4 Mar

Bank of Canada drops prime lending rate

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

INTEREST RATES NOSEDIVE AS BANK OF CANADA CUTS RATES 50 BPS

The Bank of Canada Brings Out The Big Guns

Following yesterday’s surprise emergency 50 basis point (bp) rate cut by the Fed, the Bank of Canada followed suit today and signalled it is poised to do more if necessary. The BoC lowered its target for the overnight rate by 50 bps to 1.25%, suggesting that “the COVID-19 virus is a material negative shock to the Canadian and global outlooks.” This is the first time the Bank has eased monetary policy in four years.

According to the BoC’s press release, “COVID-19 represents a significant health threat to people in a growing number of countries. In consequence, business activity in some regions has fallen sharply, and supply chains have been disrupted. This has pulled down commodity prices, and the Canadian dollar has depreciated. Global markets are reacting to the spread of the virus by repricing risk across a broad set of assets, making financial conditions less accommodative. It is likely that as the virus spreads, business and consumer confidence will deteriorate, further depressing activity.” The press release went on to promise that “as the situation evolves, the Governing Council stands ready to adjust monetary policy further if required to support economic growth and keep inflation on target.”

Moving the full 50 basis points is a powerful message from the Bank of Canada. Particularly given that Governor Poloz has long been bucking the tide of monetary easing by more than 30 central banks around the world, concerned about adding fuel to a red hot housing market, especially in Toronto. Other central banks will no doubt follow, although already-negative interest rates hamper the euro-area and Japan.

Canadian interest rates, which have been falling rapidly since mid-February, nosedived in response to the Bank’s announcement. The 5-year Government of Canada bond yield plunged to a mere 0.82% (see chart below), about half its level at the start of the year.

Fixed-rate mortgage rates have fallen as well, although not as much as government bond yields. The prime rate, which has been stuck at 3.95% since October 2018 when the Bank of Canada last changed (hiked) its overnight rate, is going to fall, but not by the full 50 bps as the cost of funds for banks has risen with the surge in credit spreads. A cut in the prime rate will lower variable-rate mortgage rates.

Many expect the Fed to cut rates again when it meets later this month at its regularly scheduled policy meeting, and the Canadian central bank is now expected to cut interest rates again in April. Of course, monetary easing does not address supply-chain disruptions or travel cancellations. Easing is meant to flood the system with liquidity and improve consumer and business confidence–just as happened in response to the financial crisis. Expect fiscal stimulus as well in the upcoming federal budget.

All of this will boost housing demand even though reduced travel from China might crimp sales in Vancouver. A potential recession is not good for housing, but lower interest rates certainly fuel what was already a hot spring sales market. Data released today by the Toronto Real Estate Board show that Toronto home prices soared in February, and sales jumped despite low inventories. The number of transactions jumped 46% from February 2019, which was a 10-year sales low as the market struggled with tougher mortgage rules and higher interest rates. February sales were up by about 15% compared to January.

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.
4 Feb

TD Bank Lowers qualifying rate

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

TD LOWERS QUALIFYING MORTGAGE RATE 35 BPS TO 4.99%

 

CANADIAN QUALIFYING MORTGAGE RATE LOWERED TO 4.99%

Market interest rates have fallen sharply since the coronavirus-led investor flight to the safety of government bonds. The 5-year government bond yield–a harbinger of conventional mortgage rates–now stands at 1.34%, down sharply from the 1.60+% range it was trading in before the virus became global news (see chart below).

This morning, one of the Big-Six banks finally reacted. TD cut its posted 5-year fixed rate to 4.99%. TD’s posted rate had previously been at 5.34%, making this a 36 basis point cut. Other banks had lowered their qualifying rate to 5.19% last July, leading the Bank of Canada to cut its 5-year conventional mortgage rate to 5.19%. This is the qualifying rate under the B-20 rule introduced on January 1, 2018.

Even the regulators have been questioning the efficacy and fairness of using the big-bank posted rate as a qualifying rate for mortgage stress testing.

On January 24, the Assistant Superintendent of OSFI’s Regulation Sector, Ben Gully, gave a speech at the C.D. Howe Institute suggesting that the B-20 qualifying mortgage rate historically would be no more than 200 basis points above contract rates. He said that OSFI chose the “best available rate at the time.”

He went on to say that for many years, the difference between the benchmark rate and the average contract rate was 200 bps. However, this gap “has been widening more recently, suggesting that the benchmark is less responsive to market changes than when it was first proposed. We are reviewing this aspect of our qualifying rate, as the posted rate is not playing the role that we intended. As always, we will share our results with our federal partners. This will help to inform the advice OSFI might provide to the Minister, as requested in the mandate letter to him.

By keeping posted rates too high, the Big-Six banks have inflated the qualifying rate, making it more difficult than necessary to pass the stress test to get a mortgage.

While TD’s rate cut is welcome news, its posted rate is still too high by historical standards. Given today’s average contract rates, the posted rate should be at least 20 bps lower still.

Banks have a strong incentive to inflate their posted mortgage rate. For one thing, they are the basis for the calculation of big-bank mortgage penalties. Also, they are the minimum qualifying rate.

