Archive for the ‘Toronto real estate’ Category

Vancouver’s average house price hits $1.27-million

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Home prices continue to soar in Vancouver and the North Shore, where the average two-storey detached home is now selling for more than $1.27 million. The average price for detached bungalows and two-storey houses across Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver have jumped by 10.6 per cent and 10.3 per cent in the last year, according to Royal LePage’s House Price Survey, released Wednesday. The average bungalow now sells for $1.175 million.

“The average price for homes in Vancouver shot up in the first quarter, particularly for detached single-family homes. This is being caused in large part by a scarcity of product and the high demand to live in the area,” Royal LePage broker Bill Binnie said in a news release.

Realtors on the west side are claiming that prices for single family homes in some high-demand areas have jumped by as much as 40 per cent.

Condominiums have gone up in price, too, showing an increase of 4.9 per cent to reach an average of $506,624.

“The market for condos has improved, but it is nowhere near as active as for detached homes,” Binnie said.

“Vancouver real estate has been a hot topic locally and nationally in recent months. With all of the discussions taking place, people are coming to the realization that there are a lot of prospective buyers chasing a limited number of detached homes. Would-be buyers are trying to get in now while they still can.”

Nationally, a Royal LePage survey found that the average price of detached bungalows was up 6.6 per cent to $405,895 and the average price of a two-storey home was up 5.3 per cent to $451,463.

The Canadian Real Estate Association also released its latest home sale numbers last week, showing a 7.19-per-cent increase over last year’s prices for all greater Vancouver real estate sales.

“Greater Vancouver and the GTA are really the only two hot spots for home sales and prices in Canada,” Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist said in a news release.

“Price gains in these two markets are being fuelled by a shortage of single family homes for sale in the face of strong demand. Meanwhile, supply and demand for homes is well balanced among the vast majority of housing markets elsewhere across Canada.”

The number of Canadian home sales in March was up by 4.1 per cent compared with February. The CREA says sales through its Multiple Listing Service last month were up in nearly two-thirds of the markets it tracks, led by gains in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Source: Bethany Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

Why Vancouver’s house price increases show no signs of stopping

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

From Albertan black gold to globetrotting wealth to lucky heirs, big money is flocking to Vancouver real estate and fuelling huge price increases that show no sign of stopping, according to the CEO of Sotheby’s Canada.

“You’re not only going to be competing with other wealthy Canadians, you’re going to be competing with wealthy people all over the world,” Ross McCredie told Business in Vancouver.

Sotheby’s Canada, which specializes in high-end real estate, released its annual luxury homebuyer report today. The report breaks out high-end real estate buyers into three generations: baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.

The report characterizes baby boomers as sitting on a large amount of collective wealth because they have benefited from inheritances from their parents and, especially in Vancouver, have seen their homes greatly appreciate in value over the past 25 years.

Eighty per cent of high-net-worth Canadians are over 55, and that generation now represents 30% of Canada’s population, according to Statistics Canada figures quoted in Sotheby’s report.

In turn, boomers are now helping their Gen Y children — the report defines this group as 15-35 — buy real estate. A Genworth Canada survey of first time homebuyers released April 7 found that in Vancouver, 40% had help from their parents, compared to 25% throughout Canada.

Meanwhile, Generation X (34 to 54) has largely had to fend for itself. McCredie called this cohort “generation screwed.” The high-end buyers in this group tend to be double-income professional couples, but they have been priced out of Kitsilano, Dunbar or Point Grey. They’re increasingly looking at homes in East Vancouver, where detached homes are now commonly priced well over the $1 million mark.

“In Vancouver a lot of families are taking up in East Vancouver, where 10 years ago that wouldn’t have been where they wanted to live,” McCredie said.

Wealth from outside the province’s borders continues to be attracted to Metro Vancouver, a trend McCredie said shows no sign of slowing.

That wealth is coming from other parts of Canada, in particular, from Alberta, as well as from abroad.

