25 Nov

The New First Time Home Buyers Incentive Program

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS INCENTIVE PROGRAM

The new First Time Home Buyer Incentive program from CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) was officially released on September 2. This program was met with mixed reactions across the mortgage industry, but we wanted to take a minute to give you the facts regarding the program. Below are the key points you need to know, and as always if you do have any further questions please reach out to us.

What is it?
Eligible homeowners are able to apply for a 5% or 10% shared equity mortgage with the Government of Canada.  A shared equity mortgage is where the government shares in the upside and downside of the property value. The Incentive enables first-time homebuyers to reduce their monthly mortgage payment without increasing their down payment. The Incentive is not interest bearing and does not require ongoing repayments.
Through the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, the Government of Canada will offer:
• 5% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a re-sale home
• 5% or 10% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a new construction

It’s important to understand that with this program, the government will then OWN 5-10% of the equity of your home (pending on how much was contributed to the down payment).

Who is eligible?
First, you must be a First Time Home Buyer. This incentive is only offered to those who are purchasing their first home. Second, you need to have the minimum down payment to be eligible. The minimum down payment is 5% of the purchase price of the property, and this must come from your own resources. The Federal Government will not give you 5% to put towards/cover the entire down payment. Third, your maximum qualifying income is no more than $120,000. Lastly, your total borrowing is limited to 4 times the qualifying income.

There are restrictions on the type of property you can purchase. The below are the eligible properties:
o New construction (5-10% incentive)
o Re-sale home (5% incentive)
o New and resale mobile/manufactured homes (5% incentive)

Residential properties include single family homes, semi-detached homes, duplexes, triplex, fourplex, townhouses, condominium units. The property must be located in Canada and must be suitable and available for full-time, year-round occupancy.

How Does Repayment Work?

You can repay back the incentive in full at any time without a pre-payment penalty or you can repay the incentive after 25 years or if the property is sold, whichever happens first. The repayment of the incentive is based on the property’s fair market value:
o You are given a 5% incentive of the home’s purchase price of $200,000 or $10,000. If your home value increases to $300,000 your payback would be 5% of the current value or %15,000
o You are given a 10% incentive of the home’s purchase price of $200,000 or $20,000 and your home value decreases to $150,000, your payback amount would be 10% of the current value or $15,000.

If you are interested in this program or have further questions, we encourage you to reach out to your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker. This is a brand-new program and more details are coming out each day. We also are working to better understand the implications of this type of shared equity mortgage and will keep you updated on any news or updates we receive.

Geoff Lee
GEOFF LEE
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
18 Nov

Insights on October Data on Housing from DLC’s Chief Economist

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

OCTOBER DATA CONFIRM THAT HOUSING IS IN FULL REBOUND

Statistics released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) show that national home sales rose for the eighth consecutive month. Activity held steady in October at the relatively robust September pace following a string of monthly increases that began in March. Existing home sales are now almost 20% above the six-year low reached in February 2019, but remain 7% below the heights reached in 2016 and 2017 when many fretted over a housing bubble (see chart below).

Housing activity in roughly half of the local markets rose offset by the other half that fell. Higher sales in Greater Vancouver (GVA), the neighbouring Fraser Valley and Ottawa offset a monthly decline in activity in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), particularly in Central Toronto, and Hamilton-Burlington.

Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity rose 12.9% year-over-year. Transactions were up from year-ago levels in 80% of all local markets in October, including all of Canada’s largest urban markets.

All was not rosy, however. “It’s a full-blown buyer’s market or on the cusp of one in a number of housing markets across the Prairies and in Newfoundland,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “Homebuyers there have the upper hand in purchase negotiations and the mortgage stress-test has contributed to that by reducing the number of competing buyers who can qualify for mortgage financing while market conditions are in their favour.”

New Listings

The number of newly listed homes fell by 1.8% in October, with the GTA and Ottawa posting the most significant declines. Almost a third of all housing markets posted a monthly decrease of at least 5%, while about a fifth of all markets posted a monthly increase of at least 5%.

Steady sales and fewer new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 63.7%. This measure has been increasingly rising above its long-term average of 53.6%. Its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming more and more tilted in favour of sellers; however, the national measure continues to mask significant regional variations.
Based on a comparison of the sales-to-new listings ratio with the long-term average, just over two-thirds of all local markets were in balanced market territory in October 2019, including the GTA and Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Nonetheless, sales negotiations remain tilted in favour of buyers in housing markets located in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador.

