Time for a mortgage review
The start of a new year almost always inspires individuals to commit to resolutions that will improve the quality of life. And in the spirit of the new year, new you mantra, a mortgage review reminder is aptly timed.
Many mortgage holders underestimate the value of proactively reviewing their finances and in particular their mortgages. Yet just like annual health checkups, annual mortgage reviews are every bit as important as reviews can sometimes result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in savings. They also are very useful when trying to determine if the mortgage plan still fits one’s circumstances.
Reviewing a mortgage allows the holder to look at several factors that include reviewing the mortgage term, the monthly payments and even the insurance coverage on the loan. The review can include looking at individual credit and the value of your home. As a mortgage broker, I can discuss the impacts on your long term finances if we create a plan that that could potentially include making increased monthly payments or contributing a lump sum.
With the new year underway and Canadians’ buying power being impacted due to new stress test rules that came into effect as of January 1, home owners and buyers need to seek the advice of a licensed mortgage professionals, such as myself. I can expedite the review process with a simple check of current rates and fees for a refinance and the terms of the current loan.
Contact me today to start the conversation and ultimately find the best mortgage for your needs.
Non-Resident ownership of condo apartments remains low and stable: CMHC
The share of condominium apartments owned by non-residents remains low in the 17 Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) surveyed, with the majority reporting shares of less than 1%. Non-resident ownership shares remained stable in Vancouver and Toronto, while Montreal saw an increase.
Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Halifax, Victoria and Gatineau have non-resident ownership shares above 1% of the condominium apartment stock.
Montréal saw an increase in the share of non-resident ownership of condominium apartments, rising from 1.1% in 2016 to 1.7% in 2017.
“The share of condominium apartment owned by non-residents remained low and stable in Canada. The lack of growth in Toronto and Vancouver, combined with the increases in Montréal, indicate the possibility of a shift from these centres after the introduction of foreign buyers’ taxes in Ontario and British Columbia. Other factors attracting demand to Montréal include lower housing prices and a relatively strong economy. It should be noted that foreign ownership is just one of the factors influencing Canada’s housing markets. Other important factors include housing and land supply constraints as well as the economic and demographic fundamentals that drive housing demand,” says Bob Dugan, Chief Economist, CMHC.
Construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Montréal continue to climb
In October, the value of permits for both single-family and multi-family dwellings increased in the CMAs of Montréal and Toronto. However, in the Vancouver CMA, both residential components fell, offsetting the gains in September.
Municipalities in the CMA of Montréal issued $538.1 million in permits for multi-family dwellings in October, higher than in Toronto ($409.2 million) and Vancouver ($330.6 million). In regards to single-family homes, Toronto registered $451.3 million in permits, followed by Vancouver ($148.1 million) and Montréal ($122.4 million).
The Montréal CMA issued permits approving the construction of 2,956 new units, stemming mainly from multi-family dwellings (2,720). October marked the fifth consecutive month where the number of units approved for multi-family dwellings exceeded 2,000. Vancouver approved the construction of 1,860 new units for multi-family homes, while Toronto (1,691) approved fewer despite having a higher value for the component.
Housing Market Digest by Will Dunning, Economist for Mortgage Professionals Canada
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (“OSFI”) now requires that all residential mortgages by federally-regulated lenders must be “stress-tested”, at two percentage points above the contract interest rate (or the 5- year posted rate, if that is higher). In combination with the requirements for mortgage insurance, about 90% of all new mortgages will be tested.
This can be expected to reduce housing activity by 10-15%. It is on top of the impact from recent rises for mortgage interest rates (another 5-10% drop in activity). The combined 15-25% drop in housing activity will affect the broader economy.
In two years, employment could be 150,000-250,000 lower than it would otherwise be. There is a risk that house prices will fall. In a modern economy, a sustained drop in house prices is one of the most dangerous things that can happen: as happened in the US a decade ago, falling house prices can turn into widespread economic decline.
Resale activity recovered a bit more in September, to 492,900, due to partial rebounds in BC and Ontario. Activity is flat in most other areas.
CREA’s House Price Index was flat in September. The year-over-year change is now 10.7% (down from the peak of 19.7% that was seen in April).
The sales-to-new-listings ratio (“SNLR”) was 55.7% in September, slightly above the balanced market threshold of 51%. This indicator points to an outlook for stable prices (at worst). But, as noted, OSFI’s stress test policy creates a risk of falling prices.
We should, in general, expect that resale activity will trend upwards over time, because the population is growing and the housing inventory is expanding. Therefore, it is useful to look at sales on a per capita basis. Recent activity is below the long-term average.
Employment increased by 35,000 in October
In October, employment rose for youth aged 15 to 24, while it was little changed for the core-aged population of 25- to- 54 year-olds, and for people 55 and older. The largest employment increase was in Quebec, followed by Alberta, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick. At the same time, there was a decline in Saskatchewan.
Employment rose in several industries, led by "other services;" construction; information, culture and recreation; and agriculture. Employment declined in wholesale and retail trade.
The number of private sector employees increased in October, while public sector employment and self-employment were little changed.
Canadian home sales edge up again in October
According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales posted a modest monthly increase in October but remain below levels recorded one year ago.