According to McCredie, wealthy Albertans have been attracted to Vancouver’s Coal Harbour neighbourhood, as well as Vancouver Island and Kelowna, and treat those properties as vacation homes. So it’s no surprise to him that Coal Harbour has a relatively high number of vacant condos (at 23.5%, the highest vacancy rate in the City of Vancouver, according to a 2013 analysis done by Bing Thom Architects planner Andy Yan).

“A lot of people bought in Coal Harbour because they only want to spend eight or 10 weeks of the year here and a lot of them are from Calgary or Edmonton and Toronto,” McCredie said.

“They’re not working or living here. They love Vancouver and they want to spend a good chunk of time here.”

The high-end real estate markets in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are all “heavily influenced” by international buyers, according to the report. Buyers from China dominate in Vancouver, from China, Russia and the Middle East in Toronto, and from the Middle East, China, Europe (especially France) in Montreal.

International students from wealthy families are also playing a role in Vancouver’s real estate market, McCredie said.

A common pattern is for the students’ parents to buy a high-end condo or even a large detached house in a wealthy neighbourhood such as Shaughnessy, with plans for the entire family to move to Vancouver in the future.

McCredie said the discontinuation of Canada’s investor immigrant program has had little impact on foreign real estate purchases in Vancouver.

That program required individuals with a minimum net worth of $1.6 million to loan Canada $800,000; it attracted 36,973 immigrants to British Columbia, two-thirds of whom came from mainland China. The program has since been changed to allow only 50 applicants a year.

The change has not deterred the flow of foreign money into Vancouver real estate because many investors are not interested in immigrating to Canada, McCredie said.

“A lot of these guys are very wealthy and they don’t want to pay Canadian taxes,” McCredie said.

Foreign money will continue to flow to Vancouver because the region has developed infrastructure and expertise to help wealthy people buy property. The recently launched official Chinese currency hub will make transactions even more convenient, McCredie said.

“The U.S. right now is a really difficult place to immigrate to or even buy a property in, whereas Canada has been much more welcoming,” McCredie said, adding that HSBC Canada, which is headquartered in Vancouver, is particularly well set-up to handle transactions from foreign buyers.

“Post 9-11, so much gets looked into in banking relationships [in the United States]. It takes a little longer to get your money from China into a Los Angeles bank.”

That means prices, especially for detached homes, which are limited in supply, will continue to rise. A recent Vancouver Savings Credit Union report predicted that by 2030, the average home price in Metro Vancouver will exceed $2.1 million.

Meanwhile, average incomes in Metro Vancouver continue to lag behind those of other major Canadian cities. Over the next three years, the City of Vancouver plans to spend $125 million from its capital budget on efforts to house both low- and middle-income people, as rising rents and tight housing supply squeeze residents.

While some observers have called for policy makers to take a look at reigning in foreign investment through higher taxes or restrictions, McCredie balked at that suggestion.

“If the government came out and prevented foreign buyers from buying real estate, it would have a huge impact in our market,” he said.

“And you would see a correction.”

Source: Jen St. Denis at Business in Vancouver with files from Frank O’Brien

Housing market softening everywhere but Toronto and Vancouver

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

The much-ballyhooed “soft landing” in real estate may already be underway, Bank of Montreal says, as booming price gains in two of Canada’s three biggest housing markets are the exception rather than the rule in the rest of the country.

While the closely watched national average price figure released on the 15th of every month by the Canadian Real Estate Association is still showing strong annual gains, “strong gains have been entirely a Toronto and Vancouver story,” BMO economist Robert Kavcic says in a research note today.

The latest CREA numbers, released last month, show the national average ticked up another six per cent in March to $431,812.

But there’s much more weakness than that headline figure would suggest.

In three-quarters of the 26 biggest metropolitan areas in Canada, average gains top out at about four per cent, and are actually contracting in many places.

“Suffice it to say that strong Canadian home price gains are now almost purely a two-city phenomenon, and the so-called soft landing (harder in Alberta and Saskatchewan) is well underway across most of the country,” Kavcic says.

Montreal, Canada’s second-largest real estate market, is one of the areas where the average house price across all categories of housing is already in decline, with the MLS HPI down 0.3 per cent in March, according to CREA.

Moncton, N.B., and Regina are also in negative territory.

