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Adrian Williams Toronto Mortgage Agent

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OSFI tightens mortgage rules Edit

10/19/2017

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) published the final version of Guideline B-20 Residential Mortgage Underwriting Practices and Procedures. The revised Guideline, which comes into effect on January 1, 2018, applies to all federally regulated financial institutions. The changes to Guideline B-20 reinforce OSFIs expectation that federally regulated mortgage lenders remain vigilant in their mortgage underwriting practices. The final Guideline focuses on the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages, expectations around loan-to-value (LTV) frameworks and limits, and restrictions to transactions designed to circumvent those LTV limits. OSFI is setting a new minimum qualifying rate, or stress test, for uninsured mortgages. Guideline B-20 now requires the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages to be the greater of the five-year benchmark rate published by the Bank of Canada or the contractual mortgage rate +2%. OSFI is requiring lenders to enhance their loan-to-value (LTV) measurement and limits so they will be dynamic and responsive to risk. Under the final Guideline, federally regulated financial institutions must establish and adhere to appropriate LTV ratio limits that are reflective of risk and are updated as housing markets and the economic environment evolve. OSFI is placing restrictions on certain lending arrangements that are designed, or appear designed to circumvent LTV limits. A federally regulated financial institution is prohibited from arranging with another lender a mortgage, or a combination of a mortgage and other lending products, in any form that circumvents the institutions maximum LTV ratio or other limits in its residential mortgage underwriting policy, or any requirements established by law. To find out how this will affect you, please contact me at anytime.
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Easy ways to keep more money in your pocket

10/9/2017

It goes without saying that most of us would appreciate a little more money in our pockets. Believe it or not, its actually an achievable goal. In fact, a few simple tips can help you uncover meaningful savings each and every month. Need some ideas? Heres a little inspiration to get you started: 1. Pack food from home for lunches and snacks. Skip sandwich bags and opt for reusable containers, cutlery and drink bottle. 2. Switch light bulbs to CFLs. On average, it costs $250 a year in energy costs to light your home with incandescents. Save $150 by going with CFLs. Theyre more expensive initially, but will last 10 times longer. 3. Review and negotiate your service plansphone, internet, cable and television content. 4. Invest in topping up your insulation. Attic insulation can settle and compact over time, diminishing its original R-value and increasing heating/cooling costs. Topping it up with a quality batt insulation, like Roxul Comfortbatt, will immediately help improve the comfort of your home and reduce your monthly energy bills. 5. Pay off credit card debt and swap cards for lower interest rate options. 6. Install low-flow water fixtures to cut down on excess water consumption. 7. Lower your thermostat by two degrees in cold weather and increase it by two degrees in warmer weather. 8. Launder your clothes in cold water and at off-peak times. 9. Avoid impulse shopping. Stick to your list and avoid window shopping, which tends to draw buyers in. 10. Save money on entertainment by looking for free activities. For options in your area, try a simple internet search. You might be pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of activities and entertainment available for no or low cost. Collectively employing the tips above could potentially add up to thousands in annual savings, proving that sometimes change can be a good thing. www.newscanada.com
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Bank of Canada increases overnight rate target to 1 per cent

9/7/2017

The Bank of Canada is raising its target for the overnight rate to 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 1/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 3/4 per cent. Recent economic data have been stronger than expected, supporting the Banks view that growth in Canada is becoming more broadly-based and self-sustaining. Consumer spending remains robust, underpinned by continued solid employment and income growth. There has also been more widespread strength in business investment and in exports. Meanwhile, the housing sector appears to be cooling in some markets in response to recent changes in tax and housing finance policies. The Bank continues to expect a moderation in the pace of economic growth in the second half of 2017, for the reasons described in the July Monetary Policy Report (MPR), but the level of GDP is now higher than the Bank had expected. The global economic expansion is becoming more synchronous, as anticipated in July, with stronger-than-expected indicators of growth, including higher industrial commodity prices. However, significant geopolitical risks and uncertainties around international trade and fiscal policies remain, leading to a weaker US dollar against many major currencies. In this context, the Canadian dollar has appreciated, also reflecting the relative strength of Canadas economy. While inflation remains below the 2 per cent target, it has evolved largely as expected in July. There has been a slight increase in both total CPI and the Banks core measures of inflation, consistent with the dissipating negative impact of temporary price shocks and the absorption of economic slack. Nonetheless, there remains some excess capacity in Canadas labour market, and wage and price pressures are still more subdued than historical relationships would suggest, as observed in some other advanced economies.
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Canadian home sales fall further in July

8/16/2017

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined further in July 2017. Highlights: National home sales fell 2.1% from June to July. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in July stood 11.9% below last Julys level. The number of newly listed homes edged back by 1.8% from June to July. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 12.9% year-over-year (y-o-y) in July 2017. The national average sale price edged down by 0.3% y-o-y in July. Julys interest rate hike may have motivated some homebuyers with pre-approved mortgages to make an offer, said CREA President Andrew Peck. Even so, sales activity continued to soften in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region. Meanwhile, sales and prices in Montreal continue to strengthen. All real estate is local, and REALTORS remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to. July marked the smallest monthly decline in Greater Golden Horseshoe home sales since Ontarios Fair Housing Plan was announced in April, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. This suggests sales may be starting to bottom out amid stabilizing housing market sentiment. Time will tell whether thats indeed the case once the transitory boost by buyers with pre-approved mortgages fades. Click here to continue reading
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Decline in single-family component moderated by gain in multi-family dwellings

8/11/2017

Canadian municipalities issued $8.1 billion worth of building permits in June, up 2.5% from May and the second highest value on record. Higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and commercial buildings were mainly responsible for the national increase. All building components reported gains in June, except for single-family dwellings. The value of residential building permits fell 0.9% in June to $5.0 billion, the fourth decrease in five months. The decline was mainly the result of lower construction intentions in four provinces, notably Ontario. In June, the value of permits for single-family dwellings decreased 12.5% to $2.4 billion. Seven provinces registered declines, with Ontario being the main contributor to the decrease. Conversely, construction intentions for multi-family dwellings rose 12.5% in June to $2.7 billion, marking a third consecutive monthly increase. Seven provinces registered gains, led by Ontario and British Columbia. Click here for more information
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Is a home equity line of credit right for you?

7/26/2017

(NC) Buying a new home is an exciting but often stressful experience. The variety of financing options now offered by lenders is overwhelming. One of the most popular options is a home equity line of credit. With interest rates typically lower than other forms of credit, this line of credit can help you reach your financial goals. However, there are several factors to consider when deciding if this product is right for you. Banks market home equity lines of credit under different names, which might make it challenging to recognize when you are being offered one. They are commonly combined with a regular term mortgage in the form of a readvanceable mortgage. When combined this way, the credit limit on your home equity line of credit will often increase automatically as you pay down the principal on your mortgage. A readvanceable mortgage may also tie together other credit and banking products such as personal loans, credit cards and car loans under a single credit limit. Benefits of bundling these products together include convenience and lower interest rates. But the downsides include fees and restrictions if you want to switch to another lender, and variable interest rates that could increase on short notice. Your financial institution also has the right to demand that you pay the full amount owing at any time. When deciding if this lending product is right for you, remember that your home is likely your biggest investment. You should beware of overborrowing against its equity, especially if youre counting on it to fund your retirement. Most lenders allow you to make interest-only payments on your home equity line of credit, making it easier to delay repaying the principal balance, explains Lucie Tedesco, commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Continually borrowing against your homes equity without repaying the principal can jeopardize your long-term financial security. For instance, in the event of a housing market correction you might owe more than what your home is worth. Ask yourself if a low interest rate and easy access to credit may encourage you to spend more than you can afford to pay back. You could find yourself in a debt spiral, using additional home equity just to stay current on your mortgage. This could make you more vulnerable to unforeseeable events, like job loss, illness or an interest rate hike. Consider creating your own plan to pay down the principal amount borrowed over a fixed period. Aim to pay more than the minimum payment or interest every month. With a home equity line of credit, there is usually no penalty to pay back as much as you can at any time. Find more information online at canada.ca/money. www.newscanada.com
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Bank of Canada increases overnight rate target to 3/4 per cent

7/12/2017

The Bank of Canada is raising its target for the overnight rate to 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent. Recent data have bolstered the Banks confidence in its outlook for above-potential growth and the absorption of excess capacity in the economy. The Bank acknowledges recent softness in inflation but judges this to be temporary. Recognizing the lag between monetary policy actions and future inflation, Governing Council considers it appropriate to raise its overnight rate target at this time. The global economy continues to strengthen and growth is broadening across countries and regions. The US economy was tepid in the first quarter of 2017 but is now growing at a solid pace, underpinned by a robust labour market and stronger investment. Above-potential growth is becoming more widespread in the euro area. However, elevated geopolitical uncertainty still clouds the global outlook, particularly for trade and investment. Meanwhile, world oil prices have softened as markets work toward a new supply/demand balance. Canadas economy has been robust, fuelled by household spending. As a result, a significant amount of economic slack has been absorbed. The very strong growth of the first quarter is expected to moderate over the balance of the year, but remain above potential. Growth is broadening across industries and regions and therefore becoming more sustainable. As the adjustment to lower oil prices is largely complete, both the goods and services sectors are expanding. Household spending will likely remain solid in the months ahead, supported by rising employment and wages, but its pace is expected to slow over the projection horizon. At the same time, exports should make an increasing contribution to GDP growth. Business investment should also add to growth, a view supported by the most recent Business Outlook Survey. The Bank estimates real GDP growth will moderate further over the projection horizon, from 2.8 per cent in 2017 to 2.0 per cent in 2018 and 1.6 per cent in 2019. The output gap is now projected to close around the end of 2017, earlier than the Bank anticipated in its April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). CPI inflation has eased in recent months and the Banks three measures of core inflation all remain below 2 per cent. The factors behind soft inflation appear to be mostly temporary, including heightened food price competition, electricity rebates in Ontario, and changes in automobile pricing. As the effects of these relative price movements fade and excess capacity is absorbed, the Bank expects inflation to return to close to 2 per cent by the middle of 2018. The Bank will continue to analyze short-term inflation fluctuations to determine the extent to which it remains appropriate to look through them. Governing Council judges that the current outlook warrants todays withdrawal of some of the monetary policy stimulus in the economy. Future adjustments to the target for the overnight rate will be guided by incoming data as they inform the Banks inflation outlook, keeping in mind continued uncertainty and financial system vulnerabilities. Information note The next scheduled date for announcing the overnight rate target is September 6, 2017. The next full update of the Banks outlook for the economy and inflation, including risks to the projection, will be published in the MPR on October 25, 2017.
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Canada Day

6/30/2017

This is an opportunity to gather in our communities, from coast to coast to coast, and to proudly celebrate all we have in common. It is an opportunity to celebrate our achievements, which were born in the audacious vision and shared values of our ancestors, and which are voiced in nearly all of the languages of the world through the contribution of New Canadians. Canada Dayis a time to celebrate the heritage passed down to us through the works of our authors, poets, artists and performers. It is a time to rejoice in the discoveries of our scientific researchers, in the success of our entrepreneurs, and to commemorate our history a history in which each new chapter reveals itself to be more touching, more fascinating than the last. In this momentous year marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation, our Canada Day celebrations will be bigger than ever! There will be major celebrations in 19 Canadian cities in addition to the many festivities set to take place in various communities from coast to coast. A full weekend of activities is also on the agenda in Canadas Capital Region to celebrate Canada Day and our countrys anniversary in a spectacular way. As we look ahead, we have every reason to show our pride in being Canadian and to face the future with confidence and enthusiasm. www.canada.ca Activities across Canada Find out what activities are going on in your region and across the country: Click here for a list of activities Interactive Google Map Cickhere to view the googlemap _____________________________________________________________________________________
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Professionals who can help you with home buying

6/26/2017

Because purchasing a home is probably the biggest investment you will ever make, youll definitely want a team of professionals working with you throughout the process. The Real Estate Agent Helps you find the ideal home Writes an Offer of Purchase Negotiates on your behalf Gives you important information about the community Can help you plan the home inspection The Lawyer/Notary A lawyer (or a notary in Quebec) protects your legal rights. He or she will review all contracts before you sign them, especially the Offer (or Agreement) to Purchase. Remember that a lawyer/notary should: Be a licensed, full-time lawyer/notary Be local and understand real estate laws, regulations and restrictions Have realistic and acceptable fees Be able to explain things in plain language The Home Inspector Performs an inspection of the visible components of the home Tells you the condition of the house; what is working properly; what needs to be changed; what is unsafe; and what repairs need to be made Can tell you where there may have been problems in the past Usually belongs to a provincial or industry association
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A good credit report and credit score are important factors in determining whether or not you will be approved for a mortgage. Here are some simple steps you can take to maintain a good credit history, and improve your chances of being approved.

6/15/2017

What is a Credit Score Your credit score is a number that illustrates your financial health at a specific point in time. It also serves as an indicator of your financial past, and how consistently you pay off your bills and debts. This is one of the factors mortgage professionals consider in qualifying you for a mortgage. How to Check Your Credit Score To find out your credit score, contact Canadas two credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada at www.equifax.ca and TransUnion Canada at www.transunion.ca. For a fee, these agencies will provide you with an online copy of your credit score as well as a credit report a detailed summary of your credit history, employment history and personal financial information on file. You can also obtain a free copy of your credit report by mail. If you find any errors in your report, notify the credit-reporting agency and the organization responsible for the inaccuracy immediately. If You Do Not Have a Credit Score Its important to begin building a credit history as early as possible. You can begin to build one by applying for and responsibly using a credit card. Your financial institution or mortgage professional can help. How to Improve Your Credit Score Demonstrating your ability to manage credit is key to maintaining a good credit score. There are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score. These include: Always pay your bills in full and on time. If you cannot pay the full amount, try to pay at least the required minimum shown on your monthly statement. Pay off your debts (such as loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc.) as quickly as possible. Never go over the limit on your credit cards, and try to keep your balances well below the limits. Reduce the number of credit card or loan applications you make. Once your credit score has improved, work with your mortgage professional to obtain a mortgage that works for you. Find Out More To find out more about credit scores and reports, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website and download or request a free copy of their guide, Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score. This guide provides practical, straightforward information on how to obtain and understand your credit report and score, as well as how to build and maintain a good credit history.
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CMHC’s 2017 Mortgage Consumer Survey

6/8/2017

In March 2017, CMHC completed an online survey of 3,002 recent mortgage consumers, all prime household decision-makers who had undertaken a mortgage transaction in the past 12 months. Sixty-five percent had undergone a mortgage renewal, 15% had refinanced their mortgage, and 20% had purchased a home with mortgage financing (11% First-Time Buyers and 9% Repeat Buyers). CMHC has conducted this survey since 1999. It is the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind in Canada. The Home Buying Process Sixty-four percent of First-Time Buyers indicated they were renting before purchasing, and 34% lived with family. Wanting to buy their first home (37%) and feeling financially ready (31%) were the most important reasons First-Time Buyers gave for purchasing a home in the past year. Low interest rates was the most important reason noted by Repeat Buyers at 33%. Fifty-three percent of buyers were aware of the latest mortgage qualification changes, and 19% noted that it impacted their purchase decision. For example, 11% of buyers said they increased their down payment, 6% purchased a smaller home, 5% purchased in a dfferent location, and 3% delayed their purchase. Buyers interact with a wide variety of people, and are most likely to consult a real estate agent (72%), or look to a family member or mortgage lender for advice (both at 57%). Forty-one percent reported interacting with a mortgage broker. Of all interactions, real estate agents were noted as most valuable. Seventy-one percent of First-Time Buyers accessed savings for their down payment, while 18% received a gift from a family member. Click here to read more....
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Michael Campbell on housing affordability in Canada

6/1/2017

The following is an excerpt from the VERICO Economic Report written by Michael Campbell The key to understand is that there is a big difference between addressing the affordability problem through reducing demand versus increasing supply. So far politicians have focused on reducing demand by implementing the foreign buyers tax in Greater Vancouver and just recently in Toronto, (and proposed in Victoria), to the changes to mortgage eligibility rules that impact markets across the country. Vancouvers foreign buyers tax introduced last August, seems to have had a short term impact on sales of single detached homes given the dramatic reduction in activity but it hasnt made single detached homes (or condos) more affordable for people looking to get in the market. Thats because none of those actions get to the root of the problem, which is lack of supply in both Vancouver and Toronto. Greater Vancouver is expected to add 1.2 million people in the next 23 years, which guarantees a massive housing shortfall. In Toronto, the discrepancy between population growth and new units coming on stream is even greater. This year its estimated that 80,000 more people will come into the Toronto area but only 1500 more units are scheduled to come on stream. It is interesting that politicians dont seem to understand that restricting demand is negative for the economy while trying to mitigate the affordability crisis by increasing supply encourages economic growth. Sadly, the vast majority of politicians have chosen to attack the demand side. That strategy wont work and it will cost the economy. Read More...
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BOC maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent; projects moderate growth in Q2

5/25/2017

The Bank of Canada is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. Inflation is broadly in line with the Banks projection in its April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Food prices continue to decline, mainly because of intense retail competition, pushing inflation temporarily lower. The Banks three measures of core inflation remain below two per cent and wage growth is still subdued, consistent with ongoing excess capacity in the economy. The global economy continues to gain traction and recent developments reinforce the Banks view that growth will gradually strengthen and broaden over the projection horizon. As anticipated, growth in the United States during the first quarter was weak, reflecting mostly temporary factors. Recent data point to a rebound in the second quarter. The uncertainties outlined in the April MPR continue to cloud the global and Canadian outlooks. The Canadian economys adjustment to lower oil prices is largely complete and recent economic data have been encouraging, including indicators of business investment. Consumer spending and the housing sector continue to be robust on the back of an improving labour market, and these are becoming more broadly based across regions. Macroprudential and other policy measures, while contributing to more sustainable debt profiles, have yet to have a substantial cooling effect on housing markets. Meanwhile, export growth remains subdued, as anticipated in the April MPR, in the face of ongoing competitiveness challenges. The Banks monitoring of the economic data suggests that very strong growth in the first quarter will be followed by some moderation in the second quarter. All things considered, Governing Council judges that the current degree of monetary stimulus is appropriate at present, and maintains the target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent.
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Canadian home sales drop in April

5/18/2017

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined in April 2017. Highlights: National home sales fell 1.7% from March to April. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in April was down 7.5% from a year earlier. The number of newly listed homes jumped 10% from March to April. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 19.8% year-over-year (y-o-y) in April 2017. The national average sale price rose 10.4% y-o-y in April. Home sales over Canadian MLS Systems fell by 1.7% in April 2017 from the all-time record set in March. April sales were down from the previous month in close to two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and offset by gains in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 7.5% year-over-year, with declines in close to 70% of all local markets. Sales were down most in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where activity continues to run well below last years record-levels. The GTA also factored in the decline, with faded activity compared to record levels set in April last year. Sales in Vancouver are down from record levels in the first half of last year but the gap has started to close, CREA President Andrew Peck. Meanwhile, sales are up in Calgary and Edmonton from last years lows and trending higher in Ottawa and Montreal. All real estate is local, and REALTORS remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to. Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. The number of new listings in April spiked to record levels in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, where there had been a severe supply shortage. And with only ten days to go between the announcement and the end of the month, sales in each of these markets were down from the previous month. It suggests these housing markets have started to cool. Policy makers will no doubt continue to keep a close eye on the combined effect of federal and provincial measures aimed at cooling housing markets of particular concern, while avoiding further regulatory changes that risk producing collateral damage in communities where the housing market is well balanced or already favours buyers.
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Canadian home sales drop in April

5/18/2017

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined in April 2017. Highlights: National home sales fell 1.7% from March to April. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in April was down 7.5% from a year earlier. The number of newly listed homes jumped 10% from March to April. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 19.8% year-over-year (y-o-y) in April 2017. The national average sale price rose 10.4% y-o-y in April. Home sales over Canadian MLS Systems fell by 1.7% in April 2017 from the all-time record set in March. April sales were down from the previous month in close to two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and offset by gains in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 7.5% year-over-year, with declines in close to 70% of all local markets. Sales were down most in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, where activity continues to run well below last years record-levels. The GTA also factored in the decline, with faded activity compared to record levels set in April last year. Sales in Vancouver are down from record levels in the first half of last year but the gap has started to close, CREA President Andrew Peck. Meanwhile, sales are up in Calgary and Edmonton from last years lows and trending higher in Ottawa and Montreal. All real estate is local, and REALTORS remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to. Homebuyers and sellers both reacted to the recent Ontario government policy announcement aimed at cooling housing markets in and around Toronto, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. The number of new listings in April spiked to record levels in the GTA, Oakville-Milton, Hamilton-Burlington and Kitchener-Waterloo, where there had been a severe supply shortage. And with only ten days to go between the announcement and the end of the month, sales in each of these markets were down from the previous month. It suggests these housing markets have started to cool. Policy makers will no doubt continue to keep a close eye on the combined effect of federal and provincial measures aimed at cooling housing markets of particular concern, while avoiding further regulatory changes that risk producing collateral damage in communities where the housing market is well balanced or already favours buyers.
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Value of building permits falls in March. Vancouver reports the largest decline, while Montréal sees the biggest increase.

5/11/2017

The value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities fell 5.8% to $7.0 billion in March, marking a second consecutive monthly decrease. Nationally, the decline was mainly the result of lower construction intentions for multi-family dwellings, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario. All provinces and territories, except Ontario and Quebec, registered decreases in the total value of building permits in March. Residential sector: Multi-family component registers large decline Municipalities issued $4.6 billion worth of residential building permits in March, down 8.4% from February. A notable decrease in the multi-family component more than offset higher construction intentions for single-family dwellings. Eight provinces reported declines in the residential sector in March, led by British Columbia and Ontario. British Columbia and Ontario registered the biggest declines in the multi-family component in March, stemming from apartment buildings and, to a lesser extent, row houses. Conversely, single-family construction intentions rose 3.0% to $2.7 billion in March, with Ontario and Alberta leading the four provinces that posted gains. In March, Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 16,821 new dwellings (-14.7% compared with February), consisting of 10,745 multi-family units (-19.4%) and 6,076 single units (-4.8%). Provinces: British Columbia posts notable decline British Columbia registered the largest decrease in the value of building permits in March, while Ontario and Quebec were the only provinces to report higher construction intentions. Multi-family dwellings were mainly responsible for the decline in British Columbia, led by apartment buildings. In Ontario, the large decrease in multi-family construction intentions was more than offset by increases in every other building component. Meanwhile, the gain in Quebec was mainly due to institutional structures, specifically nursing homes. Census metropolitan areas: Vancouver registers largest decrease The value of building permits fell in 19 of 36 census metropolitan areas in March. Vancouver reported the largest decline, while Montral registered the biggest increase. After posting two consecutive monthly increases, Vancouver registered a decrease in the value of building permits in March on the weakness of multi-family dwellings. Every component reported declines, except single-family dwellings. In Montral, the gain was mainly due to construction intentions for a retirement nursing home, as well as increased intentions for apartment-condominium constructions. Edmonton posted the second-largest gain in the value of building permits among the census metropolitan areas in March, mainly the result of higher construction intentions for residential buildings. Apartment buildings led the advance while the single-family dwelling component increased for a third consecutive month.
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Ontario just introduced a 16-point plan to control real estate, including a Foreign Home Buyer Tax

4/27/2017

On April 20, 2017, the Ontario government introduced the Ontarios Fair Housing Plan, a 16-point plan to control real estate, address thedemand for housing, increase supply, and protect buyers and renters. The 16 measures in the plan include a legislation that would implement a new 15 % Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST), similar to the 15 % tax on foreign buyers already introduced in Vancouver last May. Once legislation passes, the tax would be effective retroactively to April 21. The measures are aimed at cooling down the hot housing market in the Greater Toronto Area, where prices were up 33 % from a year ago while condominium rents rose 8.3 % in the first quarter from a year ago. Now that two major cities have been impacted by a Foreign Buyer Tax, only time will tell if investors will look to other Canadian cities to invest their funds.
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Canadian home sales up on a month-over-month basis in March

4/18/2017

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were up on a month-over-month basis in March 2017. Highlights: - National home sales rose 1.1% from February to March. - Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in March was up 6.6% from a year earlier. - The number of newly listed homes climbed 2.5% from February to March. - The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 18.6% year-over-year (y-o-y) in March 2017. - The national average sale price increased by 8.2% y-o-y in March. Home sales over Canadian MLS Systems edged up 1.1% in March 2017, surpassing the previous monthly record set in April 2016 by one-quarter of a percent. March sales were up from the previous month in more than half of all local markets, led by the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, London St. Thomas and Montreal. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in March was up 6.6% year-over-year, with gains in close to 75% of all local markets. Sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) posted the biggest increase, which offset a decline in the number of homes changing hands in Greater Vancouver. The number of newly listed homes rose 2.5% in March 2017, led by gains in the GTA, Calgary, Edmonton and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. With new listings having climbed by more than sales, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 67.4% in March compared to 68.3% in February. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively. The ratio was above the sellers market threshold in about 60% of all local housing markets in March, the majority of which are located in British Columbia, in and around the GTA and across southwestern Ontario. There were 4.1 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of March 2017, down from 4.2 months in February and the lowest level for this measure in almost a decade. The number of months of inventory in March 2017 stood at or below one month in the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, Guelph, Barrie District, parts of the Niagara Region and parts of cottage country. The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI rose by 18.6% y-o-y in March 2017. Price gains accelerated for all benchmark housing categories tracked by the index. Prices for two-storey single family homes posted the strongest year-over-year gains (+21%), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+17.9%), one-storey single family homes (16.6%) and apartment units (16.3%). While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 11 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS HPI, price trends continued to vary widely by location. In the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver, prices have been recovering in recent months after having dipped in the second half of last year. On a year-over-year basis, home prices in the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver remain well above year-ago levels (+19.4% y-o-y and +12.7% y-o-y respectively). Meanwhile, y-o-y benchmark price increases were in the 20% range in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. Guelph recorded a similar price gain, while Greater Toronto and Oakville-Milton saw prices rise in the 30% range in March. By comparison, home prices eased by 1.2% y-o-y in Calgary and by 1.5% y-o-y in Saskatoon. Prices in these two markets now stand 5.4% and 5.1% below their respective peaks reached in 2015. Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+1.7%), Ottawa (+4%), Greater Montreal (+3.3% y-o-y) and Greater Moncton (+4.7%). Year-over-year price gains were led by different benchmark housing categories in each of these markets. In Regina, apartments posted the biggest price increase, which snapped a long series of price declines for apartments that began in early 2015. In Ottawa, prices rose most for one-storey single family homes. In Montreal, two-storey single family home prices posted the biggest gain; meanwhile in Moncton, it was townhouse/row unit prices that climbed the most. HPI) provides the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to Home Price Index (MLSThe MLSbeing strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in March 2017 was $548,517, up 8.2% from where it stood one year earlier. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets.
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Canadian home sales climb in February

4/13/2017

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were up on a month-over-month basis in February 2017. Highlights: National home sales rose 5.2% from January to February. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in February was down 2.6% from a year earlier. The number of newly listed homes was up 4.8% from January to February. The MLSHome Price Index (HPI) in February was up 16% year-over-year (y-o-y). The national average sale price edged up 3.5% y-o-y in February. Home sales over Canadian MLSSystems rose by 5.2% month-over-month in February 2017 to reach the highest level since April 2016. While February sales were up from the previous month in about 70% of all local markets, the national increase was overwhelmingly driven by an increase in activity across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and environs. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was down 2.6% from levels for the same month last year. The decline reflects a moderation in sales in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia compared to extraordinarily elevated levels recorded one year ago. The number of newly listed homes rose 4.8% in February 2017, led by the GTA and nearby markets following a sharp drop in January. More than one-third of all local housing markets saw new listings recede from levels the previous month, including those in the Prairies, northern Ontario and the Atlantic region. Meanwhile, new listings in the Greater Vancouver region fell significantly from January levels, having retreated by nearly 25% to reach the lowest level since 2001. With similar monthly increases in both sales and new listings, the national sales-to-new listings ratio was 69.0% in February, little changed from 68.7% in January. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively. The ratio was above 60% in almost 60% of all local housing markets in February, the majority of which are located in British Columbia, in and around the GTA and across southwestern Ontario. The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents how long it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. There were 4.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of February 2017, down from 4.5 months in January and the lowest level for this measure in almost a decade. The imbalance between limited housing supply and robust demand in Ontarios Greater Golden Horseshoe region is without precedent (the region includes the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, the Niagara Region, Barrie and nearby cottage country). The number of months of inventory in February 2017 stood below one month in the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, Guelph, Barrie District and the Kawartha Lakes region. The Aggregate Composite MLSHPI rose by 16% y-o-y in February 2017. This was up from Januarys gain reflecting an acceleration in home price increases, particularly for single family homes in and around Toronto. Prices for two-storey single family homes posted the strongest year-over-year gains (+17.9%), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+16%), one-storey single family homes (15%) and apartment units (13.7%). While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 11 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLSHPI, price trends continued to vary widely by location. In the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver, prices are slightly off their peaks posted in August 2016. That said, home prices in these regions nonetheless remain well above year-ago levels (+21.4% y-o-y and +14% y-o-y respectively). Meanwhile, benchmark prices continue to climb in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island, as well as in Greater Toronto, Oakville-Milton and Guelph. Year-over-year price gains in these five markets ranged from about 18% to 30% in February. By comparison, home prices were down by 1.9% y-o-y in Calgary and by 1.2% y-o-y in Saskatoon. Prices in these two markets now stand 5.6% and 5.1% below their respective peaks reached in 2015. Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+3.5%), Ottawa (+3.8%), Greater Montreal (+3.3% y-o-y) and Greater Moncton (+1.2%). The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in February 2017 was $519,521, up 3.5% from where it stood one year earlier. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets.
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Easily increase your home's resale appeal

4/4/2017

By Scott McGillivray (NC) Homes that show well and have great features typically sell faster than their counterparts, sometimes for a premium. If you want your home to stand out, a little effort can go a long way. Try these tips to create an enticing first impression. 1. Clean. A neat, clean home shows pride of ownership and suggests that it is well maintained. 2. Paint. Opt for a neutral colour so buyers will feel like theres one less thing to do before moving in. Grey, beige or the popular combination known as greige are always a hit. A fresh coat of white paint on trim will brighten the rooms. 3. Highlight your homes energy efficiency and green features. This is increasingly a big selling point, especially among younger buyers. New insulation that offers superior thermal performance and increased fire resistance, like Roxul Comfortbatt and Safe n Sound, represent long-term savings and benefits to potential purchasers. Smart thermostats and low-flow water fixtures are also coveted. 4. Consider replacing worn flooring. Another lower-cost option is to give your floors a makeover by refinishing hardwood or shampooing carpets. 5. Make simple updates. New light fixtures or hardware on cabinetry can provide your room with an instant refresh. Give cabinets a new coat of paint if they look tired or dated. 6. Let there be light. Replace heavy drapes with sheer window coverings or valances to flood the home with as much natural light as possible. 7. Open up the space. Remove excess furniture and all signs of clutter. Organize closets and pantries. Open windows to allow the fresh air in. 8. Neutralize dcor. Remove personal photos. Add inviting elements like fresh flowers, throws or toss cushions. 9. Create curb appeal. Clean and pressure-wash the driveway and walkways. Cut the grass, pull weeds, and trim shrubs. Consider planting annuals for fresh pops of colour. Paint your front door and house numbers, if needed. Stage the patio furniture to create the feeling of an outdoor retreat. 10. Throw down the welcome mat, and let buyers take it all in. Not ready to sell? These tips also work well to revitalize a much-loved older home. Scott McGillivray is host of the hit TV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays on HGTV Canada, a real estate investor, contractor, author, and educator. Follow Scott on Twitter @smcgillivray. www.newscanada.com
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Canadian housing starts trend upwards in February

3/27/2017

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. Monthly highlights - 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.
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CREA Updates and Extends Resale Housing Market Forecast

3/21/2017

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.
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CMHC to Increase Mortgage Insurance Premiums on March 17

3/8/2017

CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) will increase its homeowner mortgage loan insurance premiums effective March 17, 2017. Premiums are calculated based on the loan-to-value ratio of the mortgage being insured. Lenders typically require mortgage loan insurance when a homebuyer makes a down payment of less than 20 %. The premium can be paid in a single lump sum but more frequently is added to the mortgage principal and repaid over the life of the mortgage as part of regular mortgage payments. For the average CMHC-insured homebuyer, the higher premium will result in an increase of approximately $5 to their monthly mortgage payment. For example, if your property was $266,500.00 and you have a downpayment of 5% or $13,325.00, you would have a mortgage of approximately $253,175.00 and need mortgage insurance. Prior to the increase, your cost for Mortgage Insurance from CMHC would be 3.60% of $253,175.00 or $9114.30. After March 17, your cost for Mortgage Insurance from CMHC would be 4.00% of $253,175.00 or $10,127.00. However this $1013.00 increase is spread out over the life of your mortgage, typically for 25 years. Your increase on a monthly basis will be about $5.10.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent

3/1/2017

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 % and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. CPI inflation rose to 2.1 % in January, reflecting higher energy prices due in part to carbon pricing measures introduced in two provinces. The Bank is looking through these effects, as their impact on inflation will be temporary. The Banks three measures of core inflation, taken together, continue to point to material excess capacity in the economy. Overall, recent data on the global and Canadian economies have been consistent with the Banks projection of improving growth, as set out in the JanuaryMonetary Policy Report(MPR). In Canada, recent consumption and housing indicators suggest growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 may have been slightly stronger than expected. However, exports continue to face the ongoing competitiveness challenges described in the January MPR. The Canadian dollar and bond yields remain near levels observed at that time. While there have been recent gains in employment, subdued growth in wages and hours worked continue to reflect persistent economic slack in Canada, in contrast to the United States. Source: Bank of Canada
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Canadian home sales edge down from December to January

2/15/2017

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were down slightly in January 2017 on a month-over-month basis. Highlights: - National home sales declined 1.3% from December 2016 to January 2017 - Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in January was up 1.9% from a year earlier - The number of newly listed homes dropped 6.7% from December 2016 to January 2017 - The MLSHome Price Index (HPI) in January was up 15.0% year-over-year (y-o-y) - The national average sale price was little changed (+0.2%) y-o-y in January Sales activity was down from the previous month in about half of all local markets, led by three of Canadas largest urban centres: the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Greater Vancouver, and Montreal. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 1.9% compared to the same month last year. While sales were up from year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local housing markets including in the GTA, Calgary, Edmonton, London and St Thomas, and Montreal, they were down significantly in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The number of newly listed homes dropped 6.7% in January 2017, the second consecutive monthly decline. New listings were down in about two-thirds of all local markets, led by the GTA and environs across Vancouver Island. With the monthly decline in new listings surpassing the decline in sales, the national sales-to-new listings ratio jumped to 67.7% in January compared to 64.0% in December and 60.2% in November. The ratio was above 60% in about half of all local housing markets in January, the vast majority of which are located in British Columbia, in and around the GTA and across southwestern Ontario. A monthly decline in newly listed homes further tightened housing markets that were already in sellers market territory. There were 4.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of January 2017 unchanged from December 2016 and a six-year low for the measure. The imbalance between limited housing supply and robust demand in Ontarios Greater Golden Horseshoe region is without precedent (the region includes the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, the Niagara Region, Barrie and nearby cottage country). The number of months of inventory in January 2017 stood at or below one month in the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford and Guelph. In the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver, prices have receded from their peaks posted in August 2016. That said, home prices in these regions nonetheless remain well above year-ago levels (+24.9% and +15.6% respectively). Meanwhile, benchmark prices continue to climb in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island together with Greater Toronto, Oakville-Milton and Guelph. Year-over-year price gains in these five markets ranged from about 18% to 26% in January. By comparison, home prices were down 2.9% y-o-y in Calgary and by 1.0% y-o-y in Saskatoon. Prices in these two markets now stand 5.9% and 4.3% below their respective peaks reached in 2015. Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+3.8%), Ottawa (+3.7%) and Greater Montreal (+3.1%). In Greater Moncton, home prices for the market overall held steady (-0.2%), reflecting an increase in townhouse row units prices (5.8%) that was offset by a decline in prices for one-storey single family homes (-1.0%). The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in January 2017 was $470,253, almost unchanged (+0.2%) from where it stood one year earlier. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets. That said, Greater Vancouvers share of national sales activity has diminished considerably over the past year, giving it less upward influence on the national average price. The average price is reduced by almost $120,000 to $351,998 if Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto sales are excluded from calculations.
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Canadian Housing Starts Trend Increased in January

2/8/2017

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 199,834 units in January compared to 197,881 in December, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 207,408 units in January, up from 206,305 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 1.0per cent in January to 189,688 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 4.2per cent to 125,886 units in January and single-detached urban starts decreased by 4.6 per cent, to 63,802 units. In January, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, but decreased in British Columbia, the Prairies and Quebec. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,720 units.
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RRSP Contributions: lump sum payments or monthly withdrawals?

