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Our mortgage columnist studied his crystal ball and came up with these five forecasts

1.) Rate comparison websites will boom in popularity. Finding rock-bottom rates on mortgage comparison sites has never been easier, especially with social media spreading the message. New mortgage shoppers will gravitate to rate sites in 2013 and it will shrink profit margins for the entire mortgage industry.

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2.) Variable-rate discounts will improve. For more than a year, variable-rate mortgages have been all but forgotten. That should change in 2013 as lenders get more aggressive with variable-rate pricing. Just don’t expect a return to the good old days when rates were at prime minus 0.90 per cent.

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3.) Mortgage rules will raise rents. New mortgage regulations have made it tougher for first-time buyers, self-employed borrowers and rental property investors to get financing. That and an uncertain real estate market are making people rent longer and constraining the rental housing supply. The end result? Higher rents.

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4.) The mortgage industry will shed jobs. Stricter lending rules will shrink mortgage volumes at the same time as mounting rate competition cuts commissions and marginalizes weak salespeople. Many traditional lender representatives and mortgage brokers will see their numbers decline.

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5.) Non-prime will become prime time. Tighter mortgage guidelines will force more borrowers into the arms of higher-cost non-prime lenders. Those borrowers include the self-employed, property investors and anyone who needs secondary financing or refinancing above 80 per cent loan-to-value.

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