26 Mar

INTEREST RATE CUT MORE LIKELY THAN HIKE IN 2019

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When the Bank of Canada decided this month to keep its benchmark interest rates stable at 1.75%, it signalled the weakening economy makes it unlikely a rate increase is anywhere on the horizon.

Inflation is not where it should be, we’re not in a deflation mode right now, but inflation is under control and there’s no real need for them to raise interest rates.

Because many of the economic indicators are pointing downward, this puts the bank in a position where it can’t raise rates. This makes refinancing a more attractive option for some homeowners this year.

A lot of economists are saying that Canada is heading back into another crisis, which is an indicator that rates may drop again. This new norm will probably stay around for a little while, but rates will eventually go up. And when it goes up, people have to be obviously prepared for it.

So, for now, homeowners shouldn’t worry too much about a sudden jump in rates. While this may be a new normal, if the economy begins a turnaround, they should be ready or a bump in rates, but I don’t think it’s going to happen the next couple of years.

Usually, Canada’s economy runs almost parallel to that of our southern neighbour’s. However, the two economies seem to have gone their separate ways lately.

There’s a divergence right now that is going to occur between the Canadian and U.S. economies. When people talk about the U.S. sneezing and Canada catches a cold—this is not what’s happening right now. There’s a divergence in the interest rates. Where in the States rates are going up, in Canada, rates cannot go up because of the way our economy is actually going.

Thank you to Terry Kilakos of our North East Mortgages office, in Ville Ste-Laurent, QC.

 

22 Mar

FEDERAL BUDGET 2019 – A Closer Look

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Kevin Carlson of Dominion Lending Centres Regina, has taken the time to break down the math regarding the new changes set out in the last budget and has explained a little further, the potential savings.
Bear in mind that the incentive funds of up to 10% on a new home and 5% on an existing home are merely an interest free loan that must be repaid upon sale of the property. This is for first time home buyers and household income cannot exceed $120,000 per year.
I will use the example that was in the budget release that illustrates the very maximum benefit available.

Details of the example

-New home purchase price: $400,000
-Household income: $120,000
-Down payment from the buyer: $20,000
-CMHC Incentive Loan: $40,000
-Assuming level fixed rate of 3.5% with an amortization of 25 years.

*Mortgage default insurance (CMHC) is required for a home purchase with less than 20% down payment. The insurance premium percentage decreases for each additional 5% down payment. The buyer with the standard 5% down mortgage pays a much higher premium.
When underwriting the original mortgages, the buyer that is using the CMHC incentive loan is allowed to have more ongoing debt payments outside of the mortgage. The incentive buyer can have monthly debt payments up to $1,650 per month, when the standard 5% down buyer can only have up to $1,100.00 per month.
I will take it a step further with the longer-term effects after the sale of each home. I will use a market value increase of 15% over 5 years bringing the sale price to $460,000.00.

It is very clear from the above financial illustration that the benefits of the CMHC incentive loan are realized in the up-front savings on the insurance premium and the reduced interest costs during the mortgage term. If this program comes into effect, I will be advising buyers to set the mortgage payments as close to the 5% down level as possible to further leverage the benefit and put more in their pocket after the sale. If you have any questions, contact a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage.

Thank you to Kevin Carlson, Dominion Lending Centres – Regina, for this insight into the new budget incentives.

6 Mar

VARIABLE RATE? TO LOCK IN OR NOT?

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This post applies if you are taking a new mortgage, whether it’s for a purchase, refinance, or renewal. The variable remains the main contender.

But what about all the economists saying if you are currently in a variable rate mortgage then you should rush to ‘lock in’?

You mean the economists that are employed by profit driven shareholder owned institutions that directly benefit from your locking-in (banks) via instantly increased profit margins and massively higher (up to 900% higher) prepayment penalties that 2/3 mortgage holders will trigger?

A bit biased, that crowd.
Also they are generalists, they’re not specialists.

But what about independent real estate experts?

While these experts may have their finger on the pulse of many facets of the real estate market, many remain totally unaware of how exactly mortgage prepayment penalties are calculated, and just how likely you are to trigger them.

Also generalists, are unaware of many nuances of mortgage products.

So what’s my game?

I’ve never really had game, so to speak. And I don’t stand to profit from your locking in, or from your staying variable. In fact as I type this on a stunning day I’m wondering just what I’m doing in my office at all.

I’m just a Mortgage Broker offering an opinion. An opinion that reflects my personal policy, an opinion shaped through 25 years of experience with my own mortgages, an opinion based on 11 years of experience with 1,673 client’s mortgages.

I’ve seen a few things, mortgage specific things.

I’ve watched 2/3 of my clients break their mortgages and trigger penalties. Almost every single one of them a small and relatively painless penalty thanks to staying variable.

But what about these rising rates?

If you are currently in a Prime -.65% to Prime -1.00% variable then to lock-in would be to inflict an immediate rate hike on yourself that might take the government another 12-18 months to pull off… if they pull it off.

Stay variable.

If you are in a Prime -.35 or shallower mortgage, we should discuss restructuring that into a Prime -1.00% mortgage and reducing your rate by .65% or more.

Staying variable.

My crystal ball says yes, perhaps another two or three 0.25% hikes through 2019, but at that point the odds favour (heavily) an economic contraction that will in turn trigger a corresponding reduction in interest rates.

It is my theory, and that of others smarter than I, that the fed is pushing rates up aggressively to beat said economic contraction, because they want to have the tool of ‘reducing interest rates’ back in their toolbox when the rainy days come. And we are overdue for stormy economic times. And when those times arrive it will not be prudent to be locked-in.