“Newly introduced mortgage regulations mean that starting January 1st, all home buyers applying for a new mortgage will need to pass a stress test to qualify for mortgage financing,” said CREA President Andrew Peck. “This will likely influence some home buyers to purchase before the stress test comes into effect, especially in Canada’s pricier housing markets. A professional REALTOR® is your best source for information and guidance in negotiations to purchase or sell a home during these changing times.”
Home sales via Canadian MLS® Systems edged up 0.9% in October 2017 on the heels of monthly increases in August and September, but remained almost 11% below the record set in March.
“National sales momentum is positive heading toward year-end,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “It remains to be seen whether that momentum can continue once the recently announced stress test takes effect beginning on New Year’s day. The stress test is designed to curtail growth in mortgage debt. If it works as intended, Canadian economic growth may slow by more than currently expected.”
Tips to take charge of your finances and live within your means
(NC) Are you stressed about money? Being in control of your spending is one way of reducing stress in your life.
According to Statistics Canada, most of us are burdened with high levels of household debt. Simply put, too many people are spending more than they earn. They are saving less and not saving enough for retirement. At the same time, people are living longer.
Living within your means is not always easy, especially when money is tight, but it is the best way to avoid excessive debt. A heavy debt load makes you vulnerable if you lose your job, have unexpected expenses or interest rates go up on your loans.
Here is how you can start:
Make a budget. Having a budget that lays out sources of income and monthly expenses can help you commit to a spending plan.
Know the difference between your wants and needs. Put your needs first; your wants can wait.
Choose your credit card wisely. Pay off the balance in full each month so you can build a good credit history and avoid high interest charges.
Think ahead to retirement. Canadians are living to an average age of 86. If you retire at 65, that could mean you are living off savings for 21 years or more. Start saving as soon as you can.
Find more tips from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada online at canada.ca/it-pays-to-know.
Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1 per cent
The Bank of Canada today maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 1/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 3/4 per cent.
Inflation has picked up in recent months, as anticipated in the Bank’s July Monetary Policy Report (MPR), reflecting stronger economic activity and higher gasoline prices. Measures of core inflation have edged up, in line with a narrowing output gap and the diminishing effects of lower food prices. The Bank projects inflation will rise to 2 per cent in the second half of 2018. This is a little later than anticipated in July because of the recent strength in the Canadian dollar. The Bank is also mindful that global structural factors could be weighing on inflation in Canada and other advanced economies.
The global and Canadian economies are progressing as outlined in the July MPR. Economic activity continues to strengthen and broaden across countries. The Bank still expects global growth to average around 3 1/2 per cent over 2017-19. However, this outlook remains subject to substantial uncertainty about geopolitical developments and fiscal and trade policies, notably the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
OSFI tightens mortgage rules
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) published the final version of Guideline B-20 − Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures. The revised Guideline, which comes into effect on January 1, 2018, applies to all federally regulated financial institutions.
The changes to Guideline B-20 reinforce OSFI’s expectation that federally regulated mortgage lenders remain vigilant in their mortgage underwriting practices. The final Guideline focuses on the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages, expectations around loan-to-value (LTV) frameworks and limits, and restrictions to transactions designed to circumvent those LTV limits.
OSFI is setting a new minimum qualifying rate, or “stress test,” for uninsured mortgages.
- Guideline B-20 now requires the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%.
OSFI is requiring lenders to enhance their loan-to-value (LTV) measurement and limits so they will be dynamic and responsive to risk.
- Under the final Guideline, federally regulated financial institutions must establish and adhere to appropriate LTV ratio limits that are reflective of risk and are updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve.
OSFI is placing restrictions on certain lending arrangements that are designed, or appear designed to circumvent LTV limits.
- A federally regulated financial institution is prohibited from arranging with another lender a mortgage, or a combination of a mortgage and other lending products, in any form that circumvents the institution’s maximum LTV ratio or other limits in its residential mortgage underwriting policy, or any requirements established by law.
To find out how this will affect you, please contact me at anytime.
Easy ways to keep more money in your pocket
It goes without saying that most of us would appreciate a little more money in our pockets. Believe it or not, it's actually an achievable goal. In fact, a few simple tips can help you uncover meaningful savings each and every month. Need some ideas? Here's a little inspiration to get you started:
1. Pack food from home for lunches and snacks. Skip sandwich bags and opt for reusable containers, cutlery and drink bottle.
2. Switch light bulbs to CFLs. On average, it costs $250 a year in energy costs to light your home with incandescents. Save $150 by going with CFLs. They're more expensive initially, but will last 10 times longer.
3. Review and negotiate your service plans––phone, internet, cable and television content.
4. Invest in topping up your insulation. Attic insulation can settle and compact over time, diminishing its original R-value and increasing heating/cooling costs. Topping it up with a quality batt insulation, like Roxul Comfortbatt, will immediately help improve the comfort of your home and reduce your monthly energy bills.
5. Pay off credit card debt and swap cards for lower interest rate options.
6. Install low-flow water fixtures to cut down on excess water consumption.
7. Lower your thermostat by two degrees in cold weather and increase it by two degrees in warmer weather.
8. Launder your clothes in cold water and at off-peak times.
9. Avoid impulse shopping. Stick to your list and avoid “window shopping,” which tends to draw buyers in.
10. Save money on entertainment by looking for free activities. For options in your area, try a simple internet search. You might be pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of activities and entertainment available for no or low cost.
Collectively employing the tips above could potentially add up to thousands in annual savings, proving that sometimes change can be a good thing.