2/2/2017

Were in full RRSP season and many Canadians wonder what the best option is between lump-sum payments every winter and monthly withdrawals. Contributing to you RRSP has several advantages: aside from the obvious retirement savings, RRSP contributions are deductible and can be used to reduce your tax. An RRSP also gives you a certain degree of flexibility in your financial future, and you can tap into your RRSP for the Home Buyers Plan that gives first-time home buyers the opportunity to withdraw up to $25,000 for their down payment. Both options (lump-sum or recurrent) work to contribute to your RRSP, but regular deposits are definitely preferred. Contributing regularly forces you to save every month, and you can also set up a pre-authorized withdrawal from your bank account directly into your RRSP. Another important reason to prefer the monthly withdrawal method is that it can make investing less volatile since youre investing the same amount each month. However, with all of that money being set aside, its important you keep tabs on how its growing. You should also ensure that your monthly withdrawals keep pace with your earnings, as your contributions should amount to about 10 % of your annual income. Together with monthlywithdrawals, its a good habit to set money aside in a savings account and then deposit the cash into the RRSP once or twice a year.
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First Time Home Buyers: how you can harness the power of your RRSPs

1/26/2017

RRSP season is here! Use the first 60 days of the year to max out contributions to your RRSP. You have until March 1st, 2017 to reduce your 2016 income and get a higher tax refund. There are several advantages in maxing out your contributions to your RRSP. All of the income you earn in the plan is exempt from tax (as long as the funds remain there). Additionally, you can withdraw tax-free funds from your RRSP for qualifying home purchases. The Home Buyers Plan (HBP) is a program that allows Canadians to withdraw up to $25,000 in a calendar year fromtheir RRSPs to buy or build aqualifying homefor themselves or for a relatedperson with a disability. Under this plan, only first-time home buyers are eligible to participate, unless the special rules for persons with disabilities apply. Each spouse or common-law partner can withdraw eligible amounts under the HBP from any RRSP under which he or she is the annuitant. Each person can withdraw up to the $25,000 limit, or $50,000 if purchasing the property jointly. Any RRSP contributions made must remain in the RRSP for at least 90 days before they can be withdrawn under the HBP. After 90 days, the RRSP may generate a tax refund, which can then also be applied toward the down payment. You have up to 15 years to repay to your RRSP from the second year following the year of withdrawal. If the required repayment is not made, the owing amount will have to be included as income in the year of the shortfall. This is an excellent opportunity to save for your first down payment. Make sure you make use of it!
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent

1/18/2017

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. Uncertainty about the global outlook is undiminished, particularly with respect to policies in the United States. The Bank has made initial assumptions about prospective tax policies only, resulting in a modest upward revision to its US growth outlook. Overall, the global economy is strengthening largely as expected and prices of some commodities, including oil, have risen. The rapid back-up in global bond yields, partly reflecting market anticipation of US fiscal expansion, has pulled up Canadian yields relative to the OctoberMonetary Policy Report(MPR). Bearing in mind the important assumptions embedded in its forecast, the Bank projects that Canadas real GDP will grow by 2.1 per cent in both 2017 and 2018. This implies a return to full capacity around mid-2018, in line with Octobers projection. In the context of a projection that is largely unchanged, the Banks Governing Council judges that the current stance of monetary policy is still appropriate and maintains the target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. Governing Council will continue to assess the impact of ongoing developments, mindful of the significant uncertainties weighing on the outlook. Source: Bank of Canada
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Canadian Housing Starts Trend Declined in December

1/10/2017

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 198,053 units in December compared to 200,105 in November, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 207,041 units in December, up from 187,273 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 11.8per cent in December to 187,621 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 13.9per cent to 120,750 units in December and single-detached urban starts increased by 8.1per cent, to 66,871 units. In December, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies, but decreased in British Columbia and in Atlantic Canada.
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Bank of Canada rate cut still on the table - Q4 2016 Economic Update with Michael Campbell

1/4/2017

The following is an excerpt of an article writtenby VERICOs Economic Consultant Michael Campbell andpublished on the VERICO blog. Read the full article on the VERICO blog There is no pressure in Canada to raise rates says VERICO Economist, Michael Campbell. While 3rd quarter economic growth was good, the recovery in energy in the aftermath of production cuts due to the Fort McMurray fires played a huge part. After consistently revising their economic growth forecasts downward for the past four years, most financial institutions are predicting in the neighbourhood of 2 % growth in 2017,says Mr. Campbell. Bank of Canada Chair, Stephen Poloz has been dropping broad hints that there is no rate hike until 2018 at the earliest. In fact, he hinted last week that a rate cut was still on the table. But as weve seen in the last month that doesnt mean that mortgage rates remain unchanged. Mortgage rates are being influenced by the increase in bond yields and the reduction in competition from non-bank lenders in the aftermath of the new mortgage rules, adds Mr. Campbell. If you are in the market for a new home purchase or need to renew your mortgage, contact me to find out how raising rates will impact you. As a mortgage professional, I can help you develop money saving strategies that will save you more over the lifetime of your mortgage.
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Canadian home sales cool in November

12/20/2016

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were down on a month-over-month basis in November 2016. Highlights: National home sales fell 5.3% from October to November Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity remained 1.6% above levels in November 2015 The number of newly listed homes edged down 0.4% from October to November The MLSHome Price Index (HPI) in November was up 14.4% year-over-year (y-o-y) The national average sale price climbed 7.3% y-o-y in November The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLSSystems declined 5.3 percent month-over-month in November 2016. This represents the largest monthly decline in activity since August 2012. As a result, the number of homes changing hands now stands at the lowest level since September 2015. Activity was down on a month-over-month basis in about two-thirds of all local markets, including Canadas most active markets. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity held 1.6 percent above where it stood in November 2015 the smallest year-over-year increase since October 2015. Y-o-y activity gains in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and environs were offset by declines in B.C.s Lower Mainland. The number of newly listed homes edged down 0.4 percent in November 2016 compared to October. New listings were up from the previous month in close to half of all local markets, led by the GTA but offset by declines in B.C.s Lower Mainland. The national sales-to-new listings ratio declined to 59.8 percent in November compared to 62.9 percent in October. Source:Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)
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B.C. Premier Announces First Time Home Buyer Assistance

12/15/2016

This morning B.C. Premier Christy Clarkannounced the Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) Partnership program. Through the B.C. HOME Partnership program, the Province is helping first-time home buyers by contributing to the amount they have already saved for a down payment with a loan that is interest-free and payment-free for the first five years. Here is how it works: - The B.C. HOME Partnership program will match the buyers contribution up to 5% of the homes purchase price, to a maximum purchase price of $750,000. - After five years, buyers can either repay their loan or enter into monthly payments at current interest rates. - Loans through the program become due after 25 years the same length as most mortgages. Eligibility The B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) Partnership supports eligible first-time homebuyers. To qualify for the program, all individuals with a registered interest on title must reside in the home and: - Have been a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least five years and have resided in British Columbia for at least one year immediately preceeding the date of application - Be a first-time buyer who has not owned an interest in a residence anywhere in the world at any time -Use the property as their principal residence for the first five years - Purchase a home that has a purchase price price of $750,000 or less (excluding taxes and fees) - Obtain a high-ratio insured first mortgage on the property for at least 80% of the purchase price - Have a combined, gross household income of all individuals on title not exceeding $150,000 - Have saved a down payment amount at least equal to the loan amount for which the buyer applied How to apply Step 1:Get preapproval for an insured first mortgage from your financial lending institution. Step 2:Apply to BC Housing for the Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) partnership loan. If you are eligible, you will receive confirmation of eligibility and Homebuyers Kit which includes information for your Lender, Real Estate Agent, and Lawyer/Notary Public. Step 3:Find your home and provide the details of your planned purchase to BC Housing for approval. Applications for the program will be accepted starting Jan. 16, 2017, for purchases that will close on or after Feb. 15,2017. What information is needed to apply? Buyers can begin gathering the documents theyll need to submit an online application. Buyers will need: - Proof of status in Canada and residency in British Columbia - Secondary identification (must include your photo) - Proof of income and tax filings - Insured first mortgage pre-approval
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Financial literacy: When Living Together Means Living Better

12/14/2016

Are you thinking about moving in together? This decision might be an opportunity to improve your financial situation by combining your income and expenses and doing some long‑term planning. Advantages of a relationship Being a couple is bound to have an impact on your income and expenses. Living under the same roof is much less expensive than living alone. You can save a great deal on the costs of electricity, heating, telephone, Internet, groceries and automobiles. Have a frank discussion Before you combine your finances, it is important to talk to your future spouse to get a better idea of your spending habits, income, debts and savings. Discuss the possibility of opening joint accounts (chequing or savings) to cover your essential household expenses or to save money. You might also choose to keep a personal account for your other expenses. Whatever choices you make, you should agree on how your joint accounts are to be used, and the amounts you will each deposit in them. Also take the time to assess your banking habits and make sure that you have the bank accounts that meet your needs. It could help you save money. Seek a balanced approach Once you have agreed on the lifestyle you would like to have, you can draw up your budget to obtain an overview of your total income, your essential and non-essential expenses and your ability to save. You may not particularly enjoy drawing up a budget, but simply setting objectives, such as purchasing a house or condo and saving for your childrens education if planning to have a family, will motivate you to draw up your budget and, more importantly, to stick to it. Source:Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)
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CMHC Report: Foreign Ownership in Canada’s Housing Market Remains Low

12/9/2016

The share of foreign ownership in condominium apartments remains low in major Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). This analysis is the result of combined insight from two Housing Market Insight reports released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation today anationallook at foreign ownership and a second report delving deeper intoMontral. National Report Highlights - Foreign ownership of condominiums was highest in Vancouver and Toronto at 2.2% and 2.3%, respectively. However, both markets saw a decline in share of foreign ownership compared to last year. - The 2016shares in both Vancouver and Toronto were more in line with those in 2014. The relatively higher shares observed in 2015were due to an unusually high proportion of foreign ownership in newly constructed condominiums that year relative to 2014 and 2016. - Foreign ownership in Montral remained relatively stable at 1.1%. Foreign ownership remains higher in Downtown Montral and Nuns Island, at 4.3%. - Outside of the above mentioned CMAs, the share of foreign owners ranged from a low of 0.2% in Saskatoon and Regina to a high of 1.2% in Halifax. - Foreign ownership continues to be higher among newer and larger buildings in the central areas of Toronto and Vancouver. In Toronto, the share of foreign ownership rose to 3.9% in buildings completed since 2010and in buildings with more than 500units, it rose to 5.5%. In Vancouver, newer buildings saw a 5.0% share of foreign owners while buildings with more than 100 units reported 3.2%share of foreign owners. Source: CMHC
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Bank of Canada keeps its target for the overnight rate unchanged

12/7/2016

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. Economic data suggest that global economic conditions have strengthened, as the Bank anticipated in its October Monetary Policy Report (MPR). However, uncertainty, which has been undermining business confidence and dampening investment in Canadas major trading partners, remains undiminished. Following the election in the United States, there has been a rapid back-up in global bond yields, partly reflecting market anticipation of fiscal expansion in a US economy that is near full capacity. Canadian yields have risen significantly in this context. In Canada, the dynamics of growth are largely as the Bank anticipated. Following a very weak first half of 2016, growth in the third quarter rebounded strongly, but more moderate growth is anticipated in the fourth quarter. Consumption growth was robust in the third quarter, supported by the new Canada Child Benefit, while the effects of federal infrastructure spending are not yet evident in the GDP data. Meanwhile, business investment and non-energy goods exports continue to disappoint. Overall, the Banks Governing Council judges that the current stance of monetary policy remains appropriate. Therefore, the target for the overnight rate remains at 1/2 per cent. Source:Bank of Canada
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Top 5 winter energy saving tips

11/28/2016

(NC) Between spending more time inside warming up from the cold, hosting holiday parties, and fewer daylight hours, its no wonder our energy bills skyrocket during the cooler months. Do some good for your wallet and the environment with these winter energy savings tips. 1. Curb holiday costs. All that extra entertaining over the holiday season can wreak havoc on your energy consumption. Mitigate much of the damage by using LED lights with a timer, installing dimmer switches for mood lighting, and swapping in a low-flow showerhead, especially if youre hosting overnight guests. 2. Optimize your appliances. Did you know that wood-burning fireplaces actually let cold air in and allow heat to escape up the chimney? Switch to a propane one for all of the warmth and none of the drawbacks. Appliances that run on propane also typically have a longer life span and lower maintenance costs. Dont forget to schedule service for all your appliances to make sure theyre running as efficiently as possible. 3. In the kitchen. Keep your propane or gas stoves burners clean to improve efficiency and stick to a medium flame. Use a burner appropriate to your pots size and always use lids while cooking. Avoid sneaking a peak at how the turkeys doing you lose lots of heat every time you open the oven door. Bake all your holiday goods at the same time to save on heating the oven each time. 4. Winterize your home. Weather-strip doors and windows, seal up any leaks with caulking, and clean the gutters. Let the natural sunlight help heat your home by opening curtains during the day and closing them when it gets dark. And dont consume energy while you sleep automate your thermostat to lower the temperature to between 18 and 20C overnight. 5. Power with energy efficient fuel. Consider upgrading your home from oil or electricity to propane for a more cost-effective and energy efficient power source. Modern propane furnaces can reach 95 per cent efficiency, providing up to 30 per cent savings compared to oil. And unlike electricity, propane prices have decreased over the last several years. Clean burning and non-toxic, its also a greener fuel alternative. Find more information at www.superiorpropane.com. www.newscanada.com
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How to learn the total costs of home ownership

11/22/2016

Half of Canadians who plan to purchase a home think they will only need to cover the down payment to move in. The closing costs however, can add as much as another four percent of the total purchase price of the home. Closing costs can include: - legal or notary fees - land registration fees - municipal levies - surveys - appraisal fees - home inspection fees - utility hook-ups - title insurance - property tax and utility adjustments Additionally, if your down payment is less than 20 % of the price, you will have to pay for mortgage default insurance plus the provincial sales tax charged on it. Other up-front payments that may be required include moving expenses and the real estate costs for selling your old home. Even redirecting your mail is an added expense. Source:Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) Contact me if you have any mortgage questions.It would be a pleasure to assist you or any one of your friends or family members!
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Canadian home sales rise in October

11/18/2016

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were up on a month-over-month basis in October 2016. Highlights: - National home sales rose 2.4% from September to October. - Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 2.0% year-over-year (y-o-y) in October 2016. - The number of newly listed homes edged up 1.7% from September to October. - The MLSHome Price Index (HPI) in October was up 14.6% y-o-y. - The national average sale price climbed 5.9% y-o-y. The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLSSystems rose 2.4%month-over-month in October 2016. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity rose 2%y-o-y in October 2016 to set a record for the month, edging out the previous record set back in October 2009 by just 0.8%. Transactions were up from year-ago levels in about 60 % of all Canadian markets, with activity gains in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and environs offset by y-o-y declines in B.C.s Lower Mainland. The number of newly listed homes climbed 1.7 % in October 2016 compared to September. Led by a marked increase in the GTA, new listings were up from the previous month in about 60%of all local markets. With sales having risen by slightly more than new listings in October, the national sales-to-new listings ratio edged higher to 62.9%compared to 62.4%in September. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60%is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively. The ratio was above 60 % in half of all local housing markets in October, the vast majority of which continue to be located in British Columbia, in and around the Greater Toronto Area and across Southwestern Ontario. The ratio has moved out of sellers market territory and into the mid-50 % range in Greater Vancouver. Source: CREA
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November is Financial Literacy Month

11/15/2016

In 2012, the Parliament of Canada proclaimed each November as Financial Literacy Month (FLM), to promote financial literacy for Canadians of all ages and help them learn how to manage their personal finances. This years theme is Managing money and debt wisely: It pays to know!. Follow these basic money management practices week by week, and get a better sense of your finances and how to manage them. 1 - Start with a budget The most powerful tool in your financial toolkit is a budget that helps you manage your money. It lists your income and expenses, giving you a snapshot of your financial situation. 2 - Live within your means After you establish a budget, its time to manage your money and your debt. One way to do it is by getting back to basics and by living within your means. In other words, lower your expenses so that you have money to save for emergencies and for longer term goals, such as retirement savings. 3 - Know your rights and responsibilities As a consumer, you have to know your rights but also your responsibilities. Make sure to inform yourself of rates, terms, and penalties associated with financial products and services. Some examples of your responsibilities are: do not share your personal information and learn about the fees for cash advances on your credit card. 4 - Have a savings plan You can avoid financial stress if you save up for emergencies. Your goal should be to save enough money to cover at least 3 months of living expenses. 5 - Review your finances Its important that you pay attention to your finances as you are ultimately responsible for your financial security. For most Canadians, the purchase of a house is the most importantfinancialdecision of their life. Contact me if you have any mortgage questions.It would be a pleasure to assist you or any one of your friends or family members!
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Top 5 improvements to increase the value of your home

10/31/2016

The year is coming to an end and it might be time to start thinking about the new years resolutions. A popular one for homeowners is remodeling their house or apartment, whether they want to put it on the market or they simply want to make it more livable and fall in love with it again. Here are the top 5 improvements you can do to renovate your home and increase property value! 1. Flooring. Flooring is one of the most important aspects of a house. Getting carpets cleaned can make a huge difference to the look (and smell) of a home so calling in a professional is well worth considering. You will also see an immediate rise of your property value with the installation of hardwood floors. For the bathroom, tile is always in demand and retain value exceptionally well. 2. Entry door. The front door makes a big first impression since it is the first part of a home that is viewed up close by visitors. With a quick improvement you can add overall curb appeal while reducing heating and cooling costs. 3. Kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the house so having it in a tip-top shape will increase the value of your house for prospective buyers. Dont worry if you dont have the money for a high-end renovation: small remodeling projects can prove just as valuable. 4. Bathroom. The bathroom is the second most important room in the home in terms of valuation. If your home has only one full bathroom, try to use dead space in the home to add a half-bathroom you could get a dramatic rise in the market value of your home. 5. Additional suite. Converting the attic or the basement into living space is a great way to increase the value of your home. Additional living space is extremely in demand as it can be used as an additional bedroom, as a study, or it can be converted into a rental. In that way it can also cover a portion (or all) of your mortgage payments if you are able to rent it.
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Bank of Canada announced overnight rate target

10/19/2016

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. The global economy is expected to regain momentum in the second half of this year and through 2017 and 2018. After a weak first half, the US economy in particular is strengthening: solid consumption is being underpinned by strong employment growth and robust consumer confidence. However, because of elevated uncertainty, US business investment is on a lower track than expected. The federal governments new measures to promote stability in Canadas housing market are likely to restrain residential investment while dampening household vulnerabilities. Recent export data are improving but are not strong enough to make up for ground lost during the first half of 2016, despite the effects of the Canadian dollars past depreciation. After incorporating these weaker elements, Canadas economy is still expected to grow at a rate above potential starting in the second half of 2016, supported by accommodative monetary and financial conditions and federal fiscal measures. As the economy continues to adjust to the oil price shock, investment in the energy sector appears to be bottoming out. Non-resource activity is growing solidly, particularly in the services sector. Household spending continues to rise, along with employment and incomes outside of energy-intensive regions.The Bank expects Canadas real GDP to grow by 1.1 per cent in 2016 and about 2 per cent in both 2017 and 2018. This projection implies that the economy returns to full capacity around mid-2018, materially later than the Bank had anticipated in July. Measures of core inflation remain close to 2 per cent as the effects of past exchange rate depreciation and excess capacity continue to offset each other. Meanwhile, the new housing measures should mitigate risks to the financial system over time. At present, the Banks Governing Council judges that the overall balance of risks is still in the zone for which the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate, and the target for the overnight rate remains at 1/2 per cent. Source: Bank of Canada
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Canadian home sales edge up in September

10/17/2016

According to statistics released last week by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales edged slightly higher in September 2016 compared to August. Highlights: - National home sales edged up 0.8% from August to September. - Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in September rose 4.2% year-over-year (y-o-y). - The number of newly listed homes ticked up 0.5% from August to September. - The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) in September was up 14.4% y-o-y. - The national average sale price climbed 9.5% y-o-y. The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLS Systems rose 0.8 percent month-over-month in September 2016. Having eased in each of the previous four months, national home sales are 5.6 percent below the record set in April 2016. The number of markets was evenly split between those where activity rose on a month-over-month basis and those where it declined. Continuing recent trends, sales climbed further in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and fell further in and around the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 4.2 percent y-o-y in September 2016. Transactions were up from year-ago levels in almost two-thirds of all Canadian markets. Led by the GTA and environs, the increase was held in check by the drop in activity in B.C.s Lower Mainland. The number of newly listed homes inched up by 0.5 percent in September 2016 compared to August. As with sales activity, the number of markets where new listings were up on a month-over-month basis and those where they fell was evenly split. With inventory in acutely short supply, the rise in new listings supported higher sales activity in the GTA and the national total. With sales and new listings having risen by similar magnitudes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio (62.1 percent) was little changed from August (61.9 percent) and remains well off the peak reached in May (65.3 percent). The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI rose by 14.4 percent y-o-y in September 2016. Down from 14.7 percent in August this was the first deceleration since March 2015. On a y-o-y basis, price growth throttled back for one-storey single family homes and apartment units and held steady for two-storey single family homes and townhouse/row units. Townhouse/row unit and two-storey single family home posted the biggest y-o-y increases in September 2016 (16.4 percent and 16.3 percent respectively). Price increases were close behind for one-storey single family homes (14.0 percent) and apartment units (11.1 percent). While prices in 9 of the 11 markets tracked by the MLS HPI posted y-o-y gains in September, increases continue to vary widely among housing markets. Greater Vancouver (+28. 2 percent) and the Fraser Valley (+35.0 percent) posted the largest y-o-y gains by a wide margin. However, single family home prices in both of these markets dropped from the month before, marking the first significant decline since late 2012. Double-digit y-o-y percentage price gains were also registered in Greater Toronto (+18.0 percent), Victoria (+19.4 percent) and Vancouver Island (+13.9 percent). By contrast, prices were down -4.1 percent y-o-y in Calgary. Although home prices there have held steady since May, they have remained below year-ago levels since August 2015 and are down 4.6 percent from the peak reached in January 2015. Home prices also edged lower by 1.2 percent y-o-y in Saskatoon. Home prices in Saskatoon have also held below year-ago levels since August 2015. Meanwhile, home prices posted additional y-o-y gains in Regina (+4.9 percent), Greater Moncton (+4.2 percent), Ottawa (+2.7 percent) and Greater Montreal (+2.7 percent). The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in September 2016 was up 9.5 percent y-o-y to $474,590. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets. Source:CREA
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Bank of Canada rate announcement

9/7/2016

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. Global growth in the first half of 2016 was slower than the Bank had projected in its JulyMonetary Policy Report(MPR), although the Bank continues to expect it to strengthen gradually in the second half of this year. The US economy was weaker than expected in the second quarter, notably reflecting a contraction in business and residential investment. While a healthy labour market and solid consumption should remain supportive of growth in the rest of the year, the outlook for business investment has become less certain. While Canadas economy shrank in the second quarter, the Bank still projects a substantial rebound in the second half of this year. Second-quarter GDP was pulled down by the Alberta wildfires in May and by a drop in exports that was larger and more broad-based than expected. Exports disappointed even after accounting for weaker business and residential investment in the United States, adjustments in the resource sector, and cutbacks in auto production. The economy is expected to rebound in the third quarter as oil production recovers, rebuilding commences in Alberta, and consumer spending gets an additional lift from Canada Child Benefit payments. As federal infrastructure spending starts to have more impact, growth in the fourth quarter is projected to remain above potential. Inflation is roughly in line with the Banks expectations. Total CPI inflation is below the 2 per cent target, mainly because of the temporary effects of lower consumer energy prices. Measures of core inflation remain around 2 per cent, reflecting offsetting effects of excess capacity and past exchange rate depreciation. On balance, risks to the profile for inflation have tilted somewhat to the downside since July. At the same time, while there are preliminary signs of a possible moderation in the Vancouver housing market, financial vulnerabilities associated with household imbalances remain elevated and continue to rise.
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CREA releases latest sales figures: home sales decline while prices rise

8/17/2016

According to statistics released this week by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales declined for a third consecutive month in July 2016. Highlights: National home sales fell 1.3% from June to July. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity came in 2.9% below July 2015. The number of newly listed homes rose 1.2% from June to July. The MLSHome Price Index (HPI) rose 14.3% year-over-year in July. The national average sale price climbed 9.9% in July from one year ago; net of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver, it advanced 7% year-over-year. While national home sales fell 1.3% month-over-month in July, the average price jumped 14.3% year-over-year last month. Newly listed homes, meanwhile, increased 1.2% month-over-month. Sales activity was down from the previous month in slightly more than half of all markets in July, led by Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Transactions in these two markets peaked in February of this year, and have since then dropped by 21.5 and 28.8 percent respectively. Accordingly, much of the national sales decline in recent months reflects slowing activity in B.C.s Lower Mainland. National sales and price trends continue to be heavily influenced by a handful of places in Ontario and British Columbia and mask significant variations in local housing market trends and conditions across Canada, said CREA President Cliff Iverson. Home sales continued to trend lower while price gains further accelerated in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. This suggests that sales are being reined in by a lack of inventory and a further deterioration in affordability. The new 15 per cent property transfer tax on Metro Vancouver home purchases by foreign buyers took effect on August 2nd, so it will take some time before the effect of the new tax on sales and prices can be observed. That said, the new tax will do little in the short term to increase the supply of homes. With sales down and new listings up, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 61.6 percent in July 2016 its second monthly decline following its peak of 65.3 percent in May. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in July 2016 was $480,743, up 9.9 percent y-o-y. If these two housing markets are excluded from calculations, the average price is a more modest $365,033 and the gain is trimmed to 7.0 percent y-o-y.
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Canadian Housing Starts Trend Increases in July

8/9/2016

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 201,936 units in July compared to 197,847 in June, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 198,395 units in July, down from 218,326 units in June. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 9.9 per cent in July to 182,620 units. In July, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, but increased in the Prairies. Preliminary Housing Starts data is also available in English and French at the following link:Preliminary Housing Starts Tables
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CMHC Releases 2016 Third Quarter Housing Market Assessment

8/4/2016

„The Housing Market Assessment (HMA) analytical framework provides a comprehensive and integrated view that relies on a combination of signals from a number of indicators to assess housing market conditions in several metropolitan areas across Canada, and for Canada as a whole. In this HMA, CMHC is raising its overall assessment for Canada from a low level of evidence of problematic conditions to moderate. Driving the increased level of evidence has been increasing growth in housing prices that have pushed house prices to levels that exceed the fundamentals supporting the housing market. Report Highlights - This quarterly release of the Housing Market Assessment (HMA) provides updated results to evaluate the evidence of problematic housing market conditions at the national level, and in 15 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). - To establish evidence on whether there are problematic conditions in the housing market, the HMA analytical framework looks at: overheating; acceleration of house prices; overvaluation; and overbuilding. „ - In CMHCs overall assessment of the housing market in Canada, the level of evidence of problematic conditions is raised to moderate from weak. In particular, CMHC now detects strong evidence of overvaluation for Canada as a whole. This national picture, however, reflects divergent patterns across the country. „ - Growth in house prices has accelerated, but this growth is concentrated in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. This effect is only partially counter-balanced by weaknesses in the oil-dependent provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland Labrador. By the time of the next HMA in October, growth in home prices in parts of British Columbia and Ontario may have been sufficient to provide strong evidence of problematic conditions for Canada overall. „ - Across Canada: 1. Vancouver and Toronto now both show strong evidence of problematic conditions. The level of evidence of problematic conditions for Vancouver has been raised to strong from moderate where we detect a combination of overheating, price acceleration, and overvaluation. The evidence for Toronto is unchanged with the strong evidence of problematic market conditions driven by price acceleration and overvaluation. Hamilton is also now showing strong evidence of overvaluation, resulting in the overall assessment of problematic conditions for Hamilton being raised to moderate; 2. Weak energy prices continue to affect housing markets in oil-dependent provinces. Despite house-price adjustments, the overall assessments for Calgary, Saskatoon, and Regina continue to show strong evidence of problematic market conditions because of overbuilding and the impact of weak fundamentals on the assessment of overvaluation; 3. Elsewhere, the analytical framework detects moderate evidence of problematic conditions in Winnipeg, Montral, and Qubec. The evidence of problematic conditions for Ottawa was lowered from mod
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Michael Campbell on BC Property Transfer Tax for foreign buyers

8/2/2016

The following is an excerpt of an article writtenby VERICOs Economic Consultant Michael Campbell andpublished on the VERICO blog. Read the full article on the VERICO blog What impact will the 15% foreign property tax have on the market? Virtually nothing if the concern is affordability. Theres no evidence to suggest that foreign buyers are gobbling up entry level homes. So the question is, will adding $600,000 in tax to the purchase of a $4 million home or putting an additional $1.5 million on a $10 million dollar home be enough to discourage foreign buyers and send capital elsewhere? At this point we can only guess. But Toronto, Victoria even Nanaimo could be beneficiaries if foreign investors turn their attention elsewhere.
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Brexit to Fuel Canada Home Prices in Highest Forecast Since 2000

7/26/2016

Home prices across Canada are set to jump this year as interest rates are keptnear record lows by economic uncertainty from the U.K. referendum to leave the European Union, according to brokerage Royal LePage. The average house price will rise 12.4 percent from 2015 to C$563,000 ($434,000), the highest year-over-year forecast from a real estate firm since at least 2000, Royal LePage reported Wednesday. With turmoil from Junes Brexit decision filtering into Canadas economy, homebuyers can expectmortgage rates to stay low and steady demand to continue to push prices higher,said Phil Soper, the brokerages chief executive officer. Price gains will be led by Toronto and Vancouver, the countrys hottest housing markets. The average price of a Vancouver property -- including condominiums, two-story homes and bungalows -- will surge 27 percent from last year to C$1.2 million, according toRoyal LePage. Prices in Toronto are forecast to climb 14.9 percent to C$718,000. The only major city set to cool is Edmonton, sliding 1 percent to C$376,700. Bloomberg
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VERICO Economist on Brexit - Q3 2016 Economic Update with Michael Campbell

7/19/2016

The following is an excerpt of the Economic Update for Q3 2016 released by VERICOs Economic Consultant Michael Campbell. Read the full report on the VERICO blog Brexit is important but its part of a much bigger story. Ive been talking about the demise of the European Union for six years and the UK vote to remain or leave is just one step. The key to know is that the Brexit vote and the demise of the European union is driven by economic and financial events not politics. The politics that the media is so fond of focusing on is a by-product of the dismal economic and financial performance. If the Europes economy and job creation were booming there would be far less dissatisfaction with the EU and no Brexit vote or the surge in anti-EU parties. The gross mishandling of the refugee crisis also exacerbates the dissatisfaction with the EU establishment. Of course there are numerous other complaints but none would resonate with the same level of passion if the economy was strong. Its the same in the US. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Saunders would not have gained so much support if the US economy hadnt left so many people behind while the elites thrived. Ninety-five million Americans are permanently unemployed. The point to understand is that this is just the beginning. My prediction is that 2017 to 2020 will make the economic and financial volatility weve witnessed over the last five years look like a warm-up act.
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Bank of Canada holds overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent

7/14/2016

The Bank of Canada just announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. Inflation in Canada is on track to return to 2 per cent in 2017 as the complex adjustment underway in Canadas economy proceeds. The fundamentals remain in place for a pickup in growth over the projection horizon, albeit in a climate of heightened uncertainty. In this context, the forecast for the global economy has been marked down slightly from the Banks April Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Global GDP growth is projected to be 2.9 per cent in 2016, 3.3 per cent in 2017, and 3.5 per cent in 2018. Real GDP grew by 2.4 per cent in the first quarter but is estimated to have contracted by 1 per cent in the second quarter, pulled down by volatile trade flows, uneven consumer spending, and the Alberta wildfires. A pick-up to 3 1/2 per cent is expected in the third quarter as oil production resumes and rebuilding begins in Fort McMurray. Consumer spending will also get a boost from the Canada Child Benefit. While the fundamental elements of the Banks projection are similar to those presented in April, the forecast has been revised down in light of a weaker outlook for business investment and a lower profile for exports, reflecting a downward adjustment to US investment spending. Real GDP is expected to grow by 1.3 per cent in 2016, 2.2 per cent in 2017, and 2.1 per cent in 2018. The Bank projects above-potential growth from the second half of 2016, lifted by rising US demand and supported by accommodative monetary and financial conditions. Federal infrastructure spending and other fiscal measures announced in the March budget will also contribute to growth. Despite recent volatility, the Bank expects the underlying trend of export growth to continue, leading to a pick-up in business investment. Higher global oil prices are helping to stabilize Canadas energy sector and household spending is expected to increase moderately. The Bank forecasts that the output gap will close somewhat later than estimated in April, towards the end of 2017. At the same time, financial vulnerabilities are elevated and rising, particularly in the greater Vancouver and Toronto areas. The Banks Governing Council judges that the overall balance of risks remains within the zone for which the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate, and the target for the overnight rate remains at 1/2 per cent.
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Canadian Housing Starts Trend Increases in June

7/12/2016

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 197,918 units in June compared to 190,302 in May, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. June saw housing starts pick up increased in Canada, especially in B.C., Ontario, and in the Prairies, but decreased in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Housing starts are also trending down in Alberta as a result of high inventories in the new and existing home markets of that province. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 218,333 units in June, up from 186,709 units in May. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 18.1per cent in June to 202,702 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 26.7per cent to 142,819 units in June and the single-detached urban starts increased by 1.7per cent to 59,883 units.
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Interest Rates - Q3 2016 Economic Update with Michael Campbell

7/7/2016

The following is an excerpt of the Economic Update for Q3 2016 released by VERICOs Economic Consultant Michael Campbell. Read the full report on the VERICO blog The biggest immediate impact of the UK vote and the rise of anti-EU parties will be on the currency markets because the euro will no longer be seen as an alternative to the US dollar. The European Unions uncertain future assures that money will flow out of the euro for years to come and the first choice will be the US dollar. Every currency including the loonie will fall versus the greenback but dont worry because the Canadian dollar will be stronger versus the euro and pound. Ive been predicting for years that money flowing out of Europe and into the US will fuel a major bull market in quality American stocks. Another important consequence of Brexit is that the uncertainty in Europe is a negative for global economic growth, which is already slow. That in turn will diminish demand for oil, which will bring prices lower unless theres a major supply disruption. Translation the recovery in Alberta will be slow, which will be negative for employment growth and the real estate recovery in that province. Interest Rates The Federal Reserve is dying to raise rates but the economic performance both in the US and globally doesnt warrant it. And now the uncertainty in the UK and European Union will force them to continue to play the waiting game. In Canada there is absolutely no economic pressure to raise rates. Stephen Poloz must be lying awake at night dreaming of the days when the economic growth will be strong enough to be called mediocre. I say dreaming because outside of BC theres not many happy places. And thats not going to change as long as the three levels of government combine to take increasing amounts of money out of peoples wallets. One month its increased property taxes, the next a jump in payroll taxes and higher fees for government services the month after that. Throw on an increasingly expensive regulatory burden and the recipe for slow motion growth is place. The bottom line is that there are no factors that merit pushing interest rates higher in Canada.
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CREA Updates Resale Housing Forecast

7/5/2016

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 2016 and 2017. Canadian resale housing market trends that defined 2015 have intensified. National sales activity and average prices reached new heights in the first half of 2016 amid a growing supply shortage of single family homes in British Columbia and Ontario, particularly in B.C.s Lower Mainland as well as in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Price gains in these regions stand in contrast to declines in provinces where economic and housing market prospects are closely tied to the outlook for the oil patch and other natural resource industries. Elsewhere, home prices are growing modestly, such as in Ottawa or Montreal. Activity should begin to rebalance away from B.C. and Ontario, as supply shortages put upward pressure on home prices and constrain transactions even as housing demand remains strong in these provinces and interest rates remain low. Accordingly, sales activity over the second half of the year is expected to ease in B.C., Ontario and on a national basis. Sales in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland Labrador are expected to struggle to regain traction this year, resulting in continuing softness for home prices. In most other provinces, home sales activity and average prices should improve as their economies strengthen and interest rates remain low. Nationally, sales activity is forecast to rise by 6.1 per cent to 536,400 units in 2016. This would represent a new annual record, but remain below the peak reached in the 2007 after adjusting for population growth. Prices have continued to push higher in British Columbia and Ontario and sales in these expensive real estate markets have recently hit record highs. Accordingly, CREAs forecast for the national average price has been revised upward to $490,700 in 2016, representing an annual increase of 10.8 per cent. Highlighting how provincial sales activity affects the national average price, British Columbia is the only province where the average home price is forecast to climb faster (+13.5 per cent) than the national average in 2016. Ontarios average price is forecast to rise roughly in line with the national increase. The national average price is forecast to remain stable (+0.1 per cent or +$400) to $491,100 next year, with modest price gains near or below inflation in most provinces.
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Canadian home sales drop in May following April’s record

6/17/2016

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales dropped inMay 2016after having set an all-time monthly record in April. Highlights: - National home sales dropped 2.8% from April to May - Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 9.6% compared toMay 2015 - The number of newly listed homes fell 3.2% from April to May - The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 12.5% year-over-year in May The national average sale price climbed 13.2% in May from one year ago; net ofGreater TorontoandGreater Vancouver, it advanced 9.1% year-over-year The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLS Systems fell by 2.8 percent month-over-month inMay 2016after having broken all previous monthly sales records in April. Sales activity dropped in May from the previous month in about 70 percent of all markets, led by those inBritish ColumbiaandOntario where the number of homes listed for sale has fallen to multi-year or all-time lows. The national sales-to-new listings ratio edged up to 64.8 percent inMay 2016 the ratios tightest reading sinceOctober 2009. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively. There were 4.7 months of inventory on a national basis at the end ofMay 2016, which is unchanged from Aprils reading and the lowest level in more than six years. Months of inventory have been trending lower since early 2015, reflecting increasingly tighter housing markets in B.C. andOntario. It currently sits at or below two months in a growing number of local markets inBritish Columbia, the GTA and environs and inSouthwestern Ontario. Two-storey single family home prices continued to post the biggest year-over-year gain (+14.7 percent), followed by one storey single family homes (+12.7 percent), townhouse/row units (+11.6 percent), and apartment units (+8.6 percent). While 9 of the 11 markets tracked by the MLS HPI posted year-over-year price gains in May, price growth among housing markets continues to vary widely. Greater Vancouver(+29.7 percent) and the Fraser Valley (+31.7 percent) posted the largest gains, followed byGreater Toronto(+15.0 percent),Victoria(+13.9 percent), and Vancouver Island (+9.5 percent). By contrast, prices fell by -3.9 percent and -2.3 percent inCalgaryandSaskatoonrespectively. Year-over-year price growth advanced further into positive territory inRegina(+3.4 percent) and strengthened further inOttawa(+1.3 percent) andGreater Montreal(+1.9 percent). Home prices inGreater Monctonrecorded their tenth consecutive year-over-year gain, rising 8.2 percent from where they stood one year earlier. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity inGreater VancouverandGreater Toronto, which remain two ofCanadastightest, most active and expensive housing markets. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold inMay 2016was$509,460, up 13.2 percent on a year-over-year basis. If these two housing markets are excluded from calculations, the average price is a more modest$375,532and the year-over-year gain is trimmed to 9.1 percent. SOURCE: Canadian Real Estate Association
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6 ways to go green at home and save money

6/14/2016

Going green at home is a great way to save the environment whilesaving moneyon yourhome. Also, thinking green throughout the year can offer some significant benefits. Here are 6 money saving tips that benefit your wallet and the environment. 1. Insulate well A good insulation will keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Aim for an R-value of 50 or a depth of 16 inches (41 cm). For whole home efficiency, ensure that all the important areas of your home are well insulated, not only the attic but also crawl spaces, basement headers, walls, and ceilings. 2. Call on your countertop appliances Small appliances use less energy, so use the microwave or toaster oven rather than the stove whenever you can. 3. Turn down the heat in winter For every 1 degree Celsius you lower your thermostat, you can save 2 per cent on your heating bill. 4. Turn down your air conditioning in the summer Setting your room temp at 25 degrees Celsius nets you the most comfort for the least cost. 5. Use power bars and turn them off Standby loss is the energy you waste (and pay for) simply by having appliances powered up even when theyre turned off. Everyday home electronics use hundreds of kilowatt-hours of energy per year, even when theyre not in use. Put your home office appliances on one power bar, your entertainment gadgets on another, and turn the power bars off when you turn in. 6. Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models, and only do laundry or run the dishwasher when you have full loads There are simple but effective improvements that can provide valuable monthly savings for you, while protecting our environment for the future.
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5 great tips to reduce the cost of home renovations

6/8/2016

(NC) Youve bought a tool belt and are ready to go. For many, one of the joys of home ownership is renovating the property to improve its appearance, for better use of space, and also to protect the investment. Before you start, however, there are some important considerations. While its common practice to buy insurance to protect your home against losses, Sylvain Renaud, vice president, personal lines at Intact Insurance, says that many homeowners dont realize renovations can have an impact on their policy. Before renovating, its vital to contact your insurance provider to make sure you have the right coverage that accurately reflects your upgraded home, Renaud points out. In order to benefit from the best available coverage, standard property insurance policies require you to advise the company when renovation costs go over a certain amount. Making sure your investment is protected will give you peace of mind while creating your dream home. Also, depending on the upgrades you make, you may be eligible for premium discounts, so be sure to ask. Here are some home renovation tips to help reduce monthly bills, stay safe, and prevent serious damage: 1. Properly insulate and ventilate your attic. When a house is not properly insulated the heating systems work harder, cost more to run, and consume more energy. 2. Insulate your water heater, hot water pipes, and heating and cooling ducts to help your housing system run more efficiently. 3. Check that hot water tank. The average life expectancy of a hot water tank is only eight to 10 years. Newer models are more efficient and wont leak or burst. 4. Install home alarms for fire and theft as well as carbon monoxide detectors and water leak detection systems. 5. Consider installing a sump pump with a back-up system, or think about adding a backwater valve to the main sewer line. These will reduce the likelihood of a messy sewer back up and provide valuable savings on your insurance premiums. Source: www.newscanada.com
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CMHC Releases 2016 First Quarter Results

5/31/2016

On May 30, 2016, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released its first quarter financial results as well as supplemental data on the Corporations Mortgage Loan Insurance, Securitization, and Covered Bonds business activities. Report Highlights - During the first quarter, CMHC provided mortgage loan insurance for over 83,000 units across the country. - Total insurance-in-force was $520billion as at March 31, 2016, a $6billion decrease from year-end 2015. CMHC has a legislated insurance-in-force limit of $600billion. - The average insured loan amount for transactional homeowner mortgages in the quarter was $238,632. - Homebuyers with CMHC-insured mortgages have a strong ability to manage their debts as evidenced by an average credit score of 747for transactional homeowner loans and an average gross debt service (GDS) ratio of 25.8% for the three-months ended March 31, 2016. - The strength of CMHCs portfolio is reflected in the overall arrears rate which, as at March 31, 2016, stood at 0.34%. Nationally, CMHCs arrears rate has remained relatively stable; although there has been a small increase in arrears in Alberta and Saskatchewan. - New securities guaranteed for the first quarter were $21.8billion, comprised of $12.6billion for market NHA MBS and $9.2billion for CMB. CMHCs total guarantees-in-force were $429billion as at the end of the first quarter 2016. Subsequent to quarters end, Fort McMurray, Alberta was affected by wildfires. CMHC has provided lenders with a number ofoptions to support CMHC-insured homeowners touched by these unfortunate events. CMHC also works closely with provinces, territories and housing providers, including First Nations, to help low-income Canadians access affordable, better quality housing. For the three-month period ended March 31, 2016CMHC provided more than $589million for housing programs on behalf of the Government of Canada.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent

5/25/2016

The Bank of Canada announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. The current rate is expected to stay where it is well into 2017, depending on economic conditions in the United States, the direction of global oil prices and the impact of new federal stimulus spending. The global economy is evolving largely as the Bank projected in its AprilMonetary Policy Report(MPR). In the United States, despite weakness in the first quarter, a number of indicators, including employment, point to a return to solid growth in 2016. InCanada, the economys structural adjustment to the oil price shock continues, but is proving to be uneven. Growth in the second quarter of 2016 will be much weaker than predicted because of the devastating Alberta wildfires. The Banks preliminary assessment is that fire-related destruction and the associated halt to oil production will cut about 1 1/4 percentage points off real GDP growth in the second quarter. The economy is expected to rebound in the third quarter, as oil production resumes and reconstruction begins. Inflation is roughly in line with the Banks expectations. Total CPI inflation has risen recently, largely due to movements in gasoline prices, but remains slightly below the 2 per cent target. Canadas housing market continues to display strong regional divergences, reinforced by the complex adjustment underway in the economy. In this context, household vulnerabilities have moved higher. For those of you with variable rate mortgages, this means the payments will remain unchanged.
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Housing starts, Resales, and Provincial Spotlight from the Q2 Housing Market Outlook 2016 just released by CMHC

5/20/2016

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released this week the Housing Market Outlook -Canada Edition for the Second Quarter of 2016. Theeconomic and housing report provides an outlook for the housing market reflecting the evolution of risks since the fourth quarter of 2015. Here are some highlights from the report. Housing Starts On an annual basis, housing starts are expected to range from 181,300 units to 192,300 units in 2016 and from 172,600 units to 183,000 units in 2017, a slight upward revision from our previous outlook, but a slowdown compared to 2015 when there were 195,535 starts. Resales There were 505,673 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) 2 sales recorded in 2015. Sales are expected to range from 501,700 units to 525,400 units in 2016, but are expected to be in a lower range of 485,500 units to 508,400 units in 2017. Resale Prices The average MLS price is forecast to be between $474,200 and $495,800 in 2016 and between $479,300 and $501,100 in 2017. These levels are higher than the 2015 average price of $442,999. Provincial Spotlight While they expect a slowdown in housing markets at the national level, there will be strong variation in housing-market activity among provinces. Reflecting global economic trends, slower growth in oil-producing provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador) will be partly offset by stronger GDP growth in British Columbia and Ontario. Oil and natural gas prices remained low in the first quarter of 2016, and while consensus forecast is for oil prices to rise in the future, this is more likely to happen in 2017. Consequently, housing starts in oil-producing regions are expected to continue declining in 2016 before rebounding in 2017. When assembling the outlook, CMHC looked at global as well as Canadian-specific economic conditions. While the global economic growth is expected to slow this year before rebounding in 2016, CMHC predicts Canadas growth is expected to accelerate in 2016, led by manufacturing exports and increased public spending. Employment is expected to increase to 7.2% this year before dropping to 7% in 2017. Employment and net migration gains are expected to be the strongest in British Columbia and Ontario, where it is expected that new housing starts will grow further in 2016, partly offsetting the slowdown in oil-producing economies. In summary, the annual decline in housing starts is expected to be less pronounced in 2017 than in 2016.
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Canadian home sales reached a new record in April

5/18/2016

According to statistics released byThe Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the number ofhomes sold in Canada in April 2016 hit a new record. But while sales rose to their highest level ever, supply shrank, particularly in the Toronto area. The number of new homes put up for sale slipped 3.7 per cent from a year ago to 103,028. The trend was even more pronounced in the Toronto area, where new listings were down 10.3 per cent compared to April 2015. Some highlights from the CREA website: - National home sales rose by 3.1% from March to April - The number of newly listed homes was little changed (-0.2%) from March to April - The national average sale price climbed 13.1% in April from one year ago In the greater Vancouver area, sales in April 2016 were virtually flat from the previous month up only 0.1 per cent while ingreaterToronto sales climbed 3.2 per cent on a month-to-month basis. The national average price for homes sold in April rose 13.1 per cent from a year ago to $508,097. Excluding the greater Vancouver and greater Toronto markets, the average price was $369,222, up8.7per cent from April 2015. Embed from Getty Images Sources:Canadian Real Estate Associationand metronews.ca
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Go from boring to affordably beautiful in the backyard

5/13/2016

(NC) Interior design trends continue to straddle the outdoors and nowhere is it more exciting than in this years designs for the perfect patio oasis. No matter whether your outdoor space is large or small, there are now more options than ever to replicate the comfort and beauty found inside our homes with the latest products. Lifestyle expert, Janette Ewen, partnered with The Home Depot Canada to share some of this years top trends in outdoor dcor. Layered Patterns Add dimension and texture to your outdoor space by layering attractive patterns. Outdoor rugs are a great way to incorporate both theyre now available in more designs and colours than ever before, so you can find something that suits your space while adding comfort and warmth on a cool evening. You can also get creative and DIY by spray-painting patterns with stencils onto an existing rug. Would you like to play with patterns without making a huge investment? Try using wrapping paper like bold stripes or chevron - as a table runner. Canadiana Get nostalgic with traditional cottage dcor like vintage canoe paddles, lake-signage and found objects. And dont forget the staple Muskoka-style chairs. While the wooden ones give a more classic look, they are also available in more modern sleek designs and shades and in kid-size. Rustic English Garden Go Downton Abbey with soft touches of pastels and Victorian-era design. Think about patios filled with flowers, herbs and oversized wicker furniture with plush cushions. Nautical Accents Thick stripes and preppy prints in classic reds and blues can add a hint of seaside splendour to any outdoor space. Many cushions and pillows feature vibrant, fade-resistant colours and are made with high-quality weather-resistant materials so you no longer have to sacrifice style for staying power. Whimsical Oasis Incorporate lighting in mason jars or creative floral patterns to turn your terrace into anal frescospace ready for any soire. Ewen suggests checking out www.homedepot.ca for more information and also for more how-to ideas to inspire your outdoor space. Source: www.newscanada.com
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Know the roles of both deposit and down payment when buying a home

5/10/2016

(NC) They both start with the letter d, and they both require a large sum of money to secure the purchase of a home. However, a deposit and down payment are very different. A lot of my first-time home buying clients ask me what the difference between a deposit and down payment is, says Ray Ferris, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). Simply put: a deposit is associated with your offer to purchase a home, while the down payment is associated with your mortgage. The deposit will go toward the down payment. Here is more information to help you decide how much to contribute to each: Deposit When you submit an offer, normally you are requested to include a deposit to demonstrate a serious intent to buy the property. This deposit will usually be in the form of a cheque, payable to the listing broker, who will place it in a trust account until the deal is completed or terminated. Your deposit provides the seller with some assurance that you will go through with the sale when the day of completion arrives. When an agreement is reached and the transaction is completed, the deposit will be credited in full towards the purchase price. There is no standard amount for a deposit, but the size of it says something about how serious you are about buying. Your Realtor can help you figure out the right amount to offer. Down payment This is the money that you pay at the time of purchase toward the price of your home. Your mortgage loan covers the rest. How much you contribute as down payment depends upon your specific financial situation. The more you put down, the lower your monthly payments will be. But before you contribute every penny you have to the down payment, set aside a cash reserve for other costs, including legal fees, land transfer taxes, closing costs, moving expenses, and any improvements or renovations you plan to make in your new home shortly after you move in. More information is available at www.wedothehomework.ca. Source: www.newscanada.com
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Canadian home sales set record in March

4/26/2016

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales posted their third monthly increase and broke all previous monthly records. The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLSSystems rose by 1.5 percent month-over-month to set a new all-time record in March 2016. Though sales edged lower in Greater Vancouver (-0.3%) and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) (-1.8% m-m), both remain near record highs reached the month before. (Chart A) Sales in March were up from the previous month in about 60 percent of all local markets, including Victoria, Chilliwack, the Okanagan Region, Edmonton, Calgary, Woodstock-Ingersoll, Kingston, Barrie and Montreal. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 12.2 percent from one year ago and set a new record for the month of March. It also stood 14.2 percent above the 10-year average for the month. It surpassed year-ago levels among nearly two-thirds of all local markets, with B.C.s Lower Mainland and the GTA contributing most to the year-over-year increase in national activity. Sales in a number of other markets in B.C. and Ontario also posted double-digit gains, with Chilliwack sales double what they were one year ago. With sales up on the month and new listings down, the national sales-to-new listings ratio rose to 61.7 percent in March 2016, the ratios tightest reading since October 2009. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively. The ratio was within this range in fewer than half of all local housing markets in March and was above the range in a nearly equal number of markets, almost all of which are in British Columbia and Ontario. The Aggregate Composite MLSHPI rose by 9.1 percent on a year-over-year basis inMarch 2016 the biggest gain since June 2010. For the second consecutive month, year-over-year price growth accelerated for all Benchmark property types tracked by the index. (Chart B) Two-storey single family home prices posted the biggest year-over-year gain (+10.8 percent), followed by townhouse/row units (+8.6 percent), one-storey single family homes (+8.1 percent), and apartment units (+7.3 percent). Greater Vancouver (+23.2 percent) and the Fraser Valley (+22.1 percent) posted the largest gains, followed by Greater Toronto (+11.6 percent) and Victoria (+10.8 percent). Meanwhile, year-over-year price growth on Vancouver Island picked up slightly to 7.1 percent. By contrast, Calgary home prices were down 3.7 percent from where they stood a year ago, while Saskatoon slipped by 2.7 percent. Year-over-year price growth remained in positive territory (+0.5 percent) in Regina and edged higher on a year-over-year basis in Ottawa (+1.2 percent) and Greater Montreal (+1.5 percent). Home prices in Greater Moncton recorded their eighth consecutive year-over-year gain, rising 4.9 percent from where they stood one year earlier. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets. If these two housing markets are excluded from calculations, the average is a more modest $366,950 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to 10.4 percent. Even then, the gain reflects a tug of war between strong average price gains in housing markets around the GTA and in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia versus flat or declining average prices elsewhere in Canada. The average price for Canada net of sales in British Columbia and Ontario was down one percent year-over-year to $299,591. Further information can be found atwww.crea.ca/statistics
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Residential Real Estate

4/20/2016

The following is an excerpt of the Economic Update for Q2 2016 released by VERICOs Economic Consultant Michael Campbell. Read the full report on the VERICO blog. At last count Ive seen or heard 2,463 warning since 2012 about the coming collapse in Vancouver and Torontos housing markets. Were still waiting. Forgive the glibness but there was so much wrong with that analysis that I dont know where to begin. Hint: The price vulnerability at the $2 - $3 million plus price range has little to do with affordability as so much analysis suggests. At the risk of oversimplifying allow me to divide the residential market into two segments single detached Vancouver homes and entry to mid level condos and houses in the distant suburbs. Prices of entry to mid level condos and lower priced houses in the suburbsare principally impacted by low mortgage rates and in-migration. So the question about the price risk is really about the likelihood of falling demand due to rising interest rates and a significant drop-off in the number of people moving to Greater Vancouver (and to a lesser extend Toronto). Theres no evidence to suggest that those two critical factors are changing. As I mentioned the Bank of Canada has stated rates are going to remain stable into 2017 and the strong BC economy continues to attract in-migration from Alberta and other parts of Canada. Theres also no sign that new building supply will be sufficient to meet the demand created by newcomers moving to Greater Vancouver (and millenials moving out of their parents basements). So What About The Danger of a Big Price Decline at the Upper End? Its only in the last year that people are starting to understand the impact of foreign buying on the price of single detached houses in Vancouver and the accompanying ripple effect on the immediate suburbs. We still dont have a lot of data but some firms and financial firms have provided some insight but I suspect most dont understand the nature of the trend and why the probability is strong that it will keep going. The foreign buying from China, Iran and other troubled areas is motivated by a lack of confidence in their home government. So they move their capital in search of safety. The list of preferred destinations and investment vehicles is relatively small compared to the amount of capital moving ($1.2 trillion left China in 2015). US treasury bonds are the first choice followed by other assets like stocks, real estate and art. And when it comes to real estate New York and London top the list of preferred markets but Vancouver and Toronto, along with Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore now occupy a close second. Billions of dollars are pouring into these markets, which has resulted in sharp being increases in prices along with complaints about foreign ownership. The question about the stability of the $2 - $3 million plus residential markets in Vancouver and Toronto is really about the prospect for continued inflows of foreign capital, especially from China. If that capital stops coming due to escalating efforts by the Chinese government to stop money from leaving the country or the federal, provincial or municipal governments enacting laws that prevent discourage foreign buying, then activity at the upper end will decline significantly. But without that type of push by government there is no reason to suspect that the inflows will stop because the problems in other parts of the world arent going to go away. But would a price collapse necessarily follow if the inflow of capital slowed and purchases declined due to government intervention. I think the probability is no. Sharp price declines are usually precipitated by forced liquidation as a result of credit problems. I dont think thats the nature of the market in Vancouver or Toronto. While we dont have the statistics, anecdotal evidence suggests that a big percentage of the upper end purchases are made with cash not credit. For the high-end foreign buyers the whole point is to get as much money out of the home country (China, Iran etc) as possible and out of the reach of their government. The market may cool but unless some event or government action forces liquidation then prices will remain relatively stable due to the large cash component in the purchases. One more factor - the drop in the loonie versus the Chinese renminbi continues to put our real estate on sale, which further adds to the probability that the current trend of capital moving into the upper end of the real estate market in Vancouver and Toronto will continue.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent

4/15/2016

The Bank of Canada announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. Growth in the global economy is expected to strengthen gradually from about 3 per cent in 2016 to 3 1/2 per cent in 2017-18. After a slow start to 2016, the US economy is expected to regain momentum, but with a lower profile and a composition that is less favourable for Canadian exports. Financial conditions have improved, partly in response to expectations of more accommodative monetary policy in some major economies. . Nonetheless, the Bank expects deeper cuts to investment in Canadas energy sector than were forecast in January. Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar has firmed, reflecting shifting expectations for monetary policy in Canada and the United States, as well as recent increases in commodity prices. The Canadian economys complex structural adjustment to the oil price shock is ongoing and will dampen growth throughout the Banks projection horizon. First-quarter GDP growth appears to have been unexpectedly strong, but some of that strength is due to temporary factors and is likely to reverse in the second quarter. Still, it does appear that the positive forces at work in the economy are starting to outweigh those that are negative. The combined effect of all of these global and domestic developments would have been a modest downgrade of the Banks outlook. However, the fiscal measures announced in the March federal budget will have a notable positive impact on GDP. The Bank now projects real GDP growth of 1.7 per cent in 2016, 2.3 per cent in 2017 and 2.0 per cent in 2018. This new growth profile, combined with the revised estimate for potential, suggests the output gap could close somewhat earlier than the Bank had anticipated in January, likely in the second half of 2017. Inflation in Canada continues to track largely as the Bank anticipated. Total CPI inflation is below the 2 per cent target and will likely ease further before returning to 2 per cent as the effects of exchange rate pass-through and lower consumer energy prices unwind and the economys excess capacity diminishes. The Banks Governing Council judges that the overall balance of risks remains within the zone for which the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate, and the target for the overnight rate remains at 1/2 per cent.
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A snapshot of the Canadian Federal Budget 2016-17

4/6/2016

As expected, the Federal Budget is largely focused on the delivery of the Liberal governments election platform commitments. The Budget is well designed tosupport the middle class, the previously announced middle class tax cut and related measures, investments in a range of infrastructure projects, social housing, and additional support for low-income seniors. In addition, the Government is moving forward with an array of small measures designed to appeal to a range of stakeholders. A modest amount of assistance is provided to regions and workers most affected by the decline in commodity prices. The key element is an extension of Employment Insurance benefits in the 12 regions that have experienced the sharpest increase in unemployment. The economic impact may be important and, with a stronger start to 2016 for the Canadian economy, that should reduce the odds of a cut by the Bank of Canada. According to Scotia Bank, the next move should be a rise in interest rates, but only in mid-2017. If the economic impacts are as large as those put forward by the Government, the output gap could well be closed by the end of 2017. This, in conjunction with a stronger start to the year and higher commodity prices, should eliminate the odds of a cut in the Bank of Canadas policy rate going forward. This could provide some support to the Canadian dollar. Some key points: - Deficits of roughly $29 billion (1.4% of GDP) are projected for each of the next two fiscal years, narrowing to a $14.3 billion shortfall (0.6% of GDP) by fiscal 2020-21 (FY21). - The federal debt is expected to rise from 31.0% of GDP as of March 2015 to a peak of 32.5% of GDP during FY16. - There is a significant increase in program expenditures in the current plan. From FY16 to FY18, the planned rise in program spending totals almost $51 billion, contrasting with the $5 billion increase over the five years to FY15. Policy measures total $11 billion in FY17 and $13.5 billion in FY18. - The Governments estimate of the growth impact of its Budget measures is 0.5% per year for FY17 and FY18, is likely overly optimistic, but the effect is still probably substantial. - The governments market debt is expected to rise by $37 billion in FY17, after a $20 billion increase this year.
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Housing demand set to grow for Millennials and Baby Boomers

4/1/2016

Its estimated that 9.6 million baby boomers are in Canada today and they have long been the segment to pay attention to. But there is another demographic as big as if not even bigger than the Boomers: the Millennials, or the Gen Ys. This group has not been clearly defined yet, with no standard criteria for categorizing them. They are born anywhere from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. At any rate, this age bracket has as many as 7 million to 9.1 million people living in Canada a huge demographic with a huge influence on trends. Millennial housing demand is growing as they look to buy their first homes, especially in Toronto and Vancouver Canadas biggest cities. They have the potential to be the biggest home buying group in history even bigger than their baby boomer parents. According to CREA, the Baby Boomers, the majority of whom are in their 50s, are out of their move-up years, but still a long way from downsizing the family home. A large chunk of the housing stock remains occupied by Boomers who will likely be keeping their home off the market for some time yet. For now, its members of the Greatest and Silent generations (people over 70) who are most likely downsizing. With Millennials coming into their homeownership years well before their Boomer parents are likely to downsize, the demand for homes will continue to grow while inventory remains flat. If you are a first time buyer trying to climb the property ladder, talk to me and I can help you find the mortgage product that will suit your situation.
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Canadian home sales push higher in February

3/17/2016

According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales recorded a second consecutive month-over-month increase in February 2016. The number of homes trading hands via Canadian MLSSystems rose by 0.8 percent in February 2016 compared to January. The monthly increase lifted national sales activity to the highest level since June 2007. A greater number of local housing markets posted a monthly decline in sales activity than posted a monthly increase; however, the latter accounted for a larger share of national transactions. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Okanagan Region and Fraser Valley made the largest contribution to the monthly increase in national sales activity, offsetting monthly sales declines in Edmonton, Greater Moncton and Montreal. Two of Canadas hottest housing markets look set to stay that way heading into the spring home buying season, said CREA President Pauline Aunger. Meanwhile, other major urban markets elsewhere in Canada are well balanced or have ample supply. All real estate is local, and REALTORSremain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity rose 18.7 percent on a year-over-year basis in February 2016, standing 12.7 percent above the 10-year average for the month. Activity increased above year-ago levels in February in about three-quarters of all local markets. B.C.s Lower Mainland, the GTA and Montreal contributed most to the year-over-year increase in national activity. The number of single family home sales above one million dollars is rising in Greater Vancouver and the GTA, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Tightened mortgage regulations apply to homes selling above five hundred thousand dollars and below a million dollars. The tighter regulations combined with a short supply of single family homes will restrain transactions below one million dollars. If recent trends continue, home sales above one million dollars will account for a greater share of activity and will further fuel year-over-year average price increases in these markets. Meanwhile, price growth will remain more modest in other housing markets that dont have an ongoing or developing supply shortage like the kind were seeing in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia or around the GTA. The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.5 percent in February 2016 compared to January. The rise in new listings in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, York and Mississauga Regions of the GTA and Hamilton-Burlington helped to push the national figure higher. Monthly increases in new listings in these housing markets were offset by monthly declines in Central Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. The national sales-to-new listings ratio rose to 59.5 percent in February 2016 versus 59.3 percent the previous month. This marks the ratios highest reading since November 2009. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 percent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively. The ratio was within this range in about 45 percent of all local housing markets in January. A little over one third of all local housing markets recorded a ratio above 60 percent; as in recent months, virtually all these housing markets are located in British Columbia and Ontario. The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. There were 5.2 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of February 2016, the lowest level in nearly six years. The national figure is being pulled lower by increasingly tighter housing markets in B.C. and Ontario. The number of months of inventory is currently sitting at or below two months in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, the GTA, St. Catharines, Brantford, Oakville-Milton and Guelph. The Aggregate Composite MLSHPI rose by 8.49 percent on a year-over-year basis in February 2016 the largest gain since June 2010. Year-over-year price growth accelerated among all property types tracked by the index. Two-storey single family homes again posted the biggest year-over-year price gain (+10.54 percent), followed by townhouse/row units (+7.41 percent), one-storey single family homes (+7.38 percent), and apartment units (+6.34 percent). Year-over-year price growth continued to vary widely among housing markets tracked by the index. Greater Vancouver (+22.18 percent) and the Fraser Valley (19.39 percent) posted the largest gains, followed by Greater Toronto (+11.30 percent). Meanwhile, year-over-year price growth in Victoria accelerated to almost 10 percent in February while Vancouver Island home price growth picked up slightly to 5.7 percent. By contrast, home prices retreated by about three-and-a-half percent on a year-over-year basis in Calgary and by about three percent in Saskatoon. Year-over-year price growth climbed out of negative territory in Regina for the first time in close to three years in February. Additionally, home prices edged higher on a year-over-year basis in Ottawa (+0.82 percent) and rose modestly in Greater Montreal (+1.67 percent). Price growth also strengthened further in Greater Moncton (+6.97 percent). The MLSHome Price Index (MLSHPI) provides a better gauge of price trends than is possible using averages because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in February 2016 was $503,057, up 16.4 percent on a year-over-year basis. The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are Canadas most active and expensive housing markets. If these two housing markets are excluded from calculations, the average is a more modest $355,235 and the year-over-year gain is reduced to8.7 percent. Even then, the gain reflects a tug of war between strong average price gains in housing markets around the GTA and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia versus flat or declining average prices elsewhere in Canada. If British Columbia and Ontario are excluded from calculations, the average price slips even lower to $291,510, representing a decline of 1.4 percent year-over-year.
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5 tips for staying safe while you share on social media

3/4/2016

Since the dawn of the internet, there have been scammers looking to take advantage of personal information online. With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other new social sharing sites, it is important to be aware of how much information we share, and with whom. With so much personal information out there, scammers can easily get hold of your money or steal your identity. Canadians lose millions of dollars every year from these kinds of vicious attacks, so be on the lookout at all times. Here are five ways to avoid becoming victim to social media scams: 1. Regulate your privacy settings. Managing your settings wisely can help avoid any unwanted attention to your social media pages. Adjust your settings to select who can access your personal information, photos and posts. 2. Dont overshare. While social media encourages the sharing of personal information, avoid revealing too many personal details. Scammers can use these to track down information that allows them to steal your identity. Remember, just because you post something in a private group, it doesnt mean that someone wont take a screen shot and share it. 3. Be careful where you click. There are many attention-grabbing links, photos and articles that that pop-up, but dont click on just anything. While these sites may look legitimate, they can contain programs that attempt to take your contact information and share it. 4. Your password is your friend. Create strong passwords and ensure that they are unique and challenging so scammers will not be able to guess them. Make it a habit to change your passwords regularly and use different ones for different sites. 5. Be alert and cautious. Be vigilant about who you communicate with online and how you verify their identity. Be extra cautious when they ask you to do something. Never click on suspicious links, and never share personal or financial information unless you can absolutely trust the person on the other end, and verify that they are who they say they are. More information is available at www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/fraud, or you can phone the Competition Bureau directly at 1-800-348-5358. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also has a helpful website: www.antifraudcentre.ca, and can be reached at 1-888-495-8501.
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Loonie Has Seen Its Worst says CIBC

2/24/2016

With Canadian monetary policy taking a backseat to fiscal stimulus, Fed rate hikes being delayed until later in the year and oil prices appearing to have bottomed out weve strengthened our near-term forecast for the Canadian dollar. Indeed, its now likely that the loonie has seen the worst of the depreciation, even if it has one slight dip ahead. The Bank of Canadas decision to keep rates on hold in January represented an important turning point for the currency. Since reaching its weakest level on the day before the announcement, a time when markets were pricing in a high probability of further monetary easing, the CAD has appreciated more than five percent. In part, that strength reflects the perception that Governor Poloz has given way to his boss, Finance Minister Morneau. The use of deficit spending by the Liberal government to stimulate the economy means that the pressure on the currency from potential monetary easing has been significantly reduced. Indeed, according to a technical report by the Bank of Canada, $10 bn worth of fiscal stimulus has more of an effect on GDP than a reduction of 100bps in the overnight rate. Pressure on the loonie from further Fed rate hikes has also been delayed. Market volatility and a string of soft data has seen the FOMC take a step back from their hiking cycle. While the US central bank could still raise rates later in the year, it would likely happen in an environment of better global growth and higher oil prices. CIBC Economics expects oil prices to recover during the year with supply leveling off and demand continuing to increase. That would provide at least a partial cover for the loonie from wider interest rate differentials. We say partial cover because the currency will still depreciate as monetary policy diverges, but it wont reach the depths seen in January. As a result, the CAD shouldnt deviate too far from its current level over the remainder of the year. Looking ahead, as oil prices grind higher, the loonie should appreciate slightly, albeit remaining weak enough to keep the non-energy export sector competitive on the global stage.
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RRSP deadline is February 29th

2/22/2016

If you are thinking contributing to your RRSPs, here are a few things to consider before the Feb 29th deadline. When do you want to retire? Its never too early to start planning for retirement. If you are in your 20s you may want to opt for more aggressive funds because your investments will have more time to ride the ebbs and flows of the market. If you are in your 40s, you may want to invest a larger portion of your savings in safer GICs. RRSPs or pre paying your mortgage? If you have some funds set aside, and you are wondering whether to put it into your investments or into a prepayment for your mortgage, talk to me and i can help you with the pros and cons. Laddering Ask your financial advisor about staggering your contributions so that you can optimize your investments. Since your investments will be maturing each year, any upward swings will work in your favour. If there is interest rates drop, only some of your investments are exposed. Carry over Remember that you dont have to max out your contributions every year. If you are going to be in a higher earning bracket next year, it may make sense for you to save contribution room till it makes more financial sense for your situation.
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HOME PRICES DOWN 0.1% IN JANUARY

2/15/2016

In January the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price Index was down 0.1% from the previous month, a second consecutive monthly decrease. A January decline has happened only three times in 17 years. For the first time in 11 months, prices were down on the month in seven of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed: Montreal (1.2%), Ottawa-Gatineau (1.0%), Calgary (0.7%), Edmonton (0.5%), Quebec City (0.4%), Toronto (0.2%) and Halifax (0.1%). For Ottawa-Gatineau it was the fifth consecutive monthly decline (cumulative 4.7%), for Calgary the fourth (cumulative 4.4%), for Edmonton the third (cumulative 1.7%). For Toronto it was the first monthly decline in 11 months. Prices were up in January in Hamilton (+1.0%) Vancouver (+0.9%), Victoria (+0.7%) and Winnipeg (+0.3%). For Vancouver it was the 13th consecutive month without a decline, for Victoria the fifth. Teranet National Bank National Composite House Price Index In January the composite index was up 5.9% from a year earlier a quite respectable gain, of course, though the smallest in three months. However, the strength came from just four markets whose 12-month gains were well above the countrywide average Vancouver (12.5%), Hamilton (10.3%), Toronto (8.6%) and Victoria (8.5%). In Quebec City (+0.1%), Winnipeg (+0.2%) and Montreal (+0.8%), prices were barely higher than a year earlier. In Halifax they were 2.0% higher. Prices were down from a year earlier in Calgary (2.6%), Ottawa-Gatineau (2.0%) and Edmonton (1.9%).
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Employment was virtually unchanged in January

2/5/2016

In the12months to January, employment increased by0.7% (+126,000). Over the same period, the unemployment rate rose from6.6% to7.2%, as the labour force grew at a faster pace than employment. There was little change in both full-time and part-time employment in January. However, compared with12months earlier, full-time work increased by172,000(+1.2%) while part time was little changed. Over the same period, the number of hours worked rose by1.2%. Employment in Alberta decreased by10,000in January. This brought year-over-year declines to35,000(-1.5%), as losses in full-time work (-73,000) were partly offset by gains in part time (+38,000). The employment decrease in January raised the unemployment rate in the province to7.4%, the highest since February1996. The unemployment rate in Alberta was higher than the national rate for the first time since December1988. Chart3 Unemployment rates in Alberta and Canada In Manitoba, employment decreased by5,300in January, the second decline in three months. With these recent losses, employment in the province was down1.0% (-6,600) compared with January2015. At6.1% in January, the unemployment rate was little changed as fewer people participated in the labour market. Employment in Newfoundland and Labrador fell by2,400in January, continuing a recent downward trend that began in the autumn of2015. In the12months to January, employment losses in the province totalled7,400(-3.1%). The unemployment rate was unchanged at14.4% in January as fewer people participated in the labour market. For a second month in a row, Ontario was the lone province with employment growth, up20,000in January. However, the unemployment rate was unchanged at6.7% as more people participated in the labour market. In the12months to January, employment in the province increased by100,000(+1.5%).
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What’s coming for Canada’s economy

1/26/2016

VERICO economist Michael Campbell gives us an overview into the current state of the Canadian economy and what you should be aware of. After continually underestimating the impact of falling resource prices especially oil, the Bank of Canada has come to realize that this is a major restructuring of the economy that it estimates can take up to 5 years and remove $50 billion a year out of the economy annually. But please understand that the economic problems are focused in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland the economy outside resources is still moving along. The big economic hope on the short term rests on a falling loonie that represents a de facto 40% plus pay cut for Canadians over the last 2 years. Given that 75% of our exports go to the States, exporters will be thrilled with the lower dollar. Were also looking for a big year in tourism thanks to the low dollar. The drop in the loonie has already spurred a 21% increase in same day visit from the US in the first 10 months of 2015 while same day visits to the States by Canadians dropped 9.3%, which is good news for retail. Click here for the full report.
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January 2016 Q1 Economic Report

1/21/2016

Please click here to see an excellent Economic Report courtesty of Michael Campbell who I have personally heard speak live many times and in my opinion is a very good economist that is in tune with what is happening not only in Canada but around the world.
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Pace of House Price Inflation in Toronto and Vancouver to Return to Earth in 2016

1/13/2016

Canadasresidential real estate market showed strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2015, led by hotVancouverandTorontomarkets according to the Royal LePage House Price Survey1and Market Survey Forecast2released today. Looking forward to 2016,Royal LePageexpects continued price increases in most markets, but not at the pace that has been the recent norm. Instead, the national real estate market is expected to slow later this year, principally due to the effects of a dampened economy inWestern Canadaand eroding affordability inTorontoandVancouver. According to the Royal LePage National House Price Composite, compiled from proprietary property value data in 53 of the nations largest real estate markets, the price3of a home inCanadaincreased 6.5 per cent year-over-year to$500,688in the fourth quarter. The price of a two-storey home rose 7.7 per cent year-over-year to$610,134, and the price of a bungalow increased 5.4 per cent to$420,082. During the same period, the price of a condominium increased 3.1 per cent to$341,448. Looking ahead to 2016,Royal LePageforecasts that the aggregate price of a home inCanadawill increase 4.1 per cent for the full year when compared to 2015. The frenetic pace of our countrys largest housing markets should moderate throughout the year ahead, saidPhil Soper, president and chief executive officer,Royal LePage. While most of the country will continue to see house value appreciation in 2016, we expect that the pace of price increases inGreater Vancouverand theGreater Toronto Area where real estate appreciation has significantly outpaced job and wage growth will settle to a more sustainable, single-digit price increase trajectory. Through the recent period of depressed oil prices, property prices inCanadasenergy-centric regions, particularlyAlbertaandNewfoundlandandLabrador, were more resilient than most onlookers had expected, continued Soper. Consumers, reluctant to sell their homes at what they perceived to be a discount to their true value, simply withdrew from the market, resulting in steady house prices and a drop in unit sales volume. In the coming year we expect to see the delayed impacts of the slowing economy and rising unemployment on the regions housing stock, with moderate declines in home values. In cities likeCalgary, it is critical that homeowners seek the guidance of a real estate professional to price homes accurately to local market conditions, or the property will not sell. InQuebec, home prices were relatively flat during 2015. A lower Canadian dollar and U.S. economic growth should fuel service and manufacturing sector dynamism in 2016, improving employment levels and consumer confidence, and providing a lift to home prices. Montrealsslow-growing real estate market is expected to be much more vigorous in 2016, said Soper. A recent economic opportunity study4pointed toMontrealasCanadasthird city to watch in 2016, just behindVancouverandTorontoin growth potential. In 2016,Royal LePageexpects the price of residential real estate inCanadato be more heavily influenced by macroeconomic factors than by housing-specific variables such as tighter regulation in the mortgage industry. The Bank ofCanadais expected to keep its overnight rate steady through the all-important spring market, extending the prolonged period of exceptionally low borrowing rates. While the new Federal Minister of Finance kicked off his appointment with a hike to 10 per cent in the minimum down payment required for the portion of mortgage insurance over$500,000,Royal LePageexpects this change to have a marginal effect on the overall market. The new federal government moved quickly with a policy change in the minimum down payment required to secure mortgage insurance, said Soper. The clever public policy argument here is that the government-backed program, provided primarily as assistance to the first-time homebuyer, should be more expensive for people insuring very large mortgages. The change will produce an added benefit akin to a slight tap on the brake for our two most costly cities. On a nationwide basis, we expect the number of transactions that this will impact to be minimal significantly less than the initial industry reaction would lead consumers to believe. The global economic picture continues to be uneven. For the most part, forecasters such as the International Monetary Fund expect worldwide growth in 2016 to be close to the modest levels attained in 2015.Asiaremains a wildcard as evidenced by the recent gyrations inChinasstock markets. IfChinaseconomy, the worlds second largest, continues to sputter,Canadassecond largest export market could reduce the quantity of goods and services that they are willing to purchase, creating drag on our economy. Offsetting the dampening effects of a troubled global economy and oil price declines, the economic rebound and hiring surge in America presents a meaningful opportunity for Canadian export growth. ForCanada, export volumes to the U.S. are twenty-times larger than export volumes toChina. Combined with the relatively weak Canadian dollar which makes the countrys goods and services more attractive to foreign buyers,Royal LePageexpects to see expanding export activity inOntario,British Columbia,QuebecandManitoba. In the manufacturing sector, a recent report from Export Development Canada5noted that exporters will ride the wave of surging demand in the U.S., as evidenced by vehicle sales climbing above pre-recession levels. Canadawill benefit more than any other country in the world from the made in America recovery underway south of the border. It took seven long years, but the incredible U.S. jobs creation machine is finally running at full tilt, and those newly confident people want what we have to offer. Growing exports mean more jobs at home, and by extension, stronger Canadian consumer confidence. Combined with continued low interest rates, the countrys housing market is in a solid position to weather the impact of low commodity prices and a choppy domestic economy, concluded Soper.
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Trend in Canadian Housing Starts Declined in December While Total Starts Increased in 2015

1/11/2016

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 203,502 units in December compared to 208,204 in November, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. A decrease in both the multiple and single starts segments drove the December trend lower, said Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist. Starts increased in 2015 compared to 2014, largely driven by the condominium market in Toronto. Had the Toronto condominium starts remained stable in 2015, national starts would have declined on a year-over-year basis. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 172,965 units in December, down from 212,028 units in November. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 19.1 per cent in December to 159,007 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 27.0 per cent to 101,264 units in December and the single-detached urban starts held steady at 57,743 units. In December, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased in the Prairies, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, but increased in British Columbia and Qubec.
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Minimum downpayment will increase for purchases over $500,000

12/12/2015

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced changes to the rules for government-backed mortgage insurance this week. Effective February 15, 2016, the minimum down payment for new insured mortgages will increase from 5 per cent to 10 per cent for the portion of the house price above $500,000. The 5 per cent minimum down payment for properties up to $500,000 remains unchanged. The announcement represents a graduated approach to increasing the down payment requirement proportionally to the cost of a home. Canadians who already hold mortgages will not be affected by this announcement. If you are planning to buy a home in the near future and have questions about how you might be affected by these changes, ASK ME! I would be happy to assist you and find financing that is right for your needs.
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Down Payment Rule Changes Announced

12/11/2015

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
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent

12/2/2015

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4 per cent. Global economic growth is evolving essentially as the Bank had anticipated in its OctoberMonetary Policy Report(MPR). The US economy continues to grow at a solid pace, although private domestic demand has proven slightly less robust than expected. Meanwhile, commodity prices have declined further. The ongoing terms-of-trade adjustments and shifting growth prospects across different regions are contributing to exchange rate movements. In this context, policy divergence is expected to remain a prominent theme. In Canada, the dynamics of growth have been broadly in line with the Banks MPR outlook. The economy continues to undergo a complex and lengthy adjustment to the decline in Canadas terms of trade. This adjustment is being aided by the ongoing US recovery, a lower Canadian dollar and the Banks monetary policy easing this year. The resource sector is still contending with lower prices for commodities. In non-resource sectors, exports are picking up, particularly in exchange rate-sensitive categories. However, business investment continues to be weighed down by cuts in resource-sector spending. The labour market has been resilient at the national level, although with significant job losses in resource-producing regions. The Bank expects GDP growth to moderate in the fourth quarter of 2015 before moving to a rate above potential in 2016. While bond yields are slightly higher, financial conditions remain accommodative in Canada.
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Canadian home sales rebounded last month according to CREA

11/25/2015

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales increased in October 2015 from the previous month. Highlights: National home sales rose by 1.8% from September to October. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was little changed (+0.1%) compared to October 2014. The number of newly listed homes was up 0.9% from September to October. The Canadian housing market remains balanced overall. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 6.7% year-over-year in October. The national average sale price rose 8.3% on a year-over-year basis in October; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 2.5%. The number of homes trading hands via MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose by 1.8 percent in October 2015 compared to September. As a result, national activity stood near the peak recorded earlier this year and reached the second-highest monthly level in almost six years. There was an even split between the number of markets where sales posted a monthly increase and those where sales declined. The national increase was driven by monthly sales gains in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia together with the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and surrounding areas, led by the York Region, Central Toronto, and Hamilton-Burlington. The continuation of low interest rates is supporting home sales activity, said CREA President Pauline Aunger. Even so, the strength of sales activity varies by location and price segment across Canada. All real estate is local, and REALTORS remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future. October extended resale housing market trends of recent months, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Single detached homes continue to be in short supply while demand for them remains strong in a number of active and populous housing markets in British Columbia and Ontario. Meanwhile, an ample supply of condo apartments remains. The balance between supply and demand is generally tighter for single detached homes than it is for condo apartments and thats unlikely to change any time soon. For that reason, price gains for single detached homes should continue to outstrip those for condo apartment units for some time.
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Canadian employment up in October; unemployment rate dips

11/7/2015

Canadian employment surged by 44,000 in October 2015, which was above mar- ket expectations for a 10,000 increase although with much of the gain appearing to be the result of temporary hiring for the October 19, 2015 federal government election. The October gain built on 12,000 increases in both August and Septem- ber. 35,000 of the increase in September were in part-time positions with full- time employment up 9,000. Public employment rose by 31,000, although private employment jumped by 41,000, with the offset from a 27,000 drop in self- employment in the month. The unemployment rate dipped to 7.0% after rising to 7.1% in September from 7.0% in August. The dip in October was despite a rise in the labour force, with the participation rate increasing to 66.0% from 65.9% in September. Hourly wages for permanent employees rose by 2.8% from a year ago, which was unchanged from Septembers pace.
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What is Mortgage Loan Insurance?