The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between sales and the supply of listings. It represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.

There were 4.4 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of October 2019—the lowest level recorded since April 2017. This measure of market balance has been retreating further below its long-term average of 5.3 months. While still within balanced market territory, its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming more tilted in favour of sellers.

National measures of market balance continue to mask significant regional variations. The number of months of inventory has swollen far beyond long-term averages in the Prairie provinces and Newfoundland & Labrador, giving homebuyers an ample choice in these regions. By contrast, the measure is running well below long-term averages in Ontario, Quebec and Maritime provinces, resulting in increased competition among buyers for listings and providing fertile ground for price gains. The measure is still well centred within balanced market territory in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

Home Prices

The Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) rose 0.6%, marking its fifth consecutive monthly gain. Seasonally adjusted MLS® HPI readings in October were up from the previous month in 14 of the 18 markets tracked by the index. (Table below)

Recently, home price trends have generally been stabilizing in the Lower Mainland and the Prairies. While that remains the case in Calgary and Saskatoon, home prices in Edmonton and Regina continue to decline. By contrast, home price trends have started to recover in the GVA and the neighbouring Fraser Valley.

Meanwhile, price growth continues to rebound in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). In markets further east, price growth has been trending higher for the last three or four years.

Comparing home prices to year-ago levels yields considerable variations across the country, with mostly declines in western Canada and mostly price gains in eastern Canada.

The actual (not seasonally adjusted) Aggregate Composite MLS® (HPI) was up 1.8% y-o-y in October 2019, the biggest year-over-year gain since November 2018.

Home prices in the GVA (-6.4%) and the Fraser Valley (-4.2%) are still below year-ago levels, although declines are becoming smaller.

Elsewhere in British Columbia, home prices logged y-o-y increases on Vancouver Island and in the Okanagan Valley (3.1% and 2%, respectively) while having edged marginally higher in Victoria (0.5% y-o-y).

Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon posted price declines in the range of -1.5% to -2.5% on a y-o-y basis in October, while the gap between this year and last year widened sharply to -6.8% in Regina.

In Ontario, price growth has re-accelerated well ahead of overall consumer price inflation across most of the GGH. Meanwhile, price growth in recent years has continued uninterrupted in Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton.

Bottom Line

This report is in line with other recent indicators that suggest housing has recovered from a slump earlier, helped by low mortgage rates. The run of robust housing data gave the Bank of Canada another reason– along with healthy job gains and higher wage rates — to hold interest rates steady. However, the central bank has become more cautious in its outlook. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, one of the few central bankers to resist the global push toward easier monetary policy, acknowledged he’s begun to consider the merits of joining other countries in lowering borrowing costs.

At a press conference after the Bank of Canada’s decision to keep the current 1.75% policy interest rate unchanged for an eighth straight meeting, Poloz said his governing council discussed the possibility of implementing an “insurance” cut to counter the global economic headwinds. But, the council decided against it because of the potential costs to such a move. These include driving up inflation already at the central bank’s 2% target and fueling household debt levels that are among the highest in the world.

“Governing Council considered whether the downside risks to the Canadian economy were sufficient at this time to warrant a more accommodative monetary policy as a form of insurance against those risks, and we concluded that they were not,” Poloz said. The Bank of Canada “is mindful that the resilience of Canada’s economy will be increasingly tested as trade conflicts and uncertainty persist.”

Dr. Sherry Cooper

DR. SHERRY COOPER

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.

12 Nov

Mortgage Payments are Comprised of Principal and Interest.

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

Principal and interest are the two components that make up a mortgage payment. Principal is the portion of your payment that goes towards paying down the outstanding balance of your mortgage. Interest is the other portion of your payment which goes directly into the pockets of your lender and does not contribute to paying down your mortgage balance.

What some people may not realize is that a compounding interest rate (what the majority of all mortgages are) is weighted differently depending on how many years you have left on your mortgage.

