Over at the CBC there’s an article about the ‘uncertain fate’ of Vancouver real estate.
Vancouver’s real estate market has taken another interesting turn, with listings up and sales down during what is usually a busy time of year.
In May, average prices for houses have dropped about $150,000 compared to one year ago. That 12-per-cent drop wiped out two years of price increases.
The reason appears to be that too many more sellers are trying to cash in at the same time. Listings are up by 23 per cent, but fewer are buying: sales are down 24 per cent.
“Probably, on average, about a 150 or 160 homes in Vancouver are reducing their price every day in the hope of catching, getting ahead of the train and maybe get out before they can’t,” said realtor Larry Yatkowsy.
Larry is an interesting fellow, he seems to change opinions frequently, but isn’t it in most realtors interest to get sellers to lower listing prices to make a sale?
Canadian Mortgage Trends is saying that changes to HELOC loan to value (LTV) limits are a done deal.
If so this means the maximum HELOC you’ll be able will move from 80% to 65% of the total value of the property.
Read the original link for full details. Many commenters there seem to think this is too big a move.
65% is too much of a leap all at once.
I can’t understand why OSFI doesn’t ratchet the LTV ratio down a little more slowly (i.e., 5% at at a time and sit back to observe the consequences).
As has been noted lately, the previous three sets of mortgage tightening guidelines have been gradually working their way through the credit markets effectively.
You can kill an ant with a hand grenade, but it usually makes a hell of a mess.
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.