11/4/2015

Mortgage loan insurance is typically required by lenders when homebuyers make a down payment of less than 20%of the purchase price. Mortgage loan insurance helps protect lenders against mortgage default, and enables consumers to purchase homes with a minimum down payment of 5%with interest rates comparable to those with a 20%down payment. To obtain mortgage loan insurance, lenders pay aninsurance premium. The premium payable is based on a percentage of the homes purchase price that is financed by a mortgage. The premium can be paid in a single lump sum or it can be added to your mortgage and included in your monthly payments. Mortgage loan insurance is not to be confused with mortgage life insurance which guarantees that your remaining mortgage at the time of your death will not be a burden to your estate. If have less than 20% downpayment but want to get on the property ladder - Talk to me! I can help you source the best mortgage financing that fits your needs.
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Does your lifestyle fit a condo?

10/30/2015

There are many appeals and attractions that draw Canadians towards the condo life. Simplicity, efficiency, security, even glamour are all features that attract people to condominiums. But before making a down payment on your castle in the sky, you may want to reflect on the life youve already built and on your future plans to ensure that the home that has caught your eye is truly a good fit. If youre used to life in a traditional freehold house, you should be aware that condominium life is different. Condos have special legal status, and are governed by rules that vary from development to development. For example, condominium by-laws can include restrictions on things like pet ownership, renting space to third parties, or running a business in your home. Even smaller details like your choice of window coverings or patio furniture can be subject to regulation. When preparing to buy a condo, think carefully about both your lifestyle and your future plans. You may not have a pet or a home business currently, but they might appeal to you in future. You should also think about others who may live in the condo with you. Many condominiums are designated as single-family dwellings, which means you cant legally rent out a unit to tenants who are not related. If renting out an investment property or sharing space is part of your plan to make the condo affordable, its essential to know ahead of time whether renting to third parties is permitted. The rules that govern a condo complex can be extensive and complicated. A lawyer can help you review these to ensure that the development youre considering is free of restrictions that conflict with your plans. Remember: your lawyer will assess the legal issues associated with a condo purchase, but needs your input to review lifestyle factors, so its up to you to identify and communicate whats important to you. If you are interested in buying a condo as an investment or as a new home, talk to me! I can help you save more on your mortgage costs. source: newscanada
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Five ways the Liberals could Impact your mortgage

10/22/2015

The Liberals new majority gives them all the power they need to influence Canadas mortgage market. Interest rates, mortgage policy and affordable housing initiatives will all be affected. Heres some of what the mortgage market can expect from Mr. Trudeaus new government: Higher bond yields:Balancing the budget is not a priority for the Liberals until 2019. Trudeau is expected to go on a spending spree and bond traders arent keen about it. It suggests a greater supply of government debt and potentiallyhigher long-term yields to come. That, of course, could mean at least slightly higher fixed mortgage rates than wed otherwise see. Click here to read more. Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends
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Rebalanced Canadian Economy Supports Healthy Real Estate Markets Across the Country

10/14/2015

In the third quarter of 2015, home prices showed moderate to strong year-over-year increases in most markets in Canada, according to the Royal LePage House Price Survey released today. While the effects of the crude oil shock are still filtering through the economy, the countrys non-energy sectors are beginning to regain momentum as a lower Canadian dollar stimulates sharply higher exports, particularly to the U.S., supporting overall consumer confidence and the strength of Canadas real estate markets. According to the report and newly introduced Royal LePage National House Price Composite, comprising house values in 53 of the nations largest real estate markets, the price of a home in Canada increased 8.0 per cent year-over-year to $502,643 in the third quarter. The price of a two-storey home rose 9.9 percent year-over-year to $615,304, and the price of a bungalow increased 6.8 per cent to $421,757. During the same period, the price of a condominium increased 2.7 per cent to $338,945. Economic slowdowns in energy-dependent markets, most notably in western Canada, have in part been offset by both renewed industrial activity in other parts of the country and the Bank of Canadas recent interest rate cuts, said Phil Soper, chief executive officer, Royal LePage. In line with recent quarters, strong national home price increases are largely being driven by continued double-digit percentage increases in the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Vancouver, where housing affordability is already becoming a growing challenge for many individuals and families. Unlike the economic results seen in recent years, 2015 has been positive for Ontario, resulting in strong consumer confidence and increased housing market activity, continued Soper. The strength of the U.S. economy coupled with a lower Canadian dollar has greatly increased sales in Ontarios manufacturing and services export industries. Domestically, rising economic fortunes, underpinned in part by higher residential real estate values, provide consumer-driven support for a wide range of industries, from financial services to the auto sector, further sustaining economic momentum and housing demand in a number of Ontario regions. In the third quarter, Greater Toronto Area (GTA) home prices saw an aggregate year-over-year increase of 11.3 per cent across housing types surveyed, to a price of $612,261, while the price of a home in the City of Toronto climbed 11.2 per cent to $639,970. In a few cases, house prices in Torontos suburbs are outpacing those in central parts of the city. During the quarter, the median price of a standard two-storey home in Richmond Hill and Vaughan increased 18.6 per cent year-over-year to $963,561 and 18.0 per cent to $842,173, respectively, while the price in Toronto rose 17.1 per cent to $961,656. As homes in legacy central Toronto neighbourhoods move increasingly out of reach, we are observing that the more affordable areas in Southern Ontario, including the GTA suburbs, are experiencing substantial price appreciation and heightened sales activity levels, said Soper. Over the same period, British Columbias Lower Mainland region continued to see exceptional house price increases, with the price of a home in Greater Vancouver rising 12.9 per cent year-over-year to $928,532. As with Toronto, house price increases in some surrounding areas outpaced those in the city core. A notable difference is that these prices are now in excess of $1,000,000. The median price of two-storey homes in the cities of Richmond and Burnaby saw year-over-year increases of 23.5 per cent to $1,200,462 and 20.9 per cent to 1,184,385, respectively, while the price of a two-storey home in the City of Vancouver increased 17.3 per cent to $1,925,491. Meanwhile, the median price of a standard two-storey home in North and West Vancouver increased to $1,267,113, and $2,775,782, respectively. Overall, economic growth in British Columbia, in conjunction with migration into the province, continues to drive local housing activity. We expect this to continue through the balance of 2015, said Soper. Interestingly, so far in 2015, Vancouver job growth has not kept up with the leading regions of the country, which is at odds with the level at which its housing market is appreciating. This disconnect could reflect an inflow of retired homebuyers, but it also lends some credibility to the argument that housing in this market is being influenced by international buyer activity. After years of outpacing the rest of the country, Regina and St. Johns home price increases are now firmly below the national average, but are remaining stable. Calgary and Edmontons housing markets continue to hold firm, maintaining stability amid continued economic uncertainty. Regions in Atlantic Canada are showing mixed results, with a clear exception in Halifax which is showing healthy year-over-year price increases in most housing categories surveyed. Meanwhile, balance appears to be returning to major Quebec housing markets, as the lower Canadian dollar supports the provinces manufacturing and export sectors. Home ownership remains a bright light amid unsettled investment and savings options in volatile global capital markets. As we lead up to election day, its not surprising that all of the major political parties are acknowledging the housing sectors prominence as the foundation on which the economy has been built for years, and a critical foundation upon which Canadians can build their savings, concluded Soper. Beginning this quarter, Royal LePages House Price Survey includes the Royal LePage National House Price Composite comprising house values for 53 of the nations largest real estate markets through the use of a proprietary, custom-built system that analyzes a housing database containing millions of real estate transactions. The enhancements are made possible through Royal LePages collaboration with its sister company, Brookfield RPS, a leader in residential real estate data and analytics in Canada.
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$7.5 billion in Building Permits issued in August

10/7/2015

The total value of building permits decreased3.7% to $7.5billion in August, following increases of15.5% in June and0.7% in July (revised data). The decline was attributable to lower construction intentions in most provinces, mainly British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan. In the residential sector, municipalities issued $4.7billion worth of building permits, down5.1% from July. This was the first decline in three months. Decreases were posted in six provinces, with British Columbia posting the largest decline. Ontario registered the largest increase in the value of residential building permits. Construction intentions for non-residential buildings declined1.3% to $2.8billion in August, a second consecutive monthly decrease. Decreases were recorded in six provinces, led by Alberta, followed by Quebec and Saskatchewan. Ontario registered the largest increase in non-residential construction intentions. Municipalities issued $2.3billion worth of building permits for multi-family dwellings in August, down8.3% from the previous month. The largest decrease was in British Columbia, where the value of building permits for multiple dwellings had reached a record high in July. Alberta and Nova Scotia were a distant second and third. Ontario posted the largest increase in construction intentions for multi-family dwellings. Contractors took out $2.4billion worth of building permits for single-family dwellings in August, down1.9% from July. This was the first decline in three months. The decrease at the national level was attributable to lower construction intentions for single-family dwellings mostly in Ontario and, to a lesser degree, in Alberta. Conversely, Quebec and Saskatchewan saw the largest increases. The number of new dwellings approved by municipalities declined4.6% to18,709units. The decrease was attributable to multi-family dwellings, which fell5.6% to12,675units, and single-family dwellings, which declined2.4% to6,034units.
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Real estate rental and leasing and property management industries, 2013

10/1/2015

The non-residential leasing industry reported $45.4billion in operating revenue and $30.0billion in operating expenditures in2013, resulting in an operating profit margin of33.9%. Ontario had the largest share of operating revenue, accounting for42.0%, followed by Quebec (17.6%) and Alberta (15.9%). Lessors of residential buildings and dwellings generated $35.4billion in operating revenue in2013, while they reported $23.2billion in operating expenses and an operating profit margin of34.6%. Ontario generated35.6% of residential rental income, the largest share, followed by Quebec (26.9%) and British Columbia (15.6%). The real estate property managers industry generated $5.9billion in operating revenue in2013and reported operating expenses of $4.8billion. The industrys operating profit margin was18.8%.
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Stronger than expected home sales activity in British Columbia and Ontario says CREA

9/17/2015

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 for 2015 and 2016. Since CREAs forecast published in June, the outlook for oil and other natural resource commodities has deteriorated. As a result, the economic and employment backdrop has dimmed for provinces whose prospects rely on their production. But, the continuation of low interest rates and supportive demographics has resulted in stronger than expected home sales activity in British Columbia and Ontario. These two provinces account for approximately 60 per cent of Canadian housing activity, so stronger than expected trends in these provinces have contributed to an upward revision to CREAs forecast for national sales activity and average prices. The national average price has run higher than expected since CREAs last forecast, in part reflecting a jump in the proportion of higher priced home sales this spring and early summer in B.C.s Lower Mainland, in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Calgary. This trend now appears to be receding, causing the national average price to follow suit. However, recent trends in the MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) which is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is suggest that prices are still accelerating across much of B.C., in and around the GTA and Montreal. B.C. continues to see some of the strongest economic growth in the country, coupled with strong demographics. Home sales there have been drawing down inventories and boosting prices across the province. In Alberta, home sales have gone from setting records in 2014 to running at or below their 10-year average, as uncertainty surrounding the outlook for oil prices and employment continues to sideline potential homebuyers. In Ontario, the ongoing shortage of single family homes for sale in and around the GTA continues to drive very strong price gains. Record levels of activity in the province would likely be higher were it not for a shortage of low-rise homes coming onto the market. In Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, and most of Eastern Canada, supply remains elevated. Home prices outside of B.C. and Ontario are forecast to keep pace with or lag inflation, as elevated supplies are drawn down by sales and return to better balance. The forecast for national sales in 2015 has been revised slightly higher, reflecting stronger than anticipated activity in B.C. and Ontario. National sales are now projected to rise by 3.3 per cent to 495,800 units in 2015, marking the second strongest year on record for home sales in Canada. Across the country, British Columbia is projected to post the largest annual increase in activity in 2015 (+18.1 per cent). Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia are expected to post the largest annual sales declines (-21.6 per cent, -12.0 per cent, and -12.1 per cent respectively). Activity in Manitoba is forecast to rise by 2.2 per cent this year.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 1/2 per cent

9/9/2015

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1/2 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 3/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/4percent. Inflation has evolved in line with the outlook in the Banks JulyMonetary Policy Report(MPR). Total CPI inflation remains near the bottom of the target range, reflecting year-over-year price declines for consumer energy products. Core inflation has been close to 2 per cent, with disinflationary pressures from economic slack being offset by transitory effects of the past depreciation of the Canadian dollar and some sector-specific factors. The dynamics of GDP growth in Canada outlined in Julys MPR also remain intact. The stimulative effects of previous monetary policy actions are working their way through the Canadian economy. Canadas resource sector continues to adjust to lower prices for oil and other commodities, with some spillover to the rest of the economy. These adjustments are complex and are expected to take considerable time. Economic activity continues to be underpinned by solid household spending and a firm recovery in the United States, with particular strength in the sectors of the U.S. economy that are important for Canadian exports. Increasing uncertainty about growth prospects for China and other emerging-market economies, in contrast, is raising questions about the pace of the global recovery. This has contributed to heightened financial market volatility and lower commodity prices. Movements in the Canadian dollar are helping to absorb some of the impact of lower commodity prices and are facilitating the adjustments taking place in Canadas economy. While the overall export picture is still uncertain, the latest data confirm that exchange rate-sensitive exports are regaining momentum. Meanwhile, risks to financial stability are evolving as expected. Taking all of these developments into consideration, the Bank judges that the risks to the outlook for inflation remain within the zone for which the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate. Therefore, the target for the overnight rate remains at 1/2 per cent.
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What's trending in home décor

8/28/2015

Heres a look at some key trends being seen in homes across Canada, according to Karl Lohnes, a home interior and product design authority. Colour: Rooms will feel comforting and intimate with charcoal and butterscotch, two great neutrals. Bring them into your home from the floor to the ceiling and dont forget the windows. Bone is also the new white. The new hue helps to warm up the ever-popular greys and blues. Pattern/Textures: Natural, unembellished fabrics and furnishings are becoming increasingly popular. On the pattern front, plaid fabrics will replace summery gingham checks in fabrics and wallpaper. Furniture: Modern furniture shapes are still popular, but have a soft or round edge; reminiscent of Scandinavian styles from the 1970s and 1980s. At the Window: Heavy draperies that block views and natural light sources are being replaced by pared-down window treatments that let in light without looking dated. The Connected Home: Technology has become an expected feature in any new home and existing homeowners are also loving the wire-free aesthetic (and safety aspect) that it offers. Imagine being at work and having the ability to go online to close your window shades, turn on lights or change the temperature within your home. New PowerView Motorization, available on a wide array of Hunter Douglas window treatments, allows your shades to adjust themselves automatically.
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Newly built home? Think inspection before possession

8/24/2015

When buying a resale home, many prospective buyers hire a home inspector. Its not a requirement of course, but it makes sense. Why not check under the hood before spending all that money? When buying a new home from a builder things are very different. Often there is no house to inspect. There may not even be a hole in the ground. You are buying the future. It may take weeks, months or even years before you get to step over the threshold to that new home but when you do it should be for an inspection. In fact, builders are required to do a thorough, floor-by-floor walk through with you before they hand over the keys. This introduction to your new home is called a Pre-Delivery Inspection, or PDI. Its part of the new home warranty process. All new home builders in Ontario must provide a warranty that lasts for seven years on the homes they build. This first inspection may have implications on your warranty later on, so its crucial to pay close attention. Listen carefully, know what to look for and take notes. During the PDI, the builder will provide you with essential information about your new home, including how it works. Your builder will show you how to operate your homes systems, like heating, electrical, air conditioning, and plumbing, and provide you with operating manuals. It is also your chance to ensure there is no damage, everything is complete, nothing is missing, and everything is working properly. You should carefully examine both the interior and exterior. Look for things like chips in bathtubs and sinks, scratches on counter tops, damage to floors, walls, cabinetry or other finishes, and doors and windows that are not secure or do not open and close easily. Outside, check things like the quality of brickwork and siding, whether window screens have been installed, and the appearance of the driveway and landscaping. Sometimes, due to weather or other factors, you may not be able to inspect a certain item. If you are unable to assess something at the time, simply make note of it on the form. Feel free to take pictures of any damaged or incomplete items. If necessary, those photos can be submitted to Tarion at a later date. Your builder will note everything down on the PDI form. Review it carefully, make sure its complete and keep a copy. This form will become the official record of the condition of your new home before you moved in. Tarion which regulates new home builders and guarantees your new home warranty, may refer to your PDI form if there is disagreement over whether any damage occurred before or after you took possession. Even after the initial inspection is done, you should continue to inspect your homes condition regularly. If there are items that fall under warranty, your builder is responsible for resolving them, but if he/she doesnt, Tarion will step in. If you have any questions about your new homes warranty, visit www.tarion.com.
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The weekend is the perfect time to try out a dessert recipe!

8/21/2015

Check out this one from Ghirardelli chocolate! Torte: 6 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar, broken or chopped into 1-inch pieces 1 tablespoon instant freeze-dried coffee 3 tablespoons boiling water 6 large eggs, separated 2/3 cup granulated white sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt Frosting: 4 ounces Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate baking bar, broken or chopped into 1-inch pieces 1 tablespoon instant freeze-dried coffee 1/4 cup boiling water 2 cups heavy cream 1 ounce Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate baking bar, for shavings Directions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper. To make the torte, melt the bittersweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water; set aside. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, and increase the mixing speed to high and continue beating until stiff peaks form. In another large bowl, whip the yolks, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and the salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until thick, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the chocolate mixture and coffee; beat until well blended. Fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten. Then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake on the center oven rack for 25 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside for 5 minutes. Invert and transfer the pans to a wire rack (the centers will fall). Remove the waxed paper and cool completely. To make the frosting, melt the milk chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water; add all at once to the chocolate, stirring continually until smooth. Cool completely. In a large bowl, beat the cream at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. To assemble the torte, level the top of each layer by cutting off the raised edges with a long serrated knife. Place one layer on a serving plate. Spread the layer with 1 cup of the chocolate whipped cream. Top with the remaining cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the torte with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with bittersweet chocolate shavings. Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/veganfeast/4865230792
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Canadian home sales edge lower but remain strong in July reports CREA

8/17/2015

Highlights: National home sales edged back by 0.4% from June to July. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 3.4% above July 2014 levels. The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.2 per cent from June to July. The Canadian housing market remains balanced overall. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.9% year-over-year in July. The national average sale price rose 8.9% on a year-over-year basis in July; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 4.1%. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estateBoards and Associations declined by 0.4 per cent in July 2015 compared to June. While this marks the second consecutive monthly decline in activity, sales activity in May, June and July reached their highest monthly levels in more than five years. July sales were down from the previous month in about half of all local markets, led by declines in Hamilton-Burlington and in the Durham Region of the greater Toronto Area (GTA). The monthly decline in sales for these two markets represents a pullback from record levels inJune and likely reflects an insufficient supply of listings. By contrast, sales in Newfoundland and Labrador were up most on a month-over-month basis, marking a rebound from a quiet month of June for the province. National sales activity remains solid, fuelled by strength in British Columbia and the Greater Toronto Area, where listings are in short supply or trending that way, said CREA President Pauline Aunger. That said, markets elsewhere across Canada are largely well balanced and in some cases have an ample supply of listings. As always, all real estate is local and REALTORS remain your best source for information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future. Its fair to say that the strength of national sales is still a story about two cities, but its equally about how trends there are spreading out in their respective provinces, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Trends in British Columbia and Ontario have a big influence on the national figures, since they account for about 60 per cent of national housing activity. As a result, the national picture reflects how demand is running high for the short supply of single family homes in and around the GTA while the balance between supply and demand is tightening in B.C.s Lower Mainland. These remain the only places in Canada where home prices are growing strongly.
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Home prices up 1.2% in July

8/13/2015

In July the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price Index was up 1.2% from the previous month, a seventh consecutive monthly increase. The rise exceeded the 14-year July average of 1.0%. Prices were up on the month in six of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed 2.7% in Hamilton, 2.4% in Toronto, 2.3% in Ottawa-Gatineau, 1.7% in Victoria, 1.6% in Vancouver and 0.3% in Montreal. Prices were down on the month in Winnipeg (0.5%), Quebec City (0.6%), Edmonton (0.7%), Halifax (1.0%) and Calgary (1.9%). The composite index was at another all-time high in July, though only the Vancouver, Hamilton and Toronto component indexes matched it in this regard. The resale market in those three centres is a sellers market according to the Canadian Real Estate Association criterion of sales relative to new listings. In recent months sales have been rising strongly in all the markets surveyed except Halifax and Winnipeg, though in Calgary and Edmonton sales are still below their year-ago level. Teranet National Bank National Composite House Price Index In July the composite index was up 5.1% from a year earlier, the same as in June. The 12-month gain was well above the countrywide average in Vancouver (9.9%), Toronto (8.4%) and Hamilton (6.7%). It was below the average in Victoria (3.9%), Edmonton (1.9%), Winnipeg (0.9%), Quebec City (0.6%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (0.5%). Prices were down from a year earlier in in Montreal and Halifax (0.6%) and in Calgary (2.3%). With an index at 196.94 as of July, Vancouver just outpaced Winnipeg (195.89) as the metropolitan area where house prices increased the most since June 2005.
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Boost the value of your home with strategic updates

8/11/2015

(NC) Selling a home can be stressful. Between the constant cleaning and scheduling for countless showings, homeowners also want to make sure they get a fair price for their pride and joy. Not all sellers have a huge budget to revamp their homes prior to selling, says Nancy Peterson, home design expert. But there are always things that can be done in advance of listing it to increase interest among potential buyers. A few simple changes can make a big difference. Here are some of Petersons ideas to increase the value of your property: Small Projects:A fresh and neutral coat of paint, basic staging and newly mowed lawn can go a long way. Remove any overly personal items and clutter, so the potential buyers can imagine their own belongings in the home. Also consider adding a few chic updates like crisp new linens, a statement chandelier or sparkling bathroom mirror to make a lasting impression. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, this is a must for any seller. Medium Projects:With strong demand for open concept living, consider removing any non-structural walls for a more flexible space. Refresh cabinetry with new hardware and tile floors with fresh grout. Outside, work on the curb appeal of your home with any necessary landscaping that you may have been putting off, including sealing your driveway, staining your porch or deck, power washing the exterior and refinishing the front door. Large Projects:Kitchen and bathrooms offer the best return on investment, so if yours is outdated, its time to get an upgrade. Replace old tubs, toilets and sinks in the bathroom and update your kitchen appliances with modern stainless steel options and new countertops. Theres also no better time to switch out any wall-to-wall carpet for a more buyer-friendly laminate or hardwood option.
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Accessible housing design for tots to elderly parents

8/4/2015

People who inhabit and visit the houses we live in come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from infants to seniors, with various ever-changing abilities and skills. As we grow up, grow old and welcome new people to our homes, our housing needs change. A house that is designed and constructed to reflect the principles of universal design will be safer and more accommodating to the diverse range of ages and abilities of people who live in and visit these homes. Everyone appreciates havinga kitchen that is safe, spacious and easy to use. The successful design of a universally accessible kitchen starts with identifying potential users and anticipating their needs. DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS A universally designed kitchen is comfortable and safe for all family members. It considers all the design elements ofa kitchen: - its location in the house - location of appliances andworkspaces - floor, wall and counter surfaces - types of lighting - ways to reduce noise, and - overall use of colour and space. Ask yourself - Are you a gourmetcook or do you prefer to microwave prepared food? - Do you have a disability that affects the way you prepare food? - Are there usually two or three cooks in the kitchen at one time? - Does a caregiver do most of the cooking? - Do you have a child you need to keep an eye on while preparing meals? - Would a nearby space for homework be useful? These are important considerations that will help you identify your kitchen design requirements. If you are considering buying a new home and want to explore accessible kitchen designs, talk to me about a Purchase Plus Improvements mortgage. photo source:armchairbuilder.com/resources/how-to-build-your-own-home
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CMHC announces new rules for home owners with rental suites

7/29/2015

As of September 28th, 2015, CMHC will be changing its borrowing rules to help facilitate more affordable housing in Canada. Currently, home owners with legal rental units can use 50% of the rental income towards their total income which means that home buyers can borrow more money. When the new rules come into affect, borrowers can count 100% of the rental income towards their total income. Borrowers with less than 20% downpayment are required to buy mortgage default insurance which is available from CMHC, Genworth Canada and Canada Guarantee. So if you have less than 20% and are interested in buying a home with a legal rental unit, CMHC will be the insurer for you. But keep in mind that only legal units are eligible.Eligible 2-unit properties must be owner-occupied. The dwelling types are typically duplexes or single homes with a legal secondary suite. Some examples of typical secondary suites in 2-unit homes include self-contained basement rental suites, in-law apartments and garden suites (i.e. laneway homes). If you are considering buying a rental property, talk to me andIcan help you find the mortgage product that will suit your situation.
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How will Bank of Canada's rate cut impact you?

7/16/2015

As you might have seen in the news, the Bank of Canada cut its overnight rate to 0.5% from 0.75%. Here is what this change might mean to you. If you currently have a fixed rate mortgage, your mortgage payments will remain unchanged. However, if your mortgage is coming up for renewal in the next 16 months, now is the time to talk to your mortgage broker and discuss what your options are to save more of your money. If you have a variable rate mortgage, you may see your mortgage payments reduce over the next few months. The Variable rate is dependent on the lenders Prime Rate. The Prime Rate is set at the discretion of each lender and is influenced by a number of economic factors, one of which is the Overnight rate. For those who are thinking about opening a HELOC (Home Equity line of credit) to do an upcoming renovation or to put into a college fund the cost to borrow may come down along with the variable rate. If you have any questions about your home financing, feel free to contact me and I can help you work on a long term plan to reach your home ownership goals.
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Labour Market Boosts Canadian Real Estate in the Second Quarter

7/15/2015

Against the backdrop of mixed economic signals at home and abroad, Canadas real estate market remained healthy in the second quarter of 2015, with solid national average price appreciation across housing segments. Furthermore, the combination of high sales volumes and vigorous price appreciation in Canadas largest cities has put the national residential real estate market on track for a record year in terms of total sales. With most Canadian real estate markets across the country advancing modestly, and some rapidly, Royal LePage advises that a further interest rate cut by the Bank of Canada could over-stimulate markets such as greater Toronto and Vancouver. According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast released today, the average price of a home in Canada rose between 3.9 per cent and 7.5 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter. The detached bungalow segment had the highest national increase, rising 7.5 per cent year-over-year to $438,938, while standard two-storey homes appreciated 6.8 per cent to $471,002. During the same period, the average price of a condominium rose 3.9 per cent to $268,583. Looking ahead, Royal LePage forecasts that the average price of a home in Canada will increase 6.1 per cent for the full year when compared to 2014. The robust national average home price increases that we have seen in the second quarter are heavily influenced by activity levels in Toronto and Vancouver, said Phil Soper, president and chief executive officer, Royal LePage. The housing industry in both cities boasts a foundation of prosperous labour markets driving demand for housing that is in limited supply above average price increases arent going away any time soon. Looking to Canada as a whole, 2015 is shaping up to be a record year for housing, despite the cloud of economic uncertainty caused by low oil prices and twitchy global economies.
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What to do if your identity is stolen

7/13/2015

If you should fall victim to identity theft, it is important that you act quickly. Contacting the correct agencies and filing the necessary reports will go a long way toward minimizing any damage to your financial well-being. CREDIT BUREAUS Immediately contact the fraud departments of each of the credit bureaus listed on the back of this guide. Alert them that you are a victim of identity theft, and request that a fraud alert be placed in your file. You can also request a security freeze, preventing credit issuers from obtaining access to your credit files without your permission. This prevents thieves from opening up new credit cards or other loans. LAW ENFORCEMENT Report identity theft to your local police department. If the crime occurred somewhere other than where you live, you may wish to report it to law enforcement there as well. The police will create an identity theft report and give you a copy. PHONE BUSTERS Many law enforcement agencies encourage victims of identity theft to report their situation to PhoneBusters. PhoneBusters is a Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre managed jointly by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the RCMP and the Competition Bureau Canada. PhoneBusters plays a vital role in the collection and dissemination of victim evidence, statistics, documentation and tape recordings which are made available to outside law enforcement agencies. BANKS AND CREDIT CARD ISSUERS Report the theft to your credit card issuers and request replacement cards with new account numbers. Ask your bankto close affected accounts and obtain new account numbers there as well. If you have cheques stolen, you can also ask your bank to stop payment on any cheques about which you are unsure. (source: VISA)
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Housing starts increased in June from last month

7/9/2015

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 183,959 units in June compared to 179,908 in May, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The trend in housing starts increased this month as multiple starts trended upward, offsetting a downward trend in single-detached home starts, said Bob Dugan, CMHCs Chief Economist. The rise in the trend of multiple starts reflects a 53% increase in seasonally adjusted multiple starts from February to June 2015. Seasonally adjusted multiple starts are at their highest level since September 2012, but are expected to moderate over the coming months. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 202,818 units in June, up from 196,981 units in May. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 3.2per cent in June to 188,720 units. Multi-unit urban starts increased by 3.7per cent to 130,933 units in June, while the single-detached urban starts segment increased by 2.0per cent to 57,787 units. In June, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in British Columbia, Qubec, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, while it decreased in Ontario. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14,098 units.
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Vacancy Rate in Seniors’ Residences Reaches 8.1 Per Cent

7/7/2015

The vacancy rate for seniors residences decreased over the past year, reaching 8.1per cent in 2015, compared to 8.7per cent in 2014, according to theSeniors Housing Report Canada Highlightsreleased by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. As was the case in 2014, the increase in the total number of spaces for seniors in 2015 was slightly outpaced by an increase in the total number of residents, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC. This led to a decrease in the overall vacancy rate in 2015. Our survey makes the distinction between two types of spaces: standard and non-standard spaces. Standard spaces are those occupied by a resident paying market rent and who does not receive 1.5or more hours of care per day. A non-standard space is one in which the residents are receiving at least 1.5hours of care per day, spaces being used for respite and non-market spaces. Vacancy rates for standard spaces varied across the country, from a high of 12.1per cent in Ontario to a low of 4.6per cent in Manitoba. The vacancy rates for standard spaces in Saskatchewan (10.6per cent) and British Columbia (9.1per cent) were above the national average of 8.9per cent. The rates in Newfoundland and Labrador (8.5per cent), Alberta (8.1per cent), Nova Scotia (7.9per cent) and Qubec (7.3per cent) were below the national average. Across the country, the average rent for bachelor units and private rooms, where at least one meal is included in the rent, rose by 3.1per cent, to $2,107 per month in 2015, compared to $2,043 in 2014. The highest average rent was recorded in Ontario ($2,815), and the lowest, in Quebec ($1,521).
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5 things that may need a closer look next time you buy a house

6/29/2015

To help you protect that investment and find a safe, comfortable place for your family to call home, here is a list of some of the things you should look at before you buy a home, to make sure you wont end up having to pay for a lot of expensive repairs: Decks and porcheslook for signs of rotting wood, even under a fresh coat of paint. Soft spots or places where the wood is splintered could be a sign of more widespread damage. Electrical systemif you are buying an older home, find out if the electrical panel has been upgraded. If the service says 200 amps, it is an upgrade. A 60 or 100 amp panel has probably not been upgraded, and may not be enough to meet the electricity needs of your family. Floorswhat shape are the floors in? If the floors are hardwood, do they need to be sanded and refinished? Refinishing isnt very expensive, but it is easier if done before you move in, while the rooms are still empty. Heatingfind out how old the furnace is, and what kind of energy is used to heat the home. Natural gas is generally the least expensive option, but it is not available everywhere. Oil and electricity are common sources of energy in Canada but are more expensive, especially for a house with baseboard heaters. source: CMHC
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Provincial Outlooks: Ontario on the path to a bright year while Alberta will post a decline in GDP

5/28/2015

Although oil prices seem to have stabilized, Albertas economy will post an overall decline in real gross domestic product (GDP) this year, according to The Conference Board of CanadasProvincial Outlook: Spring 2015. Albertas economic performance will be underwhelming this year and next, especially compared with recent years, said Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial Forecast, The Conference Board of Canada. Oil prices remain well below break-even levels for most new projects in the oil patch, and conditions are not expected to turn around until sometime next year. Reminiscent of last year, the Ontario economy got off to a slow start this year. The weakness, however, will be temporary, as economic growth should pick up in the coming quarters. Overall, real gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to expand by 2.6per cent in 2015 and 2.3per cent in 2016. Ontario has not performed up to expectations, but the outlook over the short term remains positive, as strength in the United States economy will help bolster the province, said Bernard. Along with exports, consumer spending will continue to increase at a good pace in Ontario, fuelled by improving consumer confidence. Saskatchewans economy will feel the effects of the drop in oil-related activities in 2015. However, the province is not expected to fall into recession this year, as other industries will keep the economy growing. With the oil sector an important part of the Saskatchewan economy, the province is feeling the impact of lower oil prices. The number of wells drilled was down this past winter, and capital expenditures in the energy sector are not expected to recover until 2017, said Bernard. However, strength in potash and metal mining, as well as a rebound in the agriculture sector, will temper the impact of lower crude oil prices on Saskatchewans economy. Manitobas economic performance will be one of the strongest among the provinces in 2015 and 2016. Manitoba is expected to post real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent in 2015 and again in 2016, when it will lead all provinces. As a wind of change blows through the country thanks to the slide in oil prices, Manitoba will be one of the countrys strongest economic performers until at least 2016, said Bernard. Strong growth in construction, a rebound in agriculture, and stable domestic demand are expected to lift labour markets and increase disposable household income for Manitobans.
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Housing markets will remain stable says CMHC

5/26/2015

According to CMHCs second quarter 2015Housing Market Outlook, Canada Edition1, housing markets will remain stable with housing starts moderating slightly in 2015and 2016. There are, however, a number of risks and vulnerabilities that can affect the market outlook for Canada and each province. To account for these risks and vulnerabilities, CMHC produces forecast ranges for resale and new home markets. Lower oil prices are contributing to disparities between provincial housing markets. A slowdown in housing starts and resale transactions in oil-producing provinces such as Alberta will be partly offset by increased housing market activity in other provinces, such as Ontario and British Columbia, which benefit from the positive impacts of declining energy prices, a lower Canadian dollar and continued low mortgage rates, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist for CMHC. Moreover, since the inventory of completed and unabsorbed units remains above the historical average, we expect the pace of new home construction to moderate over the next couple of years as builders focus on managing the existing inventory, added Mr. Dugan. On an annual basis, housing starts are expected to range between 166,540 and 188,580 units in 2015, with a point forecast of 181,618 units. For 2016, housing starts are forecast to range from 162,840 units to 190,830 units, with a point forecast of 181,800 units. MLS2sales are expected to range between 437,100 and 494,500 units in 2015, with a point forecast of 475,400 units. In 2016, MLSsales are forecast to range from 424,500 units to 491,300 units, with a point forecast of 469,000 units. The average MLSprice is forecast to be between $402,139 and $439,589 in 2015, with a point forecast of $422,129. For 2016, the average MLSprice is forecast to be between $398,191 and $457,200, with a point forecast of $428,325. The gradual slowdown in the rate of price growth is explained by the expected change in the composition of MLSsales toward more moderately priced homes. Due to the recent decline in oil prices, our assessment is that there is more downside risk than upside risk to our forecast. CMHC Housing Market Outlook and other market analysis reports are available for download athttp://www.cmhc.ca/housingmarketinformation.
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Canadian home sales up again in April

5/19/2015

Highlights: National home sales rose 2.3% from March to April. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 10% above April 2014 levels. The number of newly listed homes was little changed from March to April. The Canadian housing market overall remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 4.97% year-over-year in April. The national average sale price rose 9.5% on a year-over-year basis in April; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 3.4 %. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 2.3 per cent in April 2015 compared to March. This marks the third consecutive month-over-month increase and raises national activity back to where it was during most of the second half of last year. April sales were up from the previous month in two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area, the surrounding Golden Horseshoe region, and Montreal. As expected, low mortgage interest rates and the onset of spring ushered many homebuyers off the sidelines, particularly in regions where winter was long and bitter, said CREA President Pauline Aunger. All real estate is local and REALTORS remain your best source of information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future. In recent years, the seasonal pattern for home sales and listings has become amplified in places where listings are in short supply relative to demand, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. This particularly stands out in and around Toronto. Sellers there have increasingly delayed listing their home until spring. Once listed, it sells fairly quickly. Sales over the year as a whole in Southern Ontario are likely being constrained to some degree by a short supply of single family homes. However, the busy spring home buying and selling season has become that much busier as a result of sellers waiting until winter has faded before listing. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in April stood 10.0 per cent above levels reported in April 2014. This marks just the third time ever that sales during the month of April topped 50,000 transactions. Sales were up on a year-over-year basis in about 70 per cent of all local markets, led by activity in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Greater Toronto, and Montreal. Of the 18 local markets that set new records for the month of April, all but two are in Southern Ontario. The number of newly listed homes was virtually unchanged (+0.1 per cent) in April compared to March. Below the surface, new supply rose in almost two thirds of all local markets, led by a big rebound in Halifax-Dartmouth following a sharp drop in March. This was offset by declines in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, and the Okanagan Region, as well as by a continuing pullback in new supply in Calgary. New listings in Calgary have dropped by one-third from their multi-year high at the end of last year to their current multi-year low.
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Housing starts decline slightly between March and April says CMHC

5/12/2015

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 179,299 units in April compared to 179,114 in March, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1of housing starts. Elevated levels of multi-unit starts during mid-2014 caused the trend to peak in September. Starts activity since then has trended down to current stable levels as builders have adjusted activity to manage inventories, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHCs Market Analysis Centre. This trend is in line with CMHCs expectations for housing starts in 2015. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 181,814 units in April, down from 189,546 units in March. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 6.6per cent in April to 165,445 units. Multi-unit urban starts decreased by 14.2per cent to 107,216 units in April while the single-detached urban starts segment increased by 11.4per cent to 58,229 units. In April, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Atlantic and British Columbia, while it essentially held steady in Ontario and decreased in the Prairies and Qubec.
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CMHC Releases Updated Results of its House Price Analysis

5/4/2015

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation(CMHC) released updated results today from its House Price Analysis and Assessment (HPAA) framework, which is designed to detect the presence of problematic conditions in Canadian housing markets. Modest overvaluation based on national indicators reflects a variety of price conditions across the country with some centres showing more signs of overvaluation than others. Likewise, housing market risk factors such as overheating, acceleration in house prices and overbuilding also vary by CMA said Bob Dugan, CMHCs Chief Economist. Toronto, Montral, and Qubec In our model these CMAs continue to indicate risks that exceed those at the national level, but remain moderate nonetheless. This largely reflects the detection of some risk of overvaluation in these centres, with an added note of caution for Toronto and Montral related to the risk of overbuilding. Condominium units under construction are near historical peaks. Inventory management is necessary to make sure that these condominium units under construction do not remain unsold upon completion. Regina and Winnipeg In these CMAs, the risk of problematic market conditions evident in our model is high. In Regina, this reflects price acceleration, overvaluation and overbuilding, particularly of condominium apartments. In Winnipeg, risk of overvaluation and overbuilding are detected. Calgary and Edmonton These CMAs are currently assessed as low overall risk, despite a risk of overvaluation in Calgary. However, MLSsales have declined in recent months in these CMAs, pushing the sales-to-new listings ratio to buyers market levels, reflecting the impact of lower oil prices on housing demand in these oil-producing centres. This is expected to place downward pressure on house price growth, which could lessen the current risk of overvaluation in Calgary. Vancouver Low overall housing market risk is observed for Vancouver, as none of the individual risk factors are currently detected. The HPAA is a comprehensive framework that is designed to assess housing market conditions by taking into consideration the economic, financial and demographic drivers of housing markets. The use of multiple indicators of housing conditions, which incorporate various data sources and prices measures, provides a robust picture of overall housing market conditions. The results released today include those for the national market as well as 12 CMAs Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montral, Qubec, St.Johns and Halifax.
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Changes in debt and assets of Canadian families 1999 to 2012

5/1/2015

Between1999and2012, the value of debt and assets held by Canadian families both rose. However, the debt and assets increased at different rates by category of family. In2012,71% of all Canadian families had some debt, up from67% in1999. Debt includes both mortgages and consumer debt such as car loans, lines of credit, vehicle loans, personal loans and student debt. Between1999and2012, the median debt held by indebted familiesthe value separating the top half of families with the most debt from the bottom halfincreased by $23,400(in2012constant dollars) to $60,100. To provide a complete perspective on household finances, it is important to also examine changes in the value of assets among families with debt. The median assets of Canadian families with debt rose by $179,800over the same period (in2012constant dollars) to $405,200. Assets include financial assets (employer pension and non-pension) and non-financial assets such as real estate assets. Such results suggest that the value of assets rose at least as rapidly as the value of debt for many Canadian families. In fact, median assets increased by80% while median debt was up by64%. Even though both debt and assets increased for nearly all types of families, the magnitude of the changes was not necessarily the same in all family categories.
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How to “Green” Your Bathroom Renovation

4/28/2015

Bathroom renovations are one of the most popular home improvement projects in Canada. Creating your dream bathroom can add greatly to both the value of your house, as well as your familys enjoyment of your home. But bathroom renovations also offer a number of opportunities to include several features that can dramatically improve the energy- and water-efficiency of your house, while making your home healthier and more comfortable. If youre thinking about renovating your bathroom, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips on how to make sure your renovation is as efficient, green and affordable as possible: Install low-flow faucets, showerheads and fixtures, as well as ultra-low flush toilets that consume 6litres of water or less per flush. Bathrooms account for about 75per cent of the water used in the average Canadian home. Water-efficient fixtures can significantly reduce the amount of water your family sends down the drain on a daily basis. To conserve resources and minimize your environmental footprint, select certified forest flooring and cabinetry, recycled countertops and tiles, and locally-sourced products and materials. Plus, choose materials, products and finishes that are low-emission, low-polluting, easy to clean and maintain, and which will remain in good condition for years to come. Plan for future renovations by making sure your bathroom will be able to adapt to changes in your needs as you or your family members get older. For example, make sure the controls and fixtures are within easy reach, install grab bars beside the toilet and bathtub, use a non-slip surface in the bathtub or shower, and install a shower head on a vertical slide bar so it can be set at a variety of different heights.
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Bank of Mom and Dad Expected to Fund Nearly Half of Upsizers and First-Time Buyers

4/24/2015

According to a 2015 Home Buying Report released, Canadian homeowners looking to upsize will be turning to their parents for financial help that is higher than the amount first time buyers are hoping to get from their family. In fact, 42 per cent of current home owners looking to upsize their home are expecting financial help from family. Another 42 per cent of first-time buyers are also expecting their parents or relatives to help pay for their first home, up 12 percentage points from last year. The BMO report also found: - Buyers looking to upsize plan to spend $473,900, while first-time buyers budgets have decreased slightly to $312,700 - down from $316,100 in 2014 - Upsizers plan to put down 26 per cent, or $123,214, as a down payment, while first-time buyers plan to put down 19 per cent, or $59,413 - First-time buyers who are depending on family help expect family to pay an average of 12 per cent of the average cost of a home towards their purchase; current home owners looking to upsize who are depending on family help expect family to pay an average of 20 per cent of the average cost of the home - 50 per cent of upsizers and 40 percent first timers who are depending on this help say they would not be able to afford a home without this financial help from family If you want to help your kids get into their first home, talk to me. I can help you and your family secure financing for a home!
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Should you renew your mortgage early?