In short, life is variable – your mortgage should be as well. If you have any questions, contact your local Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today.

Great advise from:

DUSTAN WOODHOUSE

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Dustan is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts based in Coquitlam, BC

4 Mar

CANADIAN ECONOMY HITS A MAJOR POTHOLE IN Q4

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This morning, Stats Canada released disappointing figures showing that the economy barely grew in the final quarter of last year. Weakness in the oil sector was expected, but the downturn went well beyond the energy sector and bodes ill for a return to healthy growth this year.

The country’s economy grew by just 0.1% in the fourth quarter, for an annualized growth rate of 0.4%–the weakest performance since the second quarter of 2016, down from an annualized 2% pace in the third quarter and well below economist’s expectation of a 1% annualized gain.

For the year as a whole, real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a 1.8% pace in 2018, down substantially from the 3% growth recorded in 2017. In comparison, the U.S. economy grew 2.9% last year with Q4 growth at 2.6%.

Canada’s economy was battered by lower export prices for crude oil and crude bitumen walloping Alberta. Housing activity in the province slowed from already weak levels as unsold inventories rose and prices edged downward. As well, business investment dropped sharply in the final three months of the year, and household spending slowed for the second consecutive quarter.

Consumer spending on durable goods, especially motor vehicles, hit the skids as overall household outlays for products and services weakened. Consumption spending grew at the slowest pace in almost four years.

Housing fell by the most in a decade, business investment dropped sharply for a second straight quarter, and domestic demand posted its most significant decline since 2015. Housing investment plummeted, falling at a 3.9% quarterly rate as the housing market continued to soften, with the most substantial decrease in new construction (-5.5% quarterly), followed by renovations (-2.7%) and ownership transfer costs (-2.6%). (*see note below)

Business investment in plant and equipment fell 2.9%, the sharpest drop since the fourth quarter of 2016.

The only thing that kept the nation’s economy from contracting was a build-up in inventories as companies stockpiled goods. Without a doubt, much of the inventory accumulation was unintended, as the slowdown in demand caught businesses by surprise.

Implications for the Bank of Canada

Canada’s economy has been plagued by trade uncertainties, reduced oil demand by the U.S., rising interest rates, and tighter mortgage credit conditions. Consumer and business confidence has declined, and inflation remains muted. Despite a relatively robust labour market, wage growth has slowed. The Bank of Canada is widely expected to stay on the sidelines next week when the Governing Council meets once again on Wednesday. The central bank’s latest forecast, from January, was for annualized growth of 1.3% in the fourth quarter, more than three times stronger than today’s reported pace of 0.4%. The Bank expects growth to decelerate further to 0.8% in the current quarter, before rebounding back to above 2% growth by next year.

The latest data puts the economy’s ability to rebound to more normal levels in question. Monthly data released today show the economy ended the year contracting, with December gross domestic product down 0.1%. Most economists now expect the Bank of Canada will refrain from raising interest rates for the remainder of this year.

*Note:

*Housing investment in the GDP accounts is technically called “Gross fixed capital formation in residential structures”. It includes three major elements:
• new residential construction;
• renovations; and
• ownership transfer costs.
New residential construction is the most significant component. Renovations to existing residential structures are the second largest element of housing investment. Ownership transfer costs include all costs associated with the transfer of a residential asset from one owner to another. These costs are as follows:
• real estate commissions;
• land transfer taxes;
• legal costs (fees paid to notaries, surveyors, experts, etc.); and
• file review costs (inspection and surveying).

Royal Bank Cautions Against Budget Measures to Increase Millennial Homeownership Demand

A new report hit my inbox yesterday written by Robert Hogue, a senior economist at the Royal Bank urging the federal government to withhold the expected support for millennial home purchases in the March 19th budget. Mr. Hogue writes that “Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is reportedly poised to unveil new budget measures to help more Canadian millennials become homeowners. While that generation does face housing-related challenges, especially in some larger and more expensive Canadian cities, we urge him to tread carefully. On the surface, ideas like relaxing the mortgage stress test, extending the maximum amortization period for insured mortgages, or increasing the amount of RRSP take-out for a first home down payment might bring short-term relief to buyers. But they do nothing to address what we believe is the root of Canada’s housing woes: gaps in the mix of housing options in some of Canada’s larger markets. Meanwhile, the measures won’t address the issue of high household debt, and may actually inflate home prices.”

The bank economist takes “issue with the notion that Canada has a home ownership problem in the first place. On average, more than 40% of Canadian households under 35 years of age own their own homes. And the proportion of all Canadian households who own a home is one of the highest among advanced economies. Even Toronto and Vancouver—the least affordable markets in the country—rank near the top of global cities on home ownership and have home ownership rates that are about double cities like Paris and Berlin. And despite a notable decline in the past decade, the ownership rate among younger households (Canada’s millennials) remains not only high historically in Canada but also compared to other countries, including the U.S.”

I urge you to read the report. The data provided in the charts are compelling. The real problem is the dearth of supply of “starter” homes in Canada’s most expensive cities. The measures likely to be introduced in the budget will not address the housing supply gaps and could well further inflate prices. “What millennials in Vancouver and Toronto really need is more inventory of homes they can afford, and a better mix of housing options—be it to own or rent…. At the very least, the collective goal should be to remove barriers (regulatory, administrative or otherwise) inhibiting home developers and builders to respond quickly to the demand for new housing—especially when that demand is rising rapidly.”

DR. SHERRY COOPER

Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
Sherry is an award-winning authority on finance and economics with over 30 years of bringing economic insights and clarity to Canadians.