Bank of Nova Scotia is the latest lender to push the envelope on mortgage rates, offering a five-year fixed rate of 2.97 per cent, reports The Globe and Mail.

That’s the lowest five-year fixed rate among the big banks, and comes in slightly below the 2.99 per cent rate that Bank of Montreal has sparked controversy with in recent.

David Stafford, Scotiabank’s managing director of real estate secured lending, makes a case for why he thinks Ottawa should not be worried: he says the bank is telling consumers to use the low rates that are available in the market today to pay down their mortgage faster, rather than taking advantage of the low rates to buy a more expensive house than they otherwise would.

“Consumers view rate as a proxy for cost,” he says. “But the actual cost of the mortgage is the dollars that you spend in interest. There are three things that drive that: how much you borrow, at what rate, for how long. And the most expensive part of the mortgage right now is time, not the rate.”

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