4/21/2015

If you are 4 years or more into a 5 year term, should you consider an early renewal? A Manulife survey in 2011 found that almost 2 in 3 survey respondents didnt compare products from lenders when their mortgage was up for renewal. The number of Canadians who dont compare mortgage products are surprising considering the dollars that you could save just by asking a few questions. This is especially the case since the Bank of Canada decided to maintain an overnight rate of 0.75% in early March. This means that your newly negotiated rate will be lower than even the record lows we have experienced in the last 5 years. Here are some key questions you should ask your mortgage broker in order to make this important money saving decision: What penalties will you have to pay to renew your mortgage early? If you were to renew your mortgage early how much money would that save you in the long term? If you decide to sell your property before the term ends on your newly negotiated mortgage what impact will that have on your penalties? If you arent sure whether you should renew early, talk to me! Im here to help you with your mortgage decisions.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 3/4 per cent

4/15/2015

The Bank ofCanadatoday announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent. Total CPI inflation is at 1 per cent, reflecting the drop in consumer energy prices. Core inflation has remained close to 2 per cent in recent months, as the temporary effects of sector-specific factors and pass-through of the lower Canadian dollar have offset the disinflationary forces from slack in the economy. The Bank expects global growth to strengthen and average 3 1/2 per cent per year over 2015-17, in line with the projection in the JanuaryMonetary Policy Report(MPR). This is in part because many central banks have eased monetary policies in recent months to counter persistent slack and low inflation, as well as the effect of lower commodity prices in some cases. At the same time, economies continue to adjust to lower oil prices, which have fluctuated at or below levels assumed in the January MPR. Strong growth inthe United Statesis expected to resume in the second quarter of 2015 after a weak first quarter. The Canadian economy is estimated to have stalled in the first quarter of 2015. The Banks assessment is that the impact of the oil price shock on growth will be more front-loaded than predicted in January, but not larger. The ultimate size of this impact will need to be monitored closely. Underneath the effects of the oil price shock, the natural sequence of stronger non-energy exports, increasing investment, and improving labour markets is progressing. This sequence will be bolstered by the considerable easing in financial conditions that has occurred and by improving U.S. demand. As the impact of the oil shock on growth starts to dissipate, this natural sequence is expected to re-emerge as the dominant trend around mid-year. Real GDP growth is projected to rebound in the second quarter and subsequently strengthen to average about 2 1/2 per cent on a quarterly basis until the middle of 2016. The Bank expects real GDP growth of 1.9 per cent in 2015, 2.5 per cent in 2016, and 2.0 per cent in 2017. The very weak first quarter has led to a widening ofCanadasoutput gap and additional downward pressure on projected inflation. However, the anticipated recovery in growth means that the output gap will be back in line with its previous trajectory later this year. Consequently, the effects on core inflation of the lower dollar and the output gap will continue to offset each other. As the economy reaches and remains at full capacity around the end of 2016, both total and core inflation are projected to be close to 2 per cent on a sustained basis. Risks to the outlook for inflation are now roughly balanced and risks to financial stability appear to be evolving as expected. The Bank judges that the current degree of monetary policy stimulus remains appropriate and therefore is maintaining the target for the overnight rate at 3/4 per cent.
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Canadian Housing starts rebound in March

4/10/2015

The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 179,016 units in March compared to 180,236 in February, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts. Despite recent month-to-month changes in the SAAR, the trend in housing starts essentially held steady in March compared to February, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHCs Market Analysis Centre. However, the trend in housing construction has moved lower since September 2014, partly reflecting efforts to manage the level of completed but unsold units. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 189,708 units in March, up from 151,238 units in February. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 28.1per cent in March to 177,459 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 48.2per cent to 125,263 units in March while the single-detached urban starts segment decreased by 3.4per cent to 52,196 units. In March, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Ontario, British Columbia, Qubec and the Prairies, while it decreased in Atlantic.
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BMO Household Savings Report reveals 19 per cent of Canadians did not put any savings aside in 2014

4/7/2015

According to the BMO Household Savings Report, more Canadians are making saving a habit by using a fixed savings plan that includes monthly contributions. In fact, one-in-three Canadians (31 per cent) have a fixed savings plan in place heading into 2015, a year-over-year increase of 19 per cent. However, the report also found that 19 per cent did not save anything in 2014. Also, 40 per cent do not feel they are saving enough to meet their goals for the coming year, with one in three (31 per cent) citing their lack of a plan as a barrier. Furthermore, according to Statistics Canada, Canadas household saving rate hit a five-year low of 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Over the last 10 years, the average household savings rate is 4 per cent, down from 7.9 per cent during the 1990s.
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Genworth Canada Releases Winter 2015 Metropolitan Condo Outlook

4/2/2015

The long-predicted soft landing for condominium markets in cities across Canada is in sight for 2015, with modest gains in sales and prices in most major Canadian cities, according to the latest Conference Board of Canada condo report released by Genworth Canada. The Winter 2015 Metropolitan Condo Outlook forecasts positive condominium price appreciation in most major cities, with the exception of Calgary and Edmonton which are expected to experience some softening as a result of lower oil prices. From a national perspective, these findings support an overall balanced outlook on Canadas condo market for 2015, with the exception of certain oil-exposed regions, said Stuart Levings, President and CEO of Genworth Canada. We continue to see evidence that population growth and employment remain key drivers of demand for condos in urban centres. Divergent underlying economic conditions help to explain the majority of the regional differences in sales and prices. According to the report, Toronto and Vancouver will see the strongest GDP advances, while economic growth will be weakest in Calgary and Edmonton. This uneven economic backdrop, combined with growing inventories in some markets, is expected to trim starts in all but Quebec City, Ottawa, Vancouver and Victoria. Still, all eight cities are predicted to experience decent population growth over the forecast period, providing continued support for condominiums. While the health of apartment condominium markets varies significantly by region, nowhere do we see a bubble about to burst, said Robin Wiebe, Senior Economist at the Centre for Municipal Studies at The Conference Board of Canada. Resale prices for condominiums are expected to rise modestly in most of the eight cities during 2015, but drop in Calgary and Edmonton. British Columbia is poised to do well with resale price increases of 2.1% and 4.5% projected for Vancouver and Victoria respectively. Click here for the condo report.
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CPI rose 1.0% in the 12 months to February, matching the increase in January

3/31/2015

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose1.0% in the12months to February, matching the increase in January. Lower gasoline prices continued to be the largest downward contributor to theCPIon a year-over-year basis in February, posting a21.8% decline. However, Februarys decline was smaller than the26.9% year-over-year decrease observed in January. Excluding gasoline, theCPIincreased2.2% on a year-over-year basis in February, following a2.4% rise the previous month. On a non-seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the gasoline price index rose9.4% in February, following seven consecutive declines. This increase was the largest in almost eight years. Despite the monthly gain in February, gasoline prices were27.7% below their June2014peak. Prices rose in seven of the eight major components in the12months to February. Higher prices for food led the rise in theCPI, followed by increased shelter costs. The transportation index, which includes gasoline, declined on a year-over-year basis for the fourth consecutive month. Food prices advanced3.9% in the12months to February. Prices for food purchased from stores were up4.3% on a year-over-year basis in February, after rising5.4% the previous month. Price gains for meat (+12.4%), fresh vegetables (+8.4%) and fresh fruit (+3.5%) contributed the most to the February increase, although these gains were smaller than in January. Prices for food purchased from restaurants rose2.8% year over year in February. The shelter index rose1.8% on a year-over-year basis in February. Natural gas prices increased10.8% in the12months to February, while the cost of homeowners home and mortgage insurance rose8.6%. Consumers also paid3.8% more for electricity. In contrast, prices for fuel oil declined23.4% in February compared with the same month a year earlier. Transportation costs fell5.0% in the12months to February, following a5.3% decrease the previous month. In addition to paying lower prices for gasoline on a year-over-year basis in February, consumers paid1.0% less for the purchase of passenger vehicles. February marked the first year-over-year decrease in the purchase of passenger vehicles index since May2013.
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Asian Investors Lead International Commercial Investment in U.S. and Canada, says NAR Survey

3/25/2015

International investment in commercial real estate is dominated by Asian interests in bothCanadaand the U.S., according to anew surveyfrom the Richard J. Rosenthal Center for Real Estate Studies at REALTORUniversity and the National Association of Realtors. The survey found that 47 percent of Canadian respondents and 41 percent of those in the U.S. indicated that their international clients were from Asian countries. Commercial real estate has become a global industry, and Realtorsfrom across the U.S. andCanadanow regularly serve clients from all over the world, said NAR PresidentChris Polychron, executive broker with 1stChoice Realty inHot Springs, Ark.This survey proves the fact that while all real estate is local, not all investors are local. The survey was done in collaboration with the Canadian Real Estate Association and with assistance from the CCIM Institute and Institute of Real Estate Managers. Nearly 3,000 Realtorsanswered questions about their international commercial clients and the perceived changes they see in the demand for and utilization of office space. According to the survey, 45 percent of Realtorswho practice commercial real estate inCanadanoted an increase in international clients. Similarly in the U.S., more than a third of responders, 36 percent, observed an increase in international investment. The survey found that in the U.S., 22.5 percent of international clients came fromEurope, 21 percent fromLatin Americaand 20 percent from theMiddle East. InCanada, Realtorssaid 18 percent of international commercial real estate investment came from theMiddle East, 17 percent fromEuropeand 5 percent fromLatin America. It is important to note that the heaviest cross-border investment in commercial real estate continues to be between the U.S. andCanada. International investors brought significant capital intoNorth America, nearly$13 billionin the latter half of 2014. Investors fromAsiainvested$5.7 billionin real estate,$4.8 billioncame fromEurope,$1 billioncame from Oceania and$390 millioncame from Latin American investors. The survey also found a changing demand for office space in both the U.S, andCanada. Commercial clients are seeking more flexible office spaces, reducing the amount of personal space for workers and increasing the amount of communal space; 40 percent of Canadian respondents and 45 percent in the U.S. said their clients are looking for more open space in their offices. The location of offices spaces is also seeing a shift. InCanada, a majority of investors is looking at property in metropolitan areas with populations of more than 1 million. In the U.S., however, investors have begun moving away from larger markets into secondary and tertiary markets; more than one-third of U.S. respondents reported investors are interested in markets with populations less than 750,000. Highlights from the report are available atwww.realtoru.com/real-estate-studies/current-research-programs/international-commercial-real-estate-investment. A full copy of the report is available to news media upon request.
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Canadian home sales edge up in February

3/20/2015

According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity edged up slightly on month-over-month basis in February 2015. Highlights: National home sales edged up 1.0% from January to February. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.7% above February 2014 levels. The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5% from January to February. The Canadian housing market remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.01% year-over-year in February. The national average sale price rose 6.3% on a year-over-year basis in February. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose by one per cent in February 2015 compared to January. The monthly increase was led by Greater Vancouver, the Okanagan region, and Greater Toronto. Gains there offset sales declines elsewhere, with more than half of all local markets having posted weaker sales in February compared to January. A number of buyers across the Prairies stayed on the sidelines in February, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. Thats likely to remain an important part of the national housing story until the outlook for oil prices starts improving. Meanwhile, home sales in British Columbia and much of Ontario are improving, which underscores the fact that all real estate is local. Nobody knows this better than your local REALTOR, who remains your best source for information about the housing market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in February stood 2.7 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year, but remained five per cent below the 10-year average for the month of February. Sales came in below the ten-year average for the month of February in two-thirds of all local markets, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. That said, the opposite was true in a few large urban markets in British Columbia and Ontario despite a shortage of listings there, which is fuelling prices higher. The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5 per cent in February compared to January, led by Greater Vancouver, the Okanagan region, and Calgary. New listings in Calgary have retreated in recent months after having climbed sharply toward the end of last year. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 52.2 per cent in February. With sales up and new listings down, this marked an increase from 50.4 per cent in January.
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Calculate how money-smart you are

3/16/2015

Do you have a household budget? Do you know how much youll need to save to maintain your lifestyle in retirement? Do you know how to get your credit report? If you dont consider yourself particularly money-savvy, youre not alone. Nearly two-thirds of Canadians taking part in the 2014 Canadian Financial Capability Survey (CFCS) rate their own financial knowledge as poor. The CFCS tests peoples financial know-how in five basic areas: keeping track, making ends meet, planning, staying informed and choosing products. The 2014 survey found that fewer than half of Canadians bother to take the most important first step in personal financial managementmaking a household budget. In fact, the number of people who do has gone down since 2009. While almost 70 percent of those surveyed said they have no problem keeping up with their bills, three in 10 struggle to make their regular payments, and six in 10 do not know how much money theyll need to save for retirement. There is some good news however: More parents are saving for their childrens post-secondary education today than five years ago, while the number of new immigrants who use TFSAs rose from 13 percent to 33 percent. According to Financial Literacy Leader, Jane Rooney, The lack of financial knowledge continues to be a problem. Statistics show Canadian households are dealing with record levels of debt and with chronically low rates of saving. Those interested in measuring their own financial literacy can use a self-assessment quiz on the website of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: ItPaysToKnow.gc.ca. The quiz shows the users strength or weakness in each of the five key areas, and compares the results to those of other Canadians. Also on the site is the portal to the Canadian Financial Literacy Database, which will guide you to resources and tools to improve your knowledge about money. www.newscanada.com
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How Canadians are keeping their home warm

3/10/2015

How Canadians keep their homes warm in winter depends on which part of the country they call home. Data from the2013Households and the Environment Survey reveal that those from Ontario and in the West mostly opt for forced air furnaces burning natural gas. In Quebec and in the East, it is electric powered baseboard heaters and furnaces using heating oil that are found in an overwhelming majority of households. Heating Forced air furnaces were the most common type of heating system reported as a households primary heating system (53%), followed by electric baseboard heaters (28%). Those figures were unchanged from2011. Forced air furnaces were the dominant type of heating system in Ontario (73%) and the Prairie provinces (between73% and83%). Households in Quebec (64%), Newfoundland and Labrador (59%) and New Brunswick (52%) were all more likely to have reported electric baseboard heaters. Forced air furnaces and boiler systems each accounted for about one-third of the primary heating system of households in Prince Edward Island. The type of heating system used is strongly tied to the types of fuel available In general, natural gas is available to most households from Ontario to British Columbia, with households in some parts of Quebec also having access. In Quebec and Atlantic Canada, heating oil replaces natural gas as the most common petroleum-based type of energy available. Cooling Unlike heating, cooling the home is optional for most Canadian households. In2013, over half of Canadian households (55%) reported having an air conditioner, a slight increase from2011. Two-thirds of the households that had an air conditioner had a central air conditioning system, while the other third had standalone systems, such as those mounted in windows or that could be moved from room to room. Air conditioners were most commonly reported by households in Manitoba (80%), Ontario (78%), Saskatchewan (67%) and Quebec (54%), and less frequently in Prince Edward Island (23%), British Columbia (21%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (9%). Households in provinces with higher rates of having an air conditioner were more likely to have had central air conditioning systems than standalone units.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 3/4 per cent

3/4/2015

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent. Total CPI inflation in Canada has fallen as expected, reflecting the significant drop in oil prices. Core inflation remains close to 2 per cent and continues to be temporarily boosted by the pass-through effects of the lower Canadian dollar, as well as sector-specific factors. The global economy is evolving broadly in line with projections in the Banks JanuaryMonetary Policy Report(MPR). The United States remains the main source of momentum in the global economy, while headwinds to growth linger in many regions. In this context, a growing number of central banks have taken actions to ease monetary conditions. Crude oil prices are close to the Banks MPR assumptions. Canadian economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2014 was consistent with the Banks expectations. The oil price shock had a modest early impact on aggregate demand, and a larger effect on income. The Bank continues to expect that most of the negative impact from lower oil prices will appear in the first half of 2015, although it may be even more front-loaded than projected in January. Nevertheless, data for 2014 as a whole suggest the anticipated rotation into stronger growth in non-energy exports and investment is well underway. Financial conditions in Canada have eased materially since January, in response to the Banks recent monetary policy action and to global financial developments. This easing is reflected across the yield curve and in a wide range of asset prices, including the Canadian dollar. These conditions will mitigate the negative effects of the oil price shock, further boosting growth through stronger non-energy exports and investment. In light of these developments, the risks around the inflation profile are now more balanced and financial stability risks are evolving as expected in January. At present, we judge that the current degree of monetary policy stimulus is still appropriate and the target for the overnight rate remains at 3/4 per cent.
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Canadian home sales dip in January

2/25/2015

According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity was down on a month-over-month basis in January 2015. Highlights: National home sales fell 3.1% from December to January. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.0% below January 2014 levels. The number of newly listed homes rose 0.7% from December to January. The Canadian housing market remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.17% year-over-year in January. The national average sale price rose 3.1% on a year-over-year basis in January. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations fell 3.1 per cent in January 2015 compared to December 2014. January sales were down from the previous month in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets. On a provincial basis, the monthly decline largely reflected fewer sales in Alberta and Saskatchewan. As expected, consumer confidence in the Prairies has declined and moved a number of potential homebuyers to the sidelines as a result, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. By contrast, housing market trends in the Maritimes are continuing to improve, which underscores the fact that all real estate is local. Nobody knows this better than your local REALTOR, who remains your best source for information about the housing market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in January stood two per cent below levels reported in the same month last year, marking the first year-over-year decline since April 2014. Comparing sales activity for January this year to sales one year earlier, there was a fairly even split between the number of markets where sales were up versus the number of markets where sales were down, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. The decline in national sales largely reflects weakened activity in Calgary and Edmonton. If these two markets are removed from national totals, combined sales activity remained 1.9 per cent above year-ago levels. The number of newly listed homes rose 0.7 per cent in January compared to December. New supply climbed higher in just over half of all local markets, led by Edmonton and Greater Toronto. By contrast, Greater Vancouver, Calgary, and Regina posted the largest monthly declines in new listings. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 49.7 per cent in January, marking the first time this measure of market balance has dipped below 50 per cent since December 2012. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers and buyers markets, respectively. The ratio was within this range in more than half of all local markets in January. The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. There were 6.5 months of inventory nationally at the end of January 2015, its highest reading since April 2013. As with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the reading for the number of months of inventory still indicates that the national market remains balanced. The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI rose by 5.17 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January. This continues the trend, in place throughout 2014, where year-over-year price gains held steady between five and five-and-a-half per cent. Year-over-year price growth held steady in January for one-storey single family homes and decelerated for other Aggregate Benchmark housing types tracked by the index. Two-storey single family homes continued to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+6.57 per cent), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+5.00 per cent) and one-storey single family homes (+4.61 per cent). Price growth remained comparatively more modest for apartment units (+3.11percent). Price gains varied among housing markets tracked by the index. As in recent months, Calgary (+7.76 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.47 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+5.53 per cent) continued to post the biggest year-over-year increases. That said, while prices in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto continue to trend higher, the trend for prices in Calgary has been fairly stable since last summer while year-over-year gains continue to shrink. In other markets from West to East, prices were up on a year-over-year basis in the Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island, while remaining stable in Saskatoon, Ottawa, and Greater Montreal. By contrast, prices declined on a year-over-year basis in Regina and Greater Moncton. The MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends than is possible using averages because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in January 2015 was $401,143. This represents an increase of 3.1 per cent year-over-year and the smallest increase since April2013. The national average home price remains skewed by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canadas most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $312,280, which represents a year-over-year decline of three tenths of one per cent.
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Home Buying costs you don't know about

2/19/2015

If you are buying your first home, chances are you are stretching your savings to the max. Depending on your situation, you may have some other initial expenses to consider: Moving expenses Whether youll be hiring a moving company or renting a truck and asking friends for help, there are likely to be moving expenses. Renovations or repairs Can renovations or repairs be delayed, or are some necessary to do immediately? Condominium Fees Do you have to make the initial payment for these monthly fees? Service connection fees Telephone, gas, electricity, cable TV, satellite TV, Internet, and so on, may charge service connection fees. Some utilities may ask you to pay a deposit. Appliances Does your new homecome with appliances? Do you already have your own? Gardening equipment Will you need to buy gardening equipment the first summer in your new home? Snow-clearing equipment Will you need to buy snow-clearing equipment the first winter in your new home? Window treatments Do blinds or curtains come with the house? Decorating materials Do you want to re-paint or apply wallpaper? Do the floors need to be refinished or re-carpeted? Do you have all the tools you need for decorating? Hand tools Do you have the basic hand tools youll need for your new home? Dehumidifier Will you need a dehumidifier to control moisture levels? Check out this short video to learn more about home buying costs that you may not know about.
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Action Canada taskforce releases report on innovative finance for urban spaces and places

2/6/2015

Five Fellows in the Action Canada leadership development program will release a policy report on innovative finance for urban spaces and places. Action Canadas 2014-2015 theme focuses on Canadian cities. Urban public spaces - such as streetscapes, parks, bike paths and green spaces - enhance a citys quality of life and competitiveness by attracting the skilled workers and investment that fuel economic growth. However, municipalities today face tight budgets. Attention to urban spaces and places often takes a backseat to traditional infrastructure needs such as roads, bridges, water and sewers. As a result, innovative finance mechanisms - such as crowdfunding, municipal bonds and community bonds - are emerging that are being used to fund the development of urban public spaces. The policy report, Financing Future Communities: innovative finance for urban spaces and places, examines innovative finance mechanisms and makes recommendations to help governments and cities engage with these emerging tools.
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How the BoC overnight rate cut affects homeowners

1/29/2015

The Bank of Canada recently announced a cut to the overnight rate recently from 1% down to .75%. This can be seen as a proactive approach to protect the Canadian economy from the potential risks due to lower oil prices. Heres what this cut to the overnight rate might mean to you. The 5 year fixed bond rate (which determines the 5 year fixed mortgage rates) has dropped below 1.00%. This means fixed rate could potential come down even lower than the record lows that we currently have.Chances are lenders will be offering very attractive Variable and 5 Fixed rates for the upcoming spring market. In fact as of January 28, some lenders have already announced a drop in their fixed rates. If you currently have a fixed rate mortgage, your mortgage payments will remain unchanged. However, if your mortgage is coming up for renewal in the next 16 months, now is the time to talk to your mortgage broker and discuss what your options are to save more of your money. If you have a variable rate mortgage, you may see your mortgage payments reduce over the next few months. The Variable rate is dependent on the lenders Prime Rate. The Prime Rate is set at the discretion of each lender and is influenced by a number of economic factors, one of which is the Overnight rate. For those who are thinking about opening a HELOC (Home Equity line of credit) to do an upcoming renovation or to put into a college fund the cost to borrow may come down along with the variable rate. Dropping the Overnight rate was an unexpected decision by the Bank of Canada which will impact all home owners. If you have any questions about your home financing, feel free to contact me and I can help you work on a long term plan to reach your home ownership goals.
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Multi-Family Real Estate Sector Contributes $24 Billion to Canadian Economy, Supports 140,100 Jobs

1/12/2015

Capital investment in the multi-family real estate sector totaled $10.1 billion in 2013, according to a report released by the Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac) titled The Contribution of the Multi-Family Real Estate Sector to the Canadian Economy. Some $2.9 billion was spent on new buildings, with the rest ($7.2 billion) invested in capital improvements, renovations and the upgrading of existing buildings. The ongoing operations of multi-family rental buildings also generated about $1.3 billion in building management fees and approximately $211 million in brokerage fees from sales and leasing of multi-family rental buildings in 2013. According to Thomas Schwartz, President CEO of CAPREIT, Canada is fortunate to have an efficient and responsible multi-family real estate industry. Landlords, large and small, continue to invest in rental housing, which is an integral part of the Canadian housing spectrum. This provides a wide range of housing options for over 4 million tenants across the country. Taken together, the construction and investment in multi-family rental buildings and the ongoing operation of these buildings make a substantial contribution to the Canadian economy, producing $24 billion in annual economic activity. These activities add to the economy in various ways by: Supporting 140,100 jobs each year, many of which are high-paying professional jobs; Generating $8.3 billion in income, related to personal income and other sources of income; Generating $5.0 billion in corporate profits earned by many small and medium companies, and some of the largest companies in Canada, such as pension funds and insurance companies; and Contributing $3.1 billion in personal and corporate income tax revenues for the federal and provincial governments. The multi-family rental sector plays an important role in Canadas economy. The development and construction of multi-family rental buildings and their daily operations directly support thousands of work opportunities for Canadians and adds tremendous value to Canadas gross domestic product. In addition, the sector represents a significant share of the housing stock in Canada, providing shelter to millions of Canadians. In addition, owners of the multi-family rental buildings contribute substantial revenue to municipalities and school boards across Canada through realty taxes.
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How much you need to earn to buy a house in every major Canadian city

1/9/2015

Many say property is the best investment you can make. Bursting housing bubbles and mortgage scandals aside, theyre usually right. The price of making that investment varies widely in Canada, depending on where you live. We looked at how much you need to earn to buy a house in every major Canadian city. To get these numbers, we consulted Adrian Williams, a Toronto mortgage broker, and used his calculator found here. He explained that to calculate the income required you need to know the purchase price, down payment, rate, utilities mortgage qualifying must include a minimum of $100 a month for heating costs and taxes. We got the average purchase price per city from the Canadian Real Estate Association, and Williams provided the property tax rates. At his suggestion we used a 2.99% interest rate, which is the average qualifying rate for a 5-year fixed term. We used a down payment of 10% of the purchase price and calculated $100 a month for utilities. According to Williams, Other factors that will be included with mortgage qualification are the total monthly payment obligations from credit card, LOCs, personal car loans, car lease and other types of credit that require a monthly payment. Here is what you need to earn to buy a house in every major Canadian market. (Numbers are rounded to the nearest dollar.) Vancouver Average price: $819,336 Monthly mortgage payment: $3,570 Property tax: $251 Income required: $147,023 Calgary Average price: $465,047 Mortgage mortgage payment: $2,026 Property taxes: $236 Income required: $88,578 Edmonton Average price: $365,520 Mortgage payment: $1,592 Property tax: $244 Salary required: $72,617 Regina Average price: $331,161 Monthly mortgage payment: $1,443 Property tax: $378 Income required: $72,028 Saskatoon Average price: $349,322 Monthly mortgage payment: $1,522 Property tax: $366 Income required: $74,546 Winnipeg Average price: $270,605 Monthly mortgage payment: $1,179 Property tax: $274 Income required: $58,235 Ottawa Average price: $357,887 Monthly mortgage payment: $1,559 Property tax: $336 Income required: $74,820.28 Toronto Average price: $587,505 Monthly mortgage payment: $2,560 Property tax: $354 Income required: $113,009 Montreal Average price: $344,273 Monthly mortgage payment: $1,500 Property tax: $237 Income required: $68,884 Halifax Average price: $264,447 Monthly mortgage payment: $1,152 Property tax: $266 Income required: $56,929 Original article posted in the Toronto Star
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Entering 2015, personal financial confidence takes a hit

1/7/2015

A poll conducted by Nielsen finds that two-thirds (65 per cent) of Canadians are entering the new year feeling confident they will reach their financial goals, a decline from the same poll last year (76 per cent), and the lowest number in five years. Canadians aged 45 and up accounted for most of the decline, while younger Canadians remained confident about the future. Canadians aged 45-54 were among the least confident this year, with only 58 per cent feeling confident about reaching their financial goals, a decrease from 77 per cent in the same age group just last year Among Canadians aged 55-64, 61 per cent feel confident about reaching their financial goals, down from 74 per cent last year By comparison, 75 per cent of Canadians aged 25-44 said they are confident they will reach their financial goals, relatively unchanged from a year ago (76 per cent) Another recent poll from CIBC showed that paying down debt is the number one financial priority for Canadians for the fifth year in a row, with those nearing retirement even more focused on debt than Canadians on average. We are seeing a real conflict among Canadians close to retirement, who are trying to balance their short term need to reduce debt with the longer term goal to save for the retirement they want, says Christina Kramer, Executive Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. As Canadians approach traditional retirement age it can be a challenge to keep focused on both, and that can impact their overall confidence in their future finances. This decline in confidence among boomers is the most significant weve seen in five years, says Ms. Kramer. As each year goes by and boomers increasingly focus on debt reduction as an immediate priority, they also get closer to retirement without a long term plan in place that will deliver the retirement they are looking for. Having a financial plan that addresses all economic conditions can help build the personal financial confidence they may be seeking.
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Busy year ahead for B.C.'s construction industry

12/30/2014

A new survey released by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. (ICBA) reveals that B.C.s open shop construction companies expect 2015 to be even busier than 2014. This is welcome news because the construction industry is a strong indicator for the rest of the economy, said Philip Hochstein, president, ICBA. If our guys are busy, then we know our economy is doing well. The survey revealed that 47 per cent of companies are predicting increased work in 2015 and 50 per cent believe their business volume will stay the same. One of the biggest surges in business is in the north with 58 per cent expecting an increase in work in 2015. Overall, the expected change for 2015 is nine per cent higher than the net change predicted for 2014. In construction, excavators are the canary in the coal mine, added Hochstein. We are seeing that they are even more confident than last year. This bodes well for the entire industry. When there are holes in the ground, it means were building, growing and attracting investment to our province. The ICBA commissioned Sentis Market Research Ltd. to survey its members in November 2014. The survey also revealed that companies are largely looking to hire more tradespeople in order to meet the rising demand. Four times as many companies plan to add employees than to increase existing employee hours (42 per cent versus 10 per cent). This continues the trend from 2014 when 35 per cent were planning to hire and 8 per cent were planning to increase hours. The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. services and represents B.C.s construction sector. ICBA is the single largest sponsor of construction apprentices and trains the largest number of management personnel in B.C. Our 1,200 members build in the multi-family residential and Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) construction sectors and are involved in virtually all major capital projects in British Columbia. SOURCE Independent Contractors And Businesses Association of BC (ICBA)
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Manulife Asset Management Shares Investment Insights in "Global Intelligence: The Year Ahead"

12/27/2014

Manulife Asset Management has issued its annual Year Ahead report, which highlights monetary policy divergence, the need for structural reform in many economies, declining oil prices and a strengthening U.S. dollar as key topics of interest to investors in 2015. Drawing together the individual views from Manulife Asset Managements investment and economic teams on the ground in the U.S., Canada, Europe and in ten markets across Asia, the report addresses the outlook for 15 investment areas and asset classes - including fixed income, equities, commodities and asset allocation. Accompanied online by an interactive map showing global growth and inflation forecasts as well as a video featuring Chief Economist Megan E. Greene, the report is available at: www.manulifeam.com. The year ahead is likely to see the global economy caught in a tug-of-war between a modest recovery in the U.S. on one hand and a slowdown in China and low-to-no-growth in Japan and Europe on the other, says Ms. Greene. We expect these competing influences to keep global growth bumping along a baseline of around 2.5 percent. Among the insights covered in the report: Monetary policy divergence With the U.S. and UK likely tightening, other major economies are likely to loosen monetary policy or continue in a holding pattern. The timing of a U.S. interest rate rise is uncertain but experts agree that it is unlikely to happen until the second half of 2015 at the earliest, and possibly may be delayed until early 2016. The need for signs of progress towards structural economic reforms particularly in Japan, Europe and emerging markets. Impact of a stronger U.S. dollar on global economies and markets A repeat is not expected of 2013s taper tantrum, which resulted in outflows from Emerging Markets and Asia. Views from Manulife Asset Managements investment teams are also quoted in the report: The Global Multi-Sector Fixed Income team outlines why it will be important for Japan, Europe and emerging countries in Latin America to make progress with needed structural reforms in 2015, in order to regain the confidence of investors. The team believes we are in the midst of a multi-year uptrend in the U.S. dollar and suggests it will be vital for investors to understand the impact of this in the year ahead. The Asian Fixed Income team provides a local perspective from 10 bond markets in Asia on why they will continue to focus on credit with relatively short duration due to the potential for a rise in interest rates. The team expects to be overweight carefully selected credit issuances which offer higher spreads including high yield credit and favor hard currency bonds in the year ahead. The Emerging Market Debt team explains why 2015 is not a year for simply getting beta by accessing the market indiscriminately. Rather, they advise focusing on discerning those emerging markets that are likely to be the most resilient in the current economic environment and to avoid weaker markets that may struggle to push through the longer-term reforms needed to put their economies on a surer footing. The U.S. Equities team believes U.S. equity returns could be in the high single digits in 2015 if the economies of its trading partners stabilize. They also explain why they see particular opportunities in the U.S. financial, housing and energy sectors. The Asian Equities team outlines the attractive valuation opportunities in some Asian markets, notably South Korea and Taiwan. They find that many Taiwanese companies have robust balance sheets and therefore are well-positioned to pursue growth while at the same time maintaining decent dividend pay-outs to shareholders. From the Global Natural Resources team, a view on oil prices: If prices remain weak over a longer period the team expects investment in future production to be curtailed as the average supply cost for industry break-even is closer to $90 to $100 per barrel. Over the long run, the team anticipates oil prices to range between $80-$100 to sustain investment to meet future oil demand needs.
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Canadian home sales hold steady in November

12/15/2014

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity was unchanged on a month-over-month basis in November 2014. Highlights: National home sales were unchanged from October to November. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.7% above November 2013 levels. The number of newly listed homes edged down 0.4% from October to November. The Canadian housing market remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.2% year-over-year in November. The national average sale price rose 5.7% on a year-over-year basis in November. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations was unchanged in November 2014 compared to October. As a result, activity remains much improved compared to the quiet start to the year. November sales strengthened in half of all local housing markets, with monthly increases in Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton- Burlington, Barrie, and Windsor-Essex tempered by a monthly decline in the Greater Toronto Area. The Canadian housing market remains a story about how sales and prices are still running strong in some areas while others are seeing subdued levels of activity with slower price gains or modest price declines, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. All real estate is local and your REALTOR remains your best source for information about how the housing market is shaping up where you currently live or might like to in the future. The effect of lower oil prices on Canadas housing markets is something of a wildcard at the moment, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Its not clear how far oil prices may drop or for how long theyll stay down. How that plays out may affect the outlook for interest rates, job growth, consumer confidence, and sentiment about making major purchases.
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Plans to build up in BC, AB and SK according to new building permit numbers

12/8/2014

The total value of building permits was $7.5billion in October, edging up0.7% from September. The increase came mainly from higher construction intentions in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The value of non-residential building permits increased2.4% from the previous month to $3.1billion in October. Gains were posted in five provinces, led by British Columbia, followed by Quebec, a distant second. Yukon also posted a noticeable increase in October. Ontario registered the largest decrease, following a notable increase in September. In the residential sector, the value of permits edged down0.4% to $4.5billion in October, following a7.4% increase in September. Residential construction intentions fell in five provinces, with Quebec and Ontario accounting for most of the decline at the national level. Alberta and Nova Scotia posted the largest increases. Provinces: Large increase in British Columbia The total value of permits increased in four provinces in October, led by British Columbia, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan. British Columbias gain was primarily attributable to higher construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings. In Alberta, all components, except institutional buildings, were responsible for the increase, while in Saskatchewan, the advance was the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and industrial buildings. After posting a38.0% gain in September, Ontario posted the largest decline in October. This decrease was due primarily to lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings, following large increases in both components a month earlier. Manitoba was a distant second, with a decrease in construction intentions for non-residential buildings.
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Quick tips and answers about RESPs

11/28/2014

(NC) New parents have hundreds of questions and well-meaning family and friends have plenty of advice when it comes to putting money aside for education of children. But how do you know what is really right for you and your family? As one example, lets examine the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Why save with an RESP? Firstly, as your savings earn interest, that income is not taxed. Significant government grants also contribute to your savings potential. In an RESP, your contributions can grow much faster than in a regular savings account. When shopping for the right provider, look for funds that wont be impacted by stock market performance. For example, a new Canadian company called giraffe friends, offers a worry-free guarantee. With that safeguard in place, even if the stock market crashes, your money is secure. The biggest advantage of an RESP is the government support like the Canadian Education Savings Grant. It will add an extra 20% to your contributions, with a total contribution cap of $7,200 over the life of the RESP. There are also multiple provincial grants available dependent on your income and province. Not all RESPs are created alike. When researching your options, keep an eye out for activation fees and management expense ratios (MERs), which can put a dent in your savings. giraffe friends tell us they have launched a first-of-its-kind no-fee, guaranteed RESP to take the uncertainty out of investing in your childs future. Its an ideal solution for people seeking risk-free savings without typical bank fees or the stress of worrying about an investment strategy. It allows you to spend more time with your kids, not your financial advisor and with an online company, youre spared the hassle of having a representative come to your house. When it comes to your childs education decisions, the RESP is more flexible than you might think. It will support most post-secondary education that results in a degree, diploma, or occupational skill. This means that you can give your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew, or family friend) the best possible head start for success in life. More information is available online at giraffeandfriends.com.
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Shift into winter driving