House prices across all types had been trending downward in Ottawa since the spring of 2014 before an uptick last month. And average house prices in Newfoundland declined by more than eight per cent in February compared to a year ago, CREA data shows.

Although it’s still in the black on an annual basis, new data out of Calgary on Thursday shows that city’s average house price has now declined for two months in a row as the impact of cheap oil filters through the broader economy.

Source: Pete Evans, CBC News

What are the risks in presenting an offer subject free?

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

With Vancouver’s housing market racing off the charts, I found this interesting article by mortgage broker Atrina Kouroshnia who explains the risks involved in presenting an offer without subjects.

In competitive housing markets like Vancouver, buyers feel the pressure to move quickly and make seller-friendly offers, often with no subjects such as financing or inspections. In fact, the Vancouver Sun reported a few months ago that some houses and condos in the area sold within a week or two (one house sold with no subjects and for $50,000 above asking price). With low housing inventory and high demand, realtors don’t expect that competitive landscape to change any time soon.

While an offer with no subjects could certainly be more attractive to the seller, I do not advise my mortgage clients to go in without subjects due to the potential risks involved.

The only time I would say to go in without any subjects would be if you’re looking at making a cash offer and you’re paying for the value of the land so you don’t care about the inspections and don’t need time to line up financing. Here, I would also emphasize the importance of having your own representation. Some buyers think that not having their own agent puts them in a more advantageous situation, but the truth is that the sellers’ agent is contracted to represent their sellers and in some situations they can even be encouraging a bidding war and discouraging subjects.

For those who need a mortgage, having at least one subject would allow the buyers to exit the deal if they need to. For instance, if your offer was subject to a home inspection, that could buy you time to get the mortgage financing in place. The vast majority of my clients review strata documents, conduct a home inspection and secure financing before removing subjects.

When you make an offer, you usually have a grace period where you can work through removing the subjects such as reading the strata minutes, booking a home inspection and arranging for your financing. By the end of the grace period, you have to either remove subjects and move forward with the deal or you don’t remove subjects and basically the accepted offer becomes void.

Remember, a pre-approval doesn’t mean you’re 100 per cent approved for whatever home you decide to buy. For instance, if you suspect there’ll be multiple bids on a property and you make a bid that’s higher than the asking price, the home’s appraised value may fall short of your offer.

Another scenario where you might run into financing problems would be if the life expectancy of the house does not support the amortization of the loan. If the value of the property is in the land, most lenders will not finance a tear-down. Instead, they might finance a lower amount (say, 50 per cent of the land) on the property.

With competitive situations, it’s easy to get caught up in bidding wars and succumb to pressure to make offers without subjects, but I think the key is to treat it like a business transaction and maintain a clear head. Have a maximum budget you’re willing to spend and do not go above that amount.

If you try to be more competitive by offering a higher price or not placing any subjects, you could be playing with fire and wind up getting burned. Only you can determine how much risk you’re willing to take on.

Mortgage rates come down even further during a heated spring housing market

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Fierce competition among banks and home buyers is driving mortgage rates down and home prices up, signalling the start of a spring housing market that many observers expect will be particularly heated this year.

Bank of Montreal unveiled a 2.79-per-cent promotion for its five-year, fixed-rate mortgage Tuesday, a special that comes with prepayment restrictions. Toronto-Dominion Bank quickly rushed to match the offering, saying it will drop the posted rate on its standard five-year mortgage to 2.79 per cent, from 3.09, starting Wednesday. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce began offering a five-year fixed mortgage earlier this month with a rate that starts at 1.99 per cent for the first 9 months before rising to an average of 2.79 per cent. It resets to [2.92] after 9 months.

BMO’s move was largely expected: It is the fourth year the bank has come out with a low teaser rate in the spring since it raised the ire of former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty with a 2.99 per cent special in 2012.

A spokesperson for Finance Minister Joe Oliver declined comment on the mortgage rate cuts.

Meanwhile, Canada’s top financial regulator said he isn’t concerned about the potential impact of lower mortgage rates on the financial system.

