Canadian mortgage brokers are freaking out about new refinancing rules proposed by the OSFI which has taken over responsibility for the CMHC. Reasonably enough, they’re asking for clarification about proposals to require banks to check income and current house value before refinancing.
Currently, when mortgages come up for renewal, banks tend to focus on the borrower’s payment history. They rarely appraise the property again and not all banks will check the borrower’s updated income level, Mr. Murphy said.
“CAAMP strongly recommends that this concept be clarified so that mortgages continue to be renewed at maturity without requalification,” the industry association said in a submission to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).
“If not, homeowners who have been in compliance may no longer qualify. This would result in a number of properties hitting the market at the same time and thereby driving down prices.”
Such a phenomenon could add further fuel to a real estate downturn if lower house prices and higher unemployment caused more people to lose their homes upon renewal, Mr. Murphy suggested.
Read the full article in the Globe and Mail.
..At least that’s what Mark Carney and other Bank of Canada officials have said according to this article, yet they’re refraining from being more specific.
Meanwhile the Organization for Economic and Co-operative Development (OECD) is urging Canada to start raising interest rates in the fall and keep on raising them to stop an inflating housing bubble and reign in inflation.
The OECD, a high-powered economic research group backed by contributions from its 34 rich country members, offers a scenario: An increase in the benchmark rate of a quarter of a percentage point in the autumn, and similar increases each quarter through to the end of next year, leaving the benchmark overnight target at 2.25 per cent.
That still would be low by historical standards, yet, according to the OECD, likely a big enough increase to cause prospective homeowners to think twice before buying at current inflated prices. However, the OECD’s recommendation comes with a risk.
The Federal Reserve Board has made a conditional pledge to leave U.S. rates extremely low until the end of 2014. Following the OECD’s path could create an unprecedented spread between Canadian and U.S. interest rates, which would put upward pressure on a Canadian dollar that many say already is too strong.
Oh, and the OECD made this same recommendation a year ago and was ignored. So I wonder how Carney intends to bring the days of ultra-cheap money to an end?
A new report issued by US ratings agency Fitch says that fast-rising home prices and record levels of household debt pose a threat to the credit portfolios of Canadian banks.
The agency examined the exposure of Canada’s six largest banks to mortgage risk and found that household debt fuelled by mortgage credit expansion in Canada is the largest threat to credit profiles.
“These are quite high levels of debt for households and the movement in house prices, we don’t think this is sustainable in the long term,” said report author Fabrice Toka, senior director at Fitch.
The six banks have a combined $730-billion in mortgage exposure and an additional $182-billion in home equity loan exposure, the report noted.
High unemployment or interest rate shock “could aversely affect the ability of leveraged homeowners to meet their mortgage obligations,” the report said.
The risk testing scenario looked at drops of 1 to 10% and sees CIBC and RBC as the most exposed to mortgage value risks. The debt-to-income ratio in Canada is currently higher than it was in pre-recession US, but Fitch points out that there are structural differences in our housing market.
Here’s the full article in the Financial Post.
Well, there’s a change in the air when it comes to Vancouver Real Estate. The ‘can’t lose’ investment is starting to look like the ‘must lose’ investment with reports of buyers walking away from deposits and waiting for prices to keep dropping.
“It happened twice in the last month. One [deposit] was $75,000 and one was a $20,000 deposit, the guys just walked away from it,” said Mr. Arora, who runs Oneflatfee.ca in Surrey, B.C. “They are going to wait it out. So they lost $75,000 and $20,000, but if the market comes down $150,000 on a $1.5-million house, that’s not uncommon.”
Vancouver’s once-overheated housing market has cooled sharply, with the average price falling nearly 10 per cent in April from a year ago to $735,315, according to figures released Tuesday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. That was the largest drop since the recession and it marked the fourth decline in the past five months.
In a market once famous for being overheated, Mr. Arora said he hasn’t seen a bidding war in months. “It’s totally a buyers’ market. Buyers are determining the price,” he said. “And sellers are surprisingly accepting it. They are taking it.”
Buyers always determine the price. If there are enough of them that want to pay more they will drive prices up. Sellers have no control if no buyer is willing or able to pay the asking price.
Looky here, the Province newspaper has discovered the price to rent ratio!
Take the house price and divide it by what it costs to rent for a year to get the price-to-rent ratio: Price divided by (Monthly rent x 12) = X.
(Estimates for additional costs of homeownership, such as taxes, maintenance and insurance are factored into the equation.)
If the number is higher than 15, it’s generally not a good time to buy.
If the ratio is less than 15, buying is a better deal than renting, if you plan on living there for at least five years to offset moving and closing costs.
By the time the number hits 20, renting is apparently the way to go, except if buyers expect to stay put for at least 15 years, according to a formula used by trulia.com to rank major urban U.S. centres every year.
B.C.’s numbers, as shown in the graphic, are through the roof, from 29 (Prince George) to 73 (West Vancouver).
Compare that to a few little housing markets like Manhattan (20) and San Francisco (17). That ratio doesn’t mean house prices are <i>low</i> it just means that they’re more reasonably priced compared to rents.
Since you can’t take on a big loan to pay rent it tends to show how much a place is actully worth in terms of desirability and local economics.