11/20/2014

An early blast of winter will make for a messy and slow commute across Canada this week. Thats why CAA is reminding members to be prepared for higher than normal call volumes and longer than normal wait times. Remember that winter driving takes a change in mindset and technique. Winter driving tips: Check your local weather forecast Plan your route and give yourself extra travel time Dress for the weather Remove all the snow and ice from your vehicle Top up windshield washer fluid Drive according to the road conditions Give yourself extra braking distance Be alert behind the wheel Keep the following in your vehicle: Ice scraper Snow brush Shovel Windshield washer fluid Booster cables Flashlight and extra batteries Blankets Extra clothing and footwear First aid kit Smart phone and charger Unexpected weather or car trouble can happen when you least expect it. When it does, members can track their roadside service requests using CAA Service Tracker. Download the CAA app or visit caasco.com to enable CAA Service Tracker when you need it.
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17 per cent of first-time homebuyers’ down payment comes from family

11/18/2014

First-time homebuyers on average make a 21 per cent down payment on the purchase of their new home; since the 1990s, about 40 per cent of this has come from personal savings, suggesting Canadians wait to be financially stable before purchasing. But recently, as home prices have risen, 17 per cent of the down-payment has come from family gifts or loans, a higher number than in previous years. These are just some of the facts found in the Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada, the latest consumer survey report released today by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP). The report probes into how Canadians are managing their mortgage debt. In this low interest rate environment, they continue to aggressively pay down their mortgages even though most renewing their mortgages are going to find interest rates unchanged or lower than their current rates. Questions related to why people do not own a home produced interesting results: the majority of people 18-34 indicated they were waiting for prices to fall and savings to increase. At the other end of the age spectrum, more than two-thirds of those over 55 said they were renting because it was a better option for them. Highlights About 425,000 live in homes that they purchased during 2014 (up to the time of this survey). The average price was just over $400,000, for a total value of $173 billion. About 125,000 Canadian homeowners fully repaid their mortgages during 2014 (up to the date of this survey). A further 50,000 to 75,000 expect to fully repay their mortgage before the end of 2014. In combination, about 190,000 mortgages will have been fully repaid during the year. About 900,000 current mortgage holders made lump sum payments in the past year, totaling $16 billion. Among the 190,000 to 200,000 Canadians who have repaid (or are expected to repay) their mortgages during 2014, lump sum payments total about $5 billion. About 900,000 mortgage holders voluntarily increased their regular payments during the past year, by amounts that equate to more than $3 billion per year. The average mortgage interest rate is 3.24 per cent, identical to what we saw in the spring survey and down from the average 3.5 per cent found in the fall 2013 survey. On average, Canadian home equity amounts to 74 per cent of the value of their homes; more than 85 per cent have 25 per cent or higher. About 11 per cent of homeowners took equity out of their homes, using the money for debt consolidation and repayment, renovations, investments, purchases, including education, and other. Overall, the CAAMP fall report paints a picture of homeowners whether just starting out on their ownership journey or long time mortgage holders, as remarkably confident, said Jim Murphy, AMP, President and CEO of CAAMP. They wait until they are financially stable before buying, and they take advantage of low interest rates to aggressively reduce their mortgage debt. Home ownership continues to be an important anchor for the Canadian economy. A tale of two resale markets CAAMPs research tabulated by Chief Economist Will Dunning indicates that a drop in resale activity in slow growth regions east of Ontario has led to statistically significant job losses. Dunning has been tracking the impact of the federal governments tightening on mortgage lending since the summer of 2012. Broadly speaking, resale activity has improved by 50 per cent from where it was in 2012, Dunning said. However, resale activity lags in slow growth regions and that in turn undermines job creation in parts of the country which rely on the housing industry to generate employment. Dunning estimates that the reduction of resale market activity has negatively affected employment leading to a loss of 29,000 jobs over the past two years. Since the housing market impacts have been greatest in the slow growth provinces, job creation impacts have been greatest in these provinces, he said. For a full copy of CAAMPs fall 2014 survey report, visit www.caamp.org.
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Four warning signs to replace your car battery

11/13/2014

Bone-chilling temperatures gripped southern Ontario during this past winter one of the longest and coldest in 20 years. Parts of the province plunged into a deep freeze and polar vortex made its way in to everyday conversations. Before the deep freeze returns this year, remember to have your car battery tested by a professional to make sure it is ready to face another frigid winter. The harsh winter temperatures can drain the power from your vehicles battery, said Silvana Aceto, Communications Consultant, CAA SCO. Before you try to start your car, make sure you have turned off all your accessories including the heater, radio and lights. The average lifespan of a battery is 3-5 years, but driving conditions, weather and lack of care can shorten it. Here are some warning signs that your battery may need to be replaced: Your vehicle cranks slowly when trying to start. You hear a grinding, clicking or buzzing when you turn the ignition on. Your vehicle has previously stalled. Your headlights dim when you are idling but brighten when you rev the engine. Drivers can help avoid breakdowns by keeping their vehicle properly maintained throughout the year. But if you end up stranded on a busy highway its important to know what to do in an emergency situation: Stay calm and pull off the road safely. Remember your vehicles location. This will come in handy when calling for help. If you must get out of your vehicle, exit from the side away from moving traffic. Never stand behind or directly in front of your vehicle, as you are at risk of being struck by drivers who might not see you. If you CANNOT pull off the road, turn on your emergency flashers. Call 9-1-1 for help.
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Picking a real estate agent is like flipping a coin for most Ontarians

11/6/2014

Ontario home buyers and sellers could use better tools and resources to help pick the right real estate agent. A recent survey release today from Zoocasa and Survey Sampling International (SSI) revealed most (86%) Ontario home buyers and sellers used a real estate agent on their last transaction, but only half (50%) reported being confident that they picked the right one. Buying or selling a home is one of the most important decisions a person will make in their lifetime, so it is surprising that Ontarians are settling for whats essentially a coin flip when picking a real estate agent,says Carolyn Beatty, General Manager for Zoocasa. Its our goal to make buying or selling a home easy for consumers, and a big part of the experience is matching consumers with top agents who have knowledge of the housing market in the specific area they are looking tobuy or sell. A good relationship with a talented real estate agent makes a huge difference in a persons experience buying or selling their home, yet for many Canadians picking an agent is random. In fact, 67% of people surveyed did not interview their agent before hiring them and 17% hired an agent sight unseen. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that only slightly more than half (58%) of Ontarians reported being very satisfied with the value their agent provided. Other survey highlights included: Only 12% of those surveyed interviewed 2 or more agents Overall, Ontarians had a more positive buying vs. selling experience (79% vs. 63%) Ontarians rated agents a lower satisfaction overall in services including providing background information (56%), photos (56%), open houses(53%), negotiations (51%), appraisals (50%), advertising (47%) and staging (43%) 86% of Ontarians would look to use an online site to find an agent the next time Offering a unique and personalized service, Zoocasa has selected top agents from leading brokerages that receive high ratings for client service and have a strong track record of success. To learn more about Zoocasa, visit www.zoocasa.com.
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Freshen Your Home for the Holiday Season

10/31/2014

(NC) During the holiday season, our homes often become a revolving door for friends and family but the constant entertaining can make it difficult to keep your home smelling fresh. As people spend approximately 90 per cent of time indoors where the air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air it is important to keep the air we breathe clean. To ensure that you are remembered for your entertaining skills and not a smelly home, here are a few simple tricks: 1. Open a couple of windows in the house at least once a week. The cool, fresh air will help dissipate the stale air throughout the home and just 10 minutes can go a long way. 2. Regular surface cleaning will help remove allergens and keep these particles from becoming airborne again. 3. Try an air purifier like the Honeywell Air Genius available at Canadian Tire and Home Hardware. This will provide 99.9 per cent air filtration as well as allergen and odour reduction. 4. Find products that give you long-term solutions throughout the year like the Febreze Air Purifiers that releases scent while purifying the air. Following the above tricks will not only make your nose happy but your holiday guests too. More information is available online at www.febrezeairpurifiers.com and airgenius.ca source: NewsCanada
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Tips to make your mortgage renewals work for you

10/31/2014

In a Manulife survey in 2011, almost 2 out of 3 respondents failed to compare mortgage products and rates from various lenders when their mortgage came up for renewal. Not knowing what your options are could costs you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in extra interest and fees. Here are some things you should know about mortgage renewals. Mark your calendars. Most Canadians have a 5 year mortgage term and a lot can change in that time. From marriage and kids or job and lifestyle change, its no surprise that mortgage renewal dates are the last thing on your mind. But its important to make a note of this date in your calendar so you can get a head start and make sure you are in a good position to renegotiate your next mortgage term. Know what your overall financial goals are Mortgage products have different features. Some allow you to prepay without penalty, others allow you to port your mortgage to a different property if you sell before your term is up. Its smart to have an overall idea of what you want to accomplish financially and in your life overall before committing to a new mortgage term. If you are unsure about the next 3 to 5 years, maybe you want to look at mortgage products that have a slightly higher rate but lower penalties if you need to break the mortgage term. Penalties can be up to tens of thousands of dollars. Do the math or let me do it for you. Mortgages are complicated. Put yourself in a better position by being informed of your choices. There are over forty mortgage lenders across Canada. And much like how a bank offers different credit cards with different fees and options, mortgage products have different features and options. If you want sound advice so you make a smart decision for your future, talk to me. I would be pleased to assist you or any friend or family members who are in need of a mortgage.
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Canadians spending more on home improvement and travel

10/31/2014

Canadian consumer spending increased by a small margin following two consecutive quarters of stagnant growth, according to the Quarterly Spending Report released by Moneris Solutions Corporation (Moneris), Canadas largest credit and debit card processor. Moneris Quarterly Spending Report revealed that consumer spending rose 0.40 per cent relative to the same period last year. Spending climbed during the summer months, with a 0.5 per cent increase in July and 0.62 per cent in August before tapering off to 0.01 per cent in September. Canadians spent more on improving their homes and on vacations, and less on restaurants and entertainment, according to Moneris. While this is the first time that Moneris has recorded three consecutive quarters of flat consumer spending, key areas of growth emerged,said Angela Brown, President and CEO of Moneris. Summer 2014 demonstrated Canadians keen interest in home improvement and travel. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues into the remainder of the year or if the holiday season will see spending spikes revert back to entertainment and retail. Spending rose in six out of nine categories highlighted in Moneris Quarterly Spending Report including household (3.75 per cent), airlines (4.32 per cent) and drug stores (1.81 per cent), but fell in the restaurant category, where dine-in restaurants witnessed a decrease (-6.4 per cent) in spending. Accompanying the rise in vacation spending, consumers spent more on luggage and leather goods (3.62 per cent). Spending at home and away Purchases at home improvement stores rose by 8.49 per cent over the same period last year, and spending on plumbing and heating equipment, and on electrical contractors climbed by 5.14 per cent and 5.08 per cent respectively. Home is obviously very important for many Canadians, said Brown. Their spending patterns demonstrate enthusiasm for do-it-yourself projects, but they are willing to call in the professionals to perform specialized work, such as electrical and plumbing. Those who choose to leave the comfort of their houses are choosing to spend more on vacations as opposed to one-off experiences such as dinner and a movie. While spending on apparel decreased modestly (-2.07 per cent) overall, consumers spent 8.05 per cent more on family clothing in September as children headed back to school. In the same vein, spending in bars rose in August (1.34 per cent), but Canadians buttoned down as the kids went back to school, and spending at watering holes decreased slightly (0.62 per cent) in September over the previous year. Growth in contactless payments The number of contactless transactions1 grew by over 200 per cent over the same period in 2013. Some 9.6 per cent of credit transactions were contactless; 3.7 per cent of debit transactions were contactless. The number of contactless purchases exceeding $50 increased nearly fivefold. Contactless transactions continue to represent an area of growth in the Canadian payments market as more consumers become comfortable with the technology, said Brown. We anticipate this trend will continue, particularly with the growth of mobile payments technology. Modest gains, some losses Most Canadian provinces posted gains under 1 per cent (0.46 per cent-0.81 per cent). However, sales in Prince Edward Island and British Columbia increased by 2.31 per cent and 1.15 per cent respectively. Quebec and New Brunswick were the only provinces to post losses (-1.32 per cent, -1.51 per cent). About The Moneris Spending Report The Moneris Spending Report provides a snapshot of consumer spending activity in Canada by analyzing credit and debit card transaction data. As the market leader with the largest merchant base, Moneris presents detailed analysis and insight on a quarterly basis. The percentages cited are derived from actual sales volumesthe dollar values of credit and debit card transactions being processed by Moneris merchants compared to the sales volumes from the prior year.
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Boomers: how will you finance your 'grey' divorce?

10/27/2014

With the number of grey divorces on the rise in Canada, many Boomers may not realize the cost of maintaining two homes can increase expenses by as much as $20-$30,000 per year. This can have a serious impact on finances during retirement. In fact, according to Statistics Canada 2011 census data, divorce among Baby Boomers is becoming more common and the numbers are expected to steadily increase. Approximately 60,000 Canadian couples divorced in 2013 and 25% of these divorces were grey, occurring among couples aged 55 and older. Boomer couples are divorcing even though its not in their best financial interests to do so, notes Marion Korn, family law lawyer and co-author of the book When Harry Left Sally. The good news, however, is that most couples recognize that they should not be investing in a costly divorce and need to find another way. The age of people who are divorced or separated has been shifting upward, for both men and women, and the share has been especially increasing for individuals aged 50 and over. In 2011, about one in five people in their late fifties were divorced or separated (21.6% of women and 18.9% of men), the highest among the age groups. In comparison, in 1981, 6.9% of women and 6.2% of men in this age group were divorced or separated, according to Statistics Canada Marital Status Overview 2011. A large number are splitting amicably, explains Eva Sachs, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and also the co-author of When Harry Left Sally. Grey divorce is different. Its a time where divorce and retirement come together. Divorce is a breakup of a family unit but its also the breakup of an economic unit, she adds. So, how can splitting Boomer couples face the big financial hit of maintaining two homes? Some opt for a reverse mortgage, which can allow one person to stay in the family home which is most often desired - while using equity to buy out their spouse. It is one solution we advise couples to consider, explains Ms. Sachs. If the house is fully paid, then a reverse mortgage can help address financial shortfalls. For an Alberta couple aged 73 and 58, the HomEquity Bank reverse mortgage allowed them to have funds for their divorce settlement. In fact, the number of mortgages HomEquity Bank arranges each month for couples going through grey divorce has been steadily increasing. How the CHIP reverse mortgage works: Visit www.chip.ca or call 1.877.503.2447 to determine the amount of money available, which is based on the homeowners age and the location and type of home as well as the homes current appraised value. Access money as a one-time lump sum, as monthly payments or both its tailored to individual needs. Up to 50% of the homes value can be accessed and the money is tax free. Unlike a traditional loan, no payments are necessary until its time to move or sell the home.
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The turkey has been carved, pies have been devoured and belts loosened. But what can you do with all the turkey leftovers?

10/15/2014

Here are some great ideas to ensure that no morsel goes to waste! Tastes like thanksgiving casserole - This hearty, rich-tasting main dish is sure to be a hit with your family. Its a delicious way to use up Thanksgiving turkey, and you can substitute 5-1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes for the 6 potatoes. Mary Lou Timpson, Centennial Park, Arizona Turkey a la King with Rice - I like to make this dish with our leftover turkey. Its a nice change from casseroles and so simple. Serve over rice, noodles, biscuits or toast. Pat Lemke - Brandon, Wisconsin Next Day Turkey Primavera - I make this recipe often around the holidays. Its a wonderful way to use leftover turkey without feeling like its a repeat meal. I love pasta, and the creamy sauce in this primavera is so easy to make. Robyn Hardisty, Lakewood, California Turkey Fettuccine Skillet - I came up with this simple dish as a way to use leftover turkey after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. My children really enjoy it. Kari Johnston, Marwayne, Alberta To get more thanksgiving leftover recipes, check out the full article from http://www.tasteofhome.com Source: www.tasteofhome.com
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List of Canada's Top 100 Neighbourhoods to Invest for 2015 Officially Released

10/8/2014

Alberta is now vying with Ontario for the best and, indeed, the largest number of real estate investment opportunities this country has to offer, according to the annual Top 100 Neighbourhoods report from Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine. The sea-change in Canadian real estate is coming, if its not, in fact, already here, says Canadian Real Estate Wealth Senior Editor Vernon Jones, who headed three months of research to formulate the list. Investors in real estate may be wise to follow the economic development patterns of this country in deciding where to park their real estate investment dollars for maximum growth. Canadas leading magazine for real estate investors leveraged data from The Teranet - National Bank House Price Index and industry analysis to form definitive rankings on price appreciation, yield and rental values. (See below for evaluation criteria.) The results, hitting newsstands today in the magazines October/November issue - pinpoint the exact locations and property types investors should consider for both short- and long-term growth. While Ontario continued to claim the largest number of neighbourhoods on the list, Alberta has grown in importance to claim second spot. Geographic Distribution: 34% Ontario 23% Alberta 18% BC 13% Quebec 5% Manitoba 4% Nova Scotia 3% Newfoundland
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Top 5 Picks for a greener household

10/6/2014

In these heady days of innovation, we dont necessarily need to hire someone to do the dirty work of a home renovation. Some of the household upgrades may be easier than you think. Start by familiarizing yourself about the job at hand. There are many reliable self-help books and websites dedicated to giving you the best environmentally-friendly suggestions when it comes to do-it-yourself home renovation projects. These Top 5 Picks will improve your home, save you money, will give you the green life and are easy to do: 1. Cool down your house with a ceiling or electric fan and open up the windows at night. Ceiling fans cost about 1 cent for two hours of use, compared to 67 cents to a dollar for central air. Use your air conditioner only when necessary and be sure to turn it off when youre going to be away from home for long periods of time. 2. Check the tightness on your refrigerator seal by closing the door on a piece of paper. If its held in place, the seal is still good, if not, its time to replace the seal or fix the doors alignment. 3. Invest in a programmable thermostat. It will automatically adjust the temperature in your house, saving you energy while youre away or sleeping. 4. Pull out a caulking gun and weather strips and seal up doors, windows, electrical sockets and baseboards. 5. Insulate your walls, ceilings, piping entrances, attics, and basements with a professional-quality, stone wool insulation product such as Roxul. Installing insulation saves you money and wastes less energy throughout your home in every season.
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Teach kids early about money responsibilities

9/29/2014

Many of us agree that it takes decades, if not a lifetime of trial-and-error to master sound money management so lets make it easier for our kids.November is Financial Literacy Month across the country and that presents an ideal opportunity for families to explore teachable moments. Attaining financial literacy is often one small step at a time, but each experience adds to our knowledge, skills, and confidence with day-to-day money decisions, says Tony Garcia, president and CEO at ForestersTM, an international financial services provider known for its commitment to enhance family well-being. Those skills are fundamental to the well-being of families and of course, children do learn quickly by example. Since the average lifestyle today must deal with an increasing number of financial decisions at an ever-younger age, it is an eye-opener when Canadians admit to significant money challenges from reading financial statements, to managing credit cards, to planning for retirement. Did you know, for instance, that 38 per cent of households say they do not follow a budget, according to anABC Life Literacysurvey conducted by Ipsos Reid1? This number wont improve if children in those homes grow up to do the same. Parents are exacting on some things, like arranging for life insurance to replace lost income in the event of their death, but they may miss those little opportunities, like involving children in adding and subtracting household money, Garcia continues. The key to raising money-smart kids is to involve them in some of the day-to-day money decisions. Foresters, which provides its members with access to competitive scholarships and emergency assistance grants2, and is also known for building playgrounds and providing funding and volunteer opportunities for organizations like Ronald McDonald House Charities, has posted some valuable tips (at foresters.com) for guiding children towards healthy financial habits, including: Talk to young kids about the family grocery budget in the supermarket Link their allowance to household chores so it shows the connection between money and work Explain to teens the difference between needs and trendy must-haves Ask for a contribution to their expenses (like cell phone bills and sports) if your teen has a part-time job Demonstrate caution with a first credit card, explaining how interest is charged and the consequences of not paying the monthly balance Show young adults how to manage their cash flow and stick to a monthly budget Clearly define the repayment terms and conditions if you make them a loan.
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Five tips for quick and healthy school lunches

9/24/2014

Youre out of bread, cant find a water bottle and the school bus will arrive in four minutes. Is this a familiar scenario in your house? If making your childs lunch seems stressful, here are five tips to ensure their lunchbox is filled with healthy, quick options. Think about balance:Use a lunch container with divided compartments, so you remember to add the four food groups: Vegetables and Fruit: such as carrots, grapes and watermelon Grain Products: such as whole grain bread, corn bread and bulgur Milk and alternatives: such as cheese, milk and yogurt Meat and alternatives: such as tofu, eggs and chicken Stock convenient items:You can still include whole grains without preparing ingredients from scratch! Use whole grain breads, wraps and crackers to get Canadas Food Guides recommended Grain Products at lunchtime. Choose foods that list 100% whole grain as the first ingredient. Use the freezer:Stock your freezer with items that can be defrosted for quick lunches: Quick-to-cook vegetables like peas as great additions to grain-based salads. Whole grain breads for quick sandwiches and wraps. Sliced peaches, pineapple or mango for fruit salad or kebabs. Convenience tip: you can prepare and freeze soy butter and jam sandwiches, which can be slipped into lunch bags as-is they will defrost by lunch! Organize a snack drawer: For easy snacks, pre-fill containers with trail mix made with soy nuts, raisins and whole grain cereals. You can also have a snack drawer in the fridge, filled with ready-to-go Greek yogurt, cheese strings or hummus cups. Have a go-to lunch: When supplies are low, dont stress. Have a staple lunch in mind one thats made from on-hand ingredients. The go-to lunch for my daughter is whole grain crackers, cheese cubes and soy butter, artfully arranged in paper muffin cups in a square container. With some fruit on the side, lunch is ready. To learn more about the goodness of grains, visit www.goodineverygrain.ca or www.healthygrainsinstitute.ca.
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CREA Updates Resale Housing Forecast

9/18/2014

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 for 2014 and 2015. The deferral of sales and listings during an extraordinarily bleak winter delayed the start to the spring home buying season earlier this year. This deferral boosted activity in May and June as properties were snapped up after finally hitting the market, particularly in markets with a shortage of listings. Although this boost was and still is expected to be transitory, sales have yet to show signs of cooling as activity strengthened slightly further over the summer. The increase reflects continuing strength in home sales among large urban markets that initially drove the spring rebound together with gains in markets where activity had previously struggled to gain traction. Lowered mortgage interest rates supported this trend. Sales are now forecast to reach 475,000 units in 2014, representing an increase of 3.8 per cent compared to2013. This is upwardly revised from CREAs forecast of 463,400 sales published in June, and reflects stronger than expected sales in recent months. Even so, sales activity is expected to peak in the third quarter as the impact of a deferred spring dissipates and continuing home price increases erode housing affordability. This would place activity in 2014 slightly above but still broadly in line with its 10-year average. Despite periods of monthly volatility since the recession of 2008-09, annual activity has remained stable within a fairly narrow range around its 10-year average. This stability contrasts sharply to the rapid growth in sales in the early 2000s prior to the recession. British Columbia is forecast to post the largest year-over-year increase in activity (11.9 per cent) followed closely by Alberta (7.7 per cent). Demand in both of these provinces is currently running at multi-year highs. Activity in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick is expected to come in roughly in line with 2013 levels, with sales increases ranging between one and two per cent in the first three provinces and edging lower by about one per cent lower sales in the latter two provinces. Sales in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador are projected to be down this year by 3.9 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively. Mortgage interest rates are expected to edge higher as Canadian exports, business investment, job growth, and incomes improve. These opposing factors should benefit housing markets where demand has been softer but prices have remained more affordable. Sales in relatively less affordable housing markets are likely to be more sensitive to higher fixed mortgage rates. National activity is now forecast to reach 473,100 units in 2015, representing a decline of four tenths of one per cent. Sales activity is forecast to grow fastest in Nova Scotia (+3.3 per cent), followed by Quebec (+1.3 per cent) and New Brunswick (+1.3 per cent). Alberta is the only other province forecast to post higher sales next year (+1.0 per cent). In other provinces, activity is forecast to decline in the range of between one and two per cent. In British Columbia and Ontario, this trend reflects eroding affordability for single family homes. The national average price has evolved largely as expected since the spring, resulting in little change to CREAs previous forecast. The national average home price is now projected to rise by 5.9 per cent to $405,000 in 2014, with similar price gains in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. Increases of just below three per cent are forecast for Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island. Newfoundland and Labrador is forecast to see average home price rise by about one per cent this year, while Quebec is forecast to see an increase half that size. Prices are forecast to be flat in New Brunswick and recede by almost two per cent and Nova Scotia. The national average price is forecast to edge up a further 0.7 per cent in 2015 to $407,900. Alberta and Manitoba are forecast to post average price gains of almost two per cent in 2015, followed closely by Ontario at 1.3 per cent. Average prices in other provinces are forecast to remain stable, edging up by less than one percentage point.
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New tax relief will save small businesses more than half a billion dollars over two years

9/16/2014

Minister of Finance Joe Oliver announced more action by the Harper Government to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity: the introduction of the new Small Business Job Credit which is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million over the next two years. The Small Business Job Credit will effectively lower small businesses Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from the current legislated rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016. Any firm that pays employer EI premiums equal to or less than $15,000 in those years will be eligible for the credit. Almost 90% of all EI premium-paying businesses in Canada will receive the credit, reducing their EI payroll taxes by nearly 15%. The Canada Revenue Agency will automatically calculate the credit on a business return, ensuring no new paper burden will be imposed on business owners. In addition, all employers and employees will benefit from a substantial reduction in the EI premium rate in 2017 when the new seven-year break-even rate-setting mechanism takes effect. This will ensure that EI premiums are no higher than needed to pay for the EI program over time. Quick Facts Canada has created more than 1.1 million net new jobs since the height of the recessionone of the strongest job creation records in the Group of Seven (G-7). In 2013, Canada leapt from sixth to second place in Bloombergs ranking of the most attractive destinations for business. According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are the lowest in the G-7 and 46% lower than those in the United States. In September 2013, the Government announced a three-year freeze of the EI rate at its 2013 level of $1.88 to prevent it from rising to $1.93 in 2014, saving employers and employees an expected $660 million in 2014 alone.
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Canadian economy can't sustain growth without low interest rates and a weaker dollar: CIBC

9/11/2014

Unexpected growth in consumer spending and residential construction have seen the Canadian economy outperform in 2014, but continued low interest rates and a cheaper loonie are necessary to sustain growth going forward, finds a new report from CIBC World Markets. The report notes that while Canadas economy will see better than three per cent growth in both the second and third quarters, the drivers are not sustainable. Neither housing nor consumption funded from a falling savings rate can be the permanent drivers of growth, so all eyes will be on capital spending and exports, says Avery Shenfeld, Chief Economist at CIBC. The markets response will be less about getting two and a half per cent growth to close the output gap, than about the policy backdrop needed to do so. Mr. Shenfeld expects the U.S. economy to continue to improve and Canadas to track along with it but with the countries taking a differing approach to monetary policy. Were not at zero, so theres less urgency to begin dialing down the stimulus. But more critically, Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz wants growth led by exports and capital spending. Theres no specific FX target, but a weaker Canadian dollar will be a key ingredient in restoring competitiveness and making Canada an attractive place to expand capacity. He says this will be achieved by letting the U.S. eliminate the entire Canada-U.S. short-rate differential before we see even one Bank of Canada hike. A much weaker loonie could then allow the Bank to carry on to a 1.5 per cent overnight rate by year end 2015. Co-authors, Benjamin Tal and Nick Exarhos write that an improving economy stateside has already started to help Canadian exports. Geography always makes the U.S. key to Canada, but Americas outperformace vs. other G-7 countries is enhancing that dependence. In fact, exports destined to the U.S. market are already growing at a near 17 per cent year-on-year pace, while those destined elsewhere up by just under 11 per cent. However, much of the current momentum is coming from energy exports, now delivering a quarter of Canadas dollar value of outbound shipments. Estimates from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers suggest that black golds shine isnt likely to fade any time soon. Applying production estimates to their relatively stable historical relationship to exports destined for the U.S., suggests that Canada in 2016 will have exported more than 230 million additional barrels than it did in 2013. But energys growing share also reflects what was, until very recently, a lacklustre performance by other exporters. The Bank of Canada identified sectors like forestry products, machinery, aircraft products, and other electronics as key in carrying the next leg of Canadian export resurgence, but this group has actually trailed other non-energy exporters in the past year. A key factor in this is that many non-energy exports historically came from sectors sensitive to the exchange rate. The long period in which the Canadian dollar was overvalued led to exits of plants from this country, taking out the capacity that would now typically be responding to better news stateside. With the weaker value of the Canadian dollar providing a more competitive exchange rate and positive price shocks for some products such as food, the loonie-sensitive sectors have seen an 11.8 per cent gain in nominal exports in the past twelve months, vs. 8.7 per cent for other non-energy industries. But there is much more to do ahead, says Mr. Tal. There are lags before the full impact of the late 2013 depreciation will be fully felt by existing plants. And we will likely need even more time, and a still weaker exchange rate, to prompt the entry of new production facilities that can start to fill the void left by earlier exits. Thus far, after the steepest correction in the post-war period, and an initially strong rebound, capital spending is well below where it typically should be at this more mature stage of the cycle. And the issue is not capability. Our business capability index, which uses an array of indicators to measure the ability of Canadian firms to spend, is close to a record high. That suggests that financial limitations arent the culprit. Its all about the willingness to invest. He notes that Corporate Canada appears more inclined to spend on bricks and mortar or takeovers elsewhere. Foreign direct investment (FDI) by Canadian companies rose by a record high nine per cent in 2013the exact opposite of the decelerating growth trajectory in capital spending at home. The ratio of the outflow of FDI to capital expenditure is close to 20 per centagain a record high. But he says that at some point businesses have to invest in existing facilities at home. Right now a growing proportion of each capital spending dollar is devoted to replacement investments that simply maintain existing levels of production. The practical implication is that capital investment must rise much more quickly in order to accommodate both replacement and expansion investments. There are signs that, despite some reservations, spending is about to accelerate. Mr. Tal says the Bank of Canadas Business Index is now at a level that, in the past, was consistent with real business investment climbing by close to five per cent on an annual basis. Mr. Shenfeld says that with the backdrop, corporate earnings still have room to run. Our top-down model, which ties key economic indicators - such as Canadian and U.S. GDP and various resource prices - to bottom line results, projects TSX Composite earnings growth of 11 per cent in 2015. Thats above the historical average. Bond yields will provide some noisy volatility for stocks, but double digit earnings gains should still see major indexes close next year at moderately higher levels. The complete CIBC World Markets report is available at: http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/fsep14.pdf
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Moving up out of "starter homes" getting much more difficult for Canadians

9/9/2014

While, on average, Canadian house prices have climbed five per cent in 2014, a new report finds that price increases in mid- and high-priced homes are far outpacing those of lower-priced ones, which is making it increasingly more difficult for many Canadians to move up out of their starter homes. The value of bigger and pricier properties is rising notably faster than less expensive propertieswidening the gap between starter home and dream house, says Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC. Regardless of what your starting point is, and by how much your property has appreciated, the desired move up target is getting further and further out of reach. He notes that, historically, most Canadians followed a well-known narrative. You graduate from school, land your first job, get married, buy your first house, start a family, and after a number of years, move up to a larger house to accommodate your growing family. However, there are many indications that this cycle that dominated the Canadian housing market for decades, is breaking, he points out. The report shows that, in Toronto, the price of homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range rose, on average, about 28 per cent between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2014. However, homes priced between $800,000 and $1.2 million jumped over 40 per cent and homes priced between $1.2 million and $1.6 million shot up better than 50 per cent in the same period. That means the family that paid $500,000 for a house in 2010 has seen their home value climb to about $640,000, a tidy $140,000 increase in value. The problem is the $800,000 home they want to move into has jumped by more than $300,000 to $1.12 million. Its a similar situation in other urban centres, including Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton, where the move up category has risen notably faster than the start-up category. In Vancouver, with the highest prices in the country, that gulf is even wider. Homes that sold for $500,000 to $800,00 have increased by only a few percentage points whereas homes prices at $1.1 million and higher have jumped by close to 18 per cent. The gap between these homes has grown by close to $200,000 in the last four years. Mr. Tal notes that while, on the surface, the volume of house resale activity in Canada looks stable - with unit sales fluctuating between 35,000 and 40,000 units per month since 2010 - it is anything but. This apparent stability masks a more complex story, he says. Sales of units at the low-to-mid price range fell notably since 2010. Sales rose modestly for the mid-to-high price range, and advanced rapidly for units in the upper end of the market. This picture of soft sales at the low-to-mid price range of the single-detached market has affordability written all over it. Tightening mortgage regulations in general, and the reduction in amortizations from 40 years to 25 years for high-ratio mortgages in particular, alongside rising prices worked to price out many first-time homebuyers that dominate activity in this price range. He found that the homeownership rate among Canadians aged 25-35 (first-time homebuyers) has fallen from 55 per cent in 2012 to the current 50 per cent. For those over the age of 35, the homeownership rate remained stable. There is also a big difference between markets with sales and price increases increasingly being driven by activity in the countrys large and pricy cities. Conversely, weve seen prices fall in Saint John, Qubec City and Victoria in the last year and overall more than one-fifth of sales are now in cities that see prices rising by less than the current rate of inflation. Homeowners in many of Canadas larger cities that cant afford a larger home - or wont get into bidding wars - are increasingly recognizing they will be in their first home for longer than expected. With limited move up options, its no surprise then that many Canadians choose to renovate their existing homes, says Mr. Tal. Over the past five years, spending on home renovations as a share of total residential investment averaged close to 46 per centby far the largest share on record. Renovation activity will remain robust and, in fact, might accelerate in the coming years. Mr. Tal says thatwhile home values will be tested when interest rates rise, the asymmetrical nature of the market, the stabilizing role played by the condo market in major urban centres - which is providing a cheaper alternative to single-detached units - and the significant constraints on land availability may all work to limit the damage. The complete CIBC World Markets report is available at: http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/if_2014-0908.pdf
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Canadian employees will see average salary increases of 2.6 per cent in 2015 according to Hay Group's survey of top employers

9/4/2014

Canadian employees can expect to see average base salary increases of 2.6% in 2015, according to a national survey of over 400 Canadian public and private sector employers conducted by Hay Group in June and July. Participants include many of Canadas leading employers. The 2.6% projected increase is the same as that in 2014, and lower than the 2.9% projection for 2013. Canadian projections have now fallen further behind the U.S. where American workers can expect an average increase of 3.0% in 2015, up from 2.8% projected for 2014. Projected base salary increases for Canadian workers continue to be much lower than those of 3.7% before the 2008/09 economic downturn. U.S. projections were also considerably higher at that time. According to the survey, 83% of Canadian employers will provide their employees with base salary increases in 2015. Resource-based provinces continue to lead the rest of Canada The highest increases continue to be seen in the oil and gas sector at 3.8% where demand for key skills continues to outweigh the strategic supply challenges that persist in the industry. Chemicals (3.3%), credit unions (3.2%), and financial services (3.0%) are all sectors with forecasts considerably higher than the national average of 2.6%. These high forecasts are also a continued reflection of the demand for key skills and experience. Alberta (3.1%) and Saskatchewan (2.9%) will lead the country with projected overall base salary increases higher than the national average, these are again buoyed by the demand for key skills in the resource industries despite the economic challenges in other sectors in these provinces. All other provinces are predicting increases of 2.1 - 2.6%, which are at or below the national average. Looking at the 2015 projections for major Canadian cities, workers in Calgary (3.2%), St. Johns (3.1%) and Saskatoon (3.0%) will see the highest salary increases. For all organizations, actual base salary changes realized in 2014 were exactly as forecasted at 2.6%. Projections by job level show that most positions will be at or just above the national average of 2.6%. Only unionized clerical positions will see average increases (2.3%) which are below the national average. Alberta (3.1%) and Saskatchewan (2.9%) have the highest 2015 base salary projections in Canada. BCs projections will increase to the national average of 2.6%. No change to the Ontario and the GTA projections of 2.5%. No change to the Quebec (2.6%) and Maritimes (2.1%) from last years projections. Projections for countries such as U.K. (2.5%), Canada (2.6%), U.S. and Australia (3.0%) continue to lag behind those for India (10.7%) and China (8.2%) although the 2015 forecasts for China are lower than the 9.0% made a year ago.
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Department of Finance reports a $1.6-billion surplus in June 2014

9/2/2014

Finance Minister Joe Oliver released The Fiscal Monitor for June 2014 last week. There was a budgetary surplus of $1.6 billion in June 2014, compared to a surplus of $0.2billion in June 2013. Revenues increased by $0.9 billion, or 3.8 per cent, due mainly to higher revenues from non-resident income tax, excise taxes and duties, and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums. Program expenses decreased by $0.7billion, or 3.2 per cent, largely reflecting a decrease in direct program expenses. Public debt charges increased by $0.1 billion, or 5.1 per cent. For the April to June 2014 period of the 201415 fiscal year, the Government posted a budgetary surplus of $0.4 billion, compared to a deficit of $2.6 billion reported in the same period of 201314. Revenues were up $2.5 billion, or 3.8 per cent, largely reflecting increased revenues from income taxes, the Goods and Services Tax and EIpremiums. Program expenses were down $0.4 billion, or 0.7 per cent, reflecting a decrease in direct program expenses, offset in part by increases in major transfers to persons and other levels of government. Public debt charges were down $49 million, or 0.6 per cent. The financial results through the April to June 2014 period and economic developments since Budget 2014 suggest that the fiscal projection for 201415 presented in the budget is on track.
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C.D. Howe Institute Monetary Policy Council Urges Bank of Canada to Hold Overnight Rate at 1.00 Percent for Next Six Months.

