Peter Simpson is the former president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association and he’s got a column in the Vancouver Sun that strings together some numbers and anecdotes and then blames the federal government for hurting affordability.
Since this column is about first-time homebuyers, I must comment on federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s changes to the rules governing federally insured residential mortgages, including a reduction in the maximum amortization period from 30 to 25 years.
It is not clear that a tightening of mortgage rules helped Canadians to manage their debt. What is clear is that the shorter amortization period has reduced housing demand by eroding affordability.
Now of course this ‘reduction’ in the maximum amortization period is actually just a reset to a historical norm, not to mention that it only applies to government insured loans.
Mr. Simpson refers to an older generation with homes that are paid off, but I can guarantee you that those homes were not bought on a 30 year amortization, so did longer morts help or hurt affordability? Is it possible that pushing more money into the housing market simply helped to drive up prices and worsen affordability?
It may be that Mr. Simpson is not primarily concerned with the well being of the first time buyer, but is instead concerned with a reduction of customers for his industry.
His conclusion is especially telling:
Finally, Vancouver-area pundits predict there is a sales shift to moderately priced homes, and a buyers’ market will continue until mid-2013. There is no assurance interest rates will remain low through 2013. The bottom line is it seems to be a good time to consider buying a new home.
Read the full thing over at the Vancouver Sun.
..well that headline is a little misleading, you’ll still be able to get a 30 year mortgage but you better have a big down payment. No more 30 year mortgages for CMHC insured mortgages.
The country’s biggest banks were caught off guard on Wednesday night as the Department of Finance prepared to clamp down on mortgages by reducing the maximum amortization for a government-insured mortgage to 25 years from 30.
Ottawa will also limit the amount of equity that can be borrowed against a home to 80 per cent of the property’s value, down from 85 per cent.
The moves are designed to cool the housing market and limit the record levels of personal debt Canadians have amassed in recent years. Figures from Statistics Canada show the average ratio of debt-to-disposable income climbed to 152 per cent, up from 150.6 per cent at the end of 2011. A rise in interest rates or further job losses could put some households at financial risk, endangering any economic recovery.
So we’ve come circle with mortgages going from 25 year, cranked all the way up to US bubble style zero-down 40 year mortgages and then ramped back down over the last few years to a maximum 25 year amort. It will be very interesting to see what this does to some of Canadas overpriced markets.
It’s the end of another work week and that means it’s a good friday to have an open topic discussion thread for the weekend!
Here are a few recent links to kick off the chat:
–VREB president unaware of own stats?
–Updated inventory graph
–Growing majority plan no home buying
–Blaming Chinese for high prices racist
–Line of credit rules to be tightened
–Bank executives don’t follow policy?
–Rules cool condo market
–Real estate sales continue to cool
–Hottest boomtown, Regina?
–US Banks neglect seized homes
So what are you seeing out there? Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!
PS: you’ll find a new link above the comment section that will enable you to view all comments in chronological order.