If a young couple were to purchase their very first home, lets say $500,000 for example, and they had a $100,000 down payment, their mortgage would be $400,000. If they had today’s interest rates, their mortgage would be around 3%, compounded semi-annually, over 25 years with their interest rate re-negotiable every 5-years if they keep the same term. Assuming they were able to get 3% for the entire 25-years, their monthly payments would be $1,892.98 a month for the life of their mortgage.

Their first payment however is not $1,892.98, with 97% of it going to paying down the $400,000 balance and 3% going towards interest. The very first payment would actually be broken down as $993.81 of interest and $899.17 going towards paying down the principal balance of $400,000.

Now, it wont stay like this forever, the very last payment before the first 5-year term is up would be broken down as $854.62 going towards interest and $1,038.36 of the $1,892.98 going towards paying down the principal. It wouldn’t be until year 10 where the interest portion dips below $500.

If you can, any pre-payments you make each month will directly pay down the principal balance outstanding. This will also in turn, allow for less interest to be charged as interest is always calculated based on the current balance outstanding. In the later years, it may not be as advantageous, but in the first 5-10 years, it can be extremely beneficial.

If you want to see the break down of principal and interest portions inside your own mortgage, feel free to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

Ryan Oake
Ryan Oake
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
7 Nov

Before signing your mortgage renewal, some things to consider

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

Mortgage renewals with the same lender are on the rise, but should you just sign on the dotted line?

If you’re in a mortgage that’s coming up for renewal in the coming months and you’re considering just staying with your current lender, you wouldn’t be alone.
According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Residential Mortgage Industry Report released in the summer, in 2018, the number of mortgage renewals with the same lender increased by 16 per cent over the previous year.
The report suggested one of the factors that may have contributed to large increases in loan renewals with the same institution are the tighter approval criteria. In other words, people are worried they may not qualify for a new mortgage if they switch lenders, so they’re staying put.
You’ll remember in the fall of 2017, OSFI, (the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions) the agency that regulates the financial industry, announced tighter rules on mortgages. The biggest change related to uninsured mortgages, or homebuyers with 20 per cent or more for a down payment. These people are now required to go through a “stress test” or qualify using a minimum qualifying rate.
The changes came a year after a similar stress test was introduced for insured mortgages.
If the tighter mortgage rules still have you stressed as you face a mortgage renewal, the CMHC report noted the approval rate for same lender renewals remained stable at 99 per cent. Renewals are not specifically subject to the new stress test and are more likely to meet current lender criteria, the reported noted.
So, does that mean you should just automatically renew your mortgage with the same lender when your term is up? Not necessarily. You need to reach out to a mortgage professional to get the best advice.
For starters, most lenders, especially the big banks, will send you a renewal letter when there’s about three months left on the term. Sometimes that letter could come with six months left. Typically, the lender will offer you a rate at that time and all you’ll have to do is sign at the bottom line to roll over your mortgage.
But beware, lenders often offer a higher rate than a new client because they’re hoping the ease of renewal will keep you from seeking out a new lender and lower rate.
In some cases, it may be best to just sign and roll over your mortgage. There are a few things to consider. If you decide to change lenders, you’ll basically have to go through an approval process again. That entails getting all your documents, lawyer’s fees and appraisals.
You’ll have to ask yourself, is it worth the effort to save a few basis points off your rate, or a few hundred dollars over a term to make the switch?
For some it won’t be. But, if a switch can lead to saving thousands of dollars, it would certainly be something to consider. While everyone’s situation is different, the larger the mortgage, the bigger the savings will be if you can find a lower rate.
Often, homeowners will just use a bank their parents recommend for their first mortgage. But they might find themselves not happy with the service or terms of the mortgage and may just want to switch to a different lender as the mortgage comes up for renewal.
If that’s a situation you find yourself in, you have options, and a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage broker can help you make the best decision.

Jeremy Deutsch
Jeremy Deutsch
Communications Advisor
4 Nov

Despite Global uncertainty, Bank of Canada holds policy rate

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

Bank of Canada Holds Policy Rate Steady Amid Global Uncertainty

It is rare for the Bank of Canada and the US Federal Reserve to announce rate decisions on the same day, but today’s announcements highlight the stark differences in policy in the two countries. The Bank this morning announced they would maintain their target for the overnight rate at 1.75% for the eighth straight meeting. The Fed is widely expected to cut its target for the fed funds rate by another 25 basis points, taking it below the key rate in Canada for the first time since 2016. More than 30 central banks have cut interest rates in the past year and the Bank of Canada in today’s Policy Statement highlighted the weakening in the global economic outlook since the release of its July Monetary Policy Report (MPR).