8/29/2014

The C.D. Howe Institutes Monetary Policy Council (MPC) recommends that the Bank of Canada keep its target for the overnight rate, the very short-term interest rate it targets for monetary policy purposes, at 1.00 percent at its next announcement on September 3, 2014. Looking ahead, the Council called for the Bank to hold the target at 1.00 percent through the spring of 2015, but called for a target of 1.50 a year from now. The MPC provides an independent assessment of the monetary stance appropriate for the Bank of Canada as it aims for its 2 percent inflation target. William the Institutes President and Chief Executive Officer, chaired the Councils 88th meeting. The group generally took a positive view of Canadas current economic performance, expecting a solid reading for second-quarter real GDP (a key economic release between the MPC meeting and the Bank of Canadas announcement), continued progress in closing the gap between actual and potential output, and inflation expectations well anchored at the Banks 2 percent target. Looking abroad, members noted that disappointing news out of Europe and Japan was more than balanced by positive US growth. While some members noted that the Canadian dollar looks higher than Canadas terms of trade would support, many expected improvements in net exports and more buoyant business investment to complement continued spending growth on the part of Canadian households in the months ahead. In drawing conclusions about the conduct of Canadian monetary policy, however, the group wrestled with two major types of questions: about the size, duration and even the significance of the output gap; and about the normal level for the overnight rate the rate that would be appropriate if the output gap were zero and inflation were at 2 percent.
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Tenant insurance offers peace of mind

8/26/2014

Leaving home for the first time, going away to school and renting an off-campus apartment can make for an exciting yet stressful time for students and parents alike. As college and university students head to the classroom this fall, CAA Insurance Company (Ontario) is encouraging parents of post-secondary students to invest in tenant insurance. Whether your child is renting a house or an apartment, tenant insurance offers peace of mind. It will cover their personal possessions, such as furniture, clothing, electronics and jewelry, in the event of a fire or break-in. Tenant insurance is often overlooked. Renters think their belongings are protected because their landlord has insurance, but that isnt the case, said Matthew Turack, VP, CAA Insurance Company (Ontario). Sending a teen to university or college can be expensive. Now imagine if you have to replace all their belongings because they were destroyed in a fire or stolen, added Turack. Once tenant insurance is purchased, CAA Insurance recommends making a detailed list of all your personal belongings, photographing each item and keeping receipts and warranties in a safe place should you need to make a claim. For over a hundred years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. CAA South Central Ontario is one of nine auto clubs across Canada providing roadside assistance, automotive care, travel products, insurance services and member savings for more than 1.9 million members. SOURCE CAA South Central Ontario
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Summer flooding in Prairies pegged at over $60 million in insured damage

8/21/2014

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that the estimated insured damage caused by heavy rains and high winds across southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba in late June and July was just over $60 million, according to Property Claim Services (PCS). The flooding, wind damage and transportation disruptions caused by these storms disrupted peoples lives and businesses, said Bill Adams, IBC Vice-President, Western and Pacific. People were forced from their homes, roads were flooded and crops were destroyed. These storms are another example of the toll severe weather events are taking on Canadian families and communities. Parts of southeast Saskatchewan and areas of western Manitoba reported heavy rain fall. States of emergency were called in both provinces. Hundreds of residents had to leave their homes and dozens of roads were impassable due to flooding. Sections of at least 15 highways, including portions of the TransCanada Highway, were closed due to the flooding. The rain also led to record flow levels on rivers and streams in both provinces. The insurance industry continues to spread the word about the need to update infrastructure, to engage consumers on how to protect themselves and their properties against severe weather. The industry is also working with all three levels of government to help develop, promote and implement adaptation measures, Adams said. He also reminded residents that most insurers offer a 24-hour claims service for filing claims. Claimants should give as much detail as possible when providing information to their insurers, he said.
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Canadian home sales edge higher in July

8/18/2014

Highlights: National home sales rose 0.8% from June to July. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was 7.2% higher than July 2013 levels. The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.4% from June to July. The Canadian housing market remains in balanced territory. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.3% year-over-year in July. The national average sale price rose 5.0% on a year-over-year basis in July. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 0.8 per cent on a month-over-month basis in July 2014, marking the sixth consecutive monthly increase and the highest level for sales since March 2010. (Chart A) Sales activity rose in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets in July, led by gains in Victoria, Winnipeg, London and St. Thomas, and Ottawa together with broadly-based increases in Quebec and New Brunswick. On the surface, national sales activity in July was similar to what we saw in May and June, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. That said, July sales picked up in markets that struggled to gain traction in the spring, while activity eased slightly in some of Canadas largest urban markets. As always, all real estate is local and whether youre looking to buy or sell, your local REALTOR is your best source of information on all the factors driving the market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in July stood 7.2 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year. July sales were up from year-ago levels in about 70 per cent of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley, the Okanagan region, Calgary, Winnipeg, Greater Toronto, Hamilton-Burlington, London and St. Thomas, and Ottawa. For the year-to-date, sales activity is up 4.7 per cent compared to the first seven months of 2013 and in line with the 10-year average for the period. The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.4 per cent in July compared to June. The number of markets where new listings rose was equal to the number where they declined. Regina, Winnipeg, Greater Toronto, Windsor-Essex, Ottawa and Montreal posted the biggest monthly increases in new listings, which offset fewer new listings in Fraser Valley, Calgary and Fredericton. New listings and sales activity trends have closely tracked each other since February. Many new listings have come on stream in markets with tight supply and continuing demand. As a result, the strength of sales in recent months likely reflects how many properties were snapped up once they finally hit the market following the harsh winter that caused sales and new listings to be deferred. Low mortgage interest rates continue to bolster home sales activity, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. With the Bank of Canada widely expected to hold interest rates steady until next year, mortgage financing will remain attractive over the second half 2014 and continue to support Canadian economic growth while waiting for Canadian exports and investment to improve. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 53.6 per cent in July, little changed from 53.4 per cent June and 53.2 per cent in May. This remains firmly entrenched within the range from 40 to 60 per cent that marks balanced market territory. The ratio has remained within short reach of its current level for more than four years, averaging 52.6 per cent since the beginning of 2010. Just over half of all local markets posted a sales-to-new listings ratio in this range in July. Of the remainder of markets, more than half were sitting above the 60 per cent threshold that marks the border between balanced and sellers market territory, many of which are found in Alberta and Southern Ontario.
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Soft Landing Still Likely for Canadian Condo Market

8/14/2014

Population, economic and employment growth all point to a stabilizing of the Canadian condominium market, according to the latest Conference Board of Canada condo report commissioned by Genworth Canada. The Summer 2014 Metropolitan Condo Outlook forecasts that while pockets of higher risk still exist in Toronto and Vancouver, a broad-based downturn is unlikely. The report findings align with our view that the condo market is stabilizing and that demographics and affordability continue to drive demand said Stuart Levings, Chief Operating Officer of Genworth Canada. As a result of our prudent underwriting standards, our portfolio quality in this market remains strong and we see value in partnering with our customers to meet the evolving needs of young urbanites. Despite modest price gains over the next two years in all eight cities studied in the report, increases in average household incomes will help to keep mortgage costs affordable. Continued growth in immigration, affordability pressures in major cities, and aging baby-boomers looking to downsize are all factors that support continued demand for condominiums in urban centres. Our research has long shown that the strong underlying economic factors in Canada would help most condominium markets achieve a soft landing said Robin Wiebe, Senior Economist at the Centre for Municipal Studies at The Conference Board of Canada and co-author of the report. Despite fluctuating sales and listing trends, markets are expected to be balanced across the country, with a slight lean towards the buyer in Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.
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CMHC’s Survey of Condominium Owners in Toronto and Vancouver

8/12/2014

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released the results of its 2013 Condominium Owners Survey today showing that 82.9% of the condominium owning households surveyed reside in their unit and 17.1% are condominium investors. As information on condominium investment is rather limited at this time, CMHC has gathered new data on a segment of domestic condominium investment activity in Toronto and Vancouver. While the results are not representative of other markets or all types of investors, the survey helps to shed some light on the profile and purchasing motivations of a segment of condominium investors in Toronto and Vancouver, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHCs Market Analysis Centre. The survey found that about half of the surveyed condominium investors in Toronto and Vancouver rent out their last purchased unit. CMHCs survey also found that of the surveyed condominium investors in Toronto and Vancouver: 58.4% expect to keep their last purchased unit for more than 5 years; 17.9 % for 2 to 5 years; 7.6% for less than two years, and 16.1% did not know or answer; 11.9% of respondents said they bought their last secondary condominium unit with the intention of reselling it for a profit within a year of purchase. In addition, at the time of the survey, 42.1% of the Toronto and Vancouver investor households that were surveyed had no mortgage on their last purchased condominium unit. A total of 42,426 households, which owned their primary residence in the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) of Toronto and Vancouver, were surveyed in August and September of 2013. A subset of these condominium owners who own a secondary condominium unit are defined as condominium investors. Their primary dwelling can be either a condominium or a freehold1 unit. The 2013 Condominium Owners Survey gathered data to report on the extent of the activity of this sub-set of domestic condominium investor households in these two CMAs. This definition excludes households that own only one condominium unit in which they reside, as well as households that own a secondary unit but rent their primary unit. The survey did not cover Canadian households that own condominium units in Toronto or Vancouver but do not reside in these CMAs. Foreign investors, and corporate investors are also not covered by the survey. CMHC continues to explore opportunities to enhance the availability of information on foreign and corporate investment activities in the housing market, added Dugan. Results from the Condominium Owners Survey for Toronto and Vancouver were merged to increase their statistical reliability. The full text of this report is available at http://www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=68161
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Industry intentions for large buildings and single family homes on the rise

8/8/2014

According to the latest statistics from StatsCan, contractors took out building permits worth $8.0 billion in June, up 13.5% from May. The June increase was mainly due to higher construction intentions for institutional and industrial buildings in Quebec and commercial buildings in Alberta. In the residential sector, the value of permits edged up 0.4% to $4.2 billion, a fourth consecutive monthly increase. Municipalities issued $2.4 billion worth of building permits for single-family dwellings in June, up 5.5% from May. It was the third consecutive monthly advance. Increases were reported in six provinces, led by Alberta, with Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia following. The total value of permits was up in five provinces in June, led by Quebec, with Alberta a distant second. Quebec made substantial advances in construction intentions for institutional buildings, industrial buildings and, to a lesser extent, multi-family dwellings.
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TORONTO COUPLE WINS $5000 FOR RENOS! ASK ME HOW!

7/29/2014

VERICO Canada and VERICO Capital Mortgages Inc. are pleased to announce the June winners of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvements Contest. Brad Nemes of VERICO Capital Mortgages along with Martin Marshall, Eastern Regional Sales Manager of VERICO Canada, presented a cheque to winners Marc Pepin and Rebecca Thompson of Toronto, ON. When Brad called we thought Wow, were really lucky because our renovation budget is squeezed to the max!, laughs Rebecca Thompson. Weve had our eye on some high end appliances that will bump up the value of the home, says Rebecca when asked what the couple would do with the prize money. Clients of VERICO mortgage brokers can win 1 of 6 prizes of $5000.00 to go towards their home renovations through the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvements Contest. Another four prizes are still up for grabs. A Purchase Plus Improvement mortgage gives qualifying you the ability to access up to $40,000 for the purpose of renovations. This amount is rolled up into your mortgage so you are able pay it off as a part of your regular mortgage payments. This mortgage option allows home buyers, especially first timers, to take their first step into home ownership and still have the funds to renovate their purchase into their dream home. To find out how you can qualify for this mortgage or this contest, please contact me!
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Number of home sold edged up slightly in June

7/23/2014

According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity edged up almost one per cent on a month-over-month basis in June 2014. Highlights: - National home sales rose 0.8% from May to June. - Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 11.2% above June 2013 levels. - The number of newly listed homes was little changed from May to June. - The Canadian housing market remains in balanced territory. - The national average sale price rose 6.9% on a year-over-year basis in June. - The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.4% year-over-year in June. Sales rose in about half of all local housing markets in June, led by gains in Greater Vancouver where activity hit its highest level in more than three years, and Montreal where activity is now 10 per cent above post-recession lows reached earlier this year. Sales have improved compared to their slower start earlier this year, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. That said, there are still important differences in how housing markets are faring depending on location, housing type and price point. Whether youre looking to buy or sell, your local REALTOR is your best source of information on all the factors driving the market where you currently live or might like to in the future.
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Should you invest in an income property?

7/21/2014

Owning a rental property can be a profitable investment - but its not for everyone. Its important to do the research needed to have a clear understanding of the steps in financing an income property and all the responsibilities that will come with an investment. Ive provided some information below to help you get started. If you are interested in finding out if investing is right for you, contact me and Id be happy to assist you. Why purchase an investment property? Real Estate is still a great long-term investment Property values have been historically more stable than the stock market A source of monthly income, if you do not have a monthly shortfall There are some tax deductible expenses Approved Rental Property Types: Single-family dwellings Town homes Condos Duplexes Triplexes Fourplexes Most lenders allow applicant to hold a maximum of 4 rental properties. Anything over is considered a commercial business. Downpayment Most lenders require 25% -35% for downpayment. If between 20-25%, the mortgage will need to be insured for default with CMHC/Genworth/Canada Guaranty and a premium will be added to the mortgage. Downpayment cannot be borrowed or gifted Must provide proof of downpayment (30 to 90 day account history) An investment property is a big commitment for you and your family. Im here to help you figure out if its the right move for you! As a professional mortgage broker in one of Canadas largest Mortgage Broker Networks, I have access to an array of lenders and products that may suit your needs. Dont hesitate to contact me for a meeting.
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Are housing starts rebounding?

7/18/2014

Consensus is looking for Canadian housing starts numbers for the month of June to come in near 190k, down from the strong 198.3k in May but still stronger than levels seen earlier this year when a mix of harsh weather and uncertainty weighed on overall levels of construction, driving housing starts to an annualized low of 157k in March. We wouldnt make too much of the very soft levels of construction during Q1: Canadas weather is very harsh in the winter, and the low seasonally adjusted monthly housing starts numbers seen during Q1 didnt actually represent a massive decrease in the quantity of housing starts that the country will actually see in 2014. As we noted at the time of the weak March housing starts number (157k), in unadjusted terms, the first three months of the year only constitute 18-20% of the cumulative quantity of housing starts that typically happen over a full 12-month stretch. Peak housing starts months in absolute terms occur in May through July, with those months typically averaging 55-60% more actual starts (not seasonally adjusted) than is typical during Q1. In other words, the strong numbers that were seeing for Q2 are much more important than the weak numbers that we saw for Q1 and represent much more actual building. Source: Scotiabank
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Major Real Estate Boards Report June Results

7/16/2014

The spring market unofficially ended last month and Canadas three most followed housing markets finished off the spring selling season strongly. Sales volumes, prices and new listings each increased in June in all three cities. Low interest rates continue to fuel strong buyer demand. Vancouver Sales volumes were up in Vancouver by 29% in June, compared to the same month in 2013. They were also 3.7% higher than in May but only 0.6% above the ten year average for the month. Sales of detached properties were up a whopping 59% from the level seen in June of 2012. REBGV President Ray Harris commented that competition among buyers has increased and is as strong as its been in the region since June, 2011. The sales-to-new-listings ratio in Vancouver reached 21.3% in June, the highest since June, 2011. New listings were up 9.5% compared to a year earlier but were down by more than 10% from Mays level and 2.6% below the ten year average. Total listings stood at 16,011 which is down 7% from June, 2013. Average prices in Vancouver for detached homes in June were up more than 6% from a year ago but are still under $1 million at $976,700. For apartment condominiums, average prices rose 2.4% year-over-year to $378,000. Calgary The comparison of this years month of June to June, 2013 in the Calgary real estate market requires some context as last year at this time, Calgary was dealing with the aftermath of the damaging flood which took a large bite out of sales activity. This years sales volumes in June were 18% above the ten year average for the month as the market continued its hot streak. There was some relief from the severely tight market conditions which have plagued the market in recent months as new listings rose above the long term average in June for the first time since 2010. Inventory levels rose as a result but balanced market conditions remain well out of reach for now. The single-family unadjusted benchmark price was $509,700 in June, representing an 11% increase from the same period last year. For condominiums, the apartment-style benchmark price was $299,700 and for townhouse-style units, it was $326,000. Toronto The Toronto Real Estate Board welcomed a new President in June. Paul Etheringtons first monthly sales report featured an increase of more than 15% in sales volumes from a year earlier as there were more than 10,000 sales recorded in June. New listings also rose but not by as much which means that competition among buyers increased yet again in June. Many areas of the Greater Toronto Area have less than two month of inventory of listed properties. TREB predicts that with the current level of pent-up demand, sales should be strong throughout the rest of the summer. The average sale price of a home in Toronto reached $568,953 in June, a 7.4% increase from a year ago. Prices for detached properties in the 416 area the City of Toronto reached $921,127 in June, moving ever closer to prices in the Vancouver market. Despite the abundance of new units reaching completion and the number of resale units listed for sale, the condominium market in Toronto remains strong as average prices moved ahead by 6.8% from a year ago. source: MCAP
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Canadians' Confidence in the Housing Market Keeps on Surging

7/14/2014

Most Canadians expect home prices to keep on surging in 2014, according to a survey conducted by Point2 Homes, one of Canadas largest real estate portals. Canadian respondents who anticipate an increase in residential property prices think prices will rise by an average of 8%. 73% of survey participants in Alberta are confident local prices will go up, as compared to 45% in British Columbia and 40% in Saskatchewan. The survey is based on 1,232 responses and was conducted by Point2 Homes between April and May 2014. Most Canadians Expect Home Price Growth in 2014 51% of respondents expect to see a significant jump in local house prices this year, while 26% think they will remain largely unchanged. Only 23% of survey participants said they expected home prices to decline. Among the respondents who anticipate an increase in real estate prices, the majority think they will rise by 8% on average. Those who said prices will head downwards estimate a drop by 14% on average. Albertans Show Most Confidence in the Housing Market The vast majority of Albertan respondents showed increased confidence in the local housing market fundamentals. While the national average sits somewhere around 51%, two thirds of survey participants in Alberta are confident home prices will continue to surge. The lowest percentage of positive answers was recorded in Saskatchewan, where only 40% of respondents believe home prices will remain on a growing trajectory. Real Estate Agents 30% More Upbeat about Canadas Housing Market than Buyers and Sellers 65% of real estate agents think the housing market is gaining positive momentum, while 50% of buyers and 49% of sellers are convinced that prices will go up. Click here for more details and charts on home price trends in Canada.
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High Net Worth Canadians may have cash on hand, but some also have mortgages

7/11/2014

A recent survey of high net worth Canadians, those with investable assets of $500,000 or more, reveals that for this group, having a mortgage may be a considered and deliberate investment strategy. Sixty-seven per cent of those who have a mortgage indicated they have the cash available to pay for their home in-full. The notion that a mortgage is used only when funds arent available to pay cash for your home doesnt ring true for many wealthy Canadians, says Peter Veselinovich, vice-president of banking and mortgage operations at Investors Group. The Investors Group survey, which examined how high net worth Canadians are using their mortgages, highlights strategies that touch on a variety of financial planning tactics that range from tax planning to income generating rental properties. Property ownership is part of the plan Overall, seven-in-ten high net worth Canadians say they would not think about purchasing property without reviewing it as part of their overall financial plan and almost half (46 per cent) say they wouldnt make changes to their mortgage without reviewing it as part of their overall financial plan. One-in-five were provided advice by their financial advisor on mortgage options that would best suit their financial situation. Property ownership by the numbers: 32 per cent of high-net-worth Canadians own additional commercial or residential properties; 1-in-10 own three or more; 51 per cent have additional properties for recreational use; 42 per cent have investment rental properties; 11 per cent have purchased property for their parents or children to live in Its good to see that some Canadians are including these important decisions as part of their overall financial plan and engaging experts for advice, says Peter. Your current and future business strategy, retirement plans, stage of life and overall financial goals will all influence the mortgage you select. Mortgages in retirement While some Canadians plan to pay off their mortgage before retirement, more than one-quarter of wealthy Canadians (with mortgages) dont have plans to become mortgage-free before retirement. Cashing in investments to pay off your mortgage before retirement could trigger capital gains. That would mean additional taxes and less money to invest, says Peter. Retirees in this financial demographic who are not concerned about meeting their mortgage payments see a tax advantage to maintaining a low-interest mortgage on their homes. Limited fear over rising rates When asked if they were worried about rising rates in the next year, three years or five, those with any concern amounted to eight per cent, 14 per cent, and 18 per cent of the overall group in each respective time frame. While fluctuating interest rates can play a role in selecting a mortgage that fits with your financial situation, there are a number of additional considerations that Canadians need to factor into the equation, adds Peter. A financial advisor can help you look at the entire picture and select an option that will work for you.
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Cook up some space in the kitchen

7/9/2014

Its the central hub of the home where we do homework, pay bills, charge electronics, surf the web and cook up a meal or two. We spend hours in the kitchen so its not surprising that a recent survey from the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) found that four out of five homeowners want to change something about their kitchen. Whether the change youre seeking is a complete overhaul or a simple update, the following tips and projects can help turn your kitchen from cluttered and chaotic to clean and organized: Conquer Counters and Cabinets While you may not be able to add square footage to your kitchen, there are many ways to conquer clutter and make the room feel larger. Start by clearing off the countertops by placing small appliances or unnecessary items in cupboards or closets. Next, focus on the sink area. Add some fashion and function with a new single-handle pulldown or pullout faucet and swap the dingy bottle of soap with a permanent soap dispenser. Many of them, like the new premium line from Moen, are available in several designs modern, transitional and traditional to coordinate with your new faucet. Are you tired of the kitchen dish towels lying on the sink or countertop or worse yet, on the floor? Towel bars, towel rings and hooks are an ideal solution to provide a permanent and convenient home for this kitchen necessity. Other accessories, such as robe hooks, can also be used to hang potholders. Whether mounting on the side of an upper cabinet, on the end of the island, or in other work areas, Moen tells us they also offer a variety of accessories, such as the Boardwalk and Banbury collections that perfectly match their kitchen faucets. And, dont stop there. Create continuity throughout your updated space with new knobs and drawer pulls that complement your faucets and fixtures. Whether you prefer modern or something more traditional, there are many options available to extend your sense of design down to the details. Creative Carts and Savvy Stools Another option to make your kitchen feel more spacious is to invest in a rolling cabinet or cart. It can be used for storage (for example, hiding those small appliances) or serve as a kitchen island which, when not in use, can be stored in the pantry or closet. And if you are hosting a family get-together or party, you can use the rolling cart as your bar when entertaining guests. If you already have a kitchen island, you can save even more floor space, install swivel stools without backs. These are a great solution, as they can be neatly tucked away after a meal or when homework is done. Drawer Storage We often have good intentions when organizing our kitchen drawers, but lets face it theyre usually a mess! According to the online remodeling and design platform, Houzz, many homeowners are taking a new approach to kitchen drawer storage and solving space dilemmas by installing customized sliding drawers. One example is an under-sink sliding drawer, which pulls out to provide easy access to cleaning supplies that often get lost behind the pipes. Another popular addition is a built-in utensil drawer. Rather than using traditional horizontal drawers that lead to utensils being piled on and lost in the back, this vertical pullout features a variety of deep cups to hold serving ware. Or, for a more affordable solution, Houzz recommends placing stainless steel pots in a deep empty drawer for a DIY solution. Soon, with these updates youll know exactly where that spatula is hiding. Order in the House Beyond the pots and pans, the kitchen becomes a dumping ground for everyday items like the mail, iPads, keys, books, bags, and more. Instead of letting paperwork collect on your island or countertops, create a central command station complete with stylish baskets to hide clutter plus built-in book shelves or mail slots to ensure everything has a proper place. Or, if you have enough space, add a desk as a devoted area for paper storage as well as a work centre to pay bills or do school work. With a few simple projects, you can cook up some space in your kitchen and achieve maximum organization and style. Contact your VERICO Broker for details on how you could win $5000.00* to renovate your home! You could be the next winner of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest! *Purchase Necessary. Residents of Quebec are excepted from this contest.
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CREA Updates Resale Housing Forecast

7/7/2014

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 for 2014 and 2015. Extraordinarily bleak winter weather made for a slow start to 2014 national sales activity. As the first quarter ended, sales momentum heading into spring was constrained by a continuing shortage of listings in a number of local markets. The rise in newly listed properties in April and May supported an increase in sales activity. The deferral of sales and listings reflects a delayed start to the spring home buying season, with combined sales for the period from March to May coming in largely as anticipated and at average levels. These deferrals are now likely to have been largely depleted, which suggests that the strength of sales momentum heading into the summer may be transient. CREAs forecast for sales activity in 2014 is largely unchanged from its previous forecast published in March. At that time, interest rates had been expected to start to edge higher in the second half of the year. However, it now appears that interest rates may not begin to rise until closer to the end of the year, which remains supportive for home ownership affordability over the balance of 2014. Sales are forecast to reach 463,400 units in 2014, representing an increase of 1.2 per cent compared to 2013. This is little changed from CREAs forecast of 463,700 sales (rising 1.3 per cent) published in March. Activity is still expected to remain in line with its 10-year average and to hold within fairly short reach of 450,000 units for the seventh consecutive year (Chart A). British Columbia is forecast to post the largest year-over-year increase in activity (8.3 per cent), and make the biggest contribution to the increase in national sales activity. B.C.s projected increase in sales this year largely reflects a slow start to 2013. Albertas annual sales are projected to rise by +3.8 per cent increase in 2014, while activity in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario is expected to be roughly in line with 2013 levels. Sales are forecast to fall by 1.7 per cent and Quebec, 4.2 per cent in New Brunswick in 2014, 5.1 per cent in Nova Scotia, and by 2.6 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2015, the outlook for the economy, jobs and incomes is one of further improvement, accompanied by a slow and gradual increase in fixed and variable mortgage interest rates. On balance, these two opposing factors should most benefit housing markets where sales are currently softer but prices remain more affordable. Sales in relatively less affordable housing markets are likely to be more sensitive to higher fixed mortgage rates, whether from the standpoint of higher monthly mortgage payments or qualification for mortgage financing based on the posted five-year mortgage interest rate. As such, provinces east of Ontario are expected to post the largest gains in activity in 2015 in the range of around 2.5 to five per cent, while sales in provinces from British Columbia to Ontario are forecast to remain little changed. National activity is now forecast to reach 467,800 units in 2015, representing a further annual increase of 0.9 per cent. This would result in sales staying in line with the 10-year average for the eighth year in a row. Average prices have remained firm and continue to reflect a rise in the share of national sales among some of Canadas most active and expensive markets compared to last year. Additionally, prices have been heating up in some markets, particularly in Calgary and Toronto where single family properties remain in short supply. The national average home price is now projected to rise by 5.7 per cent to $404,300 in 2014, with similar sized gains in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. More modest changes in average prices are forecast for all other provinces this year. The national average price is forecast to edge up a further 0.7 per cent in 2015 to $407,300. Alberta and Manitoba are forecast to post average price gains of two per cent in 2015, followed closely by Ontario at 1.2 per cent. Average prices in all other provinces are forecast to remain stable, edging up by less than one percentage point.
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Make two company, not a crowd, in your master bath

7/4/2014

They say: dont marry the person you can live with, marry the person you cant live without. But while you may be ready to share your life with someone, you may quickly realize you arent willing to shareeverything, and some of your partners habits you could definitely livewithout. So how can you achieve togetherness with bliss? His-and-her master bath bathrooms could be the perfect solution. The Wall Street Journalrecently reported that his-and-her master bathrooms (the industry term that allocates separate spaces for a couple) are no longer just for luxury homes; the trend is cropping up in a wide range of home sizes and prices. In fact, developers report that the size of master bathrooms has increased dramatically, making room for partner-friendly features. Why? Many working couples get ready at the same time each morning, making these separate spaces a way to combat scheduling bathroom time. Plus, many are enjoying the room as a place for morning conversations and planning the day,without tripping over each other. And for empty nesters and baby boomers, they are hitting the age where they seek comfort and tranquility and are willing to splurge on a space where they can spend time together. So what are homeowners adding to these new his-and-her baths? Here are a few suggestions on creating a master bath for two thats functional, fashionable and fabulous: Achieving Bathroom Bliss Do you find gobs of toothpaste left in the sink by your partner troublesome? Or have you tried to brush your teeth at the same time and at the same sink as your spouse? Research proves these are top annoyances. So, dont sweat these small things separate them.Separate sink spaces help eliminate tension and make getting ready with your partner easier. And when choosing new sinks and faucets, designers at Moen tell us that their new Align collection is the perfect solution to create a distinctly designed bath. This sleek and modern line offers a variety of faucet options with one or two handles and in popular finishes such as chrome or Moens own Lifeshine Brushed Nickel to meet any style preferences. In addition to splitting the sink area, be sure to install two of every bathroom accessory, ensuring each partner has their own designated space for storing personal belongings. To perfectly match your two new faucets, the Align collection gives you robe hooks, plus a unique swiveling double robe hook that combines two hooks in one to hold towels and robes for both partners, along with towel rings, and 18- and 24-inch (45- and 69- centimetres) towel bars. Sensational Showers For couples looking at a shower space thats customized to their specific needs, Moen also tells us that digital shower systems, like their IoDigial, bring a truly unique element to the space. Simply program the shower to deliver personalized, precise temperature and water flow. Once youve found your perfect combination, its simple to save as a pre-set and you can forget about fiddling with the temperature every time you step in the shower. Best of all, you can turn IoDigital on with a remote from across the room or while still in bed. Privacy Please A single toilet in the bath is still prevalent, but according to developers, nearly a quarter of homeowners insist on a private toilet compartment. While this might be a separate area for private time, be sure to keep the peace with your partner and dont forget the little things, such as restocking the toilet paper. Luckily, installing a pivoting- or single-post paper holder makes the task even easier to ensure you combat this common pet peeve. Closets Off the Master Bath Topping the list of the most-likely must-haves for homeowners in 2014 is a walk-in closet off the master suite. According to homebuilders, this extra space is the perfect solution for couples. Adding an organizational system will help designate spaces for you and your significant other, such as tie racks for men or drawers and shelves for womens accessories and shoes. With a bit more square footage and designated his-and-her amenities, todays homeowners are finding harmony when sharing their bathroom. Just dont forget the little stuff (like putting the cap on the toothpaste) to keep the serenity of the space and make two company, not a crowd. Contact your VERICO Broker for details on how you could win $5000.00* to renovate your home! You could be the next winner of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest! *Purchase Necessary. Residents of Quebec are excepted from this contest.
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Canadian home sales up in May

7/2/2014

According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity posted a sizeable month-over-month increase in May 2014. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 5.9 per cent from April to May 2014. This marks the largest month-over-month increase in nearly four years. Sales rose in four out of every five local housing markets in May, including almost all large urban markets. The largest gains driving the national increase were posted in Calgary, Greater Toronto and Montreal. The monthly increase in May activity was widespread among local housing markets, with some 80 per cent of them reporting stronger sales compared to April, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. Over the past 25 years, that widespread a monthly sales increase has been recorded only a handful of times. Even so, the improvement varied by location. Your local REALTOR is your best source of information about the factors driving the market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in May stood 4.8 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year, and 3.8 per cent above the 10-year average for the month of May. May sales were up from year-ago levels in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Calgary, and Greater Toronto. Monthly activity trailed levels reported last May in Montreal and Halifax-Dartmouth. The national trend for new listings has mirrored the trend for sales in recent months. The number of newly listed homes rose 3.8 per cent in May, marking a fourth straight monthly gain. Also in line with sales activity, new listings were up in about 80 per cent of local markets. In markets where supply had become tight, we expected sales to improve in tandem with listings, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Had it not been for such a brutal winter that delayed the launch of the spring market, the improvement in new listings and sales would likely have been more spread out over the past few months. Combined sales over the past three months are roughly in line with the 10-year average for that three month period. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 53.1 per cent in May, up from 52.0 per cent in March and April but still well entrenched within the 40 to 60 per cent range that marks balanced market territory. Nearly 60 per cent of all local markets posted a sales-to-new listings ratio in this range in May. The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. The number of months of inventory has firmed slightly since the beginning of 2014. There were 6.0 months of inventory nationally at the end of May 2014 compared with 6.5 months at the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, as with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the number of months of inventory continues to suggest that Canadas housing market is generally well-balanced, with year-over-year price growth varied among local housing markets tracked by the index, with the biggest gains having been posted by Calgary (+10.12 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.08 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+4.27 per cent). The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in May 2014 was $416,584, up 7.1 per cent from the same month last year. The national average price continues to be skewed upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canadas largest and most expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price reaches a relatively more modest $336,373 while the year-over-year increase shrinks to 5.3 per cent. The MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is. The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI was up by 4.98 per cent year-over-year in May, which is slightly smaller than gains of 5.03 per cent and 5.19 per cent in April and March respectively. Year-over-year price growth gained strength for two-storey single family homes and townhouse/row units, and lost a bit of momentum for one-storey single family homes and apartment units. Year-over-year price gains were led by two-storey single family homes (+5.98 per cent), followed closely by price increases for one-storey single family homes (+5.19 per cent) and townhouse/row units (+5.04 per cent). The price increase for apartment units was comparatively more modest (+2.93 per cent). Year-over-year price growth varied among local housing markets tracked by the index, with the biggest gains having been posted by Calgary (+10.12 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.08 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+4.27 per cent). Further information can be found athttp://crea.ca/statistics.
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Four kitchen fixes for great compliments

6/30/2014

No matter if youre an aspiring chef or TV dinner connoisseur, if the look of your kitchen makes you want to dine out it may be time for an upgrade. The kitchen should be the heart of your home where you entertain, hold family meetings and even pay bills. So why not take it from make-do to magnificent? Nothing reinvigorates a home like a newly remodeled kitchen, but its true that the costs to completely renovate this room can add up quickly. In fact, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), kitchen projects can range from less than $20,000 to more than $100,000, so its best to think of renovating this space as an investment. Here are five must-do updates that ensure your remodeled kitchen will earn compliments from anyone who enters. 1. Faucet Facelift The sink area is among the most hardworking ofkitchenspaces, and the faucet in particular, gets the most grueling daily workout. Because of its constant use, updating the faucet will immediately improve the function and look of your prep space. To easily obtain a contemporary look in the kitchen, the new Tilt pullout kitchen faucet from Moen is the ideal choice for homeowners wanting to create a sleek and chic statement at the sink. Tilt offers compact, modern styling that works well in any size kitchen. Its also offered in two on-trend finishes: Chrome and Spot Resist Stainless, which helps the faucet stay visibly cleaner, longer. And dont just stop with the kitchen faucet. Fixtures such as built-in soap dispensers or beverage faucets can further the functionality and improved styling at the sink. In fact, research shows that more than one-third of homeowners remodeling their kitchens are interested in beverage faucets with filtration systems, as well as matching soap dispensers. Moen points to its line of soap dispensers, plus its Sip beverage faucets. Each is available in traditional, transitional and modern designs in matching finishes, elegantly coordinating with the rest of the space. 2. Amp Up Accessories Much like fashion, accessories can make a room. Think of hardware asthe finishing touch to make your space feel polished, but also serve a purpose. To start, easily answer the age-old question: Wheres the dish towel? Most homes dont have a convenient place devoted to hanging this commodity in the kitchen. For a stylish solution, install accessories such as hooks, towel bars or towel rings on the side of an upper cabinet, the end of the island or in other work areas. Next, think of the sink: accessories such as colanders and cutting boards can now fit seamlessly into the sink to help make meal prep and clean up a breeze. 3. Enhance the Lighting Lighting is a critical element in kitchen design, both for its decorative and functional benefits. But not all lighting is created equal; the best way to enhance the room is to install custom lighting to suit your kitchens needs. It can also make the space look roomier and more elegant. With styles ranging from incandescent bulbs with vintage glass shades to ultra-chic halogen cones, hangingpendantsare popular ceiling fixtures for thekitchen. For an instant update, install pendants over an island or countertop where the low-hanging fixtures wont interfere with traffic flow. 4. Add Personality After tackling your kitchen updates, be sure to treat yourself and your kitchen to something nice. Adding something pretty like a bouquet of flowers, new linens, or a bright new tea pot will bring life into the space. You can also jazz up yourkitchenwith lively artwork. Whether its a professional painting or fun vintage posters, artwork helps complete your renovation. For a more personal touch, hang a grouping of family photographs, or frame some of your childrens more colourful artistic creations for a vibrant and charming display. Before starting demolition on your kitchen remodel, make sure the design is a reflection of you. By following these five steps, not only will you have a kitchen that complements your lifestyle, you will also draw plenty of compliments from family and friends. Contact your VERICO Broker for details on how you could win $5000.00* to renovate your home! You could be the next winner of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest! *Purchase Necessary. Residents of Quebec are excepted from this contest.
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Five reasons why every Canadian woman should have her own will

6/27/2014

Making a will is a sensible and worthwhile task that everybody, whatever their age or financial status, should do. However there are some special reasons why women should make a will of their own: Women usually live longer than their husbands, so its a good idea for each of you to have your own will. Planning for children or other dependants is something that women usually want to pay special attention to. Taxes and legal concerns (especially if there was a previous marriage or other dependants) should be looked at. Many women will want to make special arrangements for the distribution of family heirlooms, jewellery, items of historical or sentimental value, and their own property. Continuing the support for charities and organizations that many women supported during their lifetimes may be a consideration. A will lets you decide With a properly prepared will, you can ensure that: Property will be distributed exactly as you would have wished; You can name your own executor to administer your estate; Guardians of children will be named in the way you want; Personal items such as jewellery and antiques will be handled the way you intend; Individuals, your church, health charities and organizations like Amnesty International will receive the support you had always intended for them. Common questions include: How do I start? If you do not have a will, now is the time to prepare one. While a will does not need to be a complicated document, it is always advisable to contact a lawyer or trust company to help you. The peace of mind which comes from ensuring there are no small mistakes or omissions which could cause difficulties for your heirs is well worth the costs of such services. Can I change my will? Yes, you can always change your will, either completely or by means of a codicil, which is a document that adds to or alters your existing will. You should seek legal advice to do this as requirements vary from province to province. Should I leave money to a good cause? Always take care of your loved ones first, but then consider if there are organizations and causes youd also like to support with your estate. The tradition of leaving money to charities that benefit society and your community is many centuries old. Today, people at all income levels support organizations like the Cancer Society or Amnesty International through their wills. These bequests are a vital source of funds for the organizations and stand as a lasting memorial to the donor. For individuals who feel that they cannot afford to make a large donation to a cause they support during their lifetime, a bequest in a will can be a good way to make a lasting contribution.
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Canadian Mortgage Market Rests in Delicate Balance (Part 2)

6/25/2014

Low interest rates stimulate home purchase, mortgage debt reduction, optimism Canadians are reducing their mortgages by negotiating lower interest rates, making lump sum pre-payments and repaying their mortgages at, on average, two-thirds of their contracted amortization periods. This has created an attractive landscape for new homeowners, as historically low interest rates have attracted increasing numbers of first-time buyers, who made up fifty-five per cent of new homes purchased in 2013. In the survey, Canadians express a strong belief that real estate in Canada is a good long term investment and agree that mortgages are a form of good debt. Canadians still feel optimistic about the economy in the coming 12 months, and say they have no regrets taking on the size of mortgage they did. Economic storm clouds Even as the housing market appears buoyant, new housing starts have dropped, a slowdown that is just getting started, raising warning flags over bigger negative impacts to come. Across Canada the housing market is slowing, and has been on a downward swing since the mortgage policy change in 2012, said Will Dunning, CAAMP Chief Economist. While the national market may look healthy, activity in the Greater Toronto Area (including Hamilton), the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the Calgary area is skewing the numbers high. In the rest of Canada sales activity has weakened and house prices are flat, and even falling in some communities. Housing has played a key role in driving economic growth and job creation in Canada. But looking ahead, decreased starts and slower price growth will throw off the balance between the housing market and the overall economy. The Report urges policy makers not to confuse rising home prices in the Greater Toronto Area (including Hamilton) and the Greater Vancouver Regional District where urban land shortages are driving prices, and the Calgary area, which currently benefits from strong job creation, with the slowdown which is evident in other communities across the country. The strongest indicator is housing starts. The Report says new urban low rise housing starts have dropped by around 15 per cent and it is expected that apartment starts will also soon follow. The overall impact is that starts will have dropped by 20 per cent by late next year, compared to 2011 and 2012 levels. This matters because the housing market is closely tied to the economy, generating jobs in construction, manufacturing, financial services and more. Each new single family home built in Canada creates 2 to 2.5 person years of employment, so a slowdown in starts will inevitably result in fewer jobs. In addition, a slowdown in the housing market dampens consumer confidence, which is typically boosted by house prices. Declining consumer confidence leads to a decrease in spending, which will negatively impact the broader economy. For a full copy of CAAMPs spring survey report, visitwww.caamp.org.
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Canadian Mortgage Market Rests in Delicate Balance (Part 1)

6/23/2014

The Canadian mortgage market rests in a delicate balance: CAAMP Housing activity high in three major markets; while most of Canada experiences slowdown First time home buyers continue to enter the Canadian housing market in substantial numbers, encouraged by low interest rates and acting in response to their own favourable economic circumstances, according to the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP), in its newest consumer survey report, Looking for a New Normal in the Residential Mortgage Market. The report spends some time looking at Canadians attitudes about their purchase decisions and found that homeowners appear to be happy with the decision to buy their home. They say they feel confident they can weather a downturn in the housing market and they consider mortgage debt to be good debt. Their attitudes are the same whether they live in Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver where prices continue to rise, or in areas where home prices are stabilizing. Highlights 55 per cent of homes purchased in 2013 were bought by first time buyers Most Canadians say they have no regrets taking on the size of mortgage they did and that real estate is a good long term investment 66 per cent agree in some degree that mortgages are a form of good debt House prices in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver have increased by a year-over-year rate of 8.2 per cent, compared to just 2.9 per cent in the rest of Canada By next year, housing starts will have fallen by 20 per cent compared to levels in 2011 and 2012 More than 80 per cent of homeowners in Canada have 25 per cent or more equity in their homes The average mortgage interest rate is 3.24 per cent, a drop from the average of 3.5 per cent found in the fall 2013 survey From the consumer perspective we have a picture of a very confident, healthy mortgage market, said Jim Murphy, AMP, President and CEO of CAAMP. Key to the current stability in the mortgage market is the fact that Canadians continue to pay down their mortgage debt faster than they are required and they continue to take out five-year, fixed rate mortgages. Canadians who renew their mortgages are seeing their interest costs reduced, which is boosting their personal financial circumstances, and this will continue to be a positive force during the coming year.
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May 2014 Housing Starts in Canada

6/20/2014

Housing starts in Canada were trending at 184,438 units in May compared to 183,872 in April, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1of housing starts. In May, the trend in housing starts was virtually unchanged for the third consecutive month. This is in line with CMHCs analysis indicating that the new home construction market in Canada is headed for a soft landing in 2014, said Bruno Duhamel, Manager, Housing and Economic Analysis. Builders are expected to continue to manage their starts activity in order to ensure that demand from buyers seeking new units is first channeled toward unsold completed units or unsold units that are currently under construction, including condominium units. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of the housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading in some markets, as they are largely driven by the multiples segment of the markets which can be quite variable from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 198,324 units in May, a slight increase from 196,687 in April. The SAAR of urban starts increased to 180,813 units. Multiple urban starts decreased to 117,709 units while the single-detached urban starts segment increased to 63,104 units. In May, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and British Columbia, held steady in Ontario, and decreased in the Prairies. If you are thinking about buying a new home, contact me and I can help you make the most of your finances.
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YOUNG BC FAMILY WINS $5000 FROM VERICO TO RENOVATE PURCHASE INTO DREAM HOME!