“We constantly reinforce that it is the banks themselves that determine the risks they want to assume, risks they must subsequently measure, monitor and manage,” Jeremy Rudin, head of Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), said in a prepared speech to the International Finance Club of Montreal.

Several mortgage brokers, however, called the posted rate specials a gimmick. Most major banks have already been publicly offering rates to brokers as low as 2.74 per cent for standard five-year mortgages for the past several weeks.

“Every mortgage broker in Canada is offering at those rates,” said Toronto-based mortgage broker Ron Butler. Several banks are offering rates as low as 2.69 per cent on larger mortgages, with some brokers offering to sacrifice part of their commission to push rates as low as 2.44 per cent.

The renewed rate war among the major banks underscores the intense competition coming just as the spring housing market is set to bloom.

In the Toronto area home prices were up nearly 11 per cent in the first two weeks of March compared to the same time last year, the Toronto Real Estate Board said. In Vancouver, where homes sales have also been strong this year, the average detached house now sells for nearly $1.4 million.

Ratehub, an online mortgage rate comparison tool, has seen record traffic to its website since the Bank of Canada slashed interest rates in January, said chief marketing officer Kerri-Lynn McAlister.

“In Southwestern Ontario and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, it’s going to be one of the hottest years on record,” thanks to record low rates, Mr. Butler said.

Yet, despite strong home sales in some regions, banks have struggled to grow their new mortgage loans with housing markets cooling outside of Ontario and B.C. amid sliding oil prices.

The growth rate of residential loans has steadily slowed over the past two years to roughly 4 per cent, from 9 per cent in 2013, according to data from OSFI. BMO in particular has seen its total personal and commercial loan growth rate slow from 10.1 per cent in the first quarter of last year to 3.7 per cent this year.

That means rates could fall further. With government bond yields falling to record lows, the spread between where banks borrow and where they lend is now 1.95 percentage points compared with 1.3 per cent a year ago, when mortgages rates were higher, leaving room for more rate cuts.

Banks have also been engaged in a tug-of-war between fixed and variable rate mortgages, often getting more aggressive on fixed mortgage rates when too many borrowers flock to variable mortgages because of falling interest rates. “It skews the balance sheet for the lenders and they have no choice,” but to offer more attractive fixed rates, said Jason Henneberry, a partner at B.C.-based MortgagePal. “They need to try to fill the pipeline with more fixed-rate mortgages so they can hit the targets that they’re mandated to hit.”

Falling rates have been a gift for Ben Rodgers and his wife, first-time buyers who have spent the past two years shopping for a house in Toronto’s heated market. Earlier this month, they were the winning bidder on a $725,000 two-bedroom semi-detached home in their current neighbourhood and are now shopping around for the best mortgage rate.

“Banks were bending over backward to preapprove us for even more than we could afford. But we knew the maximum mortgage we could carry and we’re not going to be wooed by lower rates.”

Mr. Rodgers said the couple, who are in their 40s with two young children, said they long planned to use the low rates as an opportunity to pay down their mortgage faster, rather than splurge on a bigger home. “We’re going to live a pretty spartan existence for the next little while no matter how low the rates go,” he said. “We’re planning for the long-term.”

Source: Tamsin McMahon, The Globe and Mail with files from David Berman

Million-dollar homes the new norm in some Canadian cities

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

In cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, the average cost of a detached home will set you back more than seven figures. Meanwhile, the market in Alberta has seen sales and prices drop since the collapse of oil.

In January, Deutsche Bank AG warned that homes in Canada are overvalued by 63 per cent, and that homeowners are “in serious trouble” due to rising debt levels. But the Bank of Canada’s surprise decision to cut interest rates that same month, has given some Canadians incentive to keep buying property.

Toronto

In Toronto, skyrocketing real estate prices hit a new high on Wednesday with the average price of a detached house in the city surpassing $1 million.

The average cost of a detached home hit the seven-figure mark for the first time last month, according to numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board. That price was up 8.9 per cent over last year and helped drive the overall average selling price of a Toronto home up to $596,163.

