The CEO of the CMHC is saying that although some Canadian house prices are certainly too high, they aren’t worried about a market collapse at this point.

One option they are considering as a way to help cool an overheated market is sharing mortgage loan risk with the banks that are handing out loans.

The mortgage insurance that CMHC and its two competitors sell repays banks when consumers default on their mortgages. At the moment it makes the banks whole. The OECD has called for changes to the system to ensure that lenders take on more of the risk. In other countries with mortgage insurance, the product tends to only cover 10 to 30 per cent of the losses. In his speech, Mr. Siddall said that CMHC is evaluating “risk-sharing with lenders to further confront moral hazard” and is advising the government about its thoughts.

Read the full article here.

Hat-tip to southseacompany.

It’s the end of another work week and you know what that means…

Friday Free-for-all time!

This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend, here are a few recent links to kick off the chat:

-World warns of Canada risk
-Fed renews zero rate, hints at hike
-BC too laid back for China business
-HAM a myth?
-How locals afford homes
-Slackers are Debtors?
-FIPA is coming

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Ed Clark is the CEO of Canada’s 2nd largest lender: TD Bank, but he’s heading out in November.

He has some interesting things to say about mortgage lending in Canada:

“It’s just not realistic in a competitive marketplace to say, ‘Why doesn’t one bank lead the way and change the rules?’ It won’t happen. This is a responsibility of the government,” he told Reuters.

“I get why they keep worrying about doing it. But I think you have to just keep touching this brake. As long as you run low interest rates, you then should be continuously leaning against asset bubbles.”

Why is it not realistic for an individual bank to change lending rules? Because they would be the chump to leave money on the table.  If your business had an oppourtunity for income which the government would insure against loss, how much sense would it make to not take advantage of that business?

And you’ve got to love this seemingly prerequisite paragraph that comes next in all of these articles:

Canada’s Conservative government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules to cool a real estate market that flourished as the financial crisis ebbed.

It is accurate to say that the government has stepped in four times since 2008 to tighten mortgage lending rules, but it omits the change before 2008. For those of you just tuning in they look something like this:

•March ’06: CMHC change to allow 0% down, 30 year Amort.

•June ’06: Allow 35 year amort & interest only payments for 10 yrs

•Nov. ’06: Aw heck, lets go all out and allow 40 year amorts!

•April ’07: Insured min. down payment moved from 25% to 20%

•Oct. ’08: 5% down allowed, amort moved back to 35 years

•April ’10: Require approval at 5 year fixed rate

•March ’11: Drop back down to 30 year amorts.

•July ’12: Drop back down to 25 year amorts.

Shouldn’t we take into account how much gas was applied before we started tapping the brakes?

This is probably the first housing editorial in The Province that most readers here can agree on.  Well, the headline any ways:

Politicians shouldn’t meddle with the housing market.

Imagine a world where the government didn’t meddle with the housing market.  There would be no CMHC insuring close to $600 Billion in mortgages, instead lenders would loan based only on their own assessment of risk.  There would be no HBP, no HOG. In 2006 there would not have been the rule change that allowed zero down 40 year mortgages with interest only payments for 10 years. After 2008 the CMHC wouldn’t have purchased $69 billion of mortgages off bank books.

But of course you’ve probably figured out that this Province editorial isn’t about that. No, this editorial is about someone suggesting we should levy a tax on vacant properties, likely the tiniest possible example you could find for ‘meddling’ in the housing market.

Wong is not alone in unfairly blaming foreign investors for Vancouver’s high housing prices. The reality is that real estate is a commodity whose price is set in a free market, appropriately, through the forces of supply and demand. No one has a “right” to own a house in a particular city or neighbourhood, and it’s about time that people like Wong and her COPE and NDP pals stopped promoting such notions, especially when it involves taking money from one group and giving it to another. You want a house? Work hard and buy one — or move somewhere cheaper.

Read the full editorial here.

 

Household debt near record high

September 15th, 2014

Southseacompany pointed out this article in the Chicago Tribune:

Canadian household-debt ratio nears record as mortgages grow

“Home sales and prices have shown unexpected strength as the lowest mortgage rates in decades spur demand. ”

“With mortgage debt rising, the economy will be exposed when interest rates rise, said Andy Nasr, senior portfolio manager at Calgary-based Middlefield Capital Corp. which manages about C$4 billion ($3.6 billion), including real estate stocks.