5/30/2014

VERICO Canada and VERICO Compass Mortgage Group are pleased to announce the first winners of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest. Dean Larson and Aaron Marsh of VERICO Compass Mortgage along with Sean Widdess, Vice President of Business Development and Jared Dreyer, Vice President of Corporate Relations, VERICO Canada, presented a cheque to winners Ryan Bohonos and Elaine Bohonos of New Westminster, BC. We are so very grateful for Aarons assistance in the whole mortgage process, but winning VERICOs renovation contest is icing on the cake, says Elaine Bohonos. We cant stop sharing this story with everyone we meet...its incredible, adds Mrs. Bohonos. When I told my clients the good news, they were very excited, but most of all, they were extremely appreciative. This extra $5,000 will go a long way in their renovation project. It is such a thrill to be part of this fantastic VERICO promotion. These clients couldnt be any happier,says AaronMarsh, Mortgage Broker of VERICO Compass Mortgage Group. What a great privilege to be able to brighten someones day, says Dean Larson, Owner of VERICO Compass Mortgage Group. In partnership with VERICO Canada, we were able to greatly enhance the overall home buying experience for these clients, and I was thrilled that VERICO Compass Mortgage Group could be a part of it. VERICO Canada is delighted to support Dean and Aaron in helping to create a great experience for their clients, says Sean Widdess, Vice President of Business Development VERICO Canada. We look forward to giving away another $25,000 to the 5 next lucky winners! Clients of VERICO mortgage brokers can win 1 of 6 prizes of $5000.00 to go towards their home renovations through the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest. Another five prizes are still up for grabs. A Purchase Plus Improvement mortgage gives qualifying clients the ability to access up to $40,000 for the purpose of renovations. This amount is rolled up into their mortgage so clients are able pay it off as a part of their regular mortgage payments. This mortgage option allows home buyers, especially first timers, to take their first step into home ownership and still have the funds to renovate their purchase into their dream home. To find out how you could win $5000.00 please contact me!
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How to be a road warrior

5/13/2014

For many of us, exercise isnt easy. So its no surprise that when taken out of our regular routines its one of the first things to fall to the wayside - along with that strict diet youve been following, of course! Whether youre flying or driving, at a hotel with a gym or without, here are eight simple tips for your next trip: Pack healthy snacks Travelling can be stressful which will make you want to eat junk. But with nutritious snacks on-hand, youll avoid giving into that temptation. Stock the mini fridge with fruits and yogurt and use the coffee makers water dispenser to make oatmeal as a healthy breakfast. Slip on those walking shoes We recently read that sitting is the new smoking, so make sure to get up and walk as much as you can. Whether its a few blocks to your next meeting or just around the airport terminal - just remember to pack comfortable shoes. Stay hydrated Flying dehydrates you, which makes you tired and when youre tired you can overeat. Keep a bottle of water with you at all time and youll make friends with your waistline and skin. Note: Alcoholic beverages do not count. Stretch it out Do a little yoga after youve been sitting for an extended period. Your body will thank you. Its a great idea to also stretch out before bed as it can help alleviate stress. Pack lightweight fitness essentials Aside from your running shoes and workout gear, a skipping rope can be your best friend if youre craving some cardio on the go. Resistance bands are also useful. Schedule your workout Its easy to say theres no time or brush it aside when outside of your normal schedule, but by adding it into your daily agenda, youll increase the likelihood of actually getting to it - whether youre a morning person or night owl. Check your gym options If you know that the gym in your hotel is a claustrophobic box with a 1980s treadmill, make sure to bring your membership from home with you. Bring Rover Now this might not be possible for some professions, however, if you have an animal-friendly joband hotel, consider bringing your furry friend along. Those daily walks will help keep you in shape and its someone to cuddle with at night.
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Housing Starts on stable trend says CMHC

5/8/2014

Housing starts in Canada were trending at 183,515 units in April compared to 184,602 in March, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. In April, the trend in housing starts was essentially stable at 183,515 units. This is in line with CMHCs analysis indicating that the new home construction market in Canada is headed for a soft landing in 2014, said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist. Over the remainder of the year, builders are expected to continue to adjust activity, particularly with respect to multiples, in order to manage inventory levels.
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Join in the discussions about your Canada Pension Plan

5/5/2014

Are you one of millions who wonder how your CPP contributions are invested? This is the year to find out. On June 9, 2014, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is inviting Canadians to join their electronic town hall, an interactive webcast to hear about the organizations most recent financial performance, and pose any questions we might have to top executives. CPPIB is a professional investment management organization and on behalf of the 18 million contributors and beneficiaries, it invests the assets of the CPP that are not currently required to pay benefits. The organization holds public meetings every two years to give Canadians an opportunity to find out how it is helping to secure their retirement futures. It also follows rigorous disclosure practices to ensure transparency in its investment operations. Every two years, the board holds in-person events at one location in each of the nine provinces where Canadians contribute to the CPP. But starting in 2012, it began to offer the live interactive webcast to coincide with the in-person events. This addition gave far more Canadians the opportunity to participate in the meetings. This year, viewers will see a presentation about the investment strategies and financial performance from CPPIBs president and CEO Mark Wiseman, and from Robert Astley, chair of the board of directors. The two executives will then participate in a live question and answer period, responding to both webcast viewers and to those in the various live locations. Anyone interested in viewing or participating online can find more information at www.cppib.com. Participants are encouraged to pre-register and submit their questions. The website also lists the locations of the live event locations in each province. The webcast will remain on CPPIBs site after June 9th so that anyone who missed it can view the meeting. The good news for Canadians is that the CPP remains financial sound. The chief actuary of Canada examines the financial health of the Canada Pension Plan every three years and issued his latest report in December 2013. In it he reaffirmed that the CPP will remain sustainable at the current contribution rate of 9.9% throughout the future 75-year period of this report, even with the aging of the Canadian population. The assets of the CPP Fund totaled $201.5 billion at December 31, 2013. The fund is invested in Canada and globally in a broadly diversified portfolio of public and private equities, real estate, infrastructure, and fixed income instruments. www.newscanada.com
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Ways to use the equity in your home

4/30/2014

Once youre a homeowner, the payoff can be great. When you make a mortgage payment each month, you build equity in a place of your own. As the equity in your home grows, your financial flexibility also increases. Think of it as an extra source of financing for when the unexpected happens. An added benefit of borrowing money against the equity in your home, is it usually comes with a lower interest rate than other forms of credit, such as consumer loans, lines of credit and credit cards. Here are some ways you can use the equity in your home: Pay off other debts with higher interest rates (like credit card debt) Renovate or repair your home build a new room or put in a swimming pool For important life events a wedding, dream vacation or university tuition Purchase a second home or vacation property Emergencies like a serious illness Want to know more about how you can access the equity in your home? Contact me for more details. Genworth Canada
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Buy a home sooner to build equity

4/28/2014

Buying a home can be very beneficial to your finances in the long-run. This is because a home allows you to buildequity.When you make a mortgage payment each month, you build equity in a place of your own (unlike renting). Equity is the difference between the value of the home and your outstanding mortgage. The longer you stay in your home (and the more payments you make), the more equity youll have. And, unlike most things you buy, a home will almost certainly increase in value over time which builds even more equity. Follow my blog, to find out ways to use the equity in your home. Source: Genworth Canada
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Canadians are locking into Fixed Rate Mortgages (Part 2)

4/25/2014

New homeowners looking for greater predictability A recentpoll conducted by Nielsen finds that Canadians are increasingly focused on moving to fixed-rate mortgages. The poll also revealed thatyounger Canadians are even more likely to choose a fixed rate mortgage, with56%of Canadians aged 25-34 saying they would lock in to a fixed rate today; the number has been steadily increasing over the last four years. In contrast, more established homeowners (aged 45-54) were among those less likely to lean towards a fixed rate (43%). For Canadians who have recently taken out a mortgage, have additional expenses, or are still holding debt, the predictability of a fixed mortgage rate may be appealing. According to the survey, many Canadians still prefer fixed mortgage rates over VRM (Variable Rate Mortgages). Homeowners at any stage in life should consider their tolerance for fluctuating rates when choosing between a fixed or variable mortgage rate. If you are unsure whether fixed or variable rate is right for you, contact me to find out more.
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Canadians are locking into Fixed Rate Mortgages (Part 1)

4/23/2014

A recentpoll conducted by Nielsen finds that nearly half of Canadians dont think low rates will last forever and expect mortgage rates to be higher a year from now. The poll also shows that Canadians are increasingly focused on moving to fixed-rate mortgages. According to the Consumer Insights survey, many Canadians still prefer fixed mortgage rates over VRM (Variable Rate Mortgages). The survey found that about 48% of Canadians would choose a fixed rate mortgage if they had to make that decision today, 31% would choose variable rate mortgage today, and 19% were undecided as to which type of mortgage they would choose. The survey also notes, that although Canadians have had a relatively stable rate environment for a number of years, they are becoming more prudent when it comes to mortgage planning. By locking into a fixed rate mortgage, Canadians reduce their risk of an increase in interest rates during the term of their mortgage. If you are unsure about choosing between a Fixed Rate Mortgage or Variable Rate Mortgage, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to assist you.
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Have an early discussion with your kids about money management

4/16/2014

The Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson and Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) Deputy Commissioner Brigitte Goulard, kicked offTalk with Our Kids About Money Day, a financial Literacy campaign for youngsters. Talk With Our Kids About Money Dayencourages parents and teachers to be involved and actively engage in conversations with kids and young adults about money management. From their first cell phone, to their first credit card, many young Canadians are making financial decisions without proper guidance. Having an early discussion about money will help your kids build knowledge and skills for decision making in their financial future. Parents can start by modeling good spending behaviour and ensuring your child practices sound money management. Make sure to discuss money management in a variety of settings and get your childs opinions and input about money both at home and when you are out and about. There are a number of tools, guides, and support materials you can use to help you get started.Click here for more information.
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Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment (Part 3)

4/14/2014

There are many factors as to why Canadian homebuyers are thinking more about smart home investing and careful financial planning -As discussed on our previous blogs, Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment Part 1 2. Based on the Canada-wide survey commissioned by Genworth Canada, homebuyers are working harder and making larger contributions towards their down payment for a new home purchase. Canadians are slowly building up more confidence in their goals towards homeownership while young professionals are saving up for their down payments, 67 percent of the older generations say their goal is to pay off their mortgage faster which has increased from 62 percent in 2013. Over the last two years, financial literacy attitudes of Canadians have stayed consistently stronger than before. While our financial well-being is strengthening, we are also becoming more fiscally responsible. For example, the proportion of First-Time Buyers/Intenders who say they dont know what their credit rating is has declined from 32 percent to 23 percent. According to the official release, 95 percent agree that children should be taught basic finances and budgeting in school, and 93 percent would like to see education provided before people take out their first loan or credit card. For more information on homeownership, please feel free to contact me and I can give you guidance on making your first home purchase. Source: Genworth Canada
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Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment (Part 2)

4/11/2014

In the last blog, Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment Part 1, we discussed some of the factors as to why Canadian homebuyers are thinking more about smart home investing and careful financial planning. According to a Canada-wide survey commissioned by Genworth Canada, homebuyers are working harder and making larger contributions towards their savings in order to make a home purchase. Image sourced from Genworth Canada Canadians are slowly building up more confidence in their goals towards homeownership. According to the official release of the survey, about nine out of ten people believe that owning their own home gives them a greater sense of emotional well-being. Despite the fact that it could mean more work needed towards saving up, Canadians would rather own a home than pay rent. For more information on homeownership, please feel free to contact me and I can give you guidance on making your first home purchase. Source: Genworth Canada
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Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment (Part 1)

4/9/2014

According to a Canada-wide survey commissioned by Genworth Canada, homebuyers are working harder and for a longer period to save for a down payment; though many remain confident in buying a home as a long-term investment, according to the national poll surveying Canadians about their financial well-being and preparedness. Image sourced from Genworth Canada Despite tighter mortgage qualification criteria over recent years, survey results point towards positive trends in homebuyer behaviour, Stuart Levings, Chief Operating Officer of Genworth Canada noted in the official release. With a stable economy and real estate market, Canadians appear to have more confidence in the value of homeownership and see their goals of homeownership and financial well-being as more achievable. Canadian homebuyers are definitely thinking more about smart home investing, and by doing so, the first step in making the down payment is by saving up and through careful financial planning. The official release states that about 50 percent of potential home buyers will save up for 1-2 years; whereas, 29 percent estimates that it could take them up to 3-4 years to save up. Additionally, about 17 percent say now would be a good time to make a home purchase, with 19 percent being a higher proportion of those individuals whom are optimistic first-time buyers. Regardless of the increased prices of the housing market since 2013 and many Canadians believing that it will increase in the next 12 months,according to the official release,home ownership is still considered more favourable in comparison to renting. The study also found that 53 percent of the respondents are worried about missing the big opportunity this year of buying a house, as most are financially stretched. Source: Genworth Canada For more information on homeownership, please feel free to contact me for guidance on making your first home purchase.
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Take the hard work out of spring cleaning

4/7/2014

(NC) Look on the bright side. Annual spring cleaning doesnt have to be a chore, but rather a chance to revitalize your home. The tasks come in all shapes and sizes, and more often than not, some items are bound to be overlooked. Real top-to-bottom housecleaning can take hours, but not always. Many of the high-tech home appliances do extra work now, giving us valuable time back every day. So here are a few pointers to put the shine back quickly, and get you out of the house: Nitty-gritty The best way to get a thorough clean is to tackle the hard-to-reach places. Behind the couch, under the carpet, and in the corners of the basement office, dust and cobwebs reside just waiting to be caught. To get the best results, dont forget to reach high and low. When the chores are done you will appreciate the extra effort. Keep clean year round Innovative technology in your appliances is an easy way to ensure time-saving cleaning practices are in place, every day. For example, LGs new Fully-Integrated Dishwasher with TrueSteam technology has a third rack to give you the room and flexibility you need and also eliminates the time spent pre-washing. Additional information at: LG.com Think outside the box Spring cleaning doesnt have to be lacklustre. Think of those unconventional spaces that are due for a refresh. Dust and grime often reside on doorknobs, light fixtures and ceiling fans, so get creative and switch up your cleaning routine. Let appliances do the work for you Many appliances have self-clean settings, which saves you the time and effort of scrubbing till they sparkle. www.newscanada.com
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Is it better to buy a new or resale home?

4/4/2014

(NC) The decision to buy a home is usually both exciting and daunting. While you may know the size or style of home you want, such as condominium or townhouse, the choice between a new or resale home is another important consideration. Both new and resale homes have their advantages and drawbacks, which may range from having a home with character and history to customizing a brand new space for a turnkey experience. What some people may not know is that there are different legal considerations when purchasing a new versus resale home, says Ray Leclair, vice president of public affairs at LAWPRO. Purchasing a home is a significant investment, so be sure to protect it by addressing uncertainties with a real estate lawyer. To help in your decision-making between a new or resale home, Leclair advises considering the following factors: New home Advantages: The work is compliant with the latest construction and safety code requirements; Warranties for construction/appliance/system defects provide peace of mind; A building-location survey is generally available. Drawbacks: Construction may not be completed in time for the proposed move-in; The buying decision may be based on plans, rather than actually viewing the property or seeing a similar model; There may be ongoing construction around the home or in the neighbourhood and landscaping and upgrades are discouraged while work proceeds or within warranty periods. Resale home Advantages: Buyers can see what they are buying and have the opportunity to inspect the home; Generally the home will be in an established neighbourhood without ongoing construction; The neighbourhood landscape and infrastructure is known and ready to enjoy think parks, schools and shopping. Drawbacks: There will likely be no warranties or recourse if a defect is discovered; It may be difficult to see any hidden problems and there is no guarantee that plumbing, electrical or the construction are up-to-code; If there is a building-location survey, it is likely dated. While these lists arent comprehensive, they can help buyers determine whats most important when shopping for a new home. Ultimately, the key is to make an informed decision and find something that suits budget, neighbourhood preferences and personal style. Source: www.newscanada.com Mortgage brokers are an important part of buying owning a home.For more information on purchasing a new home, please feel free to contact me.
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Canadian Housing Market: Housing starts to remain stable in 2014 and 2015

4/2/2014

Date Released: First Quarter 2014 Overview Housing starts to remain stable in 2014 and 2015 2014 187,300 2015 184,900 MLS sales to rebound in 2014 and increase slightly in 2015 2014 466,500 2015 474,700 *Theoutlookissubjecttouncertainty.Althoughpointforecastsarepresentedinthispublication,CMHCalsopresentsforecastrangesandriskswhereappropriate. The forecasts included in this document reflectinformation available as of January 22, 2014. *Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a registered trademark owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association. While housing demand will be supported by an improvement in fundamentals, total housing starts will remain more or less stable over the forecast horizon. With a relatively high number of units under construction in some local markets, builders are expected to adjust the pace of new activity in order to manage their inventory levels. Overall, total housing starts are expected to remain mostly unchanged in 2014, reaching 187,300 units, before moderating to 184,900 units in 2015. Existing home sales are expected to rise moderately along with economic conditions in 2014 and 2015. On an annual basis, sales through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are expected to reach 466,500 units in2014 and 474,700 units in 2015. *Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a registered trademark owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association In line with expectations that most local housing markets will remain in or near balanced market conditions, the average MLS price average for Canada is expected to grow at a rate near inflation over the forecast horizon. The average MLS price is expected to reach $390,400 in 2014 and $397,100 in 2015, representing increases of 2.1 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively. Economic Forecasts CMHC uses publicly available information and the consensus among major Canadian forecasters as a basis for its economic forecasts. GDP growth is estimated at 1.8 per cent in 2013. In accordance with the consensus among prominent Canadian economic forecasters, growth in gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast at 2.2 per cent in 2014, rising to 2.5 per cent in 2015. Over the forecast horizon, the sources of economic growth are expected tobe more diverse. While consumption will continue to provide support, the contribution of business investment and exports to economic growth will expand as they progressively strengthen in 2014 and 2015. Employment increased by 1.3 percent in 2013. CMHC expects that employment will grow by 1.5 per cent in 2014 and 1.8 per cent in 2015.The anticipated employment growth is expected to sustain moderate income growth and household formation over the forecast horizon. This will, in turn, support demand on the housing market. Consistent with a somewhat higher economic growth prospect, interest rates are forecast to register gradual and modest increases by the end ofthe forecast horizon, ultimately leading to a slight increase in mortgage rates. Nevertheless, this interest rate outlook will continue to support housing market activity over the forecast horizon, as mortgage rates will remain low by historical standards. According to CMHCs base case scenario for 2014, the average for the one-year posted mortgage rate is forecast to be within 3.0 per cent to 3.50 per cent, while the average forthe five-year posted mortgage rate is anticipated to be within 5.25 per cent to 5.75 per cent. For 2015, the average for the one-year posted mortgage rate is expected to rise and be in the 3.75 per cent to 4.25 per cent range, while the average for the five-year posted mortgage rate is forecast to be within 5.50 per cent to 6.25 per cent. Housing Forecasts Over the forecast horizon, the sources of economic growth in Canada are expected to continue to improve and broaden, as exports and business investment progressively strengthen. As the shift occurs, economic fundamentals, including employment and disposable income growth, are expected toincrease modestly. These factors will help to sustain demand for new home construction in 2014 and 2015. While the above cited fundamentals will help to sustain the demand for new homes in 2014 and 2015, the influence of other factors will cause housing starts to moderate over the latter part of the forecast horizon. With a relatively high number of units currently under construction in some local markets, builders are expected to gradually adjust their pace of activity in order to manage their inventory levels. Also, the expectation of modest and gradual increases in mortgage rates toward the end of the forecast horizon will also contribute to tempering demand. This, combined with a slow down in the growth of the pool of first-time buyers in late 2014 and into2015, will lead to further moderation of housing starts next year. Nevertheless, housing starts are projected to remain somewhat stable, at 187,300 units in 2014. In 2015, housing starts are expected to moderate to184,900 units. Multiple housing starts expected to stabilize in 2014 and decline in 2015 High level of activity in the years prior to 2013 left a reltively high number of multiple housing units* currently under construction in some local markets, when compared to historical averages.The strengthening of economic fundamentals over the forecast horizon, will provide support to multiple housing demand and contribute to offset the effect of a gradual and modest increase in mortgage rates and slower growth in the pool of first-time home buyers. However, in the face of relatively high numbers of units under construction, builders are expected to adjust the level of starts, so as to channel demand toward the absorption of inventories. Overall, these effects will result in multiple housing starts remainingrelatively unchanged, at 110,600 units, in 2014 and 108,700 units in 2015. *Multiple housing startsconsist of row, semi-detached and apartment units MLS sales expected to reboundin 2014 and increase slightly in 2015 In 2014 and 2015, MLS sales are expected to continue to rise along with improving economic conditions. Specifically, sales through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are expected to reach 466,500 units in 2014, before seeing an increase to 474,700 in 2015. Balanced market conditions expected to prevail over forecast horizon Balanced market conditions are expected to persist in most regions across Canada throughout the forecast horizon, and the average MLS price is expected to remain relatively stable at a rate slightly above inflation.The average MLS price is expected to increase by 2.1 per cent to reach $390,400 in 2014. In 2015, the average MLS price should move up modestly, to $397,100, for an increase of 1.7 percent. For more information on the Housing Market Outlook, and the statistical details on the housing forecast, please go toCMHC - Housing Market Outlook - Canada Highlights - First Quarter 2014. CMHCHome to Canadians Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canadas national housing agency for more than 65 years. Together with other housing stakeholders, we help ensure that the Canadian housing system remains one of the best in theworld. We are committed to helping Canadians access a wide choice of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordablehousing solutions that will continue to create vibrant and healthy communities and cities across the country. For more information, visit our website at www.cmhc.ca The information, analyses and opinions contained in this publication are based on various sources believed to be reliable,but their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information, analyses and opinions shall not be taken as representations forwhich Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or any of its employees shall incur responsibility. SOURCE: CMHC
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Four steps to buying your first home

3/31/2014

(NC) If this is the year in which you resolved to buy your first house, youre about to enter a period in your life that is both exciting and nerve-wracking. With so many factors to consider before you sign the dotted line, the financial experts from Desjardins Group have some tips and suggestions to help get you started. First, can you even afford a house? Although interest rates are low now, its important to remember that they may increase in the future. Typically, mortgages are amortized over 25 years and are offered in six-month, five- or even ten-year terms. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford because your life and financial priorities will change. Second, secure your down payment Experts advise that prospective home owners should down a down payment of up to 20 percent of the houses value. One option is to borrow against your RRSP. Each person is eligible to withdraw $25,000 or $50,000 per couple. If you havent enough in your account, its possible to take a top-up RRSP loan to reach the right amount. Once you have bought your home, youll have 15 years to repay the amount to your RRSP. Another option is to put down 10 percent and to accept a higher mortgage loan insurance amount. Third, fixed or variable rate? A fixed interest rate offers stability and predictability, but you lose out on lower interest rates should they become available. The payments with variable interest rates also remain constant but there is the risk that interest rates may go up. This means more goes to your interest payment and less to your principal. If you cant choose between the two options, a split mortgage offers you the best of both worlds. Another idea for first time home buyers is to consider qualifying for a pre-authorized mortgage. This process evaluates your financial situation to determine the maximum financing amount for which you are eligible. That way when you start looking at houses you will know which ones fit your budget. Fourth, have enough to close Avoid closing sticker shock by knowing ahead of time what other fees and taxes youll need to pay, such as: Inspection fees: If you decide to purchase an existing home, this detailed report will focus attention on any hidden defects that will require repair in the short- and long-term. Appraisal fees: Your financial institution will request that an appraiser evaluate and determine the true value of the property you wish to acquire. Legal fees: You will be responsible for hiring a lawyer who will prepare, sign and register the various legal documents related to the purchase of the property. Additional taxes and fees: Transfer tax, property tax, school taxes, electricity and natural gas bills are due at sale closing. Mortgage brokers are an important part of buying owning a home. I am a knowledgeable advisor that can help you ensure you have the right mortgage at the best interest rate available. For more information about mortgages, feel free to contact me. Source:www.newscanada.com
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Valuable Fraud Prevention Tips for Homebuyers and Homeowners: Part 2

3/28/2014

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has consistently been a leader in the fight against mortgage fraud and offers the following tips to protect yourself against becoming a victim of mortgage fraud. What Can You do to Protect Yourself? Be an informed consumer! Be wary of anyone who approaches you with an offer to make easy money in real estate. Remember: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of or accomplices to mortgage fraud. This means: Never deliberately misrepresent information when applying for a mortgage. Never accept money, guarantee a loan or add your name to a mortgage unless you fully intend to purchase the property. If you allow your personal information to be used for a mortgage you could be held responsible for the entire debt if the mortgage defaults. Always know who you are doing business with and never sign anything without understanding exactly what you are signing. Use licensed or accredited mortgage and real estate professionals. Get independent legal advice from your own lawyer/notary and talk to them about title insurance and other methods of protection. Contact the local provincial land titles office to obtain the sales history of any property you are thinking about buying and consider having it inspected and appraised. An accredited appraiser will provide the property sales and MLS history. Find out from your lawyer if anyone other than the seller has a financial interest in the home or if there are any outstanding liens or tax arrears. If a deposit is required, make sure the funds are payable to and held in trust by the vendors realty company or by a lawyer/notary. You can also help to protect yourself by inspecting your credit report at least annually by contacting Canadas two credit-reporting agencies:Equifax Canadaatwww.equifax.caandTransUnion Canadaatwww.transunion.ca. Reporting Fraud If you suspect that you or someone you know has been the victim of mortgage fraud, please contact your local police department or The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. On-line:www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca Toll Free: 1-888-495-8501 Toll Free Fax: 1-888-654-9426 Email:info@antifraudcentre.ca To find out more about mortgage fraud, visit the fraud prevention section of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) website athttp://mortgageconsumer.org/protect-yourself-from-real-estate-fraud. For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canadas national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information. Source:CMHC
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Valuable Fraud Prevention Tips for Homebuyers and Homeowners: Part 1

3/26/2014

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has consistently been a leader in the fight against mortgage fraud and offers the following tips to protect yourself against becoming a victim of mortgage fraud. Misrepresentation of Information Mortgage fraudoccurs when someone deliberately misrepresents information in order to obtain mortgage financing that would not have been granted if the truth had been known. This can include: Misstating ones position or inflating ones income or length of service at their job; Misstating employment status (ie. salaried/full time versus contract, part time, hourly or commission-based or self-employed); Misrepresenting the amount and/or source of the down payment; Purchasing a rental property and misrepresenting it as owner-occupied; Not disclosing existing mortgage and/or debt obligations; Misrepresenting property details or omitting information in order to Inflate the property value; Adding co-borrowers who will not be residing in the home and do not intend to take responsibility for the mortgage. Another common form of fraud is when a con artist convinces someone with good credit to act as astraw buyer.A straw buyer is someone who agrees to put his or her name on a mortgage application on behalf of another person. In return for their participation, straw buyers may be offered cash or promised high returns when the property is sold. Often, straw buyers are deceived into believing that they will not be responsible for the mortgage payments. Consequences of Misrepresentation Borrowers who misrepresent information and straw buyers who allow a property to be purchased in their name are committing mortgage fraud and will be responsible for any financial shortfall in the event of default. They may also be held criminally responsible for their misrepresentation. Reporting Fraud If you suspect that you or someone you know has been the victim of mortgage fraud, please contact your local police department or The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. On-line:www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca Toll Free: 1-888-495-8501 Toll Free Fax: 1-888-654-9426 Email:info@antifraudcentre.ca To find out more about mortgage fraud, visit the fraud prevention section of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) website athttp://mortgageconsumer.org/protect-yourself-from-real-estate-fraud. For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canadas national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information. Source: CMHC
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Top five home renovations that increase property value

3/24/2014

Looking to increase your homes property value? Here are five of the best renovations you can do to your home to increase property value. These five renovations can sometimes have a return on investment 5-6x what they cost. #5 Flooring Flooring is one of the most important aspects of your house. You will see an immediate rise in property valuation with the installation of hardwood floors. Existing hardwood floors that you can refinish are ideal as they are less costly to restore and in higher demand than new flooring materials. For the bathroom, tile will always be in demand and retain value exceptionally well. #4 Fixtures Kitchens often look tired and dated, in large part due to old fixtures. Replacing or updating cabinet hardware, light fixtures, countertops and faucets will result in an immediate increase in your homes value. This small, but effective upgrade will also revitalize the entire home. Pot lights are in high demand in open concept style homes. #3 Bathroom Thebathroomis the second most important room in the home in terms of valuation. If you can add a three-piece bathroom to a home with only one full bathroom, you will see a dramatic rise in the market value of your home. While you should never compromise bedroom space for a bathroom, try sneaking one in dead space in the home. Scott managed to fit in a 3-piece bathroom under a staircase the width of the room measured just 44 inches. As an added tip, use glass for the shower to make the bathroom feel more spacious. #2 Kitchen Kitchens are the single most important room in the home relating to valuation. The kitchen can make a significant difference in the value of your home. As such, it is crucial that you invest in having a modern, fresh anddesirable kitchen. Modern cabinetry, under cabinet lighting and new appliances will all significantly increase the value of your home on the market. To save on cost without compromising construction and desirability, look at options like Ikea cabinets as opposed to custom cabinetry. #1 An Income Suite No surprise, but the single biggest way to increase the value of your home is to build an income suite within the property. Whether this is converting yourbasement into a rental, or another floor in the home, an income property will increase your homes worth. The main reason for this is that it covers a portion, or sometimes all of your mortgage payments, and results in your home being cash flow positive which creates real wealth that can supplement your income. sources:www.homeownership.ca; www.genworth.ca
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4 Credit Score Myths Busted - Myth 4

4/1/2013

1024x768 Myth 4: I will not qualify for a mortgage if Ive had a poor creditscore. Truth: Lenders look at your entire financial picture, includingyour assets, available cash flow, and debt-to-income ratio. Theyll also reviewyour housing expense-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your expectedmonthly mortgage payment with your gross monthly income. Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}Source: News Canada Normal 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}
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4 Credit Score Myths Busted - Myth 3 & 4

4/1/2013

1024x768 Myth 3: Paying cash boosts your score. Truth: You need to use credit in order to demonstrate your ability to make payments. Using credit at least once every 30 days and making payments on time will keep you in good standing. Myth 4: I will not qualify for a mortgage if I've had a poor credit score.Truth: Lenders look at your entire financial picture, including your assets, available cash flow, and debt-to-income ratio. They'll also review your housing expense-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your expected monthly mortgage payment with your gross monthly income. Source: News Canada Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Normal 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}
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4 Credit Score Myths Busted - Myth 2

4/1/2013

1024x768 Myth 2: You can't make up for mistakes such as late payments. Truth: It takes time, but your credit will become positive as you build consistency with timely payments. How much time it will take depends on a number of factors, including how long the 'late payment' has been on your record and how long you've had the debt. Myth 3: Coming to you on Monday... Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}Source: News Canada Normal 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}
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4 Credit Score Myths Busted - Myth 1

4/1/2013

1024x768 Myth 1: You must use major credit cards to build a good score. Truth: If you're unable to obtain a major credit card, there are other ways to build your credit history. Making regular payments on installment loans such as a car lease can positively affect your score, as do department-store cards and secure credit cards, which require a cash deposit in the amount of the credit limit. Myth 2: Coming to you on Thursday... Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}Source: News Canada Normal 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}
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100% Financing Still Alive?

2/26/2013

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 You may be thinking..Didn't Ottawa stop this? Well you would be right. CMHC insured 100% financing stopped back in 2008. Home buyers with little savings could have used the cash-back mortgage option. In this case, the lender would provide a 5% down payment with 95% financing, in exchange for a higher rate. Ultimately this was still 100% financing. Recently, regulators eliminated banks from offering cash back for down payments. However, these changes only affected federally regulated lenders. Provincial lenders, like credit unions, can still offer them and its unclear for how long this will last. This program is not for everyone. Purchasing a home without your own down payment is risky. One exception is when a borrower is well-qualified (apart from the down payment), can with stand a loss of income and falling home prices, and is better off owning than renting. Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 There are 2 things to for a potential homeowner to remember in this situations: Buying a home without your own money should be carefully considered, and qualifying for a mortgage does not mean it can be successfully managed. /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}
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Breaking News...Higher qualifying rates are here!

11/1/2012

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Effective November 1st, as a result of recent regulatory requirements, mortgage lenders have implemented changes to the qualifying rate for Conventional mortgages (20% down or more). Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Five-year variable rate conventional mortgages or conventional mortgages with terms lessthan five years now require that the borrower qualify based on the greater ofthe Bank of Canada five-year benchmark rate (currently 5.24%) or the contractrate applicable to the term chosen. For terms of five years or more, thequalifying rate is the contract rate. /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;} If you have any questions, please feel free to contact AdrianWilliams at 416-562-2958 or adrian@premieremortgage.ca /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;}
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New mortgage rules coming July 9th, 2012

6/21/2012

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:#0400;mso-fareast-language:#0400;mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has announced the fourth round of mortgage restrictions. Those homeowners and homebuyers with less than 20% equity will: have a max. amortization of 25 years (used to be 30 yrs) be able to refinance their mortgage to 80% of the property value (used to be 85%) Additional government changes will: Limit the maximum debt service ratios Eliminate mortgage insurance on properties over $1 million. The above initiatives are in addition to pending OSFI changes which will dampen demand even further. (OSFI’s final guidelines are expected later today.) Globe Mail article Financial Post article
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Average House Prices a Misleading Gauge of the Health of the Canadian Real Estate Market: CIBC

7/20/2011

Average House Prices a Misleading Gauge of the Health of the Canadian Real Estate Market: CIBC TORONTO,July 7, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canadian housing market is becoming highly segmented and multi-dimensional which is making traditional measures, like average prices, increasingly irrelevant in gauging the health and state of the sector, finds a new report from CIBC World Markets Inc. Glancing at popular metrics such as the price-to-income ratio or the price-to-rent ratio, it is tempting to conclude that the housing market is already in clear bubble territory and a huge crash is inevitable, writes Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC, in his latest Consumer WatchCanada report. Tempting, but probably wrong. When it comes to the Canadian real estate market at this stage of the cycle, any statement based on average numbers can be hugely misleading. The truth is buried in the details—and there the picture is still not pretty, but much less alarming. He notes that while the average house price inCanada rose 8.6 per cent on a year-over-year basis in May, that number slows to 5.6 per cent if you takeVancouver out of the picture. RemoveVancouver andTorontoand the average price increase drops to 3.7 per cent. By digging into the details on the high profileVancouver market he found that the gap between average and median prices is reaching an all-time high. While the average house price climbed 25.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis to more than$800,000 in May, he found that by removing properties that sold for more than a$1 million there was a much more moderate price appreciation in the market. It also reduced the average sale price by$220,000 to just over$590,000. What makesVancouver abnormal is the high end of its property market, saysMr. Tal. And in this context many, including Bank ofCanada GovernorMark Carney, point the finger at foreign—mainly Asian wealth—as the main driver here. Data on the extent of the role that Asian investors have played inVancouver housing prices is quite limited.Mr. Tal's analysis of data obtained from Landcor Data Corporation suggests that only 10 per cent of the nearly 4,500 transactions involving foreign money over the past five years were above the$1 million mark, with an average purchasing price of just under$600,000. According to the information provided by Landcor, foreign money accounted for only 2.6 per cent of all sales during the same period. However,Mr. Tal believes that could be a serious underestimate, as it is based on where property tax assessments are mailed, and would exclude offshore buying on behalf of children or other local proxies. There are many reasons to believe that a significant portion of what is perceived to be buying by offshore investors is, in fact, driven by Chinese immigrants that are integrated into the community but still maintain strong links to mainlandChina, with many residing and working inChina while their family establishes roots in B.C. Looking beyond the average price numbers reveals a highly segmented and multi-dimensional market that is probably influenced by different forces, saysMr. Tal. But even a multi-dimensional market can overshoot—and the likelihood is that prices in the Canadian market and its sub-segments are higher than what can be explained by factors such as income growth, rent and household formation. Given that, the housing market will eventually correct. The only question is what will be the mechanism of that correction. Mr. Tal feels the price correction inCanada will be gradual as the two key triggers for a price crash - a significant and quick increase in interest rates and/or a high-risk mortgage market that is very sensitive to changes in economic factors - are not at play inCanada. InCanada, a sharp and brisk tightening cycle is unlikely. The market expects a gradual increase in short-term rates in the coming years. The rising number of mortgage holders that carry a variable rate mortgage will be the first to feel the pain. But if history is any guide, they will return quickly to the comfort of a five-year fixed rate the minute the Bank ofCanada starts hiking. He also believes that the country is in relatively good shape when assessing the two sub-segments of the mortgage market that traditionally account for most defaults: mortgage holders that carry a debt-service ratio of more than 40 per cent and those with less than 20 per cent equity in their house. Just over six per cent of households have a debt service ratio of more than 40 per cent—a number that has risen by a full percentage point since 2008. However, this ratio is still well below the ratio seen in 2003, when the effective interest rate on debt was more than a full percentage point higher, and no correction in house prices ensued, addsMr. Tal. All other things being equal, even a 300-basis-points rate hike by the Bank ofCanada would take this ratio to only just over eight per cent. Not surprisingly,Vancouver has the highest ratio of households with high debt-service ratio, followed byToronto. A little more than 17 per cent of the Canadian residential real estate pool is in properties with less than a 20 per cent equity position, a number that has been rising over the past few years. More than 80 per cent of households with less than a 20 per cent equity position are first time buyers. Digging deeper and looking at the households withboth low equity positions and high debt-service ratios, we found that this fragile segment of the market accounts for only 4.6 per cent of total mortgages—a number that has been on an upward trend over the past few years, saysMr. Tal. Shock the system with a 300-basis-points rate hike and that number would rise to a still-tempered 6.5 per cent. Historically, even in that group, the default rate has been well below one per cent. Thus, short of a huge macro shock, there does not appear to be the risk of large scale forced selling that would typically be the trigger for a precipitous plunge in the national average house price. As a result, while house prices are likely to adjust as interest rates eventually climb, the national pace of any correction is likely to be gradual. That could still entail a period in which housing underperforms other assets as an investment class, until rising incomes and a tame price trajectory bring the market back to equilibrium. The complete CIBC World Markets report is available at:http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/cw-20110707.pdf.
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