The Toronto real estate scene was a seller’s market in February, with more people buying homes and fewer people putting them up on the market. The number of homes sold went up by 11.3 per cent, despite there being 8.7 per cent fewer on the market when compared to February 2014.

“The detached (house) market has been especially tight, we are not seeing a lot of new supply come online, and certainly not a lot of listings,” said Jason Mercer, the director of market analysis at the TREB.

The average cost of a detached home in the city came in at $1,040,018 last month, while semi-detached homes went for an average of $702,305, up 4.9 per cent over last year.

The strong gains for Toronto’s detached and semi-detached markets were offset by a fall in sale prices for townhouses and condo apartments in the city. The average selling price of a townhouse fell by seven per cent, while condos sale prices dipped by 0.9 per cent.

Rising prices have pushed some prospective home buyers to eye property in the city’s suburbs, but they too have been affected by the housing boom.

Residential sale prices were up across the board in the Greater Toronto Area’s 905 area code regions. The average price of a semi-detached home surged by 11.6 per cent in the GTA, while fully detached went up 8.5 per cent, condos spiked 10.9 per cent and townhouses were up by eight per cent.

In the nearby Durham Region, the average price for a detached home is more than $467,000.

David Batori is a real estate agent who has been selling homes in the north end of the city for 25 years.

He says he has seen prices in area change drastically.

“When I started you couldn’t give a house away from $250,000 in some of these north Toronto neighbourhoods … so yes, I’m completely surprised,” he told CTV Toronto.

“Building lots are selling for north of a million dollars,” he added.

Vancouver

On the west coast, the housing market has seen record-breaking sales. The average price of a detached home in Vancouver reached almost $1.4 million last month. And last month, the city saw 3,000 properties change hands — a 60 per cent jump from January.

“There is a shortage of inventory, and also money is cheap right now – interest rates are fantastic,” said Charlie Real, a local real estate agent.

That can mean waiting as long as six months to get a winning bid on a home, as was the case for Vancouver native Neil McIver.

“We made bids on three different places, every one of them went above what the asking price was,” he said.

“I think it is a little bit irresponsible and a little bit crazy but that is the marketplace in Vancouver (that) you are dealing with,” he added.

Alberta

Meanwhile, sliding oil prices are responsible for a slowdown of the housing market in Western Canada.

Home sales have dropped by a third in Calgary, and the average price of a detached home has fallen four per cent to $462,000.

But some real estate analysts aren’t concerned by the recent dip in the province.

“The market has cooled down, (and) we are seeing fewer sales and listings come up,” said Felicia Mutheardy, a senior market analyst at the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation.

“The market is taking a step back and returning now to a more balanced terriroty,” she added.

Source: Josh Elliott and Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca

Toronto and Vancouver’s housing markets continue their upward surge

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Canada’s housing market has been cooling, led by Alberta, but Toronto and Vancouver are surging forward fuelled by lower borrowing costs.

Recent trends have seen a red-hot housing market in Alberta along with the big urban markets of Toronto and Vancouver driving the national-level overvaluation. However, Alberta is now driving the weakness in home sales with other metrics of the national housing market slowly following.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) reported on Tuesday, Feb. 17, national home sales falling 3.1 percent from December to January. This is the second month in a row sales have declined notably.

“The decline in national sales largely reflects weakened activity in Calgary and Edmonton,” said CREA’s chief economist Gregory Klump.

“If these two markets are removed from national totals, combined sales activity remained 1.9 percent above year-ago levels,” he added. Instead, compared to year-ago levels, national sales were down 2.0 percent for January.

The fall in the price of oil has seen Alberta’s housing market take a sharp turn south. Housing inventory has doubled in the last year in Calgary as a result of new listings rising 37 percent and sales falling 39 percent. Edmonton’s inventory in January 2015 is up 35 percent from December 2014.

As a result, CREA’s measure of inventory has risen to a 6.5 months’ supply, the highest since April 2013. The sales-to-new listings ratio fell to 49.7, which is the first time this ratio has been below 50 since December 2012. It’s still in balanced territory, but the trend is clear.