The posted rate does not appropriately reflect the state of the mortgage market as few borrowers would pay this rate. Interestingly, banks often move this rate in lock-step, or close to it, reflecting their dominant oligopolistic position in the marketplace.

If a couple of the other big banks follow TD’s lead, the Bank of Canada benchmark rate will be below 5% for the first time since January 2018 when the new B-20 rules were adopted. Lowering the stress test rate by 20 bps from 5.19% to 4.99% would require roughly 1.8% less income to qualify for a mortgage on the average Canadian home price (assuming a 20% downpayment), increasing buying power by 2%. This doesn’t sound like much, but it can have a meaningful psychological impact on already improving housing markets. The latest CREA data shows that the national average home price surged 9.6% year-over-year in December. A lower stress test rate would make a busy spring housing market even more active.

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.

24 Jan

Bank of Canada Holds overnight rate

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

Bank of Canada Holds Steady Despite Economic Slowdown

In a more dovish statement, the Bank of Canada maintained its target for the overnight rate at 1.75% for the tenth consecutive time. Today’s decision was widely expected as members of the Governing Council have signalled that the Bank still believes that the Canadian economy is resilient, despite the marked slowdown in growth in the fourth quarter of last year that has spilled into the early part of this year. The economy has underperformed the forecast in the October Monetary Policy Report (MPR).

In today’s MPR, the Bank estimates growth of only 0.3% in Q4 of 2019 and 1.3%in the first quarter of 2020. Exports fell late last year, and business investment appears to have weakened after a strong Q3, reflecting a decline in business confidence. Job creation has slowed, and indicators of consumer confidence and spending have been much softer than expected. The one bright light has been residential investment, which was robust through most of 2019, moderating to a still-solid pace in the fourth quarter only because of a dearth of newly listed properties for sale. 

The central bank’s press release stated that “Some of the slowdown in growth in late 2019 was related to temporary factors that include strikes, poor weather, and inventory adjustments. The weaker data could also signal that global economic conditions have been affecting Canada’s economy to a greater extent than was predicted. Moreover, during the past year, Canadians have been saving a larger share of their incomes, which could signal increased consumer caution which could dampen consumer spending but help to alleviate financial vulnerabilities at the same time.”

The January MPR states that over the projection horizon (2020 and 2021), “business investment and exports are anticipated to improve as oil transportation capacity expands, and the impact of trade policy headwinds on global growth diminishes. Household spending is projected to strengthen, driven by solid growth of both the population and household disposable income.” Growth is expected to be 1.6% in 2019 and 2020 and is anticipated to strengthen to 2.0% in 2021.

Inflation has remained at roughly the Bank’s target of 2%, and is expected to continue at that pace.

Also from the MPR: “The level of housing activity remains solid across most of Canada, although recent indicators suggest that residential investment growth has slowed from its previously strong pace. Demand remains robust in Quebec, where the labour market has been strong. In Ontario and British Columbia, population growth is boosting housing demand. In contrast, Alberta’s housing market continues to adjust to challenges in the oil and gas sector. Nationally, house prices have continued to increase and should strengthen slightly in the near term, consistent with the responses to the Bank’s recent Canadian Survey of Consumer Expectations.”

Bottom Line: The Canadian dollar sold off on the release of this statement and I believe there is a downside risk to the Bank of Canada forecast. Today’s release is a more dovish statement than last month, showing less confidence in the outlook. The Governing Council did express concern that the recent weakness in growth could be more persistent than their current forecast, saying that “the Bank will be paying particular attention to developments in consumer spending, the housing market, and business investment.” They also raised estimates of slack in the economy and dropped language about the current rate being appropriate.

According to Bloomberg News, today’s Governing Council comments “are a departure from recent communications in which officials sought to accentuate the positives of an economy that had been running near capacity and was deemed resilient in the face of global uncertainty. While Wednesday’s decision still leaves the Bank of Canada with the highest policy rate among major advanced economies, markets may interpret the statement as an attempt to, at the very least, open the door for a future move.”

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.

16 Dec

Verifying your downpayment for buying a home in Canada

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

HOW TO VERIFY YOUR DOWN PAYMENT WHEN BUYING A HOME

Saving for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges facing people wanting to buy their first home.
To fulfill the conditions of your mortgage approval, it’s all about what you can prove (hard to believe – but some people have lied in the past – horrors!).
Documentation of down payment is required by all lenders to protect against fraud and to prove that you are not borrowing your down payment, which changes your lending ratios and potential your mortgage approval.

DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED BY THE LENDER TO VERIFY YOUR DOWN PAYMENT

This is a government anti-money laundering requirement and protects the lender against fraud.

1. Personal Savings/Investments: Your lender needs to see a minimum of 3 months’ history of where the money for your down payment is coming from including your: savings, Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) or investment money.

  • Regularly deposit all your cash in the bank, don’t squirrel your money away at home. Lenders don’t like to hear that you’ve just deposited $10,000 cash that has been sitting under your mattress. Your bank statements will need to clearly show your name and your account number.
  • Any large deposits outside of “normal” will need to be explained (i.e. tax return, bonus from work, sale of a large ticket item). If you have transferred money from once account to another you will need to show a record of the money leaving one account and arriving in the other. Lenders want to see a paper trail of where your down payment is coming from and how it got into your account.

