Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

More Canadians making early withdrawal from RRSPs

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

At this time of year most people are thinking about topping up their RSP to get a bit of a tax break, but unfortunately some Canadians are making plans to cash out their RSP before retirement to pay for living expenses.

As politicians wring their hands over Canadians’ lack of retirement savings, figures obtained by Global News from years of tax filings indicate a significant jump in the number of Canadians making early withdrawals from their RRSPs – not for housing or education, but simply to make ends meet.

The biggest increase was from 2007 to 2009, when 1.86 million Canadians took out RRSP cash early. That figure dipped slightly by 2012, to 1.82 across Canada, but remains about 7 per cent above 2007 levels nationally, 12 per cent above 2007 levels in Quebec and almost 10 per cent above in comparatively wealthy Alberta.

Read the full article over at Global News.

Where Canadian house prices are up or down

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

The latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association is now showing about half of the countries markets with rising and half with dropping prices.

Toronto and Vancouver are doing well so far with a year over year increase of 4.9% and 1.8% .

The big winner? That would be St. Catharines with a YOY increase of 16.1%.

The overall average house price grew 3.1 per cent in the year to January, to $401,143. That’s the smallest increase since April, 2013, but it’s largely a story of two still-hot housing markets: Toronto and Vancouver. Strip out those two cities and average house prices are down 0.3 per cent over the past year.

Home sales, meanwhile, are 2 per cent lower than they were a year ago, CREA numbers showed.

Major energy industry centres like Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina saw some of the sharpest declines in housing demand, TD economist Diana Petramala noted.

There is “a widening regional wedge” in Canada’s housing markets, Petramala wrote in a client note, as oil-importing cities’ housing markets benefit from lower oil prices while producer cities struggle.

Read the full article here.

Tiny lenders chop rates to grab mortgage customers

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Rates have dropped and that means better deals on mortgages. The big banks have dropped discount rates to an average of 2.79% on a 5 year mortgage.

Meanwhile the smaller lenders are hungry for more business so they’re cutting profits to compete on lower rates.

Mortgage Brokers are also taking cuts on commission to compete in the race to the lowest rate:

The rate war is even more intense among mortgage brokers, many of whom are shifting away from the traditional full-service model that saw brokers spending hours working with clients to select the best mortgage and earning hefty commissions. These days, more borrowers are turning to online and “self-service” brokerages that compete on volume, offering less personalized service and sacrificing some of the commissions they earn from lenders in order to discount rates even further.

Not everyone is a fan of the model. Some are worried that with interest rates already so low, brokers are having to dig deep into their commissions to offer meaningful discounts, a model that some brokers argue could threaten the industry as a whole.

“The majority of people don’t like what we’re doing and it’s a troublesome thing for us to digest because ultimately it’s the best for the consumer,” said Jeff Mark, co-founder of Spin Mortgage, an 18-month-old online brokerage that is advertising a five-year fixed rate at 2.49 per cent, well below the typical bank rate, by sacrificing some of its commissions. “We make less money per deal. I don’t know how that isn’t a good thing for the market.”

Read the full article here.

Vancouver, New York, London & Paris

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Reader tedeastside either hates Vancouver or he wants other people to.

Regular visitors here know teds comments have a certain reliable tone to them, but yesterday’s got creative and inspired people to riff on it:

to those proud vancouverites who mention vancouver in the same breath as New York or London probably thinks the following

Shangri-la = Empire State building
Robson Square = Rockefeller center
Nat Bailey = Yankee Stadium
Steam Clock = Big Ben
Olympic Cauldron = Eiffel Tower
VAG = the Louvre
Robson street = Champs-Élysées
Gassy Jack = Statue of Liberty
North Van Sulfer piles = the Pyramids

This of course got some pointing out that Vancouver can have overpriced real estate and still be a decent city, but where’s the fun in that?

(more…)

Household debt is growing faster in Greece than in Canada

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Most everyone knows that Canadians hold a lot of household debt now.  Debt levels have been growing for years, but it still seems surprising that Canada is second only to Greece in household debt growth.  This according to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute who adds our country to a list of seven others at risk from high debt levels.

The report found household debt in Canada had risen to 155 per cent of income in 2014, up from 133 per cent seven years earlier. That’s a slightly lower estimate than the Bank of Canada’s, which estimates household debt at 162.6 per cent of income, a record high.