Prices tend to lag sales and this is evident in that Calgary still shows the largest year-over-year price increase for January, at 7.76 percent, with Greater Toronto (7.47 percent) and Greater Vancouver (5.53 percent) following. CREA notes that while year-over-year price gains in Calgary are shrinking, those in Toronto and Vancouver are picking up, however.

The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) released mid-month housing figures on Wednesday, Feb. 18, and reported a 14.9 percent increase in the number of sales for the first two weeks of February as compared to the same period last year.

“While home prices are higher compared to this time last year, borrowing costs are lower. Home buyers are still finding affordable options to meet their housing needs,” said TREB president Paul Etherington in the press release.

The average selling price in Toronto for the first half of February was $602,110 — a 10.3 percent year-over-year increase. The tight market conditions are approaching seller’s market territory, according to a Feb. 18 BMO special report on the housing market.

Vancouver’s home sales are up 8.7 percent from January 2014 and are nearly 15 percent higher than the 10-year sales average for January.

“While demand remains steady, we’re seeing fewer homes for sale at the moment,” said Ray Harris, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a Feb. 3 press release. “This is creating greater competition amongst buyers.

Source: Rahul Vaidyanath, Epoch Times

Canadian banks on brink of mortgage price war

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Canada’s major banks are heading into a renewed mortgage price war in the wake of the Bank of Canada’s surprise decision to cut interest rates.

Mortgage brokers reported that Royal Bank of Canada dropped its five-year fixed rate for qualified borrowers to 2.84 per cent over the weekend. While smaller, non-bank lenders have started offering even cheaper rates, RBC’s rate cut is likely a record for a major bank, said Drew Donaldson, executive vice-president of Safebridge Financial Group. The bank also slashed its posted 10-year fixed rate to 3.84 per cent, the lowest nationally advertised rate in the country, said Robert McLister, founder of Ratespy.com.

RBC spokesman Wojtek Dabrowski said the bank continues to “review the impact of the Bank of Canada’s rate decision,” and that the company’s “individual product lines continue to make pricing adjustments in the regular course of business to ensure we provide competitive rates in the marketplace.”

Bank of Nova Scotia and National Bank of Canada have also cut fixed rates on broker-originated mortgages by 10 to 20 basis points in recent days. Toronto-Dominion Bank said it was dropping its posted 5-year fixed rate on Tuesday to 3.09 per cent, down from 3.29 per cent.

Mortgage officials said RBC was among the last of the major banks to introduce new rate specials.

“National Bank already offers competitive rates over the mortgage rate spectrum as we moved early over the past weeks,” bank spokesman Claude Breton said.

A battle in the mortgage market seemed inevitable given that Government of Canada bond yields have plummeted in recent weeks, falling 57 basis points in the past month to historic lows. Brokers had predicted that falling bond yields were almost certain to drive down the fixed-rate mortgage pricing ahead of the competitive spring housing market even as banks have largely kept their prime rates, which govern variable-rate mortgages along with other types of loans, unchanged. All the major banks will soon be forced to follow the Bank of Canada and cut their prime rates 25 basis points to 2.75 per cent, Mr. Donaldson said. “We expect more cuts to come from all lenders,” he said.

Even ahead of the Bank of Canada’s unexpected rate cut last week, the country’s major banks already seemed poised for a new round of rate cuts this year. Earlier this month, Bank of Montreal chief executive officer Bill Downe told an industry conference the bank was expecting to “again have a fresh offer that is appealing to customers” in the spring. The bank drew the ire of former finance minister Jim Flaherty in 2013 after it dropped its five-year fixed mortgage rate to 2.99 per cent in what Mr. Flaherty called a “race to the bottom.”

The renewed price war is raising concerns that the central bank’s rate cut will add fuel to the country’s overheated housing market even as Canadians struggle under the burden of rising household debt. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal warned last week that falling mortgage rates could lead to “a monstrous spring in the real estate market.”

