paying down debt and saving for retirement. When
asked what they would do with their extra money if their debt was gone
tomorrow, 70 percent indicated they would direct some of the money
towards retirement savings. This was well ahead of vacation spending
(55 percent) and home renovations (44 percent), the next two most
common destinations for extra money if homeowners were suddenly
"Paying down debt is important, but Canadians need to look at all of
their financial goals and ensure they've got a plan in place to meet as
many of those goals as possible," said Lunny. "A financial advisor can
help you get a plan in place, and can also show you ways to make your
money work more efficiently, so that you can pay down debt and save for retirement."
An additional risk was highlighted by the finding that more than a third
of homeowners surveyed would encounter financial difficulty if their
mortgage payment increased by just 10 percent. A further 15 percent of
homeowners said they could not absorb any increase in their payment.
About the Manulife Bank of Canada Debt Survey
The Manulife Bank of Canada poll surveyed 2,372 Canadian homeowners in
all provinces between ages 20 to 59 with household income of $50,000 or
more. The survey was conducted online by Research House between
February 10 and 27, 2015. National results were weighted by province,
income and age.
About Manulife Bank
Established in 1993, Manulife Bank was the first federally regulated
bank opened by an insurance company in Canada. It is a Schedule l
federally chartered bank and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manulife. As
Canada's first advisor-based bank, it has successfully grown to more
than $21 billion in assets and serves clients across Canada.
Manulife is a leading Canada-based financial services group with
principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. We operate
as John Hancock in the U.S. and as Manulife in other parts of the
world. We provide strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking
solutions for our customers' significant financial decisions. Our
international network of employees, agents and distribution partners
offers financial protection and wealth management products and services
to millions of clients. We also provide asset management services to
institutional customers. Assets under management by Manulife and its
subsidiaries were approximately C$821 billion (US$648 billion) as at
March 31, 2015.
Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE,
and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife can be found on the Internet at manulife.com
SOURCE Manulife Financial Corporation
For further information:
Sean B. Pasternak