 

2. Gifted Down Payment: In some expensive real estate markets like Metro Vancouver & Toronto, the bank of Mom & Dad help 20% of first time home buyers. You can use these gifted funds for your down payment if you have a signed gift letter from your family member that states the down payment is a true gift and no repayment is required.

  • Gifted down payments are only acceptable from immediate family members: parents, grandparents & siblings.
  • Be prepared to show the gifted funds have been deposited in your account 15 days prior to closing. The lender may want to see a transaction record. i.e. $30,000 from Bank of Mom & Dad’s account transferred to yours and a record of the $30,000 landing in your account. Bank documents will need to show the account number and names for the giver and receiver of the funds. Contact me for a sample gift letter.

3. Using your RRSP: If you’re a First Time Home Buyer, you may qualify to use up to $35,000 from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) for your down payment.

  • Home Buyers Plan (HBP): Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $35,000 from their RRSPs to assist with the purchase of a home. The funds are not required to be used only for the down payment, but for other purposes to assist in the purchase of a home.
  • If you buy a qualifying home together with your spouse or other individuals, each of you can withdraw up to $35,000.
  • You must repay all withdrawals to your RRSP’s 15 years. Generally, you will have to repay an amount to your RRSP each year until you have repaid the entire amount you withdrew. If you do not repay the amount due for a year (i.e. $35,000/15 years = $2,333.33 per year), it will be added to your income for that year.
  • Verifying your down payment from your RRSP, you will need to prove the funds show a 3-month RRSP history via your account statements which need to include your name and account number. Funds must be sitting in your account for 90 days to use them for HBP.

4. Proceeds from Selling Your Existing Home: If your down payment is coming from the proceeds of selling your currently home, then you will need to show your lender an accepted offer of Purchase and Sale (with all subjects removed) between you and the buyer of your current home.

  • If you have an existing mortgage on your current home, you will need to provide an up-to-date mortgage statement.

5. Money from Outside Canada: Using funds from outside of Canada is acceptable, but you need to have the money on deposit in a Canadian financial institution at least 30 days before your closing date.  Most lenders will also want to see that you have enough funds to cover Property Transfer Tax (in BC) PLUS 1.5% of the purchase price available in your account to cover your closing costs (i.e. legal, appraisal, home inspection, taxes, etc.).

  • Property Transfer Tax (PTT) All buyers pay Property Transfer Tax (except first-time buyers purchasing under $500,000 and New Builds under $750,000). This is a cash expense, in addition to your down payment.
    Property Transfer Tax (PTT) cannot be financed into the mortgage

Buying a home for the first time can be stressful, therefore being prepared with the right documentation for your down payment and closing costs can make the process much easier.
Mortgages are complicated, but they don’t have to be. Contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional near you.

Kelly Hudson
KELLY HUDSON
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
29 Oct

If you are a co-signor for a mortgage, some information for you to consider.

General

Posted by: Charlene Elliott

6 Things all Co-signors should consider

Co-signing on a loan may seem like an easy way to help a loved one (child, family member, friend, etc. ) live out their dream of owning a home. In today’s market conditions, a co-signor can offer a solution to overcome the high market prices and stress testing measure. For example, if you have a damaged credit score, not enough income, or another reason that a lender will not approve the mortgage loan, a co-signor addition on the loan can satisfy the lenders needs and lessen the risk associated with the loan. However, as a co-signor there are considerations.

  1. If you act as a co-signor or guarantor, you are entrusting your entire credit history to the borrowers. What this mean is that late payments on the loan will not only hurt them, but it will also impact you.
  2. Understand your current situations—taxes, legal, and estate. Co-signing is a large obligation that could harm you financially if the primary borrowers cannot pay.
  3. Try to understand, upfront, how many years the co-borrower agreement will be in place and know if you can make changes to things mid-term if the borrower becomes able to assume the original mortgage on their own.
  4. Consider the implications this will have regarding your personal income taxes. You may have an obligation to pay capital gains taxes and we would highly recommend talking to an accountant prior to signing off.
  5. Co-signors should seek independent legal advice to ensure they fully understand their rights, obligations and the implications. A lawyer can lay it out clearly for you as well as help to point out any things you should take note of.
  6. Carefully think about the character and stability of the people that you are being asked to co-sign for. Do you trust them? Are you aware of their financial situation to some degree? Are you willing to put yourself at risk potentially to take on this responsibility? Another consideration is to think about your finances down the road and determine how much flexibility will be needed for yourself and your family too! If you have plans of your own that will require a loan, refinancing your home, etc. being a co-signor can have an impact.

Co-signing for a loan is a large responsibility but when it is set-up correctly and all options are considered, it can be an excellent way to help a family member, child, or friend reach their dream of homeownership. If you are considering being a co-signor or wondering if you will require a co-signor on your mortgage, reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional. We are always happy to answer any questions and guide you through processes like this.

Geoff Lee

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional