Category Archives: opinion

Falling interest rates drive gains

From the ‘duh’ files: falling interest rates contribute to rising home prices.

A recent study points to yet another powerful, if-often-ignored, driver of home prices — falling interest rates.

Despite the recent, small interest-rate increase by the Bank of Canada, real mortgage interest rates have fallen precipitously since 2000. In 2000, typical mortgages were obtained at an interest rate of seven per cent. Last year, they averaged 2.7 per cent — almost two-thirds lower.

What has this meant for the purchasing power of Canadians?

Interest-rate declines reduce the amount that income borrowers must spend on interest payments, which gives them greater capacity to borrow with the same amount of income. Consider that the average Canadian family income was $50,785 in 2000 (including couples and singles). With mortgage rates at seven per cent, the maximum mortgage amount this family could secure was $180,949. At 2016 rates (2.7 per cent), the same family could borrow $276,610, an increase of 53 per cent.

Read the full article here.

That foreign buyer tax

Well it’s been a year since the BC government brought in a ‘foreign buyer tax‘ in the Vancouver metro area.  How’s that affected the market?

“The public perception is that it hasn’t brought down prices and has had no effect,” said Simon Fraser University professor Josh Gordon, a political scientist in the university’s school of public policy. “But the slowdown in price increases is a positive.”

Even before the tax was implemented, Mr. Gordon said it was unlikely to have a huge impact since it was not targeting all foreign money, much of which comes in with new immigrants who are not affected by the tax.

He and others have always said that the province – or country – would need to add many more measures: more investigation into the sources of money coming into the country; more rigorous pursuit of people avoiding capital-gains tax on their real-estate transactions; a more comprehensive tax that targets people not paying income-tax in Canada.

Mr. Gordon believes that, if the lack of dramatic impact from the tax proves anything, it’s that people in Vancouver have a profound belief that the market will continue to rise.

Read the full article over at the Globe and Mail.

CMHC keeps crying ‘Wolf’

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation keeps on giving the national real estate market it’s worst possible rating. You can probably guess which cities get singled out as the most at risk:

CMHC’s valuation is part of its quarterly Housing Market Assessment, something the Crown corporation calls an early warning system, alerting Canadians to areas of concern developing in housing markets so that they may take action in a way that promotes market stability.

In terms of the 15 individual markets studied, CMHC said it saw strong evidence of overall problematic conditions in Victoria, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Hamilton and Toronto – the same five markets singled out a quarter ago.

CMHC defines problematic conditions as imbalances in the housing market that occur when overbuilding, overvaluation, overheating and price acceleration, or combinations of those issues exceed historical norms.

Read the full article here.

Rate hikes threaten the middle-class dream

In Canada ‘middle class’ currently seems to mean ‘deep in debt’ and rate hikes are a looming threat on the middle class :

For one view of Canada’s rate hike, consider the case of David and Neera. He can’t get a raise, is worried about retirement and they borrowed money a couple years ago to fix the roof. Interest costs will jump now, with vacations and kids’ clothes already out of reach.

Justin Trudeau’s entire economic agenda is aimed at David and Neera — we know, because he invented them. Their story anchored the Liberal government’s debut budget, tying together the impact of all the prime minister’s measures. Now they’re a cautionary tale.

“Canadian families are also taking on more debt to make ends meet,” the 2016 budget said. “For David and Neera, this debt is a constant source of worry.”

Read the full article over that the Financial Post.

Good time to be sitting on a $800k down payment

With interest rates going up there’s good news and bad news for housing. It can make it tough for people who are stretched thin financially, but might be good news for people waiting to buy:

The people who will benefit are those who have a nest egg and have been waiting for the right time to buy a home, he said.

“The real winner here is somebody sitting on a $800,000 down payment who says I’m going to wait for prices to fall.”

Overall, interest rates will continue to rise, added Brander. He predicts mortgage-lending rates could increase by several percentage points in the coming years. But as long as those increases are incremental, like Wednesday’s announcement, the economy will be able to absorb it, he said.

Seems like it’s always a good time to be sitting on an $800k down payment, but maybe we’re just optimists. Read the full article here.