Only Greece saw a larger increase in household debt since the Great Recession, rising 30 percentage points. The U.S., by comparison, has seen household debt levels decline by 26 percentage points, relative to income, in that time. U.S. household debt levels have been largely falling since the country’s housing bubble burst during the last recession.

Read the full article here.

You’ll be relieved to know that even though our debt growth has been 2nd fastest, we still don’t have the highest debt levels. That prize goes to Denmark and Norway.

Luxury hotel to become a dorm

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Looks like those basement mortgage helpers might have some competition soon if this plan goes through:

Downtown Vancouver Luxury Hotel to become International Student Housing

The 17-storey building will undergo a $37 million renovation and have 220 beds for international students come September, according to Global News; the company is eventually hoping to expand into Vancouver and Richmond and have beds for 5,000 post-secondary and high school students in nine different buildings.

The Viva Suites will be available from $900 to $2,500, depending on the amenities, location, and building, The Province reports. Some of the amenities available are a weight room, housekeeping, secured underground parking, and Internet. The suites will be available for daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly rental, with no long-term commitments required, states a company press release.

Read the full article here.

Are you ready for higher interest rates?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

That seems like a really weird question as rates continue to drop.

But over at the Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe says ‘Prepare now for interest rate shock‘.

On top of the Bank of Canada recent surprise .25% rate cut there are a number of people predicting another cut coming this year, so why worry about interest rates at all?

The size of the average mortgage on a dwelling in Greater Vancouver is $400,000, reports Jeff Johnson, mortgage broker at Cloverdale-based Dominion Lending Centres Canadian Mortgage Experts, with offices in B.C. and Alberta.

That jumbo figure is based on the average 2014 value of a Vancouver property, $801,000, and a Canadian Association of Mortgage Professionals survey last year showing the average equity position assumed by borrowers is 50 per cent.

Johnson notes that if interest rates rise in 2015 by even just half a percentage point, monthly payments on a typical variable rate $400,000 mortgage could increase by $100 to $1,872.

“And this is the best case scenario, as rates could continue to slowly increase (thereafter).”

Elyea points out such increases would be coming on top of 2015 hikes imposed on B.C. residents for MSP premiums, car insurance and BC Hydro.

And it is worth remembering British Columbians have more modest employment earnings than elsewhere in Canada. The B.C. average weekly wage last year was about $890, compared to $940 across Canada.

Ok, sure. But we know all that already. How long have we been hearing the warnings about ‘being ready’ for rate increases while they just stay down at record lows or continue to drop?

It’s like that old story ‘The Boy who cried Wolf’.  Eventually the villagers get sick of hearing all the false warnings, learn to ignore them and live happily ever after.

Who will be the first lender to drop mortgage rates?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

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.

BOC chops rate in race for bottom

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

If you’ll recall you’ve been warned many times by a number of government talking heads that rates could go up at any time.

Today the Bank of Canada finally took action and cut rates by a quarter from 1% to 0.75%.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Poloz said the oil price drop is “unambiguously bad” for the Canadian economy, prompting the bank to take out what he called an “insurance policy” against future risks, such as weak inflation and a household debt squeeze. But he denied the move was calculated to send the Canadian dollar lower.

“Market consequences will be what they are,” he said.

The rate cut sent the loonie plummeting below 81 cents (U.S.).

Mr. Poloz, who acknowledged that oil dominated the bank’s discussions leading up to Wednesday’s rate decision, said he’s ready to cut rates again if prices fall further.

“The world changes fast and if it changes again, we have room to take out more insurance,” he said.

The rate move, which few analysts anticipated, is an attempt by Mr. Poloz to shield highly indebted Canadian households from an oil-induced hit to their jobs and incomes – signs of which are already evident in Alberta.

In the comments section here, Dave asked the question: How much of the BC economy is tied to Oil and Alberta?

I would like to know how much of a hit the damage to Alberta will be to BC. It seems to me that everybody underestimates the economic impact. I think our statistics don’t capture the role of Alberta in our economy. I think I read that Westjet estimated 5,000 people in the Okanagan work in the oil patch. And that’s just them trying to estimate things for their benefit (i.e. people who buy plane tickets). How many work from home on their computers? Or only make a few trips per year and don’t get picked up the radar? How many work in the Okanagan but for companies that service the oil patch? Add it all up and there is a LOT of employment related to Alberta.

 

Is the Globe and Mail trolling you?

Monday, January 19th, 2015

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?!

 

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