It PAYS to shop around.
Many Canadian homeowners pay too much for their homes because they are not getting the best mortgage financing available in the market.
The mortgage process can be intimidating for homeowners, and some financial institutions don't make the process any easier.
Down Payment Rule Changes Announced
Today Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced changes to down payment requirements. Effective
February 15, 2016, the minimum down payment for new insured mortgages will increase from five per
cent to 10 per cent for the portion of the house price above $500,000. The five per cent minimum down
payment for properties up to $500,000 remains unchanged.
For example: A $750,000 home will now require $50,000 down -- 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% down
for the remaining $250,000.
Properties up to $500,000 will continue to require a minumum of 5% down. Properties in excess of $1
million will still require 20% down.
The changes are meant to reduce taxpayer exposure while supporting long-term stability of the housing
market, according to the ministry.
This measure will increase homeowner equity, which plays a key role in maintaining a stable and secure
housing market and economy over the long term, Morneau said. It also protects all homeowners,
including many middle class Canadians whose greatest investment is in their homes. - Bill Morneau,
Minister of Finance
Canadian housing starts trend upwards in February
Housing starts are now on pace to hit 204,669units in Canada, whereas January saw them hitting 200,255units, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.
- Condominium starts in the Montral area increased considerably in February. The hike was mainly due to construction starting on some large real estate projects in the downtown Montral-Griffintown sector. Activity on the new condominium market therefore remains strong in this zone, as these new units add to the nearly 3,000units currently under construction.
- Sherbrooke has seen a rebound in single-detached housing starts in recent months. Lower supply on the resale market and a favourable job market have stimulated demand for new homes. In 2016, employment in Sherbrooke continued to grow, and the year ended with net gains in full-time jobs among people aged 25-44. These factors should support housing demand in 2017.
- In Toronto, low supply in the resale market resulted in demand spilling over into the new home market, particularly for low rise homes. Single-detached home starts were at their highest level for February in more than ten years. The total housing starts trend remained steady in February despite a drop in apartment starts.
- St.Catharines saw February 2017housing starts reach the highest level for any February since 1991. A third of starts were townhouses and two-thirds were new singles across the region. This comes on the heels of a strong year for St. Catharines starts, where demand has been driven in large part by the relative affordability of housing compared to neighbouring markets.
- February saw total housing starts more than double in Winnipeg compared to the same period last year. New construction of multi-family units continued to drive total starts higher, with both purpose built rental and condominium units increasing year-over-year. Single-detached starts were also up by roughly 30% reflecting low inventories of completed and unsold new homes in 2016.
- Multi-family home construction more than doubled in Edmonton last month from the same period last year. This was unexpected given the near record levels of complete and unsold apartments on the market. The Edmonton apartment inventory has been high since the start of 2016.
- Housing starts in the Victoria CMA trended upwards in February. In particular, there was a surge in single-detached home starts in the West Shore municipalities. New construction has been supported by low inventories of homes for sale and strong migration to the region.
The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 210,207units in February, up from 208,934units in January. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 0.9per cent in February to 193,035units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 4.7per cent to 121,164units in February, while single-detached urban starts increased by 12.1per cent, to 71,871units. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,172units.
CREA Updates and Extends Resale Housing Market Forecast
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service(MLS) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations in 2017 and 2018.
Canadian housing market trends continue to display considerable regional divergence. In British Columbia, activity in the Lower Mainland has cooled markedly from all-time highs recorded early last year; however, sales and price pressures elsewhere in the province remain historically strong.
In the resource-intensive provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, sales activity is still running at lower levels and supply is elevated. This has resulted in weakened price trends for these provinces.
In housing markets around the Greater Toronto Area and including the furthest reaches of Ontarios Greater Golden Horseshoe (the region includes the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, the Niagara Region, Barrie and nearby cottage country), the balance between supply and demand has become increasingly tight. This is expected to lead to continued double-digit price growth, resulting in further erosion in affordability and sales activity in the absence of a significant and sustained rise in new supply.
Recently tightened mortgage rules, higher mortgage default insurance premiums and an expected rise in mortgage interest rates all represent headwinds to affordability in all Canadian housing markets. It will be some time before their full impact on housing markets is evident.
In some regions, the recently tightened stress test for mortgage financing qualification will force some first-time buyers to re-think how much home they can afford and may lead to a drop in home purchases as they shop for a lower priced home. In regions where there is a shortage of lower-priced inventory, some sales may be delayed as buyers save longer for a larger down payment.
In markets like Vancouver and Toronto, where single family homes are in short supply and there are few affordable options, some buyers may find themselves priced out of the market entirely. In Toronto, the stress test for mortgage qualification may prompt some buyers to move further out into communities located in the Greater Golden Horseshoe where homes are more affordably priced.
Nationally, sales activity is forecast to decline by 3% to 518,700 units in 2017.
British Columbia is forecast to see the largest decline in sales in 2017 (-17.5%), followed by Prince Edward Island(‑10.8%). Activity in both provinces is retreating from all-time highs reached last year. Newfoundland Labrador is also forecast to see a decline in sales in 2017 (-8.4%), continuing a softening trend that stretches back nearly a decade.
Alberta is forecast to have the largest increase in activity in 2017 (+5%) that still leaves it nearly 10% below the 10-year average.
Elsewhere, sales activity is forecast to be little changed from 2016 to 2017. Ontario sales are forecast to rise by less than 1% in 2017, as strong demand runs up against an increasingly acute supply shortage.
While prices are still rising rapidly in Ontario, British Columbia has seen a compositional shift in the average price that reflects softer sales activity in the Lower Mainland which has some of the most expensive real estate in Canada.
Average prices in other provinces are either rising modestly or holding steady, reflecting well balanced supply and demand.
The national average price is forecast to rise by 4.8% to $513,500 in 2017, with significant regional variations. The average price is expected to retreat by more than 5% in British Columbia as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, by 2.8% in Saskatchewan while rising by more than 15% in Ontario.
In other provinces where average price last year began showing tentative signs of improving, average price gains are forecast to hold below the rate of inflation in 2017 as the impact of recent regulatory changes and higher expected mortgage rates lean against stronger demand and tighter market conditions.
The national average price is forecast to rise by 5% to $539,400 in 2018, reflecting ongoing market tightness in Ontario and a further return to more normal levels in British Columbia. Price gains outside of the Greater Golden Horseshoe are not expected to approach the increase in the national average price.