Others argue that low rates may not be enough to kick start a housing market that had already begun to slow toward the end of this year as oil prices plunged. Even as they predicted that Canada’s central bank will cut interest rates a second time later this year, TD economists said Monday they expect Canada’s real estate market to fare poorly this year as cheap crude and sky-high house prices in major cities are making it difficult for new buyers to afford to jump into the market despite low mortgage rates. “The housing market is … projected to be a drag on growth, with changes in existing home sales and prices, as well as housing starts, forecast to tilt into negative territory,” the bank said.

Source: Tamsin McMahon, The Globe and Mail

Will the Bank of Canada’s interest rate cut make any difference to home buyers?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Already ranked as one of the most unaffordable cities in the world, Vancouver’s heated real estate market could get a further push, after the Bank of Canada cut the overnight lending interest rate to 0.75 per cent.

The rate had been at one per cent since September 2010 and the cut shocked markets on Wednesday. It will likely result in lower interest rates for variable rate mortgages, lines of credit and other loans that float with prime rates.

“That should provide a nice little potential boost for the housing market, not just in Vancouver but the rest of British Columbia as well,” said Bryan Yu, senior economist with Central 1 Credit Union.

But it depends how lenders respond to the Bank of Canada’s surprise interest rate drop with changes to mortgage rates, said Yu.

He expects the rate cut will put “mild downward pressure” on fixed and variable mortgage rates, but not make big waves on the housing market.

“This doesn’t change our outlook for Vancouver’s housing market significantly,” said Yu.

The credit union’s recent B.C. housing outlook forecast the median detached house price would climb by four per cent in greater Vancouver — continuing to outpace growth in condo prices.

Vancouver mortgage broker Michelle Byman said if lenders cut their rates, a quarter point change won’t make a big difference.

“It will help people that are buying,” said Byman. “But I don’t think that’s going to fuel anything more than what’s already going on in the market.”

On a $100,000, 25-year mortgage, lowering the rate from 3 per cent to 2.75 per cent would only cut someone’s $473.23 monthly payment by $13, said Byman.

Even on a $500,000 mortgage, a quarter point drop would only mean paying $63 less per month, she said.

Byman said 2010 federal policy changes intended to turn down the heat on Canada’s housing market affect the buyers she deals with.

In particular, the government requirement that borrowers qualify for the posted rate for a fixed five-year mortgage — even if that’s higher than the rate they’ll pay — limits how far buyers can extend themselves, said Byman.

Source: Lisa Johnson, CBC News

Doesn’t look like interest rates will rise this year

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz will remain in interest-rate hibernation for another year as plunging oil prices raise concerns the nation’s economic growth is in jeopardy, economists say.

Poloz, who delivers the central bank’s next rate decision tomorrow, will hold off raising borrowing costs until 2016, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg monthly survey, which previously predicted the governor would lift rates later this year. Economists also cut two-year yield forecasts by the most on record.

The central bank hasn’t raised its benchmark interest rate since 2010 as it awaits an economic recovery that’s in danger of fading. Crude oil, Canada’s biggest export, is trading below $50 a barrel, from $107 in the summer. The slump is already crimping exports, weakening investment and playing havoc with prairie housing markets. The last thing the economy needs is higher interest rates.

“Markets are doing the dirty work for the Bank of Canada,” Emanuella Enenajor, senior Canada economist at Bank of America, said Jan. 15 by phone from New York. “We are still going to see the Bank of Canada holding on to their assertion that the recovery is proceeding, perhaps it’s just proceeding a bit slower than they thought.”

“They are definitely going to have to acknowledge that there is a large downside risk from falling oil prices,” in the new economic forecast, Enenajor said. Last week she pushed her rate-increase forecast to the third quarter of 2016 from the first quarter.

The Bank of Canada has kept its benchmark rate at 1 percent since September 2010, predating Poloz taking the governor job, and is the longest stretch since World War II.

Bets are increasing that Poloz will cut rates, rather than raise them, with swaps trading signaling about a one in three chance of a reduction to 0.75 percent by December.

Homes sales in the nation’s oil hub – Calgary – and Alberta’s largest city plummeted 24.6 percent in December from the previous month, the Canadian Real Estate Association said last week. That was the worst drop since the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sparked the global credit crunch.

Source (edited): Greg Quinn and Catarina Saraiva, Bloomberg News


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