There’s less than half a month left in the year, so that’s a good time to revise forecasts. The CREA has revised their 2012 national sales forecast from an increase of 1.9% to a drop of 0.5%. I’m guessing they’ve also revised their forecast for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Looking ahead they expect 2013 to see a sales drop of 2%, but here in BC they forecast both sales and prices to drop just by 0.3 percent.

“Annual sales in 2012 reflect a stronger profile before recent mortgage rule changes followed by weaker activity following their implementation,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist.

“By contrast, forecast sales in 2013 reflect an improvement from levels this summer in the immediate wake of mortgage rule changes. Even so, sales in most provinces next year are expected to remain down from levels posted before the most recent changes to mortgage regulations.”

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty moved in July to tighten mortgage rules for the fourth time in as many years in order to discourage Canadians from taking on too much debt. Among the changes, Flaherty made mortgage payments more expensive by dropping the maximum amortization period to 25 years.

*FFffffff!* Is anybody else getting sick of the miopic talk of ‘tougher’ mortgage rules? Here’s a great point from Ben Rabidoux about how to put these mortgage rule ‘changes’ and Flahertys ‘tightening’ into historical perspective:

Before looking more at the implications of a mortgage rule change like the one being proposed, it may be helpful to provide a brief overview of the mortgage changes that have occured over the past few years:

- In 1999, the National Housing Act and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act were modified allowing for the introduction of a 5% down payment….a far cry from the minimum 25% of a few years earlier.
- In 2003 CMHC decided to remove the price ceilings limitations. That is, it would insure any mortgage regardless of the cost of the home.
- In 2005 and 2006, CMHC began insuring 30, then 35 year amortization mortgages.
- In 2007, CMHC allowed people to purchase a home with no down payment and ammortize it over 40 years. This was changed back to a 5% down payment requirement and a maximum amortization length of 35 years in 2008 once the idiocy of this policy was blatantly obvious.
Here’s the point: CMHC has been in existence for almost 65 years. For the first 60 of those years, they never insured mortgages with amortizations greater than 25 years. Only in the past 5 years has this experiment been started. The 35 year ams that are now on the chopping block have been around only since 2006. So let’s understand that any move to shorten amortization lengths is NOT some new, revolutionary move, but rather a move back towards norms that are both long-standing and fiscally prudent.