In today’s MPR, the Bank revised down its forecast for global economic growth this year to below 3.0%, reflecting a downward revision in growth in the United States to 2.3% (from 2.5%), the Euro area (to 1.1% from 1.2%), oil-importing emerging market economies and the rest of the world. China’s growth pace remains at a 30-year low of 6.1%.

Trade conflicts and uncertainty are weakening the world economy to its slowest pace since the 2007-09 economic and financial crisis. The slowdown has been most pronounced in business investment and the manufacturing sector and has coincided with a contraction in global trade (Chart 1). Despite the manufacturing slowdown, unemployment rates continue to be near historic lows in many advanced economies, as growth in employment in service sectors has remained resilient.

Growth is projected to strengthen modestly to around 3.25% by 2021, with a pickup in some emerging-market economies (EMEs) more than offsetting slower growth in the United States and China.

Canada has not been immune to these developments. Commodity prices have fallen amid concerns about global demand. Despite this, the Canada-US exchange rate is still near its July level, and the Canadian dollar has strengthened against other currencies.
Growth in Canada is expected to slow in the second half of this year to a rate below its potential. This reflects the uncertainty associated with trade conflicts, the continuing adjustment in the energy sector, and the unwinding of temporary factors that boosted growth in the second quarter. Business investment and exports are likely to contract before expanding again in 2020 and 2021. At the same time, government spending and lower borrowing rates are supporting domestic demand, and activity in the services sector remains robust. Employment is showing continuing strength and wage growth is picking up, although with some variation among regions. Consumer spending has been choppy but will be supported by solid income growth. Meanwhile, housing activity is picking up in most markets. The Bank continues to monitor the evolution of financial vulnerabilities in light of lower mortgage rates and past changes to housing market policies.

Canadian Economy Boosted By Housing

The Canadian economy grew at a moderate pace over the past year, supported by a healthy labour market and the recent turnaround in housing. However, global trade conflicts and related uncertainty dampened business investment and export activities, and investment in the energy sector continued to decline. The impact on growth of both global headwinds and energy transportation constraints is expected to diminish, and the pace of economic expansion should gradually pick up in 2020 and 2021.

In 2020 and 2021, Canada’s economy is anticipated to grow near potential. Consumer spending is projected to increase at a steady pace, and housing activity to continue its ongoing recovery. Overall, investment and exports are anticipated to grow moderately. In the energy sector, investment is forecast to stabilize, and oil exports should improve as pipeline and rail capacity gradually expands.

In today’s MPR, the Bank states that housing resales have been catching up to underlying demand (see chart 7 from the MPR). Housing markets generally reflect regional economic conditions. Housing starts and resales have been particularly robust in Quebec and Ontario, where labour markets have been strong. These provinces will likely continue to be the main drivers of the growth in residential investment. In Alberta, where the oil industry is expected to stabilize, modest improvements in housing are expected. In British Columbia, residential investment has recovered in recent months and should remain near current levels, reflecting the creation of new households.

Bottom Line

The dovish tone of today’s policy statement suggests that the Bank of Canada has become more cautious in its holding pattern amid a weakening global economy. The central bank “is mindful that the resilience of Canada’s economy will be increasingly tested as trade conflicts and uncertainty persist,” policymakers led by Governor Stephen Poloz said in the statement. “In considering the appropriate path for monetary policy, the Bank will be monitoring the extent to which the global slowdown spreads beyond manufacturing and investment.”

The statement and the fresh batch of more pessimistic growth forecasts will raise questions about the central bank’s commitment to a neutral stance on rates, particularly in the face of global easing in many other countries that has made the Bank of Canada an outlier. If the Federal Reserve lowers its interest rates later today, as expected, the Bank of Canada would have the highest policy rate in the industrialized world.

It may well be that the Bank of Canada cuts rates early next year. Mitigating this prospect is that the Bank was more bullish on consumption and housing–fueled by the robust labour market. Another source of future growth is additional fiscal stimulus from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s newly elected Liberal government, which has promised to implement new spending and tax cuts next year. For now, the Bank is maintaining a neutral stance.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres