Category Archives: Budget

Canadian Banks could absorb losses in US-style housing crash

Good news for your monday morning!

If Canada saw a ‘US-style housing crisis‘ the big 6 banks could generate enough capital in a few quarters to cover losses.

If Canada were to experience a U.S.-style housing crisis, with house prices falling by up to 35 per cent, mortgage lenders including the country’s big six banks could lose nearly $12 billion, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service.

CMHC would also take a hit of about $6 billion if they challenge and reject claims, but if they decided not to they would take about half the loss as it would be more evenly split between the banks and CMHC.

You probably don’t have to worry about a US-style nationwide housing crash, because we have a different mortgage market that is explicitly backed by the government. The main concern would be rate increases and job losses as Canadian debt loads continue to increase:

There was almost $1.6 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding at the end of March, including home equity lines of credit, more than double the amount outstanding 10 years ago.

Read the full article over at the Financial Post.

B.C. Budget aims to fix real estate woes

There’s a new budget in BC and it includes some changes aimed at the real estate market.

For the first time the government has decided to start collecting data on foreign buyers and are offering a break on property transfer taxes for new construction under $750k.

The changes will see buyers save up to $13,000 from B.C.’s property transfer tax if they purchase a newly built home, condo or townhouse valued under $750,000, as long as they are Canadian residents who live in the home for at least a year. The tax break starts today.

It’s designed to boost the supply of new home construction and give people a helping hand to enter the market, said Finance Minister Mike de Jong. But it won’t cool the market enough for those who say they can’t afford to live in the Lower Mainland.

“If by cool you mean actually reduce the value of people’s major asset, their home, clearly we were not interested in taking that step,” said de Jong.

The tax break will be offset by a one-per-cent increase to the property transfer tax, to three per cent, on luxury homes that sell for more than $2 million.

Critics say the budget amounts to half-measures from a government that’s stuck between not wanting to intervene directly in the housing market and needing to look responsive to public frustration.

Read the full article over at the Vancouver Sun.

Rising home prices keep Canadians from starting families.

Bull! Bull! Bull! pointed out this article in the Vancouver Sun.

The ratesupermarket.ca survey of 1,700 Canadians found 52.8 per cent of Canadians overall cannot afford to start or expand their families, with 46.4 per cent of millennials sayings their existing debt was making it impossible, even before considering a mortgage.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, thinks there’s no question household formation is being impacted by prices. “Common sense tells you it makes sense. We have an affordability crisis in large parts of the country. In these types of cases, people either stay in the basement (of their parents) but they definitely don’t buy a house. We know in the United States for sure this happened.”

Infrastructure in cities has not kept pace with density, as evidenced by some Toronto condominium developments posting signs warnings parents that their children might not be able to get into local schools because of overcrowding.

As Bull! Bull! Bull! points out, that’s not really a big deal because Vancouver isn’t a family town anyways:

that’s ok. young ppl can live in condos, ride bikes, instagram their breakfast, experiment with facial hair, smoke lots of pot and generally act like they never moved out of residence. (showers are optional). they’ll be happier anyways.

Read the full article here.

It’s a bad time to have Canadian dollars

The Bank of Canada took another strike at driving down the Canadian dollar and cut the key interest rate by .25% to a slender .50%.

Canada’s central banker isn’t using the R-word – recession — but Stephen Poloz is cutting the Bank of Canada’s key interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.5 percent as he forecasts two back-to-back quarters of economic decline amid the crash in crude prices.

With Canadians carrying record-high debt loads and cheap money fuelling hot housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver, the 25 basis point rate cut will be seen as a risky play in some quarters, adding more fuel to the debt fire.

Read the full article over at BNN.

What roll for developers in affordability debate?

Often when it comes to real estate stories in the local media the people interviewed are developers, marketers or realtors. These are all professionals who deal with the market every day, so it makes sense for the media to seek their opinion on housing stories.

But should they be driving the ‘affordability’ debate?

Architect and professor Avi Friedman thinks not.

“Builders will not initiate innovative ideas because they are profit motivators, so the city needs to act as a catalyst,” he told CBC Radio One’s Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

Friedman also criticized the idea offered by many in the real estate industry, like marketer Bob Rennie, that Vancouver isn’t going to be affordable for everyone and that young people should consider moving to the suburbs.

“People who grew up and live in a city should be able to buy a home in their city. The fear is that, some of these young people may leave Vancouver,” Friedman said.

“Once you see the departure of young people from the city, they take along their potential … to start new businesses, to create a vibrancy that young people bring to a place.”

Friedman says it is incumbent upon the city and its leadership to foster and implement new ideas that will allow young people to stay and thrive in Vancouver.

Read the full article over at the CBC.

Canadians deep in debt and getting deeper

The Globe and Mail nicely sums up the current Canadian obsession with taking on household debt. This infographic has all the pretty charts related to the current situation in which current debt totals a record $1.8 trillion. Just over a trillion of that is Mortgage debt, with the other big growth seen in lines of credit and car loans.

One Trillion is a big number and it can be hard to visualize.  Here’s one way to put it into perspective:

If you spent $1-million every day, it would take you 2,740 years to spend $1-trillion.

Albertans carry the largest debt to income ratio followed by BC. It seems the nation loves debt, but the west loves it best.

Read the full article here.

Let the grandkids solve the TFSA problem.

If you’re someone who has your money somewhere other than Vancouver real estate you’re probably familiar with the TFSA.  And you probably know the limit has just been doubled to $10k a year.

Critics say this move only helps the wealthy and creates a future tax problem.

Joe Oliver says we should leave that problem for the PMs grand-daughter to solve.

On Tuesday’s The Exchange with Amanda Lang on CBC News Network, the finance minister told Lang that criticism of his recently unveiled budget is unfounded, arguing that the benefits for Canadians today more than offset any future revenue problems associated with it that may or may not ever come to pass.

The doubling of the TFSA limit to $10,000 per taxpayer every year was a core plank of Oliver’s balanced budget. But critics including the opposition parties and private sector economists have said the populist move will create a revenue problem for governments down the line, as more and more investments get protected from taxation.

So what do you think about the TFSA limit increase? A tool only for the wealthy or a bit of extra help for savers?

Who will be the first lender to drop mortgage rates?

After yesterdays Bank of Canada rate cut we’re seeing lots of articles about what this means for the housing market.

Reasonably enough economists are predicting a dip in mortgage rates after this cut, but so far the big banks don’t seem to be in a hurry.

However, TD Bank was quick to announce Wednesday it will maintain its prime interest rate at three per cent, noting that factors beyond the central bank influence its rates.

“Not only do we operate in a competitive environment, but our prime rate is influenced by the broader economic environment, and its impact on credit,” the bank said in a statement.

And the Royal Bank appeared in no hurry to drop rates either, saying in an email response to a query that “while we don’t have any product announcements to make at this time, we are considering the impact of today’s Bank of Canada decision.”

It was anticipated that the Bank of Canada would move to increase its overnight rate later this year due to an improving economy, until crude prices started to slide and dropped below US$50 a barrel.

Phil Soper, president of realtor Royal LePage, predicted Canadians could be shopping for cheaper mortgages within days.

“It doesn’t take long to react to a policy change like this,” Soper said. “That’s why it’s such a powerful tool.”

Read the full article over at Yahoo.

Is the Globe and Mail trolling you?

Many Franks pointed out what has to be the most bizarre ‘financial facelift’ feature yet over at the Globe and Mail.

You think you have money troubles? Look at these poor people!

[Eric] earns $200,000 a year working one day a week in a medical clinic. But his real love is teaching, which he does one day a week at a university; this earns him $100,000 a year.

WHAT?!

“It is financially possible for them to do the things that are important to them, although by doing so, they will run a cash flow deficit of $50,000 a year until the children leave home,” Mr. MacKenzie says. Over time, their annual deficits will add up to more than $1-million in additional debt.

WHAT?!

They are living rent free in a relative’s house (they pay taxes, utilities and upkeep) and “regret not having bought a house years ago,” Eric writes in an e-mail.

WHAT?!

Eric and Ilsa are fortunate because their parents are willing to put a home equity line of credit on their own home to extend them the $1-million they need to build, and to finance their annual deficit, the planner notes.

WHAT?!

 

House prices driving away key workers?

High housing prices in Vancouver are driving away the key working demographic of 25-40 year olds – more are moving to other provinces than moving in from other provinces.

This article was pointed out by crikey.

Despite the challenges, numerous companies interviewed by Reuters said most of their staff are willing to make sacrifices — like long commutes or raising kids in shoebox condos — for the benefit of Vancouver’s mild climate and outdoor lifestyle.

But those same companies, such as Vancouver-based retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op, also had examples of key hires who ultimately turned down jobs because of the high home prices.

It’s an issue Craig Hemer, an executive recruiter with Boyden, has been grappling with for the better part of a decade.

Hemer has learned ways to soften the blow — selling older executives on the idea of downsizing to a luxurious downtown condo and convincing those with families that suburban life offers more amenities for kids.

And how do the companies react to this challenge?

Companies too are shifting their policies, with some offering car allowances and transit subsidies. Others are opening small suburban offices or allow staff to telecommute from home.

But that isn’t always enough, especially in Vancouver’s start-up scene. Executives say it is easy enough to hire junior staff, but a dearth of experienced engineers and technology workers makes it hard to grow past a certain point.

“There’s just not enough high calibre people here. They all leave when they realize they can make more money in other cities and live there for cheaper,” said Simeon Garratt, chief executive of Spark CRM, a property-focused tech start-up.

“We debate at least once a month whether we should just move to Toronto.”

Read the full article here.