“The misconception is that ‘Well it’s OK because people can somehow afford it,’” he said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office Friday. “They can’t.””

Friday Free-for-all!

September 12th, 2014

Well well well, you made it to the end of another work week!

That means it’s time for our regular Friday free-for-all post. This is our regular end of the week news Roundup and open topic thread for the weekend. Here are a few recent links to kickoff the chat:

-Canadians feel financial squeeze
-Growing number lack emergency funds
-Fitch: Canadian market 20% overvalued
-CMHC could force banks to pay deductible
-Van & Toronto: Record building permits
-How to go broke on $400k a year
-Live with renters to help pay mortgage
-Complaints over monster homes
-Rejection of Chinese steel delays bridge
-Can China end BC school strike? (1:45)

So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

Rent to own?

September 11th, 2014

At least one local developer has struck on an ‘innovative’ way to rent out their property: rent to own.

Just like TV and Furniture in the 80s, you can rent to own a condo.

Under the plan, 15 per cent of a tenant’s monthly rent goes into a credit account. That money can then be used in the future for a down payment on a new Bosa home purchase, to a maximum of three per cent of the home’s value.

This should appeal to someone who is having difficulty finding a unit for 15% less and putting the money away themselves.

Global RE frothy again

September 8th, 2014

After housing markets slumped around the globe governments and central banks did what they could to reinflate them, driving down the cost of debt.

Well it worked.

The US market is down a bit from their precrash highs, but Canada is sailing high.  What’s the endgame?

With global monetary conditions so loose, governments are using regulatory tools to cool overheated housing markets. In Canada, for example, the maximum term of the riskiest mortgages has been lowered from 40 to 25 years. Regulators in both Hong Kong and Singapore have repeatedly raised stamp duties and tightened lending restrictions. The measures seem finally to be working, especially in Singapore, where prices are now falling.

So as potential home buyer on planet earth, what’s your next move? Do you go with low interest rates forever as a way to keep prices up, or do you stand back and wait for a price correction?

As an aside its interesting to note one nation whose market isn’t doing so well is Japan, where they’ve had rock bottom interest rates for a really long time.

Friday free-for-all!

September 5th, 2014

Its the end of another week and that means it’s Friday Free-for-all time!

This is our regular end of the week news round up and open topic discussion thread for the weekend.

-news links to come?

So what are you seeing out there?

Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!

The middle class is doomed.

You may have heard of that internal Conservative Government report on the middle class prepared by Employment and Social Development Canada even though it was never released.

The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to get a copy and it’s mostly remarkable due to some of its blunt take-aways:

“The market does not reward middle-income families so well,” says the report. “As a result, they get an increasingly smaller share of the earnings pie” compared with higher-income families.

The report also refers to debt, saying “many in the middle spend more than they earn, mortgaging their future to sustain their current consumption.”

“Over the medium term, middle-income Canadians are unlikely to move to higher income brackets, i.e., the ‘Canadian dream’ is a myth more than a reality.”

Well it turns out that there’s another way to look at the same data, as Finance Canada has just done.

“Their analysis arrives at conclusions — namely that middle-income families have stagnant wages, are unlikely to move to higher income groups, and are increasingly indebted — which appear to conflict with the general message in Budget 2014 and previous internal briefings,” says an accompanying briefing note for Oliver.

The new report points out that moving from single earner to double earner households as more women have joined the workforce has acted to keep the middle class afloat.

The Finance Canada report estimates about 70 per cent of the increase in middle-class household incomes since the mid-1990s can be attributed to higher workforce participation rates, primarily by women workers.

“There is no second wave of women, spouses, entering the workforce,” said New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen, the opposition’s finance critic.

Of course the MP is being overly pessimistic without cause, there’s an obvious next wave of income for households and it doesn’t require polygamy.

The children are our future.

It’s time for Canada to get in line with global economic trends and fully utilize the productivity of the available workforce.  We have a large population of potential workers that remain untapped.

Instead of wasting tax dollars and time in school, children could be gaining valuable experience cleaning homes, mining coal or any number of other jobs to help support the household. Lets not squander this bright future opportunity, let’s put the kids to work!

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